Friday, July 18, 2014

Mighty Men II

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can't know Him if you don't love. This is how God showed His love for us. God sent His only Son into the world so we might love through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about - not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sin and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us - perfect love! This is how we know we're living steadily and deeply in Him, and He in us: He's given us life from His life, from His very own Spirit. Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent His Son as Saviour of the world. Everyone who confesses the Jesus Christ is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. 
(1 John 4:7-16)

The letter is wedged between my journal, waiting to be replied. In it she writes of the heartbreak of battling with an illness that has prevented her from having children. In it, she writes about her journey to find meaning in life. In it she writes of the various points in her life where i had injected the presence of a God who loves her. She believes He exists, and acknowledges that He must love her. She felt His love for her through me. But she is looking to access Him not through the church. It speaks volumes to me. 

She ended the letter: I'm so grateful and happy you're my friend. I wish you lived closer, but hopefully we can meet up at some point, right?

My heart longs for her as well. i have known her for twenty years. And i have not given up on her; i am still introducing Jesus to her. Gently. Thoughtfully. Prayerfully. i have through the years shared with her my own God stories; i have sent her books and gifts. i have spoken to her about grace, about life with a living Person. Our relationship did not just happen. i nurtured it. It has taken years of sowing, investing into a person that i treasure. A person that He loves. i recognised her uniqueness the day i introduced myself to her. i steward this relationship with utmost sensitivity, delicately with much care. Within this girl, there is something beautiful, intricate. Fragile. And the enemy has indeed worked very hard to suppress, mar, dishonour and pervert what is in her. Right from babyhood, he has continuously steal, kill and destroy her beauty, her worth, her uniqueness. In a spiritual war, i need spiritual weapons. To set a captive free, i need so much more than a tract. i am on a mission to bring the Kingdom of God into her life.  

i am not seeking an extra reward from the Father; i am not seeking to earn myself merit points with Him (or with fellow believers) because there is no such reward point system in the Kingdom. To parade upon our chest badges that proclaim how many sinners we have called into the Kingdom or how many people we have ministered to is a religious and worldly practice. If i have to prove how much i do for the King, for His church; if i have to advertise how useful i am only betrays the lack of relationship i have with Him. Because i know Him, i know my value. i will know that her salvation will be purely to the glory of the Son who so loves her. i am only following an urge, or a softening of my heart, a moving of my heart for a person that God has privileged me to know. All these years, i approach her with the desire for her to know Him because i know her. i know how much she will enjoy and love living with the Lord. Because i know Him; i know how much He will enjoy and love living with such an incredibly beautiful girl. My motivation is not to add something to me, or to my reputation; i have no need to make myself worthy to be called an evangelizing Christian. i do not have to earn my right to bear His name. i reach out to her simply because i love her. i am seeking her highest good, her greatest happiness. Believe it or not, in all of my years on earth, having walked amongst men and doing relationships, i have found that people are able to discern the true motivation of our hearts. Many perhaps cannot articulate this hunch, some may brush the intuition aside, some may have their senses dulled by the enemy's repeated lies, but most people can tell if we truly love them. 

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry of Judgement Day - our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgement - is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love - love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boast, "I love God." and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both. 
(1 John 4:17-21)

What if one of the most powerful weapons we already possess is simply this: Love. Or, i would like to name it Doing Relationships Excellently. When we think about it, love, or the kind of relationships that this love (which is supernatural, a fruit of the indwelling Spirit) is only available to us who have Him living in us. It means, Satan does not have this love; he does not have the ability to produce the quality, the strength or the power of the love relationships only God can create and with Him, in Him, relationships that are abundantly available to us. What if we have been lied to, or have been diverted or distracted to put all our concentration on the fear of offense? Any fear is still fear. It proves that our love for one another is still immature, not yet perfected. What if we tweak our thinking a little to align ourselves with His nature; to give ourselves into His way stated so clearly in His written word - Do Relationships Excellently; seek to grow and mature our love one for the other, to perfect love. It must be possible because He is a good Father; He does not require of us something that He has not graced us to do. What if we shift our attention and concentration to doing relationships excellently, instead of giving in to the spirit of fear where suspicion, jealousy, strife and isolation (which is heavily smelling like the enemy) is given place to play with our minds. What if we guard only against the spiritual powers that deceive people; we are aware that the guard we put up that separates us from people only uncovers to us that there is a wound or a hurt that has given room to the spirit of fear, of separation, of isolation to roam. And we think again. We repent and turn the other way. And do the opposite. 

What if we truly believe the principle of sowing and reaping; if we only sow into our relationships superficial, surface things, we will only reap superficial, surface things in our relationships. If we sow fear, we reap fear. If we sow suspicion, we reap suspicion. If we sow plastic things, we reap plastic things. If we limit our relationships to what people can do for us, how they can best serve us or contribute to us, we limit our capacity for rich, robust and meaningful relationships; we have robbed ourselves of great wealth, and made ourselves poor and small. If we only view people as those who has something that we want, those who can take us to where we want to go, we have settled for so much less than what is available to us in His Kingdom. What if it is true that all relationships can be nurtured and grown, and it all depends on what we plant into them. Mutually. 

What if it is time to change our language? To speak the language of the Kingdom of God. To speak of love. To speak honour. To speak oneness; to speak of what is uniquely and amazingly alike in us. To sow togetherness. To breed Mighty Men who will live and die with us. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mighty Men

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

When it was all uncovered, it was heartbreaking. i could always taste that there was something that flavoured some of her opinions, or some part of her praying. But i could never quite put my finger upon what bugged me. i suspected what the root might be, but have always kept my discernment to myself; always determined to put on love. She is one of the people that i most treasure. And love. i have also learned and continue to learn how to keep still, and watch. Putting on love, walking in utmost sensitivity, in delicate care. 

"I don't know why I'm crying," she sobbed. i placed my hand on her knee; no words were needed in such a precious moment where something hidden deep, piercingly painful and embedded for years was finally brought, like a very fragile breakable thing to be shown to me. "I have never told anyone this," she continued. What an incredible honour. And i love her more; i treasure her more. Suddenly, everything became clear. With something so pure, so delicate and precious, like a dove, i have learned and continue to learn how to steward with utmost gentleness, and the highest care. With respect. With love. Even though the Holy Spirit is mighty, a Warrior, He is also known as a dove that rests upon us.

We spent three and a half hours together, just talking. And found that we have been gifted with three and a half hours of true fellowship; three and a half hours of face to face, heart to heart where our hearts were knitted further together. Our relationship did not just happen. Our relationship is made up of years of building trust, practising openness, transparency and vulnerability. Honour, respect and care sown and continuously sown. Hours have been invested in building this relationship; i am after a friendship that lasts eternally. If you were to ask her, i am sure she could point to areas in me that finally made sense to her as well; areas where i have first uncovered as broken, as needing her undeserved grace, and understanding. i have to first be unafraid to bring my deeply embedded wounds, and trust her to steward what i uncover to her delicately. With respect. With love. Honourably.

What was also uncovered in three and a half hours was this wealth that is in her. A wisdom, dipped in real experiences that far exceed anything anyone can learn from books; something that no money can buy, or no years in a higher educational institute can give. i encouraged us both that even though God did not plan the events of our lives that brought so much pain into our lives, He sure can turn the work of the enemy against him; He sure can turn the very things meant to steal, kill and destroy us, accelerate and fast forward us into greater heights, greater strength, greater wisdom. We have, because of the foolishness of the enemy, been made to become so much sharper and so much wiser. We have, by the stupidity of the enemy, been ushered into becoming who we truly are. We have become a new breed of people who have come through the other end, not simple, not naive, not blind any more. We have been privileged to travel to work through gunk, to overcome ourselves, and recognise the need to continue to overcome the flesh, to see higher, look deeper, seek wisdom while many are still caught up with the superficial, surface and physical things; unaware, unconvinced that there is a far greater reality than the seen world. While many are still caught up in chasing temporal things, we are reaching for the eternal. We are a new breed of people who have tasted and known that whether we are doing well, or doing badly, our identity is always in Jesus, not in ourselves. We are not loved only because we succeed in Christ; we are loved fully because we are in Him. We are chasing our own breakthroughs believing that our breakthroughs will pioneer breakthrough in those around us. And this, i think is what makes men mighty. She is my Mighty Man serving alongside me; she has got something that i know is highly effective and lethal to the next stage of our warfare. i just need to draw it out, and continuously speak to strengthen and build it up. We have the keys to break people out of their prisons. The game has changed; we are to use a whole different set of strategies, different ways to come under the radar of the enemy, and outsmart him. It is time to tweak our thinking; it is time to not choose like Samuel did; the sons of Jesse all looked like kings, but only the one after His heart was God's choice.  

i chose the title Mighty Men after the mighty men that followed David. i wanted to write about how they were not known as David's mighty men before they were deemed mighty. They were known as the disgruntled men. The trouble makers. Those who nobody saw any good in. People who perhaps had been through much atrocities, and came out fighting everyone else. i told my friend that there was a point in my childhood that i turned the other way; i turned from a shy voiceless girl into a fighter, a wrestler. i told her how i was marked out, and groomed in my high school years to be the youngest leader ever in the girl guides troop i belonged to. Only, i refused; i rebelled. i would not allow any to dictate who i was going to become. i told her i fight, and i wrestle God often. i have fight within me. i can be a thorn; i am someone who pushes and challenges. i am the trouble maker; someone who will not conform easily, not give in readily. i was not going to be someone's pawn.

So, the question is: How did Disgruntled Men turn into Mighty Men? 

From the perspective of one who fights, and wrestles the Almighty often, one disgruntled, i can testify that the Almighty is awesome; He knows how to pursue me, to win me over to His side. He knows how to do true fellowship; of face to face, heart to heart times. My relationship with the Almighty did not just happen. He made sure that our relationship is made up of years of building trust and learning to be trustworthy; of me practising openness, transparency and vulnerability. To make sure honour, respect and care is sown and continuously sown. Hours have been invested in building this relationship; the Lord and i am after a friendship that will last eternally.

This morning, this is my revelation which forms my resolution: He has gifted us with people that we are to embrace; to pursue. i saw that if one woman whom i hardly knew five years ago can become such a treasure, only means that there are others whom He has graced me with. i determine to sow, to give, and build, to plant, and love, and continuously sow, pursue, give, build, plant, love. And honour. When i reached out to another this week, i was absolutely surprised by the warmth, and the hunger for friendship. i have decided that i will follow His lead, and seek out those He draws me to, and those drawn to me. Because there is so much more to what He is doing; so many dimensions and levels He is able to bring the Kingdom to. i am absolutely convinced that the standard of the Lord is so not the world's; those who catches His attention so not those that the crowd gathers to. i am absolutely convinced that God sees not as man sees; diamonds are made in great heat. Mighty men are those whom we want fighting alongside us in an invisible war. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Culture of Honour III

In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependant on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him - to honour, esteem, appreciate, prize, and in the human sense, to adore him, that is to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewellery, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. For it was thus that pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependant upon them]. It was thus Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority). And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you]. 
(1 Peter 3:1-6)

"A marriage is so much more than a man leading a woman," my husband said, "it is more than just a man wanting his own way, and the woman following behind." Like a dog? i thought in my mind. i know what my husband was trying to say; i know also how unequipped with words he must have felt to put forth the principles he stands upon. Man of little words that he is, he stopped at this sentence. Perhaps, he simply did not want to engage himself in something so abstract; something that volumes of materials have been written on, and experts have debated on for decades. 

We were at the kitchen table of close friends, casually chatting and remembering people in our lives whom we had not seen for a while, wondering how they were doing. We were told that the husband of a couple we know was taken out to coffee and squarely told to be a man, to take up his responsibility as head of the household, to lead his family to join a home group. i know this couple; i know this man.

In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honouring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you are] joint heirs of the grace (God's unmerited favour) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] (1 Peter 3:7)  

Every time i see this couple, or have the opportunity to share a meal or a casual chat with them both, i make an effort to compliment him on how an amazing husband he is. Which is the truth. The level of care, and consideration that he puts into serving his wife always astound me. He watches over her; he treasures her highly. i consciously points his strengths out in their presence; i purposely highlight his awesomeness in her hearing. He loves her, honours her everywhere, in every occasion. Perhaps, he is simply very good at laying down his life for the woman he loves, and the family that he lives for. Perhaps no one has highlighted to him the gentleness that he possesses; no one has seen the beauty that lays deep within and speak them forth to empower him; to lift him up and reinforce his identity, his true nature. Or, perhaps, the way we have viewed him, pointing out more his shortcomings, instead of his uniqueness has to be tweaked. Or, perhaps, the way we wanted him to do what we want him to do has to change. i always tell him: you are husband of the year! i think so. 

Because i believe, a marriage is not a dictatorship; a marriage is a love relationship, a laying down of one's life for the other; a partnership - the coming together of two very distinctively different, incomplete, complex and broken people needing grace, needing only what Jesus can do, sometimes fumbling, sometimes doing the best we know how, sometimes completely clueless in how to become one, how to move in harmony and in one accord towards a common goal. But, at the centre of both our hearts,  i am sure we all seek to build and plant something good, something phenomenal - something that our next generations will inherit. Therefore, is it possible that when we isolate a scripture verse, forgetting to view that verse in the context of His nature, in love (which is the desire for the highest good) for whom we speak to, without looking at the bigger picture, and leaning in to what the Spirit is saying, we may have taken something that is alive, something that has the potential for great transformation and turning it into something restrictive, binding, dead, and placing a heavy burden on someone who cannot help his brokenness. Cannot transform himself by his own strength or will power. Could it be that we have unconsciously put our brother into a position of greater guilt and shame; highlighting his so-called inability to govern his wife, and his family as we do. With a heavy hand. Without consideration, and honour? 

The rules have forever changed when Jesus came; the way we battle has forever been turned upside down when He died and rose again. The methods of a time passed, now expired no longer yield the outcome that we wished for. We no longer live under a covenant old and expired. In a supernatural, spiritual war, we need supernatural, spiritual weapons. We need an upgrade in our hearts; in our own freedom first. We need to know who we are, and whose army we belong to. We are now graced with the choice to choose if we represent the judge or the redeemer in our speech, in our actions. We get to choose if ours is the ministry of reconciliation or the ministry of the law. May we give in to the training for a war that is coming and has already come; may we be a people the world has never seen, the enemy has no hold upon.   

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Culture of Honour II

And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax-gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:29-32)

Walking towards the cafe with the ladies who had come to join us this particular morning for prayer, i came face to face with two people i knew. i smiled to acknowledge them. To my surprise, i was greeted with a look. If i was not mistaken, the look said, I can't believe you are having coffee with these people. 

True, the lady who visited this particular morning displayed the typical weirdness of a prophetic person. i would rather view her behaviour as something that she had learned; perhaps she had mistakenly thought that in a prophetic intercessory prayer meeting such as ours, this was the way to act, and this was the type of language to use. She meant no harm. Right from the Sunday before when she approached me to enquire about the prayer meetings that i lead, i sensed a lady seeking friendship, looking to belong. i welcomed her in. i received her insight into what we were praying about. i was not going to allow fear to govern the meeting. i was not going to let fear dictate my acceptance of a person looking to be received into our midst. After all, if i had allowed these learned behaviour or language to determined how i treat her, i would have allowed her actions to control me. i would also have modelled to my team that i was unable to discern what was going on or was unable to protect them or cover the church. i would have displayed an inability to steer the direction of the meeting or set the pace and atmosphere in the room. i would have fed fear into the atmosphere and flavoured my team a bias against people who act like her. Or dishonour people like her by teaching my team to avoid her, or alienate her. i would have bred an exclusive people who thought we were better than others, Only in war, are we exclusive commandos who give ourselves to be highly trained and effective. Only against spiritual powers are we superior, and part of the elite special task force. i have always wondered why would people choose to be at a place where they are not welcomed, their uniqueness not embraced? Why would people come if they do not feel they belong? Why would people stay if they are made to feel inferior? Why would people stay at a place where their differences or weirdness is highlighted and emphasized? Why would people come if they find themselves sitting alone week after week? Why would people join us if they are made to feel they are the odd one out, that they are different; that they are not good enough, not like others? On the outer.  

Taking this lady out to coffee was not an attempt to minister to her either; it was not a bridge building exercise to pave future rights to speak into her life, or to make her into a ministry project. It was simply because i liked her; i found her interesting. i simply wanted to get to know her better. She honoured me by deeming me worthy of her time, worthy to get to know better. i was not taking the role of Jesus when i invited the team to coffee; i was not taking the role of a physician trying to bring healing to those who are weird. i was a  fellow follower of Christ needing fellowship, needing to be honoured, as i honour them.  
  

Culture of Honour

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brother only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:44-48)

i was thirty years old, suddenly thrust into a world i had never been before. It was a long table that we were all seated at, in the middle of the kitchen. My new husband was on my left; a couple seated across, another couple on my right. The pastor whose home we had gathered at, sat at the head of the table. He did all the talking. i do not remember the content of his speech, but i remember the turmoil i felt within me. i remember the unrest or adverse disgust, and my reaction to what came out of his mouth. i reacted with arrogance and indifference. i rebelled. i wanted to stand up and leave immediately. At that time, at that age, under the control of such an overbearing person, perhaps twenty more years older than i, i fell straight into something completely alien to me; something that totally took me by surprise, and dumped me into a war i was unaware of. i was caught off guard, unprepared, untrained, ignorant, naive and completely unequipped.

I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put My spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by My commands. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

"It means," i taught my team, "i thank Him for what had happened to me. It means that i thank Him for the opportunity to see into my heart first, and allow Him to rid me of that yuck i am given the grace to see." i have changed, transformed by the renewing of my mind. i have learned and continue to learn to be thankful for everything that had happened to me. i learned to leave the unexplainable to Him; i love how He is both intimate and mysterious at the same time. i trust Him completely. i praise Him that there must be something in me, in us that is a huge threat to the enemy; why else would he attack us right at the beginning - when we were babes. i thank Him that i get to see; to not be ignorant of my need to be renewed daily; that i get to begin training and know intimately the wisdom that i would never had thought was available to me. i thank Him that my journey, or the path He establishes for me is uniquely fashioned for me to prepare, equip and train me to be who He already sees me as. Even this unexplainable, very painful stretch. In other words, i take up, and put on, i adorn myself with the call He has upon my life; i refuse to fall into the bait of the enemy to camp at self-pity. Or self-justification. i have moved on.

i have been pondering on this post for days, not too sure how i was going to approach it. Or how to present what is upon my heart. My humanly, naturally feisty side wanted to write about how awful this man was; how warped, twisted and hurt his heart was. i wanted to correct what was unsound, unlike Jesus. And i found i no longer am able to. Even though i can see them now, it does not mean i should, or am given the permission to point out another's faults, or deception. Sure, it would totally soothe years of anguish, or bring vindication to my vengeful soul. But, i found i can no longer do so. i have tasted that the Lord is good, and His mercies extend to the heavens. If i purpose in myself to dwell, or find myself only seeing the negatives; that i obsess only with what is wrong or warped or lacking or immature in others, i have allowed myself to tilt towards one side, and become imbalanced in my assessment of people. If i point my finger at people and accuse them of their faults, i have taken the role of the accuser. i have become the enemy's agent. When we knife at one another, pick at petty things, and highlight the negatives, we have become the devil's advocates.

What if honour is more than heaping attention on people for what they do? For if we only honour people for what they do, would we teach people that they are only valuable for what they do; would we teach people to be all about their performances; would we breed a people who strive to outdo each other? Would we have shifted people's attention from their identity to their performances? There was a slogan a few years ago that had crept into our midst: No one is indispensable. In other words, no one is beyond replacement. Would we be saying: people are cheap; their contribution readily available, easy to replace. Would we indirectly promote a culture that says what a person brings into our midst is measurable, their value is conditional by what they do, or how they do it? Would we breed a people who are obedient, and controllable; would we be seeking to clone ourselves, really? When we do that, would we be missing out big time on the wonder and the wealth of a varied and vast pool of fascinating personalities. Of who people really are. i understand the adoption of such a slogan was an attempt to keep people from growing a big head, but could it be that it has bred a culture of the world, of this age. Disposable things. Convenient and fast.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

What if honour is so much more than what we understand it to be? What if it is beyond an outer behaviour, but is an ingrained, or cultivated heart condition? What if honour is like grace, something that we extend to people regardless of what they do, who they are or where they have been? It means, i can come to a place where i can honour a great man, and at the same time honour a sinful man; that in my heart, when it comes to honour, i have not placed them both in different categories, or by my self-righteousness, give more honour to one, and less to another. What if honour is something that we grow, and we practice and we usher into our midst? What if it is a looking beyond the skin, not counting people by their flesh any more, and seeking deeper, reaching further into the honourable in people and call that forth? It is definitely, for me, a challenge. It demands me to humble myself, to come low and see into that which many times is hidden from our naked eye. A lot of times, we are unaware that our actions, and what is unspoken speaks so much louder than our words.

As a thirty year old, i was nauseated by how poorly we could critique and label people in secret, and then was pushed to work very hard to make them stay. For certain, i did not want to stay in that poisonous environment where people were not valued at all.        

Saturday, July 5, 2014

To Set Captives Free III

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer, and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (1 Timothy 1:12-15)

After ministering to the lady, we embraced one another and ended the meeting. Then i invited the whole team to coffee. She accepted the invitation, joined me and those who could for coffee at the cafe across the street. We shared life as women, as mothers, as wives. We laughed, and talked of a range of things. Light hearted. Fun. There is no hierarchy; everyone is on a journey of learning grace, learning His goodness, experiencing Him and the transformation only He can bring. i will not take credit or become prideful for what He has done for me; i was once blind, and in a messed up place too. i was once self-righteousness, self-conscious and was entangled in false humility as well. i know the magnitude of grace and of mercy that i have received; and how much He has worked in me, in my life. And i am still journeying towards greater levels of freedom so abundantly and readily available to me. i have determined in my heart to receive His grace in meekness and thankfulness; i have decided to never give in to a better-than-thou attitude. i make an effort to constantly check my heart to never give place to such a spirit. A religious Pharisaic spirit, really.   

The above verses have been etched into my heart; one of my life verses, i guess. These are the verses which i anchored my Me first, Lord resolution upon. i am Chief Sinner first. It is a place i have arrived at and continuously arrive at. It is for me, a celebration of His grace. And it teaches me true humility and true meekness. For i have learned and continue to learn how to love people who are entrapped by impure spirits. i am learning and continue to learn what it means to love those who cannot set themselves free. i believe that to discipline without love is punishment. And to bring correction without extending reconciliation is not of the Spirit of God. i believe that a spirit that isolates people, and separates people into groups and sub-groups, in a pyramid, in a merit system is highly religious and evil. i believe we are called into the ministry of reconciliation, not of segregation. And i believe He has already equipped us to battle this spirit. If only we would listen to Him; if only we will give in to the training of the Lord in love and in wisdom. To recognise who are our true enemies, and who are the people He loves. To know His heart; to partner with Him, and not fall into becoming the enemy's agents. i write this with the conviction that God does not punish. He exhorts, rebukes, and admonishes but always in the context of learning, becoming more and growing. The Father develops us in such a wonderful way that even chastisement makes us feel extraordinarily loved. It is in this context, in the intimate knowledge of His extravagant love for me that i can proclaim that i am Chief Sinner. 

Have you come across a message or a word, and for some reason, the message/word leaves you deflated, lacking, condemned? Or bored? It feels stale, or lifeless even though it is sound, from the written word of God? Somehow, the interpretation of the word of God feels flat, or from another season; from a time past and has now expired? Or a duplication, a copy? i am on a quest to find this out. i am in no way critiquing this amazing weapon of the Lord, or those whom He has set up to battle this way to set captives free. i am merely thinking aloud here what has been stirring in my heart. i am in no way discouraging those who are called this way. In fact, i am calling out to carriers of the word of the Lord to a higher plane; i am exhorting us to search for an upgrade in carrying the heart of the Lord this way! i am thinking aloud for my own learning, for me to become a more excellent carrier of His message/word. My heart is: Me first, Lord. The true flavour of the Kingdom of God is this: It is a safe place of rest and peace for us to develop; it is a place of joy for us to cultivate the gifts and talents He has graced us with; it is a place where encouragement rules, where we spur one another on to greater heights, to greater growth, to extol one another to become sharper, to become true warriors of the Lord who are excellent in wielding the sword that He has given us, for the destruction of the kingdom of darkness. The Kingdom of God is a place of true acceptance, of celebrating one another's strengths and talents,; a place to give people that freedom to exercise their gifts, to grant people the freedom to fail, and to extend to people the grace to develop; it is a place where we learn what it is like to be loved, to be valued and accepted; a place where we live in a grand family called the Family of God. i believe that even in chastisement, we further uncovers His heart; when we discipline, we further affirm people of His love for us. We are in the business of bringing the Kingdom of God into this realm, cancelling out all that is darkness. When we are living in His Kingdom, when the King is for us, who can be against us. We become unstoppable!  

Could it be that when we speak or preach without first knowing the condition of our own hearts, without the true understanding of the flavour of the Kingdom of God, without first coming in humility and coming in true experiences of how incredibly we have first been loved, been touched, and cleaned, and forgiven that the message/word is self-righteous, is condemning, and judgemental? It has all the flavouring of an enemy of the Lord who hates the people whom He loves deeply. i have seen people tied up in pride, in a better-than-thou spirit deceived that because of the conferences, or bible courses, or head knowledge that they have accumulated, or the talents graced upon them, or the position bestowed upon them, or the idol-like worshipping by those around them, sit unmoved when the Spirit moves. i see them too proud to admit they need His touch, or His cleaning, or Him to heal and rid them of the influence of unclean spirits. In their warped, and untransformed mind, they have arrived and no longer need to humble themselves. They no longer soften their hearts or allow their hearts to receive the upgrade that the Lord longs to give us, the next level of freedom available to us all that by their foolishness, they may have missed.  

Therefore, because of this gift that i have learned to treasure, because of this grace to see, i come fearfully, and solemnly to His feet, soften my heart, and humble myself. Lord, me first. Let me carry the touch of Your hand first. Let me see Your face first. Let me be the one to repent of my alignment with lying spirits first. Let me be the first to breakthrough in this area. Then perhaps, if You are willing, and if You see fit, i can by the knowledge of what Your hands feels like; i can by the intimacy of what Your face looks like, by the experience of how incredible Your love and mercy is, maybe, i can be the one privileged to set others free. i am the one who need Your message first. i am the one who need Your grace first. i am a captive set free. i am a captive needing to be continuously set free. That the message/word You give will sink into my heart first. May Your kingdom come, and flood mightily into my life first. May Your will be done firmly in my life first!  

God is a Restorer, not a Mr Fixit. i take great pains to make sure i do not fall into that lie of being too high in my thinking that i no longer need Him. Or need those He has surrounded me with for my protection. May i never think that i no longer need an upgrade or the next level of freedom only He can bring.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

To Set Captives Free II

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up, and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

In the space of perhaps five minutes as she shared why she coveted our prayers, she displayed a range of emotions, from disgust to indignant to weeping. Self-righteous. Self-justifying. Then self-pity. Attention seeking. She seriously thought she was doing God a huge favour, and by her actions, by her stance against a perceived wrong expressively, and perhaps unkindly and religiously, she had attracted persecution and/or spiritual attacks. Moments before, i had just blessed the team, prayed for all of us as we ended our Wednesday morning prayer. The meeting was good. i was full of hope, still tingling with the goodness of God, thankful for His presence. i was ready to invite everyone to a cup of coffee, when she asked the team to pray for her.
  
i looked at my right-hand (wo)man, and i could see that she felt exactly as i did. We both saw through it all. This lady was not a stranger to us as she used to join us. We had our meetings on Tuesdays then. She left the church perhaps two or three years ago, and has now come back. We knew her. The main story has always been the same. Only the contents and the characters change. Her reaction or the root causes for her reaction is still the same. Because of these embedded and deeply rooted things, her decisions, or actions or chain of thoughts are always flavoured this way. All these years, she has remained the same; she had not grown nor changed at all from the time she was with us. She has not been transformed by the renewing of her mind. 

The good news is, we have! The good news is, we could immediately recognize those foul things; we could immediately see so clearly and name them. i was astounded and so greatly encouraged by how far we have come, and how much we have grown. We have become so much stronger, and sharper. We have overtaken many without realizing it. We were unafraid; we gently, calmly spoke truth. We firmly spoke the written word of God, uncovered lies and every warped place. We disallowed those things a place in the atmosphere. We gave no place or foothold for those things in our talk. Our language has expanded and become richer; the way we war has been enriched. We were like warriors, but at the same time mothers. We prayed for her, spoke His written word over her to spear down every thought, and put them squarely in their places in Christ Jesus. We proclaimed Him, concentrating on Him, His nature, what He is like. What a tremendous experience the Lord has granted us to reaffirm us; He gave us a very safe place to practice being like Him, strong, yet loving at the same time. Uncompromising when it came to spiritual oppression.

This is what leading an intercessory prayer team looks like for me. i lead it with the heart of God, in great wisdom and discernment. Leaning upon those He has given to support me. This is for me what accountability looks like; i am not a Lone Ranger. i have trusted people whom i choose carefully to walk alongside me; people whom i can counter check what i see or sense. Together, we grow as we learn from one another. We value and accept people, no matter who they are, or where they have been, but we will not welcome spiritual powers that deceive them. In war, love is married to wisdom.