Prayer: Light for the Heart

Monday, February 19, 2018

This draft has been sitting in the unpublished folder since July 2017. 

I wanted to make a post about prayer, but to this day I struggle to pray; my struggle is due to the idols I have in my heart. 

What are my idols?

- social media
- youtube
- me: feelings
- food
- material things
- Acceptance from others
- Praise

I lack discipline in many things, and easily cave when the thing of this world seems to promise me a spurt of satisfaction. Regardless if it's temporary or long lasting, the instant feeling of satisfaction and a spike in contentment makes me go back, or even worse, seek for more of it in as many outlet as possible. 

As a Christian, I am called to be humble because I am a child of God, redeemed through Christ. Jesus Christ was humble, so humble that he did not see equality with God something to be grasped, but at the moment he was called, he sacrificed himself on the cross. I believe in this Good News, that through Christ's sacrifice, my sins have been forgiven, and I am cleansed. 
However, there are moments, far too many, when I am more inclined to focus on the earthly. My desires for the things of this earth become far too great that I end up thinking that this earthly route is much better than God. What if there is no eternity and I regret that I did not live to my fullest?

I remember watching a Veritas Forum clip, and one of the professors who was declaring his faith, when asked how he'd feel if his beliefs were proven wrong and that there was no God, the professor responded that he would do nothing differently. For him, he was not living the way he was living, a life after God, reluctantly. There was no regret or a sense of missing out in the way he was currently living his life because the way he was living was in full contentment. He was quite happy and would not change anything in his life to 'live more' in this world. 

When I live life, my prayer to God and daily pursuit of Him should be so that I am reminded of that very joy. I can't produce happiness and satisfaction on my own because I am swayed by my own feelings. I'm not very organized, but instead am more spontaneous based on what I want. Perhaps then, the prayer I need to be praying must focus on asking God to reveal the greater truth of His majesty, and for me be rooted in joy and feelings only from God. My prayers should ask the almighty king to form my thoughts and my feelings. 

Prayer is essential. It's not a supplication to get to know God, but it's a necessity in having a relationship with Him. How do you expect to experience love from the bridegroom when you never talk with him?

These days, my anxieties have been flaring up. I can't really pinpoint the reason, maybe I've fallen in to past habits to bring in to light my old routines from when I was anxious. However, I pray that this light that shines on these issues in my life grows so that I can see that God is nonetheless by my side. How blessed and lucky enough to have been born and raised in an area where I have the religious comforts and freedom to express my faith, to grow in my walk, and to openly love the Lord? How lucky am I to be living a comfortable life? 

The challenge for me is to glorify God in my comforts, not glorify myself. The challenge is for me to get out of my comfort zone and move, grow, expand for his kingdom. The more I grow comfortable, the less I find myself willing to worship Him. Worldly comfort becomes so dangerous, putting many Christians in idleness. During these idle times we put our guards down, and it's the perfect time for the enemy to pounce. 

My Cup Overflows

Monday, July 10, 2017

This past week God has reminded me of how he overflows my cup through my interactions with individual people. His faithfulness has once again been reflected in how he has been moving in individual people, and quite frankly I was reminded of how intricate and powerful conversations can be.

Halfway into the summer program at my work, I wanted to reflect on my heart these past several weeks as I had felt this growing burden towards all the looming events and programs that needed to be accomplished. When people ask about the summer program at my work, I catch myself portraying a sense of dread, rather than joy, in the amount of work that needs to be done; I've somehow construed the path to the finish line of the final product as a burdensome journey despite the joyful hope of what can come about at the end, an ending formed from an amalgamation of the experiences found in the process going towards that end. 

This morning I had the chance to reflect back on the story of Rahab the prostitute and her faithfulness. Once again I was reminded of how far and limitless God's grace extends, even to a prostitute who would have been viewed as unclean and thus unable to serve the Lord. 

"And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath." (Joshua 2:11)

What's so beautiful about this passage is that Rahab's and her family's hearts were softened, melted, towards obedience and faithfulness in the Lord because of how God was glorified through the faith of others. She had heard about how God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, and how the Israelites, guided by the Lord, were able to defeat the two kings of the Amorites. (Joshua 2:10)

Recently, something I've noticed about myself while at work was that I've become short in patience, feeling as if people were not respecting my time due to their selfish desires to accomplish what they wanted without being considerate of what I needed to complete. I've come to understand that such short patience was the fruit of wanting a sense of assurance in times of constant busyness. 

What assurances do I want in times when I am stretched and left little room for comfort? Honestly, I want to feel assured in success and approval by others, hoping that such would compensate for my stress and tiredness. 

However, Rahab, a prostitute who would have been assured by her culture to be a failure, was praised for her faithfulness to the Lord, which her actions emulated.

"By faith, Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies." (Hebrews 11:31)

By faith Rahab had risked her life and her families' life for the glory of God, a God she had heard of through those who were faithful to Him. 

God has been quite gracious to me this past week because despite feeling overwhelmed with work, he has once again used those faithful to Him to bless me with his truth. I am reminded that my assurance should not be found in this world, but through faith in which he graciously reminds me through my interactions with a community that praises Him. 

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

I thank the Lord for the assurance in Him through Christ, and the renewed spirit that he has blessed me with this week in how I view work and my ability to work with a community that is thirsty for the King. 

Being so focused on the path towards the end of the summer program made me forget to look to Christ who modeled the heart we should carry through all circumstances. 

"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right had of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus endured the cross, while despising the shame falsely presented in regards to his truth, in pursuit of the Joy set before him. As Jesus is the perfect model for my faith, exemplifying the heart in which I should pursue all things in joy found in the glory of God, I pray that my heart would find assurance in things hoped for and in convictions not seen. And yet, I also recognize that as he is the perfecter of our faith, I cannot do this alone, but only through Christ whose sacrifice has allowed me to declare such faith. I pray that the foundation of my assurance would be built not on unstable sand, but on the rock that securely holds the convictions of my faith.

It is through faith that I am assured in the Lord and recognize that through His providence, my cup overflows beyond my own capacity. Argh! My heart is full as I delight in the Lord for he is sovereign.

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord

(Psalm 23)

How much weight do your words hold?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:46 - 48

While working at my job, I find myself asking my kids "How are you today?" and will get the same response of "Good" or "Bad." I pester them to elaborate, but they simply respond with the same one word answer. However, there are those moments when you ask that question, and someone becomes brutally honest, despite their age. And then I find myself trying to think of words of comfort that sound loving and caring, but does not sound condescending, as if I was trying to (intentionally or not) smother that person of their independence. I found myself asking this generic question, a question which we are taught to say at a young age for etiquette purposes or to avoid awkward pauses, without truly evaluating my own heart. 

Matthew 5:46-48 commands us to love even those who are our enemies; to take things a step back, Christ shows us how to love on others who we may find difficult to love. When we find people difficult to love, it may possibly be someone who has wronged us, hurt us, or even people we may find to be socially unrelatable. However, what if when we throw this generic question of "How are you?" out there like usual someone were to spill out their deepest darkest thoughts, those thoughts that might make us feel uncomfortable, thoughts that really show how one is doing? Are we as Christians, saved by grace and thus called to love one another as Christ loves us, equipped to respond? 

I know there are times where I'm caught off guard, and don't quite know what to say without intruding on that person's personal space, but I'm reminded by this passage that we're called to be perfect as our Father is perfect. Yet, I know I'm not perfect, and I see my deepest darkest flaws within me, those past mistakes and wicked thoughts that if shared to others might send them running. Luckily, I also am aware of my identity in Christ, and that although I as a person am not perfect, I am perfected through the salvation by the mercy and grace of God poured out through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross; it is through this lens of truth in my identity that I strive to view others. Romans 5:8 perfectly delineates God's heart: But God shows us His love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

I've come to realize that even the small and sometimes invaluable phrases or words that we say to initiate a conversation or to relay a greeting have great meaning when rooted in our intentions to glorify God. I catch myself constantly saying these words out of courtesy, and I am reminded that each interaction with a person can bear fruit to become a fellowship in God. 

When I was struggling with many things in the past, the one thing I absolutely hated was when people tried to give me advice based on their own experiences that did not seem to correlate at all with my life and experience. There was no common thread that I could relate to, and felt like I was not being understood. 

I recognize that there are people who are struggling just as much in their lives, even more, whether it be a personal struggle or a hardship caused by others. My prayer is that we as Christians, a community of believers who hold faith in the truth that we can go forth to our heavenly Father because of the propitiation of our sins by Jesus Christ, can truly be the reflection of Christ's love through our own personal experience and understanding of the unconditional love given to us by God. That despite not fully understanding the struggles of another person, that we may understand that the common thread we hold is our salvation in Christ and our identity as beloved children of God.

In our current society, it's so difficult for us to see ourselves in other people's shoes, sometimes believing that we're much better than those who have committed serious wrongs and those who may hold a negative image in our community, but I believe that as people founded on the truth of Christ, that we can overpass such mentality and exemplify a depth of love that cannot be identified in this world alone. 

Wrestling with Faith in a Public Platform

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

About a year ago, I posted an opinionated post regarding my faith and walk with God. Quite frankly, it was a long tirade of why I did not believe in God and why I had walked away from faith, a post fueled with emotion and a false grasp of the "truth." When I look back at some of my old posts on Facebook, including that (now deleted, phew) hot mess of a blog post, I realize that I catch myself being quite embarrassed as to my ideological thought processing of that time. Bare in mind, that blog post was merely posted a year ago, but in a span of 12 months, God has truly wrestled with me (laying a few smackdowns here and there) and my sinful heart. However, I wanted to discuss more about the aftermath of returning to God, after a time of wandering in a world I thought was correct.

As I join a new church and gain a new community of believers, I can't help but feel a familiar wave of insecurities regarding a set image I am expected to portray. Ironically, it's not during the in person communication that I feel these insecurities, but rather during the moments of self-portrayal via social media. When I was in college, I had struggled deeply with being viewed as "righteous and holy" in the eyes of my peers. Certain Facebook posts, mentions, tags, videos, etc were sometimes hidden from my timeline in fear of creating a realm of judgement from the very community I had thought I could lean on. The sobering reality was that I found many people struggling with feeling judged and defined by how they portrayed themselves on social platforms, and that ultimately they became burnt out and alone. 

The idea of feeling alone among a community of believers is terrifying when you realize that although we gather under the same notion of being the body of Christ, we as human beings struggle to accept those who may be different from us in behavior or thought process. The heartbreaking stories I hear all too common begin with "I grew up going to church all my life..." and end with "... and because I was hurt by the church, I decided to leave." I am very fortunate to have had a community of faithful believers embrace me with prayer during the few years I struggled with my faith. When I meet with some former college classmates, I'm met with the initial surprise of how they had seen me as an active member of the church, taking part in different leadership roles, and could never imagine the internal struggles I had with a community that I had been so actively a part of. 

My prayer this week, as I focus in on my insecurities as well as the the overflowing gratitude I have towards the old and new community of believers God has brought in my life, is that since we as a whole body of Christ cannot simply, through our own strengths, try and reflect the love of God to those around us, that the love and care for each other would be a product of the overflowing love of Christ that has embraced our lives. A community, like any family, will have its disagreements and arguments, but I pray that the foundation of our communities of believers would be based on not our own discomforts of trying to get along with people who are completely different from ourselves, but that we may love and develop relationships with empathy of knowing the truth of our salvation and identity. 

Almond Butter & Banana Toast

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Although I initially started this journey as an experiment, my vegan challenge has been oh so lovely. I've learned many new tricks and recipes to make food fun and enjoyable. Here, I'll share some of the recipes that I've learned for all the enjoy. :)

After sleeping in, I just craved a healthy breakfast for lunch. 
Today's menu? Almong Butter & Banana Toast; Green Juice on the side. 

* is what I used in my recipe

- 1 cup | Almond: Unsalted for a sweeter flavor* or salted for a saltier flavor
- 2 - 3 tbsp | Coconut oil: Unrefined for a sweet flavor with hint of coconut* or refined
- sprouted bread

1. In a food processor or blender, blend almond until it becomes a fine grain
2. Add 1 - 2 tbsp of coconut oil and blend again until the almonds have a mud-like texture. Make sure to scrape the side of the food processor/blender as well as direct the almonds to the center because the thickness of the almonds may make the substance difficult to blend. 
3. Add the remaining coconut oil into the blender and continue to blend for a minute or two until the texture wanted is established. If you want a creamier texture, add more coconut oil until you've reached the desired texture.
4. Add salt (optional)
5. Enjoy~

Let's conquer this year!

Friday, July 24, 2015

  1. Yoga
  2. Read more books
  3. Paint
  4. Manage finances better
  5. Calligraphy
  6. Sell something online
  7. Less computer, more exploration

You of little faith

Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's too easy to be distracted and lost in a world that seems to offer much. Yet Christ has countlessly shown that He is enough for us. Such ideology is a common belief, but why is it that there are numerous times when I become so afraid of what I lack? I will admit that there are far too many times when I wish to forever hide from the world, so consumed by the feelings of inadequacy. When I reflect on my day, all that I can highlight are my mistakes and what those mistakes have produced, whether bad outcomes or judgement from others. I have somehow prioritized people's judgements over God's judgement.

When the disciples were so afraid that they would perish in the storm, they failed to realize that their savior was aboard the boat, resting instead of fretting.

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  25 And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." 26 And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of litte faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him? 

- Matthew 8:23-27 

I understand it is a difficult topic to discuss, but the Book of Revelation truly displays the depths of life. In the end, we will all stand before the great white throne (Revelation 20), before our God, and he will judge us through his perfect justice. I look at my life and my heart, and I see the wickedness within, the sinful person that I am. I am on the track to perish without Christ. 

These things are truths in my life, yet I do not lean on these truths during times of hardship. Rather, like the sinful person I am, I lean on my own strengths and emotions to decide how to take the next steps in life. Time and time again I am reminded of what little faith I hold, just as Christ rebuked his disciples and demonstrated that he is the way to life. O you of little faith. 

It's mind boggling to think that the disciples, after witnessing all of Christ's miracles, doubted Christ during times of hardship. The fear of man is deadly when man himself is allowed to take the reigns of his emotions. Just as Jesus slept and found rest during the storm, we are also called to find rest in Jesus when the storms continue in our lives. It is in the truth of Jesus, who he is and what he has done for us, that we find rest and the strength to turn to God. 

May these thoughts and words not be fruitless throughout my week, but may I hold dear on to these truths.

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