Encouragement

Something More

One man’s life changed the course of history for billions of people across the globe. He is both revered and reviled, famed and feared and you know who he is without a single mention of his name. His name is Jesus! Do you know Him?

Trust

577462_10200444369724239_1728339791_nBack on June 23, our good friend Sandra Kyung Lee entered into the presence of her Savior after a heroic battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. At her service at SeaCoast Grace Church, I shared that while we were trying to be attentive to Sandra’s needs, God did something within us that was truly remarkable…He used Sandra to bring us all closer to Jesus and to help us to experience the incarnation of “God with us”, through this wonderful thing called church.

One of the ways God worked through Sandra, was as this caring community that was serving the Lee family began to grow, the women of our church started a 90 Day reading plan and assigned various women to one another for prayer and reading accountability. The group designed the plan so that it would be accessible to Sandra, as her health began to fail her. So they decided that they would text or email one another. This worked for Sandra, as she was a rock star on the iPhone, relentlessly texting away with her left thumb.  From her home she could text, email and respond to the gals in the group as well as stay connected in community, especially as her life began shrinking around her. She, along with a few others, would also send out a Monday devotion. It became this great thing that ultimately over 100 women were committed to this organic challenge and to keeping each other accountable.

At the service, one of the gals from this group shared a devotional that Sandra wrote on Monday, October 15th, 2012. It gives a glimpse into the struggle of ALS, but it also offers hope and inspires me to have courageous faith as Sandra did. So today, I thought I would share it with you.

Trust

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:20, 21 NKJV

The past several weeks have been difficult. My left arm and hand is getting weaker. I’ve experienced with other body parts this feeling before it became useless. If I lose my left arm and hand, it’ll mean I won’t be able to feed myself, nor write on my iPhone to communicate. I’ve struggled with anger these few weeks. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Now I realize the anger was from just feeling utter helplessness and having no control over the matter. I do carry hope of miracle. But dealing with this day-to-day, the anger snuck in without even me realizing it.

I confess that I was worried over what’ll happen if I lost this arm as well. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body  (Matthew 6:20, 21, 25 NKJV).

God has demonstrated how faithful He is to us. His timing is impeccable. I have tons of stories in our lives as well as from others of how God has provided in the past. I must not forget and remember that God is trustworthy. When we forget how God parted the red seas in our lives, we may die without ever seeing the promise land.

I may be in the desert struggling to survive but if we ask God for manna, he will give us just what we need for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today, I will trust my Father who provides for me perfectly. Thank you Father!

– Sandra Kyung Lee

Just as Sandra completed her seventh LA Marathon on March 17th of this year to the cheers of those at the finish line, she also finished her race on this earth surrounded by those she loved and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus who I am certain said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Creating Margin

be_still_and_know_that_i_am_god1How often have you been asked the question, “Are you staying busy?” If you’re like me, I imagine you’ve been asked that question a lot, as if “staying busy” is the ultimate objective in life. However, this is the world we live in. A world that demands us to add more detail to our lives. We live for events we can post on Facebook and keep ourselves busy as a badge of honor and significance. And I admit, I fall prey to cultural demands just as much as anyone else. However, lately I have been asking myself, how much is enough, knowing that we can only handle so many details in life before we exceed our threshold and find ourselves on overload.

To understand overload we must first understand our own limits. Physical limits are measurable, we only have so many hours in the day. We are only one person and can’t be in more than one place at a time. So we need to understand our own limitations. Humans are not infinite. We have limits to our ability–and we must recognize them and be at peace with them. God created us to live within certain limits for our own well-being. Therefore, overloading occurs when the requirements upon us exceed that which we are able to bear, resulting in disorganization or frustration.

In the past, margin was a normal part of people’s lives. By default, rather than by choice, people lived slower, more deliberate lives. They had time to help a neighbor and attend social events. Yet even if we agree that margin is good, for many today it seems like a luxury. There is so much to do, so much to see, etc. And if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves exhausted and burned out. In fact, in our technological word, overload happens naturally, but creating margin takes work.

So today, I find myself thinking of ways to create a little more margin in my life. And if we find our emotional energy is gone, how do we get it back? Here are ten options that I have seen work:

1. Cultivate social supports – Some people fill us, others drain us. Therefore we need to intentionally develop relationships that nurture us, with people who understand us and care about us.

2. Get a pet – Pets are capable of bonding, loyal and often affectionate—just the kind of things that increase our emotional reserves.

3. Reconcile relationships – Broken relationships are huge emotional drains. Resolving the tension helps to fill our tanks.

4. Serve others – A University of Michigan study found that those who performed regular volunteer work showed dramatically increased life expectancy, as well as experienced more joy.

5. Rest – “Be still and know that I am God!” Have you tried this one recently? If not, try to set aside time regularly for quiet and rest, even if it’s just a few minutes per day.

6. Laugh – Laughter is good for the soul. Read Proverbs 17:22.

7. Cry – Allow yourself to release the grief, the pain or sorrow. Tears can release the tension and heal the soul.

8. Create appropriate boundaries –  We need to be able to say “no” at times, or other people’s demands will overwhelm us.

9. Give thanks – A lot of negative things go away in our life when we are thankful.

10. Worship – Make sure you’re taking regular time to be with Jesus and worship Him. It puts life into great perspective.

The list could go on! What have you found to be helpful in creating margin and refueling in your life?

Approaching God With Confidence

a-place2wrshpIt seems almost daily that I am hearing of great hurt in the lives of those around me. Families on the brink of divorce, battles with cancer, loss of loved ones…the list goes on and the occurrences seem to be on the increase. For those struggling, each prayer request is unique…seeking relief from the pain, anger at the loss, crying out for peace in the turmoil, understanding from the trouble, strength in the fear and uncertainty. Yet for those that know the Lord, despite the affliction, many are comforted by the One on the Throne. Although we all have our own stress and strain, perhaps not as deep as others, we are assured that our requests can be made to God and that we can seek refuge in the One who created and knows us. He knows both our strengths and weaknesses and yet he still invites us to come boldly to the throne.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Another translation says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

Isn’t that great news! That we can come boldly to the throne with confidence, remembering who we are approaching, the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the Omniscient God. He knows our needs and loves us so much that he offers us his mercy and grace.

I often can’t even begin to understand the suffering of those around me. Nor can I imagine enduring my own stress and strain without my Savior, but I am confident in the One on the Throne and I know that I can seek him with confidence in my time of need. I am comforted in the fact that I can boldly call upon him in prayer lifting up those who need additional comfort and support.  I can seek Him with sureness, knowing that he hears each request, sees each tear and feels each heartache. It is with this assurance that I know I will receive his mercy and grace. What a blessed assurance!

He Will Reign

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15, NIV

imagesI love this verse, from which Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus originates, because of the definitive message that God is in charge and a day is coming where we will be united with all the saints in a glorious celebration of eternal life. And I look forward to the day when we all live in the real life Hallelujah Chorus. Where pain, sorrow and death are no more.

In these verses, we read that God has won the battle over evil and when our struggles will be over. In the meantime we have our work before us. To know what that is, we have to stay connected through worship, prayer, Bible reading and in community.

For the day is coming and the time is short. God’s kingdom is at hand…now is not the time to stop and wait. Now is the time to press on and show our joy and rejoicing with all those we meet, so that all will hear of the name of Jesus.

An Enduring Faith

I just had to share this post, from my good friend Charles. He has given me permission to repost this inspiring story of faith, hope and love…

549869_10200807855348065_337195721_nOn March 17th 2013, my wife Sandra completed her 7th LA Marathon. This year she had the honor of being chosen by the ALS Organization Orange County Chapter to represent them. Sandra was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in October 2010. It’s fatal with no cure. Most people die within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

Just six weeks prior she was hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia, and her ALS condition had progressed to a point where she had to ultimately get a PEG feeding tube put into her stomach for her survival. She was down to 90 lbs and was extremely weak. Her body and neck severely atrophied. In complete faith and reliance on the Lord, we and countless others (friends, family, church, caregivers and many others) prayed for her to be able to physically withstand the race. God answered. She had a smile on the entire race and amazingly endured the whole event. Absolutely amazing.

Yesterday, God taught me and Sandra a little something about faith and hope. When we step off the “cliff of fear and doubt” in complete faith that the Lord will catch us…He does. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ Almighty. There is nothing He can’t do. Nothing. All glory to Him.

Sandra crossed the finish line yesterday in the supportive arms of the Lord. He was cradling her the whole time; it was clear as day. Thank you Lord Jesus for being in mine and Sandra’s lives.

To God be the glory!

Love Builds Up

tumblr_m98r37c2F01qdxd12o1_500We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, NIV

As Christians, we might be well qualified to give the right doctrinally correct response in any given circumstance, but as Paul tells us, our response needs to be done in love. Do we genuinely care about the person we are giving advice to? Or are we only interested in how wise and clever our advice sounds? Paul tells us knowledge alone puffs us up and makes us proud. If we genuinely want to help someone, we need to do it in love.

Rick Warren often quoted as saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways we show we care is by listening. Mostly people can work out for themselves what they should or shouldn’t do. What people really need is a sounding board so they can talk through the issues with someone who is prepared to listen objectively and then allow the person to come to their own conclusions.

The Amplified Bible puts it like this: “Yet mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up…, but love…edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to full stature]. If we respond with love, not information, we encourage others to grow into their full potential.”

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