Category Archives: missional monks

Season of Prayer, Week 7

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Thoughts for the Week
I have heard it said that “God didn’t call us to be fruitful, only to be faithful.” I understand the sentiment behind that statement – it is easy to get caught up in a competitive game of justifying ourselves by counting “converts,” increases in giving, attendance and other numbers games. The true measure, according to those who make this statement, is whether or not we (individually or corporately) are faithful to God and the way of Jesus. We plant the seed and care for the soil, but it is God who brings the growth.

And yet, we could look back to the beginning of the Bible and notice that God’s command to the first people was, “be fruitful and multiply.” I think a case could be made that while that text is speaking about the need for Adam and Eve to have children and populate the earth, it is also a prophetic text speaking forward to the mission of God’s people (don’t be satisfied keeping the blessing of relationship with God to yourselves – invite others into this life with you).

However, if we choose to stick with the claim that we should first pursue faithfulness rather than fruitfulness, we must be careful not to create a false dichotomy. There’s no need to see these two matters in competition with one another. Indeed it is God who brings the growth, and both scripture and experience testify that God is quite interested in bringing about this growth. If we are faithful we should expect to see fruit. We’ll see it in our own lives and the lives of those with whom we come into contact – Jesus said that fruit is the evidence of a healthy organism (whether its a fig tree, a disciple or a community of disciples).

Remember Jesus’ statement in Luke 10 – the harvest is plentiful, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his field.

For the church, fruit and harvest represent BOTH continually maturing lives of discipleship among the faithful AND introducing new people to the life of faith (those whose hearts the Holy Spirit is already at work preparing). If new people are “joining” the church but discipleship isn’t taking root in their (and our) lives, this should be an enormous red flag for the community of faith. However, we should also be concerned when months and years pass while the same group of people sits around looking at each other wondering (or not even thinking about) why nobody else seems drawn the message we’re proclaiming.

This week our prayers focus on the harvest and bearing fruit. I am convinced that if we are committed to living out the matters we’ve spent the last 6 weeks praying; if we live with gratitude, wisdom, faithfulness, courage, intent on discipleship, seeking partners, focused on God’s mission, then God WILL bring about fruit and growth in our lives and in our community. If we turn our attention to these matters in the church, in our local community, in the global community, among the poor as well as in our own lives, the Holy Spirit WILL bring us into contact with people who are searching for God even if they aren’t aware of it yet.

Certainly it is possible to put the cart before the horse in regards to “growth.” That is part of the reason we saved the theme of harvest and fruit for last in this season of prayer. However, in both our church planting work and in the ministry of Intentional People, we are engaged in serving others because of the work of Christ – the work of remaking creation and inviting all people to take their place around the table with Jesus.

Prayer for Sunday – The Lord of the Harvest

Lord of the Harvest, we praise you for your concern and compassion for all people. We rejoice that you have done all these things so that people everywhere may seek you and find you, though you are not far from any one of us. Lord, we give you thanks for the ways in which you have brought about growth in our lives and in our communities. God, we pray that we will continue to live fruitful, productive lives as your disciples; that our love for one another, for you and for our neighbors will be evident to all. We desire these things, O Lord, because we have seen them first in you. You are the God of steadfast love, you are the Holy One who has not stayed far off, you are the Lord of the Harvest. Father, we pray that you will continue to work in us and conform us more fully into your image. You are the only one who is worthy of emulation and you are the only one who brings about new life.

We began this season of prayer by focusing on gratitude and joy for what God has been doing, and we begin this final week with gratitude for the fruit and harvest that God has already brought. So…where have you already seen evidence of God bringing about growth in your life?  For what do you need to express gratitude to God as we begin this week?

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Prayer for Friday, June 3

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 13:1-3 (New International Version)
 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Friday – Our Place in God’s Mission
Missionary God, your Story is majestic and captivating. We pray that you will bless us with the ability to see how our story fits into your Story. Jesus promised us life to the full and we want to claim just such a life. It is our prayer that you will reveal ways in which each of us can find meaning and fulfillment through joining in your mission of reconciliation. Father, so often we struggle to see the ways you have gifted us to serve your kingdom, and we confess that even when we do see, we are often bound by our own fear and lack of faith. May the character of our church be one of active discipleship, where we are regularly poured out for your kingdom and your mission. We pray that you will use Intentional People to open our own eyes as well as the eyes of others to the simple, tangible ways we can join you, the Missionary God, as you are remaking creation. 
The Kingdom of God is at hand and you and I (and everyone who has ears to hear) have been invited to not only live as citizens but also serve as ambassadors of this renewed community. Look around, everything you see is part of your Father’s creation – some of it has been restored, some is in the process of being restored and, sadly, much is resisting. I challenge each of us to look at the world through fresh eyes today. How would the “normal” things you encounter look differently if you viewed them as a representative of the true, loving King? Would you share one specific example?

Prayer for Thursday, June 2

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 11:19-26 (New International Version)

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Thursday – Commissioned for The Poor and Oppressed
Missionary God, by rescuing Israel out of slavery, by anointing the young shepherd David as king, by sending Jesus into the backwater neighborhood of Nazareth you have repeatedly modeled your concern and compassion for the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the marginalized. Protect us, Lord God, from the world’s tempting narrative of the “beautiful people” and the powerful. Lord, we want to love others as you’ve taught us. We pray for holy contentment with enough and a holy discontent when some go without while others have a surplus. We pray that you will teach our church to share our resources with one another and with others. We pray that you will give us the wisdom to learn from the poor, who have much to teach us about faith in your provision. Give us the courage to give freely and sacrificially when we can serve as tools of your provision. We pray that you will open doors for Intentional People to organize and collaborate with others in meeting the needs of local communities.

What does it mean to be satisfied with enough? Are there areas in your life where you need to learn to be content in God’s enough? Are there ways in which your abundance could be simplified to share with those who go without? These questions can be a mere intellectual activity…or they can lead to real, meaningful action. The choice is ours.

Prayer for Wednesday, June 1

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 9:1-22 (New International Version)

 1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
   “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
   “Yes, Lord,” he answered.
 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
    Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Wednesday – Commissioned for the Global Community
Missionary God, you are worthy of all praise because you are not a regional god…you are the creator and sustainer of all people, all places and all times. As we seek to follow you into our neighborhood we pray that you will also keep us mindful of the vastness of your kingdom and the love and compassion you have for people everywhere. We pray that you will protect us from the narrow-mindedness of nationalism, tribalism and other self-serving mentalities. Missionary God, we pray that you will guide our small community into not only awareness of the struggles of those far off, but also to ways we can respond to your call regarding those places. We pray that Intentional People will have opportunities to partner with disciples and communities strategically placed by you to serve as your ambassadors to people across the globe.
We are contextual beings. We live in a particular place at a particular time in history. This is universal and inescapable. That means that, and listen carefully here, we cannot be everywhere at once. Therefore it stands to reason that we must take seriously the need for networks of local communities, each working with God in their particular location. Short term trips and other experiences can be ways for us to serve people all over, but for the long-term presence of Christian community to be felt, we must acknowledge that God’s mission is bigger than us and our church. What can you do, today, to be more intentional about connecting with, supporting, or encouraging someone who is living on mission with God “over there” somewhere?

Prayer for Tuesday, May 31

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 8:1-8 (New International Version)

 1 And Saul approved of their killing him.

    On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.


Tuesday – A Mission to and with the Local Community
Missionary God, we pray for the wisdom to avoid the temptations to focus on grand adventures in far off lands while ignoring the realities in our own back yard. We believe life with you is possible and we believe it is possible here. Show us how to fulfill our mission and honor our commission in this neighborhood and community. God, we trust that you are already at work in Burleson – and we rejoice for the ways in which we’ve already witnessed that. Grant us eyes to see more clearly the ways that your Holy Spirit is already changing hearts and lives and allow us to join you in that ministry. We pray for those who are working to fight injustice, battle loneliness, drive out despair; for those who are intent on hope, committed to compassion and reflecting your light. We ask for the chance to join them in working with you. We pray God that Intentional People will be able to inspire and empower people to see these things in their own communities. And we pray, Missionary God, that these efforts will always bring praise and honor to your name rather than our own.

I know this is something I’ve called us to previously…it seems worthy of repeating. As you go about your normal routines today, keep your eyes open to places in your community where God is already at work around you and consider how you can join in God’s mission. Also be on the lookout for strongholds of darkness where the life, light and hope of God needs to break in…how can you be an instrument for God’s kingdom in those places? If you’ve already identified some of these places, share with us! And…what ways are you already (or planning to) joining God in those places?

Prayer for Monday, May 30

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 6:1-10 (New International Version)

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
Monday – A Commissioned Church
Missionary God, before Jesus ascended, he commissioned his church to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything he had commanded. We confess that we have often left that calling unheeded. Where we have sought to build our own empires rather than serving your kingdom, forgive us. Where we have sought to find the minimum requirements for attaining salvation, rather than living full, adventurous lives on mission with you, forgive us. Wherever and however we have refused to answer your call, forgive us. We pray for the strength, as your church, to follow not only your commands, but to also follow YOU into the dark places all around us. Missionary God, we pray that Intentional People will serve as a resource to your church as it seeks to live more fully into your commissioning.
As a church we desire to live intentionally as a commissioned community of disciples. Will you pray for the Wells, the Stogsdills, the Myers and Rachel Elder as we seek to not only live this way but also teach our children, friends, neighbors and coworkers to live this way? Will you pray for the Perrys and Wells as we seek to cultivate Intentional People into a resource for assisting Christians and churches all over to live in this way? Finally will you also take a minute to pray for your own congregation and other churches in your community to continue moving deeper into this kind of life? (If you want, send me an email or leave a comment here with the names of churches you’re praying for and I’ll pray for them too.)

Season of Prayer, Week 6

Scripture Passage for Daily Reflection
Acts 6:1-10; 8:1-8; 9:1-22; 11:19-26; 13:1-3 (NIV, via biblegateway.com)
Thoughts for the Week
The good news, as Jesus declared, is that God’s Kingdom is at hand. Yes, it is still in the process of becoming fully established on earth as it is in heaven, but its here, its real, its tangible. No more anxiously awaiting the Messiah, no more wondering if God will set things right…it is happening now, as you read these words. What Jesus calls us to do is simple (which is not the same as easy): We must open our eyes, adjust our gaze and turn our attention to what God is doing…and then accept the invitation to join in. For too long we’ve understood “repent and believe” to be a primarily cognitive endeavor. We think of repenting as merely not sinning anymore…how’s that working out for us, by the way?
To repent is to change course. Again, this can be co-opted by a narrow moralism which encourages us to view ourselves (the repentant) as better than others or (perhaps more damagingly) as vile sinners…worms if you will.
In truth, the beauty of repentance, of fixing our eyes on something more trustworthy, is that it enables us to gain a more clear picture of reality. We aren’t better than others – we are all created in the image of God, we just haven’t all seen it yet. But neither are we worms – we are all created in the image of God, we just haven’t all seen it yet. You are a beloved child of God, invited to take your place as a steward of God’s creation; an ambassador of God’s kingdom tasked to serve as an agent of light, hope and life.
Jesus said, “everyone who believes in me will be saved,” but that doesn’t mean just believing God exists (remember, even the demons believe that…and they shudder at the thought). Believing in Jesus means we believe in his mission – and his mission actively involves those who believe in him. Our baptism is not just a ritual that absolves sin, it is a commissioning.
Imagine a man kneeling before a king, having a sword tapped on each shoulder. When this man rises he is a new person – Sir SoAndSo. This new person has a new identity, a new calling, a new responsibility. Can you now imagine this newly knighted SoAndSo sitting down once a week, listening to the stories of the King and tales of gallant knights…and then going back home to muddle through life as a peasant (perhaps taking an occasional bath and looking down at the “dirty” peasants) until the next week’s story telling?
We aren’t just saved from our sins, we’re saved from a pointless, meaningless life. The good news is that the kingdom of God is at hand…and you are invited in with a role to play. This has always been the way God has chosen to operate with humanity. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and gave them work to do…even after “the fall.” God called Abraham, blessed him for the purpose of blessing the whole world, and gave him work to do. God called to Moses from the burning bush and gave him work to do. Jesus called disciples to himself, showed them the Father, and gave them work to do.
None of this has ever been mindless drudgery. This isn’t busy work. While God could have chosen to go about the mission of restoring and reconciling creation alone, for some reason, we’ve always been invited to serve as junior partners and co-creators with the Creator.
If you believe in Jesus, you are called to live as a disciple; as one who learns the ways of the master in order to do the things the master does and live the way the master lives. If you are a disciple of Jesus you have been commissioned to join the mission of God in this place. The question before each of us is, “how will we respond to our commission?”

Sunday – The Missionary God
Missionary God, we praise you because you have not stayed far off. Father, we thank you for creating the universe and we thank you for walking in the garden. Let all God’s children rejoice because our Lord has come near! God you knelt in the dirt to form the first people, you called Moses from the burning bush, you spoke with Abraham not only in visions but also as a visitor who received his hospitality! You called to young Samuel as he slept, wrestled with Jacob as he tried to do the same and it is you with whom we wrestle to this day. We worship you because not only did Jesus empty himself and become one of us, but in so doing, he stepped into the cycle of violence and defeated death. You are the Living God! We ask you to strengthen us as we seek to follow you into the neighborhoods of Burleson. We pray that your hand will guide Intentional People as we seek to equip others others to follow you into their own neighborhoods. Missionary God, we praise you because you have not stayed far off…you are the One Who Comes Near and we want to be people who reflect your image in this place.
When you peel back all the layers of motivation, the core conviction for both planting churches and starting Intentional People is the Missionary God we serve. From the very first chapter of the Bible we witness the activities of a God who has never been content to remain aloof from the lives and struggles of humanity. The Genesis story teaches us that God has not only come near (repeatedly) but has also (repeatedly) invited us to meaningful work in God’s creation and kingdom. Therefore, all our efforts grow out of our theology…rather than the other way around. In addition to our communal prayer today, will you also pray that God will lead us into contact with people whom the Spirit has been preparing to hear this amazing story of the Missionary God?

Prayer for Friday, May 27

Partners and Community for Ourselves
God, Community of Love, you have created us to live in community rather than isolation. We pray, for our own continued health, that you will surround each of us with friends and family committed to a shared vision of following you together. We pray for the leadership of Intentional People, that these families will continue to cultivate trust and friendship, so that each will be nurtured and encouraged to continue serving others. We pray for our new church plant, that relationships will be strengthened and cultivated so that we will continue to move forward in discipleship with joy and passion. In both of these endeavors we continue to pray for those you are raising up to partner together in different ways. Grant us wisdom and discerning hearts to protect one another from those who would do us harm and guide us forward in cultivating community in the places where you have placed us.

Back on Sunday, we asked you to be praying for financial, prayer and ministry partners for both Intentional People and our church planting efforts. Has God put any names on your heart? If so, would you consider speaking with them about these ministries? Please also feel free to contact us with names of these potential partners. Are there ways in which God may be laying it on your own heart to join with us in some way or to take the next step toward deeper connection? Again, we are extremely grateful to you for joining us in this season of prayer. We thank God for your partnership in the gospel.

Prayer for Thursday, May 26

Cultivating Community with The Poor and Oppressed
God, Community of Love, we want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We want to be known as “friends of sinners,” we desire to show solidarity with and developing community among the poor, the overlooked, forgotten and oppressed. Open our eyes to see these people which our society tries so hard to ignore and open our hearts to see them instead as you see them, as your beloved children. God we pray not only for opportunities to extend hospitality to the poor, but also for the grace to receive it. Grant us the honor of affirming the dignity of your image bearers who may have, this very day, been denied that birthright. God we acknowledge that among impoverished communities there is much darkness, sin and violence. We pray that you will bring light, repentance and peace to these places and that you will use us as your cracked and humble vessels in doing so.

Today, would you ask God to reveal ways in which Intentional People can serve as an encouragement to the poor and oppressed? We pray for partners and a growing community of people working together to eradicate the darkness around us through the Light of God that is within us. We have been blessed as part of Christ Journey to serve the poor in this area, and have cultivated some lasting friendships. We pray that this will continue as we launch out with our new church planting work as well.

Prayer for Wednesday, May 25

Cultivating Community in the Global Community
God, Community of Love, we are citizens of your kingdom which transcends national and ethnic boundaries. Teach us, Lord of Light, to see this world through your eyes and not be blinded by narrow, nationalistic thinking. Holy God, we pray that Intentional People will serve as a resource for inspiring those whom you are preparing to serve in various ways throughout the global community. We place our hands, our talents and our lives at your service to bless and encourage others wherever you may send them. In the same way, Father, we pray that our local church planting work will not lose sight of your love and concern for all people everywhere. Guide us in loving and caring for those who live across the street and together with them, in being mindful of those who live across the oceans. As citizens of your vast empire, God, Community of Love, erase from us any selfish desires or agendas for building empires of our own. We confess Jesus the Christ as both our savior and our Lord, to the glory of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you know someone who is working to build community or bring hope amidst the global community? If so, we would love to connect with them and perhaps even interview them for the Intentional People Video Project or the Missional Monks podcast. As we pray together, we invite you to think about and approach God with us regarding those we can partner with to inspire others.

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