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Thailand Expedition 2015

As a part of our reporting to all of you who have partnered with us, we are kicking off a blog in order to keep you informed throughout the trip. It’s always wise to begin a journey with prayer, so let’s begin Alpine Expedition 2015 that way. In “The Heart of Prayer, What Jesus Teaches Us” Jerram Barrs quotes Francis Schaeffer saying: “We draw a distinction between men and women who are building the kingdom of God, and men and women who pray that God will build his kingdom and will be pleased to use their efforts as he does.”

As he does throughout the book, Barrs goes on to discuss how Jesus did this. In his high priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus prays about his coming death and also about the effectiveness of what he has been teaching his disciples, all for the purpose of glorifying God through his life and death. Verse 1 says, “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…”

Barrs says: “ We need to ask: ‘Who is this One who does not assume that his work and his teaching will be effective? Who is this One who acknowledges the need of the Father to ensure that his work and word will accomplish their purposes?’ He is none other than the Son of God, the eternal second person of the Trinity, the Righteous One, the One who always does his Father’s will.

The One who prays this prayer of humble dependence is not someone weak and disobedient to his Father’s commandments – someone like you or me. The One who prays this prayer is not someone whose work is halfheartedly accomplished – someone like you or me. Nor is the One who prays this prayer someone whose work is done with mixed and confused motivations – someone like you or me. The One who prays this prayer is not someone whose teaching varies in its faithfulness and value – someone like you or me when we teach. Rather, the One who prays this prayer is Jesus. The One who prays this prayer is One whose teaching and work is always good, is always faithful, and is always true. This was so through all his years as a laborer at carpentry, when, we can be sure, he demonstrated the same dependence on his Father. And it was so in his years of public ministry.”

As God would have it, early, early on the morning of May 1, I found myself with a few free minutes to sit down and read a book. Moments like that are unusual as of late, particularly with a big event like a Boot Camp looming in a few hours. In those few moments, I grabbed my copy of a 286 year old book that I had come across a couple years ago. The title: A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life is a lesson all on its’ own. It was written by William Law, and though the language is dated, the message remains fresh and challenging. As I read, I hear echoes of David Platt’s recent work entitled Radical. In almost every page he seems to be saying, “Do you say you believe God, or do you DEMONSTRATE that you believe Him?” That Friday morning I was reading the chapter on praising God through song and prayer and came across the following paragraph.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 9.15.54 PM

He was referencing the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:16-34. I grabbed my Bible and read the passage. Verses 25,26 stuck out. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
There were likely few people on the globe at that time that knew what was happening in that dank dungeon in Philippi. And yet the God of the universe was listening to His people singing praises and praying to him. It was a good reminder for us as our team would soon be gathering to meet and ask the Lord to work.

As we prepared to pray, I shared with our team what the Lord had given me that morning from a dusty passage in an old book. We asked the question…What would it be like if God, in answer to our prayer, literally shook this place, as he did for Paul and Silas…breaking the bonds of sin and darkness, and releasing people to freedom in Christ, not only in Thailand but here at home in our hearts at Alpine and in our schools, and places of work?

It seemed appropriate to have it come into our heads how the prison was shaked and how the doors opened when St. Paul and Silas sang (and prayed as the passage says). It was the first night of Boot Camp, Friday, May 1 around 9pm when began to seek the Lord and ask Him to move in and through us for His glory. Very few people on the planet knew that we were meeting and praying in our underground Senior High meeting space at Alpine. However, we are serving the God who has proven that He knows and hears.
Fast forward to around 12:20pm on Saturday…our team was preparing for lunch, scattered around the church studying, meeting, and preparing. Rob Dame, Phil Muston, and I were gathered in the church office around a cell phone having a conference call with Missionary Ford. We were discussing how the cabinets at the orphanage were to be built, when all of a sudden…

From MLive: In terms of magnitude, the 4.2 earthquake that originated in Kalamazoo County was no big deal: It was one of 18 in the world on May 2 with a magnitude of at least 4.0.

But the quake here was noteworthy by two other measures: Where it occurred and the number of people who felt it. An estimated 4.4 million people live in the five-state region that experienced the tremors, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

That’s why the Kalamazoo County quake was the only May 2 quake deemed “significant” by the USGS.

“These smaller quakes can happen anywhere, but a 4.2 is a little more rare and it’s even more rare for Michigan,” said Don Blakeman, a USGS  geophysicist. “Plus, so many people felt it.

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Map from the U.S. Geological Survey website that shows the areas that experienced the tremors from the May 2 earthquake.
“It’s a big deal,” he said.
Taken from http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2015/05/feds_on_michigan_earthquake_un.html

Perhaps, God had other reasons to give the Michigan mitten a firm little shake on May 2. But I think it would be unwise to think our prayers from a dark, and sometimes dank, underground locale were not heard. Perhaps it would also be unwise to discount the possibility that it was indeed in answer to our prayer that God chose to do what he did, AND to time it, so that it happened when we were on a conference call with our missionary Dave Ford half way around the world, so that he could experience it along with us. I also think it would be foolish to not thank God for it all, and continue to pray that God will complete what He may have started for His glory on May 2 at 12:23 p.m.
You’ll notice, if you take the time to read the Acts 16 passage again, that the aftershocks from that earthquake were felt in the hearts of those that God had intended to draw to himself that day.
I would like to ask you to consider some time each day to pray for our team in the next two weeks as we embrace all the opportunities that God is giving us. The itinerary for our ministry is listed below. We are asking that the aftershocks of May 2 will take effect both in our hearts and in the hearts of those we will be blessed to minister to both here and there.
Who knows…God might…(Daniel 3) build his kingdom and be pleased to use our efforts as He does.

Note: You can download a PDF of William Laws book at: https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/spiritualformation/texts/law_aseriouscalltoadevoutandholylife.pdf

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