Tonight at 6:00, the Central Baptist family will join together to prayer walk in some of our surrounding neighborhoods. This is the start of our 1st Wednesday Prayer Walking ministry. While it is starting as a monthly ministry, my hope is that our people will see its effectiveness and we’ll do it even more down the road.
I’m thankful for those who are helping organize this ministry. As we met to brainstorm and plan, the intention was clear: we believe God will bless and bring opportunity through our efforts to pray for our neighbors.
Here’s why our church is starting a prayer walking ministry:
- We believe prayer is commanded by God (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
- We believe churches should be houses of prayer (Is. 56:7; Matt. 21:13)
- We believe we are to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)
- We believe that we should intercede for others, and that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t know what to pray (1 Tim. 2:1; Rom. 8:26)
Our hope, then, is that going into our neighborhoods will increase our opportunities to pray for, witness to, and serve our neighbors, effectively loving them. We want to be a house of prayer where people know that we love them enough to lift them up before our Father in Heaven.
You Might also like
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
When the cat is away, the mice will play. This cliche is seen in the last chapters of Judges, and we tend to live according to it when we do not think there is an authority in our lives.
A great example of this is at the end of the book of Judges (ch.17-21). It begins with Micah and his mother in “The hill country of Ephraim”—not a new location in Judges:
- It is the place of Joshua’s burial (2:9);
- Ehud sounded his trumpet there (3:27);
- Deborah held court there (4:5); and
- Gideon sent messengers there to call up the men of Ephraim to go against the Midianites (7:24).
Look how different it is by the end of Judges though! The phrase “there was no king in Israel” occurs three times in chapters 17-21 (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). When there is no king, people will do what is right in their own eyes. In other words, they will become their own kings or submit themselves to all kinds of other kings.
We see a natural desire for worship in Micah and his mother, and we share this natural desire.
The short story—Micah had stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother but returned it to her. Her response: “. . . I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. . .” (Judges 17:3, ESV)
Do you see anything in her response that doesn’t make sense? This shows how far off the Israelites had come in their thinking and beliefs–Micah’s mother would dedicate the silver to the Lord IN ORDER FOR it to be made into a carved image and a metal image. The 2nd commandment directly forbids this: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4, ESV)
But Micah wasn’t done there:
- v.5- he sets up a shrine, which is essentially is “the house of God.” This is an abomination because there was only one house of God at that time and it was in Shiloh, which is even noted in Judges 18:31.
- v.5- he sets up his son as a private priest. First, priests are to be public, not just for one person. Second, is his son even qualified?
- v.7-13. Maybe Micah did realize the qualification part of this, even though he didn’t care, because he finds a Levite and asks him to be his priest.
Levites were the priestly class of Israelites, so Micah got that right. But God was not Micah’s authority, and his confusion is revealed in Judges 17:13: “Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.’”
Not only did Micah’s mother dedicate the silver to the Lord to be used to make idols, but Micah presumed upon God’s blessing of his ungodly decision to create a place of worship outside of Shiloh with carved images and idols.
They naturally desired a god: something to rule over them, look up to, and try to please. People today share the same natural desire to worship by setting up their own places of worship and idols (whether physically or mentally).
Why would people do this? Let me offer two reasons:
- All people are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), meaning at least that people have a soul and are able to have a personal relationship with God. In other words, every person is created to glorify and worship God, and when they don’t worship God, that longing to worship is still there. Instead of worshipping who they were created to worship, though, people will create all kinds of idols and other pursuits to fill that void that can only be satisfied in God.
- The law of God is written on people’s hearts. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14–15, ESV). Because people are made in the image of God, we naturally have the law of God written on our hearts. There is a general sense of right from wrong in every person, though sin can so horribly cauterize the ability to discern the difference. As John Piper said, people “. . . have enough knowledge of the moral law of God in their hearts by virtue of being created in God’s image so that their consciences are conflicted: sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving.” So, people are naturally pursuing morality, and that will lead to some kind of religion in their life.
Are you naturally desiring the One True God, or is your natural desire to worship misdirected?Post Views: 694
By Ryan Strother — 3 years ago
Don’t miss the simple, obvious truths when you read the Bible. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Some might ask: how is Jesus’ yoke easy and his burden light? They might equate Jesus’ yoke with unattainable religious rules that restrain their freedom.
Here’s the simple, obvious truth: Jesus’ yoke is easy because you are yoked to Jesus.
One alternate yoke is religious regulations.
The context of the passage in Matthew 11 is Jesus talking about salvation. At that time, Jewish people sought salvation and the pursuit of righteousness by keeping God’s Law. The Pharisees had deceived people into playing the part of being outwardly religious while being morally rotten on the inside (Matt. 23:27-28).
Romans 8:3 tells us that God did what the Law could not do–sending His Son to condemn sin in the flesh so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled. So, while the Mosaic Law had its purpose, Jesus’ work on the cross is necessary for us to become righteous.
Some people are religious but are relying on their own strength to get by in this world. Man-made rules cannot fully restrain your sinful desires and can not fulfill or satisfy you. That’s a burdensome yoke.
Another alternate yoke is sin’s bondage.
All people are born into sin; therefore, all are in bondage to sin until they trust in Jesus to save them. John tells us that God’s commands are not burdensome because everyone who has been born of God (saved) has overcome the world (1 John 5:3-4).
In other words, if you are saved by Christ, you now live free from the bondage of sin and live in the freedom Christ offers to pursue righteousness. It’s like John is saying, you already know a burdensome yoke–the bondage of sin in the ways of this world–and Jesus frees you from that!
If you think God’s commands are burdensome, then you do not understand the futile burdens of the world’s ways. Yet we open ourselves and willingly yoke ourselves to them. That’s a burdensome yoke.
Jesus’ Yoke Is Easy
He did the work to make us righteous and He enables us to live in freedom from sin through the Holy Spirit. A yoke was used to keep animals in step together to accomplish a purpose. You are always moving closer toward eternity as you navigate life. The question you need to ask is what yoke am I wearing to find eternal significance in my life?
You can choose difficult yokes: religious demands or the world’s ways. Or you can choose Jesus, who accomplished what you could not (your redemption from sin) and who gives you what you do not have (strength from the Holy Spirit), so that you can navigate life in freedom and with a great hope lying ahead. That’s an easy yoke.Post Views: 1,259
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
Higher-impact vocabulary and illustrations.
When you take time to write everything out, you can more carefully craft your words for greater impact than if you get up there with some main ideas from bullet points.
RG Lee, long-time pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, was known as a master orator and wordsmith. For example, his famous “Payday Someday” sermon included the line, “I introduce to you Ahab, the vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation.”
The same goes for illustrations–manuscripting forces you to take time to think through every part of the sermon, even the illustrations. I know some preachers who are skilled at giving illustrations off the cuff, but I tend to think through mine beforehand if they are actually going to help people connect the doctrinal truth to the illustration.
People might better remember those well-crafted lines and thoughtful illustrations, which hopefully leads to better memory of the meaning of the passage being preached.
Reduces the likelihood of Speaking Tics.
I used to create a bulleted outline with main points and then sub-bullets. But when time comes to actually preach, if you haven’t thought through all of your words, then you’re more likely to let out those tics. Mine were uh and right?. Listening to my sermon recordings and manuscripting helped fix that (I’m not perfect but its better!).
Creates smoother transitions between points.
Similar to higher-impact vocabulary, manuscripting makes transitions between main points smoother and easier for the listener to distinguish. I remember listening to sermons growing up and then wondering what did he just preach? Some of that is the listener’s fault, but sometimes it is the preacher’s fault for not giving clear navigation throughout the sermon. Manuscripting forces you to think through the introduction and conclusion to make them effective.
When I was using bulleted lists, I didn’t focus well on the intro or conclusion. I would just sometimes start by saying, we’re looking at Matthew 12:1-6 today so turn there and let’s go. Yikes! Thankfully, far better ways of introducing a sermon exist.
Allows the message to marinate longer to increase effective delivery.
In a normal week, I’ve got the manuscript for Sunday finished by Thursday, which allows for plenty of time to be thinking on it. I don’t memorize manuscripts and just read them, but manuscripting allows it to be pretty well ingrained in my brain by Sunday.
One Sunday morning, I placed my iPad (I use to display my manuscript) down and another church leader placed his stuff on mine. He had a similar looking device and accidentally took my iPad. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it until I got up to preach and it was too late to get it. But the sermon content had marinated enough by then that I knew where I was going and I trusted the Holy Spirit to do his work.
Ease of Reference for Future Study.
I am able to look back quickly on how I handled a certain verse or when I used that illustration. I nearly treat it like writing a paper in that I usually put citations in my manuscripts so I can see where I got a definition or a quote. It is also nice to be able to pull up a manuscript in short notice to preach if needed. Maybe you’re filling in for somewhere who got sick at the last minute or you’re on a mission trip and the unexpected opportunity comes. You can quickly pull up a manuscript from a previous sermon, review it, and preach away!
How have you found manuscripting beneficial?Post Views: 1,488