July 11, 2019
Dear Point To Hope Friends,
I pray this update finds you well and encouraged! Your prayers have accomplished much for the kingdom of God. I know I can speak for Nancy and say, we, and our husbands, thank you sincerely. We are so grateful for the mighty fortress of prayers that have guarded and guided us throughout our many travels. To God be the glory!
Here in Alaska, the weather has been unusually warm! Sunny, sunny, sunny, yet not everything has a sunny side! We also have many active forest fires, as do other states. To help grasp the magnitude of these fires, the local news reported recently that a little over 4,000 personnel are actively engaged in managing wildfires all over the country. Over half of that number of personnel are here in Alaska fighting fires.
Thus, when the news airs the wildfire updates, it is common to see forestry crew men and women hard at work in their protective apparel. Just a glimpse of their gear appears extraordinarily hot and heavy, not to mention the several packs attached to their soot-covered bodies. Most of them look like they have just swept a chimney and their fatigue is evident by the way they labor with each step. Yet, day after day, they do it all over again. Still, the wildfires continue to expand and consume more and more of the land. These fire fighters are battling to save and protect lands and households for those they don’t even know.
Why the write up about wild fires and fire fighters? Personally, I am hundreds of miles away from the fires. However, the mountainous view I usually have is nowhere to be seen. Instead, my view is impeded with a low hanging haze that I can’t see through. Ever feel like we get this view spiritually?
It dawned on me, that we too are firefighters. We are spreading the good news of the gospel, and the enemy tries to burn and destroy any growth across the land with his fiery darts of accusations, lies, deception, division, hate, etc. Darts that set fires in our paths and cloud our view. No doubt there is a very real place called hell. Some may not want to hear about it, or acknowledge hell is at work, but that doesn’t make it any less real.
Praise the Lord, God has equipped us with a remedy! Prayer fights the fires of hell on earth. “Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one,” Eph. 6:16 / AMP).
Flaming arrows start fires! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this. Look at our country? Our world? Do you think the enemy has launched some flaming arrows? Are there wild fires burning, seemingly out of control? But be not dismayed! “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,” (Ps.24:1 / NIV).
The Lord has given us everything we need to fight against the wiles of the enemy. Like the fire fighters, we too are equipped with heavy weaponry to fight spiritual fires. And like the fire fighters, our prayers fight fires for many people we don’t even know. I am sure at times it feels like we fight hard day in and day out, yet the fires continue to grow! But the Lord says, STAND! Stand when your tired and fatigued. Stand when you and your garments look like the chimney won! Stand when the heat is intense! Stand with your heavy gear and equipment attached to your weary frame. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,” (Eph. 6:13 / NKJV).
We have to trust beyond the view of the close-up landscape and know the mountain range still stands tall and true; Whether we see it or not! If we fail to walk by faith, those spiritual fires can potentially cloud our long distance vision and hope. Then, there is a tendency to rely on the reports of others for ‘truth’. If you don’t believe this, just look at the condition of countries, the logic of people, and various attitudes. Let us fix our gaze and diligence on the steadfast mountain of the Lord, where our help comes from.
As I mentioned previously, I can’t see the mountains, but that does not change the truth that they still stand strong and majestic! Even though it appears ‘our land’ is being consumed by out-of-control fires, keep faith because the mountain of the Lord is standing mighty and true. He is fighting the fires that we don’t even see! Our prayers are fighting fires! He sees the whole world and He knows exactly how to lead us to fight the fires. Even when it is too smoky to see the distant mountains … He knows the most effective path to take when fighting spiritual fires; the ’control line’ as fire fighters would call it.
We always have a starting point when our view seems smoky. We can build ourselves up! Jude (vs. 20) … ‘Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit,” (NIV). A more in-depth understanding of the original biblical texts explains that praying in the Holy Spirit more accurately means ‘praying according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.’ It might take some perseverance, but if the Lord directs us to build up ourselves in our most holy faith and pray, then He will also strengthen us.
Speaking of holy faith, the July prayer target is: Holiness
Here is a verse and commentary from The Passion Translation Bible, 1 Peter 1:16, “For Scripture says: ‘You are to be holy, because I am holy.”
Commentary: “Everything about God is holy. True holiness includes justice, mercy, truth and righteousness. To be holy is to be absolutely devoted to God in all that we do, demonstrating who He is to the world. Holiness surrounds God’s throne and we are seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph.2:6). The Hebraic concept of holiness is “set apart”; that is, we are a people set apart for God, even as God is “set apart” from all gods. Grace has imbedded holiness into our lives, yet we are to make right choices and to yield to Christ and God’s Word as the Holy Spirit lives in us. Holiness is not merely actions we perform, but what we absorb and manifest as we live our lives in God’s presence. Christ is our holiness (1 Cor 1:30).”
Holiness! God is the author on holiness for sure, and the Holy Spirit is more than faithful to guide us in this pursuit. So what is the next step? I came upon an excellent starting point! No matter where we are in the the process of holiness, this next step, can be applied to all who have breath. It is a quote from Max Lacado’s book, When God Whispers Your Name (1999, p.20): “Self-denial is the first step to holiness.”
Yes, Lord, start with me! Easier said (or read) than done for sure. The ‘self’ part is a breeze! Attach ‘denial’ to self and that is a whole separate equation. Here is a nugget: Don’t resist the ‘purifying fire of God’ (it is part of our training). Scripture says that He (our Father) disciplines us for our own good, though at the time, it is not pleasant, but He desires that we share in His holiness. The outcome is that it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace (Heb. 12:10-11). Who doesn’t want a harvest of righteousness and peace, and to share in the holiness of the very one who created us? Let us find ourselves being willing to be trained by the disciplines that will produce a harvest of these traits. We may, at times, feel like those fire fighters at the end of the day. They may look sweaty and fatigued on the outside, but on the inside they are strong and brave. We must make every effort, build ourselves up, because the Lord tells us that without holiness we will not see the Lord. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord,” (Heb.12.:14). I am thankful He is willing to train us, because He already knows we all fall short. Yes, Lord, train us to be holy!
PTH Prayer Assignment for Countries / Updates:
I wanted to share just a couple highlights from the countries we were just in for the prayer assignment. So many of you are so very faithful to pray even though you may not always hear about the outcome of your prayers in detail. Still your prayers are going forth and not returning void and the Lord is so faithful to confirm His bidding with signs and wonders that follow. So here are just a few:
As you know, before going into any foreign country, Nancy has to go to the embassy of that country in Washington D.C. I guess you would say it is kind of the Lord’s way of showing He has granted spiritual authority for the specific country. So, at the embassies in D.C., we walk the grounds, as much as we are permitted, and find little signs symbols in the natural, as well as the nuggets the Lord whispers in Nancy’s ear. We make a note on paper of our discoveries, and then after we have visited the country we can go back and compare notes from the embassy in D.C. and the parliament at each country.
Faith-Building Testimonies … Results of YOUR Prayers:
When we were in the in St. Vincent airport getting ready to head to St. Lucia, the Lord told Nancy to, “Pay attention to numbers.” Here are the signs and wonders that followed:
our departure gate was #4
Nancy’s suitcase 44 pounds
Sarah’s suitcase 44 pounds
we cleared immigration at 12:04
And catch this: When I went back and looked at the embassy notes from DC about these particular countries, guess what the Lord told Nancy? “Pay attention to numbers”! Wow. And, you can research the number 4 and find all sorts of spiritual nuggets.
Your prayers are covering things we don’t even know to ask, but here are a few interesting details. Our ‘random’ driver picked us up to take us to the parliament. We couldn’t pronounce his first name so we referred to him by his last name: “Mr. Signh” (pronounced ‘sing’). So, we already had a little song going on in our hearts. When we stepped out of the car at the parliament building, our attention was quickly captured by a marching band decorated in impressive uniforms. Guess what song the band was playing? “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In”. And, as I am writing this, I am chucking to myself because another stanza in that song is, “Oh Lord, I want to be in that number…” yes, pay attention to numbers. Another song that the band played was, “Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus.” When we hear and see these signs and wonders, we are so encouraged to know that the Lord is clearly at work an we are on the right path. He is so creative in the ways He answers your prayers.
So many times in our travels, we encounter everyday people who just need a little encouragement, or whom encourage us along the way. The Lord cares about every detail of every life and your prayers are powerful and matter. We are encouraged by these encounters and pray you are as well.
Upcoming Events for Prayer Coverage:
Mid July-August: Very soon, Nancy, myself (Sarah), and you, with your powerful prayer coverage will be heading out on another prayer assignment to pray in 12 more countries. Capital Cities & Countries:
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
Majuro, Marshall Islands
Ketchikan, Alaska PTH Conference; Sept. 19-21, 2019
(see website for details: https://www.pointtohope.org/event-calendar.html
Please target in prayer:
Preparation for community and hosting facility
Again, know that your prayers are so effective and appreciated. After these next 12 countries, there will be approximately 92 more countries to complete (prayer mandate) by the end of 2022. Seems like a lot, but the half way point is in the rear view mirror! And much can be accomplished because of His faithfulness and the prayers of the saints. Glory to God!
Blessings to all!
PTH Prayer Facilitator