The Lord said, “Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the vision awaits an appointed time;….Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3
The Declaration of Jesus
The gospel according to Luke contains an account of a visit that Jesus made to the home of two sisters, Martha and Mary, in the village of Bethany. In the account, Martha complained to Jesus that while she was busy with much household work Mary was just spending time with Jesus and doing nothing to help with the work. Jesus’ response to Martha is instructive to us today: “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
Mary decided to spend undistracted time with the Messiah, the Lord and Author of all creation. – John says in his gospel that God sent his only Son that the world might have life through him (John 3:17) and Jesus said he came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). God is the source of love, the source of true wisdom and knowledge and the source of life itself. In order to receive these things that move us from mere existence to a life that is full we must draw these things from the source; from God. That is done in prayer. – All creation is held together in Jesus (Colossians 1:17). If we desire to see our falling-apart world put back together again we must turn to the one who created it and holds it together. That is done in prayer. It is through prayer that we come to the Better Place at the feet of Jesus.
Teach Us to Pray
There is no one who does not know how to pray. Everyone has done it. But we can all do it better. – In Luke’s gospel, right after he wrote the account of Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary, he went on to tell about a time when Jesus’ disciples came to him and asked him to teach them to pray. This request did not come because his disciples did not know how to pray, they had grown up in good Jewish homes. They had all gone through bar mitzvah. They attended their local synagogue. But they recognized the prayers of Jesus were effective to the point of being life transforming and they wanted what they witnessed. – Chapter eleven of Luke’s gospel contains some of what Jesus taught his disciples in answer to their request.
Jesus reminded his disciples that God’s house is a house of prayer (Luke 19:46 from Isaiah 56:7). God’s house, of course, is not a building any more than “the house of Abraham” or “the house of Jacob” was a building. In this context, “house” is people. The house of God is the people of God. The people of God are called by God to be a people of prayer. – The early Church took this call to heart and they began to transform the world they lived in as a result (the book of Acts). – If today’s church is going to be the transforming agent she is commissioned by God to be then she must be the House of Prayer God has called her to be. The Church today needs to be taught to pray.
Feed My Sheep
Pastors are an integral and indispensable part of God’s plan to make his wisdom known to the world through his Church. When Christ ascended on high he gave gifts to the Church that some should be … pastors … for the building up, the preparing and the equipping of God’s people (Ephesians 4:7-13). Two primary ways pastors equip God’s people are through the ministry of the word and by prayer (Acts 6:4). Amazingly, the average pastor in the U. S. of America today spends less than fifteen minutes per day in prayer.
E. M. Bounds once wrote, “He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men.” (Power Through Prayer, p. 27, Zondervan, 1962 printing) The apostle Peter wrote that it is the responsibility of pastors to shepherd their people by setting an example (I Peter 5: 1-3). In order to set such an example, pastors must be people of prayer. – In order to bring the living word of God to people, pastors must spend time with God. However, the demands on the time of the 21st century pastor have resulted in most pastors scheduling time with God right out of their lives. Pastors in the U. S. of America today are in desperate need of help to reorder their lives.
Even During Plowing Season and in Harvest
When I graduated from seminary in 1975, many lay people in my churches expressed amazement at how low clergy health insurance rates were. The explanation for this was that clergy, as a population group, had healthier life styles than the average population. More recently, as I worked with many lay committees on their pastor’s compensation packages, they have expressed amazement at how high clergy health insurance rates are. Something has shifted. The expectation placed on clergy today keeps them in a high and almost constant state of stress. – Marshall Shelley, the editor of LEADERSHIP wrote the following in the Spring 2000 edition, page 3:
The Unfolding of the Vision
During the years I have served as a pastor and a district superintendent, I have grown increasingly more aware of the need for centers that are dedicated to prayer ministry and the spiritual renewal of pastors and God’s people. Therefore, I was not surprised, as I drove past a for sale sign for 100 acres of land near Jamestown, NY, to hear God say to my spirit, “I want you to build a prayer campus there.” That was in the summer of 1998.
The Work Now Begun and Further Assurances
As I contemplated the official organization of The Better Place, there were two options before me. I could bring it under the umbrella of the District Corporation where I served as superintendent or I could form a new independent not-for-profit corporation. There were obvious advantages to both options. The primary advantage to organizing under the District would have been that all the government requirements that are part of creating a new organization could be avoided and, thus, everything could get started sooner. – On the morning of 04 March 2003 I was catching incoming darts from some little devil telling me that the whole Better Place idea was not going to get off the ground and that there was really no need for it with all the other retreat centers in existence and things like that. As I turned my face to God in regard to this, He directed me to Habakkuk 2:2-3 which says, “Write down the vision and make it plain … For the vision awaits an appointed time … Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
www.TheBetterPlace.org. Thanks to email and the internet, the ministry of The Better Place has become literally worldwide. Resourcing has been solicited from people in Africa as well as all over North America, and The Better Place has delivered. For more face-to-face ministry, we have been utilizing the facilities of churches, conference centers and public buildings. I call it a “hermit crab” ministry because we use other houses as we lack a house of our own. As of February 2011, the vision of a campus with buildings and all the amenities of spiritual renewal ministry still awaits, but all of that is soon to change.All of the above was written in February of 2004. Since that time the ministry of The Better Place has been growing – and growing – and growing. Details can be found on the many pages of our web site at
In the fall of 2010, the Spirit gave to me and our Board of Directors a word from Proverbs 24:27 which says, Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. All that has been done during the first seven years of The Better Place ministry has been the “outdoor work.” It was a preparing of the fields. Now it is time to build the house, and that means it is time to move quickly to purchase and develop property so that the full vision of The Better Place ministry can be put in place.
Consider Abraham who was given the vision of all the nations of the earth being blessed by his seed; or Joseph who was given the vision of rising to a position of great authority; or Paul who was given the vision of being an apostle to the gentiles. In each case the vision from God was accurate and in each case the vision eventually came to pass. But in each case there was a long wait between the initial revelation and the final fulfillment. At one point, Abraham – in his impatience – forgot he was a steward of God’s vision and he acted like the vision was his own. He acted according to the flesh instead of obeying according to the spirit and Ishmael was conceived and born. To this day the descendants of Abraham through Ishmael are a thorn in the side of the descendants of Abraham through the son of promise, Isaac.
The seed of the vision for The Better Place was planted in my heart on that summer day in 1998 when I drove past the property on Oak Hill Road outside of Jamestown. God clearly said, “I want you to build a prayer campus there.” Since that time, well meaning Sarais in my life have offered up Hagars which would only lead to Ishmaels. I have been offered on three different occasions three different plots of land – each one being over 100 acres in size - in Chautauqua County; and for free! Tempting? Yes. From God? No.
Others have asked, “Why not use an existing Christian camp for this purpose?” The answer is twofold. On the one hand, the already existing ministries would detract from the unique focus of The Better Place, plus no existing ministry in this area has the facilities that will best serve The Better Place. And, on the other hand, to go in such a direction as a permanent “solution” to not having property of our own would be to turn our backs on the clear word from God. It would be living by the flesh and not by the spirit. It would be taking God’s vision and twisting it as we clutch it to ourselves instead of holding the vision with an open hand as we should and stewarding it by faith in God who will bring it to pass just as he spoke it.
A vision from God is like a baby. Once conceived, there is a gestation period before the baby is actually born. And the bigger the baby, the longer the gestation period. Before birth, the baby is alive, growing and kicking; and so it has been with The Better Place, but now it is about to be born. For this pending birth, we need lots of midwives. You can help to midwife with your prayers and your financial gifts that will be used to purchase property, develop that property and endow staff for the ministry at the campus. Now is the time to act. – Thank you for saying yes to God’s vision as God has made it known!
For Christ and His Kingdom,
Roy L. Miller February 2011