Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nehemiah pt 1: Yours, Mine, and Ours

Am I my brother's keeper?

Yes, you are. Sorry to break your streak of self-consumption. Well, no, I'm not sorry. After all, with commands to "love our neighbors as ourselves" or to "carry each other's burdens" and similar verses of being a body - it ought to be apparent that we ARE our brother's keepers.

We live in such a conceited society, though. Everything's supposed to cater to "me" and if "I am unhappy, I will make the situation cater to me, otherwise, I will leave and detach myself. Indefinitely." (A rambled topic). Minds like these can get consumed with waiting for God or the church make us feel better about ourselves and make our lives easier.

We can easily forget that we are in a body - it is a support system. And we do not simply call it that so they may support us, but that we may support others. Too often, when we see obstacles and a whole lot of mess, our tendency is to run. Who in their right mind runs towards the problem?

But David ran towards Goliath. Only because he knew Who sent him.

In the time that Nehemiah was a cupbearer to a king of another country, the Israelites went into captivity in Babylon. In time they returned to their desolate city - walls, defenses, and hope destroyed. Hearing of this, Nehemiah wept with empathy.

...I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you...
-Nehemiah 1:6

He wasn't remotely a part of the issue, save the fact that he too is an Israelite! But God pressed upon his heart a heaviness for the people, who he repented for.
Yes, he took the responsibility of repenting for his forefathers, and himself.

How often have I been guilty of leaving a fellow sister or brother to deal with their own punishment? "Well, they made that mistake, let God deal with them." When was the last time my heart broke for someone else? Where I stepped in the gap and said, "No, LORD, withhold Your judgment - show Your mercy!"

I am not saying that suddenly, we need to become the Savior and take responsibility for everything - I am saying that our hearts need to be opened. Our peripheral vision needs to be opened. We need to ask God what is on HIS heart, so we know who we need to stand in the gap for.


Part of the reason I decided to talk about this is because it's distressing to know that people prophesy judgment on this "wicked generation" - as if, they want this nation to be destroyed for its immorality. "Look at how immoral they are! God should strike them dead!" I despise that mentality so much!

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
-Ezekiel 18.23

This is still in the Old Covenant too! We are in the New Covenant that says nothing separates us from His love. Why should we profess curses and judgment on people, or why should we cast the first stone? Why are we so concerned about our own spiritual fulfillment, then get offended at a world that lives contrary to the Word - simply because no one has told them differently?

It's not common for people to run towards trouble. But by whose standards? It's time we start interceding - repenting for these people who Jesus Himself said, "Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing."

If you take light of darkness - surprise surprise - all you have is... darkness.

We know the Truth. We carry the Light.


Reading: Song Yet Sung by James McBride
Listening: Rise Up by Rita Springer
Watching: Eyes and Wings Conference at The Lighthouse Church, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Struggle of the Not-So-Super Human

It's a familiar - and false - mentality that: "Christians should always have joy, and you are being a terrible example to those young in faith if you start to reveal that your life is crumbling. What kind of testimony would that be!? You can't witness if you're not happy!"

And that, my friends, is how I have been conditioned growing up. I suppose a good percentage of people had the convenience of having a surrounding that encouraged them to "find themselves" and to "be who they want." Lucky for them, to be who they want could be an external or internal choice. But to tell me (or anyone) that we should always put on a "happy face" is actually not a demand for our outward appearance, it's the breaking of our inner confidence.

Here is what I mean, via my own personal experience:
People told tell me that I could be a lawyer or an artist or a preacher or a nurse, basically whatever I wanted, and the choice was ultimately mine. But their reactions to my lifestyle also told me that I was forbidden to reveal my weaknesses. The results were devastating. I wore all sorts of uniforms of varying professions. But the reason I could not settle (strangely, I'm still unsettled?) was due to the fact that in my head, I rehearsed to myself that unless I have perfection AND a happy face on, I am a disappointment to Jesus, a bad example to people, a inefficient testimony, a fraud, a failure, a waste of life. We can see how this stems into a terrible sense of worth. What I mean is, I felt like my life was worth something only if I was at perfection. Below perfection, I felt the dissatisfaction of peers and superiors. I felt secure if I had the approval of the hardest critics. I felt devastated if I received a bit of critique. With this kind of standard, I remained under the impression that I "failed" at everything, thus, I needed to change career direction.

Of course, the fact that I am not superhuman or perfect means YES I did (and still do!) have areas of weakness. So in aiming for approval ratings, my vices of choice were little white lies, jumbled priorities and "flirting" with the critics for a two-thumbs up. [Flirting = not literal.]

Let us just say, I lived out of fear.

Frankly, I hate being plastic. Anyone who's experienced "the mask" eventually realizes that it suffocates you more than liberates you. Yet, even though we "know" this, the reason so many people still go back to it is because it's like a security blanket. And yet, security blankets are childish, and wearing masks is immature.

Am I advocating a parade of our faults? Nooo way. Complaining is to the devil what praise is to God. And in any case, it's not necessary (or smart?) to spill your life story to the next stranger on the elevator. However, to hide is to lie.

The route to take, in all sincerity, is surrender to God. It's the route that says, "Yes, I am having an area that I am struggling with, BUT I am in faith that God will [etc etc etc]."
What I'm saying is that I learned all the proper phraseology, but never learned to do it first. Talk is super cheap. A surrendered life does have a countenance of joy, peace, happiness, and love - and you have no shame, you're not walking on eggshells afraid the mask will fall off - because there is no mask. The joy is deep as marrow, and it's real. Your situations, your weaknesses are very real too. But, you know Truth.

I am writing all this with the thought that I am plagued by it as much as I used to - praise God. But also because it's partially the reason I haven't written in a while. I felt under the weather (both physically and spiritually) and it did not seem like I could say anything out of a place of brokenness. And the perfection gig? It is SO much more intense. In fact, while writing this blog, I can't help but think that I better have something encouraging to say or else it will really look like I'm out of touch with God.

So here's my honest-honest-honest closing thoughts, regarding myself and you:
I struggle being vulnerable, but I would like to be. I feel like people have only come to know purposefully-selected areas of accomplishment and success, and therefore, so many people have a false perception of me. Currently, I crave God, but I feel like it's not enough. My soul literally longs for Him, but laziness has got in the way.
And amidst all this, I do fight to praise Him anyway.
Because when the battle is fierce, you have to fight even harder!

In the end, I'm not going to suggest you spill your problems, nor am I suggesting you only give happy reports. I am, however, going to suggest that you simply be honest. Because the mouth speaks out of the heart. You'll either be speaking out of a surrendered heart, or a troubled heart, and believe me, even if you are a troubled heart, there is always room for grace, prayer, restoration, and repentance.

...In this world you will have trouble. But TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world!
-John 16.33


Reading: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Listening to: Brooke Waggoner
Watching: political commentaries

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Midnite Thoughts

I would like my sleep to get back into order. Please.
But since I'm awake, mightaswell share some thoughts.

I am not in control.
I am not God - I am His daughter.
I am not Jesus - I am His sister.
I am not the Holy Spirit - I am His friend.

My job is not to force people to make certain decisions. They have their own will.
My job is to show them the Way.

My job is not to condemn the world of sin, or to convict them or judge them. God is the ultimate Judge. The Holy Spirit is the believer's Conscience. I am the vessel of Love.

I was not asked to point fingers. I was asked to have the fruit of the Spirit - including kindness, self-control, patience, gentleness.

I have no right to cast the first, last, or any stone.


As a sister, as a friend, as a member of the Body, I will not tolerate sickness, even if this means a sick mind. I will not tolerate lies. I will not tolerate my brothers and siblings being lied to by the enemy. Nor will I tolerate if they live as a result of believing these lies. I will not tolerate manipulation or deceit or sly foxes. I have every right to exercising the authority of the Kingdom, which means casting out these demons. I have every right to demand my life back - their lives back - and demand he pays back sevenfold. I have every right to the Truth, and declaring the Truth.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that are running in the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.
-Song of Solomon 2.15

I need sleep.
Maybe this will all make sense in the morning.


Friday, January 9, 2009

The Things We See

I can't help but feel so excited for this new year! Mostly because 08 is OVER! Not that I'm in regret over anything last year, but I recognize that the costly mistakes I made can only launch me to higher levels - that is, IF I manage to prove recovery by NOT repeating those mistakes. At the same time, while those mistakes are all trash, I am aiming at keeping (and passing on!) the blessings I've received, whether it be an act of love or grace, a lesson of patience and forgiveness, or an extension of friendship.

And now, I stand at the base of a new mountain.

Robert McAfee Brown said, "Where you stand determines what you see." Instantly, my mind paints a picture of the view from a mountaintop. And yet, the play on words "where you stand" can take us to what I really want to address, that it isn't just what you see, it's how you see it. Where you stand on an issue determines what you choose to see. It's true, we don't see with our eyes, we see with our mind. We see based on our knowledge, based on our upbringing, based on our biases and convictions.

Think of this example: I love the song "No Woman, No Cry." Reggae runs through the veins of people here. However, at the sound of it, a friend of mine instantly connects that song as being played at the funeral of a high-school friend.

Same song. Different definitions. It's all about perception.

When you look at your life, what do you see?
Personally (eeeh.. as personal as a blog can be...), for a long time, I hated my life. And it's honestly easy to slip into that mindset! Currently, I don't resent my life, but it's not very hard to get pessimistic - or even to start questioning why I'm here! I got this from James Goll: sometimes, when God gives you a dream or a goal that you have to take in faith, initially it seems exciting, then when things aren't going smoothly, the enemy likes to take you on this downward spiral -

  1. Discouragement. You start questioning God why things happened the way they did, and why He brought you to this place at all.
  2. Disillusionment. You start to wonder, 'Was that really God, or was that just me thinking that I'm supposed to be doing this?'
  3. Disinterest. You don't see immediate results and therefore, you stop caring.

Is it impossible to get out of this spiral? No. Is it easy to slip into it? Yes. But do you not see the nature of the enemy? 'Did God really say you can't eat that fruit?' He makes you question God's Words! In the same way, God places dreams and visions in our view, then the dumb devil makes us think, 'Can this really be from God?' The scary thing is, once we start believing it, we can be at the mountaintop, and instead of saying, 'What a gorgeous view!' we'll be chanting, 'Oh my gee, I am gonna effin fall off this cliff and DIE.' I'm telling you. It's all about perception.

If you hold to My teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!
-John 8.31-32

Although we are familiar with 'truth' referring to the Word, a deeper look will reveal that the word 'truth' means 'reality!' Isn't that beautiful?

Then you will know what is real - you will know what reality is! And it will free you!

Too often we are caught in a state of disarray. Whatever you want to call it - discouragement, disillusionment, depression, confusion, apathy - only because we don't know what's real! I am not discrediting the real emotions people have, and saying that people aren't allowed to experience pain; God Himself wept over His chosen ones! Yes, the world looks like it's deteriorating. It's scattered all over the Bible that that's how the world will be in the last days.

BUT - I choose to sing a Love song, not a funeral dirge.

God wants to make reality known to us! We've been trapped by the media and old wives tales and superstitions, but there's such a freedom to be had! I want to have a vision from God for this year - AND see it the way He sees it. I want to be able to approach life by saying the things He would say, doing the things He does, and going where He would go.

It's 2009! What song are you singing?


Reading: Dream Language, James & Michal Goll
Listening to: Le Pas du Chat Noir, Anouar Brahem
Watching: Fight Club

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Briers, Malunggay, and Waiting for Babies

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
-John 1.1

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
-Matthew 24.35

Has God given you a promise, a vision, a dream, or a goal? Has He simply left you with the impression that He will do something new? Has He not told you what it will look like? Has He left out a lot of the details?

[monotonously gives a 'yes' to each TV-infomercial-like question]
[and seriously, if you didn't say yes to any of the above..... we need to talk.]

Anything the LORD promises, regardless of the time it takes on human terms, will come to pass. That is an unwavering truth.

And yet, there are those situations they don't come to pass - and it's not because God is a liar. In some cases, a prophetic word could be wrong (which then reveals the importance of checking up with God instead of assimilating everything the wo/man of God says). In other cases, we may have confined the promise to the English definitions of the English words we hear. Let me illustrate: say you've latched onto a particular interest, and you feel God began to release strategies to further this interest. But in time, you begin to find that you don't have the same passion for that dream, and that your heart desires something else. Isn't it easy, at that point, to wonder, "Did I really hear the voice of God telling me to step into this?" And we go into a frenzy, adjusting our rabbit-ear antennas, assuming the reception must have been way off.

But in truth, it's nothing more than an invitation to know more of His heart. So you have a different dream now? At least you were faithful with what He gave you in that season! So that word didn't come to pass? At least you have a marking point, a discernment, of what His voice does and does not sound like!

At least, you learn to trust. You learn what it's like to depend on One you cannot see. You learn to be obedient to His rhema word. It's about practicing the presence of God - testing Him, trying Him, knowing Him, loving Him, and definitely listening to Him. Continuously. At least, you keep yourself in a position to expect God to move according to His word. And He honors that.

As a person who doesn't garden as often as my parents, I can honestly say that it's definitely not a skill of mine to look at any seed and instantly identify what kind of plant it will turn out to be. And my knowledge is still very limited, seeing a tree and knowing what type it is.

Usually, I just wait for the fruit.

I've mentioned how 09 has been prophesied to be the year of the womb. And there are a great number of people who feel the confirmation in their spirits that truly, God is going to birth something absolutely tremendous. And yet, so few of us have an idea of what it's going to be, what it will look like, how is it all going to happen... Some of us still wonder if anything's even there.

Basically, we're just waiting for the fruit.

Oh sure, there are those trees which I can name because of familiarity with their shape or leaves, like the clustered, overbearing mango tree with its seasonal red leaves, or the skinny heights of the malunggay tree. In the same way, sometimes we have a general idea of what God will do based on the tested, tried, and true signs that He gives us. Key word: sometimes. In the end, the tree will be defined by its fruit.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.
-Luke 6.43-45

I really feel that even though we have no idea what this 'fruit' will be, we can hang onto the confidence that 'storing goodness in our hearts' is like water for the seed. It's not a time to spoil the fruit by harboring any 'evil' in our hearts - not bitterness, not laziness, not impatience, not complacency, not arrogance, not surrender!

A word was spoken over me in August:

Even though you cannot see the fruit, don't uproot just yet.

Just because we aren't seeing results, it doesn't mean nothing is happening beneath the surface. Just because you cannot see the fruit, it doesn't mean God is not at work. Just because we are experiencing the 'birthing pains,' it's not a time to abort the baby!

In due time it will come forth - and we should not worry what it will look like. For if it is from God, if it is bred from the pure intimacy that came from a covenant relationship with Him, then you can be assured that it will be a legitimate child, bearing the image of God, having the authority of the Kingdom, and carrying His holy name!

And surely, all of Heaven rejoices!