Season of Prayer and Meditation Entry 15

Today I am praying for those who serve humbly and significantly at epic.
Paul & Jen Gillum
Chuck & Bobbi Sierra
Brad & Lori Kane
Ryan & Sarah Reynolds
Kirk Warmerdam
Sal & Josie Lopez
Pat & Jonell Freitas
Nathan & Jennifer Shugert
Debra Dilldine
Keith & Michele Brock
John & Joy Prys
Scott & Ashley Peterson
Norm & Debbie Cooper
Jeffery Hamilton
Darin & Brandi Parson
Gary & Robin Westmoreland
Casey & Bethany Cantrell
Aaron & Tiffany Card
Calvie Clement
Marian Luis
Chris & Emily Lewis

Lord, bless their homes and multiply the time they have to invest in their marriage and family. Give them joy for their service, commitment to your mission, faithfulness to your instruction, health, provision, hope, joy, faith, love. Be all to them and suffice for their needs. Accept their quiet service as the worhip of living. How we love you God, our provider. How we love you.


Desperate News for EPIC and other Congregations

Hey all. Check out this news article, reprinted from FoxNews.com. Our congregation may be in serious trouble. I decided to just paste it so you wouldn't have to go to any other sites to follow along.

Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.
The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.

According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair" of facilities that allow "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity."

Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.

"What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.

"President Obama's version of faith-based initiatives is to remove the faith from initiative," said Staver, who believes Obama has "a completely different view on faith" from what he said during his presidential campaign.

"He is not the infallible messiah that some thought he would be," Staver said.

Civil liberty groups like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State vehemently defend the stimulus bill's provision, arguing that it in no way violates the Constitution.
"This provision upholds constitutional standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court and in no way affects student groups that meet on public school campuses," said the Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The American Civil Liberties Union also defends the constitutionality of the restriction, which they say has been the law since 1972. "It's almost a restatement of what the Constitution requires so there's nothing novel in what the House did in its restriction," said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU. "For 37 years, the law of the land is that the government can't pay for buildings that are used for religious purposes."

Not so, says the Traditional Values Coalition, which issued a statement Wednesday charging that Obama is using his stimulus plan to restrict the exercise of religion in public facilities -- a provision it says violates the right to free speech. "The economic crisis is being used as a pretext to curb religious liberty at institutions of higher learning," said Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

"We are not asking that federal funding be used to construct a church, but if a campus ministry wants to hold a Bible study or Mass in the student activity building, we should be encouraging that -- not punishing a college for permitting it," she said.

According to some constitutional law experts, any complaint filed against the provision will gain little ground in court. "Certainly the provision is treating the act of religious organizations differently from the activities of the school itself," Harvard University constitutional law professor Mark Tushnet told FOXNews.com. "It's not frivolous to say there's a constitutional problem with excluding religious facilities from these grants, but I think the way of the law is in the other direction," he said. Tushnet cited a 2004 Supreme Court case in which a Washington student lost a college scholarship awarded by the state after it was revealed that he planned to pursue a degree in pastoral ministries. Though the student argued that rescinding the money discriminated on the basis of religion, the court ruled in the state's favor -- declaring that the taxpayer-funded scholarship's restriction is constitutional.

The White House said Wednesday that it plans to keep in place the basic structure of the faith-based initiative office established by former President George W. Bush.
Administration officials said the office is a substantial programming and policy arm of the federal government, which allows federal agencies to connect with local neighborhood and faith-based groups to deliver social services.

All politics aside. I'm very sad for this to happen in America. The trend has long been turning against the practice of faith-filled Christianity in the political arena and I guess I thought I would never see it move beyond philosophy and banter. But that's not true. I knew things would get bad and I think I expected it to come in the form of taxation on Christian congregations, which would practically cripple us from operating in the expected fashion. (That might not be bad...) But I am surprised at how directly this could affect what I have been passionately committed to for nearly 5 years now: EPIC. In Hanford, we are the only congregation who can be effected by this.

It's time to pray.
Here's the link in case you think I may have not pasted it correctly.


Prayer and Meditation Entry 14

I haven't had time to enter anything on this for about a week or so. I have been anxious to do so, but have been busy and tried to moderate the tongues conversation with my blogging time. I think the tongues conversation has been very healthy for our congregation and I have appreciated the way that all have participated in a way that is both filled with conviction and open to mutual input. I think this was a terrific continuation of what happened in our worship gathering at Q a couple of weeks ago.


But I have been continuing to pray and meditate. I spent a day praying for our team that leads us in musical worship each week. I have spent a lot of time praying for this team. I have been reassured that worship is at the core of what we must do. It is what we are. We are worshippers. To be human is to be a worshipper. What else can we be in response to God if we choose to respond to Him? If we ignore Him, we can use our nature to worship in honor of other things. We can worship stuff, money, people, power, prestige, accomplishment... and on and on. But, because we are created by God and for God, our nature is to worship. For that reason, a central aspect of our identity as a church is to SEE God so clearly that we recognize His power and wonder, responding to Him with worship.

Lord, take this team of gifted people and unify them under your authority and glory. Show yourself to them so that they can be the first of all worshippers among us. Help them to lead us to You and to inspire us to respond to you with worship you deserve instead of worship we like. Oh God, help us with this team to go beyond ourselves in honor of you. Our ways are so insignificant compared to Your glory. But we stay inside ourselves and honor You with little worship... worship we like and worship that we feel comfortable with. Teach us like Isaiah to realize how unworthy our lips are to worship You... how limited we are in ourselves to honor You, how small we are in your presence. And God help us to reach beyond ourselves to offer more than little songs, more that words from unclean lips, more than tokens, more than gestures, more than moments, more than favorites... God teach what it is to worship in spirit and truth. Teach us what it is to worship you in friendship and respect. Teach us what it is to worship in word and in deed. God make us lifelong instruments of worship that play a lifetime in symphony to You.

Lord, take these servants and consecrate them by Your Spirit to fully accomplish that which you have called them to as our worship leading team.

Rhonda, Aaron, Neill, Amanda, Jeff, Sarah, Ryan, Sarah, Jordan, Brandi, Diana.
Capture them now. Never let them go. Empower them now. Never let them fade. Protect them now. Never let them falter. Inspire them now. Never let them wonder. Love them now. Never let them doubt.


Another Tongues Discussion

OK, so to just add one more dimension to this conversation let me propose this conversation.

Is there an expression of "tongues" beside the public gift of tongues? In other words, in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14, Paul talks about the necessity for an interpreter when the gift of tongues is used (obviously referring to its use in a public gathering of people with spiritual gifts) (see 1 Corinthians 14:27-28). Also, in 1 Corinthians 14:14 he calls speaking in tongues without an interpreter praying with your spirit which only edifies yourself and God. In Ephesians 6:18, Paul instructs believers to continue praying "in" the Spirit for a number of needs. Some believe that there is a spiritual gift of tongues for use in gatherings of believers and a private expression of union with the Holy Spirit expressed in a "personal prayer language" also called tongues.

What do you think?

OK, since I kind of want to let this be the last entry on this subject let me add this verse to the overall conversation and get your response.

"...my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." (1 Corinthians 14:39)

That word "eager".... hmmmm.

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