Monday, March 23, 2009

Prayer Breakfast or Breakfast Social?

A question was raised on Twitter last week regarding Prayer Breakfasts and why we call them by that name. Over the years I have been to many which consists of many elements:
  • Fellowship and socializing
  • Food: either buffet or served
  • Special speaker
  • Offering
  • Door prizes
  • Prayer
If you're like me, I like to get together with folks and have a fellowship and eat good food. It is necessary for our society as a whole but I question why we call these events Prayer Breakfast when prayer is the last on the list of things to do, and only a few minutes overall is spent in this portion of the program.

Several of us went to a breakfast this past weekend. It was a lovely fellowship which turned into a fund raiser without notification. But for the most part, these social events are called "Prayer" breakfast and the fact that more time is spent in food and sermons than prayer, suggest that the names be changed to fellowship breakfasts.

This weekend, we had a wonderful word that the sisters gathered to think about the region, the cities we each represented. The tone was set, fellowship, great food and table talk, and then the speaker took a direction that left no time for prayer at all. We left feeling we had not completed the mission. We had not prayed even for each other. At most of these events, we end up praying for fifteen minutes out of three hours.

The question I raise today is this: Should the name be changed to Fellowship Breakfasts? Should prayer be the first on the agenda before breakfast is served or at least the first thing after breakfast? Should prayer be the most important thing before a speaker?

Please feel free to leave a comment below. Let's dialogue. God inhabits our praise, our prayers are a part of praise ... have you ever gone to a prayer breakfast and left feeling you didn't complete the reason for going?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fellowship or Empire

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens, Selah."
Psalm 68:19

Let me ask a question, is your "church" constructing a loving fellowship or an empire?

The number of people around the world with the same story is alarming. People start out with the right intention to bring people together in a loving and nurturing environment. People come and feel the warmth and joy of the Lord in the fellowship, the Word of God convicts and brings people to the altar for repentance and restoration. So what happens after a few years when a new person can come in and nobody notices that they are new to the fellowship?

Recently a friend took a new believer to a woman's group that she used to attend. Interestingly, she was greeted but the new woman was overlooked with nothing more than a "hi". We were so glad that she didn't go by herself, she would not have felt welcomed to go back. At the end of the meeting, my friend stood up and reminded the group that they have forgotten what it was like to be new, to be desirous for new people to come, and now that there are more than a few people, do not truly welcome and encourage new people.

In another situation, a husband and wife assisted a new pastor to build a congregation, the building itself, and their family along with others had been real encourager for everybody who came through the door. Their particular building is in a drug infested area. Drunks came regularly during services to see what they could get from the church. They received salvation, got off drugs and alcohol and welcomed into the body of Christ. Before this couple left the area, it was noted that when a drunk came in on the new carpets and beautiful foyer, the ushers were looking for some way to escort them from their property. Word soon got around, drunks and hurting people were no longer welcomed at the church where so many had met God for the first time.

In the several groups of ministers and pastors that I belong throughout the city and on the internet, my heart sinks each time someone asks how do we monetize what we do with the people in the church? How do we sell our ministries for funding? God should never be put on the auction block.

Be encouraged to ask yourself today, is the place I go each week a place where anybody would be welcomed? Would you allow an alcoholic to sit next to you? Perhaps someone who doesn't have the clothes and clean smell you have?

We cannot save the lost and forgotten until we have a conscience and love for them. Is someone in your congregation in need of extra love and attention, a helping hand, or just a phone call saying somebody actually cares about them?

We are watching people divorce, kids going to jail, turning to anything that will take away the pain--and these are people in the congregations because nobody really cares.

Galations 6:2 NIV "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Five Addictions

I was glad that when I received this award Julie told me I only had to admit to five addictions, which is the easy part, and then award five other sisters the same award. That is such a cool idea. Thanks Julie! If I had been asked to write this, err, admit this list a few weeks ago, coffee would have been in the number one spot, but I have weaned myself from coffee and in fact, most of the cola drinks as well.

So for the list:
  1. Teaching and Mentoring--and yes, I have put them as one item because to be a good mentor, you must also like to teach. My love and addiction started as a child, telling stories that I either made up or rehearsed from other sources, to the kids younger than me. It grew over time to writing and biblical teaching, as well as a number of other subjects
  2. Reading--my favorites are suspense/thrillers, historical fiction, biographies, just good books with a great moral value. I am not a fan of chick lit or romance.
  3. Cherry Ice Cream with warm French Chocolate topping and fresh whipped cream--Condrell's here in our village make their own ice cream and it is delicious.
  4. News--I must admit as most of my friends know, my addiction to news both national and international
  5. Writing--several blogs, columns, stories, working on novels, and of course, Twitter [does that count as writing?]
Okay, those are my five that I can think of at the moment. Now to pass this prestigious award to five other sisters who are deserving but that's the hard part choosing. So many friends and only five slots. But here goes:
  1. Lynn Mosher at Heading Home
  2. Terri at Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer
  3. Peggy at Embracing Life
  4. Lindy-Lou at Lindy-Lou
  5. Karla at Empowering Christian Women
I'm now laughing so bad, as I realized that God has indeed nudged me towards a great group of friends, some Christian, some not, some I'm not sure--but everybody has given me something to smile about, think about, and consider. Thanks everybody!

Thanks sistahs for playing along and posting your five addictions and then choosing five other sistahs to give the award to.

A Fiery Minister In His Service
Susan Storm Smith

Friday, February 20, 2009

This Little Light of Mine Or Oops?

"And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go ye out to meet him."
Matthew 26:6

I started out looking for another scripture, but got the chapter and verse reversed, but was spot on for what the Lord was placing in my heart. Have you ever done things like that?

This parable is about the ten virgins that went to the bridal party, all very excited to be in attendance. Then five of them began to run out of oil for their lamps and had to leave, thereby missing the bridegroom's entrance. That meant they couldn't gain re-entry into the party. My friends, that just sounds like life sometimes, doesn't it.

It reminds me of those who get dressed and go to church on Sunday, but run out of spiritual energy to really listen and get the flame of God illuminating their heart and mind. Sometimes it is like going to work not really expecting anything to happen, and it doesn't because our lamps are not prepared to see anything of value.

Lanterns are taken with the expectation that when it gets dark, and the way is not clear, that there will be a light that lights the path or room so that understanding and participation can be enjoyed by all. Is your lantern available today for that time when it might get dark and there is nothing but you and others without a light of any sort.

Will you be able to light the lantern that God has wanted to put in your hands fully filled with His light to make a difference to others? If not, take a few moments and spend some time at His filling station, offer up a prayer seeking His fullness. Be a light through Christ for someone else.
But make sure you have entrance into the ultimate party in heaven--not just a light of some sort on earth.

Love ya!

A Fiery Flame For His Service,
Susan Storm Smith

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Have You Considered?

"And the Lord said, 'Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household to give them their portion of mean in dur season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing." Luke 12:42-43 KJV

As I was reading this particular passage of scripture, verses 34-44, jmy heart leapt causing me to pause and consider my ways. Hopefully it will give you the same reaction in activity.

Jesus is speaking about the overseer of the house, not knowing which hour of the day or night that the thief would come to steal from him, but takes care to be on guard. Each of us have been given abundance from the Lord. Are we being good overseers over that portion that is ours to guard?

We think of the love we receive, perhaps this weekend will be a good time to reflect how we demonstrate our love and care over the things that He gives out of his bounties. We watch the news and what the government, banks, and other people are doing to our world governments, economies, and so forth, ...

...but do we take the same consideration over what God has given to us? And what will be our reward from the owner of the goods?

Today is a day that we should perhaps consider our ways that our deeds will be in right standing with the Lord, so that we will show ourselves as one on watch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When Weeping Is Okay

"This is what the Lord Almighty says, "Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them." Jeremiah 9:17 NIV

I wonder what changes would be made around the world if the people of Almighty God would actually want to just come together in prayer? A friend of mine was asked to attend an all-night prayer vigil, much like Jeremiah was requesting in the above scripture. She was about to attend but thought to ask more about it.

She asked what they planned to do and if there was a theme or major concern that they were coming together to pray over. The woman who was inviting my friend was very enthusiastic in giving the details of how to get to the church, who had agreed to attend, and ... who was cooking all the food. When asked why they were serving food at a prayer vigil, the reply was astounding. "Well, you know, being up all night and praying makes you hungry, so we want to have something available for the sisters to eat, keep them going."

The food being served was not just cheese and crackers, juice and water. The menu was fried chicken, greens, all kinds of deserts, ribs and so many other buffet items. The women then could get up off their "wailing" knees and make themselves a plate. This is not what Jeremiah is calling us to do.

Jeremiah is calling for skilled women, those who know that it isn't about eating and dressing for the occasion. He is calling for men and women to come as you are, with a burden to get before the Lord over particular issues and challenges. People skilled in the ability to pray the Bible, to get rid of distractions, leave the cell phones and pagers off, and submit before the throne of God for as long as it takes for the burden to be removed. I have been in those meetings that have lasted all night and far into the next day. The benefits have been phenomenal.

Jesus gave instruction for the disciples to stay together in one place for one purpose. Peter and the apostles, then Paul all understood the need and breakthrough that comes with corporate prayer, a solemn assembly of like hearted people who were willing to pour out their hearts before the Lord.

I submit to you my friends, that we are in an hour and time of challenges this world has not seen. We can and do activate heaven on our behalf through effective fervent prayer. I challenge you to call your congregations, friends, group together for "wailing prayer" over your city, your region, your nation. Then add your government leaders on every level, and all Christian leadership. Let us take the collapse of the world system and seek the face of God, turning from it and seeking the face of God for real. [2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 35:15; Ezekiel 3:19 NIV]

Looking forward to hearing your plans and your reports!

A Fiery Flame For His Service
Susan Storm Smith

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love Is Everything

"Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your strength, and with all of your mind ..." Luke 10:27 NIV

How many times do we tell ourselves and God that we love Him with all that we have, yet we are holding on to some secrets deep inside? I was reading a wonderful book called "I Do Again" by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs. While reading about their challenges, divorce and the secret that tore them apart, I thought of our individual and corporate relationship with Christ.

Have you become comfortable that God surely is here with me but not sure? Do you believe that He is the lover of your soul and loves you no matter what? Do you take it for granted without putting anything into the relationship? We tend to treat our relationship with God the way we tend to our physical relationships. It takes work to make them be good.

In a marriage that turns sour, how many times has one of the spouses cried out, "but look at all the things I have given and done for you." The other spouse, not impressed by the cries and rehearsal of all that the other has done is like those who will go before the Lord. "But Jesus, have I not preached, healed, prophesied, and done all kinds of stuff in your awesome and reverent name?" The Bible says, he will look at those and say, "I know you not."

Are you in a relationship with God where there is mutual agreement, or are you headed for a divorce? He never leaves us nor forsakes us--make sure as the bride of Christ, you are able to wear the garments and sit at the marriage feast. Please don't be on the other side wishing for another chance.

It is our love for God, the peace that comes and intimacy through prayer and study that makes a dark day bright, the challenges of life tolerable, and the promises something awesome to expect.
If you're not sure where you are, take time today and say I do again to God. If you're sure you are in His presence take time to tell him how much you love and appreciate him.

And by all means, if your marriage, relationships with friends and family are on shaky ground, take time to do some mending.

A Fiery Flame For His Service
Susan Storm Smith