Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Year 2014.

Every year at IHOPKC's annual onething Conference, I ask the Lord what the next year will look like & ask Him to give me some scriptures to confirm what He wants to teach me. If you read the blog I posted a year ago, the Lord had taken me through a year of teaching me true health & happiness. This year, the Lord told me it was the year of "love". So, being the single girl in my twenties, naturally you can guess what I thought that meant (though, to vindicate myself, the Scripture verses the Lord gave me also were ones that had been promises for that particular area of my life and therefore very convincing of what I thought I was getting). But, how many of you know, God defines things much differently than we do in our infinitely puny and self-centered minds. We think we sign up and say "yes" to our definition, but God helps to redefine all that we know to be reality. As I sat there, 2014 ended, the "love" that I had hoped for no where in sight, I began to ask the Lord as to not let my heart get disappointed and unbelieving. 

2014 was an extremely rough year for me, far from anything I could think of as being "love". Since being saved in October 2010, I was known for being the radical one, the prayer girl, the "Mary of Bethany", the one who loved Jesus so much, the leader, the one who never did anything wrong, who was always best at everything, not knowing that those were identities I actually was finding my confidence in. I loved being those things. I also struggled with what I know now to be legalism, or thinking I had to earn God's love. So my motivations for loving God weren't even completely pure, though outwardly they were praised by men. 

But this year, has been a year of the Lord allowing me to see my utter weakness and depravity, yet still having to let Him love me in that place. He allowed me to fail in so many areas of my devotion to Him. I had to deal with all the shame of not living up to my own or others expectations of me. I had to learn that I cannot earn God's love at all because I actually don't even have anything but my weakness to offer. I had to learn that I am not as awesome and dedicated to Jesus as I thought I was, but that He is the only One who is awesome, not because of what I can do, but because of what He already did. In my perspective, it was a year of utter failure, but not in His.

Again, God evaluates differently than we do. One day, right when I was finishing up my internship here at IHOPKC, I was so disappointed in myself, saying, "Wow, I didn't grow in the Lord at all!" All of a sudden the Lord interrupted my grumbling. "Melissa, you grew a lot... in humility." Apparently, I had a definition of growth that was not the same as His. I thought being more dedicated, getting 100% on my daily checklist of things I do for God, praying & fasting more, leading things, excelling in ministry, getting more revelation, dreams, visions, that was growth. But He could see my heart in the midst of all the failure, He could see the pride, legalism, self-sufficiency, elitism, arrogance, and confidence in the flesh being crushed in the midst of the pain and the pressure, and my weak yes to keep coming after Him even in my shame, and He called that growth. Jesus to Paul in 2 Cor 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Everything in our flesh RAGES against weakness, but to Him, that is the goal, that He may be strong in us. 

In asking the Lord about this year of "love" and asking how it could possibly have been that, when I heard the Lord say, "Unconditional love. Melissa, you've never understood a love that is unconditional. You always thought you had to earn it." A few tears ran down my cheek, as I knew that statement was true, and immediately the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind. I turned there and heard Him read over me, 'Melissa, my "love suffers long and [my love] is kind; [my] love does not envy; [my] love does not parade itself, [my] is not puffed up; [my love] does not behave rudely,  [my love] does not seek its own,  [my love] is not provoked,  [my love] thinks no evil; [my love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [my love] bears all things,  [my love] believes all things,  [my love] hopes all things,  [my love] endures all things.  [My love]  never fails."'

And it hit me, just like the last year when He redefined health & happiness to me and taught me what TRUE health & happiness were, He had somehow done it; He had taught me what TRUE love was, a love that is not earned, can not be taken away, and is completely unconditional. I never deserved His love, and that is the point. There aren't conditions to keep it. It is covenant. It can't be broken. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear." I had SO much fear with love, from God and others, constantly needing to do things because I was so afraid of losing their love. But praise Jesus, that He has a love for me that is not based on my ability to keep it. He is already committed to me. And I am so thankful for that lesson. 

Thank you Lord for 2014, you always know how to lead me so perfectly even when I don't understand. Blessings to all of you in 2015, the year of things never yet seen!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let Incense Arise, Part 1: Some of the “why’s” behind the “what” of the House of Prayer – Global Incense Movement & the Great Commission

As many of you know, last September I moved to International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I already was thoroughly convinced that prayer and the prayer movement was a great thing. My mindset: prayer = good, more prayer = better, therefore, unceasing prayer = BEST! I came to IHOPKC with the mentality that the prayer movement was a great step to my “greater calling” in God, such as preaching on a stage, world evangelization, etc. It was a means to an end for me. But, over the past year, the Lord began to teach me that prayer/the prayer movement is not a means to another end, the global prayer movement is actually the end in itself.

The first question we have to ask ourselves in approaching how we are to partner with The Lord in this generation is, “Are we living in a transitional generation?” Because if we are living in the generation that the Lord returns and transitions how God relates to His people, our missiology (meaning the way we do and approach missions) has to look different than other generations. We can no longer just do good to our neighbor or help fulfill the Great Commission (which we still absolutely need to do), we are actually preparing the planet for Jesus to return. So if that is indeed the case, we have to see what Jesus has already said a great deal in His Word about what the earth will look like when He returns and THAT is what we then need to build towards in our missiology. This is what some like to call Eschatological Missiology. 

Did you know that we are the first generation that is actually capable of fulfilling the Great Commission? Missions organizations have actually mapped out where every people group is located, the language that they speak, the percentage reached with the Gospel, and the resources available to reach them. There are still 2.9 billion people (4,083 people groups) who are considered unreached with the Gospel, most of them residing within the 10/40 Window, but we are the first generation that actually has the ability to reach them all, if only there are ones that will say “yes” to both going and funding this great & bloody exploit. The finish line of the Great Commission is in sight. (See Joshua Project for more information)

Throughout Scripture there are 89 chapters in the Gospels that focus on the First Coming of Jesus but over 150 chapters that focus on His Second Coming and what the earth will look like when He returns. If the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible to focus so much on His Second Coming, we too should be well equipped in understanding what is said about that upcoming day. In these passages we see that not only does Jesus return after the Gospel is taken to every tribe, tongue, and nation (Matthew 28:18-20), but in a few end-time passages we actually see that Jesus returns to them all singing Him back.

Malachi 1:11 states, "’For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

Isaiah 24:14-16, “They raise their voices, they shout for joy;
They cry out from the west concerning the majesty of the Lord. Therefore glorify the Lord in the east,
The name of the Lord, the God of Israel,
In the coastlands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear songs, ‘Glory to the Righteous One,’”

And Isaiah 42:10-12, “Sing to the Lord a new song,
Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it.
You islands, and those who dwell on them. Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voices,
The settlements where Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing aloud,
Let them shout for joy from the tops of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord
And declare His praise in the coastlands.”

Another thing we see in Revelation 22:17 is that Jesus returns to a global cry, where “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’” The Church of Jesus Christ will be in complete unity with what the Spirit is saying, and crying out in their Bridal identity for their Bridegroom to finally return to them. How is this going to happen? Intimacy with Jesus in the house of prayer. We can see in the prophets and even from the lips of Jesus Himself that He is a Bridegroom and He will come to rule & reign with a Bride, one that is made ready and equally yoked to Jesus, a suitable partner.

This truly was my own testimony: A girl dying from her sins, radically saved by the Lord, thrown into a prayer room, and discipled into her Bridal identity by falling in love with the Bridegroom in the “house of prayer”. I fully believe that it is the most strategic discipleship tool in these last days. When the Great Harvest comes in, who is going to disciple all of those people in such a short amount of time to be “made ready” for Jesus? The nations will be discipled by Jesus in the Global House of Prayer!

The End Days Church will be a Global incense movement singing and welcoming back their King. I love the story of Mary of Bethany, who in her love and complete abandonment to Jesus, pours out her entire flask of costly perfume anointing His feet. Her extravagant sacrifice was a pleasing fragrance to our Lord who said in Matthew 26:13, “wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” Jesus will return to a Mary of Bethany witness from every tribe, tongue, and nation that will pour out their love on Him and let the incense of our prayers arise night and day to His Throne. We see the convergence of the missions and prayer & worship movement coming to a crescendo in these last days to give Jesus His full inheritance from our hearts and the nations of the earth.

Oh Jesus, how long have you awaited that day, the day of the gladness of His heart? Let us partner with the desire in Your heart, that you would receive the joy set before You and come dwell with Your Bride on the earth!

For more on this subject, you can listen to this great message by IHOPU Professor, Samuel Clough

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Destination: Brazil

LIBERDADE (Lee-ber-dajee)

(f) n. freedom, liberty; independence, latitude; loose

As many of you know, I came from a background of being physically and sexually abused for a few years which spiraled me into severe depression, alcoholism, and eating disorders. I then was so vulnerable to the sexualized culture in America, namely Southern California, and was then openly and widely exploited in many awful ways through Hollywood. It was at that state that Jesus and His redeeming love found me, saved me, washed me by His blood, and gave me beauty (a bridal crown) for the ash heap of my life. And Jesus longs to do that for many others in the earth. 

This summer, Exodus Cry is taking 12 teams down to Brazil, a country known for its sex appeal and women, to every city where the FIFA World Cup is being held. During this time, thousands from all over the world will flock to this nation for soccer and sex. Sex trafficking and exploitation will hit an all time high with it being legal in Brazil and the increased demand during the World Cup. This is not just thousands of women being prostituted but children as well. The enemy has a very distinct plan to increase the oppression and darkness, but the Lord has invited us into His counterattack. 

The Liberdade Initiative:  to mobilize a 24/7 prayer room within the red-light areas in each of the 12 host cities that will pray for 31 days, the entirety of the World Cup, for the ending of sex trafficking and spiritual awakening in the nation.  Out of this 24/7 prayer reality, intervention teams will be sent into the red-light areas to reach out to those being exploited.

The Lord has invited me and many others to "Go!" to bring about His purposes in Brazil through day & night worship and prayer, but we need the saints to partner with us in order to get there. Will you say "yes" to partnering with Him in order to end this injustice to these women and children and that Jesus would get the glory due His name from every tribe, tongue, and nation? Let us work together to see a harvest of souls reaped for Jesus in Brazil, these captive woman and children set free, and His name adored as He is worth! We all have the task of working together to fulfill the Great Commission and it is such an exciting way to partner with The Lord in His plans! 

To send me to Brazil to labor on His behalf, please send a check to:

3321 E 114th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64137  

Make the check out to IHOPKC and DO NOT write my name anywhere on the check as it will void the check. Your gift IS tax-deductible :) 

For more information on Exodus Cry, Sex Trafficking, and the Liberdade Trip, please visit: Exodus Cry

Thank you all for loving Jesus and being obedient to Him and all He is doing on the earth. I cannot wait to see these women set free, many coming into the saving knowledge of the love of Jesus, and a city changed through night & day prayer. Thank you for making all of this possible! Blessings!

Thursday, February 6, 2014


What if at the end of your life, you were to look back and come to the realization that your life had been wasted. Well, if you really think about it, everyone wastes their life on something, but only you are the one that actually gets to decide what you waste it on. 

The past few days, the Lord has been reminding me of previous seasons in my life - times with Him on missions to Hernhutt, Germany where I would get up hours before everyone else just to sing to Him and spend time with Him, seasons of radical sacrifice where I would choose to surrender the things I held so tightly to just because I wanted Him so much more, days where everyone would be doing "fun" things together but the only thing I wanted to do was be in the furnace prayer room with Him from sun up to sun down, and even times where I would just continually keep my head phones on because I never wanted to break that conversation with Him. As I was reminiscing on these moments with Jesus, so precious that no story can give it any justice, my heart broke at the present reality of my heart in Him. Oh, how far my heart has fallen from the romance with that Man. 

How easily do we forget what this is all about, Jesus? That You are a real Man, a real Man that feels, that thinks, that longs for us, that wants to talk with us, and do life with us. I want history with You, Jesus. Memories of times together, that when we meet on that day the stories I have with you are far more in number and so much nearer to my mind and heart than stories I had with others. Jesus, that I would have spent more of my life talking to You than I did wasting my words before others. Jesus, let me WASTE my life upon You. 

What if we all really lived like that again? What if we really wasted our life on Him, on that real Man who is as near today as He was then. We so easily say we will die for Him, but then why aren't we willing to truly LIVE for Him, to actually lay down our every bit of LIFE for the sake of that Man whom we love. In Philippians 1:13, Paul the apostle said, "I am in CHAINS for Christ." What would that tangibly look like to live in CHAINS, everyday for Christ? That every moment, every breath, every thought, every decision TRULY was for Jesus, for His purposes, to know Him and to make Him known?

Let us think about what our words would look like in chains. Do you know that we have to give account for EVERY IDLE WORD that we speak (Matthew 12:36)? That really means every word that is spoken that is not to Jesus, isn't edifying others and pushing them into Jesus, or isn't sharing the Gospel, He is going to have a real conversation about those words with you. All the worthless chatter, the joking, the sarcasm, none of it is helpful or has a purpose. We just talk to talk but yet we have to stand before Him and give account for it on that day. He has ENTRUSTED us with a voice and the ability to speak. Why did He give you a voice? For His glory alone. Oh, that my words would be few & full, that Jesus would be glorified through every Word I speak. And I can't even stand to think of the pain in His heart that I talk all day to people, just talking for the sake of talking for hours and hours each day, and if you add up those hours and compare them to the hours I am actually dialoging with Him, how can I live with that?  To know that that Man whom I say I love more than life, I talk to LESS than all the others? I can't live knowing that. I don't want to just talk ABOUT Him, I want to talk TO Him. It is available every moment, every day, why would I not draw on all that is available to me? 

What about in chains for Christ with our time. I remember there was a time in my life, if what I was doing didn't have very specific PURPOSE, meaning it was either WITH Jesus or FOR Jesus, I was not doing it. But I look at my life now, and even the things I am doing for Him, it doesn't even feel like I am doing it for Him. We so easily get in this routine of life, just going through the motions. Also, it is so easy to fall into this perpetual hang out mode, where we can put it under the banner of "fellowship" where you get together with your friends that love Jesus and whatever you do, it doesn't really matter cause its "fellowship" time, but no one was actually spurred on to love Jesus more, Jesus was not exalted, the Kingdom was not advanced, and everyone leaves actually worse off because they just wasted hours of your life that you can never get back and will burn before the eyes of fire. That is a scary thought. Time is LIFE, the way you spend your time is how you spend your LIFE. God gives everyone the same amount of hours in each day, and what you choose to do in those hours is ultimately what you choose to do with your life. This life is a gift, it is a stewardship that He has given us, and I actually want Him to be the Lord of every moment He entrusts to me in this life for His purposes. 

A few years ago while still in Desperation Leadership Academy at New Life Church, I was asked if they could use me and my story at Desperation Conference in a skit to portray one of our four core values, Consecration. I actually didn't really fully know what that even meant at the time, and so was surprised that they asked me! I found that consecration is to separate from things and to separate unto things; basically laying aside the things of this world for the greater pleasure of feasting on God. (See Gal 5:25, Rom 6:6; 12:2, Mic 6:8, & Phil 4:8 for Scripture references) I truly did live a life that was so consecrated - constantly waging war on anything that kept me from being with or being like Jesus, and gave every ounce of my being to be fully His. And it was all out of pure JOY. I never felt like I had to be really dedicated and tough it out to get rid of everything in order to please God. Rather, I was so in love with this Man who saved me that nothing in this world mattered to me anymore. I truly just wanted Him. 

Things sadly look a little different now, and the Lord has had a reason for every season that has transpired since then and He has taught me so much that in His perfect leadership He knew I needed, but I feel another shift in the seasons. It truly is the kindness of the Lord, to starve us out of that which we THINK will bring us pleasure and remind us that it still doesn't compare to what we find in Him. He reminds you of what really matters when it is all said and done, and escorts you back into the burning flame of His Love.

John the Baptist is such a beautiful example of consecration. A man who lived in the wilderness of Judea as soon as he was able to leave his parents, and literally lived a LIFE of prayer, study of the Word, and fasting. He CHOSE to be fully separated from the comforts of the day, wearing camel's hair and eating nothing but locusts and honey. And he counted it all JOY, to give up the things of the world in order to hear the voice of His Bridegroom. And in order for us to actually HEAR the voice of our Beloved, to ever think we can be a voice that can speak on His behalf, it will require this same amount of radical separation from ALL that hinders love and communion with that man. 

But it is costly. Anything that is actually worth something is going to come at a high price. In 1 Chronicles 21:24, King David was trying to but a piece of land from a man who insisted on giving it to his king for free, but King David replied, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for theLord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” Consecration is costly, but when you signed up to follow Jesus, you knew that it would be costly. It would cost you your life. And as He laid His down for us, so should we lay down our life for the One that we love. To waste our life at His feet, but not just for mere sacrifice, for the GREATER PLEASURE found in the communion and love of that Man, Jesus. It truly is the Great Exchange, and the reward far outweighs all that we sacrifice, and we would do good to "count ALL things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord... and count them as RUBBISH that I may gain Christ."

To know You, Jesus, and the sweetness of communion with You, the unceasing fellowship with the only Love my heart needs, let that be my one desire. To live this life WITH You. You are the Treasure, You are the end goal. Oh that I could live a life of purpose, for the sake of knowing You. No greater thing than this, to live in fellowship with You. Let me love you with as much as You will allow on this side of eternity. A life WASTED on the only thing necessary. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 at a glance...

I have never done just a personal and practical blog that is not more of a message, but I thought that I should as it brings God so much glory even in the testimony of what He can do in our everyday life! So be blessed and dream big for what He can do in 2014!

Last year, while ringing in the new year at IHOPKC's annual onething conference, I asked the Lord what this year would look like for me. He said the words "health & happiness". While I thought that sounded like a cheesy greeting card for the American dream and not what I would normally consider to be the prayer of Jesus for my life, He began to reveal more of what TRUE health & TRUE happiness would actually look like for me.

I began having issues with eating disorders and being over conscious about food when I was only 10 years old. Yep, in fifth grade I was the little "Regina George" of all my friends and I would give my lunch away so I wouldn't get fat and made all sorts of rules for my friends if they were to be part of my "cool group". That began 13 years of on and off issues and disorders with food and exercise until I was 23, worse that ever and weighing 95 pounds just hoping that if I died I would at least die skinny, I was saved, healed, and delivered by the lover of my soul, Jesus. My eating disorder that had literally held me a prisoner with absolutely no ability for me to escape on my own was taken from me by the precious blood of Jesus spilt for my sins. Yet even though the evil spirit of it was gone, my mind was still sick and needed renewing. I didn't even realize that my paradigm of health was not things that were actually good for you, but food that made you skinny. Coffee, artificial sweeteners, protein bars and powders, canned fish and meat, things that weren't organic and had who knows what in the ingredients, and were made who knows where or when, those were the things I thought were healthy because my idea of healthy was whatever helped you be skinny. In my head, fruit and juices were bad, way too much sugar, carbs are okay but only whole grain ones are good, eat mostly protein sources, whatever way you can get them, and veggies and nuts. I had crazy food allergies and intolerances, constantly felt sick, and was always completely fatigued regardless of my caffeine addiction trying to help it.

But in 2013, The Lord began to actually show me that the things I was putting into my body weren't helping my body at all but actually hurting it. Those things were not made by Him in the way He intended, and therefore weren't giving me the nutrients my body needed but toxins that are harmful. He began to show me that the meat I was eating every day, ya out of a can, isn't even meat and more and is packed with so much preservatives and sodium that there is nothing in it that will help my body. Those protein bars and powders I was eating every day, if you can't pronounce what the ingredient is, He probably didn't make it and it was formed in a science lab. The carbs we eat today with flour and sugar, those go through pretty much the same process as cocaine where a plant that isn't bad is taken and excreted into a white powder that becomes an addictive drug, they too, are not how God originally made them. He also taught me that fruit, though super high in sugar and calories, is awesome for you, and in fact, some juices are even better than the actually fruit because the nutrients absorb into your bloodstream faster.  And one of the most profound things He taught me was about caffeine and artificial sweeteners and how bad it is for your body and even your brain. I am so thankful that The Lord taught me what TRUE health FOR ME looks like and that now I eat to give my body the good things it needs to function instead of eating to try and be skinny. I can honestly say my body and health has never felt this good. Also know that health is different for each person, but God cares about how you steward your body, as it is directly linked to your soul and spirit, so let Him take you on your own journey to how He wants your body to be healthy.

The second thing the Lord wanted to teach me what true happiness was, and it is ironic that 2013 was one of the hardest years in my life. Previous to this last year, I thought I knew what happiness was; Jesus and only Jesus! He was the only thing I wanted and nothing else. I desperately had wanted to move to the International House of Prayer in KC and had already waited a while, but the Lord asked if I could wait another year before moving. So in obedience to Him and knowing it would be an extremely hard year, I did a third year of Desperation Leadership Academy, which I absolutely LOVE and am so so thankful for, but this time I wasn't an intern but serving and working for the internship in all things admissions, finance, database, and administration. I also got my first secular job stepping back out into the world for the first time after getting saved. Before all this, I was considered "the prayer girl". I was super legalistic and truly thought that spending time with Jesus alone in a prayer room was the ONLY way that I could love Him. That meant that having to deal with people, serving, friends, anything else, that was all just getting in the way of my loving Jesus time. So, looking back, it was quite humorous of the Lord to put me in a season where I was so busy I couldn't spend ANY time in the prayer room but had to spend ALL my time serving others. The whole year was pretty hard for me, aching to be with the Lord and in the next season, but through it all, Jesus taught me how to LOVE people, and loving people actually became something romantic I got to do in partnership with Him. He broke my heart for missions and intercession. And because I was essentially "failing" (in my own idea of what successfully living for Jesus looked like) the whole year, I had to learn to let Him love me in the place where I couldn't offer Him anything good, and was freed from so much legalism and performance. Even when I moved to IHOPKC finally, it was still hard! I now had plenty of time in a prayer room with Jesus, but I felt so weak and broken in the place of prayer and what I could offer Him in my own devotion to Him. He brought up so many issues that I had never really dealt with and again, I had to let Him love me in the place of my own weakness and depravity.

Yet, as 2013 was coming to a close and 2014 was counting down, I found myself singing, laughing, dancing, and crying between two of the greatest friends God could have ever blessed me with, regardless of the tears, differences, and issues we had to work though all year. I had learned to enjoy them, the gifts from God that they are to my life, and had to learn to allow them to enjoy me. I was at a conference with 35,000 other on fire believers worshiping Jesus where all week I got to see and pray for girls I had discipled and got to love in that last year of life. And I had just got off my face from such an intense encounter with the Lord, ya know one where it is like He connects years worth of prophetic words, Scriptures that have defined you, dreams, visions and the dots of your life, and your world goes from black & white to color. So I rang in the New Year in tears, absolutely weeping at the faithfulness of the Lord. I had learned what TRUE happiness was. It wasn't dependent upon doing everything perfect, a special "someone" in my life, a specific place where I lived, or even outside circumstances. The true happiness He taught me this year was loving Jesus and letting Him love you while loving others and letting others love you, whatever your season or circumstance may look like.

No matter how hard 2013 was, I wouldn't take it back for anything. I am so thankful that I learned how to love and be loved. The Lord spoke some other things for 2014 as He did last year, so I cant wait to share another testimony of His faithfulness and His LOVE. Love you all and bless you in 2014!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Who I am to become...

As many of you know, I have spent the last three months at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City as part of the Intro to IHOPKC internship. I really felt the Lord wanted that time set apart unto Him, and to be more cutoff from social media outlets, etc. so I apologize for the extreme lack of communication on my part! But recently, the Lord has really been teaching me about stewardship, and that everything He gives me I am meant to steward it well, my time, my money, and even the things He has taught me. With that said, I am going to take quite a bit of time to "steward" what God has been teaching me in this last season. He provided me the opportunity to come to IHOP-KC and be prepared for Him, and now He is calling me to help prepare others. So I pray that the Lord will touch you and teach you through all that He has been teaching me, so you, too, can go teach others!

I have been beyond blessed to be under the leadership of Matt & Dana Candler as they have stepped into leading Intro. Their hearts burn with passion for Jesus, abandoned love unto Him and others, and truly are such faithful servants of our Lord. Matt has such a great way of leading our hearts and knowing what we need and how we need it ministered to us. I have learned so much from them and am so grateful to continue this journey with them. The first day of class Matt taught us about the specific mandates of IHOP-KC and how that then relates to us, so I am going to attempt to reteach what he taught us through my own personal worldview. Enjoy!

What do you want to do when you grow up? What are you going to do with you life? With your career? Who are the people you need to know? These and many others are some of the questions we are bombarded with our entire lives. What are you going to DO. 

For me, this has always been the main focus of my life. I began planning for college in middle school, with high and lofty dreams of success and greatness, always striving in school so that I could go and DO something with my life. I excelled in high school, went to college, but then decided to give myself to even bigger dreams of taking over the world with a life of fame in the modeling/Hollywood industry and really doing something significant with my life. But even now after being saved, I still have the question lingering of what I am going to do. I can be so driven by the next great cause, taking over the world for Jesus, huge evangelistic exploits, and global impact. Every heart has a longing, a natural God-given desire to do things of significance, to be a part of something that matters. 

Another question that has driven my life is who you need to know. In Hollywood, it was who I need to know to get me my next gig to get me to the next level of fame. Now it can be what great leader do I need to know, to learn from so I can have as much impact as they've had. Or who do I need to marry? Who am I to my family, my friends, the people I lead? Who you know is another question that tends to drive our lives. 

Yet, both of these questions, what I am going to do and who I need to know, if they drive your life and decisions, they put a ceiling on where you can go in God and in life. If those questions are the driving force in my life, then my abilities, my strengths, my opportunities, and who I know will be the only things that dictate my potential, how far i can go, and ultimately the destiny of my life.

So what question do we then need to be asking to live a life without a ceiling of strengths and connections? On that day when I meet Jesus face to face what will actually matter to Him? What will HE ask me? What will actually make my life "great" and help me to live into God's best for my life? 

The number one mistake we all make is to decide what we are going to DO, before we decide WHO we are going to BECOME. 

Who are you? Who are you without the job, the successes, the failures, the impact, the people you know, all the temporary things of life that can change or be taken away in an instant, what are you left with at the end of the day when it is just you? When we look at the Bible, we don't find much on the job we are supposed to have, the person we are supposed to marry, but we find a LOT of information on who God wants us to become. 

Every follower of Jesus and every congregation has basic truths and standards we ALL are to live up to and live out, but just as there are different majors in college, we too, all have different "majors" or things that the Lord has highlighted for specific people as their concentration within the big picture. And we need ALL parts of the Body of Christ to work together with all of their individual focuses in order to actually get that big picture. At IHOP-KC, they have essentially been mandated by God to focus on the identity of Jesus as Bridegroom, King, and Judge. Bridegroom meaning intimacy with Jesus, the one who loves us, protects us, and will do anything to win our hearts. King meaning it is His role to make decisions and rule over the earth. Judge meaning the one who will act upon the things He sees and the decisions He makes. These are not different Jesus's, like today I want the nice Jesus, when I need help I need the other Jesus, and the Judge Jesus scares me, no. It is One Person, just different parts of who He is, who He always is. He is always a King with the heart of a Bridegroom who responds as a Judge. 

Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Your life, your identity, that question of "who am I?" is HIDDEN in Christ, in the knowledge of who HE is. Want to know who you are? Find out who He is and then you will begin to find it. 

So what does that mean in light of Him being a Bridegroom, a King, and a Judge? Well as you begin to go on a journey into who Jesus is in those ways, you will find yourself as a bride, a priest, and a pilgrim. When you grow in the knowledge of Jesus as a Bridegroom, you find out that you are His Bride, you grow in your identity as the one that He died for, that He paid for so He could love you, the one that He will protect, provide for, and cherish as a husband does his wife, that you are fought for by a jealous Husband who will do anything to win your affections. When you grow in the knowledge of Jesus as a King, a GOOD King with a heart of your Husband, you find out that He has called you to be a priest, a kingdom of priests, that are made and set apart to minister to Him, to give Him glory, to serve Him in love, to understand the heart of the King and ask Him in prayer and intercession to make just decisions on the earth and release His resources. This is best seen in the context of night and day prayer and worship, for that IS His will, as we see throughout the entirety of Scripture, and how He establishes His government on the earth. And finally, when you grow in the knowledge of Jesus as a Judge, a Judge who is on YOUR side because of the blood of Jesus and will judge in perfect fairness, you find out that you are now a pilgrim, a sojourner on this earth because this world is no longer your home. You live in the light of eternity, storing up rewards in Heaven because that is how your Judge will act on your behalf, by responding to how you loved Him in this age through rewarding you in the next. And you respond in urgency to the hour of His return in preparing others to live in this light as well. 

So lets begin to ask the question "who do I want to become?" rather than "what am I going to do and who do I need to know?" And as your grow in knowing Jesus as your Bridegroom, your King, and your Judge you can then focus your life on your identity and who you are BECOMING - a bride, a priest, and a pilgrim. The other questions will be answered out of the overflow of this reality being worked in you. They are always secondary to who you are, and THAT is what is most important to the heart of Jesus for you life - for you to KNOW Him and know who you are in the light of who He is. And know that He is far more jealous to give you revelation of who He is than you are to CONVINCE Him to give it to you. 

FEEL the truth of His heart over you and your identity today. Love & Blessings!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just say "Yes!"

Has God ever asked you to do something? Maybe some thing that is just plain hard, or maybe something that even seems impossible? I know for me, this has been a huge part of my spiritual journey.
I got radically saved two and half years ago. Before I met Jesus, I was a prisoner to the Hollywood scene. I was on an MTV show dating a teen heartthrob, I was a model, and I was living the so-called “dream” of fame, beauty, and worldly success. But deep down I was dying, broken, so full of pain and lies from being in an abusive relationship, and suffering severely from depression, an eating disorder, and alcoholism. It was in that state that Jesus found my little life, set me free from it all, and took me from dead to ALIVE in Him in a moment. I gave my life to this Man who paid it all for me, the One who loved me and died for my sake even when I rejected Him.
So in giving my life to Jesus, that meant my life now had to look different. He showed me His love; His love that held nothing against me, but now it was my job to CHOOSE to love Him back. He gave me His “yes”, therefore I now had to give Him mine. He gave me His life, now I had to give Him mine.
Over the next few years, the Lord taught me what choosing to love and obey Him looked like. I had to say “yes” to giving up modeling, completely. I had to say “yes” to setting aside my friends in that world, including the boyfriend I had been with for years. I had to say “yes” to joining Desperation Leadership Academy because the Lord was calling me to really give my life to knowing Him. I had to say “yes” to early morning prayer meetings. I had to say “yes” to working for free when I used to make tons of money. Then I had to say “yes” to getting rid of what I thought beautiful was- my fake eyelashes that I had wore every day, my bleach blonde hair, hair extensions, tanning. Then I had to say “yes” to gaining weight and weighing what He wanted me to weigh. I had to say “yes” to giving up my Facebook, my twitter, Instagram, all the things that gave me affirmation about how “awesome” I had been. I had to say “yes” to leaving everything from my past life. These were all things that defined who I was before, and I didn’t know who I was without them! I truly had to give up myself and it was some of the hardest things I have ever done.
Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”
I had this verse on the wall right by my bed, and every morning Jesus reminded me to take up my cross, to deny who I used to be so that I would find who I really was in Him. He was so patient and tender with me, but He required my life. I had already encountered His power, and so I knew that if I would just keep saying “yes” I would get Him and find true life in Him.
I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to say “yes” to some of those things, things I never thought I could live without holding on to. I cried the whole way through, but in Philippians 3:8 Paul says, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Do you realize that when you say “yes”, “yes” to giving up the things of the world, YOU GET HIM! It truly is a great exchange! He is a Man, He is a Person, the most amazing, kind, patient Person you could ever imagine. He has love unending. He created the heavens and the earth. He knows all things. He died on a cross for ME, that I could be reconciled to Him even though I had been a sinner and didn’t deserve it. He is really coming back and we get to rule and reign with Him for billions and billions of years dependent upon how much we love Him on this side of eternity! Are you kidding me? Why would I not give EVERYTHING for this Man. Even though giving up those things was temporarily hard, I get more of Jesus for eternity. There is NO cost when it comes to love. I would give it all up to know and love that Man more. Those other things I used to hold on to, I count them as trash when I compare it to what I get in Him.
Because I have said “yes” continually to Jesus’ leading in these small areas of my life, He can now trust me to say “yes” in the big things. Luke 16:10 states, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” God wants to USE you, He doesn’t want to just take things from you, but He wants YOU, yes you, to be a vessel and a leader in this generation. Did you know that God actually used a donkey in the Bible to bring about His purposes on the earth? If God can use a donkey, don’t you think He can use your little laid-down life? He owns everything! All the money is His, He can speak a word and make the world, so don’t you think He can make anything He wants happen? He just needs those who will say “yes”. He needs the laid-down lovers that will surrender their whole life to Him. He is looking for the willing ones that He can use for the huge things He wants to release on this earth. But He does require EVERYTHING. He requires the “yes” of your entire life.
Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” God calls everyone, but the ones that are chosen, the ones that will take this world for God and do the unthinkable for the Kingdom, are the ones that will simply say “yes” to His call. The chosen ones are the willing ones. Will you be one that says, “yes”, no matter how impossible it may seem, no matter how weak, broken, and disqualified you think you are, will you still say “yes” to the purposes of God? He is calling the leaders, the revivalists, the radical lovers that will take nations and take the world for Him. Will  you be the willing one that He will choose to do the impossible?
One day I was praying to God and I asked Him, “Lord, what will you give me? What will you give me for your Kingdom?” He immediately said to me, “Melissa, I will give you Southern California. Then once we get that, I will take the entire secular world. This will be the event that prepares my Bride across the earth and ushers in my return.” God wants to do this, God will do this, and all He requires is my “yes”, not because I’m great, but because He wants to do it and He is looking for those who will partner with Him. What will you believe God for in your life? Give Him the “yes” of your little life and just see what He can do.