The Beauty of “Together”

“The music is soft, our hearts are raw, we come needy. As the melody plays we each find strength to sing. Quietly at first, but with each added voice our courage rises. I believe it. ‘How great your love is for me’. We believe it. Together we find faith to sing it. We’re reaching and we’re feeling the love of God and for a moment we are unified. One heart, one voice, one mind, agreeing with truth.” (1/26/15)

Its beautiful, experiencing the love of God corporately. We each come in the room with our own burdens to lay down. We have tired eyes, broken hearts and broken bodies. Some barely have the strength to lift their eyes, others are hanging onto one verse for dear life. Others have learned to sing through the pain. On our own, we won’t make it.

We sit down in those gray chairs and put our eyes elsewhere. We breathe in deep and let the peace of God minister to our hearts. Together we are able to believe, together we are able to sing. “Woah oh, woah oh, how great your love is for me”.

We need each other. The faith of one brother can give courage to another. Its moments like these, sharing a song, that can change so much. Suddenly its not just me with all my problems and worries trying to sing. Brothers and sisters are singing it with me and now its not so impossible to agree.

14 “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[c] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

Waiting

Its a Monday night and I don’t know what to write about. I have no new revelation, no song in my heart or cool testimony to share. I just have me–raw emotions, a little messy at the moment, and kind of unsure of what the Lord is doing in my life. Actually I’m just. . .waiting.“What am I waiting for?” My frustrated heart asks. “What do I really want? What about the promises? Do I even want them anymore?”

Waiting makes you reevaluate what you’re waiting for. It purifies your motives which means either your direction is changed or your resolve is even more strengthened.

Vulnerability time: lately, I’ve found myself despising the things I thought I was waiting for. Not because they’re bad things, they’re actually all good and Biblical, but my heart is so unsatisfied with the thought of what they will bring.

For instance, I think about going into ministry, I think about being a pastor, shepherd, teacher, or leader. I think about having influence, seeing people get saved, revival, healing, miracles, etc. I look at what “fruit” might come from my life, from the training I’m getting and the trajectory of the path I’m on. Its important to have a life vision and to look forward but I am beginning to dislike my version of “forward”. I look at all of it and deep down my heart says, “I don’t want it.”

They are all really good things, but still, I’m not content. Maybe I should be, but I’ve always had the ache in my soul that says, “there’s something more”. I don’t want my version of the future because I don’t see a heart that’s alive. I see accomplishment and activity but I don’t want to be dead inside while doing it.

Wrestling through these feeling has been confusing. It has made me think that I should reconsider everything I’m doing. I’ve been saying things like, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life” and all the while growing more and more discontent with what I’m studying. I’ve been wondering if I should even be doing children’s ministry. Obviously backing completely away and saying no to it all is the extreme option. Yet, even if I decided to do different type of ministry or to go back to college and get a degree or to get married and be a stay at home mom (all plausible options) I think if I looked at them long enough my heart would come to the same conclusion – “I don’t want it”. I don’t want any of it.

Those things, though good, are not what my heart was made for. They’re not the thing my heart is crying out for. I have an ache that won’t be satisfied with a calling or ministry assignment.

Right now I think the Lord is using the waiting to ask– “what do you really want?” He’s pruning away at my divided heart and is producing a cry that says, “I only want you God.” Its not that I didn’t have that cry before, it was there, but now He’s testing it. He’s seeing if its real. Not for His sake though, He knows what’s real and what’s fake. He’s testing it for my sake. He’s letting me choose and be sure in my decision.

I’m not living for a job description. The “future” I’ve made up in my head isn’t that satisfactory. I don’t want to spend my life chasing my version of anything. I don’t want to be working toward some end goal in ministry, simply chasing fruit.

I’ve always thought about my future as “getting somewhere and finally being something.” Well, I’ve explored all the ‘somethings’ I could be and I don’t want any of them.

If He’s not my goal then I am lost.

(Disclaimer: I’m not having a life crisis. Please don’t worry about me.To be continued, for sure.)

3 Things Church History has Taught Me

(The following is a blog written for my Church History class which I am making available for you to read. Enjoy.)

1. God uses imperfect vessels to carry out His perfect plan.

For example, throughout the growth and history of the church we see many apologists, bishops and monks who served the Lord with genuine fervor. They did not, however, have everything figured out correctly nor were they perfect in their practice of Christianity. The early church got all sorts of things wrong, such as the idea of “apostolic succession”, the use of relics and penance in the official church as well as intertwining Roman politics with church offices. On the other side of things, monk’s who were celebrated for having saintly lives believed in asceticism, some to the point of causing fellow monks to die. None of this stopped the perfect plans and purposes of God. The church grew and blossomed, genuine conversions took place and the gospel began spreading to the nations. It is easy to have a harsh view of the past now that we are more “enlightened” than they, but we must realize even those who got it wrong were used by God.

2. Authentic Christianity has a cost.

Looking at the Western Church today one would think Christianity was merely an activity or hobby, similar to that of the Sunday afternoon football game. Most Americans profess to be Christians, even church-goers, but how many today truly hold the same faith of those who suffer persecution and martyrdom? In the times of the early church the true test of faith was whether one would denounce their faith in the face of suffering or not. Though persecution was not widespread or continuous through the rise and fall of Roman Emperors, there came a point where many professing Christians had to pay the price of their faith. They considered it the highest joy and honor to be a martyr and bravely faced their suffering. This meant there was a price to pay; Jesus instructed His followers to take up their cross and follow him, many doing just that.

3. Jesus alone will be able to rightly combine religion and politics.

History has a bad rap sheet when it comes to combining the church and state. Long term it has rarely been successful, though there might be benefits here and there. For instance, Constantine legalized Christianity, making it easier and more popular to become a Christian. This however led to a watering down of the gospel and a weakened faith. Later as the Papacy grew in power and with the crowning of Charlemagne as the “Holy Roman Emperor” the state began to corrupt the church. Theological decisions were made according to who had the most sway with the emperor, church offices were bought and sold instead of given to worthy leaders and “indulgences” were given by the Pope in order to persuade the people to join in the crusades. Religion and politics will only be successfully joined together under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. Until then, men will continue to fail at it.

Ministry in New York: April 10th-19th

This April 7 teams of IHOPU students are being sent to 7 cities to partner with existing houses of prayer for a week of worship, evangelism, intercession, and works of justice. The week will culminate with the Onething Regional Tour (click for link to video), a conference which will host main IHOPKC speakers and worship leaders in each of the locations. The teams of students will serve in healing and prophetic ministry, on worship teams and as ministry captains throughout the event.

home-mapIn the past two years I have had the opportunity to go to Cincinnati and Boston for school ministry trips and they have been experiences marked with incredible spiritual growth. In Cincinnati the Lord stretched me in the place of evangelism and I shared the gospel for the first time in my life. In Boston the Lord gave me His heart for New England through the gift of intercession. He taught me what it looks like to bear one another’s burdens through prayer and I got to see the way He is raising up a church that is confident in the love of God and powerful in the place of prayer.

This April 10th-19th I get to return to New England, this time to New York City and the Metro area of New Jersey. I am apart of the leadership team, working on the admin and food side of things, which is a growing opportunity in itself. Our team is a combination of 50 students, led by a student leader and IHOPKC staff and coaches. We will be partnering with Eastern Gate House of Prayer which is about half an hour outside of NYC on the NJ side. My team will strengthen their prayer room, joining with the worship and intercession they already hold each week. We also will be taking teams into the city to pray and evangelize throughout the city and on college campus’.  At the end of the week we’ll be opening healing and prophecy rooms for the attendees of the regional conference and ministering during main sessions taught by IHOPKC leader and IHOPU professor, Wes Hall.

I am most excited to see the way the Lord works through the students that go because I know it is always a life changing experience. Last year we saw several people get saved, many were encouraged through prayer ministry and we even saw the Lord heal bodies. I am expectant that the Lord will use us, weak and broken vessels, (who often think- “I don’t have anything to offer”) to bring glory to Jesus in NY/NJ.

Please pray with us as we prepare over the next two months that God would call and equip every student He wants on this trip, as well that He would provide for each financially (as the trip costs $450). Pray that the Lord would move in power when the gospel is preached and when prayer meetings are gathered, that many would know God and glorify Him. We want to see healings and miracles that change lives and we want to be an encouragement and blessing to the believers who live and minister there.

I am asking the Lord to fully provide for this ministry opportunity and I believe $450 is a small number for Him. If you would like to partner with me as I go on this trip follow the link in the right sidebar to give online through my IHOPKC account or comment with your email if you would like an address to send a check.

 

Meditation

Far away in a place where no one dare dwell, long forgotten by travelers, not sought after by sightseers, man descends far below where map and compass no longer tell. With torches and eyes gleaming, greedy thoughts aglow with dreaming, he puts an end to that stillness, lighting the darkness.

He is at his endless search; searching and mining for strong iron and copper smelted from ore. There is no price too great, no struggle too strong for this hungry carnivore. Mining deeper and deeper to where no living thing is found and where the roots of the mountains and the womb of great fountains resides.

But this, this is not where wisdom hides.

Man fishes in the deep, casting his net, hoping to retrieve a precious commodity. A chest of treasure, fine gold and silver, the buyer of pleasure. Donning suit and mask and steel contraption he plunges downward toward his fantasy satisfaction. He dares go where there is not sunlight or air, but he finds no wisdom there.

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth and it is not found in the land of the living”.

I’m flipping from the Prophets to the Epistles seeking out wisdom; following the patterns, mining the pages, looking for secrets, finding . . . something better. Finding Him. Finding ‘Peace’ Himself. The Word-made-flesh steps off the pages unlocked by whispering a few simple phrases. Though man searches long, still wisdom is hidden, but now it is revealed through the Word, uncovered, dug up, through meditation.

“He saw wisdom and declared it; He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out. And to man He said. . . Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom

See, the desire of the seeker matters more than the skill, we’re all just blind travelers fingering a compass which is useless if we aren’t willing to be led.

We’re speaking, sending out words like a blindman’s stick bouncing off of walls, leaving hints of a path unhindered, the echos resounding off the matter around us reminding us there’s something strong ahead. Something strong to lean on.

Something solid and immovable like mountains and facts, mountains because they’re so big, facts because they always last. A word that remains that can’t be undone, step carefully, we’re walking in holy territory. Even the most skilled miners and finders can only find minerals and bits of rock in all their caves and crevices. All dirt and worth nothing compared to the sort of treasure God hides.

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth and it is not found in the land of the living”.

Is it found in the deep where birds dare not make their nest, where only forgotten things fell? Can it be excavated and traded for all the pearls of this world or the crystal and jade of an elegant promenade? Coral and jasper are not even worthy of mention, silver or fine gold cannot be equaled.

The fear of the Lord leads to wisdom.

“God understands its way, and He knows its place. For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens”.

Slow at first and now with excitement, I breathe in each verse and breathe out true contentment.  Like a hunter of treasure, I open the pages and begin, the adventure.

“Meditation”.

(All italicized verses are from Job chapter 28. Go let the story unfold for yourself).

 

Why I love my Dad

Well…its not fathers day, or my dad’s birthday, but he deserves a blog post to celebrate him regardless. He’s a great man, one I respect more than anyone else in the world. (And I’m not just saying that while batting my eyelashes because I want him to give me something). I wouldn’t need to anyway.

He gives all the time. He gives his love and energy, his time and compassion; he pours himself out wherever he’s at. At his job, he’s hardworking, reliable and kind. At home he serves, honors my mom and is the funniest person I know. From his puns and parodies to his unique (sometimes embarrassing) dance moves, this guy has it all. There’s so much to say about him, but in the end it comes down to this.

I love him because he demonstrates love in a real and practical way.

I know what love looks like because I’ve seen him walk it out. I’ve seen him up night after night, caring for my sister, never complaining. I’ve seen him helping my mom, encouraging her, and praying for her. I’ve seen him pouring into special needs kids at Boccia events because he loves to see them smile when they play the game. I’ve seen him cheering my brother on, always ready to coach when needed but also ready to just love him and be his dad. I’ve seen him admit he’s wrong and ask for forgiveness when he messes up. He does what every dad should do. He covers. He protects. He fights for his children.

He’s the one who taught me how to ride my bike, just me and him in the elementary school parking lot. He’s the one who made us viking shields back when we were homeschooled. He’s the one who got us kittens one weekend when my mom was out of town. He’s the one who would take us girls to weddings when he officiated, always asking us to dance at the reception. He’s the one that drove 30 minutes at 2am to help when my car broke down on the way home from work. And he took me out to pancakes afterward. He’s the one who tells me its okay that I don’t have my life figured out and that he’s proud of me.

You see, he ministers the Father’s heart without even realizing it.

Just by loving and serving the way he does, he tells me so much about my Father in heaven. Yes, I know my dad is a broken human, but if he can love the way he does, how much more my heavenly Father?

Today God showed me that for a long time I’ve been believing a lie. In my heart I’ve thought, “When I need you, you won’t respond. When I’m under attack you won’t protect me”. But God used my dad to break that lie and to heal my heart. It was simple really, but last week I needed him. I told him what was wrong. He didn’t hesitate one second. He covered me, he protected me, and he led the way. [He’ll know what I’m talking about]. That showed me the Father. It brought me healing knowing that not only does my Dad do that, but God, my Father, does that. And I’m so thankful. I’m thankful for a dad who shows me what the Father is like.

I could go on and on about this man. But I’ll end with this:

Dad – I love you. A whole lot. And this is just a little bit why.

Love, Rachel

When God Overshadows

I’m standing in the back of an upstairs classroom, one that very well could have been the same one I gave my life to the Lord in 16 years ago (a story for another day). There’s probably 45 kids, ages 3 to 5, singing and dancing in the front. As we worship I feel the presence of the Lord in a way I haven’t before. Its almost a holy fear, knowing he’s there working and moving, that these are His kids and He’s entrusted them to us. Though there’s lots on my mind, several worries that keep nagging, I can’t help but forget them as I take in the importance of the moment. And that’s when I notice it.

God, overshadowing.

Like a thick wall of peace behind me pressing up against my anxious shoulders, I am suddenly aware of Him. Not saying anything, not doing anything in particular, just resting. You know the verse that talks about the shadow of Gods wings? Its like that.

I need to backtrack so you know why this is so important. To be completely honest, I am no longer working at my old job and I’m in a difficult financial position. I need the Lord to provide, either by directing me to a new job or helping me gain more monthly partners. I don’t care what or how, I just need to know from the Lord what He wants me to do. I’m out here on these waves and I’m not quite sure why just yet. Well…except that He called me out here.

Now, let me explain. I’m a mature, hardworking, realistic person. Which means I usually look at the people who say, “the Lord told me to quit my job and live by faith” with a little skepticism. I don’t do crazy things like that. But here I am, after quitting my job because I knew the Lord had something else for me to do. Trust me, this took a lot of prayer and after I had several confirmations from other praying people I decided it was time to trust God and cut ties with my comfortability.

What for? Well, to fast and pray and read the Bible more, to go love a bunch of kids and teach them about God, and to learn everything I can about everything from running a ministry to Church History. I’m doing and learning so much, but still, the rational side of me keeps screaming, “what were you thinking?!?”

I think I’m obeying the Lord. Its kinda scary, but as my roommate pointed out to me, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps. 37:25).

When God overshadows, it doesn’t matter what your circumstances are. When you feel His perfect assurance, it doesn’t matter that you don’t know what you’re doing. And that brings me to where I was standing yesterday morning.

I feel His presence behind me. Like a warmth against my back, giving me courage, letting me know He is near. I may not know what I am doing, but I know He is with me. I’d rather be where He is, even if it means the unknown. God is overshadowing me.  I abide under the shadow of His wings.