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No Parking

On Tuesday, we took some of our Forerunners (Tuesdays from 4-6 pm we have “Forerunner Basic Training” to train up “warrior poets”/forerunner messengers to prepare the way of the Lord through night and day prayer) to various polling sites in Coweta to pray for God’s will to be done in the coming election. I found it interesting with our nation’s adamant stance concerning “separation of church and state” that most of the polling locations on our list were at churches! I praise God for that, though, and since we have a mandate here to pray for the Bride and for church leadership, we were thrilled to go and “circle” the churches in prayer. I am reading the book “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson and it has literally brought me to my knees (even as painful as it is to kneel after my surgery!) It has convicted, encouraged and inspired me as much or perhaps even more than any book I’ve read in a long time. I may write more about it later but I wanted to post one of the visions that one of the Forerunners had while praying at one of the churches. He said, “I saw an escalator and Believers were walking up it, though the escalator was actually going down. God was at the top of the escalator and they would keep climbing and almost reach Him but then quit and slide back down…” He felt led to pray for perseverance for voters, leaders and church leaders and so we did.

This morning in my One Year Bible reading, I read the following passage from 2 Timothy 4:
Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear….”

Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not…..I know it is an exhortation to preach the Word and really there are so many messages in this, but this morning I felt also like it was a word for Believers everywhere and particularly those called to build houses of prayer, a word of encouragement to KEEP REACHING toward Him and not give up!

I looked up the definition for “persistent”. Persistent=1. persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc; persevering; 2. lasting or enduring tenaciously; the persistent aroma….; 3. constantly repeated; continued; 4. continuing or permanent.

Some of the synonyms were: “relentless, steadfast, tenacious, firm, fixed, immovable, unshakeable, in for the long haul….”

The truth is that either we are climbing the mountain and reaching toward God, or we are “sliding back down” the escalator…there is “NO PARKING”!!! So which is it for you? I recently went on a week long retreat to get rest and refreshing. It was wonderful but as I was preparing to leave, I walked out onto the dock overlooking the lake and said, “Lord, if you could only say one word to me right now, if I could only leave here with one word, what would it be?” I was expecting something encouraging and intimate and inspiring but was taken aback when I heard “apathy”. Huh? I was indignant…”No, I’m not leaving here with that one–I want a different word than that!” But that’s the word I got and when I looked up the word, though I felt I knew what it meant, was convicted and challenged when I read “lacking passion“. Sigh. In my weariness from recent attacks and trials, knee surgery, etc. I realized I had “slid back down” the escalator. I am determined, though, to start climbing and reaching again!

So, be encouraged today and be persistent! Whether the time is favorable or not…… regardless of your circumstances…..keep climbing…keep reaching! It’s gonna be worth it…..

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No More Excuses

One of the “issues” (okay, sins) I have struggled with much of my life has been the issue of overeating and dieting. My dad was a basketball coach so we often ate out and I can remember many days when I would spend far too much time wondering about where we would eat dinner that night. I read once that what we worship is what we THINK ABOUT all or most of the time. Sigh. This can be a job or a car or a relationship, and yes, even a ministry–but for me it has so often in different seasons of my life been food and dieting. Since this blog is not only about building a house of prayer but also about BECOMING a house of prayer, I want to also write about this “journey” to be free from everything that hinders me from being a “dwelling place” for God, a vessel of honor totally abandoned to Jesus. I have so far to go but recently I found that I am tired of “sitting by the pool of Bethesda”. I want to be made WHOLE.

For the past couple of weeks I have been meditating on the story in John chapter 5 about the crippled man who sat by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. I keep hearing Jesus ask me the same words He asked that man that day….”wilt thou be made whole?” One translation says, “Do you really want to get well?” In Mark 10:51, He asked the blind man, “what do you want me to do for you?”

I worked for many years as a sign language interpreter for the Deaf and to be honest, if Jesus asked this question to many of them, they would likely answer something other than wanting to be able to hear. Most hearing-impaired people lead normal lives and do not view themselves as handicapped in any way. As intercessors, we need to recognize that while someone may ask for prayer because they have an illness or a financial need, there could be more serious heart issues that Jesus must address in order for them to be “made whole.” We often take prayer request cards and go for prayer walks during our youth meeting and I am trying to teach the kids to “listen” to the Holy Spirit because though the card may say “healing from arthritis”, the deeper issue might be for a sense of purpose or financial provision or restoration of a broken relationship.

 What do you want?

I was at a workshop once and we were to pair off and ask each other this question “what do you want” over and over and over again. The point was that at first we often name off material and surface things such as “a new car, new carpet, new house, to write a book, to go on a cruise, etc.” If we keep asking the question, though, it is like peeling the layers off of an onion or the petals off of a rose until we finally get to the core issue….what do you WANT?? Peace of mind, a sense of purpose, to feel alive, a burning heart, INTIMACY…..

 I feel a bit like Jesus was “peeling off the layers” so to speak even just by showing up at the pool that day. There was a festival going on, after all, but Jesus went straight to the pool ofBethesdawhere the lame and “impotent folk” lay waiting for the angel to come and stir the waters.Bethesdameans “house of mercy” and I love that about Jesus—that He went there first to the seemingly forgotten.

 Like most of us often do, the man by the pool began to name off his excuses… “I have no one to put me in the pool, etc….” I recently had a “moment” at my house when I started naming off excuses and blaming others for my weight problem. “If you would not buy the candy and chips, maybe I could lose weight,” I whined…..but in the secret place, I saw the eyes of Jesus burning into mine….”do you really want to get well?” Then, moving past all my excuses, He said to me firmly but with great love, “Rise up, pick up your mat and walk…

 Rise Up

The man by the pool had to make SOME sort of movement to simply get up from the place he had been sitting for 38 years. For someone starting a business or ministry, maybe it means taking the step to open the bank account or establish a non-profit organization. For someone wanting to travel to another country it might mean signing up for a foreign language class or simply getting a passport. What is one positive step toward the thing that you want? My daughter Savannah and I sat down last week and wrote out a few measurable goals for the next eight weeks in each area: Physical—ride bikes to RHOP or to the library at least twice per week and plan ahead by creating a menu (with healthier food choices) each week; Spiritual—She will study Jeremiah and the Sermon on the Mount and I will finish my Beth Moore “Jesus One and Only” Bible Study; Mental—go to the library every two weeks and read at least one book per week. Okay, what about you? What is one step—a positive effort or step forward–that you can take toward what you want? A woman called me last week to ask what hours the prayer room was open. “The Lord has been dealing with me about my prayer life,” she said with a sigh. She had many excuses for not praying, but was making an effort to “rise up” and take a step toward her calling as an intercessor.

Pick up your mat

Jesus wanted the man to pick up his mat. This means eliminating any option to return to the place of bondage or brokenness. This man likely had no home so even though I’m sure he was thrilled on one hand to be healed, the challenge then becomes “what now? Where will I go? What will I do?” When I used to interpret for weight loss meetings, I would occasionally hear the group leader counseling one of the members who remained just short of reaching their weight loss goal for an extended time. “What are you afraid of?” she would ask. “Is there a reason you might be sabotaging yourself so that you don’t reach your goal?” This is a valid question that leads us right back to Jesus’ question, “do you really want to be well?” For me, “picking up my mat” meant not getting re-certified as a sign language interpreter so that when money is tight I will not be tempted to go “do a job” to earn money and thus, leave the wall of intercession where God has posted me as a “watchman”. In order to lose weight, it means throwing out the left over Easter candy and giving away the “fat clothes” as I lose weight. What does it mean for you to “pick up your mat” so that you will not return to a “yoke of bondage” or place of brokenness that you have been delivered from.

 This man also had to deal with criticism from religious leaders because he was carrying his mat on the Sabbath. There will no doubt be naysayers who will criticize and find fault with your decision to be “made whole.” For someone trying to lose weight or quit drinking, there will be the family members or friends who continually tempt or criticize the decision. The same will be true for the one wanting a closer relationship to Christ, who now must say no to certain movies or invitations so as to draw closer to the Lord.

 Walk

The word in this passage is the Greek “Peripateo” which means “walk; make one’s way; progress; make due use of opportunities…” It is the same word used in Matt. 4:18 when Jesus was walking by theSea of Galileeand called out His would-be disciples. He had spent forty days in prayer in the wilderness and was walking with purpose. Jesus was essentially saying to the man by the pool: Rise up (do the next thing), pick up your mat (burn the bridges and don’t look back) and walk (find your purpose and walk it it.)

 As I would interpret in weight loss groups and drug and alcohol rehabilitation groups, the question was often asked, “what do you want” and “WHY are you doing this?” The group leader knew that if they were there to lose weight in order to please a spouse or to stop using substances in order to satisfy the judge, they would not likely reach their goal. The next question was always, “what are you willing to do to get there?” If you want a closer relationship with Christ or a more vibrant prayer life, are you willing to get up earlier or cancel dates with friends or turn off the television? Are you willing to schedule daily prayer and study of the Scriptures to have intimacy with Christ? One weight loss group leader said that she was willing to exercise more but she was not willing to totally give up chocolate. I am willing to stop drinking sugary pop and by the grace of God stop snacking so late at night.

 Make it personal. Grab a journal and set aside a block of time to dialogue with Jesus about this issue of becoming “whole”:

1) What do you want?

2) Why do you want it?

3) What are you willing to do?

 Wilt thou be made whole? Then, rise up (do the next thing toward your goal)….pick up your mat (burn the bridges and ignore the naysayers) and walk (with purpose in every step).


Life Line

ImageWe have Forerunner Basic Training (FBT) at RHOP on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. to train up forerunners (ages 8 to 18) in the place of prayer. The first hour is typically worship and teaching of the Word on topics pertaining to intimacy with Jesus and the urgency of the hour, along with the seven commitments of a forerunner. (Pray Daily, Fast Weekly, Do Justly, Live Holy, Give Extravagantly, Lead Diligently and Speak Boldly) Then we typically do a prayer walk around the property, praying over needs in the community. The last hour is a time for the kids to spread out in the prayer room for personal prayer, intercession and meditating on the Word through worship, art, writing, pacing around the room, or just sitting still and waiting on God. We recently put down a “life line” as a visual reminder to pray for the ending of abortion, for mothers who are considering abortion or healing for those who have had one, for those considering suicide to “choose life” and for others throughout the city who are bound by addictions. At any point during the time of intercession, they can go over and stand or kneel on the line and cry out for Life. My daughter, Savannah, (age 10) has worn a life band and committed to wear black on fridays (abortionblackout.com) as a reminder to pray for life for babies. She has also made a commitment to pray at RHOP on Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m. in addition to her devotion time each day (we call it “daily appointment with the King”). I know some would say, “that’s too much” or “aren’t you expecting too much?” I honestly think we expect far too little from our children. My dad was a principal, coach, teacher, counselor and mentor and he always used to say, “Children will rise to the level of expectation you set for them.” I struggled with my lack of puppet skills or fun activities when the Lord first called me to train up forerunners. That is, until I went to the Signs and Wonders Camp at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City last year. I attended one of the evening sessions and though they had a couple of fun games for fifteen minutes before the meeting started, those kids (ages 8-12) worshipped and prayed for themselves and each other and their cities and nation, etc. for THREE HOURS. It went by so fast and I was astonished. I was corrected and challenged that day that my expectations were way too low.

When the Israelites were entering into the promised land, God had high expectations for His children:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” –Deut. 6:6-9

I marvel sometimes at what Daniel’s parents must have been like. Taken away into captivity as a young boy and immersed in a pagan culture, he knew how to “get ahold of God” and continued to fast and pray at regular times throughout his lifetime, NO MATTER WHAT happened to him or how he might have been threatened or persecuted. The hour is urgent and in the coming Storm, I want to know that my daughter is trained in such a way that no matter what happens, she will have so hidden the Word in her heart and have developed such habitual disciplines that she will KNOW how to get ahold of God, to grab hold of the “Life Line” of prayer. Don’t get me wrong–she is still a normal ten year-old who would play the Wii or nintendo ds for hours if i would let her. But I don’t, because I know that when chaos hits or tragedy strikes, it is not knowing how to get to “world 5” on Super Mario Bros. that will help her. It is the Word of God and prayer. The Lord showed me once that if I stopped feeding her natural food or even if I let her binge on junk food all day every day, it would be considered child abuse. Yet, we starve our children from the “spiritual food” found in the Word and let them “binge” on spiritual junk food (i.e., video games, television, texting, surfing the internet). God help us. No, really, let’s pray that right now. God HELP US as parents to teach this “generation of Jacob” to wrestle with God in the place of prayer as Jacob did and not let go until He blesses them–until their “walk” is different, until He changes their name and their character.

These mighty warriors in our homes are World-changers, History-makers. Forerunners. In the past year of FBT, we have seen families saved, sick bodies healed, bondages broken and relationships restored because a few kids found the “Life Line” and refused to let go. They are the “John the Baptist” generation that will prepare the way of the Lord. We must train them because if we don’t, no one else will. We must train them in the disciplines of prayer and fasting (even if from candy or video games for a day) and study of the Word.

They are not too young to stand on the Life Line.


Pilgrimage

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.–Psalm 84:5

Several years ago, I “set my heart” on a pilgrimage, asking God to use our little Gideon group to establish night and day prayer in our small town of Coweta, OK (pronounced KO-WEETA, not Cow-eta). We lease a space in Oak Grove Shopping Center, on hwy 51, also known as “William (Bill) Bright Expressway”, just outside of Tulsa. In the beginning, I thought it was about setting “watchmen on the wall” (Isaiah 62) or setting up a watch of the Lord like the Moravians in Germany so that “the fire on the altar” would not go out (Lev. 6:13). I thought it was about filling prayer slots so that SOMEone was praying in our city 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I thought it was about tearing down denominational walls and seeing churches come together in unity to worship and pray and evangelize our city. I thought it was about preparing the Bride or at least praying that she would make Herself ready for Her soon-to-return BrideGroom King, Jesus. I thought it was about praying for the lost people in my city to experience the Real Love of Christ or about holding up the arms of the spiritual leaders, as Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms during battle. But after nearly three years of “showing up” for prayer day after day, week after week, no matter who came or how boring or what prayers were answered, after sitting at His feet again and again and gazing into those eyes of fire, I realize it about so much more. Or maybe I should say it is about so much less. It is really about becoming a 24-hour house of prayer, myself, a prepared vessel and dwelling place for God. It is about becoming a woman of “One Thing”–to seek after and dwell in His Presence to behold His beauty all the days of my life (Psalm 27:4), to be Loved (by God) and then to BE LOVE to everyone I meet.

I “process” what I am learning best when I talk it out, teach it or write it so I’ve decided to start this blog to record my journey, in hopes that along the way, I will discover what it really means to “build a house of prayer.” I wrote several entries on another site and hope to include them here, but I seemed to have trouble inserting images or media before so I’m going to try using this one and see how it goes. There is one thing I have definitely learned along this “pilgrimage” and feel confident in saying right off….that is that even though I “set my heart” on this pilgrimage several years ago, I have to keep setting it again and again. I often feel like Allie with dementia in the movie “The Notebook”, who keeps forgetting who she is and needs her husband to come and read their story each day just to remind her who she is and why she is there. I have wanted to “cut and run” more times than I can count, but somehow my Husband never lets go and keeps “telling the story” again and again to “bring me back Home”. So here goes–I’m setting my heart on a pilgrimage. Again. My strength is IN HIM and He IS the end result. The Goal, my exceedingly great Reward. It can be done. It’s going to be worth it. And if I build it, He will come.