MEN’S SATURDAY PRAYER SERVICE
Meeting August 18, 2012
Call to prayer
Let’s begin as we begin all good things blessing ourselves; in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Opening Prayer (Everyone)
Father above, we thank you for this day. We thank you for all you’ve given us in this world and for the role models you have set before us, both people we know and people we only read about. Lord, help us to make our Christian faith a priority each and every day and help us to wear that faith proudly wherever we go. We know that isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us, so give us the strength to not only work on our faith, but to proclaim it at any possible time. We also pray for ourselves, our loved ones and all those in need. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen
The Olympics of Faith and Christianity : So in coming up with a theme for this month’s prayer session, I drew the short straw and as we kicked around possible themes, I wanted to tie something related to the recent Olympics in London. My initial thoughts were to draw a comparison between the hard work and dedication required by each of the Olympic athletes, to make it all the way from their local neighborhood gyms, pools, tracks, and fields, all the way to the world’s largest stage, The Olympics. Similar to the athletes, we too as Christians need to work hard at our faith if we too want to share in the ultimate goal, eternal life in heaven. Most people feel they can simply claim, I’m Catholic, I go to church on Sunday, therefore, I’m a good, faithful Catholic. Hopefully, we all know, there is more to it than that. We are all challenged on a daily basis in our personal and professional lives. It’s so easy to get distracted and put religion and faith on the back burner. To combat that, similar to the athletes, we need to work on our faith on a daily basis and keep Jesus always in the fore front in all that we do.
From there, and through comments from a few of our Cornerstone brothers, I also wanted to fold into this Olympic theme, how we should always proclaim our faith and be proud to talk about it in public and let the world know that we are Catholic and very proud of it. Again, something not easy to do but going along with the Olympic theme, we saw several refreshing examples of that religious pride come to the forefront via some of the world’s greatest Athletes!! (see the last page for some examples – thanks to Rick Diana for sharing this with me)
Song/Video - Derek Redmond’s 400M Race in the Barcelona Olympics (You Raise Me Up) – The Love of a Father
An Excerpt from Ron Hutchcraft (Thanks to Brian Gaffney for sharing this with me)
It turns out that the secret of being a spiritual champion is pretty much the same - a thousand invisible mornings...with Jesus. He set the example by showing up morning after morning to spend time with His Father. Then when He called the men He'd build His life's work on, "He appointed twelve...that they might be with Him" (Mark 3:14 ). The first job of a disciple - be with Jesus. It must have worked. When the men who helped crucify Jesus hauled Peter and John in for questioning, "...they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13 ).
You can tell when someone's spent a lot of time with Jesus. There's something magnetic about them - an authority, a confidence, a power, a caring. People become like the people they hang out with. When you hang out with Jesus, you become more and more like Him.
Why are there so many Christians who have a head full of Jesus, but live such ordinary - even hypocritical - lives? Why do so many of us have a roller coaster faith, with occasional glorious highs, punctuating long stretches of bland mediocrity? Because we won't pay the price to be a champion.
That price is to make our daily time with Jesus non-negotiable; the anchor of our daily schedule - the "sun" around which all the other "planets" of our life must revolve. Christian meetings and events won't do it. Great Bible teaching or Christian fellowship won't do it. There simply is no substitute for the love-driven discipline of spending time with Jesus. We meet Him in His Book. It's the love letter that allows us to hear His heart until we can be in His presence; that enables us to be with Him until we can really be with Him in heaven.
A vibrant, powerful relationship with Jesus Christ is rooted in those thousand invisible mornings with Jesus. No one will know if you show up - except Jesus. But if you do show up consistently, people will notice the difference, and be strangely drawn to the Jesus in you. He'll show up tomorrow morning, as He has every morning since you met Him. Be there!
Thoughts for Discussion
1. OK, maybe I’ve gotten a little corny with the Olympic theme and comparing the training of the Olympic athletes with that of Christians practicing their faith on a daily basis. Do you agree that both require hard work on a regular basis? Which is harder, the physical workouts of an athlete or the laser focus on living a Christ-like life? Did anyone read the article in the paper this past week about Tim Tebow’s unnamed friend that he calls on a daily basis, to help make sure he’s grounded and keeps his priorities in the correct order?
2. Do you find it easy to talk about your religion in a public forum? Do you pull back from discussions on religious topics or do you jump in with both feet, expressing your beliefs and letting people know you’re a Christian?
3. What’s your thoughts on those post event interviews that take place in all sports and in all competitions where the athletes start off by “thanking God” for giving them the opportunity and ability to succeed. Do you feel that most of these are genuine or lip service?
4. Derek Redmond proved that even those who work extremely hard at something and totally dedicate their lives to that something, still can get knocked down or have things turn out different from what we wanted. In those times, have you reached out to someone for help? Was someone there to pick you up like his Father was there for him? Do we remember that our Father in Heaven is always there to pick us up when we fall?
5. Has Cornerstone changed your approach to religious conversations and/or public displays of your faith? If so, how?
6. Who do you think are some great role models when it comes to publically expressing their faith? Do you think those people work hard on their faith on a daily basis or do you hit a point where it becomes embedded in your very fiber?
Prayers of petition and thanks/Special Requests
Various (global) athletes witnessing to their Christian faith---Catholics signing the Cross and many athletes demonstrating their supreme faith in word and deed. Here are several examples.
· Mass was celebrated 3x per day in Olympic village.
· Female Ethiopian runner Meseret Defar who pulled an image of the Blessed Mother with Baby Jesus out of her jersey after winning gold in 5000M
· Rhythmic Gymnastics performer Lyubov Cherkashina from Belarus breaking down from stress relief while unabashedly and very deliberately blessing herself (she won bronze).
· Gabby Douglas tweets this right after winning Gold
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” She told Jackie MacMullan of rESPN about dealing with the pressure and gaining confidence by ”meditating on scriptures.”
· Missy Franklin - rising high school senior at Regis Jesuit in CO and youngest female member of Swim team considering a conversion to Catholicism . "I am so thankful for Regis Jesuit, for they have brought God and so much meaning into my life."
· Usain Bolt as he settles into the starting blocks
· Allyson Felix giving glory to God after taking Gold in the women’s 4x400 relay with the Crucifix around her neck in plain sight. Four lovely women dominating the field with grace, competitiveness, TEAM over self and God by their side….undoubtedly praying in the huddle afterwards.
· Carlos Ballve – Spanish field hockey player entering seminary in Belgium
· Lolo Jones – disappointed sprinter who at 30 years old is a virgin and not ashamed of it
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