seriously, the best email I’ve gotten in a long time

term of endearment ~

obligatory acknowledgment of time since last communicade. onimonipoetic outburst. excited statement. question. question. question. reference to shared memory that then results in related question.

random observation paired with subtly profound ditzy reflection.

necessary segway to turn focus on me without appearing selfish. qualified statement. negative statement. stressed conjunction followed immediately by overly optimistic statement. boring statement for balance. loosely connected interesting fact. immediate universal life frustration statement coupled with tag question. emotocon.

abrupt non-sequitur, childish nickname, statement laced with subtle hint of impending time constraint.

final obligatory question.

heartfelt wish for future correspondence.

closing,
amusing nickname using the structure Mc____pants.

He prepares a table for me in the presences of my enemies

There are people I prefer not to communicate with, people I don’t like, people who irritate me, and I’m can only expect the opposite. Not everyone can like me. (Why do I expect that they do?)

A lot of the people in the Bible had great enemies — Jacob, Elijah, David, and especially Jesus. They lived lives so close to God, in such strong relationships with Him that many people hated them and wanted them dead.

If that’s a consequence of being a Christian, shouldn’t I also have enemies? I know of people in the past who don’t like be because I am a Christian. Maybe I just don’t want to call people enemies? Or, that’s the result of living in mainly Christian environments for most of my life. So now, working at Washington among all non-Christians, I should meet some people who hate Christians. Which is kind of scary. I don’t want people to hate me.

“But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73)

Who You Are

(“The Weekly Walk” from Walk in the Word)

You ought to live . . . to please God . . . For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
– 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

As a pastor, I often hear questions about God’s will. “What does God want me to do?” is the most common, but there are others: “Where does God want me to live?” “Who does God want me to marry?” “What job does God want me to take?”

This may come as a surprise to you, but the Bible doesn’t spend any time on that stuff. God’s focus isn’t so much on the externals; He wants to change the inner you.

God’s will is 98 percent about who you are. Need evidence? Check out 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3: “You ought to live . . . to please God. . . . For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

The word “sanctification” comes from a root word that means “to make holy.” Sanctification is the process by which God takes sinful people and makes them holy. (It’s not really as churchy as it sounds.) Holy is a great word; it means “set apart” or “distinct.” It means “different from the sinful world around us.” It means being like God.

Next time you are struggling to know what God could be doing, just say to yourself, “He’s changing me,” and you’ll be right. Next time disappointments or heartaches come, try to recognize that God Himself is holding the hammer and chisel.

But why? Here’s the hard truth that sets people free: God does not exist to fulfill our purposes; we exist to fulfill His purposes. You and I are here because God wants to demonstrate His power and splendor through our lives, and if you realize that you are not doing that very well, then you truly understand why He wants to change you. He wants to get you to the place where no matter what happens to you or what you go through, you trust Him and follow Him and are committed wholly to His goodness. And so He’s coming after you, and He’s trying to change you. Let Him do His work in you, and watch Him display His awesomeness through you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

When I was growing up, my sisters and I would make Breakfast in Bed for la mere, surprise her with the Spice Girls’ song, “Mama” and some delicious apple pancakes! And then she would get up, go outside do some work on the yard while we played video games inside. Or homework (koffkoff!). 

Now that I’m an adult and living across a country and ocean (Canada and the Pacific), it’s hard for me to do something for her. I’m terrible at sending packages on time! The last Christmas package I sent was maybe two weeks late! 

My mom has such a strong spirit. I know that she could not have done what she has done in my life and hers without this strength from God (thanks, God!). Her father died in a car accident when she was 16. Her husband died when her children were so young. She raised three young girls through some of the toughest years of their lives (a.k.a. the teenage years!). She didn’t get married again, and showed her strength and independence which I really admire. She leaned on the church when it was really tough. I saw that and learned to rely on my Christian brothers and sisters in my life. 

God has placed His hand on my life, and a large part of my life is of course the impact of the relationship I have with my mother. When I think of everything we have been through, separately and together, I am amazed that God has not only not forgotten us, but has given us His Spirit so that we can grow in Him, and love and honour Him with our lives. Not by strength, not by power, but by the LORD’s Spirit is how we have survived our lives!

suffering

1 Peter 4

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Call me crazy, but I want to go through suffering. I just listened to a sermon on Walk in the Word (here), and I want to go through some suffering. I’ve been through a lot in my life so far, and now when I look back at what I have been through I can see where it’s been the hardest and where I have seen God most clearly. I want to bring glory to God. I want to see Him working in my life. If that is through suffering, then so be it.

(But when I really think about suffering, about what could go wrong in my life, I cringe at some of the ideas that I think about. Do I really have the strength/faith in God to go through it?)

My life in Kumamoto has been really easy. My job is easy, relaxed, my students are fun, my coworkers are kind, generous people (who have taught me a LOT! wow… and not just about work stuff, about who I want to be!), my church friends are great, the only thing I really have to complain about is the weather! I am so lucky to be able to live here. I can pay off my student loans quickly enough, and God has really blessed me here.

An I really ready to go through some suffering?