Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It Takes One to Know One

Do you remember being on the playground as a child and hurling a verbal insult at another child and him or her replying, “It takes one to know one.” Perhaps you were the one being insulted. Or perhaps you were like me – observing but not participating in the cruel nature of playground behaviour (*wink). There is truth in the old adage – it does take one to know one. Of course there are exceptions and it shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule (another day, another post), however the truth is, we respond or react to the ‘me’ we see in others.

I learned something new (or at least remembered afresh) from my Boy’s middle school’s lesson on ancient civilizations in Socials Studies. Many cultures, including ancient Egypt, believed their leaders were god-man beings; both god and man and as such no one else would be their equal, except another god-man. When I reread Exodus 7:1, “You will be like god to Pharaoh...” another layer of revelation was revealed. Not only did Moses need to be set apart from the Hebrew slaves (he was raised in the palace), but he needed to be at least equal to Pharaoh. Pharaoh saw himself as god; nothing less than being a ‘god’ would suffice.

Paul said he became like all men, just to win a few (1 Corinthians 9:22). My heart is tender towards the new age community; I feel called to free the captives locked in the world of occult and inferior power. To do that, I’m being trained to develop my prophetic gift and know their language so that the light and the truth I carry will be clearly seen and received.

What is the task before you? You will win favour and a place to engage because God will equip you to “be like them” so they will receive your message (the gospel).

#40lessons: God will give you the reputation you require to finish the task prepared for you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

As the Crow Flies

I’m quick. In school I was usually the first one to finish exams, I can be showered, and ready (with make-up and hair styled) within 15 minutes. I eat quickly. (Yes, I know. It’s not good for me.) I read quickly, and even my flag and dance movements are more hurried than others. I live in anticipation, and I want to be ready and grounded for what’s coming.

Some things can’t be hurried; you can’t hurry the time it takes to grow a human, nor can you hurry character development in the Christian life which is why I could have also titled this post: Lies Christians Believe #7, The Promised Land was only 11-days Away.  Ever heard the term, “as the crow flies”? It’s supposed to be the shortest distance between two locations but in reality, how often have you ever travelled ‘as the crow flies’? I’d bet it hasn’t been many times; even if you start out on a shortcut, inevitably something blocks the path and we have to go around it.

It maddens me when I hear (usually with some pompous disdain) the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Canaan would have been 11 days, but the reason it took 40 years was due to their continual disobedience. It makes me mad because somehow I feel I might have taken a wrong turn, and my [real] life should have started a long time ago. The truth is, God never intended to lead his people ‘as the crow flies’ (Exodus 13:17).

God’s plan was (and is) to lead his people into victory. Sometimes I feel as if I’m behind time, like I should be further along my journey than I currently am. It makes me anxious. Joshua 3:4 tells us to keep our eyes on the Lord and he will guide us. Why? Because we have not gone this way before. It’s one of my favourite verses; it calms me down and I can trust the One who leads me. God is leading me to victory and if I have to go around the mountain, instead of through it, I’m okay with it because that’s the way of victory.

Sometimes victory isn’t fighting any battle, sometimes victory is avoiding it altogether. Just like he lead the Israelites into the wilderness instead of into the middle of the Philistines territory which would have been a shorter route. Time is in his hands, he’s not bound by time, nor are we bound by anything when we rest in his hands.

#40lessons: God leads us into victory, and it isn’t always the shortest route. You are not behind his timing if you are looking at him.

Monday, July 7, 2014

This is 40!

I’ve had my eye on my 40th birthday since I was 25. It’s been an increasing build-up of anticipation, looking toward to the promise of the Promised Land. Fifteen years ago, the Promised Land was merely a pleasant idea of wealth and surplus but most of all my goal was ease – in life, in love, in finances, and a spiritual cakewalk.

As each year passed and I grew closer to my 40th year, my mindset changed from my goal being an easy life, to desiring my life to be built up and rooted in a loving covenant relationship with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I realized it’s what I would require to sustain me for the long haul because the Promised Land may be my inheritance but it was going to be occupied. Like the Israelites before me the current tenants didn’t know they were being evicted.

Knowing I would be facing a battle to claim my Promised Land, I began serious training several years ago. Too often history tells the stories of men and women who started out admirably, but failed to finish well. They ended up either failing completely or continuously living with a thorn in their side. I don’t want to be among those who fail to finish. I want to finish well, and leave a legacy of abundant inheritance for my Boy and his generation and the generations after him. I don’t want to be disqualified for lack of focus, or burn up energy on battles I was never intended to wage.

Training is most effective with a knowledgeable coach; who is better than the Holy Spirit? I learned new weapon training (2 Corinthians 10:4), received new armour (Ephesians 6:10-18), and totally became a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m ready and I’m primed for the Promised Land.

Yesterday, I finally completed my 30s and joined the 40s club. The Israelites learned everything they needed to know in the desert which would enable them to take possession of their inheritance and their promises. The first five books of the Bible have long since been my “go-to” Bible reading. The books are rich with life lessons, to know myself and even more importantly to know my God. The lessons aren’t just for me; come along for the journey this year. It will be #40lessons from the desert to the Promised Land.

This is 40!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Be Original

When I travel, I always take Oswald Chambers with me. He’s been dead for nearly 100 years but his most popular book, My Utmost for His Highest, a 365-day devotional is timeless. It’s not the Bible, but I do put it on the same shelf. (*wink) I correspond my daily reading (while travelling) with the correct calendar date, and it never seems to fail but the words usually confirm a lesson the Lord is already teaching me. Last weekend, when I was in San Francisco, Oswald spoke to me again. He said,

“Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as he is with you.”

I’m different from you, and you are different from me. It’s a no-brainer, right? Wrong. It’s the hardest thing to understand (and keep understanding) that we are different than each other. As Danny Silk teaches: most often what we like or understand about someone is the part of ourselves we see in other people. We view and judge others by our values, gifts, experiences and personal expression. I’ve done it to others, and lately I’ve been experiencing the other side by others’ expectation and judgement of me.

For example, I don’t like to pray. Yep, I said it. Don’t judge me. I’m an intercessor and I don’t like to pray. I’ve just admitted I don’t like to do the one thing the [global] church deems important. Not only is it important, many people in the church probably agree it is the most important discipline in the Christian faith. Specifically, there are several people around me who are particularly gifted in prayer and can easily pray for hours at a time, praying and travailing for the same thing. Because I don’t like it, if I view myself through their eyes, I feel I don’t measure up. In my defense, I do pray but usually I prefer to be alone and it’s done in worship – either as I actively flag and dance or even in my work, as I sew and make flags. 

What I don’t like is to pray for other people in the [usual] way we’ve been taught to do it. You know the drill: you’re at a Bible study, and the evening is coming to a close and everyone begins to rattle off their prayer requests; someone has terminal cancer, or their house is in foreclosure, or their child is strung out on drugs and is working as a prostitute – you know the stuff. Then just when the prayer requests are complete and it’s time to pray, someone looks at the clock and says, “We’ve got to run but we’ll pray for you during the week.” Nothing is resolved and all this crap has been left on the table so we pick it back up and leave feeling deflated. After a meeting like that convinced I’m a bad Christian because I dislike prayer or prayer meetings.

This past week, someone asked me if I could come over and pray for her because she is going through a period of anxiety and depression and my first reaction was, “NO!”  Truthfully, my first reaction has H-E-double hockey sticks in front of the No. Of course, I can’t say that because then I look like a first-rate jerk, who is probably going to h-e-double hockey sticks so I wonder how can I get out of it without looking like a jerk.

I want to want to make time to pray because I know it’s important (nothing happens without prayer) and instead of getting out of it, the Lord gave me a win-win strategy; I could combine worship with prayer. Worship focuses on the goodness and greatness of God, and our problems are no longer insurmountable in the face of such an amazing and great God. It’s easy to declare victory in every problem. I can worship my big God, pray for the small problem and finish feeling hopeful.

The point I’m trying to make is a reminder to myself, “Be original.” Allow others to be original and don’t only celebrate the way other people are the same as me.

 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~Romans 12:6-8

Monday, June 9, 2014

No Fear of Punishment

I finally watched Son of God last night with my family. I’ve read the book, so the storyline wasn’t a surprise but I usually like the visual of the drama-come-to-life and this movie was no exception. The account of the woman caught in adultery was particularly impacting for me. It’s familiar to many so I’ll spare the details but whenever I read it (or in this case see it portrayed), I put myself in place of the woman. I may have not committed adultery but there are plenty of sins I’ve been caught red-handed; I’ll assume I’m not alone in this experience.

The woman expected stern punishment; certainly she knew nothing of kindness when it came to sin. She was taken to the Rabbi, the current media sensation whom everyone was talking about. She may have heard he was different than the other teachers and religious leaders but how different could he be? Sin was sin and it needed to be reprimanded and punished – severely.  She was ashamed and she wouldn’t raise her eyes to the Rabbi.

Like the harlot, time and again I’m reminded how I fear the wrath of God when I am caught in sin. Instead of fearing God, I fear the wrath I’ve been taught to expect. The reality of God is quite the opposite, as Hebrews 10:14 gives proof. The wrath of God was satisfied through Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 5:9) and by his sacrifice, we are made perfect forever, even as we are currently being sanctified (being perfected). In other words, he sees us as if we are perfect, even though we are still undergoing the perfecting process. There is no need for wrath or punishment when we have already been made perfect. (Rebuke and correction are different than punishment.)

It seems like it’s too good to be true, doesn’t it? It’s a mystery but that’s the gospel in a nutshell.

I have a confession: last year I was part of an inaugural ministry team to partner with a Global Outreach team operating in Cambodia. The connections and relationship I developed during the 16-day trip went deeper than would seem possible in the natural. My heart and life were knit into the weave of several people on the team. A year later, another North American ministry team partnered with them again, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my new friends liked the new team better. It’s definitely not a Godly, or spiritually mature thought but isn’t the point of a confession is to admit my vulnerability?

As soon as the thought was expressed (to myself), I was ashamed and expected a reprimand and some sort of punishment. What I received was different. The same day I had the thought and the consequent shaming thoughts, I received a text from my missionary friend, saying it was great to have a team there but it wasn’t the same without me. Awwww, it made my day, not just because I was loved and not forgotten by my overseas friend but because Jesus didn’t punish me at all. Instead, in his kindness, he covered my insecurity and vulnerability with affirmation and love. Experiencing the love of God does a whole lot more to motivate me to repent than fear of punishment. You could say the love of Christ compels me towards holiness.

The harlot received the same love. Jesus didn’t condemn her even though he could have. He loved her and by his love, he compelled her to, “go and sin no more.” He didn’t condone her sin, nor did he excuse it. It was evident to all, and still he loved her. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Sin has been punished; what’s left is love. What a beautiful and glorious thought.

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