Could it be that it works like a laser?August 29th, 2008
Could it be that it works like a laser? I had the opportunity once to interview John Polkinghorne, the great Anglican physicist and clergyman. Knowing that prayer was an active part of his daily life, I asked him about the necessity of group or collective prayer. Why would we need to band together to pray for someone or something, some event or some need, when (#1) God already knows the need and (#2) God surely doesn’t need to hear multiple reminders from a group in order to respond to that particular (earnest or urgent) need? Perhaps the answer lies in the reality of a laser beam, the physicist responded.
Since that interview I’ve turned his response over and over again in my mind. Maybe he’s right? Could it be that prayer works like a laser? I’m certainly no scientist, but the meager grasp I have of how lasers work tells me that the laser beam’s penetrating, burning effectiveness is the result of the banding together of minute streams or photons of light. Yes, one tiny stream is able to penetrate the darkness, as light does. But the secret of the laser’s power is in the banding together of multiple strands of light, creating a burning shaft of energy that can penetrate the thickest obstacle. And that, John Polkinghorne responded, is why collective group praying is so effectual. Rather than random prayers bouncing every which way, group prayer harnesses and focuses the collective prayers into a mighty single beam of divine laser power.
The Book of Acts was written by a physician, not a physicist, and yet could it be that the secret of the laser is the reason why corporate prayer is so frequently documented in the early church’s history? No sooner does Jesus ascend to heaven in Acts 1 then the disciples gather in the upper room for a prayer meeting. Ten days of prayer meeting follow—and suddenly all of heaven explodes in Pentecost’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Weeks later after the apostles’ incarceration by the authorities, the church gathers for an earnest prayer meeting again in Acts 4. Read the book for yourself—there are prayer meetings all the way through! Early Christians knew the harnessed power of collective, banded laser prayers!
Isn’t it “primetime” we tapped into that same collective power? Want to live life on the laser edge of the Spirit? Come and join me this new season once a week in an upper room of collective, focused praying. Let’s call it House of Prayer. And let’s meet here at the church on Wednesday evenings at 7—an Acts community of young and old, seeking a new Pentecost to reach a new generation for Christ! In fact, wherever on earth you’re reading this blog, why don’t you join us by gathering a group in your community—and let’s create a laser band of united prayer just like Acts. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
All that’s left is the grand finale!August 22nd, 2008
All that’s left is the grand finale! And if it’s anything like the spectacular opening extravaganza, the 29th Olympiad will go down in history as the most memorably choreographed sporting event of all time. Certainly the world’s kudos rightly belong to Beijing and the 1.3 billion member family of China. So what shall we take away from this two-week celebration of youth and physical prowess? Over the course of the games I’ve scribbled onto a yellow pad a few life lessons. Here are a handful:
1. Be a good sport. She wasn’t young Michael Phelps with his record eight gold medals. But even the three silver medals of 41-year-old mother and swimmer Dara Torres (the oldest swimmer on record to medal) were outshined by the genuinely gracious way she congratulated the winners with a dripping hug after each race, proving that even in losing, good sports always win. Ephesians 5:32—“Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
2. Don’t brag about yourself. Perhaps the greatest swimming race of all time pitted the U.S. men’s 400 meter free style relay team against the favorites of another nation, who unfortunately boasted beforehand to the press that they were going to “smash” their opponent. As fate would have it, they were a split second behind the young Americans. Proverbs 27:2—“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth.”
3. Become a team player. Superstars are memorable, but there’s nothing like being on a team! What’s more thrilling than sharing the fete with a team of members who combined their gifts and energies into a group win? Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12—“Two are better than one. . . . Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
4. Life isn’t fair. The most successful gymnastics coach in history, Bela Karolyi, exploded to Bob Costas of NBC over the egregious (to him) judging error that cost one of the coeds he was cheering a gold medal. Who was right? We’ll never know. Not everything in life is fair or deserved. Being able to go on in spite of it is a mark of maturity. Philippians 4:11—“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances” (Message).
5. Everybody needs a coach. No matter how good you may be at what you do, there is somebody who can help you be even better. Physically, academically, professionally and spiritually—ask someone to share the journey with you. John 14:16—“‘And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.’”
6. What’s most important is never seen. Remember that the handful of minutes Michael Phelps spent racing (and winning) in the pool is dwarfed by the four long grueling years of daily training far away from the spotlight. What counts most in any life isn’t the public glare—it’s the very private and consistent practice that always pays off. Luke 5:16—“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
7. Let your Father be your trainer. Did you know that three of the top U.S. gymnasts are coached by their parents? Nastia Liukin, winner of the all-round gymnastics gold medal, has her father Valeri to thank, himself a gold medalist in the 1988 Games. For when your Father is already a Winner, how could you possibly go wrong? Ephesians 3:14—“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family derives its name.”
The 29th Olympiad ends in a few hours. But the race of life stretches before us all. And thanks to Jesus Christ, it’s the one race that everybody who enters can win. Let’s go!
Today as we continue the summer sermon series,August 8th, 2008
Today as we continue the summer sermon series, I Surrender All – Tales of Trust, our worship message centers on Sarai who became Sarah - (Sarai > Sarah).
Have you noticed (especially those of you have been married for a few years) that when someone asks you about your journey in life, you cannot tell it without including your spouse. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s a good thing! Richard and I have been married 46 years and my story is also his story - and his is mine. And though Pastor Oliver has been married only a few weeks, have you noticed how his story has changed now that there’s Arlene in his life!
Such is the case with Sarai > Sarah. There is no telling of her story without including her spouse, Abram > Abraham.
In my study I have been impressed that the Bible does not contain carefully censored versions of the stories of its heroes and heroines. Instead we see them as they struggle, as do we, with human weaknesses and flaws. Today’s story is about lack of faith (trust) AND abundant faith (trust) – as it happens in the journey of life. The good news for those of us who have stumbled along the way is that we find Sarah and Abraham both listed in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). Today’s message is, indeed, a message of hope.
From Pastor Sharon Terrell
On this summer’s graduation weekend,August 1st, 2008
On this summer’s graduation weekend,
Welcome to where Andrews University gathers year ’round to worship God. The Lord of this House is the Lord of this campus. In celebration of his grace that has brought these 215 graduates to this milestone of academic achievement and personal accomplishment, let us come before our God with rejoicing and thanksgiving. “For the Lord is good, and his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations. Come, let us worship Christ the Lord!”
We welcome both our graduation visitors and our worship visitors.
Two grand moments are blended today—and in the midst of it all stands the living Christ. We welcome you to Pioneer with open hearts and doors. And we pray that on this Sabbath day God will bring a very personal and special gift for your life. If you’re new in the community or looking for a new church family, we’d love to have you become a part of us. There are membership transfer request cards in your pew racks. Please fill out a card, place it in the offering plate, and we will take care of the rest.
And to all the celebrating graduates today,
We here at Pioneer wish you the very best days of your life ahead with Christ! While we’ll miss you here, knowing you’ve prepared your life for service to humankind and that you’re moving into the future as a radical disciple for Christ blesses us. Wherever the Spirit leads you, please know we’re cheering you on.