it is good news

For those of us who grew up in the 80s, when we hear John 3:16, we picture the guy with the rainbow wig who somehow wound up on the camera at the Super Bowl, NBA Championships and World Series. If you’ve grown up since, you might think of Tim Tebow’s eye black during the national championship game. 

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Or, it may just deep enough in your sub-conscious that you can relate to the Simpson’s episode. Regardless of your affiliation with John 3:16, let me say this – it is incredibly good news.

We live in what I would describe as a increasingly post Christian world. According to a 10-year Barna study, 42% of the folks in Austin ascribe to being post Christian, meaning they typically don’t read the Bible, believe it to be accurate or believe in its message. As a result, they are not involved in the Church, either.

Only 27% of our city believes in The Bible, reads it on more than a weekly basis, and is engaged in Church on some level. Most of us respond to this news with sadness, depression or a desire to fight, to win back a mainstream position for our faith.

As a former sales guy, this data clarifies our current situation and audience. We have been entrusted a position of being ambassadors to the greatest Kingdom by The Most High King. And what we represent is incredibly Good News! Not just for us, but for the very ones who oppose it, too.

I see us (Christians) trying to wrestle back our lifestyle, our status quo, not so much as a means of reaching others with the winsome love of Jesus Christ, but more like we’re fighting at all cost to win an argument. We’re right, and they’re…lost.

That's not the point of Jesus' message in John 3:16.

So, whether you’re a Christian, post Christian or have no concern about the subject, I invite you to consider the simple message of John 3:16. It is Good News.

For God so loved: if you’ve never read this verse, please consider the very simple, but incredibly profound motivation of the Gospel, the reason for our existence is because God loves.

The world. We are the point and object of His love. He loves us. Us = the world. All people, from every skin color, gender, affiliation, political party, culture, movement or background. God loves the world.

That He gave His only Son: To begin to absorb the magnitude of this act, we have to come to grips with the idea of giving up what is most dear to us for the sake of someone who not only doesn’t deserve the gift, but might even oppose us. Simply put, God gave His Son up for you and me.

So that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life: He’s not holding a clipboard, keeping track of all our mistakes and waiting to let us have it. No, He loves us. In fact, He sent Jesus to reconcile us with Him today and forever.

If this news is new, I invite you to explore it. If you’ve heard it before and believe it, will you take this new year to re-read His Word (1 chapter a day, for 90 days, will take you through Jesus’ life and words; Matthew – John)?

Rather than reacting to what we think we know, or the platitudes of others, it is good to consider the actual words and acts of Jesus.

It is for you and me. And it is Good News.

For God so loved the world that he gave—the message of the gospel could be summed up into those nine words. The only way we can truly understand the message of the gospel is if we realize how incredibly loved we are by God.

good news of great joy, for all people!

“Suddenly, an angel of The LORD appeared among them, and the radiance of The LORD’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, The Messiah, The LORD – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” – Luke 2:9-11

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Shepherds in a field, quietly guarding their flocks of sheep, under a beautiful starry night were suddenly, divinely interrupted by an angel with good news, promising great joy to all people! The long-awaited Messiah, born today in the city of Bethlehem.

The story is incredible, and on a day filled with presents, traditions, family and feasts, it can easily fall into a category of a nice, little, well-known fable. But, that’s not what the angel has proclaimed; this isn’t just a sweet story that goes with your manger scene.

This is the invasion of the ages, the turning point of all History!

The LORD, entering into a dark world, desperate for a Savior, as a baby to an unassuming young couple, almost under cover. But, it all was predicted hundreds of years ahead. It was foretold, and each detail came to be exactly as prophesied:

  • He would have a forerunner, announcing to people The Messiah was coming (Malachi 3:1, 400 years before He was born; fulfilled in Luke 1:13-17,76)
  • He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, 750 years before He was born; fulfilled in Matthew 1:20-25)
  • He would be born into the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13, 1000 years before Jesus was born; fulfilled in Luke 1:31-33)
  • He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, 740 years before His birth; fulfilled Luke 2:6-7)
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In all, 333 prophecies were made about this Child. Through His birth, life, death and resurrection, 109 have been fulfilled just as predicted – every detail! The balance of prophecies (224) will be fulfilled when Christ returns, at the end of days.

The odds of one person fulfilling 8 of the prophecies about Jesus are staggering. The odds, as figured out by a professor and his students at Westmont college, are 1 in 10^17 power. That’s a number with 17 zeroes!

The Westmont scholars concluded this would be the same as covering the State of Texas with silver dollars, two feet deep, and marking one silver dollar with a red ‘x’. You would be blind-folded, while they stirred all of the silver dollars (as if stirring all of those would even be possible). Then, you would be asked to walk some place into our great state, and pick out the one silver dollar with the red ‘x’.

Remember, these are the calculated odds of only 8 prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled!

Why would the Son of God come to us, so quietly, so humbly and gently, in a tiny little hamlet in Judea? The King of kings into a feeding trough at a stable?

For the last two years, I’ve memorized the Christmas story, to share at our Christmas Eve service. This practice has caused the words of the story to roll around in my head for the last month, over and over again. It has been an incredible gift.

Based on my experience, I feel like I more clearly see that Jesus came exactly as He did, not to conquer us but to woo us. His desire is to be loved by you and me.

Oh, He could have completely overwhelmed us. He would have been right and just to do so. He is The Almighty God who merely spoke, and the heavens came to be. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He’s so big! He’s powerful!

Yet, He became one of us, that He might win our hearts and bring us into His Presence, to know and love Him forever and ever. The only thing bigger than Him is His love for you and me.

Merry Christmas!!

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church, broken & beautiful

Monday morning, standing in the hall at Anderson High, working as a volunteer hall monitor, I noticed a girl putting up signs. She looked like an underclassman, and didn’t carry herself with a lot of confidence, but she was busy taping several hand-written signs up on the walls of the hallway.

After she walked by and we said quiet hellos, I got up to read one of her signs.

“we are all broken. that’s how the light gets in.”

Brilliant. Beautiful. Honest. Raw. Truth.

Others' perceptions of believers can kill their journey into a church. Let me say to any who are on the outside of church looking in, we are not perfect. Since Adam & Eve, we have been flawed.

It's Christmas. If you read the beginning of the New Testament, in Matthew chapter 1, you’ll see a list of Jesus’ ancestors traced all the way back to Abraham. In this list, you’ll find liars, adulterers, murderers, swindlers and prostitutes.

Is the ancestry of Jesus corrupt? Well, I think you and I might have hesitated before we invited some of His people to dinner.

The reality is all of our ancestries are corrupt. What does it say to you that the ancestry of Jesus wasn’t perfect?

Humanity has been broken from the very beginning. You’ve seen little children, seemingly innocent, lie or attack another child to get their toy. In those moments, you know what David said in Psalm 14 and 53 – no one is perfect, not a single one of us.

If we were perfect, or capable of presenting ourselves before our perfect and holy Heavenly Father, there would not have been a need for Christ to come and die for our sins.

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” – Galatians 2:21

In our brokenness, we struggle to be as honest about our condition as this high school girl was. We’re afraid to operate out of her level of transparency.

There’s freedom in saying, “I’m broken...I need help.” It opens the door for real conversation. While we may not be able to be transparent in all of our circumstances, surely, we can be in our church.

Imagine meeting weekly with a group of people where you can honestly share your burdens, peeling away layers of self-protection, and not being ashamed. This is the beauty of the words of this young girl at Anderson. When we let people see the brokenness of our lives, they also get to see the beautiful work Jesus is doing in us.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7

Only because the fragile clay jar is broken are we able to see the great treasure within. When we own our brokenness, superficial gives way to deep, and we can rejoice together as The LORD does marvelous things in our lives.

Friends, we are the Church only because God has made us right by what Christ did for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus’ desire for us is to love each other, as we are. This is who we are to be for one another and for those we come in contact with today, especially those we sense are broken.

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My Interview with Bishop L.A. Wilkerson on Racism

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing my friend and fellow pastor, Bishop Lawrence Wilkerson, as part of a message series I was doing on Racism. The interview has become the most viewed ACF message this year.

Given its relevance and popularity, I thought I’d share it with you.

To learn more about Bishop Wilkerson and his church, click here.

 

grateful

grateful…

for a Heavenly Father, who loves me. Though it’s too good to imagine, it’s true. I am (we are) loved with undeserving, but unfailing love. Adopted into The Royal Family, an heir with a His Son, by a Father so far beyond my words.

for a no matter what love. No matter who I am or what I’ve done, I am forgiven and loved (you are, too).

for His Word. Against all accusations I stand in His Word, and on its promises. Truth. Black and white and red truth. Lies and the enemy are torn down as I read, accept and receive the truth. Life, and my Father Himself are in those pages.

for His beauty reflected everywhere. I see it in creation all around me, in His plans and His way. Through counseling couples about to get married this year, I’ve been reminded that His way not only holds us together, but it answers deep questions within a man and woman. His way is beautiful.

for His willingness to use us to display His manifold wisdom to those in the heavenly realms. He uses broken, hurt, fallible people to carry brilliant, marvelous light into the darkness. I don’t have to be perfect, just willing.

for a story bigger than mine; for His Story. It’s a story with a beginning and an end even better than the beginning. In the midst of the struggles in our present day, I’m grateful history has a direction and something incredible is coming!

for my beautiful bride. Reflecting on 26 years of marriage, I am so thankful God created Celia & that she's my wife. I could go on and on and on, but it’d be too mushy. I love who she is. She is the love of my life, and one glance from her captivates my heart…still.

for our kids, who no longer look or act like kids. Well...maybe I got all swept up in gratitude. They’re sweet and I love who they’re becoming. Every morning I thank God for all His answers in their lives, but first that they are His. Joy, adventure, laughter, strength, discipline, kindness, love and fun are just a few of the things I see and am thankful for in them.

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for family. Parents who loved us and taught us so much, like what keeping their covenant means. Best of all, they modeled what it looks like to follow Jesus. For 4 brothers, their wives and children. I’m thankful for each brother, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, niece and nephew.

for my friends. I’m so grateful for the friends I get to meet with each week, listening, encouraging and challenging each other. For old friends, and for those I walk alongside now.

for this church community. Volunteers who know they are The Church, working to make church happen every week, in the midst of their busy schedules. There are principals, apartment managers, and school staffs who know me as a guy who will help, even though I have no idea how. I’m useless without our church behind me, backing up my yes. In every one of those situations, we get to share the love and hope of Jesus. I'm truly grateful to be a part of our church community.

for our NW staff. A team that loves, supports and encourages one another. And they’re really, really good at what they do! I’m thankful for each one of them.

for being a part of a larger staff at ACF. The community pastors, our fearless leaders and every other staff member. Every time I hear one of them share their heart, I’m grateful to work alongside such incredible people.

for our small group. We’ve been together for years now; we pray for one another, rejoicing in victories, promotions, achievements and share in the losses. More to come, and for that I am thankful, too.

for the crazy mob that shows up on Thursday nights. Celia and I are so thankful for our friends who show up week after week, to laugh, eat together, hang out, worship and pray for each other. If you’re down on millennials, you should come to our house on a Thursday night and be overwhelmed. Our times are crazy, but I’m encouraged to know these are the people who will be leading in the days ahead.

and last, but not least, for my old buddy Leroy. Thankful he’s excited to see me every morning and every time I come home.

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Yeah, I’m grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

“From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” – John 1:16

grace upon grace

PrayeRadiation

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. Candidly, I haven’t felt like I had much new to say.

Until yesterday.

God hit me hard with a concept that I want to share briefly with you. It’s called Prayeradiation. Or said differently, Prayer Radiation.

As I’m sure you know, radiation treatments are extremely effective in battling cancer. Doctors are able to blast cancerous growths with deadly pinpoint accuracy. The radiation changes the DNA of the cancer cells and keeps them from reproducing. And this treatment can be done, usually, without too much damage to the surrounding, healthy cells.

I believe that is a perfect picture for how God wants us to respond to spiritual battles and other “cancers” in our lives. When devastation strikes, we need to respond with the powerful pinpoint accuracy of prayer.

I have several friends and co-workers for whom we’re seeking physical healing. One is partially deaf, one has cerebral palsy, and one has a brutal and rare autoimmune disorder. We’re using prayeradiation to treat them and to solicit their healing.

We use the same prayeradiation strategy to treat failing marriages, drug, alcohol and other addictions, and to go after the spiritual blindness that afflicts so many of our loved ones. It’s a great strategy, and one that is way under-used.

What issues in your life do you need to assault with prayeradiation? It’s easy to do:

  1. Determine the area you want to attack
  2. Find a verse or verses that describe what you want God to do in the infected area
  3. Assault the need daily with the prayer promise, and make sure you have others agreeing with you in prayer
  4. Don’t stop the prayeradiation treatments until God has either fully answered the prayer or told you to pray differently.

And now, I’m off to a prayer meeting. There’s Kingdom work to be done.

*If you want to learn more about pinpoint praying, feel free to check out my book Pray Big.

 

talking to yourself?

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Hustling between appointments earlier this week, I drove past a man in the midst of a very animated discussion…with himself. He was giving himself or somebody a good talking to.

After watching playoffs and the World Series, seeing this man reminded me of Mark Fidrych. “The Bird” pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the 70s. He used to talk to the ball, and himself, while on the mound.

The Bird was also known for taking time to manicure the mound before each inning.

The Bird was also known for taking time to manicure the mound before each inning.

We all do this, right? Most of us are more discreet than the man I saw or The Bird, but we have these internal discussions.

You might imagine you hear a friend say something negative about you.

You imagine your response, kinda tough, and kinda harsh.

Then, you imagine they say something you can’t believe,

and a split second later you unload on them for even thinking such a thing.

Your blood pressure is up,

your heart is pumping…

Only, nothing was actually said. The heated exchange only happened in your mind. Yet, you’re upset.

Some of my most intense conversations spill out under the hum of my mower, in the backyard. Other than the sideways glance from my faithful lab Leroy, no one ever hears, but these discussions bounce around in my head from time to time.

It’s not just me, and the guy on the corner, is it??

My friend Jay has shared with our Friday morning group we all have this internal discussion going on all the time. Seeing this guy on the street reminded me of something else Jay said about those conversations.

Why don’t we invite Jesus in? We’re already consumed with these thoughts, so why not invite The Lord in and share our conversation with Him?

In isolation, our fears grow bigger, our battles are more intense and our worries run out of control. Alone, we imagine the worst.

God’s Word, though, encourages us to share the deepest burdens with our Father. He wants us to bring our true concerns to Him. 

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you." - 1 Peter 5:7

We often hesitate because we’re not sure we can lay it all out. The Lord might not like what we’re thinking. Friends, He will not be surprised by anything we say.

Psalm 139:1,4 - God knows our thoughts, so we're free to be honest with Him!

Psalm 139:1,4 - God knows our thoughts, so we're free to be honest with Him!

We don’t have to hide our lack of faith or our struggles with others from Him. He’s not looking for a perfect performance. He’s looking for you and me.

“O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.”

– Psalm 62:8

When we bring everything to The Lord, He surrounds us with His peace, protecting our mind and heart.

Philippians 4:6-7 - pray about everything!

Philippians 4:6-7 - pray about everything!

This is The Good News; we have been saved, not only from separation from our Father forever, but that we have a Father who loves us & is with us. We often stop at salvation, but there’s so much more.

Our enemy would have us think if we haven’t spoken to God in some time we should be ashamed and keep our distance. That.is.a.lie.

“I am pleased each time you initiate communication with Me…When you realize that your mind has wandered away from Me, don’t be alarmed or surprised. You live in a world that has been rigged to distract you. Each time you plow your way through the massive distractions to communicate with Me, you achieve a victory.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Imagine a Father who loves you so much more than anyone has ever loved you.

Imagine He was willing to give up His very own Son, to cover all your sins, so that you could come into His perfect presence.

Imagine He did all this, so you would be with Him.

This is your Father. No need to talk alone. Invite Him in.

 

 

fierce independence

The Marlboro Man. Is there a manlier image from my childhood?

The Six million dollar man was an actor defined by fake stunt scenes, super heroes are super goofy (please – they wear tights) and even Rocky was just another actor.

Sports figures like Lee Roy Jordan, and Mean Joe Green come to mind, but they’re pro athletes; not many of us can become one of those. This guy, Darrell Winfield, was actually a cowboy in Wyoming.

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The folks at Phillip Morris were looking for an authentic cowboy to establish their cigarettes as masculine. They went to Wyoming, and found Darrell working on a ranch. He did the ad campaign for a period of time and is referred to as “the real Marlboro man.”

The image spoke to me as a kid. Back when cigarette ads graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, I saw a tough guy who looked like he could handle just about any challenge. He reminds me of Billy Crystal & Bruno Kirby’s comments about Curly in “City Slickers”:

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“Did you see how leathery he was? He was like a saddlebag with eyes.”

 “This guy Curly, is a true cowboy. One of the last real men. He’s untamed, a mustang.”

Most would say how negative the ads were because they promoted smoking and made it look cool. I agree; that’s another blog for another blogger.

For me, the power of this image is one of fierce independence. It’s a quality that defines our country, and many would argue, what makes our country great. All great qualities also have some negative side effects.

Being independent, able to take care of myself and not needing a thing from anyone, is a value that was just engrained in me. As I read God’s Word, and learn what it means to follow Christ, I have to fight my own fiercely independent nature. It’s not what Jesus has called us to be.

Here are a few fallacies of fierce independence:

Independence teaches me to trust myself, but dependence teaches me to trust my Father in Heaven. David was a shepherd, alone on the Judean hills protecting his flock, where he developed a dependent heart on God. He fought Goliath, a giant no one else would fight, because David knew God was with him; it wasn’t his effort, it was God’s results. He learned this by trusting God every day as a shepherd.

By saying we’re Christians, we proclaim to trust Jesus Christ with our lives. It doesn’t make sense to say we’re His, and only pursue what we want. Jesus’ disciples, His first followers, dropped their nets to follow Him. The more we follow Him, the more we learn to trust Him.

“He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.” –Psalm 23;3

 “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6

 “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. “ – 1 John 4:16

Independence leads to the best I can do, but dependence leads to God-sized results. When we surrender our lives to God, He moves through us in ways we never thought possible. In Acts 10, Peter has a dream and ultimately connects with a Gentile named Cornelius. By following God’s direction in his dream, Peter winds up sharing his faith with Cornelius, his household, friends and relatives. They all come to faith in Jesus; something Peter never expected.

When we follow God, rather than our own way, we see Him move in ways we would have never guessed. He is, after all, supernatural!

“We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer.” – Proverbs 16:1

 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20

Independence fosters loneliness and heartache, while dependence fosters a close relationship with our Heavenly Father and community. When I pursue all I want with fierce independence, I’m tempted to put on a good face, convincing those close to me that everything is great. In dependence, I learn to live a more authentic life, pouring out my heart to my Father and friends.

I become free to be exactly who God made me to be. In trusting and following Him, I experience real love and acceptance.

“Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."- Matthew 11:28-30

 “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me.” – John 17:23

Dependence requires surrender, but to a Father who loves us way beyond what we can grasp.

waiting…

Anthony was a wealthy Egyptian, who lived from 251-356 AD. That’s over 100 years, in a time where long life wasn't common.

When Anthony came to faith in Christ, he read the verse about selling everything he had and giving to the poor. He renounced his wealth, his wealthy upbringing and all his possessions. He left his family and went into the desert to live in solitude. Not for a week, or a month, or even a year, but for 20 years Anthony lived in solitude.

He gave up all he knew and lived alone to learn compassion. He gave up all his activities to understand prayer and communion with God. It is said of him, that he battled the devil intensely.

Curiously, when he emerged from two decades of solitude, he began to love and serve the poor. People sought out his thoughts and opinions. He ministered to many, including Emperor Constantine Augustus.

Ultimately, after serving the poor and in prisons, Anthony retired to solitude, to spend his days in direct communion with The Lord.

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new,

and yet it is the law of all progress that is made by

passing through some stages of instability - 

and that it may take a very long time…

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

-Teilhard de Chardin

 

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Our lives are lived at such a fast pace. We drive thru for a fast food meal. We don’t know how long it’s supposed to take, but if the magic time is 3 minutes, we intuitively become uneasy at 3:30, and begin to get angry at the 4-minute mark.

Honestly, we race thru life, don’t we?

Delayed gratification in our world means spending 3-4 more years in higher education, so that we can have a career in our chosen field for 30-40 years.

Jesus spent 30 years in obscurity before beginning the most transforming ministry ever lived. His ministry only lasted 3 years. Anthony spent 20 years in the desert, then served the poor. He was noticed and then brought to the Emperor for advice, decades after he decided to follow Jesus.

“Be still in the presence of The Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” – ps 37:7

We remember when we look back to see the things God has done, we’re on a journey. The best things rarely happen immediately. Our worries, cares and fears subside as we see God moving, and we learn slowly we cannot control the outcome.

In time, we learn to turn to our Father, and our hearts soften. He becomes our Strength, and Shield. He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ask or imagine. His timing, though, is not ours.

So, when we look at hard circumstances in our lives, or in the lives of those we love, we can trust His timing. We should remember we're on a journey, and they are, too:

Our kids, even if they’re wayward right now

Struggles with our spouse

Family members in the midst of illness, or a mess

Pressures on our family

Difficult relationships at work

Through our longest and hardest seasons, let’s remember the hand of God may move slowly, but it moves faithfully. He is at work, accomplishing everything He desires for us, and for those we love.

 

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Somebody’s praying

“Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” - Hebrews 7:25

 Have you considered the idea, that Somebody is interceding for you?

After about a week in Onaville, Haiti, our little team hugged and left our friends Tuesday afternoon. We met together that night, talking and sharing much of what we had experienced this past week.

Thoughts became prayers. These pastors, kids, men and women in Onaville have become our friends. 

Delecsan attends Green Church Number 1. We’ve played with he & his brothers at our VBS programs for the last few years. He’s growing into a sweet young man who helps Pastor Noel around the church property.

Delecsan attends Green Church Number 1. We’ve played with he & his brothers at our VBS programs for the last few years. He’s growing into a sweet young man who helps Pastor Noel around the church property.

Mario, the pastor of Green Church Number 4, loves his young family, and is pastoring his church so well.  

Mario, the pastor of Green Church Number 4, loves his young family, and is pastoring his church so well.

 

Simi and Pierre will be instructors for the trade school we hope to get off the ground this year.

Simi and Pierre will be instructors for the trade school we hope to get off the ground this year.

Todd Lewis and me, with instructors we had the privilege to work with this week, making plans for the trade school.

Todd Lewis and me, with instructors we had the privilege to work with this week, making plans for the trade school.

Magdala, her husband and daughters. She sewed every one of those beautiful outfits. She will be the sewing instructor at the trade school. 

Magdala, her husband and daughters. She sewed every one of those beautiful outfits. She will be the sewing instructor at the trade school. 

Kristi, her baby Prince and her husband live next to Green Church Number 4. We asked if we could pray for her and she wanted to us to pray that Jesus would change her life. I’ll never forget how quickly she opened up to us. It was sweet, and raw, and wonderful.

Kristi, her baby Prince and her husband live next to Green Church Number 4. We asked if we could pray for her and she wanted to us to pray that Jesus would change her life. I’ll never forget how quickly she opened up to us. It was sweet, and raw, and wonderful.

Kids at Green Church Number 4. Our hope is to start a small school this fall for these kids.

Kids at Green Church Number 4. Our hope is to start a small school this fall for these kids.

And of course, Todd and me with Pastor Noel, who leads the Green Church Network

And of course, Todd and me with Pastor Noel, who leads the Green Church Network

These are just a few of our friends. This time in Onaville, we learned more about their circumstances, ministries and lives.In our minds, they face challenges that are, well, too much. Wondering if they will have enough for food, or enough to keep their kids in school, or if they’ll have jobs.

Where appropriate we’ve worked to give to and support our friends. At some point, though, there are physical, medical and financial needs we cannot address, and are just part of their stories.

 

Yet, they are not alone.

 

God not only sees them, but His Spirit is within them, encouraging, counseling and guiding them. Wednesday morning I was reminded that Jesus is at the right hand of our Father, interceding for them.

“Christ Jesus, who died — more that that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” - Romans 8:34

What could I possibly do or pray for them that would be better than what Jesus is asking God to do for them?

Then I wondered, what about me? And what about you?

Wouldn’t you love to know what Jesus is praying over your life right now? Imagine you could agree in prayer with the Son of God—that ought to add some serious firepower to your prayers!” -- John Eldredge, Moving Mountains

Why wouldn’t we agree in prayer with Jesus for our lives? What about our loved ones? Doesn’t it encourage you to know Jesus, our High Priest, sees them and knows them? He is before God Almighty, pleading for them.

So, I took a deep breath this morning, and asked The LORD to let me join His prayers, for my beautiful friends in Onaville, for my wife, my children, and me.

How about you?

What are you going to do with the knowledge that Jesus is before our Father praying for you, and your loved ones?