Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Common Theme

I love it when God brings about a common theme at our Monday Night Prayer gathering.  This past Monday it was the idea of selfish ambition versus Godly ambition.  It came up in prayer, in the songs chosen, and in bible verses read.

This week we began prayer by being thankful.  We had 21 first time commitments to Christ the previous weekend and we read stories of how people were being affected by our services each week.  Our adoration time we mixed with a confession time.  Before each song we read a related verse from the bible and let the person who read pray the theme of that verse.  For example our second song was "I love your presence" (on the last Bethel Cd).  Someone read Psalm 27:4 and prayed and then we went into the song.  It was a more acoustic intimate set and people at the gathering received it well.  After the last song (step by step) we read Phillipians 3 and opened the mics up to people who were willing to confess sins of selfish ambition for themselves or for us corporately.  I invited everyone where they were at to to confess any selfish ambition versus having Godly ambitions in their lives.

We then prayed corporately for salvations, for the services this coming weekend, for a missions team in China.  We then moved on to a prayer ministry time where we had people stand who were weary, feeling like they needed hope and strength.  Those around them gathered around and prayed over them.

We closed with having our prayer teams up front available to pray for people.

Elements that worked tonight:

Having the verses read and people praying before each song of the worship set.

Having a slower more intimate set.  We try and do that the last week of each month as our focus that night is intimacy and revival.

Beginning the night with thanksgiving as opposed to how we begin sometimes with singing.

A memorable moment:
As people had stood that were weary and wanting prayer, I told them "Smart people stand for prayer"  Anyone who asks God to bring his super into their natural situation is smart"

One of our visitors tonight commenting to me after prayer "Pappa was there tonight"

A man who came to prayer and was not a believer telling me he had never been in a place like this.  There was a sense of awe as he took in being around the presence of God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lucy's Story

A God Story:    In our day and in our time, God is moving . . .

Hey Berry,
I just wanted to shoot you an email about something that happened to me during prayer last night. Towards the end, you made a side note about our God being a God who restores and makes us whole again. The comment came out of no where, but I really needed to hear it. I have been struggling with being spiritually attacked in that area specifically. I was seeing a young man for the last year, and he recently left to do missionary work overseas. It had gotten to the point where I thought he was the one and that I would spend the rest of my life with him, so you can imagine the rude awakening we both had when he felt called to leave to serve God elsewhere and I felt called to end the relationship.

He left a few weeks ago, and I have been having a hard time with it. I gave much of my heart to this guy and recently I have felt like a sheet of shattered glass, broken into many pieces and have found myself asking God, "How do you restore broken glass? Even if you put all the pieces back together, it will still be fractured and scared in so many places."

So last night when you made that comment about God being able to restore us, it hit me so hard. I started weeping, because I still felt like there was no logical way God could restore that sheet of shattered glass that was my heart. Then, God blew my mind. As I was sitting there crying, I was hit with an image of the most beautiful stained glass window. It was more beautiful than just a plain sheet of glass by far. Even though it was made out of broken pieces of glass, it was whole because of what was holding it together. Its colors were brilliant and the sun was shining through it. The image reminded me that restoration doesn't always mean going back to where we were before, but that God puts all the pain, confusion and sufferings of our hearts together in a new way that brings Him more glory and us more beauty.

Monday Nights

I would have to say one of the most powerful prayer experiences in Monday night prayer was when the Lord began pricking my heart that he had so much more for me than just attending the services. I was beginning praying out loud.  My heart was inside of my chest, I knew that the Lord was calling me to go deeper in prayer, but the idea of prayer out loud scared me. Once I did it, my prayer life flourished, it was not the fact that I prayed out loud, and it was the fact that I was obedient.  God has given me so many gifts and allowed me to do so many things this past semester and I believe it is simply the fact that is trying to be obedient.

Here lately Monday Night prayer has brought out freedom in people that I have not seen in a while. The young and the old have worshipped and made petitions to the Father.   It just seems that the Lord has met us every time in a real way. The power is so evident when you come, and we have the ability to pray for people. When I intercede for others, it tends to make my problems or my day melt away.  The reality of we are Gods bridegroom and we are created to worship him is something that God teaches me every time I walk into pray. He delights in us, he accepts us and he LONGS for us to sit in his presence, because he is ravished by us.

written by one of our prayer team members:  Erin Mullins

Way Too Many Coincidences Not To Be God

Listening to God is such a subjective thing.  I have found there is such a balance of being sure you yourself are ingesting a good amount of the word of God, keeping a consistant contact with God through all the avenues prayer has, listening to Godly men and women around you, as well as discerning circumstances you meet with every day.  Even with a balanced disciplined lifestyle listening to God is still subjective.
This is one of the reasons I believe we have the whole concept of confirmation.  We read it in Gods word, we sense the peace of God in going forward, Godly men and women affirm what God is saying gives us more confidence in our next step.  I think this is why the body of Christ is so important to our walk with God.  When we walk in community their is opportunity for confirmation of Gods will in our lives and many times opportunity for us to see when we are off base.

I have noticed this concept happening many times in our prayer gatherings recently.  A great example was Monday night.  15 minutes before corporate prayer each Monday night, our prayer intern, Matt Martin gathers a group around for intercessory prayer.  This group of intercessors prays for me as I lead.  Monday night one of our intercessors began to pray that God would touch brokeness in people.  You could tell it wasn't just a passing thought but something she had keyed in on and seemed to be strongly passionate about this night.  As she prayed, God got my attention that brokeness was an important aspect to pray for this night.  Well by "coincidence"  I had a young lady sharing at the end of prayer about how God given her a picture during prayer last week that helped her navigate some recent brokeness. (Look for another post this week with Lucys story).  After she shared, we prayed people who had experienced some kind of brokeness and needed hope.  We had probably 60 people stand who wanted to be prayed for.  
The next day I read a faebook post that said "WOW!!! GOD REALLY DOES ANSWER PRAYER!!!! I was reviewing over my journal tonight from earlier today and I was completely amazed at how exactly God answered the following prayer… () inserted after 

Forget myself tonight. May it be ALL ABOUT YOU. Don’t let the fires started in those 3100 people burn out. (I believe some fires were most certainly rekindled tonight!!!)MOVE IN THE MEETING PLACE TONIGHT. DRAW YOUR PEOPLE TO YOU AND MAY THEY GIVE YOU THEIR BURDENS AND BROKENESS. (HELLO!!! Main topic of what Lucy talked about!!!! God thing!!) Let EVERY SPEAKER speak YOUR WORDS with FLUENCY, BOLDNESS, COURAGE, AND CLARITY.(I do not recall anyone stuttering or speaking anything that didn’t mean something to someone) Thank you for the wonderful relationships you have established in front of me. (Simply by the youth laying hands on a fellow member literally in front of me) For those that are BUSILY PREPARING A TESTIMONY STOP THEM. GIVE THEM ASSURANCE THAT YOUR WORDS WILL COME IN YOUR TIMING. (I totally encountered someone that was doing this but then stopped!!! And with messages like those spoken who else could have said them? No man that’s for sure!) 
At Monday night prayer there continue to be so many that are encountering Gods presence in amazing ways.

This week we celebrated 273 people who were baptized this weekend, 28 first time commitments to Christ, and one young man healed of cancer.  Our God is making His name known in our day and in our time.
 Elements that worked tonight

  • Having Johnny Perez share about how God healed him of cancer in the middle of the worship set, stirred peoples hearts to give thanks and praise.
  • Beginning the evening with stories of what God did for baptism.  We invited people to come to a mic and speak briefly about what God had done.
  • Having people share what God had done for them toward the end, asking anyone to stand who was going through the same thing, and having that person pray over the whole group.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where the Fountains Never Run Dry

Jeremiah speaks of people digging cisterns for themselves that will no hold water.  A cistern is just a reservoir that held water, most of the time carved out in rock.  When the rains came a cistern would hold the water and a cover would be put on them to keep debris out so that when drought came there was extra water.

We try and fill ourselves from many worldly cisterns.  We try to get filled from power, popularity, or finding love in the wrong ways.  These all are cisterns that don't hold water.  They can not be depended on.  They don't have anything in them that nourishes us.

Jeremiah goes on to say that God is the fountain of living water.  He is a cistern that will never run dry.  We can continually go to Him and find what we need.

Monday Night Prayer is becoming known as a cistern.  It is a place where living water is found and filling peoples hearts.   People are coming on Monday nights hungry and anticipating what God will do and how He will meet us and fill us.  They are leaving with more than they came with.

We read out of Acts 4:31 to begin prayer this week.  We prayed we would be filled with Gods Spirit so that we might preach the word of God with boldness.  Worship kicked off with "You Won't Relent" a powerful anthem written by Misty Edwards and redone recently by Jesus Culture.
The song goes:   Come be the fire inside of me      Come be the flame upon my heart      Come be the fire inside of me      Until You and I are one   and that became our prayer last night.

We celebrated what God is doing as He answers many of our prayers.  In our weekend services around 200 people signed up for our baptism celebration this coming week.  We shared stories of people praying to commit their lives to Christ this weekend as they came to the baptism interview and realized they had never asked Christ into their lives.  Another young women prayed that prayer and went back and got a friend.  The friend signed up to be baptized.  Another lady was watching the service online.  She was challenged by the message and came up to the building and signed up to be baptized.  Another family was on their way home from the service and were convicted.   They turned around and signed up to be baptized next week.  As we interviewed those who signed up many had tears in their eyes as they shared how they had committed their lives to Christ and desired to be baptized as Gods word says they should.

We let a new missionary friend from Moldova share.  Vova told us about teaming up with SportQuest in Moldova and how they reach out to the kids in his country.  I think the highlight of the evening may have been when he prayed a blessing over us in Russian.

We prayed for teams going to China, our team on the ground in Chiapas Mexico and for Vova and his ministry.

We then went on and prayed for our upcoming baptism celebration.  We are praying for many friends and family who will come to hear the gospel clearly and make a commitment to Christ themselves.  We also prayed for God to show up powerfully as many people take their next step of obedience with the Lord and are baptized.

We ended our time praying for our lifehouse leaders and life transformation group leaders.  We had them stand and had people gather around them and pray.  We prayed for the marketplace tonight.  We prayed for all those in the housing industry or that serviced houses.

We had our prayer teams come up and be available for prayer from anyone needing that.

Chris Galanos, our lead pastor, closed the meeting as he prayed over all of us.


Elements that worked:

Opening with the reading of a verse and praying is working well.  I like the band already playing in the background when that happens.

Having a prayer team coordinator present during our prayer teams ministry works well.  These coordinators can help see who is done praying and can take someone else, help let people who are in line.

Creating more free space up front (no chairs, carpets out on floor) for the youth and others to come up and stand, kneel and sit during worship.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When Heaven Comes Down

We know God is with us when we pray.  He says when two or three are gathered in my name there I am among them.  But there are times when Gods presence is magnified.  There is an awareness in us that is heightened.  It's like being the only one at work and the internet is much, much faster.  Your connectedness isn't competing with many other people.

Last night was one of those times for us at Monday Night Prayer.  It was a night Heaven came down and God was all around.  I could sense it before prayer began.  As our intercessory people prayed over me for the service prior to 7:15 I could sense the presence and power of God in a heightened way.  People were responding strongly to God in worship as some kneeled, others cried, some shouted.  The longing in peoples souls for God was evident all around.

I could hear God clearly as He was advising me how to do the ministry time after our worship.  I heard clearly as God gave me a passage from His word to share with our youth.  It was Isaiah 61:1-3.  I heard the thoughts in my mind and heart very clearly, tell them "they are chosen ones".  Tell them they have the capacity to lead.  Tell them I will use them to bring revival.

Last night was also a night where our youth came to prayer as a group.  We had over 100 jr high and high schoolers joining us at prayer.  They aren't bored with prayer, that are excited about God and what He's doing.  We also prayed for upcoming events at Experience Life.  We are praying for our summer baptism celebration that will take place at the swimming pool at the Sportsplex.  Last year we had 100 baptized at this event.  We are praying for double or triple that this year.  We prayed for our next series "No Perfect People Allowed" and that God would bring people who don't know Him.  We prayed for our missions team that is headed to Chiapas Mexico next week.

We closed our time of prayer in worship.  It seemed no one wanted to leave.  All sensed the presence of God and even after we officially closed the service there were pockets of people continuing to pray for one another.  There is something about a place when God is showing up, people don't want to leave.  They like lingering in that place.

It seems obvious God is pleased with our seeking Him on Monday nights and we love it when heaven comes down.

Our hearts cry is:  Let it come, Let your kingdom come and let your will be done in us God !  More God, more of you !
Elements that worked:

Going into a prayer ministry time right after worship worked last night.  We prayed for youth who wanted to be sold out to God, then we let youth pray for adults who wanted "more" in their lives.

Having our lead pastor Chris Galanos close with a blessing over people in prayer was powerful.

Being willing to change the format because of the Holy Spirits leading worked well last night.  We did have to postpone a student who was going to share about what God had been doing in her.

Our intercessors who prayed for me before the service actually gave me some insight into what God wanted for our time.  As they prayed I picked up two key ideas that influenced how I changed the format for the night.

Our worship leader and his sensitivity to what God was doing.  Reading from Gods word as part of worship.

Closing with a song of commitment to God.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Can Tell How Popular Jesus Is by Who Comes to Pray !

"You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning.  You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night.  But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting." (Jim Cymbala).

It seems Jesus popularity is growing.  This month we have averaged about 430 people at our Monday night prayer gathering.  People come expectant of God showing up and being present as we seek Him in prayer.  It seems our expectancy is met with Gods faithfulness.

This past Monday our logistics people were scrambling as we added a ton of chairs in the rink to make room for all who came.  The back story to all this is that at the end of last year and the first of this year we had an attendance at prayer of about 140 people.  We sensed God was leading us to pray that by the end of 2010 we would have 300 in attendance at our corporate prayer gathering on Monday nights.  We are about 1/2 way through the year and God has done abundantly more than we could ask or think.  Attendance is not our goal.  Seeing Gods kingdom extended on the earth is our goal and we know that the more people are involved in prayer, the more we are inviting Gods influence into our existence and He will lead us to extending His kingdom.

One of my favorite times each week is getting to adore God.  It is an aspect of prayer that is easy to miss.  Too often we think of prayer as asking God for things.  The basis of prayer is being connected with God.  Now asking Him for things is part of that connectedness but only one aspect.  There is something about singing songs to God that connects our hearts with His.  I remember reading a book by Jack Hayford on worship.  He says that worship invites and invokes the presence of God.  I believe this is true.  Something about worship connects our hearts with Gods presence and opens our humanity up to the realities of God.  Adoration this past week was sweet.   You could sense Gods presence being a part of the praises of His people.

We prayed for two groups of people this past week.  The first group was people who someone in their past speak some type of discouragement to them.  "Your stupid", "You'll never amount to anything", "Loser", words that are far from Gods truth for us and have been planted in our minds and hearts can plague people and keep them discouraged for a lifetime.  The challenge was for people to be able to accept the truths of Gods word like "you are children", "God loves you", "you are the apple of His eye".  People who struggled with this stood as others prayed for Gods truth to be strengthened in their minds and hearts.

The second group of people we prayed for were those whose past was influencing their future.  There was something in the past they were having a hard time letting go of and it was hindering them pursuing Gods best for their future.  We gathered around those as they stood and prayed for God to help them move on.

I then shared some definitions of revival such as:

Revival is when the Spirit pours out to those in the church and then it runs over to people in community getting saved.

True revival is that divine moment when God bursts upon the scene and displays His glory.

We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.

I also shared on story of Duncan Campbell and the revival at Bernaray.

We then let people come to the mics and pray paragraph prayers asking God to send revival to us.

We all prayed together over some various corporate prayer issues.  And we ended the night by gathering around the rink (we meet in a skating rink).  There were enough people for three circles around the area.  I kept thinking "Our circle or prayer" is growing.  Our lead pastor Chris Galanos prayed over everyone to finish the evening.

At the end, as we always do, prayer teams were around the edge of the front to pray specifically for people.


Elements that worked for the evening:

Having someone read a verse to begin prayer with and then pray for our time.

Ministry time went really well as probably 75 people stood for prayer.

I ask that noone who often prays on the mic come forward tonight and that new people would pray.  we had 10 people who don't often come to the mic pray.

Having two of our prayer team members stand at the open mics to help people be organized and be there if anyone starts to pray way too long.

Keeping lights low during the devotional prayer time that proceeds the actual prayer service.