Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yesterday, Santino and I went on a field trip with students from my school that are learning English as a second language-most speak Hmong or Spanish at home. We took them to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then to the tide pools after. Many of these kids had never been to the ocean before, so we were excited to experience this with them!

We drove our own car, just minutes behind the bus. As we drove along the coast line just before arriving, Santino put on the song “All Creatures” by David Crowder Band. I looked out at the ocean, and turned to him and said “I hope to sing this song with these kids for all eternity”. In my heart I prayed for each child on that bus to see God’s creation, marvel, worship, and come to know the LORD.

We arrived, and the kids were SO excited! They were eager to see the sea animals, excited to learn.

We left the aquarium and we were off to the ocean, to the tide pools for the kids to experience the ocean and some marine life up close-touch it, smell it, and delight in it. They did! They were fascinated with slimy rocks, hermit crabs, starfish, and all these little creatures. I stood back for a minute and watched these kids running around smiling, laughing, running to their friends, and it just hit me . . . how much God wants all of us to delight in His creation.

I looked out on the horizon, the ocean seemed endless, there was a break in the sky, between ocean and clouds, and you could just see this rim of sunshine. Soon, you heard all of the kids yell-"look a rainbow!" (Just to the right of this picture-unfortunately you can't see it). We marveled at it together, stood in awe and wonder . . . a rainbow across the ocean sky. Glory!

In that moment, I realized God was looking down on all of this. Watching these children experience a part of His creation like never before-in community, with others to share their joy! This is exactly what God want us to be like. Worshipping, marveling, delighting in Him and His creation with others, excited to be in His presence.

We will study “Creation” this next week in Academy. We will hear about many worldviews on creation-from Darwin to philosophers, and I’m so thankful to have this experience beforehand. I am reminded in God’s word that what we experienced yesterday was not “Mother Nature” but “God, The Creator”.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. ’And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:9-10)

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made . . .” (Romans 1:19-20)

“Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it” (Isaiah 42:5)

What a joy to not only know there is a Creator, but to know Him as my Redeemer, Savior, and Lord as well.

P.S. Here is a link to the song "All Creatures" by David Crowder Band.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Transformed & Renewed

Scripture 2
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

I chose this scripture to memorize over these next 2 weeks because it’s the scripture that our next Academy course will be focusing on all semester long, answering 6 major questions of life from both philosophical view and biblical view.
1. Creation: Where did we come from?
2. Mission: Why are we here?
3. Evil: What is evil, and where did it come from?
4. Liberation: What can be done about evil?
5. Transformation: How do we change?
6. Mortality: How does death relate to life?

What we believe determines how we live.

We all have a theology. We all believe certain things about God and the way he works. Some believe He is non-existent, others believe He is intimately involved in our lives. What we think rules our beliefs, our actions, our way of life. We make up our minds on what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, just and unjust. We use our thoughts to guide our hearts and our actions.

Do not be conformed to this world . . .
Our whole Christian life is a battlefield of thought-ways of the world vs. ways of God. We are filled from the time we are born with many voices influencing our minds “You need to make yourself happy” or “You need to have good self-esteem”, or “You can’t love others until you love yourself first”. The world tells you to build yourself up, and you will be happy! That’s being conformed to the world-believing what the world tells you and living accordingly.

But be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . .
Transform means to change in condition, nature, or character. Think of metamorphosis (Caterpillar to Butterfly). Renew means to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again. These words bring me so much hope! God’s word will transform me (change me) and renew my mind (restore, make me new-better than my original condition). His word will align my thinking to be like His.

We cannot change our actions until we’ve changed our thinking. That’s why it’s so important to renew our minds with the one and only Truth, God’s word. As you start reading God’s word, you find out it is not about “myself” at all. It’s about coming to the end of myself, so that He may begin. God wants to change us, to transform us, but not by our hard work or self-discipline. He wants to work in us by allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our thinking and conform our hearts to His.

That by testing you may discern what is the will of God . . .
There are many answers to life’s questions floating around in the world. It’s important that we consult the Maker of life for His answers. What His will is, not everyone else’s. We need to be able to test the philosophies against God’s will, and differentiate between truth and lie. We need to know God’s answers to these questions, because our beliefs determine our actions.

What is good and acceptable and perfect . . .
That’s why His word is written down for us, so that we may know the path of life and how to live according to His design, which is what ultimately brings us peace and joy!

Heavenly Father, I pray that through this course you would change me from the inside-out. I ask that you would transform my thinking, renew my mind, and conform my heart to Yours. Help me to stay on the path you have paved for me, to delight in Your word, and abide in Your love.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Know My Heart

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

A few weeks ago I was praying this part of Psalm 139, and realized that when you ask God to reveal things about your heart, He will. He will refine you, purify you, point out things in you that offend Him. He will change you from the inside out because He loves you.

I often ask the LORD to mold me to be more like Him, to break my heart for what breaks His, and then when He starts to, I am kicking and screaming “the fire’s too hot, the pain is too deep!” It reminded me of an email I received years ago (you may have all read it before), but thought I’d share. It talks about what God starts doing when He reveals in you the things that offend Him-He sanctifies, purifies, and refines.

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver . . ." (Malachi 3:3)

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

What an encouragement to know that our Lord burns away our impurities, watches every second as we are transformed to look more and more like Him! Take comfort in knowing that these hard times, refnining and purifying times, are meant to purge those offensive things and make you to look more like Jesus. Thankful we have a gracious Refiner, who is in control, and will purify me to lead me to everlasting life.

Search me, oh God, and know my heart . . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Living Sacrifice

Scripture 1
I love Romans 12! It summarizes how we should live in response to the Gospel. It shows how we are to live out our new life, use our gifts, treat others within the church, our neighbors, and even our enemies. It is a chapter I read regularly and something I pray for often . . . to be a Romans 12 Christian.

The first verse in this chapter mentions a very important word, sacrifice. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

I looked up the word sacrifice, and in many of the definitions I saw the word surrender. Some synonyms for sacrifice are relinquish, forgo, renounce. To be a living sacrifice I must offer my body, my life, and lay aside my plans, my agenda, and my way. When I do that, I worship Him.
Our spiritual life starts here.

Sacrifice. Surrender. Relinquish. Worship.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Confront & Confess

Oh my . . . I was hit with something today. Well actually it’s been lingering for a few weeks. Thanks to God’s word (and Chuck Swindoll’s teaching), the Lord brought to a light a sin that was in need of confession and repentance.

2 Samuel 12 is when Nathan goes to David nearly 12 months after his adultery with Bathsheba, and murder of Uriah. Nathan confronts David about the sin he had been hiding in his heart. David’s response was confession and repentance.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend nearly 3 years ago. It had recently come back up and the Holy Spirit had been pressing on me to confess and repent, and seek forgiveness. I have been haunted by this conversation, and honestly, just haven’t had the courage to confess. I’m not even sure if my friend remembers it, but I do. This message reminded me that the longer I make excuses for not making things right, the more distant I become from my Heavenly Father and closer the Accuser gets to me.

This is a humiliating, embarrassing, shameful place to be. You have to go to that person, confess your sin, and seek their forgiveness. It’s also a lonely place to be when you keep that sin to yourself. However, there is freedom in His forgiveness, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I have been confronted by the Holy Spirit, now it’s time to confess . . .

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, "and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Psalm 32:1-5

Monday, January 3, 2011

Broken Dreams

I know it’s a weird topic to “start” the New Year with, especially because we are all dreaming big this first week of the New Year! I am dreaming big too, but also reflecting and realized that this blog has become a sort of journal for me, for what the Lord is doing in my life and teaching me. Right now He is teaching me through a study on the life of David by Chuck Swindoll and it’s been amazing! I recently listened to a message on 2 Samuel 7, a lesson titled “When God Says No” and it has stirred some things in me.

David’s dream was to build a temple, a permanent dwelling place, for the LORD. He was full of peace and his counsel said to do it!

"Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent." And Nathan said to the king,"Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you." (2 Samuel 7:1-3)

God's response was no, this is not for you to do.

"But the LORD said to David my father, 'Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name." (2 Chronicles 6:8)

In this message, the Lord told David that while his desire was “well in his heart” (it was good), it just was not the Lord’s plan for David.

He reminds us that . . .
1) Even when our dreams are “good”, they’re not always from the Lord.
2) Just because you’re at peace with something, doesn’t mean it’s from God.
3) When God says “no” to a desire of our heart, it’s not necessarily discipline or rejection-it’s redirection.
4) Our response to a broken dream should be cooperation and humility.

This message really spoke to me. I’m sort of there right now! A dream I’ve had all my life, a desire in my heart since I was young, that I’m now wondering if it was just that . . . my dream, my plan, my mission. It’s so hard to discern, especially through such discouragement. There are many things in my heart that I desire to do in the name of Jesus, but I know He has not asked me to do them all. I hope that I am not pushing doors open that He never intended me to open, the same as never opening doors he wants me to. It’s so hard to discern the “no” as much as it is the “yes”.

I don’t know if I’m just discouraged and in need of endurance and perseverance OR if the Lord is redirecting me. Is this a broken dream? Is God closing the door? I don’t know. Seeking that out . . . waiting on Him . . . this New Year. I do know that I want the Lord to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I want to walk in His ways, according to His word, abiding in His will.

So as I “plan” my new year, my life, I remember that there may be “good” things I want to do in the name of the Lord, but they may not be what God wants me doing with my life. It may be “well that it was in my heart”, but not necessarily his plan for my life. I know he has created and gifted me uniquely, I only pray that I’m using those gifts the way He desires.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful to be blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Sometimes I am so consumed with the details of MY life, and I want to be consumed with the details of YOUR life and the life YOU have for me. I surrender this dream, struggle, and trial to You. I ask that You would make known to me the path of life, for in Your presence there is fullness of joy. Help me to hope and trust in You, abide in Your love and grace, and follow the path You have set before. I desire to be used by You in this world, whatever way You plan for me, teaching or not. You are my Lord, my King, my Rock, my Refuge, my Hiding Place, and Redeemer. Help me to be content in whatever season I am in, whatever path I am on. I am so thankful for the new life and life abundant You have given me. I love You Lord, my life is Yours.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My New Hobby

I was always embarrassed when people would ask me what my hobbies were because I didn’t have any! In my free time, if I’m not relaxing with Santino or chatting with friends, I really do love to read, study, pray, clean, and organize. Those are my “hobbies”. I know . . . boring!!

So this past summer I decided I’m going to get a hobby so, I started painting. I took lessons with my friend’s aunt, and loved it! Here are some of my paintings (remember I’ve only been painting for 6 months-so these are equivalent to the artistic ability of a 3rd grader). I hope it will encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new this year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The Christian often tries to forget his weakness; God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it; God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian thinks his weakness are his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God; God tells us that it is the secret of strength and success. (Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray)

I thought this was encouraging, especially in context of the New Year. We are all reflecting on our weaknesses and “resolute” on what we liked to change and improve. Just a reminder that some of those weaknesses we have are there to keep us dependent on the Lord. He wants us to grow and change by relying on Him for strength . . . not our resolutions, discipline, strong will, but Him and His grace.

Let's be open, honest, and authentic right where we are. He wants to use us, shine through us, for all the world to see. Let your light shine through your brokenness and weakness as you pursue Him.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)