Tag Archives: prayer

Cowboy-Turned-Preacher Spurs Church to Reclaim Health, Hope

Pastor Terry Ames

By Carl Stagner

His horse was one of his closest companions. From the hat on his head to the spurs on his boots, he fit the profile. He and his buddies would go from one town to the next to rob banks and end up in a shootout. But it was all an act—at least the robbing banks and shootouts part! From time to time, his acting job would include a minor role in historical movies and western television shows. He really did own a horse, however, and they were inseparable. He did also come from a small farm and enjoys wearing cowboy hats. The acting career is behind him now, though. Terry Ames has matters of eternal consequence to attend to. For the past couple of years, he’s carried out the task of turning around a declining Kentucky congregation which, at its lowest point, survived an attempted takeover. Continue reading

Tenacity Tested: Texas Pastor, Church Poised for Turnaround

Fun at a drug awareness event sponsored in part by the church.

By Carl Stagner

It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Pastor Lila Clay is acutely aware of the fact that leading a declining church into a new season of growth is no easy task. She pastors NorthPointe Church of God in Nacogdoches, Texas, a small-but-growing congregation on the cusp of turnaround. Though the congregation has grown from eight to an average of forty on Sunday mornings, they’re not taking a timeout to look back at their exciting journey. There’s too much kingdom work yet to do, and there’s simply too much at stake. Still, NorthPointe is one church whose struggles have met their match against a commitment to prayer, patience, and purpose. Continue reading

From the Archives: Vital Prayer—A Conversational Relationship with God

By Richard Willowby

Vital Christianity requires a vital prayer life. Most of us pray. It’s a daily habit: at meals, when we go to bed, in church—and fervently in times of desperation.

Some of us feel guilty about our prayer life. It is not regular enough, or long enough, or not spiritual enough. Guilt trips have been laid on us and unrealistic ideals of what prayer time should be like have been given as models for us. I once was told that Martin Luther said (probably a misquote), “I have so much to do today that I must pray at least seven hours.” Or perhaps you have heard that E. Stanley Jones spent two hours in prayer every evening—even when he was a guest at someone’s dinner party. Continue reading

On Bended Knee: Prayer Perspectives from the Pulpit and the Pew

Redmond Church of God prayer walk.

By Carl Stagner

Maybe it was a passage that seemed to leap from the pages of Scripture. But perhaps it was a pastor or a trusted friend. Or it might have been a mother whose bedside “Now I lay me down to sleep…” made an eternal impact. For so many believers, prayer is not simply taught; it’s modeled by another. That’s how it was for Jamie Wilkerson. Her mother would faithfully kneel down and pray with young Jamie morning and night, instilling in her a passion for prayer which burns to this day. Like Jamie, Joe Arena sees prayer as one of the most vital practices of the Christian. Involved in numerous prayer ministries inside and outside the church, Joe’s pursuit of God on bended knee isn’t unlike that of Pastor Dave Thompson and the Church of God in Redmond, Oregon. Their desire to intercede on behalf of church, community, nation, and world is nothing short of infectious. As the Church of God prepares for the 360 Revolution prayer and evangelism initiative this September, these three individuals offer some timely perspective on prayer. Continue reading

Healing, Salvation Follow Intense Week of Prayer at California Church

chog_exeter_prayercircle_forweb

Photo: Prayer circle at the Church of God of Exeter.

By Carl Stagner

Have you ever launched a new Bible study, started an outreach project, or tried something totally new, only to see its initial success fall flat? Was there a time when you realized that all the strategic planning and quality efforts going into something just wasn’t leading anywhere? Has it been a while since a powerful move of the Spirit brought healing, salvation, and deliverance into your place of worship? Michael Guzman, pastor of the Church of God of Exeter in Exeter, California, knows the feeling. A week of intense corporate prayer, five times a day, was just what the Doctor ordered. Continue reading

Cry Out to the Lord: Another Movement Has Begun

wilsonheightsfirstchurch_charlottenc_cottl_forweb

Photo: Cry Out to the Lord at Wilson Heights First Church, Charlotte, NC.

By Carl Stagner

Have you ever seen the altars full at your church? Isn’t it a glorious sight? But have you ever seen almost the entire church at the altars? On Sunday, September 11, this response to the powerful moving of the Spirit wasn’t uncommon. The more than two hundred congregations of the Church of God in the United States and Canada that participated in their first-ever Cry Out to the Lord prayer experience yielded more than fifty stories of blessing and transformation. Far more than an event that comes and goes and is soon forgotten, Cry Out to the Lord has reignited a passion for prayer in the Church of God. Continue reading

Movement to Unite in Prayer on September 11

Cryout_Lord_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

On Sunday, September 11, congregations across the Church of God and beyond will set aside their Sunday schedules for a focused time of prayer. Like the solemn, sacred assemblies held during the time of the Prophet Joel, we will humbly seek God’s forgiveness and restoration as we commit to re-engage in his divine purposes (Joel l:13–14). Recent escalating tensions around the globe and in our own backyard have only served as a wake-up call to the imminent need for a united plea to our God for hope, for answers, and for healing. Continue reading

From the Archives: How Can We Improve Our Prayer Life?

Old_library_stock_FORWEB

By Gilbert W. Stafford

I received a letter from a local church leader in which he told me a few of the people in his congregation disagreed with some of the policies of the pastor; consequently, they were boycotting the church. The difficulties had nothing to do with moral, ethical, or doctrinal issues; rather, they had to do with personality conflicts, differences about stylistic matters, and programmatic issues. Continue reading

From the Archives: Core Questions We Must Ask About Our Movement

Old_library_stock_FORWEB

By John Boedeker

“The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’” The church of the living God has always had a life-changing message. Come to the Bread of Life! Come to the Living Water! Come to the Prince of Peace! Come and you will be satisfied, and sent to say, “Come” to others.

The church lives in a world of crisis and need as if it has a right to exist in, of, and for itself to support its own interests. Apart from the indwelling, cleansing, enabling breath of the living God, the church has no life. Continue reading

Movement-wide Prayer Experience Planned for September 11

Cry_Out_LOGO2_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

No great move of God in history has ever occurred without having been preceded by the extraordinary prayer of his people. Log on to Facebook or Twitter, turn on the television, or pick up a newspaper and just try not to grieve for the shape of our culture. We need a great move of God. Walk our streets, visit our prisons, or spend some time in our poor urban centers and realize the overwhelming condition of our society. Then, instead of shaking your fist at hell, turn inward. What if we were to take a closer look at ourselves—the church? We possess the hope of the world, the world needs that hope, but we’re too busy dealing with our own issues to do anything about it. It’s time for change. It’s time for a spiritual overhaul. In Joel 1, the people of God found themselves in a similar predicament. They consecrated a fast, proclaimed a solemn assembly, and gathered the elders and all the inhabitants of the land. Together they cried out to the Lord for repentance, reconciliation, and revival. We’ve determined we must do no less. On Sunday, September 11, Church of God congregations will unite on their knees as they set aside regular weekend schedules for a singular focus—to cry out to the Lord. Continue reading

From Prison to the Pulpit of a Growing Multicultural Church

First_CHOG_Congregation_Aurora_IL_FORWEB

Photo: Aurora First Church of God

By Carl Stagner

For a number of years, it appeared hell had laid claim to Manny Rivera’s life. But this man, created in the image of God, was reclaimed by Jesus Christ in 2006. Since then, God has increased the spiritual responsibility of this ex-con and former alcoholic. In addition to broken addictions and miraculous healings, the church he now pastors in Aurora, Illinois, has seen more than thirty people saved since Manny stepped up to the pulpit about a year-and-a-half ago. God is using this Church of God pastor in some incredible ways—ways that would have never come to pass had the bullet meant for his life actually taken it. Continue reading

Church of God Honors, Prays for Veterans

veteran_stock_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

They put their lives on the line for you and me. With courage, they served to protect the freedoms we take for granted in the United States of America. Since their days in the military, these gentlemen have committed their lives to another kind of battle—a battle for souls. Military veterans Gary Campbell and Gerald Rudd are just two of the numerous examples of those who started out in the armed forces before joining the Lord’s Army. The two thousand Church of God congregations in the United States are indebted to their service to God and country, and we honor and pray for them—not just today, but every day. Continue reading

Church of God Urges Prayer for Roseburg, Oregon

Roseburg_PrayerVigil_Oct1_2015_FORWEB

Senseless violence has yet again shaken the country as news of a deadly shooting surfaced from the city of Roseburg, Oregon. The October 1, 2015, tragedy is only just beginning to send shockwaves through the city, which lies about 180 miles south of Portland. Our Church of God congregation, Hucrest Community, opened its doors to the public for anyone who would like to pray. Prayer is what is so desperately needed at a time like this, and we invite the Church of God across the country and around the world to pray. Please remember the wounded, the friends and family of the deceased, Umpqua Community College, Pastor Jon Nutter, the congregation he serves, and the entire Roseburg community in your prayers. Thank you. Continue reading

Wildfires out West: ‘God Was Watching Over Us’

Sonya_Allen_farm_wall_of_fireAug15_2015_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

Wildfires have scorched more than 600,000 acres in Washington State alone this year. Massive infernos rage on in seventeen states, mostly out West, including the particularly hard-hit states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Fueled by prolonged drought, these fires have forced the evacuations of thousands, destroyed hundreds of homes, and claimed the lives of three firefighters. For the first time in the state’s history, Washington has had to ask for the help of volunteers as they battle blazes beyond their control. Local churches have stepped up to help by offering space for evacuees, collecting supplies for firefighters, and rallying believers to unite in prayer. Many have witnessed firsthand the power and destructive force of these fires, as well as the opportunities for being the hands and feet of Christ. Continue reading

Church of God Mourns South Carolina Tragedy

CG_Logo3_FORWEB

On Wednesday evening, June 17, 2015, evil once again reared its ugly head in the United States of America. Our hearts mourn the loss of nine lives brutally taken from this earth in Charleston, South Carolina. In a world where racism, hatred, and sin run deep, we turn our anguished hearts toward heaven to seek hope and divine consolation. It is at the end of a painful week such as this that we strongly encourage Church of God congregations in North America and around the world to seek peace, reconciliation, and justice on bended knee. Continue reading