Monday, December 22, 2014

Abundant Life

Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:28)
 
She introduced herself, and in the same breath, in the same sentence conveyed to me the medical condition that she was suffering from. At this point both my arms were already wrapped around her as i came very close to her, positioning my ear near to her lips so that i can clearly hear her every word. i have learned that ministering is very much about embracing the person we pray with, about extending care and attention to them. It is about being sensitive, to handle delicately what they share. What we do by our actions often speaks louder than the beautifully crafted prayers that we pray over them. Believe it or that, most people can tell if we truly love them. i have also learned that we will never go wrong when the first thing we say is that God loves them.
 
And that was the first thing He did. He embraced her. He told her how much He loves her, and esteems her; the plans and purposes He has for her still very much intact. The new season that is coming will come. i have learned and continue to learn that most times, He surprises us; what we find most important and pressing, He finds minor. And if we lean in to hear Him, and seek out what He is currently interested in, what His attention is focused on, we will be astounded that He targets a whole different area in our lives. He sees differently to us. He speaks to the plans He has for us. He lifts our eyes to where He is, joyfully anticipating all that He has prepared for us; excitedly enthusiastic about what we get to do with Him. He speaks to what He is doing, not what we would like Him to do for us. After all, He is God, not us.
 
Later after the service while we were standing next to the coffee counter, she confirmed others had said what i said. At that point, i truly did not remember what words came out of my mouth. But i remember the strength that came from my belly. i remember the confidence and the authority that held me up. i remember it was warfare. And i remember her prayer at the end; she came in agreement, and in acceptance of what God did for her.  
 
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (1 Corinthians 4:7-10)
 
This is what an upgrade looks like. This is promotion in the Kingdom of God: We get to go lower; we get to follow His footsteps to see what death looks like; we get to learn true intercession with He who lives to intercede for us. We get to bear His name; to see and experience first hand the depth of a life with Jesus. And we are privileged to experience the height of a life with Him. We become forever changed; never turning back. The definition of Abundant Life changes; our priorities, our pursuits, our focus forever different. We become completely His.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Season of Grace III

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

Why are you crying, Child? Ever so casually, He said.
What do You mean, Lord? i protested, having surrendered fully to the pain upon my chest, wallowing in sorrow, welcoming the fellowship of a deep sadness that surpassed what i had ever experienced before. Do You not see, have You not known? A great injustice had happened to me. What do You mean? What i meant was: Lord, i have every right to cry and i have full right to allow my heart to break into a thousand million pieces. i meant: Lord, i have every right to be wounded and hurt. 

He said nothing. i am sure if i had stopped crying, and could see His face without that tear-blindness, i would see the gentleness of His face, an expression without drama. Perhaps a smile. He knows me so well. He knows how to speak to me even without words. What was a drama to a drama queen like me was not a big issue to Him. Instantly, i knew what that question Why are you crying? meant. Immediately, i knew i was wallowing in self-pity. As one who walks with Him, i knew instantly i need not walk by my flesh. i need not give in to my self. And strength returned to my spirit. i used that occasion to instead praise Him, and allowed Him to teach me how to pray. i stepped into instead a season of learning from He who trains my fingers for war; He who is intent on growing me to be who He already sees me as. 

There are no good situations or bad situations when we walk with the Lord. There are no good seasons and bad seasons. There is only seasons of Grace. Levels of grace. Life is about living with a King who loves us deeply. This walk or this journey is very much about discovering Who He is, and in seeing Who He is, learning who we are. Learning to differentiate what is of Him, what is of our flesh, and what is of the enemy. And seeing truly what Religion looks like; how so much of what we do are but forms of godliness void of His life, void of His power. Chasing surface, shallow and superficial things. It is great grace, higher grace we have received when we encounter Someone just like Him who chooses to touch our inner most core, in His time, by His great and terrible love to allow scales to fall from our eyes. Suddenly, we see how shallow, superficial and surface our understanding of the spirit realm is. How presumptuous we have been in our knowledge of Him, of His ways, of His heart. How arrogant we have been; how immature we still are. How still so clueless we are of His world, of His life, of Him. How foolish we are to try to explain Him; how meaningless it is to try to do what only He can do. How we all fall way short for even those of us who think we are doing awesomely. 

The good news is: There are seasons of Grace. Levels of grace. When we live with Him, when we walk with Him, there are waves upon waves of this Amazing Grace. There is no fear in His presence; there is perfect peace in Him. That even in the fiercest battles, we can rest; even in the most fiery warfare, we dine intimately with the Lord.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Season of Grace II

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
 
Have you like me, pondered from time to time what happened in the caves of Adullam? What conversations happened in that dark hidden place? What actions David took to be crowned captain over four hundred discontented misfits? How did he speak to them; what words, what actions turned these hearts around to become mighty men who not only gave unreservedly their loyalty and devotion to David, they gave their lives to serve him. How did men who had lived lives facing rejection; who were dejected and trodden over and over again, turn to become mighty men to ushered in a new king. A new era. A new government. Could it be that in the grand plan of the Lord, He chooses those discounted by many to bring about a great victory so that none may boast, so that none may lean upon their own goodness, their own righteousness, their own wisdom, their own efforts, their own selves. That unless the Lord wills it, all is vain. All but a chasing after wind.
 
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father... that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
 
The journey has brought me to a point where to experience the height of His love has now meant for me an honour and a high privilege to also experience the depth of His love. And deep Love is fierce, is pure, is jealous, is furious, is tender. Is powerful. Is strong. Mighty life changing. He is unafraid; He is not fazed by the darkness of deep places. He is willing, even adamant and relentless in pursuing us to the deepest darkest depths of our soul. He comes as into the caves of Adullam, and converse with us there. He walks right into these places and everything changes. Suddenly, we come face to face with the strength that is He. Suddenly, we are once again astonished by the power that is He. And we fall in a pile and give our highest worship; give our unreserved loyalty and devotion; we fall into our lowest low and adore Him. We become those who truly understand grace and those who intimately know Love. Suddenly, we find grace to give thanks, to praise Him for everything. We find grace to embrace even the things that cut us deeply; we become those who know intimately pure power, those who have lived through the depth of His fiery love.
 
Suddenly, the weapon of our warfare is Love. Suddenly, we become smart and wise and more crafty than the enemy. Suddenly, we come into our true identity. Suddenly, we see! Suddenly, we are privileged to experience Who He is! Unless we come face to face with the enemy, and by the Holy Spirit engage in fierce combat with the enemy, we would never have known intimately the power, the pure strength that we are in Christ Jesus. We would not have known what we are capable of; we would not have known how destructive we are to the kingdom of darkness. We would not have known what victory feels like. What victory looks like. And perhaps, we will from now onwards learn the secret of turning misfits into mighty men.

And here i stand stripped bare of all that i thought i was. And discover a new me. That is the utter beauty of walking with Someone like Him - there is always more.            

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Season of Grace

There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
 
To walk with God in the high places we must lose our fear. Fear can only be lost in the desert, in the crucible of warfare, inferiority and internal struggle. In the place where only God can shelter you. Only His comfort works. All is striped bare and we come to rest in His goodness.
 
The passion of God that kills our strength now nurtures our weakness into a place of joyful vulnerability. Through the lens of our own inadequacy we begin to get glimpses of His sovereignty and all supremacy. Our hearts and minds are washed in His goodness. Revelation lifts us to the realm of a different reality and peace sets in.
 
Every obstacle and opposition  is an opportunity to rest in the love of the Father. We enter every problem through grace in which we stand. Our wonder grows as we learn the joy of dependency. (Graham Cooke)
 
i intended to title this post simply as Love, because i have experienced Love. In tangible ways, and in pure blind faith. Love has become so much more. Love that carries me. Love that shields me. Love that strengthens me. Love that simply loves me. Just when i thought i have no more love to give, a greater and higher love came surging and filled and filled. It is a privilege. It is an honour when God takes us higher. Takes us deeper. Takes us to a place where we come face to face with Who Love is.
 
Only the journey to get to that height, to that depth is nothing like how we would have imagined it to be or how we have anticipated it to be. Suddenly Religion loses its grip. Suddenly definitions of words so familiar starts to shift and change. And we discover we have settled for so much less than what is already ours. Suddenly the depth of God is beyond comprehension; the ways of God unthinkable. Suddenly all falsehood, all religion, all flesh starts to fall away; nothing man-made, nothing created is able to stand in the presence of the One so true. One so powerful. Suddenly, our vision becomes broader. Suddenly superficial, surface, temporal things will not do any more. Suddenly, our hearts are transformed in a moment, and our vision different.   
 
A lot of people seek that depth, that height, that power. That name. Unless the Lord wills it, all is vain. All is a seeking after wind. But when He comes in the terrible strength that He is, there is no escape. There is no where to hide. He is relentless. His love pursues us. He does not fail. He succeeds in the matters He sets His heart on. He is mighty. He is power. He is inescapable.
 
So, i stand at this point, completely stripped bare of all that i thought i was. Only to discover there is a higher love. There is a higher grace. There is more. There is One True God. And He has once again completely rocked me, astounded me. Floored me. Suddenly, my heart is ripped apart, and i come to that place once again where there is no other love but He. And love is fierce. Love like this is experienced, not learned, not taught. Love like this comes only from His hands. From His heart. Love like this is like waves that continuously come. There is no end in sight. And we discover He is more crafty than anyone; He is more powerful than anything. There is no escaping His love. There is no where to hide from Grace.     

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Season of War III

Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head."  Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said, "How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you." (1 Samuel 1:9-14)
 
i received a How're you doing? message from her in the morning. When i replied with a i'm well, she messaged back to say that she was thinking of me, and that she had prayed for me. This lady is my husband's friend whom he met at discipleship training with a mission organisation when he was younger. Even though i had never met her face to face, i befriended her while she served with her husband as missionaries in Tibet. We became friends emailing to and fro during that season. Her husband and her are now living in Australia, in a different state. Not that we have lost contact, or neglected our friendship, we have simply become mothers raising families. Even though our communication has become rare, our friendship is intact. i was wondering about her just a day or two earlier. But to receive a simple message like this confirmed to me that my Father is watching over me. It was like a message from Papa that He is with me. He is present in my life, intimately caring about everything concerning me. i messaged her back to confirmed to her that she had heard from the Lord, and thanked her for her obedience to His voice.  
 
As a common Monday morning ritual, while doing our tasks, my supervisor and i, we like to share messages that we heard the day before at our churches. This Monday morning, she told me that the sermon the day before reminded her of me; in the middle of the word, she was reminded of the dream she had of me not too long ago. That dream meant very little to me when she shared it with me last week. But as she recounted the message and the dream, it made a lot of sense, and brought great encouragement and assurance to my heart. It confirmed to me a second time by ten o'clock this Monday morning that my Father is with me. i confirmed her dream, and her interpretation of the dream. i thanked her for sharing this message with me and the joy in her spilled unto me. Our relationship strengthened again in something so simple. God is good like this.  
 
Two seemingly casual conversations confirmed to me that Papa understands fully what it is like to be in this season of intercession; it confirmed to me that this is His work; His fingerprints are all over this. More than that, He confirms that the activities of warring, of interceding are secondary. He is advocating a higher, and more superior intention, a surer purpose. What i am learning is more than the nature of the war we live in; i am learning how to recognise His presence and be secure in His hand right in the middle of a fierce battle. i am learning the strength of who He is; i am getting acquainted with the power that is He.  i am learning stamina. i am learning what it looks like to strengthen myself in the Lord; i am learning how to rest in the middle of a season of praying. i am learning how to give my obedience even more speedily. i am learning how to follow Him even closer. Suddenly, God has a Personality that i did not know before. Suddenly, He has another side to Him that was previously hidden from me, unknown to me. Suddenly, Scripture comes alive; the Word of God becomes experiences. Becomes real. The Word of God becomes strong, practical, intriguing, fascinating, clever and powerful! They more than pop up at the right moment, they suddenly fit, they suddenly fill, suddenly work, and suddenly powerful. They speak right into warfare. Suddenly, the Word of God is no longer knowledge, but mighty in experience. Suddenly, this place of having all of my inside wrung and sometimes tighten intensely with unspeakable weight is a gift; it is a place not birthed out of the heart of man. It does not originate from the need of men, or the wants of men. He is the Author, the Originator as He leads us into war. Into victory. Suddenly, i am beginning to learn what that Victory that is already ours looks like. 
 
In this place, suddenly everything changes. Suddenly everything becomes clearer. Suddenly all of our priorities shift and our focus readjusts. And life is no longer as we have always known it to be, and our hearts start to turn, and transform once again. Suddenly, we become those who hunger and thirst for more.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Season of War II

Now as they were travelling along, He entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with her preparations, and she came up to Him, and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me!" But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)
 
"I don't think that is a burden," said my right hand (wo)man, "I think it is hunger; you have a hunger for more." i had just addressed the team, to call us all to what i thought was a burden, or a deep desire inside of me to lift up the church, to lift up her leaders, to lift up the people; i have an urgency to call up the purposes upon men and women; i have an intense need to come and cover them, and shield them. i longed for something that i cannot fully grasp or fully see. It feels like a dull aching within, and it seizes me suddenly at different times of the day, and it calls me to pain for more. It calls me to cry out for more. It calls me to contend for the destinies of loved ones. Even this, i know, is a gift. i have been graced with the gift of hunger. i am crying day and night for more; a deep cry that weighs heavily upon my chest. Even this, is a gift from Him who has completely captured me for Himself.
 
i love the word of God. i have loved the above passage for perhaps twenty five years now. i have over the years meditated on this passage in various different seasons, at different stages of my growth in my walk with Jesus. Each visit to the Word of God uncovers another aspect of who He is, of what He is like. Each time, with the Holy Spirit, His word is always fresh. And i am led to visit this passage again yesterday. It totally intrigued me. This time, i saw into the heart of this passage; i saw into the heart of Jesus.
 
Even in war, it is about resting. Even in war, it is about knowing intimately this place of rest, of being seated at the feet of Jesus. Listening intently. It is a discipline. It is developed in secret, and trained into a lifestyle. We become those who gaze upon Jesus in every circumstance. We become those who sit, wait and watch for Him everyday. It comes from the exercise of being still before the Lord; an ability trained and honed in the secret place with the Holy Spirit. Until all else are rushing around us, and we are in this place of rest, of stillness. And we start to see clearly. And we start to understand the nature of the war we live in; we start to know the ways of the Lord in war. We learn to trust His timing; we learn to read His body language; we learn to lean into His strength. We learn that even in a whisper, He is stronger. Even in stillness is great victory. Suddenly, when we open our mouths in public, we have become stronger, sharper, more because we have grown in that secret place with the Lord.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Season of War

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
 
i love the word of God. i have loved these verses for years. Because they give someone like me great and magnificent hope. Because i can find myself amongst the foolish, amongst the weak, amongst the base, amongst the despised, amongst the nobodies. Little did i know that i have worn even these labels with pride, with false humility. With a lot of striving, a lot of trying. Today, i testify, that unless the Lord wills it, unless it is the work of the Spirit of the Lord, all is vain. All is a chasing after wind. All is selfish. i testify, that even now, to have been led to a place where suddenly, even this has to be exposed and brought to the Light; even this has to be dealt with. Even this has to be brought to death.
 
Until we come face to face with a holy God, touched deep to the very core of who we are, will we truly comprehend the word despised. Until we come face to face with a strong God, and experience the burning power that is He, will we truly know intimately what it means to be weak. Not until we encounter the incomprehensible wisdom of God, and fall helpless in a pile of utter brokenness, will we fully appreciate our own foolishness. Not until we are completely striped bare, bankrupt of everything, utterly crushed will we know the difference that is the strength of our gifts, the strength of our personalities, the strength of our selves, and the strength of our God. And believe me, the strength of God is exceedingly more than more than. Suddenly to be weak, to be despised, to be base, to be foolish, to be blind, to be nought takes on a whole new meaning, and God is magnified beyond where i have ever known Him to be.
 
The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name. (Exodus 15:3)
 
Not until we are trusted, and tossed tumbling into the reality of life in a war, will we truly understand the breadth, and length, and height, and depth of the nature of this war we live in. Not until we cease to live our lives still all about us, all about our fame, all about building our own businesses, all about how significant our place is in man-made structures, all about what we will look like on the surface - all about projecting a false sense of security, a false identity - will we truly see the urgency, and the magnitude of what life is truly about, and come face to face with the reality of a war fierce and fiery. And in seeing this, we are privileged to see the magnitude of who He is, the strength that is He, the power that is truly His. To experience intimately the breadth, the length, the height and the depth of His love. To see and experience personally what He is all about; to find where His heart is hidden, concealed. We discover again how incomprehensively large He is; how even in the intense heat of our battles, learn and know intimately the security of being right in the middle of His hands. All of a sudden, even the definition of Love starts to change; even to be loved intensely by the Lord, to be pursued relentlessly by the Almighty is brought to a whole different level. Brought to a new height. And we are completely and utterly left stunned, left without speech, without abilities, and realize that all along our understanding and our knowledge of Him has been so shallow, so flimsy, so simplistic. How we have treated Him like a giant Sugar Daddy in the sky, and used the Word of God like good luck charms. What He intends to do, even in a war completely leaves us breathless, utterly ruined, and totally crushed. And all we can do is lift up both hands, and give in. Worship. Adore. Suddenly, to surrender to the Lord becomes His doing; to willingly come and bow down and worship originates from Him.  
 
Suddenly, even in a season of war, He is central. Even in war, it is about Him. Even in war, it is about worship. Even in war, it is about Love. This, is what an upgrade looks like.