Tag Archives: Ice Cream

Weekly Favorite Links (July 16-August 5, 2015)

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What makes you happy?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, both directly by others and one that I have been mulling over on my quiet drives to and from work. I guess part of it is because I had to take a workshop session related to happiness for work purposes and it was a really interesting experience. The workshop began with pop songs playing in the background (which did make us feel pretty pumped up) and after that, everyone had to go around sharing what was one thing that made them happy. I honestly didn’t think much of the question at first, so the first thing that came to my mind was GOOD FOOD ’cause I was hungry and…. I love food a lot. Y’all should already know that though.

As the session progressed, I realized that what seemed like an initial harmless, superficial question really was one of life’s most significant question marks that every individual must answer for themselves. Because we all strive to be happy; we may all differ in how we believe and see where happiness comes from.

If there was one thing that was apparent from that meeting, it was the realization that the world believes you are in charge of your happiness and there are concrete steps and goals to achieve it. By the end of the workshop, there was probably about ten suggested strategies that were offered to all of us to achieve the happiness we were looking for. We were also asked to publicly share and offer examples of ways that we were trying to achieve such happiness. For example, someone would be asked to share to the rest of the group how they were kind to someone else or one thing they’ve learned recently in order to improve their weaknesses. I was called on to share a recent event that inspired me and empowered me. Others were asked to talk about what they loved about themselves and areas where they had to overcome certain challenges. We were also given a worksheet to complete and take home and before we left the meeting, we all had to write down two commitments we were going to work towards.

On the one hand, I appreciated the workshop. There were a lot of good points made and some great practical ways for me to work on my weaknesses and further areas that I can continue to grow in. The personal sharing from everyone was also pretty relatable and we were able to bond better as a team. Furthermore, I felt more motivated to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. And yes, making a commitment to something, striving towards goals, and successfully achieving them does bring about the feeling of happiness. But only to a certain degree. That feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration you get from checking off something from a bucket list– it’s all temporary. So while I enjoyed the workshop, on the other hand, I also left that meeting a bit dissatisfied and not fully convinced at everything that was addressed. I think I was taken aback because for the first time in a long while, I was told that Self can make happiness happen. As if the greatest purpose in this life is to be happy with myself and come to terms with how great of a person I am (as if I need more reasons to be prideful of who I am).

However, I know that in order to find true happiness and lasting joy, everything that was suggested at that workshop were only fragments of what I know to be true. I think the workshop only addressed and scratched the surface level of bigger issues. I felt like the people leading the session and even the group discussions were trying to persuade me that a band-aid would fix areas that might need open heart surgery. There comes a point where we can try to do everything in our power to get what we want and it will be in vain since we’re limited as human beings. The biggest hole in that team bonding activity was that contentment apart from Christ is impossible because only in Christ alone will we find our everlasting happiness. After all, God’s creations were never meant to replace him as our Creator.

Self cannot be elevated nor is the individual Self reliable enough to deliver. I think if anything, Self only ends up disappointing more than impressing because we’re all fallen sinners. Honestly, I don’t even know what will happen to me in the next minute, much less a lifetime, so how can I guarantee my own happiness? I can’t. Instead, I believe and trust that true happiness is found when I surrender my life to Jesus, when my sinful desires are cast away and when my mind is renewed to be more like his. In Christ alone, my soul will be satisfied. Continue reading

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Weekly Favorite Links (July 2-8, 2015)

MacArthur

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If there is one thing that always surprises and never ceases to leave me utterly speechless and in streams of tears, it is grace.

I have been the recipient of so much undeserved grace lately.

I am amazed at how loved I am by those around me. I suppose I’ve always had this internal struggle that I needed to earn that love and so throughout my life, I sought to please. But grace is something that I cannot earn, which makes it so much more precious when it’s given. God has placed people in my life that have seen me at my worst and ugliest moments. Instead of judging me and telling me that I’m a disappointment or that I should’ve known better than to fall into certain sins, their eyes have only grown more tender and compassionate when all is laid bare.

Most importantly, they have readily forgiven me when oftentimes I struggled to forgive myself. When I am feeling overwhelmed with shame and guilt, they have patiently pointed me to Scripture to help me train my thoughts to find comfort in what is true. Not only have they embraced me in spite of my failures, they have firmly reminded me of the grace that is found at the foot of the cross. By no means do they condone my mistakes. But they have demonstrated what it means to love in hard times and to bear one another’s burdens because we all fall short. Instead of allowing me to run away from my trials, these brothers and sisters of mine have cheered for me to press on and to finish well.

I am so thankful for these individuals.

But you know what’s even crazier? These dear friends of mine are testaments of God’s faithfulness and work in their lives. More than their love for me is the mysterious love that my Savior and Lord displayed on the cross. In order so that I could be freed from the bondage of sin, He who knew no sin became sin in my place and bore my weaknesses. In this life, I will never be able to understand why Christ would die for someone like me. I will never be worthy of God’s love, of His Son’s sacrificial death on my behalf. However, if it was not for the grace of God, if Christ did not bear my guilt and shame, I would still be in chains today.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 

Romans 8:1-11

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Weekly Favorite Links (June 5-10, 2015)

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Some friends and I recently went to The California Science Center to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. I mentioned in this post a couple months ago that I was excited to see it (and sadly, no, I did not watch Jerusalem 3D narrated by my favorite Cumberbatch). While I looked forward to behold the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, I also wondered what else would be on exhibit.

I think one of the most memorable artifacts that stood out to me, perhaps more than the manuscripts themselves, were the household fertility gods that I saw. They were small figurines, probably made out of clay and were no bigger than the size of my hand. These little man-made idols made a lasting impression because it’s relevant to what I’ve been reading in the Bible. For the past month, I’ve been studying the book of Hosea with some friends. We’ve been reading about how Israel has been unfaithful to God, and how they turned to other idols for help. Their hearts did not love God, and they engaged in practices that were in outright rebellion against him.

My favorite verse so far comes from Hosea 6:6: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” I believe that this is the central theme of the entire book. God desires his people to worship and love him only. Even when God charges Israel and Judah with a list of grievances, prophesies judgment against them, you still read about how God wants to redeem them from their adulterous ways. It was easy for me to laugh at how ridiculous those small clay idols were at the exhibit. How could the Israelites place their hope in fertility gods and follow other deities worshiped by neighboring nations when they’ve seen of the marvelous handiwork of God himself? How could they forget about how God rescued them from Egypt and how he brought the seemingly impossible walls of Jericho to come tumbling down? It seemed absolutely ludicrous.

But then I look at my own life. I may not have physical idols scattered in my home, but I have idols hidden in my heart that I worship apart from God. I worship things that are just as ridiculous and silly as those fertility gods that I saw. The only difference is that the idols we may worship today may be more ambiguous and subtle. We may not bow down and pray to those things, but those idols emerge in our conversations and are evident from how we spend our money to how we utilize our time.

I’m thankful that I left the exhibition with more than a glimpse of historical artifacts. While the Dead Sea Scrolls were cool and I’d go see them again, I went away humbled at the daily grace that I’ve been given and a reminder of just how undeserved I am of God’s patience and love when I’m constantly so disobedient. Amazing grace, indeed.

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Weekly Favorite Links (May 21-27, 2015)

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Starting from the beginning of this year, I have been in the midst of preparing for a big event for my church. The event itself would span three consecutive Sundays, probably not even constituting 24 hours in total, yet hundreds of helping hands and countless hours of email correspondences late into the night over the past several months have gone into preparation for it. Perhaps what makes this particular event “the biggest event of the year” is that it unites our entire church of all three language-speaking congregations in almost every age group.

At first, when people asked me whether I was stressed over planning and bearing such an enormous responsibility, I would respond that I wasn’t stressed about piecing all the pieces together. And I would say that my answer remains true, even with the last and biggest event being T-minus four days. Rather, my biggest concern at the time, which is still relevant now, is that my character would be right — that I would love God so much in order to love all the people that I would have the responsibility of managing.

I believe that loving others is the biggest burden for me, the one that carries the most weight. It ought to be for all Christians. Despite all the administrative duties that go into an event preparation, it is caring for my team members that holds a paramount significance. It is also the biggest blessing and gift from God that I have these opportunities in the first place to get to know people that I do not normally come into contact with because we have differences in our culture and age.

I could easily delegate assignments, coordinate meetings, follow up with all tasks assigned but what would be the point if I didn’t love the people? Those that are on my team aren’t simply chess pieces that I can maneuver into the right places so that we could get things done efficiently. Organization is important, but so are relationships. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. How could they follow my directions and my leadership if they didn’t get to know me, my heart, and if I didn’t demonstrate Christ-like love to them? Likewise, how could I possibly manage a team if I didn’t actively invest and listen to them, to know their strengths and talents? This is all to say that my authority is limited and when it comes to leading, I cannot rely on my own strength. The work that my team and I are doing is not for our own glory, but God’s. Even when we are planning logistics, love for one another must be present because it must come out of an overflow of our love for God.

I can’t say that I know everything that it takes to be a good leader. Even after gaining so much experience for this particular setting, I think I’m still at level one. But if there’s one ingredient that is essential and absolutely necessary for good leadership, it is love — love for God and a love for others.

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