Google Simply Katherine, a Christian on campus: September 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to be a Christian

how to be a christian

Some are satisfied just to be saved from eternal perdition, while others have continued to struggle to be better Christians. The question has many facets, implications, and complications. How to be a Christian? Is it all about good deeds? Is it all about trying to obey the Ten Commandments? Is it about doing great things for God? Is it about getting hundreds of thousands saved? Or is it just about being saved from eternal perdition? Let's take a journey along the path of this big question.

To those who are seeking the Lord in a genuine way, naturally we all have a concept of needing to do something for God. Like the disciples themselves had asked, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" (John 6:28). Also in Exodus 19, the children of Israel answered, "All that Jehovah has spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8). To work for God is the mindset of most Christians throughout the ages.

This is how I often think of 'how to be a Christian' as well. However, the standard of God's work is, by no means, a human standard. Matthew 5:48 mentions, "You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." God's standard is God Himself. Yes, we can attempt to attain to this standard but in reality, we did and will always fall short of God's standard. So what then? Why then God put such high demands on us, if we can never attain them?

I don't know about you but I find the way the Lord answered the disciples' question in John 6 to be mysterious yet simultaneously revolutionary. Verse 29, "Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom He has sent." So, as how to work for God, the least we can do and the best we can do is to believe into Him, Jesus Christ, whom God has sent. That's awesome! God put the highest requirements on us to emphasize the fact that we cannot do things for God and to emphasize the need of our believing that He will do all things for us. He becomes the supply to meet His own demand. 

In Exodus 19, the children of Israel declared that they would do everything that Jehovah had spoken, but what had Jehovah been speaking? Jehovah was not telling them what to do, He was speaking concerning how He had done everything and would do everything for them-- He bore them on eagles' wings, He brought them to Himself to make them His personal treasure, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. I was deeply touched. I love the Lord but many times, I've misunderstood Him, thinking that He wants me to do something for Him. This shows how often I have loved blindly. The Lord wants to do everything for me, yet here I am, trying so hard to please Him without knowing what He truly desires. Believe it or not, His real desire is for me to believe into Him-- to believe that what I cannot, He can; what I have not, He has; what I am not, He is

"...God did not appear for the purpose of telling man what to do. Instead, God came again and again to make promises, promises which indicate that God's intention was to do everything for man. On our part we should simply turn to Him, seek Him, love Him, be one with Him, and stand with Him in His interest. Then He will do everything for us. This was the situation with Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These men received God's promise and they experienced Him coming to do things for them. God's intention is to do everything for His people" (Life-study of Exodus, pp.747-748).

You know, slowly I'm learning that what I really need is to subjectively know the Lord, not just know about Him. To believe into Him, I need to know who He is whom I have believed; and to know Him in this way, I need to spend more time with Him in His Word, praying while reading, reading while praying. This revelation has been a milestone in my journey, being a Christian.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

God's Salvation to Us

Dear readers,

I've been out from my daily routine this past week due to an injury. It's truly challenging, staying at home, not knowing how to best occupy my time. Well, a lot of my companions dropped by to see how I was doing. Their visitations were God's salvation to me, from wasting away my time doing other things. Whenever these ones came, they not only brought physical food but they were also ready to dispense spiritual food into my hungry spirit. We didn't do a serious Bible study or anything like that but... how should I say this? It was like they were living out the spiritual nourishment, Christ, into me in the most normal way.

I've also enjoyed reading an in-depth study of the Book of Exodus. I came across this matter of God's salvation depicted in the giving of God's law to the children of Israel in the Old Testament. Do you know what was God's original intention in giving out the law? In Exodus 19, this account was fully recorded.

It all started with a pleasant atmosphere. Jehovah was speaking in a lovely way. It was a word of love expressed by grace, "You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you unto Myself." This is God's salvation to us. It's not to just make us law-keepers, or to make us good people. God's salvation to us is to bring us back to Himself.

Every detail of our daily life has been arranged so that He can continually draw us to Himself. He has not only saved us from eternal perdition but He's saving us even now by bringing us back to Himself again and again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L - Letting the Brothers Take the Lead

let brothers take lead
Growing up, I was taught to be an independent thinker. So when Mrs. L mentioned this matter about letting the brothers to take the lead, I was somewhat puzzled. I understood that we, as sisters, should follow the brothers' lead but Mrs. L opened up another dimension on the matter. She said, letting; to me, that sounded like there was an implication of "you may not be thinking the same thing, but you would still let them take the lead." Now that was contrary to a popular notion out there -- "stand up for what you think is right."

I'd be the first one to confess that this isn't easy. Many times I insist on my ways because I genuinely thought that I was right, but if you think about it, that's exactly what the other person would think about his/her ways. So who's right?

In the end, it's not about being open-minded or conservative. God's ordination is God's highest wisdom in relation to His purpose. Actually my attempt to explain what Mrs. L implied in her words still falls short, but you know what, I simply received and kept her words in my heart. And do you know why they were "words of life"? With time, these words have continued to grow in my heart, adding more and more dimensions to Mrs. L's simple sentence, "Katherine, let the brothers take the lead."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L - The Role of a Woman in the Church

I've been blogging on my Christians on Campus series these days, so I just decided to revisit my experiences with Mrs. L. For those who want to read the previous posts on this series, click here for Conversations with Mrs. L


Recently, I've been wanting to write Mrs. L a letter. The last time I tried to visit her in July she was resting, recovering from a surgery, so I didn't get to see her or talk to her at all. Well, since she needed a lot of rest, I thought maybe I could just write her a letter so that she'd be able to read it at her convenience. But I never get to write anything yet.

I really want to thank her for all her words of grace, of life, that she had infused into my being. In particular, I was always impressed with her answer to the question I had concerning the role of a woman in the church. I know, I know, you may think it's an old-fashioned concept. "I'm young and capable, so why be limited with this thought of how to function as a woman, a sister, in the church?" many thought. Honestly, I believe the best way to address this matter is just to confess that, by the Lord's mercy, my heart inclines toward the Word of God. In the Book of Genesis, God created man and woman; and in the church, God has a certain ordination as well. I don't know about you but in my experience, whenever I stay within God's ordination, deep within me, I truly enjoy the sense of "life and peace". I'm not here campaigning for a certain ideology or doing anything of that sort. 

To be honest, I was a little hesitant to ask her this question because I thought surely she'd say, as sisters, our primary function is to pray. We have plenty of examples of women praying in the New Testament. FYI, I specifically mentioned sisters to Mrs. L because of the fact that as believers, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, possessing the same divine life within us, having the same Father, belonging to God's own family. I didn't intend to ask her an obvious question, but one time I was talking to her son-in-law. He said, "Just ask questions, even those that you think you already knew the answers to." So based on that, I asked the question, "Mrs. L, what is our primary role as sisters in the church?" 

Like always, Mrs. L answered in a warm yet steady tone, "We need to let the brothers take the lead, Katherine." At first, I was simply amazed with how Mrs. L put this matter of the sisters submitting to the brothers' leadership as our primary position in the church, but what is this thing about letting the brothers to take the lead? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Divine Accounting

My sister, Po, is studying accounting in one of the top business schools in the U.S. She's super busy but I appreciate her endeavor to make time for the Lord and the church life. That's an important prelude to my story. So here we go.

divine accounting

Long story short, about two years ago, I was given the responsibility to own a house (I know it sounds strange, I should be happy getting a house for "free"). Yet with that ownership, there would be taxes and other liabilities. In my head, a balance sheet kept appearing. That's right, every asset is always followed by some kind of liabilities. Well, let's see. Fixed assets are tied to depreciation. Current assets can incur operating expenses, e.g., inventory generates the cost of holding goods in stock. Liquid cash is vulnerable to inflation rate, while accounts receivable are problematic in themselves if they're never met with actual payments. It wasn't that difficult to come up with a realization that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Only Christ is pure gain. It's a fact because my experiences of Christ have confirmed this again and again. Christ does not depreciate, on the contrary, the more I know Him in a deeper way, His value exponentially appreciates. 

Also, if you have any background in economics (Po studied that too), there's this measure of relative satisfaction received by a consumer after consuming a good or service, called utility. A good or service can cause a consumer's utility to increase but usually at a certain point the law of diminishing return kicks in. Okay, for those who don't know what I'm talking about, basically it's like this: when you eat your first glazed doughnut, it literally melts in your mouth; your second one tastes pretty good as well. But then your third is somehow a little bit hard to swallow, and by the time you get to the fourth one, you start feeling sick. So that's when the diminishing return begins because from then on the more you consume, the less happy you'll become. How disappointing - that's the first thing that comes to my mind. But it is not so with the enjoyment of God. By default, I'm always looking for something to make me happy, something to do to entertain me. Yet one day, I had an injury that didn't allow me to physically move much so I decided to sing hymns. I picked up a hymn book and started singing hymns with my whole heart day in and day out for several months. The enjoyment never grow old! Everyone, Christ is the real, pure enjoyment! Guess what, the taste of this enjoyment of Christ does not diminish; on the contrary, the more we enjoy Him, the deeper, richer, sweeter, fuller He becomes to us! It's pretty awesome!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Christians on Campus - I Needed a Home

Like always, please check out my previous post (Christians on Campus: Needing Older Christians) for context, everyone! This post is part of a series, entitled "Christians on Campus".

So Grace took me to this couple's house for a dinner one evening. Honestly, I can't remember when exactly we went to their house, but I think it was early in the Fall semester. It was just the four of us: the couple (Don and Judy), Grace, and I. We had a delicious home-cooked meal and chatted about many topics.

Don was interested in the geography of my home country. He was an extremely resourceful man, both in knowledge and spirituality. Judy was a very pleasant, warm lady. The whole atmosphere in that home was casual, loving, and comfortable. I couldn't help but falling in love with being in their home, being in their midst. My cheeks were sore that night because I couldn't stop smiling all evening.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that Don was the older man who gave practical Biblical lessons in the Christians on Campus Saturday night gatherings. Yes, what an awesome divine arrangement! So happy, so thankful, so restful when I found out that their home was open to receive a young freshman like me. At another dinner with them, Judy gave me a pair of winter gloves. I grew up in a tropical island so they were helping me with some tips on how to properly dress for the windy Texas winter. The gloves were too big for my hands (I lost one of the them that winter), but my heart was deeply touched receiving that token of love and care from them.
winter gloves
All my fond memories of this couple reminded me once more of how the Lord Himself had nurtured me in such a loving and intimate way, through this couple, through Grace. The Lord knew exactly what a young person like me needed. What I needed was that home- the best environment for me to grow in a normal way, both humanly and spiritually.