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.

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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!

 

What I’m Reading: Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory

It’s been a few weeks, but I’m super excited to share another installment of What I’m Reading with you. The past couple weeks, I’ve been reading a book called Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory by David Pawson. I kind of found it by accident – I was doing research for a story on Mary of Bethany that I started five years ago and have recently decided to try my hand at again, and I came across an old note I had written to myself that said “look up what David Pawson says about Jesus being crucified on Wednesday.” Most likely, one of my IHOPU teachers had referenced this theory and attributed it to Pawson (who I had already heard of and read books by for other classes), and some 3-5 years later I was finally making good on my intention to research it more. In my googling, I quickly found this book and read several passages from it in the Amazon preview, but I liked it so much I quickly decided to drop the $7.99 to get it in Kindle and start reading it immediately. Not only did it provide several very helpful historical tidbits for my writing, but it was so refreshing to my heart to just read again about the meaning of the gospel.

David Pawson’s style reminds me of a combination of C. S. Lewis and John Piper (even if there are a few aspects of theology on which he would probably differ with both of those esteemed gentlemen). This particular book came about in a very interesting way – it was actually first taught as a ten-part series in a special seminar at IHOPKC (the totality of which was 15 sessions) in May 2011! The videos are still available online at IHOPKC.org, DavidPawson.org, and YouTube. I haven’t watched them yet, but I’d very much like to. (Maybe I’ll save the mp3s for my next road trip.) It was a special treat to realise that this book was developed from the transcript of a series taught to my own school and community in a room I’ve worshipped in hundreds of times. I even found my friend Erica’s name in the introduction being honoured as the lead transcriptionist!

All that aside, I was enormously blessed by reading this book. Pawson addresses seven theological realities of Jesus’ story (birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, judgment), explores them biblically, and captivates his audience with their implications. This book is richly theological but also enticingly conversational.

I’ll share one quote I read today in the chapter on Ascension that wasn’t fully a new thought, but I hadn’t ever heard it phrased quite like this before:

Never forget there is now – there was – a human being in charge of the universe. He had come down, adopted our human nature permanently, and went back to heaven as a man…there is now a man in the godhead. Jesus has taken our human nature into the godhead. God is different—he was not like this before but now in the godhead itself there is one person who is a human being like us and he will remain that human being forever. When he comes back you will see a human being; that is the Son of God, the eternal Son of God.

I love that Jesus is so, so real… I love that everything the Bible says about Him is true and has real, game-changing implications for my life and my relationship with Him. I’m so grateful for men like David Pawson who have spent decades learning and loving the Word of God and the person of Jesus and are gifted in catching others up with them in wide-eyed awe at who He is.

What I’m Reading: Nazirite DNA

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

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

Nazirite DNA, $5 on Kindle

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

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

Nazirites took three key vows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the beauty of Jesus changes everything.

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

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

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

Is God good?

Is He trustworthy?

Is He worth it?

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

What I’m Reading: Biblical Womanhood in Wonder Woman

I legit cried at this moment.

(SPOILER FREE. I PROMISE.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’m Reading: One King

Last week, I started a series called What I’m Praying. This week, I’m starting a series called What I’m Reading to share with you some of the things that have caught my attention in the past few weeks. Also, it will help me actually read more. I was a mad voracious reader growing up, and I’d love to fall back into that rhythm. Plus, I don’t have textbooks anymore, so if I want to continue filling my mind with quality writing, I have to go find it and make time to actually read it.

one-king

Right now, I’m reading One King by Samuel Whitefield. I’m only four chapters in, because I’m trying to really process the material and track with it in my own Bible.

One King addresses questions of God’s promises for the people of Israel, and shows how those promises are directly related to the current and historical controversies over Israel. It explores why Israel has been the centre of such controversy and violence for millenia, and how the Church is to relate to ethnic and national Israel today. Most importantly, it shows how Jesus alone can bring the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny, and He will do this in fullness at His second coming when He rules from Jerusalem as King forever.

As soon as I started seeing this book promoted online, I knew I had to read it. I bought it on my visit to Kansas City last month, but only this past week have I started seriously diving into it. Samuel Whitefield was one of my favourite instructors at IHOPU, and he has a deep understanding, both academically and practically, of issues related to Israel.

one-king-3-promises

Genesis 12: land, descendents, nations.

Right now, I’m almost finished with Part I of the book, which is titled “The Basis of the Gospel–Abraham’s Promise”. Understanding God’s Genesis 12 covenant with Abraham and its three components is foundational to understanding the big picture of the entire Gospel. These three key promises are thus:

“1) Abraham will have descendents who will become a righteous nation, 2) those descendants will permanantly inherit a land, and 3) the nations will receive blessing and salvation through the process.”
Samuel Whitefield, “One King,” p 12, emphasis mine

These three promises are geniusly interwoven in such a way that they can each be fully fulfilled only when ALL are fully fulfilled, and only Jesus can make that happen. Naturally, Satan reeeeally doesn’t want that to happen. And thus, the stage is set for the greatest drama ever known: the saga of world redemption through the story of a chosen people and their Messiah.

I’m super excited to read the rest of this book, and I’ll be sure to share an update on my thoughts after I have done so.

If you’re interested in studying more about Israel, check out One King on Samuel Whitefield’s website. I also highly suggest Parts I & II of the “Covenenant and Controversy” documentary series, which Samuel Whitefield contributed to. Both films are available to stream for free at covenantandcontrovery.com.