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.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Shiloh's Song

I want to introduce you to someone, someone very special to me, her name is Shiloh. She is my daughter. Let me tell you her story...

Back when I was 18 years old I fell in love. It was everything I had ever dreamed of, the romance and the love I had wanted my whole life that I never got, and was something I gave my whole life for. I sacrificed it all for love, giving him my heart, future, body, everything. It became an extremely abusive relationship which lasted 3 years.

During that time, I became pregnant. There was no way I could ever bring a child into that environment, nor could I ever fathom the thought of my parents finding out , so we made the decision to have an abortion. It was early enough on that we thought it was only a blob anyways, and doctors affirmed that. We truly thought we were doing the right thing for everyone. And so we did it.

Fast forward 5 years later- to a time where Jesus had pulled me out of my mess, saved me from depression, eating disorders, alcoholism, and pain from years of abuse, and where I was now a leader in the church and going hard after the Lord. But deep within my heart, I still didn't understand why my abortion was so bad and was internally justifying that it was best that I had done it. Besides, if I hadn't, I probably would be dead from my abusive relationship. I wouldn't know Jesus and be with Him forever. So it was a good thing right? I also had such a fear of telling anyone because of how the church can sometimes look at people who've done stuff like that. I really thought I'd be shunned and kicked out forever. I understood that God hated abortion, but I needed help to agree with His view of it.

One night, as I was praying in our 24-hour prayer room, at about 3am, I was reading through Mike Bickle's FELLOWSHIP prayer list. I was praying the "L" for love, and Psalm 139 was at the bottom of the page. I read these prayers everyday and am very familiar with Psalm 139 and so I always skip over it, but this time, the Lord told me to go back. I said, "what?" He said, "Go back and read that." And so I did. I read the words that changed my life forever.

"I formed you IN YOUR MOTHER'S WOMB"

And all of a sudden I was taken into a trance, a vision type thing where I was still in the room, but in front of me in my vision was a little girl all dressed in pink. She looked at me and she said, "Mom, did I matter? Mom, was I legitimate?" I began to weep and I heard the voice of God saying to me, "Melissa, I created her from a dream in my heart. She had a song to sing to the world and she didn't get to. But you're going to sing her song. You are going to sing the Song of the Unborn." And I continued to weep for what seemed like hours as the Lord kept downloading the dreams of his heart for adoption centers and for me adopting a girl someday that will look just like my daughter from a mother who I will lead to Jesus on her way to get an abortion, etc. And Jesus named her, He named her Shiloh, which I found out later is a name that sometimes was given to refer to God Himself.

Beloved, every baby that was aborted, not only were they created with a song to sing, but even now, they have a name, they are a person. If ONLY we would know this truth. If only I had known this truth on that day, my Shiloh would still be here with me, singing her own song. She'd be 5. She'd be going to dance class, twirling around, singing songs to Jesus. But she didn't get to. But friends, we can be a voice. We can be a witness to the truth of this matter.

But another important fact we must remember, from the very lips of Jesus in Matthew 9:13,

"But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Jesus came for me, an adulterous, sinful murderer. He CAME for me, but not only that He FAUGHT for me, I wasn't looking for Him when He came and saved me. He moved people to pray for me because He wanted ME, a dirty sinner. So we can never judge people by what they have done because guess what, Jesus died for that. He spilt His blood for that. Because I have received Him as my Lord and Savior He stands in the courtroom of Heaven and says, "NO, she is NOT guilty. She is innocent because she is MINE." And He looks at me and says, "Beloved, where are you accusers now?" If God is for me NO ONE can be against me, and therefore, we shouldn't be against those people either. Jesus DIED for them and we are never to judge that person because of what they have done. His blood is enough.

I like to picture it this way. A man has a wife whom he loves and adores, and she gets cancer, a cancer that is taking over her life. The husband isn't going to hate his wife because she is sick, no he hates the cancer that is making her sick!! That is how we are, we are the Bride of Christ, and sin is the cancer that kills us. God doesn't hate US, (or that person you think is super sinful and is going to hell), NO God hates the SIN that is killing them and He wants to get rid of it to bring back his poor sick bride to life.

So, let us raise up, as a voice proclaiming LIFE, not speaking death or choosing death, but proclaiming LIFE over people and over the unborn with the love, mercy, and tenderness of Jesus, and to pray that justice would go forth and set free a generation from the chains of abortion. Because the blood of millions of babies, those babies who each have a name, who each had a song to sing, they are ALL crying out for justice. And God can't contradict Himself, in His perfect love He has to bring judgement on the sin and wickedness of our nation, and we AS A NATION are judged for the "child sacrifices" we make. So pray with me:

"God, have mercy on my sins and the sins of my nation. End abortion and send revival to America."

Remember Jesus, remember that He died to save us, poor lost sheep, so entrenched in sin without Him, and remember the POWER of the cross.

Remember Shiloh...