Ten Biblical Prayers for the Spiritually Disconnected

We are almost done with our 21 Days of Prayer. However, even though this spiritually journey technically ends Saturday, my encouragement is to take what you’ve experienced during these 21 Days and keep going with it. We’ve been praying “Lord, Search Me, Break Me, and Send Me.” There’s no need to stop praying those prayers. Keep your focus on Jesus, expectantly waiting for God to answer these dangerous prayers in His timing and His way.

Praying for the Spiritually Disconnected
This past Sunday, as we talked about how all Jesus-followers are sent, I mentioned I would be giving you ten biblical prayers you can pray for a friend or family member that doesn’t know or follow Jesus. Use these prayers to help you pray for your “one.” Simply insert the name of the “one” person(s) you are sent to in the blanks below.

(To give credit where due, these ten prayers come from the “Life Transformation Groups” described in chapter 8 of Neil Cole’s book Cultivating a Life for God from Christian Multiplication Associates.)

  1. I pray, Lord, that You draw ____ to Yourself (John 6:44).
  2. I pray that ____ seeks to know You (Acts 17:27).
  3. I pray that ____ hears and believes the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
  4. I ask You to prevent Satan from blinding ____ to the truth (2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:25-26).
  5. Holy Spirit, I ask You to convict ____ of his/her sin and reveal his/her need for Christ’s redemption.
  6. I ask You to send someone who will share the Gospel with ____ (Matt. 9:37-38).
  7. I also ask that You give me the opportunity, the courage, and the right words to share the truth with ____ (Col. 4:3-6; Eph. 6:19-20).
  8. Lord, I pray that ____ turns from his/her sin (Acts 17:30-31; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
  9. Lord, I pray that ____ would put all of his/her trust in Christ (John 1:12; 5:24).
  10. Lord, I pray that ____ will confess Christ as Lord of his/her life, be rooted in his/her faith, and bear much fruit for Your glory (Rom. 10:9-10; Col. 2:6-7; Luke 8:15).

 

Speaking the Gospel to Strangers

By Erin Bird

I am typing this from the Exponential Conference in Florida where our associate pastor Jeff and our wives are taking in great teaching from this huge conference focused on the topic of church planting.

On my flight down here to Orlando, I sat in the middle seat next to a guy on the aisle. I knew if I didn’t introduce myself right away, we probably wouldn’t talk the entire 3-hour flight. I had work to do, but with my own sermon from Sunday  still rattling in my head about “speaking the gospel,” I knew I should create an opportunity to practice what I had preached. So I extended my hand and said, “My name’s Erin.”

And that handshake turned into a three-hour conversation.

Ryan became a follower of Jesus just 18-months ago, so he was THRILLED to learn I was a pastor at a church plant in Iowa. He is a part of a Converge church in the Twin Cities (Converge is the conference Riverwood is part of), so he peppered me with questions about church, small groups, volunteering, how to become a pastor, baptism, how to share his faith, and much more. For the entire flight, I was able to “speak the gospel” to Ryan, helping him see how the gospel answered a lot of his questions and could help him take the next steps in his faith.

What I Learned

My interaction with Ryan got me thinking:

  • Had I not introduced myself within the first 30 seconds of sitting down next to him, I probably would have never had the opportunity to disciple him for those three hours.
  • Also, I didn’t launch into a gospel presentation with Ryan telling him of his need for Jesus. Rather, I began with questions to get to know him. I learned he is divorced, and his divorce is what led him to look for a church. By God’s grace, he ended up at a church that clearly explained the gospel, and that gospel has completely changed Ryan’s life, to the point he is beginning to think and live the gospel.

You never know what God will do when you take a risk to introduce yourself to a stranger and then ask questions to get to know them. You might find yourself encouraging a fellow brother or sister in the faith like I did. Or you might ended up sharing the gospel with someone who is ready to hear it. You might end up making a new friend. Or you might see nothing happen. But if you don’t take the risk and introduce yourself, then you DEFINITELY won’t see anything happen!

So let me encourage to take a risk and reach out to someone. It doesn’t have to be a complete stranger, but your selflessness of getting to know another person just might be exactly what they need.

Redeeming Halloween

We are taking a one-week break from our “How to Follow Jesus at Work & School” series to share a “rerun” of an post we ran last year about hosting a 5-minute Trick or Treat Party. If you are part of the Riverwood family, will you join us in being a blessing to your neighborhood on Oct 31?

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by Erin Bird

I don’t like admitting this, but I hate Halloween. Some of you may feel the same.

The reason I don’t want to admit I have a distaste for this “holiday” is because it makes me sound like some sort of grinch or Negative Nancy. I know bunches of people who love Halloween. They think it’s cute to see kids dress up in costumes. They love the cooler temps of Fall. It’s a great excuse to get together with friends and be silly. And they like the feeling of being scared when watching a horror movie or walking through a haunted house. To them, it’s all in good fun.

But as I grow older as a follower of the life-giving Jesus and see the brokenness of our world, I don’t like that All Hallow’s Eve has become a celebration of evil, fear, and even death. I know lots people don’t see Halloween that way, but when vampires and zombies are the mascots of the holiday, you have to realize the truth of what this day is truly celebrating.

As I’ve wrestled with my feelings about Halloween, I’ve tried to figure out how to respond:

  • Do I just say nothing and go with the flow of culture? (This would definitely be the easiest route.)
  • Do I rebel and refuse to participate in any way? (I could be like some of my other Halloween-hating friends and wish people a Happy Reformation Day – this is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation after all!).
  • Or could I somehow possibly “redeem” the day? Could I somehow come alongside the culture and bring something different?

Taking the Third Option

This third option takes some creativity and work. It is the most difficult of the three as it requires me to live in the tension of grace and truth. But for me, this seems like a Jesus-centered approach to the day.

This is why for the past several years, my family has held a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party” out of our garage. There’s nothing scary about it (no one jumps out at you). Rather, it’s well-lit, festive, and safe. But it welcomes people exactly as they are (even if they wear a scary costume).

Because I want to see you live like Jesus lived, I invite you into this grace and truth tension over Halloween as well. I encourage you to host your own 5-minute Trick or Treat Party , or partner up with someone else. It will take a little bit of prep work, but it will TOTALLY pay off!

Here’s how to host your own 5-minute Trick or Treat Party:

  • Sweep out your garage and do some general cleaning/tidying up (if you are really OCD, you can use black plastic tarp to cover the walls).
  • Use a large tarp to cover the entrance to your opened garage door. Be sure to leave an opening for people to enter.
  • Make a sign that says, “Come on in for a 5-minute Trick or Treat Party!”
  • Have at least two games that kids can play to “earn” their candy. (An additional idea: If you have a card table, set it up with some simple crafts like coloring or leaf rubbings.)
  • Have a food table with brownies, cookies, popcorn, apple cake, or whatever desserts/treats you want to serve.
  • Prepare hot chocolate or hot apple cider to serve to cold parents and kids.
  • Smile a lot and welcome everyone who enters!

Depending on how messy your garage is to start, it will probably take about 2-3 hours to set-up, and an hour to clean-up. (Hint: Do the work on Sunday afternoon the 29th!)

But trust me: your “party” will be a HUGE hit. The work will be worth it. The kids will love it, the parents will be glad to get out of the cold for a couple minutes, and you will help create a positive experience in the neighborhood.

If you simply can’t host a party because your home is not in a high-traffic neighborhood, or you have small children and want extra help, or you can’t even park your own car in your garage, then connect up with another Riverwood family and do it together!

At Riverwood, we want to be a blessing to our community. Hosting a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party” is a super simple way to create a positive experience for your neighbors that just might help you connect with them a little more. And redeem Halloween just a little bit in the process.

Finding Jesus Everyday

by Erin Bird

Before I get to this week’s main article, let me remind you to set your clocks back one hour as you head to bed this Saturday night. That’s right, Daylight Savings Time ends, so enjoy getting that hour back that was stolen from you this past Spring.

Carry On

Let’s continue with our series here on the blog about Riverwood’s mission. Once again, our mission is…

To invite the spiritually disconnected to find and follow Jesus.

We’ve looked at the “invite” and “spiritually disconnected” segments of our mission, which means we are ready for the word “find”.

Finding Jesus

If you attend a Worship Gathering or have a conversation with me, you will hear me use the words “find and follow” together. On the surface, “find” refers to evangelism and “follow” to discipleship.

(Side note: I view “evangelism” (sharing Jesus with others) as merely a part of “discipleship” (becoming like Jesus). In order to become like Jesus, you have to first hear about Him and understand the significance of the gospel.

What we all need, whether we are followers of Jesus yet or not, is to “go deeper” with Jesus. For some, “going deeper” is making the initial decision to follow Jesus, while for others “going deeper” is, for example, reading their Bible, or serving their neighbor, or helping plant a church. “Discipleship” is merely taking your next step in obedience. We are all at a different place in our spiritual journey, so your next step will look different than someone else’s. But that’s what the Holy Spirit is enabling us to do – take our next step toward Jesus, whether that’s our first step or 400th step.)

While I normally tie “find and follow” together (and will continue to do so), today I want to do it a bit differently and focus just on the word “find.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves: Our sight is often on the things immediately around us. We are physical beings with busy schedules and a variety of relationships, living within a loud culture shouting to us through our TVs, newspapers, Facebook feeds, and water cooler conversations.

This means we don’t always see the spiritual. We give so much attention to the things of this earth that we miss the divine.

So even if you are already a Jesus-follower, you still need to “find” Jesus. And the great news is that He is all around you! You can “find” him:

[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]In a sunset[/list_item]
[list_item]In a movie or great book[/list_item]
[list_item]In the lyrics of a song[/list_item]
[list_item]In a great painting[/list_item]
[list_item]In times of prayer[/list_item]
[list_item]In silence[/list_item]
[list_item]In your personal times of Bible reading[/list_item]
[list_item]In a Growth Group discussion[/list_item]
[list_item]In a beautiful landscape[/list_item]
[list_item]And so much more![/list_item]
[/list]

Colossians 1:17 tells us:

[H]e is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

This means Jesus is constantly with you and around you (just as He said), holding ALL things together. So I encourage you, keep your spiritual eyes open. Don’t let your sight be filled simply with your schedule, to-do list, and the nightly news. Instead, look for Jesus. Find Him. And have open eyes to see where He is at work.

Because as you find Jesus everyday, it will fill you with wonder and awe at the majesty of God!

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