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First Thoughts Blog

Category Archives: Prayer and Care Ministry

Pew Prayer Partners

We are a church that believes in prayer! If I had an opportunity to share all the answers to prayers that I have witnessed during my five and a half years here, I would need many hours to do so! God hears his children and responds in ways that he knows are best, whether the answer to a prayer request is “yes,” “no” or “not yet” (See Matthew 7: 7, John 15: 7-8, and 1 John 5: 14-15).
Your Teaching Elders (pastors) and Ruling Elders, as well as our Prayer Partners, intercede on your behalf for what we receive from you via your completed prayer cards on Sundays, as well as emails and calls that come in each day of each week. Our Prayer Room by the Sanctuary building elevator is staffed with pastors/elders and others following the 9 am service. On Fridays, our weekly Prayer Sheet is emailed to hundreds of intercessors and can also be found in printed form in the Connection Center. Now we have yet another way to pray!
Previously delayed by COVID, I’m excited to announce that we will add a team of “Pew Prayer Partners” to what we are already doing in the realm of prayer ministry! They will be available near the front and back of the Sanctuary following each service beginning Sunday, February 13, including two following the Dunham Chapel service. They will be wearing tags that ask, “How Can I PRAY for you?” If you feel more comfortable asking someone to quietly pray by your side rather than sharing your request in the Prayer Room before a group of people, look for a Pew Prayer Partner. He or she will gladly sit with you to lift up any requests for you. Here’s to God who said, “Ask and you shall receive!”

Compelling Compassion

What motivates us to share our faith in Jesus Christ, both locally and globally, at a time during which “religious pluralism“ and “social relativism” are the norm in our society? What was it that made Jesus’ message a message of “good news” at a time when certain others viewed it as anything but good? After all, the beliefs that there were many roads that led to God, and that all truth is relative, were “alive and well” during the first century AD (see John 4: 19-24, John 18: 38), as it is in the twenty-first century. This is what makes Jesus’ message, “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . ” (John 14: 6) so counter-cultural. Scripture tells us over and over again that Jesus is the One and Only way to eternal life (Romans 6: 23).
What difference does this make? All the difference in the world. Without Jesus, we are like sheep without a shepherd, harassed and helpless, seeing and yet blind, hearing and yet deaf, misleading and misled, wandering aimlessly through life with no true meaning, purpose or direction. What a sad predicament. This is why Jesus had compassion on the crowds (Matthew 9: 36). He knew that regardless of what they thought was the way, HE is the way not only to a meaningful, purposeful, abundant life (John 10: 10) but also an eternal one (John 3: 16).  
Jesus could have told the crowds what they wanted to hear. But he loved them, and us, too much to do so. He could not lie, because he not only knows the truth but he is the truth (John 18: 37). 
Lost people matter to God. He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3: 9).  And that is why we are called not to coerce others into faith in Christ, but to pray for them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If we are motivated by compassion for others, as Jesus had compassion for us, we will pray for them, spending even more time talking to God about them than talking to them about God. “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus . . . ” (1 Timothy 2: 3-5).
What keeps you from sharing your faith with others? What motivates you to share it? Are you more concerned with proving yourself “right” and others “wrong” when it comes to objective truth, or are you more concerned for the emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of God’s lost sheep who have not yet been found? Are you more focused on being correct than being compassionate?
Sometimes a person needs to go through a crisis before they notice the compassion that compels them to trust in Christ. That is why I love leading our Good Grief Seminars (our next one takes place on November 9) and overseeing the many new ministries through which the Lord has allowed us to serve him through having compassion on others. These are listed on our church website,, under Care Ministries and Prayer Ministries. Please check them out and consider where your role may be. After all, our most effective ministry to others often stems from our deepest wounds (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).