Tag Archives: Freedom

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.

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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

Hands and Feet, Old and New.

I’m not sure if I’ll get flack for this. The reason I type that is because I’ve grown up in and around Christian circles that, generally speaking, believe that being the hands and feet of Jesus is somehow more difficult, painful, and frightening than being pressed by Him. As if it takes a certain kind of courage to leave the comfort of our house and home and travel somewhere new, exotic…unreached.
Now of course, no one would outright say that. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe wholeheartedly that being the hands and feet of Jesus is difficult. It is painful. And it is certainly frightening. Especially when He calls you (generally speaking) out of the comfort of house and home and places you into a place that is new, exotic and unreached.
I believe, although I would never outright say it, that in the past, I held missions (being the hands and feet of Jesus) as the avenue in which the highest difficulty with following God lay.
And then I began attending the Gathering. I am fond of the Gathering. I love it. Through loving the Gathering, I understand why Jesus states that if I love Him, I will also love the Church. It is here that I began to have a paradigm shift. It is at the Gathering that I no longer viewed living out God’s mission, furthering His kingdom, as something incredibly frightening, that takes the greatest amount of courage. Part of reason is, I believe, that I was now surrounded by men and women who were willing and eager to go. and I was surrounded by men and women who have gone and have experienced the same fears of going and frustrations of coming back, and so I could talk to both groups. They were/are an encouragement. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that missions trips (no matter how big or small) do take a great amount of courage. It takes a willingness to obey God, and trust that He has something much bigger, much grander, much better than our mud pies.(this is a vague C.S Lewis reference)
Jesus has used the Gathering to press me in places I do not want to be pressed. And now I am just beginning to understand the terrifying nature of the prayer that I pray both for myself and others. The prayer that Jesus would press us.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I believe I am awesome. I don’t say it jokingly. Of course I wouldn’t say it out loud. But how I act, how I think, how I talk indicate at the very core of me, that there is a strong sense of selfishness, pride, arrogance and sense of entitlement. It is here that God has been cutting. It is here that God has been working. And it is here that I am terrified/unwilling to really go, and let go. It is at this place that those dangerous prayers (that Jesus would press me), and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are taking me. It is here that I know, I will see who I really am…in light of a mighty and Holy God. And it is here I am absolutely terrified to look. Terrified because I know what I will find. Terrified because I know that when I take a look, I will see something ugly. I am afraid to look because I will see that in front of a completely Holy Righteous God, all of me (good, bad, ugly) is nothing but filthy rags. And I know that the process of sanctification, the discipline of God is often times painful.
These are the moments that I need. I don’t need more knowledge about God. I will only know about Him. However, during these moments of sanctification, I will get to know Him. Not only His standards, but His love for me. I will come to understand that His discipline is because He understands that there is something much better if I follow His commands. He knows that it’s better for me in the end, if He holds off on answering certain prayers.
In the end, I find it slightly easier to go and serve than I do to have Jesus open me up. At least I don’t have to look at myself for who I really am. But even in the pain, I know that His Grace is sufficient for me. Even in that despair, I know I will be comforted because of His finished work on the Cross.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for the finished work on the Cross. Thank you for your promise that you will comfort those in distress. Not only over the loss of a loved one, but also for those that grieve over their own fallen, self-destructive sinfulness. Thank you for Your Grace. Thank you for everything. I ask that even as you bring me towards places I do not want to be, sanctify me in those places. Remind me that Your Cross has even paid for it, that I am no longer tethered by it, and I am free to let go. Thank you that because of what You did, because I am clothed in You, I am no longer who I was. But I am counted as righteous in Your sight.
In Your Amazing name,
Amen

Hansen

Ch.2 The Paths and the By-Paths: The Hike

It has certainly been a long time since I last updated this chapter write up. If the previous section write up is a little fuzzy you can go here to give it a little bit of a refresher. Today we will be looking at what J.I Packer calls “The hike.”

In this section, Packer, equates the life of a Christian as a hike. The reason he does this is because, like a hike, our lives go through various stages and challenges. This section borrows heavily from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress. Rather, Packer references Pilgrims Progress quite a bit. Packer and Nystrom note that Christians (the character in Bunyan’s book) progress can be split into four parts.
1) In the first part Christian finds saving, converting Grace. He sees and believes the Cross and finds himself a new man and his burden gone.

2) The second part is conflict. This is where Christian fights the destroyer and ventures through the valley of the shadow of Death. Where thoughts of despair surround him

3) The third part is companionship. Christian sees Faithful and they swap stories. He will lose Faithful during his journey but be joined later on by Hopeful, where they will journey the rest of the way together.
– it is here that J.I Packer states, and I agree (after learning the hard way), that every believer needs another person where they can walk closely with.

4) In the fourth part, Hopeful and Christian explores moral and spiritual compromise through a meeting with a man named By-ends and also by another man named Demas. They escape those two men but are later locked up in Doubting Castle.

Packer notes that through Bunyan’s writing, we can see that if we are not faithful, we will undoubtedly lose our assurance of salvation. Before I go on, I would like to state that Packer doesn’t seem to be implying that we will lose our salvation. It seems that Packer is saying that we will lose our confidence that we are saved, we will call into question whether or not the Gospel changed us. We will question whether or not we are playing church rather than living a Gospel-driven life. And in our doubts, not only will we lose our assurance of salvation (though not necessarily our salvation. It is vitally important to remember that) but also the Truth of the Gospel.

Packer then states that the authentic Christian life is a many sided affair if it is viewed from the outside. However, from the inside of this life it is just a quest for more of God and more of life both here and later.

The way that Bunyan describes trials, truimphs ditches and deliverance essentially describes the path that Christians walk in which so many by-paths seem to call. These by-paths MUST be resisted if we are not to go astray.

Packer and Nystom want to paint the Christian life in three stages. Of course, like all analogies it isn’t perfect, but I do believe it does paint a fairly accurate picture.
Like a painter who lays down first the green and blue hues, then red and gold and finally the pinks and oranges. The hike is just like the green and blue. Next is God is with us in faithfulness which is like the reds and golds. and finally to finish off the painting, the love of our “best friend” Jesus, who is always beside us is the pinks and oranges. Using all three hues completes the picture that is the Christian life.

This one was a relatively short section. However our next one combines the section entitled “The good companions” and “Hiking with Jesus Christ.”

Some things to remember before ending this entry:

– Packer notes that when we do not press into Jesus (through prayer, reading meditation etc) we, not only lose our assurance of salvation but also the truth of the Gospel. Losing the truth of the Gospel is very much tied to losing our assurance of salvation. Let me be clear, I do not necessarily believe you will lose your salvation. However you will very much lose the confidence that you are saved by Jesus, and in all honesty, you may very well not be. It is during these storms of doubt that we find out whether the Cross of Christ has made us alive, or if we have been playing religion for most of our lives.  Press in, wrestle, Study the Word, Pray and Seek.

– Our lives are very much like a picture. Just as a painting loses some of it’s beauty when one or more colour is missing, so too, does our lives. If we forget about the faithfulness of God and/or forget that Jesus is always beside us, our lives do lose it’s beauty. again Press in, Wrestle, Study, Pray and Seek.

Hansen

Valentines day post….just a little early.

It’s Valentines day soon. haha usually this is the day that most people are either all sickeningly mushy, cynically bitter, or depressed because they have to spend it alone. I am going to do something a little different. Now I’m definately not the first to do this, and I’m not going to be the last. So I am hardly a trailblazer, or original. However, it seems like Valentines day (although good intentioned) has really just turned into a day of pure materialistic…something or other.

So without further delay…

To my female friends,

I appreciate all of you. Every single one of you have been a blessing to me. It has been a joy to get to know you all. Now you may not have realized it, but God has used you to raise my standards, which I am thankful for. I have been encouraged by you and challenged by you. Thank you.

There have been a few that God has used to press me, change me, challenge me, encourage me, and all around grow me.

To Hannah, Carina, Heather and Sarah: thank you for your hospitality. Your personalities bring me great joy.

Sarah, your love of cooking and food makes me get my creative juices flowing, thinking about new recipes and conceptualizing dishes. Your love of nature photography and the pictures I have seen remind me of the incredible beauty of God’s creation. Your reminder to me that everything works out in God’s time has been an encouragement, and a gentle and painful challenge to me that I just don’t trust Jesus as much as I should. But He’s been using that reminder to press me in the area of control.

Carina, the fact that you are stepping out and planning prayer for next year is an incredible step of courage. It is also encouraging to see you stepping out in faith, and being willing to put yourself out there for the sake and glory of God.

Heather, your love and talent for singing is incredible. The fact that you use it to worship God is smile-bringing and joy-giving. Continue to cultivate that for Jesus.

Hannah, your sarcasm and humour never fails to make me laugh. Loud and long. May God continue to cultivate both of them so that you will use it for His glory. God has used your blunt honesty to wreck me….in all honesty. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a completely necessary thing, for my growth, but most importantly for His fame. Thank you. It’s encouraging to see you stepping out into leadership, I know you’ll be excellent.

To Krista: your hunger and passion to know Jesus is incredible. I think from the first time I met you to now, I have seen you grow in leaps and bounds. It’s always encouraging to see new believers come to understand the Gospel, dig into the Word and just desire to learn….even the hard truths. Keep going. Let God press you on the hard things….especially the hard things, because His painful surgeries and bone resets are for our good. and ultimately to bring us into a fuller understanding and deeper closer worship of Him.

To Rachel: The way you pray, the fact that it’s so intimate, is a reminder and encouragement that we get to talk to God the Father. Because of Jesus the Son. And that thought, that notion completely blows me away.

To all of you: Again, thank you. You are all a blessing to me. I don’t know what else to say except this: Continue to press into Jesus. Continue to seek Him…because we get Jesus. Continue in reading His Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue to pray. Pray consistently. Pray fervently. In all that you do, pray. And may all that be for His Glory.

Hansen

These two songs came to my mind as I was typing this:

Back to our regular programming

Day 10 – Most inspiring Asian.

This topic was submitted by Andrew Tan Wei Aun. When I first saw this topic from him I thought that it would be easy to answer. However as the day of the topic drew closer, I realized that this topic would be a little more difficult to answer than I first anticipated. You see, there are a few Asian people that inspire me, but there are only a few amongst those few that “inspire” me. You know what I mean? It’s like, I can be inspired by the food artistry and creativity of Masaharu Morimoto, but his work doesn’t inspire me to pursue a career in a kitchen as a professional chef. For me, being inspired means that I am willing to pursue with everything that I have. And so, with that definition in mind, I had to ask myself “Does this man (or woman) make me want to pursue something, live better etc.” Essentially the question is “Does this person make me want to take action.” And if the answer is essentially a no, then I cross them off my list. So the people I have crossed off the list are: Masaharu Morimoto, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Hung Huynh (Top Chef season 3 winner), MC Jin, Kevin Wu (KevJumba), Wongfu Productions, David Choi, Nigahiga, and a few others. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them, in fact I love them all. Masaharu Morimoto being one of my favourite chefs because of his artistry in the kitchen. KevJumba, Wongfu, and Nigahiga are hilarious. D.Choi is incredibly talented, as is MC Jin. And Jackie, Bruce and Jet are legends in the film industry. However, though all of them are incredible and talented, they just haven’t inspired me into a genuinely passionate pursuit. And although I enjoy cooking, martial arts, and vlogging/blogging, I was never interested enough at it to pursue it as a full fledged career.

The Asians that inspire me most into action are the men and women of faith that I have met, read about, or even heard about. They are men and women who understand, desire and seek above all else: Jesus…even at the possible loss of their life or “freedom.” Men like Francis Chan, who left growing fame and recognition and a secure job (as pastor of Cornerstone), to pursue Jesus. That inspires me to take action, but at the same time it does fill me with dread. Not because I hate change, I don’t hate change. I can deal with that. In fact sometimes I embrace it. But rather it’s because the call to sacrifice what I find comfortable,safe and known is something I would rather not do. The call to give my entire life to God and not be in control of even a tiny bit of it…yeah, it’s frightening. I would be lying if I said that I can do that with great joy, and I’m singing praises and dancing, clapping and being all “hallelujah! sing it!”. Because I can’t. Because there are sometimes, some instances, that don’t allow for loud, vocal praises. However, even in moments where there is wrestling, doubt, regret, tears and other emotions like that. Even in those moments, a statement never rings truer than “Jesus is still good, and He is more than enough.” When I look at the lives of those Asians (Francis Chan, Watchman Nee, Brother Yun, all those that have already died for the Gospel, my brothers and sisters in countries “closed” to the gospel, my C4C brethren etc.) I see much of that statement reflected in their lives. I inspires me to pursue Jesus with everything that I have, and not just speak it from my mouth. But to really grab hold of it and let it shape much of how I make decisions and whatnot.

Sorry Andrew, this may seem like quite the cop-out answer. But I can tell you that this is the truth. I aspire to be like them.The men and women of God who, above all else recognized that Jesus is our beautiful reward and was willing to give all (including their life) to acquire Him. May that be mine (and your) desire as well.

Hansen

Things that made me smile:

because I didn’t include one in my last post, I think I will include yesterday as well. In no particular order:

– doing floor set at work with people I get along with really well.

– finding a site that has every single season of Top Chef

– working out

– little kids that are unintentionally funny

– working with people that I enjoy being around

– having a dream about me cooking

– getting multiple compliments on the uniqueness of my name

Not part of the challenge

I know I know, I haven’t posted day 10’s topic yet. It’s coming, it’s taking a little longer to gather my thoughts on that one at the moment. And today’s post will also not be about that as well. I will get back to answer Day 10’s topic, hopefully, tomorrow.

I’m currently doing two things at the moment. The first thing is I’m doing an Inductive Bible Study (IBS) on 1st and 2nd Timothy. I haven’t done an IBS in quite a long time, so to get back into it has been exciting and refreshing (also writing down the verses that catches my eye in my little Bible verse booklet…to look at, wrestle and memorize at later times). The second thing that I am doing is reading through J.Oswald Sanders “Spiritual Leadership.” I’m sure that doing either one of those individually would be convicting, but reading both, thinking on them have, at times, been downright painful. I don’t deal with pain well, I don’t like getting hurt, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. When I find myself in situations that could potentially get me hurt, I tend to run away. It has been my experience with this lovely combination as well.

All a part of me wants to do is run away. Like when I read a line from “Spiritual Leadership” that tells me to cultivate certain qualities that I know will be hard, or when Paul writes “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 2:3), a large part of myself just desires to book it for the hills. To avoid looking at the subject altogether. A part of me desires to convince…myself, that God wouldn’t really want to make things hard for me, He wouldn’t want to break my bones, or perform spiritual surgery…yeah a part of me wants to subscribe to the “fairy god-mother” model of Jesus, who only wants to grant “gum drops and lollipops” of goodness upon everyone and won’t get angry or anything like that.

I know that Jesus isn’t against my joy. In fact, He is probably more for me being joyful than anyone else. However, He knows that what I perceive, sometimes, as a joy-giver, can oftentimes lead to disappointment, regret, spiritual drought…or even spiritual death. Yeah, Jesus knows far more than I do that sometimes what I need to survive, get stronger and healthier is a breaking of bones and open heart surgery. Even though it’s painful and it make take months to be fully healthy again. In the end, it’s all for the best. It’s so I can see Him more clearly and understand that my joy comes from getting Jesus…and nothing else.

Hansen