Changed By A Prayer

I love to hear other people pray.  From listening to others, I’ve learned about “how to pray,” and I think you can learn a lot about the individual when you hear them pray.  I have to say I was too intimidated to pray out loud in a group for a long time.  Eventually, I came to understand that I needed to relax and just talk to Him.  It’s not about impressing Him or others.  It’s simply sharing from my heart to His.
Growing up in a very secular home environment, my conscious regard for prayer was virtually non-existent.  I had little expectation that there was anyone or anything “up there” listening to me, or paying any attention to me for that matter.  I felt I was pretty much on my own, and that aside from my family members and a couple of friends, the world around me would be mostly unaware of my existence.  After all, who would care about an insignificant creature like me? There was nothing special about me.  I didn’t possess any special abilities or talents.  I hadn’t accomplished anything that tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of others couldn’t do.  What right did I have to expect anyone, outside of my family, to even notice me?  None.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world.” Ephesians 2:1
I do have a faint recollection of being shuttled off to the local United Church in the village near our home on Sunday mornings.  I went with my younger brother and my buddy next door.  I’m not certain when it started, or how long this practice lasted, but deep inside me there is some faint memory of a musty church basement classroom, other children and sanitized Bible lessons created especially for us.  I believe it was likely from this experience that in high school as I began to consider concepts such as infinity, time and eternity, I rationalized that there must be something more to this journey than the expected physical existence of 80 odd years of life on this planet.  Provided I managed to avoid accidental death or a medical misfortune of some kind, of course.  There had to be more.  Didn’t there?
“For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.“ Romans 1:20
After marriage and 4 years of occasional church attendance, the faithful witness of a number of Christians in the family, and the birth of our first son, I was believing that God was real, Jesus was His Son and that the Bible was true.  I thought I should straighten out my life before making the life-changing decision to submit to Jesus’ Lordship of my life.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10
Try as I might, I failed.  I couldn’t change my life in my own strength.  Finally I gave up, and surrendered to Jesus.  I didn’t instantly feel any different, so I asked, “How do I know this is real?  How do I know Jesus lives in me?”  My friend suggested that as I pray, I could ask Him to do something for me that would show me that He’s “there.”  So, I prayed for the first time, “Jesus change me.  I’ve tried, I can’t.  Show me you’re real and you’re with me, please.”
God was extremely gracious to me that day!  He changed me in a way that I knew could only be His doing!  He proved to me He was real, He was with me, and he heard my prayer!  What a realization!  I knew I could NEVER deny the reality of His existence and His love for me!
“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9
That answered prayer has stuck with me for a lifetime and has been what I cling to when struggles come and when doubts have crept in.  Prayer has been so meaningful and foundational as I’ve grown in my faith and understanding.  Has God answered “yes” to every prayer request since?  No way.  He’s far too merciful, kind and generous to allow me to wreck what He wants to do through me.  I know He hears me though, and that makes all the difference.  He is free to do with me what He decides is best, and that’s more than okay with me.
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.” Psalm 34:15
More than 40 years later, and I’m still amazed that God not only knows me but He cares enough to hear from me.  In fact, He WANTS to hear from me!  The Creator and Sustainer of ALL things!  Whoa… it blows my mind to know this! How could you not want to “snuggle up” to a Friend like that?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
I really enjoy being part of the Prayer Gathering every Wednesday evening.  We spend an hour together sharing requests, reading and praying through some Scriptures, worshiping through song, and then we break into small groups to pray together.  It really is one of the hi-lights of my week.
Sound interesting?  Shoot me an email or call me at the office.  I can hook you up.
Pastor Drew

Workout Warriors

You have to admire those who are workout warriors! They are a special breed of people who get up early in the morning, head off to the gym, and endure exhausting physical exercise to improve their physical well-being. They tend to watch what they eat to ensure a balanced, healthy intake of nutrients that will fuel their activities. They keep their bodies well hydrated, and they know how much rest they need to recover. In short, they embrace discipline, perseverance, and determination to see the kind of results that the rest of us only dream about.

The Christian life also requires discipline, perseverance, and determination to see the kind of results that bring spiritual well-being. As in the physical realm, all the good intentions and wishes in the world will not make any difference without discipline, perseverance, and determination. Sitting in front of a monitor screen watching TV all day and night will not improve anyone’s physique. In fact, it will probably ruin it! Likewise, those who discipline themselves to rise early or stay up late to spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer, who persevere in the spiritual disciplines, and who are determined to carry out Christ’s mission in the world are most likely to make the greatest impact for God’s kingdom.

In 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul acknowledged the limited value of physical exercise while stressing that spiritual exercise – or godliness – is of greater value. Why? Because physical exercise has some benefit in this life but will not carry over into eternity. No matter how fit a person is, age will begin to limit their activities. But spiritual exercise holds promise in this life and the next. Therefore, it would be vain to be physically fit but spiritually unfit. And the lessons learned from physical exercise are transferrable to spiritual exercise to help us grow into maturity.

For this reason, we have a City Centre Baptist Church People Path to equip believers for Christian living, service, and mission in the world. Everyone has a next step in their spiritual journey, and we want to come alongside each one of you to help you keep moving forward. Our goal, as the Apostle Paul noted in Colossians 1:28, is to present everyone mature in Christ. This will require of us discipline, perseverance, and determination on our part, and, as always, full faith in the Holy Spirit to shape us into the image of Christ.

I encourage you to get involved in one of our People Path classes, Small Groups, Women’s or Men’s Bible Studies, or Evergreen Seniors activities to connect with others who are also pursuing spiritual fitness. It is always better to exercise with others because camaraderie inspires us to join in, keep going, and never quit. Fellow workout warriors in spiritual activities help us maintain our discipline, perseverance, and determination. So, let’s get fit together!
Pastor Brad