but to simply wait


I’m sure you’ve heard that God doesn’t work by our time schedule, but by His.  We’ve been told this for years, ever since we can remember by parents, leaders, pastors, friends.  It’s true.  God works by His perfect, infallible timing.  He knows better than we do and He comes through every time.  There are countless testimonies and Bible verses affirming this.

But what about when you’re waiting?  Not when you’re panicking about if something will happen in time, but when God seems to be on hold; when it seems like He’s taking a break.  When the God-to-you line appears disconnected no matter how much praying you do.  What then?  You were so certain you’d see good results, but you don’t.  Actually, any results would be good, but there simply aren’t any.

It’s during these seasons of waiting that God teaches us.  God teaches us and strengthens our faith through trials, yes, but also through those times when nothing seems to be happening.  Will I still put my trust in Him when He seems to be gone?

When we get impatient waiting for God to act, it’s a good reminder to “be still and know that [he is] God.”  Too often we try to fix things ourselves or get impatient and try to speed up the results.  But everything will work perfectly in His timing for our betterment—even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

(Psalm 27:14)

In those times of waiting, we are commanded to simply wait for God.  Our job is to trust Him and He will be faithful.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?  Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:27 – 31)

God is there, whether we can see Him or not.  He will never leave us or forget about us.  If we trust Him, He will always be with us and will work all things together for us because we love Him.

Will you trust Him now, even as you’re waiting?

because you are young [faith]


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

How can we live a life of faith to be an example to other believers?

– what is faith?

– why do we need faith?

 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 5:1)

 

 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

(1 Corinthians 2:4 – 5)

 

We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

(Galatians 2:15 – 16)

 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

(Hebrews 11:6)

There are tons of miracles where Jesus said that their faith had healed them—not their good works or church attendance, but faith.

Faith: “unquestioning belief . . . complete trust or confidence . . . loyalty, sincerity, honesty.” – dictionary

What is faith?

Faith is being sure of God’s presence at all times, and the unquestioning belief in God. It’s complete trust or confidence in God, believing and knowing in our hearts that His will is ultimately good and is best for us. And, as the Bible states, faith is being “certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) In this case, I think the “unseen” part is God and God working in our lives.

Why do we need faith?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

(Hebrews 11:6)

 

We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

(Galatians 2:15 – 16)

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

(Romans 5:1)

Faith is ultimately trusting God with every situation, no matter the circumstances or the outcome. Faith isn’t something that is acquired suddenly. It takes time to build up faith, similar to how one builds up trust in a friend over time. But something I realized when I was going through a rough time was that if I didn’t trust God and let go of my desire to control the situation and instead let Him work everything out, I would never grow in my faith. Sometimes, I’ve asked God to send me a “big trial” to give me a chance to grow my faith. But he will first give small trials, and looking back, I didn’t even recognize it when He gave me a big trial. I just saw it as things that got thrown at me. Trust God always, and your faith will grow in Him.

a glorious surrender


You know how close others seem to be to God? Well that’s what I want. I became a Christian when I was younger but was never really “close” to God…at least, I didn’t feel like it. So I tried doing more devotions, different ways of devotions, tried to change my attitude toward others, etc. But it never helped. I think it’s because I never experienced a change of heart and I never surrendered completely to God — not just my life or future plans, but my heart as well. At Acquire the Fire, they spoke of how people say “the prayer” and ask Jesus to come into their lives, and they go to church, etc. but still have not experienced glorious surrender to God. And that was me. Although I had physically done everything I needed to, I hadn’t done everything I needed to spiritually and emotionally. Something had been missing, and that was a change of heart. I never asked Jesus to give me the heart of a follower of Him. Another speaker at Acquire the Fire spoke about how when he became a Christian, he went into his room and destroyed everything that was not God-honoring. He spoke about how we cannot compromise our faith in any way for being normal, accepted. After all, how can we stand out if we’re listening to the same music as everyone else, and acting the same as everyone else, and speaking the same as everyone else?

 

it’s who I am


In the Christian environment that many of us experience, whether that is church, school, or work, we are encouraged to be imitators of Christ. On the other hand, the world tends to tell us two things: be perfect (fashion, etc.) and, more recently, to just “be yourself!” The world’s sense of being yourself and “standing out” include standing up for what’s right (which is great), not caring what about what anyone says about you (ignoring gossip mills — again, great), and wearing what fits your style, not anyone else’s (again…great).

So often, though, the world tells us to be different in things that don’t really matter. Media tells us that voicing our own opinions matters, that wearing what we want matters, that just…being ourselves is what matters. At a glance, this seems harmless. And if all you’re doing is wearing what you want to wear, that’s pretty harmless; there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you observe more closely what the world seems to tell everyone, you’ll realize that the world is really telling you to live for you. Wear what you want, do what you want, be who you want.

Many Christians have chosen to combine Christianity (imitators of Christ) with the world’s message of you being you (different, unique, etc.) and it looks totally okay. After all, Jesus didn’t blend in; he stood out. Jesus didn’t go with the flow. In fact, he went against the current and broke down social barriers. Which is great! God doesn’t call us to be one with the world; he actually tells us to be in the world, not of it.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

2 Corinthians 10:3

Nothing I’ve said so far is really wrong. Wearing the clothes you choose to wear, etc. is okay! There’s nothing sinful about that.

What I’m talking about is more along the lines of “this is me, everyone needs to get used to it. If they don’t like who I am, that’s their problem.”

This is not a Christian attitude. I’m talking about Christians who are rather opinionated and don’t mind letting others know. I have heard some say that it’s “just who I am.”

I know that we need to accept people for who they are, and I’m not saying that we should judge other people.

What I am saying is that being harsh in the name of Christ isn’t okay.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Titus 3:1 – 2

It’s one thing to stand up for what’s right, but it’s quite another to be inconsiderate of other’s feelings and be harsh with them. Let’s face it — no one is perfect, or ever will be. But we as Christians should strive to demonstrate the same loving-kindness that Jesus did in his ministry. Jesus never ran after the Pharisees yelling, “You bunch of sinners! Follow me or you’ll go to hell!” No. He instead showed the love of God to them (although he did sometimes use harsh words with them out of righteous anger at their pride, but again — he never cut them down as people but rather showed them where they were wrong kindly, in the hopes of gaining their repentance). Similarly with other people, he never sat there telling them what was wrong with them, or was inconsiderate of their feelings. He did quite the opposite, actually. He talked with people, got to know them. Showed them love.

God calls us to be loving:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

2 Peter 1:5 – 7

(Check out 1 Corinthians 13 to see what love is: patient, kind, etc.)

God calls us to be different for him; we need to be different with the intent of bringing glory to his Name. Being opinionated and harsh with others will not bring glory to him. If we truly desire to please him, we will allow the meek loving-kindness of God to shine through us, pointing to his presence in our lives. Ask God to use you and help you practice meekness and love in everything you do. He will!

happiness or joy?


Most of us would agree with this. Choose happiness. well, yeah. happiness is bien. God wants us to be happy, obviously. umm…maybe not.

My pastor raised an interesting point: what if God doesn’t want us to be happy…but joyful?

Happiness is external; joy is internal.

Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on choice.

Happiness is based on circumstance; joy is based on Christ.

– Pastor Gord (:

God doesn’t desire happiness for us because happiness is simply an emotion. It does not last, it can be stolen by the smallest things, and can quickly turn to sadness. Then you’re happy again…sad…then happy…you get the idea. If the Christian life was about being happy, many Christians would live unsatisfied lives. Imagine you were being persecuted harshly by the government, and a fellow Christian walked up to you, offered a big smile and said, “Be happy!!”, chances are you’d feel like punching them.

But if you are a Christian and are joyful, there is so much more! Joy overcomes the constant up-and-down of happy, sad, happy, sad emotions.

But joy alone is about as useful as happiness. Your joy needs to come from the Lord; otherwise it is of no worth.

Having the joy of the Lord is what separates us from the false joy of idols of other religions. From the temporary pleasure of watching Hollywood movies, Saturday night talk-shows. From music, sports…pretty much anything in this world (including shopping).

Bottom line: nothing and no one can give us joy except for the Father.

God’s joy will always bring you happiness, but happiness will not always bring joy — in fact, it very rarely will.

So what exactly is joy? Joy is a perspective that comes from knowing God is in control, no matter what.

I love 1 Peter 1:8 – 9:

…you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In Philippians 1:9 – 11, Paul writes,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.

Paul didn’t pray that they would be happy, he prayed that they would love each other more and more so that they might serve God better — which comes with joy.

Joy is not a quick-and-easy emotion like happiness. It takes time to cultivate a true joy in God, and there’s no way we can do it on our own. We need to recognize that God is joyful. If God is truly in us, we will allow His joy to shine through us for the world to see. Releasing your problems to the Lord takes the worry and negativity out of our lives and allows us to experience His joy more completely. Who can be joyful when a cloud is hanging over their head all the time? Most importantly, though: remain close to Jesus. Getting to know God will deepen your relationship with Him and help you learn more about Him. Ask Him to use you to shine His joy to everyone.

Joy is the evidence of God in your life.

years to treasure


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about teenagers. I go to school and see so many teens wasting their time, it seems, heartbroken over a lost “love,” coming up with ways to get back at those who hurt them, trying to keep up their marks and all the while working to afford post-secondary education…and their iphones.

I look around, and I don’t see teens going that deep; focusing on what really matters. Girls are too obsessed trying to get guys’ attention but be secure in who they are, while guys are too obsessed with x-box. COD. Halo. Whatever.

It’s sad, really.

Have you ever thought what it’ll feel like to be thirty years old and look back on your teen years and go, “Wow. I did nothing…I wish I had done so much more while I had the chance. Before life got really crazy. Before I had 50 million responsibilities”? Not many people have. I’m not saying you should take a step back and know you’ll live to regret your life; I’m saying that you should use these years to your advantage.

I often say to my mom, “Teenage years are often harder than a lot of adults think.” What I mean is this: sure, the problems of the average youth may seem trivial to adults since they’ve already gone through them and faced bigger things, but it’s when you’re trying to get into college/university, trying to decide what to do with your life, getting your first part-time job, getting your driver’s license, and all the while juggling sports and social life…it’s a time full of firsts. And probably one of the biggest periods of “firsts” in your life.

This stage of your life will make you what you are as an adult. It’s when you shape and mold your character. It’s when you choose your friends. When you seriously begin to follow God with an adult-like faith (no longer a child-like faith).

I see the teen years as a prime time to serve God in big ways. God sets before us tons of opportunities to give glory to Him. Often, though we don’t recognize them. We sit back and go to youth, church, maybe join a small-group Bible study. But when it comes down to practical things, we don’t do much.

Although the teen years are busy, they are critical for serving God. They are the years which make you into the adult you will one day be. It’s so important to spend these years closely following God. Reading the Bible, becoming involved in youth activities at church, and focusing on God instead of the latest celebrity magazines are all ways to deepen your relationship with Him.

Ask God to use you to do big things for Him. He may not give you much at first, but as you honor Him with little things, He will give you bigger and bigger things for you to do for Him.

But above all, everything (everything) must be for His glory. Never for your own glory. Don’t go on a missions trip so others will see what a good Christian you are, etc. Ask yourself: if I was the only person on this earth and God was in heaven, and no one else saw me do this but God and I, would I still want to do it? This is a good way to check if you’re doing things for His glory or your own.

These years are the time in your life when you’ll have the most time and maybe the most money to do things like go on a missions trip. Don’t waste it on things that won’t matter in two years. Instead, invest your time and energy into things that will last you an eternity. Things you can stand in front of God for one day and say, “I took this time on earth You gave me and used it for Your glory, not my ‘down time.’ ”

Glorify Him always, and He will bless you and keep you and you will be rewarded.

double agents: the secret life of a Christian


More and more I’ve noticed how Christians act. One thing that has struck me is how Christians often live double lives.

What I mean by this is how Christians often tend to act one way at church at act another way at work or school.

When I became a Christian (when I was little!) I basically became a Christian because I wanted to go to Heaven, and I knew I had to accept Jesus into my heart in order to do so. I accepted Jesus into my heart twice (I didn’t think I was serious the first time). I struggled with doing devotions on a regular basis because I didn’t want to do them.

Despite my salvation in Jesus, I didn’t become a Christian until this year.

“Hold on. If you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart and made Him your Savior, you’re a Christian. So why weren’t you a Christian until several years after you asked Him into your heart?!”

When I became a Christian, I understood God’s end of it. I’m a sinner, so I can never go to Heaven ’cause it’s perfect and so is God. God sent His Son Jesus to Earth to die for us (John 3:16!) so that we can go to Heaven with Him when we die. In return we need to try to do what is right all the time and we learn what’s right through the Bible. When I became a Christian, I did it because it was the right thing to do. Still, I somehow never felt like a true Christian. I always knew something was missing.

But I now realize that being a Christian is so much more! It means literally giving your whole life to God. I have to not just be a good person, but I have to dedicate my whole life to God. And that goes beyond going to church and singing during worship, taking sermon notes and being involved in all the church functions.

That means getting rid of anything in my life that doesn’t give glory to God.

This means a serious self-check. All aspects of your life — music, friends, books, magazines, clothes, activities — need to be checked for Christ-compatibility. If it isn’t for God, weed it out.

I’m not saying that God is completely opposed to every secular piece of music out there. But I think that as Christians, we too often try to get by rather than to be unwilling to compromise. Our idea of doing what’s right it toeing the line instead of fleeing.

Romans 12:9 says,

Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.

*Note: anything that isn’t FOR God is AGAINST God; thus anything that isn’t completely for Him is evil because God is good.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.

That’s pretty much everything in your life.

Being a Christian isn’t just something you do on Sunday mornings with just your soul. It’s something that shows in every area of your life. Like an elder at my church said, “It’s easy for me to be a Christian on Sunday, in the presence of other believers; but what about the other six days of the week in the workplace or school?

One person’s testimony goes like this:

I was trying to get this kid [who wasn’t a Christian] on my basketball team to come out to church with me one Sunday morning or youth. He never wanted to go, but I kept bugging him. Finally he said to me, “Why would I want to come to church or youth? What’s so special about them? You’re no different than I am; if they’re so good, how come you’re the same as me?” This really hit home for me because I realized that even though I claimed to be a Christian and salt and light, I was really no different in my actions than anyone else at school.

If we are called to be salt and light but act the same as other non-Christians, how will they ever see the Light?

Jesus literally wants us to be different from others. At school, I don’t do anything that other kids do that goes against my faith in Jesus. My friends notice this. I’ve been called “innocent” and “perfect.” I know I’m the farthest from those but I’m happy that my friends notice a difference. I’ve chosen to take their observations as a compliment, because it shows I’m succeeding in being set apart for Christ.

If we can’t follow Jesus with everything in us, we will never be a true Christian. I had to realize this before I felt like a real Christian.

God doesn’t require just your soul, or just your heart, or just your mind, or just your Sundays, or just your Bible reading.

He requires all of you.