Isaiah 5

As a teacher, the Lord was really gracious to me in many ways. I was slow to anger and almost never allowed my children to see it when I was. However, there were sure ways to real test me in that area. In particular, I had pretty near zero-tolerance for unrepentant grumbling. You see, in my mind, the kids were pretty fortunate to have me as their teacher. They knew that they were loved and that Rue and I sacrificed a lot on their behalf, which we were glad to do. In general, they were thankful and complained little. However, every once in awhile the class wouldn’t get their way. Maybe they couldn’t play in the gym like they wanted or eat all of their Halloween candy in class. Perhaps I forbade them from bringing their cell phones or required that they where uniforms. Whatever the issue might be, every once in awhile the entire class would rise up in a cacophony of grumbling. (Did I use that word correctly?). Sometimes I would just look at them with an expression that screamed, “Really??!!” Other times I was weaker and begin to list all the reasons they should have attitudes of gratitude. Didn’t they get how good they had it? Had I not yet proven that I was working for their good?

I was reminded of this today as I read Isaiah 5. Isaiah sings this little love ditty about a beloved and His bride who turns out to be a very disappointing wife indeed. He uses the imagery of a vineyard that produced sour grapes. At the end of the parable, the listeners find out that they–the people of israel–are the sour grapes. The Lord ends the parable with this statement and question:

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done to it?”

Wow.

I am so quick to bring a charge against the Lord. I accuse Him of withholding from me or not blessing me in the way that I feel I deserve.

I feel nauseous even typing that. The words of Romans 8:32 echo in my mind: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

The Lord gave me His son. Is there really anything that He hasn’t done for me? Do I really have the nerve and so much pride that I would accuse Him of withholding? I need to be reminded over and over again of the infinite worth of Jesus. I want to heed the words of the author of Hebrews to not neglect such a great salvation.

I think Psalm 16 says it best:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Thank You so much my inheritance of You, Jesus. You are beautiful.

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Different

psalm-16I have been an intern at the International House of Prayer for about four months now. I have often considered if I have changed much over that time as it can sometimes be difficult to track changes in one’s own heart.

Well, today I began to read my old teaching blog from five years ago. As I was invited back into many deep memories so many emotions were awakened. But what struck me the most was how dark nearly all of the posts were that related to myself. Even up to the last six months before coming here, nearly every post that spoke about myself was negative. I was constantly berating myself and condemning who I was. My entire focus was on my own wretchedness which often translated into me begging the Lord not to leave me. I wrote this two years ago:

I am tired of many things.

I am tired of my excuses.
I am tired of believing the lies.
I am tired of being lukewarm.
I am tired of living defeated.
I am tired of settling.
I am tired of being a slave.
I am tired of trying to serve two masters.
I am tired of loving the opinion of man more than Jesus.

In other words, I am tired of being a sell-out.

But what if things were different?
What if I were sold-out for Jesus rather than continually being a sell-out?
What would happen? How would my life look different.

I’m not sure….but I want to find out.

So many prayers over the years begging the Lord to change me. And He certainly has answered my prayers. The change didn’t occur in a single moment, but over time. Like the steady rising of a tide, my heart has been transformed. I can now see what I never could before:

He delights in me. He sings praises over me and dances wildly around me. The trials that He brings me through are for my good. My name is engraved on His palms. He doesn’t despise my weak love. He knows the difference between immaturity and rebellion. Even my weakest ‘yes’ moves Him. One glance of my eye overwhelms Him. He is committed to me. He is captivated by my beauty. Like a husband fights for his wife, so much more so is my bridegroom fighting for his bride. He sees me different than everyone else. He removes my shame. I have a choice. He isn’t angry with me or disappointed. He loves me in a way no one else ever will. I don’t need to beg him–it is He who is imploring me to change my heart. He loves me.

I am dark, but I am lovely.

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ, who refused to allow me to offer up my life to the altar of self-hatred.

I love You.

Bren

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Works

All my life, I have been convinced I can earn things. I worked to be a varsity starter, break records, graduate at the top of my class and…prove to God that I was worth saving.

For over a decade, I have pursued such works with zeal. I’ve gone to over a dozen countries preaching the gospel, discipled hundreds of teens and lived in what of the darkest counties in the nation.

What have I to show myself? Does God love me more now?

Through His word, He is showing me that He loves me completely and perfectly right now. He actually isn’t impressed with all my vain attempts to earn a love that He has freely given. Quite the contrary. In fact, He has really convicted me about all my works and shown me the poor motives often behind them.

So what am I supposed to do, just sit here??!!

Today, I found what I am to work at:

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to do be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent (John 6:29).””

Did you catch that? I am to work at believing in the Son of Man–in everything he did, said and established. In others, I am to work for more faith.

Now the Bible clearly teaches that faith is also a gift from God:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9).

In other words, do you want to do ‘works’ for God–have faith. You want to have faith? Can’t work for it. You’ve got to go to the source, God himself.

For me, I am left with this realization: There is absolutely nothing I can work for that doesn’t require the partnership and unending grace of God. Wow. Nada.

This is a bit scary for me, but oh so freeing! I don’t have to worry whether or not my works are impressing Him–I can just know they aren’t! However, when He and I work together to glorify His name–wow! That moves HIs heart! No, it doesn’t earn me more or less love, but it does mean something to Him.

That’s enough for me.

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To trust or not to trust?

“Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust decide you by promising…” (2 Kings 19:10)

Once upon a time, there was a great king named Hezekiah. The Lord wrote this about him: “He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. (2 Kings 18:5-7).” 

Hezekiah trusted and held fast. As a result, the Lord was him and blessed him with His sovereign favor. Is that not incredible? 2 Kings 18 goes on to say that the Lord enabled him to whip some really tough armies that had repeatedly harassed Israel.

But one day, it is time to face Assyria–the nation that utterly destroyed the Northern kingdom of Israel shortly before. Now Hezekiah, king of the southern kingdom, is facing Israel’s greatest enemy to date. The brazen and belligerent manner of the king gives me chills. Rabshakeh says to them:

‘Has my master sent me to speak theses words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?…Hear the word of the great king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do no let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you turst in the Lord by saying The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the Assyria. Do not listen to Hezekiah…Make your peace with me and come out to me.’

Several other taunts are shouted out, poisonous seeds of doubt meant to sow distrust in the Lord in the hearts of the people of Israel. How does the good king of Israel reply as his people are being subject to such remarks, their brethren’s defeat fresh in their minds?

He says nothing. 

Instead, at his command, he and all of Israel remained silent. And Hezekaiah went before the Lord and prayed:

“Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

And the Lord God answered: 

“Thus says theLord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.”

In a God-ordained turn of events, the Lord sent an angel who struck down 185,000 men in the camp of the Assyrians. They awoke that next morning beside the dead bodies of their comrades. Not surprisingly, they retreated without a single sword being raised by Israel. 

God.is.trustworthy.

Then why don’t I trust Him? I hear this derisive shout:

“Thus shall you speak to Brennen, daughter of the Most High: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising…”

Don’t let Him deceive you…He isn’t safe…He’s secretly angry with you…He’s like every other person in your life…He will wound your heart…don’t be so stupid as to believe his promises…

And tragically, I often don’t. Oh yes, His kindness leads to me repentance, but what am I missing out on? What dragon was the Lord willing and waiting to slay but my distrust stayed His hand? What more is out there for those who fully trust Him?

Let us see…

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord (Psalm 32:11).”

 

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The End of Scriptures

There are literally thousands of people groups around the world who have no access to a Bible in their own language. Can you imagine that? How many do you have? How precious to you is the Word of God? Would you be willing to lay down your life for access to Scripture? Are our iphones more important to us than the Bible?

I read the following account when I was a teenager and recently again as an adult:

16 years old, Asia 1970s – The Communist soldiers had discovered their illegal bible study. As the Pastor was reading from the bible, men with guns suddenly broke into the home, terrorizing the believers who had gathered to worship. They shouted insults and threatened to kill the Christians. The leading officer pointed his gun at the pastor’s head. “Hand me your bible” he demanded. Reluctantly the pastor handed over his bible, his prized possession. With a sneer on his face, the guard threw the bible to the floor. He glared at the small congregation. “We will let you go” he growled, “but first you must spit on this book of lies. Anyone who refuses will be shot.” The believers had no choice but to obey the officer’s order. A soldier pointed his gun at one of the men. “You first”. The man slowly got up and knelt down by the Bible. Reluctantly, he spat on it, praying, “Father, please forgive me.” He stood up and walked to the door. The soldiers stood back and allowed him to leave.“Okay, you!” the soldier said, nudging a woman forward. In tears, she could barely do what he demanded. She spat only a little, but it was enough. She too was allowed to leave. Quietly a young girl came forward. Overcome with love for her Lord, she knelt down and picked up the bible. She wiped off the spit with her dress. “What have they done to your Word? Please forgive them,” she prayed. The Communist soldier put his pistol to her head and pulled the trigger.

Do I really love the Bible? Doubtful. I don’t recall this story to feel guilty. I recall it as a challenge to my life. You see, I believe that a day in the very near future is coming when we will not have ready access to the Bible. I think that sooner than any of us could fathom, Bibles will be illegal, deemed a form of hate speech. What would I do if I faced imprisonment or death if I chose to secretly read the Bible? What if all copies of the Bible were destroyed. What would I do? How would my faith endure? Would I be ready?

I have a friend who has spent the last year memorizing the book of Romans. She isn’t finished yet, but she is committed. Now this friend doesn’t have a photographic memory, tons of time or any other skill that would predispose her to making scripture memory easier–except that she is dedicated. If she lives to see the day that Bibles are forbidden, no government official will be able to take the Word from her–it will be written on her heart. Indeed, if she goes to a foreign nation where the gospel is illegal, she could bring the Word of God to unreached peoples because she has put the work in to memorize the Bible while she has access to it.

This has really inspired me. I have watched her labor for over a year and made several excuses as to why I shouldn’t do the same, but no longer. Being inspired by her example, I am committed to memorizing the gospel of Mark. This may take me several months, but with disciplined practice, it is entirely feasible.

Memorizing entire books of the Bible isn’t a new idea. Historically, Jewish boys learned the entire Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) by the time they were 12. Can you imagine memorizing the book of Numbers?? That’s incredible! Indeed, there are many people all throughout the persecuted church that have also committed large portions of Scripture to memory because they so treasure what we so often take for granted.

What if 66 people committed to each memorizing one book of the Bible? Then, as long as they were alive, so too would the Word of God endure! What if those people taught two other people to do the same? Can you imagine the impact?

If you want to consider taking up this challenge and discipline, here are some books of the Bible that are great starting points:

  • Philippians (all)
  • Colossians (all)
  • 2 Timothy (all)
  • James (all)
  • 1 Peter (all)
  • 1 John (though this one is tough because of how cyclical it is)

Here’s a great resource to get you started:

http://www.fbcdurham.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Scripture-Memory-Booklet-for-Publication-Website-Layout.pdf

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11Image

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The Death of Ezekiel’s Beloved

Today I am finishing up the book of Ezekiel. I’ve read it before but it has been years–probably close to a decade. Thus far, he is my favorite of the prophets. I love the way You relate to him, calling him “Son of Man.”

I don’t remember much of the past readings, but today I came across the passage that deeply disturbed me those years ago:

The word of the Lord came to me: 16 d“Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. eBind on your turban, and fput your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, gnor eat the bread of men.”18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and hat evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did ias I was commanded.

Image

 I remember thinking that this action was particularly cruel. How could You kill the delight of his eyes when he had done so much for You.

You….the Great I AM. A

t 27, I can say that I now see this passage differently. I’ve read the book of Job and everything else in the Old Testament prior to this passage. If I have learned anything it is that You are a gracious, compassion and merciful God. Your ways are much higher than mine and I shall never grasp them. But that doesn’t mean I have to doubt your goodness. Indeed, I can take heart in knowing that You at all times are working for my good and the glory of Your Name. 

 

Ezekiel hadn’t done incredible things for You. You had done incredible things for Ezekiel and all the rest of broken humanity. 

I came across this poem by John Piper. How I praise You for that man’s life:

Ezekiel sat stunned and cold.
The word that he had just been told
Converted every large complaint
He ever made into a faint
Concern. No pain would be absurd,
He thought, if this one word
Of God could be withdrawn tonight,
“I would engage in any fight
For your great name, and be a fool
For you, bear any ridicule
In Babylon. If you would spare
Me this, I’ll serve you anywhere.”

Again the voice of God was clear:
“I know that she is far more dear
To you than life, and yet tonight
I strike and take your heart’s delight:
Your wife—at sundown she will die.
And hear my word: You shall not cry.
No tears run down, nor sigh aloud,
No sack, no ash, no mourner’s shroud.
You are a sign for Israel:
Soon messengers will come and tell
Them that Jerusalem is burned,
And everything for which they yearned
Is gone—the apple of their eye;
Nor shall they be allowed to cry,
But only groan beneath the rod.
And know that I the Lord am God!”

Beyond the River Chebar rose
The yellow sun. The cock crows,
Ezekiel makes his silent way
Toward home and ponders what to say
To his dear wife, and if he can.
“A prophet’s not an easy man
To live with, Zeke,” she used to say
And then she’d smile, “But anyway
Much ease can make a woman weak.”
(Nobody else would call him Zeke,
He thought.) Perhaps the pain of all
These years was not just bitter gall.
Perhaps she’s been prepared to hear
This final word and not to fear.

He ate his figs and barley cake
In silence. “Mara, can you take
A walk with me? This morning’s word
Has been the hardest that I’ve heard.”
They walked in silence for an hour,
And then he gathered all his power
And said, “The God of Abraham,
The God who calls himself I AM,
Demands that you must die tonight.”
But Mara’s eyes remained as bright
As ever in her life. “I know,”
She said, “Last night he came to show
Me in a dream.” And then she took
Ezekiel’s hands and said, “The Book,
Remember where we used to read
How God would someday come and lead
Us in the path of endless joy,
And how at last he would destroy
Our blinding sin and let us see
His face in all its majesty?
O dearest Zeke, last night I saw
Another world without a flaw
Beyond what we could ever know,
And I could scarcely wait to go…
O not that I could ever love
You less, but I have seen above
That everything you’ve preached is true.
Weep not, great seer, for me nor you;
I am the proof of all you’ve said;
Tomorrow I will not be dead,
Nor you, and it will not be long
Till you have joined the endless song.
Press on, Ezekiel, rejoice
With heart and soul and mighty voice.
Make music to the coming King,
Come walk with me and we will sing.”

So let us join these two and soar
As we light advent candle four.

 

 

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Lament

Lament!

Women are raped in the city. 

Infants are dashed against the rocks.

Elders are treated without honor.

Those who die by the sword are considered blessed compared to those who face the agony of slow, imminent starvation.

 The hands of compassionate women boil their children; they become their food.

The Lord has withdrawn HIs presence.

The fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Babylon in 587 B.C. was utterly gruesome. Most of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced or even witnessed such atrocities as those perpetuated at that place. As I read Lamentations, I wanted the words on the page to stir my soul with compassion. After reading 1117 pages of the Old Testament, it can be easy for me to just blaze on through out of discipline rather than desire. I wanted Lamentations to be different. And it was. I have never endured nor witnessed that sort of devastation. However, I have served with those who understand the book of Lamentations well.

Six years ago, I was in Rwanda for three weeks studying genocide and reconciliation.  I remember Febroni, a young woman my age, describing the anguish of watching the limbs of her baby brother be hacked off while strapped to her mother’s back. Her voice unwavering, she continued to recount being raped that day at the age of 8, following the slaughter of all eight of her brothers and uncles in the family. She had survived, but a part of her had died that day with her family.

Febroni knows what means to lament.

And I remember Inila Wakan. Time after time over the last five years would talk about the suffering and victories of the Lakota people. I could almost feel his tangible grief as he described the break from the Old Ways–life before the Lakota came into contact with American settlers. As so many of his people struggle with historical trauma, he seeks to be a voice in the wilderness crying out to his people to return to Wakan Tanka, the God of Israel, God of the Lakota. But how many people–how many children–have been lost?

Inila Wakan knows what it means to lament.

Jeremiah prophesied the fall of Jerusalem for 40 years. Despite his repeated pleas for decades, the people of Israel refused to repent, securing their judgement from the Lord. He endured abandonment, beatings, scorn and imprisonment for the Lord and for their sake. And when Jerusalem fell as he knew it would, he did gloat. No, the man known as the “weeping prophet” wrote the book of Lamentations.

For Jeremiah knew what it meant to lament.

He writes:

“My soul is bereft of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is;

so I say, “My endurance has perished;

so has my hope from the Lord.”

But this mighty man of God doesn’t leave us there, allowing our soul to die in the agony of desolate hope. No, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he writes:

“But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.”

Yes, Febroni, Inila and Jeremiah knew what it meant to lament. But, each of these also know what it means to place all your hope in the living God. Hundreds of years later, the author of Hebrews would call this hope an anchor for our souls. No matter how brutally devastating the storm, they’re confident in steadfast love of the Lord.

Are you?

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Cities of Refuge

It stuck out to me as I read through the Pentateuch, these cities of refuge. According to the law, if a person unintentionally killed another, the family of the slain individual had a legal right to kill that person to avenge the death. However, You made an interesting provision: if the person who committed manslaughter fled to one of six specified cities, they could find refuge. If the family reached the killer before he or she reached a city…well they died.

Once a person reached these cities of refuge, they would approach the gate and their cause would be heard. If the high priest and elders of the city determined that it was an accidental killing, he or she would gain admittance. However, if the deemed it premeditated, they had a legal responsibility to turn them over to the family for vengeance. Another little caveat–if the asylum seeker left that city of refuge before the death of that acting high priest, the protection was lifted and his blood was on his own head.

Why did You establish these cities? Some argue it is because Your justice is often tempered with mercy. Others suggest it was more practical–it transferred the dispute between families to involve non biased third parties. Otherwise, it is very likely blood feuds would erupt.

But that isn’t the most interesting part to me. The part that fascinates me is the use of the word “refuge” in light of all this. It occurs 46 times in Psalms alone. But for the majority, if not all, of those instances the word is referring to us taking refuge in You. Having just read through the Psalms, I noticed this but always pictured someone hiding from life’s trials or from heavy hail. But what if the use of “refuge” holds a bit more for us.

cities-of-refuge-1-1-GoodSalt-prcas3370

Consider this:

What kind of person flees to a city of refuge?: One guilty of a crime–the worst of crimes, though not premeditated. That is all of us. All humanity bears the guilt of being fallen, at birth inheriting sin nature. 

Where do they flee?: The person flees to a designated place of safety. As Christians, where do You tell us to flee or take refuge? In You!

How fast did they go?  Because their life was in imminent danger, we can assume that the fled as fast as they can.  When we consider the weight of our sin, how fast should we run to go for refuge?

What happens to the high priest in the refuge?: The high priest had to die before one was absolved of guilt. How are we, as a guilty humanity freed from guilt? The death of our Great High Priest, Jesus.

What happens if they leave the refuge before the high priest dies?: They bear their guilt. What happens to us if we go to You but leave without accepting the death of our Great High Priest who bears our guilt? We bear the consequences of our sin.

What is the penalty of our sin?: The penalty for one seeking refuge was death. If we reject the high priest’s death, we too bear the penalty: death.

For me, this changes the way that I view “God is my refuge.” It reminds me that I am not just hiding from hard things. I am acknowledging that only the death of my High Priest grants me true safety and freedom. There is truly only one way to find refuge in You, the Father: the death of our High Priest, Jesus.

In awe…again.

Love you.

Brennen

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A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot…

this beautiful inheritance

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

A Miktam[a] of David.

16 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.[b]

The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.[f]

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I have a problem with jealousy. I have for as long as I can remember. When I was a young girl, I would grow fiercely angry when I felt that someone was favored or loved more than me. Sometimes this jealousy would stir within me over little things and sometimes bigger. I clearly remember playing Monopoly with my big sister when I was in grade school. She made me promise I wouldn’t cry if I lost. Needless to say, I cried. I still remember how strongly I felt those emotions. To this day, I have yet to lose a board game and be truly glad for the winner.

Sometimes this jealousy has impacted me and others in bigger ways. As I near my 30s, this has been particularly true of relationships. As my friends found godly spouses, married and had children, I grew more and more jealous. Why not me? What was so wrong with me? Why was God holding out on me? It was a cancer in me, causing me to become very bitter. It has been very hard for me to be genuinely glad for my two best friends as they celebrate important milestones in their perspective relationships–especially after being rejected by someone I thought I was going to be in a relationship with. The result caused tension and anger to pour out of my heart. My best friend felt pressure to hide the letters she had received from her guy and didn’t share what she had written to him about. I simply didn’t want to hear anything. His name alone felt like it was inextricably linked with this thought, “nobody wants you, nobody ever will.”

I think that I believed that when I got to IHOP somehow all my sin would be magically sucked up in a cosmic vacuum.  Instead, it was just brought to the surface, acidic and bitter. I was jealous about everything.

her roommates likes her better than me/teacher thinks she is smarter than me/she sings better than me/her face is prettier than mine/she has hair and i don’t/she looks beautiful and i look like Gollum/God loves her and not me….

On and on, all day long I silently agreed that I was to be pitied. I was fundamentally lacking and the world therefore owed me something.

But as my friend DIxon would say, “I’m getting had.” As my best friend has purposed in her heart not to make my emotions her responsibility, I have found myself forced to face my ugly. Last night, the challenged was issued to me like this: “Why don’t you stop breaking agreement with the lies?”

Sounds good to me….

As I read this Pslam today, Truth brought me one step further in this journey of freedom: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

My God has counted me as HIs inheritance. I am a treasured possession that is fearfully and wonderfully made. I am delighted in.

i.shall.agree.no.more

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Is IHOP a Cult?

In the months leading up to coming to IHOP, I was freaked out. I didn’t know much about IHOP, but I did know that a lot of people thought it was pretty shady. I take theology really seriously and was a little freaked out that they would preach some whack-a-doodle stuff. And so, I did what I always do when I have a question (no, it’s not prayer…working on it). I researched it.

Charisma IHOP mag cover

I found a lot of dirt with minimal effort. There were entire blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to “exposing” IHOP. There was testimony after testimony of people who claimed to have been traumatized  by this place. There were also a lot of “watchdog groups” who attempted to disprove their theology.

I first stepped foot on this campus very skeptical, to say the least. A teacher couldn’t utter a word without me completely filtering it and analyzing. I checked EVERYTHING with what I knew from the Bible. I purposed in my heart to read from Genesis to Revelation in two months. I was going to be vigilant against any false teachings.

I am now one month into this program. What do I have to say about IHOP now? Was my distrust warranted?

To be honest, I don’t care much.

You see, something has been stirring in my spirit. I can only explain it this way–when you spend between four to six hours a day praying, studying the Bible and talking with Him about your peers, your heart changes. It just does. Paul writes to the church in Corinth: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,  are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. We become what we behold. In other words, if I am spending three hours a day watching episodes of Bones, that is the direction my heart shall go towards. If I am obsessed with my sin and am constantly dwelling on my darkness, I will only get lost in the darkness. In contrast, when I consider the Lord and his scandalous grace, the Light expels the darkness and I become more like Him. It’s incredible.

In two months time, I may leave this place believing that some of IHOP’s theology is jacked. But the thing about the Lord is this: He uses jacked up institutions and people alike for His glory. So rather than waste my time focusing on IHOP, I’ve got my eyes fixed on Jesus.

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