Loving God’s Family

February 2016 Newsletter

“As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” -Psalm 16:3Community-144653342

Christian maturity can often be measured by how much we love the body of Christ. It’s easy to say we love God when we’re disconnected from people. But as we encounter people’s sin can we still love them and imitate Jesus? That’s the real telling factor. Are we a friend to the least of these? Are we inconveniencing ourselves for the sake of others? Are we pulling out the gifts and calling of others so that the whole Church is edified? These are the questions Loretta and I have been asking lately.

This has been an exciting month for a few reasons. First, I’m learning a lot in school that is preparing me for the physical therapy program I want to enter in the fall. My Medical Terminology class consists of a ton of memorization of Greek and Latin terms such as rhabdomyosacorma (malignant tumor of striated muscle). It’s really fun learning all these terms and putting them together to speak in the medical language. My second semester is off to a great start. The second reason this month has been exciting is because of the emphasis the IHOPKC community is placing on growing as a Church family. Every sermon last month was about loving the Church, growing in community, being vulnerable, and coming together in unity. It’s so exciting to see the leadership of IHOPKC pushing this more than ever. As a mission’s base, our goal is not to replace the Church, but to serve the Church. This is one of the reasons the International House of Prayer exists. Part of our mission statement is “to work in relationship with the wider Body of Christ to engage in the Great Commission” (ihopkc.org). In fact, I think that’s one of the things that makes IHOPKC so unique. There are so many different streams of the Church looking to this ministry for courage. At the Onething conference in December, we saw Charismatics, Baptists, Catholics, and Evangelicals together on the same stage. That doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with all of each other’s doctrines but it does mean we lay down our differences so that Jesus is glorified and the Gospel goes out to every nation.

IHOPKC is more than just a mission’s base though. We are a Church family and as such, we are committing to grow in our love for one another daily. This is the last reason this month has been so exciting. Our personal friendship group is really becoming a family. We are slowly becoming more vulnerable with each other and are starting to invest real time in building relationships. If someone in the group has a need, we want to meet it. If someone in the group needs prayer, we want to pray for them. If someone in the group has a word, we want to hear it. If someone in the group has a gift, we want them to use it. This is what Paul said in his letter to the Church at Corinth, “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor 14:26). It is only together that we can walk in the fullness of God’s purposes. We need each other. It’s exciting to see different parts of the Church realizing this. The Bride of Christ is beautiful, despite her weaknesses. We are the “excellent ones” in whom is all God’s delight.

Suffering for the Gospel

January 2016

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes up you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” -1 Peter 4:12-14

Persecution is anormal part of being a Christian. All throughout the Old and New Testament, believers expected suffering as part of the package when they chose to follow Jesus. The modern western version of Christianity, where persecution is minimal, is actually abnormal. This is the theme Loretta & I are going into the New Year with. Though it may seem kind of morbid, it’s really not. We’re tired of avoiding the cross and only doing things if they’re easy and comfortable. We want to embrace the cross and follow Jesus.
FullSizeRender

As always, the annual “Onething”
conference was fantastic. Thousands of people came from almost every state to worship Jesus and receive vision for the upcoming year. Wow, I don’t even know where to start! The speakers spoke with such authority and the worship leaders truly ushered in the presence of God. The theme of embracing the cross seemed to be woven throughout the entire conference. Francis Chan was definitely our favorite session. He talked out of the passage above and called us to change our mindsets about suffering for the gospel. Besides the main sessions, I volunteered at the International House of Prayer University “Hub”. This is a booth where we answer any questions people have about the University. But as always, it turned out to be a lot more than just an information booth. Many of us had opportunities to pray for people and encourage people who where in a desperate place. One thing that was unique this year was the amount of souls that were saved. The last night of the conference, an altar call was given for people to give their lives to the Lord. At least 100 decisions were made to follow Christ! Right after this altar call, during a session by Reinhard Bonnke, we laid our hands on the sick and many people were healed as well. There is no better way to bring in the New Year!

As lawlessness increases in the nations, Loretta & I are committing to not draw back from the “narrow, difficult” path spoken of by Jesus. We don’t want to choose the easy, comfortable way. We don’t want to be status quo Christians. To be a Christian involves suffering. That doesn’t mean we go looking for persecution but it does mean we break free of the American dream and pick up a cross. It means we deny ourself. It means we follow in the footsteps of our Master, who happened to be the most mistreated, misunderstood Person to ever walk the earth. Francis Chan said this during his message: “What do you with a people who actually want to be persecuted for the sake of Jesus’ name? Christians who arm themselves with this mindset become an unstoppable force.” What would happen if Christians in the west stopped living a life of comfort and embraced the cross? The Church in many other countries are already doing this. Christians in Syria, Iran, and China don’t receive Christ because their lives will get easier. In fact, their lives only get harder when they believe in Jesus. But is it worth it? It sure is. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:17).

Joy to the World

December 2015 Newsletter

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born
to you this day in the city of David angelandshepherdsa Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

-Luke 2:10-11

The pressure in the nations seems to be increasing. The massacre in Paris, the Syrian refugee crises, the racial tension in Ferguson, the shooting in California – things are getting more intense. As Mike Bickle, the leader of the IHOPKC mission’s base said “We are never going back to the way things were in the 80s or 90s.” The Bible tells us that both the wheat & the tares, righteousness and wickedness, are going to keep growing until the Lord returns. It will never be easier to seek the Lord than it is right now. Though the pressure isn’t going away, we don’t have to be overwhelmed by it. Jesus told us what to do when the end of the age drew near: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near”(Luke 21:28).

Loretta & I had a great Thanksgiving. It was definitely different. Most of our nieces and nephews were sick so lots of the family couldn’t make it this year. Molly had pink eye, Veera had croup, and Shiloh and Skye had the flu. Though lots of people were sick, we still made the best of it. We stuffed ourselves with stuffing and played a rousing game of “Settlers of Catan” afterward. As the Christmas songs played in the background, I couldn’t help but think of the pressure that is mounting all around us. What will America look like in twenty years? What will the nations look like? Would we still be thankful if we were persecuted and plundered for the sake of Jesus’ name? As I thought about these things I remembered what Jesus said in Luke 21:28. There is a reason to rejoice during the Christmas season but it has nothing to do with newly wrapped presents or Santa Clause. Even when men’s hearts are failing because of fear, the Church can be filled with joy and peace. Our joy and peace aren’t dependent on our circumstances or possessions. Our joy is a Man. A Savior was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago and the signs of the times declare He is coming soon.

As always, the Christmas season is a time of preparation for the IHOPKC mission’s base. It’s the calm before the storm. Every year we have the “Onething” conference from December 28-31st. If you have any time on those days, we encourage you to tune in with us for free through the web stream (ihopkc.org). Over 20,000 people will be gathering to hear the “now” word of the Lord for our nation. I’ve been to the conference every year, and I always get encountered by the Lord. There’s some really good speakers coming: Reinhard Bonnke and Francis Chan will be there, as well as some Bethel worship leaders from California. There are three sessions every day – 9am, 2pm, and 7pm. This year, Loretta & I will be serving at the IHOPU booth for the conference. We’ve done this the past few years and always get opportunities to pray for people and share the gospel. It’s surprising how many unbelievers show up to a Christian conference! Before the conference, Loretta & I will be heading back home to Wisconsin for Christmas. We’re hoping for snow since there’s none here at the moment. As we enter yet another Christmas, we pray for the joy of the Lord to be your strength. As the pressure in the nations increases, may you be filled with His hope and peace. Merry Christmas!

Trumpets, Alarms, and Sacred Assemblies

October 2015 Newsletter

“‘Now, therefore’, says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with
weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him…Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly…”
-Joel 2:12-15

Sometimes we grow weary of hearingFullSizeRender the sound of alarm. All the horrible news, bad reports, and secularization of our culture weigh us down, to the point where we don’t want to hear it anymore. We would rather ignore the warning signs and live as if everything were normal. Over time, some Christians get cynical. They’ve already “been there, done that”, so they relieve themselves from the responsibility of rending their hearts or gathering in prayer meetings. Others get scared. They don’t like the bad news because they’re afraid of persecution, financial lack, or hardship. Others just want to be comfortable. All this “doom and gloom” news is very inconvenient and has the potential to ruin their 401k plan

Whatever the reason, we must fight against the urge to shut our ears to the alarms around us. As Allen Hood, one of the senior leaders on the IHOPKC mission’s base, so eloquently put it, “the nature of an alarm is to wake us up. It’s supposed to be abrasive”. No one likes alarms. The feelings we get when they go off in the morning are annoyance and distress. We would rather stay warm and comfortable in bed. But if we didn’t respond to the alarm, we’d be late for work. As we all know, spiritual alarms have been going off in America for some time now. The legalization of homosexual marriage, the nuclear deal with Iran, and the general corruption in society are clear signs that we need an awakening. The question is, how do we respond? Joel 2 gives the answer. When a nation is in crises, God calls His people to gather together in solemn assemblies. He calls them to humble themselves, repent of compromise, and pray together for their region. Once again, the IHOPKC mission’s base has called a three day solemn assembly this month to cry out for our city and our nation. And once again Loretta & I must fight against the temptation to be comfortable. Yes, we have done this many times. But does that relieve us from the necessity of gathering together again? Does that relieve us from the call to repent of compromise and rend our hearts before the Lord? Of course not. We must stir our souls again and cry out for an awaking in our hearts and an awaking in America. I know as Christians continue to gather together and pray, God is answering.

Besides the solemn assembly this month, Loretta & I are adjusting to our new schedules quite well. By God’s grace, I am continuing to do well in school and am enjoying learning new things about physical therapy and the health professions field. Loretta loves being a part-time nanny. She is already a pro at feeding the baby, prepping meals, and house cleaning. I’m pretty sure her new employers think she’s Mary Poppins. We’re both excited to spend some extra time in the prayer room during the upcoming 3-day assembly. The leadership team at IHOPKC has agreed to shut down almost all other departments so that staff can participate in the solemn assembly as much as possible. I believe it will be a time of refreshing and awakening. As we continue to hear the alarms, let’s not get weary. God has a solution for the people who humbles themselves and pray.

Contending for Righteousness in a Babylon Culture

September 2015 Newsletter

“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common
salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” – Jude 3

Hatred is not always evil. In order to love FullSizeRendersomething we have to hate something. For example, if we say we love truth, we must hate lying. If we say we love righteousness we must hate sin. Unfortunately our culture is straying more and more away from this. It’s calling evil good, and good evil. There seem to be no more absolutes for our culture. As a result, people who hate sin are often labeled as “haters”. Yet as Christians we have to contend for the faith that was given to the saints in the beginning. In order to truly love people we have to hate sin and speak the truth boldly. We need boldness to contend for righteousness.

This is especially true on college campuses and it’s what we’ve been praying for in the Prayer Room lately. Every Wednesday morning from 10am-Noon we gather together and pray for Christians on college campuses to stand as lights in the darkness. We pray for God to raise up men & women like Daniel in a Babylonian education system. Daniel has been such a source of inspiration lately. He was a man who was faithful to God while living in a secular society. He maintained a life of prayer, fasting, and holiness while being one of the top governmental leaders of his day. I believe the Lord is raising up a company of people like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who have an excellent spirit and change the atmosphere wherever they go. These people will not bow to the idols of the culture and will declare who the one, true God really is.

One of the reasons this is so dear to us is because I’m now a college student! That’s right, I’m going back to school. After much prayer, I’ve decided to pursue an associates degree in Physical Therapy at a Community College in the area. I’m still on full-time staff at IHOPKC and will continue to be so while I pursue the degree. For some of you, this may come as a surprise but it’s not for Loretta & I. Ever since I saw my Dad go through his first physical therapy session back in 2007, I thought it would be a cool profession to go into. The goal is to be both an Intercessory Missionary and a Physical Therapist Assistant. Since the Physical Therapy job would allow me to work part-time, I can do both! I would work 25 hours per week in Physical Therapy and another 25 hours per week as an Intercessory Missionary. Of course, we will continue to rely on the financial support from our amazing partners. We are (and plan to always be) intercessory missionaries, and as such, we need financial support and prayer support to sustain our ministry. Another big change is also coming for Loretta on September 14th. After 2 years of serving in the Business Office at IHOPKC, she will be transitioning into a new role as a Nanny! She will continue to be on Prayer Room staff at IHOPKC but will also be looking after a 4-month old named “Ford” 25 hours every week. She’s super excited. She’s been wanting to grow in her “Momma skills” and I know she will do great!

As we move forward with these changes, our main prayer has been for God to make us Daniels in a Babylonian culture. May we be those who bring the kingdom and truth of Jesus into every sphere of society.