Hey Five Oakers,
I have a few things I want to share with you today:
#1- I was in Louisville over the weekend so I missed our worship gathering. I did, however, listen to Tim's message and he did an excellent job kicking off the "A Praying Life" series on Luke 11. Highlights...
- You'd think that with all Jesus' power, all he came to do and his 24/7 broadband connection with God that he would be more efficient with the use of his time.
- You have to put effort into making time for God just like making arrangements for a date with your spouse.
- Start small and keep going. Consistency is crucial.
- Jesus REALLY needed to pray. We REALLY need to pray.
- Some day we will die and we will know reality: we exist now only because God sustains us.
- When we get how dependent we are on God, we will pray.
#2- Thanks for comments on your Communication Cards this weekend. Here are a few:
- "Oh my! You raised the questions I have about prayer. Good to know I’m not alone. Loved your analogies Tim." [No, you are alone. He included that stuff to make YOU feel better. (That comment was written by a personal friend, so don't worry, I can poke her.)]
- "Beautiful harmony by the worship team! Tim, thanks for the encouragement in my prayer life!"
- "Really appreciated blessing/benediction/challenge at end of service." [You can expect more of this in the future.]
- "As I speak to individuals in the community I am amazed how many people know about Five Oaks. They are also considering coming. That’s great - Praise the Lord!" [People are primed to be invited. We all need to pray about who we can invite for this weekend.]
- "The gluten free communion is terrible! Please have some regular bread." [We'll consider it, but I'll just say that it gets very confusing and difficult to explain where the glutten free bread is when it's only in one place. There are several other factors in going all gluten free, but we hear you.]
- "Any chance we could have a communion station with cups? For some like me that might have some germ-phobic tendencies we avoid the dipping because we know fingers have been in the juice." [Don't worry. It will build your resistance to germs. Okay, I'm only kidding. Again, we'll consider it, but just know that it's very hard to provide options (a lot more work for volunteers) and to communicate the options to everyone. But maybe there is a way we haven't yet thought of.]
#3- Justin Schaap and Dan Lukas came with me to Louisville so we could poke around Sojourn Church. Our time there was super impacting. We came away with some concrete ideas on how to bring more Scripture into our services, how to deepen our congregation's understanding of what we are doing whenever we gather for worship and how to deepen our engagement in worship. We are changing the whole way we plan our worship, but the differences may not be evident until mid to late March. I truly believe you will love it, and it will deepen your engagement with God in worship and your response to God and his Word.
#4- Why Sojourn Church? It's the church my son attends, but I've known about it for years through some other Five Oakers that moved there and attended. It's one of the most interesting churches I've ever attended. I hate to even try to convey why, because it's one of those things that has to be experienced. But our primary reason for going is that they have a very clear and thought-out order and form to their worship that in instructive to us and to how we do our Response services. This church also knows how to create great music. They are highly talented. You can check out their music here or on iTunes. You can check out a recap of one of the services from this last weekend here (we attended two of their locations, but not this one). We were very grateful for the time we had over supper with two of their worship leaders, Brooks Ritter and Chad Watson (and one of their musicians). Simply a GREAT trip!
#5- Lots of hipsters in Louisville and at Sojourn so took a few moments to see what it feels like.
#7- Don't forget about the Jaime Jorge concert on Friday. Lois and I are making a date night out of it. Dinner then the concert. Interestingly, I heard a Cuban violinist in Miami recently. One of the highlights of our trip to clean out my uncle's house. He and a guitarist were playing beautiful music in front of a hotel on South Beach.
#8- We continue in our prayer series on the weekend as we look at the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11:1-4. Think about how odd this is:
- Jesus regularly spent entire nights in prayer, but when the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he gave them a four-sentence prayer they could recite.
- When they ask to be taught, he doesn’t give a lecture on prayer. He goes on to tell them some stories about prayer, but his first action is to give them a prayer.
- The prayer can be recited. Jesus says, "When you pray, say, 'Father...'" Interesting that most commentators I read for this message can't see that. These are super-smart scholars, but I'm afraid their bias against recited prayers is too strong to see what the text actually says.
- It also teaches us about the content of prayer. Jesus doesn't say, "Only pray this prayer."
- Strangely, the content of the prayer is a series of requests. There are no direct statements of praise or thanksgiving or even confession.
I hope you come to learn more. This message builds on last week's. Jesus was totally dependent on the Father. And the prayer he gave us to pray is a prayer communicating our dependence on the same Father: We need his purpose in our lives, his provision and his protection. (Yeah, three P's...it just happened...must be directly from God!).
Can't wait for the weekend! Love you all.