Saturday, November 22, 2014

Feeling Hungry...

Yesterday night Jonas said to me, "I'm starving!"  Honestly I was too but then I had to stop and think about what we were really saying.  The actual definition of this word means to suffer severely or die from hunger.
Yes we were really hungry, we hadn't eat in 24 hours and had just finished our first fast together as a couple.  There were a few reasons why we were fasting but thats not the point of this post.
Was I really starving?  No, not even close, I hadn't had a meal for a day and I was already feeling faint.  That's sad.  I couldn't' help but think about all the people in the world who haven't even seen food in days and what their state of mind must be like.  Throughout this process I kept thinking about something one of my new friends here said.  She is this wonderful woman who loves the Lord and truly lives out Christ.  I look up to her and I'm so thankful that she is in my life.
Anyway on Thursday we both attend a bible group for spouses at Wycliffe hall and as a group we are going through Deuteronomy.   The passage that we were focused on chapter 8 and specifically this verse,  "And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."

There is so much I could say about this simple verse but the one I want to focus on is that, "man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
There are many different interpretations that have come from this passage, some of these include; We as Christians need to live by God's word, we need our spiritual food."  To actually lives more than just eating food.  God humbles us and reminds us of his providence in our lives.
But yesterday my friend said, "Sometimes I think that we fill our lives with food when we are hungry because it's what we think we need but our deepest hunger is from our soul."
In other words, when we are hungry maybe it isn't that we are physically hungry but spiritually hungry.  How many of us fill our lives with food, love food and think about food most of the day?

I asked myself this questions and through fasting yesterday and going through the motions on Thursday I came to the conclusion that food is a huge part of my life.  I don't even really think about my spiritual hunger, But maybe my spiritual hunger is actually calling out to me instead of my physical hunger.  Don't get me wrong I spend time in prayer, worship and reading the word on a daily basis but maybe when I'm hungry its not my stomach calling out to me.  This verse is saying that we must live by God's word and that is our deepest hunger.  When I read though this and see that God gave them manna which they did not know maybe its this type of food that fills us so much that we don't feel physically hungry.
Yesterday during the fast I found myself with so much time on my hands.  I mean I love food and cooking and I think so much about what I'm going to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner that yesterday I had so much time on my hands that I didn't know what to do with it. It's not like I've never fasted before but before when I would fast I had a whole day of work and errands that preoccupied my mind, hands, and stomach.   This was the first time that I just had a day of rest.
Perhaps you don't agree and maybe you already know this and somehow I think I knew this too but it was different hearing it from someone else.

In Taiwan and in the East specially more than the west I believe, food is a huge part of the culture.  People love to eat and spend so much time eating in the East.  I mean one of the most polite and caring things you can say to someone in Taiwan when you greet them is, "Have you eaten yet?"
In Taiwan I realized that we fill our lives with so much food that we are unable to hear our soul calling out to be fed by the one True God.

Everyone knows this verse and lives by it when they are fasting to hold on to God's word but what about when we aren't fasting.   It isn't always about fasting and remember God's provision and how he fills our life but about listening carefully to our deepest desire which is Christ.  We must really listen to our bodies and soul to really be fed the correct way rather than just reaching for the stick of celery again to see if that will satisfy our hunger.
Maybe its not my stomach that needs satisfying but my soul.
Some food for thought...literally.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Prison MInistry

Jonas has a clear calling in his life and that is to minister to prisoners.  He is thriving here in Oxford in ways I have never seen.  He loves it here and one of the things that he loves to do is going to the prison for prison ministry.  I have joined him twice and I really enjoy it.  The guys there are incredible guys.  They have changed their lives.  You should hear their stories.  The places they were before and the places they are now really puts into practice the idea of being born again.

I mean when I was "born again" I felt alive and struggling to shed my old skin but shouldn't it already be gone?  At the prison these guys really see the effects of their sin and want change in their life.  Some of the men there have questions and don't really know if Christ is the way but are willing to listen.  They have so many good questions and some that I have hard time hearing.

This one guy said, "I have a hard time believing all of this but I know there has to be truth out there. What is the truth? How do I get it?"
The truth is, we've talked to him and he's been in prison a few times now and still doesn't get it.  But you can see the desperation in his heart.  He really wants to know God but I can see that he is scared and disappointed.  There is something so broken about him that I can see more the grace of God on all people bad and worse.
Jonas always says to me that people in prison get sin more than people in the outside world.  They sinned and got caught and they get it.  Sharing with them that everyone is a sinner is easy for them to understand but I think grace is hard for them to accept.  Their lives are really being changed by the gospel and its such a beautiful thing to see.
I don't ever want to forget the grace that God continues to give me in my broken life.
I am not skilled to understand what God has willed what God has planned.  But I know that Jesus died for me and only through him can I be redeemed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Generational Sin

In Deut 5, Moses tells the Israelites that the covenant is with them (the current generation) and not with their ancestors when it was made with all of Israel.

I was thinking through this and wondering why he said that and I realised it because he wants to draw some distinctions from the past sin and the future.
The old generation sinned a great deal, they sinned so much that Moses was forbidden to go into the promise land because God was mad at Moses for their sin.  And the old generation wasn't allowed in with the exception of one family but all the children were allowed in.

Moses is emphasising that the younger generation doesn't have to be like the older generation.  They can start something new and be obedient to God's law as long as they remember all that God has done for them.
And then I started thinking of generational sin in my family.  My dad's family is not Christian but my mom's side has been Christian for about 4 generation in Taiwan.
In my own family I can see how my parent's sin has affected me and how that has been passed down to me in a way.
For example my parents use to be manipulative.  They played good cop bad cop, they gave us gifts and money expecting a lot in return and now even when they give me a gift I bend over backward to show them my appreciation.
But the main point is their manipulation.  I realised that I am manipulative as well now.  I'm very good at getting people to do things that I want them to do and I learned that from my parents.  I can see how their influence in my life has caused me to do the same and I want to break away from that.  But the other thing I realised is how much I lie.  Growing up we got in trouble for lying and for telling the truth but most times telling a lie was safer than telling the truth.  Even though the truth is suppose to set you free and my dad often said that telling the truth is better, somehow we were punished more for telling the truth then telling a lie so I instinctually started just lying. All my siblings are the same and I can see that I do this with my husband now too.

I've talked to him about it and shared with him my struggles and we pray about this but it's strange to think that even though my parents raised us to think differently and to always tell the truth, somehow their actions to telling the truth pushed me to become a impulsive liar.  It's been a hard cycle to break but I know that God has called me to be honest and truthful in all things.
I don't know what the sins of my past to affect my relationships, family and life now.  I am thankful that Christ has set us free from that and to walk into the newness of life.  Praise God for that.
What sins do you struggle with because of your family?

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