No Other


SAMSUNGMy eldest daughter Whitney and I are currently in Taiwan visiting some friends of ours who are here doing missions work. This is our very first time leaving the United States and so far it has been a totally awesome experience. It is really opening my eyes up to so much outside my own little world. It is truly amazing to experience and to learn about a different culture and to experience first hand how different people live in a different part of the world.

Taiwan is so very beautiful. It is similar to back home in California as in there are mountains and the ocean. But here, there are parts of the island that look almost like the jungle.  The climate is absolutely wonderful (if you don’t mind extreme humidity). I was told the summer heat is scorching hot and humid, but being a native of Chicago I have had a bit of experience with humidity.

Visiting here makes me feel as if we have literally jumped back into the pages of the bible. What I mean by that is the open worship of man-made idols here is everywhere. It seems as if there is one temple here for approximately every city block and the majority of people here have their own little shrines within their homes.

When I think about it, the thing is there is really is no difference between idol worship here in Taiwan and idol worship back in America. The only true difference is that the idols here are more visible and blatant while in America, not as visible but still as prevalent.  Woven throughout the bible, idol worship is a common theme in both old and new testaments.

The people here in Taiwan believe in many Gods and they even worship their dead ancestors and offer sacrifices to them. Yes, this may sound foreign and far-fetched but in reality we deal with the same issue of idol worship back in America. Their worship may be to a man-made statue of a God but the concept is still the same. A idol is basically anything else that we give our worship to other than the one true God which is Jesus Christ.

Idols come in many forms such as worship of cars, houses, money, sex, power, prestige, education, careers, people or even our own self-righteousness. An idol can be anything in our lives that we elevate above God. Most often times our idols can be pinpointed when we observe how we prioritize things and what we dedicate most of our time and attention to.

I often have to battle “idols” that crop up and want to take priority in my life above my relationship with God. A few of the big idols I have fought is the idol of loving my family more than I love God.  Another one has been elevating people above God, by needing their affirmation or approval. There and so many more “things” that always seem to be trying to compete with God for my affection in life. When I allow any of them to come before my relationship with God, they become an idol and are acting as a functional God in my life.

Often times we see idols as bad things and sometimes they are. They can come in the forms of addictions in which we are trying to fill our “God void” with something other than him. But other times they are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. They become bad when we make them the ultimate thing by giving them first place in our lives or we let them become the motivating factor behind our actions.

It says in Mark 12:30 that we are to. . . Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. That sure sounds like there is no wiggle room in that verse to give first place to anything or anyone besides God. And in Exodus 20:3 it says . . . You shall have no other God’s before me. God is a jealous God and he does not want to complete for our affection with anything or anyone.

I believe we start to gain victory in our fight against idols as we begin to recognize these idols that creep in and then confess and surrender them to God. It is only through the power of Christ that we can we be freed from these false Gods to serve the one true God.  Then we are  free to love him with our whole hearts and fulfill the second part of the great command to love others as ourselves. When we surrender the false, we give way to the one and only true God and this is how we begin to experience the fulfilling and abundant life that is found only in him, Jesus Christ.

Thank you father God for who you are, the only one and true God.  Thank you for your great love for us and that you paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  Help us to walk in that freedom by living a life that is pleasing to you.  Help us to recognize and eliminate the idols that try to steal, kill and destroy from the abundant life we have in you.  Thank you that you are an amazing God. Thank you for the victory we have in you. Yours is the kingdom, yours is the power, and to you be the Glory both now and forevermore. AMEN

Deuteronomy 5:6-7 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

Matthew 22: 37-39  Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 

John 10:10 The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 8:36 . . . If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.

Emptied


SAMSUNGIn three short days, my eldest daughter Whitney and I will be leaving for Taiwan.  We are going to visit and support some friends of ours doing missionary work there.  It seems like for weeks now, friends have been asking me if I’m ready and have my suitcase all packed.  My reply is, “Um no, not quite yet.”

It’s not that I’m not thrilled, don’t get me wrong I totally am.  I mean what an amazing opportunity. But I’ve also sensed over the past day or two an anxiousness within myself about the trip.  I mean, how does one prepare mentally and emotionally for leaving the country for two weeks? Especially that I am leaving the majority of my family behind while my daughter and I travel halfway around the country?

So this morning I set my suitcase on top of my bed and opened it up. Ah, the first step I thought.  There it sits, wide open with nothing in it yet, open and completely empty.

Immediately a picture came to my mind that this is what God wants from us.  Kind of like my suitcase lying there, open and empty.

To be open to all God has for us, we need to be emptied of self.

Yet that’s not always an easiest thing to do. We think it’s our life.  We think we make our own choices and come up with own plans.  But being open and yielded to God is something very different.  I am reminded as it says in Proverbs 19:21 . . . You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

We need to be emptied of self so that we can be filled with Christ. Being emptied of self relinquishes our need to control things. This happens as we daily choose to surrender to God.  We do this by living open-handed before him saying, “God all I have is yours and I surrender it to you. Help me to daily live in trusting obedience to all you have for me.”

He wants us coming to him with childlike faith, knowing that he will take care of us (and our loved ones) and to trust that he is working all things for our good.  I am reminded that we were created for a love relationship with God, to him and for his purposes.  His love is so very worth it all!

So as I prepare to leave for Taiwan, Father God I ask that you help me to unpack my heart of any doubt, worry, fear, or anything that is not of you, empty me.  Forgive me for feeling the need to have control of things. Help fill me with trusting obedience and come daily to you open-handed, so that I can take hold of all that you have for me.  Thank you for this amazing opportunity and for your continual love and goodness toward me! You are such a faithful God. To you be the Glory both now and forever! AMEN

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

My Test-imony


testimonySometimes I wonder why I do this blogging thing. Ut-o, I’m letting you in my brain again.  That’s how I sometimes feel when I’m writing and it’s not always comfortable or fun. And believe me, writing is NOT something I’m always passionately in love with. Writing can sometimes be difficult and taxing for me, but I believe it is something that God has asked me to do.

I actually grew up having difficulties learning to read.  To this day I still do not enjoy reading aloud, it brings back nightmares from when I was a kid.  Muttling my way through words and being ashamed in front of my peers and really not having any comprehension of what I just read because I was trying so hard just to get the words out.  And English, my o my that was beyond me. Beyond the basic noun, verb and adjective it was all just mumbo jumbo in my brain.

I always tell people when sharing this testimony that God has a great sense of humor.  I have friends that say they love to write and yet they feel they have nothing to write about. So what’s the deal here?  The deal is we serve an amazing God that want’s to use our weakness for his Glory. My writing reminds me that it’s not about me at all, but rather about Him.  It always reminds me that I need to get over myself to do what he calls me to do. And that when we surrender ourselves to Christ and realize that he is the one who made us as we are, we understand that he can use those very same things that pain us or are difficult for us, to bring Glory to himself.

Alot of my growth in God has been directly through reading and writing. Of course through reading of the word but also through others writings as well. This way God has helped me understand more of who he is and to understand that his ways are so opposite of the worlds.  He has helped me to know that he can be trusted and that following him is the only way. It is when we walk in obedience and not let our feelings or fears get in the way, that he will bless that obedience.

I don’t claim to be a great writer or to have all the answers but I trust in a God who does.  And I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I look back over my blog and I see the faithfulness of God walking me through this journey.  He has been there every step of the way, leading and guiding and for that I am so thankful.  My writing  becomes not so much about me but about walking others through the journey with me and sharing the things God is teaching me for the benefit of others as well. We all have so much we can learn from each other.

Throughout the bible we see time and time again God using peoples weakness so that they would have to have to walk in faith and trust him.  God is an amazing teacher and In Him and Through Him the test’s he gives can become part of our testimony for his glory.

Lord Jesus thank you that you use our weakness for your glory.  That when we are weak, you are strong.  Help us to always walk in obedience and do the things that you ask of us.  Give us your eyes so that we may see the work you are calling us to do. Help us to be obedient and to trust in your faithfulness.  To you be the glory both now and forever. AMEN