What I’m Praying: Refreshing

Continuing my What I’m Praying series…

The past few weeks, TPR has been focussed on praying for a time of deep refreshing to come to our community. This has been our rapid fire topic at the end of every set. To be honest, it’s been an exhausting year. Many people feel a bit dry and dull and just soul-weary. We need a good strong “time of refreshing” (Acts 3:20) from the Lord to revive our hearts. Living dry is no fun.

It’s true that most of life is lived in the mundane. Most of the time, we’re neither on the mountaintop nor in the depths of despair; rather, we’re sort of on the plateau of daily walking out life with God, trying to stay obedient and faithful no matter how we’re feeling.

But we don’t want to just be okay with not encountering God.

We’re asking God for a season of refreshing, that as individuals and as a community we would receive an increased touch of the Holy Spirit.

This past week, I believe we’ve started to see glimpses of that. On Saturday night, Brad was called last minute to attend a meeting, so instead of him continuing our teaching series, our weekly Encounter service became a prayer meeting with extended worship for exactly this topic of refreshing. We asked God to move in signs and wonders and to refresh us with an increased manifestation of His presence. The corporate nature of that prayer meeting, with all of us in the room joined with fervor and unity, and the worship team’s excellent prophetic leadership, definitely brought refreshing to our hearts. With the leanness of our 18/7 schedule right now, we’re not able to have those experiences together very often.

Also, on Sunday night a prayer group from a local Messianic congregation visited the prayer room. Almost 30 ladies joined us for an hour or so, and God really moved among them. Our worship leader felt a strong prophetic nudge to spontaneously lead a ministry time from the prayer mic (don’t worry, the usher took his seat so the stage wasn’t empty) and give a call for anyone who felt called to missions. The room was deeply touched and many responded. That kind of move of the Spirit is the kind of thing we’re praying to see more of.

Please join us in praying that God would refresh us with a fresh wave of His Spirit!

God, thank You for Your presence here – please increase our experience of Your presence. Open the heavens and send another wave of Your Spirit to refresh, awaken, and revive us. We’re crying out for fresh fire. Meet us in our hunger as You’ve promised.

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What I’m Reading: Nazirite DNA

About seven or eight years ago when I was a student at APU, I came across a little booklet someone had left to share in the student prayer chapel. It was Nazirite DNA by Lou Engle, and I read it over and over and copied my favourite quotes into my journal. That little 37-page book stirred a fire in me to be wholly abandoned to God.

A few months ago, I purchased a copy to add to The Prayer Room‘s library, because this message of consecration is sooooo crucial to the prayer movement and the forerunner ministry. I’ve been reading and loving it all over again.

Nazirite DNA, $5 on Kindle

In Numbers 6:1-21, immediately preceding the Aaronic blessing, the invitation was given for anyone in the community to consecrate themselves to the Lord as a Nazirite.

In the Old Testament, only men from the tribe of Levi could be priests. The whole nation was called to be a kingdom of priests, but only the Levites were given the special privilege of living out lives completely absorbed in the vocation of jealously guarding the purity and administration of the worship of God. However, in the Nazirite vow, God opened the door to anyone, male or female, from any tribe, who longed to be as radical in devotion and near to God as the priests were. The only qualification was to have a heart that intensely desired it…Nazirites spontaneously, joyfully, and willingly apropriated the priestly separation and and condition of life because of an inward working of the Spirit’s grace.
–Nazirite DNA, page 10

Nazirites took three key vows:

  1. Abstain from wine and all grape-derived foods
  2. Abstain from cutting their hair
  3. Abstain from going near a dead body, even that of a family member

Lou Engle interprets these three vows in a modern context as being about 1) choosing to fast from certain permissible pleasures in pursuit of God as the greatest pleasure, 2) be willing to be radically and noticeably set apart from the culture, and 3) avoiding the defilement of anything that would lead to spiritual death.

God always responds to those who earnestly seek Him. Abandoned devotion to Him that chooses JESUS over everything else pulls on the strings of His heart and draws His presence close in a unique way. He moves dramatically in response to the cries of His people, and He’s shown us that a fasted lifestyle is a way to strengthen those cries.

In my own life, I know I so easily get sucked into the vortex of “lesser pleasures”–I love my Netflix and Nutella a little too much most days, and those things tend to dampen my hunger for God by making me believe I have all I need in the pleasures of this world. When I set myself apart from these things and focus all of my energy on seeking God, my hunger for Jesus comes roaring back to the surface.

It’s like I want to eat healthy but fill up on ice cream and potato chips every day. By the end of the day, I don’t really have an appetite for grilled chicken and veggies, even though I know they’re so much more satisfying. I have to actually make radical changes in my diet to enjoy my healthy food to the fullest and reap the benefit of it.

God changes history through people with a Nazirite-like consecration. He is looking for those who would be willing to be wholly set apart for Him–people to whom He can entrust the burdens of His heart and who will be in it for the long haul with Him until His dreams are fulfilled.

God, raise up a generation hungry for You above all else, who will forsake lesser pleasures in order to throw themselves into pursuit of You and partnership with Your dreams.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone desiring more of God, or desiring to desire more of God. If you’re local to The Prayer Room, you can stop by and borrow our copy to read in the prayer room. Otherwise, you can get it for $5 on Kindle (and no, you don’t have to have an actual Kindle to read it – there’s a smartphone app as well as a way to read ebooks online or on your computer) or you can order a physical copy for $5 from The Call. At one point there was an audiobook read by Lou Engle, but I can’t find it anymore (and no, the mp3 on TheCall.com is a sermon, not an audiobook) so if anyone finds it or has it, let me know!

School of Supernatural Ministry Coming Soon!!

Finally!!!

I serve as the admin of The Prayer Room’s Forerunner Equipping Center, which in theory includes all of our schools and training programs. So far, my admin role has been confined to our Immerse internship, because that has been the only program we’ve had the strength to offer. It’s been 5 years since The Prayer Room has been able to offer anything more (last year’s weekly School of the Prophetic notwithstanding).

Over the past few weeks, our director Brad has been bursting with ideas for a new School of Supernatural Ministry (SSM). It’s been a desire of ours for years to be able to offer a program that would give in-depth training on topics such as prophecy, healing, and deliverance. We finally feel the permission and anointing of the Lord to make plans for a January 20 of our SSM. At the same time, we plan to put launching another Immerse on hold until summer or fall while we take a close look at revamping that curriculum into a slightly different direction.

SSM will run January 20 through May 12 and emphasise five components:

  • Theology (biblical teaching)
  • Equipping (instructions on how)
  • Activation (practice what you learn)
  • Ministry (ministering to people)
  • Prayer (living a lifestyle of prayer)

The schedule will be similar to our current Immerse internship schedule, but will involve some unique components:

Saturday

  • 3pm-4pm — Classroom training
  • 4pm-5pm — Application exercise in the classroom
  • 7pm-9:30pm — Encounter service

Tuesday

  • 6pm-7pm — Ministry time (ministering to people outside the school)
  • 7pm-9pm — Prayer room time together (with prayer/study assignments)

Also, students will usher an additional prayer meeting and choose another additional prayer meeting in which they have no responsibility.

We’re all SO EXCITED and I’ve already had some potential students express interest. This is going to be an amazing way to equip our community in ministering with the Holy Spirit, and will hopefully bring many more into our community!

Check out our SSM on our website HERE!

What I’m Praying: Global Bridegroom Fast

I’ve never blogged on fasting before, because I’ve wanted to be careful about the way I’m honoring Matthew 5:16-18. But this is important, and it is something that’s currently happening in our community, so if it can be an encouragement to anyone, here you go.

When I was at IHOPKC, I was introduced to something called the Global Bridegroom Fast. The Global Bridegroom Fast is a monthly three-day fast, the first Monday through Wednesday of every month, that the house of prayer sets aside as a community to pursue Jesus through fasting. I remember there being a real sense of unity and spiritual hunger as we intentionally refocussed on what this is all about.

We call it a “bridegroom” fast because of what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist when they asked why He and his disciples weren’t fasting:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)

Jesus tied fasting to longing for His presence and for His return. In this type of fast, we’re primarily asking God to renew and stir up love for Jesus in our hearts and to refocus our hearts on longing for His return, what Titus 2:13 calls our “blessed hope”.

At The Prayer Room, we also value a lifestyle of fasting, since it was one of the primary aspects of godly life that Jesus identified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18) as well as being a key component of seeking God’s mercy on a people (eg Joel 2:12). For years, we’ve devoted ourselves to weekly fasting, and many of us made Thursday our staff fasting day. Recently, however, we’ve felt God leading us to switch it up and join in with IHOPKC, and in fact hundreds of other houses of prayer and communities around the world, in the monthly Global Bridegroom Fast. So from now on, rather that encouraging our community to participate in a weekly fasting day, we’re encouraging everyone to join in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast!

Personally, I hate fasting. I can preach a good sermon on why it’s important, and I really do believe it, but in my flesh I can make a thousand excuses to deny myself as little as possible. (“Maybe I just won’t eat meat…between the hours of 12pm and 4pm…”) Having the whole community going hard together, and knowing that it’s only once a month, has so far been very helpful to me. And even though my flesh hates it, every single time I fast, God gives me grace to go without food longer than my metabolism could ordinarily bear.

I find that the hunger pains of fasting serve as a constant reminder to refocus on God. Every time I feel a pinch and fantasize about a big sandwich or plate of pasta, it’s an opportunity to say NO to my flesh and YES to God. It doesn’t earn anything from God, but it positions me to encounter Him because I am forcing myself to be serious about reaching for Him. It trains my flesh in the art of self-denial, which is a necessary discipline in every aspect of Christian life. And somehow, in the economy of the Kingdom, God really does respond to fasting. I can’t fully explain how or why, but He does.

For myself, I have a few rules about fasting:

  1. I must set the parameters of the fast at least the day before. If I try to decide when I wake up how I’m going to fast, my flesh will be way louder than my spirit.
  2. I’m not allowed to alter the parameters in the middle of a fast unless I’m actually close to passing out or throwing up and I feel God giving me permission. Even then, a small snack is enough.
  3. The other exception is if fasting would disrupt an important social event, like the time my mom wanted to celebrate a family birthday on my fasting day and saying no would have been hurtful. Also, when I used to choose my weekly fasting day, I would make sure to schedule it on a day I didn’t expect eating to be a social event (ie, weekly small group).
  4. I do try not to make a big deal of it and carry on my life as usual, but especially since we’re in a community where fasting is normal, talking about it isn’t exactly taboo.
  5. Most importantly, I have to actually spend focussed time in prayer that day.

It’s important to remember that fasting is NOT meant to be a vehicle for condemnation and guilt. Fasting is spiritual violence, and it’s hard, and we all fail from time to time. BUT we find that we’re able to stay steadier the more months and years we make this a lifestyle! When we fail, we immediately sign back up and keep going. Just like one sexual mistake isn’t permission to consider your purity ruined and dive headfirst into more sexual sin, eating during a fast doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person and trying to fast is a waste. Just sign back up and keep going!

Also, it’s helpful to know that although a lifestyle of fasting WILL lead you into more encounter with God than never fasting, there is no timeline or measuring stick for what that looks like. Many people don’t experience anything extraordinary during a fast, but they will right after. Often it’s hard to discern any fruit even after months. My advice is not to evaluate the fruit of fasting for at least a year. Some people say five or ten years. Make it a lifestyle, and eventually, in small ways or big ways, God WILL respond in greater measure than He would have otherwise.

Fasting gets our flesh involved in our spiritual longing for God. It positions us to receive more from Him by clearing out some of the cobwebs in our hearts. By becoming more in tune with our longing for God, we catch a glimpse into His longing for us! Jesus has been waiting 2000 years, or really since the Garden, to come be fully, finally united with us. It’s His great consuming desire. If He carries that ache, then I want to carry it too, and fasting helps me do that.

I invite you to join us in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast! If you think this sounds like a good idea, set a reminder on your phone right now. You could instead (or also!) choose a weekly personal fasting day. (IHOPKC staff fasts on Tuesdays in addition to the monthly three-day fast.)

As you embark on the adventure of fasting, know that even though your flesh will hate you for it, Jesus is so delighted! He is smiling on us as we choose to seek Him. And He doesn’t stop smiling when we mess up… He LOVES when we keep stumbling toward Him, though we fall a thousand times. So let’s keep stumbling forward in confidence in His love, believing that He is the prize worth any cost.

LIVE Worship Video from The Prayer Room – “Beautiful”

The past few months, there’s been a trend of worship leaders at The Prayer Room making a Facebook Live video as they play. I was super nervous at first, but I finally did a few myself. (If you’re my Facebook friend, feel free to look them up!) One day we hope to be able to stream all our prayer room hours on our website, but in the meantime, Facebook Live is a really fun way to share a glimpse into the atmosphere of prayer and worship we’re cultivating.

I’d like to share a video with you, but I need to tell you a little bit about it first.

This video has a special place in my heart because the song I’m playing, “Beautiful” by Sam Lane, was introduced to me by Ted Dekker. He used the chorus of it in his book Green, the fourth book released in the Circle Series. In this scene, the spiritual community called The Circle is ceremonially reenacting our “Great Wedding” with Elyon — God.

Six maidens in white faced Thomas and Chelise on their knees and sang the Great Wedding’s song. Their sweet, yearning voices filled the valley as they cried the refrain in melodic unison, faces bright with an eager desperation.

You are beautiful… so Beautiful… Beautiful… Beautiful…

…And in many ways they were all perfectly beautiful as Elyon was beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.

-Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson 2009

Shortly before Green was released in 2009, I attended a Ted Dekker fan event near Nashville at which Ted went all out to bring us into the world of his stories. He gave us an exclusive cd which included the original recording of the song (you can find it on youtube) as well as a message from himself describing his heart for Green and this song. In Ted’s own words:

“I have to say that this song has always exemplified the heart of the Circle Series, of God’s creation calling out to Him, ‘You are beautiful,’ but also God, Elyon, saying to his creation ‘You are beautiful’–the Lover and the Beloved crying to each other, singing to each other, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’ When I first heard this song many years ago, you know, it brought me to tears. It was an incredible touching experience, where I thought, ‘This is what it’s really all about.’ In the end, everything distills down to this moment, this song, a song like this. And I knew I had to write about it…

“Really, at the heart of this whole series is this song, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’… think of the people on the edge of the lake singing this song to Elyon over and over and over again… It’s all about this yearning that we have to be reunited once again–on the lake, on the shores of the lake, in the bowels of the lake, deep in the lake–to go back and be with God, with Elyon (in this story), in the same way we once were. It’s an irresistible calling to us. My hope and prayer is that this song would work its way into your spirit.”

-Ted Dekker, The Gathering 2009 cd

This is what it’s all about. This is actually my third time this week blogging about the beauty of Jesus, and I didn’t even plan it that way. The purpose of all existence is anchored in the beauty of Jesus. He is so deserving of all of our obsession and adoration, and this is our truest and deepest life’s calling–to sing this song to Him and to hear Him singing back to us. To love and to be loved.

In this recording, in between choruses of the song, I also started singing spontaneously some scriptural phrases from Song of Solomon and other passages about His beauty to us and our beauty to Him. Below you can listen to the song on Youtube (it’s unlisted, so you won’t find it if you try searching Youtube itself), and below that you can read the verses that I was singing from. (The song “Beautiful” in the video is only about the first 11 minutes, and the rest of the video segues into “Jesus, You’re Beautiful” by Jon Thurlow.)

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

“Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:14

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.”
Song of Solomon 1:15, also 4:1

“Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.”
Song of Solomon 6:5

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you… You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
Song of Solomon 4:7, 9

 

You are fairer than the sons of men”
Psalm 45:2 NKJV

My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.”
Song of Solomon 5:10 NKJV

“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious,”
Isaiah 4:2

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 29:2, also 69:9 NKJV

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you;”
1 Samuel 2:2

“…so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.”
Exodus 8:10

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;”
Psalm 27:1

“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
Psalm 39:12

What I’m Reading: “I Never Became Straight. Perhaps That Was Never God’s Goal.”

Continuing my “What I’m Reading” series, here’s something that gripped my heart this week. Right on the heels of my blog on the beauty of Jesus posted last week, I read this article by Rachel Gilson that seemes to take my points and make them raw and relevant in a very difficult situation. In this article, entitled “I Never Became Straight. Perhaps That Was Never God’s Goal.”, Rachel shares very openly about her journey into lesbian relationships and her discovery of Jesus.

What I love about Rachel’s story is the way that falling in love with Jesus was what led her to choose to follow what the Bible has to say about sexuality. It only took a straightforward reading of the Bible for her to understand that God says homosexuality is wrong, but it was a much harder wrestle to understand why. Why should love be wrong, no matter who it’s between? How could the God who is love say no to that?

Even without having the answers, Rachel was falling in love with Jesus. And because of simple love for Him, she chose obedience before understanding.

“In the end, it came down to trust. I knew Jesus was worthy of trust, because he had made a greater sacrifice. He had left the bliss, the comfort, the joy of loving and being perfectly loved, to live a sorrowful life on earth. He took the pain and shame of a criminal’s death and suffered the Father’s rejection, all so I could be welcomed. Who could be more deserving of trust?

“The obedience of faith only works when it’s rooted in a person, not a rule. Imposed on its own, a rule invites us to sit in judgment, weighing its reasonableness. But a rule flowing from relationship smoothes the way for faithful obedience…

“We can’t say no to something good unless we’re saying yes to something even better.”

This is what the beauty of Jesus does. Becoming captivated by the beauty of Jesus allows us to trust and obey Him, even when we can’t understand why. Our faith is placed in a person, not a philosophy. We see His heart, His intrinsic goodness, humility, and love, and we cannot help but conclude that He is worthy of any sacrifice.

I believe that relationship with Jesus – real, vibrant, adoring, trusting relationship with Jesus – is the only hope for transformation in the LGBTQ+ community. “Because God said so” means nothing to someone who doesn’t know, love, and trust God. Externally imposed rules without relationship will only bring despair.

But the beauty of Jesus changes everything.

People like Rachel are my heroes – people who have chosen Jesus in the face of so many reasons not to. People who have chosen to take up their cross and follow Him, because of love.

“We can’t say no to something good unless we’re saying yes to something even better.”

Many of us will never be in Rachel’s exact situation, but we will certainly be called to do things that our flesh rebels at. The same questions that Rachel wrestled with will come for us.

Is God good?

Is He trustworthy?

Is He worth it?

If we are anchored in the beauty of Jesus, we will be empowered to say YES.

Why the Beauty of Jesus is My Life Message

A few years ago, someone asked me what my “life message” is. I don’t remember what my answer was at the time, but having taken some time to think about it, I think I know. My life message is the beauty of Jesus.

As I put it on my teaching resources page:

I want people to see the supremacy of the beauty of Jesus in a way that makes their hearts come alive with love for Him and catches them up into the Story of what He’s doing in our generation.

First, here’s what I mean by the beauty of Jesus. The Bible repeatedly refers to this idea, and here are a taste of my favourite references:

“One thing I have desired of the LORD…to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4)

“You are fairer than the sons of men…” (Psalm 45:2)

“My beloved is white [radiant, ESV] and ruddy, chief among ten thousand…” (Song of Songs 5:10)

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty…” (Isaiah 33:17)

The beauty of Jesus is mostly the beauty–the excellence–of His personality. I used to think of Jesus’ beauty as only the visual aspects of light and glory described in passages such as Revelation 4 and 5. While those are certainly a part of Jesus’ beauty, the full truth is so much deeper than that. Jesus is beautiful because of who He is. Every single facet of His character is gloriously beautiful. His love, joy, playfulness, fierceness, humility, honesty, cleverness, justice, dedication, wisdom, faithfulness, and a thousand other traits are what make Him stunning. As mere humans, we can never be all of these things as fully as we wish we could be, and no person in our lives could fulfill all of these needs for us, but Jesus possesses all of these characteristics to their fullest possible extreme, all at once!

I’m going to say that the beauty of Jesus draws us into four things: 1) Worship, 2) Relationship, 3) Discipleship, and 4) Partnership.

1. Worship

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Jesus’ beauty is directly tied to His holiness, which is His complete OTHERness. Part of what this means is that His every characteristic is higher and more pure and perfect than its earthly equivalent.

Jesus is beautiful in every single facet of his character, in His love and mercy as well as His wrath and justice. Think about that. Every justice system on earth is guaranteed to screw up. Human justice will always be imperfect, no matter how hard we try to refine the system, because no man can really see into the heart of another. But Jesus’ justice is completely perfect. Every single time.

That moves me to awe. Everything He is and does is absolute perfection, and not just harsh, to-the-standard perfection, like a starched white cleanroom. No, this is vibrant, colourful perfection, like an overwhelming symphony of music and movement and colour in wild extravagance and perfect harmony. There is a fullness and a richness to His personality that is completely unique and stunning.

How can I not give myself over in awe and worship before such a God?

2. Relationship

My favourite quote about the beauty of Jesus is from the book Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge:

We all know brilliant minds who could do with a touch of humility, humble folk who ought to stand up for themselves, driven types who need to lighten up, jokesters who should grow up, and gracious souls who really ought to get good and mad once in a while…

But imagine if you found it all in on person—superb before a jury, terrific taste in movies, ready at the drop of a hat for a riot of a vacation, and also able to handle your deepest, darkest secrets. Wouldn’t you want that person to be your friend?!…

He is not glistening white marble. He is the playfulness of creation, scandal and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; he is cunning as a snake and gentle as a whisper; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road. Reclining at a meal, laughing with friends, and then going to the cross.

This is what we mean when we say Jesus is beautiful. (Beautiful Outlaw, page 136-137)

Isn’t that a Person you want to know?

This is someone I would never get tired of spending time with. This is someone I would never get bored of discovering more about. He is fun, and fascinating, and brilliant. He’s infinitely gentle and wise and also knows how to kick my butt when I need it.

And He wants to know me. He deeply, achingly desires relationship with me. Knowing who He is, knowing how perfect and amazing His love is, how could I not fall in love in return?

3. Discipleship

“What a beautiful example You are to me, Jesus”
Caleb Andrews, “Beautiful Example” [click for youtube]

The more I see of the beauty of Jesus’ character, the more I want to be like Him. Just being told to do things doesn’t change my heart. Moralism isn’t enough. My heart changes when I become captivated by the beauty of those charactersistics in Him.

Growing up, I always knew that being humble was a good thing, but my attempts to “be more humble” were almost completely without vision until I caught sight of the remarkable humility of Jesus… how He came so low to take the form of a servant and become obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-11), and even when He comes back as a warrior He’s coming to fight for truth, meekness, and righteousness (Psalm 45:4).

There’s a principle in Scripture often stated as “what we behold is what we become,” taken from 1 John 3:2, which says “when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see him as He is.” That’s true of our physical bodies on the day of His return, and it’s also true to a lesser degree of our hearts now. The more clearly we see Jesus, the more we are empowered to become like Him–and in fact, the more we want to become like Him.

4. Partnership

Part of being friends with Jesus is caring about what He cares about and doing what we see Him doing. We want Him to have the dreams of His heart come to pass, and we want to be part of making those things happen, because of love. Falling in love with Jesus drives everything else I do in my life. Intercession, discipleship, evangelism, social justice–they’re all about Him. I want Him to have what He so deeply desires, because I know that He is beautiful and worthy, and because I know the things He wants are beautiful and worthy. His desires are perfectly pure and holy. The more clearly I see His sense of justice and fall in love with that quality in Him, the more I want to see justice done in the earth–because I have connected with the beauty of true justice in the heart of Jesus.

 

There is truly no one like Jesus. He really is “fairer than the sons of men” and “chief among ten thousand.” He is worthy of all of our worship and all of our trust and all of our lives lived completely for His glory– because the extravagant beauty of His character actually deserves such an extravagant response.

Summer Fun and a Testimony!!

July has been a fun month for me. I spent Independence Day at a pool party/BBQ with several families with young kids. On Saturday, July 8, several of us went on our annual TPR Community Trip. We took a day trip down to the Austin area to go tubing on the San Marcos River, swim in a natural water hole called Blue Hole, and get pizza and coffee in the city. The river was GORGEOUS with perfect 90 degree weather!

The next day, July 9, I spent my 27th birthday section leading (managing/overseeing) the prayer room from 5am-11am, then finished the day with church and teacher equipping group. Three Sundays out of the month, all of the teaching staff at The Prayer Room get together at Brad’s house to study and discuss certain topics so that we can get more clarity and grounding for future teachings. So even though my birthday itself wasn’t extravagantly commemorated, I loved spending it with close friends at the prayer room and at church, and felt very much loved and celebrated.

TESTIMONY TIME!!

Last week, Joshua, one of our interns/worship leaders/staff members, shared this incredible testimony (he’s from Yorkshire, so enjoy the British-isms!).

During my worship set tonight God gave me prophecy about a lad who came in. God began to break things off of him… He had once said a prayer, then lived a life contrary to his words… He felt a need to come to a house of prayer…

Afterwards we spoke and… he said he could feel presence of God. I had several words of knowledge about his life and God gave me the number of his birthday.

He repented and renounced several things and right there he gave his life to Jesus! Confessed about having cigarettes, which Holy Spirit had already showed me he had…

Went to his vehicle to get them and threw them in skip outside TPR. Asked him about following his commitment with baptism to which he adamantly wanted to do. Went to Lincoln Square fountain that we have used before for baptisms. He went under, joined with Jesus’ death and raised to new life speaking in new tongues! Praise You and thank You, Jesus!

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. The past few weeks, as I shared before, our topic was for finances for a new A/C for our upstairs preschool room. That process has progressed, and WE GOT THE MONEY WE NEEDED, PRAISE GOD! Now, our topic is:

Praying for the workers we are hiring to fix the upstairs A/C units to be able to make the needed repairs for a reasonable amount and to get them up and running quickly.

We need inexpensive, clever solutions and discounts on units that won’t fall apart. Please pray with us for wisdom and favor as we get these units installed!

God, thank you for Your provision! Please finish what You started, have Your hand on the workers, and give us favor in the repair/installation process!

What I’m Praying: We Need A/C!

Continuing my What I’m Praying series, here’s a very specific prayer request that The Prayer Room has been joining together for this week: we need a new upstairs air conditioner! Several air conditioning units upstairs are in severely lackluster shape, but the one in our Daniel Academy preschool room is our chief concern right now. When school starts again next month, our little kiddos are going to BAKE in the Texas heat if we don’t get that thing replaced ASAP.

We’ve spent the past week and a half so far praying our rapid fire topic at the end of every set for God’s provision for a new air conditioner. It’s kind of amazing to stand in the prayer room that we prayed so long for and God provided so abundantly for and ask again for yet another financial breakthrough. It gives me so much faith that He who has been faithful will continue to be faithful.

One of the perks of being in a small house of prayer and praying for such specific and un-spiritual-sounding things is the great rapid fire choruses that our worship leaders come up with to sing the prayers. Shout out to Luke Cooper for singing something about “make Texas feel less like Texas” our first Sunday morning at 5am when we started the topic. Later on, Lisa Loper sang “You own the cattle on a thousand hills, surely You own some air conditioners.” There have definitely been some lovely “let the wind blow” puns sung and prayed as well. I had to try really hard not to crack up the first time I tried to make a serious chorus about air conditioners. (Pro tip: it’s safer, though less fun, to sing generic stuff about provision.)

This is how we live, though. Every time we need something, we bring it to God as a community by making it a rapid fire topic, so that throughout the week, across every single prayer set, we’re all praying for the same thing at the end of every two hours. It’s a great way to be unified as a community and stay focussed on contending for breakthrough for the need. We have years of history showing that God really responds to rapid fire prayer.

The verse I keep thinking of is Psalm 69:9, which says “For zeal for your house has consumed me,” which John 2:17 applies to Jesus. He’s so, so invested in the details of keeping the fire on the altar in His house. That includes functioning air conditioners!

I invite you to pray with us that God would break in and send someone to write us a check for the air conditioner unit in our Daniel Academy room, and that He would give wisdom and favour regarding the purchasing of that unit.

God, please provide for us to buy a new A/C for our Daniel Academy room. Bring dramatic financial donations again like You’ve done so many times before!

PS – If you’d like to be part of the answer to this prayer, go to theprayerroomdfw.com/donate and add a note to your gift designating it for the A/C.

What I’m Reading: Biblical Womanhood in Wonder Woman

I legit cried at this moment.

(SPOILER FREE. I PROMISE.)

When I began this “What I’m Reading” series, I decided that it wouldn’t only include books, but also blogs, articles, etc that have caught my attention. Wonder Woman has certainly caught my attention recently, and I’ve eagerly been reading many reviews and blogs that explore just what’s so remarkable about this story. I have no shame in claiming the title of feminist, and seeing a woman portrayed as such a kick-butt superhero with courage, integrity, idealism, real ARMOUR (seriously – go read THIS about how Diana’s outfit is inspired by Roman armour and not lingerie and why that’s really important), not a trace of seduction, and decidedly not in the shadow of any man, brought my feminist soul to tears in the theatre. Also, it very much should be noted that Wonder Woman was directed by a WOMAN, Patty Jenkins, who is kind of my new hero.)

Yesterday, I read a blog that took a Christian feminist approach to reviewing Wonder Woman. Marilette Sanchez’s blog, titled “‘Wonder Woman’ Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here’s Why”, hit many of the major points I loved about the film AND tied it in with biblical scholarship on the concept of the warrior woman and the term “ezer kenegdo” from Genesis 2:18 – “I will make a helper fit for him.” Did you know that the word “ezer,” translated “helper” in Genesis 2:18 when describing Eve, is almost always used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe either a military context or God Himself delivering His people? It’s like what we mean when we say “here comes the cavalry” – yes, help, but not help like when a child “helps” a parent make dinner. Not a sidekick or an afterthought. A powerful, desperately needed warrior here to save the day.

Marilette goes on to show how Diana’s strength is directly connected to her heart – her sense of rightness, her idealism, her sensitivity, her love and compassion. She’s in touch with her emotions and it makes her stronger.

And also, she overcomes every “no” thrown at her by society – almost always by men. I was in awe when Diana is standing in the board room, where she isn’t even supposed to be, passionately arguing her case to a table full of men while Steve has his hands on her arms, trying to guide her out of the room. She refuses to be shut up, and having grown up on an island of warrior women, it doesn’t even occur to her that what she has to say would be less important than what these male leaders think. She doesn’t even hesitate. She know her voice is powerful and right is on her side.

That’s what I love about Diana – she’s completely unselfconscious. She knows who she is and she knows her mission, and she doesn’t have 20+ years of history living in a stifling society pressing on her to take a back seat. She’s beautiful, but it never even occurs to her to flirt her way into what she wants. She is driven by compassion to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, in the hope of one day bringing all wars to an end.

I could say so much more (how FUN was that reversal of the male gaze in the cavern pool scene! Way to call out sexist Hollywood tropes, Patty Jenkins…) but for now I’ll just encourage you to read Marilette Sanchez’s blog, and I’ll also throw in this review by film critic Jeffrey Overstreet, who is a friend of my favourite college film professor. I love the points he makes about the way Wonder Woman breaks through so many barriers in its genre, including but not limited to the gender issues.

Wonder Woman truly felt like a breath of fresh air in a culture that rarely sees women as they truly are. I have a miniature Wonder Woman poster hanging in my room now, and I keep it there to remind myself that we all have it in us to be Diana Prince. We were created to be warriors of love, and no power in the ‘verse can stop us.

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