Tim and Jill Way

Adventures of the Way Family

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Hey friends! Thanks for checking in with us. We hope you stop by from time to time and read our latest stories and thoughts from the Way family, the Tulsa Boiler Room, and our mission in Uganda. God bless you!

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Leadership Development

Posted By on November 13, 2015

Last Friday we had the great joy of graduating and ordaining Seth Kittinger, one of the young men who was part of the Transit discipleship program I led seven years ago. Since that time, Seth has continued to develop as a follower of Jesus and as a leader. One of my great joys in life right now is administering and teaching in the Antioch School, together with my friend Gyle Smith from Believers Church. This is a church-based leadership training program and accredited seminary. Seth recently completed work on his Certificate of Ministry. We currently have four other students who are working on Masters Degrees, along with fourteen others who are auditing — going through the classes, but not earning credit.

In addition to the graduation, the leadership of the Tulsa Boiler Room agreed that it was right for Seth to be recognized through ordination from our body. What an amazing joy to have been part of his journey over the past seven years, and to continue to serve side-by-side with him in kingdom endeavors.

As the Boiler Room, and in partnership with Believers Church, we are also operating the Vision Course, a young adult discipleship program through 24-7 Prayer. Seth is giving primary leadership to this ministry, and it is my joy to support him and serve in different ways. One of my favorites is through coaching the students in the outreach piece of the program, and meeting with them on a weekly basis to dream and discuss how Jesus might want to use them to touch the city of Tulsa.

International Missions

Posted By on November 13, 2015

This week I am in the midst of researching travel to Asia. I’ve never been before, and am excited and nervous. I plan to be in Delhi, India, from January 9-16. I’ve been invited to spend the week teaching a group of leaders about Mentoring and Coaching. This is a subject that is dear to my heart, and one that I’ve been studying and practicing a lot over the past decade. However, I am deeply aware of my inadequacy to teach this, though I highly value the subject matter. I’d really appreciate your prayers. I am very excited to think of all I will learn from my soon-to-be Indian friends and partners in ministry.

After Delhi, I plan to hop over to Myanmar, to visit our friends, Caleb and Heather Overstreet and family. I know from experience the encouragement that a visit from the home country can be, and my hope is to be that for these faithful servants. I also hope to connect with other leaders while there, and learn what is happening in the church in that troubled but hopeful land.  The finaces for the India portion of this trip are covered, but I will need to raise more for the Myanmar portion.

It’s been a year since I’ve been to Reynosa, but Isaiah and Emily recently returned from a trip. Along with them and their team, we continue to pray for the Lord’s direction and vision for ministry there. We rejoice in the continued testimony of women like Blanca and Lucia, who have overcome addictions and all kinds of bondages to be free and vibrant witnesses for Jesus.

Uganda. Wow. It’s also been fifteen months since I’ve been to Uganda. I did have the privilege of coordinating a mission team from ORU, who went to serve with my friends last summer. I heard wonderfully encouraging reports of God’s work among His people. I continue to have opportunities to coordinate and train for this annual outreach, and am praying about my next opportunity.

For the past several years, I have helped to coordinate the missions team at Believers Church, which oversees the various missionaries and missions endeavors of the church.  We currently have missionaries serving in Ireland, Papua New Guinea, and a number of restricted-access countries.  What a joy to serve these friends who are being witnesses of Jesus all over the world!

Ministry to the Poor and Homeless

Posted By on November 13, 2015

Last Thursday we had a special evening with our friends on the street. One of our Boiler Room couples provided an amazing meal — pork tenderloin, mixed vegetables, mac and cheese, and apple pie. It was crazy good. After our Bible study, instead of lining up for food as usual, everyone was seated at a table. The food was brought out and put on the tables family-style, and a group of teenagers served everyone, being sure to keep the hot food piled high. So there we were — sitting at table and eating together. Homeless and middle class. Jesus-followers and seekers and uninterested. Addicts and students and old and young. It was beautiful. I squeezed in between my son, Philip, and my friend, Doug. Doug has been on the streets for a long time. He’s an admitted alcoholic, and is frank about his lack of willingness to give up the bottle — though he told me tonight that he is thinking that he may need to change his mind about that. I’m praying that the relentless pursuit of Jesus will eventually penetrate his heart.

Robert, a Thursday night regular, has been coming to Boiler Room events for the past six weeks or so, including our Tuesday evening Bible teaching and discussion. He is an eager participant, and seems determined to leave behind his old life of drugs, alcohol, and immorality, and to follow Jesus. He’s been making some poor choices lately, unfortunately, so please pray for him.

Our biggest event of the year is fast-approaching. We’ve spent every Thanksgiving for the past six years (this will be number seven!!) with our friends on the streets. This year we will set up in a downtown parking lot, and hang out for a good part of the day. We’ll have sandwiches, desserts, and hot drinks (there are several other options for full Thanksgiving meals downtown). We are also planning some games, and are bringing a big tv with us so we can watch football together. And we’ll pray and worship, and one of our friends from ORU is going to share a gospel message. Please pray that all who come feel the welcome of the Father, and that the gospel message touches the hearts of all who are there — and that some give their lives to Jesus. That would be so fantastic!

The Prize

Posted By on September 22, 2015

“Pray for me? No, God doesn’t care about us.” I looked past the middle-aged Ugandan man, to the small hut in which he lived with his family. And then at the other huts all grouped together, just a few feet apart. Hundreds of them. Thousands, actually. An “Internally Displaced Persons” camp in northern Uganda. For 20 years they had lived like this. Not starving to death, thanks to the good will of others, but never satisfied. No hope of leaving, or of anything better. Poverty. Dirt. Sickness. Crowds of people. Death. And fear covering all like a blanket.

I had just asked this man, naively it seemed now, if we could pray for him. His simple and despair-filled answer knocked the wind out of me, and I had nothing to say. What could I say? In a few days I would be back with my family, in our home, far away from this dreadful place. What did I know of his suffering? What kind of comfort or hope or answer did I really think I could offer?

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone that day. My friend Kasozi, a pastor from southern Uganda, was there. And he gently, but confidently, shared the gospel with this man. He shared about the love of Jesus that is true and eternal, no matter what may happen in life. He spoke of the God whose power can transform people from the inside-out. He even dared to speak of hope.

I don’t know the rest of this man’s story. I never saw him again. But I do know a couple of things. Later that day, I met with others who were in the same situation as he. Living in the same camp. The same conditions. The same lack. And yet they were singing and praising God with exuberant joy. They had discovered something in Jesus that brought them peace in the midst of this awful, chaotic, horror. Truly a peace “beyond understanding,” as Paul had claimed. I also know that, ten years later, unbelievably, against all odds, there are no more such camps in northern Uganda. The long, seemingly endless war is over. People have gone home, and are rebuilding their lives.

I know that later that night, in my room, I repented. I asked Jesus to help me to never again doubt His power. To never lack the courage to speak the Gospel. To never again believe the lie that I have encountered a person for whom Jesus is irrelevant or insufficient. He convicted me to the core of my being with the truth that Jesus Himself is the prize. There are billions of people alive right now who have problems that I cannot hope to understand, let alone solve. Refugees fleeing war and death in the Middle East. Women being exploited in Mexico. Men and women living on the streets in every American city. I do not have the answers. But for each person living in these realities, Jesus is still the great prize, and I can show them to Him.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:44-46)

The Kingdom of heaven is the rule of Jesus. It is the presence of Jesus Himself. Those who are in the Kingdom are those who have put themselves under His rule. They are those who know Christ and trust in Him. To be in the Kingdom is far and away the best thing that could ever be. Nothing comes close to comparing with it. In fact, it would be worth it to give up absolutely everything else. Reputation. Money. Possessions. Family. Friends. Safety. Job. Home. Health. Even life itself. If we gave up all of that, along with anything else we value, it would not even come close to having amy significance as compared with the Kingdom. As compared with being in Christ. Jesus made this point over and over in the gospels.

If this is true — and if we believe the gospel at all, we have to confess that it is — then what does that say about “ministry” to people? What does it say about love? What of value do I truly have to offer any other human being?

I can offer many things. I can offer money, to the extent that I have it. I can give my time. I can use my knowledge or my skills for the sake of others, to help them have a better life. I can offer friendship. Those are good. But, what if I could offer the most ultimate prize in the whole world? What if I could offer the Kingdom? Could offer Jesus?

What about those who are less fortunate than me, as far as worldly goods and position go? The poor. Refugees. Orphans. The addicted. Imprisoned. The homeless. What do I have for them?

Maybe another way of looking at it would be this. What is the biggest tragedy in a person’s life? Is it that they are unemployed? That they have enemies? That they are homeless or in prison or on drugs or in a refugee camp? Is it that people are trying to kill them? Those are all hugely tragic situations, and, as a follower of Jesus, I should do whatever I can to help overcome them. Without a doubt.

But I submit that there is a deeper, darker, and more sinister tragedy by far.

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:25).

Is it possible that we could help someone overcome drugs, and get off the streets, and get a job, and have friends… But they still be lost or destroyed? That we could in fact help them to ‘gain the whole world,’ and still they lose everything?

Or, looking at it from another side, is it possible to help people overcome the deepest tragedy of their existence (their separation from the Father), and yet much of their lives still be extremely hard? Is it possible for us to help someone discover the greatest prize in the universe, and yet he still be materially poor?

There was a time someone wanted to follow Jesus, and Jesus responded by saying, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). If you want to follow me, Jesus told this hopeful seeker, you’ll have to be homeless — at least for this next season. But it’s worth it.

Don’t worry. I am not advocating that we don’t try to help people get housing, or jobs, or stability in their lives. That we not seek solutions for refugees or rescue for the enslaved. Not at all. In fact, I’d love for us to do more along these lines. It is good and right for us to labor in this. It is the heart of our Father.

But in those discouraging moments when we all ask ourselves, “what are we doing?” there is a more significant answer. We are pointing people to the entrance to the Kingdom. We are showing them the field in which the greatest treasure in the universe is buried. We are guiding them to Jesus Himself. At least, I hope that’s what we’re doing.

Over the past six years, I’ve seen a good many people get off the streets into housing. And I rejoice every time. It is amazing, and worth celebrating. And yet, my heart still breaks for some of them, because they have not discovered the treasure. They have what they thought was the greatest thing they needed. A home. In some cases freedom from addictions. In some cases a job. They will often readily acknowledge that God helped them get what they have. But still many have not found the pearl of such value that they would lay down all that they have gained in order to attain it. And so, sadly, as Jesus warned, they are still on the wide path that leads to destruction. And my heart breaks. Some of these I have know well. We’ve shared many meals together. They have been in my home. We’ve talked about Jesus and His Kingdom.

There are others — and my heart hurts for them as well — who are still living on the streets, or in poverty, but they are living in the Kingdom right where they are. Do I want them to get a better situation? Yes, I do, with all my heart. But I also rejoice for them, because they have found what is the most important.

Sometimes we are tempted to let Jesus be the means to what we consider a greater end. We want people to encounter Jesus, so that Jesus will fix their lives. Sober them up. Get them off the streets. Jesus will not be used like that. He is after far more. He is the means, for sure. But He is also the great end. The purpose. The prize. The goal. The only One worth losing everything else for.

I often ask myself, or am asked by others, “What are we doing on Thursday nights?” I still maintain that what we are doing is hugely important. It’s not about the food, really. It never has been. It’s about us building relationships with the poor and the homeless and the outcast. But it’s not ultimately about that either. It is that through the relationships we build, we can actually lead our friends into the relationship that will change everything. The relationship with Jesus.

The prize is Jesus Himself. And He has given us the power and the ability to bring Him to others.

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

This is amazing. It’s what it’s all about.

Jesus is the prize. Our friends can know God. And we can help them. Sometimes — many times, I hope, by the grace of God we can help them get off the streets. Sometimes that won’t happen, or it won’t happen quickly. But even so, our friends can know God.

 

Good Friday

Posted By on April 3, 2015

It’s Good Friday. Words fall pitifully short in trying to express what this day means to us.

We commemorate today because Jesus died on the cross for people like you — whatever you perceive ‘like you’ to mean. The failures. The successful. Smart ones. Not so smart ones. Good people. Bad people. Poor. Rich. Happy. Sad. Leader. Not a leader. Important. Insignificant. Loved. Abandoned.

Jesus died on the cross for people like you.

I’ll take it a step further. He died for you specifically. I try to wrap my head around this one, and it can be so tough. But I know it’s true, even though I can’t comprehend it. Don’t know how it works. He died for you. The stuff you’ve done played a significant part in putting Jesus on the cross. Your immorality and your pride and your hatred and your drunkenness and your self-righteousness and your lying and your greed and your selfishness. Jesus went to the cross because you desperately needed Him to do something. Without Him intervening in an extreme way, you had no hope. Jesus went to the cross for you.

Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be tortured on the cross because He loves you. Not just you plural — but you. You! He wants you to be reconciled with the Father. He wants to be with you eternally. You are not hard for Him to love. He genuinely and sincerely likes you and cares about you. Yes, about you! You’re not too exasperating for Him. Too dull. Too lazy. To weak or evil or mediocre. You’re not too annoying or too far gone or too pathetic or too insignificant.

And His love makes all the difference. Some of you are going through tough stuff right now — and I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out in the short term (as in this life). But I do know that His love makes it ok. His love is so great and wonderful that the trials you and I face pale in comparison. His love sent Him to the cross. For you. How can anyone love you like that? How can the One with such impossibly high standards love you like that? I really don’t know. But He proved His love on the cross. What more can He do to convince you? Some of you are doing great right now, and are excited about life. All that you have is a gift of His love, and only His love makes anything significant or worth your attention. Rejoice in His love.

Jesus went to the cross because He loves you deeply and genuinely.

I’ll take it one step further. Jesus went to the cross for us. He died so that you and I can be united as one. He died for a bride. A body. A family. He died so that we can love each other. Jew and Gentile. Liberal and Conservative. Fundamentalist and emergent and charismatic and traditional. Cavaliers and Longhorns and Tarheels. Artists and business people and young and old and black and white and rich and poor.

Jesus died on the cross to make us one. His death makes us a family. Me and you.

Jesus died on the cross for just your kind of people.
Jesus died on the cross for you.
Jesus died on the cross for us.

Jesus died on the cross for me, because He loves me so much. Wow.

I am praying today that the Father convinces you even more of His love for you. I know we tend to doubt it… But Jesus died for you! He loves you!

 

Uganda 2014 — Part B

Posted By on August 26, 2014

Last week I was in a place called Kansenene, deep in the Rwenzori mountains of western Uganda. This is where my friend Israel Nabimanya has established a church and high school. It is an incredibly beautiful place, and the hospitality of Israel’s family was amazing as usual. I preached 7 times between Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon to a group of pastors and their spouses. I can’t even begin to tell you what a privilege and joy it was for me to share with these faithful men and women, who zealously serve Jesus and His church in the midst of hardship, poverty, and isolation. They inspire me.

We talked a lot about the gospel, and how our belief in it (or lack of belief) impacts our day-to-day lives in every facet of life. I shared about our calling to know, believe, live, and proclaim the gospel. The gospel is God’s power at work, saving everyone who believes it (Rom 1:16). But we often truly do not remember what it is, or believe that it is really true.

Again, the pastors conference was such a joy. I got to see several former students and friends. One man, Francis, used to host me or a member of our team every month for 2 years, as we held a training school in his village. I hadn’t seen him in a decade, and it did my heart good. Robert also came towards the end. I’ve stayed in Robert’s home many times, and had countless cups of sweet milky tea with him, as we discussed everything from the gospel to politics to church ministry to history to culture to whatever. Robert oversees more than a hundred churches, and spends his days riding his motorcycle all throughout these mountains to get to remote congregations and encourage and help them. I last saw him five years ago, when Seth and Tyler went with Israel and me to his home. He rode through the rain to come see me last Friday — the day before I left Kansenene.

Now I am in Mukono, teaching at Uganda Christian University. My students are from various parts of Uganda, and there is one from Rwanda. Some are teachers. A few are pastors. Several work for non-profits. Others in business. One or two work for the government. They are Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and one Catholic. Our conversations related to Ethics have been pretty charged and filled with energy.   I am excited to see what happens as the week progresses.

 

The Gospel

Posted By on August 26, 2014

We are called to know, believe, live, and proclaim the gospel. The gospel is God’s power at work, saving everyone who believes it (Rom 1:16). But we often truly do not remember what it is, or believe that it is really true.

The gospel is all about Jesus (Rom 1:3). I wonder if a total stranger came to the boler room consistently — to our teachings and our spuds and our social activities and worship nights — would it be obvious to him that Jesus is the reason we gather? That He is the center of our community? Of our individual lives? The gospel is all about Jesus — and our salvation and very life as a community of faith is built upon Him. At least, that’s what we profess.

Jesus is God’s very Son, and he became a man and lived a perfect life. In doing so, He revealed to us exactly what the Father is like. He also showed us how we as people are meant to live. More than that, He lived perfectly for us. He lived perfectly so that He could give us His perfection in exchange for our sin. And that’s what happened when He died. He made an exchange with us. We have His righteousness — His rightness — and all the rewards and benefits that comes with that. And He got our sin — and the punishment that came with that. This really is good news! He took our shame and guilt condemnation and brokenness. And we got His purity and wholeness and rightness. There is no condemnation for us now. Not for the sin you committed ten years ago, or the one you committed a minute ago — or even for the one you will commit tomorrow. No condemnation. No guilt. No shame.

Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered all that was darkest and most vile. He defeated death, and gave us the promise of eternal life. God Himself died and was buried in the tomb — the darkest and most hopeless situation imaginable — but He rose again. We are people of resurrection. People of hope. Jesus ascended to heaven. He is preparing a place for us, and for all who believe. We have a home with Jesus. We are family. He is interceding for us. He is praying for you. That’s pretty sweet. He also sent His Spirit to dwell inside of us. This is crazy. The very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives within YOU. Like, right now. And always. Even when you act like a moron (which, now that I think about it, is a really good reason to not act like a moron). Because of this, you can live a life of victory over sin. A life filled with things like love and joy and peace and kindness and faithfulness. A life of power and of witnessing to the reality of Jesus. Together, filled with the Spirit of God, we can reveal to the world what He is truly like. That’s crazy. But it’s our calling and our privilege and our purpose and our destiny.

Jesus is coming again. He’s going to make everything right. None of the evil in this world is going to survive. It’s days are numbered. Injustice of every kind. Poverty. Sickness. Violence. Hatred. Pain. Depression. Fear. You name it. It is overcome, and will be no more. Instead there will be joy and peace and goodness. There will be love and plenty and satisfaction. There will be true rest and true work and true relationship. True worship and true celebration. Because of this, you can take whatever muck life throws your way. The worst thing that will ever happen to you is absolutely nothing compared with the goodness and the wonder and the bliss that awaits you.

That’s the gospel, friends. I don’t think it’s really that we don’t know it. We just, kind of forget about it. We don’t think it’s relevant to our situation right here and right now. But it is! There is nothing more relevant to your current situation that the gospel! Think about that. I’m convinced that it is true.

Uganda 2014

Posted By on July 29, 2014

In June, by God’s grace, I was able to travel to Uganda with Believers World Outreach — a team of 30 people from across the US. Together we ran medical clinics for the poor, ministered to orphans and street kids, and shared the gospel with many. We also encouraged pastors and enjoyed fellowship with Ugandan believers. It was a good trip, and I am grateful for the opportunity. The team was eager to serve and fun to get to know.

One of my highlights was working with our friend Fatuma. Fatuma was a part of our family when we lived in Masaka, and she always had a heart for the street kids who populate that town. In fact, she was once one herself, and had been rescued and given a new life through the grace of Jesus. Now she actively reaches out to kids of all ages, and has a home where some can come to get off the streets. She showers love and acceptance on them, and continually shares the truth of God’s love and grace. Our team spent an afternoon sharing the gospel and playing with the kids, and were so impacted by her ministry and by the kids in her care. It was beautiful to see the work of Christ in and through Fatuma, having known this dream in her heart for at least a decade.

In an unusually quick turn-around, I have the opportunity to return to Uganda again in late August. This time I will be traveling by myself. I have been invited to spend the first few days teaching in a pastors’ conference with my friend Israel Nabimanya. Israel has been a partner in ministry with me for more than ten years now, and it is always a joy to come alongside him. Most of the pastors we will be speaking to serve in churches that Israel helps to oversee, and some have gone through the school of ministry that we established together in the early 2000s. Conferences like these have a lot of potential, because the pastors who come do not get many opportunities to continue their training, or to be encouraged in the often difficult work to which they are called. Many serve in very remote villages, and they often feel isolated and alone. I consider this opportunity a great honor and privilege. The conference will be held in the far western part of Uganda, deep in the beautiful Rwenzori mountains. I also hope to be joined here by some of our other friends – Kasozi, Kintu, and Tushabe.

I will spend the second week in the town of Mukono, near Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. Here, I am scheduled to teach a class at Uganda Christian University, through an organization called Development Associates International (DAI). I will be working with students seeking a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. These students are Christian leaders from all sectors of life — education, politics, law, business, church, etc. I will spend the week teaching Christian Ethics, and then will spend the next six months e-mailing with the students as they continue the course-work by correspondence. This also is a tremendous opportunity to speak into and learn from a cross-section of signifiant Ugandan leaders.

It Doesn’t Work! (for me) — Part 2

Posted By on August 15, 2012

Daily prayer. Consistent, intentional time with Jesus. Reading the Bible. Ok, so I do need it. And maybe I’m ready to think about trying this whole thing… again. It hasn’t worked before. But maybe there’s hope. I’m fairly skeptical, but maybe. So… how do I do it?

I’m going to give a few simple and practical ideas that I hope will be helpful. There is no formula for this. Remember, we’re talking about a relationship. The most important relationship of your life! And relationships can be unpredictable. And messy. And no two are exactly the same. Before I get to the ideas of what to actually do when you pray, there are a couple of important thoughts to get us started.

First, I urge you to begin small. That’s basic enough. Don’t try and be a spiritual giant in a day. Set a goal to pray and read the Bible for 15 minutes every day. You can do that. Eventually, you’ll probably want to do more. But don’t worry about that for now.

Secondly, begin simply. There are many places to go in the journey of prayer. There is much we can do in interceding for our friends, for our church family, and even for the world. We can soar to lofty places in adoration and worship. We can dig deep into personal consecration, inner healing, and total surrender. But there is plenty of time for all that. Begin with the love of God. Ask Him to reveal His love to you, and take a minute to receive it. Tell Him that you love Him, too. Begin to ask him for the things that you need, and tell Him about your problems, and how you feel. Yes, this is self-focused prayer, and not the most tremendous kind perhaps. But it is prayer, and it is vitally important, and God calls us to it. It’s a great place to begin, and to come back to often, no matter where we are on the journey.

Here are 11 (11 is more powerful than 10) suggestions for what to do with your devotional time. Be creative, and be you.

  1. Read one chapter of the Bible, and take a few minutes to pray whatever comes to your mind as you interact with the Word.
  2. Pray through the Lord’s Prayer – taking a moment after each line to reflect or go deeper. Or, in a similar way, pray through a psalm.
  3. Mix prayer with something else that you genuinely enjoy. A cup of coffee. An artistic expression. My favorite prayer activity during this season is walking in our neighborhood park. This has become a sacred place to me, as I have enjoyed fellowship with the Father there over the years.
  4. Journal. I often love to write out my prayers to God. For some reason, I find it easiest to listen to Him as I write to Him. I will sometimes have my prayer time at a favorite coffee shop, writing and listening to the Holy Spirit.
  5. Make use of a 24-7 prayer room. These provide a wonderful atmosphere of prayer. They inspire creative ways of spending time with God, and doing it as part of a wider community. For information on the Tulsa Boiler Room’s prayer room, check here: http://www.tulsaboilerroom.com/prayer/prayer-room-info/
  6. Listen to a worship song, and let that catapult you into a time of communion with Jesus.
  7. Mix it up sometimes, and do something different. Pray in a different location, or with a different focus.
  8. Use a liturgy. There are some great ones out there. You can use an online tool such as this one: http://m.explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/hours.php, or get a great book, like Celtic Daily Prayer.
  9. Pray in tongues. Seriously. This is a gift from the Father, and His gifts are good.
  10. Pray with others sometimes. This can be tough and awkward, but very rewarding. It brings greater intimacy with the Father, and also greater intimacy with your friends. You can use most of the ideas mentioned here in corporate prayer as well as individual prayer — such as praying through a psalm, using a liturgy, etc. (Note: Journaling may not be the best corporate prayer activity, Tyler).
  11. Remember to pray throughout the day. Turn the radio off in your car sometimes, and focus on Jesus. Turn to God for small conversations dozens of times each day. This works best when combined with a daily, intentional time together.

You will likely have many starts and stops. Lean heavily on grace. There is no condemnation. When I miss a meal, I don’t feel guilty – but I do feel more hungry for the next one.

Remember that this is about following Jesus, and growing in intimate friendship with him. This is his invitation, and it is the greatest thing in the world. You get to spend time with the God of everything, because He pursues you and invites you.

Jesus likes spending time with you.

(isn’t that kind of a freaky thought?)

It Doesn’t Work! (for me)

Posted By on August 6, 2012

Yeah, sure. I know. We need to pray and read the Bible every day. It’s important for us. It makes the day go better. We can’t get along without it. We have more peace. More joy. More love. More fruit. I know that’s all true. In general. But honestly, I tried it, and it doesn’t really work for me. In fact, I really can’t even do it. I just can’t. So I try and sorta pray throughout the day, go to church, and do my best.

Sound familiar? Many of us have been there at one time or another, and I believe many of you probably are right now. I’ve been there. But I need to tell you this: You really can do it. And yes, it is important for you. In fact, it’s really important. You cannot afford to ignore this. And from one undisciplined, pathetic pray-er to another, I offer this as an encouragement and (hopefully) help:

The Bible often talks about God’s Kingdom using the example of seeds. They don’t come up in a day. It’s the same way with other relationships. I can’t spend time with my kids once, and be disappointed that nothing amazing happened. In order for our relationship to grow, and for me to reap the benefits of that relationship, we need lots of time together on a consistent basis. The huge majority of those times are simply un-special. Some are outright tedious. But over time… it becomes something beautiful.

There’s no such thing as a bad quiet time with the Lord. There are many times when we don’t feel anything and don’t hear anything. The point is being there. So what if you suck at praying? Just do it anyway. That’s what matters. So what if all your praying is self-centered? Keep doing it. You’ll grow. So what if you never hear God’s voice? If you always get distracted? If you can’t focus on the Bible? If you hate mornings? If you don’t know what to say? Listen to this! There is a place for you in God’s heart. There is an invitation for you. He has promised to help you pray. But it takes time.

Remember Luke 18:1? “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up…” Jesus says you should do this. And to not give up!

Here’s another thing that might seem a bit shocking. We don’t just pray because it’s good for us. We pray because it’s good. We have been conditioned to think that the Gospel is really all about us – even though of course we know enough to say that it’s about Jesus. We “accept” the Gospel because our lives will be better. Because we need Jesus. Because we’ll find purpose and meaning. Because we’ll find fulfillment and contentment. Because we’ll get eternal life. Because we’ll get healing and wholeness. Whatever. But that’s all about us. Those things are right and good, and are certainly part of the Gospel. But ultimately, this whole deal is about Jesus. He is the center of it. We receive Him and follow Him because He is Lord, and that’s what we were created for.

So what does that have to do with the whole doing Bible and prayer stuff every day? Just this: It doesn’t have to be a good time for you in order for it to be right and essential. Jesus is calling you. If you are a follower of Jesus, remember that means that you are compelled to deny yourself and take up the cross daily (Luke 9:23). It doesn’t matter if it seems to be “working” for you or not. Jesus wants you to do it, and that makes it a HUGE priority. Remember that time people told Jesus that His mother and brothers were looking for Him? He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Lk 8:21). Prayer and Bible reading does not have to feel right. You don’t have to feel the growth. But you are called to this. How can you hear God’s word without consistently listening for it? How can you deny yourself daily without gaining the strength to do so from Jesus? You cannot. And if you try, you will, in a very short time, have given all you have to give. Jesus can renew your life. Daily.

Ok, so that part was kind of tough. But there is more. When you decide to live in daily self-denial, and to seek Him daily, good things do happen. Inside of you. When you decide that it’s not all about your fulfillment or your feeling good, you find that He gives you the contentment and peace and joy you’ve longed for. Again: it takes time. But, remember, He said we should persist, and not give up. Eventually He will work that revelation into you, and you will know that life is coming into you each day as you devote time to Him. You’ll have a conviction of this truth that is stronger than your fickle emotions. And – though it will still be hard – you will hunger and thirst for Him, and you will know for sure that you need time with Him daily.

One other important note. You don’t need to do this in order to be a Christian. Your salvation comes by grace through faith. You do not pray daily in order to become a Christian, but because you are one.

So… We need to pray and read the Bible every day. It’s important for us. It makes the day go better. We can’t get along without it. We have more peace. More joy. More love. More fruit. I know that’s all true. For me. For you. For real.