Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Real Problem

God has been teaching me lately that I must learn to love my own people. The Americans. The ones whom I came back to this summer and were bitter towards. The ones who have turned their many blessings into curses. The ones who are absorbed in material possessions. The ones who have kicked God out of public schools. The ones who live in this society of pleasure and possessions. The ones who turn this beautiful life into a rat-race of achieving the American dream. Yes, these are the ones. These are the people I am a part of. I am one of them.

I am the problem.

Perhaps it has taken me a while to realize that. Perhaps it has taken a lot of humbling from my bitterness to come to this conclusion. I now realize that this is true. I am an American. I was born in America for a reason. As much as I yearn to get out of this society and out of this culture at times, I am here. God has placed me here "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Until He leads me to another country, I am an American. I must realize this because this is the truth.

So, if I am the problem, what am I doing to solve it? Bitterness does nothing but cause hatred towards others. Pride does nothing but cause me to fall. Humbleness and surrender and love, however... These are what change things. These are what cause American hearts to soften. These are what cause the homeless of America to have hope. These are what cause the depressed and lonely ones of my city to be held in arms of love and to be comforted. These are what cause the blind ones who have no hope for anything other than what the American dream has to offer them to see what great things are in store for those "who love God and who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). These are what pierce bitterness and pride. A heart of surrender is a heart willing to give up - hopeless plans, dreams, aspirations, and desires of our own - and to pick up His for us. A heart of surrender yields a life of fulfillment. It is only when God is leading my life and when HE is the center of my life that my life means anything at all. My life is nothing except what God makes it to be. It is all about Him.

Yes, I am the problem. I must learn to love the people that God has placed around me... the Americans. My people.

Yesterday I was driving down the road and saw two little girls running down the street after school, laughing. It made me smile; it made my heart smile! These are the ones who God has placed me with. These are the people I am a part of.

Lord, show me how to love. Show me how to have an open heart to You and to these people You have placed me with. You died for them just as much as You died for me. They can have as much hope as I have. They are just as much created by You as all of those in the poverty-stricken countries. The truth is, they are also poor... You are showing me that. Some materially, but most spiritually... And by Your Grace, I am rich with Your Salvation. Thank You, Jesus! May I have the obedience and humbleness to show them YOU and Your love. Amen!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heart on Fire

My heart is on fire. What do I do with this passion? More than that, what do I do with this holy dissatisfaction? I am very, very dissatisfied. I am not satisfied with the normal life that society is offering to me. I am not satisfied with the way that many Christians are living. I want so much more than this. I was made for more than this. This normal, American life is not what I want. It is not what I need. I find it more discouraging than satisfying. I find it more boring than exciting. It is not appealing to me at all.

Something that is really firing up this passion are Christians. I am dissatisfied. I believe that Jesus asked much more of us than what we are giving. I believe that God made us for so much more than what we are living out.

When will we ever stand up? When will we ever get out of our comfortable seats and take a stand? When will we ever get out of our fancy homes and into the dark and dirty streets? When will we ever allow ourselves to mess up our "made up" American look and sit in the dirt with the least of these? When will we ever knock down the four walls of our beautiful cathedrals and welcome the "sinners" with open arms of love?

Even if it means that we are standing alone... and yet it should not be that way. We were never made to live this life alone. That is why God calls us the Body of Christ. Christians, if we are followers of God and ambassadors of Christ as we claim to be, then we must stand together! We must stand as one Body of Christ, as the Lord intended it and created it to be!

My heart is on fire. Something must be done. What do I do with this passion? I do not want to live the normal, mundane life that Americans live. If it means that the Lord sends me to another country where the normal is to have nothing, where the mundane is to go hungry... then Lord, lead me and give me strength! Or perhaps the Lord wants me to live here, in this society... Perhaps this passion can be used here. I am trying to learn to live life with open hands, with whatever it is that the Lord has for me.

Going to college out of high school, getting a successful career, getting married, having kids, buying a house, a car, saving for retirement, retiring, and dying... Is that really what the American society has to offer me? I must kindly refuse this... this is not what I was born for. This, my fellow Americans, is not what I want.

Lord, teach me more of what it means to follow You. Teach me more of what it means to see this world through Your eyes. Teach me more of what it means to live life with open hands. Teach me to follow You and to never run ahead of You. I never want to be able to look back and see Your face. Please, go ahead of me and lead me always...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Big Dreamer with a Bit of Fear...

So, it is a new year now... 2010 already! I do not believe that there are adequate words to describe the incredible journey that the Lord has taken me on this past year. I also do not believe that the journey began with the beginning of 2009 or that it closed with the end of 2009. This journey is a journey-of-a-lifetime... in every sense of the phrase! It is the most exciting endeavor I have ever pursued and I am very excited for what the Lord has for 2010! I know that there are going to be hard times, but overall I believe with all of my heart that it is going to be a good year.

Today at church my pastor's message really spoke to my heart. He was talking about how God is a God of vision. If He were not, we would not be here. The world would not be here. He would still be living in eternity, but He would not have created the world and He would not have created us. We must also have a vision - a dream! - for our lives. God didn't create us so that we could just exist. He created us to LIVE... to dream... to have vision and to carry out that vision by His strength. He created us to carry out His work. The most successful people in history have always been the ones who have had a goal, a plan, a vision, a dream... What about me?

Me... well, I am a big dreamer. I always have been and probably always will be. However, oftentimes I have been too scared to dream big. "Dream big?" the world says... "Why dream big? You need to think realistically!" Well, I believe that to dream big when serving such a faithful, possible, all-powerful God is to dream realistically. If I really believe that God is who He says He is - all-powerful, awesome, faithful - then wouldn't it be a contradiction to have little dreams and little faith while at the same time serving and following and living for God? I believe so.

Yet, there is something that easily gets in the way of that... Fear... it is an overwhelming sickness. No, more than that. It is a bondage. It is as if there are chains with "fear, fear, fear" written all over them that fasten and secure themselves tightly around hearts and souls all over the world. The fear to dream and to have big faith seems to want to quickly fasten its chains around my heart. That is how I started out the new year - fearful and afraid to dream big dreams and it left me miserable.

Thank You, Jesus, for releasing the chains!

I cannot go on living life in fear of dreaming big dreams, of living out large faith, of radically living for my King, of pursuing His life for me... To live in fear of these things suffocates and chokes my heart and I cannot live like that.

I believe with all of my heart that big dreams with big faith and an awesome God equal a life of excitement and fulfillment... a life greater than anything I could ever ask for or imagine! Great things are yet to come and great things are still to be done here!