crooked-eyed

As I was praying for a team of missionaries serving in Southeast Asia this morning, I ended up with some related poetry derived from scripture God reminded me of. I found it humbling and purifying to meditate on. Enjoy:

 

Though I may see the lost be found,

the blind given sight,

and the dead raised to life,

may I never forget the greatest wonder of all:

that Christ shed His blood for me.

 

If I hold envy in my heart,

or my eyes look upon another with greed,

I live as though my inheritance in Christ

is less than all that I need.

 

If I look to man as my measure

and peers as my yardstick,

I’m distracted from Christ

and the race He set before me.

Like Israel in the wilderness

gazing upon the bronze snake lifted up,

may I keep my eyes fixed on my exalted Savior,

and in Him find life and peace.

Day 4/Return

On our last day we attended Sunday services at Antioch Houston. It was awesome to be part of the church a number of my friends attended at one point.

Vincent Carpenter from Antioch Waco spoke, and you can find the 2569358432.

Here’s a picture of the team:

That’s pretty much all I have for Sunday. It was another transformative trip that pushed me deeper. Thank you to everyone that supported me with prayers, donations, and encouragement!

Day 2 & 3

I didn’t post anything yesterday because it didn’t go as I wished and I was pretty discouraged, but it wasn’t the end of the story.

Yesterday started with worship and teaching, then our first project was packing meals for Eight Days of Hope volunteers that would be rebuilding the city. We packed 3,200 meals in a little under an hour.

Last night was our outreach at Strawberry Park where we had games, food, drama, and evangelism teams. I didn’t know how it was going to look, but I went expecting God to show up, and He did. But I was watching kids on the inflatables while everyone was having these amazing conversations. I had got so many promises that I would spread the Gospel in a way uniquely my flavor, but I left feeling empty-handed.

When we got back the guy I’m sharing a room with and I were pretty hungry, so we walked to the only food place within walking distance, Taco Cabana. As we were waiting for our food to be brought out, I felt God highlighting a man sitting with his young daughter in the corner. I wasn’t sure on any particular word for him, but I walked over there and offered to pray for him. He declined, but on his way out he said “thanks again”. It seems like the offer at least meant something to him, and I can only leave it to the Holy Spirit to finish the rest of that story.

This morning we had worship and teaching again, and I still can’t explain what happened, but I was just very encouraged and was reminded of God’s love in these moments. I was reminded that the work of the Holy Spirit is larger than I can see, and I need to just follow even when it seems pointless and doesn’t make sense. Praise God for leaders that are spiritually and emotionally aware enough to know not everyone is having the same experience, and that protect our hearts through that. I received a word/picture from someone else on the team where I’ve typed out my testimony and everything I’ve experienced in God. Then there’s these words of what others have experienced floating around the page (healing, friendliness, and some others I can’t remember) and as I drag these onto the page, spaces open up as God provides sentences for them in my story. There’s always more of God to step into.

I went with two other guys (Cameron and Eric B.) to pick up the 1,000 water bottles from the church office to pass out at the beach. I think that 45 minute drive will be one of my best memories. I’ve loved meeting the folks from Waco and we mesh instantly because we’re one big family and maintain the same culture despite our geographic distance. On the way there we joked about how Cameron was given the keys to the truck and we had no idea who it belonged to. If we got pulled over, there was no explaining that one.

When we got to the beach, it wasn’t long before I ran into my friend Stephanie who I met through my roommate when she was in Fort Collins in January. We had a good time catching up and taking about what God’s been up to. She lives in Galveston and is transitioning from Antioch Houston to Antioch Galveston.

We started with a worship song on the beach, then headed our own ways to distribute water bottles. I spent some time walking the beach by myself waiting for God to highlight someone for me to talk to, but didn’t get anything.

I thought maybe if Stephanie and I teamed up we would be more outgoing or find some divine appointment, but nope, she’s an introvert too and wasn’t getting anything. I felt like I got a picture of a cookie the night before, so I kept it in mind, but didn’t see anything. So I left tonight with results similar to last night. But this time I felt peace and clarity about the whole thing. I felt like I answered some important questions and my faith had been purified by fire. Will I continue to be faithful and step into His promises even when I don’t see the fruit personally? Will I live on mission in every circumstance, no matter where God sends me? Will I celebrate as the Kingdom advances even when I don’t see how I had a part in it? Yes, Jesus is worth it.

We got box lunches as we got on the bus headed back, and there was a cookie in there. A sweet reminder from Jesus that I’m where He wants me.

Prayer Rally and Ice Cream Social

Tonight we had a prayer rally followed by an ice cream social with Antioch Waco. One of the leaders from Waco said something that stuck with me: we don’t ask for boldness in sharing the Gospel, because boldness doesn’t cast out fear – only perfect love does (1 John 4:18).

Later on we were praying for God to raise up leaders in the local churches. I got a picture of pillars of a building, but I looked again, and instead of stone, they were gelatinous, like flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 says:

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Lord, may we be filled with your perfect love which casts out fear and empowers us to step out in humble boldness. Raise up pillars in the communities of Pasadena and Galveston who intimately know the Father’s heart and equip them to shepard your flock.

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We’re all checked into the hotel and will have the first meeting tonight. Marriott comes in clutch with group rates for the whole Antioch movement. Antioch Waco is here with us, and there must be a lot of them because there’s 4 different meeting rooms run by the Kids Ministry while the adults are in morning meetings. I think I’ve ran into more Antiochers at the hotel than not so far.

En Route

We left the church offices at 6am this morning and filled a GreenRide bus down to the airport.

Despite a missing bag and ID, we all made it in time for boarding. Thanks to my Clear membership and new screening procedures at DIA, I essentially walked straight through to the metal detector and got through in 5 minutes. Currently on the plane to Dallas, fully awake despite not getting more than an hour of consecutive sleep last night.

Some of the families had a pretty easy time getting out the door this morning because their kids already know what to do when they’re on mission for Jesus. For the younger families, this is where a lifetime of mission starts.

(717) 456-1375

Day 7: Travel Mercies

Goal: Whether you are traveling with babies, teenagers, a physical limitation, or just leaving behind your espresso-machine, travel can make the daily work of life more challenging. Let’s pray for Jesus’ grace and mercy for each person as they adjust to the demands of this trip.

 
Prayer Requests:
  • Good health and good sleep for everyone on the trip.
  • Safe, enjoyable travel for everyone and bonding with others on the trip.
  • Provision for those with physical limitations to fully participate as God leads on the trip.
  • Peace for children and parents, gracious provision for napping and eating for little ones.
Verse: Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Crafted Prayer: God we thank you that you are with us, leading us as we go to Houston. Will you fill us with peace on this journey and lead us as our God shepherd? Please bless every child on this trip with health, peace, and opportunities to grow in their relationship with you.

Asking Jesus for His direction: Take a moment to pray and listen. What is Jesus speaking to you about your/your family’s travel on this trip? Write what God says in a journal or even pop it into your electronic calendar for your depart/return times to remind you of His promise as you face the logistic challenges of traveling yourself or as a family!

Seven Days of Prayer for Houston: Day 6

Day 6: Antioch Galveston

Goal: On Saturday evening we will be on various teams doing outreach along the beach in Galveston, sharing about Jesus and inviting people to the new Antioch church that has recently been planted there.

Prayer Requests:

  • That Jesus would connect Antioch Galveston with local people of peace who will bring the gospel into their networks and truly reach the city.
  • That Jesus would bless the church as it grows with unity and authentic connection in community.
  • That this mission outreach would draw people into the church.
Verse: Matthew 5:14

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Crafted Prayer: 

God, we pray that you would establish Antioch Galveston as a witness to Yourself in the city, a light that draws the lost out of the darkness and into salvation and life-long discipleship.

Asking Jesus for His direction: Take a moment to pray and listen. What is Jesus speaking to you about the new church starting in Galveston? Write what God says in a journal or even pop it into your electronic calendar for Saturday late-afternoon of the outreach to remind you of His promise as you do outreach to build the church in Galveston!

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Day 5: Fruit that Remains in Houston

Goal: In all of our outreaches, service, and sharing our goal is not just to grow ourselves or provide people with a positive moment of encounter with Jesus, but to produce life-long disciples who build the local church and reach the nations.

 
Prayer Requests:
  • That God would bring about a revival in The Church all over Houston so that all would obey the Great Commandment & Great Commission together.
  • That Antioch Houston specifically would be able to make disciples & raise up leaders.  They are having a ton of growth in the Bay Area and need God’s wisdom on how to lead this work that God is doing.
  • That God would establish the new Central Houston campus launching in April on a firm foundation.

Verse: John 15:16

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
Crafted Prayer: Jesus, please build your Church in Houston in a lasting way through this trip. Let the wind of your Holy Spirit blow every seed of the gospel into good soil and raise up a harvest of disciples in Houston.
Asking Jesus for His direction: Take a moment to pray and listen. What is Jesus speaking to you about leaving a legacy of fruit that remains in Houston? Write what God says in a journal or even pop it into your electronic calendar for the final day of the outreach to remind you of His promise as you complete the work in Houston!

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Day 4: Co-laboring with God

Goal: Setting aside four days to partner intentionally with God’s purposes in missions is an important time for personal growth. This will be a time for each person going to experience God’s calling for them personally as His co-laborer in the world.
Prayer Requests:
  • That you would walk in the promises God has spoken over your life.
  • That you would come to a deeper understanding of your unique calling the body of Christ.
  • That every good work God has planned for this trip would be accomplished.
 
Verse: Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Crafted Prayer: God, help me clearly hear your leading, and give me courage and humility to obey you as you lead me on this trip. Thank you that you have prepared good works for me to walk in both on this trip and every day.

Asking Jesus for His direction: Take a moment to pray and listen. What is Jesus speaking to you about His love for you and call on your life? Write what God says in a journal or even pop it into your electronic calendar as a reminder for each morning of the Houston trip!