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Sorry to disappear from the blogosphere for a few days. I hope you were able to function for a few days without my life-giving insights into whatever I’m interested in. (Blame a hotwire.com $39 a night La Quinta hotel room that promised wireless internet but apparently the wires were missing that would have made it actually work.)

We just got back from Birmingham late last night. Went with 11 CATG peeps to Church of the Highlands for a spectacular church planting conference. Many things are rolling around in my head right now that will soon gel into more vision and passion for what we are doing right here in SD!

It’s always great to travel with friends. Lots of laughs… like yesterday when Pastor Dennis mis-spoke during a conversation about his baldness and talked about his using viagra and how that didn’t help his hair grow (he later tried to assure us he meant to say rogaine.) We flew from Birmingham to Dallas with Brian Houston – that was cool for the star-struck among us. I want to publicly thank Kathy for packing light this time… we knew you could do it!

Here’s some highlights:

– The greatest church planting “tool” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his followers after three years of equipping… stay here in the upper room until you get what you really need to go out and take territory. Jesus sent people out to plant churches with POWER!

– Great word from Brian Houston on how we often focus on what we don’t have and only take notice of the lack… we miss what is right here in our own house- people, potential. We learned THE Darlene Zschech was once just a lady in his church named Darlene – now her song made America Idols top ten list – shout to the Lord! We often don’t see the “oil” in our own “house” because it doesn’t look like its going to look like when God touches it. We’ve got to raise people in our midst up and release them!

– Regarding prayer… a man on his face never falls from that position. Do we as leaders, at our core, really believe that prayer matters? How we run our ministries reveals whether or not we really believe that is true. The hard days in prayer are more important to God than the easy days.

More later…

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This past weekend during one of our worship services I noticed some of the lyrics we were singing were basically visionary prayers. As I reflected on this, I felt led to say a few things about “Praying Forward.” Within a day or so a couple emails came in saying it was quite helpful and important. Kristen suggested I develop the thought a bit and submit it as a guest post on her prayer blog. So, I did just that and you can read more of what I’m thinking about Praying Forward here.

It never fails. Having read the Passion passages countless times and having preached seemingly every conceivable angle of the Easter Story each year these last twenty years, it never fails… God shows me something new. I’ve devoted these last couple weeks in the pulpit to the ugly side of Easter – the betrayal, the blood. A few days ago I spoke on the forsaking of Christ and how its happening again today in the America church.

Rather than just jump right to the verse from the cross where Jesus cries out – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me – I pointed out how the forsaking actually started earlier that week. In the Garden after Judas betrayed him we read “all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Then Peter disowned Jesus. But there is a key moment even before these key moments.

Right after Jesus foretells that Peter will betray him three times, Jesus is in the garden crying out in agony to God asking for this cup of suffering to pass. He returns and finds his disciples sleeping. The Bible tells us this happened
three times. Three times!? Hmm. Here’s the part I hadn’t seen before: “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.” HE ASKED PETER?!?!

Do you see it? Before Peter ever forsook Jesus publicly, he forsook Jesus privately in the place of prayer. In the end times, the Bible says, many will turn away from Christ. I’m convinced prayer meeting attendance is a better indicator of the victory or defeat of the American Church, not anything else. Once we forsake Him privately in the place of prayer, it’s only a matter of time before we do it for all to see.

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