Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ministry Update - July 2011

I want to thank you for your prayers after my recent heart attack. It has made an incredible difference in my life. I recently met with my cardiologist and received permission to add jogging to my walking regime. Currently, I am able to jog two and a half miles in thirty minutes. Not fast, but it's a start - especially since I have not done any serious jogging in the past twenty years. I would love to run a 10K race in a couple of years when I am sixty.


GOD'S KINGDOM EXPANSION

Currently, I am a part of two pastor's prayer coalitions - one in South Minneapolis and one in Brainerd about 100 miles north. You might recall that the South Minneapolis prayer group was begun over five years ago at our Urban Jungle coffee shop.

On Pentecost Sunday (June 12), many of the pastors and their churches gathered for an outreach in Peavey Park located near the corner of East Franklin and Chicago Avenue. There was music, food, and even a prayer booth. For over three hours, Jesus was proclaimed as our risen King. A spirit of unity and power rested on the park the entire time. Several Muslims came and were touched. Many CDs and pieces of literature were also distributed to unbelievers.

During the event, I received a call from a pastor in Brainerd. Tragically, one of the pastors in our Brainerd prayer group had been critically injured in a motorcycle accident after church. I discovered he had been transferred to North Memorial hospital in Minneapolis, not too far from where I was visiting. As I arrived, I was told that Pastor Chip's head injuries had caused all brain activity to cease. I decided to pray regardless and two days later, I returned with three other pastors to pray for him and his family. Although the doctors said there was no brain function, on both occasions, Pastor Chip would grab our hands. Amazingly, this happened only when we prayed.

I thought the experience was quite remarkable. Could it be that our spirit remains active even when our body shuts down (Matt. 26:41)? The following day, Pastor Chip passed away. Perhaps he was trying to tell us that he was doing great in his new surroundings!


MULTIPLICATION THROUGH SUBTRACTION

One day Jesus told His disciples that He would soon be leaving them. They protested this revelation and begged Him to reconsider. In their minds, Jesus' departure could never be a positive step. They looked to Him as their leader and the only one capable of challenging the current political and religious establishment. The disciples saw this new development as an enormous threat to their hopes and dreams.

At the time, the disciples were still not trusting in the dynamics of God's Kingdom. They failed to see that throughout history, this Kingdom was designed to increase not decrease. This was clearly demonstrated in both the physical and spiritual realms (see Gen. 1:22 and 2 Cor. 9:10).

As a result, they missed another key point. Not only does the Kingdom of God increase by design but this increase is often accelerated when there has been a loss. I believe this is a true reflection of the King's nature and character. His heart is always filled with compassion and advocacy. God doubled Job's material possessions after he had suffered severe loss. God multiplied Abraham's descendants after he left his land and family. The early Church experienced exponential growth only after Christ's departure.

When we experience unexpected loss, we need to remind ourselves of the nature and character of the King and His Kingdom. We then need to pray that His Kingdom principles will be fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven. Finally, we need to be looking for an acceleration of expansion of His Kingdom all around us!


LAKES AREA CHAPLAINCY

The ministry at the Sheriff's Department continues to expand with fresh opportunities to serve the officers and staff. Recently, I was invited to attend a monthly training session. We were briefed on appropriate responses to hostage taking and suicide threats. To my surprise, afterwards the head hostage negotiator invited me to be a part of their team!

We now have a separate board consisting of two local pastors and two law enforcement officers overseeing the program. I covet your prayers for the 130 officers and staff who serve in the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department. We also welcome any donations to help expand this new and vital ministry.