A Realization

•January 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Last semester was full of failures, frustrations, excitement, learning, pain, and joy. God taught me so much about who I am and more importantly, who He is. I think the most important lesson I learned, though, is that God doesn’t need me.

I think it is easy for us as humans to boast and marvel in the gifts God has given us, to pat ourselves on the back when what we are doing is good or successful. God had to construct a semester of my life where I would fail in areas I had never failed before. I struggled with tact. I had a hard time balancing my schedule. I constantly wanted to cancel ministry activities so I could have time for myself. I couldn’t memorize texts for the life of me. I made errors in approaching bible studies and non-Christians. I struggled with discipline in the most elementary of things. I constantly wanted to throw my hands up in the air and scream “I give up!!!”

I didn’t realize that was exactly what God was waiting for me to do; he was waiting for me to surrender control, to surrender self.  In starting a new semester, God is revealing fruit from work I didn’t do well.  I am humbled.  God doesn’t need me; He could accomplish this task on his own.  Nothing I do can spur on someones spiritual growth; nothing I do can spark a desire in someones heart to come to church or keep the sabbath; nothing.  Only by the Holy Spirit is the work accomplished; we are just the means.  I guess that realization is the first step.

Perfect love casts out all fear…

•November 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I spent most of the day at University of Michigan Hospital by the side of my aunt, Ann, as she had tests done. She has fought breast cancer for many years, but was in remission for the past two years.  Now, with the results of primary tests, it doesn’t look good.  Further testing will yield more specific results, but at this moment there is fear.  Talking with my aunt the verse from 1John 4:18 (Perfect love casts out all fear) kept coming to mind.  My aunt is a Godly woman; she has been a source of comfort and encouragement for me along my spiritual journey.  Though she is scared she is so hopeful; she has such a great love for Christ and His purpose for her; His perfect love is her constant strength and motivation.  In her mind, the fact that she is still here means that she has a purpose in Him to accomplish; if she doesn’t wake up tomorrow it will be because her purpose was accomplished.  I can’t imagine what my mindset would be if I was in her position.  Even in my minute struggles, do I lean on Christ’s perfect love?

Five years ago, Aunt Ann with her son Kalil (then 3 yrs)

Five years ago, Aunt Ann with her son Kalil (then 3 yrs)

Changed

•November 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

A friend of mine who used to work along side me with the middle school and high school youth groups at my old church heard I was sick and sent me this song to cheer me up.  We used to sing it during praise times and it always makes me happy for some reason.  I love the words and the message; it is definitely a song that gets me excited about ministry.

Changed- Aaron Niequist

In Jesus’ name, I’ve been changed, I’ve been filled, I’ve been found, I’ve been freed. I’ve been saved.
In Jesus’ blood, I’ve been loved, I’ve been cleansed and redeemed, and released, rearranged.
But how can I show You that I’m grateful? You’ve been so generous to me.
How can I worship more than singing and live out redemption’s melody?

I have been blessed – Now I want to be a blessing
I have been loved – Now I want to bring love
I’ve been invited – I want to share the invitation,
I have been changed to bring change, to bring change.

In Jesus’ name, we are changed, we are called, we are chosen, adopted and named.
In Jesus’ blood, we are loved, we are healed, we’re forgiven and free of our shame.
And we want to show you that we’re thankful, flooding Your world with hope and peace.
Help us worship more than singing, giving redemption hands and feet.

I have been blessed – Now I want to be a blessing
I have been loved – Now I want to bring love
I’ve been invited – I want to share the invitation,
I have been changed to bring change, to bring change

Thank you for this new life; thank you for the invitation!
God we want to live it loud enough to shake the nations in your name.

We have been saved – Now we’re gonna shout about the savior
We have been found- we’re gonna turn over every stone.
We’ve been empowered to love the world to Heaven.
We have been changed to bring change, to bring change.

Taking care…

•November 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I went to the doctor today because I have been sick for over a week and it is getting worse…all I want to do is sleep because at night I cant because I am coughing too much.  The verdict: Bronchitis.  First time in my life.  I am not a sickly person, in fact I usually know I have a bug when I get tired; I hardly ever get a stuffy nose, sore throat or upset stomach.  Meaning, my immune system is down.  I need to take better care of myself.  I need to be okay with taking a sick day if it means that I will get better now and do ministry tomorrow rather than let myself get so bad that I have trouble doing ministry for the whole week.  I need to get more sleep.  I need to drink more fluids.  I need to take better care of myself.

Religion, Race and Relationships

•November 10, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After the results of the presidential election and questions from students, Tammy suggested to me that we do a WIGHs night discussing the topic of interracial relationships and marriage. Unfortunately, because of travel and other factors, the ladies couldn’t come to the discussion night. However, I think it was a blessing; it gave me a lot more time to study and pray about the topic so I will be able to do a more well rounded and prepared presentation in the future. I have found, quite frankly, that though I support and would myself marry inter-racially if God willed it, I didn’t have a biblical reason for the view I held. Since this topic has consumed much of my studying and time lately, I thought I would share some of my findings and revelations.

CB001871

First: God forbade interracial marriage in the Old Testament and New based solely on religious differences

“…For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God; Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.” (Exodus 34:13-16)

Here we can see that God is not asking the Israelites not to marry outside their race because of color or culture itself, but rather because religiously the miscegenation would cause distention in worship practices and religious ideologies. Israelites were to marry within the church (as we are today, 1 Cor 7:39, 2 Cor 6:14). The “church” in the Old Testament was Israel; they were God’s chosen people and all other groups of people were pagan. From the passage above and from passages like Deut 7:3-4 we can see that the purpose for God’s instruction was because inter-religious marriage would cause Israel to deviate from the true worship of the true God. Other scriptures that illustrate this are found in Joshua 23:6-13; Ezra 9:1-2, 10-14.

Second: God blessed interracial marriages when both people were converted and worshiping Him

Exodus 12:37-38 shows us that when Israel left Egypt, a mixed multitude went up with them. In verse 43 God then explains that a stranger may not eat of the Passover. For a stranger to eat the Passover, he had to be circumcised (or converted spiritually—see Romans 2:28-29). Once a stranger was circumcised, the scripture says:

“he shall be as one that is born in the land …. One law shall be to him that is home born and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Exodus 12:48-49).

If a stranger becomes “as one that is born in the land” then it would no longer be wrong for this stranger to marry an Israelite, or for an Israelite to marry him/her because they both at that point would be in God’s eyes His children. Some examples of blessed miscegenation after conversion would be Moses and Zipporah (Ex 2:15-21), Rahab and Salmon (Joshua 2-6, Matt 1:5), and Ruth and Boaz (Ruth). If conversion didn’t occur, the consequences were quite negative. Israel was plagued for committing whoredom with Midianites—descendants of Abraham (Genesis 25:14). Solomon was rebuked for marrying, among others, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites—all descendants of Shem (Genesis 19:36-38; Genesis 36). In both cases the problem was clearly that these strange wives led the Israelites away from the true worship of the true God. The problem was inter-religious marriage, not interracial marriage.

Third: The impact of culture on marriage has eternal ramifications…

Among many things, through this study God has impressed upon me the eternal impact that my decision in a marriage parter has. It is no small decision.

Culture is important; it defines to a great extent who we are and where we come from, it makes us unique. However, in Christ there is no race or culture but His own. We are created in His image so it is safe to say that when we make a decision to surrender our lives and follow Him, we become part of a heavenly race. Thus since we are all part of this heavenly race at conversion there also must be a heavenly culture that precedes all worldly cultures. Our worldly cultures should not dictate decisions in our lives, especially on issues such as who we are to marry, where we are to live, where we are to go to church, and how we are to raise our children: God should (if our worldly culture is in line with God’s on a decision or topic, then great). This is where marrying outside our race (or outside our culture) can be difficult; a interracial relationship is bound to see trouble if one or both of the people don’t have their lives wholly consecrated to God. If a man’s family is telling him to raise his children one way and the woman’s family is telling her to raise their children another (based on culture), there will be conflict if they aren’t seeking God above all else. It is even worth mentioning that this issue is also common among couples of the same race; just because two people are white or two people are black or two people are asian doesn’t mean that their cultures, families and experiences are the same.

I am not advocating that we all should marry outside our race or within our race, because quite honestly some ministry (because of the effects of this social construct on society) would be best done by a racially homogeneous couple and some ministry would be best done by a couple of mixed race. Rather, what I am saying is that we as individuals need to examine ourselves in this area; we need to ask ourselves, am I wholly consecrated to God? Is He alone guiding my decisions and life? Do I lean more on God’s culture than my worldly culture for guidance? If my answer to any of these questions was no, I would consider that in marrying someone in the church who is fully converted, my mindset and conversion state could and would negatively effect their eternity as well as my own and possibly my children’s. That’s scary to me, and ultimately it makes me even more intent on self examination as well as cautious in my selection of a spouse. I can’t just marry a great Christian-Adventist man, he can’t just be or seem “converted.” He has to be willingly and actively choosing God above his culture; he has to say “In all things, God, your will and not mine (or my cultures) be done.”

…a snipit of current reading…

•November 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

“When he said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder – in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad…

…If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. (Mere Christianity, Ch 8 )

Praise

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I am praising God right now…He doesn’t let go of any of us. When He wants your heart and you are willing you better believe He will pursue you until He has you. I received an email finally from the Chinese contact I made during surveys one of the first weeks of the program.  I had all but given up on her since she hadn’t returned any of my emails.  Turns out they all went into a folder she rarely checks, and she happened to stumble upon them (So awesome to see God work and turn what Satan meant for bad into good). I was so full of joy to get her email letting me know she still wanted to meet up and get involved in activities the group put on.  I met with her at Starbucks and talked for an hour or so.  She is so kind and so open; as of right now she is planning on coming to potluck with me on Sabbath and to my small group on Sunday.  I bought her a Chinese-English Bible, but she has limited knowledge of Biblical things and is very self conscious about it.  I am praying for her; I know God brought her and keeps bringing her to me for a reason.