Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why Pray?

I have always been intrigued and amazed by the significance of prayer and, as many call it today, "the power of prayer". In graduate school at Azusa Pacific University in the early 1990's one of my professors, Don Goehner shared how the President of Mission Aviation Fellowship regularly prayed 3 (yes three) hours a day. He was often seen walking through their headquarters in the early mornings praying the halls, over staff members desks, and at the picture wall of their missionaries around the world. From that day on I have always been concerned that I find the time to dedicate daily prayer for the ministry, the people I know, and what ever God places on my heart to pray about.

I would love to read about how busy executives who travel manage to keep prayer as a priority. Its bad enough trying to keep your exercise routine going much less your healthy diet regiment active when you travel a lot. For me all the above have often been hit and miss. But, as they say, there is no excuse for the present. I find that if I don't write it down, or don't put it in my calendar things often don't get done or addressed. What works for me is having "PRAYER" scheduled the first thing every morning in my calendar so that I am reminded and committed to daily prayer. With today's technology it is so easy to schedule some time like this. Just go to "7am" on any day and hit "recurring daily" and its in your schedule for life. Just a practical idea. I would love to hear other's ideas that have worked as well.

Bishop Desmond Tutu Praying on the cover.

It may not be necessary for me to write something as elemental as to why prayer is important but something that I recently read reminded me again of the relevancy and magnitude of talking with our Creator. Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Noble Peace Prize winner and South Africa priest, sometime during the apartheid in South Africa was visiting General Theological Seminary in New York. While there he met a nun who was essentially what they call a "solitary nun". Most of her time was spent away from people, in solitude, and in the presence of God. In a conversation with Bishop Tutu she shared that, "I live in the woods in California, and my day starts at two in the morning, and I pray for you."

Bishop Tutu responded, "Here I am being prayed for at two in the morning in the woods in California! What chance does the apartheid government stand?" The Bishop went on to say, "Most of us don't take seriously the power of payer. How much we owe to those dear old ladies who faithfully go to the Eucharist every Wednesday morning. They are unspectacular, unsung. We're probably going to discover that some extraordinary things when we get to heaven. We'll be amazed at the number of people who sustained us."

Never, never underestimate the power of prayers!!

*Dedicated to Greg Yova and appreciation to Dan Irving.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I have been hanging out at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship conference in Long Beach the last couple days. One of Amor's actively involved churches is Solana Beach Persbyterian and their Pastor, Mike McClenahan was the opening key note speaker. I am here with some 1,000 people from all over, representing 34 states and 4 continents. Amor Ministries has an powerful presence here with an exhibit booth, a full page advertisement in the conference folder, a full logo on every tote page for every participant, a conference folder sponsor, and a huge Amor logo on the stage screen shown at the general sessions, and more.

I wanted to pass on a little about what Pastor Mike shared that really set the mood for me and hit things right were they needed to be hit. As South African Christian radio broadcaster, Humphrey Birkenstock, often says, "Hit me!". First Mike framed things as they are, "We are in a post- Christian/post-denominational [era]." The reality is that the US is a mission field and always has been. The declining number of so many denominations in the US sends a chilling message that we must all face our "relevance". I remember once asking Humphrey Birkenstock at Rainbow FM 90.7 how he measured his success in the Christian broadcasting business. Humphrey said, "I measure our success on how relevant we are in our community." I was a little embarrassed of thinking he was going to say how many listeners or advertisers he had.

Another speaker yesterday, Alan Hirsch, stated that "consumerism" has become our most influential and powerful religion. As a matter of fact, he once used to be a marketing executive and he shared that the marketing leaders of today are saying that they are filling the void that the church has left behind. They are fervently using the vocabulary of the church in a very scary way. They are leveraging the spiritual needs and voids in people's lives with a search for meaning, significance, and purpose through a message of a fulfillment in consumerism and materialism. Buyer beware!! Do you realize that you are exposed to over 2,000 advertisements a day.

One of Mike's most powerful statements was that we need to "move evangelism out of the hands of the professionals and into the hands of the people- as sent people of God." The church", he said, "needs to be "inwardly stong, and outwardly focused." He shared how his church has sent over 600 people to Mexico with Amor in the last 3 years. Mike believes that all of God's people are his "sent people" and that they need to all experience what it is like to be "sent".

Here are a couple random quotes that I took today that I just love:

"God created us in his image and then we returned the favor." Voltare

"Jesus was in the neighborhood for 30 years and no one knew it. This is the humanity of Christ." Alan Hirsch

"I've come to the conclusion that God does not want mission to be part of the church- but the heart of the church. Doug Henderson

"I won't die happy until every one in our church has a vital missional connection." Tom Theriault

"The highest calling is wherever God has put you." John Knapp