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.