As I sit here on a rather balmy new years morning I contemplate 2011 and reminisce on 2010. Last year was certainly a year to remember. Think about it: we had one pastor for 25 years and now we are on our 4th pastor in 6 months. When I look back at Gateway’s progression through 2010 and see a church that has withered storm after storm in leadership. Yet the core of believers that has stayed has been faithful and even though our numbers were reduced, we are still standing. God has brought us through event after event. You each know what I am talking about.
I want to encourage each of you to look forward to 2011 with great anticipation. There are many good things on the horizon.
To start with, we have a spirit filled pastor as our lead pastor. We have a very creative team approach to ministry with Joseph Slife, Tom Atkins, Bob Beckwith and Gene Acuff. All of these men are well known by the members of Gateway and are men of God we have asked for time after time to preach for us. Our prayers have been answered. Hallelujah!
A significant event I believe has been the request by Tom Atkins for us to read “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala. It is a book full of encouragement about God’s faithfulness in difficult times. I also encourage each of you to review the story of Gideon in Judges chapter’s 6,7 & 8. If you tie together the prophecy the Lord gave us in 1998 concerning Gideon and Cymbala’s book you can see that God can and will do a lot with a small group of believers that trust Him. I would remind everyone that Gideon lost over 99% of his church before he was ready to take on the overwhelming odds against him. “Fresh Wind” shows how God can and will do the same type of things today.
It is with that background that I want to launch into 2011. We have started our Wed night prayer group. I want to encourage everyone to join us on Wed night to pray for one another and our sister church Gateway of Shreveport. Also Latina Mission in Athens. If prayer is what the Bible says it is, then nothing we can do is more important than praying.
I want to share something I read in “Approaching God” by Steve Brown: “I’m often asked about the purpose of prayer before a sovereign God. ‘If God knows what I’m going to ask before I ask it, why pray?’ It’s a good question, but it misses the point. We pray not to get what we want, but to want what God wants, and we do that with the awareness that He is sovereign and that He knows best.”
For me, this puts into perspective why I pray. It’s not for me to clarify to God but for God to clarify to me. This means prayer is a two way street: me talking to God and then listening.
Let me show you how I put this into practice. I have prayed about God “fixing” my past. It sounded something like this: “Lord, fix this, make it go away, PLEASE!” (This sounds similar to Paul’s prayer in 2 Cor 12). I wanted help. I didn’t know how or what that would entail, but I prayed as best I knew how. Through “listening” to God in all the ways He speaks to us, I discerned through my counseling sessions that I needed to attend Onsite. I did and I received much more than a simple “fix” like I wanted.
Steve Brown has a very common sense approach to prayer that I understand. I believe his approach will help me be a much more effective lay leader and man of prayer.
I also want to mention what I believe is a budding relationship with Latino Mission. I sense the Lord wants us to engage in dual ministry with them. I want us to pray about a Sunday night praise, worship and healing service. If you carefully review the Gospel of Mark chapters 1-3, you will see that Jesus did what He was called to do. He was a man of prayer. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit. As a result, He had more people coming to his services than they could accommodate. I believe this Sunday night service will have the same effect, IF (NOTE ALL CAPS!) we diligently pray about it.
I want to add this note. I spoke to a pastor friend of mine and shared with him about the possibility of a prayer and healing service. He immediately warned me that all healing wasn’t from God and that many of the healing services aren’t from God. I nodded and quickly left the conversation. I felt as if the Lord was telling me the people that will be drawn to the services will not be religious folks. It will be the exact persons He talked about in Luke chapter 4 18-19: The poor, the brokenhearted, captives, blind, oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord! He came to heal the sick, not the healthy.
I sense God is getting ready to blow the roof off the place (so to speak).
Lord: Give us boldness to speak your word fearlessly and to be willing to go where others are not going and to be willing to do what others will not do.