Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beauty from Weeds

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:19-20

Sheree and I hiked 13 miles today. We were in awe of this extended carpet of yellow flowers. They are dandelions! No one has been busy trying to pluck, pull, or spray them into extinction. The weeds we spend considerable time and energy trying to eradicate from our lawns beautifully decorated the trail. I often spend considerable time and energy in resentment for the wrongs done to me by others. The typical stuff—an unkind word, unfaithfulness of a friend, the wounds from family—can become like weeds in the lawn of my life. Do I ever expect those things to become part of the good work God is accomplishing in me? No, because I do not have the humility of Joseph who could look at his brothers and not only extend grace but see the salvation of God. Do you know anyone who responds like Joseph to wrongs done to them?

God, I confess that when I am wronged I lack humility. I want to be judge, jury and executioner. I constantly disobey Your command to leave room for the wrath of God. By faith, I thank You that You can turn the sins of others as well as my own sins into something beautiful in my life. May I be gracious and forgiving like Jesus, my greater Joseph. How can I be so blind to forget how You have used past pain to mature me and make me useful for your kingdom? Lord, have your way in me.

“You Are the Christ!”

Reflections from Mark 8.22-38, by Matt Dumas

In the villages of Caesarea Philippi, in view of the city whose name reflects the belief that Caesar is lord…that he is a god to be worshipped, Jesus asks His disciples a probing question: “Who do people say that I am?” Why does Jesus ask this question? Is He really concerned about public opinion? No…He asks the question for the benefit of the disciples. Because ultimately He wants to know, “Who do you say that I am?”

Many of us are like Peter…at one moment we are able to proclaim, “You are the Christ!” And know that He is fully God and fully Man. And in the next we say something foolish showing ourselves and others just how far we have to go on our journey to Christlikeness. Like the blind man whom Jesus heals in stages (vv. 22-26), so too our understanding of who Jesus is a gradual process full of fits and starts. It begins with childlike (and sometimes) childish faith, but as the Spirit moves and causes us to grow we begin to see change…albeit slow and painful at times until one day we will see Him face to face and be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

God of all glory and Father of lights, give me the patience and persistence it takes to make progress in the Christian life. Help me to strive according to Your power that is mightily at work within me, and not according to my own strength. Thank You for the flashes of insight that You give that allow me to know Your Son more. Forgive me for my life of shortsightedness and brashness in thinking I know better than you. May I know Your grace and peace in abundance this day. In the strong name of Jesus. Amen..

Appreciating the Cross

27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” Luke 23:27-30

This is the remains of a rock slide. Who knows when it happened? I am glad I wasn’t around. When I saw it, I thought of Jesus quoting this verse from Hosea to the women mourning for Him on his way to the cross. This same judgment shows up in Revelation 6:15-16. The wrath of God is so great that people will scream, “Give me a painful, terrifying death of 300 pound rocks avalanching over me, than to come face to face with the wrath of God.” This picture helps me appreciate Jesus’ request in the garden for the cup (the wrath of God) to be removed if possible. Let us think carefully about the awful death of Jesus so that our hearts might be melted and transformed at the cross.

Jesus, rarely does the sight or mention of the cross evoke any response in me—tears, joy, repentance, surrender. My heart is sluggish. Jesus, open the eyes of my heart. Help me to see my sin more fully at the cross. May the cross teach me not to take lightly my sin against family, friends and those I pastor. I confess that my sin nailed You, creator and King to the cross. Thank You for loving me. Thank You Jesus for taking the avalanche of the wrath of God. Jesus, help me to live a holy life gladly indebted to You.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How much worship does Jesus deserve?

Revelation 4:11
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.

The flower in this picture was about 3 feet off the trail Sheree and I were hiking yesterday. More than likely, no one else will ever see this flower before it fades. It made me think about all the flowers in all the fields in all the world that no one will ever see. Trillions? And none of this beauty is wasted. They grow for the pleasure of God. So much of our life is like this hidden flower—thoughts and deeds that go unnoticed by anyone but God. Much of my motivation to do “good” is that others might see. Much of my discouragement in serving God is a perceived lack of appreciation, lack of impact or open criticism. I think one of Satan's lies is, “No one will notice and no one cares, do whatever you want.” The question in that moment is, “How much worship does Jesus deserve?”

Jesus, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You have created me. You have created all that I will touch and see today. May You be worshiped in my thousands of hidden thoughts. May all my actions be for You first and foremost. Deliver me from the lesser ends of making an impact or winning the praise of others. In my life Jesus, be glorified today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Through the Windshield: The Road Ahead

Deuteronomy 2:7
7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

On the way to Colorado yesterday, Sheree and I were meditating on this verse together. As we were looking at long stretches of road in West Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, my mind was drawn to the Israelites wanderings in the desert. I do so much to prepare for a 13 hour trip to Creede, Colorado. I pack plenty of food and water. I even have the GPS coordinates downloaded onto my phone. In 13 hours, we traveled well over 800 miles. I was struck by the staggering nature of the miracle God perform when he led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years when I read Deuteronomy 2:7. As an enjoyer of modern technology, I can read these stories as if they are no big deal. A question rose up in me, do I believe God could see me through anything? And not only that, do I really believe God could see my family and friends and my church through their own deserts? Sometimes it is really painful to me to stand and watch others journey through the desert. And it's really hard for me to trust God on their behalf.

I believe that you are a God who blesses your people. I admit that it is often very hard for me to see or understand Your blessing. I believe that You are God who watches over Your people. I admit that I often live as though You are reluctant to look my way. I believe that You are a God, who uses the deserts to make us complete. I admit that joy does not come easily for me in these times. I believe that You are a God, who does not leave us or forsake us. I admit that I often miss the tangible evidence of this truth all around me and at the cross of Jesus.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Colossians 1:17-18
17 Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

I will be out of the pulpit until August 9. I know it is healthy for me, yet I will confess that an extended time away taps into my feelings of insecurity and my obsession with feeling responsible for all things. I expected to be over some of this stuff by the time I hit fifty. I only have two years left. It is not looking good. Personalize this prayer by thinking about your God-given spheres of influence and responsibility.

Jesus, You are God and I am not. Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power. All that I see and all that exists, every person, every building, every organization, every church, every government, the sun, moon, and stars is being held together by You every moment. The Church and everyone in it belongs to You. You are the One ultimately responsible for the health, unity, and financial well-being of this group. It is not me! It never was. You alone operate with resurrection power and authority. You alone deserve all the attention. You alone will remain front and center when all that can be shaken is shaken. So I choose at this moment by Your grace to turn my life and will and earthly responsibilities over to Your care.

Thanks for praying,

I will continue to post prayers there 2 or 3 times a week in the summer. Matt Dumas, our equipping minister, will post on Monday a brief summary of Sunday’s sermon and a prayer to go with it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ephesians 3:17-21
17…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I have often heard vs. 17-19 and vs. 20-21 prayed separately…by me! I rarely hear these prayed or even quoted together. For several months I have not been able to think about 20-21 apart from 17-19. Paul’s hope for God to do unbelievable things in and for His people rises as he considers us filled to the fullness of God by His love through Jesus. Love is not just for those we consider emotional, weak, or needy. Love is God’s power in us to cast out fear, to believe all things, to hope all things, to lay down a life for a friend, to love the children of God, to abide in the light, to keep me from being nothing, to keep His commandments. The Scripture constantly ties together love and power. I haven’t linked these verses because I don’t really see God’s love as power. Question: How often—when you are feeling weak, afraid, struggling in relationship, tempted to sin, needing a miracle—do you first think, “I need more of Jesus’ love?”

Father, sometimes I feel awkward even trying to talk about love, which is sad since perfect love casts out fear. I am painfully aware of my feeble efforts to extend love to those closest to me. Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me die to the feeling of failure when I consider all whom I have not loved well. Help me die to the desire even to try to measure my love. I come to You knowing I need Your love; mine is always deficient. I need the love of Jesus to fill me or I will never love the people You bring my way immeasurably more than I can imagine. Help me to see this love in Your creation, through Your people, according to Your Word and at the cross of Jesus. Fill me with Your love so that You might be glorified!

Pray this for yourself and five friends.

May God be glorified,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Isaiah 30:15,18

15 For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing.18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.

The idea for this prayer today came from one of our missionaries, Anita Gonzalez. Anita was involved in the singles ministry I led when I first came to Northwest. Anita is a courageous woman maximizing her singleness to serve the LORD with whole hearted devotion. This has been her verse for the year as she seeks direction for future ministry in her country. Let’s be sure to pray for her today.

The thing that strikes me about this verse is that God often gets a bad rap for being an angry, mean, standoffish war monger in the Old Testament. The context here in Isaiah is Israel running back to the old Egyptians for shelter. Talk about mean people! Look at what God is doing—He is longing, He is waiting. He wants to be gracious, to be compassionate. However, maybe in our hustle and bustle and problem solving and planning and preparing, maybe we just are not willing to wait and see the salvation of the LORD.

God Most High, I confess that I, more often than not, would like to figure it all out, work hard and get control, than to give You freedom to work beyond me, supernaturally and in ways that makes it clear You alone do great wonders. It is so difficult for me to know what this looks like in raising my children, loving my wife, pastoring a church in Dallas. It is clear that the elements of repentance, rest, quietness are more luxuries to me than necessities. Forgive me, I have sinned. In this moment, I long for You. Thank You for the gift of some believers in Jesus who wait for these emails because it creates a necessary discipline for me.

Please personalize this prayer for your situation in life.

Thankful to God for the technology that allows us to connect in this way,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Psalm 111:2-4

2 God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
3 Splendor and beauty mark his craft; His rightness over all things never gives out.
4 His miracles are his memorial—This God of Grace, this God of Compassion.

My Personal Reflection:
As I was reading this Psalm at the breakfast table this morning, verse 2 caught my attention. I like new things. I like to sample, investigate and gain some knowledge about many things. During these times of learning and exploring, I will search the internet, talk to informed friends and even contact strangers to tap their knowledge. My family sometimes thinks I am weird. Why do I do it? I enjoy it. I love doing it. These things are intensely fun for me— understanding people very different from me, rewiring a house, building a 360 sq.ft. addition to our house, having a carpentry and painting business in seminary, climbing mountains, mountain biking, road biking, competing in triathlons, backpacking, rock climbing, studying Japanese/ Spanish/ Russian(I have a lot of language CD’s), building a rock wall in the garage, buying and riding a motorcycle, tweeting, etc. However, there is only one thing I have studied consistently since I was 19—the great works of God. I only wish I would pour more energy into this great fun.

God of all creation, God of holiness, God of unfathomable plans and purposes, God of grace and compassion, I want endless enjoyment. My heart seems so dull at times to Your greatness, the beauty of the work of Your hands, the sheer genius of Your plans. Open the eyes of my heart LORD! Give me the necessary discipline to push further in my study of You that is born of devotion to You. I want to love You with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Wow, I really feel far from that. Help me, Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name. Amen.

I invite you to pray this prayer for me, yourself, our body and some friends.

May God be glorified,
P.S. I have put all the past months’ prayers on my blog at http://neiltomba.blogspot.com. I am also sharing my thoughts on twitter. The link is http://twitter.com/neiltomba.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Deuteronomy 8:3
3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Holy Spirit, reinforce those things we talked about yesterday in our gathering together as body of believers. Help us to have the courage to be honest with ourselves, You, and others about the hungers of our heart that drive us, lead us to sin, and create compulsions. Help us to see the pain we create for ourselves and others in not taking our hungers to Jesus. Help us to see that behind every desire is our need to make Jesus the Living Word our ultimate food. We confess that Jesus alone satisfies. Give us a vision for how our life would look differently if we lived with a greater awareness of this truth. Sober us with the reality of the hungers of the whole world. We look to You this week to open doors to share with others about how we are taking our hunger to Jesus. Jesus, You are the Bread of Life!

After praying this for “us” as a church, pray for yourself and some friends.

Thankful for joining us in prayer,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let’s prepare our hearts to worship corporately tomorrow by focusing on God’s goodness to us through the discipline of thanksgiving. A good friend and prayer warrior send me this list of God’s gifts and corresponding scripture references. Try to move slowly through the list.

Psalm 100:4-5
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Thank You for the forgiveness of my sin. Lord, forgive me, the sinner. (Luke 18)
Thank You for the removal of my sin as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103)
Thank You for the inheritance that gives me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 1)
Thank You for Your grace that is sufficient and Your power that is perfected in my weakness. (2 Cor 12)
Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding and guards my heart and mind in Jesus. (Phil 4)
Thank You for Your gift of faith that is not of myself, but a gift from You that I should not boast. (Eph 2)
Thank You for Your faithfulness that is great to me, and is great to all generations. (Lamentations 3)
Thank You for Your being the Blessed Hope who does not disappoint and will appear to us in glory. (Titus 2)
Thank You for Your love that covers a multitude of my sins/my transgressions (1 Peter 4)
Thank You for Your perfect love that casts out fear. (1 John 4)
Thank You for Your love that is patient, kind, bears, believes, hopes and endures all things (1 Cor 13)
Thank You for Your lovingkindness that endures forever from generation to generation. (Psalm 136)
Thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning. (Lamentations 3)
Thank You for Your mercy that triumphs over judgment. (James 2)
Thank You for Your wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, and full of mercy. (James 3)
Thank You for Your grace and compassion which is slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 103)
Thank You for Your goodness and kindness that leads me to repentance. (Romans 2)
Thank You for Your joy that is my strength. (Nehemiah 8)
Thank You for Your fullness of joy that comes from being in Your presence. (Psalm 16)
Thank You for Your rest that allows me to enter into Your land/Your presence. (Hebrews 3 and 4)
Thank You for telling me that in repentance and rest is where I am saved. (Isaiah 30)
Thank You for the quietness and confidence that comes from You which is my strength. (Isaiah 30)
Thank You for the fellowship of Jesus sufferings that gives me identification with Jesus. (Phil 3)
Thank You that nothing can separate me from the Your love that is in Jesus Christ my Lord. (Rom 8)
Thank You that I have been crucified with Jesus, and it is no longer I who live but Jesus in me. (Gal 2)
Thank You that the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in Jesus who died for me. (Gal 2)
Thank You that I overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies. (Rev 12)
Thank You that You must increase; that I must decrease and not love my life even facing death. (Rev 12)
Thank You that You are the Lord, that You are exalted above all else. There is none beside You!!! (Is 45)
Thank You that I can stand in Your presence blameless and with great joy.
To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be all glory, majesty, dominion and authority for now and forever, Amen!!

Looking forward to being with you tomorrow,

Friday, June 19, 2009

This prayer today is on my heart for two reasons. First, Friday night is the third night of our VBS Remix. Four Fridays in June, children, moms, dads, grandparents, and singles are invited to join us for a time of food, games, and loving a lost and broken world. This week our outreach is focused on children who are sick. Our children will make “busy books” for kids who are patients of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Secondly, we are at a time in our life together as a body where we have many who are aging, ill and feel powerless. Sometimes the need is overwhelming especially for someone who tends to be a rescuer.

Matthew 9:35-38

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus, I long to experience the full coming of Your kingdom introduced at Your first advent. Jesus, I feel angst along with all creation each time I see and experience illness and death. Sometimes it scares me. Jesus, I hurt when my friends hurt. Jesus, I am overwhelmed with the number of people physically sick, emotionally hurting and relationally disconnected in and outside the church. Allow me to know even more deeply the depths of Your compassion rather than shelter myself from reality. I pray for (someone who is ill) to experience Your comfort in the midst of their pain, to know the fellowship of Your sufferings and to receive the power of Your healing. I look to You to raise up caring laborers among us who move toward people with the compassion of Jesus. May we be Your hands and feet to the world You died for.

Pray this for yourself and the children of our church as they are exposed to the needs of the world this Friday night.

Thankful for joining us in prayer,
P.S. I have put all the past months’ prayers on my blog at http://neiltomba.blogspot.com. I am also sharing my thoughts on twitter. The link is http://twitter.com/neiltomba.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today’s prayer was written by my daughter Sheree.

That is His call to us—simply to be people who are content to be close to Him and to renew the kind of life in which the closeness is felt and experienced. Thomas Merton

Jeremiah 24:7
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

This prophecy was written about exiles from Judah who were in Babylon. God promised to bring a remnant home. They proved unable to stay true to the LORD in their own strength. The LORD promised to give the remnant new hearts so that they would know Him and return completely to Him. We understand that God desires to do this for all people who trust in Jesus.

Lord, thank you that you know me intimately as my Creator. Give me a heart to know you so that I might experience the fullness of joy in your presence, delight in the freedom of your love and run in the path of your commands. I desire that my heart would be infused with the truth that your love is better than life. Watch over me today as the sights, sounds and smells of the world tempt my flesh. Provide me with the strength I do not have in and of myself to return to you with all of my heart. Thank You that I can have a heart sold out for you because of the Spirit of Jesus living in me.

Pray this for yourself and five other people.

Believing God can draw our hearts to Him,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Exodus 33:15
Then Moses said to the LORD, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

After Israel sinned and worshipped the golden calf, God told Moses to take the people and go to the promised land. There was one catch—God said He would not go with the people. They would still get their material, earthly dream but without God. Moses responds by saying, “I am willing to cancel everything, everything I have dreamed of, everything I have worked for if we can’t have You LORD!”

LORD, I want the clarity that Moses had concerning the greatest good in life—You. Protect me from the consumerism that tempts us to settle for desires far below what we were created for (Sky Jethani). Protect me from any earthly hope or dream that I would settle for instead of You. Protect me from responding to success by simply giving myself more and more to that which I succeed in. Protect me from any addiction that becomes my temporary pleasure. LORD, may my every thought be of You. May my every desire be for You. May my every action be according to Your will. May I shed any sin that keeps me from You. May I be willing to cancel any good thing that I might stay in the security, love, fullness of walking with You. LORD, You are my greatest good.

Pray this for yourself and five other people.

Believing God can draw our hearts to Him,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today’s prayer comes from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I think this is a prayer I am asking you to pray for me more than anyone else. It strikes at the heart of so much of the temptations I face as a senior pastor. After praying for me, if you sense the need to pray this for yourself and for a few people that are powerful, please do.

Mark 12:38-44
38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.” 41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Lord Jesus, we are silly sheep who have dared to stand before you and try to bribe you with our preposterous portfolios. Suddenly we have come to our senses. We are sorry and ask you to forgive us. Give us the grace to admit we are ragamuffins, to embrace our brokenness, to celebrate your mercy when we are at our weakest, to rely on your mercy no matter what we may do. Dear Jesus, gift us to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept our limitations, to cling to the gospel of Christ and to delight in love. Amen

How long will it be before we quit wearing ourselves out dazzling each other with our accomplishments?

Thankful for your prayers,

Monday, June 15, 2009

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Lamentations 3:21-24
21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

Thank You LORD for this new week. Thank You LORD for Your never ending, never fickle, totally consistent love. Thank You for caring about me today and everyday this week. Thank You that I am a recipient of Your faithful love through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Holy Spirit, show me the times and places this week that are already creating tension for me.
Holy Spirit, reveal to me those things I am afraid to face this week.
Holy Spirit, convict me of how I am not believing in the loyal, faithful love of the Godhead.
Holy Spirit, make me aware of those things which I am securing myself in other than Jesus

A Dedication Prayer:
In all that I face this week, I seek to remember that Your love is present and You actively care in ways I do not see. I look to the cross of Jesus as the undeniable display of Your unending love towards me. I receive the love of others as the tangible, touchable, physically present expression of Your love. Confident in Your love, I give this new week to You. Knowing You are my more than enough, I will seek to find moments to sit quietly in Your presence.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of believers is that they try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom. John Piper

Sunday morning, we will continue through the book of Mark. To prepare our hearts for the message that will challenge us to actively love a lost and broken world, let’s pray in view of these verses.

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Romans 1:16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Father, we confess that our coming together as a body of believers in Jesus is based on Your choosing of us. Help us to grasp the immensity of the truth that the God of all creation picked me and picked us. May this increase our sense of purpose, love for one another, and love for You. We embrace our divine assignment to bear eternal fruit. May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His sufferings in the fruit of many running to Jesus for salvation. We want to join in this work with urgency, strategic planning, and sacrifice. Help us to understand the greatness of our salvation so that we carry the gospel boldly without shame. Help us to believe—help our unbelief—that the gospel is powerful for all. To actively love a lost and broken world we expect awkwardness, we welcome sinners, and we embrace creativity. Holy Spirit, give us a radical reorientation towards a lost and broken world.

Pray for two lost people.

Let’s pray believing the Father will give you whatever you ask in Jesus name,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pain, as God's megaphone, gives us the only opportunity we may have for amendment. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. All of us are aware that it is very hard to turn our thoughts to God when things are going well.
The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis

Psalm 69
A Psalm of David1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. 3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.
16 Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. 17 Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. 18 Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes.29 I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. 30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Following the model of a king David, a member of our church and good friend wrote this prayer. Pray this for yourself and 5 friends that are in deep waters.

Lord meet me here, where I am today. I choose to feel my pain, anxiety, fear...whatever. I choose to trust You, that You are God, that You are what I need now, today. At this moment; in order for You to have Your way, in order for You to cause all things to work together for good to me, who loves You, and is called according to Your purposes; so that You Lord are glorified and attractive and appealing to the lost, hurt, and lonely I acknowledge the difficulties I face and my complete and total dependence on You.

Know that you are not alone,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Praying the beatitudes pushes me to pray some of the most challenging of prayers. On some of these you may want to add, “HELP ME, JESUS!” Praying these is also great for bringing forth repentance.

Matthew 5:3-12
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus, I am desperate. I am lousy at playing God.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Jesus, I confess in trying to be God, I have sinned and inflicted pain on others and myself.

5Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Jesus, I need to grow in dependence. I will quit trying to be God by turning my life and will over to the care of God.

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Jesus, I want to align myself with You. I want to want what You want.

7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Jesus, You are caring. I will look past my own needs and pain to care for the needs and pains of others, even at severe cost to myself.

8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Jesus, You value singleness of heart. I am willing to see the enemies of God in my heart and I am willing for You to remove them.

9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Jesus, I want to value oneness among Your people as You do. I will offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and I will seek forgiveness and make amends where appropriate for the harm I have done to others.

10Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus, You value taking losses for Your kingdom. Because You are worth it all, I am all in with You.

Pray this for yourself and two others.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Good morning! Today I am asking us to pray together for our high schoolers as well as ourselves. Right now we have 33 high schoolers at Port Aransas for Beach Camp. This is their key verse.

1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

We praise You Father in heaven for You alone are holy. You shine brighter than a million suns. Unlike us, You have no dark corners, no embarrassing shadows, nothing hidden in the closet. Holy Spirit of God, shine the light of Your truth this moment in my life. Is there anything that I have kept hidden that needs to come out before You and others? Give me courage. Give us a radical, fresh repentance. Let us be a people set apart so that our light may shine and bring glory to You. We want to be people who move from treating the truth as a badge of honor to practicing the truth as an act of love. We want to be people who move from bludgeoning each other with truth to enjoying the fellowship walking in the Light produces. We want to live in the reality that we have been cleansed from sin. Praise You Jesus! Lord Jesus Son of God make us as holy as saved sinners can be this side of heaven.

Pray this for yourself, the high schoolers and their leaders.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is a special prayer today. My daughter Natalie offered a prayer from one of her own prayer times. She submitted the main section and I added a little.

Psalm 27
7Hear my voice when I call, O LORD, be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, "seek his face!" Your face, O LORD, I will seek

Lord I pray that You would cause me to seek your face first and foremost this day. I confess that I am not always sure how to do this. Teach me. I pray that everything would be a reason to seek Your face—that I would run to thank You for good things, run to You for comfort when I am sad, run to You for guidance when I am confused. I pray that I would seek Your face daily for the energy to do what You have given and called me to do.

4One thing I ask of the LORD, and this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Thank you that you are not a god who is far away, but a god who is nearby. Thank You for Your promise that when we seek You, we will find You. I want to find You in every corner of my life! Thank you that I can say with confidence "I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Help me to take time this day to steal moments of quiet in which to consider, enjoy and rest in You. Help me to snatch opportunities to enjoy the unique manifestation of Your presence among the gathering of believers.

14Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Psalm 16:2,8
2 I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”8 I have set Yahweh continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Jesus, I give You praise as the creator of all things—all things in this life that I enjoy. Help me to have eyes to see when those good things supersede my desire for You and my trust in You. Help me to see how all those good things are sinking sand. Help me to feel the tremors in my soul when my life is anchored to Your gifts and not to You. Today, by grace I choose to practice turning my attention to You. You know I must have a rock to hold when life is breaking lose all around me.

Pray this for yourself and five other people today.

A Spiritual Discipline:
Be aware of the good gifts of Jesus as you go about your day. As you become aware give Jesus thanks for them. Then ask the Holy Spirit to show you how Jesus is revealed in the gift or how the desire it creates is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Monday, June 08, 2009

Psalm 46:1
God is a safe place to hide, strong and ready to help whenever we need Him.

A good friend and great prayer warrior taught me the following prayer. This prayer is a practical way for me to run to God as a safe place to hide. Pray this prayer for yourself seeking to be aware of how, when and where you are specifically tempted. Pray this prayer for two others.

I ask this day Lord, that you would refrain my feet from running to sin against You.
Let not the foot of pride which leads to blindness, stumbling, disorientation and death, raise it's ugly self against me.
Let not the hand of the wicked one drive me back, distract, deceive, dissuade, nor discourage me.
Guard my lips Lord, that they would not speak words untrue, boastful, foolish, ill-advised, hasty, out of season, words that have not sought Your counsel, words that embitter or embarrass others, words that do not build up.
Guard my eyes Lord, that they not behold things worthless nor things which entice.
Deliver me from vain thoughts that stain and defile me, from judgmental thoughts that prejudice and condemn me, from fearful thoughts that distract, deceive and dissuade me.
Deliver me from fleshly desires that captivate my mind and enslave my will, that my heart may seek peace, rest, truth, life, security, and solace, nowhere save in You and in You alone.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

As we prepare to gather as a body of believers tomorrow let’s pray in light of Titus 3:5-7. Tomorrow we are going to talk about the importance of seeing our self righteousness so that we might live in joy and be free to actively love a lost and broken world.

Titus 3:5-7
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Father, thank You for saving me from evil deeds. Thank You for saving me from my total lack of holiness in my good deeds apart from Jesus. Thank You for smiling on me because of the righteousness of Jesus. Thank You that the Holy Spirit has given me a new heart and a new life. Thank You that the full measure of the Spirit has been given to me through Jesus. Thank You that I have inherited an eternal life far greater than anything I can imagine.

Holy Spirit reveal to me where I take pride in my own good deeds. Reveal to me how I put my trust in my own good deeds. Reveal to me how my comparison to others exposes my trust in my own accomplishments, status and moral record.
(Make a list of anything he reveals to you).

I confess that my good deeds are like filthy rags before Your holiness. Forgive me for trying to earn Your smile. How foolish and faithless. I already have it fully in Christ!

Father, I ask for myself and my brothers and sisters in the body of Jesus that we will experience rest this Sunday because of the finished work of Christ. I pray that we will experience courageous joy knowing we have nothing to prove to You, ourselves, or our friends. I pray that You would free us from looking down our noses at others so that we might actively love a lost and broken world.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Sunday is our congregational vote when we affirm our budget for next year and our elders. Let’s pray for our elders—Dick Giesecke, Doug Sullivan, Doug Williams, Jay Zelesky, Dan Bailey, Robin Wantland and me. Brad Hairston is the new elder we will bring on following the congregational vote. The following prayer is my most prayed prayer. I have memorized so that I can pray powerfully for others (especially leaders) when I don’t know what to pray. Pray this prayer from for yourself, our elders and another spiritual leader who is important in your life.

Colossians 1:9-12
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

How do you think our lives would be different if we walking in the knowledge of His will with spiritual wisdom and understanding not relying on the common sense of the world?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday night is the first night of our VBS Remix. Four Fridays in June, children, moms, dads, grandparents, and singles are invited to join us for a time of food, games, and loving a lost and broken world. Even if you don’t plan to come, please join us in prayer.

Mark 10:13-15
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Explanation from the Pillar New Testament Commentary
In this story children are not blessed for their virtues but for what they lack: they come only as they are — small, powerless, without sophistication, as the overlooked and dispossessed of society. To receive the kingdom of God as a child is to receive it as one who has no credits, no clout, no claims.  A little child has absolutely nothing to bring, and whatever a child receives, he or she receives by grace on the basis of sheer neediness rather than by any merit inherent in him or herself. Little children are paradigmatic disciples, for only empty hands can be filled.

Prayer for the children of our church:
Jesus, add to our number daily children who are being saved at Northwest Bible Church. Help us to be people who bring children to you. Help us bring them faithfully as we serve our own families. Help us bring them patiently as we care for the children of our church. Help us bring them gladly as we gather this Friday night.

Prayer and reminder for us from the hymn Rock of Ages:
Jesus, I humble myself before You. Today as a child with “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling, naked come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace.” May the reality of these truths allow me to rest in You today.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The unity of Jesus’ followers is our great apologetic to a lost world.

Psalm 133:1-2
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.

An Explanation from the Bible Knowledge Commentary
The oil poured on Aaron’s head flowed down on his beard and shoulders, and onto the breastplate with the names of all 12 tribes. The oil thus symbolized the unity of the nation in worship under their consecrated priest.

Father, You know how rare and difficult true peace is this side of the garden. We feel the pain. We want to experience the pleasant gift of relational wholeness. You want to experience to pleasant gift of Your people unified! So give us oneness in our marriages. Give us togetherness in our families. Give us perseverance in our friendships. Give us affection and compassion in our local body. Give us the humility of Jesus that makes all this possible. We need Your help. We believe that nothing is impossible with You. In Jesus Name.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tonight is our town hall meeting where we discuss some of what Jesus wants for us as body in terms of ministry, budgets, and elders. Let’s prepare our hearts with the following thoughts and prayer.

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

The word “workmanship” (poiema in Greek) refers to a work of art, a poem, a masterpiece.

You are poem emanating from the heart of God written to send out ripples into all eternity.

Father, thank You that I am connected to the universal body of Jesus by grace. I confess that My involvement in the local expression of Jesus’ body is both a privilege and responsibility. Knowing my right of passage is not a result of works, I choose to die to any sense of entitlement I hold. Thank You for infusing my life and our life together with meaning and purpose. Knowing You have a plan for the church, help me to gladly engage in the work of Jesus free from anxious busyness and the need to control. May we walk together in the exciting adventure of discovering the good works You arranged long before we showed up. Jesus, help us to want what You want.

Thanks for joining us in prayer,

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Psalm 1:2-3
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

LORD, I long to be like a tree that is rooted, stable and green in all conditions of life. I long to stand courageous in the challenges of real life. I long to know deep in my soul that I will last in the driest of times. Therefore, I ask that Your Word would become my delight, not simply my duty. I ask that I would be ruthless in creating space for Your Word to sink deep into my soul—disrupting, instructing, correcting, comforting, refreshing as needed to produce ever expanding life.

Meditate on these verses today as your first answer to this prayer.

Pray this prayer for yourself and 5 other people today.

Desperately desiring the truth of the Word of Jesus to transform us,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Thankfulness—a critical step in the rehabilitation of those suffering from the epidemic of entitlement in which all the sick think they should be treated as god.

Luke 17:15-18
15 Now one of the ten lepers, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, GLORIFYING God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, GIVING THANKS to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18“Was no one found who returned to GIVE GLORY to God, except this foreigner?”

Let’s corporately give as much glory to God as possible today through the simple act of giving thanks. A couple ideas: set an alarm every hour to remind you to give thanks, list as many things as you can in three minutes that you are thankful for and carry the list with you…you get the idea.

Giving thanks with you today,