Google Simply Katherine, a Christian on campus: 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spiritual Struggles

On my post last week concerning the transitioning from the living of a life of struggle to the living of grace, I ended with a question: What does that mean "to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life"? This question originates from a quote from the book, "The Bridge and Channel of God" by Witness Lee:

"The question you should ask is: How can one come out of a life of struggle and self-effort and enter into a living of spiritual spontaneity? The answer to this question is that you need to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life. Then at a certain stage you will spontaneously be joined to the automatic law of life. In Romans 8 this law is called 'the law of the Spirit of life.' "

Before going into further elaboration, I would like to point out that there are three words for life in Greek. The first is bios, which means the physical life; the root word of biology. The second is psuche, which means the psychological life, or the life of the soul. The last is zoe, which is the spiritual or divine life.

Nevertheless, to simply substantiate zoe as merely spiritual still falls short because among the aforementioned three, only zoe has the characteristic of being divine and eternal. Why? It's because zoe, the divine life, is God Himself for only God Himself is divine and eternal.


Going back to the matter of spiritual struggles being interwoven with life and joined to life. This matter then becomes clearer that in our spiritual struggles to turn to the Lord, in our spiritual crises to choose Him, we must not put the divine life aside, the Lord Himself aside

In other words, as we're struggling to stop our being from being anxious, we must invite life in by spontaneously praying, "Lord, I don't know how to stop worrying about this matter. Come in! Be my rest and peace within." As we're going through a crisis in laying aside our own interest and choosing the Lord, we can simply join ourselves to life by praying, "Lord, you know the inclination of my heart, but I cling to You. Even if I have to rebel against my own desires, I fully depend on You to arbitrate and resolve my sense of value. Show me Your worth. Draw me and we will run after You."

Interwoven implies that such interaction, this process, must happen again and again until we can't tell whether it is our struggling or it is our gaining the Lord for they have become one. Joined means whatever may happen, whether we are in a low or high state in our spiritual life, we would not cut off our conversations with the Lord Jesus.

Honestly, the experience and enjoyment of the Lord Jesus as God Himself, as zoe, in both our human and spiritual life is truly multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and multi-layered. To know the fact that Christ is life and He lives inside of us is just the beginning of our lifetime journey to enter deeper into Him and into the depths of His heart's desire. What a glorious future! That is why Christ in us is the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:27,
To whom God willed to make known what are the 1ariches of the glory of this bmystery among the Gentiles, 2which is 3cChrist 4in you, thedhope of 5eglory,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Living a Life of Struggle and The Living of Grace

Recently I have been reading a book entitled "The Bridge and Channel of God" by Witness Lee. The first four chapters of this book were spoken to college-age Christians in 1953. Some of these chapters consist of very practical spiritual questions and answers.

Today I'd like to write about one of the questions asked by one of the college students in the book: How do we go from a living of grace to a living of reality?

Firstly, the book clarifies that according to the truth, grace is reality: "In fact, Christ, life, grace, and reality are one." However, the author continues to expound on the two levels of the Christian living.

The first level of living being a living of self-struggle, where you use your own strength to enjoy God's grace. For instance, when someone speaks unpleasant words to you, you will patiently smile and try not to lose your temper. Seemingly this is a proper thing to do, yet it involves self-effort.

The second level of living is the living of grace, that is, the living of reality. The key to this living is spontaneity. Without struggling and striving, you would smile when someone wrongly accuses you. Without any effort, you would be able to enjoy a morning revival with the Lord before the day breaks and pray throughout the day.

For the longest time, I'd be very disappointed at myself when I felt like I was always struggling to enjoy the Lord's grace. I would question myself, "Why is it difficult to wake up in the morning? Why is it so difficult to deal with others' unpleasant words? Why is it difficult to control my reactions to things? What is wrong with me?"

Now the following revelation is truly refreshing, that we would always begin with the first level of living. A most amazing fact is implied in this quote:

"However, after frequently having this kind of struggle and exertion, you will gradually come out of this stage and enter into the stage of spontaneity. To illustrate, one who has learned to ride a bicycle knows that in the beginning he quickly learned to ride in a straight line, but he simply did not know how to make turns easily. Every turn required much effort. But after he rode the bicycle for a certain period, one day making turns became very spontaneous. 

Apparently, he exerted his effort, but in reality, he rode by a spontaneous strength. Learning to apply the brakes is in the same principle. One who has learned this knows that in the beginning applying the brakes was not his spontaneous power at all, but it required that he use his own strength to struggle to learn. Gradually, as a person practices to ride a bicycle, he spontaneously rides faster and faster and more and more steadily."

practicing
It's gradual! There's a process! In a sense, we can't escape the struggles. We don't like to wake up in the morning to have time with the Lord, but we still have to force ourselves to get up. We don't like to hear the unpleasant words, but we still have to be careful not to react in an improper way. However, there must be a turning point in both our overall living and the many specific aspects of our Christian living. It's the turning from self-effort to grace, from the superficial self to the depths of God.

Then the author concludes:

"The question you should ask is: How can one come out of a life of struggle and self-effort and enter into a living of spiritual spontaneity? The answer to this question is that you need to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life. Then at a certain stage you will spontaneously be joined to the automatic law of life. In Romans 8 this law is called 'the law of the Spirit of life.' "

I read and pondered this paragraph over and over again. What does that mean "to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life"? I will continue this in my next post.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What If My Prayer Is Conditional

Recently I have encountered another interesting question, "What if my prayer is conditional? Is that okay? Can I pray a conditional prayer?" In other words, can we pray something like "Lord, I would like to serve You but will You promise to take care of my life, my family, my financial situation, et cetera"?

A true story has pricked my heart. There was a sister in the Lord who served for a long period of time. She devoted her time in so many ways. However, in the latter part of her years, she began to consider that she had gained nothing out of her many years of hard labor and sufferings. So she gave up her serving life to catch up on all the things that she had missed out in "life."

What happened? I was told that she didn't have a mind to suffer. The motive of her service was not to lose but to gain.

My sister happened to hear this story so she called me over the phone with a realization that she didn't have a mind to suffer. It was her question: "Can I pray a conditional prayer?" The truth is if we are honest with ourselves, we too would ask the same question. After all, in ourselves there is no trace of absoluteness. This is, sadly, the true human condition by default. Only Christ is the absolute One for God. That's why we need Him.

partial pie
My Conditional and Partial Heart
Therefore the ultimate response for this is, of course, the revelation of Christ Himself. If we spend time with Him, opening to Him, Christ will reveal Himself in us. In that day, our eyes will see that He is our true reward, our joy, our gain; He is everything we have ever wanted and needed. Then we shall give all with no regret.

Yet the question still lingers, "So... can I pray a conditional prayer?"

You may not consider what I'm about to mention are related to this question, but in essence, this question touches the matter of the heart. I was reminded of three portions in the Bible:
  1. The negative scene of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.
  2. Jacob's vow, "If God..., then..." in Genesis 28:20-22.
  3. Whenever the heart turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away in 2 Corinthians 3:16.
Ananias and Sapphira hid some of proceeds that they had gained from selling their property, then they went to the apostles and gave the rest of the proceeds as if they had given all. If we carefully read this account, the most serious problem here was not because they had kept some of the proceeds for themselves but it was because they had deceived not just the apostles but the Holy Spirit.

By all means, wanting something for ourselves is faulty but deceiving ourselves, others, and especially the Lord concerning the true condition of our heart is much graver. It's not like the Lord doesn't know anyway.

On the contrary, you may think Jacob's vow in Genesis 28 was poor and selfish. After God had promised to give him everything and be continually with him, Jacob's response was "if You do all that, then You can be my God." However, God had never given up on Jacob. His name was even changed from Jacob to Israel. This name change showed that God had marked out Jacob, that out of his seed God would possess a group of people called "the children of Israel." In his life, Jacob was gradually transformed by God from a mere selfish supplanter to a mature channel of blessings.

Amazing, isn't it? So going back to the question, "Can we pray a conditional prayer?"

I'd say whatever kind of prayer it is, just pray

We shall turn our heart to the Lord and reveal our true heart to Him. Just as we are, just pray, with a genuine and honest heart. For when we turn our heart to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away then we shall see Him clearly. For it is not our responsibility to fix our own hearts, Christ will reveal Himself in us to change our partial hearts into whole.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 say,

16 But whenever 1their heart turns to the Lord, the aveil is taken away.
17 1And the 2Lord is the 3aSpirit; and where the 4bSpirit of the Lord is, there is 5cfreedom.
18 1But 2we all with 3unveiled face, 4abeholding and reflecting like a 5bmirror the 6cglory of the Lord, are 7being dtransformed into the 8sameeimage 9from glory to fglory, even as 10from the 11Lord Spirit.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Time-Transcending Salvation

Genesis 3:24 says, "(God) drove the man out, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned in every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."

The Tree of Life


When God created man, He placed man in front of the tree of life so that man may partake of it and receive the eternal life. Yet man chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Consequently, sin entered into man and became one with man. In his fallen condition, man's body became flesh, his soul became the self, and his spirit was deadened.

This is why God blocked the access to the tree of life after man's fall lest man would partake of the tree of life while in sinful condition. Sin and eternal life cannot co-exist within man because God Himself is that life; how can then God and sin be hand-in-hand?

The Cherubim, The Flame, and the Sword


There is a more thorough elaboration on the significances of these three items guarding the tree of life in Genesis 3:24. In brief, the cherubim signifies God's glory, the flame is God's holiness, and the sword is God's righteousness.Thus it was God's glory, holiness, and righteousness that closed the way for man to partake of the tree of life. These are the requirements that need to be fulfilled for man to contact God.

Christ is the Fulfillment of God's Glory, Holiness, and Righteousness


Christ's redemption fulfilled all the requirements above: glory, holiness, and righteousness. In Christ alone, we can thus contact God and partake once more of the tree of life, which is essentially God Himself in Christ as the eternal life to us.

In Hebrews 10:20, it is clear that Christ's blood has opened a new and living way for us to enter into the presence of God, into God Himself. This is awesome!

Abel, Enosh, Enoch


Now let us continue on. The accounts of Abel, Enosh, and Enoch in Genesis chapters 4 and 5 immediately followed after God's dealing of the fall of man. These three men's lives were written in the Bible in such a particular way.

Abel was famous for being the first victim of murder, but actually, the highlight of his life was the fact that he offered a well-pleasing sacrifice to God. He took God's way of redemption, which was through the shedding of blood. If you pay more attention, later on the children of Israel had to present their offerings in the same way that Abel did. Abel's offering was a type of our offering of Christ to satisfy God's righteous demand. 

Enosh means frail. In Genesis 4:26, it was mentioned that at his time, men began to call upon the name of the Lord. When you call on someone's name, you get the person. In the same way, when we call upon the Lord's name, we get His person. Enosh realized the frailty of human life, thus he partook of another life. He became a partaker of the divine nature. By calling upon the Lord's name, Enosh was constituted with holiness itself because only God is holy.

Enoch walked with God in Genesis 5, then he was not because God took him. Enoch lived with God as his Partner, his Companion. Enoch was taken up in glory. 

Abel, Enosh, and Enoch were constituted with Christ as righteousness, holiness, and glory-- the very same requirements that barred man from partaking of the tree of life.

Although in time, the event of Christ's redemption had not taken place yet. In a real sense, the experience and enjoyment of who Christ is and what He has done to bring man back to the tree of life, back to God, had been applied to Abel, Enosh, and Enoch's lives.


Time-Transcending Salvation


It is rather divine and mysterious. How can the people of God in the Old Testament experience God's salvation in and through Christ? I shall not try to explain how, nevertheless I'm awestruck by the fact that immediately after the fall, God had provided salvation. In other words, beyond the context of time, there was not any delay in the application of God's salvation. In fact, Revelation 13:8 shows that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.

God's salvation is mind-blowing. We can stop analyzing and simply begin experiencing the thoroughness of God's full salvation. Aren't we convinced yet that our God is fixated on bringing us all back to Himself to be one with Him?

We shall follow the pattern in Psalms 116:12-13.

12 What shall I return to Jehovah For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of Jehovah.

For further reading:

Lee, Witness. Life-Study of Genesis. Ch. 21, Sect. 7.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Christ is Primary or Luxury?

I know I always have the same excuse, but more than ever, recently I feel like I've been buried in paperwork plus all sorts of other responsibilities on top of that. I don't mind being busy that much but I think the Lord is putting me to a stop for a bit. I'm sick with a cold and two injured toes. So FINALLY, I have time to blog!

About two weeks ago, I flew to California to visit some Christians who are attending a Biblical Truths and Character Training. During my time there, I had a conversation with one of them, a good friend of mine. It all started with a question, something like, "Katherine, being in the training is like living in a special bubble. It is very easy to enjoy the Lord here, but when I go home, I feel like there are so many distractions, many things I used to enjoy doing that I wouldn't mind going back to." Then she sighed.

In a sense, her question encompasses all of our questions. We do love the Lord, but it's very difficult to love only Him, especially when our environment is rather treating us well.

When she asked that question, inwardly I actually asked myself the same question. First, I realized that no matter what I do, my love for the Lord Jesus consistently fell short. Then the Lord changed the paradigm by bringing forth this question, "Katherine, am I a luxury to you?"

pearl

What a convicting inquiry because in essence, a luxury is an accessory. Your life is better if you have it, but you can still live on if you don't have it.

Oftentimes we are worried that we would leave the Lord behind to chase after other things. We are worried that the Lord Jesus Himself would not be enough. We are worried because we do not trust ourselves. These are all legitimate fears of God-fearing people.

However, at the end of the day, we must come to the Lord to genuinely consider our lives and consider who He is and has been to us. We must pray with an honest heart:

Lord, who are You to me?
Can I give up You as my food, my water, my shelter, my clothing?
Can I live without You?

I don't know about you, but every time I pray such words I come to my senses. Deep down, I truly know that:

The Lord Jesus is my Primary need, 
that my heart yearns for Him, 
that He is all I really want, 
that I cannot live without Him,
that I do love Him.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Andrew Murray on "Christ Our Life"

Yesterday I went to my favorite bookstore and found Andrew Murray's Absolute Surrender. As I was flipping the pages this morning, I found a striking portion on pages 101-102 within a chapter called Christ Our Life.

Andrew Murray
"And then comes the last thought: Christ in us as our life and our strength. That is the crown of all. The young convert ordinarily understands very little of that. Many a believer has lived long in some experience of Christ with Him as Guide and Helper, but has never yet come to realise what this other means: Christ in me, my very life and my very strength. And yet that is what the Apostle Paul tells us is the great gospel mystery, the mystery that was hid for ages and generations, but has now been revealed; the mystery of God's people, of which has says "the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you." Christians, the riches and glory of our God in heaven are manifest to you in this -- God wants you to have Christ His Son living in you. Oh, may we come to that today -- not to ask for a little blessing, a beginning of blessings, but to have our whole life opened up to the indwelling, to the control, to the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ.

We speak to workers. Our great thought has been that of work. What is needed if God is to bless all these workers in London who have gathered together here? How is God's power to come and to work? Beloved, Christ is the power of God, and we want more of Christ, we want the whole Christ, we want Christ in every one of us revealed by the Holy Ghost, and then the power of God will work."


These are words of life to me. How about you? Andrew Murray lived from 1828 to 1917, but his experiences of Christ are relevant to us: real, deep, loving, and honest. I know this post may not have much content from myself but I'll still have to continue with Murray's thought of a church so filled with the Holy Spirit that the Spirit could say to that church: Set apart for Me the men that I have called for My work. Yet his question: How can each church be brought to this condition?

He answered, "Did not Jesus say, 'He that believeth on Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water?' And is not this by faith, by believing, that Christ comes and dwells in the heart, and becomes Himself the Fountain out of which the Holy Spirit flows?"

He also quoted a verse from Revelation 22:1-

"And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God -- and of the Lamb in the middle of the street."

I have little confidence in paraphrasing this brother's words, so I'll close my post with another good portion of quote from Murray's book. It's rather long but by all means inspiring and faith-infusing.

"Yes, the Lamb went and sat down upon the throne of glory, and the river of water of life flowed out. It is the Lamb who must lead you and me to the fountains of living water, and give them within our hearts, so that we shall have power to work among men -- not the power of reason, not the power of human love, and zeal, and earnestness, and diligence, but the power that comes from God.

Are you ready for that power? Are you ready to surrender yourself absolutely to God and receive it? Can you truly say: Lord, I am utterly given up to Thee. It is done feebly, tremblingly, but, Lord God, it is done. I have received but little of what I know my God can give, but as an empty vessel, cleansed and lowly, I place myself at Thy feet again, day by day, and moment by moment, and I wait upon my God?...

Our Convention will profit us very little unless it lead us closer up to God, and to have larger expectations from God, and closer fellowship with God. How can that be? Christ Jesus can do it for us. Christ is our life. He will live in us the same life He lived upon the earth. Shall we not expect Him to do it in the fulness of His promise? Shall we not come with every sin and every hindrance and every shortcoming and everything that causes self-condemnation, and cast it all at His feet, and believe the blood cleanses, and Jesus gives deliverance? Do believe, and then expect it and accept it, that God Himself will reveal Christ within us in the power of the Holy Spirit. God grant it to every beloved worker gathered here."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Little Prayer (A Song)

This week has been a busy week for a lot of my friends. For me, it's more like a downtime week since I've been not feeling well.

So I decided to learn a little bit of piano on the new keyboard that I just got from a good friend. As I was practicing some chords, the Lord Jesus reminded me to say a little prayer. So I prayed, with a little tune:

O Lord, my heart often untrue.
My consecration dwindles too.
Yet Thou, the never-fading One,
Fighting for me, my heart is won,
Conquered by Thee again.

To Thee who bled and died for me,
The One who came inside of me,
I repent for my fickle soul.
I plead Thee saturate me whole
With Thyself and Thy heart.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Christ is the Resurrection and the Life

Last week I wrote about Christ as the Resurrection and the Life. Furthermore, to experience Him as such hinges upon the fact that Christ lives inside of us and He wants to be our source of life.

Few weeks ago I was sharing my testimony with some freshmen about how I got involved with a Christian club on campus. Mainly I felt like I had to present what was the emphasis of this club from my personal experience.

Honestly, it was not like I prepared anything beforehand but I felt watered by the Lord myself as I was speaking concerning my own experience of Christ with the club. I personally feel that the highlight of this Christian club is the prevailing opportunities for all to not only dive into the Bible but also to speak for Christ, of Christ, and to speak forth Christ into others. 

What is so special about our speaking? Are we qualified to speak for the Lord? How is our speaking related to Christ as the resurrection and the life?

Good questions! But there are more good questions to follow:

First of all, isn't our God the speaking God? Didn't we hear about the Lord Jesus because someone spoke concerning Him to you? Doesn't faith come from hearing? How can we hear when no one is speaking?

Another set of good questions:

Why do human beings have the highest intelligence in communication skills, in language? Since the purpose of God's creation cannot be arbitrary, doesn't that mean our speaking ability is specifically designed by God for Himself? Then yes, we can speak for God and speak forth God into others. 

Now the catch is what is the content of our speaking. This is rather a repetitive statement but if we are speaking for God and speaking forth God into others, then our content must be God Himself, Christ Himself. This is the part where knowing Christ as the resurrection and the life becomes crucial.

On one hand, the apostles took the lead to preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). So of course, the gospel includes our telling out of the Lord Jesus who died the perfect redemption, the all-inclusive death, for us. We would tell others, "Do you know that the Lord Jesus has died for your sins?"

On the other hand, in the Book of Acts, the apostles repeatedly speak concerning the resurrected Christ, the witnessing (or testimony) of the resurrection, and the announcing of the resurrection as the gospel. Why resurrection?

Christ is the resurrection and the life

So I turned to these lovely freshmen, looked them in the eye, and said, "Our speaking of Christ and speaking forth Christ will be our testimony that He is the resurrected One, that He is now living in us because He is still speaking through us." 

If we only mention that Christ died for us, for our sins, and there is nothing more then being Christian would only mean we accepted a great gift from God but we still don't have anything to do with His Person.

Therefore, we must bear witness of the resurrection, that Christ is living! Christ is living inside of us! Furthermore, we testify this not only by our words, what about the speaking out from our living? 

Finally, I have no other answer concerning how to testify the resurrection and the life except to desperately come to the Lord who is the resurrection and the life and ask Him to save us from our own opinions, prejudices, and presumptuousness; from our own abilities, zeal, goodness, and fuel. We can ask Him to reveal to us how to live by another life source, that is Christ Himself as the resurrection and the life. 

I believe that the Lord simply wants to be our source, our life. Oftentimes out of a good heart, we scramble and struggle to get to the destination of pleasing God. Yet pleasing God without taking God as our source will eventually fall short from meeting His need, His heart's desire. The bottom line is everything else falls short, only the Son, Christ Himself, pleases God. Only God pleases God. This is our gospel.

Lord, have mercy on us. We confess that oftentimes we depend upon our own efforts. Lord, cause us to take You as our source, as our life supply, as our person.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Still Practicing Proper Valuation

I've been reading my last post again and to my surprise, it has helped me quite a bit this week because I was rather thrown into a complex situation, mainly from within. 

So basically, the beginning of every school semester is one of the busiest months of the year for me. I'm helping with a Christian club. I have responsibilities and practical services to do. I feel like the Lord is telling me, "Katherine, Katherine, you are anxious and troubled about many things." (Luke 10:41)

Gospel outreachThe Lord has reminded me again and again that it doesn't matter how great the need is, how marvelous the service is, we need to turn to the Lord and sit at His feet, loving Him and ministering to Him, just like Mary did. 

But then, when the rubber meets the road, when I do need to bear the responsibility to coordinate and serve with others, I was reminded of the account in the Gospel of John chapter 12. It's an account of the Lord Jesus having supper in Bethany. All the three siblings (Martha, Mary, and Lazarus) were there. Martha was serving. Mary was pouring out her love, all that she had, upon the Lord. Lazarus' presence was in itself a testimony of resurrection because he was raised from the dead.

These three persons are actually three aspects of the Christian living. It's a triangular living. On one hand, I can be serving in a practical way, such as cooking, handing out invitations, contacting people, etc. On the other hand, if my being is poured out only for the work, but not upon the Person, then everything is meaningless, isn't it? I realize that spending time with the Lord is foundational and indispensable. We must value and treasure our time with the Lord, especially when the labor increases.

Lastly, the resurrection life testified by Lazarus is also striking to me. There is only one Person who proclaims Himself as the resurrection and the life, the Lord Jesus. How can I be serving, loving Him, and testifying resurrection?

Resurrection means Christ is living in me and He wants to be the source of my life. Now this is a divine and mysterious statement, but this is our gospel today. I'll continue on my next post.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Life of Consecration: Concept of Value

Have I ever mentioned how challenging the Christian life is? Mainly it's because every day our Christian life is full of choices. Yes, our God is so great that He has given us the capacity and opportunity to choose. However, we must know what determines our choices because eventually what we choose becomes the daily practicality of our consecration to the Lord Jesus.
"As such, how we choose depends upon our valuation of things, and our valuation of different things determines and is related to the degree of our consecration. In this sense, we are consecrating ourselves each day by the choices we make." - Andrew Yu
What determines our choices is our concept of value. This is simple logic: you would always go for the more valuables, wouldn't you? So that part is easy. 

valuation
Now the more challenging piece is the presence of the proper vision to assign the proper valuation. If we do not see the value, we won't bother to pay the price. The question is "what's the worth of Christ to us?" 

Doctrinally, without any hesitance, I would say "Christ is preciousness itself." Yet in my experience, how I need a deeper seeing of who He truly is to me.

Recently I just began to muse upon the Lord's worth again and again, repenting of my habitual ignorance of who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. More specifically I've been recently touched with His giving Himself for me. Christ suffered and died for me. Not only that, He resurrected and became the life-giving Spirit so that He could get inside of me. Now He is living in me!

Being Christians does not mean we escape trials and tribulations, but that in the midst of all those we would experience more of Him and more of His shepherding. Our valuation of these trials must then change. Instead of complaining and lamenting, let us seek the Lord to grant us the proper vision of who He is in the midst of our complex situations.

Eventually when we treasure someone, we would also treasure that person's deep longing. What Christ deeply yearns is His church, the bride of Christ. If we truly know the value of the church in His heart, we would give our whole life to be the church that He desires, wouldn't we?

Lord, grant us sight! Grant us the proper vision!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Never-fading One

The Lord Jesus Christ is the unfading One!  

Many things have transpired since the last time I wrote a blog post. I went to Mrs. L's burial service, went to Maine for a trip, my paternal grandmother passed away, and I've had a super busy summer being a staffer for a UT Christian club in Austin. Also I just got back from a long family trip.

As every day went by, I was lamenting on the fact that my time with the Lord diminished rather fast. My body was just tired from all the activities in these past few months. I think almost everyday, I simply told the Lord how tired I was. 

One night during my family trip, I was sleeping after a long day of driving up to the mountain. In my dream, I met my late paternal grandmother, a true person of prayer, worrying about her children and grandchildren. Now I'm not into dreams and all that but my spirit was stirred up in my sleep. 

I told her not to worry, not to look back. I told her, "Our Christ will do it. He is able and faithful." She then left but for some reason, from the deepest part of my being I began to declare very clearly, very definitely, "Lord, You are the never-fading One. My love dwindles, my heart fails, but You never fade. Your love never fade. Your faithfulness never fade."

I am not sure what happened then, but I woke up encouraged, fully infused with faith. What touched me the most was the fact that the Lord did not let me go: He reminded me of who He is and what He is able to do even in my sleep.

Remembering that night, this morning I craved the Word of God. I opened the bookmarked page in my Bible and read 2 Corinthians 13:14 with the help of remarkable footnotes. I can testify that God is good for food in His Word. I am eating the Living Bread and am indeed satisfied.

An excerpt from the footnote I read today:
In order to redeem fallen man that He might again have the position to be one with man, He became incarnated (John 1:1, 14) in the Son and through the Spirit (Luke 1:31-35) to be a man, and lived a human life on the earth, also in the Son (Luke 2:49) and by the Spirit (Luke 4:1; Matt. 12:28). At the beginning of His ministry on the earth, the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit (Matt. 3:16-17; Luke 4:18) in order that He might reach men and bring them back to Him. Just before He was crucified in the flesh and resurrected to become the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), He unveiled His mysterious trinity to His disciples in plain words (John 14--17), stating that the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (John 14:9-11), that the Spirit is the transfiguration of the Son (John 14:16-20), that the three, coexisting and coinhering simultaneously, are abiding with the believers for their enjoyment (John 14:23; 17:21-23), and that all that the Father has is the Son's and all that the Son possesses is received by the Spirit to be declared to the believers (John 16:13-15). Such a Trinity is altogether related to the dispensing of the processed God into His believers (John 14:17, 20; 15:4-5) that they may be one in and with the Triune God (John 17:21-23).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mrs. L went to be with the Lord

It's been one year and a half since I wrote a post on this series, "Conversations with Mrs. L." Yesterday morning, Mrs. L peacefully went to be with the Lord at the age of, I believe, 95. 

Days prior to her departure, Mrs. L was still memorizing Ephesians 1:17, pray-reading His word, and asking some young sisters in the Lord to sing hymns to her.

I had been trying to see her whenever I could but in these recent years, she was too weak to receive out of town guests so I did not get to meet her. It is okay, I have no regret. I treasure the rather brief time that I've had with her. 

Although my tears have not yet stopped flowing, Mrs. L's passing was peaceful, graceful, inspiring, humbling, and fragrant. 

Mrs. L, we called her "our dear sister Lee," had a very particular portion in the church. She is a true pattern for us, the young sisters. The loss is massive because she was a pillar in the church. Her prayer life was strong and stable, both weapons and walls. Her shepherding life nurtured many believers, both young and old. Her person was a treasure house of experiences of Christ as life. I can go on and on, but let's just say her portion in the church was quite immense. 

Do you know why? Not because Mrs. L was a mere refined, perfect person, but it was because with her, the Lord Jesus had so much freedom being lived out and magnified.

Mrs. L poured out her life for the Lord's coming. That means she lived for the Bride of Christ to be prepared, the Body of Christ to be built; for the younger believers to be perfected in life and function, to love the Lord, to serve Him with our whole being, to continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4); for the gospel of the kingdom to be spread throughout the nations. Also that means she lived for God's people to be recovered to His original intention in creating humanity- to express Him and to represent Him.

In particular, Mrs. L was always burdened to pray for the young generation to rise up and strongly continue what the Lord Jesus has been doing in His recovery. The Lord's recovery is indeed very profound but simultaneously simple. 

Our situation today parallels with the rebuilding of God's house and God's city in Jerusalem mentioned in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament. The children of Israel were taken into captivity in Babylon. Later very few of them returned to recover the house and the city in Jerusalem. This recovery was the preparation of Christ's first coming. Imagine if they had never returned, the prophecy of Christ being born in the city of David, Bethlehem, could never be fulfilled.

Likewise, today the building of God's house and God's city is very crucial for the sake of His second coming but not many are willing to choose this way. Many are busy fixing their own houses, some other many are worn out by the endless oppositions against God's building, and yet another many are simply swept into the world system of pleasures and struggles.

I am not criticizing anyone. These tears cannot stop flowing mainly because Mrs. L's life has humbled me to the uttermost. She has set the standard high with her living as a sister in the church, and I fall way too short. The most painful part is the realization that I cannot fix the way that I am.

Yet I am, by no means, discouraged. The vision must always be much higher than what we can presently be. That is why, it's called the controlling vision. Without it, we would live haphazardly.

The journey is still long and it is not just an individual journey. This is the journey of God's people on the road to being wholly recovered to God and His purpose.

So we are simply looking to the Lord, coming to the throne of grace to receive mercy and timely help so that we may go on and continue steadfastly, that we may receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him, the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in His people.

Ephesians 1:17-18,


17 That the 1aGod of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 2Father of glory, may give to you a 3bspirit of 4cwisdom and drevelation in the efull knowledge of Him,
18 The 1aeyes of your heart having been 2benlightened, that you may know what is the 3chope of His 4dcalling, and what are the 5eriches of the glory of His 6finheritance in the saints,




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God's Game Plan: The Secret Weapon

I know. It's not a game, it's a war.


the spiritual warOn one hand, Christ has won the victory through His first coming. He died an all-inclusive death that took care all the negative items in this universe, including Satan himself. Not only that, He resurrected and became the life-giving Spirit to indwell us and be everything to us. He also ascended, proving that indeed He had successfully accomplished God's redemption plan.

However, as long as practically He has not yet become the centrality, the center, and the universality, the everything, of our lives, of this whole universe, there's a war.

It seems like the whole world is going against our Bible reading time, our prayer time, our morning time with Lord, and on and on. It seems like we lose our temper and run out of patience all the time. There's a war.

The way to fulfill God's ultimate plan in the divine history is by Christ as the sevenfold intensified Spirit in our spirit (Please see references under this post). Without a doubt, there is only one way to accomplish God's purpose-- Christ Himself. The question is, where is He today?

Yes, He is in the heavens, but Colossians 1:27 clearly points out that Christ is also in us. When we received the Lord Jesus into us, He came into our human spirit as the Spirit to indwell us.

Many miss the importance of our human spirit, yet Zechariah 12:1 equals the heavens, the earth, and the spirit of man in one descriptive clause of who Jehovah is: "Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the the spirit of man within him."

Our human spirit is God's secret weapon to fulfill His purpose. 


How? Strictly speaking, what makes human God's masterpiece in His creation is not the humanity itself. What makes human the masterpiece of God is the spirit within. That spirit of man enables him to not only contact God but also to contain Him. The old creation has always been remote, separated, from the Creator. Yet the new creation contains the Creator, thus he is one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17). This is God's "new invention."

We have to know:
  1. That the secret weapon, our human spirit, exists; and
  2. That we can activate or switch it on.
When we switch our spirit on, we are saved. Isaiah 12 shows how our spirit is very much connected to our mouth:
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day- 
“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.  
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
We need to utter thanksgivings to the Lord, calling upon His name from the bottom of our being, singing, praising, making known what He has done to others. When we strike our spirit and fan it into flame, the Christ within will take over.

Now, another item that God has revealed to us is the enemy's strategy. Since this post has gotten very long, I will continue next time.

References:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"I do not love You, Lord"

I apologize for the long pause I had from blogging these past months. I moved to a new place so I've been incredibly busy and still am.

So in the midst of my busyness. My sister sent me a message telling me, "I think I do not love the Lord," and there she was in the middle of her stay in an intensive Bible truth and character training.

I wrote her back, "Did you mean you do not love Him enough?"

Few minutes later, she replied, "No, I mean like I don't."

Then we decided to pick up the phone and have a little fellowship while she was roaming around the grocery store and I was in the parking lot of another grocery store in another part of the country.

I asked my sister to clarify what she meant by not loving the Lord, and she explained how suddenly it hit her that she may love the Lord because she wanted something from Him.

As I was listening to her, it dawned on me how often I felt like "I don't love the Lord" myself. Yup, actually it so frequently happens that it has stopped being a discouragement to me.

God loves usI told my sister, "It's okay. We will always feel short in loving the Lord because we are always looking back. Yet our love for the Lord grows and matures."

Just like little children, oftentimes children's love is motivated by needs. They love you because they need you or need something from you. That is why they cannot have a spouse because they are not mature enough to love a husband or a wife.

Human love matures with growth in life. With time, we gradually learn to give in our loving, to self-sacrifice in our loving, and so forth. Love grows.

Likewise, the more we grow in our spiritual life, we will soon realize how childish and selfish our love toward the Lord has been thus far. But it's okay because back then, we were simply not as mature.

The ultimate truth is no one loves the Lord in the way the Lord wants us to love Him. We love because He first loved us.  


The Lord is our loving ability and our loving element. Without Him, we cannot love Him back. Nevertheless, our love toward the Lord will grow deeper as we spend more time with Him. If we keep looking back we shall realize how we always fall short in loving Him, but that's okay, that means our love has grown a little bit more at that moment in time. 

So my sister and I simply concluded that we truly need the Lord to love Him in a proper way. We ended our phone conversation feeling more encouraged to go on in our walk with the Lord Jesus.

1 John 4:19,
"We love because He first loved us."
That was the highlight of my day today. Thank You, Lord, that You loved us first and You have poured out Yourself as love into our hearts that we may love You back.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Tips for Christian Students in College

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a ministry series meeting for Christian students in college. The topic was about Christ's second coming and what our response and attitude should be.

Human Government in Daniel 2
The great human image in Daniel 2
refers to human government
(past, present, and future).
According to Daniel chapter 2, the destiny of the great human image (which symbolizes the totality of human government) is to be crushed by a stone cut without hands, which signifies Christ who was crucified and resurrected.

Throughout the ages, human government has been part of the world system, which lies in the evil one (1 John 5:19). This does not mean we are now rebels against our own government but in essence, we must see that in His second coming, Christ will establish His kingdom on this earth by crushing and replacing human government with all its unrighteousness and corruption.

There is so much to be said about human government and its destiny but more importantly, how does this vision relate to us?

We do not want to be rooted in the world and occupied by the anxieties of this life with its earthly pleasures. Last night I was helped with five practical tips for college students to respond to this vision of the end time:
  1. Read your Bible daily
  2. Pray with your spiritual companions regularly 
  3. Find a home to enjoy fellowship weekly
  4. Speak to your friends boldly
  5. Come to the meetings habitually
By the Lord's mercy and grace, may we practice these healthy habits so that we will be found ready when our Lord Jesus returns.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Practice of the Church Life

"Where the church is, there is Christ, and where Christ is, there is the church. You can never separate Christ from the church. Whenever we speak about the church, we must know what Christ is and how He is related to the church." (The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, p. 33)

The Church Life


The church life needs practice, not just theory. Thus my attempt to expound on this matter will never be adequate. Nevertheless, I have been recently touched, convicted, and adjusted in my view concerning Christ and the church.

Usually when I see the church, I simply regard it as a body of believers, who are related by and in the divine life. In other words, I see the church as a living entity, the enlargement of Christ Himself because Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4) and our being together to express His Person is literally the extension of His days on this earth. The Lord Jesus is living again on the earth through us. Yet there is a practical side of the church that is called the church life.

The practice of the church life is the realm in which Christians live together as members of one another in the Body of Christ. 

It is more than a mere community, it is the church being practiced in the members' daily living. Our personal life, our relationships with one another, our meeting life, everything is part of this church life.

Furthermore, it is not just a society where people are placed together. Actually when we speak about the church, we must know what Christ is and how He is related to the church. This is what's so striking to me.