it’s nine o’clock somewhere

One of my favorite books in the whole world is Nine O’Clock in the Morning by Father Dennis Bennett. Fr. Bennett was an Episcopal priest back in the 60s and 70s*  He got filled with the Holy Spirit. All that Charismatic stuff that gets bad wrap was the most pure and beautiful thing ever told through his eyes. I came across the book many years ago when I was becoming part of the Charismatic movement myself. I wasn’t sure what to make of a lot of things, but his book was my favorite because it was pure. Fr. Bennett was just minding his own business when he ended up at someone’s house hearing about “more.” Soon they were more house meetings, and stuff happened—people carried joy and diseases got healed and the power of the Holy Spirit was real. No one was arguing in these meetings about things being real. You can’t debate experience. When the Spirit of God shows up, you don’t argue. But Fr. Bennett caused some arguments, and he ended up being pushed out of his proper church. It’s the story of many Charismatics in denominational churches. But he was the priest. If I am pressed to choose one book besides the Bible as my favorite book, I always say Nine O’Clock in the Morning. This is because even though the book takes place over many years, Fr. Bennett and those with him never, ever lose their excitement and passion. You see, when I had my vision of Jesus, I instantly became a worshiper. I had already discovered the power of intercession a bit, but worship got combined with it and that was all I wanted. I wanted prayer meetings and worship services. All. The. Time.

I had the mistaken thought that I was behind as far as Christianity and now that I had found the secret I would fit in at church and with Christians instead of being that “second class” Christian I perceived myself to be because I never got the passion people had. Instead, I was merely tolerated, and often told I was “too heavenly-minded” or in the “cage stage” and would calm down eventually. Fr. Bennett taught me I never had to calm down. It was possible to keep excitement about Jesus and never lose passion. I wanted so much to be in that world. That book has held its impact on me because it is what I want. Even in the down years, it’s what I have wanted deep inside because I know the only times I have had true contentment have been times of deep prayer and worship. There, I am with Jesus, and there is the only peace and life that exists.

I remember the day I decided I loved my pastor in Tyler, TX. Pastor Jerry was preaching one morning and was leaping around the stage, whooping with excitement about Jesus. He wasn’t worked up in some Charismatic fervor. He was genuinely filled with the passion of his love for Jesus, even after, at that time, 20-plus years in ministry. I loved him because he would never tell me to calm down about my faith. Others did. And I did; I hate that, but wanting constant prayer and worship meetings isn’t mainstream most of the time. My heart never changed, but I put up walls to protect it. I was in awe of Fr. Bennett–and Pastor Jerry, and Rees Howells and John Hyde, and all the great heroes of prayer over the years, and how they had resolve I could not sustain. But in my heart I wanted it. I have always been drawn to the people who encouraged me to pursue with passion. I read Acts, and I see that only 120 of the thousands end up in that upper room when all is said and done. I want to be one who would have been there. People, that happened. After Jesus left. I want that.

I reread Nine O’Clock in the Morning pretty regularly, at least parts of it. I try to read it again every year. It ignites fire in me. When I came home from The Miracle, I pulled out almost every book I had on the Holy Spirit, which is a lot. They sit on my bed, my coffee table, the bookshelf near my bed. I somehow must think if I read have them close I will take the context in by osmosis. I’m reading a devotional type book by RT Kendall on 40 Days with the Holy Spirit, which studies a different facet of Him–and He is a Him–each day. I sometimes find my heart stirred. I get up and started praying. I brush my teeth and on my way to bed I start pacing and worshiping Jesus because the urge hits me.

Tonight at church I had a long conversation with a dear woman of God. She’s an older lady, but her spirit is young and fiery I have loved her from the beginning. I have a love for her I don’t usually have for people until I get to know them. She was telling me about being filled with the Spirit in that same time frame when Fr. Bennett wrote. She talked like she was in this book, so I asked her about it; she knows it well. Her stories and hunger for more of the Lord consuming everything after that filled her beautiful eyes that radiate Jesus. I was trying to find a way to explain that I sort of got what she was saying because this is how I have been feeling since The Miracle. I could go to a prayer meeting every single day and not be tired of it. I want more.

I don’t know that there is a whole lot of difference from the private home meetings of the 70s where people discovered there was more than dry Christianity than there is in what happened in that living room on March 7 in Texas. That same power flooded the room, flooded my mind. How do you explain when the Holy Spirit surges through you and literally rewires your mind so you can see and think in a way you couldn’t just an hour or two ago? You can’t reason that one away. Especially 10.5 weeks later when I still want the same thing. Sure, the “newness” of that moment may wear off day-to-day, but then new comes again and my fire is ignited. It wasn’t a high; it was an empowering like I have not known since the day of my vision. What I have learned since then, though, is how I have to fight for that to stay alive–the me part of it. The Holy Spirit is alive and unchanging, but as the parable says, the cares of this world can consume us. I am desperate to be the same age as this dear woman, as Pastor Jerry, as Fr. Bennett before he died, and to still have fire. I am desperate for that now.

Tonight I looked at my new friend and said, “Why can’t we have that now? Why can’t it be like it was?” She said she didn’t see why it couldn’t. I said, “Then let’s do it! Let’s go after this again!” Without missing a beat, she said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

I don’t now what that means. But I know she means it. I know she was one of the first to jump at the idea of a new prayer meeting. She walked in last week and her face was on the floor in worship and prayer in moments. Later she told me I was “on fire.” But I told her, “you’re the one on fire.”

Maybe we can burn together.

That’s what happens when the Holy Spirit comes, you know.


*Back before the Episcopals did things like endorse abortion; now there is a Spirit-filled offshoot of Episcopalianism which has retained its godly roots, that emerged from Fr. Bennett and this movement.

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what I’ve learned about prayer in the last two days

On Sunday after church, I booked it (within the speed limit) to see my closest friend, with a purpose really just to pray for a couple days. I’ve only done that one other time in my life, with my (former) spiritual mom, and then I flew halfway across the country to do it. I have said many times that we do what we care about. And I cared about prayer.

On March 7, as everyone who knows me knows, I experienced a spiritual miracle. I call it The Miracle because it was so big it deserves its own proper noun. This happened in the same place I have been praying the last two days. While I didn’t go off social media or email, I have not done much but upload some pictures and keep up with work. The bulk of the last two days has been spent in prayer and worship. Just two people in a house. No special band or anything.

And no limits either. I won’t write much in detail here, but I do want to write about principles I think are important, as much as they are dependent upon us in given situations, and lessons I want to apply in the future.

  • Take the clock away. This isn’t news to me, but rarely do I get to experience times f prayer or worship where there isn’t some time limit or people shuffling in and out distracted. When you have hours for Jesus, He hangs out for hours and does stuff.
  • Take the limits away. We may pretend we don’t have them, but most of us do. Do you know what it may look like when the Holy Spirit moves? It may not look “proper.” It may not always be humanly comfortable, but it’s always spiritually comfortable. You know when it’s Him. The definition of whether something is from God isn’t if we have experienced it before. We have not tasted and seen every facet of Him and how we moves. Experience isn’t definition; the Bible is, and if you read carefully, there is some wild stuff in the Bible, including after the ascension of Jesus.
  • Linger. Don’t change songs if one song is doing something. Don’t move on to a list if the Holy Spirit is highlighting something. If He moves, move with Him and stay there. For Pete’s sake, stay there! Nothing is more important.
  • Do what works. God is a multiple choice God in lots of things. Not sin or anything important like that, of course. He is God and His standards don’t change even when we want them to. But He is, as the Bible notes, loud and quiet, flagrant and subtle, tender and firm, gentle and roaring. It’s not more holy if it’s loud or danced or whispered or whatever. It’s more holy when you are worshiping and glorifying Jesus and responding to Him how He leads.

These sound like I’m making some sermon outline to discuss prayer. I’m not. I’m telling you what I have experienced this week in the act of praying. Real learning comes from doing. I’m speaking generally since some of that was intimate, but I didn’t think of good points to put in a blog; I’m pondering what things I learned and took away that I can apply anywhere. Except the time one. That one only works if the people involved are on the same page. But trust me, food and texts and sometimes even the bathroom can wait. And if we wait, He will come.

Like fire. Like water. Like wind. Like rain. Like a still small voice.

And sometimes all in the same few hours.

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writing light

I used to literally, physically feel darkness when I wrote. Words are powerful, and repeating them makes them potent.

I’ve had more dark days than I care to admit, days where I was flooded with despair, but since I was alone in a physical sense, to deal with the pain, I would talk—or write—about it. And that deepened the darkness. I come from a stream of Christianity where sometimes people over-ascribe things to the devil that are really just our own sinful flesh. But this one I think had some gas stations in hell, also. There were times I would write that I felt fueled. I would begin writing a story of something, much like this blog is telling a story, but then I would get to something really negative and write faster and with more emotion. Sometimes I would write negatively about myself, such as how awful or stupid, or something equally as negative, I was. And, well, this is sort of scary to say to a public audience, but I felt darkness take over. I don’t mean like some creepy horror movie. Satan isn’t a genius, but he’s smarter than that. I would feel bad inside, and as I typed, I would feel worse, and the awful things I was saying about how awful I was would feel bigger and worse. I hated myself more as I wrote, but I was in a war of needing so desperately to talk and get it out. The result was I would send the story or email and feel even worse, creating a dark spiral. And one day in one of the darker phases of my pain in 2012, I recognized what was happening: the literally power of hell was fueling my words. I would type faster, more heated, and feel this rage and pain spew out. It went from the flesh to the enemy in just moments.

This matters because of what’s happening now. Many people know that at the beginning of Lent I decided to do two things: read a Lenten devotional and write something every day. Anything. It didn’t matter if it was about the reading or not. I just wanted to form a good habit. It was 2.5 weeks after the start of Lent that The Miracle happened. And then you can just imagine what became of my writing. I was pouring out stories of the Holy Spirit, of what happened in my prayer times, of worship, of powerful encounters with Jesus as I danced. I couldn’t keep up but I wrote a lot of the highlights down; I still do write a lot down as I am nearing halfway through a second journal. And one night I realized something as I wrote things about what the Holy Spirit did and how deeply I wanted more of Him—more experiences and encounters and power and passion for the Lord—and I would write it that way with details. And you know what happened, don’t you? Heaven fueled my words. My pen got faster, and my spirit rose inside me. Love overwhelmed me. Excitement and anticipation would rise from deep within me. And one night when I realized that I remembered the parallel. It was the contrast of darkness and light. I was feeling the power of the Holy Spirit on my words. I was repeating the goodness of the Lord and the miracle of His power.

It worked in reverse! It was a wonderful realization. Since The Miracle my tolerance for the negative has declined rapidly. I mean, who likes negative anyway, right? But complaining, bitterness, calling political leaders names, criticizing things—even bad things—with an angry tone, all of it began to really impact me. I couldn’t read things the same or hear people the same. Please understand: I do not mean I separated from reality. I am not talking about being a goody two-shoes Pollyanna. In fact, I freelance for a pro-life news service and expose and report on the bad things happening in the abortion industry. The other day I wrote a story about a woman who paid $25,000 to abort her 8-month old pre-born baby. I know the darkness in the world. I know avoiding reality is a one-way ticket to destruction, but rehearsing darkness versus bring darkness into light are different things.

The first summer I worked in Kansas City, I worked for a leader with a national ministry that spoke against some issues in the news, like abortion. I would sometimes be in a position to tell him something that just got reported in the media, or to read an email to him that was negative. Every time, he listened, responded, and then—every single time without fail—said “let’s pray for_______.” And we stopped and prayed for the person or situation—even when it was a person against him or it was a corrupt and evil situation in the world. What I learned from this man was priceless. I learned how to face reality but leave the room feeling like the discussion was productive because it was then channeled into prayer.

The same principle is at work in writing or talking. Words matter. In some Charismatic circles words are used as magical incantations. If you “speak forth” a new car, the Lord will give it to you. B. A. L. O. N. E. Y. God is not a genie you rub by using magic words. That is not what I mean, and that abuse of the principle of words being powerful is one reason I eschewed people for telling me not to “speak negative things.” That’s unfortunate.

If I may backtrack for a moment: I have mentioned previously in this blog how I realized the power of worship when I had my vision of Jesus in 1997. I discussed how I don’t, in general, listen to secular music, not because I think it’s “evil,” but because I saw what the power of those words of worship did in me. If worship was that powerful and those words became life and a vision that was supernatural, then those were the only words I wanted.

How then could I not comprehend that writing down negative things would not be counterproductive. One of the most dangerous outs we give each other as believers is the “right to vent.” I am not going to lie to you and tell you I have not vented. I probably will again. Most of the time it’s sin. We don’t really have a right to vent because, in the Kingdom of God, we don’t have a right to our “rights” or anger when it’s about us. Jesus never got angry on His own behalf. He got angry at injustice. I fully believe—even when I do it wrong, truth is still truth—that the more we rehearse our personal perceived injustices, the more we make ourselves feel worse. God doesn’t have to “punish” us—our words bore into our souls and do the job, separating is further from Him in that moment.

There is a time to talk about bad things—for the purpose of productivity, to solve a problem, to fueled informed prayer. Ignorance is no more godly than slander. But the lesson I have been learning lately is that when the Bible says “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” that isn’t just about tearing someone down like we think about. It certainly includes that but it comes when we write or speak our unrighteous anger too.

For me, the contrast of the actual physical fueling of my spirit was convincing (and convicting) to me. In darkness that day in 2012 when I first experienced it and knew that was the enemy’s power upon me was one side. In light—that night a few weeks ago when simply writing in my journal about an ordinary thing filled me with joy and caused me to stop writing and worship because I was so alive is the other side. Those contrasts have taught me more than anything about the power of my words and others’ words around me and how they impact my spirit.

I want to be like that leader I served that summer and bow my head in prayer after every discussion or thought that fuels negative. Only then is the discussion productive.

I hope my lesson on my own power of writing and speaking helps you in some way, but really, this one I have written so I could have a record. Also, do I even have to tell you how alive my spirit feels right now after writing all this?

My work load is getting much lighter for the next few months, so I’ll be back to more regular blogging. I have so much to share with you about the power of God in my life and the things He is teaching me—assuming you want to hear these testimonies and lessons. As my friend and our mentor in prayer that season in Kansas City when he worked with our team, George Otis, Jr., used to tell us all the time, testimony is one of the most powerful keys to transformation and revival. The Bible is truth but it’s history too. That makes it harder for some to grasp, but when the Bible comes to life now, today, in the life of someone who was dead and now is alive, then people see and hear and often put their trust in God. I hope I can help that happen to my little slice of influence.

May Jesus be glorified in all things.

And may He remove all the things in me that don’t.

still in it for life

It was a long time ago but it was yesterday. Standing in a stadium in California, stranger to the thousands, tired, sunburned, ready to be done with my first-ever significant fast, not even sure what made me spend over $350 on a plane ticket to go volunteer and pray in a place where I knew no one. Then it happened, late that evening, as I sat, alone. Ready to go but wanting to hold out. The verses. Bible verses. That was all. She read a stream of them, what the Word of God said about the shedding of innocent blood.

I wept.

Standing there, utterly exhausted and as in the flesh as a human can be, I wept because of what the Word of God said. In that moment I knew beyond the shadow of the slightest human reasoning that I was called to do something about abortion. I didn’t call it being called until later. I didn’t know what happened, but I knew that it wasn’t emotion that moved me. I had none left. I was exhausted. It wasn’t friends; I didn’t know a single person there. It wasn’t the speaker. She was a girl reading verses, non-dramatically. The Word of God is alive, active, shaper than a two-edged sword, cutting to my marrow. Yeah, that’s a verse in Hebrews, but it’s also reality. Because it did. It cut through me. I went home to Texas, but I was never the same again. That moment would define much of my future.

It was less than a year before God had launched me into pro-life ministry. I did pretty much nothing. It was the first time in my life I didn’t have to work to make something happen. One moment I was posting a pro-life article on Facebook and the next I was the author of the pro-life articles. I led a ministry in AL where people responded—to pray. Shoot, people don’t often come to prayer meetings when it’s something happy or neutral, let alone about abortion. I got invited to speak places, then got asked to write for a national blog, then found myself onstage speaking to stadiums. Me. The girl who just felt like she needed to go pray. If ever I knew God was doing something, it was in that. He had called me; I said yes.

This is what eventually landed me in the roles I had at IHOPKC, even though that went to all of the justice issues by then. Every Friday morning you could find me on that podium, usually with Action Figure Arm, crying out for life. My sweet leader, Ben, would often let me go first even though he was the leader of the pro-life department at IHOPKC. I didn’t care what order I went in as long as I got to take what was inside me and channel it into intercession.

And then it unraveled; it was crushing to my spirit. It was the 2012 election. In fact, it’s been stirring up lately with all the candidates throwing their hat in the election ring for 2016, reminders of those weeks. I wrote stuff people didn’t like because it was about the nominee. It was okay when he was only one of many candidates, but when he was a nominee, they insisted I was campaigning for the other side. I was campaigning for truth. What I found, as I have detailed before, was that people’s faith in God being in control of an election only extended as far as their candidate. It was impossible to believe, for most, that the “other” guy could get into office and God could still move. I became Public Enemy Number One to some of my circle. And it broke me. I found I had more faith than I knew because that was tested. I was disowned by some, rejected by others. Then there were the dear people who always loved me and stood. In fact, to this day, I love Ben because he was the only leader I had who ever, every single time he was checking in with me, asked “How are you?” and when I answered about what was going on with ministry, he said “I don’t want to know about your ministry. How’s your heart?” I cherish that still. He knew what mattered most. But by then my heart was too far gone. If Ben had been a woman, I might have answered more clearly because I might have broken down crying. But I felt like I had to be tough.

I’d like to say my faith in God moving no matter who was elected was all pure faith, but I had facts from the past that helped my faith. Since the last election, we had had more pro-life laws than ever enacted—and that proved true again. In fact, since the election of a man who fully supports all abortion rights, we’ve had more pro-life laws in our nation since the advent of legalized abortion. This is why I did not worry on this issue. I knew God was bigger. I dare say now that had we gone the other way, abortion would be more accessible.

Now I’m not here to argue politics. For the love of all things holy, please don’t argue politics. Little can divide the church so much. That was my last straw before my fall.

Eventually I left the ministry side of being pro-life. I was done. Without faith that God really was in control, I felt confused. What would we do when things got too hard? We couldn’t live without creamers that were made from tests that came from aborted fetal cells, so what would we do when our actual nutrition depended on standing for life? My heart got ugly, offended, aching, and I was done.

But I wasn’t done with being pro-life. You see, if God calls you, He doesn’t take it back. I am forever thankful for the pro-life news agency who hired me as a freelance writer about that time. In fact, they hired me about one month before I left pro-life ministry, which I see now as the Lord keeping that door open because I am called to life. Thus, I have been able to continue being a voice where the Lord called me, but without that ministry label that was so destructive to my heart (through lots of fault of my own, by the way, so don’t read this as a criticism of others).

Last week something happened I didn’t expect. I don’t need to detail that because the what isn’t important. What’s important is that without warning my heart beat fast, and my eyes filled with tears I couldn’t allow out. What’s important is that I wanted to stand up and tell everyone about abortion and Stericycle and medical incineration and fetal cell coffee creamers. So I wrote. I wrote so fast I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to read it later. I spilled words out to a private page, trying to harness thoughts I could not explain. Except I could. I knew that feeling. I had it that night in 2008.

As quickly as I could, I left where I was and got in my car, and as soon as I turned onto the road, I cried. Heaving, heavy sobs, for life, for legalized murder, for people all over who did not learn from history, for people all over who were ignorant as to the present. My heart broke for the heart of God which weeps all the time for what I only weep for when He touches me that deeply and I let Him. My heart broke for the ones who can’t weep for abortion, who have closed their hearts to prevent pain, who have denied the reality in the name of progress or financial independence. My heart broke into shreds there on the highway. I pulled over once I was away and I cried, and shook, and ached, and grieved, and I asked what this meant, what was next.

I have never doubted my call to life. What happened to me in that stadium was too profound. But I didn’t know what rose up in me that night last week could be so powerful again. I don’t know what the Lord is having me do with it, if anything other than remind me of what He has said and keep writing in a forum He has allowed me.  I have zero interest in entering ministry again, and yet I realize I have a purpose in pro-life ministry and that may happen again one day. I’m not doing anything to make that happen, but whatever He asks, my answer is only yes because we all know I have no interest in going backwards.

I don’t have a massive point to make with this entry. Really, I needed to write because the strength of the feelings overwhelmed me. I sat on the entry for a few days, but I still don’t know why it hit me as it did. I suppose if there are any morals to this story they are, in this order:

  • When God calls you, you don’t get uncalled. He knew what He was doing in the first place
  • Don’t elevate politics to a spiritual place it’s not. Do your part, follow your conscience as it’s rooted in Jesus, but remember that there really is one King, and He can take care of even what we see as negative.

 

adressing the elephant before the next post

Before I continue this blog, let me just call out the elephant in the room. A few weeks ago I started this new blog, at first because I knew I was going to write about IHOPKC, and I needed a neutral forum in which to do so. Search engines do not index my blog. That simply means it does not show up in a Google search result, but it is still public. That keeps away the spam from places that just use key words. That’s why I was rather stunned by the thousands of people who read the IHOP blog—and still are, it seems. To be sure, there is a reality to reaching the world with a click of a button. Nations I didn’t know existed saw that blog—and it was all from organic sharing, not search engines. And that’s the elephant in the room because now I am returning to writing about my regular old spiritual life, but I don’t want to pretend that blog wasn’t in the middle of it. So let me throw out a few comments to end that chapter:

I didn’t write the IHOPKC blog to start a blog about it, nor did I write it to debate. I settled that debate in my heart before I wrote it. I did not approve any comments that rehashed the debate or argued, not because I am afraid of those views but because those views are indexed by search engines, and my blog isn’t intended to debate or create a forum for such things. If you want other opinions, they are plentiful and Google will lead you to them. My blog is not the place for debate–those debates, in my belief, do not glorify Jesus, and that is my heart with what I write and do. I have taken two years to hash it out in my heart, and the last nine months coming to terms with what I believe and feel. I said everything I need to say. I wanted to say that because I want you to understand why those comments do not appear. I almost approved them simply because I am not afraid of them, but I ultimately decided against it since they were a rehashing of what is out there already, and they are not fruitful for anyone.

While I am at it, I want to say a few other things. I have received many comments, some private, as well as emails and messages, thanking me for helping others articulate what they felt. Many people were (are) hurting deeply from the accusations and, sometimes, what they see as betrayal. It’s been touching to me to read these heartfelt comments. I am grateful for how the Lord has used this.

A couple other thoughts: I have discovered that when people really want to know something, they will read as many words as it takes. Due to the unique nature of my involvement with IHOPKC, and my need to contextualize situations, as well as make it accessible to those unfamiliar with the ministry, those who reviewed the blog for copy editing suggested I not cut anything because as those unfamiliar with the intricacies, they needed it to understand. I specifically asked them what I could cut and keep the meaning. This may be an SMS culture that lives to tweet and text, but when it matters, people will read. This encourages me, and I hope we will do it for all the things that matter—most of them matter a lot more than this: the Bible, news stories that may affect our lives, even long emails from people we love who need to share their heart. Reading isn’t dead. That blog was one of the longest pieces of work I’ve written, but it’s also the most read. I’m surprised, but pleasantly so. I shared it exactly once on my Facebook, and on my Twitter (where that page is private and only reached 45 people at the time). The rest was organic sharing from people who cared to know.

Finally, since I am making a comment on this, I want to make something clear in case I hurt you. In the rough couple years I had, I sent my FB through some metamorphoses. Without detailing what occurred, I felt like I needed to remove everyone from FB who 1) I didn’t actually know, and 2) that I had not had any interaction with in a year or so. This happened in two phases. I found out through publishing this blog that I hurt some feelings that way. For that I apologize. I was coping with my own issues and they were deeply painful at the time. I had been burned through “behind the scenes” Facebook talk and no longer felt safe with random strangers on my Facebook. A year later, the things I wrote about RAD and the close friends that didn’t comment or respond exacerbated this to my over-magnifying heart. Now I would not take that personally, but at the time I was just in a hard place and figured they didn’t “want” that part of me—and I figured that because so many had said as much to me directly. Many people have re-friended me, and I accepted gladly. If you happen to see this and were hurt, please forgive me. This was a lot more to deal with my own pain than any comment against you. I sincerely apologize.

I wasn’t going to comment anymore at all on the blog because I wanted it to be a one-and-done, a saying of my peace. I don’t want to use it to gain some readership or ministry platform. This is not an IHOPKC blog. I have no ministry, and I am not looking for one; if God leads me to ministry again, my guess is it won’t be one focused on blogging about another ministry! I am loosely considering opening the blog to search engines, since apparently it’s helping people to read, but apart from that, the purpose of it all along was to details what I know firsthand and to offer another take on the situation which has been maligned by sensationalism and misinformation.

I hold no grudges. I am not angry. I love the ministry, and my friends who remain there. I feel deeply for those who were in the real cult that came to IHOPKC and continue to suffer. And I continue to pray for their healing. I do not deny their pain or victimization in the slightest. I just think that many used that to make IHOPKC something it was not. And as my email and responses have indicated, that was hurting many innocent people.

I encourage you, again, to not make a blanket judgment, especially if you know nothing firsthand, and to remain listening until the other side of the story is revealed. Sometimes there is more to perceived “silence” than you know. You’re going to have to take my word on that one (or not, but I do mean it with concrete reasons, not speculation). And above all, I encourage you to pray. Clearly there is much pain from what has happened. That’s legitimate. People need to experience the love of Jesus—especially those victimized by the cult happenings—and everyone in pain needs healing. We would do well to pray every time we heard anything related to it, no matter which side we are on. Virtually everyone on both sides claims to love Jesus and be a Christian. Our duty, then, is to be a light to other Christians and to the world.

Now, with all that said, I am going to resume blogging about my spiritual journey, insights, etc. I am afraid some you may be bored if you followed my blog, but you are welcome to read! I just want to talk about Jesus and what He is doing in my life, and so my awesome April 4 blog is coming later. I just felt odd not discussing the elephant before I segued into my personal stories and insights again.

Thank you for reading; thank you for your personal comments to me; I tried to honor all the requests on my blog that asked me to not post the comment publicly; I don’t believe I missed any. Of all the comments I received, only three were negative. I’m sure there is a lot I didn’t hear, but the weight of that showed me the need for people to hear another side too–and it showed me the pain in many who have been silently grieved by the bad comments that have been the focus. I believe there will be more revelations of good, of fruit, of commitment to Jesus. Don’t throw anything aside yet.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27:14 (NASB)

another response to the IHOPKC controversy

“No one heals himself by wounding another.” – St. Ambrose

If you’re looking for scandal or controversy on the IHOPKC debates, you’re reading the wrong blog. If you’re looking for me to call out people by name in a negative way, you’re reading the wrong blog. But if you want to hear a balanced account of one person at IHOPKC who worked with some senior leaders, with some departments, and knows people from the household names to the people no one would know, you are reading the right blog. And my hope is that everyone reading about this controversy is interested in hearing all sides, not just the one that has the loudest bandwagon.

I’ve been composing this blog in my head since I ran 8 miles in my last training run for my marathon last June. Of course since then I have many more thoughts and much more information, but it all started coming together for me then. Since leaving IHOPKC, I’d wrestled a lot with how I felt; the day of that training run I got answers. It was like a 1.5 hour prayer meeting where I just processed and listened. That day things became clear to me.

I’d left Kansas City the year before, not the best way, but not because of anything IHOPKC did to me. Since it happened in the context of my decade-long love of the ministry, I had shut everything, and mostly everyone, out. It was easier than realizing I’d probably never stand in the prayer room again because of all the pain and disillusionment I had experienced personally. Between that run last June and recent days, I’ve really given thought to the entire situation and all its tentacles.

When I wrote my doctoral dissertation, the research method I used was a qualitative case study. Case studies tell stories, but cannot be generalized. To take a case study and offer it as a generalization is not acceptable in academic research and would be thrown out of any journal. Personal experience is personal. I did five case studies for my research and found the same thing in all five, but I still had to have a section in which I discussed the way qualitative case-study research is used and how it’s inappropriate to generalize results to other people. Therefore, I would be a poor thinker if I tried to generalize everything—and I caution you to take anyone’s account as a generalization—but I can tell you what I know, what I think, and my own experience. I tell you this from the view of a person who has wrestled through answers and tried to see the negative side of it all so I wouldn’t be blindly accepting. I also tell you this from the view of a person who has been in varied aspects of the ministry at IHOPKC, from a spectator, to a staffer, to a person acquainted with many leaders and even personal friends with some. I have had a unique view into IHOPKC because I wasn’t in one stream, one section, or one group.

This is one of the most difficult writing tasks I have charged myself with completing, partly because it’s not about one thing. What was initially a story of a cult trying to rise in the ranks at IHOPKC and eventually outing itself with a possible murder, maybe suicide, of one of its members, then became a public forum for anyone who left IHOPKC unhappy to relay stories. I dare say Bethany’s tragedy, as well as the tragic experience of the real cult members, has been hijacked by opportune timing by many. Hear me out here. I can’t make this short and make it cover what it should, but I will try to break it up with headers and themes.

My threefold purpose in this writing

First, I have received many emails and messages and questions since I left IHOPKC, and people want to know why. No one has pushed or pressed me, but I think answering questions is helpful.

Second, there is little of a balanced opinion coming out of this yet. Apart from the few former IHOPers who have made general supportive statements of the ministry, but not specifically commenting on the issues, most of what is coming out is accusatory, pained, or even slanderous. I feel like I have something to offer to assuage those who are confused, without sugar-coating anything. Also, I have no ties or commitments to anyone where I feel I should or should not say something. I have friends who have left upset, and I have friends who remain on full-time staff. No one has suggested I do anything as response. If someone tried to coerce me, I would probably rebel anyway! While I am a professional writer, and this story is fresh enough to gain headlines, I have made no attempts to shop it to a magazine or newspaper and add flair to get me a byline. This is all personal. I made this decision to write and did not consult anyone about whether they thought I should. I told some later, but I asked no one’s input. The only people who read this in advance were two people who edited it for typos and copy-editing errors. Neither has ever been to IHOPKC, and neither commented on my take on the content.

Third, there is some misinformation being reported, no doubt from anger and pain. I get it. But some things that are being said about which I have firsthand knowledge, and I want to address those.

My ethos (credibility) to speak on this

On the murder (or suicide): I was at IHOPKC when Bethany Deaton was murdered/ committed suicide. I found out about it before it was common knowledge because I was good friends with a leader who told me what the leadership knew at that point. Because I knew several in leadership there and was part of a team made up of some in leadership on the base, I know, factually and firsthand, what many of the leaders were saying and sharing when it happened, and I know what came next. I was in the meeting that is now the subject of debate where Mike Bickle said “Shelley really went after [the confession].” I was in the prayer room the week after, sitting, praying on the mic, talking to IHOPU students who were my friends. I was a basket case, on edge. The tension was thick; it was the great un-talked about thing. I admit I struggled with that. It was difficult for me to go on with the day-to-day operations of the prayer room like this wasn’t happening. But that’s me. That’s the me who feels everything deep and thinks life has to stop until things are addressed. It’s why I am not leading a ministry–because my personal feelings would get in the way. I don’t dispute the damaging cultish activities I have read about and talked to people about in the Deaton and group homes. But I wasn’t in those homes. I can’t comment on that, but I can comment on the responses at IHOPKC to some degree. I presume to know nothing about the inner workings of the Deaton group. I profess to know something about the inner workings of the base at the time. How much I know, I cannot say, but I sure knew a lot from a lot of different places. I believe I had a unique view few could have had. So please read on.

My IHOPKC background

In some way, I have been connected to IHOPKC since 2002. From 2002-2008, I was on the outskirts as a visitor. From 2008-2013, I had a close connection, and from 2011-2013, for times, I actually worked there in some capacity. These jobs included working one summer as a writing assistant for one of the senior leaders, being on the Justice Leadership Team 2012-2013, which I will detail more, as that position is what put me in a place to know much of what I do, and teaching a children’s dance class at Forerunner Arts the summer of 2012, as well as a writing class at Forerunner Arts the fall of 2012. I also spoke and/or prayed onstage at large events run by leaders at IHOPKC, and I was even the face of the Simeon Company, an internship I am still not old enough to join, in the brochure for several years.

Here’s my background with the ministry, from fringe connection to backstage involvement.

My first visit to IHOPKC was in 2002 when the ministry was small and sat in a trailer on Grandview Road. I went because my friends knew my life had been radically changed by prayer and worship and that is all I ever wanted to do (I was the life of the party, I tell you!). They told me about this IHOP place and always said “we should go.” Of course I asked when we could. But no one got around to it. So during the summer of 2002, I used part of summer vacation (I was a middle school teacher then) to drive up there. I went partly because I was frustrated with the talk about going someday.  I had to go to the place that understood my passion for prayer and worship. And I loved it. I was totally on the outside. I knew no one. I did a weekend seminar, and it was small enough then that we got to practice antiphonal singing in the prayer room. I sang as third singer on the mic for a short burst of a Saturday worship session. I loved singing spontaneously. I loved how everyone cared about prayer and worship and didn’t think I was a freak who was “too heavenly minded.” I also realized this place was far beyond what I was ready for. I couldn’t do this all day. I didn’t get it yet. But I respected it. I heard Mike Bickle preach. I had no clue who he was. I thought his name was funny. Poor guy, I thought, his name sounds like pickle. This was my entire introduction to IHOPKC.

And I kept going back. Sometimes I drove the 8-9 hours impulsively when I needed to detox. I could always slip into a room of strangers worshiping Jesus and somehow find myself again.

I went back and forth to IHOPKC for years as an anonymous visitor. I never introduced myself to anyone. And perhaps if there is anything that has come out of this controversy it is how easy it is to be lost in a major organization, not simply as a visitor, but even as a member.

Closer connections: Christmas break of 2008 my connection to IHOPKC changed. I was having a rough time in my home city and ran off to KC. That August I had been dramatically, profoundly, and irrevocably called (I mean that word; no slang here) into the pro-life cause. This changed my life, and while I will admit to being caught up in emotion, names, and dramatic prayer meetings, I will also say now, 6 years later, my passion for this has not been altered, even when everything else has. It was a real call, and I didn’t know what to do with it. No one in my world really talked much about abortion. I felt strangely alone and strangely empowered. I had no grid to deal, so I ran off to the place that did. That trip gave me powerful insights, a prophetic word that is one of the ones I still see as really real, a meeting with the man whose message stirred my heart to fighting for life, and even a very long and obviously God-appointed prayer from Mike Bickle, the leader of IHOPKC. I left my city feeling so alone, like people didn’t understand what had happened in my heart, but when I came back, I felt like God had heard my heart cry and taken me to the very people who had inspired me. I felt as if God Himself was encouraging me to keep going—even though none of them had a clue. That year I met one of my friends who was (and still is) in senior leadership at IHOPKC. That year, through a wild series of events that no one but God could orchestrate, I became connected to IHOPKC and many people there in ways that lasted (and some which are still in existence). After that trip, I was always connected, and visited often; it would then lead to my spending the better part of two summers there, and then a year working there.

This isn’t really supposed to be a document of my IHOPKC background so I won’t belabor the many details of my contact between 2008-2014. I had to work a full-time job and because of student loan debt, which was massive after a personal crisis, and I was on my own; there was no chance I was going to do ministry full-time with support raising, though in my heart I was sure nothing would be more wonderful. But I spent breaks there. Two years in a row I did in-house programs IHOPKC conducted for short-termers. The first was a month-long sort of “mini-internship” and in it, often the internship teachers would teach Intro (the main internship gateway for staff) in the morning and the same session that afternoon; in fact, that program began my relationship with some of those leaders). I listened to almost every teaching IHOPKC had. I actually had an iPod for that purpose. I hesitate to say I called it a “BicklePod” (but I did and it was funny back then, but now comments like that make people think you are a cult follower). Hang with me here. My point in telling you of the teaching and involvement I had on the base is to show that I have also been taught the “DNA” as they say, of IHOP. The prophetic history wasn’t really my “thing,” and yet I know it and understand why it matters to them. I don’t respect all the people who were a part of that back through the years, but I also think some of it was vitally important and relevant.

I will never know if I missed God or not because it didn’t turn out well for me, but in 2012 I packed up and moved to Kansas City, without a job (but with a back up plan) because it seemed I was “supposed to go.” I’m not defending that statement here. I regret it, not because of IHOPKC, but because of my heart. When I arrived in KC things happened fast. I arrived the day after meetings between George Otis, Jr. (Transformations prayer videos and researcher of true revival) and Bickle had led IHOPKC, coinciding with its anniversary, to announce new justice-focused initiatives that would lead out daily prayer meetings. Each day was designated for one focus. Friday was LIFE. I was, at that time, a staff member of a pro-life ministry, and editor of its blog. Through a series of events, I joined prayer room staff and then became a part of the LIFE team, and eventually became one of the few members of the new Justice Leadership Team. At first I was working with the pro-life stuff, but soon I was asked to help lead the communications within that group and to the base from our group. Working with a good friend of mine who had been on staff for years, we were a dream team. Part of the reason the leader asked me was my PhD and writing skills; my education was valued. We produced newsletters, team emails, communicated with prayer leaders and worship leaders, and worked directly with Marketing to get prayer focus handouts into the GPR to help people pray. My friend would field the info and then I would take care of making it ready for print or communication. I had lots of dialogue with the leaders and was the primary contact dealing with Marketing. This was a small group of only seven main leaders, the editorial team, and a couple of others who joined us from the leaders’ core teams. We often met in the back conference room where the senior leaders have offices. I say all this to tell you I know a bit about the back rooms, not just the visitor side. Some days I spent more time backstage and in meeting rooms than in the front of the prayer room.

The summer before I had worked with a senior leader who has a “big name” and worked in his office. Where his office was meant I sometimes heard senior leaders’ meetings (Sorry, leaders, but you left the door open!) One day I overheard a senior leadership meeting where they were dealing with some bad press over a national prayer meeting, The Response (which I was also a part of and participated on stage, as well as behind the scenes). I have never heard more humble hearts in my life. They didn’t know I could hear them, but I heard it all. And I sat in the office next door with tears in my eyes, amazed that in the face of accusations they could—when no one else could hear—resolve to love and walk in humility. I will never forget overhearing Bickle saying how many years in the future, they would see this as a gift that would cause them to thank and love God more. This is the stuff they said in the back. It wasn’t for the press or a big group. This was their heart. It was the same offstage as it was onstage. And that’s why the next year when I had a chance to work with them, I was as excited as a child.

When I tell you that I know IHOPKC, I am speaking from a point of being behind the scenes. It would be impossible to make any lasting generalizations about every stream of a ministry of thousands, but I can make some comments about some of the senior leaders and organizational operations because I was part of them. I can comment about the culture because I was part of it. On occasion I was even privy to private emails because part of my job was to help answer some questions that needed a response; one year, I even composed some of them. I ultimately produced a sort of quarterly report on the justice initiatives that went to some major donors and senior leaders, including Bickle. We also worked closely with George Otis, Jr.  (AKA “Uncle George,” a man I love and admire to this day) and the leaders of the Global Day of Prayer. These meetings were part of IHOPKC’s new focus and the partnerships IHOPKC wanted to have with global prayer leaders. (I’m going to state the obvious here and say that cults don’t reach out to mainstream leaders, and IHOPKC did, but I will come back to that later).

In summary, while I was not on FT staff for years, I did two in-house teaching programs (2009, 2010), worked for a summer (2011) in the offices as a writing assistant for a name you would recognize in a minute if I said it (and this often included being privy to private conversations, reading and sending emails, and other things that the average student or staffer would never see), and then came the next summer and worked part-time, but served more hours than many full-time staff for the next almost-year (2012-2013), while working three part-time jobs. I have prayed on the mic, briefed many worship teams and prayer leaders on certain justice issues, and spent some days at IHOPKC in the back meeting rooms more than the front prayer room. I’ve been part of two small groups. I know (or knew then as some have changed) a majority of the senior leaders in some capacity, as well as various worship leaders. I have had personal conversations with many. I have been to some of their homes and heard their hearts and watched their lives in ordinary times. I am not a stranger or just a random observer. You need to know that to know where my writing is coming from. I would venture to say that I have seen more of the inside of operations and people than most who are writing about it currently.

I’m not here to drop names, but to offer credibility to what I am saying. My friends at IHOPKC range from people who were with Metro, the church Bickle pastored in pre-IHOPKC days, to leaders who were some of the first group that started IHOPKC, who are on staff because they were just there, before an internship existed, to regular old students and staff, to people who just love it and moved there to “do IHOP” as part of their life, to senior leaders whose names you would know if I were dropping them. Some of those leaders are names I have seen maligned in blogs.

Additionally, I think I have read almost every public document written about the IHOPKC controversies in this season. I’m sure I missed a few, but for the most part I have kept up. Of course, most of it has been negative because IHOPKC has not yet made many public comments, nor have most of its leaders. A few of my friends I knew from there have made comments in general of their love for the ministry, indicating their support without going into details. More of what I have seen is signatures on petitions and blog posts by people who were some I loved and admired as members of IHOP–worshipers, pray-ers, even friends. Their names have been signed to heartbreaking stories, and maligning criticisms that sometimes have shocked me.

Now I want to address some of the most common accusations I am hearing that I actually know something about and feel like needs discussing:

On Cults

There is so much cult debate here, and it’s utterly maddening to me. Part of my graduate research was on cults. As Tyler Deaton portrayed a cocky attitude on 48 Hours and said that he didn’t think anyone who was qualified to call his group a cult had said that it was, I was remarking to the screen that I was qualified and saying it! Part of my master’s thesis was on cults and groupthink. That thesis is available online and happens to have been adopted by the library at the US Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, where it is still in the stacks, (which I am throwing in there to argue that it’s taken seriously as an adequate work of academic research, peer-reviewed and cited). I analyzed literature but in order to do so, had to research cults, the Holocaust, groupthink and group dynamics. Also, I hold an earned PhD from a major flagship state university (to be distinguished from some online diploma mill or unaccredited school) in educational psychology, which is a field which studies thinking and cognition. Therefore, when I say that my opinion is qualified to some degree, I think I have some ethos on which to say that. No, I do not work with cult deprogramming on a regular basis or anything to that level, but I have more background and experience in studying cults and thinking than, arguably, most of the voices weighing in on this issue right now. Here are my two thoughts, the second of which I will qualify.

Tyler Deaton appears to be a cult leader.

IHOPKC is not a cult, even remotely.

This is probably my most important point and reason for writing this long piece. If IHOPKC is anything, it’s too un-controlling. Part of why people flail there sometimes is ether the lack of real connection it is possible to have, or sometimes the feeling we put on ourselves that that it wasn’t okay to talk about some things. Sometimes it’s like those old church jokes about how people ask for prayer requests and everyone says “Please pray for me to have motivation to read my Bible and pray more.” And secretly people are thinking “Please pray I won’t hit that person I hate.” Or “I can’t stop looking at that porn, but I’m in ministry so I can’t tell you that.” You get the idea.

The qualities that make a cult a cult are not present in the organization of IHOPKC. They simply are not. No feelings or opinions can change that. I read blog after blog that say someone felt intimidated. But feeling intimidated because a leader you know says something isn’t cultish. My boss intimidates me—not in a bad way, but he’s my boss. If he comes to watch me work or I have to meet with him, I absolutely feel I have to be honest with him, answer his questions, and meet with him when he asks. I second-guess myself a bit, and I get nervous. My boss is a nice man, a leader we all like, and an overall good guy. But he’s the boss. I’d be a disrespectful twerp if I didn’t have some level of healthy fear. Being intimidated is not a qualification for labeling a group as a cult. That’s only one of many accusations lodged on that front, but I simply am taking too long writing this as it is. If you want to do more researching on cults, I can refer you to my own research and works cited so you can read academic research on it.

The primary reasons I see people label it a cult are the eschatological emphasis and the “groupspeak.” Every organization has jargon. I work in a field where we might possibly have more acronyms than IHOPKC! Ever heard two people in the medical profession talk? Groupspeak. Yes, there are many common phrases. I used to joke like crazy about how nothing ever ends at IHOPKC. We always “press the pause button” or “transition.” But so what? As a word person, sometimes I would get annoyed, but it’s harmless. I am also a person who thinks the phrase “passed away” is weird. When a family member died, I said, “she died.” I’m just literal. However, it is not cultish to use the same jargon in a common culture. It’s the intent of that jargon that can be cultish.

Now for the end times stuff. Oh, please, please hear me here! I was not trained to be a violent, end-time militant ready to help Jesus kill people. I can barely type that because it is so absurd. Bickle’s calling is to both prayer and intimacy with Jesus as we prepare for the end times. What will those look like? We only have a picture we imagine. But every time he speaks on something that is opinion, such as saying Jesus may come back in his lifetime—he always said “that’s my opinion, but I don’t know,” or something similar. What he offered as his teaching was substantiated with the Bible. Is it 100% correct? Is your pastor’s interpretation of the Bible always 100% correct? We are men and women praying and seeking God. Maybe Jesus will return in 200 years, maybe 20. But it’s not going to be pretty for those who don’t know him (and regardless of your view on the timing of the tribulation, the Bible is unequivocally clear there will be trouble for believers at some stage toward the end). Read Revelation and tell me that Jesus does everything gently. Jesus is absolutely love. Pure and holy love. And He is justice; as a righteous King, he gets to execute justice. Does anyone believe that the antichrist structure discussed in the Bible would really just let Jesus take over? Regardless of your views on when and where that will happen, the text of the Bible is clear it won’t be pretty. Justice meets love when the God of love is rescuing us from the enemy of our souls and those who fight for him. Love rescues us. That is not always quiet, peaceful at the time, or pretty.

The preparation for this at IHOPKC has always been in context of the church as the bride of Christ being made ready with oil in her lamps, as the parable of the ten virgins states. And those lamps are always emphasized to be intimacy with Jesus, when we have this oil, we can withstand trials. That is a key teaching at IHOPKC and one I have rarely read about in the accusations. A phrase they say often there is that “lovers will become workers.” The idea is that first we fall in love with Jesus and who He is, and then we want to work with Him. I am not focused on the end times, and I don’t know how much I would ascribe to, but I can see a biblical case for the IHOPKC teaching. It is incorrect to say the purpose of IHOPKC is to raise up people who are violent fighters with Jesus; the “warring bride” terminology refers to warring against the enemy, out of love for Jesus. Ephesians 6 makes it clear that we are warring against spiritual forces, and Revelation makes it clear that this war will be on earth one day in a visible reality. But there is no truth to the idea that IHOPKC is training people to be violent end time soldiers or something. That is not true. It’s even slightly slanderous/libelous.

And a few other comments people throw in the cult-o-meter and my responses:

“I was forced to listen to the prophetic history.”

“I had to spend 24 hours a week in the prayer room, not doing anything else.”

No. You. Weren’t. You signed up for an internship with a ministry. You want to be a leader in an industry, you had better know their vision, mission, and DNA. I can’t even fathom being told to read the organizational mission statement and supporting documents in my job and saying I was forced to conform. No, I choose to work there, and that’s what I do. This is how the world works. In my job recently, I had to have hours of useless training in how to deal with chemical spills. I teach a humanities subject in a college. I never, in any circumstances, have to deal with chemicals, not even toner for copiers, but I had a deadline and had to complete a ridiculously long training and take an OSHA regulations test or jeopardize my job. I hated it; it was irrelevant. I did it because that was a requirement of my job. That’s how the world works, but only in ministry do we label it as a cult.

In a major ministry that was founded after many confirming prophetic words, of course you might listen to hours of stories about that so you understand that vision. In a high-tech start-up, you may watch videos of the founders’ vision, attend trainings, or read manuals. But it’s all part of how things work in any full-time vocation. I wouldn’t want anyone in leadership in an organization of any sort who doesn’t ascribe to the mission and vision of the organization. That doesn’t mean you have to ascribe to IHOPKC to be an effective leader or minister. Not one bit. But if you want to be in leadership there, why would anyone expect anything different? I keep paralleling this to my job and thinking that these accusations would never fly in the workforce, but somehow they have become fodder for the naysayers in the ministry world.

IHOPKC is an open base. Anyone from anywhere can walk in and pray as much or as little as he or she wants. In fact, one can join prayer room staff and have a badge and sign up for prayer room hours and never attend a single session requiring anything. And it’s never even checked. On our team, we were all asked, along with the worship teams, to attend the Friday and Saturday services. Guess what? No one followed up on our team to see if we did. It’s an honor system in that sense, which is hardly cultish either. Yes, students and staff have to sign in and fulfill requirements. I have friends who went to Christian colleges and their grades include a chapel grade, and they have to sign in and attend a minimum number of chapels. Oh, by the way, I have to sign in now when I go to faculty meetings and all our names are recorded. And if I miss a mandatory event, my boss hears about it from his boss. My job is wonderful, flexible, and not controlling—but there are just rules and regulations everywhere.

This is not a micromanaging cult. This is an organization teaching its mission to other leaders (the path of internships is primarily to join staff or to go start a house of prayer).

And on that topic, IHOPKC doesn’t “affiliate.” Some have written “[—] House of Prayer, which isn’t even connected to IHOPKC…” as if they have pulled away from IHOPKC. It’s a sign of its lack of control that this even happens. IHOPKC doesn’t care if you use “[City Name] International House of Prayer.” In fact, and here’s another reason I can’t take the cult label seriously, you have listen to Bickle speak for two seconds, you know that “our copyright is the right to copy.” He has said over and over through the years that you can take his notes, manuals, whatever, and “change them, put your name on them, put your mother’s name on them, and you don’t have to give me credit.”

That’s not a cult, people; that’s a ministry that believes in its calling.

On Spiritual Abuse

This one is touchy. And while we can’t generalize, we also can’t discount if someone has had a bad experience. But I can say that as a culture and organization, IHOPKC is not spiritually abusive. Does that mean some people didn’t encounter that in their work because some leader did something wrong or abused power—or was just an emotional wimp and was manipulative to a fault? Of course not. I can’t speak for everyone; neither can the accusers who try to.

What I do want to say is that spiritual abuse is a real and devastating thing (I have been a victim, but not at IHOPKC), and to throw that label around because of bad ministry experiences cheapens the reality of those who have suffered and had their faith wounded because of actual abuse. That’s what’s happening a lot in these controversies. One minute a real cult group which lived on spiritual (and emotional and sexual) abuse was the problem, and then many jumped on the bandwagon using the springboard of opportunity to propel their own stories that were more about human conflict. Insisting that someone “made me feel like” is not evidence of abuse. Our feelings do not determine truth. If someone makes you feel a certain way and you can’t leave without that person doing something to you, then you may be dealing with abuse. Our brokenness as people, and our inability to be assertive, stand up to people, or deal with conflict well is not a crime, but putting the responsibility on another person and labeling it abuse should be.

I have a friend who was a victim of horrific spiritual abuse. She was a part of IHOPKC for years, but her abuse happened in a different context, after she left. As she sees and reads these accounts, it’s actually not doing her any justice as she copes. But she’d probably like to make a speech on the line between abuse and plain old relational weakness. The accusations in the Deaton group sound like abuse; the accusations within IHOPKC sound like unprocessed relational issues or deep human brokenness and pain, more like what I experienced with some people who hurt me, but did not abuse me. I do not discount anyone’s pain, and I do not in any respect say no abuse has happened to anyone; I do discount that it’s a general trait of IHOPKC.

And one more aspect is one which I apply to myself: If we came in broken, we will be more broken if we don’t deal with it because we will be sitting in a furnace. It’s called a prayer furnace for a reason, and while the primary reason doesn’t have to do with you, it’s naïve to think you can spend 24 hours a week in a prayer room and, if you don’t Facebook the whole time, not think your own issues will rise to the surface. One of the hardest things I ever did was spend 20+ hours a week in the prayer room–because I wasn’t Facebooking; I was praying or reading my Bible, and I was sleepy sometimes, and vulnerable because, what the heck was I doing there? And my heart ached because of all the things that rose to the surface. It was a clash. Deal with it or bury it more.

I have a friend who spent many years in YWAM, as well as friends who majored in either psychology or social work in college, and all of them made a comparison to me of people in their respective environments: Two main types of people entered a Discipleship Training School (DTS) or a psychology/social work major: Those with an intense calling to the field, and those who wanted to be in the environment to learn, grow, and help themselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting to receive more of God, and headed off for a DTS, even without feeling a call to missions. Sometimes people are most spiritually helped and emotionally helped in that environment. My point here is not to criticize those people, but it is to point out that being in a place does not make one a typical representative of the place. My initial visits to IHOPKC were because I needed to receive. I wasn’t there to work or serve. By 2011 when I landed for that summer job, my priority was to work and serve a man who was a leader I admired and who needed my skills to help. I worked hard, and I worked joyfully. By then I was not there for help. Likewise, my work 2012-2013 on the Justice Leadership Team was a joy (well, except sometimes with some editing dilemmas!) and I was there to serve. Both positions, receiving and then giving, were where I was at the time, but if I had been in leadership in any capacity when I was more in a position to receive, then I would have been more broken and hurt when my needs were not being met. Take that for what it’s worth, but remember that every voice does not come from the same place. That doesn’t make it ill-intended, but it makes it an important consideration in how we filter those voices into our views now.

Deliverance/exorcism

Of everything I have to say, this is going to be the most “negative,” if you will, in some ways, but it’s from personal experience that I speak, and I hope this is the takeaway every reader gets from this long piece. First, what the world refers to as “exorcism” is what Charismatics often call “deliverance.” I will be the first to tell you there are differences between the two, and I am aware of important nuances (such as a person being demon-possessed, versus one who has the influence of demonic oppression; outside the Spirit-filled world, people might simply call it “the enemy attacking a person in that area.”) While we see that a possessed person and an oppressed or spiritually bothered one are different, the wider viewing and reading audience does not get this distinction.

I had an unfortunate experience with deliverance while at IHOPKC, but it was not an IHOPKC-sanctioned experience. It came when I sought help for deep grief and relational issues from my issues I had then with dealing with complications from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and we ended up doing a “deliverance” program from a manual that had been used in some ministry settings there, but in my situation it was outside those bounds, not IHOPKC-sanctioned, and no one in an official capacity at IHOPKC knew this was going on, and it lacked the processing and community support of the set-up. For me it didn’t work. So why did I do it? Because I had moved to Kansas City, and I thought what if it was God, and what if He wanted to do something like this, and I was being too narrow minded?

I’m not afraid of pointing out the bad things because I am not condemning the ministry for this. So don’t you dare stop here because I need to say some things–especially if you heard my pain over this and think it’s an IHOPKC thing. I also need to point out that I don’t condemn the people who tried to help. I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but they didn’t abuse me or intend to hurt me; no one knew how to deal with RAD in an adult, so it was just an unfortunate situation. It wasn’t the first time someone had tried to “deliver” me, but it was the least awful of them all. I also need to note that at no time in any of the sessions was there yelling, at demons or otherwise, or anything but a calm voice and prayers. This was not like what people have read about. Here are some other things you should know about that ministry:

  1. There was some success with the blanket repentance and prayers for some, but here’s what I think really happened during the awakening (which began a few years before). People were being woken up to areas of sin and compromise; they were confessing things, finally talking about abuse, self-destruction, all of it. It was an open door. The chains had been broken community-wide to talk about the ugly. This is a good thing. We should always be willing to talk about the ugly. Seeing a mass awakening, and so many people with needs, I don’t think coming up with a foundation for addressing it is bad. It can be overwhelming when hundreds of people are sobbing, repenting, hating themselves, needing healing. I give IHOPKC a lot of credit for addressing these. I believe all the intentions were in the right place. But I don’t believe the success of those people who walked in freedom afterwards were very much about the scripts in that book at all. The successes were because of the unity of commitment to repent, confess, and walk in truth. The requirement for that deliverance time was to then walk it out in community, be honest, and continue in it. And that’s what helps heal people. I’m not at all surprised people found freedom that way. Most of us would find freedom right now if we were allowed to talk about that which haunts us, to repent of sins we committed, or to process those committed against us, and then renew our relationship with Jesus and be in an environment to safely walk that out. That’s healthy and right.
  2. I have recently learned that particular manual is being redone entirely, and that senior leadership is being tasked with that charge. I won’t go into that more because it’s not my place to talk about that, other than to say, I am thankful the Lord has His hand on it, and that when the deficiencies were discovered they were dealt with.

The flip side of the deliverance ministry and what I know from the inside: To say IHOPKC uses some negative deliverance techniques on everyone is absolutely false. The most profound expressions of deliverance I witnessed, which may seem loud and intense to some were related to the ministry that deals with human trafficking, which has also been accused of much of the controversy making its way around now. That ministry deals with serious demonic oppression. I know a little about some of what they have faced from some I know in there, and I can tell you, it’s bad. Atheists might believe in demonic oppression in those situations. These ministry workers were called upon to help the discharged cult members who wanted it. And I know a bit about this, too.

Because I was there at the time this happened, and also happened to be on a team with one of the main leaders of that ministry, I saw and heard a lot on the inside. Additionally, I also happened to briefly live in a house with one of the former cult members, one who wanted help and had been placed with us. She lived there with a member of that ministry team. A member of that team gave up her own life to stay in a strange house with this traumatized young lady who spent a lot of time crying (reasonably so). I was impressed, frankly, with the care and love given to this torn up young lady who had been a victim apart from anything that happened at the hand of IHOPKC, but to whom IHOPKC offered its hand to help. She was, in all I saw, treated with grace, kindness, and gentleness. I felt for her and prayed for her—even though technically I was not supposed to know why she was there. There was nothing loud, no screaming, nothing scary. She was a sad and traumatized person who’d been a victim of Tyler’s alleged control and now was reeling from shock. Her face looked splotchy from all her crying, but IHOPKC’s ministry was trying to help her. They helped anyone who asked for it. They found them housing—free—and people gave up hours and hours of time to be with these victims.

On the other end are the wild deliverance meetings that the media and former cult members describe as “exorcisms.” When I read those descriptions of loud meetings and praying in the Spirit, I know that had an element of truth. So does some of the detailing of the list of “repentances” that I also had in my “manual.” That’s actually the only place those two meet. I don’t agree with them all, nor think it’s all good for people, but, as I noted, as a result of some of this, leaders are making changes. I don’t know about you, but short of being flawless, I’m not sure what else I can ask of leaders except to learn from mistakes and make changes.

But you know what? As far as the dramatic side, which is not me, and which I would not be involved in, let’s face it, personality type has a lot to do with any ministry delivery. Some of the people in that ministry are just loud and intense people in general. They’d be loud and pray in the Spirit if they were in a church service too. Or Walmart probably! They’re probably loud at home. And they fight in a way spiritually that most of us never see. They deal with people who have spent a lifetime being abused, sold, prostituted, forced into abortion, you name it. They do deal with things we can’t imagine. I’m not sitting here and telling you every encounter or interaction was right; I wasn’t there. What I do know are the leaders behind this. I worked with one of them who was called to this meeting, and I know that leader’s heart. I won’t say there weren’t mistakes, and I don’t know it all. I am saying that in a minute, with no warning, suddenly everyone was trying to deal with a cult group and the revelations of allegations of sexual manipulation and abuse, confessions of things unimaginable, all of it. It happened so fast that no one could prepare for it. One minute it wasn’t there and the next it was.

Stop and picture your church: What if you went in Sunday morning and you found out a group in your church was allegedly living in some creepy ways and one leader in your church was sexually involved with them, and they were traumatized and now someone was dead. What if? Would your pastor know how to handle that perfectly on the spot? Would your deacons and elders know just what to do to protect the abused, help with healing, call in the perfect ministers? You see, it’s easy for us to wildly accuse when we don’t know these people, but I do know them. Perfect? No. Pure-hearted? Yes.

The general deliverance ministry at IHOPKC is not loud, not screaming in tongues, not wildly placing hands on people. But there is (or was?) that part when I was there, usually reserved for serious situations in which it was actually reasonable to expect serious spiritual oppression. You do not live a life as a trafficking victim, prostitute, or cult member, without engaging a dark spiritual side. So I get that motivation too. Nevertheless, if someone does not have a wild and dramatic personality, but has been a victim of such things and is fragile, yelling—even at demons and not the person—is counterproductive and destructive. It has no place in ministering to a person.

No one ever forces anyone to do anything. There were things I did not take part in because after a couple of years of experiencing some truly nutso deliverance people (not from IHOPKC ; if you want a real deliverance cult, I can give you an address, and it’s not in Kansas City), I was just scared by the whole idea of deliverance, but that was from my own past experiences.

That said, here are some other things I know that must be considered when wildly accusing all of IHOPKC as being bad. First, I have been in many teaching sessions at IHOPKC, including one from the head (at least when I was there) of the deliverance ministry. I have been in classes not open to the public, as well as all the public sessions, in which deliverance was addressed. Not one time was anything like this encouraged. In fact, every single time, and I do mean every time without fail, we were encouraged to pray without those demonstrations. Bickle is fond of saying how he has a big personality so when he says “pass the salt” at dinner, he sort of booms across the table, but his point was that his personality is just loud (and by the way, he has never, in all the years I spent in proximity with him, yelled at demons when praying for someone. That time he prayed for me when the Holy Spirit started moving and instead of just praying and moving on, he lingered, it was obvious the Lord was moving. This prayer went on for quite some time, and the room was loud with activity and music. And that man did not ever raise his voice or speak with the slightest hint of drama). In training to pray for people or prophesy to people at IHOPKC, gentleness and respect is always encouraged. They tell you to stand in front of people when praying for them, not behind them, so you can see them and they see you. And time and again, we were told not to shout at demons.

I’m not a fan of deliverance ministry, period. I am a fan of teaching people how to encounter Jesus who is the Deliverer. I have experienced deliverance, a few times, actually, as recently as three weeks ago (!), and every single time it came when I encountered Jesus. Not once did it come when I recited a script. But even with my bias against this, I can tell you that what IHOPKC does with deliverance ministry is the tamest I have ever seen.

On Discouraging Education:

I’m a highly educated person by the standards of the world, and my education was honored at IHOPKC—and actually was the reason I worked both with the leader writing, and with the Justice Leadership Team. I have an earned PhD from a well-ranked public university, and I educate others. I have never been discouraged to pursue education or to compromise it. Why is it that when a young person goes to YWAM for a DTS, people don’t condemn that? Many young people go to one DTS, then another, then another. They then join staff and never go to college, and that’s okay. I am pro-education, but I don’t think that a young person giving his or her life to service for the Lord is bad; however, I think that doing that from some sort of peer pressure because it’s cool and all the people around are doing it is a sign of needing to grow. A place like IHOPKC is a specific place for specific types of people. Few people are called to live all of their lives and vocations in life of prayer and worship and service to the base and community. But some are. Bickle has said repeatedly in public and smaller group meetings that if someone is not called to this, that person should leave and go to school, get a job, or whatever, and simply continue praying and pursuing Jesus as that person is called. It’s true that I do not like the word “university” when dealing with non-accredited school. And this was addressed in the Midwest Ministers Fellowship report in Bickle’s response to his accusers. But to mass label any of these as discouraging education is untrue. In my time at IHOPKC, I saw many young people leave staff to go back to college, and some stayed part-time and did that, or went to school full-time and did the prayer room sometimes. Each was welcomed. Did someone discourage education for someone who wanted it? Did someone shun one who went back to school? Probably here and there. Is that the attitude of IHOPKC? Absolutely not.

In conclusion

As I conclude this really long piece, I want to tell you what is most important: The fruit. In the middle of my plans to write this, something profound happened to me spiritually. That’s not for this particular piece, but what happened to me as a result is. I was away on a trip when I had a powerful encounter with the Lord. When I came home, suddenly, my life was different. For the first time a couple years—maybe more, to be honest—I was passionate to pursue Jesus. I went to my room to pray, not sure exactly where to begin and what I was doing. I had been away from such things for so long, which is sad, but was my own work as I began a slow descent by giving into little compromises until I didn’t recognize myself. And what happened was amazing to me. I knew what to do, and most of what I knew came from all my years at IHOPKC. You want to know what I learned there? I learned to pray the Bible. When I was sitting there wordless and unsure how or what to pray, all that teaching came back to me, and I opened my Bible and read it aloud, and I prayed it aloud. And it had life because the Word of God is alive. I talked to the Holy Spirit, remembering all the teaching I had on how to just sit in His presence and be with Him and talk to the Lord not out of petition, but out of abiding. I remembered the admonishment to go find what the Bible says about everything. I was hungry, so hungry I felt I was a starving spiritual waif. I pulled out every book I could find on what was happening in me. But the foundation in me that came alive was from the many years of sermons and prayer meetings at the place so many have now declared bad. The fruit in my life is good. It is godly, biblical, Jesus. I had never been so thankful for IHOPKC as I was a few weeks ago when I had that education in the Spirit to fall back on when God restored my soul.

No place is without fault. In my talks with IHOPKC leaders, as well as the documents I have read from them, the leaders, led by Bickle, have thanked the naysayers for pointing out areas of weakness so they can be addressed. Yes, there should be greater personal accountability or connection. But even since I was there, that’s been building. They have sought advice from people outside the organization. I know this for a fact. They have brought new people in to help.

See, people mess up, but the ones who are godly seek to repent and change. This is what I have seen. Many are criticizing IHOPKC for not responding in some specific ways, and all I have to say to that is what one of my friends noted from Proverbs 18: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” There are two sides to everything, and simply waiting for some more information before presenting a response is not an indication of guilt.

I ask you to hold your blanket judgments. I ask you to pray most especially for the victims of the original cult group and their physical, emotional, and sexual abuse they have detailed. I cannot begin to fathom that pain and what it must take to work through it. I ask you to pray for those who were part of IHOPKC and in that time experienced some form of relational damage, or even controlling behavior at the hands of some leader acting on his or her own, and to remember that in a ministry of thousands, it would be impossible to find each error—especially when it’s not pointed out at the time. I ask you to also pray—no matter where you stand—for the leaders. From the top leaders, down to the random person who sits there anonymously and maybe prays a rapid-fire prayer on the mic once in a while, these mass accusations and awful comments are hurtful. Please do not target the whole place for a few grievances.

I have had both good (very good) and bad (very bad) experiences in my connections in Kansas City. I met people at IHOPKC who broke my heart, and I met people at IHOPKC who became some of the closest friends in my life. But if I had to generalize every one of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of people I know and knew in that ministry, I could say, in all sincerity, that as a group of people, from senior leaders to people you would never know, I have never encountered a group of more humble, kind, encouraging, loving people in my life. They truly love Jesus, and they preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Whatever faults they have, you won’t find much difference at your local church, workplace or anywhere else.

May God continue to work on the weaknesses that the team there is addressing, and may God show mercy to us all in this time of conflict. The saddest part of all of this for me is that Jesus isn’t glorified one bit by these negative comments, even the ones that may have elements of truth. In the end, if it’s not to the glory of God, it will burn anyway.

As I actually close this, I need to say again, absolutely no one has approved or edited any content in here. The majority of my friends at IHOPKC have no idea I’m writing this and don’t even know where I stand on the controversies. I have no horse in this race—well, except the white horse that Jesus will ride in on one day. That should be the only winner that drives our motivations.

This is a new blog because I have so much to say. Some of it’s really exciting about Jesus stuff, and some of it’s really heavy stuff I need to say publicly. I haven’t known exactly where to start so this testimony seems a good place.  I told God I was going to be posting this because I just knew he would do it. So please wade through the first part that may sound like complaining; it’s not.

Two days ago I got some really strange pain, sort of in my back, lower abdomen, maybe kidney? I couldn’t totally tell. I do have regular back pain, usually when I sit for too long. My doctors have always told me running helps it. Monday I ran 4.5 miles–and the pain continued. It didn’t get worse, but it never lightened up much. It wasn’t horrible then, but it was making my run a bit less fun. I finally decided to slow it down, so I could enjoy it more. It ended up being a good run, but with the cloud of pain. It didn’t get any worse from the run, but even sitting hurt. It bothered me because it was NOT like any of the pain I sometimes have. I knew it was different and it was making me nervous, but I didn’t want to be all whining about pain on FB. Monday night I went to bed at a normal time, planning to rise early and get on the road to Kansas. I had glimmers as I went to bed that I might wake up worse since the pain was getting worse, and even had the thought I might not be able to drive 6 hours.

At 3:44 a.m. I awoke. In pain. Serious pain. I went to sleep with a lidocaine patch on (leftover from a procedure a few years ago), and then wrapped a back brace over that, lightly. It didn’t help. The pain was so deep, and when lidocaine doesn’t work, you know it’s not a certain type of pain; that scared me more. I was in too much pain to get comfortable to sleep. It wasn’t that it was so terrible like I was keeled over as much as it was nothing would help it. I was miserable, sleepy, and praying as coherently as I could do. It was then I realized I might have to cancel a trip because I was too sick to drive. I even wondered if I couldn’t run. Run streakers run with the flu (only a slow indoor mile), so you can imagine how troubled I was to think that. I took some Celebrex, an OTC sleeping pill, and waited to sleep. It took an hour to fall back asleep and I didn’t bother with the alarm. I awoke again about the time I was planning to leave. I decided if I could just get there, that was accomplishment enough.

I took a couple prescription pain pills that don’t affect my driving, and packed up. I was feeling better—and was somewhat encouraged that at least pain pills worked (I was too sleepy and uncomfortable to get out of bed the night before and get these—and the Celebrex and other Advil I had was messing up my stomach so I added that problem to it.

The pain subsided enough that I felt better about driving. I knew I’d get good medical care in KC if I got there, so I just went for it. I drove straight through to Wichita and seemed to do okay. I went to the restroom and got gas, and headed for the last 2.5 hours of the drive. Almost as soon as I got back in the car, the pain was dominant. It wasn’t excruciating, but it was scary. Like walking or moving had triggered it all again. I could not get comfortable. I was scared at this point. This was not some running pain or strain from a bad workout. My pain pills were in my trunk, and I just wanted to get to Kansas so bad that I didn’t want to stop again. I only had NSAIDs in my car and wasn’t up to messing up my stomach. As it was I knew I had to get some stronger antacid meds until this passed. I felt like my body was falling apart. When I got to just outside my destination, I found a Target that was on my way to where I planned to go run. I had a goal of mileage for the day, and while it wasn’t long, I had given up and was going to settle for one slow mile to keep up the streak, if I could do that without extra pain. I was genuinely scared of this pain. I had goggled both appendicitis and kidney infections. Thankfully, I didn’t have a fever. I was getting nauseated, but mostly I think it was from the pain—you know how when you hurt too much it can give you chills and make you feel like throwing up? Or I was trying to deny that symptom.

I didn’t say anything because people always talk about this and that hurting, and plus, who wants to hear horror stories of what happened to someone else? So I was just praying a lot. I was so uncomfortable that my own prayers and worship would get interrupted because the pain was distracting me. At Target, I got some Prilosec, which I inhaled, and barely anything else because that involved walking. I was 15 minutes from the lake where I planned to run (hobble). I took two more pain pills and the Prilosec. I was feeling decent when I got to the lake, again, relieved that pain pills worked. I couldn’t be that sick if they worked right? Appendicitis wouldn’t respond to some piddly pain pill! I felt encouraged by that.

So I got out of the car to run and within the first 1/10 of a mile was smiling. It was cold and I was in a tank top and shorts—and that was my biggest problem physically. I have never thanked God so exuberantly for being too cold! The run (only 1.76 miles—which was more than I planned but felt so good) refreshed me and gave me hope. It recharged my prayers and I had a wonderful worship time as I drove to the running store. When I finally checked in my hotel, I was feeling lots better. It had been about three hours since the pain pills and I could tell the pain was coming back a bit, but it didn’t feel too bad—but I knew it was there. I had relief but I was not healed. I took another dose and another antibiotic, wanting to keep it in me if there were an infection.

I finally texted my friend and told her why I didn’t call while I was driving as we planned—the wind was loud but I was just too uncomfortable to focus on talking. I told her to pray. And later I emailed her with a lot of these details in asking her to pray.

I was just happy the pain hadn’t flared up as I went to bed. I got out two of the pain pills, one antibiotic, filled a cup of water, and got my OTC sleep meds and lay them all next to my bed. If I did wake up when this round of painkillers wore off, I would have it all right there to take and be back to sleep sooner. And I prayed some more. Because I wanted more than just relief and Jesus was working in my life a lot lately and I knew this was nothing. What happened the week or two before was a much bigger miracle. This wasn’t knocking me out.

So I prayed a lot. Well, I sort of pray a lot anyway now (see other posts of my crazy life!) But I was walking around like a crazy Charismatic anointing myself with oil because, well, there were no elders, so I decided I was the elder in my house and car! I have always had some unexplained faith for physical healing. I have never been a sickly type, something for which I am grateful and realize is a huge blessing which I do not take for granted (especially in understanding other types of chronic battles). But when my vocal folds got damaged when I was a teacher and singer (like I kind of needed healthy ones for every single thing I did!) I even had surgery by a guy who has operated on celebrity singers, and that didn’t help! I was sick for 13 months. One of the worst memories of my life as a worship singer was the night Mark (he’s not the bad memory) said, kindly, that maybe I better not sing that night because my voice wasn’t even holding out at lower notes. 13 months and some days after I first injured it, I asked a random person I just met (now my very dear and bestest friend, Camilla, who also had a vocal issue going on but was a worship leader, how she managed to just hand the mic to her sister to lead when her voice went out and not feel such grief. That night was the beginning of our friendship (14 years ago in May), and maybe that’s why God used that moment, but she prayed for me, a casual sounding, non-dramatic prayer (she’d just met me) and the next day I woke up with a full voice–and it never went away again. I don’t even know that I have been extremely hoarse when I got sick! In that same season I remember having what was probably arthritis in my thumb, constantly bothering me, and praying and praying–and Jesus healed it. Never happened again. In that same season once He even healed a cold. No joke. Jesus can be the cure for a common cold. (Wish that worked all the time). So I already had faith for physical healing, from those small experiences–except the voice thing wasn’t small; it altered my whole life dramatically–though the fruit of that was I began to dance more and that’s one way God used it. I couldn’t sing my worship so I had to dance it.

All that to say that between that and a natural faith I have always had, without any real experience with sickness in me or those close to me at the time, I have been able to believe for healing more than I can explain, and so I was on it with this pain.

This morning I did not have to set an alarm, so as I went to sleep the mystery was if I would wake up in the middle of the night or not. I woke up at 8:34 a.m. and realized immediately I had slept through the night. This time the pain pills had worn off and I didn’t need them! Then I turned over in bed. No pain. I got up to start my day. No pain. Was I healed? I wanted to run first, to be sure it wasn’t like how I was fine sitting in the car but when I walked in the travel center it triggered it.

I thought it would be good if I could run at least as long a I did Monday. 6.55 miles later—the longest run since my 15K in Tyler—at a faster speed than some races I have run, I knew I was healed. Zero pain, twinges, or anything else in that spot. The rest of me felt like I had just run 6.55 in the cold and rain, and my hips felt a bit of a strain. My abs felt it—but all of it was nowhere near the pain that had scared me.

How little it must sound to some to report a two day pain went away. But it was such a unique and scary pain. I could poke that area and feel it. It was not generalized like most pain. It was in one spot, and I was sure it was not okay. I have always believed your body gives you warming signs when something is really wrong. Most people I know who got a serious disease could identify small precursors and stuff. I don’t take stuff lightly. It’s never wrong to pray too hard or believe for too much healing, you know?

For two days (only two days, thank the Lord) I was afraid, nervous, distracted, unfocused. And in unusual pain. And Jesus healed me. And I told Him if He did I was going to tell everyone, and I do so with great joy.

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The glass of water and untaken pills. Amen.

This is a minor chapter of a major thing going on right now. Two weeks ago I was not the person I am now. It’s exciting, invigorating, fun. I feel like a child in awe of a new discovery. I have known the Lord a long time, but I have spent many years with a more cerebral knowledge than anything, trying to hang on to a faith that was damaged and actually did hit rock bottom one day about 1.5 years ago. That was one of the scariest moments of my life. In past years I would have never believed that I would passionately and excitedly write about Jesus healing a pain that hadn’t even been diagnosed as anything. But that’s the bigger point here. When Jesus comes in that way, everything changes—sometimes in a moment. That’s’ what happened for me. And this seems like the best place to start this new blog. Most of my personal thoughts are in an old-fashioned handwritten journal, some of them also go to a friend, but then I have bigger thoughts and experiences that I hope will encourage others.

Nothing has changed circumstantially in my life. I didn’t make a new friend, meet a guy, get another job, find a church, or anything else. Jesus changed me. And even if I wanted to shut up, I couldn’t right now. There’s nothing more important. Healing is a byproduct, but today I rejoice and praise Him for it.

Stay tuned for more spiritual adventures and spiritual commentary about some things it’s about time I talk about. But don’t stay tuned for any negative drama because that’s not how I roll.