10 Words of Encouragement For the Sick:

sunshine rays
1)  Never Stop Believing for Your Healing – Jesus doesn’t want us to be sick.  Sickness entered the world as an enemy of God & one of the primary purposes for Jesus dying on the cross was to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:8).  Therefore we should never believe the jargon that it’s God will for us to accept sickness.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him and He is the same yesterday, today, & forever.  We should always press in for our physical healing, till our last breath.

2)  Pain Can Be Used as an Escort Deeper into God – Let’s not forget that pain can be used to transform us into the likeness of Jesus & gain us more eternal rewards.  It’s not God’s will that we’re sick, but sometimes He allows it.  While we’re pressing in for our external deliverance (physical healing), let’s not forget to press in for our internal deliverance (transformation/communion with Jesus).  Pain often causes us to see the lack of beauty in temporal things & calls us to reach for eternity.  The deepest fellowship with Jesus is often in the midst of pain.

3)  You Don’t Have to Choose Between the Two – #1 and #2 go together.  We’re meant to press in for both external and internal deliverance at the same time.  We don’t have to choose between our healing and our fellowship with Jesus.  Pursue both!

4)  The Exchange Rate is really High – For billions of years we’ll live in perfect peace & joy with God.  There will be no more pain, sorrow, crying, or death (Rev 21:4).  It will be easy to love God then.  Only now in this short time frame do we have the opportunity to love Jesus in the midst of pain.  When we choose Jesus in the midst of sickness we gain eternal rewards (2 Cor 4:16-18).  The eternal currency in our heavenly bank account is multiplied a hundred times every time we love Him in this age (Matt 19:29).

5)  God Doesn’t Change – Our circumstances don’t change who God is.  He is always the same & His Word is the anchor of reality.  No matter what we feel, God’s love is still full.  His power is still unlimited.  His wisdom is still perfect.  One of the most powerful things we can do during sickness is declare who He is.  When we choose to worship & declare the truths of Scripture, the manifold wisdom of God is being displayed to angels & demons in the spiritual realm (Eph 3:10).  God’s heart is moved.

6)  Sickness Doesn’t Mean You’re Out of God’s Will – Sickness doesn’t mean we did something wrong or are out of God’s will.  There are times that that happens but if we’re sincerely walking in obedience that isn’t something we have to worry about it. There are multiple passages in Scripture that show even mature, obedient Christians go through severe hardships (Job, SOS 5, John 16:33, etc).  Anyone who says otherwise isn’t reading their Bible right.

7)  Trust in God’s Sovereignty – The question, “If God is a good God, why does He allow bad things to happen?” has a simple answer: free will.  God doesn’t want robots in His kingdom.  He created humanity with a choice to obey Him & He refuses to take that privilege away.  Bad things happen because humanity chose to disobey God.  Abortion, sexual immorality, poverty, & sickness are all results of the fall.  They’re not a case against God’s goodness.  The better question is, “If God is a just God, why doesn’t He destroy everyone right away who choose to reject Him?”   We don’t deserve anything but the wrath of God.  It’s His mercy that we have breath every day.  We must continually guard our hearts from accusation.  Our trust in Him is the demonstration of our love for Him.

8)  The Comfort of the Cross – Corrie Ten Boom, who went through the holocaust, once said “there is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”  No matter how low circumstances get, Jesus went lower.  He can meet you in the pain.  Meditating on the cross where Jesus bore our sorrows & carried our grief’s can be a great comfort in the midst of sickness.  Even now, after the cross, He hurts more from our pain than we do.  In our affliction, He is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9).  We must remember that It costs Him more to allow painful things in our lives than it costs us.  He doesn’t despise the affliction of the weak.   He weeps with us.

9)  Remember to Laugh – The Bible says that “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones (Prov 17:22).”  Laughter is healthy.  When we remember that all things are working together for our good & that we’ll have a resurrected body forever, things don’t seem so grim.  These temporary pains are only a shadow in eternity so it’s right to rejoice.  Remember to laugh and enjoy the good things God gave you as much as you can.

10) Have Faith in God - Not a superficial faith that pretends everything is Ok when it’s not, but a faith that believes in Jesus’ power & words.  We must remember that Jesus is both able & willing to heal us.  Faith is the most important thing we need during sickness.  We must believe in His love, in His power, & in His wisdom.  We must step out of the boat onto the water with Jesus.  Even if we fall, He’ll be there to catch us.

The Call to Be Separate

After reading the books of Ezra & Nehemiah a few weeks ago something stood out to me in glaring color.  The reason Ezra & Nehemiah plucked out their beards, tore their garments, and “sat down astonished” was because of mixture.  Mixture with the people around them had put the remnant of Israel in danger before God:

 “When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, ‘The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites…and the Amorites.  For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands.  Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.  So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.” –Ezra 9:1-3

That seems like a alone_in_crowdpretty intense response.  Did Ezra go too far?  Why was it such a big deal?

Now days many have adopted the idea that in order to influence the culture we need to be more like the culture.  But I think the Bible teaches the exact opposite.  It’s true Jesus was a friend of tax collectors & sinners.  But Jesus was also the most set-apart Man that ever lived.  The reason He (and His disciples) impacted the darkness was because He was the Light, not because He was trying to fit into darkness.

Even more recent fathers and mothers in the faith are good examples.  Take a look at John G Lake, Andrew Murray, Heidi Baker, or Reinhard Bonkke.  Would we classify them as men and women who blend in with the culture?  Or are they “strangers who seek a homeland”?

Christians are called to be drastically different than the world.  This doesn’t mean our clothing style has to change (though in some cases it does!) or that we stop interacting with unbelievers.  But it does require us to evaluate what things in our lives are displeasing to God.  A clear line must be drawn in the sand:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the price of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”  -1 John 2:15-17

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon”. –Matt 6:24

“‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’”  – Luke 16:15

If we find that we’re excited by the same things the world is, we may need to take a closer look at our lives.  Many things our culture celebrates may seem innocent but in heaven’s eyes they are idols, distractions, and offenses to God.  We need discernment.  We need to know what parts of our culture God is pleased with and what parts He is offended by. We should then separate ourselves from the things in our culture that displease God.

The ironic thing is that the more separated unto God we are, the more impact we’ll have on the people around us.  Why would an unbeliever want to become a believer if we look just like the world?  What’s the difference, if we put our hope in the same things, watch and listen to the same things?  The power to change the culture comes through consecration.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: ‘…Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’”.   -2 Cor 6:11-18

That’s actually what the word “holy” means – Separate, different, other than.  The lie is that if we choose to be holy, we’ll miss out on a lot of fun.  But what is fun?  What is joy? Contrary to our culture’s belief, the Bible teaches that true joy comes through holiness:

“You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God has anointed You will the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” – Hebrews 1:9

If this is true, than there’s no reason not to walk this narrow road.

Lord help us answer the call and be holy as You are holy!

October Newsletter

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night.  You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” –Isaiah 62:6

It’s a happy birthday here in KC!  The 2 year ann 2International House of Prayer celebrated 15 years of non-stop worship, prayer, and works of justice this Month.  The small ministry that began with 20 staff members back in 1999 has now become a source of confidence for thousands of houses of prayer throughout the earth.  Back in the 80’s statistics said there were less than 25 ministries on the planet that called themselves a 24/7 prayer & worship ministry.  Now in 2014, there are over 10,000 houses of prayer on the earth.  Clearly, the vision for day & night prayer is exploding across the nations and we are so grateful to be a part of it!

For three days our community gathered together to share stories of IHOPKC’s history, while eating food, playing games, and getting vision for the future.  The last day of the celebration was spent outside at John Anderson Park.  My favorite part of the celebration (besides the games) was talking about where we want to be in the future.  Each table had a short discussion time on the second day about where we see ourselves in 10 years.  For Loretta and me it’s quite simple.  We want to be part of building & strengthening houses of prayer, teaching the Bible, and making disciples.  We see ourselves with a few kids and actively involved with ministering to orphans in our city.  In 10 years there’s a chance we won’t be in Kansas City but wherever we go, that’s our vision.  We love the full-time ministry of ministering to the Lord through day & night prayer, worship, and acts of justice.  Mike Bickle, one of the senior leaders of the International House of Prayer also shared about “IHOP 2.0” during the celebration.  The past 15 years was the first installment of this ministry and the next 15 years will be the second installment.  We believe in the next 15 years we’ll see deeper friendships established, a greater anointing to heal the sick and win the lost, and greater authority to intercede and worship.  Yet along with us we’re also bracing ourselves for greater attacks from the enemy, including controversies.  We can be sure that the enemy’s goal is to shut down houses of prayer that seek to advance God’s kingdom & glorify Jesus.  But whatever may come, we’re committing to press forward with humility & courage until Jesus returns.

Besides the ministry, our main focus in this season is praying for my family.  As mentioned in the previous newsletter, my Dad is continuing the battle against the brain tumor they found in mid-August.  His last radiation treatment was September 30th and he made it through valiantly.  My mom has been a superhero wife the last month, as she’s stayed by his side and done the dirty work when no one but Jesus is watching.  Our main prayer is that my dad responds well to the radiation treatments and comes back to his normal self.  As you can imagine, he’s very weak and unable to put things together right now.  But we believe that with the prayers of the saints and the skills God’s given to these doctors; he’ll bounce back and regain his strength.  No matter what happens we know Jesus is a perfect leader and that He’s in control.  It’s often difficult to go through seasons of death & trial but the saints can rest assured that death will always lead to life.  Though we go through the valley of shadows we don’t stay there.  The shepherd only leads sheep on the valley path in order to get to high ground.  “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices.  My flesh also will rest in hope.  For you will not leave my soul in Sheol nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.  You will show me the path of life.  In Your presence is fullness of joy.  At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:9-11).”

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!