This is a very significant event we can all be a part of this coming Sunday. Prayer can move mountains! To be united as believers around the world is powerful. God is seeing us humble ourselves and call out our absolute need of Him.
Join with us this Sunday in your home, and send this link to as many as you can. (https://worldea.org/en/news/wea-calls-for-global-day-of-prayer-fasting-on-sunday-march-29-and-prayer-beyond/)
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
A group representing 600 million evangelicals encourages Christians worldwide to pray and fast on Sunday, March 29. Due to the current pandemic, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) developed the Global Day of Prayer and Fasting initiative based on Psalm 107 and the theme “Lord, help!” Though March 29 is a targeted day of prayer and fasting, the initiative isn’t limited to one day. “We hope to galvanize the prayer efforts and encourage believers to become part of the global prayer movement to intercede daily,” says the Illinois-based group.
On its website, the WEA offers a guidebook and other resources for church leaders. It also created a public Facebook group for global prayer and offers a profile-picture frame that reads “I’m praying! #Covid19.”
WEA: This Crisis ‘calls for humility and prayer’
“We are reminded just how vulnerable man is as a tiny virus…brings the entire world to a halt,” says Bishop Efraim Tendero, WEA’s secretary general. “It is a time that calls for humility and prayer to our Heavenly Father, the Creator and Sustainer of this world.”
Tendero, based in the Philippines, adds: “Prayer is still the greatest help that we can give… Let’s pray especially for all the frontline medical and government workers—for protection, good health, and wisdom in all that they do. Working together with God’s help, we shall overcome Covid-19.”
Other prayer movements are underway, including 24-7 Prayer, which offers a virtual prayer room and several guides. President Trump called for a U.S. national day of prayer on March 15. The following Sunday, Italy and England had similar observances. The Netherlands held a teen-focused prayer day last week, using social media and YouTube.
Louisiana Governor Also Encourages Prayer, Fasting.
March 24 was a day of prayer and fasting in Louisiana, which faces a spike in virus cases. Governor John Bel Edwards, a Catholic, cited the current “Lenten season where we focus on fasting and prayer.” He added, “God will, as He has done before, heal His people and our land.”
On Monday, Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Timothy Dalrymple, CEO of Christianity Today, co-wrote an editorial reminding church leaders that not meeting in person during this crisis isn’t a denial of faith. “It is one thing to risk your own life in order to worship together in person,” they write. “It is quite another to risk the lives of countless others, when so many churches are finding creative and compelling ways to carry on in worship and community from a distance.”
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 27 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.
This article originally appeared here - https://churchleaders.com/news/373187-save-the-date-global-day-of-prayer-and-fasting-march-29.html
We are all in the same situation this weekend as we get to grips with the sudden shock and knock on effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. As we process what it now means for our family life and work life, we are also knowing the knock on effect of what it means for church life and congregations.
Pastoring a congregation and carrying the weight of the needs of others can be overwhelming as we find ourselves in a complete unknown, both for pastors and leaders and the effect this can have on spouses and home life.
We recognise that those who provide care and support don’t often know where to access such support for themselves. That is often the same spiritually. Although our utter trust and faith is in God, the fact remains that we ourselves are still very human. We may at times feel overwhelmed, anxious or discouraged, etc. ESPS Ministries is mindful of the added pressure on church leaders at this time.
To develop our support, encouragement, and availability to you in these days there are a couple of initiatives we are working on that will come on line at some point next week. As well as prayer requests you can send via our website (www.espsministries.org) you will also be able to have a personal prayer appointment over the phone with one of our prayer team at an arranged time. We are also developing our FB page to include a closed forum so you we can chat and receive encouragement together. There are one or two other things in the pipeline - please keep checking in with our website next week for more details.
Our great comfort lies in the assurance that none of this is a surprise to God. What a great opportunity to get realigned to His plans and purposes for us as individuals and as a church body.
God bless you and yours. We continue to pray the blessing of God over you, your families, ministries, and the church in our land and beyond in these days.
LORD JESUS, we ask you to protect us from the coronavirus. You are powerful and merciful; let this be our prayer – “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalms 57:1)
JEHOVAH SHALOM, Lord of Peace, we remember those living in coronavirus hotspots and those currently in isolation. May they know your presence in their isolation, your peace in their their turmoil and your patience in their waiting. Prince of Peace, you are powerful and merciful; let this be their prayer - “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Saviour, for the glory of your name.” (Psalms 79:8)
GOD OF ALL COMFORT AND COUNSEL, we pray particularly for those who are grieving because of this virus, reeling from the sudden loss of loved-ones. May they somehow know your fellowship in their suffering, your comfort in their loss, and your hope in their despair. We name before you those known to us who are vulnerable and scared - the frail, the sick and the elderly. [pause] We also remember those doctors, pastors and family-members who are caring for all such people right now. God of all Comfort, you are powerful and merciful; may this be our prayer - “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)
JEHOVAH RAPHA, God who heals, we pray for all medical professionals dealing daily with the intense added pressures of this crisis. Grant them resilience in weariness, discernment in diagnosis, and compassion upon compassion as they care. We thank you for the army of researchers cooperating towards a cure - give them clarity, serendipity and unexpected breakthroughs we pray. Rise Sun of righteousness, above this present darkness with healing in your rays. You are powerful and merciful; may this be our prayer - “Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
GOD OF ALL WISDOM, we pray for our leaders - the WHO and national governments, and local leaders too - heads of schools, hospitals and other institutions. Since you have positioned these people in public service for this hour, we ask you to grant them wisdom beyond their own wisdom to contain this virus, faith beyond their own faith to fight this fear, and strength beyond their own strength to sustain vital institutions through this time of turmoil. God of all Wisdom and Counsel, you are powerful and merciful; may this be our prayer - “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Psalms 46:1-2)
“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” (Psalms 91:3-7)
“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” (Psalms 4:1)
May El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty who loves you protect you. May Jesus Christ, His Son who died for you save you. And may the Holy Spirit who broods over the chaos and fills your life with peace, intercede for you and in you for others at this time.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18)
Pete Greig - 24/7 Prayer
Fear is all around us these days. Fear of illness, fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of the coronavirus. Fear can be a very powerful force and be utterly debilitating if we don’t deal with it and get it under control.
We also face daily fears that are more personal and individualised to us, that can leave us in states of worry and anxiety. Fear in broken relationships, fear of financial failure, fear of trusting, fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, attractive enough, clever enough etc. As Christians we may also fear change, fear loss, fear church situations maybe even fear eternity. The list of fears in life is endless.
The good news is that the Bible has a clear and powerful antidote to fear - There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4v18)
As children of God, what a joy that He is faithful to all His promises towards us in His word. We get to walk in peace and assurance that we do not need to fearful of anything. God is utterly in control and promises to be our unchanging confidence and strength. Added to this wonder is how He invites us to hand ALL our fears, worries and anxieties over to Him, and leave them there! Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5v7) ‘Laying our burdens down’ aren’t just words of scripture or worship songs, but should be part of a heathy rhythm of our daily walk with God.
The Bible is packed full of wonderful promises and assurances. Perhaps we need to find a quiet space in these next few days and search out some of these precious truths for ourselves. Underline them, memorize them and most of all pray them into and over your own life and situations.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
“’For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” – Isaiah 41:13-14
Let’s intentionally arrest any fears we are carrying today and exchange them for faith in God’s promises and supernatural peace. In a life of uncertainties He remains unchanging. We aren’t to be swamped by fears in this life but instead find our refuge and our strength in Jesus.
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
We know the hope of the nations – it is Jesus! What a harvest of opportunities to walk in the opposite way of the age modelling and testifying to others where our help and our peace comes from. It is Jesus.
Our antidote to fear- IS Jesus. Jesus and His prefect love.
This is just a simple reminder today, to pause and spiritually self-care. There’s a danger we can operate on autopilot in a bid to help others when we would be the better of confronting and dealing with our own fears first.
May each of us trade in our worries and fears today and be renewed and refreshed in our hearts and souls to trust God implicitly with every situation that is causing us any fear in our personal life, church/ministry life or what is going on in the world around us.
May David’s testimony be your testimony today.
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4
We’ve all had those days. You know, the ones where you crawl into bed, makeup still on, wondering if it’s okay not to brush your teeth just this once. All the while, you wonder what actually happened to the minutes that evaporated into history.
There have been plenty of days like that for me, particularly as a young mom. But even now, when “new season” after “new season” seems to steamroll over me, I ask: Where is the time going? When do I get to catch my breath? I don’t have anything left to pour out or give to all the needs and cries for help around me. God, what does faithfulness look like when I feel so empty?
Sometimes, the old adage “The days are long but the years are short” begins to feel more like “The days are long and the years are long.”
What do we do as pastor’s wives when the never-ending demands pummel us? In many ways our calling is the same as every Christian’s—we’re to take up our cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23). And often the cross we bear is a call to give out of poverty, not abundance.
Filled While Empty
While teaching his disciples one day in the temple, Jesus used a curious example of godly giving:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41–44)
This widow—likely lonely and rejected by her society—gave everything she had. She held nothing back, entrusting herself to the Lord.
Do you live like that with your time and energy? Do you pour yourself out like a drink offering for him, striving after eternal things, like people’s souls? Do you surrender precious extra time with your husband to free him up to minister to others?
I don’t intend to encourage a reckless kind of sacrifice that leads to utter burnout, bitterness, and exhaustion, which is a genuine possibility for those in full-time, vocational ministry. I’m simply asking us to look deep into our hearts and examine our own expectations and perceived limitations.
There’s nothing quite like watching God work through your life when you bring absolutely nothing to the table. Those times strengthen our faith as we watch his strength supernaturally infuse us.
So often I’ve dreaded some commitment we made only to find that we received more than we gave. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve watched God bless others through me when I felt absolutely incapable of loving or caring for a sister in need. In fact, it’s often been my tears of exhaustion and discouragement, more than wise words, that encouraged someone on a good day.
How many times has the Lord encouraged me as I sat and listened to a friend when I selfishly wanted someone to listen to my hurts? Every time, I walk away reminded that God is good and everything he has for me is good (Ps. 119:68). Our desperation and lack highlights God’s power and strength. As Paul explained:
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. (2 Cor. 1:8–9)
God uses our weakness as an opportunity to showcase his power.
God’s Word for Empty Souls
But what should we do when our own hearts have turned cold? Where should we turn when we have nothing left to give?
Gratefully, God tells us in his Word. He says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1).
Jesus offers us rest in himself through the comfort we find in his Word.
Too often, we toil in our own strength and then wonder why we’re so exhausted. Like oxygen masks on an airplane, we must attach ourselves to the oxygen of God’s Word before we’re any use to others suffocating on the fumes of this world.
Sisters, it’s okay to say no to some things in order to be alone with the Lord. We must never neglect our first love for what we perceive to be more important work. To re-energize, take some time in solitude to feast on Scripture, listen to expository sermons, journal about the ways God has provided, or pray through the rumblings of your soul. Striving for balance requires wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
Crawling to Glory
If you feel you can’t walk today, are you crawling toward heaven? Are you reaching your hands upward while grabbing a church member along the way, trusting God’s grasp will pull them along too?
He’s strong enough, you know. In times of discouragement and exhaustion, we’re so prone to forget his past faithfulness. As the hymn says, we’re “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” But the next line is an invitation to trust him: “Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”
But what if you’re so depleted you can’t even crawl? Burnout and depression are real problems that demand attention and often outside help. But as best you can, make sure not to confuse this feeling with the day-to-day struggles of the Christian life. Our exhaustion and poverty of spirit can be met with the best kind of exchange: our burdens for his yoke. There, we’ll rediscover his yoke is easy and light, and we’ll find rest for our souls (Matt. 11:28–30).
So, the next time you crawl into bed, fully clothed with makeup still on, wondering what happened to your day, remember the widow. I’ve often wondered how many times she gave all she had and trusted God to meet her needs. Pray for opportunities to walk by faith, knowing he will provide. But don’t stop there. Remember the Lord’s faithfulness in your own life. What he calls you to, he’ll equip you to handle in his strength.
And sister, you know from the track record of your own life that he’ll certainly provide.
Erin Wheeler lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her husband, Brad, and their four children. She attends University Baptist Church, where Brad serves as senior pastor.
This article originally appeared here.
Serving in ministry has a knock on effect on our families and children that can be both positive and negative. Our angst is sometimes with people in friend groups, congregations or communities who may not treat our children well. At other times we need to recognise some of the tensions in our homes are caused by the busyness and stress from the overflow we carry from ministry demands. That can affect the whole family unit. Our children are ever looking on and will form their own conclusions from our intentionality or lack of it in how we consider them and their needs.
The following article gives us a little bit of food for thought. Hopefully it may even encourage us to prioritise dialoguing with our spouse and children so that we can form healthy boundaries in balancing ministry and family life.
It was at a funeral of a pastor that caused my entire perspective on parenting to change. A 45-year-old youth pastor had just passed away. It was sudden and unexpected. Tim was very loved and respected around the state, and the funeral was packed. The usual funeral elements were there. It was wonderful and meaningful. Then, Tim’s young-adult daughter got up to read a letter to her father. Within that letter, she rocked my pastoral and parental world. It went something like this:
“Dad, I remember teenagers would line up after youth service to talk to you. They would stand in line waiting their turn to share their heart with you. One Wednesday, I got in line because I needed to ask you something and I didn’t want to interrupt the others. What they had to say to you was important and I didn’t want to be rude. You then stopped mid-sentence and motioned for me to come forward. It was then you said, ‘You NEVER have to wait in line for me. You are the most important teenager in my life and in this church.’ Dad, that’s how you always made me feel.”
I hope my memory of this event gave her words justice because they transformed me. I sat in a puddle of tears. Do my kids, Cammi and Ethan, feel like the most important children in my life? Has my parenting ever been second to my pastoring? We’ve pastored a few hundred kids. Anne and I consider them spiritual sons and daughters. But did my kids feel that they were held in higher regard than any one of them?
I want to encourage pastors who are parents. I don’t want to heap on guilt that the enemy would love to use to crush us. At the same time, if this article can be the same kind of wake-up call that funeral was to me, then it will be worth it.
Here are seven essentials for raising pastor’s kids.
- They have more pressure on them than you realize.
I hear it from Cammi a lot. She has people apologize to her for what they do around her. She also gets left out of things (that aren’t sinful) that people assume she wouldn’t or couldn’t do because “her dad is a pastor.” She loves being a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid)—but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t frustrate her. People say ridiculous and, in my opinion, stupid things to P.K.s: “You should know better, you’re a P.K.” “Does your dad know you do that?” “I expect more of you because of your dad.”
That leads me to No. 2 …
- Let your kids be kids.
I’m not sure what “normal” is, but let them be kids. I’m not saying to stop parenting. But they need to be allowed to be children and not have to live out a certain persona. Are we, as parents, putting more pressure on them because of what other people are going to think? Is our desire to impress others and/or protect the “office of the pastor” stronger than the desire to allow our children to be, well, children?
- Be there for them.
I’m not saying you have to coach all of their sports teams (even though it’s not a bad thing to be involved in your community … but that’s for another post). You don’t have to lead anything (in fact, I’d encourage you to serve instead of lead in your local schools). But your presence is powerful. Your children being a priority and feeling like a priority (there’s a difference) are crucial.
- Only use them as a sermon illustration IF they give you permission.
I know a pastor who pays his kids $5 per illustration. My kids’ dad doesn’t hold to that policy. But the policy I do hold to is all about permission. I don’t share a story about them unless they know. I even check with them on details of the story. They don’t mind. Why? I don’t make fun of them. I don’t demean them. There’s nothing embarrassing. In fact, they love that they are a part of conveying the gospel. How did that happen? Permission paved the way.
- They should always have permission to interrupt you.
P.K.s know that you are NEVER off the clock. Everywhere you go, you’re the pastor. I’m Pastor Dave at Kfirst, at the mall, at Target, at the park, etc. I get stopped frequently in restaurants. I get contacted messages from people most evenings and have conversations over Facebook Messenger and Twitter. It’s just the reality of the day and age of social media.
BUT … my kids always have permission to interrupt me. Why? They’re more important than anyone in my congregation (with ONE exception: my wife). My kids always walk up and say, “Excuse me,” when they need my attention for something. Why are they polite about it? Because they know they are valued and they reciprocate that value.
- One-on-one “dates” with your kids are not optional.
Just as your relationships with your congregation build the pulpit you preach from, the relationship you develop with your kids will build you platform to speak into their lives. I still go out with my kids on dates. They both need individual time with me and it looks different for each one. Also, they need “collective” time with me. It’s a time where the three of us go out and have time together. You need both. If you don’t have time for that, it’s time to take a fresh look at your schedule.
- Don’t forget: You are “Mom” or “Dad” before you are “Pastor.”
You’re not called to be their best friend. If you try to be that, they’ll lose all respect for you. But you’re also not there to heap the mantle of P.K. upon their shoulders. They already feel the weight.
Be a parent. Love your kids. Show them they are the most important children in the church because, well, they’re your kids. It doesn’t mean they automatically get the best roles in the Christmastime kids’ play, nor does it mean people have to salute them when they walk by. It just means, in your life, they are highly valued and prized.
Please hear my heart: If guilt is what you are experiencing, then recognize it as a tool of the Enemy to anchor you to past regrets. He uses guilt to keep us from moving forward so that we drown in our past. We are all products of grace. We are all learning as we go. None of us are experts, and we all continue to learn.
If your kids are grown-up and outside the home: Call them often, send them messages and love on them. If there are wrongs from the past, repent if there needs to be repentance. If there are fond memories, recount them and celebrate. Continue to foster the relationships you have with them. No matter what, you will always be a parent and they will always be your kids.
If your kids are inside the home: Make sure they know how valued they are. I say the same things to you: If there are wrongs, repent if there needs to be repentance. If there good memories being made, recount them and celebrate. But don’t stop fostering the relationships.
I love being a parent and a pastor. I wish I did both better. But I believe that if we humble ourselves and continue to desire growth, God will continue to help us lead in both of these crucial roles.
(Dave Barringer is the lead pastor at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God in Portage, Michigan, and the author of Mosaic Marriage.)