Friday, September 23, 2011

A Vision and Dreams

The past three days have been kind of strange for me. Monday and Tuesday the worship before class started was amazing. It was just a big celebration of who God is and declarations of his goodness and faithfulness. But all the while I stood in the back thinking, Nope. I don't believe God is always like that. Sometimes he's good, sometimes he's setting me up for failure. More and more lies ran through my mind and I eventually had to step outside of the sanctuary on both of those days.

The goodness of God is something I have had difficulty accepting. I hadn't pinpointed the issue until a few months ago, before summer started. My mentor and I were able to find this underlying issue that has caused a lot of fear and doubt in my life. It has kept me from fully trusting God in all situations. Having realized this, I've had to declare the truth of scripture over myself on how good God really is-truth of what he thinks about his children.

But the lies came flooding back on both Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night I had a great conversation about how God does indeed reward obedience. Sometimes it means we have to push through towards a new level with God and seek breakthrough. But God truly does reward those who desire to follow him wholeheartedly. He's good and his thoughts and actions over me are good.

This renewed confidence and joy in God spilled over yesterday and allowed me freedom to worship in joy, peace and abundant love. It was such a contrast to the previous two days.

Last night before I fell asleep I prayed that God would seal up my mind during worship. It's such a vulnerable time where we declare the worthiness of God and it truly ushers in His presence and we are able to encounter him. I prayed that God would consecrate that time-set it apart. Cast out lies and fears that had hindered me from worshiping in the fullness of what God deserves and express how much my heart is towards him.

And God answered my prayer! I haven't had many visions or dreams where God has spoken to me but last night he did. I had a vision of a small, shaded, leafy fox hole that had just enough space for a little creature to peek out.
The breath of God came and the hole was suddenly gone.

In it's place, God took big, solid beams of wood and he placed them up really high-higher than I thought was possible or safe. He built a giant, rectangular frame in my heart. It was like a tall, sturdy, reinforced doorway.

The new space that was formed has a high carrying capacity/relationship capacity-a term used for the depth of relationship with someone that gives the authority to speak into their lives. It's a symbol of loving influence. The doorway is also protected and fortified against the enemy's attacks-my original prayer.

Then the whole night in dreams God was just filling the doorway with all sorts of wonderful things. There was so much more space than in that small fox hole. The most vivid image was the frame filled with little kids who had all different skin colors-with the faces of the kids I met on my trip abroad last year-Chinese, Russian, Kenyan, Indian.

Now I'm wondering, how much can fit in this new, fortified space and what does God want to put there?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BSSM-Week 1

This past week has been...full of revelation, insight, information, reading, sermons, information, incredible worship, friends, information and devotions. And more information! I can't contain it all in my head-let alone in my heart, various journals and on this blog. Here's some of the great revelation and teaching we have received at Bethel and BSSM so far in the past week:
Sunday September 11: Bill Johnson taught from Matthew 16
The Demand for a Sign
 1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. 
  • They had an inborn capacity to discern the times, but they shut down the spiritual aspect. The wicked look for a sign (something to entertain them, rather than to reveal God to His people). Jesus's identity is one of redeemer and reconciler, and he did miracles before and after this verse. 
  • We are to seek what God wants to reveal to us-not as entertainment, but as a way to see God's heart. 
  • Jesus isn't rebuking the need for miracles, but rather their simple addition of Jesus to their life-rather than re-orienting their life towards Jesus. They fit him in where it was convenient for them. We don't seek signs, we seek the sign-giver. 
  • Jesus is the exact representation of His Father's nature --> every miracle is a revelation of the Father's heart and nature. It is never a miracle for a miracle's sake-it's an invitation to a deeper relationship with God. 
  • A miracle is the manifestation of His heart. Our Christ-like character is shaped through obedience to Him. Power in God doesn't exist only to help us overcome sin-Jesus has already done that. 

BSSM Day 1, Tuesday September 13:
  •  Tying into Bill's message on Sunday-The miracle is to be the lens with which you view your next problem. A miracle reveals God's character and says what He's like. It's a dependable source that says God's desire is for healing, restoration and freedom-in the next problem/circumstance as well as the last. 

BSSM Day 2, Wednesday September 14:
Kris Vallotton
  • Word of Knowledge-currently true and measurable
  • Prophecy-a foretelling and forth telling 
The importance of identity in Christ-
  • A man raised in internal slavery cannot free people from external slavery.
  • When you don't love who God has made you you tend to push others away that place a value on you.
  • You become what you think the most important person in your life thinks you are...You'll become what God thinks of you.
  • Oftentimes we try to get by performance what we already received by grace and faith.
Condemnation: you lied, you're a liar. Your bad behavior determines your identity
Conviction: from the Holy Spirit, you're acting below your nature and below what God has called you to be, so stop.

BSSM Day 3, Thursday September 15:
Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson

The importance of our royal identity as sons and daughter of the King-as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
It's an insult to the artist if we trash the painting-God was the artist, Jesus the model and you are the painting.
  • When you pray to God and not with God, you can miss what he is doing and miss his heart.
  • God wants us to experience the joy of giving away his presence.
  • God lights the fire on the altar of sacrifice but the priests keep adding to the fire. 
  • A lot of stuff gets blamed on the sovereignty of God...
  • Most of what you need in life will be brought to you. Most of what you want you'll have to reach for. What are you willing to sacrifice for/reach for to know and see his will be done?
  • Mark 6:52-51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
  • Why do you reason that you have no bread-after he's already provided for in that way?
  • Hardness-we lose focus of the resources of Heaven and abandon what we have access to.
  • When we honor someone, it allows us to function under their authority
  • Power and authority-two complimentary realms that allow us to be used
  • Power-a wave, to catch and cooperate and be used with the Spirit
  • Authority-based on our faith in who God is and what He says about us.
  • The Father cannot be fully revealed/shown without the power to destroy the works of the devil. God is capable AND has the heart to show it.
BSSM Day 4, Friday September 16:
Bill Johnson

  • God knows when to delay an answer-it gains interest. When it finally comes, it'll be greater than when you first asked because God has done an invaluable work in you so that you may receive a greater answer. 
  • If you hunger for a realm of breakthrough (i.e. every broken bone you prayed for God would heal), God wanted it first. God is still more moved for others than we are.
  • The person who can't ever rejoice over a healed headache can't be trusted with an empty wheelchair.
  • Are we trustworthy stewards of the acorn, though we pray for an oak tree. The Kingdom sees the potential. What we see in the natural is just a seed compared to the spiritual. 
  • Enduring prayer makes us more ready to receive the answer.
  • Many people tolerate loss and call it discipline from God. God doesn't give the thief permission to steal. The devil's not God's employee. 

Wow...Week one of BSSM has been...full. These are just the most main points of each day. Every bullet I compiled also came with a story, testimony, scripture, illustration etc to make the point hit to our hearts.

Sunday morning: Bethel Church

I felt like God said to me, You will glean from the mothers and fathers here who have seen God move throughout the nations. There are valuable, golden lessons to be learned through the testimonies of those who have gone before you. Write them down as a pillar of hope and as a radical display of God's goodness.

Bill Johnson:

  • Israel focused on the acts of God, Moses sought his ways and his nature. When we rejoice only over what God's done, then when he doesn't do what we want him to do, we'll question his goodness.
  • God will is never judged by mans response to His will, or our ability to carry it out.
  • Gifts are free, maturity is expensive. Maturity creates a platform for the weightiness of his glory. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Enounters-the first 2 weeks

So much has happened already in the past few weeks of my time in Redding. Classes haven't even started yet!

I have been getting to know the ministries Bethel has to offer- Last week I attended a Financial breakthrough, prophesy, worship and prayer night hosted by a student. It was about 100 lovers of Jesus packed into a house. We worshiped, heard amazing testimonies of God's provision, prayed for breakthrough that God would provide finances for BSSM tuition, and then shared words and encouragement with each other. This was one of my first tastes of a BSSM party.

Every night there is something to attend- Worship nights, prophecy parties (basically just a few hours of encouraging others from Scripture and declaring God's promises over each other!), barbeques, days at Whiskey Town Lake (15 minutes away), and of course getting involved in the official ministries at Bethel Church.

My first Saturday I went to Bethel's Healing Rooms-this ministry is world famous. I went an hour or so early to spend time in the Alabaster Prayer House, which is a building open 24/7 for prayer, worship, journaling, quiet time, intercession, etc.

The Healing Rooms run 9:00am-10:30am on Saturdays. When I arrived at 8am, there was already a line of people near and through the church doors. These people have come from all over the world to receive prayer, healing, and get a taste of the Bethel culture.

I didn't come to the Healing Room for physical healing-though I was able to observe while others prayed for healing. The requirement to pray for others there is to go through their prayer training-which I plan to attend starting next week! But there's a separate room for corporate worship, prayer, prophetic art, prophetic dance, journaling, communion, etc.

Last Thursday night I attended Embassy Young Adults, a ministry time for ages 18-39. The worship that evening was very powerful, and after a message about Jesus calling us friends I received very accurate prayer from the ministry team.

This past Sunday night Heid Baker came to visit and share about her ministry in Mozambique and other countries in Africa. I had never heard her speak before-but her reputation as a powerful, radical lover of Jesus preceded her. I stepped into the building expectant of what God was going to do that night through her. And wow...God showed up!

Her message was all about stopping for the one-first Jesus, our One, and then stopping for one of the 4.4 billion people in the world who don't know Christ and are dying of spiritual starvation. Heidi shared testimonies of physical provision-a physical multiplication of food for the orphans she cares for in many countries in Africa. At the end the call was to declare that we would stop for the One.

Then a vision she had was shared that will remain etched into my mind forever-
She saw this from above the earth-she was taken up and could see the whole world below her. Charging around the earth below were chariots of fire led by two, transparent saints. They were transparent because they knew no sin to hide them-they had been made clean! The other strange thing about these saints was their hearts-they were disproportionately sized and stretched shoulder to shoulder inside their chests. These saints had the hearts of Christ for the nations, Christ's heart for His people.

Though these saints were each supposedly leading these chariots of fire around the whole earth, the reins were suspended up above, even higher above the earth and the chariots. Jesus was holding all the reins in his left hand. Jesus then declared that He was holding the reins because the saints below need two hands to carry the sword-the sword of mercy and justice.

Oh, my heart MOVED at this call to take up the sword of mercy and justice as Jesus is holding control of the chariots. The Spirit was so thick in the room at that time-after the declaration of God's goodness and desire for mercy and His love to be shown through us to all nations. I have never experienced anything like this night. Jesus is so good to reveal His heart to us.

Last night was another amazing, Spirit-filled evening. My roommates and I invited our wonderful landlords over for dinner and dessert. Little did we know it would turn into ministry time! That tends to happen at any gathering here that consists of more than one believer! We all just felt so loved and cared for-we all received prayer and prayed for each other. The Spirit revealed Himself to me in new ways that I didn't fully understand but by which I was very encouraged. This house is as safe place for us to know Jesus and be known by Him.

Many months ago when God laid this call to Bethel on my heart a second time, I began to pray about what I would find here. I also began to pray against my fears. The unknown is scary and misunderstanding can cause hesitation or a hindrance from experiencing all that God is. I don't want a God that looks like me. If I can fully explain His every move and touch, then what sort of supernatural, omnipotent, Creator God is this?

Classes start today-and my prayer is the same-Jesus reveal yourself to my here, through this ministry school. Show me how to be a better lover of your people-a better steward of your gifts-a better revealer of your Truth to the world around me.

Thanks for sharing in this journey with me, my friends. God is doing a very good work through this time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Receiving Rest

I woke up this morning after a few hours of sleep. My first thought was of the intense awareness of God's Presence. My eyes opened and I laid there breathing in and out prayers of peace, of love and joy for provision, prayers that declare His faithfulness, prayers of pure thanksgiving to Jesus. Though I can't pinpoint or describe the process of change, it was a clear difference from yesterday.

It was like He softened my heart while I was I was resting and He came in and rained down life upon my spirit. Usually this feeling comes after travailing weeks of prayer, fasting, worshiping, journaling, and counseling. But today, I didn't do a thing to work for this peace, to search it out, to chase after it, to entice it near or to find it. I just slept. I just rested.

Perhaps this is the day I begin to learn the value of rest. Now I am realizing I don't have to push myself to be closer to Jesus-no longer do I need to try hard to feel His presence or work out the formula to encounter Him. He has just been knocking at the door...Jesus, come in! Come in and dwell here, make yourself known here, bring life and joy that emanates from your presence.

After writing this I felt a leading to read Zechariah 2:10-13

10“Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11“Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More love. More healing. More Jesus.

So much has happened since those few weeks in Bali. I have learned more about the heart of God than I have ever known. God has been revealing Himself in so many profound, encouraging, powerful, kind, gentle and loving ways. I have seen His provision and faithfulness countless times. The past few weeks before leaving Orange County comprised an amazing season of recounting God's goodness and just how specifically He answers prayers.

In July I had an opportunity to attend a home group where a mentor, pastor and friend of mine prayed for me. This prayer, second to the prayer I proclaimed when I was 13, has had the greatest impact on my life thus far. This pastor shared a vision and word that he received: Not only will you have a healing ministry, but you have a ministry specifically for people with broken bones, crooked bones, bones that hadn't healed right. You're going to pray for these people and God is going to heal them.

Ummm...what? Until that night I had never prayed on my own for a physical healing. I had studied the theory behind it-what it would look like, why it would happen-because it reveals God's love for us and His desire to bring wholeness to the entire person-Spirit and body.

That night God began a healing ministry through me-not because I was suddenly a better person or a more holy Christian-only because I had a small amount of faith in what God is like and what He desires, and I took a small step in obedience and prayed. He did the rest.

Since then God has been showing up in such powerful ways through physical healing. People are amazed that God cares enough that His presence and love takes away pain, headaches, dislocations, double vision, and healing beyond the physical as well.

I have learned that a physical healing goes far beyond making someone pain-free. It's literally an invasion of heaven into earth-where God's kingdom invades and casts away pain, darkness, suffering, loneliness, fear and hopelessness. It's a physical representation of His goodness, power, joy and absolute love for us. It's wonderful, profound, breathe-taking, and my mind cannot comprehend how it actually happens! It is beyond the natural, and beyond my ability to rationalize or reason. It is beautiful, and I am honored and so encouraged by what God has been doing.

My hope in sharing this story is that others would be equally encouraged by God's goodness. God is good all the time, and that has never changed. I don't know the depth of His love, but I'm pressing in to find out more of what that looks like.