May 24, 2006
Recently I shared prayer requests with a team of people who serve as intercessors for us and this ministry. Most if not all that I shared in this update were challenges we were facing. One intercessor wrote back and said he appreciated the update, but “were there any victories?”
I appreciated the question. Immediately Proverbs 23:7 popped into my mind. Though the statement is written in the context of watching out for the invitations of a stingy man, the principle races across the breadth of any human situation:
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
Our true focus and thought patterns in life determine who we are. If we are stingy, we may invite people to eat and be happy, but inside our real selves scream, “NO!” We do not really join with our guests’ feasting. If we are negative and critical, we may speak some positive statements to others, but not believe them. Inside, we are critical of everything. We do not have (nor give) any hope. The world is gloomy and falling down around us.
We are a reflection of our hearts, our true selves. And we can’t hide the reality of that from others for long. Do you believe in a hope-filled, Chirst-honoring, truth-living future? If so, your words and actions will reflect the same and you will dwell upon such things in your heart. If we dwell on defeat, carnal thoughts of resentment or revenge, pride and greed, we will reflect the same. It may not be apparent to the casual observer at first, but what we think about ultimately becomes who we are.
So to my prayer warrior friend, I say: yes, there are victories. I received an email of renewed hope from a pastor who is leading his church to intentionally attack over 1200 homes in their area with the Gospel. They are forcefully moving forward with the Gospel and will touch the lives of an estimated 1700 pre-Christians. I praise the Lord for his vision. It is shared by his leadership team.
Another church that lost a group of parishioners because of a difference of opinion on how the church should be run has since had more new people come than had left and they are moving ahead with stratigic plans for the future. Their energy is being renewed and vision recaptured.
Long-term lack of purpose is being intentionally addressed in another church and for the first time they are working on determining who they are and who they are uniquely gifted to reach in their area. They are excited about the possibilities. This will help them determine the gifts they need in a new pastor.
Cluster leaders are doing a great job assisting churches as they face important issues that have hindered them in the past. We believe there is real freedom possible for some churches (and individuals) that have been bound in sinful patterns for years.
These are a few of the victories we are seeing. Thanks for the question, Rich.
Let’s all ask ourselves, what is it that we think about most? What’s the topic, tone and tenor? Are our thougths rooted in and focused on Christ and Kingdom issues or on something else?
As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
Sobering, true words. The statement leads to another great truth in the New Testament:
Philippians 4:8–Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.