I have spoken way too many words in my prayers to God over the years. Fortunately, as C.S.Lewis reminds us, God retains the power and to refuse our prayers, knowing now easily we could destroy ourselves (God in the Dock, pp.106-107). Do not be quick with your mouth…God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few (Eccl.5:2). And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words (Matt. 6:7). I will stand at my watch and station myself at the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me (Habbakuk 2:1). Proverbs reminds us that even a fool is thought wise if he is silent. I am beginning to realize this applies to talking with Him as well.
My prayer life has widened over the years. Daily silence and stillness before the Lord remains foundational for me. Yet now, I find myself additionally drawn to “the prayer of groaning” (I am not sure what else to call it). Scripture teaches that “the whole creation groans as in the pains of childbirth. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Rom. 8:22-26). The longer I follow Jesus, the more aware I am of my limitations. The needs around us are staggering – globally, nationally, locally, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in ourselves. Paul is right: “We don’t know what to pray.” Try allowing the Spirit to groan in and through you today as you carry different people or situations to the healing waters of the love of Jesus. Allow the groans to come. This “prayer of groaning” may be the kind of leadership He. Read more.
“Unspeakable horror” is the best phrase to capture the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. 26 people killed, 20 of whom were only 6-7 years old. There are no words to say. We pray for the victims, their families, the shooter’s family, and all those affected. We grieve with them. We join the three friends of Job as they arrive after innocent Job suffers his unspeakable horrors and longs to die. Scripture tells us that his friends “began to weep aloud…Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). God invites us to be silent before this massacre, acknowledging the severe limits of our understanding. Our God is good. He is alive on the earth hidden amidst all of history’s unspeakable horrors. Let us remember the three friends got themselves. Read more.
Stopping 3-4 times a day and cultivating rhythms to be with God each day out of which we serve Him is foundational to our staff life at New Life. The following is Geri’s midday prayer handout that she led the staff through this past Wednesday. Savor it before the Lord during one of your Offices (pauses) during the day. There are actually five movements of Lectio Divina: Silentio–Preparing to be read by God. Lectio – Ingesting the Word Meditatio – Wrestling with God Oratio –Letting God know how we feel Contemplatio – Abandoning ourselves to God in love Incarnatio – The Word becoming flesh in us. Lets now, together do each of these overlapping phases togetherSilentio 1 min. Lectio – Ingesting the Word My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions. . Read more.
When I became a Christian my sophomore year in college, I was birthed into a community (IVCF) that linked the gospel and the bridging of racial, economic and cultural barriers. It was not a specific “calling” for some but a biblical mandate that filled us with visiona and hope. I see the Holy Spirit moving in a similar way today as large numbers of young people are passionate to build multicultural churches that demonstrate the power of the gospel. When Geri and I planted New Life Fellowship Church 22 years ago, we chose Elmhurst/Corona, Queens, as a strategic location for the church due to the fact that individuals from more than 120 nations live in the area. In addition, the neighborhood consisted then, as it does now, of poor, working, and middle-class New Yorkers. So while we recognized the benefits of such a location and desired to bridge the racial, cultural, and economic barriers for. Read more.
After another couple of weeks of pondering and passing this around our staff team for a second round of discussions, here is a second, more precise listings of our learnings. This is a living document, borne out of twenty-one years of labor, mistakes, and fruitful suffering. For this reason, I am prayerfully re-reading these lessons with a healthy reverence before God. 1. Character is more important than gifting. The power of God really is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we have overlooked issues of character, and humility in particular, we have paid a price. 2. Do not rush. When decisions were made quickly, without pausing to pray, think and proces implications, we have had regrets. Seeing the Promised Land without seeing the pillar of cloud and fire is foolishness. 3. Leaders need to take responsibility and initiative for their own growth and development. As leaders invest time in personal growth and development, they shape all those who look. Read more.