Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Gospel Breaks The Chains

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." - Proverbs 25:25

     It's been a long and tiring day with work and other errands to get done, and I'm off to bed in a few minutes after having had a soothing shower. I'm still reading Tullian Tchividjian's "Jesus + Nothing = Everything", and am just coming to the half-way mark. I've been contemplating it's refreshing exploration of the Gospel through the day, and came back to a paragraph in the first chapter that is brings peace and reassurance as this day comes to and end. I wanted to share it here:

    "That June morning was when Jesus plus nothing equals everything - the gospel - became for me more than a theological passion, more than a cognitive catch-phrase. It became my functional lifeline. Rediscovering the gospel enabled me to see that:

    because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak;
    because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose;
    because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one;
    because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary;
    because Jesus suceeded for me, I was free to fail."

 - Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything

    I need to soak in these words as I hit the bed. I need them because in them I recognize my need for Jesus. His Gospel breaks the chains. This is good news, and a cup of cold water. Speaking of which, I'm going to drink some and go to bed. It's going to be an early day tomorrow. Good night!

Grace and peace to you.
- The Wisdom Seeker

Monday, January 2, 2012

Because He's Worth It: Jesus And Nothing Else

Jesus + Nothing = Everything, by Tullian Tchividjian
       I was given a book by my roommate Paulman as a Christmas present. It was not one that I had heard of before, thought I had once caught a glimpse of his personal copy lying next to his computer in the living room - a simple black cover, with the title in red  and white lettering. At the time, it didn't evoke more than just a casual and passing glimpse from me. Christmas came and went, and it was carefully placed among the other books in my little library, for later reading. But I am suddenly in haste to read it now, and finish it today if I can; it has become an important and urgent priority. It is written by a pastor named Tullian Tchividjian, and it's title is a simple statement, written in the form of a mathematical equation: 

    Why the urgency? Two events happened yesterday that brought this to the forefront.

    The first was a casual phone call from someone that I'm close to that began well, but ended leaving me feeling uncomfortable and agitated, even angry. I still feel that familiar, tight feeling in the chest when I'm upset as I write this several hours later, and I know why. I didn't like what I heard, because it touched a raw nerve - the sensitive and conflicted area of my ongoing struggle to carefully think through my experiences with teaching and doctrine amongst different Churches that I have been through. It reminded me that this is an urgent and important issue for me to resolve, and provided fresh impetus to revisit the foundations of my faith and focus on the Gospel as a starting point.

    The second was an examination of my heart during my quiet time this morning as I formulated my priorities, my "first things" for this year, and how I would like to live the next twelve months. I know what I want for 2012. I want to make this a year of systematic seeking for truth in my faith, especially in terms of understanding and differentiating between right and wrong doctrine. I want to explore two foundational elements of my faith in greater depth, which I believe I must stay riveted on in order to make sense of everything else - Christ, and His Gospel.

    Stephen R. Covey, an expert in leadership development, made a statement in his book "First Things First" that has stayed with me: "The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing." Some weeks ago, I wrote a post titled "To Follow Jesus All The Way", in which I quoted from the poem "My Choice" by martyred missionary William McChesney. I'm posting the whole poem here, because I believe it is very relevant to the "main thing" for this year. This is what it says:


     I want my breakfast served at eight
     With ham and eggs upon the plate
     A well-broiled steak I'll eat at one
     And dine again when day is done.

     I want an ultramodern home
     And in each room a telephone;
     Soft carpets, too, upon the floors
     And pretty drapes to grace the doors.
     A cozy place of lovely things,
     Like easy chairs with inner springs,

     And then, I'll get a nice T.V.
     - Of course, I'm careful what I see.

     I want my wardrobe, too, to be
     Of neatest, finest quality,
     With latest style in suit and vest
     Why should not Christians have the best?

     But then the Master I can hear
     In no uncertain voice, so clear:
     "I bid you come and follow Me,
     The lowly Man of Galilee."

     "Birds of the air have made their nest
     And foxes in their holes find rest,
     But I can offer you no bed;
     No place have I to lay my head."

     In shame I hung my head and cried,
     How could I spurn the Crucified?
     Could I forget the way He went,
     The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?

     For forty days without a bite,
     Alone He fasted day and night;
     Despised, rejected - on He went,
     and did not stop till veil He rent!

     A man of sorrows and of grief
     No earthly friend to bring relief;
     "Smitten of God," the prophet said
     Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.
     If He be God, and died for me,
     No sacrifice too great can be
     For me; a mortal man, to make;
     I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

     Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
     No other way will please my God,
     So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
     My choice for all eternity.
- William McChesney

      I have the feeling that this is going to be a very intense, challenging, but ultimately rewarding year. I'm going to do this. By His grace alone. For Christ alone. For His Gospel alone. For His glory alone. Because He's Jesus, and He's worth it. See you in the next post!

     Grace and peace to you.
- The Wisdom Seeker

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Wonderful Year With The Faithful One

     It's 11:15 PM as I write this, and 2011 is almost over. The date marker on my watch is half-way through shifting forward from "31" to "1". I'm sitting in my living room with my roomate Paulman and our friends Angie, Tim, Jacky and Alana, looking over photos of the year gone past and wondering what to do to as the year comes to a close. Paulman has suggested singing some songs, and taken up his guitar. It's been almost two weeks since I wrote my last post, and it has not been for lack of events and thoughts to write about. I will confess to my own tardiness and indiscipline in this matter.

    In any event, I did not want 2011 to end without a concluding post to bring what has been one of the most eventful years of my life to a close. There is so much that has happened over the last 12 months in my personal life and the world around me, in almost rapid-fire succesion. Albert Mohler wrote a wonderful article highlighting the former in a most well-written post, titled "The Year In Review", covering some of the major news stories of 2011 - The Arab Spring; the tsunami and earthquake of Japan; the Libyan uprising and fall of Moammar Gaddafi; the Occupy Movement, and others. I thought of writing a bit about my own significant milestones of the last year.

  • January: Yeswanth, my friend from undergrad and second year dorm roommate, died on his way to work in Bangalore, India an accident with a cement mixer truck and transit bus. He had just turned 27. The shock hit me hard. At the end of the month, I began work at my first full-time job out of grad school, working at a job that I love, for a wonderful company that God in His providence led me to. It came at the end of 7 months of hard job hunting, punctuated by moments of elation, despair, hope, piles of resumes and unsuccessful interviews. It will be almost a year that I will have worked there, and I am looking forward to another great year of work :)
  • February: Became a member at Willingdon Church. Began leading a Willingdon Entry Level small group for young adults a week or so later. At the end of the month, I went on my first solo long-distance trip for a week on work, to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Since I did not have a car, it was an almost 5 hour trip  each way over Skytrain, bus and ferry. It was very memorable!
  • March: Went to a shooting range and fired a gun for the first time in my life. Also bought "Boaz", my first car!
  • June: Willingdon Church turned 50 years old and celebrated by holding a major service at the Pacific Coliseum, with almost 5,000 people in attendance.
  • July: Turned the major milestone of 30
  • August: Went camping with friends for the very first time in my life!
  • June - August: Went downtown on my first solo forays in engaging people in conversation and sharing the Gospel
  • October: Went to Toronto to visit my parents, and got to see a close cousin I hadn't seen for almost 6 years, and his wife whom I had never met!
  • November: Was sworn in as a Canadian Citizen. Around the middle of the month, I got to spend a wonderful week with RZIM as they were in town for a series of speaking engagements at Trinity Western University, SFU, UBC and other venues. 
  • December: I passed my Class 5 road test and was finally able to drive my car on my own!

     It has been a very fast paced, eventful, fulfilling and challenging year. As I bring this post to a close, I am reminded of one of the most beautiful conclusions to be found in the Bible, the final verses of the book of Jude:

    "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." - Jude 1:24-25 , ESV

     This is my hope for the coming year, which is already well into its first hour as I finish this post. Though I have stumbled, faltered and been unfaithful many times, He has been faithful. Though I have been uncaring and ungracious, His kindness has been unceasing and His blessings have been new every morning. Though I have been unlovable, He has loved me nonetheless. Though I have been wretched in my sin, He has been gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Though all around me has been in flux and life has seemed like an emotional rollercoaster, His Cross has been there, solid as a rock and unwavering in its power as an anchor for life. Though my strength and will have failed time and again, His Spirit has lifted me to my feet and given me the resolve to make it through another day.

    I am happy to be alive as one year ends and another begins, that I may faithfully pour my life out and serve my Master and Lord in this new year that he has allowed me to see. To Him be the glory, majesty, dominion and authority now and for all time. May I give my utmost for the sake of The Name that is above every other name.

    Grace and peace to you.
- The Wisdom Seeker