Google Simply Katherine, a Christian on campus: April 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L - A Turmoil in My Church Life

calla lily
Okay, so to continue sharing my Mrs. L's moments with you, I have to introduce you to a deeper dimension of my life. I'm not saying I have two separate lives but behind all things that I do outwardly (I eat, I sleep, I work, I study, etc.), there's a realm, called the church life, that I'm living in. The church life, just like what it literally denotes, refers to the practical life of the church. That being said about the church, of course, I'm not referring to the brick building I pass by everyday to go to work. I'm talking about the people. The church life is like the practical inter-mingled, inter-related, interdependent life of all these Christ-centered people together. 

Back to my story. That particular afternoon I was so distraught. There was a fellowship among the responsible ones in the church for a certain matter and the result of that fellowship was carried out. I experienced an inward turmoil because plainly put, I was in a disagreement with that fellowship. I really thought they were missing some important information on the matter. I fear God and I never want to be found to be against Him or His deputy authority, which in this case, they were the older, more mature Christians whom I truly respect. So I went to Mrs. L. There I was, sitting next to Mrs. L, in front of the flower pot on her coffee table.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Being Offended

The other day someone told me about the definition of an offense. You know, she wasn't talking about a legal offense, but more like when you're offended by someone because that person said something unpleasant to your ear, or heart. So I googled it up: "offense definition". I was particularly intrigued by one of the many definitions listed online.

    noun /əˈfens/
    Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one's standards or principles.
    I thought to myself: Oh dear, that's incredibly accurate. Many times I'm offended not necessarily because someone did something wrong to me but it's because they didn't do something according to my likings or so-called standards. For instance, someone I know sees me on the street but she doesn't even say hi to me, or a colleague of mine often comes late to an important lunch appointment that I've meticulously set up two months ahead. 

    I think you get the point but that's not all, the real point is that we are all alike. We set up traps for ourselves to be offended by imposing our self-made laws, continually putting others under some sort of requirements. The truth is no one can satisfy those standards, I'd say, not even ourselves. Because we can't even live up to our own standards, we are actually not qualified to be offended by others.

    BUT, there is one person who has lived up to the highest standard of morality. What I'm about to exhibit here is not just a piece of information in a historical record.

    With the account in John 8 of a woman caught in adultery, the scribes and the Pharisees tempted the Lord Jesus so that they may have reason to accuse Him. They said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught committing adultery, in the very act. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What then do you say?" Jesus said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." When they heard His response, they went out one by one, beginning with the older ones. And Jesus was left alone while the woman stood where she was. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" And she said, "No one, Lord." Jesus then said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

    He was the only one left standing, the one who was without sin. He had the full right to condemn that woman but He did not. Actually He had the ground to be offended in so many ways but He was not. The Roman government ruled Him innocent but He was still rejected, mocked, persecuted, and crucified. He lived as "a root out of dry ground", never expecting anything from His dry and harsh environment but setting His hope perfectly on the Father's will.

    I keep telling myself: Time to drop the stone and realize that we're no better ourselves. The good thing is there's Someone who has lived the perfect life with the highest standard of morality, and He lives in us.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grafted! (Part 2 of 2)

The four matters on grafting (see Grafted! Part 1 for context): 

Grafted in Christ1. With natural grafting, compatibility comes down to the point of the stock and the scion needing to be of the same species. This is an enlightening fact in relation to the creation of man recorded in the Bible. In Genesis 1, God spoke to bring forth living creatures after their kind but man was created in God's image and after God's likeness (Genesis 1:26). In other words, man was created after God's kind, or shall we say, God's species.

Cut on the cross
2. Cutting implies termination, or some kind of death. In grafting, both the stock and the scion have to undergo cutting, or termination. This parallels with the Bible: Christ as the stock died, was cut, on the cross, and at the time of his conversion, a Christian - the scion - was cut off from his old source of living, transferred to another root system, to be "born again".

God is spirit3. After the cutting, the stock and the scion have to make a direct contact in a very particular way; that is, the cambiums of both specimens need to touch each other and be properly aligned so that the two can eventually become organically one (this is how the stock and the scion can become one). Does that sound familiar to you? Well, what if I say, the cambiums are God as Spirit and our human spirit so when we contact and receive God with our spirit, or align our spirit with God, the two spirits become one. First Corinthians 6:17 says "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" - the scion that is joined to the stock is one cambium. What do you think?

4. Lastly, grafting is not a genetic modification. No mutation occurs. The product of a grafting should retain the distinct characteristics of both "parents". Likewise Christians are not angels, not mutants. The Bible consistently presents Christians as human yet divine: human because Christians retain their human essence and existence, yet divine because Christians now possess God's life in them and are now capable of expressing the divine attributes exemplified by the life of Jesus on the earth. Neither more or less. 

A grafted life is the life of the same branch (scion) but drawing from another life source (stock). A Christian life is the life of the same person but drawing from another life source (not I, but Christ).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grafted! (Part 1 of 2)

I have a dilemma. I'm not sure what to do with this blog. To treat it as a journal or to explore deep thoughts on faith, existence, and life in general? Some posts in my blog are quite challenging to follow. What say ye? My thought is just to probably do a mixture of both.

Okay, so today I want to explore grafting: 

"Grafting involves the union of a root system (called the UNDERSTOCK) with a shoot system (the SCION) in such a way that the cambiums are aligned and they subsequently grow to develop one composite plant." -Lincoln Land Community College

Some important tips for successful grafting include smooth cutting so that the cambiums of both the stock and the scion are aligned properly. Cambium is almost like the heart of a plant, it forms the new layers of phloem and xylem - these transport nutrients and minerals from the root system and from photosynthesis to the rest of the plant.

Guess what, the Bible has this interesting notion on grafting: 
"For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree and were grafted contrary to nature into the cultivated olive tree," (Romans 11:24a)
Basically, it's saying that Christians are grafted into the cultivated olive tree, which signifies Christ. There's so much to say about this mysterious grafting. But I'd like to address 4 matters: compatibility, cutting, cambiums' alignment, and the non-mutated union of the two lives (click here for Grafted! Part 2).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Day I Overslept

Seriously, I wish someone would wake me up on time this morning. I think I turned off my alarm while sleeping. I woke up an hour and a half later, missing out on an important meeting. It took me about ten minutes, from bed to the door, out from slumber to real world I went. Good thing, I still made it to the latter part of that meeting. It was a stressful day! Plus I'm a breakfast person so going on empty stomach until noon threw off my system.

I think my sleeping pattern needs some re-calibration. Actually so many people around me are either losing sleep or having problem with sleeping pattern these days. I'm not sure why, but for sure, sleep deprivation is a no-no.

On that note, let's try to sleep earlier tonight, everyone! I need to.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Bull's Eye of Creation

I live in a small apartment so everything in the apartment revolves around me and Po, my sister. But last night, as I was about to go to bed, my trip to Yosemite last summer came to memory. I've always been a city person, didn't get to travel beyond urban that much. So when I went out to witness the grandeur of nature, I was awestruck.

Yosemite Tunnel View
The Dome
Mono Lake
Tufa @ Mono Lake
Mammoth Mountain
Tenaya Lake, Tioga Pass
Tuolomne Meadow
Tioga Pass

I remember driving through Tioga Pass. I held my breath everytime I made a turn. To the left, it was high rocky wall and to the right, a deep cliff. I quickly realized I was just a tiny speck of matter, an extremely vulnerable existence indeed. The grand, majestic mountains humbled me; the vastly open expanse above was going to swallow me alive. So breathtaking, so awesome, so magnificent, yet the Creator is more interested with a little creature, called man.

The sun, the moon, and the stars are ordered in such a precision so that the earth can sustain life. And if we're honest with ourselves, we'd admit that the earth is such a unique provision for our human existence. There has not been another planet nor star discovered that would be able to sustain the human life. Thus the heavens were created for the earth, the earth for man, and then, within man, man's spirit is for God (see Zech. 12:1). Reserved for the Creator Himself is the bull's eye of creation, our human spirit.

I looked at the greatness of nature and I thought, "Wow, my spirit contains the infinite Creator Himself? My spirit is greater than all these?" How petty it was, trying to take control of life and steer my future to a certain direction. If a boulder fell from the top of the mountain and hit my car, that would be the end of me. I am so small yet the Creator delights in making His home in my heart. I have been given a human life, a human spirit. Why not fulfill its purpose by filling it with the right Content, instead of trying to satisfy the vacuum inside with depleting momentariness?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L - A Washing from My Complicatedness

I can't exactly remember the sequence of all my conversations with Mrs. L. But I think my first long conversation with her was about my grandmother.

Mrs. L asked me how my grandmother was doing: her health and her Christian church life. Actually until today I'm still not clear how my grandmother and Mrs. L met. I only know my grandmother loves to send her bird's nest (an Asian delicacy for health). But I told Mrs. L that I had not talked to my grandmother for several months. At that time, I had a very tight schedule, busy with life, and my grandmother lived in another country so making a phone call was always difficult. Mrs. L smiled and told me, "Oh, your grandmother would be so happy if you call her. This is how older people are, they're just happy when their grandchildren talk to them. Your grandmother misses you."

There I was, thinking that she would teach me a very spiritual lesson in life. Yet it was so simple, so human. I couldn't explain it well but I felt like our conversation refreshed my soul. I experienced a washing from all my complicatedness. Before she even told me to call my grandmother, I knew my grandmother would love to hear my voice. My grandmother is a faithful believer of the Lord. She's always in the kitchen; serving others with food, hospitality, and fellowship. She's also faithful in visiting others who are in need, sharing the good news of salvation to so many. She cares for the younger ones, and she also remembers to attend to the older ones. But she has a tumultuous life; she herself needs others to encourage her to go on. This is why Christians are not meant to live an individualistic life, we need one another in so many ways.

My conversation with Mrs. L made me realize that as a young person, a young believer, I need to learn to be human, even to my closest relatives. My heart welled up with sweetness as I walked away from Mrs. L's house. I bought a new phone card, to call my far-away beloved grandmother.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Connecting with the Invisible

Many of us like to tune in for lots of things in the radio: news, music, etc. It's quite impressive to realize what's, literally, in the air surrounding us. Radio waves everywhere! We can't see it, we can't touch it, we can't smell it, we can't taste it, and when somehow floating in the air, we can't hear it. We need a particular instrument to actually receive radio waves. So in a radio, there is a receiver. Without the receiver, none of the radio waves from the air could be received by the radio. So it is actually possible for something to be real (existing) even though we can't use our five senses to substantiate it.

Today I was checking out some quotes from a website. I think it's quite interesting to read some of the quotes concerning the existence of God from other Christians such as Goethe, C.S. Lewis, and so forth. You should definitely have a look. But I would like to approach the existence of God from another angle.

The Bible says that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24a). In Greek, the word "Spirit" is pneuma, which can also be translated as breath, air, or wind. None of these (breath, air, or wind) is tangible or visible but you know you can breathe them in with your nose and they will pass through your entire respiratory system. The rest of John 4:24 says, "and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness." So there are 2 spirits involved here: Spirit and spirit. Spirit (with uppercase 'S') is God as Spirit, and the spirit (with lowercase 's') is actually the worshiper's spirit.

So, really, you don't need to prove if the air exists or not, you just have to breathe in with your nose and lungs. And you also don't need to prove if the radio waves exist or not, they're there, just make sure your radio receiver works. Likewise, to worship, contact, realize, receive God, we simply need the proper "organ", or "instrument". This "organ" is our human spirit, the deepest part of our being.

Our human spirit is the receiver that has been specifically designed to be in tune with God, who Himself is Spirit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L: Meeting Mrs. L

Continuing from Conversations with Mrs. L's Introduction, Mrs. L invited me to come by her house any time I wanted to. So I did, actually I did several times just to say hi but I had been wanting to sit down and have some conversations about the multi-faceted human life.

meetingI've learned throughout the years that we, the younger generation, need to learn shortcuts in life lessons. One of my friends told me that he wished he could be let alone so that he could learn from his own mistakes. I'd say, yes, on one hand, there is no way we can bypass making mistakes but on the other hand, why not learn from the older ones and have a head start in things? We need not repeat bad history.

Mrs. L is a dear and mature Christian. I went to her house, sat on one of her chairs in the living room, and asked her, "Mrs. L, can I visit you more often and spend some time with you?" She paused, she was hesitant at first because she was not sure with what kind of heart I asked her that question. You know, when you've lived for almost a century you've met tons of people and you've gone through lots of human and spiritual experiences, you begin to be able to figure things out, figure people out. That's how that moment felt like. I think she was discerning me. So I explained to her how I loved to learn and how much I appreciated learning lessons in life from someone much older, especially someone who had passed through human life with an unwavering and ever-growing faith.

She had a big smile on her face...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Facts for Life (Human Body)

So on the last post, I guess you have to have a flash player to play the slideshow. Sorry about that, since the post would be a little harder to follow without it. Anyway, moving on. More findings from a booklet called "There is God":

human anatomy
1. The human heart pumps 72 times a minute, or 40 million times a year, while awake or asleep. Every day an adult heart pumps blood through 100,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to travel around the world 4 times. It pumps enough blood to fill 2,000-gallon tank car every day. If one were to pile up the red blood cells in his body, the height would exceed that of Mt. Everest 5,000 times.

2. The nose inhales air 17 times a minute. Everyday it has to process about 14,000 liters of air. In addition to adjusting the temperature of the air, it also has to temper its humidity and filter its dust. A man-made machine that will handle all these three functions might weigh 100 lbs. 

Let's make up a some-million-years experiment. So here it is:
  -Prepare a bunch of wires
  -Put it on the ground, and that's it! Just leave 'em for some million years. 

Do you really think that some million years later it will turn into a super computer? Of course not! Someone needs to build a computer with those wires if you want to have a computer. Likewise, can you just throw some microorganisms and let them flourish into a civilization?

Okay, so wires are lifeless objects. Let's take another vantage point of this. Given the jaw-dropping facts above for what a human body does, think about this: human being does develop from two cells, and you know what, the fetus consistently turns out to be human. 

There are too many signs of harmony, consistency, regularity, proportion, and stability for a mere random origin. One of these days, we all need to admit that our existence is truly a wondrous design. 

Last thought to consider for the day: now, if I had to spend multi-million dollars for a particular project, that means I must have had a great purpose in mind to be able to want to invest that big. Right? 

Check this out, if the Maker of this universe were to charge man for our energy consumption (the sun, the air, etc), we would have to come up with more than 160,000,000,000,000 US dollars a day. But all this sunshine and air has come to us free!

It's then safe to say, the greatest purpose of all lies in the possession of the Maker of this wondrous design, i.e. God's purpose = the meaning of our existence