The Worry Behind Your Eyes

Ugly wall of worry

To some extent, we all put up a wall in our minds and hide a thought process behind it. Hopefully you don’t have many of these walls keeping your thoughts from those around you, but don’t lie — you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t want to get into the issues of shame and fear of man, though they’re common walls. What I’ve been meditating on is a big, ugly wall so many of us are hiding behind: worrying about money.

I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about how financial big wigs and missionaries alike are getting hit with the effects of the economy. Two IMs at my HOP had their phones shut off recently. It’s that bad.

So last night I was asking the Lord about His promise in Malachi:

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'”
Malachi 3:10

I started to cry as I told the Lord I hadn’t seen the fulfillment of that promise (I have seen blessing, but not to the point of “not enough room to receive it”). He actually said to bachan (test) Him in His faithfulness.

So maybe this is an encouragement to all of you that God promised He would provide, maybe it’s a shout out to Him that I want to see it in my own life — or recognize it if I just haven’t noticed — I don’t really know. All I know is that God keeps His promises and this is no exception. It’s just hard to see sometimes.

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So America Chose Obama

What will be our response? Will we despair and say that God doesn’t answer prayer, or that x group of people didn’t pray enough? Will we be offended and shake our fist at God, claiming He didn’t come through for us?

I was impressed with IHOP-KC’s response within minutes of Obama’s victory. They interrupted the last half of their Worship with the Word set to inform everyone of his win…and immediately called a rapid fire to pray for him. Person after person told the Lord, “Thank you.” There was no hesitance in this response, and I know from living at IHOP that they weren’t prepped to say that either. No, those people have some knowledge of God, and their first response was to acknowledge that even if they didn’t know why He would want this man in power, they were going to trust Him.

Why does God want Obama in power? Maybe it’s reaping consequences or His righteous judgment — however you like to label it. But I don’t think so. I don’t know much, and even though I grew up in a political family with two parents who graduated with Poly Sci majors and I used to breathe talk radio, I have let my politics slide (on purpose) for the past 3 years.

I think God’s giving us two things: an invitation and a sign. The invitation is for Christians to realize that they need to be praying. I want to scream Jeremiah at them:

“O my soul! My soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” Jeremiah 4:19

The second is to realize that God is orchestrating world events for Jesus’ second coming. It’s really going to happen, and soon. That’s going to seem far fetched to most of you, but I’ve been studying the end-times for almost 3 years and I can tell you this much: Matthew 24:3-9 is not far away.

Vocal Prayer: A Double-Edged Sword

In modern American churches, we tend to think of prayer as closing our eyes and saying words aloud. Since when was the dignity of prayer cheapened into such a pitiful form?

The authority on this subject I have to hand over to the Catholics. I so admire their history on the subject and the high respect they continue to give it. I am not here to bash vocal prayer; it’s a method of prayer that we practice regularly in the prayer room and I think it’s very necessary. But there’s so much more to prayer.

Here’s my quarrel with vocal prayer: prayer is so powerful (more on that later) and yet most of the time when we close our eyes and pray aloud, we’re not thinking about what we’re praying and even less are we thinking about Whom we are praying to.

“If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips.” – St. Teresa of Avila, Fire Within

I’m going to do a series of posts on prayer: different types of prayer, the power of prayer…I guess it’s my weak attempt to change the mindset of my culture. Everything that I will say I’ve learned myself – I won’t be parroting my teachers or plagiarizing a book.

Stay tuned.

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I have now completed this series. Click here to read the rest of the posts.

The God of Secrets

I just read this fascinating article published by the New York Times back in June called “Mystery on Fifth Avenue”. It got me thinking. As humans, we love mysteries. I don’t think this is a character trait or quirk; I think we all love solving puzzles, riddles, enigmas – whatever you want to call them – in some form.

But why? I guess I ask that question a lot…It’s not that I love to find out how things work, I just like to know about human nature. My conclusion to the question “Why do we love mysteries?” is this: God loves mysteries. OK, that was really anti-climactic. But it’s true!

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Prov. 25:2 (ESV)

The New Testament speaks 27 times of God’s mysteries. I think that He hides on purpose. That way, only those who are hungry will look hard enough to find Him. And when I say the hungry, I don’t mean the unsaved: I mean Christians who are looking for more of God.

Now the question I have to ask myself is “Do I want to take the time to search out God and His mysteries?” It’s so much easier just to spout off what I know about Him and never go and actually get to know Him. But I think only those who are really persistent get the reward: the knowledge of God. It’s not as if when Jesus tells the story of the friend at midnight (Luke 11), the friend only had to ask him for bread once: it was only by his persistence that he received what he asked for.

This is how I want to live the rest of my Christianity: continually seeking out God and His mysteries until He answers me.

Somebody’s in Love with Me

When I first went to IHOP, I thought prayer was boring. When I did pray, I would draw out my little prayer list so that it took a half hour and then go on with my day. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but when I began to hear the people around me talk about God everything changed; they began to tell me that God’s plan didn’t start at the cross.

As I looked at the Word closer, I had to ask myself the question, “Why did Jesus go to the cross for me?” It seemed a simple question with a cookie-cutter answer, but was it? Why would God come down from heaven, leave all of His glory and take on a little Jewish man’s body forever? (And Isaiah said Jesus wasn’t even good looking!) What was it in the heart of the Godhead that took such drastic measures to save a few creatures He formed from dirt?

In the American church, we tend to throw around the term, “we are the Bride of Christ;” I had heard that term a thousand times but I never stopped to think about it before. I think that somewhere back before Genesis, the Godhead wanted companionship: not because He lacked something, but simply because He wanted to share His pleasure, joy, love – with someone else. I can almost see Jesus going to His Father and saying, “Father, We have so much to give, is it good for God to be alone? Father, I desire a companion, someone whom I can love and who will love me voluntarily in return.”

I can’t prove this exact scenario, but once I begin thinking of myself as the Bride of Christ, I saw something amazing woven throughout Scripture: Jesus came and gave me the dignity to be His partner; He didn’t need me, He only wanted me! And He says that He will actually change His mind if I pray! (Examples: Ex. 32:7-14, Zeph. 2:3, Jer. 29:12) Without going really into depth regarding Jewish traditions, I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the traditional bride price: He said we were worth the blood of the Son of God.

I’ve only scraped the surface of this whole “viewing myself as a bride” thing, but the reason why I connect it to prayer is this: prayer isn’t boring to me when I see that God created me because He wanted to, because He enjoys me and that He loves me so much that my prayers actually change His plans.

A Different Kind of Faith

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend decided to quit working at a coffee shop and be full-time staff at my prayer room. It’s cool because we will “work” at the same place and be on the same schedule (9pm-4am), but there are a lot of other factors too. When I told one of our friends that we were going to be the poorest people he knew, he responded, “You two are already the poorest people I know!”

The two of us are doing something that makes no physical sense. Relying on God for – literally – my next meal seems so irresponsible. I am in a financial position right now which looks like this: if something drastic doesn’t happen in the next month, I am either on the street or out of the prayer room. But despite that, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in God’s will.

So what am I asking the Lord? Not for some kind of way to make a lot of money quickly, but rather for a different kind of faith. I need a level of faith that’s never been required of me before because this frightens me to death.

Last night I questioned why God makes Himself seem so distant when it comes to simple, physical things like this. Today, I’m just asking that I have the faith to rest in the fact that He is near and He wants to take care of me; for now, this is my journey into the knowledge of God.

It’s Not a Sprint, it’s a Marathon

About a year ago, someone (we’ll call her Sarah) was talking to me about how great the next big conference was going to be. She told me how anointed the speakers and worship leaders would be and how much fun I would have. I anticipated going to the conference for about 3 months and when the time finally came, the messages were nothing new and the worship was good (but heaven didn’t come down like Sarah told me it would).

When I listened to Sarah talk about how great the conference would be and I bought into it, I was participating in hype. Hype is when worship is all of the sudden really good…because your favorite song is being sung by the hot guy on stage. Hype is when you get excited about the new, inspiring message…week after week after week.

If I get something out of a conference, great! But I want to live my Christianity in between conferences too. Paul used the analogy of a race:

“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Heb. 12:1b-2a

To run with endurance, I must stay steady. When the revival comes and goes, I want a steady, long-term relationship with Jesus that produces fruit in heaven. Relationships take time and effort, and I believe the best ones are those that are cultivated the most.

Father, give me the grace to run the race with endurance.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 3

If you’ve been following the series, you may relate to me and know that we need to take some of this before the Lord. Maybe not, but if that’s you, you are who I’m talking to.

My opinion is that we’re content. We’re so content with what we know about God that we don’t bother to get to know Him.

If I am married to someone, I want them to be able to make an executive decision involving me without having to ask because they know me so well. In the same way, God’s given us stewardship – sovereignty – over His creation and I want to preside over it the way that He would.

I want to know what God is thinking, what He feels about things I’m passionate about – abortion, homosexuality, the prayer movement – what He would do in a situation without having to ask. That’s only possible through daily encounter with Him. I’m not even talking about sitting in a prayer room for hours. I’m just talking about the whispers throughout the day that invite Him into little things in our lives.

If I want to be able to describe a beautiful Being not because I’ve heard about Him or read about Him but because I’ve encountered Him, Jesus told us we just have to ask.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 2

In the previous post, I drew the analogy of a blind person being able to describe in vivid detail things that they have never experienced and correlated it to many Christians. I lived a proverbial blind Christianity before the Lord opened my eyes. When I was that girl in the coffee shop – living out the epitome of what I thought a Christian was supposed to be – I had no idea how much of God I was missing.

I was overwhelmed when the Lord began to give me a new perspective: I was so small and knew so little of Him and the more time I spent with Him, the larger and more mysterious He became.

When Jesus spoke to the church of the Laodiceans, He chastened them not because they were doing something terribly wrong, but because they didn’t know the state of their own hearts:

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” Rev. 3:17a

There are a couple questions I ask myself when I feel that I may be putting spiritual sunglasses on:

  1. Am I content with the knowledge I have about God, or am I living on the fuel of daily revelation?
  2. Am I changing daily, despising my weak areas and asking the Lord to transform me into His image?

The first question I ask myself because I don’t want to make God distant. I want to always remember that He is intricately involved in every detail of my life. The second I ask because I find that I get into trouble in my life when I feel like I am doing pretty well (when I don’t see any areas I really need to work on). I used to keep a quote on my wall which said, “As soon as you think you have conquered sin, you are about to fall.” I find that my heart is healthiest when I grieve my weakness and lean on Him to conquer it.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 1

I recently heard two college-aged Christian girls catch up with each other’s lives. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. They discussed a number of Christian principles, religious theologies, and mission trips as they sipped lattes from little ceramic cups.

There was nothing wrong with these two girls. Two years ago, I was one of them: sitting at a coffee shop catching up with a friend and discussing the great ideas I had about God. What I didn’t know was just that: how much I didn’t know.

Someone who is born blind only knows the colorless world they have experienced. They don’t know what they’re missing – a sunset or a beautiful painting – because they’ve never experienced it before. They don’t know what they’re missing because they have no grid for what it is like to see. However, they may be able to describe a beautiful picture for you – even though they’ve never seen it themselves.

No, I’m not talking Christian-ese “we’re not about a religion we’re about a relationship,” what I’m saying is that even the Christians are missing it. I can colorfully describe many aspects of God that I haven’t experienced. Many Christians live their entire lives this way. They talk about Jesus as if they know Him because they know about Him: they know His friends, they know His biography, but they don’t know Him.