Redemption

Redemption

This is the secret that we have to have in our hearts when we reach out to people. We must love them as if they are worthy, even when they are the opposite when we meet them.

When Jesus was on the earth in His ministry preaching, He treated everyone around Himself as if they were worthy of the Father building mansions in heaven for. These were unbelieving crowds of people but He gave them full entitlement because He was calling them past where they were at. He was calling them to be the full, real version that they were created to be and promising them the greatness that comes along with that.

We are called to do the same, to see humanity around us as if it can be redeemed into the full picture of redemption: to be in fullness for God.

Pray for someone close to you who doesn’t know Jesus yet. Pray and get a picture of what they would look like in fullness as though they won the race as a sold-out Christian… Don’t let yourself see their weakness or sin for these moments of prayer but celebrate who they are supposed to be in Christ. Now, think about how this can reshape the way you treat them. Is anything different?

-Shawn Bolz for The Call’s 100 Days of Revival for 100 Years of Promise Devotional

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I’m Better Than You (Or so I think…)

I’m Better Than You (Tim Challies)

Recommended reading alert (and don’t worry– it’s short… quite unlike this blog post!)

So much of this post resonated with me, which is a good but also not good thing.

This sounds all too much like me if I dig down deep into my flesh/heart:

But lately I’ve been considering one simple and disturbing aspect of this sin: I’m better than you. At least, this is what I believe in most of life’s situations. I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true.

When you lead your ministry, I have trouble following because I see all the things you are doing wrong, all the ignorant decisions you are making.

When you are given a privilege or responsibility, something that puts you in a position of trust or authority, I am certain that the privilege should have gone to me.

I can see this sooo clearly in me and especially at work lately. At work, I have this air of superiority toward a certain person and I think it is unhealthily spurned on by others having the same air of superiority toward him therefore “justifying” my beliefs. And I know it’s not right, but I feel like I can’t fight it and truth is deep down I still do believe I am better/smarter/could handle things better or more efficiently.

So the blog seems to raise more questions than answers for me: What do we do with those feelings? What is the right response? And what if sometimes we are possibly right maybe not in the attitude in general, but about specificities and really do see how things can improve?

What is our/my response?

Do we fault-find and gossip and point out to others all the mistakes that are being made? Do we air our complaints to everyone but the person we are judging? Do we resent and look down on the other person in our hearts, considering how we are so much better? Do we treat the other person with contempt and pride when they try to give us instructions, not being open to their ideas or corrections, the possibility that hey I just might be in error too about in certain things?

So I know those are all the things I’m NOT supposed to do… and unfortunately all the things I usually do. So how should I respond? And to make it concrete I’m thinking narrowly about this work situation.

I think I’m called first off to pray. No, not even for the other person yet, but for my own heart toward this person. How does God see him? How does God see his ministry? As much as there are inefficiencies and yes even possibly sin issues too or at least places where he can grow, I really do think God is pleased. God is pleased with this brother and with his heart for the Lord, the population we serve, and our ministry. Does he fall short? Yes. But don’t I fall short too? Maybe not in the same exact ways, but in so many others?

Yes, I’m convinced, that when God looks at my brother, He is pleased.

So how should I see this person if God sees him this way? And if I am to correct him or point out his shortcomings to him, can I do it in love, with love for who he is, with a desire to really see good come to him? If God loves him, so should I love him. Because he is God’s creation, His chosen. Because I should be able to relate to him in the sense that I am just as lacking and fall just as short, maybe not in the same ways as him, but in other ways. I am just as offensive in my transgressions, if not MORE.

And that’s why I need to pray for my heart toward him. That God would show me His love for this brother and by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, give me His love for him. And that God would humble me. That He would help me to lay down my pride, my judging, my feelings of being better than this person. That He would help me have a clear view of myself in light of Him… not him.

Secondly, I’m to pray for my brother. Pastor Kyle always says,

Which do you do more: talk to man about God, or to God about man?

As much as I think I’m so smart/know exactly what to do, doesn’t God know even more? My words and corrections really have so little power. Only He can truly change, and bring conviction/life.

Do I pray for this brother? Do I ask for God’s blessing and grace and favor on him? Do I ask God to help him grow in the areas where he is weak? Quite honestly, only when Ms. A forces me to haha.

And so that’s part of the problem too and it really stems from the issues listed above: that my heart is not in the right place and remains in a state of pride and that I do not truly love.

Lastly, after these two things, only then, with love and discernment should I consider correcting him and talking to him directly.

Too often we tell others all the ways someone else needs to change, but we don’t actually tell the other person. And when it’s suggested that we do, we backtrack saying “oh no, it’s not a big deal, it’s fine, I’ll get over it.”

I still remember Jess Sato sharing with us that Pastor Jason rebuked her for that attitude and said something like “No, if it really is a sin issue, then you really should lovingly correct them.”

Now the keys are 1) correct them LOVINGLY (thus the need again for prayer) and 2) correct THEM. Don’t tell other people. Tell THEM.

I think I already mentioned this in another post, but as I ranted to Kenny about work a little while ago, I felt so convicted after. I justified my rant by saying well he’s my husband so I should be able to tell him anything I’m feeling and he’s a strong believer, he won’t be swayed by my complaining.

But God convicted me so deeply in my heart, in a way I’ve never been convicted about my words before, that we sow from what we speak. My words of complaint and fault-finding and arrogance had spiritual implications and were sowing spiritual things.

Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I want my words to sow and reap life, therefore I need to be so careful about what I speak. I need to be careful about the things I say to others, and if I am to correct someone it needs to be done in all love and humility.

Anyway, this has turned into a tremendously long blog, which will hopefully bring more conviction to me specifically at work and generally.

Challies ends his blog by talking about why it matters to think about these things:

This makes us useless counselors. We are useless counselors unless we can counsel from Scripture and toward holiness rather than from our own arrogance and toward conformity to us. This makes us miserable because we are always convinced life would be easier and better if only others were more like us. This lessens our usefulness to God and his kingdom because we spend so much of our time lamenting all the things others are doing wrong rather than joining them in doing things their way. This increases our sin and hinders our holiness.

The Problem of & Solution for Sin

The Problem of & Solution for Sin

Why is sin so bad?

Sin directly opposes what God is doing and engages our heart with the enemy. God is holy– holy, holy, holy. If any good and righteousness in us comes from Him, then He cannot engage with us when we are steeped in choosing sin.

So what is the solution?

The solution is miraculously simple!! The solution is simply to surrender, turn to the King, depend on Him for holiness.

The solution isn’t do better, try harder, not by our own effort.

The solution is simple: take a posture of repentance and surrender. Surrender is easy! In a battle, the easiest choice is to surrender. The solution to sin is simple: simply confess and surrender.

We are not saved by the flesh and cannot be perfected by it– what was begun by the Spirit cannot be continued by the flesh. So surrender! Give into God’s mercy and grace! Boast in your weaknesses. Take on a posture of humility and dependence. Depend on God to give you His holiness.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Galatians 3:3

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

James 5:16

Response

I want to despise sin as much as You do, Lord God! For it is sin that keeps me from experiencing more of You, from loving You, from loving others as You do. Sin keeps me from You and renders me useless for Your Kingdom and Your purposes. Give me a desire for holiness, give me a desire for You.

I want to crave holiness. So search my heart and see if there is any way not of You in me. I give You permission to call me out and rid me of my sin. I do away with the excuses I conjure up to explain and justify and dismiss my sin. I do away with excuses of brokenness (other people have sinned against me and hurt me, therefore I can act out of brokenness and not forgive, have a hard heart toward them, and justify many other types of sin), personality (I’m just not wired that way, that’s not my gifting, I’m just better at other stuff, therefore I can sin in a certain way because it’s just a part of who I am), legalism (I just want to focus on grace, it’s so legalistic to ask for such fervency and holiness, I’m walking in grace and hey I’m trying so it’s okay for me to still choose sin).

I do away with my excuses, Lord! Call me out. Purify me. Rid me of my sin.

Lastly, I will end with some quotes from Leonard Ravenhill from his book “Why Revival Tarries” (an excellent readbtw, let me know if you’d like to join Kenny and me in reading and Book Club it!):

“…but to be much for God, we must be much with God.”

“A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. ”

“The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.”

“Unless we are desperate to get into real victory, we are so easy on ourselves and so hard on others… Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, spotted, stinking Self in us. Let it be torn from us and “crucified with Him, (so) that henceforth we no longer serve sin” (Romans 6:6).”

Week 22 + Practice of the Presence of God

Week 22 + Practice of the Presence of God

Where has November gone!? Totally missed making a week 21 post and barely squeezing in this week 22 as today’s the last week 22 day!

How do I feel?

Sooo much better in general! No more nausea! Finally!! Still tired, but not as much as before.

It’s mind boggling that we are more than halfway there! Been feeling a wee bit overwhelmed because it seems like we’ve barely done anything to prep for the baby. I was looking at Baby Registry sites and it hit me that I know SO LITTLE about babies! Making the Wedding Registry was fun because we both had an idea about things we wanted for our first place together (what were necessities, what were nice to haves, and what were our pie in the sky items [ex. Vitamix!! which we did not get haha]), however with the Baby Registry I truly have NO IDEA what it takes to raise a little one. Eek!

In addition, there’s been a few moments here and there when I start worrying again about the baby. I used to think that when I could feel her I’d have less anxiety because I’d get a little kick now and then that lets me know she’s still there. But now that I feel her every day, I worry during the times when she’s not moving. Is she still okay?? The doctor said around week 28 I should be able to feel movement more consistently and we can start kick counting then, but all this anxiety made me think once again that there will always be things to worry about, and really I need to practice EVEN NOW putting everything regarding my baby into God’s hands.

Overall though, the moments of anxiety are few and mostly I’ve just been very happy. SO happy. Especially with Kenny haha. I’ve been feeling so grateful for him and I’ve been trying to enjoy this last season of just us for a LONG time (Lord willing!) as much as I possibly can. Also we recently heard some exciting news… can’t share yet, but so thankful for the community we’re sharing life with!

What’s God saying?

The one area I feel like I’ve been preparing fairly well in though is my walk with God. I feel like knowing our little baby is coming has made me focus on getting in shape spiritually. Like I better start building up my walk NOW before life takes on such a major change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live a lifestyle of worship and to practice the presence of God (shout out to the Kairos days when we studied Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God… even if I was super irresponsible and didn’t read all of it! Side note… when I told Kenny this he was like “that’s pretty bad. You’re never going to find a Christian book shorter that that one.” Sigh. My irresponsible college days!!).

What would it look like use every single part of my day as worship to God? What would it look like to spend every single moment in communion with Him? How much more joy, freedom, and peace would I have if I truly spent every moment communing with Him?

Short tidbit about Brother Lawrence… based on what people told me haha (though seriously, just read his book– it’s not that long and I just might do the same over the holidays): Brother Lawrence was a cook in a monastery. Now I don’t know much about monastery hierarchies, but I’m guessing this means he wasn’t at all a big shot, just a humble cook. Of course he was a monk, so that’s gotta be saying something, but I’m not picturing him as the spiritual all-star of the monastery.

Basically, Brother Lawrence’s whole deal was that he strove to spend all of his time focusing on God and communing with Him throughout the day. As he grew in this practice, he came to the point where set aside times of prayer were unnecessary to him because he communed with God just as much during those set apart prayer times as he did when he was preparing the food or washing the dishes.

This is what I want in my life. So what if I’ve now (by God’s grace) been able to set apart consistent devo times at night? Big hoot. That’s such a TINY amount of time. It’s not enough!!!

I’m also blessed to witness this in part in Ms. A’s Christian life. What comes to mind is a funny memory (and a telling one!), but one time Ms. A told our Program Manager she’d shred all of his confidential documents. We’re talking BAGS of confidential papers that he had been stashing. As she sat in my office with the shredder, she started praying aloud as she was shredding. “Jesus, make our lives like this basket– overflowing with blessings!” as she emptied the shred basket out. She even prayed for the machine when it overheated and stopped working haha.

Another example that comes to mind is a friend who was telling Kenny how to improve his coffee. As He extolled the Hario Coffee Grinder (he said it would make Kenny’s french press 4x better lol), he also shared with us about a friend who wrote a liturgy to recite every morning as he made his coffee. (Ex. “I crush these beans as Your body was broken and crushed for me.”) Again, comical, but this is the kind of communion and constancy I want to have in my life!!!

Lord, give me a greater desire for Your presence. I want to live life aware of and in constant communion with You. I want my whole life to be a life of worship to You. So help me, Lord. For I cannot press into Your presence on my own, and my flesh will fight it as much as I want it. Give me more of You in my life.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1

Week 18

Week 18

Last day of week 18!

How do I feel?

Like #&$#&*. Haha. For some reason my nausea’s been back lately and for some reason I’ve been sooooo tired. I think I’m not sleeping as well anymore as of late.

Funny thing is my co-worker asked me how I feel this morning and I told him I’ve been super tired. He just laughs maniacally and says, “Welcome to the next 18 years of your life.” #dadadvice

What’s God saying?

So the other night, I’m trying to go to sleep, but the Lord wouldn’t leave me alone haha. He kept me up to the point where I had to email my husband my convictions at 1:30am at night.

Basically, I felt like the Lord was challenging me and asking why Kenny and I hold back nowadays from taking initiative when it comes to prayer.

Now the answer to that question is pretty involved and some of the reasons do have some weight to them, but overall I felt convicted that we are squandering the passions and experiences God has given us for reasons that are really not so great.

God wants us to share our passions and experiences with others and not be held back by fear. He wants us to build houses of prayer, starting with our very own home and family.

Anyway I feel like I’m not writing very eloquently, but this is what God has been saying and for accountability’s sake I want to record it here.

And really I do miss going hard after the Lord in prayer. Some of the sweetest times I’ve had in chasing after God with Kenny were in the Evergreen House of Prayer back when it was just the 4 of us going hard week after week. We fasted, we prayed, we worshipped, we fell asleep (or I definitely did!), we felt discouraged, we were attacked, we saw clear victories, we saw clear setbacks, we spurred one another on, we grew in our giftings, and most of all we pressed into the Lord and learned to go after Him hard.

I miss all of that. Yes, it was a struggle at times and it took endurance and discipline, but if the struggle is for more of Jesus, then yes, I want that in my life.

So we’re starting out small, with tiny steps of obedience in the right direction. We want to spend more time together in prayer. We want to be faithful in building our own house into a house of prayer before trying to build more houses with others. And we also want to share with our community. We want them to know Jesus in the ways you get to know Him through the intimacy of prayer.

Lofty goals, I know. But if God wills it, He can do it!! We’re just vessels for His ministry.

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Card from Mr. Kenneth Yee himself given toward the start of our relationship in 2011. :) <3 God is faithful!

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6