Praying with the Echo App

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Have you ever needed an app to pray? Yeah, me neither. However, recently I was made aware of a prayer app called Echo. At first I downloaded it to just check it out. After “checking it out” I decided I could really utilize this app. Its simple interface makes it user-friendly and its notifications ability makes praying on a schedule manageable in our busy lives.

Believe it or not (and you should) most of us do not pray throughout the day because either we do not know how or we do not know what to pray for with the exception of the desperate prayer of “God help me.” Most times, in an attempt to be spiritual we ask God to bless us, keep us, or be with us and never get to the heart of God through directness or specificity.

Prayer is relational. When we boldly and confidently go before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16), we have the fortune of going before a God who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Why would we not want to dial in our prayers to be more precise petitions instead of just asking God to be mindful of us. Jesus did not ask God for help when he knelt in the garden the night before his crucifixion. He precisely asked God to take the cup from him. When Elijah faced the 450 prophets of Baal, he did not ask God to be with him. He built an alter of sacrifice, cut up a bull and placed it on the alter and precisely asked God to let it be known today who is the real God. So when we pray, it should be more than a mere acknowledgement God’s existence and your desire for his participation.

This is where the Echo app comes in. We meander through our day and hardly say a word to God unless we need him. We can turn this attitude around and give God a little more effort by redeeming the technology in our lives. I’m not saying we have to spend a large amount of time for every prayer need on our list but we can spend a little more time praying than we do.

ECHO

The echo app, as I stated earlier, has a very simple interface. You can either use it to pray or use it to schedule prayers. There’s really nothing more to it. When you open the app it gives you the option to “Pray Now” or “Add A Prayer”. I hardly use the pray now option because I mostly let the app notify me when it is time to pray for someone. So really the only time I even open the app is when I need to add a prayer need.

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You can open the app and swipe up from the bottom of the screen and it will give you four options that are quite self-explanatory.

  • Your Prayers
  • Reminders
  • Answered
  • Settings

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The one thing I will highlight in the settings is the Prayer Timer. You can set a timer so if you have a set time of day to pray through your prayer needs you can set the amount of time to pray for each need. It will then notify you when each prayer time is up and what to pray for next.

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The Reminder Type really is the heart of the app. Here you set when and how to be notified each time you need to pray for something or someone. I set mine to push-notify me on my phone. You can also set it to email you or both.

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Lastly is the section of answered prayers. I like this section simply because it acts as an Old Testament alter to remind us what God has done. Here you can check off you answered prayers and keep them to look back and see how God has moved, answered, and been a part of our relationship with him. I like to journal for the same reasons so I also keep a journal (or try to) each and every day so that I can look back where I was and where God has me now.

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I highly recommend this simple app to keep you on track praying throughout your day. It does not take much. When you receive a notification, keep working or doing whatever it is you are doing but silently pray for those needs. If you have the opportunity to stop what your doing, then that is even better. Stop for a moment and pray. This app will propel your prayer life. The best thing is it is FREE. So get to it!

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This Sunday at Village Church

Sunday, July 10th.

It’s our monthly gathering at Village Church.

Do you live in the Cornersville/Lynnville TN area? Great! Do you have a church home? Too bad. You should!

Join us at Village Church as we unpack the “mystery” Paul so passionately describes in Ephesians 3.

10:30 coffee and hanging out. 11:00 bible study and prayer.

Village Church

If Bible Stories Had Click-bait Titles

1. This snake talked to the woman. What happened next will totally shock you! (Genesis 3)

2. 613 simple tips to keep your deity happy! (see, the Torah)

3. Jesus of Nazareth seen spitting on blind man! (Mark 8.23, John 9.6)

4. Man gets swallowed by giant fish, lives to tell about it! (Jonah 1.17-2.10)

5. You’ll never believe what this donkey said! (Numbers 22.21-39)

6. Stuttering Prophet reveals 10 controversial tips to everlasting life (number 7 will shock you!) (Exodus 20)

7. New Miracle Cures: Doctors Hate Him! (See, the Gospels)

8. Man Claims to Survive on Nothing But Locusts and Honey! (Matthew 3.4)

9. This man just found out his fiancee is having a baby—and he’s not the father! (Matthew 1.18-25,

10. Follow this one weird trick for Salvation! (John 3.16)

What titles would you add?

 

*found at http://www.seedbed.com/if-bible-stories-had-click-bait-titles/

We Are Not Called To Be Safe

On the way home from a recent backpacking trip, I heard a Christian Radio station give their tagline: A safe place for the family.

Safe: protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost

Take a minute to think about what safe means to you. Does it mean you won’t hear cussing on the radio? Does it mean you won’t hear sexual lyrics in your songs? Does it mean you won’t see Rated anything but G in your book stores? Does it mean you won’t have smokers standing outside your church door? Does it mean you won’t have prostitutes or drug dealers coming to your church meetings? Does it mean your ministries are only going to the elderly and leaving out the homeless? Does it mean your youth groups, men’s and women’s ministries aren’t reaching out to those who need Jesus and only doing car washes and food drives? Just ruminate on that word safe for a minute.

Now let me ask you…

Are our churches, book stores, radio stations and ministries or whatever else we slap the Christian label on supposed to be safe? Because the last time I checked, Jesus never mentioned anything about us being safe.

He said we’d be hated (Matthew 10:22). Hatred is not safe.

He said we’d die for our faith (Matthew 16:25). We can’t die if we’re being safe.

He said we should go after the sick (Mark 2:17). Sick people are not safe.

He said to be rule-breakers (Mark 3:1-6). Breaking rules is not safe.

Never does the bible mention anything about our places of worship or our worship in itself being safe. As a matter of fact, being safe does not reach the very people who need to hear the gospel! We have the gospel because there is bad news and those who need the gospel are bad news. Bad news is not safe.

I recall God saying the only safe place was in his arms (Deut. 33:27). He is our fortress (Psalm 144:2). He is our rock (Psalm 18:2). He is our shelter (Psalm 46). It is his wings’ shadows that we hide under (Psalm 91:4).

By saying the church or our media is our safe haven is replacing God’s place in our life with our ministries. And replacing God with something or someone who is not God… is one danger you definitely don’t want to experience.

Guerrilla Warfare and the Church

It doesn’t impress people when I tell them I am a pastor. It doesn’t impress people when I tell them I have a position at the local church. It doesn’t impress people when I can give proper exegetical, hermeneutical or theological analysis of the scriptures. Frankly, I don’t think it impresses people when they find out I’m a christian. Why? I believe we have ruined the true identification of what it means to be Christian. Christianity has become like an overbearing sour lemon drop (unless your into that sorta thing). Which is why the standard approach to sharing the gospel doesn’t work anymore. That is, informing people that they are sinful and in need of a savior and inviting them to church.

People aren’t interested in church anymore because that’s where money hungry preachers are. That’s where hypocritical church-goers are. That is where gossiping housewives are. That is where legalistic elders are. That is is where drama-heavy youth groups are. Church is off-limits because limits to sinning is off. Sinning is actually overlooked as long as it benefits the establishment.

Picture if you will. The British have lined up on one side of the field. The Colonists are lined up on the opposite side of the field. Each army have their muskets in hand and the eight-pounders are lined behind the infantry. The calvary is off to the side and the officers are on a hilltop overseeing the battlefield while the fife and drum corps are nearby to give signal.

The signal is given to commence!

The infantry line up within yards of one another. The British take first shot creating a hole in the left side of the wall of Colonists. As the British reload, the Colonists take their first shot. And on and on they go taking turns hoping that their respectful Minié ball found its target. In the end, thousands of soldiers are slaughtered in the name of war.

But what really won the war? It wasn’t their weapons. It wasn’t their fortitude. It was their approach. It was their guerrilla warfare.

The Colonists did not mass in front of the British but chose to sneak around and fire behind trees and stone walls. One of the greatest accounts of guerrilla warfare is Washington crossing the Delaware. On Christmas, of all days, while the Hessian army was celebrating, Washington crossed the half-frozen Delaware at night (who’d have thunk) and attacked with vengeance by the break of light the next morning while the Hessian army still lay sleeping in their tents half groggy from their celebration. They didn’t expect such a thing to happen because, as the British would say, it wasn’t gentlemanly to fight with such incivility.

Now let’s apply said analogy (bear with me). The Colonists are the Christians and the British are those who haven’t accepted the message of Christ; call them what you will; unsaved, sinners, Non-Christians, unbelievers, unchurched. They both march on the battlefield of life and take shots trying to overcome the other.

The real problem is that both sides are lined up with no protection, nothing standing in between them for cover. They are in the open air slinging their form of ammunition hoping it will knock the enemy off its feet. The Christians hail their scriptures. Those who don’t know Christ sling their cynicism.

The Christians consider their enemy are those who don’t show up on Sunday morning. Vice-versa, those who don’t know Christ know their enemy by those who do go to church (and show up at Golden Corral in a three-piece suit on a blistering Summer day, being rude to the waitress and loud because the whole church decided to show up with the exception of Aunt Faye who left church early because her roast was burning and the preacher was being long-winded). But I digress.

Those who don’t know Christ run or create a defense mechanism when approached by the Christian. The Christian rebuttals in anger and disgust because the one who doesn’t know Christ won’t just “get it and believe, and go to church, and get baptized, and sing the songs and quit cussing, drinking and smoking and stay home on Saturday nights.” So the fight continues without end.

But what won the war for the colonists can win the war for the Christians.

Guerrilla warfare.

What if church (as we know it with four songs, offering, announcements and preaching) was not the goal? What if telling (showing if need be) them about Christ and when the time comes, that is when the Holy Spirit sees fit to begin a change in their lives, we join the effort to make them disciples were the end goal? By infiltrating the enemy, it means going where they are, being with them and exemplifying Jesus in the midst. Not condemning. Not judging. Not pointing fingers. Not thumping them with bible. But being amongst them and showing them the life of Christ and how beneficial it can be to the human soul. What if we asked people to belong in community of believers before believing what the community believes? Disciples are made in the trenches of life, not the pews of the church.

I do believe we can make a greater impact in this war on Hell when we take a guerrilla warfare approach and infiltrate the enemy’s lifestyle and invite them to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). That means work with them, eat with them, play with them, live life with them and invite them, not to church, but to experience Jesus.

I’m just trying to find a more concrete way for people to experience Jesus and not a service on Sunday morning, for them to experience a life change instead of a schedule change. I am just convinced this is the way, guerrilla warfare.

Planting Through the Tears

Planting with tears

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy, They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. Psalm 126:5-6

Just recently, we planted our garden for this year. A day before, I had pulled a muscle in my back. Running the tiller, working the garden hoe, lining off my rows, planting the seeds all put my sore back through more abuse. I wasn’t in tears but I came close a few times when the tiller would jerk or bending over the wrong way made me flinch.

Amanda Baublet wrote a great commentary infusing a commentary of John Piper’s in her blog on this very scripture. In a nutshell, she shares Piper’s thoughts that no matter what we are going through, even when the tears are falling we still need to press on. I agree. However, I would like to add a differing commentary. Not one that is polemical but one from a different perspective.

As Carrie and I set out to plant Village Church, we knew we wanted to “plant” something different, especially for this community. A house church or a community of believers meeting in someone’s house to worship, connect and serve is very different from the churches that normally meet in this area. We knew that we wanted to keep it simple and focus heavily on the difference being made in who the person becomes rather than what the person does. Heart transformation rather than trading information is key to what drives our mission at Village Church. We’re not so concerned with numerical growth as we are spiritual growth. Numbers are important but a wide and shallow lake serves no purpose when a narrow and deep river has power.

In order to commit to this form of church, we knew that we would have to make some changes in our ways of reaching people. We don’t advertise because we want folks to be relational. We don’t put a sign out front because we want our folks to be invitational. We pray about who God is leading us to and speak only to those and the rest simply do not get invited. Not that they aren’t welcome if they find out about us and want to come. We are intentional and laser-focused. In doing so, we are small and slow in our start.

Each day, I wake up and ask God to lead me to those who He wants at our church. I also ask Him to help me disciple in the throes of life rather than in a church service. I want my whole life to be Christian rather than Sunday morning. I want to read my bible with others where I work or play and not just at church. I want to reach folks and make a difference in every place rather than a church setting.

Do you know how hard this is? It means I don’t compartmentalize. I structure my whole life to revolve around the gospel and its truths. Therefore no matter where I am at or what I am doing I am able to preach and teach and share Jesus. And you know what? Tears are involved.

When folks are going though a hard life, they hear about someone who loves them by someone who is showing love for them and tears begin. Sometimes, folks won’t listen and tears follow the hard conversations. I get ridiculed, left alone, made fun of, looked at weird, called preacher (in a derogatory kind of way), and laughed at because I choose to follow Jesus. Tears flow.

Other times, I get called on because I have hope, faith, and love. I have answers (supposedly). I know how to reach  out to a God that they need a connection with. I have a moral authority and structure that guides my life and makes me look stable. I look like I have it all together when really all I have is joy in the One who holds it all together. And when they come to me to “ask me a question,” tears flow.

Tears. The garden of life is watered with tears. Joyful tears. Sorrowful tears. Tears none the less.

But soon (not soon enough), the harvest will come with shouts of joy. The harvest will be heard with singing. The harvest will be worth it because there will be no more tears.The work done through tears will be wiped away and joy will come and the singing will be loud and nobody will care if it’s in tune. I don’t know what the harvest will bring but I do know that as I plant and water, God will bring growth and when harvest day comes, I will be shouting with acclimation that God is good and the harvest is plentiful.

So, whatever you may be going through as you plant, tears may be a part of it and that’s ok. Let them tears fall. But know this, as they fall, one day joy will wipe them away because the harvest day has come.

A Powerful Prayer of Søren Kierkegaard’s

“You have loved us first, oh God, alas! We speak of it in terms of history as if You have only loved us first but a single time, rather than that without ceasing. You have loved us first many times and every day and our whole life through.

When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul toward You – You are the first – You have loved us first; if I rise at dawn and at the same second turn my soul toward You in prayer, You are there ahead of me, You have loved me first.

When I withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn my soul toward You, You are the first  and thus forever. And yet we always speak ungratefully as if You have loves us first only once.”

– Søren Kierkegaard