Finding Favor

20131112-195746.jpg

The Cornerstone African congregation is hosting a women’s retreat this Saturday, 16 Nov 2013. It will be a time of worship, prayer and seeking The Lord.

As we are gearing up for the retreat, the Lord has been teaching me and preparing me from the main scripture we have chosen for the retreat. It has been a time of experiencing God’s favor and finding rest in serving Him instead of having to strive to prepare for the retreat.

God has brought different people to help out in the retreat. During a prayer meeting with the organising team, we felt that there will be different ‘flavors’ of worship during the retreat, with women from different nations and different walks of life coming together to worship the King. Over the next few weeks, we have had different ladies from the church agree to help lead us in worship during the retreat, or to accompany on instruments. It will indeed be different ‘flavors’, yet with one passion and desire to worship the King.

As we prayed for the retreat and as I studied the Book of Esther over the last few weeks, a few things have really stood out.

1) Esther went through a period of preparation which spanned one year before coming into the presence of the King – 6 months with myrrh, 6 months with perfumes.

2) The sole purpose of Esther’s preparation was to please the King when she comes into His presence.

3) Esther found favor in the King’s sight and He granted her an audience, and also her desires.

1) Time of Preparation

Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.
Esther 2:12

It is interesting to note that Esther, like all the other women, had to go through 6 months of preparation with oil of myrrh and 6 months with perfumes.

A little search on wikipedia reveals the following:

“The word “myrrh” derives from the Aramaic murr, meaning “was bitter”.”
“When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh

Myrrh is a bitter sap. And it is interesting that Wikipedia uses the terms wound and bleed to describe the process of harvesting myrrh.

I have read that being prepared with the oil of myrrh is like a time of modern-day ‘detoxification’, our bodies being purified of toxins. But just looking this up today revealed more interesting findings. How are our spirits being detoxed? It is by going through tough times (or bitter times). And being wounded, and bled of our own ambitions, pride and self. I know this to be true as during prayer last week, God reminded me that in this time of preparation, there will be difficult times and difficult situations. But as we are wounded and bled, let us not become bitter, but allow the fragrance of Christ to flow out of us.

The next 6 months following the detoxification was a time of being soaked in perfumes. I guess it makes sense that unless we have been washed of our own stinking pride, no amount of perfume can make us smell good. Just imagine using perfume day after day without showering. Hmm… It is exciting to be looking forward to encounters with the Lord that will leave His fragrance lingering on us. I am reminded of Mary who came to anoint the Lord Jesus with an alabaster flask of expensive perfume. As she worshipped and poured out her love offering, imagine the fragrance that would have filled the room. Even as we worship the King this Saturday, I can imagine the fragrance that will fill the room and may that fragrance linger on us as we become carriers of His glory.

2) It is not for us, it is for the King

I shared in our service last Sunday that just the week before, I was looking forward to the retreat as a time of getting away from the busy-ness of life, of being a working mom who’s also involved in ministry. “Oh, how I look forward to being refreshed in the Lord’s presence.” In that week itself, I’ve realized that the retreat is not for me, but for Him.

I was reading one of John Piper’s book and he talked about how bringing Him glory is our sole and main purpose in life. We are never truly satisfied until we have put Him at the centre of all that we do. He asked this question, “Do you feel loved more loved by God because He makes much of you or because, at great cost to His Son, He frees you to enjoy knowing Him and treasuring Him and making much of Him?”

When we shift from being self-centered and inward-looking, and live not for self-gratification, we will find our satisfaction from pleasing God and being in His will.

Even as Esther went through the preparation with the sole purpose of pleasing the King, may our purpose in coming for the retreat be to please the King and pour out our love and worship for Him. No agenda, not for me, but for the King.

3) Being in a place of favor with the King.

Esther found favor in the sight of the King and He granted her her requests.

The place of favor is also a place of rest. When we are in that place, we find that we don’t have to strive to make things happen, we don’t have to fight to get what we want. The King shows favor because He knows His bride is asking for things not for herself, but that are according to His will. He can trust her with His authority and resources knowing she will not work against Him but for Him.

I have seen a little of how that works in the preparation for the retreat. I shared earlier about people coming to lead in worship. I didn’t scramble to get these precious ones, but The Lord moved their hearts to want to be part of this special day of encountering the King and I’m amazed at how quickly they said ‘Yes’ when I approached them to come minister. And even though planning this retreat is right smack in the middle of a busy period at work (and being 8 months pregnant!), I have felt such peace, joy and strength, and also unity and love working and praying with the other ladies in the organizing team.

If you are reading this, I hope you catch what we have prayed and felt for the retreat and it will prepare your heart as you come. Come expecting. If you haven’t decided to come, do come. Come, let us adore Him.

Blessings,
Delia Walcott

We all need the Saviour

Daddy led Evan in the sinner’s prayer today. He’s understanding sin and the outcome of sin, and the sacrifice and redemption by Jesus. And he is ready to ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins and to come into his life.

Over the last few months he’s been asking about hell and why Jesus let the soldiers crucify Him and why He has scars in his hands. And we’ve been explaining God’s redemption to him.

I think it is very important for Christian parents to explain God’s salvation to the children and to pray with them, not just thanksgiving or petition prayers, but to ask Jesus into their lives. Teaching in children’s church, I give a salvation call every few months. And every time, there have been children who wanted to ask Jesus into their lives and to save them. I think we must not take for granted that our children have prayed that. We need to teach them to pray, because prayer is our weapon for warfare. And it starts with surrendering our lives to Jesus. And we need to lead and guide them into that prayer to give their lives to Jesus.

Even in my class of 11 and 12 year olds, there are some who have been in church almost their whole lives and have never asked Jesus into their lives. Just because no one has asked them if they wanted to. I first saw the gospel presentation when I was 6, and I totally understood and believed that Jesus did that for me; He went through the pain and suffering, and went to the cross for me. But it wasn’t till I was 11 that someone led me in the sinner’s prayer, even though I’d been attending children’s church for a while already. It’s no one’s fault. We just have to remember to ask the children if they have said the sinner’s prayer and not take for granted that they have.

Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. He also said for us to come to Him like little children. So they are not too young to come to the Saviour and enter into a relationship with Him. We all need the Saviour.

Lifting hands to worship

 

Last Saturday, the boys were with us in church. During worship, as we stood lifting our hands in worship, the sight of the boys lifting up their little hands in worship was a most touching one.

 

Their hands may not reach very high or very far, but I just had a feeling then that they could reach God sometimes more easily than we can.

 

We are told to come like these little children.

 

Reaching out those hands to the Father. Not asking for anything. Simply in worship of Who He is.

Living with the Children at Simo

Last Friday, I went on my second trip to Surabaya, Indonesia. The first time I went was in December of 2010 with a Couriers mission team from church. I’ve always wanted to go back again and got to do so this month, as a birthday present from the best husband in the world!

On the plane

This time I went with just my sister. It was my first mission trip going with my sister! After all these years. It’s both our dreams to work with children and run homes to save orphans and unwanted or abused children. So it was a great opportunity to visit the ministry of Pondok Hayat in Surabaya.

Also, our church had sent out a volunteer to Surabaya and she’s in her third month there. I wanted to visit her and spend time with her. Alicia is only 19 and wanted to give time to missions before she starts university. It was a great encouragement to see what a blessing she is to the ministry in Pondok Hayat. Also to beat her in Monopoly Deal. Heh.

 

The most unforgettable part of this trip, that also made it so different from others before, is that we stayed at a children’s home with 11 orphans. So often we go on trips, minister in the day and then go back to our hotel rooms or guest homes. We kind of distant ourselves to what is happening in the third world countries. But to actually stay with the children and be a part of their daily lives was life-changing. When we came home, it was hard to focus on our daily lives, knowing that somewhere, someone is needing love, not just love, but loving guidance and teaching. And we long to be with them.

 

My sister texted me as she was sitting in a morning meeting at work, Why are we discussing these things that really don’t matter in the long run? And I wrote on my facebook, as much as I’m glad to be home with my family, I also wish I was there with the children, making a difference in their lives simply by loving them and letting them know they are loved. If only I can ‘commute’ there to work! I can live with that as my day job. 🙂 I know my kids would love to go with me too. I asked Evan what he will help me do there and he said, “I can help you cook, Mommy!” 🙂

 

These 11 children were unwanted by their mothers who got pregnant before they were married. No one in the organisation helping these unwed mothers know who the fathers are. But the shelter, Pondok Hayat (Hut of Life), gives these mothers hope, and these babies a future. It saved the babies from the clutches of death through abortion and gave them a chance to be born into this world. Many of the babies get adopted (thank God for the favour on the ministry), but many also get left behind. When they grow to be 4 years old, they move to Simo Children’s Home, which was where we stayed, with these precious dear ones.

 

Each of them is special. Each of them is full of life, full of love. On the first day, one of the founders of the ministry already told me, “Please discipline them.” My reply, “I’m only going to be here 4 days! I don’t want them to hate me!” But we all know that disciplining our children is part of loving them. And with their main caregiver going home for the weekend (she must have timed it for when we are there!), I had to hold up my role! I’m glad I didn’t have to do much in terms of correction, just certain things they picked up from school that I had to explain to them are rude or not good. I spent more time hugging, kissing, praying for them, and playing with them.

 

We played soccer, went on swings, and did cartwheels. Yes, cartwheels. The boys are crazy over a current TV show called Madun, which is about a boy soccer genius. The stunts in the show are obviously fake, but the boys aspired to be able to perform them nonetheless. “Miss, can you do this and kick the ball?” What? Cartwheel AND kick the ball? “No I can’t. I’m too old!” “Miss, I know, you cannot do it because you are a girl.” What?! Trying to provoke me? Not going to work. I’m too old boys. But I can do a cartwheel. Here we go! And they’re only a little impressed… and went on to try their Madun moves. Staying with the children was also a good opportunity to practise my bahasa!

 

“Miss! Look!” “Miss! Tie my hair?” “Miss! Come!” “Miss!” All of them calling at the same time, while I was trying to get 2 girls to finish their food. By 8:30pm of the second night, I was beat! And after the kids were in bed, the caretakers had piles of folding and ironing to do! We offered to help, but our offer was turned down (not that we were that disappointed!).

Playing games
The boys doing their 'Madun' stunts
This is really funny. To show them what a girl can do, when they said I couldn't do the stunts because I'm a girl, I did a series of turns to show them something they can't do!
Giving Maria a 'princess' hairdo
Jack and I

 

Besides spending time with the children at Simo, we also had bible study with the mothers, spoke at a youth outreach meeting (they hold a weekly meeting for the teens in a poor community), helped develop an English curriculum for the pre-schools and elementary school, had a teacher fellowship/sharing, and played with the babies at Pondok Hayat. And these are what the staff and volunteers do everyday and every week. They have such an extensive and fruitful ministry. The schools are an outreach to the community too as they provide almost free education for a lot of children. By meeting the physical needs of the community, the hearts of the people are very much more open to the gospel and the people more willing to listen to the Christians share.

Spending time with the babies at Pondok Hayat

 

This is what I think we need to do. The church needs to rise up and let our light shine. We need to put the love we have from God in action and bring that love to the community. James 1:27 says, “True and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

 

(To read more about Pondok Hayat, you can visit their website at www.pondokhayat.org. But you’ll need Google translate coz it’s in bahasa. 🙂 Waiting for my sis to post more pictures of the kids on her facebook since we took most of the pictures on her camera!)

WHY

Sometimes we get so busy we forget about the things that really matter. Today as I took some time to be alone to finish some work, I listened to some of my favourite songs about what really matters – Jesus.

As I was listening to this one song, “Why” by Nicole Nordeman, it reminded me of the centrality of the cross. Why? The reason for the cross.

Those of us who have watched The Passion, a film by Mel Gibson, we would have seen a stark portrayal of the physical pain, torture and anguish that Jesus went through on the road to the cross. The whip wasn’t just a simple whip, it had metal and sharp bits at the end so that when you are whipped, the end tears into your skin and flesh and rips it from your body in agonizing pain. We cringe when we think about that. But that was the reality of the pain that Jesus endured. Why? The reason for the cross.

“He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so that we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5.

Jesus died so that we may live.

It was the only way to eternal life. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Being God incarnate, He was perfect and without sin. He was the High Priest who pleaded for us before the Father. He was the sacrificial Lamb that was slain.

Jesus endured the whipping so that by His stripes, we can be healed.

When He went through the whipping and the crucifixion, He felt every pain in every muscle because He was human in His body just as we are, though without sin. There was no shortcut for this. He had to go through with it. For our sakes.

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.

“…Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame..” Hebrews 12:2.

It was for us that He endured the cross. He saw each and every one of us, and thought, for His creation whom He so longs to be reconciled with, it is worth it. We are why He must die…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14tZRDdwggU

“My precious son
I hear them screaming
I’m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe you in robes of my own
Jesus this hurts me much more then you know
But this dark hour
I must do nothing
Though I’ve heard your unbearable cries
The power in your blood
Destroys all of the lies
Soon you’ll see past their unmerciful lies
Look there below
See the child
Trembling by her father’s side
Now I can tell you why
She is why you must die”

So when we sin wilfully, we are trampling the blood of Jesus, taking it lightly, almost as if we are causing Him to go through the pain of the cross again. It breaks my heart to think of that. Yet I sin, and bring Him pain. But it is in His power to forgive and deliver us from sin, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. It is like when Jesus forgave the woman who was caught in adultery, He didn’t condemn her, and told her to “Go, and sin no more.”

I have been reading the gospels and am amazed at the character of Jesus. Such power, yet such meekness. Such righteousness and justness, yet such mercy and forgiveness. Where man chose to condemn, He chose to forgive. Where man chose to kill, He chose to give life. Where man chose to do evil, He could only do what is right.

Why? The reason for living.

He is my reason to live.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBKr7gUY1Mo

God cares about the little things in our lives, even finding a parking space!

This may seem like a silly little thing to most people, but if you’re coming home at night with 2 kids in the backseat and you can’t find a decent parking space close to your home, you end up having to carry little ones (not so little anymore) allllll the way back from wherever you park. So it matters to us to have a good parking lot when we get home at night. Past 8, there’s always almost no parking spaces within 50 metres from our place. The radius increases as it becomes later.

So we’ve started praying for a parking space when we are close to home. This actually started last year when I just mentioned to Caleb that we needed to pray for a parking space. And he prayed, and there was one right close by our place! It’s a miracle in itself! The prayers of little ones prayed in innocent, childlike faith are answered. The little guy has prayed for rain to stop and it has. He knows for a fact that God hears his prayers. Sometimes we feel as if his faith was stronger than ours. Or perhaps it is that he has no doubt that God hears and answers his prayer. With faith like a mustard seed, we can move mountains. It is not how big our faith is, but how small our doubt is. Lord, help my unbelief.

So one time I was alone with the 2 boys and driving home. So I asked Caleb to pray for a parking space. He did and there was a lot. “Mommy, did God move the car away so we have a parking space?” I’m picturing in his little mind that he’s thinking God literally moved another car to make space for ours. So I told him God may have done so indirectly by letting a car clear out just as we were driving in. But not that He plucked it out of the space!

Last night I didn’t have Caleb with me. Both boys were at home with sitters while I attended a meeting in church. Long before I got home, I started praying for a parking space. But then I got to thinking, I don’t think that’s possible. It was already past 10pm. Immediately I reminded myself not to doubt but to be open to expect little miracles. It’s not about whether I can ‘believe’ things to come to pass, but just that I can choose not to be negative and think the worst before I see the end. I even reasoned within myself whether I genuinely needed a good parking space since I didn’t have the boys with me. (Ok I know you probably think I’m really strange by now. But what do you do when you’re driving alone? Don’t you talk to yourself? You don’t? Oh well… some people do…) It would still be nice to have a good space since I’d have to take the boys out the next morning. So anyway I decided to just wait and see.

By the time I turned into the carpark, I wasn’t really hopeful about a parking space, but what do I see?? A parking space! Just by the entrance of the carpark, 10 metres from my home. It was a little corner. You would easily have missed it. I had a do a double take to make sure it was indeed a legitimate parking space. Unbelievable! These are little miracles in life that are not critical, but just reminds us how much God loves us and cares about us, even the seemingly insignificant areas of our lives. And when we pray, He hears. He hears even a little whisper, a wish or hope in our hearts. Just because He loves us.

So next time you pray, come before Him like a little child and expect good things from the Father because He loves you and cares for you.

“25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34

Prophetic Destiny of a Generation

Riding on what Bill Norton preached on Saturday, this post is about the prophetic generation of the end times believer, including our and our children’s generations.

When I was expecting our first child, Caleb, I felt the Lord say that our children will see the coming of the Lord. I have always prayed that my generation will see the coming of the Lord, and am still hoping that we will not see death, but will meet with the Bridegroom when He comes again. But with each coming generation, the day of the Lord’s coming is nearer. Hence, it is even more likely that the coming generations will see the Lord’s return.

One of the names we had for the baby, if it was a girl, was Anna. Anna saw the Messiah, the Lord when He first came to earth. I felt like this was the prophetic destiny of our child. Of course, we had a boy, and named him Caleb. I didn’t think much about the thought of his generation seeing the coming of the Lord. Every now and then, I would remember that. Sometime last year, just before his fourth birthday, we were having a conversation and out of the blue, Caleb asked when Jesus is coming back. He asked me to pray and ask when Jesus is coming back when I told him I don’t know when He’s coming back. And I asked him if he wants Jesus to come back, and he said Yes, he does. It showed a sincere desire for the Lord, and to see the Lord, from the heart of a young child. I was reminded of how I’d felt that our children’s generation will see the coming of the Lord. And I saw that desire in Caleb, a desire for the Lord to return. And I told him to start praying for the Lord to return.

In the recent years, we’ve seen so much of Matthew 24 happen – earthquakes, famines, wars, rumours of wars – we know that the Lord is coming again. But the gospel is not yet brought to the ends of the earth. There is yet work to be done.

I don’t profess to be a prophet and say that our children WILL see the Lord. But this is our sincere prayer, that we will see the glorious day of His return, and the wonderful days that He will be King over all the earth.