Posts Tagged ‘Oswald Chambers’

Fear

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord”;…  The Highest Good—The Pilgrim’s Song Book, 537 L

Missing Home?

The other day, Wai Jia asked me if I miss home. I replied and asked which home?

She gave me three options:

  1. Hong Kong – where I was born and lived until I was 8
  2. Canada – where I lived for more than 20 years
  3. Singapore – where I was living for 2.5 years prior coming to Uganda

I answered I don’t miss any of these places.

When I was living in Singapore serving with OMF International, there were many moments I longed to be back in Canada. I missed the snow. I missed my friends. I missed having really good Canadian food (ok technically I miss food I enjoyed when I was in Canada such as nachos, chicken wings, and poutine etc….).

Poor Wai Jia, there were many moments she had to endure of my rants during the first year of our marriage.

As missionaries serving overseas, there are moments when you have that desire to be back to norm of where you are from.

This time, in Uganda, it is different.

One of the latest revelations I had is that even if tomorrow Wai Jia and I are back in Canada (or in Singapore), I realized we won’t be content staying there. Sure, there are conveniences we will appreciate like consistent running water and electricity, fast internet or fine dining.  But we realized we won’t be following the Lord’s Will.

In Singapore, I missed my family a lot, especially my aging parents.

Within the short span of three months of being in Uganda, I had the privilege of receiving news of two nieces being born in Canada. I would love to be there in person. But I cannot. We are called to follow Jesus. Holy Spirit has opened doors and brought us to Uganda.

Today’s the Utmost devotion was very timely. It was talking whenever there are conflicting loyalties between Jesus and others, even family matters, always pick Jesus no matter what the cost.

We put our sense of loyalty to our relatives ahead of our loyalty to Jesus Christ, forcing Him to take last place. When your loyalties conflict, always obey Jesus Christ whatever the cost.The Go of Reunication – Utmost.org

Earlier in this month we went to Burundi to teach for two weeks.  Wai Jia noticed I was on fire during one of the classes. I was teaching about the suffering we endure when following Jesus. The students were seasoned pastors and evangelists and many of them had suffer personally from following Jesus. One female student was Muslim and was rejected by her family when she accepted Jesus. As I was sharing, I kept back my tears as I was recounting my own costs and realizing that many of them suffered much more than me.  I realized I need to deliver this message from the Lord to encourage them to persevere and not give up or give in.  I use Hebrews 12:2  to encourage them and myself that even Jesus had joy when he was going up the cross. There’s joy in suffering.  There is fellowship in suffering.

Now we are in Uganda, I don’t desire to go back to Canada as much as I was in Singapore. Perhaps I’ve grown spiritually. Perhaps I finally accept the fact that I have no home (even Jesus said the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head [Luke 9:58]). Perhaps my mind is being renewed with the mind of Christ and it changed all the priorities and desires of my heart.

Right now, I just want to do what the Lord wanted me to do.  Life is too short.  There ain’t a lot of time left.  I just want to be obedient to His Calling.   Wai Jai and I are in Uganda to equip and build the body of Christ so that they are mature, pure and blameless before the Lord.  And there’s much work to be done. Here in Uganda, I am slowly understand what it means to labor for His Kingdom.  The desire to follow Him is stronger than the earthly home.  I desire a better home!  A heavenly country!

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.Hebrews 11:13-16 (NKJV)

Whenever I struggle and feel discourage, whenever I have the longing to go back to Canada or Singapore, I stop and read Philippians 4:12-14:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:12-14 (NKJV)

This is a great passage to encourage yourself to follow God, especially during hard times.

Pressing toward reminded me of the races I used to compete. It is painful and it hurts. At the moment it is hurting is the moment I need to press it and not give up. The same principle applies in our walk with the Lord.
I am thankful for passage like this. Paul knew what suffering is. He had been persecuted, stoned, beaten, jailed, and shipwrecked.

I am 34 this year. I hope that when I am 54 or 74 I still have this desire as Paul has, to reach the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We took a picture with the students on the last day of us teaching at Bujumbura, Burundi.   We are wearing traditional Burundian wear which the students generously gave us.

We took a picture with the students on the last day of us teaching at Bujumbura, Burundi. We are wearing traditional Burundian wear which the students generously gave us.

Amen!

How can we have free will if God is Soverign?

If God is Soverign, how can we have free will?  If God is in control of everything, doesn’t that mean we really don’t have free will? How do we answer to that? God is Soverign and He is in control of everything.  At the same time, we all have free will and we can make our own decision whether to follow Him or not. Does it sound irrational?  Doesn’t make sense?  Or even a bit absurd? A few weeks ago, when Wai Jia and I was doing our devotions (if you’ve been following my blog posts, you will know that we are going through this book, Oswald Chambers’ So I send You & Workmen of God.) This is how Oswald tackled this question:

When we are born from above we understand what is incomprehensible to human reason – that the predestination of God and our infinitesimal lives are made one and the same by Him. From the standpoint of rationalism that is nonsense; but it is revelation fact. The connection between the election of God and human free will is confusing to our Gentile type of mind, but the connection was an essential element underlying all Hebrew thought. The predestination of God cannot be experienced by individuals of their own free choice; but when we are born again the fact that we do choose what has been predestined of God comes to us as a revelation.

The rationalist says it is absurd to imagine that the purposes of Almighty God are furthered by an individual life, but it is true. God’s predestinations are the voluntary choosing of the sanctified soul.Oswald Chambers’ So I send You & Workmen of God

God’s predestinations are the voluntary choosing of the sanctified soul. This means that when we are born again, our thoughts are the thoughts of Christ. Our decisions, in free will, will choose what God desires. We no longer have the heartbeat of ourselves. God’s heartbeat is in us! When we read that, both Wai Jia and I were in awe. To see that we have an opportunity, a chance, not just partnering up with the Lord but our spirit is so close with the Lord that His desire and our desires join together. Looking back, it is true. Everything about following Jesus. Everything about mission. This is not just the work or the mind of Cliff. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. A few years ago, when I was still in triathlon all my passion, aspiration and desire was to do more races. Train harder. Get faster. It was after laying it all down in a written contract to God that every decision I make I will seek Him first, that the thought of sharing the Gospel become a desire. It started out small. But the desire for mission grew and grew. It grew to a point where I have to make a decision between triathlon or doing mission. Have I looked back and wonder what life would be like if I stick with triathlon?  Sometimes.  But more often than not, I am amaze that by following God and doing His Will I will be in Uganda serving with a Singaporean wife.  That would never cross my mind.  AMEN :)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

How to go

This is taken from Oswald Chambers’ So I send You & Workmen of God.

How to go – Acts 1:8

There is always the danger of starting up false enthusiasm in missionary work. “Oh yes, I will go; where shall I go?” That is like making a false start in a race and having to go back to the starting point. Our Lord’s word go simply means live, and Acts 1:8 describes the going. Jesus did not say to the disciples, go to Jerusalem, go to Judea, go to Samaria, go to the end of the earth, but “You shall be witnesses to Me” in all these places. He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obesessed with this idea, “What are you going to do?” I hope none of us are going to do anything; I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be.

In Matthew 28:19, our Lord does not say go into all the world, but “Go therefore and make disciples.” He does the engineering. In Acts 1:8, He does not say you shall receive power, and you shall go into Jerusalem, but “You shall be witnesses to Me.” How the disciples went is described later in the Acts of the Apostles. They went at the point of the sword; persecution arose and scattered them by the providence of God. How to go refers to the personal spiritual character of the missionary, not to the feet of the missionary.Oswald Chambers’ So I send You & Workmen of God

A few questions I am asking myself:

  • what does it mean to be His Witness?
  • What does He wants me to be?

Do you agree with Oswald Chambers’ writing?  Disagree?

As Wai Jia and I read this this morning, she mentioned many asked us why Uganda and what are we going to be doing there.  Perhaps, the better question is what does Jesus wants us to be.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

Prayer is stupid

Prayer to us is not practical, it is stupid, and until we do see that prayer is stupid, stupid from the ordinary, natural, common sense point of view, we will never pray. But that is what Jesus says He will do. It sounds stupid, but it is a stupidity based on His redemption. The reason that our prayers are not answered is that we are not stupid enough to believe what Jesus says. It is a child, and only a child who has prayer answered; a wise and prudent adult does not (see Matthew 11:25). We have to be as natural as children in our relationship to Jesus Christ and He does His work all the time. Jesus Christ is our Master and He lays down His orders distincly, “therefore pray.”Oswald Chambers – So I send You & Workmen of God

This is a wonderful section we read this morning for our devotion. The quote, therefore pray, is from Matthew 9:38.

It says: Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

We pray to the Lord of the harvest. There can be many things we pray for. But the emphasis is to the Lord of the harvest. Noticed that it is the Lord of the harvest that sends out the workers. The workers didn’t decide themselves where to go and what to do. The Lord of the harvest have the plans. The workers are to follow from the Lord. This the nature of relationship between the master and his labourers. Or between us, follower of Christ, and the Lord of Lords!

There are many times we want to pray but get distracted. I have many things on the to do list (I have one right now). If I don’t do the work, no one else will. The whole mission project depends on me to get my work done. But this shouldn’t be the case. Oswald Chambers says that prayer is the work. Prayer is not to prepare us for the work.

Prayer is the outcome of our apprehension of the nature of God, the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His mind, and the means whereby He unveils His purposes to us.Oswald Chambers – So I send You & Workmen of God

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.John 14:12-14 (NKJV)

I remember a long time ago, some of us joked whether Jesus said in John 14 is ever going to happen. Really? I pray anything I want in Jesus name and He will do it for me? This is actually immature thinking. What Jesus implies is that when we are so connected with Jesus, He will do the things we ask because it is the thing He wants to do. The prayer is not what I want but rather what He wants.

Personally, I believe that I need to be as Oswald Chamber says, more stupid. It is not about great ideas I have in my head for His Kingdom. But rather the works He wants me to do for His purpose. And the work is done through prayer.

The Call

I packed Oswald Chambers’ two books in one, So Send I You and Workmen of God, with us to Uganda. One of the joyful moments we have every morning is reading one chapter for devotion.

Since following his devotion’s My Utmost for His Highest, I enjoyed reading Oswald Chambers’ writings. His words bring clarity to Spiritual truths in such a profound way I don’t get from reading other authors. I am not implying the other authors are not good. But for me, Oswald Chamber’s materials are true gold. He never softens the truth when it needs to be hard. He always brings the truth to its edge where it shows where my life still needs maturity. His materials are meant for those who take following Jesus seriously or else the reader will not have the desire to follow. Interesting, at times Jesus’ words can be sharp and feels ‘discouraging’ (see Mark 10:17-22 or John 6:60-66).

Of all the missionary-preparation books I read, by far, this book is my highest recommendation for anyone who desires or contemplate to be a missionary or missionary service. Many books talk about dealing with cultural, transition, language, and worldview issues etc., and these topics are important. Sometimes in desire to do mission, we can easily left out a missionary’s main focus, God. Oswald Chambers reinforce this over and over again.

Wai Jia and I had the opportunity to speak to many youths in various churches regarding missions. One of the frequently asked questions is how do I know God is calling me to such a place?

In the first chapter of the book, entitled ‘The Call’, Oswald Chambers shared that:

These calls are heard by a few only because the call is the expression of the nature from which the call comes, and can only be heard by those who are attuned to that nature.

Am I attuning to the one who calls? Which is God, Himself. It is so important to be able to attune or to discern His voice. Oswald used Isiah as an example. In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah was in such a crisis which he was able to attune God.

I am going to side track a bit. Notice that the immediate response Isaiah gave when he saw God was the realization of his own sin. Not just confessing sin in a general statement. But a very specific sin which he personally know he is in condemn for, a man of unclean lips. This is the response when we are in the presence of a Holy God. We instantly see our personal individual sins lit up like blood stains on our hands. This is taken from Oswald’s devotion on Utmost.

Anyway back to the call, God didn’t tell Isaiah to do anything. God was simply talking to Himself, ‘who should we send?’ (Isaiah 6:8)

Once Isaiah is attuned to God, the call comes as nature as breathing. Isaiah realized that he can do something for the Lord. He saw the opportunity. Now redeemed, forgiven, without hesitation and without regret, he said ‘Here am I! Send me.’

This birthed a ministry for Isaiah cost him his life.  God used him mightily as the last warning before Judah is to receive judgement through being conquered by the Babylonians.

Back to the question that the youth asked, how do we know where God is calling us?

My standard answer would be ‘well pray about it, read the Bible, talk to your pastor, research on different missionary organizations.’  It seems so random and without an element of God in it.

The better answer is to have the right relationship with God. God’s call is not random or required some advance deciphering device. We just need to attune ourselves to be in the right relationship with God.

To be brought within the zone of God’s voice is to be profoundly altered.

The call of God is not a call to any particular service, although my interpretation of the call maybe; the call to service is the echo of my identification with God. My contact with the nature of God has made me realize what I can do for God. Service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature. God’s call is fitted to His nature. When I have received His nature, then His nature and mine work together; the Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I, in my natural life, serve the Son of God in ordinary ways, out of sheer downright devotion to Him.

If our youths are interested on missions and are not sure what to do, the first and foremost we should help them attune their lives to God. Just like in Isaiah’s case, God didn’t ask or command him. The instant Isaiah is attuned with God, he instantly recognize the opportunity to serve.

..there is no call to service for God; it is my own actual “bit,” the overflow of super abounding devotion to God. God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him; He brings me into a relationship with Himself where in I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love of Him.

In short, don’t focus on do, focus on having a right relationship with God. When our heart and ear is attuned to Him, our eyes will see how we can serve Him!  Serving is the by-product of being in the presence of the Lord.