Tag Archives: God

Blessed is the One

Tonight I was thinking, I don’t really understand how to respond to feeling violated.

I take punch after punch.  Blow after blow.  Taking the higher road.  Forgiving and letting go.  Yet I still am left being violated.  What punishment does that person get while I am suffering day by day?  It just does not seem fair.  Daily, I receive undeserved attack.  Sometimes from people who don’t know any better.  Other times, people who are unhappy with their own lives decide to lash out at me.  I have the hardest time accepting that people can hurt me when I do not feel like I did anything that asked for it.

There was a certain attack tonight that left me feeling helpless.  I wanted to get so angry; I did not know what to do.  All I could think of was what I could do to get revenge.  I’m tired of taking, “the higher road.”  The truth is, the secular idea of “taking the high road” is powerless.  Because it is not rooted in God.  There is no power; no justice in the mantra of being a better person.  As I wept and wept, wondering how on earth I would be able to sleep tonight, this scripture was immediately placed on my heart:

“Blessed is the onedelight
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

I do not have to stoop to the level of my “enemies” in this life.  My own worst enemy is myself.  Am I willing to surrender to the lies other people attempt to place on me?  What about the lies I tell myself?  Do I have to act out of self-life and flesh in the form of revenge?  Or can I take a road higher than the high road?

Honestly, trying to make myself feel okay is not life-giving.  It is the Lord who satiates me like streams of water that never run dry.  Delighting in Him will be the act that makes me fruitful.

God, I repent for trying to take on these attacks myself.  I nail them to the cross.  Because you already overcame them.  The battle is not mine, but yours, oh God (2 Chron 20:15).  I will delight in you because that is my calling.


I Am the Branch

For what feels like most of my life, I have had this struggle with my hair.  My desire is for it to grow long, but in the past several years, every beautician I have seen has recommended that I cut it.  There has been so much damage and mistreatment of my hair, the best option was to chop it off and regrow it.  I resisted because I did not understand how cutting it off would help it grow longer.  I did not want to let go, so I held on to my damaged hair which still refused to grow.

I am worthyOnce I was meditating on John 15 (“The Vine and the branches”), and I realized something:  God, the vine dresser, takes away the branches that do not bear fruit.  He prunes the branches that do, so that they may bear more fruit.  My habit was to use this verse as a plea for God to prune me so that I become a branch that does bear fruit.  But the very fact that He prunes me shows that I already bear fruit and He sees the potential in me for more. What an honor it is, for the vine dresser to prune me!

Our society so easily discards things we consider insufficient.  But Our Father is not like that.  He says, “I delight in you.  I see the fruit you bear.  That’s why I prune you.  Because you were made for so much more.”  Even if He sees one pathetically tiny piece of fruit barely hanging on from that branch that I am, He still delights in me.  He sees not that I have barely produced anything.  He only sees the capacity He has in me. It is not about my faults and failures because He declares that I am already clean because of the word which has spoken to me.  It’s not about me.  The star of the vine is the Vine: Jesus.  It’s about God, the vine dresser.  His desire to grow us, use us, and have us to Himself.  Though that love involves us, it isn’t about us.  Submitting to pruning is simply an act of receiving His great love for us.

vinedresserSo a couple of weeks ago, I sat in the stylist’s chair.  A year and a half ago, I argued with her about how I did NOT want my hair cut (even though she offered to simply trim it).  I said, reluctantly, I’m ready to cut it.  I watched the dry, split ends fall to my shoulders.  A part of me was dying inside.  At the end, my hair was more beautiful than I would’ve imagined it would be short.  And it looked so healthy.  I was grateful for putting trust in her.

How much more trust should I place in my God who knows what is and isn’t good for me?  What are you holding that may need to be let go, even if only for a season?  I challenge you to be open to pruning when the time comes.  Because the result is always worth it.

I Am God’s Child

I never met my biological father.

fatherMy mother never married him. The man she did marry knew me since I was born. I was three years old when they wed. My relationship with him grew based on the premise that he was the only father I ever knew; therefore he was my father, not step parent. However, almost 23 years later, he revealed to me that he has one regret.

He never formally adopted me.

This never struck me as significant. I did not need the papers to see him the way I already do. Here I am in my mid-twenties, and my stepfather is asking how I feel about being adopted. It bothered me. Though he was not a “bad” father, my soul has suffered from father wounds that handicap me from experiencing God as a father. I was recently assigned a list of biblical affirmations, identity statements to recite over myself. The first statement being,

“I am God’s child.”

This threadbare statement has become my struggle. So I had to ask Holy Spirit why the role of a child matters:

Having Access to the Father

Being a child of someone gives you intimate approach to him. We can boldly enter presence of God (Heb 10:19) the way a young child enters his parents’ bedroom door at 2am after having a bad dream without fear of ridicule or rejection.

I watched a television show where a wife admits to her husband that she had been keeping a struggle hidden from him. Her excuse was she did not want to “bug him” with her problem. He held her lovingly and explained that when they exchanged vows, for better or for worse, she no longer had the right to withdraw. “You get to bug me.” In the same way, we are called to cast all our cares on Him, for he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7). Nothing is too big or small for a parent.

Receiving Inheritance from the Father

Being a child also makes us an heir (Gal 4:7). It is more difficult to think of this attribute of being a child when it pertains to our earthly parents because you do not receive an inheritance until your parent dies. So unless you have a complete disregard for personal relationship with your parent, your focus is not what happens after his death. Heavenly Father’s inheritance is different.

First, we have already received a portion of our inheritance. Holy Spirit is a deposit of all that awaits us in heaven. Unlike our earthly possessions, this will never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4). So not only do we have a gift to anticipate, but we have already received it in the here and now to walk in authority on this earth.

Father Watching His Infant SleepAffection of the Father

As I meditated on the Fatherly affection of God, all that came to mind was Isaiah 43. “But now says the Lord who created you; Fear not, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name. YOU ARE MINE. (Isa 43:1, emphasis mine). It is that understanding of belonging to him that I don’t quite know to define. We belong to Him; His affection belongs to us.

There’s nothing like the love you experience when you have a child. The amazing thing is, we are given children and love them as they are. God chose us. We are His workmanship created for a purpose (Eph 2:10). He fashioned us and calls what he created “good.”

My conviction stands that I do not need my stepfather to adopt me. We behold only a glimpse of the Father-child illustration by looking at these attributes. Many more remain to be ventured. We have a lifetime and more beyond that to discover God the father.

What attributes of being a child of God speak to you? If you do not know or are longing for more revelation, I challenge you to seek Him and ask. So next time you look in the mirror and declare “I am God’s child” you are open to receive more of the fullness He has in that for you.

What is the Great Commission?

Before ascending, Jesus leaves his disciples with a few final instructions, which have become widely known collectively as The Great Commission.  This conversation occurs in Matthew 28:18-20.  The Great Commission has developed into the theological basis for the concept of evangelism.  I don’t know about you, but I grew up in evangelical churches which constantly made me question if I was “sharing the gospel” with enough of my friends every week.

I began attending college and joined various campus ministries which had the same mentality.  Regularly, they would equip us with tracts like the Four Spiritual Laws and send us out on campus; only to have us to return and report the results.

One instance, I was paired with a new believer.  We went through the routine of starting the conversation, only to pull out the outdated booklet.  I met a girl who began to tell us her life story.  The young guy with me kept trying to direct the conversation back to the “Four Spiritual Laws.”  She responded that she had seen it before, and he continued to cut her off to explain how good God is.

Then it hit me.

No one has taken the time to listen to this girl.

She was seriously hurting.  A huge part of the pain dealt her was in fact, by the church.  So I proceeded to cut off the over excited young man to listen to what she had to say before we continued to shove religion down her throat.  As much as that moment hurt to see what the church has done, what followed hurt even more.

At the end of the day, we only conversed with that one girl.  I was the one who had the conversation, really.  My partner simply observed.  That was the only report we had at our ministry debriefing.  I did not know this until later, but my partner felt like a failure.  It was as if he hadn’t committed his duty.  As he drove on the highway that day, he seriously contemplated committing suicide.

Thankfully he didn’t.  But what have we come to if we feel guilty for not “sharing the gospel” in the way we should?

I am so sick of “evangelism”
Confining God’s love to Four Spiritual Laws
Pedalling gospel tracts as any other cause
Chunking seed all around just to pull in the numbers
Leading people in prayer to abandon them without disciplers

I am not an evangelist.  I definitely believe that some people are designed that way.  We are all gifted in different ways and function differently like parts of a body.  What were Jesus words in The Great Commission?  “Make disciples of all nations.”

I found myself relating to someone the other day about God.  Then a realization hit me.  Am I actually sharing the gospel?  Making disciples was given a specific definition to me in my church experience.  But I realize that making disciples may look different to each of us.  And when we become the gospel, it naturally flows out of us without a works-based mentality.

What does that mean to you?  What is your specific calling according to the way He made You?  God, reveal the mysteries of your will, through Holy Spirit.  May our eyes be enlightened  to see the hope of Your calling, that we may function according to our giftings from you.  Amen.

Run Beside Me

I found this poem tucked away in one of my old notebooks, like any other poem I immediately deemed useless after writing.  Years later, I realize it is so relevant to this season.  At least in my life.  For everyone else going through similar times, or just anyone who cares to read …

Run beside me
Accelerating by no limits
Beyond the measures out of breath
Keep running and keep in mind
Nothing behind us fits

Stop wishing things were like they once were
Because they’ll never be the same
And continually trying to recreate the past
Will leave us with no gain.

These times are not the movies.
With rounded story arcs and dénouement
We’re making our own stories
Unlike that tv show you saw.

Keep running until we can no longer run
And then we’ll run some more
Until our bodies are forced to collapse
Breathless, weary, and sore.

When we make it there alive
We’ll have touched our destiny …

In Hebrews 12, Paul exhorts us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2).  Beloved, there is a race marked out for you.  But there are things that hold you back in this life.  Watch out for the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.  It doesn’t have to mean blatant sin; it could be a broken mindset about who you are and your limitations.

This calling is not a light suggestion.  Why is that?  Because the sacrifice of Jesus was not a light event.  Do we fully understand what He achieved for us?  Do we truly know who we are in Christ to God?  “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3).

If you don’t know what to do, set your eyes on Jesus.

And run.

Sacrifice of Worship

It is so easy in a society with such freedom of religion to take worship for granted.

Places that execute severe persecution upon faithful believers cultivate the most passionate worshipers you can find. I remember during my season of missionary training, my class read The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun. Enlightenment overcame the countenances of all these young adults (including myself) who were literally giving their lives to the gospel. Out of their hearts came the genuine question, “Am I really a Christian?”

Worship without sacrifice is simply self-serving. We are idolizing ourselves and our own needs above true relationship with God. Even the act of checking worship off our to-do list invalidates the entire purpose.

All this to say, sometimes we have expectations of how God should work for us. Even when our heart is genuinely seeking Him, we define receiving what we need by the fuzzy feeling while singing a song on Sunday morning at church. This evening, I found myself praying in the spirit for an extended period. Once I hit the bounds of my comfort zone, I began to question what I was doing, but I felt the tug on my heart to keep pressing. Half an hour later, I was questioning myself. Is there not another way to do this?

Naaman had the same question when he desired healing from leprosy.

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. (2 Kings 5:9-12)

How many times have you responded to God this way? “Wait a minute, can’t I do <;insert excuse here>; instead?”

It is necessary to sacrifice in worship; even if it is as simple as a sacrifice of our own understanding. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts higher than our thoughts. If we choose not to give into lukewarm spirituality that Jesus will spit out of His mouth (Rev 3:16) or lost saltness that will be trampled underfoot (Mt 5:13), we must learn to become true worshipers.

Jesus, teach us how to worship as you have called us: in spirit and in truth. I repent for the ways I have resisted you in worship and cry out for an uprising sacrifice of worship in my generation. Amen.

3 Things I Learned From An Atheist

Recently, a talk show I’ve subscribed to interviewed an atheist intellectual.  I was only halfway listening as I was multitasking when a statement from the interviewed captured my attention:

“If you want to be religious and go to church on a Sunday or whatever and go to picnics and stuff, that’s fine, but there’s absolutely no reason to think you have to take it seriously and think there’s really some guy up on a cloud looking down on you.  You don’t have to go that far down the road.  You could be a cultural Jew, a cultural Christian, or a cultural Muslim, you know.  You can just enjoy the social aspects of it without actually sacrificing your reason and your doubt.  There’s like more than a billion people in the world who are just non believers.”

This revolts me.  Not because his downplay of religion offended me, but because it forced me to look at three uncomfortable truths.

We’re not fooling anyone

Even atheists can see that a lot of us are just “playing church.”  And as insulting as that guy saying we can just be “cultural Christians” and enjoy the social aspects, that’s what so many of us are actually doing.

If we’re not fooling other people, then we’re certainly not fooling God.  Seriously, God does not owe us for going to church or doing good works.  Our good deeds are as FILTHY RAGS to Him (Isaiah 64:6).  So we need to cut the act and get real.

Looks like a Christian?

There’s the saying “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, . . .” etc, then it’s probably a duck.  But just because someone calls himself a Christian, attends church, knows the bible, it doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

We cannot take things at face value.  That will lead us to being easily deceived.  Look around you and ask God to reveal to you what’s really going on beneath the surface.

Stand for nothing, fall for anything

I listen to this show to remind myself how the identity of God is constantly being attacked by human reasoning.  Daily, our generation is exchanging the truth of who God is for lies and this is DANGEROUS TERRITORY (see ROMANS 1:18-32).

To my surprise, the show’s guest concluded with this:

I have to be convinced that one or more of these gods are real if I’m going to worship  them. . . The way I approach religion or any extraordinary claim is I’m willing to be convinced. Show me the mountain of evidence and I’ll be with you.  But I don’t see the same from believers.

We have to stop getting in non believers faces, trying to convince them of anything until we are convinced.  Are you truly convinced?  Do you believe in God because of something your pastor said?  Are you a Christian because of some feel-good experience you had years ago?  Beloved, we need to GET CONVINCED.

There is a real war going on.  Not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities (Eph 6:12).  So the point of this is not to go out starting debates with people who disagree with Christian truth.  It’s about recognizing the battle going on and our own unpreparedness.  We need to have His Word inscribed on the tablet of our heart, so that we cannot be shaken.