Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hide NOT under filthy rags (Part II)


This is a 2-parts article. Part I turned out to be more or less, a teaching, although articles I put under my blog heading of “Concerning my `little ministry’” should generally be testimonial or journal in nature. It centered around “That we sin, no excuse for NOT working”. This part, below, is both reflective and journaling.

Unusual altar call responses?
When I started on this 2-parts article, I had wanted to journal my “little ministry” happenings. I make it a point to reflect on the “ministry” every few months. There was an initial quietness, after the period covered by the previous article, “Lord, what are you saying in these?”. The excitement came in March 2011 in church weekend services. I wouldn’t really say it were highly unusual responses to “altar calls”, for in my church we saw huge turnouts at the front of the sanctuary (“altar area”) from time to time. But it is unusual in the sense that it has been a long time since we had one, without outside “famous” speaker on the pulpit. I mean it is generally true that a prophet is without honors in his own “town” or congregation (Mark 6:4) but there are temporal exceptions (which I will elaborate later). So, if suddenly, there is an unusually large response to an “altar call”, it sometimes can indicate a fresh move of the Spirit of God. Such happened in 2008, on multiple church services, when words of knowledge and prophecy were given, by seemingly ordinary pastors and church members, including myself; particularly when it was almost by myself, for then, I knew, it had to be the Spirit of God moving in the church sanctuary, for I was a nobody.

Prophet without honors in his own congregation – temporal exception
You want the temporal exception I referred to? Yours truly was the example. Really, I was a nobody in my church until that time (2008). It was a phenomenon few could ignore. I would give words of knowledge on sickness, mostly, and we would see many people come to the altar area for ministry. Actually, I became rather famous, and many wondered, and until very recently I still have people stepping up to me and asked if it was correct that they did NOT notice me serving so prominently in the years previous to the more recent ones (I have been with the church for more than 20 years). I remember back in 2008/2009, I even had an occasion, an older lady member came up to me and asked me if I was a watchman; apparently, she was thinking that as a watchman, I was assigned by God to sit tight and watch, and did so for a long time, and when the time was right for me to act, I would come forth, and even the church leadership would defer to the desired move of the Spirit, and allowed the light to be cast on me. But of course, I am NOT aware of any such watchman commissioning.

Reflection continues, but I boast NOT
The Lord forbids I boast in myself, it indeed had nothing to do with my worthiness, and neither did (and do) I call myself a prophet. It was all the grace of God, who carried me in my affliction, in His most unique manner by projecting me to serve Him. It was an impossible thing, made possible by Him, by His granting of favor through the Senior Pastor of the church. I recognized it as His work yet I must still salute my Senior Pastor (who is retiring this year or next), for His courage to be bold for the Lord, and his humility, and his acceptance of me. Apart from the watchman thought, there were those in church who thought I was about to enter the church as staff or pastor, for they saw the favor and liberty I enjoyed with the church leadership. Some even thought I was related to the Senior Pastor, still others commented I looked like him. I even had an ex-pastor from another church, who could not help, but expressed that he thought I must have been the 2nd man in the church, from what he observed of the proceedings in church services and where I usually sat. Also, I have members kept calling me pastor, although I tried to explain that I was NOT one, and was NOT a staff of the church. But it was all great honors God gave through men which I deserved them NOT; in fact, it was that I was in need of help, and the Lord helped me by having me help, so how could I deserve any of it. But I have tasted His goodness, and want to continue to function for Him.

A good rub-off has been on my children; both my kids have been serving in the church Sunday Schools for several years now. Their father’s fame did spur them on, too, and today both of them lead worship in the church’s 8.30 am Sunday School.

So, really, there was a fresh move by the Lord some 3 years ago, and it was a move in the supernatural even though I knew then, the call was to have more of the believers in our church to serve God in one way or another. It took quite a while for the entire church staff to embrace the supernatural heartily; meanwhile, more had joined the rank of “active servicemen” for the Lord. Over time, I saw my Senior Pastor openly endorsed and encouraged that we are to serve despite our problems and afflictions of life. I saw him encouraging serving the Lord beyond the 4 walls of the church, and it matters NOT if none of those saved or helped, actually culminated into our church, so long as they culminated in the church of God (and that is maturity).

Fresh move?
So, was there or was there NOT a fresh move of the Spirit in my church in March 2011? There was a weekend in that March whereby, in altar calls, many members of congregation responded to the calls and came before the Lord in the altar area (others, at their seats) with observable manifestations of the Spirit, which included speaking in tongues, impromptu singing in tongues, alternating with singing in English, most fluently, I must say (definitely authentic), words of knowledge and prophecy. There appeared to be a drawing near to God. There was manifest presence of God; perhaps, even some influence on demonic spirits, I believe; but there was NO clear observable demonstration of the power and authority of God, in breaking of bondages, of ill-wills, healing of the sick, and deliverance.

A level-change might be coming
I believe it was NOT that there was a separate move of the Spirit, but rather a possible level-change coming. My own experience with the moves of God with an individual is by levels. Perhaps, it is the same with the body corporate. We go from “glory” to “glory”, so to speak. From one level, we move to another level. Perhaps, how fast we break levels depended, among other things, such things as how yielded we are to God, how faithful we are to the things entrusted, and our foundation built. The move, in my humble view, was still part of the same seen 3 years ago; only that perhaps there is a desire of the Lord to bring it one notch up. If one calls such, as a revival, there was really NO clear observable demonstration of the power and authority of God in those areas I mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Was there a stifling of the move of the Spirit? I cannot put a finger on it; but if the next time I come across such, and I am in a position to influence, I will argue for giving of slack, to usher in God’s move of power and authority.

I am NOT saying we let people prophesize anything they like, but we should be bold to call for the sick, the badly sick, the ones in afflictions and bondages, and those who are in need of breakthroughs, to come forward, and we call on the name of God to heal and set people free. I would argue for us to be prepared to be a fool for the Lord. It is NOT a time to “play it safe” and box God. We should NOT decide God is only ministering inner healing but NOT physical healing, repentance but NOT deliverance, cleansing but NOT empowering. My point is that if there is indeed a big move, God would actually want to be touching many people, and different people could be touched in different areas NOT necessarily related to one another. Yes, common themes of holiness, righteousness, forgiveness and repentance, and restitution even, are usually present in revivals, but we should signal liberty and diversity for the Holy Spirit.

I believe it has taken the church 3 years to reach a degree of yielded-ness to God, to be faithful to the things entrusted (such as word of knowledge, gift of healing, etc), and to have our foundation strengthened. Perhaps, the Lord was saying, “let see if they can take it to the next level”. How we responded was crucial, but we can be still responding; the window is NOT necessarily closed. This brings me to the 2 visions I had for that weekend concerning the church.

The parking lot vision
This vision released on the 8.30 am service of Sunday, 27 March 2011 went like this: I saw a parking lot compound, and I saw cars. Being a parking compound there were lots and there were cars. Cars were of different makes. What was interesting was that there was no one around, meaning I could see no men or women, only cars. Yet the close up scene was cars being reversed into parking lots, all by themselves. My interpretation was this, that there were no men or women seen in the compound, was because we, the church members, the believers, were the cars or vehicles, more correctly, the vehicles of the Lord; and it was the Lord who was parking the vehicles, each into the lot that He so decided. The lot space denoted our place, where the Lord wants us to be placed, so that whenever He wants to use one of us, we are at the exact spot, and He can use us. So, the question posed to the congregation was this: “Are we prepared to be at where the Lord wants us to be?” The Lord cannot use us if we are NOT found at where he needs us. It calls for conscious mindset on the part of the members or believers to say to himself or herself that he or she is at a particular place or setting or doing particular ministry in anticipation of the Lord’s move involving him or her. Be willing and be expectant.

Cookies at the end
This vision was given out at the 10:30 am service of the same day: In this vision, what I saw was a way, a concrete way. There was a barrier in front of the way, but when I stared at the barrier more intently, I saw it broke away. What became visible was a long narrow way, and still looked like a concrete way. One could see far ahead, and frankly speaking I was about to say there was nothing there, for I could see it all, just a narrow concrete way, like one was in a big drain. Anyway, I traced along, suddenly, at the end there was a turn, a sharp turn. Right before my eyes, after the turn, was an area with stacks and stacks of cookie jars with all kinds of cookies in them. Then, one of the jar caps got spun open. This was my interpretation: a way might have opened up in the spiritual realm. The barrier giving away perhaps indicated that there would be (or has been) a breakthrough in the spiritual realm. Yet, things do NOT come straight away; the goodies are still some distance away, in fact NOT immediately visible. Perhaps, pressing in and perseverance are needed. We need to stay the course, for a season, and NOT give up, or we will miss the goodies. The cookies represented the anointing, the empowering, the healing, deliverance, salvations and goodness of God.

Has anything happened since that March 2011 weekend?
Soon after that weekend, the church had, for one service, Patricia King, of Extreme Prophetic Ministry, speaking from the pulpit. Although we were told by the church that there was no salvation, my review of the full video of the service showed that Patricia King counted up to 5 salvations (and mentioned about ½ a dozen). In that sense, it was NOT true that there was no salvation, but rather it was that the new believers did NOT came forward to the front, despite call by the Senior Pastor over the pulpit, and the pastoral team had NOT the opportunity to take down details of the persons. If I could recheck the video, I wondered if the church leadership did go through the service recording. To say administratively, the church was unable to secure details of salvation is one thing, it is altogether another, to say there was no salvation.

Salvation cases did not come forward, but many responded
But many people did go out to the altar area though, in fact, it was packed, and it was NOT surprising, for a famous speaker taking the pulpit. Along with a lady, who in recent days, had been used of the Lord in giving words of knowledge, mostly in healing, I was asked by my Senior Pastor before the start of the altar calls, if we had any words of knowledge. I stood up and told him that there were and they were on healing, and he signaled to release them. It took a while before I had had the chance to speak over the mike; and I was at the usual mike for words of knowledge. Meanwhile, some words had been given, and many people had gathered at the front; finally the Senior Pastor signaled that I could release my set of words, I did so, and then it was followed by the lady I mentioned. Because of space constraint, I moved myself to the central aisle instead of staying at the sanctuary front. 2 or 3 persons came to me for ministry for healing. One of them subsequently expressed she felt certain sensation gone down a part of her body when I prayed for her.

The surprising bit
However, to my surprise, the following week I was told, the pastoral team, without the Senior Pastor, when discussing about absence of salvation cases in that service by Patricia King (but it really was NOT that there were no salvation cases, but rather the lack of securing the names and details), had hinted one of the problems was that “unrelated” words of knowledge such as the healing ones got in the way, and suggested instituting new control measure. My checking of the video recording, on top of the my above explanation that I was approached by the Senior Pastor, revealed that everything was done according to procedure and under the supervision and direction of the Senior Pastor that morning. The only one word released, NOT from the usual mike for words of knowledge and prophecy (guarded that morning by the Senior Pastor), was a word released through the mike of the worship pastor, which the worship pastor had permitted it. That was a surprise, and if at all, that exception should be examined (but I am NOT saying any inappropriateness in that, for it was the worship pastor who gave of her mike). I honestly must say, I did NOT feel very good hearing the church leadership speaking out disappointment over that Patricia King service, with hints of error on the part of members of congregation whether in terms of their inappropriateness of release of words of knowledge/prophecy or their contribution to the church’s inability to secure salvation (actually particulars thereof). The point was that Patricia King herself, together with the Senior Pastor gave a number of words (and there was nothing wrong for that occasion) and many responded, as the Holy Spirit convicted, and as such one should NOT fault the people.

I have since spoken to the pastor next in line to take over when the Senior Pastor retires, that there was indeed procedure as far as the release of words of knowledge and prophecy is concerned, and it was NOT broken. As for myself, I do note flow of the Spirit, and submit to authority, and on that occasion, released words, called on by the Senior Pastor. I sounded my caution that we should NOT stifle the Spirit of God, especially if we thought there was going to be a “fresh move” of the Spirit. It took 3 years to get to where we are; a curb, where it is NOT necessary is likely to kill the spontaneity of the release of the words of knowledge and prophecy, and the ministry of ministering to people in church services.

On the plus side, the recent Easter and Resurrection Weekend (in April) brought over 100 salvations from the various cell-group and ministry cell level outreach gatherings. Some of the over 100 salvations also came from the Resurrection Weekend church services (I played no DIRECT part in these, just in case some thought I was boasting; put here for record purpose).

On my personal level side, concerning my helping in the altar ministry, in the church services, releasing words of knowledge and prophecy, and praying for those in needs, after the 2 visions released (given above) and the words given during the weekend Patricia King visited, I believed until the time of writing of this article, I have NOT released further words. There were times I had no words, and there were times I had, but the occasions for release were NOT there. It is of course, my desire, which I believe, does mirror that of the Lord, at least for this season, that, ministry time continues to be provided for, in the church services.

Flesh vs Spirit
Even after some years of moving a little in the supernatural, I still feel IF we do NOT consciously effort to move in the supernatural, we will very quickly settle back into the natural. If the occasions for supernatural are NOT made available, it may make it harder for us to fight the reversion to the natural. Many people in my church, since 2008, have experienced moving in words of knowledge with visions and pictures and all, but many of them did NOT move more than a couple of occasions. Why? In part, I believe it was because they effort NOT to continue; when they had NOT the experience, they eager for them, but when they had experienced it, they paid attention NOT to the demands of the Lord, of the need to be sensitive, paying attention to the Spirit of God, even making the necessary sacrifice, and would rather revert to the natural. The Apostle Paul painted for us (Rom 7:14-24), a tug-of-war resulting from the pulls of the desires of our sinful nature and that of the Spirit. Common sense tells us that in a tug-of-war, if you effort NOT, you lose because you get pulled over! (There is a separate tug-of-war article coming. Watch out for it!).

With or without word of knowledge I still minister
Words of knowledge and prophecy aside, I continued to minister prayers for people in services; and I must say, after a lapse of several months, I have recently back to seeing people getting slain when I prayed for them. It is NOT that people need to be slain to mean that they had been ministered or healed by the Lord, but I generally ministered with no formal feedback, and sometimes do like to know that the anointing of God still “comes through me”; and the Lord does encourage. But of course, I repeatedly remind myself that I do NOT pray to slain but pray that people get healed and get ministered. Frankly speaking, although it was my Senior Pastor who allowed me to minister in services, my position was and is established NOT by men, for I am a member of congregation ministering among pastors, I do NOT and cannot insist I pray for one, if he feels he should be prayed for, by a pastor. In that sense, the Lord has to establish me to serve Him; and may I always remember to walk humbly before Him, and before His anointed servants.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, clean hands, pure heart I have NOT; yes, I still struggle, you know that. Yet, you used me for your glory, and it has been a privilege and honor to have served you by just making myself available for you. May you help me in my struggles, and clean me, a filthy rag, as you use me. Amen.

PS: I understand that a reasonably sized church in leadership transition does have adjustments for many, and can temporally be a little "unsettled". Lord, I forgive all, and you know I do care for the flock of the church because you caused me to care. Forgive me for the things I have omitted to do that you wanted done, and for any overstepping of boundaries on my part.

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