Tuesday, December 05, 2006

God called me to Him when I was 9. I felt alone. I was hurting. From my childlike perspective, I had lost more than I could bear. My family had moved twice in a little over a year, each time to help care for one of my parents' dads. My mom's dad, Grandpa Sharp, became my best friend, and then died of prostate cancer and then we moved 1000 miles away to a tiny duplex with nothing because of financial problems. My mom went to work for the first time. My dad worked all the time. At the age of 8 I was in a new place and was given a key to our home because when I was finished with school no one else would be home. It frankly shaped much of the rest of my life, but, praise be to God, it also was part of what helped me see that I needed Him desperately.

For whatever reason, the churches I ended up at were Southern Baptist. My parents didn't take me or make me go to church, but once God called me to Him, I desired to go. So, to this day, I have been a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I'm glad for the denomination. It teaches sound doctrine and tries to teach people how to study God's word. But I really have no particular affinity for it.

I really am just a Christian, better yet a Jesus follower. Am I showing disrespect to the SBC because I say this? No, not at all. I just don't think any creation of man exceeds the creation of God. God didn't create the SBC; God created the church. And, God has a purpose for the church and our hearts should be united with Him in seeing the church's purpose fulfilled. I desire greatly for healing and power in the SBC, and most imporantly, in all the Body of Christ.

God built his church on the rock of Christ and the church is called to submit to Christ. Christ calls us to surrender completely. We must die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him with all our hearts, soul and strength.

I am praying for the SBC. I am praying for the gathering of SBC pastors in Dallas tomorrow, December 5, 2006. I wish I could attend, but I am still here serving at the University of the Nations. I pray you will pray for them, too, whether you are a member of, or ever have been a member of, an SBC church or not. You see, we are called to pray for one another. And, we are urged, in view of God's mercy, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. It is our spiritual act of worship. (So, even if we have been wounded by someone who was southern baptist, or have particular concerns about some SBCers attitudes, we must pray for them and lay down those selfish concerns because it is not consistent with God's love or plan that we should hold any grudge against anyone in the Body of Christ.) We must not conform any longer to the patter nof this world, but must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we will be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will. Moreover, we are not to think more highly of ourselves that we ought, but rather we must think of ourselves with sober judgment, in accordance wi th the measure of faith God has given us. AND HERE'S THE KICKER: Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:1-5.

Did you catch that? We belong to one another. We are commanded to submit to one another in love. We are to be like Jesus. Why aren't we????? What spirit is winning the war against the Body of Christ to keep its members warring against one another rather than taking the battle against Satan and the powers of this world to see the message of Jesus and His love proclaimed from every rooftop?

I believe that most of those gathering in Dallas tomorrow are fully desirous of unity among their Christian brothers and sisters. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1. And they also desire that the gospel of Jesus be proclaimed to all the earth. So, here is my prayer for them, for all who send them, and for all in the Body of Christ:

Lord, forgive me of my infatuation with myself. Rather than submitting to others in love, I all too often seek my own way. Rather than living the life of love, I boast, I am unkind, I am hopeless, I am angry, I am self-seeking, I am unloving. Lord, fill me with Your spirit. Give me a faith immeasurable. Let every word I speak be straight from your Spirit and consistent with your heart and perfect will.

I pray that the SBC pastors meeting tomorrow will be there living a life worthy of the calling they have received; that they will be completely humble and gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love. I pray they will make every effort to kep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. I pray that they will be filled with the Spirit and that there spiritual gifts will guide them, to prepare them for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up and that they may be leaders who will help the body reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming mature and attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

I pray they will be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, and all who cannot attend, just as in Christ God forgave each of us. May they be imitators of You, living a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. If there are any who are struggling with immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, I pray that you will either prevent that one from attending or, even more graciously, enable them to repent of it publicly while gathered with those there, that they may lovingly pray for that one and help restore them to a true walk of faith, filled with the Spirit and overflowing with His gifts. Let nothing be present that will quench Your Holy Spirit from filling each of them and the place in which they gather. Shake them to their cores with Your purpose, call, and love.

Oh God, please fulfill Christ's holy prayer that we would be unified together in You. Let the world have no choice but to see Your love in us, Your power in us, Your truth in us. Let gatherings like the one that is taking place tomorrow be just the start, the spark, of repentance and revival that will flood throughout America and the world, by your Holy Spirit, so that many will come to know You in Christ. Give us a heart to reach people all over the world with the message of Christ. Give us lives that make it impossible not to share with others the joy and power found in Christ. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for saving us. May we hold back nothing from You. May we, and they, be changed through your amazing grace. In the name of Jesus, the One who Saves, I pray, AMEN!


Dorcas Hawker said...

Bryan -

I'm not at the meeting, but this post encouraged me today nonetheless.

If you want to catch the meeting live, go over to John Stickley's blog for the link. I don't know if it is just going to be audio or audio and video.

John Stickley said...

AMEN, Bryan.

Lee said...

Great post. I think we all need to be reminded every now and then that being in Christ should pull us together, not push us apart. If I want to get closer to Him, then I'll have to get closer to you. That's the way it works.

Bryan Riley said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. Yes, Lee, we don't realize how God can use our differences to bring glory to Him as He draws us all together in Him. Sigh.