Monthly Archives: March 2012

Receiving Prayer

Last Sunday night I participated in the City-wide Prayer Summit. It was a wonderful gathering of over 10 churches meeting to worship and pray together. It was fun to be a part of something that spanned several denominations. One of the components of the evening was a time of prayer for the pastors who were there. The facilitator asked us to stand and those seated around us prayed for us.

As I was being prayed for, a couple thoughts went through my head. The first one was how much I appreciate having someone else lift me up to Jesus. The second thought was how humbling it is to have someone else lift me up to Jesus.

Before you think I’m really confused, let me explain. Receiving prayer is one of the most powerful blessings a person can receive. There is a sense where one can simply relax, stop striving, struggling, and allow the prayers of others to lift you to the throne. It’s also a wonderful affirmation of personhood—that I exist and am worthy of someone’s time and attention (and of God’s care).

At the same time, being prayed for is also difficult. Thoughts about others who are more worthy and who need prayer more badly than I do flow through my head. I’m not in control when others are praying and if I’m honest, I want to be in control.

What is it about us as human beings (or is it North Americans?) that makes it difficult to receive things from another person? Is it because we’ve been taught at an early age to stand on our own, to rely on no one but ourselves (or maybe our family), and that we shouldn’t be a “bother” to anyone?

Recently, I heard about a church member who had been in the hospital for a number of days. Their condition had been fairly serious, but they had refused to let anyone at the church know. Their reason? “I didn’t want to bother anyone.”

I know we all think that people are too busy and unfortunately pastors can also perpetuate that story by rushing here and there, filling our calendars with back to back appointments. It reinforces the illusion that someone in need of prayer is simply a bother.

I want to let you know that I don’t want to live with this philosophy. I want to be a pastor who has time for you, who is willing to come and pray just like I was prayed for last Sunday. I want to be known as a pastor who prays and is willing to give and receive prayer.

Pastor Rick Bartlett

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Joseph Kony 2012

If you have anything to do with social media, you’ll know that the biggest thing online right now is not the presidency, sports, or anything else that we pour too much time and energy into.

For the first time in quite a while, facebook and twitter are blowing up over something that is important, but it has been going on for years.  When I say years, I mean it’s been happening since I was in diapers.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, please take 30 minutes and watch this video.

There are so many questions that I have after watching the video:

Why are we just finding out about this atrocity?

What is my role in participation?

What is our role as Christians?  As the Church?

How can he justify his actions?  Does he even have a conscience?

There are certain things in life that sometimes we want to forget about.  In all honesty, we want to “un-see” them.  Why?  There can be many reasons.  It’s because our guilt takes over.  It’s because we don’t have time to care about things that are so far away and don’t effect the way we live our life on a day-to-day basis.  It’s because we’ve exceeded our “spiritual bandwagon” things to do for the year.  It’s because it doesn’t let us be apathetic.

As American’s, our bubble is good and safe.  It’s the “American Dream”.  It’s our house, picket fence, trophy wife and kids.  Our bubble does not let things like this come in.  We push them away because they are hard and it disrupts our life.  My question is this:

What do we do when our “American Dream” is disrupted?

As a follower of Christ, I try and orient my life around things Jesus said and did.  And as I’m reading through the New Testament, I see Jesus constantly caring about those who are not able to help themselves.  I see him doing something about the injustice in the lives of people.  I see him loving those who need to be loved.

Since this video was posted, there have been just as many people critiquing this video and “Invisible Children” as there are people who want to make a change.  Just the other night, the co-founder was dealing with health issues that apparently caused him to do some things he shouldn’t have.  What they’re doing isn’t perfect.  It just isn’t.  There’s no getting around it.  This post isn’t perfect and probably has a bunch of holes in it, but are we not going to do something about this just because it’s not perfect?  If that was the case, nothing would ever get done anywhere.

So what are we going to do?  Are we going to care?  Are we going to do something?

Tim Neufeld, my advisor at FPU, posted something on his facebook in response to the video that rang true in my heart.

The problem with creating awareness about any social issue via social media is that one might think tweeting or posting about the issue makes him or her an activist, and thus alleviates any guilt over the issue…  Activism is not only changing one’s beliefs but also orienting one’s lifestyle in a way that changes the unjust system causing the issue.

A part of me wants to think that by writing this blog post, that I’ve done my part.  I’ve hopefully made more people aware of this, and now they can inform more people, and we can do what the video says, “Make Joseph Kony famous”.  But if that’s where it ends, then I drastically need to change the way I think.  Writing this post doesn’t mean I’ve done my job.  Re-posting this on facebook doesn’t mean that everything is okay and that my conscience can be cleared because I did my part.

Writing something or saying something is great.  It is.  But it can’t stop there.

We have to do something.

We also have to pray.  We have to pray for these kids who are being forced to kill their parents.  We have to pray for these kids who don’t want to sleep because they are scared.  We have to pray for this evil man, that a miracle happens and that he stops.  We have to pray that we don’t become apathetic, and that we will in fact, do something.

Jason Kinzel

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Prepared to Engage

Finish the following sentence.  You can lead a horse to water…

Most of us know how this popular saying ends.  We see it played out time and again around us.  A young man I know has lost almost all his means of support.  His dad supplies him with all sorts of ideas to secure a job and reestablish his life.  His son would rather do it his own way and shrugs off his dad’s counsel.  We can set the stage for opportunity, but we can’t make another person take the plunge.

As a worship leader, I want to lead people to the Lord’s throne to give Him the worship He richly deserves.  As I plan, I consider the theme of the scripture to be preached, the music that fits that theme, other scripture that compliments the main text, and other resources that will help us express to the Lord our adoration and awe of Him.

Yet, no matter how well a service is planned, it won’t make anyone worship.  We have to choose to be worshippers.

I’m not questioning whether or not we worship at Bethany.  I believe we do.  I am going down this road for a different purpose.  I am actually asking you to think about how you engage in worship when we gather.   When you come to worship, are you ready to participate in worship?  Are you ready to drink in God’s beauty in that moment?  How would you see your readiness to be led and to engage in worship?

Coming to worship is a choice; engaging in worship is a separate choice.  Whether we like all the expressions of worship on a Sunday morning or not, we have opportunity to see the Lord at work in each move.  We may come with a heavy heart yet a new song we do not know helps us form prayers we need to speak.  As we listen to a brother or sister read Scripture, we can make note of one or two phrases that encourage or challenge us.   The missions video doesn’t just tell us a good story; it gives us thoughts of how we might learn to express God’s reign in our neighborhoods.

One thing I have asked the choir to do is to intentionally find a place where they connect with the songs we present and incorporate that connection into prayers or action.  This allows the song to be more than a performance.  The songs become a true expression of our hearts.

Each week, the stage is set for us to enter into God’s presence.  How will you engage this week?  How do you see yourself coming before the Lord in worship?  How will you prepare to meet with the Lord and His people this Sunday?

Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.
Psalm 95:5-6

Mike Spinelli

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