Post Baltimore Update #6

Some housekeeping items...

Missions Report Night
WHEN: September 22 @ 4:30pm
WHERE: San Jose Christian School (1300 Sheffield Ave, Campbell, CA 95008)
RSVP: by September 21 @ 5pm 

To RSVP, and if you have questions, email cindy.chu@lbcsj.com

Reminder
We are still accepting financial support for one more day! If the Lord impresses upon your heart to give, please do so by August 22. We love you either way!

Warnings
1. Longggg posttt aheadd..I guess Grandma's got a lot to say these days.
2. My post below is a screened collection of recent journal entries.
3. Apologies in advance for my fragmented and slightly emo thoughts.
4. Feel free to ask me for more details.
5. Enjoy! :)

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Seek, Set, Behold
Before we departed for Baltimore, I was asked to share (in front of the whole church - eek!) what I had been learning as well as prayer requests. If you know me at all, you would know that I fear the public eye. The stage is not my friend, and I try to hold hands with Attention using a ten foot pole. But I had to remind myself that it was not about me. It was an opportunity to encourage as well as be held accountable. So I did it.

For those who weren't there that Sunday, here's a snippet of what I shared:

I wanted to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). I wanted to set my mind on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2). I wanted to behold the glory of the Lord as I am being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Though imperfectly, I wanted to not let anything obscure the life hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

I need to to continually grow in my love for God so that I can better love others. I need to deepen my understanding of the Gospel so that it would overflow (wherever I am). I need to depend on Scripture and His Spirit so that I may be properly guided. I need to be walking well and intensely focusing my gaze upon Jesus, despite people and circumstances. In short, I need to abide in the true vine (John 15).

And now...
We are about one month post Baltimore.

I wish I could say that I have been on a post-missions high, sharing the Gospel left and right with friends and strangers alike, and in a happy-go-lucky bubble filled with roses and butterflies because #Jesus. While I am still soaking in all that I saw and learned, it's been nonstop challenges. From an earthly standpoint, life has been hard. Very hard. And I have been sad. Very sad, haha. --- Trials keep coming. Insecurities are high. Fears are being made real. Relationships have been rocked. Hurt seems to knock on my door weekly. The demands of work keeps rushing in. The list goes on...and on and on and on. --- But I can say that I am humbled and thankful. God is so good, in trials and in celebrations. I want to welcome these difficulties because I know that He loves me and is pruning me as my Abba Father. I'm learning to slow down through the crazy and the busy, and just appreciate the moment...even if it's with tears and awkward smiles. Thank you for praying with me through the Baltimore trip, and even now. 

Since our week in Baltimore, I have been praying about how the whole of me can be used for God and His people.

If you're still reading, kudos to you. You must like me - thanks!

And if you're curious as to what specifically has been occupying my mind and heart since returning, you can read about the body parts (that contribute to the whole of me) below.

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Hands
Hands that labor. Hands that serve. Hands that build.

I love looking at old people's hands. They tell so many stories without speaking. Maybe it's his recent heart attacks, but lately I have been looking a lot at my dad's hands. I imagine that each wrinkle, scar, sunspot, and freckle tells a unique story of how he loved and sacrificed for his family. Each story has made him the man, husband, and father that he is. Each flaw has been made beautiful through retrospective lens. Though he isn't a believer, I still admire the strength of his frail, arthritic hands. Of course, I am saddened by the idols he's built with his hands (figuratively and literally - there are idols around my parents' house that they pray to throughout the day).

When I think about my career and working in general, I recall “life lessons” from my pops. Despite how much I value the lessons my dad instilled in me re: work ethics and integrity, I have to remember that Scripture has something greater to say. It warns us against banking in the works of our hands.

Psalm 9:16 reminds us, “The wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.”
Psalm 115:4 and Psalm 135:1 tells us, "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. "
Isaiah 2:8 says, "Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made."
Jeremiah 1:16 writes, "And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands."
The people described above literally worshiped statutes - much like my parents currently. It's like the golden calf and how the Israelites "offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands” (Acts 7:41). Their hands were not toiling for the glory of the Lord. It is easy for me to identify this in others without realizing how much worth and time I invest into my job, even if it's at the expense of investing in my church people.

But work isn't bad or sinful. It was designed before the fall. And we should “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Paul strove to model hard work with his hands (1 Corinthians 4:12), and called others to imitate him (1 Corinthians 11:1).

The temptation that my parents fell into was trusting in themselves and the work of their hands. I do the same. But believers have a calling and an eternal treasure bigger than what we store up for ourselves, and more glorious than any of our hands' work. We can rest and rejoice in the work of God’s hands, rather than our own, even if His work is done through our hands (1 Corinthians 15:10). “You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Psalm 92:4).
Even though my job gets insanely busy, I can work heartily unto the Lord. If we want to be truly happy in our jobs, we cannot base our happiness on our jobs, and definitely not on the abilities of our hands (and minds and whatever else you want to argue). Our worship and happiness must be anchored and rooted in God alone.

I can only keep hoping that my dad’s hands might one day praise the Savior. And I know I am eternally secure in the hands of Jesus (John 10:27-28), his nail-pierced hands. "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). I want to hold onto temporary things with open hands, focusing on what is lovely, pure, and true (Philippians 4:8). So come trials, come.

Knees
Ashy knees. Weak knees. Knees that tremble. Knees that bend. Knees that bow to the King of Kings.

I used to think elbows and knees were the oddest body parts. I didn't understand their function, nor did I see their attractiveness. As I now consider qualities that I desire, qualities of those whose faith I admire, and even qualities of a future spouse (Lord-willing), I consider their knees. That is, to whom do their knees bow. I saw this type of worship in the saints at BBC who sang loudly, danced shamelessly, labored tirelessly, evangelized relentlessly, prayed fervently, and loved on us constantly. All because their knees are bowed before the Lord of Lords. 

I wish I didn't need struggles to make me bend my knees in prayer (literally and figuratively). But in recent days, as relationships have come and gone, and disappointments are easy to grow, I am reminded of the hope and victory I have in submission to His will rather than my own plans and preferences, even if I think they are for God.

Feet
Feet matter. Stinky feet. Big ol', clown feet. Itty bitty feet. They all matter.

Making disciples of all nations requires more than dropping a Gospel tract, or eloquently regurgitating the Gospel message. Making disciples requires more than a dimly lit room with ambient music, crying publicly because #Jesus, writing verses in beautiful calligraphy (I have awful penmanship), or having a super hip social media account. Disciple-making involves getting your feet wet, immersing your whole body, opening your heart, and teaching not just what Jesus commanded, but to observe all that he commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

Discipling others is a long term effort. Being discipled by Christ and his commands is a lifelong endeavor. Discipleship involves entrusting the gospel to faithful men who will be able to then teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). It involves older women training younger women (Titus 2:3–5). It means coming alongside and exhorting with the gentleness of a nursing mother and the strength of a father (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). It means an eagerness to share not only the gospel, but our own selves (1 Thessalonians 2:8), providing an example for others to imitate us as we imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), and empowering people to practice what they have learned and received and heard and seen (Philippians 4:9). I really believe that disciple-making is best done through the vehicle of the local church, and in partnership with other local churches. And it starts by going - not just overseas, but going wherever you have you feet planted. Your mission field is wherever you are - home, work, school, etc. 

Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 clearly and relevantly says, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news!” The feet of those who leave behind family, friends, familiarity to adapt to a new language and custom and place are beautiful feet because they echo the journey of Christ's feet. The feet of those who persevere daily through the mundane, shining brightly in a dark but sometimes enticing culture, fleeing from (and not entertaining) temptation, are beautiful feet because they follow the call of Christ.

Like our friends at BBC, we as believers have feet that follow Christ and that carry the Good News through discipleship in the local church and outreaching to our communities. I want to walk as Christ walked - humbly onward and humbly upward. May my feet not stray from the narrow path. Instead, may Your Word be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

Heart
Follow your heart, they say. It's all about your heart before God, they say. It's all good in the neighborhood if your heart is at peace, they say. How often have you heard these lines spoken loud and proud as if it’s all about the feels (i.e. what you want)? What about Jeremiah 17:9? It says the heart is deceitful above all things. Let's be honest - if left to ourselves, our hearts would not choose God. 

In the last two months, my heart experienced so many emotions: enjoyment, disappointment, hurt, bitterness, fear. If I listened to the wiles of my heart in those dark moments, my heart would not have found comfort in Christ.

My family's salvation is not guaranteed. My career may change. My plans may not be the Lord's plans for me. My personal desires may never see the light of day. My friends may not always be there. My future is uncertain. But I want to be described as David in Acts 13, as one after God's own heart.

Hands, Knees, Feet, Heart
In summary... I am upheld with His righteous right hand. I am a slave to righteousness; a sinner with knees bowed before the King. I have feet that bring the Good News. I have been given a heart of flesh to glory in my Redeemer.

It's easy to long for heaven when times on earth are hard. But until my time comes, may I live in such a way that is wholly used by Him - all year long, wherever I am on the daily, and not just on summer STMs like the one to Baltimore. 

Thank you, Jesus.