Are You Humble Enough to be a Star?

Are You Humble Enough to be a Star?

Are you Humble enough to be a star?

Revelation 1:12, 13, 16, 20
By: Bruce Wesley, Pastor, Clear Creek Community Church Co-Founder & President of the Board, HCPN

June 9, 2019

Revelation 1:12, 13, 16, 20 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man... In his right hand he held seven stars... As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Whom did God use to usher in spiritual awakenings in the past? What made them usable?

  • Josiah was 26 years old when he began work on the temple, found the book of the law, and took action against the apostate worship of Judah.

  • Jonathan Edwards was 25 years old when he began to pastor. By age 31, God brought a flood of conversions in the church, 300 in 6 months.

  • George Whitefield was 26 when he traveled to North America to preach a series of revivals that fueled the Great Awakening.

  • God used Charles Finney in his 30’s to inspire a second great awakening.

  • D. L. Moody was 23 when his children’s Bible Study became so well-known that president Lincoln visited. A third awakening followed.

    These people were young, brash, and unconventional. But one more quality shaped the other qualities I’ve mentioned. I see it subtly displayed in today’s passage.

    In John’s spiritual vision in The Revelation, he sees the glorified Christ (verses 12-16), with seven stars in his right hand. He is walking among seven golden lampstands. What’s that about?

    Jesus explained the lampstands are the seven churches, and the stars are the messengers of the churches. Is Jesus saying the pastors, or messengers, are the stars? Does that interpretation make you a little uncomfortable? Yeah, me too. But that seems to be what he’s saying. Let’s be clear. No one, including Jesus, was referring to pastors as “stars” in the way we talk about movie stars or rock stars or even “Christian famous” pastors.

    The most significant thing is not that pastors are stars, but that we are in the right hand of the resurrected, glorified Christ as he walks among his churches. We are his. We are held by him. We’re close. We’re available. We are in his right hand. The strong, working hand. We’re ready to be used as luminaries hurled into darkness, shining forth Jesus’ message in word and deed. This image should not make us proud. It should humble us, but maybe not in the way we usually think of humility.

    Often, we think humility is simply not thinking too highly of ourselves. We humble ourselves when we don’t make ourselves the star of the show or when we don’t have some inflated view of our abilities. But that’s not the only way pride works.

    Pride can also make us overly focused on ourselves. When it does, we choose the safe, conventional path. We color between the lines. We limit our aspirations. After all, who am I to think that God would use me in such a big way? That sounds humble. It’s not. It’s the pride of seeing the world only in light of yourself.

    But God wants us to see our world from the humble perspective that acknowledges the power of the one who holds us in his right hand. That’s the kind of humility seen in people of great vision, bold conviction, and radical obedience. It’s the kind of humility seen in those who led awakenings in the past. Which leaves me asking myself, “Do I not pray bigger prayers or attempt greater things for God because I’m too proud? Am I overly aware of my limitations and not aware enough of the greatness of God or the significance of my identity as a shining star in Jesus’ right hand as he walks among the churches?”

    If God used Whitefield, Finney and the others because they were the kind of humble men who were not afraid to live as stars in Jesus’ right hand, we need the same kind of humility today. What would that look like for you? Will you believe it? Will you start living like it’s true right now, no matter what people might say? Our city needs us to shine!

    Prayer

    Lord, forgive us for the prideful ways of being safe and timid. Grant us a kind of humility that makes us willing, courageous, and available to be used by you to bring an awakening in greater Houston in our lifetime.

From the Darkness Comes Light

From the Darkness Comes Light

From the Darkness Comes Light

2 Cor 4:6 - For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
By: Jay Blackburn, Associate Pastor, Coastal Community Church

June 8, 2019

Awakening. An act of waking from sleep. A moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. A coming into existence or awareness.

Several years ago I was on a trip with our youth in the mountains of Colorado. We would spend a week trekking to the top of one of the many 14,000 foot mountains that are in the state. This particular mountain we were climbing was the tallest in state; Mount Elbert. The morning of our summit day we began our hike around 2 or 3 am in the morning. The reason was to summit early and avoid the daily thunderstorms on the mountains which can be extremely dangerous. Once you clear the tree line at around 12,000 feet it’s just you and open sky. It was one of the longer summit hikes I had been a part of but this crew moved extremely fast. So fast that we summited before the sun came up. Sitting atop a mountain at 14.440 feet with not a drop of sunlight was extremely cold and windy. Then it came. The first drop of sunlight appeared on the far eastern horizon and you would have thought we were suddenly at the beach. It infused life back inside of us. Energy and warmth...and most of all, light to see the wide expanse of the Colorado landscape.

Sometimes as followers of Jesus we end up in some pretty dark and desolate places. They can be places where we experience fear, loneliness or apathy. We long for that drop of light to filter into the room or into soul to re-light the way back to the Father. The Good News is this. Jesus walked and was in that same place and went before us. He is the way that lights the path for us. Just when it feels like the break of dawn won’t ever come that first drop of light fills the sky. The Light breaks the darkness. The Light causes awakening. Awakening like we’ve never experienced before. The Light gives life. If we are truly following him, we won’t walk in the darkness but have the light of life. (John 8:12)

My hope is that the Church would continue to be awoken to the plans of the Father. May we humble ourselves before Him and follow wherever He leads.

Prayer

Father, we seek you first above all things. We thank you that you meet us in the dark places and bring light in a way that only you can. We give you praise that you rescued us from the darkness and brought us into the light. Thank you Father for awakening! Thank you that you have called us to be part of awakening others. We ask for your eyes to see others the way you see them. We pray for you protection as we are sometimes called into dark places to help rescue others. We love you, and we declare our love for you today from the roof tops.

Pray the Price

Pray the Price

Pray the Price

Luke 5:16 (ESV) – “But [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” By: Paul Ramsay, HCPN Finishing Resident

June 7, 2019

As our HCPN 50 Days of Prayer wind down and we prepare to transition from this unified prayer movement across the city back towards the prayer movements within our respective local churches, I am struck by something. I am struck by how often I find myself with my head down, working away at some task or initiative, frustrated with my lack of progress or exhausted due to the amount of exertion that is required, and realizing that it’s been hours or even days since I last prayed in earnest for God’s guidance and power.

If Jesus Christ himself would go Off into the woods,

Who am I to say, resigned, “I don’t think I could.”

Are the things that “I must do” More important than

Those which occupied my Lord— Yes, God, the great “I am”?

Some translations of Luke 5:16 insert the word “often” to describe Jesus’ retreats into the wilderness for prayer. As a church planter, a fellow “laborer in the harvest” (Matt. 9:38), I find myself both corrected and immensely thankful for this picture of Jesus. Jesus was the most purposeful human being who ever lived, with the most urgent task and the most burdensome call of any human being who ever lived. Because of this, he had the greatest excuse of anyone who ever lived to ‘get to work’ and pray later. But this is not what we see. His life was marked, in the midst of this active and powerful ministry, by regular, earnest, deep, intimate prayer. My mind goes to the old quote from Martin Luther: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Jesus retreated regularly to pray, that he might be filled and directed by his heavenly Father.

As we all turn from this unified season of prayer, let me share a brief word of encouragement: don’t stop praying! In fact, let us seek to follow Jesus’ example, turning up the volume of our prayer lives together, continuing to cry out with increasing fervor until we see revival in our city—and then keep on praying!

A man named Terry Teykl spent some time with me and a group of church planters a few months ago and he used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since: if we want God to move, then we’ve got to “pray the price.” You and I, brothers and sisters, dream of the kind of spiritual renewal and revival that only God can do. A movement of the gospel saturates our city, blanketing our neighborhoods with gospel presence—such that the gospel would be rendered non-ignorable even by the people who seem farthest from God—is impossible without a powerful move of God, and for that, we must pray the price, and keep praying until we see that for which we ask!

So the prayer I want to invite us to pray together today is simply this: let us pray that God would make the church in Houston a praying church. Let’s start with you and me together, today, and see what God might do!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we humble ourselves before you together as we come before you and plead on behalf of our city. We want nothing more and nothing less than what you want for Houston, and we ask that you guide the way as we seek to follow you, joining with you in what you are doing in our city. Please make us more into people who pray. (Please make me more into a person who prays!) Please ignite in our hearts the desire for intimate time with you and help us to seek out and structure our lives around time with you in prayer. And let our ministry efforts be fueled and informed by our prayers, rather than the other way around. We want you to get the glory in all things, and ask that you would bring your kingdom here to earth, even as it is in heaven, for the glory of your name! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Everything is Better in the Light of the Morning

Everything is Better in the Light of the Morning

Everything is Better in the Light of the Morning

Romans 13:11-12
By: Micah Squires, Executive Assistant, Houston Church Planting Network

June 6, 2019

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you bto wake from sleep. cFor salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 dThe night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us ecast off fthe works of darkness and gput on the armor of light.

Sleep is a basic action that all humans must engage with. With so many things dividing our culture, I like to be reminded of what we all share. Mind you, I know all too well the troubles some have with sleep. And, as a new mom, my appreciation for night time slumber has grown significantly. When I was young, I had a lot of fear that reached its peak at nighttime. My mind would spiral and I would become overwhelmed with the possibility of whatever I feared becoming a reality. When my mom would recognize this happening she would kindly yet firmly tell me, “everything is better in the morning”. It would remind me that tomorrow is a new day, and although my circumstances would not change between now and then, the sun would be out and my perspective would be different. And when I would wake up, her words always rang true, things were “better.” In the light of the day, I was no longer afraid and I had hope for the new day.

Although what I feared as a child may sound vague, we all know the feeling. Waking up to a clear mind and a new day after an evening of impossible fear, insecurity or heartache. Year later, when new thoughts plague my mind at night and send me into a spiral, I still remind myself: “everything is better in the morning.”

I liken that feeling of waking up to someone putting their trust in Jesus as their Savior. In their life before Christ, they had gone to sleep afraid but now they have been awakened with a clear mind, new identity and hope for all their days. Their night is far gone and their new day is at hand.

This is true for a new believer and for all those who are saved; you want to savor this truth for yourself every morning you wake. Although, in Christ, we may no longer live in darkness, there are still idols and fears that lurk beneath that we should desire to bring to the light. When we are awoken to them, sanctification begins. No matter what darkness tries to creep in, our eyes have seen and know the light. By God’s grace, for those who are in Christ, we are living in the light of the day.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what it felt like when we were asleep, in the fear of darkness. You have been awakened, the morning has come, so rejoice and live in the light.

Prayer

Father in Heaven, thank you for waking us and pulling us out of darkness. Help us bring light to every dark corner of Houston. In Jesus name, Amen.

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

Psalm 42:1-2 “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God?”

By: Chris Kipp, Planter & Pastor of Renaissance Church in Richmond, TX

June 5, 2019

Skim through the biographies of any great saint that was used of God in any awakening or revival and you’re bound to find ardent prayer. This seems to be the case in the book of Acts. Peter, while in Joppa, is waiting for a meal to be prepared so he slips away and prays himself into a “trance.” (Acts 10:10) You know the story, he sees a vision of a huge sheet coming down from heaven full of unkosher animals. A voice says, “What God has made clean do not call impure.” The vision occurs three times and, shortly thereafter, the Gentiles are awakened to the gospel.

Curious things happen in prayer. I think of Daniel praying and repenting for the sins of his people, Israel, because he understood the Scriptures concerning the desolation of Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:1-19) He got way more than he bargained for, didn’t he? It was in prayer five years ago that the Spirit whispered into my soul, “Plant a church.” Months later, in prayer He whispered again, “Richmond.” What an adventure that has been! I bet you have some stories like that, too. Perhaps God gave a needed word, a revelation of the Word, a strategic insight, a special vision, or an entirely new life direction. Prayer awakens us to God himself and, thereby, to a whole world of wonderful purposes and possibilities.

I love how A.W. Tozer describes this prayerful relationship of the awakened soul to God: “The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the spirit of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.” “The throbbing heart,” the white-hot center of our present, spiritual reality is that Jesus opened a way for you and I to confidently enter the Holy of Holies. (Heb. 10:19-22) The sign on the Most Holy Place reads, “Now Open.” This is utterly astounding! Here, in this sacred, secret abiding we offer and receive, we fast and feast, we seek and we find.

The question I want to pose in light of this is, “What do you want?” Do you want to go in? Do you long for God like “the deer longs for flowing streams?” Do you thirst for the Living God? Are you raring to come before Him? Do you really want revival and awakening? Sadly, it seems the answer of scores of too-easily-satisfied, busy, distracted Christians is, “Not really.” But, I do hope for a different answer from you: “Yes!!!” Oh, may we go ardently in... again and again and again! May we be awakened. May we be children of the burning heart. For, as Tozer famously wrote, “He waits to be wanted.”

Prayer

Father, I hunger, I thirst, I long for You. I hunger to hunger more. I thirst to thirst more. I long to be filled with greater longing for You. I want You, and I want to want you more. Spirit, we receive the renewal, revival and awakening that only You can bring. In Jesus’ victorious name, AMEN!

The Call to Repentance

The Call to Repentance

The Call to Repentance

Acts 17:30- “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent...”
By: Lee Hsia, Downtown Campus Pastor, Houston’s First Baptist Church

June 4, 2019

The Apostle Paul is passionate, compassionate, and brilliant in engaging with the citizens of cosmopolitan Athens. In Acts 17, we read that Paul’s spirit became distressed when he saw that the city was full of idol worship (v. 16). That motivated him to engage every day in the Gospel with the religious people in their gathering places as well as with the worldly people in their gathering places (v. 17-21).

Paul affirmed the people of the city (v. 22-23), but he was also direct in calling out their ignorance (v. 23). Making the connection to their religious aspirations, he goes on to share the Gospel of Jesus (v. 24-31). As is my experience with evangelism around the world, Paul gets results, and the results are varied: some reject the Gospel, some want to talk more, and some accept Jesus as Savior and Lord (v. 32-34). It’s our responsibility to share the Gospel, and leave the results up to Him (John 6:44).

We are so privileged to live in Houston, the most diverse city in America! We’re diverse ethnically, but we’re also diverse spiritually. My heart is distressed because I see two large groups of our city that greatly need spiritual awakening, and to whom we the Church need to give the opportunity to receive the true Gospel. On the one hand, there are those who have been deceived by Satan into believing a false gospel, a gospel of salvation by human works of any kind. On the other hand, there are those who have never been exposed to Christianity, who have never heard the Gospel at all. I was in the latter group until I was 15, when I found a Bible laying on the ground of the driveway to my childhood home in Sugar Land.

Every person in both of these groups needs desperately to hear the Gospel, and we the Body of Christ in Houston need to proclaim it, with love and respect, all day, every day! “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:13-14)

Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, we are calling upon You, God, to perform nothing less than an act of God. We ask that You cause great spiritual awakening in our beloved city of Houston. Would you stir the hearts and souls of our city to repent of sins and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Use us, Lord, your followers, to call all people, everywhere in the Houston area, to repent. May we be a Gospel-centered, Gospel-proclaiming city. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Awakened to Humble Majesty

Awakened to Humble Majesty

Awakened to Humble Majesty

Isaiah 55:15
By: Todd Bates, Professor of Theology and Dean, School of Christian Thought, HBU

June 3, 2019

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

At the risk of sounding trivial, I love God’s style. There are times in Scripture where God breaks through the mundane and reveals his majesty—he allows us to catch a glimpse of who he is and it is overwhelming and undoing. Isaiah gives us a little taste of God’s majesty: God is lofty, lifted up, holy, and inhabits eternity. Yet, this is only a taste of what Isaiah encountered when he “saw the Lord.” Isaiah summarizes that encounter with the words, “Woe is me, for I am lost (ruined/ undone)”!

It is only in light of the majesty and holiness of God that humans can truly see who we are...and that we are undone! Though that is a critical part of the story, it is not the only part. Isaiah goes on to relate that God is, indeed, the high and lofty one, but that he also dwells with those who are contrite—literally, crushed—broken, lowly. This is as surprising as it is touching and brings us closer to the heart of the gospel.

Where do we see God dwelling with the crushed and broken? The Gospel of John relates that it is when the Word became flesh that the glory of God dwells with us (1:14). It is in the humble form of a servant that we behold the majestic glory of God. Further, in taking the form of a servant Christ became “obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8). Humble majesty, indeed!

As we pray for awakening, part of our prayer should be for God’s glory to be made known. For it is only God’s majesty that can truly rock the cultural slumber around us and within us.

As we pray for awakening, part of our prayer should also be for attentiveness. How easy it is to miss the humble majesty of God in the work he is already doing around us and within us.

As we pray for awakening, let us be mindful of the nearing day of Pentecost. The humble majesty of Christ, exemplified in the humble majesty of Christ’s Body, the church. The group of lowly people gathered together, again, experienced the glory of God’s majestic presence in the Spirit. He revived the hearts of the lowly, and through them the hearts of those in the city and in the world.

Prayer

Father, may we behold your majesty. Lord, may we be strengthened to emulate your humble obedience. Spirit, fall afresh and anew on your people, for we are lowly and contrite and in need of reviving. We are your people, God, strengthen us that we might faithfully proclaim the wonders of your salvation for the glory of your great name.

Awaken Potential, Provoke Transformation

Awaken Potential, Provoke Transformation

Awaken Potential, Provoke Transformation

Proverbs 16:24 NKJV-“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb...”

By: Jason Hall, Director, Attack Poverty – Friends of Sundown Location and Lead Pastor, Dream Movement

June 2, 2019

Solomon, who is known to be the wisest and wealthiest king in the history of the Nation of Israel, succeeded his father King David’s reign. David came from humble beginnings as a Shepherd Boy and is famous for defeating the Philistine giant, Goliath. This story derived from a “pleasant word” spoken by the Prophet Samuel – a word that awakened potential in the teenager, David, who would ultimately go on to be used to provoke the transformation of Israel into victory.

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” This passage of scripture ignited a fire in me recently as I sat in a fourth grade awards ceremony in the under-resourced community that we, Attack Poverty - Friends of Sundown and Dream Movement, serve in Katy. I was there to support a fourth grade boy I mentored throughout the school year and as I listened to the teachers announce the various awards – A Heart of Gold, Classroom Helper, Kindness and Citizenship, it was so powerful to see the students proudly stand up to receive their award. The teachers were speaking into the lives of the students through those awards.

I began to reflect on my relationship with my mentee. He reminds me of the young Shepherd Boy, David. He has an amazing glow about him and I see great potential in him. I believe I am in his life to awaken potential and provoke transformation by speaking life into his current situation. His parents both work long hours and do not have much time to spend with him. His life resonates with me as I come from a single parent home where my mother had to work long hours to care for me and my sisters. His parents see a kid, but I see a King! I see the potential in him to be a giant slayer and to lead a nation. My purpose in his life is to be his Samuel. I am called to speak pleasant words into his life like a honeycomb.

A honeycomb is a place where bees store honey and eggs. Sweetness defined is pleasing and delightful. Eggs are often the result of conception. Think about this for a minute. When pleasant words are spoken and our soul is delighted, healing is conceived. I believe when we speak pleasant words we are contributing to a storage unit in the lives of people. That storage unit will eventually release like an egg hatching with new life from the pleasant words spoken. This will produce a harvest into the lives of the people. If God has called you to speak into someone’s life, you could be influencing a nation! A word from God has the potential to change everything.

Prayer

My prayer is that as we reflect on this passage may we be mindful to speak pleasant words into the lives of people in and throughout our city. Let it be sweet to their souls and healing to the bones. God help us to be outwardly focused, to invest in others and our community and to speak pleasant words in order to awaken potential and provoke transformation into their lives.

Priorities

Priorities

Priorities

John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

By: Luke Samuelson, Lead Pastor, Rooted Bible Church

June 1, 2019

As God works in us, He seeks to move us to become more and more like Christ. One part of this is adjusting our priorities. All of us have the same amount of time each day. What we do with our 24 hours depends on our priorities. The question is, do our activities reflect what we say are our priorities? Few of us would want to admit that our priority is anything less than serving God. However, a look at our schedule may reveal that we find little evidence of that.

We often hear that our priorities should be: God, family, service to others, and caring for our own well- being. When we look at Christ, it is clear that His priority was to “do the will of His Father.” That would ultimately lead to the cross. But on the way to the cross he gave himself to helping people.

Our priorities should be the same: to accomplish all that God has in mind for me. That means I must spend time talking and listening to God for direction. God has made it clear that family responsibilities are important. Reaching out to others in love with a desire to point them to Christ is also important. Then, I must care for my own physical, mental, and social needs in order to be all that God wants me to be.

Our activities may differ on any given day, but our priorities do not change – we too desire to “do the will of our heavenly Father.” We know that when we realign our priorities with that of God renewal takes place. Over time that spreads to the wider community of faith and revival occurs. When the people of God are focused on the priorities of God that spills over to the wider community which is impacted for the gospel. This is when we see an awakening in our city. It all starts with our priorities! If you knew that God would grant every prayer you prayed this week would it change the way or who you prayed for?

Prayer

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Father so would it be of us! That we may do your will in our families, neighborhoods, church’s, and city. Would my priorities reflect the same heart you have for this city. Help me to “Seek and save the lost.” Help me to love you and to love my neighbor. Thank you for the cross and the grace that Jesus provides. Thank you that you are still working in me and through me to accomplish your purposes. In Jesus name, Amen.

Engaging the Mess of Wakefulness

Engaging the Mess of Wakefulness

Engaging the Mess of Wakefulness

Romans 15:1-7 - “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak."By: Jeremy McQuown, Executive Director, BetterDays

May 31, 2019

On the nights we are home, my wife and I have this nightly routine after dinner. It usually lasts somewhere between 1-2 hours and finishes with us sinking into the couch with our feet up. You parents of young children will understand. It starts with a rock-paper- scissors duel to determine which one cleans up the kitchen and which one gives the kids a bath. After the duel we divide and conquer. One goes to cleaning the little savages...I mean children, and the other goes to cleaning the savage mess.

After all the books have been read, prayers have been prayed, and 39 trips to get a drink of water or go to the potty have been made, lights are out and they finally go to sleep. At that point we finally reach the pinnacle of a day well lived, exhausted and ready for bed ourselves.

For the next several hours our home rests. Quiet and (mostly) clean. No mess. Until “they” are awakened again.

Awakening brings mess. Just like my house get’s messier throughout the day as each of those little eyes open to the dawn of a new day.

We’ve been praying for an awakening. We’ve been praying for the power of the Gospel of Jesus to miraculously and powerfully sweep through the city of Houston and awaken dead hearts to life.

As we continue to do so, and by all means, Lord make it happen! I want to ask us, the Church, are we ready for that? Are we ready to engage the mess that comes with wakefulness?

What I’ve realized about myself as a parent of four young children is that many days I’m not ready. I’m tired. I’m self-centered. I’m prideful. I love my children. I love playing with them. I love watching them grow and learn. It’s a joy to watch them awaken and engage life in our home. However, I don’t love stepping on legos, tripping over tiaras, or repeatedly correcting behavior. My pride makes it difficult to handle the mess.

Paul tells us in Romans 15:1 that the “strong” are called to “bear with the failings of the weak. That means we who are mature in faith, or could we say already awake, are called to be considerate and endure the mess of those just waking up.

That takes humility. That takes a continued understanding of the grace I have personally received from Jesus in dealing with my own mess.

An awakening will force us out of ourselves. It will force us to humble ourselves and patiently endure the mess, the differences, and the slow pace of spiritual growth towards maturity of others. It will force us to bear with the failings of the weak.

An awakening will bring more lives into the Kingdom, and more lives means more potential for mess. More relational, spiritual, and emotional drama. That means more patience, more love, more compassion, more empathy, and more humility to be displayed.

An awaking will force us to truly open our churches, our homes, and our lives to others who may not be like us. It will force us to welcome others as Jesus has welcomed us. Lovingly. Gently. Patiently. Selflessly. Humbly. Jesus’ welcoming is one that engages our mess, cleans it up, and loves regardless.

When we do engage the mess of wakefulness in this way, we truly will be a church that “lives in such harmony with one another” and “together with one voice” give the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the true glory due His name!

Prayer

Heavenly father, make us ready to engage the mess that an awakening brings. May we be a church marked by humility and love. Holy Spirit, help us to bear with one another. Jesus, may your great name be lifted above all others in the city of Houston and may those asleep, be awakened to your glorious light. Amen.

Planting to Build

Planting to Build

Planting to Build

Matthew 16:18: - “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

By: Cheryl Richardson, Member, Bridge Point Community Church

May 30, 2019

How could this promise that Jesus made to build His church awaken a new gospel strategy in Houston, Texas? Our city is now one of the most, if not the most, ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in the United States. The people from unreached nations of the world now live, work, and play among us, but tragically, most have never heard the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Although we may acknowledge and even lament this growing spiritual crisis, the truth is that collectively we seem to be clueless on the most effective way to strategically address the growing lostness in our city. Could it be that the real solution is an awakening to intentionality and collaboration in planting churches among our city’s unreached?

Where would we even begin this intentionality to plant churches? I think we must begin with absolute trust in Christ’s promise that He alone is the builder of His church (Matthew 16:18). This trust does not remove our responsibility to move forward in obedience and faithfulness, but our assurance in the sufficiency and success of this blood-bought promise removes our fear that the gospel harvest in any way depends on us (1 Corinthians 3:7). As our trust is nourished in this promise, we become open to risk, experience new boldness and stand ready to sacrifice our prejudices, preferences, and anxieties for the sake of pursuing a gospel collaboration that honors Christ’s sovereign plan to gather in all His scattered sheep (John 10:16, John 11:52, Romans 11:25). Prayer and fasting must ignite the fire of our intentionality if our city is to one day mirror the heavenly vision of worshippers from every tribe, language, people and nation (Revelation 5:9). Planting churches among the unreached is our priceless opportunity to join in the grand narrative of God’s redemptive work right here; to share the life and hope in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of all the nations under His Divine authority by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). As we intentionally and collaboratively plant churches among the unreached in our city, we join Christ’s work in the building of His Kingdom and His church.

Prayer

Lord we praise You for all You have done and will do to build Your church. We thank You for graciously giving us the joy of joining in Your mission. Awaken us as churches and believers to a new unity, boldness, and passion to plant churches among the people from unreached nations in our city. Nourish our trust in the truth of Your Word by the power of the Holy Spirit as You humble us to accomplish all things for Your great glory alone.

Awakening Through Resting

Awakening Through Resting

Awakening Through Resting

Luke 10:20- “20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
By:Heath Haynes, Lead Pastor, The Bridge Montrose

May 29, 2019

Are you a morning person or a night owl? I am kind of both. I love staying up late, I always have. Evenings are when I am most naturally awake and am most productive. At the same time, even though I don’t like getting out of bed, once I do, I am full speed. It doesn’t matter how little sleep I get, I am ready to go once I finally stop hitting snooze and my feet hit the floor. Most of us find ourselves on one end or the other of the AM/PM spectrum. Here is the catch though, if you are not well rested getting decent hours of sleep regularly in a consistent rhythm, you will have a tendency to never really feel awake and fully alert. You will always be running on reserves in danger of petering out or, even worse, breaking down.

If we want to lead our churches to a spiritual awakening, we must first make sure that we are leading our churches to be well rested and to do that we must start with ourselves. Peter Scazzero in The Emotionally Healthy Leader presents four characteristics of unhealthy leadership. The third characteristic Scazzero presents is that “An unhealthy leader does more activity FOR God than their relationship WITH God can support.” As ministry leaders we must be ministry doers. However, if we truly want to see a move of God that goes beyond our strengths and giftings, we must learn to value our life with God over our life for God. After all, this is why Jesus came; to reconcile us back to Him into a deep eternal relationship.

Jesus calls us to the importance of remembering this in Luke 10. Here is the scene. The 72 had been sent out to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was near and to evidence this through the healing of the sick and lame. They have just returned after having been a part of an amazing experience of seeing God do many miracles. Needless to say, they are amped up as they give their reports. Can you imagine what this must have been like? How would you feel if you saw people healed and demons being subject to you as you ministered in Jesus name?! As they gather around Jesus, I can just hear them all talking so fast and loud telling story after story of the amazing things that had occurred through their ministry.

So what happens next? After Jesus reminds them of the call on their lives that He has given them, He reminds them of the most important thing. In verse 20, Jesus says, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Jesus reminds them that even though they will and must be a part of doing amazing things as they work in the Authority of the name of Jesus, the most important thing is that know God. We as leaders must pursue to elevate in our hearts and minds the call on our lives to know God over accomplishing things for Him..

We put much time and energy in our learning and planning of good things for ministry. But if we want to see a spiritual awakening in our city, it must start with us. For that to happen, we must get serious about slowing down and doing less so that we can learn to fully rest in God. This is the true and abiding reality with God the Father that we are promised in Christ. How often do you take real time in silence and solitude? What are the rhythms of your devotional life with God? Do you prioritize this kind of time or get to it when your schedule allows? Life and ministry is indeed busy but we are too busy not to make this relational time with God a matter of paramount importance. “Be Still and Know that I Am God...” Psalm 46:10a

Prayer

Lord, you are good and worthy of my whole life. Help me to see that the life you desire is not just about what I do. You desire me. I am grateful for the Kingdom purpose you have given me but help me to be even more grateful for our relationship. Grow my understanding and desire for what it is to fully rest in You. Give me courage to do less so that I can cultivate a deep relational life with you. Help this to be the spiritual awakening I desire for myself and the world around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Simple Role

Simple Role

Simple Role

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
By: Brodie Cooper, Executive Director, Blast & Cast Men’s Ministries

May 28, 2019

Last week (as of this writing) I received a late-night call from the local police department. I had turned in early in anticipation of a major outreach event the following morning and hearing the phone ring at such an odd hour was both disorienting and alarming. The officer explained to me that a local angler and his wife had found their 19-year-old daughter deceased in her apartment. The family had no church contacts, no local family members, and few close friends. They were distraught, panicked, and alone in the most difficult situation they had ever experienced. Blast & Cast Men’s Ministries had assisted the angler’s family when their home flooded during Hurricane Harvey and he had since attended a few of our outreach events, so the angler gave my contact information to the officer.

I arrived at an emotionally charged and trying scene. The parents were devastated and inconsolable, frequently collapsing in tearful pain, unsure if what they were experiencing was real life or some sort of terrible nightmare. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I felt underqualified. I hurt for them in a way that I haven’t hurt in quite some time. I longed to find a way to help ease their pain, but there were no sufficient words or actions that could possibly ease their indescribable pain. All I could do was simply hurt deeply alongside them. We embraced. We cried together a lot. We prayed together a lot. We tried to talk through a few decisions that had to be made that night. I shared the Gospel several times and related spiritual truth as best I could.

As I prayed silently and continually asking God for guidance, He answered that my role was a simple one:

  • Hurt with them and for them, because the Father was hurting with them and for them and they needed to physically see it. This was the Father’s love and compassion being physically demonstrated in a way that met an immediate need for them.

  • Share the Gospel faithfully and continually, because there are no other words that can bring meaningful peace and healing in the face of tragedy. The Father understands the pain these parents were experiencing because He willfully experienced it Himself when He sent Jesus to die for us on the cross. Soon (hopefully very soon) pain and suffering will be permanently finished because of that one perfect sacrifice.

    As we collectively pray for spiritual awakening throughout the greater Houston area, I am convinced that this couple aptly represents a community that is battling pain, suffering, and death. Our role in reaching the community is far simpler than we think. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul stresses that he purposefully decided to know nothing amongst the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and him crucified. He existed with them in weakness and fear and trembling, and he brought a message that wasn’t full of lofty speech or words of wisdom because that was not his role. Instead, he simply proclaimed the truth of Jesus and allowed his life and conduct to demonstrate the power of God.

    Have we gotten so caught up in titles, training, and self-made plans that we fail to see the pain, suffering, and death within our community? Have we become so fixated on events and programs that we neglect opportunities to meet practical needs with love and compassion? Are we so obsessed with lofty words and clever analogies that we disregard the power and simplicity of the Gospel message? We worry and stress over so many things that just don’t matter! God matters, the people He loves matter, and the Gospel of Jesus matters because it reconnects people with a God that loves them deeply.

    A prayer for spiritual awakening in the community is also a prayer for God’s people to open their eyes to see the pain, suffering, and death in their own community, to demonstrate God’s compassion for people in simple yet powerful ways, and to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a simple role, but it makes a profound impact in our community.

    Prayer

    Father, thank You for loving me and sending Jesus to die the death that I deserved so that I could be brought out of pain and suffering and into a relationship with You. Thank You for giving me a role to play within Your kingdom, Father! Lord I ask that You give me eyes to see and ears to hear the pain, suffering, and death around me so that I can pour out Your love and compassion on those that are hurting. I ask that You give me boldness and simplicity of speech that I might proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in all circumstances and not overcomplicate it with lofty words or worldly wisdom. Father I ask that You awaken the community around me and draw them to the life, peace, and hope offered by Jesus. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Awakening Happens at the Cross

Awakening Happens at the Cross

Awakening Happens at the Cross

Mark 15:39
By: Otis James Latin Jr., Lead Pastor/Church Planter, Revive Bible Church:

May 27, 2019

Awakening is defined as an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. Awakening often results in people feeling they have gained the ability to adequately view situations from the proper perspective. In other words, they have a deeper perception of reality or a keener sense of consciousness. For example, “awakening” provides a person with the impression they are observing circumstances in three dimensions rather than two, or in color rather than in black and white.

In a biblical context, “awakening” refers to the authentic works of the Holy Spirit that cannot be coerced or brought about through emotional manipulation. Therefore, awakening as it pertains to the bible is normally referred to as “spiritual awakening”. True spiritual awakening happens by a new birth which does not occur by some physical, mental, or emotional process but by the power of the Holy Spirit. This fact is clearly stated in Gospel of John. “Jesus answered, Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) In other words, Christ’s kingdom can only be entered by those whose lives have been changed. Therefore, “spiritual awakening” is always associated with who Jesus is and what Jesus did. As a result, “spiritual awakening” happens at the cross of Christ.

In Mark 15:39, the centurion is a Roman military officer in command of a detachment of one hundred soldiers. He oversaw Jesus crucifixion and no doubt witnessed Jesus brutal scourging, the crown of thorns placed on his head, and the soldiers mocking him as King of the Jews. At the execution site, the centurion observed as his soldiers nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross then cast lots for His clothing while a hostile crowd insulted and taunted Christ. For six hours, the centurion had dutifully kept watch over Jesus and the two thieves crucified with Him. The centurion was standing in front of Christ the entire time, so he heard the words spoken by Christ from the cross. He watched Christ while being humiliated and ridiculed by His enemies, then ask the Father to forgive them. He heard Christ tell one of the thieves “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He witnessed Christ cry out in a loud voice “Father, into my hands I entrust my spirit.” The centurion had participated in numerous executions but this one was completely different. He had never encountered anyone like Jesus who suffered with dignity and died with authority. After observing Jesus entire crucifixion and watching Jesus take his last breath, the centurion has a “spiritual awakening” and says, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Prayer

Lord many people are lost and seeking to satisfy their thirst with water from broken cisterns, rather than drinking deeply of the water of life that comes from you alone. Lord, birth in our hearts a desire to be used by you to bring about revival and spiritual awakening beginning in Houston and extending to every corner of the world. Lead us to the foot of the cross then awaken us out of darkness and bring us into your marvelous light. Revive us lord and turn the hearts of the people back to you, in Jesus name we pray. Amen

Becoming Like "Them"

Becoming Like "Them"

Becoming Like “Them”

Acts 20:33-35

By: Jordan Valverde, Lead Church Planter | Overflow Church Network, Entrepreneur | Overflowing Leader

May 26, 2019

Acts 20:33-35 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I believe if we’re going to see a spiritual awakening in which the society of our country is touched with the gospel it will happen as a direct result of the church reengaging society with the gospel where they are and not where the church gathers. In Acts 20, Paul models something for us that we as believers desperately need. He modeled a reproducible lifestyle within the normal rhythm of society. His pattern looked less like a monk and more like a normal adult engaged in society through business.

I wonder how many believers look at their spiritual leaders today and think they could do what they see their leaders doing? Paul was keenly aware of what the body of believers in Ephesus needed. From the entire time Paul was in Ephesus he lived a lifestyle like those he was ministering among by working hard to provide for his own needs and for the needs of his teammates. So, you may be asking, “how does Paul carrying on a 9-5 translate into awakening?” My answer to you is in Acts 19. You see in Acts 20, Paul recounts his time in Ephesus. But in Acts 19 we see much of Paul’s pattern of ministry and work ethic while he was in Ephesus and the outcome it produced. What’s important to note is that one of the only recorded instances of an awakening taking place among an entire population in the new testament happens through Paul humbling himself and limiting his lifestyle to what could be reproduced by every believer.

May the Lord open our eyes to the world awaiting us to show them something that they can relate to. A simple enough pattern they could follow that would awaken them to the possibility of God being able to use their life for Kingdom significance.

Prayer

Father in Heaven, I thank You for giving us a model in the apostle Paul. Help us Lord to see the effectiveness of him choosing to become like those he was ministering to so they could become awakened to the possibility of You using their lives for Your Kingdom. Father, please help us to live reproducible lives whatever the cost to us maybe. We look to You for an awakening of the gospel throughout society and I ask all of this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Compassion, the Motive for Awakening; Prayer, the Means of Awakening

Compassion, the Motive for Awakening; Prayer, the Means of Awakening

Compassion, the Motive for Awakening; Prayer, The Means of Awakening

Matthew 9:36-38 - “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”By: Mace Perez, Grow Groups and Discipleship Director, Faithbridge Church

May 25, 2019

We long to see awakening happen in our city and to the ends of the earth. We desire to see hearts come alive by the power of the gospel. We want to see people’s lives transformed by the power of the Spirit.

But if you are anything like me, we can easily become so engrossed in keeping our noses to the grindstone that we can forget or become blind to the motive and means of awakening Jesus talked about in this passage.

First, Jesus shows us that the motive for awakening is compassion. The verb translated here is related to the Greek word for “entrails,” which was seen as the seat of emotions in the ancient world. When Jesus saw the desperate state of the people, he had a visceral, emotional response. Likewise, we must keep this as our motive as we pursue awakening in our city. It’s not about building our kingdom. It’s not about having the largest church in town. It’s not about pursuing our own sense of value and worth through our ministry. It’s about bringing the only ultimate source of healing, hope, and joy to hundreds of thousands of hurting men, women, and children in our city.

Second, Jesus tells us that the means of awakening is prayer. Sure, I give lip service to the idea that it is God that changes hearts. I say that I believe in the power of prayer. I even teach others that the starting place of effective ministry is overflow. Afterall, apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). However, if I’m honest, I live as if it all depends on me. I work as if it all depends on my work ethic. I act as if awakening is riding on me developing and executing the right strategy. Certainly, Jesus is not saying that we don’t work hard or ask him to give us wisdom on the best practices and strategies to fulfill our ministry. But the first means of awakening is prayer.

If we want to see awakening, if we want to see a bountiful gospel harvest in Houston and beyond, we must start with prayer to the Lord of the harvest. So let’s do that now.

Prayer

Lord, you are rich in mercy. You abound in steadfast love. You are a God of compassion towards rebellious sinners. We confess that we can so easily lose sight of this. We repent of doing ministry out of more of a desire to serve ourselves than to bring hope and joy to the weak, the hopeless, and the hurting. We thank you that your compassion moved you to action. You were so moved by love for your wandering sheep, that you sent your Son to be their Redeemer and their Shepherd. You did this for us. And now you give us the privilege of bringing this Good News to your other lost sheep. We can’t do it without you, Lord. We are asking you to move in more hearts to bring them to yourself and then to send them out into the field. We ask that you would raise up more men and women to plant gospel-centered churches in every nook and cranny of our city. And we ask that Houston would be the center of an entire movement of awakening. Amen.

Get In Line, Get Empowered

Get In Line, Get Empowered

Get In Line, Get Empowered

2 Corinthians 9:8: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
By: Steve Bezner, Senior Pastor, Houston Northwest Church

May 24, 2019

Almost 50 years ago, Maurice Berquist wrote a small spiritual classic called The Miracle and the Power of Blessing. I didn’t read it until almost a year ago, but was immediately blessed by its freshness and clear love for the Lord. In it, Berquist uses a powerful illustration. He asks the reader to picture an electrical wire strung between two power poles. He then asks them to imagine another, separate, wire near the ground magically hovering parallel to the wire that is strung between the poles.

Can you picture this? Two wires parallel to one another—one of them is connected to the power source, the other one is parallel to the connected wire.

Berquist then explain that due to the laws of electromagnetism that both wires would be filled with electricity. Why? Because—somehow —electricity fills the wire that is not visibly connected as long as it is in line with the other wire.

Berquist makes a simple connection: Would you like to be filled with the power of the Spirit? Would you like to be awakened? Then you must get in line with Him. Get your life in such a way that the power of the Spirit can flow from Jesus and into you.

How would that ever happen? Over the years faithful saints have noticed simple practices that allowed people to experience the blessing of God in their own lives which have then been able to be poured out on others or on their own churches.

  1. Prayer. Yes, this is on every single list for receiving the blessing of God. The difficulty, of course, is why we don’t employ it more. It is the very power of God, and it is the primary way that we can do battle against darkness. It is the way we experience the love of God. It is the way we can cry to our Father and tell Him the blessings we desperately need. Why would we not do that? When we pray, we move into a posture whereby we position ourselves to receive the receive the very heart of God. Prayer rights our thinking, our attitudes, and allows us to know God more deeply. It’s even been shown to have health benefits. We need to pray more!

  2. Scripture. If prayer prepares the heart so that it is sensitive to the voice of the Spirit, then the Word of God is the voice of the Spirit. If you read the Bible for any amount of time, you will have an odd experience. You will read a passage of Scripture and, for some strange reason, one of the verses will seemingly jump off the page. You will feel your heart speed up. You will have a warm sensation. You will feel the need to understand that verse. What is that experience? That is the Spirit of God speaking to you through His Word. If you want to get in line with the Spirit, what better way than to let him talk to you in Scripture?

  3. Obedience. Followers of Jesus do two things: hear and obey. If you have prepared your heart to hear in prayer and have heard him in Scripture, you now need to get in alignment. There is only one way to do so—to ACT on what He has told you, and to do it immediately.

  4. Humility. Arrogance is antithetical to the gospel. Jesus washes feet. The Son of Man came to serve. Do none of these things out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Instead, do them with humility. The world says confidence and cockiness is the way to power and influence. But the Jesus way is humility.

Jesus wants you to experience awakening. It’s not as complicated as many make it. We must simply do the things He has shown us. Let’s get in line.

Prayer

Lord, we want to receive your blessing. We know, father, that we can quench your Spirit when we disconnect from You. Teach us, O God, to align ourselves with your heart so we might see and experience all that you have intended to give. Give us hunger for the right things. In your Name, Amen.

On Purpose, For Purpose

On Purpose, For Purpose

On Purpose, For Purpose

2 Timothy 1:9 - “...who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began...”
By: Chris Millar, College Pastor, University Heights Baptist Church

May 23, 2019

Paul, nearing the end of his life, writes down some of the final words that he will share with his beloved disciple, Timothy. Beginning with an encouragement to share in the suffering that Paul is enduring, Paul then takes somewhat of a theological detour as he gets caught up talking about the Father and the Son! This detour includes a remarkable truth for the believer and I believe can play a major role in seeing renewal in our lives and an awakening in our city.

Paul describes one of the core tenants of the Christian faith, namely, that we are saved by grace and not by works. And my goodness, is that good news for us! That means that God didn’t save me because of how big my church is, how many people I have gotten to lead to Jesus, or how many leaders I have developed, but solely because of His grace AND His purpose! Many of us have spent years thinking about and celebrating the GRACE that God has poured out in our lives and rightly so, but I wonder how many of us stop at grace and don’t allow that grace to move into PURPOSE! One of the things we say in our college ministry almost every week is that God made each and every one of us ON purpose and FOR purpose. That purpose begins in the person of Jesus Christ. That means that renewal begins in Jesus. Revival begins in Jesus. Awakening begins in Jesus. How? Each of these begin when individuals begin to live out their God-designed purposes in Christ. A purpose that is defined by God’s holy calling and by His grace, not by our works.

Some of us might feel discouraged or exhausted because we have been putting in so much time and not seeing the results that we wanted to see or we thought we were going to see or even the results that we prayed we would see. But, I am now striving to live out of a different metric. Today, did I live in light of the truth that God Himself made me on purpose and for purpose? Did I live in light of the grace that allows me to have purpose or did I work to try and make God happy?

I am praying for awakening and I hope you are too. I am praying that each and every person would know that God made them on purpose and they would begin to live out those purposes in Christ each and every day!

Prayer

Lord, thank You so much for saving us and calling us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to Your own purpose and grace, which You gave us in Christ Jesus. Thank You so much for being a creative God that could create billions of people with billions of unique purposes. God, we pray that we might see awakening in our city and in our nation as each and every member of the body of Christ begins to live out Your purpose for their lives. May it be in Houston as it is in Heaven. For Jesus we pray, amen!

Keeping Warm Hearts in Coldhearted Days

Keeping Warm Hearts in Coldhearted Days

Keeping Warm Hearts in Coldhearted Days

2 Thess. 3:5 - “May the Lord direct your hearts to God's love and Christ's endurance.” 
By: Leigh Kohler, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Freedom Church Alliance

May 22, 2019

There’s a worship song from the 90’s that is still today one of my absolute favorites of all time. I can still hear the voice of the late Rich Mullins singing it in my head. It goes like this:

“Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You. Oh God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You. I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways. And step by step You’ll lead me, and I will follow you all of my days.”

– Step by Step, written by David Strasser

I remember singing this as a high schooler in my youth group. Now, many years later, I still sing it to the Lord, and I tell Him I still mean it. A lot has happened in the years between, but when I sing it I’m also preaching to my spirit. I think it resonates with so many of us because it sums up the cry of our pilgrim hearts. It’s a song of surrender to our loving Shepherd. It’s a declaration that we are resolved to keep seeking Him, to keep walking in His ways and to always be His, come what may.

There are many twists and turns along life’s path. God’s ways and thoughts are higher so often we find ourselves in places and positions we did not see coming. Also, ministry is just messy. We are soldiers in a battle and there is no way to be all in and not get some battle wounds along the way. Whether it’s criticism, betrayal or just good old-fashioned discouragement (seems to be one of the enemy’s favorite tools), there is always the temptation to quit, retreat or maybe just play it safe and build a little wall of self- protection around our hearts to avoid hurt. But we must resist this temptation!

Scripture says that because of the increase of wickedness in the last days, the love of most will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). As believers we are not immune to this condition. It’s scary to think that we face the risk of having our hearts grow cold, which is why we’re told to keep forgiving, loving and being tender-hearted toward one another. The enemy seems to always be coming after our hearts – to keep us wounded, offended, divided and ultimately to shut us down. I have to often pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

In these days of evil, we are going to have to be intentional if we are going to have blazing, tender hearts for Christ. We will have to keep letting Jesus heal us and to tend to our hearts. No amount of planning, strategizing or leadership training will be a substitute for guarding our hearts and keeping them tender and in the love of Christ. This is essential to our calling.

As we spend these days in focused prayer for awakening, let us resolve to break away from the noise of the crowd and our busy schedules to let our good Father tend to our hearts. Where there is hurt or unmet expectations, let us take it to Jesus and let Him tend to our wounds. Where things have grown complicated, let’s return to the basics of praise, thanksgiving and surrender. Where disappointment has set in, let’s stand in faith and trust that our good Father knows what He’s doing and is leading us step by step.

Prayer

Father, all your ways are right and you are always faithful. We love you. We are yours. Where our hearts have grown cold, we ask you to forgive us, heal us, and touch us with the warmth of your Holy Spirit. Grant us fresh anointing in our Kingdom roles, and stir in us a passion for your name and a sacrificial love for others that will ignite a Jesus-movement around the world. Make us humble servants with tender, unoffended, loving hearts ready to receive the harvest of a great spiritual awakening. May your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Awaking a Sleeping Giant

Awaking a Sleeping Giant

Awaking a Sleeping Giant

2 Timothy 2:3-4
By: Nathan Law, HCPN Church Planting Resident

May 21, 2019

I love the Navy Seals and any kind of special forces type of military. Their motto is “No Easy Day”. These men can literally do things that seem impossible. In order to become a Navy Seal you have to endure some of the most intense trainings known to man including a week called “Hell Week”. Hell week is literally as hard as it sounds. Church planters are a lot like Navy Seals. They dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves. They pursue dangerous areas that are untouched by the gospel.

Why are the Seals so productive? They know their mission and put in the time to train well for it. As much as I love the Navy Seals anyone with common sense knows that they would not be able to operate apart from the rest of the military. Why is our military so powerful? Because we have a lot of good soldiers. Good soldiers come in all sizes in shapes. A Select group are Navy Seals but other military personnel may never even carry a gun. Our military is unstoppable because it is a unified team, everyone regardless of their role is working together for one common mission. What we need today is Godly soldiers serving in differing areas of the church, unified in purpose and dedicated to The

Great Commission.

The church in America has an abundance of external resources and has the potential to be more powerful than any American military. The reality is that our church seems more like a sleeping giant. As much as the Seals need the Military, the Military also desperately needs the Seals. In the same way Church planters need the established church and the established church needs church planters. As believers, regardless of the specific church we are involved with, we are called to be good soldiers for Jesus.

The need is great, currently the U.S. has the 4th largest unreached population in the world behind only India, China and Malaysia. Churches are closing their doors in mass numbers. Instead of teaching Exodus, there is a mass exodus, people are leaving the church. I can hear the echo of Paul’s words to Timothy being shared with us today: 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.If the Church will embrace this unified mindset can you even begin to fathom how God could use both the church planter and the established church together to reach this country for His glory! You see our mission cannot be about a single church, it's about a team of collective churches uniting together to reach their city, their state, every state and this world for His glory. Our mission is for the lost to receive life and about believers who are willing to run a rescue mission a yard from hell.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you have enlisted us as your soldiers to fight your battle against the enemy. It is a humbling privilege to follow you into the trenches and to the front line to spread the gospel of grace you secured for us at Calvary. Lord, we pray that as believers in your church that we would not become entangled in the affairs of everyday life. Lord, allow us to be soldiers who strive to live lives pleasing to you. Help us to know that we can accomplish the mission because of your grace. Help our gaze to be focused on freeing the captives, equipping and training Your soldiers and above all bringing You glory. Lastly, we pray that established churches and new church plants would work side by side in unity to spread the gospel with an urgency both in America and abroad. To you be the Glory.