Having been a follower of Christ for so long, I still wonder why God doesn’t do more miracles in answering our good and reasonable prayers. I know the answers intellectually, but on an emotional level, I have to keep asking God to remind me that though he slay me, still I will follow.

Here are a few reflections today when God does not answer my prayers:

He wants me to love the Giver more than the gift.

He wants to remind me in my suffering of His ultimate suffering on the Cross and his love for me.

He wants me to experience that His grace is sufficient.

He wants me to experience Him as the Good Shepherd who is walking with me in the valley of the shadow of death.

He wants me to grow deeper in seeking Him, not just seek a quick answer to a problem.

He wants me to experience suffering so I have compassion for those who suffer, thus know more of the compassion heart of God.

He wants me to not get too comfortable in this world.

He wants me to not put my hope in this world.

He wants me to know that the greatest treasure is not what this world has to offer but that I already have the greatest treasure in Him.

Unanswered prayer doesn’t matter that much.

“Why is it important that Jesus rose from the dead?” A fourth grader asked.

I’m working on explaining that in 13 minutes or less for the Easter sermon in a way that a 4th grader can understand and will change his life.

How has the resurrection changed my life? Does it change my life on a day to day?

Yes! It changed the trajectory of my life that Jesus is God! It gives me hope for the life to come as I am in the last quarter of my life! It gives me peace for this world that God has the ultimate power! I would make different choices if the resurrection didn’t happen. That’s what Paul says.

For a 4th grader, none of this matters. He just wants to play…

And that’s why it’s hard to prepare a children’s sermon.

To be honest, even for me, I have to remind myself the significance of the resurrection. My natural inclination these days is to be fearful of the future. I’m fearful of getting old, of dying, of bad news, of the world that my kids and grandkids will grow up in, of threatened physical safety, of the unknown.

I am glad we have Easter to remind me of the resurrection.

 

08
Mar

I decided this morning that I would be optimistic. I would be happy.

I have to remind myself of this often throughout the day. Otherwise my mind drift off to thinking about the weakness of my body. I am learning to be content with my body.

I visited a friend today – outside her house. I told her I’ve been feeling tired and can’t sleep too well. She said I looked like I have energy and my color looked good. That made me happy.

The most encouraging part was she told me how much she is enjoying my children’s sermons. She listens to it with her son and they talk about it afterward. That makes my work all worthwhile! Although it’s still worthwhile even if no one gave me feedback. I trust God to use it. But it’s nice to hear it.

I don’t know what gave me the courage. I don’t know why I said yes to an acupuncture treatment.

Maybe I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Maybe I was hoping it’d be the silver bullet I’ve been looking for to clean up my health.

Well, it was not the silver bullet…but at least it didn’t hurt.

He’s a Korean licensed acupuncturist referred by a friend. My friend said Korean acupuncturist use smaller needles than the Chinese acupuncturist. Maybe that’s why I did it!

He put a few on my feet and legs a few on my the back of my hand and lower arm, and one on my stomach (for my digestion).

I did not feel any difference that night nor the next day.

I’m going to try another acupuncturist with personal testimony of a friend who experienced healing from this one.  She seems to have similar symptoms as me. I asked her if it hurt. “Well…don’t think about that. Think about the results you’ll get.”  Not too reassuring. I have an appointment in 2 days. I told myself I won’t chicken out.

 

 

20
Feb

I’ve lost motivation to do crafts. I would rather read, walk, talk to people.

Making things that do not have purpose seem to be…purposeless, a waste of time.

Unless I can see some eternal value with what I make, I don’t want to spend the time.

Even with cooking, I just cook really simple. I don’t want to make anything with too many steps, like a lasagne.  I’ve lost the joy of eating because of my digestion problems.

I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, old age, lack of energy, depression, or a bit of all of those.

Maybe I’m feeling this way today because I’m alone at home. And I’m not having any fun. But I noticed I’ve been thinking this way for a while. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say they need a vacation. I’ve never thought I need a vacation. Getting ready for a vacation is stressful. I suppose everyone needs a change of environment once in a while.

 

Everyone highly recommended this book. It took me a while to read it. It’s not the kind of book you read to get through it for the information. It’s more of a devotional book to dwell on and grow it in your heart.

I was not too impressed with the first couple of chapters, but it started to grow on me.

Dwelling on the heart of Christ is definitely something I have not done. It was very encouraging and I want to read it again, a chapter a week or something like that.

01
Jan
stored in: 2020, 2021

Every year, I say I want to blog more to keep track of my life. But as with every typical new year resolution, I fail after the first few months.

Now it’s another year!

I didn’t even keep track of books I read towards the end of 2020.

Here are the last 2 books I read last year: Highly recommend both

Resilient – Child Discipleship and the Fearless Future of the Church by Valerie Bell

Building Bridges – Biblical Counseling Activities for Children and Teens by Julie Lowe

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.

I’ve been reading various books but didn’t finish one to post till now.

I found this book very insightful and inspiring, highly recommend this old treasure. I love the style of writing of old books.

Books I started and did not finish:

Growing Together by Melissa Kruger

I heard someone talk about this book as a good book for mentoring women. It’s very basic, not all that insightful. I read half of it, but decided I don’t need to waste time with the rest of it. If I want to use it for mentoring, I will read it with my mentee, which is primarily the purpose of this book. There are discussion questions after each chapter. The chapters are a good springboard for discussion, but I wouldn’t rely on it totally because it’s too basic.

The Spiritually Vibrant Home by Don Everts

Someone left this book in my box at church. I read the first chapter and would like to read it. But it’s not engaging enough to be a priority.

Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser

This is a self reflection type of book. A speaker I was listening to said he reads the last chapter every year as he gets older to give him perspective on aging. I need a perspective of aging so I bought the book.

The premise is that when we are young, we aim to give our lives away in doing things for others. When we are old we can no longer do things for others. We should aim to give our death away. That is to die well, continuing in good character and faith.

I would like to read this book, and I will try to read that last chapter every year. However, I don’t want to be reminded that I will die! The reality is, everyone is closer to dying as each day passes. When you’re old, you feel it more. I am feeling it.

I bought this book, by Voddie Baucham Jr. after hearing about it on a podcast, when my older daughter was starting to date. I skimmed it and didn’t think much of it. My daughter has been married for 3 years with a one-year old baby now, and I just read the book thoroughly.

I should’ve read it thoroughly when I first bought it.

Don’t let the title fool you. It’s not only for parents with a daughter. I highly recommend this to everyone – singles, married, at all stages of life.

The book is relevant to show us biblical thinking about the family, about raising children, about launching children, and of course, about dating. It’s important for singles to read this to prepare themselves for dating and marriage. And it’s relevant for both men and women.

After reading the book, I wish I had done more to prepare our son to be a man. By God’s grace, he turned out well. But we could’ve guided him better.

Hence, parents of young children should read this so they can start early to raise their children towards being a godly man/woman with the right view of manhood/womanhood, and potentially as a husband/wife, father/mother.

Also by God’s grace, my older daughter had a biblical view of dating and marriage, and married a godly man. Again, we could’ve done more to guide her and him.

I have one more chance with my younger daughter. She’s not married yet. Again, by God’s grace, she’s a godly woman who has a biblical view of dating and marriage. I trust her, as I trusted my older daughter, to make a good choice of a godly husband.

It’s never too late though. We as parents of adult children still has influence on them. I have opportunities today to impact them in having a biblical view of marriage and parenthood. I’m going to buy them this book!

It’s an easy read, it reads like I’m listening to Voddie talk.

I’ve always been a Voddie Baucham fan. I learned a lot about family and family ministry from him.

It took me a long time to read this book, not because it’s not interesting. I was just caught up in reading a lot of blog posts about church things. It seemed more urgent to learn about how to run a church than to learn about the holiness of God…which of course is a case of wrong thinking.

I will have to read this book again. At the end of each chapter there are reflection questions. I thought about them quickly but not really seriously. If I read the book again, I’m sure I’d get more out of it. It’s a good book.

There were parts I didn’t like. There was a big section on Of Mice and Men that I thought was unnecessary. It wasn’t that great of an illustration of the point on how the world cannot tolerate Jesus.

I also thought there was too much information on Martin Luther’s mental illness.

The book did help me appreciate the holiness and transcendence of God. We tend to make everything casual nowadays. We don’t dress up for church, we hardly dress up for weddings; we do still dress up for funerals. The idea of sacredness is hardly practiced with anything. I do miss that. I miss being in a church that is esthetically beautiful…I don’t miss dressing up for church though. I am a casual person.

I’m behind in reading a book a month. You would like with no where to go during this COVID pandemic I would have more time. But I don’t.

 

I bought this book a while back after listening to them on a podcast. The practical ways they helped couples work through ordinary struggles made a lot of sense. I finally got around to reading it.

I usually give a book to couples getting married. I am now going to give them this book.

While I read this book geared for engaged and newly married couples in order to give me insight to mentor young couples, I found that much of the advice still applies to me after 35 years of marriage. There are always areas to grow in.

The authors are husband and wife, Christian marriage counselors. This book is not expressly Christian, no Bible passages.  But the principles are definitely based on a Christian worldview.

The 2nd chapter on unspoken rules and unconscious roles is worth the price of the book.

This book was recommended by a missionary friend. She said I don’t have to read the chapters in order. Each chapter describes how God is moving among the Muslims in different regions of the world to bring them to Jesus.

I only read one chapter, not the whole book. So this does not count as my book for the month. But I am documenting the one chapter for my own reference.

I chose to read chapter 4 first: the Indo-Malaysia room.

Indonesia has the largest population of Muslim in the world. Is there any hope that they can be saved?

One of the greatest recurring motivations for Muslims coming to Christ is a rejection of the militant expression of Islam itself – Page 56

I learned a lot about the history of Indonesia, the occupation by the Dutch, the fight for freedom and power from political parties, and the massive bloodshed a such a small nation.

Malaysia remains the country where draconian restrictions continue to prevent Malays from turning from Islam to any other faith. Page 56

May God move with power to save more Muslims.

 

Elisabeth Elliot is one of my heroes.

I salvaged this book from the box of church library books. Never throw away an Elisabeth Elliot book, no matter how old the cover looks! Turns out my daughter purchased a new copy! Sigh…

There was so much in this book to think about as I read it.

“Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” is the mindset of the modern mind. To be a disciple of Christ is to discipline ourselves to do what Christ tells us to do.

“The most overwhelming losses of my life, those that I feared most, have in fact been “…far outweighed by the gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” I can never prove it to anybody. I cannot demonstrate it logically or scientifically. I only know that it is true and would say so with all my to others, who, desiring to know Christ in all His fullness – in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering – yet fear loss. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. The gain will outweigh everything.” p 117-118.

I am afraid. I am afraid of losing my family. I am afraid of losing my health. I am afraid of getting old and useless. I am afraid of the rampant lawlessness in our society. I’m afraid of uncontrollable virus.

Though I’ve experienced loss, and yes, it is true I’ve come to know Christ more through them, I don’t want to go through loss again. I don’t know how I survived this far, I know it is Christ who strengthens me. But now I feel weak. I feel I can’t go through losses again. I’m enjoying my life…I have to let go. I have to gladly surrender.
Thank you, Elisabeth Elliot, for encouraging me – Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.

I am behind in my goal of reading 14 books this year. You would think that staying at home would give me more time to read. But without a fixed schedule, I have not scheduled reading time. And when I sit down to read, I feel guilty. I should be reading something else more immediate ie reopening church.

So here is my April book is “Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” by Donald Whitney.  I found this book at Goodwill for $1.99. Since I like Whitney’s writing, it’s not much of a risk to buy it at that price. Turns out to be a treasure.

Looking at the table of contents, the questions are fairly typical. But Whitney expands on the many layers of the subject. For example, a growing Christian should forgive quickly. Yes, easy to understand. But he explains the difference between forgiving and being ready to forgive and how that relates to Jesus’ command to forgive 70×7 times.

So often we assess our walk with God superficially – church attendance, spiritual disciplines, prayer life…and we are satisfied. And we are satisfied with pointing new believers in developing these habits. But we stop short of pursuing Christlikeness in many other heart issues.

There are other books on growing in maturity. But have 10 questions (though not exhaustive) makes it easy to digest. And makes it easy to do a study with others.

I would love to go through this book with a small group of 3-4 who want to grow in maturity, and be able to use this with new believers to grow in Christlikeness.

05
Apr
stored in: 2020

The best thing about not going to physical church for Sunday worship is I can relax and enjoy worship at home with my husband and daughter. That doesn’t happen when I am in Children Ministry at the physical church. Even though the online worship is not the same as being together with the church, the worship experience is still nurturing to my soul. This is a call for me to seek out worship when we go back. I used to go to evening service at another church, but I’ve not found a church with a good evening service on Saturday night. I’m usually too tired after the morning to attend a Sunday evening service.

I really value people who think outside the box, seek out new ideas, and are not resistant to change. In this time of a changing world, I appreciate more than ever people who can anticipate the future. I wish I am good at that. I can only ask the questions and want to do things differently, but I have no answers. I think those who truly study the stock market trends are good at that.

When this safe at home order is over and we go back to church, I hope that our church will be different. I hope we would cut the fluff and focus on the main thing. But see, I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what the fluff is, and I don’t want how we should be different.

01
Apr
stored in: 2020

Amidst the COVID-19 distress, I met a nice neighbor up the street with a 3rd grade girl. She and her dad were in their front yard playing while I was taking my daily walk. They were probably desperate for conversation with the outside world. Under normal circumstances, we would’ve waved and move on. But they engaged me with “How are you?” So of course I had to stop walking to answer, one question led to another, exchanged names, and I said she would really like coming to Awana at our church when we reopen. I pray that God will move their hearts to the gospel.

Also conversed with another neighbor on my walk the other day. People are less behind their fences now. People do need people.

Except my immediate neighbor is still rather aloof. I’ve seen him next door since he was in high school, now he is married with 2 kids! He’s taken over his parents house while they moved to Irvine. I’ve always tried to chat with him, when he would come home from college, etc. We only see each other if we happen to be outside at the same time, which is rare. He is not the friendly type. I wonder what his wife is like. I’ve not seen her. Maybe with 2 kids, she’d want adult conversation.

Getting news of CV-19 infected people closer to my circle of acquaintances…not happy news but will do my part to pray. Otherwise I really don’t want to hear bad news. It brings up anxiety. I want to hear good news and positive outcomes of this hopefully short period of time. What Satan meant for evil, God redeems it for good.

27
Mar
stored in: 2020

Being a missionary in the jungles of Africa is risky.

Going to the market in COVID-19 pandemic is risky.

I think it’s a dishonor to the missionaries to use the word “risky” in both situations.

I really like online meet ups. Makes relationships so much more accessible, more efficient, and depth of sharing is the same if not better. You cut to the chase without the in-person chit chat to warm up, etc. etc. But when the option of in-person is available, it seems somehow insincere to do online with those without distance barrier. I would never think of webcamming someone 5 miles away, but now I do. And it’s great.

So much good is coming out of COVID-19. Most of all, I am praying for a spiritual revival of turning to God from idols of materialism and self-sufficiency. And that’s including myself in that prayer too.

 

 

I failed.

I want to hospitable but I’m not.

I am too concerned for my own safety.

I’m not willing to go above and beyond.

I did not help a friend.

But God is good.

Another member of the Body of Christ helped. Christ’s name is glorified.

I see God at work in accomplishing His work. I missed the blessing, but I did received the blessing of praying for this friend and seeing that prayer answered by God through someone else.

Lesson learned: It’s not about me. I can trust God to get His work done with or without me. It’s my lost if I don’t participate.

When I need a break from reading heavy material, I read a Christian Hero biography series. I can read one in a few hours and fulfill my monthly book read.

I have not heard of Ida Scudder. I think I will highlight her in mission sharing with the church children one day. She served as a missionary doctor in India as a single woman from 1900-1960!

Ida was born to a missionary family of doctors, and pioneered training women as nurses and doctors in India. She was born in India and died in India.

I’m glad to lived a long life – died just a few months before her 90th birthday. She was healthy until the day she died. That’s a good way to go.

Biographies of Christian heroes inspire me to live boldly. Ida hiked the Himalayas in her 60′s, went back and forth from India to US when travel was slow (2-3 months on a ship) and dangerous. She lived through two World Wars. People in those days have grit.

I am not a bold person. I am too soft and too used to comfort. I blame that on my mom who used to tell me, when I was in elementary school, not to go to school when it was raining or when it was cold.

I thank God for raising up people like Ida who inspires to do just a bit more.

 

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. Finally borrowed it off of Pastor A’s shelf.

JMac wrote the book in response to the issue of people who deny lordship salvation. I didn’t even know that was an issue until recently. I assume everyone knows that when you ask Jesus to be your Savior, you understand He becomes your Lord. However, there are Bible teachers who teach otherwise.

Those who deny lordship salvation thinks a person is saved if he believes in Jesus but doesn’t obey Jesus. His life looks nothing like Jesus or do what He taught. His “faith” in the facts about Jesus that he died and rose again for His sins will get him into heaven.

From the clear explanation of the gospel according Jesus, I don’t see how anyone could deny lordship salvation. However, I do see my own error when I present the gospel to someone saying that “you just have to believe.” Even the devil believes. But it’s putting your trust in a person with your life, not just believing a set of facts about this person.

I do think the initial faith is a simple believe. But discipleship must happen and the fruit of that would be a Christ-like life and love for Christ. If there is no fruit, there was no true faith.

This book encouraged me to be a disciple of Jesus who surrenders to His Lordship in everything, including carrying the cross of suffering.

Each chapter of the book is like a sermon or a mini-book from JMac. It’s not an easy read because of the concepts, but it’s definitely easy to understand.