Ni hao friends!
With my upcoming year long adventure to China quickly approaching on the horizon, I thought I would resurrect my blog. My goal is for it to serve as a link to friends and family in other parts of the world and to ultimately point to Christ and His work.
I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of His power.
Since I came across this verse a couple months ago this verse has became such a treasure to me as I have meditated on Paul’s word and the Holy Spirit has revealed several truths to me.
- Who I am: I am a servant of the gospel-the good news that God sent His only Son Jesus to the earth to die on the for our sins and to be raised again to new life. My identity is found in my sweet Savior calling me His own and my joy is found in sharing this good news.
- What happened: God showed incredible unearned favor (the gift of grace) through not only forgiving my sins but clothing me in the perfect righteousness of Christ and giving me an incredible inheritance! Oh what a precious gift of salvation!
- How this happened: I have no power of my own. I desperately wanted to believe and know Christ, not just know about Him, but I could not snap my fingers and do so on my own. I sought God through His Word as an act of my free will but it was HIS power working in me that transformed my heart.
This verse is a guide to me as I embark on this both terrifying and exciting journey to China. My emotions will change constantly but my identity and the good news of Christ and God’s power remain forever.
Here is one key truth that the Lord has been teaching me during this season.
- Surrender and sacrifice is PAINFUL but necessary to purify my heart.
I love this season of flexibility and the ease of going where doors open, yet my heart also yearns for stable roots and a place to call my own. I want everything to be on my time table and at my convenience.
The Lord has been teaching me the art of surrender and laying my desires and plans at the alter of the cross. In the Old Testament, the alter was a continual place of bloody sacrifice that first had to be purified for the Lord. It was not pretty nor was it painless and neither is the act of daily giving up my desires and my will and saying THY will be done. I have been learning that walking in obedience does not mean perfect understanding. I will never know why the job in New York that I was so sure I was going to get this summer didn’t work out or why the doors to Japan were so clearly closed, but I do know that my life is not my own.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
Dear ones, a few prayer requests for China include the following:
1. Pray that I may remain firmly rooted in Christ Jesus and that my love for Him continues to grow and supersede all else.
Remain in Me, and I in You. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
I can do nothing on my own strength (and this is something I have to be reminded of constantly). Pray that my gaze never turns from Christ. In Revelation three, John praises the church at Ephesus for its works, labor, endurance, intolerance of evil, and testing of apostles; however, John severely rebukes them for abandoning their first love. I know that my tendency is to fall into a works based pattern. Anything that replaces my love for Christ is an idol, even if it is the study of His Word or sharing the gospel. These spring out of a love for Him.
I have no idea what this season holds. Perhaps God will abundantly bless me friends or perhaps He will draw me to the quiet lonely places . Perhaps He will place a Godly mentor in my life or perhaps He will choose to say, “My child, look at me and me alone.” Perhaps He will provide many willing ears and open hearts to receive His good news of salvation or perhaps He will instead say “persevere and hold fast, my child, in this fight of faith.” Perhaps He will guard me physically and shield me with His power, or perhaps He will refine me through fire. Whatever He does, my prayer is that I may be obedient to Him, faithful until He calls me home, securely grounded in His love and Word with my eyes fixed on what is to come.
I love the comparison in Psalm 1 of a man who meditates and delights in the Lord’s instruction as one who
… is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
2. Pray for a love of the Chinese people and culture.
In some ways I feel as if China is an arranged marriage: I committed to go out of a desire to explore more of the world not because of a deep love for the place. Whether my season there is to last for a year or for twenty, my prayer is that for that time the Lord will fill my heart with a love for the culture and people.
3. Pray that my path will cross with other believers in Jesus Christ and that we may encourage each other.
4. Pray for a spirit of boldness and opportunities to share the gospel so that it might take root.
Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.
If you’ve read this far, dear one, read that verse again. Suffer for Him. Wow! In my comfortable world, I can’t say that I’ve even come close to suffering. Living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ is a high calling indeed and certainly not one to be taken lightly. If anybody says the Christian life is a road paved with sunshine, success, and happiness then he is speaking lies.
I am seeing with increasing clarity that this temporary life as a Christ-follower is an unnatural one. Suffering on behalf of the gospel springs fountains of joy; complete freedom is found in being a slave to Christ; death of self produces life in Christ; a loss of worldly desires means a gain of an eternal inheritance. And as the Holy Spirit reveals more truths to me, what I am anxious about in going to China is turning into what I am excited about. My lack of language skills, my complete inexperience as a teacher, my unfamiliarity with the culture will all serve to cause me to daily rely on the Lord’s strength. Indeed, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
When the midnight meets the morning, may I love you even more.