CHURCH PLANTING UPDATE AND PRAYER REQUEST

SETTING THE CAPTIVES FREE

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

-ISAIAH 61:1-3

Tonight my heart is heavy and excited at the same time. I feel a bit of the weight of being sorrowful and at the same time rejoicing.

I saw a friend I had not seen for a year or so. Actually, I saw a friend's brother and mistaked him for my friend. 

In the short conversation, I found out my friend has been locked up since he disappeared. My heart ached for him as I heard a small bit about his story. At the same time, I just left a conversation with my wife about starting services and bringing our neighbors into the home the LORD has blessed us to steward for the time. We discussed the implications of opening our home to people we have not met yet, but who I am eager to meet and worship with. Then I heard laughter which led to the revelation.

Jesus has a heart for prisoners. His people are called to have the same heart for prisoners. It pleases God when we care for His people. The text I posted on this page points to Jesus' coming where He proclaimed the words of Isaiah in Luke 4:18. Jesus is the Holy Spirit anointed God who has come to bring the Kingdom of God to bear on men like me...and I am praying also on my friend in jail. 

The gospel is what sets us free from the bondage and shackles of sin under the lordship of Satan. It breaks chains and sets the captives free. My hope is to be accepted when I see my friend and that God has worked in him a heart ready to hear the hope of the gospel. 

Please pray for access to my friend. Please pray the gospel would bring freedom and hope. We are praying for transformation for this man and his family as well. We want to encourage him and to teach him of all the promises Jesus has made available. We hope to worship with him in ecstatic joy as God saves another of His beloved children. Please pray we would be blessed with this opportunity.

Please pray for boldness in our proclamation here and that we would have many more opportunities to reach out to those in jail, alone in retirement homes, and with the families of those who cannot be with them for so many reasons. Pray God would work.

As I reflect on the rest of Isaiah 61, I see so much opportunity to be the light of Christ as we proclaim the same hope He did in the message of the gospel. 

We can feed their families as the Lord provides. We can read books to their children and care for their elderly parents. We can help with their yard work while they are unable. We can assist with bills. 

We have little to give in a financial sense, but we have so much to give in love and gospel proclamation and application. 

Please pray we would be a blessing to those in need. 

Pray that help would come to join us in this work of God. 

Thanks for your prayers.

In Christ,

Mike

P.S. I plan on returning to the Righteousness series. I am not finished. I had to take two days to catch up on homework for a counseling class and read a book. I highly recommend it: Sinclair Ferguson's The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction. It dealt with a lot of the same things the Lord was pressing in on my heart in the Righteousness series. It addresses quite bit more I haven't spoken of and is worth the read. 

Please join me in prayer for help on the final details of articulating our vision and for help establishing Near North Baptist Church as a legal entity. I don't know how to set up the paper work and need counselors. 

We are also praying for a brother and his family from the missions department of the BMAA that is battling a pretty serious illness. We invite you to join us in prayer for healing, strengthened faith, support for the family, and the joy of Christ which we have and the world does not. We want God's goodness to be clearly evident in the hearts, minds, and lives of our brothers and sisters who are walking down the path of joy in a time of suffering. 

Thanks for these prayers as well.