A few months ago, I heard from a friend who is a missionary in the southern hemisphere. He wrote, “I have struggled immensely with language shock, apathy in my walk with God, spiritual warfare, despair, and depression. I am tired. I have felt so alone here.” Below is the counsel and offer to help I gave him.
Fold a piece of unlined paper into three equal parts like you would a letter you are about to put into an envelope. Open it up and draw a line in those two creases. Turn it landscape orientation and write the following at the top of each of the three columns:
God’s Word: In My Words: “I Will…” Statements:
Open to Ephesians 1:1 and write as many verses as you can in that first column taking about 10 minutes (including beginning with a prayer to hear God’s voice). Yes, write the verses out word for word. This is a form of meditation that addresses “Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder.” Ten minutes.
Now take the next 10 minutes to re-write the meaning of what you just copied from the Bible. Here you want to rephrase it like you are telling a 12 year old what the passage means. Be sure to highlight any insights into God that are revealed in the passage you just wrote.
Now take the next 10 minutes writing statements affirming what you are going to do to obey this passage. Each statement should begin with the words, “I Will.” Some passages are harder to do this with than others, but it can be done with any section of God’s Word. There is an acrostic (S.P.E.C.K.) that can help with the more difficult sections:
- Sin—Is there a Sin identified in this text that I need to confess or avoid.
- Prayer/Praise/Promise—Is there a Prayer I should pray? A Praise I should give? Or a Promise I should claim?
- Example—Is there an Example in this passage I should imitate?
- Command—Is there a Command I should put into practice?
- Knowledge—Is there Knowledge here that I need to learn?
Do this Monday through Friday. Saturday take a break from writing. Review the five sections you have written. Ask God to reveal who you know who needs to hear one of the interesting things you have learned about God through your study this week. Thank God for what he has revealed and ask him to reveal even more about himself next week. On Sunday begin by asking for wisdom to discern which “I Will…” Statement you most need to pursue. Now list 3-4 steps you can take next week to put that “I Will…” Statement into practice.
Start the process over again the next Monday. Thirty minutes a day. Work through Ephesians. Scan these into your computer and email them to me as attachments. I will respond to them as a friend, brother and accountability partner.
The only way this can get any better is to start doing the process with 3-5 people from your neighborhood. It is amazing how much more we hear from God when we do this process with a group. The other benefit is they will help provide accountability for you.
God is glorified when you reach out a hand to those doing his work. Thank you for dedicating yourself to encouragement!
Thanks, Michael. Encouraging cross-cultural missionaries is a real joy!
You have great tenancity and focus, John. Your “intentionality” is a good example to all of us. You’re persistence in staying on task with this message for the past several years has been a blessing and an effective means of reaching out to both disciples and seekers. Your partnership in the gospel is a great encouragement to me. Thank you.
Thanks, Mike. It is great to partner with you in discipling believers to be obedient to Jesus and take up the calling to make disciples!