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.

Advertisements

Why the Beauty of Jesus is My Life Message

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

As I put it on my teaching resources page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Worship

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

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

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

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

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

2. Relationship

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that a Person you want to know?

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

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

3. Discipleship

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

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

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

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

4. Partnership

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

 

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

Summer Fun and a Testimony!!

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

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

TESTIMONY TIME!!

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

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

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

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

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

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

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

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

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

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

What I’m Praying: We Need A/C!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’m Reading: Biblical Womanhood in Wonder Woman

I legit cried at this moment.

(SPOILER FREE. I PROMISE.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a Prayer Book From A Dollar Store Photo Album – with GIVEAWAY!

When I first went to IHOPKC in 2012 for the One Thing Internship, one of our leaders, Vanessa, taught us all how to make a prayer book with a cheap 4″ x 6″ photo album and index cards. I’ve been using and tweaking her method for years, and I really love it!

I have mine broken up into a weekly schedule with verses that I can pray for different topics, but feel free to make this project your own in any way you think will help you pray more regularly and with better focus.

Materials:

4″ x 6″ photo album

4″ x 6″ index cards

Both of these can usually be found at Dollar Tree.

Step One: Plan Your Topics

Decide how you want to use your book and plan your topics. Do you want to have a lot of broad topics in your book and rotate through them once a week? Do you want a few specific topics you can pray every day?

When I recently reorganised my prayer book, I made a very messy list of prayer points which I grouped into categories, then crossed out and regrouped, then scheduled by day. I decided to pray for The Prayer Room every day, a small subsection of my family every day, and a handful of my ministry partners every day. I’ll also pray for a different broad topic each day.

Write a schedule grid on an index card, and slip it into the front page of your book.

Note: As an intercessory missionary, I have a lifestyle of being in the prayer room at least four hours a day, six days a week. That gives me a LOT of time to pray through my topics. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! The times I’ve used my prayer book the least was when I packed it so full of different topics that I got overwhelmed. Ask the Holy Spirit what He’s asking you to carry daily, weekly, or maybe just whenever you think of it. This should be a blessing, not a burden!!

Step Two: Write Your Topics

Each topic gets its own index card. Write the topic at the top (along with the day of the week, if you’re doing that), then underneath list some specific prayer points within that topic.

Depending on how broad your topic is, your prayer points may be very broad or narrow. For example, my “Justice” topic is very broad, and my points under that are abortion, sex trafficking, racial reconciliation, etc. But when my topic is more narrow, such as my daily topic of praying for The Prayer Room, the prayer points are much more specific and will probably change pretty often as different needs arise.

Step Three: Write Out Your Verses

This is probably my favourite part of my prayer book. Next to every prayer topic, I have a prayer from Scripture that I want to use when I pray for that topic. These verse cards are very easy to pull out and move around if I want to use that verse for a different topic one day. I even have extra verses in my book that float around between topics.

Praying the Word is sooo valuable. It launches us into partnership with God because we know we’re praying things that He already wants to do! Praying Scripture has absolutely revolutionised my prayer life, and I’m going to boldly say that your prayer book is incomplete without the verses.

Almost all of my verses are from this list HERE of apostolic prayers found in Scripture. A longer list can be found HERE.

Step Four: Assemble Your Book

Now, put the index cards in the book in an order that makes sense to you. Be sure to intersperse your verses with your topics so that you always see them together and can easily pray from Scripture.

Step Five: Add Other Pictures/Postcards

I like to put other pictures and postcards that prompt me to pray in my book. (Whoa, aliteration much?) I have prayer postcards from missionaries, postcards of places I care about, and also pictures of my family and headers from church bullitens. You can also stick in any fun pictures, quotes, or anything at all that inspires you to enjoy prayer. (I maaay have a few inspiriational Dove chocolate wrappers tucked in those photo sleeves!)

There you go! Keep this with your Bible and journal and make it part of your regular secret place time, or keep it wherever you know will help you ACTUALLY PRAY. That’s the point, after all. A model is only helpful to the degree it helps us actually connect with God. I like to pace while I pray, and I love that this book fits easily in my hand, can be folded backwards without damage, and can be stuck under my arm while I’m pacing and praying.

This book can and probably will change freqently, depending on the topics God puts on your heart, the amount of time you want to spend with it, etc. That’s okay! Figure out what works for you, and when it no longer works, try something else.

GIVEAWAY!

I’m going to make this very simple. I bought two photo albums and two packs of index cards at Dollar Tree yesterday. If you want to try this prayer book method, email me at fragrancearise@gmail.com with your mailing address! The first two people will get the materials in the mail to make your own prayer book!

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

We need a new A/C unit for upstairs. Praying the Lord would provide all the finances involved.

Our air conditioners upstairs have never been great; we’ve had them repaired a ridiculous number of times since we got the building. The one in our Daniel Academy preschool room is our top priority right now, so that our younglings don’t cook in the Texas heat when school starts in August. It’s a real health/safety concern for the children, so we’re asking God and people for financial help to get a new A/C.

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

Special Blog from Brad Stroup: The Path to Revival

Brad does not often post blogs, though as the director of The Prayer Room he does have a blog page on our website where you can find some old blog posts. But in the aftermath of Revive Texas, there were a few things on his heart he felt strongly enough about to post and ask urgently to be read and considered by the Church. I’ve felt similarly looking around at what’s happened in DFW the past few months, and I asked Brad’s permission to share his blog post here with you.

The Path to Revival

Brad Stroup

For those who are unaware of all of the details regarding to the recent 50 day initiative of reviveTX, this post is a thought-through assessment of what transpired, what could have been, and what I believe needs to happen now.  To begin with, there were some 350 congregations in the DFW area that committed to be part of reviveTX (representing well over 100,000 believers).  Outreaches then commenced 6 days a week for 50 days from locations all over the Metroplex.  Nearly 6000 teams went out to share the gospel (though the total number of individuals represented probably only included 1,000-2,000 locals).  I would estimate that over $2,000,000 was sown into our region for all the collective efforts and needs of reviveTX to see the work go forth.  I would estimate that the net result was that some figure over 3000 people gave their lives to Jesus for the first time.  The tireless efforts of the Time to Revive team (mostly from out of town) and a few hundred locals that really poured their heart and soul into pulling this off was inspiring.  I’m grateful for every miracle, every salvation, and every blessing that came forth during the wonderful days of reviveTX and I am thankful to call all of these fine people my friends and co-laborers now.

All of that sounds encouraging, but now that reviveTX has come and gone I think it’s time for some real talk and some self assessment, and for us as Church to take a long look at what really happened and what needs to.  Why did only about 1% get invovled and what would have happened if even 25% of the churches that said they were on board would have actually particatipated?  What if just 10% of the Church in DFW would have been engaged in what God was doing, in this gift He was giving our region?

If we learned anything from the 50 days of reviveTX, it’s that DFW isn’t ready to see a revival yet.  While we say that we want revival in our city, I think that these are yet vain words that do not reflect the true state of the Church in our region.  We are all entitled to our opinion, and mine, as an intercessor who’s been praying for revival in DFW for the past 10+ years, is that we were just given the single greatest opportunity for partnership in a genuine move of God that this city has ever seen, in which God was showing us unprecented favor and salvations were happening everywhere the gospel went, and we allowed it to pass us by.  We showed a complete lack of discernment; it seems that we were disinterested in what God wanted to do, we were unresponsive to the invitation, and the window of opportunity came and went and barely anyone noticed.

To me this says a lot about where the Church of DFW is really at spiritually right now; while it may not necessarily be indicative of extreme immaturity, it really did make our priorities clear and I believe reflects a real lack of understanding of how the Kingdom of God operates.  It showed that the Church in our region is made up of individuals that as a whole right now have not died to self yet.  Overall we are unperceptive about what God wants to do in our city through His Church and we are not able to discern even revival when it is right in front of us.  We lack significantly in the area of spiritual hunger and we are totally unwilling to pay any price to see things change because there is a complacent satisfaction with the way that things are.

These statements are tough, but they are not meant as a condemnation on us; rather I want to give an accurate assessment of where things are in the hopes that we might evolve.  I have great pain in my heart about these things; I feel that I am part of the problem and I am willing to take responsibility for my lethargy (severe lack of spiritual hunger) and prayerlessness (severe lack of corporate prayer gatherings) that I believe to be the real root of our problem.  I’m not angry with the Church in our region, just the opposite– I am jealous to see us shine in the fullness of what God has for us.  I am perhaps saddened by our current reality, but even more I am invigorated to find solutions so that things are no longer permitted to remain this way.

I think it is unrealistic to think that a Church that doesn’t hunger would respond to an invitation for more.  I think that the reason that DFW didn’t respond to the incredible invitation of reviveTX is that we really aren’t hungry for God.  Taking some additional ownership here, I think that the default spiritual climate is always going to be lethargy in Western Culture because of our affluence and abundance and that rarely would any Western city have a real driving spiritual hunger unless war had been declared on that lethargy from the place of corporate unified prayer.  We aren’t hungry because we aren’t praying.  It all actually makes a lot of sense to me; I don’t like where we are but I feel that I understand it and that there is a clear prescription for how to change things.

I see a clear lack of hunger, and, while that would not be universally true of every believer in DFW, I believe that it is a reflection of the vast majority; we are simply too comfortable and self focused to care about moving the Kingdom of God forward at the moment.  I think that it all starts back at prayer which holds an irreplaceable part in this equation and which I believe to be the first element that must be firmly in place in order to see things change.  If the Church will not pray, then the Church will not take the following steps in partnership with revival either.

I am proposing that we press in for renewal and awakening as at no time in the past, but to get there we will certainly have to respond differently than we have in the past.  I want to see revival in Dallas Fort Worth and it will not come unless the Church begins to pray in a way that we have never done before.

Here is my charge: I want to charge every person in DFW who has a relationship with Jesus to join or to start your own weekly prayer meeting crying out for revival in DFW.  And once you have started attending that weekly corporate prayer meeting, I want to ask you to not stop until we see revival come to our region no matter what else may come up in your personal life.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you (Ho. 10:12).”

 

Until He Comes,

Brad Stroup

Director of The Prayer Room Missions Base

 

Reposted with permission from theprayerroomdfw.com

3 Truths That Keep Me Coming Back to the Prayer Room

…And None of Them Are Actually About Me.

I’m five years into this prayer room lifestyle now. And to be honest, every day is not sunshine and rainbows and oceans of glory. Motivation is sorely lacking sometimes. So when I’m not feeling it, here are the core truths that keep me coming back. (You’ll notice that none of them are really about me. That’s because the house of prayer is primarily something GOD established for GOD, and any blessing I get is just a bonus.)

1. Jesus is worthy.

No matter how I feel, Jesus is still the name above every other name and the angels are still singing “Holy, holy, holy… Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” (Revelation 4:8, 5:12). I actually believe that the greatest injustice in the earth is that Jesus does not get the worship that He is due from every heart worldwide. I can’t change that singlehandedly overnight, but I can do my best to make sure He gets everything He deserves from my life.

2. Jesus wants to talk to me more than I want to talk to Him.

I am so dull of heart sometimes. Like, a lot of times. My flesh can so easily convince me on that I’m okay without having a real conversation with God that day. That’s probably the biggest lie my flesh tells me: “You’re fine. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.” And so I zone out in the prayer room, or choose to endlessly scroll through Facebook at home. But the truth is that Jesus wants to talk to me way more than I want to talk to Him. Some days the only thing that can get me out of bed to go to the prayer room is the fact that Jesus says “Let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice.” (Song of Solomon 2:14) He really wants to talk with me, and He misses that connection time when I’m not there. I may feel like I’m fine if I miss out for a day, but how dare I deprive Jesus of something He so earnestly desires.

3. This is part of a big, big story.

The house of prayer — corporate, sustained gatherings specifically focussed on worship and intercession, especially 24/7 — has been on God’s heart for a long, long time, to the point that the first thing He did in establishing a nation for himself was to establish the house of prayer (the tabernacle of Moses). David took this idea even further in his tabernacle model, and God promised to reestablish David’s tabernacle in the final generation. (Amos 9:11) The Church will be a praying, singing, lovesick Bride that functions as a house of prayer and partners with God to push back the darkness, bring forth revival, and usher in the return of Jesus. My getting out of bed to go to the prayer room is literally part of God’s strategy to prepare the earth for the second coming. It doesn’t get much more epic than that.

The Miracle Internship That Almost Didn’t Happen


Ever since the conclusion of our spring Immerse internship, we’ve been hard at work laying plans for our summer Immerse internship. At last, it’s time and WE HAVE AN INTERNSHIP! That in and of itself is such a miracle. The past few weeks have been a figurative roller coaster…

Up to about three weeks ago, we were seriously questioning whether Immerse would even happen. At that time, we only had two interns, and were asking the question of what our minimum would have to be. The senior staff settled on five — if we didn’t get five interns, we would cancel Immerse.

Over the next few days we did get two different people signed up! So we had four… and we still had four the day before orientation, which would be Sunday, May 28. We had some generous partners help make two full scholarships available, and we were still actively personally recruiting as hard as we could, but no luck was to be had.

I was praying hard, and I still felt like I was supposed to keep working on preparing. So even while the internship was probably going to be cancelled, I was editing curriculum and finalising the schedule and assignments.

On Saturday afternoon, senior staff put their heads together and eventually decided to go ahead and do the internship even with four. I was at the base that night till 2:30am after Encounter service printing orientation papers and assembling intern binders.

The next morning, I got two texts about new interns who wanted to come to orientation! I quickly assembled binders for them, and at orientation, we had six Immerse interns!

The roller coaster wasn’t over, however. Since then, we’ve lost one, gained one, and gained-and-lost one. We had seven for a hot minute, but our total seems settled at six now.

We’re already in our second week of classes, and I will be teaching session two of Intro to the End Times tomorrow. Most of our classes are taught by a small band of staff on rotation, but the End Times class on Saturday is all mine to teach every week. I’m excited! Our interns are really great, and I’d so excited to get to know them better and watch them grow over the next 12 weeks.

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

For 100 new people to sign up for a weekly prayer meeting here at the base (we call this our Sacred Trust) in order to help us continue to contend for revival in DFW.

This is how we build and grow, by inviting people to commit to come pray with us at the same time each week for a two-hour prayer meeting. The name Sacred Trust reflects how seriously we take this time as priests before God. We’re especially asking for people who can serve in specific roles as worship leaders, prayer leaders, ushers and section leaders. Also, in order to properly grow, we REALLY need some more full- and part-time missionaries!

God, set watchmen on the walls here at The Prayer Room. Build Your house of prayer — bring us a hundred new people to join Sacred Trust!

Revive Texas Is Underway!

We’re now officially on day 11 of Revive Texas since we launched witth an evening rally on Sunday, April 16. Monday through Saturday, people from 340+ churches, plus lots of Time to Revive’s own staff and missionaries, have been going out in teams of four to share the gospel across DFW.

The strategy is simple: LOVE, LISTEN, DISCERN, RESPOND. We approach someone, start a friendly conversation, and ask, “How can I pray for you today?” We pray for them briefly and respectfully, and then ask if we can give them a gift as a reminder of our meeting. We give them a wristband with five colours on it, each with a different verse reference. We then ask if we can share with them what the colours mean, and we pull out a Bible with matching coloured tabs. Verse by verse, we walk them through the foundational truths of the gospel, allowing plenty of time for them to express their reactions. We then ask if anything is holding them back from giving authority of their life completely over to Christ – and many decide to surrender right then and there! Within 24 hours, we get them connected to a disciple-maker who can commit to lead them through a Bible study and walk with them on their journey.

Check out THIS VIDEO on how we walk someone through the Gospel!

I never thought something so simple (and maybe kinda cheesy) chould be so effective. God is teaching me all over again the power of the simple gospel, and how it’s not about my wise and persuasive words, but about His power. (1 Cor 2:4). We’ve been plowing the ground in prayer for years, the church is coming together in humility and unity, and the harvest is RIPE.

So far, I’ve gone out with teams on three outreach sessions. I haven’t seen anyone saved yet, but I’ve gotten to pray with and bless a lot of people, many of them believers in need of a touch from God. I have shared the gospel a couple times, though, and I’m looking forward to the day soon when I see the fruit of salvation in front of my own eyes!

This week, we also have 26 IHOPU students here on a ministry trip. It’s been so much fun to see old friends and make new friends! They have been such a strength to us, both in the prayer room and on outreach. God is giving them amazing testimonies to take back to Kansas City!

One of the testimonies from the IHOPU team! The girl in the middle just got SAVED!

Some of my favourite testimonies so far:

  • A team was in a grocery store with a Bible in their back pocket. A Pakistani Muslim man approached them and asked, “Is that a Bible? Can you explain it to me?” He is now signed up to be discipled!
  • A team shared the gospel with a high school football team of 130 people. 110 of them said YES to Christ!
  • A prision inmate received a newsletter about Revive Texas. He decided to do his own “Revive Texas” inside the prison, and 50 other inmates committed to join him. They share the gospel out of their own Bibles in the prison rec yard every day!
  • A team shared the gospel with customers at a Sonic, and 10 of them got saved!

Credit: Revive Texas

In the first week alone, Revive Texas sent out 755 teams comprised of 2,990 individuals resulting in 310 people who want follow up and 134 souls added to the Kingdom. Additionally, teams that were invited to special assignments such as jails, juvenile detention centers, schools, and businesses saw 415 more people come to know the Lord! We even have a mobile baptismal truck that teams have been using to baptise people immediately after they get saved!

Crazy things are happening. There are SO many stories to share, I can’t possibly fit them all. I encourage you to take some to watch some videos on ReviveTX.org and the ReviveTX Facebook page. There’s nothing in the world like watching someone light up when they believe the Truth for the first time.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries