Praying for the City

Who wouldn’t agree that we need to pray… a lot… when we are faced with the insurmountable. But, “we need to pray” can become a phrase we say to segue to “the real work” of evangelism, servant-hood, social help, etc. Or it can at time sound tired, and almost empty, as if it’s the best we can do since the situation is, after all, insurmountable!

OM-Italy is convinced that the real work of ministry alongside churches, of servant-hood, of redemptive social help, and especially of declaring the Great News about Jesus, begins and ends with prayer.

“Our goal is to pray in preparation for ministry and outreach, pray throughout the campaign, and pray for the results after we pack up the tent, fold up the boxes, or put away the face-paint. We want to surround the ministry of the Gospel with prayer,” said Rick Harrell, discipleship leader for OM-Italy.

A recent cool Monday night, Rick and members of the OM-Italy team drove into the center of Turin to the Piazza della Repubblica to pray. In two weeks a team from all over Europe will join a dozen evangelical churches in an outreach campaign in the center of this busy piazza.

The area, locally called Porta Palazzo, is filled with high rise buildings of flats that surround the piazza and line nearby streets and alleys. The dense population is split among Chinese Buddhists, Moslem’s from various countries of Northern Africa, and a modest mix of various other nationalities, including Italians. Christ’s name is heard infrequently on the streets of Porta Palazzo.

Market day, everyday in Porta Palazzo, Turin, Italy

This night, however, the name of Jesus was heard, praised, and lifted up as the team moved from one corner to the next worshiping and interceding for the city, the churches, and the outreach campaign.

The format was simple with just a few words, or tags, to guide the prayer time.

Praise, to remember that God is Lord of this City. He is worthy of worship even in places other gods are honored. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and highest praise is due Him.

People, to remember that there are people groups, or “ethnos” clusters, that live here and need Christ. And more specifically, there are families, students, marriages, seniors, children, singles, widows, businessmen and women, all on the edge of eternity – and Christ left heaven to rescue them.

Pictures, to remember that God speaks to us and reminds us visually of what He has done, how He works, and what He delights in and longs for in this city. An image or metaphor brought to mind can be a catalyst for faith and prayer when we intercede (the Bible is full of these pictures, by the way.)

Promises, to recall that He has assured us that He will move on behalf of His children, and that He is active working in hearts and lives, even in the inner city of Torino.

Powers and principalities, to remind us that the enemy has designs and influential activity in the center city, that we need God’s Spiritual Armor to advance His kingdom, and that we can take the city for Christ.

The Italian word, inondazione, describes the growing prayer strategy of OM-Italy. “We want to flood the city with prayer before, during, and after the outreaches. Already, we see a coalition of churches who are reaching into Porta Palazzo multiple times this year. We want to see the churches and pastors join us in the streets and piazzas as we all intercede for the city”

OM-Italy invites you to join them in praying for Italy, for Turin, for Porta Palazzo, and for the outreaches planned on November 11 through 13.


MTS2 Session Eight: To Finish the Call Well

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Eight

Why Am I Here?  To Finish My Calling Well

To Finish Well – How Do I Gain Wisdom for the Mission Phil 3:12

Now that you have had a chance to reflect, maybe get away from the field for a few days and collect your thoughts, pray through stuff, you have maybe even gained some wisdom about missions. Especially since you have been on the field for a year or so. What wisdom would be good to share with a new person who was considering missions in your field?

Teaching Intro:
We have really enjoyed being here with you guys. Our lives really will never be the same because we’ve had this time with you, and we know more about Central Europe than ever. So, thanks for letting us into your worlds these few days.

For our last day of studies with you, we want to share with you a few points of wisdom that we have learned as we have pursued the call and the mission. Since we started our days together with a session on asking God the right questions, here are some of the questions we have asked and continue to ask when it comes to staying after the calling!

1. Is it “God’s Will” or is it “me will?”

A lot of times we talk about “finding God’s will for ME!” It’s like we whisper the “God’s will” part, but shout the ME!  God’s will is really a lot more about HIM and a little bit about me.
Remember: He is I AM; we are iamnot.
The-los – God’s will is “purpose, demand”, got to; but it is also, His “pleasure, desire” – get to.
“It’s His plan to will and to work according to HIS GOOD PLEASURE!”
2. Is God’s will a “dot in the middle of a target” that we aim for?
You’ve probably heard or maybe said, “I want to be right in the middle of God’s will.” That’s a lot of pressure on you – of all the mission organizations, of all the continents, of all the countries, of all the cities and villages, of all the streets, and of all the apartments. How could you possibly figure all this out on your own. One wrong step or miscue and the rest of the plan is kaput! Illus. God’s will is more a field with fences that are the commands, and there are places within the field that are better for you, that’s the wisdom, and there are things you do that God delights in, that’s the disciplines to learn to hear Him, and then there are the activities that bring Him glory by doing, and that’s the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Rick: Or perhaps God’s will is more like a path in the wilds! Sometimes broadens, sometimes narrow. Sometimes well blazed, sometimes less clear. Sometimes up hill, sometimes down. Sometimes more dangerous, sometimes safer. We can be wise, or unwise. We can live safely, or make unsafe choices.  As long as we stay within Biblical commands of holiness, relationships, pursuits; and seek Him first; and live wisely, the left bend can be just as pleasing as the right when it comes to a choice between two equals. And God works all the turns, all the ups and down, all the right and wrong decisions to His glory.

3. Is God’s will the “safest place in the universe?”
You may have heard people say to you, just stay in God’s will and He will keep you safe. Nothing can harm you there!
My experience has been really the opposite.
Rick: I had just finished a small group Bible study on the second floor of a small apartment building with a Latino family. I walked into the dirt parking lot and a rough looking guy met me there. Walked right up to me, and began yelling in my face and spitting. I could turn and run – and I thought about it. Or I could stand there and wait for an opening. So I waited – and finally got to say, “We aren’t leaving. We are here.” It was afterwards that someone told me he had a knife drawn and behind his back.
It is sometimes the most dangerous thing you can do to follow God. It’s also the most exciting. Don’t choose to live dangerously just to be foolish, but live the dangerous life of faith that represents Him well and follow His prompting and calling.

4. Is everything you need to know to follow God’s calling in the Bible?
Well… yes… and no. The Bible pours life into our lives, and all we do should align with Scripture. So don’t get our point wrong here. For instance, He says to us, go to all the nations. But you had to choose the nation. He says share the Great News wherever you go; but you have to choose who and what home or apartment or coffee bar to go into. There were places in some of the cities I have lived in over the years that I really just chose not to go into unless I sensed I had to. (When Susan served in Chile, it was the same.) Even Jesus told the “2 by 2’s” to stay where they are welcome – and at least a part of that is so you would have a safe and open place to minister and share in.

5. Are only Christians “in on” God’s will?
God used pagans in the Bible all the time. Most of the time, they didn’t know it was God’s will, and they did it anyway… with gusto! Sometimes they awoke to God’s will and knew what they were doing was bigger than themselves. And pagans ended up turning to the Lord God when they saw His power and will.
Sometimes, when the lost are confronted by His will and wisdom, especially as you relate to them – they will seek Him and turn to Him and away from sin and rebellion.

6. Can wisdom come from only “Christian” sources?
We seek God’s wisdom first and foremost in His Word. And acknowledge, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But we also get wisdom from godly friends, books, trusted authors and even sometimes, not so godly friends. He can speak through whomever and whatever He chooses. If it lines up with and points you back to a Biblical lifestyle, listen to it.
Rick: I was reading a recent copy of “Seventeen” magazine while I waited for my daughter to get her haircut. One section advised young girls to leave their boyfriends if all they wanted was sex.  Not a Christian magazine, but good wisdom and probably rescued a girl or two from wrong choices.

7. Does God speak to us today?
This is a tricky one that needs to be answered carefully. Illus. In my seminary days, the same person that would tell me God is finished with His supernatural revelation would ardently confirm to me that God called him supernaturally to the ministry. God speaks today through His Word. He speaks to us through wise counsel, etc. And he speaks to us supernaturally, confirming or affirming something we need to know, do, change, pursue, etc. Those “in the last days” things in Acts 2/Joel 2 that Peter affirmed can be a little scary. But whatever the form it takes it always lines up with Scripture; and never violates His written Word. But it sure can be very personal and clearly from God.

8. Can God only speak in limited or certain ways today?
This is the follow up question to the previous one, “Does God speak to you today?”  If you answer yes, then you have to ask and answer for yourself, “How does He speak?”  Acts 2, Peter recounts that in the last days visions, dreams, prophecies, etc. would be a part of our experience. I’m not here to shake up a theological bee’s nest, but God will speak in ways you need Him to if you give Him permission. You’ve probably heard the stories of how Christ has been revealing Himself personally or through an angel to Muslims in the 10/40 areas. And Muslims are saying “yes” to Jesus because He is speaking to them.

9. Can I really be doing God’s will if my job doesn’t use my “gifts,” “skill set,” or “talents and experience?”
There will be occasions, and even seasons, during which you will serve outside your passions. It’s best to work at what you love the most and are strongest at – and my feeling is that we should do our best to work toward this. But, it’s not necessarily outside of God’s will to do what you aren’t especially “skilled” or experienced at.
Some seasons in serving God, you may have to do things you don’t really like that much – so what, do it with all your heart as to the Lord. Somebody has to wash dishes; somebody has to hang out the wet clothes; somebody has to clean the toilet. I see servants doing these things who are leaders in the making. It’s the whole “faithful with the little things/granted bigger things” promise that we need to get in on. Jesus is our example and he came “not to be served, but to serve.” That value took him to his knees with a bowl of water and a towel, and I’m not sure we would have listed this in His top five “skill set” items.
And if you don’t feel like you are accomplishing “the calling” God has for you, and perhaps are doing a lot more “outside the passion” than inside, then find ways creatively outside the “job” that you can fulfill it. Ask your supervisor to bless this and help you make time and prioritize it.
(Illus. Ten Boom family – skilled watchmakers and business oriented, but known for letting God’s compassion work through them by rescuing refugee Jews from the Holocaust.)
When you are mostly doing things that are assigned to you, or your options are limited in how you can serve God, ook at it as a gift: 1) sometimes, you are freed from “all those options” you might have had in your other life or culture and, 2) the choices are simpler on how you can serve Him. The options are limited on what it means to “please Him” and it helps you redefine your relationship with Him and the world He created and put you in the middle of.
Rick: The key words for “wait on the Lord” infers more than “patience” – it also means to serve Him like a waiter. And it maybe limited what this looks like  — and He will renew you and strengthen you. So don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t all fit your expectations and “skill set.”
Also, you may say – but I have given up so much, my home, my job, and my stuff. So, you’ve got a good start on surrendering yourself to Him.
Jesus said you die to live, you lay down to get it back, you surrender to get, and you lose to gain.
When you give up what you “want to do,” you discover through His leadership what you “get to do.”
It may be that the most fulfilling thing is to make a difference in a homeless person’s life, or a child’s, or a coach’s, or a group in a recovering addict’s home. Do it with all your heart to God.

10. Is God’s will hidden?
Sometimes it feels like it is, and sometimes we are just too full of “me” to hear “HIM.” But Jesus told his disciples that he shares his secrets, his will, his plans with his children. Ask and keep on asking for His wisdom. And seek and keep on seeking His glory first. And knock and keep on knocking for His answer.
Give him time and He will speak.

We want to bring your questions back in now to see how God has met you and answered your prayers and perhaps your cries for wisdom. (Hand out the expectations forms. Let them look through them for a minute. Ask if anyone wants to share something.)

MTS2 Session Seven: To Reach Out

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Seven

Why Am I Here?  To Reach Out

To Reach Out– The Gift of Great News! Isaiah 55:1-13

Teaching: During this session, the table time will drive the process of discovering God’s covenant desire for witnessing, how He partners with us, the power of His word to multiply disciples, the surpassing goodness of the Great News, and the effect salvation has on the world.

We have all heard a few sermons on “Reaching Out” and “Witnessing.” What passages come to mind right now that you’ve heard preached on?

First Passage:
The message of the Great News starts with the Great Initiator. God reached out and gave the invitation to come to the table. God has formed an agreement, a covenant with us. God has completed His part of the covenant. He has completed the requirements to buy us back. He has given us freedom – Fullness of life – Joy uncontainable – Love immeasurable – Mercy unmerited – Peace unsurpassable. And that’s just what He has for us here! He has eternity’s Google calendar planned out for us. What we have is Great News!

Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.
I set him up as a witness to the nations,
made him a prince and leader of the nations,
And now I’m doing it to you
: 3-5 Message

1. When you share a secret, or good news with someone, what kind of emotions do you have?
2. What is the covenant that God is making with us? Name three things it includes.
3. What does “a witness to the nations” mean here? And to you?

Second Passage:
This covenant leads to an awesome partnership. He leads us, empowers us, delivers to us the Good News and forms in us a heart of compassion. Our job – obedience.
Rick: I had lived in Texas for nearly three years, and was driving back from a pasturing position in Dallas toward home in Fort Worth (about an hour away.) I spot two Mexican guys on the side of the autostrada hitchhiking. In the US we don’t usually pickup hikers, but I knew I needed to get these guys. But I didn’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English. It was a long and slightly uncomfortable drive, and I ran through the list of everyone who might speak Spanish. I found Mike at the dorm (a music major) and drawing the bridge illustration on the dust of my beat up “ministry car” and getting translation help, two new believers entered into heaven’s rolls.
Nations=ethnics (we see boundaries, God sees groups and families who need Him; we see barriers to the Gospel, God sees languages of the heart that the Gospel resonates with)

You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of,
and nations who’ve never heard of you
will come running to you
Because of me, your God,
because The Holy of Israel has honored you.” 5

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
8-9 Message

1. When you moved to your field, what was the first good “surprise” you got about your new country? What was your first “hard surprise?”
2. When you first arrived at your field, did you discover a “new country” in the area you never knew about?
3. In this passage, who is responsible for nations moving toward you and the news you carry?
4. Who carries the action in the second half of this passage? Who is the messenger? What is the message?
5. How does rain and snow compare to the “words that come out of my mouth?”
6. What is the promise of this passage?

Third Passage:
God works in ways both different and beyond what we expect. We might want to convince someone to trust Christ. We might want to make it make sense to them, or explain it in a way that is logical. We might want to argue them into the Kingdom.
Evangelism happens in a lot of different ways, but I think sometimes we complicate the process. 1) God is already at work in the life of the person we are sharing with. 2) Compassion is the best packaging. 3) The gift is the message. 4) It has to be opened personally. 5) Most people won’t open it unless they are invited to.
Remember what the first verses said – come if you are thirsty, hungry, want to be filled. If there isn’t a thirst already developed, your message becomes salt to make them thirsty.

“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
8-9 Message

1. Since you have been on the field, would you say that your ministry job is: a) poetry in motion, b) a mystery, c) a love story, d) history, e) a masterpiece in process
2. How does God’s work surpass the way you work?
3. How do God’s thoughts go beyond your thoughts?
4. Is it important to line up our thoughts and work with His? Is this possible?

Fourth Passage:
God is inviting us to His table, to His fountain. He says in this chapter no less than five times “Come.” No matter what you have been drinking, what God offers is better. Eating. Feasting on relationally. Spending your spare time on.
Susan: I was in a conference a few years ago and hear the story of a girl from Trinidad and Tobago – she had a really good friend who lived apart from God and really lived like the devil – no hope, unsafe life – she pleaded with him “God love you – you don’t have to live like this.” This man married her a couple years later.

“Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
1-2 Message

1. What is your market day like? Have you ever been aggressively talked into buying something in the market?
2. What does the market vendor’s call to “come” in these verses represent?
3. In what ways is the “food and drink” Jesus offers better?

Fifth Passage:
We really have a “one-dimensional” perspective when we share the Great News. All to often, we are thinking “no hell/know heaven.” Important – very important! Eternally important! But what happens to those around them if they are discipled so they can share their faith, too. And what about the generations to come because he or she will raise kids who will hear the gospel. And what about the praises the following verses speak about!  We can only imagine how significant one soul is to God’s heart!
“So you’ll go out in joy,
you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
no more thornbushes, but stately pines—
Monuments to me, to God,
living and lasting evidence of God.”
12-13 Message

1. What excites you most about seeing someone become a new Christian? a) potential as a witness to family and friends, b) excitement about their new faith, c) heaven’s new citizen, d) new worker in church, e) the cosmic effect of their salvation

Pray at your tables. Ask God to open eyes around you to the Great News. Ask Him to cause your life to be salt and light to the nations. Ask Him to give you open doors and boldness to give away this gift you have. Ask God to cause you to be faithful in this covenant to share.

MTS2 Session Six: To Love Intentionally


Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Six Why Am I Here?

To Love Intentionally How Do I Give Myself Away? Colossians 3:5-14

Session Intro:

There is one certainty in our work in missions – we need one another! For support, for encouragement, for redirection and correction, we depend on each other. None of us can do this by ourselves. It’s a God-sized Redemption Story He has called us to be a part of in sharing it; and we need His Spirit and we need His people to accomplish it. He wants us to work together in a relationship of serving and loving one another, and Rick will talk about how to go deeper in grace toward one another in our work in a few minutes.

Maybe defining the terms will help? Why am I here? To love intentionally. What does that mean? We are all still working on that “unconditional love” thing we talked about earlier. But intentionally? That means we make choices, plans, build into our schedules, work into our habits – acts of love toward our team mates, our church family, our friends and family, and those we are reaching out to. We make it … intentional.

And what is this about “giving yourself away.” You give yourself away each time your serve, you pour out the good stuff God has put inside you, each time you surrender a right or make room for someone else to shine. Giving yourself away is what we do when we live like Jesus – He came to serve and not be served. We give up to gain; we die to live; we are planted here in our new environment so we can bear much fruit. We give ourselves away; and he pours so much back in!

Teaching Intro:

Yesterday we defined grace as what? Yes, you can look at your notes… excellent. Blessing, favor, support, undeserved – it’s a gift.

A practical working out of grace is seen in the Fruit of the Spirit. Can anyone list these for me?

The ancients and Church Fathers called the Fruit of the Spirit the “grace-fruit”

• Love…putting others first

• Joy…being happy in another person’s success

• Peace…knowing you have clear relationships

• Patience…giving time for growth

• Kindness…listening & responding unselfishly

• Goodness…serving & acting for others

• Faithfulness…available to others

• Gentleness…strong but controlled toward others

• Self-controlled…reserving words and actions that might harm


God calls us to walk in grace, to grow in grace, Colossians 2:6 says: “Just as you have received the Lord Jesus, so walk in Him.” It starts with grace and we lived by grace from that day forward. In our relationships on our team, and in our churches, and those we serve, we can grow in grace. If God wants us to grow in this attitude of grace, where do we start? How does it begin?

1. Forgiveness Grace — Grace toward one another when differences happen. We get angry, forget to tell someone something, get left out of a discussion or decision, or say the wrong word. And get hurt, or hurt someone. To be right with God, we know we need to be right with one another. And we forgive. We talk. We go to the issue and resolve it. This is the basic level of grace. You and I have to make this level happen to work together, walk in unity, and stay in right relationships. The aspect of grace looks for fairness, and when you aren’t treated fairly, forgiveness grace needs to be extended.

Romans 12:18 “As much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Rick: I have not always done this. One of my secretaries when I was a pastor, for some reason, didn’t like me. Or at least this was my perspective. In reality, I didn’t extend this forgiveness grace to her, but worked around her, avoided her, and never went where we needed to go to make the relationship right. God wants us to live in forgiveness toward one another, but there are deeper levels to walking in grace with each other that we need to go to.

2. Surrendering Grace – means you are entrusting your good to the other person. Surrendering grace means you trust the other person with your well-being. You give this person access to your heart and to your dreams; you allow them a position of looking out for your best interest. You let them in, you surrender some of your “safety nets” to them, and trust them to support you, to know and look after your needs. This aspect of grace takes you to the place where you trust the person to be for you.

We do this all the time with our medical and legal matters, our automobile needs. We trust them – but we hire them to be trustworthy. In Surrendering Grace, we trust others because we have given them access to show us kindness, favor, and support. We just don’t go there with people very often.

Does anyone play cards a lot, or maybe poker? So you know what it means to hold your cards close? We hold our cards close in our relationships and keep our needs, our real needs to ourselves.

We just don’t give access to others to see us, know us and be for us.

• It may be because of earlier relationships that were painful or abusive.

• It could be you sensed being abandoned or pushed aside and forgotten at some point.

• It could be that you were wounded when you gave access at some point. No more of that access stuff here!

• Sometimes it’s just too much trouble to start all over with “giving yourself away” and opening your life and heart up (the ship) to others. You just don’t want to go there.

• Or it could be that you have adopted the mottos of the safe: “Everybody will hurt you eventually, so why bother.” Or “If you don’t look after your own interests, no one will.” Or “If you give someone an inch, they will take a mile.” Or “Everybody is out to get something. Everyone has an angle.” All these say: no access here!

(Let’s face it – we learn or perhaps unlearn how to give access to others in grace. We were watching the kids the other day, and sure they have conflict, but they say what they feel, and forgive, and play with abandon again. At some point, we begin to close up letting others be “for us” and really know us. We have to learn to move past the conflicts, back to trust. Yes, they are coping mechanisms and keep us safe from unsafe people. But, we also close out those who should be “on our team” in the most real way possible.)

Its like we deal with everyone on a sort of scale – at one end is the word “against” – these are people we just will not trust or extend grace toward. At the other end is “for” – and we may go there with a spouse or a best friend, but no more. And in the middle is “neutral” – our grace toward most people is neutral. And we know our work, our mission, our friendships; our creativity would be entirely different if we were for each other – if we gave access to have this kind of relationship. Not everyone on your team will be there for this kind of grace relationship; but going there with those who can be will be worth it.

3. Serving Grace – This kind of grace comes when we serve one another in spite of the differences, we go the extra mile to look after another’s interests. This is grace that says to someone else you want to be “for him or her.” It’s the grace that asks for a chance to know and love and serve alongside of, in a deeper way. This is the grace that does more than forgive – it loves, it serves, and it seeks to open the door of mutual trust and a “for one another grace.”

How many times does the NT use the phrase “one another” – this is what the Kingdom is all about. These are things we know. But our stuff gets in the way…way too often. It’s a good thing that God gives us fresh starts and keeps reminding us and calling us to Himself.

Closing: Read Colossians 3:5-14.

Everyday brings a fresh set of choices. God has given His followers a lifestyle that has both clear boundaries and plenty of room to grow and roam and experience life. The “don’t” of our faith-life are all there to make life and relationships work right. The “do’s” are there to replace man-made restrictions to freedom in Christ. The dividing labels listed in our verses today keep people apart, demean and belittle others, and tell them they are excluded and will never measure up. In fact, the central point of the Gospel is that none of us measure up when we use God’s standard. We all are people of grace, needing His and each other’s forgiveness and space to grow. God’s plan is to redefine how we measure one another. It is no longer the label, the heritage, the “bloodline” of our families, our education, and our jobs, or the name of our church. It is the simple truth that we are forgiven by the God who provided the Savior and Forgiver. That causes us to give plenty of room for those who aren’t quite like us, or worship like us, or dress like us… or, well, you get the picture.

Read Colossians 3:5-14 again, but put it in first person – I and me – and insert the word choose when it comes to choices in these verses. “I am dead to the things of this world and my new life is now hidden in God through Christ. I have destroyed the desires to sin that are in me. These desires of sex sins, anything that is not clean, or a desire for those sins or wanting something someone else has because this is like worshiping another god. I have put out of my life these things also: anger, bad temper, bad feelings towards others, talk that hurts people, speaking against God, and dirty language. I do not lie to others. I have put out of my life my old ways. I have now become a new person and I am always learning more about Christ. I am being made more like Christ because He is the one who made me. God has chosen me. I am holy and loved by Him, and because of this my new life will be full of grace. I will be kind to others and have no pride. I will be willing and wait for others. I will try to understand others, forgive others and if I have something against someone, forgive them. For that is the way the Lord forgave me. And to all these things, I will add love.”

Closing in Prayer:

Ask God whom you need to ask to pray for you. You know these guys in here well enough now to ask them to pray for you. Then I want you to get with this person and pray for each other that you would grow in grace. If you have a “grace issue” you want to pray for, take time to do so.

MTS2 Session Five: To Walk in Grace

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Five

Why Am I Here?  To Walk In Grace

How Do I Love My Team?  Philippians 2:1-11

We each learn to live by grace by choosing our words carefully. Married men, especially, pay attention to this next video.

Session Intro:
Let’s define grace. There are a lot of different things people believe about grace. How would you define it?

Table Time:
Having grace toward each other has a lot to do with how we deal with conflict. Let’s look at the following passages in our table time and answer the following questions.

Disagreements and conflicts in the NT
Look up the following passages (each group does one passage)
Luke 10:38-42
Acts 15:36-41
Galatians 2:11-21
Philippians 4:2-3

Then, answer the following questions:
1. Who are the main people?
2. Why (if you can tell) did they disagree?
3. How was the problem solved? (or was it?)
4. Why do you think this was put in the Bible?
(Two slides)

Teaching Intro:
Define grace:
There are a lot of definitions and acrostics that help us remember what grace is:
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
God’s Radical And Complete Embrace
Grace is getting from God what we don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what we deserve; judgment is getting what we deserve.

Grace in the Bible is “giving kindness, favor, blessing and extending support to someone who doesn’t deserve it “
Some examples from Scripture:
•    Jesus grew in grace or favor with God and man.
•    The church in Acts had grace or favor with all of Jerusalem.
•    Stephen was full of grace and power when he declared God’s message and was martyred.
•    God wants us to live by grace, demonstrate grace, and grow in grace.

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book Integrity writes that successful leaders always bring three elements into their relationships, ministry, work, or leadership.
1.    Have a set of competencies. That is, they are good at something.
2.    Have the ability to build alliances. That is, they get along with others and people trust them.
3.    Have the character to sustain success and not goof it up.

Grace is that element in our character that maintains trust and consistencies in our ministries and relationships.

Teaching Closing:
Read through Philippians 2:1-11. This is possibly the most practical passage on how to walk in grace. Look at how we are to live unselfishly and put others first, take care of other’s needs, stay away from selfish ambitions, walk in unity and purpose.  Why should we live this kind of life? Because this is what Jesus did and what He gives us we get to give away to others.

Sociologists have studied the way we respond to one another when we talk. When a conversation is broken down to the 1/10 of a second, one can see small gestures or re-posturing happen when the first person shifts or changes positions. Each shifting or gesture gets a responding re-posturing from the other person who is listening. It really ends up looking like a dance the way we shift our postures as we dialogue with others.
When we take the posture of grace toward one another, and live by grace toward those outside the church, there is a re-posturing in the culture around you, as the lost shift positions about what Christianity is all about, who Christians are, and really who Jesus is. A futurist from the 60’s said to the growing modern media industry, “The medium is the message.” (Marshall McCluhan) A huge part of the message you carry is the life of grace you live. We each have to declare the words of the Great News, but our lives are the message as well. Your life of grace attracts and reveals Christ to others and they will, on this side of heaven, bow their knee to Christ as Lord.

Close in Prayer from the Front:

MTS2 Session Four: A House of Prayer

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Four

Why Am I Here?  To Serve His Church

Becoming a House of Prayer?  Luke 19:46

Yesterday we talked about and practiced the action of prayer called Intercession.  This prayer is the kind that “takes a stand before God on behalf of another’s problems or condition.” But before we even started yesterday’s session, we knew that what God’s Word says about intercession and what we were going to engage in would be perhaps the most important thing we would bring into the weekend.  And the enemy seemed to take some annoying shots at the session:
1.    Rick’s computer froze
2.    The beamer went out
3.    The storm hit right in the middle of our time, and
4.    The morning was somewhat disjointed.
1.    We prayed powerfully for Montenegro
2.    Volker and Natia were here to get prayer
3.    The Lord Jesus was worshiped and honored here

There were some things we didn’t get to do yesterday that we feel would be important to our week together, especially in relation to intercession and the churches we serve alongside of.


First we would like to hear from you:
What ways has your field incorporated intercessory prayer into the lives of your team?
How have you tried to create a culture of intercession in your team?
How have you made prayer a priority?

Teaching Intro:

Define CHURCH – hospital, corporation, army, big bible study, small group, my family, temple of God, bride, established on earth for heaven, the church is me, a bunch of believers.
The Apostle Peter said CHURCH is a building – not the brick and mortar type, but a living temple or edifice.  Each stone perfectly fit for its place.
Jesus uses this metaphor, too. My house – shall be a house of prayer

For the church to become a house of prayer, we need to become intercessors!

Define “Intercession” and “Intercede” – in the Greek a compound word – “between” and “to go” – it’s the specific kind of prayer that takes a position before God on behalf of another person or people. Presents their case, appeals to God’s mercy, and asks for God’s active participation in changing the situation or condition.

Successful Intercessors:

1.    Intercessors keep their focus on God’s glory, eternity, and what He values while praying for the needs of a person, city, or nation.
Illus. Peter Lord, author and disciple-maker, said that in our intercession, we should keep our gaze on the eternal and our glance on the need.
Illus. C.S. Lewis quote from Crazy Love by Francis Chan says: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

2.    Intercessors are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Not afraid to hug, grab a hand, put a hand on a shoulder, no matter the condition of that shoulder.
Rick: When I was serving in San Antonio, a lady had gotten an infection in her leg. I didn’t think much of it – how bad could a leg infection be. She showed me her gangrenous leg and I covered it back up, and interceded for her through the cloth bandages. Not really hoping much – next Sunday morning she walked down the aisle to speak with me and we both rejoiced in God’s answer to our intercession.

3.    Intercessors pray early, late, long, short, and often.
There are four timelines for prayer in the Bible:
•    Unceasing Prayer – an attitude that jumps to prayer whenever the needs come about.
•    Prayer of the Moment – Nehemiah prayed a quick prayer before answering the king.
•    Extended prayer – hours, days, 40 days, etc.
•    Specific and consistent time in prayer – Acts the disciples when up for prayer.

One thing is certain, intercessors pray often, and seek to grow in their skills.

4.    Intercessors see the Church as victorious – the Church takes ground, advance, endure until fruit comes.

5.    Intercessors follow the Scriptures – we pray promises and what we find about the heart of God in the Bible. (John 17, the Lords Prayer, epistles)

Rick: Several years ago, I took a weeklong silent retreat and read through the NT, and highlighted every time prayer or one of the key words for prayer was used and spent time thinking about these passages. Prayer is all through the Bible, especially in the NT. God’s people pray, a lot!

God longs for a church that is a house of prayer, praying for the nations and for individuals, defeating the works of the enemy through powerful, “palal” (intercessory) praying.

Table Time:

Flip chart – Go back to your passages from yesterday’s table time on examples of intercession. Let’s write down practical intercessory principles from your discussion that we can use on our fields today.

Pray for the fields we have already heard from. Choose which one you want to pray for. Use the principles we have listed here to help you in praying for these fields.

MTS2 Session Three: Powerful Prayer

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro
October 2009

Session Three
Why Am I Here? To Intercede for Others

Powerful Prayer – Jonah 2:1-2

There are a lot of different ways we tell others we will pray for them. We say “I’ll hold you in my prayer.” Or “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” Or “I will lift you up.” Or just “I’ll pray for you.” But do we, are consistent to our word.

Here is a video clip that talks about one way we get prayer.

Table Time:
We want to start off with some table time. Divide into 4’s and each table has a section of the Bible to discover the following: (one group takes “Pentateuch” the next takes the OT History books, the next takes the Prophets, the next the Psalms and Proverbs, and the next the NT.)
Find two examples of Intercession.
1. Who was the intercessor?
2. Who are they praying for?
3. What were they requesting?
4. What was the outcome?

➢ Why are we here?
o We realize that you got here by prayer. You have a team of people who are praying for you. Many of you are in places that, if you were not praying and being prayed for, would not still be there. And your life and your ministry depend on prayer.
o Someone said that the work of most evangelical churches in the West – if prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit were removed –would continue as usual. We have to be careful not to begin to depend on our own skills, strengths, and experiences. Unless we continue to pray and grow in prayer, our ministry and our relationship with God can drop into a routine. We live and work in our own strength and God’s presence and power are absent.

Teaching Intro:
Define “Intercession” and “Intercede” – in the Greek, it is a compound word – “between” and “to go” – and it’s the specific kind of prayer that takes a position before God on behalf of another person or people. Then presents their case, appeals to God’s mercy, and asks for God’s active participation in changing the situation or condition.

Ministries and Missions that are experiencing consistent evidence of God’s power and seeing lives changed are making Intercession a priority. They are not just praying normal, everyday “bless me” prayers. They have at least four things in common (credit to C. Peter Wagner for the promptings for these):
1. Intercessors encouraged – they acknowledging that some people are gifted with a passion and effectiveness for Intercessory Prayer – and giving them ministry encouragement.
2. Surrounding Intercession – the are identifying important times in the calendar for intercession, especially during times when ministry happens, the Word is preached, outreaches occur – and they pray before, during, and after these times.
3. Calendared Intercession – they have calendared and created office space physically for intercession to happen consistently, so that prayer becomes a team priority.
In Italy, we are moving toward daily intercession, as well as pre-event teams who will intercede in the cities before we do outreaches.
4. Strategic Intercession Partnerships – they are connecting with other churches and with pastors and ministries who are passionate for evangelism, discipleship and God’s glory and supporting one another in intercession.

Jonah 2:1-2 – Powerful Intercession
Out of all the prophets, Jonah is not the typical example of intercession. You know the story well:
o Prophet of the Living God
o Vowed to declare His word
o Serving in Jerusalem
o Gets the call to deliver a judgment to Nineveh – biggest pagan city of his day. Hated among the Hebrews for their vicious treatment of Jews.
o Knows God’s mercy will fall on Nineveh if they listen and repent.
o Goes other way toward Spain and the end of the world.
Seems to do everything except intercede for the Ninevites.
But something happens in that fish. He hears from God, repents, and becomes an intercessor.
2:1-2 Not just the typical prayers – “his prayers go up before God” – he intercedes. “Palal” is the Hebrew word for this kind of prayer called intercession. It’s the same word the Bible uses for Moses when God was ready to destroy the Hebrews and he interceded for their sake and for God’s glory and fame. Deut 9:26-29.
James 5 is the NT example of “palal” prayer – powerful and passionate prayer accomplishes much. Not sure where you are theologically with God bringing mercy where he promised judgment. And God acting on behalf, or not acting on behalf depending on whether or not we pray. But while you straighten this out, you better be praying.

Illus. In the 1940’s God raised up some incredibly passionate prayer warriors that set the stage for a move of missions, youth work, discipleship and evangelism in the 60’s. InterVarsity, Christian Literature Crusade, Navigators, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade for Christ, and of course OM were all born out of a movement of dependence on God and intercession.
Dawson Trotman, the founder of Navigators, was led to take a map and list of California counties up into the mountains every day 5 a.m. with a friend. After one week they had prayed through the western United States, and at the end of two weeks they were across the nation. On week three they took a world map and pray for and point to and touch each country on the world map. They would intercede for these countries and ask God to let them make disciples in each culture. After 42 days a burden seemed to lift off of him. Years later, he was straightening his desk, found cards from people all over the United States and around the globe who had come to Christ because of his work.
When we pray “palal” we bring God’s activity and merciful judgment.

Pray as a group. Intercede for Montenegro. For their leaders. For:
1. The Work in Montenegro
2. Their leaders
3. Other mission teams
4. Churches and pastors
5. The Lost

MTS2 Session Two: How Big Is My God?

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro
October 2009

Session Two
Why Am I Here? To Worship Him

How Big Is My God? Jeremiah 33:1-9

➢ Why are we here?
o My guess is that there are patterns with new missionaries. Even old missionaries were at some point new missionaries. We feel adequate, up to the task, before we came. Something gave us a sense that we were created for, equipped for the field.
o Illustration: After all, I am a pastor, have been a long time, I have degrees, and my wife has degrees. She was a missionary, and besides, we’re Americans, too. Doesn’t this count for something? And after all, we have joined OM. 120 countries, 5000 missionaries… 50 years. Hot stuff!
o Our perceptions of a missionary give us an idea that we have what it takes to do it. Then we are obedient and go for it. Then we get here.

➢ What were you before you came to the field?
o What were your gifts and passions?
o What did you enjoy doing in Christian service?
o What did people recognize you for?
o What degrees do you have?
o What certifications did you acquire?
o What were your strengths?

➢ We bring a lot to the field with us and sometimes we even get to use these things. But with all the wonderful talents and accomplishments we bring to the table, the most important is our worship. In fact, the rest don’t even make the list with worship.

Jeremiah 33:3 BIG GOD, little me.
Teaching Introduction: Remember Jeremiah, courtyard, imprisoned, Babylonians surrounded, infrastructure breakdown, kingdom on verge of collapse …And the Israelites continued to say they won’t face judgment, because: God lives here, temple is here, priests are doing their stuff. They were certain that they didn’t sign up for this.

For them, nothing was more significant than this moment, nor important than this place, nor demanded God’s attention than these circumstances – God, at some point, had come to belong to them, rather than they to Him. He was created for them, instead of they for Him. (He had chosen them as a people for Himself, to declare his glory to the nations.)

They had forgotten that they were made for Him, and their story was a small part of a greater, God-sized redemption story.

Illustration: Louie Giglio (in his book “I am not, but I know I AM”) reminds us of this in a unique way – we are really small, and God is really BIG.
o Think how many centuries of people have come and gone that don’t know you.
o Or that 99.9(32 times point 9) of the people alive right now don’t know you and never will.
o And all but a handful will move on within hours of your funeral. We are small – and He is BIG. Not depressing, but liberating!
o We may be microscopic, but we are loved infinitely by a BIG GOD and our lives have the potential to affect generations. As long as we remember – He is God and we are not. We are created for Him, not the other way.

Illustration: Giglio says it this way – God is “I Am” we are all “iamnot.”

He is:
o Center of it all,
o Creator,
o In charge,
o Immeasurable,
o More than enough,
o Savior,
o Lord,
o All knowing, all-powerful – and it all holds together in Him. And he is doing fine with it all, thank you very much.

And all that he is, iamnot.
You have just come into the story that has been playing out in His wisdom all along – and the most significant thing we can do is worship Him in the midst of that story.
➢ God meets us in the moments of pain/joy – yet eternity is the span of his hand.
➢ God draws near to us in an intimate love – yet he is enthroned in highest heavens.
➢ God calls each of us his child and longs for time with him – yet, he has generations, and multitudes He is calling to Himself.
➢ God speaks to us in our circumstances – yet, the same voice holds the galaxies in place.
Illustration: John the Baptist – ministry waning, recognized key principle increase/decrease. Our gifts, talents, passions, degrees, skills, ministries we start, etc. – all are to shine the spotlight on Jesus. If they don’t, they are not worth doing. For he is God and Lord alone.

“There is not one square centimeter in the entire universe for which Christ Jesus does not cry out, ‘Mine!'” –Abraham Kuyper

Table Time:
Here are our passages for this morning. We want you to look up as many as you want to and focus on one passage and ask these two questions.
o Who is God in this passage?
o What does it mean to you today?
➢ Hebrews 11:1-6
➢ Psalm 105:1-11
➢ Psalm 147:1-20
➢ Psalm 139:1-18

Movie clip introduction: Giglio found an awesome illustration about God’s glory and His BIGness! –

➢ Jeremiah, after declaring the end of the world, as his listeners knew it, listed the awesome ways God would fulfill His promises. Remember, verse 3 speaks of the unsearchable, and the secret – meaning what God has already said and promised to do, will be brought to light. Now, look at 33:6-9. How does this translate to our lives and the people we serve? He will:
o Free them
o Heal them
o Rebuild them
o Cleanse and forgive them
So that – read verse 9! When we submit to the I Am (way, truth, life, resurrection,) who went to the cross. He declares to the nations what v9 promises!

Pair up and take the next 10 minutes to pray for one another. It would be best to pair up with someone you don’t know their story, but as God leads you. Hear a little of each other’s stories, then pray for each other that Jesus would increase in their lives as they decrease.

MTS2 Session One: Asking the Right Questions

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro
October 2009

Session One
Why Am I Here? To Know Him

How Do I Ask The Right Questions? Jeremiah 33:3

➢ What were your expectations like when we prepared to come to the field?
➢ What did you think about when you were getting ready to come to the field?
o Where would I live?
o What would my team be like?
o How would my language learning go?
o Who would respond to the gospel and my work there?
o How would the culture respond to me being there?
o What would my relationship with my home church be?
o What would my relationship with my local church be?
o Where would I shop, eat, hang out, find a new book, watch a movie?

➢ You don’t always get what you expect as the real world settles into our dreams and hopes
In an early Tom Hanks movie called The Money Pit, expectations were in for a harsh awakening. Hanks and his wife longed for owning and restoring their own old home. But the undiscovered details overwhelmed them.

When we come to the mission field and begin to adjust to the needs and capacities of the new assignment, we make shifts in what we are called to do. Our focus changes for a season in order to fit into the team or the rhythm of our family needs. It’s not that we change our reason for coming or being in missions – it all just adjusts to reality.

Teaching Introduction: Asking the Right Questions
Illustration: Successful men have the right answers; world changers and wise people know how to ask the right questions.
God honors people with questions. When you ask God tough questions, he answers. In fact, your questions:
➢ Say to God you are a learner,
➢ Say to your team members you are humble, and
➢ Say to those you seek to reach that you are authentic.

Jeremiah sought God’s answer. He was imprisoned in a military courtyard by the state police. The people he served were suspicious of him and his prophecies. Yet, they still hoped he would give a positive prophecy so they could avoid being overrun by their enemies, the Babylonians
He was calling out to God so Jeremiah could get God’s perspective, God’s solution, God’s revelation, and God’s answers.
➢ Ask the Right Person – acknowledging who God is became his starting point. Read verse 2 and the beginning of verse 3 to see where Jeremiah started.
Illustration: I am convinced that the biggest result of my personal time with God each day is a fresh revelation of who God is. When I bow before God, look into His word, open my ears to hear his voice, lift my hands in worship – I see in a fresh way how BIG God is!
The people of Israel needed this – they had “put Him in a box.” He was contained in “the temple.” And they wanted Jeremiah to fit the prophecies of what God said into this box.
➢ Ask the Right Questions – the word at the beginning of the verse here is to call out, cry out, or declare. He shouted out what God would do. But the word also means to request or invite. God was inviting Jeremiah and all who would believe in Him to invite His presence and solution into their problem.
Illustration: There are two types of questions that educators will tell you about: closed and open. Closed – are answered by yes/no/one word answers. They invite no relationship. They bring only a single level of meaning. – like “Do you like your wife?” Yes, no. However, open questions bring conversation. They invite relationships. They bring multiple levels of meaning and invite the input and involvement of the person addressed. For instance, –“What do you like about your wife?“ says “tell me all about her.”
Application: When you ask God questions, make them open-ended. We all to often say to God, “God, here is my plan, would you bless it?” What can He say? Uh ok? Make your questions to Him open. “God, I have worked hard on this and I want to see you bless it? What do you want to do with this plan, with me, and with those who are affected? How can it bring you glory? Who do you have that you plan to touch? Can I see and hear what you are doing in relation to this?”
Illustration: Do you remember what God’s first question was? “Where are you?” Adam’s answer could be a short answer, but the question called for relationship, return, repentance, and several levels of answers. And today, God is still asking this question of the world he loves so much.
➢ Anticipate the Answers – When you ask God to intervene or give input into your circumstances, do so with expectation that He will answer. What kind of answer does he give to Jeremiah? Great, mighty, hidden, undisclosed, beyond imagining kinds of answers. The word really means what God has already spoken and desired, he will reveal it! When our questions line up with His heart’s desire, we see his will revealed and his answers come.

Application: Jesus says to his disciples that he shares his plans with his children. When you ask God to bring His input you’re your life, expect his answers to come as not just words but his powerful hand at work in your midst.

Group Exercise: “My Expectations”

Expectations for the MTS-2 retreat – Why Are You Here this Week?
➢ What expectations, dreams, needs, questions do you want to see realized during the next few days?
➢ Write down your expectations and hand in these sheets with your expectations. Think of these expectations in light of the field and where you are now.
➢ Write down three questions you want God to answer, resolve, and shed light on.

Our goal this week during this hour is to create a place where you can connect with God:
During the next few days, we will have a chance to grow in our skills, discover some things about what we do and why we do them, to learn from each other, and to hear from God.
• In worship (heart)
• In study (mind)
• In discussion (voice)
• In sharing (story)