When it is easy and when in a pit

July 28, 2010

Last Sunday, our pastor preached about being thankful. As usual, my family discussed the sermon on the drive back home. My husband, son, and I agreed that we are very thankful. We feel very blessed and we thank God in our prayers daily. It’s easy for us to thank God.

The other day, I happened to catch a part of a TV show (can’t even remember what show it was) that interviewed an elderly couple. Their son was murdered. What the woman (the dead man’s mother) said struck me.

Before the murder of their son, the woman said, she was a Pollyanna. Her life was wonderful. She was raised by loving parents, had a happy childhood, loved school and her friends, had a rewarding career, loving husband, and a son who was her joy. She said it was easy to thank God.

When her son was killed, she felt like she was in a dark pit. And she realized God was in the pit with her.

If you are a believer who had been in a dark pit, you know what she’s talking about. Although I can’t say my pit was as horrible as the one this woman went through, I certainly could relate to being immersed in a hopeless dark pit and aware of God’s presence. I stumbled around and made mistakes. But God was there with me, and He didn’t let me fall completely. God is the reason why I became a stronger person through the
experience, instead of crumbling. God deserves the credit for guiding me so that I didn’t do something stupid (you know, the kind of mistake that you regret for the rest of your life) that would have messed up the lives of the people I loved.

When my heart was grieved
      and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
      I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
      you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
      and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psalm 73:21-24

So now, I am a Pollyanna. Having experienced dark times in the past, I’m very thankful for the blessings in my life. Loving husband, delightful son, rewarding job, etc. It’s easy to thank God when everything is wonderful, like right now. But I also know to hang on to God if I’m ever in a dark pit again.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
      And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25


“The truth will set you free.”

May 21, 2010

I hear these words of Jesus quoted a lot, and it always makes me wonder if the speaker knows from what we’re being set free. I tend to think most people refer to the removal of mental and/or emotional burdens from hiding the truth, or living with misunderstandings. But that is not the intended meaning.

Just so we understand the context, here are the verses where the quote comes from:

John 8: 31-32 (NIV)

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

From this text, I can conclude two requirements of being Jesus’ disciple.

1)      we must believe Jesus

-AND-

2)      we must hold to His teaching

Then, we will know the truth.

By the way, we receive the love of the truth from God through faith.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NIV)

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

But let’s return to the original question. Free from what? After all, we’re not slaves who need to be freed. Jesus’ audience had the same question.

John 8: 33 (NIV)

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus then explains his meaning in the following verses.

John 8: 34-36 (NIV)

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Notice Jesus equated Himself to be the truth. (The truth will set you free = If the Son sets you free)

All of us sin. That makes us slaves to sin. Sin masters over us. But when we humbly come to Jesus, repent, and believe His word (that He died to redeem us from the penalty and power of sin), we are set free. God removes the penalty of sin from us and gives the Holy Spirit so that the believers could live under His influence and not be slaves to sin anymore.

What God requires of us (repentance and faith) is very little, compared to what He offers us in return. I am a new creation, a living testimony of His work.


Test? What test?

April 19, 2010

Matt 10:37

(NAS)  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

When I read this chapter with my son the other day, I explained to him that we are to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else in our lives.

I could see the concern in my 12-year-old’s face. He said, “I respect Him the most, but I’m not sure I love Him the most. How do you know you love Him the most?”

My heart delights when I’m reading and studying God’s Word. My son agrees he enjoys reading God’s Word with me, too. But we also enjoy spending time with other people and doing other things. So maybe that doesn’t prove that we love Jesus above all else.

I believe this is why God tests us. To give us an opportunity to choose Him over what we love or want, so that we may know (He already knows) that He is our # 1. Just the way He tested Abraham by having him give up his son, Isaac.

Of course, God telling me to sacrifice my son is highly unlikely. My tests so far has been about giving up my selfish desires to obey God. However, I do see famous Christians watering down their message to appeal to the mass. And I wonder . . . if God gave me a huge platform, would I have the courage to speak the truth?


Bible mentions people worshiping Jesus

February 11, 2010

Here is another post about Bible mentioning how people worshiped Jesus.

Matthew 28:8-9

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

Matthew 28:16-17

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.

Matthew 4: 10

Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written , ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”

Jesus never told His deciples to not worship Him. Why? Because Jesus is God. He received worship because He deserves it.

Let us do as His disciples. Take hold of His feet and worship Jesus.


Thoughtful Critique

January 19, 2010

Today, I received a very detailed critique from a real editor.

Reading her long note, I could tell she took a lot of her precious time to offer me her valuable expertise. I know we’re not supposed to respond back to such e-mails with “Thank you”. If I could, I’d definitely offer her many thanks.

Thank you, Kind Editor. You have blessed me. I hope to seek you out at a writers’ conference one day and tell you what your critique meant to me.

Now I have to get busy with my revision.


Branding for my writing

December 21, 2009

Missy Tippens over at the Seekerville had a post about a list of 10
points that are most important in her work that she always makes sure to include.

I thought this was a great idea for branding one’s work. When I
write/edit my story, I naturally have certain guiding principals that I
follow. But after reading Missy’s post, I’ve decided to write them
down.

1. I want to write stories that exalt Jesus.
HEART AND SEOUL was born out of my desire to capture how Jesus drew me to Him and made me fall in love with Him.

2. I want to write stories that reflect who I am: a follower of Jesus Christ, an Asian and an immigrant, a wife of Caucasian man from Kansas, a mother of a biracial child, etc.

The hero in HEART AND SEOUL is a biracial man working in Seoul.

I am well aware that the Christian romance market is not all that
interested in stories with international settings or non-white
characters. But this story reflects who I am. If I take these elements
out, the story wouldn’t ring true.

3. Opening with action (something unexpected happens)
One of my pet peeves when I’m reading a fiction is when a character
spends most of the beginning chapter reflecting on what happened in the past. I want the story to start right away!

Also when I’m reading, I expect something unexpected to happen in the first chapter. So I write my story that way, too.

4. Imperfect characters who are strong, who are more interested in doing something than having internal monologue.
I think this point reflects my personality. When life happens, I deal
with them by doing something about them. I rarely get paralyzed with
internal struggles or feel the need to talk on and one about them.

In fiction, I prefer fast paced stories. But everything that happens
has to contribute to the overall story. I’ve read books where things
are constantly happening, but they really didn’t have anything to do
with the overall story. Not good.

5. Quirky and unusual situations that allow readers to experience something new.
In real life, I don’t get to experience everything out there, nor do
I want to. One of the benefits of reading fiction is that I get a
glimpse of other people’s lives that is totally different from mine.

For example, in HEART AND SEOUL, I have a scene that takes place in a
booking club in Seoul. I have never been to a booking club, only read
about it. As far as I know, booking clubs are unique to Korea, and I had
fun throwing Melanie (the main character) in that situation and allow
readers to experience it through her.

I’ll write the rest of the points that are most important in my work
in another post. If you have your own list, please share.


Worship Jesus

December 6, 2009

Here is my second post for a verse that talks of people worshipping Jesus. Here is my first.

Matthew 14: 33

And those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Why is it important to me to note people worshipped Jesus? I grew up in Jehovah’s Witness organization. They taught we are not to worship Jesus; we are to worship Jehovah God only.

But Bible mentioned people worshipped Jesus and Jesus received their worship. He did not tell them not to worship Him. In other places in the Bible, Angels have told people not to worship them because they are only messengers. However, Jesus did not. People worshipped Him and Jesus let them worship. Why?

Because He is God.