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Why Did I Move to Singapore?

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Why did I move to Singapore? What a loaded question! “Why” questions usually are.

Opportunity. Commandment. Calling. Passion. World Needs. Adventure. Vision.

I suppose all of these words could be used to describe the reasons behind my leaving the USA…but all of these words are so vague or broad, that really anyone could say them about nearly any mission they go on. But, why did I move to Singapore? Why specifically did God want me there? I must say, I didn’t know that answer until December 2012 (I flew off January 2013!) and I’m still unpacking it more and more each day.

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Some Background:

When Danny and I got engaged and discussed this opportunity to minister to college students in Singapore (SG), I was on board. Why not, right? Single or married, I’d be on the mission field, somewhere, doing something…that’s about all I knew. Now, we had already gone on a short-term mission trip (STM) to SG a year earlier. And I didn’t leave ever expecting (or hoping) to return. I was glad to have the experience, but didn’t have any emotional high or burdened heart for the country after leaving. So, my willingness to return and live there wasn’t based on emotions so much as it was on purpose.

When you are planning to move overseas to do “good work” a common objection from family and even random strangers is “Don’t we need help here, too?!” Honestly, during our journey to leave we talked with people who were either excited or confused. I didn’t understand what was confusing until our wedding rehearsal dinner. During that dinner, many friends shared rather touching appreciations and thanksgivings about us and our life with them. That was the first time that I saw how much I had in America. I had multiple amazing friends, job opportunities, a supportive family, potential homes & land, education opportunities, & a loving husband to build a life with… honestly, my life couldn’t have gotten much better or more fulfilling. That was when I first realized that my commitment to leave all of that for a place that I knew very little about is kind of crazy.

Commitment & Surrender

So, I began to wonder…why shouldn’t we just do the same thing here…there are students who need Christ here, too…and then a deeper issue surfaced. I asked, “Is the Christian life meant to be more about our commitment to Jesus or our surrender to Him?” I really believe that our most genuine commitments to Christ are in context of our surrendering to Him. True, I can do very similar work in America, but what does it cost me to do that? There is little room to surrender anything if I had stayed.

“…count the cost…any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14)

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” (Phil. 6)

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 16)

What is a common theme in the verses? The giving up of our life for Jesus! So, aside from having an opportunity, a biblical commandment, a calling, passion, etc… I was going to Singapore, because God was going to lay in me a foundation of surrender. My oh-so-mighty comfort idol was to be ripped up and thrown out! That’s a pretty intimidating thought to have as you board an airplane heading to Asia…“Me leaving, will be the start of releasing all that is too dear to me, in order that I may be a willing, surrendered, servant for my Lord Jesus.”

I hope to share more about this journey of becoming surrendered in future posts. All questions and comments are appreciated.

I am Guilty: No More Finger Pointing

March 26, 2013 3 comments

Until recently, I have never realized how rare it is that I say, “I messed up.”, “I am to blame.”, “I choose to do it.”, “I am guilty.”

Just like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:11-13, I play the “Blame Game”. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He approached each of them as individuals. He questioned Adam, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”, then Eve, “What is this that you have done?” And their response “The woman you gave me ate it!”, “The serpent deceived me! (paraphrased)” Finger Pointers.

By approaching them individually, God demonstrated that He holds one accountable for one’s own decisions (not for the circumstances or decisions of others)!

I’m sure I’ve been this prideful my whole life, but through marriage both God and Danny are exposing my eagerness to spread the blame & not take full responsibility. This shocked me at first, for I’ve always been “mature for my age” and “responsible”, etc. But, just because I try to do right in life, doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the responsibility when I do harm others or myself.

Lies I tell myself to cover-up my actions (such as fits of anger, overspending, a sharp tongue, etc):

  • You messed up first!
  • You made me do it!
  • I’m stressed – don’t expect me to act as if I’m not!
  • I have a right to be comfortable  & its not happening!
  • I tried to prevent this from happening!
  • What I did isn’t that bad!

The twisted part of in all of this, is many times my shift of blame may be true & accurate. Go back to Adam and Eve: God did give Adam the woman, she did eat the fruit, & the serpent did deceive her. They didn’t lie…per se, The fact that we can redirect attention to someone else and it be valid makes it so much easier to do so. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be the victim? The victim doesn’t have to fix something. The victim doesn’t have to repent. The victim is, well, innocent – right?

Today, I decide that it is better NOT to be the victim. It is better for me to be a guilty sinner. For, if I am at fault, forgiveness is near! Redemption is near! Glory is coming for me! The Scripture promises us in 1 John 1:9 that,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If I perceive that I’m not guilty, then I will not confess my sin. If I believe that I don’t need to confess anything, I suppose I also believe that I don’t need forgiveness from a righteous Judge…

But how foolish it would be of me to stand before the holy & just God who even clarifies in James 2:10 that,

…whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

How foolish it would be to stand before Him and say, “But, I am innocent… Oh, those times I messed up were because they were sinners, not me.”

I want to be humble. I want to be wrong when I’m wrong. I want to experience Christ’s abundant grace. I want to be the first to confess. I want to fess up even if no one else does. I want to be blamed, so that I can become blameless.

God Values the Family

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Over the past few weeks God has been stirring in me a new value for the Family Unit. God started to solidify this value at Campus Outreach’s Christmas Conference in Jacksonville, FL. Two speakers briefly mentioned the family in their seminars.

Sandra Hearon spoke at the Women’s Rally on the topic of feminism. Using Deuteronomy 5:16 she explained that your family is who will still be around you when you’re old. She rebuked us softly in how we relate to our parents, siblings, and relatives. College students in America can focus so much on relationships with each other that we hardly fight to honor our family. And I thought to myself that the weak family relationships may be why even strong students of the faith struggle to walk with God so much after they graduate – they’re around people who hardly know them and visa verse. So, even if they have a desire to share and show Christ to their family, they can’t because their simply isn’t a common ground between them (if not even deeper unresolved family issues).

Then, Eric Mason gave a seminar that included different models of discipleship: (1)Air-strike -or classroom style, (2) Ground – or one-on-one discipleship, (3) The family, (4) Ministry teams, (5) a Christian community. When discussing the Family model he referred to Psalm 127 and recognized that this unit is the first ever discipleship community and is also the main place that discipleship takes place.

To, me this speaks VOLUMES. Here is what these truths should form in my life (and hopefully any Christian’s life):

1. I should take an active role in protecting the family unity because it is God’s plan for bringing redemption. With 1/2 marriages ending in divorces, with most people living together instead of choosing to be married, with pornography making its way into the family’s home, with promiscuity rampant amongst young singles, with fatherless homes, with gay rights activists uprooting the family design, with radical feminism destroying the value of selflessness, with the elderly not receiving visits or care from their children, with adultery, with grandparents raising grandchildren, abortion, and so on and so on…..ALL of this is a DIRECT offense to God’s plan of redemption through the family. So, find an organization to volunteer with, adopt a child, serve in the church nursery, babysit, receive church discipline, go to marriage counseling, have family meals together, be vulnerable and honest with your small group, consider homeschooling, develop a Christian worldview on these specific issues, etc. Find where you fit to help the family (not just your family).

2. I should aim to have a large family made up of many children! Psalm 127 says, “Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children of one’s youth, Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Can you imagine being in battle with only 2 or 3 arrows? Children are meant to be sent out into the world to “make disciples of all nations.” The Muslim community knows this. Islam is the largest religion in the world right now and a huge reason for that is because they have HUGE families! Christians are too conservative…we want things too controlled…too systematic. I’m not guaranteed that each child will come to Christ and live for him – but I can pray for them, train them, and release them into the world trusting in God’s power and redemptive purpose being fulfilled through my family.

3. Following #2, if possible, we must marry young enough to have children! Obviously, we aren’t all going to be married, nor will we all be married in our 20’s. BUT if God has introduced you to your future spouse don’t postpone marriage until after you have all your junk together such as a house, financial investments, a nice car, a good career, and the ideal magazine wedding. Yes, be responsible – but live by faith and trust that two is better than one. Keep in mind that if God has called you to marry someone, you’re being disobedient by not getting married.

4. Make the most of family time. Don’t be content with being near each other (geographically) and not emotionally or relationally. Some ideas: Be thoughtful about how time is spent when family visits, cultivate family traditions (especially for holidays), have fun together, have father-daughter dates, start learning to talk on deeper levels than just business matters, be the first one to apologize and repent. I don’t know, look up some good ideas on Pinterest :).

I hope that no matter what age you are and no matter what your current relationship status says, that this post inspires you to care about the family. And thus, I hope that you ask the Lord how YOU can serve and protect not just your family, but all of God’s families.

 

 

Societal Structures V.S. God’s Call on Our Lives

November 8, 2012 2 comments

My Lord has been doing some amazing work in my life the past few weeks. He has been bringing my mind to “seeking the things that are above, where Christ is” (Col. 3:1) and He has been revealing idols in my life. More so, God has revealed these idols before I set myself up to live in daily temptation of them. He has shown me that Jesus is greater than my culture & that His Great Commission may require me to forsake dreams and hopes that I have. For, His Calling is greater than my Culture. Thus, I hope to expose societal structures that keep us from “giving it our all” for the Lord.

Common American Phases of Life

The American way of life is quite different than most other countries. But, still each country has a culture or multiple cultures that create a type of order to a person’s life.  In America, it goes something like this :

We are born and  begin learning everything we know from our family. Once kindergarten hits, we begin receiving all of our education from a school system (whether public, private, or through homeschooling). The goal of this stage is to prepare us to be self-sufficient individuals in the next stage. Once we graduate twelfth grade, we are encourage to either work a job and make money or go to college in order to make even more money and be even more successful someday. So, for the next few years we prepare ourselves for our future employment that we hope will provide financial stability. Then, once we graduate we seek to excel at our career and be promoted until we consider ourselves “successful”. Once we are satisfied with this we tend to “settle down” by getting married and starting a family. At this point, we struggle for the next 20 years to juggle this career, our children, our elderly parents, and our marriage. Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages explains that that as we move into our 40’s we are wanting “to create or nurture things that will outlast us.” Once we believe we have accomplished this, we begin to retire at about age 65 so that we can no longer be involved in the world – for that’s what we deserve. Right?

Practically all of these stages are setting us up to live a more comfortable  & accomplished lifestyle than the one before it.

Interesting, huh? We all seem to fit this mold no matter how “radical” or “unique” we hope we are. This is because, from birth we are taught what the appropriate timeline is for our life. Sure, we all have different stories. Not everyone will get married & have children at the same age. And there are definitely gender roles, values, and economical challenges that have and will continue to cause this timeline to change. But, overwhelmingly we all divide our lives into these categories or phases.

How God Changed my Thinking

This recently began to frighten me a lot. Why? Because, I really don’t see God’s calling on my life fitting into this cultural structure that we have deemed “right”. In two months Danny and I will be in Southeast Asia. As we get closer and closer I’ve seen God expose lies that I’ve been believing and truth that I must cling to. I have been debating for a while as to whether or not I should write this blog, simply because I figured most people would deem me unqualified to speak on this topic. And, to an extent I am. But, God has been pounding me over and over and it would be wrong to keep it to myself. Through Kathleen Neilson’s Colossian’s Study, conversations with Danny and other people, podcast sermons such as the Biography of Bill Piper, current life examples such as The Flora’s Family, and personal reflection I have found that having children, a nice home, & retirement are not excuses to cease living sacrificially as a missionary. And if you don’t want to listen to me, maybe you will listen to their stories.

Having Children & Living Against the Current

Since time ticks closer to our departure I have heard more and more, “It’s so good that you’re doing this while your still young & without children.” Or I’ve heard, “How great that you are serving like this while you still can, before you have children.” (This is the part that made me hesitant to write this, because I don’t have children & can’t speak from that standpoint.) After long contemplation though, I have discerned that children definitely change your schedule, priorities, energy & thoughts, but they do not necessarily change your calling. Why do we think that children keep us from serving as a missionary? Are we so bold as to think that God’s calling must fit into our American methods of raising children? There are so many factors that I have wrestled with. I hate the thought of my children not having regular visits with their grandparents or not being raised in their native land (America). And I understand the value and beauty in faithfully discipling our children.  But, all of those good things don’t negate that God has called each and every believer (with children or not) to participate in the Great Commission. Having children is just one of many stages of life that I’m realizing I must surrender to my Lord to, rather than to pleasing people or even myself.

Building Up Comforts VS Living Sacrificially

But the more and more I say the phrase, “Well, Danny, when we settle down I’d like to live in X city, with Y type of house..” I realize that as of now, God has not called me to “settle down”. And even if He does, who says that I am called to settle down in Georgia, or even in America? Why are you living where you’re living? Why are you working where you work? It’s tough. In a land of opportunities, I’ve found that just because we can move somewhere, doesn’t mean we should.

It’s tough, because this is not our home. And the Lord brought me to tears at this thought. I like comfort – it is a major idol for me. I realized that I kind of want this to be my home & that often times I believe it is. I hardly ever remind myself of my true citizenship that is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). So, recently the Lord broke me. And He was so sweet to show me that if I feed into to having a nice home, and everything else that comes along with the American dream – I will forget, again. I’ll build up comfort after comfort -no matter how subtle or obvious they may be- and before long I will have put my energy, money, & thoughts towards maintaining a lifestyle that God never called me to in the first place.

My New Great Aim

But whatever gain I had, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. – Philippians 3:7-8

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – (Jesus) Matthew 6:19-21

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it – (Jesus) Matthew 10:37-39

These are just three of hundreds of verses that speak about the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. We are to live for Jesus only. And thank God, that he exposed an idol of comfort and misconceptions of relative societal methods that will seek to lure me from “giving it my all”. My new aim: To assume that God’s will would have me make costly sacrifices instead of being comfortable in this life. And therefore, repent of compartmentalizing my surrender to the Lord Jesus. 

Please comment with wisdom and lessons learned from your experience in parenting, living as a missionary, and fighting the cultural structures that pull you from Jesus rather than to Him. How can we remain faithful to the spreading of the gospel and faithful to our families if we are not called to local missions?

Daily & Mutual Submission in Our Marriage

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment

In a couple of days, I will have been married for a full 5 months! We are still babies, but lots has been learned in such a short amount of time.

I just wanted to give a brief post on ways I am seeing Ephesians 5:21 in my marriage, which states…

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

I love how we are (as the Body of Christ & married people) called to mutual submit to each other. The word used for “submit” or “subject” in the Greek implies the same type of submitting that would happen in an Army between officers, cadets, etc. Ephesians calls both the husband and wife to do this to each other, but emphasizes it with the wife (v.33). While, the husbands submission is emphasized as love & sacrifice (v.33). I think this is because,(generally speaking) it is harder for a wife to submit in respect (refer to Gen. 1:16b) and harder for a husband to submit in love. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs expounds on this thought in his new book,  Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.

Obviously, there will be times in a married couple’s life where submitting is costly. It could be a career change or a big move that one spouse may not be fond of. Then, a submission that recognizes that the marriage is where your allegiance is instead of with yourself may need to take place. But, those times are typically few and far between. I am not experienced with that kind of submission. So, what I want to address in this blog is the everyday, mutual submission.

Day-by-Day Submission

1. A few months ago, we had the opportunity to join the school’s rec center. But, we could only afford for one person to join. We both had equally convincing reasons as to why one should join instead of the other. But, I chose to encourage Danny to join instead of fight for the membership. This isn’t because I didn’t want to join. It’s just because I saw it as a way to put his desires above mine. A way to show him that I’m out for his well-being and happiness more than my own.

2. Often, while grocery shopping I’m torn between a dessert Danny likes to eat and a cereal I like. Usually, both aren’t in budget. So, sometimes I practice submission by grabbing his favorites over mine. This is again, a little way to help him. It’s a little way to put him before me.

3. Danny and I disagreed about our preferences for housing arrangements in Singapore. We both agreed that living with each other alone was the first priority. But, if that couldn’t happen I thought it was best to live with our partner and he thought it best to live with a host family. Instead of pushing for his #2 to become my #2 he ‘submitted’ to my desire and chose to work towards us living with our partner if necessary.

These are just a couple of examples. But, what I want to show is that mutual submission is practicing the basics of Christianity. It is the essence of serving and placing another above yourself like Jesus did. Mark 10:45:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.

~~~What are some ways submission has occurred in other couple’s lives? What are common misconceptions about biblical submission?~~~

The Difference Between Soul Mates and One Flesh

February 29, 2012 3 comments

The modern concept of soulmates.

Lately, I have been all confused about the truthfulness and falseness in the term “soul mate”. In singleness, I learned not to “single anyone out” in public or in my mind. I learned that a guy could be, “someone else’s future husband” and to treat him as such. That advice was helpful for me at the time. Also, I’d occassionally hear married people say, “How did I know my wife was the one? I married her! Then I knew.” What does that imply? I think it implies that a soul mate exists in marriage, because of marriage -not because of the person.

The term “soul mate” is relatively new. Back in the day, people did not expect to meet and marry “the one”. A soul mate is someone who is considered the person you are made to be with and who you will be incomplete without. This person has the ideal body, personality, job, and goals. This person is so together that they will not seek to change you or themselves. Rather, you will live in harmony and have complete freedom to continue living for your own dreams too. However, that kind of person does not exist. There is no perfect someone who can complete you, who wont change you when married. The Soul Mate Marriage is a self-focused marriage, one that is supposed to be good for the individuals and not for the unit. Therefore, when strain and tension occurs in this marriage the assumption is that you married the wrong person and should end it to search again for “the one”.

According to the Bible, oneness is meant to represent the union of Chrsit and his church. Throughout the Old and New Testament marriage is symbolic to the covenant between a faithful God and his (normally) unfaithful people. By God’s design, marriage is meant to change you – you’re suppose to grow and sanctify your spouse too! God has definitely uniquely designed each person. We  all have specific details about us that other people don’t have (check out Romans 12 as an example).  Also, God is completely sovereign – meaning He controls the good, bad, and the ugly. This implies that nothing is random and nothing happens by chance or coincidence. God has planned your marriage with your intended even before you did. And yet, that marriage will never complete you or give you everlasting security that a Soul Mate supposedly can. In fact, most married people will Amen to the statement, “You marry a stranger!” – because marriage changes you to the point of not even knowing who you married. In the One Flesh Marriage your unity is no longer based on compatibility, romance, and common interests. It’s based on a covenant with God and a promise to your spouse, “til death do us part.” The marriage represents a faithful God to His unfaithful people. Two becoming one requires active love and selflessness for the rest of one’s life – especially when it’s hard.

Both the Soul Mate Marriage and the One Flesh Marriage hold to a sense of fate or destiny. However, the Soul Mate Marriage rejects the idea of unhappiness and sacrifice, because it is consumed with the notion of a perfect somebody. While, the One Flesh Marriage embraces discord as a means to serving one another all the more within the covenant because the covenant (not the person) is the reason they are soul mates.

Prioritizing What’s Eternal

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m stepping into a new season of my life…marriage. It is an extremely joyful time, but adjustment is hard. I’ve had a hard time balancing everything that seems important. I haven’t felt like I’m doing too much, but rather I’m not doing anything very effectively. How do I prepare for a marriage, plan a wedding, graduate from college, disciple women, help lead a movement, and take joy in my schedule? I’m sure everyone could spout out a list of different things that seem pressing and important. Where is my time and energy going? Where should it go?

Last weekend I went to visit my fiancé. I stayed at a friend’s house and I saw on her kitchen counter a framed list. It was a Priority List. Wow, how simple. So, that morning I read my Bible and made my own priority list. Before I began, I asked the question, “What are the things that will have the most eternal impact?” Here is what I discovered…

1. Personal Worship of God and Devotion to God – Psalm 16:2 & Psalm 27:4

I want to live out of an “overflow”. I want my worship to fuel my service and duties. This looks like me protecting time in the Word and prayer every day. I want to enjoy God through fellowship (going deep with Christians) and sharing the gospel (because evangelism is going to nourish my soul Prov. 11:25). Attending church and worshiping through songs, tithing, and the teaching. And I want to trust God with a weekly Sabbath. For, “in Your presence there is fullness of joy”.

2. Marriage – Ephesians 5:31-32

Once married, Danny and I will be each other’s number one ministry. And the Bible tells me to do my husband good all the days of my life (Prov. 31:12)…and the days of my life began a long time ago! So, practically this looks like us talking daily, regular weekend visits, thoroughly completely the premarital counseling homework, reading “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller, reading blogs for budgeting, cooking, and other topics to help a marriage, doing well in my classes so I can transfer and graduate, being proactive in moving, and praying for my fiancé.

3. Discipleship – Matthew 28:19-20

Most fundamentally, this means that Kaitlyn, Emily, and Amiee have all of my time and attention when my first two priorities are not compromised. Also, this means that I am seeking to follow Laura and seeking out the other two women that I’m in a discipleship group with. So this means, one-on-one time with them, preparing for discipleship group, praying for them and with them, and giving them as much of my life as possible until I graduate because I believe they will reproduce their life and further God’s Kingdom. Within discipleship is evangelism – sharing the gospel in front and with my disciples is necessary for discipleship. After these things (if able), attending the Campus Outreach meetings, retreats, and other large events (however, always recruiting to them!).

Everything else comes after this!!!

These were my top three, most eternally rewarding priorities. If I aim to do well with these, I believe I’ve done my best. So far, it has been useful. I don’t feel guilty for not spending much time with tons of people, or missing an event, or not getting an A…because frankly, this is what it would look like for me to steward my time and energy well. As much as I want to do everything – and everything well – I can’t and in Christ that’s okay.

*If anyone wants to make their own priority list here’s some simple principles…

1. Focus on the eternal (God, God’s Word, and Souls of people)

2. Recognize the difference between urgent and important.

3. Know your personal limits and the season of life that you are in.

4. Schedule your time or someone else will do it for you.

5. Use your priority list when making your weekly schedule.

As Tim Keller has said, “Just do your best and relax.”