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Disciple, Son, Potential Future Husband – post 1

Those three identities have been on my mind a lot lately so I’ve decided to record my thoughts as things come up.

Here goes.

I’ve never thought being a disciple would be so complex and yet so simple. It’s complex because its Jesus himself leading me through life amidst all of my life and others’ lives that he has placed around me. All the pain, hypocrisy, doubting, sin, glories, joys, disappointments, and frustrations of life are all there – sometimes all together at the same time. Yet, it’s simple because it’s all about Jesus. All of my pain, insights, strength, and even weaknesses – they are all connected to my relationship with him. I’m learning that big part in following Jesus is just letting him lead me as His Spirit leads. Whether it’s conviction of sin, repentance, training, encouragement, nourishment, love, or his presence, all of life He will lead me through. I find it amazingly encouraging that it’s all on him – not on me. My delight & struggle is just to respond to him pursuing (& he always pursues – relentlessly).

After getting saved in college, learning what it means to be a son has just stared at me in the face. It’s where my intellectual theology meets practical reality. It’s where my faith is tested often because my parents know me and I know them. It’s where there is no room for ulterior motive because my parents already love me and see me for who I am and I see them for who they are – there is no one to impress and I am myself(for better or worse). When I share the gospel insights with them, the heart behind my words is exposed. If there are trite or shallow, pithy theological truths – they immediately become unimpressive. It’s a glorious ruin to expose the religion and refining my heart and mind. When I share about the hope of Jesus to my chronically sick mother who is always tired and her mind, body, and soul is taking a beating from overwork and relational emptiness, I feel like pithy, general Christian jargons and wording just blows by her head and doesn’t encourage her soul. When I look at my dad and the shell that he hides in, it hurts real bad. It hurts to know he doesn’t have community to trust (nor is he willing to find and be a part of one). It hurts to know that he’s seen the devastation of sin, suffering, and death without seeing the Savior that longs to comfort and save him. It breaks me to know that I, such a hypocrite and self-righteous person (and often apathetic and selfish son), has been shown so much grace to see Jesus and yet my mom and dad don’t (though they always think of ways to serve me as parents). It hurts to know that the relationship and longing for intimacy with them is a glimpse of Jesus’ immense and greater longing for relationship with them – to save them from their sins, bondage, and hurts and free them from it’s chains to find rest, life, and flourishing in Him alone forever. I hate it when these opportunities are given up to the everyday shallow talk of food, other people, and work. I hate it when it spirals to a theological and intellectual conversation or debate that winds up in ethnocentric self help. I hate it that we settle here as a family when God offers us freedom, boldness, confidence, and life beyond our exhausted, sad, mundane, empty, and overly-entertained lives. It’s so painful to see moments of precious life given away to these things. I’m greatly comforted by Jesus in these times. I’m thankful for the Spirit in showing me these things despite how painful it is to confront it and acknowledge it for what it is. This is going to help me not waste my moments with my parents and help me to not neglect the daily opportunities He’s given me for them.

Though this may be much further down the line, I’m learning in all of this. I’m learning how to be a good parent and what a bad one does. I’m learning how my parents’ failures are affecting me and what it looks like without Jesus to lead and save them and transform them. I’m seeing what it looks like for a family to just be spiritual and religious, but not connected to Jesus. I’m seeing what it looks like when ethnocentrism and a worldly idea of love can manifest itself into. I’m seeing what it looks like without the power of the Spirit to change lives. I’m seeing and experiencing the pain of relating to a dad that doesn’t know what repentance is and all the blessings that come from it. I’m seeing the pain and struggle that a wife feels on a day to day basis when her husband doesn’t lead, but just consumes and does not humbly admit his weaknesses and let God work in his life but deceives and lets himself live an empty and painful existence. These are things I will never forget, but I’m praying and asking God to use this in a good way to change me and help me to grow to love and serve well – especially to be sympathetic and love my parents well knowing their weaknesses and struggles. I don’t want to give my flesh or the enemy an opportunity to use this as a weapon for destruction, but I want to avail myself to God’s active pursuit of me and my family through these pains so that He can use me to influence and love my parents and show them Jesus’ love for them.

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Update 2/22

Things I’ve been learning

  • Lead from weakness. You rely on the Savior. As you lead from that – others lean on Him too. We lean on Him together. People don’t need to lean on me – they need to lean on him and so do I.
  • Work ethic and rest. Push it when you gotta push it. Rest when you gotta rest. Don’t settle for cheap rest (facebook, youtube, blogs). Settle for good times with Jesus, inactivity/exercise, music, prayer, Scripture, and meditation.
  • Even when you sin, Jesus’ grace got you covered. Stop listening to yourself and other voices. When you do well, you can be thankful and look at how far you’ve come because of what Jesus did to you and for you. 
  • Jesus is always in progress and forward motion for you. Not that you won’t make mistakes or sin, but he will use every circumstance and situation in your life to grow you and help you grow closer to him and others. Be expectant as you look forward for these things. Count it all joy as James reminds you. 
  • Rich or poor – the issue is the heart. Holiness is the focus. Look into this. 
  • Give grace to dad. Not sure how to lead him as a son though. 
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Legacy, Rest, Rhythms, and New Seasons

I feel like I can finally take a breath of fresh air after many grueling long nights of school for the past three months. 

A lot has been on my mind recently. Let’s see if I can compress them concisely and in a constructive way instead of letting it all spill out without thought or order.

  • Real tired. Want some real rest in Christ. I’m really glad that God has been sustaining me through his word and speaking to me through it. It’s been so nourishing and life giving. That really was the game changer. Learning about rhythms is helpful as well. Knowing my limits, taking time to meditate and rest, being in the moment and just doing hat I can for that day trusting in the sovereignty of God as Father has been wonderfully good. 
  • Excited for pursuing legacy. Malachi has been a timely series for me going on 23 and into a new year. 2013 has been an insane journey. Lots of very dark times, but Jesus has redeemed it. He’s shown me grace and power despite who I am and the ways that I rebel and pursue folly. He’s lifted me from shame and condemnation through his cross and his suffering for me. I am no longer enslaved to accusation or shame, but I am free. I have a new identity in him and a new position in him as adopted son into a new family. It’s quite unbelievable to say the least. 
  • Burden for my character, my family, the city, and the next few months. I’m finding that there are some amazingly good desires that Jesus has placed in my heart. A desire to love my family, a desire to love his people, a desire to step out in faith to love and know the city, a desire to see collaboration among diverse family, a desire to see holistic restoration of communities, a desire for shalom in some sense. I’m encouraged that Jesus is giving me his desires and giving me his strength and his power to take one step forward at a time. I’m encouraged that the Spirit speaks to me and surrounds me with grace. I’m encouraged that though war-time is brutal, I can find rest and shalom in him no matter where I am. I’m also encouraged at the ways Jesus is challenging me and shaping my character. I’m always seeing areas that I am immature in, areas that I know nothing about, areas that I flat out fail in – in essence, I feel very aware of my shortcomings, yet I hope in the fact that Jesus knows them all and is at work and is more concerned about my development than I am. That’s a great relief! This goes for all the other things mentioned above. If Jesus didn’t remind me that he is in control, I’d either be in a spiral of inward despair or absolutely jaded and hating everyone. Instead, I can endure some of the cold, weary, dark, and difficult moments of life because I know he is leading me in it. I need not be afraid or shaken – he is my strength, my comfort, my rest. 
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Convicted to Reverse Engineer

I’ve been having many dreams as of late, but I think this one is urgent. 

Hearing about the death of a high school peer may have had to do with it. Feeling convicted that I’m living to be pleased rather than because I am saved could be part of it too. I don’t know. 

I had a dream that I died. I was at my own funeral. Everyone I knew was there. This was following Phil Nguyen’s. I don’t now why him.

Regardless, I remember waving at grandma and seeing mom and dad. Somehow grandma saw me and waved. I remember I started bawling because I regretted not loving her well. Same with my parents. I regretted not making a lasting impact on people that I knew. I regretted that I squandered my life being busy instead of listening to Jesus and following as he lead me. I felt a vain regret as people sang worship songs at my service instead of seeing my life as a reflection of God’s grace that is available to them as well. 

I woke up hearing that I don’t have to continue living this way. That the Lord is near and that I can repent. I heard that his grace covers my sin and I need to sin no more. I can live free and live new. I don’t need to go back and waste it all. I need to abide and follow. 

I know I said a lot of I’s, but I think the Holy Spirit may use it to start getting my head and heart right. 

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So it begins

Today begins something I hope to look back on a year from now and say that God was at work in all of it. 

Since April’s Men’s training day, the 4 big things in my mind have been Jesus, family, work, and ministry. I haven’t taken the time to flesh it out and I’m looking forward toward the next few weeks in seeing how this looks like. 

Here are some ideas that have come up through prayer, counsel, and reading scripture.

Jesus

  • It all starts with him. I’m seeing that all of life is connected to him whether it be family, finances, work, mission, etc. All purpose and all life begins with him. What would it look like to nourish the relationship that Jesus is pursuing me with? How has he pursued me in the past? How does this affect me now and how he is pursuing me for the year to come?

Family

  • Very convicted that I have not loved them well at all. It’s easy for me to do a drive by once in a while, but I believe the Spirit is convicting me to demonstrate, display, and proclaim the gospel with my life and words toward them however that may look. Scripture that comes to mind is the one about providing for family as well as James’ call for works consummating the faith that has been given to me. I’ve grossly neglected familial relationships and there needs to be some consistent and substantive time to develop the relationships God has put in front of me – in hopes of not only loving them better, but ultimately desiring to see them know and experience the love of Jesus. 

Work

  • By God’s grace, I passed the pharm tech exam yesterday after much hesitation, uncertainty, and even fear. I’m praying that opportunities will open up for work to be closer to home, but also strategic work to not only put me in a position for potential pharmacy school, but also to lead, serve, and love well in the upcoming year. I’m looking forward to praying about how to really leverage work and not be a slave to it as a means to serve my idol of comfort or security. Learning to really take advantage of it and be ambitious and worshiping Jesus or the security a job promises can at times be a fine line. The DreamJob Course is underway for another month before I can get a refund – I’m giving myself another month at this and we’ll see. 

Ministry

  • Just finished membership class today. Lots of things to pray about with that. Is Mars Hill where Jesus wants me for the next few years? Will I build my life here and invest here even if Jesus doesn’t use me to leverage resources for underground churches or immigrant churches in LA? What is the most important thing right now? I think taking a step back, I’m already seeing that I’m in a season where some critical foundations must be set – who is Jesus, what does it mean to follow as a disciple (hence, reading Disciple), what is the church and why is she important, how does this affect family and preparing for one, what does mission look like, – the list is endless. I know for a fact that in this coming year, Jesus wants me to focus on the basics and the foundations – knowing him, leading in repentance, and letting him work on my heart in bringing about boldness as I see him at work in my life and in others in the body. Whatever implications this may have for LA, immigrant churches, underground churches, etc will come as it may. I can trust that Jesus will continue to build his church and that he can completely do it without me – he’s been doing it for thousands of years and he will continue to do it today. 

Some questions to start thinking about for this week that Nollan helped bring to mind:

  1. See where God has put me. Pray about where he has put me to know where you want to be next year. Look back at God’s grace before you plan on where you want to go. This is all encompassing – finances, tithes, devos, discipleship, books, communion with God, work, education, serving. 
  2. Then pray about how God wants to use you by looking back at what God has done by the convictions he has given you. 
  3. Look at how he has sanctified and pursued you in which you were challenged by the gospel of grace.
  4. Most importantly – pray that in these plans, you go about it with the freedom he has purchased for you so that you are not enslaved by or condemned if the plans are not accomplished. 
  5. Important to cultivate and nourish the relationships God has you in.

 

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What Do I Really Gain?

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Eventhe demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

 

I’m convicted and at times haunted by that verse on many days. I feel convicted of it every time I don’t love my parents and family well. I feel convicted of it every time I cower away from either speaking or displaying the gospel with my life. In other words, when my faith internally does not translate externally – it’s like someone got in the way of the train – everything comes to a halt because there is no more progress or continuation. 

The end of tonight is particularly convicting. I just finished a week with quizzes an exams – looking to another big one on Monday. Yet, through it all, I didn’t live with gospel fluency or intentionality. To be honest, most days, I just wanted sleep, great grades, good production at work, and a quiet home to go to. I didn’t really care about family. I didn’t really care about others at work. I didn’t really care. I was just exhausted and burnt. After passing the pharm tech exam today, it was definitely a huge weight off my shoulder, but what type of weight was I really feeling? Was this an idol of security manifesting in different ways again? Why do I feel defensive and angry when my parents tell me to tithe less? Shouldn’t I be seeing it as an amazing opportunity to tell them what Jesus told me about my heart and my money? Wouldn’t it have been a great opportunity to tell them why I give? Why Jesus is amazing and why he calls me to be a part of his people and that money is only a means to a greater end of joy, glory, and satisfaction in him and the good of others? Sometimes, I don’t get my heart and why it reacts the way it does. 

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin not to shame me, but to show me another area where he wants to throw his weight around, pour out grace into so I can become more like Jesus, and grow and follow him. In other words, it’s an opportunity to repent because I have been loved and shown grace. I will be praying about how to love my parents better using these opportunities as well as praying about careers – bringing it up both with community and family to see what they think and weigh the counsel carefully. 

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War, Death, Hope, and Jesus

War is brutal and taxing not only to the body, but to the mind, to the heart, and to the soul.

Spiritual warfare is in a whole other dimension. The battle is outside. The battle is around you. The battle is within you. It is constant, hand to hand, day to day, slugging it out for the glory of God, to the joy and good of all peoples – starting with yourself, your family, the church, and the city. 

Casualties of war are everywhere. The enemy mocks continually. He deceives, lies, destroys, and ultimately kills – sometimes slow, sometimes quickly and swiftly. 

The ravages of war are intense, yet the hope is that Jesus has already won the war. The war has been won by our King. He has disarmed the enemy and we are the mop up crew. We can rejoice! Even though the body is weak, the mind is failing, the soul is shaken at times, our hope does not end nor does it fade because it rests in Jesus himself. He has won the war and calls us to fight with him by his power.

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