There are two anecdotes that Jesus gives that always get to me. These two anecdotes always involve two people. One who may be considered "righteous" and "well-off", the elite of society, the one with plenty. The other is considered "dirt", poor and needy in both materialism and spirit. These stories drive deep into my heart because I know (but hate to admit) that I am mostly in the position of the first person, rather than the latter.
One speaks of a Pharisee who prays to God. In his prayer, he thanks God that he's nothing like the riffraff who is behind him. He praises God for uplifting him to a good righteous position, supposedly free of the poison that plagues the weak and evil.
The other man, sinful to the bone, dares not even approach anywhere close to God. Instead, he beats his chest and repents heavily for his sin. He knows he is wrong. He admits to his wretchedness. This other man exercises utmost humility in knowing that he is in no way CLOSE to following after God's own heart.
The second anecdote speaks of a rich man who gives a portion of his wealth. Even a portion of his wealth is a hefty amount, enough to raise eyebrows and keep any ministry running. Then there is the destitute woman who gives a mere 2 coins, nearly worthless compared to the rich man's offering. However, the 2 coins is EVERYTHING that she has. Which was the better offering? The woman's because she held nothing back; she gave all she had to the Lord. The rich man, as much as he did give a "higher amount", he still held back.
Which people can you relate to the most in these stories?
I think for myself, it's the Pharisee and the rich man. I have so much pride that I can't admit that I have so much baggage and darkness in my life. I continually refuse to be humble and come before the Lord in my brokenness. I want to fix myself.
I feel I can never give it my all. There are so many things that hold me back from following the Lord completely. And I desire one day to really be able to give everything, even my LIFE. I want to be able to say one day that I will follow God wherever He takes me, no matter the cost. But to what extent will I follow?
I guess the real prayer in my heart is not only for humility, but also FAITH. Trust in God that He is the only one who can wipe away my darkness, TRUST that my life, wherever it goes, is exactly where it belongs.
Please GT with me! I want to seek out accountability.
When I think about fall quarter, I am amazed at how quickly it passed me by. Maybe all of you relate to experiencing the whirlwind-speed of 10 weeks. I STILL feel like missions wasn't all that long ago. I still feel like the first few weeks were not too long ago (they weren't). All the fun times, the stressful times, and key events were not all that long ago.
At the same time, it feels like it was such a long time ago. Like missions was a dream that is quickly fading. Like KCM orientation was years ago. It's ironic that time can feel like it passed really quickly, but also very slowly at the same time. It almost devastates me to think that this is how time is slipping quickly from our grasp. I want to hold on, cling on to a time where things seem to be going well. I don't want to face times of sufferings and tribulations, which I know are to come. I want to hold on, but alas, my grip is always slipping. Never strong enough.
Yes, I suppose it helps my birthday coincides with it.
I suppose it doesn't hurt to mention that Thanksgiving celebrations imply a succulent feast with a juicy turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet cranberry sauce, stuffing, and soft pumpkin pie.
I guess it's easy to miss the point of thanksgiving.
We should ALWAYS have a heart of thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for my family. They're always so supportive. And even when I don't show them that much love, they never fail to show me love anyway. They are my FAMILY.
I'm thankful for my friends. You guys are the reason I am able to go on. When the times get tough, I'm glad to say I have brothers and sisters in Christ all around me to help pick me back up.
I'm thankful for my God. He provides. He is sovereign. Nothing in my life is my own. Perhaps to a non-Christian, that sounds defeatist, self-depreciating, and all-in-all, quite depressing. But I find so much joy in knowing that God has His hand over me. If I were on my own, I would succumb to darkness and eventually to my ruin.
If God is for us, then who can be against us?
If God gave us the ultimate gift of salvation through His one and only son, then what wouldn't He give us??
Sometimes, I think we just need to OPEN OUR EYES. We moan and complain about not having this or that. But do you really know what it is to have nothing? I don't believe so.
Will you give me the discernment I need to do what is right?
Much has been changing in my heart.
Much is changing, period.
Usually, I hate writing ambiguous, "poetic" posts. Mostly because I hate reading them. I feel like the writer is trying too hard to appear "artsy" and "abstract", by using profound vocabulary in sentences as short and concise as they can be. In turn, this confuses the reader and makes one very curious to what the subject matter is.
There's barely any time to relax when there's so much to do. Many items clutter up my to-do list.
I seriously despise math. Why did such a stupid subject have to become the "language of the universe"? I've heard countless reasons why math is such a fun and good subject.
"There's always an answer."
"I love solving problems!"
I disagree heavily! I hate it. It's so rigid that there's no room for much creativity. You got the formulas. You have the progression of steps necessary to solve the problem. There is no room to go wild, no room to experiment. The answer is either right or wrong or unsolvable.
What a stupid subject.
I'm just bitter because I suck at math. I'm redeeming myself with this 2nd round of Math 20B. The midterm is on Friday (Which is tomorrow, joy!) and I have to pass this sucker to have confidence of passing the class (finally).
I'VE BEEN HAVING A THOUGHT LATELY.
It's been bothering me a lot. It's something I pray about these days because I need comfort. I need to be put in my place. I need to quell my pride.
I've always been frustrated with not being able to change people. You have a friend who indulges in certain things and you know it's not good for him or her. You want to tell him or her to stop without sounding too preachy or judgmental. I want to tell him that he shouldn't do the things he does because he knows better. He knows Christ, so he should definitely know better. His reasons are petty. His justifications are weak. I talk and talk, probably sounding preachy.
But I get sucked back into reality, when I realize a lot of my words fall empty upon his unopened ears. He goes and does it again and I'm just pissed. Do you not understand what I'm trying to say?!?
All the reasons seriously make so much sense in my head and my heart.
Then I realize, it's GOD who changes hearts. I should be praying for him, not trying to change him with methods of persuasion and solid arguments. I can give the best reasons in the world, but it can mean nothing to him because his heart isn't ready to hear it and accept it. And only God can break down and mold a sinner's heart.
I wish I could change and help people. But that's my pride talking to me, saying "Hey Dan, you have power to shape people's lives if you just say the right thing!"
I've slowly begun to understand. I've come to a realization that a Christian lifestyle is progressive. One might think, "That's stupid, of course it's progressive!" But for such a simple fact, it's pretty overlooked. You know because of how we live, think, act, and speak in our day to day lives. You can say you're Christian. I think many people can profess to believe in Jesus Christ. The sad statistic is how many people can walk the talk. Due to my experiences and observations, I have hypothesized that you simply cannot just look at an average Christian and know that he or she is a Christian. Simply because we can profess the faith, but find it extremely difficult to live out a Christ-centered life full of fruit and humility.
I've been thinking a lot about accountability these days. We had a talk in servant team meeting amongst our SA sophomores. Logically, accountability does not fail because we simply do not bother to ask the right questions or because we don't have time to meet with each other. I think the failure of accountability has a much deeper root than simple excuses.
Failure of accountability comes because each individual person isn't pursuing a relationship with God. This doesn't mean you have to be righteous, totally holy, got your life together, and honorary Christian warrior. It could simply mean that even as a broken sinner, you continue to thirst and seek after God with a willing heart. You don't have to feel like a super Christian, but rather a Christian who knows he/she is not super and is willing to conform to God's will.
Frankly, if you don't care about your relationship with God, then how could you care about trying to find encouragement and be encouraging to another brother or sister about it? If you played golf in high school, but didn't really care about it, then there's a very slim chance you would seek out a teacher or a peer to help you improve on your golf swings.
But there could be exceptions I suppose, such as one-sided accountability. If one person tries to encourage a spiritually-dead person and succeeds by perseverance, then all the power! But as always, accountability is best when both people are equally passionate about growing in their relationship with God TOGETHER.
My life is so dull. It's nothing but school school school with KCM and Halo thrown in here and there. I wish something would spark up my life and make it interesting. Am I asking for too much? Am I being naive for thinking that my life right now is dull? Probably.
Maybe that seems like a stupid statement. Of course I worry. Everyone worries about something! Nothing is right in this world. At any given moment, something can be going wrong. Something is deviating from what you would deem satisfactory and stable. It's just a constant reminder of how broken this world is and how uncomfortable we must be living this life.
I obviously don't completely trust in God. If I worry about such petty things such as schoolwork, my GPA, and finances, I don't trust that He has something great in store for me, despite any "failures". And because I don't trust, we can deduce that I have very little faith in God. In Greek, faith and trust are synonymous.
Someone needs to come over here and slap me in the face. How can I NOT trust in God? Look at everything He's done for me, all the blessings. Think about INDIA. Countless times has God shown His hand working powerfully in our lives. We have seen our worlds shaken, lives changed, and people saved. Yet, we do not trust completely.
I'm constantly reminded of the Israelites in Exodus. We are the Israelites in the Exodus times. How foolish do those people seem to you! God split the Red Sea right before their very eyes, provided manna in the desert, dished out 10 plagues upon their enemies, Egypt, and delivered them from slavery. YET, they complain, make golden calves, grumble, vocally express their desire to go back to Egypt, and FORGET. These are people who have seen God's very power before their eyes, so explicitly, so clearly, it's unmistakable. STILL, they have the nerve to complain to God and distrust Him. We are the very same. We can see God working in the most extraordinary times and the most ordinary times. Our hearts and minds are CHANGED because of Him. And yet, we find reason to complain.
Forgive me of my lack of faith.
This life is so hard. So easy to let faith waver. So easy to lose trust. But God is eternal and faithful to us. We draw back, but He always pulls us back to Him. And you know, it takes SURRENDER.
I leave you with the chorus of one of my favorite songs:
I just dropped my MUS 11: Folk Music class today because I thought about it long and hard. The class, easy A as it may be, isn't worth it. Frankly, I'm not very interested in it.
I'm here at college not only to get a degree as fast as I can and throw myself into the real world. I'm here to explore, learn, and challenge myself. I want to fulfill my requirements, but at the same time be able to do the classes that will truly stretch my mind.
This quarter, I'm going to really get into my major.
I know I'm doing something wrong if I become too comfortable in this life.
We're made apart from this world. Meaning we'll never find true rest and peace in our lifetime, which really scares me. Knowing that society tells you to pursue happiness via financial success, families, and inner peace and acceptance; we know better.
Don't you wish you could be comfortable? Just sit back and kick it. Let life pass you by, nothing tugging at your heart to take action and do something about the brokenness of this world.
But alas, God calls each of His chosen to go forth, spread His word, create disciples, reach out to the lost, and fight for truth.
- UCSD KCM Servant Team Retreat _Thursday-Saturday, September 11-13
- Traffic School _Monday, September 15
- Early Move-In _Friday, September 19
I only got a week and a half left before I move back in to San Diego for my 2nd year! I must say, I'm pretty psyched to go back and see all my friends and hang out till the wee hours of dawn. I hate to admit this, but I miss going to class and learning and doing something productive. I miss NOT being productive on purpose. Ah! Sophomore year brings new challenges and new struggles, but also more good times. So bring it on!
I was so blessed last night at the bonfire at Dockweiler. We were singing praise and praying for various topics. We were being somewhat loud so that the neighboring pits could hear what we were saying/praying/singing. I thought we were being pretty annoying, but it was quite the opposite. A man named David and his friend/brother(?) Alex and his daughter came over and they listened to us sing 4 songs and pray. He told us that he was really touched by what we were doing and saying. It got to his heart somehow. David told us that he was not a believer until that moment he witnessed us proclaiming our praises to God.
This was simply an amazing moment when I saw God moving physically in our world. What I thought was us just singing praise and praying around a fire was actually God using us powerfully to reach out to two lost souls in the fire-pit next to us. God worked in their hearts so that they would listen carefully to the words we said. Something stirred in their hearts.
Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you feel the people tremble?
And we can see that God you're moving, a mighty river through the nations.
It reminds me of John 13:35 when Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know that we follow our Lord because of our love for each other.
Apparently what David witnessed was something he had not seen something before, fellow brothers and sisters of Christ lifting up praises and prayers in one voice because of our love for God and each other.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." ~ 1st Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
I love 1st Corinthians 13. It's most well known for being the "Love" chapter, quoted generously by lovers of love, printed on mugs and plates to become inspirational keepsakes, and made famous by "A Walk to Remember". The entire chapter is so clear about the definition of love, everything it embodies, and everything it is not. It's one of those passages in the Bible that you just can't help but smile when reading, because you know that the love described by the words inscribed by Paul to the Corinthians is one that is given to us by a Perfect Father.
We are so fortunate that God doesn't love us the way we love. We love so conditionally. Even our "unconditional" love can be flawed, especially when we commit sins against those whom we love most.
I've never quite fully studied verse 13 closely. I always took it for face value and never really dug deep and discovered the real meaning behind it. I always assumed it just meant that love was just that awesome. But why is love that awesome? Why is it so emphasized? Why is God the entire embodiment of Love and not merely Hope and Faith?
One of my brothers who went to India with me, Josh, gave me and our team this insight.
We may need FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE throughout our lives. Faith in our God to trust that our lives are completely in His hands. Hope for salvation and to one day meet with God in our heavenly dwelling and leave behind our sinful world. Love from God to receive His grace and mercy, to always be picked up when we fall, and to emulate that love to others so that they may see God's love through us.
Once we pass away and our souls are finally at Home:
FAITH is no longer necessary. There is no need to have faith in a God that we will be able to see and interact with. We know He is there without an inkling of a doubt.
HOPE is no longer necessary because we have already achieved the end goal of the hope we had. Once we are Home, there can be no greater hope since there is nothing greater.
However, LOVE will always remain and be greater than FAITH and HOPE because LOVE will always embody our relationship with God, whether it is on earth or in Heaven above.