Tag Archives: Grace

Weekly Favorite Links (July 9-15, 2015)

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

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So… here’s a belated update: I am on week three at the new job. Everything just happened so quickly and there’s been a ton of changes to adapt to. But y’all already know how I feel about change. For the past several weeks, I’ve been in training for tasks and duties that I have responsibilities for. In addition, since someone on my team will be going on leave soon, I have extra things that I’ll need to handle in their absence. Otherwise, I have enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and other people in neighboring departments.

Funemployment seems like so long ago, when in reality, it was only three weeks ago. THREE. I also started an online course around the same time, which has only added to the busyness. Does it sound a little overwhelming? It kind of is. I think the biggest change for me during this time of transition has been the loss of free time. (And sunshine. SUNSHINE, I MISS YOU.)

When I was unemployed, I had almost all the free time in the world. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to do — I still had a schedule that I followed — but the difference was that I could practically do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And it was really nice, not to mention super comfortable. But now, I’m quite limited in what I can do outside of work. My leisure time is limited to the couple hours I have before work and the handful of hours I have after work, before the hectic cycle repeats itself all over again. While I had expected this and had tried to prepare myself for it ahead of time, it’s nonetheless still overwhelming–physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If anything, I think resuming employment brought out certain idols in my life. I realized that I’m quite selfish with my time and I’m more of a creature of comfort than I thought I was. When a working day is complete, I can’t wait to go back home and just lock myself up in my room and catch up on a day’s worth of social media. When I clock out of the office, I wrestle with making time for others that are harder for me to love. I go back and forth on deciding whether to spend quality time with family over hanging out with friends because I’d much rather be surrounded by the latter. I grumble in my heart when I have to put aside my wants and desires, my so-called “me” time.

There are days when I feel depleted of energy, completely fatigued, and yet I know that I need to lay aside my own selfishness, pride, and love of self in order to be faithful. Sometimes it doesn’t seem “fair.” But employed or not employed, God is always teaching me how to follow him in the mundane. Every day, I have choices I need to make. Do I choose to live for myself or do I choose to surrender and let God reign in my life? Do I choose joy or despair? Dependence in God or control over my own circumstances? Anxiety or confidence in God’s sovereignty?

Sacrificial love is hard. Obedience is hard. Persevering is hard. However, if there’s anything that quickly shakes me out of my own pity party, it’s dwelling on the fact that Christ went above and beyond to demonstrate sacrificial love to me. Christ humbled himself and was obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. So in the mornings, when I struggle to wake up and have a cheerful attitude, or when I’m fighting feelings of being overwhelmed, I pray that God would humble and change my heart. I pray that I would repeat Philippians 2 to myself and that I’d cast away any self-centeredness, looking towards Christ as the ultimate example of how to serve and love others, and to have joy in the face of trials.

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Weekly Favorite Links (July 2-8, 2015)

MacArthur

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If there is one thing that always surprises and never ceases to leave me utterly speechless and in streams of tears, it is grace.

I have been the recipient of so much undeserved grace lately.

I am amazed at how loved I am by those around me. I suppose I’ve always had this internal struggle that I needed to earn that love and so throughout my life, I sought to please. But grace is something that I cannot earn, which makes it so much more precious when it’s given. God has placed people in my life that have seen me at my worst and ugliest moments. Instead of judging me and telling me that I’m a disappointment or that I should’ve known better than to fall into certain sins, their eyes have only grown more tender and compassionate when all is laid bare.

Most importantly, they have readily forgiven me when oftentimes I struggled to forgive myself. When I am feeling overwhelmed with shame and guilt, they have patiently pointed me to Scripture to help me train my thoughts to find comfort in what is true. Not only have they embraced me in spite of my failures, they have firmly reminded me of the grace that is found at the foot of the cross. By no means do they condone my mistakes. But they have demonstrated what it means to love in hard times and to bear one another’s burdens because we all fall short. Instead of allowing me to run away from my trials, these brothers and sisters of mine have cheered for me to press on and to finish well.

I am so thankful for these individuals.

But you know what’s even crazier? These dear friends of mine are testaments of God’s faithfulness and work in their lives. More than their love for me is the mysterious love that my Savior and Lord displayed on the cross. In order so that I could be freed from the bondage of sin, He who knew no sin became sin in my place and bore my weaknesses. In this life, I will never be able to understand why Christ would die for someone like me. I will never be worthy of God’s love, of His Son’s sacrificial death on my behalf. However, if it was not for the grace of God, if Christ did not bear my guilt and shame, I would still be in chains today.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 

Romans 8:1-11

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Weekly Favorite Links (June 5-10, 2015)

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Some friends and I recently went to The California Science Center to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. I mentioned in this post a couple months ago that I was excited to see it (and sadly, no, I did not watch Jerusalem 3D narrated by my favorite Cumberbatch). While I looked forward to behold the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, I also wondered what else would be on exhibit.

I think one of the most memorable artifacts that stood out to me, perhaps more than the manuscripts themselves, were the household fertility gods that I saw. They were small figurines, probably made out of clay and were no bigger than the size of my hand. These little man-made idols made a lasting impression because it’s relevant to what I’ve been reading in the Bible. For the past month, I’ve been studying the book of Hosea with some friends. We’ve been reading about how Israel has been unfaithful to God, and how they turned to other idols for help. Their hearts did not love God, and they engaged in practices that were in outright rebellion against him.

My favorite verse so far comes from Hosea 6:6: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” I believe that this is the central theme of the entire book. God desires his people to worship and love him only. Even when God charges Israel and Judah with a list of grievances, prophesies judgment against them, you still read about how God wants to redeem them from their adulterous ways. It was easy for me to laugh at how ridiculous those small clay idols were at the exhibit. How could the Israelites place their hope in fertility gods and follow other deities worshiped by neighboring nations when they’ve seen of the marvelous handiwork of God himself? How could they forget about how God rescued them from Egypt and how he brought the seemingly impossible walls of Jericho to come tumbling down? It seemed absolutely ludicrous.

But then I look at my own life. I may not have physical idols scattered in my home, but I have idols hidden in my heart that I worship apart from God. I worship things that are just as ridiculous and silly as those fertility gods that I saw. The only difference is that the idols we may worship today may be more ambiguous and subtle. We may not bow down and pray to those things, but those idols emerge in our conversations and are evident from how we spend our money to how we utilize our time.

I’m thankful that I left the exhibition with more than a glimpse of historical artifacts. While the Dead Sea Scrolls were cool and I’d go see them again, I went away humbled at the daily grace that I’ve been given and a reminder of just how undeserved I am of God’s patience and love when I’m constantly so disobedient. Amazing grace, indeed.

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Weekly Favorite Links (May 14-20, 2015)

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Too often and too late do I find myself regretting that I didn’t savor the seemingly mundane moments in my life. I’m guilty of taking many things for granted, and at the top of the list is time. There are days when I wish time would hurry along, such as when I’m starting out my first steps in a run (which are always the hardest!) or if there’s a big event that I can’t wait to be a part of. On the other side of the spectrum, I sometimes wish time would slow down and come to a halt so that I could savor it some more. I reflect back to my college days of staying up with friends until the wee hours in the morning, not because we were studying (although we did plenty of that too) but because we were simply just talking about life and enjoying each other’s company. Little did I know that those talks would be counted as some of the most precious moments of my college experience, and that they would never come by again.

Then there’s that one hot summer day, when my grandmother took me all around the streets of Taipei, Taiwan to find the perfect wrist watch for me. A new watch was consistently one of the gifts she’d give me whenever I’d visit, which wasn’t often. It was an item that bound us together, no matter where we were, and seeing a watch would always remind me of her. To this day, I wear that watch wherever I go because of its sentimental value to me. Perhaps if I had known back then that God would take her home soon, I probably would’ve been more intentional that summer. Or maybe that’s just my own wishful thinking.

After graduation, I can’t just walk over to my friends’ apartments and start a conversation like I did so many times back in college. It’d be impossible because everyone’s now physically scattered throughout the world. While we used to all be in the same stage of life (college students), a lot of us are pursuing different things. Thus, it’s moments back then that challenge me to treasure the present and to have a sense of urgency for the future. The Bible reminds us that we’re finite human beings and we’re up against a ticking clock. Only God knows when our time is up. The author of James reminds us that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that we are simply a mist from the perspective of eternity (James 4:14).

Time is the greatest gift that we can ever give because it is not something that we can ever refund or replay. There is no time machine that can turn back time, nor can time be rushed. Each and every second in this life counts. While every moment is fleeting, it also matters much. Just like all my other resources that I’ve been blessed with, time is a God-given gift. We ought to be good stewards of time, to live not for ourselves, but according to how God intends for us to live. I have to wholeheartedly agree with David Mathis from Desiring God, who says in his article, “One key principle in making our time-management Christian is this: Let love for others be the driver of your disciplined, intentional planning. It is love for others that fulfills God’s law.

So the question that I’ve been asking myself this past week, and the question that I’d like to extend to you is, how are you using your time and resources today to show love to others? 

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