Saturday, September 1, 2012

iWork Out

iPray eVotionals
September 2012
The gun sounds as the race begins. iPray eVotionals exhorts the runners on the path of a prayerful lifestyle.  It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn.  It's for the runner who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.  

iWork Out!
(Approximate reading time: 11 Minutes) 

iWork Out... As a Soccer Mom

This month I am taking the term "soccer mom" to a whole new level.  I have signed up to be an assistant coach for my daughter's U10 soccer team.  I have gone through the training, so my brain has absorbed the know-how to keep our team players strong in spirit, in practice and in the game.  It's time to take this know-how and work it out on the field.

As we head into our 5th week of practices, I have found that adding this new two-day work out has challenged some underdeveloped muscles of mine.  Running and kicking a ball with coordination, passing and relying on other team members while keeping game smart is quite a work out.  The training is what saves me from letting exhaustion win.  My brain, with all it's know-how, keeps me on track and moving forward during practice... not giving my body a chance to complain or an opportunity to give up.  If I'm moving with purpose then the girls are moving forward with purpose as well.  The drills keep their minds in the game, with little time to complain about how hard some of the skills are to master.

Phew, ends up that playing on the field with a team is an extremely different work out then my brisk morning walks.

I'm now a true Soccer Mom!

iWork Out... With Team Spirit

I love how our bodies are a constant reminder of how God has designed our communication to be, with him and with each other.  The human body is a living organism. Each cell in the body is living. A store-front mannequin looks human but has no life. You, on the other hand, are a living person.  At the center of your nervous system your brain controls all conscious actions, like your thoughts, feelings and memories.  It controls all automatic actions like your heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing.  The brain governs 'optimum function' of all the body's systems, constantly sending out and receiving messages.  The head gives the orders, the body responds.  As long as the neurology (brain) is communicating appropriately with the physiology (body), we should be operating at 'optimum function'.

The same thing is true with the "body" of Christ.  Together we are not just an organization, but we are a living organism.  We work together with Coach Jesus as the head, constantly sending out His Spirit with messages for all the body parts so together we can operate at 'optimun function'.  This is the oneness we have as being part of the "body" of Christ.

Ephesians 1:22-23 puts it this way, 
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."

Every member of the body has life.  1 John 5:12 states, 
"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Every member of the body has the Holy Spirit within them.  Romans 8:9 puts it like this, 
"You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ."   

1st Corinthians 6:19 asks us, 
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own."

The "neurological signals" of God's Spirit keeps appropriate communication open between the head and the body.  Romans 8:26 says, 
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Romans 15:5-6 encourages team spirit, 
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 1:10 does too, 
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Now that's true Team Spirit!

iWork Out... With Team Prayers

The practical working out of this oneness we have in Christ is referred to in the Bible as coming together with one accord.  The disciples came together as players on the same team in this way.

First, there was the promise that God would give all the prayers Team Spirit for the "big game."  Coach Jesus had completed his work on earth and was about to ascend into the heavens when he had gathered up His team prayers and gave them His Coach's talk...

Acts 1:8, 
"But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth"

Coach Jesus ascended and the team prayers came together...
Acts 1:12-15, 
"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.  And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers....altogether the number of names was about one hundred and twenty..."

The team prayers got ready for their first game...
Acts 2:1, 
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place..." 

That upper-room remnant was a praying remnant for team prayers! They were engaged in continual "prayer and supplication" during their ten days together.  In addition to the account of the remnant in the upper-room, we are also told that after three thousand were added to their number on the Day of Pentecost, The "big game", they were "continuing daily with one accord" (Acts 2:46). When persecution began, "they lifted up their voice to God with one accord" (4:24). The apostles, through whose hands God performed "many signs and wonders...continued with one accord in Solomon's Porch" in the temple area" (5:12).

Gathering in one accord does not end as the game schedule begins.  Team prayers continue to gather on the field as members of one body.  

To our shame, today's church does far too little of this upper-room kind of team praying.  We tend to go through the motions on our own... sort of as a formality to ask God's stamp of approval on things we have already decided to do. Often it involves little or no sense of our utter need for coaching resources and our inability to complete prays and drills on our own.

Team Prayers are meant to pray together, to be interdependent and supportive.  We have to understand that if God wants us to be in "one accord", then surely the enemy would desire to cause division.  The lie that you don't need others, you can be independent and handle everything on your own is a lie that isolates body parts and breaks down the body function.

Take Thomas for example.  He has quite a soccer leg!  He can kick a ball from here to Timbuktu!  Thomas, who had not been with the other disciples when Coach Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection placed more confidence on his individual game plan instead of working with his team prayers in one accord...

John 20: 24-29, 
"Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!'  But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.'  A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'  Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'  Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"

God wants us to be team players.  He gave Paul insight into how "like-minded" can be achieved.  Paul writes about it in Philippians 2,
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Do Everything Without Grumbling."

Praying together is the preparation for doing together but far too often, we want to be busy doing our own thing without adequate preparation with our team members.  In the upper room we see prayer first and then God unleashed His power.  Individual gifts and talents are not meant to be developed just to end up alone on a field, facing a fierce adversary.  They are developed for the good of the whole.

These are true Team Prayers!

iWork Out... On the Field

The Greek word for "prayer" in the book of Acts is prosookay, which is the common New Testament term for prayer addressed to God. The word also sometimes refers to a place that was devoted to prayer as well as the act of praying.  That's the getting up and getting on the practice field folks!

Three years ago I felt the need to be in active one accord prayer.  I had many close friends but iPrayed God would show me who might be a good work out buddy for me.  An acquaintance of mine popped into my head.  Hmmm... out of all the people I know?  I approached this acquaintance and asked if she would be willing to work out with me in prayer.  I had no idea that God had been placing on her heart the same thing, that she needed someone to intercede with.  The accountability thing does wonders because before long we set a day, time and space and started working out together... just one hour a week following Coach Jesus' example he gave us in The Lord's Prayer.  Praising Him, confessing sin, thanking Him and then presenting our requests to Him.  Soon Coach Jesus was bringing in more team prayers.  He taught us how to refer to the Coach's manual (God's word) when practices got hard and team prayers needed direction on particular drills.  Our prayer muscles got stronger!

Instead of just brisk walks on our own, we are now on the field with team prayers and team spirit.  Under developed "one accord" prayer muscles have become strong!  Being in line with Coach Jesus' game plan has prepared us for each game.  We now step out with confidence and defeated the devil!  I'll never forget this one game... a friend asked us for support concerning a particular struggle... game on!  Together with this friend, we covered her whole home with scripture-driven prayers...rather than with gossip and popular opinion.  God's power was unleashed!

Stepping onto that field means stepping out of your own personal space.  You do not have to consider yourself a major prayer warrior to get on the field.  At the training to become a soccer coach it was drilled into our head that we do not have to be professional soccer players to be on the soccer field!  We can trust the practice process and drills.  You too can trust the authority of scripture and the Spirit of God.

This is true Field Work! 

iWork Out... As a Praying Christian

iPray... that you will take the term "Praying Christian" to a whole new level!  

iPray... you will step out on the field with team members and team spirit to "work out" not only your body part (Thomas!), but work out the oneness we have in Christ by praying in one accord.  You will find that it is different than a brisk walk in the morning.

iPray... that little by little those praying muscles become stronger and stronger and soon you will be dribbling a ball, stay in your position, passing to other team members, keeping your ears in tune with Coach Jesus and becoming game smart.  

iPray... that your training and practice time will equip you for the games so that when God's spirit is unleashed, when action is to take place, you will be a useful prayer on the field of life!  

iPray... that your, "I'm praying for you" will become, "Can I pray with you?"

As a true Praying Christian... iWork out, iPray uWork out too!

All for HIM,

Michelle Fozounmayeh 

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