Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fear and Faith

They both can't exist at the same time. When one is present, the other is lacking. I've been reading through the gospel of Luke and have been seeing these two things side by side. The disciples will be fearful, and Jesus will ask them where is their faith. Jesus tells the healed woman her faith has made her well. "Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well" Luke 8:50.

I've been thinking what it means to walk by faith as believers; growing in faith as we grow in trusting the One who is trustworthy. We have to know Him, learning His character, to truly know we can trust Him. It has been fear and control that have restrained me from letting Him have full control. Fear brings me to think on things in my own understanding- this understanding has kept me from seeing my God as fully capable and in control.

"When it comes to jigsaw puzzles, we all know that to enjoy a satisfying outcome you need all the pieces. In many ways, life is like that. We spend our days putting it together, hoping to create a complete picture out of all the scattered parts." My own understanding allows me to see these pieces of all the things circumstantially I know- trying to figure out how each will fit together. Faith requires us to give up control of putting the pieces together on our own strength and trust the Lord to do it- He knows the bigger picture and the final outcome!

It's fun to think that where there is fear, there is also an opportunity for faith. There is fear because faith is needed; with faith we cannot rely on our own strength. It can be scary to fully trust the Lord with an unknown... especially when we don't know His character and are relying upon it!

"Courage is acknowledging fear but taking action anyway"

We can take action when our focus is not on the circumstance but on the One who is higher than the circumstance! Peter lost faith that he could walk on the water to Jesus when he saw his surroundings of the waves crashing around him. This fear allowed him to sink.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:1-2

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It is finished!

I know this blog is pretty long, but I read this this morning and was so blessed! It is so powerful if you have a chance to read it, oh wow!

Don't Leave It On The Desk -

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many push-ups can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well... I think I can... yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. These weren't the normal kinds of donuts. They were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.
Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

"Sure!" Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. The professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"

Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

By this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No."

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"

Steve did ten. Jenny got a donut.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"
Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Dr. Christianson said, You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down. Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing. There was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan and said, "'Susan, do you want a donut?"

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, can I help him?"

Dr Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone. I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."

"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?"

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, said to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that Jesus had done everything that was required of him, he yielded up his life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words."
Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God spared not his only begotten son, but gave him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept God's gift to us, the price has been paid."

Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17

Friday, April 15, 2011

Skype date with Christy

There has to be both a recognition of who we are, and who we are in Christ. The balance of both truths produce praise; for we in and of ourselves are sinful, and only when we see who we are in Christ do we comprehend His grace! It is through His grace that we no longer think our righteousness or good deeds to be sufficient, but that we recognize His righteousness as our righteous standing! Praise God!

I feel like there has been so much that the Lord has been teaching me lately. I've gotten to read some great books, and through the Word, conversations, and homegroup, there has been an abundance of information that I don't think I have processed. Whenever my friend Christy and I get a change to sit and talk, it is just amazing how the Lord speaks to us and brings understanding as get to share these things He has been revealing! We speak a lot through analogies, and like my other dear friend Lili, the Lord has been so faithful to bring similar experience to bring wisdom and light on our conversations.

I have to share just a piece of this goodness with you! So I recently got done reading this George Mueller book, and as we all know him as a man of faith or prayer, it brought more meditation on these two things. Like faith for example- it's something we all would love to grow in, but we know when we pray for it that we're also given an opportunity to use it... which usually leads to less prayers asking for that. So to obtain greater amounts of faith, we must exercise it in whatever small area now. I started to look at this as a muscle. I use to be in track, and when I was in shape, running wasn't so much a difficult thing to do as much as it was a discipline thing to continue in. Now that I don't run consistently, running sounds like a great thing... but also something that seems far from my priorities. Faith is that same thing. Although it is a spiritual muscle, it requires the same continual discipline.

I have been thinking about how strong my physical man is. I've been getting pretty strong. Not necessarily in muscle, but in dependence upon my own strength. I know the things that I can do on my own, and although I would like to think I'm being dependent upon the Lord, I realize I'm not when it comes down to the things that are unknown to me. He has been stretching my dependency muscle, and He is calling me to trust Him with the baby things and the grande things. It really is breaking to see how easy in our flesh we can fall to depend on the things we know. Oh but how sweet in this lifetime to be able to experience a deeper dependency upon the Lord and see His goodness on earth deeper and deeper before seeing it in the fullness of face-to-face!

As faith grows, so too does our understanding of our fallen state and our righteous standing before God because, and only because of the blood of Jesus! Praying now for a deeper understanding of Jesus' blood over you and over all who might read!

Letter from Brent from 4.7.11

To our dearest family and friends,

We wanted to write and update you regarding the pathology report of the tumor that was removed from my head on the 25th of March. As of a few days ago, we now know that the tumor is a Glioblastoma (fancy word for malignant tumor). Our faith is once again being tested, having received what many would consider bad news. Yet we believe that God has given our family another opportunity to enjoy what we so often took for granted; each other! We are overwhelmed with excitement to be together as we are realizing that the most precious gifts that God gives are the gifts that we often take the most for granted. We don’t know how long we have here upon this earth, but one thing we do want to do is to live every day like it is our last. Our focus right now is our family and everything else is secondary to this focus. Our desire is to honor God in this way as much as possible (This is a lesson that my beautiful and gracious wife has exemplified to me during this trial; she is soooooo amazing). Just last night, Andrea and I were talking about not living in the future or in the past but seeking to honor Him presently. Therefore, we ask once again that you would pray for our family that we would magnify the Lord in this way by His grace.

We have been and continue to be humbled how each and every one of you have helped and continue to help support our family in innumerable ways, and for this we are humbly and eternally grateful. Words can’t express our gratitude yet we know that all the love and support that has been shown up to this point is a testimony of God’s grace; therefore we ask that you wouldn’t allow discouragement to eclipse the joy that God has granted our family during this time. We want our family and friends to rejoice with us during this time of new beginnings!
Please pray that God would give us practical wisdom, as I will need to start chemo and radiation soon. We know every situation is unique to itself, but isn’t this how God works anyways!  We love you all!!!!!

Carried by His Grace,
Brent, Andrea, Jaiden, and Micah

Psalm 126

New prayer request

Remember those earthquakes we were talking about in the previous blog? There has been another round of earthquakes in those dear to us in the area of suffering. Many of you have been praying for the Yim family as we found out about Brent’s brain tumor. He is now out of the hospital and at home with family awaiting further procedures; the tumor was found cancerous. I now write for you to come along side of another family so dear to my heart- the Search family. Doug is the director of the Israel campus and his wife Lucille went this semester, but after having a seizure and was rushed to the hospital in Israel, there hasn’t been much recovery. Doug has been concerned, and last Tuesday night the two of them flew home to North Carolina and went straight to the hospital there. Lucille was found to have two tumors in her brain- one the size of an orange and the other the size of the plum. This last Monday they were able to remove the tumor, but due to the fast growing pace of it, chemo is said to only buy time. The tumor was actually the same cancerous tumor that Brent had.
Please keep these families in your prayers. They are both asking that the result of this would be God glorified!

(I tried taking a picture of Doug and his family off facebook, but with their new settings it won't allow me. This was the only photo I could find where you could kind of see who Doug is! He is in the yellow with the sweet hat! ha.. I'll try to add one of the fam soon!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Grace and Glory:)

These are two words that I feel like I use in sentences pretty often, but at the same they are words that I still can't comprehend. This last weekend, I was asking the Lord to show me what these look like... I have to show you what He revealed!!

God being glorified- '"This," says Jesus in effect, "is the hour of My glory, for it is the hour of My grace to sinners." In Jesus, there we see that God's highest glory consists in His securing our deepest happiness.' (page 33 of We Would See Jesus)

Journaling: Sunday March 27
"God is glorified when Christ died because He was able to display His grace fully! This is the heart of God- that His goodness would pass before us. We wonder how we can glorify God? Jesus talked of His time to be glorified to be coming... crazy to think that Jesus of all possible thins (I mean He already is God and was in glory) would label the cross His time to be gloried. This reveals God's heart and desire to reveal His grace to mankind. How then is God glorified... through out death.. not physical, but yes in a sense to the things we cling onto that are physical. God knows that when we die more and more we must cling to Him, and in that He is glorified, because again His grace will be displayed. So God's glorified... when His grace is displaced! What a beautiful God... His heart is to reveal to us how much He wants us!"

"The Lord Jesus is always seen through the eye of need... The acknowledgement of need and the confession of sin, therefore, is always the first step in seeing Jesus." (page 35 of We Would See Jesus)

Oh man, I hope this blessed you even if just a piece of what it blessed me!! May you draw near to God as you see His true character as the one who made a way for you because of His amazing love and jealousy for you! The God of the universe thinks of you... He knows your life from beginning to end... and I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow :)