Tag Archives: Grace

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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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 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

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

Taking a look back

Today, in a moment of nostalgia I decided to take a look at my old blog.  Looking throughout the years, I honestly believe that my writing style hasn’t changed much. Nor have my topics of interest.
I remember, however, a post that I did in 2008 entitled “The end is near”  and in that post I talked about my mortality and how one day I was going to die. I didn’t know when, but I knew that I was going to die. So, I decided to make a list of reasons why I shouldn’t be cried for during my funeral. Instead, people should be joyously celebrating the life I’ve had. Because, despite the bumps along the way, I believe that my life has been FULL of experiences that i would never trade away.

This is a look at the 2008 list:
Don’t cry for me I have a wonderful family
Don’t cry for me I have incredible friends
Don’t cry for me I’ve laughed so hard I hyperventilated to the point of almost blacking out
Don’t cry for me, I’ve laughed so loud my friends could hear me from a different room on the other side of the building, and floor.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve laughed so hard that milk came out of my nose
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had good beer with even better friends
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had mind-blowing 4-5 hour long discussions on theology, and not just the simple stuff, but on incredibly weighty issues
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen Christ save people
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been to Malaysia, Hong Kong, the UK, Kazakhstan, East Asia and the US
Don’t cry for me, I’ve smelled the ocean
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been on a mountain
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen a sunset
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen a sunrise
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been to university
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten the best sushi
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had amazing bubbletea
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten incredibly mouth-watering, savoury food
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten a lobster
Don’t cry for me, I’ve ridden a horse
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten a horse
Don’t cry for me, I’m home

In 2008, that list had quite the meaning for me. Not much of that list has changed. I still intend on ending it with “Don’t cry for me, I’m home.”
So with that said, the new list looks like this:

Don’t cry for me, I have an amazing family
Don’t cry for me, I have amazing friends
Don’t cry for me, I’ve laughed loudly and long.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve cried tears of joy and sadness.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten the most amazing food
Don’t cry for me, I’ve made/helped make some really tasty food
Don’t cry for me, I’ve sang horribly off key, with my friends in Karaoke.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had really good beer with even better friends
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had long, insightful, weighty talks about theology and life with stellar people.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been to the U.S, East Asia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, England, Singapore, Amsterdam, and Kazakhstan
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been to both the West and East coast of Canada.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen a beautiful sunset.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen a beautiful sunrise.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been on a mountain
Don’t cry for me, I’ve smelled the ocean
Don’t cry for me, I’ve drank water from glacial ice.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve been to and graduated from university.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve drank the best tasting bubble tea.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve ridden a horse.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve eaten many different cultural foods.
Don’t cry for me, I was part of a fiercely awesome church body, who loved Jesus with all they are.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve prayed with fierce, passionate men and women of Christ.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve seen Jesus save and change people.
Don’t cry for me, I’ve had the privilege to be used by Jesus as He’s saved and changed
people.
Don’t cry for me, I have been saved, redeemed, rescued and changed by Jesus. By His Grace, through His blood.
Don’t cry for me, I’m home.

There are times where I do think heavily on my own fragility. My life, like the Bible says, is like dew. Here in the morning and gone in the afternoon. This list serves as a list of joyous events and occasions worth celebrating. And I honestly hope that throughout the years it will continue to grow. Until it reaches the end, and I am truly home.

Hansen