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Breaking Through the Barriers–Day 7

Breaking Through the Barriers Graphic Day 7

“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God . . .” –1 Thessalonians 1:9

Somau Garia culture is populated by numerous “bush gods” who hold many devotees to this day. Fear reigns supreme in many peoples’ lives. Ask God to break through barriers of old bondanges and allegiances to false gods. Pray that through coming into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus, fear will flee and our friends will walk in freedom and joy.

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Please Pray–May 20, 2014

There is movement in heavenly places, as there has been for some time in regards to making the New Testament accessible to the Somau Garia people of Papua New Guinea. There has been more visible evidence of that movement in our lives lately. Momentum is building and things are starting to move forward at a healthy pace here. It is more important than ever that we bring prayer to bear on this season of ministry–as we ramp up to moving overseas.

Sunrise, first day of the week, Atlantic Ocean, Florida coast, rejoicing in the Lord.

Sunrise, first day of the week, Atlantic Ocean, Florida coast, rejoicing in the Lord.

  • Pray that God will continue to make us aware of churches or groups of people that He wants to join us in this historic opportunity to make the New Testament accessible to the Somau Gare people.
  • Pray that we will exercise wisdom and discernment in knowing how best to convey the blessing, opportunity, and benefit to the Kingdom of God in seeing this through.
  • Pray that there will be no hindrance to getting on the field this year.
  • Thank God for allowing us to see the movement in the heavenly places and to be encouraged by it.
  • Thank God for moving in the hearts of men and women, in churches and families to provide for this vital need.
  • Thank God for showing us the full extent of his love in both the death of Jesus–and his resurrection.
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Prayer Update–April 22, 2014

Prayer Update Website Default Photo

There is so much to sort out in the mind, heart, and spirit when considering the resurrection of Jesus. Without it our faith is futile. Without it we have no hope. Without it we are to be pitied above all men. There are other aspects of His resurrection that are less discussed generally. Try this one on for size:

for God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

In the resurrection of Jesus:

  • we have been given the Spirit
  • we have been empowered
  • we have been equipped to love
  • we are able to control ourselves–living beyond our passions

Furthermore,

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:11-13, ESV)

What must we fear if we have died with him? We have victory over death through Jesus Christ: the sting of death is removed and is not the bitter pill it once was. We are no longer obligated to slavishly obey every whim of our bodies–whether that be lust or gluttony or laziness or gossip or fear or arrogance . . . We are free!

Why share these thoughts in a prayer update?

When I write the words “Pray With Us” I’m inviting you into an activity that marks you as dangerous to entities in heavenly places. The oft quoted passage is appropriate here:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God . . .  (Ephesians 6:12-13, ESV)

Believer, you must understand that Jesus has made a spectacle of these spiritual forces when He walked out of the grave. He rules at the right hand of Almighty God, riding the white horse to victory, treading out the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. We are sent forth in the name, authority, and majesty of Jesus Christ not to kill and destroy and subdue, but to conquer evil in love, purity, and spiritual power.

When you pray in alignment with the Father’s heart, you are wrestling against echelons of evil, arrayed in the whole armor of God, marching to victory.

We together must pray, must call upon the name of the Lord, must leap into the fray in the name of Jesus Christ the Risen One and shake the gates of hell in Jesus’ name!

As you pray,

  • Thank God for imbuing us with the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and death in Jesus’ name.
  • Thank God for His compassion and longsuffering patience with the nations; that He has provided a means for them to come into relationship with Him.
  • Thank God for calling us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Pray specifically for Bible translation efforts in Papua New Guinea:

  • Pray that there will be unity across ethnic boundaries–that Christians of different people groups will work together in Jesus’ name and for his glory.
  • Pray that expatriate missionaries will exercise great wisdom and discernment in serving both Jesus and the peoples of Papua New Guinea–that God’s word will be made accessible to all.
  • Pray that the Father will protect and provide for the teams that are intensely involved in the Bible translation ministry.

Mount your white horses, take up the weapons of your warfare, and fearlessly bring the battle right to the gates of hell!

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Please Pray–March 11, 2014

There are basically two areas that I’d like to suggest for prayer today.

Spring Forward Campaign

First regards our ministry partnerships. As missionaries serving with Pioneer Bible Translators, we compose a budget each year which is reviewed by mission leadership and either approved or not approved by our board of directors. It’s an interactive process that usually sees the initial budget tweaked and streamlined. Faithful stewardship of resources is one of our core values and one reason we appreciate the ongoing accountability of the budgeting process and PBT’s commitment to an annual audit, membership in the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, etc.

spring forward campaign week 1 graphic

Currently, we have pledges that cover about 1/3 of our approved budget. Before we can leave for Papua New Guinea, we must be at or near 100% of our approved budget–so as not to get to Papua New Guinea underfunded, which has many, many negative results. In response to a strong conviction that God wants us on the field in 2014, we began the Spring Forward Campaign, an effort organized to increase our monthly pledges from 1/3 of budgeted needs to 2/3 of budgeted needs within the space of two months. We are asking God to provide the next 1/3 of our budgeted needs by May. Is God calling you to join the prayer and provision team? Click here to drop us a note or click here to visit the donate page.

Somau Garia Translation Committee

One of the major tasks that we had in the early days of our association with the Somau Garia people was training local Somau Garia speakers, most with little formal education, to do the work of Bible translation. Our team is a great picture of the way in which God uses people with all kinds of gifts and talents, in community, to accomplish His purposes. I bring formal training (like translation principles, exegetical skills, etc.) to the table. My Somau Garia brothers bring facility with the language, insiders’ knowledge of the culture, its history, and a great capacity for learning to the table. Each of the people we’ve worked with over the years has given sacrificially to see the translation of the New Testament into their heart language have even the slightest chance to become reality.

Todd and the SG men

Todd with Somau Garia Translators

Pray for God to protect each of these men from the deadly attacks of the enemy. They are threats to the diabolical kingdom and are generating threats to his grip on these people. Pray that their hearts will remain steadfast, that their energy will remain strong, that they will not give way to temptation or to despair as they draft. Pray that God will call them out and empower them for the ministry that He has prepared beforehand for them to walk in.

Thank you for interceding on our behalf. We are grateful for the prayer and provision team that God is assembling to insure that there will be a strong church among the Somau Garia people–whom He made for His glory!

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The Time is Now . . .

When I (Todd) was in Papua New Guinea last September, I spent time with people for whom God has given me a deep love, connection, and calling. He has inscribed them on the pages of my heart in a spiritual ink that will not fade with time and cannot be erased by the distractions or worries of life. As often as I’ve been tempted to turn away from this calling, God brings them to me in dreams, in reading, in off-hand comments made by people who are unwittingly used by God to remind me of this people made before time for God’s glory.

Getting the Word Out Somau Garia Style

Getting the Word Out Somau Garia Style

When I am weary and fearful, God calls me to strength and courage and continually draws me to the place of remembrance. I cannot escape it. He calls me to a mountainside in Papua New Guinea and he floods this theater of the mind with faces etched by the tropical sun, voices of children and grandmothers calling after them, with the musty smell of the jungle in rainy season, with the course feel of calloused hands hardened by day after day of back-breaking labor. He reminds me of the high stakes of this calling by bringing visions of shamans making sacrifice for the recently dead, of faces covered in hot tears streaming down their chins, fear-ridden wailing as another young person has given way to tuberculosis or murder or any number of tragedies. Oh God, do not delay . . . allow us to be with them soon . . .

Treasure . . .

Treasure . . .

Angela and I feel that the Holy Spirit has kicked it up a notch in returning us to Papua New Guinea to finish the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament. The urgency we feel is almost painful and we are noticing that every week we are having more dreams, more tears, more internal pressure to get there this year. The time is definitely now. There is no mistaking it.

We’ve prayed. We’ve talked strategy. We’re looking to God to move mountains to make this happen. In response to all this, we’re prayerfully laying an opportunity before you. We’re calling it the Spring Forward campaign and here’s the idea. We are at about 1/3 of the monthly pledges we need for Pioneer Bible Translators to allow us to return to Papua New Guinea. We are asking God to increase those pledges within the space of the next two months to 2/3 of monthly pledges needed to land us on the field. Here’s how you can participate in this campaign.

spring forward campaign week 1 graphic

First, talk to God about it. Ask Him what He would like you to do to make the completion of the translation of the Somau Garia New Testament possible. Second, if He leads you to join the provision team, visit the “Donate” page by clicking here and decide which kind of donation you’d like to set up. Third, drop us a line to let us know of your intention to support Pioneer Bible Translators so that we can add you to our email updates, prayer updates, etc.

Thank you for prayerfully considering God’s desires for your involvement in this ministry of getting the word made available to the Somau Garia people in their heart language.

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4 Marks of a Praying Person

Ever hear the names James Hudson Taylor or George Mueller? If not, I encourage you to read James Hudson Taylor: A Man in Christ by Roger Steer or  George Muller: Delighted In God (HistoryMakers)  (also by Steer). These men were pioneers in and exemplars of what is known as faith missions. While they would tell the story of China (Taylor) or of Bristol’s orphans (Mueller) they resolved to never ask man for money to support their works: they would appeal to God alone in prayer for their sustenance.

As a Bible college student, their stories captured my imagination and have provided boundaries for my spiritual growth ever since. After reading Taylor’s story, I began thinking and praying on the theme of becoming a praying man rather than a man who simply prays when it is quite convenient. I began to wonder, “What does it mean to be a praying man rather than a man who prays merely from desperation or in a casual, nonchalant way?” Is there a difference?

I believe that there is.

  1. The praying person’s basic orientation is toward God rather than toward earth. Their belief system is rooted in the notion that God can and does respond to prayer and intervene in the affairs of mankind. They place a high value on God’s transcendent purpose over mankind’s schemes.
  2. The praying person is emotionally and spiritually tied to an unobstructed fellowship with and dependence upon God. The person who prays casually likely finds most satisfaction and affirmation elsewhere.
  3. The praying person interprets suffering through the filter of God’s character. The casual pray-er may interpret God’s character through the filter of suffering (How can God be good when he allows me to suffer? for example).
  4. The first priority and strategy of the praying person is prayer. It is often an afterthought to the person who prays more casually. (Well, all we can do now is pray . . . ho hum.)

While spiritual gifting might cause some to be more oriented towards prayer-as-lifestyle than others, we are all called to live a life of prayer and devotion to our Father. Consider the following exhortations from Scripture (ESV):

I Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Mark 1:35: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

Matthew 26:39: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Colossians 4:2: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (NIV reads a little differently and is how I memorized it originally: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”)

It is likely that we are all somewhere on the continuum between being the ideal praying person and the more casual prayer. Don’t settle for a mediocre prayer life. If it is your desire to shake the gates of hell and turn the dying toward Life, rid your life of that which distracts you from hearing God’s voice, turn your eyes above where Jesus sits at the right hand of God, fix your thoughts on Jesus, and give yourself to prayer. Your generation needs men and women of God to be fully His!

 

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What’s a Life Worth To You?

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VyFca-V4cc[/tube]

The Spirit of God continues to draw our hearts across the Pacific to a mountain village on the side of Mount Somau. Please pray for our preparations and, if God be drawing you too, come alongside us as a financial partner . . . Visit the Donate Page to learn how.  Blessings, Friends!

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Please Pray, January 21, 2014

Posted next to my computer monitor is a gentle reminder that prayer is the primary strategy of our ministry. I need this reminder day by day. It is far easier, when I’m not being intentional, to formulate a strategy or initiate a campaign or write another email or letter. It is more humbling to admit that it is God who opens doors, enables connections to be made, who nourishes and protects and advances. Quiet prayer doesn’t stroke my ego so much as furious activity.

I’ve been writing today. I wrote a letter to include in receipts. I wrote an email circular to go out to those who have committed to pray for our ministry. I wrote an article on prayer that is elsewhere on this website. I’ve spent time in prayer over all these matters and I have found myself close to the end of my work day not having written this post. Just as I need a regular reminder to pray, I humbly submit this to you as a gentle reminder to pray . . .

As You Pray:

  • Ask God to grant wisdom and discernment each day. We need God’s gracious hand to be upon our ministry as we continue to build a prayer and provision team to under gird our ministry to the Body of Christ, to the Somau Garia people of Papua New Guinea (Bible translation), and to you.
  • Ask God to open doors that we might have divinely appointed opportunities to raise awareness about what God is doing around the world and that we might inspire some to become involved in missions. Pray also that God might use those appointments to provide financially for our ministry with Pioneer Bible Translators.
  • Ask God to continue to prepare us for a hoped-for return to Papua New Guinea in 2014.
  • Thank God for providing for our needs month-by-month.
  • Thank God for new prayer partners that have joined us recently.
  • Thank God for providing life-changing opportunities for our two oldest children, both sons.

Thank you for partnering with us in prayer! If you’d like to correspond with us you may do so by clicking here. Blessings!

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5 Assurances that We Are Praying According to His Promises

The faith that Abraham had in God’s promises was so great that in the absence of the written Word of God, in the absence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in the absence of the church or a national identity based on fealty to Jehovah, Abraham believed God would do what he said he would do–and it was credited to him, by God, as righteousness. In the previous article entitled Promise and Prayer, I reflected on the faith of Abraham and posed this question: “How can we be confident that we are indeed praying according to His promises and not merely according to our personal aspirations or desires?”

This  question is important to answer because prayer is the context within which our hearts are aligned to God’s heart. While our hearts and minds are informed by the word of God and our faith is worked out in practicing good deeds (rooted in right attitudes), our hearts are find those right attitudes and apply the Truth in the prayer closet. It is in the prayer closet that we confess our sins to God. It is in the prayer closet that we petition Him for a new heart–a heart of flesh instead of stone. It is in the prayer closet where we verbally submit our hopes and dreams, our intentions and desires, to his (as Jesus did at Gethsemane). It is in the prayer closet that we lay aside our personal agendas to take on His agenda for us. It is in the prayer closet that the words of Scripture become the catalysts of our hearts.

I believe that there are at least five components in answering the question, “How can we be confident that we are indeed praying according to His promises and not merely according to our personal aspirations or desires?”

First, we must practice confession of sins and the clearing of our conscience before God. Hebrews 3:12 and following states: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” This is done both privately in the prayer closet and also in community. Elsewhere we are exhorted to “confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed. (James 5:16) If we are to be aligned with the desires of God, we cannot be walking in rebellion and hardness against Him.

Second, closely related to the first but slightly different, don’t put your own agenda ahead of God’s agenda for you. Jesus was wholly honest before His Father has he knelt there in the garden, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He dreaded the hour of is torture and murder, yet knew that God’s desires for him were preeminent. He submitted to the unthinkable to fulfill God’s purpose for his sojourn on earth. We must be very careful when facing difficulty and challenge not to assume that it is God’s will for us to avoid suffering. It is vital that, having confessed and cleared our conscience, that we lay our agendas on the altar before God and give Him the opportunity to choose our destiny. Sometimes we find ourselves in the crucible because He has created us for such times.

Third, keep the Bible before you–test the prayers you pray against the revealed will of God as found in the Scriptures. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13, ESV) As we confess our sins, as we submit our own agenda to His, we also must submit ourselves to the scrutiny of the Scriptures. The Word will sift and penetrate our attitudes, our thoughts and intentions. We must be yielded to the Word. When our heart’s agenda is found to be at odds with the Word, we must repent or change our course of action.

Fourth, do not assume that His promises are fulfilled in keeping with our timing. Abraham waited twenty-five years from the time of the first promise to the time of its fulfillment. Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. Indeed, “. . . with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV) Don’t become discouraged and stop praying because of impatience. Don’t think that He is not answering your prayer because it is slow in coming. He alone has view of all past, present, and future and He alone has the wisdom to coordinate all things for good. If you are confessing your sins as needed, are submitting your agenda to His, are testing yourself with the Word of God (the whole counsel of Scripture–but that is another post 😉 ) then be constant in prayer on whatever matter you are bringing before God.

Finally, and perhaps this goes without saying, don’t assume that every answer is “yes”. There are times when we pray that the answer is clearly “no” and we need to accept that answer from the Lord. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden was “No, this cup will not pass you by . . .” Consider the experience of Paul and company as recorded in Acts 16:7ff (ESV): “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” The Lord did not say “yes” to their good and right desire to take the gospel into Asia and Bithynia because He wanted them to go to Macedonia to preach. He had the plan. They submitted to his plan.

I believe that as each of us applies these basic principles of prayer in our lives, we will be transformed in the secret place and will be real threats to the enemy of our souls. I believe that as we find ourselves walking in faith, in submission, in brokenness, and in humility we will shake the gates of Hell.

 

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Promise and Prayer

abraham stares at the stars

The old man stood in the cool of the night, stargazing as old men of many generations since have done. He turned the words over and over in his mind as he tried to take in the enormity of it all.

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:5-6, ESV, emphasis mine

This wasn’t the first time Abraham had heard this promise. He’d heard the promise before he’d left Haran with his wife and nephew for parts unknown. He was already 75 years old then. He’d heard the promise again when Lot moved off toward the Jordan Valley and he moved further into Canaan. He heard it now and would hear it again before seeing its fulfillment. The promise came this time with prophetic words about his descendants and with an offering.

Abraham had difficulty in “seeing” how God would bring this promise about. Even so, he had no doubt whatsoever that God would do it. Further, he believed that God had power and will to do even the patently impossible to keep his promise.

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  Romans 4:19 – 25, ESV

Both Old and New Testament references to Abraham’s faith connect God’s promise to Abraham with the coming of Messiah. It also connects the quality of his faith to being counted as righteous before God. Faith, in this context, is not merely mental assent to an idea, but a relational posture by which we gain access to God’s promised right to become sons and daughters, born of God (cf. John 1:12-13). Our basic posture toward God is that of functionally believing that God will do what he says. Period. No prevarication. No looking askance at crazy, impossible sounding schemes. We believe Him. And it is counted to us as righteousness.

Abraham-style faith changes how we pray. Paul rightly reminds us that the promise did not come through the law, but through faith “in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring  [that is, you and I if you believe]. . . ” (Romans 4:16)

In prayer, we “confidently draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV) We come looking for grace and mercy to help us in our weakness, knowing that it will be granted us. We come to God in prayer, confessing our sins, trusting that when he said that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” that he will cleanse us. (1 John 1:9) We come to God for wisdom, knowing that He will grant it. We pray for our leaders, for our comrades in the Kingdom, for victory in the heavenly places, that we will stand in the evil day and overcome the enemy of all that is holy. Our prayer life changes when our faith functions not only in the mind (mere lip service?) but in the hands and the feet (obedient action).

When we act on the belief that God has the power to do things in any situation, especially that we cannot even imagine, when all looks impossible or lost, we pray differently. We pray according to God’s character, not ours. We pray according to God’s ability, not ours. We pray according to God’s promise, not according merely to our intentions. We pray for transformation, not just to make it through. We climb out of our natural selves, with all its limitations and we dare to pray prayers that can only be fulfilled in the supernatural. We pray so that God alone, by His mighty power, gains glory for himself while we fade into the background. We pray in such a way that He increases and we decrease. Our prayer life becomes a genuine testament to Jesus’ life (at work in and through us).

If you want to pray prayers that transform first you and then those for whom you pray, adopt a posture of functional belief that God does what he says he will do and then act accordingly.

How can we be confident that we are indeed praying according to His promises and not merely according to our personal aspirations or desires? I will address this question in the next post . . . 😉