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?

It Was a Set Up

I’m lying there, hoping to fall asleep and trying not to dread the weak feeling I’m going to have when I wake up and head into the prayer room. But God is so excited. He’s thrilled that when I wake up, I will HAVE to ask Him for help.

This was a set up.

I could say that doing the Night Watch was my idea, but it’s not. He’s lured me to this place. I am currently on night 5. My body is obviously still in transition, so that makes how weak I feel amplified, but I am already catching on to how this is going to be all semester.

Yesterday I was sitting in the prayer room at 4 o’clock. I had been in there 2 hours and didn’t want to pray anymore. Intercession was just beginning and I just didn’t feel like standing up, engaging, or praying. I sat there for a few minutes and then thought to myself “maybe I should ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen me”. Ephesians 3:16-19 talks about how He strengthens us with might by His spirit in the inner man. So I simply asked Him to.

Almost immediately I felt something. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was the feeling of literal strength touching my spirit. It wasn’t extravagant, it was just enough to get me on my feet. How we respond to the grace of God matters. At this point I could of said “that’s nice” and stayed sitting there. But I realized, this is the Holy Spirit helping me and I need to act on it while I have any ounce of desire to pray in me. So I did. I moved up to the front section of the prayer room and stood during intercession. I actually prayed.

I’m never comfortable when I’m up there, especially when I’m the only one standing, but it helps me to pray. As I was reflecting on this whole event while I was trying to fall asleep yesterday it occurred to me– “I am going to have to do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.” God is just downright giddy about this. He was sitting up there on His throne, giggling with excitement because I am going to talk to Him tomorrow and ask Him for help.

Like I said, this was a set up. He’s so excited for this process. I couldn’t help but laugh too, because as much as I dread feeling weak, I love it when He comes and strengthens me. It was amazing to literally feel Ephesians 3:16-19 on the inside.

The New Things

Change and I have a love-hate relationship. Most of the time I like patterns, schedules and stability, but then every once in awhile I get the urge to rearrange the furniture, sit in a different section of the prayer room or buy a different type of cliff bar. I know. I try not to get too crazy. (It took me 2 years of thinking about it to dye my hair brown).

Recently I’ve begun one of those times in the rhythm of life called “change”. It’s affected nearly everything. Friends got married, some moved, some left the country. I finished the forerunner curriculum, went to my last small group with my best friends (#brigroup), and many other things.

This means: New roommates. New friends. A new major. New responsibilities. A new small group. Oh and a new cat (that’s nice–his name is Mark).

The goodbyes were hard, but I am confident that the new hellos are going to be even better. The endings are sad, but the beginnings will be so worth it. So here’s to the new things, may the adventure of discovering them be a grand one.

So…it’s happening.

Night Watch, I mean.

A year ago I was driving home from work around 1am and as I passed the prayer room a small cry arose from my heart. “I want to worship Jesus in the night”. It was small, hardly noticeable, but in the next months to follow it began to grow.

I am switching to the Night Watch in 10 days.

In the last few months, as I’ve been sharing and inviting friends to partner with me, the question keeps being asked “Why in the world would you want to join the Night Watch?”

It’s hard to put into words, but there’s something in me that I can’t shake. Something that won’t let me bend. It’s something that even when I thought Night Watch wouldn’t be possible right away, I knew was true with all my heart.

Jesus is worthy of 24/7 worship. He’s called me to pray and serve in the Night Watch, and though this whole process is out of my comfort zone I long to say yes and be obedient. To some it is irrational and foolish. I appears I am wasting my life, choosing a road that will lead to poverty and burnout. It might not be practical compared to the American Dream, but “God is not practical. He’s beautiful and beautiful things demand an extravagant response”.

I could be sorry that this response doesn’t lie within the average Christian confines, but I’m not. I could tell you this is just a faze and that I’ll grow out of it and move on to living the  American dream, but I won’t. Because, God willing, I want to spend the rest of my life knowing God, giving Him glory and making Him known. It can’t just be a fad for me. I’ve been gripped by something way bigger than myself and I want nothing more than to respond with obedience and love.

I know the House of Prayer, the Night Watch, and everything I’m doing seems crazy and yes it will be hard, but by the grace of God I am saying yes to the His leadership.

My own strength, my own zeal, and my own passion will not keep me here, for they are not what got me here in the first place. Only God can set watchmen on the walls (Isa. 62:6-7). Only God can raise up a night and day prayer and worship movement in the earth (Mal. 1:11). Only God can keep me steady in the trials and in the mundane of life.

With trembling and the fear of the Lord I take my place on the wall of intercession, knowing only He has put me here and only He will keep me.  Night Watch…here I come.

Getting Weaker

We’d like to think that buying into Christianity is like going to the gym.

It means we’re suddenly going to get ripped, have no problems, always do everything right and just be awesome. Wrong. So wrong. Christianity is about getting weaker.

This is just something I’m figuring out on the fly, so correct me if you don’t agree, but the more we fall in love with Jesus the weaker we become. No, not because we’re lacking the power of Christ to overcome sin. I understand that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It’s not that I think that we get spiritually weaker as we go on, I think it’s that we finally see how weak we always were and decide that relying on someone else is the only way to survive. So yes, it is weak, because none of the strength is actually ours.

Two years ago I thought I was a radical Christian with a pretty good walk with the Lord. But I could go days without talking to Jesus and it wouldn’t really bother me, I could watch movies with pretty awful stuff in it and not care, I could do lots of things and be just fine. But after two years of letting the Lord work on my heart and two years of seeking him in the place of prayer, if I go two days without talking to Jesus I am a mess on the floor. I just can’t function. I am so weak.

It’s probably good that I’m finding out my limitations now and not later. If I don’t talk to Jesus today, if He doesn’t wash me with His Word, if I am not connected to the Holy Spirit, then fear will surely overcome my heart.

The more I fall in love with Jesus, the weaker I become.

It’s because the more I depend on Him, the more I am relying on His strength and power, the more I am getting addicted.  It’s like if I were addicted to morphine to alleviate some pain I had, and then one day decided to not take any, my body would go into shock. Everything would be in chaos because I had been so dependent on it for so long. The more we love God, the weaker we become. We become addicted to liquid strength called the Holy Spirit and just can’t do with anything less.

I can’t get by without God. Call me weak. I don’t mind. I can’t watch or do certain things because they hurt me and they hurt my relationship with God. Call me lame. I’ll be fine. I don’t really care. I don’t want anything to come between me and the most precious thing I have.

Choosing Weakness

A lot of people say it’s not worth it to follow Jesus because they have such great lives doing lots of fun [stupid] things. Many say they’ll never give those things up because they’d rather have them than Jesus. The only response I have is –YOU’VE NEVER MET HIM THEN.

Really, how would you know that God can’t be more satisfying than everything else if you’ve never once experienced a conversation with the one who breathed the stars? I dare you to try it. I dare you to talk to God, to invite Him to spend time with you and to reveal His love to you.

All I know is, He took my anxious soul and gave me rest. He took my fearful heart and filled me with love. He took everything I was ashamed of and made me clean. I met God and He turned out to be the most pleasurable, good, pure, kind, beautiful thing I could ever dream of. And you know what? I am satisfied. Really satisfied.

This is called dependency.

So here I am, addicted and weak. I don’t want anything less than the pleasure of knowing and being known by God. I need Him and I know that I can’t live a single day without Him. I am dependent.

10 Things FPD Taught Me

FPD stands for Forerunner Partnership Development. It is a campaign used by missionaries to go and share their vision with supporters and to build a partnership team so that they can be released into full time ministry.

I began this over the summer because I am a missionary with IHOPKC* as well as a student at IHOPU. I am called to build and strengthen houses of prayer around the world and to disciple the next generation from the context of night and day prayer. With my partnership team I will be able to receive training in children’s and youth ministry, serve my community on the Night Watch** and join a smaller house of prayer upon graduating.

So here they are, 10 things FPD taught me:

1. You CANNOT do it alone. Not without people (big shout out to my friends and family who have encouraged me all along the way) and not without Jesus. When He told His disciples “without me you can do nothing” in John 15:5 He really wasn’t kidding. As much as my independent heart would like to try to do things on my own, it’s just not possible.

2. You find out who you are. FPD forces you to go to the Lord in prayer and to ask what His plans for you are, who He’s made you to be, and how to be obedient to Him. This searching process has to happen with the Lord in order for you to have confidence to go and tell other people about it. It gives you conviction and a fear of the Lord on your life in a way that nothing else will.

3. Doing your best doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be successful. Just like everything else in Christianity, you’re ability to follow through doesn’t predict your outcome. If that were the case in salvation then my own good behavior would be the means for my salvation, and I would not be saved. Similarly, in FPD, God doesn’t reward you with partnership because you did everything perfect, never got scared, never wimped out or never lost a contact. His Kingdom doesn’t operate on our ability to “do better”. This is good news because you’re probably not going to do FPD perfectly.

4. FPD is ministry. Not only is it refining you and preparing you for ministry, it becomes the avenue for ministry opportunities itself. You can pray for, bless and encourage the people you meet with all along your journey and see the Lord move and restore in amazing ways.

5. God is your provider, not other people. People might be one way God provides, but the moment you switch to seeing people as your provider everything gets skewed. Your words and actions become fear based instead of confidence based. I slipped into the wrong mindset many times and the only way to get out of it is to remind yourself who God is. He is the one on the throne, He is the creator of heavens and earth, those other people aren’t.

6. New and renewed relationships far outweigh any monetary gifts received. Partners are not ATM machines, they are beloved brother’s and sisters in Christ. I have been blessed over and over again by renewed friendships in the last 3 months. It amazes me the way God uses something like FPD to put people in your path, bring about restoration, and rekindle love. It makes it all worth it, regardless if you receive money from them.

7. It’s okay to have meltdowns. I might have had one or two a week. It’s okay to not be strong enough. It’s okay that you can’t do it all on your own. It takes a lot to do FPD, and what I found out was that if I wasn’t abiding in Christ, I was filled with anxiety and fear. It became an overwhelming pattern until I finally sat down and talked to Jesus.

8. The fact that God is faithful doesn’t change based on your bank account. I don’t think there’s a plainer way to say it. This might be the most important thing I’m learning. God is who He says He is. He does not change. If you believe the Word of God to be true, then you can’t look at unmet expectations and impossible situations and say that God has abandoned you. Your circumstances cannot change the character of God. For “even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2:13).

9. It’s uncomfortable and vulnerable — but ultimately good. God brings about all things for the good of those who love Him. So even though I feel like I did it imperfectly and I don’t see all the fruit of it yet, I know that He will bring good in my life from it. I can be confident that He has been growing me and changing me this summer and that I will see the results in the coming years. He uses every situation to bring us closer to Him.

10. I had it all wrong. I was treating FPD like the validation for my calling. Basically, the thought process was “If God called me to this, He’ll provide and if He doesn’t provide then I’m not called to it”. God has asked me to have a different kind of faith. Faith that doesn’t hinge on the outward circumstances. Of course, I need Him to provide in order to do what He’s called me to, but when I said “He’ll provide” I always had a particular picture and time frame in mind. When my expectations are unmet and the promises are delayed, am I to throw them away? No. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). So therefore, I have decided that regardless of the way things look right now, I really do believe I’m called to the Night Watch and to the prayer movement.

*Find out more about IHOPKC

**See previous blog posts about the NIGHT WATCH: ONE & TWO

If you would like to help me join the Night Watch financially, please follow the instructions on my Go Fund Me page –> http://www.gofundme.com/ca6d7w

A Survey that Matters

We all know that there are billions of surveys you can take on the internet. You can find out what color, animal, movie star, or Disney princess you are with a few simple questions.

Well since I’m a big fan of the statement “your voice matters” I’m sharing with you a survey that matters. It’s about the way the Media portrays American men.

Some friends of mine are working on a project to see what we really think men ought to be like, how the Media skews our image of them, etc.

The more honest, clear, answers the better — so Survey away!

You can find it here at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GBT3G5T