Back to Writing – and Praying for East Lake

I thoroughly enjoyed making the video for last week and being able to pray out loud instead of in my head and out through my fingers/keyboard. What I did not enjoy was the face I’m making in the frame the video decided to use as the screen-shot thingy. (My brain is not coming up with the right word.) Clearly, I am a novice with the whole video-making thing. If any of you have any helpful hints, feel free to share them! I hope to do more videos from time-to-time in the future – IF my boss approves. Ha!

As you know, these past few months we have been focusing our prayers on the East Lake community in Birmingham. This coming Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7pm, New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting a city-wide prayer gathering for East Lake. Their worship team will be leading us in musical worship, and our prayer times will be facilitated by Pastor Thomas Beavers, pastor of the host church, Pastor Keith Stanley of WorkFaith Birmingham, and Pastor Kevin Moore of Mission Birmingham. Most, if not all, of the ministries we have prayed for this summer will be there. As I keep saying, it will be an incredible evening of prayer, and I hope you will be able to join us!

If you keep track of the local news at all, you probably have heard about the recent shootings in Gate City, which is located in East Lake. One was killed and five were wounded. This community desperately needs our prayers. They need the Lord.

The passage we will be praying out of Wednesday evening is Colossians 1:15-29:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Lord Jesus, You are the Creator, the Ruler, the Sovereign One over every. single. thing in existence. Every nation, every city, every community, every person exists through You and for You. Our eyes are on You because You are our Head. You are the Beginning; You are the One who sustains; in You are “the fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:10). You gave everything to reconcile us to the Father even while we were full of every evil thing. You do not wait for us to clean up before You save us; You save us so that You can set us free from our rotting graveclothes and chains, and so that You receive all the glory that is due Your great name. We praise You, Lord! Hallelujah to the Lamb! You are worthy!

We lift up East Lake, and especially Gate City, this week to You, Lord. We know it grieves Your heart when violence and hate have their way. Yet, in Your Sovereignty, You allow it. In Your power, You are more than able to cause these tragedies to turn to good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. You can take what man meant for evil and turn it for good. So that’s what we’re asking for today, God. Take these shootings and the fear, and the anger, and the grief they bring to this community and turn it into the very things that bring people to trust in the Lord with all their heart, and to stop leaning on their own understanding. Cause them to acknowledge You in all their ways so that You can direct their paths. (from Prov. 3:5,6)

We pray for the ones who are caught up in committing acts of violence. You’ve created them for more than this. You know their stories and what brought to that place of hate, fear, and apathy for life. You know that some of them feel they are too far gone into darkness to ever be received by the Light. God, we beg You to rescue them. Do not let the enemy have his way with them any longer. Cause the power of the Gospel to come fully to bear in their lives. This is not too hard for You. Your arm CAN save. Your mercy IS that deep and wide. Gun-control policies cannot save lives, rallies can’t change people, not even well-meaning charities can change someone; ONLY YOU CAN GOD! Do what only You can do for these men and women, for Gate City, and for the East Lake community. IN YOUR ALMIGHTY and GLORIOUS NAME we ask this, Jesus. AMEN!

Non-profits Summer Prayer Journey – First Priority of Alabama

We begin our final month of this summer prayer journey. I was excited when Kevin Moore first told me about it, but as I keep telling you, it has been so much richer and perspective-altering than I could have imagined. See the calendar, here, for which ministries are coming up next.

This week, we are praying for First Priority of Alabama. You can visit their website or find them on Facebook. They have a ton of photos on their Facebook page of the different schools they minister in. It touched my heart to see so many kids engaged with the opportunity to experience the Gospel, and to see other students leading their peers in that endeavor. It is also great timing that we’re praying for them now, as August is FP Month, which is a month filled with FP trainings, prayer gatherings, commissioning of students, speaking engagement in churches, and much more. They have several ways you can be involved in  FP month listed on this page.

First Priority was founded in 1990, with the vision of seeing the hope of Christ in every student. A city-wide church vision, First Priority provides a comprehensive plan of action for churches, students, parents, and community leaders to help create unity, resources, mentoring, and strategy within the city, communities, and on campuses to reach and disciple a generation with the love and message of Jesus Christ. Last school year, they saw over 520 decisions for Christ and over 13,000 students who participated in First Priority and FPKids. You can find First Priority on the campuses of many local middle and high schools being initiated and led by students. Greg Davis, host of Priority Talk radio on WXJC 850 am and 92.5 fm, is the president of this organization.

I Timothy 4:10-12 – “10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things. 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

Heavenly Father, You are not a god made of wood, stone, clay, or precious metals. You are the true and living God, who hears with Your ears, sees with Your hands, and whose heart beats with compassion and love for Your Creation. Not only are You the God of all Creation, but You are also the God of our salvation. The story of salvation is not just a legend, but so real that it has the power to transform lives, heal broken hearts, and set captives free. We give You all glory and honor, praise and thanksgiving for being the Real, Living God Who Saves. Praise You, Lord God Almighty!

No one would argue that we live in a dark culture, and in recent weeks, we’ve seen that it’s even darker than we imagined in some ways. Our children and young people face so many traps, snares, deceit, and evil that we would never have even considered having to deal with when we were their ages. Only the Light of the Gospel can counter the growing tide of evil, and it must shine from within them, not just around them. We pray that no matter the life story, no matter the background, no matter the heartache and grief and fear and pain, step in and save this generation, O God. Be Father to the fatherless. Be Hope to the hopeless. Be Life to the dying. Be Light against the darkness. Be Rescuer to the abused. Be Comforter to the hurting. Be Love to the angry and hateful. Be Healer to the broken. Be Lord and Savior to all of them.

We pray that First Priority’s vision of the hope of Christ in every student would become a reality. That is not too big a vision for You to accomplish, Lord. Provide the resources this ministry needs to accomplish such an awesome vision. Raise up godly volunteers to mentor the students. Raise up churches to partner with this ministry and to engage in the lives of students who may never set foot in their church. Give them favor with school officials to continue meeting on campuses. We pray for Greg Davis and the leadership of First Priority. Give them wisdom and the discernment to know how You are leading them to go, and give them the courage and ability to follow. We also pray for a spirit of unity among the leadership and among the students who are participating. Give them strength to labor and strive for the Gospel and for the hearts of the students.

We also pray for the student leadership in each school who have chosen to speak out for the Gospel and to live for Christ. We pray that they would be bold for the Gospel, but in a spirit of humility. Give them the strength to be faithful and consistent in what they say, how they act, the values they display, and how the handle temptation in order to show themselves as an example of those who believe. Give them the freedom not to be perfect, but to be forgiven. Let their faith and testimony not be about works of righteousness that they’ve done, but about Your mercy to save us and wash us and fill us with Your Spirit. (from Titus 3:5) At the same time, we also pray that they would live and walk as God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared for them beforehand. (from Eph. 2:10)

Lord, by Your grace and mercy, and by the power of the Gospel, let us see this generation redeemed and set free in Christ. Continue to enable First Priority to partner with You, and provide churches and community leaders to partner with them. We ask all of this for Your honor and glory. Amen.