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2021: The Practice of Prayer

As the advent season begins, I am already looking ahead to 2021. 2020 has been an exceptionally rough year for us all. Not only is this due to the pandemic that began afflicting the glob in late February, but also due to the more personal and immediate struggles that we have endured as individuals and as a church family. We’ve been hit by many hard losses and left to wonder how to do church in this new situation with so many of our resources diminished.

I need to confess that in the midst of all of the chaos, I have not been as diligent in prayer for all of you as I should have been. This was in part due to my own personal situation which was in considerable flux over the past year. Nonetheless, I want to rectify this negligence on my part by dedicating 2021 to the practice of prayer and I invite you to join me. I would like to suggest that as a church we devote ourselves to prayer in 2021 as never before.

To facilitate and encourage this I will be dedicating the majority of the sermons next year to texts and subjects intimately related to the topic of prayer. In preparation for this I will be immersing myself both in Scripture and in classic Christian literature by widely recognized masters of prayer (e.g. Augustine, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Francois Fenelon, Madam Guyon, Andrew Murray, and Dallas Willard).

I would like to ask that you be praying for me as I plan these lessons for 2021. I would also like to ask that you petition God to prepare us all to receive what his Spirit wants to teach us about prayer in the year to come. Nothing is more basic or vital to our Christian lives or to the health of our church than the cultivation of intimate, constant, and submissive prayer that not only addresses God as our benefactor but also listens to God as our loving Father, our wisest teacher, and our highest joy and authority.

Your brother and fellow disciple,

Kevin Youngblood



The Spiritual Power Surge of Revelation 5

I love Pixar animated features – all of them. My favorite one, however, is Monsters, Inc. I love the way that movie tells the story of how the city of Monstropolis dramatically shifted from being powered by fear through the capture of children’s blood curdling screams to being powered by joy through the capture of children’s raucous laughter. It serves as a kind of parable of how we consistently misunderstand power and as a result forfeit real power for a cheap, easy, but ultimately poor, if not downright dangerous, substitute.
 
At one point in the movie, the little human girl who has been kidnapped by one of the monster citizens of Monstropolis and an employee of the city’s power company, Monsters Inc., is tickled by her monster rescuer, Sullivan. She squeals with delight and laughs. Suddenly a buzzing sound fills the air, the lights temporarily brighten, then blink, then everything returns to normal after the girl’s laughter subsides. Sullivan looks at his monster buddy, Mike Wazowski, and exclaims “Wow! What was that?” That was a power surge. The little girls joy overpowered the inadequate power lines of a system that up until that moment had only known the power of fear. The system couldn’t quite handle this new, greater power source and it overwhelmed the city’s circuitry.          
 
Last Sunday our sermon explored the renewed vision of power John received when he entered God’s throne room and encountered the lion-lamb Messiah who conquered the world and overwhelmed worldly power by means of a new kind of power – the power of self-sacrifice, the power of radically other-centered service. Heaven and earth experienced an unmistakable power surge when the lamb standing as though slain took center stage in the vision and proceeded to open the sealed scroll, thus revealing the divine strategy by which the church will overcome sin, suffering, and even death itself.   
       
Church, we need the same kind of power surge John experienced in his vision. The power of humble service, of mutual submission, and of placing other’s needs and concerns ahead of our own is a radically different kind of energy, but is far more powerful and effective than the strong-arming, manipulation, intimidation, and bullying that too often characterizes not only the kind of leadership modeled in the world but also, unfortunately, the kind modeled in the church.          
 
Here’s a suggestion for an activity this week that could well result in a spiritual power surge in your personal life and possibly even in our church. Plan and perform one selfless act this week that will inconvenience you but be a blessing to others. Do it anonymously without any fanfare. Let it remain between you and God so that God can bless it, multiply it, and surge its power. Let’s each commit to performing this activity this week and see what happens. We just might experience a spiritual power surge!
 
Your brother in Christ and fellow disciple,
Kevin


Dear Church

This past Sunday morning we began to look at the personalized messages the risen Christ addressed to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor through his prophet John. We will finish looking at these message next Sunday but in the meantime I would like to recommend a couple of spiritual exercises to help you submit to the loving scrutiny of our risen lord as he prepares us for endurance and victory in the spiritual battles we face day in and day out.

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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Author: Kevin Youngblood
 
Welcome to WestRidge Church of Christ’s new blog, the Daily Disciple! The blog’s name is inspired both by Jesus’ call to discipleship in Luke 9:23 where he directs us to take up our cross daily and follow him and by WestRidge Church of Christ’s commitment to foster a culture of discipleship within our faith community. This blog aims to facilitate this goal by sharing resources, recommending exercises for spiritual formation, and providing content that stimulates contemplation, meditation, and maturation for every disciple at West Ridge. While I will assume responsibility for ensuring the upkeep and consistency of the blog, I intend to invite guest bloggers (especially members from WestRidge but also experts from various fields related to theology, spiritual formation, evangelism, outreach, and spiritual leadership) to contribute content on a regular basis. I pray that the blog will be a blessing to you and serve as an inspiration to follow Jesus more deliberately, more closely, and more joyfully.

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