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).

 

Learn Four Simple Steps to Follow Jesus!

by Erin Bird

Okay, okay… I admit the headline of this post is over-the-top.

Because in all honesty, following Jesus can’t be reduced to just some “four-step process” that you can master on your own. Following Jesus requires the work of the Holy Spirit to help us surrender on our part and to do the deep work of discipling on His part.

But a “pathway” helps create a framework from which we can understand how the Holy Spirit is calling us to follow Jesus.

This week, as we come to part three in our series on The Riverwood Way, we come to Riverwood’s “pathway” – Gather, Grow, Give, Go. Here’s how we say it “officially”:

Our path to helping people follow Jesus is simple: We invite people to gather together to worship Jesus, to grow spiritually through small groups and personal spiritual disciplines, to give of their FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time) for the sake of Jesus’ Kingdom, and to go into their neighborhoods, workplaces, gyms, other communities, and the ends of the earth with the amazing news of the gospel.

Let’s break that down…

And Now, a Riverwood Infomercial!

At Riverwood, the first “step” we want you to take is to Gather with other Jesus-followers to worship Jesus. There is something powerful when God’s people gather for corporate worship and learning.

But just gathering isn’t enough! Rather, we believe it’s just beginning! Jesus spoke to gathering crowds, but He also spent time helping a smaller group of guys (known as His disciples) go deeper in their understanding of their relationship with the Father. In other words, He helped them Grow.

That’s what we want to do at Riverwood – help you Grow spiritually. We encourage you to take a two-handed approach to spiritual growth – individually and in relationships.

[list type= extra=]
[list_item]Individually, we encourage you to develop personal spiritual disciples like reading the Scripture, praying, and such to help you seek after God.[/list_item]
[list_item]But we also encourage you to get in a Growth Group where God can use relationships to help you go deeper in your faith.[/list_item]
[/list]

But even THAT is not enough! We also want to see you Give your FIST – your Finances, Influence, Skills, and Time. When you serve at the Food Bank, you are giving your time. When you participate with Riverwood in our Christmas Global Impact Gift, you are giving financially. When you do Big Brothers Big Sisters or shovel your neighbor’s drive, you are giving your influence and energy.

But wait, there’s more! We also want to see you Go like Jesus. If Jesus could leave behind His throne in heaven to come to earth to take on human flesh and live incarnationally among mankind,(a person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting qualities of Jesus) then we can live “incarnationally” among our neighbors, club members, co-workers, and family. We can be “Jesus with skin on” to those around us, by loving them the way He would love them.

Again, this “Gather, Grow, Give, Go,” is merely a framework to help you seek after God as He molds and shapes you into the image of Jesus. You are wired differently than others, so your spiritual growth will probably look a bit different than others. But the point is that we are following Jesus – and Gather, Grow, Give, Go is a super simple, easy to remember “pathway” that can helps us get on our way to following in the footsteps of our Messiah.

Mission:Invite

by Erin Bird

We just finished up going verse by verse through Romans 12 here on the blog. Now I want to take a few weeks and walk through Riverwood’s mission statement, which is…

The mission of Riverwood Church is to invite the spiritually disconnected to find and follow Jesus.

Over the next 5 weeks, we will define those words and unpack this statement. And today, I want to examine the word “invite.”

The Power of Invitation

In January of this year, I said we would have a “theme” of invitation for 2016. I encouraged our church family to invite people into their lives – to Sunday Worship Gatherings, to their Growth Group, over to their house for dinner, etc. Invitation forces us to focus on others and not just get wrapped up into our own lives.

In the Bird house lately, it’s been very easy to get wrapped up in our own lives. Our lives have been so full with leading Riverwood, working another job, LeAnn doing a long-term sub at the high school, while both of us try to stay connected with our 4 kids and one “adopted” daughter… it makes life rather full! But as busy as our schedule has been, LeAnn and I have been trying to live a life of invitation. For instance, we’ve been using home football games to invite non-church-going friends over for dinner, and then head up to the high school to watch the Go-Hawks play.

So how can you adopt a culture of invitation in your life?

Here are some ideas:

[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]Food: Everyone eats 21 meals each week. How could you use one of those meals to invite someone to eat with you?[/list_item]
[list_item]Sundays: There are generic invite cards on the Give & Grow table every week. Grab some and use them to invite friends or family to attend a Worship Gathering with you.[/list_item]
[list_item]Activities: Use the hobbies and events you enjoy on your own and invite someone in to that activity. Invite someone to go fishing with you, or to a sporting event, or to an antique show.[/list_item]
[list_item]Kids: If you have neighbors with kids the same age, invite them over for a playdate. Or maybe your kids have classmates whose families don’t attend church – invite them for a Saturday night dinner and game time.[/list_item]
[/list]

I could give more ideas, but basically invitation isn’t about adding something to your schedule, but rather use the things already in your schedule and invite others into that. As we are going to see this coming Sunday, Oct 23, God is calling you (if you are a Jesus-follower) to be a blessing to others.

So let’s take up Riverwood’s mission together and invite others into our lives so we can watch God do what only He can do.

Redeeming Halloween

by Erin Bird

I don’t like admitting this, but I hate Halloween.

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:
[list type=unordered extra=]
[list_item]Do I just say nothing and go with the flow of culture? (This would definitely be the easiest route.)[/list_item]
[list_item]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).[/list_item]
[list_item]Or could I somehow possibly “redeem” the day? Could I somehow come alongside the culture and bring something different?[/list_item]
[/list]

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:

[list type=ordered extra=]
[list_item]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).[/list_item]
[list_item]Use a large tarp to cover the entrance to your opened garage door. Be sure to leave an opening for people to enter.[/list_item]
[list_item]Make a sign that says, “Come on in for a 5-minute Trick or Treat party!”[/list_item]
[list_item]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.)4[/list_item]
[list_item]Have a food table with brownies, cookies, popcorn, apple cake, or whatever desserts/treats you want to serve.[/list_item]
[list_item]Prepare hot chocolate or hot apple cider to serve to cold parents and kids.[/list_item]
[list_item]Smile a lot and welcome everyone who enters![/list_item]
[/list]

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 the 30th!)

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 decide to host a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party,” send me an email. Also, if you want to officially invite kids/families to your “party,” here are some “invite cards” to which you can add your address, print off, and hand out. (Also, if you email LeAnn, she can give you the recipe to an almost-perfect-Starbucks-Hot-Apple-Cider knockoff you can serve!)

If you want to partner up with another family 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 someone else 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.

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