Wednesday, November 18, 2015

his goodness.

God's been asking me a tough question lately. It makes me squirm. I know I could give the right answer, but would I mean it? Does my heart believe it?

His question is: "Do you believe that I am good?"

Here's the thing. I know God is good, I've known it all my life, in my head. But when things get hard and I have to give up control, do I believe it then?

He's not just asking me if He's good, He's asking me lots of other things too. Do I believe He knows my heart's desires, what's best for me (more than I do), and that He will lead me into these things? Is He trustworthy? Does He have perfect timing?

Or do I believe He's cruel? Do I believe He intentionally created me, placing my desires, my passions, in my heart, only to withhold them? Does he give me good things in life only to take them away or let them fall away without any promise of better things to come?

The truth is, I've spent significant time trying to control things in my life because I've thought I knew what's best for me. But I've surrendered. Not by choice; really, I feel quite forced into it. When you reach a point where you've put everything you've had into something and still not gotten the outcome you wanted, you realize you're not in control.

Here's the truth: God is my perfect Father. He created me, every intricate detail of me, He knows me intimately and cares about every detail of my life. He is waaaaaay more qualified to control my life than I am. Like the best dad, he won't withhold any good thing from me, his daughter.

I choose to believe this. God, you are so good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

i'm going to LA for a missions trip!

So all Bethel students go on outreach trips in the spring. I was pretty excited about the possibility of doing a mission trip overseas, but God had something different in mind for us this year! Bethel School and Church have decided for the first time ever to send all of their students and as many church members as possible to the same place, Los Angeles, to be a part of a unique event called Azusa Now! After a ton of prayer and consideration they have total confidence this event is God's idea and are sending us full force to be a part of what He is going to do!

The event is headed up by Lou Engle, known for organizing huge prayer rallies and a former senior leader of International House of Prayer (IHOP). The event will be held on April 9, 2016, the 110th anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival, which was an incredible outpouring of the Spirit that took place in LA in 1906, where the Body of Christ was unified among different races, and many salvations, healings, and miracles took place.

All Bethel students will spend several days in LA surrounding the event sharing the gospel and ministering to people with love and prayer. At the event we will be scattered throughout the stadium ministering to people and believing God for miracles of salvation as well as outpourings of his love and power! It will also be a unifying time across races and denominations, as many diverse ministries and churches will be involved.

Here's the promo video for our trip:

I will be raising support for this trip, $1300 in total. If you would like to partner with what God is going to do in me and in the people of LA, please donate at this link:

(Just type Cassandra Beck in the box under Give Now - Search for a Traveler)

If you prefer, you can mail a check made payable to Bethel Church, with Azusa Now written on the check and with a note that designates the funds are for me. Here's the address:
Bethel Church 
ATTN: Bethel Mission Trips Department 
20 Lake Blvd. 
Redding, CA 96003

Regardless of whether you support me financially, I will be so thankful for your prayers! We are believing God is going to use this to bring transformation to one of the biggest cities of America, and that from this event history will be made and nations will be changed! (We pray big prayers because our God is big and powerful!)

PS, I'm going on another outreach trip to Reno next weekend, the 20-21st. Your prayers are appreciated and I'll be updating you afterwards! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

reno, round one.

I just got back from my first ever Bethel ministry trip! Every BSSM student submits their top five city service choices, which are anything from doing landscaping in parks, to ministering in retirement homes, to dancing on stage during worship, to street evangelism, to doing under-privileged women's hair and makeup, etc. etc. When I read through the options, one stood out dramatically for me: once monthly overnight ministry trips to Reno, Nevada. We would be ministering to people in casinos, bars, and on the streets, and we would partner with a local organization which fights sex trafficking in Reno with opportunities to potentially minister to girls who have come out of prostitution, as well as the women, pimps, and johns who are involved currently in the sex trade in Reno.

Of all the options, why this one? For one thing, I feel possibly called to ministry that partners with women one-on-one who need inner healing, and ministering to women coming out of sex trafficking certainly is that. But also, I just want to be stretched so much! I want to be pushed far out of my comfort zone so that the only way anything can happen is if God works through me. Well, I guess this was God's pick for me too, because I got accepted for this city service and just returned from my first trip to Reno!

As our first trip, we learned a lot about what fighting these issues even looks like in Reno. Prostitution is legal in Nevada, and the sex trade and casinos are what largely fund the state, including the state's schools. Because of this, simply bringing girls out of sex trafficking isn't enough to fix the city's problems. We were sent out to minister to anyone and everyone, not just looking for prostitutes. And the organization we partner with is involved in working to change the system, not just individuals. Our team (which will be about 35 people including second and third year BSSM students) got to pray and prophesy over many of the organization's team members and women who I think have been brought out of trafficking. You can imagine, their work is very difficult and holding on to hope is a constant battle. But they were so encouraged and strengthened by our team, it was so amazing!

Our first afternoon we went out and ministered to homeless people. That night we went into the casinos and on the streets to minister to people, and the next day we went to Carson City (Nevada's capital) to minister to people at the Nevada Day Parade. I've never done anything like this before! I was really nervous but experienced a ton of breakthrough, both in taking personal risks to talk and pray with people, in praying for healing, and giving prophetic words. I was so surprised to find how receptive people were overall. Though we definitely faced rejection (breaking off fear of man), we also got to bless so many who were deeply hungry for love and for truth! Following are several testimonies/stories from this weekend...

When we were sent out to minister to the homeless, a guy in my group challenged me and another girl to go after a lady who walked by us while we were ministering to a homeless man named Steve. Up to this point I had allowed the more experienced members of the group take the lead as I observed, but now I was being forced to lead! I practically ran after this lady and when I caught up I asked her if she was in a hurry. She willingly stopped to talk and right away asked if we knew a guy named Tim (also from our team, in another group). I learned later that Tim had just ministered to her and bought her chicken, and she told us she was just singing Jesus Loves Me to herself as she walked. But when I told her we felt like God told us to come pray for her she said she would gladly receive prayer from us! She had bandages on her knee so I told her I'd pray for that and she wanted prayer for her family as well (without giving details). I prayed over her, telling her how much God loves her and how obviously he was pursuing her to tell her that today. I prayed for her knee which she said was feeling better, and I prayed for her family. I felt led to pray that she would bring peace to end fighting and conflict in her family. When I finished she was in awe. She was so blessed, so thankful, and felt so loved, and she said it was as if we saw straight through her! Because it turns out she just finished taking conflict resolution classes because she so wanted this for her family. Her name was Esther.

I also got to minister to a beautiful, vibrant older homeless woman named Devony. Devony is a believer, and so she was very encouraged as we spoke to her and prayed for her back, and much of her back pain went away. We prayed for provision and for deep relationships for her in this time.

In the evening, we split up into small groups and went into casinos. No one in my group had done this ministry before, so we were very nervous and wandered for awhile trying to get up the nerve to talk to someone. A man named Doc was a casino worker, and when we walked up to him he did a magic trick for us with cards. He was kind of a strange man, very intense and good at what he does. When he finished we talked to him a bit, but then we all began to walk away, all feeling a pull to pray for him but not knowing how. Something in me rose up though and I felt like, what do I have to lose?! I said "hey Doc, do you have pain in your feet?" and he told us that he does have pain in his feet from always standing. I asked him if we could pray for them to be healed and he (surprisingly to me) said yes! He stood there staring at me as I began to pray for him. I first blessed him, calling out things I saw in him like a kind heart and great intelligence. Then I prayed for his feet to be healed, that all the pain would leave. I blessed him and prayed he would know God's love for him. I could be wrong, but I thought as I prayed and looked in his eyes that I saw tears. He thanked us genuinely, and we went on our way.

After that, I was so worked up and excited! The guys with me were so affirming and thankful I stepped out, and we got bolder from there. We talked with and prayed for or blessed many people who were at the slot machines, talked with and prayed for an older couple, one guy got a word for a lady selling tickets who looked at him shocked when he told her, and I told a hostess how beautiful she was and that God has incredible plans for her future, to not give up. Mostly really simple things, but the impact those simple things sometimes had was so amazing. We also got a lot of rejection. When I approached one lady at a slot machine and asked if I could pray for her ankles, she told me no and said, "I just want to gamble!" But fear of man was being broken in those times as well :)

Another group met a prostitute trying to escape her pimp, and when they told her about the organization we were there with, it turns out she was supposed to be meeting with them soon, but she was very afraid. Her encounter with our group members seemed to give her the courage to go through with it!

The next day we went to Carson City (Nevada's capital) to minister to people at the Nevada Day Parade. We found a coffee shop that turned out to be owned by a pastor's family, which sends the proceeds into missions. They have many ministries and told us about the work they see God doing in Nevada. Recently a prayer room or regular prayer meeting was established in the state house, for one thing! We prayed for them, blessed them, and then they did the same for us.

Just outside the coffeeshop we got to pray with a woman who was going through a divorce. One member of my group was in the bathroom while we prayed and when he came out he felt God told him to tell her he was going to restore intimacy to her her heart, having no idea what she was going through. When he gave her this word she broke down crying and just clung to him, then hugged each of us and thanked us profusely.

These are just a few of many, many stories. We all experienced SO much breakthrough personally in our willingness to step out and look potentially foolish, but finding that many more people than expected were receptive and open! Though I didn't personally lead anyone to the Lord, I know I planted a lot of seeds which I trust the Lord will grow and others will have opportunity to reap later in these individuals' lives. Praise Jesus!!! I can't wait for the next trip.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

favorite songs

I just wanted to share two of my new favorite songs right now. You may have seen I posted them on Facebook but they're worth a re-post!

"Given" by Matt Stinton
This one's not been released on any albums yet.

"Pieces" by Amanda Cook
From her new album, "Brave New World"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

being like Jesus: walking in power for the miraculous

As believers, most of us would agree we are called to be Christlike. And yet, many believers do not actually believe they can be like Jesus, at least in this life. I didn't used to believe that I could totally overcome sin or see the miraculous mark my life and ministry. Now I do.

2 Peter 1:4 actually says that through God's promises, we "may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." We know we are called new creations and that the old man has died with Christ.

I'm going to talk about the new nature and our ability to live free from sin in a future post; this one is going to be about walking in the miraculous as Jesus did.

In his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson suggests that though Jesus was entirely God, he chose to live as a human with the same limitations men would have once redeemed. This is hard for me to completely accept, but I ask myself whether that's because it's not true or just because my experience tells me otherwise. I never want to form what I believe based on my experience instead of what God actually says. I'm in process on this. Jesus did say, "The Son can do nothing by himself," (John 5:19) and it is written that he was led by the Spirit. The distinctions of his humanity: Jesus had no sin separating himself from God, and he lived in dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like Jesus, we have no sin separating us from God once we have been justified through Jesus' blood. If we argue with this point then we question whether his sacrifice was enough for what he intended to accomplish! The question then would be, "how dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?" (p. 30)

It is undeniable that Jesus favored miracles and acts of power in his ministry, and that he sent out his disciples to do the same. Why? Bill goes into many reasons for this in his book, but I found it particularly impactful when he said, "It is common for people to acknowledge the kindness of the Church and still not be brought to repentance. But power forces the issue because of its inherent ability to humble mankind. Jesus said, 'If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin." John 15:24 (p. 121) His miracles proved he was from God.

Miracles display God's power, and his incredible love. They can skip past theological discussions and defeat doubts of God's existence. They bring joy!

"The Kingdom of God is not in word but in power." 1 Corinthians 4:20

Jesus' words: "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."" John 14:12-14

Right there Jesus says we are not only not limited to doing only the measure of miracles that he did, but even greater things. He also doesn't just say his disciples would do this, but "whoever believes" in him, and he who asks.

Again Jesus says, "These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18)

Quoting Bill, "God doesn’t have to try to do supernatural things. He is supernatural. He would have to try to not be. If He is invited to a situation, we should expect nothing but supernatural invasion.” (p. 74)

Bringing heaven to earth

Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Our job is to bring heaven to earth. Bill says, "If it exists in heaven, it is to be loosed on earth. If it is not free to exist in heaven, it must be bound here." (p. 59-60) For example, there are no tumors in heaven so we have the authority by faith to tell tumors to vanish here on earth, as well. Whether they always do and why is another discussion.

I love this analogy, "Just as ambassadors of the United States have an income based on the standard of living of this nation regardless of what nation they serve in, so also ambassadors of the kingdom of God live according to the economy of heaven, though they are still on earth." (p. 74)

This is a super rough overview of what I've been learning about our ability to walk in the miraculous, but it's a start. I'd highly recommend reading the book for more depth and his biblical basis! It's a scary thing to conclude God may actually want us to seek to walk in the miraculous because that requires a ton of risk! But I am learning it is so worth it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

becoming a Californian

I can’t believe I’ve now lived in California for over two months. I’m practically a Californian.

Mom and Dad helped me drive my car out here in late July. We made a road trip out of it, stopping by the Badlands, Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Boise, Idaho (to visit my boyfriend Ryan’s family), and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

Mom and Dad then stayed in California with me for a week. We took one coastal trip to Trinidad Beach and Redwoods National Park, but otherwise we stayed in Redding and they helped me out by doing things like Dad oiling our squeaky doors and Mom ironing all my clothes crumpled from the move. They also visited Bethel Church with me and absolutely loved it as much as I do.

Once they left, to be honest, settling in was hard. The Lord provided an awesome roommate for me who I already knew from Kingdom Life, the church I attended in college, and she “just happened” to arrive to Redding the same day as me! (God totally knew I had no idea how lonely I’d be and that I needed at least one familiar friend!). But I still felt the reality of starting over - in friendships, job searching, a new church community, an entirely new city, and the first few weeks were rough. Though somehow, I never questioned whether I should be there.

My other two roommates are from Sweden. I connected with them on Facebook back in May, we Skyped, loved each other, and decided to be roommates! I feel so connected to them already it can only be because God put us together. I’m so thankful!
Me and my Swedes, Victoria and Jennie, first day of classes
For all the applications I did, the only place I got an interview I also got hired on the spot, for a Starbucks in a Target store. When asked if I like it, I reply with something like, “I’m thankful to have a job.” It’s not The Bridge CafĂ© I worked at in Upland, but jobs here are really hard to come by and I’m truly so grateful I was able to get one so quickly. I’m working about 20 hours a week.

I love Bethel Church. I love it. It is incredible to be in a community of believers, many of whom moved here specifically for this church. It’s unreal to be led in worship by leaders such as Jeremy Riddle, Brian and Jenn Johnson, and Kalley Heiligenthal on a regular basis, who lead with such excellence that it’s not about them at all, but they help lead us straight into connection with the Father. I’ve been listening to Bethel podcasts for a couple of years, and yet actually hearing Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and Eric Johnson preach as a member of the congregation brings an even greater level of impact for sure.

Praying for healing is a very regular part of church here, and people are healed at almost every single service. At services I’ve attended there have been healings of everything from eczema vanishing, to bones that stuck out going back in place, to perpetual pain experienced for decades leaving in an instant, to full movement being restored to limbs. Leaders have also shared testimonies of even more drastic healings taking place, like a child healed of autism and a quadriplegic receiving full restoration of movement and running around. While I know God can do anything, I’m being so challenged to believe he actually wants to do extravagant things for us, to demonstrate his love! There is no limit to what Father God will do for his children when they cultivate an environment of extreme faith and power in the Holy Spirit!

This is a place where the Word is preached, but not just for the sake of gaining head knowledge. We are continually challenged to activate our faith, even during services. Almost every service we are led in going after breakthrough in specific areas, taking a stand to demonstrate our intention to change (whether it’s to stop believing a lie, stop living in shame or sin, to step out in faith in a specific area, or embrace a truth or opportunity), and surrounding those who are standing for change in order to lay hands on them and pray for them (whether we know them or not). Ministry team members and church leaders continually make themselves available to pray with congregation members, as well.

So after a couple of weeks of working and a visit from Ryan, school started in early September. We’ve had class Monday-Thursday from 12:30pm-5:45pm for four weeks now! We have revival group once a week, which is like a home group. Each group has a pastor, and mine is an Australian dad in his 30s (I’m guessing) who carries the love of the Father so strongly that I sometimes want to cry just from his hugs. I’ll also have a small group and one-on-ones with third year student interns. This year 47% of first year students (in total around 1100) are internationals, the biggest percentage they've ever had! Pretty awesome. I have neighbors from Norway, the UK, Germany, South Africa, Portugal, and of course the USA.

School has been amazing. It’s stretching, definitely not comfortable all the time, stuff God wants to work on and heal in my life is being stirred up, but I’m learning so much. Really, even just spending an hour a day in worship is bound to change you! We’ve already read two of Bill Johnson’s books and have Bible reading assignments each day as well. (I'd highly recommend both of Bill's books, When Heaven Invades Earth and Hosting the Presence.) I’m really looking forward to beginning our elective classes and city service projects next month. It's such an empowering and loving culture, from registration day our interns and pastors have been praying over us and prophesying over us, unafraid to believe the Father has huge things in store for our futures. They want us to be our absolute best, to become more and more who we were created to be, and their sole purpose as pastors and interns is to help us become that! It's pretty amazing.

I already have a lot of notes from teachings that I want to share, but I wanted to get this blog out first just to give an overall summary of where I’m at.

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 2, 2014

week 1 update

Here I am, sitting in a Starbucks in Etiler, Istanbul! I have now been here for one week. It's crazy how with time it can feel like I've been here forever while I also can't believe it's already been a week. Was I really at Taylor just last Saturday? Huh.

After an 11 hour flight or something like that, I arrived at the airport and searched for my name on a sign (you always see that in the movies, but I never thought I'd actually be the one doing it!). This man didn't speak English, but held the sign with my name so away with him I went! He was a man from my host dad's work, and I knew ahead of time it would be him, but it was still a little freaky, taking off with a stranger in a new country who couldn't talk to me! Thankfully he took me straight to my new home :)

The little boy I'm caring for is named Ates. He is 3 1/2 and a really sweet boy! He is of a more gentle nature, not one to run around or play sports or be rambunctious, which is a relief for me! He was really shy at first, and he is seriously adorable with the biggest eyes and long dark eyelashes, as you will see in later pictures. I immediately loved him and really like my host mom as well! She and her husband have been extremely kind to me and welcoming, helpful, and forthright with communication and expectations, which is great. 

 You know I'm a nanny when I carry around Ates's Thomas the train backpack even when not with him... My host mom and I decided it would keep the creepers away ;)

 They live in an apartment flat in a complex. It is very nice and more spacious than I expected. I live in a district called Etiler, which is on the European side of Istanbul this time (Istanbul is part Asia part Europe, split by the Bosphorus strait which connects the Black Sea and Aegean Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean.) It's really nice to be on the European side this time, because it is where the city centers and most sight-seeing is. I am well-connected to public transportation, and it's inexpensive.

My daily schedule goes something like this: Wake up at 7 and get ready for the day, Ates gets up around 7:30, feed him breakfast and get him dressed and ready for school which is from 9-1 on weekdays. While he is at school I have free time. Go with host mom to pick him up at 1, have lunch together, play all afternoon until dinner, have dinner around 7, give him a bath and put him to bed around 8:30. Each day is quite a long day!

 Wednesday was my day off, and I took the opportunity to visit some of my favorite sight-seeing spots from last summer...

The famous Blue Mosque

Beautiful Bosphorus boats and coast

I stopped for an afternoon snack of hummus and pitas before going into the Grand Bazaar.

This was the view from outside the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, which I visited since it was my favorite museum last summer.

Fishermen here have the longest fishing poles I've ever seen! And there are lots and lots of them.

The famous Haggia Sophia

This cutie is Ates. Look at those big eyes!

This is the view outside our apartment windows. Yes, there are tennis courts just below.

We went to a fish restaurant with his grandparents who told me it has the "best fish in the whole Mediterranean." I'm not sure about that, but they were delicious!

Corn on the cob is a common street food which Ates LOVES. I told them that I would also be eating corn on the cob if I was at home which my dad grows, but I didn't tell them that our homegrown corn is at least 5x better than this stuff :)

This is somewhat of a classic Turkish breakfast. Cheeses, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, olives, and bread. Usually we have hard-boiled eggs and sometimes nuts as well, and other places I've had it they usually also have deli meats.

Needless to say, I am thoroughly enjoying being back in the beautiful city of Istanbul! I also feel very safe and happy with my host family :) Yesterday I got to attend the Every Nation church which the Lord blessed me with a connection with before coming (I wrote about that in my previous post), and it was so, so refreshing! The church was quite small, but had at least 10 other college-aged girls and guys there, and I am so excited to become friends with them! Worship was basically food for my soul, and I felt the sermon may as well have been written for me, all about how the Lord delights in perfecting His power in our weakness. Day to day life isn't all easy for me here, but I am so thankful that the Lord will give me through His the power the strength and abilities I do not have in myself! t's really apparent to me that fellowship and worship both with God and other believers are essential for my spiritual and total well-being while I am here. I really am so excited to see how He will continue to deepen my relationship with Ates and give me opportunities to show His love while experiencing the beauty and wonder of His creation in a place so different than anything I've known growing up :)