:the struggle:

I have my first ever day off alone since being married. Exciting, but it's weird being without my wife. Sigh. Maybe I'll clean the house? Year right...

2 nights ago was one of the harder times I've had at 180 that I can ever remember. I had prepared one of the hardest words that God has ever given me to share, and since I actually haven't preached at 180 for months I was very excited. God had a rough time ahead of me, but being rather arrogant I just kind of went with it.

Let me explain.

After days of solid prep, meaning actually sitting down on the computer and writing the talk, and weeks of pre-prep, which for me is prayerfully considering my major points and flow, I was ready for an awesome moving of God's spirit. The week before we invited the panel down to 180 and had Dave Prideaux in the lounge. It was a great vibe, the place was packed and it was an awesome night. So naturally I just kind of expected God again to move and bring even more. It's that kind of arrogant, expectant attitude I have that sometimes drives me. This time it almost broke me.

By the time we started worship I knew that we had not as many people as we normally had. I don't do a head count until we start the sermon, so I just kind of left it. As the first prayers were being said to start worship I gave in and looked around. In a split second I estimated about 30 people. I then started to slightly panic.

This is where the enemy is such a jerk, but amazingly talented. Fear of man crept in. man, I can't preach my heart out to a half full room. Condemnation crept in. was the hard word I received really from God? Then lies crept in... It's MY fault people aren't here, I'M a bad leader.. I shouldn't even be here. I could feel the enemy saying all these things to me, "No one wants to hear you speak, you don't have God's word in your heart, look around, it's empty and it's your fault. Just quit now while you still have a little bit of pride left. You're worthless, look at the empty seats."

Before every 180, especially when I speak, I allow myself to have a lit of bit of a breakdown of fear and anxiety. I never allow it to be seen, because it's always just between me and God. Kind of like how the lead character Jack says he deals with fear in the first episode of Lost. I give in to it, realise what COULD happen and all that I CANT do, or HAVEN"T done, or HAVEN'T achieved... Then it brings me to this place where I have to completely rely on God. Then, He redeems and restores me, then I go to 180 and I'm in a place where I believe that I can be used for His glory without taking any of it for myself. It's a cliché, but this is my process in getting 'prayed up'.

So, with the voices of enemy resounding in my mind, the middle of the first song was going loud in my ear, something inside me snapped. I felt the undeniable truth of the word of God speak through the music, the enemy, even my own thoughts.

"Don't be a hypocrite. Come to Me."

One of the only ways I know how to draw close to God is worship him insanely, with every once of my being, and for me, that means I need to scream. I don't normally do this, as composure is something that I've developed over the years of leadership, but in light of what was about to happen, I needed to push through and just worship Him. So without abandon I screamed His praises, and expectedly, the more I worshipped God, the more I focused on the lyrics I was singing, the more I knew the truth of the matter. ALL the answers to what the enemy was saying to me was in my talk; in God's word, and then as I worshipped, I went over my talk, and remember that it WAS GODS WORD that spoke this talk into being, and whether it was one person or one hundred people hearing that word, I will be faithful in delivering it.

That all took place, beginning to end, all within the first 2 songs.

By the time I got up to speak, I was there, in the right frame of mind to preach, and ready to be used. I never rank or grade my talks, I just know if I was in there, switched on to what I was saying and to what degree I was able to interpret what God wanted to say to the congregation.... and this time, I did it better then I can ever remember.

Afterwards, my intensity was confirmed when I was talking to Amy, who BV'd. She said, yeah.. I could hear you screaming. Inside, I knew she understood, and once again I could see why God placed someone like that on my team.

Speaking of my team, I need to thank them and especially my wife, without them I would not be able to do what I do, as they all lifted me up so I could be freed up to lead, and preach. The more I realise that my team are the key, the more God is glorified and the more our ministry moves forward.

i want to change the world. that's my vision for myself and for this ministry, that we would be a ministry that impacts the world.

-Derek Ma (180, March 11th, 2006)

Praise Him, for He and He alone is worthy of our Praise.

-amen indeed.


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