Friday, March 18, 2011

Praying Through

There are several different things that God has been pressing us to pray for as a body here at Ellerslie. The commission that we were given to pray is not often spoken of by us, but boy have we been praying! The countries of Vietnam, North Korea, and Indonesia have been on our hearts, to name just a few. He has also brought almost 40 new students here for us to pray for, love on, and intercede for. He has given us so many opportunities to love them and speak truth to them, but also so many opportunities to learn from them as well. A couple weeks ago we dropped almost everything else and joined together to lift up specific students in prayer. It is the concept of “praying through”, of putting them on a stretcher and carrying them to the Lord Jesus for His healing power and forgiveness, and not giving up until we see the victory. “Praying through” is not a new concept, but rather a concept that has been around for centuries. To pray through is to grab hold of God’s promises and refuse to let go until they are brought from heaven to earth, just as Jacob refused to stop wrestling until he received the blessing. But what exactly are we praying for? Well, a lot of different things, really. The end goal is always the same though, and that is Jesus. We have been praying for students who feel as if there is some type of barrier between them and God. They have raised their hands and stated, “I need help.” It is not any single person at Ellerslie who is helping them. As stated earlier, we are merely putting them on a stretcher and carrying them to the Lord so He can give them everything they need.

One student that we prayed for was Amity, a newly married woman who was struggling with the giant of fear in her life. This fear was evident to all of us. Mere days before we were praying her through, she had stood up and confessed her fear, and the poor girl was shaking all over! So several days later she went into the back room and we prayed and prayed. God spoke, and we obeyed. Praying for at least an hour might sound like it’s easy, but it is anything but. Praying is hard work, it is exhausting, it is labor, it is battle. The exhaustion that you feel from the battle spiritually is soon found in your body physically. I never was the type of person who liked to take naps, but I discovered while praying through that a nap at 2 o’clock in the afternoon never sounded so good. Why is that? It is because there is a very real enemy and a very real fight going on.

On we prayed, and we were committed to pray through dinner, through the night if we needed to. We were committed to pray for Amity until fear had no place in her life. To our surprise, after about an hour (though we were expecting it to be longer), we heard the shout of victory erupt from the back room. Out Amity marched, head held high, steps confident, smile on her face, and there was not a single ounce of fear evident in her entire body. She grabbed the mic with a steady hand and boldly declared what the Lord had done for her. She was a different person than the shaking, trembling young woman we had seen a week before, and it was evident. I’ve seen a lot of people changed when they come out of that back room, but never before had I seen someone so obviously changed as Amity. She is just one example of the many people who have found the healing and enabling power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Lord- Strong and Mighty

As I have so often said, God is moving upon the Ellerslie body. It is overwhelming to describe just what He has done, and what He is doing. He has been working in individuals for a long time to prepare us for something which is now beginning to form. Through the voice of Eric Ludy and many others, God has given us a call to prayer. He has commanded us to get on our faces, to allow His grief to become ours, to allow His burdens to rest upon our shoulders, to sacrificially, consistently, and strategically get down on our knees and to pray for the realities of heaven to become the realities of earth. When Eric gave the message “Under the Stage” I was stirred at a deep level. I wanted to respond, yet at the same time I didn’t know what to pray for and I was scared of such a death to self. I doubted that it would be possible for me.

I was wrong.

There has been a purifying in each individual heart and life as we present ourselves to the Lord and ask Him to do in us what we cannot do on our own. We esteem the lives of Hudson Taylor, Jackie Pullinger, CT Studd, Rees Howells and so many others, but we fall so far short of their level of givenness to our Savior. The exchanged life isn’t fully manifested in us yet because we have yet to fully die to ourselves and allow God to clean the sin out of our lives. But that’s changing. He is bringing greater deaths to us as an entire body daily, and He will only continue to finish what He has started. We are learning to reckon Romans 6-8 as true, and every single day Jesus Christ is becoming more and more evident in our lives as the Holy Spirit comes in power upon us.

A couple weeks ago I was concerned because I didn’t know what it was that God was calling me into the prayer closet for. I asked Him to burden me with something, and He has answered me. Now I can see that He has been calling me to do something about this for a long time and my ears were simply shut to His call.

I like to think that if I lived in Nazi Germany I would have done something about the atrocities happening there. Millions of people being murdered... I would’ve stood up for them even if it meant my own death, and how dare those awful German Christians who simply went about their lives as normal as if none of it were happening.

I am no better.

There is a holocaust happening in this very nation, and the young Christian women who call themselves the bride of Christ are the ones committing these murders. I have turned a blind eye to it thinking that someone else will do something and that it is too big for me to take on anyways. I repent of my selfish and evil ways. This is something God cares about, something He has told me to go after, and until now I have ignored Him. I am now stating that I am going to stand against abortion, no matter if it means my death.

As I say that, there is something else extremely important that we must realize. First of all, I must state that I myself am a sinner and no better than these women who murder their own children. But God has done something overwhelmingly beautiful and because of Jesus Christ’s blood and resurrection, I have been washed clean, commissioned, and empowered to do His work on the earth. I will not be able to stop abortion. Rather, I am one of the many vessels which God will use to stop this evil through. Though I am unworthy, ill-equipped (in what I myself have to offer), and far too selfish to do anything, He will change my heart and equip me to be His hands and feet.

The Lord has called His warriors to battle, and my fellow Ellerslie brothers and sisters have begun to respond so beautifully. I am now extending this call to prayer and action to you as well. Let us follow the pattern set for us in the Word of God. May we be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”). May we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us. Oh sweet Jesus, come into our midst.

I heard a statistic the other day that shocked me. Planned Parenthood did a poll which revealed that 2 out of 3 women who get an abortion are born again Christians. Does anyone else see something wrong with that? We cannot believe the lie that these women do not know better, that they are simply lost in their sins and that they commit these atrocities because they are heathen rather than Christian. The enemy has spat in our Lord Jesus’ face. He has taken the young and innocent in Christ’s very Bride and has caused them to be adulteresses, seductresses, and murderers. What are we going to do to wipe the spit away from our Lord’s face?

Oh Jesus, I am powerless. But You are powerful. I am weak, but You are strong. I am nothing and You are everything. Be glorified in me.

On Saturday mornings, about 8 students have begun to drive to the Planned Parenthood in Fort Collins to visibly stand against the murder happening mere yards away from us. Though we could not march into the clinic and stop the vile acts physically, we have a weapon of warfare which is much more mighty. We stood on that sidewalk and we prayed against abortion, we prayed against the lies being spoken in this generation, and we prayed against the selfishness that has completely overtaken our country. God filled me with such a love for the young women and men who are overtaken by these lies and selfishness. Despite the darkness that surrounds us while there, light floods my heart and I cannot help but rejoice in who God is and what He is going to do.

Despite my sorrow and anger at what is going on in the church, there is so much hope within me. I know that the Lord will once again purify the church in America and call His people unto Himself. Just like slavery was abolished, so will abortion clinics throughout this entire nation be shut down. He has heard our prayers. He will answer. He will do this thing. He is good.

God is raising up mighty warriors in the body of Ellerslie to stand against abortion. It is not just the compassionate, tender-hearted women that have decided to stand against abortion, but the men of Ellerslie have also risen up and visibly made a stand to take down Planned Parenthood. The Lord Strong and Mighty has determined to fight against Planned Parenthood, and He has never lost a battle.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

“And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” (Isaiah 59:16)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Call to Prayer

It is always difficult to put into words what God is doing in us on the spiritual level. Perhaps that is why I have written so many of them (words, that is). Grab a cup of warm beverage and cozy up to read what God has done at Ellerslie.
I stepped onto the quiet campus one late-January afternoon to find the girls just gathering to pray outside and the boys just finishing up a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Classic. It was an exceptionally warm day, so everyone was basking in the sunlight. I found that there was a thirst, a desperation growing inside of me for God to move upon this campus. He had done so much here already, but it was time for the next level of surrender. Over the next week, I poured over my Bible, learning of what He says about our spiritual journey, followed by falling to my knees and asking God to do all that He promised in me and in Ellerslie as a body. I have never before been so hungry for His promises.
Monday morning found me settled in, waiting to hear what Eric would talk about in Ellerslie Global. A typical trademark of our weekly Ellerslie Global class is that Eric generally goes off on some random yet interesting tirade on whatever he happens to be thinking about at the moment. That Monday was not any different. He said that he was pondering the idea of us commissioning intercessors into the prayer closet just like we would commission a missionary to the mission field. He believed that there were two people in our midst who were called to prayer, and that every single one of us knew who those were. It was unanimous amongst the body. Nick Thompson and Thaysse Costa had been called by God to pray.
Two days later, Nik Ellison gave the morning devotion titled ‘ Stepping Stones.’ What a challenge it was to our souls to ask ourselves if we were willing to be unseen that Jesus Christ may be seen. We had all pondered this question before, but that morning it seemed to hit us at a deeper level. After worship, Nick Thompson came to the front to share something with us. At this point we were buckling our seatbelts and preparing our souls to be shaken by what he would say. Every time Nick shares something with the group, God has moved deeply in his life, and as a result, we too would be moved and challenged at deeper levels than we had previously imagined. God had called Nick to a season of prayer, a season of absolute givenness to the Lord’s agenda. He was pulling out of classes, and that afternoon he was going into his room and not coming back out until God had given him permission. I think what touched our hearts the most was that he was going into the prayer closet so that he could intercede for us as a body at Ellerslie and pray for what God was going to do in our midst. Eric had previously joked about Nick coming out of the prayer closet with a shining face like Moses had when he came down from the mount. Nick said he believed it would be the opposite, that he would come out of the prayer closet bloodied and bruised and that we would have the shining faces because of our encounters with God. What challenging words those were! And yet, it was difficult to contain the tears of joy I felt. I knew that this was just the beginning of God’s answer to my prayers.
The next several days seemed to go on as ‘normal’ as possible. Yet in the back of our minds we were all asking ourselves several questions. “What does God want to do in me?” “Am I willing to be unseen?” “What are His plans for Ellerslie?” “How can I further die to myself?” And in every occupied bedroom on the Ellerslie campus (and some bedrooms off-campus too), the inhabitants were on their knees in prayer and bent over the Word of God with fervor previously unknown to us. Excitement, desperation, longing, hope, and supreme bliss were all building inside.
Saturday night we prayed for preparation in all our hearts for the sermon the next morning. Eric and Ben refused to let us in on what the sermon would be about, but we knew that it would be extremely challenging, and, as always, we knew it would be good. Sunday morning finally rolled around and we were expectantly waiting in our chairs for the title of the message. “The Man Under the Stage.” It was about the men who would literally sit under the stage for great preachers during the revivals and pray for God to move in their midst. How fitting. Eric explained that God had given him the sermon Tuesday night (before Nick even shared what God was calling him to). Wednesday morning he began working on the sermon, and sometime later that day he met with Nick and found out that he was being called under the stage. It was Eric’s 21st spiritual birthday that day. Anyone who knows Eric Ludy knows exactly how significant that is. Eric loves numbers and dates, and he had always said that it takes 20 years to make a man. You can imagine his expectancy then for his 21st spiritual birthday. God did not disappoint. Sunday morning God issued forth a call to prayer through Eric Ludy like I had never heard before. I found my soul stirred up and longing to answer that call. But what does a call to prayer look like? I have no idea, except that it varies in every single person. Nick responded to the call, and Thaysse also. Does that mean that all of us here at Ellerslie should shut ourselves up in our bedrooms at least 22 hours out of every day? No, not necessarily. Let God give us the specifics.
After the sermon ended, Eric asked anyone who acutely felt that call to stay so that he could talk to us more specifically. He expected 20 people at most to stay, but there was at least twice that many. I was sitting there journaling, wondering how a commitment to prayer could fit with the other things I knew God was calling me to. Should I stay? Should I go? Somehow I found myself glued to my seat, and even if I had wanted to get up and leave, I don’t think I could have. God is building up a band of prayer warriors, of intercessors. Just like he built one at Rees Howell’s college, so was he now building one here at Ellerslie. He desires to do something great in us, but before we receive the power from on high, we must first be prepared.
One morning several days later Nick showed up at worship to share something with us. We found out from Nick that every single woman that we have on staff had been hit with some type of physical sickness in the last several days. Nick shared that when he first went into the prayer closet, the first thing that God pressed him to pray for was physical health on the campus. It seemed to be an insignificant matter to him, but he prayed anyways. Thaysse (also in the prayer closet at the time) was told by God to pray for the same thing. Neither of them knew of the health issues going on amongst the staff, nor did they talk to each other about what they were to pray for. Clearly God had an agenda.
Nick was standing in front of us that morning because the enemy was gathering the troops, preparing to strike hard. He spoke to the men of Ellerslie directly (with great love in his voice) and said that as the watchmen they were appointed to protect and intercede for the women here. The “cowardly, little enemy”, he stated, always used the same tactics and went after the women and children first, and that the men were responsible to protect them. Nick said that they were not yet prepared for that attack. He called them to rise up as men and told them to meet him at 5:30 that evening to pray and fast. What exactly happened in that room, I couldn’t tell you. I do know, however, that God has instilled within our Ellerslie men a valiance previously unleashed. Our God is good, and He is doing a beautiful work in shaping our humble Ellerslie boys into audacious warriors of might. He is calling the women here to be ‘ezers’ (‘helpers’) as God intended us to be, allowing the men to stand up and fight for us while we ourselves are being pressed deeper and deeper into the love of God, learning to fight the Lord’s battles as well, learning to love as He loves, and learning to be edifying to those around us.

As we pick up our tent stakes and keep walking this trek the Lord has laid before us, my question to you is...

Will you join us?

The Lord has called His people to prayer. Will you answer?

I know that God has placed each of you specifically right where He wants you. Know that everything that God is doing here at Ellerslie is something that He wants to do in you also. As Eric said just the other day, “The Spirit of God is blowing, will you put up your sails?”

More Ellerslie news coming soon!