“Each instant of present labor is to be graciously repaid with a million ages of glory.”
J. W. Alexander
“Each instant of present labor is to be graciously repaid with a million ages of glory.”
J. W. Alexander
God loves me too much to let me stay the same.
-Pastor Jason (from oh so long ago…)
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!!!
I never blog anymore. Blame it on the #momlife.
So I feel like, by the grace of God, I’ve been growing a lot lately.
It’s truly all God’s grace. I haven’t even been in the Word much lately.
But God is good. God is gracious.
I think I’m growing in my understanding of just how much grace He offers and affords me. That His desire is not to punish or shame. That His tenderness is extended just as much if not more than His wrath and judgment (theologians… is that correct thinking?? Or maybe it’s incorrect to think of these attributes in measurable amounts…).
I still struggle when considering God’s judgment vs. His long-suffering loving-kindness. Sometimes I still feel like His wrath is the “dirty little secret” of Christianity. But I’m understanding more that God MUST judge evil. And for Him to restore the world and humanity to its intended state, He MUST come in wrath. For Him to be good, He MUST hate everything that destroys, everything that separates us from Him. And His heart’s desire and full intent is to restore us completely to Himself for our great pleasure and His great glory. (Can you tell I’ve been listening to a lot of Piper? Lol.)
For the first time in a good while, I stayed in my seat during the closing set of worship. It felt so good to just receive and let the Lord minister to me.
I’ve been feeling stretched, and yes, as much as I hate the phrase due to all the overuse in college, perhaps a little close to burn out. Life is consumed with so much pouring out, so much ministry.
So as I stood at my seat during service, opening my hands to receive, I felt God encouraging me. I felt Him saying that in order to step into greater calling and greater ministry, I had to truly believe this one thing: that He is good and specifically that He is good TO ME.
Often I can feel His love and compassion and tenderness for other people, but I almost never feel it FOR ME. When it comes to God and how I feel He relates to me, often I see Him as a God who is just waiting to drop the axe (is that the expression?) and punish. As if He’s just waiting for me to mess up so He can discipline me. I see His grace as an obligation that comes out of Him being holy, rather than a loving expression He chooses because of the fact that He is so gracious and so kind that He loves me.
Every week during accountability, we answer this question: are you experiencing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness? And every week, my answer is somewhat. I don’t think there’s been a single week when I’ve answered yes.
Do I truly believe God is gracious to me? Do I truly believe He is for me?
If I examine my life, I can see so many small and large evidences of grace. All these times when I should have been shamed/revealed/disciplined, but God encountered me in tenderness and not wrath.
It reminds me of this article I read by Henry Cloud (it’s great, take a look!): Why You Shouldn’t Give Others What They Deserve
Not giving others what they deserve is a big part of not playing fair. To give them better than they deserve is grace. The word means “unmerited favor.” Sometimes, it means that we give someone loving limits and consequences if other things have not worked. But often, limits are not needed; only a little softness is.
God is so gracious to me. He is long-suffering. He is kind. I don’t always feel it. But faith isn’t always about feeling. It’s about believing. It’s about knowing. (As my dear husband in recapping Todd White, his fave, recently reminded me.) I must BELIEVE God is good and that He is good to me.
When we know and believe God’s character, when we behold Him and adore Him and see just how worthy He is, then we will have fuel and passion and drive in our ministry. When we truly treasure the One we are worshipping, then our worship is not a chore, it’s a delight, it’s a pleasure. Pointing others to Him is no longer a task, but a privilege, a joy, it’s something that cannot be contained.
I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorite verses, Isaiah 42:3:
A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice…
My Lord, my God is SO gracious to me. He is so kind, so tender, so loving. I owe Him everything, yet to receive His love He doesn’t even ask for anything (other than choosing to believe)! Even if I didn’t serve Him, He would still love me. Even if I didn’t grow in Him, He would still love me. Even if I spurned His gifts, cast them aside, lived life only for myself, He would still love me. Even if I followed every evil desire of my flesh, He would still love me.
As someone who struggles with self-/works-based righteousness, that is soooo difficult for me to fathom!!!
How could a perfect, holy, all-sufficient God LOVE me, without ever even asking anything of me?
I just cannot fathom it. I cannot fathom this love He has for me. Yet here I am, exercising my faith, choosing to believe it and letting my inability to comprehend His love point me even more to how great, how loving, how immeasurably precious my God is!
What a week it’s been! Definitely started out maternity leave at a very fast pace. It’s been fun, but glad that things have been slowing down the last few days!
Stayed with my parents Friday night through Monday while Kenny was at the Seeds leadership retreat. It was a lot of fun being a “kid” again haha and my amazing parents were so helpful in getting TONS of baby laundry done, overfeeding me, and taking me shopping! Did a lot of shopping walking (the best kind!), so I’ll be proud to report again tomorrow that I exercised more than usual this week!
Monday night I met up with Erika since I ended up canceling Friday. We decided this will be our last dship until June ish after baby Yee is out. Kind of sad, but I’m pretty sure the break is necessary haha and it’ll be nice to pick up again during the summer when everything else dies down schedule-wise.
And on that note, dship has been SUCH a blessing. As I mentioned before (I think), the last time I discipled anyone was almost 6 years ago!! Can’t believe it’s been that long. I think because it didn’t end on the best note and I was discouraged about not seeing as much fruit as I wanted, I had been very resistant to the idea of close-up life-on-life ministry. But God is so faithful and after MONTHS of putting Erika on my heart, He gave me the push I needed and I unexpectedly asked her if she wanted to be discipled. Funny thing is a couple weeks later, Pastor Kyle did a series on dship and it was affirmation for me that this is where God wanted me.
And it’s been such a joy! Sure, a lot of times I am tired especially with the baby, but the time almost always goes by so quickly and I leave so encouraged by God’s help and by Erika’s hunger for Him.
The biggest difference this go ’round? I think in the past 6 years God has taught me soooo much about dependence on Him and not doing things out of my own strength. In the past, I relied so much on myself to do ministry. I relied on my own strength, I relied on what had worked in the past. I relied on my own knowledge and I was prideful because I felt I had done a good job in ministry before. So when things got hard and I didn’t see fruit, I became discouraged and felt bad about myself thinking “where did I go wrong?” and I also got frustrated with the girls. Why weren’t they thankful? Why weren’t they growing? Why didn’t they try harder?
I think all of that has taught me that anything I do in ministry MUST be motivated and powered by Jesus. For one, God has humbled me and I don’t think I’m nearly as great anymore haha. In fact, I’ve come to realize I’m actually pretty terrible at shepherding. In my flesh, I’m selfish, I’m lazy, I’m flaky, I people-please and don’t correct… the list goes on. And secondly, there is NOTHING I can do to change people. Yes, I can point them in the right direction and be faithful to what God gives me to say to them, but true change can only come from Jesus. My only job is to be faithful to love and point them in His direction, then true lasting fruit, true change, can only come from the Holy Spirit working within.
So anyway that’s huge tangent.
Monday after dship I watched Kenny’s bball game. Figured this might be one of the last ones I go to for a while. Must say, I am so proud of my husband. There was a “situation” after the game and I was so proud of the way he handled it. As much as my husband may be a goofball and say ridiculous things, I think God has gifted him with incredible wisdom and discernment and the ability to be very direct with others in a way that’s loving/tactful. God has given him the ability to lead and I think that’s why people are drawn to him and often want to put him in leadership positions. I hope this isn’t bragging because we KNOW this only comes from Jesus and Kenny’s definitely come a long way haha, but just wanted to throw out some affirmation to my husband.
It was also so much fun to be in Mr. Yee’s classroom on Friday. His kids love him SO MUCH and he has such a great rapport with them. His classes are very interactive (on that note, I would’ve DIED being in his class as someone who pretty much never talked in class haha) and lively. Definitely made me realize I could never be a teacher (or at least not teach in the same style as him…) and now I know why he’s so tired at the end of each day and has such a hard time listening to me– we estimated that his name was called AT LEAST 100 times during the day!
Okay, jumping all around. Blame the preggo brain.
Tuesday was also tons of fun! Drove back out to Walnut for a Grandma Shower that my mom’s BSF leaders put on for her. It was so fun to meet them and see them honor my mom who pours out so much of herself into leading BSF every week. And it was a total surprise, which I think is quite a feat! I’m also blown away by how generous people have been with us in getting ready for the baby!! These women who at least I don’t even know showered our baby soooo generously.
Kenny and I talked about it last night. I realized recently that out of all the couples in our married couple group, we probably make the least BY FAR. And I like to think it’s not because we’re incompetent haha, but because of life decisions we have made with the Lord. And as much as we might be the lowest earning couple, there truly has been no lack in our lives by the grace of God. He provided us with an apartment that’s charging far below market value for rent. He’s given us TONS of baby hand-me-downs through church and Kenny’s sister. And He has showered us through our incredibly generous community with tons of new baby things (diapers, wipes for days, clothing, toys, and many other baby items). There truly is no lack. And yes, maybe it’s partially because we have walked in obedience to God following His leading for things like career, but even moreso it’s simply because He is so good and gracious
We talked last night too about sin and how both of us have fallen so short of God’s standard in so many different ways. We, or mostly I, confessed some things to Kenny about my own heart’s darkness that I hadn’t even shared before. And as we shared, I was just blown away by God’s grace. We are so undeserving. We do not deserve a second chance, let alone chances upon chances above that. Yet God, being rich in mercy, has chosen to forgive us and not only forgive us, but bless us beyond measure.
All right, like I said, jumping all over haha. Tuesday I also got to hang with Deb for a tiny bit (hopefully more to come pre-baby!), then closed out the night with BSF.
As for today, the plan is haircut soon, then clean clean clean clean and organize. Our place is a DISASTER. This morning I kid you not my prayer was for God to help me clean up haha. Also, got the labor bag and other things partially ready, but I also want to buy labor-approved snacks (apple sauce, jello, clear broth, plain pasta) as we get ready for the big day. On that note, okay def TMI but whatever I have no shame anymore, I think I saw part of the “mucus plug” this morning haha. Which means labor could be hours… or days… or a week away. But still! I’m excited to meet our baby. Only two more weeks til her due date!!!
How am I feeling?
For being almost full term, I’d say pretty darn good and actually a lot better than some weeks in the past! I just can’t believe we are ~2 weeks away!! And again, as much as I’m thankful to be pregnant, I am also SOOO excited to NOT be anymore. No more waddling! No more being out of breath all the time! No more hip pain (hopefully)! Much less acid reflux! I am so excited that this time in a few weeks there will no longer be a person inside of me hahaha.
And overall I’m just filled with excitement and anticipation. I cannot wait to meet our new little person. I think I’m trying to be fairly realistic too in that I know it’s going to be really hard and will not be all peachy and rosy and there may be times of even despairing, so I’m trying to prepare well spiritually so I can be as close to Jesus as I can heading into the next season.
What is God saying?
So I think I covered a lot above.
Biggest development is what I talked about last update how I think I’m finally able to understand and accept a tiny bit more God’s justice and mercy and how they work in tandem and both are demonstrations of His perfect and holy character.
Going to Evergreen on Sunday was also really good. Pastor Cory talked about repentance and confession and how death is an essential part of Christian living. He talked about how confession and repentance are now lost arts in the church and how as a community we are meant to celebrate both together. The church should be a place of corporate repentance and rejoicing over it, but instead we fail to confess our sins to one another because of pride and shame.
We fail to repent because shame has replaced joy.
We are so ashamed of our sins and of our past that we are paralyzed and unable to confess to one another and sometimes even to confess to God. Instead we want to stay in places of guilt and even feel like that’s what we deserve.
And at other times, we don’t repent simply because it doesn’t cross our mind to. We’re myopic when it comes to our own sin.
Repentance is essential to growth. Something must die before something new rises in its place.
I’ve been thinking about repentance and confession lately and how both are essential because they keep us dependent. They keep us in a state of being aware of how much we sin thus how much we need Him. And in turn, as we become increasingly aware of how much we sin, we grow even more in awe of His love and grace.
I’m reminded of this beautiful Tim Keller quote Duhee uses often at BSF:
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
How amazing, how beautiful it is to live in God’s grace and to be forgiven!
Lord, help me to grow in my confession and repentance and to never take for granted Your extravagant grace. Amen!!
I think a lot of times we neglect our pastors and forget that they are human. And especially in this day and age with easy access to loads of books/sermons/etc., it’s even easier to breed pastoral dissatisfaction.
A less gifted man who knows and loves you is far more potent in your life than a more gifted man far, far away.
Loved that quote.
Let’s strive be people that are a joy to shepherd ultimately to bring joy and glory to our Lord!!
(Thanks to PJason for sharing the article!)
Ministry is who you are, not what you do.