The prayer of a frustrated Idahoan (1)

Dear God,
Presently, we are struggling down here in Idaho.
We are an independent people who like to be stocked up, armed to defend ourselves, and not needing to be reliant upon anybody, especially the government.  Living in one of the beautiful regions in the country, we take great pride in our good common sense, our no-nonsense mentality, our conservative values, our simple ways to stretch a dollar, our religious morality, and our hard work ethic.
Why God, would You allow a virus to come all the way from Wuhan, China to touch us out here in our state?  In the first place, we don’t even like China.  Some of us won’t even buy anything “Made in China”.  So, what have we done to deserve COVID-19 entering the sacred woods of our Idahome?
In Blaine County, we are little upset by the wealthy who brought the virus to our ski slopes which then as a destructive plague ripped right through our small local communities. In central Idaho, we have been howling at night. Do You hear our cries?
Over in Ada County, housing our state’s capital, our Governor has ordered us all to stay-at-home.  Our healthcare workers are very thankful for his leadership in issuing this proclamation. But many of us in our state would like to be or already are in rebellion.  Who does Brad Little think he is, the king over us?
We know that St. Peter told us in I Peter 2 through the translation of William Tyndale,
Fear God and honour the king. Servants obey your masters with all fear, not only if they be good and courteous; but also though they be forward. For it is thankworthy if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what praise is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? But and if when ye do well, ye suffer wrong and take it patiently, then is there thank with God.
But God, Peter lived under a different government. We are Americans and on top of that—we are Idahoans!  We are a FREE people.  In history, people died for the freedoms that we possess. First, the Governor has no right to tell the Church what to do, because Your Son alone is the chief Shepherd. Man’s kingdom has no authority over your Kingdom! Second, the Governor has no right to douse water on the fires of all our hard work, pull the brakes on our businesses, and tank our economy. God, do you see what is going on?
In fact, no one can tell us what to do.  They don’t have the right. There is no way that we are going to let those liberals in Washington and Oregon ruin our state. God, we are frustrated.  We want to carry on business and free enterprise as usual.  We want to go right back to what we have been doing!
God, what are you trying to teach us?
As a struggling son in Idaho Falls, I pray this to You,

Jesus in Idaho Falls, the Saturday before Palm Sunday (4/4/20)

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,
Todd Wood

Stay-at-home directive! But what about the homeless? Here are five steps to consider.

Stay-at-home directive! But what about the homeless? Here are five steps to consider.

Many are hunkered down in their homes in Idaho Falls, in our broader state of Idaho, in the LDS I-15 Corridor, and in the western region of America. It is a blessing to have a home, a townhouse, or an apartment; but how are the homeless men, women, and children doing? Can you see any of their faces? Do you know any of their names in your city? Where do they go for the night?  What will they eat today? What kind of jobs can they find currently? How do their children receive an education? What do they do for mental health services or when they are physically sick? And in the aftermath of relational storms, what family members do they call? That is if they have a phone.

Who will be the essential “first responders” to reach out? In fact, what can you do for the homeless in your community while sitting in your home?

Consider five initial steps:

  1. Decide today to partner together with the local Christian Rescue Mission in your community. Discover the rescue mission(s) near you through the Citygate Network. Put the phone number of your city rescue mission in your phone contact list.
  2. Connect. Find out what they need. Look through their website. Like them on social media. Give them a call. But be patient if you don’t get an immediate response by phone or social media. Some of them do not have big budget human resources and public relations departments. They might be stretched very thin, especially in this season of the coronavirus. It could take many attempts to reach out. And please learn where the shelters are located.
  3. Start praying for the staff at your local homeless shelter. They are all on meager financial compensation, and they are probably dealing with mental health, financial, and addiction crisis among people every day. According to the Department of Homeland Security, they are essential infrastructure workers in your city. Get to know their names. For starters, who is the executive director of the mission? Who is the supervisor for the women & children’s shelter?  Who is the supervisor for the men’s shelter?  Who oversees their respective ancillary services, like meal distribution? thrift store? Etc.
  4. Determine today to establish a long-term friendship with one of the staff members of your local rescue mission. How can you help shoulder burdens?
  5. Be aware of the poor in your downtown area, the people walking the sidewalks, the panhandlers standing in front of Walmart, and those in the homeless encampments. Converse with people on the streets. They are not in a safe place. Listen to them. Pray for them. Encourage them to connect with your city’s Rescue Mission.  Because of their past experiences in dealing with tough love, rules, and accountability, they might cuss out your local homeless shelter just like they might cuss out their own family members. But keep loving the people on the streets and being an advocate for your local Mission.  It is a victorious step that ought to be celebrated all over the city when an estranged family member humbly goes back to their family or when a homeless person steps through the doors of the city’s faith-based homeless shelter.  Yet keep this in mind. Probably all our missions are at full or near full capacity because of necessary social distancing on bed space.  Today, more than ever, there is a great need. How can we think creatively during the month of April?

Here is a brief, current snapshot of some of the Rescue Missions under the umbrella of Citygate Network:

Idaho Falls Rescue Mission (Facebook, Instagram) – Idaho Falls, Idaho

  • Thank you to everyone who keeps the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission in ongoing prayers and support. If you would like to help, the immediate needs are food and money donations. Pray about it.  Every night, in their Serving Hope ministry, the staff are serving meals in to-go trays through a window on E Street downtown. Meal trays are also delivered nightly to the Behavioral Health Crises Center and the IFRM women & children’s shelter. IFRM’s two shelters for men and women are basically at full capacity and following closely in complete compliance with city health and coronavirus safety measures.
  • The IFRM First Street Thrift is temporarily closed.
  • Yesterday, a resident at the women’s shelter basically remarked, “People are praying now in crises, but will they all stop their prayers when the coronavirus response is over.”
  • Today, Charles Damon, the IFRM men’s Navigate Discipleship Director, commented on his Facebook page:

“Hold Fast” 90/180 Challenge! Read the bible cover-to-cover in the next 90-days and include two prayers each day!

But how do we keep faith in the middle of a storm?

It’s easy to say that our faith won’t falter when life is going smoothly, but it’s harder to say so when you’re in the midst of a storm. Sometimes all you can do is stand tall and push straight through.

Choosing to stand firm against your opposition is still a decision. Staying the course is a choice.

You can always give up. You can always quit. You can always turn your back on what you’re doing. Standing firm in your faith is often the most difficult decision that there is. It is also often the best decision there is.

There was an old phrase used among sailors back when most ships relied on sails; hold fast. This phrase would be shouted over the sound of thunder or of a battle from one sailor to the other.

When this phrase was used, it meant to stay at your position. To remain tightly secured in the face of adversity. When a storm is going over your boat, and the going gets tough, stand firm, and hold fast!

Life is full of waves. Sometimes you emerge unscathed, and other times you aren’t as lucky. The way I see it is that you are a survivor of every single storm so far. You have emerged victorious in every single hardship that you have been through up until this point.

When God is on your side, you’ll always have a winning record.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

Ephesians 6:13 NLT

Valley Mission (Facebook) – Pocatello, Idaho

Here is a recent Facebook post:

WOW! What a Monday! We had the Centennial Rotary Club help distribute commodities on Monday and it was amazing! With their help and the help of a few others who built boxes early, 192 families were fed in just over 1 hour. Great help, great setup and great food assortment. Thank you, Kia from the Idaho Foodbank, for bringing the load and hanging out with us to distribute.
THIS is what community is about – standing side by side (6 feet apart) and serving those in need.
LOVE OUR COMMUNITY! (Facebook – Valley Mission in Pocatello)

Boise Rescue Mission (Facebook) – Boise, Idaho

Good Samaritan Mission (Facebook) – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The executive director was drunk for 30 years.  But Jesus completely changed Chuck.  He will encourage anyone who steps through the doors of this local rescue mission to lift their eyes to the cross of Christ for hope, forgiveness, and life transformation.

Rescue Mission of Salt Lake (Facebook) – Salt Lake City, Utah

“The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah) experienced an earthquake on Wednesday, March 18, which, collapsed a 50 square-foot section of wall in the mission’s main building. When the building was deemed uninhabitable by inspectors, and the fire marshal nixed sending guests up to their partnering Ogden Rescue Mission, Salt Lake County stepped in to provide a temporary facility until repairs can be completed. Executive Director Chris Croswhite is thankful no one was hurt.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)


Denver Rescue Mission (Facebook) – Denver, Colorado

“Denver Rescue Mission (Denver, Colorado) CEO Brad Meuli shared that they received 300 applications for 35 temporary positions to fill vacancies for at-risk staff and volunteers who are no longer able to come to the mission to serve because of the Coronavirus situation.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)

Cheers to Denver!

Las Vegas Rescue Mission (Facebook)– Las Vegas, Nevada

“Parking Lot Accommodations Set Up for the Homeless
Approximately 500 homeless people in and around Las Vegas were moved to an open-air parking lot when an individual at a local Catholic Charities shelter tested positive for Coronavirus. The CDC suggests outdoor spaces could offer more social distancing and lessen the risk of spreading infection. City officials set up a grid in a downtown parking lot, marking out safely spaced places for individuals to sleep on a carpet, or directly on the asphalt. Medical students and professors from a nearby university have volunteered to screen those who enter the parking lot, and mobile showers have been set up for the occupants to use. The facility opens from 6pm to 8am and will be available until the Catholic Charities shelter reopens.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)


Thank you!

This morning’s email to the Church of Idaho Falls, Sunday, March 29, 2020, by Charles Barnes


One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.  Psalm 145:4

I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.   Psalm 77:11


Praise and Prayer Requests

  1. Praise God for the church in Idaho Falls that is now meeting in homes, via numerous on-line platforms, and in drive-in-movie style at two locations.
  2. Praise God for the opportunities we have to trust God in this time of turmoil and uncertainty and share our peace and hope with those who are alone, fearful or troubled.
  3. Praise God that He has kept our city, county and surrounding counties relatively free from coronavirus cases.  Praise Him for the medical facilities that we have. [During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, within two weeks of the first case reported in Idaho, cases were so numerous that they could not be accurately tracked. Globally, 100 million died out of 500 million infected; the mortality rate in one rural community in Idaho was almost 50%.]
  4. Praise God for all the ways He has worked in the past and is at work now in Idaho Falls and our nation; pray that the body of Christ will be a light that shines in the darkness, reflecting God’s glory and turning many to the way of salvation.
  5. Please continue praying for Pastor Anthony Manzanares; he has come through several open-heart surgeries and is now doing physical and occupational therapy.

Jesus in Idaho Falls

With nearly all meetings and events cancelled or postponed, today I want to share and ask the following:

1.     Most Idaho Falls churches are streaming or posting worship services on their web pages or Facebook pages.  We have compiled church web and Facebook pages at

2.     If you want to communicate with the larger body of Christ in Idaho Falls, email the message to Todd or myself and we will include it in our weekly email, or if more urgent, we can send out special emails to our distribution list. Besides announcements, consider sending us prayer requests that we can pass on to the whole body of Christ in Idaho Falls.

3.     Or you can post on our JIIF Facebook page,

4.     With a lot of normal activities curtailed, you may have more time for reflecting on how you have seen God work in the past and how He is at work now.  Your reflections will not only encourage yourself and others during this time of uncertainty but could also encourage future generations.  This is the heart of what Todd and I want to do – record the many ways that God has been at work in Idaho Falls in order for us to grasp more of the bigger picture of God’s glory in our midst, of His purposes for our city, of the ways He has been doing what He said He would do, so that we can be more effective working together with Him.  These stories include, but are not limited to:

a.     Transformation — how have you seen the Lord and His Spirit transform your life, bringing about new creation in Christ?

b.    Calling — how did the Lord call you to Idaho Falls?

c.     Building — how have you seen Jesus building His church in Idaho Falls?

d.    Sending — has the Lord given you a specific mission and empowered you to accomplish it?

e.     Small groups — how has Jesus been in your midst in small groups, “where two or three gather in my name”?

f.     Answers to prayer — how have you seen the Lord answer prayer?

g.    Faith — what acts of faith have you seen or done that would encourage the body of Christ?  Are there men or women from the past who lived in Idaho Falls that you knew and who are good examples of lives of faith?

h.     Unity and reconciliation — How have you seen the Lord bring about unity in His body?

i.      Answers to any of the questions in Todd’s email on Friday.

5.     Quiz: How many of these questions do you know the answers to? The answers to most are found on pages of the Book tab at  I’ll put all the answers in future emails.

1.     What was the first name of the place that eventually became Idaho Falls, a name that signifies the hunger of an unreached people group for the Bible?

2.     Where did the first church meet in Idaho Falls? [Hint: this was not a meeting of First Baptist Church.]

3.     Who was the woman who wanted to be a missionary to China but instead came to Eagle Rock and started the first school, the library, and raised the funds for the first church building in town?

4.     Who was the pastor, born in the Idaho Falls area, who served the Lord here for close to 50 years?

5.     What other pastors of Idaho Falls churches served here for more than 30 years?

6.     Who was the man who served as editor of the Daily Post in Idaho Falls for two years and then, after seminary, was a missionary in Persia for 22 years? Hint: His son, who had the same name, was a missionary in Afghanistan for 22 years. [Haven’t heard of the Daily Post? In 1931, the Daily Post merged with the Times-Register to become the Post Register.]

7.     What churches in Idaho Falls were deliberate plants of other Idaho Falls churches?

8.     Who, as a high school student, started going to an Idaho Falls church just to learn about public speaking, keeping a scorecard rating the pastor’s sermon, and later became the pastor of that church?  Hint: His father selected the site of what would later become the Idaho National Laboratory and also selected Idaho Falls as the site of the government offices running those facilities.

9.     Who served as interim pastor of six different Idaho Falls churches? Hint: He also ran a bookstore, a counseling service [Family Life Enrichment Center], published a Christian periodical, and helped form the Evangelical Ministerial Association in Idaho Falls.

10.  In what decade were the most churches planted in Idaho Falls?

11.  Of the churches planted in that decade, how many still meet and which is currently the largest?

12.  Who are the two men who married sisters and, at different times, pastored the same church in Idaho Falls?  Hint: Both men also became missionaries after leaving Idaho Falls.

May Jesus reign in Idaho Falls,

Grace and peace to you in Idaho Falls

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus,
Yesterday, I walked a perimeter of Idaho Falls and prayed. I lifted up to heaven by name, practically every pastor and church family that I know in our city. I also circled EIRMC and prayed.
Many of you today are preparing for what you will say tomorrow by virtual media or awkward social distances.  I grieve for the Church not being able to hug and place their arms around each other during all this financial, psychological, and social stress.  But I know that when the Church is squeezed (as we see so often in other parts of the world among our brothers and sisters in trials and persecution), the love and light of Jesus will burst forth.
In the midst of the Covid-19 Response in our city, I am thankful for technological connections right now:

Charles Barnes and I will continue to email local church offices on a weekly basis (this is mine for this weekend).  It is an opportunity to share Scripture verses, prayer requests, and praises. For some of the data that could be made public, I will continually update the “Jesus in Idaho Falls” website. We also want to stay informed of the questions, responses, and resources discussed among our local churches.

Many churches have their own denominational networks, but even with that, we are pioneers in many ways in eastern Idaho.  Amid spiritual triage, together is better. I thank God for the close friendships with many pastors of various denominations. So beyond even our denominational fellowships, we have the Eastern Idaho Pastors Coalition (EIPC). I thank God for this coalition.  In eastern Idaho, there is one Church and one Good Shepherd.  More than ever, we are praying for and extending love and grace to one another up and down the Eastern Idaho Corridor.  In many ways, I am thankful for Facebook to be able to listen in and be so greatly edified by all the godly pastors in our region during this season.

Last, the event “Vision 2020” on July 20, 2020, this summer at the Sandy Downs outside of Idaho Falls is in God’s hands.  Let Him do what He wants in our midst.  As Pastor Jeff Kennedy of Christ Community Church aptly stated this week, “God is in control of the show.”  One thing I know for sure, when the Coronvirus Crises is over in Idaho Falls, we are going to have the biggest Jesus party ever to hit our city!  Glory to our King!  May Jesus reign in our hearts and in this city. For now, our #1 prayer for eastern Idaho is that the Person of Jesus Christ fills our vision. Let it be that every man, woman, and child be given the opportunity for seeing Jesus clearly. He is beautiful.  He is love.  He is good. When the shelves are low and when people’s fears are high, Jesus is the great I AM.  He is everything we need.

Stay tuned.  Love and pray for one another. Infect the city with God’s hope and love.

Roots by the river,

Pastor Todd Wood

Church response to the coronavirus

For the past week, pastors, elders, leadership teams, and church families have been watching and responding to federal, state, and local announcements regarding the outbreak of Covid-19. Many have been praying, discussing, and planning what Jesus would want Christians to say and do in the days ahead.  Local churches are adapting to new strategies in how to encourage and support brothers and sisters in their church families while also considering how they might provide outreach in the city of Idaho Falls.  For this Sunday, March 22, please tune in to your local church via their technological venues for encouraging messages and further guidance and instruction.

A confession and a plea

The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. For the vast majority of the 150,000 of us who live in the Bonneville and Madison Counties, we outwardly agree on this.  Most of us would give lip service to the fact that we follow Jesus as our Savior and live out His example.  But what have we been doing for the past four days in our counties? Loving God first because of the great love with which He first loved us? Then loving others by placing them before ourselves?

Unfortunately, our hearts have been a mess.

We need repentance.  I need it.  You need this.  We all need to turn from ourselves to our Creator.

On the first day of each week, I desperately need to pray this with a humble heart of confession.  

We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole hearts; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

Yes, we need to pray. We don’t pray because we think we can make it through our days without God’s help.  Well, clearly, we are not doing well at all.

Jesus teaches us all to pray like this:

Our Father, who art in heaven [Please Lord, help us on daily basis not to forget this in the midst of our social isolation over the coronavirus, for certainly little of the news we watch declares this], hallowed be thy name [And no one else or any other thing which we so desperately cling to for help], thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven [Let this be the cry of our hearts]. Give us this day our daily bread [Teach us this because we have taken for granted your abundant excess in this land. We don’t know what it means in many ways to trust you for our daily bread]; and forgive us our trespasses (We have panicked, pushed, jockeyed for position, grasped in greed, jumped in front of others, stockpiled, and stolen in trying to save ourselves), as we forgive those who trespass against us (We have been so angry at others from those in national politics to some of the closest members within our own families and ignoring how much you have forgiven us for our fears, lusts, pride, selfishness, and disobedience); and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Only you are the mighty Deliverer). For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The way forward is Christ’s love in us and through us.

Idaho Falls Day of Prayer – Sunday, March 15, 2020

Prayers for you

  1. Do you know God’s peace and love?
  2. Though you don’t understand all His ways presently, are you able to trust in a God who is loving and powerful?
  3. Are there desires, habits, and motives which need to be corrected in your life? What is it that God would desire for you to lay aside in pursuing a closer relationship with Him?
  4. What is it that you fear? Why?  How might you be able to take this issue to God in prayer?
  5. Pray for how you might put love in action here in Idaho Falls.

Your family

  1. How are your grandparents doing? Would they like a written letter from you, sharing a written prayer from you? Life is precious and very short.
  2. How are your parents? Your siblings?
  3. Which family member might you call and pray with over the phone?
  4. Please place your arm around your spouse and pray for him or her.
  5. Lay your hands upon your children and pray for them.
  6. Hold your grandchildren and pray for them.
  7. Pray for shalom: protection, wisdom, guidance, and health.

Your church family

  1. Who comes to your mind that you need to call and pray for them?
  2. Pray the “Lord’s Prayer” with another Christian.
  3. What encouraging Scripture might you share in a note?
  4. Pray, recite, or read a Scriptural benediction over your small church group.
  5. Look for opportunities to disciple and shepherd other believers in your Christian family. Pray for them.
  6. Praise God for lay shepherds who bring the ordinance of the Lord’s supper/communion to homes where brothers and sisters are unable to leave.
  7. Is there a brother or sister at the hospital that you should call? Pray for them.
  8. Pray for the church elders in our city that God will fill them with wisdom, endurance, patience, and grace. Pray that God will grant great joy and boldness in proclaiming the gospel. Pray for pastors that they might give their strength and time to pray to God Almighty.
  9. Pray for your brothers and sisters who are abroad.
  10. Pray for persecuted brothers and sisters.

Your neighborhood

  1. Get to know the names of all the neighbors on your street. Pray for them.
  2. Are there any needs among your elderly neighbors? Pray for them.
  3. Is there anyone sick in your neighborhood. Pray for them.
  4. Pray for the elementary school, the junior high school, and the high school in your neighborhood. Pray that God will grant wisdom to the school principals. Pray for the sports team coaches this spring. Pray for school administrators as they watch over the health and safety of all our young people.
  5. Pray for the kids and students in your streets. Pray for the teachers of your children by name.
  6. Regarding the gas station, convenience store, and business closest to your home. Know the names of attendants and workers. Ask what you can pray for them.

Your city

  1. Pray for our mayor, Rebecca Casper.
  2. Pray for all the city council by name.
  3. Pray for our state representatives who live in our city.
  4. Pray for health administrators, doctors, and nurses. Pray for the patients.
  5. Pray for our scientists and that we can develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.
  6. Pray for our police officers and first responders.
  7. Pray for the incarcerated, those battling addictions, and those in homeless shelters. Pray for those who serve these people.
  8. Pray for our news media to bring forth worthy information that educates and builds us as a city.
  9. Pray that we may continue to have access to the art community for events that can lift our spirits.
  10. Pray for the health of our city economy. Pray for our business leaders.
  11. Pray for the staff in your nearest grocery store who have been bombarded. As you have conversations over shopping carts while standing in lines, ask if you might take a moment to pray for that person.  It is ok to pray in public. Especially now.  Now is the time to pray.

Thank you, Jesus!

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).

The eternal Son of God created everything.  He created you and me.  Every molecule in our physical bodies is held together by His power.  Thank you, Jesus!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).

God the Son came to this earth. Born as a baby, He dwelt among us. Through the incarnate Word, we can be in God’s presence.  See God.  Touch God.  Thank you, Jesus!

And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35). “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:41).

Jesus went to the top of a mountain, sat down with his disciples, and fed 5,000 people. But then he told his disciples that even more than physical bread, they need Him who is the spiritual bread for their souls and our souls.  Thank you, Jesus!

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk I darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12)

Jesus is the one who steps into our darkness, draws us out, and brings us into His marvelous light.  Thank you, Jesus!

Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture’” (John 10:7-9).

There is only one door for the sheep.  He is the open door, the right door, and the safe door. Thank you, Jesus!

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice: and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).

Our Lord is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd in the city of Idaho Falls.  In His love, power, and wisdom, He knows exactly what to do in the care of all His sheep. Thank you, Jesus!

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die’” (John 11:25).

The King has conquered death. We do not need to fear death. For us, death is only the entrance to our standing and serving in His presence forever.  Thank you, Jesus!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

In a world of conflicting opinions and perils, the Savior will never lead us astray.  And He is the gateway and the only way to the Father in heaven. Thank you, Jesus!

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

To be connected to Jesus brings nourishment, growth, and fruit. Without the Lord, we would all shrivel up.  Thank you, Jesus!

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26).

We are justified by His grace.  We are redeemed through Jesus. There is propitiation by His blood.  Thank you, Jesus!

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 15:1-3).

He died for our sins.  He was buried.  And three days later, he rose again from the grave!  Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!

The apostle John wrote in Revelation 1:5-8, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

The King is coming again.  Thank you, Jesus!

Jesus is our good Providence.  Jesus is our Temple, the meeting place between heaven and earth and the Father and sinners. Jesus is our hope. In Christ, there is the Church of God. Jesus is the Messiah for the Jewish nation and all the nations of the earth.  Jesus is the outpouring of truth and grace that continually falls in our city.  Jesus is the steps to joy.  Jesus is our Rescue.  He is our Recovery.  He is our Restoration.  He is the King of our hearts.  Thank you, Jesus!

My Perspective on Six Questions about Vision 2020: Seeing Jesus Clearly

On Monday afternoon/evening, July 20, 2020, at the Sandy Downs Arena, there will be a family-oriented, gospel event for the public.

  1. Has Idaho Falls ever organized city-wide gospel events in the past?   In fact, in the ’90s, the historic, local Evangelical Ministerial Association (EMA) held events for three consecutive years. All the local churches who participated experienced ongoing conversations and discipleship opportunities.
  2. Are city-wide gospel events artificial or “flash-in-the-pan”? If we thought evangelism to be limited only to a preacher in a church service, Christian concert, or Christmas/Easter event, we are in trouble.  Christians are not to be spectators in seats watching only a select few down in the field carrying out the Great Commission.  All Christians are all called to be actively making disciples for Christ.  This takes place in the relationships all around us throughout the week.  My hope is not simply in a one-time event, but in the ongoing gospel conversations leading up to a city-wide gospel event and then all the conversations following the event.  Our hope is in the gospel being lived out and shared in relationships Sunday through Saturday every week in eastern Idaho.  Yet a city-wide event is just one of the helpful tools in the box for encouraging and strengthening believers in their witness for Jesus.
  3. Out of 100 people who might make decisions in a city-wide gospel event, can you even count on one hand the number of those people who will be active in a local, Bible-believing church a year later? First, let me answer that question with a question. Is there not an eruption of praise in heaven over one lost sheep who is truly found and brought home?    All the time, talent, and financial treasure wrapped up into an event where one man, woman, or child experiences life regeneration and is placed on a path trajectory of following Christ as Lord for the rest of their lives—it is worth it all!  Second, we all know that the path of discipleship involves a lot of watering, many little influences, and decisions; and there are different types of soil conditions to reckon within human hearts.  Third, we all must be committed to journeys of discipleship with people through the ups and the downs, the good and the ugly, and be patient. We are to be diligent in teaching Christianity 101 among all our contacts. And then we are to ultimately understand that we plant and water, but it is God who gives the increase.  To God be the glory.
  4. Is a city-wide gospel event too much of a financial cost? Not in my estimation. But I do think the money spent on cars, furniture, clothes, motels, restaurants, movie tickets & popcorn, and specialty coffee drinks in Idaho Falls can get a little crazy at times.
  5. Don’t you need a big name like Greg Laurie and nationally known Christian bands to draw a crowd? I can’t tell you how excited I am to simply hear one of our local pastors, Pastor James Runcorn, who lives and loves among the people of our city, to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  Same for musicians.  This is not to say that we might have nationally known evangelists come to Idaho Falls in the future.  I think it would be terrific to have a three-day “Celebration of Hope” with Will Graham in 2023 or so.  But I am just as happy to hear our local, faithful proclaimers of Christ’s gospel who are in the conversations year-round.
  6. Who is joining in on the promotion of Vision 2020? We ask for participating churches to be in alignment with the faith of historic Christianity as laid out briefly in the Eastern Idaho Pastors Coalition’s Statement of Faith and Affirmations.  And we invite all who have a passion for Christ’s gospel, the redemption story laid out in the Bible, to join us.  “We express the unity of all believers in Christ on the basis of our measure of consensus in confessing the Gospel. . . . In all dimensions and aspects of our inter-Christian relationships, the Gospel is at the heart of who we are and what we do.”  What a thrill it is, to sing the gospel, to preach the gospel, and to live the gospel together in eastern Idaho.  Back in the pioneering days, there was a slogan for Northwest Idaho Missions – “The gospel to the farthest man back.” For Vision 2020, it is our desire for every man, woman, and child in eastern Idaho to have the opportunity of seeing Jesus clearly.