What’s New?

My life has changed a lot recently.

The summary is:

Boy met girl. Boy waited. Girl wasn’t interested. Boy pursued girl. Boy and girl fell in love. Boy proposed. Girl said “Yes!” Girl and boy are planning a wedding.

Check out the details here. 🙂


Fabulous Finds

Reading Scripture Fixed and Free

Learning from the Bible is undoubtedly good, but when is the last time that you just read it? Not to prepare for a lesson or to discern a principle or to understand theology but merely to rest inside a narrative? To feel the energy between sentences, to let a poem’s emotion wash over you, to feel the horror of Judges 19 and sublimity of Psalm 23? Maybe never. But this is what reading is. It’s approaching a text with the agenda of mere enjoyment.

Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married

If you’re single, Satan is after you. Okay, he’s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are.

Your Womanhood is Not on Hold

The ultimate mark of womanhood is hoping in God, not giving birth or loving a husband, though these are beautiful and God-glorifying privileges. They are just not where we root our identity. Whenever you’re tempted to question your value, always go back to the Bible. Do not listen to the internal voice sure to lead you astray.

Fight for Joy on Valentine’s Day

Fight the bitterness, the loneliness, perhaps even the despair. Fight for joy in the Savior.

Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life

My life looks better on the Internet than it does in real life. Everyone’s life looks better on the internet than it does in real life. The Internet is partial truths—we get to decide what people see and what they don’t. That’s why it’s safer short term. And that’s why it’s much, much more dangerous long term.

The Glory of Plodding

What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

The Value of a Tired Soul

If you’ve been in ministry for more than five minutes you know how wearisome it can be. We face the daunting daily task of helping people wrestle through crisis in a way that continues to honor God, even as we ourselves wrestle through crisis. Pastoral care can at times be exhausting. Counseling cases can fall apart. Church members can pass away. Key leaders can abandon the church. Some days I go into the office just plain tired. Tired of late nights and early mornings. Tired of phone calls and texts messages. Tired of loss and heartbreak. Tired of being tired. But I am convinced that for all Christians there is real value in a tired soul.

One Year at Seminary

It has been one year. One year in a new place that has quickly become my home for this time in my life. There have been many lessons, some hardships, abundant joys. But everything has been a blessing. I have received nothing from the Lord except grace. I truly believe that each and every happiness and sorrow in my life is a gift from God. There is no other way I can see these things. The times I’ve stumbled also are gifts that God has allowed to teach me more about myself and about Him.

Joy has been stirred up in my heart like never before. The riches given to me in Christ Jesus are truly abundant and satisfying.

In the midst of tremendous joy, I have also been saddened in deeper ways than before. I don’t consider myself a very emotional person–though I realize some would disagree with me–and the fact that I don’t feel others’ sorrows deeply has concerned me. The Lord has brought along situations, however, that have developed this capacity in me. I want to feel empathy, not just speak compassionate words, and the Lord is generously granting this desire.

There are ‘high places’ even in the valley, where God causes some of his sweetest springs to flow. Trials are steps heaven-ward; sorrows steps God-ward, in the experience of the saints. –Octavius Winslow
Let us suppose the thing we are most afraid of actually to happen. Can it come a moment sooner, or in any other way, than by His appointment? Is He not gracious, and faithful, to support us under the stroke? Is he not rich enough to give us something better than ever He will take away? Is not the light of His countenance better than life and all its most valued enjoyments? Is not this our time of trial; and are we not traveling towards a land of light? – John Newton

During my first two semesters, I lived in the dorm on campus. The community that was fostered by living in the same hall as girls who became my best friends is a blessing like none I’ve experienced before. I also loved beholding the view of the campus out of my window and walking out of my dorm onto the center of the beautiful grounds. For one who had never experienced a campus life, immersion in it proved to be very helpful in transitioning to life away from my family. I’m honestly not speaking hyperbolically. Yes, there were and are challenges. But even challenges are a welcome part of the adventure of life.

The friendships. They have been so overwhelmingly good. As my group of friends includes both men and women who are serious about knowing the Lord and edifying others, I consider myself undeservedly blessed in yet another aspect of life.

My church family. I’ve never had to become part of a congregation of believers without my parents and siblings, so this was a new step. However, my new church family welcomed me with open arms, and settling in has never happened so quickly as it has here. Furthermore, to again be part of a congregation that deeply desires and appreciates the preaching of God’s Word is something that I must not take for granted.

On July 1st, I moved into a house with 6 other girls. Though I do miss being on campus, the benefits of living in a house are already great. The comfort of a home, constant companionship, and edifying conversations that happen almost every day characterize a time that I will look back on with gratefulness. Some fun facts about our group of 7:

  • We maintain 7 different nationalities.
  • Each person is at least bilingual.
  • English is spoken by all, but conversations among sets of residents also occur in Chinese or German.

Though I do have a very international background, there is so much for me to learn about relating to those of different cultures, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to live with sisters who come from 6 different nations. It’s a foretaste of Heaven!

I’ve written before that the greatest lessons I’ve learned at seminary include how bad I am and how good God is. I must add that it is really only He Who knows what I need, and that He works all the details in my life to give me those things. If His blessings depended solely on my supplication for them, I would be very meagerly blessed. As things are, He has blessed me way beyond what I ever hoped.

There can be no security felt unless we satisfy ourselves of the truth of a divine superintendence, and can commit our lives and all that we have to the hand of God. –John Calvin

I probably sound like a broken record continually talking about being blessed. But what else can I say? I swim in an ocean of God’s grace that is filled with blessings. If you think hard enough, I think you’ll find that you do, too. If you don’t know the grace and blessing of God, perhaps you don’t personally know His greatest blessing, His Son Jesus Christ, Who created everything and for Whom all things exist. I’ve spent a year here seeking to pursue Him more, and I hope to spend my next short while here continuing to do so. May He give me strength to run the race well, looking to Jesus more and more as each day passes.

My judgment has esteemed God, even his holiness, the most desirable good, and I would be a partaker of his holiness whatever it cost me; and have generally been willing of and thankful for the smartest discipline, in hope of that desired effect, and still would be more holy, though by sickness, pain or any other affliction; having always esteemed sin the greatest evil, and now for many years my bitterest affliction, though in some hurries, have not felt the most sensible mournings for it.
As I have chosen God for my portion, so I stand by my choice and rejoice in it above all the world; and, through his grace assisting, resolve never to forsake him, though I die for it–which I shall never do without extraordinary assistance, having no natural courage. I have chosen the way of God’s precepts as the means to this end, and have deliberately, entirely, rejoicingly given myself over to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and prefer his love to all the world . . .
O how bountifully has God dealt with me, while he has loved me from death to life.
–From the diary of Miss Elizabeth Bury, September 27, 1690

Jesus and Peter – a story of grace upon grace

Disclaimer: The following is not all original. Though it is a compilation of my thoughts when reading the passages, some of the thoughts were prompted by a friend who shared with me what one of her professors at seminary shared about the passages. Whatever may be accurate/beneficial is certainly expressed more eloquently and thoroughly elsewhere and by those more qualified and learned than I.

John 18:15-17,25-27 and John 21

In both of these stories, it could be assumed that John plays a part in bringing Peter closer to Jesus. John (presumably) brings Peter in to the courtyard (18:16). John tells Peter that Jesus is on shore (21:7) before he jumps out of the boat and swims to Jesus. I want to be like John–not giving up on someone who has demonstrated disloyalty to Jesus.

The way Jesus relates to people is absolutely mind-blowing. Not only does it prompt gratitude in my heart, it is very challenging to me. I tend to display less grace and faith than He does. Though Jesus had originally called His disciples away from their fishing trade (Mark 1:16-20), He had to do so again (21:1-12). What patience! Though Peter committed a heinous crime against the Lord by denying Him three times around a charcoal fire (18:18), Jesus demonstrates tremendous compassion and mercy toward Peter by commissioning him around another charcoal fire (21:9). Though Peter broke (18:17-18,25-27) his promise (Mark 14:26-31) to value Christ more than his reputation, Jesus does not give up on him. Jesus comes back to him, asking him to pledge his life for the gospel (21:15-19). The topic of conversation between Peter and the people around the first charcoal fire concerned identity. Was he one of Christ’s disciples, or not? What do I proclaim about my identity through my conversations? Do I proclaim that I belong to myself or that I belong to the Lord? At the second charcoal fire, Jesus confirms that Peter is His.

Jesus asks Peter to be like Himself–seeking, feeding, and keeping sheep, not running away when tribulation comes (John 10:11-16). Of course, ultimately it is Jesus Himself Who does all this with His sheep, but He has also ordained the means of human shepherds overseeing (Acts 20:28) the flock of God. It is sobering to imagine what Peter felt (21:17) when being questioned by Jesus. Surely he remembered denying Him thrice; what humiliation he must have felt being face to face with the One he denied. So many times I have practically denied Christ by choosing my own way rather than His. Yet, He keeps giving me opportunities to choose correctly. Jesus shows me no less mercy than He showed to Peter. What will I do with it? I pray that He will make my answers and choices passionately committed to His glory.

At the end of Jesus’ conversation with Peter, He prophecies how Peter will die as a result of following Him. This too is amazing. Jesus here implies that Peter will stay faithful to Him and that He will never cast Peter aside. Jesus is promising to forever hold on to Peter, and this to one who completely did not deserve it. He has promised the same to me (1 Peter 1:3-5). Marvelous mercy.

And then, Jesus issues a final call: “Follow me.” As in other portions of Scripture, this confirms that not only does Christ keep the sheep in His flock, but they also stay with Him. This mystery is one I accept by faith in the evidence of Scripture, and cannot fully explain. All I know is that God will keep me, and one way in which He accomplishes this is by making me want to be kept.

But the story isn’t finished yet. Peter seems like he still hasn’t understood the lesson when he asks about John’s future. Jesus again doesn’t give up on Peter but again tells him to follow Him and not worry about what He has planned for others (21:20-23). Amazing. Jesus showers grace upon grace on those who belong to Him.

Here, in the story of Peter, I see again that I am wretched and Jesus is wonderful.

Christ had no regrets

“It is finished.” – from John 19:28-30

I don’t believe that Jesus was merely a moral example for the world. However, as a follower of Christ, I am called to become more and more like Him. He had no regrets over His life on earth. He completely fulfilled the purpose for which He came. A big portion of His work entailed pouring into a certain group of people that would carry His message far and wide.

He didn’t spend time surfing the web. Nothing is recorded of Him searching for the best deals on products He wanted to purchase. He never spent time worrying about the future. He never turned away people because He was tired.

Every moment was spent doing what was truly best for those He led and those who observed His life. The souls of people were His concern. When I get to the end of my life, I want to be able to say, like Jesus, that I accomplished the work for which He placed me on this earth. I want to have no regrets. I want people to know Christ as a result of knowing me. I want to live a full life for the glory of God. I want to be concerned about what Jesus was concerned about. I believe that Jesus shows me how.

I'm just like them

“When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” – John 19:6

What a masterfully planned out series of events. God caused Pilate to find Jesus innocent. Then Pilate delivered Jesus to the crowd to do what they wanted with him. Just considering this verse, had Jesus been found “guilty” in court, there may have been an additional cause for my heart to blame the political system for Jesus’ death. As it is, the people are those who pursued Christ to death. How merciful it is of God to have planned it this way so that even in this passage my sin is emphasized. I am just like those people. I am just like the thief on the cross. I have a heart of evil and rebellion against Jesus, and the only reason that I will not be sent to hell for it is the fact that Christ looked upon me, like He looked upon the thief hanging beside him, and said “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”(Luke 23:43) Such mercy. Such love. Such cause for me to leave all and follow Him.

“My life began like any other man
Held beneath a mother’s loving gaze
Somewhere between now and then
I lost the man I could have been
Took everything that wasn’t mine to take
But Love believes that it is not too late
Only one of us deserves this cross
A suffering that should belong to me
Deep within this man I hang beside
Is the place where shame and grace collide
And it’s beautiful agony
That He believes it’s not too late for me
This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins
Did you see this moment from the start
That we would drink this of cup of suffering?
I wonder, did we ever meet?
Childhood games in dusty streets
For all my many sorrows and regrets
Nothing could compare to just this one
That in the presence of my King
I cannot fall upon my knees
I cannot carry You up to Your throne
You instead, will carry me back home.
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood, Nothing but the blood
Because this is what Love say, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
And silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins. ”
– Steven Curtis Chapman

New Year 2012

It’s a new year. As I think back to resolutions that I made last year, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the fact that my salvation doesn’t depend on my rate of success in fulfilling them. God’s grace has amazed me over and over in 2011. Though I have failed Him over and over, He hasn’t let me go.

One year ago, I was already pursuing graduate school, but truly had no idea what was in store. Although I did complete my application and did the research, I feel like God took me by the hand and led me through the dark. Now, I look back on the semester and see a little of why God took me to where He did. And I can only offer praise to Him. Some blessings in being at seminary are as follows:

– constantly hearing the Bible explained

– seeing God’s work in the hearts of others

– being challenged to share the gospel

– having time to read excellent books

– living real life with sisters and brothers in Christ

– building life-long edifying relationships

– growing in appreciation of God’s Word

– seeing myself as wretched and Jesus as wonderful

In four weeks, my second semester will begin, and I am completely excited about delving deep into my studies. My time at seminary will be short, and thus it is my desire to make the most of it.

As I consider resolutions for 2012, I can only think of one.

In all of my activities, I will seek to be reigned by the pursuit of knowing Christ and making Christ known.

The specifics will not, at the moment, be revealed on my blog. As the year progresses, I hope to contemplate ways in which the above resolution affects my daily life.

Seminary Orientation Quotes

Today was orientation for all new students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Below are two quotes from talks that were given throughout the day. They challenge me. What a rich time my study here will be.

The problem is not that women are not submissive. They’re submissive to men (plural). A woman should picture the gospel in submitting only to the right man as the church submits only to Christ. – paraphrase of a portion of Dr. Russell Moore‘s excellent sermon on Ephesians 5 during chapel time

“Theology lives, breathes, loves, and bleeds.” – a current student who spoke to all of us in the School of Theology

Friday Finds

Note: The remainder of my Choosing Gratitude study has been postponed until further notice. I am now at seminary and, as time permits, my blog readers will certainly be given a glimpse into what I’m studying here.

I recently received an invite to Spotify, and have a Meredith Andrews playlist that I’ve been enjoying listening to. Here are a couple of her songs that are particularly meaningful:

Treasure – Grasping the truth proclaimed in this song is the reason that I am here. There’s no lesson that could be greater.

Never Move On – It’s all about Him.

Choosing Gratitude 16

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever! Psalm 30:11-12

151. Special needs children.

152. Little children singing.

153. God-honoring Sunday School curriculum.

154. Rain.

155. God’s answers to prayer.

156. The power of a true understanding of grace in rejecting legalism.

157. An intact family.

158. Hardships of the Christian life.

159. God’s chastisement.

160. Ministries to international students.