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  • Mark Bocanegra

See you on the front line.

You may be thinking what you can pray for us as we just arrived on the 'front line' of missions. I, of course, have a giant list of prayer needs, hopes, concerns; however, there has been one book that has continued to remind me of keeping the first things first. It's a small Puritan prayer book called, the Valley of Vision. I think it a must have book for any pastor, missionary, church leader--or any Christian for that matter! You may be confused why a 17th century English Puritan prayer book helps me pray for the 21st century Japanese mission field. The reason is this. Too often my prayers are consumed with the thorns of worldly concerns and desires that choke my faith. These Puritan prayers remind me that the LORD asks me not to be an effective, hyper-productive, fruit-producing missionary, but merely an obedient servant of the Lord. Full stop. It reminds me that I am not a missionary first, but a wretched sinner in need of God's unconditional election, Christ's perfect righteousness, and the Spirit's renewing power. My vocation and circumstances do not define who I am--the unchanging work of the King and my walk as a Christian does. It reminds me that I should not rejoice that the Lord has given us abilities to "tread over all the power of the enemy," but I should rejoice simply that my name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Full stop.  These Puritan prayers keep my eyes on the King and my heavenly home. I will leave two beautiful prayers that have moved me recently to do that from the Valley of Vision. If you want to pray for me, please pray these prayers for me. Lastly, one thing I want to remind you as well is this. When you pray for us, you join me on my front of the mission field. (Yes, you are on a front line as well.) When you pray for the Japanese church, you are providing needed supplies. You are providing necessary cover fire. You are increasing the morale of the troops over here. You are co-suffering with us and fighting the battle with us. Just because you are miles away does not mean anything. Your prayers and our bond through the Holy Spirit makes you present right here--shoulder to shoulder with me in the trenches. Thank you for your prayers. Dear partner, co-laborer, and co-sufferer in the Great Commission, I will see you on the Japanese front line. The Dark Guest O LORD, Bend my hands and cut them off,       for I have often struck thee with   a wayward will,   when these fingers should embrace thee by faith. I am not yet weaned from all created glory,   honour, wisdom, and esteem of others,   for I have a secret motive to eye my name     in all I do. Let me not only speak the word sin, but see     the thing itself. Give me to view a discovered sinfulness,   to know that though my sins are crucified     they are never wholly mortified. Hatred, malice, ill-will,   vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after   man’s approval and applause,   all are crucified, forgiven,   but they rise again in my sinful heart. O my crucified but never wholly mortified   sinfulness! O my life-long damage and daily shame! O my indwelling and besetting sins! O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart! Destroy, O God, the dark guest within   whose hidden presence makes my life a hell. Yet thou hast not left me here without grace; The cross still stands and meets my needs   in the deepest straits of the soul. I thank thee that my remembrance of it   is like David’s sight of Goliath’s sword     which preached forth thy deliverance. The memory of my great sins, my many   temptations, my falls,   bring afresh into my mind the remembrance     of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,     of the great grace that saved such a wretch       as I am. There is no treasure so wonderful   as that continuous experience of thy grace     toward me which alone can subdue       the risings of sin within: Give me more of it.

Here's another one here called "Paradoxes."

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About the Family

Mark is a Filipino-American who grew up in Manila and Tokyo. Graduating from Stanford and Westminster Seminary California, he is an ordained PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) pastor serving in Kaihin Makuhari Grace Church. Megumi is a Japanese Christian who...

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