Thursday, June 26, 2008

World Peace

Every Wednesday and Friday we have been setting up a prayer table for people at Grand Concourse and Fordham RD in the Bronx. We let them write their prayers and then pray with them right out on the street. I’ve written about this before but something very interesting happened today at the prayer table. For the first hour everyone that came to the table wanted to pray for world peace. I know it seems cliché because of countless “Miss America” contestants. However we weren’t talking to people trying to suck up to the entire country, and they are certainly no Miss America contestants.

We were talking to people with broken families, drug addictions, health problems, friends and family in prison, gang members, you name it. And what do they want from God? World peace. No one had ever come to us with this prayer, but today everyone wanted it. I felt like God was trying to share something with us.

So we prayed for world peace.

I find it remarkable in a culture where there are so many physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that people (some Christian, many not) look past their own needs and pray for the needs of the people of the world.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Interestingly enough, after the first hour, everyone wanted prayers for their families. Health problems, broken relationships, rebellious children, salvation of family members, ect. God was teaching us an important lesson today. We can change the world, but not if we don’t start with ourselves and our own family. Our catalyst for change? God. How? Pray.

Pray for your family. Pray for the world. Don’t just pray for world peace. Pray for the Prince of Peace to be known and worshipped across the world. That will bring peace. That will bring Salvation. Wasn’t it Jesus that said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are called to go out into the world and bring the Prince of Peace wherever we go.

1 John 5:4 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” I think there is nothing God wants more than to see His children come back to Him. So lets pray that it happens… with confidence in His action.

Beware though. He may just choose you to make it happen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Time with the Father...

The Lord has been taking me on quite the journey. The movement has been from what I “clearly knew” was full time worship ministry, to a mix of campus ministry, and the 24/7 prayer movement, and now he’s putting this church planting thing all over my map. In the same way that I didn’t even know what campus ministry was, nor the 24/7 prayer movement, God has just been throwing church planters at me left and right. My plan for this summer originally was to do some sort of campus ministry research/exploring along the West Coast. What did God decide to do with me instead? A church planting internship in the Northeast.

He has a funny way of turning our plans upside down. Maybe that’s just the problem, we think they are “our plans.” Instead the Lord says, “I know the plans I have for you.” They are the Lord’s plans. How foolish to think otherwise.

That being said, I’m not worried about the future. I’ve done enough of that. When we start to worry about the future and make our own plans I am convinced that God turns them around just to remind us who is in control.

However I am still a planner. And that’s okay. I’m not worried about the future, but to not think about it, and prepare for it would be foolish as well. Jesus prepared for His ministry by spending 40 days alone in the desert. A man could do some serious thinking in the desert. I’m sure most (or all) of His time was spent in conversation with His Dad. Asking the Father what His plans were for Him. Submitting to His Dad in every way. And being totally satisfied by the Father’s love.

This is the kind of planning I would like to do. And so I have been finding a good amount of time to be alone (or as alone as you can be in this city). Time reflecting on my experience here in the Bronx. Time assessing my ministry in Abilene over the past 3 years. Time thinking about my ecclesiology. Time talking to the Father. Time soaking up what He has to say back. Time meditating on His word. Time to be still… and just know who He is, and who I am as one of His sons (Heb 2:11).

I’ll share more detail on these thoughts later… Keep praying for my clarity in the search for His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I’ll cover you! Move in! Move in!

Last weekend we took a group of 20 teens from the Bronx camping and playing paintball in Pennsylvania. Only 2 of them had ever played paintball and none of them had been camping. Growing up in Texas this just seemed crazy! It was so funny to see these tough kids who grew up in the Bronx be scared out of there mind when it got dark in the woods. One of them threw their flashlight into the woods when he “heard a bear.”

I went on a little hike with two of the guys and two girls. We hiked through the enormously tall trees of PA to this little brook. It was beautiful! The water was crystal clear and they were all loving every bit of it. We had some good conversation about creation, life and the NFL along the way. That night we had a short small group discussion about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus and God’s endless supply of 2nd chances. I talked to one of the guys who was asking lots of questions afterwards to see if he wanted to meet up regularly to talk about Jesus and read some stories about him. He sounded like it was something he really wanted to do. More on that later…

The next day we played 8 hours of paintball in the countries top paintball venue. It was pretty incredible. Heath and I taught them some lessons about the power of teamwork. Well not verbally, but by the way we took them all out working together haha. I wont say anything else about paintball except that you can call me Rambo now if you want…

The teens talked about nothing but “war stories” (of paintball) the whole 3 ½ hour ride back to NYC. Building relationships with these guys was definitely the highlight of the weekend. I look forward to getting to know them more. They are getting together on Saturday for a teen house church meeting. Most of them have either never been or are not regulars. We are going to hang out with them in the park this Sunday afternoon. Maybe play some backyard football or frisbee.

Be in prayer that these relationships wont fade after a weekend together in the woods, but that they will continue to grow together as friends and in relationship with the Father.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Take it to the Streets!

Yesterday was simply amazing! If you followed any of the prayer movement stuff at ACU last semester then imagine that on the biggest intersection in the Bronx, NY. Well, sort of… We didn’t have a tent or anything, but we did have a table, and an incredible God. We set up a table on top of a bridge on one of the busiest intersections in the Bronx, Grand Concourse and Fordham RD. On the table we had several Bibles to hand out, some literature about the Bronx Fellowship, free conversational English lessons, and Camp Shiloh, and a bifold dry-erase board with the words “Can we pray for you?” and “Write your prayers here.” The 5 of us interns also wrote our prayers on the board.

Three of our team members did a prayer walk around the surrounding area for an hour while Clarissa and I stood at the table. As we stood we prayed that the Lord’s presence would be great in that place, that people would be drawn in by His presence, and that people would be open to share their brokenness, among prayers of thanksgiving and other things.

We stood there for a good 10 minutes feeling a bit awkward and getting some strange looks and sneering comments, before anyone stopped to say anything. The first two ladies to stop were sisters and one of their sons was in ICU with cancer. They wrote it on the board, so I asked them about him and asked if I could pray with them. As I started to pray the Spirit really took hold of my words. Words of comfort, compassion, healing and great faith flowed out of my mouth like never before. They thanked us for the prayers and for being there and went on their way.

While I was praying with the two sisters another young lady, Kim, came up to talk to Clarissa. She wrote a prayer for her kids and stated to ask the both of us about what we were doing. She thought it was especially cool, and wanted more information. She even asked us if we (the church) would come to her house. (Since that is what we do) We enthusiastically agreed! She gave us her contact info, took a Bible, and went on her way.

Then there was Alexia. He was about 24-28 year old guy and he simply came up and wrote, “Lord, be with me in this time of crisis.” I asked Alexia what he meant, “time of crisis.” And he replied telling me about how he was about to move into a homeless shelter because he was being kicked out of his apartment. I asked him if I could pray there on the street for him and he agreed. Once again the Spirit took over my prayer. As I prayed, he interrupted and said, “I don’t have a job either, could you pray for that too” so we continued to pray. He thanked me and jogged across the street to smoke a cigarette on the next corner.

Thanks be to the God who answers prayers and loves His children.

Keep those prayers coming!

P.S. Kim called us before we were able to call her. She wants to study the Bible with us.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In the Bronx

I'm sitting in the airport at Kansas City waiting for my connecting flight to New York City, and the Lord is already blessing me with conversation. We had a pretty empty flight, and it was at 6:25AM so everyone was asleep, except me and Malloi (it means butterfly). She was a 25 year old refugee from the Congo who works in the George Bush Tollway. Their country has been at war for many years. Her mom took her and her siblings to the US out of fear for their lives in 2002. We talked about families, my brothers wedding, her recent wedding, the war in Congo, and the book of Revelation. Trust me, I didn't bring that up! Haha. I'm not big on "end times evangelism." But apparently that's what God wanted us to talk about this morning. She asked why I was going to NYC so I told her about my internship with the house churches. She seemed very interested but was personally more into the TV evangelist thing. We talked for a while about some of those guys and our disappointments with how they have represented Christians. We talked about Jesus and she told me how important prayer had been in her life, living in a country under attack. We only had an hour together in the plane, but it was a great start to the summer. Many more conversations to come. Time to hop on the next plane!

Sooooo... I typed that and then forgot to send it off. It is now Tuesday...

The first two days (Sunday and Monday) I was feeling very overwhelmed. I've been told a million times, "there are people every where in NYC." Well, they were right! I think its kind of a mix of the massive amounts of people, the huge culture shift, the non-stop city, family, friends, and Sara being back home, and the fact that its hard to be alone that have really shaken me the past couple of days. But today was so much better. I talked to Heath (one of the guys on my team) and called Sara to talked to her about it and let her pray for me.

Today was much better. I started to get a better picture of what I would be doing. I got to visit Bronx Community College for the first time (it was a short visit) but it still helped me get a little bit of a feel for the campus. So I am very excited about some ministry opportunities there. I am going to go explore and prayer walk the rest of the campus and Lehman College tomorrow afternoon to see where the Lord is leading me and where their might be some opportunities to break into some of the smaller communities within the campuses.

Pray for my awareness to the Spirits movings that He would lead me to the place He is already at work. Pray that I would be bold with my faith and that the harvest would be ripe. Most of all, pray for more workers.

Much Love.