- Created on Monday, 16 July 2012 16:35
Dear Praying Friends,
We made budget! In March I told our staff that we were headed for pay cuts July 1. Humanly speaking, I really didn't see any way out. But between donations to the Annual Fund and the Ruth project the Lord provided $352,000! Book sales, royalty income, and speaking fees were all higher than anticipated. So thank you for praying and giving! (I still can't quite believe it!)
Steve Byrd, our Director of Partner Relations, is off to Southern Sudan with a team from his church to work with a World Harvest team. Steve is introducing the national believers to the Person of Jesus study. This is our sixth recent informal partnership with World Harvest. Last year, Jonathan Winfree, our African Coordinator, led training with World Harvest's Ugandan team. Last fall, we did three trainings in Ireland and England that were either sponsored or initiated by World Harvest teams. In September, Jonathan and Drew Bennett are doing several trainings in India through a partnership with World Harvest's London Team and the Delhi Bible Institute. Almost all our overseas work is driven by partnerships like this. Increasingly we find ourselves partnering directly with national churches.
By God's grace, I've finished my initial rough draft of the Ruth book. I still have more work to do before I hand it over to the editor. I covet your prayers for wisdom, humility, and love as I write.
The Love Course comes out August 1st. We've broken the 32 lessons into five mini-courses each with its own study guide. The audio lectures will be available as free downloads on our website. The Love Course is my most in-depth look at Jesus and a theology of love. It addresses some missing themes of the Reformation, namely that we don't just believe the gospel, but we enter into the sufferings of Christ.
Thank you for praying for our daughter Ashley and her battle with colon cancer. Her first round of chemo last week was rough, but the doctors say that she has a 90% chance of being cancer free. Justin Wilson, our Partner Relations Representative in Florida, is doing better after colon surgery followed by an almost 3-week hospital stay.
Thank you for praying for our work of lifting Jesus up! Who knows what God might do?
- Created on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 18:15
Dear Praying Friends,
Since I wrote you last, a retired missionary who has worked in Iran and is familiar with our material, told us that he wanted to fund a Farsi translation of The Person of Jesus study! Farsi is the language of Iran and about half of Afghanistan. There has been a significant people movement in Iran since the revolution in 1979. Having to face the full implications of Islam and Shari law has made Jesus more attractive to the Iranian people. All through Islam there is a small but growing house church movement that is hungry for good material. By God's grace we want to help "Equip the House Church Movement in the Muslim World." We have a team (Jonathan Winfree, Julie Courtney, our International Coordinator, and myself) working to create a new International English version of the manual that is somewhat simplified to use as a template for these translations.
I mentioned in our last email that our daughter Ashley was diagnosed with colon cancer. A week ago they removed the section of her colon that was cancerous and just yesterday she found out that the cancer has spread to some of her lymph nodes, so it is stage III and she will need chemotherapy. She is 36 years old and very precious to us. Please keep her in your prayers.
Can you also pray for Justin Wilson, our Development Associate in Lakeland, Florida? Justin is a critical member of our Development Team and often a consultant to me in our work as well. He had surgery to remove a blocked section of his colon and is still in the hospital after two weeks. He might need additional surgery to remove fluid that is building up in his abdomen. His white count went up yesterday. So we are becoming the GI (Gastro-Intestinal) mission!
At last check we were $78,000 short of our goal of $365,000 for our Annual Fund, with our year ending June 30. But Jesus is on the throne and he always provides just what we need.
- Created on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 12:20
Paul Miller and his wife Jill were fortunate enough to relive their youth by attending a prom for adults with differing abilities with their daughter Kimberly. The event was hosted by Manor Brethren in Christ Church in Lancaster, PA, in conjunction with Joni and Friends, which is a world-wide ministry that acts as an advocate for adults and children with disabilities in the church. This year’s theme was Hawaii and as you can see from the video clip, while they may not be ready for Dancing with the Stars, fun was had by all!
- Created on Thursday, 31 May 2012 01:24
Dear Praying Friends,
These are good days for seeJesus. Steve Byrd has raised enough money for us to start working on the Arab translation of the Person of Jesus study. We have a myriad of cross-cultural challenges including adapting the course for a Middle Eastern culture (which is closer to the New Testament than our own) and redoing the design of the course since Arabic reads from right to left. We’re doing so much work in rural, third world situations that Jonathan Winfree is beginning a rewrite of the Person of Jesus study customized for that world. Jill and Julie and are working on the Bethesda series, the adapting the Person of Jesus study for adults who learn differently, and Lydia Leggett is putting the finishing touches on the Love Course.
A Praying Life ministries under Bob Allum’s leadership is flourishing. Bob is training additional seminar leaders to help share the load. Just last month Bob Loker did our first ever Hispanic A Praying Life Seminar in Lima, Peru.
Most mornings I’m writing a book on love using the book of Ruth. I love writing. I usually look up an discover that it is 10:00. The book, like the rest of our work, is focused on the core passions of Christianity. It is our belief that if those core passions are working, then everything else works. That is, if you get faith, love, Jesus, and the gospel right, then you’ve won the high ground and the rest is just mopping up.
I even have some good news on development. Our gap is still huge: With four weeks to go we still are $105,000 short of our goal of $365,000. But the number of “Friends of seeJesus” who commit monthly to give to seeJesus has gone from 60 to 96 in the last few months. http://seejesus.net/friends
I do have a personal prayer request. Our second daughter Ashley, who just shines with Jesus, was diagnosed today with colon cancer. We don’t know the stage yet, but she is having surgery next week. Ashley is married to Dave and they have three children. We do covet your daily prayers for her complete healing. I’ll keep you posted in future prayer updates.
- Created on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 15:01
Bob Allums, Director of A Praying Life Ministries, recently took time to reflect on the need to dream…
Paul Miller writes in A Praying Life, “The feel of a praying life is cautious optimism—caution because of the Fall, optimism because of redemption” (pg. 84).
It's no secret... our American culture, even American Christianity, is one of cynicism. It has even invaded the church. When your Father answers one of your prayers, it can be tempting to think, “wouldn't that have happened anyway?”
Jesus calls us out of cynicism, into the care of our Father, who is intricately connected to the life and death of one small sparrow. Jesus tells us to “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
This is not to negate Jesus' teaching that we should be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. This means that while we battle the cynicism of our age, confronting difficulties and evil... we can dream again because of redemption.
Dreaming... hoping... both lead us to the Father's heart. In fact, one of the most fun things to do is to create a prayer card on dreaming big dreams. It's the antidote to cynicism.
Take a look at this short video by Desiring God of Paul discussing cynicism.
How have you started to dream again?
Upcoming A Praying Life Events:
May 18-19 - Chesapeake, VA - Seminar at Sovereign Grace Church
June 19-22 - Louisville, KY - Prayer Room at PCA General Assembly
July 20-21 - Angel Fire, NM - Seminar at Angel Fire Baptist Church
And make sure to follow A Praying Life on twitter at @A_Praying_Life
- Created on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 18:18
Thanks to Desiring God (@desiringgod) for blogging and tweeting about A Praying Life:
"Are you cynical about Prayer? Two-minute video with Paul Miller, author of "A Praying Life." dsr.gd/J4djcB
Make sure you keep up to date with all the latest A Praying Life news and insights with tweets from @A_Praying_Life
- Created on Friday, 11 May 2012 17:57
Pastor Roberto Bastante, Senior Pastor of Alianza Cristiana Igelsia de Miraflores in Lima (http://www.alianzacristiana.tv/site/) is preaching through Unit 1 of the Person of Jesus. They have 100-150 small groups who will study each lesson during the week. We trained 50 leaders last September and 100 leaders last month to lead Person of Jesus groups. The church wants the Person of Jesus to be a part of who they are as a church and the churches associated with them. They have 3,000 who attend the 6 worship services.
Here is the link of Pastor Roberto preaching Lesson 1 Compassion this past weekend:
We look forward to sharing more about our recent visit to Peru in the weeks ahead!
- Created on Sunday, 29 April 2012 18:51
In our A Praying Life material, we talk about approaching our Heavenly Father as freely as we’d approach our earthly dads. This can be a helpful comparison for people who’ve enjoyed good relationships with their dads, but for people who have had more complex experiences, it’s often a stumbling block. Bob Allums, director of A Praying Life Ministries recently asked Mark Moody, a pastor and volunteer with seeJesus, to share from his own experience how God fathers the fatherless...
My father passed away when I was 12 years old. It was a time of deep grieving and loss for me; my father had been my hero. Complicating the matter was the means of his death: suicide. I felt as though I wore a scarlet letter on my shirt wherever I went in my small town. Dad had been well-liked and known in the community. How could our family (and me, specifically) ever recover from this? It was a season of shame, a season where I believed that something was wrong with me that was NOT wrong with everyone else. This is a definition of shame from Sandra Wilson’s book, Released from Shame, which is referred to in the A Praying Life seminar.
Growing up in the church, I was aware that God was a “Father to the fatherless” – a reality that, in some ways, was hard to know; it would have been easier not to be aware of this promise. How is God going to be a Father to me when not having a father was my new reality? How would He be my Father in the midst of all this shame and sadness?
We often find ourselves living in the tension between the hope of God’s promise and the reality of our situation. It isn't easy. We can’t see how the two—God’s promise and our current reality—will come together. After my father’s death, my temptation was to think, “It doesn’t do any good to hope. It doesn’t do any good to live in this tension; just give up hope and it will be easier to live in this reality.” Giving up hope seemed easier and safer, but I was on the quick and slippery road to despair.
As we look at the Old Testament, it is out of these kinds of stories that God’s activity emerges most clearly. Often, the bigger the gap between God’s promise and the situation we find ourselves in, the more beautiful and richer the story of redemption God weaves.
As I have learned through A Praying Life, this gap (referred to in the seminar as the Sadness Gap) is illustrated biblically as a wilderness or desert. In the desert, human hope dies. Human dreams die. Our best plans die. We feel completely boxed in and the only open door to us is God. This is the place where we learn to pray; this is where we learn to connect with God. Who went through this desert experience? There are many examples of people learning to trust God in the desert for a promise that did not match their reality—think of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David.
So why does God take us through these desert seasons? It’s hard to say. Possibly to help our prayers focus less on changing the circumstance and more on trusting Him in the circumstance. God’s agenda may be much grander than changing the situation, but without experiencing the difficult circumstance, we will never experience His provision. What we know for sure is that even in these dark seasons, God is taking advantage of these moments to shape us into the image of His Son, Jesus. And yet, we are not to lose heart; He is also actively working on the situation. This is why He tells us to come to Him as children and ask Him for specific things.
A year after my father’s death, I had just finished up a very unsuccessful freshman year of high school. In a phrase, it had been a train wreck; socially, spiritually, athletically, and academically, I was barely keeping afloat. I needed a change. During the summer of that year, I attended a Christian camp in Western Massachusetts. One afternoon, I was at my cabin enjoying the afternoon when a thought came to me. Why not see if I can stay at the camp this next year? I could go to school in this community and have a fresh start at life. The thought was bold and came from nowhere but it seemed like something that I should at least inquire about. I decided to act.
I went to talk with the camp director about this idea. After some brief discussion and a phone call to my mother, the camp director and his wife decided to take me in for the year. Looking back, it was just what I needed. God used the camp and program director to father me through a very turbulent time. The year away from home gave me just enough space to “breathe.” It was then that God began to do a work in my heart to “normalize” me, so I could go back home and not feel like I was the odd guy wearing a scarlet letter.
So God kept his promise to be a “Father to the fatherless” through a camp. Three years later, as a 17-year-old at a staff retreat for the camp I called home just a few years earlier, I sat on the banks of the Quobbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts and prayed, “God, I don’t know what you can do with me, but if you can do anything, I am yours.” How did God move me from being a lost, floundering 13-year-old to having a heart for God to do whatever He wanted in my life? In part, because I had observed through this camp, extended family, and other mentors how God could use these people to father me and I knew I could trust Him to be my Father. I could trust Him with my life.
As I have better understood my story through the life of prayer, I have understood that in the desert years of high school, God was shaping me as a person. There was a story being woven in my life even though I was unable at the time to understand it. It was a time where I was learning to abide with Jesus. As is said in the A Praying Life seminar, it’s in the desert where you learn to be with God’s heart.
Are you in a desert? If so, remember this: God has not led you into a wilderness to die. God is weaving a story in your life as you journey through the desert. The wonder of what He is doing can only be experienced as we trust Him in the middle and look back with faith when it ends. That may happen in this life, it may happen in the next. God does not promise to resolve all our prayer stories this side of eternity. But He does promise us Himself as we journey through the desert. So cry out to Him. Ask Him for help. Join with David who cried out in Psalm 63:1, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Let God be a Father to you in the desert.
- Created on Thursday, 19 April 2012 15:04
by seeJesus International Coordinator
We have a passion for Peru. A month ago, we received the Spanish translation of the Leader's Manual for the A Praying Life Seminar. Last week we received the Quechua translation of Lesson One: Compassion from The Person Of Jesus manual. We can't read a word of it except "Jesus" who is throughout the whole lesson. This week we received the Spanish Participant Guide for Lesson One from The Person of Jesus, with more lessons to be completed in the near future. Bob Loker (seeJesus board member and trainer) and I will use these discipleship tools in Peru over the next two weeks. Our goal of this trip is to equip lovers of Jesus in several cities and towns, from Lima to the high Andes to northern Peru. We ask for prayers that everyday believers in Peru will become extraordinary followers of Jesus through the work of the Spirit on this trip.
- Created on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 14:51
Dear Praying Friend,
Our team to Australia had a great time doing both the A Praying Life and the Person of Jesus seminar. It was the fourth seminar we've done in the last six months in an English speaking post-Christian culture: Ireland, England (2x), and Australia. In all four locations we were struck by how the church had made significant shifts in adapting to a post-Christian world. They loved the Person of Jesus study, which was written for a culture that is losing its memory of Christianity. It does that in two ways: for Christians, it drives home the need for an authentic life that reflects Jesus; and for non-Christians, it shows them the heart of our faith, the beauty of Jesus.
This quote from Skye Jethani, the senior editor of Leadership Journal, really captures what we are doing:
"The primary purpose of the church, before mission, before healing, before transforming the culture; the first purpose of the church is to give a ravishing vision of who Jesus Christ is and let him draw people to himself. But we are not presenting Jesus Christ, we are presenting mission, or we are presenting transformation, we’re presenting healthy marriage or healthy family. And so people come for reasons other than Jesus himself…Until we get the Gospel right, we shouldn’t be surprised that young people are walking away…Before we are called to something, before we are called to somewhere, we are called to someone.”
While the historically Christian underpinnings of our American culture are breaking down, Christianity itself is not. Nor is Jesus. We just have to learn to do things differently. We need to dig deeper into Christ and the depths of his love. The old ways aren't working.
A team (seeJesus International Coordinator and Bob Loker, Board Member) is heading off to Peru this week to do our first ever A Praying Life Seminar in Spanish along with testing our new Person of Jesus Quechuan translation. Jonathan Winfree is heading off next week to Uganda to do training or prep work with three of our Ugandan partner organizations.
I'm thankful for your prayers for our work. I'm about half way through the first draft of the book on Ruth, centered around love. I write in the mornings and do everything else in the afternoon.
- Created on Thursday, 05 April 2012 14:56
seeJesus team members Julie Courtney, Lyle Caswell, and Bob Allums recently returned from a week of training in “the land down under.” They led both the Person of Jesus and A Praying Life seminars at Christ Community Church Central in Brisbane. The team was delighted to hear that people came away with “eyes open to looking at Jesus in ways they never had before and excitement towards having a tool [in Person of Jesus] to use in their evangelism ministry.” Thanks, Christ Community for your wonderful hospitality and Mission to the World for the invitation!