The Hidden Prayer Room

I had a conversation regarding Ember with a good friend several days ago  — where we are now and where we are heading. I communicated my hope for the seats around the table to continue to diversify, as we converse around how we pray as the church in our region.

While I know that the Lord desires his church to pray together in unity, whatever that looks like, I also know that we are at the front edge of that reality in our region. But the truth is, whether or not anyone else shows up to the table, the Lord has specifically planted us [Ember and a number of other people/organizations peppered throughout our region] in this place. He has specifically asked us to workout, in practice, the word — my house will be called a house of prayer (Matthew 21).

So here we are. Working out this questions: How will we pray? What will it look like? What does it look like to pray across multiple biblical perspectives? How do we do this together?

As my friend and I continued, our conversation went deeper in many places, but the thing I took away was that I’m glad to be building a culture of prayer for a region. In my heart of hearts, whether or not our staff ever grows beyond its current size or adds any more hours of prayer throughout the week. I can say that we are working out the prophetic word of the Lord that his house will pray. And I am confident that the prayers offered from this little ember will impact the people of Oklahoma and beyond, whether realized or not. We can celebrate in the wins and partner with the hardships, because we are experiencing them in an incredibly practical, day-in-day-out kind of a way. The prayers lifted and the aroma of worship wafted from this place is partnering with what God is doing, in people we know and in people we may never personally know.

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly
— Matthew 6

A wild, yet true reality.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Assurance of Our Coming Redemption (Revelation 1:7)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
— Revelation 1:7

What does it mean to behold something that is not right in front of me? With eyes of faith we must peer through the darkness of the night towards the morning light. Through loving meditation of the holy scriptures, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we can perceive Jesus who is our hope.

Jesus will return just as He said He would. It is not a metaphor or a fairy tale. Just as He ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, so He will descend to the earth as the king of kings in a physical body. He is coming to make all the wrong things right. His appearing will be undeniable and will be clearly seen by all; both the living and the dead will witness His procession across the earth into Jerusalem.  This is the “great and terrible” day of the Lord; great for the saints, but terrifying for those who oppose Him. He comes to judge the living and the dead. He will reward those who put their faith in Him, but will cast those who oppose Him into the lake of fire. The Antichrist will lead the kings of the nations to overthrow God, but they will realize that they chose wrong.

So there will be mourning because of the severe judgements of God on the earth, but there will also be a mourning of the lovesick bride for Jesus. John is quoting Zechariah 12:10-14. He is assuring The Lord’s promise to Israel that they will recognize Jesus as the messiah and will cry out to Him. They will love Him and yearn for Him. And this promise is for all the tribes of earth. Though many will oppose God, there will also be many people among the nations that will be faithful to Jesus. He will be recognized as the desire of the Nations.

I live with a family of five; a mom and a dad with three boys, ages 4-12. This summer the couple went on a mission trip for two weeks and this was longest they had been away from their boys. When they returned home, the 4 year old was overwhelmed with emotion. He was excited, full of Joy, and crying with the ache of their absence; all these experiences at once. This is how I imagine my response will be when Jesus returns. Like finally seeing the finish line of a long and arduous marathon. He is our relief, the answer to all our questions. He is the only solution, the only satisfaction. We have a blessed assurance that our redemption draws near. Though there is injustice across the earth, our deliverance is coming soon.

Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Prayer Director of Ember

Three Reasons Why We Pray

It is not enough to work the disciplines of prayer with no vision of why you would pray. The journey of prayer is the highest call of delight and joy, yet it is through arduous paths of the valley. In the stillness of the secret place our barrenness is exposed with hours of straining to behold divine beauty; seasons of feeling nothing, times of facing our weakness. The silence is loud; as a cry is stirring and hunger is awakening. This is necessary to awaken our hearts and draw us out of the muck of the world. The Lord is taking us deeper into His heart as we reach and as we grow. In these seasons, we need vision. When we don’t find immediate satisfaction we need God to answer the questions, “why continue on?” “Is it worth it?” We need to pray Paul’s famous prayer in his letter to the Ephesians, “Lord give to me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You.” Any endeavor without vision will fail, as the proverb says, “a lack of vision cause the people to perish.” Indeed I would have lost heart and perished if I had not asked and wrestled through these questions. I continue to wrestle through these questions; strengthening my resolve to be steadfast in His grace. Our vision is not ethereal, but tangible. It is a person that is our hope, Jesus is our vision. There are three facets of His heart that are continually sustaining my heart in prayer. 

 Jesus is worthy because of who He is and what He does. Consider Him who sits on the throne. Around His throne are unending praises. Day and night it is proclaimed “Holy Holy Holy” He is totally other than! He is beauty! He is the source of all life; the creator of all things. Consider His cross. He is the Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth were laid. He is the living sacrifice. He has given all of Himself unto death so that those who were once enemies of God become His children, His bride. He has saved us from Hell and given us eternal life.

He enjoys me in my weakness. Because He is love. Because of His righteous blood that was shed. He can see and relate to us in our weakness. My weak voice, in my brokenness, moves His heart. Every glance of my eye towards Him causes Him to be undone. In this dark night of faith, when I can’t see Him or feel Him; yet I strain to turn away from distraction to look at Him, He receives this as real love. 

God responds to prayer. The Lord moves at the sound of our voices; they are heard in the courtroom of heaven and have impact on the world around us. Prayer also transforms our own hearts. Let time and diligence in prayer testify to this. As we behold beauty, we are transformed.  

There is so much more to be said and yet even more that I have yet to grasp. I encourage you to respond to the Lord in His desire for you. He is saying “let me see your face, for it is lovely to me. Let me hear your voice, for it is sweet to me.” With every breath you take, you continually have His attention, His affection. He is patiently waiting, He is yearning for you to give Him your attention and affection. Even in your weakness, He desires you. And this is the only way you will find wholeness, so don’t wait until you “have it together.”  Every glance towards Him is written in the books of heaven, and will be our glory in the age to come. 

Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Prayer Room Director of Ember

Excerpt From "On Trusting God" – Psalm 91

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91).

This is reality. There is no other being in the whole of the cosmos that will not be shaken.

Take a moment and articulate in your own words to God that he is your refuge. Ask him to come and to remove any false refuge you have constructed apart from him. If you can trust him in this, communicate it out loud. Tell him that you trust him to come and remove what is false so that he alone will be left. If you have not yet arrived at this place, tell him so. He’s not intimidated by our weakness. But do communicate your desire to trust him. Invite him to show you the path to trusting fully in him as your refuge.

As he begins to give you practical ideas on how to trust in him in a given area, write it down. Thank God for showing you the path. Tell a friend how you plan to trust the Lord practically.

note: I’m currently in the process of writing and compiling some devotional resources. I thought it would be fun to include snapshots of my process, so you’ll be seeing little bits here and there. Enjoy!

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Crafting Atmospheres (Part One)

atmosphere

1. the gaseous envelope of a celestial body (such as a planet)

2. the whole mass of air surrounding the earth

3. the air of a locality the stuffy atmosphere of the waiting room

4. a surrounding influence or environment an atmosphere of hostility

5. a unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level or approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch (101,325 pascals )

6. the overall aesthetic effect of a work of art

7. an intriguing or singular tone, effect, or appeal an inn with atmosphere
— Merriam Webster

I love the concept of atmosphere. Even more than that, I love to experience it.

Why?

Well… I think it goes back to my previous entry of how I was made…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
— Genesis 1:1
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
— Genesis 1:27

God loves to craft a good atmosphere, so, I guess I must too.

It is so intimately connected to who we are, being made in His image, that it’s presented right at the beginning of everything and what is amazing is He didn’t just go and do all the work Himself. He laid the foundations and then told us to go and finish it.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
— Genesis 1:28

Of course we fell from that grace… so He had to come and save our butts and finish it Himself… but in doing so, He also redeemed our original purpose and invited us to partner with Him to bring it to fulfillment… to those who believe and receive… to those who love Him…

So really… it’s all an allusion that we create or we build or we finish something... In reality, it’s more that we are learning what God has already finished because of who He is and we are following what we see. It’s a prophetic act. It’s available to all.

It’s kinda like a dad having a son sit on his lap while he mows the lawn on his riding lawn mower. From the kids perspective, he thinks, “Dad! Look what I did!” From the dad’s perspective, he just enjoyed being with his son.

Oh, there is the possibility for us to do things on our own. Pride and selfishness will carry us as far as our heart desires. Problem is, those things we go out and do on our own…

are always empty… lifeless…

There’s no atmosphere there… no wind…

God does not breathe on what’s not His. A mighty man of God who I worked with, Gregg Johnson, put it this way, “What’s God’s grows, what’s man’s just goes…”

So there is a choice. We can go out, craft and build on our own, something from our own imagination that we think will matter in this life, but really has no life or atmosphere, or we can look to our Father in heaven, seeing the multitude of blueprints that radiate from His glory and say like a child, “Oh! Oh Daddy! I want that Lego set! I want to build that! Please can I build that?!”

True creativity is found in His glory. True fulfillment is found in partnering with what is already fulfilled. Seeking to find fulfillment outside of who He is... can never be found, because He simply... Is...

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
— Hebrews 11:6

As for me, I was born fallen and fluttered in the wind for a few years, not fully understanding this wisdom. But now, by the grace of God, I’m still young and my greatest desire is to behold the glorious face of Jesus and say, “Oh Jesus, would you grant me that blueprint?! Your Lego sets are so much better than mine! I see Your testimony here! I see the possibilities! I see Your glory filling the earth! Can I please build that Lego set with you Daddy?!”

So… I choose daily, like Jesus, to partner with what I hear and see the Father doing.

He’s a good Father.

He will give what we ask…

… once we finally behold.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
— John 5:19-20

to be continued...

Stephen Ibach — stephenibach.blog
Media Director of Ember

Wisdom and Folly Defined

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
— Matthew 25:1-13

In Matthew 25 Jesus is continuing His response to the initial question in the beginning of chapter 24. “Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus responds and expounds on the events leading up to His return and the signs of the times for that generation. He sets the tone for the intensity of the tribulation, that it will be greater than any other time frame in all of human history. The physical earth will be shaken as well as every sphere of society. Sin will reach to its full maturity and there will be a great falling away in the church due to mass deception. He explains how we are to respond with watchfulness and to be ready; fully engaged with what He is doing. As I write this, I am struck by the words of Jesus. I have spoken with many leaders who express the reason that they don’t talk about the end times and the negative trends revealed through the scripture is because it is irrelevant and not helpful to building community or advancing the gospel. Well, it seems that Jesus considered this information to be relavent and a necessary message in making disciples. And indeed the gospel would be incomplete without the final chapter of redemptive history. In His wisdom, as a friend, He is giving to us His plans and His heart that we may know how to respond to the unique dynamics of that day. 

One of the parables He uses to communicate what He is looking for in His Church, leading up to His return, is the one of ten virgins. Here the Lord communicates what He considers wise and foolish. All ten were “virgins” and were waiting for the bridegroom; so we can infer that all ten are “believers.” They know the bridegroom message and have said yes to Jesus. They all had lamps. Lamps carry the light for others to see, these are ministries that the virgins were given to steward. And not just official “ministries” but their lives as christians lived out in the world. Oil, from a Jewish and historical perspective, can represent the Holy Spirit and life with the Spirit. In this parable it speaks of intimacy with God through connectedness with His Spirit. All ten virgins were asleep while waiting for the Bridegroom. They were all walking through the mundane and routines that are unavoidable in this life. The difference comes with what they did in the waiting. Five of them took the time that it takes to get oil; while the other five spent their time shining their lamps or just did other things. Jesus said those who were wise took time and energy to cultivate intimacy on the inside, in the secret place. He said that the foolish did not focus on the inside, but were preoccupied with the external life. The wise were living before the eyes of God, while the foolish lived before the eyes of man. 

Midnight is the darkest time of the night. It is in the darkest hour of human history that the voice will be heard declaring that the bridegroom is coming. I long to be that voice! To be like John the Baptist who had lived his life in the wilderness, preparing his generation for Jesus’ first coming. He recognized Jesus and proclaimed, “behold, the Lamb of God!” I want to be that voice for His second coming. I believe that many across the earth will embody this voice for their generation. 

The wise had oil in their lamps and were ready to participate in the final consumation of the marriage supper of the lamb; The covenant of Jesus and His Bride. The foolish did not have enough oil and were not ready to participate in the most significant time frame of human history. The wise could not give their oil. Intimacy can not be imparted; it can only be cultivated in the relationship of the individual and Jesus. So the foolish were shut out. This reminds me of when Jesus spoke of many coming to Him saying all the wonderful things they did in His name, yet He will say “I never knew you.” Some commentators say that the foolish virgins were ones who fell away and cast into Hell; while others say that they enter into the kingdom, but do not participate in the move of God or the celebration. Honestly I am not sure which side I land on in these two stances, but neither one of those is where I want to be. 

Many, including my self, apply this not only to the end times, but also to the small moves of God leading up to that time frame. Looking back through history, we can see the Lord coming in manifest ways like tides of the ocean rolling in upon the shores. It is possible to miss what the the Lord is doing because you are not connected to Him in the day to day. He so yearns for partnership with us and He desires to do amazing things through our lives. I want to know what He is saying in every season and want to do what I see Him doing. When I see Him face to face, I want a familiarity from knowing Him in this life. Though He is beyond comprehension, there is much of Him that I can know today through an ongoing conversation that He has already initiated.

Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Prayer Room Director of Ember

Discipleship — Love your Life

It was about a year ago that I jumped on a plane to Portland, Oregon with my family and some friends to go spend some time with Paul Watson, author of Contagious Disciple Making and founder of the organization by the same name, Contagious Disciple Making, (CDM).

A Little Backstory

For Becky and me, the years leading up to Portland were filled with tension and wrestling through a simple, yet challenging question: what does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus in our context? What does it look like to share the good news of Jesus with people around us? We have been on many sides of this conversation, talking through scripture, strategy, purpose, heart posture. Between the two of us, over the years, we have prayed for healing for people in public, shared Jesus door to door, been on mission trips, shared prophetic impressions with strangers, been apart of groups who do the same. By the fall of 2015 we were in need of perspective. We read Paul’s book, Contagious Disciple Making, and knew we had to meet this guy — a phone call and a few plane tickets later…

I only do what I see the father doing

I won’t go into a detailed summary of the book. Pick it up on Amazon, it’s totally worth the investment. I will say, the thing that is so helpful for me about Paul’s perspective on discipleship is that it applies to anyone in any context. His thoughts don’t hinge upon a large budget, a mega church, a salaried pastor and worship leader, or the need to uproot and move to the middle east. What Paul proposes is that anyone can share the good news of Jesus simply by being present in their everyday experience and listening for what God is saying in the midst of normal life. It reminds me of Jesus’ words in the gospel of John.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
— John 5:19

Portland Take-Aways

What we really wanted was for Paul to give us a step-by-step plan for the next 5 years of how to be effective disciple makers in our context, which he did not give us, no matter how many times we begged him to do so.

Though during our time in Portland, Becky had a significant moment with God where he invited her into several action steps for a missional lifestyle, which we have since adopted for our family.

  1. Be near to me
  2. Love my words
  3. Love your life

Back to the basics

Be near to me
This is an easy one. Be near to me. As Brother Lawrence simply states in The Practice of the Presence of God,

There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God.
— The Practice of the Presence of God

The Lord has called us first and foremost to love him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. His desire is relationship, his desire is our nearness. Our primary role in communicating the gospel of Jesus is in fact drawing near to our precious savior, allowing our hearts and lives to be impacted by him, as we listen and respond to his words.

Love my words

Jesus communicates, in John 15, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” The love language of God is obedience, it’s loving his words so much that we actually change our behavior, perspective, reality, in order to come into alignment with his words, his truth. There is no life of discipleship apart from obedience. It is wisdom to love his words and put them into practice. Only in adoring his words, will we obtain a lifestyle that will proliferate disciples of Jesus. Without his words, we are simply making disciples in our own image — yikes!  But imagine if we give ourselves fully to adoring the words of God and obedience to those words. There are no marching orders apart from this relational process.

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name
— Psalm 86

Love your life

God called Becky and me to love our lives. What an odd thing to work out, right?  Ummm… I think I love my life? What does it mean to love my life? What does it look like for Becky to love her life? I interpret this word in the following way. In order to love my life, I must make space to do things in my life that I love to do. Yes? I do love my famiy, I do love my work, I love my friends, but what do I — or in the case of my family, we — love to do? What places do I find myself going? Do I find myself in a specific area of my city? Do I find myself in another city? Do I find myself participating in a particular hobby? Do I find myself at a particular coffee shop, restaurant, bar? And when I find myself these places, doing these things that I love doing… who do I find there? Who has the Lord already placed in the middle of the life that I love? You know what? As I’ve asked these questions… I’ve found myself around people who it makes sense for me to share my life with. I’ve found myself in dialogue with people about things that genuinely interest me, things that I love. And this is what else I’ve found. When I’m in places that I love, doing things that I love, enteracting with people who also love these places and these things, meaningful and spiritual conversation come naturally over time.

Final thoughts

In processing these thoughts, I by no means believe there is some magical method to share the grace and love of Jesus with another human being. The Lord has created us each uniquely, with unique loves and perspectives Rather, using these three lines as a filter for how I posture myself in discipleship has been a freeing and liberating process. It has helped me in sharing my journey as a follower of Jesus in a way that feels genuine rather than textbook, authentic rather than forced. I think it’s easy to search for a method, while missing the relational intention that Jesus has afforded us in this life with each person we intercept — be it brief or long lasting.

So here we go, intro to discipleship in three simple —not easy— steps…

Be near to me, love my words, and love your life.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

The Great, Beautiful, and Intimate Craftsman

Craftsman (noun):

1. a worker who practices a trade or handicraft

2. one who creates or performs with skill or dexterity especially in the manual arts

Craft (noun):

1. skill in planning, making, or executing

2. an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill

- Merriam Webster Dictionary

I am in awe of craft, especially craft of the artistic expression. I am, in fact, obsessed with it... in a good way. The tangible and tactile process of cultivating an idea that springs up, forming it, building it, binding it, shaping it, breaking it, erasing, shifting, reshaping, and finally, the emotional ecstasy of beholding. I am in awe...

... because what is crafted becomes a personal thing; it's more than just ethereal art.

It's a tangibly touched and intimate thing.

Don't dare disparage the craftsman's craftsmanship, for in the day you do, you disparage the craftsman himself. The craftsman's craftsmanship is a piece of his heart.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Beautiful.

I've read that the breath of life in the original language of scripture here could be likened to mouth-to-mouth. I don't apologize if that makes someone reading this feel weird. I think it's beautiful. I liken it to the sense of resuscitation.

Beauty is all around and it makes me faint. I behold the beauty of life around me and I absolutely cannot contain what I'm taking in. It's breathtaking. Quite literally, to me, it's like breathing mouth-to-mouth with all of creation and even more the One who made it. I can feel it enter and exit. Every glimpse I get is as though I'm being filled with the breath of life. And let's be honest, in God's own words, mankind is the only creation that bears His image.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26-28

Mankind, male and female, have the fingerprints and DNA of God all over them...

Even in them... once mankind comes to know Him.

Talk about beautiful. Talk about intimidating.

I remember watching a documentary a few years ago called Beauty is Embarrassing. The documentary is about an artist named Wayne White who is famous for painting beautiful landscapes with eccentric phrases over the canvas. The documentary got it's title from one of Wayne's paintings in which he painted over a beautiful mountain landscape the phrase "Beauty is Embarrassing." That phrase has lingered in my spirit ever since.

Beauty has truly been embarrassing to me most of my life. I've always found myself small next to the beauty of a mountain; smaller still next to the beauty of my wife. Perhaps the reason I am embarrassed by beauty is because I am growing ears to hear, learning a language to describe, and forming eyes to behold the beauty of Jesus.

It's an impossible thing, to see God as He is. It's an embarrassing thing, to behold His beauty; my beholding is more like glimpsing. The longer I behold in a mirror dimly, the more naked I feel, yet His beauty draws me in still (1 Corinthians 13:12). Like an inescapable force, He's been drawing me in my whole life. The closer I get, the more purifying and refining of my body and soul, until that awesome, terrifying, and beautiful day, when I behold Him face-to-face.

Until then I'll embrace the embarrassment, the embarrassment of my weak and meek beholding of the beauty of Jesus. As I behold, I become. He continues to intimately craft me so that I may even more uniquely reflect Him as He made me to be and it's only from that place, that place of beholding, that I can truly live. There is no other way, there is no other truth, there is no other life (John 14:6).

It's all about worship. It's all about relationship with my Great, Beautiful, and Intimate Craftsman.

Stephen Ibach — stephenibach.blog
Media Director of Ember

Simple Adoration and the Great Commission

The story of Mary anointing Jesus at Bethany is well known. She anointed Jesus as she poured out a costly perfume and wiped His feet with her hair. The fragrance of the perfume filled the room with its pleasing aroma. She was judged and criticized for being wasteful, but Jesus spoke in her defense. And this is why this story is so well known. Jesus honors Mary and her sacrificial devotion; He says that this will be told with the gospel as it spreads across the earth throughout history. What Mary did is worth our consideration; for this was pleasing to Jesus and is linked with the Gospel being preached throughout the nations.

Mary is not remembered and honored for doing great exploits; we have no record of her leading someone to the Lord or working any kind of miracle. I am sure she did, but this is not what the Lord wanted to communicate through her story. It was her love, her sacrificial devotion that Jesus praised and has been recorded. What sort of response does Jesus desire of us? This was my question for several years after the Lord called me into the Kingdom. The Father gave up His only son, Jesus gave all of Himself, and the Holy came to dwell within the human frame. The triune God, Who is transcendent and beautiful in holiness, gave all of Himself for me. Like Mary, I yearned to give Him what He desired, to give Him everything. She knew that He was about to die, that He was about to be broken. She came to Him with all that she had, her future inheritance, and broke it open as a fragrant offering of adoration. She came to Him in Her brokenness because He made Himself accessible to the broken through His humility of becoming a man and dying on the cross. This is what Jesus desires of us; this is what pleases Him. Anybody can come with their brokenness and give all; rich or poor, young or old, educated or uneducated. We can all move His heart. It is adoring Jesus in the quiet and adoring Him in our obedience that releases a pleasing fragrance; It is the fragrance of Christ released through weak and broken people. The nature of Jesus is diffused through the aroma of meekness. 

I believe the Lord is calling a busy church back to the stillness of sitting at His feet. He is calling us into our destiny; for all of eternity adoring Jesus will be our indescribable joy. He is breaking our pride with His humility. It is through gazing upon beauty that we experience deep transformation. It is simple, but takes time and focus. A lifestyle of worship will cost you everything, but you will lack nothing; for God Himself is your inheritance. As we see an acceleration of the Gospel reaching the nations with impact, we are also seeing an unprecedented rise of houses of prayer and worship across the nations. Simple adoration of Jesus shifts the atmosphere and prepares the way for the word of God to pierce hearts. The fragrance of a worship expels the stench of the enemy. There is a spiritual battle over the sons of men. The enemy blinds the hearts and minds of men like a fog of confusion; we need the Holy Spirit to move like the wind, so the people could receive the Word of God. Persuasive words and good strategy alone can not breakthrough the fog. Through adoring Jesus we prepare the way for God to move and shift the atmosphere. If we yield to the spirit, we will witness an unprecedented movement of effective laborers thrusted into the harvest. 

Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Prayer Room Director of Ember

Ember — it’s prayer and it’s a creative company

it begins in the prayer room

I have a high value for the quiet, personal place of worship, prayer, and communion with God. In my experience, knowing God deeply and intimately begins with private understanding. This idea is even mirrored in a gathering of like-minded people also desiring to commune with God together — in Ember’s case, the prayer room. But this still feels like the quiet, intimate place. It feels safe, because there is no immediate cultural environment challenging the reality or understanding of God or our experience of Him. I don’t mean to say that we aren’t challenged in our understanding of God through his truth, but simply that there are no blatantly opposing social forces directly moving against the culture we are creating within the prayer room.

But when we begin to navigate outside of the prayer room, or any like-minded spiritual community or gathering, in order to bring hope and impact to others of a different cultural or spiritual perspective, the metaphysical joins the practical. It’s from this place that we have the opportunity to share a taste of our normal experience and connection with the Spirit of God. As we share our reality with others, we have the opportunity to give people a new perspective of how God sees and wants to relate to them.

as a creative company

In this spirit, Ember takes the substance of hope—the testimony of Jesus—cultivated in quiet and intimate experience with God in the prayer room and works to multiply it beyond the walls of any one spiritual community — through music, video, blogging, and podcasting. He is Emmanuel, God with us. And his desire is for all to know him in a close and intimate way. Our desire is that through our perpetual content, individuals will taste little glimpses of experiencing God, prompting them to seek him out in deeper and more personal ways in their everyday experience.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Join the Team - Ember Prayer Room

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We are currently looking for individuals to join teams in the prayer room as prayer leaders, musicians, and worship leaders.

One of the functions of the Ember Prayer Room is facilitating weekly prayer meetings that are open to the church in our city. We worship Jesus, while contending for justice and for the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifest to bring transformation in our city and region. This environment of focused prayer with worship and the Word fosters growth in passion for Jesus, leadership with the Holy Spirit, and skilled musicianship.

This is an exciting time as we are launching out with Ember this Fall. We have a foundation and history of prayer in this city, but have a new vehicle to move forward in engaging the city with prayer. I am expectant for the Lord to move in greater ways and believe that it will be in response to the church going on mission with Jesus in the context of night and day prayer. We are honored to play our piece in this beautiful story.

If you are interested in joining a team or would like more information, please contact zack@emberhq.com

ember prayer room | norman, oklahoma

The Call to be an Intercessory Missionary

Intercessory Missionaries: “One who does the work of the kingdom (as part time, full time, or seasonal) from the place of prayer and worship while embracing a missionary lifestyle and focus.” -Mike Bickle

In 1985 there were around 25 places that were praying 24/7. Today there are over 10,000 locations that are committed to 24/7 prayer. Throughout history there have been movements of night and day prayer, but never before has it been so widespread. There are countless testimonies across the nations of the Lord stirring hearts in the church for unceasing prayer and worship to be established in their city. The church is getting vision; that Jesus is worthy of unceasing worship and that the Lord transforms cities through prayer. It is not sacrificing mission for prayer, but it is as we live in connectedness with God that we go and make disciples. We are seeking to bring the lost into relationship with Jesus. 

So where is this all going? What is the Lord doing? The bible paints an incredible picture of where we are headed. Preceding the Lord’s return there will be two worship movements in conflict; The Lord’s and the Antichrist’s (Rev. 13:4, 8, 12, 15). It is a battle for the affections of the human heart. It is in the context of great darkness that the church will shine brighter than ever; She will walk in unprecedented love and power. The level of darkness coming upon the earth necessitates a church walking in a lifestyle of prayer, fasting, and devotion to the Word of God. This is the way that the Lord has set to enable His people to walk in victory. It is arrogant to believe we will walk in victory apart from full dependence on God. There is a bigger story that is unfolding under the Lord's leadership; and the Global Prayer & Worship movement is at the heart of the victorious church in the most significant timeframe in human history. (Ps. 96:1, 9, 13; 98:1-9; 102:15-22; 122:6; 149:6-9; Isa.19:20-22; 24:14-16, 23; 25:9; 26:1, 8-9; 27:2-5, 13; 30:18-19, 29, 32; 35:2, 10; 42:10-15; 43:26; 1:11; 52:8; 62:6-7; Jer. 31:7; 51:8; Joel 2:12-17, 32; Zeph. 2:1-3; Zech. 8:20-23; 10:1; 12:10; 13:9; Mt. 21:13; 25:1-13; Lk. 18:7-8; Rev. 5:8; 6:9-11; 8:3-5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7; 18:6; 22:17).

Jesus declared that His house will be a “House of Prayer for all nations.” There is a need for there to be people in place, full and part time, to sustain and facilitate on-going prayer and worship in the Body of Christ. Today, as the Lord is raising up night and day prayer across the earth, He is calling individuals to vocational prayer and setting them on the wall (Isa. 62) in cities throughout the nations. I believe that prayer is moving from the back room of the church to the premier activity of the gathered people of God. I am personally asking God for 50 full-time/part-time intercessory missionaries to be raised up here in Norman, throughout multiple expressions of local churches. 

This is an exciting time to be alive! The Lord is moving in unprecedented ways. He is making His bride ready and expectant for the final consummation; for the day of the Wedding! I don't know the day or the hour, but there will definitely be one generation that will be on the earth through the tribulation and see the return of Jesus! The church throughout history is a part of this story, and we have a responsibility to leave a legacy that prepares that generation. (Eph. 4:11-13; 5:27; Rev. 19:7)

Written by Zack Roberts

ember prayer room | norman, oklahoma

The Cry at the End of the Age

And the Spirit and the bride say, “come!” And let him who hears say, “come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

 John is prophesying to the generation that the Lord returns. This passage has relevance to every generation. The Lord is building up a momentum as each generation presses into His word. We will see a culmination in the generation that transitions this age into the age to come. In this verse, we get a glimpse of what the church will look like on that day. We will know our identity as a bride and Jesus as our bridegroom. We will be living in the reality of union with God. His delight is in the sons of men; we were made to be with him. We will know His unending jealous love for His beloved. He declared His commitment to us in coming to the earth as a man; forever He will be fully God fully man. Knowing his commitment to us will propel us into radical obedience. It will strengthen us to know the love of God. If we really knew who it is that desires us, we would gladly walk through the fire to be with Him.

John also highlights that the bride will be crying out in unity with the Holy Spirit.* We will be walking in step with the spirit. This Holy Spirit is the very spirit of the living God, of Jesus Christ. He is the 3rd person of the trinity. Jesus spoke much about him. He said that it was better that he left because when He gets to the father in heaven, he would send us the Holy Spirit. It is by His spirit that we are convicted of sin. He unveils Jesus to our hearts. And once we give our lives to Jesus, we are filled with his Spirit.

In John 4, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a wellspring of life on the inside of our hearts. Every moment we have access to this well. John, in rev. 22:17, encourages us to drink. Daily, to take time to receive the Holy Spirit, to acknowledge His presence. We must learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. We can’t do anything by might, but only by His Spirit. He reveals the glory of Jesus to our hearts. When we see Jesus, we see the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. How much more must we look to and follow what the lord is doing?

Written by Zack Roberts

ember prayer room | norman, oklahoma

Invitation to Divine Beauty

One of my favorite chapters in the bible to meditate upon is Revelation 4. John is caught up and brought before the Father’s royal court in heaven. This is one of the most detailed descriptions of the beauty of God. I believe that this chapter is literal and provides a wealth of revelation of who God is. In prayer, this heavenly scene brings God to the center of our understanding in our hearts and minds. Just consider how in the beginning, God had a blank canvas, so to speak; He could have painted anything He desired for the place that would be the center of all His created order. Why did He choose to reveal what He has given us in His Word. God does all things with purpose and intentionality. What was He wanting to communicate to our hearts? What was He intending to draw us into? So unsearchable are His ways. So beyond comprehension is His Divine Nature. Even John could not fully describe what His 5 senses were taking in. Every description is paired with the being “likened” to something else. Not even the four living creatures can fully take in the one seated on the throne. Day and night they behold him and perpetually cry “Holy Holy Holy” as they are continually discover new facets of transcendent beauty.

Paul says that we have been seated with Christ in heavenly places. This is a very present reality for all those who put their faith in Jesus and have been born of the Spirit.

"and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," Ephesians 2:6

In Revelation Chapter 5 we see that before the throne are the prayers of the saints, arising as incense and filling the court of heaven. This makes our prayers tangible in our understanding. There is a real place that our voices are heard and a real God who perceives our weak prayers as a pleasing fragrance.

God is drawing this generation into fellowship with His heart. As the world is filled with many distractions, there is one who captivating. God is calling a generation to be fascinated with His beauty. John saw a door standing open in heaven and was taken up in the spirit through that door. This door standing open is Jesus, He is our access to the father. And it is by the Holy Spirit that we move. Let us lift our gaze off of all else and fix our eyes up Jesus. Let us make room for the Holy Spirit in our lives that we would move with God. There is much that the Lord wants to show us. Who will answer the call to stand in the council of the Lord?

"For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it?" Jeremiah 23:18

Written by Zack Roberts

ember prayer room | norman, oklahoma

 

The Cross is of the Greatest of Meditations

Often, in times of prayer, I fix my mind upon the cross. I bring myself before this horrific yet wondrous scene. I take in the setting; the commotion of the crowds, the feel of the heat in the day, and etc. I look up at Jesus, there upon the cross. He is marred beyond recognition, a gruesome sight. Some in the crowds mock Him, some watch the scene as a twisted form of entertainment, while others are weeping. I consider this man, upon the cross.

I know that He is God, that He existed before the foundations of the earth were laid. He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. From eternity past He is God, filled with delight, daily enjoying perfect fellowship within the Godhead. And even the fact that God came in flesh is a scandal of the ages. Think about it, The creator became created to be near the creation that rebelled against Him. Jesus possesses all power and might. These men that crucified Him are like grasshoppers to Him. Not even the demons inciting the men can overpower Jesus unless He allows it.

Every second to Him, must have been excruciating. And in every moment He resisted the impulse to stop what was happening to Him. He was fully submitting to the Father’s will. I looked up at Him, appalled by the sight before me, and asked one question. “Why? Why did you do this?” And in that moment my eyes locked into His. He was looking into the depths of me, His eyes like fire searching me out. His gaze was filled with yearning for me. In this moment I felt God speak to my spirit, “For you! I desire you! I desire this right here; your attention! I desire relationship with you.” It is so astounding, what love looks like, what love does. Love gives all and is a life poured out.

Indeed this moment in history will be remembered forever and will never cease to amaze; causing eruptions of praise and thanksgiving. This is the fullest expression of love. When my heart is brought before the cross; the accusations lose their place. The thoughts of doubt are silenced when my mind is fixed on the depths that God has gone to be with me. When we really know that God loves us and is for us, it changes everything. If the Father gave His son and the son gave His life for me, what higher price could ever be paid? The reality of the cross enables my voice to be heard in the court of heaven and has granted access to the fullness of God for all of eternity.

Beloved, today is the day of salvation. Eternal life breaks forth within the heart that looks to that man on the cross.

Written by Zack Roberts

ember prayer room | norman, oklahoma