Category: Blog

Prayer: The Oxygen of Our Spiritual Life

By Prasad Aghamkar

Prayer is an integral part of our religious life. Prayer is found in almost every religion. Every religion, culture and people group have their own style and method of prayer.

In world religions, like Islam, the worshiper begins his prayer first, by standing, bowing, prostrating himself, and concludes by sitting on the floor. During each posture, he recites verses, phrases and prayers. While praying, devotees face towards the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. They offer prayers five times a day.

In Hinduism, many Hindu homes have a shrine where offerings are made and prayers are said. A shrine can be anything: a room, a small altar or simply pictures or statues of the deity. Family members often worship together. Many times they just chant “ready made” mantras.

But let us focus on the Christian prayer:

What is prayer?: It is a heart to heart, sincere and humble talk with God. It is talking to our Almighty God, the Father, through the Son, Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Our sincere prayers are not only oxygen to ourselves, but they can also provide oxygen to weak and spiritually dying people too, and that is why; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, teaches us to “Pray without ceasing.”

  1. Anyone and everyone can, and need to pray.
  2. Prayer should be in our DNA. Just like air/ oxygen is essential for us to stay alive; similarly prayer is extremely essential in our Christian spiritual life.
  3. Prayer helps us to stay connected with our loving God, the Father, who is the source of every good thing.
  4. Prayer reminds us that we are always dependent on God’s grace and mercy. The moment a person stops praying to God, his connection with God ends.

Unique things about Christian prayer are:

  1. We can pray anywhere, anytime .We need not have specific direction, we do not need any idol in front of us, our God does not need any material offering from us; there is no specific time. He is Omnipresent God. When we pray; He needs only our faith and our heart.
  2. Our God is always available and eager to hear our prayers. Bible says, “Behold, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps”.

3.We can pray to Almighty God in all circumstances and at all the times.

The Power of prayer:-  Just want to share a testimony of one Hindu Girl from our Asian fellowship. 3-4 months back she had asked Vandana and me to pray for her mother and job situation. After one month she came running to our Tea Stall and told us, “you prayed for me and your God answered my prayer request.” Her mom, who had suffered a stroke, was walking again and the girl got a job!

Next month, I asked this Hindu girl to share her testimony in our monthly fellowship and she told in front of other Hindu people that how Jesus answered her prayers. Praise God! When we pray, our prayers touch even Hindu people and they too acknowledge that Jesus is the only powerful and living God.

In the same Indian fellowship, one Hindu person who is from the highest caste in Hinduism, rich and educated, heard this testimony and asked me to pray for his family. I invited him to my office and shared the Gospel and told the difference between praying to Jesus and praying to other gods and prayed for him. After one week, he and his wife came to visit me, especially to tell me how Jesus had answered our prayers. His wife told me that they had been doing all rituals, offering many things to their idols,  praying to their gods for 17 years, but never got the answer.

Another Hindu wrote me an email:

“Dear Prasad,

I am always grateful to you. It is only because of your prayer Almighty Lord has blessed us. I can never forget your generosity and friendship. God bless you and your family members! Thanking you.” 

How amazing is the power of prayer!

We all can pray:- The Bible teaches us that God has blessed His children with different gifts and talents, but prayer is something that everyone can do. We all cannot preach, or teach or help financially or go overseas for mission work, but we all can pray. Our prayers can bring change in the lives of many unbelievers. More than our words, there is power in Almighty God.

The Bible says: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. 1 John 5:14

Someone , somewhere needs your prayer support; are you willing to pray?

Your one prayer can change and save somebody’s life forever. Let us start praying from TODAY.

 

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Improving Security, Yet Always Secure

As I write these words, it’s only been three days since the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. And no doubt like many church leaders across this nation, my thoughts are torn in many different directions. I am grieving for that church, and at the same time I am concerned about my own. I know that we have no real security in this world, and that our only true security is in Jesus Christ. And I know that our church should always be welcoming and open to a world that needs Jesus.

But at the same time, I know our church must take steps to protect ourselves from dangers. We can’t eliminate every risk or anticipate every threat, but we can get better at recognizing the risks and being prepared to address them. These risks include not only the threat of violence, but also more common scenarios such as an injury, medical condition, natural disaster, fire, or other emergencies.

For some time, we’ve made incremental changes to become more secure and prepared for emergencies on Sunday mornings. If you’ve been running a bit late to worship, you may have encountered some locked entry doors, especially those near our children’s wing. You might have noticed our volunteer security team roaming the halls just after Sunday School, or seen them sitting at the welcome center during the worship service. You might have also recently noticed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) mounted near the church office.

We’re going to keep looking for ways we can improve our readiness. We recently trained some of our staff in giving CPR and using an AED, and we plan to train more staff and volunteers in the same skills. We plan to modify our worship center exit doors so that they can be locked at appropriate times while still allowing people to exit. We also plan to further train our Sunday morning security team, greeter team, and ushers to better work together in the event of an emergency. And in the wake of the Sutherland Springs tragedy, we are now evaluating additional security measures for Sunday mornings. Please pray for wisdom for your pastors and other church leaders as they consider and implement these plans.

Pray also for our church’s witness, that we would shine bright with hope in Jesus Christ even in a dim and darkening world. We need not lose hope when tragedy strikes, violence attacks, or fear threatens to overwhelm us. Jesus alone gives us eternal life, and that joy can never be taken away.


For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 CSB)

 

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Prayer

Vince Scarbrough Minister to Preschool & Children Families
Vince Scarbrough
Minister to Families & Connections

I have several books on my shelf that “need” to be read. I bought them with the purpose of reading them, I just have not gotten around to it. I want to read them, but they have not naturally risen to the top of my to do list yet. So, last week, I snatched one off the shelf and dove in. A few pages into it, the author wrote:

Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change – the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.”

So much for light reading and reflection – “prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” It is “the main way we experience deep change.” Does my prayer life reflect such? On multiple occasions, Paul helps us understand the importance of prayer as he reveals his heart and his prayer for other believers. In Ephesians 1:15-19, Paul writes:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

One of our greatest blessings is to be able to pray to the God of all creation. To pour out our hearts and to allow him to work in our hearts and change us. On top of that, we have the beautiful example that Paul gave us of praying for others. As you pray, would you pray the following for our children and students:

– That they will know Christ as Savior early in life and treasure their inheritance as children of God; that they will not accept Satan’s deceitful lies but will walk in the light as heirs of the Kingdom of God.

– That they will have a hatred for sin and all things wicked, and a love for godliness and righteousness.

– That they will rightly receive discipline and instruction; that they will be quick to repent; that they will be caught when they are guilty.

– That they will be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, and physical. Pray that they stand firm in persecution, and firmly against those who persecute.

– That they will have a responsible and loving attitude in their relationships with others.  Pray that they will walk in humility and look to the needs of others.

– That they will respect God’s lordship over them, and those He has placed in authority over them.

– That they will choose godly influences; that they will desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong ones; that they will be “hedged in” so they cannot find their way to wrong people or places, and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them; that they will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one.

 

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Mark 4

Cameron Debity Pastor

Cameron Debity
Pastor

Upon first reading Mark 4:35-41, one might be tempted to think that this is a legendary tale. It is the fantastic story of Jesus silencing a deadly storm by simply speaking to it. A hurricane force storm obeys Jesus just as a small child obeys a parent when he is told to be quiet and to stay quiet. Remarkably though, the narrative contains features that do not square with the typical features of a legendary account. Rather, this story has features that make it easy to conclude that this is an eyewitness account.

The key is all the little details contained in the story that don’t necessarily help move the story along. Mark notes that the event happened in the evening. They took Jesus with them in a boat, just as he was. This means that Jesus went from the teaching boat, straight to the traveling boat, without going back on shore. We learn there were lots of others boats around him. And during the journey Jesus went to sleep on a cushion in the back of a boat.

What is the significance of all the small details? They are meaningful because these are the memories of somebody. Our minds tend to recount particular small details amidst the major circumstances we experience in life. So, when we encounter such details in a narrative we must conclude that this was eyewitness reporting. In the case of The Book of Mark, the various details we encounter are probably the memories of Peter. If you’ll recall, Peter served as a primary source of Mark as he authored his gospel.

It is also important to consider that the biblical gospels were written way too early to be legends. They were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses and those eyewitnesses could have been consulted regarding the veracity of the account. While modern, realistic fiction does contain minute details like the ones we find in the gospel of Mark, we must keep in mind that Mark originally wrote to a 1st century audience and not a 21st century audience.

The most important takeaway is that this event really happened. The power of Jesus isn’t simply devotional. His power doesn’t simply surface internally, in our hearts. Jesus really calmed a hurricane like storm by simply speaking to it. Let that soak in for a moment.

So, if this really happened, if Jesus had this kind of power, then we must take all that he said very seriously. Many people like to pick and choose the teachings of Jesus that they want to follow. They embrace his easier saying and reject the more challenging ones. They create a makeshift Jesus according to their own preferences. But if Jesus really calmed a storm as Mark says he did, then we have to deal with him on his terms. You don’t get to control the one who has control over creation.

 

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Jonah

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Chase Grubb
Minister of Students

Though the book of Jonah bears the name of a character in the book, most of what is learned is about God.  First, we see that God has a desire to see all people groups live righteously.  God sends a teacher from Israel to a pagan nation to call them to repentance.  Throughout the Old Testament God acts in similar ways.  Each time he does so he is attempting to show Israel and the foreign nation involved his greatness.  Jonah going to Nineveh is another attempt by God to show himself to both Jews and gentiles.  He shows himself to the Ninevehites by first sending a message of judgment and repentance, and finally by keeping his word and forgiving them following their repentance.  God’s heart has never stopped at the boarders of Israel, and God’s way will universally save.  God also showed himself to Israel by sending a Jewish teacher to the gentile city of Nineveh.  The Jews would not have understood, but they also wouldn’t have been able to deny the power and heart of God when they heard and saw the transformation of the
citizens of Nineveh

Bringing up the second point, God is a merciful God.  It would have been hard for any Jew to accept that God wanted to save any gentile.  But, it would have been impossible for a Jew to accept that God wanted to save Nineveh.  The city was not only gentile, but it was the capital of Israel’s largest enemy at the time, Assyria.  There was hatred between the two people groups.  This is evident when reading Jonah.  Knowing God would save the people if they repented, Jonah’s hate was so deep that he refused to go.  Then in the final chapter we see that Jonah is angry the Ninevehites repented.  As a reader, God did not hesitate to stay the city’s judgment as soon as their repentance took place.  Regardless of our sin, God is immediate to forgive when we come to him per his Word.
JonahGod’s mercy is also shown to Jonah.  As one progresses through the book it is easy to see that everyone and everything in the book is obedient to God accept the man of God, Jonah.  The men on the boat Jonah attempts to flee on, the storm, fish, plant, worm, and the Ninevehites all obey God’s commands;  yet, even in Jonah’s blatant and repeated disobedience, God gives him another chance.  God had the fish spit Jonah out on the land and again in the final chapter we see God seeking to teach him what is right.  It would be hard to think of a greater sin for a man of God to commit.  First directly disobeying God, but worse than that, disobeying in hopes that no one in Nineveh would be spared.  Upon hearing this story or reading this book, Israel would have been amazed at the patience and mercy shown Jonah as well.

Finally, God is the main character and focus of the book of Jonah.  Often time in Sunday School young believers are taught to associate Jonah with a big fish.  To give some reference here, Jonah is mentioned by name 18 times while The Lord is recorded 41 times.  The author is seeking to teach the audience about the character and nature of God.  They are to see that God is incredibly merciful.  Readers would have acknowledged God’s patience, his power over nature, and how present he is in the lives of individuals.

 

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