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

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.

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

To be a Writer

Summer time is great for writing. I’ve published 10 posts in the last 7 weeks and have 5 more at different stages in the works. I will continue to shamelessly promote my blog, but to be honest I don’t write for people.

I write out of the overflow of situations and meditations, anything that touches a corner of my life becomes another possibility. It’s not like I hide away and write for days like a recluse, it’s actually when I’m living life that I have the most to write about.

What does it look like to be a writer? In my opinion, you keep on living and you keep on writing, and you keep on sharing regardless of feedback because to live at all is to be a writer and someone out there might just need to read what you’ve said.

But even then, people liking what you write doesn’t make it worth it. It’s already worth it just because it’s been written, just because the pen has touched the page and the unexplainable has become tangible.

When we write we reflect our lives, and somehow people see something that they recognize, something that gives them a glimmer of hope or an opportunity to laugh or to grieve, or to think a new thought and that rare occasion is absolutely beautiful.

 

Better than a Conference High

If you’ve been in an average American youth group, complete with youth camps and conferences, you should know what I mean by “conference high”.

It’s where you and your youth group buddies go some place exciting, do fun stuff, worship Jesus, listen to great speakers and get radically changed. Then you all go home and the gushy feelings last for a little bit, but eventually you drift back into everyday normality. Before you know it, a whole year has gone by and you’re desperate to get to the next conference to encounter Jesus again.

I used to look at this cycle (and I lived it) very cynically. I would harumph and guffah that anything real had happened in my peers because they just went back to the way things were before. But that’s actually not what this post is about.

I legitimately believe that these experiences are real. I can say this because, as I said I lived it, and because God has begun changing my perspective. It’s no surprise that conference highs happen the way they do. In those times where we pull away from mundane life and reach for God, we do find Him. As we worship we encounter the presence of God in a completely new way. It’s real. I know it is.

But everything we experience and touch during those “conference highs” simply wets our appetites.

In the presence of God we begin to feel the satisfaction and fulfillment that we were always meant to have. We taste something so real and so good that we never want to leave. Unfortunately, the only time this encounter is offered or facilitated is during church camps.

It’s kind of awful, really. Our souls are already desperate for something to fill us, then we touch the only thing that truly will, and then in a matter of days it’s ripped away from us again.

The problem is that we are not taught how to carry the presence home with us.

Teenagers and youth-group-goers are seeking conference highs because it’s where they meet with God. This was my life. I tasted the real thing and I was never again satisfied with games and fun-nights. I wanted God.

But no one taught me how to commune with God, how to fellowship with the Spirit, or how to pray the Word.

There’s 2 outcomes of chasing conference highs. The most common is that you become burnt out and disillusioned, assuming that God’s either mad at you or there’s something wrong with you. I remember thinking that seeking God’s love was like chasing fireflies. They blink here and there, and you desperately chase after them, but as soon as you get close they go dark again. The chase never ends and never satisfies. In my generation so many end up dissatisfied and distracted, giving up that chase for something they can find more than once a year at a conference.

The other outcome is desperation and hunger that leads you into a life of prayer. But often this doesn’t happen on our own. Someone has to point us in the right direction. Someone has to teach us how to pray and how to be with God. If no one tells my generation that God can be found through prayer, then how are they to find Him?

Conferences can push you in the right direction but it can’t substitute a life of communion with God.

I always wanted something more than a conference high — I wanted deep relationship with the living God.

What needs to be taught more than anything else in our youth groups  is how to have a life of prayer and how to meet with God in the secret place. If it’s not, We need to call a generation to set all their distractions aside and take time to seek God in the day to day. It’s only there that we’ll find something better than a conference high — and that’s God Himself.

And God Said…

“And God said…”

Many of you just filled in the blank with the well known Bible verse from Genesis, “let there be light”. We know it so well, but do we really understand the creative power that comes from the Almighty’s voice?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently, and it became a discussion of how sound amplified becomes light, and vice versa, how all light (and all matter even), is made of sound at a frequency we cannot hear. Now, I’m no scientist, so please don’t shoot me down if I misunderstood this concept, but I think it holds Biblical merit.

Imagine this, that God created with words, and those words were propelled from his mouth by sound, and that sound was at such a frequency that it became light, and matter, and anything He commanded it to be. Spectacular.

Both the Old and New Testaments testify that God created through His word and that through His word everything is being upheld.

The Psalmist writes, “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…for He spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast” Psalm 33:6, 9

We have only to look at the first chapter of John to see that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was with the Father in the beginning, at the creation of the world. It was through this Word that everything was made. And we are assured again by Paul that, “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created through Him and for Him”. Colossians 1:16

It was through the Son that God made the worlds, and we are given an even greater assurance that right now, with His real breath, Jesus is upholding all things by the Word of His power (Heb. 1:2-3).

How astounding! Even as I write, my heart is unable to comprehend the enormity of this. Right now there is a Word, who spoke and who is speaking, who made and who is upholding.

This word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, is upholding you right now.In fact, He is upholding everything. The Word of God immediately becomes an anchor to our wind battered souls. This Word that is speaking, that is upholding, cannot be changed or removed or done away with. His Word is sure, more steadfast than the mountains.

Why We All Wish We Could Fly on Dragons

I was that 20 year old, walking out of How to Train Your Dragon 2, flapping my pretend wings and gleefully telling my sister, “I want to fly on a dragon!!!!!!!”.  No shame.

During the drive home from the theater however, I was deep in thought. What is it about movies like that, that make us say, “I want to fly a dragon”? After being immersed in a colorful, exciting world where freedom and adventure is found on the back of a dragon, I found I was longing for that kind of satisfaction. Even if it’s just on the surface level, every time we leave a movie wishing it were real, there’s an actual dissatisfaction deep within us.

My reaction to the movie had me asking, “What is it in God that satisfies us deeper than the imaginary thrill of dragon riding?”

I KNOW. I’m weird. Normal people don’t think like that. But I do, because I know that God made us to be satisfied with something in Him and everything this world scrounges up is great, but it’s not Him. So there has to be something in Him that touches the answer to our craving in a deeper way than flying a dragon does. I hope I’m making sense.

We long to be satisfied, we have a deep craving in us to be wildly alive, free, and full of passion. Everyone around us is looking for that satisfaction, looking for the next big thrill. We come up with other worlds and create beautiful imaginary creatures, always trying to touch something beautiful and infinite. I remember after the movie Avatar came out, people were depressed because that world was so amazing and ours was not. Seriously, they were depressed. The same thing happens when we watch a TV series or read books; we get caught up in the beauty and the adventure and then often mourn when it ends.

I think something Stephen Venable said in one of his teachings sums it up well:

“We yearn to be an integral part of an adventure of grand and of epic proportions in which we give ourselves fully and unreservedly to a noble cause. It’s the reason we love getting caught up in stories; we want to be a part of a story. Essentially, it’s the desire for greatness.”

I think God put something in us that says, “I want to fly a dragon”. We are all born with an innate desire to be fascinated by something bigger than ourselves and to be a part of a thrilling adventure.

If flying a dragon is just the world’s attempt to satisfy this, then what does it’s real fulfillment look like? My heart is craving the answer. How much fascination, satisfaction and fulfillment can I get in God? How far can I go? How deeply immersed, how fully submerged in the glories of the everlasting God can I be?

I want to be alive. I’m not okay with living in a hospital bed all my life, hooked up to feeding tubes and being on life support. I want to really live. None of the fantasies this world offers us actually help; they just stroke our “greatness complex” and then leave us wanting more. They get us addicted to the fake stuff, and then we never go looking for the real stuff.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis 

So long as were pacified by the thrill of every imaginary world, every grand adventure, every new fight to win, every new story to get wrapped up in, we’ll never ask for something more.

I’m asking for more. Will you?

We may not experience complete fulfillment for all our desires on this side of eternity, but I want to test the limits, I want as much as I can get. I want my day dream to always be mining the height and depth and width and length of the love of Christ which passes all knowledge (Eph. 3:18-19). I want my heart to constantly be turning to the riches of the glories of His inheritance in us (Eph. 1:18). I want to be swept away in the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us (Eph. 2:7). I want to always be experiencing the riches of the glory of the mystery of Christ in me (Col. 1:27).

There is so much we have not yet touched. There is so much we have at our fingertips to experience. We will always be searching and we will always be finding out that what we know of God now, is better than what we knew of Him five minutes ago. Even better than flying dragons.