Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everyday Prayers

I continue to be challenged by the book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. He has obviously thought much more deeply about prayer than I ever have. He has also studied the life and teaching of Jesus about prayer.

I have come to the point that I no longer jump right in to pray for a given situation. I don’t know what to pray. I have to come before God and ask him about the need, the situation. “What do you want to happen, Lord?” Sometimes I still don’t know. Sometimes he leads me to a new understanding, and from that perspective, I can pray effectively.

But one of the most challenging statements from Murray is that we should be seeing answers to prayer every day. He doesn’t mean praying for general good health or for the sun to rise. He means specific answers to specific prayers every day.

It often strains my thinking to remember the last time I had a specific prayer answered. Yes, God provides for my family, he helps people mature in their faith. He helps our children mature and learn.

Then, too, Jesus has worked significant work in the lives of friends. Several people have been healed of cancer, one healed of kidney stones. God used our prayers to help two little children from Uganda come home to live with their adoptive parents in Winston-Salem, NC. God has always provided meeting space for our church, and we have regularly prayed about that.

But I can’t say that I see God answering specific prayers every day. I’m not there yet. That could be because I’m not praying about enough things. No doubt. It is also because I don’t yet know the mind of Christ well enough to know what to pray. As he shapes my thinking and understanding, my prayers are bound to become more effective.

Murray makes the point that most Christians believe that the fellowship found in prayer makes the effort worthwhile. But Jesus teaches that prayer is more than a sweet time of intimacy with God – as important as that is. But prayer is a means for accomplishing the work of God. The answers do matter.

Last night I prayed with my daughter that she would be relieved of her cold symptoms. This morning she is feeling good. Thank you, Lord. I’m willing to start small, so that God can build my faith. Maybe some day I will see daily answers to prayer. When we are so in touch with God and his work, he can use us to change the world.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Advice of Friends

I read that that the governor of New York has admitted soliciting the services of a call girl. That’s not good news. Apparently he has always given the impression that he lives morally.

His wife sounds like a wonderful woman. She is very intelligent, well educated and a devoted wife and mother. Her husband should be ashamed of himself, and he apparently is.

That is all tragic enough. But the press is also reporting that the wife’s friends are urging her to take her three children and leave the governor. Several things about this seem strange to me. First, what business do these friends have telling the press how they advise their friend? That should be a private matter between friends, not a headline on a news Web site.

Second, shouldn’t these friends encourage the wife to stay with her husband? If there had been a pattern of abusive, irresponsible behavior, that would be another matter. From the little I have read, this act of unfaithfulness doesn’t appear to be a pattern.

Third, shouldn’t the friends let the betrayed wife work through her own emotions, rather than dumping on her suggestions that she may not want to consider? A friend is someone who encourages you to do the right thing. A friend is someone who offers emotional support, helping you work through your own decisions.

Obviously I don’t know enough about the whole situation to condemn anything but the governor’s adulterous actions. It just surprised me to see how quickly the friends responded to the press to offer their opinions. And of course the press is eating it up. And, yes, I read the article…

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Parents' Night Out

Talk about win-win. Last Saturday night, our youth group hosted a “parents’ night out” at the Long House. From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. our youth group provided a fun place for kids to play, so that their parents could have a free evening. It was done as a fundraiser for the youth mission trip this summer, but it was a big time for all.

Most of the adults went out to eat together at a Brazilian steakhouse. This was a blast. We had about 28 adults in the party, so the restaurant gave us their special cellar room. Most of the people were not attenders at Crossroads, and only a few people knew everyone there. We just had a fun time laughing and dining together. I met several new people.

The restaurant has a great salad bar, from which one could easily make a meal. But the star attraction is the selection of meats. “Gauchos,” roam through the dining room with huge skewers bearing chunks of roast meat. They had various cuts of beef, plus pork, lamb, etc. They had about 16 different types of meat. The gauchos walk from person to person, offering to carve you off a slab of meat. It is an Atkins diet frenzy. All the protein you can consume.

This was especially fun for me because I had been to a similar restaurant in 1982 when I went on a mission trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, of course, the gauchos did not speak English, so we Americans had to guess what kind of meat was being served. The meal was a highlight of the trip. I did not even know until last week that we had a Brazilian steakhouse in Greensboro. We’ll certainly be going back.

When we picked up our children from the parents’ night out, they were all excited. Our teenager loves to play with kids, and so this was heaven to her. Our younger daughter also had a blast, probably doing more giving than receiving of babysitting services. “When are we going to do this again?” they wondered.

The evening was also a win for the youth group mission trip. They watched about 3 dozen kids and received $530 in donations for their trip to Indianapolis this summer.

I hope we do this again, not as a fundraiser, but simply as a ministry. Someone mentioned today that there is obviously a pent-up need for the service. This is a great way to share the love of Jesus with whole families. The kids have a blast and the parents get a break.

When God builds his kingdom, everybody wins. Only he can do that.