Boring testimonies are best

bricksI’m not sure who said “We celebrate boring testimonies.” I do thing we should. Really, boring testimonies are best. Why? Well, three things:

Boring testimonies focus us on God
The best testimonies are when people just share what God is teaching them. Nothing major, just little insights in the day. Or, how someone grew normal according to God’s plan. (Such testimonies are rarer and could almost be considered exceptional.) Too often a person gets in the way of God in exceptional stories. God is the hero.

Boring testimonies celebrate the normal
I think we forget how much God wants us to have a NORMAL life. Ok, us preachers tend to over play the radical and the exceptional, but let’s look at reality: God’s design was for us to live a normal life. Sin messed that up! We lost the art of enjoying the simple life. We worship excess pleasure or excess sacrifice. One of the key reasons we’re to pray for leaders and all people is so we can live “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Boring testimonies celebrate faithfulness
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23

Brick buildings are cool
People often look at old brick buildings with fondness. The key to such buildings is how they were built a brick at a time with an eye toward the cornerstone. A brick alone isn’t something to write home about. (Well, unless you’re making bricks without straw and cry out to heaven. It’s been known to happen.) But, placed together brings become a magnificent work of art.

The bottom line:
We need to celebrate the normal, the faithfulness. Greatness is built on the foundation of steady, consistent and dare I say boring faithfulness. Let’s enjoy the simple life in peace and godliness. Hand me another brick and tell me your story.

Review: ORA Provides Cutting-Edge Technology For The New Way to Pray

400620_466964240040290_1005061548_n“ORA collects, organizes, tracks, reminds, connects and securely shares prayer requests and answers with anyone you choose. ORA does this at a personal and intimate level with your friends and family through the mobile platform or ‘app’ on your smartphone. ” Stated Dusty Gulleson, ORA Chief Executive Officer.

Do we really need an application for prayer? YES!
A friend pointed me to Ora some time back and I was following it. I started out as a skeptic then quickly turned to a fan. My skepticism came from a couple of things: 1) I didn’t want another “social media” app. 2) I think my ability to adapt to new technology is slowing. Here is reality: 1) Prayer is essential to the Christian and there is no good app that fits that need that also connects you to people. 2) The reality is the smartphone replaced the day planner and with any transitions, things are are different.

“ORA” a disruptive technology to promote the oldest form of recognized religious expression in the Christian and Jewish faiths–prayer. The ORA system creates a personal mobile experience for the individual and an enterprise-quality community management platform for any organization to invite, connect, share, respond and interact with one another in intercessory prayer.

Prayer app
Ora thrilled me when I first downloaded it. I didn’t need to create another user account, I could immediately sign in via Facebook, and that’s when I became a believer. Facebook is useful for many things, but it doesn’t work well for prayer. It’s hard to concentrate on praying for things when… oh, look a cute kitten! Ora allows me to organize my prayer life in a meaningful way that is simple, intuitive and does not require a huge learning curve.

Social networks are typically inappropriate “high noise” areas that are not private enough for many sensitive postings like prayer requests. ORA offers an environment where prayer is the most important thing. ORA not only makes prayer available on your smartphone, but it makes comments, reminders and prayer partners always available too. ORA offers immediate feedback to requests, questions and comments from prayer partners and helps to track and remind the user of how prayers are answered immediately or over time. ORA helps you get a glimpse of the eternal that can be missed when we’re caught up in the stress of everyday life.

Adaptation to the 21st century
Ora is the 21st century prayer journal. What is awesome is the potential to be more real time with requests. It is good to have a visual that people are praying for you. I find that my “adaption to technology frustrations” relate to the transition culture is in. I’m nearly paper free, but Ora made me realize I never thought through how to go paper free with my prayer life. Using the app I quickly got over the ‘another app frustration’ and realized the need to make this transition.

ORA is a free download for iPhone (and is coming soon for Android). The ORA smartphone app integrates into the ORA Community system. The ORA Community system is a software as a service (SaaS) solution designed with many more management features that allows an organization to administer community-wide prayer communication and easily integrate with existing email, church management or relationship management software from leading providers. For a limited time, ORA is offering a no-cost trial of the ORA Community system for an organization. Visit the ORA website for more information: http://ora.net

Download ORA for the iPhone in the App Store! http://appstore.com/ora

Enter ORA’s Apple iPad Mini Giveaway this week! http://bit.ly/orapromo

Prayer Mentoring: Facebook

facebook_iconFor God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~Phil. 1:8-11

The super cool thing about facebook and twitter and Google+ (for the 2 people out there that use it) is prayer. Not in terms of seeing prayer requests but in terms of remembering.

Tip #1 pray through your friends
Use you “friends” list as a prayer list. Pray for you you can and pick up where you left off. Imagine what Paul’s prayer life would be like had facebook been around then? If you haven’t connect with someone in awhile or you know that they’re going through a hard time send them a private message that you’re praying for them.

Tip #2 don’t gossip
Facebook is another avenue for gossip and being a busy body. Don’t gossip. Instead, treating facebook as a reminder to pray for people you know in some way keeps a vertical perspective on our horizontal relationships.

Tip #3 pray right away
If a person puts a prayer request done pray right away and then say prayed. Often we say we’ll pray and then forget to. Pray right away. As others post it’ll remind you to pray again if God leads you too. Don’t wait. Just pray.

Tip#4 facebook isn’t real, face to face is
Nothing can replace REAL human contact. Sometimes rather than post a message, pick up the phone, talk and set a time to meet face to face. Facebook isn’t a replacement for community and praying in person. A helpful tool, yes, but not a replacement.

Remember God
A weird thing about facebook is it gives a small glimpse into the life of God. Imagine being bombarded with everything! Remember God is judge and you’re not. Said another way: God is God and you’re not. That said, if all the joys, annoyances, etc blow you mind sometimes, it’s nothing compared to what God goes through. And, he still hears and cares for us.

Remember God


DSC_0521May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD! ~Psalm 104:31-35

We forget God in the business of life. A key aspect to prayer is to take time to stop and remember who God is. Psalm 104 describes elegantly the glory of God.

Remember God
Attending The Gospel Coalition meeting we were reminded to take time to reflect in who God is. Take time to be alone with God, you really do have the time for it. And, being in Christ, you need it.

Creation and God
There is a direct link between God and creation. Psalm 104 describes the active involvement God in creation at present, not one who started things and left. In the final discussion between God and Job, God pointed to creation to answer Job’s questions. Creation reminds us of God’s presence and leads us to humility.

Spiritual discipline of silence/solitude
The best description of the silence I heard was this:

 

God on the schedule and nothing else.

 

Read Psalm 104
Open your Bible and read through Psalm 104. Reflect on the character and glory of God as you read through it. Here is what’s awesome- the Psalmist calls him ‘my God.’ The God who created and sustains creation is the same God who has a plan for your life.

Remember God
Plan times when it’s just God. Do not let the business of life crowd out God. Even if you’re busy doing ministry, church things, being with family, and helping your community, you can forget God. Business is the vaccine against relational intimacy. Take the time to remember God. After all, in Christ you’re family.

Prayer Mentoring: Jesus

IMG_3319Jesus
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. ~John 15:5-7

Jesus is key to our prayer life. Our identity, our power and our effectiveness is Jesus. Often if our prayers seem to hit the ceiling if we feel overwhelmed or if we think we’re bigger than we are, it is time to go back to basics: Jesus.

In Christ
The greatest weapon we have in the spiritual warfare of life is Jesus. Too often we think it is about us. It isn’t. It never is. When we remember who we are in Christ, ministry is tremendous, prayers powerful and God moves. Why? God acts to glorify his name.

Jesus is present
When Jesus gave the church it’s mission to make disciples of him, he promised his presence. Jesus didn’t die and raise again and then that’s it. Jesus is still involved in leading and building his church. Jesus is the boss and CEO of the church. Elders, deacons, trustees, etc work for Jesus. He rescued us and enables us to serve.

The word
Sam Wolfe in his book “Building the House of Prayer” states this: Christ in us – Presence. His word in us- Power. Jesus said If my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Living out the Word of God is key to an effective prayer life. It means being so in tune with God’s wishes that it’s a no brainer for him to act on our request.

Jesus saves, Jesus sends
Getting our focus back on Jesus isn’t just about Jesus saving us; It’s about Jesus sending us! God sent the son to reach us. Jesus sends us to reach others that belong to him. You cannot separate the mission from the savior. If our hearts are not about the mission, we’re not letting the words of Christ abide in us. Jesus saves us and then he sends us to proclaim what saved us.

In Jesus’ name
We close our prayers in Jesus name because Jesus is our great high priest who went and goes before the father on our behalf. Our fruit, success, power, effectiveness is in Jesus and the finished work on the cross. Because of Jesus we have a relationship with God, access to God and are able to effectively serve God. Abiding in Jesus is central to a great prayer life.

Looking to 2013

DSC_0695A new year is here for those who survived the Mayan Apocalypse! A new year gives the sense of a fresh start, new goals, new taxes (we’ll skip that one) and the cold briskness of winter. I hope and trust you had a good start to 2013. Other than a fresh look, I wanted to briefly share what will be new at twoznek.com. This year there is a couple new blog categories that I’ll be adding.

Word to the Wise: This is an interview category. Starting this year it will be of mentors and people who had an influence on me. The idea is to gain from other’s perspectives. It is also a way to honor those who’ve had an impact.

Proverbial Thoughts: I’ve gather some pithy sayings that I repeat often. This category will be going over these ‘proverbs’ and the story behind it.

Prayer Mentoring: This category started in 2012, but will continue in ’13. The focus of this is to help us better understand prayer. I find more and more people are actually intimidated by prayer or have a huge gilt complex over prayer. This series is to help work on our communication with God.

I look forward to seeing what God will do in 2013.

Blessings,
TWoznek

Prayer Mentoring: Endurance

DSC_0339Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. ~Psalm 69

Waiting on God is the hardest task of the Christian. In the wait you struggle with profound emotions, the pain of the situation, and sometimes unbearable anxiety. Often times we lose sight on how to even prayer. Often this isn’t a lack of being spiritual but being mentally tired. Here is how to pray for endurance!

Search the Psalms!
Search and find a Psalm that speaks to your soul. The subtitle I give to the book of Psalms is ‘Be Real.’ The Psalms are loaded with emotion, and being real with God. We think we fail spiritually when we don’t tell God the way it is. Psalms helps us get over that and gives us the freedom to truly voice what’s on our heart. Dig in and find a Psalm.

Pray it back!
Pray the Psalm you found back to God. Make it your prayer, your Psalm, your plea. When you’re exhausted from having to endure, rest on God’s Word to guide your prayer life. This isn’t vain repetition. It’s allowing the Spirit to work through you. The Bible is our greatest resource in enduring life’s challenges.

Worship
Even in being real, the Psalms often end with praise and acknowledging who God is- even when they didn’t feel that way. Part of being real is remembering that God is God and we’re not. There are challenges we wish no one to go through, and yet through such valleys there is an aspect of God’s Glory that shines through. You don’t ever wish to go through the trial again, but you can’t help but marvel at the glimpses of God’s goodness that you see. A key to praying for endurance is worship.

You’re not alone…
Too often we think that our trials are unique to us. In some ways they are. Remember, though, that facing trials is nothing new. Trials are only new to you. The Bible is full of stories of people who’ve been there. Jesus, our great high priest, has been there too. You’re not alone.

Pray for endurance
Step 1) Find a Psalm.
Step 2) Pray it back to God.
Step 3) Make the Psalm yours.
Step 4) Worship God!
Step 5) Remember you’re not alone.