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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 . . . 😉

 

 

 

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Day 39: Please Pray, December 30, 2013

I’ve been asking the Lord to give me direction for the coming year. What should 2014 look like? What should our goals be? What does the time line look like? I’ve been asking for very specific areas. Aside from a few personal “nudges”, the Holy Spirit has consistently pointed me back to basics and to some overarching principles to walk and work by:

  1. Our primary and foundational strategy for ministry is prayer. It is our desire for 2014 to be characterized by transformational prayer. This concerns not only our personal prayer practices but also how we train, organize, inform, and inspire our prayer partners. Pray with us that God will grant wisdom, discernment, strength, and power to overcome the enemy–that we might honor Jesus’ name by fulfilling the duties of our ministry wisely and with zeal.
  2. God is in charge of the calendar and the activity of ministry. We have placed July 2014 on the calendar to return to Papua New Guinea. I look at the months on the calendar, the $$ needed and all that must take place and, honestly, I cringe. That cringing is not a faith act, though, it is a fear or flesh actPray that we will have an increased awareness and sense of God’s timing in all that he has ahead for us. Pray that we will have willing and submitted hearts regardless of the specifics of the Call. Pray that we will enthusiastically put our hand on whatever plow the Lord holds out to us and to serve wholeheartedly. Pray that our faith in God’s provision and plan will survive the purifier’s fire.
  3. Our season of building a prayer and provision team will result in praise and glory for God–especially in the faith-stretching and impossible-to-see moments and events. Pray that we will have deep awareness of God’s work in life and ministry. Pray that we will be able to tell His story well, that we will be able, by the power of the Holy Spirit, encourage and inspire his people in their faith. Pray that this season will also be a powerful testimony to the Somau Garia people as they watch and wait for the Word to be made available in their heart language.

As I review what I’ve written here, I’m reminded of the famous words of Sherlock Holmes: “Elementary, my dear Watson.” All these are elementary to true faith and Biblical ministry. Yet it seems like the basics are often the battleground. Please pray with us that as we move toward Papua New Guinea, toward telling the story again and again and again, that we will do that which is most elementary in the Christian life: put a smile on God’s face.

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Day 37: Following Jesus into Rest

Of all the mistakes I’ve made in ministry, I believe one of the most damaging is that of not being purposeful about rest. Rest is far more than a lack of activity, just as peace is far more than a lack of apparent conflict.

Hebrews chapter 4 associates rest with a tender heart which is obedient to the Word of God. That tender, obedient heart is responsive to the voice of God in faith:

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of 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 4:6-13, ESV

Lack of purposeful rest drives me certain directions I dare not go–if I am wise. Lack of purposeful rest points me down the path of disobedience, cauterizing my heart making it scarred, hardened, and senseless. Lack of purposeful rest all to often is driven by a dysfunctional narcissism, a desire to be at the center of things, of somehow having the satisfaction of having accomplished something according to my work. Just as Eve was deceived when the serpent contradicted to clear words of God regarding eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so too many of us are deceived by the notion that we will be “successful” in the Kingdom if we just work a little harder, put in more hours, get involved in everything, never let anything go by the wayside, never let it be said that we weren’t there.

I must strive to rest a godly rest–walking by faith, hearing and responding to his voice, remaining tender and obedient, resting from my work so that His work can be made complete in me. I must follow the example of Jesus.

jesuspraying3

We frequently read of Jesus that he “went to a lonely place to pray” or “he took his disciples aside to rest.” He was purposeful about getting away, having uninterrupted seasons of prayer, of communing with His Father. He chose to rest when he could have been using that time to heal the sick, teach the ignorant, or proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven.

Part of our rest, friends, is that quiet worship where we voluntarily open ourselves to God and allow His word to penetrate, rearrange, and heal. We must be in His word and we must be in a receptive spiritual posture to find rest. All else is a frenetic chasing after the wind, trying to prove something to ourselves or others. All else hardens our hearts, tempting us to place our faith in ourselves and our work rather than in our heavenly Father.

Notice the role the Word of God has in providing genuine, life-transforming rest? I believe that part of the call has given Angela and me to return to Papua New Guinea is to be a catalyst for the heart transformation of many Somau Garia speaking people. Without the Word in their heart language, the possibility of that dwindles. Bible translation aids transformation.

Provide Rest for the Weary
Would you pray with us that I and Angela will learn to rest purposefully and properly? Would you pray with us that we will rest well with a view toward serving well that many Somau Garia will be transformed by the life-giving Word of God? Will you add provision to those prayers and partner with Pioneer Bible Translators in sending us out to Papua New Guinea to finish what was started? Click here to join us in praying. Click here to partner with us in providing for the needs of this ministry.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

Blessings!

 

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Please Pray: December 17, 2013

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It has been a full week since last posting in Please Pray. Yesterday, our oldest daughter, Abigail, turned 16 years old. (How is this possible?) Also yesterday Angela, Josie, and I got up early and drove to Tampa to pick up Samuel, who rode down from Missouri with a friend for Christmas break. For the first time in several months all of our kids slept under one roof (their mother was very happy). And as I read our prayer requests from December 10, I understand my restlessness in the middle of the night last night, and the things that God brought to mind in those quiet hours of early morning.

During this season (40 Days to Getting the Word Out, concluding on New Year’s Eve, 2013) we have been asking you to pray for many, many things. Our idea was to recruit 40 new monthly financial partners, 40 new prayer partners, and 40 one-time donors to help provide for one time expenses. The results have been lackluster, but not without merit.

First, we have seen several new prayer partners join the team. This is important and foundational to transformational ministry. We have added a few financial partners, which is also encouraging. One of the profoundly impactful results, though, stems from prayers offered in response to the requests given last Tuesday, December 10.

  • Ask God for victory over the deceiver who desires only to kill, steal, and destroy.
  • Ask God to empower and thoroughly equip us spiritually to stand in the evil day and to overcome the enemy by our testimony and by the blood of Jesus.
  • Ask God to give us wisdom and boldness to invest ourselves in activities and strategies that will accomplish God’s purposes for this ministry.


This week our heavenly Father has dealt very graciously with us in answering these prayers. At the foundational level, the diabolical kingdom has sought to remove us from the battle by means of deception, discouragement, and diversion from the goal at hand. We have experienced a lot of victory these week on all fronts, being equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to stand against the onslaught. We also believe that God has given us wisdom on next steps and strategies to accomplishing completion of this phase of ministry and getting on the field again. Please continue to pray.

As you pray:

  • Ask God to grant wisdom and clarity in planning the next steps.
  • Ask God to grant influence and voice in telling the story and inspiring others to highly impact an entire people.
  • Ask God to continue to stand us up in the evil day and to prevail.
  • Ask God to protect our Somau Garia co-workers from harm, both physically and spiritually.
  • Thank God for gracious gifts of wisdom and energy.
  • Thank God for allowing our family to be together again for a time.
  • Thank God for providing new prayer partners this week.
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Day 7: Giving Thanks in Trial and Tribulation

It is impossible to know at any given moment how our trials are affecting either us or those who surround us as witnesses of God’s handiwork in our lives. During the first several months that we lived in Uria Village back in 1997, things started going haywire. I had gone from being in the best shape of my adult life to almost no ability to function. I slept 12 to 16 hours a day, was sick all the time, and couldn’t think straight. Angela was pregnant with our daughter, having to care for two little boys (3 years and 18 months, respectively) as well as me. Her heart began to sink under the weight of it all.

Garia Crowd compressed

240 of our closest neighbors were watching the drama unfold. As my health deteriorated and Angela’s soul began to anguish, our friends reached out to us. One evening, one of our closest friends warned us not to worry if we heard unusual noises near the house the next morning. As dawn broke we heard the sound of scores of shuffling feet and the murmurs of dozens of people. Every once in a while we’d hear the words “Papa God” (Father God) or “Bikpela” (Lord) float on the surface of the prayers. Around and around our house they marched, praying, asking God to intervene in our troubles. God had used our trials and tribulation to draw these people to prayer, to desperation for Him to do something extraordinary, to call upon Him for help. In reflection, we are very thankful that the Father would use our difficulties to grow the faith of those to whom we went. In the wake of those prayers came a diagnosis for me (hypothyroidism) and relief for Angela. During all the doctor visits, it was strongly suggested by the doctors that we give birth to our daughter in Australia. We went away for a few months and recovered, enjoyed the holidays, and welcomed our daughter into our family.

two men praying

I’ve been wondering lately whether or not the season we are in is not also meant for the good of others. Even as some of the Somau Garia people responded to a call to pray for us in our most desperate hour, I think God is calling believers to encircle the challenge and trial of building a prayer and provision team, to come alongside in those days when resources are short and needs are big, when our energy is spent and more must take place before we can return to Papua New Guinea. I think God is calling believers to encircle the Somau Garia people in prayer, prayer for God’s protection and provision of the people who have both waited and worked for a few decades now toward the goal of getting the New Testament into their heart language. I think that God is calling believers to encircle the whole team that a history altering transformation might take place among the Somau Garia people, that their gifts and energies might be poured out so that Jesus’ name might be known across all of northern New Guinea, perhaps far beyond the borders of PNG to the uttermost parts.

Join us!
I’m praying that as you read this you might be cut to the quick and decide to join the team. If you’d like to join the provision team, click here to see how your donations can get the Word out to the Somau Garia people. If you’d like to join the prayer team, click here to drop us an email letting us know of your desire to pray with us through this great adventure.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Day 3: Alphabets and Alphabet Makers

Sominak Yuna

Sominak Yuna

I have a friend named Sominak who lives near Uria Village. He is gentle, intelligent, thoughtful. He has a charming way with people and immediately puts children at ease. He is a school teacher, a leader of teachers. When Angela and I first moved to Uria Village in the late 1990’s, Sominak was working with several other teachers to develop reading primers for Somau Garia speaking children. The idea was to develop a whole library of simple story books, introducing letters, vowel sounds, and simple words along the way–richly illustrated so that young minds could connect the images with the words on the page.

Sominak is gifted at taking the 16 letters of the Somau Garia alphabet and making them interesting. He is an artist who did most of the artwork for the primers, so he can draw a lot of fun cartoons on the board. Imagine having a teacher draw an amazing picture on the blackboard and letting you come forward and write the name below the picture. He knows how to draw the best out of people.

Vowels: A, E, I, O, U. Consonants: K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, W, X, Y. These are the elements of written Somau Garia. These letters can be combined to make a story about a snake in the jungle or a man who takes off his arms and legs and head to warm them in the sun (weird) or to write Bible verses like the following, “Yesusue pa kapia xekerina kisamaira wati, nupo tatiwopi kanikina, ‘Tini nonomi weinikitari kouwa. Kakixanari taiyeri nikaku. Xuwe. Xoiteu Waiwai Purotai Wese paiya, muanum nono nikau.’ ” which in our mother tongue reads, “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’ ” Mark 10:14, Somau Garia translation; ESV

While Sominak’s primary role over the years has been literacy, he has given much of himself to the translation of the New Testament into the Somau Garia language. The Gospel According to Mark has been in use since 2007. The remaining 26 books await translation. Men like Sominak await their translation. The Word of God in the language of the heart has the power to transform a people.

Angela and I long to be in Papua New Guinea again soon, working alongside friends like Sominak, getting the Word out to a people needing the power of the gospel at work in their lives.

Will You Join Us?
Now through the end of 2013 we are asking God to raise up 40 new monthly financial partners, 40 new special gifts partners, and 40 new intercessory prayer partners to see the Word of God be available in the mother tongue of the Somau Garia people. If you’d like to partner financially with us in this venture of faith, you can click here to visit our Donate page where you’ll find instructions on how to do so. If you’d like to join the cadre of prayer partners, click here to drop us an email informing us of your commitment.

Thank you for reading this post. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving of yourself to get the Word out to a precious people whom God loves very deeply.

 

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Day 1: Dream Becomes Vision Becomes Reality

Dreams can by misty and formless when they are becoming visions.

Dreams can be misty and formless when they are becoming a vision.

I look back and I see the dreams of yesterday, though mostly formless, possessing enough clarity to bring excitement and motivation to the dreamer. I look in the mirror and I see a very, very clarified dream, energetic and motivational and orderly. I see a vision worth living and dying for. Reflecting on the dream and living in vision, I try to picture the future–how it will all play out, what it will look like when the vision is embraced by others, transformed into something of its own by a community of fellow visioneers.

God’s dream of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language, before the throne worshiping God in gratitude for salvation, gave us our vision of going in response to God’s dream and doing our part to empower one tribe, one people speaking one language to be part of the festive throng. God-willing this vision becomes a reality for a people working and waiting for the New Testament to be available in their language.

The present reality is that the Somau Garia have only the Gospel According to Mark available to them in their mother tongue. Important, but incomplete, this is only the beginning. These dear friends need the Scriptures in their heart language to be able to grow, be transformed, to win the battle over sin and death.

I was talking with someone yesterday about how important it is to our country than men like Martin Luther and John Wycliffe and William Tyndale risked their lives to translate the Word of God into the language of the common people in their respective countries. How different all of our histories would have been had these men been to afraid to risk all to get the Scriptures into the hands of ordinary people.

Today you have a chance to participate in changing the future of an entire people through getting the Word out in their heart language. Would you join us?

How to Partner
If you’d like to be one of forty new monthly financial partners, click here to go to our Donate page. If you have any questions, you can drop Todd an email at towen@shakethegates.org. If you’d like to make a year-end, one-time special gift to help PBT get our family to Papua New Guinea, click here. If you’d like to be one of forty new intercessory prayer partners, click here and we will get you set up.

We are praying for forty new financial partners, forty new intercessors, and forty one-time gifts to help insure that the Somau Garia people will not have to wait any longer than is necessary to have the Word available in their heart language.

Thank you! and Blessings!

 

 

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His Dream, Our Vision

If our dreams are intensely personal, they are also intensely fragile. But whisper a dream and the whisp might snuff it out. Our dreams are choked by the weeds of life: health or sickness, good relationships or bad ones, opportunity or lack, that which we can control and that which we cannot. Our dreams are intensely fragile.

His Dream

His dream–singular, piercing, soul-wrenching, awe-inspiring–is woven with different fabric. His dream evades capture, overcomes obstacle, penetrates enemy territory and liberates the heart of man, freeing it from enslavement to sin and self, offering life and love, even power, in its place. His dream is revealed little by little from the earliest syllables of Genesis through to the end of the Book.

It is John’s uncovering (Apocalypse) of God’s dream that speaks most powerfully to me, revealing ultimate things. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ “

In that day, man in all his variety and uniqueness, will be represented before the throne–praising God for salvation. Not for money or ease or convenience or entertainment. For salvation.

His dream pierces my right to be selfishly indulgent. His dream rips me from my excuses and forces me to consider the 6,877 languages and language groups of the world. His dream fixes my gaze on today’s 209 million people speaking 1,967 languages that do not have adequate access to the Bible in a language that speaks to them. If only His dream allowed me to look at faceless masses representing vast numbers of people–then I could ignore it, overwhelmed by the size of the group–but NO!!! His dream paints familiar faces on the canvas of my mind. This canvas is alive. These faces are tribal people, uttering exotic words in the mountain jungle where they live. They are our friends with whom we’ve had many adventures, joys and sorrows, victories and losses. They are our loved ones with names like Lim and Torenimas and Natika. The are people without the Bible in their heart language. They grow the coffee you drink in the morning and the chocolate you eat at Christmas. They cultivate vanilla which goes in all those wonderful holiday treats. They are people that God dreams of standing around His throne–wearing white robes, clean before his eyes. Their eyes are fixed on the Savior, on the throne, on Him.

Following the Dream

Close friends from Uria Village, Lim Auwi and his family.

Close friends from Uria Village, Lim Auwi and his family.

His dream compels us to do the same, to step forward in promise, eyes fixed on the Lamb that was slain, wavering between falling like a dead man or crying out with the throng, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. . . Here we are, Lord, send us! We will go!”

Ahead is forty days, friends. When you drink your coffee in the morning, think of the Somau Garia people, without the Word in their language. When you eat your Christmas chocolates, dream His dream and see those people gathered around the throne, eyes fixed on Jesus. When you mix up a cake or bake cookies for your loved ones, remember our loved ones on the side of Mt. Somau. When you celebrate family during these remaining forty days, take your buoyant celebration before the throne of God and cry out for the people of God’s dream. As you pour out your love to friends and family over these forty days, remember us, too. Forty new financial partners. Forty new prayer partners. Forty special gifts for getting the Word out to the Somau Garia. Pray. Love. Give. Dream. Envision.

To respond in some tangible way to this challenge, click here to visit Donate page on this website or click here drop us a note at prayer@shakethegates.org and let us know of your prayer commitment.

Blessings!

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What’s in a Dream?

Dreams are intensely personal. They are expressions of our true self. What do we passionately pursue? What gives us that far away, wistful look in our eyes? What causes us to shed tears or to argue or to take risks that to most seem oddly insane? Dreams are intensely personal.

Some sequester dreams in the shadowy places of their lives. Quiet. Unnoticed. Anonymous. Free of mockery and derision. The dreams of these people occupy their quiet moments and resemble hobbies more than life-altering pursuits. These dreams are the books that never quite get written, the dragster that never quite gets built, the guitar that collects dust in the corner.

Others realize that their dreams are bigger than they are. These realize that these dreams are risky ventures, full of blind corners, pitfalls, and dragons. Their quiet moments are nervous affairs spent vacillating between fear and the potential for huge dividends. These people talk a lot about their dreams with their friends and confidantes, but ultimately it remains an exciting possibility, always just over the horizon, the dream that I’m going to get to just as soon as . . .

Then there are those who are not merely dreamers, but visionaries. The dream for them begins in the twilight pre-dawn hours and at mid-day and in the watches of the night. At first these folks closely guard the dream as they birth it, nurture it, allow it to develop. These folks are taken by the transcendent value of the dream and see that the dream reaches far beyond themselves, beyond their personal benefit, beyond even their lifetime. They too recognize blind corners, pitfalls, and dragons. They feel the butterflies. They too talk endlessly about the dream with friends and confidantes. At this point, the dream transforms into something God-sized, powerful, and compelling . . .

The dream becomes a vision. The dream moves beyond friends, beyond personal acquaintances, beyond close community. The dream ceases to be the sole property of the dreamer, the nurturer, the talker, the motivator. It takes on a life of its own and becomes the property of the community, the network, the . . . generation?

Angela and I once had a dream. We dreamed of living cross-culturally, taking the Word to the far reaches, to the remote, the lost, the forgotten of the world. That dream grew beyond the two of us and birthed something far greater than we would ever have imagine. It became a vision that took us across the world and played itself out over a decade of love and hardship and challenge and hard work. We had to shelf that vision for a while and it was relegated to the role of dream for six years.

illuminated bible

Dream has once again become vision–a vision that I think has the potential to capture your imagination and change the course of your life, not just ours. This vision bears an impact that will span generations and impact the future of an entire culture. This vision bears an impact that will change how you think when you eat your breakfast, read your Bible, eat a chocolate bar, drink your coffee. The vision–I don’t think that I’m speaking too boldly–has the potential to impact how you relate to God himself.

Beginning Friday, November 22, we begin a 40 day period of fleshing out the vision, bringing it to life and inviting you to be changed by it, to set in motion an impact that will change a culture for generation upon generation.

Tomorrow I want to share a dream that is worth living and dying for . . . join me here for an exciting first step into the vision.