Rest in the shadow of your wings

I’ve grown up, primarily in a culture where men are discouraged to show any sign of weakness. No tears, no fear, where liking anything other than combat sports or anything aggressive (music, shows etc.) is sometimes looked down upon. I’ve had the notion hammered into me that asking for help, admitting weakness, admitting to struggles is a general no-no.

“I got this.” “I can handle it.” “I don’t need help.” “I can do this alone.” With my words and actions, this is how I have handled myself. And still find myself doing from time to time.

The more I have spent time with the men and women at The Gathering (the church I’m going to) the more I am convicted of this behaviour. The more I spend time with them, worshipping  with them, and praying with them, the more I find myself wanting, and needing their help, their prayers.

I find that my individualistic, white-knuckle, do it yourself spirit is slowly giving way to “I don’t have this” “I can’t handle it.” “I need help” “I can’t do this alone.” At least for some things. But by the Grace of God, my heart is being transformed from one that can’t admit weakness or struggles, to one that realizes that it absolutely needs to admit these.

Too often, I try and take on the weight of my own sin, my struggles and shame on my own. I don’t want my dear friends to see my struggles (of which I have many).

“With my strength alone, I’ll overcome my struggles. I’ll get better, holier, on my strength.” For the love of God (literally) don’t. It’s exhausting, mentally, emotionally. It is a lonely road that doesn’t change a thing. Sure the outward actions may change, but the heart will remain bitter, hard and cold.

Don’t forget the Cross. It is because of the Grace of Jesus, I am free to admit my weaknesses without fear of ridicule. I don’t need to make much of myself, I don’t need to make myself look strong because I’m not much, I’m not strong. I’m quite weak, and fragile. It is Christ that is strong. He deserves to be made much of. He is the life changer.
I can’t do much on my own, I’m alright with that. I’m surrounded by a great group of believers that would help carry the burden. And I would do the same.

I’m not alone, I am surrounded by people that love Jesus. I see His love, His Grace through them.
I’m thankful for all of them. Even though, I may keep most of them at a distance (through no fault of their own), it is because of their love for Jesus, for others..for me, that I’m beginning to see (again) my need for a Christ-centered, Gospel-loving community.

Through this group, I’m learning to rest and take joy in the freedom through the Cross. I’m learning that I don’t have to fight alone, because I was never alone.

My struggles, shame and regret maybe deep but God’s Grace runs deeper still.

Anesthetic Apathy

I love my friends, I really do. So when they ask me how my soul is doing (which they have fairly recently) I can’t help but answer honestly. The thing is, what comes out of my mouth concerns me. Because what comes out of my mouth, I believe, if not in whole, than in part, comes straight out of the depths of my heart.

I recently told them that my soul is in the middle somewhere. Not sad, nor joyful. Not stunted, but not growing (as far as I can see). Dave, I think said it best (even if he was partially joking) when he stated “lukewarm.” I’ve spent the past few days just thinking about it. And honestly, I think there are just parts of me that just don’t care…at all, about anything. As if, just working will bring me satisfaction. As if, I will be satisfied with the mere mundane instead of living, hoping and seeking for something more.

More than anything, it feels like my soul is starving for something far more than what I have been giving it. It desires so much more than just living a life that just works, hangs out, relaxes and does stuff. I get bored of things really easily, which I consider both a blessing and an annoyance (at different times). I’m ridiculously thankful that I get bored of playing video games, that way I won’t spend hours at a time just playing video games (although I have done that on the rare occasion). I get the travel bug fairly easily and fairly often. So I tend to want to travel anywhere and everywhere.

There are some things that I have not gotten bored of doing. Things like reading good, well written books. Reading the Bible has recently just been a joy (whenever I do read it). Reading theological books have, for the most part, have been quite the joy too. Prayer as well has been a life-giver. It seems like this is the crux of the issue. It seems that I’m apathetic when I don’t do those things, not for the sake of just doing them, but doing them to press into and to get more of Jesus.

So here it is, Jesus is the life-giver to my soul. Which seems obvious, but I often tend to forget. Without pressing into Jesus, my heart slowly hardens. Without Jesus, I just stop caring, I forget that He is better than what I can see. Without Him, everything just seems so mundane, useless. What I’m doing seems pointless.

My heart is hardened, but not beyond saving. My soul feels deadened but not beyond life-giving resuscitation. And as painful as those two processes can be, as much as I dislike the pain that sometimes comes with growing in Christ-likeness. Jesus is better than how I’m living now. This I believe dearly, and this is my part of my hope. That Gospel Grace, that Jesus, is better and far sweeter. That past the initial pain is a better way to live and love.

Let my heart not be apathetic to you, Jesus.

Hansen

This is the only thing I can offer

I have a tendency to compare myself to others. Whereas many people tend to compare themselves to make themselves look better. I, more often than not, compare what I am lacking to what others have. This is quite prevalent when I look at what my friends offer in terms of the Church body. And while doing so, feeling like what I have to offer isn’t quite good enough. I realize that not only am I selling myself short (for failing to see what God has given me) I am also implying, through my thoughts and actions, that somehow God made a mistake…or that I am not as blessed or not as loved compared to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Make no mistake, my friends are incredible blessings, super talented, and might I add, also ridiculously good looking. I can see, in some very incredible ways, how God is using them, growing them, and pressing them. Most of what I feel is joy, for them. Some of them are incredible speakers. Some, have been gifted just a beautiful talent for singing and instruments. Some offer incredibly sweet, life giving words of wisdom And others have this infectious, wonderful passion and joy for Jesus. Just to name a few.  

Yet, this gives me pause. What do I have to offer? I’m not as passionate, nor am I able to speak well. My singing is horrific, as is my instrument playing. As I dwell on what I lack, I am reminded that my identity isn’t founded on the talents I have. It is the same with my friends, their identities are not founded and grounded by the talents they were given. 

My identity is founded in Christ. My identity is grounded in who He is, what He has done, and His promises. My talents were never mine to begin with. So the only thing I can do, and the only thing I find myself wanting to do, is bless those around me with the talent God gave me. This is all I can do to bless the body of Christ and to give glory to God. 

Who I am isn’t founded upon what I can or cannot do. Who I am isn’t founded on what I do or don’t have. Who I am is founded upon a bloody Cross, an empty grave… a risen Saviour King. I don’t think it can get anymore stable, or any better than that.

 

Hansen

It’s been awhile hasn’t it?

Throughout my year in Korea, I had desired in all honesty to update this as frequently as possible. Hopefully share what God had been doing  in my life, dear readers (like all 1 one of you), however, the more I reflect on it, the more I wonder if He had really changed me in any significant way. Or at least a way that would be noticeable, or worthy of putting down into words for all the internet to see. 

Alas, it didn’t happen. And what I’m left with is a growing dread that I wasted a year of my life in South Korea (which I KNOW for a fact, that wasn’t true). There are many things to be thankful for after my time there: meeting amazing people, travelling (get paid while travelling…which is a plus!), learning that I just LOVE cooking. On the other hand, a part of me realizes that my original purpose for going there (seeing how another culture does church/prayer and worships Jesus) slowly disappeared. Instead of being pressed and challenged and changed and grown by Jesus, I honestly feel that spiritually, I was severely hampered. And that my friends is why a part of me feels like I wasted away a year. 

Even as I struggle to get these thoughts on here, my mind continues to come back to the fact that even though I lost my original purpose, it wasn’t as though I was completely left to figure out what I wanted to do on me own. Cooking, love of cooking, love of cooking for others was discovered while on this journey there. I don’t think that would have happened unless it was by the Grace of God. I think, without that Grace, I would still be pursuing something my personality is ill suited, and ill equipped for (that is pastorship). So I am extremely thankful for that. 

Today is a small post, hopefully I can expand on some of these within the following days. Although I can’t promise you anything. Ever since Korea I haven’t wanted to look at my blog in awhile. Is it good to be back? I’m not sure.

We’ll test the waters of the blogosphere once again to find out.

 

Hansen

It is only in Jesus

” We hold on to the things we should forget; and forget the things we ought to remember.” – Tim Keller

One of the hardest lessons I am learning, have learned, and am reminded of constantly is the need to dwell in Jesus on a minute to minute basis. Sometimes I am frustrated because this is one of the integral parts of walking with Christ, and yet I am ALWAYS, ALWAYS, forgetting it. It is especially apparent when I am having good days, not only good days where everything seems to be going great physically, but it is apparent when I’m having good days when everything seems to be going great spiritually. When I’m successfully overcoming sin, when my Bible memorization and Bible reading goes well, when prayer seems to go well, those are the times when things are going great for me spiritually. And I’ve been realizing that those are the times that I tend to forget to give credit and praise to the Holy Spirit for making things run smoothly. Especially overcoming sin. I forget that my righteousness comes from the shed blood on Calvary. I develop a swagger as if to say “Hey God, look at my own strength. See how I’ve been able to change myself for the better? Aren’t I amazing?” All the while not remembering, holding onto, giving thanks for, and continuing to press into the God who saved me, adopted me, forgave me and changes me.
It is during these times, where I get arrogant that I tend to stumble and fall flat on my face. My self-righteousness, my arrogance and pride kill me. But Thanks be to God for the Gospel of Christ because it is the restoration and rescuing of a rebellious sinners life. I am forever thankful for Christ, that He is still pursuing me and reminding me that the only way I am able to overcome, that I am able to ever truly change is through what He accomplished on the Cross. I am forever thankful that because of the Holy Spirit within me I am able to change through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I am thankful to God the Father because of His love and mercy towards someone like me. Who despite being weak and a coward, still is arrogant, prideful, and self-righteous enough to think that he can save himself.

I need you God. Because only in you am I truly free to overcome and change.
In your Son’s mighty name,
Amen.

Hansen

Let’s look at this all chronological and do the memorization thing.

As I prepare to embark into a new chapter of my life, away from friends and family and prepare to enter into a new land, new culture and new people. Dan, who I have the honour and privilege of calling a really good friend and brother in Christ proposed this challenge to me. Well, in a sense we proposed a challenge to each other.
His challenge to me was memorizing the book of Mark. And mine to him was reading the entire Bible in 90days or so. (although he had the idea of reading the Bible in chronological order, which we are doing)
In the end both of us have taken the challenges of memorizing the book of Mark and reading the Bible in chronological order.
I’ll be honest, I’m excited and ever so slightly (by a large margin) intimidated. I’m excited because I will be doing this with a dear friend and brother while in Korea. I’m intimidated because memorizing is not my forte, and reading the entire Bible in 52 weeks or so is daunting. so very very daunting. I’m excited because this is something that I have thought about doing for a while, but it is something I would rather do with someone else, as we spur each other on.
Even as I am excited to do both of these things, I know as well how easy it is to procrastinate, to give up, and to make excuses. I know that some days I just won’t want to do it. However it will be entirely necessary and worthwhile.
What am I expecting out of this? The main thing that I desire for both Dan and I is that as we really read and memorize God will just show us His magnificence. My hope is that as we plow through it, even on those days where it just seems slow, He will just show us more of who He is.
I’m looking forward to this. Not only at the end (getting more of Jesus) but also by the means in which we will be using. It’ll be difficult but it will be worth it. All for His Glory!

Hansen