Jesus at the Center, not me!

Hello! I am going to compare two Bible passages that I came across and wanted to study further and apply to my life.

39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. -Mark 9:39-40

And

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’            -Matthew 7:21-23

My two thoughts:

  1. It seems possible for a person to use Jesus’ name and do works in his name, but somehow not genuinely being in and for Christ. The Matthew verse says that people will plead to God on the day of judgement, and advocate for themselves. When really it is Jesus who is supposed to advocate for us before the Father! These people will say that they did many mighty works in his name. Why does he say he never knew them? It might be possible to do good works or even to believe in Jesus for our own gain or for our own will. This becomes a “me” centered gospel, instead of a gospel centered on Christ. If I do good works in the name of Jesus, but think it is me doing the good works, I have mis-interpreted the scriptures. The fruit of my life is only a product of God’s grace working through me. His grace enabled me to repent and turn to Him and to believe in the powerful name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, the ways I was running in the opposite direction of God. After I die, I do not want to appear before Jesus and beg him to let me into Heaven based on all the good works I did. I want to appear before him and look into his tender eyes and hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. I knew you then, and know you now. I enjoyed every moment spent together. When we went out into the world, we were on the same team. I know it was so hard at times, but it was also so, so, SO rewarding!”

    I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.     -John 15:5

  2. In the Mark passage, I don’t think Jesus is saying that all who do miracles in his name are guaranteed to be acting in genuine faith. Because we just saw in the Matthew scripture that there are people who will do miracles in his name, but he never knew them. Here, Jesus seems to more so be making a point to his disciples that other people are partnering with him in his mission and that it is Okay! The disciples saw someone driving out a demon in Jesus’ name, and they told the man to stop! Jesus brings correction by telling them not to tell others to stop doing things in his name, basically like saying, “Hold on, they are on the same team as us!” The disciples sometimes saw other people as the “other,” and thus, as a threat to the work of their Teacher. (They did not see the full picture of the Kingdom of God yet, ’cause they were living the exact moment of the ushering in of his Kingdom! What a defining moment in time to be alive.) Jesus was broadening their view of the Kingdom, family, and community of God. The promised Holy Spirit was going to fall on ALL people (at Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2), Jew and Gentile. Therefore Jesus intentionally planted seeds in their hearts for that coming event and the hope and reality of his continued mission, after he ascended to be with the Father.

 

Personal reflection:

In my life I am tempted to and find myself claiming Jesus but not taking time to listen to Him, rest in Him, or read His Word. I get so busy, but still do things in His name, such as my ministry job, reaching out to people who are lonely, or supporting someone I sponsor out of my material resources. I do these things in Jesus’ name, without the prayer backing – meaning, without getting to know the Person and God behind the name and remembering that it is He who works through me.

Jesus, you are the center of my life. When I stray, you bring me back. Thank you so very much!

Verses for further reflection:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Jesus, Matthew 11:29

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. -Galatians 2:20

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.                               -Ephesians 2:10

10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. -Hebrews 4:10

Advertisements

Always Return

The sand was silky between her toes – in-between – doing the thing natural for sand to do. It’s impermanent. Maybe that’s what makes it “soft.”

Many years have worked side-by-side to grind it into the fine powder that it is; a dusting of rocks, minerals, shells. Once possible to distinguish – now impossible to put back together.

Does sand mourn its displacement?

She once, as a child, tried to separate all the white grains from a multi-colored myriad, scooped from the shore by hand. A sparkly vision of salty quartz held her arm steady.

It took so long, even the tweezers became exasperated. She gave up the task.

Maybe a thousand years go by and still she is there. The grains in her toes and tears, not one the same. Finer dust now, it’s all the same.

Just like her heart which roams but always returns – shape-shifted and torn apart – but still, the same. Curious. Unyielding.

She sits now with the contemplative shore – done wandering she sits – waiting, wondering.

 

If each tear were a prayer

 

 

If each tear were a prayer,

I would have prayed a billion times.

A billion asks that

float up to the sky.

And God would have heard me

one billion times.

Without uttering a single word,

yearning together for

different world.

A friendly one, a healed one.

If each tear were a prayer,

I would keep crying,

knowing that closing the floodgates

would damage the ecosystem of

my soul,

and that,

of this one wild and precious world.

To the Philippines and Back!

I am going to tell this story from the beginning! Me, my sister Breanne, my grandparents – Lolo and Lola, and my uncle David arrived at SeaTac ready to fly stand-by to the Philippines! My uncle is a flight attendant, so we could fly non-directly and save on ticket prices. First we flew to San Francisco. Then we saw the waiting lists for flights to Honolulu were like 50 people long! After several attempts of catching one, we gave up and spent the night at a hotel to try again in the morning. An angel in the form of a lady and her son from Hawaii told us our best bet would be to catch a stand-by flight to Kaui, then buy a ticket to O’ahu. So we did that and we made it to Honolulu! By the time we landed, my throat hurt and I felt feverish. I couldn’t believe it… the flu was hitting me!

For the next couple nights I stayed with my past youth pastors – Norm and Christy deGuzman. They took care of me, prayed for me, and bought me pho, popsicles, and udon noodles. I hadn’t seen them in so many years but it felt like nothing had changed. It was so refreshing to spend time with them even though I was so sick. I just love them so much! They are my spiritual parents! 🙂

Then the crew and I tried to catch a flight to Guam, but it was too packed. We stayed with our long-time friends the Fortuno family, and my sickness was still raging. My sister Breanne took such good care of me. At 2am when I almost passed out, she helped convince me that I was not overdosing on Ibuprofen and Tylenol, and that I was just dehydrated. She made sure I was drinking water and electrolytes and she slept next to me. I know she definitely sacrificed her comfort for my comfort, and for that I am so grateful. I have the best sister in the world.

Also – somewhere in the midst of all that, I turned 25!

On the evening of Maundy Thursday, my grandparents and uncle decided to buy a direct flight to the Philippines and Breanne and I decided to catch a stand-by flight to SF. She needed to get back in time for school. My uncle was going to stand with us at the gate until we caught a flight. We missed one, but the next one looked promising. There was one, maybe two seats available. I told Breanne she could take the first opening and she boarded the plane. The attendant said there was one more spot, but then suddenly an out-of-breath guy runs up and shows his pass and boards the plane. “Sorry, there are no more spots.”

“That’s okay.” I thought. I have more vacation time so I don’t mind hanging out here in Hawaii! Then my uncle said, “Would you still want to go to the Philippines?”

The short answer is that I said “Yes!”

My uncle then stayed up practically all night figuring out the flights and we boarded our direct flight in the morning! I have never been on a 10 hour flight, and I actually enjoyed it!

I was tired when we landed in Manila because it would have been time to sleep in Hawaii, but now it was 3pm in the afternoon! My mom and uncle’s cousin Adrian picked us up and we spent the night at his house. The next day was Easter, and we took a taxi-van back to the airport, met up with my mom and step-dad, and all six of us flew together to Davao city! There we were met by more of my mom’s cousins! I couldn’t believe it – I made it to the Philippines after almost going home!!

20180401_101658

Here are some pictures from our first full day in Davao. We took a Jeepney to a more touristy/retreat area up on Mt. Apo.

Durian fruit, Marang fruit, fried banana and night-time fun with “Grandma” and the cousins:

The next day we went to the beach and had a picnic and went swimming! I forget what beach it was :,( The water was warmer than in O’ahu. My mom’s cousins said I was shy compared to Breanne so I tried to talk more and get to know them! In the end we tried to re-do an old photo of my mom and her cousins since it was the same park. The original structure wasn’t there anymore, so we all got on the jungle gym that was there.

20170305_180543 (1)29683289_1895697913782674_6550716723910344164_n

On our final day in Davao, we visited the resting sites of my mom’s Lolo and Lola, her aunt Frieda, her cousin Jeoffrey, and her uncle Greg. After that we went to the part of the city where my Lolo grew up and went to school, we visited Holy Cross school but it was pretty renovated and unrecognizable to him. We also went to Magsaysay Park which was where he often hung out. That evening we had to catch our flight back to Manila! It was so hard to say goodbye.

29791777_223520778199941_7874343649056952118_n30226911_223520844866601_3214046867668308664_nIMG_6915Maker:0x4c,Date:2018-2-11,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y20180404_17213720180404_172302Maker:0x4c,Date:2018-2-11,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

We flew back to Manila and stayed with my mom’s cousin Adrian again and his family.

After staying the night in Manila, eating a breakfast of chicken adobo and rice, and taking final pictures, my mom, step-dad Peter, and I flew 12 hours to Canada and drove home from there. I miss and love our amazing family and the beautiful country of the Philippines. I can’t wait to go back!

I’m going to the Philippines!

I can’t even accurately express how excited I am. In 7 days I will be on my way to visit family and islands where my Lolo was born and where my mom grew up!!! I’ll be travelling with my sister Breanne, my uncle David, and my Lolo and Lola. We are going to Hawaii and Guam first to see old friends, churches, and neighborhoods. I will be able to visit with my past youth group leaders too! They moved to Hawaii after my 10th grade year. I haven’t seen Norm since then, but I saw Christy when she came up to visit around the time when I was about to graduate from high school. It will be a big blessing to see them again. They really helped me out with my faith back then.

From Guam we fly to Manila and then to Davao. My mom and step-dad will join us there later! My mom said she hasn’t seen her cousins in 35 years! She was 12 the last time she was with her family in the Philippines.

I’m kind of nervous about what to pack and what to expect. Breanne traveled to Manila a year ago so she is getting bombarded with all my questions! Today she simply said, “it is really chill.” What to expect: eating lots of food, going at a snails pace, and hearing lots of stories. I am excited to go swimming, eat a lot of mangoes, …to experience the culture first hand, and to soak up family time with my mom’s side of the family who I’ve never met.

I also get to celebrate my 25th birthday and Easter Sunday there! I feel like God planned that.

This will be a big adventure for me, as I’m not one to travel far. Thanks for your prayers and I can’t wait to update everyone on my time in the motherland!

God cares about climate change

It’s January and I expected the temperature to be in the 30’s by now but it’s 45 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit! This kind of makes me happy because I get cold easily. The temperature this past week might not be due to global warming, but it got me thinking. Then I saw an NPR article that said while the South (US) is freezing, Alaska’s ice highways are not sturdy enough and dog sled races can’t happen per usual. I thought, “That’s really strange!” And also sad. As glaciers melt and animal species linger on the brink of extinction, it’s hard to ignore or deny that our planet’s climate is changing. I am shocked whenever I learn the stats.

As a Jesus-follower I am also not surprised. In the beginning when God created the world, the world was very good. When Adam and Eve sinned and God told them to leave their home, the garden of Eden, the initial order and intention for humans and the world disintegrated. Humans had (and still have) free will, and with it they departed from God and His path and plan.

If people had not sinned in the beginning, and if they had instead chose to remain close and obedient to God, I believe that what we would see today regarding our relationship with the Earth would look drastically different! Humans would make wise decisions about the Earth, honor our Creator, and treat all with compassion. Our actions today in regards to the climate do not honor Him who is Creator of all. Man-made plastics fill and contaminate His oceans and fish, choking out animals and sea life that He spoke into existence. Humans gather oil selfishly and unapologetically – without regard for how actions affect others. There are so many examples of how we live today that was never God’s original intention for this world, the place we call home. He intended for us to cherish and take care of Earth alongside Him.

The scriptures say that a new Heaven and new Earth are on the horizon. In the meantime, Jesus came into our midst to establish his rule on earth – the Kingdom of God – right now! The Kingdom of God is here now and not yet. When humans choose to steward the earth and its creatures with kindness, hospitality, and awareness, we will experience Jesus’ Kingdom breaking through the hostility of our harmful ways.

I am thankful for Jesus because He shows us the right path. He is so powerful and mighty. He gives me hope, because I believe He grieves for the planet as well – and He has a major restorative plan. Even though science can’t quite prove this, I imagine that if God were not Creator, nothing in this life that we see, hear, smell, taste, or feel would exist as we know it. With that perspective in mind, there is a whole lot to be thankful for!

Amen.

Reflection

I just found this in my drafts. I think I wrote it in the Fall of 2015. I like it…so…here ya go!…

Perfection or Perfectionism?

About six months ago, during my senior year of college, I struggled with a feeling that my mind was separated from my heart, with my spirit floating somewhere in between. My journal entries from back then are so scattered, stressful and directionless – even simply flipping past them in my notebook gives me a sick feeling. I found a note in my phone from that time that says, “Am i perfect or am i a perfectionist?” Speed-walking to class after tiredly forcing myself out of bed produced this thought. I was thinking about the fact that in my entire college career I have never missed a day of class (except for one sick day my freshman year). I started wondering if me pushing myself to go to class this day, even though I felt horrible, was motivated by this perfect record. I thought, “Well hey, maybe I’m just perfect!” But literally no one is perfect! Since I do strive to meet expectations with perfection, another thought formed, “Well, maybe I’m just a perfectionist. An overworked, sad, stressed, perfectionist.” I thought about how I accomplish school work, labs, or projects in an effort to impress myself (and definitely my faculty).

Considering these two words – perfection and perfectionism – I do not feel that either should define me. I am obviously not perfect, but I am also not a perfectionist. I value having healthy expectations for myself, holding myself with integrity within these expectations, and respecting the expectations others have of me.

So, what am I taking away from this quick morning contemplation?

I am a big internal processor. Internal processing is not bad, but it has caused me to hole up inside of my brain and forget to view things with a grander perspective. This causes me to forget what is truly important in the grand scheme of things. My top priority senior year was school. In the summer of 2015 I lived in Hilltop Tacoma. It was there that I gained a new perspective. I re-experienced how peaceful and alive I feel when God is my number one priority.

No wonder I felt so lost at the end of my senior year – I had lost sight of how big God is! I am not perfect but I strive to reflect Jesus, and He was and is perfect. I think it is so amazing that God would allow me to embody His own son!

Even though I lost sight of God during a difficult season, God never turned His face away from me. Though the difficulty of school, God gave me countless opportunities to seek His face and learn how and who to love with His love.

What I love about life is that it is a journey of constant growth, change, and renewal.

Amen!