Monday, May 24, 2010

If God's promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless.
romans 4

Saturday, May 15, 2010

a life that's worth living

sometimes spiritual truths come in devotions. sometimes it comes through the wonderful people that you have in your life. sometimes it comes through strangers that you run into on the street. sometimes it comes through nature. sometimes it comes through tall, manmade structures. sometimes it comes through an accident, a spill, an unintentional blunder. and sometimes it comes as you're gasping for air, dropping boulders of sweat from your forehead, feet and legs numb from exhaustion.

today, i was reminded. why do i live? why do i exist? what is my purpose? what is my calling? i was reminded of a sermon that mike erie gave months ago. it changed up the way that i looked at life. the way i looked at sin. when we're sinning. when we're letting the wrong people influence us. when we're using drugs and shooting up. when we're drinking like there's no tomorrow. when we're looking at pornography. when we're sleeping around. when we're slandering, gossiping, deliberately holding onto bitterness and resentment. when we're willingly not forgiving people out of spite. let's NOT call that living for Christ. let's say it like it is. let's not sugarcoat it. let's not decorate with flowery terms and nice words. let's be real. that's just living for ourselves.

when people look at my life, what would they say? "wow, thien has a passion that i explain!" "he has a love that unlike anything that i've ever seen before!" "he has grace that is so undeserved!" "he's living a life that's worth living!" or would they simply say, "he's just like me." "he's playing it safe." "he says he's living for Christ but in reality, he's just living for himself."

sin. falling short of the mark. maybe sometimes, we're just too lax about it. thinking that we can conquer it on our own. maybe not even giving it much thought anymore. what does God's love letter to us say? repent. turn. around. and bolt. run as if your life depended on it. run towards Jesus. some of us haven't been running. if anything, we've been walking casually and occasionally taking a glance back at it.

no more. i'm asking God to fill me up again. Holy Spirit fall into my life. come crashing into me. fill my heart and my mind. let my actions be rooted in who You are and who You want me to be. let me be a beacon of light. change my heart, not my situation. push me out of my comfort zone. push me to depend more on You. i'm tired of feeling scared and running away from challenges. i'm tired of playing it safe. i'm tired of living "comfortably."

i step aside. i give you my life. for You to move. do what You want to do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches."

matthew 13

i think this is so cool. it's such a short passage but means so much. the jews always expected that the day the messiah would come would be great, big, and victorious. they were expecting fanfare, loud marching, battle cries. but the messiah did come. there was no fanfare, no loud marching, no battle cries. there were miracles, there were teachings, there were rebukes, there was betrayal, there was suffering. this isn't what it was supposed to be like. it wasn't supposed to be Jesus that rescued the israelites. it was supposed to be a military leader, a king. not a humble carpenter from a small town. but look at what happened. that mustard seed grew and grew and grew. the disciples prayed. the Holy Spirit came down. peter preached. people were saved. the church started growing. and here we are today. from that small ministry in a small region to the entire world. isn't it amazing?? it just blows my mind.

and i love this, too. that birds come and make nests in its branches. i guess birds were sometimes meant to symbolize unbelievers and sinners and here we see these "birds" coming to make their homes in this kingdom. people who were hopeless now find hope in the kingdom. they find hope in Jesus. they want to come and build their home in God. it's a beautiful picture.

i think we have to realize that the kingdom of God came in a really insignificant way, through the mustard seed, through Jesus. and our insignificant actions do make a difference. it may be simply hanging out with someone and living love out with them or it may be simply inviting someone to church. it might be just sharing a real conversation with someone or going the extra mile to help someone out. you never know that that little something that you did just planted a mustard seed and set that person on a head on collision with God. =] i never knew that 2 years ago, my whole life would change because someone close to me brought me along to a conference which would eventually lead me to turn around my walk with God. and here i am today, wanting to finish up my bachelor's in psychology so i can head to seminary and try to obtain my masters in divinity to become a youth pastor. what mustard seeds, little or seemingly insignificant things that happened in your life, that got you to where you are today? live out love now. sow those seeds! you never know where it'll take someone. =]

Monday, May 3, 2010

living out mercy

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

9 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue,10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?" (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
11 And he answered, "If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you work to pull it out? Of course you would.12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath."
13 Then he said to the man, "Hold out your hand." So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.

matthew 12

alright, i'm going to start skipping around in the gospel of matthew because i realized that i've gone over a lot of these same passages already haha.

here we have Jesus being tested by the pharisees. they want to catch Him messing up by getting Him to answer that it's ok to heal people on the sabbath. this shows how far off track that these men, these "followers of God," had gotten. they had made up so many rules so that they wouldn't break the old testament laws that they would let people go on hurting than dare to break the law. Jesus comes in to correct this misinterpretation of the law. if we look in the passage before this one and a couple passages before that, we hear Jesus saying that He desires mercy, not sacrifices. more than our religious traditions and rituals, He desires mercy. He desires true love and compassion for other people. yes, we have these certain traditions for a reason, to honor, to remember, to reflect, etc. but! it should never take the place of true LIVING for God.

the pharisees made it into religion. a system of rules and regulations that was devoid of love or fault. but today, we see a lot of us doing the same thing. we see a lot of christians caring more about being on time to church than helping someone who is in need on their way to church. what's more important? mercy? or sacrifice? don't we realize that we're honoring God even more by sacrificing our time to have mercy on other people? whereas, when we're just upholding these laws that we are having anything but mercy on others. there are some people on the other side of the fence too, though. there are people who throw the holiness, the beauty, of the sabbath to the side and don't honor it at all. i'm guilty of it myself. almost every sunday, for a while, i didn't think about God at all. i was just worrying about the next week or what i was supposed to get done that day. even when i set time aside to have a sabbath on another day of the week, i ended up spending zero time with God. sure, i got rest for myself, but i didn't get any rest in Him. i defeated the whole purpose of sabbath. i didn't remember Him, i didn't honor Him, i didn't let Him into that day to fill me up. like everything, there has to be a balance. there has to be a balance of not making following God into just a bunch of rules and regulations that are lacking in love. and there has to be a balance of not making following God a game, something that can be put on and off and taken not seriously at all.

i think it means really considering what you're doing. what having mercy on people really requires. what having true compassion and empath for people asks us to do to get out of our comfort zones. maybe it means just getting a drink with someone who is hurting, to be with them, to share and comfort them. i'm sure that having compassion on that person is so much bigger and more important than not drinking. i honestly hate parties. as in the loud music, lots of drinking, people running around making weirdos out of themselves. but if it means that i can somehow grow closer to someone and eventually have them feel comfortable enough with me to ask me about Jesus, i'm all for it. and i don't mean go off and do something completely off the charts like crash your car into a house so you can relate with someone who did the same thing, use discernment and wisdom. but i do mean to really look at the situation and ask, "how do i live out mercy in this?" instead of just passing up the opportunity. we saw Jesus do the same things, eating with the outcasts of society, having a party with the hated and despised, healing the gentiles, for us, non-christians. and honestly, i'd rather be like Jesus than the pharisees.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

He is

The Need for Workers

35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37 He said to his disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few.38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."

matthew 9

who else can admit that at least in one time in our lives, we've had bouts of confusion and helplessness. i'm willing to bet a lot of people in the world still feel the same way, even though they're not willing to admit it. especially in our culture, it seems like we all have to find our own way. we're faced with so many choices and roads that we don't know which one to choose. we end up changing majors time and time again. or we end up changing careers, even. some of us end up where we never intended to be and are simply stuck and that's where the helplessness comes in. the sense of "if i don't keep this job, if i don't go to this school, if i don't live up to society's expectations of me, i fail." and there's no way out of it. it's a scary spiral of us trying to live up to other people's expectations. so many of us are just trapped in this cycle of "living." school, job, family, retirement, die. pass it on. next. next. next. and this is where Jesus, the shepherd, comes in. i've probably talked about this before, but i love this one thing that mike erie shared with us at rockharbor one night. it's that following Jesus means giving up the rights to controlling your own life. but also that following Jesus means getting to give up the rights to running your own life. it's too hard to do it alone. He shows you where to go. He tells you what to say. He guides you. He gives me the freedom of living a life that isn't confined to a box and set structure. He is my shepherd, and i won't be wanting. He keeps me safe. He cares for me. He never leaves my side. i'm not as confused anymore. i understand a little bit more why. i'm not helpless anymore. i've got all the help i can get from Him. He strengthens me, encourages me, lifts me up. He is my rock and my fortress. i don't think i acknowledge that enough. i don't think i remember how confused or helpless i was before i met Him. thank God He found me.

the harvest is plenty. there are people who need to hear this message. that they are not alone, that they don't have to be confused anymore, that they don't have to feel helpless anymore. everybody needs to hear this. the prayer that Jesus asked His disciples to pray 2000 years ago is still so relevant today. we need more people to share this message with the world. there are breaking hearts all over the world today and they need to hear that God is here. He is strong. He is mighty to save. He is in control. He will not leave us. He is.