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.

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LIVE Worship Video from The Prayer Room – “Beautiful”

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

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

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

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

You are beautiful… so Beautiful… Beautiful… Beautiful…

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

-Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson 2009

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

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

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

-Ted Dekker, The Gathering 2009 cd

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the beauty of Jesus changes everything.

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

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

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

Is God good?

Is He trustworthy?

Is He worth it?

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

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!

What I’m Praying: Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates

Continuing my semi-regular/whenever-I-get-around-to-it series on What I’m Praying: the past few weeks, I’ve been singing through Psalm 24:7-10. A couple of months ago I was praying this chapter from a different angle, focussing mostly on verse 1, “The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,” and the reign of the King of glory in supersession of the kings of the earth, in conjunction with Psalm 2:6’s proclamation “I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” While I was singing that, a part of me kept getting distracted by this theme of opening the gates in Psalm 24:7-10.

Lift up your heads, O gates!

    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

    The Lord, strong and mighty,

    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!

    And lift them up, O ancient doors,

    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

    The Lord of hosts,

    he is the King of glory!
(Psalm 24:7-10)

One of my favourite things about studying the Bible is getting a little bit familiar with the whole story so when I read a passage, my brain can automatically fill in imagery from other passages and I get a bigger picture of what’s happening. So when I read this passage, I immediately think of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem when He returns to earth and comes to claim His throne.

I’m not going to cite all the references for this, but here’s the scenario in my head: Jesus has come in the clouds at the 7th trumpet and “raptured” the saints, then marched through the land setting captives free (mostly unsaved Jews who were being persecuted by the antichrist) and releasing the final bowl judgments of Revelation 15-16. (Isaiah 63:1-6, Revelation 19:11-16, Habakkuk 3:3-16) He comes to the eastern gate of Jerusalem with an army of resurrected saints behind Him, at which point the remaining Jewish leaders in Jerusalem actually recognise who He is and welcome Him in as King. That’s the moment that Psalm 24 finds us in.

So as I’ve been singing this in my sets, I’ve been meditating on the glory of Jesus as the conquering King, and also on the prophecy that Israel WILL welcome Him as King.

Jesus Himself prophesied that He would not return to Jerusalem until its leaders recognised and welcomed Him. Every time I read it, I can feel the yearning in Jesus’ heart for His people to know Him:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
(Matthew 23:37-39)

This same longing in Jesus’ heart is so clear also in Zechariah:

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 2:10-12)

That phrase “and you shall know” gets me every time. “At last, you’ll believe. At last, you’ll accept Me.”

Later, Zechariah prophesies of the repentance that will grip Israel when they see Jesus on that Day:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
(Zechariah 12:10)

That Day when Israel–and specifically Jerusalem, the Holy City, the City of the Great King– finally, FINALLY accepts Him as their own Messiah is so near and dear to Jesus’ heart. Every time I sing these verses I feel my heart get so tender and I end up just prophesying over Jerusalem and praying for them to recieve their Messiah.

Jerusalem, open up your gates, and welcome your King! Who is this King of glory? Who is this warrior coming up with bloodstained garments? He is YHWH, your Messiah, the Son of David. Welcome Him as a firstborn son. Weep over the wounds in His hands and feet. He’s here to establish His kingdom and fulfill every promise. Invite Him in.

Jesus, thank You for Your faithfulness to all of Your promises. Come quickly and establish Your kingdom from Jerusalem. Save Your people Israel. Let them know You. Even now, would You bring many Jewish people to repentance. Remove the veil from their hearts and let them see You as You are– their King, their Messiah, their God. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and do everything You want to do.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they [Israel] may be saved.
(Romans 10:1)

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 Revive Texas to get $290,000 to pay for all the volunteers’ meals during the 50 days of outreach.

Every day for 50 days, tens of thousands of believers across DFW are going to gather at ten host churches to get equipped and fellowship together, and from there they will go out to the streets to share the gospel. Revive Texas plans to feed everyone at these host locations every day, but they need financial breakthrough to make that happen. We’ve been praying that God would in a moment put it on someone’s heart to write a check for $290,000!

God, provide for Revive Texas. You’ve been so faithful to meet every need thus far– do it again! Break in and give us this $290,000 for the meals.

What I’m Praying: Psalm 37

I’d like to kick off a regular series on my blog called What I’m Praying. I spend 30 hours a week in the prayer room, and most of the daily testimonies I’m experiencing are prayer-related. I want to bring you into the journey of what God is speaking to me and putting on my heart to speak back to Him, as well as the intercessory burdens that we’re carrying corporately as a ministry.

This week, I’ve often been singing through Psalm 37:4-6 when I lead my devotional worship sets.

.     Delight yourself in the Lord,
.          and he will give you the desires of your heart.
.     Commit your way to the Lord;
.          trust in him, and he will act.
.     He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
.          and your justice as the noonday.

The context of this passage is basically the frustration of the righteous living in a generation of the wicked, and the psalmist’s encouragement to trust in God because He will one day turn the tables and set everything right. There’s a lot to be said eschatologically about promises like “The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever” (v 29) when the wicked are permanently cut off (both ideas are repeated several times in this one passage), but for the purpose of my devos I’ve been singing these verses with a much more personal application.

God, I choose to delight myself in You. I choose to make You my joy. You are my greatest treasure and highest pleasure. I intentionally turn my gaze and choose to rejoice in You and simply enjoy You.

I believe You will fulfill the desires of my heart that You’ve placed in me. If You’ve put them there, You care about them even more than I do. You are always faithful to Your promises, no matter how long it takes.

I commit my way to You; I acknowledge You in all my ways. (Prov 3:6) I surrender the right to control my own life. I want You to direct my steps. I trust that You will act. Your plans and Your timing are always work out better than me trying to make things happen on my own, anyway.

As I wait, as I stay in the tension of trusting You even when I can’t see what You’re doing, You’re making my righteousness shine. You’re making me look like You. Even as Jerusalem’s righteousness will one day shine with Your glory, (Is 62:1) You are literally preparing me for an eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17) in a resurrected body that will shine like the stars to one degree or another depending on how I live in this age. (Dan 12:3, Matt 13:43, 1 Cor 15:35-49) Every little moment by moment choice I make to trust You and delight myself in You will be rewarded, and I will shine.

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 the Lord to move on people’s hearts to join Sacred Trust and that it would grow back to 100 before Revive Texas.

Our Sacred Trust is the commitment that people make to join at least one two-hour prayer meeting a week. We’re asking God that more people would make such a commitment, so that when we’re doing 24/7 prayer and worship for the 50 days of Revive Texas, we would have enough people to sustain that schedule. We currently have just over 75 people on the Sacred Trust, so we’re praying for at least around 25 more over the next few months!

God, bring people who would commit to pray with us weekly! Put the vision for 24/7 prayer on many hearts and strengthen Your house of prayer.

The Earth is the Lord’s, and the King of Glory is Set on Zion.

Worship leading today. Photo: Brad Stroup

I’m here in Texas! I arrived Wednesday night and have spent the past couple days getting settled in. Today, I was asked to come help fill in for a few hours at The Prayer Room, and so I ushered the 3-5pm and led worship for the 5-7pm.

While I was ushering, God put a verse fragment on my heart: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” I looked it up and found it in Psalm 24. I was familiar with the last stanza of this Psalm but forgot how it started.screenshot_20170120-235916

.   The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
.        the world and those who dwell therein…
.   Lift up your heads, O gates!
.        And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
.        that the King of glory may come in.
.   Who is this King of glory?
.        The Lord, strong and mighty,
.        the Lord, mighty in battle!
.             Psalm 24:1, 7-8

This was exactly what my heart needed to hear today, on inauguration day of all days. I had spent some time in the morning sharing some thoughts on Facebook regarding President Trump, but on the whole I think praying through this passage today was far more productive.

Whenever I worship lead, I always take around 15 minutes in the middle of my set to sing through a passage and spontaneously sing some devotional thoughts on it. This is a normal part of the harp and bowl model that I learned at IHOPKC and which we use at The Prayer Room. Today, I felt God leading me to sing these verses from Psalm 24.

I had a few cross-references in mind as backdrop, especially Colossians 1:15-18:

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together… He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Colossians 1:15-18

God owns everything. He created everything. He is sovereign over everything. Everything exists FOR Him, for His glory. He will be preeminent – in first place, front and centre, completely.

In one sense, this is already true; right now, heaven is His throne and earth is His footstool, and He is absolutely sovereign. But there is coming a Day when His throne will come to Earth–to the city of Jerusalem, to be precise–and He will be fully, actively engaged in personally ruling the nations in perfect righteousness and justice.

The gates and “ancient doors” of Jerusalem will open and the King of Glory will ride in on a white horse and begin to reign like never before.

I couldn’t help also singing a bit of Psalm 2. I only sang a couple of phrases from it, but this was the whole context I had in mind:

.   Why do the nations rage
.        and the peoples plot in vain?
.   The kings of the earth set themselves,
.        and the rulers take counsel together,
.        against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
.   “Let us burst their bonds apart
.        and cast away their cords from us.”
.   He who sits in the heavens laughs;
.        the Lord holds them in derision.
.   Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
.        and terrify them in his fury, saying,
.   “As for me, I have set my King
.        on Zion, my holy hill.”
.   I will tell of the decree:
.   The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
.        today I have begotten you.
.   Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
.        and the ends of the earth your possession.
.   You shall break them with a rod of iron
.        and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
.             Psalm 2:1-9

As I sang, “You have set the King on Zion, You have set the King on Zion, He will reign” over and over, I could feel the prophetic declaration going out into the atmosphere. No matter how unrighteous the ruler–no matter how the nations rage–God’s answer is to set Jesus as the King of Glory in Jerusalem. The nations belong to Him. He won’t tolerate injustice forever. Even as we fight to advance to Kingdom inch by inch now, it will one day be absolutely complete and Jesus will rule in perfect righteousness on earth forever. I believe that Day is right around the corner.

I don’t think this means God says, “Oh well, I’ll fix it all eventually, guess it can all just fall to pieces in the meantime.” Oh no! If a man is engaged to be married, he’s not going to just ignore his bride until the wedding day. What’s in his heart for that day very much affects how he treats her on this day. When I get frustrated with the state of our world and feel tempted to say, “God, are you seeing this? Do something!” He would say, “Don’t ever think I don’t care. I have far more zeal for righteousness than you do. I am doing something in response to the prayers of my people, in many ways you don’t even see, and there will be a Day when I stage the ultimate intervention. Keep the faith.”

I’m not swearing off political Facebook posts. I want to continue having these conversations online and in person; I believe keeping our government accountable is important. I don’t want to use “Jesus is still on the throne” as an excuse to sit on my butt the next four years. But on days like today when I feel overwhelmed by how far we have to go, I remember:

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

 

He has set the King of Glory on Zion.

 

He will reign.

Revelation Study/Getaway Weekend!

Bible, beach, babes.

This past weekend, I attended a mini women’s retreat with a few ladies from my church. We went to a friend’s condo in Oceanside, CA, and spent the weekend walking on the beach, talking, praying, and studying the Bible together. It was a truly special and memorable weekend!

I was asked to prepare a few teachings on the book of Revelation, and so was another woman, named Lynn. Revelation probably isn’t the topic I would have chosen for a women’s retreat (I mean, isn’t Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31 more typical fare for these kinds of things? I’ve actually never been to a women’s retreat before.) but these ladies were really hungry to know what the Word says about this crucial area of understanding– the end times and the return of Jesus.

I admit to being nervous about the teaching. Lynn planned to also teach on Revelation, but from the opposite eschatological perspective. Whereas I believe that the events of Revelation are still to come (the futurist/historical premillennialist view), she believes that most of the events were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (the partial preterist/amillennialist view). I really wasn’t sure what form those discussions would take, and even though I’ve studied several different eschatological views, I was really nervous about being able to represent my beliefs well in this kind of situation.

As it turned out, everything went very smoothly. I was amazed at the unity and fellowship that God brought. Several of the ladies got deeply touched by the Father, and we all felt very encouraged. I came to love and respect Lynn very much; she is extremely kind, wise, and hungry for God and His truth. Her wisdom as we candidly discussed different life situations and world issues was invaluable. She has spent years studying Revelation, sometimes for 10-15 hours each week, while being a wife and homeschooling mom. I was deeply provoked by her determination to search out truth for herself, as well as the way she prioritised relationship over debating. That’s a woman who loves Jesus and loves people very well indeed!

I also noticed several themes that we both shared as we were teaching:

  1. Revelation is meant to be understood by all believers, not only the theologically elite.
  2. Revelation becomes clear as we let Scripture interpret Scripture.
  3. Revelation is the revelation OF JESUS CHRIST (Rev. 1:1) – it’s the story of His heart.
  4. Revelation isn’t meant to be fearful- it’s a story of hope and courage for the Church.
  5. Revelation is at its core the story of a jealous God of love, not an angry, trigger-happy God of smitage*.
  6. Revelation sees the Church come into full maturity as the Bride finally looks like Jesus.
  7. Revelation ends with God’s Kingdom being fully established and His Bride being with Him forever.

I also had volunteered to lead worship (I brought my little keyboard and set it up on the kitchen table), and it was such a privilege to glorify the Lord through song with these ladies and invite the Holy Spirit into our midst. God brought a supernatural unity as we fellowshipped, studied, worshipped, and prayed.

Here are the notes from my Revelation teachings this weekend. I’m also adding the timelines from IHOPKC that I used and gave the ladies with the session 1 notes. Many more study resources can be found at MikeBickle.org and IHOPKC.org.

Session 1 – Themes and Structure
Session 2 – Bridegroom, King, and Judge
Session 3 – Jesus’ Second Coming
IHOPKC Revelation timeline

screenshot_2016-09-13-20-43-01-1

*Don’t go looking for that word in any theological dictionary. You won’t find it.

7 Simple Things I Learned At IHOPKC

7 simple things insta

Every time I come home from studying at IHOPU in Kansas City, and especially now that I’ve graduated, I am frequently asked about what I’ve learned. I’ve started realising that the question sort of makes me feel a little awkward because I’m not really sure how to answer. On the one hand, my whole life has changed and I know I understand things now that I didn’t before, but on the other hand, they’re really not deep, massive, mystically profound things. Most of them are the same old simple things we’ve always known.

It’s like when you grow up hearing “Jesus loves me” and then one day you find yourself on the floor weeping caught up in the realisation that “JESUS! LOVES!! ME!!!”

I didn’t learn a new gospel. Maybe I just saw the gospel a little bit more clearly.

So here are 7 simple things I learned at IHOPKC:

1. Jesus really likes me.

Not only does Jesus love me because “God is love” and He loves everyone, but He actually enjoys me and my personality. He loves that I’m a sci-fi geek. He loves the way I dance, differently than He loves anyone else’s dance. He enjoys my sense of humour. He gets a kick out of the way I talk to Him! He thinks about me all the time. He enjoys suprising me, making me smile, and providing for me. He wants me to be with Him all the time, and He wants to share the things that are on His heart with me. There are things that He urgently cares about, and He wants me to feel the same way He does, because that’s what friends do.

2. I don’t have to be awesome for God to like me or use me.

(This is kind of an extension of #1, but it’s huge so it gets its own point.) All of the above is still true when I screw up. I may get distracted or stuborn and wander off the path pretty frequently, but I still want to follow Him and I still let Him lead me back every time. That counts. He knows my heart better than I do. To quote Mike Bickle, there’s a difference between weakness and rebellion, and weak love is still real love.

3. The Bible is good stuff.

I mean, duh, but my enjoyment of the Bible grew like crazy when I was eating it up, searching it out, praying it, and singing it in the context of prayer and worship where my only priority was to love Jesus. I fell in love with stories I’d known since kindergarten and passages I could never make sense of in high school. The Bible is fun and super interesting when you read it with the Holy Spirit.

4. Jesus is worthy of everything.

“Worthy” just means “deserving.” Jesus deserves the full love and worship of every person, and He deserves to rule the earth forever. Everything that exists is meant to be in submission to Him– not only because He’s Creator GOD, but He actually deserves it because He is the most kind, humble, just, and wise person to ever exist. He proved it on the cross. We can confidently invite Him to rule this earth and our hearts because we trust that He can do a really, really good job.

5. Worship and intercession are a big deal and they go really well together.

Worship is super important because it’s the 24/7 activity of heaven and God fully deserves it (see #4). Intercession is super important because that’s step 1 in how we partner with God to make the things that He wants to happen happen. Combined, worship and prayer support each other and help our hearts stay connected to what we’re doing– and this effect, like, quintuples when we put the Word smack dab in the middle of everything we pray and sing. Hence, the 24/7 prayer (and worship) room.

6. God really loves Israel, like, a lot.

I’m not even sure what my theology of Israel was before IHOPU. I understood some things and had other things a little mixed up, but I had certainly never wept over Jesus’ heart for His people before. Praying through passages like Zechariah 2 peirced me. Jesus REALLY, REALLY loves and is COMMITTED to the people He originally chose as His bride. He’s really, really faithful–all His promises are yes and amen–and He will fulfill every word He ever spoke.

7. Jesus is coming soon and we are part of the story.

He promised He would come, and by all indications this era of history is nearing a climax. There will be a pretty dramatic series of events leading up to Jesus standing on the earth again, and we’re not supposed to be on the sidelines or swept out of the way. Jesus wants us awake, informed, and involved in what He’s doing. That starts now, because Jesus is looking for a global Church that is fully mature and alligned with Him when He comes. A major way we grow into that is by giving ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer and worship (see #5). Another major way is through evangelism and missions. Jesus said that the gospel will be preached to all nations before the end. There are actually a number of passages that talk about 24/7 prayer and worship arising from all over the earth in the final generation of history… so worship, prayer, and missions together are HUGE elements in the story of Jesus’ return.

 

I would have agreed with these points even before IHOPU, but while I was there, spending hours nearly every day in the prayer room, they were driven much more deeply into my heart. Of course they’re profound truths, and I am so grateful that I now have conviction, passion, and personal heart experience with each of them, but they’re so simple!

I admit, in my first few months I walked around with my head spinning thinking “WHOA, I HAD NO IDEA! THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE HAVE BEEN REVEALED TO ME!”, and yeah, I was studying areas of the Bible I hadn’t before and hearing a wider range of theories on a few details, but by my senior year I realised that none of what I was learning was dramatically new revelation. Mike Bickle isn’t a prophet or a theological pioneer, and IHOPKC reads the same Bible as everyone else. (We just sometimes preach it a little more dramatically!) Besides, at the end of the day, the more intriguing and debatable theories aren’t what I cherish. It’s simple truths like these.

I found that as I gave my time and attention to prayer and worship, simple truths came alive to me. Jesus loves me, He wants me to talk to Him, and He wants me to be part of His story.

My California Summer Begins

I’m home!! I arrived in California on Monday, May 23, and have really been enjoying finding a new summer rhythm of family, friends, church, creative stuff, Netflix (who am I kidding?) and work.

Yep, that’s right! I got a job! Two jobs, actually. First, I’m working at my church’s Christian school’s summer day camp as a 1st-3rd grade Bible teacher and 1st grade group leader. Second, I’ll be working at Bed Bath and Beyond in the fine china and bridal department. I worked for two years at a BBB in Kansas City, and I’m so excited to get to work at my local store. (On a related note, or maybe purely for your entertainment, here’s a Buzzfeed list of 56 Thoughts Everyone Has While Shopping At Bed Bath And Beyond. And yes, I could totally answer all of those questions.) Thus far, I’ve had some training for both jobs, but haven’t actually worked a full shift yet.

I’ve also gone out to breakfast with my brother, watched the new X-Men movie with my dad, went shopping with my mom, and attended my childhood best friend’s daughter’s first birthday party (at which I got to see a number of old friends!). It’s a blessing to spend this time at home with family.

california sign

#caligirlforever

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