The Woman who Broke the Rules

WEDNESDAY’S WORD

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Today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite stories in the Gospels — the woman washing Jesus feet with her tears (Luke 7:36-50)

What courage she had, to walk into the house of the Pharisee, uninvited, bringing only a bottle of perfume and her heart. What boldness she had, a known sinner, to be doing this. What trust she had, that Jesus wouldn’t push her away or rebuke her but accept her offering of tears, repentance and deep worship. 

It doesn’t say so, but it seemed like she had an encounter with the Lord sometime before. It was so powerful, so compelling that she walked into another person’s house, uninvited, to pour out her love for Him. 

And Jesus calmly accepted the loving touch of her hands, the worshipful kisses on his feet, knowing these were outward expressions of a grateful heart. He, and she, defied the conventions of the day. She ignored the judgmental glances of the Pharisee, He rejected the man’s silent criticism. 

The Pharisee only saw ugliness in what was playing out before him; but Jesus only saw beauty. Jesus’ summary was succinct — those who love much, have been forgiven much; those who love little, have been forgiven little. Such beauty in the truth of those words.

The woman took a big risk in displaying her love for all to see, but her reward was so much greater: Jesus declared, “Your sins are forgiven” — they were already forgiven, but His pronouncing it aloud shifted the atmosphere and her life. And “Your faith has saved you.” As the saying goes, FAITH is spelt RISK. She trusted His heart and did the socially unthinkable. And He found it beautiful.   

When We Can’t Do Good

WEDNESDAY’S WORD

We’ve heard the story of the Good Samaritan numerous times. A lawyer wishing to justify himself asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” And our Lord launches into a story of this poor guy travelling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, who gets attacked by robbers and is left for dead. The priest and the Levite see his limp body and pass by, but the good Samaritan stops to help.

And Jesus says to the lawyer who asked the question, “Go and do likewise”. The Samaritan is the model do-gooder. So it seems.

But I wonder if Jesus was countering the lawyer’s legalism and emphasis on performance with another legalism: “Go and do likewise.” Was it meant to show the lawyer that truth without wisdom and God’s guidance is a trap?

I know of someone who gave two years of her time trying to help her neighbor who was in an abusive relationship. She listened to her neighbor’s story; she met the abusive boyfriend. She heard the daily quarrels, she was there when police were called.  

My dear friend, whose motto is “Do Good,” asked me to come and help. I came, and after 2 hours of listening to her neighbor, I came to the conclusion that she didn’t want help, she didn’t want advice, she didn’t want prayer — although she had said so the day before. She only wanted an additional person to listen to her daily drama.

“One and done,” as my American friend would say. I left.

You cannot help those who don’t want to be helped — even if you see that they desperately need it.   

Here’s another illustration:  

A well-known prophet was the son of missionaries in Brazil, living deep in the jungle, next to the Amazon river. Every so often, his evangelist father would take his motor boat and chug off to preach the gospel to the villagers, tend to new believers, or go down the river a long way off to get fresh supplies. The river was unpredictable. Sometimes, there were storms and the waves would be so rough that ships could be wrecked in the rocks below. 

On one such day, when his father had taken his boat down the river, a storm arose. The wind and the waves were violent, and a ship was wrecked. They heard sailors screaming for help. But there was only his mother and the children. He remembered standing there, watching the sailors struggling in the water and knowing that he didn’t have the strength to swim out, and his mother was standing at the banks, helpless, because she didn’t have the strength either.

After an eternity, they heard the sound of their father’s motorboat in the distance. Father had the boat, father knew where the rocks were, father had the strength and the equipment to help. And his father saved everyone.  

Some of you may be struggling with the fact that you saw someone in need, and you couldn’t help. You were too young, or you didn’t have the strength, or you didn’t have the wisdom. And every time you hear the story of the Good Samaritan, you are reminded of your “failure”, and the devil is tormenting you with that memory. 

God who sees all things, sees your heart. The Lord recognizes your desire to do good. He also knows that you didn’t have the strength, the wisdom and the resources to help.  

Let go of that toxic memory; leave it on the Cross.

// Prayer //

I command the accuser of the brethren to leave; you will no longer condemn those who couldn’t help because they were too young, they didn’t have the strength, the knowledge, the wisdom to help someone in need; Lord, will you remove the poison of those accusations, restore their soul and give them peace. Grant them insight and knowledge of Your true heart towards them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bloganuary Day 24

He resembled Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the ideal man, but transformed into a living, chalk white sculpture. I, wearing a dress, was trying hard to swing on a high trapeze. I looked years younger, and I was messing up the trapeze act, trying to get the twisting ropes to swing straight.

Da Vinci’s ideal man came up, tall and strong, and said bluntly, “That is not for you,” and led me away.

Next, I find myself alone in a room with an open door. I am standing barefoot in a scallop-shaped pool filled with fresh water and have a large conch seashell in my hand to use as a scoop.

And then I see a 30-ish man, smartly dressed in collared T-shirt and belted trousers in front of me. He was so eager to get into the pool that he hadn’t taken his shoes off. Looking at me with expectation, he was standing in the clear, clean water, both feet clad in a pair of brown suede boat shoes.

Then the dream ended, and I woke up with a “Hmmm?” in my mind.

This was in the late 80s.

Thirty years later, I am helping people get clean.


10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

1When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:10-17

Bloganuary Day 22

It seems easier to trust Google more than we trust God. Google has all the answers. Type in anything and the answers, true or false, will come up in a millisecond.

Trusting God is a more… esoteric experience. But He challenges us to do exactly that:

It’s a heart matter, a love matter actually; people in love may act in quite irrational ways — at least that’s how pragmatic people will view it.

In my culture, we’re urged to get the 5Cs — cash, credit card, car, condominium, and membership in a country club. That’s a sign of having “arrived”.

In contrast, God tells us to be counter-culture — give up everything, including all the signs of having “arrived”, and follow Him. That is not comfortable. Not at all.

There’s even more. He says:

Jesus, I have found, has a tendency to up the ante.

Years ago, I was faced with that choice — to choose what the culture tells me is the right thing to do, or to choose what Jesus tells me to do. I did the latter.

It has been an excellent decision.

Bloganuary Day 15

Daily reflection has proved to be very beneficial. Over time, I have formed the habit of going over in my mind the day’s events. And I allow the feelings to bubble up.

  • If it’s joy, I re-enter the event in my imagination, and relive it again. I am reinforcing and strengthening my joy.
  • If it’s something negative like hurt or irritation, I would reflect on the cause. Is it my own unfulfilled expectations? Is it the other person’s lack of consideration? How can I do better next time?

For people who like a more deliberate structure and the authority of 400 years of tradition initiated by St Ignatius of Loyola, these five steps are very helpful.

The Pocket Examen is from Loyola University, Maryland

These daily reflections gets me unstuck from today and moves me on to tomorrow.

An unexamined life is not worth living

Socrates

Bloganuary Day 13

A good breakfast is necessary. Now, I am fixing bagels — bagels toasted in the oven, oozing with hot cut sausage, pan-fried tomato, fresh veggies and if I’m feeling really hungry, a sunny-side-up topped with melted cheese. Biting into the crunch of bagels mingled with spicy chorizos and the mildness of lettuce and tomato — it’s a symphony of goodness. I pair my bagel with chamomile, honey and vanilla tea and enjoy its sweet and mellow flavor.

Then, it’s time to focus on the music: My singers for today are Don Moen and Lenny LeBlanc. The big band leader-organiser vs the sweet balladist play off each other. They are in their winter years but have aged like good wine, as they say. Men who’ve made difficult choices but good ones have a gentle, mellow wisdom about them — although they are not devoid of some sharp edges. They call themselves the “two grumpy old men”, and with reason. Some of the grumpiness slipped out when spontaneous Lenny spotted Don’s carefully prepared song list and said, “What’s this? You don’t need this.” And sent it sailing to the floor! Long-suffering Don is taken aback, but recovers, and all goes smoothly.

Next, to check the Bloganuary prompt. If I’m inspired, I write straight away. If not, I may skip writing. Today is a good day. I’m inspired.

Then, to listen to cutting-edge Christian teacher Arthur Burk. Through using his principles, I’ve helped many get free of spiritual hindrances — not all, though. Some people are stuck in such murky stuff I can’t get them out. At least not yet. The world, as the hymn says, has “many dangers, toils and snares” and some desperately desire to be freed from the traps.

After hearing Arthur, I check through what he says. As usual, no issues with his interpretation. And next, I make a mental note to see if I can help one of my struggling clients with this new tool.

Then I meditate on passages in the Bible or pray quietly. These practices ground me. When I ground myself in Eternity, the irritations, annoyances and disappointments of the day slide off. There’s nothing like being intimately connected with the life-giving flow of the One “who was, and is, and is to come.” This makes my day perfect.

Mary and Eve

Mary and Eve, created by Sr. Grace Remington

Two vulnerable women, separated by centuries; the first, newly created, freshly made to enjoy Eden and not quite knowing the subtleties of the serpent. Young, innocent and separated from her husband for a while, the snake struck. “Is God really good?” it asked. “Has He really your good in mind? Or is He keeping His best from you?” Each word was a smoky tentacle reaching into the recesses of Eve’s brain, manipulating her thoughts, convincing her of the rightness of the serpent’s reasoning. Within her, something was saying, ‘No, no, no! That’s not right!”

But her mind was slowly convinced, controlled by the subtle lies of the serpent, agreeing with him that God was holding out His best from her. And so, she took the fruit, and ate. And Adam, coming in the last minute and watching the subtle deception that was taking place, drawn into the strangely hypnotic scene, took the fruit from Eve, and ate. Then the spell was broken. And God’s heart was broken.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen 3:13, NIV)

But God had a plan.

“I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
(Gen 3:15, NIV)

The serpent used an innocent woman to spring his evil plan of destruction of the human race. God would also use an innocent woman, a virgin, to spring His plan of redemption of the human race.

The battlefield is in the mind. Whom are you going to believe, this Christmas?

The Trojan Horse Gift

Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction. Deut 7:26 NIV

A client’s baby daughter could not sleep well ever since she was born. For two years, there was no peace for the family at night. She wondered what was wrong, so she called us in.

The first thing we saw in her house was an occult symbol over her front door. As we walked through all four floors, we noticed the most oppressive place was her daughter’s room. But we sensed the cause of that spiritual oppression was elsewhere — it was hanging over her front door.

So I said, “Let’s remove it, take it out of the house, put it in the rubbish bin, and see what happens.” She did so, removing the last traces of glue attaching that object to the door before wrapping it in a plastic bag and putting it in the garbage bin outside her house.

Then we went back to her daughter’s room. Remarkable difference. Gone was the heavy, foreboding presence — the air felt fresh and clean.

A year ago, the client had asked me to cleanse and bless her house and the object wasn’t there. So I asked her what happened. She said: “The next day, my mother-in-law brought the object and said it was a present for us. So as not to offend her, we hung it on the front door.”

This is what I call the Trojan Horse Tactic. God’s ancient enemy knows that Christians would not knowingly bring a “detestable object” into our house. So he uses well-meaning relatives and friends to give us a loaded gift, and even though we’re not comfortable with it, we feel obliged to keep it.

(A Trojan horse is a term derived from Greek mythology — the Greeks were besieging the city of Troy and it was impenetrable. So they left a “present” outside the city gate and pretended to sail away. It was a massive, beautifully carved horse that was hollow — Greek soldiers were hidden inside. The citizens marveled at the horse and pulled it in. The soldiers came out at night, opened the city gates and the army destroyed Troy).

So what do we do if we get a Trojan horse this Christmas? I reason like this: When a gift is given to us, it is ours, therefore we can do what we like with it. We can keep it, give it away if it’s a duplicate or if we think someone else needs it, or we can destroy it if it’s loaded with occult issues.

If someone really loves us, they won’t be offended if we tell them the reason. Perhaps they may even learn to check with us first before buying. If they get offended, then there’s something else at work — the gift is actually not a gift. There’s a hidden issue. And depending on how close you are to the friend or relative, you may need to spend some time figuring out how to healthify the relationship.

Breaking Free from a Broken System

When the movie “The Matrix” first came out, it hit something core in humanity. It was challenging us — would we choose the harshness of reality or remain in a comfortable delusion? The red pill or the blue pill.

Photo by Tim Johnson on Unsplash

When we choose the red pill, we need to acknowledge reality — that the system is broken; whether it’s family, work, or church. Second, we need to refuse the blue pill — go against the natural tendency to denial. To acknowledge that we are broken, that the system has effectively worked to break us, and we need healing. And this is hard. The blue pill is a real temptation.

In The Matrix, there’s something evil working behind the scenes using humans as its tools. So it is, in this world.

I was only a child when to my surprise and horror, I saw a whole flood of small “somethings” similar to black insects coming out from a traditional Chinese calendar featuring a pretty woman. One of those classic beauties. With all my might, I yelled, “No!” and the scene disappeared. I kept what I saw to myself. After I came to the Christian faith, I realised they were demons, a reality that Jesus dealt with on a daily basis. And that we deal with pretty often, but because we’ve been fed with the blue pill, we deny they exist. And when we deny they exist, we’re not tuned in to the fact that some of the “stuff” happening to us may not be as innocuous as it seems.

Refuse the blue pill. Take the red one. Because Jesus exists too. And He has the last Word.

How I Got Involved in Deliverance

You don’t choose to get involved in deliverance ministry, God chooses you.

My first deliverance ministry came about involuntarily. I was with two others who were part of my prayer group, having fun and fellowship and dinner at the KFC that momentous night. Someone we knew came up to us, and said God told him to look for a group that was in unity, and ask them to help him get rid of a spirit. And he spotted us.

We already knew he had a spirit — we could see it in his eyes — what we didn’t know was whether we could deliver him. But he was keen, and I was the leader, and I thought, ‘Well, no harm trying’. He led us to his office. I asked him to sit in the centre, while I sat behind him and the other two were at his side. We started praying very fervently as we didn’t know what else to do.

Then, I heard the Lord say, “Lay hands on him.” At the same time, Jenny, sitting on my right, looked at me with big eyes and said, “I think we should lay hands on him.” I didn’t really want to, but I obeyed, putting my right hand on his back and uttering the first words that came to mind: “Spirit, be gone!” To my surprise, power shot out from my hand, he fell from his chair and lay crouched on the ground for a number of seconds while our prayer volume increased immensely! After a while, he opened his eyes and said with astonishment, “The spirit is gone!”

He explained he had tried to command it to leave by himself, but nothing happened until he sought God, heard from Him and found us. He also told us that when he fell from the chair, he blacked out for a while as the spirit left him.

Many years later, I bumped into this man in a gathering and I could see that his eyes were still clear. He confirmed he had remained free from that issue and in the meantime he’d gotten married. His wife definitely got a much better man.

I also learned a key lesson from that eventful night: In order to have an effective prayer ministry, the group has to be on good terms with one another and united in purpose before His power would flow. God works in the midst of love.