So small group was excellent tonight, as per usual. Well, for the two times I’ve gone so far anyway. All my favorite people were there: Jen and Justin, Jessica and Mike, with Gwen and Lucy in tow, Kevin, our small group leader, and a whole bunch of others from church. I took some cute prego pictures of Jen in the backyard, and then one with both Jen and Justin which makes today’s picture of the day.
Two things of importance happened tonight. One, Kevin changed up the small group structure a bit to make it an entire night of worship and prayer, specifically for the leaders of our church and the surrounding churches that have been taking a stand lately to defend our religious rights. This has been something I’ve been thinking a lot about since the November election and the passing of Proposition 8 in California. I’m of the inclination that if this criticism of Christian beliefs continues, and is able to start passing laws forbidding us to speak out to what we think is wrong, that things are going to start getting very bad in America. It makes me sad/angry/frustrated that the other side refuses to see that so-called “rights” for them means religious persecution for us. The other side says it won’t, when it’s clear that it has already started happening around the country.
So we prayed for our leaders tonight who have been targeted in San Diego for rallying Christians to step up for our beliefs. Among those were our own pastors, Mark and Dave Hoffman, Jim Garlow, the pastor of Skyline, and Miles McPherson, who pastors the Rock. We prayed for strength, for conviction, for wisdom… and then one person prayed for more persecution. That God would continue to allow it to strengthen the Christians in America. And as he prayed, I couldn’t help thinking, Why are your praying that! We should be praying against persecution, against the battles Christians are facing every day. And then I remembered a speaker we had at church a few months ago, someone from Cuba I think, where their church is being persecuted daily. He told us his people were praying for the persecution of the American Christians. Because from their point of view, revival comes strongest when persecution is out of control.
Kind of sucks, doesn’t it? It scares me to think we are facing a point in time where religious freedom in America is being challenged. The freedom we have here has always been high on my list of thanks, that God allowed me to be born in a time and place where I could be a Christian in the true sense of the word.
I don’t really have any answer about it. I just wanted to throw my thoughts out there, because I’m feeling very strongly about all this right now.
The second thing is that Kevin asked to pray over me, which I’ve found has always been an interesting experience– not Kevin himself, but when someone comes to pray for you when you haven’t specified anything in particular to pray for. They just feel like they should pray for you. So I asked if he wanted something particular in my life to pray about, and he said he was going to wing it, and then we’d see if he got anywhere close.
Love it. Because when people pray like that, and they actually pray about something that is completely relevant in your life, without knowing it, you get the sense that God’s really working with you on that thing, maybe even without you being very aware of it until then.
And I was a little surprised over what he chose to pray about: He said he felt like a time was coming when the old days, the times I cherish most, and the times where I felt the most like myself, the most confident, the most joyful, that those times were returning, and that the promises I thought were going to be fulfilled so long ago would begin to actually happen.
Hot dang, that’s a good vision! And so applicable, because we all know I love the old times, the old friends, and I cherish every minute of those times. So I can’t wait to see what comes of Kevin’s vision for me. And as I was discussing it with him after, I realized that it’s already happening, because this small group already feels like where I’m supposed to be: familiar faces, people who’ve known me a long time, people that I trust. I have no idea why I stayed in my previous home group so long, when I never really felt like I was truly a part of everything.
More to come later. 🙂