Archive for January, 2017

May the fire on my altar never burn out. make me a house of prayer.

About to head out to see some friends but just wanted to fire this off in anticipation of the fasting and prayer starting next week. So I just came across the song “House of Prayer” that has been on my playlist for a minute. Such simple lyrics, “May the fire on my altar never burn out. May the fire on my altar never burn out. Make me a house of prayer.”
As I reflected on the words just now, I got a glimpse of what true, upside down Kingdom transformation looks like. I had the vivid memory of the smells of incense being offered to Hindu gods and goddesses as I enter homes in the neighborhood. When I used to be able to see, I remember the posters and idols on the walls. Flames and the odor wafting from the back room is so permanent in my mind. Sacrifice and worship to unknown gods.
As my sight has faded, it is this smell of incense that stands out to me these days. Over and over again I smell it as I walk by homes, my other senses heightened. I smile realizing another Hindu home is to my left or right but my heart sinks as I realize the devastating weight that is involved in pleasing gods made by the hands of men. Things are not alright.
May the fire on my altar never burn out, never burn out. Make me a house of prayer. Transformation looks like homes in this community burning with the incense of Jesus. His aroma that is a sweet smell to those who are being saved but a stench of death to those who are perishing. As we move into anticipating next week, may the fire of our altar burn and burn and burn and burn. . . . Never going out. Lord, make us a house of prayer. This is our plea, our song, our cry – transform homes, lives, and harts.

Transformed by the power of God

Remember that time when I didn’t blog anymore? So sorry for the silence! We spent the last week at International Teams headquarters where we met with our new teammate and good friend Molly. We had lots of laughs, good food, and excellent focus on moving forward in ministry. It was sort of like a mini-retreat and has definitely centered us on what is important in the New Year.
The mission of ITeams is “lives and communities transformed by the power of God.” You guys have heard me talk a lot about holistic transformation as we move forward in ministry – physical, spiritual, social, and emotional transformation in our community. Jesus came announcing that the Spirit of the Lord was on Him to preach Good News and set the captives free. Without question Jesus serves the whole person.
I have sometimes talked about and heard others talk about community transformation in a very flippant way. . . “We do transformation” or “our organization is all about integrated community transformation.” It should be and never can be that the task before us is casual or nonchalant. In studying Luke 4 (the Spirit of God is on me to preach Good news to the poor passage), I was floored again with the mission of Jesus. The task and life before us assumes fullness of the power of God. Everything that comes after that is merely and overflow of the infusing of the Spirit.
Molly was flying out to Chicago to meet us last week when she was reading over some ITeams publications. She read and re-read this line of “lives and communities transformed by the power of God.” The phrase “by the power of God” stood out to her as if someone dropped a weight on her lap. She was deeply convicted by this phrase – transformation, ministry, sharing the Good News, life itself doesn’t happen without the power of God. Spirit fullness through prayer and waiting on God was the clarion call for our team this week.
Our Nepali brothers and sisters along with Charity, Amos, Molly, and I want to know and depend on the power of God for transformative ministry. We can all so easily depend on things that have worked in the past, our education, our social skills, charismatic personality, quick wit . . . whatever. But without the power of God rising from our souls in prayer and dependence on the Spirit, we’re simply a humanitarian mission trusting in organizational leadership skills to fuel God’s program. Sick dudes. I mean gross, gross. Next.
Next week or the week following, our team is going to start a 1-2 week fast to re-focus and really try to catch God’s vision for transformation. Listening to the community and serving in community development, asset-based sort of principles is good. But it just isn’t good enough. We need a God-shaped vision that is fueled in God’s heart. We generally know where we are headed but we are all feeling a deep need for God to speak about His vision for our community. We want to hear from Him, need to hear from Him.
We will be inviting our Nepali Christian brothers and sisters into this fast as well as any of you who would like to participate. We are looking at the dates of January 16-29. Some of you may want to give a day or two to this or a more extended time. I will be giving out more details in our FB group with very specific prayer requests. Lives and communities transformed . . . not by our strength or effort, but by the supernatural power of God. Hands in the pile together!