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   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.

June 2014 Newsletter

“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation
to generation…He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.  No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” – Daniel 4:34-35

These are the words Nebuchadnezzar spoke 2 yr anniversaryafter God humbled him and his sanity returned.  He finally recognized that he wasn’t in control.  The Most High God was.  This revelation is something we all need right now.  Though the sin of man rages and the curses of the fall surround us, God is still on the throne.  He is not a helpless bystander in the events on earth.  He is sovereign.  He can do whatever He wants yet He waits to do certain things till the saints ask Him.  Rather than relieve us from the place of prayer, the sovereignty of God should actually motivate us to intercede.  If He is fully in control and waits for His children to ask Him for things, how much more should we lift our voice to Him for breakthrough?

As we stand in the Prayer Room day by day we remember that the battle is still raging.  Human trafficking is escalating like never before.  The fatherless are crying out for fathers and mothers.  The government grows more corrupt.  The love of many is growing cold.  But God is also on the move.  We are seeing human trafficking awareness spread like wildfire as brothels are shut down.  Christians are adopting children and choosing to reach out to the fatherless, and the prayer movement is joining forces with the evangelism movement to preach the gospel to every tribe & tongue.  So if we ask “Is the world growing darker or lighter?”  The answer is both.  Like Jesus said, both the tares and the wheat are growing together until the end (Matt 13:36-43).  We can rest in the fact that Jesus is in control of both & His leadership over the earth is perfect.

One reason this is so dear to Loretta & I right now is because of a holocaust survivor we went to hear last Tuesday.  Elizabeth is a secular Jew around the age 93.  She survived 3 death camps and was even shot on the last day of the liberation.  As we listened to her story we were struck with how often she referred to a “hidden force” or “sixth sense” that kept her alive.  Though she still isn’t aware of it, this “hidden force” was clearly the hand of God keeping her alive.  God was enthroned during one of the most horrific times in world history and He will always be enthroned.  As we drove home we prayed that God would reveal to Elizabeth her need for a Savior.

Elizabeth is one of many secular Jews in the area that the International House of Prayer is committed to showing the love of Yeshua to.  There are a surprising amount of Jewish communities in Kansas City.  Most of them are not believers but there is a remnant of Messianic Jewish churches that love Jesus and come to the Prayer Room often.  In the 1980’s a prophetic man said that one of the International House of Prayers main focuses would be the salvation of Israel.  Though it didn’t make sense at the time, 30 years later it has become a strong pillar in the House of Prayer.  Every Tuesday, we set aside 6 hours to pray specifically for the Jewish people in Israel & the Nations.  Many messianic Jewish communities in Israel are close friends with our community here in KC.  There are even a handful of houses of Prayer in Israel that watch the IHOPKC webcast every Tuesday to pray along with us.  Jesus is moving!  If you have time I’d encourage you to watch the upcoming conference in KC concerning Israel on June 13-15.  The webcast is free and it’s a great way to hear about what God is doing among the Jewish people.  God is on the throne.  May we never forget it.

When Stuff Breaks Down, Doesn’t Work, Etc

I’m writing this article in the wake of a broken lawnmower, a broken clothes washer, and a faulty air conditioner that all stopped working in the last two weeks (part of the joys of home ownership).  Yes, it’s a waste of money when things break down.  Yes, it’s a waste of time when things stop working.  Yes, it can be downright upsetting when projects start piling up.  So what possible good can come out of them?  Well, besides the fact that we can learn how to fix things and become handier around the house, I think there’s something else to learn.  God can speak to us through them if we have ears to hear.

It’s my opinion that before Adam & garden of edenEve sinned there was nothing to fix.  The curse of corruption hadn’t entered the world yet so nothing broke.  Nor did anything wear out or grow old.  Everything was perfect so there weren’t any fixing projects.  Imagine that!  So what did Adam & Eve do all day?  We’re so used to things wearing out, it’s hard to imagine.  Genesis tells us,

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” –Genesis 2:15

If nothing needed to be fixed what did Adam do to “tend and keep it”?  Maybe he tended it by planting seeds and cultivating the soil.  He might have protected it from wild animals and against the violence of winds or the burning heat of the sun.  We can only theorize.  What we do know is that whatever Adams work was, it really added to his happiness. His work was never frustrating or futile because every act was glorifying God.  God made man in such a way that we cannot function if we don’t work.  Adam wouldn’t have been happy if he had been idle.  The same principle applies to us.  We were designed to work and though the curse of corruption has been added to it, it still glorifies God.

So how does God speak to us when things break down and we have to fix them?  Every time something stops working or wears out it is made to remind us of the Garden of Eden.  There was once a time when the curse of corruption wasn’t here.  There was perfect union between God & men.  Just like the rainbow in the sky reminds us of Gods covenant to never destroy the earth with water again, the presence of corruption is made to remind us of the Garden of Eden when there was no corruption.

When stuff breaks down we can turn our frustration into longing.  We join with creation and cry out for Jesus to return to earth and reverse the effects of the fall:

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” –Romans 8:18-25

So as we spend time fixing our washer or getting our lawn mower to work, lets remember God’s desire to dwell on earth again without corruption.  Just like Adam, we work for the glory of God.  But one day there will be no more frustration or futility.

May 2014 Newsletter

“How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.”  -Psalm 139:17-18

We live totally differently when we know we’re loved.  A person who is confident in God’s love is bold as a lion.  They don’t shrink back in difficulty and they grow quickly because they don’t turn their weaknesses into idols.  Yet how often we disagree with God’s view of our lives!  Though God’s thoughts towards us are precious, our own thoughts are often harsh and unmerciful.  In order to be all God has called us to be we must learn to love ourselves for Jesus’ sake.  We must break our agreement with the accuser of the brethren and see ourselves through Jesus’ eyes.

Jesus said in Mark 12:31 that the prayer room picsecond commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself”.  Yet often this is exactly the problem.  We find it difficult to love the people around us because we don’t love ourselves.  We’re harder on ourselves than God is.  If we want our lives to glorify Jesus we have to break this cycle.  We must learn to love ourselves for His sake.  He made our bodies & our personalities unique for Himself and though they have been marred by sin & the consequences of the fall they are still precious to Him.  We’re the work of his hands and we must love His handiwork.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  This of course doesn’t mean we love ourselves in a fleshly way.  Jesus also told us to lose our lives, to deny ourselves, and take up our cross to follow Him.  But He also wants believers to know that we are beloved in His sight, that He enjoys us in our weakness, and sees the reach in our hearts to obey Him.

One reason this is on our hearts is because of the orphans we pray for in Uganda every week.  Uganda has the highest concentration of orphans in the world.  Over 70% of the population is under the age of 25.  UNICEF says there around 2.5 million orphans in the nation.  After our worship team came across these statistics we began to pray.  Every Sunday afternoon from 4-6pm our worship team leads the prayer room in praying for the fatherless in Uganda.  Missionaries from around the world who have worked in Uganda have also partnered with us during this set, asking God to bring restoration.  But it’s obviously more than just Uganda.  The entire earth is suffering from fatherlessness like never before.  Human trafficking victims & broken families are everywhere and this is the message they need to hear.  They need to know that they are beloved of God, that they were made in His image, & that God has a plan and purpose for their lives.  Our role in this is so small but it is vital.  The International House of Prayer has committed to pray for the fatherless in the Nations every Sunday.  We know that if we pray God will do more.  The gospel that is preached with prayer behind it has so much more impact than the gospel that is preached without it.

Another role we play is through a ministry connected to the house of prayer called “Exodus Cry.” Exodus Cry is committed to abolishing sex slavery through Christ-centered prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration of trafficking victims.  This ministry has rescued many victims and given them hope through Jesus.  Loretta & I are so honored to be a part of this community, a community that is committed to 24/7 prayers for justice and 24/7 works of justice.  Let us join together in bringing the truth & love of Jesus to the Nations.  He is worthy!