I am new

The more I find Christ

The more I find myself

All I truly am is wrapped up in Him.

The more I find Christ

The more I lose myself

The old is fading away

The new is taking shape

 

            I am new in Christ I’ve been born again

            I’ve been washed by the blood of the Lamb that was slain

            I won’t go back or change my mind

            I’ll follow Him the rest of my life

 

By faith I reach out

To be like Him each day

Forgetting what’s behind

Straining to what’s ahead

My fleshly boastings

I lose for Jesus Christ

Knowing Him is worth the toil

Of fighting this good fight

Where I am is where you’d be

If you really claim to follow me

Where I send you, there you would go

You would speak the things as I say so!

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Unwritten songs of praise

Jesus knows the word that sustains the weary;

His perseverance will teach you how to wait.

The God of hope will fill you with joy and peace,

He will cause you to fear His name.

 

So bow your knees and lift your hands,

Despite the devil’s lies Jesus is still in charge.

Walk on with praise, reject the fears;

There’s a revelation of Christ beyond the tears,

Yet unwritten songs of praise in coming years.

Gladys Aylward

gladys-aylward-2I remember my introduction to the story of Gladys Aylward very well. I was very mpved by Jackie Pullinger’s book, Chasing the Dragon, and could not stop thinking about her story (Read Jackie’s story here). Finally, I decided that I must simply read her book again. It was then that I noticed this Gladys’s name. In one of the chapters, Jackie recounts a critical conversation with a vicar. It was instrumental in opening the door to an adventure that eventually led her to Hong Kong. To reinforce the logical nature of his counsel to her, which was to buy a ticket for a ship with the most stops and then ask God where to get off, the vicar alludes to the examples of both Abraham and Gladys Aylward. And that is how I came to know of Gladys. I marked my spot in Jackie’s book and went on to find out more about Gladys Aylward. It was a beautiful story that is well worth sharing.

Most of what I know about Gladys comes from two sources: her book The Little Woman and a documentary on her life entitled Gladys Aylward: The Small Woman with a Great God. The former book, like its subject’s stature, is little and Gladys wrote it to set the record straight after a movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, based on her life’s story had been released in 1958. Amongst other misrepresentations of her ministry, it had included a romantic encounter that never happened in her life. Another book, which I have not read, is by Carol Purves and it is called Chinese Whispers: The Gladys Aylward Story. If you are interested in more information about Gladys, you are welcome to take a look at this book as well.

Gladys found the Lord quite by “accident”. But when she heard the word of God preached, she knew for certain that God had a claim over her life. Sometime after her conversion, she heard about the many Chinese men and women who had never heard of Christ. Moved by the need, she often tried to convince other individuals to be missionaries to China. On one occasion, she tried to do the same with her brother who asked why she would not go herself. This kitchen conversation was the beginning of her realization of a call to bring Jesus to China and from that time on, she lived and breathed to go to China and preach the Gospel. It was very touching to read about her work as a maid so she could save money for the cheapest means of travel to China, her expulsion from a missionary training school because she was considered inept in learning Chinese (humorously, she became fluent enough to be chosen as a local government representative to implement laws against foot binding during her time in China and read from the Chinese Bible when she spoke in England upon her return some decades later), her friendship with the local mandarin and her love for her many adopted children for whom she once almost lost her very life. This woman’s story is compelling. It has impelled me to work for God. I hope it will do the same for you too.

 

The motive for love

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12,15). Without love for God’s people and for the unsaved, and it must be in that order for the Christian, one cannot claim to be a Christian (Gal 6:10). This is because everyone born of God not only loves God but loves His child. (1 John 5:1). Of course, it is not the commandment to love but rather the motive, or origin, and the evince of love that is often the point of much debate amongst Christians. In recent years, I have noticed that a good deed is often the center of attention, while the origin of that so-called “loving” action (because that is how it gets described) is often disregarded. I mean, who cares about the thought process, the motive, or the core belief of what resulted in a million dollar donation? Or clothes handed out to the homeless? Or children saved from the sex slavery industry? What matters is that someone did something nice! Right?

This kind of logic inevitably leads to a neglect of the salient responsibility of scrutinizing motive in light of God’s truth, “God’s truth” being the key phrase here. It is in fact not enough that a kind deed was done. It absolutely matters what motivated it’s dispensation. Just like the disparity between light and darkness, there is a big difference between the individual who is kind out of simple altruism or humanism and the individual who is kind out of the love of Jesus. John wrote, “Dear friends let us love one another for love comes from God” and then he stated, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” (1 John 4:7,15). God is the only source of love. Having Him means having love; refusing to believe that Jesus is the Son of God means you do not have God. If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came in the flesh, you do not have God. God is the source of love. If you do not have God, you do not have love and you can only have God if you believe in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 4:3). Accepting and believing the Gospel is necessary, compulsory, mandatory, for an outward expression of true of love.

Outward appearances can be tricky though, especially because people caught up with just “being nice” also know how to oil you over with their words. This is nothing new. “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Rom 16:18). But do not be naive. Study and search the Word of God for yourself. Even the prophet Samuel was very impressed with Eliab’s stature when he was at Jesse’s house to anoint the next king. But God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). We know this story and yet our propensity is to decide how loving a person is based on their donation amount or even the time they spend giving of themselves and others. “What a giver!” we say. And all the while, God may have rejected that individual and their giving. Let me put it this way. Every  action has a motive but different motives, even ones that are opposed to each other in every way, can actually produce the same action. An example that comes to mind is a passage from Phil 2:15-17 “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” What is the action here? The preaching of Christ. This is the noblest of actions. However, Paul points out that it can be motivated by two dramatically irreconcilable and antithetical motives – love or selfish ambition. If we have any value for our eternal life and that of our hearers, we must let the fear of the Lord teach us how to carefully ensure that our actions have the right motive, the correct motive, the motive that makes that action acceptable in the eyes of God.

That was just the introduction. Now, having shared that, let me predicate the subsequent discussion with this thought – that it is very perplexing to me when I stop a moment and ponder the great gulf between a discussion of love and a demonstration of love. The matter is even more difficult to contemplate when I consider those cases where love seems to have been apprehended well by the mind, that is to say the intellect, but has not made its way to the pit of the bowels where compassion and pity move one to act on behalf of others. I have been in church all my life, so I have had plenty of time to make observations. I have attended many a bible study where love was discussed but people did not seem to be fundamentally altered, my self included. I have heard many sermons on love but I did not see them applied. I heard of and engaged in many social causes within Christian circles, but it only further impressed on me that true love was absent. It felt very ostentatious. I am writing about that true love discussed earlier; the love whose source is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please do not allow yourself a cursory glance past this previous statement because the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be the heartbeat of the Christian’s love and I have often had it pointed out to me by the Spirit of God that it is possible to give all you have to the poor or become a martyr and not have love as you do it (1 Cor 13).

No, it is not love to refuse to give but giving does not mean that we are loving for real. Participation in social causes is not evidence of love. Indeed, I cannot think of a better example than this to typify the confusion about love. As soon as we hear of a social cause, we are galvanized and get carried away by reveries of saving the world and don’t stop to think about what is driving us to do it. My own experience has shown me that the combination of not knowing the Word of God and an immaturity in discerning God’s leading is lethal in these situations. You don’t know it, but your own arrogance blinds to you to the fact that you do not yet know how to sustain, contain and maintain this kind of work (Malachi 3:1-3). You can mislead and destroy both yourself and those you seek to help if you have not been persuaded by Jesus about His Gospel and planted by God in Jesus. Wrong motives in God’s work can destroy. I believe that is why God says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord.”

Our tendency however, is to ignore the small impressions of God that tell as we are not yet ready. Instead, we whisper pathetic prayers, just so we can say “we prayed about it”, but there is no sincere praying to seek God’s face and His strategies for tackling those issues. Fasting is simply out of the question. We don’t read the Word of God, but without any reverence for Spirit of Truth we pull out verses and misquote them as though we know Him, when in reality we have not spent any time allowing the Spirit of God to bring life to the Word of God in us. This is the most Biblically non-literate group of young people that I have ever been around. And when we do finally sit down to read it, we use worldly wisdom to interpret God’s Word when that same Bible clearly states that the world cannot know God through its own wisdom (1 Cor 1:21; 2 Cor 5:21). The reason you find yourself drawn to the world, to its logic, to its behavior is because you yourself are using worldly wisdom to understand God (1 John 4:5). We question His Word, doubt His promises, question His self-revelation through His Holy Scriptures and because this is not enough, we taint the name of God with our lifestyles and bring the “way of truth into disrepute” (2 Pet 2:2). Then, we have the nerve, the chutzpa, to post pictures and videos of our godless little efforts to help others on social media, often making critical remarks about the very same church folks that fed us, taught us, and educated us. If you have so much love bursting over for sex slaves, where’s some of that for the elderly folks in your church? But no, “they’re fundamentalists!” Is there no one who is stopping to ponder the fact that it doesn’t make sense for you to love a homeless man on the street when you can’t even obey your parents, be a responsible student, have discipline to wake up early and pray, stop fornicating or stop watching filth that dishonors God? Where is the generation that says “I won’t go unless you send me. I want to love for real!”? We don’t respect our pastors or fellow believers. We hardly spend time with God but we have so much to say about Him. Have we really become that delusional? I’m not buying what this age is selling. My own walk with God has shown me that often times, it is the illusion of heroism, whose origin is the inconspicuous and odious sinful nature of selfish ambition, that is the impetus for our good deeds. To make matters worse, the logic of the world knows just how to appeal to our sinful nature so that we do “good” under the guise of love and our fear of being considered intolerant hinders us from challenging the seemingly natural but unbiblical flow of logic. I like how Oswald Chambers puts it:

“Along with the sense of the heroic there is a base element of selfishness, a lurking desire to fix the scene of our own martyrdom” Chambers, Oswald. So Send I You / Workmen of God: Recognizing and Answering God’s Call to Service (Kindle Locations 493-494). Discovery House. Kindle Edition.

There it is. That hateful trait of selfish ambition. I hope you feel confronted by its disgusting nature. I hope you let God rip it out of you. It will be painful. I know because I have experienced it. But God hates selfish ambition. God is love but selfish ambition is not in His nature and He is very, very put off by it. He will NOT use it as the birth place of real love.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:14-16

So now, “acts of love” become an evil practice in the eyes of God because they are motivated by selfish ambition. The Father is not at all impressed by how nice we are, or how much we give and do. He is not broke and His own right hand will work out righteousness for Him. HE, not you or I, will establish a throne in justice and righteousness. (Isa 59: 16; 16:5). Our job is to be still and know that He is God, while He is exalted in the nations and in the earth. He searches the intent, the motive, the root (1 Chr 28:9; Ps 33:13-15). His intent to purify us of all ungodly inclinations and intents, known or unknown to us comes with him using us to change the world. We must have a pure heart that is motivated by heavenly wisdom (James 3:17; Eph 5:25-27). I will not look beyond the scriptures for examples of this. We need only to contrast the widow commended by Jesus for the two pennies she gave with the generous, yet selfish giving of Ananias and Sapphira. Judge for yourself who pleased God with their giving. I state again emphatically that the motive must be the love whose source is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. I speak to the spiritually mature on what I write next. Little done on the basis of the love of Christ is by far, more superior than much done out of any other motive. When we give because of Jesus, it is not just that we give, but give what God wants and with the attitude He wants it given. Cain and Abel. Need I say more?

Let me end with what I learned from the aforementioned book by Oswald Chambers. I realize that most of us really do want to love, but as Chambers points out, we just don’t know ourselves well. We’re like Peter, promising to die to with Jesus and then fearing to acknowledge him before others when it counts. But hopefully, our weakness does not mean we are insincere about our desire to work for God or truly love. Thankfully, Jesus made it very simple. He said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29). This is where the work of God starts and ends. In the final verse of his Gospel account, John states that he wrote about the miracles that Jesus did so that we “may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). What is the motive for love, for helping others? For giving? The motive for loving others is Jesus, the love of Jesus, God’s love for us in Jesus. May every good deed, every financial gift, every friendly conversation, every stranger welcomed, every meal shared, every mission trip, flow out of our continued belief that Jesus is the Son of God. 2 Cor 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died, and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

Return, and take us home

I eagerly await
Your soon return O Lord
I’m feeling more like a stranger
With each day spent on earth
I long to see your face
And touch the hands that bear
The marks that make me scarless
And the wounds that heal my pain

O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!
O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!

 

jesus-coming-again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As aliens in this world
We live in reverent fear
Of a Father judging justly
Yet heeding every prayer
Just as Jesus is pure
We’re purifying ourselves
So we won’t be ashamed when
We see Him face to face
O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!
O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!

You’re not slow in carrying out your Word
And we know though it hasn’t happened yet,
You’re coming soon; this we believe
Our eyes will see salvation’s sure relief
The skies will crack and the trumpet sound
We’ll live with you forever where love abounds

O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!
O come! Jesus come!
Return and take us home!

Jesus, my song in the night

red-sea-partedJesus you’re my song in the night,
When hope seems to evade me
Amidst the terrors of doubt.
Jesus you’re the Rock I seek
When ground that once felt certain
Begins to quake and sink

And in those times
Though I can’t see
I’ve come to know
You’re in the fire with me
As I simply look
Upon your face
And hold my gaze,
By your grace
You’ll bring me through.

Jesus this isn’t the first time
The enemy is roaring
To cloud your truth with lies.
But Savior, you’ve delivered me before
And I’ve set my hope on you
That you’ll do this more and more

My once peaceful mind
Now a battlefront
Still contemplates
How you’ve won before
Yes the praise of God
Is still in my mouth!
And my slipping foot
Relies upon
The love of God.

The Spirit of God is comforting me and you.

Not in Vain

Not in Vain

It’s not in vain
It’s not vain
Serving God is not in vain

So give yourself completely
To the work of the Lord
Let nothing move you be firm
In the power of our God
Hold to the hope
You profess unswervingly
For the One who promised
Will keep you faithfully

It’s not in vain
It’s not in vain
Serving God is not in vain

Some may say in their pride
Serving God is futile
Why go about in mourning
As sinners prosper all the while
Yet let us who fear the Lord
Continue on
A scroll of remembrance is written
For those who honor God

Keep serving, keep looking up
For there is a harvest, if you don’t give up

It’s not in vain
It’s not in vain
Serving God is not in vain