Monday, July 28, 2014

Fathered III

And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of  His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church). [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
 
It means for me, that God has given me men and women as gifts to come alongside me as i come alongside them, to grow me to that targeted place - the measure of the stature (bodily height) of the fullness of Christ. He gives me people to walk alongside me to that destination or that marked place i aim all my heart, all my running towards. To embrace these verses means i will from now onwards since i have seen, embrace people as gifts; i will from now onwards view people with honour, with thankfulness. How awesome it is when His word brings so much clarity and in an instant, brings a whole new perspective and transform an old way of seeing into a new way of understanding.
 
i have seen people approach these verses in churches preoccupied with the race to secure a place in one of these five offices; people spend so much to establish which box they fall into. i have seen people seeking their identity in the terminologies; they seek one of these five titles to define them or give meaning, give significance to what they do. Could it be that by doing this, they have been distracted, or diverted and have missed the heart (or the life) of these verses; they have overlooked the intention God gifted the church with people whom we call apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (And i agree completely with Him by how He has named and set these gifts into our midst, and i honour those the church recognises as holding these offices. What i am attempting to axe at is an attitude or a spirit not inline with Kingdom culture). Perhaps, in the jostling and elbowing to exert their spiritual gifts to earn the recognition of men, some may have proved themselves still babes, like young children who seek the attention of others. Like little kids who call out to their parents, "Look at what I can do." Such behaviour is understandable for those still green, still young, still learning new skills in the Kingdom. It only gets a little disturbing when we see a forty year-old acting like a four year-old. Perhaps some may have created a culture not of the Kingdom by refusing to accept anyone lower than where they perceive they have arrived at. They may not have learned that it is God who establishes us; it is Christ Himself who set aside men and women as according to the measure of His gift (Ephesian 4:7-8). If we are not aware, we may become like the mother of Jesus' disciples entreating Him to let her sons sit on His left and right without fully understanding the cost, the cup or the weight of those seats right beside Him. Some may have allowed themselves to only see and seek the glory or the adulation or attention of the crowd and forget that without His enabling power (grace), they will not have what it takes to hold up, stand at or sit in any place He has not established them in.  They may have forgotten that He is a good Businessman; He chooses very carefully whom He places to watch over His Business (Matthew 25;14-30). He is a wise King; He chooses very wisely whom to set over which domain to co-rule with Him, as according to the measure of Christ's gift.
 
How good and pleasant it is that Christ has come to present us another way, a better and more excellent way. What we do is not what defines us. We are defined simply by His life, by His love for us. Let us return and align ourselves with His true intention again; let us align ourselves with His heart in these verses, and put away that which distracts or diverts us. Let us come back to listen for His direction, to give ourselves into working together with the Spirit and with one another for the equipping of each other. Let us aim at that same targeted place of oneness, to come to a common goal to grow and mature into that bodily height which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Let us become wise, and not na├»ve to know that  when a call has been proclaimed, or uncovered; when He has chosen to set us apart for Himself, there will follow a time of continuous preparation, of continuous training, of continuous development and of continuous testing. Let us not be simple to think that we are already perfect because sometimes, we will learn the same lesson over and over again because He is a good Businessman. He is a good King. Let us not be foolish to assume that we are already complete because sometimes, we will be tested on the same area over and over again, because He is a good Father. Ironically, the more i walk with Him, the more i am beginning to find that it is by the growing knowledge of His nature and His heart that i learn how to manoeuvre the training, the development and the tests necessary for the building of who i already am in His sight. In other words, it is in the learning to know Him that i discover the keys to my development, to my growth, to my passing the tests i face. And visa versa. God is awesome like that; He is great at fathering us like that.   
 
 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fathered II

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the statute which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
 
i chose these three verses because these are the three verses i am meditating on at the moment. i was blessed on Saturday to receive prayer with many good word spoken and prayed over me. Most of them i remember; most i treasure and hide within me. Not one more prominent over the other; only i am dwelling on a phrase and a word. i love that the word of God is not one dimensional; that i am invited to think deeply on them, and go on a dialogue with the Holy Spirit to seek out more. To seek His word to uncover more. The phrase spoken was: To equip the saints. And the word given was: Stature. Both led me to these verses above.
 
In my walk with Jesus thus this far, i have learned and continue to learn that when a directional word, or a "future" word is given, i treat it as a first jigsaw piece or a first clue or a first step to more to come. i think deeply upon, and seek it out by the Spirit. And i ready myself to show myself a good steward of His word; i show Him i accept and treasure His word by giving myself into the preparation or the development of the person whom God proclaimed and already sees me as. i ask and continue to ask What does this mean? What shall i do? What will i look like? In other words, i show myself willing to work with Him; i put action or work to my faith. When God has now proclaimed that i will be privileged to equip the saints, it will mean i give myself into the training and the preparation to do just this. i lean in to Him, following closely and listening diligently, careful not to input my pre-conceived ideas, or learned image of what that person should look like, to come up with an already fixed picture. i make myself flexible and pliable in His hands. i ready myself for adjustments, and readjustments. Or alignment and realignment. In other words, i am on a journey to find out, constantly allowing myself to be moulded to fir Him, to suit Him, to do what He wants, to fulfil the desire of His heart.
 
This place called Just do what I want you to do has, since the last post been expanded, or another dimension of it has been revealed. It is not just a place of true rest, it is a place we lose ourselves; it is where we no longer live our lives for ourselves. It is an understanding that all the greatness that God has intended for us to achieve is not for us; we become great for others, for those who will come after us. It is a place where He arrest our hearts and we find ourselves crying out for more, not for ourselves, but for those we have identified as our sons and our daughters in His kingdom. Our journey is for those who will come after us; our breakthrough will be for the next generation. We are reaching for all that God has for us, not for our own reputation; we are running for the benefit of those will come after us. We know that even this captivation or the arresting of our hearts is a gift, a privilege; something that has not originated within us. It is a supernatural love or a supernatural desire for the highest good for another. And it moves us to yearn or call or pray or long for our sons and daughters to have more than we will ever receive and to go further than we will ever go. We recognise this weight or this drawing within us as the highest honour we receive from the King Himself. To receive a heart like His - a father's heart, for me, is the highest honour. Ever.
 
For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25)
 
In the grand and sovereign plan of God, this place of living no longer for ourselves, living to do what He bids us to do is freedom in the purest. This place where we are graced to have a heart like His, to love like Him, to lift others unto our shoulders so they may stand taller, and shine is the highest honour. Because this is the place we discover who we truly are; this is the place we come face to face with our true identity. Suddenly, the above verse made a whole lot of sense. And we find ourselves fathered by the King Himself. And that! is the highest honour. Ever.
 
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fathered

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:14-17)
 
"Just do what He wants you to do," my husband said. i know him; he said this to comfort me, to encourage me, because he loves me, because he felt badly for me. This was not the first time i had been confronted with such news. This time, i understood; i finally got it. Like a double edged sword, like the summing up of every time i was pushed down, to face and battle the same temptation, this time, i completely and fully comprehend the work that He had been doing in me all these years. Simple. Just do what I want you to do. And that! is freedom. Like a huge load lifted off my shoulders. i get! i have finally escaped by the training of the Lord a very subtle prison; i finally understand how all along, each time i overcome the temptation to be offended, to quit and run or to fight and wrestle, i was being moved into this place of true freedom. i overcame immediately because i have arrived to a place where i know all i have to worry about is what He wants me to do.
 
i must admit this Just do what I want you to do has not been easy for me. i had done it rebelliously; kicking and screaming. i had done it fighting and wrestling Him. i had done it half heartedly. i had done it just because i was told to. i had done it unconvinced that i should do it. i had done it with impure motives. But somehow, He always managed to get to me, and i obeyed. Because i loved Him. Because He was precious. i did what He wanted me to do because i could not imagine not being on talking terms with Him. i feared offending Him or losing Him more than anything. i often did what He wanted me to do thinking, "Lord, why should i?"
 
How far i have come. How much He has by His gentleness and pure genius walked with me, moved me, used His living word to transform me by the renewing of my mind. And now, i have overcome, and have arrived at a place where i cannot be bought or sold; i am nobody's person. i have come to faith where i cannot escape Him; i cannot walk out of His hands. i have come to where God is for me; where i no longer fear what can man do to me. My life is His. It is a place of true rest. While others chase after temporal things, and fleeting loves, i am pressing into what i already own; i am running after what i have already inherited. And i am beginning to understand how He fathers me. i have arrived at this place where i trust Father to establish me; i have given up all rights to shape myself as according to my own desires.
 
In the process of allowing God to father me, surprisingly, i find myself. He establishes me. He gives definition to who i am; He establishes my identity. Strangely, in giving in to Him, in trusting Him, i am learning rest. In giving up control, i find rest. And rest is a cultured place; rest is a nurtured place. A habit. A lifestyle. A conscious training; a discipline. Funny how we equate training and discipline with exertion, but with Him, in Him, it is the opposite because we can only sufficiently rest in Him. Not in ourselves, not in another, not in things or situations. It is a place that even when in the fiercest warfare we are at peace. We are at rest. Therefore, i have learned and continue to learn that rest is a very powerful spiritual weapon in warfare. Rest supersedes all other way to battle the enemy! 
 
i purposed to title this post Fathered, because in the grand and sovereign plans of God, i learned that He fathers me through people. In other words, i do not learn Him in a vacuum, or in isolation. He fathers me through relationships because it is good and pleasant, it pleases Him when brothers dwell together in unity, doing relationships excellently. And it is in this messy business of doing relationships excellently that we find ourselves overcoming our prisons, our weights, our entanglements, our inertias, and find that all we truly need to worry about is what He wants us to do.   

Fathering People

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing, and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience, and instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)

When i received a text from her asking if i was free on Tuesday, i thought my catchup with her would be a quick coffee. i ended up being at her home for seven hours while our kids played together. In that seven hours, we spoke of a range of things, but most of our conversations were centred on the intercessory ministry. It felt as if she was picking and gleaming as much as she could from the five years i have led the intercessory team at my church. She has only been placed in that position at the start of this year, hers a very young church. i found myself smiling a lot because her experiences reminded me of the lessons that i had to learn on this journey; i could see how far i have come. And i have the words ready in season and out of season to share with her. i have this wealth that i had gathered and gleamed from all these years of leading my team. Suddenly, i understood: my journey is not for me; what i have acquired is for those who will come after me. It confirms to me that my gifts are meant for others; i am here for the benefit of others.

i see the two books of Timothy as Fathering books; they are, for me intimate letters that a father writes to his son. They are full of directions and instructions written from the foundation of a robust and loving relationship. They are words written with love, full of heart. In them, Paul writes to present human leadership that comes under the leadership of a very present and sovereign God. In other words, where does human leadership fit in, and how does it look like for Christians who are living in a robust and current relationship with a God who creates and guides, saves and heals, corrects and blesses, calls and judges. Paul writes of the spiritual leadership representing Jesus as inconspicuous, not calling attention to itself but not sacrificing anything in the way of conviction and firmness as well. In these letters, Paul encourages and guides the development of such leadership. What he has learned so thoroughly himself, he is now passing on, and showing Timothy in turn how to develop a similar leadership in local congregations.

i think i had a tiny brush with what that felt like on Tuesday. What an honour it was. Fathering people, i am learning is sometimes like running ahead of them, or having travelled before them, we turn to come alongside them to guide them around the potholes that we had stumbled on; pointing out to them attitudes to avoid. Sharing the secrets and wisdom of how to guard our hearts, to keep our hearts pure; how to keep love in the work that we do, and not burn out. It is being unafraid to share where we had fallen, and giving them the treasures of how we overcome that fall to stand up again. Really, i learned, fathering people is having a robust, living and authentic relationship with the one God has privileged us to come alongside. It is a relationship mutually stewarded with honour and respect, with utmost care and joy. It is a relationship lived out excellently. i believe, this is what relationships in the Kingdom looks like.   

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.