Cherished

We live and we die ruled by one question — “Do I matter to anyone?**” The bum on the streets is asking it. The successful business man is asking it. The stay at home mom is asking it. I am. You are.

What you long for more than anything is to be cherished. When you are cherished you know in the intricate depths of who you are that you are important to someone. It is to know that in the deepest most intimate place of your heart that someone delights in you; that every intricacy matters and brings joy to the one who knows you most. Who is the one who knows us most and yet still loves us best? It is none other than Jesus.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (Timothy Keller)

Without first being cherished by God, growing in confidence that He truly loves you to the core of you, it is impossible to truly cherish others. Ones who have been loved well are able to love well, no matter the cost. This is the role of the church. This is why beholding the love of God is the single most important aspect of our christian lives.

Thus, my favorite verse in all of the Bible is John 15:9. Jesus says “I have loved you as the Father loves me”. We skip right over it so easily, but it’s such a dramatic statement. It means that God loves you in the same intensity that God loves the infinite God (His son). It’s crazy. When I talk to Jesus I like to ask Him, “How much does the Father love you? Because in the same way He loves you, you love me.” It’s a beautiful thing to behold.

You really do matter to someone. You’re not overlooked or forgotten. He sees you right where you are. He enjoys every bit of you.

Let God cherish your heart today.

**The content from this post is partially out of response to a book I just finished reading, “The Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen. Therefore, not all of these ideas are mine and I do not want to make it seem as if they are. Henri Nouwen is a very inspiring author and I encourage you to read his books.

Celebrating 15 Years of Night and Day Prayer

On September 19th, 1999 a prayer meeting began that never stopped. Today we celebrate 15 years of day and night, unceasing and unending, worship and prayer. I write this from the Night Watch at 3 in the morning as Jesus is being worshiped and lifted high over our city.

I am in awe of the work of God, mostly because after 3 years I am well aware of how weak and broken these people here are. They’re not super heroes, the ones who began 15 years ago, but they certainly have the grace of God on their lives. This is something He has done. Without the hand of God in this, it would have never begun and it would have never remained as it has.

As I look back over the last three years and the journey that I’ve been on, I am so thankful. I fondly remember that 18 hour day which profoundly impacted my heart. I spent 18 hours straight in the prayer room and wasn’t “all prayed out”. I think I was made for this. I was made for prayer. I was made to talk to God.

I think back to the days when I was just starting out. I would sit in the prayer room in the early morning and cry because God’s presence was so sweet. I loved those hours. Last January I looked out across the room, so encouraged by the people I get to do this with. I wrote about it in a post, appreciating 24/7 worship,

“The room is filled with people of every age and from every nationality and background singing about the beauty and worth of knowing Jesus. Everyday these people come. Day after day after day they just keep coming back to seek Jesus. You could come to the prayer room at any hour and you’ll find something like this. They’re not here just because they have to be, they’re here because they want to be. They really love Him.”

This is an amazing community to be in. It’s normal to walk past deep conversations about the Bible. It’s normal to see people praying for people in the hallways. It’s normal to have classes on intercession, the prophetic, and building houses of prayer. I am edified and blessed everyday by my peers, classmates, and teachers.

If I have learned anything so far, I hope it is that Jesus is worthy of 24/7 prayer and worship. He has been given the name above every other name. Our praise is powerful. Where Jesus is glorified, He builds His throne. Not only is He worthy of my individual praise, but He is worthy of the worship of the nations. It’s happening, just as His word says, “From the rising of the sun even to it’s going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles. In every place incense will be offered to my name, a pure offering, for My name shall be great among the nations,” (Malachi 1:11).

Not By My Own Design

The fact that we exist at all should be the first hint that we are loved.

I sat in a practice room the other day, playing a simple chord progression and singing through John 1:1-4 (and other related passages) and came to the part that says, “All things were made through HIM and without Him nothing was made that was made”.

It sounds simple enough. I’m sure most of us have heard the verse before. We get the concept. But what I was struck by as I sang was that I didn’t create me. Sometimes we get so lost in our own heads, we’re busy building our own lives, and we forget that us being here wasn’t even our own idea. So often I try to plan out my life and make it be something amazing, but even then I’m operating on the premise that I had anything to do with me being born in the first place.

I didn’t choose to be here. I didn’t decide to live in this generation, to be put in the family I’m in, to have my grandpa’s eyes or to posses the qualities and characteristics that make up who I am. As I sang in the practice room I settled on a little chorus, “I’m not here by my own plan, not by my own design, I was the dream of your heart”.

Colossians 1:16 says that Jesus created all things, both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. If I really believe that then I have to agree that He made me. The God who stretched out the heavens also stretched out the fabric of my soul. He fashions the hearts of men individually (Ps. 33:15).

The very breath in my lungs should testify to my soul that I am loved. I’m not here by my own design, yet here I am. To be created affirms there was a creator. I was created by someone and it was by His will (the same Greek word for desire) and for His pleasure that I exist (Rev. 4:11).

I got an answer! (Why I’m staying in the chair)

Interestingly enough, when we ask God for understanding and revelation, He gives it to us. In my last post I let you in on some of the questions I’d been asking God. Things like, “What does my worship mean to you? What goes on in your heart when I worship? What significance does it have?” Well, literally the day after writing and posting “How do I stay in the chair?”, I got my answer.

I went to class, expecting a normal day of lecture (this class in particular is about God’s purpose and plan for Israel). My teacher, Wes Hall, began by giving an exhortation on what worship is and why it matters. What you are about to read are not all my original thoughts, it comes from notes I took in class and then extra study I did afterwards.

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Everything in our lives comes down to agreement. We are always in agreement with something -whether it be lies or truth, Satan or God. When we worship, we are agreeing with truth. Whatever we agree with, we give authority to, and where that authority is given, a throne is built.

For example, when you come into agreement with Satan, you are giving him access and authority and He gets to build a throne over your life (also called a stronghold). When you agree with a lie, you say to the devil, “you are right” and are basically giving him your worship. In the same way when you agree with God’s Word, you give Him access to build His throne over your life. We know this because in Psalm 22:3 it says that God is enthroned in the praises of His people.

God’s throne is where His people’s praises are. When you worship God and agree with truth you are releasing the authority of God into your atmosphere and your circumstances. You are saying to God “You are right” and God is able to build His throne there.

We live in a culture that largely agrees with Satan. This mean’s humans are daily giving him the right to build his throne over their lives. Why 24/7 worship and prayer? Because when I worship God — even when I don’t feel it — I am letting God build His throne and dismantle Satan’s throne.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholdscasting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. The weapons of our warfare are found in worship. We worship the one true living God and tear down the strongholds that exalt themselves against the truth of who He is.

Satan is described in Revelation 12:10 as the accuser who stands before God and accuses the brethren day and night. If Satan thinks it’s worthwhile to speak lies night and day, then we ought to think it worthwhile to be speaking truth night and day. We want God to build His throne over us, our families, our cities and nation and that throne is built on the praises of His people.

So where ever He is being worshiped, His throne is being established, so why not 24/7 prayer and worship? We want His throne over our lives every second of every day. What could happen in cities and nations that are coming into agreement with God’s truth every hour, even through the night watches? The strongholds begin to be torn down.

Now when I head into the prayer room and I’m tired and I feel like my worship is unimportant, I can remind myself of this. My worship (and your worship), even in weakness and smallness is saying, “God, come build your throne here”.

 

 

How do I stay in the chair?

Usually the things I write and post on here are conclusions (based on the Word of God, experiences, and personal conviction). In the very least they are working conclusions. Today I am writing out a “wrestle”. It’s not something I have totally worked out — which is okay because I don’t think we will ever have everything worked out.

My wrestle, my questions, are simply my way of getting to a better understanding of something. The best way I know how to do this is to write it. If I write out the questions–though they be obvious or dumb–in the asking I am able to work my way towards a conclusion. You know how there’s internal processors and external processors? Well I’m neither and both at the same time. I’m a creative processor. I have to create to understand.

As I’ve said in blog post’s before, I feel no pressure to write for an audience. My topics come out of the overflow of situations and meditations. Thus, today’s wrestle began in the prayer room around 2am this morning.

I have questions. Many of these  questions I “know” the answer to, but knowing an answer is not enough at 2 in the morning. I need experiential knowledge rooted in the Word of God. I need something strong enough to establish my life on.

It began simply  with the question, “Father, why does my worship matter to you?”

Because at 2am, when you’re tired and your heart is dull you start to wonder why in the world you signed up to be in a prayer room. It’s great that I founded my decision to join the Night Watch on the glory of God and His worthiness, but that begs the question, “Do I even know what it means for God to be glorified? How is my worship glorifying Him? What does it mean that He’s worthy and why do I not feel anything about that statement on a regular basis?

The glory of God seems like such an ethereal, insubstantial thing. I think I have a small grasp on what it looks like for man to glorify God (obedience, affection, loyalty), but what does it look like to God? What happens when I am sitting in a chair singing a song to God that I don’t particularly like or feel emotionally connected to? What happens in the heart of God when I lift my voice and sing “Jesus you’re beautiful” even though I don’t feel it? I know it takes faith, (and faith is a whole subject I still need to understand) when I lift my voice. . . but it feels so. . .unimportant. Being in that chair night after night looks unimpressive. It doesn’t look like much and it certainly doesn’t feel like much.

Without a personal understanding of the glory I give to God when I worship and what goes on in His heart when I do so, I will not stay in the chair. I sort of understand the idea that God is glorified by His people corporately, but without individual praise arising from each heart, there is no corporate praise.

So, what does my worship mean to God? What significance does me showing up and telling Jesus I love Him have in the grand scheme of God’s heart and His glory in the nations?

The reasons this matters so much to me is, I won’t have the confidence to keep showing up to a pray room year after year for the rest of my life if I don’t believe it’s worth while or important. God has convinced me of the power of prayer and intercession; I know that when I stand up to pray I am in the throne room of heaven, God hears me and He is releasing His kingdom. I can build a case to spend the rest of my life interceding for God’s purposes in the earth because I know eventually they will be done, but my foundation for the house of prayer has to be more than just intercession. My foundation for the house of prayer ought to be the glory of God, but how can it be when I don’t understand the glory of God or the part I play in it?

This is the wrestle of my heart. Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts from what you’ve seen in the Word. I really am seeking answers, pray that God would reveal Himself to me. Thanks friends and readers!

A Fresh Ask

This week I am spurred on and encouraged by the new students arriving at IHOPU. They are eager and hungry for what God is about to do, and all of us are excited for them. Many teachers and faculty have already urged them “be expectant for God to move. Ask Him for an encounter”.

I remember showing up here 2 years ago. One word describes the state I was in: desperate. I HAD to have more of God. When you’re desperate you’ll do anything people tells you will work, you’ll spend long hours in prayer and cut out all the other distractions. During my first semester I asked God for a lot of things. I wanted to encounter His heart, I wanted to see salvation among my friends, I wanted to be free from old lies and thought patterns, I wanted to come alive in His love.

All this time I have been asking, but as answered prayers have relieved some of my desperation and unanswered prayers have become difficult to carry, there are areas where I have stopped asking. Or at least, my expectancy that God will answer has lowered. But, I am reminded as I see these new students how much the Lord actually has done in my heart in the last 2 years.

I feel encouraged to approach the Lord with a fresh ask in my heart. One of my favorite verses that first semester was Hebrews 11:6 which says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

This is a major theme God is bringing back into my life. Do I actually believe he is who he says he is? Do I believe he is a rewarder of those who seek him? If I seek will I really find? If I ask will he really answer? Is he really a God that gives good gifts to his children?

I rise up in my faith and say “Oh my soul, trust in Him!” He is good. He does not tell us to seek him in vain. He is the God who loves to be found, who loves to be sought out.

So my fresh ask, my new reach, is that I would encounter God in a new way this semester. As I rearrange my life and seek him on the Night Watch I want to meet him in a profound way. I want to gain an understanding of the worthiness of Jesus, and a conviction about His cosmic story He is writing. I want to look back years from now and remember this season as the one that changed my walk with the Lord forever.

So I’m asking again.

What are you asking Him for? What encourages your heart to keep asking?