Monday, May 6, 2013

My "A" Team

Every Thursday morning, at about 8:00AM, I begin the 5 hour process of writing a first draft of my Sunday message.  Usually this is a pleasant process, though sometimes it feels like I am wading through molasses in Minnesota in the middle of winter.  Before starting, I always try to remember what John Ortberg told me once about preaching and the importance of starting the process with "Joy."  A bad sermon is one that is written without "Joy," a good one always has "Joy", John told me.  And so, even if I am not feeling "Joy" as I begin my message writing process I always try to manufacture it, and pray for it.  There is always something to be joyful about.

One of the great encouragements to me is that each week, on Thursday morning, I do not write my sermons alone.  As I sit at my writing desk in my home, (and glue my butt to the chair - Dale Bruner's words not mine...), I remember that at the very same moment there are four incredible women in my church office who are meeting to pray for the church, to pray for the FPC ministry, and to pray for my sermon writing process.  These women, it must be said, are:

My "A" Team

My "A" Team take their jobs very seriously.  For example, a week or so ago, I was in my office because by some act of God I had actually finished my sermon draft a day earlier on Wednesday.  I entered my office at church.  For some reason it had slipped my mind that my "A" team were meeting there.  The women were all deep in prayer.  "What are you doing?" they asked.  "We were praying for you.  You are supposed to be writing your sermon."  "I know," said, "I finished yesterday."  They did not say it, but I sensed a collective message from their gaze; "Well, get back and work on it some more, we are praying for you..."

Prayer changes reality.  Let me say that again.  Prayer changes reality.  Many years ago in Seattle, Washington, a group of mothers decided that it was time that the University Presbyterian Church of Seattle, Washington had a serious University ministry.  These women decided that what they would do to help get the ball rolling was to meet weekly and to pray in a hotel lobby called, "The Inn."  Year after year they prayed.  No college program.  The moms went to the church leadership and decried the lack of a University ministry.  No college program.  The moms continued to meet and pray.  Every week they prayed in season and out of season.  Their main prayer?  A serious college program.  Finally, somewhere along the line, God answered that prayer.  Today, there is a program at UPC, Seattle that has somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 college students a week, who meet on a Wednesday night.  The name of the program?  "The Inn" - named after the hotel where the handful of moms prayed for so many years.

The beginning of 'The Church" as we know it, is really a story about the power of prayer.  Jesus ascended into heaven, and for a long period, 10 days to be exact, the disciples were listless, lost, without purpose, without direction, without Jesus in their midst.  The Bible tells us that these early disciples and apostles (not just the first 12, but around 72), met in an upstairs room and prayed.  We do not know how long they prayed, but we know that somewhere along the way a wind entered that room and blew through, carrying with it little licks of fire on the tops of each of their heads.  We call this Pentecost (50 days after Easter).  The early disciples were God's "A" team of prayers.  If God was assisted by "A" team prayers, so can we be.  Who are your "A" team?  Do you serve on an "A" team of prayer?  Would you like to serve on my "A" team of prayer.  Give it a try.  And change the world!

All For Now,

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