Prayer

Advent 2012: Preparing The Path: New Shoes

As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.

A reading from the prophet Isaiah.

“I trust you to save me, LORD God, and I won't be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, and you have saved me.”

With great joy, you people will get water from the well of victory. At that time you will say, “Our LORD, we are thankful, and we worship only you. We will tell the nations how glorious you are and what you have done. Because of your wonderful deeds we will sing your praises everywhere on earth.”

Sing, people of Zion! Celebrate the greatness of the holy LORD of Israel. God is here to help you.

— Isaiah 12:2-6

I heard it said one time that God does great things for us to give us a testimony. While I think there is truth in that statement, I have also witnessed God performing miraculous works for people who don't even know who He is.

What a beautiful thing!

The God of Heaven working miracles for people who don't even know Him.

Don't serve Him.

Don't worship Him.

That's humility. That's love.

And, that's why we do what we do. That's why we “tell the nations how glorious you are and what you have done.”

It's for His name and His fame!

It's such a great thing to stand back and see God move on our behalf. To see Him perform miracles big and small. As I write this, I've just returned home from a trip that included a stop at a local thrift store.

My favorite pair of shoes is a pair of fifteen-year-old Doc Martens. I've loved these shoes since I first purchased them with some Christmas Money back in college.

But, years of wear has finally overcome these shoes.

For the past few weeks, I've been praying that I would find a new pair of Docs to wear. Here's the deal, Docs aren't cheap, and I would never pay full price for a pair.

And, then, today we stopped into this thrift store. There I found a pair of Doc Martens. They were my size. They were $9.00.

God looking out for us in small ways.

Before you say it's a coincidence, let me just quote Pete Greig (who was quoting St. Augustine). “You can call it coincidence. But, what I know is that the more I pray, the more coincidences happen.”

And, so, we tell His wonders in the world. We tell of His provision. We tell of His healing. We tell of His providing new shoes.

Because, our God cares about the hairs on our head so much so that He has them numbered and knows which is which.

New Shoes

New Shoes

 

 

Engaging The Spheres: Arts/Entertainment and Media

For background on the ENGAGING THE SPHERES campaign, please review our earlier post: Engaging The Spheres: Overview.

On Tuesday, we presented a way for the Family to be engaged through prayer and finance with our family in the work of fulfilling the Great Commission.  Wednesday, we showed how Churches and Businesses can be involved.  Yesterday, we talked about the Education and Government sectors. Today, we turn our attention to Arts/Entertainment and Media.

Arts/Entertainment

Intercession

One of the things that God has placed on Stephanie’s heart is to help the indigenous church connect the Word in their heart language with the artistic expression that is at the core of their culture.  In other words, redeeming the culture and turning it into an expression of worship to the Creator.  From a prayer perspective, we are looking for three songwriters, worship leaders or worship teams, who would be a “prayer SWAT Team” for Stephanie.  This team would be “on-call”.  We would send you a schedule of when Stephanie was going to be leading worship, teaching on worship, or recording worship music/expressions, and ask you for specific prayers for those times.

Financial

Financially this area has a couple of dimensions.

Stephanie leading worship in Central Asia

Stephanie leading worship in Central Asia

First, Stephanie has written a number of worship songs.  We would like to get into the studio and cut at least one (maybe two) albums of Stephanie’s own “indigenous” worship.  At present there are 21 songs that she has written.  We are looking for 20 people who will sponsor 1 recorded track at $100.

Second, we want to purchase equipment which will allow us to do professional recordings in live indigenous settings.  We have the technological backbone we need, yet we need sound equipment.  We have found an ALESIS set-up that will work with the iPad and allow us to record up-to 4-tracks in real-time.  This set-up will be about $550.

The beauty of this is that we will be able to provide to you recordings of indigenous worship from around the world!

Media

Intercession

One of my big desires is to write a book.  What I envision this to be is a combination of Scripture, prayer, and stories from around the world of how God is changing live, communities, and nations.  We also want to publish some of these stories here on the blog, and use video/audio where appropriate and safe.  We would like to find three people who are published authors who would be willing to pray specifically for relationships with indigenous believers who would be willing to be interviewed and have their stories safely told.

Financial

As with the Arts/Entertainment financial needs, we have a financial need to make this all work.  We need to be able to record the conversations that we have with people (obviously with their permission) so that we capture their story.  We would then use that audio/video to put podcasts together, presentations, and serve as source material for blogs and books.  This equipment is a microphone/app set-up that costs about $250.

Finally, we would  like to purchase a projector that we can carry with us everywhere.  The particular projector is a 3M ultra-portable and runs (with the connection kit) about $325.

How to say “Yes”

If you would like to be involved with the aforementioned items, then here’s how to say “Yes.”

If you are a songwriter, worship leader, or member of a worship team, or you are an author and would like to commit to interceding for us, then you can email us at prayer@ledbytheword.com.  We will make sure we add you to our prayer alert and will keep you up-to-date with our schedule.

If you would like to sponsor a track for recording, or would like to help us purchase equipment, then simply email us at giving@ledbytheword.com.

Engaging The Spheres: Education and Government

For background on the ENGAGING THE SPHERES campaign, please review our earlier post: Engaging The Spheres: Overview.

On Tuesday, we presented a way for the Family to be engaged through prayer and finance with our family in the work of fulfilling the Great Commission.  Yesterday, we showed how Churches and Businesses can be involved.  Today, we turn our attention to Education and Government.

Education

Intercession

We are looking for people who work in the field of education–public or private–that will be willing to pray for the education of Emily and Caleb.  We homeschool, and it is going well.  Yet, it is hard to find consistency when your school room is a different room, building, country each day.  We ask that you would take a couple of minutes each day and pray for our kids to learn well.

We would also like to find a couple of school classes that would be willing to take a couple of minutes each day to pray for us.  We will provide you with prayer updates as well as make time available to Skype your class/send video/etc.

Emily leading prayer at Community Night

Emily leading prayer at Community Night

We are also looking for a couple of homeschool students who would like to be “pen pals” with Emily and Caleb.  We would want to facilitate this through email due to our travel and need to secure the communications.  Yet, this would help them stay connected to a friend.

Financial

We are looking for two options of financial engagement in the Education arena.  First, we are looking for a school (we understand this will likely be a Christian school) who is willing to partner with us during the school year.  Second, we are looking for three school/Sunday School/homeschool co-op classes who would be willing to partner.

With either grouping this looks the same.  We are looking for each person in the school/school group to bring $1 each month.  The school/group would write one check each month for the total donation amount.

We would keep each group involved in our ministry through regular updates and when we are in your area would make ourselves available to be face-to-face with your group.

Government

Intercession

What a huge opportunity we have with this one.  We are looking for three to five government employees (local, state, or federal) who are willing to commit to pray for government related issues as they arise.  For instance, we are working through the process of VISAs for an upcoming trip.  If you were one of these people, we would engage you through this process.  While we are in other nations, we would simply ask that you pray for favor from governmental officials.

Financial

When I saw the part of the white board that was headed “Government” in my dream, I couldn’t image what would be on it.  But, then it was very clear.  We pay taxes on every dime that is donated to our work, and we pay governmental fees in the form of VISAs, passport renewals, etc.  For 2013, we anticipate these taxes and fees to be about 25% of our total budget.  What we are looking for in this area is one person who will commit to paying these taxes and fees.

If you feel compelled to be a part of this yet don’t feel that you can commit to the full amount, then maybe you can afford to help us with VISA expenses.  For 2013, we anticipate these being $180 each for the four of us (total of $720).  Or, maybe you want to take one month worth of taxes.  We’re open to any/all of the above.

How to say “Yes”

If you’re in the education or governmental arena and wish to be involved then here’s how to say “Yes.”

To commit to interceding for us as a educator, school group, school, or a government employee, you can email us at prayer@ledbytheword.com.  We will make sure we add you to our prayer alert and will keep you up-to-date with our schedule.

If you want to partner with us financially, then simply email us at giving@ledbytheword.com.  If you are a school or school group, then please let us know the amount to which you are committing monthly.  If you are committing to covering governmental fees and taxes, then please let us know if you’re signing up for all of it or a smaller amount.

Engaging The Spheres: Churches and Business

For background on the ENGAGING THE SPHERES campaign, please review our earlier post: Engaging The Spheres: Overview.

Yesterday, we presented a way for the Family to be engaged through prayer and finance with our family in the work of fulfilling the Great Commission.  Today, we want to share the vision for churches and businesses.

Churches

Finance

We are looking for five churches who will partner with us at $250 per month and 5 churches who will partner with us at $100 per month.  These church partners can be congregations or small groups within congregations (life groups, cell groups, prayer groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, etc).

Intercession

From a prayer perspective, we will provide regular updates (video and/or text) to keep you up-to-date on what we are doing, where we are, etc.  Additionally, we will be conducting a tour around the US in the fall of 2013.  During this tour, we will schedule to be with your church or group and share with you–in person–what God is doing around the globe.

Additionally, if you have (or are involved in) a group focused on praying for the nations, praying for missionaries, or studying Operation World, then we want to talk with you.  We would love to provide you information from around the world with how you can be praying for the work going on.

Praying with a small business owner in Central Asia

Praying with a small business owner in Central Asia

Businesses

Intercession

We are looking for a group of business-people (like an FCCI group) who will commit to praying for us as a group in each of their meetings.  We will provide you with regular updates and prayer needs.  During our fall 2013 tour, we will schedule a time to be with you face-to-face and share with you how your prayers are impacting businesses and communities around the world for the Kingdom.

Finance

We believe that businesses are ordained by God to be lights within their community and beyond.  We cannot achieve the commission of Christ to take the Gospel into all of the world without business.  It’s critical both as a means to serve, and to support those who serve.  All are called.

Part of the ministry that God has called us to is to support work in areas that pastors and traditional missionaries cannot get in.  So, business people are going and establishing businesses.  They are hiring people.  They are running ethical, legal businesses for the purpose of profit.  Yet, they are furthering the kingdom as they run their business.  God has called us to come alongside these businesspeople and support them in prayer, counsel, and finance.

To that end, we are seeking three businesses who are willing to take 2% of the monthly gross profit from their business and use it to partner with us to achieve the objective to which God has called all of us.

How to say “Yes”

If your church or business is one of the ones that God is asking to join us, then here’s how you say “Yes.”

To commit to praying for our family email us at prayer@ledbytheword.com.  We will make sure we add you to our prayer alert and will keep you up-to-date with our schedule.

To join us financially, then simply email us at giving@ledbytheword.com.  If you are a church or church group, then please let us know the amount to which you are committing monthly.  If you are a business, then give us a rough idea of how much you would be committing monthly.

Engaging The Spheres: Family

For background on the ENGAGING THE SPHERES campaign, please review our earlier post: Engaging The Spheres: Overview.

The first of the seven spheres we’d like to engage is Family.  We believe that when God calls us to do something, He calls the entire family.  That’s the reason that Emily and Caleb are a part of this work that we do around the world.  God has called the entire family.

Our family inside the AyaSofya

Our family inside the AyaSofya

We also believe that when God calls us to provide prayer or financial support to a church, missionary, missions agency, or another place, He calls our entire family to be a part of that work.  Each of us are responsible to pray, raise funds, etc. for that call.

With that in mind, and understanding that at the center of the Seven Spheres of Influence is Family, we would like to ask your family to be a part of our work.

Intercession

We are building an intercession team for our family.  Each of us are finding five individuals that will cover us in prayer on a daily basis.  Stephanie and I are identifying five married couples to cover our marriage in prayer.  We are also looking for five families who will commit that they will cover our family in prayer.

We will support you in this commitment, by adding you to a regular prayer alert that will come in your email box.  This email will highlight the areas in which we individually need prayer, and in which we need prayer as a family.  All we ask is that each day (meal time, bed time, on the way to school, etc) you spend a few minutes praying–as a family–for our family.   If God gives you a word, verse, picture, image, feeling, etc. during that time of prayer, let us know.  It’s really that simple.  We give you specific prayer needs, and you cover us in prayer.

We should also say that this is reciprocal.  You will be prayed for by our family.  So bubble your prayer concerns back to us.

Financial

We are also looking for at least five families who will commit to supporting us financially.  Yet, we don’t want this to just be that Mom and Dad write a check each month.  We want your whole family engaged!

So, here’s what we would like to see.  Each person in the family is responsible for raising $10 each month.  For the kids, this could look like doing chores for mom and dad, raking the neighbors yard, etc.  For a family of 4, you would send a donation each month of $40.  Each member of the family will be contributing $10 each month.

How to say “Yes”

If your family is one of the families that God is asking to join us, then here’s how you say “Yes.”

To become a family committed to praying for our family email us at prayer@ledbytheword.com.  We will make sure we add you to our prayer alert and will keep you up-to-date with our schedule.

If your family would like to join us financially, then simply email us at giving@ledbytheword.com.  As a means of making sure our contact information is up-to-date, let us know the names, ages, and birthdates of each of your family members.  Unless you state otherwise, we will assume that you intend to commit to $10 per month per family member.  If you want or need to do more or less, then let us know what that amount will be so we can budget accordingly.

One last thing.  If you are not married, or you are and don’t have kids (or they’ve flown the nest), then you can still be a part of this.  Same rules apply!  We’d love to have you be a part of our ministry.

 

Engaging the Spheres: Overview

The other night, I had a dream.

We have been praying for several weeks that God would give us clear strategies for building our intercessory and financial support teams. He has given us a good intercessory team strategy, but we were still waiting for clarity on the fundraising piece.

Well, I had a dream.

In this dream, I saw a giant white-board (for those of you who knew me in my “business-days” you know how important the white board is to me). On this white-board, I saw seven boxes. In each of these boxes, there was a fundraising and prayer strategy. At the very top of the white board there was the phrase in all caps: ENGAGING THE SPHERES.

Every society can be divided into seven main areas (spheres of influence): Religion, Business, Family, Government, Education, Arts and Entertainment, and Media. The strategy on the white board engaged all seven of these spheres. For the past year or so, we have been learning more and more about how to impact a culture–societal transformation–for Christ requires touching every sphere of influence within the society.

I recently came across a video (see below) from the Lausanne Conference. In it, Mark Green, outlines two main strategies that the church has for reaching the unreached. These two strategies are:

  • Recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure time to join the missionary initiatives of church-paid workers.
  • Equip the people of God for fruitful mission in every area of their life.

Our goal as a ministry is to do the latter. How do we equip the people of God to understand, as our friend Bevin Ginder (@globalcast) puts it, that “Missions is not a task, but a story–epic even–that we have all been called into.”

So, when I saw the white board in my dream, I knew that God was giving us a strategy to equip–Engage–the whole body of Christ in every sphere of societal influence.

Over the next few days, we will be publishing a series of blogs and targeted emails for each one of the seven pieces of the strategy. In short, there is a way for everyone–regardless of their individual calling–to help propel the mission of fulfilling the Great Commission into all the world.

We invite you to be a part of this work.

Updated with links to each of the Seven Spheres (just click the link related to the field in which you work):

 

 

A Look Ahead

Since we’ve caught you up on the past few weeks, we wanted to take a minute to give you a look ahead. Our calendar has filled up through late summer 2013.

December 2012

We will be home–at least for most of the month. We are excited to be spending Advent at our home church, Acts 2 UMC in Edmond.

During this month, our focus will be on blogging (we’re bringing back our Advent Lectionary blog series, and we will be writing our Lenten series as well), relationship building, conversations, and fund-raising. We will also be with Michael’s mom and family for the Christmas holiday, and then back to Colorado for New Year’s with our Discipleship Group.

January 2013

After ringing in the New Year with our Discipleship Group in Estes Park, we will come back down through the Big Thompson Canyon and hang out with Michael’s step-mom and family in Loveland, Colorado for a few days. After that we will spend time with a couple of different churches, and then head back to Edmond for a couple of weeks.

February 2013 – July 2013

We will be heading back to Central Asia for a six-month visit on 1 February. We will be in two different nations (three-months each). The first three months will be for a YWAM Secondary School called the School of Strategic Missions. This school is focused on providing the students with a holistic view of missions within this “4th-Wave” of mission that we’re currently in. The second-half of this time will be learning how to take heart-language Bible and heart-language culture and turn those into expressions of worship that are wholly indigenous.

How You Can Help

Prayer

We need your prayers. Prayers are the one thing that helps us most working within the 10/40 Window. We need you to cover us individually, as a family, as a married couple, our health, our sanity, etc. Basically, in every minute area of our lives, we need your prayers. We cannot–and will not–do the work we do without prayer. If you would like to be a part of our prayer team, then please contact us at prayer@ledbytheword.com and we’ll add you to our prayer update list.

Conversation

We love to talk! We would love the opportunity to chat with you and find out what is going on in your life and share more in-depth about the work we are doing around the world, and what we are dreaming. We are available via phone, email, or Skype. Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. You can find our contact information on the Contact Us page.

Finance

We do not recieve a salary for our work. We are volunteers, and thus meeting our monthly budget is completely dependent on gifts/donations. If you would like to donate to our lives and ministry, then you may do so by clicking here.

We would be honored if you would consider making a one-time contribution. If you would like to commit to a monthly recurring contribution, then email us at giving@ledbytheword.com.

 

Tea With A Stranger

One of the most beautiful phrases in all of Scripture (at least in my reading) is “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” (Luke 24:28)

The story preceding this phrase is a wonderful scene. Two men. Walking down a road. Downtrodden. Confused. Hurt. Insulted. Struggling to cope with what has become their reality.

Their Messiah, or at least the One they thought was their Messiah, is dead. Hope crushed. Dreams dashed.

It’s the ending that no one ever dreamt would come. This Man was supposed to be the Rescuer. He was supposed to be the one who would make all things right again. Who would, as John said, bring light into darkness [John 1].

But, tragedy strikes. And these two men are left to deal with it. And all they can think to do is walk home.

On their journey, they are face-to-face with a stranger. Together they walk and talk, and when they reach their destination, they–in true “warm culture” fashion–invite the stranger to stay.

“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.”

Glasses of Çay in Central Asia

Glasses of Çay in Central Asia

Or, as they would say in modern-day Central Asia, “Come in for çay (tea).”

Not a question. A statement.

Not a suggestion. A presumption.

The risk with this invitation is it’s ability to be life-altering. Intently, these men have listened as this Stranger has talked to them about the goings-on in Jerusalem. Intently, they have listened as He explained centuries worth of prophecies and Rabbinical thought. And, now, they ask Him to stay for dinner. Perhaps it is so that He can tell more stories. Share more thoughts.

But….

What these men didn’t know was they were inviting Jesus–the Messiah–to stay with them.

And, then, it happens. Reality itself changes. Their Messiah is alive and in the same room with them. Hope restored. Dreams renewed. Life revealed.

What a story. A simple walk and an unexpected dinner guest, changes everything about their present reality.

And, here we are today, some in dark reality, some in hopelessness, some in confusion, some in just moments of tiredness. And, there He is, the Stranger walking next to you. Wanting to talk with you about that reality.

Will you invite Him in for a cup of çay?

 

Burnin’ It Up

On Monday, we moved a different part of İstanbul. This particular area is known to be “more Islamic” than the rest of the city. In fact, it’s even named for the prayers that Muslims pray five times each day. There are fourteen mosques within walking distance (which makes for a lot of noise during the calls to prayer).

Hidden within this area is a place of refuge above the fray. It’s a 24/7 House of Prayer. We are calling it home for the rest of our time in this city.

Worship in the Prayer Room

Worship in the Prayer Room

The beautiful part of all this is that we are spending about 6 hours each day in times of corporate prayer, worship, and intercession for the nation of Turkey. Such an amazing thing to be able to step out on the rooftop terrace, see a view of this great city, and sing “Fire Fall Down”!

Prior to leaving for this trip, our team spent some time in prayer asking for God to give us a vision of the work that He wanted to do. The first item on that three item list was worship. Worship is the avenue by which we enter the presence of God. It is the avenue by which we ask God to move within the hearts and minds of the people of this nation. It is the avenue by which we ask God to redeem and restore this land to its for heritage as a center of Christianity.

Fire fall down!

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. (Psalm 100:1, 3-5 MSG)

 

A Call To Prayer

Perhaps, one of the most striking things for an Westerner in Turkey (and maybe any Muslim country) are the calls to prayer. Each mosque (Camii (pronounced Jam-ē)) has a minaret. From each minaret, five times a day, a call to prayer is sounded.

Friday afternoon at the Mehmetpaşa Camii

Friday afternoon at the Mehmetpaşa Camii

It is interesting to me that when the call to prayer sounds nothing changes. People don’t stop to pray. The hustle and bustle keeps hustling and bustling. Only on Friday afternoons, will you see people stopped, and then only a few.

Turkey is a very moderate society. While the nation is officially not a religious nation (it has been said that the religion of Turkey was nationalism), the nation is about 99% Muslim. Yet, as one Kurdish Muslim told us “in İstanbul only about 10% practice even one of the five pillars”. This is not consistent across the nation as areas in the East and South (bordering Syria, Iran, and Iraq) are more conservative Islamic.

And herein lies the opportunity–and the challenge–within Turkey. Many of the younger people struggle to understand religion. They view the Mosque with disregard. It’s just a building with tall tower that plays a catchy tune five times a day. Yet, to remove this from their nation would be to remove a piece of the national identity. Meanwhile, even though the Mosque holds no answers about God for them, to leave the Muslim faith they were born into would be to step on their heritage–worse yet, it would be to step on their nation.

Fuad Paşa Camii

Fuad Paşa Camii

So, the calls to prayer ring out. Five times a day you hear the Muezzin call out: “Allah Akbar (God is the greatest). Ash-Hadi an-la illaha illa llah (I bear witness that there is no deity except God). Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-Rasulullah (I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God). Hayya ‘ala s-salah (Come to prayer). Hayya ‘ala ‘l-falah (Come to success). Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest). La ilaha illa-Akbar (There is no diety except God).” And five times a day, you see life go on as if nothing had happened.

All this to bring me to this point. If there were five calls to prayer every day where you live, would you stop to pray? Or, do you live such a moderate lifestyle that the call to prayer would be nothing more than background noise in an already noisy day?

And, yet, in his letter to the church at Thessalonika, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to pray continually. Not just five times a day, but rather all day every day. Continually. So, the call to prayer is–right now–ringing out.

Will you answer it?