Tuesday, January 30

[Extra]Ordinary Stairs

I have a great deal to report, especially after a weekend of 24-7 prayer with the teens/pre-teens at my church. Tomorrow I will try to post some pictures from our wild little adolescent prayer room. But for now I'd like to turn to Zechariah, and to a vivid dream I had yesterday about stairs, worship, and community.

I've been itching to study the minor prophets for the last few years. They seem so underrated and mysterious and glossed over. (Those are my favorite kinds of anything, incidentally.) Well, I'm finally at a season in my life where I can sit down with a few commentaries and really study these minor keys. I'm starting with Zech.

Zechariah had 8 profound visions in one night. Taken as one, they all concerned the role of Jerusalem before the Messiah would reign forever and make all things new. The prophetic words greatly encouraged Israel at the time, because they'd recently returned from captivity, and were desperate for God's blessing once again. But Zechariah's words weren't fulfilled in his time. They spoke of a time to come.

All of this study about visions and dreams has me thinking about loads of things. But today, for one, I can't get out of my mind a dream I had yesterday. I was resting in the afternoon, after a nice drive back from Baltimore and lunching with Wanda and Renee. I fell into quite a deep sleep for just taking a nap, and I dreamt of stairs.

I was with two younger women, climbing ordinary-looking, unfinished wooden stairs that seemed to go miles high. As we started walking together up the stairs, I said, "These stairs will take us deeper into God's presence. I won't let you fall behind me." The young women nodded, and we climbed.

As we neared the top, the two panicked. They remembered another young woman was far below, still on the ground. She'd never started climbing. They looked at each other, and then at me, and shouted frantically:

"Vicky! We have to go back down to get Vicky. She needs us to help her up these stairs."

And so they made the long journey down, and helped Vicky begin making the climb up the wooden stairs. She was visibly reluctant, at first. But they managed the way upwards through their persistence as they walked alongside of her.

Now, I'm no Zech, and no, I haven't been listening to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." But I do think there is loads in that dream that speaks of our profound need for each other, and of our deepest need to "come up higher" into God's presence.
There is much to be said about worship in the dream.
The stairs were so ordinary! They were unfinished and rough, but sturdy. There were no hand-rails! How risky the way up really was. I only knew that I was safe climbing upward with a few others beside me.

Friday, January 26

Soy Scum Meditations

I like hot soy milk. With cinnamon and nutmeg, please. I call it "Christmas in a Cup." Tonight I put the soy milk on the stove, and then forgot about it. I came back to soy scum. Lots of it. As I cleaned out the pan and made shriveled-faces at it, I laughed to myself, "There must be a deep spiritual metaphor here in this soy scum."

I'm not sure there is a deep metaphor. (If you find one, throw it at me.) But I am sure of this: I tend to put pans on the oven and then forget about them. I start things and then forget about them. I adore new projects. I go crazy with them. My creative juice gets splattered around everywhere. This is oftentimes my pattern:

1. Think of a wild new project to work on...start it with engines running...even if I stay up all night.
2. Forget to finish the project
or (worse)
2.5 I get bored with it.
3. So, hooray! I find a new project altogether!
4. Wash, Rinse, Repeat step #1.

I often have to guilt myself into finishing things, unless I have some hard-pressed deadline given to me from someone with quasi-authority.

Alas. I sip my seltzer water and wonder how to become a woman of more follow-through.

Thursday, January 25

10 Books for 2007

I'm little disappointed with myself that I still haven't finished part deux of that Militancy of Worship post. But in the meantime, I'd like to celebrate two things with you.

One. Twenty-four days into 2007, and I've still consumed zero drops of high-test coffee! I think my body is less mad at me now. In 2006 the caffeine tanks in my inner being were really beginning to freak out. Honestly, the fact that I blogged about going decaf made me feel even more accountable to really following through. So, thank you! Lurkers and non, one and all!

Dos. Onething that I took away from "Onething" in Kansas City is this: I need a personal strategy to know God's words. To really know them, in context, and in depth. So, I've taken Mike Bickle's advice (Dr. Bobby Clinton's, too), and I've picked 10 books that I want to focus on studying this year. I'll fetch 2 commentaries to read alongside the books. I'm usually very anti-systematic when it comes to reading the Scriptures. But I'm celebrating this new plan, because I think it'll help me stay focused on the things I really want to study in 2007: Jesus, David, and the (intense) End-Times Visions.

Here are my 10.

Now that I know that blogging works as decent accountability, I'll try to check in from time to time with what I'm learning. I've divided the books up into months, so that I know when I'll study what. I'm starting out in Zechariah. The commentaries I'm using for ol' Z. (Thomas Constable, Merrill Unger) really are quite helpful.

Inquiring (Nelly) minds want to know:
(1) If you read the Bible, what are you reading lately?
(2) Have you ever used/developed a personal study plan that's been helpful?

Tuesday, January 23

Apocalyptic Stress Bag

I have been such a stress-bag the past week. Granted, an all-night lock-in with high schoolers meant that I worked more than double the amount of hours than usual, but still. I think it's my inner-self that's been stressed, not so much because of over-work, but because I've been talking about Jesus more than I've been talking to him. I make things more complicated than they really are. And thus, I haven't been able to blog because I've been a big bag of stress.

So I took this quick personality test and it called me a rogue apolcalyptic wanderer. Go team.

If you take the test, tell me what movie you are.

Monday, January 15

Lurking Remixed

I know I am greatly digressing from more Militant subjects, but I'd like to turn the record around on the subject of lurking. My last post caused a scuffle of a few emails my way, with a few folk saying, "Hello! I'm not a lurker, but..." as if lurking is a bad-word. And then sweet Lisa reminded me that to lurk does not make one a jerk! And then my dear Mama said, "You have lurkers?!! Oh, Jenelle, that doesn't sound very good. Can they find out where you live??"

I want to scratch the record and mix it up a little, dj-style. I think we've accidentally equated this new techno-word, "lurker" with the old school idea of a "peeping tom." Oh! But it isn't so, ladies and gents! And if you're a lurker, I still like you! Lurk away! I'd say that most of the time:

A lurker is good natured!
A lurker is well-read!
A lurker keeps their comments
Safe snug in their head.
Or else they comment
To their dear sweet Mom,
Who might say a lurker
Is a net Peeping Tom.

(Peeper image from the movie Peeping Tom)

Thursday, January 11

Lurkers of the World, Unite!

Word on the street (thanks, John!) is that this is "National De-Lurking Week." Wikipedia calls a "lurker" one in internet culture who visits interactive systems, but rarely joins in. Is that you? Well, welcome! I'm sure you have a nice reason for not saying "hello" back. If you've been stopping by my blog, but rarely add your two cents, here's your chance to introduce yourself.

As a side-note, one of my 2007 resolutes is to leave my posts more open for discussion. And not so, "thus saith Jenelle." I'm a work in progress.

If you have the time, tell me your name. And if you're really feeling buff, let me know for how long you've been reading, and what you're interested in reading more about. Grazie. Obrigada. Thanks.

Here Froggy, Froggy

We interrupt this conversation on spiritual warfare to report that the Nelly is still sick. But she will post Part 2 of "The Militancy of Worship" soon. Perhaps you could pray for her germs to fly, fly away.

As my five-year old cousin, Annabelle, would say, "There's a frog in my throat."

Wednesday, January 10

The Militancy of Worship - Part 1

"Spiritual Warfare" has brought with it a great many tags and bags in our day. For most, Hollywood has dictated our viewpoint of the "war" through cinematic exorcisms and demonic games played through pitiful plot lines. The Scriptures speak of a vastly deeper scene: the kingdom of light at war with the kingdom of darkness. And this is a war for all mankind to participate in, knowingly or unknowingly.

Even a casual reader of the gospels would admit that dealing with demons was as central to Jesus' ministry as healing the sick. And yet, his methodology in dealing with the kingdom of darkness seems too simplified for us. Quite simply, Christ spoke, and demons listened. He spoke with otherworldly authority because the posture of Jesus' heart was poised militantly towards his Father's heart.

In this lengthier-than-normal post, I will not highlight all the various manifestations or methods that Christians have used in spiritual warfare. Although I have had many experiences with demons--particularly at night--I don't intend to speak of them here. Instead, I'm interested in highlighting worship as the most militant aspect of spiritual warfare, whether we stand for Christ and his kingdom, or we stand for ourselves.

Christians tend to speak as if worship is something branded by them. Much to the contrary, worship is not limited to the Christian who sits in the Sunday pews. Worship is a condition and posture of the heart. We worship that which we give the greatest attention and allegiance of our hearts. Many would look at the landscape of American Christianity and wonder if we have our attention fixated first on our own comfort and safety, rather than on the rebel Jesus of Nazareth. (But that's a post for another day.)

I would argue that who or what we worship is the only important methodology in spiritual warfare. Indeed, the attention of our hearts is the most significant act of militancy for either one kingdom, or the other. God will not override our wills. The free-response of our will is the most potent thing we have in this life. What we choose to focus our hearts on is a violent act in both the natural and supernatural realm.

King David of Israel is known as being a warrior, poet, and shepherd-boy. I see him as a militant worshiper. Before David ever picked up his sling and faced Goliath, he was militant. And before David ever picked up the harp, he was a worshiper.

1 Samuel 13 records that David was a man after God's own heart. David's will and attention was defiantly positioned towards God. In chapter 16, the Spirit of the Lord is said to "come upon David," as Samuel anoints him as the future king of Israel. Shortly thereafter, young David is called upon by the present-king Saul to, simply, play his harp near, that the music would bring relief to the spiritually tormented Saul. Indeed, the sounds from David's Spirit-anointed fingers drove away the spirit that tormented the evil king.

In the following chapter, we find the young shepherd boy reaching for a few stones and a sling to defeat the Goliath monster. David defeated Goliath, not because he was a great warrior, but because his worship was militant. Like Moses in Exodus 14:14, David knew the great secret: "The battle is the Lord's." And his heart was violently poised towards his Lord.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in spiritual warfare is 1 Samuel 15:22-23, when Samuel rebukes Saul for his negligent obedience to the Lord, though Saul had done a great many "worshipful actions." To Saul, he'd sung the songs all right:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

Witchcraft? Idolatry? I thought those were things relegated to the neo-pagans! Here we see, most pointedly, the militancy of obedience, and the militancy of disobedience. For Saul, it cost him the kingdom. For us, perhaps it is no different. The allegience of our hearts empowers one kingdom or the other, in militant worship.

I will continue on in this subject in Part II - Worship in Song as the 2nd Most Potentially Militant Expression.

Check out all the many-varied and excellent thoughts on Spiritual Warfare in this Synchro Blog #2:
Phil Wyman - Pagans, Witches, and Spiritual Warfare
John Smulo - Portraits of Spiritual Warfare
Mike Crockett - Sufism: How the
Inner Jihad relates to Christian Spiritual Warfare

Steve Hayes - Thoughts on Spiritual Warfare
Marieke Schwartz - Grace in War
Cindy Harvey - Spiritual Warfare
Mike Bursell - Spiritual Warfare: a liberal looking inwards
David Fisher - Spiritual
Warfare: Does it have to be loud and wacky?

Brian Heasley - Something from Ibiza via Ireland
Webb Kline - Webb Kline's Blog
Sally Coleman - Sally Coleman's Blog
Mike Murrow - Mike Murrow's Blog

(Thanks to Wikipedia for Mel's Militant pose.)

Tuesday, January 9

Synchronize the Blog-Swatches

Tomorrow I'll be participating in Pastor Phil's 2nd wild "Synchro Blog." (Definition: A group of folks who blog on one topic on the same day.) Tomorrow, a little over a dozen of us will be writing on some aspect of "Spiritual Warfare." You'll be able to read my thoughts, as well as the links to all the other mondo-bloggers participating. I think I'm one of the youngest chaps throwing in her two (euro) cents, so I'm very honored to be a part of the fun.

(Sweet Swatch image from Shiny Shiny's Blog: A Girl's Guide to Gadgets)

Saturday, January 6

Most Vivid Dreams - Part 2

I am a little sick and have been sleeping a lot. More sleep makes for more dreams, I say. In this second edition of my dream recollections you'll find Bingo, structure, golf, and my not knowing how to do things appropriately. Again, any interpretations welcome! (You can find Part 1 here: Most Vivid Dreams.)

I walked into a packed classroom with long rows of about 10 desks and 6 rows deep. There were only women in the classroom. The atmosphere was so serious. The teacher was a man, but a young one. He went around and policed everyone to make sure we each had our school supplies. Strangely, though, the only supplies that mattered consisted of a horrendously large Bingo card (I'm talking 30 x 30 instead of 5 x 5), and some sort of Bingo markers. It was cooler to have one of those Bingo-inkers, rather than just little pieces of circular plastic.

I was in the front row. I remembered that Elise was in the middle rows behind me. Teacher-boy started calling out numbers, but I could never hear him, so I had to ask the girl next to me. I thought I was doing pretty good and had some long horizontal lines filled up, but then realized that I didn't know the rules. Which horizontal lines counted for Bingo? And do I yell Bingo? And why were we playing? Everyone was so serious in the room.

Then teacher-boy loosened up and started playing his guitar. He was trying to play some new song and was stuck on which chord came next. So he singled me out and asked me how to play a B-14th. I had no idea (it sounds like a Vitamin, not a guitar chord), but I immediately pointed to Elise and said, "She knows, I'm sure. Ask her."

Then he jaunts out of the classroom and starts singing. It didn't sound bad. Good, actually. He was singing a song I couldn't place. Ray LaMontagne? Phil Wickham? Elise and I looked at each other for a second because he sounded surprisingly good. She rolled her eyes at me, though, when I said he was singing Ray or Phil, because I was way off. And so we left the room to hear him sing.

Shortly after we entered the new classroom where teacher-boy was jamming out, the room stretched and tons more women showed up. They were all professional cheerleaders and dancers. They were doing all sorts of choreographed stuff. I was just watching from a distance.

Then I was in a kitchen in Maryland, holding lots of my bank receipts. They were receipts from my old account in Portugal, but they were written in English. (Strange.) They alerted me to the fact that I only had 20 Euros left in my account. And my Mom was telling me I had to put gas in the car.

Then a group of boys from The Burn (the youth group I lead) were doing skits a'la an after school special. They were very well written and almost like a sitcom. I kept wondering who wrote the skits. The one boy's character hated the spice, cumin, and anything that called for cumin. (Chili, for example.)

All of a sudden I was on a golf course in Europe. It was really dark, though, and it seemed like I was playing night-golf. My Dad and brother were there, too. An Italian guy who owned the golf course was trying to help me out by getting me connected with other course-owners. He had to take me on this gigantic outdoor elevator to bring me there, though, and I didn't know how to operate it. There were loads of people on it, too. Because I didn't know how to operate it I fell off of it and died.

Wednesday, January 3

Higher Grounds

I'm back in Smalltown, MD after my trip to Onething, and I'm taking fizzy Airborne tablets to fight the oncoming symptoms of flu-gunk. (The teacher-invented fizz of Echinacea and C tastes surprisingly nice.) And then I get this friendly email from Amazon telling me how I should get Len Sweet's new book, The Gospel According to Starbucks, and I wonder if Big Brother is watching me. I was planning on blogging on coffee and God today, after all.

Sound the alarms. The Nelly is going Decaf in 2007. She has become hopelessly addicted to high-test coffee, and it's gone on for far too long. What was it that God said to Cain in early Genesis? "Caffeine is creeping at your door, it desires to have you...But you must master it!"

In other news, I've learned from more grandfatherly, hipster, and experienced bloggers that it's fashionable to do a year-end blog rewind, thus noting their top 5 most popular posts of the year. Well, being that I've really only been blogging faithfully since September 2006, I'll only note the one post that stole the most conversation in my first months in the blogosphere.

(Experimentally-Rocked-Drum-Roll, Please)

My #1 Most Popular Post of 2006:
Help Wanted - A simple poll asking you, the people, to help me pick a part-time job. 46% of you voted that I work as a Starbucks Barista. And then all hell broke loose. Which then brought on the following post: Would Jesus Drink at Starbucks?

I must say, if I weren't already knee-deep in reading for two fresh new Fuller classes, I'd probably grab this interesting new book by the pomo legend, Leonard Sweet. But for now, I'm sticking with Decaf Joe and The Shaping of Things to Come.

Tuesday, January 2

Like Children

[Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18 (NIV)

(Little Nelly celebrating after playing golf with Daddy. Circa 1983.)

Monday, January 1

Best of Onething

In brief, here are my top 6 moments from Onething 2006 at the International House of Prayer.

1. In the prayer room, watching a group of young adults pray for a girl with CP. And then rejoicing and crying as the crippled girl threw down her crutches and ran around for perhaps the first time in her life!
2. Night one when Mike Bickle started weeping in the middle of his message on Christ's love for us. He then interrupted his message to have the whole arena lay hands and pray for one another to receive a deeper revelation of His love.
3. Shelley Hundley's seminar message on "standing in the counsel of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:18-22) and the supernatural encounter she had with Jesus back in 1999.
4. Having a messianic Jewish man named Evan sing over us (in Hebrew!) the priestly blessing in Numbers 6, and then lead us in intercession for Israel.
5. Sharing a room with a radical 16 year old named Brittany. She'd flown out to KC from California all by herself to join with her generation in fasting and prayer.
6. Being in the prayer room in between sessions and having a stranger touch my shoulder and say to me, simply and prophetically, "Freedom!" Freedom is the word that I believe will mark my 2007. Have you asked God to give you a word for 2007?