Sunday, July 29, 2012

spiritual discipline

Short update:

I've been in Louisville for a month now. Overall it's been pretty great. My church is great, my work is great, the people that I've met in both places are really great.

It's an interesting life to be working full-time, having my own place, basically being in complete control of everything I do on a day-to-day basis. I'm learning a lot about disciplining myself in basic responsibilities. Healthy eating, consistent exercise, time management, finance management, etc.

But my spiritual discipline seems to be lacking. It's something that I really want to develop and I'm praying that God teaches me how to chase after Him in every avenue of my life. My church has been going through a series on Rest. They've been talking a lot of resting in the Lord, and it's something that I'm going to try to implement. Daily rest (devotional time), weekly rest (Sabbath), monthly rest (day of reflection), and even annual rest (retreat from the world).

Please pray that my pursuit of God is and stays more important than anything else I do here in Louisville.

P.S. Wouldn't this be an awesome place to rest?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


my prayer life used to be pretty nonexistent. partially because i guess i didn't really believe that things could change. partially because i didn't know the peace and joy God would grant through prayer. partially because my heart wasn't on the things that rest on God's heart.

but as the Lord has been moving in me the past couple months, i'm ashamed to see how much time i wasted that could have been spent on my knees interceding for the things of God, pleading with Him to move and do His will. i know that God choosing to move and work according to His perfect will while also listening to the prayers of His people doesn't make sense in my limited human logic.

but i know, without a doubt, that He does listen. and with a knowing, compassionate, and loving heart.

as i have been striving to work more for God's kingdom, i'm humbled as i continually realize how little power i have to change the people and situations around me. i've known it in my head for a long time, but it's very different when i see it with my heart. and that drives me even more to my knees.

so if you could join me for a moment to lift up a prayer that's heavy on my heart: more than anything, I'm praying that Jesus reveals Himself to my brothers. let's go before the Lord on our knees.

Monday, February 20, 2012

season of lent

In my most memorable season of Lent, I gave up playing the universal computer game called Minesweeper. There was a time in high school when I played it ALL THE TIME. I was so into it that I'd play late into the night and then start my homework. That year I often went to school with only a few hours of sleep each night. Eventually I started thinking about that game everywhere I went. I saw it in my head, I thought about it every free moment I had. Lame, I know. It's not a very exciting game, but once I understood the strategy and mouse tricks to get faster, I just kept wanting to cut down my record time. I'm proud (and also slightly embarrassed) to say that I beat the expert level in Minesweeper in 88 seconds. Thankfully, choosing to give up Minesweeper for Lent broke my obsession with the game.

If you haven't realized it yet, this week marks the beginning of the season of Lent. I'm sure most people, if not all, know about this season that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. And during that forty-day period, someone usually asks me if I have chosen to give up anything.

My mindset regarding this season was always that I was supposed to give up something that had or was becoming an idol for me. Either it took up too much of my focus, time, and energy, or I thought it hindered me in serving God faithfully and wholeheartedly.

But I haven't had much success regarding Lent in most years (although with that statement you wonder what it means to have a "successful" Lenten season). Then a couple years ago I started wondering if maybe I was seeing this whole thing with the wrong perspective.

Yes, living for Christ means that I must deny myself certain things that are displeasing to God. It also means cutting back on things that may not in themselves be sinful, but become more important than God in my life.

But I started realizing that thinking only in this way was taking away from the purpose of the season (in my opinion, anyway). The main purpose of the Christian life isn't to follow God grudgingly, as if it's a chore, making Him out to be someone who takes the fun out of life. But the first question-and-answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
If you look at the question, it distinctly says "end," not "ends." I'm starting to realize that in striving to live for Christ, the biggest part of that is that I am supposed to enjoy God, not to force myself to be a good person as if that alone makes me a Christian (good or not). As the catechism shows, my enjoyment of God is directly tied into glorifying Him. If I not enjoying Him, I'm not really glorifying Him fully either.

So my "resolution" for the Lent season this year isn't something that I need to take away from my life (which of course is also a necessity), but to put more of God into it, that I may enjoy Him all the more. Not sure how to make it a practical action, but I'll be thinking and praying about it until Wednesday. Feel free to add in your suggestions.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

he's changing me

It's amazing what God has been doing in my life the past couple months.

I have called myself a Christian for years. I was born in the church (not literally) and believed that Jesus died for my sins. Although at the age of 5, how could I have really known what that meant when I didn't fully understand the depth of my sin? I finally saw Jesus as something more than a distant deity at the age of 14 at a summer retreat and subsequently spent the rest of my high school years serving as a leader in youth group. But did I do that because I loved Jesus, or more because I so desperately needed to belong to something, to be someone?

There have been a few points in my life where I really did consider walking away. And the thought always terrified me. What meaning could my life possibly have if it wasn't already defined for me? Make my own meaning? It seemed bleak when I had grown up believing that I had a purpose beyond myself designed by a perfect God. More significantly, I was afraid to determine my own path. I'm not perfect: what a burden it would be for me to determine my own purpose for my life. As an imperfect being, what if I failed? What if my purpose was flawed as I was? That would mean I failed at life. God was my safety net, to reassure me that no matter what I did or didn't do, I'd be fine.

Just to note: I'm saying all this in the knowledge that comes through hindsight. At those times when I considered walking away, the thought of rejecting God filled me with inexplicable fear. I didn't question it, I didn't understand it, but it caused my heart to tremble.

And so because of my fear to step away from what I knew and was comfortable with, I stayed. Unfortunately, I did not grow very much spiritually despite what I had experienced in high school and part of college. Some moments of clarity, blessing, and assurance; many seasons of spiritual drought. And I often convinced myself that I was a mature Christian because of my devotion to church, and because of my adherence to the obvious list of things I should or should not do.

But praise God that He works in me anyway and brings about a change that is not due to my own actions. I have never felt such a desire to know Him, to soak up His word, to fill my heart and my mind with the knowledge of Him. And I see that even though I didn't feel like I grew much in the last few years, I now know that He has been slowly but surely molding me to be like Christ even through my failures.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." [Hebrews 12:2, emphasis mine]

In this article on StuffChristiansLike, the author writes, "The actions that blossom from my relationship with God are completely different from the actions that start in my own desire to fix something." And I have seen that come true in the last two months. Not only has God been changing my heart and mind, he really is challenging and enabling me to follow through and act on the things He's pressing on my heart. And it's definitely not because of my principles telling me I have to or I should, but my soul saying that I want to, because I love Him.

Thank you, Lord. I have moments of fear here and there when I don't want to carry out your will because it might set me against the mainstream, or because I lose sight of my identity in You, but it's not my strength and ability that accomplishes Your work, it's You. Help me to surrender to all that You have willed for me. I know that even in my most difficult moments, I will find joy and peace in knowing and loving You.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

in need of a savior

Unless you understand the depravity that is in humankind, in each human soul including your own, you will never understand your need for a savior.

It's easy to look at those who don't follow Jesus and apply that judgment onto them, or even to the "not-so-great Christians" that I see in the world. But so often I need to pray that God opens my eyes to see my own sins, to show me that I am also in that category of humankind instead of placing myself at a station above them.

Because when I am desensitized to my own brokenness and the fact that no matter what I do, I always fall short, I feel like I don't need God. Or I tell myself that I do, but I don't really understand what that means.

But when I am broken before the Lord and I'm aware of the ugliness that's in my soul, I can't help but be amazed and grateful for what He did: that He came and saved us while we were still sinners.

Someone might be willing to die for a good man. But no one wants to die for a wicked man. Crazy thing is, that's exactly what Christ did. [Romans 5:6-8] Unless I can see that I deserve hell just as much as that person who murders, steals, and destroys, I'll never begin to grasp how incredible and unbelievable it was that a Holy and Perfect God would die for someone so unworthy like me.

Lord, I'm praying that you help me to see who I am compared to you: "that [I am] more wicked than [I] ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than [I] ever dared hope." [Timothy Keller]

On a last note: If I can see that I am no better than anyone around me (because in the light of God's Holiness, we are all hopeless and stained by sin), my attitude toward all people will change. I am no better than anyone, only more aware (God's doing, not my own) of the grace that is poured out on us.

Here's my favorite song; it often reminds me of the truth:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Been lost, and now I am found.

It's been so wonderful how much God has been speaking to me the past few weeks. I didn't let a lot of people know, but I struggled really hard the last couple months I was in Kentucky.

Scratch that, I didn't even struggle. I simply gave up.

And I couldn't see how to come back to knowing and loving Jesus. And a very large part of me didn't even want to.

But thank the Lord that He never gives up on me. Took a couple weeks of reflection, sitting in the presence of God and His Word, and resting in the presence of people who love Jesus, to remind me of what I had been missing out on.

Been reminded of so many things, been challenged in so many ways. Most of all, I've realized that my walk with Christ has been sitting on Sunday School knowledge and youth group emotional comfort.

So Lord, I'm praying that day by day you continue to reveal Yourself to me that I may know You and fall in love with You more. Not simply through YouTube videos and well-written articles from other people found online, but through Your Word that reveals Your heart.

And to all my brothers and sisters in Christ on Facebook: Thank you so much for all that you post. You may not realize it, but through Facebook sometimes, I see that the church of Christ extends much farther than I realize. Those articles, YouTube videos, blog posts, and especially the Word of the Lord that you guys share have been feeding my soul on a regular basis.