pecaspers: a Blog in transition

September 12, 2012

Tallassee Ministerial Alliance – Prayer for Our Enemies

Filed under: Culture,Ministry,Politics — pecaspers @ 12:53 PM
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On September 11, 2012, the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance and members of our community gathered to pray as we remembered the tragedy of eleven years before. I had the honor of leading the prayer for our enemies. As acts of terror and warfare still fill global headlines, please pray along with those who gathered that day. We prayed:

Our Father in heaven, You are the mighty Maker of heaven and earth. You scattered the nations at Babel, and you called out Abraham to make a nation of his descendants and to bless all the nations of the world through his Seed.

God, in Christ, You became that Seed of Abraham, and by your perfect life, death, and resurrection you became the ultimate Blessing to all nations–the Way to a restored relationship with You for all mankind, for anyone who will repent and believe.

We confess that our hearts do not always reflect Your heart. I’m sure some of us here today have sinned against you by things we’ve done or said against people who consider themselves enemies of the United States of America. We do pray that You would cause any attempt to attack our homeland to fail. We do pray that you would bring an end to the governments and organizations who seek to destroy both Americans and the United States of America herself.

But God, help us to always remember that this country is not our home, that the United States of America is not the Kingdom of God. Those who crashed planes into symbols of our national pride and identity are under your wrath–I am sure–but they are there because they sinned against You, not us.

Forgive us for any time we have wished death or suffering on men and women created in your image. Forgive us for thinking that we are somehow superior for being born in this country and not the Middle East, Northern Africa, or somewhere else. Forgive us for every failure to extend hospitality, kindness, friendship, and especially the gospel to Muslims, or to those we assumed were Muslim, or to anyone else we considered “not one of us.”

Father, by Your grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, break our hearts for our enemies. So, standing before You based only on Your goodness and the faith in Christ we have by Your grace, we pray for our enemies as you taught us to.

We ask for your gospel–the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone–to spread like wildfire across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central and South Asia.

We ask for You to call out missionaries from our churches to take the gospel to those who have no access to it.

We ask for you to continue to reveal yourself to Muslims through visions and dreams. We ask that you would change the hearts of American Christians so that our own churches would be welcoming to the millions of people who come from nations without the gospel, that we would share with them Your goodness and love, that they would see how their sin has separated them from You, that we would explain clearly how in Jesus Christ You gave the answer to our problem, and that people from all over the world might repent and believe and join the fellowship of our churches. Oh that our churches would look more like people from every nation, tribe, and tongue gathered around your throne and less like country clubs and family reunions.

We ask for you to raise up leaders from our churches to start new churches here in America, especially in the major cities where the nations have come to us.

We ask that you would bring to salvation would-be terrorists so that their fervor could overflow to eternal life for many just like you did with the Apostle Paul.

Your will be done. Your Kingdom come. Forgive us our failures. Use us for Your glory. We pray these things in the Name of Christ and for His glory among the nations…even ours…even our enemies. Amen.

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September 11, 2011

9/11 for the Tallassee Tribune

It’s Sunday night, September 11, 2011 as I write. It’s Tuesday or later when you’re reading it. It was Tuesday on September 11 ten years ago. I don’t know what the Tallassee Tribune had in it that day; I wasn’t a Tallassee resident back then. I was a student at Auburn University, and I remember that day in more detail than any other day in my life. It’s safe to say that you probably remember that day with graphic clarity as well. My facebook feed attests to this as it is currently populated by memories, pledges to never forget, and references to that day which changed this nation forever in many ways. Back then, there was no facebook, no Twitter, and texting hadn’t truly gone mainstream. In 2001, most of us still got our up-to-the-minute news from old-fashioned T.V. and radio.

Among the teens I know, they don’t remember much. They were in second grade or younger, but even they knew something big was happening. Many of my peers’ accounts follow this pattern: I was in class when somebody told us that planes had flown into the World Trade Center. Some classes were canceled, some were held in defiance of the terrorists’ intention to disrupt our lives, but Auburn University gave everybody a free pass to skip class if they chose as I recall. I was in the Auburn University Marching Band then; that was the only class I went to that day. Almost all of us came, but no one seemed to know what to say when we got there. We began practice by playing the national anthem, and then we rehearsed because we had to be ready for pre-game and half-time on Saturday.

Everyone everywhere seemed to be struggling with the dual realities that things were never going to be the same, but things had to get back to normal even if it was a “new normal.” In the wake of 9/11, people flooded into churches. People wanted hope, comfort, to mourn, maybe just to not be alone. Whatever the case, they came. Some were coming back, others for the first time. Some thought 9/11 was going to propel us into an awakening of the gospel across our land. That’s not what happened.

Part of that “new normal” was the same spiritual complacency that we had before. The people who had run to the Church for various reasons, all left for one reason, the same reason that people usually leave the Church. They didn’t know God. They came to a church to meet some need–maybe it was met, maybe it wasn’t–but eventually they stopped coming because nothing held them there. That is a far greater tragedy. People came into our churches and did not hear the life-changing gospel and were not everlastingly introduced to the one true and living God. Equally condemning is that many people have come to our churches for years because some need is being met other than their need for a saving relationship with the Creator.

The reason any Christian church exists is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by baptizing them in His name and teaching them to obey everything He commanded, which includes that they themselves are to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). That is our purpose, and we might as well close our doors if reproducing disciples are not being made no matter whatever lesser good we might be doing. On the 100th anniversary of 9/11, all those people who poured into our churches will be dead. It won’t matter what we did for them if we did not simultaneously introduce them to Christ. A man who turned to the church and found momentary comfort but did not repent and believe will be no better off than one who turned to alcohol.

———-Above Is the First Draft, Below Is the Draft I Submitted———-

It’s Sunday night, September 11, 2011 as I write. It’s Tuesday or later as you read. It was Tuesday on September 11 ten years ago. I don’t know what was in the Tallassee Tribune that day; I wasn’t a Tallassee resident back then. I was a student at Auburn University, and I remember that day in more detail than any other day in my life. You probably remember that day with graphic clarity as well. My facebook feed attests to this; it is currently populated by memories, pledges to never forget, and references to that day which changed this nation forever in so many ways. Back then, there was no facebook, no Twitter, and texting hadn’t truly gone mainstream. In 2001, most of us still got our up-to-the-minute news from old-fashioned T.V. and radio. We stayed fixed on them for days because we didn’t know what else to do.

In the wake of 9/11, churches were flooded. People wanted hope, comfort, to mourn, maybe just to not be alone. Whatever the case, they came. Some were coming back, others for the first time. Many thought 9/11 was going to propel us into an awakening of the gospel across our land. It did not. Part of the “new normal” was the same spiritual complacency from before. The people who’d run to the Church for various reasons all left for one reason, the reason people usually leave the Church. They didn’t know God.

They came to church to meet some need–maybe it was met, maybe it wasn’t–but eventually they stopped coming because nothing held them there. That is a far greater tragedy. People came into our churches and did not hear the life-changing gospel and were not everlastingly introduced to the one true and living God. Equally condemning is that people have come to our churches for years because we meet a need other than their need for a saving relationship with the Creator, and too many of us are OK with that.

The reason any Christian church exists is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by baptizing them in His name and teaching them to obey everything He commanded, which includes that they themselves are to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). That is our purpose, and we might as well close our doors if reproducing disciples are not being made no matter whatever lesser good we might be doing. On the 100th anniversary of 9/11, all those people who poured into our churches will be dead. It won’t matter what we did for them if we did not simultaneously introduce them to Christ. A man who turned to the church and found momentary comfort but did not repent and believe will be in hell with everyone else who did not.

There’s plenty of retrospection going on, and rightly so. But we in the church need to look forward and to look to Christ and His purposes. We sing, “This is my Father’s world, o let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” ‎Greg Key, a youth pastor friend of mine posted this on his facebook wall: “We are no closer to Jesus now than we were 10 years ago.” I fear he is right. But what will you do about it?

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