Prayer: Turn Down That Noise!

Randal Brewer, Stonepoint Member

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

John the Baptist was a well-known character among the Jews. He baptized. He taught. He had a following, which comes with followers. But he also understood who he was, and who he was, was not Jesus.

I’m not Jesus either, and I too must decrease so that He will increase. I’m not talking about my fame and following, because I don’t have one. I am talking about the volume in my head. I must decrease the volume of noise I make in my own head so that Jesus can increase; so that I can hear the voice of the Shepherd that I am to follow.

Isn’t that what He said? His sheep hear His voice? But the noise inside my head is so loud. I have so many things that I am concerned about. So many things to pray for. So many people. None of these things are bad, but they are all mine, and they squeak and clang and bump and whine, and until I can turn the volume down and ask God to tell me what’s on His mind, I won’t hear what I really need to be praying about.

How to turn down the volume? First by realizing that none of those things are really mine. Or yours. It all belongs to God. I think that’s what it means to lay things at the cross. My children are not really mine. They are God’s, and my control compared to His control is…silly to think about. Give your kids to God. He knows them better and loves them more. Oh, yes He does. You are not capable of conceiving of His love, let alone matching it.

That’s true about yourself as well. He knows you more than you know yourself and is incapable of giving bad gifts.

Are you praying for your church, or your church’s leadership, or a ministry within the church? Turn down the volume of all your thoughts about what is needed, or what should change, or how you can do something to help. Decrease yourself in the process and let us collectively increase Jesus as the leader of our church. He knows more and loves more than we ever can.

Father God, you know the concerns that we have. You know the hopes and dreams that we have for our families and our church. Help us to bundle all of these things into a tattered little hobo sack and lay them at the cross so that we can turn an attentive ear to your hopes and dreams for our families and your church. And when we hear, give us the wisdom to say yes and the courage to follow through in obedience. Amen.

Prayer: Distant Hope vs. Very Present Reality

Randal Brewer, Stonepoint Member

Every Christian is aware of the privilege God has given us to call on Him in prayer. Even people who do not call themselves Christians are aware of prayer and will try it out in a dire circumstance. Christians are guilty of the doing the same thing, exercising our 911 prayer muscles, calling on God in emergencies and then suffering a crisis of belief when we don’t receive what we asked for. Perhaps even worse are those of us that never really expect to get the answers we hope for.

God has provided such an honor and privilege to us, and He has made promises that He cannot break. He has set the power of his kingdom in our hearts and minds, yet we are failing so miserably to use it. We still believe what the Bible tells us about prayer. Our hopeful hearts love to hear stories of how other, more “Godly” persons have seen the miraculous come about after prayer. We want to see the miraculous in our own humdrum lives, yet we go through the motions on Sunday morning, our minds wandering and our hearts doubting anything will be different after the Amen is said. Some of us may even pray every day, but it is little more than a short walk in a well-worn path if memorized recitation. There is no hearing and there is no joy.

God is clear on His command that we pray and that our prayers are a time of communion with Him. There is no way to sugar coat this: our prayerlessness is a sin. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Wait. What was that? Wasn’t that Jesus talking? The flesh is weak. The disciples could not pray because their flesh was weak. So is mine. Admit it with me. When we hear that story in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are really on the disciple’s side on that, aren’t we? It was late and who wouldn’t fall asleep trying to pray for so long? Sure, Jesus could pray for an hour, because, well, he’s JESUS. I’m not. I’d be falling asleep right next to the disciples and Jesus’ request was a little unreasonable.

Now that we feel a little better after defending ourselves, let’s reexamine. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to have Christ inside you. The disciples did not have the advantage of having JESUS inside of them. Feeling a little sheepish now? The life of Christ is in us, He is just on life support because we are not feeding him. It is a sin of weak flesh.

The power of prayer is not for other “more Godly” people. It is for every person with the life of Christ inside of them. Our lives, our joy, our contentment, our blessing, our families, our churches, our communities and our nation depend on our prayers. Let us get off of life support and out of the spiritual sick bay and learn to pray with power and joy, exalting and enjoying the living God who has come to reside in our very hearts.

Please stay tuned to future blog posts as we together set out to change the distant hope of a joyful and powerful prayer life into our everyday, walking, talking reality.

For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should, say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the WORD is very near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.  Deuteronomy 30:11-14

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Brandon Bachtel, Lead Pastor

Do you ever wonder if you can make a difference?  Can you impact things for the better?  I believe that we can.  Matter of fact, we have the opportunity to decide who leads our cities, schools, and state through our right to vote.  Each election is extremely important, because the leaders we elect — from the federal to the local level — will determine our future on several important issues.megaphone-guy

Although many countries do not have the right to a democratic system of voting, it has been our privilege in the United States to express our freedom through voting for more than 200 years. While many of us feel like our rights are under attack; or that our cities, schools, counties, and country need a change, we rarely believe that we can be a part of the change; or in many cases, the continued growth.  It’s estimated that there are at least 30 million strong Christians in America who love God and believe in the Bible but who do not vote. At the same time, every presidential election in the past 25 years has been won by less than 10 million votes.  At our local level, last year alone we had over 9,700 registered voters, yet only 653 of them voted.  That is less than 7% of all registered voters within our school district.

By remaining silent (or not voting), Christians are losing the right and ability to decide who will run our government, cities, schools, and other local level positions.  After all, they are the ones creating our public policies.  I personally want to elect people at all levels, which have a strong desire to see our cities, schools, state, and national leaders return to our Godly heritage.  Simply said, we must not set idly by and complain about things we want to change, especially when we fail to do something as simple as voting.  In Exodus 18:21, Moses was instructed to, “[S]elect out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” We must do the same thing. Voting is a powerful way to make our voices heard. It is not only one of our greatest rights as citizens of the United States of America; it is also our responsibility as Christians and believers in the Lord.  Essentially, many of us have a tendency to have strong opinions and share them with other people without much thought.  However, do we really have a right to an opinion or a voice if we do not exercise this simple right to elect our leaders?

In the very near future, we have several elections taking place at the local level, as well as the state level.  Please help MAKE A DIFFERENCE by taking a few minutes to vote.  Regardless of which city you live in, please take time to get informed about candidates.  Take time to do careful research and have healthy dialogue with candidates in your community; then let your voice be heard through your right to vote.

With that said, you can exercise your right to vote without demeaning other people or candidates.  So with that, I want to leave you with this simple, yet complex truth from Proverbs 12:18, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”