We took another major attack on our web site last week. It actually shut us down for awhile. Apologies to those of you who may have attempted to visit the web site and found a message indicating we were temporarily down. I don’t know if these attacks are satanic or just the result of a deranged individual who has nothing better to do than hack into web sites. We do know that it was intentional. In the midst of correcting and repairing it, our web host, who lives in the greater Houston area was hit by Hurricane Ike. I have no desire to make this repeated hacking a larger issue than it is, nor do I wish to spiritualize it. I do want to approach it as we all need to approach difficulties that frustrate and hinder the work we are attempting to do. When Satan was attempting to thwart the witness of Job, he accused God of making a “hedge around him” (Job 1:10) to protect him from demonic onslaughts. Sometimes God protects us and sometimes He allows us to be hindered in order that we might be strengthened in the faith. I am asking you to join me in praying a hedge of protection around this web site ministry. Ask God to either use the technology that He created or use His miraculous power to prevent further attacks on our web site. The purpose statement of Disciple All Nations is “enhancing on-going ministry through equipping, encouraging and interceding.” That is difficult to do when under attack. So as you join me in interceding for the following global concerns this week, please also intercede for the Disciple All Nations web site and for our web attacker that he or she might find some more worthy purpose in life than hacking into web sites. As always, your comments are appreciated.
• From a missionary in Ukraine: “Pray for strength and safety for the people serving the Georgians during this critical time of need. God is using a church in Gori to feed many of these displaced people. This is a ripe time for ministry and for people to see Jesus in the lives of Christians!! Pray for the people of Georgia and that they will turn to God.”
• From a missionary in Brazil: “Pray for rest and relaxation in my schedule. Thank you for your prayers. You really are the force behind the issues we face day in and day out so please do not stop praying.
• From missionaries in Uganda: “God has been opening some incredible doors for ministry. Please pray as we narrow our focus to refugees in Kampala, and two projects in Eastern Uganda.
• Pray for the young daughter of a pastor friend in Canada. She has been suffering from nightmares. During an intense season of prayer, the frequency of nightmares has dropped considerably. Let’s keep praying until they disappear completely.
• Pray for those in the Caribbean and along the Texas and Louisiana coast who have been hit by Hurricane Ike.
I’m preaching a Senior Adult Revival this week. Guess I can throw away my Youth Revival sermons. As one who spent a few years serving on university campuses in collegiate ministry and now find myself doing a few senior adult ministry things, I can understand the conclusions drawn by another former student minister who is now a senior adult minister. He said there were four reasons why he enjoyed senior adult ministry more than student ministry: (1) with senior adults you don’t get phone calls after 10:00 p.m.; (2) with senior adults you never have to deal with angry parents; (3) with senior adults you never have to counsel with an unwanted pregnancy and (4) with senior adults, they’re supposed to be on drugs. Whatever your age group, I hope you can laugh at yourself this week. In the Bible you can only arrive at the seventeenth chapter of Genesis before reading, “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed” (Gen. 17:17, NKJV). And the Psalmist proclaimed, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh” (Ps. 2:4, NKJV).
I’m praying for the following global concerns this week and invite you to join me. By the way, I do get reports of answers to some of these requests since most come from acquaintances of mine. If you ever want a report, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to provide it.
• A missionary friend reports, “a fundamentalist group is going from village to village destroying churches, burning houses, attacking and killing Christians. It is reported that thousands of extremists have been brought from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to perpetrate this violence which has spread to all the districts of Orissa. Their agenda is to wipe out Christians and Christianity from India starting from Orissa.” Having been in Orissa a few years ago on a prayer journey, I am concerned.
• Another missionary friend wrote: “Things are becoming uncertain in Thailand due to the political climate and we need your prayers.”
• Pray for the Texas Baptist Men volunteers who are conducting a feeding operation for refugees in the Black Sea country of Georgia.
• Pray for missionary kids who are beginning school this month after their summer break.
Two funerals last week for folks related to members of my family. Neither funeral was expected. Both were younger than me: one eight years; the other, eighteen years. It reminded me that the value of a life is not determined by the years accumulated. It also reminded me of what James wrote, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). I doubt if you have this verse cutely painted on a magnet, displayed on your refrigerator. It really doesn’t lend itself to that. Besides most of us are so in love with tomorrow that we can hardly think of not experiencing it. That’s why unexpected deaths are such a shock to our system. It’s hard to think about life as a vapor, a vanishing mist. It has long since disappeared, but I can still see it – that faded blue cardboard poster, the sliver glitter, worn off of the lettering. Given to me by my parents, the poster hung on my wall for many years. The quote on the poster was attributed to English missionary, C.T. Studd who said on his deathbed, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Indeed.
I’m praying for the following global concerns this week. Join me?
• As I write this, hurricane Gustav has already been responsible for many lives in Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and much property loss in western Cuba and the Cayman Islands and is bearing down on the Louisiana coast. May those in its path know that God’s grace is sufficient in every circumstance of life.
• From missionaries in Serbia: Sunday, September 7th, the groups in Cacak will meet together for the first of weekly house church. Pray for those who attend Bible study during the week to be excited about fellowshipping and worshiping with others every Sunday.
• From Taiwan: Pray for someone to volunteer to be the stateside (U.S.) prayer advocate for the missionary team working in Taichung City.
• Give thanks that missionaries Chris and Cathie are the proud parents Caytlin Elisa, born on August 28, 2008. Continue to pray for Cathie’s health and recovery
While mega-churches get most of the spotlight in our day, this is also a day of mega-egos, not necessarily connected to mega churches. After a stirring testimony of conversion, a young man was asked who was responsible for his decision. “I don’t remember” he replied, “I only heard from God.” Those of us who share the good news need to be reminded occasionally that we are not the good news, but the messenger of such. Paul said his decision to share came, “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (Gal. 1:1). The call to share is a high and holy calling, but it is the voice of God that needs to be heard when we share.
Thanks for re-subscribing and transitioning with us through our change in delivery systems. One of the changes made, is that “A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to Heaven” will no longer be sent via an occasional e-mail, but will now appear as a link on the Monday Morning Memo that you can click to read the funny things. In fact, if you haven’t read “Summer Youth Camp,” click below for a trial run. Actually “Funny Things” is in the process of being released in book form. Stay tuned.
Join me in prayer for the following global concerns:
• God’s direction in a partnership with a Ukrainian Church who is willing to work together with Ukrainian/American students to serve in different places.
• For the healthy birth of “Bush Baby II” to missionary parents in Uganda.
• Medical outreach among some of the Roma refugees that are still in Macedonia from the Kosovo conflict nearing 9 years ago.
Thank you for your ongoing prayer for the Casino Workers Outreach in Macau. Another Seed Project distribution (gift distribution to casino workers) is scheduled for this coming week, Aug 25-28. The target is to distribute 1500 gift packets in 5 locations, which covers up to 10 different casinos.
I attended two funerals this week. In both and in most I’ve attended in my life, and in many obituaries I’ve read, I’ve heard and seen the phrase, “gone home to be with the Lord.” Why do we use home as a reference for heaven? God’s Old Testament people and many of God’s New Testament people lived in tents. Few people are at home in a tent. Tent dwellers are continually on the move. People who live in homes are at home, or at least as close as one can get in this life. Really the only earthly home we have is our body. At least that’s what Paul believed, but even then he wrote, “While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6). The old spiritual said it best, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through.” We’ve heard that you can’t go home again, but that all depends on where home is. If your earthly home is temporary – like your body is temporary – and your heavenly home is eternal, you can go home again. Indeed death is a home going . . . to be with the Lord . . . in the home he has prepared for us. I guess there was more theology than I knew in the songs I was taught as a child. “I’ve got a home in glory land . . .” How about you?
Join me in prayer this week for the following global concerns:
• Continue to pray for Olympic ministries. Seems China Olympic officials have failed to provide adequate Christian Chaplains inside the athletes’ village.
• As far as I know, all mission personnel are out of Georgia. Pray for them as they try to re-locate when their heart and their calling is back in Georgia, still under attack from the Russian army.
• Missionaries in Thailand are asking for prayer that God would give them wisdom as they develop evangelistic/discipleship materials.
• Pray for a missionary couple who have completed language study in Costa Rica and have now arrived in Argentina to minister.
• Pray for a Canadian pastor and wife who need another car since their three children are now in three different special schools in a large city.
I’ve just spent a week visiting and praying with young pastors and church starters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They are courageous (only 2% of their city is in church on any given Sunday, the same percentage as in Bagdad, Iraq). They are committed at all costs (most spend 60 to 70% of their income on housing expenses). They are creative (starting and growing churches with little resources). People are being reached for Christ and churches are growing. While these churches have similar challenges as all churches, I have observed a marked difference in these Vancouver churches. In a day when some churches (mostly with ample resources) prey on their people to pay for solutions to their challenges, these churches (with limited resources) pray to God for solutions to their challenges. Isaiah speaks of “young lions” who “lay hold of the prey” (Isa. 5:29). I’ve been with some “young lions” this week past who know how to “lay hold” of God and pray.” May their tribe increase.
I invite you to “lay hold” of God this week and pray with me for these global concerns:
• Young pastors and church planters in Vancouver, B.C. Canada and specifically one pastor and family needing a car.
• Mission team members who are facing difficulties in getting visas to live in a secure area.
• Fifteen new personnel being trained now to begin serving in Western Europe in October.
• Missionaries who are serving in the midst of the Russian invasion of Georgia.
• Olympic ministries in Beijing, China.
As you read this, I will be leading a prayer team in a major North American city. Among other places visited, we will tour an Islamic Mosque, A Hindu Center, A Sikh Temple, and a Buddhist Temple. We will listen patiently and respectfully as their leaders tell us of their beliefs. Then we will move to the parking lot, get in our van, and pray. We will pray to the only Founder of a religion that claims its Founder lives in those who believe. In fact, this is one of the unique features of the Christian faith – “Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you” (2 Corinthians 13:5)? In a similar way that sap indwells the branch, producing fruit and blood indwells the body, manifesting itself in life, so our Lord indwells those who believe, reproducing Godly attributes in them. He has not always indwelled us. We had to invite Him in. We did not have to make a sacred pilgrimage, sacrifice another life, or vow to carry a weapon on our body at all times. Convicted of sin and with a repentant spirit, we simply had to invite the Lord in to our lives and He began to indwell us. Rejoice with me this week for our indwelling Lord.
And join me in talking with Him about these global concerns:
• Hundreds of student summer missionaries who will soon leave their summer assignments and return to their campuses, never to be the same again.
• Lawrence and Sarah in their English outreach classes for workers in Macau.
• A family serving in India as they follow up on new adult friends whose children attended their child’s birthday party.
• Ed, whose wife unexpectedly passed away last week at the age of 49 while they were serving in Russia.
Having spent more than half of my vocational ministry in theological education, it has always been a wonder to me why we spend so much time teaching would-be ministers how to talk for God and how little time we spend teaching them how to talk with God. We teach them much of how to relate to people on behalf of God but not so much on how to relate to God on behalf of people. Please don’t misunderstand, most of what we teach is crucial and necessary for their ministerial development, but we have sometimes created or at least encouraged the development of ministers who lead from their own strength and knowledge. A few even minister so frequently for God without communicating with God, that they begin to think they are God. Then they discover that it is often easier to be God than it is to communicate with God. All of this caused a few of America’s National Prayer Committee members to ask me to head a task force that would promote the teaching of prayer in theological education. Among other initiatives, I compiled a resource book for those who teach prayer in, but not exclusive to, theological education. Eighty chapters written by eighty different authors, entitled, Giving Ourselves to Prayer, from Acts 6:4, and the book is being released this month by PrayerShop Publishing of Terre Haute, Indiana. If you are interested, you can order a copy direct from http://www.prayershop.org or ask your local Christian bookstore to order it for you from PrayerShop Publishing. Interested in a copy or not, please join me this week in making it a matter of prayer for the ministers you know – that, even for the real prayer warriors, communication with God would become an increasing priority and blessing in their lives.
Also, join me in prayer this week for the following global concerns:
• For the annual Central and Eastern European Missionary Kid Retreat in Budapest, Hungary.
• Missionary friends from Germany as they take much needed vacation time in Atlanta.
• Preparations for the Summer Olympic Games ministry in Beijing, China beginning August 8.
• For Suzanne, a Chaplain at the University of British Columbia as she prepares for the fall semester.
We live in a day of urgencies and emergencies. We have addresses but we may not be there. We have e-mail addresses but we may not answer. We have phone numbers but we also have answering machines to take our messages. Planned agendas often get bumped in favor of some sudden need either of our own or of someone needing us. In times like these, we find it incredibly difficult to “be still, and know” (Ps. 46:10) or as one translation words it, “cease striving and know.” I have found three things to be non-negotiable in these current circumstances. My time in God’s Word, the Bible, is invaluable. It really is my guide for faith and practice – “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). Likewise I must have times – planned and unplanned – to communicate with God. Prayer is the priority of the Christian life. How can a student study without a teacher, an athlete perform without a coach, a musician play without a conductor, a worker toil without a supervisor? How can I serve without continual communication with my Lord? One thing more is needed. I must have the mentoring, advising, supporting, counseling, directing, of trusted friends. When the voices calling to me are many and diverse, not to mention mixed with the world’s voices, I need help in hearing and discerning. Of the three this is the one most easily overlooked. The key word is “trusted.” In these days of distrust and mistrust, “trusted friends” are hard to find and maintain. If you have them, rejoice. If not, seek them soon. May your urgencies and emergencies be few this week.
Join me in praying for the following global concerns:
• My soon-to-be sixteen year old granddaughter, Whitney, and some of her friends who are on a mission trip this week to the Santiago Atitlan area of Guatemala.
• For Jan as she returns to the states from Spain for a much needed three month break.
• For missionaries and others as they continue to find creative ways to help victims of Cyclone Nargis in the two months since the storm unleashed its fury on Myanmar.
• Final preparations for ministries during the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
How many times have you used or heard someone use the phrase, “unanswered prayer.” Where did that phrase originate? Not with Jesus. In His teaching on prayer, our Lord never once referred to unanswered prayer. Sometimes the answer is “no” as it was for Jesus when in Gethsemane, He asked the Father to let the Calvary cup pass from His lips. Sometimes God may ask us to wait for a better-timed answer, since His ways and times are not identical to ours. Sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we asked them. But if we pray “in His name and for His sake,” God will answer according to His will, not ours. So, God always answers prayer – even though sometimes different from our chosen response and often delayed according to our calendar. Otherwise, how do you explain, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9). We’d prefer the Scripture to say, “Ask and it will be given to you exactly as you prefer and precisely on your schedule.” But then we would be conforming God to our image rather than being conformed to His image. So, pray on . . . and wait. God always answers the prayers of His children, even when we do not recognize the answers.
Pray with me this week for the following global concerns:
• Summer English Camps which are held in many countries of the world, directed by missionaries with the assistance of teams of volunteers from the U.S.
• Jim and Charlotte as they begin to research and develop a strategy to reach the Roma (Gypsies) of Brazil.
• Mark and Sharon in England and the new church plant thru Beacon Heath Church.
• Nearly 300 International World Changer (IWC) volunteer teams serving in Romany communities in both Romania and Czech Republic this summer.
• The family, friends, and co-workers of Southern Baptist missionary Theresa, following her death last week in Germany.