Prophetic Testimonies from TPR

It’s been a fun month for prophetic testimonies!! I’ve personally had four or five separate occasions the past few weeks of people giving me prophetic words out of the blue when I was least expecting it, and that’s not normal for me. (Yes, they were very encouraging and several of them were about the same thing!)

We’ve reached the point in our School of Supernatural Ministry semester that our students are ministering not only to each other but to staff and visitors as well. Two weeks ago, four students served 15 visitors through prophetic ministry. Some of these visitors had never even been to The Prayer Room before. They were deeply blessed to encounter the heart of God through the words of our students.

A couple came in with their son, who had a developmental disability. One student felt led to ask him, “What’s your favourite fish?” and said he saw Jesus grilling up some fish for him. It turns out, he was on a special diet and could only eat fish! The family was touched to be so known by God.

Another couple came in with a specific question on their hearts regarding a property decision. A student gave them a word about a property that was exactly what they needed to hear and brought so much peace and clarity about the situation!

Two students who were partnered together for the ministry time experienced a great flow of team ministry. Over and over, God gave one girl a picture and the other girl the interpretation. So many people were blessed by God using them both together!

My favourite recent SSM testimony was the student who came up to me outside of class and told me that she had encountered a woman who needed help with her car. She was nervous, but she obeyed the nudge of the Holy Spirit and asked the woman if she could help her, and then if she could pray for her! This is what it’s all about. We want students to encounter God in a way that it breaks the hold of fear and affects the way they live as powerful witnesses of Christ everywhere they go!

Prophetic Equipping Workshop – 65 attended!

On March 31, we did a Prophetic Equipping Workshop in place of our normal Encounter service. We had around 20 visitors on top of our usual crowd, and some of them were completely new to TPR. Andy and Jeremy taught on how to hear the voice of God and share it with others, and then everyone in the room gathered into groups of three or four and practiced prophesying over each other. My favorite stories were the people who came in skeptical, and were blown away that God would actually speak clearly to and through them!

One of our staff members brought her parents. She had been telling them for months about things that God was doing and how she was hearing His voice, but they didn’t really know how to take it seriously. When they came to our training night and started seeing accurate prophetic ministry in action, they were amazed. An SSM student gave the mom a prophetic word about yellow roses, and come to find out, she had actually been planting yellow roses just that morning!

Another young man who was not a believer came with a friend, and he actually heard the voice of God for himself for the first time! I don’t know what his history with God is, but he now knows experientially that God is real and wants a relationship with him.

The teaching from that night is available to stream or download on TPR’s Recent Messages page.

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Easter: The Promise of Future Resurrection

Happy Easter! He is risen!

2000ish years ago, He who was in the form of God took the form of man, the form of a servant, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8) He was despised and rejected, pierced for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5)

I’ve written about the crucifixion before in a few different posts before, so check them out if you like: Encountering the Crucifixion and Incarnation: The Humility of Jesus.

Today I want to talk about the rest of the story, the resurrection, the greatest event in history, upon which the entirety of the gospel hangs. This post will be longer than usual, but this is a subject that deserves a bit of in-depth study. So welcome to Easter Bible Study with Caitlyn!

Future Resurrection in Scripture

Growing up, even though I grew up in the church, I didn’t have much understanding about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus. We make such a big deal out of the cross–wasn’t that the point? Jesus died in our place so that our sins could be forgiven and we could go to heaven, and that’s the gospel, right? And the resurrection was… a bonus confirmation to prove to the world that Jesus was God, a happy ending like icing on a cake. Talking about “the hope of Easter” never quite made sense to me, because no one ever actually explained to me what this hope was, as differentiated from the hope of the cross. (Ironically, the Veggie Tales line “He died for us to give us life, and to give us hope, He rose” came closest, because at least it acknowledged a difference between the cross and the resurrection.)

The more I study the Bible, though, the more I see a far bigger picture than that. Here’s what Paul said about the resurrection:

  • Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12-14)

Paul isn’t arguing that God is capable of bringing dead people back to life. The believers who denied the “resurrection of the dead” didn’t have a problem with that. Jesus had raised many people during His ministry, and even the Old Testament has a few examples. (1 Kings 17:17-22; 2 Kings 4:32-35; 2 Kings 13:20, 21) Individuals without a pulse getting back up and continuing to live their lives was rare but not unheard of.

The issue at stake was a future, mass resurrection. This is the idea that when Jesus returns, believers will be raised and given new resurrected bodies that will live forever. Paul ties Jesus’ resurrection directly to that future resurrection of the dead, and argues that you can’t have one without the other.

It probably won’t look exactly like this.

Somehow, I think we’ve lost sight of this. I don’t know how typical my experience is, but I don’t think I heard a single teaching or sermon on the future resurrection until I moved to Kansas City six years ago, in my early 20s. That was when I started putting the pieces together and finally saw what had been right in front of me the whole time.

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them bodies. (Genesis 2:7) This is huge. The original, ideal state was human beings with sinless spirits living in immortal bodies. Somehow (thanks, Platonic philosophy and Greek dualism) we’ve gotten the idea that our bodies are a prison for our spirits, and in an ideal world we would be free of such physical restraints. I know I used to think like that. However, that’s not the picture in the Bible. God really likes matter. He likes tangible material. His original ideal was for us to have bodies to live in, and in the resurrection, we will again have ideal, glorified, immortal bodies.

The theme of the future resurrection of the dead appears all over Scripture. It first appears in glimpses in the Old Testament:

  • And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
  • For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God. (Job 19:25-26)
  • Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! …the earth will give birth to the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
  • You…will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. (Psalm 71:20)

The resurrection of the dead was central to the apostles’ teaching. Paul made it one of his key points in Athens (Acts 17:32) and later said it was the reason he was on trial before the Jewish council (Acts 23:6). The author of Hebrews even listed it with the “elementary” teachings of the faith. (Hebrews 6:12)

Then also, we have this really fascinating thread running throughout Scripture calling Jesus the “firstborn of the dead” and other similar phrases.

  • …to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
  • …He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead… (Colossians 1:18)
  • …Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead… (Revelation 1:5)
  • that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead… (Acts 22:23)
  • Christ the firstfruits… (1 Corinthians 15:23)

So in Jesus’ resurrection at Easter, He became the first of something BIG that will affect all who believe in Him: a future, mass resurrection that is a central part of the hope of the gospel.

What Will Our Bodies Be Like?

So when will this happen? What will it be like?

I don’t promise it will look like this.

The Bible states super clearly that the resurrection of the dead happens when Jesus appears. That’s when we will receive our resurrected, incorruptible, eternal bodies. These bodies will be in many ways like Jesus’ own resurrected body.

  • When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
  • For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)
  • Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
  • But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body… (Philippians 3:20-21)
  • Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him… (1 John 3:2)

Based on these verses, I think we can get a hint of what our future bodies will be like by looking at Jesus’ resurrected body at Easter! Apparently, He could appear and disappear at will (Luke 24:31, 36-37; John 20:19), and He still had His crucifixion scars, at least from the nails and spear (Luke 24:40, John 20:27). People didn’t necessarily recognise Him right away (John 20:14, John 21:4), but at a second glance, He clearly looked like Himself. He even ate with His disciples. (Luke 24:41-43) I think some of His glory was still veiled during that time before His ascension, because when John saw Jesus at Patmos he saw His face shining like the sun. (Revelation 1:16)

1 Corinthians 15 is a goldmine of information about the future resurrection and our resurrected bodies. It describes our future bodies as imperishable, and says that they will be glorious and powerful, while our natural bodies now are dishonourable and weak by comparison.

  • So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishableIt is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in powerIt is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

In his next letter, Paul says that our current natural body is like a tent, and we are groaning with longing to put on our future, immortal body, which is like a house by comparison. He even says that compared to having that future body, being without it is like being naked.

  • For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…” 1 Cor 5:2

Different Kinds of Glory

1 Corinthians 15 also talks about different kinds of glory for different bodies.

  • And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:7-42)

This passage isn’t making the straightforward binary comparison of verses 42 and 43 (perishable/imperishable, dishonour/glory, weakness/power). This is comparing several different things within a series (humans/animals/birds/fish, sun/moon/stars). I believe this is saying that each believer will have a different kind of glory on our resurrected bodies.

The sun/moon/stars analogy seems especially apt, because Daniel says that the wise will “shine like the brightness of the sky above… like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3) and Jesus says that “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:43) I really think we’re supposed to understand something here about the glory we will have in our resurrected bodies, especially since we know that Jesus’ resurrected body shines like the sun (Revelation 1:16).

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” 1 Cor 15:41-42

The idea of differing glory makes perfect sense when we compare it to everything Jesus said in the gospels about eternal rewards, and also what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:

  • For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straweach one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

All of us who are saved have the foundation of Jesus Christ. Period. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Salvation is 100% dependent on Jesus and 0% on our works. (John 6:63) However, in our lives, we have the opportunity to “build” on the foundation by our works. These works might be valuable like gold, silver, and precious stones, or they might be worthless like wood, hay, and straw. Serving God and others, making choices in my heart to love Him–these are worthy works. Anything I do for the sake of my own flesh is worthless. On that Day, God will judge our works by fire, which doesn’t mean punish us or burn us up, but He will evaluate our lives and test our works to reveal what was worthy of reward. Some will have more reward than others–the apostle Paul will definitely get more reward than someone who loved Jesus but mostly lived for their own comfort. That guy will still be saved, but he will suffer the loss of what could have been his reward.

Over the next two chapters following this passage, Paul continues to paint the same picture:

  • For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison… For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (1 Corinthians 4:18, 5:10; compare Romans 8:18-24)

Thinking about eternal rewards and the tangible reality of my future resurrected body really impacts me on a daily basis. It puts a real sober fear of the Lord into how I make decisions and choose to respond to circumstances. Choosing humility, trust, or forgiveness has eternal implications–real consequences that I will live with forever. I know that Jesus sees my heart and He is so moved, and those things are like “gold, silver, and precious stones” that will endure forever and have a literal impact on the kind of glory on my resurrected body forever.

Resurrection Timeline

So when exactly does all of this happen? I won’t take the time to make a case for every single detail I’m about to allude to, but I will give some broad context and some points for further study if you’re interested. As I said above and as Scripture makes abundantly clear, the resurrection happens when Jesus returns. This event coincides with what is often called the “rapture”. Jesus will return, bringing with Him the souls of the dead who have been in heaven, and restore them to their bodies, which will be resurrected and transformed. Immediately afterwards, the “rapture” will happen, when believers who are alive on earth at that time will be “caught up” and changed.

It probably won’t look exactly like this, either.

Paul most clearly lays out this picture in two passages:

  • For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
  • Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This event is what Revelation calls the “first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-6). It is for believers only and happens when Jesus comes back, at the beginning of His thousand year reign on the earth, which is often known as the Millennium. There is a second resurrection after the Millennium, when all the rest of the dead are raised–all of the unbelievers from throughout history plus anyone without a resurrected body who happened to die during the Millennium. This is what is sometimes called the “Great White Throne” judgment. The unbelievers will be cast in their unglorious, immortal bodies into the lake of fire forever. (Revelation 20:11-15)

In the meanwhile, it’s important to understand that even though right now believers who have died do not yet have their resurrected bodies, they are conscious in heaven in the presence of God. This is the in-between state, between having a natural body in life as we do now and having a resurrected body as we will have forever. In between, if we die before Jesus comes back, our souls will be in heaven with God. Paul says, “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) Even though being without a body in heaven with the Lord isn’t our permanent future state, it’s still WAY better than being in our current body on Earth away from the Lord, and someday when Jesus returns, at the resurrection, we get an even further upgrade–a glorious, indestructible, immortal, resurrected body that shines like the stars! (I also think our future resurrected bodies will have abilities we’ve only dreamed of or can’t even imagine; I’m very much convinced that I will be able to fly like Peter Pan in my resurrected body!)

Hope Today

In studying these passages, the most frequent application we find is the exhortation to HOPE. This is our hope!!

  • having a hope in God…that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. (Acts 24:15)
  • …We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved… (Romans 8:23-24)
  • because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. (Colossians 1:5)
  • But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleepTherefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18)
  • waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
  • …He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

The resurrection of Jesus is the key to our future resurrection–not that we get to exist forever in some disembodied spiritual plane, but we will be physically raised from physical death and given immortal, glorious, resurrected bodies, in the image of Jesus’ own resurrected body, as different from our current bodies as a palace is from a tent or an oak tree is from an acorn. This is the future “salvation” the Bible refers to. Our souls have already been saved by the blood of Jesus, but our bodies themselves will one day be fully saved from every effect of sin and death.

One day soon… when the trumpet sounds and the morning dawns…

I think of it when I see the effects of sin and disease ravage bodies. I even think of it often when I get a toothache or a strained muscle– this body is only temporary. I only have to put up with it for another 60 years or so max.

I think of it when I think of those I love who have died. My aunt, my grandma, my grandpa, and several of my friends who have passed away are not gone from their bodies forever. I remember standing at gravesides watching bodies being lowered into the earth, thinking, “This is not the end. That dirt will quake and split and their bodies will rise.”

This is the hope of Easter. It is so far beyond even the event of Jesus’ own resurrection 2000 years ago. That event is the promise for us of the spectacular inheritance God has reserved for us–imperishable resurrected bodies that will reflect His own glory in tangible form forever.

~~~

Key New Testament verses and passages on our future resurrection:

  • Matthew 22:23-33
  • Mark 12:18-27
  • Luke 14:14, 20:27-40
  • John 5:28-29, 6:39-54, 11:24-26
  • Acts 4:2, 17:32, 22:23, 23:6, 24:15
  • Romans 6:5, 8:11-30
  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 6:14, 15:12-58
  • 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:10
  • Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21
  • Colossians 1:18, 3:4
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • 2 Timothy 2:18
  • Hebrews 6:1-2
  • 1 Peter 1:3-7
  • 1 John 3:2
  • Revelation 1:5; 20:4-6, 11-15

What I’m Praying: Dancing Justice

Continuing my What I’m Praying series, here’s something that’s been on my heart for a few years now, and came to a head again last Friday. It’s something I talk about with increasing frequency on my social media, but rarely if ever on Fragrance Arise, mostly because my thoughts and feelings are still so raw, and it’s difficult to get them into a form that fits the mission of this blog. Also, I think, there’s fear of being perceived as “stirring the pot”, as I’ve been accused of trying to do–i.e. stir up trouble and division that hurts more than it helps.

I’m talking about justice issues. Specifically, right now, racial justice issues.

This past week, Stephon Clark was shot 20 times by police in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento. He was unarmed. He was scared. There is currently an ongoing investigation and several outstanding questions as to how the police handled the encounter. They were looking for someone breaking windows in the neighbourhood, and even assuming Stephon was that guy, he did not deserve to die. And yes, he was black.

I don’t have all the answers, but that should never have gone down the way it did. There was no reason for him to end up dead.

This post is mostly not about Stephon Clark. As grieved as I was over the injustice of his death, a more close-to-home grief arose when I witnessed the reactions of some of my white brothers and sisters in Christ. We were quick to defend the police and slow to mourn the loss of life. We were quick to deny racism had any role, systemic or specific, and we were slow to listen to the stories of the black people who had the courage to jump into those conversations and share their experiences and perspectives. We were all too okay with what had happened. And I’ve witnessed echoes of this same conversation so. many. times.

I can already hear the cries of “not all white people/Christians/police/etc!” so yes, I’ll say it here. NOT ALL.

But too many.

And too many turning a blind eye.

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

My heart aches for us as white believers, who are part of the Body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus on the earth, to slow down, shut up and listen, and recognise that our world is broken, centuries of brokenness have built up to create the world as it is today, and some of our brothers and sisters walk through this world differently than we do.

We need to let go and listen.

Just.

Listen.

I’m still listening. I’m still very much in the early stages of this journey. A few years ago, I realised I had grown up in a bubble, and racism to me was mostly a thing in the history books. When I heard of black people being shot by police, and my black friends crying injustice and tragedy, I silently thought that they were overreacting, because the police are always the good guys who always deserve the benefit of the doubt.

If only.

On Friday, I found myself once again in a conversation where all of these emotions and reactions came to a head, hurtful things were said, there was way more ranting and accusing than listening, and humility and compassion seemed a million miles away.

It broke my heart.

That afternoon I was folding laundry in my room when I broke down crying. I had so much frustration and grief that I didn’t know what to do with it.

Grief for Stephon Clark and the far too many who came before him.

Grief for my friends and family, the church, who seemed to have forgotten how to listen in love.

Grief for the relationships that have been strained, brother against brother and sister against sister, because of these issues.

Grief for America and the world, where I know there will never be true shalom until Jesus comes back.

Grief for myself, my own turmoil, my poor angry heart that had lost sight of peace and joy.

“Jesus, help me,” I cried. “I don’t even know what to do with my heart right now.”

In a moment of clarity and wisdom that I wish I had more often, I knew I needed to worship. I knew I needed to declare again that God does see and hear every injustice, and His heart breaks for it, and He will not be silent forever. I needed to rise above the mess and declare the fierce love and justice of King Jesus. I put on a youtube playlist that I created specifically for processing these kinds of emotions (many of the songs were suggestions from friends trying to work through the same things).

And then I danced. I danced every emotion I was having. I danced frustration, anger, fear…and I danced faith, confidence, and hope. I danced through that playlist until I could hardly breathe. Alone in my bedroom, I declared the bleeding love of God, the fire in His eyes, and His fierce promise to establish swift, perfect justice forever. As I danced, my body became a prophecy and a prayer and a weapon.

Jesus sees. He hears. He will not forget. He will make all the wrong things right. He will restore, and He will repay.

And in the meanwhile… what if we could just listen for a while? What if we could actually listen to the stories of our brothers and sisters of colour who have LIVED this reality for generations? Sometimes those stories come out with anger, true, but what if we could put aside our defensiveness for a while and actually try to hear their hearts? And then just say “Thank you for sharing your story” without listing off our reactions and objections? And what if we did that a hundred times before we opened our mouths to share our opinions?

This is the cry of my heart. This is what I believe christlike love looks like.

And if you’re like me, caught in the storm of emotion, feeling tangled and pulled and watching the world implode into chaos around you… slow down, breathe deep, and remember what is true. Proclaim it. Pray it, sing it, shout it, dance it. He will not forget justice.

But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:14-18

~~~

Enjoy my Justice Worship playlist on Youtube.

What I’m Reading: Growing as a Prophetic Singer

I’m a prophetic singer in the house of prayer, but it kind of happened by accident. I’ve had very little musical training, and when I first went to IHOPU it was not with the intention of being trained as a singer or worship leader. I had a few opportunities to sing on student teams (with other non-music students), and I had several excellent coaches who gave me some great encouragement and pointers, but it wasn’t until I became part of a smaller house of prayer in Texas and found myself leading worship with my meager skills 10+ hours a week that I started to take myself more seriously as a singer and worship leader. I still feel very green as a singer, and I need all the help and encouragement I can get!

Anna Blanc is one of the singers/worship leaders at IHOPKC I most respect and admire for her faithfulness and humility in singing in the prayer room for years and for her earnestness and Bible-centredness in pressing into God through her worship. Plus, she’s dang talented. Her song “Isaiah 42” (“You are the Lord, that is Your name/Your glory You will not give to another to be praised”) is one of my favourite anthems to declare the supremacy of Jesus in the context of His return.

We have Anna’s book, Growing as a Prophetic Singer, in our little library at The Prayer Room. I picked it up this week, thinking I probably would really benefit from learning from Anna.

Boy, was I right.

Anna’s book addresses the varied dimensions of anointing, excellence, and endurance that affect a prophetic singer. All three are vitally important. A person can be highly skilled without having that anointing from God that makes them a truly powerful prophetic singer, and a person can also be super anointed without pursuing excellence and the increase of skill at whatever level they may be. We don’t have to choose one or the other. God gives anointing, often in response to diligent seeking, and He also values excellence as an extravagant offering. And on top of these two components, it also takes endurance to persevere through the emotional roller coaster that is singing on worship teams for years–through promotion, demotion, and just plain mundaneness.

Here are a few of the key themes I was strengthened by in this book:

  • Stewardship over our gifting and calling involves growing in both anointing and excellence. As I said above, we need God to fill us with His Spirit, and we also need to continue growing in musical excellence.
  • God is glorified in our obedience and worship, even when we are weak. For the beginning singer (or the proficient singer on an off day!), God is still so delighted by our sacrifice of praise.
  • Singing to God alone in the secret place is so precious to Him. He LOVES hearing our songs when no one else is around! Those hidden times are often more powerful and transformative than worship experiences before a huge audience.
  • Both promotion and demotion bring unique challenges. When we’re promoted, we can easily become prideful. When we’re demoted, we can easily become offended (which also stems from pride). God strategically takes us through both to purify us.
  • Singing the Word anointed by the Spirit is POWERFUL. God moves so powerfully when we declare His truth in song. There’s really nothing like it.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who desires to touch the heart of God through singing, especially in a team context, and especially especially through prophetic worship in a house of prayer. (Really, a lot of it applies to anyone in ministry in general.)

It’s on our library shelf at The Prayer Room, so feel free to read it here at the base if you’re local, or you can pick it up on Amazon or IHOPKC.

BONUS — Anna has a number of videos on youtube sharing her heart as well as practical tips to grow as a singer, which can be found on this playlist linked here.

SSM Testimonies – Healed Achilles Tendon!

L to R: Makayla, Jade, me, Rhoda, Nikki, Walter, John

We’ve completed the first half of our School of Supernatural Ministry! Our six students (yes, we lost another since my last update) have been really pressing in to hear the voice of God and to minister to each other. We’ve done several activations which involve asking God for His thoughts for each other. I’ve been so proud of their tenderness and boldness!

Earlier this month, John, one of my students who is also a fellow staff member, shared a testimony at Encounter service: “Every time I’ve walked away from the teachings I get convicted; there’s a new holy ache and burden that my voice matters, this is important… And after that, we have a ministry time, and it’s been very fruitful for me and worth it—getting to hear the Lord’s heart over me, strengthening my spirit, giving me confidence. I look forward to every class to get re-amped… it’s empowering me and I feel it throughout the week.”

The first six weeks, our Thursday night sessions were focussed on ministry training. From here on out, we will be doing “real” ministry on Thursday nights! Last week, we started slowly by prophesying over each other. Everyone received several accurate words which built on each other, and everyone was encouraged!

On Saturday, we prayed for a student’s ankle. Her Achilles tendon was in a lot of pain due to a recurring injury that had been going on for almost a year and she had been really struggling in believing that God would heal it. She hadn’t been able to walk that morning. The pain dropped as we prayed, and by the next day, her ankle had no more pain at all! Praise the Lord!

Why I Blog (and NEW Top Blog Posts)

I love running a blog. I love writing, but I also love curating my blog–finding/creating graphics, linking to relevant sources, learning how to embed videos, planning series, hiding geeky quotes with hyperlinked memes (yes, I do this), and creating sidebar boxes and resource pages for you to discover more. I always have more ideas for new things I want to add to my blog to create a more engaging and fulfilling experience for my readers.

Fragrance Arise is something I take very seriously as an extension of my ministry. I want to present you with information and inspiration to love and pursue God more wholeheartedly and to be more engaged with what He’s doing in our generation. I know I am called to be a “vision caster” of who God is and what He is doing, and since writing has always been a gift of mine, I will use this space to the fullest to be faithful to that calling…no matter how flashy the platform or how many readers I have.

For example, in addition to my regular posts, Fragrance Arise has:

  • TPR’s current Rapid Fire prayer topic in a sidebar box to your right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile)
  • An FAQ page with separate FAQs for TPR, IHOPKC (including OTI and IHOPU), and the prayer movement as a whole.
  • A My Story page where you can read my testimony and see the journey that brought me to this point.
  • A Partner With Me page where you can learn how to sow into my ministry financially.
  • A Resources page where you can find NOT ONLY tons of free music, books, and teachings I’ve gleaned from around the interwebs, BUT ALSO several of my teachings that I have done.

I want to also have a space where some of the best blog posts are collected… the ones I’m most proud of, the ones I think will be most stimulating to your pursuit of God, the ones I hope you’ll enjoy and share. (And also the one that went a little bit viral that one time. #houseofprayerhumour)

Introducing… Top Blog Posts. The link will always be in the menu bar at the top of the page. I’ll continue to add to it from time to time… but not every post will be qualified for the hall of fame.

Scroll through and click on a graphic to go to that blog post. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

(Also, if you want to make sure you never miss a post, subscribe with your email address–to the right on desktop or at the bottom on mobile.)

May the Lamb That Was Slain Receive the Reward of His Suffering

The background image is an 1888 etching of the Moravian mission ship Harmony.

On August 27, 1727, a prayer meeting started in Herrnhut, Germany, that lasted for over 100 years and went on the change the world.

Its story begins when Protestant refugees from the Catholic country of Moravia came to Germany and settled on the land of Count Zinzendorf. The community was soon attacked by division and disagreement, and the 27-year-old Zinzendorf cried out to God for reconciliation and revival. God spoke to him Leviticus 6:13: “Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.”

Days later, on August 13, 1727, a wave of repentance and revival swept through the community. The Holy Spirit was dramatically poured out with signs and wonders and supernatural love for each other, for the Scriptures, and most supremely for Jesus. His glory became their urgent desire. The community adopted a radical new model for community life, which included a perpetual corporate prayer assembly in the spirit of Leviticus 6:13. They all committed to hourly “prayer watches” by which they arranged the community to cover the entire 24 hours in a day.

The Moravian emblem, based on Revelation 5:5-6, 14:4

The impact of this 100-year prayer meeting reached far beyond the small settlement of Herrnhut. The radical love for Jesus and fire of the Spirit that was rooted in them during those 24/7 prayer meetings gave birth to one of the most prolific missionary movements of history and became an inspiration and challenge to the modern missions movement that would soon be born.

In 1732, five years after the initial outpouring of the Spirit, two Moravian tradesmen, 36-year-old David Nitschmann and 26-year-old Johann Leonhard Dober, became the first missionaries to leave Herrnhut. They heard of the plight of African slaves on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, and how there was a spiritual hunger but they had no one to share the gospel with them. They determined to go by any means necessary, even when they were told they would have to sell themselves into slavery in order to minister among the slaves. (As it turns out, when they offered themselves as slaves in Copenhagen, they were laughed at because no one would buy white men as slaves, so they travelled to St. Thomas by working their trades.)

According to the story that has stirred missionary zeal the world over for the past near-300 years, as they stood on the ship departing from the wharf, looking for what they believed to be the last time of the faces of their loved ones, they raised their fists and cried, “MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING.”

That cry, that burning desire for Jesus to have the full inheritance of everything He died for, has captivated me for a decade.

~~~

So what is the “reward of His suffering”? What does He deserve for His sacrifice on the cross?

He deserves the nations to the ends of the earth as His inheritance.

“You are my Son…Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:7-8

He deserves the saints as His glorious inheritance.

“that you may know…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” Ephesians 1:18

He deserves to be preeminent (in first place) in everything.

“…He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Colossians 1:18

He deserves exaltation and the homage of every person.

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” Philippians 2:8-11

He deserves power, authority, glory, and worship.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

He deserves ultimate exaltation and glory. He deserves every person everywhere singing highest praises from hearts in love. He deserves to fully rule and reign over every single aspect of life.

The truth is, there is NO LIMIT to how much He deserves. Isaiah 9:7 says that His kingdom will continue to increase forever and ever.

~~~

So what does that mean for us?

In light of the biblical testimony of the great worth of the Lamb, in light of the historical testimony of the saints and martyrs who laid down everything for Him, is there any limit to how much He deserves in our lives?

Is there any passion too extreme?

Is there any offering too extravagant?

Is there any commitment too radical?

Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians at Herrnhut, like King David and thousands of others throughout history, determined that 24/7 prayer and worship was not too much to respond to His glory.

Nitschmann and Dober determined that selling themselves into slavery was not too high a price to pay so that the Lamb would have His reward in the slaves of St. Thomas.

May we be driven by their example. May their cry be the great echoing anthem of the Church across the earth as we strive to lay down everything to see His glory have its full due:

MAY THE LAMB
THAT WAS SLAIN
RECEIVE THE REWARD
OF HIS SUFFERING.

 

The video below (or LINK HERE) was made by a friend of mine, who is now a missionary helping plant prayer and worship around the world. It’s one of my favourite videos on the internet and has refused to leave me alone ever since I first saw it.

 

Kansas City IHOPU Recruiting Trip

Every year, IHOPU in Kansas City, where I was a student for four years, hosts an externship expo and ministry fair for their students who will be required to serve on a senior externship. Various ministries and houses of prayer come to recruit students to come spend a season serving. This was how I first got connected with The Prayer Room in 2014 and 2015.

The past several years as we’ve recruited from IHOPU, we have had 14 externs, 5 of whom stayed on staff. The same three of TPR’s senior staff (Brad, Lisa, and Caslin) go together every year, and due to a scheduling conflict, I was invited to go for Lisa this year.

It was such a special experience for me to travel with Brad and Caslin to represent The Prayer Room at IHOPU. I remember well what it felt like to be a student hearing from so many different ministries and praying about where I should go. The TPR team was amazing at reaching out and getting to know me then, and the opportunity to do the same for the next generation of students was an incredible honour.

We drove 9 hours to KC on February 8, and arrived at the home of our dear friends and TPR-to-IHOPKC transplants Andrew and Lauren Meek. The next day was the expo and ministry fair. Brad was given five minutes to give a short presentation about The Prayer Room at the expo. He shared his testimony of how in 2005 he had been a missionary in Africa getting kidnapped by crime lords and seeing Muslims get saved, and then God abruptly called him back to Texas and soon after gave him the most clear and dramatic word of his life: “Start a daily prayer meeting tomorrow morning at 5am and don’t stop until I come back.” And thus TPR was born as a daily 5am living room prayer meeting that over the years has grown into our own building with live prayer and worship 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We were one of the last presentations, so the students’ attention was starting to drift, but the story had them gripped. We got to talk to dozens of them afterward at the ministry fair, and we tried to set up coffee meetings with them all. The next day we had close to 20 coffee meetings with students every 30 minutes.

We made several great connections and look forward to keeping in touch with these students as they consider their futures. Please pray with us that God would lead some of them to extern and/or serve long-term at The Prayer Room!

Our table at the ministry fair

Clockwise from top left: Caslin, Whitney (TPR’s first extern, now a missionary in Hong Kong), Brad, and me

What I’m Praying: Monthly Financial Breakthrough!

Continuing my What I’m Praying series, I’d like to share with you an urgent need that The Prayer Room is devoting the month of February to contend for. In 2017, our monthly finances took a $2000/month hit compared to 2016. We’ve been limping along for a while, but moving forward we can’t really limp much more without a serious financial breakthrough. We’re asking God to stir the hearts of His people (or the hearts of unbelievers; we’re not picky!) to commit to partner with us financially on a monthly basis. For some people, that might mean bigger numbers, but for others, that might mean even $5 or $10 each month.

It’s an amazing principle in the Kingdom of God that your heart follows your wallet. (“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21) In the weeks before I graduated from IHOPU, I remember sitting around a kitchen floor with some fellow graduating seniors talking about the future and being emotional, and I’ll never forget what my friend Nathan said: “If you want to fall in love with each other for a lifetime, start partnering with each other financially.” It’s so true. I have given special financial gifts to many of my classmates, and I partner monthly with a good friend from IHOPU who is now serving at another house of prayer a few hours away. My heart is so much more connected to them all now because I have a tangible investment in what God is doing through them. I know for a fact that the ones God brings to partner with us will end up more connected to the vision of night and day prayer and more invested in the story of what God is doing.

This blog post serves a dual purpose: first, to invite you to pray with us that God would send monthly financial partners, and second, to invite you to become the answer to your own prayer by going to The Prayer Room’s DONATE page and committing to give monthly at whatever dollar amount you like.

We’re spending the entire month of February focussing on this need as a community. We’re strategising and reaching out in as many ways as we can think of, but most importantly, we’re mobilising the community to pray.

In the book of Haggai, God gave a promise to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest in the days of the rebuilding of the temple after the exile. This is His heart to build and supply for His house of prayer:

“And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”
Haggai 2:7-9

We invite you to draw upon that promise with us in prayer. Below you can watch a five-minute clip of a 5am prayer meeting praying for financial breakthrough just a few days ago. (If the embedded video doesn’t work for any reason, visit it on our Facebook page.)

What I’m Reading: Filming God

Ever since Finger of God came out in 2007, I have loved Darren Wilson and Wanderlust Productions’ series of documentaries exploring the supernatural invading the natural. There are so many stories of crazy healings, words of knowledge, casting out demons… and the stuff that’s harder to explain, like gold dust randomly showing up. Every time I watch them, I’m filled with excitement and faith for what God can do, and how He uses ordinary people stepping out in faith to do it.

Discovering the book Filming God by Darren Wilson was a special delight for me. In it, Darren reflects on filming the first two films, Finger of God and Furious Love, including how he was called into this journey as a skeptic–an average Christian who loved Jesus but thought most of the supernatural experiences some Christians talk about was nonsense. After a dramatic encounter with an angel (yes, an actual angel), Darren tentatively began seeking out the supernatural and trying to capture God at work on film.

The timing of reading this book was perfect for me. As I step into leading the School of Supernatural Ministry at The Prayer Room, I’ve had to confront again all my old feelings of inadequacy and lack of faith regarding things like healing. As I read Darren’s story, this guy having these awesome experiences whom I’ve looked up to since I was 16, he was so transparent with his own struggles and I found I could relate to every word.

I find myself falling into the trap of sometimes wanting to protect God from Himself. I realize that I’m dealing with an invisible entity here, and no matter how much I have seen or experienced, it still stretches me to step out and pray for someone to be healed because deep down, I’m wondering if I’m just praying to my own imagination. I’ve prayed for people so often where nothing happened that when I’m faced with a situation of real need and desperation, I get nervous that once again I’m going to pray and nothing will happen, and this need and desperation in front of me is going to turn into bitterness and defeat. I don’t want to subject this person to that, so I will withdraw my own bold faith and fall back on the safer, “comfort this person” prayer.

I think this reasoning is birthed from my own stupid assertion that I really have anything to do with anything supernatural that is or is not happening. What I have begun to learn in my travels, though, is that in the end, it’s not really about me at all. Let me give you two stories to illustrate my point…

The above quote is from chapter 5, which was possibly the most relatable and encouraging chapter of the whole book for me. The entire chapter is offered as an excerpt on wpfilm.com, and I highly suggest you READ IT RIGHT NOW AT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE. Seriously.

The other part of this book I super appreciated was that Darren is NOT gullible or naive, recounting every bit of supernatural hearsay that comes his way. He is only including stories from sources he personally and thoroughly trusts. Many times, he witnessed the stories personally. Chapter 3 explores his decision to include the things like gold dust in the film, concluding that even though some is more than likely hype and overexcitement, at least some of it had to have been from God. The Author’s Note vouches for the humility and credibility of the people sharing these stories:

These are stories I have either witnessed firsthand or have heard from people I have grown to know and love and who are, in my opinion, credible witnesses. They have nothing to gain from telling me these stories; indeed, some have asked me to not include them in my films… Do people lie about the spiritual things that happen to them? Of course they do. Could some of these people be lying to me? I would be naive if I said no. But no one ever told me a story because they thought I might put it in a book. Many times the camera wasn’t even rolling. There is little motivation to lie… In the end, it is up to you to decide whether or not you believe them or me.

Reading this stirred me up to believe again that God is bigger than the box I’ve put Him in, He really does want to move through me, and it’s mostly not about me at all! It also stirred my hunger to ask God to do crazy things like this, to demonstrate His presence and His love by signs and wonders.

I encourage you to check out the book (Amazon has it on Kindle, or you can get it from Wanderlust directly) and the films. First, though, check out this scene from Finger of God!

 

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