Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Prayers This Week

It seems like I have a lot more things to praise God about this week than to pray for.  Let me start there.  Here's what I'm praising God for :
  • I just came off a fantastic trip to PA.  The team that came with me was awesome and we connected and worked on some God-ideas while spending long hours in the van.  We also saw God move greatly as we served at 3 of our network churches on Saturday & Sunday
  • I am on Day 21 of a 21-day fast.  I cannot describe to you how much my faith has grown and how much the voice of worry has diminished.  God is truly answering my prayers to have bigger faith.  Of course, I'm not even close to done praying those prayers.
  • There are several key components to our church that are taking shape right now.  Some of them are corporate prayer time, youth ministry, membership process & and a new, more inclusive, small group structure. I'm very excited about that and about some new leaders I think God is in the process of promoting right now.  
Some prayers I'm praying this week:
  • We have a lady in our church who has a very sick mom in South Carolina.  She is praying she could find a way to visit her soon.  She told me she needs about $500 to make the trip.  I'm just praying with her that God provides the money.  Can you join me?
  • I'm praying for a couple families that have visited our church lately who liked it very much.  I'm asking God for them to join us and get involved.  They are great people who have a lot to offer God's Kingdom.
  • Would you join me in praying over my prayer circles again for 2012.  I pray over these daily, but would like to ask you to join me, from time to time.  You can view them here.
  • Like I said above, we are working on a bunch of ideas to bring the water-level up at our church.  Can you pray with me for great wisdom and guidance as we go about implementing them over the next few months.  
I love you guys and hope you're having a fantastic week so far.  Please let me know if I can pray for you about anything this week.  I'd love to.

Day 21 - What's Your Assignment?

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 15

"A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future
than he can eat enough today to last him for the next six
months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at once to
sustain life for a week to come. We must draw upon God’s
boundless stores of grace from day to day, as we need it."
—D. L. Moody

Prayer Focus: Are there areas of your life that need more clarity? Are you
walking in the power of the Spirit and living in God’s purpose for your life?
Write down those things God is speaking to you. As you conclude your fast,
pray that God continually reveals His purpose and gives you ever-increasing
clarity and strength to walk it out.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 18 of 21 - Pray Instead

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 13

Prayer Focus: what consistently causes you to worry? Today, recapture each worried thought and send it to God as a prayer. See how dramatically your outlook improves when the peace of God is activated through prayer.

Also see Philippians 4:6-7

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 17 of 21 - Humility

Scripture: Proverbs 2

"being humble before God is realizing our need of Him, submitting to His will, pursuing Him and being confident the outcome will occur in God's perfect timing."

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 16 of 21 - Take Off the Grave Clothes

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 12

"Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God
for men is greater still." —E. M. Bounds

Prayer Focus: Who in your world is still walking around in grave clothes?
Think about friends and family or those you know who may not know God.
What part has God called you to play in the life change He wants to bring

Download your own Awakening Devotional here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Look how fasting and prayer is working in her life!

From Phebe Duncan, who lives in Tulsa.

"I can tell you that in the last 8days God has REALLY opened my eyes to the authority he has delegated to me.  I have learned a new way to combat the enemy and I am LOVING this new 'power through Christ' woman I am becoming. I can't even begin to explain the things that have just jumped out at me in the scripture concerning my authority! God is so good!!!  I hope everyone else is finding the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional breakthroughs that they are seeking! . . .  I wish more Christians would step up into the authority God has delegated to them through Christ. The freedom found in that authority and power is amazing!  Oh, something else I discovered, it seems I am a little behind in this realization but, the Armor of God...everything is for defense against satan and his attacks, except for the Sword of the Spirit, it is for offense, to attack, it is an active weapon.  I am guilty of being the Christian that puts up all the defensive elements but I was never one on the attack. Now satan can bet that I am coming after him! He doesn't stand a chance!  Anyway, this fast has been amazing! God is so awesome!"

Remember, you still can download the 21-Day Awakening devotional for free right here.

Some prayers YOU can pray with me

Got a busy week ahead that is filled with opportunities and could use your prayers
  • Trip this week - I'm leaving Tulsa Thursday evening with 4 others from our church to spend the weekend in PA.  I'll be preaching at Freedom Valley in Gettysburg, reconnecting with some of our other network pastors and our team will get to serve at some of our other network churches.  I'm asking God for a quick and safe trip free of ANY poor weather, for our team to build bonds that will go far in building God's Kingdom, lives to be changed in all the churches we get to serve in and for the trip to be blessed financially.  Also asking God to bless our church in Tulsa with a great day with strong attendance and the Holy Spirit moving!
  • New Church Launching this Sunday - Cross Culture Church in Owasso, OK is launching this Sunday.  They are not a church we planted, but Pastor Jamie Varnell and his team have become good friends.  We are sending a couple people from our church in Tulsa up there to serve with them during their launch service.  If you know someone in their area, tell them about this great new church that's starting this Sunday.  
  • 21 Days to Move Mountains - We're in Day 15 of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  I'm asking God to move mountains in my life, the lives of the people in our church and our city.  He can do it and He is doing it!

This Week @ Freedom Valley

Really good stuff happening this week.  Here's some highlights:

  • Prayer Meeting Tonight (1/25) - Come out and spend an hour with your church family praying for God to move those mountains in your life and our city that only He can move.  7-8pm.  Childcare is provided for kids up through 5 years old.  Kids six and up are very welcome to pray with us.  It's such a great experience for them to have, even if they seem to be bored or unengaged.  Hope to see you tonight.
  • If I . . . finishes up this weekend. This Sunday we will conclude the "If I . . . series.  We're talking about what the Bible says about the things in our life that we see as limiters to our dreams and vision.  This week, "If I . . . Could change THEM".
  • 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting continues.  Today is day 15 of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  Even if you have not been fasting and praying yet, it's not too late to begin.  I'm hearing great stories of what God is doing in your lives.  I would love to hear yours.  Reply to this email and tell me what God is doing in your life as you create space for Him through prayer and fasting.  If you would benefit from our free 21-Day Awakening Devotional Guide, you can download it right here.
I'm praying that YOU have a great week.  Also hoping to see you tonight and Sunday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 14 of 21 - Alignment with Heaven

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 10

"The purest motivation for our prayers is that God will be glorified and that His will would reign supreme in our lives, just as it does in heaven." - Stovall Weems

Prayer Focus: What does God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” look like
in your life? Do the desires of your heart line up with the will of God? As we
seek God together, let’s pray as Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come, Thy
will be done.”

Your own copy of the Awakening 21-Day Devotional Guide is right here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 13 of 21 - Cultivating Spiritual Hunger

Bible Reading Plan: Psalms 6–7

"Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution
that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves, to
attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.… Prayer is the
reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting the letting go of
all that is of the seen and temporal." —Andrew Murray

Prayer Focus: During this time, you will find that being still before the
Lord will set you in a place of increased strength, peace, and hunger for God.
Are you disconnected from things that nourish your body and soul? What
do you need to deny yourself to make this a powerful time in your life?

Here's your free 21-Day Awakening Devotional Guide.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 12 of 21 - Praying Boldly

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 9

"Fasting is not an end in itself; it is a means by which we can
worship the Lord and submit ourselves in humility to Him.
We don’t make God love us any more than He already does
if we fast, or if we fast longer.… [Fasting] invites God into
the problem. Then in the strength of God, victory is
possible. "—Elmer L. Towns

Prayer Focus: Do you approach God with timidity or confidence? Seek
God boldly today knowing you are fully forgiven and Jesus has made you
righteous. When you approach God in prayer, seek a fresh revelation of who
He is in your life.

Get your own 21-Day Awakening Devotional Guide here.

Day 11 of 21 - Prayer & the Process

"Prayer is not just about the answer; it’s also about glorifying God in the process of waiting for the answer." - Stovall Weems

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 8

Prayer Focus: What prayers of yours are still awaiting an answer? Throughout this fast, thank God for His process at work in you…and trust Him.

Your Awakening Devotional Guide is right here for free.  Please make use of this incredible resource. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 10 of 21 - Unwavering Faith

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 7

Prayer Focus: What are you trusting God for in this season? How can you
line up your expectations with the Word of God when you pray? Find promises
in His Word that answer your need and write them down today.

There is no way that Christians in a private capacity can
do so much to promote the work of God and advance the
kingdom of Christ as by prayer. —Jonathan Edwards

When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations
can do; when we depend upon education, we get
what education can do; when we depend upon man, we
get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer,
we get what God can do. —A. C. Dixon

Get your own 21-Day Awakening Devotional Guide right here.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 9 of 21 - Clean House

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 6

Prayer Focus: As you pray and fast today, ask God to show you any areas
where you could use a refreshed spiritual focus. Pray as David did in Psalm
51:10–12 that God will cleanse your heart, renew your spirit, and restore the
joy of your salvation. Pray with confidence, knowing that He wants to fill
you with His life and peace.

If you have not yet, I really encourage you to go and get your own copy of the 21-Day Awakening Devotional Guide.  It keeps getting better everyday.  It's right here for free.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Look what's going on @ Freedom Valley

Just wanted to take a minute to let you know what's happening this week:
  • Praise & Worship Night - It's tonight from 7-8pm.  Come spend an hour praising and worshiping God.  I know many of you are praying and fasting for specific breakthrough in your life.  Tonight's worship night could be when that breakthrough happens.  Childcare is provided for kids up through 5 years.  Children 6 and up will worship with you in the sanctuary and are very welcome.
  • 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting Continues - Today is Day 8 of 21, but it's not too late for you to begin praying and fasting with us.  I know, by now, God has been moving in some of your lives.  Could you email me your stories?  I want to know what God's doing in your life and want to celebrate with you!  If you still need a copy of the 21 Day Awakening Devotional Guide, you can download it free at our website, right here.
  • If I . . . could change the past - This Sunday continues our "If I . . ." series.  We're talking about the things that limit our vision and dreams for the future and what the Bible says about them.  This week, we tackle the limiter, If I . . . could change the past.  I can't wait to help some of you get free from that guilt and shame you feel about your past.  It's this Sunday.  I hope you'll join me.
Love you guys.  I'm praying today that you have a great and powerful week.  See you tonight & Sunday.

Pastor Jason

Day 8 of 21 - Hear Him

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 5

Prayer Focus: How does understanding the New Covenant of grace
change the focus of your fast? As you pray and seek after God, let His be the
loudest voice you hear.

"If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me,
for if I were in it I should say, “I am sure I am here by
mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to
it.” But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk
into heaven with boldness." —Charles H. Spurgeon

Download your Awakening Devotional Guide right here!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Have you ever been a little embarrassed about "walking by faith"?

This one is a little longer than usual, because I want to explain a little background first.  

As you know, last year I took a job at St. Francis Hospital.  I worked there for 5 months and I really disliked the job - no secret there.  But over the last month or so at that job, I was wrestling with leaving.  I felt like God wanted me to leave.  Some mentors of mine encouraged me to leave and some of you who were praying with me on that shared with me that you thought you were hearing God say that it was time for me to leave.  

Well, the point of leaving was to live by faith.  In fact, one person who is very dear to me, spoke so boldly as to say, "You ought to leave that job and show your church what it means to walk by faith."  I think he was right.  But I only did half of that.  I left the job.  I did not walk by faith.  I freaked out.  And that freaking out, along with some unrealistic expectations I was holding onto brought me to my little breakdown you all had the opportunity to pray me through last year.  Thanks, again for that, by the way.

It was at my lowest point, that I was open to God re-teaching me what my real expectations ought to be and who the source of everything is.  So, it brings me to today.  I am living by faith and God has provided all I need, to date.  So, I wrote all that to lead to what I'm asking you to pray with me about today.  Even though I am no longer fixated on my needs and how God will provide and I'm truly enjoying seeing Him as my source, I am still embarrassed to tell other people that.

If I was looking at my life from someone else's perspective, I would tell me it would be a good time to go and get a job.  Even looking in the mirror, I feel like I ought to look for some income somewhere.  But the more time I spend praying about that and God meeting my needs, the more I feel Him saying to just stay on this course pastoring this church and He will take care of all my needs.  I have no problem with that. I have a problem with how that looks and sounds to you . . . or whomever I talk to.  It comes up, fairly often, that I have no sure source of income.  And as much as I know I'm following God's lead on this, I still feel sheepish admitting that because I feel like it looks irresponsible to others.  

So, the prayer I'm asking you to pray is not that God provides for my needs.  I think that's a foregone conclusion.  I asking that I would be able to get above feeling self-conscious about finally modeling what it means to walk by faith and be able to feel passionate, not sheepish, when those conversations come up.  I know this sounds kind of strange and maybe even trivial to you, but it's been a big deal to me over the last few weeks. 

That's it.  Thanks for your prayers.  I love you guys and would love pray for you this week.  Let me know what you're believing for and I'll add it to my prayer list this week.

Day 7 of 21 - Fervent Prayer

Bible Reading Plan: Psalms 3–5

Prayer Focus: As you close out this first week, continue to pray fervently
for the main areas of concern in your life. Trust God to bring an answer as
you journal your thoughts and inspirations through this time.

You can download your own Awakening Devotional Guide right here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 6 of 21 - The Spirit is Willing . . .

Bible Reading Plan: Proverbs 1

Prayer Focus: Are there areas in your life causing an internal struggle?
Make a decision today to yield to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength,
not your own, to overcome obstacles of sin and selfishness in your life. Surrender
and release those areas to God, knowing He will help you.

"[Prayer] turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It
brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life.
It brings God." —Samuel Chadwick

Make sure you go to our website and download your own Awakening Devotional Guide.  It's right here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 5 of 21 - When Grace Comes Down

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 4

Prayer Focus: Have you been looking at God through the veil of legalism
and religion? In Jesus, we see the full revelation of the nature of God: His love
and holiness, mercy and justice, compassion and power all perfectly and
beautifully expressed. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see God through
the eyes of grace and truth given to us in Jesus Christ.

You can download your own Awakening Devotional Guide right here for free.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 4 of 21 - Agreement with God

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 3

Prayer Focus: Pray today that you can walk in agreement with God and
enjoy the life He desires you to have in Christ.

"I believe firmly, that the moment our hearts are emptied
of pride and selfishness and ambition and self seeking, and
everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Ghost
will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are
full of pride and conceit, and ambition and self seeking, and
pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of
God; and I believe many a man is praying to God to fill
him when he is full already with something else. Before we
pray that God would fill us, I believe we ought to pray
Him to empty us." —D. L. Moody

You can download your own Awakening Devotional guide right here.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 3 of 21 - Fasting Removes Unbelief

Bible Reading Plan: Luke 2

Prayer Focus: What do you need faith to believe for? Align yourself with God’s Word and will during this fast. Release your unbelief. Pray with confidence, knowing “nothing will be impossible” for you.

You can download your own Awakening Devotional Guide right here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If I . . . could see the future

All of us are tempted, from time to time, with some kind of device to know the future, (fortune teller, medium, witch, time machine, etc) because if you knew the future, you could bet strategically on today, right?
But what if it's turned around? What if there was a way to define the future and cause it to happen? What if there was a way to imagine what could happen, and cause it to happen!? And maybe the only way to improve on that plan would be to have someone look over your shoulder and make sure you don't ask for things that are bad or self destructive. Ephesians 3 implies that maybe there is a way, and teaches us this way, to define the future and make it happen... 
That's the idea we will unpack this Sunday at Freedom Valley.  In the meantime, enjoy one of my all-time favorite video clips . . .

Day 2 of 21 - Tune In

Bible Reading: Luke 1

Prayer Focus: In this time of fasting, what is your mind tuned to? What
distractions do you need to remove so that you can focus on God? Prepare
your heart to hear the voice of God, and ask Him to help you remove distractions
that keep you from focusing on Him and hearing His voice clearly.

You can download you own 21-Day Prayer and Fasting Guide right here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How we can pray together this week . . .

I'm beginning my 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting today, as I know many of you are too.  I can't tell you how excited I am for this.  I've never felt this way about a season of intentionally seeking God before!  Some areas you can pray with me this week:
  • Please pray with me for breakthroughs and healing for many people in our church during this 21-day season. 
  • Please continue with me praying circles around those prayer goals I mentioned to you last week.  
  • Please pray that God will speak to many people tonight at our prayer meeting at church.
  • This Sunday is Friends Day at Freedom Valley.  Please pray for great favor on each person who is inviting friends, family and neighbors to church this Sunday. Also, please pray that many of those guests are deeply touched by God's Spirit, get saved and eventually find their place to serve in His church.
Thank you so much for your prayers and partnership!

Day 1 of 21 - Turning our hearts toward God

Bible Reading Plan: Psalms 1–2

Prayer Focus: As we begin this time of prayer and fasting, let’s turn our hearts toward God. Make a commitment to seek Him daily. Pray that your love for Christ will be increased and your passion for Him will be reignited over the next twenty-one days.

You can download your own 21-Day Prayer and Fasting Guide right here.  

Why is our Church Fasting Together Publicly?

Today, our church begins 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  I'm very excited about it and so are many in our church.  Last night I received an email from a great brother in our church asking why we're doing a public, corporate fast as opposed to fasting quietly and personally - especially in light of Jesus' teaching on fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. That is an excellent question and one that, I would guess, some others would have too.  Here's what I wrote back to him, in part.

The reason I  find value in a corporate fast is how it tends to draw a group of people together who share in a common experience.  It also helps some people who would not feel "spiritual" enough to fast on their own to give the discipline a try.  There is also strength and unity in numbers as we all share the same experience through praying and fasting together.

The scripture you mentioned (Matthew 6:16-18) is a really important one.  It's one, I believe, that addresses where our hearts and intentions lie, when we fast.  Jesus was urging his disciples to not operate like some people of their day who drew attention to themselves during fasting so that people would view them as spiritual giants.  The did all the things Jesus mentioned in the scripture so people would believe that they were sacrificing so very much for their deep love for God.  Well, Jesus called them hypocrites because the only reason they were fasting was to draw that attention to themselves.  

I believe that scripture instructs us to not follow that pattern of drawing that type of attention to ourselves for those reasons.  I don't see, however, that it discourages corporate fasting.  Corporate fasting is found throughout the bible.  Some scriptures where it can be found are 1 Samuel 7:5-6, 2 Chronicles 20:3, Ezra 8:21, Neh 9:1, Joel 2:15 and Jonah 3:5.  There are also many examples in the Bible of individual fasts, which I believe are important too.  This one just happens to be corporate.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BIG Prayer Circles for 2012

I hope your new year has begun with a bang. I know mine has. I have a lot to share with you, so I'll get right to it. Here are some things I'm praying about this week.

Rest & rejuvenation for our family – We just returned from an unplanned trip to NY state for the memorial of Sara's grandfather, Harry Holt. It was a great trip and we had a great time, but we are all very worn out. We're just praying for rest, rejuvenation and that God would provide for the finances that trip took.

My Prayer Circles – There are some big-faith prayers I'm praying this year. I am “praying circles” around these issues and I'm asking you to join me as I pray. My prayer circles for 2012 are:
  • I'm asking God for our church income to be no less than $13,000 per month every month in 2012.
  • I'm asking God for all the money our church owes to ARC and CMN to be paid in full by an outside source in 2012.
  • I'm asking God for our first Church Planter in Residence (CPIR) to commit and join our team in 2012.
  • I'm praying that God will completely heal all my spinal issues in 2012.
  • This one is a little tougher to measure, but I'm asking God that I would be known as an easy-going guy in 2012. I'm too tight and I hate how that makes me and other people feel.
  • Finally, I am believing that God will provide at least $2000 per month income for me in 2012 so I can devote all my time and energy to pastoring our church.
Yes, these are all huge prayers. Not one of them will happen unless they are truly answered prayers, but, I am not going to insult my BIG God any longer with small prayers. You know, I don't know if God will answer these prayers. But I know He can. I am just believing that He will.