This is a difficult blog post. It is about an Exponential conference on April 23-26 of nearly 5,000 church planters who looked deeply into their hearts and considered how they were being “sifted.” That was the topic of the conference – “Sifted.” Why “Sifted”? It comes from Jesus’ words of warning to Peter in Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” During the conference, church planter after church planter testified about their sifting by Satan–by lust and pride and tarnished by discouragement, frequently leading to sexual immorality. Tod provided us a good overview of this conference in his blog Sifted:Powerful Theme, Powerful Conference.
In response to attending Exponential Jackie Rizo, church planter with her husband Sergio in Reunion Christian Community in Nashville, wrote a blog about their marital difficulties. The blog, entitled “Intimate Foes or Intimate Allies,” describes their personal marital struggles while they were missionaries in Mexico. Soon after posting the blog, Jackie emailed Becky Van Rheenen asking for prayers. A portion of the email is used with her permission:
I’d like to ask for your prayers. Last night, I wrote a blog post about the time when our marriage almost fell apart. I didn’t post it until this afternoon and in just 20 minutes my inbox is flooded with personal stories from dear friends and then from another whom I’ve not spoken to in 10 years. I ask for prayers of wisdom and the ability to stand alongside of each of them while they fight for their marriages. My heart is deeply saddened by the “sifting” that each of them are going through or have gone through. Thanks for always listening to me!
You can read and respond to Jackie’s blog at http://www.livingaredeemedlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/intimate-foesorintimate-allies.html. I am thankful for Jackie and Sergio’s transparency and leadership in the kingdom. Their journey is beneficial to us. If you are being sifted by Satan, are overwhelmed and finding it difficult to cope, would you contact Becky, Tod, or me? We want to walk with you, pray with you, struggle with you . . . and help you become the man or woman that God desires. We want you to know that we are praying for you that your faith will not fail but that you will turn and strengthen God’s people (paraphrased from Luke 22:32).
The Exponential Conference next year will once again be in Orlando, Florida. The dates are April 22-25. Until May 18 you can register both yourself and your spouse for the conference for only $99. Put “Mission Alive” as your organization while registering. We will rent a house or apartments for all of us to stay in one place and also invite others to join us during the evenings. The topic, as illustrated, is DiscipleShift. Todd Wilson, who organizes the conference, will provide us a forum next year to speak in either classes or during a pre-conference intensive. He says, “Mission Alive has much to say about this topic.”
For the sake of His kingdom,