The Weeping

All I know is that I am to run to Mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

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I was only 12 or 13 years old when the couple that I regularly babysat for were called to the mission field. He was a night stocker of groceries at the local grocery chain and slept during the days, and she worked at a local bank during daytime business hours.

They lived in a modest house in my hometown, and both worked hard to make ends meet and build their new life as a now family of four. I never asked them about their “American Dreams”, but perhaps that doesn’t matter, because I instead saw what happens to a person when God gives them a dream. They weep.

Their “Call” came through an introduction to a foreign nation to a foreign people by a missionary. This missionary shared his heart. He shared his love for his people. And my friends, Steve and Andrea were gripped to the core with a knowing that those people in Thailand, were to be “their” people and they were to sell all they had and move to Thailand.

I don’t know if I’d ever seen a grown man cry like Steve cried. His 6 foot, 6 inch frame would shake and tears would fall as the love for the people God had just put on their hearts began to grow and enlarge their capacity. His wife Andrea also was so overcome by the pulling of her heart to this nation they had never lived in, and people they did not yet fully know, and she would cry as one waiting to be reuinited with her family.

They began to ask, “How long do we need to continue to remain in America when God had clearly moved our hearts to Thailand?” They cried out for Thailand in their prayers. They spent their meal times fasting and praying for this thing that God had called them to. And in doing all of this, I watched them change before my eyes.

When they sold their home and temporarily moved in to an old farm house in a remote part of the area they discovered that it was infested with insects due to its long tenure without tenants. This home gave them more opportunity to save more money towards their mission goal, and as Andrea would smash spiders in the house, and chase off garter snakes, she would say, “I’m training for Thailand!”

The “Call” of God on a person’s life begins to change them. His desires become the gloves that the hands of the one “called” fit into. His heartbeat is the One that they hear when they lay their head down on the pillow at night. His longing for His people becomes the ache and the tears that run down the faces of those who have said, “Yes, I will go.” And suddenly their everyday life seems to lose focus, and the opportunity to share in the harvest of what God is doing begins to take shape as the only life worth living.

I am in that ache.

I weep more often. I find myself wishing for more time in prayer. I feel His call on my life, and it stirs in me like nothing else can.

My whole life has revolved around ministry since I was a small child. I love the Lord. I love being in His service. I love His church (with all her messes), and I love His servants whom I have had the privilege of joining the yoke with in many countries, states, and cities. And yet…

God spoke to me last Spring and told me to clear my calendar in order to learn some things He wanted to teach me. Not fully knowing what was in store, I answered “yes”, to some events that God used to shift my heart and renew my purpose. I wrote about them in earlier blogs.

I attended “Azusa Now” in Los Angeles, California in April and joined with over 65k people in prayer and intercession for our nation. A month later, I attended Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism, and have been weeping ever since. If you’ve forgotten about how good the news is that the Gospel brings, listen to Reinhard Bonnke preach on the “Jesus and the Adulterous Woman“, and like Paul Manwaring says, “You will fall in love with the Gospel all over again.”

God is renewing His call to me to the harvest fields. To the unsaved who need to know Him, who need to hear Him and who need Mercy and Grace to meet them right where they are. So right now I am in the season of weeping as the “Call” of God becomes formed in me. As I wait for my mission to match my commission, I weep, and pray, and fast.

If you find that my eyes puddle with tears more than they used to, all I can say is “God is forming me, and breaking my heart with the things that break His.” All I know is I am to run to mercy and take as many people as I can with me.

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Conviction vs. Condemnation

The voices are distinguishable if you ask this question: “Which of these voices is offering me hope?”

img_0633When the voices in your head tell you that you can never change, that you will always be “this way”, and that it is not worth trying to change, you are under the influence of condemnation. Condemnation offers no hope, only escapes. But the escapes it offers you you will need to seek rehab to later get free from, because the escapes are not actually a free pass from your pain or trouble, but rather an open prison door inviting you in, until the door slams shut. If you are an addict, you are likely talked to often by the voice of condemnation.

Condemnation reviews your history. All of your mistakes and shortcomings are paraded before you. Every negative word spoken against you or by you becomes the narrative that will now loop in your head like a seige. And if your history isn’t enough, condemnation will drum up your family history. “Remember Uncle Ralph was an addict and mentally unstable. Your dad was a workaholic and your sister ran away at 13 years old….” Condemnation spins its web of futility until you feel that you are destined to be trapped in a mind and body that wars against you and you will never break free.

What then is conviction like?

Conviction is the voice of the Holy Spirit that shines a light on the wrong that we are stumbling in. His voice sounds like hope. It sees us in our trouble and points us to the remedy. “Forgive that person. Turn off that website. Walk away from that argument. Call someone to pray for you. Follow through on your promises. I will help you.”

The voice of conviction never points out a wrong without offering a hope that things can change. It says, “Yes, I see you are drinking again trying to drown your pain, but I have a better solution for you and it includes me walking with you through your pain to the other side. I can redeem all of your lost years and your broken promises. I can give you a new heart, and work all things together for good.”

Conviction does not bring up past wrongs, especially if you have already been forgiven of those. God says He throws our sins into the “Sea of Forgetfulness” when we ask Him for forgiveness. The record is blotted out, and He does not see them anymore. So He will not bring them up. Nor does He use your family tree as a weapon against your hope and future, but, instead, strengthens you to become a new branch that bears fruit, that puts down new roots, and has the potential to create brand new orchards that grow strong and fruitful.

The voices are distinguishable if you ask this question: “Which of these voices is offering me hope?”

 

The “We”

Who is responsible for the condition our nation is in? The anger, vitriol, fear, and war-mongering ideas have now saturated every part of our nation’s fiber so that even our neighbors are looking over their shoulders to be sure they are not a target of the ideologies of their angry “friends”. I believe we have reached a tipping point.

Before you begin to tell me of the corrupt governments, greedy political parties, derelict leadership, and eroding values; before you offer as evidence the quotes, sound-bytes and public statements of candidates, agencies, and major corporations, would you do me a favor? Would you pause and consider these words from scripture?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Emphasis mine)

Before you unfriend that person on Facebook who has opposite views from yours, and before you accuse others of not “being able to handle the truth”, Would you pause and pray this prayer with Daniel, and with me:

Daniel 9:1-19
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Emphasis mine)

Now together, the “we” of this nation, with the stones dropped from our hands, as Jesus writes in the sand of our generation, let’s join the “sinner” at the feet of Jesus. Let’s run to mercy.Three crosses

 

All scripture from the NIV version of the Bible

Thank…

I picked up my cell phone, pushed the home button and said, “Text ‘So and So’.”

Siri responded, “What would you like to say to ‘So and So’?”

I began to articulate my message then paused and waited for Siri to respond.

“Would you like me to send, cancel or edit this text?” Siri asked me.

“Send.” I replied.

“Sending now.” Siri responded.

“Thank yo….” I began to say. Then I stopped myself.

It’s habit for me. A good habit–to be thankful when a task has been performed for me or if I have received assistance from someone. I want to convey my gratitude, and I want it to be received. Often, if I am thanking a person and they do not hear me, I will repeat myself to let them know I am thankful, and that their efforts meant something to me. But what does Siri do with my appreciation?

What about the act of “mindfulness” where we say what we are thankful for and try to appreciate feelings of gratitude? Who is receiving the thanks? siri

If all of life is energy–space+chance+time, and there is no ultimate reality, then my gratitude is an offering to a universe that does not care that I am here, nor did it plan my existence. The act of thankfulness to the universe becomes an empty action devoid of ultimate meaning.  Giving thanks to Siri for sending a text for me amounts to nothing, as there is nothing really meaningful received by Siri or appreciated. Giving thanks is a good practice, but just an empty exercise if there is no recipient.

It seems that we have plenty to be thankful for, but have no one to be thankful to.

One of the beautiful things about humanity is that we are capable of giving and receiving love, thanks, and appreciation. We are wired that way. We excel when we are loved and appreciated, and we deteriorate and languish when we are not loved, or noticed for who we are and the things we do. This is the Image of God stamped into each one of us. It reflects His design and character. When we give and receive love and appreciation, we develop relationships, and out of those relationships flow the most meaningful issues of life.

Thankfulness at its core declares intrinsic value. It is an acknowledgement that the deed performed was understood and recieved as a gift from the one who gave it, thereby stating that the one who gave it has value, and that their gift in some way added value to our lives by our receiving it.

The act of thankfulness is another reason I believe there is a God. The fact that I can recognize the value in another person tells me that people are created with intrinsic value. And if people have intrinsic value, it would have to be because there is a  God who both planned us, loves us,  and cares very much about our existence. He pours out His blessings on purpose, and we in turn “well up” with thankfulness. When we aren’t tossing up words to the space/time continuum, but to a Person–to God, relationship forms. And in a relationship with God we find our deepest meaning and purpose. It is then that we are able to see the beauty and value of those around us He has made in His image, and our gratitude finds a place to both be anchored and freely given.

 

 

God Without a Doubt

I first noticed it in the story of Job. Job is a book of the Bible in the Old Testament that tells us the behind the scenes moments in the life of a man who lived righteously and whose integrity was impeccable, and was the victim of a nefarious plot from Satan himself.

Job 2:2-10

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Did you see it? Look how God speaks about Job. God describes him to Satan as a blameless and upright man who fears God, shuns evil and maintains his integrity. Not only does God accurately describe the character of Job, He speaks as a God who has no doubts about Job. While Satan is looking for the loophole, for the weakness in Job’s character to bring him down, God has a confidence in Job that no one could shake, not even Satan.

From the life stories of Moses, Gideon, Esther, David, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the disciples of Jesus comes a recurring theme of a God who has no doubts about the ones He chooses, or whether or not they will succeed in the thing He is calling them to. We hear these people doubting all over the place, sometimes even pretending they have nothing to do with God (Peter for example), and yet God has an unwavering confidence.

I so want to look at each of these people and say “God chose them because of this or that, like their righteousness,” as in Job’s case, but more often I see the reason God chose these people is that He looks for people who will put all of their confidence in His abilities. Because God has unswerving confidence in His own abilities, God chooses people He can transform, who are willling to be positioned in uncomfortable places and lean in to Him with all of their might. These men and women are unstoppable in God’s purposes. And He never doubts them.

There is a lyric to a song that has grabbed my heart these past months called “Mercy“by Amanda Cook, and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger, and it says this: “Oh Love, Great Love, fear cannot be found in you, and there will never be a day You are uncertain of the ones You choose.” I mulled these lyrics over and over in my head. “there will never be a day You are uncertain of the ones You choose.” These words are true. I see them throughout scripture from the Old Testament to the New.

Jude, a brother of Jesus ends his book in the Bible with this Doxology:

Jude 24-25
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

To Him who is able!! Because of God’s unfailing ability to always do the right thing, because God has committed Himself to you and your eternity when you put your trust in Him, because He is not limited in power, potential, mercy, grace, strength, and vision, and because He loves you, He has no doubts about you, He is able to present you before His glorious presence without fault, and with great joy!!

Have you considered His Credentials? Meditate on a God who has full confidence in His own abilities. Think about how God enjoys sharing His victories with us by inviting us into His plans and purposes. Lean in to His strength, and power. And put your full confidence in this God without a doubt!

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Photo credit: Bethany Morris (c)2016

Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism

All of the applications for the Reinhard Bonnke School of Evangelism were read and prayed over by Reinhard himself as he chose the 150 students who would attend the four days of classes in May 2016. I felt so privileged to be one of the accepted applicants. As I sat in the very first session Reinhard shared about how he looked over every application, and was particularly interested in one student. He scanned the room looking for the student who fit the description, while saying, “A ten-year-old boy.”

I think we were all surprised to see a young man stand to his feet. He was dressed in a suit, and he had come all the way from India. His father was by his side, also dressed in a suit. The boy was 10. God had called him into ministry and he wanted to be trained.

“I was ten years old when God called me.” Reinhard said. “And I do not take lightly the calling of God. I am so glad you are here!”

Well, that started the waterworks for me. My tears began. I remembered when God called me into ministry when I was 12 years old. I remembered the men and women who invested into my life at that time helping to equip me. I preached, I sang, I prayed, I evangelized, I prophecied, I studied, I worshiped, and I walked in a boldness that only God could give to someone at my age. That boldness carried through my junior high, highschool and Bible school years.

I was ready to take on the nations by the time I was 21, and I had committed my life to the Great Commission.

I was so thrilled to see that young man there with us.

Every speaker for the four day school, shared the experience of the power of the Holy Spirit and the passionate love and grace of Jesus that marked their lives. From Reinhard himself whose 30 years on the continent of Africa have become a harvest of souls giving their lives to Jesus at a rate exceeding tens of millions, to Todd White whose love for people on the streets of every state and country he has walked in, has been a powerful catalyst for them coming to Jesus and receiving even physical healing in the process.

I wanted to hear Reinhard especially. I had read his books as a teenager. I had seen clips of his crusades in Africa, and I remember weeping as a young person over the joy of seeing people come to Jesus. I was thrilled by the healing miracles that always followed the Gospel message. Deaf ears opened, lame legs walking, and even dead lives raised up again. It was my first time to see God’s power in action when the Gospel was preached, and I knew that is what I wanted to be like. I wanted God to use my life like that.

Reinhard would continually call himself “a predecessor” in evangelism, and that we in the room would do more and hopefully exponentially more than he could accomplish in his lifetime.

I can’t describe to you entirely what it feels like to sit in a room where everyone there believes that nothing is impossible–fully certain that God can transform nations, and that the harvest can be reaped millions at a time just as easily as one at a time.

“One on one, or one on a million! Every life matters!” Reinhard would say.

Just when I was beginning to feel like being a woman disqualified me from the things I felt God called me to, God renewed in me the passion to preach the Gospel and pray for the sick.

“Your flame has your name.” was another quote from Reinhard. The flame of the Holy Spirit God has given you is tailored to the ministry God has called you to. You don’t need another person’s flame, you need your own, and you need to get going!

Among 150 students from countries all around the world, I joined in worship, weeping, praying, praise, prophecy, and encouragement with brothers and sisters from Uganda, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, India, Mexico, and the US. I watched lives catch fire for God, and I witnessed those already burning propelled further towards the call God had for them. As I worshiped, I felt the Lord’s faithfulness of having carried me all of these years. I felt Him redeeming all of my years. Even those years that were so difficult, and I wrestled with my faith, and was angry about my calling, as I felt set up for failure. He loved me still. He carried those years. He has never been in doubt of choosing His call for my life.

I’m beginning again, I feel. I have been teaching, leading in worship, writing music, encouraging and praying for all of these years, but that “thing” that is written in my flame that has yet to be seen among those I have lived near these past 20 years, is glowing hot again. I’m called to preach the Gospel. As God opens the doors, I will be stepping through them!

I go from here to a summer of commercial fishing with my family–three months in the waters of the Pacific in Alaska. I will try to blog our family adventures as we go, so stay tuned. I also hope to blog about this new thing God is doing in me, and when we return to land in the Fall, I hope to put boots on the ground and be busy about my Father’s business.

Azusa Now 2016

I don’t even know how to put it all in words.

The stimulus around me in the Los Angeles Memorial Colliseum with 60K+ people was almost too much to take in, but too glorious to miss!

It took about half an hour before I could get into the stadium at the beginning. The lines fanned out around the coliseum in all directions. I stood next to a man from Australia who came for this event. Behind me a large group of women were speaking Spanish.

When I finally entered the building and found my seat, the stage before me was filled with Koreans who were praying down heaven over America. That’s when my tears started, and there was no stopping them. I decided right then and there that if you have a prayer need, grab a Korean and ask them to pray. I think God Himself could almost be yanked out of heaven through the prayers of these passionate faithful men and women.  In both English and Korean, they prayed for America. Prayers for holiness, faith, hope and love in this land again. They prayed for unity, for forgiveness, and for the life of God to breathe in us again. They prayed for North Korea. They prayed that God would send more South Korean’s to North Korea with the gospel. They were so strong in prayer, and I wept at the blessing and heritage they were sharing with us in Los Angeles.

Prayers went up for the First Nations people of America. They prayed for the end of suicide and alcoholism, they prayed that they would awaken and take their place in the Spirit of God as sons and daughters of God with a purpose and a destiny. It was glorious, it was heart-rending, and it was powerful.

Prayer, worship, and declarations continued. There was the sound of tens of thousands of people lost in worship, singing with all of their hearts with the worship band on the stage who was cranking out music that went right to the very soul, and there was “open” area of the floor of the Coliseum where children, and adults were dancing, waving banners, and even turning cartwheels as they worshiped freely with all of their strength. This beautiful tumult was punctuated with the large group of people cheering and shouting as a man who had come to the event in a wheelchair, was now taking steps around the arena. He was swarmed by people raising iPhones above their heads in hopes of capturing this incredible miraculous moment.

Behind me six rows was a young man praying to be set free from drug addiction while his father wept over him. Students had gathered around this precious family and began to speak life and hope into them.

I couldn’t see it all. Brain cancer was being healed, deaf ears were being opened, six more people got up out of wheelchairs and began to walk, people were giving their lives to Jesus for the first time, and hundreds were coming back to Jesus who had walked away from Him. The miracles were happening all around the stadium, in the outer hallways, in the parking lots, and around the world as people tuned in to watch the event live.

I couldn’t keep from weeping. Hourly, moment by moment for the 15 hours.

The rain would begin to pour, and we in the audience would quickly don our rain coats, or ponchos, pull our hoods up over our heads and I would stand so that the water would run straight down me rather than pooling in my lap.

This was an historic event. One I had prayed to see since I was a teenager asking God to send a revival to our nation. To see on the stage a representative from so many ethnic groups and races represented in prayer, forgiveness, and reconcilliation, was a powerful sight.

 

Lou Engle encouraged all attendees to not interact as though we were there to see an event, but to respond as one Body as the leaders led us in prayer, worship, repentance, and honor. We stood together, we knelt together, we shouted, we prayed, we applauded. When there was a request for silence, the hum and buzz of 60k + people quieted as if a blanket rested on all of us. There were such holy moments.

I flew over 2000 miles to be there, and I didn’t want to miss a thing.

I’m quite sure there will be more to this event that I will process later, but I am so thrilled to have been a part of an event that will shape history. I agree with Lou Engle in this: “The answer to a divided nation is a united church.”

May we continue to forgive, reconcile, and stand with one another for the healing of our nation.

http://www.thecall.com/azusa

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