Author: Todd Wood

I am a servant of Jesus in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Join me in seeking Jesus in this city.

The Early Church in Eagle Rock, Idaho

Scripture

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” – Matthew 16:18

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”  – Matthew 18:20

The Early Church in Eagle Rock

If 1865 is taken as the date of the beginning of Eagle Rock, then for the first 19 years of our community, the church met in homes and businesses and outdoor locations, as the first church building was not completed until November 1884.  But lack of church buildings did not hinder the early church in Eagle Rock.  In the 1860s and 1870s, circuit-riding preachers held meetings at Taylor’s Bridge.  Historian and former Idaho Falls mayor, Barzilla Clark notes,

“These gospel itinerants had personal contacts with nearly every man, woman, and child in their territory and were welcome visitors in any home or any group.”

Not that there were that many people here in those early years; the 1870 census shows only 23 dwellings and 75 people in the whole Upper Snake River District, Eagle Rock Post Office of Idaho Territory, an area that included much more than Eagle Rock itself. By 1880, the population of the Eagle Rock and Willow Creek Districts of the county had grown to 250 people.

The first meeting of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Eagle Rock was held in the home of James Richie on August 12, 1881. An article reviewing the history of Idaho Falls published in 1907 claims that the first church service in Eagle Rock was held in the home of Rebecca Mitchell, presumably in 1882, the year she arrived in the community.  The author of that story must have been unaware of the earlier Episcopal service, but undisputed is the fact that both were held in homes. In the fall of 1882, the first service held in Eagle Rock by a Methodist minister, Rev. F. A. Riggin, a missionary from Montana, was also held in a home.  Trinity Methodist Church was organized the following year and met in homes and later the school building until the Baptist Church completed their building in 1884, where they met for a time. The second church building erected in Idaho Falls was the Presbyterian Church in 1892.

So in the early years of our community, the church met in homes, and the first meetings of the early churches were in homes, as has been the case also for some of the newest churches in Idaho Falls.

No review of the early churches in Idaho Falls, or even the history of Eagle Rock, would be complete without mentioning the contributions of Rebecca Mitchell.  One history of Idaho Falls written in 1907 tersely summarized her 26 years as a resident of Eagle Rock and Idaho Falls as:

Rebecca Mitchell was the first school teacher, also the first Sunday school teacher, the first missionary, the founder of the Baptist church, and the first woman to be the chaplain of any legislature body in the world.

Another article, written in 1934, calls her “the guiding influence in all civic and social reforms in Idaho 30 and 40 years ago.” An Idaho Falls historian writes, “It seems that Mrs. Mitchell is identified with every good and noble work done in our city,” and then goes into detail about them. When she died in 1908, the newspaper opened the story of her life with,

Her death ends a long and useful career, she having been before the public in this state, working in the interests of right and justice for over a quarter of a century.

We’ve put her story as she wrote it herself in our book Jesus in Idaho Falls.* I’ve recently compiled a bibliography that lists one hundred and seventy-three sources of information about her, and I’m working on condensing this information into a story that will supplement what she wrote about herself.  I just want to mention a few things about her life and death.

When Rebecca Mitchell was 14, her mother died, forcing her to drop out of school and take on responsibilities caring for younger siblings and assuming more of the never-ending chores of a family farm in the 1840s. Married at age 19, four years later her husband died, leaving her with two sons, ages 1 and 3, which she raised by herself for the next 12 years. She then remarried and had two daughters, one of whom died at age 5.  God used these apparent tragedies to build into her the fortitude, courage, faith, and convictions that would she would need fulfilling her calling in the frontier town of Eagle Rock.

Rebecca Mitchell died in Idaho Falls in 1908 of a contagious disease, at age 74. The symptoms of this disease are almost identical to those of coronavirus, and like our present pandemic, her disease has a latent form in which no symptoms are manifest, but can later turn into the active, contagious form.

Tuberculosis confined Rebecca Mitchell to her bed for much of the last three years of her life.  But perhaps the best statement of her legacy is contained in this newspaper report, written well into her sickness but still 7 months before her death:

The W.C.T.U. will meet on Wednesday at 2:30 at the M. E. parsonage. It has been meeting for many months with Mrs. Rebecca Mitchell, in her room of sickness, and on this occasion it will repair to its usual place if thought best when the time comes.  Though confined to her room, and suffering much, Mrs. Mitchell does not lose her strong grip on all affairs relating to the welfare of her fellowmen.  She still prays and toils for the triumph of the right and the overthrow of evil, and she is not one who lives in vain.  Institutions and men which stand in the way of Rebecca Mitchell’s prayer and God will sooner or later come to grief.  They had better stand aside, for her God is the God of Moses and her faith is like that of Daniel.

Whether in sickness or health, may we follow Mrs. Rebecca Mitchell’s example of prayer and toiling for the kingdom of God.

Charles Barnes

For her own account of her life, see Section 5.2.1, Glimpses From My Life by Rebecca Brown Mitchell, https://barnescm2.wixsite.com/jiif/jesus-church-called-and-sent.

A prayer today for the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission in COVID-19

Dear God,

I am so thankful, Father, for the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, who are providing hope, help, and a future to the hungry, homeless, and hopeless in Southeastern Idaho through the power and love of your Son, Jesus Christ.

In your mysterious providence, you have allowed a COVID-19 pandemic to bring about social isolation for all our residents. So many resources have been closed to them. For the past weeks, they have been cut off from Idaho Falls Probation and Parole, the Idaho Falls Public Library, the new possibilities of job hires, face to face interactions with some of their mental health counselors, and vital opportunities for permanent housing.  Essentially, they have been quarantined, almost like jail, but not quite. It has been tough.

But we thank you, gracious Father, that none of them so far have been struck down with the coronavirus. Your mercies are new every morning! Great is your faithfulness!

I pray that during this time of social isolation these men and women will be drawn to you as the strong shelter in any storm. They have weathered many storms in their lives, but often done alone, clinging to destructive addictions. Wave after wave crashes over their heads where they feel like they are constantly on the ground and never able to get ahead of the pounding surf.

But God, guide them to you, the Lighthouse! Help them to see your light in the fearful darkness of the storm. No darkness can overcome your light, which pierces through the thick, murky depths of any despair or hopelessness. Save them, Lord, from their sin! Rescue the perishing! And then by your grace, give them the ability to navigate future storms in your peace and strength. I pray that they walk in your joy.

For the struggling in our community, I ask God that you would deliver them from their bondage to idolatrous addictions. Move men and women from the streets into safe shelter, and those in the safe shelter to good jobs, and those with good jobs into permanent homes. We desire them to be free, independent, and giving citizens in our city but totally dependent upon you every day, Lord God Almighty—their Creator and Redeemer.

Dear God, in every person we meet, “no matter how destitute” they are, may we see “enormous untapped capacity” in each one made in your image. May “we find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it.”

Dear God, I pray for the staff of the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. Thank you for protecting them from the virus. Fill their cups to overflowing. Bless their spouses. Take care of their kids. Shower their families in your love. Provide for them in miraculous ways. As you took care of the children of Israel in the desert millennium ago, lead and guide the brothers and sisters of IFRM.

I thank you, God, for them.  Give them wisdom as they follow Robert Lupton’s Oath for Compassionate Service as laid out in his book, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those Who They Help.

  • Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
  • Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
  • Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
  • Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
  • Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said—unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
  • Above all, do no harm.

Lord, I ask that you encourage all the IFRM staff as they balance your grace and truth. Be their shield and strong tower. They give so much and expect so little in return. Reward them with a double portion of your presence and power. Hear their prayers in tangible ways! Lift them upward and inward to your heart!

Dear God, I thank you so much for each one in Southeast Idaho who has partnered with the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission by supplying financial and food donations. I thank you, God, for the local churches, Christ’s Bride, who have made IFRM as one of their very own arms extended to the needy. Unite us all together as one loving Body in this city.

I thank you for the army of volunteers who have helped in so many ways. When this coronavirus cloud passes over, please bring back to IFRM the volunteers to accomplish your good purposes in our city. Bring new ideas to our minds. Revamp old patterns and ruts. Revive the joy of volunteering in ministry for you. And for today, Lord, watch over them and their families. Keep them safe.

God, I thank you for our IFRM donors. I pray that they would rejoice over the outcomes, not just in the future of eternity but right now. Give them a vision of what our city would sadly look like if there was no Idaho Falls Rescue Mission in the downtown area. Show them the bountiful fruit abounding in men and women’s lives through their giving. Help us, Lord, to unite with their hearts as they exhibit big, open hands for the poor, the abused, and the addicted in our city. Help us to cheer on the things that you have placed upon their hearts. Strengthen our relationships with existing donors and give us new donors, Jehovah-Jireh! As Steve Thomas of Oneicity.com would joyfully, contagiously exclaim, “It’s all about relationships.”  Help us, Lord, to meaningfully cherish the great gift of every relationship in this season of COVID-19.

And dear Lord, I ask that in your mercy, you could bring Jason Gray to Idaho Falls on Friday, May 22, for our IFRM Community Night of Worship. Being a month away, I do not know presently how all this might work; but I trust that you are in charge of every future week of our calendar in May. We worship you.

Expand your Kingdom in this river city through the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. To you alone be the glory.

In Jesus’ name,

Todd

Prayers for our city, Idaho Falls

1. Pastor Ken Feliciano, Berean Baptist Church (Facebook)

Master,

How I praise and worship You for You are God. You have all things in Your hands and because of this I know I can stand firm and sure in good times and hard times even when I am uncertain of what You are trying to accomplish. Thank You that even though our buildings may be closed down temporarily, the Church will never be closed down. We are Your people and as long as there is one of us to share Your love the Church moves forward.

Forgive me, when I jump ahead thinking I have the solution to a problem before I’ve even consulted you about it. Forgive me when I forget that I am called to serve You and others, and I allow my self-importance to get the best of me. Forgive me when I forget to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s true, we’re not able to meet together, but put it on my heart to call, text, email, and encourage others to good deeds. Forgive me when I don’t love You like You deserve.

Protect Your people, Your Church, in Southeast Idaho from fear and anxiety all the time, but especially during this crisis. Guard Your people and keep us true to Your word. Though the pandemic is all around us You are God. Your hand is upon us and You embrace each and everyone one of us. Allow our confidence in You to be real and apparent to others and guard us from being arrogant and insensitive to their needs or insensitive to their fears. Give us hearts of compassion and love so you may be glorified.

Wake up Your Church to the great need to complete the work You started by preaching the gospel. There are many who need Your love and truth and we have both in Jesus Christ. Show us how to take up Your Cross and deny ourselves for Your glory. Give Your people the courage and opportunity to share Your love with others. Give us the energy to shake up the world around us like the early disciples were accused of doing. Give us the discipline to pray for those who are ill and hurting, but most of all to pray for those who need Your love and need the gospel of truth. Give us the love to stand in obedience to Your Word regardless of how difficult it seems to do so.—–Magnify Yourself in us and through us. In Jesus name. Amen.

2.  Pastor Mike Ghiglia, Share the Son Ministries (Facebook), MorningStar Christian Fellowship, Eastern Idaho Pastors Coalition (Facebook)

Lord, first of all thank You for forgiving us, cleansing us, and saving us into your Kingdom.  May we never take for granted the inestimable sacrifice of King Jesus.  And thank You for the bountiful blessings and provisions we enjoy with every breath we take.  And thank You for the gift of prayer that changes us from the inside out by the Spirit with Whom you sealed us.  And on that note, Lord, may this time of unprecedented trial and uncertainty in our nation and lives be an opportunity for Your church to shine like the great city on a hill You intended it to be.  Bless us with courage, passion, wisdom and humility as we take the glorious gospel of salvation into the world in word and deed.  May You be exalted for You alone are Lord!  Amen.

3.  Pastor Warren Cuppy, Dubois Community Baptist Church, Providence Downtown Church (Facebook)

All-powerful, All-knowing, Ever-present Father, loving and merciful Lord, Our Salvation, Our Healer, Our Provider and Our Sanctifier, please hear our prayer.

All-knowing Father will you search the hearts of your people here in Idaho Falls, And will You try us and expose our sin and our faithlessness?  And Lord, will You please, in Your abundant grace, begin with me?   Will You bring Your people here in Idaho Falls to a place of repentance, and will You give us the strength and courage to live our lives fully for You?

Father, will You convince our neighbors who don’t know You of sin, righteousness and judgment, for Your judgment is perfect, Your grace and love are eternal?  Will You send Your people here to preach and live out Your good news and will You break our hearts for the lost neighbors?

Everlasting Lord, thank You for Your care and goodwill toward Your people. You have prospered us here, Lord that we would find favor with our neighbors so that they might see You in us, Your Church in Idaho Falls.  Thank you, Lord, for the trials that cause us to grow strong in our faith in You.  Thank You for the move of unity that You have begun amongst Your people here, may it continue to grow so that You will be presented with a beautiful spotless bride on that glorious day.

Will you fill our hearts with Your agape love, with Your compassion, and with Your kindness, so that we will be Your peculiar people?

Father, will you build in us Your love and compassion for the homeless, for the hungry, for those who are imprisoned and for those in our hospitals?  Lord, will you deliver those enslaved by addictions of any kind?  We know that the victory is only through You.

And Father, will You, in Your infinite mercy, bring healing amongst us, spiritual, physical, and emotional healing? Will You rid us of the illness that has not only crippled our society but that has handicapped Your Church?  Will You remove the shadow of fear that has overtaken us, will You strengthen Your people here even in times of calamity that we might all look into Your face?

Precious Father, we know that there is nothing impossible with You!

Thank You, Glorious Father, for hearing our prayer and for the move of Your Holy Spirit here in Your town of Idaho Falls.

In the name of Jesus our Savior we pray,

Amen

4. Pastor Oscar Perdomo, Fuente De Restauracion, (Facebook)

Dear Lord, as I gather my thoughts, the only thing of great importance above everything else I can ask for is, lifting up the name of Jesus Christ in the city of Idaho Falls.

Through the years, Lord, you have put in the hearts of pastors of East Idaho to ask for a revival; and, Lord, you have opened doors of opportunity during these difficult times; so I just ask that we as your church embrace with boldness the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ,  help the needy, and give Agape love, transparent love, sincere love to the people of Idaho Falls.

Lord, knowing that your kingdom come and your will be done is far more excellent than anything I can ask for.  For you know all things!!! Nothing can escape from you!!! Your love is farther than the east is from the west!!!!

Lord, please hear the cry of your people as we gather our prayers and intercede for Idaho Falls in the place, we call home.  Amen!!!

Your servant in Jesus Christ

5. Pastor emeritus, Larry Cudmore, First Evangelical Lutheran Church (Facebook), Champs Heart

Our Father, we come before your in the name of Jesus today. We lift before you our city and those essential workers who put their lives on the front lines to keep us safe. We pray you will bless them and their families and guard them with your angels. We also pray that those who have the resources will dig deep to help the most vulnerable among us with the needs that they have for themselves and their families. We pray that these days will work to draw us closer to you. We think we know what we need, but you are the one who knows what we need. We surrender ourselves to your will this day, that your will may be done among us. We pray for your will be done. We pray that we will not fall into the prison of calling you good only when things are going our way. Lord have mercy on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

6. Pastor Jared Clark, Falls Baptist Church (Facebook)

Father,

I again come to you in the name of your Son, Jesus.  I am so thankful He stands as my mediator; where I can come boldly to your throne of grace, that I may find grace and mercy in times of need. It is once again one of those times of need, Father.  It is a time where I am struggling to align my thoughts and actions with my theology. It is a time where I stand before your people and declare your sovereign control but awake the same night with fear of the unknown. I fear for the future of my children. I fear for the future of our local church body. I fear for the future of my city. I fear for the future of my country. Yet, your Word declares that Christ is before all things and by him all things hold together.  Forgive me for my lack of faith and trust in you, Father.

Help me to walk not in fear, but instead be empowered by your Spirit. Father, please renew my mind so that my thoughts and actions align with who You truly are.  Help me Father, to be the under-shepherd your people deserve. An under-shepherd that is filled with your Spirit and not of himself.  May your Spirit also work mightily in those you have allowed me to lead. May it also be for those in other local assemblies throughout the Valley. For it is the only way we will be of any use for your Kingdom work here in Idaho Falls. I am reminded when Zechariah told Zerubbabel: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”  So be it, Lord.

It is my prayer that you would use a Spirit-empowered Church to magnify your Name.  That you would use your Church to shine your light brightly in the midst of the darkness that has descended upon our land. Father, as we trust in you, and walk by your Spirit, would you glorify your Name by bringing many into your family through the effectual proclamation of the Gospel. None of what I just said can happen, Lord, unless your Spirit moves and you extend your mercy and grace not only upon your Church, but also upon the community you have placed us in. As Paul declared about his Jewish neighbors we can also declare that many of our neighbors have a great zeal for God but not according to knowledge.  They are a people in great need of your mercy and grace, Father.  We are a Church in great need of your continued mercy and grace.  Thank you, Father, for all you have done and will do. Your will be done.

7. Pastor Matt McGukin, Calvary Baptist Church (Facebook)

Lord Jesus,

I cry out to you on behalf of our city. Would you shine your light in the darkness. For all those who are hurting physically, mentally, and emotionally would you the great physician heal for the glory of your name. Oh Lord for those who have lost their job or are on the verge of losing their business would you be their strength and shield, would your provision be gracious, and your daily bread be appreciated. Lord Jesus for all our health care workers and first responders and every essential employee would you protect them and be mighty on their behalf. Would you in your tender mercy comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. With your everlasting mercy would you calm the spirit of those who are fearful and afraid. Oh, gracious God would your Word, the Bible, speak to the weary and wounded soul and draw people to yourself.

Oh Lord, for your people, your church, your bride, would we love you more than we hate a virus. In this time of social distancing would we not be distanced from you. Would your holy Word inflame our hearts and purify our minds. Would we dare to see other people Lord Jesus as you see them, please give us your vision. Renew our hearts and revive our souls that we may point people to you. Make our hearts content with what comes from your hand. And Oh, mighty God, we thank you for all you have done and all you will do. You are the only one worthy of praise, honor, and glory.

Oh Lord Jesus, I close my prayer by praying your Word back to you from Ephesians 3:14-21:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.—–20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

8. Charles Barnes, Jesus in Idaho Falls ministry (prayer for the Church)

Lord, give your church in Idaho Falls eyes to see You, the author and finisher of our faith, the One having all authority in heaven and earth, the One working among us for your glory and kingdom; to know Jesus Christ crucified, the power of the cross, to have the hope of the resurrection, and to comprehend what it means to be raised us up with Christ and seated in the heavenly places with Him. May we abide in Jesus that we may produce fruit that reveals you to our city. May we seek Your kingdom and righteousness, and walk by faith. Fill us with your Life, Your Spirit. Let us see the harvest that you have prepared and desire us to reap. Fill us with the knowledge of Your will that we may walk worthy of our calling. May our city be good soil, and hunger for truth.

9. Pastor Todd Wood, Providence Downtown Church, Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church, Idaho Falls Rescue Mission (Facebook), Eastern Idaho Pastors Coalition (EIPC)

Dear God,

I agree with my brothers today as we bow in awe before Your presence.  In Your mercy, hear our prayers.

In Idaho Falls, give us Your peace to surmount our fears, Your renewed calling to replace our confusion, and Your gift of faith to topple our nagging doubts. We thank You for how You demonstrated Your love to us when long ago, You sent Your Son to die for our sins, to set us free, and to give us new life.  We thank you for how the Spirit is magnifying Christ in our city, the mighty Deliverer who conquers both our heart disease of sin and our physical disease of the coronavirus. You are the potter; we are the clay. One of your preachers, Charles Spurgeon, once wrote to the effect: “You are too good to be unkind and You are too wise to be mistaken.  And when we cannot trace Your hand, we must trust Your heart.”

Dear God, You are our Father.  And as Your children, we trust Your heart. We rest in Your Providence tonight. Thank You, for watching over us, protecting us, and loving us in Idaho Falls. We love You. In our prayers, we depend upon You alone for our salvation.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

The prayer of a rural Idahoan (8)

Dear God,

I have been reading how the quarantine response is damaging the production of our Idaho farmers and others:

God, I have some of these hardworking, “salt and light of the earth”, godly farmers in my church family. I am so thankful for them as I lift them by name up to You.  Give them Your hope, Your peace, and Your provision in this pandemic.

Bless, my brothers and sisters, our humble farmers in Idaho.  They fear Your holy name, Mighty God. Bless them, their kids, and their grandkids, the multi-generations of workers on the farms.

I think of the blessing in Psalm 128 for them during this season of great trial:

“Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!”

For those who have seen potato contracts cut by 50%, I asking that in the days ahead, You open up the financial market in miraculous ways.  Give them favor with our Idaho Governor and our federal government.

Also, dear Lord, I want to slip in a prayer for all my rural, beautiful, farming family spread out all over central Oregon.  Watch over them today.  Encourage them.  Prosper them. Draw them all close to You.

Thank You, Lord, for hearing my prayer for my family and friends.  Out in the fields, they worship and love You.  May Your presence and power be poured out upon them.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

The prayer of a beggarly Idahoan (7)

Dear God,

Yesterday at noon, I stood in the food line at the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen; and then in the evening, I mingled with those in the meal line at the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission.

I hate to see my friends in their struggles: the stolen belongings, the abused women, the lack of education, poverty, missing teeth, dirty clothes, and poor mental health.

Lord, it is overwhelming.  Sometimes, I am at a loss for words.

During the noon hour, I listened to their stories.  And by evening, some of the men were drunk in their anger, trying to escape their misery for one more evening.  Dear God, speak to them; break into their darkness.  You know every detail of what is going on in their lives.

I am crying out to You, Father, for the full work of the Messiah, Your Son, among my friends. It was foretold around 2,600 years ago by the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1-3).

God, I am thinking of my dear friend who was just picked up by the police this week.  He is now sitting in the Bonneville County Jail.  Looking at the Bonneville County Jail roster/list of names online, I linger over his name. God, you know all the church services have been canceled at the jail.  Please!  Swiftly take my written letter to him.

Jesus, restore my brother fully as you restored Peter in the days following Your resurrection. Please do not let the anger, despair, shame, and sin swallow him up.

Thank You, Jesus, that You come to us in our camps of spiritual leprosy.  You touch us in our soul-sickness and heal us.  We have been given Your food and new life.

Shepherd of my heart, I thank You for all that You have done in my life.  Help me to be a loud beggar who keeps sharing the news with all the other beggars in our city.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

The prayer of a gospel-filled Idahoan (6)

Dear God,

I thank You that in Idaho Falls, back in the early 1970s, I first heard the beautiful news of Christ’s gospel. And today, as we are beginning the 2020s in the midst of a dark coronavirus, I am so thankful through 50 years that we still have the same good news! Father, Your Son died in my place, bearing my sin. Thank You for granting me:  forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and adoption. Thank You that when I was spiritually dead, Your Spirit blew new life into me.  In Your amazing grace, You have given me eternal life which triumphs right over the top of my enemies: Satan, sin, and death itself.

God of life, during this spring resurrection season, I think of what one of Your missionaries, St. Paul wrote to believers in Corinth,

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Dear God, I am thankful for the gospel pioneers who came to Idaho in the 1800s. I am grateful for the Reverend William N. Knox, a Baptist minister,  back around 1900, who preached the gospel to a road construction gang in the middle of nowhere on a moonlit night in the Nezperce National Forest. To this day, we have Gospel Peak, Gospel Hill, and Gospel Lakes named for what this gospel preacher did 120 years ago.

Lord of the Harvest, we thank You for the faithful gospel witness in Idaho among Your servants, missionaries, pastors, and Christians in their weekly vocations, year after year, and decade after decade.  In 2020, I ask that You thrust forth laborers into our Idaho fields.

As Pastor Matt McGukin of Calvary Baptist Church prayed yesterday:  Jesus, cleanse the temple. Cleanse Your House of Prayer.  And as Pastor Ken Feliciano of Berean Baptist Church requested, Master, help Your Church in Idaho to wake up, to take up our crosses, and to shake up the world.

Dear God, in the days ahead, we ask that Your word would run and be glorified through the streets of our Idaho cities.  We ask that through the internet, many men and women like Nicodemus in the night, would search and find answers from You regarding the eternal questions about their souls.

Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear.  In the midst of our physical sickness and financial recession, we humbly ask You to bring spiritual awakening to us in Idaho.  Save us, Lord.  Save us from the sin in our hearts. 

I pray this all in the mighty name of Jesus, for in the very meaning of His name, He will save His people from their sins,

Todd

 

The prayer of a political Idahoan (5)

Dear God,

I am lifting up to Your throne room this morning, our Republican Idaho Governor, Brad Little. He is under a lot of stress because of (1) the community spread of the coronavirus, (2) the sick and dying in the hospitals, and (3) the skyrocketing of unemployment as our state moves into financial recession.

Dear God, You already know that he will be addressing our state this morning in a state-wide news briefing conference.  He needs Your strength and Your wisdom.

Draw Him to You, the great “I AM”. You are everything that our governor needs.

May the governor clearly know that he has the ongoing, supporting prayers of the Church in Idaho.  May the governor know this–that the small Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church family in American Falls, Idaho, practically prays in the public arena for him by name every Sunday morning.  And we know, God Almighty, that You, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

Also, sovereign God, I humbly heed Your words of instruction this morning through Saint Paul to Timothy.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Timothy 2:1-6).

I raise up my hand to You, the God who sees us in Idaho. I lift my hand without wrath or doubting, asking You to be the strong Guide on this day for our governor.  I trust in You.  I rest in Your Providence. And I thank you for our Idaho governor.

Also, loving God, I ask that You move mightily among all my neighbors to the west of me in the Democratic seat of Blaine County.  Whether Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, may we all fear Your name. We need Your Presence. We repent of our sin and our political fighting. We ask You to forgive us of terrible transgressions against Your holy heart. Have mercy on us. Please heal all of our neighbors who are very sick.

We cry out to You!

You are the Sun of Righteousness!  Arise in Idaho with healing in Your wings!

Bless our state governor today.

in Jesus’ name,

Todd

The prayer of a fearful Idahoan (4)

Dear God,

Please take care of my wife, an Idaho nurse among the courageous, thin, white line in the battle against the coronavirus.

I love her life more than my own life.  I don’t fear the loss of my own life.  But I confess my anxiety to You regarding her life.

Loving Father, if she were to come into contact with a sick patient who tested positive with the coronavirus, I could not and would not allow for her to be two weeks, isolated in a local hotel room by herself.  She would be isolated in our master bedroom with a bathroom.

Majestic Creator, my wife and I are one flesh, created by Your sovereign, good hand, and who were joined together in holy matrimony by two Idaho gospel preachers on a beautiful day long ago, May 30th, 1992, in Your Presence and the household of faith at Gethsemane Baptist Church. 

Dear God, if my precious wife were to ever test positive for COVID-19 (God forbid!!), I would rally every brother and sister in the country to intercede on bended knee before You on the throne of heaven. You are the God of life.  You are the God who heals. You are God who is with us.

Dear God, my wife is not like the nurse, Jessica Schneider from Boise, who marched right to the front lines in New York City.  God bless and protect her, today.

My wife is simply headed off to work early tomorrow morning at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC).

My wife is a gift from You, the Giver of all good gifts.  I hold her in my heart and in my hand.  My hand trembles, but it is open before You.

I love and worship You, my Lord and my God.

In Jesus’ name,

Todd

The prayer of a disappointed Idahoan (3)

Dear God,

Yes, I am an introvert. But, God, on Resurrection Sunday, I was very disappointed in not being able to sit close, hug, lay my hand upon someone’s shoulder for prayer, and celebrate face-to-face with the brothers and sisters of Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church in American Falls and Providence Downtown Church in Idaho Falls.

Lord, I know I sound like I am whining and complaining to You. I am very thankful this past Sunday that You gave me the opportunity at early sunrise to stand up on the Pancheri Bridge to rejoice over Christ’s resurrection with Pastor Beau Floyd of Emmaus Road Church. I praise You, God, for the opportunity to stand up on top of the flatbed of a semi-truck and pray for our city’s pastors and churches during the Drive-In service with Pastor Jose Favela of Iglesia Centro Evangelistico in the parking lot of Shopko.  Thank You so much! Also, I loved the opportunity to swing over to the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission Women & Children’s Shelter (the Ruth House) in the early afternoon to share Your words of hope and to pray with the small handful of homeless women–my friends.  But, Jesus, it was awkward on Resurrection Sunday 2020 in Idaho Falls to wear gloves and a mask and practice very unnatural social distancing as we declared Your power and glory!

Dear God, I know that there are Lone-ranger-in-the-woods-on-Sunday worshipers and sit-at-home-with-a-television-on-Sunday worshipers, but we know that these expressions of Christianity are woefully inadequate.  Dear Father, when I became a Christian long ago in Idaho Falls, your Spirit placed me in a Body.  How can eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the same living, breathing Body stay separated from one another? How long, Lord?

Father, I think of the words of the ancient psalmist who worshiped You (Psalm 126),

When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, the LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

We grieve now, O Lord GOD; but we trust You for abundant fruit and great joy on the horizon of tomorrow.

And, God, if I could once more, add my lament over not being able to attend the Nursing Pinning Ceremony and Class of 2020 Graduation for my daughter, Hannah Wood, at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina on May 7-8, 2020.  All the sweat, blood, tears, and sacrifice over the years in scrimping along and paying college tuition–now this capstone celebration is in the ash heap because of an unseen vile virus. I don’t understand it, God.  Is it, that on Thursday, May 7, where I wanted to be at a Nursing Pinning Ceremony clear across the country, you simply desire for me to pour out my heart to you all day–the National Day of Prayer? What are You asking of me, God?

And my youngest boy, Micaiah Wood, who is scheduled to graduate from Skyline High School on Wednesday, May 27 . . . what a mess.  No spring sport. No opportunity to compete in state competition. No awards ceremonies. No senior Lagoon trip. No Senior parties. A graduation commencement that lingers in the future, out of our grasp and uncertain. This kid of mine was born in the shadow of the terrorist attack of 9/11 on America.  Now, he graduates in the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic.

O God, I ache today.

In your mercy, hear my prayer. Work Your glory in my gloom.

In Jesus’ name,

Todd

The prayer of a selfish Idahoan (2)

Dear God,

I am pretty selfish. You know that.

God, don’t get me wrong. I love all my family. I love them dearly.  But at the same time, my family can drive me nuts.  My youngest son is a senior in high school, and my older three are housebound after their three colleges all respectively closed down to go online. Family quarantine constantly disrupts my schedule (and their daily routines). Lord, you know I am not a huge fan of millennials living with their parents. I need Your help.

Father, your Son teaches us to pray to You,

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

But honestly, the temptations abound every day for my family to point out generational faults between Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.  And God, we won’t even get into talking about the Boomers.

God, you know, that last night, my oldest daughter wanted to pull me away from the very important whatever-in-the-world-that-I-was-doing to go buy some “essential items” for goodies. She had her heart set on baking.  She wanted to give some treats to others today.  God, you know, that in my grumbling, bad mood, I drove to Albertsons and could not find what was needed.  Only two grocery clerks ran the whole store.  They both suggested the same aisle for what I needed, but I could not find it.  Immediately, I phone texted complaints to my daughter.  Then I drove to Walmart, and it was closed.  I couldn’t believe it!  In all my years of living in this city, I have never seen Walmart closed off to my direct, immediate access. Lord, you know, that I drove home, fuming.  My daughter managed to graciously cook some delicious goodies, but I was in a foul mood.  God, why do you have to put me in these family circumstances all over again that want to bring out my selfishness? Depending on the right mix of circumstances, I can get bent out of shape by the smallest of issues, straining at the gnat and swallowing a camel.

God, I need to repent of my focus on self.  As an introvert, I thrive on social isolation.  Unlike my bubbly, extrovert wife, I am energized by hanging out by myself.

So, God, why did you have to pack my little cracker-box home with my whole family?

Lord, have mercy on this selfish Idahoan,

Todd