marturia

God Giggles?

Excerpt from Darren Wilson’s new book:

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“God walked with them in the cool of the day.” – Genesis 3:8

Maybe it’s the strange way my brain works, but to me, this is one of the coolest sentences in the Bible. I’m not sure how important it is in the grand scheme of things, but then again, this book is about uncovering some of the smaller details peppered throughout the Bible that reveal aspects of God’s character, and this one is a perfect example.

First, the obvious. Not until Jesus shows up on the scene will God again so openly and brazenly walk on the earth in our midst. Who knows if He still does it on his own, out in the wild somewhere, just for old time’s sake. But it’s probably best for us not to conjecture too much on that and turn God into some kind of holy Sasquatch. No, I’m more interested in what this says about God’s character and the kind of relationship He desires with us.

We all know that the pre-fall Garden of Eden was the way God had INTENDED His creation to be. No death, apparently (meaning no steak–a serious flaw in the system if you ask me), and this curious little admission on God’s part. He used to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. The God of the Universe took human form and came down to just hang out with Adam and Eve. Who knows what kinds of conversations they had. Maybe He was teaching them biology. About the cosmos. Algebra. The way His world works. Maybe He had to explain the birds and the bees to them. Maybe He just listened to them. Maybe He told them jokes.

I have to stop here and tell you a story. If you’ve seen my film, Father of Lights, you’ve met my friend Ravi, who has one of the most unique gifts I’ve ever encountered. He hears the audible voice of God everyday. I mean it, audible. He wakes up and God tells Him who he’s going to meet that day and what he’s supposed to say to them. Sometimes He gives Ravi GPS turn-by-turn directions somewhere to save a lost or kidnapped child. Ravi has a million stories of crazy stuff God has asked him to do, but this particular story bears retelling because it shows exactly why God gave Ravi this gift and not someone as simple minded and moronic as me.

I was filming with Ravi in India for Father of Lights, and we were driving somewhere–I don’t remember the particulars. But Ravi is my friend, so I feel comfortable enough with him to ask him stupid questions all the time. I mean, how many people am I going to meet who have audible conversations with God everyday? So, my mind going to its usual strange place, I asked him…
“Hey Ravi, is God like, super serious all the time?”

“Well, He’s very funny, but when He’s talking business, He’s all business.”

“He ever told you a joke?”

Ravi laughed. I’m pretty sure no one had ever asked him that one before.

“No, sir.”

“You should ask God to tell you a joke.”

Ravi laughed some more.

“I’m serious! Can you imagine what a joke from God would be like? It would have to be the funniest joke in the history of the world!”

Ravi continued laughing. Then he thought for a moment.

“You know what, I think I will ask Him to tell me a joke.”

“You serious?”

“Yes. I will ask Him the next time we talk.”

At this point, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. And secretly, I can’t wait to hear this joke. Of course, I’m not expecting God to ACTUALLY tell Ravi a joke, but even the thought of him asking God for a joke strikes me as hilarious.

A few days go by and, if you’ve seen my movie Father of Lights, you know, a lot of crazy stuff goes down. Towards the end of our time together I asked Ravi if he’s asked God for that joke yet. He tells me he keeps forgetting. Every time God talks to him it’s all business. It’s enough for Ravi to simply try to remember everything God is telling him.
So I head back home to Chicago, and every few days I email Ravi to see if he’s asked God for a joke. He keeps telling me no, he hasn’t had the chance to bring it up. I get busy with life again, and a few weeks go by. I finally remember that I haven’t asked Ravi in a while about the joke, so I message him again. This time he tells me that actually, yes, he did ask God for a joke.

And?

He told Ravi one.

And!?

Ravi isn’t going to tell me the joke.

I could have punched my computer screen. I begged, I pleaded, but to no avail. Ravi refused to tell me the joke.

I asked him if it was at least funny.

He said yes…kind of.

At this point, my curiosity is piqued to the boiling point, and I will never let this die until I find out what that joke was. So our good mutual friend, Will Hart (who I filmed with in Furious Love), told me a few months later that he was heading over to India to see Ravi. I told him the story and instructed him that he HAD to get Ravi to tell him the joke. He promised to get it out of him (he’s known Ravi much longer than me).

When Will returned, I called him immediately to find out about the joke.

“Wilson, he’s not going to tell you that joke.”

“Why not!?”

“I don’t know, but he wouldn’t even tell me. I have no idea what his problem is.”

More months go by, and Ravi comes to visit me in Chicago. Now I’ve got him cornered. I’m like a rabid dog, hell bent on prying this stupid joke out of my friend. It’s no longer simple curiosity driving me, but raving madness.

“Ravi, you have to tell me the joke.”

“I cannot tell you the joke, sir.”

“But it’s my joke! You wouldn’t have even asked for it if I hadn’t told you to. If anyone on earth deserves to hear this joke, it’s me!”

“I can’t.”

“Why?”

And that’s when I start to get an inkling as to why he won’t tell this to me.

“Well,” Ravi starts to say, a little warily, “I asked Him, and He kind of laughed…”

“He laughed?”

“Well, it was kind of a giggle.”

“God giggles?”

“Yeah, like a cross between a laugh and a giggle. I could tell He thought the idea was funny. So He was quiet for a moment, then He starts telling me a joke. It starts off really funny, and I’m laughing. It was a story joke, you know? But as He’s telling the story, it keeps getting more and more funny, and I’m laughing out loud. But then it gets to the punchline and…”

“Yeah?”

“And I realized it was a joke about me.”

I stared at him for a moment. Have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that. So God tells Ravi a joke, but it’s a joke about Ravi. And then I understood why he wasn’t ever going to tell me the joke. Ravi is an intensely private person, and he knew that if he ever told me the joke that I’d probably wind up putting it in one of my books (which I would–and in fact, did), and the last thing this humble, private man wanted was for the whole world to read the one recorded joke told by God in human history, and he’s the punchline.

This also shows the genius of God. He granted my request, but in such a way as to make sure the joke He told never saw the light of day. It was a personal moment between two friends, and it was intended to stay that way. While I’m disappointed that I may never know what the joke was, there’s a big part of me that is more than a little satisfied to know that the God I love and serve actually told a joke.

And that I made Him giggle.

So what’s the point of all this? When looking at God’s character as displayed through His creation of the world and His first interactions with the men and women He created, we can understand that the God of the Bible, from the very beginning, has been a God who desires relationship with us. He is not an absentee landlord, nor is He some distant deity up in the sky somewhere, looking down at this world with cold, clinical fascination. He is a God who desires to walk with us in the cool of the day; who’s first act towards us was a kiss; who sees us as more than just worker bees; and who is far more relatable than we often give Him credit for. In essence, He is a God who, if nothing else, shows us right from the start that He actually HAS a character; He HAS a personality.

And it is my life’s goal, and the point of this entire book, to attempt to uncover just a fraction of that amazing, wonderful, and surprising character of God.

 - Darren Wilson | Finding God in the Bible

The history of missions is the history of answered prayer. From Pentecost to the Haystack meeting in New England and from the days when Robert Morrison landed in China to the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam, prayer has been the source of power and the secret of spiritual triumph.

—Samuel Zwemer

Philip Mantofa: Life Principles

Principle 1:
Seeds of Revival: Sow in Tears

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).

Why doesn’t every church experience revival? Why are some churches stagnant while others explode with spiritual growth? Does the Lord show favoritism? Of course not. We should not allow ourselves to be deceived. The Lord is not like us. He is present in every church, and He can work through anyone. Then, since this is true, how do we explain the reason for stagnation?

The answer is simple—we have forgotten to lease our tears to the Lord.

In 2000, during my prayer time, the Lord made a request that at first sounded strange to me.

"Philip, will you lease your tears to Me for the sake of My Church?"

"Why do You want me to lease my tears, Lord?" I asked Him.

"I want your tears to become the seeds of revival," He answered.

"The seeds of revival?" For several moments, I remained silent. Then I answered. "Yes, Lord. I will lease my tears to You."

From that day on, the Lord has used my tears. I began weeping over souls nearly every night until long past midnight. Those days were the most tiring for me.

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Principle 2:
Seeds of Revival: Sow in Prayer

During this season, I did not put my hope in any human being, lest I be discouraged. The faith of the young people was extremely fragile. Empty and negative rumors were circulating everywhere. That’s not to mention the pessimistic words I heard all around me, which could have crushed my hopes and sown doubt. Sadly, the young people were far from ready to mobilize for the great move of God that was coming.

One day a group of students manifested demonic activity right before my eyes, a result of harboring unforgiveness in their hearts. It was an ugly scene. Their wounded spirits were far form being healed. This reality struck fear in my heart, and I protested to the Lord. “How is it possible for you to use me to have a spiritual revival with people like these? They seem so broken and unable to resist the devil at all, much less help bring about a supernatural breakthrough in this city.’ I was beginning to lose hope.

'Lord, please do not give me false hopes. Why should I hope for a soul-winning revival? I would be thankful enough just to see these healed of their wounds.'

Just as my strength began to fail, the Lord spoke clearly to me. ‘Philip, you must get up every morning. You must pray.’

I thought morning meant 7am. Apparently, I was mistaken. Every day at 1am, the Lord woke me up to pray for souls and to weep for their salvation. The Lord reminded me of the outbreak of spiritual revival in Ungaran through the tears we shed in 1995.

"Philip, do not be afraid. Do you want a revival like the one in Ungaran? Do you want that to happen here in this church? Do you want that to happen in this city?"

Through a trickle of my tears I answered, “Of course, I want that, Lord. I want the revival in Ungaran to happen here, too.”

Then the Lord revealed to me the restoration of the condition of Zion in His Word (Neh. 1; Dan. 9:1-19; Heb. 5:7). I prayed for the restoration of Mawar Sharon Church for the next three years. Within six months, our cell groups multiplied from 18 to hundreds. This phenomenal church growth occurred despite the fact that not every cell group had fully recovered from the past trauma. Truly, it was the Lord who restored the condition of this church.

And what happened when the Lord restored the condition of Zion? Revival. It was like a dream.

"When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "THe Lord has done great things for them.’ the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our forttunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. THose who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who  goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him (Psalm 126:1-6).

One by one, people mobilized to help carry the Lord’s burden. They became mightily moved to weep for souls. Every morning I called out their names in prayer before the Lord (see Exodus 28:11-12; 29).

"Prepare them Lord. Prepare them." I determined not to focus on the problem, but to set my vision on revival. Every prayer was saturated in faith.

"Give me Surabaya or I’ll die."

The Lord answered my prayers and petitions. The spiritual condition of the youth changed drastically. The fire of the Holy Spirit was raging in the church. God’s visitation was real in every service. Everyone began evangelizing. We scheduled revival services, and the results were beyond our expectations. From 2002 to 2004, local churches were established everywhere. The congregation increased as we reached thousands of disciples for Christ.

News about the spiritual revival spread far and wide. The Lord caused a great stir in people’s hearts everywhere. It was as if a current of high-voltage electricity resurrected the spiritually dead. Men and women alike were suddenly awakened from their long spiritual sleep. People shouted in astonishment, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’ (Psalm 126:3).

Today, God is still moving at Mawar Sharon Church. The fire of our revival keeps burning, fueled by holy discontent until the day we welcome the coming of Christ.

Let me ask you a question. Do you want to see revival in your life and in your church? Then become a partner with Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. Wrestle in prayer until revival comes. Press through as you pray. Pray until a breakthrough bursts forth. Pray for lost souls. Come with a humble heart; kneel and say, ‘Lord, I long to see an even greater spiritual revival in this place. I desire a visitation of God for every soul.’

The Lord called me to lease my tears to Him. Now He is calling you to do the same.

- Philip Mantofa | Warrior for Revival

I learned to pray out of desperation. For most of us, this is how the adventure usually begins. When we finally get serious about prayer, the trigger is usually desperation, not duty…. We don’t pray because we ought, we pray because we are without any other recourse.

—David Jeremiah

Not Home Yet

"There’s a well-known story of a missionary couple who after decades of faithful service overseas, were returning back to the States.

They happened to be on the same ship to New York as President Theodore Roosevelt, who was returning from a big game hunt in Africa. As the ship pulled into the dock, huge crowds, the press, and a brass band were gathered to welcome him home.

The old missionary couple, health broken and spent in their service for Christ, walked off the ship and through the crowd, unmet and unknown. As they walked, a tear trickled down the husband’s cheek.

'What's wrong?' his wife asked.

'My whole life I've given to serving Christ. We've spent ourselves for Jesus and nobody is here to greet us on our return home.'

His dear wife thought for a minute and said softly, ‘That’s because we’re not home yet, dear.’”

- Michael Oh | Missions As Fasting

Except from one of my favorite sermons on missions, where Michael Oh, missionary in Japan and CEO of the Lausanne Movement, speaks on “Missions as Fasting: The Forsaking of Things Present for the Global Exaltation of Christ.”