Saturday, February 20, 2016

UnDeserved

For a while now I've been thinking about writing this post, but I wasn't quite sure how to articulate my thoughts.  I'm still not, but I'm ready to give it a shot.

Deserve - to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to.

This word deserve, I've noticed, is thrown around a lot.  And whenever I hear it, my attention is directed towards the person using the word.  Now let me be the first to say that I am not very careful with my words.  More often than not I am struggling to put them back in than to ponder them before they come out.  But this one word with it's seemingly harmless and even encouraging meaning has left me feeling more conscious about how and if I use it.

"You worked hard, you deserve that promotion."  "you've suffered through old, used cars, you deserve a new one" or how about "you're busy parents, you deserve a night out."  And looking inwardly, "I've lived the apartment life long enough, I deserve a house."

My problem is not with the reward.  Promotions are good, new cars are nice, a night out is necessary. My issue comes with the two words preceding the reward you deserve.  When I try and come up with reasons that I might deserve something I'm left empty.  Because in all sincerity, I, on my own merit, and with my own efforts, can do nothing.

In John chapter 15, Jesus is talking to His disciples about being the vine and them being the branches. He says that God the Father is the gardener and that He will cut off every branch that doesn't produce fruit.  If the passage were to end there, a reader might think that there is a significant responsibility to bear fruit so as to avoid being cut off.  But the verse doesn't end there.  It goes on to say that no branch can bear fruit by itself. Even the thought of it is absurd.  How could a branch laying on the ground, attached to nothing, grow any sort of fruit?  The branch must be attached to the vine.  So Jesus says in verse 5,

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

It is because of this teaching that I have such a hard time with the word deserve.  I can do nothing apart from Christ.  And the fact of the matter is, I deserve every wretched thing you can imagine.  Romans 6:23 teaches us that "the wages of sin is death" that is, the penalty for any wrong doing is to die.  I'm pretty sure I sealed my fate at 2 years old. In Mark chapter 10 a man asks Jesus a question and refers to Him as a good teacher.  But before Jesus gives the answer, He makes a point to say, "Why do you call me good?  No one is good -- except God alone."  So even Jesus, a perfect man, asserts that God is the only good one.

So what am I to do?  How can I expect anything less than God's horrible (and I mean horrible, check out Revelation 9) wrath?  The answer is simple and yet life-changing.  It is to remain in the vine.  The second half of Romans 6:23 says, "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord".  Eternal life meaning never die.  That's huge!  Living forever is certainly not what I deserve, but because God loved this world full of dirty, rotten, sinners, He gave His only Son as a living sacrifice so that anyone that chooses to believe in Him will live forever.

You see, to say anyone deserves anything favorable is false, no one possibly can.  And I hope from now on I will take the time to ponder my words when someone tells me I deserve something with a response similar to this:

For it is God who works in me to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.  Philippians 2:13




Monday, July 14, 2014

My Best Friend's Wedding

Every wedding I have ever been to, I have cried.  The moment the bride walks down the aisle gets me misty, but the real moment the tears flow is during the vows.  I mean, think about it, making promises for life, that is serious.  During my wedding ceremony the officiant pointed out that my husband and I were not entering into a contract that can be broken, but a covenant that is unbreakable.  It is enough to make me more than a little teary.

A few days before I stood as matron of honor to my best friend, Amy, as she was married, I looked back through my wedding photos.  I smiled as I reflected on the day and how startlingly handsome my groom was. I believe I even made the comment, "I want to have another wedding."  The groom would be the same, but I so enjoyed all the things that made our day special that I wanted to relive it again.

As I listened to the pastor during Amy's nuptials, I couldn't help but think about heaven.  I knew there would be rejoicing for their union, but I was more focused on my wedding day.  The day I would be dressed all in white and I would be walking towards the groom that is preparing a place for me.  The excitement of seeing your groom as you walk down the aisle to commit your life to him is inexplicable.  So how can I contain the even more overwhelming feeling of being the bride that has Jesus as her groom.

I committed my life to him a few days shy of 21 years ago and while every moment has not been filled with anticipation of seeing him face to face, it has been the most worthwhile relationship I have ever had.  Just as in earthly marriage, our relationship with Jesus has to be nurtured, there must be constant communication and sacrifice.  Sometimes you have to go against your own wishes in order to submit to what is best for the relationship.

I think that is what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5.  Marriage is not only love and respect, submitting and leading,  just as your relationship with Christ is not limited to those things.  When I am pleased with my husband, I let him know and I brag about him to others.  When I have been blessed by Jesus, I let him know and I brag about Him to others.  Communication is crucial for my relationship with my husband as well as with Christ.  When I have wronged my husband I ask forgiveness just as I do when I have sinned against God.  When the comparison is made between the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship with Christ and the Church, it encompasses a whole lot more than hierarchy and roles.  What I need from my husband is also what I get from Christ.  What my husband needs from me, I must also give to Christ.

"And we will fly away in the twinkling of an eye
Leaving all our heartaches and telling them all goodbye
Yes we will fly away when He hears His Father say,
'Jesus go and get your bride, today's your wedding day'"

I'm ready!





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gaining Wisdom is Seldom Easy

At 19 years old I was diagnosed with having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  My doctor told me it would be almost impossible for me to get pregnant.  Pregnancy was the last thing on my mind at 19.  I was in my first year of college and excited for my future.  I remember being disappointed at the news, but not really understanding the impact of it.
Fast forward 5 years and I started my Korean adventure.  There are side-effects of my condition that remind me that it is still present in my life, but nothing that would hinder me from living life to the fullest.  Then on June 22, 2012 I met my husband.
I remember telling him after we had gotten serious and were discussing our future together about my PCOS.  His response didn't surprise me and in fact it gave me a sense of hope.  He told me that God will give us what we ask of Him.  I smiled and was relieved that he didn't seem concerned about it, although I have to admit there was doubt.  I have heard my husband say this many times before and I have challenged him on the theology of it as well.  But what he means is simple.  He takes God at His word.  His faith is unwavering and he trusts God to provide for our every need.  He doesn't have trouble presenting his requests to God by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving.  He is obedient to scripture and trusts God's promises.
We were married at the Nigerian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea on March 27, 2013. During our premarital/marital counseling the wife of the couple we were doing our counseling with asked me if I had any female problems.  I revealed to her the diagnosis I had received a decade before and she suggested that they lay their hands on me and pray for me.  When she and my new husband finished praying for me she said to me that I was healed.  I was excited and trusted in the power of prayer and the promises of my God.  I made the decision to not doubt, but to choose to trust God over the doctors.  To put my future in the hands of the great physician.
We celebrated our wedding on November 17, 2013 and I knew that I wanted to immediately try to have a baby. In February I began charting and tracking and detailing the condition of my body.  In January I learned that my youngest sister was pregnant with her second. I thought how fun it would be to be pregnant with my sister.  Then a few weeks later my other younger sister announced she is pregnant with her fourth.  I could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of being pregnant at the same time as both of my sisters.  I daydreamed all about it. Then the time came to take the first pregnancy test.  It was negative.
I knew that it was unlikely that I would get pregnant the first month we started trying, but then the tests were negative in March and April and May.  And then I learned of two other friends that are pregnant.
I started reading blogs and doing research and planning that when the health insurance kicks in I'll go to the doctor.  Then unaware friends ask when we are going to start trying.  And because I know their hearts and intentions I resist the urge to scream, cry, or hash out every detail to them so I reply, when God is ready, I am ready.
My tears became daily and my hope became small.  My husband would remind me that God's timing is perfect.  And there would be moments that God would show me that I need to be thankful for this time in my life.  But the sadness lingers and the uncertainty of the outcome is no small thought.
Despite the pain, I want to learn something through all of this.  I know I am only at the beginning of this process.  I anticipate many more months of negatives and more hardships resulting from my disappointment.  However, I refuse to walk this journey without gaining wisdom.
I am choosing to see every negative test as a blessing.  A negative test means more time with my husband, it means more opportunities to sleep in.  Seeing one line instead of two means I can be free to serve God in ways a mother just can't.  The absence of a pink plus means I can give more of my time, energy, and finances to God.  What a blessing.
So now I have to respond to the call.  I have to dry my tears and take a deep breath.  I have to run to Him the moment the doubt returns.  Because this I know is true, God is better than a baby.  So I will rejoice even if He chooses not to give one to us.  And while I am surrounded by pregnant women, I will choose to serve them, not envy them.  I will wait my turn, and trust my God because hope does not disappoint.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Letter to the Man on the Street

Dear Man on the Street,

Today you asked me for a penny, I didn't have one.  I was surprised you asked for only a penny, not a dollar not even a dime.  It made me sad.  I was on my way to lunch.   I wanted to invite you to have lunch with us, but I didn't.  I watched as people passed by.  Some people pretended you weren't there, some moved to the far side of the street.  They all looked uncomfortable.  I thought about what people might say if I invited you in to have lunch.  I thought about sticking up for you.  I thought about what led you to this place.  I watched as you danced on the street to the beat of nearby street musicians.  I thought about where you stayed when it was so cold a few days ago.  Then I cried.  But not for you, for me.  For all of the missed opportunities. I thought about Jesus.  He would have invited you to lunch.  He would have listened to your story.  He wouldn't have pitied you.  He would have loved you.  I'm still learning but I left you different.  You made an impact on me and next time you ask, I'll have a penny for you.  I'll invite you to lunch.  I'll listen to your story.  I'll love you.


~ kristin

Monday, March 26, 2012

His love is Furious

Wow!  So much has happened since my last post.  My bad...  Yeah, that's code for, this is gonna be long.  But there are pictures at the bottom!!


Enjoy.


As a quick recap, December was pretty good.  I became a deacon at church which is cool!  Christmas was spent with friends at church but I was pretty homesick this year while skyping with my family, but all in all it was a good month.   January was pretty mild and then got super cold towards the end of the month.  I spent lunar new year just hanging out with friends all around the city. 


     I bought a ticket home through a Korean travel agent that I had used once before.  My youngest sister got married on February 18th and my plan was to tell my family I'd be home on February 14th, but I'd really be home on the 10th!  I'm not a good secret keeper so the fact that I had made it up to three days before I was scheduled to leave and hadn't told anyone besides my ride from the airport that I was coming home early was impressive.  However, three days before I left I got an email from the travel agent telling me that they were very sorry that they were going out of business and had not booked the flight that I had paid $1400 for a month ago.  They said they would refund the money eventually, but that there was nothing they could do now.  I was crushed.  I sobbed and had no idea what I'd do, or how I'd come up with another $1400.  After writing a desperate reply email to no avail, I broke silence and spilled my secret to my family and told them the whole situation and humbly asked for help with the cost of a new ticket.  This was particularly difficult for me because I knew that they were paying for a wedding, and those things aren't cheap.  But because my parents have learned the proper perspective of things, they encouraged me that it's just money and that it would work out.  Not to mention the news of me coming home early overshadowed the circumstance I was currently in.  Being home was incredible.  I was able to reunite with so many people and also joyfully celebrate my sister and her husband.  Shortly after I arrived in the States I learned that this travel agency was actually a scam and that they had previously scammed many foreigners out of thousands of dollars if not more and that yes, I could legally fight it, but it would be on principle alone, and I would most likely never see that money again. But as if God wasn't good enough He graciously led a beautiful couple to send me a check for the amount of the second ticket.  I think in previous years this would have surprised me, but it doesn't.  This is an example of the Body of Christ.  This is it functioning in the way He designed it to.  This is an overflow of His love.  So while it doesn't surprise me, I am extremely thankful and blessed by this act of obedience.  


     Also in February the prayer ministry that I've been leading became an official ministry of my church.  We are currently called, "Incurable Fanatics"  this name came from a quote from an abolitionist during the African-Slave Trade in the 1700 and 1800s.  His name is William Wilberforce and he said, "If to be feeling alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large." This inspired me.  God's hand is all over this ministry.  He is providing leaders, divine appointments, effective prayer, and awareness, and the movement is growing.  I'm so excited to be a part of this work.  It keeps me busy for sure but oh how sweet it is to be busy doing the Lord's work.  

    March has gone by in a blink.  I've just returned from a church retreat that can only be described as a fierce out pouring of the Holy Spirit.  As I reflected on these past few days and all that God did in me alone I realized that I can't possibly name all of the things that He did to transform me.  But what I do know is that  it is a beautiful and humbling thing to be called Christ's Ambassador and that this position should be taken on through the power that only He can give.  Guys, I was shown what freedom means.  Chains were broken and I feel even more equipped to lead the ministry I've been called to, because I have a clearer picture of what it means to be freed from slavery. God's perfect love has driven out fear.  He's shown me the furious love He has for me.  He's opened my eyes to see that I am a new creation.  It has been true of me all this time, but it's like another veil has been lifted and I see more clearly.  I've surrendered control and not only confessed, but repented and changed.  And while the Lord was working on the transformation aspect the enemy began to creep in, but because I was in such deep communion with the Father, I saw it.  It was the lie that this was a mountain top experience, it was the deception that I would quickly return to the bondage to sin that I had been freed from.  But God wasted no time in speaking to my spirit that this was not so.  He not only spoke to my heart, but he showed me in His Word which is truth that I am a new creation and that the old has gone.  And He confirmed through my brothers and sisters that this is real and lasting. And the joy and peace that comes from it is overwhelming.   I was flooded with love.  I was able to verbally admit to things I had buried so deep and through that I can proclaim with great conviction that my God is so jealous for me, He craves intimacy with me.  He not only loves me for who I am, but He enjoys me.  It's a strange thing to go from knowing this truth to believing this truth.  I get what David meant when he said that he would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.  My soul years, and faints for the courts of the Lord.  Better is just one day in His courts than a thousand days anywhere else.  Think about that.  I would rather spend one day in the presence of the Living God than a thousand days in Hawaii, or Africa, or Korea or with my family, or my best friend or the husband that I long for.  All of that combined still can't come close to one day with Jesus.  Oh how He loves us.

A song that was especially moving to me was one that I had not heard before.  It is called Furious and it is by Jeremy Riddle from Bethel Church in California.  Check it out...

Furious


Nothing can tear us from
The grip of His mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed, His vast affection
Heard whispers of, His heart and passion
It’s pouring down…


His love is deep, His love is wide
And it covers us
His love is fierce, His love is strong
It is furious
His love is sweet, His love is wild
And its waking hearts to life

The Father loves and sends His son
The Son lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now, His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out…


… and its waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life
He is waking hearts to life 
praising His name!

This is the focus of Jubilee for 2012





During small group time.





The leadership of the church being prayed for.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Voice for the Voiceless


I was approached about a month ago by a friend and fellow freedom fighter for sex slaves in Korea about organizing a "flash mob" event.  It wasn't really a flash mob as you would think of it.  It was more like just a mob. HA!  The goal was to raise awareness among the Korean and Foreign community to the truth of sex trafficking in Korea by getting a large group of people together and hit the streets picking up illegal prostitution ads.  I had many meetings and stayed up many nights planning for this event.  A few of my team members and I even scouted a few areas of the city to find the best district to collect cards in.  We didn't know how many people to expect, but I wasn't so concerned about numbers.  I knew this was something the Lord wanted to happen, and that He would do His thing so I tried to be faithful in doing mine.  The event was planned for Saturday, Dec. 10th.

I had three major events going on this weekend, two of them I was in charge of, so I was super busy and all over the place, but I enjoyed it!  I attended a Single's Conference that was at my church but hosted by a number of English Ministry churches in Seoul.  The conference was Friday night, Saturday morning and then Saturday evening.  Saturday afternoon I had a 2 hour sound check for the Christmas program I was asked to plan at church and then Saturday night we were card collecting.

Saturday night we met around 10:30 and we had 50 people!!! (Only about 37 had confirmed they were coming) My team and I were so excited!!  We had two journalists that work for local newspapers, and three videographers that were there to document and film for us so that we can make a video to raise awareness and educate people on the facts.  So I made a few announcements and passed out bags and gloves.  We got everyone these worker gloves to wear because picking up trash off the ground gets gross.  The palms were red and we made sure to show them on camera a lot :-)  We first started in a popular area of the city, lots of people, but not a lot of cards to pick up.  Then we took the subway two stops away and when we got there the moon eclipsed.  I remembered my students told me about it earlier in the day but I had forgotten, it was cool.  I was so full of energy and excitement when we walked down the smaller street into the back road where we'd had a run-in with the pimp weeks before. I'd collected in this area at least twice before and what took 4 of us about 2 hours to pick up, 50 of us did in like 20 min.  It was great!  Many people overheard residents of that neighborhood say, "I'm Korean, I should be picking these up."  We were able to get interviews with a few Korean teen guys, but I haven't heard how that went yet.  We also overheard one of the pimps saying to the others that they should stay inside and not mess with us tonight which was pretty awesome!  Everyone that went was pretty surprised at the volume of cards that were everywhere.  After we did two sweeps of the street we consolidated all the cards probably 5 or 6 bags and went to the police station.  We were there for a long time going around in circles with them and not really getting anywhere.  We went to the headquarters for all of Seoul, and they told us we needed to go through the proper chain of command, but we told them we already had multiple times.  Then we asked them what more we could do, or who else we could contact, but they weren't interested in helping us.  The whole conversation was in Korean, obviously, and I am meeting with my team on Friday to debrief. 

Overall the whole event went really, really well. Everything I wanted to be accomplished was, and 50 was the perfect number.  Too many and it would have been unmanageable and too few wouldn't have had the same impact.  The community noticed us, the pimps for sure noticed us, and we were able to raise awareness among foreigners that will then go spread the word for our next event.  I was almost giddy with excitement at what the Lord did.  Isn't it true that when we are serving the Lord, we receive a blessing?  I love it!!

Oh!!!  And at the police station, one of the women on my team mentioned to the police officer about Sweden and their zero tolerance policy for prostitution and sex slavery, and she suggested they look into.

One prayer request I have is that through the holidays we can still press on with our prayer meetings, they've kind of taken a back seat to the planning of this event and the Christmas event.  There have also been a lot of birthday dinners and goodbye parties that have happened during the time we would normally meet to pray.  And while anyone who knows me knows how social I am, I'm wanting to end that trend, and start meeting regularly again.

Thank you for all your support.  It is making a huge difference and gives me strength to continue on.  
Isaiah 61:1-3

Much love,
~Kristin

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Are you serious?!?"

     I've been short on money this month.  I'm working hard still trying to set up my new apartment and pay off my debts back in the States.  One thing last year that I would sometimes allow to slip was my tithing, but I was determined to not let that be the case this time around.  So even though it would make a huge dent in what I could spend on social activities and other wants, I willingly gave back what I knew already belonged to God.  For the next couple weeks I watched every dollar spent.  I had already planned to attend a servant's retreat for all those at our church that serve in ministry.  When it was originally announced the cost was 90,000 won for singles which is close to $90.  Knowing it would be worth it I went ahead and signed up.  Then the church worked out some kind of discount for everyone so we only ended up paying 80,000 won.  I paid the money at an ATM by transferring it into our church's account.  Turns out I transferred it into the general account instead of the retreat account.  The church's administrative assistant, Nanah, notified me and she got it all sorted out.  Because of work I was only able to go to the retreat Friday night instead of Friday afternoon.  Unknowingly this made the price even cheaper!!  On Sunday Nanah found me and gave me back 10,000 won ($10).  I was thrilled.
     Then today, Monday, I went home to clean a bit on my break.  As I was throwing some laundry into the washer I noticed something blueish/green stuck in this tiny cavity in the washer.  I pulled it out and it was 12,000 won ($12)!  I stood up with a stupid grin on my face and literally laughed out loud and said, "Are you serious?!?  Man God, you're cool."  Then I laughed at myself some more for saying all of this out loud.  That's two days in a row that He's provided for me in a totally unexpected manner.  Recently the Lord has been showing me that I've had my priorities a little backwards.  He's revealing that I have been loving others, then loving Him.  He has been teaching me this through relationships, conversations, internal dialogue and of course His Word.  Well, today something clicked.  After this physical manifestation of His love, all I wanted to do was spend time with Him.  Here it is, Halloween Day in the world around me, but it feels more like Valentine's Day.  While I was talking with Him, He said to me, "see how I love you?"  Then again later on He said, "I love doing things like this for you."  It was such a special time for me and the one who loves me most.  Yes, it is only $22.00 that we are really looking at here, but it is not at all about the amount.  It is about Him showing His deep love for me.  I remember losing those $12 I found in the washer.  I remember checking my pockets for it and just assuming that I had carelessly spent it.  He didn't have to open my eyes at the time when He knew I needed it.  I've done many loads of laundry since I lost the money and had never noticed it before.  I think there are multiple lessons to be learned here.  Obedience to tithing cheerfully knowing it is a sacrifice returns a blessing.  God keeps His promises to take care of us.  He gives us abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.  And the one that I'm learning most of all, He loves me and wants me to love Him more than any other.  He is jealous of my time, attention, affection.  When it was time for me to return to work after my break.  I closed my prayer saying this, "I love you.  I will continue to try and grasp your love for me.  I wish I could love you as much as you love me."   I look forward to more, "Man God, you're cool" moments in the future.


It is a front loading washer, you see where it got stuck?


Ridiculous, that I even saw it. LOL!