In looking back at the past year, I am amazed at how much can happen here at the International House of Prayer over a 365-day span.
For example, in looking over a year’s worth of Sunday sermons from Forerunner Christian Fellowship…
(FCF is our church that serves: Kansas City – people looking for a good church, the IHOP community – people who moved here because they love the message and community of believers that have gathered here, and the Missions Base – people who thought it would be a good idea to call themselves an “Intercessory Missionary”, raise support, and lead the Prayer Room)
…I found that it was fascinating to just look at the messages that were imparted to our community.
2005 seemed to be the year in which we as an IHOP-KC family were connected dynamically to the Sermon on the Mount in general and to the value of meekness in particular – especially related to the reward that Jesus longs to give those who are willing to contend in love for unity with His heart.
2006 seemed to be, in the general sense, a reconnection of our spiritual family to our core values (or “heart standards”), which can be summed up in the acronym “I.H.O.P.”; or –
1. Intercession – night and day prayer in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David. I realize that this one would seem to be tragically obvious to the outsider looking in, as in, “Really Sliker? You mean the International House of Prayer is called to…prayer?” It is, however, unbelievably hard to cultivate a heart of true compassion by which one would sacrificially pray for other people (many of whom they have never met) night and day. Most of the time when I pray, I’m praying that God would make me less of a mess. It takes work to fill my day with 30-second prayers that flow from a heart of genuine concern for my fellow man, the vast majority of whom could care less if I ceased to exist. To be successful at “#1”, you have to actually encounter God on a regular basis. And you can’t fake it – not for five to ten years, at least.
2. Holiness – specifically holiness of heart, or a wholehearted, joyful obedience to God in every area of our lives. One of our worship leaders, Luke Wood, sang this phrase at last night’s 8 PM prayer meeting: “give them a revelation that holiness is wholehearted love.” To be fully set apart for His purposes is my desire, though at the moment there is much mixture in the way that I think, feel, and act. I want a fully renewed mind that processes rightly, approves what is excellent (Phil. 1:9-11), and loves righteousness. This is an ongoing process by which we must contend for obedience in every area even before He transforms our desires.
3. Offerings - or extravagant giving to the Lord, specifically to the poor of the earth. It is a form of fasting to give extravagantly. This speaks not just about our tithing and giving, but also more to a lifestyle of generosity and offerings to God that make a sweet-smelling aroma to God. To be free handed and open-hearted with our finances as the people of God is what the whole Body of Christ is called to – to fully trust the leadership of the Head, Jesus, with our provision and our need with no worries and no ownership or spirit of “entitlement” or covetousness. So much of our lives are spent in self-preservation, fighting to gain and struggling not to lose what we have struggled for. The Apostle James pierced to the heart of our human nature in James 4:1-6. Humility is more than a self-effacing, self-deprecating kind of teachability. It is a commitment to be fully God’s and to be fully led by God in trust and confidence in His ways.
4. Prophetic – contending for the fullness of God. What does this mean? To me it means that if we want Christianity as it expressed the way it was meant to be on the earth (with supernatural power, or signs and wonders, glorifying the Son to the peoples of the earth that they might rejoice with trembling – Ps. 2:11 – and repent and be saved) than we must be who we were meant to be as Christians. We need grace and help to become authentic ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, representatives that demonstrate what His kingdom is like in the fullest we have the grace to walk out during this age. How far can we go? How much of the life of God can we have? What does it mean to be “filled with the fullness of God?” (Eph. 3:19) I want to find out.
The essence of the IHOP-KC message is Romans 14:17: “…for the kingdom of God is not eating or drinking (material possessions and cares of this life), but righteousness (the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle prescribed by Jesus in Matt. 5-7) and peace (stability and confident trust in the leadership of the Lord through end-time judgments – 2 Pet. 3:14) and joy (intimacy with Jesus, who enjoys us in the journey as we grow into a tender heart of love) in the Holy Spirit (the walking out of these areas with the Holy Spirit in power and grace alive in the inner man and expressed amongst one another within the whole Body of Christ).
The IHOP-KC family began to become awakened to our need for more understanding of these components as 2005 came to a close. Then the year started at the end of January with a reminder of the need to contend for the fullness of life in the Spirit. Not long after this, we revisited the “Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit” messages regarding a life in prayer that cultivates an internal place to commune with the Holy Spirit. The critical components being, of course, feeding our spirit on God’s Word and pursuing a life of holiness and obedience that does not grieve the Spirit we are trying to engage in relationship (fellowship) with.
The highlight of the year, of course (which I am sure will go down in our history as a monumental turning point) was the seven-year anniversary celebration. For three days, a prayer and fasting community feasted – we laughed, played, remembered, and celebrated the goodness of God. We cried together as we saw old friends, in person or on video. I got a little teary-eyed when I saw my dear friends at the Zadok House of Prayer, Isaac and Morgan Bennett. The Sunday morning service just felt…well, big. It felt momentous. From the folks that addressed the family in the video presentation to the sweet memories of the early days (brilliant job, Jono Hall and family…) to what Mike shared: “A Worldwide Youth Movement: Prophetic and Intercession”. That Sunday you just felt like something had shifted. Of course, we would find out a couple of months later that something had indeed, in fact, shifted. A corner was turned at the seven-year mark, and things will never be the same at our little house of prayer.
Yes, something else monumental (and orchestrated by the Lord) was coming to IHOP-KC in the month of November – television ministry. For more on the ramifications, and a little of the story of what’s been happening here over the past few months, you’ll have to wait until after the New Year. It’s that time of the year for us, in which we look to weather many of our staff visiting family around the nation over Christmas, most of whom will return on the 26th / 27th to prepare for our next major undertaking: our annual Onething young adult conference, and 13 – 15,000 people descending on Kansas City for four days of worship and messages geared to call them to prayer, fasting, and preparation for the end of the age. Every hotel is booked and all in our little family are preparing to receive the many who will come hungry and thirsty to encounter the God-Man. This Man is surely anticipating their arrival even more than they could ever know. Many will be different afterwards, forever.
This New Year’s Eve, I’ll be at a prayer meeting with 10,000+ young adults. I’ll be thinking of you, as we wait in anticipation together to see what Jesus has in store for all of us in 2007.
Have a great Christmas – and as you do, think about this: at 10 PM tomorrow night, singers, musicians, and intercessors will be in the prayer room here; together, they will be crying out for revival in America. At 6 AM the next morning, another worship team will file onto the platform, taking the “baton” from the Nightwatch. For many (like my family), Christmas morning will have to be scheduled around a Sacred Trust, as we take our place on a wall of intercession that we have committed to uphold before the Lord until He returns. At no time is our 24-hour prayer and worship reality more stunning to me than Christmas. While the rest of the world (except for Chinese restaurants) grinds to a halt, here the fire on the altar of prayer will not go out (Lev. 6:13).
8 comments December 23rd, 2006