Missions

Fundamentals and Applications of the Gospel

This past Sunday the Special Needs STM team had a sweet time of fellowship and equipping together. Over lunch, we got to reflect upon Pastor Mark's sermon ("Satan's Sons No More" - Ephesians 2:1-7) together. I was encouraged by the discussion over the greatest influence in our lives, the reality of the spiritual forces of evil, the lies/deceptions we are prone to when we put other things before God, and our tendency to get distracted and wander (like young Mark Chin at the theme park). In particular, I was convicted by one sharing of how people who have been Christians for a while often get "desensitized" to the gospel in their own lives, but that Ephesians 2 was such a sobering reminder of what our lives were like before being saved: we were "dead in the trespasses and sins" (v.1), "sons of disobedience" (v.2), and "children of wrath" (v.3).

Teddy started off our equipping time by posing the question of "what makes Christians united in a way that is fundamentally different from unity of the world"? What is different about the unity that our team shares as compared to the unity of classmates at school, coworkers at a company, or teammates on a sports team? As our team walked through Ephesians 2 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 together, we were reminded that Christian unity is not based on what we have done but on what Christ has done for us. We are united not necessarily because we are from the same church/team or because we have the same spiritual gifts or goals, but foremost because we have all been saved by grace and made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6). We see from 1 Corinthians 12 that though we may all have individuality, we are all members of one body with an indispensable role to play. Not all of us may be an eye or a hand, but "the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable" (v.22). In addition, by bestowing greater honor to the parts that we may think less honorable (v.23), we can show others that our God does not assign value based on our appearance, level of function, wealth, or reputation; our salvation and worth is not by merit but by the economy of grace alone.

So how can we achieve or be growing in this type of unity and love for one another? First, our unity is protected by the holiness of our walks. Ephesians 4:17-24 reminds us that we must no longer be walking in our former ways but "to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (v.23-24). Are we ourselves first growing in our pursuit of holiness? And do we care if others are growing in pursuing holiness? Second, we see from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a several descriptors of what love is. When we see sins in the lives of others, are we willing to love them by speaking into their lives? And when others see sins in our lives, are we willing to receive correction with love and humility? Sin destroys unity, and so we must protect the unity that we have in and through Christ by pursuing holiness in our own lives and being willing to give and receive correction.

We ended our meeting with a time in prayer. A few of our collective prayer requests include: GCC's continued search for a nurse (recently answered, praise God!) and a Bible lesson teacher for the camp, for God to prepare the hearts of the campers to receive His Word, for all the ministry team members to be preparing for camp by continuously pursuing holiness even now and not just seeking to protect the unity of the team during the week of camp, and for the various logistical tasks that our team still needs to do before camp.

Weekend With the McLeans

Last weekend, we had the privilege of spending multiple sessions with Pastor Rick and Janelle McLean from GCC special needs ministry. Although a lot of our time with them was informal conversations, I was able to glean a lot from their experience, encouragement, and challenges towards approaching those that may seemingly be different from you or I on the exterior. As Rick reminded us, we are all called to minister to one another because of 1 John 4:19-21 "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." We are only capable of love because Christ first loved us, and through God's command we are called to love everyone - including those with disabilities.

During our Sunday lunch meeting, the McLeans recalled an encouragement where one of the disabled girls was sharing to others in the ministry how it was such a blessing for herself to have special needs because it brought her to salvation. All I could think of was "wow", that is such a powerful testimony of how the Spirit can transform the heart of the wicked into an understanding of grace and sufficiency that only God provides. Pastor Rick used this as an illustration of the evidence of fruit that comes only from the Lord, because many times there will be discouragement or questioning of whether things that are taught is truly understood. This reveals a lack of trust on our own part, but also that their minds are sharper than what we may assume. We were discussing how it may be uncomfortable or awkward to be around people that are different; Rick simply encouraged us that it is ok to feel this way but to not let it deter us from continual love and service towards them. We follow the examples that Christ has set before us where He approached those who were unloved in the community and loved them (woman at the well John 4, bleeding woman who touched Jesus' garment Mark 5:25-34).

Janelle referenced Psalm 139 in how God has designed us to be who we are - He did not make any mistakes and created people uniquely for a reason. We can recognize the awkwardness, but her exhortation was in how we respond. We must remember Jesus' example and motivation that He gave to us, as we are all created in the image of God. Do not use awkwardness as an excuse, because that is simply selfish. We are not normal vs abnormal - instead we're all abnormal with sin but are able to hide ours better whereas those with special needs are not. As like with anybody, the challenge is in loving somebody else without the need to be loved back. We may not be paid back in the way we expected or desired, but that is the essence of sacrificial and unconditional love we are charged to live out.

Finally, some of the prayer requests the McLeans asked for was wisdom and strength during the week of camping as issues always arise. We can also be praying for the recent decrease in attendees, as caregivers do not want to bring their patients to church related events due to aversion towards Christianity. Most importantly, we must pray that the focus will be kept on Christ in all that we do.

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.

Post Baltimore Update #5

I tend to forget how short it has been since our team has gotten back from Baltimore. When we first got back, I remember being extremely challenged to have a stronger boldness in proclaiming my faith and sharing the gospel with those around me.

For those that don’t know, there had been a lot of transition at my job before I left for the trip which meant that I was coming back into those transitions. I was coming back to a new manager and what felt like, a new office. I was reminded of how reserved I was to share why I fought so hard to get PTO to go to Baltimore and I wanted to be able to come back and really share with my heart what I’ve learned through the trip. I share this because the next day I came back from Baltimore, I had to work. What I wasn’t expecting was the opportunity that God placed in front of me to get to know my new manager. He shared with me that he had actually grew up going to church and his grandfather was a Pastor. I was able to share with him about the purpose of me going to Baltimore and what I learned. To this day we still talk about the gospel and scripture here and there throughout the work week and even if he isn’t truly saved, I am constantly encouraged and challenged by our conversation. I even invited him and his family to church and he wanted to visit but wanted me to be there (which is next to impossible because we work the Sundays that the other person is off) but I hope that he will come visit LBCSJ on his own.

Throughout the next 2 weeks, as I saw my coworkers, I had the opportunity to share a little deeper in regard to why I went to Baltimore. As I shared about the kid’s camp and scatter week, they would say “you’re such a good person” and leave it at that. They weren’t interested in hearing the gospel but wanted to know if there were any cool sightseeing in Baltimore. I share this because even though we aren’t in Baltimore passing out tracts, there are opportunities everywhere. We cannot let the fear of man keep us from sharing the great news of Christ Jesus. If I am honest with myself, handing out tracts and sharing the gospel with strangers is easier then sharing with those I know because of my fear of rejection/man.

Please pray that I would be able to show the love of Christ to my coworkers and that they would be receptive to hearing the gospel one day (also that my manager would come out to church to hear the word of God being preached). The trip was such a great reminder that we do not save man but God does. We can only share the gospel to those around us and God will change the hearts of man. I can get easily discourage with the response of my coworkers, but I find comfort in knowing that God is the one in control, not me.

Post Baltimore Update #4

How deep the Father’ s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son,

And make a wretch His treasure.

It has been almost 3 weeks since the Baltimore STM team has returned from Maryland.  Since returning from our short term missions trip, and coming back to work, with all the duties and responsibilities that follow, I realized how blessed I was to be able to go on this trip, and have an extended time, to both share and examine my faith.

One aspect of my faith that I was both encouraged and challenged with was in hospitality and loving others. Seeing how Baltimore Bible Church (BBC) not only was hospitable to guests and their own church attendees was such an encouragement. From the time we arrived at the airport in Baltimore, and was taken care of by Pastor Matt, to the palpable love extended by the church members (lots of hugs and one-sided cheek kisses when meeting our LBCSJ team), to our interactions with BBC throughout scatter week, we were overwhelmed with hospitality. It was especially nice to get to see how a like-minded church worshipped on Sunday, and to see the church members interact with each other. Their commonality was Christ, from the youngest children, to the most mature saint.

We were never treated like strangers, and were welcomed with open arms. After our time at the VBS kids camp, the church members would gather to have a brown bag lunch, which was made by a wonderful married couple. The wife was not feeling well with vertigo, but both the husband and wife still continued to shop for, and faithfully pack and prepare at least 30 brown bags lunches for the entire BBC outreach team everyday. They made the sandwiches, packed chips, fruit, and a sweet dessert. The only day the wife missed being there a lunch was the day she went to her doctor’s appointment, but her husband was there to hand out the prepared lunches.

Another way BBC showed us hospitality was to be gentle and loving with us. During dinner, I shared how I was nervous to street evangelize to strangers with Mama Trudy (P. George’s mama). Mama Trudy gently encouraged me, not only by giving me tips, but literally took my hand and partnered with me for my first two days during our street evangelizing time. She led by example, showing me how she approached strangers to engage them in conversation, and used reassurance and love.

My challenge to you, dear reader, and to my beloved LBCSJ, is to examine how you yourself and corporately as a church love others-- both to church members and regular attendees and to the friends, acquaintances, and non-believers in your lives. How do we outwardly show love, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because of our love of the Son, and His work for us on the cross? How do we consider others’ needs first and not our own? How do we grow in love, knowing that Christ has loved us first?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

– Ephesians 5:1-2