Sharing with Steve
As I approach the end of each month I realize that it is time again for the newsletter. This means that I have to come up with an article. I try to think of things that are pertinent to our situation at this time and place. Recently I have written about the struggles we have been facing as a church body and how the people have risen to the challenge. One area specifically mentioned was “prayer.” We have made prayer a priority at Meadowbrook. We meet twice a month on Sunday afternoon to pray. The leadership spends the first 45-60 minutes of their monthly meetings talking about the needs of the congregation and praying. Every Sunday morning we have a prayer time during the service. We make prayer needs and praises known by phone, text, and e-mail. Yet, with all of this emphasis, there are still times of struggle when it seems that the Lord is very quiet. Why isn’t there more action? Why hasn’t God intervened? Is He even listening? I catch myself dickering: I have done x amount for You, God, why can’t You respond in kind? (I am glad that He is patient with me.)
My favorite Christian magazine is Discipleship Journal. It is no longer published, but I have copies of most of the issues. As I read them I would write down sermon and newsletter ideas. I would like to share one of those with you concerning hindrances to prayer. This is an article found in the November/December 1994 issue. This may be a little long, but it is well worth the read. It was written by A.B. Simpson (1843-1919). He was a pastor in New York City and founded The Christian and Missionary Alliance. It is entitled, “Four Hindrances To Answered Prayer.”
What are some of the causes of unanswered prayer and the reasons why God’s people fail to enter into the fullness of blessing they seek?
Selfishness and earthly desire hinder prayer. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (Jas. 4:3). God cannot give us all the things that our carnal nature clamors for anymore than we would give our child the gleaming knife he or she sees on the kitchen counter. These things would often be more dangerous to us than the keen edge of the knife would be to the child.
Many “good” things can be desired from an earthly and selfish motive and in a carnal spirit. Many people seek forgiveness to escape the remorse of a guilty conscience—and so that they may continue on in their godless selfishness. Most people who have no true sense of honor are quite willing to be accepted as candidates for Heaven if God will let them enjoy the pleasures of the world on their way. Prayer for healing may be simply an expression of the desire to get free from pain and be able to enjoy the pleasures of life.
Things that God in other circumstances would be quite willing to give us, He often has to refuse us because they would separate us from Him…
Strife and bitterness are a hindrance to prayer. “When you stand praying,” our Savior said to His disciples, “if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him” (Mk. 11:25)….
The spirit of prayer is essentially a spirit of love. Frequently when we are at some crisis of prayer and much is hanging upon God’s answer—perhaps life itself or something more precious than life—we find ourselves confronted with just such a test as this. Someone will be remembered whom we once were at odds with, and somehow we just could not forgive that one. Let us remember in that hour that we cannot hurt another by our irritation or retaliation as much as we can deeply wound ourselves and hinder the blessing of God. In the presence of infinite love, no breath of hate can live one moment….
Is this hindering your prayers? Can you think of any person from whom you are wrongly estranged—some person whom you treat with studied harshness, neglect, disdain, injury, or injustice? Is there some word you have spoken against another that you should not have spoken, even if true? Have you heard some word against your brother to which you should not have listened? May God help you to discover and deal with any such cause of unanswered prayer!…
Ignoring God’s will hinders prayer. It is not necessary for actual sin to be present in our lives to hinder prayer; it may simply be plain disobedience to the Spirit’s voice in some definite leading to service or testimony. I have known many people who did not receive the full answers to their prayers… until they had obeyed the voice of God in some particular where they had been shrinking or hesitating… Others lost out by failing to take some step of faith to which the Holy Spirit was calling. It was not until months and even years of striving with God that they learned the lesson. Then after prompt and thorough obedience, they received perfect deliverance and wonderful blessing….
It is a serious matter for those who are walking in the Spirit to trifle with God’s voice or to be disobedient to His commands. Such disobedience may interrupt all communion with Him and hinder all prayer….
Ignorance of the Holy Spirit is a great hindrance. For many Christians, prayer is little more than a cry for help in a time of despair or pain. It is like the cry of a suffering brute or the wail of an unconscious infant. True, God hears the faithless cry of human misery, but that is not prayer. The voice that continually reaches the Father’s ear is that of His trusting child who prays with the breath and power of the Holy Spirit Himself. True prayer should be by His prompting, and it is because most people know Him so little and walk with Him at such a distance that they are comparative strangers to the language of heavenly communion.
The life of prayer is an interior life, a spiritual life. Many people do not realize this, and many actually do not want it. It holds too constant a check on the heart. It requires too completely that they walk with our God. People like to be their own masters. The habit of walking step by step with God, submitting every thought and desire to an inward Monitor, is intolerable to their imperious will. At the least, it is unfamiliar to their experience.
If you possess the Holy Spirit in your heart, you have a private connection to the throne of God. At any moment, day or night, you can open and maintain direct communications with Heaven, bringing all its help, if need be, to your immediate aid! Surely it is worth your while to yield yourself to a consecrated life and allow your loving Lord to make your heart His temple and His throne. Then prayer will ever be the familiar and unbroken line of a happy child with the Father who is always at hand!
Adapted from The Life of Prayer by A.B. Simpson. (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1989). Used with permission. Discipleship Journal.
Last night I had an interesting conversation with some people from church. We were reading through James chapter 3:13-18 and really honed in on the first few verses:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘Wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
This has always stood out to me. Who brags about selfish ambition?
I couldn’t think of anyone I know who flaunts their self seeking, cold-hearted goals for the future.
Then it was grounded again.
Maybe we are taking the word ambition too far. What if ambition isn’t our sweeping goals for the future, but all our goals or hopes.
Suddenly ambition isn’t so far away.
It’s not reserved for the rich and influential.
Selfish Ambition is already in my heart and mind, and if this passage is to be read and believed (as I whole heartedly think it should be) then that selfish ambition is a breeding ground for earthly “wisdom” which is unspiritual and demonic.
“How could this be possible?” you may be wondering. “How could a Christian leader be filled with unspiritual, earthly, demonic ‘wisdom?’”
The answer: It’s in our DNA.
It’s in our daily conversations.
It’s a badge we wear with pride and we don’t even realize it.
It’s the foundation of the American Dream; Making ourselves completely independent and pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
We teach our children not to show emotion and to follow their own dreams, push toward the future they want.
We encourage selfish ambition.
I’m guilty. Chances are, you are too.
We don’t teach it because we hate anyone, it isn’t a conscious choice, but that doesn’t make it harmless.
How many people do you know who have climbed the corporate ladder only to realize there was nothing at the top?
How many people worked for retirement and didn’t make it or realized retirement wasn’t a solution to their emptiness?
How many addictions stem from a lack of fulfillment selfish ambition can never ever fill?
At this point, you may be wondering how I could tie this back in or how we can deal with this horribly widespread malady.
It starts with our students.
It starts with our kids.
Both the remedy for yourself and them.
Spend some time with the students and children in our church and you will realize two things:
1) They are amazingly talented, gifted, and intelligent.
2) It takes a selfless person to volunteer to lead the chaos that ensues from putting all of them in a room together.
Our volunteers have cultivated Selfless ambition to lead these children to the truth of Christ and the children of Meadowbrook are listening and learning.
Just a few weeks ago, most of you witnessed one of our kids getting baptized. There are more who are just around the corner from making that same decision because of parents and teachers who have dedicated time to help them learn and understand what Selfless ambition looks like.
This month, with school starting back up, you might be wondering if there are more ways you can get involved.
I’m here to help.
Talk to me and I can encourage you with some volunteer opportunities to cultivate your own Selfless ambition.
It’s never too late to make a change and make a difference in someone else’s life.
Vacation Bible School-Mission Project – Nathan challenged the kids to donate $250 or more to International Disaster Emergency Services at VBS with a promise they could choose his hair color and hair cut. They donated $370!!! Here’s the results – green hair!
There will not be a Sunday morning service on September 24 due to the running of the Brooksie Way Half Marathon. Therefore, we will meet on Saturday for an evening service on September 23 following the pig roast, around 6 p.m. The annual race brings thousands of runners to Rochester Hills which results in the road in front of our building being closed Sunday morning. Some of our men will be roasting a pig on the church grounds all day on Saturday for everyone to enjoy for supper at 5 p.m. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the foyer over the next couple of weeks. Be sure to join us for this laid-back fun affair.
Self-Nomination Period for Elders and Deacons is open to interested men
The self-nomination period for men who wish to be considered for the office of elder or deacon begins on September 1st, with nominations due not later than September 30th. Please prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to this area of responsibility and service. If you are led to self-nominate for the office of elder or deacon, please see one of the elders for a self-nomination form and screening questionnaire.
The men’s breakfast is ready to start for another year. We meet every other month during the school year, usually on the second Saturday of the month (September, November, January, March, & May). Our next breakfast will be Saturday, September 9th. We will be having a home cooked breakfast of eggs, sausage, gravy, biscuits, and beverage. There is a sign-up sheet in the foyer. We follow breakfast with a time of devotion and prayer. Plan now to attend. For more information please see Steve.
God’s Helping Hands, a local benevolent group that we support, is in need of blankets, clothing and coats (new or gently used) as the weather turns colder and we enter the fall and winter months. Please bring your donations to the church by September 24th. Please see Pat Sipe if you have any questions.
Join the ladies at the first Sisters in Service meeting of the season on Monday, September 25th, at 7:00 p.m. Plans for the new season will be discussed and there’s always a devotion and refreshments.
Annual Sisters in Service Tea is Sept. 30
The annual Sisters in Service Afternoon Tea will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, beginning at 11 a.m. All ladies and girls are invited to attend and bring your friends. The delicious food will be prepared by volunteers, and hostesses will be decorating their beautiful tables. Please let Kathi Tope if you’re willing to host a table or prepare food.
Meadowbrook will be hosting the fourth annual Scrapbook Crop on Sat., Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. It will be open to church attendees as well as to the community. Proceeds will benefit our Teen Ministries to help finance outings like CIY. Make your reservation today on the Scrapbooking Crop Registration Form. For more information, contact crop coordinator Cindy Gerstenlauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Meadowbrook Members Can Help . . . . .
Even more value can be added to the event by knowing you are helping others by your attendance and participation. Volunteer opportunities are posted on the bulletin board in the foyer. It is especially important that the teens be present and willing to assist croppers as necessary, especially when unloading and loading their cars.
This month we highlight three missions supported by Meadowbrook, who are committed to preparing college-age students for ministry both internationally and in the US: Johnson University, Great Lakes Christian College, and His House Christian Fellowship.
Johnson University has campuses in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Kissimmee, Florida. Johnson offers a variety of educational programs, in Arts & Sciences, Bible & Theology, Business & Leadership, Communication & Creative Arts, Congregational Ministry, Intercultural Studies, Social & Behavioral Sciences, and Education. In each of these disciplines, Johnson University prepares students for ministry and outreach both locally and internationally. As Tyson Chastain shared with the Meadowbrook congregation earlier this year, every degree program supports the mission statement: “Johnson University educates students for Christian ministries and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations.” In 2018, Dr. L. Thomas Smith Jr. will succeed Dr. Gary Weedman as the seventh president of Johnson University. For more details go to www.JohnsonU.edu.
Great Lakes Christian College is located in Lansing, Michigan. Great Lakes offers degrees in Advanced Biblical Studies, Bible Theology, Business, Christian Education, Christian Ministry, Cross-Cultural Ministry, Early Childhood & Elementary Education, Family Life Education, History, Interpersonal and Organization Communication, Music, Psychology, and Youth Ministry. In April, GLCC hosted the Michigan Christian Convention to provide education and edification to support local work. According to www.glcc.edu, “The mission of Great Lakes is to create servant leaders in the church and world.” And their “purpose is to educate men and women for preaching and other ministry roles as well as for careers related to the church or institutions in the public sector.”
The following from: Cindy Gerstenlauer, Chair Mission Ministry
His House Christian Fellowship. This month, our church will be praying for our children and area schools as they embark on a new school year. Let us also pray for the students who will be attending one of the 12 Michigan university campuses that make a His House available. His House provides a campus ministry that is a welcoming safe retreat for students. Not only can they grow spiritually here, the campus minister helps them navigate campus life that can be confusing and difficult at times. Both of my sons participated in campus ministries when they were in school. Both of them went to universities that they didn’t know anyone else when they arrived. The campus house helped them develop friendships, get questions answered, do Bible study, and have fun but safe Christian activities. They also provided acts of service to the school and the community. This was a great reassurance to Mike and I as parents. This year the ministry is making a special effort to reach out to international students. In the words of John Gute, Executive Director, The ministry of His House Christian Fellowships exists to introduce students to a Savior who gives ultimate purpose. We have an opportunity to share Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to transform lives while building a relationship with internationals. Many of them will return to their home country taking the Gospel message of Christ with them—often to places that are not open to American Christians.
After the summer break we are ready to get back into Bible study. Our first study will be Wednesday, September 13, at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We will be finishing our study of the Book of Judges and will probably move right into the Book of Ruth. That will be a short study and then we will begin a New Testament study. This is a great way to learn more about the scripture. Hope to see you on Wednesday, Sept. 13. For more information see Steve.
Right Now Media is a website that offers thousands of Christian videos for adults and youth of up-to-date material. Most of these are used for teaching in various situations. Meadowbrook is making this available at no cost to you. On the main page of our website scroll down to the bottom and click on “Resources.” Then click on “Right Now Media.” Fill out the information to set up an account and affirm that you are related to Meadowbrook, which includes members, family members, interested people, etc. Once you have created your account, you are free to use the material. Remember to bookmark their main page which will allow you to go directly to their website instead of always going through Meadowbrook’s website (where you will have to fill out all the information again). We hope that you will enjoy these materials.
We are now offering a spiritual gifts test link on our website that we encourage our members and interested attenders to fill out. There is a test for both adults and youth. Please go to our website and click on “Ministries” and then “Adult” or “Teen.” Then click on the Spiritual Gifts Test link and follow the instructions. We want to better use our people in their gifted area. There are no right or wrong answers. This will give you a better idea of where God has gifted you and how to use those gifts in the Church.
If you have any question please call the church office.
Ruth Cagle – September 2
Ron Meegan – September 5
John & Stephanie Ciuba (Ann.) – September 5
Rick & Pat Sipe (Ann.) – September 6
Philip Johnson – September 7
Mike & Linda Tingley (Ann.) – September 10
Hector & Laura Urteaga (Ann.) – September 12
Patricia Davis – September 17
Jaysun Thomas – September 23
John Ciuba III – September 25
Pat & Winona Wundrach (Ann.) – September 26