Sunday, January 27, 2008

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.


At 1/28/2008 11:45:00 PM , Blogger Millie said...

amen!! wow, this is long...but thank youuu for sharing all of it :) i jacked 2 of those watchmen nee quotes, they were just wowwww amen. i'm gonna get that book to read now.

please continue to share what you're learning. dunno if you remember us in houston but just wanted to let you know that what God is teaching you and your relationship w/ God is an inspiration to all of us. may God bless you as you seek Him this coming year- and may He continue to reveal the depth of His love for you and may you walk closely w/ Him all the days of your life, amen! thanks again :) God is good......

At 2/12/2008 03:59:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vanness posted this blog on alivenotdead sight. I appreciate him taking a stand. We post so many items that are not appropriate but are afraid post the right ones. I enjoyed reading your journal. God Bless You.

At 2/14/2008 08:53:00 PM , Anonymous Wingyin said...

i am a hongkonger, I read your post and found that it is a blessing for me. ~ to reflect what i am doing, how i live in His gloey and how can i achieve to be His good daughter ?

one more thing, i will post this Taiwan's "Festival of God's Power" on my yahooblog! and i will keep praying for this battle of spirital!

At 9/27/2008 12:17:00 AM , Blogger Ivan said...

haha. do you remember my dream where you threw a shirt at me? hahaha. iono if that's what it means but I think God definitely gave me a huge impartation through you :)



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home