Prayer

30Jul

Why We Are Going

In ten days my wife Susan and I will join three others from our church on a short-term mission trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand where we will partner with missionaries who were sent out of our church. There are a lot of different perspectives on short term mission trips. Some people view them as a waste of time and resources while others see them as strategic in advancing the gospel across the globe. Short-term mission trips can certainly be hijacked by poor planning, improper motivations, unequipped participants, and unrealistic expectations among whole host of other contributors. However, I believe our upcoming trip to Thailand will be strategic in advancing the gospel for at least three reasons:

Encouragement –  Everyone needs encouragement. When you consider the challenges missionaries face living cross culturally, away from many comforts, far away from family and friends, with the task of learning a new language and way of life, the need for encouragement is typically heightened. We are praying our visit to our missionary friends will strengthen them in the same way the Apostle Paul’s short term visits strengthened other disciples, “When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phyrgia, strengthening all the disciples.” Acts 18:22-23

Timely, personal encouragement can be a game changer for those on the front lines of gospel advancement. Pray that we will be effective at encouraging our missionary friends.

Evangelism – I’m crazy excited about what God may do as we share the gospel in Chiang Mai. Taking direction from our missionary friends, we’ve crafted a plan to conduct spiritual surveys that close by sharing the gospel or inviting them to come to an event where our missionary friend will share the gospel in Thai. Part of this plan was inspired by a visit to a coffee shop I made last year when I was visiting them. I noticed a coffee mug on the shelf from one my favorite coffee shops in NYC and struck up a conversation with the barista who happened to speak english. The conversation flowed so naturally and a seed was planted in my mind. What if we went to the areas in Chiang Mai (like that coffee shop) where there are lots of english speakers and engaged in dozens if not hundreds of conversations that funneled toward sharing the gospel? The worst case scenario is that we would further equip our missionary friends to know where God may be working and what kind of engagement the Thai people may or may not respond to. The best case scenario however — imagine with me — is if a church was planted as a result of gospel conversations! This is the audacious prayer I’m praying as we go! Join us in prayer — that we may be humble, culturally sensitive and appropriate, and evangelistically faithful and fruitful.

Exposure – Lastly, we are going because God’s people need more exposure to what God is doing around the world. One may quickly and rightly rebuttal that in our day of incredible technologies we have more opportunities for exposure than ever before. Though, videos and live video smart phone applications abound, there is simply nothing like being incarnate on the ground. When we walk among the unreached peoples of the world and experience the great need for the gospel and more laborers, something is awakened in us. Seeing the people is more powerful than hearing the statistics. First hand exposure, leads us to pray for the nations more faithfully and fervently. First hand exposure propels us to give more intentionally and sacrificially to missions. Through first hand exposure, we become story tellers of God’s global movement. We tell stories of the need which causes more awareness and concern for global mission. Short-term trips transform into life long callings.

Would you pray for us, as we go? When done right, short term mission trips can strategically advance the gospel across the globe. This is what we are praying for. This is why we are going.

19Jun

What Adults Can Learn from Kids Camp

My three oldest kids leave tomorrow for kids camp. Jack (9) went last year and had an incredible time. Elliott (7) and Lillie (7) will venture into the woods for a week away from Mom and Dad, studying the bible, playing games, fishing, worshipping and so much more. Jack has been so enthusiastic about camp the past month, you’d think he was in training to the be the camp director. Just the other day he told Elliott, “Now Elliott, you need to be prepared to be a little sad on the last day. Its pretty sad when you have to leave.”  All my life growing up though, camp was always a highlight. I remember when I was in middle school not wanting to leave church camp to go to little league all-stars. Simply put, church camp is EPIC!

I actually think we adults can learn a thing or two from our kids who go to kids camp. Here are three things adults can learn from kids camp:

Hobbies are helpful. Many of us as adults have become workaholics. We are way too stressed out by all the demands of life. In extreme cases, we become grumpy and angry and it spills out onto those we love the most. Most of us know we need healthier rhythms if we are going really flourish in life. Is it possible a hobby could be helpful to you? My kids at camp this week will participate in fishing, archery, arts and crafts, and competitive games and will love every minute of it. These activities are part of what makes camp so awesome. Hobbies are helpful to adults as well. They keep us active, distracted from the stress and help us maintain healthy rhythms in life. Hobbies give our brains a break from the grind. Have you found yourself a little stressed out lately? Have you been a little on edge. The solution could be as easy as taking up a hobby. The options are endless.

Community is hard but worth it. Imagine sleeping on a single mattress in a wood cabin with no running water in the middle of the woods for 5 days. In this setting, you learn things about people and people learn things about you that could never be known in any other way. But these living conditions are hard. Walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night down a little trail in the woods does not fill most people’s definition of fun. There is something about this experience that forges lifelong friendships with these kids. Community begins early and their experience in community runs deep. Am I going to now suggest that adults need to go rough it for a week with another group of adults to forge “community”? Not necessarily, though I wouldn’t discourage it. Simply put, we all need community. We all need to be fully known and fully loved. It may be that your first step is inviting someone to lunch and trading life stories. It may be that you invite some friends over for dinner and enjoy a time of extended prayer together. Either way, at camp people get to know you in a very personal way, and this is what God wants for all of us, even us adults.

Slow down. Be still. Seek God. This is exactly what our kids will be doing this week. And this is exactly what God wants all of us to regularly do. The scriptures have several compelling examples of Jesus slowing down and being still to seek the Father (Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23) and the Psalmist actually commands us to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Why would we send our kids off for a week to slow down and hear the voice of God and then neglect habits or rhythms like this ourselves? Tomorrow night, all the kids will gather at camp and they’ll review the schedule together. There are specific times on the schedule mapped out for bible study and worship. This week of camp was calendared almost a year ago. That is how it will get done in your life too. Schedule it. Calendar a Saturday morning away at the lake for no other purpose than seeking God. Sign up for that next discipleship retreat you hear promoted at your church. Find a good marriage conference to go to, register for it and mark your calendar. Get away. Slow down. Be still. Seek God.

For all those adults that are going to camp this week to make these EPIC experiences come to life for my kiddos and dozens of others, THANK YOU. We’re praying for an amazing week!

4Feb

Continual Repentance

O God of grace,

Though has imputed my sin to my substitute,

and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,

clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,

decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

my best prayers are stained with sin;

my penitential tears are so much impurity;

my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;

my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

 

I need to repent of my repentance;

I need my tears to be washed;

I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,

no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,

for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

and always returning home as a prodigal,

always saying, Father, forgive me,

and thou art always bringing forth

the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

every evening return in it,

go out to the day’s work in it,

be married in it,

be wound in death in it,

stand before the great white throne in it,

enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

the exceeding sinfulness of sin,

the exceeding righteousness of salvation,

the exceeding glory of Christ,

the exceeding beauty of holiness,

the exceeding wonder of grace.

 

(This prayer was taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Edited by Arthur Bennett. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust.)

7Jul

GLOBAL LITTLE MINDS.

I’m amazed at the global perspective that living in NYC for 5 years gave my little 7 year old, Jack. So many of his friends from school were from different countries or visited family in other countries during breaks. We often had people from other countries eating holiday meals at our apartment. Jack has maps of the world and different countries all over the walls in his bedroom. The other night we decided we’d begin praying for a different country every night, finding it on his map. Tonight was our first night and he chose Cyprus because a little girl from his class in NYC, Anna, was moving to Cyprus for four years. So I googled a quick prayer search for Cyprus and this was the first video that Jack and I watched. It was truly a priceless moment with my little man tonight that left me in tears.

I’m so grateful that at 7 years old, Jack sees the world. It is my hope and prayer for Jack, that he’ll go anywhere, at anytime, to do anything for Jesus. Is that your prayer for your children? Begin praying it now and watch God change your heart. Another pray you can pray for your children is “God save them, send them where you want them to go, and spend them out for your glory.” If you pray it for 20 years, then when your 20 year old daughter comes home and tells you she’s moving to Afghanistan to love the people there and share Jesus with them, your heart will be prepared to send her.

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