Aug 28, 2009

Seven Days and Counting--Power in Fasting

I took sometime yesterday and today to fast and pray for the upcoming ministry to Burundi. This is a powerful discipline that I have grown to appreciate whenever I am entering a season of intense ministry or tremendous personal life changes. It allows me to hear God more clearly, draw great strength and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and focus on the mission at hand. I need all these at the moment as I prepare the messages for the thousands of people we will minister to in Africa. I had also invited our ministry leadership and travelling teams to fast and pray alongside as they are able. Over the years we have found this to be a critical piece in team preparation as we are unified in our purpose and mission. I got thinking about Jesus' encounter with the demoniac and his response to the disciples' inquiry as to why they could not cast out the demon. The story is in Matthew 17:14-22. In the story, Jesus and his disciples are surrounded by a crowd. Then a man comes falling at Jesus feet pleading for him to cure his demon possessed son. He also informs Jesus that His disciples were unable to cure the youngman. Jesus proceeds to cure him. While it is common throughout the gospel of Matthew for Jesus to rebuke his disciples for their lack of faith as he does in this instance, he does however add something else. In verse 21 He says, "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Of course some translations point out that this verse does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Some biblical scholars do therefore argue that it is possible it was added later by a zealous scribe. But is it not true that fasting and prayer bring with them tremendous break-through? One point of praise: Yesterday I shared with you that we need to raise $ 19,000 over the next few days to meet our budgetary needs for Burundi. I did declair my faith and confidence that God was going to provide in time. Well, today my faith continues to be affirmed. Provisions are coming in and now what we need is $ 13,000. As I shared with you, faith is trust that the invisible hand of God that beckoned you to follow will also provide and sustain you with its in-exhaustible resources. I know that God's hand beckoning us toward this work will supply and sustain us until it is completed. Glory to God! You wanto to help reach out to the people of Burundi? Visit our secure website @ http://www.swimministry.org/.

Aug 27, 2009

Eight Days and Counting…What is Faith?

Maybe you hear this or even say this a lot: "I can't believe how fast the days are going by! It is already the end of …August."

I am having my own little moments of that. We now stand only a mere eight days before our departure for the Burundi mission.

When we started the Burundi outreach efforts in November 2008 and set September 2009 as the possible date for the Bujumbura Festival of Hope and conference, I felt that we had adequate time to pray, plan, fundraise, and execute the plans. The economic times then like now, were getting tougher and tougher for missionary fundraising. But with faith like a mustard seed, Suzanne and I hoped against hope.

One day, a mere couple weeks before the set date for departure, while speaking at a church in Southwest Minnesota, God touched someone to donate $ 5000. We knew God was confirming our faith. Eventually we managed to raise everything that we needed to lounge the efforts with Burundi churches (about $ 16,000) during that short space of time.

Ten months later, we stand on the brink of completion. I am totally blown away by God's faithfulness in the journey and I have no doubt that we shall see many souls brought to the Kingdom at the Festival of Hope. I am confident that many leaders- spiritual, business and political- will be equipped for Jesus at the conference. I am eager to preach the gospel of our Lord.

There is just one small obstacle: with just eight days to go, we still need $ 19,000 to cover the outreach expenses. Will God do it again?

That brings me to ask this question: What is faith?

Watchman Nee said this: Faith is like an invisible staircase. When you put forward your foot, you find solid granite (paraphrase).

There is the point: You have to put your foot forward even though you stand the danger of tumbling into the invisible abyss. Faith is trust that the invisible hand of God that beckoned you to follow will also provide and sustain you with its in-exhaustible resources. As we work and wait for God's provisions ahead of our departure next Friday, I am content to entrust Him with every remaining detail.

To you I would like to re-iterate the words of Corrie Ten Boom: Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Any concern too great to be turned into a burden is great enough to be turned into prayer.

And yes, I can believe how fast the days are going by. It is already the end of August …in September we get to usher many Burundians into the Kingdom.

Speaking of Burundi, here is a sneak preview of one of our TV promos playing in Burundi. The language is Swahili J!Ubarikiwe na Yesu!!

video

Aug 24, 2009

Ten days and counting

So, I have been gone from this page for a while. Glad, however, to be back and to pick up from where I left. As you know, ministry life is busy. It is always a race between family, travel, and office house-keeping stuff such as fundraising.

Here is a cool story though. This past Saturday August 22nd I joined with the congregation of Grace Church, Forest Lake, MN for an evening of outreach to their community. They had invited me to be their evangelist for the outdoor event. So, on Saturday afternoon, my wife, her sister LeeAnn and my brother-in-law Matt drove out there for the event.

I spoke from Luke 21:34-36. Jesus says, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkness and the worries of life, and that day will come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man."

Here is my question: Is the day of the Lord near? If so, when is it? What does Jesus mean by "stay on guard"?

During my speaking, my main point wasn't about the day of the Lord though. I wanted my audience of about a hundred people to reflect on how come they are here, why and where they are going. I invited people to pray with me to receive Jesus Christ into their lives and four people did...glory to God!! So cool!

Finally, I have ten days left before I leave for the country of Burundi. We are so pumped up for what God is going to do over there even though I have some serious concerns I have put before the Lord. Come back tomorrow if you wanna know what they are.

Have a great day today and remember to stay on guard :)!