Prayer walking

One of the practices that characterizes most of the church planting movements I’m familiar with is an emphasis on prayer walking. It is a core component of the process that results in rapidly multiplying disciples.  If the Lord leads us to start a church in a certain neighborhood, we do well to prepare the ground by prayer walking.

When we started a church in the low income housing projects, the first thing we did was to prepare the ground in prayer.

In Matthew 12, Jesus gives an illustration in his defense against an attack by the Pharisees. They accused him of casting out demons by the power of the devil. He replied, “How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his goods.” (verse 29)

Who is the strong man Jesus refers to here? It is Satan or one of his minions. What are his goods? It’s the people who he’s taken captive.

In Joshua 1:3, God tells Joshua that he will give him every place where he sets his feet. There is something about praying “on site with insight” that prepares the way for the Lord to come.

What does prayer walking consist of?

  1. We survey the land: When Moses sent the spies into the land of Canaan, he was effectively doing a spiritual survey of the land before they went in (Numbers 13:1-25). We walk the area taking note of anything of spiritual significance and asking the Lord for wisdom and understanding as to what is going on in the area.
  2. We ask the Lord for his plan for the area
  3. We establish a prayer team: Jesus sent out the disciples two by two, praying as they went.
  4. We physically walk the area. As we do so we are praying that God will reclaim the area:
  • We praise and thank God and bless the area and the people who live there. We bless everyone who impacts the area–the police, the education system, etc.
  • We pray for the welfare of the people who live there. In Jeremiah 29:7, the people of Israel were told to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, even though it was the land where they were held in captivity.
  • We demolish the strongholds that are there. Jesus has all authority, and he has given us that authority to bind the demonic powers that hold the people who live in that area. We use spiritual weapons to overcome these demonic powers.
  • We repent for the problems of the area. We are priests, and as such, can pray for the redemption of the people of the area.

Psalm 2:8 says, “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your possession.

Prayer walking

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Does prayer make a difference? (Part 2)

Sometimes it takes a story to help us realize just how much of a difference prayer makes.

We have friends in India who picked two villages to visit. One of the villages they prayed for and the other they did not. When they later went in to proclaim the good news of Jesus, the village they had not prayed for threw them out. In the other village, the one they had prayed for, 45 families became believers.

We so easily take prayer for granted without realizing its incredible potential power.

Indian village

 

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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!

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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A successful pattern for multiplying disciples

It’s 2001, and Tony and I are in India where we are speaking at a conference. Another of the speakers is from India, and he’s someone we’ve wanted to meet for a long time because we’ve heard that he’s in the middle of an extraordinary, multiplying church planting movement. So in every break, I take the opportunity to pummel him with questions.

One of the first is this: “Where do you find the principles that are leading to the extraordinary growth you are seeing?”
His answer? “They come in Luke 10.”

In fact, it doesn’t matter where in the world you go, if you ask the people who are seeing exponential church multiplication, they come back to this same passage.

So let’s take a look at Luke chapter 10. Note that there are similar principles discussed in Luke 9 and Matthew 10. It seemed to be Jesus’ modus operandi when reaching out to places he hadn’t yet visited. We’ll meander through these verses over a series of blog posts.

*The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.* (Luke 10:1)

Often when we train people, we’ll have them study this passage looking for four symbols: a question mark (is there something you don’t understand?); a light-bulb (what was an “aha” moment for you in this verse, something that seemed to make things come clear?); an arrow (what do you need to do or change in order to obey this verse?) and an ear (who do you know who needs to hear what you’ve been learning? Who will you share it with?)

Here are some of the points that usually come out of verse 1.

1. Jesus chose 72 others. Who were they “other” to? The twelve (see the beginning of Luke 9). So in all, he had 84 disciples he was working with.
2. He sent them ahead of him to all the towns and places he planned to visit. If Jesus sends you somewhere, for example, if you change jobs, or move house, it’s because he wants to touch the new workplace or neighborhood via you.
3. He sent them out in pairs, not in large numbers. Often, when an established church is trying to reach a new neighborhood, they send out a team of people including a musician, someone who can teach, people to take care of the kids etc. That wasn’t the way Jesus operated.
4. Why in pairs and not alone? For support and accountability.

Jesus had a plan for that area and a strategy for reaching it. He sent the disciples out—“You two can go to this village. You two will meet someone at an inn on the road to this city….”

What did the disciples have to do? They listened to Jesus and then they obeyed him.

Does Jesus have a strategy for your area? Of course!
How do we find out Jesus’ strategy? We listen to Him and we obey him.

multiplication

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To all the ladies: forgive us (Brandon Chase)

This last weekend, we had a round table in Dallas based on our book, The Black Swan Effect. It was an extraordinary time, with a sometimes overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence. God spoke to us clearly. The climax of the day was a powerful time of ministry led by Brandon Chase, where on behalf of men, he spoke to women, “Forgive us!”  Many of those present were profoundly touched, healed and set free. Brandon blogged about what he shared and has graciously given me permission to use his post. 

Having now run several of these round tables in Texas, the team now feels ready to offer them in other parts of the country. If you’re interested in facilitating one in your area, please get in touch with me.

Here’s what Brandon shared:

As I think back upon my life, and spiritual journey, it is not a stretch to say that a majority of any fruitfulness can be traced to Seeds of Sisters that were planted in me:

  • I can remember from my earliest years, as a boy, running into the room where my Great-Grandmother, Granny, lived with us. She would either be doing one of two things, watching Geraldo, or reading her beat up Bible. She would routinely scoop me up into her lap and tell me about Jesus.
  • As a pre-teen, when the rest of my family had stopped attending “church,” for some reason, I would often want to go, still. My Grandparents, and in particular, my Grandmother, Maw Maw, would make sure that I was there.
  • I love both of my parents, and respect them deeply. But I was always closer to my Mom. It was with her that I would spend hours on baseball road-trips, and evenings into the early morning – talking about life and all of its dimensions.
  • My greatest failure in life involved hurting my greatest love, my bride. Gloriously, it was in the healing after-effects of this where I really came to know Jesus for the first time. It was in His eyes of Grace, through my wife, that I saw Him.
  • During this same time frame, the person who was single-handedly most impactful in pointing not only me to Jesus, but both Marie and I, was our counselor, Beverly Ross. She was Christ incarnate to us, and we are eternally grateful.

All of these were “Spiritual” in the sense of growing me into a knowing of God, but none were in the context of how we have commonly seen “ministry” or “church.” But it was, however, Life.

I see it as no coincidence that I am a Daddy, raising two Ladies in the Kingdom.

A little more than a year ago, I wrote what amounts to a letter to them, in which I expressed my heart, a Father’s Heart, for them in the context of their Life in this Kingdom, the Church. When I read it back to myself, it dawned on me that I also see this as Father’s Heart for all of His Daughters. I have a lot of new readers since I wrote that, so if you haven’t, you may want to take a minute and do so now.

I have a dream, and my dream is Jesus.

He has a dream, and His dream is you.”

This is my heart for my daughters, and this is my understanding of Father’s heart for His Daughters. But, I know this hasn’t always been your experience, or reality. Sadly, more often than not, it has felt like what my friend Kate Wallace poetically wrote recently. It has felt like a box.

…I came to you, and you met me

You loved and cared for me

You grew me and taught me

You fashioned me and called me
 
And I took what you had given me and went back to the place I had first heard about you

I was filled with anticipation – what would they have me do?
You had given me so many gifts
 
Perhaps I could speak about you

Perhaps I could teach others to follow you

Perhaps I could spread your message to the world

Perhaps I could invite others to your table, to take part in your supper
 
For they had always prayed for you to raise up people of my generation

They had always said how desperately your Kingdom needed more voices, more hearts, more hands, and more feet
 
So, with anticipation I presented myself to them

Only to be confused by their response
 
For when I offered them this voice that you had given me

When I offered them these hands that you had strengthened

When I offered them these feet that you had guided
 
They gave me a box
 
They gave me a box in which to keep my passion

They gave me a box in which to store my wisdom

They gave me a box in which to put my words

They gave me a box to hold my hands and my feet
They gave me a box and they told me it was your “will” for me as a woman
 
When I asked if they had a box that fit a bit better, they told me to be happy with what you had given me

When I told them you had given me things that wouldn’t fit inside the box, they told me I must be mistaken

When I asked if there was anything else they could offer, they told me the box was a perfect place to keep my questions…

Ladies, I know that many of you would say that you feel this. That this has been your experience, your reality… your pain.

I want you to hear, I need you to hear – that what has caused your pain is not right. It is not ok. It is not your fault.

On behalf of all of the Brothers throughout the Church:

I confess, that we have believed a lie, we have been deceived away from Father’s Dream for His Daughters, our Sisters – one of inclusive inclusion in His Oneness of co-equality, co-creativity, and co-reign. We have instead accepted an un-reality of separation. We have caused you much pain.

I repent. On behalf of Brothers everywhere, we choose to change our mind about Father, about you, and about us. We agree with Dad that He has included all His kids, male and female, into His Family, equally.

I ask for your forgiveness. On behalf of all the Brothers, we desire reconciliation. We desire unity, togetherness, inclusion, co-___, Oneness. We desire for The Box to be forever dismantled.

Earlier, I stopped short of including the finale of Kate’s poem:

…And so I come to you
 
Me, and everything you have given me

Me, and everything you have created me to be

Me, and everything you have called me to
 
And the box
 
I’m a bit bruised from trying to fit inside of it
 

And now that I’m standing in front of you, I realize that you don’t want me to
And I see that I have a choice
 
I can keep this box they have given me and throw out all the things that don’t fit

I can ignore the time I spent with you, the gifts you have given me, the calling you gave me

I can dismember my soul in order to fit into the dimensions of the box

I can live for them and let their box define me
 
Or
 
I can trust the way you made me, the way you prepared me, the way you called me

I can lean on you for guidance and walk in the footsteps of brave women who’ve gone before me

I can live fully alive in you and trust that you are a God who is bigger than the box
 

I can set the box down and walk away

I can live for you and let you define me
 
They gave me a box – and called it yours

You offer me freedom – and call it mine
 
So I take the box

And put it on a shelf

And label it history
 
Then I take your hand and we walk away, because life with you is far better than life in a box”

Here’s the beauty of the Gospel – The Box died with Christ on the Cross.

What we hear as the Good News is that all are included, equally, from before time.

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We exist in the Fellowship of the Divine, together. This is our Objective Reality.

But we’ve been living a lie.

The Fall veiled our Reality – and moved us into an existence of un-reality.

This un-reality of “the knowledge of good and evil” is hallmarked by fear, the need to control, shame, hiding, scapegoating, comparing, desiring what another has, defining….separating.

This un-reality created boxes – one of which was rift between man and woman.

The essence of religion is mankind working, efforting to get back, to get right with God.

Religion (wrong tree) creates “right/wrong,” “in/out” – it says man is greater than woman, in authority over woman, can do things for God that women cannot.

Religion is existing in an un-reality in our minds of separation from God… and from each other. And we’ve read all of this into our Bibles and understanding of who God is, and what He has for us.

But – the Lamb…

The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. We all died in Christ – therefore, so did the Box, so did the comparisons. So did the un-reality of separation.

We all are raised in Christ, and in Him live. The veil of un-reality in our minds has forever been torn so that we can subjectively experience and manifest what objectively, eternally always has been, and already is.

We are One with Divine (Father, Son, Spirit) – and One with each other.

We share THEIR image and likeness. We have been reconciled. It is ours now, to be in our reconciled Truth (reality) with and in God, and each other. We must reconcile in our own minds the Truth of our inclusive inclusion in Trinitarian Life.

So…..

I want to practically, and supernaturally practice this ministry of reconciliation, together.

Ladies… If you have never had a man, a Brother, confess for the wrong, the pain, the sin committed and caused toward you – I am that man. I stand in the gap on their behalf. I confess, that I have believed and acted out of un-reality toward you.

If you’ve never seen repentance from a man, a Brother, who has made you to feel “less than” in the Body – I am that man. I stand in the gap on their behalf. I repent. I change my mind. I see, believe and will live from Divine Oneness and Inclusion in the shared image and likeness. I turn away from separation from each other, and choose to see the Divine imprint in all humanity, especially the female form.

Finally, on behalf of all men, I am the man who humbly asks your forgiveness. That, together, we move forward in Unified Oneness – in Love – that a hungry and broken and watching world that is still living a veiled un-reality – may see and know that our Father is Love, that by our Love of one another, we too, are Love – and that in seeing Love, they too would know Him – Love – within.

Then I take your hand and we walk away, because life with you is far better than life in a box.”

Our Life, our Reality, is in Him, with Him, One with Him. There is no Box, only the lie of a Box that has been allowed to be told, and lived in. The Truth is, we can only Really exist, together. I need you. You need me. We need each other. We are better (The Best), together. As we take His hand, let us do so hand in hand, unboxed, and walk with Him… with each other.

I love you. God bless you.

///

Brothers, I urge you, to ask Holy Spirit about the Ladies in your life. Consider your legacy and lineage. Consider what you’ve seen, what you’ve experienced, what you’ve done. Then, ask Him to show you what they have seen, experienced, and had done to them. In His mind, weare reconciled, One. If you can see that, it may be yours now to supernaturally allow space for that reconciliation to be subjectively received, experienced, manifested. In my experience, this starts with your humble confession, repentance, and appeal toward forgiveness and unified Oneness.

Freedom!

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Commercial fishermen in the Kingdom

Jesus told his disciples who fished for a living, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Commercial fishermen are disappointed if, when they pull in their net, there is only a single fish flopping about.  They hope and expect to catch multiple fish at a time. Remember Peter’s dejection when he’s fished all night and caught nothing?

It’s interesting to note that in the Book of Acts, there are only two people who become followers of Jesus as individuals—Paul and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Everyone else becomes a disciple as part of a group.

  • Following a vision, Peter visits Cornelius who has gathered together a group of friends and relatives in his home. When they are all filled with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by their speaking in tongues, Paul gives orders for them to be baptized. (Acts 10) A whole household follows Jesus in a single day.
  • When Paul goes to Philippi, he speaks to some women at the riverbank. Lydia opens her heart to Jesus and she and her household are baptized. (Acts 16: 11-15)
  • A few days later, Paul and Silas are jailed. A massive earthquake sets them free, but when they don’t take the opportunity to escape, the jailer invites them to his home where they share the word of the Lord with him and his household. Again, the whole household is baptized. “He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.” (Acts 16:16-34)
  • When Paul finds a group of people (about twelve men) in Ephesus who have only been baptized with John’s baptism, he baptizes them and prays for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6)

What’s the difference? How did those early followers of Jesus get these results?

Jesus had taught his disciples how to be “commercial fishermen” for the Kingdom–not in the sense of making money, but in the sense of bringing in a large catch.

All around the world, God is using this pattern to bring in a massive harvest. Why not here too? We’ll look at how this works in later posts.

Catch of fish

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