April 2014 Newsletter

“The voice of my beloved!  Behold, He comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills…My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up my love and
come away…For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over & gone.  The flowers appear on the earth.  The time of singing has come…rise up, my love, and come away.’”   –
SOS 2:8-13

Wow, another Month has come and house group picgone!  Loretta & I are settled in our new house and already have a bunch of stories to tell as new house owners.  First of all, we spent a couple mornings battling an infamous poison ivy vine in the back of our yard.  Unfortunately I didn’t know it was poison ivy until after I ripped it off the back of our fence.  The good news is that Loretta didn’t get it and the reaction that I got was pretty minor.  The vine is dead & gone now, thanks to a friend who helped us tear it out with his SUV.  The root was as thick as my thigh!  Besides a few other small surprises that need to be fixed, the house is pretty low maintenance.  We’ve already had a few people over and love being able to use the house to bless others.

As the house stuff was settling down last week, the Lord spoke a timely word through Mike Bickle to the IHOP-KC family.  It was based on the second chapter of Song of Solomon.  The chapter shows Jesus leaping on the mountains and hills of difficulty, calling His bride to join Him.  But the bride is hesitant to go.  She still hasn’t learned that the safest place is with Jesus.  And she still thinks its winter.  As Mike read the chapter and talked about it, the things we’ve been feeling lately started making sense.

We’ve been feeling a need to step out of our comfort zone and pursue old dreams in our hearts.  We hadn’t put our finger on what that would look like but when Mike gave this message it started getting clear.  I don’t think it’s just a word for us either.  I think it’s a word for the entire Bride of Christ in this season.  He’s calling us to leave our comfort zone and to scale new heights with Him.  He’s calling us to pursue the old dreams in our heart.  We’re so used to the winter seasons of death that we’ve forgotten what spring is like.  We’ve started to believe that’s it’s always going to be winter.  But it’s not true, If we step out in faith it’s not going to be like the “last time”.  He will protect us.  He will fight for us.  A harvest season is coming.  All we need to do is trust Him & obey.

For us, that means actively pursuing some of the dreams He’s put in our heart.  Loretta would like to start voice lessons again to grow in singing.  She’d also like to start learning massage therapy to bless other IHOPKC missionaries with low prices on massages.  I’d like to take a couple music courses offered at the International House of Prayer University to grow in worship leading.  I’d also like to start visiting local churches in our area to help strengthen their vision for prayer.  We feel like these things (along with other dreams) will be the next steps to stepping out of our comfort zone.

We’re also trying to branch out more with our house group as well by reaching out to the homeless this spring.  Everyone in our group will be buying various items to put in bags for homeless people who beg on the streets.  Water, a toothbrush, unperishable food, new socks, & other items will be put in a bag with a gospel book and then given to homeless people when we see them.  Instead of awkwardly sitting in the car not knowing whether to give or not to, we’ll offer them a care bag that has the potential to reveal the love of Jesus.  God is on the move!  Let’s not miss the signs of the coming season.

How to Cure Boredom Without Band Aids

Boredom seems to be the plague of humanity.  Everyone faces it.  It’s that nagging feeling that comes when things aren’t exciting or exhilarating like they are in the movies (which may be adding to the problem).  Even when we walk in God’s perfect will it can feel mundane at band aidstimes.

The good news is that that’s ok.  For some reason we think that if we really did what God called us to, it would be exciting, but that’s not always the case.  On this side of time we’re called to walk by faith which means we don’t feel stuff all the time.  Even Jesus lived a “normal” life for the majority of His time on earth.  He spent 30 of His 33 years as a Carpenter in Nazareth, taking care of His family.

Still, I don’t believe Jesus was ever bored.  Why not?  The answer certainly wasn’t buying something new, turning on a movie, or hanging out with friends like it is for us.  These things are only band aids that temporarily solve the problem.  They don’t cure it.

The remedy comes through having a heart that’s alive.  It comes through fellowship with God.  If our heart is burning for Jesus, even the most mundane things become exciting.  If we’re walking in the 1st commandment, every day becomes an opportunity to experience His goodness.  When we love God’s Word, we don’t need the temporary band aids to cure our boredom.  It’s already been cured.

Unfortunately it’s becoming more and more common for us to run to band aids instead of actually taking the time to cure the problem.  We like quick fixes and so whenever we’re bored, we automatically get on Facebook or something similar.  But it takes time to really cure boredom.  It requires us to wrench ourselves away from the band aids and to face our barrenness.

Practically that means we take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word.  We learn to delight ourselves in the Lord.  We’ve become so accustomed to eating dirt and wearing band aids that we’ve forgotten what real food tastes like.  We’ve forgotten that there’s actually a cure for boredom.  But who will dare to resist the currents of our culture and run to Jesus for satisfaction?  Who will spend the time it requires to get healed?

The cure to boredom isn’t doing something exciting.  It’s learning to delight ourselves in the Lord.  Until we do, we’ll never get healed.

March 2014 Newsletter

But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.  My mouth
shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits.” 
-Psalm 71:14-15

IMG_20140215_084235 (1)

Wow, buying a new house can be stressful.  But we’re finally on the other side!  After a lot of ping pong between our lender and underwriter we finally got approved and closed on our house February 28.  The big moving day was March 5.  We’re so grateful for the Lord’s leadership in it all and we’re excited to use our new house for His glory!  Looking back on the house buying process I’d say that it was a test of faith.  One moment it looked like everything was going to fall through and the next like everything was great.  Towards the end of it, Loretta & I decided to “offer our Isaac” to the Lord like Abraham did.  Whether it fell through or went through, we were going to praise the Lord.  The day after we made that decision, the final answer came.

That’s usually how it goes.  The Lord wants to have the first place in our hearts.  He loves to refine our faith like He did with Abraham so that we grow in love.  When I was in the Prayer Room a few days ago this Scripture jumped off the pages: “For You, O God, have tested us.  You have refined us as silver is refined…we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment (Psalm 66:10).”  God allows some difficult times in our lives to perfect what’s lacking in our faith.  He sets up perfect scenarios where our faith is purified.  The question is will we choose to hope in God when everything looks bad?  No matter what happens in our lives, no matter how grim the circumstances get, will we hope continually?  Will we praise Him even more when things get harder?  The moment we set our hearts to do that, the enemy has no more power.  Demons tremble when they see people worshipping God in the midst of circumstances telling them to curse Him.  Worship & hope are powerful weapons.

That’s one of the reasons we’re so grateful to be a part of this house of prayer.  We live in a community that revolves around worshipping God day & night, in good seasons and bad.  For those of you wondering what that looks like, I thought I’d finish this letter off with a snapshot of what we, as intercessory missionaries, do every week.  Here it is:  We both work 48 hours a week on the mission’s base.  24 of those hours are in the Prayer Room and are divided in half by “intercession sets” and “worship with the Word” sets.  The intercession sets are when we pray with a specific focus for a particular issue.  Our intercession set focuses are currently the fatherless in Uganda, the ending of human trafficking, the Nation of Israel, revival in college campuses, revival in Kansas City, and the ending of abortion.  The other half of our prayer Room hours are “worship with the Word” sets where we focus on praying & singing the Scriptures, along with personal Bible study.  Our worship with the word set focuses are currently 1 John, Psalm 37, Hebrews 11, and John 14-17.  Aside from the prayer room, our ministry consists of discipleship and evangelism, which is primarily done through the weekly house group we lead Sunday nights.  Then there’s the weekly meetings we have with our worship team every Wednesday to study the Bible, receive inner healing, and eat a meal.  Our 1 day off every week is Saturday which is usually spent resting at home or doing fun stuff in town.   Jesus is worthy of night & day worship!  May His Bride all over the earth join together in praising Him “more and more”.

Are You Being Conformed or Transformed?

The culture around us is constantly telling us to conform ourselves to it.  The voices say, “Have our ideals, talk like we talk, buy the clothes we buy, be entertained by what we’re entertained by, find your identity in what we do, hate what we hate, love what we love, Yellow_Rays_over_Greysspend your time the way we do, be a part of the crowd, fit in.”  The unseen pressure can be felt everywhere you go – driving down the highway, walking in a grocery store, buying clothes downtown, or even with your circle of friends.   The general message is “conform, or you’ll be an outsider.”

But there’s another voice in the midst of all that noise.  It’s the voice of God, and He says:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” –Rom 12:1-3

This is quite the opposite message from the culture around us.  It says, “Don’t be conformed, be transformed”.  Jesus calls us to be counter-cultural, to go against the grain, to be an outsider with Him.  It’s easy to conform to the culture around us but it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to be transformed into the image of God.

In order to be transformed our mind needs to get renewed, but it doesn’t come automatically.  It takes an attitude of spiritual violence to resist the culture and be like Jesus.  Transformation comes as we read the Bible, walk in obedience, choose humility, and say no to fearing what people think.  It doesn’t just stop at our culture either.  There are times we need to resist being conformed to Christian circles.  Just because Christians are doing it or saying it, doesn’t mean it’s right.  There’s a time to stand for righteousness within Christian circles too, even though it’s unpopular.

(The fact that many Christians are themselves “conforming” instead of “transforming” is why it’s so important to choose our friends wisely.  We want close friends to be people who provoke us to be like Jesus.)

Of course we don’t want the opposite end of the spectrum either.  We don’t want to resist conformation at all costs and become “rebels” who try to do things on our own and go against everything.  The aspiration to have godly qualities we see in others is good.  But overall, the only person we really need to be like is Jesus.

So what about you?  Which voice are you listening to?  Are you being conformed or are you being transformed?

9 Things You May Not Know About Jesus:

jesus-walking-upon-the-sea

  1. Jesus had 4 brothers & at least 2 sisters (Mark 6:3).  His brother’s names were: James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.  The books of the Bible we know as James & Jude were written by two of them.
  2. It’s likely that Joseph died sometime before Jesus’ public ministry.  Joseph isn’t seen anywhere in the Gospels after the event in the temple when Jesus was a 12yr old boy.  If he was still alive at Jesus’ death its unlikely Jesus would have committed His mother to John the beloved.  If this were the case, Jesus had the responsibility of taking care of His family after Joseph passed away.
  3. The only attribute Jesus ever used to describe Himself in the Bible was “meek & lowly” (Matt 11:28-30).  He called Himself by different names (Alpha, Omega) but He never used an attribute besides this one to describe Himself.
  4. Jesus was a very common name in Israel during His time.  Lots of people were named Jesus.  But there was only 1 who actually fulfilled its meaning.  There was only 1 Jesus of Nazareth.
  5. The thing Jesus said in the Bible more than anything was “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”  As the Word of God, He continually called us to do more than just listen, but to hear.
  6. Jesus sang some hymns with His disciples right before He went to the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:30, Mark 14:26).  Most commentators think they were Psalm 115-117.
  7. Jesus used the city of Capernaum as a base to travel from during His ministry (Matthew 4:13, 11:23, 17:24; Luke 4:23; John 2:12).  His home there either belonged to Him, His family, or Peter.
  8. When Jesus walked on the water to meet the disciples in the boat, He walked at least 3 or 4 miles on the water before He got there (John 6:19).  The average person walks 1 mile in 20 minutes.  So Jesus spent over an hour walking on the sea before he reached the disciples!
  9. After Jesus rose from the grave, He folded His grave clothes (John 20:6-8).  With all respect, it shows the playfulness of God to fold his clothes right before He left the grave site.

What other unique, fun facts do you know about Him that are seen in the Bible?

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written..” -John 21:25