“Thank You for the trials”

Over the past few months, I’ve found a lot of comfort through listening to Sovereign Grace Music‘s album Come Weary Saints. It’s an oldie but a goodie! Throughout some recent trials and difficulties in life, the album has reminded me to fix my eyes upon Christ and Him crucified, and to look upon my trials with a new lens–a perspective that seeks to honor and glorify God for who He is, even through the midst of life’s challenges.

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Choosing a Life Science Major at UCLA

Quite a while back, I was talking to a close friend of mine about my desire to update my blog more often, but not having the time to invest into writing a meaningful and insightful post on a regular basis. He suggested that if I so desired, I should simply blog about things that interest me and are a part of who I am, which would probably not nearly require the amount of effort to polish and post.

That being said, I decided that I wanted to share some of the experiences I’ve learned during my time at UCLA—specifically, my career pursuits in the health care field and some of the practical aspects of that at my specific school. Knowing my current readership, this probably isn’t applicable or helpful to the vast majority of people that presently subscribe to updates from my blog, but hopefully it will help the one or two students that might come across this post from a search engine or referral in the future!

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“Found: God’s Will” by John MacArthur

For many, high school is a time where decisions about career paths are made, and for me it was no different. Yet, there was always an element of indecisiveness for me because of my uncertainty of the future. Thus, when asked about my future plans for career or ministry, it was easy, simple, and mindless for me to reply, “Oh, I don’t really know. I’m praying that God will reveal His will to me for my life.” Or sometimes I would even turn this into a prayer request: “Could you pray for me, that God would reveal His will for me to me?”

A lot of the material I wrote in a previous post hinges on the presupposition that God’s will is perspicuous and can be found in the pages of Scripture. I was first exposed to this idea in MacArthur’s book Found: God’s Will during my freshman year in college. Up until then, an element of immaturity may have played a role in my indecisiveness, but a full and accurate understanding of what the Scriptures teach on the will of God helped me to grow in this regard.

Briefly, as long as five presuppositions are fulfilled, Ps. 37:4 stands as the basic principle by which we can live our lives: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (ESV). There are a couple of different ways that I have interpreted this:

  1. Previously, I had believed that if I delighted myself in God, He would satisfy the preexisting desires that I had in my own heart.
  2. More recently, the view that I hold to now is that if I delight myself in God, He would place new desires in me as a reflection of His will in my life.

I don’t believe that these two interpretations are entirely mutually exclusive. It’s possible that preexisting desires in our hearts may indeed have been God’s will all along, and that He will fulfill them when we seek to honor and please Him first. But from my own experience, my preexisting desires were selfish in nature–I didn’t necessarily want those fulfilled because of His glory, but because of my own gain.

Thus, our desires are placed deliberately by God, and we should follow them! Of course, this hinges on the premise that you have “delighted yourself in the Lord”. John Piper discusses making Christ not only Savior and Lord, but Treasure and greatest delight, in Desiring God:

In recent years I have asked, “Do you receive Jesus as your Treasure?” Not just Savior (everybody wants out of hell, but not to be with Jesus). Not just Lord (they might submit begrudgingly). The key is: Do you treasure Him more than everything?

To expand upon this premise of “delighting yourself in the Lord”, John MacArthur pens Found: God’s Will. From Scripture, he presents five explicit instructions that God has commanded of us, which are His will (Scripture references are provided here):

  1. Saved
  2. Spirit-filled
  3. Sanctified
  4. Submissive
  5. Suffering

Within the pages of the Bible, God has clearly spelled out His will for us. Beyond these things, if these five conditions are true of our lives, then we should do what we so desire, for it is in those desires that God brings about His will for our lives.

Knowing this, our decision-making efforts is a practical implication of these God-given desires. When we live in such a way that desires to honor and please God in all that we do, fighting sin and suffering for His name’s sake, we can know that our desires are placed within us by God and should not cause us to do anything that would cause us to violate our integrity or to misplace our priorities.

Thus, we can go forth and know that whether the outcome of a decision turns out well or not, God is working our circumstances for our good and His glory–we only need to be faithful to act on those desires, because He placed them there for us.

Taking a step back, can we even say that the will of God, as revealed in the list of five items, is manifest in our own lives? I would ask these questions of myself:

  1. Am I saved?
  2. Am I filling my mind with Scripture?
  3. Am I actively fighting sin?
  4. Am I living lawfully?
  5. Am I suffering for professing Christ?

It is only when we glorify God in the specifics that He has prescribed in Scripture, can we then glorify Him in the desires that He gives us in our hearts.

Quick Reflections on Honduras Medical-Mission Trip

I recently returned from a medical-mission trip to Honduras, working with an organization called World Gospel Outreach (http://www.wgoreach.org/) and sponsored by New Life Community Church of San Jose, CA (http://www.newlifesj.org/).

While I’m still working on putting together a newsletter for family, friends, and supporters, I recently shared with them two of the biggest lessons that God taught me during my trip.

1) The medical services we offered pale in comparison to God’s great gospel. This was something that I definitely knew and had in mind coming into the trip, but wasn’t really solidified in my mind until after I had arrived in Honduras and began helping during the medical brigades. We were blessed with the opportunity to offer numerous services to those that had come to our brigade sites (medical, optical, and dental) but the things we could give them to heal them of their physical ailments would soon pass (medications would need to be refilled, glasses could easily be lost/misplaced, and pulled teeth are gone for the rest of their lives). It’s because we could only help the Hondurans with these temporary things that the gift of greater value, the gospel, shines forth from the perspective of eternity. By the end of the trip, 219 people professed new faith in the Lord and 117 others made recommitments to Christ!
 
2) Christ’s example of humility and service should spur me on to do the same. One verse I had to constantly remind myself of is Matt. 20:28: “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”. During the beginning of my trip, it was easy to be selfish even in my selflessness. Even when I was serving others, I wanted to do so in a way that was comfortable and easy for me, and it was easy to grumble and complain in my own heart and mind when I didn’t have it that way. By the middle of the week, the Lord had convicted me of my selfish heart of service and I hope that by the end of the week (and even back here in the States) the Holy Spirit will have grown me to be selfless in my service, giving and spending my all for the sake of those who have yet to know Christ.
 
As I get settled back into life in the States and prepare for upcoming exams as well as the new school year, I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to grow me not only in these two ways, but also in other ways that He has equipped me as a result of this trip.

“Grace” by Laura Story

After introducing my friend to Laura Story’s “Blessings” (which has also served me extremely well in the past!), she returned the favor a week later by sharing this song she discovered while browsing Laura Story’s other work. I wasn’t such a huge fan at first, but after listening to this song more and more, as well as reading over the lyrics, I’ve built such a strong and personal connection to this song in particular, because it illustrates my own testimony to God’s saving work in my life. Continue reading

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/technology/the-faithful-embrace-youversion-a-bible-app.html?_r=0

While I love the fact that LifeChurch.tv has made the Bible more accessible and put into more hands than ever before, statements like these make me sigh and wonder what kind of direction the Church today is going.

When Jen Sears, 37, a human resources manager in Oklahoma City, wants to pray these days, she leaves her Bible behind and grabs her phone instead.

“I have my print Bible sitting on my dresser at home, but it hasn’t moved” in the four years since she downloaded YouVersion, Mrs. Sears said.

I rejoice in the fact that the Word of God is made so widely available due to the benefits of modern technology, but when your phone is the first thing you reach for to do your devotions, it just doesn’t mean the same thing to the watching world that we slowly become more and more like.

And we know that…

… God causes  all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

– Rom. 8:28 (NASB95)

John Piper comments on Rom. 8:28, and refers to v. 35: “Tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and peril and sword all work together for the good of those who love God.” In the midst of trial and difficulty within our circumstances, however, remembering and meditating upon such a profound and comforting truth is sometimes the last thing we think about. It’s far more easy to fret, to worry, to allow our emotions to control us even when we know that God reigns sovereign over every detail of our lives, and working it to our good and His glory if we truly seek after Him and His will.

A few weeks ago, I struggled through a decision that would have massive implications on my time, my relationships with people I am close to, and my spiritual sanctification. Sound familiar? It’s not uncommon–many decisions in our lives involve risking the very things that we hold so close to us while our pilgrimage persists. Whether those decisions are in the realm of our career paths, role in ministry, relationships with the opposite gender… every day brings forth new opportunities to grow to trust Him and His sovereignty more and more. But when I pondered my own decision, and wavered and fluctuated in my indecisiveness, a leader and trusted friend in my life questioned, “How seriously do you take Rom. 8:28?”

Boom. Conviction.

Decision-making itself is a process for your sanctification. Provided that you are actively seeking after making a decision that would not compromise your personal holiness, ultimately there is no real wrong choice. What do I mean by that? Let me say it this way: if you make choice A, God will work it to your good and His glory. If you make choice B, God will work it to your good and His glory. If you make choice C, it’s the same deal. God will work all things to your good and His glory!

That’s not to say that we should not utilize logic and wisdom in our decision-making. What that does mean, however, is that we should not remain stagnant in our process, awaiting some kind of personal revelation from God or worrying whether or not we are making the right or the correct decision. If it’s not a choice between sin and holiness, good and better, pick anything! Be decisive and trust that God will bless it. And if it turns out well for you, praise God. And if it doesn’t, know this: that God is disciplining you and making you more like His very Son, that is, Christ Jesus your Lord. Whatever comes out of your decision is the best that God can offer you who are His own: you who were chosen to received His grace, ransomed from the pits of Hell, redeemed from the punishment of your sins, cleansed by the precious blood, adopted as His own children, and will one day be made perfect in His sight, complete and lacking in nothing (Jas. 1:4)

So let me ask you: How seriously do you take Rom. 8:28? Do you see pain in the midst of difficulty as discipline for your eternal reward? Do you see blessing in your life as praise to the Giver of life and all that is in it? Do you align yourself with the will of God, and trust in His plan and place faith in His promises, knowing that He is faithful (Heb. 10:23)?

And in light of what you know to be true, go forth and be confident. Make that career choice. Apply for that internship. Ask that girl out. Take that ministry position. Make yourself vulnerable and take the leap of faith. And be rested and assured that through blessing and bliss, suffering and sorrow, goodness and grace, tribulation and trouble, God is working it all for your good and His glory.