Saturday, October 11, 2014

Evangelism VS Discipleship

On Friday night I went to a dinner party and met some pretty interesting people.  The thing about Jonas' OCCA program is that most of the people in the program are interested in Apologetics/Evangelism while most of the people in just the Wycliffe program are interested in becoming priest for the church of England or something to that degree.  On Friday I was sharing with people what my cousins' church in LA, Core Church LA has been doing and how "successful" they have been doing.  Core Church LA is about three years old and has close to 1000 members.  I shared that the Pastor there is very active in the community and encouraging the members of the church to invite friends to church. They are active in evangelism.  I have been impressed with this church because I know that their heart is in the right place and not on the number and yet my audience was not impressed.
They were skeptical and asked many questions.  What about follow up? What about ministry?  Why must we always focus on the numbers?

My answer to the last question is this; the numbers do matter because sometimes it shows the faithfulness of the church.  Yes, there are churches in the world that are great in numbers but they may not be biblical or faithful but in some cases it shows the faithfulness of the church.  Even when we look in scripture we see numbers flying around.  He added to their numbers daily, feeding the 5000, and he added thousands.  I am sure that in every church that was planted during Acts the leadership knew how many members they had.  They had to know for they lived in community with each other.

I don't want to just focus on the numbers but I was surprised by how unimpressed they were.  Why weren't they excited about the growth of this church? Could they not see that the church loved God and was growing and that was something to be celebrated?  It is if we as faithful bible believing Christians have become skeptical to churches that are huge and mega.  I myself am one of them.  I believe in simple church, I believe that the numbers don't matter but I don't want to forget to celebrate with those churches who are reaching the unreached and opening their doors to the lost.
The discussion quickly becomes about Evangelism VS Discipleship.
In many churches the two are separate and people either identify themselves as more of a evangelist or one who disciples.  And I had to stop and think, "Why?"  Why are they separate, did Jesus not live out both. Was he not proclaiming the gospel but also discipling.  Evangelism and discipleship go together and yet we find that in the church they do not.  In most churches one is stronger than the other or in most churches Evangelism is left to those outside the church, missionaries or mission organization.  My question is, "Why do church members have to find a mission organization to be sent out?"  Why isn't the church doing the sending?   Did mission organization come to be because of the lack of sending in the church?

When I was pastoring I better understand the answers to these questions.  There is a lot of discipling to do in a church.  And there is a lot of busy work.  Adding Evangelism and outreach to that quota almost seems impossible but it is necessary.  The biblical truth is that we are all called to evangelism and discipleship.  If we love God, then we should love the lost and the lost should be shared the good news so they can be discipled and go and share the good news as well.

We must stop separating these two callings and realize that they are the same calling.  I believe that some are better equipped and may have better gifting in one or the other but that does not mean that you don't participate in the other.  If you go to church and simply sit and listen to the sermon filling a seat than you are not participating in the work of the Kingdom of God.  Church is not just a place that you go to get some good advice or encouragement but it is a state of being as well.  A group of believers and a believer is someone that professes that God is Lord and saviour.  When you profess these things and call yourself a believer, you are not merely at church but your state of "being' is changed.  In Romans 10 it says,  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

We must share the good news.  Jesus called the believers to do this.  The disciples were not simply in his presence.  They believed he was and is the Son of God, messiah and redeemer and He called them to go and tell the world this good news of what they believe. 
We must go and teach.  Evangelize and disciple.   It isn't one vs the other but one in the other. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Manual Labor

Growing up, I didn't participate a lot in any manual labor.  I was more of an academic or at least my parents wanted me to be more academic.  I wasn't actually more academic.  I want to play and run but I had to sit and study.  I don't think it worked out well for all parties but in the end I do appreciate all that my parents have given and sacrificed for my siblings and me.

Getting back to the point.  Manual labor was something that I did every blue moon.  When the branches from the trees needed to cleared or when the dishwasher needed to be emptied but it wasn't a common occurrence.
Now as an adult there is something about manual labor that I find some refreshing.  Something about using the body that God created for me, us to do something.  It makes me feel alive.

While in Norway, I participated in manual labor a lot.  Jonas' family has a lot of land and his dad is always working so I asked him if he needed help.  I ended up nailing things into a wooden play house, painting, and moving firewood from one location to another.  It may not seem like much but it helped me get out of my comfort zone.

Since I grew up in the city I really didn't like anything rustic.  I hated the feeling of dirt or dust on my skin. I hate bugs and I don't like messing up my attire.
Well while I was hammering nails or painting the house, there were spiders running around and dirt everywhere.  When we were moving firewood there were so many bugs I think I screamed more than I have my entire life.  And these are small spiders, but big spiders.  Jonas and his father would laugh at me every time I ran away and screamed.  The bugs didn't seem to faze them.  They would pile wood in their arms and simply walk with the wood against the body.
I would take two pieces, two in each hand and carry it as far away from my body as possible.
It took a few hours for us to finish but at the end of it, I actually didn't care about the spiders anymore.  I didn't care about the dust and dirt.  It was just a part of the process and that part I had accepted.  The bugs were probably more scared than I was and the dirt from the wood was also something God created.

I felt alive.  I felt like my body was more than just a walking brain.  Moving this firewood meant that we would be warm all winter.  I really appreciate manual labor because it reminds me of grassroots living.  A way of life that doesn't mean going to amazon and buying logs of firewood but it means going and chopping the wood, bringing it home and burning it ourselves  We were created for so much more than just clicking and buying.

God is a worker.  Jesus was a carpenter.  He used his arms, hands and brain to create. We are his creation and he has given us arms, hands and brain to make this place a better place.  To create a world that loves Him for his creation and his gifts that he has given us.  We must use our hands and feet to create.  Let us labor in the vineyard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Losing my Identity - wait who am I?

"I'm just his wife."  I heard the words come out of my mouth before I could stop them. I was standing in the middle of the Wycliffe Hall bursar's office with four administrators surrounding me and those words came out of my mouth.

Kerstin, the office admin had asked me for my name.  She said she needed all students names and I thought to myself, I am not a student, I am a student's wife.
Everyone laughed and one of the gentlemen simply said, "Surely you are more than his wife."

Since moving to Norway, I've slowly been losing my sense of self.  Not to brag or anything but Jonas is pretty big deal where he lives.  He preaches in many churches, people come to visit him, he works at a medical facility and has travelled all over the world teaching the Word. Who am I in Norway?  Jonas' wife.  I find myself caught between being polite and nodding along to wishing that I could speak Norwegian.  (sometimes, other times its fun to have no idea whats going on)

Norway was this fantasy world for me.  My days were filled with cooking amazing food, cleaning, walking the dog, sleeping, lounging about and leisurely making trips into town.  I really enjoyed it for a while.  But on the other side of that, the people I talked to the most were Jonas' family.  I love Jonas' family but when you live with your husband's parents, there are only so many times you can talk about the weather.  I want to be clear.  Jonas' family is amazing. I love his parents and I really enjoy talking to them and spending time with them but I couldn't help but long for a friend outside of that circle.  Someone I could hang out with and grow in relationship with.
In Norway no one knew who I was.  It wasn't that people didn't care who I was, it was more that Jonas was in the spotlight.  He was the one preaching so naturally people wanted to get to know him.
So who was I, his wife.

Since leaving home for college, I made friend quickly and everyone started to know who I was.  Taiwanese- American violist, chef, tech geek, Christian extraordinaire.  I was crazy and weird as many called me.  I was Pattie Lee.

Then I moved to Portland and I was Monique's little sister but I quickly made friends again and everyone knew who I was.  In Portland I was Pattie Lee - Seminarian, Apple Specialist, Social Justice activist, Taiwanese- American Christian.  I was still crazy and weird.  I was me.

Then I moved to Taiwan.  That was extremely difficult and I prayed and prayed for someone to help me and guide me.  I met Kate Britles.  God appointed wonderful women of God that had the same heart I had and taught me so much about sharing the gospel in Taiwan.  I went to EM SLPC and met Christians around my age that identified with being Taiwanese and not Chinese.  These people understood my upbringing and what it meant to have Taiwanese parents.  These people laughed with me and taught me Chinese and Taiwanese.  They showed me that God loves Taiwan and the Taiwanese are God's people.  In Taiwan I was Pattie Lee - Missionary/Evangelist, English Teacher, worship leader, minister, lover of the lost, Christian. And still crazy and weird.

The past 28 years have been about me.  The Pattie show.  My identity could be summed up in five words.  Taiwanese-American, Christ follower, crazy, weird and tech-geek.

But now, its not about me.  Its about a unit.  Jonas and me.  But technically right now, its about Jonas.
Jonas will be studying at Wycliffe hall, Oxford University and so he is the focus of where we go.  People at the university know who he is.  They didn't even know my name.  People ask him how he is doing and if he needs help.  I simply cook our meals, smile and nod.
Somedays I just want to yell at the top of my lungs, "But I am important, I am accomplished, I am more than just a housewife."   Somedays I want people to ask me what I've done with my life and I want to hand them a complete resume to show them just how much God has done in my life.

In Oxford, I am Jonas' wife; polite, quiet and a good cook. That's it.  That doesn't sound like me.
It's been a struggle and yesterday as I was pondering these things I thought about Christ.  What about Jesus?  While in heaven, He was king.  He was God.  He had a kingdom of angels singing His praises.  And He left. He left to die for the world.  The world that God created and the world that rejected Him.  While He was on earth, He told people who He was in few words and demonstrated His divine nature but people didn't care.  They didn't believe Him.  They mocked Him, ridiculed Him, and plotted against Him. His own people didn't know who he was.  A king without a crown.  A king that rode a donkey and had a tax collector for a friend/disciple. A king without his throne.
His identity was lost.  But Jesus didn't throw a fit and demand recognition and praise.  He knew exactly who He was and where His kingdom was.  He knew why He was on earth and He climbed that mountain.  He was there to serve and heal the sick.  He was crucified for our sake.  He was there to restore.  In the end He was placed in His rightful place at the right hand of God.

Jesus' identity may have been lost on those around Him, but it was never lost on Him. So maybe in Oxford people won't really know who I am but I know who I am in Christ.
I'm Pattie Lee, Servant of God, Lover of Christ,  Taiwanese-American and still crazy and weird.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Traveling around London as a newly married couple

Jonas and I have been married for almost two months.  Our two month anniversary is October 2nd.  Perhaps it doesn't seem like a big deal but it is to us.  We spent the greater part of our relationship apart.  The longest we spent together in the same city was probably 6 months.  But we didn't always see each other everyday and we both had very busy lives.

Now that we have moved to Oxford, we spend every minute of every hour of every day together.  We don't argue as much as I thought we would but we do get a little annoyed by each other.  For example Jonas bites his nails which drives me crazy.  But I tend to clean and clean all the time.  We have been in Oxford for exactly one week and I've swept the floor five days out of the seven.  I've also picked things off the floor and wiped down all the counters after every single meal.  I've vacuumed twice and organised the refrigerator twice.  As you can see we both have our faults.
The thing we've come to realise is how different each of us communicates.  It really is like we are speaking two completely different languages.

For example yesterday in London I was feeling a little bummed because we didn't get a chance to try out a food cart called "Roast to go" in London.  They were open on Saturday but not on Sunday.  Jonas and I had plans on Saturday and he really wanted to go to the British Library and Museum fearing that we wouldn't have enough time on Sunday since we were heading back on Sunday.
After moping around for a few hours after church on Sunday I shared with Jonas why I just wasn't in the best mood.
He felt badly about it and said I could find a restaurant now and we would go eat anything I wanted.  It was a bit difficult because I didn't have access to internet but I tried my best to find a good place to eat.  In the end we chose a Lebanese restaurant and Jonas commented on the high price of the restaurant.  (I actually choose the one of the cheaper options in London)  But once he said that I got really upset.   He didn't understand.  For Jonas he felt that we were getting the food I wanted and there was no reason for me to be upset.
I explained to him that I was already upset that I didn't get to go to the restaurant I wanted but now the place I chose was too expensive.  We could have easily gone to the museum and library on Sunday and gone to the restaurant on Saturday but all he wanted to do was go to museum and library on Saturday even after I told him that the restaurant would only be open on Saturday.

He still didn't understand.  He said I was being unreasonable and to him, food is food, he doesn't care if its good and as long as we got to eat now what difference did that make.  We basically talked in circles because he couldn't understand where I was coming from and I felt like he wasn't even listening to me.

After our terrible lunch experience (the food was good, our conversation was not) we got on the bus back to Oxford and I was left wondering, "What a complete waste of conversation."  Of course I wanted Jonas to see what the big deal was but what was there to complain about.  We were in London and having a great time.  There are many people suffering without food and all I wanted was to have my pick of the best food.  To Jonas he wanted the best books and a tour of the best museum in the world and there are people in the world who would give anything to read a book or be given an opportunity to learn how to read.

I can't help but be reminded of what Jesus talks about when he shares about the least of these. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25:31-46  Matthes 25:31-46.
I want to remember how Christ has called us to live.  This scripture is not simply about treating the least of these well but also putting our desires down to remember the least of these.  It is a two way street.  Self forgetfulness and inviting those who have less into our lives to act as a reminder to be thankful for all we have.

It was a great trip.  Here is a video if you wish to take a glimpse into our weekend.
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10101409864187967&set=vb.30608405&type=2&theater

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is this real life?

Here is a quick rundown of the crazy-ness that has been my life for the best few months.

July 14- was my last day in Taiwan as a missionary/pastor though I will continue to be a missionary wherever I go.

August 2- I married the most wonderful God-fearing, smart Norwegian man I have ever met.

August 11- I went to the states to see my new baby nephew Gabriel and miss him so much.

September 21 - Jonas and I moved to Oxford, England UK.  Jonas will be studying at Wycliffe Hall Oxford University.

Today I wrote in my blog. The best month I have had an amazing time cooking and being a domestic goddess in Norway.  It was a great time to relax and take it easy.  Thankful for that time but excited to see what God will do next!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Couch Potato Social Justice

I remember when "Kony 2012" came out.  My Facebook "feed" was blowing up with messages and postings of "Kony 2012."  Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon.  I had friends buying wrist bracelets.
For those that don't know or don't remember "Kony 2012" was a video created and marketed by the organization Invisible Children. Taken from their website verbatim this is what Invisible Children is all about.

From: invisiblechildren.com (Free feel to visit the website and learn more about the work they are doing)

STORY

Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have been abducting, killing, and displacing civilians in East and central Africa since 1987. We first encountered these atrocities in northern Uganda in 2003 when we met a boy named Jacob who feared for his life and a woman named Jolly who had a vision for a better future. Together, we promised Jacob that we would do whatever we could to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. Invisible Children was founded in 2004 to fulfill that promise.

MODEL

Invisible Children focuses exclusively on the LRA conflict through an integrated four-part model that addresses the problem in its entirety: immediate needs and long-term effects.
 I heard about Invisible Children probably around 2006.  I believe they are doing great work.  I support their work.When Kony 2012 came out everyone I knew was talking about it.  It was all over the news and people were pumped about this new campaign.  I was happy that people were pumped by it but disappointed by what I saw. 
Couch Potato Social Justice or as my Professor calls its, "trickle down social justice." 
Its a way for people to think they are making a difference by clicking a button and buying a wrist bracelet.  It is a way for young adults such as myself to feel important and necessary in the fight against social injustice by watching a five-minute video and check their "good deed" off for the year.  
I remember what I said to my fiance when Kony 2012 went viral.  I said to him, "In six months, no one will remember, no one will be talking about this and they won't catch Joseph Kony because this isn't the way to do it." 
Now I don't know how to catch Joseph Kony but I know its not going to be through a video asking people to help join the cause by sharing this video on their choice of social media. 
Its 2014.  Have you caught him?  Are people still talking about Kony 2012?  No. Unfortunately no. But from this video maybe a few people joined in the actual effort, left their jobs and starting working for invisible children.  From this video more children were rescued and maybe awareness was heighten for a brief second.  
My problem with couch potato social justice is that it allows people to dabble in the fight against social injustice while continuing to indulge their lives in the very things that cause social injustice.  We say we want to fight for better wages and yet you continue to eat/shop/spend in places where people aren't getting a fair wage.  You say you want to help the poor and needy but you walk past the homeless man and you don't even dare to invite this man for a bite to eat to get to know him, hear his story and find out the best way to help him. You say you want to stop human trafficking yet you eat chocolate that was harvested by victims of human trafficking on the ivory coast. 
What is your couch potato social justice doing other than making you look like a "good person." In the end its about you.  Whats socially just about that?
I am far from the shining example of someone walking the path of social justice but I know this much....
The answer to social injustice: Love Jesus, love yourself, love your neighbor.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I love my life!

I LOVE MY LIFE.  I hope you don't think that I'm rubbing it in your face but lately I have been filled with so much joy in my life that I can barely stand it.  Now you have to understand a few things about me.  Some that you won't like and some where you might feel sorry for me.

I grew up in Bakersfield, CA and my mom stayed at home to take of the kids while my dad worked.  My dad is a doctor.  Yes he made lots of money and yes we never really worried so much about money.  Although I will argue that my dad worried about money often and constantly taught us to save our money.  One of his favorite phrases, "A penny is money too."   My parents never showed off their wealth and to be honest, up until I left for college I thought that we always had money problems.  The way my parents argued and the way they constantly told us we didn't have money, we couldn't afford that new toy and don't waste anything.
I actually remember this one time when I was probably six or seven years old and my dad sat us all down to talk about our monthly allowance.  He went through math equations, graphs, and statistics to show us how much tax we had to pay on our monthly allowance.  My sister and I ended up getting about $2.50 a month after taxes.  I remember staring at my dad, extremely confused and afraid of math.

I always went to church and my parents were pretty good about getting us to youth groups and bible studies.  While we didn't have much of a life outside of constant studying, tutors, and music classes we did have a church life.
My parents believed in discipline.  But the kind where you take a stick and beat the kid for bringing home a report card with a B on it.   So to say the least, I was always afraid of my parents.  We were always hit at home and even my older siblings would compare punishment with my twin and me.   Apparently they got the worse type of spanking/beating/hitting/whipping whatever you want to call it but I never believed them because how much worse could it be?  I'm not angry at my parents for this.  As a child I was sad and had an unhealthy comprehension of love but now that I am older I know that my parents only did what their parents did.  How many people are ready to be parents when the time comes?  No one can know for sure the best way to raise a kid and I can't fault my parents for their mistakes.  

With that being said I always believed in God.  God was safe and loving.  He was never angry at me for my bad grades and loved me even was I did something bad, as long as I confessed it to him.    God was very real to me and his love was very real to me.  But I still didn't understand love.  I know God's love.  But human love was corrupt in a way.  When I arrived at college, love was even more corrupt.  I did things I am not proud of...things have happened to me that should never happen to anyone.  And I made decisions that I have to live with for the rest of my life.  I would never ever wish them on anyone.  I chose the crappy way, the bad way, the coward's way out.  These things ruined my life for a good part of four years.  I went to counseling to work it out and I became closer to people who helped me through it by displaying God's love.  It was a terrible dark hole so believe me when I say I know what its like to be on the other side.  Joy didn't exist.  Love was corrupted.  And my values, ideals, and morals were even more tainted. I think my biggest down fall and stumbling block was my incorrect view of love.  I completely destroyed the true definition of love and replaced it with something superficial and terrible.

The reason why I can say I love my life now is because the "love" that caused so many problems for me in the past (because it wasn't biblical love), now only creates joy and life (because its biblical).  Since I started living in Taiwan and serving God I understand more and more what Jesus was talking about when he asked Peter if he loved Jesus.   I understand more what John 3:16 is about.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.   It hasn't always been easy but walking around, sharing the gospel, and loving God's people brings me so much joy.   I don't even get paid to do it and it brings me more joy than any job I've ever had.  And I have had some amazing jobs.  Working for International Justice Mission is pretty high on the list.   Knowing that I get to wake up every morning to pray and sing songs of worship to God as I prepare to do His work brings a smile to my face.  There isn't a day that's gone by where I don't think to myself, "Man, I love my life."  I also don't want you to think that all I do is walk around and talk to people.  I do teach to make an income. I am a tent maker if you will.  My first job is to spread the gospel, to be in mission but a girls gotta eat.

It's the best life ever, when we walk the path that God has prepared for us.  Nothing but love. God's love.