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-Profit Summer Prayer Journey 2016 Kickoff!

I am so THRILLED that Mission Birmingham and the East Lake community are facilitating this year’s summer prayer journey. We did this last year for the first time, visiting non-profits all over the metro-Birmingham area. It was such a powerful and humbling experience for me as it opened my eyes to the vast needs all over our city, and I met the people who are pouring out their lives for the sake of the Gospel to meet those needs. I am confident this summer will be no different.

For several months now, community leaders in the Eastlake area have been meeting together to pray and learn how to work together for the good of the community and (most) for the sake of the Gospel. God has already been doing some cool things in and through those meetings. Because of that, it seems fitting that we concentrate our prayer journey around that area as well. This week, we start with Community Care Development Network.

CCDN is comprised of leaders in the community to help develop and maintain local programs. It is a faith-based non-profit that specializes in healing and helping the whole family through their community programs and therefore promote community development, growth, and enhancement throughout the Woodlawn, Eastlake, Roebuck, and Huffman communities. It was founded in November 2015 by Duane L. and Tamika Holmes, T. Marie King, Rev. Emily Penefield Freeman, and Belinda Hopson Dupree. They are currently trusting God as they work toward raising the needed funds to help obtain 501c3 status and to obtain much needed resources and supplies, including vans, a building, food, and an emergency fund to help serve their clients in desperate need. Tamika Holmes is the director for CCDN.

The passage they are praying out of this morning is Isaiah 65:17-25:
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.
21 “They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
23 “They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for calamity;
For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD,
And their descendants with them.
24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.

Lord God, You are righteous and just. You are Sovereign and every word You speak shall come to pass at Your appointed time. You are good and all that You have made brings You glory. You are gracious and loving toward Your Creation, willing to redeem it at the cost of Your Son, and then giving us Your Spirit to dwell in us and to to allow us to be Your ambassadors on the earth. What an inheritance! What glory! Hallelujah! Thank You, Father!

One day, we will live on the new earth and new heavens where everything will be perfect and we will enjoy unbroken fellowship with You and with one another. But for today, we live in a broken world, and some of our communities seem to feel that brokenness more evidently than others. Lord God, we pray for the Eastlake and Woodlawn communities to experience more of the things You have promised will come with Your future earthly kingdom. You tell us to pray, “Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, so that’s what we’re praying right now. Father, I pray for peace to come and replace the violence this community experiences. Lord peace doesn’t come from the absence or the presence of guns. It comes with the presence of Your Spirit in the hearts of the people. We pray that those who believe they have to live by killing or harming would experience the power of the Gospel in their lives, laying down their weapons so that they can pick up the sword of the Spirit.

We pray for families to be restored and experience healing. Let homes become the safe haven in which to raise children and for marriage to be a picture of Christ and His Church. Even Christian homes and marriages struggle a lot. We pray that grace and forgiveness would flow through these homes, family members would treat each other with dignity, and that children would be seen as great and precious gifts, not as problems, inconveniences, or anything less than the gifts and image-bearers of God that they are. We pray for jobs and income that would provide adequately for these families. Father we pray that abuse would be exposed and children would be safe.

We pray that no one would be sick or hungry because they lack resources or access to healthcare and good nutrition. We pray that You would set addicts free from the prisons of their addictions and shame, and that You would restore them to a life of productivity. We pray that employment and work would be regarded as the blessings that they are. In Jesus’ name, we break off fear, deception, slothfulness, and every lie that the people of these communities have been fed for generations to keep them broken. We pray that Your truth would be welcomed and received in their hearts. Let the power of the Gospel be poured out and let Your revival come.

Thank You for raising up Community Care Development Network to help alleviate the pain and the suffering that brokenness has brought to the Woodlawn/Eastlake communities. We pray that You would use them and their partners to bring healing to hurting families, mentoring and education to children, health care to the indigent and sick, recovery to addicts, and restoration to the community. We pray specifically that You would raise up the resources and provision they need to see the felt needs of vans, a building, and finances met as quickly as You ordain. We lift up Tamika Holmes and the people who serve with her. Grant them a clear vision of Your kingdom, and what it could look like to have their community look more and more like Your kingdom. Leading a non-profit is hard and sometimes discouraging. Please give them great wisdom, strength, humility, unity, and encouragement. Do not let them labor in vain, and do not let the enemy deceive them into thinking that way. We pray that You would answer their prayers so quickly, that they don’t even have time to finish asking them. We ask that for all the prayers that have been prayed for this ministry today. And we ask all of these things for their good, for the good of the Eastlake community, and for Your glory. Amen.

If you were able to attend this morning, please let us know how it went in the comments below. If, like me, you were unable to attend in person, did the Lord prompt you with a verse or a specific prayer as you read? I would love to hear from you!

 

Praying for Grace House Ministries

Mission Birmingham’s Summer Prayer Journey for Nonprofits is taking a break this week in light of the Independence Day weekend. I thought it would be good to use the “week off” to pray for one of the nonprofits we won’t be able to visit in person this summer. Grace House Ministries made an impression on me when they participated in my church’s Missions’ Conference this past February. Their mission is to provide stable Christian homes for girls from crisis backgrounds with the commitment to developing mature, godly women.

Grace House Ministries was first formed in 1989 by “Mama Lois” Coleman. (Her story is inspiring, and you can read about it here.) After a couple of years of campaigning and building, the first Grace House was opened in 1992. Ten years, later, 2 more houses were added, and then a third house was added in 2007, bringing the number of girls they could house up to 24. In 2011, the ministry transitioned to live-in parents instead of shift workers to give the girls a more stable, home-like experience. An education department was also developed at this time for girls who struggled with traditional classroom settings or who needed to get caught up to their grade-level. For the rest of their girls, they partner with three private, Christian schools: Restoration Academy, Central Park Christian School, Holy Family Cristo Rey. In 2014, Grace House Ministries opened up a fourth home to house girls who are over 18 years old and have aged-out of the foster care system. This house helps these older girls transition into college and successful adult lives.

If you love reading blogs, I suggest following their blog, The Suitcase Diaries. A couple of the posts brought tears to my eyes, and all of them provide a fun, inside-look at what their organization is all about.

Ephesians 3:14-19 – “14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Lord God, thank You for being our perfect, loving, gracious Father. You place us in families by Your sovereign will. Yet, sometimes, those family structures fail us. We praise You today for being constant and loving. Thank You for the family of God that You have adopted us into through the blood of Your Son. You promise to never disown us once we become Your children. Thank You for being our faithful Father.

We lift up Grace House Ministries to You, Father. Thank You for Mama Lois’ vision of ministering to girls from crisis backgrounds, and for fulfilling that vision for over 200 girls since 1992. We pray for executive director Pamela Reed Phipps and the staff to continue to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit. Grant them courage to love these girls with the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. Give them the wisdom and discernment they need to serve these young ladies, and to continue to build this ministry into everything that You have ordained it to be. Continue to reveal the vastness of Your love to them and through them. If the love of Christ surpasses knowledge, then it must be something we can know deeper only through experience, so we pray these leaders and staff would experience the love of Christ in their personal lives and through the ministry You’ve called them to.

Father, reveal Yourself as Father to every girl who comes to Grace House Ministries. We pray each one would experience the riches of Your glory, and would know the breadth, length, height and depth of Your love for them. Rescue them from the cycle of abuse and the domain of darkness, and seat them in the heavenly places in Your Son, Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). Give them grace to walk in Your light and truth, even when it means standing against generations, and a culture, of darkness. We pray that Your good and perfect plan for each life would be made evident to them, and that You would give them favor and provision. Thank You, Lord, that You go before them to make their paths straight, and You stand behind them as their rear guard. (Is. 58:8) We pray that no plan of the enemy against them would prosper, in Jesus’ name.

We ask for Your provision for this ministry. Thank You that Your storehouses do not run out. Raise up more supporters for Grace House Ministries. Thank You that You will supply their every need according to Your riches in glory. (Phil. 4:19) Amen.

I would love to hear how the Lord is prompting you to pray for any of the non-profits we have been praying for here. I have always believed that one cannot pray for a person, ministry, church, city, etc., without one’s heart becoming knit to them, and I find it to be true once more as we have been praying for non-profits this summer. Next week, we will be at WorkFaith Birmingham. Join us in person there at 7am next Friday, or here on the blog!

 

 

Announcing an Intercessors’ Prayer Summit!

I am so excited to tell you about this fantastic opportunity to connect with others who have a heart to pray and a heart for our city in order to seek God together for our city. On Saturday, November 9 from 9am – noon, Mission Birmingham is hosting an Intercessors’ Prayer Summit at Shades Mountain Independent Church!

Mission Birmingham has been hosting and facilitating prayer summits all over the metro-B’ham area for years now, from the annual Pastors’ Prayer Summit held every November at Shocco Springs, to individual church prayer summits, and even prayer journeys through the city. A prayer summit is not a time of teaching about prayer, or listening to a sermon on prayer. It is Scripture-fed, Spirit-led corporate prayer, facilitated by someone who is sensitive to the leading of the Spirit, and who will help guide the participants into united, dynamic prayer.

Dennis Fuqua, executive director of International Renewal Ministries, and author of two books on prayer (“Living Prayer” and “United and Ignited”), will be our facilitator for that morning. His heart for the Lord, his love for people, and his sense of humor make him a wonderful facilitator.

I love prayer summits because of how one can see the Holy Spirit moving through the room. There have been countless times where I was about to pray something, but someone across the room started to pray the exact same thing! I love how it connects everyone at the event. It brings a powerful sense of the unity of the Spirit that I just don’t feel all the time. Prayer summits also connect me to the heart of God as I am stirred by the prayers of those around me. They cause me to think higher thoughts, and pray deeper prayers than I would on my own. My view of God is magnified, and my faith in Him is strengthened. And then there’s the answers we see to corporate prayer. God moves mightily when His people come together for the purpose of seeking Him because He is worthy to be sought, and because we are desperate for Him.

So please join us for our first Intercessors’ Prayer Summit on Saturday, November 9 from 9-12. There is no cost for this event, but we do need you to register so that we can plan for seating and refreshments. Click here to register. Bring your prayer teams, prayer partners, friends….anyone who has a heart to pray and a heart for the metro-Birmingham area!

Leave a comment or fill out the form below to contact me directly via email if you have any questions.