Praying Audaciously…Now What (February 2016 Newsletter)

Last month, I wrote about praying audaciously, looking at Jesus’ prayers from John 17.  It ended with a challenge to prayer big, tough, audacious prayers throughout the month of January.  If you want a refresher of that article, you can click here to read it again.  This month, I want to follow up on that article.  We’ve talked a lot this past month about prayer, and have even partnered together to pray over all aspects of Central Christian Church for 24-Hours straight.  Prayer is an important part of our relationship with Christ, but we can’t treat it like prayer is the only thing that we should be doing.  One of the things that I have noticed in my own life, and in the lives of those that I am close to, we are either really good at praying, but not following that up with action, or we don’t take time to pray, but we’re really good at jumping to action right away.  Neither of those are the best that we should be doing.

Take for example the prayers of Jesus in John 17(click here for a refresher).  Jesus prayed and prayed hard at that time.  He was hours away from going to the cross.  Actually, all four gospels record some version of His prayer that night(Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22).  He not only took time to pray for His disciples and for all of us that would eventually come to know and follow Him, He was praying that God’s will be done.  He didn’t want to go to the cross.  In fact, Luke’s account of His time in the garden praying says that Jesus was so stressed over what He knew was coming, He was literally sweating blood.  It would have been easy for Jesus to pray, and just think that was enough.  To walk away because He did what He thought was enough, and prayed about something that was bothering Him.  We do that a lot.  But He didn’t do that.

He prayed and then He went out and did what He had to do.  He didn’t just leave it at prayer.  He put the physical effort in and He went to the cross.  And we should all be so glad that He did.  That was God’s will, and Jesus put in the work to complete the task that God had given Him.  If He had just left it at prayer, and then walked away because He didn’t think He needed to do anything else, the sacrifice for our sins would not have been completed. 

Other scriptures speak to this, but the first one that comes to mind when I was thinking through this was James 2:14-26.  James is talking about faith vs. deeds, but I think it can easily be seen as prayer vs. work as well.  So in other words, what is prayer without putting some work in at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to pray, and He is more than capable of handling the situations that we pray about.  Sometimes, however, by allowing us to work at the things we are praying for, He uses that to help us grow in those areas and in our faith. 

In the article last month, I mentioned an author and preacher by the name of Mark Batterson, and his book The Circle Maker, all about praying big prayers.  One of my favorite Batterson quotes, and I can’t remember which of his books it’s int (probably in multiple), is this; “Pray like it depends on God, but work at it like it depends on you.”  That’s my challenge to you this month, and it will be a main focus of our teaching times over the next few weeks as well.  Put the time in praying, but don’t be afraid to put the work in either.  God doesn’t want us to just sit idly by after we’ve prayed.  He wants us to do the work as well.

So, think about that big prayer or prayers that you’ve been praying over the last month (if you haven’t been praying those big prayers yet, it’s not too late).  Keep praying those prayers.  Pray bolder prayers.  Then ask yourself, “What can I do to help bring about the results of the prayers that I have been praying?”  And then do it.  Figure out what needs to happen on your end, keep praying, and then do the work!  Let’s all get out there and put in the work to reach this community for Christ.

Let’s Get Serious About The Presence of God (February Newsletter)

It is no secret, whatsoever, that I plan to focus on Spiritual maturity and depth over the coming year, for myself, and for our faith family.  That’s what our current series of “Not a Fan” is all about.  Becoming a truly committed follower of Jesus, and then growing in Him.  So, we started off the year with a series designed to start the conversation of what a true follower looks like.  There are still two more sermons in this series, but where do we go from there?  What is the next step after we decide to become a completely committed follower of Jesus?  As I have stated, it’s not just a one time decision.  It takes making the decision daily to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  And there are going to be days where we fail, but we have to try and make that a daily decision.

So, what’s next?  Starting February 15, we are going into a four part series on Spiritual disciplines.  I know that at first glance, that may not sound exciting, especially since it has the word discipline in it.  I get it, but have you ever put any thought into what Spiritual disciplines actually are?  If you want a little head start with where we are going, we are going to be using Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline as our jumping off point for this study.  Foster breaks the disciplines down into three categories, so we will be tackling our series this way.  The first week will be a general study of what Spiritual disciplines are, and why they are important.  And then we will take Fosters three categories, one each week. 

This will be a very generally study, as we could spend a couple of months or more on them if we took each individual discipline by themselves.  Foster’s three categories are “The Inward Disciplines (Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study)”, “The Outward Disciplines (Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service)”, and “The Corporate Disciplines (Confession, Worship, Guidance, Celebration)”.  In his introductory chapter to the disciplines, Foster states;

Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people…Joy is the keynote of all the Disciplines.  The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear.

Kit Dotson, a friend from Tennessee says this about the importance of Spiritual disciplines;

The importance and beauty of spiritual disciplines is that in practicing them, we are intentionally aware of the presence of God.  They do not bring us into the presence of God because He is constantly present.  To often though, we find ourselves going hours, days, or weeks with no awareness or thought of the creator of the universe who loved us and sent His Son to die for us.  When we are forgetful, we tend to wander.  When we are aware of the amazing presence of God, we have the hope that we will be transformed.  Spiritual disciplines are intentional opportunities for us to live in full awareness of God and be changed to look more like His Son.

I hope that this short introduction to Spiritual disciplines helps you get interested to learn more.  Foster’s book, The Celebration of Discipline is one of many books if it’s something you would be interested in learning more about the subject.

          Because of Him, Kraig B.

Urban Legends

*Newsletter article for November 2014 at Central Christian Church*

As we enter into the month of November, we have two more Sundays in our Joseph series.  Looking ahead, I am starting to get really excited about the next series coming  up.  We are going to be starting a series called “Urban Legends: Debunking Spiritual Myths” on November 16.  The idea behind this series is that there are myths and urban legends about Christianity that are seen as truths, that simply aren’t true.  “Do you know someone who’s seen Bigfoot’s tracks? What about Nessie in Loch Ness? Of course, almost every kid has learned that there really are alligators in the sewer. You know how it goes: someone sees something and tells someone who then tells someone else. On and on and on it goes until its hard to separate fact from fiction. This doesn’t just happen with alligators and Bigfoot… it happens with spiritual truths as well. Join us as we separate fact from fiction and debunk spiritual myths.” We are going to take four weeks to look at some of these urban legends, and look at what scripture actually says about them.

We have been talking a lot recently about trying to impact our community and city of Carlsbad.  One of the simplest forms of evangelism is inviting someone to come to church that doesn’t already go.  Any week is a great time to do this, but this series especially would be a great place for someone with no recent church background to start out.  We will be examining topics such as “There are Many Ways to God”, “God Wants Us to Be Happy”, “God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle” and other spiritual myths along the way.  This would be a great series to invite your neighbor or coworker to.