Strength is Often a Who

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Jennifer and I had our final night of ministry here in Switzerland last night. I walked into it knowing my body was failing, and I’d have no voice by the end, so I asked Jenny to be prepared.

The band played amazingly well, and this was the most I’ve seen the Swiss dance yet! But sure enough, my fever, cough, and soar throat took their toll, so by the time I finished our 1.5-hour set, I could barely speak. I managed to squeak out a few lines for the expected message, and then passed the mic to Jennifer.

What followed was about 20-minutes of profound encouragement on the pursuit of intimacy with God and being more concerned with his heart than the condition of our own. You had to be dead not to be moved.

Like Paul, I’m slowly learning:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Cor. 12:10]

Sometimes the strength we’re looking for is the gift found in other people afforded only when we step aside.

Continued prayers are greatly appreciated as we fly for Madrid, Spain this morning. This is the first trip in years that Jennifer is at 100%, and Levi is rocking Europe like a champ. I, however, am far from being on top of my game.

Thanks for all your encouragement and prayer. You are the best readers ever. ch:

Resisting Squishy Pot Syndrome

by Jennifer Hopper

[PHOTOS BY: JENNIFER HOPPER]

No, I’m not about to reveal the secrets of curing soggy marijuana leaves. (Hippies).

This week I had the joy of speaking for a YWAM School of Worship in Yverdon. Pictured here with my dear friend and translator Sylvain Freymond (also one of Switzerland’s most beloved worship leaders and songwriters), I shared on accessing God’s heart of creativity and principles of group leadership. Teaching in this format – a pair of two-hour classes each day – is something I look forward to, and something I’ve become good at.

But I wasn’t always good at it.

Ten years ago I was asked to teach eight-hours a day for five days straight in northern France. I was scared. Mortified would be a better word. I compiled the notes of every sermon I’d ever preached and scribbled countless reminders of sermons I’d heard preached growing up. I thought for sure that I’d share everything I’d ever learned in first two-hour block.

Back then I was a nervous wreck. Today I’m thrilled for the opportunity.

That’s because some of the greatest joys in my life have only recently been discovered.

That may not seem like a very meaningful statement, but given the fact that our culture largely broadcasts what you should be enjoying right now, waiting for things is hardly status quo, nor is the process of building long-term expectation.

Have sex now. Make lots of money now. Be popular now. Get what you want now. Don’t wait. And if you do wait, you’re missing out on everything. 

But acting prematurely has some serious side-affects.

A pot that decides it should be filled with water before it’s fired in a kiln becomes a pile of watery clay by the end of the day. No matter how ready it thinks it is, the potter knows the vessel is simply incapable of fulfilling its purpose without engaging in the process of development.

Sure, I should have been happy with the opportunity to preach for a week ten years ago – and to a certain extent I was – but it wasn’t enjoyable. I needed time, coaching, and experience before I was truly ready to look at the invitation and discover the joy of doing it.

Becoming a husband and father has been much the same process. Oh, how I argued with God countless times, telling him I was ready for marriage, pleading (and pushing) for my spouse to be revealed. But he knew the vessel needed to be fired. And to a certain extent, I’m still being fired.

God is never late and he’s rarely early. He knows what he’s doing, and he will not be held hostage by pop culture or our adolescent demands.

Just remember that some of the greatest, most enjoyable moments in your life have yet to arrive. Recognizing the process is just as much a part of the arrival helps steady our impatience and temper the steel of our expectations.

Plus, being a squishy heap of soggy clay is downright embarrassing. Get fired and be useful long-term. ch:

Amongst the Mountain People

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Traveling through Switzerland is quite an experience. Essentially, everywhere you go you’re surrounded by mountains. It’s spectacular.

To make it even more scenic, ancient ruins summit countless peaks and centuries old villages cling precariously to the sides of mountains – some reachable only by geared train cars.

It takes a certain type of person of a peculiar moral fortitude to live here. It’s not for the faint of heart. But the reward is constant breathtaking beauty, a kind of violent majesty. Up here, being cold is a way of life, and surviving amongst the hills requires discipline, determination, and the absence of a complaining nature.

But it’s these kinds of people that I love being around, and I find them not only here in Switzerland, but anywhere that people are willing to pay a price for the Gospel. They each have a story to share, a testimony to impart. They are the conquerors, the victorious, the noble.

I was sitting with Jennifer in the church cafe after teaching all day when one of the students asked me if I’d like to hear her testimony. I’ll admit, I was in the midst of catching up on some work and really didn’t want to be bothered. But I’m trying to be better about not seeing people as interruptions, but as the ministry itself.

Meet Regine. She was trained to be a medium at age 14, studying white magic and skilled in necromancy, séances, and ouija. While she was taught that white magic helped people, she always knew something was wrong.

Finally at age 30 she bumped into a strange man in a night club – strange because he was one of the only people she had ever met that she could not read his thoughts. The idea that he was a more powerful medium than she was seemed out of the question, so followed him only to ask him what was his secret.

“He started to laugh and laugh and laugh,” Regine said. “When he finally told me that he was a Christian, I was the one laughing. ‘How stupid,’ I thought. ‘People that believed in Jesus, how stupid.’”

But her inability to read his thoughts continued to plague her. So the Christian gave her his phone number and offered to speak more with her.

“He even gave me a Bible,” she explained to me. “But I found it impossible to read. It was in a completely different language to my eyes.”

Eventually the Christian invited her to a special event at his church – three nights of meetings with a guest minister.

“The first night I arrived, but couldn’t even go inside the church. There was a presence in there that was foreign to me. So I ran,” Regine said. “When the Christian called me to ask how the meeting was, I explained there was no place to sit so I had to go home. So he insisted that I try the second night.”

Regine went, but only got halfway down the isle before running out of the church.

Once again the Christian man called and asked how the meeting was; Regine explained she left early.

“He told me I must try again the third night. So I went, still curious where this man’s power to resist my magic was coming from.”

On the third night, Regine found a seat near the back.

“The guest minister, Ray Brooks, walked in and looked right at me with the big smile on his face.”

Little did Regine know, but sitting all around her were some of the most well-known names in francophone Christian ministry, including my friend Jean-Marc Bigler and his wife.

It was a total set up.

Eventually the guest minister asked people to come forward for prayer. Regine decided to go, but was determined not to close her eyes as the minister had asked: she wanted to confront this power head-on.

That’s when Ray laid hands on her to pray for her.

“Suddenly I felt this incredible love wash over me,” she explained. “I remember seeing my shoes, then everything went white. I have no memories of what happened next, but they said chairs went flying as I started to roll across the floor. I was talking with a different voice and my face was disfigured. I only remember waking up pinned to the floor and seeing Jean-Marc’s face with this big smile hovering over me saying, ‘Welcome to the family.’ It was the greatest moment of my life. I was free.”

Today Regine emanates the love of the Father in a way I can hardly describe. Because she knows just how destructive the power of the enemy is, she has a strong ministry reaching those involved in the occult and witchcraft, sharing the all-powerful love of Jesus with them and declaring the victory that Believers have in Jesus.

I asked if I could share her story on my blog with you and she wholeheartedly consented. “Please tell them, tell them all,” she said. “God is so good – beyond good. The enemy only desires to kill you, and manipulate people through until they’re dead. But Jesus only gives life.”

I love living among the mountain people, among those who weather the attacks of the enemy and live to see great victories.

Regardless of your physical geography, I encourage you to live amongst the mountain conquerors: the view is well worth the price. So is the company. ch:

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Swiss Wednesday Update

It’s been a very full 48 hours here in Yverdon. And nothing could feel better than being “used” for the Kingdom, especially when you’re away from the ones you love. “Down time” is often your biggest enemy while abroad, and I’ve had none of it this trip!

Yesterday’s 3 hour morning class focused on allowing our spirit’s heavenly position (Ephesians 2) to provide us with not only a divine perspective on life, but with Biblical goals. The workshop in the afternoon then centered on collaborative songwriting, a discipline which I know stretched them linguistically and musically as there are 5 different nations represented among them. They’ll be presenting their songs Thursday night in a large church gathering (so they’re all a little freaked out).

Today I taught on “being glorious,” one of my very favorite life-messages, based largely on some of Bill Johnson’s teachings. The presence of the Lord was very strong as I encouraged them to live passionately for God and pursue his purposes for their lives. Those familiar with the regimes of Communism and Socialism–two movements that have had a spiritual grip in the Church as well–felt the freedom to step up and out of a system which has largely kept them bound to “the common,” and resists the individual call.

Then finally this afternoon the students and I held a watch of prayer and worship at Yverdon’s House of Worship, located high on a hill overlooking the city. I love this house and have a special fondness for the meetings with God that I’ve had there. Today was as unexpected as the previous times, this one filled with spontaneous songs of celebration. Having Africans in the mix always helps, as drumming and dancing broke out for more than an hour!

As I wrote Sunday, I am continually reminded on this trip that God hides pieces of himself among the nations, and I find myself on a hunt to appreciate more and more of him through the people I have fellowship with.

ch:

Where the Sidewalk Begins

Where in the world is Christopher today?

For those who’ve been asking, and for those who haven’t, I’m headed to Yverdon, Switzerland once more. Jennifer has reluctantly decided to stay behind this trip, due to a few stressful travels situations and H4. It was a hard call, but the right call. But I feel very incomplete without her already.

I’ll be teaching at the YWAM School of Worship, as well has speaking and leading worship at numerous meetings during the week. Stay tuned for updates here; or follow me on Twitter for more moment-by-moment updates. And as always, thanks for the prayers.

ch:

Switzerland: Conference | Studio

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I must admit, I think I was 20 before I understood the differences between Swiss, Switzerland, and Sweden.

I’m such an American.

Now, however, I’m educated; no small thanks to their patience with me.

This weekend I’ll be speaking and leading worship at the “Discerning The Times” conference in Yverdon, followed by a week in the studio in the Swiss Alps where Jennifer and I will be translating the new “Heaven Meets Earth” album into French. I’m very happy to be partnering with YWAM in this venture to reach over 40 French speaking nations in the world.

I plan on doing some live broadcasting from in the studio, as well as posting a bunch of pictures during the 10-day trip. ch:

Arrived in Yverdon

We beat the storm. Yes, that monster creeping across the country consuming fruit in Florida and shutting down Chicago O’Hare. We slipped out of Washington-Dulles with just an hour to spare. Only to be greeted in Geneva with enough snow, wind, and turbulence to make everyone on the plane clap after touchdown.

The team loaded up in the van and arrived in Yverdon an hour later. Even Baby Judah was happy to see more than seat-backs, admiring the rolling hillsides and quaint architecture.

We took a brief nap here in the dorms of the School of Worship–doing our best to aclimate to the time change as fast as possible–then headed out for a brisk walk through the town. Tabitha pulls her collar up as high as she can, back to the wind, looking sharp in her dashing red coat. I think I shall call her Little Red.

We’ll retire early this evening, then head out for our first meeting, an all day Muscian’s Conference. I’ll be presenting both keynote messages, leading worship with Jenny and an indiginous group of awesome players, then Jenny and I teaching a workshop on Prophetic Worship.

Assuming they have wifi, I’ll try a few live feeds on uStream. Thanks for all your prayers! ch:

Switzerland:Spain 2010

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We’re off. One week in Yverdon, Switzerland teaching at a worship conference as well as daily at the YWAM School of Worship, and another week helping a new church plant in Madrid, Spain. We’ll be returning stateside on January 22nd, but our small team will be sure to keep you updated via Twitter and FaceBook every day (or as wifi availability allows). Please keep Jenifer, Judah, Ethan, Tabitha, and Abby in your prayers, as well as the church-works that we are going to serve. ch: