Life Can Be Frightening, Friend.

But then, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound, well-disciplined mind.  The Father dispenses right knowledge and wisdom and equipage to get your life lived with a smile and a dance in your step.  He does.  Really, He does.

It is frightening to face life without a loving Father’s protection and insight.  This morning as I prayed for my friends, my guideline was the book of Ephesians.  Yes, I read through the entire letter and prayed.  It usually takes about an hour these days, sometimes two hours or more.  Martin Luther, the great reformation leader, and others are quoted as saying, “I had so much to do today, I had to start with 3 hours of prayer.”  I get it.  There is no time to waste. Every minute has to count and prayer puts the power in the punch.

It is frightening to look into tomorrow and realize the threats and opportunities to fail and opportunities to succeed. Failure and success are not distant partners.  Each brings an element of pain and cleanup.  Each creates a next step that has to be addressed.  Plan for success and handle the failure.

It is frightening to go it alone. Living alongside the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a fearsome task.  He really does get things done. Boy, am I glad I don’t work in the kingdom alone.  It would be hell.  Yes, I believe hell on earth is trying to do the work of living without family and friends and partners in work and ministry and life. When I make a list of co-laborers, I never get to the end.  There are thousands.  What a blessing.

It is frightening to trust my own hand. Friend, never trust yourself to get it done.  When you stretch out with God, you will find yourself in situations that are impossible.  They take impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy.  He has a ready supply of all four.

My prayer for friends.

Father take the hand of my friend and bring impossible strength, impossible faith, impossible love, and impossible energy into the path.  As You walk with my friend enable with everything necessary to live abundantly, faithfully, and effectively.  Let life be changed.  Let fear be put into the street.  Let faith shine so bright those around my friend will lose fear and find faith.

Other’s Need – God’s Supply – Your Hand and Heart

Remember to pray for the Community Transformation Initiative and all those that are helping and joining. After taking a few months of prep and collaboration, you would not believe the demands of the next six weeks at the Community Transformation Initiative.  We are actively engaged in East OKC, North OKC, Stillwater, Del City, St. Louis, Matamoros, Mexico, and online around the world. Every one of these engagements results in life change.  Our goal for 2013 was to impact 1000 families face to face.  In the last 30 days, we’ve exceeded 300 and expect to pass that goal in the next six weeks. Much of this is 1-1.In the next six weeks, we will be presenting live for over 60 hours.  The average pastor will present 10 hours in the same period. Much of our presentation will be bilingual and all of it will occur outside my personal cultural background.  The average pastor/leader never does either of these because they are ten times more exhausting than staying within your personal culture zone or niche. The Community Transformation Initiative is not called to be average.  Our aim is transformation.

 

Our commitment and high level schedule:

General Ministerial Conference – Dallas July 24-26

East Zion Men’s Leadership – July 26th 7pm

Telemundo Radio 33.1 – July 27th Interview on Matamoros outreach 2:30pm to 3pm

Rewrite – Mentoring – Life Church July 31st

Fearless Weekend – Tabitha Baptist East OKC Aug 2,3,4

Fearless Weekend – Regrese de Clase – CAREVI – Matamoros, Mex Aug 8-12

Watch DOG Launch –  Back to School – Tulakes NW OKCAug 16

Watch DOG Launch – Epperly Heights – Del City – date tba

Outreach Planters Training – OKC Aug 23-25

Schools of Prayer – West OKC – Aug 7, Sept 4

Dad’s University – Online Fall Semester Aug 20-end of term

Champion Fathers Luncheon and Tourney – SW OKC Sept 16th

Total cost to get this done – $20,000.  On hand funds $1500.  Faith Commitments $5000. God’s Challenge To Be Met: $13,500

How to support.. <==click it

Impossible faith will see it to completion.

Impossible love will keep us motivated.

Impossible strength will bring us to perform.

Impossible energy will make this fun.

Meet Jesus : Light of the World Matthew 5:13

Matthew 5: 13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

What does it mean to be the light of the world?  Connection to Jesus means we become the light of the world.  Connection to Jesus means we are a part of a city on a hill that cannot be hid.  It is not us individually to whom He speaks.  It is us, the City of God, the people of God, to whom He speaks.  Together in Him, we are the light of the world.  Our world is dark.  Our world is pained.  Our world is putrid.  Get it straight.  This world is full of shadows.  It is wrong because it is disconnected from the light.  Jesus came and spoke to the world to change to a different way of thinking.  He spoke for this world to think light not dark.  When we connect with Him we connect with a message of light.  Together, the body of Christ, is meant to shine a light on problems.  It is meant to shine solutions for our metro.  This city to which we are attached is full of solutions for others to see and grasp and join.

Of course, you may pay a high price.  Businesses and government and education are afraid of Christianity.  They have been put in fearful positions by those opposed, who have sought limitation in the name of liberation.  Choices have to be made.  Promotions will be lost.  Contracts will not close.  There are costs to being affiliated with Christ.  Do it.  Pay the price.  Carry your cross.  Better to shine a light in a dark world knowing some will be blessed and released from pain than to hide it under fear and intimidation and leave others to suffer knowingly.

ACT! Shine a light.  It is so easy to not be like Christ.  It is so easy to skip praying over a meal in public.  It is so easy to just not mention your friends and relationships in Christ.  When conversation at lunch turns to others talking about movies and shows and new homes and kids in school, how do you talk?  Are you free to mention your friends in Christ?  Are you open to talk about a great sermon you heard or a meaningful worship service that stirred your soul? Can you mention the peace you have in personal relationship?  Do you have the courage?  Are you willing to be seen connected to the city on the hill?

PRAY! Padre Precioso, Precious Father, I am committed to join the city and be known as joined to the city.  It is risky.  It is risky to be known.  Even according to Your word, it can bring persecution.  It can bring misunderstanding.  It can bring dissension.  But, Father, I am committed to be known by Your name.  Let me not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls us to live as light in a dark world.  Let me not be ashamed of the name of Jesus.  Let me not be ashamed.  Let not my enemies of my world, my flesh, and the devil triumph over me.

God Cannot Fill A Full Barn: Enjoy His Grace

Photo: for the fatherless- 25 pastors from across the city and across cultures and denominations joined to pray with one heart and one mind

25+ pastors from across the city, denominations, and cultures gathered to pray

Working with a benevolent group, they adopted a philosophy of full grace giving. Over the years, a few had been serving a few. 1500 meals a month were being distributed. And food went to waste. What would happen if we emptied the pantry every time we opened the door? Would there be enough for tomorrow?

With the approach and idea that God cannot fill a full barn, the adventure begain. Within three years of making the decision to give all that was given every time we opened the door, the team expanded to 50 people from a few, services were given six days a week instead of one, a full mission location in the heart of the urban population was opened instead of a piece of a church foyer, 20,000 meals a month were served instead of 1500, and 650 families came a week instead of 20-30. All the supply came when grace was given.

Prevenient grace is a concept that there is a certain free availability of strength to be who we are. In His mercy and love for us, God allows us to live mostly unhindered in this world. We certainly do not deserve such a beautiful and majestic existence, but He grants it in hope we would respond and join Him fully. God has given us a wonderful opportunity to enter fully into His family and receive of Him while we continue in our mistakes.

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

Relational grace communicates that God blesses our world on behalf of those that are united with Him. His family serves Him and serves each other. Those that call out to Him repentant of their mistakes and accepting of His sacrifice and suffering in Christ provide a sort of a bubble around us. Because of them, He withholds an enormous amount of pain and suffering. Wars and famines and disasters are withheld. Surely there are enough that break through as a result of our rebellions. Yet, much more protection is afforded our world than we ever realize.

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Accepted grace is the most blessed of all. Accepted grace belongs only to those that enter fully into His blessings in Christ Jesus. Through His blood, we are provided a fullness of grace. His eternal life enters us now and forever. His favor enables us. His peace sustains us. His comfort meets us in times of need. His Spirit guides us and shows us paths of blessing. This world still surrounds us. And He rescues us and blesses us.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

Enjoy His grace. Enjoy all forms of His grace

Distributed grace is our opportunity. In the hands and hearts of every believer in Jesus is the opportunity to be givers of grace. In our hands is multiplied blessing. When we give it, God gives us more to be given that He might give us more. It is a principle of living. When we give, we receive.

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

That philosophy and principle of living permeates PrayerMetro and all of the expressions in prayer and Christian unity and fathering and leadership. Mostly it is just grace received given out. Let not our barns remain full. God cannot fill a full barn. Enjoy His grace in the giving.

  • This week at Tulakes (NW OKC) and Epperly Heights (Del City), we opened the doors for Watch D.O.G.S. in the schools so that children might get a vision of dedicated and faithful and healthy men.
  • This week DADSUniversity went forward another week at Eagles’ Crest in West OKC.
  • This week at the Jesus House, we were honored again through prayer and teaching as chaplaincy to the leadership team that serves so many. Downtown.
  • This week many pastors received personal and private prayer and compassion. All over.
  • This week a group of ministers from across our city gathered in Spirit-led prayer to bless our metro on Wednesday at First Lutheran. Downtown.
  • This week a precious touch of God’s love descended at Tabernaculo De Fe during a time of sharing and prayer. South OKC.
  • This week our golf tourney for the Fall was planned and launched.
  • This week thousands of blessings were sent out and many legislators responded with thanks. Nationwide.
  • This week a sharing of word and prayer and worship with the family at Tabitha was sweet. East OKC
  • This week the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assualt met and planned and received me as the Chair. South OKC

And surely, I lived in His grace in all these settings while working a few small contract assignments as God performed great acts of grace.

2 Corinthians 1:12] For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

There is no way my barn is big enough to be able to be in all these places and perform such a variety of acts as group meetings, leading a ministers’ prayer time, ministering in a Latino congregation, ministering in a mission leaders group, ministering over the phone with ministers and email with legislators, writing business articles, advising in marketing for businesses, planning and organizing a golf tournament, fixing bathtubs and house vents, cutting grass, and just being a dad and husband. My barn must be emptied daily that God might fill it again and again. Your life is the same. Life is limitless as long as you are willing to live in grace and give it all away every day.

Prayer: Father, bring great blessing of grace over my friend. Show Your grace is given most when we give the most. Show how huge You are. Bring supply and bring outlets. Let us live in grace.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

www.championfatherstourney.org Be a giver. Have some fun. Support kids and fathers.

Meet Jesus: Ill Will Matthew 5:11

9385_554298617946432_1309700350_n (2)Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, … 11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

 Reviled, persecuted, falsely accused, and discussed with cussedness is the condition of a follower of Jesus.  Now, that was His condition.  And, now, that is our condition.  It is a strange communion with Christ that we desire.  We want to be like Him in every way except this one.  Sure, we would like to be gracious and kind and merciful and full of miracles.  But, do we want the accompaniment?   Jesus was conditioned to being treated this way every place He went.  Are we?

During the televangelist season of failure in the 1980s, a co-worker approached me on break.  This had been a hard time as many personal failures of Christian leaders were in the media and being talked about in congregations.  Jimmy Swaggart was one of those in the news regularly.  This co-worker made a crude comment about the minister and the accusations in the papers.  True or not, I had no idea.  My retort was to encourage them to find truth before repeating the news lest they find themselves against God.  Even if it was true, why would they wish ill will to the man?  Over years, he had been used of God to bless many.  Now there was a reported failure.  Wouldn’t we want him to be restored?  Wouldn’t we want him to enjoy family for the remaining years of life?  Wouldn’t we want repentance and continued good works?  The co-worker really wasn’t attacking Jimmy Swaggart.  They were attacking the cause of Christ and possible hypocrisy.  That is a dangerous game to play.  Who wants to be one to accuse Christ of inconsistency?

ACT!  Have you ever verbally wished ill will to another Christian?  Did you do it out of envy?  Have you ever heard someone else do this?  Did you participate by listening?  The next time you hear an accusation against a brother or sister in Christ, rise to their defense.  Bless them in your prayers and bless them in the hearing of others.  Don’t entertain the ill will.

PRAY!   Father, this kingdom of heaven is a strange life.  We find ourselves continually beset with accusations when we do good and needing to bless others in the same.  In the kingdom, we are joined in Christ to the same body.  In the kingdom, what affects one affects the other.  Teach us to be blessors, especially when others in Christ are attacked.  Teach us to turn what the enemy means for ill will into something of blessing.  Teach us to walk in the kingdom.

If we can pray for you regarding anything in your life, please let us know.  Our greatest blessing is to bless others in prayer. .  www.prayermetro.com   Phil@shepherdok.com

Meet Jesus: The Walk of Persecution Matthew 5:10

meetjesushealerMatthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, … 10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Walk: To walk with Jesus links us with persecution and suffering.  His walk on earth was full of many sorrows.  Some of those were the normal sorrows all of us endure such as loss of family members, friends being sick and just normal stuff.  Some of those sorrows were persecutions from friends and trusted people and strangers.  One of His greatest persecutors was the religious leaders of the day.  These were men dedicated to God.  These were men, whom the Father worked with daily to grow understanding.  These should have been friends of Jesus and the message He brought.  His message was a fulfillment of thousands of years of promises.  These very people turned on the God they worshipped and persecuted Him.  We are joined to that persecution when we are joined to Him.

Brian’s Exchange: The exchange was painful.  Brian had worked for this company for four years.  He had put in countless weekends and nights.  Calls came at all hours of the day.  Last year, his direct reporting structure had changed.  This new vice president was different.  During his annual review, Brian had gotten two messages.  1. Prayer has no place at work.  2.  You need to be less involved outside of work.  The company doesn’t like it.

Why a Problem Now?  This had never been a problem before.  For years he had been active in the faith community as a volunteer.  Now, his personal life was being attacked by his work management.  There was nothing active at the work place other than visiting with folks over break and lunch.  The attack was devastating.  He really had no experience to compare with this.  The hardest part was that the organization purported to the public to be linked to a large Southern denomination.  To the employees behind the scenes it was something different.

ACT!  How do you return blessing for cursing when you are persecuted?  Scripture tells us to bless those that persecute us.  Have you ever been in the situation of real persecution for your faith?  Think of a way to bless those that persecute you for your faith.

PRAY!   Father, persecution from anyone is hard.  Persecution from those from whom we expect blessing is super hard.  How do we survive?  How do we handle it?  How do we continue in good works even in the middle of the mess?  Teach us, Father.  Show us the path of Christ.  Show us how to reach out and continue to spread the gospel when the environment is hard.  Teach us to pray and bless over those that persecute that they might get connected with Christ themselves.  Help those that persecute us to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened.  Help them to see.  Help them to engage love in all they do.  Bless them abundantly.

 

Meet Jesus: Peacemaker Matthew 5:9

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 9: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 

Peace is tough to produce. In a world of accusations and self seeking, most want to know quickly, “What’s in it for me?”. That rarely leads to peace. But, we can have peace both inside and out. It takes work.

Nothing soothes the soul like peace. One who makes peace is always welcome. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He will keep you in perfect peace if you stay your mind on him. With prayer, you can ensure your heart and mind are guarded by peace. He is a Shepherd of still waters and quiet resting places. He is peace. These are all promises. And they take work.

Following Him in the peacemaking business will grant you “child of God” status. Hmmmm.. Others are impressed, when you lead to peace what is a troubled situation. Others are impacted when you take a conflict and bring it to resolution. Peace or conflict affects so many people around you that everyone notices the peacemaker. They like to be treated with a peacemaking mentality. People just love it. They will call you a child of God, they love it so much.

The normal way of making peace in organizations is to eliminate one of the parties. Now that is not conflict resolution. Neither is separating them a resolution. That is not peace but tolerance for war and selfishness. Real peace brings the parties together. That is a tougher way of resolution, but the best.

At first peace must be found internally. Our own angsts have to be quiesced. When we are struggling inside, it can be impossible to be at peace with others. The pain just keeps erupting into conversations and communications.

A friend walked into a hectic computer facility some years ago. As he recounts the story, another worker looked straight at him and commented on his peaceful attitude. He laughed. He had felt anything but peaceful. Problems had been growing in number and impact on the company. The constant push and pull had wearied him. Yet, the other person saw was peace. Yes, he had helped many others resolve conflicts. Yes, he tried to put it all on God instead of carrying it. It just made him laugh to think that they saw peace and he felt turmoil. The work of peace in him and on him from the Father amazed him. It was impacting others and he did not realize that fact.
No slick answers here. Just a reminder that peace is work the work. There are promises from the Prince of Peace that He can make it work in you and out of you. Let Him. Work on it.

ACT! Do you make peace with yourself? Do you make peace with others? Do you make peace for others? Think about a situation with strain exists. Don’t pick a conflict, just a strained issue. Take time to speak some encouragement and confidence to the other person before conflict develops.

PRAY! Father, my heart wants to live like You. Being Your child is all I want. Help me follow the paths of peace to be called a child of God. Embrace my heart with peace from the Lord of Peace. Collapse my self-made bubbles and pride with peace in the midst of self-created conflicts. Show me a strain so I can apply the balm of Gilead in peace and encouragement. Peacemakers have smoother days. Let me have it.

Meet Jesus: Influencer Matthew 4:25

meetjesusinfluencerMatthew 4: 25: And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan

Today’s writers, students, and speakers on influence will tell you to work on your immediate circle of people.  From that, your circle will begin to grow.  Jesus’ circle moved with lightning speed.  In short time people were coming from miles away in every direction.  North, East, South, and West they came.  From outside Israel they came.  From inside Israel they came.  They came by foot mostly.  They crossed rivers.  They came.

Babs really did not know what to think of this day.  She started out at the coffee shop and met a pastor, who wanted to know what she thought about the recent changes in city government.  Then she bumped into a woman from a sister congregation that asked her to tell her friends about an upcoming seminar.  Later, some business associates asked her to join them for a round of golf.  The same day, the waitress at the restaurant just opened up and began to tell her about her needs at home and her stress in her marriage.  All of this seemed too much like a God day.  How interesting that He could give acceptance and influence among so many types of people.

ACT!  What boundary of thought will you cross today to meet Jesus?  Do it!

PRAY!  Father, people are willing to cross any boundary to get to Jesus.  His influence moves quickly when we expose Him and His love and His power.  Help me to show Jesus to my circle of friends today so that others will come.  Help me to just stretch out to those around me so that others will cross boundaries to get to the Jesus I have to offer them.