What Does God Think About Prayer?

One of the most counter-intuitive moments in scripture is when the children of Israel are trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea.

The people are panicked, angry at Moses for getting them in this mess, yelling at him, asking why he had them escape just to die, telling him they would rather be slaves in Egypt than slaughtered in the desert.

It wasn’t a great “leadership moment” for Moses.

On top of them being angry, Moses gives some advice and guidance that seems right initially, but he gets it totally wrong.

He tells them, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.”

Sounds like good advice and great faith, doesn’t it?

We hear this advice all the time.

“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will rescue us from this sad world.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of the poor.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will bless us and give us the desires of our heart.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of our needs.”

This was God’s response to Moses’ advice to, “Not be afraid. Stand still and watch the Lord rescue.”

He said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Quit praying and tell the people to get moving!”

Now I grew up in church and I never heard one sermon where the pastor told us to quit praying.

In fact it seemed like all we did was pray.
We prayed for Jesus to come back.
We prayed that evil people would get their due.
We prayed that we would  not get stained by an immoral world.
We prayed for who would become president.
We prayed that God would bless us financially.
We prayed that other denominations would become holy like we were.
We even prayed for people less fortunate than us.
We prayed, went home for a week, and then came back and prayed again.
We prayed often, with eloquence.
Our church would have won a prayer contest.
We even had a chapel called the “House of Prayer.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for prayer.

Prayer is where I gain my intimacy with God.
Prayer is where I get the power to live.
Prayer is where I gain wisdom.
Prayer is where I find peace.
Prayer is where I experience rest.
Prayer is the foundation to my life in faith.

So why did God tell Moses to quit praying and get moving?

Well, here is my theory. And I think it is a pretty good one.

Many times prayer is an excuse to not do something that we know God has already told us to do.

There are many things we don’t have to pray about.

Serving the poor.
Caring for orphans.
Taking care of widows.
Being a father to the fatherless.
Feeding the hungry.
Sheltering the homeless.
Clothing the naked.
Forgiving our enemy.
Rescuing young women and children who have been sex trafficked.
Fighting injustice.

These are things we don’t have to pray and ask whether it is God’s will or not.

In fact, it is possible to actually pray more while moving farther and farther away from God.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah once and said, “When you lift your hands in prayer, I will not look at you. No matter how much you pray, I will not listen…See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.”

This may be blasphemy, but I would like to challenge the American church to pray less and do more.

Get out of your prayer meetings and go help someone.

Leave your worship services and feed someone.

Stop talking about the poor and invite the homeless into your services.

Stop building bigger buildings and spend more money on local and global missions.

Stop looking the other way and sponsor children in poverty stricken countries. (www.compassion.com)

Cancel your women’s teas and your men’s breakfasts and rebuild a widow’s home or mentor a child who has no father.

Stop praying for blessings and help those who God has asked us very clearly to help, because that is where the blessings are!

I believe that God is saying today, “Stop asking me for more things, stop asking me about my will, I have made it very plain what I want you to be doing.” (Read Isaiah 58, Matthew 25, James 1:27, Psalms 82)

I think He would go on to say, “And while you are doing those things, pray! Pray hard, pray often, and I will give you the strength and the wisdom and courage to shine your light and “storm the gates” of poverty and hopelessness and loneliness and the world will be drawn to Me and the world will know that I am love.”

What happened when God told Moses, to quit praying and get moving?

They experienced a miracle.

May the church do the same!

Share with me what you think about this topic after reading some great quotes about prayer and action:

Action without prayer is arrogance, prayer without action is hypocrisy. – Jose Zayas

Action is the normal completion of the act of will which begins as prayer. That action is not always external, but it is always some kind of effective energy. – Dean Inge

Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. – Woodrow Wilson

About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation. – Will Rogers

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Søren Kierkegaard

Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish. -Author Unknown

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave

Practical prayer is harder on the soles of your shoes than on the knees of your trousers. – Austin O’Malley

Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” – Alan Redpath

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. – Indian Proverb

Prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service on behalf of the poor. – Mother Teresa

4 Things You Should Do Every Day

These 4 things, if you do them every day, will raise your level of joy, lower your level of stress and frustration and raise your level of purpose and significance.

First, learn to GIVE THANKS every day.

We think that once we experience joy, then we will be thankful, but the truth is, when we are thankful, joy is the byproduct.

Being thankful does not necessarily change our outside circumstances, but it does change our attitude and our perspective at how we look at things.

Experts say that practicing regular gratitude can change the way our brain neurons fire into more positive automatic patterns.

Henry Ward Beecher once said, “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

Show me a person who practices gratitude, and I will show you a hopeful and joyful person.

Show me an ungrateful person, and I will show you someone you want to avoid.

William Arthur Ward wrote, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?”

The psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Read them every day. Thank God for them every day. Tell the ones who are on your list how thankful you are for them. Read Psalm 100 every day.

Second, learn to practice CONFESSING YOUR SINS to God daily.

We were not made to carry the weight of our mistakes.

It robs us of energy, it leads to depression and it can beat down our souls.

David wrote in the Psalms, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. …My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

Our bodies were not designed to hold on to sin.

Confession is God’s gift to us.

David goes on to say, “Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. … And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone”

Another part of confession is having someone in your life who you can share your sins with. This person is someone who is safe, confidential and wants what is best for you.

In the New Testament James wrote, “When we confess our sins to another human being, it brings healing to our minds, hearts and bodies.”

Practice this confessional prayer from Psalm 51 each day:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Third, learn to CRY OUT TO GOD every day.

We all have fears, dreams, frustrations, questions and hurts that are swimming around in our soul.

Holding on to them can lead to all types of strange emotions and dysfunctions.

It is cathartic to tell God every day how you are feeling and what you are thinking about.

And you don’t need a filter with God.

You can tell God everything! The good, bad and the ugly.

It is interesting to me that David who was known as a “man after God’s own heart” wrote a lot of the psalms which I consider the original blues.

David in one moment was telling God how great He was, and the next moment was yelling at God for abandoning him.

One moment he was thanking God for his faithfulness, the next moment doubting if God would come through during difficult times.

I encourage you to read the psalms and learn from David.

I encourage you to talk to God more honestly throughout the day.

Tell Him your fears, frustrations and dreams.

Find a secluded, safe place to be unfiltered with Him.

Watch your energy and clarity increase.

C. John Miller says, “Honest prayer unmasks your real need and puts you in the presence of a rich Christ who wants to meet you as you really are.”

Fourth, I would encourage you to be a DEFENDER OF THE POOR every day.

Psalm 82 instructs us to, “Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”

You can do this in large and small ways.

The key is to look for opportunities.

Jesus said that offering food, clothing, shelter, water, fighting for justice and visiting the sick and imprisoned is where you meet Jesus.

Imagine what your life would look and feel like if you met Jesus every day.

No wonder Jesus said that we are happier and more blessed when we are giving rather than receiving.

He also said that what we have been freely given(Grace), we should in return freely give away(Grace).

I encourage you to try these 4 things every day for a few weeks and see how your life changes.

I would love to here your responses!
Just hit the “Leave a Comment” button and feel free to share.

It Is Time To Decide!

One day a hopeless alcoholic named Bill W. makes a choice, “I will not take another drink. If it kills me, I will not.”

He has made a thousand promises before, but this time he decides, “Whatever it costs, I will pay. However I have to rearrange my life, I will rearrange my life. Whatever help I need to get from beyond myself, I will get. I’ve decided.”

That one choice led to the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous and has changed the lives of millions of alcoholics.

Henry Nouwen was at the top of his profession: “Everyone was saying I was doing really well, but something inside me was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger. I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with my ego and self-image. I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place. In the midst of this I kept praying, ‘Lord, show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear and unambiguous about it!’ Well, God was. In the person of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche communities for mentally handicapped people, God said, ‘Go and live among the poor in spirit, and they will heal you.’ So I moved from Harvard to L’Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and woman who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of our society. It was a very hard and painful move.”

Nouwen went on to say, “It was hard, but over time I re-discovered my faith, I regained my soul, and I discovered a joy and a peace and a contentment that was no where to be found in my previous “successful” world.”

One of Nouwen’s most motivating quotes was, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope”

Choices. They shape us and make us.

One of my heroes in my life is a guy named Dave.

Dave had retired early from a successful career and was living the comfortable, American retirement dream.

Yet God was going to ask him to make a decision.
“Will you live the rest of your life, comfortable and safe, or will you take an adventure of a lifetime, that will be anything but comfortable and safe?”

On a short term mission’s trip to Baja Mexico, Dave encountered a church that was trying to feed children breakfast every morning before they went to school.

The Mexican government had closed down a Tijuana garbage dump, covered it with a couple of feet of dirt, and divided the land into lots, and sold them to the poorest of the poor.

This is where the church existed.

If a child is born there, and lives there his entire life, their life span is somewhere around 35 years.

The toxins are deadly. You cannot grow food there.

This church was trying to feed children with limited resources and a few volunteers.

They needed a leader. They needed someone whose heart was being called by God to make a radical decision.

Dave, who knew very little Spanish, who knew very few people, who knew not how hard this would be, moved to Tijuana and began to lead and build up the breakfast club.

A few years later, 300 plus breakfasts are being served daily, children are being helped to enroll and stay in school, families are connecting to resources and the church, a lunch program has started, medical attention has happened, families are getting their very fragile homes fixed and hope is beginning to flood this toxic valley.

Children now have an advocate and Dave’s plan is to get them educated and move out of these closed garbage dumps and live productive lives.

All of this, while finding out that God loves them and has a plan for their life.

Here is an excerpt from Dave’s latest blog:
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Maribel’s Story:

It was a number of months before we ever met Maribel… It was her children Armando and Ariana who first captured our hearts. They would show up at the Breakfast Club and could easily eat several portions each morning.  So we would send some food home with them during the week.

As time went on, we were able to find out where they lived and went to visit. They live in one of the worst sections of the Canyon. In order to get your vehicle there, you have to drive through a cemetery covered in refuse, broken glass and smoldering fires. This is where they burn items in order to get the metal out of it to recycle it for money. This was why the kids were always covered in black soot when we saw them in the mornings.

And this is where we first met Maribel. As I shook her hand, I noticed her arms were completely blacked all the way to her elbows. Her hands felt like broken concrete. Her house had caught fire and burned while preparing a meal. They had made a make shift shelter out of old sheets of plywood with a tarp for a roof and a cloth over the door opening. It was only about 4 foot high, so you had to get on your hands and needs to get in. This was their home….


We invited her to come down to the Breakfast Club each day for her meals and some food to take home as well as some clothes we had at the Church. When she did come to visit, there happened to be a visiting Pastor there who heard the story and took them to the store to get some items and had one of his team members drive up and build them a small house with a real door and window in it.

Slowly, over many months, Maribel came to visit us more often and eventually asked if she could help clean up after the breakfast. She knew that we all went to Church service each Sunday and one week, I felt someone tugging on my shirt sleeve. And there was Maribel, with clean clothes, her hair done and both of the kids in tow.

Today, Maribel is one of our most active Church members. She is one of the cooks for the Breakfast Club, she attends every Church service, she helps with every community outreach project the Church is involved with and helps lead the NA group meetings which are held every night.

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C. S. Lewis once said, “The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”

I was recently flying out of Heathrow Airport in London on a 747 and I have noticed that when a 747 starts to take off, there is a point of no return, a speed threshold at which the pilot is powering up and at that moment the plane either has to take off into the air or face a certain crash on the ground because it’s going too fast to stop.

There are tens of millions of Americans sitting in pews or padded chairs (or in Green Valley’s case, plastic orange chairs) weekend after weekend, hearing sermon after sermon, and they have been sitting on the runway for years.

Some have been revving their engines for years but have never taken flight.

Has there ever come a point in your life where you made a complete, whole hearted, unreserved, without hesitation commitment to your creator and His Son, Jesus Christ, and said, “God, I’m going to decide to live my life the way You want me to live it.”

I don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t either. But choose to make it count.

I love what Wes Stafford, President of Compassion International says about his travels: “I go to parts of the world that are hurting and broken and I ‘comfort the afflicted.’ And then I come home and try to ‘afflict the comfortable.’ And I have to try to love them the same way.”

Bill Hybels challenges us with these words, “Life is too short and the world too compassion starved for you and I to keep subsisting in situations that drag us down and curtail our potential to help advance the Kingdom of God. There’s too much at stake. Eternity is at stake!”

Your choices make you and shape you.

It’s Time To Decide!

Read more of Dave and the Breakfast Club at http://breakfastclub.vpweb.com/default.html

A Piece of Me Died Today, A Piece of Me Lived


These are some thoughts that I have been experiencing over the last week: Life is truly a journey.

I wrote this on a plane coming home from my nieces wedding. Becky is a beautiful bride and her mother, my sister Rhonda, was a beautiful soul.
————————————————————————————————————————-

A piece of me died today, a piece of me lived.
A piece of me tried today, a piece of me didn’t
A piece of me cried today, tears full of stain
A piece of me lied today, avoiding the pain

Life moving fast, never ending the same
Voices of reason, always getting the blame
A wound ignored, a heart who needs mending
It makes wrong choices, leads to bad endings

I’ve lost a sister, now it looks like I’ve lost more
It’s hard to explain, if you haven’t walked through that door
The sadness is deep, because the memories are good
I need to take the high road, I know that I should

A piece of me shouted, “Let the truth be shown!”
A piece of me whispered, “Don’t throw the first stone.”
A piece of me wished, “Things need to get fixed.”
A piece of me prayed, “Let Your will be the fit.”

Wish I could go back, do the things we used to do
They say that doesn’t work, every day is new
So I’ll drink today, be it a bitter-sweet cup
I’ll focus on the good, always looking up

A piece of me saw today, that great divide
Where there’s no shame, arms open wide
“I want to see more!” my heart screams and shouts
Faith is where I believe, overriding the doubt

I can see her smile, I can see her hair
I can see her worry, I can see her flair
I can see her warmth, I can see her care
I can see her pain, this isn’t fair

But I can see her grace in her children so grown
Her house was a refuge, a safe place, a home
Memories flood our minds, our hearts seem beleaguered
Because they’re preparing the way to being reunited forever

God bless you Rhonda and the legacy you have left.
Until we meet again.

Throwing Stones

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott

Many of us have felt the emotional sting of being judged.

A high school girl feels the rejection of not fitting in the “in crowd.”

A divorced person feels the shame of married friends looking at her like she is a failure.

A person of Arab descent, feels the looks of people all around him as he sits in an airport waiting to visit family.

A single mom struggling to make ends meet, her car 15 years old, clothes not the latest fashion, she notices that when she is in a crowd, she seems to be invisible.

A man struggling with addiction, has lost his family and messed up his career, is afraid to talk to anyone about his issues, for fear of being judged.

We have all felt the sting of being judged.

It is a sting that stays with us far after the judgment has been rendered.

You may feel that sting right now.

Jesus said, “I have come to save the world and not to judge it.”

Jesus knew the sting of being judged.

Jesus once spoke, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”

Have you ever judged someone because they were different than you?

Please be honest with this question.

I do not want lightning to strike while you are reading this.

A couple of years ago I was working on a weekend message at a coffee shop.

As I was working on a message that I am sure had to do with the love of God, I saw from the corner of my eye a young man walk through the doors that was tatted up, wearing skinny jeans(ouch!) and a very tight tank top.

He came strutting in like he owned the place.

I do not have an issue with tattoos, but I did not like his body language. Plus his jeans made me hurt.

I instantly identified what this kid was all about.

He was a pompous, insecure, “life is all about me” kind of guy. You could just tell.

That all came to me during the 30 seconds I looked at him standing in line to get a cup of coffee or for him probably a frappuccino.

I quickly got back to my message about God’s love.

About 5 minutes later I noticed someone standing real close to me.

I tried to ignore this someone because I was putting together a message about the love of God.

But it got a little awkward, so I looked up, and standing there was this skinny-jeaned, frappuccino loving, arrogant punk.

Great. Now what?

Before I could say anything he gently put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You are the pastor at Green Valley aren’t you?”

I didn’t think it was a trick question, so I said, “Yes I am.”

In my mind I was telling him to please hurry, I have to get this sermon on God’s love done.

He smiled and said, “I want to thank you so much for all your church does. I have lived a pretty rough life, and I found Jesus and acceptance and recovery at your church.”

He then started getting emotional, and I started feeling like a complete idiot, and he finished with, “And now I am starting to volunteer with high school students at the church helping them get on a good path, so they don’t have to experience what I have experienced.”

He thanked me again and walked off with a smile on his face.

I tell you that story to show you what a spiritual giant I truly am.

You and I were made to be in the life-saving business, not in the judging business.

The Apostle Paul once said, “Accept one another.”

Those 3 words create a very powerful sentence.

To accept someone means to be FOR THEM.

It does not mean to approve of everything they do.
It means to want what is best for them, no matter what they do.

Judging is the opposite of accepting.

A great example of Jesus accepting someone was when a woman who was caught in adultery by the religious “peeping tom” leaders wanted to kill her with stones.

They said it was Moses’ law and they needed to obey the law.

Jesus said, “That is the law, so why doesn’t the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”

No one could throw the stone(judge), because everyone had sinned.

Let me ask you a question:
HAVE YOU EVER HELD A STONE IN YOUR HAND?

I think of myself as a pretty compassionate person, but I know I have.

Maybe that stone is:
A judgmental thought or comment about another race or culture.
A self-righteous attitude towards those who are involved in a destructive sin.
Gossiping or belittling someone who has a different political or theological view.

FACT: The energy you use holding on to the stone begins to drain the ability to love out of you heart.

It’s hard to be in the life-saving business when your heart is empty of love.

Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

The scriptures say Jesus was a friend of sinners.

They liked being around him and longed for his company.

Meanwhile, legalists found him threatening and morally soft.

The legalist separated “loving God” from “loving people.”

THEY THOUGHT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO LOVE GOD and THROW STONES.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the judgmental, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”

Jesus said “Let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone.”

What might a family, community or our world look like if nobody were to pick up a stone?

You have any stones you need to let go of?

SHARE WITH ME SOME OF THE STONES YOU HAVE HAD TO DROP IN ORDER TO JOIN JESUS IN THE LIFE SAVING BUSINESS.

SHARE WITH ME WHAT YOU THINK OUR WORLD WOULD LOOK LIKE IF NOBODY PICKED UP A STONE.

People’s Answers to Simplifying their Lives

These are some of the responses from my blog “I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
I will continue to post more answers as they come in.

LORI
“Live simply so that others may simply live” Mother Teresa

“This is a spiritual principle that cannot be explained, only lived and experienced.”

“My husband retired a couple of years ago and we thought we’d have to reduce our giving due to reduced income, but decided to give the same amount for a couple of months, and we seemed to have the same amount of money left! It’s crazy, we’ve actually increased our giving, and now sponsor 7 Compassion children (but you know, there’s still space on the refrigerator for more pictures…)”

“When you tell God you want to be able to give to help others, HE changes your desires, and makes a way for it to happen, and brings you great joy.”

PAULINE
“I would like to simplfy my life and make it as honest as possible. Working through the 12 steps in celebrate is helping me with that and with your encouragement I will try harder.”

FORREST
“We have had the phone ring for more work 15 minutes after we prayed, cars that just kept on going even after they should have died, lived on a $500 dollar food budget per month……with a family of 10……..no, not a misprint…$500.00 for 10 people!”

TARA
“After traveling to Africa people often I ask why I like going there so much (not exactly a vacation hot spot . It is hard to explain, but in the land of such extreme poverty, disease, climate, religious bondage, life is simple. Instead of feeling anxious I feel at peace, I feel useful rather than useless, instead of rushed I know I am living exactly in God’s timing.”

ANN
“I do sponsor a Child in Africia(David) and hope he is blessed. I know I am. Especially when we get his letters.”

“We are learning to live on what we have, and help when we can.”

“This is what a Church should do help the people who can not help themselves, that have no voice and no hope, not only financially but in action and emotionally.”

CHERIE
“Every time we have needed Him, He has shown up for us. As a family, we have been through some unbelievable circumstances where we saw “no way out”.

“We have tithed faithfully, even when we felt fear about financial circumstances. I refuse to give in to that fear, because He has proven himself faithful to us, over and over.”

“It makes us feel like we are helping………compassion kids (when you really SEE the difference that SMALL amount of money makes in their lives, it’s like “I can do without this Starbucks every day).”

“When we serve at the Senior Centers, when we rake leaves in a mobile home park, when we help an elderly person navigate the supermarket, even, for me, at work……..the love of Jesus Christ can shine through me, in the way that I treat my patients, and co-workers.”

“Live a life in FULL VIEW, because He sees, even when others do not. Not like “geez, I HAVE to do this, or I’ll get in trouble”, but more like “Lord. I want to honor you”.

PAULA
“Lately, even though we make less now than we ever have, God has put in on my heart to not only give my 10% where needed but more, and with a little fear but lots of faith I have said okay and He is faithful. We have all we need.”

“There’s a sense of true love and family when people help each other and share what they have, even if it’s a cup of coffee. And my 5 year old prays at every dinner for Ines, our compassion child, that she has a nice dinner. He’s been doing that for a year. It warms my heart.”

TIM
“Responses to your questions from your blog.
Question 1. Basic cable $9.95 next step up almost $100.
Question 5. James 4:17. Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. Ouch.”

Matthew 25 34-36 “And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25 40 “Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

These are just some of the responses from my blog,”I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
Would love to hear your response.

The World Needs More Parties

God loves to party.

The Old Testament is filled with parties.

Jesus said that Heaven has a party every time someone decides to follow him.
Jesus spent a lot of time at parties with friends and soon to be friends.

When Jesus was at parties, it bothered the religious leaders of the day who seemed to have their halos on a little too tight.

God’s parties are a lot better than other kinds of parties.

You will never have a bad hangover after one of God’s parties.
You will never have any regrets after one of God’s parties.
You will never find yourself lying on the floor around the toilet making deals with God after one of God’s parties. (Some of you who attended college know exactly what I mean.)

God’s parties are regret free, energizing and can be very addictive.

Tony Campolo writes about John Carlson, a pastor in Minnesota, who gained national attention when he came up with an innovative idea that there should be a special party the night of the senior prom for those who did not have dates.

The pain of not getting asked to the prom can be very demoralizing.

Usually these kids have taken years of abuse at their school as being outsiders and the prom simply provides the finishing blow.

John Carlson thought this was not the kind of party that Jesus would have liked.
It was too exclusive. It seemed to be reserved for the beautiful and the popular.

John planned an alternative prom called the reject prom.
Those who did not have dates were especially invited and the kids loved it.

The reject prom was held the same night as the senior prom and it turned out to be far more fun than the actual senior prom.

Each year the numbers grew. The party got press coverage. The reject prom began to get corporate sponsorship.

It wasn’t long before some of the kids who could get dates and go to the “normal” prom decided not to go.

They preferred to join in the good time that the “rejects” were having at their party.

Tony writes “It’s the kind of party that God ordered in Deuteronomy 14:22-30, where the special orders were to make widows, orphans, the crippled and the blind the guests of honor!!”

Jesus’ party instructions were, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

One of the biggest “Jesus” parties that I have had the privilege of being a part of recently was my churches Thanksgiving Banquet.

It was for those who were going through difficult economic times.
It was for the lonely, the elderly, the forgotten, the homeless or anybody who just needed a warm meal.

People came expecting a food line where they would be handed food and told to keep moving.

What they experienced was something totally different.

We had decorated our food café with linen table clothes, some of our best china and gorgeous centerpieces.

We had happy live music playing.

We had greeters at the door dressed in black and white, who welcomed our guests and directed them to their assigned table where their hosts greeted them as their dinner guests.

Separate servers served drinks, and volunteer chefs cooked the most exquisite five-star thanksgiving meal with some of the most fattening desserts that could be made.

Our guests sat, relaxed, laughed, filled their stomachs and felt valued and loved.

We ended up feeding 500 guests that day, with about 150 volunteers, serving, cooking, welcoming, singing, laughing and crying together!

It was an event that is reshaping the way we do parties.
It has changed the way we do our weekly food and clothing giveaway.

I met one gentleman that day who was all alone.

He had burned bridges with his grown-up kids because of his alcohol addiction.
He was blown away that the banquet was for him.
He came back the next week to church and told me he had not had a drink since the banquet.
I began to see him every week after the banquet and 6 months later, he has still not had a drink.
His kids have noticed a huge change in him, and as I write this, he is having regular visits with his kids and reconciliation is happening.

It started simply with a “Jesus” party.

Jesus said, “Listen, if you follow me, don’t throw parties for people who can give you something back in return for that will be your reward. Throw parties and invite people who can’t do any thing for you, and not only will they be blessed but then I will be the one to reward you.”

I don’t think the world is partying too much.
I just think they are having the wrong kind of parties!

I think the church should find ways to party more often.

I challenge you to carve out time from your busy schedule to get involved with more “Jesus” parties.

You will experience an addiction that you will not want or need to overcome.