I just wanted to share with everyone the entry from my journal that I wrote last night.
May 2, 2012
Today is a day I’ll never forget. As usual on Wednesday I went to church to work with the students. Weng (my wife) was especially tired after work so she decided to stay home. She works hard at her job and was really worn out. About half way through the student choir practice she sent me text asking if I had to stay late for any meetings. I called her to if she wanted me to pick up some food because that is what I thought she was texting for. She said yes to KFC but also that I needed to hurry home because she had good news. I immediately knew what it was. Thoughts, fears, and praises flooded into my head. I raced home full of anxiousness to find out the good news. Weng opened the door for me to come in and showed me the pregnancy test. It was positive. My jaw dropped and I was speechless. After a moment of hugging and kissing, I suggest we go get another test to make sure. It too was positive.
I am going to be a dad. Wow. I had always dreamed of this day. I can remember as a little boy looking forward to being a dad just like my dad. I am so excited and overwhelmed. I already love the baby with all that I am. I just want to be a worthy father. I want to be a godly man like my father. I am so excited.
Thank you God. I pray that you will give us a child that will serve you. I pray you will already have the day of our child’s salvation planned. I pray for your guidance and providence. Thank you for sending your son to die for me. We can never repay you. And now you see fit to bless me with a child. I love you God.
Psalm 145: 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
Sometimes when studying theology and God, we sometimes have a way of talking about God in lofty philosophical terms that strongly emphasize His transcendence. It is true that God is transcendent over His creation. There are facets of God that we will never understand because we are finite creatures bound by time and space. God on the other hand is infinite and is not bound by time or space. God is also immutable and does not lack in anything. God has every quality in himself in infinite capacity therefore God is not in need of anything. God does need us to give Him anything. Furthermore we have nothing to give Him which we have not first been given. With all of that said, it is so nice to know that God is not some far off God of only transcendence but that He is near. Psalm 145 is a Psalm of praise to God. It speaks of His majesty and power but then starting in verse 14 but specifically in verse 18, we are taught that God is near to all who call on Him. God is close and personal. He stands ready to hear our cries and pleas. Because God is so great and His kingdom is full of power, then God is able to do something about our cries. It is amazing to think that the God who controls the tides and the winds is never further than a prayer away from those who have trusted Him.
I’ve heard it said in many sermons that “The bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the bible.” In reading and meditating on Psalms 1, 19 and 2 Timothy 3, I have discovered this cliché statement to be truth. My life has often been a picture of this statement. I find that when I am practicing the spiritual discipline of reading and meditating on God’s word my resistance to temptation and sin is strong. On the converse, when there is unrepentant sin in my life I have found my desire to read God’s word waning. When I have been delighted in God’s word I have been blessed beyond measure. Meditating on scripture has had an immediate positive effect in my life where as when I don’t make time for God’s word, it too has had an immediate negative effect.
The first psalm is not very long but is packed with a powerful message. This short psalm exhorts us to delight in the law of God. Starting with a blessing for those who do not walk in the way of the wicked, it then goes on to say that those whose delight in the law of the Lord are like a tree. This tree is planted by a stream of water. This tree has a source of nutrition and substance. Because this tree has roots that can get plenty of water and food, this tree bears fruit in season. This tree does not have leafs that wither or fall but is green all year round. It is like the mighty oaks of the past in our faith, men who stood strong on biblical principles. Men like George Müller, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards. It reminds me of my father, who has always taught me that I must follow God and live by scripture. Something I noticed about this tree was that it bears fruit. Jesus also said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we are to bear fruit, then we must be tapped into the vine. If I am to be the mighty oak tree or the branch of the vine, then I need to be sure I am connected to Jesus. Jesus is revealed to us through the scripture. I pray that I will delight in the scriptures of the Lord. I want to be the tree that does not wither. I want to take my place among the mighty oaks of the faith. The only way to do that is to be connected to the source of nutrition, God’s word.
Just as there are mighty trees planted firmly in the truth, there will be weeds that do not produce fruit and who will be consumed in the fire. 2 Timothy 3 begins with a warning about these weeds. In the last days there will be those who appear to be godly but who walk in the way of the sinner. We are seeing those days now. With the onset of the health and wealth churches we are seeing a me-centered theology. Just as Paul said, people will be lovers of self and money. The problem does not just stop with the prosperity gospel but it goes must deeper. Christians particularly in America have become overly materialistic. We also live in a culture that celebrates pride and boasting. I think much of the problem comes from a watered down theology and lack of true teaching of scripture.
Paul then goes on in 2 Timothy to exhort Timothy to continue in the scriptures. Paul is contrasting those who have gone after wicked and evil ways with those who follow the scriptures. The scriptures are God’s breathed way of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. Those who stray far from them will find themselves vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. Once again I have felt this truth in my life on more than one occasion. When I have let busyness or complacency cause me to neglect reading the bible, I have found my mind to be far more susceptible to lustful temptations or selfish thoughts. When I have let these thoughts take hold, it is almost as if I have become adverse to reading the bible.
Meditating on these scriptures over the past few weeks has helped my understanding of the truth that God’s word is a light illuminating my path and a sword fighting off evil. It is with the scriptures that I can gain a greater intimacy with God. If I will make God’s word a treasure in my heart then I too like David can say, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight.”
I have been reading and meditating through the book of Mark and it has been a very good experience. God has blessed me with some understanding because I am taking the time to really study the passages instead of reading quickly which I am prone to do. In chapter 4, Jesus had just left the Jewish shores of the Galilee Sea and headed to the other side of the great body of water. During this time, Jesus calmed the waves and encouraged the disciples’ faith. No sooner Jesus had set foot on dry land when He was greeted by a demon possessed man. The thing that really struck me about this passage is that after Jesus cast out the demons, the Gerasenes people begged Jesus to leave. Jesus had just arrived to proclaim the good news and yet the people wanted Him gone. From an earthly view it may seem like Jesus had failed. No sooner had He got there then He had to leave. Yet we know that Jesus is God, so therefor He knew what was going to happen before He even started sailing across the Sea. Jesus knew He would be going to a hostile region, be greeted by the demon possessed man and then would have to leave. Yet Jesus went anyways. Jesus went through the stormy seas to enemy land for one reason or should I say one person. One might be tempted to think that when Jesus made land on the shores of Gerasenes that the demon- possessed man was the one who sought out Jesus but that is not true. Jesus was the one who sought him. The demons knew that Jesus had come to save the man because they said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demons knew that Jesus had come to seek and to save. This is a beautiful picture of the gospel, that God came to earth, enemy territory, and defeated Satan and all the demons when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus sought me when I was the property of Satan and rescued me from the clutches of the evil one. I am so thankful that Jesus would cross the sea of Galilee for just one person. I am so happy that Jesus would bear the cross for me.
After preaching and ministering to a large crowd, in Mark chapter 4, Jesus must have been exhausted when He told his disciples to pull up anchor and set sail for the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They were to head to the other side which was the country of the Gerasenes, a gentile country which is evident by the fact that they raised pigs. The beautiful thing about this trip across the sea is that it shows both Jesus’s humanity and divinity. After being surrounded by crowds who were looking for miracles and seeking Jesus’s full attention, He probably wanted to get away and rest. Jesus must have been so tired because He feel asleep on a boat. When I was in the Philippines on a mission trip, I went on a ferry ride from one island to another. I would have had to been completely exhausted to fall asleep on it. It is good to know that I have a God who knows what it is like to work hard and then be exhausted. Then a storm arose rather quickly and the disciples started freaking out. This always perplexed me because I thought as fishermen they would have been pretty confident out on the water. After some research I found that storms can be very fierce and sudden on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples probably fished close to the shore and may have never sailed across the sea to the other side. Frightened, they woke up Jesus. To them it seemed crazy that Jesus could be sleeping through the storm. Yet here Jesus was passed out on a pillow in the stern of the boat. Jesus woke up and calmed the storm. He then asked the disciples why they were so afraid and had no faith. The disciples were afraid but had forgot one major thing. Jesus had told them to go to the other side of the lake. Jesus had called them somewhere and they should have trusted that Jesus would get them there. I am a lot like the disciples. I often forget that if Jesus calls me somewhere He will go with me and get me there. I too like the disciples find myself staring at the storms and wondering how I will survive. It is comforting to know that Jesus is the master of the storms. It is comforting to know that if we obey Jesus, he will get us to the other side. Storms may arise suddenly and violently but if God is for me then who can be against me.
I have been reading through Mark when I came upon a verse in Mark 4 that gave me pause. In the NIV, verse 33 is translated “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.” This translation seems problematic to me because just a few verses earlier Jesus had told his disciples that he was speaking in parables to the crowds so that they would not understand. In Mark 4:11-12 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!””
I found it strange that in one place Jesus would tell his disciples the purpose of parables was one thing and then later it seemed to change. The NASB and the ESV have a better translation of verse 33 that makes more sense in context. Instead of saying that Jesus spoke as many parables as they could understand, these versions say that Jesus spoke as many parables as they could hear. To me this passage reflects the way that the gospel works on people. The gospel message has two purposes. The most clear purpose is that those whom God has chosen would hear it and have their hearts pierced, their souls convicted, and then they would repent of their sin and turn to Him. The second purpose is that there will be those who hear the gospel message and it will only work to further their rebellion. It will only work to harden their heart. In this way the gospel will stand as an accusation against that person in judgment. The gospel will come across as parables,stories, and fairy tales. There will come a time when they can bear to hear it no longer. The message of the gospel is foolish to those who are perishing but I am grateful that to those being saved it is the power of God.