Monday, September 1, 2014

Fullness

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesian 3:14-19)
 
There are people whom i love to converse with. Even though it is through personal messages that sometimes take a few days for an answer to reach me. i am one of those dorky people who still believe in hand written letters sent snail-mailed in an envelope. i am currently having a lively conversation with a friend who lives in another country in another time zone. We are chatting about living life here and now in the place we have come to call home. He is sharing the difficulty of responding rightly, if not in a Christ-like manner, during family confrontations. His story is the story of three brothers who share a successful family business with an ageing father who has remarried a younger woman after their mother passed away. We are dialoguing on how to walk in love and wisdom in our day to day lives, making decisions that impact us and those around us. In other words, do we suck it up, lay down our selves, let go, or do we stand firm in our conviction? Each situation calls for a different respond. Many times, we are caught in the moment and do not listen out for Him. And we react.  
 
We do not have a firm answer; that is why it is a dialogue. This is why our conversing is refreshing because we both fumble, sometimes breaking through, sometimes falling short. Easier said than done is what we like to say to each other. We are highly aware of our huge need for the Holy Spirit. We are hugely aware that we are far less than being perfect as Christians.
 
So, is it like giving the left cheek as well when someone slaps us on the right cheek? i wrote, How do you see this? And what does true humility looks like in my daily life? These are questions i am desperately seeking. i need something more than good words; i am seeking more even though i do not really know what exactly i am looking for. 
 
His answer surprised me. He presented me a whole different perspective on giving the left cheek, on humility. He showed me another side to look at something that i had been taught many times in churches.
 
A lot of people seek the breadth, the length and the height of being in Christ. i am one of them. i want to live wide and long for Jesus; i want to reach for the highest peaks for Him. i have grand ideals; i have great faith. It is a gift, a privilege to have a belly full of zeal; to be able to see the positives and believe. Today, i am suddenly given another perspective; i am suddenly given the hope that there is more. i am presented with the realization that perhaps to reach higher, i should first go deeper. It is the concept that to build up, to go high, one must first go low, dig deep to build a firm foundation. Of course, the picture that comes to mind immediately when we see the word Deeper is the exercise of digging deeper theologically. Perhaps, there is more. If we know who He is, we know that He is a God who looks not as man sees; His thoughts are not like ours. Today, i suddenly found that giving the left cheek has a whole different side to it. i suddenly find true humility has another facet. Therefore, i wonder, in order to realize or to comprehend the fullness of what i already possess, i wonder, if it is for me to learn or to re-learn again, and again, what it looks like, and what it means to come low, to come deep, to come unseen, be undone again. And again. And again. And again...    

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Business of Being Christian

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a certain man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, "Look at us!" And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene - walk!" And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened. And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened. (Acts 3:1-10)

I
i first saw her at the front door coming in with her husband. i recognized her as one who had received prayer the night we hosted a travelling minister with a healing anointing. This was their second week back after that night where she was miraculously touched by God. There was a marked and obvious change on her face, as if a dark mist had been lifted off her. She looked different, but i could not articulate what had changed. i wanted to welcome them, but i was with a lady going through some challenges.

It is our custom at church to invite people to come forth for prayer in the middle of the service. As people streamed forth for prayer, i waited to see if i was needed. i saw her come forward. When no one was free to come alongside her, i went to stand with her. She pointed to her ear, and said something about her hearing. i could not really hear her, or understand her because we were standing right under the speaker where the music was blasting. i prayed for complete healing; i asked for the fullness of what Jesus had come to give her. She told me she could not hear me because of the music. i felt i had nothing to give her; i did not have the healing anointing that the minister possesses. i gave her what i had; i told her what i could see. i told her i could see tremendous changes already happening on her; i told her that the life of Jesus has already started touching every part of her. i encouraged her to press into the fullness of His work, to believe in progressive healing that will continue. Her face lit up, and she hugged me. Thank you, she said.

When i went back to my seat, my heart ached. i hungered for what i did not have. i longed for that supernatural power to erase every evil, ungodly work that had crippled her. i yearned for something that i have yet to understand or experience. i cried out for more.

II
When i saw both husband and wife come forth, i was hoping someone else would go forth to them because i had prayed with the wife before. i was hoping that i could pray with someone different this morning. When no one was free to come alongside them, i went to them. He informed me of his need. His wife was there for her own need. I need a miracle, he said. As i placed my hand on his left shoulder, i felt grief upon his heart. i felt the Holy Spirit wanting to address this wound; i felt Him wanting to speak and bring healing to his heart. Standing under the speaker, where the music was blasting, it was difficult to present the tenderness of the heart of God having to shout, or speak in a forceful way. Thank you, he said; his eyes thankful, hopeful, but broken. He needed a miracle, and i was not able to give that miracle to him.

i went back to my seat and my heart ached. i hungered for what i lacked. i longed for that supernatural power, more than kind but powerful words to instantly erase every evil, and ungodly work that had so wounded him. i wished for the ability to grant him his miracle. i yearn for that something so much more than what i know or more than what i have now. 

When i started blogging, i purposely made it a point to omit my identity. i did it with the intention to protect the people i write about. In God's grand scale of things, i have now come to see this as His hand or His grace on me. i am meant to enjoy the freedom of not having to live my life about me. My life is about Him; i am living for Him to be seen, to be known. To be experienced. i am not living or writing or doing to be seen or to be known; i am not meant to live my life working to be famous or followed. i cannot make my relationship with Jesus into a business. It shreds my heart into minute strips to think i could use intimacy with the Lord for my own gain, for my own reputation. It means, whenever i identify this subtle motivation of my heart, i turn the other way. i seek the opposite. i have come to a place where my heart aches for more; i cannot afford to live solely for myself any more. i am desperate for more than what i have now. Because it pains me to not be able to represent Him sufficiently and effectively. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lamb II

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.' (Acts 17:28)

In Him we live, sister. In Him we live, he wrote. Strangely everything inside of me turned as if i had just smelt stale bread. His intention was to promote to me that faith should not affect our emotions. In other words, my faith in his eyes is too emotional. For a while it troubled me. Life with Jesus, for me involves my emotions. i feel love for Him and i feel tangibly His love for me. i love the word of God and i love engaging my mind when i think deeply upon His word, leaning heavily upon the Holy Spirit for His input on what i think about. But, most definitely, life with the Holy Spirit for me, is not void of my emotions. Life with Jesus is life with a Person.

i shared this turmoil with a friend. And he wisely wrote: The only thing I would say "not" to share would be something one feel is truly personal between oneself and God. Each person has to listen to the Holy Spirit and figure that out for themselves. I've only recently begun guarding those treasures with Him. I didn't see it before as something truly "personal" that I was divulging that He might not want shared, like secrets between friends. His words cut like a knife, yet at the same time brought so much comfort. This is the wisdom that Jesus had. This is the wisdom that i am learning not only in my relationship with Jesus, but with those who are precious to me. Treasured friends are those whom i communicate in personal one-to-one messages, in face-to-face conversations. Treasured friends do not live their friendship out in public for all to see. True friends know how to guard one another; true friends guard the treasures shared between them.

i was going to title this post The Business of Being Christian because i was thinking deeply on the spirit behind what this man wrote. He is an accountant, an ordinary man with a family who attends church every Sunday. The question i had was: Why did this one phrase feel so stale; like a learned slogan? Like the slogan of a business. Could it be that life as a Christian to him is this, a business? Is he a professional Christian; someone who has made being Christian a profession, a business? i know what it is like to have a job, and to work in a business; i do not take my work home. i leave my place of work when i come home.

This is what i meant when i wrote: Life with Jesus is not a business. Jesus lives with me; He comes home with me. And i go everywhere with Him. It is Lordship, and so much more. It is Friendship.      

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lamb

Go your ways; behold I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (Luke 10:3)
 
"The boss has given me a raise," my husband said casually as he dropped his things onto the kitchen bench. i turned to look at him, suspicious that perhaps i had misheard him. If i was not mistaken, it was perhaps a week ago that he walked in from the garage the same way, at about the same time, dropping his things on the same spot, to inform me of the good news of being offered full time employment.When he took this job, we were surprised to find he was offered the same wage he was on as warehouse manager a year ago - a job he had worked at for seven years. This meant, in an instant, he was fully restored to what he earned previously. i was already completely astounded and i marvelled at how awesome and exact the pay figure was. Every natural sign in the months when he was seeking employment taunted that there was no way he would get that kind of money. Every natural circumstance physically, socially, and logically was working against him. Every natural voice was offering sympathy, secretly unconvinced that at his age, with what he does, he would not get what he was earning before. i did not know then, but i know now, that i was presented with choices to choose which signs to look at, which voices to listen to. Months earlier, before we received the news of his entrenchment, while i was driving into the garage, i heard a word. This word presented me with the realization that the only way this promise was going to come to pass has to be the work of a Super Person. i was not given some abstract philosophy or airy concept to anchor my choices upon; i was given a living word to keep on keeping on. Even before everything blew up in our faces. Did i sway, did i falter, did i doubt? Yes. Did i seek the easy way out, and wished for quick relieve? Yes. i testify i only came through the other end because a Supernatural God relentlessly, and stubbornly loved me; a God who has a higher purpose for me than our comfort; a God who has a plan for something more than feeding this family, and keeping a roof over our heads. He was after that which was so much deeper than surface changes. The supernatural work that He has done within me, i have come to truly treasure, is achieved most effectively in such times. Times where i lose all the illusion of control.   
           
"He is very pleased with my work," my husband added. i could only manage a wow; i was completely floored. My heart had already been wrangled in all my wrestling with the Almighty that it was now putty in His hands. This Super Person has surpassed phenomenally my requests and my imaginations. Suddenly, i find myself in this position where i have lost all rights to doubt Him; i have lost all privileges to question His love for me. 
 
One of the most quoted verses of all time may be The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. It is a slogan, an anthem that Christians sing. Only recently, i have learned and continue to learn that there is more. My journey to this point has taught me that it is one thing to call Him my Shepherd, it is quite another to be a lamb before God. Too many people love having Him as Shepherd, but not many will take the position of a lamb. There are secrets of the Kingdom that only the wise will get. There are riches in the Kingdom that only a lamb will enjoy.
 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beloved Son III

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

When my husband did our tax return for the last financial year this week, he discovered that our combined income from July 2013 to June 2014 has been significantly lesser than the previous year. What astounded both of us is that we did not feel the lack or the decrease one bit. In fact, we felt quite wealthy; we lived not having to skimp or scrounge. On top of that, we felt we had more than we needed. What we had given out as love offerings has all returned to us bit by bit, in all sorts of unexpected and unsuspecting ways. Suddenly, we have now come to the end of this financial year in awe of how we have travelled here without worry or striving, and discover a marked change in our perspective on this area of our lives. Something has shifted profoundly and supernaturally within us; a lid or a limitation has been lifted off over us in this area. This has been the most restful year we have had in our marriage. Despite the circumstances, we have been privileged to experience what being a Beloved Son feels like. We have experienced a breakthrough without realizing it.

It confirms who He is and what He is like - He is superior in every way; He is above all. The good news is: The Bible says we live where He lives. This morning, i confirm this truth.

Life as a Beloved Son, i have learned and am privileged to continue to learn is a journey where we continuously live in a place of discovering how He delights in us. In other words, life with Jesus is about learning or living out a life of God's delight and affirmation. Life with Him, therefore, is joyful, restful. Abundantly supplied. Being Beloved is about worshipping a God we know and continue to know. It is about reinventing our lives in Him and before Him or realigning or renewing our spirits and minds in Him. Being Beloved is staying loved and delighted in, staying steadfast in this love. It is about being stubbornly fixed on who He is, what He says and who we are in Him. In other words, it is a continuous and giant realigning of our central attention or fixation. And suddenly, we discover being Beloved is about discovering our story is about Him.  And that is true freedom. This morning, i confirm this truth.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beloved Son II

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

"I have been confirmed," he said, dropping his lunchbox, car key and wallet on the kitchen bench. Standing at the stove, stir-frying a meat dish, i turned around to look at him. And smiled. It was not a surprise. In all the places he had worked as a casual worker in the last months since he lost his job, every one of them had asked if he would like to work full-time for them. Each one looked good to me. In the natural, that was. Only he was stubbornly not convinced in his spirit that these places of employment were what God wanted for him. i was only surprised that the offer for full-time employment at this current place had come way earlier than i expected. He was on a three-month probation period, and he had only worked for them for less than a month.

"The big boss said he is very pleased with my work," he said. Laughing he continued, " Funny thing is, he has been away for his holidays for the last two weeks."
"So," i said, "people have been talking about you then."
"Yes, people have been talking about me."

People often ask what were my thought processes, or what things inspire my art. In other words, what was i thinking when i was painting a particular work. When i was younger, full of zeal, completely idealistic, and self-righteous, my art was heavily laden with convictions. i was a young person suddenly thrust into an environment where i was encouraged to discover my voice, and how to exert that voice. i was very much like those around me in that era at art school; we were encouraged to be self appointed prophets preaching through our art what we thought were society's ills. i completely love and appreciate those gung-ho, courageous days. i love the bigness of our dreams, and our grand ideals to bring change, to start a sort of revolution. We were taught or given the impression that good art, or great art to that circle of people, led by a teacher who had been to America, was that Art had to say something very important. Something deep and profound. Preferably something that targeted great human injustice, even better if there was a lot of pain and gory details. There was nothing wrong with art like that. i had made them in those days. Now, i view them as embarrassingly judgemental. Embarrassingly one dimensional. Heavy. Scary.  Only later, i discovered that this perspective was such a small, insignificant and narrow way to learn and explore (and enjoy) something as complex, multi-dimensional, beautiful, life giving and powerful as Art. There is so much more to what Art is, and what Art can be.

Thank God some of us have grown up since; praise God some of us have matured to a bigger and wider point of view. Praise God that He has uncovered for me how warped and out of context most of my preaching were in those days! Thank God He did not allow me to stay young; or stay in my delusional naiveté and childish zeal. Thank God He did not let me stay self-righteous or stay consumed by a one dimensional and one-sided point of view. Thank God He grew me, and continuously grows me.
 
Now i paint from the pure need of putting paint onto canvas. Having put paint on canvas, to then stand back to see the painting take shape, and in turn speak to me. Not that it is a mindless activity. In fact, a lot of thought and art making processes go into every piece of work. Only, i have learned to take a different approach to say what my heart is saying. So, the greatest satisfaction comes when someone looks at my work, and get that heart message. It is a magical connection that is rare and incredible. Like the joining of two souls in a single moment.

In our journey through what had happened in the last year, from receiving the news of the impending lose of our source of income to where we are now back on track in a happy and secure place, we have changed and transformed. We have gathered much wisdom; we have had our eyes opened to much that we did not see before. We have been privileged to see what a friend looks like. We learned it from the people who came and encircled us; people who simply loved us, and walked with us every step of the way. We discovered suddenly, this is what true riches is; this is what true wealth is - people who love us purely. Simply.

Conversely, along this journey, we have also encountered people who were like Job's friends; people who were waiting and looking to prove themselves right; people who believed what had happened to us was punishment from God; people waiting for our situation to turn from wrong to worst, to prove their suspicion that we did not deserve what we had lost in the first place. We encountered people who tried to read and speak into our seeming misfortune, later changing their language as according to the changing circumstances, appointing themselves as our prophets. Bringing a sense of condemnation instead of support. Thank God for them because i learned to discern what He is like; i learned how to press into who He is, and search out His heart for us. i learned to wait, and listen for Him. God does not condemn; He does not punish. He does not use people as examples to teach others how to obey or how to be compliant.

i started writing this blog very much like my need to put paint on canvas. A way to express myself, and to stand back and look at what my writing would speak to me. Just as i have come to a place where i am painting for me, i write for me. Thanks to the person who encouraged me to start blogging (you know who you are!), this journey of fumbling and stumbling with writing my thoughts has been the greatest and most enriching adventure so far. My intention of writing has always been to tell the story (even if it is to me alone) of how a very ordinary, fully human person who is a wife, a mum, a daughter, a friend, an intercessor, an artist, an office girl lives her life with an all powerful, indescribable, unseen, both knowable and unknowable, awesome, supernatural God. Because for me, life is all about living with Jesus. For me, life with Jesus is not a set of principles or believe system, not a job, not a career, not a business, not a ministry, not a calling, not therapy, not a way to super spirituality, not a means to the admiration or adulation of others, not to be famous. Not about me. Life with Jesus is simply a life lived out fully human with Jesus, walking with Him.    

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beloved Son

Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things might be. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him. But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.' And he said to him, 'My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.' (Luke 15:25-32)
 
That's a big brother, i heard the Holy Spirit whispered. i was standing at the back of the auditorium as Host this morning, just looking out at the congregation. A post i love. i love the bigger and wider view i get standing here. i love watching the congregation, looking at the different families, and their friends. i love surveying the relational landscape and assessing the overall feel of a morning service. i cannot explain it, but i love watching the people we are so privileged to host, so privileged to now own as friends and family. i love watching out for them. i am drawn to some; i can feel what they need. i am Guard, not just Host when i stand at this post on the Sundays i am on duty.
 
Suddenly, when i was observing a behaviour, this was what He said. i was then drawn to another, and He said, That's a beloved son. To say i completely understood or even now understand what He said/is saying is not true. i have heard brilliant messages on this subject, sometimes titled Sons and Servants, sometimes titled Little Brother Big Brother. But to actually visually see, alerts me to take note. Perhaps, there is more to what i had heard or known before. Perhaps, there is another dimension to what is surface. Perhaps this is, for me, part of being in a season of preparation, a season of learning, a season of growing in capacity, in ability. Perhaps this is what expansion looks like. Perhaps i am in a season of being trained. To become sharper, more accurate in my discerning; to learn more and more the language of the Spirit. When i typed i heard the Holy Spirit, it was more like the slightest body language that i picked up from the Holy Spirit. In other words, He communicates not through complete sentences. At least with me. A lot of times, i catch or capture what He is saying without words. i just know. More than a feeling, like a brilliant idea or an inspiration, many times, a verse or a principle in the Bible would accompany the download. i guess it is kinda like reading someone after we have known them for a considerable time. We can kinda read them, we can tell by their body language what they are saying or feeling. Perhaps, this is where i am; i am in a season of preparation, of training, of becoming more sensitive to become not only stronger and sharper in character but, to be polished in my gifting as well. Perhaps i am in a season of picking useable tools and keys, and learning to hide them, keep them and steward them well within me; to treasure and handle with great care all that is and will be given me. To take note; to be watchful. To have both character and gift mingled and weaved together in my growth. One cannot be independent of the other. And i love the learning; i love being fathered by God. It cements who i am. i am Beloved Son. Being Beloved is restful.  
 
So the difference, for me, between the Big Brother and the Beloved Son is that one is fully at rest in the Father's love, while the other has no idea how indescribable, and beyond comprehension he is loved by the Father.