12 things I see in 5 years

I wrote this at the beginning of this year. I have taken out some more deeply personal things.

What do I see in 5 years? Where do I see myself? Where should I be?

  1.  In 5 years, I see a level of spiritual growth in me that will show I have a foundation deeply rooted on Christ
  2.  In 5 years, I should have developed a strict discipline of obedience to God.
  3.  In 5 years, I should be feeding on meat, not just milk, in spiritual things.
  4.  In 5 years, God should be master over my flesh by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. No lust or sexual sin, anger, discouragement, lack of faith, lukewarmness, and the lack of a firm identity in Christ will have a hold on me.
  5.  In 5 years, I see a wife next to me. Growing spiritually together, in harmony, continually killing sin in our lives, and our marriage.
  6. In 5 years, I see a new born child in my arms.
  7. In 5 years, I see me seeking all sorts of growth as a husband and a father. 
  8. In 5 years, I see a more consistent operation in ministry, and a pursuit of the calling God has for me in the church. 
  9. In 5 years, I see me supporting my wife in the ministry God has called her to. I see me holding her hand and praying with her.
  10. In 5 years, I see me completely done with my Ph.D. degree, and at the beginning of my career.
  11. In 5 years, I want to look back and awe at the grace of God to carry me through the past 5 years. 
  12. In 5 years, I see me with a new vision for the next 5 years after.

Out of the tomb

This is an excerpt from the book The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges

Paul was fond of painting an absolutely dismal picture of our condition, then saying, "But here's God's remedy." He did it in Ephesians 2:1-5, where he said that although we were dead in our transgressions and sins, God "made us alive together with Christ." It's God who gives us spiritual life. We couldn't make ourselves spiritually alive any more than a dead person can make himself alive.

When Lazarus lay dead in the tomb, he could not decide to come to life again. He could not even respond to Jesus' call, "Lazarus, come out," unless with that call Jesus gave him life (John 11:1-44). Lazarus's condition, as he lay dead in the tomb, is a picture of our spiritual predicament. We can hear the gospel a hundred times, but unless that call is accompanied by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, we can no more respond to it than Lazarus could respond to a vocal call from Jesus.

I know it's difficult for us to accept the fact that we could not just decide to trust Christ in much the same way we might decide to buy more life insurance. The truth is, we did decide to trust Christ, but the reason we made that decision is that God had first made us spiritually alive. This is part of the good news. God comes to us when we're spiritually dead, when we don't even realize our condition, and gives us the spiritual ability to see our plight and to see the solution in Christ. God comes all the way, not partway, to meet us in our need. When we were dead, He made us alive in Christ. And the first act of that new life is to turn in faith to Jesus.

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal

On this day mathematician, physicist, philosopher, theologian Blaise Pascal was born. After spending 31 years of his life running from and arguing against God, the mathematical genius was transformed by the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ, but yet still maintained equal, if not greater, intellectual ability and influence on secular and non-secular society. He spent the last 8 years of his short life focusing specifically on Christian apologetics, including the popular "Pascal's wager". To read more on Blaise Pascal, see post from John Piper, or Google the guy.

Random Reflection on Flight to ...


I know you are the same, majestic, all powerful, all knowing, always good. Sometimes I just want to talk to you like a friend and ask you how you are doing. But that's the silliest question to ask you. Sometimes I go through out my day, like today, somewhat unaware of your every second/minute presence in my life. But then I take a time like this and write, or talk, or simply internally reflect and I get a small glimpse of your reality. God I know you are real and I know your Holy Spirit enables me to grasp certain aspects of your real presence. I can't wait to see you in heaven when I can fully possess the ability and capability to know you and love you. Sometimes it's a struggle to live in this dichotomous body that is corrupt because of sin but yet alive in Christ, constantly experiencing life and death at the same time. It is a painful place to be but thank you for your grace and your Holy Spirit that doesn't leave it all to my self, that same spirit which has been placed inside of me as a guarantee of the perfecting salvation and restoration of me to you in heaven. I can't wait to live eternally and understand your richness in a new way everyday without a speck of monotony. God sometimes I am curious. Sometimes I want to, and do approach you through philosophy, intellect, and natural instincts, but I am thankful my philosophy and intellect are obviously limited in many things in life. Where intellect fails, faith rises. Where the natural ceases the supernatural still is. I am glad in heaven I will have the joy to intellectually, emotionally, philosophically, physically, relationally, experience you. I can't really fathom that now to be honest. 


The Blessedness of Confession

Here is part of an email a good friend of mine sent me:

I have found in my life the blessedness of confession.  Wherever and however we find ourselves, confessing the depth and length and breadth of our sin to God is a blessing.  One blessing is that we can better our need of Him!  When I confess my unbelief, it shows me that my faith is NOT the reason God loves me and points to His free grace -coming from outside of me- that I so desperately need. 

Confessing the sin of our sin also reminds us that "the flesh profits nothing," and that life comes from the Spirit.  (SO many people say, "yeah, I know, I need to pray more, read the Bible more, worship more, etc..." That is the flesh talking.  Those with the Spirit have beheld God's standard of holiness which made "sin revive [they saw the magnitude of their sin], and [they] died [meaning they lost all confidence in their own goodness and ability]." Romans 7:9.  Confessing our sin reminds us to, rather than look to our fleshly striving for revival, trust God whose "divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

"If we may confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Find a minute to enjoy Psalm 32: 

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
In a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters
They shall not come near him.
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The necessity of the word

God's people are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:5  We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  Thus, part of God keeping us is His using the word.  "And we have more firm the prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, till day may dawn, and a morning star may arise -- in your hearts..." 2 Peter 1:19.   Here are some wonderful Scripture songs that are free to download and which you can listen to whenever you are in transit or are allowed to have earphones in. http://www.scripturesongsforworship.com/   (Many of my favorites are on this free CD:http://www.scripturesongsforworship.com/2012/06/album-songs-of-salvation-2012.html) As you take them in, may you taste and see that the Lord is good, and be drawn to seek Him, knowing that "He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Beat up, torn down, defeated, left for death, but not quiet completely dead

If that title doesn't describe anything, nothing I type will help. God are you real? I believe you are. You don't seem to be, but my perception doesn't and can't really define your reality, or your ability. Why have I come to experience such a self-deserved, self-inflicted wound to the most precious aspects of my being, to the faith that so sustains my physical, intellectual, relational, emotional, and psychological worlds. Just like that, I've crumbled. I have come to ruins because of sin. I have come to the edge of confusion, the edge where right before tumbling to a bottomless pit of confusion the grace of the one who saved me holds me by the leaf of my collar, keeping me from falling to my total death. Why didn't you keep me from falling when it seemed that there was no way out? Well, you said you will never let me be tempted beyond what I can bear? You also said you will always provide a way out. So by that, I automatically know you are right and I am wrong. I am at a point where I really can't and don't want to even shed a tear because I have cried so many meaningless tears only to return to the sam….[well, I guess I couldn't hold these tears back. give me a second]. 

Does it even matter the tears I cry? Why does everything seem so meaningless, but the one person that holds all meaning can't seem to, I can't even find the words….can't seem to…I want to say "can't seem to make Himself known", but I know that's a lie. Because God I know you have made yourself known, you have made your attributes perfectly known. You have revealed your character in every way. But you haven't revealed yourself as you are, in person, but you have promised to do this when we finally meet you in heaven, face to face. I guess I am supposed to accept that by faith until then. What about when my faith is dead like now. God I am in tears, realizing the more I write and ask questions, the more you just seem to be answering me through some form, maybe through your Spirit, whom I thought left me already. Hmm.

God I realize Jesus Christ has done the work, and has paid for my every sin. For my every struggle. For my every doubt. For my every pain. I realize that your discipline doesn't mean abandonment and that in due time you will restore me like the prodigal son and dust off the signs of the battle, which I lost, but Christ won. 

In pain,

Your son whom you love (even though I don't feel it now).

P.S. I need you. I need answers and you are the answer.

Honest Prayer of a Struggling Heart

This is an excerpt of my time being real with God. Of course I couldn't post the entire thing. And as you read this, I would like to say, don't ever let anyone fool you with extreme spirituality characterized by deep talk and sometimes a prideful talk that's based on their work and less on the work of Christ. Like John Piper once said, "we are not professionals brothers". Christ is. No matter how good we talk, we are only vessels of a good God. The vessels, by themselves without the Living Water, are dead, parched. 

...I fed real legitimate hunger with dust, with sand. I ate sand, and drank gasoline to satisfy a hunger that nothing else but You could satisfy. So many things have been going wrong the past month, financially, emotionally, academically, spiritually, everything. But at the end of the day, I see how a lot of it is really a reflection of my spiritual state, and a lot of it are consequences to choices I made at some point. God, I am tired of describing and focusing on my sin. You know all of this, and more. But God, I want you I want to come back to my first and only love. I have had enough really. A month of rebellion and coldness is way too much. God, I want you to revive me. God even as I am praying and fasting and my body and mind (flesh) don't really feel like it or the need to, God I still pray for a miraculous restoration of my mind, body, and spirit. God, restore to me the supernatural, holy, perfect inhibitions and freedom of the Holy Spirit. I need your influence on every area of my life, so that I can once again live for you and get back to desiring your will, your work, your desires. God, if it pleases you restore me and help me because I am completely snuffed out. Light the lamp of my heart again. God I am not dead yet, so don't leave me for death. I have nowhere else to go God. I have no one else to turn to. God, continue to develop in me the spiritual discipline that you had started when you pulled me out slavery to sin. Not for the sake of my own righteousness and self-pleasure, but for your own sake. For the sake of obeying your commands, and pleasing you, and living in your eternal destiny, save me.

Jeremiah 2:13: "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."


Sexual Sins

God's Faithfulness

Israel has been wondering through the desert for 40 years now. God has protected and provided for them in numerous miraculous ways. God has literally saved them from over 400 years of slavery under the Egyptians and has finally brought them to a land of their own--the promised land. However, before this, multiple times Israel greatly rebelled during the journey, and experienced grave consequences. At times God would have mercy on them via Moses's and/or Aaron's pleadings. As their journey reaches its end, we see another picture of God's commitment and love for them contrasted against their continual rebellion and love for sin, even at the last minute, the minute in which they are to receive that which was promised. 

For context, Israel has just defeated Og, king of Bashan, and the people have arrived and settled in the plains of Moab along the Jordan, across from Jericho. King Balak was neither happy nor comfortable with the sight and thought of the Israelites being that close to their land. He grew very insecure and wanted them cursed. He knew that God was with them but I guess he didn't really know God since he thought he could change God's mind through the demonic act of divination/sorcery. His plan was to use divination to cause God to abandon the Israelites so that he might defeat them. Balak requests for Balaam, a sorcerer, to help him accomplish his evil plan. Long story short, God uses this sorcerer, Balaam, to save Israel from Balak's evil plan. We also have the famous story of a donkey being used by God in this excerpt. 

Instead of cursing them, Balaam blesses Israel, all in front of the king that wants their destruction. It doesn't happen once but 4 times. This is not what Balaam was really planning nor what Balak wanted or expected of the sorcerer. But all we know is that this was God's plan for Israel from the beginning. This was God's plan for Israel since Abraham. This was God's plan for Israel during the centuries of slavery in Egypt. And it remained His plan even as the Israelites turned away from Him many times in the desert. This ordeal between Balak and Balaam ends as Balaam is sent away in anger by the king. To read the details of the interactions between king Balak and Balaam, read Numbers chapters 22-24. Keep in mindm, Israel remains clueless of what the king in their backyard is planning and what God is working on their behalf. 

Our Unfaithfulness
Shortly after the aforementioned ordeal with Balaam and Balak, we see a very familiar picture of rebellion in the Israelite's community. It's familiar because this same pattern of rebellion occurred in their journey from Egypt. It's also familiar because it looks so much like the rebellion God's people today undertake in varying forms and measures. The Bible records in Number 25:1-4 that "while Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who [also] invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord's anger burned against them."
Notice that they didn't simply "fall" into sexual immorality with the Moabite women but that they indulged in it. They were addicted, completely submerged, and I think it's appropriate to say they greatly enjoying the deed that they continuously returned for more. They developed sexual relationships with these women. It was so bad that at one point, an Israelite man by the name of Zimri had no shame in bringing a woman, Cosbi (possibly a prostitute), back to his home where his family was, with the intention of having sex with her in full view of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel (v. 6). Read Numbers chapter 25 to see what happened. 

Sexual Sin Continues to Subvert God's People Today

It's so easy to read into others' sins and miss the compass pointing back into our hearts. Earlier, I mentioned how familiar this rebellion, specifically towards sexual sin is. It worked in demoralizing the Israelites, who were God's chosen people, set apart and commanded to be different in every way from the rest of the nations--the nation they left, the nations they passed, and the nation they were settling into. It indubitably still works today. And in fact, it works pretty well, as evident in my and your own life, and also as evident in the body of Christ today. We have heard the scandals. We know the struggles (I know the struggle a little too well). We see and some of us have experienced broken marriages and families because of sexual sins. Sex outside of marriage has become the norm. Sexual immorality is as rampant (if not worse) in Christians as it is among non-Christians. Pornography addiction is skyrocketing, and is no longer just a man's or a non-Christian's problem. Women and children are being exposed to pornography at increasingly younger ages. As of 2009, it is reported that 50% percent of Christian men and twenty percent of Christian women report being “addicted” to pornography (Convenant Eyes). The facts speak for themselves and as you are reading this and as I am writing this, the failings of your and my own heart are the only facts we need. The consequences are grave! Sexual sin hinders our fellowship with God, hurts our families and loved ones, affects generations to come, and can even lead to the eternal death of our souls as we continue to drag the grace of God through the mire and filth of habitual and intentional sins; especially that sin that is committed against our own bodies as Paul describes in 1st Corinthians 6:18.

So if Israel fell for sexual sins, use it as a warning for yourself and your people. Sexual sin and the idolatry that comes with it is still real and even more effective in subverting God's people today. Mighty men and women of God have and continue to fall for it. People that genuinely love God have been taken down by it. Families have been destroyed by it. Millions, if not billions, of unborn babies have been killed by it. Needless I go on. I like to repeat what the Bible says: Without and outside of Christ we are extremely wicked and unrighteous in deed and thought. Our hearts are inclined to sin at any given moment in many ways. It doesn't matter how amazing God has been to us. We are quick to forget how He [God] saved us through Christ's righteous life, death, and resurrection. We are quick to forget God's holiness, majesty, and wrath. We are quick to forget his love, patience, care, and concern for our well being. We often fall into patterns of sin, some subtle, others blatant; some private, others public; some intentional, others unintentional. But there is hope. Christ is the hope for our salvation from all sin. Christ is enough to forgive your yesterday and today's sins. But we often forget that forgiveness is not the end of it. God desires that we live in freedom from all sin. The same power (of God) that lived in Christ and resurrected Him from death can resurrect our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11) as we die to sin and live in righteousness. In other words, you don't have to live under the influence of that sexual sin, and any other sin in this case. 

If you are struggling with sexual sins, see your Bible first. Most likely you haven't been spending consisten time in it. After you do that, then see this and this.

I recently wrote a blog post entitled "What Can We Learn From God's Will and Character". It might be a good sequel (or prequel) to this post. 

What Can We Learn From God's Will and Character

A few months ago, as I was praying and confessing the sin of my wicked heart, God spoke to me about character, His will, and my will. He was specifically speaking to me about manhood, and how broken men are today outside of Christ. This is however, addressed to all genders.

  • God's will in strong.
  • God's will is definite, intentional, and determined.
  • God's will is grounded in absolute, perfect, infinite, and unconditional love. 

If God's will was weak, indefinite, unintentional, I think our salvation would have never happened. Our existence and being would be left to chance. The amazing thing is, God never gets confused about his plan/will, it's perfect and concretely grounded in Himself, but expressed towards us, in perfect and patient love.

The opposite is true of us. Outside of God, and when left to and with ourselves, our wills are weak! Our character being so shallow, will topple over at the smallest budge of sin. We cave in at the slightest wind of opposition and resistance. We are quick to change our minds at the sight of sin and temptation. We are quick to break vows we recently made. We are quick to go along with popular or convenient course of sinful actions due to self-consciousness instead of God-consciousness, and self or peer-worship instead of God-worship. We are quick to lie. Quick to fornicate, masturbate, watch porn. Quick to cheat, lie, get angry for the smallest things. Quick to exaggerate our strengths, and minimize our weaknesses while minimizing others' strengths and exaggerating their weaknesses. Quick to judge others. Quick to jealousy, envy, hate, gossip. Quick to pride instead of humility and submission to others, even if they are wrong. Quick to self-righteousness. And even quicker to claiming our love for God and commitment to being Christians. This is how our natural wills look like. It makes the world and everything in it about us.

Let us align our wills and character according to the will of God and only then will we have such definite, intentional, and strong wills, enduring through time and circumstances.

This blog post, is a result  of a sin that I willfully committed, after I had made up my mind about what is moral, right, loving, and true and was pursuing the perfect will of God. But because of my weak character and will, and outright disobedience, I took an emotional/sinful approach at listening to the plea and will of someone else, someone that I do care about. This was the problem in the Garden of Eden. Adam, having a weak will and separated from the will of God, was similarly led into sin, not by Eve, but by his own sinful will. And today, we are continually led into deception, each time we decide to pursue our own wills instead of the will of God. 

As Paul says in Romans 7:24, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" Then says, "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v25)"

To men: we need to lead with such strong but loving character. You need to will as God wills. You need make up your mind how your will is going to affect the woman you are leading, the family you are leading, the friendships you are leading, the company or organization you are leading, and how you are living out your own walk of faith. 

How We Are So Quick to Forget

I am realizing how crucial the books of the Old Testament are to understanding the significance of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. So before I go any further, I strongly encourage you to go back and read the Bible from the beginning. A good plan to start with is the Youversion Chronological Bible Reading Plan. 

Now to the topic of this post. At times I am amazed at how quickly I intentionally and unintentionally blur the reality, holiness, mercy, grace, and conviction of God in order to pursue my own will. A lot of times, due to utter disobedience, lack of patience, lack of faith, lack of commitment and faithfulness, I will do that which is in complete opposition to the will of God--in other words, I sin. Sometimes it's a private sin (no one is there to witness), and other times it's a public sin. When going through this phase, and especially when coming out of any sin, I get hit like a ton bricks when I realize just how quick I am to forget. 

God's chosen people of Israel, after being saved from slavery in Egypt, witnessing the presence and love of God in every single possible way, after being led through a desert to a land that was promised to their forefathers, rebelled multiple times against their source of life, provision, and guidance. The book of Exodus chronicles the beginnings of this rebellion with the root of sin starting from Adam and Eve. As the book of Exodus concludes, there's an ugly picture of the human sin condition. The book of Exodus ends with the second most vivid picture (the first picture being Jesus Christ) of the covenant between God and people. In what is supposed to be the most holiest, meaningful, beautiful celebration of the convenant between God and his people, a big stain of sin is cast onto the picture when God's people outrightly rebel by impatiently choosing to worship a piece of gold shaped in the image of a cow, as they had learned and seen as slaves in Egypt. Read the entire book of Exodus (but more specifically chapters 32) to see this picture of sin, mercy, and the commitment that God still kept with His people after this grave sin of idolatry, which is the basis of all sins.

How easily they forgot the salvation of God. They were rescued from over 400 years of slavery, protected as the Egyptians were plagued, led through the desert, the Red Sea, protected from the Egyptians' pursuit, supernaturally fed, and many more wonders of God. The Israelites had previously agreed to do everything God commanded them to do just what seemed like a few days before their rebellion (Exodus 24:7). They had been given the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20), and so they knew well the expectations of God. Keep in mind that the first few commandments address the sin in which they walked (not fell) into, with the help of Aaron, who was Moses's right-hand man in leading the people to the Promised Land. Aaron is the one that gave in into the people's request to make the golden "god", shaped the metal, and later when Moses came back, awkwardly and untruthfully gave an account of how things happened, mentioning that he simply threw the gold in the fire and it came out as a golden calf. Sounds anything like the excuses we make before, during, and after sin? I think it does. We formulate all sorts of justifications for why we give into public sin (often citing we couldn't handle the peer pressure), and private sin (citing our weakness, blaming someone in our past, etc). 

In conclusion, this is the picture of sin against the background of the Most Holy God. The same Israelites we see in Exodus are as human and as sinful as it can get. Even more, they were not any worse or better than us today. 

Since the creation, as evident in Genesis, sin is our default state. God has always been merciful but yet has remained consistently just when the sentence and price of sin had to be paid. Even in his judgements, his mercy is ever present (e.g. the death of Jesus Christ). 

I once again encourage you to read the Bible from beginning to end. It can be time consuming (keyword "can be", if you don't manage your time well) but is crucial to your growth.