Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Links 9/29

Can You Catch Sin Like a Cold? - I seriously think that Barnabas Piper is incapable of writing something that is not insightful and helpful.

Needy - "He endured the bitterness and we receive the sweetness. He is always a feast for the neediest of souls. This is why our joy is out of this world. This is radical grace. Have you feasted?"

Real Life - So blessed by this. "And then it hit me: I can’t wait until our life is “perfect” to live life! This IS my life, the days that God has given me. By waiting until it’s something that it’s not (and won’t ever be!) I’m wasting the opportunities that God is giving me now, today."

God Answers - Another great poem from John Piper.

Spiritual Awakening and the Sovereignty of God - And a great article from John Piper. "It has been my conviction, and my experience, for over 40 years that knowing more about God from his inspired, energy-filled word puts more kindling in place so that the Holy Spirit can ignite a greater and greater flame of passion for God in our hearts."

Why We Chose to Have Beautiful Babies - Beautiful and thought-provoking. "The fact was incontrovertible: Doctors did not think my life was worth living. So, in all honestly, I must confess that I first starting thinking hard about filling the planet with more me-mutants just to prove that I and my children were just as fearfully and wonderfully made as any of God’s image bearers (Psa. 139:13-16)."

I'm (Kinda Sorta Yeah Not Really) Gay - Great article. "For Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, the answer is really 'yes and no.' Yes on the surface level (being attracted to the same sex) and no in the truest sense (as a new creation in Christ). So if someone asked if I’m gay, the best answer is 'Kinda sorta yeah not really.' It’s a complicated answer. But so is the question."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kiss the Wave

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” – C. H. Spurgeon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekend Links 9/22

Hunger for God - From True Woman. "The greatest reason your hunger for God has waned is that you have filled yourself with less satisfying foods...Perhaps it may be time for you to change entire restaurants, or it may simply be time to make better choices. It’s not too late to start."

What I Am Learning About Younger Women - I was so so blessed by this. "Ultimately, teaching young women is not about prescribing a particular set of behaviours; it's about pointing a woman to Christ, and emphasizing that God is in control of every aspect of her life. "

Send Me Your Short-Term Missionaries - "Money cannot hug a fatherless child or enjoy fellowship with Christian brothers. Money cannot play soccer with drug dealers or wipe the tears from a hungry child. We Christians are called to serve the poor, sick, widows, and orphans. Money can buy food for the poor and build houses for the homeless, but just as Christ touched the leper (Matt 8:3), the poor also desire the touch of a loving and merciful hand."

My Life - A beautiful poem from John Piper.

Pick Up the Basin and the Towel - "We love titles: manager, co-ordinator, deacon, chairperson, vice-president; whatever. Sometimes, titles are necessary, but they don't make the service more legitimate. What makes it legitimate is the object of our worship, and the willingness to pick up the basin and the towel, no matter what the task."

Oh Behave! Conduct Worthy of the Gospel in Worship - "The principle of walking in line with the gospel (Galatians 2:14) in corporate worship looks like this: In grace consider others enough to refrain from distracting them, and extend grace to those who you find to be distracting. Here are a few suggestions for how to think well of and for others in corporate worship."

Five Things Friday

1. I realized this week that when I am alone, I talk to myself. A lot. But hey - at least I don't talk to myself when other people are around, right?

2. Sometimes when my alarm goes off at a disgustingly early hour and I don't want to get up, I make an angry face at my phone and it makes me feel better.

3. Roommates are a precious gift from God. So blessed by the dear girls I live with.

4. Budgeting is a not-fun part of being an adult. But at the same time, it's kind of exciting to be able to look at my progress!

5. Been reflecting on the precious promise in Jeremiah 32:40, "I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me."

Thursday, September 20, 2012


J. C. Ryle's descriptions of what sanctification is and is not have convicted me greatly many times. What I often consider progress is really no progress at all. Praise God that the victory is certain!

Sanctification Is Not:

1. Talk about religion. “People hear so much of Gospel truth that they contract an unholy familiarity with its words and phrases, and sometimes talk so fluently about its doctrines that you might think them true Christians. … [But] the tongue is not the only member that Christ bids us give to his service.”

2. Temporary religious feelings. “Reaction, after false religious excitement, is a most deadly disease of soul. When the devil is only temporarily cast out of a man in the heat of a revival, and by and by returns to his house, the last state becomes worse than the first.”

3. Outward formalism and external devoutness. “In many cases, this external religiousness is made a substitute for inward holiness; and I am quite certain that it falls utterly short of sanctification of heart!”

4. Retirement from our place in life or renunciation of social duties. “It is not the man who hides himself in a cave, but the man who glorifies God as master or servant, parent or child, in the family and in the street, in business and in trade, who is the Scriptural type of a sanctified man.”

5. Occasional performance of right actions. “[Sanctification] is not like a pump, which only sends forth water when worked upon from without, but like a perpetual fountain, from which a stream is ever flowing spontaneously and naturally.”

Sanctification Is:
1. Habitual respect to God’s law and habitual effort to live in obedience to it as the rule of life. “The same Holy Spirit who convinces the believer of sin by the law, and leads him to Christ for justification, will always lead him to a spiritual use of the law, as a friendly guide, in the pursuit of sanctification.”

2. Habitual endeavour to do Christ’s will and to live by his practical precepts. “He who supposes [that Christ’s precepts as recorded in the Gospels] were spoken without the intention of promoting holiness, and that a Christian need not attend to them in his daily life, is really little better than a lunatic, and at any rate is a grossly ignorant person.”

3. Habitual desire to live up to the standard with St. Paul sets before the churches in his writings. “I defy anyone to read Paul’s writings carefully, without finding in them a large quantity of plain, practical directions about the Christian’s duty in every relation of life, and about our daily habits, temper and behavior to one another.”

4. Habitual attention to the active graces which our Lord so beautifully exemplified, and especially to the grace of charity (love). “A sanctified man will try to do good in the world, and to lessen the sorrow and increase the happiness of all around him. He will aim to be like his Master, full of kindness and love to everyone … by deeds and actions and self-denying work, according as he has opportunity.”

5. Habitual attention to the passive graces of Christianity (those graces which are especially shown in submission to the will of God, and in bearing and forbearing towards one another). “Of one thing I feel very sure—it is nonsense to pretend to sanctification unless we follow after the meekness, gentleness, patience and forgiveness of which the Bible makes so much. People who are habitually giving way to peevish and cross tempers in daily life, and are constantly sharp with their tongues, and disagreeable to all around them—spiteful people, vindictive people, revengeful people, malicious people—of whom, alas, the world is only too full!—all such know little, as they should know, about sanctification.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Give Me Your Money!

So yesterday, my roommate and I were scheduled to teach Sunday school at church, and we taught the story of the Prodigal Son, talking about how because of Jesus, God always welcomes us back with joy no matter what we have done. After we finished telling the story, we talked about it, memorized a verse, and then decorated party hats to remind us of the love of the Father.

It was going great; everyone seemed like they understood...and then the parents came. A dear four-year-old boy walked up to his dad, pointed at him, and said, "Give me your money!"

His dad looked at him, confused. "What do you mean?"

This sweet boy answered, "Give me your money so I can run away and then I can have a birthday when I come back!"

Well. I suppose knowing the story counts for something, right?

Saturday, September 15, 2012


This is a post I have thought about writing for a long time. But I still, even 9 months after I returned from my first missions trip ever, have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head. So this may lack coherence and logical flow. I've decided that I don't care.

This past December - January, I had the privilege of joining some friends from school on a mission trip to Northern Thailand. We land in Chiang Mai, and then drive 9 hours to work with the Karen people in the Mah-Oh-Jo region. Refugees escaping genocide in Burma, the Karen have nothing compared to what you and I have. Until the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP, the organization that we partner with) entered the region, they had barely enough to survive. Their babies died from lack of nutrition and dirty water. There was no education or medical care.

7 years ago, ITDP and a team of students from my school worked with villagers to build a water tank in one of the three villages in the region. Today, each village has a completed water tank. There is a thriving school that goes up to 6th grade. There is a medical clinic with a full-time nurse. There is running water. The infant mortality rate has been cut in half. A cash crop - coffee- has been introduced. The village of Mah-Oh-Jo, where there was only one Christian before, now has 24 families who call themselves Christians and there is a thriving church. There is also a full-time evangelist in the region. Life has changed. This video does a great job describing what ITDP does:

And that's when I get to enter the story. When we went in December, ITDP and SDCC had already been in the region for awhile. But there is still much work to be done. We stayed in the village of Da-Bu-Sa-La-Co, which, along with Hua-lo (the third village in the region), has no Christians.

Our team had four projects: a new water project for Da-Bu-Sa-La-Co (since their previous source had dried up), building a new school building (it grew too much!), a VBS for the schoolchildren, and some miscellaneous agricultural projects. I primarily worked on the water project, which included digging trenches, burying pipe, mixing concrete by hand (as well as carrying the buckets of water, rock and sand to do so), and building an actual tank. Although I would not say that I was good at the work, I did enjoy it.

My favorite part about it was the extent to which the villagers were involved. We would trench with them, and then when we would all take a break, they would pick berries and leaves for us to try, all the while laughing at our faces when we tasted the sour fruit. We would try to learn Karen, asking the, "Nee co dee-lay?" or "How do you say that?". Then they would laugh at our pronunciation and ask us, "Na me jaw-leg?" ("What is your name?") and then we would get a turn to laugh at their pronunciation.

I also was able to help with VBS. The kids were, without a doubt, one of my favorite parts about Thailand.

They were so shy at first, but it didn't take long for us to realize that it was just an act. Within just a day, then had no problem jumping all over us, running after us and grabbing our hands, and laughing hilariously when we tried to imitate them. They would share food with us, braid our hair, teach us their games, jump out from behind bushes to scare us, and generally just do anything they could to be with us. They were precious.

We also got to experience Karen church, witness 3 baptisms, and several different outreaches to the community. It was incredible to be reminded that the Lord is actively working everywhere in the world, not just here in the States.

It's interesting because going into Thailand, I had really high expectations for the trip. I know so many people who had been on the trip in the past. They always returned with stories of God's faithfulness, grace and power. I knew very few who didn't want to return. And since it was my first missions trip, I expected that it would be incredible.

And it was, in many ways. I loved Chiang Mai. I loved the villages. It very quickly felt like home to sleep on the floor, shower with a bucket, use a squatty potty, eat Karen food and wake up to roosters every morning. The people were beautiful; I wanted to be there. I knew that God was using it, in my life and in theirs. But at the same time, every time we would have team devotionals, so many others on the team would share how much God had been teaching them, and how it was going to change life at home.

I was shocked...I barely had time to think about anything. Life was a whirlwind - a beautiful whirlwind, yes, but not one that allowed time for reflection. I didn't process through anything while I was in the village. I spent many afternoons journaling and wrestling with God about what He was doing. I knew that this trip was worth it even if I left feeling like I hadn't grown or changed at all as a result. My goal was to faithfully obey the Lord and proclaim the gospel.

But at the same time, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. I was hoping that God would use this to cause me to grow in my knowledge of and love for Him and people. I just wasn't seeing that change. While I was there, I just decided that I would have to trust that He was good and using this for good, even when I couldn't see it.

And then we came home. And very quickly I realized that God had been actively working all along. I suddenly found in my heart a desire to pray for the salvation of the nations, a desire that actually bore itself out in regular pray. I found myself longing to use my time and money to further the kingdom rather than to just buy a new dress or travel. Those were powerful things. To this day, missions has become a much higher priority to me. I am open to going full-time, although at this point, that is not my plan. But regardless, my goal is that my finances and prayers would reflect the heart of God towards those who do not know the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.

But even more than that, I realized how much my trip had changed my view of God. Suddenly I understand His love and mercy in a new way. You see, He found them! These three little villages, whom everyone else had forgotten, my God pursued and found and claimed. And just like He pursued them, my dear friends, He has pursued us. May we never forget the glory of His grace! I left Thailand knowing that I had seen the purposes of the Lord, how He is compassionate and merciful (James 5:11).

Rather than being loud and blaring, I felt like I saw God in the same way that Elijah did after the storm: in the whisper. I felt like nothing was changing, and then I came home to see my heart had changed in the quietest of ways. But those quiet changes meant so much to me.

And as a result of all of this, oh my, do I want to return. I want to hug the dear children who became so precious to me, and ask my hut mom, "Oh choo wa?" ("How are you?"). I want to sit quietly in my hut sharing sunflower seeds and laughing as the baby sees his reflection for the first time. I want to worship in another language with my brothers and sisters. I want to see God's glory proclaimed to these three small villages in Thailand. And Lord-willing, someday, I will go back.

This was sooooo long...and I'm not really sure how to end, mainly because I know that there is no ending for Thailand yet. God's work is not done, either in the villages or in my own heart. But I know the ultimate ending: my Jesus returns. And until then, He is using all things to proclaim the glory of His great name.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Long for the Giver

From David Powlison: "We are meant to long supremely for the Lord himself, for the Giver, not his gifts. The absence of blessings - rejection, vanity, reviling, illness, poverty - often is the crucible in which we learn to love God for who he is. In our idolatry we make gifts out to be supreme goods, and make the Giver into the errand boy of our desires."

May the good things we receive always point us to the Hands from which they come. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hope in Who Can Really Save Us

It's that time of year again! Everywhere I look I see political statements and ads and everyone seems to have an opinion of what ought to be done. When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time around a crowd that is very politically savvy. They knew quite a bit and cared deeply and as a result, so did I. But now I spend a lot of time with people who are disgusted with all of the broken promises they have experienced and disillusioned about anything political. Most of them would rather not vote because there is no one that they feel that they can fully support.

I tend towards the disillusioned side myself, but for a different reason that most of the people I know. My hope isn't in the next president or congress or any bill that they promise to enact or retract. I know  beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will fail me. Ultimately, there is not and never will be a perfect government or solution in this world. Are some options better than others? Absolutely! I am unashamedly pro-life and pro-small government, and my vote will reflect those things because I believe that they are better for the people who I care about.

But at the same time, my hope is in Jesus, not in the next person who promises to solve our nations problems. The reality is that we live in a sinful, broken world that will always reflect the fall. No leader, no matter how wise and just, can change that.

I do not believe, however, that this releases me from my political responsibility. I am called to love my neighbor and I believe that part of that responsibility is found in voting for the person who can best serve them. I believe that certain actions our laws allow are wrong and take away human rights. And so I will vote for the person who is most likely to restore those rights. As Christians, I believe that we are to be salt and light and I think that command extends past our business and social life and to the political arena.

Finally, voting is a privilege, no matter how much it seems like it isn't or that our vote doesn't matter. It is a precious and rare thing in most of the world to have any say at all in politics. And we have the privilege of voting regularly and in an organized fashion for the individual who we think would best represent us in government. It is a good thing.

And so when November comes around, I will vote, joyfully, knowing that whatever the outcome, I have done my best to obey the Lord's commands. But more than that, I will vote joyfully knowing that no matter what happens, my peace and future doesn't rest in the hands of whoever is elected to run our nation, but rather in the hands of the sovereign, loving Father who has saved me and loves me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thirsty for the Living God

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God. 
uMy soul thirsts for God,
for vthe living God.
When shall I come and wappear before God? - Ps. 42:1-2
It's so easy to read this Psalm and miss the meaning that the author intended. The author is not merely using an analogy so that we can read and sigh, "Oh that is a beautiful word picture." Rather, his heart is desperately thirsty for the Only One who can satisfy that thirst.

About a month ago, a dear friend and I were walking around Lake Murray. It was pretty hot, and while I had brought water, it was gone when we were still 2 1/2 miles away from our cars. Joy didn't have any water at all. Those last 2 1/2 miles were miserable. We kept talking about how much we wanted water, how we were going to stop by her house before we went to dinner just so we could have ice cold water, and how refreshed we would feel as we drank. By time we finished walking though, we didn't even want to wait the 10 minute drive back to her house. We stopped at a Starbucks less than 2 minutes away just to get some water. It never tasted so good. That day, our thirst was all-consuming.

I am thirsty. I am desperate for my heart, my life to be made new. I am desperate to know God more. I am longing to know and love and commune with Him as I walk through my days. I want to see His purposes fulfilled and His plans take precedence in my heart. I am thirsty to see more of His glory displayed in this world.

But I am also thirsty for that which I despise. I seek satisfaction in people, jobs, money and possessions.  I often care more about the opinions of others than of Him who created me with His words. I feel empty when my day goes wrong. I seek satisfaction in that which does not satisfy.

C.S. Lewis contends that if what we were desiring still leaves us empty, than it was not truly what we were desiring in the first place. His conclusion: "Earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."

That real thing is found in Jesus Christ. He is the only One who loves like He promised, who gives peace and rest like He promised, who fills like He promised, who satisfies the thirsty soul like He promised. All of these other things I run after promised to satisfy, but they fell short. My Jesus never has. So my prayer is that I hunger even more after Him. May we find ourselves always thirsty for the living God.

Monday, September 3, 2012

4 Ways to Love Early Mornings

Lately, I have been waking up between 5:30 and 6 every morning, and it has become my absolute favorite time of day. And this is coming from someone who all through college thought that 8:00 am was brutally early. There's been a big change lately, and there are several things that have helped me not only wake up early, but actually enjoy my mornings.

1. Go to bed on time
This really has been what made the biggest difference for me. I know that my body needs at least 8 hours (and preferable 9) to function well. So I am intentional about trying to go to bed at a time that will allow me to get 9 hours, which means that I usually get 8-8 1/2. Ensuring that you get enough sleep is the best way to ensure a sustainable wake-up time. And usually, as long as I get enough sleep most nights, then I have a few nights a week when I can stay up later and still enjoy my mornings.

2. Follow a routine
Every night, I pack my lunch, lay out my clothes, and plan out any errands I might need to run. This way, when I wake up early, I don't have to worry about remembering everything - I only have to assemble what I already planned. As a bonus, I also get to sleep a bit longer. In the morning, I also have a routine. When I wake up, I don't think about what to do - I just make my bed, work out, shower, eat, read my Bible, and head out for work. If I don't have to think about what to do first, then it's harder to convince myself that I should turn over and go back to sleep.

3. Do your favorite things
One of the reasons I love being up early is seeing the sunrise. Sometimes it's not particularly stunning, but three times in the last week, it was absolutely glorious. It's a piece of beauty that most people get to enjoy and as a result, it becomes a special time of praise and communion with the Lord for me. I also love having time to read my Bible in the morning, and so I make sure that there is time in my routine for that. That makes me look forward to waking up, rather than dreading doing the things I don't enjoy. I also try to finish everything I don't like the night before (packing my lunch, figuring out what to wear, etc.). If your mornings include your favorite things, it is so much easier not to hit snooze.

4. It takes discipline
This is the not-fun part of waking up. Some mornings, I absolutely do not want to get out of bed. And sometimes I will sleep for another half-hour. But most of the time, I just get up anyway. And I have never regretted it. Additionally, I usually wake up early even when I don't have to, which means that my body never has to adjust to major changes. On weekends, I will sleep in for an hour or so, but I never sleep past 8. Honestly, sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do because you know that the end result is worth it.

It's worth it. On mornings when I wake up and accomplish things before I get to work at 8, my whole day runs more smoothly. I find I have more joy and discipline in other areas of my life. Even better, my focus starts where it should be: on the Lord Jesus. When I don't wake up early, I have to "fit in" my time with the Lord later in the day. And that is not what I want my priorities to reflect.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Summer Bucket List Revisited

Well, since the first of September is here, I suppose that summer is finally over. So it's time to see how I did at completing my ideas for the summer!

- Try paddle boarding (Check! Loved it. Would totally go again.)
- Go camping (Well, this didn't happen. Not even close.)
- Spend a day in Balboa park (Or this one.)
- Run while the sun is setting (or this one. Too dang hot to run at night.)
- Go hiking! (And while I walked around Lake Murray many times, actual hiking didn't happen as well. This is discouraging!)
- Nap in the hammock (Yes! Lovely afternoons.)
- Enjoy ice cream on the beach (Check!)
- Go to the farmers market! (I did, and I tried figs for the first time and had an all around lovely time.)
- Eat gelato (It was great.)
- Read some of the books that have been sitting on my shelf for months... (This was actually more successful than I expected. I have spent quite a bit of time reading this summer, and it has been a blessing. Still many books to go though!)
- Watch fireworks on 4th of July (This was a resounding success. Turns out my backyard has a perfect view of a fireworks show that is only a quarter of a mile away. Best show I've seen.)
- See my brother juggle at the OC Fair (He was great!)
- Tour the Olympic Training Facility in Chula Vista (This didn't happen because by time I got around to thinking about it, all of the athletes were headed to London. So hopefully soon!)
- Have a picnic
- Find a good used bookstore in East County (I found one that I absolutely love.)
- Many, many frozen yogurt dates (Let's be real: this always happens, summer or not.)

Other exciting things that I did:
- Got my insurance license. So accomplished.
- Woke up several mornings to see the sunrise.
- Experienced a San Diego lightning storm. One of the most glorious things that I have seen.
- Watched a dear friend's son take his first steps. Precious.
- Went to Pageant of the Masters in LA with second row seats thanks to dear friends. It was fantastic.
- Tried fish for the first time! Swordfish specifically, and it was excellent.

And many other things I'm sure. This summer has not been without it's challenges, but it has been so much fun, and it has been full of time spent with dear friends. Now onto fall!