Friday, 27 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles: Day 7

His Side of the story

Sometimes I forget that prayer is a conversation that involves me and Him. I talk for ages and then I walk away, some days He has to interrupt me in the middle of my musings so that He can give His own side of the story. A big lesson in the wilderness for me is that He speaks, oh He speaks, all the time. Sometimes, there is silence but He speaks. I pray He continues to speak for His words are power and they are life

Pray tell my child, when did I cease to be

and all the other names you read in the Book? Could it be that you have been praising me as A instead of MY? As A mighty God instead of MY mighty God, as A healer instead of MY

Pray tell my child when did I cease to be
your ROCK
your GOD
your LOVER

and if I am as you sing all these and more....then why are you so AFRAID? Selah

I'm still thinking about it

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

There is a king in me..

Thank you Donald Lawrence


You come from Royalty,
An aristocratic dynasty.
The goal of the enemy
Is that you don’t know who you are.
There’s power when you speak.
Be mindful of words you release.
I know that life has challenged you,
But the King in me speaks to the King in you.
You were born to rule.
There is a king in you. (Repeat)

Is there no King in you,
Then why do you speak, speak with such defeat.
Is there no King in you,
Then why do you speak, speak with such low esteem.
I know life has challenged you,
But the King in me speaks to the king in you.
You were born to rule.
There is a King in you

Donald Lawrence..There is a king in you (The Law of Confession Part 1)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles; Day 6

Holding on while letting go

"Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is GOING BACK to her people and her gods. GO BACK with her." But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I WILL GO, and where you stay I WILL STAY. Your people will be MY PEOPLE and your God MY GOD. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if ANYTHING BUT DEATH SEPARATES YOU AND ME ". Ruth 1:15-17

I re-read the book of Ruth recently and when I got to the passage above, I paused for a moment. Why did Ruth choose to go with Naomi? Ruth was a Moabitess living in Moab, she grew up in Moab, went to school in Moab, got married in Moab, lost her husband in Moab, her parents lived in Moab, her friends were in Moab, her occupation was in Moab, her life was in Moab. She knew Moab, it may not have been great but she knew it like the palm of her hand. Why go on a journey with Naomi, Naomi had no source of income, she was a widow, she didn't even have a plan of what she would do when she got back to Bethlehem, yet Ruth chose to go with Naomi. I believe there was something she learnt about the relationship Naomi had with God and that somehow her destiny was tied to Naomi. On the surface, her decision may have looked stupid, crazy or senseless yet she chose to put her trust in God and not circumstances.

How many times do we sense God leading us in a direction that makes no sense, God telling us to do things that may make our friends think maybe we should get committed to a mental care unit? I don't know if God told Ruth she would get married again if she went with Naomi although I doubt it, what I know is that she committed to follow Naomi into an uncertain future, the only certainty being that God was with her. I'm not sure I've got to that level of trust in God but that's why we're in the wilderness isn't it? The fact that the wilderness is a place we go through on our own doesn't mean the rest of the world stops existing. You can be in the wilderness and have to be a wife and mother, you can be crying to God at night and have to wake up in the morning and minister to the saints, it doesn't matter where the wilderness meets you, be rest assured that the Lord is with you and if He has called you to it, He will call you through it.

Ruth embraced the changing seasons of her life, in the wilderness she learnt that there is a love that goes deeper than anything a mortal man or woman can give. That even though her husband was dead, Jehovah Jireh was alive. Ruth made a decision like Abraham to move away from the familiar and hold God's hands as she stepped beyond her comfort zone. The word says that Ruth went out into the fields to glean. In the wilderness, we have to 'go out' of ourselves, mentally, emotionally because if we don't go out, we will never 'go in' to Boaz's field. Because she was willing to make a move, God moved on her behalf. I am learning that even though God's word is true, I must co-operate with Him for destiny to be fulfilled. Don't cut yourself off from life and living while in the wilderness, don't get lost there, hold on to God.

Saying Yes Lord means saying No to the devil. We can't have both. I'm either on the Lord's side or on the enemy's side. You cannot be in both Moab and Bethlehem, I ask myself if I can humble myself to pick up leftovers just so that I can be in God's will? Can I? Can you? One thing I know, there is a day of humility but there is also a day of exaltation. He has promised to exalt us in our due season. Ruth's name is found in the genealogy of Jesus. A widowed immigrant with no job, no matter what you look like today, God can change your story. It can be suddenly, it may take a while but change is coming.

The Book of Ruth is a short story, so many things left unsaid but I've learnt a new theme, a new principle for adapting to life in the wilderness. Letting go of all that the Lord wants me to let go off, holding on to God and His promises. It will be hard but Lord hold me even when I want to let go. Isn't it funny that in the day of the storm, it is God we usually want to let go off and hold on to the 'things' we think will see us through. Lord, help me not to get it mixed up.

Tears fall from my eyes
As I pick the leftovers
My back hurts
As I pick the leftovers
Friends laugh
As I pick the leftovers
Enemies mock
As I pick the leftovers
Family misunderstands
As I pick the leftovers
Feel like giving up
As I pick the leftovers
Asking God why
As I pick the leftovers
When God when
As I pick the leftovers
As I pick the leftovers
As I pick the leftovers
God sees me
As I pick the leftovers
God loves me
As I pick the leftovers
My change is coming
As I pick the leftovers
I'll still praise God
As I pick the leftovers
Praise God for leftovers
As I pick the leftovers
The God of the leftovers
is the same God of the harvest!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Faithful to believe!

This song has been in my head all week. Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief! Amen.

Byron Cage: Faithful to Believe

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles: Day 5

Abraham: He didn't see Hebrews

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your COUNTRY, your PEOPLE and your FATHER's household and GO to the land I will show you....So Abram left, as the LORD had told him Genesis 12: 1,4a (NIV)

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, OBEYED AND WENT, even though he DID NOT KNOW where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise Hebrews 11:8-9 (NIV)

....look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but ONE and I blessed him and made him MANY. Isaiah 51:2 (NIV)

A wilderness experience is not unique to me, neither is it to you. In studying my Bible, I am learning that it is a series of wilderness chronicles, the stories and testimonies of men and women who walked with God and for almost all of them there were seasons when they had to stand alone with God. Life is full of sounds but it doesn't matter how much we hear if we never hear the right things. Today, I want to focus on Abraham, a man described as a friend of God, a man who debated with God and could cause God to change his mind on something he set out to do, a man who God discussed with intimately. Yes, Abraham had a great relationship with God but he had his wilderness season where he had to learn to lean on God and walk in His ways and no it wasn't easy.

The first record of God speaking to Abraham in Scripture is God asking Him to relocate. I'm sure most of us have moved homes at least once in our lives and we can attest to how stressful it can be. Sometimes, for the next phase in our lives, it is necessary that we move, it could be to another country, another city or just a different street, sometimes we have to downsize or 'upsize' but the essence of what we are doing is saying goodbye to the life we have right now a.k.a our comfort zone and going on to pastures anew. The difference between us and Abraham however is that God never gave him a destination postcode (that is Zipcode if you're in the US!)just said leave and go. Leave what you know and go to what you don't know? Honestly, the wilderness is a place that shows us for who we are, we may say we trust God, that He knows what is best for us but when He asks us to leave what we know, our present occupation, our present level in him, some relationships, some habits and go to a new place in Him, a place where He says is good but we haven't been to or heard of before, can we like Abraham leave just as the Lord has told us to. Hmm (Selah). It must have been hard, there were some people Abraham left behind that he never saw again but he had heard God and that was good enough for Him. I feel like I am in a season where I have been cut off from some relationships that I felt were my core, it has been so painful but I sense the hand of God stretching me in a way I have never been stretched before. I prayed and I cried, I tried to bribe and people please but the word that came to me was that 'there is a season to embrace and a season to refrain from embracing, it is time to separate from Lot'.

It is important to know God's voice for if we don't how can we heed? In the wilderness, we learn to trust God for it is not a terrain that we are used to for only the Creator can describe the creation. Sometimes we get it wrong, we want to do something and we say the Lord said but if the Lord has said, I encourage you to trust and obey. It may not make sense, I know of people who have left good jobs to go and work in some remote village teaching children Maths and English. I recently watched a documentary of a couple who left their good jobs to work in Haiti for a few years with abandoned children and ended up adopting 6 Haitian children! It may seem difficult to explain to others but trust that God knows what is best. Is it easy? No. Will we make mistakes? Almost definitely yes. Will God be with us? Every step of the way, even when it seems He is silent.

On this journey, Abraham lied (twice) about his relationship with his wife, experienced a painful separation from his cousin, fought a battle to rescue same cousin, isn't it painful when God asks you to meet the needs of someone who has stabbed you in the back!!, waited years for a child, put same child on the altar, mourned the loss of his dearly beloved wife. Yet, through the ups and downs of the journey, he never knew that one day his name would make the hall of faith, he didn't see Hebrews. He was simply walking with God, one step at a time, one day at a time. I'm sure he must have been disappointed, he's a man I love because he was quite candid with God but in the end he was victorious because he walked in faith. Hallelujah! Isaiah encourages us all through Abraham, that there are seasons where we feel alone, not so much because we are in the Sahara but because we are in a place where we can't take others too, it is our wilderness experience, that even from what seems so small, from one, when we add the blessings of God, we shall experience breakthrough. Amen, I receive that in Jesus name.

I pray that this becomes my testimony, familiar is good and comforting but may become a bondage. I don't see all my future holds but I see God in it and when He calls my prayer is to follow.

what you know
and I know
where you don't know
and I know
that I know
what you don't know
that I can
when you can't
through my eyes
tight to me
beyond your comfort zone
if you must but
for there are greater things in store

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles: Day 4

Lessons in the wilderness; Zaphenath-Paneah's testimony

I'll start my testimony by saying that with God the end of the story is better and sweeter than the beginning. When I look back on my life, I can say with 100% conviction that through it all the Lord was with me. He was with me. I may have had lonely days but I was never alone. Anyway, let me not get ahead of myself, please relax as I share this wonderful exposition of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness.

I grew up in your typical dysfunctional polygamous family. My father, bless him, had 4 wives, 2 sisters and their maids! Although that in itself was a recipe for disaster, it was obvious to all that my father loved my mother most, yes indeed they had strong love, a love that endured a lot of trials and tribulations. I was my dad's favourite for you see although I wasn't the first born, I was the first fruit of my mum after agonising years of barrenness. This didn't go too well the rest of the family especially after my father made me a coat, hmm, that coat was the BOMB if I can say so myself, it was a one of a kind, made to order, picture Savile Row in your minds! I'll be honest and admit that as a lad I had quite a big gob (mouth), I just didn't know when to speak and when to keep quiet, I tattled on my brothers to my dad and as you can imagine the rift between me and them gradually grew deeper.

What sealed the deal for me was the dreams. Yes, I believe in dreams for my destiny was tied to dreams. God blessed me with a unique ability to interpret dreams precisely and accurately. I'll pause here to say that God has given each and every one of us something unique that we can use for Him and these gifts are refined and honed in the wilderness. The gist of the dream was that one day in the future my brothers and even my parents would bow before me meaning that although my brothers were much older, I would rule over them. My father wasn't happy about the way I presented my dream but deep down I know he believed in it. Maybe this was because he understood that God does not respect your position of birth, He respects your faith and His will in your life as an individual.

I knew my brothers were angry and jealous but nothing prepared me for the events that were to change my life forever. One morning, I was going on an errand for my dad and by evening I was a slave en route to Egypt. Tears still come to my eyes when I recall all that happened on that fateful day. I remember getting to Dothan feeling a tad bit upset that my brothers had changed the location of father's flocks without letting anyone know and making me travel so far from home. I remember Simeon ripping off my coat before I was thrown in the well. In taking the coat, my brothers thought they were stripping me of my dignity, my identity as my father's son, my relationship with my family and my destiny. What they didn't know was that they were God's instruments, painful as it was for ridding me of my physical and emotional crutches that I had built my life on. I lost my coat, I lost my family but I still had my God and the destiny that He had prepared me for. Be encouraged, brothers and sisters when you experience loss in any form, with God it's never for less, always for more. In preparation for the wilderness, God will separate you from a number of things and even people and bring you to a place of being alone with God.

I wept as we made our way to Egypt, I wept for the life I left behind in Canaan and I wept for the unknown I was to face. From being a beloved Son in whom my Father was well pleased, I was made a slave. Yes, a slave but I had to look beyond the humiliation to find my identity in God. I may have lost my earthly Father but my heavenly father was very much around. He was with me, guiding me, giving me the strength to wake up day after day to face the challenges life threw my way. God is good, it didn't take long for my master to promote me and put me in charge of his investments. Another word of advice, no matter what level you find yourself be diligent. Do your work well, be on time, put in 100% and do everything as unto God and not man.

Although things were going well in my master's house, I still felt there was more to me than this and I will admit that it was difficult to believe on some days that the dream God showed me was a figment of my imagination because I couldn't see how I was going to get there. Also, the advances from my master's wife were becoming a bit disturbing, I used to be really naive but there was no mistaking the meaning of the look in her eyes when she called me to her room for one silly reason or the other. Well, one thing led to the other, my master's wife set me up and I found myself in jail after being found 'guilty' for attempted rape. I don't think master believed I was guilty for he could easily have had me killed but well the steps of a good man are ordained by the Lord, it's just that sometimes those steps lead to hell and back!

My dear friends, in your prayer closets please remember those in prison. Some innocent people have had their lives destroyed in those institutions. I was broken in jail, I ranted and raved at God. I must have asked 'Why me' countless times, most times the trials we face have nothing to do with sin or making poor choices, they are just God's training school, our wilderness experiences enable us assess ourselves accurately and we learn to love God with our all. If you can praise God in the pit, as a slave and in prison, you know that you have become seasoned, that your love for God is not linked to the things God has given but you love God simply for being God. God came through for me, He showed me that He was with me. He gave me favour and I was soon running things, gaining valuable leadership, negotiation and relational skills. I still continued to have my dreams but I gave them up to God for the fulfilment in its time.

In jail, I met some of the kings servants and God gave me the grace to interpret their dreams. One of them promised to put out a good word for me when he was released. Years passed and no word but like I said I had resigned myself to God, he had been my father, confidant, friend, support and guide for 13 years and had made me into the man I was. Even though you are in the wilderness, don't allow the wilderness get into you, don't allow bitterness take root. Hold on to God tightly. God be praised, I give Him glory for one day I had the opportunity to interpret the king's dream not knowing in doing so my dreams were being fulfilled. It's amazing how life can change so quickly, in the morning I was a prisoner, by evening Prime Minister. I'm a crying lad, I know but words cannot describe how I felt. My former master and his wife had to bow before me, followed a few years later by my brothers. God showed me the big picture that all that happened was a set up for my lift up. For truly that is what the wilderness is, a set up for the next stage. It's a training ground for your next level of work in God. All that I do in my new job, I learnt in all my previous jobs. I aint no daddy's boy, I'm God's boy.

So do not despair my children, God has a plan for your life and it is good. Atimes in your life, it may not seem good, it may seem harsh and painful but put your trust in God. When the arm of flesh fails, remind yourself that God is with you, always. You can bet your last dollar on it. So that's my testimony, I'm sure you know who I am although I am now called Zaphenath-Paneah, I used to be called Joeseph.

All the best and God bless.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles: Day 3

Understanding the Wilderness

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said No, No, No (Amy Winehouse, Rehab, Back to Black)

The lyrics of that song reminds me that although something may be good for me, I don't always accept it willingly. The wilderness is an uninhabited place. It is neither comfortable nor luxurious but where you get alone with God to face your deepest fears, a rehab centre where physical, mental, spiritual and emotional crutches are taken away and God asks you to start walking.

In the wilderness, tears may be shed but then a lot of flabiness is lost as we exercise our faith. The Word of God ceases just to be something we read as something we live out. Apart from exercise, the diet in the wilderness is different, 100% organic, pure everliving Word of God, we feel it's sharpness as it divides between soul and spirit. We are stretched beyond our comfort zones, way beyond. However, the most important fact about the wilderness is that you must go in with God. Although on the surface, the wilderness might seem like a punishment but it isn't, it's a necessary pain for our development. Don't lose sight of God in the wilderness, if not we become like Cain, lost, bitter and disillusioned.

The wilderness is a place where patience is learned, there are no microwaves and no quick fixes, no rush. It's a place where new skills which are necessary for survival are learnt as we see that what we thought we had and knew don't count for much in our new environment. Here, I am learning that my all comes from God, what it means to be 100% reliant on God. My 'idols' will be toppled and God reign as King.

This wilderness has been a place where my longing for things and people become converted to a longing for God. I have chosen to lay Isaac and try to walk away. I say try because I'm not sure i've walked away yet. I have to believe that God's word is true when He says that He has plans for me and the plans are good. In the wilderness I receive instructions for the next phase, the next step, the next level.

The wilderness has it's own set of rules. Your diet is different, the language is different, values shift; the Blackberry you can't live without is of no use here. The wardrobe is different therefore your behaviour is different. In coming days, we will have an opportunity to talk to some of their wilderness experiences to enable us understand better. The wilderness is also for a season, so be encouraged, it's not going to be forever, hang in there and hold on. My prayer, "Father let your work be perfected in me."

So don't be like Ms. Winehouse, don't say no to Him when He calls and the journey continues...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles; Day 2

Embracing the Season

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: Ecc 3:1 (NIV)

He has made everything beautiful in ITS time Ecc 3:11a (NIV)

Life is made up of seasons. A season is simply a period of time with certain unique characteristics, in most cases we cannot pre-empt a season, we can only take advantage of it. The Teacher begins his discourse by reminding us that there is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time of humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God and a time of exaltation. There is a time to feed the 5,000, to touch all those who are infirm, to preach the Word to the poor, to teach in parables but there is also a time to go to a solitary place to pray, to draw back a little to recharge, to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Hmm.

Seasons change, that is an inevitable and irrevocable truth. The best example comes from the weather and whether your geography exposes you to experiencing 2 or 4, we know that after the rain comes a dry spell, chilly autumn winds come after a hot (or kinda hot..!) summer. To embrace the season is to understand and walk in the knowledge that although seasons change, I serve a God who remains the same. I am safe in the arms of His love. Friends come and go, it hurts doesn't it to know that those who we have shared the intimate details of our lives can so easily betray our trust or are so quick to throw it away due to petty jealousy or inconsequential arguments. Embrace the season of life you are in now, it's the only way to enjoy it. Don't wait for the wilderness season to be over before you rejoice, rejoice anyway. Don't wait for the prayer to be answered before you give God praise, praise Him anyway. Don't wait for capital, trust God and start something anyway.

Embrace the season, don't make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. Don't give up, don't fight it, shaking your fists at the dark skies will not prevent the rain from falling, wearing a bikini in winter does not pre-empt a summer's day. Embrace the season, acknowledge the season of life and behave accordingly. He makes everything beautiful in its time, not His time but its time. Sow when you should, so you can reap when you should. Agree with God that you will do what He wants you to do when He wants you to do it. Embrace the season, don't fight it, assess it, grow from it, you learn more about yourself in the storm than when it is calm.

Autumn leaves
Golden mass on the streets
How can this be
But for a few weeks
they were green as can be
Shall I cry
as I stare
at bare branches
For I know
this is the way of creation
and though the days are shorter
and the nights colder
as winter approaches
I smile
For spring shall come
with new life
and beautiful hues
as my beloved tree
adorns herself once again
I wrap up a little tighter
and embrace my season


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Wilderness Chronicles: Day 1

Loving the product, hating the process...

Come away with me my love, you know how many times I have made this call to you but you have ignored me and run away so many times. At the end of your road, with your worn trainers and out of breath, you realise that this is what you need and this is what you need right now! Before the glory comes the trial and temptation, before the trial and temptation comes the wilderness experience. The wilderness is not a tourist attraction, no one books tickets there at the travel agent's, there's no queue at the airport. Yet the wilderness is beyond what it looks like on the surface, it is a place of preparation, a place of refining, a place where it's just me and you. No distractions, I need to wean you off those things and people that gve you your temporary fix without hitting the spot. I need you to need me, I need you to commit to going through this process even though you don't like it. I know you realise you need it and are afraid of what this season is bringing but I need you to trust me. I need you to remember all the words I have spoken to you, all the words you have shared as well and trust that I know what is best. So it's time to get to the next level, are you ready? I'm a demanding lover, I need your all. I need to be your everything.

Dear Daddy,

I know I need to do it but I don't want to. I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength but... I see beyond the process to the product to the woman I can be, that I can be free of the limitations holding me back so I say yes and like you asked I commit to the process and to chronicling it. Help me Lord, never to run back, never to look back but to learn how to seek solitude and draw strength from you. To know that this season of being alone with you is a blessing and as I sow in tears, I will reap with rejoicing.

I love you
but I now realise
I must love you
as you desire
With all my heart
Soul and strength
All not some
Nothing else
Before you
Everything else
After you
I love you
I choose to love you
Help me Lord

The Wilderness Chronicles begin here, it's a journey I'm taking and I have no idea where it's going but by His grace I'll chronicle as I can. God is good, never forget that, irrespective of whatever it is you are going through.

Remain blessed and highly favoured.