Do we seek programs or power?
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Programs, Power & Prayer


One of the greatest hindrances to prayer is busy-ness, “doing for God”, church work, working the programs.  We love programs. Communities, schools, churches all have programs for everyone and everything: children’s programs, youth programs, senior programs, single’s programs, young married’s programs, men’s programs, women’s programs, and a plethora of activity programs such as food, weight loss, social, entertainment, music, dance, drama, sports, crafts and on and on.  There isn't anything necessarily wrong with programs, but they can be distractions.  Even Bible study programs can take the place of fellowship with our Father.  

This is nothing new.  Jesus had programs even back in His days on earth and his followers were distracted by these too.  Remember Martha’s ‘hospitality’ program in Luke 10:38-42?  Martha welcomed Jesus into her home but then wanted to impress Him with her program and busy-ness.  She wanted it perfect for Jesus and she wanted her sister’s help.  But Jesus shut her down, He would have none of it.  Mary undoubtedly knew her sister but preferred to neglect the duties to adore Jesus, to listen and learn from Him.  And Jesus commended Mary for her devotion.  Jesus loved them both, but Mary got His favor.

There are other examples, but the most compelling example is again with Mary.  Mary’s sister Martha is again serving at a banquet, working her hospitality program.  Mary pours an expensive perfume over Jesus, making quite a scene and inundating the whole house with the powerful fragrance.  She is without shame, abandoning all concern for her image, family name or position in the community.  Judas, the disciples and other people all criticized this use of resources, preferring the money and effort had been put towards a welfare feeding program for the poor.  This time, Jesus’ response is even more impassioned.  He not only commends Mary, He dismisses the program for the poor as something that can be pursued anytime; He elevates her act as one of greater import.  Then He proclaims that everywhere the gospel is preached, this act of unabashed adoration will be told in connection.  Why? If her act was only urgent in relation to preparing His body for burial, why would it have enduring significance?

Jesus stated “The poor you will always have with you,” to counter the popular consensus in favor of the poor program. Like the disciples and the crowd, we often behave as though Jesus is the one that will always be available, deferring our personal attentions to Him, preferring to busy ourselves with activities and programs.  Jesus said that Mary made the right choice; her reward would not be taken away from her.  Mary had the perspective that the praying believer today needs: time with Jesus is the first priority, the “good thing, the only thing worth being concerned about.”

Mary had recognized who she was in relationship to who He is.  She was humbled by the prophesied Messiah’s deep, personal love for her family even though He knew all of their flaws. Mary perceived that Jesus alone was worth wasting herself on: wasting her time, wasting her money, wasting her reputation, wasting her effort, and wasting her devotion on a momentary act of seemingly temporary duration and impact. 

This is the ideal state of the child of God in prayer.  This is the condition of the heart proven to be good soil, where the seed of the gospel can flourish. It is also the posture of the heart in which the Holy Spirit can be active and powerful. Each life in which the Holy Spirit comes powerfully starts with a broken and contrite heart.
"Few believers realize the walk with God that their Father has prepared for them.  And fewer are willing to discuss what the cause of the failure might be.  We must acknowledge that the Holy Spirit, through whose divine omnipotence this inner revelation comes, is not fully realized in the church—the body of Christ—as He should be.  In our preaching and in our practice He does not hold the place of prominence He has in God’s plan.  While our belief in the Holy Spirit may be orthodox and scriptural, His presence and power in the life of believers, in the ministry of the Word, in the witness of the church to the world, in not what the Word promises or God’s plan requires. . . . We have no lack of theology in every possible form.  But it seems that with all our writing and preaching and work, there is still something lacking.  Is it not the power from on high?  Could it be that with all our love for Christ and labor for His cause we have not made the chief object of our desire that which was the chief object of His heart when He ascended to the throne?  It was to clothe His disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit—that knowing again the presence of their Lord, they might become powerful witnesses of Him."  (Andrew Murray, 1828-1917.) 
Let’s make the same choice Mary made and put aside the distractions, many cares and programs.  Let’s choose to waste ourselves in fellowship and adoration of our Father, embracing the indwelling presence of Jesus’ Holy Spirit.  Make Him the first and only priority; don’t put Him on the back burner. Then, like Mary, the gospel message will be forever connected to us in a powerful way as well.

Murray, Andrew. Bethany House, 2006. The Indwelling Spirit: The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Believer
The Purity Driven Life is a "must read" for every man, men's group, men's ministry leader and youth leader.  Josh McDowell, prominent apologist and author of best-selling books such as The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, says, “Porn is probably the greatest threat to the church in its existence.”  90-96% of people aged 13-24 are neutral, accepting or encouraging of pornography.  Some surveys report as many as 50% of all pastors use porn. Isn't it time to declare war on this destructive addiction?

Christians were the most persecuted group last year with 1 Christian killed for their faith every 6 minutes in 2016full story

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• Christians persecuted around the world       •  Our leaders
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