Monday, November 26, 2012

A National Prayer of Repentance

The African media group New Vision recently reported on a most incredible event. At a National Jubilee Prayers event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Uganda from Great Britain, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni openly repented of his sins and the sins of Uganda. His prayer is below:

"Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us. 

"I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness. 

"We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.

"We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal. 

"Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict. 

"These sins and many others have characterised our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins. 

"We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity.

"We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.

"We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfil what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own. 

"I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever.

"I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Cotton Ridge Is Awesome - It Is Built on Relationships

Every church believes that it is built on relationships, and to an extent this is necessarily true. However, many churches don't value relationships enough to let it determine their programming, schedule, and emphases.

In the early days of Cotton Ridge, the idea came along that the church needed Sunday School. After all, most of its members had been conventional Southern Baptists. So, not long after the church had moved into a rented facility with some available classrooms, the church gave Sunday School a try.

It didn't work. Was it because there weren't enough teachers or volunteers? No. Sunday School didn't work because of an unintended consequence: It harmed the natural fellowship that occurred prior to our worship together on Sundays. The people of Cotton Ridge were willing to change their traditions for the sake of the health of the body of Christ.

The small group structure at Cotton Ridge became what we call LifeGroups--small groups of believers meeting in homes. LifeGroups have a number of advantages: the opportunity for extended meetings, easily reproducible groups, and most important, an environment conducive to building relationships.

The repeated story I hear from a number of people at Cotton Ridge is: "I had never been a part of home groups. I've always done Sunday School. But I wouldn't ever want to go back." Just today a young lady told me how strong and meaningful her friendships are in the group of which she's a part.

Uplifting and edifying relationships are essential for the Christian. Through them we are challenged, encouraged, and supported. And we must always remember that these kind of relationships are longed for by those without Christ. Through relationships, Cotton Ridge is poised to make a major impact for God's kingdom in its community and beyond.


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