Loving Others the Way That Jesus Loves

Recently, I’ve been asking questions about how should I, as a follower of Jesus, express love to people. This has been a very confrontation experience and I have realized that there are many ways that I have failed to love others the way that Jesus loves. In this video I share two types of love that have been a hinderance in my life from fully loving people the way God wants me to. Watch the video and tell me what you think!

Love like Jesus

 

Jesus is Coming Soon! How Should We Pray?

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Luke 21:34-36 (AMP)
“34 But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; 35 For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth. 36 Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”

It doesn’t take a very spiritually perceptive person to know that we are living in a generation like no other. From a Christian perspective, we are seeing biblical prophecy that is thousands of years old possibly being fulfilled right before our eyes. For those who have read the Olivet discourse that Jesus preached (recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21), current events seem to parallel the things foretold by our Lord. For instance, Jesus predicted a time where there would be an increase in wars, earthquakes, famines, disease, fearful events, false teachers and prophets, apostasy, and persecution of believers. He also prophesied that the gospel of the kingdom would go out to every tribe, tongue, and people around the world. I do not have the time to go through building the case that many of those predictions point to trends that have dramatically increased in the last 40-50 years, but I will touch on one point.

Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Nearly all Christians would agree that a major component necessary for the fulfillment of this prophecy would be to have Scripture translated into all languages. Back in 1999, the Wycliff Bible Translation Organization estimated that they would be able to translate the Bible in every known language in the earth by the year 2150. This past year, Wycliff recalculated the timing of the fulfillment of this endeavor. Due to the dramatic increase in technological advances, they predict that they will now be able to meet their goal by– are you ready for this?? The year 2025.

Now, is the translation of the New Testament in every language the equivalent of proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom throughout the whole world? Does it fulfill the Matthew 24:14 prophecy completely? This is a great question, and my personal take on it is: maybe. That discussion deserves its own post. I will say, however, that this is the first time in history that there has been any possibility of that prophecy being fulfilled. Which begs the question: if the “end” is near (not the end of the world, but the end of this age and the return of Jesus to the earth to usher in a new age), what do we do?

Pray.

The call to pray is one that everything in our flesh despises because it is humbling and typically does not produce the microwave-like results we have come to demand from everything in life. It is only through responding to the call to pray that our hearts are actually united with God’s desires, God’s will, and God’s purpose for the earth in this generation. With such great and terrible events culminating to the second coming of Jesus (known as the Day of the Lord), how then shall we pray?

Before I address a few key points on how we should pray as the return of Jesus draws near I would like to make mention of some things we should avoid in prayer:

1. We should avoid praying with an attitude of fatalism and pessimism. Usually due to the nature and intensity of events described in the scriptures at the end of the age, many believers can adopt a pessimistic view of end-time events. The Bible doesn’t only describe doom and gloom in the end times; it also tells of a victorious, beautiful Church that is mature in love, and of a great revival in which multitudes are secured in the family of God. Also, it is important to note that the severe judgments released by God are against an empire of wickedness which God must systematically remove from the earth in order to restore the paradise He desires His creation to be. We must always keep the big picture in mind instead of fixating on the negative details outside of the larger context; God is restoring all things, and He is wiping out sin, evil, death, and the devil forever. This is awesome!

2. We shouldn’t pray for future prophecy of God’s judgments to be released outside of God’s sovereign timing. There are some well meaning believers who, in their zeal to “hasten the Day of the Lord”, pray for specific biblical judgments to be released on the earth. For instance, in the book of Revelation God tells of 21 globally catastrophic judgments that will be released on the earth during a 7-year period of tribulation known as the seals, trumpets, and bowl judgments. God has a day in His heart when He will work His righteous justice in the form of those 21 judgments, but it seems that, from other prophetic indicators, now is not the time for those particular events to occur. Additionally, in our passion to understand prophetic scriptures and apply them to our lives, we must do so from a place of humility. God is not going to release the 21 book of Revelation judgments simply because a few people in a handful of different prayer meetings asked Him to. He will release those judgments when He is good and ready to do so, and it will be evident when the Global Church comes into corporate unity in prayer for those judgments to be released.

3. Don’t pray for persecution. When I read Fox’s Book of Martyrs over a decade ago, I initially romanticized Christian persecution. That missionaries would lay down their lives to share Jesus for a only few minutes before being murdered by the tribes to whom they were preaching made me think to myself, “Wow! Those missionaries are the example of faithful Christians.” I thought legitimate Christians needed to suffer bloodshed in some way to prove the authenticity of their faith. Although it is true that Jesus promised His followers persecution, nowhere in the Bible are believers encouraged to pray for it. The Bible instructs us to pray that we would be strengthened to escape temptations that often accompany persecution (Luke 21:36; Matthew 6:13 and reference point #2 on how to pray later in this article). Also, we see in Scripture that it is appropriate to pray for deliverance from persecution (Psalm 143; Philippians 1:19). It is simply weird and misguided to pray that evil would happen against you or other believers, so don’t do it.

4. Avoid praying from humanistic sentiment. It can be difficult at times to discern the difference between godly compassion and worldly compassion, yet there is a difference. It can seem so subtle that many miss it, but the consequences of following worldly compassion can be eternally devastating. Godly compassion draws men to Christ for the glory of God, while worldly compassion promotes empty humanistic sentiment founded on an ambiguous moral code separate from Christ and God’s glory. In other words, we pray and take action so that the hungry person would be fed, but we do so knowing that the deepest need of every human being on the planet is to be reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Food in the stomach does not equal eternal life. We are commanded to do good deeds so that people may glorify God (Matthew 5:16). We fall terribly short in our mission if in our good deeds and prayer for the hurting that we don’t make our ultimate aim for Christ and the glory of God. “For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world [had his stomach filled… had clean water to drink… and shelter over his head…] and yet lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)

5. Don’t pray from an attitude of self preservation. There are a small number of Christians who believe they were born to suffer martyrdom; there are multitudes more (at least, in our country) who believe they were born to live the American Dream. It is a foreign thought to them that a loving God could possibly allow– or worse yet– will, for them to endure difficulty. When they read or hear of the great and terrible events of the last days, they may be so bothered or unbelieving by it that they deceive themselves into thinking there is no way to truly understand future prophecy, so why should they be worried about it today? Then there are others who may accept that God allows times of great trial in the lives of His saints, but such trials are only fearful and void of joy or victory. On the contrary, we must pray from a place of faith rooted in biblical truth, not from a place of fear. As end times events recorded in the Bible unfold, we must accept that we are in a part of our Christian journey where we may quite literally have to take up our cross [put the noose around our neck, strap in the electric chair, take our place in front of the firing squad] and deny that we have any life to live, except to follow Jesus wherever He might lead, to safety or death. The point of life isn’t to not die. We are all going to die! The point of the Christian life is to be faithful.

Now that I have covered a few points of ways that we shouldn’t pray I would like to share a few thoughts about how we should pray as we see the day of Jesus’ return drawing nearer.

1. Pray for mercy. God is so rich in mercy! This is so important to understand as we see an increase of shaking on the earth. Before Christ returns, the whole world finds itself in a window of mercy. The Bible says, “…God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The prophet Joel declares to the nation of Israel that if they would declare a solemn prayer assembly, confess their sins, and cry out for God’s mercy, that God might relent from bringing disaster on them. (Joel 2:14) We always pray for mercy; it is the desire of God’s heart. James declares that “…mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13). Only God knows the level of severity needed to produce the greatest level of love in the hearts of the most people possible. However, we can believe that God loves all of His creation, and desires mercy, so we pray for the release of mercy on people, cities, nations, and situations.

2. Pray that you would escape the snare of temptation as the Day of the Lord draws near. Jesus said that no one on the face of the earth will be hidden from the trap that is coming at the Day of His return (Luke 21:34-35). He lists off a handful of “traps” that will ensnare many people at the end of the age and then instructs us to pray that we would have strength to escape its grip, so that we may be found ready to stand in His presence at His coming.

– Pray that you would not be deceived. In Matthew 24, Jesus’ first and most urgent warning to His disciples is to “…take heed that no on deceive you…” The deception we are warned of surrounds understanding rightly the identity of who Jesus is. Some speculate that this warning is only for people to watch out for “false christs”, or people who claim to be Jesus, but truly are not. I personally believe the greater warning is related to knowing who Jesus is by what He loves and also by what He hates. It is common for the media and various other voices in our culture to paint a picture of Jesus that has zero basis in biblical truth. If we end up being deceived into believing in a “jesus” that is other than who He has declared Himself to be, we will find ourselves loving the things He hates, hating the things He loves, and He will fight against us when He returns.

– Pray that you would not be offended. As the end time drama begins to unfold, there will be many opportunities to become offended at God. The fourth seal judgment in the book of Revelation explains that God gives a spiritual being named Death the power to kill 1/4 of the earth’s population in the period of only a month or two. If the fourth seal happened now, at current global population estimates, this means nearly 2 billion people would die, and we would have nowhere to put their bodies! When this many people die at once, it will impact everyone. Would you still believe in God’s goodness and love in the midst of His judgment– and believe that His judgement is right– or would you be reeling in doubt and offense? Only by the grace of God we will have unoffended hearts. We must pray to be free from offense.

– Pray that you would not indulge in sinful desires. The opportunities to conveniently indulge our selfish, sinful desires are increasing by the millisecond. Internet pornography, human sex- trafficking, gluttony, substance abuse, greed, destruction of marriage and family… the list goes on. Matthew 24:12 connects acts of sin and lawlessness to the decrease of love for God and others, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we want to be found ready and full of love for Jesus, we must pray for grace to flee from the increase of self-indulgence and lawlessness that will trap many.

– Pray that the cares of life (legitimate distractions) keep you from being alert. To me, this is probably the most disconcerting of all the warnings Jesus gave. The cares of life are things that are not clearly sin– many are actually legitimate cares– but the abundance of them increases the busyness of life and causes us to become spiritually dull. It is all too easy to get caught up in projects at work. We must not let the grind of the day in, day out distract us from God’s eternal purpose and timing. Only those found watching will not be ensnared.

– Pray that you would be strengthen to not deny Christ in persecution. I mentioned earlier about a time in my life when I romanticized persecution as being a way to prove the authenticity of a believer’s faith in Jesus. I now see that God definitely has purposes in His saints experiencing persecution, but one thing is for sure: enduring persecution faithfully requires a lot of grace. We don’t know how, when, or in what way persecution will come to us, but we do know that it will certainly come. Let’s pray that no matter what comes, whatever the cost– even if it costs us everything– that we may have the strength to not deny the name of our wonderful savior Jesus.

3. Pray for victorious, faithful, powerful advancement of the kingdom of God. Always remember to view biblical history, Church history, and current events through the big picture lens that God is restoring all things and making His dwelling place with man on the earth forever. When we pray through this lens, we are encouraged with the hope of God’s sovereign plan of redemption. All of the suffering is for only a moment, but the kingdom of God is forever. Jesus told us to pray, “Father… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is advancing, and we will see the convergence of heaven and earth in its fullness when the throne of God descends out of heaven and is set forever in righteousness on the holy hill of Jerusalem.

4. Pray that the Church would be purified and matured in the love of God and patience of Christ. Jesus is returning for a “Bride” [His Church] that is without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any mark (Ephesians 5:27). As we look over the landscape of the Church today, we see glimpses of her beautified destiny being fulfilled, but largely there are warts, scabs, and body odor proceeding from the Church that Jesus loves. We must contend for the spiritual beauty of the Bride of Christ and pray that she would be mature in love for one another and for her Bridegroom, Jesus. Our prayer for the Church must be even as the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

5. Pray for Israel. I will admit that I know very little about the nation of Israel, or even how to pray for God’s chosen people. I am convinced, however, that God is not done with Israel and that they play a vital role in His redemptive plan. Currently, the Jewish people have been given spiritual blindness in part because they have rejected their Messiah, but God will not forget His people. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15). The body is not complete until both Jew and Gentile come together into “one new man.” When the nation of Israel puts their trust in Christ, the Bible says that the result that proceeds will seem like resurrection from the dead (Romans 11:15). If you are like me and just don’t have a clue how to pray for Israel, the best way to start is to pray that God would share with you what is on His heart concerning the Jewish people and to ask Him how to pray for them.

We are living in great and terrible times. As we respond in prayer God will begin to unfold his master plan of the restoration of all things to our hearts and we will be positioned to partner with Him in releasing this plan. I hope the thoughts that I have shared in this article will be helpful to you as you take your place on the watchtower wall of intercession.

The Global Prayer Room

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We are back in Kansas City from our week long trip in Chicago. This is my first day back in the global prayer room (GPR). We are all meditating on Matthew 6 and gearing up for 2 hours of intercessory prayer for the nation of Israel and the conflict in the Middle East.

I am so thankful that I get to serve The Lord in an environment of 24/7 prayer and worship! I am honored that The Lord set me and our family on the wall of intercession, full time as our occupation, just a little over two years ago. God is good and faithful!

July 2014 Newsletter Update

Always on Mission

This past month I (Stuart) traveled back to Chicago for a couple days to help lead Chicago Prayer Network’s summer quarterly meeting. Since we are a one-car family, we decided to leave our van with Stephanie and John so they could have some wheels while I was gone. I made my way to Chicago on the Megabus for the first time. What an interesting experience! I thought it would be a good idea to travel through the night, so that I could sleep on the bus and maximize my time during the day. I made my plans, but the Lord determined my steps. I was unable to sleep on the bus because the seats were very tight and did not recline more than a typical coach airline seat. Also, our bus stopped in St. Louis to pick up additional passengers at 2am. Sure enough, the empty chair right next to me was filled with a new, very awake, smiling traveling companion. I soon discovered that God purposefully sat me next to a young man who was returning from a metaphysics conference.

His name was Scott, and he was really into spiritual things. Although we believed very different things about Jesus, the Bible, and God’s redemptive plan, I knew that his passion for spiritual understanding could provide an opportunity for me to share the Gospel with him. I began praying for the Lord to open a door in our conversation and I remembered a wise person once tell me, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care about them.” I thought to myself, “I bet this guy has a really interesting story.” It is amazing what God will do when you just ask a person, “Tell me your story, how did you become interested in spiritual things?” Scott did, in fact, have a very interesting story, and I was so glad he shared it with me. As he talked, I found that I really admired his desire to love all people unconditionally and to discover how to walk in peace. After he finished, without any awkwardness or pressure, he turned to me an asked me to share my story. God answered my prayer! I was able to share with him my testimony of Jesus and how I have grown in relationship with my Creator. He listened to me without passing judgement, even though I spoke of the guilt of all people before God, the mercy God shows sinners like me through salvation found in Christ alone, and the future certainty of the Resurrection- those in Christ to eternal life and those not in Christ to eternal punishment.

Our discussion was so passionate that another passenger came back and told us, as politely as possible, to put a cork in it. We were both having such a good time sharing with each other that I didn’t care as much about sleep as I did before we arrived in St. Louis! Before we concluded our conversation that night, Scott gave me permission to pray for him. I prayed that God would direct his spiritual journey and that he would discover true life in Jesus. I really desired to see a visible change in Scott before I left. We parted ways after exchanging contact information, however, and there didn’t seem to be any noticeable shift. Would you please pray with me, that Scott would encounter Jesus in truth? I know that God’s word does not return void and that my appointment with this man was not accidental, but divinely orchestrated for the glory of God. I am so glad that God gave me an opportunity to meet such a kind hearted, interesting, and special person like Scott.

Urgent Call to Prayer 777

Two years ago, Billy Graham, one of the modern fathers of our faith, sounded the alarm and called our nation to a time of repentance and fasting. Sadly, Rev. Graham’s urgent warning fell largely on deaf ears. Our nation has continued in a downward spiral of unrighteousness. It is hard to believe the increase of moral calamities that have come to pass in our nation in just two short years. From the so-called re-definition of marriage, to attacks against religious freedom, to mass murders, to the rampant sexual objectification of women and children, to church scandal, to major Christian denominations denying the final authority of the Holy Bible we have witness in part what the psalmist described in Psalm 2:1-3 “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,“Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” The cry of popular, governmental, and academic culture has been “We will not submit to, or even recognize, God’s prescribed law!”

During the national day of prayer this year, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz resounded the alarm and called the Church to a week of prayer and fasting. She asked every believer to pray for our nation for 1 hour for 6 days, and on the 7th day hold a solemn assembly of prayer and fasting for 7 hours. In a unified effort, with many ministries nationwide, IHOPKC responded to Anne Graham’s urgent call to prayer. We spent 7 days repenting for our sins and the sins of our nation and asking God to have mercy by sending a great spiritual awakening. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” God will honor His word and respond in mercy if we respond in humility and repentance.

Family Update

FamThis month has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. There have been moments of great sadness; there has also been moments of great joy. At the beginning of the month we discovered that our neighbor a few houses down from ours was tragically shot to death by a 13 year old boy. A week ago, one of our previous interns passed away from ongoing health problems. Just a few days ago, we received news that one of Stuart’s high school friends suddenly passed away from a yet undetermined cause. Our hearts grieve with the family and friends over the loss of three very special lives.

Amid these tragic losses we have also celebrated some special family milestones. John is now a full-time walker and is enjoying his newfound freedom of mobility. We have also started introducing him to the Children’s Equipping Center on the missions base so that he can grow in the knowledge of Jesus with some other little friends. Additionally, this month marked the anniversary of our 5th year of marriage! It is becoming abundantly clear how quickly time passes and how necessary it is to soak in every moment, every season, every relationship because life is “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

June 2014 Newsletter Update

Praying For the Persecuted Church in Iraq

ISISIt’s hard to believe, but the situation in the Middle East has gone from bad to worse in the last few months. The Lord has particularly directed my attention to the nation of Iraq as a place to focus my prayers for the persecuted Church. The reports that are coming out of Iraq recently are very disturbing and tell of unspeakable atrocities that are being propagated by the hands of wicked men who are seeking to advance their false religion through violence and terror.

If you have been following the news in the last month, you more than likely have heard of the Islamic terrorist organization that goes by the name of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS is an off-shoot from the infamous terrorist group Al-Qaeda. In fact, Al-Qaeda broke ties with ISIS because they consider ISIS to be too extreme for their taste. Sadly, ISIS has swept into the nation of Iraq like a flood: pillaging villages, kidnapping women and children, burning churches, killing innocent people by the brutal methods of beheading, un-judicial public executions, and crucifixion of Christians. They are filling mass graves with bodies everywhere they go. So far ISIS has claimed 4 major cities in Iraq and they are seeking to gain control of Baghdad which would essentially give them control over the Iraqi government. Over 600,000 refugees have fled from their homes, but few have found opportunity to flee into the safety of another nation’s borders. These refugees have lost everything and are living in constant vulnerability to the dangers of exposure to desert conditions and continued terrorist raids.

As you can see, the situation is dire and tragic. What does this mean to those of us who live continents away, dwelling in the safety of our air-conditioned American homes? How do we– how can we– respond to such awful, wicked injustice? As Christian believers, the primary way we need to respond is through intercessory prayers. The best way to pray for the persecuted Church is to pray that God will give them grace, strength, and boldness to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ. Some of these believers may even be martyred for their testimony of Jesus. Let’s pray that “they overcome… by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and [that] they do not love their lives to the death… for God will give them the Crown of Life”(Revelation 12:11). Additionally, we need to pray that God pushes back the spiritual darkness that is doing harm and that He releases the light of the gospel in these dark places (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

Ephesians 6:12 declares that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” The power that is driving ISIS and other wicked men is demonic influences, mindsets, and evil spiritual forces. When we pray, God moves! The Bible and Church history are full of examples of how God responds in power to the prayers of simple, weak men and women like you and I. Will you take up the torch of prayer in your generation? Lives, salvations, even kingdoms hang in the balance, and your prayers can tip the scales!

Family Update

Keisman Big FamilyThis last month we enjoyed celebrating my (Stuart) father’s 60th birthday. It was a really special time as our family and friends joined together to honor my dad and thank him for the positive impact he has had on all of our lives. Since everyone was together in the same place we were able to take a big family picture.

Back in KC, our family has experienced some relative success tending a small backyard container garden. In the past, all of our attempts to grow anything edible have failed. This year, however, we have two bell pepper plants, two chili pepper, two sweet basil, two spicy basil, one cilantro, and one gigantic tomato plant that are all doing great and bearing fruit! I think the big difference has been our commitment to water the garden. It turns out that plants like water! Who would have thought?

John has finally started walking! It is so cute watching him high-step his way from place to place. He is still working on becoming more stable, but is navigating two-legged-style like a champ. We have also enjoyed a new increase in snuggles. Little John hasn’t ever been a very snuggly baby, but for whatever reason he has recently decided that long hugs (5-10 seconds… we’ll take it) with mom and dad is something that he now enjoys. He is so darn cute!

May 2014 Newsletter Update

Learning About Prayer Cultures

St. LouisRecently, I had an opportunity to travel to St. Louis with a couple of my co-workers to meet with a pastor named Jim and his prayer leadership team. Jim pastors a 700 member “prayer-centered” church called Destiny Church. For the past six years, the structure of Destiny Church and all of their activities flow from the central value that Jesus is worthy of all worship, adoration, and agreement. This means that the majority of their resources, energy, and focus is spent building a church culture where continual ministry to God (prayer) is expected and normal. Additionally, as a church, they host 24 hours of church-wide prayer meetings throughout the week. This is remarkable! We were really blessed to be able to visit Jim and dialogue with him how to resource pastors who desire to shift the culture of their churches to become prayer-centered communities. I cannot overstate how important our time at Destiny was! I really sensed that the Lord imparting wisdom, understanding, and strategy to our team as these leaders shared their experiences of the last six years.

The men and women of Destiny Church have a vision to see the body of Christ enter into their eternal calling as a kingdom of priests before God. One of the prayer leaders put it this way: “Prayer can’t simply be something that we strongly agree with or believe in as Christians… but we must see prayer as the sole characteristic that defines us as believers. We commune with God.” This statement may seem imbalanced if we think of prayer only as the religious activity wherein we talk to God and ask Him for things. When we consider prayer from an eternal perspective, however, and realize that it is the all-encompassing calling of our lives in which we give God our attention and commune with Him, then we can see the bigger picture of why this value must be the center of our church culture. God is building a dwelling place with men on the earth, and its epicenter is the place where people sing of His glory and agree fully with His heart.

Surprised With a Generous Gift!

Our New VanFor the past four to five months, Stephanie and I have been casually talking about our need for a larger vehicle. After John was born, we quickly realized why families typically drive in vans– babies come with a lot of stuff and do not travel light! For family and ministry reasons we have been traveling often, primarily to Chicago. We have been so fortunate to have had such a nice and reliable car for the last few years, but long road trips have been difficult. Back in January, I began to research what our options were in finding a larger vehicle. I soon stopped the search as we did not have the means to move forward with a purchase and remain debt free. Also, as we asked the Lord what we should do the phrase, “Wait and be content” came to my mind, so we put the request for a larger vehicle in the back of our personal prayer list.

Just before this past Mother’s Day, we received a call from Stephanie’s mother and step-father, Sue and Steve, who live in Iowa. They called to tell Stephanie that as a Mother’s Day present for our growing family, they wanted to buy us a reliable minivan! We continued our research and found an amazing minivan made by Ford called a Transit Connect Wagon. This is by far the nicest car that we have ever owned and it feels unreal. Every time I get in it I feel like I am driving a new rental. Our new van seats 7, has about as much head room as my old school bus, and has 104 cubit feet of cargo space for us to haul John’s entire room! I think this vehicle will meet our family’s needs for a long time to come. Thank you, Sue and Steve, and thank You, Jesus! This generous gift from our family was a complete surprise and a very real answer to prayer.

April 2014 Newsletter Update

Illuminate Chicago 2014 Debrief

Illuminate Chicago 2014_2 At the beginning of April, we went to Illinois for a week to help lead the second annual 24 hour prayer meeting for spiritual awakening in Chicago with the Chicago Prayer Network. About 20 different churches from around the Chicagoland area came together to worship Jesus and agree with His purposes for their city. Last year proved to be very fruitful as many shared personal testimonies of answered prayer. Additionally, the participating churches gained fresh vision for strategic prayer, church unity, and true fellowship. We expect to hear the same and more from this special gathering this year.

Keismans PrayingYet again, we just want to thank all of you who have partnered with us through prayer and finances so that we could be free to serve the praying church in Chicago. We know that God will richly bless you for sowing into good spiritual soil. It is amazing to see how God is stirring the hearts of His people to not settle only for what can be accomplished through the strength of their own hands, but to seek Him to do what only He can do in their city! It is amazing, inspiring, and beautiful to see the Church go beyond denominational walls for the purpose of unifying in worship the One True Living God!

IHOPKC Mission Base Testimonies

One of our interns recently shared with me that she had an opportunity to help lead an evangelistic Bible study with some YWAM missionaries in the area this last week. She said that there was one woman who came to the Bible study who began to weep as they talked about the love of Christ and His sacrifice to bring us into His family. This young woman began to confess that she didn’t feel worthy and that she had lost all hope in life. Before she came to the Bible study she had swallowed a bottle of pills in an attempt to kill her self, but she came to the group in an attempt to “give God a chance.” During that meeting, she experienced the love of God, was filled with hope, and decided she didn’t want to die. They took her to the hospital immediately and her life was saved!

An IHOPU student named Chase recently shared with us that during his mission trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, he had an opportunity to share the message of Jesus with someone he met at a college university. Immediately Chase discovered that there was a language barrier between him and this other student. Thinking of a way that he could share the Gospel with this student he took out his smartphone and used an application called “Google Translate” which automatically translated his speech into the native language of the young man he was speaking to. It turned out that the student he approached was from a people group in the nation of China who had never heard the message of Jesus, and he moved to the United States because he wanted to know more about God. Chase was able to pray with this young man, download a Bible in his native language on his phone, and download the IHOPKC prayer room application and directed him to the “All Nations Prayer Room” webstream so that he could experience day and night worship and prayer in the Chinese language. Praise God for technology! The opportunity for global evangelization is now greater than any time in history. We are truly living in an unique era; His return is near, even at the door!

John’s 1st Birthday

John ExploringOn May 4th, our little John will turning 1 year old! Our lives have definitely seemed richer since the Lord blessed us with this special little boy. He brings joy to our hearts and smiles to our faces as we get to experience the honor of discovering who the Lord created him to be. We pray that the Lord would grant to us His wisdom on how to shepherd John’s heart as he grows.

Before he was born we sensed the Lord impress on our hearts that we should name our baby John (not knowing if he was a boy or a girl) because he would possess the same heart of the John the Baptist. Many who read the Bible see John the Baptist as a wild-haired crazy man who lived in the desert, preaching fire and brimstone messages, but this is a shallow and incomplete picture of who he was. John the Baptist was a “Friend of the Bridegroom” (John 3:29). He was the greatest prophet ever born of women (Matthew 11:11). He was a forerunner who prepared a generation for the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Luke 1:17). It is our prayer that in whatever John decides to pursue in his life that he would be great in the Lord, a friend of the Bridegroom (Jesus), and prepare people for Jesus’ return. We know that God is raising up many like our little John all over the earth to prepare a generation of people who will cry out like Jacob, “I will not let go of you [Jesus]…” It is our heart’s desire to see a generation arise who will “hasten the day of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:12) and refuse to be passed by.

March 2014 Newsletter Update

Illuminate Chicago 2014

Illuminate Chicago 2014Last month, we shared some highlights of what the Lord is doing in Chicago and how you could partner with us in encouraging, equipping, and strengthening the praying church in this city. We want to thank so many of you for how you responded to the Lord by giving gererously to this work! Through you, God has already provided over 60% of our Chicago Prayer Movement budget goal for this year in special gifts and monthly partnership increases! We thank God for the blessing of having such an amazing team of ministry partners like you!

Save the date! From April 11th-12th, the Chicago Prayer Network will be hosting Illuminate Chicago 2014. We would be honored if you would join us for 24 hours of worship and seeking God together for His purpose over the Chicagoland area. This event will be held at Trinity Community Church located at 1190 West Winchester Road, Libertyville, Illinois 60048. Iluminate Chicago 2014 will begin with an opening celebration at 8pm on Friday, April 11th, and continue until 8pm on Saturday, April 12th. We are expecting this to be a very special time and are very excited to see how God will respond to us when we join with one voice and one mind to glorify His name! Hope to see you there.

Keisman Family Update

John using his walkerWhen we look at John, we are blown away at how fast he has grown! In just a little over a month, he will be a year old! John is more mobile than ever, now that he is pulling himself up, cruising around furniture, and walking with the assistance of a walker. He is so curious and funny! We are noticing that he is more obviously imitating our physical movements, which is a good indicator that he may be ready to begin communicating through sign language. We are pretty sure that he is starting to make the hand sign for “milk” before feedings. In other news, John also caught his first cold this month (followed by Mommy and Daddy). Even as we write this, we are all under the weather and slowly recovering. Thankfully, our schedule is a bit more flexible this week than usual due to a short interim between internship tracks. Please pray for us when you receive this, that Jesus would heal and sustain us, and that we would be well for our upcoming trip this weekend.  John at the piano

February 2014 Newsletter Update

The Praying Church in Chicago

CPNAs most of you know, we have many special relationships and personal history in the Chicagoland area. I was born in the city and lived in the north suburb of Zion for most of my life. Stephanie moved to Chicago to attend Bible college and continued to live there for 10 years before we moved to Kansas City. Many of you who read this newsletter also have deep roots in the Chicago area. We have been honored to stay connected not only with our friends and family, but also with what the Lord is doing by strengthening the Church in Chicago through prayer. I don’t know how else to say it, but God is doing something remarkable in regards to prayer and worship in Northern Illinois. Recently, I’ve had opportunities to hear the reports of church and prayer leaders from various local churches, prayer houses, and college universities. The common refrain that came from the lips of each of these leaders was that God is sovereignly filling people with a deeper hunger to know Jesus and to partner with Him through prayer to see revival come to their cities.

Stephanie and I, along with a few of our co-workers here on the IHOPKC missions base, have felt our hearts stirred to come alongside what the Lord is doing in Chicago. One of the ways that we’ve been given opportunity to serve is through a ministry called Chicago Prayer Network, whose vision is to unify and equip churches to build a prayer culture that results in a corporate cry to Jesus for a Great Awakening in Chicago. Through CPN, we will provide coaching and encouragement for pastors and prayer leaders in the Chicagoland area to help them grow in building a culture of prayer in the unique context of their local church communities and specific church visions.

One of the practical implications of our commitment to this new ministry (which is in addition to my current commitments to the Prayer Room and to the IHOP missions base in Kansas City) is that I (sometimes with Stephanie and John) will be traveling to Chicago a minimum of once every quarter to strengthen the praying church. God is opening new doors for us, but we cannot go through them alone. At our current monthly income level, we are unable to include the cost of related ministry travel expenses (which we project to be about $2000 this year) into our family budget. If each of our monthly financial partners were able to increase their gifts by just 10% (i.e. $20 monthly gift increased to $22), this would cover all of our projected ministry travel costs for this year.

If you are able and your heart is stirred, would you partner with us in a special gift, or perhaps by increasing your current monthly gift to enable us to answer God’s call to strengthen the praying Church in Chicago? We have included a “Chicago Prayer Movement Giving Card” and self-addressed envelope with this newsletter for your convenience. Thank you so much for your faithful support. We can’t tell you how much it means to us to have you join us in this mission!

Keisman Family Update

Snow dayFebruary has been a sweet month in our home! Kansas City saw its first major snowfall of the year early in the month, and we decided to take John outside during the storm (warm and snug in a baby snowsuit, of course). He was unimpressed and (to our amusement) did not smile once during our ten minute snow adventure. John is officially 9 months old now, and is cute as can be!

Stuart and I enjoyed our 5th Valentine’s Day together this month and had fun trying to remember how we have observed the holiday each year since we met. We also celebrated my brother Andy’s 25th birthday, and we made a short trip to the Chicagoland area for Stuart’s sister Carla’s baby shower. While in Illinois, we had the opportunity to stay with dear friends who have two young children, one of whom is right around John’s age. John picked up some new skills from his little friends and is now trying to master crawling on his hands and knees (instead of on his belly). He is starting to occasionally pull himself into standing position. I have the thought nearly every day that our little guy is growing SO fast! John is quickly approaching a year old, and it hits me regularly that he will never be this young again. I find myself daily lingering in our early morning snuggles and thanking Jesus for this precious gift of a child.