BY RAEGAN LACAVA
Raegan LaCava shares about her life-changing experience at International Justice Mission’s Global Prayer Gathering in 2013. The next Global Prayer Gathering will be April 3-6, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
“Prayer: It’s just us talking to God about what we’re doing together.” – Dallas Willard
Gary Haugen, President and CEO of International Justice Mission (I.J.M.) explained that the Global Prayer Gathering (G.P.G.) is simply a meeting of family, all concerned about issues of justice; removing distractions to spend time together talking to God about what we are doing together.
Last year I was blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this gathering and can truly say that it was a life changing weekend for me. I left I.J.M.’s Global Prayer Gathering feeling a deeper urgency to champion causes of justice at home AND abroad. I also felt as if I’d been finally shown the box cover to a puzzle I’d been trying to put together blindly before.
What I gained was a clearer, big picture perspective into the issues of injustice and what it will take if the church intends to overcome the injustices plaguing our world. As the weekend continued, I was profoundly impacted in the midst of all the things there are “to do” and that need to “be done” to combat injustice. Yet, as humans we are so incapable and inadequate to do ANYTHING, anything without the total and complete reliance on God.
The theme for this weekend of prayer was prefaced by pointing back to the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk lived in a time of great injustice, just as we do today. He grieved deeply over the issues of his time and longed for justice to prevail.
Bethany Hoang, the opening speaker shared her insights on what Habakkuk did to address these issues of injustice. Habakkuk did 3 key things: he lamented, he stationed, and he rejoiced in his conversation with God.
Habakkuk’s first action step to combat the injustice of his time was to lament and cry out to God about the issues in his world he could not change. It was not okay with Habakkuk that God was allowing these things to happen so he boldly addressed God with this problem. Once he had laid his complaints at the feet of God, he stationed himself and refused to have his attention moved from his request. In a way, he demanded God’s attention, proved that he was serious about seeking justice. Lastly, Habakkuk rejoiced. He rejoiced not in what God had already done but what he was confident God would do, he trusted.
Those three elements sum up the rest of the activity of the weekend. Corporately thousands at the gathering lamented out to God about the injustices of our time, next we stationed ourselves in a weekend communicating with God about this request, and lastly we rejoiced not that all things have been made right already, but that we trust God that justice WILL prevail.
This April 3-6, there will be another opportunity to participate in the I.J.M. Global Prayer Gathering in Washington D.C. I would encourage those passionate about seeking justice and learning more about how to connect with the efforts of I.J.M. to attend.
To find out how to participate in the Global Prayer Gathering 2014, you can learn more at http://www.ijm.org/content/gpg-2014 or contact Raegan.LaCava@northviewchurch.us for logistical and reservation advice. Northview does have a few available rooms reserved at a discounted price. The I.J.M. GPG will also be available via Livestream.
Check out the I.J.M. Global Prayer Gathering 2013 online http://gpgonline.ijm.org/
BY MATT BAYS
Just like any other business, the mission of a multi-million dollar company like Victoria’s Secret is to make more money. But I imagine the people who run Victoria’s Secret hire young interns and say to them, “We are all about providing quality undergarments at competitive prices.” And I’m sure the interns recheck the letter head to make sure they’re not applying at the Playtex: Cross Your Heart Bra franchise.
Quality undergarments? That’s the goal? Because their advertising would suggest a different mission.
I have been doing this “front man” worship leader thing for the past twenty years and I’ll be honest, when I was twenty three I would imagine myself on a very large stage with the pulsing beat of a God-song in the air along with fist pumping teens, single mothers, business men, blacks, whites, believers and unbelievers worshipping full throttle, eye closed, hands raised…and ME leading them. Eventually I’d snap out of my daydream and get back to the reality of my 350 member church, our teenage bass player, 55 year old drummer, and 95 year old piano player.
Today I lead worship with fog, HD screens, video venues, screaming guitar solos and (wait for it)…fist pumping. YES! I’ve made it. Over 5,000 people come through our three campuses each weekend and guess who one of their front men is? Me. But just as the CEO of Victoria’s Secret has left consumers thinking the mission is really about sex and not quality undergarments, I fear I may have done the same, leading people to believe the package we use for worship is the mission, when it isn’t.
During the worship portions of our weekend services I have often been misguided in my desire to see every person with their loving gaze on God – singing with their hands in the air and really “entering into worship.” And when the hands have been raised, I’ve thought, Yes!…this is the goal. This is what we’re after. But it’s not the goal.
Emotion for God does not equal devotion to God.
You already know where I’m going with this. Emotion is not bad, but it can’t be all that we bring…blah, blah, blah. But the devotion part is what kicks us in the teeth every time. Because devotion asks this question, “What sacrifice did you bring?” Uh oh…the hands slide back down, our eyes aren’t closed quite so tightly, and we’re singing a little bit softer now, a little bit softer now.
It is no more believable when a Victoria’s Secret “Angel” is interviewed about the million dollar bra and says, “It provides such great support for the girls” than it is when we stick our hands in the air during worship but offer nothing of significance.
God doesn’t want our lacy panties, our guitar solos, our fog and lights, videos, shorty robes trimmed out in feathers, slick announcements, or sweet smelling sachets to keep things fresh. He wants what is in our hearts…the better angels of our nature that we so easily bring to him in worship and the demons we’ve been wrestling for years.
Maybe worship should be a little less passionate and a little more pragmatic…like attending a 12-step meeting and learning how to quit porn, or receiving the counsel of a professional so that we can finally honor our wedding vows by learning how to cherish our spouse. Maybe worship isn’t singing a song but confessing an addiction.
This isn’t the most popular thing I’ll ever write that’s for sure. And some may even see it as dismissive of worship services, but it’s certainly not meant to be. I just know it’s rude to show up for a party without a gift. And if we continue to believe that our gift is a song…well, would you be impressed? I wouldn’t. I promise you, the host is expecting more.
The only real definition of worship we have to go by in scripture is Romans 12:1, which says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Nothing about music, raised hands, or closed eyes in that verse. Point blank, our lives given as a sacrifice is TRUE worship.
The best worship service I’ve ever been to was in my car on the way home from a counseling appointment. There was zero fist pumping. Instead, just as King David did over and over in the book of Psalms, I told God I couldn’t stand how I felt inside. I told him I was so angry and disappointed with my Made-for-TV-Movie childhood. I told him I was tired of doing the same things over and over to ease the pain, and that I couldn’t stop doing those things on my own. That’s what I brought to him. It wasn’t fog, it wasn’t a song, and it wasn’t exciting. It wasn’t even positive, but it was real.
And when I felt him say, “I’m going to help you with that,” and began to see the evidence of his help, my response was worship. Quiet and small…and grateful.
Not for a minute do I think that on a Sunday, with thousands of people in front of me, and with the fog and lights behind me, that something more powerful is happening than what was happening in my car when God whispered, “It’s going to be okay. I have what you need. Let’s figure this out together.”
I’ve always pictured Jesus sitting on a throne during worship, taking in the praise with his eyes shut. But I wonder if instead, his sleeves are rolled up and he’s ready to go to work. Maybe he’s waiting on us to stop affirming who he is, and instead trust in what he can defeat, which is death – his own, and ours.
If worship is only songs, guitars, organs, choirs, tears, hands raised and eyes tightly closed, then I have to be honest…I don’t have much to offer. But if it’s presenting myself as I am – if it’s being willing to sacrifice my demons – if it’s bringing something that’s broken before God that I can’t seem to put back together on my own…then believe me, I’ve got all the worship in me that I’ll ever need.
If you like Matt’s thoughts, check out his blog at: www.mattbayswriter.com
Leave us a comment! What comes to mind when you see this picture?
BY BRENDA ROTH
We are currently in the middle of a nine-week series at Northview Church about The Fruit of the Spirit entitled, “The 9.” We are learning that the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, but the Spirit has nine attributes – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
This week was Kindness’ turn in the spotlight. I started out writing a column on appreciation, but it has since evolved into a column on kindness.
I’m a volunteer for GraceWorks here at Northview. For those of you that don’t know, GraceWorks is a ministry devoted to serving special needs kids. Every fourth Friday of the month, we have Friday Fun Night. This is an opportunity for parents of special needs children to drop off the kids (both special needs and their siblings), have date night, take a nap or run errands free of children. It has been a success at every level, and I have loved serving. The kids have a great time eating pizza, playing, doing crafts and watching a movie. The volunteers have a great time loving on the kids.
This month we ran short on volunteers, so I reached out to my friends and family to ask for their assistance. My family stepped up in a big way. My mother, two of my sisters and my nephew agreed to help out. And, they don’t even attend Northview.
This is kindness at its best. Kindness on the part of the church to recognize this is a much needed ministry. Kindness on the part of the staff to devote their life’s work to this ministry. Kindness on the part of the volunteers to give up their time to help out.
I’m single and I live alone with my best bud, Maggie. She’s a feisty, chunky, 11 year-old brindle cat. About a week and a half ago, Mags started acting like she wasn’t feeling well. She has progressively gotten worse. This week I took her to the vet. Tests won’t be back until next week, but the vet is concerned and gives me the name of her preferred 24-hour emergency clinic… just in case. Maggie is very weak, and I know it’s serious.
I’m devoted to GraceWorks Friday Fun Night, but I’m also devoted to Maggie. I called Amanda (GraceWorks guru and one of my personal heroes) to let her know that I would be there, but I would be leaving early to check on Maggie as I didn’t want to leave her alone for too long. Amanda was very understanding. I felt bad about leaving early as I knew Amanda needed the help, and I had recruited four of my family members to serve for the first time. But, I did leave to go home and be with Maggie. I’m glad I did.
I was sitting on the sofa, and Maggie was lying on the floor. I started singing softly to her. “I love you Maggie… Oh yes, I do… I love you Maggie… And I’ll be true… When you’re not with me, I’m blue… Oh Maggie, I love you.” Her tail started moving. I kept singing. She raised her head and looked at me. I kept singing. She hobbled over to me and started rubbing against my leg. I pet her and kept singing. She managed to jump on the sofa and lie next to me.
I continued petting her and singing. She started to purr and eventually fell asleep.
It was after ten by this time, and I wanted to know how the evening evolved at Friday Fun Night. I considered calling Amanda, but I knew she would be exhausted, so I called Mom. I was assured all went well, and then she asked about Maggie. I’m paraphrasing, but this is the gist of the conversation that ensued.
ME: She’s ok, but still not doing very well.
MOM: I’m afraid this may be the end for Maggie, Brenda.
ME: I’m not going to go there until I get the test results. But, why is it, Mom, that you don’t truly appreciate something until you’re in danger of losing it? I think I’m pretty good about being grateful, living in the moment and appreciating the good in my life. But, why is it that when you think you’re going to lose something precious that your sensitivity is heightened? I’ve always loved Maggie and appreciated her. But, why now is her fur softer? Why is her purr sweeter?
MOM: I heard a quote once that said something like, “The highs of life are wonderful, but you can’t live there.” Living there isn’t every day life. Some people try to live there – through drugs or whatever – but that isn’t real.
ME: Why can’t we live there? Why can’t we appreciate what we have with that depth of feeling and heightened sensitivity every day? Why does it take facing losing it to feel that way?
MOM: I don’t know, honey.
Maybe we can’t live every day on the mountaintop, but I think if we could live with appreciation for our blessings, however small, kindness would come more easily. We would be kind, because we would appreciate.
I was leaving the service Sunday morning and spoke with Amanda briefly. She said to me, “Have a good week. Go out and be kind to someone.” I replied, “You know, there is someone at work I don’t get along with, and she was on my heart when Pastor Steve talked about being kind regardless.” She said, “Oh yeah. That’s God tapping you on the shoulder.”
My aunt has a quote attached with every email she sends. “Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.” It’s so true. You will never regret being kind to someone, but a very good probability that you will regret not being kind.
It so easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. It’s such a struggle to be kind to those who are not. But, that is what should set us apart and what we are called to do as Christians. I think, perhaps, if we took the time to appreciate our own blessings and realize that others are unkind because they don’t, it may help a bit. Kindness is, after all, not an act, but a way of life. I will try to keep this at the forefront of my thoughts and challenge you to do the same.
The Tuesday Spiritual Column is entirely the opinion of this week’s writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Northview Church as a whole.
BY JILL TUCKER
Bode, my son, wants to talk to everyone he sees and that makes me nervous sometimes. By talk I mean share highly intimate information with them. It’s beyond a simple hello and instead a story of where his step-sisters live and why they live there. It’s details about when we will be leaving for vacation and how long we will be gone. It’s what Daddy said that made Mommy angry and then what Mommy said in return.
He learned this compulsion to talk to strangers from his mama. I am guilty of sharing too much information (TMI). Maybe Bode will grow out of this need to talk to everyone. Maybe he won’t. Some people don’t, you know.
Take, for example, the fellow behind me at the stop light yesterday. He looked unkempt in a serial-killer kind of way. The man, we’ll call him Bruce, got out of his car and walked up to my car and knocked on my window to ask me about my 13.1 and 26.2 bumper stickers. More odd is that I rolled down my window and answered him. Haven’t I watched Dateline NBC? Haven’t I read murder mysteries? This is how it starts, Jill. This. Right here–engaging in conversation with strangers when your gut says it might not be a good idea. I lead a risky life.
“Oh!” Bruce said. “Well that makes sense! I have been slap-drunk confused about those stickers for a long time.”
“Oka-a-ay,” I said and rolled up my window. At least I did that part right.
I will talk to anyone at any time, which my husband loves about me. It also petrifies him. To protect myself, over the years he has helped me to set stranger-danger boundaries, which I will eventually share with Bode.
1. When you are alone, don’t talk to a stranger in an alley at night. Just keep on walking. It can wait until you see him or her in the daylight on a busy street.
2. When you are with one other person, don’t talk to a stranger in an alley at night. Or with two other people. And so on.
3. If you would stay out of alleys at night, we wouldn’t have to write you these lists.
I don’t want to live in fear of strangers, though. True, some are up to no good. Yes, some want to hurt our children. One even hurt me a little bit one time. But there are thousands out there who just want to chat about the weather for a minute or ask where you got your shoes.
I believe, as you probably do too, that the moral fibers of our world are fraying(like jeans) to the point of having large ugly holes in them. If we all talk to strangers a little more, live as God probably wants us to, things might get a little better. If you say hello to me and chat it up for a few, it might make my day better. I might understand “your kind” a little more and I might think twice about robbing you.
Here is a challenge, wonderful readers: Talk to one stranger this week to share God’s love with them through a simple conversation. You might be surprised how it will bless your life just as much as their own.
The Friday Spiritual Column is entirely the opinion of this week’s writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Northview Church as a whole.
Enjoy eating like Knights of the Roundtable at The Father-Son Man Event on Saturday, March 8, at Northview’s Carmel campus.
The Father-Son Man Event is for 5th and 6th grade boys and their fathers or father figures. To register, click here.
Meanwhile…enjoy photos of last year’s event!