IHOPU Graduation: Looking Back on Four Years

(Keep scrolling and then keep scrolling some more, because I’ve got a lot of pictures for you today!)

I’ve finally graduated from college for the second time… but this time feels far more significant than when I got my bachelor’s from APU in 2010. At IHOPU, I have received invaluable teaching and discipleship in an environment saturated with prayer, worship, and the Word. I’ve caught a vision for what God is doing in raising up a global prayer and worship movement in our generation. I’ve gained a family passionately devoted to the fame of Jesus being spread throughout the earth. I’ve been equipped to teach, lead, prophesy, pray, sing, and serve. Most importantly, I’ve encountered a God who is stunningly incredible in every way, who is 100% committed to me and really likes me, and who actually does stuff when I talk to Him.

Last weekend, I walked across a stage with 82 other four-year graduates. My parents flew out from California to see me, and a few local friends came to the ceremony as well.

Graduating from IHOPU feels bittersweet. I did what I set out to do and I know that my season here is done, and I really feel like I got good fellowship and closure in the final days, but I will miss this place and these people greatly.

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

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My parents flew all the way from California to see me!

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Abigail, my roommate and dear friend

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After four years, I finally got to meet and chat with Mike Bickle.

In my small group during my last week, my leaders asked us each to summarise what God was teaching us during that past season. As I think back over the four years I’ve been in IHOPU, I can identify separate banners over each year.

Freshman year: VISION. During my freshman year, I started as an intern in the One Thing Internship. Not only did I grow in prayer and intimacy with Jesus, but the entire rhythm and focus of my life shifted. I blogged about this vision that was growing within me several times (HERE and HERE, for starters), and concluded that season with a conviction that God really is raising up a global movement of 24/7 prayer and worship in our generation, because the darkness is getting darker but the return of Jesus is right around the corner, and He WILL have a bride made ready.

Internship graduation

Internship graduation, freshman year

Sophomore year: GRACE. Now that I had a brand new idea of what my life was supposed to look like, I struggled to live up to it. I really wanted to pursue Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength with undistracted focus, but I was constantly in cycles of condemnation feeling like I was failing. I still don’t know if I’ve found a good balance, but I have a lot more peace now than I did then. I had to keep relearning grace every week.

Small group, sophomore year

Small group, sophomore year

Junior year: HEALING. After experiencing a heartbreak the week before school started, I had to walk through a LOT of healing that year. (Find my blogs reflecting on that season HERE and HERE.) It was a time of shattered emotions and many, many tears, but I encountered the tender heart of the Father who lets me just cry in His lap when I can’t even muster the energy to pray. I learned to love Him more as I fought to trust Him every day. It hurt like hell, but there was such a tender nearness during that time–and there did finally come a progressive breakthrough into freedom and joy. I am wiser, stronger, and more open-hearted because of the events of that year, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

JPR worship team, junior year

JPR worship team, junior year

Senior year: LEADERSHIP. In between my Dallas externship and College Station ministry trip (read about those HERE and HERE), I feel like this year has been about taking ownership of what I’ve learned and stepping up to do something with it. God has grown a lot of confidence in me this year, and I’ve come to realise that even though I have so much more to discover and grow in, I actually have internalised a lot and I have something to offer in ministry. I really can preach and pray and prophesy and lead worship. I really can rally, envision, and organise a team. God called me into this thing, and He’s already given me enough tools to take a few steps and get going.

Dallas externship, senior year

In my final few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the vision God planted in my during my first year. I really do believe it. I believe that God’s deepest desire is a restoration of perfect intimacy with us, and 24/7 prayer and worship that reflects the reality of heaven is a key part of how we’re going to get there. I believe that in this final era of history, God is raising up a new song of night and day worship and intercession for justice from the Church as His lovesick bride in every corner of the earth, and He will use this global worship movement to usher in the return of Jesus and the restoration of creation. It’s a big vision, but I’m fully bought in.

So what’s next? I’ll be home in California for the rest of the year, preparing to launch into full-time ministry at The Prayer Room DFW in January 2017 (read more about that HERE). I plan to be there indefinitely, which doesn’t necessarily mean forever, but no matter what comes next, I know God is writing my story and more importantly, He’s writing me into His story.

Every time I look back and remember how God has led me, I melt in awe and gratitude. He’s been so, so good to me.

Catch me up in Your story
All my life for Your glory
–“All Is For Your Glory” by Lisa Gotshall

I love you, IHOPU!

I love you, IHOPU!

The Parable of the Girl and the King

Nearly four years ago, during my first few months at IHOPKC, God was taking me on a journey of looking at the story of my life through His eyes. I began to see how faithful and gentle He had been in bringing me to Himself, even though I grew up in the church. One Wednesday night in the prayer room, on August 12, 2012, I wrote a little parable of my story. I was reminded again of it tonight, and decided to share it with you.
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Once there was a young girl who lived in the kingdom of a great King. From her infancy she grew up knowing of the King and hearing his power and goodness praised. When she was only three years old she decided to become a citizen of his kingdom, for this was a great privilege available to anyone, young or old, from any way of life, who would choose to live under the rulership of the King. For the King had paid a great price for anyone to receive citizenship freely, and from a young age the girl accepted this gift gladly.

As she grew, though, daily surrounded by reminders of the King’s rule, the girl’s heart began to grow distant. She was still young and glad of her citizenship, but she began to resent the constant symbols of the kingdom. She began to wish she could taste life in the exotic lands outside the kingdom. For all the world she still looked and acted like a citizen, but she knew that her heart did not rejoice in it. She continued on, though, because she knew it was right, and besides, it was the only way she knew.

Still, she always knew that the King was good, and as she watched others celebrating him and their citizenship in his kingdom, she wished for that same joy. She didn’t know how to get it, so she occasionally petitioned the King for such understanding and joy in her most secret moments, but continued to live as though she wished she could escape. The girl was very confused, frustrated, and lonely.

The King heard her petition, and because of his goodness, began to answer it, as though he had only been waiting to be asked. He assigned her to a local community that knew and loved him well, and with them as her guides, she began to know him better too. Bit by bit, the King slowly began to show her what being a citizen meant. The girl discovered that the King heard every petition and always gave an answer. She discovered that the King wanted her not only to be a citizen who would obey his laws and enjoy his blessings, but to be his friend.

So, very slowly, the girl who had always known and respected the King grew to know and love him as a friend. She would occasionally drop by his palace and have talks with him—often with her friends, but also sometimes alone. They were awkward conversations at first, but they gradually grew more natural and trusting. The King decided to show the girl what kind of friend he could be, so he invited her on trips to distant cities. The girl loved these trips, and they would spend entire weeks constantly in each other’s company. The girl learned how the King ruled his kingdom, and he let her help him bring justice and mercy to those who needed him. The girl was delighted to have a friend as good and powerful as this King.

But after every trip, the closeness they had built would eventually fade away. The girl was at first very excited to visit the King every day to talk, but then she came every other day, and then only once a week. She still loved and missed him, but she didn’t know how to maintain a friendship without the excitement of the trips. The King missed the girl as well, and he decided it was time to show her something new.

So over many days, the King began to tell the girl a story. It began as an epic story in three parts, but he was always adding new bits to it, and every other story he told always ended up being part of the same story. The story told of a mighty warrior in a coloured forest who was tenderly pursuing a maiden who didn’t want him. He fiercely wooed her and lavished love on her, even to the point of laying down his life to rescue her, until she finally yielded to him and he claimed her as his bride for all eternity.

The girl was moved to tears by the story, and even more so when the King knelt before her and confessed that the story was about him. He told her that he didn’t only want her as a citizen, or a friend, or even a daughter. He wanted her to be his bride.

The girl couldn’t believe it. This great King, so powerful and kind and beautiful, wanted her to be his bride? She who had pushed him away for so long and still barely knew how to love him?

But it was true, and the girl watched through tears as the kneeling King slipped a gold ring on her finger and tenderly kissed her hand. In that moment, the girl’s love began to blossom in earnest, and she realised that nothing she had ever wanted compared to this King, this man, who held such power in every flash of his eyes and every passion of his heart. He had chosen her and she had chosen him, and she vowed to live the rest of her life letting him love her and learning to love him as he deserved.

Their engagement was very long, because the King could not marry until his rule over the land was made complete. So through the long days of waiting the King continued wooing her heart and she fell more in love with the man she realised she barely knew. He took her on many more adventures, and each one revealed more of who he was and who he had chosen her to be. And with every revelation the girl loved him more.

Caught Up In Mercy

I’ve been caught up in mercy
I’ve been caught up in grace
All my cares have fallen off now
And this joy I can’t explain…
-Zac Dinsmore, IHOPKC, “Caught Up In Mercy”

This song was one of the primary tools God used to encounter and change me during my time in OTI. (The new studio version is available on itunes HERE.) A conversation with a friend brought it all to the surface again the other day, so I decided that now’s a good time to share this part of my story.

I’ve often had difficulty understanding the abundance of God’s grace toward me because since I got saved when I was three, I’ve often felt like I don’t have much of a testimony. There wasn’t much of a dramatic before-and-after; I was three, for heaven’s sake! I had a hard time with verses such as Luke 7:47, which says, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Of course, I know that because of Jesus, I’m not going to hell, and that in itself is huge, but… I still felt like I was missing something, like all of the ex-drug-addicts could somehow love Jesus better than I could.

One night, as Zac was singing this in the prayer room, I was thinking back again through my life and who I used to be. God really has brought me so far. I normally start telling my testimony at age three, then jump to high school when my spiritual rennaissance began, but that night God started reminding me of all the childhood sins I’d like to forget… things that are seemingly small in retrospect, but I remember exactly how I felt during those times and I know that it came from genuine darkness within me. I remember trying to bury the guilt, but I couldn’t undo the damage. I was a hard-hearted selfish little 12-year-old who was bitter at nothing in particular, and I hated that about myself.

The great mercy is that even then, God wouldn’t let go of my heart. I still somehow loved him and kind of wanted him. I knew I was missing something about the whole God thing, and I wanted to be a mature Christian someday, but really didn’t want to be “weird.” And so I kept God at a safe distance. Even though I was a church kid, my heart mostly lived in darkness.

And God broke in and rescued me from that. I would sit in my room and pray for “breakthrough” even though I didn’t know what I meant. I wanted to just wake up with all my darkness gone, because I hated it but didn’t know how to grow without the growing pains. He was faithful, though, and gradually he brought me out of that and into genuine light and love.

Through all this time, I was “saved.” I was a “good church girl.” I wasn’t acting out or doing crazy things, but I was still living in a shadow of what my life was meant to be.

He could have left me there. I was on my way to heaven, the big job was done, God would have been completely within his rights to leave me floundering and move on to the next lost soul, knowing that he would get all of me in eternity eventually anyway.

But he didn’t.

He wasn’t content to just leave me technically saved but still in the dark in so many ways.

He wanted all of my love NOW, immature and broken though it is. He actually WANTED me, the in-the-process me of today. He knew it would be a messy, bumpy road, but he so desperately wanted to be with me that he refused to wait. He fought to bring me to this place I am today. He died to bring me to this place of love and intimacy NOW, not just in the age to come. It wasn’t just about eternity. It was about me being free and knowing him TODAY.

He wasn’t content to leave me. He fought for me because he wanted me.

I cried for twenty minutes when all of that hit me.

What if he didn’t? What would my life have been like if he had left me there at age 12, or if I hadn’t gotten saved at all? Although it’s impossible to predict that alternate timeline with any kind of accuracy, I know the tendencies and impulses I struggle to quash on a daily basis. If left unchecked, they would no doubt destroy me.

I know me too well. And he loves me too well to leave me to that.

In his mercy, he not only rescued me from what was but from what might have been.

He saved me in every way a person could be saved.

That’s the grace I’ve been caught up in.

Click the pic to get it on itunes!

Click the pic to get Zac’s new single on itunes!

Home(s)

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I’m writing this from my living room couch in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I graduated from OTI two weeks ago today, on December 16. That whole last week was… highly emotional, to say the least. I spent a lot of time with my beautiful core group, traipsed all over the mall with interns on a scavenger hunt, and experienced a wonderful last few nights in the prayer room.

Wednesday was always our favourite night, and God blew it up for us on our last Wednesday scheduled in the prayer room. We celebrated and enjoyed God’s presence together. Much laughter and dancing was involved. Our real last night in the prayer room was the following Tuesday, December 11. I ushered for the last time during the 8:00 p.m. set, or for the first part of it, at least. During the second intercession cycle the directors of the internship came up to the mic and prayed for us. All of the interns went into the aisles and people came and laid hands on us. Soon enough every one of us was bawling. I was mostly okay until Jordan Marcotte, one of our favourite worship leaders and a good friend of many of the interns,  played a song that had been written by one of the interns.

This is my family
Father who sits on the throne
Jesus Christ, Son of God
Holy Spirit
This is my family
No one can take my family
Thank you, Lord
Thank you, Lord
Jesus Christ

And of course even though the lyrics are about the Trinity being our family, in that moment I looked around at all of my interns crying, hugging, and praying, and thought, “This is my family.” And then the tears came and didn’t stop for quite some time.

Nearly six months with these people. The most spiritually intense season of our lives, and we spent nearly every waking moment together. We laughed and prayed and learned and questioned together. We prophesied over each other, prayed over each other, provoked each other onward in our faith… I consider every single one of them to be a most beloved friend.

Driving away on Sunday afternoon was the strangest thing. There were so many mercies in those final few days, though, that made saying goodbye easier. God was so good to us. (I’m pretty sure we’re his favourite internship ever. 😉 He loves us, individually and collectively, a whole freaking lot, and he loves to surprise us and play with us. But there are far too many stories of that to share right now.) The last week was structured so that we had plenty of opportunity to savour our relationships and to say goodbye thoroughly. Also, on the last day, a large handful of the interns went out to Olive Garden together after graduation, so we had that chance to hang out and share those strange first few hours as “former interns” together. Then even on the drive home I had my roommate with me until Phoenix, so it was a blessing I didn’t have to say goodbye to everyone all at once. She is wonderful. 🙂

Christmas with the family was delightful, of course, and I’m currently relaxing at home a bit, spending as much time with my family as possible, and preparing to go back to work camp early in January. I’m planning to work there through the rest of the school year, then move back to Kansas City sometime in the summer to start IHOPU.

I find myself in an interesting position these days. During my time in Kansas City, the area became very much home to me. I know the streets, I have my favourite shops, I have a heart for the UMKC campus, I found a home in the Boiler Room church, and I absolutely love the prayer room and the IHOP community. I felt a lurch in my stomach and a breaking off of a piece of my heart to leave it. Still, I know I will be back. I belong there, for one more season of my life at least.

Now I’m at home in Rancho Cucamonga with my family, where I’ve lived since 2001. My family is here, my church(es) are here, I’ve gone to school, performed in plays, and gotten in car accidents here… my world is more here than it is anywhere else. Rancho will always be my hometown no matter where else I go.

Then, next week I will be moving back up to my camp in the mountains. I’ve been a camper there many times since 5th grade, and I’ve been on staff since 2010. I’ve hiked those trails in every season and I know almost every inch of that property. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences there and made so many precious friendships. That’s my mountain. In KC, I was homesick for camp as much as I was for Rancho.

They say home is where the heart is… but my heart is in three completely separate places. At least that’s what it feels like most days.

Last Battle quoteIn my more peaceful moments I remind myself of the home that I really belong to. I am on pilgrimage here. Rancho, KC, Crestline… ultimately it doesn’t really matter at all. None of these places are my home. The city I belong in is called the New Jerusalem, and that is where I will spend eternity with my Jesus. (Rev 21; Heb 12:22; Gal 4:26) I’m a foreigner in all of these places, because I was created for that heavenly city. He is where my heart is; his presence is my only home. One day I really will walk through those gates made of solid pearl (Rev 21:21) and never, ever have to leave.  In that moment, I will feel more at home than I ever have on earth.

Whether I’m in Rancho, KC, or up at camp, that’s where I belong. That’s the city my spirit is yearning for. Jesus is where my heart is. I am hidden in Christ , and his desire is for me to be with him where he is. (Col 3:3; John 17:24) I’m with him now, but I won’t be fully with him until that day when Christ who is my life appears and I appear with him in glory (Col 3:4), and we enter that glorious city together. So there’s a tension, the age old “already but not yet” of the kingdom. But the good news is that it has nothing to do with what corner of this planet I’m in. My anchor is there, not here. In him, I am always home.

[Belated] Testimony Thursday: Cheesecake Factory

For the record, I really did write this on Thursday night, but haven’t been able to actually get online to post it till today. So the “today” referenced below really is Thursday. 😉

 

Tomorrow is the birthday of one of the girls in my core group. Since today is our day off, her roommates planned a full celebratory day for her, starting with lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and ending with a piñata and a party at her apartment. The whole internship was invited to go to lunch and then to hang out at the mall afterwards.

I found myself in a quandary. (I ought to get into quandaries more often…it’s such a fun word to say!) I’ve been praying a lot about evangelism and stepping out in faith more to prophesy and pray for healing, etc. I really wanted to take the opportunity to go evangelising on Thursday afternoon as I normally do, especially since I have so little time left to do it in this kind of environment. (Seriously. A MONTH AND A HALF LEFT.) But I also really wanted to celebrate my friend’s birthday with her and build a memory with a bunch of awesome people. So I finally decided to go to Cheesecake Factory, and I’m very glad I did. She was (mostly) surprised and we had a really fun time.

While we were waiting for our table to be ready, some of us decided to go evangelise in the area. I got super excited and was thanking God that I don’t have to be on a scheduled outreach to bring the Kingdom! We grouped up and spread out, but about ten minutes later the birthday girl showed up and we all went inside. My partner and I didn’t really have any opportunities, but two of the other guys prayed for two people in that ten minutes. (Can I just take a moment to say that my OTI guys are AWESOME. Most of them are like my little brothers. They constantly provoke me to love Jesus more.)

Even though it was a birthday party and not a planned outreach, when a bunch of on-fire young people get together in public eager to be used by God, he can’t resist the opportunity! We decided to prophesy over our server. She was so bubbly and friendly and helpful, we really wanted to bless her. A few of us got words for her, and she was really touched. She started sharing a few things that were going on in her boyfriend’s family that have really been difficult for her. And God met her in the middle of her workday with the truth that he loves her and his eye is on her. It was a very special and fun thing to be used by God in. (And we all left generous tips, don’t worry.) I want to keep praying that God keeps encountering her and wooing her heart!

Today was special for me because it reminded me that I really can be a conduit of the Kingdom anywhere I go. I don’t have to choose between outreach and birthday party—literally anywhere is prime ground for the Kingdom to break out! This is just a tiny taste of what it’s supposed to be like.

God, give me eyes to see what you’re doing, ears to hear what you’re saying, and the faith and boldness to follow up and step out. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Testimony Saturday: Art Museum and the Edge of Hell

Sorry this is a bit late to be a proper Testimony Thursday, but I decided I wanted to wait and put the testimonies from Thursday and Friday up together.

On Thursday I went on outreach for the first time in three weeks. (Two weeks ago we all had to be at a conference, and one week ago we were all on midterm break.) We decided to visit the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art to evangelise. It wasn’t exactly the ideal spot, but we did have a few awesome divine appointments. I wandered around with two other interns. We ended up spending forty minutes talking to an 80-year-old Catholic security guard. We gave him a few prophetic words and he was very encouraged and amazed that we could actually hear God speak to us! In his theology only the saints could do that. We talked to him for about 45 minutes and he was so blessed and encouraged. He is a gem, so faithful to God in his workplace and in his family.

Last night we were at the EGS service at FCF before our outreach to the Edge of Hell haunted house district in Kansas City. I have to start with what happened at FCF because it was freaking incredible. During worship, one of the leaders got a prophetic word that God wanted to break the spirit of oppression off of people. People started speaking out to get free from stuff, because the power of life and death is in the tongue, and spiritual warfare isn’t done quietly in “receiving” mode. I prayed for the girl next to me and prophesied over her (which is something I don’t often do during services, but I was getting all fired up for outreach later and I decided I might as well jump into partnership with Holy Spirit a little early!). Then we all started singing in tongues for a good 30 minutes or so. Praying in the Spirit is powerful, guys. Heaven was coming into that auditorium.

I believe God ambushed that service just for the 60 or so of us who were going to Edge of Hell. He empowered us and prepared us in a very unique way, and the other thousand or so in the room got to reap the side benefits of God having his eye on us. We all got SO stirred up and filled and ready to rock when we had to leave towards the end of worship to jump on our bus. And then we proceeded to loudly pray and sing all the way there.

IHOP has been going for several years to this area to do outreach, and for several weeks this year alone. Last night was a bit more complicated than usual because there was a mix-up with where our bus was supposed to take us, so instead of assembling at the missions base to brief and then going to Edge of Hell inconspicuously, we showed up in the parking lot downtown in our big school bus. The police of course noticed us immediately and told us we had to stay outside the blocked off areas where the actual haunted houses were. This cramped our style a bit, but God wasn’t the least bit shocked or intimidated, so we spread out and started talking to people.

I was with one of the IHOP evangelism staff, Josh MacDonald (www.joshmacdonald.org) and a couple of other interns. We considered breaking the rules and going beyond the barrier anyway, but eventually decided that wasn’t our direction, so we started walking along the street and ran into a free hot chocolate station a local church had set up! We talked to them for maybe ten minutes, prayed for them, and healed a guy’s ankle. His foot had been cut OFF in an accident some time ago and reattached at the hospital, then divinely healed so there was no pain, but the pain had been creeping back in. Josh prayed and commanded that thing to be healed, and ten seconds later, the guy was jumping up and down with a big smile on his face. Hallelujah. That same guy actually prophesied over me before we left. He had the name “Caitlyn” in his head before I even introduced myself, and the words he gave me were totally dead on and really encouraging.

A while later, we went into a vintage shop several of us really felt drawn to. It was an cool little place, very artsy and unique, but also quite covered in intense Halloween freakiness and we definitely sensed some very dark spirits. We wandered around checking out the antiques and praying for a couple people, but still not sure what God had for us. One of the interns suddenly remembered that God had given him a dream of this very shop two years ago. Eventually we met a woman who worked there and it soon became clear that she was why we were there. She was a Christian and she had been hit by a car a number of years ago, and the entire lower half of her body was still out of whack. We prayed a couple times and the pain wasn’t leaving, then Josh got a word of knowledge that one of her legs was shorter than the other. She readily acknowledged this to be true, so we sat her down and commanded the right leg to grow. It did–too far! (This is a fairly common occurrence when legs grow out, by the way. God likes to play.) So we then commanded the left leg to grow to match it. (I have to say that even though I’ve seen legs grow out a good dozen times or so, I can’t always actually clearly see the difference. This time was CLEAR.)

The woman was very encouraged and we prayed for her again. My roommate and I prophesied over her, and the woman started crying and sharing her story. She’s been through so much, but she’s not bitter and she’s a powerful light in dark places. She amazes me. It was past closing time when we left and we were the only ones in the store, but before letting us out she sang us a beautiful song about loving sacrificially like Jesus. Heaven touched earth, I tell you. Here in this dark shop where hell had a stronghold, light was shining brightly.

Our group wasn’t the only one that saw God move. There were a lot of healings and several people really considering giving their life to Jesus. [EDIT: Actually, from what I later heard, at least 7 people actually DID get saved that weekend!!] This is a Facebook status from an intern:

Went to the Edge of Hell Haunted Houses tonight and met a woman who had a headache and stomach pain and both were completely healed. Then she looked up at me and told me she was 100% blind and after I prayed she was seeing light and movement for the first time ever and she said the pressure and pain behind her eyes was completely gone! Come on!!!!! Hallelujah!

Amen. God is good! He uses ordinary people to touch a desperate world with power and love.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

Midpoint Update

Hi, all! Sorry it’s been a couple weeks since I last blogged… I haven’t really known what to write about. I’ve been journaling a lot, but so much feels like things I’m still processing internally and not quite ready to share yet.

We just had our midterm break, and it was relaxing and delightful (as well as productive!) but I’m really happy to be back in the regular schedule again.

Halfway through. More than. I leave Kansas City in less than two months.

I’m not sure that’s really sunk in yet. I’ll be glad to see my family again, but I will miss sooooo much about this place… the people, the prayer room, the learning, the freedom, the like-mindedness, the stretching… I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go home and life just goes on, business as usual. I’ve had plenty of times in my life when I get all fired up and then “real life” sets in, and I just sort of… dull down. I can’t let that happen. I WON’T let it happen. When I came here, I felt like I was giving up so much, and this was my “wilderness” season. Ha. This is the sweet season of abundance.

Misty Edwards sang an oracle last night (what I like to call a “prophetic shpiel”) that went something like, “Don’t look back and waste your life remembering the good old days. Nostalgia will kill you.” I pocketed that one, because I guarantee I’ll need it in about two months. I don’t want to spend my time in Cali moping and/or trying to recreate IHOP. Ain’t gonna happen. Good news is… Holy Spirit doesn’t just live in Kansas City. This place is on his heart in a very special way, but guess what… so is California. I don’t need to worry about losing everything I’ve learned and experienced here, because it is a part of me. The DNA of my soul has been rewritten.

I have been sensitised to recognise when I’m starting to get dull, and I have a bucketfull of simple, practical tools to combat it, and a track record that says I know how to use them and I know they actually work. I don’t have to be in the prayer room to intercede, fast, pray in the spirit, meditate, or sing the Word. All I have to do is carve out a little bit of time and space and lift my eyes.

The things that are so easy to believe at IHOP are equally true elsewhere. The things God is doing in this generation are global. He’s raising up a praying church to sing back the King… and Kansas City isn’t living in some alternate reality bubble where that’s only true here. If it’s true here, it really is true EVERYWHERE.

However… I’m also increasingly getting the feeling that my season here isn’t over yet. (I’ll tell that story in a later blog, because it’s still just in the beginning stages right now. [EDIT: HERE it is!]) I’m starting to make plans for coming back, but a lot of things will have to line up in order to make that happen. I’d appreciate your prayers for direction and provision as I begin to step into the next season of my life.

God is so, so faithful. Every day I find myself recounting to myself the stories of how he’s met me and provided for me in the past. He sees me, he knows me, and money has never been an issue for him. If he wants me back at IHOP, he WILL provide. And I get to partner with him in that by giving in faith that his promises are true. That’s just how the Kingdom works.

Testimony Thursday: Faithful in Little

EDITOR’S NOTE: First of all, I would like to say that I somehow neglected to include the most important verse of all in my previous post. So if you read it before today, my apologies. Matthew 24:14 has now been inserted. 🙂

TODAY’S ACTUAL POST: I went on outreach again today to Oak Park Mall! It was awesomesauce. I admit, last week I was a bit disappointed because I felt like I was on the sidelines a bit, but I shook it off and today was much better. My partner and I talked to at least ten people and prayed with over half of them. I really feel like God set up some divine appointments for us.

We prayed for a couple of women who were working a lotion store. They were both the sweetest, most joyful people ever, both Christians, and we loved getting to encourage them, because they encouraged us so much too!

We prayed for a teen girl in Macy’s who had a swollen pinkie toe. She wasn’t healed, but she was definitely touched, and as we were walking away we encountered a woman who had been interested in our conversation. We asked to pray for her, and she said her life was a mess and she had actually been praying right before she came around the corner and saw us. We encouraged her a bit, and although she didn’t want us to pray right there with her, we prayed together for her after she walked away.

Those were my favourite encounters today. Our other groups came back with stories of a leg growing out, a Methodist couple getting healed and then radically baptised in the Holy Spirit, a couple of atheists agreeing to come to church tomorrow, and a guy coming to the brink of giving his life to Christ.

I realise, I’m not at the place some of the others are. I’m not super prophetic or dramatically anointed for healing. But I do have the Holy Spirit inside me–I know the truth, I hear his voice, and my voice carries power. And he is stretching my faith and teaching me to partner with him more.

As we were briefing and praying before going in the mall, our leader said, “Jesus isn’t here [in the flesh] today–you are.” That started me thinking… what would it be like to go evangelise with Jesus, if he was the partner I was strolling through the mall with? I imagined holding his hand and walking through the stores as he waited to see what the Father wanted to do, then watching as he healed the sick, spoke truth, and brought hope to many.

Then after I watched him with several people, he would say, “The next one’s yours. Go talk to that woman right there.”

“I don’t know about that, Jesus–I mean, I’m not you,” I would probably say (or at least think, which would basically be the exact same thing.)

“What are you talking about?” he would say. “You can do this. I’m right here. I’ve got your back.”

And I would go and do it. Jesus would be right there, giving me the words, silently encouraging me, healing when I asked him to. Not everyone would be receptive, but Jesus and I would be faithful together, to at least offer what’s available.

How painful is it for him when he asks me to go and I don’t because I don’t really trust him?

I know he enjoys me even in my immaturity and is so proud when I step out as far as I can, but sometimes I know I let him down. I’m not always a faithful steward of what I’ve been given. But as I push my faith to the limits now, he’ll give me more faith and more insight, and one day I really will consistently see the lame walk under the touch of my hand. I would love to suddenly be blasted with a massive gift of healing and prophecy, and I am constantly praying for more faith and more anointing, but in the meantime I want to be faithful with what I have. My light might not yet be a full bonfire, but I refuse to hide it.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'”
Matthew 25:21

Bringing Jesus Home

The past few days have been wonderful, overwhelming, emotional… but it’s okay because I like crying. 🙂 God’s doing good things inside me, although I’m not entirely sure what yet.

On Friday night I attended a night of the Call2All congress hosted at FCF. It’s a gathering of church leaders from around the world to put together world evangelism strategies. (Check out Call2All on Facebook with pictures of the event.) At the service I was at, they talked about what was going on with world evangelism and told us about a meeting that happened at Amsterdam 2000 with a few hundred leaders of the world’s most influential ministries such as YWAM and Campus Crusade. They were presented with a list of a couple hundred of the world’s remaining unreached people groups and by the end of the day, they had divided up the list among them and committed together to reach them all. Ideas were flying, partnerships were formed and strategies were devised. The Body of Christ has been mobilised and no corner of the planet is safe. (I encourage you to take six minutes and watch the story of that meeting HERE.)

Also, China is mobilising thousands of missionaries in a divinely inspired “back to Jerusalem” movement aimed at spreading the gospel throughout all the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim nations geographically located between China and Israel. I saw many prominent evangelism leaders on stage at FCF on Friday night (along with the governor of Kansas) joining hands with underground church leaders in China (although most of them couldn’t be on stage because being recorded on camera would endanger their lives) and committing together to do this thing. I watched spiritual history being made.

Let me slow down and explain what this means. This is not another “That’s cool, one more step forward.” This means that the finish line is in sight and the Great Commission is more than likely going to be FINISHED in our lifetime. These leaders are expecting it to be complete in their lifetimes, and they’re all 60-70 years old!

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne… crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” Revelation 7:9

One of the main things Jesus is waiting for before he returns is this completing of the Great Commission. And let me repeat—THE FINISH LINE IS IN SIGHT. We are no longer in the “drop in the bucket” stage. We are witnessing the beginnings of the final sweep of the gospel in the nations before Jesus returns. Very, very soon, we’ll be living in Revelation.

Jesus could very possibly, dare I say easily, be back on Earth before I have grandkids. That is not a joke or wishful thinking. That is the evidence of the signs of the times.

This is not the era of “someday he’ll return, won’t that be nice” like it’s a sweet fluffy little “happily ever after” in the vague future. No, one day SOON he’s going to SPLIT THE SKY and come with a roar and the sound of a trumpet. (Is 64:1, 1 Thes 4:16) All of creation groans for that day. This planet is on the edge of its seat, waiting for the revealing of the sons of God on the day when the Firstborn comes home. (Rom 8:19, 23)

This is what I’ve been freaking out about. I cannot possibly live a “normal life” in light of this. The only thing that matters anymore is preparing his bride, bringing him home, and seeing him face to face. What will he say to me on that day? Will he honour me by standing like he did for Stephen? (Acts 7:56) Will he give me the crown of righteousness for those who have loved his appearing? (2 Tim 4:8) Will he say “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matt 5:21) A thousand years for now, most of what I’m now filling my life with will not matter. What will stand when my life is tested by fire? (1 Cor 3:12-15)

Peter said we can “hasten the day.” (2 Peter 3:12) There are two specific ways I know of to do this: through prayer/ worship and fulfilling the great commission. He is raising up a 24/7 prayer movement of a lovesick bride crying “Come!” (Rev 22:17) and he is raising up a missions movement to carry his glory to the ends of the earth. (Hab 2:14) And now, he is joining them together.

“They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.” Isaiah 24:14-16a

What will that look like for me? Do I join IHOPKC? Do I join YWAM? Do I live as an ordinary radical SAHHM (Stay At Home Homeschool Mom)? I don’t know. And for the time being, I am okay with that. There are a few things I know about my destiny. God’s been revealing these to me one by one, uniquely tailored to me. I was made to:

-Pour out my worship like Mary of Bethany. (First Commandment)

-Cast vision for who God is and what he’s doing. (Second Commandment and Great Commission)

-Live with the clear endgame of Jesus’ return to marry his Bride and establish his Kingdom.

That is what my life is about. I want to bring Jesus home. And that day is suddenly looking very, very close.

People, get ready.

Testimony Thursday: Rose Garden Encounters

Good news! I finally got to go on outreach again today. As soon as we got in the shuttle to head out, the leader said he felt God wanted us to break out of our routine a little bit. We prayed about where to go and two people felt God was saying “park,” so we went to this huge gorgeous park in Kansas City that I’d never been to before. Not many people were there since it was a Thursday afternoon, but we walked around for about an hour and a half and had some excellent conversations with people.

As we were entering a nice little rose garden area of the park, my group first met a woman who was tending a flower bed. She was a Christian, and we just got to encourage her in her walk with God and pray for her niece, who was going through a difficult situation with her parents. The woman was really blessed. Next, towards the back of the garden, we met another woman who had a back injury from work. We prayed for healing, and she was so touched that even though she wasn’t healed, she started crying as she opened up about all the struggles this injury had caused. We got to pray and speak prophetic words of love and hope into her life. God definitely touched her in a powerful way. We also talked to three other people and prayed with two of them, and definitely planted some good seeds in the third guy.

I heard snippets of stories from the other groups that showed God was definitely doing powerful things among all of us. One of our groups talked to an agnostic couple, and got to share the full gospel with them before getting shut down. Another group saw two legs grow out. According to our tally sheet, someone even got saved, but I didn’t hear the story on how that happened.

Last Friday at the FCF church service some of us were praying for one of the interns who was sick. She had had a fever all afternoon and evening and felt horrible, but was determined to stay for the service. We prayed, and within a minute or two it completely cleared up and she was fully healthy from then on out. I loved that, even though I think I was struggling with expecting God to actually heal her. As soon as she said she felt completely better, the first words out of my mouth were, “Are you serious?” But it really happened, and we were all so excited and turned it right around into praise.

God’s been talking to me a lot about building my faith. I’ve come to the realisation that faith is a gift, it’s not something I can work up for myself. I can’t do anything at all without God, not even have faith! My faith is small and weak, but all I have to do is keep stepping out and risking, and one of these days God’s going to break through and use me and my little weak prayers in a big way. It’s his job to use me and keep giving me those fresh baptisms; it’s just my job to keep making myself available whether or not I feel it. It’s a partnership, but as has always been the case with God and his people, his faithfulness more than covers my weakness. And he loves to partner with me whenever I step out! It’s not about me; it’s all about his Kingdom anyway. All he asks is willingness and that little mustard seed.

“So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” Acts 14:3

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