Category: Mobilizing

Spiritually Open Borders. Is the Church Ready for the Work of Welcoming?

We sit in their living room on mismatched chairs and smile at one another trying to determine what we are all trying to say to one another. Their bright teeth shine beautiful out from their dark, warm African skin. They speak Swahili. We speak English. We laugh at what we cannot understand and hope that each of us will one day know one another.

IMG_2331They fled Democratic Republic of Congo sometime this last year and came to America only a month ago, thankfully with other families. Fear of fighting is what I understand. I ask the father in English and make guns with my fingers. “Did you leave because of war?” He doesn’t understand. “Did you leave because of fighting?” Guns pointing. He nods yes.

These refugees have run from what all refugees run from: fear of persecution, fear for their lives and their children’s lives, fear that all will be taken from them. They come here for shelter and safety.

However, in this case, they are Catholic. We share the same God. We speak the same spiritual language. We know the same Savior.

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If we didn’t share the same God, would that mean I didn’t want to know them? No, but in light of the knowledge that we are facing the ever-increasing fact that Muslims, by the thousands, are coming either as immigrants or refugees, we have some thinking to do.

This post isn’t about whether or not we should welcome the refugee, the lost, the wanderer. I dare not challenge my Lord’s directive. This post is more about these questions:

  • Is the church ready? 
    Is she ready for the months and months it takes to help a refugee family implant in our culture? Ready to help them shop, learn the language, go to school, ride the bus, find a job? Is she already partnering with the agencies that do this? Does she understand the undertaking? Is everyone ready for the long haul? Because it is a long haul.

It’s more than welcome banners and hugs at the airport.

  • Has she already done the work of engaging immigrants, refugees, the lost, the wanderer, the displaced, the lonely?
  • Is her compassion for the Syrians an extension of the compassion she has already shown to those here? In many cases, I’m sure it is.

But more than this, are we ready for the spiritual implications of spiritually open borders?

woman-812070_640Islam is not a religion that is the same as Christianity. Neither is Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Animism. They do not serve the same God, and in fact, serve a false god. This kind of false religion will bring with it strongholds and demonic powers that can, and will, influence us if we are not both intellectually and spiritually ready and equipped, in the Spirit and in the Word, to open our arms, homes, churches, and country to more and more false religions.

This is not to say we do not do such things as make friends with Muslims, or engage in our neighborhoods with Muslims. What we must understand is that while we find it heartwarming to be able to engage as a community, even move beyond acquaintances to friendships, there is an entire iceberg of cultural differences, an entire worldview, underneath our warm hellos and friendly dinners together.

Above the waterline of our deeply entrenched worldview we find the easiest cultural differences to overcome. They, and any other refugee or immigrant, will come see how we interact, what we eat, how we sound, what we smell like, what is considered rude, what is considered to be gratitude. On and on there are things that are considered to be “above the waterline.”

Below the waterline is a giant iceberg of differences. Values and beliefs that will not, and cannot, be compromised are buried deep in all of us. There are ingrained cultural habits that will not be moved nor changed. There are spiritual DNA strands unchangeable unless touched by the Holy Spirit. The worldview of the American Christian and the worldview of the Hindu, the Buddhist, the animist, the atheist, or the Muslims will clash and rip at one another under the waterline. What I value as deeply embedded beliefs about God, humanity, the heart and soul of a man, salvation, the afterlife, war, ancestors, and the future lies under the waterline.

As does theirs.

Are we even remotely ready, spiritually and prayerfully ready, for our icebergs to glide together in close proximity? Do we have the spiritual fortitude to pray against the evil attached to the false religions? Do we understand the gravity of the war we wage in the heavenlies when we so passionately want to welcome those who are fleeing to our country?

And welcome them we should.

Shrewdly, and in love. 

Jesus, when he sent out the disciples told them to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10.)

As I read the posts and the blogs about whether or not we welcome the refugee, I actually want to sit with everyone, look at the ones who are saying, “Mercy! Love! Welcome!” and say “YES!” And I want to sit with the ones saying, “Pause! Wait! Think! Prepare!” and say “YES!”.

It is yes to all.

Yes to love.
Yes to open arms.
Yes to helping, serving, housing and sheltering.
Yes to prepare, be patient, understand, study, pray…deeply pray.

It will take all the the Body of Christ to show Christ to the nations. It is His heart’s passion that all men come to the only name that will save them. It is is intention that the manifold wisdom of God be made known by and through His church. In our love for one another, they will see we are Christians. It is not our love for them that prove that we are Christians, it is our love for one another.

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We must stop the fighting, and come together and unite. Not because “they” are coming, but they are already here! There is no good purpose in fighting. Humility is the way. We must unite in love, hope, mercy, prayer, intelligence, resources, strength, and spiritual preparedness for what we are so quickly wanting to happen and so ready to open our hearts and lives to. We must work together, prepare together, and most importantly, pray together.

This is no game. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but “against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6)

As we welcome, we must also be prepared to fight in the heavenlies in prayer. Protect your home in prayer, not by locking your doors (unless you’re threatened). Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Be the mouthpiece of the Gospel. Be the light of the World. Be the enemy’s greatest nightmare. We are ready to be welcomers. It’s in us because Christ is in us. Let us prepare ourselves for the work.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all the believers everywhere.” Eph. 6

Why You Matter

From since before the earth and universe were created, there has been one theme, one triumphant sound coming from one constant orchestration of what has been and what will be.

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From the first Spoken Word “Let there be Light” the Light spanned galaxies and time and space, turning the eyes and hearts of men toward one end point. The Light raced through history and screams past us on the Timeline of what is happening. We turn our heads and follow it, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes willingly, but all will eventually find where the Light comes to an end. At some point we will all stare at the End of the Light’s reach.

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What will we be looking at?

What will hold us captive?

Where will the Light take us?

Once the Light reaches its final end of its journey, after it’s illuminated all it was called to illuminate; once it’s finished the work required of it over the earth and universe, the Light is absorbed by its Creator. It returns to the One who spoke it into existence, and is needed no more because its Creator is the Light.

The Light will return to the Beginning where the Theme of the Universe first started. What is this Theme? What is the orchestration? What is the purpose of the Light?

The Creator’s Glory

The only reason The Creator spoke the light into existence, and the rest of the creation, was to bring back to Himself worship and glory.

Then He sent a Second Light. The Second Light was the exact representation of His Creator. Sharing character, power, authority. He came to bring the Light into the hearts of Man. For centuries, men watched the Light move around them, come down among them, guide them, reveal itself to them. But now, the Light came to live in their hearts.

Nothing like that had ever been seen or comprehended. 

The Second Light, pure, holy, righteous, paid ransom for all the First Light revealed, exposed. The created light had in it a wickedness that came and tainted, faded the light of men in sin and darkness. Only the sacrifice of The Light of Men could redeem all that was lost. His sacrifice cracked open the darkness and the Light expanded to all men in all nations on earth.

Then, after He set free all from darkness, He offered the Light to be manifested internally, eternally.

The Light in us still has the same purpose as the First light…

To bring glory to our Creator by taking the light to all men. All nations. All people groups. Not just geographical boundaries on a map, but that the Gospel of this Light would penetrate each language group and family of men and women around the world.

We are Carriers of the Light, charged with the same task as both created light and The Light of the World, Jesus Christ. It is for His fame and glory, and our full satisfaction in the Light that we would labor for this Light to be made manifest in all the world.

Then, the end will come. 

He said it Himself.

We have work to do, dear Light Bearers.

How will you help extend the Light to the Nations?

You matter because you are a Light Bearer.

You have the power within you to extend the grace of our loving God into all the world.

It is not a burden, though those lost in darkness is a great burden, indeed. It is not a burden as though we have a task list of things we must accomplish in our own efforts and die with our lives broken and wasted. No, we are the Light in us, powered and upheld by the Holy Spirit of God. We have Him in us, to bring power and satisfaction to us, so that He is magnified in us, and the world will see.

We extend the Light in many ways:

Prayer. Prayer for the nations that they would see the Glory and Magnificence of God! This would make worshippers of Him, fulfilling the search for those who would worship him.

Help. Give your money. Reach out to the needy in our land. Give to the work in the Dark places so that they will be well-equipped and won’t worry about finances. Know the agencies and people you could support. How can you use your money for the advancement of the Light in your city, your nation and around the world?

Get Informed. Know what is left. If you don’t know, you won’t know how to help. Study. Read. Take Perspectives. Be informed. To be ignorant of what is left to do for the Grace, for the Light to be taken to Nations who have not even the chance to know Him, is irresponsible.

Know that many nations have access to the Gospel. But there are many, many who don’t. How can you help change that?

This is our call. This is His Directive. His Name taken to the nations is His plan, not ours.

You matter because He has equipped you with Light in you.

How will you let it shine?

And when the end of the age comes, and we are all standing under the Tree, gazing at the wonder of the Light of God, He will illuminate the room and the sea of colorful faces, the sounds of a thousand languages, the wave of indescribable worship, will rest upon us and we will be completely fulfilled and satisfied as He is completely glorified.

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The Hebrew God I Choose

I’m an American.

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I am white.

I am a woman.

I am a Christian.

 

 

I am a product of Greek philosophy, but have chosen Hebrew theology.

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I no longer follow the way of my own desires. I have given up my American dreams.

This Hebrew God I have chosen to follow has a Way about Him that bumps and bullies my Greek philosophical ancestry in my way of doing life. My instinct is to run after things that make me happy, or make sense, or show I am successful and that I have made my way in the world. It crushes my need for individualism with a call that is inclusive and calls itself The Church.

Individual privileges are no longer the priority. There are others.

We call each other brothers and sisters.

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My ancient Greek influences make me want to know the why of everything and wants to know the next step, the next goal, what the next season will hold. My Hebrew God smiles and reminds me that I won’t know every reason, but I will know His Name. He tells me that the next step is just illuminated by His Word and that in faith I take a step. He teaches me that there is a season for everything, and it’s not what I get out of it exactly, but how much glory He receives in my worship, honor and faith in Him.

Makes Him sound selfish, doesn’t it?

Rubs against our “God loves me for me” mantra.

There is no higher god or person above this Ancient One who gets any glory or honor, there is only He. From the Beginning to the End, His greatest passion is His own Glory. His own Name.

His fame.

His Happiness, if you will.

sunI, in my Greek, individualistic, self-absorbed knowledge of how humans should feel find this unnerving, but… I have chosen to follow this God.

I don’t get to say who gets the glory.

I chose to say, “I follow this God and His Word and His Son and His Holy Spirit.”

I don’t then get to say my dreams and happiness come first.

I am a Greek philosopher who has chosen to adhere to a Hebrew theology.

Which one will bow to which?

jerusalem-475110_640Is logic all bad? Of course not. My Hebrew God says in His son are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and that I can have depth of insight in Him. But He also says that He is a mystery, a consuming fire, one that has higher ways than me. Logic cannot touch.

Can’t I be myself? Indeed. Beautiful personality made in the image of my Creator…placed in the family, the faces, the sea of other humans who have turned their face and their posture to this Hebrew God.

We are One.

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And we have purpose.

My Greek instinct is to find my own purpose. My Hebrew God says, “I AM and there is no other.” I must know His purpose.

It is His glory. 

There is no other purpose.

How? How do I fulfill that purpose?

That glory freed the Hebrew slaves of Egypt with plague and promise.

That glory fell in the wilderness on the tabernacle with Moses and the Israelites. It consumed the sacrifices and they fell to their faces.

That same glory fell on the temple of Solomon. Consuming sacrifice and they were undone, falling to the pavement with their faces to the floor, worshipping.

How do I bring glory to Glory?

I don’t.

I can’t.

He brings it to Himself…through me, in me, because of me, in spite of me.

That same Glory falls on me. In me. Consuming me.

He is Holy Spirit.

This Hebrew God needs not me to serve Him, though I want to. He needs nothing from me, other than my faith, my devotion, my worship. My yielding to His Indwelling.

Then He calls us. He calls us to take this Glory to the Nations. There is no other thing. There is no other purpose. This Glory brings salvation and full redemption. It brings with it hope and wholeness. Worship and honor of this great and mighty Hebrew God brings satisfaction and rest.

matchstick-20237_640So, I do what I can to see that happen. I pray for people I love. I pray for darkness to be pushed out of the lives and nations of the enemy. I pray that others go and then are protected, and unified, and rested, and more.

It is not just them to take the Glory to the nations. It is those of Us who work in the marketplace. Those of Us who sit at desks and look across our offices to those we know do not know the Glory.

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It is Us who hold babies and raise small humans. It is also Us who work late nights and early mornings. It is Us who work in the schools and hospitals. We hold the hands of the aged. We bring new humans into the world. We cry with the world. We gasp at the horror. We can be extremely lovely. We drink our coffee and sigh as we ponder our lives. We smile at strangers. We hold the unlovable. We give water. We give food. We visit the sick. We talk to those in prison. We drive our cars and pass you on the street.

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We are of The Way

Carriers of The Light

Revealers of The Glory.

We are frail. We are bold. We are united.

We are the nations going to the nations to reveal the great and holy Glory of this great and mighty Hebrew God. It is no small task. It cannot be all individualistic without a global unity. It cannot be a faceless mass of people either. We are called a Body for a reason. Individual parts working together to bring maximum health to ourselves and beauty to our Head, Jesus Christ.

To Him be the Glory through the ones who have said Yes.

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I Wanted Us to Suffer a Little, Then I Saw a Tree and Changed My Mind.

IMG_7399Just above me is a giant tree in our backyard. Growing up in Oklahoma the giant trees were few and far between, and were put on display at Christmas and people drove from miles around to take a look. Here, in Tennessee the trees are quite different. The rise so tall that you hurt your neck looking up for too long. They cover the landscape like a blanket and provide shelter and shade for everything below them.

Trunks so large it takes arms and arms to reach around.

treehugThey sway in the breeze and climb the hills together to display their gold and orange change every fall.

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They are wonderous.

There is a verse in Revelation that has been tucked in my heart for over a decade

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

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I sit under that tree in my backyard many times a week. I look up at it and that verse runs through my mind as I stare at the thousands of leaves whispering over my head. “How are the leaves the healing of the nations?” I don’t know, but I do know scripture says it. I also know that is Psalm 1 a righteous man is compared to a tree by living water. And although Jesus said he is the root of the vine, why not be the root of the trees? Would that not be a stretch to think that the leaves are….us? 

Are we the leaves that are to be the healing of the nations?

He is healer, no doubt, but we are the messengers, the ambassadors, the one reliant on the root of the vine, where we are admonished to be “root and established in love.” Rooted. Roots that go down into someone who provides all we need for life. Roots so deep that when they are threatened, they cannot be uprooted, even when storms shake and whip the tops.

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What if when we are rooted and established in love, even though he slay us, we never stop trusting him? What if our roots were the only thing that kept us from dying in the worst of times? What if our roots in Christ, though we are pruned and changed, we grew stronger and more powerful as a whole collective?

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I wanted, for awhile, to be really upset with the Church, not a particular church (notice the capital “C”) but at the church of America. I was even thinking “Bring on persecution! It will only cause us to grow! We deserve a little tough times. We don’t know what persecution is! Let the storms come and cut us down a bit. Let the lightning strike and strip us of our pride!”

Angry

Bitter

Arrogant

Then I realized that the church of Acts, when persecuted was scattered. Scattered like ants when their little ant piles are messed with. Scattered like roaches when the lights come on. They, our first brothers and sisters, were forced out of homes and displaced by persecution. Much like what is happening even now to our brothers and sisters.

Then I looked at the tree and wondered, “So, what happened between the times of persecution?” What happened as they rebuilt their lives and started again? What did they do?”

 

They grew.

treepathShe discipled. She spread the gospel. She took care of her own. She fed the poor and took care of the sick. She supplied food and money to missionaries and housed them when they returned. She prayed for each other and encouraged them in Christ. She met for communion and eating, and I’m sure, laughter and tears.

She healed nations.

Now, we sit in a nation, one that is sick and dying, and I’ve wanted the Church of America to feel the pain our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing, but have realized what an awful thing that is. I only meant it like how we talk to our kids “When I was your age!” as though our experiences might make them different. I wanted the experiences of others who were persecuted to guilt the American church into feeling bad about herself, and maybe even wanted us to “suffer” a little more and grow up.

There might be some truth in that. We have a tendency to be spoiled. Our freedom has made us comfortable and we can easily miss the suffering around the world, but that’s not true for all of us.

Obviously

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We have more than a great opportunity here. We have a great gift, obligation, responsibilty as the Church to be the turning tide of our Nation, and to be the ones who fund other other nations to take care of the displaced, the refugee, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. We, as millions of believers in Jesus, have the time, resources, technology, and freedom to be those healing leaves, not only to the world, but to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our politicians, to our enemies.

No more do I say, “Bring on the persecution and watch us scatter!” No, I say,

Bring on the Holy Spirit and watch us explode!

I pray the prayer of the founding Church,

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

And I pray, that through our unity, the same thing will happen among us:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We still live in a free country. We still have the freedom to pray and gather and stand up in boldness. Not in anger, not out of guilt, but in a great unity of believers, full of love and hope and faith, so that we will be filled with the Spirit to expand the kingdom. While we are in this freedom, let us not squander it. I pray we take advantage of it.

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And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22

 

Why We Don’t Pray

209I’ve sat silent before God, unable or unwilling to talk. He’s been in my heart’s peripheral, while being on my blog’s front page, my next tweet, my sunset Instagram.

I lift my hands before him in church, and then find myself looking around to see if anyone else has their hands up. Losers with your hands in your pocket! Don’t you know who we are singing to! *fixes shirt* Oh! I’m worshipping. La-tee-da! She’s pretty. I’m hungry. *guilt for the judgment filled loser thought*

I sit to pray and seek God for my life and others. *we need milk and creamer and some brussel sprouts* Thoughts fly through my head. *oh my word, it’s dirty under that couch!* Humanity wins over the spirit. The pull on my mind to pay attention and “fix my eyes on Jesus” can be annoying. I can be very mean to myself about how easy it is for me to bear the weight of the Beheadings in my chest, and in my next thought wonder how on earth I’m going to ever find the right pair of jeans!

We are tragic. We are messy. We are beautiful. We are full of hope. We are tired. We are wired. We are longing for things to be drastically different, and then are swallowed up in the joy that things can be calm and clean and the same.

We want to eat ourselves silly on books and blogs that feed a peaceful and carefree, full-of-Jesus, all-about-me life.

We want it easy. We so desperately wish things were easy! I know I do. I want the white-walled life with the right lighting and soft hues. I want the life that polishes Jesus and makes him my pillow, my comfort, my peace. We desire to have a kind-hearted, blissfully balanced life full of complementary colors coupled with the right chairs and blankets.

God, I want that.

But, it doesn’t fit what I see is the call to follow Christ in the Word. That? That’s messy. That’s challenging and wild and crazy and really irritating because it goes so much against what I want. And the mess in my heart is just messier. How desperate I am to surrender to him. Just give up because the more I say I am a Christ follower, the more I realize there is no pretty way to do it. And I want to do things his way more than I want the cushy life that begs for me to run after it. I really do want to follow him.

 

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There is indeed a time to center and let the Holy Spirit fill the space in my life that is nothing but all the space in me. There is no God-sized hole in my heart because God isn’t in the business of filling holes. He is in the business of fulfilling his glory in our lives. He wants to dominate. Take over the life he died for. Have complete control. Fill the fullest measure.

There are no God-sized holes. How trite. How dare we use such pathetic descriptions of what we are without God.

If we have any holes in us that need to be filled by God it should be the unending black hole of desperation for his presence. Moses did not even want to go the promised land without God. The promised land! All that was promised, all the dreams, all the hopes, all the stuff that God told him would be his was nothing if God was not there.

Can I say the same thing? If I looked just at tomorrow, just tomorrow, never mind any dream I may have, never mind any goal I might have prepared, would I say, “I cannot go to tomorrow if You are not with me.”

What does that say about my today? What does that say about what and how I pray? What does that say about my intimacy with Jesus? The answer to that question leads us to look at how personal and seriously we take this intimate, messy-life thing we call prayer.

Taking a few moments to take inventory on the reasons I haven’t prayed in the past (or not so distant yesterday), I came up with a short list.

 

Maybe we don’t pray because…

 

we do not think that He is everything we need, not only for us, but for the world. Is he really everything you need? Or do you “got this”? Could you remove God from all facets of your life and it look the same?

we are swimming in unbelief. We believe that our tomorrows rest on our shoulders. We believe that our talent, our charisma, our connections, our feeds, our blogs, our next thing, can be done in our power, our way. We believe he won’t come through, or that we couple our little strengths with his, like he is a spotter as we lift the weights of ministry. We believe certain things about God and other things about God for other people, but have a heck of a time believing things that he says in his Word about us.

we have been pacified and babied in our walks with Jesus. We have fed each other spoonfuls of grace and love and forgotten to drop on our knees, grab the arm of the person next to us, pull them down and spend our strength in prayer before a holy and awesome God. We’ve forgotten to chew on the sinew of maturity and be grown up in Christ.

we do not see needs beyond our own teeth. And those needs get tiresome and boring and we get sick of hearing ourselves ask for the same thing over and over and then when “it” doesn’t happen, we are pissed and he is a lousy provider.

we forget that we are filled with the Spirit, the same Spirit that hovered over the waters at creation. The same one that dropped life-fire on the men in Acts. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. The same Spirit that is sealed up in us and has the power to stop your breath just after you take the next one. We do not pray because we forget…and we grossly underestimate.

we are blinded by lights and shows of greatness. Great people writing great things and tweeting great stuff. We watch and like and retweet and laugh and applaude and then move on to the next thing like this blog post.

We do not pray because we give time to what really matters to us. Think about what you give your time to. What fills the ticking minutes of your day? I know what fills mine and, wow, I need to put that stupid phone down.

we do not know the Word of God. You cannot pray to a God you do not know and cannot pray for what he wants if you have no idea what his agenda is or what he has even asked you to pray.

we are ignorant. Ignorant because we go day to day without engaging in the tough news of life and putting that up against God’s Word. Ignorant because we do not practice prayer and learn more and more and more.

 

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These judgements are harsh, but I can only say them because I have lived every one of those. They are life-drainers. The only way we will every have a breakthrough in how and what we pray is when we have a breakdown of ourselves and a soul willing to be interrupted and overrun by the great God we say we serve.

We greatly, and I mean, greatly underestimate the power of prayer in our lives, and even more so in the outcomes of what can happen in the world. We dismiss it as something other people do and aren’t even sure about how to do it. But, we must pray. We must change the list of reasons we don’t pray and write a list of reasons that we do pray.

 

So…

We pray because

He is everything we need. Everything. 

we believe. We believe there is nothing in us, or given to us by him, that we can do without him. We believe that he is the only way we can do anything he has called us to. We believe and take him at his Word at every turn of the page and then we bow in prayer in belief that the Holy Spirit is making those things possible in our lives and in the world.

we realize we must grow in maturity and move beyond being babied and coddled and rise up in the power and strength afforded to us.

we see a world in need of Jesus and we have the power to give him to them. We can go and send people into the world, both down the street and into the places where the Gospel has never been heard. We can do that!

we have been given the power and the freedom to do so. Our enemies can take everything from us, but they cannot take the Spirit in us or our freedom to pray. Don’t squander that freedom now, use it like it could be threatened tomorrow.

we are filled with the mighty and awesome and powerful prayer-instilling and prayer-answering Holy Spirit who causes us to fight in the Spirit and know the Word of God so that we can stand against the enemy, send the forces of the Gospel into the darkness, and rise up in strength against persecution and hardship.

we forcefully humble ourselves to be caught up in the greatness of Jesus and not each other.

we realize the importance of it and we give our time and effort to it knowing that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

we have ingested and digested the Word of God so deeply that we cannot not pray because of the truth that dwells in us. The Word of God shows us the greatness of God and we will make our mark in prayer because prayer is where courage is unleashed.

we are incredibly smart and ingenious men and women of God who will not let being ignorant of God’s Word stop us. We learn, we read, we understand, we go after knowledge of Christ in each other and in prayer.

We pray because we know the need is great and our hearts should be so full of fire for the name of God to be displayed that we can do nothing without prayer. We pray because we are so for certain that there is no greater need than the need to pray.

 

So, what do you do?

Find out what to pray.
Learn how to pray. (You’re you. It’s between you and him)
Join with others to pray.
Pray at church.
Pray at home.
Be aware and pray for others.

This list is almost endless. But, if we do not pray, I fear we cut of the very power afforded to us by the Holy Spirit. Will you join me in the great and mysterious wonder of humble and deliberate, life and world altering prayer?

At the end of the age, you’ll be glad you did.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

Spend Yourself in Prayer

DSC_0353Crucified upside down.
Staked.
Burned alive.
Torn apart by lions.
Skinned alive.
Shot.
Beheaded.
Tortured.

No one wants to read that. No one wants to actually believe people are capable of things we hear, have studied in history, in the Bible, and now have seen on our screens.

I’m with you. I’d rather run, hide, pretend it isn’t real and believe that I’m so ill equipped to handle it that I just have to turn away. I don’t want to turn away, but I must. I can’t handle it. I’m way too weak, and honestly, too selfish to want to deal with this! But, I must. We must.

 

We can’t turn away.

 

I sat on my shower floor, exposed and as naked as you can be before the Lord. I prayed for them, for those who are facing those evil eyes, staring out over masks, and those hands holding knives and torches, guns and video cameras. I prayed for the ones that have no voice. I prayed for the ones that we have no idea where they are or what country they are in, but they are threatened, they are being targeted. I prayed for the ones not covered by media, nameless, faceless.

I begged God to send the enemy they face into spasms of spiritual fits because the name of Jesus is being spoken around them. That they would become like King Nebuchadnezzar of old, wild and untamed, lost and foraging in the ground until they recognize the One and Only True God. I prayed that He would cause them visions and dreams so unrelenting that they would beg Him to stop, and they would then know His love. His forgiveness.

 

“Pray for your enemies.” – Jesus

 

 

My head dropped lower and the water poured over my head. I whispered prayers, asking Jesus to tell my brothers and sisters, “We are here. We see you. We love you. We pray that your words would be of Christ. That your words would irritate the enemy, though they slay you. That they only know of Jesus and Who He is because you dared speak. We pray for your strength and boldness. We pray for your unwavering faith and dedication in the face of things we cannot not begin to understand.”

I wished I could whisper prayers in their language, but I was satisfied with knowing He can.

They are facing death. They are facing things we can only imagine and only see on our screens while we sit in our chairs and watch the snow fall. We cannot grasp it.

 

Do we dare pray for such things? If we were facing death as they, what would we be saying? What would we be praying? Pray that for them.

 

Prayer.

You doubt it?
You don’t understand it?
You wonder if it is effective?

Do not think that because you do not understand all of it that it is unproductive and He isn’t listening.

He is.

He wants us to pray. Repent. Drop our ideas of success. Let go of the need to be popular. Go faceless and nameless for the Great Name of Jesus. Blend in to the unity of believers and as one Bride, kneel and pray for the infectious name of Jesus to crawl into the hearts of those who hate and kill.

Ignore platforms and stop counting numbers.
Kneel. Weep. Spend your energy, your wonderful, Spirit-filled powerful energy on asking God to SEND, to GO, to GIVE, to RELIEVE, to IGNITE, to CRACK and PIERCE the darkness!

Spend yourself on behalf of others!

Spend it in prayer. In money. In social media. In whatever way you can. Wear yourself out.

Spend yourself because:

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?…If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Isa. 58

 

Do not think for one minute that your fasting, your prayers, your agony for others is not doing something. These promises mentioned in Isaiah of satisfaction, strength, water, light in the darkness, these come when we spend ourselves on others. These aren’t promises because we have prayed more, or thought more, or dreamed more… these come with pouring ourselves out more and more and more for

 

others.

 

Pray. Get some friends together with an agenda. Get together and kneel and pray, even if you don’t know how to pray…learn. Learn how to pray what God wants you to pray. Stop being afraid that you don’t understand or that you’re not sure. Fight for knowledge of the mysteries of heaven and spend yourself doing it. Loose what is in heaven to earth! Fight for our brothers and sisters in the posture of exhausting prayer. Loose their chains in ways we will never comprehend this side of eternity.

 

For in the end, what will matter most? In the end when the end of days come and we are watching Him in all His glory, will you smile because you…YOU spent your days on behalf of others, interceding in prayer for the lost, broken, persecuted, forgotten, and yes, even your enemy. You tired yourself fighting for them, for Him.

Will you spend your strength, your might, your time, your naked shower time to pray?
Will you let God agitate you and make you uncomfortable?
Will you let him bother you enough that things become a little silly and you worry less?

Talk to Him.
Ask Him to make you a pray-er if you are not. Find out what He says about prayer and then…

 

pray.

Join 21martyrs.com to pray Sunday. Visit the website and join the Church in this.

The Snake Guy was Murdered

Baughmans

Don and Marianne Baughman

The Snake Guy drove me to my junior high on a very stormy day. I can remember being in car and watching the torrential rain slam into the windshield. My seventh grade memory fails me as to why, exactly, he would have taken me that morning. I try and reconstruct what must have happened. I assume he had come over for breakfast, realized that mom was going to have to get out in that weather, and offered to take me since it was on the way to our church. That had to be it. The Snake Guy was back in town visiting our church, telling us stories of what happened on the other side of the world (Africa) and brought with him a slide show and, yes, snakes. He was captivating. And he stayed with my grandparents when he came.

 A few years later I was back a church, this time in high school. I was there making copies for some up and coming very important youth group shindig when my pastor came in to tell me that the Snake Guy had been murdered on his front lawn. Bandits. No reason. Shot dead. He was in that country for Jesus.

Martyred. Don, the Snake Guy. 

I walked down the hall to the sanctuary. The stain glass window faced the West and the sun was just low enough to pierce the colors. The whole room was warm and thick with silence. It was just me, the green carpet and pews, and a glow in the room from the sun. It’s like the light was hugging me. I didn’t ever really know how to comprehend all of it, but I sat on the front pew and cried. Wept. Stunned.

Murdered? Unbelievable.

But, his story is one of thousands. Millions. Those over the years who have died for the name of Jesus. Those who have given their lives so that the name of Jesus would be made famous around the world are by no means a small amount of humanity.

It happens everyday. All the time. When I am shopping for shoes on Amazon or am weeping over the nations, they are dying. Who will go in their place? Maybe some will. Many will rise from the places they fell and take up the cause right there. Over and over the name of Jesus is taken round the world, fulfilling God’s desire that all men would know his name and the redemption he offers.

So, what does the Church do?

What about those of us who live in the States?

What do we do?

We pray. We pray for the power of the Spirit to consume us and show us how to pray and what to pray for. We pray that our strength and vitality to complete the task is armed and made steady. We pray.

We pray…and we pray again.

We study. Most of the Church doesn’t know exactly what God’s desire is for the nations. Start reading. Find out. Take a Perspectives course. Go through “Xplore” with Center for Missions Mobilization. Study the Bible. Read Andrew Murray and John Piper. Learn. Don’t just say, “I don’t know.”! Find out! What IS God’s plan and heart for the nations? If you can’t answer that…find out the answer. (or ask me)

We join. Find out what your local church does to send missionaries around the world. Find out what trips you can go on and do it.

We give. Global impact can only be successful (outside of prayer and commitment) if the Church is not only sharing her time, and prayer, but her money as well. Send. Give money to those who are going into the nations who have yet to hear Christ! Get them there and then support them ferociously.

We go. If you have a burning to see the name of Jesus go into all nations, then by all means, GO! Find a team and join them. Talk to your pastor. Get trained, get support and get out of here!

We wake up. Our society feeds us with the mantra that more is better and your dream is exactly what God wants to do in your life. Man, that sounds amazing. I want him to make me happy and give me a dream to fulfill, but, oh (and I know I am swimming upstream) I struggle with our constant state of “Make my dreams come true, God!” when how many of us are asking, “God, will you make your dreams and passions come to pass and use me to do it?” Church. Wake up. It is HIS dream and HIS passion we should be studying, searching, praying for and living for. Not ours.

Will your 2015 be more about you and your dreams and plans, or will you take the time to find our exactly what God wants from his Church, from you? Will you pray, study, join, give, go and wake up? I pray you do. I pray I do.

Psalm 46:10 I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.