Monday, December 29, 2008

Your Love is Like

Your love is like the rain
Falling on my soul
It's covering every place
Making gardens grow
The sweetness overflows
Pouring from your lips
The kisses from above
Let the heavens drip
Let 'em drip down
Let 'em drip down


Your love is like the ocean
I'm drowning in your Presence
Your love is like the ocean
I'm drowning in your Presence


Getting lost in the gaze of your eyes
Getting lost in the warmth of your smile
Getting lost in the gaze of your eyes
Getting lost in the warmth of your smile


Your love is like a room
Full of precious jewels
It takes my breath away
There's riches beyond words
When it's just me and you
I can't remember storms
All I can do
Is melt into your arms


Your love is like the ocean 
I'm drowning in your Presence


Let the heavens drip
Let 'em drip down
Let 'em drip down
Let the heavens drip down


"Your Love is Like" -Rick Pino
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn4oT0QJyNY


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The last of the homeless for now...




Round 3:

The top picture is a picture of our 200+ Christmas presents that we passed out to all the homeless men.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Homeless Outreach Continued


Round 2

1. Top left: Homeless man that we have been getting to know. Top right: the guy in the yellow shirt danced and worshipped the whole time we were down at the parking lot. Paul, Sherri, Kristen, Stevie and a few others brought instruments and sang Christmas songs, and this guy was dancing 45 minutes before they started and all the way up until we left. Bottom left: this guy had been shot in both legs a few years ago, and has never been able to walk without his leg brace and cane. He got completely healed and the rest of the afternoon walked around carrying his cane and his brace. Bottom right: Scott prayed for this guy who has been deaf since birth, and slowly he started being able to hear noises from certain distances, and by the end his ears completely opened up and he could hear whispers.




Homeless Outreach

1.
2.
3. 
4.


What each picture is all about:

1. Scott Thompson got a word at Jesus Culture Dallas that whenever he'd go into a city, there would be a white-breasted hawk as a symbol that God is giving him the keys to that particular city. From the moment we got to the parking lot for our outreach Christmas party, a white-breasted hawk flew into a tree that overlooks the parking lot. He stayed til we started to pack up.

2. The Hug Line: All the homeless men had to line up and come through our "Hug Line" in order to get a Christmas gift (hygiene kits, blankets, ponchos, hats, gloves, and scarves), coffee, hot chocolate, candy and cake. 

3. Our friend Jonathan got up out of his wheelchair for the first time in TWO YEARS about 3 weeks ago. He's been practicing walking every day and wanted to take 2 laps around the parking lot to show us how good he's been getting. He has had severe rhumatoid arthritis, but God is healing him more each day. 

4. These four are all significant. The top left corner is our weekly homeless outreach team praying in the parking lot. This is the parking lot where all the men gather to get hot meals from other churches, and lots of love from us. We have taken back this territory for the last 5 months and are seeing incredible changes happen...people leaving and getting jobs, people getting healed, people wanting to pray with us for their friends....and so much more. The top right corner is Warren holding Jonathan's hand as they walked around the parking lot. "Every place that the sole of your foot treads will be yours" Deut 11:24. The bottom left picture is of Drew Kaiser praying before going down to the parking lot. And the bottom right picture is of Ralph praying over all the beds that the men sleep in every night. 


Blogger won't let me post any more pictures right now, but I'll add some a little bit later. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Identity

This post will be short, and hopefully I'll expand on this topic later on, but I wanted to touch on the importance of knowing our identity. 


When we become a Christian, every sin, past, present, and future gets nailed to the cross. We become engrafted into Christ's lineage and we are no longer "sinners," but saints. So when people say that they are a "sinner saved by grace," that's not right. We no longer claim sin as our own. It is no longer a part of our nature. We have a new nature and we have the mind of Christ. We have stepped into the "holy priesthood." We are adopted sons and daughters of God. To still claim anything from our old nature would mean that a)we don't believe that God's work on the cross was sufficient to cover all of our sins or b)we have forgotten what we lost and what we gained through Christ. 


We need to know our identity.  We live out of who we believe that we are. If we believe we are sinners, we are only going to see the multitude of sin in our lives. We won't see the incredible gifts God has placed inside of us, nor will we want to grow those gifts for His glory. If we believe that we were made for "greater things" than Jesus did (John 14:12), we will live to a higher standard of purity and of righteousness because we fully know and believe in who we are. We will see God's standard, and know that Christ in us makes that standard possible. Nothing is impossible with God. 


The prophetic is hearing God's voice for someone else. The purpose of the prophetic is to call out the "gold" in people. To bring out who God has created them to be. To cast a vision for the anointing that they have and the call on their life.  Scott Thompson tells a story about how purity was a big issue in his life around the time when he became a Christian. But he had all these people around him telling him that he was going to "break the chains off of a generation." We need people to remind us of the amazing things that we are called to do. Sometimes we are so bogged down in sin that we can't see the call on our lives. We're still in the "process" of realizing our call and vision. 


In our homeless outreach, we don't point fingers and tell people what they're doing wrong. We tell them how great they are and what incredible things they are capable of. Having the gold in them called out reminds them that they are called to greater things. That they are better than their situation. They feel empowered and not defeated. They feel loved and encouraged. They start living like they believe they are awesome and worth it and capable of chasing after the big dreams God placed inside them. They want to believe that they are great and talented, but the world keeps shouting at them that they are worthless. Sadly much of the Church screams the same message.


 "All creation is longing for the sons of God to be revealed..." (Romans 8:19). All creation is longing for us to start walking in the fullness of who we are. To rise up. To believe that we are called to do "greater things" than Jesus did. To heal the sick. To raise the dead. To love and give extravagantly. To know the presence of God and feel the shifts of His Spirit. To make earth as it is in heaven. Not to sit in a corner and say we aren't good enough, that we don't have the skills, to say that there is nothing good in us...saying that there is nothing good in the creation does not glorify the Creator. 


We are saints that have been created in God's image. It's time that we live like we believe who God says that we are. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'll Stand By You

I've heard this song a million times, but yesterday I heard it on the radio and it sounded different. Maybe I just finally listened to the words and the heart behind the song, but it really moved me. Carrie Underwood sang it for "Idol Gives Back" and it put the song in the context of those of us who have plenty, rushing to the aid of those who have little. Idol was doing a huge push for people with AIDS in Africa, and those that live in dire poverty. The video clips were raw and uncut, but there was such a beauty in the people that they showed. Idol ended up donating millions of dollars to help those in need. To help those in the world who don't have access to any kind of medical care, food, water, shelter, or schooling. They put forth a tremendous effort to bless others, and it was such an honor to see America rise up and stand for a cause bigger than itself.

There are also parts of this song that I believe God sings to us. "nothing you could confess would make me love you less" "let me see you through because I've seen the dark side too" "let me come along because even if you're wrong, I'll stand by you" "take me into your darkest hour and Ill never desert you." I think the message of "I'll Stand By You" is beautiful and complete. a picture of a God with the heart of a father, rushing to the aid of His children. oh how He loves us so.


Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Dont be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
cause Ive seen the dark side too


When the night falls on you
You dont know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less


Ill stand by you
Ill stand by you
Wont let nobody hurt you
Ill stand by you


So if youre mad, get mad
Dont hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well Im a lot like you


When youre standing at the crossroads
And dont know which path to choose
Let me come along
cause even if youre wrong
Ill stand by you


Ill stand by you
Wont let nobody hurt you
Ill stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And Ill never desert you
Ill stand by you

And when...When the night falls on you, baby
Youre feeling all alone
You wont be on your own

Ill stand by you
Ill stand by you
Wont let nobody hurt you
Ill stand by you


Take me in, into your darkest hour
And Ill never desert you
Ill stand by youIll stand by you
Wont let nobody hurt you
Ill stand by you
Wont let nobody hurt you
Ill stand by you

-The Pretenders, "I'll Stand By You" (as sung by Carrie Underwood)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finding Vision and Purpose

http://www.kvministries.com/blog/?p=41


This is a blog by Kris Vallotton (his son wrote this particular entry) regarding the election and where we stand as a nation. He casts a vision and a purpose for the Church during this "season." It's so challenging and convicting to me. I hope you guys enjoy it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

School

Right now, Patrick and I are at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (a church and school plant from Bethel in Redding, Ca... www.ibethel.org, www.ibethelatlanta.org). We have class on Monday and Tuesday nights from 6:30-9:30, outreach to the homeless every Sunday afternoon, and home group every other Thursday. We also read lots of books, do book reports, and do homework for every day of the week. Needless to say, it's a huge time commitment. But there is a grace for us to be in school during this season. Thankfully, it has proved to be more of a blessing and a catalyst than an obstacle.


Last week, we spent a lot of time interceding for America and the election. We made declarations and spoke life over the United States. People had some cool words that they shared about our great nation. Never has my passion for America been stirred up so deeply in me. One word was about the Statue of Liberty being a prophetic declaration. She is holding a book of authority, she is walking in power, she has a crown on her head which says she is royalty, and she knows her identity. With her torch, she is lighting the way for people groups all over the world to come and to gain freedom and to find their identity. This time of declaration and intercession gave me such a hope for America. With any President, God wins. He can win with any hand, and we can come into agreement with His heart and what He wants to do. God did not make a mistake by electing Obama as President (although many would disagree). It was His idea. He has a purpose. And regardless of how we feel, we have to choose to believe that God is always good, and that He has our best interest in mind, and He works ALL things out for our good. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, and we have to keep speaking life. But we still have a responsibility to pray for our leaders, cry out for mercy and for justice, and for righteous decisions to be made. We are citizens of heaven and will live according to those principles and standards.


If the Church really rose up and knew her identity, and started to work and move from a place of victory and authority, we would not need a government/political party to do the Church's work. To fight for the things that the Church should be fighting for. The poor/homeless should find love, acceptance, encouragement and strength from us, not the government. The Church can draw out greatness in people, it can make them realize their dreams and equip them to go after those dreams. If God has placed a dream in them, there is a grace there for them to pursue that dream. We have a responsibility for the widows, and the homeless, and the unborn babies. But we have to know who we are and what we carry in order to receive and to steward the things of heaven here on earth.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Declaration

When we're young, the only thing we can do to communicate that we need something is to cry. We cry because we're hungry, we cry because we're thirsty, and we cry because we're tired. If we want anything, we cry. 

As we get older, we learn to communicate a little differently. Let's use a glass of milk as an example. Maybe when we're two or three we can say the word "milk" or point to it. As we start to grow we can start to reach the milk ourselves, and then reach the glasses, then later pour the milk without having to ask our parents to get it for us. But there is a progression of crying out for it when we're young, asking for it as we get older, then taking the liberty to get it ourselves. 

I think that is how God intends for our faith to be. If you ever spend any amount of time in prayer and not ask for anything, you will start to see God give you the things that you needed that you didn't ask for. Like any good father, God knows our needs. He knows our desires. And He wants to give us those things in our heart. Luke 18:8  says that He will respond "speedily." But He wants to see us trust that He will provide for our needs, and then learn to take another step forward. To start to get up and get things for ourselves. He wants to see us move from a place of crying out and asking for things, to a place of declaration. God tells us in Ephesians 2 that we are seated in heavenly places now. In Zechariah 3:7, that there are courts in heaven that we have a say in now. All authority in heaven has been given to us. We are powerful. 

We usually limit grace to a ticket to heaven. But grace is an entryway into the realm of the impossible. We have access to higher realms. We have faith in something that is greater than us. We have access to power that breaks strongholds. power that moves mountains. power and love that radically change people. power and love that defeats armies. We can have confidence that when we make declarations, the atmosphere shifts. Heaven moves. God wants to show Himself. He wants to encounter people in radical ways. He wants to see His children rise up in faith believing that the God who loves them will show up on their behalf. So let's rise up and be bold. Let's pray for the sick and declare that their bodies come into alignment with the Kingdom of God. Lets speak Truth and prophecy to people who need encouragement and direction. Lets practice accessing heaven and bringing it into the now. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby Bailey


This is our new kitten, Bailey. She is super snuggly and sweet and we love her! I hope you all get an opportunity to meet her sometime soon (while she is still teeny tiny!). 

She has developed a funny habit of wanting to sit on my back when i bend over, or wanting to climb up my shoulders and sit between my shoulder blades while I am standing. The first picture is of me bending over on the computer and Bailey sitting on my back watching me over my shoulder. She couldn't be cuter!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Culture of Honor

This is my response to a blog about Todd Bentley to the author, he asked for our thoughts so I thought I'd post mine:


http://www.ibethel.org/regarding-todd-bentley/


This is a link to a response that I like very much regarding Todd Bentley. I think it's important for us to develop and keep a culture of honor. This church in Redding, California has found a way to recognize different anointings when they see them, and look past the things that they might not agree with. Whenever someone speaks at Bethel Church in Redding, the pastor will never tell you what he didn't agree with. He wants to train the church to recognize different anointings and different moves of God in different people. And sometimes those come in unlikely and maybe even uncomfortable forms. The important thing is to learn to see God, instead of the human. To recognize the "Truth" wherever it is. If we focus on the good, and learn to honor fellow believers even if we have small differences in doctrine, we get closer to understanding the heart of the Father. Just like the dad in the Prodigal Son, he did not care about the mess his son had gotten into. He loved his son and wanted to honor him and bless him just for being his son.


As believers we are going to keep being divided as long as we remain critical, and see the human error rather than the potentially mighty move of God in someone. Todd needed believers to support him (by supporting you don't have to agree with every last stroke of the pen), to love him, to honor him, and to pray for him. I believe that Todd has an amazing anointing to heal the sick and raise the dead. I know several people personally who encountered God in ways they never had before in Lakeland. Todd ushered in God's presence no matter how you look at it.


If you look at the history of revivals and revivalists, you'll notice that at the end, the "main player" usually gets burnt out, tired, and broken. Moves of God can happen quickly, and when someone is pushed ahead of the group to lead, they rarely have an opportunity to build in extra accountability, prayer support, and to get friends alongside them to help them lead. Without those things, anyone would burn out and get tired and feel lonely. Believers are meant to be honored and supported by each other, without being divisive about every detail. I think in times like this, we need to storm the gates of heaven on behalf of our brother in Christ, rather than sitting at the dinner table picking him apart. We need to show honor and love to all believers. If we can't love the Body, how can we love the lost? the homeless? the poor?



We have to first know and feel the love of God for us, before we can unconditionally give it. We should work from love not for love. from victory not for victory. and from a place of rest rather than for a place of rest. We have been fully equipped with everything we need, we just have to believe we have it, and then act on it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Necessity of the Spirit

God has been putting some thoughts on my heart recently that I have loved. Each thought is unique, and might appear somewhat scattered, but it will make sense in the end.  :) 


In old Jewish traditions, a man would propose to a woman. He would then leave to go and  "prepare a place" for her. He would build a house, or add a room onto the house he already had for he and his bride to live in. The girl would continue about her business for months or even years, waiting on her groom to finish their place. But she would always leave a light on in the room she was in, so that when her groom would come back to get her, he would know where to find her and know that she was ready. She wouldn't know if he'd come for her during the day or at night, so leaving a lamp lit was a necessity. 

We have to be ready for Jesus' return. Being ready for Him to come in the middle of the night and find us still waiting patiently for Him. I want Him to come back and find me faithfully waiting.  Letting my light shine all the time so that He'll know where to find me and know that I am ready for Him to take me away. I want Him to see my white garments and know that I am for Him only. 

* * * *

John the Baptist was someone in the Bible who embraced his calling to the fullest extent. He existed to pave the way for Jesus. To prepare the way for Him. To prepare people for His coming. All He did was announce the coming Messiah. He proclaimed His goal and His power. Not only did He announce the coming of Jesus, but also the fact that Jesus was going to baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John the Baptist lived completely yielded to his calling. Everything about him pointed to Jesus. He waited actively, fervently, and passionately  for Him. 

John the Baptist announced Jesus' first coming. And he did that well. But we're here to announce Jesus' second coming. To help prepare ourselves and everyone else around us for the Bridegroom's return for us. We are the John the Baptists of today. We're meant to prepare the way for Jesus to come. We are brightly lit lovers of God, shining so that not only will everyone else see the light, but Jesus will know right where to find us when He returns.

* * * *


After Jesus was crucified, He came back and appeared to over 500 people, telling them not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them.  However, only 120 were still there to receive the Spirit when it actually came time for the outpouring. This small group was fervently awaiting the Holy Spirit, spending time in prayer and worship until the Spirit came upon them. They had a unity of heart and really went after what Jesus had promised. And they were the ones who received the gift of the Spirit and the anointing and power to move and walk in the same power that Jesus had.


 In the same way that a bride would wait years for her groom, and John the Baptist fervently waited and announced the coming Lord, people were called to passionately wait on the Spirit's arrival. It was those who were completely yielded to the coming Jesus that received the outpouring of the Spirit. People who were so wrapped up in everything about Jesus. Wrapped up in God's purposes for them. I want to be completely wrapped up in and engulfed by Jesus and His love and purposes. Fully empowered by the Spirit. 


But we have to seek out the deeper things of God, passionately and fervently praying for them and awaiting their arrival...but those who seek find. People had to wait on the Spirit, but were blessed immensely for not losing focus and not forgetting that the Spirit was coming. That there was more to be had. It was only the 120 faithful that received the overflow of the Spirit and were able to fully walk in the power that Jesus had. I want to shine. To glow with the radiance of God's presence. To walk in power that comes from above. That changes atmospheres. That makes heaven invade earth. I want to proudly receive Jesus and His entering in to my life. I'm ready for His return. And He will find me patiently, actively, and zealously waiting for Him.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life


It's a Great Day to Be Alive- Travis Tritt 
My Soul Longs for You-Misty Edwards
Moondance-Van Morrison
Let Your Light Shine-Bethany Dillon
Your Love Never Fails-Bethel
Divine Romance-Phil Wickham
One-U2 and Mary J. Blige
Omaha-Counting Crows
Oh I Think They Like Me-Dem Franchize Boyz
Could I Have This Kiss Forever-Enrique Iglesias and Whitney Houston
Marry Me-Ed Cash
Hosanna-Hillsong
Regardless-Jimmy Needham
Shining-Phil Wickham
Everything-Lifehouse
Come Away-Matt Wertz
Glory Come Down-Jason Upton
Your Love is Like-Rick Pino
Pour Out-Shawn McDonald
Cry In My Heart-Starfield
Happy-Sister Hazel

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Traveling

One of my passions in life is traveling. I love the idea of interacting with new cultures, languages, food and landscapes. I enjoy the challenge of communicating and exploring the new terrain. New places are always so vibrant and full
 of life, with new sounds and smells. Nothing is familiar. Everything is an adventure.    
 

I have loved every experience that I have had in foreign countri
es. And I wouldn't trade any experience for the world. 



Lately Patrick and I have wanted to go everywhere. To see Florence, Milan, and Rome, Italy. To teach English in China. To see Jerusalem and the Middle East. To visit Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. To see the Northern Lights in Alaska. To visit Budapest, Hungary, Dubai, and the Taj Mahal in India. To see Heidi Baker in Mozambique and Heroes of the Nations in Nairobi, Kenya. 



Our list continues to grow each day and we have a fear of not experiencing all that the world has to offer. All the aromas and spices, the landscape and architecture, the people and cultures. We have a hunger for adventure and can't wait to take the first steps of our journey together. I hope you'll join us!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blessed

I have now entered a completely new season of life. A season that is far more vibrant and exhilarating than the last. On May 17, 2008, I got to marry the love of my life and my best friend, Patrick. Preparing for a wedding is one of the most stressful things I have ever done. But as it got closer and closer to the Big Day, God just cloaked me with layers and layers of supernatural peace. I was no longer stressed or worried that something wouldn't come together. I wasn't worried that the photographer wouldn't catch the right moments. I wasn't worried about my shoes or my hair or my dress. I was just so content and wrapped up in the love and peace of God.


I didn't realize how overwhelmingly loved and blessed I would feel on that day. Looking around seeing everyone that has meant something to you is truly remarkable. All the people that you would rush over to see if you saw them out. All the people that you have spent long hours working through life's problems with, cramming for tests with, traveling with, or staying up late to make cinnamon/sugar/butterscotch pancakes with. I thought the love in the air and in all the rooms was going to knock me over.


Patrick and I had such a great time dancing and laughing the night away. Even through the honeymoon we were talking about each detail that was perfect. Or that one person that came from really far away just to be with us on our wedding day. There are so many details that we just enjoy remembering. We love to remember how the faces looked, what the dance floor was like, who spent all night beside us wanting to enjoy everything with us, who went above and beyond to make the day incredible... we were beyond blessed. Our lives have been perfectly grafted together by a loving God. The transition into this new life together has been effortless and flawless. Beautiful and loving, fun and exciting.


If you would have asked me if God was going to bring good out of all the mess that Patrick and I have been through together, I would probably tell you there is no way. And there are still some things that painfully linger in my memories. But if our wedding and the weeks after is any indication of how much He wants to lavish us with "good," then I would have been wrong. God works ALL things out for OUR GOOD. Even terrible things, He finds ways to knit Himself in so that as we look back, we see victories. We see huge mountains conquered. We see that love wins. Love conquers all. Because of Jesus, love is what's left after everything else falls away. Right now we feel like we are drowning in love. It is all around us and it is breathtaking. God has filled our lives and our spirits with more love than I ever thought possible. And we are set up now for an incredible journey as man and wife. To walk from glory to greater glory. From strength to greater strength. From blessing to multiplied blessing.


God is so good and so full of love. And I'm blessed to be called His child.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Dad, My Hero

My family is one of the most important things to me. However, I have never regarded them as highly as I do now. 


My dad specifically is probably the most incredible, valuable, heroic, respectable, loving, and encouraging person I have ever met. His life has been rough but he has never complained. His sense of humor is wholesome and unique. He has the rare gift of truly encouraging and empowering every person he meets. He has a love for writing letters and will spend hours crafting the perfect balance of exhortation, love, respect and value for each person he writes. I have gotten letters from him since I was young. As I grew up he used to write letters and hide them in different places so that I would find them later. A few weeks ago I opened a box of glasses that he and my mom had wrapped up for me in 1990 and put a note on it that said "Mary to take to college." As we opened the box after it being in storage for years, I found a letter my dad had written to me about that day in 1990 when they were already planning ahead for me in college. He told me what my brother and I had done that day, what we had eaten for dinner, what my cat was doing, how he appreciated my mom, and how much he loved me. My dad never hesitates to tell me how much he loves me and how proud he is of me. What an incredible thing to have in life! A dad that is always for you, always encouraging you, always giving you a little extra money than you needed, always sending letters to you, creating care packages to send to you abroad, giving you books that changed his life, and being intentional about encouraging weaknesses. He has a generosity that is hard to believe sometimes but that is what makes him so rare and special. 



One of the biggest blessings in my life is watching my dad with my baby sister. He loves her more than anything in this world. Seeing how he treasures her when no one is watching is so sweet to me. 



My dad has an uncanny way of knowing how you're feeling, what makes you insecure and worrisome, and in a two minute conversation knowing exactly how to help you and love you through whatever emotion you're feeling. I went through a really rough season of depression a year ago, and my dad knew all I needed was a kitten and everything would be okay in my world. The world could be caving in on me but if I had a kitten to love, everything else would fade away. He knows when you just need a cheeseburger and milkshake, a BP gas card, a little extra allowance, a friend to take you to lunch, or a letter building you up in every area of your life. I have not always been great with money, but instead of reprimanding me for my shortcomings, my dad praised the ways that I had been faithful, frugal, and generous. That is something so rare in many fathers today. 



My dad is someone that you can't help but be yourself around. He calls out the gold in you and makes you feel like a million bucks. If he is ever upset with someone, he finds ways to say great things about them. You'd never know he was upset. 



He helps you see the big picture. The good hearts that people have and how sometimes we need to broaden our perspective in order to see what is so incredible about them. He challenges my comfort zone but always gives me confidence to move forward into uncharted territory. He loves my friends because I love them. And he always thanks me for loving them well, something that few friends ever tell you. When college is hard he explains that transitional times are always hard, but they get better and settle out. You just have to relax. My dad didn't push for me to have perfect grades. He loved when I did, but he was so satisfied with all my effort in every area of my life. If I didn't do so well on a test, he would immediately find something I did do well on that week so I had a balance. Every time I entered a new season of life he would tell me story after story about what he loved about that season and what I can look forward too. Each season seems to get richer and richer which makes me so excited for the years to come.



What I love about my dad is that not only is he like this, but so is his entire family. They have a unique way of loving unconditionally and supporting in every way possible. I have never felt disrespected, not honored or not valued by them. Even when my dad was going through tough months, they could sense it in him (he would never say it) and speak up on his behalf. They'd encourage him, but also find ways to encourage my brother and I to reach out to him a little bit more. To let him know how much we love him (without saying that he was doing poorly). It is so loving to me that they could help and improve a situation without ever having to talk about the problem. One summer, my brother had decided he wanted to be an inventor. So my aunts would sit with him for hours and help him come up with new ideas and names for things. They never cared what people thought. It was their intention to love fully and selflessly. 



I could not have asked for a better dad or family. I am blessed beyond belief. And I hope that I have inherited even just small fragments of what they possess, and can pass those along to all of those that I care about and value. 

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Challenged

This past week has been rough. I've really struggled with finding true intimacy with the Lord. He has taken me through a process of learning where the callouses are on my heart. I've found that over the last few years I have put up wall after wall between me and God, and God is having to reveal those walls to me so that I can get rid of them and truly be free. Seeing all of the walls is painful. Most of them have so many layers that it takes awhile to figure out what the problem actually is. I had this vision of Jesus sitting on the floor in His throneroom with me. And He was explaining to me why He wanted me to see each wall individually. He told me that if I knew what I was being freed from, then I'd never go back. I needed to see what I was being freed from. What chains and what baggage I was losing. The weight that would no longer be on me.


During worship at Bethel on Sunday morning, I was still just really fighting to get close to the Father's heart. Of course it was Easter and I was thinking "Of all days to feel like I'm not at the heart of Jesus!" About halfway through worship, one of the worship leaders (Meredith) left the front of the room and walked straight to me. She said "I need to pray for you." So Meredith starts praying and singing over me, asking the Lord to come and meet me without me having to do anything. To remove all of the walls and barriers that were up around my heart. To tear through them and come to me. To take me deeper and deeper into intimacy. I was in tears because the Lord had spoken to her exactly what needed praying for. What a huge blessing.


It has been a struggle because I look at some people and their intimacy with Jesus is so readily available. It is so obvious and natural. Overflowing to those around them. To me it seems like I am always on the outside. I can't quite get into "intimacy." I feel like sometimes I can sit for hours with the Lord and never feel like I've really met with Him. Or that I've really encountered His presence. I want to know His heart so desperately and deeply, and I want to find that place so that I can rest there. Somehow there has to be a balance of seeking, but doing nothing and resting in Him.


One thing that has been such a blessing at Bethel is the fact that everyone there wants you to be free. They want any past issue of hurt, sickness, frustration, family problem...etc to be completely released and for you to be delivered and free. The army of God needs to be strong, free, and confident. They want you to be you, and to be strong in the person God created you to be.

There should be no feeling of jealousy, anger, depression or impatience in the life of a truly free and loved follower of Christ. Satan is empowered through our agreement. He only has the power that we believe he has. The people at Bethel constantly speak life to each other, rather than death. There is no complaining or built up tension. As a body, they are so close to the heart of the Father that they want to look exactly like Jesus. They want to heal the sick, raise the dead, prophecy, and love without an agenda. There is no room for the enemy in that place. Bethel is a place where God is establishing His heart. It is a place that dwells in the presence of God all the time. It is free. It is full of love and grace. It is full of authenticity. And it is full of the Holy Spirit. We would have no power if it weren't for the Holy Spirit.


"Religion is what you have once the Holy Spirit has left the building." -Bono


Psalm 103

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Testimonies!!

Yesterday, my friends Daniel, Drew and Pat and I all went on a treasure hunt. A treasure hunt is where you pray beforehand and make a list of all the things God gives you. Our list was as follows:

boots
white shirt with writing
dreds
Godiva
right leg (knee down to foot)
golf clubs
stroller
funny black glasses
brace-pole (we don't know what that is exactly)
a specific ring

So this was our list of images God gave us. The only thing related to a location was Godiva, so we went to Lenox mall. The idea behind a treasure hunt is to pray for the people that you find that have to do with something on the list. For example, if someone got a word about a red baseball hat, we'd look for a red baseball hat and ask that person if they need prayer for anything.

We first found a girl with dreds and we asked how we could pray for her. She said her mom Nancy is in the hospital with cancer, so we asked if we could pray for healing for her mom.

After several laps around the mall with no luck, we ended up back at Godiva. Then to our surprise, we saw that there was a golfing store across the way from Godiva! So we waiting there for a little bit to see if God brought any people by.

Sure enough, a lady struggling to walk went by us with her husband and grandson. We asked what was wrong and if we could pray for her. She said she has terrible arthritis in her knees and the doctor told her it would cost $100,000 to do knee replacement surgery on both knees (she didn't have insurance). She couldn't afford it so the doctor said that she'd be in a wheelchair in the next year or two due to the severity of the arthritis in her legs. We asked if we could pray for her and she said absolutely. While Pat had his hands on her knees, he felt movement in her knees. After we prayed she said that it felt like something was crawling in her knees and filling in all the missing cartilage. We asked her to stand up and try out her knees. Even just sitting and standing had been painful before. She stood up and was so surprised there was no more pain! She started standing on each foot one at a time, then she knelt all the way to the ground and moved all around. God completely replaced her knees!!!

Her hands here really stiff and red, and she said she had a nerve disease of sorts and that her hands were always numb and stiff. It's been years since she has been able to bend her fingers, so much so that driving has been difficult for her. Pat and I held her hands and prayed for the nerve damage in her hands and that the nerves would regrow and be fully restored and healthy again. Immediately the redness left her hands and they stopped shaking. She could bend all of her fingers and make a fist! Praise the Lord! Then Daniel noticed that her ring was the one in his vision!

We prayed for her husband's sinus and ear problems (he had on big combat boots), then for their grandson's vision in his right eye. God completely restored his vision to 20/20 and he was able to read anything in the mall that we pointed at.

A little bit later on after they had laughed and cried and moved on, we all sat down at Starbucks for a little bit. After about half an hour, the woman and her husband and grandson came down the escalator and walked right up to us. She said she wanted to find us because she forgot to tell us about her foot problems. We prayed and the burning she had been feeling for the last 10 years went completely away! Her right leg was the one with the most pain in her knee and foot which was Drew's word for a woman's right leg. And just because God is good, the woman had an off-brand pair of tennis shoes that were named "Drew." If that wasn't a sign to Drew then I don't know what is!

A little bit later Patrick sent me a text (he had been praying for our treasure hunt) and asked if we prayed for a woman's hands! He said he prayed a lot but that was the only picture he really got. So that was also confirmation that God wanted to heal this woman at the mall. We also found out that they were from Tennessee and were just down for a visit. So God had really set up a divine appointment for them!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Healing

First of all- I have two confessions. One, this topic is not a topic that I have truly embraced and started to walk in. I believe in everything that I'm about to say, but actually living it is a completely different story. I desire to see hundreds of people healed and delivered from various strongholds, but when it comes down to it, I have a lot of cracks in my own foundation that keep me from stepping out and praying in boldness. I am on this faith journey just like everyone else. Second confession, this material is not original, but I think that it is worthy of being talked about and passed on. I hope you will be encouraged and empowered, strengthened and challenged, edified and sharpened.


When it comes to healing, we are quick to make excuses about why healing doesn't happen. We say that it is God's will for some to be hurt and to suffer. Or that God is more glorified through limps and broken arms. Or that this person doesn't have the faith to be healed. Or that healing isn't for all people. We can go through the list of all the excuses we make, and the more we look at these excuses, we can get a clearer picture of how the enemy has crippled the Body and convinced them that it is not always God's will to heal. That God is not good all the time. That God is not in a good mood all the time. And that we can't always know the heart of the Father.


The closer we get into this issue, we realize that there are cracks in our foundations. Cracks in our identity and who we believe that we are. I believe that Jesus wants to raise up a strong and healthy army, not one that is paralyzed and sick. An army that knows who they are and is confident in the things that God tells them. It is important that we understand Scripture and understand Jesus and the Father to be who they say that they are. Here are some questions to think about that might challenge your faith a little bit:


Is God more glorified when someone is sick or when someone has been fully healed and restored?


If we are the light of the world, what good is busted light bulb?


Did Jesus die for all people? Did He defeat sickness and death for all people?


Is that person who you believe doesn't have enough faith, big enough to stand in the way of God's promise?


Do you believe that God wants to prosper you and not harm you? that He is for you? that He wants you to shine? that He delights in you? that He wants to protect you? that He desires freedom and restoration for all people?


We are made in the image of God. We need to start attacking these ways of thinking that devalue the cross and say that the death of Jesus was not good enough and is not good enough for all of the things of today. Our limits of faith need to be challenged. We need to understand the implications of being made in the image of God. 


"As you go, preach the message: 'The Kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.'" Matthew 10:7-8 It's pretty obvious that Jesus desires for us to do this. 


"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13


"This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." I John 5:14-15 No one who came to Jesus sick left still sick. God always came through. So that shows that it is always God's will to heal.


"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24


"...by His wounds we are healed." Is. 53:5


"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to us." Matthew 28:18


"He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 We will do greater things than Jesus did. things never before seen or documented. 


"...your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." Matthew 6:10 Heaven is perfect. No sickness. No depression. No anxiety. No broken bones. No cancer. 


Fellow brothers and sisters, we carry the power of the cross. The devil only has the power that we believe he has. So we need to be secure in who God says that He is and who God says that we are. Let's enforce Christ's victory over the power of sin and death everywhere we go. It is God who heals the sick, not us. That has to take some pressure off! Jesus paid for us to walk in power and to put the power and love of God on display for all to see. It is the time of "greater things," so let's not go back and limit those greater things. We can't have a comfort zone of unbelief and be afraid of freedom any longer. It is time for the chains to be broken on all those being held captive. It is time to rise up. to be free. to be healed. to be delivered and restored. to walk in boldness. No one will be healed if we don't ask. So let's start asking.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Can you be a sinner and still be saved by grace?

A good friend of mine has a blog that I enjoy reading from time to time. However, his most recent entry was a little bit different. The point of this entry is how no one is good, and so we spend our whole life trying to be good. He comes at this from a Christian angle which is a little bit discouraging. The influence of this particular entry came from a philosopher that works at the school my friend teaches in. He also is a believer...but somehow, things have gotten lost in translation between here and the cross.

Here is my response to his blog entry:

"I think we get wrapped up in the "im a sinner" rather than the "saved by grace" part of the statement. The thing with Christianity and Jesus is that we are good post Jesus. we have the mind of Christ. we are children of the King. We have a new nature. the old has gone and the new has come. not the old is sorta gone and it still lingers a little bit. no. its gone. we are new creations. loved by God. made pure by Him. When we still claim to be a sinner and hang out on that side of the Truth, we miss not only the beauty and importance of the cross, but we also miss out on knowing our true identity and the abundant life that flows from being confident in who we are in Christ. we are dead to sin, but alive in Christ. we need to walk in boldness believing in who we are. some of us are so held back because what we believe that we are is not really who God says that we are. we are free. we are new. we are restored. we can have confidence that now we are saints, and no longer sinners."

So if you consider yourself saved by grace and made new in Christ, then you are no longer a sinner, but a saint. no longer a slave but a son.

We have to believe that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Need for God's Presence

There is such a need in the United States for the presence of God. The raw, powerful, compassionate and loving presence of the Living God. Not only is there a need for God's presence, there is a need for the power of His presence. Throughout the Old Testament we see God's power on display. Elijah calling down fire from heaven. Moses petitioning Pharoah to let the Israelites go, and bringing plagues onto the earth to display the authority and power of the God he serves. Manna from heaven. Daniel in the blazing furnace. Gideon and his army. The walls of Jericho crumbling with a shout. Continuing on to the New Testament, Jesus displays power from on high by healing the sick. Raising the dead. Casting out demons. Speaking words to the woman at the well that no one could have known but someone in tune with the Father. These are all displays not just of God's presence, but of His power.

The Christians in the United States have watered the almighty and powerful God down to a few comfort-bringing theological principles and a handful of self-help formulas to turn to in time of need. Christians in the US are not walking in the power that Jesus said we possess. Most Christians do not realize that we are no longer sinners! We have the mind of Christ. We have a completely new nature. We are princes and princesses. Children of the King. We have been given victory over the darkness...always. How much more of an impact could we have on the world if we really BELIEVED in our identity? That the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, healed every sick person, and kept Daniel from burning in the furnace is in us. We can rebuke the darkness. We can declare and proclaim the presence of the Kingdom. We can heal. We can speak Truth. We can prophecy. We can speak in tongues. We can speak to the dead and say 'Get up and walk!' We can tell the blind to see. We can literally 'bring heaven to earth.' What a radical change in the atmosphere it would bring if all Christians wrapped their mind around their identity as children of God! a royal priesthood.

God has already declared that we would do "greater things" than Jesus (John 14:12). GREATER THINGS! That means there will be times when we won't even know what it looks like or what to expect. Who wants to serve a God that we know everything about? I am expecting Him to do new things in this generation. Things never before seen. Miracles never heard of. Join me in that.

And I want to challenge us not to gauge God and the possibility of what He can do based on our own experience. We would rather expect what we know can happen rather than expecting the unexpected. the impossible. the abnormal. the supernatural. It's hard and uncomfortable to let God do something we know nothing about. It takes a lot more faith than we're used to. He has already declared that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to us, and that He wants to do greater things than He did in the life of Jesus. What a HUGE declaration! Why would we want to walk in anything but the power He has already given us?

Originally, the Church went to the streets to heal the sick and to raise the dead. They didn't bring people to church. Church was a place where believers were encouraged, sharpened and edified. People would come to Christ on the streets and then come to church. Wouldn't it be cool to heal someone who has been paralyzed for years and be able to tell them to get up and walk? How much more would they want to know about the God we serve then? Demonstrating the love of God for us through Jesus, and that we carry a power that is beyond ourselves is essential to the Gospel. That person would then have proof in the natural that God is real. He is powerful. and He loves him.

I want to see our generation arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord rises upon us (Is. 60). God has called us to step out on faith. To believe Him for incredible things. To pray impossible prayers. To dream dreams that would only be possible if God shows up. Dreams that are so big they would take more than a lifetime to come to fruition. We have the heart. We have the Spirit. But are we ready to step into the Promised Land so that we can live and dwell in uncharted territory? Uncharted territory that is consumed by the Presence and fire of God? I'm already walking and I hope you'll join me on this journey.