Nigerian Crusade

Bonnke Lagos

A few weeks from now I will be heading to Lagos, Nigeria to participate in the “Passing the Torch” crusade of Christ for all Nations Ministries. Christ for all Nations is the Ministry of Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda. A few blogs ago, I told you about the privilege I had to attend their “School of Evangelism” in Florida, and it only whetted my appetite more to see first hand what I have only seen in video footage over the years. Here is a sampling of what I expect to see: “Harvest Joy”

I will be traveling with the CfaN ministry team as they will host a two-day “Fire Conference” for Nigerian Pastors, as well as an evangelistic crusade where they will  preach the Gospel and pray for the sick.

This opportunity has been a dream of mine since I was an 8th Grader. I am so excited to see the faces of the nations I have prayed for for years. I am excited to to share in the encouragement for native pastors, and to see the lame walk, the blind eyes open, the deaf hear, and the multitudes come to Jesus!

As I head out on this journey, I ask for prayer. Pray that God’s call on my life will be walked out in courageous passion. As I witness Reinhard and his team reaching out in Nigeria, my heart wants to continue to burst into flame and burn red hot with a passion to reach the lost. I know that this trip is part of the bigger picture in the direction God has set my heart, and I am so excited to keep stepping.

If you are interested in giving towards this trip, you may make checks payable to “Regent Life Church” and attach a note designating it to me and my trip. Their address can be found by clicking: here

I will keep you updated.

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The Raven and the Eagle

“I am carrying on a great project, why should I leave this thing I am created and destined to do, in order to accomodate your threats?”

*eagleI’m sitting on my deck today, looking out at the view. If you have ever been to Homer, Alaska, you will understand it when I say that the view never gets old. But this time, as I am sitting in the stillness, the quiet is interrupted by the sound of a raven in the distance. With a constant cackling, and cawing, the raven is repeating a pattern of swooping down, then ascending again over the head of a bald eagle, perched in its nest. Sometimes the talons of the raven are bared as it descends in attempt to threaten the eagle away from its nest, and other times it uses its most frightening of noises in an attempt to appear more mighty than he is. The eagle flinches, returns a voice that tells the raven to back off, and perseveres through the seemingless endless taunting and threats. I watch in awe wondering how long the eagle will put up with the taunting, and I consider the  raven’s perseverence wondering when he will tire and finally give up.

As I watch this drama unfolding, my mind wanders to a passage in Nehemiah 6:1-9 and God begins speaking to me:

Nehemiah 6:1-9 (NIV)

1When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

If I were to characterize these people mentioned in the above story, Nehemiah would be the “Eagle” and Sanballat and his friends and aids would represent the “Raven”.

Nehemiah was a Jew who had been in the captivity of the Persian Empire as a result of when Babylon overthrew Jerusalem, burning its temple and city in 586 BC, and carrying off prisoners of war. That empire was then overtaken by the Persians in 539 BC and the Jewish people that remained in Babylon were now servants of Persia’s kingdoms and policies. Nehemiah was one of these men…serving the Persian King but longing for his homeland.

Nehemiah desires to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls and fortify the city again, as now many Jews have been given permission to return to their homeland. The King of Persia, Cyrus, agrees to let Nehemiah go and accomplish this dream. The King even helps fund the mission and provide materials for Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.

Even with the  King’s permission, the King’s resources and Nehemiah’s vision, discouragement and threats were in abundance. Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, and the other men of enemy nations of Israel, were hard at work to discourage Nehemiah from finishing what he started. They taunted, they threatened, they bared their talons as it were in order to remove Nehemiah from his assignment. I love Nehemiah’s response from verses 3 and 4:

“3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.”

Like the eagle on its nest, carrying on a great work, the raven’s attempts at dissuading it were met with a profound reality: “I am carrying on a great project, why should I leave this thing I am created and destined to do, in order to accomodate your threats?”

Then again, the enemy sent a provocative rumor in hopes to engage Nehemiah in battle over the purported lie, to which Nehemiah responds in verses 8 and 9:

8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Knowing the “Raven” was hoping to weaken his resolve and to wear him out with trouble, the “Eagle” considered his strength against the Raven, but did not rely on it to finish the task. Nehemiah prays, “Now strengthen my hands.”

Nehemiah knows he is on a God-sized assignment. That reality alone fuels his passion to finish, but he also knows that his dreams and desires are fires lit by God Himself, and God Himself would have to sustain them. Nehemiah had the strength of the eagle with the King’s resources, help, and permission, but his perseverance in the midst of persecution and threat, he credits to the presence of God in his life, and the purposes of God in his work.

Eventually the raven I am watching from my deck becomes tired of his threats not being taken seriously, and retires to a branch on a nearby tree. Squawking and cawing loudly as he perches, he takes a few more minutes to make noise, and eventually flies away unsuccessful.

Then another scripture comes to mind:

Isaiah 40:31(NIV)

31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

And I pray, “Lord strengthen my hands.”

 

*Photograph courtesy: Laural Sabin photography:Click here to see more of her work.

Time Enough for One More

Yesterday was Easter, and after our family returned from church, I put into gear my “Easter Day Plans.” With only a few members of our family home for this holiday, I planned to sit down as a family and watch Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. So after our meal was over, and after venturing out on an egg hunt, I grabbed my box of kleenex, and we settled down in our living room to watch the Easter Story.

I had watched this movie when it first came out years ago, and I remember just lingering in my theatre seat with my head in my hands weeping for at least 10 minutes after the credits rolled. The severity of the torture, mockery, and beatings that Jesus endured and that this Hollywood film could portray, was more than I could take in, and the fact that He endured it all for me was overwhelming.

Watching the movie with my kids, I was peppered with questions as the story they had heard in bits and pieces over the years was now played out in a timeline of harrowing events. Between my bawling and nose wiping, I would explain who various characters were and what their roles were in the moments leading up to the crucifixion.

Over and over in scripture, when you read about the life of Jesus, you read about a man who was moved with compassion. He was constantly followed by crowds, and every crowd had needs–lots of them. Every effort He made to withdraw to solitary places to re-fuel, pray, rest, was met with one person, if not 5000+ persons, begging for His help or for a moment of His time.

The introvert in me cringes at the idea of having a super busy day, then finally relaxing with my family only to be barraged by a crowd of people all needing something that only I can provide them. And yet, this is Jesus on a daily basis. Even more striking is that those who insisted on His help, despite their verbal or societal persecution and isolation, always  received it. I’m talking about Blind Bartemaeus who shouted and shouted on the side of the road: “Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me!” And as the people around him told him to shut up, he cried out all the more. Bartemaeus received his sight back that day. (Mark 10:46-52)

Others would include the Caananite woman who insisted that if Jesus even dropped “crumbs” of His goodness in her direction, it would be enough to heal her daughter who was tormented of an evil spirit…and He did, and the daughter was healed. (Mark 7:24-30)

So, we are watching the final hours of Jesus’ Passion played out on the screen, and true to His character, even completely bludgeoned, dehydrated and weak, Jesus takes time. Dangling by nails on a cross suspended high in the air, a thief on one side of him cries out for mercy. If ever there was a “bad time” to ask for help from someone, this moment would seem to be the epoch. It’s been a long day…the kind of day where death is the welcomed ending in order to end the suffering. He is nailed to a tree for goodness sake!! What can Jesus do for a man like that at a moment like this??

I begin weeping again, as Jesus, full of compassion looks in the direction of the thief and comforts him with the assurance that He heard his cries for mercy, He loves and values the man, he forgives him, and He will personally see to it that when his last breath is taken, he will be joining Jesus in Paradise.

With His last ounces of oxygen, with the final moments of enough energy to speak, Jesus takes time for one more. Confirming again that God places a high value on people, affirming again that those who cry out to Him are heard, and that He answers, Jesus shows us what the Father looks like even while hanging on a cross. It’s some kind of beautiful madness.

Through a faltering voice I tell each of my kids in the living room, “This is the Jesus we have given our lives to. This is the Jesus we are living for. Whatever it may cost us to follow him, He is worth it all.” And I weep again, in awe of the God who has the time to answer my cries for help, and is moved with compassion for everyone He has made.

If ever there was a good time for you to call on Him, it is now. “Jesus, have mercy on me!”

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The Singing of Birds

Spring tells the story of hope reborn, and good things yet to come.

The Musings of Cate Morris

Homer SunriseThey’re back.  The silence of winter has been broken by the melodies of songbirds.

The bleakness of long dark days, that wane into long dark cold nights has been interrupted–even changed.

From the boughs of spruce trees and the barren limbs of alders and cottonwood come the melodic tones of the songbirds, who having completed their long migrations from the southern hemisphere, have perched in my trees to welcome my mornings.

It’s another sign of the promise of a faithful God who promised that there would be seasons, and that seasons would change.  For every Winter there is a Spring, and for every dark night there is a promise of new light, warmth, and fresh beginnings of a day full of new mercy.

The ground beneath my feet softens, changing from frozen earth to thin layers of mud that gradually become deeper layers of moisture and soil as the ice melts…

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Ummm….What was the Assignment?

I am reminded of this blog from seven years ago, as I prepare to be a part of a commissioning service for people called into ministry. I am reminded over and over that our assignment is about preparing a bride.

The Musings of Cate Morris

I envision the role of a worship leader similar to Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24 who was commissioned by his master to find and prepare a bride for his son Isaac.   Abraham bestowed gifts on the servant in order that the servant would lavish them on the bride-to-be.  Abraham entrusted him with the task of finding her, giving her gifts, and securing her heart for Isaac.

I’m sure the servant looked rather decked-out and wealthy as he traveled into town with Abraham’s many camels.  He himself may have even looked attractive with his determined demeanor.  Maybe the servant himself was a single man who hadn’t married and needed a wife as well.  I don’t know.

Several things you don’t see in this servant is a desire to flirt with the bride-to-be.  He doesn’t flatter her with stories about himself, or spread his fame using the position he has been given. …

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Who Told You?

I’ve blogged on this subject before in different ways, but as faithfully as I add cream and sugar to my coffee every morning, the principles of what I am writing about, I add to my life almost daily, and I wanted to share them with you.

Life is 5% about what happens to you, and 95% about how you interpret what happened to you. (I just made up that statistic). Out of how you interpret the events of your life flow your actions. Your responses to life flow out of what you believe to be true about your circumstances, and what you believe to be true about the resources you have to overcome them.

Life happens. Daily. Events, story lines, tragedies, triumphs, and blank stares happen to us on a regular basis, and we are quickly swept up in the narratives. Without time to process or think through everything, we move ahead, or backwards in our lives in familiar directions for the sake of ease, and when we find ourselves stuck, or in a rut, or unable to move forward, this is where these three principles began to ask me questions.

In Genesis chapter 3:1-11 we read the story of the first sin. Adam and Eve, (who had every right to think to themselves, “We are the only ones here, what does it matter what we do? It’s not like we are hurting anyone.”) disobeyed God and ate from the tree he told them not to eat from. Up until this moment, their narratives of life were interpreted through the lens of a good God who spoke with them daily, walked with them, and taught them everything they needed to know. Their “Resource” for life was unlimited, so no challenge was to great, and no questions nagged as doubts, until the introduction of another “voice”–Satan himself.

The introduction of the voice of Satan now created a new line of thinking…doubts. Lots of them. That doubt led to action–the sin. That sin led to another voice–theirs, but not the voice they communicated with God with before that was full of trust, expectancy, and delight, but a new voice that looked at their nakedness, their insufficiencies, their guilt, and clothed them with shame. And so they hid.

Have you ever been there? Hiding?

You are no longer answering the phone calls, replying to the texts, showing up to events you are invited to, making excuses as to why you can’t “get together” with people, spending more time in bed and solitude than usual?

This is where the first question of God to Adam and Eve comes to rouse me. “Where are you?”

Stop and allow God to ask this question of you right now. “Where are you?” Are you hiding? Are you making excuses? Are you hedging, fudging, hinting but not communicating? Are you disconnecting? Are you reaching for an addiction to numb yourself?

When you have finally answered that question with, “I am hiding”, the second question comes to unravel the secret.  “Who told you?”

God asks Adam and Eve “Who told you you were naked?”

You see, discerning the voices that drive our decisions is critical if we are going to come out of our hiding and into fellowship. “Who told you?” becomes the litmus test for truth, and gives us the ability to evaluate the voices and their validity in our lives. Even if the voice we are listening to has been in our head for years, (childhood memories, parents, school friends/foes, siblings), we still need to pull the narratives out into the light, and with them in full sight answer God’s question.

Once I have answered that question, I ask one final question of my narrative and situation, “Is this something God would say to me?” And if the answer is “no”, then I need to go to God to get His narrative. I go to scripture.

When I say I apply these principles almost daily, I am not exaggerating. It is something I have to make a part of my life to keep me moving in the direction of God’s goodness. It’s the means by which I access his reservoire of help and resource and hope for my life. It’s how I retrain my soul to hear His voice above all other voices, and make courageous decisions with His help. Faith comes by “hearing” His voice, and through the Word of God we “hear”. (Romans 10:17) Then faith is walked out by trusting that voice, and depending entirely upon His resources to take each step.

If you are in need of tools and life principles to help move you from a place of being stuck, I would like to offer these three questions to get you started. Make it a daily practice and begin to learn how to differentiate the “voices” in your head. What they tell you will determine your outlook, and your outlook will determine your actions.

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Memoires of His Presence

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Nine months ago, I stood in the room of 150 international, evangelism students in Orlando, Florida gathered to hear the Word of God and to join together in worship. In one of the sessions we began singing “I Exalt Thee”. Tears ran down my face like they did when I was nine years old standing in the front row of the church I grew up in as “Living Sound”, a ministry of Don Moen and Terry Law, led our congregation in worship with the same song. I felt the faithfulness of God who has carried me all of these years as I stood singing. My mind began to wander back…

All of these years…

I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five years old. My children’s pastor held a special crusade for kids and preached to us about eternity. About heaven, hell, God, Satan, the blood of Jesus and the forgiveness of our sin. I knew then that I wanted to spend eternity with God and that in order for me to do that, I needed to accept His Son Jesus, and have Him come into my heart and be the Lord of my Life. I was five. I went forward to receive Jesus in my heart, and I never looked back.

I can’t remember a day that I did not love the Lord. I can’t remember a day as a child when I wondered if He really loved me. I blogged before about my home life as a young girl, so you have got to know that life was not lovely for me or my family. I cried out to God at the altars of our church (which were the carpeted stairs leading up to the platform) when they would open them up for prayer. I prayed alot as a kid. The smell of carpet became the familiar place I would return to again and again as a child, and throughout my lifetime. I felt God meet me at those altars, and assure me of His love and hope for me. The presence of God became so precious to me even then. He saw me, He heard me, He answered me.

I was nine when “John Jacobs and the Power Team” came to my church to perform stunts of human strength, and preach the gospel. In the midst of muscular men breaking bricks with their heads, and blowing up hot water bottles until they burst, they spoke about the grace and forgiveness of God, and about the Holy Spirit whom God sent to empower us and baptize us with a fiery zeal to accomplish God’s purposes.

It was a Thursday night, and the promise was, after the “Power Team” concluded their presentations, anyone who wanted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit could gather in the room behind the sanctuary, and John Jacobs would pray with us to receive what God had given in Acts chapter 2 of the Bible. I was quick to join the group that formed in that room.

John read to us out of the Book of Acts, how the disciples were gathered together in a room waiting for the Promised Holy Spirit that Jesus told them about who would “endue them with power from on high”. How there was a sound “as of a mighty rushing wind that filled the house where they were seated, and flaming tongues of fire descended on each one, and they were baptized in the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4). He told us, like Peter said, in Acts 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

No one layed hands on me. I wasn’t sprinkled with anything, or given a list of requirements. This baptism was a gift from God, just like salvation is a gift, and all I needed to do was receive it. We lifted our hands in prayer and asked the Lord to baptize us with His Holy Spirit, and we began to worship. “Halleluia! Halleluia! Halleluia!” And soon my “Halleluia’s” became words I did not recognize, as I wept again in a strong presence of the Lord as the Holy Spirit baptized me and spoke through me in an unknown tongue. I was nine years old.

I knew what it was like to feel like I was in the presence of God as a child, but this Baptism in the Holy Spirit let me know what it felt like to have God’s presence inside of me. It was glorious! The scripture came alive that the “Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.”(Romans 8:26) I understood what it meant to have the Holy Spirit praying through me. Suddenly my prayer life took on a new dimension. When I didn’t know what to pray for, I would ask the Holy Spirit to pray through me and I would lift my voice in the language God gave me that night in the room behind the sanctuary where I gathered with other believers to receive that Baptism. It was a baptism that has marked my life. I understood that God lived in me. I began to see that God moves through me, and that God has committed Himself to me for the rest of my life–into life everlasting. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

I have been growing in this relationship with the Lord all of my life. I am 43 now. I know Who lives in me. I know What I carry. I know the Power at work within me, and the authority I have to bring God’s presence into any room. That is my honor, and that is His Glory. I will live to make Him known.

As we lifted our voices singing “I Exalt Thee” in that room in Orlando, Florida, I stood in God’s presence once again, and thanked Him for the heritage of faith He built in me, and for the joy and pleasure of serving Him with my whole life. I can’t think of anything sweeter on earth than His Presence, and I want to introduce you to Him too.