Monthly Archives: December 2010

for auld lang syne

So long 2010.

Every year flies in and out faster the older I get. My elementary years seemed like an eternity packed into 10 years. Middle school seemed to slink slowly by. Each year in high school went by progressively faster. College went by in light speed, or what is it called on Star Trek, warp?  I somehow ended up a college graduate with a job.

Now, I’m sitting in my apartment in Chiang Mai, wondering where 2010 went.

I’ve been reminiscing about what’s taken place the last year. Here are just a few thoughts.

In the past year I:

-Celebrated Christmas and New Years in Taiwan

-Moved back to Thailand

-Begun my first full-time job, which has been my dream job since middle school

-Studied Thai again

-Traveled on my first work trip

-Learned to see poverty through God’s eyes

-Visited four new countries

-Was in my best friend’s wedding

-Had six months where my brother and I were both in Chiang Mai

-Watched my brother graduate high school

-Traveled through Turkey and Greece with my family

-Got to be a part of media relating to the World Cup and the Lausanne World Evangelization conference

-Traveled back to China

-Learned more about Thai festivals

-Made many dear Thai friends

-Hung out with awesome journeymen

-Swam with whale sharks

-Learned how to surf

-Zip lined through the jungles of Thailand

I am praying that this next year God becomes more and I become less. Last year was a good year. But, there are a lot of things from last year that I wish I could change or do differently.

“God is the God of our yesterdays, and he allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present,” Oswald Chambers.

I’m looking forward to a year of closer intimacy with God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Yes, Virginia, there is a God

“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”

As I sat on my balcony this morning, sipping my gingerbread coffee and sampling my scrambled eggs, I realized I couldn’t see the mountain that’s just a few miles from my apartment. The mountain, except for mornings like this, is always visible and is my landmark in Chiang Mai.

I woke up to mist, rain and clouds. The rain is what obscured the mountain from my perch. Do I doubt that the mountain is there, just because I can’t see it right now?

No.

This mountain has been a stalwart in my life. From when we first moved to Chiang Mai when I was a 10 year old who wore jumpers and side ponytails, to my 17-year-old self who wore Soffe shorts and Grace International School athletic gear and finally, to my 23-year-old self who wears wrinkly shirts and flip flops, the mountain has been a reminder of God’s majesty. I’ve learned a lot about the Lord from this mountain.

Virgina O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, asking if Santa Claus existed. Her friends told her he didn’t exist. The only place he seemed to exist was in and on “Miracle on 34th Street.” Virginia had never seen Santa, so how was she to know he existed?

I’ve heard many people say, how do I know God is real? I have never seen him.

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see,” Francis Pharcellus Church, the editor of the New York Sun, wrote.

“They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge,” Church continued.

Skepticism has taken the place of a child-like faith.

I couldn’t see the mountain this morning. Yet, it is there. I’ve had mornings when I sit and gaze at the mountain, feeling so close to God. I’ve had great times spent in the Word gazing at the mountain. It’s easy to believe when everything is spelled out, when we are having a mountain-top experience.

When the rain comes, when life isn’t as clear and spelled out, it’s harder. But the rain is needed, just as the earth needs rain to grow and flourish, so also do we need rain.

Rain nourishes. It isn’t always pleasant. Times of growth in our life, where we are stretched and when hard lessons come, help us become more like our Creator. They are for our good. The mountain is still there in these times of growth, during rainy seasons. God is still there during hard times. He may feel farther away than He did when you were on the mountain top, but He is so close, He is always there, as a strength and support.

He’s proved this is all of our lives, if we are willing to be honest. We choose to ignore the mountains sometimes, or forget they are there. But they are there. You can’t pretend the Himalayas aren’t there. You may forget, but they’ve been there much longer than you have. Just as the mountains have always been in our world, since God created them, God has always been there. He wants to have a relationship with you.

“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see,” Church wrote.

Isn’t that true though? The most real things in this world are things we cannot see.

“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

Yes, Virginia, there is a God. He exists because He IS love, generosity and devotion. These qualities exist in our lives to give our lives its highest beauty and joy.

“Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

God lives forever, ten times ten thousand years from now, God exists, and makes glad the hearts of children, men and women. Let’s remember that this Christmas. He is the reason for the season after all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

prayers for the persecuted

I recently read the testimony of a believer who experienced tremendous persecution.

He was beaten for being a Christian and nearly lost his life. He’s experienced what it means to suffer for Christ. I can’t even imagine.

Platt’s book, “Radical,” that I’ve referenced several times, encourages us to pray for the entire world as part of radical experiment in the next year.

I’d like to encourage you to pray for the persecuted believers around the world. Pray for the men and women in India and Bangladesh who take lashes for Jesus. Pray for Christians in Iraq, in the Middle East who die for their Savior. Pray for brothers and sisters in the most populated country on earth who meet underground.

These men and women don’t pray for the persecution to stop. They pray for strength and faith to stand strong. As you pray, pray that the Lord would be their comfort, and that He’d grant them faith and grace to withstand.

The Bible never promises being a Christian will be easy, and these believers aren’t putting their trust in Christ to be comfortable.

Stephen, the first martyr, didn’t have to give the speech he did, standing up to the authorities. He stood up for what he believed, even if it meant stoning. His last words were a prayer for his attackers, that they’d find forgiveness.

In the testimony of the believer I mentioned earlier, the believer said God has provided for all of his needs. He continues to pray in the midst of the storm.

How easily I complain about the minutest things. It’s a reality check to read testimonies of persecution, especially after I’ve just complained about something as small as someone who did something annoying to me.

I had an awesome Thanksgiving season this year. I was able to celebrate four times. And what I’ve realized, through Bible reading, personal experience and reading testimonies of believers, is that I think giving thanks, thanksgiving, is a crucial part of withstanding persecution. I don’t mean in the “Thanksgiving,” the American holiday sort of way, I mean in everything, giving thanks to the Lord. We have no right to demand anything from God. He is the Creator of all, who am I to demand an answer?

Giving thanks also takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it on God. When we’re giving thanks, we’re less likely to dwell on our pain.

Prayer also takes the focus off of ourselves. When we pray, we are, or should be, looking upward to Chris. In praying for the world, we are praying for others and not ourselves. We take a step away from self-absorption. The Bible tells us to pray for others. It also tells us to go and tell others about Him.

I have so much to learn. I look at the faith of believers throughout Asia who’ve been beaten, imprisoned or tortured, and I’m inspired and amazed. They’ve experienced so much, relied on the Lord and their faith is exuberant and unfaltering.

So now, if you would, take a moment and pray for the persecuted church.

2 Comments

Filed under Life

Life of Luther

“Blood alone moves the wheels of history,” Martin Luther said.

It’s true, too.

In the Old Testament, blood was required for the remission of sins. Jesus had to spill His blood to atone for our sins once and for all.

Barnas Sears, D.D.’s book, “Life of Luther,” is a biography of Martin Luther, the influential leader of the Protestant Reformation.

I was excited about the book, because I’m a little bit of a history nerd. I’ve got to be honest, I found it a little difficult to get through the book.

Sears knows his stuff. He is an expert in his field and he gives a very detailed account of Luther’s life. He meticulously lays out the backdrop and history and includes many details. His book is great for reference, but perhaps not for pleasure reading.

I’d encourage you to read up on Luther, he is solid and grounded in the Lord.

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times,” Luther said.

New Leaf Publishing Group provided me with a copy of this book. My thoughts are my own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

for my parents

I just downloaded Ben Rector’s CD. His song “Hank,” brought tears to my eyes. This is for you dad and mom. (Neither of you were ever a bother )

“To a boy who looks just like his mother, who’s a sister to her brother who sings this song with that boy from far away

I am young but you are younger so you speak more words then mumble. You have to lend an ear to everything I say.

So be kind and love your mother and your father, though sometimes they seem to bother come by, Hank, and you’ll know

There the ones who’ll always love you and support you, they prayed for you before you stepped foot into this world. That’s one thing that I’ve learned.

I remember you were walking, in a month I’ll hear you talking. There’s a million things I’d love to say to you.

Though your parents, they are wiser and will be better advisers, maybe hearing these things twice will get them through.

Go and find a girl for whom your love is selfless, someone who makes you helpless, to change the way you feel. But stay away from girls who always look so pretty, who’s hearts just aren’t fitting for the man in you I see.

Would you remember that for me?

Would you remember that for me? Oh..

Would you remember all these things?

Would you remember all these things?

Would you remember just these things?

Would you remember just these things?

When you find yourself alone in times of trouble, reach inside you and above you, there’s nothing He can’t heal.

And if it is you do not end up with a brother, just call your older uncle, I can always lend an ear. Would you remember that for me?

Would you remember that for me? Oh… “

( Ben Rector\’s \”Hank\”)

4 Comments

Filed under Life