I spent a half day Monday and a half day Tuesday at a Pastor's Prayer Summit at Camp Pine Cove this week.  Here's what I came away with...

1.  There are 5,000 churches in the Greater Houston area.  Every pastor from every church was invited.  285 came.  Pastor's praying with other pastors for our city is not a big priority.

2.  I met Korean pastors, Nigerian pastors, Vietnamese pastors, Japanese pastors, hispanic pastors, black pastors, urban pastors, suburban pastors, pastors that I had no idea where they came from.  Houston is the most ethnically diverse city in America.  So are it's pastors and churches.

3.  When everyone in the room is seriously worshipping God with every ounce of their being, the Holy Spirit shows up.  It's really not about how good the music is or the song selection.  When people don't care if they like the songs or not and only care about worshipping God through whatever is sung, something big happens.

4.  When God's Spirit comes, everything changes.  What does that mean?  I'm not sure, but the atmosphere of the room is totally transformed.  There is a powerful presence there.  You have no doubt that you are in the presence of a Holy God.

5.  Like the majority of the pastors, I didn't want to go.  I was way too busy.  Only difference is, I went anyway.  My bad attitude was quickly turned 180 degrees.  God likes obedience, even with a bad attitude.  Because, once He gets you where He wants you He can do what He wants to.

6.  When I'm in the presence of God with others singing and powerfully praying, God lets me see things from His perspective...through His eyes.  His view is VERY DIFFERENT from mine.

7.  I think church with a little "c".  God thinks Church with a big "C".

8.  When I think about church right now, I think about how we are growing and people are serving and giving and lives are being changed and we're building a building and times are good.

9.  Jesus prayed that his Church would be one.  He sees a "bride" in pieces.  One who is run by shepherds that don't like each other, don't trust each other, don't pray together, don't root for each other, and oftentimes, see one another as the competition.  Jesus weeps.

10.  I spent most of my time weeping those 2 days.  I hadn't wept in a long time.  At first, I was embarrassed.  Then, it felt good to feel the tears running down my cheeks and dripping off.  I saw the Church (big "C") through the eyes of Jesus.  It breaks his heart.  It finally broke mine too.

11.  I realized Jesus didn't pay the ultimate price to grow my church, but to save a city.  That requires our churches to become His Church.

12.  One more take away: "God doesn't answer prayers.  God answers desperate prayers."  Leonard Ravenhill



Everyone deals with change...and everyone deals with change differently.  Even those of us who claim to like change recognize that it is difficult and stressful.  Recently, I read through the 2nd chapter of Acts.  Talk about CHANGE!  This little rag-tag group of Jesus-followers suddenly at Pentecost and immediately after were faced with massive change and the choice of how to deal with it...or not to deal with it.

Just like there are Stages of Grief we go through, I believe there are Stages of Change we go through as well.  Maybe not as obvious or recognized, but still very real.  I thought it might be helpful to identify them and call them what they are.

STAGE 1:  REALIZATION...that the STATUS QUO is no longer a viable option.  Business as usual, whether in marriage or family or business or one's spiritual life is being challenged and "the way things were" is no longer acceptable.  We need change.

STAGE 2:  RECOGNITION...that change is DESIRABLE, but that change is also CHALLENGING, STRESSFUL & INCONVENIENT.  It's easy to REALIZE that we're in debt up to our eyeballs and that's a really bad thing and needs to be changed.  However, once we RECOGNIZE that changing it means less meals out, getting an allowance and living off a budget, suddenly we are conflicted between the DESIRE to change and the PAIN of change.

STAGE 3:  RATIONALIZATION...that we can CHANGE without CHANGING.  Huh?  Surely we can go from a two-income family to a one-income family without making any real, significant changes, right?  In other words, we can CHANGE without CHANGING.  We can fool the system.  We can change without any pain.  Change by definition is painful.  Whether its the birth of a child or the death of a spouse.  Whether its a marriage or a divorce.  It's CHANCE.  And by nature, it's CHALLENGING, STRESSFUL & INCONVENIENT.

STAGE 4:  COMPREHENSION...that CHANGE without CHANGE is contraindicated.  Let's frame it another way...PROGRESS without CHANGE is incompatible.  GROWTH without CHANGE is impossible.  We finally bring it down to earth, admit the thing we least want to admit...that growth in any area of life is impossible without something CHANGING on our part.  We realize we want the growth, (personal, familial, corporate, etc.) without changing anything, but that that's just not possible.  We want one without the other.  We face the reality of COMPETING VALUES.  Two things that we have come to value highly are at odds with one another.  We value the convenience of the familiar.  But, we also value the growth that only change can bring.  We're deadlocked.  But, not forever.

STAGE 5:  CHOICE...we choose BOTH or NEITHER.  AND, those are the only two choices.  As much as we hate it, it's all or nothing.  We either choose GROWTH & CHANGE...or we choose NEITHER.  Picking one is not an option.  So, as a result, we find out what we truly value more (even though we thought we valued both evenly).  Truth is, we can't.  We will either choose GROWTH and the inconvenience that CHANGE brings with it.  Or, we choose neither...we reject the stress of CHANGE and therefore, we reject the GROWTH that would have come with it.  Why do you think so many of us live with the stagnation of second-rate marriages, the health effects of obesity, the pressures of mountains of debt, etc.?  Because, as much as we would love to escape the pain of our situation, the fear of change is bigger and badder than our desire for any real, lasting change, and has been allowed to control our lives.  So, what do we say?  "I"m just afraid of change"?  Of course not.  We say, "Oh well, I guess there's nothing I can do about it.  Sigh."

What are you choosing?  The fear of change and the acceptance of less than God's best?  Or have you grabbed ahold of change with both fists and determined to settle for nothing less than God's best in every area of your life, no matter what the cost?  I hope you're the kind of person that will put up with all the pain of change to lay hold of the growth that it brings.  GO FOR IT!