Archive for September, 2008
Well, Sunday was an exciting step in the process of launching Second Mile Church. Our sending church, East Valley Bible Church, threw us a “baby shower” where they invited their people to pray for us and contribute financially towards the startup costs of the new church. I preached at all four services (click here to hear it in iTunes), our people were out in full force with Second Mile T-Shirts serving and collecting contributions, and people responded tremendously. We had a big goal and, by God’s grace, surpassed it by quite a bit. We are so thankful to so many who prayed for us and who are supporting this new work. It’s only the beginning of great things God will do.
We’ve got a number of exciting things coming up. Be sure to check out our upcoming events.
I had the joy of preaching yesterday at East Valley Bible Church on Colossians 4:2-6, which really deals with committing to prayer and missional living. One of the examples I shared was about George Mueller, the 19th century evangelist and orphanage coordinator who was marked by his devotion to missional prayer. Here’s the story:
George Mueller, the great Victorian Christian and social reformer, tells a story of persistent prayer in his diary:
In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land, on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day, I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted.
Thirty-six years later he wrote that the other two, sons of one of Mueller’s friends, were still not converted. He wrote, “But I hope in God, I pray on, and look for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be.” In 1897, fifty-two years after he began to pray daily, without interruption, for these two men, they were finally converted- but after he died!
May we be people who are marked by a devotion to prayer for the gospel of Jesus Christ to spread and take root in the hearts of our friends, families, and neighbors.
For John Piper’s excellent biographical message about Mueller, click here.
If you hang around here for any period of time, you’ll bump into a number of great resources from Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He’s been very influential on me and a number of Second Mile’s leaders, particularly in his understanding of how to apply the gospel and understand its implications. One great example of this is in his brief article, “All of Life is Repentance.” This is one you don’t want to miss.
Click here for more Tim Keller resources.
I am constantly overjoyed at how faithfully God has answered the prayers of his people on behalf of our family and Second Mile Church. There’s a team of over 175 people who I send updates to every few weeks and who have committed to pray for us (let me know if you’d like to be added). My updates usually deal with things for our family and some impending church needs, but it’s made me reflect on some big, long-term prayers for Second Mile.
- That Second Mile would be a faithful group of people who love Jesus Christ more than anything.
- That Second Mile would be a catalyst for dozens of other new churches that would saturate the Williams Gateway/Queen Creek communities.
- That thousands of people would come to personally know Jesus through our ministry.
- That Second Mile would experience miracles and answers to prayer that can only be explained by the power of God.
- That Second Mile would cling to the gospel of grace not just for salvation but for daily renewal.
- That Second Mile would be an agent of restoration, particularly in broken marriages and families.
- That Second Mile’s leadership would make right decisions even when they are costly or unpopular.
- That Second Mile would be such a valuable part of the community that people who disagree with us would still be thankful that we’re here.
- That Second Mile would be the most generous, most sacrificial, most joyful, and most service-oriented people in the community.
- That Second Mile’s treasure would always be Jesus himself and that we wouldn’t settle for just doing church.
These are big prayers that are worth devoting my life to. Fortunately, we serve a big God who alone can answer each of them above and beyond what we ask or think.
Phil Wickham is a tremendous young singer/songwriter who is producing some wonderful worship music. I first saw him last year at a David Crowder Band concert and he’s playing with Steve Fee on October 25 at Sun Valley Community Church in Gilbert.
Anyway, he’s got a FREE album out that you can download online called “Singalong.” All you do is give him your email address and they give you a link to download it. I’ve been jamming to it for the last week or so.
Go check it out. You can thank me later.
The closer we get to our fall Preview Worship Gatherings, the more I’m thinking about how Second Mile Church can most effectively minister to our kids. I’ve got a two-year old of my own and my desires for her church experience really shape what I want for our children’s ministry. I think children’s ministry needs to be primarily about three things:
- Safety – It is essential that kids are protected and secure.
- Fun – I want my daughter to love gathering on Sundays to be with God’s people.
- Jesus – Kids need to learn something, particularly about Jesus. They need to grow to admire and adore him.
What else? What are the other things that you think matter to parents or matter to you personally? (Leave your comments below)
Next Tuesday marks the beginning of the 2008-2009 Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute, sponsored by the town of Queen Creek. I’m planning to go through this program this year and learn as much as I can about my new town. I went through Gilbert’s Leadership program last year and learned so much and met so many good people that I’m excited to do this one.
Want to join me? If you think you’d like to come along with me, let me know. It would be great chance to get to know you better while we learn about our community. Just email me or leave a comment below.
On a related note…Last night I went to a mixer with the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce just to meet some business people who care about the community. I’ve been to a few of these types of events in different settings and people are usually pretty surprised to see a pastor there or to hear about a church that actually cares about the community’s greater needs and not just the church’s needs. It’s all part of being a city-positive church that works for the greater good of the whole city (Jer 29:4-7).
I ran into a friend yesterday who gave me a bracelet that had the words “charity: water” written on it. I’m glad he did. He said, “Check out their website. I can’t tell you about it or it will ruin the surprise.”
So, what are you waiting for? Check it out.
If you’re in town, join us for a party this Saturday to watch the ASU/Georgia football game. Here’s the info:
When: Saturday (9/20) from 4:30pm to whenever
Where: Uncle Bear’s, 7205 S Power Rd (NE corner of Power & Rittenhouse)
Why: Just for fun. Bring some friends and have a good time.
What about kids? Bring ’em along! (Half the place is a family-friendly restaurant, the other half is a smoke-free bar)
Anybody who has walked closely with the Lord for a long period of time will tell you that one of the key ingredients to their relationship with God has been regular, consistent devotional time. Christians often call this “having a quiet time.” The Puritans called it the “morning watch.” Either way, it’s someting that most Christians battle to have as a regular time built into their daily routines.
As I was studying Acts this morning with some of our Missional Community leaders we were struck by the early churches commitment to prayer, as seen in Acts 1:14 — “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer.” This was obviously a time of extended, corporate, prevailing prayer. I wondered why so few ministries, churches, and individuals seem to be marked by this kind of prayer.
Then it hit me. In the first century, few people had access to a personal copy of the Scripture. Most people’s only access to God’s written word was through their synagogue. As a result, what would a first-century quiet time look like? It would consist of mostly (totally?) prayer.
In contrast, I have multiple Bibles of my own and I love the word of God. So, my “quiet time” is usually made up primarily of Bible reading and study with a little bit of prayer. I think this is the experience of most of the believers I know. I think the result is that we know a lot about God but our intimacy with him is weak. We depend much more on what we know than on the Spirit’s guiding.
This is NOT a call to abandon Bible study as part of my devotional time with God, but a call to remember that prayer needs to be a crucial and growing part of my devotional life. Probaby yours too.