• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Calling

Rebecca and I have close friends that we have known since university days.  Nancy has always been prolific and insightful in her writings.  Monthly emails often contain what I call ‘spiritual gems’.  She has a way of capturing Christ in so much of what happens day to day, and then to use that image as a reminder of our need to ‘speak the Gospel to our hearts’ each day.

Let me quote from one of her emails titled: Calling

Of all the staggering Scriptures, the verse that most staggers me these days is Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” He was heard. Not saved from death, but heard. Isn’t that enough? To be heard by the God of the universe? If it was enough for Christ, how dare it not be enough for me?

At the recent Together for the Gospel conference, we wore these bands:

10,000 people wore the black bands allowing access to the conference. Far fewer people wore the white bands that allowed access to the speakers. How foolish we would have been to have this gift of access and not use it to get notes from and have conversations with the speakers so we could better serve the main participants!

We still have the bands, but we no longer have access to the speakers. I can’t ask John MacArthur what to say to the students about prayer. Chuck can’t ask John Piper about a thorny paragraph he is trying to translate for seminary. But God has given us better-than-white-bands: unlimited access to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)!

What thirsty person, tongue brittle as a leaf in drought, has access to a fountain of pure water but crawls past it? We have access to the life-giving fount, but pass by it if we skip or skimp on prayer.

At first I pondered why she gave the subject line as “calling”.  Then I realized that our calling is first and foremost to God (read Os Guinness, The Call, on that topic) and our main ‘access’ is by our conversation with the Father.

We might say, in other words, that our calling is to bring the nations of the world before the Father’s throne and plead with Him to work in us and through us that many might come to know the Messiah Jesus.

Praying together

Praying together

So, what really happened during our World Team Day of Prayer last week?

Here are a few comments I received back from World Team Global members which I hope will encourage your hearts:

As Spain Team West gathered to pray together on Friday, we enjoyed praying for these 2 people groups and learning more about them. It enabled us to lift our eyes from our own endeavours and surroundings and contemplate others from very different cultures and the challenges of reaching them with the gospel. I sensed it was our privilege to pray for these people groups for God’s Spirit to break through so that others can know the deep love of God.”

We are going to Lorraine who, as you know, is wheelchair bound. It will be an encouragement for her to continue participating in this vital day. After the passing of her husband Paul into glory, our team has shrunk even more. Nevertheless, we carry on with the day of prayer and the work. First things first.”

It is always a special time when I pray for World Team ministries in other parts of the world.  I pray a lot for our WT Americas missionary team, for new people groups and new ministries, but less for other Areas’ needs.  Praying for the Cham and Dadjo opened a new window on what the Lord is doing in other parts of the world, and in a small way, to be a part of what He is doing.”

World Team Canada met for prayer ‘virtually’ and a fair sized group was surprised to have a member of Hook Evangelical Church (UK) join them and explain their church’s passion for the Dadjo and their commitment to pray for this people group for the past 10+ years!

So, what really happened?  I believe we united our hearts in prayer, for God to work in significant ways among the Dadjo and the Cham … and we did this ‘work’ together, all around the globe [a Doodle online calendar was a first start at seeing how we prayed together over the 24-48 hour time period].

Much thanks and gratitude for your participation!  However, let us not forget that this is only the start of the ‘marathon’ of prayer for these two people groups! Press on together!

Running in the rain

In runners speak, we call it the ‘pre-wash’. That’s when you head out for a run and half way through the run, it starts to rain.  What are you going to do?  You have to get back home, so you just run through the rain and take the ‘pre-wash’.

When we woke up on the day of the Florence marathon (November 25th), I could hear the rain falling outside, and it didn’t sound like a slight drizzle.

For 42 kilometers, we got soaked.  This wasn’t just a ‘pre-wash’, but a slogging through the rain for over four hours (in the case of my daughter, a lot less time of running through the rain).

IMG-20181126-WA0009Now, I had linked this run to the challenge that I had gifted to us as a mission: to see significant impact among two unreached people groups in the coming months and year. We had chosen to focus our attention on the Dadjo (Chad) and Cham (Cambodia) peoples.

As I approached kilometer 28 and began to wonder if I could really go the distance because of the rain (the famous ‘wall’ when running a marathon), the thought came to me: ‘Is this what it’s going to be like to pray for the Dadjo and the Cham?  To ‘slog it out’ in prayer in order to see hardened hearts turn to the Creator of the universe?’

Now I don’t want to make a direct parallel between my marathon run and this call to pray for these two people groups, but the call to ‘persevere in prayer’ (Colossians 4:2-4) began to take on new meaning as I sought to keep running even though my mind was yelling for me to stop.

So, what kept me running past kilometer 28?  It was the thought of crossing that finish line in front of the Duomo (the main cathedral).

So, what will keep us ‘running together in prayer’; of persevering in our intercession for the Dadjo and the Cham?

The thought of seeing hundreds of Dadjo and Cham standing before the throne and “crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

It’s time to start ‘running’ together!

The ‘long arm’ of God

touch-of-God-gives-life-to-the-soul-400x320I have always been fascinated by the verse in Isaiah: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” (59:1).  It’s a poetic way of stating that God is not limited, in any way, from doing what pleases Him.  What delights Him most is when His creation attributes glory to Him.  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it: “And in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him.”  God’s desire is that in everything we do, we bring glory to Him (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Here’s the rub: despite our best intentions something often stands in our way from turning all praise back to God.  The prophet Isaiah goes on to say in the following verse: “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and you sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (59:2)  It’s our inability to do what we know we should do. It’s the separation we experience when we know we have brought shame upon our Father.

Yet, we often ‘plough on’, believing that the weight of the good things we will do for God will compensate for our warped heart motivation.  We don’t stop to consider what might be ‘going wrong’ in our hearts.

The extraordinarily good news is that Jesus broke down that ‘wall of separation’ and restored us to live in community with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Father ‘delighted in bruising His Son’ so that His glory now covers us in robes of righteousness, giving us access into God’s presence.  The ‘long arm’ of God has reached down, and reaches down again each day to draw us back to Himself: to experience His forgiveness and to give us a heart to offer back to Him our thanks and praise.

Earlier this year, I ‘gifted’ the World Team Global community the challenge of impacting two unreached people groups this year in some significant way. We have had good conversations so far about who those people groups might be.  However, prayer is our first, and continual, step in this process.  Join me the 7th of June at 15h00 Paris time!

 

Join me for five (5) minutes for a ‘worldwide concert of prayer’ this coming Thursday at 15h00 Paris time. Wherever you might be at that time, would you stop and simply pray:

God, show us what people groups, among whom we currently work, that You long for World Team to impact this year?

Spread the word to others that they might join us for 5!

Gifting the challenge – HOW?

One of the other questions that has come up when talking about the ‘Gifting a Challenge’ project is: how are we going to identify the two people groups on which to focus and the indicators for determining impacthow bis

It’s a great question.

In the first series of online forums, we asked two questions:

  • Which one or two UPGs (that WT is working with) would you suggest we focus on and the reasons why?
  • What 5 markers would demonstrate concretely the impact of our efforts among those one or two people groups?

What I found interesting was that there a fair amount of convergence in the answers given to these questions.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised since it’s something many have been praying about for some time.

The HOW, I believe, is discovered by gathering people from the WT Global community to enter into conversation with one another and asking the Lord to lead us as we talk.

We need you to work this process further.  I hope you’ll join us on one of the next online forums.

Information on times and the link will be sent soon.

Praying ‘online’

onlineprayergroupsI was part of an ‘online prayer’ meeting this past Wednesday.  Sounds kind of strange and impersonal.  However, seeing everyone’s face around the virtual table and being able to mobilise people from three different regions of the world to pray was a definite encouragement and certainly a plus to spend this time praying ‘virtually’ together.

Our prayer facilitator shared a brief word from the Scriptures, emphasizing how prayer is not something we should do out of duty, but out of a sense of opportunity to meet together around the possibilities that our great God has for His work and people in this world.  Now the first part of that insight is something we all know, but it was that second piece about ‘opportunity’ that stood out to me in a new way.

We were given the opportunity to have our awareness raised as to what God was doing in one part of this world and raise our voices to pray for that part of the world, joining others around the world in that work.

The World Team Day of Prayer is one such ‘opportunity’ for us.  Maybe we should re-name that time to something like: Join the WT Prayer Opportunity?  No matter what we might name it, there is plenty of room for innovation and taking our global prayer points and praying them with our teammates, our larger team, or even virtually with people from different parts of WT.

However, it’s done, it’s our opportunity to ask God will to fulfill His mission through His Church and His people in the world.

Praying Galatians

Yesterday, the WT France team held a ‘24 hr prayer vigil’. Team members were asked to choose an hour slot when they would be willing to pray for the members and work of the Franceteam.

The unique feature was that each participant was asked to read through the book of Galatians during his/her hour of the prayer vigil and use it as a guide in his/her prayers for other team members.

Praying Galatians. That was a unique twist.galatians-300x300

As I read and prayed, a number of verses seemed to come together to frame my prayers for those living and working here.  I could best summarize it by saying I began to pray for the Franceteam members that they would remember how ‘they were called in the grace of Christ’ and that they would freely share this message of grace with others, trusting God to call His people to Himself.

When the work of salvation is truly a work of grace, it is not tied to us and our efforts. God who poured out His grace into our hearts will be faithful to carry out that work in the hearts of others.  We are simply God’s ‘megaphone’ to proclaim to wonders of that grace, pleading with others to receive the gift of His love. All the while knowing that unless God opens one’s spiritual eyes, men and women will choose the darkness over the amazing light of His presence.

Praying Galatians was a unique way to guide our prayers yesterday.

If you’re feeling a bit discouraged or if you’re finding yourself starting to think that the ministry somehow ultimately ‘falls on your shoulders’, then take some time to read through the book of Galatians and use it to guide your prayers for your own heart.