It is great to be home from a fabulous week at the Heart-Cry Conference at the Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. The original intention was to go to the conference because I was doing a workshop on the prayer movement in Holland from 2005-2007. However, I know that God had other reasons for me to be there. This was fairly clear given the fact that out of about 300 conference attendees only about 15 came to my workshop. I think God wanted a humbled, listening heart. He had designs for my heart, not my mouth.
If you are interested in the personal take aways, I wrote about them in my blog. (click the word "blog" to go there)
Where are we going this Sunday? I must tell you I had a wonderful time marveling at Jesus in Matthew 9:18-24, and I was amazed at the beautiful pictures of grace that are all over our passage for Sunday. The verses mix 4 miracles with desperate faith, and it is something to behold.
Here's the summary for Sunday: When you've got nothing left but faith in Jesus, you've got everything because nothing is impossible for Jesus.
The miracles show us Jesus' amazing ability to move people from 1) Loss to Restoration, 2) Shame to Wholeness, and 3) Captivity to Freedom.
The story of the woman with a hemorrhaging problem is very moving. Here's what I wrote for Sunday:
"This woman is not only desperate; she is filled with shame. She doesn't approach Jesus like others have. She doesn't fall down in front of him. No, she comes up from behind him and simply tries to touch him. This is an unthinkable action on her part because technically she would be making Jesus unclean. No words, no plea, no conversation. She comes to Jesus behind his back and secretly touches his garment."
Now what happens next is amazing. Jesus is touched by an unclean woman (making him unclean), and she receives the healing power from Jesus. Could the gospel be any clearer here? It reminded me so much of this verse: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). What a beautiful divine exchange!
Along with the beauty of this, I'll be dealing a bit with the issue of shame. Please pray about this. There are many people who live in perpetual states of shame for what they've done or what was done to them. I hope to call them out of the tomb of humiliation, and I hope that our counselors will be busy after services providing comfort and counsel for shame-filled people. To help you know how to pray, here are five statements that I'm going to offer as hope to shamed people:
- God knows it all, and He still loves me (Psalm 139:1-18)
- He is sovereign over everything (Psalm 135:6)
- I'm completely forgiven (Rom 8:1)
- He has made me a new person (2 Cor 5:17)
- I live for his glory (2 Cor 5:9)
I'm praying that God would set some people free on Sunday. I'm praying there will be some desperate people who will come to see that, maybe for the first time, that nothing is impossible for Jesus.
So pray for desperation; because without it we tend to cling to our own sufficiency. Faith is birthed when self-sufficiency is lost
Finally, pray for the introduction of our Christmas offering project in Mango, Togo. This project puts us at the battle-line of the conflict between Islam and Christianity in West Africa. The story is compelling, the mission is critical, and the opportunity is mind-boggling Our early involvement is critical for the success and credibility of the project. Pray that the 1000 new people would catch this critical part of our DNA. Pray that reaching unreached will be a vision that shows up in withdrawals from bank accounts in the next 6 weeks!
Thanks for holding up my arms!