A Man You Would Write About

I was in high school when the Contemporary Christian group “4 Him” came out with an album called “Face the Nation”, and my local radio station played many of their songs. It quickly became a favorite album, but one song in particular arrested my attention.

The writer of that song, Billy Simon, would later become a songwriting mentor to me as I would record my first album “From Here” in 2007, and that connection to him was made because of this song and the impact it had on me. That might be a blog for later, but for now I want to tell you about this song that still shapes my heart and sharpens my focus.

The song is called “A Man You Would Write About”. The lyrics talked about how all through the ages of time, God would choose men to lead His people, to hear His voice and to speak what they heard God speak. The idea was presented in the song that “if the Bible had no closing page, and still was being written to this day, I want to be a man you would write about–a thousand years from now they could read about your servant of choice, in whom you found favor, a man who heard your voice.”

I realized the song was sung by four men, written by a man, and highlighted men from scripture in its lyrics, but I also recognized that I could be included in this song as a woman. It wasn’t a gender-specific lyric, but it was a personal one, and I easily made it the anthem of my life.

Someone who found God’s favor, who heard His voice, and who became an echo of those words–that was something I could be. My gender, my age, my hometown, my family situation, my education were not obstacles or deterrents to my ability to know God and hear Him. In fact, probably all of those factors became part of the drive of my heart to know God better, to do those things that please Him, and to say the things He says.

I want to be a friend of God.

It’s not so much that I want to be remembered in books. That song certainly inspires me to want to live that way, but the desire to have God say, “She’s with me,” is one of the greatest honors of living. To be a friend of God, to be someone He trusts–wow!

I’ll write about His goodness. I’ll write about His faithfulness. I will declare His greatness with every breath I have left. In Jesus, God became the “Man I would write about.” And through His Spirit I might one day be.

Book Release Coming!

It’s been almost four years in the making, but my very first book is almost ready for the printers!! I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write my first book about, and I decided I would write it on one of the biggest battles I have fought over my lifetime, and what I have learned along the way.

Not every thought that runs through our heads belongs to us. Satan has plans to destroy every person God has created, and he works on sabotaging us from the inside out if he cannot succeed in killing us altogether. So, thoughts are seeds he plants, and waters, and re-enforces in hopes that they will take root in our souls and begin our undoing.

My battles have been against suicide and depression. They started in my younger years, and have reared their heads at varying points in my life. Fostered by difficult life circumstances as a young woman, my thought life became the hot bed for the enemy to plant many lies that it has taken me years to identify, denounce, and walk away from. And that is what my book is about.

There was a day I listened to a sermon about “The Siege of Samaria”, which is an Old Testament Story from 2 Kings 16-17, and there was something in the message that grabbed my attention and gave me courage to fight against the messages of death Satan was throwing at me.  It was the beginning of a journey and the beginning of a life-transformation that I am still walking out. This book tells Samaria’s story and mine.

Every year I am asked to teach on this topic, and so I thought putting it into a small book could be a way to keep the conversations going and offer help and hope for others who stand where I have stood.

The title of my book is:  Beyond the Siege Walking Away from the Enemy. It should be releasing mid-October. I pray that if you struggle with depression and/or suicide, or know someone who does, that this book will be a catalyst for deliverance and healing.

I look forward to sharing it with you soon! Stay tuned, and I will keep you posted!

Risen and Alive

The silence of the grave seemed deafening to the disciples. Everything they had seen Jesus do, every word He preached, every miracle He performed met their end on the cross. He didn’t come off of the cross with power and authority, he was carried off—a limp, bloodied, lifeless shell of the man he was.

It seemed that Jesus was at the mercy of evil without the ability to stop it. Grave clothes seemed to be the triumph of death and they wrapped him as they had wrapped Lazarus. They wrapped Him as every other man or woman or child who died to be placed in a tomb for the final goodbye.


The tomb was sealed with a stone too large for a man to move alone, then guarded heavily by the Roman sentry. Now off-limits and out of sight—Jesus…


Saturday passed in disbelief, confusion, fear and grief for his disciples. It was too silent. The death was too final. Their future was too uncertain. Nothing was the same, they were forever ruined. They couldn’t bring Him back—Jesus…


This would have been the golden opportunity for a man who just carried the weight of the world through a gruesome crucifixion to exit the world that killed him. He didn’t need to even consider looking back. He could have ended His relationships, re-considered His promises, disappeared to never return. But Jesus didn’t take the opportunity of the grave to exit our lives and leave us to our sin. He didn’t stay dead. He never intended to.


The death of Jesus sent an immediate tremor through hell for the victory Satan thought he had secured became a nightmare of epic proportions as the Son of God, no longer bound by flesh and blood entered hell. He wasn’t invited, but He needed no permission. Preaching liberty to the captives, and taking the keys of death, hell and the grave, Jesus dethroned the Prince of Darkness, stripping him of all power and authority, and rendered Satan’s armies defenseless. Taking captivity captive, Jesus triumphed over the power of hell leaving it a limp, lifeless, shell.


Then the Spirit who descended on Jesus like a dove at the River Jordan descended again into the tomb. Into the tightly wrapped lifeless corpse of the Son of God blew the breath of the Holy Spirit. Every cell in Jesus’ body responded and transformed. What was dead became living. What was broken became whole. What was finite took on the body of the Infinite, and what was rendered powerless through lifelessness burst from the grave with a resonance that rippled across time and reached into the future to raise lives from the grave who hadn’t even yet begun to live. Jesus was alive!


His raising from the dead meant that everything He promised He would fulfill.  His raising from the dead meant all power belonged to Him and Him alone. His raising from the dead meant hope could not be killed, and miracles were meant to be our new normal. His raising from the dead was another installment on the promise He made to us—”because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)clouds

Solo Flights

I stood with my hand over my heart in front of the flag waiting for the Soloist to begin her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” It’s a nerve-racking feat to sing a song with such a range of high and low notes in front of a crowd of people, and I’m sure this moment was no picnic for the lady as she began.  She didn’t mean to, I’m sure, but she sang in at least nine keys before the song was over. Every line seemed to jump up a half step or down a whole step musically, and I just closed my eyes hoping it would be over soon. The gracious audience applauded at the song’s end, and the sporting event commenced. And I got to thinking…

Why don’t we the audience sing “The Star Spangled Banner” together anymore at sporting events? Why is it relegated to a Soloist? Granted, some soloists can sing any song so well you think you were transported to another heavenly dimension when they are done, and I love to hear good singing, believe me; but there is something missing–something big and uniting missing when the voices of many are silenced for the one.

I thought about the most moving moments in the movie “The Sound of Music”  when Captain Von Trapp leads the Austrian audience in the singing of their anthem “Edelweiss”. Their collective voices joined together in a common affection for the country they held dear, and it was beautiful.

It’s not just the National Anthem that has been turned over to soloists. I’ve visited many churches in my lifetime and have watched a trend in worship music move from the collective voices of the many to the soloing voice on stage.  Congregations aren’t singing like they used to. I know there are multiple factors: new songs, no written music to follow, multiple lyrics, keys that aren’t congregation friendly, syncopations  that are tricky, vocal runs, octave jumps, and an inability to try to master the melody before its three minute run is over. All of these things can contribute to a worship experience that is only entered into by the ones on stage who rehearsed for hours before presenting.

I’ve attended conferences where the worship band for that night is recording their new album live, and I am part of the live experience in the audience, and that is fun except when I don’t know any of the songs, and an hour passes with me being a spectator instead of a worshiper. Like a kid waiting to enter a double-dutch jump-roping session, I’m looking for an opening, but can’t get in. So I just close my eyes and sing my own song to God in my heart.

One of my children told me the other day that they struggled to learn a new song in church, and just gave up singing. I said, “Imagine what the older generation is going through. Worship leaders don’t sing their songs anymore in church.”

“I never thought about that!” they said.

How can we create connection,  shared fellowship and story by soloing? Don’t misunderstand, I have been a soloist and singer most all of my life. I love to sing, and I love to hear singers. We need soloists.  It’s just that there are some pieces of community where the collective voice has gone silent, and almost extinct, and that bothers me. I’m glad my kids here professionals and soloists sing the National Anthem, but they also need to hear the voices of their neighbors, and the American Veterans singing that song together even if their voices aren’t as polished. My kids need to see and hear their grandparent’s generation singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and watch them get caught up in the goodness of a God that has carried them through the years, as badly as they need to hear their favorite worship band sing their newest release. Both are valuable. Together they tell the story of God’s goodness. Together they give depth and meaning to the lyric and rhyme.

Wiser people have written on this subject, and I can’t begin to articulate the nuances of our culture shifts like others can. My friend Manuel Luz, a worship pastor has written several articles like this one, and I would recommend reading his thoughts on the aging out of worshipers, and other cultural hurdles in our churches on his site: www. manuelluz.com .

Honestly, I don’t have all of the solutions, and I certainly have no desire to pick on churches or sporting events. Our culture is shifting in front of our eyes, and there is a lot to keep up with, but I do want to get a conversation going. So, I would love to hear your thoughts on these things. Do you notice the silence of the collected voice? Does it bother you? How has your church or organization dealt with these issues?


That Eccentric Uncle the Holy Spirit

fireWhat I am about to write is an analogy. I feel I must give a disclaimer for any of my relatives who may read this, and let them know that this analogy is not a personal one. The character talked about here does not have a present day twin in my family nor bears any resemblance to relations.

With that, I begin…

Maybe you know what I am about to talk about–those family get-togethers that are always awkward. There is always that one relative that makes things odd. I’ll call him the rich, eccentric uncle. You know you need to invite him because he’s family, and you want to invite him because he’s wealthy, and you want to stay on his good side in case you need some big cash someday. Certainly you want to be included in his will.

But really?? Why does he always have to be so odd when he comes?  He disrupts tradition, protocol, table manners, and re-routes conversations. He tells jokes at inopportune times, tells stories that make people cry, or sits eerily silent. Overall, he keeps everyone nervously guessing what he will do next. He’s not a bad guy, in fact he is really really nice. He’s just not “one of us” really, and we are all indifferent to him.

When I think about the Holy Spirit, this is the best analogy I can come up with to explain how the church of today treats Him. He is the Rich, Eccentric Uncle. I mean, He is the Third Person of the Trinity–so He is God, and He is close to the Father and to Jesus, so we really should invite Him to our gatherings. He has some great qualities, we’ve been told, and should we ever get into a pinch, we might need Him, so let’s not tick Him off. But really?? Why is His entrance into a room so…so…messy?  He doesn’t seem to care about tradition, or service order. He falls on that one with joy and they burst into laughter. On another He pours out healing, and they begin to weep…sometimes uncontrollably. Demons manifest in His presence, causing people to appear unruly. It’s as if He has no manners. Some people begin to cry out for mercy and forgiveness in His presence, while others begin confessing their sins and changing their behavior. Some people scream as if they are being baptized in fire. It really gets awkward.

We’ve read about “Doubting Thomas”, the disciple of Jesus who needed physical, concrete evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead, and asked to touch his wounded hands and side. A bit arrogantly, we might look back and scratch our heads at how Thomas could have been with Jesus for so many years, and still had doubt that Jesus was who He said He was. We are shocked that the Pharisees didn’t recognize Jesus as Messiah and welcome Him with open arms. Why was it so hard to see who Jesus really was? Wasn’t it obvious?

I believe that the same doubt and judgement that the disciples and Pharisees had is the  same reason you and I mis-judge the Holy Spirit. He is unconventional. He comes with His own agenda. His purpose is to fulfill the will of the Father, to make Jesus known. Like Eliazer, Abraham’s servant, His job is to prepare a bride for a Groom. He doesn’t bow to our traditions, or coddle our pride. He doesn’t answer to our protocol, or take our suggestions. He is God. He is on mission.

How can we draw near to a God we are indifferent to?

Do you remember Him? He is the gift that Jesus gave after He ascended into heaven. He is the One Jesus told us we needed desperately, and if Jesus didn’t go, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come. Jesus said that John baptized in water but that the Holy Spirit would baptize with fire. This Gift was so necessary, so vital, so essential to our survival and victory that Jesus commanded His disciples to put all of their life plans on pause and wait for the Holy Spirit. They were to gather in an upper room, and stay there until He came. (Acts chapter 1)

I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect when waiting for the Holy Spirit. I mean, Jesus came with skin on. He was a Jew, and grew up among them. What would the Holy Spirit look like? Would they recognize Him? Would he come knocking or should they leave the front door unlocked? Should someone get extra food to feed Him when He arrived? Where would He live? I’m sure the questions were many. But these disciples were now finally convinced that Jesus was God, and they knew that Jesus had something to give them that they could not afford to miss. They refused to let doubt, or judgment rob them from the Gift, and they made space in their schedules in order to make room for Him.

Why isn’t the same value placed on the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer today? Why aren’t we earnestly expectant for the Holy Spirit’s involvement in our lives? What about the lives of our children? Why do we talk about him like a comforter only maybe a step better than a couple of beers, a good movie, a long walk, or an illegal drug? Why do we value Him as someone we might need in a pinch but not really sure why? Why do we blame Him for the weird we see, but refuse to credit Him for the transformation He produces?

If we really knew who He was, we would sell everything we had if it could buy everything He is. We would stand in line for hours, days, or weeks to receive what He has for us. We would make sure our children knew Him and received everything from Him that He has to give them. We would make Him the Guest of Honor, and change our lives to revolve around His. If we really understood that He is the Power of God at work in us causing all options in our lives to change by producing miracles, healing, and deliverance; and if we knew that He is the Wisdom of God giving us power, help, clarity, invention, innovation, ideas, art, beauty, and creativity we would stop making our church services about ourselves, and instead turn them into “Upper Rooms” that were all about Him.

If we fully trusted His character, we would develop the most intimate of friendships with Him. Like John who laid his head on Jesus’ chest, we would so intermingle our hearts with the Holy Spirit’s heart that we would be afraid to offend Him more than we would fear offending others. We would spend our waking hours in conversations with Him, and our sleeping hours in the rest that His presence brings. We would learn what pleases the Father, and we would see people around us through the Holy Spirit’s lens. We would be moved with compassion to touch the untouchable, reach the unreachable, and love the unloveable.

If we really understood what the Holy Spirit possesses, we would stop treating Him like a crutch to be used when needed, but would understand He is the fountain of life that we need to drink from daily. We wouldn’t start a day without Him, and wouldn’t lose Him in the evening. We would make withdrawals on His power and heal the sick, cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and preach the Gospel.

What happened to the Holy Spirit in our churches? We judged Him odd. We don’t like the kinds of crowds He attracts, and we don’t want our kids exposed to weird. We judged Him unfair–when we were younger we saw Him give gifts to people that we wanted, but didn’t receive. We judged Him unfit–He doesn’t quite mesh with our churches DNA, we are going for a more seeker-friendly model where people aren’t uncomfortable in our services.

If there is one clarion call I could give to the churches of my generation it would be this:  “Sell it all to have the Holy Spirit!” Our children don’t need comfort; they need power. Our cities don’t need “nice” they need transformation. Our families don’t need entertainment, they need a baptism of fire. The Holy Spirit is the promise of all of these things. He is here presently. He is the fullness of God. He is a gift, and you and I need to receive Him.



The Spirit of Simeon

Tucked away in the story of the birth of Jesus are stories of other amazing men and women of faith. One such man was an older man named Simeon who spent his life in eager anticipation of seeing the Hope of Israel.

Luke 2:22-35

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There is something powerful that happens when one generation eagerly invests their life and attention into the promise of the next generation coming after them. When the older, wiser generation refuses to let their life end before they have invested their resources and time in seeing the promises of God fulfilled in those younger than them, it creates a powerful heritage and momentum that is calculated over centuries.

Simeon was a man eagerly anticipating and watching for the promises of God to be fulfilled for Israel, and he was watching for the Messiah. He was vigilant in his pursuit of the Hope God had promised.  Every child born, and every person who operated in any godly passion and authority was on his radar. He didn’t want to miss what God was doing.

It’s easy to look at a politically troubled world and say “It’s all going to hell in a hand-basket!” It’s quite another to eagerly watch for the goodness of God His promises being walked out in the next generation. The joy of being a part of that promise, and not wanting to die until you see the fruit of that promise in those coming after you is something that many people miss.

There is a temptation after you have lived a full life to put your motor into park. It’s not really your responsibility anymore what happens with the world, because you already did your part; but what if you could make your life part of the legacy of God’s goodness by continuing to look for the goodness of God in those younger than you, and affirming, nurturing and encouraging them?

What if you, who carry the promises of God, passed them on to a generation who needed to hear them? What if you could prophesy hope, victory, and comfort to a world unsure of its future? That’s what Simeon did.

Even though baby Jesus was the carrier of the ultimate hope for the world and would likely not understand Simeon’s words, it was to the benefit of Mary and Joseph to hear the promise declared. It was an historical moment for Israel, and you and me that Simeon watched and waited for this Messiah, and then declared the promise of God without shame or reservation when he recognized  him in the temple that day.

It is to the benefit of your family, community, city, state, nation, that you prophesy (speak the words of God) to the next generation. In even 50 years from now when your children’s children are questioning if God is real, it is your story and mine that they will reflect on for their decisions. So tell your redemption story. Tell it over and over. Tell then next generation that God is faithful and will walk them through everything life throws at them. Tell them that God answers prayer and shuts the mouths of lions, rescues from the pit, redeems from slavery, and recreates from ashes. Tell them there is nothing impossible with God, and they have the power to change the world with God alive in them. Tell them that their hearts will break, and be filled in the process, and the fruit of their lives will continue to encourage and strengthen weak hearts for generations to come. Tell them.

Let the life of Simeon inspire you to be looking for God’s goodness in every generation you are alive to see, then boldly declare God’s promises again and again!SimeonPainting by Ron DiCianni


Highlights from Lagos

I have probably started four blogs so far trying to encapsulate the experiences of being in Lagos, Nigeria for Reinhard Bonnke’s Farewell Crusade, and I just don’t know where to start. Many of you gave towards my trip, and I want to say “Thank you thank you thank you!” from the bottom of my heart! This trip was a step into promises God gave me as a young girl, and I relished every minute! So, for you, I will write my personal highlights, and later I will publish the blogs regarding the event overall. Grab a snack and open your heart to the Holy Spirit as you read!

Since the first day I saw a televised snippet of a Reinhard Bonnke crusade in Africa, I have not been able to get the images out of my head—-thousands and thousands of precious people hungry to know God, standing for hours in crusades after having walked hours or days, receiving Jesus and being transformed and full of joy and expectation of the new life God gave them and the life hereafter. I was twelve or thirteen when I saw my first bit of a crusade on Christian television. From that day, and for all these years since, I have prayed for Africa. Nigeria was one of those countries I prayed for since my teen years. My earnest desire was to go one day.

Just touching down into Lagos, and exiting the airplane, my heart began to burst. Tears welled up in my eyes. What an amazing God! He was giving me the gift of seeing the people for whom I had prayed for so many years. I got to stand on Nigerian soil, smell Nigerian air, and look into the eyes of a people God gave me a love for, yet I had never met. He is such a generous God!! This trip was a gift!

Then there were the crowds–just like the ones burned into my mind, and the ones I have watched via YouTube– and I was standing among them in the hot Nigerian sun waiting to hear the simple, yet powerful Gospel being preached by the ministry team of Christ for All Nations. I worshiped and danced with the locals as we praised God on the soggy, sand-covered crusade grounds. I bowed my face into that same soil as I heard the 600k+ voices singing “Agnus Dei” and we all declared “Worthy is the Lamb”! It was a Revelation chapters 4 and 5 scene. Then came the preaching of the Gospel. The simple message, that we have all sinned and become separated from God, but that God wanted to bridge that gap we created, and He did so by sending His Son, Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin–through death on a cross, and through His death, His shed blood, and His resurrection, we are free from the bondage of sin if we receive Jesus’ payment for our sin. The door to the heart of God swung wide open for us, and now we are adopted as sons and daughters, with a promise of life forever with God–never to have a moment without Him. Even knowing how the message goes, I couldn’t wait to hear the ending! The invitation! God didn’t give His invitation just to the rich, or powerful, the good, or the lovely. He invited all of us! He died for all of us!! I would stand in the presence of thousands of people who would hear the Gospel and for the first time in their life give their hearts to God and be set free from the torments of sin, and the fear of evil, the guilt and shame of their mistakes. They would instead receive hope, deliverance, healing, and a brand new life. It was a joyous occasion every day of the crusade!

Then there was the moment I knew I was there for.  Daniel Kolenda was preaching on the Blood of Jesus. He began to break the curses of witchcraft, of superstition, of diseases, and illness, of sin, and things began happening. Wandering to the front of the crowd, and standing in front of the stage came a young woman, possessed by demons, thrashing and yelling as Daniel continued to pray and declare victory. My heart went out to her immediately. I felt God tell me to “go and love her like a mother and set her free”. Christ for all Nations trains pastors and local leaders to do the ministry in the crusades, so I hesitated to make a move so as to not interrupt protocol. It wasn’t long before a crowd gathered around this young woman, and many began praying for her and casting the demons out. She fell to the ground, and many cloistered around her for quite a long time. It looked like there was already plenty of prayer ministry, and no space for me to enter the group, so I waited. A half hour passed, and the woman was still thrashing and screaming as the last of the demons tried desperately to keep their home in her. I noticed there were only three people gathered around her then, and I noticed that the young woman was tired as she sat in the wet sand, being puppeted by the demons inside of her. I heard God again, “go, love her like a mother, and set her free.” So I rushed to the woman’s side. I first picked up her hand and held it in mine and began to stroke it.

“It’s okay, Baby, God is setting you free. You can let this thing go, it doesn’t belong to you.” I said. Others were still praying for her and commanding the devils out, and I moved in closer and put my arms around her and hugged her close. I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead, and began to speak peace to her body. She was still wrestling the demons inside and began to choke. She grabbed my hand and put it on her throat saying, “They are choking me!” I and the others around her took authority over the demons attempting to choke her, and I layed her head against my chest and told her to rest. She began to vomit, and she pulled away to spit on the ground. When she was done, I pulled her in close again, stroked her hair, and loved her.  It was just a few minutes more, and she was totally free. Peace overtook her body, her eyes no longer held a wild gaze, but were tender and full of gratitude for what Jesus had just done for her. I felt a love her as if she were my own daughter, and I held her and kissed her head.

The crusade had ended some time ago as we all sat in the sand ministering to this woman, and I had to leave to catch the bus that brought me to the crusade grounds. I had to leave. I prayed with her, blessed her, and left her to the ministry of local pastors as I headed to my bus. I cried the rest of the way to the hotel in gratitude again of the mercy and compassion of God who loves us enough to see us free, and allows a mama from Alaska to be part of His plans and purposes.

This, along with meeting people from all over the world who came to be part of this crusade filled my happy tank to the highest level, and then burst. Thank you for your prayers for me, for your encouragement, and for your generous gifts that carried me there and then safely home again. You get to share the blessings I received.



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.

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!”