Monthly Archives: July 2010

What Jesus taught me about prayer

As part of our sermon series, 40 Days of Prayer for Outreach, I have been studying the prayers of people who interceded for others. I wanted to learn from their examples so that, hopefully, my prayers will become more effective and fruitful. This week, my study took me to John 17:1-26. This passage is sometimes referred to as Jesus’ high priestly prayer, or the true Lord’s Prayer.

In this passage, Jesus prayed for himself (1-5), his disciples (6-19), and future believers (20-26). He prayed that he would glorify God with his life and death (1-5). He prayed his disciples would stay faithful (11b-16) and pursue holiness (17-19). He prayed that future believers would experience unity in the present (21-23) and heaven in the future (24-26). In so doing, Jesus provided a model for intercessory prayer, or how to pray for others.

From his example, I think we can and should pray five requests on behalf of other Christ followers. We should pray that they will:

  • Accomplish God’s purpose and bring him glory
  • Remain loyal to Christ
  • Practice holiness
  • Maintain unity
  • Look forward to receiving glory in heaven
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Posted by on July 31, 2010 in Prayer, Preaching, Scripture


Misconceptions about prayer

Besides making us laugh, cartoons provide insight into the opinions and thoughts of people. Several give a glimpse of what the average person thinks about prayer.

Rather than seek forgiveness, we try to plea bargain with God.

Prayer is often self-centered.

When our prayers are not answered, we try to figure out why. Often, our reasoning is completely off base.

We only pray when we are in trouble.

Rather than rely on current opinions and human reasoning, we need to discover what Scripture really teaches about prayer.

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Posted by on July 30, 2010 in Culture, Fun, Prayer


Social Media has created “The Social Media Venn Diagram.”Creative, sarcastic cynicism at its best. I wonder where blogging fits on their diagram?

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Fun


What Daniel taught me about prayer

If the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:7-13 is the New Testament model for prayer, then Daniel 9:1-19 is the Old Testament model for prayer, so writes one author. I tend to agree with that assessment. I also believe that these verses in Daniel 9 provide a model for how to pray for a city. In my case, it gives me ideas how to pray for the city of Seattle and the Puget Sound region.

Verses 1-3 explain what prompted Daniel prayer. He understood the Scriptures and the time in which he lived. Together, they moved him to pray for his hometown, Jerusalem.

As Daniel read the scrolls of Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 25:8-14; 29:10-14), he discovered that the exile was to last 70 years. Comparing today’s date (Daniel 9:1; 539 B. C.) with the date he came to Babylon (Daniel 1:1; 605 B. C.), he realizes he has been in exile for 66 years.

The exile is almost over! But it won’t end until God’s people repent and turn back to God. That realization prompts him to seek God through fasting and prayer.

Daniel’s prayer (Daniel (9:4-19) consisted of three elements—Adoration (4), Confession (5-15), and Petition (16-19).

In his adoration, he praised God for being great and awesome, for being trustworthy, and for demonstrating unconditional love. The more he focused on God’s majesty, the more he was aware of his own shortcomings. This led him to confess his sins.

In his confession, Daniel identified with his people, Israel. Four times (9:5, 8, 11, 15), he said, “we have sinned.” This is significant because Daniel is one of the few people in Scripture of whom no sin is recorded. Yet he says, “WE have sinned.”

He is specific in his confession and names their transgressions. We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, turned aside, not listened, not obeyed, transgressed, refused to obey, and not entreated you. He feels so terrible that he is ashamed to admit it (9:7-8). As a result, Jerusalem is a byword, a laughingstock, the punch line for the jokes of all the surrounding nations (9:16).

After confessing the sins of his people, Daniel asks God for mercy. He asks God to turn away his anger (9:16) and to demonstrate grace and mercy (9:17). Rather than convincing God that Israel deserves forgiveness, his argument is based solely on God’s character and Daniel’s concern for Gods’ reputation (9:19)

These principles prompted me to ask, How can I pray for Seattle and the Puget Sound region?

1. Acknowledge God’s authority and majesty

2. Confess our sins—the sins of the city and the sins of the church. As I thought about this, I put together a chart of sins and how they are seen in our region.

  City Church
PrideArrogance We take pride in our technology (airplanes, software), our education (UW, SPU, Seattle U), and our financial resources. We are self-sufficient and think we can solve any problem. As a church and Christian community, we take pride in our intelligence and financial resources, as well as the size of our churches. We too consider ourselves to be self-sufficient and able to solve our problems.
Tolerance We have made tolerance the ultimate virtue. We pride ourselves on accepting any and every lifestyle. We are open minded and do not pass judgment. In an effort to avoid offending anyone or being perceived as judgmental, the church has stopped talking about sin.
Disrespect We distrust authority. We believe we have the right to criticize elected officials. We demand a “voice” in every choice. This distrust of leadership has crept into the church. We won’t follow leaders. We also demand a “voice” in every choice.
Pervert sexuality   Marriage is not permanent. Divorce rate are climbing. Rape is prevalent. We promote and accept alternative lifestyles. Our entertainment objectifies women and makes us laugh at what used to be considered private matters. The divorce rate is climbing in the Christian community and is not much better than the secular community. Not wanting to appear judgmental, we accept alternative lifestyles, or at least don’t speak out about them. We laugh just as hard at movies, TV, and theater.
Ignore the needy When it comes to the homeless, AIDS, education, or other social issues, we would rather throw $$ at issues than get involved. The church takes the attitude of, “Let the government do it.” We are too busy with “church” to get involved.
Self-centered We pursue personal affluence and comfort. My private life is no one else’s business. The church has bought into consumerism. I go where they will meet my needs. Churches divide over personal preferences.
Reject God 49% of the population in the Puget Sound has no faith involvement at all. Churches have become Bible-based, not Bible teaching. Christians easily become hearers of the Scriptures but not doers. We no longer practice what we preach. Many Christians lives as functional atheists.
Laughingstock Over the past decade, Seattle has become the punch line of national jokes—the WTO protests, suspending the Millennium celebration out of fear, “Nicklesville”–the homeless tent city no one wants, the inability to make a decision of replacing the viaduct, the Fremont Solstice Day Parade, and many others. Evangelicals have been labeled as “haters” and “right wing” fanatics. Christians are known more for what they are against rather than what they are for. Truth be told, we are no long evangelical because we have made sharing the good news of salvation an optional exercise.

This exercise revealed to me that the church is guilty of the same sins as the city. Rather than acting smug and “holier than thou,” we need to confess, “WE HAVE SINNED!”

3. Seek forgiveness and revival


Leadership is like a train

 “Leadership is like a train.” So begins On-Track Leadership: Mastering what leaders actually do, by John Kramp. The author uses the metaphor of the various cars of a train to explain the many and varied tasks of leadership. The following chart (p. 104) illustrates his model.

The Leadership Train Model

The Car The Tasks The Question
The Engine Vision “What do I see?”
Personal Planning “How do I get to what I see?”
The Passenger Car Enlisting “Would you like to go there with me?”
Team Building “How will we get there?”
The Fuel Car Communication “What do you see?”
Delegation “What’s your responsibility?”
The Equipment Car Motivation “Why did you say ‘yes’?”
Correction “Is something wrong here?”
The Caboose Celebration “Doesn’t that look great?”

While I liked his metaphor, I can’t say that I found the book that helpful. It struck me as a very simplified version of Kouzes & Posner’s Leadership Challenge. Kramp’s book is based on the lessons he learned while trying to plant a church in Portland, OR. Kouzes & Posner’s book is based on dozens of case studies, both good and bad.

My opinion of the book was obviously slanted from the beginning because I disagreed with his definition of vision. He defines “visioning” as seeing the unseen, including needs, opportunities, and strategies. While vision certainly includes that, I believe it is much more forward looking. I prefer the definition of “seeing a preferable future.” I think Kramp’s definition tends to negate or lower leadership vision.

I think Kramp would benefit from having more and broader illustrations. Since his illustrations all come from his church-planting experience, they are of limited value to a corporate setting. You have to work harder to make them transferable. Again, I think Kouzes & Posner’s contribution is more valuable because it includes a wide range of illustrations from several different companies and organizations.

In summary, Kramp provides a good model, but it needs to be redefined and illustrated more broadly.

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Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Books, Leadership, Quotes


Random thoughts for a Monday morning

A little humor to start the week, courtesy of Jack F. I can identify with several of these observations.

1) I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2) Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
3) I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
4) There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5) How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6) Was learning cursive really necessary?
7) Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5.  Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8) Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9) I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
10) Bad decisions make good stories.
11) You never know when it will strike.  But there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12) Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray?   I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.
13) I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14) “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this — ever.
15) I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16) I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
17) I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18) I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

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Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Fun


The power of the gospel

God can use any part of Scripture to accomplish his plan and purpose. He can use any verse to communicate the gospel. I was reminded of that truth this week as I was preparing a message on prayer from James 5:13-20.

I remembered an event that took place almost 40 years ago when I was in high school. I had been sharing the gospel with Renee, a friend in our high school band. She had come to church with me on a couple of occasions. One evening, she went home and read through the book of James. When she got to 4:13-14, she was struck by the shortness of life.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

She kept reading and got to the end of the letter in 5:19-20.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

She stopped reading and asked God to forgive her sins and to save her.

Not exactly the Four Spiritual Laws or the Roman Road, but God used his word to bring Renee into the kingdom of God.

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Posted by on July 17, 2010 in Evangelism, Scripture