Sunday, January 27, 2008

Becoming a Man of Significance (Pt. I)

Being a Man of Success or Significance?

Success vs. Significance

Recently, I took a 10 day personal retreat at my favorite place of rest: Singing Waters, Canada. This has been my third time here and each time God has met me profoundly in a personal way. The first time I came, He saved my life by transforming my heart and showing me who I really am. The second time I came, He saved my ministry by giving me permission to understand I didn't have to do it all. This time, God brought me here to save my purpose.

For many people, the meaning of life is a big question mark. Most people want to be successful in life. That is, to be important, valued, honored, respected, for what they do. The world tells us we are successful when we achieve great things, produce great results, and perform well according to the standards of society. Our significance comes from what we do, not who we are, let alone the relationships we have. We are told all our lives that we are "nothing" unless we do "something." Sadly, for most of my life I came to believe this lie that "I am what I do."

For the last 27 years of my existence this was my purpose, to be successful. Even, in the last 10 years of my born again Christian experience, I thought to be a successful Christian it meant I had to do everything God asked me to do perfectly. I thought my ultimate purpose was to know God and make Him known at all costs. Therefore, I strove with great zeal to seek Him wholeheartedly and preach the Gospel to as many people as possible. This was my task, my mission, my sole purpose. I thought I had to sacrifice all in order to please God and others. I lived for the vision. I lived everyday not for the present moment, but the future possibility. I was driven by my dreams, ambition and prophecies spoken over my life to do great things for God, because I thought in order to be successful in God, I had to sacrifice all, even relationships to do the will of the Lord. But God doesn't want our sacrifice, He simply wants our obedience, He wants our love. God has been speaking to me loud and clear these last few days that life is not about a task to accomplish. More so, life is about relationships. A relationship with God and relationship with others, for we were created for this one thing, to have friendship with God and to give this loving friendship to those He has placed in our lives. In the few short days I've been here, I've come to realize what I really want is significance, not success. But what does it mean to be a man of significance?

Significance can't come from the world's definition. Our significance does not come from what we do, who we know, what we have or what we have accomplished. Our significance does not come from what title we hold what degree we earned or what society shouts as success. As Christians, we must understand that our significance does not come from what we do for God, what we achieve in ministry, or whether or not we do everything right. Our value, our worth, and our significance can only come from Christ alone. It's not about what I can do for Him it's about what He has done for me. My righteousness does not come from anything I can do, earn or achieve, even for God. Righteousness comes from what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. He doesn't need us to do anything for Him, to prove our love for Him. When He died and rose again, He took away not only my sin, but all my shame (my feelings of wrongness) and He gave me all His forgiveness and unconditional love. This love is completely without condition. It loves me just as I am. Love loves me when I'm doing good, when I'm doing bad, when I mess up, miss the mark, and royally blow it, His unconditional love still loves me and it tells me that I am significant, not for what I have done, but because of who He is. For this Jesus whom we know is love. "For the joy set before Him He endured the cross scorning its shame." (Heb 12) I am the joy of God. Even when I rejected Him, Jesus saw me as the joy set before Him, and He was willing to bear my sins because He missed me, He wanted to know me intimately again. Because of His sacrifice, I am completely forgiven, made right in His eyes and now can have relationship with our heavenly Father.

This is success, that, "I love Him, He loves me, therefore I am successful."

I've known this, quoted this for some time, but there is a difference in knowing something is true and living that truth out in your life. Until a truth is lived, it is only a thought. What I am about to share candidly is my passion and purpose to do what is right, what is true, what is noble and what is honorable before my God. I pray you understand.

You see, in the last few years of my journey in Christ, I've lost the very thing Jesus died for, the very thing that makes me significant, the very thing that makes a real difference and that is my relationship with God. But not only have I lost my relationship with God, I've lost my relationship with the ones I care the most for, my family and friends. When you lose the One thing, you will inevitably lose the others. I'm humbled and all I can say is that I want to get my life back.

What I write below is a series of lessons I've learned as I've heard God's voice in these recent days to bring me back to what it means to live a life of significance.

"Bella" – True Success is Being Faithful to Your Values

In November 2007, I was able to help market and promote a powerful independent film called "Bella." I got behind this film not only because of its pro-life message, but because of the integrity of the men who gave up everything to make this film. The leading actor, Eduardo Verastegui was at the height of his acting and singing career in Latin America, he sold out soccer stadiums at his concerts and was offered leading roles in major Hollywood films. Yet, he gave it all up when he found Christ through an English teacher in Los Angeles. She asked him, "Eduardo what are you doing with your life? What are you doing with the talents God has given you?" He thought he was a religious person, but in actuality his life did not match his faith. One day this English tutor said to him, "If you say you honor God, then why do you keep offending Him?" When Eduardo heard this, he was so convicted that he repented in tears for three weeks straight. After this time of repentance, he made a commitment to God that he would never take a role or make a film that would offend God again, even if it meant losing his entire career.

The Lord led him to give up just that. After this encounter with God, he fired his entire staff, management and rejected every leading role for major blockbuster films because they did not agree with his morals and spiritual convictions. Eduardo, later on by the divine providence met two other Latin brothers who also gave up their high profile careers in Hollywood in order to make films that made a difference for God's kingdom. They formed a small production company called "Metanoia Films" (metanoia in Greek means repentance, a light in the darkness) and they emptied out their bank accounts, lived on almost nothing to make this beautiful movie "Bella." At certain times, they had so little finances that Eduardo's friends said, "Why don't you just take some of the movie roles you are being offered to get income, they aren't so bad." His response was, "Even if I have to go back to Mexico and flip tacos to make a living, I won't do a role or film that dishonors God.

When I heard the producer of Bella share this testimony at our national student conference at UCLA, my heart was convicted. Truly, this was what Jesus meant when He said, "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me." Later on, as the movie "Bella" was released and become a nationwide independent film success, Eduardo was interviewed on FOX news. The interviewer said, "Well, Eduardo you are considered the new Brad Pitt or Antonio Banderas, what do you think of that with your new found success and attention? There must be a lot of pressure to live up to the expectations."

Eduardo's response was, "In this country we think that success is everything and if you don't get to the top of the mountain, you're nobody. I say, seek to be a person of value. That's what success is for me now; being faithful to your principles. And doing what you know in your heart is right. And if the world recognizes you for doing what's right, then that's a blessing, but it's not true success. True success is being faithful to God and your values" (Para-phrased)

When I saw that interview, my heart was convicted again. I don't want to be a man of success I want to be a man of significance. I want to be man of character, honor, and integrity. I want to be a man who is faithful to his values and does what He knows in his heart is right. I don't want to live one life in the public and another life in private. I want to be honest before God and others. And never, ever do I want to compromise my values in exchange for worldly success.

Humbled & Utterly Broken

Around the same time I was promoting this film Bella, I was also on a 3 month straight itinerant speaking tour. Weekend after weekend, I spoke at another university, church or revival conference to thousands of students. It was during this speaking tour that I realized I had broken a promise I made to the Lord. One year before, I had told God that I would slow down in ministry, take less speaking engagements so that I could have more time with Him and others. Instead, I was still busier than ever. In my heart, I knew that I was compromising my values. I preached about having intimacy with God, but I was not living it daily in my life. Every time I came back from my ministry trips, my body would be exhausted, my daily spiritual disciplines were not consistent, and spiritually I was depleted. I was giving out, but there was nothing coming in. You can't give what you don't have. Yet, I was too stubborn and driven by the ministry demands to stop. And then God humbled me, big time.

For the last two years I have lived with a special family that has taken me into their home in Los Angeles Ca. This family has adopted me as their own son, yet I have treated them as foreigners. In particular, Aunty Sharon the mother whose home I stay in has loved me beyond words can express. This woman is the most loving and anointed woman of God I have ever met. She literally prays and fellowships with the Holy Spirit hours upon hours each day. Two years ago she agreed to take me into her home, because she and her husband knew I was struggling in my walk with God and they desired to help me. Day after day, week after week, Aunty Sharon would lay hands and pray for me for hours at a time after my ministry trips. Each time she prayed for me, it was if the presence of God would pour over my heart like liquid love. Yet, each time she saw me, I was in the same state of being. I was tired, worn out from spiritual warfare and spiritually emptied in ministry. She would keep telling me, "Jaeson you need to slow down and spend more time with God, you still have too much pride and you are doing ministry in your own strength." Each time she told me this, I told her I would make changes, but I never did. I made promises, but they were empty. What was worse, I took her prayers for granted and their family hospitality towards me for granted. I treated that home like a hotel. I came in to eat, sleep and then I went back out to minister more.

This erratic lifestyle finally caught up. After a strenuous ministry trip in October, my Aunty Sharon, the woman I had loved so much, but shown so little appreciation for decided she would no longer pray for me or speak to me. She knew she had done all she could, but I was still not changing. I was living a double life, a life of hypocrisy. On one hand, I was preaching in the Holy Spirit's anointing from city to city, challenging young people to love God with all their hearts. Yet, at home I was a personal wreck. I didn't value my own personal relationship with God, and neither did I value my relationships with those I was living with in that precious home.

My heart was broken and ashamed. I knew I had done wrong and I asked God for mercy. God showed me that I was like the foolish virgins in Matthew 25 who asked the wise virgins for some of their oil before the Bridegroom returned. When the foolish virgins asked the wise virgins for some of their oil (which symbolizes their intimacy with God) the wise virgins said, "We are sorry, we can't give you our oil for we don't have enough, you must buy it for yourself." At that moment, I knew I was a foolish virgin and I could no longer get my intimacy with God by depending on Aunty Sharon to pray for me, I had to buy it for myself and it would cost me everything, even my ministry and outward success.

On Thanksgiving night, the family gathered to share around the dinner table what they were thankful to God for that year. When it came time for me to share, I broke down in tears and shared how thankful I was for each of them, Uncle Joseph, Aunty Sharon, Jonder and Jinder (their two sons who are my age) and how each of them have loved me unconditionally and shown me nothing but support. I also shared how sorry I was for not appreciating them as I should, for not valuing family time, because I was always too busy. As I shared, with tears rolling down my eyes, I realized growing up I never understood the importance of a family meal together, or just hanging out to hang out, or what it meant to go fishing with dad (as Uncle Joseph would take us out to do) because I never experienced it in the dysfunctional home environment I grew up in. Yet, at that moment I realized God had placed me in one of the most loving families in the world, as a gift to me, because He wanted me to experience what it meant to be part of a loving family. Instead, I had totally rejected and not appreciated the gift of family He had given to me. I was completely broken and ashamed.

That next morning, I woke up early and I heard the Holy Spirit say in my right ear "Go out to the living room and pray with Aunty Sharon." I told the Holy Spirit, "No, I am too ashamed to face her, I am not worthy." Then again, I heard the Holy Spirit say in my ear, "Go out to the living room and pray with Aunty Sharon!" Reluctantly, I got myself out of bed and I went out to the living room where Aunty Sharon was praying with worship music playing and I hid behind a couch so she couldn't see. I was too ashamed, and all I do was put my head between my knees and repent for my hypocrisy. Then, the cleaning lady had rung the door bell so Aunty Sharon had to answer. When she was walking back to the couch she must have saw me hiding in prayer. The next thing I know, I feel those same loving hands touch my back and begin to pray for me. It was Aunty Sharon praying for me once again, she had shown me mercy and given me a second chance! I don't know exactly what happened at that moment, but the presence of God began to touch me with such convicting power that I broke down weeping, uncontrollably, like a little boy weeping in his mothers arms. I kept saying sorry, over and over again. But this time, I knew sorry would not be enough, I would have to make a real change for the better. If not, my repentance would be all for nothing. I could no longer live the life I was living, doing ministry non-stop, while forfeiting my intimacy with God and relationship with others.

But what would this look like? How would I walk out this repentance? What was God asking of me? For true repentance is an inward decision that causes an outward change of action.

Missing Moments

That same Thanksgiving night when I confessed my short comings with my host family, I ended up talking with the two brothers (Jonder and Jinder) and their cousin Jaqueline about my situation with Aunty Sharon after dinner. They shared the truth to me in love. They shared bluntly how I had offended Aunty Sharon in many different ways during my time there and how I should go about reconcile my wrongs. It was humbling, but well received in my heart and I knew I had to make immediate changes.

Interestingly during this conversation, as I shared with them how I had all these pressures in ministry, demands to keep doing, and how it was so hard to stop this ministry machine that was running, their cousin Jacqueline stopped me and said, "Jaeson, you know what you are missing in your life? You're missing moments!" I said, "What do you mean?" She responded, "Jaeson, your life is like a roller coaster. You go from one big event to the next big event. You go from one supernatural prophetic experience to the next and your life isn't exactly real. You see, what makes life meaningful are the "moments" that make it. Moments are the little things everyday that we take for granted, that go unnoticed, that we fail to appreciate because we are so focused on our problems or the tasks that we need to accomplish that we end up always living in the past or future, but never in the present. Moments are the little things like enjoying the sunrise, or when you help somebody you don't know at the supermarket and they smile back, or the conversation you are having over a cup of coffee, those are moments. And Jaeson, you are lacking moments. It is these moments that fill the span of our lives and it is the accumulation of all these moments that make our lives meaningful, significant and worth living."

Those words stuck with me so deeply. Indeed, my life was missing moments. I had been so consumed my entire life with accomplishing a vision, that I was willing to sacrifice all that mattered in life, even my relationships to see the vision accomplished. For the past 10 years of my Christian journey, I thought my life calling was to be responsible to accomplish the dreams and visions that God had given me. How wrong I was. I thought being a committed follower of Christ meant I had to do something great for God in order to change the world. I thought it was all about fulfilling destiny, bringing revival to the nations and getting to the destination God had purposed me to. But what good is it to have gained the whole world for Jesus, but lose your own relationship with Him? What good is it to succeed in doing great things for God and others, to have prophesied, cast out demons, heal the sick, and preached to thousands, but miss the very purpose for which you were created for: loving relationship. This is not what I want. I don't want to die a revivalist. I want to die a friend of God and a friend to others in this life. I want to make moments again. Life is not about getting to the destination, but life is about walking with God on the journey to the destination. It's about making moments along the way with Him and others, because relationships are not a means to an end in order to achieve a vision. Relationships are the end, the very purpose for why we do what we do. Without them, all our visions, dreams and destinies are meaningless and empty.

I remember how I used to have no ministry responsibilities or name recognition. How I used to spend time with the Holy Spirit for hours each day in my little room in San Jose Ca. I remember how sweet those times of fellowship were with God. How I used to enjoy each day during my college years. I wore the same clothes to school everyday, because I didn't care, because I was so in love with God. I didn't care what others thought. I would see God in everything throughout the day, it was beautiful and free. I still remember the day I had to move from the house I was living in. Where I had to leave my room where I had met with God everyday for 4 years straight. Right when I was about to leave my room, I felt the Holy Spirit's presence tug my heart and tell me to wait a little longer. Then a rush of His love went through my being, and I began to weep with tears of sadness and at the same time tears of joy. It was the most intimate moment I've ever had with God in my entire life. I heard Him say to me, "Remember this place, this is where we met and fell in love, this will always be a memorial stone in my heart for you my son. Never forget what we experienced in this place." My heart weeps just thinking about this as I write. God misses me. And He remembers, yet I have been so quick to not remember, forgive me Lord, I want to create new moments again with You!

God's Purpose in Isolation

Sometimes, we don't know how to change, so God has to get our attention by sending us into times of isolation. I believe the Holy Spirit is leading me soon into a time of sovereign isolation. It's taken me 10 years to recognize what I really want. You see, God will give you what you want to show you what you really need. I thought for most of my life that what I wanted was to be successful, to make my life count, to do something great in this world for Him. God gave that to me, because I asked for it. In the last 10 years I've traveled the world and fulfilled what I believe God told me to do. I was obedient to the heavenly vision, "The Blueprint" if you may have it, and I preached the Gospel from campus to campus, city to city, nation to nation. Souls were won, disciples were made, hundreds of churches were planted and yes, lives were changed. Yet, in the midst of all the supernatural encounters, all the signs, wonders and miracles, my heart at times, felt empty. Why? It's not because God didn't want me to do all the things that I did for Him. The calling was always real. But what He wanted from me was not what I could do for Him, in order to please Him, but what He wanted was my heart. God will never have you sacrifice relationship with Him to do ministry for Him. Most Christian leaders I know have more of a relationship with their revelation, than they do with God. They are driven by the vision, by the ministry machine and not by relationship. This was me, and God had to wake me up to show me that successful ministry, will only leave you empty and dissatisfied if you don't have intimacy with Jesus and community with others.

The prophet Elijah had to learn that success for God is different from success in God. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah has a showdown with the prophets of Baal. He encounters God in a powerful way, fire falls down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice on the altar, all the opposing false prophets are destroyed and Elijah wins, or does he? In the very next chapter we find Elijah running for his life. Why? The evil queen Jezebel had put a price on his head. He then tells God he wished he was never born, that he feels abandoned and wants to quit. God responds by sending Elijah into the dessert, then to Mt. Horeb into a period of complete isolation. This story of Elijah always boggled my mind. How could this mighty prophet on one hand have such great power and success in ministry one day and the very next day be completely depressed, suicidal and wanting to give up on everything? It finally made sense recently when I was studying this book called "Isolation" for my Fuller Seminary class. The author explained the 4-fold process of isolation in transforming the life of a leader in this way…

  1. Stripping
  2. Wrestling with God
  3. Increased Intimacy
  4. Release to Look Toward the Future

As I did this inductive study on 1 Kings 18-19 I finally understood why Elijah responded the way he did. For Elijah, his success was found in what he did for God. His identity did not come from His relationship in God, but his identity came from his ministry, that is, what he did for God. When ministry was going great, he was doing great. When ministry was going bad, he was doing horrible, because his ministry had become his identity. He found his worth, his value and success in what He did. He related to God out of function, but not out of relationship. When we relate to God only for what He can do for us, we really have no relationship at all. All we end up doing is a lot of "stuff" for God, empty stuff, because really it's about ourselves and not about Him. We find our value in our performance and ministry becomes our identity. When we don't have relationship we don't have anything at all. Elijah had great success in ministry, but successful ministry will never leave you satisfied and fulfilled. The moment that success in ministry ends and you are left all alone, you become even more emptied inside, because all your satisfaction came from outward activity, not inward joy. God had to teach Elijah that his success was not found in the winds, the earthquake and the mighty fire, but rather, his significance was found in a "still small voice" that beckoned Elijah into an intimate relationship with His Creator.

In the process, God had to…

1) Strip Elijah from any success found in ministry, so God isolated Elijah by sending him persecution from Jezebel that forced him to run for his life into the dessert. In the dessert he had nothing. He had no one to tell him how great he was. He had no friends, no sustenance, no applause, no position and no ministry to find his identity or worth in. God had to strip all his external identities, so that Elijah could receive the identity God would place upon him.

2) Elijah had to "wrestle with God" in the dessert for forty days asking himself the question, "What is my true identity – apart from outward ministry?" He had to come face to face with who he really was. Not the prophet, not the mighty minister, not the guy who calls down fire from heaven, but the man who was in need of finding his true self. He had to wrestle with the important questions of life. Who was he really and what did he ultimately want? He had to come face to face with God and himself.

3) Increased intimacy was the result of Elijah's stripping and wrestling with God. He had to get honest before God, and through isolation he recognized he wasn't as in control or as put together as he thought he was. He admitted his character flaws, his need for change and most of all his need for God. He had to ask himself what he really wanted in life. Through this time of humbling, he knew he could no longer find his identity in successful ministry, he understood success is only found by being satisfied in the presence and loving arms of Jesus. As intimacy increased with Elijah and God, the need for "cutting edge" ministry decreased. He understood his true identity did not come from the external, but from his internal relationship with the Father. He could be still and finally know the still small voice of God was enough. This is what God wanted all along, and now what Elijah wanted, intimacy with God.

4) Elijah was released to look toward the future. He came out of the time of isolation, not by his own choice, but by the leading of the Spirit. For many, we try to leave God's sovereign work of isolation in our lives too early, but this can be dangerous because it proves His presence is still not enough. When Elijah left isolation, it was because God spoke to him, and told him his next assignment. He didn't move till God said so. Yet, this time, it was not about Elijah but it was about empowering the next generation to fulfill God's destiny. Elijah was called to anoint Jehu and Elisha to carry on the work. He did this with a quite peace, knowing it was no longer about himself, but about God and others.

When I studied God's purpose for Elijah in isolation, I knew God was asking me to experience the same. Like Elijah, I had found my identity in my performance and ministry for God. I kept doing and doing, becoming more tired, more dissatisfied each time I was left alone and wanted to quit at times because the ministry was too demanding. That's when God hit me with a tone of bricks.

I've been traveling non-stop doing itinerant ministry for nearly 7 years now. Around late December, all the traveling had finally caught up to my body. In mid November of 2007 I had taken on too much responsibility for the different projects I was working on. All the stress had mounted up and I was getting hardly any sleep at night. I would sleep for 2 hours, at most 3 hours and then I would wake up with my mind spinning. This lasted for more than 40 days straight. During the day, my body felt like it was walking through mud. My mind was exhausted and no matter how hard I tried to get work done, I couldn't because my energy was zapped. It got really bad, so I got a medical check up. I was diagnosed with "adrenal exhaustion" it's a symptom that happens to people when they become over stressed because they have completely exhausted their adrenal glands, which are the glands in the body that give us the drive and energy to get things done. I was told that if I didn't stop my hectic ministry schedule, something very bad could happen, something that I would regret if I did not make the right decision to slow things down.

This was my wake up call from God. He showed me, that I could either bench myself or that He would bench me, like He did to Elijah. I knew that God was telling me that I had to learn to rest. If not, ministry would consume me and become my god. When I received this diagnosis and medical warning, I went into a time of deep prayer and reflection. It was in this time I decided I needed to choose the place of isolation in order to find my true self again.

Near the new year of 2008, I wrote a personal letter to all my ministry partners worldwide. I shared with them honestly how I was burning out, losing my passion for Jesus and my medical condition. I told them I needed a break from ministry and would need to cancel certain ministry commitments for health reasons. This was one of the most difficult letters I had ever written, because I didn't want to let my friends down, but obedience is better than sacrifice. My friends from around the world responded with great grace and supported my decision. As of now, I've decided to finish certain ministry commitments in 2008, while cancelling others so that I can have adequate time to restore my body and get my life back into order. At the moment, I plan to take a one year sabbatical from all platform ministry (speaking publicly) beginning in Oct 2008. It's been difficult to say "no" but I'm glad I did it. I feel God's peace in this decision.

I've been asking myself recently what I really want in life. I've come to the conclusion that all I want is relationship with God and to build healthier relationships with those most important to me. I want to know Jesus more. I want to know what it means to truly live in Christ. I feel like I'm getting my heart back, a little bit at least and God is teaching me what it means to live again.

Becoming a Man of Significance (Pt. II)

Finding My Way Back - Returning to My First Love

The experiences and lessons learned above will help give a back drop to the experiences and lessons I have learned the past 10 days here at Singing Waters in Canada

All the trials and testing were given by God to prepare me for a new purpose. This purpose, this new meaning of what it means to be a person of significance has been burning in my heart like fire. I'm beginning to understand why I am here on this earth.

The first night I was here, I received a prophetic dream. Often times, God speaks to me through not only His written Word and prayer, but through dreams and visions. In this particular dream I was with an old friend named Alex Lee. I grew up with Alex at the first church I grew up in San Jose. Alex told me that he and Joanne (another girl I grew up with in the church there) had just gotten married and were having a wedding reception. He told me, "Jaeson I know you are really busy, so I have a number of different dates that you can attend the wedding reception, your choice!" In my heart, when I heard that, I knew that if I chose a later date, I would maybe never end up making it. So I told Alex, "No bro, I want to go right now. Where is it and how do I get there?" He told, "It's my old home in San Jose, I'll give you directions." I knew how to get there, though the directions were faint in my memory, but I was confident I could find my way back."

When I woke up, I knew this dream had to do with God wooing me to return to my first love. This girl Joanne was actually the first girl I ever had a crush on when I was younger (I was like 7 years old). In real life, Alex and Joanne had just gotten married. I know that in reality, I can keep telling God I'm going to start seeking Him at a later date, but that later date may never come. If I don't choose to walk through the window of opportunity right now, there may never be a tomorrow. I know the ancient path, the good way, though it was a long time ago, I am confident in His grace that I can still find my way back into the heart of God. I have to get my heart back.

This is where life starts, in the heart of God. If I can't get this part right, I won't be able to get the next part which is just as important…

Acts of Random Kindness

The second day I was at Singing Waters, God spoke to me through a movie, "Evan Almighty." God continued to speak to me along the theme of what it means to be a man of significance through this film.

In the movie, Evan Baxter the local news anchor in Buffalo NYC decides to run for US Congress. His motto is "We Can Change the World." In his mind, he thought in order to change the world he had to change it through power and politics. He became so completely consumed with his political purpose, his responsibilities and his vision to change the world, that he neglected his wife and children because of it. Often times, he would break his promise to spend time with his children, because something at work had come up. But to Evan, it didn't matter, what was more important was the political vision, because he was out to make a big difference. One night, his wife encourages Evan to pray to God for help with his political campaign. She knew changing the world was an insurmountable task, and even a little prayer could help, so Evan Baxter got on his knees and prayed to God to help him change the world. God helped him, but not in the way he expected. If you've seen the movie, God shows up to Evan and calls him to build a life size Noah's Ark in the middle of a suburb in Washington D.C. God tells Evan, everything I'm calling you to do is because I love you. Evan doesn't understand. Why would God call him to build a stupid ark, in the middle of Washington D.C. so that he could be completely humiliated and laughed at? After a season of denial, Evan accepts the call from God and when he asks God, "So how do you change the world? God answers, "Through little acts of random kindness."

In the movie, Evan ends up losing all his power, prestige and position because all of Washington D.C. thought he had gone mad building the ark. Evan lost everything, but in the process he gained back everything. He gained back what he lost the most, his family. As he obeys God's call, his wife and children end up supporting dad in the daily building of the ark. He becomes their hero, not because he was a powerful politician, rather the opposite, because he had chosen to become their dad again. Evan was not only fulfilling God's purpose, but he was spending quality time with his wife and children while walking out his God given destiny. To spend time with those we care about, would seem like a waste of time in the eyes of the world. There are many bigger and more important things to be accomplished. But in God's eyes, spending time in relationship with Him and those we love is the most important thing we could ever do. In the end, Evan saves Washington D.C. from a river flood and he is recognized for his courage in the face of opposition.

The last scene of the movie, Evan is with his family on a grassy hillside. There he meets with God under a tree. There God congratulates him. "You did it Evan, you changed the world." It was then God wrote with a stick in the dirt, "A.R.K" (Acts of Random Kindness). Evan looks down and realizes that the whole purpose of building the ark, was not really about saving Washington D.C. from a flood, more importantly, it was so that Evan could find his way back to having a closer relationship with God and his family.

God calls us to do great things, not so we can do great things for Him and in turn feel great about ourselves. No, He calls us to do great things, to change the world, because He wants to show us how great He is. When God gives us a destiny, it is for the purpose of knowing Him more, and learning what it means to love Him and others along the journey to greatness.

My heart was touched when I watched this film. For so many years, I thought I had to achieve something great for God in order to be significant. In the past, I was task driven, not relationship driven. For me, relationships were just a means to an end to accomplish the vision. I was so driven by my own vision and ambitions, that I lost track of why I was even doing what I was doing for Christ. In the process, I hurt many people that I cared for, because I was so performance driven. Looking back now, little did I know, that all the dreams, visions, prophecies that God gave to me were for one purpose, and so I would learn one thing: to know Him more and cherish the ones He had given to me in this life. Life is about relationships. Without relationships our lives our empty, with them, our lives are abundantly full. We don't change the world by doing great things, we change the world through acts of random kindness that we do for those around us, every day, in every way, until it makes a bigger impact than we could have ever imagined.

Little Things Make A Big Difference

The following day at Singing Waters, God continued to speak to me along a similar theme that "little things make a big difference." I used to always think, in order to change the world I need to do something great, something big, something the world could see and hear about. How wrong I was.

The second night I was led to watch a movie called "Pay it Forward" I've had this DVD in my backpack for over 1 year, but I still hadn't gotten around to watching it. During the afternoon that day, someone mentioned to me to "pay it forward" and it reminded me of the movie. What I saw in the movie that night confirmed to me again, that God works in ways unbeknownst to the human eye unless we pay attention.

In the movie, there is a little boy who is challenged by his junior high teacher on the first day of school to, "Think of an idea to change our world and put it into action." It seems like a daunting and impossible task to most of the students, but one kid decides to take the task seriously. He dreams up an idea he calls "Pay it Forward" where he thinks just what if, one person helped three people in a big way? It would have to be big, where the person helped three others in a way where they could not help themselves. In return for the act of random kindness, the three could not help the person who helped them back, but they were to help three other people the next day in a big way by paying it forward. Throughout the film, this kid puts his idea into action and helps three people, who needed a lot of help in their present life. He thinks he fails, because the people he tried to help didn't turn out the way he would have thought was helpful to them at all. But in the end, it turns out that he did help them and not only them, but thousands of others who decided to pay the blessing forward to three others who in turn did the same. By him helping three others in a big way, it sparked a movement across the nation inspiring others to help those in immediate need with a big act of random kindness. The kid changed the world.

Near the end of the movie, the kid ends up tragically dying for trying to help his friend who was being bullied by some gangsters. By this time, the public press had tracked the "Pay it Forward" movement and the kid was famous. In the last scene, as his mother mourned over her son's death at her home in Las Vegas, she hears noise outside her front door. When she opens the door, she sees hundreds of people who were helped by this kid's idea standing on the front lawn, with candles in their hands and thankful hearts, cars full of people who were helped by "Paying it Forward" were driving in for miles across the nation to show their love and appreciation for his life.

I broke down and wept when I watched this final scene. I was overcome with emotion and conviction, because I realized, how selfless this young boy was. He didn't think about himself, but he thought about others. He didn't try to change the world, so he could be recognized for it, but he did it because the world sucks and he made a decision to do something about it, even if it seemed impossible to do. Being a person of significance means you live for a purpose that is bigger than yourself, but not bigger than the next person in front of you. He didn't think about how he would change the world tomorrow, but he thought about how he could change the world today, by helping others everyday who needed it most, through little acts of random kindness. He didn't live for the future possibility he lived for the present reality. This kid made a big difference by being faithful in the small things. Because of his kindness, the world was changed, one person at a time, and that is significance. To love big, everyday, to every person you meet, in every possible way. To be just like Jesus, to love at all times.

It seems impossible, but if we don't think about doing it all, but focus on simply loving one person at a time, loving the person in front of us, instead of rushing on to do the next big thing, I believe our lives can make a difference.

Recently, a friend of mine told me, "Jaeson, I feel like God wants me to tell you, that you might not be the one who changes the world, but maybe you'll be that spark that inspires others to go out and make that change." I hope so. To me, this would be significance.

(ps. I think I'm going to start a new blog with one question on it, "Did you help somebody today in a big way?" If so, do share your story and pass it on to inspire others to do the same.)

Heroes Never Give Up in Doing What is Right

You may think it weird, but God continued to speak to me the entire week through movies, TV and kids. I ended up spending the last five days in Canada at my spiritual mentor's home. He has the most beautiful kids in the world and I had the privilege of being the uncle for the weekend. We wanted to do something fun on Saturday so I decided I would treat the kids to a good movie. Veggie Tales "Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything" had come out in the local theater so we went down together to watch it, ordered popcorn, drinks, and a whole lot of candy. I wasn't expecting God to speak to me again, through another movie, especially "Veggie Tales" but He did.

The movie was about "3 losers" who served as waiters in a theater that put on a show about a Pirate ship. They thought in order to be significant in the eyes of others they needed to be like the stars in the show, applauded and recognized by the crowds for their heroic deeds. The 3 losers tried out for the play and got rejected. But, they ended up becoming heroes in the end, by making the right choices in life, when it counted the most.

To summarize, the moral of the movie was that true heroes are not ones who look like heroes, have a position or title, or recognition from the world. Rather, true heroes are ones who never give up in doing what they know are right in their hearts. They stand by their convictions and principles no matter the cost.

As I was watching the end of the movie, I thought to myself, "I know God is speaking to me again. Being a person of significance is not about doing great things, or being successful according to the world's standards. Being a person of significance is about being faithful to doing what is right. It's about living by principle and walking out your convictions on the day to day." Then in the last scene of the Veggie Tale movie, the 3 losers end up saving the day and the owner of the theater offers them roles in the "big show" but one of them responds by saying, "You know what, it's okay, we don't need to be a part of the big show anymore, life has enough adventure of its own already!

This last line was very significant to me. For me and for many people, somewhere along the line in life, we believed the lie that we are "losers." Somewhere, sometime, someone told us we were good for nothing, we wouldn't be able to do it, we would never measure up to anything in this life and we might as well accept the fact that we are losers. So if you want to be something, you need to join "the show" and perform for others. I grew up thinking all my life that I'm going to be a failure. That no matter how hard I try, I'll never be good enough for my parents, or for this person, that person or society. I grew up believing the lie that at the end of the day "I'm no good for nothing." And that is probably the biggest lie that the Devil could ever have anyone believe, to believe you are not good enough.

The truth of the matter is "we are not losers." I used to think I had to "do something" great in order to be successful. So I strove with all my heart to prove to the world that I was significant because of the things I could accomplish. Or maybe, I could be recognized and valued if I was a part of "the show." That is, if I could just be special in the eyes of the world, I would lose my "loserness." I thought if I got into the right school, if I became famous one day, if I preached to thousands, if I looked better, if prayed more, if I was more compassionate, if I achieved great things, if I was more responsible, more educated, more of this and less of that, surely they would love me. How wrong I was.

God doesn't see us as losers, He sees us as His beloved children. We don't have to do anything to prove our value to Him. Our value comes from the sacrifice His Son paid on the cross for our sins. Jesus paid a high price for each us, and we must believe that we have value in His eyes. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. I can face myself in the mirror in the morning and say, "You are God's favorite! You are not a loser. You are God's beloved and He is well pleased with you!" Not because of anything I can do, but because of how good He is. The Cross is proof that He loves me.

We think in this world that if you don't do anything, than you are nothing. We think, you do therefore you are. In God's eyes, it's the exact opposite value system. We are, therefore we do. We are already loved, and because of this free love we have received we can now give it away to others. We are living from acceptance, not for acceptance.

I don't have to be a part of "the show" anymore. Life has enough adventure everyday. Like the "Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything" I can live my life every day in a significant way, by simply loving God and loving those He places in my life with the grace He has given me to give to them. I don't have to feel trapped anymore, feeling like I have to live up to people's expectations of what they think I should be. Christianity is not a performance, it is a grace. There is nothing we can do to earn it or deserve it. It is a free gift of love.

I used to feel so much pressure in being who people expected me to be "Jaeson Ma the great revivalist, who preaches with passion, heals the sick and casts out demons with one word, the perfect Christian leader who prays for hours, is always holy and has a mighty calling to change the world for Jesus etc." For years, I felt like I had to put on a show and live up to the expectations and be someone whom God never asked me to be.

Many times, if you were like me, you accepted the identity and labels that people placed on you, rather than the identity that God had given you. You end up living for the approval of men, rather than the approval of God. This is dangerous. When we live for the approval of others, we will never be enough, and we will constantly do more than what God asks us to do, which leads to burn out and dissatisfaction with ourselves, when we don't meet our own expectations.

This is religion, to conform and perform for the approval of others. I'm done with religion. I'm done with the Christian show. I don't need to prove anything to anyone, except God Himself. I'm learning that being a hero has a lot less to do with what I accomplish, but it has a lot more to do with how I live my life. It has to do with being a person of honor, integrity and having the courage to make the right choices even when it seems un-popular, crazy or ridiculous to others. In fact, being a hero has nothing to do with what you do, rather, you can do absolutely nothing in the world's estimation, but you can be absolutely everything in God's estimation. Why? Because you were faithful in being obedient to His will and His will alone. You were faithful in the little, and because of it, became faithful over much.

Don't Need the Show - Is Having it All Worth Losing it All?

While I was at Singing Waters the Holy Spirit spoke to me to study the great Biblical teacher Watchman Nee. For a few days I read through many of his life teachings and came away with one conclusion; that God is out to kill me. I once heard a preacher say, "You can't win. When you are living for yourself the Devil wants to kill you. When you turn to the Lord, God wants to kill you too. So you might as well surrender and die to self now." The more I experience trials, troubles and disciplines I realize the Lord sends these to me for my highest good. They are blessings, not curses so that I may learn to rid myself of self-love. Watchman Nee wrote…

"Whether our works are fruitful or not depends upon whether our outward man has been broken by the Lord so that the inward man can pass through that brokenness and come forth. This is the basic problem. The Lord wants to break our outward man in order that the inward man may have a way out. When the inward man is released, both unbelievers and Christians will be blessed…To understand the Lord's purpose, is to see very clearly that He is aiming at a single objective: the breaking of the outward man." (Release of the Spirit, pg 11-12)

For years, I've been doing ministry partially in the Lord's strength, but mostly by my own strength. I am convinced that I am far from being the vessel of honor the Lord has created me to be. There is far too much flesh, far too much of my own soul (outward man) that is still in control of my service to God. But, I believe the Lord is speaking to me that He is bringing me into a season where He will rid me of all soulish tendencies. This is so that my outward man maybe broken, so that my spirit may be released to do His pure and perfect will.

I'm tired of performing. I don't want to do ministry anymore in my own strength, but only in the strength of the Lord's Spirit. The last 10 years were good, but they were not the best. My desire is to be a pure vessel of the Lord, to be used for His glorious honor.

"We can preach by using our mind, we can stir others by using our emotions: yet if we do not know how to use our spirit, the Spirit of God cannot touch people through us...Preaching the Gospel: There is a common misconception that people believe the gospel because they have been either mentally convinced of the doctrinal correctness or emotionally stirred by its appeal. In actual fact, those who respond to the gospel for either of those two reasons do not last long. Intellect and emotion need to be reached, but these alone are insufficient. Mind may reach mind and emotion may reach emotion, but salvation probes much deeper. Spirit must touch spirit. Only when the spirit of the preacher blossoms forth and shines do sinners fall down and capitulate to God. This is the proper spirit necessary in preaching the Gospel." (Release of the Spirit, pg 53)

Nee goes on to share how he studied the autobiography of a coal miner, who had no preaching skills, but a pure heart for the Lord. He was a broken man, who constantly prayed and while listening to a preacher once, he was so burdened for souls he asked the preacher if he could have permission to speak to the congregation. He shared for only a few minutes, but when he did, a flood of tears gushed forth in torrents and he was only able to mutter a few incoherent sentences, but the move of the Spirit was great. The power of God's Spirit filled the meeting place; people were convicted of their sins and their low estate. Here was a young man who was broken – he had a few words, but when the spirit came forth people were mightily moved to complete repentance and sound conversions. This young coal miner was an instrument for saving souls in his lifetime, because he was willing to be broken and purified. How I long to have that same kind of impact in my preaching. Not by words, but by the demonstration of His Spirit and power!

"To preach the gospel is purely a matter of having the outward man broken so that the inward man can flow forth and touch others. When your spirit touches another's spirit, God's Spirit quickens that spirit which is in darkness so that one may be wonderfully saved.However, if your spirit is bound by the outward man, God has no outlet in you and the gospel is blocked. This is why we focus so much attention on the dealing with the outward man. If we lack that dealing, we are powerless to win souls, though we may have all the doctrines memorized. Salvation comes when our spirit touches another's spirit. Then that soul cannot but prostrate himself at God's feet. Oh Beloved, when our spirit is truly released, souls will surely be saved. (pg. 55)

That Saturday evening, after reading Release of the Spirit, by Watchman Nee God gave me a prophetic dream. In this dream I was doing a campus church training. I knew I only had one hour for the training so I was in a hurry. A prophet introduced me, and began to prophesy in the spirit dramatically. After she was done prophesying, I came up to teach. As I taught this room full of college students I said, "Let's turn to the passage in Matthew 9 that speaks of new wine being poured into new wineskins. But, when I turned to the passage it was not there, but there was a non-biblical message that read "If you give a hungry man a fish, he will learn to eat and still be hungry, but if you teach a hungry man how to fish, he will not only learn to provide for himself, but also others!" The last part of the passage the students knew, and repeated together out loud. As I continued to preach, I decided to crack a joke, to get the crowds attention, but then this young leader walks up to me and says, "You are not preaching like I have heard you preach before. I can tell there is a part of your-self in this. Even the prophet who introduced you may have been dramatic, but at least was speaking by the spirit, to the point. Please preach by the spirit because this meeting is really for two leaders." I then told him thank you for his counsel, and by this time the audience was distracted and talking to one another. I knew I had one last shot to preach the will of the Lord.

The room then changed to a large theater auditorium where all the student leaders were sitting together in the audience. I was then behind the main stage getting ready to preach, but I had lost my notes. My Sr. Pastor then asked me if it was okay that he and some of the young church members perform a skit before I got up to preach. I told them it would not be a problem. But, they took too long and my pastor told me to go first. He brought me to the podium, prayed a prayer for me, and as I was about to preach I realized I was without any notes. Dream ends.

The next morning when I woke up the Lord confirmed the meaning of this dream at a local church. I went with my spiritual mentor in the morning to their local home church. It was a large conservative evangelical congregation in the community. As we sat down for the first service, I was shocked to see the front cover of the bulletin hand out. It was a picture of a "theater stage" and the title of the sermon series was "ACT ONE" returning to the dynamic Church of the book of Acts. The picture of the theater stage in the bulletin looked exactly like the theater stage in my dream. Not by coincidence, the pastor preached on Acts 2 and explained how the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost. The entire message was about true repentance, living by the power of the Spirit and Lordship in Christ. At the end of the service, the pastor gave an altar call but no one came forward. I knew he was frustrated with the spiritual state of the congregation, so I went to the front and gave him a prophetic word of encouragement. I told him that a "new outpouring of the Spirit was coming upon his life, to not give up in his frustration, but to continue seeking the power of God's presence." He told me that it was confirmation of what the Lord was speaking to him and he gave me a hug. After, I knew what God was saying and confirming to me through this entire experience…

"Jaeson your first 10 years was Act One, you performed on the stage, you did the show, but what you did the first 10 years of ministry was in your own power, mind, emotion and strength, but now I am giving you a second chance, an opportunity to enter into Acts Two, where it is no longer by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit. Are you willing to lose the show and walk by my Spirit?"

After church, I went back with the kids to the house. All weekend long they were trying to get me to watch "High School Musical 2" so I finally gave in. I was dead tired, but as I watched this teenage sing-a-long flick God began to speak, again through a movie.

In the movie, there was a good kid named "Troy" who had a sweet girlfriend and a close group of high school friends that really loved each other. But, there was this rich, materialistic, blonde girl who was obsessed with Troy and wanted to steal him away from his friends so she could have him for her own. Throughout the movie she seduced and bribed Troy with money, a college basketball scholarship and tricked him into performing with him at this big "summer talent show" at her parents vacation resort. At first Troy doesn't give in, but as the money, the attention, the opportunities keep coming his way, he slowly drifts away from the friends he loved most, in order to achieve his dreams to be on a national college basketball team. His girlfriend and high school friends can no longer recognize Troy and they feel betrayed by his new ambitions. He gave up his friends for a career and a stage show. Is this what he really wanted?

Troy was now faced with a decision to either pursue his dreams to be a professional basketball player, or to give it all up and turn down the big opportunity to get back what really mattered to him; his friends.

In the end, he made the right decision. Troy turned down the opportunity for fame, fortune and stardom, because it wasn't worth it to gain it all, but lose his friends. He gave up the stage, the show, and decided to choose life instead. As corny as it may sound, God really spoke to me through this film.

For most of my life in Christian ministry, the traveling, speaking, and public attention had become a "show" of sorts. It started pure, but as I continued to preach and gain more popularity, my life became a performance. People were expecting me to do this or do that and I felt the never ending pressure of having to measure up to people's expectations. Also, the call of God's destiny on my life became a burden. It seemed like "I had to" fulfill this calling, if not, I would be deemed irresponsible. Of course, this was unacceptable. So I continued to press on, ministering to thousands around the world. It was exciting at times, and there were so many opportunities that daily came my way. Yet, I became so obsessed and driven by the calling and destiny placed on my life, that I pursued this destiny at all costs and sacrificed the most important relationships in my life. I became busier and busier, because I was driven by the task to accomplish, not relationships. I was driven by "my dreams" and "my destiny" and I forgot the important things in life; family and friends. The busier you get, the less time you have to develop quality friendships, with God and with others. But, I was so consumed with getting things done I didn't recognize all that I was losing.

I was no longer serving God for His glory, but rather, much of my serving was for my self. It was done in my own strength, and it was no longer being led by the Holy Spirit. It became difficult for me to say "no" to the open doors in ministry. I thought God wanted me to keep preaching no matter how tired I was, because doors were opening for the Gospel to be preached. I was wrong. In all honesty, it was hard for me to say no to ministry invitations, because I didn't want to let people down. People would tell me, "Praise God He's giving you all these open doors!" Yet, it was just feeding my ego to feel needed, wanted and special. Ministry began to feel like a duty, rather than a joy, I had lost my passion. Busyness kills passion. Without knowing it, the ministry had become my identity and it was killing me.

You burn out in ministry when you do more than what God has asked you to do. That's exactly what happened to me. Ministry for God became ministry for self. Preaching became a performance, a show, to entertain and meet the expectations of the demanding crowds. The ministry became an act, a machine that I had created that kept running and couldn't stop, unless I did something about it. After watching High School Musical 2, I knew God was re-confirming to me, "Jaeson get off the stage, quit the performance and get back your life. You don't need the show anymore!"

No longer do I want do ministry in my own strength, and live for my own self. I don't want to win the whole world, but forfeit my own soul. It's not worth it to gain it all and end up losing it all. That is, losing everything that is important to you. What are important are the relationships God has given to you. It is those relationships you have with your family, your friends and most of all your relationship with God that makes life count. Success is not who does the most, who performs the best, or who has the most, success is about doing what is right, being obedient to God, and learning to love.

I used to think I could never say "no" to platform ministry. But, I think I'm learning to be okay without it. There is enough adventure in everyday life outside of the lime light. In fact, this is where the real ministry happens. It happens with real people, everyday, wherever you are, you can always learn to love. I'm done with the show. I don't need it anymore. Christianity should never be about uplifting any one man or one woman. It needs to be about uplifting Christ and bringing hearts closer to Him, not us. It is time for the stage act to end, and the book of Acts to begin!

It's Not About Winning, It's About Relationship

That same Sunday we were watching TV in the evening and I got to see for the first time "Amazing Race." I was so touched by this show, in particular a specific team made up of a Chinese father and daughter. My spiritual mentor and his wife told me they really loved watching this specific team because of their relationship transformation. In the beginning of the race the Chinese dad was really critical of his daughter for not doing things right. He kept criticizing her talking down to her and making her feel worthless. Finally, at one point in the race, she told her dad, "I can't do this. I can't keep on if you keep putting me down!" Her dad finally woke up and realized that his criticism was not making his daughter anymore of a winner rather it was destroying her self confidence and self worth. From that point on, the father changed his attitude, his language and I believe God began to change his heart. He asked his daughter for forgiveness and he began to love her unconditionally throughout the race. Even when she messed up, or didn't perform well, he told her "great job, you did awesome, I'm proud of you!" and he gave her other words of encouragement and affirmation.

The daughter couldn't believe the change in her dad, it was like she had never met this father before. As the race continued week after week, their broken relationship began to be restored. The father and daughter grew closer than ever before and it was beautiful just watching them interact with one another, supporting and encouraging each other on the amazing race.

By the last episode, at the last leg of the race their team was in first place with one last obstacle to overcome. They had been in first place for most of the entire race. But, at this last obstacle the Chinese daughter couldn't figure out the answer to the puzzle. On the show you see her literally praying to God asking for help. The whole time though, as she was trying so hard and feeling like a failure, knowing that the other team had figured out the obstacle and taken the first place position, you see her Chinese Dad on the sideline cheering her on and telling her not to worry, that she did her best and that he was proud of her. In the end, they ended up coming in second place just by a few minutes. They lost the $1 million dollar grand prize. You would think they must have been very disappointed. To be in first place for most of the race and then to barley lose at the very end must have been devastating (especially for Asians who are so performance driven and always wanting to be the best at everything)

Well, the opposite happened. When they interviewed the two at the end of the show asking them how they felt about coming in second place the father said, "You know what? It's okay that we didn't win. I'd never trade this experience for anything. No money can by what I gained with my daughter. Not even a million dollars. I got my relationship back with my daughter through this race. I am so proud of her for doing her best. In my heart she is a champion and #1 in my eyes, I love her so much and I feel like I'm a different person now, I've learned what true success is and that's learning to love my daughter and gaining back our relationship with one another." (paraphrased)

When the Chinese dad said those words, I couldn't help but cry. Right then, I felt the Father heart of God fall from heaven down upon my heart. Is this not the love of our heavenly Father? A dad who loves us not because of what we can accomplish for Him, but He loves us just because we are His. In His heart, we are champions, we are winners, we are not losers - we are the best the world has to offer, because we are His very own!

Like the Chinese daughter, we can get so down on ourselves, feel like we totally blew it, that we messed it all up and we didn't finish the race well, in fact, we settled for second best. But that is totally not the Father's heart. He loves us when we mess up, when we fail, when we don't get it all right, when come up short, when we fall down and totally blow it. The Father loves us not because we win races, nor because we do things exactly perfect, He loves us because in the process of life, He gets to know us better. He gets to cheer us on! He gets to enjoy being with us on this race called life.

True success is not measured by the world's standards. The world says, unless you come out on top, come in first, unless you look better and do it all right you are not successful. You can't win, unless you are the best. The Father's heart is so different, whether or not you come out on top, whether you win, lose or fail you are fantastic in His eyes. You are His beloved child and nothing will ever change that. True success, is when you know that Your Father loves you, as is, just the way you are, flaws and all.

I love the Father, the Father loves me, therefore I am successful. It's about loving others unconditionally. Nothing more, nothing less, success is learning to love.

Empowering Others to Go Farther than You

Another aspect of being a man of significance is learning to pass on significance to others. God has been speaking to me much about empowering the next generation of leaders. One dictionary definition for "father" is, "The father is the one who gives significance to his children." This is what it means to be a person of significance. That as a loving father, you give significance to your spiritual seed. You pass on the blessing you have been given by God from generation to generation.

That same night we watched the final episode of "Amazing Race" we were watching the AFC Championship between the Green Bay Packers and NY Giants. It was a great game that went into overtime. Brett Favre the famous Packer quarter back was playing most likely his last game if they did not win. Eli Manning, was the young quarter back for the NY Giants playing probably the biggest game of his life thus far. In the end, Brett Favre in overtime threw an interception and the NY Giants ran the ball down the field and pulled off a victory through a 49 yard field goal. For many Green Bay Packer and "Brett Favre" fans the loss was devastating. You would have thought Brett Favre would have been really disappointed, having thrown his last pass as an interception and missing the chance of winning another Super Bowl. Instead, Brett Favre had a different and inspiring response.

At the end of the game, I watched the two teams walk across the field to meet one another with encouragement. In particular, I waited to see what Brett Favre's reaction would be to losing his final game to a young up and coming quarter back. When Brett Favre walked up to Eli Manning he took his hand, shook it firmly, congratulated him and with a big smile he said, "Great game Eli, I'm proud of you son, you did a great job!" There was such a peace in the way he said it. You knew he was not only genuine, but you could feel through his tone of voice, his body language and facial expression that he was genuinely proud and encouraging Eli on to believe he could win the Super Bowl and do even more than he could ever do. It was a powerful picture of Biblical empowerment.

This last Christmas, for some God or odd reason, I received 10 jackets as Christmas gifts from totally different people. Either I randomly got 10 jackets coincidentally or maybe God was trying to tell me something. When I shared about my 10 jackets with my prayer team, my old youth pastor (Victor Quon), the man who mentored me when I first became a believer emailed me back saying,


I don't know if this means anything to you, but the thought just came to me. It's 3:20 PM here on Tuesday. I first read this e-mail yesterday morning. I'm writing a message for a retreat coming up this weekend, and BAM! I suddenly get this thought about your 10 jackets. Do you still have them or did you do the Christmas gift exchange? If you still have them, I'm thinking that this is what God wants you to do with them.

I feel like I'm Jethro and you're Moses, like in Exodus 18. You're talking about your body needing a break and taking a sabbatical. And how old are you now? I seem to remember you taking a vow not to date until you're 28 and then God would give you a wife after that. Is the time coming? The work you are doing is too much for you (Exodus 18:17-18). You need to find people that you can empower. Maybe they won't do exactly what you do, but they will take up some of the slack. I know you have Benson and Sam. They might be your first two. But you need others. Like someone to help you raise the financial support to fund the ministry. In fact, I think you need to find six other people. Those jackets? They're like the mantles that the prophets used to have. When Elijah's time was up, he passed the mantle to Elisha. You can give one jacket each to Benson and Sam. Keep one for yourself and one for your future …Main Squeeze, you know, Mrs. Ma (That sounds strange!). That leaves six. I believe that God will lead you to six other people to whom you are to give away ministry. Give each of them a jacket symbolizing the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit being passed on to them.

I took his email as a confirmation that I was to look for a few good men (not a wife yet) whom I could empower to go farther than I could ever go, to do more than I could ever do, and be all that they could possibly be for the Lord. Like Brett Favre I would need to find the young up and coming quarter back, the emerging "Eli" look him in the eye and say, "I'm proud of you son, you played a great game and you'll do even greater things than me!" Moses empowered Joshua, Elijah empowered Eli-sha, Jesus empowered the 12, Paul empowered Timothy, and I must do the same.

I'm really praying about who I am to empower in this next season. There are so many incredible emerging leaders I have had the privilege of mentoring and co-working with in the last 10 years of ministry. Now, after 10 years, I need to give one jacket away for each year, symbolically, to release a double portion blessing for those God will give me who will do more than I could ever do alone.

I told a young leader I'm mentoring named Jesse in Canada the other night, "My goal during the next year is to pass off every speaking engagement invitation I have to someone like you or other young leaders so that they can preach! This is so the movement will no longer be dependent on me to bring the fire, but young leaders like you who can multiply the anointing to the next generation!" I'm excited! When this happens it will bring great joy to my heart. It's already happening and I can see the new Eli's of this generation already rising up and taking the lead to bring the Gospel to all nations!

Significance is when you don't live for self, but you live for others, empowering them on to do more than you could ever do yourself. I may not be the one who changes the world, but I pray that I'll be that spark that inspires others to make that change.

Becoming a Man of Significance (Pt. III)

Learning to Rest in God

Before I left Singing Waters, Canada my spiritual mentor's wife gave me a powerful quote from Beth Moore.

"Remember this important fact about God. He never asks anything of us to make Himself look better. The demands He makes on our lives are NEVER for his personal gain. We cannot make Him anymore God than He already is. He would be no less Lord of Lords if no one believed. Every urging and exhortation of God to us is for one major reason. He desires that we have the pleasure of knowing, serving, and sharing Him."

How true this quote is. God is no less God if we disobey or obey Him. He doesn't need our works. He doesn't need us to do anything for Him. He is the great I AM, period. For so long, I thought I had to win the world for Jesus, that it was my responsibility and task to finish the Great Commission, that without me doing God a favor, God would not get anything done on this earth. How proud and foolish I was to think this. God will accomplish what He has set out to do, with or without me. My response to His Great Commission is simply a privilege to know, serve and share with Him in His glory and in "His" mission.

When I ponder His greatness, His power and sovereignty, I am able to rest. I am able to rest in the knowledge that God is God, He will do what He says He will do, and I get to have fun holding His hand while He's doing it and come along side of Him for the ride! God is a playful God. He loves to be with His children. He wants to share with us His wonder, His love and His glory. Everything in this earth, the oceans, the skies, the mountains above and valleys below were created as gifts for you and me. He loves us with a compassion that will never end. He wants us to live in His rest and He wants us to live from His rest.

The Father's been telling me, "Jaeson, It's okay to rest! You are not a human doing, you are a human being. Created to be-loved and be my beloved. Even if you never did another thing for Me, it would not change my great love for you. I will carry you from start to finish in my arms of love. Son, I will be there for you when you fall down, I will be right there for you when you get back up. I'll never stop cheering you on, I am confident that what I started in you, I will finish. You are the apple of my eye and the desire of my heart. You are my son, greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved. You will always be great in my eyes, no matter what you do right, or what you do wrong. You are perfect as my love for you is perfect. Rest in the knowledge of my love for you son, I am your heavenly Father and I will never stop loving you."

Good times :)

A Man's True Success

What I've learned in the last ten days in Singing Waters, let alone my ten years as a born again Christ follower is this; that a man's true success is not in what he does, but in who he is. Success is not about what you do, who you know, what you have, or anything else. Success is not a state of doing it is a state of being. Success is about knowing God.

"And this is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

Success is about truly knowing and loving others. "Love them just as I have loved you." Being a Christ follower is simple, it's about one thing: LOVE. No more, no less. Just learn to love and you'll be okay. Really, it sounds cliché, but it's definitively true. Love is the foundation of everything. It is the foundation for why God exists, for why we were created. It is the foundation and purpose of all things. Love will never fade away, it will last forever. Love is why we are here. And we can't learn to love without one another. We need God. We need each other. We were created for relationship. We need to share this love with every human being and this is what makes life a success. When we learn to truly love, we have achieved success. We will be people of significance.

To be a person of significance is to live for a purpose bigger than your-self. It is to be self less and others focused. It is about standing for righteousness and justice. Don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting us to do nothing, I believe that we are to fight for truth, to pray for the ending of abortion, to speak for those who don't have a voice, to stand up for what is right, to take care of the orphans and widows, to preach the Gospel to all nations, to dream big dreams, to have high hopes and to believe that with God anything is possible. But, I just want to make sure that in everything we do for God that our hearts are pure and we remember why we do what we do. We do it because of love, because of relationship, and because it's right.

Becoming a man of significance to me is about faithfulness. It's about being faithful to God, being faithful to my family, my friends and those God has placed in my life to love. I want to be man who is faithful to his future wife, be it the Lord's will, that I will cherish her and nourish her all my days. I desire to be a man who is faithful to my future children, being a dad who was always there for his kin, and never loving ministry more than his own family. I want to be a man who is faithful to his values, faithful to his beliefs, his convictions and doing what is right, even when it is hard to do so. I want to be that man, that when he falls, he keeps getting back up again and again. For a righteous man falls down seven times, but he gets back up. I want to follow my heart, do what is right, and live a full life. I want a life full of meaningful moments, wild adventure and glorious battles that were won for the Lord, not alone though, but with my family, my brothers and my sisters in Christ. All men die, few men truly live.

That's what I want. I want to live again. I want to know my God, know others and make His love known from a pure heart. Oh God, make me a man of significance!

To See God in Everything Makes Life the Greatest Adventure

So the day I get back from Singing Waters, the following happened. I believe God is confirming to me loud and clear, how simple it is to be a person of significance. It's not about the big show or the big ministry. It's about loving God and helping others, each day, as they come your way. Good times!

Email Subject: My UPS Delivery Guy…ACCEPTED CHRIST TONIGHT!

Please pray!

So...I just got back from Singing Waters Canada (prepare for a interesting journal entry later) but that's not why I'm writing...

I'm writing because my UPS delivery guy (Fernando) GAVE HIS LIFE TO CHRIST 5 MINUTES AGO ON THE PHONE!!!!! PRAISE GOD!!!

So, about two months ago this UPS truck pulls up to my house and delivers a few boxes of my book to me. I get to talking with the delivery guy and decide to give him a copy of my book and pray for him. He was totally open, I shared my testimony and prophesied over him and he was really touched. I told him to call me if he ever needed anything.

Well, tonight around 9:30pm I get a random call. It's the same guy from UPS! He calls me up desperate because his family is falling apart and his girlfriend who is also the mother of his three children are on the verge of separation after 20 years of relationship. It was totally God, I counseled him for a good bit, then I told him what he needed to do, to forgive her and talk it out, but most of all to pray :)

He then says, "So how do I pray?" Right then, I told him he needed to know Jesus. But then his phone died out! Then I get a call from Sophie and we talk a good bit....after a half hour later or more, I was thinking, "No, I have to call him again and not let the enemy take away his salvation!"

I call him again, he picks up and I say, "So you still want to learn how to pray?" He says, "Absolutely!" I share the Gospel with him and invite him to repent and give his life to Christ. He prayed with me over the phone and at the end I could hear it in his voice, he was a different man. He told me, "I feel good right now, like bro, really I feel good like I'm a different person, God bless you and your family!"

I then share with him on how to read the Bible, talk with God through prayer and walk in the power of the Spirit. I also taught him to immediately share His new found faith with everyone he knew, especially his family. He then asked me if I could come down asap to his home in Riverside to preach the Gospel to his family and friends and said he would make sure everyone he knew in his community would come!

I told him I was heading to Asia on Monday, but I would send Thomas (our campus leader at UC Riverside) hahhaha....I haven't even told Thomas yet! But Thomas you are going to go preach the Gospel to his family and community and start a new church!!!!! WOOHOOOO!!!

OK. So pray for Fernando to grow in the love of Christ!

And pray for his girlfriend "Marie" and his three children to be reconciled also to Christ and to be happy family again :D

And pray that we start a simple church movement in his community in Riverside be it God's will!




(so the next day, Fernando drove up to my house in his UPS truck with a big smile on his face and soda can as a gift to me. He wanted to thank me, but also ask for more prayer and help with his family situation. I gave him five new Bibles on the spot, made sure he was water baptized and prayed for him to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was immediately filled, and we prayed together for God to heal his family. About two hours later he called me and said, "Jaeson, I want to thank you and thank God. When I got home Marie and my children were waiting for me. We talked things out, and God did a miracle. I am going to keep praying everyday. I pray that God makes me a better person.")

He hasn't just made you a better person Fernando, He's made you a better man, He is making you into a man of significance!

"do something everyday that scares you" :D

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Festival of God's Power Conference

If you are in Asia, please get the word out about this strategic gathering in Taipei Taiwan. We are contending for the power of God to break out and a great harvest of souls to be swept into the kingdom in Taiwan this year. This conference will be with Cindy Jacobs, Philip Mantofa and myself. Cindy has not been back to TW in over 10 years, but after sharing with her what God is doing in East Asia at this moment we all knew that it was time for one of God's generals to prophesy Asia's destiny into being in this critical hour for Taiwan's 2008 elections and the Beijing Olympics this year. It's time for Asia's destiny to unfold, it's time for heaven on earth to invade Asia in the fullness of time!


to find out more and click below to share youtube video

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Watchman Nee - Spiritual Discipline

I know, I know I'm not supposed to be on email. Well, give me a hand I'm rarely checking my "blackberry" but I wanted to share with you all something that inspired me as I'm here in Canada for my personal retreat. Very simply, Holy Spirit spoke to me to study the life of "Watchman Nee" while here. Watchman Nee is one of the greatest preachers of the Bible and prolific teachers in the 20th century. His writings have influenced and equipped leaders for many generations. While studying his life, one thing that has impressed upon me is his life of spiritual discipline. It reminded me much of my early days also as a new believer.

Nee came to Christ at the age of 17. He was a rebellious teenager, but very bright and highly intelligent. When he finally surrendered his life to Christ and committed to serve Him as Lord, he did not waste any time. In high school, he tried witnessing to his friends immediately, but with no result of fruit being born. Later, a mentor in his life advised him not to give up, but to pray earnestly daily for all his friends whom he had written their names on a list, 70 of them exactly. Within 4 months, all but one of those on his list were radically converted. But in just a short time, he burnt out in ministry and came down with a severe illness. It was in this moment of isolation he learned to live by the Spirit. He committed himself to understand the foundational teachings of Christ and doctrine. He gave himself to a radical daily lifestyle of solitude, silence and prayer. In effect, because he was faithful with the little, God entrusted to Him more.

He ended up spending all his time and money on 3 things.

1) Personal Needs
2) Helping Others
3) Spiritual Books

Through this discipline and practice God increased the anointing upon his life to affect change in others. In a similar way, I also came to Christ at the age of 17 years old in high school. The moment I was converted I zealously preached Christ to all of my friends, but like Nee, I had very little fruit to show. It was later through listening to a set of teaching tapes that my mother gave to me to listen to, that these tapes taught me the necessity of prayer and waiting on God. It was after listening to these teachings that I began to pray for my lost friends. In fact, similar to Nee I made a list of about 100 friends that I prayed for daily to be converted to Christ. After only 6 months, nearly all of those 100 friends had made Jesus their Savior and Lord! Like Nee, I learned that one can not live a fruitful life apart from abiding in the Vine through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer.

Watchman Nee also lived a disciplined spiritual life in his personal needs, giving of himself to others and self-study. For the past 10 years of my Christian walk, I've done my best to be faithful in having enough, no more or no less so that I will not be overtaken by greed, nor overtaken by poverty. At the same time, I've always made it a principle to not only be faithful with my tithes and offerings, but always look for opportunities to give to others. For one can never out give God. The more you give, the more you receive. Whether in finances, time or energy it is by "helping others" and doing good to others that glorifies our Father in heaven. Lastly, Spiritual Books have been a key to my spiritual growth in Christ. As a early believer, I had no mentors but the Holy Spirit Himself. In my current class, "Mentoring" at Fuller Seminary it was interesting to study that they believe even if you can't find a "spiritual mentor" you can still be mentored. How? By Historical Mentors through the reading and study of auto biographies and the personal works of past spiritual giants and heroes of the faith.

I hear it from many all the time, "I need a spiritual mentor! I wish I had a spiritual father or mother?" Yet, if I look back to my early Christian walk I had no spiritual mentors, but what I did have is the Holy Spirit, the Bible and many many spiritual books. I spent almost all my extra money and savings, not on video games, not on clothes, not on material things, but almost all of it went to buying spiritual books. I would research, read, and look to read more that others recommended or others I knew of through my own personal readings of classic Christian works. By reading these spiritual books, studying the lives of spiritual men and women I learned a great wealth of life principles, Biblical doctrines, and keys to live a life in the Spirit. I ate up close to 10-15 books a month in my college days, it was a spiritual feast and I grew exponentially in my faith.

There is a wealth of spiritual knowledge, heritage and truth available to our generation today, more than any generation before us. It is our responsibility to know the past of what God has done through other leaders in Christian history, so that we may learn and continue on in the same spirit to further advance His kingdom on earth. Many I recognize in this millennial generation are clueless to the great heroes of old, to their life and teachings, but this should not be. Study to show yourself approved. If you will give yourself to studying the anointing and wisdom of the past, both Biblical and historical, there is an anointing that will be entrusted to you to impact a generation for God's purposes. Will you be the one who doesn't wait, but the one who will dive head long into the treasury of God's chest of wisdom?

I write this to encourage and challenge each of you. Don't wait for someone to mentor you. You don't need a teacher. The Holy Spirit is your teacher, is this not what the Bible says? For His anointing is in you and will teach you all things concerning the ways of Christ. So with the resources God has given you to steward 1) Live a Simple Life 2) Always Look to Help Others Daily 3) Acquire and Read Spiritual Books that will help you in maturity and perfection in Christ Jesus. It would be a great goal to read one spiritual book or auto-biography of a Christian hero each month as I have done my best to practice this for the last 10 years.

1 John 2:27
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Read the excerpt on Nee's life below, absolutely INSPIRING!

Under the mercy,


Equipping and Training

Watchman Nee attended no theological schools or Bible institutes. His wealth of knowledge concerning God's purpose, Christ, the things of the Spirit, and the church was acquired through studying the Bible and reading spiritual books. Watchman Nee became intimately familiar with and greatly enlightened by the Word through diligent study using twenty different methods. In addition, in the early days of his ministry he spent one-third of his income on his personal needs, one-third on helping others, and the remaining third on spiritual books. He acquired a collection of more than 3,000 of the best Christian books, including nearly all the classical Christian writers from the first century on. He had a phenomenal ability to select, comprehend, discern, and memorize relevant material, and he could grasp and retain the main points of a book at a glance. Watchman Nee was thus able to glean all the profitable scriptural points and spiritual principles from throughout church history and synthesize them into his vision and practice of the Christian life and of the church life. Watchman Nee received much enlightenment and help from a number of Christian writers, as follows:

Specific Enlightenment Source

1. The assurance of salvation: George Cutting, a Brethren writer

2. Life: John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Madame Guyon's biography, Hudson Taylor's biography, the writings of other mystics

3. Christ: J.G. Bellett, Charles G. Trumbull, A.B. Simpson, T. Austin Sparks, others

4. The Spirit: Andrew Murray's The Spirit of Christ

5. The Three Parts of Man: Jessie Penn-Lewis (body, soul, and spirit), Mary C. McDonough

6. Faith: George Müller's autobiography

7. Abiding in Christ: Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor's biography

8. The subjective aspect of Christ's death
and spiritual warfare: Jessie Penn-Lewis

9. Christ's resurrection and His Body: T. Austin Sparks, others

10. God's plan of redemption: Mary McDonough

11. The church: John Nelson Darby, other Brethren teachers

12. Prophecy: Robert Govett, D.M. Panton, G.H. Pember, other Brethren writers

13. Church history: John Foxe, E.H. Broadbent

14. Bible exposition and many other truths: John Nelson Darby, the Brethren

Watchman Nee became familiar with many of these books through Margaret Barber, a former Anglican missionary. Early in his Christian life he received much spiritual edification and perfection from her. Primarily through his fellowship with Miss Barber, Watchman Nee realized that to be a Christian is altogether a matter of the divine life. Through her shepherding, he learned to pay more attention to life than to work and to live by Christ as his life.

For more of his life work & resources goto:

Watchman Nee Resources: Online Books

Watchman Nee "Life and Works"

(Read this above link to his life work and ministry, it brought me nearly to tears. He is a true apostle, one who suffered and died a martyrs death for the Gospel in China)

Spiritual Man - By Watchman Nee (E Book) This is probably Nee's best work of literature on the Christian life ever. Download this and devour it!