Easter: The Promise of Future Resurrection

Happy Easter! He is risen!

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

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

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

Future Resurrection in Scripture

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

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

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

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

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

It probably won’t look exactly like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Will Our Bodies Be Like?

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

I don’t promise it will look like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different Kinds of Glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resurrection Timeline

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

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

Paul most clearly lays out this picture in two passages:

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

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

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

Hope Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~

Key New Testament verses and passages on our future resurrection:

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

Awakening the Dawn at 5:00 am

Every Saturday night after service as I’m getting into bed at about 11:00 pm, I set my alarm for 3:45 am. The goal is to be out the door by 4:25, backpack and tea (earl grey, hot) in hand. It takes me about five minutes to drive to my destination. I rarely see more than three or four cars on the road. The Starbucks I pass isn’t even open that early.

But I have a fire to start.

The Prayer Room is open 18 hours a day, 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, every day, no matter what. Literally. We’ve NEVER missed a day since we started 11 years ago, and only two or three times have we ever missed so much as a single minute.

Every Sunday I have the privilege of serving as the morning section leader and opening The Prayer Room at 5:00 am with (usually) two other people. Sometimes it’s just me and my worship leader. He always starts playing his guitar a minute or two before 5:00, so that when the clock shows those zeroes the fire is already on the altar. At 5:00, I pray an opening prayer over the room, which usually goes something like this:

“Good morning, Jesus. We love You. Thank You for another day we get to sing love songs to You for 18 hours straight. We ask that Your presence would fill this place today, that You would speak and move however You want… You are so, so worthy of all of this and more.”

And then I get to sit and pace and sing and pray in that room for the next six hours (I do spend a bit of that time in the lobby as I’m ushering) overseeing the fire on the altar until 11:00 when the afternoon section leader takes over.

5:00 am prayer meeting this morning

5:00 am prayer meeting this morning

I am very much not a morning person. When I have no schedule at all, I’m likely to be awake 10:00 am to 2:00 am every day. I knew this section leader assignment was going to be a stretch for me. But even though it’s dang early, there’s something really, really precious about giving God the sacrifice of love songs at dawn.

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:3

I believe dawn is a really special time to God. Even though nightime is also beautiful and holy, there’s something truly remarkable about the freshness of a new day.

The light breaking over the horizon, chasing away the shadows.

The fragrance of dew on the grass.

The quietness of a world just waking up.

His mercies are new every morning. (Lam 3:22-23)

Scripture likes to use the image of dawn to describe Jesus’ return. Revelation twice calls Jesus the “Morning Star”. (Rev 2:28, 22:16) The same phrase is in 2 Peter 1:19, where Peter instructs the church to stay faithful to the prophecies of Scripture “until the day dawns and the morning star shines in your hearts.” The Old Testament, too, is filled with prophecies of God delivering Jerusalem and filling her with the light of His glory at dawn. (Psalm 46:5, Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 60:1)

Will Jesus literally appear in the sky one day just as the sun peeks over the Mount of Olives on the eastern horizon in Jerusalem? I don’t know… but knowing His penchant for fulfilling things more literally than we expect, maybe! At the very least, it’s going to be the darkest hour of human history, and Jesus’ sudden return to make all things new will feel very much like morning light breaking through the black of night.

And in the midst of these prophecies, we have prophecies of songs of worship breaking out with the dawn. In the midst of a dramatic prophecy of end-time judgment on the whole earth, Isaiah prophesies:

Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light…
From the ends of the earth we have heard songs:
“Glory to the righteous!”
Isaiah 24:15-16a NKJV

And to bring it full circle, we come back to Psalm 57:8 (and identical phrasing in Psalm 108:2):

Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8

When I think of my 5:00 am prayer meetings, I think of the preciousness of giving Jesus that morning offering of love, that He is being glorified at the very beginning of the day. But I also think of the big picture of “awakening the dawn” of His appearing. Our worship is actually paving the way for His coming. 2 Peter 2:12 says we can “hasten the coming of the day” of His return, and every sleepy little 5:00 am prayer is filling up the bowls of incense before His throne. One day, the prayers of the Bride will reach a crescendo, and everything will be in place for Him to split the sky and stand on earth again.

There will come a day when the dawn will break over the horizon; just when it looks like things couldn’t get darker, the Morning Star will appear to make all things new.

As Aslan himself says it,

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
(C. S. Lewis, “The Last Battle.”)

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

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.

IHOPU Graduation: Looking Back on Four Years

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

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

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

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

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

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

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Abigail, my roommate and dear friend

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

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

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

Internship graduation

Internship graduation, freshman year

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

Small group, sophomore year

Small group, sophomore year

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

JPR worship team, junior year

JPR worship team, junior year

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

Dallas externship, senior year

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

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

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

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

I love you, IHOPU!

I love you, IHOPU!

Why Do The Nations Rage? (Or: Window Seat Reflections)

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I always get a window seat when I fly. What’s the point of soaring over the landscape if you can’t enjoy the view? From 26,000 feet, all of civilisation looks so small. City blocks, suburban residential tracts, freeways, and farmland all look so flat. On the ground, buildings tower over us as a testament to man’s genius and progress, like the ancient tower of Babel. From the air, the tallest skyscraper looks like a mere speck on the surface of this massive planet.

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 2:11

Sure, we’ve covered the ground with our cities and our fields; we’ve spread out as if we own the place. We’ve built our governments, our corporations, and our universities. We’ve chased after educations, careers, and relationships, and we’ve crowed proudly over every goal achieved. We’ve built our tiny little kingdoms, but viewed from far above, it seems so insignificant, like the boasting of ants. Somehow, the ants have the nerve to think that we are the masters of our universe.

How silly that seems from 26,000 feet.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves… against the LORD.
Psalm 2:1-2

It’s quite bewildering, really. The ants have rallied together and shake their fists at their Creator. Most days it’s in the hidden thoughts of our own hearts, but some days we see it blatantly on the news, and one day it will become a literal army gathered on the plain of Meggido to war against the One on the white horse, the King of Kings. (Revelation 16:14-16, 19:19)

This is where humanity is going. Who do we think we are?

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes… As it is, you boast in your arrogance.
James 4:14-16

From God’s perspective, all that arrogance is as absurd as an ant declaring itself president, when tomorrow it could be stepped on and squashed. The truth is that “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1) We do not get to set ourselves up as masters of our own universe. We can’t even control the beating of our own hearts! Every breath is a gift from God, and every scrap of control we think we have is an illusion.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise… Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son…
Psalm 2:10-12

There is only one proper response to this realisation. Humility. Worship. “You are God and I am not.” Bow low. Kiss the Son and swear Him allegiance. Confess the truth that He is Lord.

Yes, tremble, and realise whose presence you are standing in, but rejoice! Because you do get to stand in His presence.

We may be ants, but we are also kings and priests, sons and daughters. Alone, we are nothing, but He is everything, and we are with Him.

When I look out from my window seat, I see the world that my Father owns. I see the planet over which Jesus will one day fully manifest His rule. Right now, it may be full of the vain screams of ants, but it will one day be full of the swelling song of awestruck, adoring worship.

From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
Isaiah 24:16

Keeping the Fire on the Altar in DFW

Over the weekend of November 7-9, I drove down to Arlington, TX (Dallas-Ft. Worth area) to visit a ministry called The Prayer Room (TPR)TPR is a small house of prayer compared to IHOPKC, but reportedly it’s the fourth largest in the US. They operate with mostly volunteer staff, though some are full-time missionary staff, and have live worship and prayer 18 hours a day (5 am – 11 pm) 7 days a week. Like IHOPKC, they have a vision for the prayer movement being strategic in God’s plan of global preparation for Jesus’ return.TPR DFW

I first encountered TPR in the spring when their director Brad Stroup and a few of their staff came to IHOPU to speak at our externship expo. I fell in love with their heart immediately. As Brad was sharing their vision, he passionately emphasised the fact that Jesus is worthy of night and day adoration, and shared the story of a word he received from God a number of years ago: “Start a daily prayer meeting tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m. and don’t stop until I come back.” And thus daily 5:00 a.m. prayer meetings began, and hours have only ever increased since.

They came back in the fall for our next externship expo, and this time I was able to have a late meeting with them after Friday evening EGS service. We planned to go to a coffee shop, but it closed at nine so we met instead at a Burger King! We had a great talk getting to know each other over milkshakes and it seemed they connected with me as strongly as I connected with them.

TPR offers preview weekends to groups of IHOPU students who want to come down and experience their ministry for a few days. I went with eight other IHOPU students and they hosted us splendidly! The entire community was so gracious. They paid for most of our gas, put us up in host homes, fed us deliciously, took us hiking, and really expended effort to know us and to allow us to know them.

TPR externs and staff with visiting IHOPU students on a giant Texas-shaped Texas flag. (I'm fourth from the left.)

TPR externs and staff with visiting IHOPU students on a giant Texas-shaped Texas flag. (I’m fourth from the left.)

The Prayer Room

Saturday morning in the prayer room

Since I am used to the 2000+ community of IHOPKC, TPR felt small indeed. Most of their worship sets have just one person playing and singing, and often there are only a few people in the room. On Saturday morning, I was sitting in the room while one girl played and sang to Jesus on piano, and it was forcing me to ask whether I really believe in this enough to do it when I don’t have the full support structure of IHOPKC around me.

As I sat in the orange pews, I watched the small candle suspended over the altar in the front of the room. The flame was small, but it was steady and it was real. I felt God saying to me, “Yes, it’s small, but they’re doing it. They’re keeping the fire on the altar. (Leviticus 6:13) My heart is so moved by this.”

"Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out." Leviticus 6:13

“Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.” Leviticus 6:13

The answer is YES. I believe in this. I didn’t say yes to the prayer movement for IHOPKC; I said yes for Jesus. This is real, whether it’s in a huge globally broadcast 24/7 prayer room in Kansas City, or in a small rented sanctuary with just a faithful few in orange pews in Arlington, Texas.

I decided that weekend that this is where I’m going to spend my fall semester next year serving on my externship. I even told Brad that I’m hoping to be able to lead worship! (Gulp.) I felt so at home there, and I can’t imagine a better place to spend three months learning how to take ownership of a small house of prayer and even how to plant one in the future! God is doing big things in Texas, and I want to be part of the story God is telling there.

If you’re an IHOPU student interested in visiting The Prayer Room DFW for a preview weekend, please talk to me, or contact TPR directly via their website: theprayerroomdfw.com

Why Study Eschatology? (The Short Answer)

“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30

(One of my IHOPU classes, Basic Christian Beliefs, is giving the assignment of blogging on certain questions from the lessons every week. This week, I’m choosing the question “Why is studying eschatology a profitable practice for a Christian?”)

Eschatology can be a really intimidating concept. Many Christians don’t really like to think about it in any kind of detail. We love to quote verses like “He will wipe every tear from their eyes,” (Revelation 21:4) but don’t really study the process that leads up to that moment. I’ve had family members and close friends tell me that their eschatology is “pan-tribulation” (“It will all ‘pan out’ in the end”) and that reading the book of Revelation is “too scary.”

This boggles my mind. The fact is, God is telling a STORY with humanity that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We passionately defend the beginning and the middle, but sometimes it seems like we couldn’t care less about the end, so long as we all end up happily ever after somehow in “a better place.”

I want to know the story God is telling. He has wrapped up some of the most profound and stunning revelations of His character in those final few chapters. I can’t know Jesus fully unless I look at Him in the context of a Bridegroom, King, and Judge who’s coming back to rescue and marry His bride, rule the earth, and execute full justice. The book of Revelation is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:1)

Furthermore, that time is getting close. We would all agree that it’s closer than it’s ever been, but seriously, it’s getting CLOSE close. I want to have as much understanding of this time period as possible so that when things start happening, my own heart can remain unoffended and fully engaged with what God is doing, and I can also help others to stay in that place. There is no reason I should be caught unaware on that day. He’s already given me everything I need to understand what’s coming – the Spirit and the Word. He wants me to watch, stay awake, and set my heart to love the day of His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

Maybe it won’t come in my lifetime. It really might, but if it doesn’t, I will build a legacy for the next generation of this eager and faithful watching. When He comes, He WILL find a Bride made ready. (Revelation 19:7)

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
~1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
~Luke 18:7-8

The Road Home: Embryo

…as in, “the embryonic stages of my journey back to Kansas City.”

Hi, all. So it’s been nearly two months since my last post… my bad. I’ve been back working at my outdoor science school in the mountains of SoCal for about six weeks now. I love being here. I work with some completely amazing people who inspire me every single day. It definitely does feel like being home, and I’ve loved discovering what God has in store for me during this season.

I know I’ve been mentioning going back to Kansas City in the near future. Yep, I am going back in August to start IHOPU, even though when I started OTI I had ZERO intention of that happening! Here’s the story of how that changed.

One Tuesday morning in the internship, we had a class on Joel and what it says about the role of the church in the period of history in which Jesus returns. (Hint: our main role is to PRAY.) At one point, our teacher asked us to name different verses about the end-time praying church. We shouted out references like Revelation 22:17, Isaiah 42, and Luke 18:6-8, and like a diligent student I scribbled them all down in my notes.

That night in the prayer room, at about 11:30 pm, I decided to get started on my assigned meditation for the week, which was Luke 18:6-8.

And the Lord said,“Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

I didn’t even realise that it had been on the list in class that morning, so I looked it up and thought, “Oh, the parable of the persistent widow– I know this story. Pray persistently, I get it, yada yada… I guess I ought to do it properly, though.” So I started journaling through the passage phrase by phrase like I always did on my meditation verses. The first few phrases were simple enough, and I thought it was cool that the verse highlighted “day and night” prayer just like IHOP is dedicated to, but then I started getting confused.

“‘Speedily’?” I thought. “Since when does God ever do anything speedily? Okay, this is just motivation to keep praying, because from God’s perspective it’s speedy, even though from our perspective justice may take forever to come.” And then I got to “when the Son of Man comes,” and got even more lost. I’d read this verse hundreds of times before, and never understood why Jesus made this sudden abrupt reference to his return.

Then I thought, Oh snap, this just became an end-times verse, and it suddenly all made sense. When God stirs his church up to pray day and night, it is because he IS planning to do something speedily. This is the faith that he’s looking for when he comes.

And it suddenly hit me that this verse had been on the board that morning. I frantically dug out my notes, and there it was– end-time praying church, Luke 18:6-8.

As soon as all that clicked, I realised in shock,

This is our story. This is MY story!

This verse is the very reason I am sitting in this room right now!

I still love the way God blinded me to the reality of this verse for YEARS when it was staring me right in the face until the time was right to blow my mind personally and lead me into my calling. I am wholeheartedly convinced that in one way or another I’ll be a part of the house of prayer/praying church/forerunner movement for the rest of my life.

My immediate reaction was along the lines of, “This is what’s happening! Jesus is REALLY coming back REALLY soon and the very fact that the Spirit is stirring us up with faith to pray day and night means that he’s coming SPEEDILY to bring justice to the earth and HOLY CRAP I’m right in the middle of it!!!!” I wrote in my journal that night, “He is looking for his faithful elect who will cry out day and night for the return of the Son of Man, the Righteous Judge.” And the path that was instantly crystal clear to me was to come back to Cali, work at camp for a while while keeping up with IHOPU online, and then return to start Year 2 in the fall. I’ve been figuring out some of the details, but I haven’t deviated from that plan since.

I’ll be working at camp till the beginning of June, then do a summer program called SEEP to catch up and be ready for IHOPU in the fall. SEEP runs June 17 – August 9 and I would (95% sure) do it online from Rancho. It’s a pretty intense program, especially since it includes 8 hours/week of required prayer room time. I’d probably do as many of those hours as possible at The Refuge, my local house of prayer. I’d love to also pick up a very small part-time job, possibly at the restaurant I used to work at. I could do SEEP in Kansas City, but I feel that doing it at home would allow me to 1) save two months of rent money! 2) get involved with an actual local church community again, probably The Refuge, 3) “test-drive” the lifestyle in a more “normal” environment, 4) get actual HOP experience outside of IHOPKC, and 5) spend more time with my family who hardly ever see me anymore.

At IHOPU I’ll be part of the Forerunner School of Ministry (FSM) and during years 3 and 4, if I stay that long, I’ll be on the house of prayer leadership track. Theoretically, after that I’ll go… somewhere… and plant a house of prayer.

So there are a lot of things that still aren’t perfectly worked out, but for the next few months at least I have my trajectory, and I am confident that this is what God is leading me into.

I would very much appreciate your prayers for the details to all work out, for financial provision (I may end up doing support letters this time, once I really get into IHOPU), and for me not to miss what God has for me in the here and now, even as I’m looking forward to the next season.

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