Praying the price (part 1)

We will not see the move of God we long for unless it is preceded by a prayer movement. Are we praying the price?

In 1983, Tony and I had the privilege of going to Korea where we spent time at Full Gospel Central Church. At that time, it was the largest church in the world and  Dr Paul Yonggi Cho was the pastor. Our question going there was two fold. Was this work “an inch deep and a mile wide,” or, if it was deeper than that, what, if any, was the secret to the remarkable things they were seeing?

The first night we were there, we went to their all night prayer meeting. We arrived an hour early to find the place (which seated about 10,000 at the time) already filled with people praying. Every seat was taken and there were more on the floor in the aisles. Mothers had babies on their backs, children were sleeping on the ground. There were older people, younger people, all praying and worshipping.  We didn’t understand a word of what was going on, but the presence of God was so real it felt almost tangible. When the meeting started, everyone began praying loudly and simultaneously.  The whole auditorium was on its feet, storming heaven, arms raised, some with fists clenched, tears running down their cheeks. A few were kneeling, their tears dripping to the floor. It was profoundly moving. At one point I looked at my watch. Forty minutes later, someone rang a bell and the praying stopped. Then another topic was announced and off they went again. This went on all night with the occasional break to sing a hymn.

A couple of days later we visited their “Prayer and Fasting Mountain.” Some people fasting for forty days. Some were there to pray until they received healing. Because it was so cold (13 degrees F) many were lying on the floor in sleeping bags. We visited the tiny cubicles cut into the mountain, where people stayed to fast and pray until God met them.

We heard story after story of the miracles God did in response to prayer. Healings, businesses restored, lives transformed by meeting Jesus.

At the end of our time there I was convinced we were seeing a genuine and deep move of God. And the reason? The people there were praying the price.

Full Gospel Central Church

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When ideas go viral

John White loves to create practical ideas that go viral through story-telling. The Luke 10:2b prayer is just one example. It is going all around the world–in fact, just this morning I had an email from someone in India who is using it. I have no idea where he may have heard of it.

Another idea John helped to create is Lk10. This is a community of  practice for church planters  that revolves around rhythms that focus on what Jesus is doing as people start simple churches. We love what they represent.

Here is a video of John interviewing simple church network leader, Jim Mellon.

How to catch a virus

There’s a virus that going around the world. It’s a dangerous virus that could change your life. Unlike most other viruses, I hope you catch it.

This virus is the 10:2b virus. It comes from Luke 10 and verse 2.

These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.

The 10:2b virus started when a couple of friends of ours, John White and Kenny Moore, were discussing one morning over breakfast how to find more church planters for their state. As they chatted, they remembered the verse in Luke 10 where Jesus commanded the disciples (both the 12 and the 72) to pray the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers into the harvest. They decided to try it for a week–calling each other daily on the phone. The week extended into months and eventually years of prayer together on a daily basis.

The results were so life-changing in terms of the number of people starting churches in their state as a specific answer to this prayer, they knew it needed to spread.  And so the idea of the Luke 10:2b virus was born. As John and Kenny told their story everywhere, others joined them, praying in pairs daily over the phone that the Lord of the harvest would thrust out more laborers into the harvest. Many people set the alarm on their phone for 10:02 am or pm to remind them to pray.

Luke 10:2 comes from Jesus teaching to his disciples on how to reach out to others. Luke 10 is a foundational passage for disciple-making and church planting movements around the world.

  • According to Jesus, the problem isn’t the harvest.   In another place, Jesus says to the disciples, “You say there are still 4 months left until harvest, but I tell you, the harvest is ready now” (paraphrase of John 4:35).  We give God excuses as to why the harvest isn’t ready–”My area is too hard, no one is interested,”  As soon as I finish this, (think of an excuse) I’ll go out and find a ripe field.”  But the Lord of the harvest says, “Now’s the time!”
  • The real problem is too few workers.  But hold on.  Jesus had 72+12= 84 workers.  That’s 42 pairs of people who were going out into the harvest.  Surely that’s enough!  If we had that number of committed church planting teams here in our area, we’d be thrilled.  But according to Jesus, that’s inadequate for the task.  It reminds me of the old story.  How do you get a herd of cows to produce more milk?  Do you feed them better food, give them extra vitamins, play them soothing music in their stalls?  That might help a little (well the food and vitamins, anyway).  No, the best way to significantly increase milk production is to add more cows to your herd!  It’s a bit like this here.  It’s easier to see more harvest by increasing the number of workers than by trying to persuade the existing ones to work harder or smarter.  
  • Jesus’ solution to the problem is this:  Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into the harvest.  We are to pray (beseech, beg) the Lord to send out more workers.  The Greek word used her for “send out” is ekballo which has an element of violence in it.  It’s the word used for casting out a demon. This is not a quiet, gentle prayer. It’s a violent, take it by force prayer.

We won’t see a disciple-making movement without a prayer movement.  

fireworks

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An Army of Ordinary People

Which is more effective in the long term? A highly skilled evangelist (think Billy Graham or a gifted pastor) or An Army of Ordinary People sharing the good news of Jesus everywhere they go?  Much as I appreciate and value evangelists, I believe equipping people to do the work of an evangelist (which, according to Ephesians 4:11-12 is what an evangelist should do) will have a greater impact.

In my experience, while it obviously needs the work of the Holy Spirit, there are three main contexts in which a person is likely to become a follower of Jesus:

  1. When Jesus meets them at their point of need–eg after prayer for healing, or for finance etc. (Luke 10:9)
  2. In response to our story and the story of Jesus (Acts 26)
  3. As they explore the word of God is a participatory (Discovery) Bible study. This is the context in which we’ve seen whole groups find Jesus. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Therefore, there are some skills we need to acquire:

  1. How to pray in faith–which means taking risks
  2. How to tell our story in a way that is neither religious nor self-righteous (nor full of Christianese) and then bridge into the story of Jesus
  3. How to introduce people to and lead them in a participatory Bible study

All of this can be simple enough that a new disciple can train others too.

What do you think?

Iwo Jima

The mystery of healing

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while will remember the amazing story of Rosaura and her son, Jose (and another story here).

Healing is a mystery! As a church, we’ve many times seen the Lord step in and heal. But not on every occasion. This time,  Rosaura is instantly healed from 30 years of alcoholism and drug addiction with no withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, within a week, her son, Jose, is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Today, Jose had his fifth major brain surgery, this time to completely remove the tumor. In the past, the surgeon had deliberately left some of the tumor in order to preserve Jose’s eyesight. Today, the surgeon found “a mess” when he operated. One piece of good news. What they thought was tumor pressing on his optic nerve turned out to be a blood clot. But as he was operating to remove the remainder of the tumor that had entwined around a major blood vessel, a small blood vessel burst, and there was a large amount of bleeding. He was only able to clamp the vessel and quickly end the operation without being able to remove all the tumor.

The danger is that Jose has suffered a stroke from the bleed in his brain.

Jose is an outstanding young man who loves Jesus with all his heart. He has a delightful sense of humor, is a natural leader, and was set on becoming a nurse until the latest set of complications occurred and he had to give up his place in nursing school. I have no doubt that God has plans for Jose’s life.

Please pray with us for Jose. Pray he makes a full recovery with no signs of stroke. Pray that we, his church family, learn all we need to about the mystery of healing. And pray that the Master-Physician steps in and heals Jose completely, and that he, alone, gets the glory for a miracle.

Update: I just received a video from Rosaura showing Jose raising both hands in the air. Thank you, Lord!

How I reversed osteoporosis

Just over a year ago, I had my annual medical. After a routine bone-density scan, the diagnosis came back: osteoporosis. The doctor offered me an array of pharmaceutical options.

I am no stranger to osteoporosis. Both my mother, and my mother-in-law, have suffered collapsed vertebrae–a very painful condition. In my  90-year-old mother’s case, she had to give up independent living and reside in a nursing home.

So when the doctor told me I had osteoporosis, I took it very seriously.

“Will you give me one year to try natural ways of dealing with it?” I asked.

He agreed, but told me that one year later, he would repeat the scan, and if he saw no change, I would have to take medications.

At home, I reviewed the medical websites, and altered the regimen of vitamins and minerals I take accordingly.

I knew that exercise needed to play a key part in what I did. The kids had some P90X videos lying around the house, and I decided to try them.  P90X is a series of more than 12 videos, and I love the variety. Disclaimer: P90X is an intense and extreme workout–not to be used by someone who is unfit. I do not come from a particularly athletic family, so exercise has never been a large part of my lifestyle, but a few years back, the Lord spoke to Tony and me telling us we were to get fit, so I had at least been working out from time to time before I started.

I took the P90X videos very slowly, starting with tiny weights, and gradually increasing. I still do most of the push-ups on my knees, and the pull-ups using a resistance band, and I modify many of the activities. Would you believe that my favorite video exercise is kick-boxing? I’m way fitter than I used to be.

Last month, I had my annual medical again.

I no longer have osteoporosis! Thank you, Jesus! (The doctor said he’d never seen that extensive a reversal before).

It feels like I did nothing special. All I did was be consistent. I showed up, and kept showing up all year. One hour of exercise per day, usually five or more days a week. And it has made a very significant difference.

For some reason this has felt very empowering.

I realize how often just showing up and doing a little has created accomplishments in my life. Like writing books: you eat an elephant one bite at a time. For example, as a student, I went through the Navigators Topical Memory System, and for several years learned three verses a week. (I just wish I could still remember the references too!) Often when the Lord has used me it’s been the end result of consistent small steps.

So at the beginning of this year, I’m asking the Lord, what goals do you have for me this year, and what small steps do you want me to take consistently?

Take small steps

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You are a house of prayer: Guest post by Jared White

Some time ago, Jared White wrote a comprehensive and detailed review of  The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church. I was amazed and blessed at the amount of work he put into it–it might easily be the best review I’ve seenSince that time, he and I have corresponded over various matters. So when he offered to write a guest post for me, I jumped at the opportunity.

Here’s what Jared writes:

When you hear the phrase “house of prayer,” what do you think of? The famous scene where Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple? Perhaps a special event at your church? Your own house? Pancakes…I mean, IHOP (aka the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO) or related movements?

Follow me on a little rabbit trail, and I’ll paint a picture for you that may surprise you.

When Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple because of their greed and hypocrisy, he quoted from the prophet Isaiah:

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)

The common understanding of this passage is that Jesus was referring to the Temple in Jerusalem since that’s where the incident took place. But this understanding is based on an Old Testament mindset, not a New Testament revelation of Jesus. Numerous times in the Gospels, Jesus prophesied about the nature of the Temple, and this is the what He said:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Matthew 26:61, Mark 13:2, Mark 14:58, John 2:19)

Furthermore, Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple, saying “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” What was Jesus talking about?

In A.D. 70, 37 years after Jesus’ death, the Temple in Jerusalem was demolished by the Roman army. To this day, there are no sacrificial offerings being made in a Hebraic Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the temple Jesus referred to when He said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” was not a building or a location. He was referring to Himself!

Yes, Jesus is the Temple! Indeed, He was destroyed by dying upon a Roman cross at the instigation of the religious authorities, and He was raised up on the third day by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, the true date of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem was not the year 70 (the time of its physical destruction), but the year 33 (the time of its spiritual conclusion). What am I talking about? At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the Holy of Holies was ripped in two (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), signifying the religious system as established in the Old Testament had been fulfilled in Christ as the complete and final sacrifice for all sin for all time, and that God’s Holy Presence would be with all of His people—now a Holy Priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices through Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

There is much more to be said about the significance of this revelation, and the letter written to the Hebrews in the New Testament goes into it in great detail. It would be glorious indeed if our story stopped there and we grasped the magnificence of this doctrine that Jesus is both Temple and High Priest. But the story continues!

The Apostle Paul takes things a step further in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In the context of addressing divisions and jealousy in the church, Paul makes this startling statement:

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Crazy talk! What is Paul really saying? That you are the holy temple of God? You?!?! Not a church building, not a place to congregate, not a sacred altar in a sacred location, but you?

Incredible, isn’t it? Your very person, your very life, is a vessel which God prepares to receive Himself through the process of sanctification. When you believe in Jesus Christ and are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are transformed into a sacred place, a dwelling place for the Divine.

Paul repeats this again a little later on, this time in the context of sexual immorality. Paul entreats the people in the church to glorify God in their bodies by fleeing from sexual immorality, saying “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Now I realize that we all have at various times felt shamed or guilty due to this verse. It’s not a comforting thought to think of our messed up lives as a temple of God. “Gee God, your temple is looking pretty shabby and in disrepair.” But Paul reminds us that we were bought with a price. What price? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loves us, even in the midst of our pain, our barrenness, our shame. It is Christ who cleanses us and makes us clean, not our own efforts. He paid a high price to make you His Temple, to make me His Temple.

So, a quick recap: Jesus Christ is the Temple, and as little christs (Christians), you and I are temples of the Holy Spirit. Which brings us back around to my original question: what do you think of when you hear the phrase “house of prayer” now? Here is what you should think of:

You!

Me!

Every Christian!

You are a house of prayer. There is no religious obligation to attend a house of prayer at your church or a “missions base” or anywhere else in order to commune with the Almighty. God has no desire to dwell in a house built by human hands. To the contrary, “the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands” (Acts 7:48) but “we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:6)

Now let me clarify, I am completely in favor of gathering together for prayer. To those saints who labor day and night in prayer meetings seeking the Lord, be blessed mightily in Jesus’ name! My point here is to present an ecclesiology which places a low emphasis on buildings and programs and events and a high emphasis on spiritual relationship and identity. Our very identity as Christians is that we are a house of prayer and we are God’s Temple. (2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21)

On a practical level, what does it mean to be a house of prayer? I’ll be honest with you. This is where I am still “in process” and learning what God wants me to know about this rich topic. I can say this, however—when this revelation of being a “house of prayer” first came to me, my prayer life which had previously been rather stagnant entered into a new renaissance! You see, I’d had this idea that prayer is something I do. Now, I’m beginning to realize that prayer is something I am. Before, I thought, I had to bring to God an impressive-sounding list of petitions and conjure up a lot of faith for Him to notice. Now, I simply bring myself and my heart. Prayer then is simply me and God being together, sharing each other — hopes, fears, concern for others, desire to love more, everything.

I’ll leave you with these verses to meditate on:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“As you come to him [the Lord], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

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About Jared

I am a writer, musician, visual artist, and dad. I regularly publish blog posts, essays, music, and art about the things I’m deeply passionate about on my website. Follow me on Twitter

Jared White

In memoriam: James Rutz

In 1996, a coach at our kids’ school handed our son, Jon, a small brochure written by Jim Rutz. It had a lion on the front cover, and was about a different kind of church that Jim envisioned and called “open church.” Our hearts resonated with the message, because it described a kind of church that we had tasted back in the UK but had searched in vain for here in the States.

It was a joy to meet Jim shortly after this when he organized a conference to discuss these ideas (with the Dunns from New Zealand). Jim quickly became a firm friend. We loved his quirky sense of humor (his home had cartoon characters on the blinds), his hunger to know more of Jesus, his loyalty to his friends. He was generous to a fault–the videos that our son, Tim, made for House2House were only possible because of Jim’s generosity.

Jim started an organization to promote the ideas behind open church–a church where Jesus was the leader, all of us were participants, the Holy Spirit was the MC. He held conferences around the country that many of us who were later involved in the house/simple/organic church movement attended.

We were part of a different group with Jim that met for several years with no vision and purpose except to wait on God and hear what he said to us. They were extraordinary times, and Jim was an integral part of them. Jim stayed with us in our home several times, and we had the privilege of staying in his amazing home with spectacular views over Colorado Springs. We’ve had many a conversation about the Kingdom lasting late into the night.

Jim’s book The Open Church touched many lives and was perhaps the forerunner to the house church movement in this country. His other well known book,  Megashift: Igniting Spiritual Power impacted people around the world, demonstrating (with copious citations and footnotes) that Jesus still works miracles and heals people today.

It was with surprise and great sadness that we learned two days ago that Jim had gone to be with the Lord he loved and served with all his heart.

We’ll miss you, Jim, but rejoice that you are now in Jesus’ presence, face to face with your Lord. One day we’ll meet again….

Jim Rutz

Who leads your church?

The key skill to making disciples and planting churches is an ability to recognize God’s voice. Do we know when he is speaking to us? Can we distinguish his voice from our own thoughts? Many of us have learnt how to do this on an individual basis, but how many churches put into practice the fact that “we have the mind of Christ”? Together we can hear his plans and directions for us. Is Jesus the one who leads your church? The church that meets in our home is in a transitional phase. We have become a very close-knit group over the time we have met together. We are now fairly sure that the Lord is leading us to multiply out into various different groups with an emphasis on reaching out to those who do not yet know him. So last Friday, when we came together, we set aside part of our time together to listen to him about the future of our church. God spoke clearly. Each of us spent time on our own listening to Jesus and asking him the question, “Jesus, what is your vision and plan for us as your body?” When we came back, some had pictures,others had a series of words, there was a clear passage of Scripture. And there was a common theme. Although we need to spend more time weighing what the Lord said to us, the general sense was very clear. We will need to ask the Lord more questions about how to put into practice what he has told us to do, but “we have the mind of Christ.” Listening

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