Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

  1. How You Can Pray for David Platt, and Why He Needs It

    Posted on October 25th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Each weekday, Desiring God posts a feature on their website called Ask Pastor John. In it, John Piper addresses a wide variety of issues based on questions that people send in. The segments are short, interesting, and practical; we highly recommend taking advantage of this resource.

    In last Thursday’s edition, Piper talked about his reaction to David Platt recently becoming the president of the International Mission Board. It was a good reminder of the weight of the task before us, to say the least. We wanted to point it out to you as a motivator to pray for David and the missionaries of the IMB. Not only is the IMB an important organization with worldwide and eternal impact, but David’s appointment comes at an important time in the course of Christian missions.

    Join John Piper in praying that this transition “will have a global, God-glorifying, mission-completeing impact of historic scope, all out of proportion to [Platt's] limitations. May it be, indeed, an end-time move of the Spirit to hasten the Day of God.”

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  2. 7 Comments

    A Forgotten Field

    Posted on October 14th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    When we think of mission work, our minds may most naturally go to the African bush, the Indian slums, or the Arabian deserts. We probably don’t think of Tokyo high rises.

    We should.

    At less than one percent evangelical Christian, Japan’s 120 million natives make up the second largest unreached people group in the world. Don’t be fooled by the neon lights illuminating the bustling streets – Japan is a dark country. Some have even dubbed it “the missionary’s graveyard,” not because violent persecution is common there, but because ministry burnout is. In Japan, after spinning their wheels for years, many missionaries find themselves stopped dead in their tracks.

    One reason that ministry there has been so difficult is its material excess. Contrary to the hunger, sickness, and poverty that so often opens doors for ministry in developing nations, Japan seems to have it all. Blinded by worldly ambition and distracted by excessive busyness, the Japanese obliviously wander on, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

    At the same time, they may soon be ripe for a huge harvest. Their immense spiritual need is starting to come to a head as they work themselves to death (literally – they call it karōshi), fight a losing battle with depression and suicide, tragically give themselves to sex trafficking, and realize that their advanced technology and infrastructure is no match for nuclear disasters, typhoons, and earthquakes.

    Pray for the Japanese. Pray for the worn out missionaries among them. Pray for a massive harvest.  And pray for more laborers to go to this forgotten field.

  3. A Collection of Videos on Missions

    Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Jonathan

    To acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with David Platt’s teaching on missions, here is a collection of videos in which he talks about different aspects of it. While these videos do not offer a comprehensive theology of missions, we hope they will compel you to go to God in his Word and to the lost in the world.

  4. Mid-Term Field Report: “Because Jesus Is Worth It”

    Posted on September 24th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Have you ever been “missing in action” when a loved one needed you? Karina has. And from her critter-infested home in Thailand, she can testify to the pain it causes . . . but she can also testify to the joy of loving and obeying Christ.

    Karina was sent out by The Church at Brook Hills to serve mid-term (anywhere between two months and two years), teaching English to kindergarteners. We hope that her example will encourage and challenge you to love Jesus far more than anything else. According to Karina, even though such love is sometimes hard, “Jesus is worth it.”

    Here’s what Karina had to say . . .

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    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    It never fails to surprise me just how many other creatures I share a home with. We’ve had infestations of ants, termites, geckos, mosquitos, roaches, tokays, snakes, lizards, spiders (anywhere from really small to as big as my face), snails and rats.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    The most difficult part is managing my classes. I teach anywhere from 27-39 students. That’s 39 three-year-olds. So to keep them all focused and on task is a bit challenging, to say the least.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    In April my mom and good friend were able to visit me. We were able to celebrate Songkran (the water throwing festival). It’s basically the ice bucket challenge all day for three days, and everyone plays. It’s the best festival ever.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Go. And try to learn as much language beforehand.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    Please pray for us daily. I can’t say it enough. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Also, little notes of encouragement are great too. It can get pretty lonely overseas, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to find a personal email waiting for you in your inbox.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    Luke 14:26 has really taken on a new meaning to me since being here. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I only thought I knew what that meant, but now I know what that means. Being a disciple of Jesus means missing weddings and baby showers of my dearest and oldest friends. It means being away from family in illness. It means missing birthdays, graduations, and other celebrations. It means people may not think you love them because you are away when they “need” you the most. And it’s hard. Especially on the rough days, and the enemy tempts you to think it’s not worth it. But it is worth it, because Jesus is worth it.

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    They are so selfless, generous, and some of the most joyous people I have ever met.  They don’t let their circumstances dictate their emotions. They may not have much, but they will sacrifice for you.

  5. When You Don’t Know What to Pray For

    Posted on September 22nd, 2014 by David Burnette

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    Prayer is simple, we’re told. It’s as easy as inhaling and exhaling. Just as a newborn baby breathes, so the child of God naturally calls out to his heavenly Father. So, then, in our experience, why is prayer so often difficult and perplexing?

    One reason we may struggle in prayer is because of what Paul calls our “weakness” (Rom 8:26). The apostle isn’t referring to the kind of physical and mental weakness that makes it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time, though that’s certainly a challenge. Paul is talking about our ignorance, or our limited knowledge of God’s ways. The apostle describes our weakness this way: “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (Rom 8:26). Of course, broadly speaking, we know to pray for God to be glorified in all things. But that doesn’t mean we always know what to pray for in specific circumstances. Questions remain:

    • Should I ask God to change this difficult situation, or am I just being discontent?
    • Which job should I take? Which school should I attend?
    • How does God want to use me in this season of life? Am I missing his leading?

    How do you pray in situations like these? You know you need help, but you you’re not exactly sure what to ask for. Thankfully, God’s grace and provision are not based on our knowing precisely what to pray. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us–the Spirit who is divine and who knows the Father’s will perfectly (Rom 8:27). Here’s how one commentator captures the Spirit’s mysterious and hope-giving intercession:

    “Our failure to know God’s will and consequent inability to petition God specifically and assuredly is met by God’s Spirit, who himself expresses to God those intercessory petitions that perfectly match the will of God. When we do not know what to pray for–yes, even when we pray for things that are not best for us–we need not despair, for we can depend on the Spirit’s ministry of perfect intercession ‘on our behalf.'” (1)

    That’s good news for those who don’t have access to God’s perfect knowledge, which is to say, all of us. The same God who designs our weakness also overcomes it through his Holy Spirit. We are free, then, to seek God’s face in prayer and to cast our cares and petitions before him, knowing that even misguided requests will be turned for our good (Rom 8:28). So the next time you don’t know what to ask for, don’t let that stop you from praying. The Holy Spirit knows what you need, and he’s interceding for you.

    – For more on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, see Secret Church 5: Exploring the Holy Spirit.

    (1) Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 526.

  6. Mid-Term Field Report: “Utilize The Time”

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Jonathan

    As many of us are leaving summer behind to return to school or get back into a regular routine at work, Matt is doing no such thing. Life is different for him. Matt lives in Central Asia and was sent out to serve mid-term by The Church at Brook Hill. Mid-term is described as a period of anywhere between two months and two years. For him, school looks more like learning a foreign language, and monotonous routine . . . well, there’s not much of that.

    We asked Matt some questions about his life in Central Asia. Our hope is that his words might challenge those of us tempted to simply survive the next test or deadline. Our lives are intended for more than intention-less routines driven by purposeless attitudes. When we realize that God desires to use us to bring the nations to Himself, and when we hear of brothers and sisters whose devotion to Christ means harsh persecution, we see everything differently. The reality is, we have so much more to live for than the weekend.

    Here’s what Matt had to say . . .

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    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    Time and time again, my team and I have been surprised at how quickly God answers the prayers of us and our supporters back home, and His answers to these prayers are often even better than we knew to ask for! We shouldn’t be afraid to ask Him to act in big ways to help us reach lost people. He desires and is worthy of the worship of all peoples and is actively working in hearts and lives all across the world.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    It has been difficult being part of a new team re-engaging a minority people group that has not been worked with for several years. Due to the difficulty of gaining access to our people’s homeland, we are in the process of establishing a business in a nearby country where there is a significant population of our people. This poses many challenges such as learning a minority language with few immersion experiences, balancing business and ministry responsibilities, and justifying to the community why we as Western businessmen spend so much time with this minority people and are learning their language.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    One of the biggest highlights so far has been growing closer as a team and becoming more like a family.  Being part of such a small team, we spend a lot of time together, and the Lord has used that in teaching us more of what it means to be the body of Christ. Praying, worshiping, and having fun together, holding one another accountable, and being united in a common vision has helped us to encourage one another during the difficult times and overall thrive in our first year on the field.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Utilize the time before you leave the U.S. to establish routines of engaging lost people where you are currently. Often times, we get caught up in enjoying the benefits of Christian community so much that we rarely put ourselves in places where we are surrounded by the lost. Going mid-term is a weird balance between a sprint and a marathon; the routines you are able to establish before arriving on the field will help you to make the most of the time you have in your new context.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    The way that is most obvious and yet often over-looked is to actively pray for that person, their ministry, and their people. Be proactive in asking for ways to pray for that person and in regularly praying for their boldness and evangelism opportunities. Also, we love hearing from friends, family, and supporters about what is happening back home and how we can be praying for them.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    I often feel like I am sitting on the front row watching Him prepare the harvest of these people in a way in which only the Creator of the universe is able! In our first month on the field, He answered our prayers by providing a language teacher, national believer, and friend all with a single person whom He had burdened to return to his family and country (at the risk of his life) to help reach his people with the gospel of Christ. The things we’ve seen happen over the past year are more than coincidences; no doubt the Lord is doing the same type of things in unreached people groups all across the world!

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    Extreme persecution is normal, expected, and worth the risk for the believers in this part of the world. Coming from a place, like the U.S, where it is “safe” to be a Christian, it is still difficult to fully understand what these national brothers and sisters experience everyday in living and dying for Christ. That being said, the Lord is using these terrible acts to bring others to faith, grow the church, and advance the gospel of Christ to the most difficult to reach people and places in the world.

  7. That Muslims May See Christ’s Surpassing Beauty

    Posted on September 12th, 2014 by David Burnette

    Kevin DeYoung posted the following prayer by Samuel M. Zwemer (1867-1952), an RCA minister and Princeton professor known as “The Apostle to Islam”:

    “Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who hast made of one blood all nations and hast promised that many shall come from the East and sit down with Abraham in thy kingdom: We pray for thy prodigal children in Muslim lands who are still afar off, that they may be brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Look upon them in pity, because they are ignorant of thy truth.

    Take away pride of intellect and blindness of heart, and reveal to them the surpassing beauty and power of thy Son Jesus Christ. Convince them of their sin in rejecting the atonement of the only Savior. Give moral courage to those who love thee, that they may boldly confess thy name.

    Hasten the day of religious freedom in Turkey, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Send forth reapers where the harvest is ripe, and faithful plowmen to break furrows in lands still neglected. May the tribes of Africa and Malaysia not fall prey to Islam but be won for Christ. Bless the ministry of healing in every hospital, and the ministry of love at every church and mission. May all Muslim children in mission schools be led to Christ and accept him as their personal Savior.

    Strengthen converts, restore backsliders, and give all those who labor among Muslims the tenderness of Christ, so that bruised reeds may become pillars of his church, and smoking flaxwicks burning and shining lights. Make bare thine arm, O God, and show thy power. All our expectation is from thee.

    Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son in the Muslim world, and fulfill through him the prayer of Abraham thy friend, “O, that Ishmael might live before thee.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

    — Taken from Islam and the Cross: Selections from “The Apostle to Islam” (edited by Roger Greenway).

  8. A Prayer for the Afflicted Saints of Iraq

    Posted on August 13th, 2014 by Jonathan

    The following prayer was originally posted by Rick Phillips on Reformation 21.

    Our Father in heaven, the sovereign and almighty God, the faithful covenant-keeper and Savior, we plead to you on behalf of our suffering fellow believers in Iraq.  Cast your eye upon them and have mercy to uphold and defend your flock.  Overthrow the evil of their persecutors and strengthen the faith of those suffering tribulation for the name of Jesus.

    Father, as of old you caused the enemies of your people to destroy one another in answer to the plea of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:23), so now bring discord, division, and self-destruction to the jihadist slayers afflicting your people.  Lord, as once you parted the Red Sea to make safe the way of Israel fleeing from Pharaoh’s host (Ex. 14:21-22), open a path to safety for your people fleeing in distress.  Our God, your Word foretells that Satan will make war on the church, all the more because he knows that his end is near (Rev. 12:12).  But as you promised, intervene supernaturally to provide a refuge in the wilderness for the church our enemy is seeking to destroy (Rev. 12:14-16).   Cause your suffering people to conquer by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; strengthen their testimony to Jesus, even under threat of death (Rev. 12:11).

    Our loving Father, Jesus foretold that his people would be hated by all nations and delivered up to tribulation (Mt. 24:9), as we see happening to the saints of Iraq.  Do not permit them to fall away or betray one another,  and keep their love from growing cold (Mt. 24:1012).  Hear the cries of Rachel in Iraq and Kurdistan, weeping for her children (Jer. 31:15).

    God of grace, have mercy on our fellow sinners who persecute your people in the name of a false god.  As once you turned the heart of Saul of Tarsus when he was the chief tormenter of your church (Acts 9:4-5), and as Jesus pled for you to forgive those who tortured him upon the cross (Lk. 23:34), now have mercy on those who crucify and behead the saints in Iraq.  Reveal your grace and glory to them so that they might repent, believe, and be saved.

    Finally, Lord, send your Spirit to inspire Christians who live in comfort and ease, that we might honor the martyrdom of our brothers and sisters by living boldly for Jesus, that we might abominate in ourselves the sins of hatred, lust, and idolatry that we see working so terribly against our brethren, and that we might live more soberly and prayerfully for the cause of Christ in this evil world.

    In the name of him who loves us and has freed us from our sins (Rev. 1:5), whom you have made head over all things for the church (Eph. 1:22), your Son Jesus Christ, we pray.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

  9. 6 Comments

    Take Action: “Looming Humanitarian Catastrophe”

    Posted on August 9th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains, (CNN)

    Today, the Baptist Press (BP) released a statement urging people to take action on behalf of suffering Iraqis. Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee Mosul. The Islamic State (IS) is persecuting religious minorities of every variety, including the Yazidi people near Sinjar. Said the BP:

    Most pressing is a situation the White House calls a “looming humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding on a mountaintop near the Iraqi city of Sinjar, home to the country’s Yazidi religious minority, where some 50,000 Yazidi refugees are trapped with limited food and water. On Aug. 3, Sunni extremists known as Islamic State or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) seized the city as Sinjar’s Yazidi population fled fearing massacre. Many Iraqis without transportation escaped to the nearby Sinjar Mountains, a barren heap of rock where daytime temperatures can top 120 degrees.

    While the U.S. is dropping some supplies, there is no shortage of need. We would also like to urge you to act in two primary ways.

    1.  Most importantly, pray. God has ordained prayer, and He hears our pleas. Here are the prayer points released by the BP today:

      • Ask the Lord to awaken the world to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iraq and to provide pathways for Christians and others to respond.
      • Ask God to miraculously protect the Yazidis and other Kurds who fled into the mountains; ask Him to provide a means of rescue and temporary homes for the refugees.
      • Pray that ISIS leaders and soldiers would experience the love of Jesus Christ and that their lives would be transformed.
      • Ask God to preserve and embolden the small remnant of believers in Mosul and Kurdistan, so that one day through their witness, every Iraqi might have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

    2. Give. When it comes to crises like this, sufficient resources are critical.

    BP: “Help respond to Iraq’s refugee crisis by donating to the International Mission Board’s general relief fund or by texting imbrelief to 80888, which will donate $10 to that fund. To give through Baptist Global Response, visit gobgr.org/donate or text bgr to 80888.” (More info here)

    UPDATE: For questions about giving to the IMB’s general relief fund, you can call them toll-free at (800) 999-3113 or contact them via their online form. To find out more about giving to Baptist Global Response, go HERE.

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  10. Persecution in the News

    Posted on August 1st, 2014 by Jonathan

    This past week has seen a flurry of blog posts, articles, videos, and teachings on persecution and Christian suffering that are all deserving of attention. So instead of our normal  Friday “Well Said” feature, we’re going to point you to a number of these pieces, all centered on the global plight of suffering and/or persecuted Christians . . .

    The Persecuted Church
    Led by Mindy Belz, this TGC Women’s Conference workshop is very informative.

    VIDEO: David Platt on global Christian persecution
    This 7 minute ERLC conversation covers the effects of persecution and our response to it.

    American Doctor with Ebola Displays Heroism
    Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are battling Ebola, a deadly disease they contracted while helping other stricken with it.

    Meriam Ibrahim, Freed from Sudan, Plans to Settle in New Hampshire
    The woman who was imprisoned for becoming a Christian and sentenced to death in Sudan has been freed.

    5 Facts About Christian Persecution
    Joe Carter of the ERLC offers a brief survey of global persecution.

    Stay or Go When Ebola Breaks Out?
    Robert Cutillo offers some helpful principles regarding risk and following Christ.

    State Department Releases Report on International Religious Freedom
    “In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory.”

    Christian Persecution Bulletin Insert
    From the ERLC, this could be a helpful tool this Sunday: Persecution Sunday.

    For Sale: Mother Without Child: $800 (Part 1)
    Here is a stirring account of one North Korean woman’s journey to faith . . . and out of North Korea.

    Where Are The Iraqi Refugees Now?
    Under threat of death, ISIS has expelled all Christians living in Mosul. Where are they now?

    They Know Not What They Do
    “Sin has darkened the mind of the church’s enemies.”