Category Archives: PRAYER

A Ripe Harvest Requires Action!

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” Luke 10:2 ESV

rooftop teaching

Teaching church planters on a rooftop.

I saw a ripe harvest field in Nepal recently. Susan and I had the privilege of meeting with 1100 Nepalese church planters in Kathmandu early in February — most are intending to plant their churches in villages that have never had a Christian witness before! Of all the countries in the world, Christianity is growing the fastest in Nepal.

Susan washing feet.

Susan washing feet.

We could feel God’s presence in this place.

We saw God’s hand at work.

We witnessed the hunger of these leaders intent on helping others know about salvation through Christ.

We are soberly aware of how big the harvest field is in Nepal.

In the last few years, Christianity has grown from 0.1% Christian to about 3% right now. That’s impressive, but it also compels us to reach the 97% who are still unreached. With Converge Worldwide’s close partner in ministry, The Timothy Initiative (TTI), a goal of 100,000 new churches in the next ten years has been stated. It’s a huge field that’s very ripe. We just need harvesters.

Jesus’ statement reminds me of a few important biblical principles:

  • Jesus sees the harvest and longs for the harvest to be brought in.
  • Jesus tells us to pray that He would send workers into the harvest. It’s not our primary job to send, but it is our primary job to pray. This comes first.
  • Jesus tells us to pray earnestly. This is not an afterthought type of praying that Jesus compels us to engage in.
  • Jesus compares this situation to a harvest. In the agricultural world, everyone knows that a harvest season is always frighteningly finite in time. You work as hard and as fast as possible to bring the harvest in while the harvest is still available. Urgency is stressed for the task at hand.

What action can be taken to be an integral part of reaping the harvest in Nepal?

  1. Pray for workers and pray about your part.
  2. Contact us about adopting a people group in Nepal or about helping to plant a church or churches. A $300 one-time investment will plant an indigenous led self-sustaining church in this part of the world. That’s an out-of-this-world investment! Write to us at missions@convergeww.org

 

 

 

7 Things to Ask Forgiveness For

I’m sending you to a like-minded leader today. You’ve GOT TO READ Perry Noble’s Forgive Us, Lord! Consider a few very worthy and tangible things to ask forgiveness for in relation to ministry and life.

  1. Praying small prayers
  2. Letting Disney out dream us
  3. Allowing Apple to out innovate us
  4. Allowing a rising stock market to celebrate more than we do
  5. Allowing credit card companies to out market us
  6. Allowing MTV to reach a generation we seem to forget
  7. For allowing missionaries to use culture on foreign fields to reach the community in which they are in…but when that same approach is done in America we call it compromise!

This is GOOD STUFF! Perry is right on. Are we?

All the Difference

God listens.

The Psalmist states, “To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit,” Psalm 28:1.

David declares the critical difference that a listening God makes in our lives–it puts us on a totally different tragectory than those who do not follow after God. As stated here, if God doesn’t respond to our “call”, we will be like all the others that “have gone down to the pit.”

There are three parts to the above statement:

  1. We call.
  2. God listens.
  3. God communicates.

This, of course, is not news to us. We know these things! However, what we may have overlooked in the “equation” is how desperately we need to hear God’s voice. If we fail to hear from God, we default to a pathway on which godless people tread. We will “be like those who have gone down to the pit.” So call out to Him, know that He hears you (especially when you feel like He’s absent), and listen closely to how He responds.

God speaks in many ways…

  • His Word
  • Circumstances
  • Whispers–those easily overlooked directives and thoughts He places in your mind
  • Through godly people
  • Divine appointments
  • Unscripted opportunities
  • Health or non-health (our bodies tell us things on God’s behalf…)
  • An infinite number of other ways, too

So, call to Him, know He hears, and listen very closely to what He speaks in return. It makes ALL the difference.

The Spirit Intercedes

This may not be what you think.

I had something quite unique happen yesterday. I shared with a “person of great influence” what I believed to be a God-arranged opportunity for global impact in another region of the world. I explained what I saw and exprienced, what I believed to be blatant opportunities to bring unreached people groups to Jesus, and how we might strategically see that take place. It wasn’t that there was resistance to my assessment, but neither was there hearty support. In the afternoon, in an all-staff meeting, I gave a report of my trip, what I had seen and experienced, the needs and opportunities I saw, and shared pictures of the wonderful and lost people. And God’s Spirit came down. He just gripped me and impacted pretty much all of us in the room. And had quite an effect on my “person of great influence.” In fact, after the presentation, he said, “I think we’ve all fallen in love with these people today and that God seems to be arranging a divine opportunity.”

The information was the same as earlier. In the second setting, however, the Holy Spirit clearly did a work among us.

  • He opened our hearts.
  • He helped us to feel what Jesus feels.
  • He engaged us to the opportunity at hand.
  • He did what no person can do.

The Spirit intercedes. Indeed.

God Gets His Work Done

I’m always amazed at how God gets His work done. I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t need me. He just chooses to involve me.” I don’t completely agree with this statement…or even its sentiment. I’m convinced that God does need me. He works through people. That’s His chosen method. That’s why Jesus said to His disciples, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send workers into the harvest.” It is the only way the harvest would be brought in. He needs me and He needs you!

He needs us to be broken and usable, too. As 1 Corinthians 1 states, “God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God,” verses 27-29. He also said, through the Apostle Paul, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me,” 1 Corinthians 12:9.

When we’re dependent upon Him, He unleashes the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Just yesterday, I met with three other men from across the U.S. to work on a very complex ministry action document–one that has great potential for disaster, but also for significant Kingdom impact. We began the day acknowledging our weakness (and we meant it because we all felt inferior for the task) and seeking God’s intervention. All I can say is that God did it! What was produced from one very hard day of work is amazing. All of us in the group were keenly aware that God had stepped into our meeting–that these ideas, concepts, and strategies were from Him. The results are beautiful. Only time will reveal the long-term impact of God’s intervention upon our huddle.

I’m always amazed at how God gets His work done. Through people–ordinary, weak, dependent people. He somehow breaks into the finite dimensions in which we live–the limited thoughts we can produce–and unleashes His power to accomplish surprising and wonderful things.

 

 

Great Leaders

Leadership is hard. It’s not an easy calling. Some of the greatest leaders in all history were those who risked their lives to get Israel into the Promised Land. Moses was strong, determined, and humble. Joshua was focused, courageous, and influential. Caleb was fearless, radical, and a model of faithfulness.

Consider this: These great leaders had few successes for most of their lives.

Check out the situation right after the 12 spies returned from Canaan with their report:

So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”  Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes,” Numbers 14:4-6.

As I consider the painful events of failing to enter by faith, I’m reminded of some critical leadership principles:

  1. Great leaders often become great leaders through heart-wrenching failures.
  2. Great leaders need to be sold out to God’s cause and God’s plan no matter what. Even when everyone turned against them, they neither wavered nor compromised. Their conviction to enter the land remained strong. They had heard from God, knew His character, and were unmoved by the whims of those they were leading.
  3. Great leaders must demonstrate humility. “They fell on their faces.” Just think of how strongly you must believe in something to demonstrate this kind of sorrow in front of thousands you are leading. But they did it. They didn’t try an new tactic to change their minds. They didn’t manipulate the people or “cut a deal.” They responded to God on the behalf of the people with absolute brokenness.
  4. Great leaders develop great leaders. Caleb and Joshua, the only two who returned from their reconisance mission with faith instead of fear, “tore their clothes” in a similar act of remorse and repentance as Moses. As difficult as this all was, this tradgedy formed a bond which lasted for 40 years of God-honoring service together. Moses mentored these young men into godly, courageous, sold-out God-followers–who also became great leaders of people.

I often hear people say, “I’m not a leader.”

  • First, everyone can lead someone…and usually does, whether they know it or not.
  • Secondly, become one. God is looking for men and women who are ready to sell out for the Great Cause and lead a movement for His glory.

It’s not easy. Great leaders are formed in the everyday crucibles of life. Choose faith over fear, risk over safety, God’s promises over your own preferences.

 

God Speaks

Numbers 7 is not a popular chapter in the Bible. Inspired? Yes. Interesting or exciting? No. In fact, while reading Numbers chapter seven recently, I wondered why all of this “stuff”needed to be in there. It contains a detailed account of “Nahshon son of Amminadab, leader of the tribe of Judah” presenting his offering at the dedication of the tabernacle altar. The offering details consist of things like silver platters, choice flour moistened with olive oil, and the number of cattle and goats they presented as an offering. And then, it’s repeated eleven more times. Basically, identical sections x 12.

Really? Is this a test to see how spiritual we are–how hungry we are for God’s Word? The one who reads every word of this with interests gets God’s gold star for the day!

However, as I pondered these verses–and the amazing verse at the very end (that’s coming)–I was reminded of some really important truths God wants us to know and live by. So here are the four:

  1. We engage in lots of ministry for God without experiencing noticeable intervention from God. The nation of Israel–all twelve tribes–obeyed God faithfully without experiencing any great life-changing results. No voice, no thunder, no miracles, no obvious divine blessing. They simply did what was right and offered it as a gift of faith to their holy God. We are called to do this too. Day after day. Even when it seems nothing great is happening or that God hasn’t “shown up” for awhile, if we are doing what is good and right, we just keep doing it. Faithfully. We engage in lots of ministry for God without experiencing noticeable intervention from God.
  2. Affirmation by representation leads to holistic implementation. What? Just think of it. All twelve tribes were represented (and recorded) in the process of dedicating the tabernacle altar to God. Everyone needed to affirm this new ministry “tool” and method of worship. It was not a Moses only deal. Everyone needed to have a chance, even through their leader’s representation at that altar, to affirm their dedication to what God was doing. As a result, there was an ownership by all of Israel. Everyone had a piece of the altar. This is a great principle in ministry too! Get everyone engaged and affirming. It leads to a movement that honors God.
  3. Faithfulness in the small things results in God’s favor in the important things. The small things like silver platters, oil mixed with olive oil, and choice bulls and goats. The small things like small group preparation, notes to the hurting, a meal for the sick, and moments of authentic prayer when no-one else is watching. And then we find God’s favor in the important things. At the end of this chapter, God speaks audibly to Moses. Which leads to number 4.
  4. God loves to speak to godly diligent leaders. Moses was certainly godly, but he was also diligent to be sure the dedication went right, that all were involved somehow, that God was honored, that the people were obidient, that every detail was properly executed. He was diligent. And then we read verse 89, “Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord , he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord  spoke to him from there.”

That last verse is not placed there by accident. It’s like an exclamation point at the end of a seemingly boring chapter in the Bible. God speaks to those who are faithful, godly, diligent.

And I LOVE hearing God’s voice in whatever form. What about you?

 

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

Meeting Jesus at Christmas

They brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord…and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:22-25, 36-38

I feel so privileged to be a pastor. I have seen the hand of God in such powerful ways through the years. Like the small infant so weak from a heart defect that doctors could do nothing. A prayer for healing and anointing with oil unleashed the unlimited power of God in this baby’s life. She’s now a teenager living for Jesus. Or the carousing, womanizing drinker who prayed to accept Jesus as his savior and Lord…and is experiencing a radical transformation in his life to this day. Or the demonized woman whose satanic power was frightening…who experienced the greater freeing power of Jesus Christ. I could go on and on.It has been such an honor to serve the Lord and His people. I have been in the privileged place to see these things happen.

Anna, the prophetess, was in the place to see God too. She was 84 years old, which was ancient in those days when the average life-span is estimated to have been 52. She lived her life in the temple serving God and serving people. She was a godly woman, living out her faith in the way she could—through prayers and fastings. The nature of what she did with her life indicates a tremendous passion. You do not fast with a casual orientation. You do not serve “night and day” with a mediocre commitment. For close to sixty years she consistently served in the temple. With out a doubt, she saw many God-things in that period of time. But the greatest of all was what happened when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple.

Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of gratitude this woman experienced in that moment? Verse 38 states that “at that very moment she began giving thanks.” Just think about it—this woman served God faithfully for all these years…the God she could not see, touch, hear, or smell. She walked by faith and not by sight. But now, held in arms before her, was God as an infant! The creator of the universe lay helpless and vulnerable in her presence. The same God who met Moses on the mountain, who made the walls of Jericho fall, who demanded holiness of the priest to enter the holy of holies where He resided is now cooing and drooling before her. Talk about surreal! This godly woman did not reason it away, however. She knew God good enough to understand that He can do what He wants…and often does His thing in ways we least expect. Here, in rare form, is the visitation of God. Anna met Jesus.

I love what verse 38 states: “and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” This old godly woman was re-energized! She had seen God! After looking into the face of the God-child, she could not keep silent. As godly and passionate as she was before this, it was even more so now! She talked about the visitation of God to everyone who would listen…especially to those who were looking for the Redeemer.

When we meet Jesus, we are re-energized. Our passion gets ratcheted up, our purpose is clear, our mission consuming.

Would you like to meet Jesus this Christmas? I mean really meet Him? Beyond all the familiar stories, traditions, church services, Christmas chatter, and personal routines, Jesus longs to meet you in a new, powerful, and personal way. Anna reminds us that it pays to be passionate and attentive to God’s work and presence. She didn’t miss Jesus…and neither will you if you really long to find Him.

Conversion

One person who read my blog yesterday was confused because I used the word “conversion” for something that a Christian must do over and over.

The church community has reduced the meaning and value of conversion in the Christian life. We usually use “conversion” only to describe the event of new birth. The truth of the matter, however, is thatconversion must happen continually in my life.

We are something like onions with many layers in our complex lives. When we peal a layer back, we need Christ to step in and redeem it…to transform that portion of our life from what it was into what God wants it to be. Repentance is essential, along with all three parts of that repentance. The ongoing process of admitting sin (confession) and hating sin (contrition) are very important, but fairly meaningless unless we also add the necessary step of turning away from sin (conversion). A partial process of repentance leaves us aware and remorseful, but unchanged.

At this very moment, my car is in the auto shop. They put a couple of serpentine belts on it last week, but didn’t tighten them down quite enough. There’s nothing like the beautiful shrill squeal of engine belts every time you press down the gas pedal just a little. So here’s what happened — I recognized a problem (sort of like confession), decided I hated it (a little like contrition) and hated it so much I was ready to get it fixed! If I stopped short of getting my wheels to the mechanic, I would see no change in the stuff I know is wrong with my car.

I had a big personal conversion last week. I don’t really like needing to go to the “shop” too often, but the Mechanic always makes me feel really good about dropping in.