Third, [the fight for joy] is a good fight because it is not a struggle to carry a burden, but a struggle to let a burden be carried for us. The life of joy in God is not a burdened life. It is an unburdened life. The fight for joy is the struggle to trust God with the burdens of life. It’s a fight for freedom from worry. It’s a fight for hope and peace and joy, which are all threatened by unbelief and doubt about God’s promises. And since freedom and hope and joy are good, the fight to preserve them is a good fight.
God loves me too much to let me stay the same. God loves me too much to let even a hint of sin remain in me. God loves me so much that He wants to remove every drop of sin standing in the way between Him and me. God loves me so much that He will help me.
Sometimes I feel so helpless to my sin. I look inward and the stubbornness I see there feels impossible to change.
And it is.
It is impossible to change what’s in my heart without the empowering of the Holy Spirit. THE Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the grave.
What an endless, ENORMOUS source of power we have access to! Yet here I am, living as if Jesus is still in the grave and that God does not have the power to save. Oh yes, I believe Him for salvation, but I feel helpless on this earth. Helpless to continue on in old patterns, old ways of thinking and feeling toward persons and situations.
But that makes no sense!! If I believe in God for salvation, a gargantuan feat (seriously… think about it, the salvation of the entire world has been accomplished by God through Jesus!!!), then why can’t I believe in Him for the small, everyday here and now type things?
Studying Joshua, Ruth, and now Samuel/Saul/David has been SO good this year. (Thanks, BSF!)
We often think of these people and these stories at a high level. Of course God helped Israel conquer Jericho! Of course He gave them victory after victory after that in the Promised Land! Of course God hooked Ruth up with the oh-so-quality Boaz! Of course, of course, of course because we’ve seen the big picture, we know what happens in the end.
But when you get down and dirty and into the micro-level details, what you see are real people facing impossible situations.
You see Joshua staring up at the mighty walls of Jericho, battle plans in hand– march your troops around and around the city… wait, that’s the battle plan?? You see Ruth, leaving her homeland, entering Israel as not just a widow, but a foreigner, tying her already dire fate to Naomi, a woman who felt her own fate was so dire she said God was against her and renamed herself “bitter.”
Real people, impossible situations. Yet, they pressed on. Why? Because they knew God and against all odds, they clung to His character and the promises He had given them.
And now here’s me. Looking up at my Goliaths, at my impossible situations. From the sin in my own heart to wondering if certain dreams will ever come to fruition to longing for spiritual children to grow in certain ways or to return to faith… circumstances would tell me these situations are impossible. Give up, give in, walk away, lose faith. But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the God of Joshua, of Ruth, of David, He’s the same God that I serve today.
God is a creator. He is an author. And He is writing a big, grand story whose details I can’t always quite see yet.
And the nice thing is, though I might not know all the tiny details or even the ends of my micro-stories, I do know the end of God’s biggest, grandest story. It ends in victory. It ends with God coming through. It ends with Him saving His people. It ends with the whole world knowing how good, how amazing, how wonderful, how powerful, how worthy He is. It ends with my liberation. It ends with Him putting an end to all my earthly struggles and ushering me into eternity in His DIRECT presence. In the end, all this is worth it. There is only rejoicing and gladness that He somehow chose us and chose the costly suffering and pain of the cross to save and show His lovingkindness to us.
As my dear husband wisely advised not too long ago, when we begin to feel burdened and discouraged by ministry or just by living life, the remedy is to dwell on the cross. When we dwell on the cross, the misery Jesus took on Himself, the misery He took us out of, the tremendous power and majesty of God displayed… everything is put into perspective.
So tonight, I am thankful. I may be discouraged in certain ways, but when I look to Jesus, the Gospel, what He has done, I can’t help but be encouraged to press on. To keep contending. To keep fighting. To keep loving. To live a life worthy of Christ’s sufferings. To live life with Heaven in mind.
God, by Your grace, give it to me, give me endurance. I choose to lean in to all You have for me, for I love Your presence and I know that You are worth it!!!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
The world we live in grows more and more hostile toward the things of God. Let us ask for wisdom. Let us ask for resolve to stand strong and not compromise and not be blown about by the reasoning of the world. To stand on anything/anyone other than Christ is to stand on shifting stand. I know I am prone to wander, prone to be swayed, prone to give in to peer pressure and fear of man, yet the verse above talks about faith. Ask for wisdom in faith that God will give it. So in faith I say that God will make me wise. In faith I say that on His solid foundation, His solid rock I will stand. In faith I say that I welcome persecution, I welcome misunderstanding, I welcome the assumptions of others when I make decisions or stand for things based on reasoning and principles they do not understand.
Yes, the world and its values are walking further and further away from God and I can feel it. I see it around me. I feel the tug to give in and doubt and compromise in the flesh part of my heart. So in faith, I call out “Lord, I lack wisdom! I need Your wisdom. I need Your mind. I need Your heart.” And in faith, I know He will answer me.
We’re in the homestretch! Ish. Or so I like to think haha.
Tonight will also be our 3rd Lamaze class, so after its completion, we should be 3/4 ready for childbirth. Woohoo!
How am I feeling?
I honestly think last week may have been one of the toughest weeks of pregnancy with my acid reflux problems. I don’t know if I have been more miserable than I was last Wednesday and Thursday. But praise God, the reflux issues started dying down Thursday night and I honestly felt pretty great the whole weekend! I keep telling Kenny I will NEVER complain ever again about GERD/acid reflux once the baby’s out haha. What I had before was NOTHING compared to pregnancy reflux.
Other than that I’ve been feeling pretty darn good! I haven’t been waking up nearly as much and I realized too that I haven’t had leg cramps at night in ages. Thankful for sleep and trying to cash in as much as possible pre-baby.
I am also super excited to be ending work soon! Next Friday will be my last day and I can’t wait. So honestly, most of the time I feel like I could definitely work several more weeks and financially it might make more sense, but then I’ll make a bunch of dumb mistakes or forget what I’m doing or become overwhelmed by things that aren’t that overwhelming at all… and then I’m grateful that I can take a bit of time off and I think it really will be better for work this way. (Plus our nursery is still a mess so that will be my pre-baby project!) I talked about it with my boss during my review, but I just don’t feel like I handle stress very well anymore. I used to love fires and crave the variety, but since being pregnant, I get flustered much more easily and can’t deal with the crazy anymore. I’ve even noticed that lately I can’t handle the stress of being late (which is actually probably a good thing haha). In Steph’s words from when she visited last weekend, “Who are you!?!?”
Lastly, of course, I am very excited for the baby. I can’t wait to meet our little miss! I keep wondering who she’s going to look like, what her personality will be, where her interests will lie. This weekend when we visited All People’s Church in SD (it was BOMB btw), I noticed that the drummer was female and I added “worship team drummer” to the list of aspirations I have for our little one haha. Other aspirations include evangelist, prayer warrior, and of course, due to Daddy, baller. (We said hopefully she’ll get his offense and my defense. Oh and same goes for academics: my English, his math!)
Spent the weekend in SD for Annie & Emerson’s wedding, VDay, and our Babymoon!
The wedding was fun and it was so neat to see the Kairos building and how far the church has come. Spent a lot of time catching up with old friends and reliving the college days. As much as I loved college, it’s funny to realize now that I really would never go back. Definitely one of my favorite times in life, but maybe, just maybe, as Steph keeps asserting that really wasn’t the peak of my life and things really are going to continue getting better ;)
On Sunday, we visited All People’s Church. It was an awesome time of refreshing through the amazing worship and Word. The pastor talked about what it looks like when the Spirit moves in the church and it definitely made us think about what it means to be a part of a Spirit-filled community.
After service, we hit up Lolita’s in Gaslamp and I got my pollo fries fix and you bet I was thankful that my AR had died down! Found some acai bowls for dessert and the kind worker gave us two bowls probably after seeing my preggo belly!
Took a nice long nap, then K got to watch the first part of Kobe’s last All-Star game. So yes, a big part of our Babymoon was watching TV and sleeping, but I figured hey, it’s Kenny’s Babymoon too and it would not be a true Kenny weekend if it didn’t include those two things!
For VDay dinner, we walked to Ocean Pacific Grille and had private patio seating (yay for late reservations!) which was actually quite lovely and then we roamed around the Gaslamp a bit more looking for dessert (ended up being gelato and crepes!).
We were both proud of ourselves for doing so much walking and said one way to make the Yee’s walk is by the prospect of having to pay for parking and appealing to our Chinese-ness!
Monday morning we both were in and out of sleep through 11:30 (I love it!!) and we ended the weekend with a hefty Broken Yolk brunch. I had an omelet and pancake… both the size of my face.
So thankful to spend a relaxing weekend with the husband. I am so grateful to have him as a companion and truly can’t imagine doing life with anyone else. He is kind, thoughtful, passionate, and a joy to be around. I appreciate that we can have deep conversations about the things we care about (Jesus, etc.), but that we also spend so much time having fun/joking around/laughing. Marriage is an incredible blessing. And though I know it will at times be tough and we don’t know the future will bring, I feel secure knowing that my husband is a man who pursues the Lord in all he does, and that ultimately God holds whatever is ahead for our family.
What is God saying?
I feel like God is saying, “trust me.” That’s it. “Trust me.”
Reading Revelation this past year really has been no joke and it’s truly been tough to comprehend and read. Reading has stirred up the age old question of how could a loving God punish people? How do we reconcile the God of judgment with the God of grace and love?
It truly is difficult and I’ve been realizing more and more how essential it is to have faith. Though we can find answers to some of our questions, there will never be answers to all of them, and therefore, it is essential if we are to remain believers to have faith. Not sure if it’s true or not, but at least at this point in my life, I feel like there will always be some room for doubt, so faith is choosing to take the leap and believe.
In faith, I choose to trust God even when I don’t understand completely. In faith, I choose to take Him at His Word when He says He does not wish for any to perish. In faith, I choose that even when it seems unfair to me, sin truly does need to be punished and that God allows people to eventually have what they truly desire if they choose to reject Him: an eternity without Him.
It still seems unfair. It still is hard to believe. But what Duhee said last night in lecture did help. He said the only person who has the right to call God unfair is Jesus. And what did He say when faced with the greatest injustice of all time? “Not my will, but Yours be done.” And He unjustly took the full cup of wrath on the cross so that we who believe could be spared the very same thing.
God does love people. He does show extravagant grace. He does wish that all would be saved. But as with many things in our faith, salvation must be done on His terms. His way is most holy and His way is most loving. Sin must be punished. Evil must be dealt with.
Another thing that helped me is when Duhee said hell was created for Satan and his demons. Hell was not created for people. People were created to be with God and in His presence. Yet, in our sin, we chose a different way. And God still lets people choose a different way. He allows us to choose a life without Him and eventually an eternity of the same. And if we do not choose eternity with Him, then the alternative is an eternity separate from Him, which is hell.
So again, it’s not easy to comprehend, and it’s not easy to imagine, but the God of judgment and the God of love are one in the same. God’s characteristics do not contradict each other, instead they somehow go together in a way that is too difficult and perhaps even too wonderful for me to comprehend.
At this point, though I’ll continue to study and seek understanding, I think there still is something to just having faith in the end. It seems so textbook, simple, elementary, a cop-out even. But I’m led again to the place of realizing that faith is so necessary, so essential. So here I am, choosing to have faith in Him.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The call of Christ is not “come and be happy,” “come and be comfortable,” “come and live like the world with the underwriter of salvation.”
No, the call of Christ is “come and die.” Lose your life. Crucify the flesh. Come and die.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
I don’t get to stay the same. I don’t get to live like the world. I don’t get to do whatever I want, whatever makes me comfortable and happy. I don’t get to have my way. If I choose to follow Christ, I choose to forsake these things for His sake.
And what is the promise?
The promise is that I’ll never regret it. At the end of the age, when I see Him face to face, I will never regret choosing to follow Him. I will never regret acts of obedience big and small. And I’ll find joy. True joy. Not the fleeting, in the moment happiness. But deep-seeded peace and joy, not only in the life to come, but also in this life.
Do I believe it? Yes and no. Do I believe He’s worth it? Yes and no.
But I guess this is where being a Christian takes faith. Christianity is not only about faith to believe in Christ initially, but then also about faith to believe in all the other things He says.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Jesus, help me to die to myself. Help me to not be selfish. Help me to choose life. And give me faith. More faith to believe in and live out all the things You say.
Give me faith
To trust what You say
That You’re good
And Your love is great
I may be weak
Your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God You never will
This song has been speaking to me so much over the past week. I am so limited in my obedience and faith. Yet, I take heart in the work of the Holy Spirit and in God’s grace.
How blessed am I that He allows someone like me to partner with Him in all the wonderful and amazing things that He is doing? And in all the difficult and trying things that are still waiting to be redeemed?
Trusting Him in all things: the good and the bad, the praises and the difficulties. Believing in Him for myself, for friends, and for family.