Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Groundwork

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him. Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:28-35)
 
Have you, in observing certain individuals, discover you are able to see into the huge potential in their lives? Have you, the ability to see the disciplines or the groundwork needed for them to reach that potential? In other words, to become who they are set to be in ten years, twenty years, thirty, forty or even fifty years in the future, there are disciplines, boundaries that need to be established and built up now. If we truly believe the destination of where we are aiming for, we will be faithful to build, to sow into the groundwork, to invest into what God is doing in us now. We know God is not a haphazard Person, nor is He someone who gives in to chance; He does not work in a random, hit or miss way. Though compassionate, merciful, and good, our God is intentional, ordered and impartial. The Bible tells us that His every word hits targets He intended; every word which goes forth from His mouth, does not return to Him empty; every word accomplishes His desire, and succeeds in the matter which He sent it. He is a good Businessman; He is a good Steward.
 
Consider this: Who would go into war as civilians; who would go to war not fully understanding the disciplines of a soldier. Who would go up against another with very little knowledge of the nature of the war he has entangled himself in. Is it possible that with God, He intends to match the bigness of our dreams to even bigger underground, hidden preparation work; that with Him, He is interested in the bigness inside of us? So when He calls us to Himself, we would not be found like luxuriant plants on the outside, with shallow, poor, small roots. Instead, may He finds us having giant healthy and robust roots that supports the overflowing life on the surface. After all, our true identity is to be oaks of righteousness that last eternity.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Territory III

She came to the front for prayer because she had another condition; she had another medical term foreign to me. i used the word another because this family battles one ailment or another continually. She is a beautiful, warm and genuine friend, a fun and creative soul crippled with a heightened awareness of all things unhealthy when it comes to food. This obsession or over fascination with what is mixed into the food we eat has unfortunately given birth to an unusual fear of diseases. Because her husband is a scientist, this fear is reinforced by information, research, and facts so readily available in her household from the scientific world.
 
Every time i stand before someone like her, i am overcome by compassion. This is when i wish i own a magic wand, the ability to grant wishes. You know, like a Fairy Godmother. 
 
The good news is: God is not a fairy godmother. He is not overcome or overtaken by compassion. He is fully in control, and has a wisdom beyond mine. As i placed both my hands on her shoulders, i was flooded with His love for her. This love surpassed my love for a friend. And i knew; i saw right into the root of what shows up again and again on the surface. What the Father did was placed His arms around her; He wanted her to know His full acceptance of her. He wanted her to know His full protection upon her. He came not as fairy godmother to grant wishes, instead spoke to what was missing in her heart. Though she knows Him as the God she comes to church to greet, she does not know Him as the Father that He is. The issue is not the medical condition, it is the misunderstanding or the lack of a true knowledge of God who loves her; He who is able to have a close relationship with her. He is not a far away God; He is a Father fully able and willing to cover her, to shield her, and protect her; He will hide her in times of trouble. He is more than willing and able to care for her, and keep her safe.
 
i am not sure if she fully grasped the word; i am not sure if she heard everything because of the loudness of the music. i am not sure in such a short time, and in such a space if she had received the heart of the message. i am thinking, perhaps with her, i may have to keep on keeping on to present her the true picture of who He is, of what He is like. And perhaps to continuously present Him in varied and creative ways, until whatever holds her is completely shattered. And she can fully see and understand deep inside how she can trust Him to meet all her needs; how she can lay down that heavy burden of fighting and striving to fend for herself and her family. i have a nagging feeling that we are to continuously introduce her to Jesus, and not Christianity.     

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Territory II

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might
He increases power.
Though youth grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired
They will walk and not become weary.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

The atmosphere immediately changed. As if a dry, dusty and angry place became invaded by a gentle breeze and immediately filled the atmosphere with the freshness of a cool spring morning. And he turned. He tried to make what he had said into a joke. In an instant, the spirit's grip has been loosen by the gentleness of the Holy Spirit. i was surprised. Now i am curious to see how the Holy Spirit will battle this spirit when it rears its head again. From where i was standing, i caught a very faint, very brief glimpse into his true or original identity, who was very quickly hidden, or encamped again by self erected fortresses all around him. To rescue or draw this true and original him is the work of the Holy Spirit. Warfare to set this one loved deeply by the Lord has to be done with the Holy Spirit. Sensitively, delicately, but sharp and accurately.

The word of the Lord spoken in the Spirit of the Lord is spoken in humility. In meekness. It is not an outer demonstration of false humility, because our body language often speaks louder than what our mouth says. It means, we take that posture, the heart condition of knowing who we can be without Him, and who we are in Him. Meekness is strength fully controlled; it is anchored in rest and peace. It is a deep understanding of the grace of God that has first touched us, and set us free; an appreciation that who we are, how we have arrived at where we are, the wisdom or knowledge, the ability to see and discern,  the weapon or word He has graced us to now give to others, all originate from Him. It is His kindness that leads us all to repentance, to freedom. To take an elevated place above anyone in this realm, in this ministry is liken to exposing holes in our armour, is liken to an invitation to the enemy to our weakest points. Like Goliath, calling forth in arrogance, in self-exultation, in an self-elevated place for his own defeat.

The good news is: We are called to be like David. We are to be those marked as men after the heart of God; those called to seek after Him. A lot of people when they read my last post would immediately think that New Territory means new ministry opportunities. New access into the uncharted realms. New ways to make me look good, look better. Again, self-centred. Self-elevation. Still concerned with me, with mine. Friend, i do not define New Territory this way. When God looks at us, He sees eternity in us. He is after more than what we can do for Him here and now, even though He loves, like a Father, to have His children work with Him. He is after more than my partnership. He is after me. New Territory has a very different meaning for me. It is an invitation to deeper relationship with Him, to uncover another facet to what is already in my hands. It is a call to an upgrade of what i already own; it is a promotion to see into another element of His character, or His nature and be invited to share in with His heart. It is both the re-discovery and new discovery of what i am capable of in Him. It is a step up to another level of exercising my true identity in Him. And i get to do this all with Him as Beloved. That is what is so cool.

"i don't know why all these things happened," i answered a friend who enquired about how we are doing. i had just told her that we are doing brilliantly; we are back on track in every area of our lives, doing phenomenally better than we were before everything blew up in our faces. My husband had received another raise in his pay. This time it was not even informed him. He found out from his pay slip. As soon as that sentence left my mouth, i sensed a nudge in my heart. It was a lie. i knew why He had allowed these things. i knew that we had been tested, than changed and transformed and now propelled far ahead. i knew He wanted us. He wants to set a place inside of us that keeps on keeping on growing and uncovering our true identity. He wants us to keep on keeping on uncovering Who He is for us. It means that no matter where He leads us to, no matter what He calls us to, no matter what changes all around us, we are always intact inside, we are more than more than able to follow. And He remains the same for us every place He takes us to. There is no shortage to what He can achieve in us and through us. We are not confined any more to anything temporal; we are being made into eternal beings that we already are in His sight. There is so much more to our relationship with the Most High. May we be quick to see and make it ours.    

Friday, October 10, 2014

New Territory

Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way; and He will exult you to inherit the land; [in the end] when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. (Psalm 37:34)
 
Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling in your stomach; an immediate adverse reaction to something someone said or do? i had one of that recently. It came out of the blue, not expected, not anticipated. It felt like a slap to my face; a stab to my heart. i was ready to walk away, shut that person out indefinitely, delete him completely out of my life when i sensed the Holy Spirit come in, and gently brought composure to my inside. He brought a calmness that only He can bring. Suddenly, i had a reply to the accusation, to the twisting of my very words turned around to spear me in my stomach. Suddenly, a peace flooded over me, and strength came. i gave my point of view in the opposite Spirit to what had manifested itself. i replied respectfully, politely and fearlessly. Self-controlled.
 
Later in the day, while i was still tending to the wound, pondering on the incident, i heard the Holy Spirit said: This is New Territory. To say that i completely understood, or even now understand fully what He meant is untrue. Having walked with Him thus this far, i have learned and continue to learn to expect more than that immediate interpretation of what He says. What He often means is always more, multi-faceted. What was/is amazing is that following that one sentence. He began to uncover to me what is needed to step into this more or this new.
 
Teach me Your ways, O Lord,
and lead me in a level path because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and such as breathe violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
(Psalm 27:11-14)
 
i am already in full training. Even before i realized that was what He was up to, i have already been thrust into this journey without my knowledge. He knows me well, He did not enquire of my permission nor chum for my compliance. He knows i would fight Him hard; and i would chicken out. Instead, He led me here as one who need Him most above every other. He led me to this place as one broken, as one seeking my own redemption, my own wholeness, my own complete and total need for Him. No one can teach us what only the Holy Spirit can give us. The wisdom, the wealth, the keys that we acquire in real experiences in the Holy Spirit can not be bought or taught. This is how brilliant He is; He prefers and He chooses those who are completely insufficient in themselves. When we see this, we will start to see people as He sees them.
 
He gave one word: Boundaries. i immediately get; i immediately know that this is the next stage of my development. On top of giving Him full permission to train me or shape me into who He already sees me as, i give Him full cooperation to teach me, to give me tools and weapons to walk in this realm; to be equipped and armed to traverse here. To be clothed in Wisdom; close to Him. In other words, it is time to identify Boundaries that i am to set up in relation to the spirits i may encounter, to set up Boundaries as His representative. At this level, we do not regard one another as according to the flesh; we are to be sensitive and sharp and delicate in the Holy Sprit. This is warfare in another realm, unseen, hidden; this is the realm where we set captives free, heal hidden diseases of the soul, of the spirit and the heart. This is where we expose all outer, surface, useless Band-Aids to apply true medicine to cancers hidden inside, to wash wounds, undo chains and break people free from their prisons. This is a continuous enlargement of my heart, an expansion and transformation of my perspective, an upgrade in my gifts. It is a call to courage, to step up and take up, to draw closer to Him. This is a reinforcement of who i am in Him; to only go, do, say what He instructs. This is no children's playground.  
 
This is a place not for beginners. This is a place not for civilians. This is a place not for fired up zealous, gung-ho people seeking  adventure or excitement or fame or notoriety. There is no place for arrogance in this realm. As fear smells strongly in this realm, arrogance is like a huge target sign on our chest. This is a realm we thread with humility, with courage, a high awareness of the movements of the Lord, lest we be tempted ourselves. This is a realm we must know who we are in Him. This territory is to taken only by the Lord. Therefore, it is a high privilege that He invites us to partner with Him. For He has a better and higher purpose for us; His plans for us far exceed the temporal that we eye here and now. He is looking at eternity when He looks at us.    

Monday, October 6, 2014

Measure II

And Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king."
(1 Samuel 15:22-23)
 
The Lord is King in the intercessory prayer group that i lead. It means He gets to set the agenda, the pace, the direction of every meeting. He gets to dictate to us what is on His heart. In other words, even when we have a prayer list, or an idea of what to bring before the Lord, He still gets to run the whole meeting His way. Does that mean that there is no preparation done? Absolutely not. In actual fact, a lot of preparation would already have been done before the meeting. For me, it is like being an attendant to the Lord; like an assistant listening out for Him. Watching out for His body language; surveying the landscape, discerning the atmosphere and sensing His mood. Leading a team into war is very different from facilitating a gathering. As i have learned and continue to learn that civilians are not fit for war; there are core values that soldiers must hold ready for battle.
 
The team has been trained to know that we always start the meeting acknowledging the Lord is King; we usually spend a good amount of our praying at the beginning of the meeting emptying ourselves of our agendas, our opinions, surrendering to His Lordship. Worshipping Him. In other words, we have learned to not barge into His presence with a list to dictate to Him what we want Him to do for us. Instead, we humble ourselves, lowering ourselves and ask, Lord, what is the desire of Your heart this morning? We take the place of servants always. We approach Him to serve, not to be served.
 
We take that position Wednesday after Wednesday, only to come close and marvel! Only to come near and find His invitation to come to Him as sons. Only to fall into absolute wonder and discover the tremendous and joyful privilege of partnering with Him. Only to tumble into His arms as beloved sons whom the Father takes much delight in. Only to become children again finding that He always readies Himself to listen to our "list"; He is always open to what we bring to Him; He welcomes our contribution; He celebrates with enthusiasm the bigness of our dreams. Only to find that He has stooped low to make Himself available to us. God is good like that. The Holy Spirit is kind like that. The Lord is willing like that. He is God of Relationship like that. At the centre of His heart is His relationship with us, individually and corporately.   
 
Out of this practice, Obedience has become a core value, a heart value of the team i lead. The amazing and astounding thing i have discovered, is that Obedience in a relationship with Him, looks nothing like how the world has defined it. In His Kingdom, under His Lordship, Obedience is void of the connotation of judgement, of punishment, of fear, of work, of the play between manipulation and striving, of the muscling and jostling between wills, of the contending of rights. In His Kingdom, in a relationship with Him, Obedience is a joy, is a delight, is dipped in the Father's love as in honey. Sweet and hard to escape. It means as we bend to Him, as we lower ourselves to suit Him, and obey Him, we will find He has already first lowered Himself to match us. He first humbled Himself; He first loved us. He has already made it easy for us to obey Him; He makes Obedience a love relationship. Not a law.
 
Friend, look again. See again. Perhaps rebellion looks very different in the Father's eyes. For certain, i would rather see through His eyes than any other.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Measure

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:10-13)
 
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. (Galatians 4:1-2)
 
 
Having exulted the team to return to the core, or to come back to the heart or centre, which was the word i received just a few hours earlier, the Holy Spirit uncovered, as if peeling layer by layer, that at the very heart of all, is God Himself. At that, we were lifted up into worship, into thanksgiving, into adoration. We simply fell face down before the Most High in our spirits. Then suddenly, as if it was time to get up and move, a word appeared - success. As i took up that word, another word appeared - faithfulness. Out of my mouth came this sentence that first constructed itself within my spirit: Our success is measured by our faithfulness.
 
i have been pondering on this one sentence since. i have learned and continue to learn that the Holy Spirit is brilliant; He thinks or speaks, or communicates or shares of Himself multi-dimensionally. Could it be that "listening" or "seeing" or "getting to know" the Holy Spirit can be liken to how we muse at a piece of art, or how we savour a classical piece of music, or appreciate a fine movie; we meditate; we take time; we get to know Him through taking that extra effort of searching Him out.
 
i remember years ago when this team was younger, the Holy Spirit consistently exulted us to cultivate faithfulness. i wrote a post or two on the subject of Faithfulness. Or being faith-full; we are faithful because we have faith; or we demonstrate our faith by our faithfulness. Immovable Faith, i am more than convinced, is cultivated by faithfulness. Unchangeable Faith is grown out of consistency. He Himself, who has shown us time and time again, in being absolutely consistent, is faithful. He is a God of again, and again, and again; a God who never tires of hitting it one more time. He is God who never gives up. He is a God of Faith. 
 
Out of that season of following and surrendering and dying to the planting or the cultivating or the ingrowing of the Holy Spirit, Faithfulness, under my leadership, is now a core value that defines the intercessory prayer team today. Faithful is who we are. Throughout the five years, when the team was as big as having almost seven members, to as little as only two, the Holy Spirit has relentlessly insisted on keep on keeping on. Throughout this time of navigating through all sorts of challenges, and learning to lead, to communicate and love the various personalities that came, there had been multiple times i wanted to give up. It would be so easy to walk away. In fact, i searched and schemed ways and avenues to escape this role, this place. i would gladly step aside for anyone hungry for that position.
   
i remember one torturous Tuesday morning, waiting nervously facing empty chairs i had set up. The meeting was set at the usual time, nine in the morning. Time ticked away, and now it was twenty minutes past nine. By then i had convinced myself, No one was going to come. Tormenting as it was, i told the Lord, more in self-pity than in faith, Regardless Lord, i will pray, trying desperately to be heroic. During those days, i had an urgency about the presence of a group like ours; i could not shake it, but i always felt i have to at least show up. At twenty five minutes past nine, one faithful person came. God is good like that. i learned very early those days that numbers are just that, numbers. In war, God has a very different way to battle; the story of Gideon reminds me often of that. It reminds me to learn to identify true warriors, to train them, and to treasure them. It reminds me to maintain humility (another core value).  
 
Friend, i have learned that all discipline is a delight. Even when we first do not see it as that, or even welcome it. i have been thinking: What if God is a Father who seeks our highest good; a Father who loves to grow eternal values into His sons. What if our true identity is that we are eternal beings. What if everything that we achieve here without Him is measurable, though good and fruitful and impacting, is still temporal, is limited. Confined to this physical realm. What if there is another realm, or another reality, where the things the Father grows into us, or ingrains deeply into us, or weaves into us, to become us, are eternal, are everlasting. What if this is the Father's plan; to set us up for eternity; to place us even now at this infinite place where we rule, as royal sons, training as we govern with Him. And this place is not a far away place called heaven which is only accessible when we die, but an actual realm now. What if we tweak our thinking just a smidgen. What if we turn from striving to measure up, to labour for cheap accolade, to accumulate and gather to ourselves things we cannot keep nor can we take with us. What if we turn from seeing ourselves as the centre of our lives, at the centre of our ministries. Instead, let us give into Him, to place Him at the centre again, to be at the heart of our every area, of our everything.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bigness II

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:13-14)
 
When i used the exact words that he had used to speak into my situation, i was surprised to find that he could not receive them. For me, those words immediately untied me; completely freed me and caused me to propelled into a new place. Like a light bulb switched on or an aha moment. Like feeling new again in a flash. My thoughts became clear again; i felt free as if a heavy cloud had been lifted off my head. i was happy again; i saw the funny side of things again. So, when he opened up concerning his situation, i saw the same root causes for i knew that sort of reasoning or that sort of thinking all too well. i was familiar with the emotions that attach themselves to those thoughts. i was accustomed to the same tightness upon my mind, the same angst hovering around. i boomeranged back to him the exact word he gave me. Astonishingly, he refused them. 
 
In his eyes, his circumstance has been going on for years, is bigger, is more complicated, is more painful, the characters in his story nastier. In other words, his hardship or the injustice, the bullying done to him more prominent than mine. In his mind, he deserves to rage against the wrong he suffers, he has every right to embrace the pain inflicted upon him. He has been persecuted more than me, bullied and pushed around for a longer time. In one split of a second, i saw. He has elevated himself above me. He has enshrouded himself in pride, wearing all the injustice inflicted upon him as if it is a grand cloak. Having put on false humility, he has put on the breastplate of self-righteousness. He does not understand that the tying up or the imprisonment or the torment, these binding things originate not from the outer. He does not truly understand that we live in a war and that we have an enemy who hates us with a hatred deep and horrible. The enemy uses these occasions to wield his influences; he uses such moments to introduce his thoughts to have us agree with him, to hook us in and capture us. He does not see that our imprisonment or woundedness or entrapment happens on the inside when we unknowingly (or knowingly) or innocently allow the enemy to entice us, and through our own choosing choose what colours us on the inside, or influence or dictate to us our reaction. He does not see that is why people who have been through atrocious injustice have the power to defeat the circumstances (thus disempowering the enemy) and remain untainted or unaffected or unchanged; people who have been through hellish experiences can continue to be beautiful and kind and unmarred by outer circumstances. They have escaped the trap of the enemy, and overwhelmingly overpowered him. These are those we call conquerors or overcomers.
 
He does not truly understand what he had given me. He does not truly know the power that he had spoken to give me. He does not understand that the power available to us can only be activated when we embrace it with humility. He has taken that very unfortunate place of being higher than others, the double-edged sword in his hand though powerful, is meant for others like me, but not for him.
 
How do we love a guy like him? A very wise man - my beloved husband - taught me to embrace people like him. It means i continue to accept him; i keep my love for him evident and available. His reaction to the very word from his own mouth tells me to take a step back, to consider his pain. And wait. Perhaps for this one, the Holy Spirit has a whole different way to bring freedom. Perhaps for this one, He seeks another avenue to do a larger and more lasting work. Perhaps to battle arrogance, we put on humility. So, i approach him with the posture of Lord, what shall i do? i come near with kindness, gentleness. And wisdom. i am convinced what God has done for me, He can do for my brother.