A “Dare” of a Song: “I’ll Stand” by Hillsong

Last night I went to the Prophetic Team Dinner at my church, Bethel Church. There I saw lots of people I had not seen since returning from Iraq December 22. They merrily asked about my trip. They checkered their wonder with sweet encouragement, “Did you feel like you were walking in your destiny?” “Did it confirm that is where your heart is?” “I’m so excited for you!” and I shared snippets of stories and smiles and breakthrough. It was hard. It was hard because I don’t know when I will be back in Iraq. There are a number of things in a state of “wait and see.” Moreover, as one might imagine, a semi-move to a war zone is not straightforward. So, I wait. I look for purpose in this time. And there is purpose. There is always purpose.

Yet, it’s been a really rough month since returning. The wait to return to Iraq has not been the worst of it actually, the worst of it has been the financial drought. I have felt disillusioned, frustrated, discouraged, and sad.  With these responses I have the opportunity to step back and realize emotions like this are not truth and they usually come from lies I am believing. (For example, “God doesn’t care about me enough to put this in order” or “I’ve spent 16 years praying and dreaming and ‘for what?'” or “God is not being faithful to me right now.”) I have to keep coming back to the truth of Who I know God to be, despite the way things “look.” I have to worship Him when I don’t feel like it. I have to dare to find purpose and vision in this season of my life despite the flickers of bitterness in my soul.

Mind you, there is a lot happening: I published two ebooks, I wrote an article for restorationliving.com, I’m writing three more articles for websites, I’m nearly done with writing my first print book, and I’m chatting with a publisher about that. I’ve also had opportunities to speak to people about my trip and to ignite hope for their own dreams to be fulfilled. On top of that, there are some other things brewing right now which are absolutely on my list of “Life Dreams” and I will do internal cartwheels when those things happen. My flatmates and friends are great at helping me see the GOOD things being accomplished. They remind me. Over and over again friends remind me. I’m so thankful. I’ve historically been fiercely independent, but what I have learned about healthy interdependence and the power of unity in the Body of Christ over the past few months has transformed my core.

All to say, when my friend James led worship last night and sang, “I’ll  Stand” it felt like a rebellion against apathy and self-pity, and it made me resolve, yet again, to stay close to my Beloved Jesus no matter what – including when I don’t understand His ways and I am fighting resentment. As I sang, the tears in my eyes were from the pain of choosing intimacy despite my want to “protect” myself from getting “hurt.” I know God doesn’t mean to hurt me, but it’s easier to accuse Him than to really transform my mind (at least it appears easier). So, there’s the truth: I am the one responsible for transforming my mind – thinking renewed thoughts. (Romans 12:2) God wants to help me with this, but I need to want it to happen. I need to get over my deadly blend of fear and control; and let love rule.

As my pastor Bill Johnson says, “If you want peace that passes understanding, you have to give up your right to understand.”

On that note,

“I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all”

“I’ll stand my soul, Lord, to you surrendered. All I am is Yours!”

Will you?

 

 

Inside the American Embassy in Iraq

When I was in Baghdad in November I spent many hours inside the American Embassy, including Thanksgiving dinner in the Dining Facilities. Here’s a slideshow of the embassy for a better perspective:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/02/07/world/middleeast/20120208-BAGHDAD.html

The US Embassy in Baghdad from above

Vicar of Baghdad Interview

Canon Andrew White is the man I went to Baghdad, Iraq with for three weeks in November. These videos give great insight into my journey as well as life in Baghdad. I’m expectant to return to Baghdad this year to work with Andrew. There is beauty stirring and spouting and shouting and churning and living and believing from beneath the rubble of Baghdad. Hope is alive.

Pretty Baghdad

“Pretty” and “Baghdad” aren’t often paired together, despite the truth that Baghdad is very pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder. God is the Ultimate Beholder. How He sees cities is how they really are. God sees potential in cities. He sees giftings. He sees dreams and destinies, hopes and visions. He wants cities to shine.

I like this illustration of Baghdad because it is very pretty.

I hope it helps people re-see that precious city and its precious people.

Making the Impossible Possible – TEDx Baghdad

While I was in Baghdad, Iraq in November 2011 there was a conference called, “Making the Impossible Possible.” I was given an invitation to attend, but our schedule did not permit. Regardless, the event was a milestone of HOPE for precious Iraq. There will be another TEDx event in Baghdad in 2012. I would LOVE to attend.

In the meantime, I think their videos and related videos provide a great view into the GOOD happening in Iraq. Please do not let your hearts be overwhelmed by what you hear in the news about Iraq. Dare to have outrageous HOPE for Iraq. Direct your thoughts and prayers toward optimistic growth in Iraq. The people of Iraq need your advocacy, not that you would write them off as hopeless, but rather champion them as HOPE-ful despite the look of things.

There is always hope.

 

 

 

Great Memories from TEDx Baghdad 2011

ICARE’s video for TEDx Baghdad 2011

Baghdad . . . the city of peace

The Virtual Museum of Iraq

The TEDx Baghdad website

MY GUEST REVIEW on davisbunn.com

I recently wrote a guest review for the book “Lion of Babylon” on the author’s website. I would love it if you read the review and posted comments on that website. Let’s use this as an opportunity to raise outrageous hope for Iraq! Spread the word! Read the book! Get friends and family to read the book! Believe for Iraq’s flourishing!

 

Read the review: http://www.davisbunn.com/blog/lion-of-babylon-is-a-light-bulb-of-hopeful-reality-says-reviewer