There are two things that I am thinking about this Saturday morning as I meditate on Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem: 1. On Sunday, He wept, and 2. On Monday, He cleansed the temple, emphasizing prayer.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’ Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’ ” (Luke 19:41-44).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)
I feel that as we enter Holy Week, Jesus lays out two responses for me as I worship Him as King: (1) Weep for my country, and (2) Pray.
I saw a video of men literally turning over a shopping cart and throwing fists at each other in the parking lot of Walmart in Twin Falls. I read an article about the vandalism in Rexburg. I grieved over a food bank at First Baptist Church in Roy, Utah, where the volunteers unknowingly passed out treats to children where the candy had been infused with THC. I am angry over the computer hackers who bomb Zoom conferences among teachers and elementary school students. I weep over our country, crying out to God that He might revive our trust in Him. I repent and agonize over the spirit of self and self-sufficiency in the I-15 Corridor. I long for eastern Idaho to experience spiritual awakening and revival. I ask Jesus to make our hearts humble, repentant, and obedient to Him as our holy and high King.
At one time, our prayer meetings in our cities and towns were our smallest gatherings of a few people scattered here and there. On this day, Saturday, April 4, 2020, on the cusp of Holy Week, I am asking that the God of heaven and earth will turn all eastern Idaho into His Holy House of Prayer.
Here are some of the prayer requests:
- Please pray by name for those you know who have tested positive for the coronavirus. It is excruciating that we cannot visit, stand, and kneel at the bedsides of one another in homes or hospitals. But we must learn names, and we must lift their names to the throne room of God.
- Please pray for Blaine County. Please intercede for brothers and sisters in the local churches of this region, the locals, the wealthy out-of-towners, and the mayors of Ketchum (Neil Bradshaw) and Sun Valley (Peter Hendricks). I am acquainted with Pastor Jerry Reinke over in Hailey, Idaho from brief conversations in the past when he was the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Idaho Falls. Pray for this brother-in-Christ, his family, and his congregation, Valley of Peace Lutheran Church. Pray for the other local churches.
- Please pray for all our healthcare workers in all the hospitals. Please pray for the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) that is at the epicenter in our region. Pray for the ICU doctors like Dr. Kenneth Krell. Pray for the nurses. I would ask you to keep in prayer my wife, Kristie Wood, who is a clinical supervisor at EIRMC’s Women’s Center. Pray for pregnant mothers who have tested positive or might test positive in the days ahead for COVID-19. Pray for the little ones in their mothers’ wombs. Pray for the sick elderly.
- Pray for our mayors, our city council, and our business leaders. Pray for the small businesses that will not weather this financial storm and close.
- Pray for all our news media outlets that they will be able to craft stories in the days ahead that will strengthen communities to stand together and hope. Pray that they will not be afraid to infuse God fully into the narratives that are unfolding day by day. In God, we trust.
- Pray for our city school administrators and teachers who are plodding through new, unchartered territory and that they will be able to finish strong until summer break. Pray for high school and college classes of 2020. How can we celebrate in May for and with them in our communities?
- Pray for those battling addictions and struggling in their mental health. Pray for those in the homeless shelters and pray for those on the streets. Pray for the staff of Rescue Missions. Pray for our police officers. Pray for those incarcerated.
- Pray for all the local churches. I recently listened to a NAMB Zoom conference where Dhati Lewis was hosting Brad Brisco. They emphasized four themes: (1) Simplification (of our programs, activities, value-add-ons), (2) Decentralization (into networks, missional, small groups, and micro-churches, etc. so that we don’t have all of our eggs in one central basket), (3) Repurposing (of buildings – multiuse of the space), and (4) Bivocational & Convocational Leadership (ministry spread out among all the discipleship leaders in their holy vocations). After listening to this, I wrote in my sermon journal, “What if God does not want us to go back to a lot of the former ways that we have maintained and done Church?” Please pray for the Church of Eastern Idaho. On another note, over a week ago, Ed Stetzer published this article for church leaders, This Is Not The Crisis, But It Is Just A Few Weeks Away, Four phases for church leaders: (1) Phase 1: Pause and Innovate, Phase 2: Prepare and Plan, Phase 3: Engage and Execute, Phase 4: Recover and Reemerge. Please pray for church leaders.
The Lord has placed me in a rhythm of prayer each day at 7:14 am, 12:20 pm, and 20:20 pm. And yet, let us pray throughout the day.
Here are some of the praises:
- There is an incredible resurgence of prayer, both verbal and written. Let us see all that God does in our midst through prayer alone in our dependence upon Him. To Him alone be the glory.
- There is the power of personal connection. People are calling one another. People are doing extraordinary deeds of Christian love for those whom God puts on their hearts. Our cities shall know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another.
- There is the incredible ministry through our computers, whether a simple email or a fully planned Livestream service. The online, social media and internet ministry is extensive. We have no idea of the scope in how God is using our gospel proclamation in eastern Idaho and taking it to our Jerusalem, our Samaria, and then throughout the world. And with the preaching of the gospel, free resources are flooding the internet from parachurch ministries.
- The musicians are birthing beautiful, new songs of prayer and praise during these trials. I could spend all day listening to one song after another of singles, couples, and families singing these newly written songs in quarantine.
- There are the ideas of new church plants amid COVID-19.
- And here is the greatest praise of all. The King is on His throne, and His Kingdom cannot be shaken—earthly kingdoms, yes, but not His. And He has perfect love for His people. The good ending that He has planned will cause all the nations of the earth to see and behold His glory.
The joy of the LORD is our strength.
Tomorrow on Palm Sunday, April 5, there will be the gathering of Drive-In Church from 10:30 to 11:30 am with Pastor Jared Clark at Falls Baptist Church on the outskirts of Idaho Falls near Sandy Downs Arena. There might be a few other congregations who will gather in safe, innovative ways. But for the most part, the Church of Eastern Idaho will be thousands of house churches, scattered throughout Idaho Falls and Eastern Idaho, meeting in neighborhoods and out in their homes in the countryside.
May Jesus reign as King.
Roots by the river in Idaho Falls,