Praise the Lord for the Interruption!

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Men’s Prayer Advance 2018, Roanoke, VA

Sunday evening while we were worshiping the Lord in song as a church family, I received a text from a dear church member whose husband was in the hospital in severe pain. As soon as the song was finished, we took the opportunity to pray for this dear man and his wife.

During my visit in the hospital today, I expressed my appreciation for her taking the time to send a text so we could pray.  Immediately she apologized with a bit of embarrassment for the interruption.

At that moment, the Lord brought something to my mind which I shared with them.  Prayer never interrupts our Heavenly Father. Prayer never interrupts the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).  Prayer never interrupts the work of God.  Prayer never hinders the goings on in Heaven.  Therefore, why should stopping to pray be an interruption in our church services.  We have, I’m afraid, come to the place that in too many of our church services/gatherings our formalism has drowned out the Holy Spirit’s leading to change the service order so we can pray.

When I shared these thoughts with this dear lady and her husband, he without hesitation declared, “AMEN!”

Our churches would be so much better off, enjoying the presence of God, seeing His power at work, watching souls come to Christ, believers being revived, and enjoying the blessings of unity around the Throne of Grace if we prayed more (Psalm 85:6; Acts 2:42; 12:5; 16:16; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1).

Prayer is never an interruption!

A Touch of Heaven

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It is now 355 days away, and yes, I am counting, until we gather again for the Friday evening session of Men’s Prayer Advance!  Every year, I must say that it is a “little bit of heaven on earth.”  There is a genuine spirit of expectancy; a passion to worship in song, prayer and praise; a longing to hear the Word preached again; and an unparalleled unity among men before the Throne of God!

How is it that over 600 men gathered in one auditorium are singing with all their heart and voice, even if they have no musical ability?  How is it that these men are uninhibited in their expressions of love for God and surrender to God?  How is that men are willing to clap and/or raise their hands in praise, shout for joy, and even move to the altar in conviction even during a sermon, pray with such honesty and transparency, and not be ashamed to confess Christ before their peers?

I believe the answer is found in Exodus 14:30-31, Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. 

And then note their response to the Lord’s working as recorded in Exodus 15:1-3 and following,

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;

    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

2 The Lord is my strength and my song,

    and he has become my salvation;

this is my God, and I will praise him,

    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The Lord is a man of war;

    the Lord is his name.

The Children of Israel had been exposed to the character and works of God!  They saw, listened, believed and then worshiped!

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The Friday night service is a touch of heaven because we arrive on Thursday afternoon in need of a touch from God, a heart-change.  From the very first general session until Friday night, we are exposed to powerful, convicting preaching; many times of prayer with another man or in groups; CPR prayer (confession, praise, requests) in our Thursday half-night of prayer; Sweet Hour of Prayer on Friday mid-morning; breakout sessions that deal with men’s heart issues; and music that magnifies Christ, glorifies God, and lifts the soul!

So, when Friday night rolls around, you have over 600 men who are ready to worship because as we heard this year, “we are not cleaner, we are CLEAN” before the Lord!

You know, Sunday services at church, for instance, should be times of awesome worship, too, if we are being exposed every day to the Word and broken in prayer!  When you have a daily fresh encounter with God Who is your Holy, Loving, Just, Righteous, Awesome, Transcendent Heavenly Father, it will affect your worship!  And as Romans 12:1-2 reminds us, worship is 24-7 . . . not just on Sundays or Men’s Prayer Advance.

So, are you giving God Exodus 15 kind of praise today?

Are your co-workers experiencing salt and light (Matthew 5:14-15) and seeing Matthew 5:16 fulfilled in their lives because you have been exposed to the Son?

Will today in your home before your family and next Sunday at your church be a touch of heaven because you are clean?

As we were so challenged this year, we must “keep the clay wet” (Jeremiah 18:6); “shut the door” (Matthew 6:5-15); and “stay in faith” (Hebrews 11:6).

(If you want to watch the services, check out this site as well as the other links: Thursday NIght Service 1.26.17)

Been to the Holy Land Twice in One Month

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“Why go to Israel?”  “Aren’t you afraid?”  “You wouldn’t catch me dead over there.”  “This isn’t a good time to go over there.”  These are only an assortment of questions and statements I heard in the days leading up to our trip.

Why did we go?  Because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.  He is the most important person in my life and will be for all eternity. He died and rose again for me, and my heart and life is enriched by being in the place where He ministered, suffered, was rejected, crucified, buried and rose again for me and the whole world!

Why go to Israel? God’s Word is the most important book in my life.  His Word is forever alive (Isaiah 40:6-8; Hebrews 4:12), but it becomes 3-D when you have an opportunity to visit Capernaum, ride a boat on the Sea of Galilee, visit the Garden of Gethsemane, sing “Jesus Paid It All” in the prison where He was scourged, stand at the Garden Tomb, and walk the Mt. of Olives where Jesus will return at His Second Coming (Acts 1:9-11).

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My second Holy Land visit this month occurred last Thursday through Saturday as men from our church joined 600 plus other men in Roanoke, VA, for the annual Men’s Prayer Advance (christlifemin.org).  What an absolute thrill to unite with these men in genuine heart-felt singing; multiple opportunities for passionate, honest prayer; listening to soul-stirring, Holy Spirit convicting preaching; and watch God at work in changing lives for His glory!!

Israel and Men’s Prayer Advance, two trips to what I’ll call the Holy Land because these were days set apart to meet with our Lord, to know Him better, to hear His voice, to walk in His will, and to gather at His Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Oh, by the way, I’ll be walking in the Holy Land today, too, because everywhere I go, Christ is there.  He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrew 13:5-6); He dwells within me (Colossians 1:27).

And They Continued

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Men’s Prayer Advance

One of the most fascinating books in the Bible is the one penned by Luke, the book of Acts.  Every time I read the first few chapters and see the early church in action, my heart shifts into fourth gear, and it’s rolling!  What an awesome privilege to be involved in the much later years of continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ, not because of who and what we are, but because of Who and What  He is!!  Does it get any better than that????  Wow!

In the second chapter, I find a word that resonates in my heart . . . continue (2:42, 46-47).  These passages read, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The word continue means to “give constant attention to” (2:42) and “to continue all the time in a place” (2:46).  The first definition speaks of a daily attitude toward prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and the second refers to set times of corporate prayer.  Put the two together and you see that no matter when the church meets, whether on a Sunday or in someone’s home or at a small group fellowship gathering or in a leadership meeting, prayer is always a part of that meeting.   Interesting that the second word is in the present tense, therefore, this praying in community never stops; it is always an essential element of corporate gatherings no matter the size. And may I add, I really believe that this time of prayer is not just for the food or a brief time of prayer so we can move onto the rest of our business, service, or activity.  Prayer as we see in the early church was indeed their declaration of total dependence upon God!

If Boones Creek Bible Church is to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ as it moves forward through its 60th year of ministry, we MUST CONTINUE in prayer just as we see in Acts 2:42, 46.  Truth is, the Church really did not begin at Pentecost.  It all started in a prayer meeting in the Upper Room prior to Pentecost . . . These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14).

And they continued in prayer.

The Making of a Man: Men’s Prayer Advance

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Executives.  Missionaries.  Hunters.  Teens. Former drug addicts. Pastors.  White-collar/blue-collar. Musicians. Sinners. Millennials. Fishermen. Unsaved.  Broken.   Hurting.   Lonely.  Spirit-filled.  Disciples.  Multi-cultural. And I could go on and on.  This is a brief description of over 600 men that gathered in the mountains of Central Virginia for what is called Men’s Prayer Advance.  Imagine that many men coming to sing, eat, worship, listen to preaching, pray, sleep, sing, eat, pray, listen to preaching, worship and watch the Spirit of God work and move!  This is my third Advance in four years.  This is the highlight of my year as far as a ministry event is concerned outside of my own church.  Why is this Advance so special?

Uninhibited Worship From the time the sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and end at noon on Saturday, I am in the midst of men singing with gusto, praising the Lord and letting the texts of the songs flood their hearts with praise that comes out through their voices!  The songs include “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners,” “In Christ Alone,” “I Will Rise,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and “Father, I Adore You” just to name a very few.  Imagine standing with men as described above singing with hands raised, shouts of joy, tears, and real meditation.  I’m telling you, it has got to be a precursor to the heavenly praise that awaits us.  Men . . . worshiping the Lord.  I said, men.

Ambitious Praying – Ambitious is an adjective describing an attitude of prayer that is 1) “eagerly desirous to obtain success” (Dictionary.com) in believing, faith-filled prayer, 2) to have an earnest, eager desire for and in prayer, and 3) prayer that takes effort.  That’s the kind of praying we were challenged to give our life to on a daily basis.  That’s the kind of prayer demonstrated among the men attending the Advance.  To hear over 600 men crying out to the Lord (Psalm 61:2) in fervent prayer as we gathered many times in the Spring Center was an awesome experience.  Hands raised in pleading prayer; voices crying out in adoring praise and earnest petitions; tears flowing in brokenness before God; lives touched by the Spirit of God; and two men on Thursday night crying out to God for salvation (and testifying of it later on that night)!!! 600 plus men assembled before the Throne of Grace!!!  Wow!!  (By the way, no Super Bowl game holds a candle to that experience.)

The best part of the emphasis on prayer is what’s known as the “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Before lunch on Friday, we go someone on the camp site and get alone with God for one hour.  Here’s the statement that I’ve heard most from men after the “Sweet Hour of Prayer,”— “I didn’t know I could pray for one hour.  It went by so quick!”  Enough said.

Furthermore, I love what the name of this event says, Men’s Prayer Advance.  We are not attending a retreat or  in retreat mode.  We are advancing in prayer!!

Spirit-empowered Preaching – Every message I heard was like fresh manna from Heaven.  The power of God was upon the preachers as they delivered the Word with courage, compassion, and conviction leading to change.  Sitting under the preaching of an Irishman who has walked with the Lord for years was like listening to a prophet of God.  This man knows the heart of God and has learned His heart in the quiet place of personal prayer and the blessing of corporate prayer as well as meditation on God’s Word.  The practical, applicational, straight-forward, “right down where we live” preaching of one of the other men was a touch down from Heaven, too!  Powerful, Spirit-filled preaching exalts Christ and glorifies God.  That is what we heard many, many times in the main sessions and break-out meetings.  God honors the preaching of His Word!

Undistracted Meeting with God – There is something special about going way up in the mountains and getting away from so much that distracts us in our lives.  Cell phone service was sketchy at best.  The whole emphasis of the three days was simply meeting with God.  Nothing else.  May I say right here that every man of God should plan in his yearly schedule a time or two in the year to get away for a day to just simply meet with God in prayer and Bible study.

So, there’s just a brief out-pouring from my heart why the Men’s Prayer Advance is so special. Many, many times, in the moment of a song, prayer and/or preaching, I found myself saying, “I wish this would not end.”  So often I felt like a sponge just soaking in all I could in the moment.  Just think; that’s the way it will be in Heaven!

Men, are you advancing today?

Want to join us next year, January 28-30, 2016?  Check out the following link:

Men’s Prayer Advance

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40 Days of Prayer & Fasting: Day #19

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PRAYER ADVANCE!

What a name for a men’s gathering!!  One of the most exciting events of the year is the opportunity to attend the Men’s Prayer Advance in Goshen, VA.  As stated on the Christ Life Ministry website, “The Men’s Prayer Advance was started over 20 years ago by a burden to see God do a fresh work in hearts. The emphasis of the Prayer Advance is hot, revival preaching and heart-searching prayer times.”  The fulfillment of this goal is has left a real impact upon my life.  Every year we are reminded that this is an advance, not a retreat!

Just picture 600 or more men singing with all their hearts, hands raised in praise, shouts of joy ringing out as we sing, “In Christ Alone,” or “Come, Thou Fount,” or “And Can It Be,” or “It Is Well With My Soul,” or “Victory in Jesus”!!  Seriously, I believe it is a foretaste of Heaven.  Add in the Friday night men’s choir singing a song such as, “I’m Amazed that You Love Me” or one of the men singing “I Am So Blessed.”  That’s shoutin’ ground!!!  What preparation the music makes for the preaching of God’s Word that penetrates the heart and convicts us in such a way that we are moved to decisions for Christ!  The altar is full with men being transparent with the Lord and each other.

Another highlight of the Advance is the many, many opportunities to pray!  If the meetings are held in the large cafeteria, we are seated in folding chairs.  That’s important.  During the service after a time of singing, we may be asked to get into a circle and go to prayer.  The chairs are moved, men go their knees, and there is a unified chorus of intercession that takes place that I believe is an illustration of the praise around the Throne of God!  At any given time, we may have this opportunity as the leader of service calls us to prayer.  After the service, we are then able to go back to our bunkhouses, and there, we have another prayer meeting.  My, the honesty, the transparency, the crying out of broken hearts for lost souls and wayward children, the tears, the joy, the praise!  It is a bit of Heaven on earth!

The Advance begins Thursday afternoon and concludes Saturday at noon.  All we do during those days is sing, listen to Spirit-empowered preaching and enjoy excellent meals around a table of fellowship.  When we pack up to leave and head on down the highway, we can always say, “I have seen the Lord!”

I must admit, I long for this to be the norm at Boones Creek Bible Church.  Why are we so timid when it comes to praising our God?  Why are we so shy about One-to-One Bible reading with another individual in the congregation?  Why are we so slow to rise out of our seat when we are called to come to the front and pray for the salvation of lost souls?  And when we are gathered like that, why are we so quiet in prayer?  Why are we so timid about sharing a personal testimony of the goodness of God?  Why do we have to drive a distance to be in a prayer meeting, a singing gathering, a preaching service that you know God has touched down and is doing a mighty work in the hearts of His people?

Would you honestly consider the questions above in light of the following passages today:  Psalm 55:16-17; 95:1-3; 150:1-6; Acts 4:23-31; 12:5; Revelation 5:11-13.  If you are not a part of the Boones Creek Bible Church, reflect upon how you worship, pray, sing, testify, read, and listen in your local church, or for that matter, in the place you meet with the Lord in your home every day.  Are you advancing or retreating?

Believers, we need revival!  I will continue these thoughts tomorrow, but for now, will you join me in advancing and not retreating?

Reminder:  Our goal for these 40 days of prayer and fasting is that God would so revive and change us that we would both pray and act as the people of God for the glory of God!