June 21, 2015

Dear Metro family,

Last night a family friend, and part of the Metro extended family, breathed her last breath after a long battle with early onset Alzheimer's. She was my age. My heart is with her husband, two children and grandchildren today. Another woman at Metro lost her mother on Monday. Another is battling cancer and her family needs us desperately right now. Many are battling diseases of many forms. Some are feeling alone in their sickness. Marriages are under attack. Children are suffering. Many addictions. Many are lonely, depressed, oppressed, hearts broken lacking purpose, feeling disconnected, isolated, wanting to run, even some wanting to give up. 

2015 has been a call to spiritual health, but...there's an Attack on many fronts: leadership, families, singles, youth...internal unrest...my heart is breaking for what's happening in our Metro family. 

I am feeling such a heavy burden for so many right now it's a bit overwhelming to be honest with you.

Maybe you are in a place where you feel guilty for the place you are in, when you see what's going on around you, to people you love. I am so grateful for the place my family is right now as we celebrate the wedding of my son Canaan this weekend. I am so grateful for the great place Tamara and I are in. God has met us in a powerful way. But I am surrounded by many who feel abandoned, feeling like enemy forces are on their doorstep.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 in Luke 4, where He says...

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

What's going on in your life? Great times or has it been a hard day? rough week? tough season... If not physically, at least emotionally! "Its just one thing after another" I've heard said more than once lately.  Stress, distress...  What about the people around you?

All of us face trials, some of us are not of the crisis sort presently, but we've been there. We are all under some pressure right now just living the Christian life on the Westside. Just trying to be a family at Metro and carry on Jesus mission together can be difficult.

What do we do?

I've been looking at the story of Jehoshaphat lately (2 Chron. 20:1-30). King Jehoshaphat was a man who followed the Lord and brought spiritual reform to the nation of Israel (19:4-11). But one morning his intelligence sources came running in with the news, A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea...(20:1, 2). Enemy forces were about 15 miles south of Jerusalem, on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphats life and the entire kingdom were on the brink of extinction! Talk about a reason to panic! So what did he do? What would you do if you heard someone's threats against your family, God's people?

Jehoshaphat said "I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on You."

 He put prayer first. He realized that he could do some things after he had prayed, but he could not do anything worthwhile before he prayed. Prayer was his strongest weapon. Jehoshaphat didn't seem to be worried about politics or his public image. He just knew that he was in deep trouble if God didnt answer, and so he openly admitted his weakness and called upon the Lord.

Jehoshaphat ... turned his attention to seek the Lord.

This godly king did the right thing: publicly admits his lack of strength and calls on God as his only help in this crisis. Then he calls a national prayer meeting and encouraged the people to trust God in the face of this overwhelming crisis.

Jehoshaphats prayer is steeped in Scripture. He starts by (20:6) reciting Gods attributes:

Next he recites Gods past actions (20:7): You drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and You gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever.”  He reminds God of His agreement to hear the prayers of His people when they cry to Him in their distress.

Finally, he calls attention to Gods ability to deal with the problem, in contrast to Israels inability (20:12). As the nation gathered at the Temple in prayer, the Spirit of God came upon a prophet in the assembly (20:14) who encouraged them not to fear and assured them that God would undertake for them in this battle without their fighting at all (20:15-17). When they heard this word through the prophet, everyone fell down and worshiped and then they stood up and sang loud praises (20:18-19). Then, based on the prophets word from God, the people got up the next morning and marched out to the battlefield, led by a choir singing praises. God caused the enemy armies to turn against each other, so that all Israel had to do was collect the spoil and celebrate the victory!

They literally won the war by prayer alone, without swinging a single sword!

I am in a place right now where I know I don't have what it takes to win this war, but I know who does. I know our strength corporately is not in ourselves but Christ alone. I know...

I am no Jehoshaphat, but I agree with him in this place of crisis for so many I love at Metro are in; "I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on You." I would like to openly admit my weakness and acknowledge His great strength.

Therefore, I am calling Metro to prayer. Desperate, honest, effectual, persistent...prayer.

Please join me in praying for our friends and family. Begin with praying for the people in your own sphere of influence and then come join us on Sundays beginning May 31st as we pray and worship together.

Im looking forward to praying with you!

In Him,

Pastor Steve

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