2017 going on 2018

The Winter Training (Crystallization Study of Leviticus, Part 1) finished on the 30th this year, and I’m home just in time to usher in the new year. Lots of learning and lots to come.

Highlights from 2017:

  • “Are you ok to stop, to take no step at all?” – Jesus, Y1T2
  • “We hate to be busy and fruitless. Give us effective prayers.” – J. Brooks, Düsseldorf
  • “Thou art enough however long the day; Thou art enough however long the night.” – Hymn 671
  • His grace is sufficient… for what? His grace is sufficient for me to die — to my sense of justice, of self-right. – cf. Seer of the Divine Revelation, ch3
  • “For it was fitting for Him… in leading many sons into glory…” – Heb. 2:9, Plovdiv
  • “Hand over, hand over, hand over.” – M. Stewart, Poland
  • “If therefore the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8:36
  • “The church is Christ. Eventually, your saying ‘I’m sorry’ is Christ, and your saying ‘I forgive you’ is Christ. ‘For to me, to live is Christ’ (Phil. 1:21).” – T. Dvorak, Richmond

Aspirations for 2018:

  • “Dying to live” – W. Lee; “I die daily” – 1 Cor. 15:31
  • “We all have to discover what Christ’s life is capable of doing in us.” – T. Goetz, Poland
  • “experience Christ in His experiences” – WT Msg2; “My death is painful; His death is sweet.”
  • “Live Thyself, Lord Jesus, through me…” – Hymn 403, WT Msg3
  • “Lord, may You as the sin offering nullify, undo, everything the enemy has ever done in me.” – WT Msg7
  • “Jesus Christ… openly portrayed crucified” – Gal. 3:1, WT Msg9
  • “learn the secret… practice speaking with the Lord constantly; then spontaneously, you will live Christ.” – WT Msg10
  • “Lord, bring me to the point where I’m at peace with everyone and everything.” – WT Msg11
  • “Our week is for the Table.” – WT Msg12; “Father, let it be now in Your recovery.” – cf. John 4:24
Advertisements

Undergrad in review

This morning, I wrote my last final exam for my degree. I’m not quite sure what to feel…

Relief? I suppose. After spending the last 2 weeks at the library, 14 hours a day. After 4 years of trying to do well.

Accomplishment? Somewhat. I’ve learned a lot academically. (Whether I’ve retained that learning is a different story). But somehow it’s not the same feeling of accomplishment as when I got my IB diploma after high school. That was a landmark, whereas this — I’ve always seen as just a stepping stone.

Regret? A bit, I have to admit. Of course there’s nothing I can change now, but there’s that course in first year that I shouldn’t have given up on; that o-chem requirement that I should have taken during the summer; that 1 extra credit that should have gotten me into the specialization I wanted, which would have allowed me to do co-op, which would have gotten me some useful experience,…… etc. etc.

Fear? Trepidation? Anxiety? Made that much worse by all the “What are you going to do now?” that I’m getting? There’s just so much uncertainty. I knew it would be this way before getting to this point, but all the mental preparation is to no avail.

Bewilderment?

I think that’s it. Not knowing what to do after 16 years of going through the education pipeline. Deprived of routine and the ease that comes with it.

In moments like these… I just have to turn and call.

In moments like these,
I call on the Lord,
I call, “Oh Lord Jesus”,
He saves me.
In moments like these,
I call on the Lord,
I call, “Oh Lord Jesus”,
He saves.

Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Jesus is Lord.

Just that little change in circumstance — from being in school this morning to being done school this afternoon — has turned my world upside down. That’s how easily tossed about we human beings are. But what really has changed? In the spiritual realm, in the realm of things eternal, nothing has changed.

Has the throne of God been shaken?

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…” (Hebrews 1:8, Psalm 45:6)

Has the promise of God become less trustworthy than before?

“Therefore God, intending to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel, interposed with an oath” (6:17)

Has the status of Christ undergone modification?

“You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (5:6, 7:17, 7:21, Psalm 110:4)

Has his qualification for ministering life to man been altered?

“But He, because He abides forever, has His priesthood unalterable.” (Hebrews 7:24)

Has His ability to save been diminished?

“Hence also He is able to save to the uttermost those who come forward to God through Him, since He lives always to intercede for them.” (7:25)

What then? Are my feelings real, or are God’s words?

“In order that by two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul…” (6:18-19a)

Should I not be encouraged? All I have to do is flee into the safe haven of my spirit. Why should I shipwreck on a stormy sea? I have an anchor of eternal hope.

2015

新的一年。似乎昨天才写14年的开头篇…这一年就过去了。

新的一年。新手表、新手机、新工作…更是新挑战、新机会、新盼望。从很多方面来说,这是一个很关键的新开始。一些该结束的终于结束了。一些期盼许久的即将发生。一些多年前的祷告、奉献似乎就要得着回应、成全。

刚从冬季训练回来。这次的经历乃是主增加祂的要求。曾经想都没想过的、到周三我还说不可能的,周四晨兴时还是不得不说阿门。谁知道当年初中的我作的奉献,后来大一公开确认,如今会向我出如此的高价。此刻的我还不甘愿,可是我想祂终会得到祂所要求的。因为,就如服侍姊妹说的,祂在这个时代的紧急需要使祂不得不把握住何一个交出自己的青年人。

主啊,我的得救并不精彩,甚至我都记不得,可但愿在逃脱世界捆绑这方面能有一个卓越的见证。愿我在4多年前挑选的诗歌成为我实际的经历:

My choice is made forevermore,
I want no other Savior;
I ask no purer happiness
Than His sweet love and favor;
My heart is fixed on Jesus Christ,
No more the world shall blind me;
I’ve crossed the Red Sea of His death,
And left the world behind me.

全词

主啊,谢谢你,我用不着害怕未来只充满难过:

Why do you fear the future
Will only be filled with pain?
You’re in His hands,
Trust in His plans;
He will take care of you.

(CD)

主啊,我爱你。今天比昨天、今年比去年爱你多得多。

Turning my eyes upon Jesus

An experience today put me into a state best described by these lines from a hymn:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?

When I find myself in this kind of a state, I must turn. Or the brooding disappointment will become embitterment and, even worse, disillusionment. So I don’t even give myself time to think — I just call “O…Lord Jesus”. And when calling isn’t enough, I sing. The rest of the stanza with chorus:

There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

(listen here)

Just look at Him! See Him only! Everything and everyone else will disappoint. Another 2 lines from stanza 3:

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.

What He says in His Word, He will do and must do. In one place, His Word says

…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18b)

So I just believe. I don’t believe in what I see or feel; I say amen to His word and believe that He will build His church. Hallelujah!

“What then will there be for us?”

Many have already blogged about this (a God-man in Christ, among others), but I can’t help but share it once more!

Many Christians know Matthew 19:26:

…Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

But probably fewer know the context of the verse: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (v. 24). The rich man “went away sorrowing” because he could not leave his “many possessions” (v. 22). I always saw this as a comparatively straightforward lesson on not loving mammon. What I never paid attention to before was what followed:

Then Peter answered and said to Him, Behold, we have left all and followed You. What then will there be for us?

Peter was perhaps feeling somewhat superior: I can do what he can’t. But he mostly wanted to take the opportunity to make sure that he was going to get what he paid for: So, Lord, what’s my reward for leaving my career in fishing to follow You? Is there an extra little something for leaving my wife? Oh, don’t forget, I’m not exactly living an easy life here. …

Isn’t this just who we are? I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced at first. I thought I knew the worth of following the Lord better than Peter did. Until I read Matthew 20 in new light.

One denarius. That’s your wage — whether you worked all day long starting 9 am or you worked 1 hour starting 5 pm. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get over how unfair this was to the early starters. But was the householder unrighteous? Did each worker not agree with him for one denarius? And is it not lawful for him to do what he wants with what’s his?

It’s only too “natural” that we should have the “No fair!” reaction. It’s wired in us: live in a commercial world, think with a commercial mind. Satan, the ruler of this world, is the top merchant, and he has only one system of value: you get what you pay for.

But with what do you pay for something that has no price? The kingdom — the coming age of restoration — is priceless! Do we think we can buy our way in? Do we think paying a little price, leaving a little behind, doing a little good work, is getting us a ticket into God’s eternal kingdom? What an absurd thought! The kingdom is a reward! The Lord gives it to whomever He desires and wills.

How do we get this reward? Not by paying a price — at least not by it alone — but by enjoying grace (see this post). If the rich young man had been able to give up his possessions, it wouldn’t have guaranteed him a spot in the kingdom; it would have freed him from the preoccupation that kept him from enjoying the God with whom all things are possible as grace. If we do pay a price, it’s rightly done — we need to freed from the entanglements and distractions that keep us from enjoying grace!

Think you’ve given up a lot to be a Christian? Here’s a song for you:

When such as we the King can choose,
To share with Him His throne,
‘Tis passing strange that we refuse
To be our Lord’s alone.
O never speak of sacrifice!
A privilege untold
Is to be His at any price,
In Calv’ry’s hosts enrolled.

(Full lyrics & melody here)

The next stanza urges us to “Arise! the holy bargain strike”. There’s a fitting use of commercial jargon! Here’s what then there will be for us:

And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the restoration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones… (Matthew 19:28)

Now has come…

Revelation 12:10 says

And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.

This “now” comes when the woman travailing in birth (v.2) brings forth a son, a man-child (v.5). This “now” comes when the stronger part of God’s people, consisting of the overcomers, is brought forth from the church. This “now” comes when the “great dragon [has been] cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole inhabited earth” (v.9). Hallelujah! What a “now” to look forward to!

The obvious question: how do we get from the present time to this “now”?

It appears that warfare is involved. The woman aforementioned was not peacefully travailing in birth, you see. Verse 4 tells us that “the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, so that when she brings forth he might devour her child.” There’s a serpent-become-dragon seen from Genesis to Revelation who will do everything he can to delay the “now” — to delay the execution of the death sentence that Jesus Christ gave him on the cross (Hebrews 2:14). Hence the necessity and even inevitability of spiritual warfare.

We might know about swords, canons, A-bombs, bioterrorism (yes, I’m in microbiology), etc., but it takes a whole different set of weaponry and skill to fight when

our wrestling is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 6:12)

  1. Be in full obedience to God under His ruling. Satan is the source of rebellion, so whether we end up in his camp or in God’s camp depends on whether we obey.
  2. Believe in the facts revealed in the Word of God. Isaiah 25:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54, for instance, tell us that death has been swallowed up unto victory. Hallelujah! We must believe this, and we must declare this!
  3. Be properly positioned in the heavenlies with the ascended Christ (Ephesians 2:6). We fight from above! We’re positioned to tread on the principalities!
  4. Refuse to fight an individual battle. We need to refuse because Satan will tempt us to engage in battle alone. He knows that the moment we do is the moment we’re defeated. We stand no chance alone. That’s why the Lord placed us in His Body! Our fight is a corporate fight — “because we are members of His Body” (Ephesians 5:30).
  5. Be empowered in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength”. Colossians 1:11 tells us to be “empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory”. 2 Timothy 2:1 tells us to “be empowered in the grace which is in Christ Jesus”. I’m always telling the Lord that I’m weak, weak, weak. But the Lord is telling me, “Be strong, don’t be weak! These are not times to be weak!” Well, my flesh is still weak. But there’s power in Jesus who is in my spirit!
  6. Put on the whole armor of God and leave no part unguarded. The warrior in Ephesians 6 is so well equipped. (That’s the corporate warrior, by the way.) Equipped with what? With all the aspects of the all-inclusive Christ!
  7. Fight by standing. The aforesaid warrior takes up the whole armor of God to “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v.13). We must keep standing. Unmovable.
  8. Receive the sword of the Spirit. That warrior has one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God (v.17). The Lord Jesus withstood the tempter by the word of God (Matthew 4:6,7,10). This is what Satan’s afraid of.
  9. Pray in spirit. The warrior receives the helmet and the sword “by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit” (v.18). To pray in spirit is to really pray in the name of Jesus (as opposed to just adding “In Your name we pray” as a kind of P.S. to our prayers).
  10. Claim the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:11 tells us that “they overcame him (the accuser in v.10) because of the blood of the Lamb”. The blood answers before God all the accusations of the devil against us, therefore the blood should be answer to Satan.
  11. Declare the word of our testimony. The same v.11 tells us that “they overcame him…because of the word of their testimony”. What is our testimony? It is the fact that the devil has been judged by the Lord!
  12. Fight without caring for our soul-life. Revelation 12:11 continues: “they loved not their soul-life even unto death”. The scariest soldier is one who fights with no expectation of coming out alive. No wife and kids to return to, no fortune to make, no future bright to live out. No reservation. No backward glances. Daniel was such: he prayed with the full knowledge that he would be thrown into the lion’s den for it (Daniel 6).

Lord, teach us to cooperate with You in Your warfare. Grant us faith to stand upon Your victory. Gain Your mighty warrior for the bringing forth of the man-child. Father, Your name be sanctified; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. We look forward to the triumphant shout of “Now has come”.

The God who IS

Then Moses said to God, If I come to the children of Israel and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is His name? what shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.

-Exodus 3:13-14

In this universe, only God is self-existing and ever-existing. Only His existence depends on nothing apart from Himself. His very name, Jehovah, means “to be”. He was, He is, He will be.

This is the God who called Moses out of the midst of the thornbush (Exodus 3:4). This is the God who called me — 8 years ago out of my post-immigration solitude, a year later out of my aimless daily routine, sometime soon after out of my worshiping of idols to be captivated by His beauty , in ’07 out of my slavery in Egypt to vow the Nazarite vow, in ’10 out of middle ground to finally cross the Red Sea of His death, in ’11 out of my individuality to live the practical Body life, earlier this year out of the shame of terrible failure to know Him as the God of resurrection.

And He’s still calling today. Calling me out of pride and self-confidence into the I AM. I always thought I could do anything if I tried. Now I can say nothing except “I can’t.” I used to believe in my competence, rely on my knowledge and skills, trust my intellect. Now, after this last round of midterms, my realization is “I have nothing, am nothing.” Or, more accurately, I am not. I simply am not. But there is One who is. Jesus — Jehovah — IS! I’ve never appreciated this One quite in this way before. Yes, He is light in darkness, He is comfort in pain, He is strength in weakness,…He is all and in all! But sometimes…He just is. And at times like these, that almost means more than all the possible subject complements and adjectives we can attribute to Him. Hallelujah, I am not, but He is! My failure and defeat are not; He is! The valley of the shadow of death is not; He is! The usurper and accuser is not; Jesus Christ is! Before Abraham came into being, He is! (John 8:58).

Do we know who it is that calls us? Paul says we not only need to pursue Him, but we also need to pursue knowing Him (Philippines 3:8,10). Not to know about Him in an objective way, but to know Him in experience. Lord, grant us to know You — by name.