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The prayer of a thankful Idahoan (11)

Dear God,

I want to thank you for the gift of a church family.

You give to us earthly, physical families who are a great blessing of loving relationships during trials and hardship. But then you grant to us this extraordinary gift of a spiritual family for when we struggle with problems, divisions, and estrangements in our earthly families.

The minute that I was born again through faith in Jesus, your Son, I gained a whole new family.  Father, I can hardly contain the joyous gratitude over the fact that practically wherever I travel in the world, I discover brothers and sisters.  From Idaho to India, from Utah to Uruguay, from Montana to Mexico, and from Wyoming to the Western Sahara, there are your people who love you and who love me because I also love you.  There is a common, unbreakable bond in the heart among us as a worldwide family because of the amazing work of your Son. And this family is only growing.

God of the whole universe, I thank you for giving to me so many brothers and sisters. I walk around my city, and they are everywhere—Christ’s Bride.  I travel around in eastern Idaho, and I hear and witness heaven’s words and actions through your family—the household of faith. I treasure this gift; and I worship you, the Giver and Sustainer for this gift of relationships in my life.

I thank you for all the members of our church families throughout Idaho Falls who nourish me in your truth and love. I thank you specifically for Berean Baptist Church, Emmaus Road Church, Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church, and Providence Downtown Church.

God, I love and cherish the small church gatherings! After six weeks of being away from any in-person fellowship with Pastor Warren Cuppy and fellow elder, Dean Berggren, I wanted to jump up and down when I saw them both yesterday.  In fact, I wanted to run around the building by seeing every brother and sister who walked through the front door.

God, I am grateful that we as Providence Downtown Church could fellowship together, sing together, pray together, study together, and live together.

Thank you, Father of lights.  Every good and perfect gift comes down from you and this is one of the best.

You are rich in mercy.  You have shown your great love to us that even when we were dead in trespasses, you made us alive together (sunezospoiesen), by grace we have been saved. Thank, you, for raising us up together (sunegeiren) and sitting us together (sunexathisen) in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

You have given to me in Idaho, not a gift of isolation, but a gift of close connection and intimate togetherness.  Does not this gift reflect who you are, the purest essence of community in unity?

O God!  Who is Father, Son, and Spirit—You are the most glorious God!  I am surrounded and sheltered in your relational love with one new family of faith, hope, and love.  I will never be alone all the rest of my days in Idaho and on through eternity in heaven and the new earth.

I cannot even begin to repay you for this gift handed to me. Thank you, Father, for your love.  Thank you, Son, for your sacrifice. Thank you, Spirit, for your power.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

The prayer of a depressed Idahoan (10)

Dear Lord,

I had my heart set in anticipation of certain events that were to take place on certain days in Idaho Falls, and now this stupid coronavirus has collapsed the materializing of all these celebrations that I had fixed on specific days.

Lord, can I just vent in your presence like Elijah or Jonah?

I think of the phrase in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

I have been mourning the death of my pursuits of my plans on my calendar. I know, patient and loving Father, that it is a lot of I’s and my’s. Wean me from these childish pronouns in my vocabulary. Free me from my stinking thinking.

It is uncannily amazing, dear God, the number of phone texts that I have been receiving today from brothers and sisters-in-Christ who were not even aware of the downward sloping in my moping. You are merciful with your Idahoan son.

Lord God, I ask that you bring spiritual healing to the community of Montpelier down in Bear Lake County, Idaho.  I thank you that our bottom-three-southeastern Idaho counties of Oneida, Franklin and Bear Lake have not experienced even one publicly confirmed case of the coronavirus. But Father, I believe that because of the shelter-at-home order and other factors in people’s lives, mental depression has been severe for some people.

My heart is grieved to hear that the little town of Montpelier, Idaho has had 5 suicides since April 4, 2020, and with two more under investigation.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Rescue eastern Idahoans out of the dark rabbit holes of despair.

God, please bless the police in eastern Idaho as they respond to calls related to domestic violence and the requests for wellness visits. You see how it is happening right in my own neighborhood.

Gracious Healer of my thoughts, I agree with the ancient psalmist,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul! And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore, I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, from the Hill Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me—a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:6-8).

God, still my heart in you.  You have overseen the Jewish people for 3,000 years through great triumphs and cataclysmic tragedies.  You smile down upon Israel today in their 72nd anniversary as a nation. Some of them remember you today in their land.

And certainly, I will praise you on this very day in Idaho.  As my co-shepherd, Warren Cuppy texted and reminded me about you:

“Your presence and movement through SE Idaho are not held at bay by any pandemic.  Your perfect plan will be accomplished.  You are not isolated in heaven, nor cowering in fear.  You know what You are doing.”

So, whether I am wandering through the lava fields, standing on top of Menan Butte, hiking in Kelly’s Canyon, or standing under the waterfalls of Falls Creek, your lovingkindness and mercy are the two hound dogs of heaven pursuing me every day and all the rest of the days of my life in eastern Idaho.  Thank you.

God, you are good.  You are the perfect light in my short-sightedness.  And you are perfect love in my isolation.

In Jesus’ name,

Todd

Vision 2020: Eyes opened on the Emmaus Road

I believe that the Emmaus Road account in Luke 24 is a terrific story for Vision 2020.

Here is the text in the Holy Gospel:

The Road to Emmaus

13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

___

I could highlight this resurrection story by dividing it into two parts: (1) Eyes restrained (vv. 13-27) and (2) Eyes opened (vv. 28-35)

Eyes Restrained (vv. 13-27)

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, disciples on the road to Emmaus outside of Jerusalem are walking sadly and discussing the recent events with one another.  Jesus appears to them and asks them what is going on.  His questions draw out their love and devotion to the Messiah but also their confusion and despair.

In verse 16, Luke mentions Cleopas and his friend, that “their eyes were restrained (prevented – krateo), so that they did not know (recognize – epiginowsko) Him.”

Amid political events and personal trials, it is sometimes a struggle to see with spiritual eyes the face of Jesus. So much of our confusion in this physical world tends to cloud our spiritual vision of the Savior.

It is interesting that they refer to the third day in verse 21.

Howard Marshall remarks,

“The reference to the third day appears to reflect the Jewish belief that by the fourth day the soul had left the body (Jn. 11:39), or possibly a dim memory that Jesus had spoken enigmatically of something happening on the third day. From a literary point of view, it prepares the way for the coming miracle (Creed, 296).

The two disciples have a lot of knowledge and experiences, but the pieces of the puzzle have not yet been fitting together. I am very thankful that in our struggles and lack of understanding, Jesus walks with us and encourages us to go back to the sure footing of promises in the Bible.  And his rebukes are gentle.  He does not abandon us.

“And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said: but Him they did not see. Then he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 24-27).

Did Jews understand that the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament would go through immense suffering?

Howard Marshall suggests,

“But it is not clear whether pre-Christian Judaism expected the Messiah (2:26; et al.; 24:46) to suffer . . . At best the expectation can hardly have been a widespread one, but the evidence is hard to assess since there is good reason to suppose that anti-Christian polemic has led to suppression of some of the evidence.”

So, what should we see in Moses’ Torah?  The Pentateuch? The first five books of the Bible? Alfred Plummer connects certain texts and images in these opening books with Christ: “Such prophecies as Gen. iii. 15, xxii. 18; Num. xiv. 17; Deut. xviii. 15, and such types as the scape-goat, the manna, the brazen serpent, and the sacrifices, are specially meant. Comp. Acts viii. 35.”

And yet how many people like Thomas were full of doubts and did not see and understand?

Darrell L. Bock answers,

“Still others went to the tomb and found it empty, but they did not see Jesus. This empirical note seems to be key for the two, since it seems they are not yet convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Thomas gets all the contemporary press as a doubter of the resurrection, but Luke 24 makes it clear that he was merely one of a crowd, including these two followers. Like modern people in their skepticism, they will be persuaded only if they actually see Jesus. As readers we almost want to yell at the two, ‘Take a close look!’ . . . Do not be skeptical as these men were.  Remember what God required of the Messiah: suffering, then vindication in exaltation. . . . The disciples have been slow to believe. They have not read Isaiah 52-53 or Psalm 16 with understanding, not to mention Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118 or Daniel 7:13-14.”

We need to walk with the perfect Teacher, open our hearts to his words, and focus solely on hearing him. Don’t you think that during this time of social distancing and isolation, it is a golden opportunity to walk with Jesus and hear him?

Norval Geldenhuys shares,

“And then the Saviour, who knows the Word of God perfectly, because of His intimate union with the Spirit who is its Primary Author, expounded to them in broad outline all the Scriptures that referred to Him, from the first books of the Old Testament and right through to the end. With burning hearts (verse 32), but still unaware that it was Jesus Himself who was teaching them, they listened to His incomparable exposition of the deepest contents of the Old Testament. And thus, they learned that everything that had happened to the Saviour was in agreement with the prophetic Word and that He would still be revealed as Conqueror.”

When I get to heaven someday, I will ask Jesus if he could share with me all over again what he taught the men on the road to Emmaus. I agree with G. Campbell Morgan who wrote,

I never read this without having the feeling that I would have given anything to travel that road and hear what He had to say.  One could almost imaginatively follow some of the things as one thinks of the Old Testament.  They listened to this Stranger as He took their own sacred writings and interpreted to them their deepest meaning. They listened to Him as He revealed to them the profoundest depths in the suggestive ritual of the Mosaic economy, as he breathed in their ears the secret of the love which lay at the heart of the ancient law.  They listened to Him as He traced the Messianic note in the music of all the prophets; showing that He was David’s King, “fairer then the children of men,” and in the days of Solomon’s well-doing, He was “the altogether lovely” One. He was Isaiah’s Child-King with a shoulder strong enough to bear the government; and the name Emmanuel, gathering within itself all the excellencies. He was Jeremiah’s “Branch of Righteousness, executing justice and righteousness in the land.” He was Ezekiel’s “Plant of renown,” giving shade and giving fragrance. He was Daniel’s stone cut without hands, smiting the image, becoming a mountain, and filling the whole earth. He was the ideal Israel of Hosea, “growing as the lily,” “casting out His roots as Lebanon.” To Joel, the Hope of the people, and the Strength of the children of Israel; and the Usherer in of the vision of Amos, of the “Plowman overtaking the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed;” and of Obadiah the “Deliverance upon Mount Zion and holiness;” the Fulfillment of that of which Jonah was but a sign. He was the “turning again” to God, of which Micah spoke. He was the One Nahum saw upon the mountains publishing peace. He was the Anointed of Whom Habakkuk sang as “going forth for salvation.” He was the One Who brought to the people the pure language of Zephaniah’s message, the true Zerubbabel of Haggai’s word, for ever rebuilding the house of God; Himself the dawn of the day when “Holiness—shall be upon the bells of the horses,” as Zechariah foretold; and He the “Refiner,” sitting over the fire, “the Sun of Righteousness” of Malachi’s dream (emphasis mine).

William Hendricksen chimes in,

“Jesus may have interpreted such passages as Gen. 3:15; 9:26; 12:3; 22:18; 49:10; Exod. 12:13; Num. 24:17; Deut. 18:15, 18; II Sam. 7:12,13; Ps. 2:2; 22:1, 18; 45:11; 68:18; 69:20, 21; 72:8, 9; 110:1; 118:22; 132:11; Isa. 2:4; 7:14; 8:8, 10; 9:1, 2, 6, 7; 11:10; 25:8; 28:16; 35:5, 6; 42:1; 49:6; 52:14; ch. 53; 55:4; 59:16; Jer. 23:5; Ezek. 17:22; Dan. 2:24, 35, 44; 7:13, 14; 9:25; Mic. 5:2; Hag. 2:6-9; Zech. 3:8; 6:12 f.; 9:9; 11:12; 12:10; 13:7; Mal. 3:1.  But the Old Testament picture of the Messiah is not confined to a number of specific passages. As I have shown earlier there are, as it were, four lines, which, running through the Old Testament from beginning to end, converge at Bethlehem and Calvary: the historical, typological, psychological, and prophetical. It is reasonable to believe that our Lord, in interpreting in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself, showed how the entire Old Testament, in various ways, pointed to himself. See also Acts 10:43.”

Godet relates,

“Jesus had before Him a grand field, from the Protoevangelium down to Mal. iv. In studying the Scriptures for Himself, He had found Himself in them everywhere (John v. 39, 40). He had now only to let this light which filled His heart ray forth from Him.”

Where do we see? And in what areas today, do we have trouble seeing?

Where can we turn to see the foreshadowing of the Messiah to come? Is it not in every book of the Old Testament?

Lord, help us to behold Your wonders when we open up and read the Old Testament.

Eyes Opened (vv. 28-35)

Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and he indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them” (vv. 28-29).

During this COVID-19 season, are we pressing into the heart of Jesus with our prayers to Him?  Do we want more of Him in our thoughts and in our hearts?

Plummer and Godet emphasize:

  • “He began to take leave of them, and would have departed, had they not prayed Him to remain. Comp. His treatment of the disciples on the lake (Mk. vi. 48), and of the Syrophenician woman (Mk. vii. 27). Prayers are part of the chain of causation” (emphasis mine).
  • “Every gift of God is an invitation to claim a greater. But most men stop very quickly on this way; and thus, they never reach the full blessing (2 Kings xiii. 14-19).”

Norval Geldenhuys concludes,

“If the men of Emmaus had not invited Jesus into their home, He would have passed on, and how poor would love their lives have been then! But because He had spoken to them thus on the way, their hearts burned with love with Him and they invited Him in and thus received the richest blessings, even the Lord Himself as the Living King of their lives. How often does he address us also on life’s way. And He still desires to enter where he is invited.”

Today, we invite you, Jesus, in our homes, to teach us, and to abide with us. We need you.  We love you.

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight” (vv. 30-31).

William Hendricksen asks,

  1. How was it that in the breaking of the bread they suddenly recognized him?
  2. Did they see the marks of the nails in his hands?
  3. Was it the manner in which he broke the bread and gave it to them that opened their eyes?
  4. Or was it the way he spoke to his Father that refreshed their memories?

Darrell L. Bock points out,

“It is in the intimacy of fellowship that Jesus is recognized. This setting is no mistake; it is a major Lukan theme.  Many of the resurrection appearances he describes are associated with table fellowship (Lk 24:41-43; Acts 1:4; 10:41; also Jn 21:9-15). . . . It is through sitting with Jesus and listening to him that we get to know him” (emphasis mine).

Take the time today to sit with Jesus and listen to Him this week.

We love you, Lord.  Open our eyes. In your name, we pray, amen.

The prayer of a prayer-less Idahoan (9)

Dear God,

Forgive me for not talking to you more. I am sorry that it has taken a COVID-19 pandemic in the world to bring about this resolution in my heart.

Lord, I am resolved to make conversation with you my number one priority.

First, I am committed to keeping a prayer journal until the day I die.

Second, help me to be still before you in these new daily rhythms of personal prayer that you are developing in my life. Let me begin and end every day in conversation with you.  And may my public prayer be simply an overflow of my private communion with you.

Third, help me to be rigidly fixed on the fact that every church meeting, whether big or small, must be a prayer meeting in your presence.

Fourth, as I have learned from the Shepherd of the Falls Lutheran Church family, I ask that in every Sunday church service there be granted the opportunity for any of the Church family to publicly and audibly lift up names of people in intercession before you.

Fifth, I pray that you would use me in my feeble weakness to promote among others the fundamental and vital importance that the Church needs to pray.

Thank you, that I can talk to you, loving Father.  This is the greatest privilege of my life.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Todd

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.