It was New Year’s Eve 2019 and I didn’t want to stay up till midnight...but I couldn’t sleep. So the girl who happily goes to bed at 8 pm stayed up until 12:01 after all. And what did I do? Pray, of course. What did I pray for? Clear vision, of course. I had been hearing so many people saying, “2020 vision! Yes Lord!” as they looked forward to the new year. So, that night as I lay in bed I prayed for the Lord to bring clear vision to His Church (as a whole), and the individuals in it. And that’s how I prayed in the new year.
Well, the Lord has done it people! Little did we know, as we were nestled in the soft feathers of our comfort zones praying to the Lord this prayer which we had no understanding for, that it would be painful when He ripped the scales away from our eyes. Praise the Lord that He loves His children enough to chasten us!
He gave us a clear vision of the state of our hearts. Revealing to us things that need to change in our lives, our hearts, and in the way we do things. And He is still working, people! He is still pruning, purging, cutting away the excess flesh! He is cleaning His house just like in Mark 11:15-17. He is reminding us we must be disciples actively not just mentally, totally not just partially. There is no compromise. Count the cost and realize that you can’t afford not to pay it.
Since we mentioned Mark 11:15-17 I will bring us to something specific the Lord has been giving us clear vision for.
When Jesus goes into the temple and turns over the tables and chairs because His house has become a den of thieves, what does He say His house is supposed to be? A house of prayer for all nations! This is one of the things the Lord has been speaking to us about. So we are learning how to be a house of prayer. We know this is so important in reaching the nations, and in reaching the Kurds! If Jesus says it’s important then it IS important, and it better be important to us!
John Bunyan once said, “you can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
So Jesus is cleaning His house and giving us clear vision to see the den we have become, and the purpose we are meant to fulfill.
When Jesus was in Gethsemane and He asked the disciples to stay awake, they fell asleep. Judas was the only one who stayed awake, and it wasn’t to watch and pray with Jesus, it was to conspire against Him.
Nobody noticed Judas leave. Nobody noticed what the enemy was doing. Because nobody was awake. Nobody was watching and praying.
Jesus woke them up the first time He found them sleeping, but after that they were on their own until the moment when the enemy was at hand. And when the enemy came, every one of them forsook Jesus!
I believe the Lord woke some people up in 2020. Will they stay awake in 2021?
One thing I know, the enemy is not sleeping.
This blog may seem like a bunch of bunny trails to you. New Year’s Eve, 2020 vision, pruning, cleaning house, turning over tables, prayer, nations, falling asleep. But it’s really all to get at one question.
What are you going to do with the clear vision God has given you?
This is the question of 2021.
Can you believe we're still in 2020? It seems like the longest year ever!
We don't say that in a sad, depressing way... We're excited for what God is doing in us, in Nashville and all over the planet. He is moving, His Kingdom is advancing and the enemy can't stop it!
In March 2019, I (Josh) wrote this, "I believe 2020 is going to be a year of clear vision, clear purpose and clear revival!" I wasn't so much predicting the future as trusting God in all things.
Well, we're nearing the end of 2020 and God HAS given us a clear vision. He has given clear purpose and He has even started revival in our hearts and others who have joined us!
I was thinking about how blessed we are earlier this week. God truly is bigger, better and more beautiful that we can imagine!
The Times They Are Changing
When we started this journey into the unknown, we were just a lone family on a mission from God. He called us out into the wild to train us, to refine us, to walk with us. Now we're in Nashville and the vision keeps growing!
We have big announcements coming soon, but we want to get some things up online for you to read first! Websites (yes, plural) are coming!! People are coming! Nations are coming!
Thank you to all who have walked with us for the past 2+ years on this journey. The best is truly yet to come!!
There's a remnant that's rising in America. They don't want platforms or stages. Their motivation is not to sell a book, a song or anything the Lord has given them. They aren't concerned with retirement. They don't care about owning a house. They don't desire money, wealth, fame, notoriety or anything the world has to offer.
They want to be pure and holy, pleasing to the Lord. They want to see His glory cover the earth like the water covers the sea. They are separating themselves from the culture of the world, but at the same time, loving those who are stuck in it.
They operate in God's kingdom... away from politics, especially politics in the church. They stand on the Word of God and live that way because they know it is truth. They trust the Lord fully. They share the gospel of the kingdom with BOLDNESS and fresh revelation of the Spirit. The gospel is confirmed with signs and wonders, persecution and many coming into the kingdom.
They worship in Spirit and in truth.
Are you part of this remnant? You don't have to "be there yet." Let me give you some practicals:
What?? That's it? what about praying, sharing the gospel, preaching, working, even eating!
Hebrews 4 says this: 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
If you backup to Chapter 3 and into 4, the people didn't enter His rest because of unbelief. How many times do we worry, not trust, or do things in our own strength (because of unbelief)? Do we really trust Him? Just looking at my life, many, many times.
So, how do we live and act out of rest? It seems backward to us. Look, God doesn't get the glory when we do things in our own strength. EVEN GOOD THINGS.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
These people prophesied, cast out demons and performed many miracles... but they did it in their own strength. God gave them gifts, and they abused them. He worked through them mightily, but they didn't know Him. Many people are frightened by these verses, but again, stand on the Word... God did not give us a spirit of fear.
How do we know Him? Jesus defined eternal life as knowing the Father and the Son in John 17. We know Him by abiding.
Merriam-Webster defines abide as this: to wait for, to bear patiently, to accept without objection, to remain stable or fixed in a state, to continue in a place, to conform to.
John 15: 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Jesus is the vine and God the Father is the vinedresser. We don't have any life apart from Jesus. We get food, breath and life from the vine. The Father prunes our fruit-bearing branches (which can be very painful), and He gets rid of branches that don't bear fruit. If we are abiding in the vine, God is glorified and we bear much fruit.
Well, that sounds like God gets glory by letting Him do all the work?! EXACTLY! God the Father prunes! Jesus gives life and sustenance. It's totally opposite of our human nature. We want to have success, have numbers, look good to everyone else.
We have pride. God's way is opposite. It doesn't matter how it looks to man. How man defines success is not God's success. It can look terrible to everyone and still be God's plan. His ways are not our ways.
It's all to Him, through Him and for Him. It's not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit. We can do nothing apart from Him. Why do we try? Stop striving!
A remnant is rising.
They are preaching the gospel boldly.
They are being persecuted.
The Spirit is confirming the gospel with signs and wonders.
They are turning the world upside down.
Many are coming and will come into the Kingdom.
I’m going to try to cover some ground here that God has been speaking to me. There are a couple topics I have felt God highlighting recently and I believe they are connected. So, I’m going to try to process through them and find that bridge. Okay, let’s get going...
God is on the move and is orchestrating a work that is completely new; something that has never happened before. I know this deep down in my spirit, you know, that place that knows things before our minds completely understand.
We were meeting for our weekly prayer time with the prayer warriors at The Nest a few weeks ago and I opened my Bible to Isaiah 42.
vs 9: “Indeed, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
I read this to the group and prayed through it and the few verses before. As I finished, a few of them burst into song. It was an old hymn type song which I had never heard. When they finished they explained that it was written by one of their members years ago and based out of Isaiah 43. However, the theme was exactly the same as what I had read. Here are those verses from chapter 43:
vs 18-21: “Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will honor Me... because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. The people whom I formed for Myself will make known My praise.”
God is doing a new thing and we are all going to be forced to decide if we want to jump into the rivers He is forming in the desert. The decision is yours and yours alone. Will you join in with what God is doing? There is no middle ground in this next season. God is inviting us to release all things of the past and fully embrace what He is doing. It is an all or nothing decision...
And, that leads us to the other theme God has been showing me: old vs new wineskins.
Wine in the bible often represents the anointing of God. Jesus discussed wine and wineskins quite often in His teachings. In fact, His first public miracle was creating wine from water and His wine tasted far better than the older, aged wine. In that miracle, He was prophetically stating that He was bringing a far better anointing (wine). In Luke 5, Jesus addresses trying to use old wineskins to hold new wine (anointing). He said it doesn’t work. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will expand and burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
Let’s connect that concept to the former one of the season we are in: God is doing a new work. He is pouring out a fresh anointing that will grow and expand until the glory of the Lord covers the earth like the water covers the seas. The new wine of the Holy Spirit is coming and we have the opportunity to make our hearts and lives like new wineskins that are capable of holding the anointing. Which means we have the choice to embrace new wineskins or to hold onto the old wineskins in our lives.
I had been reading through Jeremiah and a verse sorta stopped me in my tracks. I read it and didn’t understand it at all, but I knew it was significant. Maybe it will be immediately clear to you, but it forced me to do a quick cross-reference study. Here it is:
Jer 48:11: Moab has been at ease from his youth; he has also been undisturbed, and settled like wine on his dregs, and he has not been emptied from one vessel to another, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore his flavor remains in him, and his scent has not changed.
Not immediately clear. I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad until I read the next verse:
vs 12: “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will send to Moab those who will tip him over and who will empty his vessels and break his [earthenware] jars in pieces.”
Now it was perfectly clear that what was going to happen to Moab was not a good thing for them. The question is, what was Moab guilty of? The cross-reference I found was for Zephaniah 1:12,
“It will come about at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps and I will punish the men who [like old wine] are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’”
Old wine! Moab was guilty of holding onto old wine and old wineskins, never willing to pour it out. They refused to embrace new wineskins. God is pounding the point home!
What were the acts that God highlighted about Moab that shows old wineskins? He says that Moab has been at ease, undisturbed and settled. He has not poured himself out. He holds onto his things and they remain with him.
Traditions, systems, structures, buildings, methods, strategies, styles, even the Holy Spirit inspired things of seasons past,.. all can represent old wineskins. God is doing something new and we need to be able to lay aside EVERYTHING to follow Him. He is moving and He is making His name known on the earth. However, it is just going to look different than anything we have yet seen.
We cannot be led by traditions. We cannot be led by systems. We cannot be led by strategies or methods or styles or even something that worked really well in the past. God is inviting us into a deeper relationship with Him where everything we do is completely dependent on Him. Everything. We must let go and step fully into this move of God.
There is great risk to live this abandoned life. But, I believe there is greater risk if we choose to hold onto a piece of the old. At best, we miss the move of God in this moment of history. At worst, the destruction that came to Moab will come to us. There is no middle ground. There is no place for holding onto things of the past for comfort. God desires to be our only comfort, our only option, and our only dependence.
He loves us that much.
Do you know there are things you can pray that God has to answer?
Matthew 9:38 says, ""Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."
I love using the NASB version of the bible for this verse. Beseech is not a word I hear anyone use. However, the English language does not translate this word well. Most translate it as pray or ask. That's very dull compared to the original.
It means beg, implore, in earnest! Also, send out is not just a peaceful sending of people. This "send out" is the same word elsewhere in the Bible where Jesus says, "If I cast out demons by the finger of God..." Can you imagine how fast a demon must move when the finger of the holy God comes in?? This is a thrusting, hurling out!
Back to Matthew, if we pray, beg, ask, implore the Lord of the harvest to thrust out, force out, hurl forth workers, He must respond. This is not only a promise, but a command! God's word does not return void!
Let's look at one more simple example. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
Again, God is tied to His word. 1) If you lack wisdom 2) ask God 3) it will be given to you! and generously! Praise the Lord! We can stand on His word. It continues that when you ask, you should not doubt.
Look for these promises as you read the word. Here's one that's been particularly moving me lately. In Romans 4, there are two beautiful verses, "16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which DOES NOT EXIST (emphasis mine).
He calls into being that which does not exist! We know that from creation, but He is still doing it. When we got to Nashville, our team was our family. Mary and I and four kids, 12, 10, 4 and 3. Esther quickly joined us and we have had seven ever since.
We've been praying for a team for months, even before Nashville. We didn't want to convince people to join us, so we just kept praying. God, raise up laborers for the harvest... and send some here! After a few months, Mary got some more direction on what specifically to pray.
1 Chronicles 12 has some great gems about the people who joined David. They were able to shoot arrows or sling stones right or left-handed. They were brave warriors, ready for battle, and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were like lions and they were as swift as gazelles.
This really spoke to us and so we began to pray: God bring flexible people. People trained for war. People able to do different things.
Shortly after we began doing this, I distinctly heard, "Call them forth!"
Now, I want to be clear, this is not some weird "name it claim it" ridiculousness. This is spending time with the Lord, discerning His heart on the matter and working with Him in the spiritual realm. For our battle is not against people, it's against principalities and powers, and things unseen.
So, when God says it's time, it's time. We are calling them forth, because that's what God is doing. Prayer isn't really moving God, it's us moving toward His heart.
So, in faith, we began to call them forth. An army. A mobile militia that will wreak havoc on demonic forces. On dead religion. An army that will advance the Kingdom of God at all costs.
I'm glad I didn't post this when I originally wrote it two weeks ago. I want to preface the end with this... We can't make decisions for people or even convince them to join us. It has to be God. He gets all the glory. Also, people make decisions and have their own backstory of how God spoke to them about coming to Nashville. With all that said...
On Saturday, a family of 5 is coming to join the army, along with a young couple who are on fire for the Lord. More than that, two other families are coming just to see what God's doing here. There's another family who leaves on Saturday that is praying about moving and joining the body here as well. God is doing something in middle Tennessee, and it's bigger than any of us.
Pray His words and He will answer.
It's almost become anti-American. We work, we buy, repeat. We build a house, we work, we save, in hopes that when we retire (and until then), we'll be self-sufficient. We won't need anyone, because WE were responsible. We were smart with our finances. We were... safe.
I'm starting to really dislike how that word is being used.
Stay safe. Stay 6 ft apart.
Stay safe. Stay at home.
Stay safe. Don't come to church if you're sick. (assuming your church has even opened)
I've heard people misuse the quote by Corrie Ten Boom, "The safest place is in the center of God's will," to mean that God keeps us safe in the temporal no matter what. What a horrible joke. Let me put this as clear as I can:
God absolutely does not want us to be 'safe' (as the world defines it) in this life.
Wait, I thought this blog was about independence. It is. Safety, being taken care of, having all our needs met through our own 'responsible' labor, so that we can go through life with ease is why independence is a goal of so many in America. To have what I want, when I want it. To live 'comfortably'. To have access to all the amenities. To push buttons and things happen that didn't happen for thousands of years.
Independence is not needing anyone. We can do it alone with hard work and good morals.
Some would say, "But I do need people! I need people working at Amazon so I can order whatever I want and have it shipped to my house. I need people to fix my car. I need people to start restaurants so I can go out to eat. I need gas stations. I need this... that... I'm not independent!"
But yet we work so that we can be as independent as possible. We work so we have safety and comfort. We work so we can live better than kings did for thousands of years.
Many of us will do everything our boss tells us to do for money. But we won't do what our Lord tells us to do for love. - Kris Vallotton (paraphrased)
If you love me, keep my commandments. - Jesus
The real question is why? Why do we place such an outrageous value on independence?
The answer: FEAR!
What if I can't provide for my family? What if I'm old and I have no one to take care of me? I need to make enough money so I can continue my comfortable existence and not be a burden to anyone.
"Safety in light of eternity is to be in God's will."
"But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God."
"But I'm not following idols!" we exclaim. Listen, the devil has gotten a lot sneakier when it comes to idols. They are in the very fabric of what most call American.
Jesus said in John 8:28, "I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me..." Did you catch that?? "I do nothing on My own..."
JESUS! God. The savior of the world!! He stated that He does nothing on His own. That is dependence. That is not independence. He didn't even come to do His own will or be served. We are always thinking of ways we can be served... comfort, convenience, a life of ease. We are selfish! Oh, Lord! Help us to be dependent on YOU!
WE CAN DO NOTHING without HIM! Nothing. The very breath we breathe is His.
Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Let's look at some of those commands.
Love your enemies.
Bless those that persecute you.
Do not store up treasures on earth... Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
Do not worry about what we should eat, what we should wear.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, "While people are saying, 'Peace and SAFETY,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."
SAFETY. Independence. FEAR.
Back to Corrie Ten Boom. Her quote is exactly right if you're not in the temporal, not in the world.
Safety in light of eternity is to be in God's will.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31
I'm all for hard work. I'm all for true wisdom. I'm not for lies in our motivation; lies that deceive our own hearts.
Pray with me today Psalm 139:23-24
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
Lord, I repent for all the ways my heart has put my labor, my safety, my independence and my fears ahead of you. Forgive me of my sin in these areas and Holy Spirit, testify to the truth in my life. Help me to not fall into these lies again. Wake me up from my sleep and apathy.
In Jesus name,
Tear down the idols in your life. Ask the Lord what they are. Wait on Him. Repeat.
We have been in Nashville for just over 4 months. It’s amazing to step into what God has prepared for us here in this region, and it’s not at all like we had expected... I guess that’s pretty typical on this journey of following the voice of our Father.
We arrived in March and circled the city with prayer, worship and intercession. Then, we had high hopes to enter the city, similar to how Joshua led the Israelites into Jericho way back in Old Testament times. Turns out that wasn’t what God had planned. We are not yet physically entering the city, but we are continuing to take ground in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12 “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”
God has arranged our steps so that we have landed at a beautiful retreat center just 15 minutes north of downtown Nashville. The Nest sits nestled into 127 acres of tree covered hills. There is a chapel and full kitchen/dining/library building, along with a shower house. The leadership of The Nest are among the most gracious and humble people we have ever encountered. We have been welcomed into family. Though small in number, this group of seasoned warriors have an intense love for God and their pursuit of revival is essential and powerful in this region.
As we have spent the past couple months at this facility we have experienced the mercy of God in new ways. He is reminding us of his grace and his power and his love, even in the middle of a major pandemic. We have felt God refining us and getting rid of junk that we have unknowingly allowed to muddy up our hearts. He is such a good Father and He has a dream for us. This dream is part of His larger plan to see His glory cover the earth like the waters cover the seas. Habakkuk 2:14 “The time will come when all the earth is filled, as the waters fill the sea, with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.”
God has confirmed to us that Nashville is strategic to reach the nations. (Please check out Josh’s post titled, “Light Shines in the Darkness,” for all the stats to support that. It’s a great post!) We know that God spoke to us about reaching the Kurdish people, but it is going to be accomplished vastly different from what we had thought.
Last year, we felt the Holy Spirit tell us that our names are prophetic. Josh is to lead people into the Promise Land; the promise land is life in Christ. My name, Mary, is like Mary of Bethany who sat at Jesus’ feet and worshipped. We believe that we are to advance the Kingdom of God and our weapons of spiritual warfare are worship, prayer and intercession.
Jesus brought old testament scriptures into new testament life and declared, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations…” Mark 11:17. This is it folks. We have been given the next stage of our journey and it involves us sitting at the feet of Jesus. We know that our family is to focus our attention and energy on worship and intercession in order to reach the nations.
Over and over again God has confirmed that this is how He created us to function. It is not the only way God will bring the nations of the world to Jesus, but it is the way God has put before us. It doesn’t mean that we won’t go out and share the gospel with Kurdish people and others, but the first fruits of our time, energy and resources will be spent at the feet of Jesus. We must advance the Kingdom of God on our knees in prayer.
One of my favorite things to do is sleep. Yes, it is a sad thing when you think about it. But what can I say? Sleep is great! When I sleep I’m comfortable, I don’t have to think about anything, I don’t have to do anything... In fact I like my sleep so much that, here in the Hoeckle bus, I wear earplugs to sleep.
One night God woke me up saying, “Take your earplugs out so you can hear Me.” I was like, “God, I’m pretty sure these earplugs cannot keep you from speaking to me.” But as confused as I was, I still took them out and laid back down with all the little kid noises impairing my sleep. A couple nights later God woke me up again saying the same thing, “Take your earplugs out so you can hear Me.” This time I was annoyed. “Come on God, I just want to sleep! I don’t want to take my earplugs out!” But again I obeyed anyways.
I had no idea what this meant. But I was talking with a friend about the Church being spiritually asleep and “ding!” A lightbulb turned on and I realized the whole earplug thing was a prophetic picture. The reason why some believers are asleep is because they WANT to sleep! They want to keep their earplugs in so they will not be awakened. They want to remain in their comfort where no action is required of them. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.” Proverbs 24:33
During these times we are in I have seen God using the circumstances to wake people up who had been sleeping. But I have also seen some of us who seem to be lulled to sleep as we take advantage of the “ebb.” We hear, “Stay home, stay safe.” And think, “Now that sounds nice!” After all, at home and surrounded by our comforts is the safest place to be.
Please don’t take this wrong. If you want to stay home that’s fine. That’s just the physical side of things. I just want to make sure to also consider the spiritual side of things (there is always a spiritual side, which is usually more important). So I think there are some questions we should ask ourselves. Was I doing anything for the Kingdom before this? Am I doing anything now? Am I attached to my comforts? AM I ASLEEP?
Over and over in the Bible we are admonished to stay awake, stay sober, stay alert.
Matthew 26:40-41 Then He (Jesus) came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
So easily we fall into slumber because our flesh is weak.
Matthew 25:1-13 is a parable of ten virgins. The five wise virgins were ready with oil in their lamps as they waited for the bridegroom. The five foolish virgins were not ready, they had no oil, and they fell asleep. When they tried to get in through the door at the wedding, the bridegroom would not let them in. He said, “I do not know you.”
When you are comfortable you fall asleep. When you are uncomfortable you automatically seek what you think will make you comfortable. I find that God is continually making me uncomfortable in order to reveal to me the things I desire above Him. Some of the best advice I have found is in the words of a hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” When we look fully at Jesus and put Him as our greatest desire, all other desires fade and comfort becomes irrelevant.
Open your eyes and turn them to Jesus. Take the plugs out of your ears so you can hear what He is saying to you. “Awake you who sleep! Arise from the dead and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14
Sleep is overrated.
In 2013 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Earlier that same year, 2 babies died in my womb. It was a rough year. In October the chemotherapy began. My hair fell out, my body began to decay and my white blood cells were nearly zero October-December. I was hospitalized for 6 nights because I spiked a fever and they couldn’t find the infection. Since I had no white blood cells I had to be hooked up to antibiotics. It was miserable to say the least…
But, God... His grace covered me. Psalm 91 became my lifeline. I would lay in bed, all alone in that hospital, hating everything about that sterile room. Tears would pour down my cheeks as I tried to fall asleep each night listening to truth in song. I would hold my phone next to my ear in order to have the truth of the scriptures speak louder than my despairing thoughts.
Psalm 91: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He alone is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions. And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noon…
Deep and unwavering trust began to take root in my heart. I began to believe everything I had ever read in the Word of God. Every word is true. God became so close to me in those 2 months of heartache and pain and suffering and hopelessness and loss. In my darkest hour of life, the Light of the world burst forth. Not with exuberant shouting, but with peace and hope and steadfast lovingkindness. I felt that I was in the middle of a raging river holding onto a rope for dear life. The rushing current whipping me back and forth as I held tight. That rope was Jesus. The peace that surpasses all understanding was guarding my heart and my mind as I was clinging to Jesus! The scripture is REAL!
In that time I still feared dying, but with a whole lot less intensity. I actually believe that to live is to be completely hidden in Christ and to die would be gain. I would be home with Jesus, my beautiful savior and King.
This pandemic is producing a sifting in every person. I met a new friend yesterday and she told me that each one of us is being given this season as an opportunity to grow. Some may feel the growing pains and decide that it is too painful. Those people may shy away from that pain and remain stuck in their behaviors and beliefs, refusing to embrace the growth. However, many will embrace growth! And as we allow growth to happen, we will walk strongly into the new truth (not new normal!) of what God is doing.
When I was a young child, maybe 8ish, I was reading my sweet precious moments Bible and Matthew 25:31-end of chapter broke into my innocent heart. I had a real moment with God as He planted this passage deeply into my soul. I believe it has truly shaped me. Now, I’m feeling the conviction of that passage again and I can see how the enemy of our souls is working mercilessly to tempt us to neglect those we are called to be with.
Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison,and you came to me [ignoring personal danger]. [The righteous will say, “Lord, when did we do these things?”] The King will answer and say to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for me.”
In many places across our nation and the world, our authorities are forbidding us from completing any of these things mentioned above. We are forbidden from visiting those in prison. And, many of the people in our lives are succumbing to the fear of sickness and refusing to even smile at the sick, much less visit them. People are ostracized and quarantined and isolated. People are actually isolating themselves! We met an older couple full of the Love of God a few weeks back. They were heartbroken because their son is in prison and they are forbidden to visit him. Because of the fear masquerading inside of a health pandemic, even a mother and father have been forced to abandon their son.
What are we supposed to do as followers of Christ? We are commanded to pray for peace in the land and to honor those in authority. I firmly believe that every one of the disciples that followed Jesus walked in love and peace. However, they also caused intense political and religious disruption. All of them were either killed or imprisoned because of their obedience to the will of God over the will of the government.
The times we are living in are unparalleled in history. The eyes of our hearts are being opened to the tactics of the enemy to distort our love. What DOES love look like? It is such a powerful question to ask! The answer to that question is found in only 1 source: God. God is love. Love is not to be “nice” or make others feel good. Love can only be defined through the powerful word of God. The life of Jesus and the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures offer complete knowledge of how to love well.
We want to challenge you to align your heart and your mind with the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 states that all disciples of Jesus have been given the mind of Christ. However, we have the choice to fill our minds with garbage. If you are filling your life up with any other source more than The Source of Life, the mind of Christ might be on mute.
Whatcha gonna do? Turn off the mainstream media. Stop scrolling on Insta where the ideas of every single person on earth are available. Don’t turn to your mom or dad or friend or neighbor. Your local government might be awesome or totally deceived, but they are NOT the Truth. There is only 1 source. Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life.
What is He saying?
What is He doing?
What is He asking you to do?
Ask the creator of every human being what LOVE looks like.
Be the powerful child of God you were created to be.
Scripture is so clear. The same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is alive and at work inside of us. Do you believe that?! I mean, really deep down believe that the power of God is flowing through your veins? Ask God for fresh passionate revelation of what love, without fear, looks like. Love like that.
I want to welcome you on this journey with me: this journey of Truth. If you don’t agree with me, please pray and seek God for yourself. Ask God to reveal his heart to you and me. The enemy is using the media and those with worldly “authority” to silence the bride of Christ. If you hate what I’m saying, please pray for me. Pray that the Holy Spirit would take this conviction away from me. I don’t want to make a stink or ruffle any feathers. It would be so much easier to simply bow down to the wisdom of man. But, the question that keeps shouting in my heart is, “Does the church get a pass from being the church in this season?” NO! We must still be the church. We have the Spirit of God living in us. KNOW WHO YOU ARE!! You are a new creation! If you have made Jesus LORD of your life, you are no longer a mere human. You are something this world has never seen.
And, if we perish, we perish.
Such a short word. Yet, He is infinite.
He's so much bigger than we can understand, but He still wants to be near to us.
His Word tells us that He is near to the brokenhearted. Psalms also promises that He is near to all who call upon Him. The book of James says to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Hebrews, Isaiah, Acts, Jeremiah and so many more books tell of the nearness of God.
It's so important for us to remember and proclaim these promises, especially when we are feeling far from God. Many times I've let my feelings get in the way of the truth of God's word. But, when we fill ourselves with His truth, the enemy's lies have no ground to stand.
We can trust our Father to be near always, even during the hard times.
We've been in Nashville for three months, but we've only been "on the ground" for a few weeks. We've been laying a foundation of prayer around the city for longer that I had planned.... but not longer than God had planned.
I want to give you some interesting facts about Nashville:
-13-15 mosques (depending where you draw the metro lines)
-Holds the largest Hindu Temple in Tennessee, along with 3 or 4 other temples
-9+ Buddhist temples
-A full scale replica of the Parthenon from ancient Athens, Greece with a 40+ ft statue covered in gold of Athena, Goddess of wisdom/war etc.
-14 metaphysical stores, also known as occult/pagan/witchcraft stores (to give you an idea, Houston metro has 7 million people and 9 metaphysical stores, Nashville has 1.7 million people and 14 stores) In fact, we ran into a witch casting spells at the capitol building during one of our prayer walks.
-Greek mythology is celebrated clearly through one of the city's nicknames, "The Athens of the South", to the football team, the Titans, and everywhere in between.
-The "heroes" of this town and state are men who brought slaves to build the first forts. They also wiped out the Native Americans that had lived here for centuries. The Trail of Tears you can actually walk on by the Cumberland river. Over 6000 died on that torturous trail. There's not even one reservation in Tennessee. The American Indians were all forced to go to Oklahoma.
-Slaves, hired by the government, built the capitol building, modeled after a Greek Ionic temple.
Lynchings were early in the state's history as well as Indian massacres.
-Besides Athena, the city literally raises up idols in the form of musicians.
I could seriously go on and on... But, I want to share another two nicknames of Nashville, "The Buckle of the Bible Belt," and "The Protestant Vatican."
Let that sink in for a little bit...
Are there Christians here? Absolutely. Are there Pharisees? Absolutely. Is there dead religion? Yes. Is there every form of evil? Yes. Is Nashville a very dark city? Undeniably, yes!
Is there a God who is bigger than all of it?? Praise the Lord, YES!!
Romans 5:20 says this, "But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,"
You see, where darkness seemingly reigns, God's grace has surpassed it!
Matthew 4:16, in referring to Isaiah 9, says, "“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”
And, in John 1:5, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Jesus is the Light. In Romans 13:14, Paul says to "Put on Christ!" We must clothe ourselves with Jesus if we want to break through the darkness. We must abide in Him. We must rely on Him. For the sake of the many lost who don't know Him and don't understand Him.
I talked with one man here in Nashville whose daughters go to a local school in southern Nashville. There are people from 90 different countries in their school, speaking 100+ languages. NINETY! That is close to half of the nations in the world!
Then you have the Kurdish people. We are talking about a city with 600+ churches and a plethora of christian nonprofits, and yet, there are only two women missionally working full-time with Kurds. Two. Are you kidding me?? This is the largest population of Kurdish people in the U.S. They are the largest unreached people group in the world. There are more than 20k+ Kurdish living in the buckle of the bible belt with hundreds of churches surrounding them... and yet, the workers truly are few.
PLEASE... pray with us as the Lord commanded, Matthew 9:38, "therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
He truly is near to us. If you would like more information about our work in Nashville, please contact us. We are praying for more workers, for protection from the enemy and so much more.
Blessings to you all!
We're a family of six living full-time in a skoolie (aka a school bus converted into an RV). We are inviting you to join us as we live life to its fullest and empower others to do the same. Welcome to the family!