September 2014 Newsletter

“Now May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may about in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” –Romans 15:13

What we believe about the future dramatically affects how we live in the present.  Without hope we lose strength to labor in the moment and we lack vision to press through difficulties.  The Bible is saturated with this message on almost every page.  It’s what hope 2King David talked about when he said “I would have lost heart, unless I have believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps 27:13).”  And it’s what Paul was referring to when he said “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a fore more exceeding & eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17).”  Hope is vital to our survival as Christians.

This is a very precious subject to us right now because of my Dad’s health.  A few weeks ago the doctors found another brain tumor located in the back part of his brain.  This has caused him to have blurry vision, fatigue, and other problems the last couple months.  On one hand, it’s a relief to know what has been causing these symptoms.  But on the other, finding the problem was not an easy thing to hear.  The only option available is radiation treatments, which will be done 5 days a week for 5 weeks.  He started his first treatment Aug 21 and we visited Wisconsin from Aug 30 – Sept 9 to help them laugh & smile as much as possible during this difficult time.  Surprisingly, my family has a lot of peace.  We have no doubt that it’s because of the many prayers that have been spoken for us the last few weeks.  If you would be willing to join with us in prayer, we would be so grateful!  We are praying for a few things: 1) Complete Healing.  We believe God’s ways never change and that he desires my Dad to be completely whole.  Pray that the tumor is replaced with healthy brain tissue and that a miracle takes place!  2) For Radiation Treatments to go well.  If he has to continue radiation, we are praying that he responds well to the treatments and that no negative side effects occur.  3) Hope & Peace.  The first thing the enemy tries to do when sickness is around is fan the flames of anxiety & fear so that the problem becomes worse.  We are shutting the door to all fear and choosing to rest in our Savior.

Here in Kansas City, things are going well.  Loretta & I became puppy owners a couple months ago and are in the middle of training our furry friend.  It’s been a small preparation for the baby that will come sometime down the road.

Ministry is also going well.  As we stand in the Prayer Room we remember that one day there will be no more pain, sorrow, crying, or pain.  As we intercede for the crises in the Middle-East we remember that one day all the nations will worship the Jewish King in Zion.  As we pray for orphans in Uganda we’re reminded that a time is soon coming when there will be no more fatherlessness.  As we pray for revival on College Campuses and send out missionaries to the nations, we look forward to the time when every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  Our labor is not in vain.  Every prayer, every good deed, and every kind word will be remembered for eternity.  Unlike the world, we labor in hope.  When there is no sickness, no fatherlessness, no lost person, and no sin left on the earth, the Prayer Room in the New Jerusalem will keep going.  Not because a breakthrough is needed, but because He is worthy.  As we stand on the sea of glass, with all the saints our hearts will be bursting with joy.  Yet even now, ask darkness surrounds, we can still enter into that same hope.  “We…have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil (Heb 6:18-19).”

August 2014 Newsletter

“A Father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation…
The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; but the way of the wicked He turns upside down.” –Psalm 68:5, 146:9

God cares deeply about widows and orphanorphans.  There is something about the rejection, trauma, and story of these people that dramatically touches His heart of justice.  So much so, that God often defines our relationship with Him by how we relate to them (Isaiah 1:23, 58, Jeremiah 5:28, Matt 25:31-46).  It’s true many of us don’t interact with this people group on a regular basis.  They’re usually hidden away and ostracized by society.  But if we’re looking for them, we’ll find them.  They’re the “least of these” Jesus talked about in Matthew 25, the socially awkward, the rejects, the misfits.  They’re hidden all around us as Jesus longs to minister to them.

Loretta was in fact an orphan.  She came from a broken home and a very hard family life.  Up until 6 years old, she went from house to house in the foster care system, mostly with bad families in it for the money.  But then a miracle happened.  A couple named Tom & Manon embraced the inconvenience of adoption and took her into their family with 3 of her other siblings.  They showed her the love of Jesus and her life completely changed.  Now she herself is a spiritual mother who cares for the outcast and loves the unwanted.  The story is beautiful but there are thousands of children whose stories haven’t turned out that way.  Their stories have ended in prison, drug addiction, and sexual abuse, mostly because they never had a loving family or a safe home.  The good news is that their lives aren’t hidden to God.  He sees each one and His heart burns to bring justice for them.  As His body, we’ve been invited to care about what he cares about: caring for the orphan and the widow.

The reason this is on our hearts is because Loretta & I had the opportunity to minister at the “Spofford Home for Kids” last Thursday with our house group.  Some friends of ours have been ministering there for some time and invited us to come.  It’s hard to explain how we felt when we were there.  Most of these 4-12 year olds were suffering the effects of physical & sexual abuse, neglect and mental health disorders.  The atmosphere was charged with fear, rejection, and anger and it was painful to see.  Yet at the same time, when our group walked in we brought the light of Jesus with us.  As we sang worship songs, ate snacks, and shared a story about the love of Jesus, hope began flickering in their little hearts.  It wasn’t yet a fire but it was real none the less.  By the time we left and finished up coloring & cleaning, the atmosphere in the room had changed.  Yet we couldn’t help thinking as we left, “We planted a seed but will it grow?”  Would people keep stepping into their lives to disciple them and show them they’re not alone?

The simple answer for these kids is “yes” because the group we went with ministers to these kids twice a week.  But many kids don’t have the same opportunity.  And that’s where prayer comes in.  Through prayer, we can change the lives of thousands of orphans & widows!  We can both go and pray.  In fact, that’s probably why the group we went with has so much impact on these kids: they pray for an hour before they go.  Through prayer we’re able to push back the spiritual powers of rejection, anger, and lust around these kids so that Jesus can be seen.  Anyone can do that at any time.  Practically, for Loretta & I, that means we’ll be praying for the fatherless two hours per week on Sunday from 4-6pm and probably going to the Spofford home once or twice a month.  Maybe for you, it could be picking 1 or 2 people in your life that are rejected or “socially awkard” and putting them on your prayer list; then maybe hanging out with them once or twice a week.  God cares for orphans & widows and we can make a difference!

Christians Who are Known in Hell

paul the apostle

Leonard Ravenhill once said that he wanted to be known in hell.  He was of course referring to the account in the book of Acts with the seven sons of Sceva:

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We[a] exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.  15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”  16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered[b] them, and prevailed against them,[c] so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

“Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?”  Paul gave hell headaches.  No matter what they did, they couldn’t keep him down.  Even in severe weakness, Paul was a giant in the faith that accomplished mighty things for God.  Mr. Ravenhill lists a few reasons why he was known in hell:

“He had no ambitions – and so he had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation – and so had nothing to fight about. He had no possession – and therefore nothing to worry about. He had no “rights” – so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken – so no one could break him. He was “dead” – so none could kill him. He was less than the least of the least – so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things – so who could defraud him?”

Are we known in hell?  We should be.  But there are few who are.  Especially in the western world, most Christians have been so assimilated into American culture, that they are almost fruitless.  We are so preoccupied with entertainment & moving up the social ladder, that we have forgotten what it means to be used mightily by God.  As Leonard says it,

“We live too much in time, we’re too earth bound. We see as other men see, we think as other men think. We invest our time as the world invests it. We’re supposed to be a different breed of people.”

Only a “different breed of people” is feared by hell.  As long as we love the world and the things in it, demons have nothing to fear.  But there are vessels that have set themselves apart, whom hell still suffers from.  They have embraced the “narrow, difficult” road that few choose to walk on.  Such men & women are not always easy companions.  They insist on being a Christian all the time and everywhere.  They are obsessed with Jesus and refuse to waste their time with anything less.

Whether we join their ranks is a decision only we can make. It will be costly.  It will require us to die so that Christ can fully live in us.  But it will be worth it!

but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. – Mark 8:35

It’s easy to write about & give a sermon on.  It’s easy to talk about how great the “great” men & women of the faith are.  But it’s a lot harder to do.  Hell doesn’t fear Christians who watch television every night.  It fears Christians who have been “crucified with Christ”.

Lord, give us courage!!!

Remembering the Value of Our Story

People love stories.  That’s why we flock to the theater, read novels, and pay attention
when the Pastor tells a story in his sermon.  There’s something about the unknown of what will happen that excites us.  Adventure, romance, danger, pain, pleasure, joy, and sorrow grip us as we see/watch/listen.  But we often forget our own story.  It story bookdoesn’t seem as exciting as the movies or the adventures of other people.  Our stories often seem too dull and normal to take the time to remember.  But God remembers.  He is deeply interested in our story because our lives are for His glory.

He remembers when I first became awakened to the idea that He wasn’t boring.  He remembers the night when a bunch of high school students crammed into a small living room and spent the night listening to martyr stories.  He remembers when I first picked up a guitar and started singing.  He remembers the first prophetic word someone gave to me.  He remembers when I moved to Kansas City in 2005 during a huge blizzard at 19 years old.  All these things matter to Him.

In the movies, there’s always dramatic music in the background, but in our lives we never hear it.   All the small decisions and events don’t seem too dramatic, but in reality, they are.  They form the gift of love we give to Jesus when we stand before Him that day. They’re even important enough for God to base our eternal rewards on.  One small 80 – 90 year time frame determines the rewards and positions we will have in the next age forever:

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” – Hebrews 9:27

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”   -Matt 16:27

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”  -Rev 22:12

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body…”  -2 Cor 5:9-10

“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”  Hebrews 6:10

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”   –Hebrews 11:6

The seemingly insignificant things are a big deal to God and if we could just get a hold of that, we’d live a lot differently.  In essence, life is made up of many small decisions over time.  They may not seem important in the moment but as time goes on, they really form our story before God.  How tragic would it be too undermine the importance of the small events & decisions in our lives because they weren’t “big” enough, only to find that we never really lived.

The decision to not get angry at the bad driver on the road, the decision to serve our wives when we’re tired, the decision to open our Bible again instead of turning on the television, the decision to disciple someone when it’s inconvenient,  the decision to not speak a harsh word, the decision to show integrity at the work place.  They all add up and form the story of our lives.  Let’s not forgot how valuable they are to God.

July 2014 Newsletter

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand…” – Joel 2:1

Joel spoke these words to the nation of Israel in july photothe middle of two severe crises in the land.  One judgment had already past; the locust plague had already come.  But Joel warned the people of yet another crisis on the horizon.  If they did not repent of their wickedness and wake up from their spiritual stupor, another judgment would come, far worse than the last one.  The message of judgment is not always easy to hear, but it is vital to our survival.  I believe America stands in the same place as ancient Israel did.  We must hear the trumpet call and return to the Lord with prayer, fasting, and repentance.  Nothing less than revival will do.

In 1999 David Wilkerson wrote a book called America’s Last Call.  He said this:  “Our nation right now is receiving its final call to repentance, just prior to a great judgment!  I believe America stands at the brink of an economic and social collapse.  Now I say this not because I’ve had a vision or dream about it.  Rather, I have simply studied God’s Word, and I discern from the Scriptures that God is dealing with America in the same way He has dealt with all nations who have forsaken Him.  The fact is, God’s ways are absolutely unchangeable when it comes to His dealings with sinful nations.  There is no “shadow of turning” (James 1:17) in His ways; He works the same way in every generation, because He is just.  In short, He will deal with our generation in the same way He has dealt with every generation that sinned as we are sinning.  By learning these principles of His ways from Scripture, we can deduce exactly how He will deal with us today.” 

This is where our IHOP-KC community is right now.  Allen Hood, one of the senior leaders on the mission’s base has asked our community to join in a 7 day fast that Billy Graham’s daughter called our nation to July 1 – 7.  Anne Graham Lotz gave a powerful message from Joel 2 on the national day of prayer.  You can see it online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7cnT7OiI84.   She said the same thing David Wilkerson and all the prophets in the Bible have said:  Now is the time to awake from slumber and turn to the Lord, lest He judge us in righteousness.  The fact is that we are committing the same sins Sodom & Gomorrah did before they were destroyed.  “Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed & unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before me.  Therefore I did away with them as you have seen (Ezekiel 16:49-50).”  But there is also hope for our Nation.  If the ancient city of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, we too can repent.  Loretta & I are joining our community this week by setting apart extra time to be before the Lord in the prayer room as we cry out for America.

It’s important to understand that God’s individual dealings and corporate dealings are two different realities.  Individually, as those who love Jesus, many are cherished by the heart of the Lord.  But God’s dealings with Nations are a different reality.  In the same time frame, God can warm our hearts and give us revelation individually while sending a great judgment upon America.  There are no discrepancies in His character as He does so.  We must contend to understand God’s heart not only for ourselves but also for our nation.  Though He delights in many believers individually, His heart is burdened and grieved by the corporate sins of America.  Let us join together to wrench ourselves from the stupor of self-seeking these next weeks to cry out for mercy in our nation.