Life Spring Network http://lifespringnetwork.org Equipping Your Church for the Great Commission Matthew 28:18-20 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Coaches Corner August 2017 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-august-2017/ Wed, 30 Aug 2017 20:34:55 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18795 Who’s Your Buddy?

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18)
Most of us have read or heard this verse and know that God created us from the very beginning to be in relationship with Him and with one another. We also know that God sees all of us, that Christ took our punishment and made us right with God, by His grace through faith.
But we know too that even after we have received the gift of salvation – while on this earth – we have the capacity to sin. And while this doesn’t take us out of our right standing with God, since we get a “do-over” EVERY time we repent and seek His forgiveness, sin does take us off the path of the abundant life that Jesus also came to gift us with. The Word tells us that Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), and without intention, we drift into the ease of believing the lies with which he taunts us. These lies take advantage of our weaknesses, and deceive us into being undisciplined and falling to temptation.
The needed intention – the antidote – is accountability. Most pastors we’ve worked with are quick to understand the “biblicality” of accountability. They are often quick to counsel their teams to have accountability groups (what we call “Life Groups”) and to see them as critical to growth as disciples. Yet while this is true, many of us remain resistant to accountability. Why?
Perhaps one reason is a misunderstanding on the meaning of the word. Like those who equate happiness with “stuff” versus a Christian view of happiness being rooted in “holiness”, we can misunderstand accountability too. Ask yourself how you define accountability. Is it negative, like you would have to be a “watchdog” or “micro-manager?”
As we see in Genesis 2:18, God views accountability as a gift to us, a helper…PROTECTION-protection from being undisciplined, protection from falling to temptation, protection from being DECEIVED by the father of lies! Before Jesus, we see that this human protection fails. But, as love never fails, God, who IS love, has a solution and He continues to encourage us that, though He is our ultimate accountability partner, WE as believers can provide a lesser form of accountability (PROTECTION) to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Once we start receiving the benefits of having an accountability group (and that can be with just ONE other person), we start to see the PROTECTION that God has offered us all along. Reminders of His LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness…. His GRACE. This is not judgment. This is protection under the guidance and love of our Father. Freely we receive, and freely we give. As we do, we begin to trust God more, trust Him in others more, and our lives begin to reflect less of us and more of GOD. Others start to see “something” (JESUS) in us, and they want to get in on it. Evangelism becomes easy because we notice what God is doing in our lives and sharing it becomes natural. If we get off track, confused, deceived and wayward, our accountability partner – our BUDDY – can help us put on our shield of FAITH more readily, and faith becomes more unconsciously part of our being-more of God, less of us.
Note that this godly understanding of accountability comes through the work of God in OUR OWN lives. It’s always important to remember that we can’t take anyone else on a journey we are not on. Have you experienced the gift of accountability? Are you experiencing it now? If not, don’t be content with the level of leadership God has brought you to in the church. He wants to continue to grow us as disciples, and one critical resource is our Christian brothers and sisters holding us accountable to His grace.
If you are experiencing the gift of accountability, thank God for opening your heart to this gift. Ask God who He wants you to tell or who He wants you to invite into an accountability relationship. Perhaps God is calling you to grow into even deeper levels of accountability, as a mentor or mentee. Ask Him.
As we live into the gift of accountability, we grow in vulnerability and humility. We grow in CHRIST. My prayer is that we take this to heart so that we, like Paul, can confess: “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it…” (Romans 7:18-19) And, with other believers to protect us from thinking this capacity to sin leaves us hopeless, we can continue, like Paul, and live under this truth:
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!” -Romans 7:25(a)
If you have any questions about practical steps to grow in accountability personally or in your church, please call us at Life Spring Network, 630-259-8438, or visit our website: lifespringnetwork.org.

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Coaches Corner February 2017 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-february-2017/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 21:54:00 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18659 What Journey Are You On?

This past week, I had the privilege of traveling to Phoenix for the Best Practices Conference at Christ Church.  Over 2000 churchgoing believers attend this conference for fellowship, rest, celebration, education and inspiration.  In many keynote, breakout and even casual networking sessions, it is likely that the Word of our Lord is spoken.  It is also likely that there are a great number of ideas shared that we are either in agreement with or inspired by, as we recognize that they are connected with God’s Word and His will for us, as written in our Holy book, the Bible.

But, then what?  Do we only hear the Word, or do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and DO what we hear?

Because of Jesus, all of us who believe have the opportunity to put Him on full display wherever God places us: to love people with the love He has for us in our families, our neighborhoods, at our work places, and strangers who come into our lives; to serve Him in every capacity we ever are in:  both scheduled and impromptu.  This is a high calling.  It requires a high sacrifice.  It requires us to surrender our whole life.  We read in Matthew 16:24-25: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’”

It requires us to walk the journey of discipleship, not just seeking education and inspiration, but experiencing TRANSFORMATION.

I can’t pinpoint the exact date when I realized that God’s transformative work in my life was happening. In hindsight, I could always see many examples of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, evidence that I was living in His power, and not my own. But, there was a major hindrance from experiencing the fruit that God promises:  not just love OR joy OR peace… God promises MUCH fruit as we let the Holy Spirit have His way:  love AND joy AND peace AND patience AND kindness AND goodness AND faithfulness AND gentleness AND self-control.  I believed in Jesus and I believed He died for me.  I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t experiencing God’s goodness, but instead was feeling more guilt, which resulted in a drive to be a better person.  Why did I feel that God wasn’t answering me?

The major hindrance was ME. 

For many years, I was still striving to be a “good Christian.”  I feared that I might not be doing enough for God.  Maybe not even enough to get into heaven.  I didn’t believe that God could use my life story, so full of sin and shame. Instead of confessing this to God, I tried to do more “Christian” things:  go to church more, volunteer more, send my children to Christian school, only associate with Christian friends.  It seemed the more I pressed into those strivings, I did feel like a better person for a minute (it made ME feel good), but it didn’t take away the snares of the world.  In fact, I found myself facing more and more situations that were hard for me.  Situations where my feelings — of anxiousness, guilt, anger, sadness — would stifle me doing anything at all.  Avoidance of anything not clearly church-ish became my goal.  Being the “good Christian” may have presented a spiritual front that looked sort of ok to the watching world.  But, my heart was aching for more.  In hindsight, again, I can see that God weaved together a long list of earthly “angels” to disciple me, but I wasn’t open because I was too busy working things out in my own strength.

I was like those people talked about in 2 Timothy 3:5, “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”

Eventually, God’s grace forged a breakthrough for me.  Through the encouragement of others who were further on the journey of discipleship, I became open to developing REAL relationships with other disciples.  We prayed together, and encouraged each other to pray on our own and with others.  I learned that my fear was preventing me from living by faith.  It was preventing the transformation that God wanted for me and was making me crave more education and more inspiration,  STRIVING to find the truth that was going to help me REALLY follow God.

But, wait, Jesus Christ DIED for ME because He loves me, right?!

My fear and striving was preventing me from living under my identity in Christ – as a beloved daughter of God with the same power in me that rose Jesus from the grave!  I started to believe (which means ‘to live by’) that God could use my story to bring glory to Him, and began to see how easy it was to share His love with others.  I began to crave His Word more, but not simply for education because I had experienced the TRANSFORMATION that He brings through the Word, and I wanted more of Him.

This transformation led to WORSHIP, not just on Sunday while at church, but with my LIFE.  Everything good I do springs from the Lord’s will emblazoned in my heart.  And, when our Lord is in our heart, He shines into the lives of others too:  Christians and non-Christians.  He IS our evangelism program that so many ask about.

And as I felt led to confess my fears, insecurities and sins and talk about them more openly with other Christian disciples, they began to feel able to be transparent as well.  We now talk about stewarding our entire lives from God’s perspective, not from our own knowledge, or from our parent’s teaching, or from how we FEEL.  We are able to help each other discern God’s “yes” and often more importantly, “NO” when different circumstances come along.  This is discipleship.  I can tell it by the fruit of our lives.

Is life now perfect on the transformative journey of discipleship? No.

But, through daily–and often moment-by-moment– surrender, “heaven on earth” is happening.  God’s will IS being done through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  And it’s being done through US.  Love is winning, but it sure would be to your benefit to join me on the journey of discipleship.  Since we tend to reproduce who we are, it is also to the benefit of your children and any other people you influence to be led by our Lord versus modeling us being in charge of our lives.  This is why we believe Life Spring Network was commissioned: God is guiding us, so that we can help you wherever you’re stuck.  He is waiting to take you on His journey.  Most likely, He’s already loaded you with cues.  Our Lord loves us, He desires us and He dwells IN us, but we must humble ourselves before Him often…and ask for directions.

Lord God, thank you for Your love and Your guidance.  Open the eyes of each person reading this to what Jesus is already up to in each of their lives.  Break down any barriers to the first step of unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit in them today.  Fix all of our eyes on Jesus and teach us how to follow You well so that we can help others to experience and express Your love.  Amen

 

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Coaches Corner January 2017 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-january-2017/ Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:18:42 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18646 Recalibrate…Good Times!  C’mon!

January is a common month for us to make resolutions toward change.  We often search ourselves to determine priorities for change, and many of these resolutions seek to change the outside of us by what we do:  eat better, exercise more, spend less money, help more people, go to church more.  While I do believe that these resolutions can help us work toward positive change, what is critical is the right motivation behind the resolution: Specifically, WHO is working on our insides, and are we seeking His guidance for what happens next?

The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian and is equal with the Father and the Son as God.  He is present in the world to make us aware of our need for Jesus Christ, gives us the gift of saving faith in Jesus, and provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right.

The Christian seeks to live under His control daily.  But, do I?  Do you?

When we set out to recalibrate our lives and make resolutions toward change, why do we choose what we do?  Do we look to our friends to see what is popular?  Do we look to our earthly leaders to see what they would choose for us? Do we bend to our idols?

Praise our all-knowing Father of all goodness, for making Himself readily available to us as Christians, but even more freely as Americans.  We have open, 24/7 access to prayer, freedom to study the Bible and worship together, and many opportunities for fellowship and encouragement when our circumstances leave us feeling wayward or completely lost.  We are not promised problem- or trial-free circumstances.  We are not even encouraged to do more or to do differently to gain our Father’s favor.

Because of our Father’s goodness, we are promised the Holy Spirit.  And, through Him, we are assured love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, despite whatever earthly circumstances we are facing.

Two years ago, I was forced to face this very question:  Where was my guidance coming from?  I realized that although I had been a church-going believer most of my life, I was having difficulty moving beyond the holy discontent, the thought that “there must be something more.  I must need to BE something more.”  I could make a list of all the people and ways I’d failed.  I also had a list of people I’d rather be more like.  I made lists of resolutions and then more resolutions on what to do when the original resolutions didn’t resolve as planned. I kept trying harder and harder to be a “good Christian” and found my attempts leaving me feeling like a failure.  Unloved and useless.

But something began to change when I surrendered all the resolutions to Jesus under one verse:

              “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)

With the help of the Life Spring Network team, the petals of the “onion” that is my life began to get peeled away until I could clearly see myself as God sees me:

              “I am His beloved daughter.  With ME, He is well pleased.”

As this message took residence in my heart, my mind began to transform, just as the Bible says it will in Romans 12:2.  As I pressed into my relationship with my Lord, fear was replaced by HOPE.  Low energy was replaced by renewed PASSION.  I began to see each day as being filled with new opportunities.  Now that I didn’t have to be in charge, the direction often changed.

No longer am I as concerned with WHAT I’m doing, but more WHY I’m doing it and for WHOM.  With God as my leader, options are often fewer because clarity is God’s method.  Choices are easier to make without the confusion.  The one thing that remains the same is that I don’t know the outcome.  When I was in charge, that brought about more fear.

              With God in charge, the fear is replaced by FAITH.

So, for all of you fellow “good Christians” out there, going to church but also holding on to the leadership of your lives, consider that it may be time for you, too, to recalibrate.  This goes for all of us, regardless of what level of leadership we’ve been given in the church.  Because of our flesh, we all need encouragement to turn back to our source of light…our source of LIFE.  It may feel a little like jumping into the deep end of a pool for a while, but our lifesaver is in us, and He always sees the water line.

              God’s goodness awaits.  Recalibrate…good times!  C’mon!

Father God, thank You for the Holy Spirit in us.  May we each hear your call to ARISE and SHINE, for your light HAS come and your glory rises upon US.  Help us with our unbelief and make the path clear as we recalibrate with You as our guide. 

If you want to recalibrate with our Lord, but aren’t sure where to start, please call us at Life Spring Network 630-259-8438.

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Coaches Corner August 2016 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-august-2016/ Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:02:51 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18541 Follow The Light Into Courageous Leadership

This past month, several of our Life Spring Network and LUKE team members had the privilege of attending a leadership conference called the Global Leadership Summit. Over two days, we heard a wide variety of stories and songs from all over the world with a common thread: following God’s grander vision to raise the bar of leadership wherever we’re planted and live into the abundant life God desires for each of us.

As God guides us to seek wise counsel, these voices spoke Biblical wisdom, as an occasional mentor would. I thought I would pass along some of the highlights, and as I pray the wisdom blesses your life, I trust by faith that He will.

The two-day conference began in song, and some of the lyrics that so aptly launched the event were: “for YOU”, “brave”, “all we’ve got”, “steady light”, “raise the beams” and “who shall we assemble to make the darkness tremble?” These phrases seem to shape a perfect prayer as we set out this very day, in surrender to our Lord, to pick up our crosses and carry them to His glory.

Father, for YOU, we bravely look into your steady light and power up with your Spirit to give all we’ve got to love others into unity that raises the beams of your light and make the darkness tremble!

Not so coincidentally, this grander vision of leadership is the reason I believe Life Spring Network was commissioned by God. For the last ten years, LSN has been blessing churches with an ever-evolving list of services and resources, all laser-focused on God’s mission for our lives. Many of our pastors speak with us about vision and mission. They’re often in agreement on our Christian mission being “to go and make disciples” (Matthew 28). But strategizing and executing a plan to work on mission can be elusive.

Is God’s commission to make disciples a process of programs and specific list of steps to take? No. While the process will take form (action through programs and lists), the process of discipleship is through RELATIONSHIP. Love from God becomes loving people in our calling of servanthood by the power of the Holy Spirit in us (love from God!). If the steady light we prayed about above (God) is not the empowering presence of everything we do, then that’s sin.

So then, hopefully, we go back to the beginning: surrender to God and let Him empower us to love people. When God answers our prayers, and as our eyes are opened to what God wants to do through the gifts he has given all of us, what do we do? Do we find ourselves stuck? Instead of the darkness trembling, which is what God promises will happen, are we so fearful that we can’t move forward? Is our potential stifled by confusion and chaos? Is our potential stifled by religious striving? In many churches today, the answer is yes. In many people today, the answer is yes.

In my life, before I engaged in an intentional journey of discipleship and opened myself up to covenant community, I didn’t realize how important it was for me to be ready to share what God is doing through my life right now…to look into and let His light shine. I was more concerned with keeping the inevitable darkness and the pervasive chaos hidden, all the while pushing the Spirit away and stifling the reproduction of who God created me to be (discipleship). Does God need to use me? No. Does God choose to use me? Yes. “Be fruitful and multiply” comes early in the Bible, and Jesus adds the parable of the talents. Those are just two of the many passages that show God’s desire for our hearts freely given to Him. And what beauty He makes of our chaos! Looking into God’s light will cast vision on WHO matters (God), empower us to love people and to keep on keeping on (faith).

Your faith will open your eyes to God’s grander vision, inevitably draw followers (leadership), and as you welcome God’s training in righteousness, His guidance will produce growth – all to His glory. As He grows us, His love overflows to others, and the reproductive cycle of discipleship continues.

But as God continues to commission us to lead, leadership can be uncomfortable. Leadership requires growth in relationships, and relationships are hard. Danielle Strickland writes in her book, A Beautiful Mess; How God Recreates Our Lives,

“Leadership may feel more like holding on for dear life in the middle of a storm than a position of untouchable optimism. Undoubtedly for a leader that is a lonely and dark place, deep with questions of self-doubt concerning the lack of right qualifications to really be the leader, and a fear of ‘what might happen if we don’t make it.’ The skill of a leader is to recognize this as ‘chaos’, part of the cyclical process of chaotic order, and the source of creativity and growth.” (page 32)

Where God guides, He provides. If you’re feeling stuck, fearful, discouraged, confused or chaotic right now, go back to the beginning. Recall your love for God and how He called you to Himself in the first place. Pray, and welcome the LIGHT back in. Look for the relational changes that God is empowering you to make. And, if you need a partner in faith, call us at Life Spring Network (630) 259-8438 or visit www.lifespringnetwork.org.

Father, for YOU, we bravely look into your steady light and power up with your Spirit to give all we’ve got to love others into unity that raises the beams of your light and make the darkness tremble! Amen.

 

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Coaches Corner July 2016 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-july-2016/ Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:46:27 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18533 Please Pass the Prayer

Last month, we talked about the need for prayer, building prayer filled relationships, and asking God to enhance our perspective on His power through prayer.  This month, we are going to look at practical tips for letting God change our tactics on prayer-filled living in the church. Why?  Because while we reviewed with our member churches the initiatives intended to build prayer-filled relationships, often these are led by Pastors or church staff.  There is a noticeable difference between when Pastors and church staff lead prayer and when prayers are led by all the community of believers, and I want to encourage you to begin to “pass the prayer” leadership to others.

If you are the person who is often looked to for leading prayer, this Coaches Corner is especially for you.  It is time to pass the prayer!  If there is a Pastor in the room, most often people want to hear them speak because of their knowledge of the Word, their experience praying and quite frankly we are often intimidated by the skill with which Pastors pray.  We call on Pastors and other experienced pray-ers (often labeled prayer warriors) when people are sick or at Christian celebrations, and we have therefore often become a Christian culture where we ONLY pray when there is an experienced prayer warrior to pray for us.  Here are some practical ideas that some of our churches are using to pass the prayer, so that God is glorified through the prayers of all people, not just those who are articulate in prayer.

In Life groups, train your leaders to call on others to open in prayer, close in prayer, or sometimes to spontaneously pray when the Spirit exalts something that needs to be covered in prayer.  It has been my surprising experience that, as I have been using this technique in my Life Group, NOT ONE person has ever turned down the opportunity to talk with God – even out loud.  If the person does happen to decline or just looks like they’re going to “poop their pants,” then of course do not force them to pray.  But, trust the Holy Spirit in them and by faith, try this.  As we begin to allow the prayers of all of us who believe to be heard in group, real transformation is happening.  God is moving.  And, it is spectacular.

Another Spirit-empowered technique is to ask a church member whom God inspires you to ask to lead the prayers of the church in worship.  There may initially be GASPS from the congregation when it is someone other than a robe-clad, poetic prayer champion in front of the church leading prayer.  But, by faith, God transforms the gasps over change into gasps over HIS power as the prayers are heard and, more importantly, answered.  I will never forget the first time that a brother in Christ told me that my prayers for healing over his wife were answered.  We were both in awe of God’s power over a very simple, but faith empowered request to our Father.  It was a supernatural moment for both of us.

Also, when you are prompted to pray for another Christian, let them know about it if possible.  One of the beauties of technology these days is the ability to quickly let someone know you are thinking of them:  email, text, a quick phone call.  The purpose is not to inform them of your effort on their behalf.  The purpose is to let them begin to experience God’s love through the power of prayer when they recognize God moving in response to the prayers of a righteous person (them!) and through the power of community.

Passing the prayer to others will help grow our faith as we see others begin to GASP at God’s glory instead of at changes that make us uncomfortable.  We will all continue the journey of transformation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it will be glorious.

May God bless you, as you seek to share the incredible gift of prayer with others.  Amen.

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Coaches Corner June 2016 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-june-2016/ Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:26:05 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18519 Connection through PRAYER

No pastor or church leader I’ve yet spoken with disagrees that we are all called to obey The Great Commission (to go and make disciples). The rub generally comes shortly after this awareness and conviction when the obstacles that are naturally a part of the spiritual battle start assaulting the abundant life God calls us to (Ephesians 6:12).

Last month, we talked about the obstacle of TIME. This month, we’re going to begin the journey of talking through the spiritual functions that, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, help us break through the obstacles, albeit sometimes more slowly than we humanly would like. First, a reminder that Biblically speaking, God gets all the credit for everything we do. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to function in ways that facilitate movement (growth) in us and in others as we walk in Him. The Bible says that the devil is also among us, seeking to steal, kill and destroy, which includes – often cunningly and stealthily – within our closest relationships and in our churches. Yet here is no question that God is still at work: through His Word, our circumstances, through others, and through PRAYER.

This function is our topic for June: PRAYER. God’s design for us as disciples is for us to experience His love and express it to others. He brings us into an intense intimacy with Jesus and then uses us to guide others into that same intimacy. As God is the originator of this plan, it is impossible for us to accomplish it on our own. As we pray, WE will be reminded of our dependence on God, and we will feel the need to pray for God’s power to take us on the journey He planned. To say this in another way, we depend on God’s leadership (or guidance) in our lives. We all need regular devotional and prayer times to connect with God in solitude.

One of the ways we seek the will of God is through prayer, and God may use us to battle against the forces of darkness. We pray for ourselves, our family, our community, people in authority over us, the sick, the poor, the crippled, the needy, etc. We show our need for God and our desire to grow our relationship with Him and others when we pray. It is through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that God uses our lives to influence others. And, as others seek Jesus and build relationships with Him, they respect the spiritual authority and guidance of those God has placed in positions of authority and servanthood in their lives to help lead, guide and shepherd them along their journey of faith, and they commit to seeking out our guidance as well. As we pray for others, the spiritual and relational life change that happens is that they begin to pray too, for God’s will to be done in their lives and in the lives of people in their relational worlds. Prayer is the essence of maximum connection with God and guidance by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

So, why sometimes does it seem so difficult to pray? Why do we wait for others to do the job of prayer for us? As the spiritual warfare distracts us into forgetting the power that is within us, we get caught up in the doing – the forms (formats, programs, content of prayers), and forget that the function (being empowered by the Holy Spirit) is already hard-wired into us…we can’t NOT do it, if we’re submitted to God and in fellowship with Him.

Looking at God’s direction for our prayers, The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:1-4), we see that God invites us into connection with Him with the loving phrase, “Our Father,” and continues with opportunities for us to grow in our understanding of God’s perspective on making His abundant life a practical reality. An integral part of the prayer is the forgiveness of others: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” This is God’s grace to us, and the opportunity to extend His grace to others. If we’re not sincerely engaging in prayer with our loving Father, we’re not able to step onto His bridge to us, follow Him and lead others toward Him.

We also can fall into the trap of relying on others to pray for us, instead of engaging in God’s prompting for each of us to pray. For example, we go to church every Sunday and pray (or listen to our Pastor’s pray). We may say grace before meals, teach our children to say bedtime prayers, pray when someone REALLY needs it (they’re sick or lose a job, etc.), pray when WE really need something fixed, or even talk a lot about praying but fall asleep doing it or forget to do what we say we will. Praise God, He intercedes for us even when we don’t speak to Him. But, in gifting us the Holy Spirit, He wants our hearts and He wants to connect with us constantly (Phil 4:6-7) in whatever form best works for us: on our knees or in our car, up in a tree or looking at stars…Form follows function.

Personal or corporate, formal or conversational, short or long doesn’t matter. Martin Luther said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” All forms are heard by our Father and are answered, in His way and in His timing. In Mark 11:22-25, Jesus says to the disciples, “…Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But, when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too.”

If you’ve gotten into a prayer rut, and your confidence in God’s sovereignty in your life has been stolen to the point that your joy is incomplete, ask God to refresh you. Matthew 7:7 reminds us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Try a new form in praying. I often use my car time to pray for the many people that God brings to mind at all different moments and for all different reasons. I keep a box of tissues in my car when I need to cry out my biggest needs and most difficult struggles to Him, knowing that He is a willing, loving and faithful God. (Psalm 25:10, for one)

One Pastor  prays over the empty sanctuary seats before Sunday Services, and often for the people who he knows occupy those seats every week. As he has invited others into praying for those people as well, these prayer warriors have instituted other prayer forms that the Pastor himself doesn’t engage in. The Pastor is supportive of them since all prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16). How are we righteous? Through Jesus!

It can also be helpful to revisit the stories of the prayer warriors of the Bible: Moses, Nehemiah, David, Solomon, Paul, Mary, Jesus…just to name a few. They all had different styles of prayer, but ultimately went to Our Father, seeking connection with Him. That’s simply what prayer is (connection), and it’s a spiritual function of the Holy Spirit in us – a gift that we all have by grace.

So, how might the Holy Spirit be drawing you closer to Him through prayer right now? What big or small needs are you feeling called to bring before Him today – for yourself, for others? What new form or discipline might you try to draw closer to Our Father in prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer (NLT)

Our Father in heaven,

May your name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come soon.

May your will be done on earth,

As it is in heaven.

Give us today the food we need,

And forgive us our sins,

As we have forgiven those who sin against us.

And don’t let us yield to temptation,

And, as you continue to pray, watch for God’s intervention and direction. Again, He is your biggest fan and wants you to experience His abundant love and express His love to others through your life. As long as your prayers originate out of your relationship with Him, you can expect Him to work them out in His way and in His timing.

We at Life Spring Network are praying for you, in Jesus’ name – our brothers and sisters in Christ — so that God’s glory will be seen through His Church – His body – as we approach His throne of grace with confidence and receive more mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Our Father, let us be vessels for You, through prayer…fertile ground that soaks up Your falling rain and bears good crop for You – our farmer – so that You keep Your blessing on us. Help us keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what we hope for will come true. Then, we will not become spiritually dull and indifferent, but be the example of those who are going to inherit Your promises because of our faith and endurance (Hebrews 6). Thank you Father for the gift of connecting with you through prayer. Amen.

 

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Colossians 4:2

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Coaches Corner May 31, 2016 http://lifespringnetwork.org/coaches-corner-may-31-2016/ Tue, 31 May 2016 16:09:39 +0000 http://lifespringnetwork.org/?p=18515 One of the most common obstacles heard from church leaders is TIME. There are so many demands made of the church staff: funerals, weddings, dynamic worship, baptisms, youth and family ministry, service opportunities, inspiration, education…lots of spiritual healing. Leaders find it challenging to satisfy all these requests because there often seems to be the expectation that the Pastor and his staff are responsible not only to lead people through their spiritual needs, but to do the work of faith for their churchgoing people.

The Church, when it is functioning by faith, is the healthiest relational community on Earth and God’s instrument to train the world in loving relationships. If our church communities are looking to Pastors and church leaders to be the active connection with our loving God, then it inevitably leads to a drain on the church staff. This is because people aren’t being led on a journey of discipleship, but rather religion. God has to do the work; if you are too busy, perhaps even you have been led into doing too much in your own strength, rather than in God’s strength by faith.

The evidence of a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit instead of by human strength is the spiritual and relational life changes that happen along the journey. As we grow through many different experiences fostered in relationship with God and others, we grow in our potency to pray, evangelize, teach, worship, fellowship, steward, and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. As each person is transformed into a disciple, our churches are transformed into healthy relational communities that not only model loving relationships to the world, but organically train the world in how to live as disciples as well.

So what to do? Like each person, each church is guided and empowered by God to pursue living on mission with Him. The Bible provides the framework, and Life Spring Network guides you as a church leader to look beyond the inevitable obstacles of the Enemy to revise and implement your unique ministry map – a mission map – that is as simple or multifaceted as the Lord guides and empowers your congregations to pursue. This ministry map will change and evolve over time as God enables you to engage in the Spiritual and Relational life changes along the way. If you’re feeling unable to find the TIME to do the planning while you are still being asked for all the things noted in the first paragraph, consider the following question:

Do you believe in – live by faith — the Biblical call to discipleship as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20? How do you know? Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you?

Since we can’t take people on a journey we are not on ourselves, perhaps it’s time to pass the burden of TIME onto “Him, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) Since everything begins in relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, bathed in prayer, start there. How are you allowing God to lead people into unceasing prayer, not just in church on Sunday and not just with you or by others, but WITH others? It takes little time to be sure that prayer is the underlying current of every experience you are part of planning or facilitating. Others will follow; others will grow, because they will be following Jesus in you. Time isn’t our enemy, but our Enemy is taking our time. Together, woven tightly with God’s power in us, we can take it back! Talk with your coach about your unique Ministry Map and watch the Church arise. If you’re not a 360 member, check out our website (lifespringnetwork.org) to learn more.

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