Gospel Go

The Cha Family in Japan


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On Being Eeyore

A few weeks ago, I had a period of melancholy. What I mean by this is that I just felt down…blah.

It could have been biological (hormones, that time of the month, etc.). It could have been circumstantial (stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, etc.). It could have been personality (I admit, I tend to be melancholy, which I’ve always attributed to my “artist” temperament). It could have been emotions.

Regardless of the “why,” I just felt like I was walking with a grey cloud over my head…for days.

I couldn’t shake it off. I tried to make myself feel more motivated, happier, purposeful. I went to spin class every day to ride the high of endorphins; looked at pictures of my kids to remind myself of the blessings I’ve received; tried to be driven with my long list of tasks and to-dos; hung out with friends.

But the cloud remained.

Then Damon said to me, “YM, if you really think about it, there is really no reason to be glum. Stop looking at yourself and think about the gospel. God has blessed you greatly, in your circumstances, and even more so, in Christ. Stop listening to yourself, but instead preach to yourself. ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’” (OK, I’m paraphrasing here, because Damon would never say the word “glum,” but you get the point.:))

As I thought about the gospel and the blessings I have in Christ, and even the circumstantial and material blessings I have, I saw clearly that there is no reason for me to feel glum. In fact there is greater reason for joy. And I had to intentionally keep saying this truth to myself, in faith, knowing that he would help me in my melancholy.

The cause of my glumness could have been any one of the valid reasons listed above, but in Christ, I could be delivered from that grey cloud and have true joy. Not a superficial, slap-a-smile-on-my-face, “happy” facade but a real, deep joy that is based on what Christ has done for me and the hope of heaven that exists because of what he has done for me.

Yet so often, rather than reminding myself (by preaching to myself) of the joys I have in the gospel, I succumb to those feelings, emotions, circumstances – and end up residing in the all too-familiar domain of melancholy. I choose to believe in the lie that this world is all there is for me, that the seen is more significant than the unseen, rather than clinging to the hope of heaven, to that which is not seen.

What are you struggling with these days? Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Defeated? Just surviving each day as it comes? Or maybe you have grown all too comfortable in this world that is seen and have neglected your responsibilities as a citizen of heaven. Or maybe, like me, you feel down, blah, apathetic. Do you lack joy?

Without oversimplifying the challenges and hardships you are facing in your life, whatever it may be, let’s preach the gospel to ourselves – reminding ourselves of the true and pure joy that is ours in Christ Jesus. This joy transcends our circumstances, personality, and emotions. In Christ and his gospel, we can have joy in whatever circumstance we are facing.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Thanks for reading,

-ym

Fundraising update: We are at 88% of our fundraising goals – we are grateful for our supporters! We are planning to leave for Japan at the end of January 2015.


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Why Japan?

A question that often comes to mind when we talk about the need for missionaries in Japan is ,”Why Japan?”

Japan is one of the most powerful nations in the world. Though only slightly smaller than California and with a population of 127 million people, Japan possesses the fourth largest economy in the world. It has a proud and ancient history with the world’s lengthiest successive monarchic line.

But this nation needs the gospel. This 4-minute video produced by YWAM Tokyo makes a great case for why Japan needs the gospel. Some take away points:

  • Japan is the second largest unreached people group in the world. Only 0.5% of the population attend an evangelical church.
  • There is only one missionary for  every 56,000 people.
  • Japan has the 6th largest suicide rate in the world (30,000 suicides per year).
  • Hopelessness is pervasive.

Why Japan from Oliver Banyard on Vimeo.

 

Fundraising update: We are at 87% of our needed regular giving. Praise God! We still hope to go by January 2015. Please consider supporting us. Thanks for reading!

 


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The Greatest Place on Earth

Disneyland

My oldest daughter started kindergarten two weeks ago. After the first week, I attended a “Back to School Night” event for parents at the school. The teacher was explaining to us the goals for the class and sharing about all the different things the students will learn by the end of the year. I felt very excited for Aliya, for the learning, the opportunities, the friendships; for all the new and enriching experiences that awaited her this coming year in kindergarten; at a new school, with new classmates, and new teachers. But as I thought about our upcoming departure to Japan in January (Lord-willing!), I began to feel a sense of loss. A sense of loss for Aliya – the prematurely ended learning, the missed opportunities, the truncated friendships – all the things she will not be able to experience in the second half of the school year.

In my last post, I shared about my fears. I realize that most of my fears are about my children. I don’t want them to suffer or endure hardship. I don’t want them to struggle in a new culture with a new language. I don’t want them to be isolated or ostracized by other children because they are different. And after attending that back to school night, I felt another fear: the fear of missed opportunities.

As I drove home that night, I remembered a day when our girls were happily playing with their Disney princess dolls as I was trying to get them ready to go out. Daddy was going to take them to Disneyland (“the happiest place on earth”). But our girls began to complain; they wanted to stay at home and play with their dolls. What they didn’t know was that going to Disneyland would be immeasurably more fun and exciting than staying in their room playing with two princess dolls. Because they didn’t fully realize what awaited them, they complained and grumbled.

The Lord consistently reminds me of my relationship with him through my relationship with my children. I am so often like a child, a child who thinks she knows better but really does not. The Lord reminded me that he has wonderful, better things in store for my children (and us), but those things are to come according to his ways and not in ways I think are best. The reality is, they may not be spared difficulties or suffering, but through those circumstances and struggles, he will help them know him better and increase their faith. What greater treasure is there than that?

What am I seeking for my children? Have I elevated earthly goals, my goals for my children (such as academic excellence, refined skills, harnessed talents, outward stature), above the most important goal of glorifying God and enjoying him forever?

The Lord reminded me, as I drove home that night, that we are in the best place (the actual happiest place on earth!) when we are in his good and loving hands. It is not about where we live physically, in California or Japan, but we will be well because of the Lord’s presence. There is tremendous comfort in this truth. I hope you too find comfort in this truth, in whatever circumstances you are facing.

Thanks for reading,
-ym

Fundraising update: We are at 85% of our fundraising goals – we are grateful for our supporters! We are hoping to leave for Japan in January 2015.


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Give ‘Em What They Deserve

Grade

I give people what they deserve.

When I am civil to strangers, it is often because they have been civil to me. Yet, if someone is less than civil to me, I will respond by being less than civil to him. I give them what they deserve.

I am ashamed of admitting it but the vast majority of the time this is how I think; this is how I behave in my relationships. When I hear of strangers (or even acquaintances!) needing prayer, I think to myself, “Why would I pray? I don’t know them.” Because I don’t know them, I give them “what they deserve.” The process that runs through my mind in that split second moment is: 1) how well do I know them? and 2) what have they done for me? I calculate how much of my attention, how much of me, they deserve.

Praise God that He is not like me. God did not give me what I deserve. I ignored Him, disobeyed Him, and even hated Him…yet He saved me. God did not give me what I deserved. Instead, He gave Jesus what I deserved.

Lord, forgive me of my selfishness and help me to be more like You. Help me to give others what they don’t deserve. Help me to treat others with love as You have treated me. Help me to do this because I love You.

Fundraising update: God has shown His faithfulness towards us through our fundraising. We are now at 86% of our needed regular giving! Praise God! We still hope to go in January 2015. Please consider partnering with us in our mission. Thanks for reading.

DC


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Fears of a Cry Baby

sharks

When I was a little kid, I was a crier (my mom used to lovingly refer to me as “jing-jing-ah”, which means “cry baby” in Korean). I cried on the first day of kindergarten; I cried at sleepovers; I cried at doctor’s visits; I cried standing on the pool’s high dive. I cried especially hard the night before returning to school after a long Christmas vacation.

I cried because I was afraid; often, my fears were exacerbated by my vivid (wild?) imagination. I was afraid I would never see my mom again on my first day of school; I imagined that the doctor’s needle would be exponentially more painful that it really was; I thought the change of returning to school after being at the comforts of home for two weeks was going to be too vastly different for me to adjust.

As an adult, I’ve suppressed my inner cry baby…but I am still fearful (imaginatively fearful). Even now, at my age, I have to tell myself repeatedly that there isn’t a shark in the deep end of the swimming pool to keep myself from freaking out while doing laps. I imagine worst case scenarios: with my kids, husband, driving, working, living. Fears fueled by an active imagination keep me awake at night.

We are now at 83% in our fundraising efforts to go to Japan. When I first heard the news from Damon, I was happy because of the Lord’s provision…but then, I became afraid. Afraid of the daunting task of moving to Japan. Afraid of learning a new language at my age (I can’t even speak Korean well!). Afraid of the constant, underlying tension that exists while living in a foreign country and culture. Afraid for my children. Afraid of the unfamiliar.

I thought about why I was afraid. Many lessons ran through my mind: as pilgrims on this journey this side of heaven, we should always be in the state of the unfamiliar (though we would rather settle in with our creature comforts and idols), or how the Lord has created us to be very adaptable to change, or how change and the unfamiliar make us cling to Christ alone and not our other constructed securities.

Then I did a word search on “afraid” in the gospel narratives in the Bible:

  • He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:26)
  • He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
  • So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31)
  • Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

I was reminded that I feared because of my lack of faith and trust in God. It is really quite simple: if God is with us, there is no need to be afraid. Isaiah 41:10 says,

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When I remember that God is with me (us), there is no fear. I have to remind myself this truth constantly as fear lurks and tries to take hold (the spiritual equivalent of telling myself repeatedly, “That shark at the deep end of the pool does NOT exist!!”).

So my prayer these days is, “Lord, grant me greater faith and trust in You. Help me not to fear.” I hope the same for you – whatever fears haunt you, keep you awake at night, or gnaw away at you in the back of your mind. Have true peace, because the Lord is near.

Thanks for reading,
-ym

Fundraising update: As I mentioned, we are now at 83%! Thank you for your kind and generous support and prayers.


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Dolphins

dolphinThe beauty of Southern California is amazing. The past week, we were at a picturesque beach with some of our church friends. The sand was white, the water was blue, and the waves were powerful.

As I stood on the shore and looked out into the water, a school of dolphins, about five of them, began swimming right beyond the waves. They swam slowly one after the other, parallel with the beach, breaking the water with their fins, and every once in a while leaping into the air. It was like they were putting on a show. Then they began riding the waves, all five of them side by side, toward shore. They rode the waves all the way in until they got lost in the foam and disappeared. Then they re-emerged and rode the waves again. It was extraordinarily beautiful.

After witnessing such natural beauty in the waters, I turned around and looked back onto the beach where I saw another kind of beauty. I saw brothers and sisters in Christ feeding each other, caring for each other’s children, and enjoying one another’s company. I saw sacrifice, service, and love – and the beauty that surrounded me was overwhelming.

That moment on the shore, where I was surrounded by such beauty, is a picture of what Psalm 133 describes:

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
     on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

As I stood on that magnificent shore, I saw a glimpse of our future: living in harmony with one another and enjoying creation forever. This is beauty. But even more beautiful is the God who created it, the God who exemplified this foretaste of heaven. I was blessed by not only seeing and experiencing all this but I was blessed mostly and ultimately by seeing and knowing the God who does this. Let us thank God for the ability and eyes to know and behold such a God.

Praise God! We are currently at 75% of our needed, regular giving! We still hope to go by January 2015, so please consider supporting our mission so that we can make our target date. Thank you for reading.

DC


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I have amnesia.

ForgettingOne day, the girls and I were headed to a birthday party. For a reason I can’t remember, Mikayla got upset as soon as we got into the car and started to cry. I tried to soothe her with my words as I was driving. They had no affect on her. She continued to cry and became more and more angry. I tried to distract her by telling her in my most cheerful voice, “We’re going to a party!!” She only became inconsolably irate and began to scream. From experience, I knew that she needed some time to calm down. I pleaded, threatened, tried to coerce. Nothing worked. As my efforts to comfort her didn’t work, as her screams got louder, and as we neared our destination, I began to grow exasperated…and very annoyed.

At that moment,  Aliya, who was sitting quietly through all this with her hands over her ears, said, “Mommy…Mommy, I think we should pray to God and ask him to make Mikayla not sad.”

I was silenced (on the inside and out). She was right. We should pray…and we did.

I was so convicted and rebuked at that moment, because in that fifteen minute scenario, the thought of praying didn’t come once to my mind. God wasn’t even in the picture; I had removed God from the moment.

The reality is, I live many moments in my day like this; moments lived without a thought of God. The moments become hours, the hours days, the days weeks. I forget that God is with me, that he’s in control, and that I’m utterly dependent on him. I forget that in light of the gospel in Christ, everything really is OK. I forget that this world is not my own, that my life is not my own, and that I’m a citizen of a heavenly kingdom. I forget who I am; I forget the gospel. I have amnesia.

How can I awaken from this condition? Of course, through God’s grace alone. May that grace help me to actively and intentionally fight this tendency to forget. I need to pray and read God’s word – to remind myself of the gospel because I don’t remember it. I need to preach the gospel to myself throughout the day because I forget it.

Remembering doesn’t come naturally; it’s work. So when I wake up, instead of instinctively checking my emails and organizing the schedule for the day, I need to read God’s word and confess that I can’t do this day alone. At night, after I put the kids to bed, instead of vegging out by watching old episodes of The Office, I need to pray and surrender my concerns, worries, and hopes to God. Throughout the day, when I feel bothered or stressed, I need to remember the gospel. When I need to make a decision, whether small or big, I need to ask God for wisdom. I need to do this because once I start forgetting, my life actually loses meaning and purpose.

A lot of times, this work of constant remembering seems daunting – because it’s easier to just cruise through life than fight – but may the grace of God give us strength to live our lives in a way that brings glory to him. May we understand the gospel deeper each day, and may we cling to Christ in each moment of this life we have been given.

Thanks for reading,
-ym

Fundraising Update: We are now at 66%! We are grateful for all our supporters and appreciate your partnership. If you have not already partnered with us, please consider supporting our mission. Thank you!


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The Cycle of Sin

cycle

Psalm 42:11: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

I just preached a sermon on Psalm 42, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a wonderful take on the passage:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself.”

I really liked this because it connects well with Paul’s struggle with his indwelling sin recounted in Romans 7:7-25. But I believe it also reiterates God’s admonishment to Cain after He rejected his offering, “The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’ (Gen 4:6-7).” We must rule over our sin; God told Cain that he had authority over his sin. But in the very next verse, Cain murdered Abel. Furthermore, in Psalm 42 and Romans 7, it speaks of sin still having some sort of mastery over us.

This, for me, is the clearest picture of the power that sin has over us. We know the truth; we know we should not sin; we even have power and authority over our sin; and yet we still allow it to master us. We cede power so quickly and easily. And yet God still loves us. I know this because even after I sin and fail again, I also know that I repent. I also know that I grieve of my sin. And from here I most see God’s love for us. We have an amazingly loving God, and I long for the day when I will see Jesus face to face and thank Him for all He has done despite all that I have done.

I will end with a story. Our family was at an outdoor food court , and I left the table to get a drink. After a minute, Aliya kept asking Young-Mi, “Why is daddy talking to that woman? Why is daddy talking to that woman?”

But even as Young-Mi looked around, she couldn’t see me. So she asked Aliya, “Where is daddy?”

Aliya pointed to this man:

DDouble

I may have to spend more time with Aliya.

We are currently at 64% and would appreciate your support. Thank you.

DC


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The Worst Version of Yourself

Mt. Everest Have you ever thought this to yourself, “I’m being the worst version of myself right now!”?  It may be as you are yelling at your kids, or muttering spiteful words at that driver who clearly doesn’t know how to drive, or saying some snide remark to your spouse, or blowing up about some issue at work, or feeling like throwing in the towel because you’re overwhelmed and tired.

I’ve been the worst version of myself for the past two weeks…because I’ve been climbing and trying to conquer (though the more apt description is “being conquered by”) Mt PMS. The list above of unsavory actions is a snapshot of a day on that mountain. Though the fact that I’m writing about it is probably making Damon cringe, I decided that it’s something that should be written because half the population can relate to what I’m describing. Without sounding overly dramatic, it’s the incessant emotional fluctuation between extreme irritability, magnified hypersensitivity, explosive animosity, prideful blame-shifting, hopeless melancholy, pervasive apathy – all encompassed in the debilitating fog of lethargy.

Though the saying goes “knowing is half the battle,” that meaning is lost to me when climbing Mt PMS. Though I know it’s that time of the month, I often feel that that knowledge doesn’t help me much as I engage in battle daily to fight these feelings. I often find myself succumbing to my irritation or anger or self-pity, because it’s easier to do that than to fight them. My uncontrollable hormones can become a license to sin (“It’s my hormones!” “I can’t control how I’m feeling!”)

I end each day feeling defeated having failed on many battlefronts, feeling apologetic to my husband, my kids, the strangers who had the misfortune to cross my path – and yet justifying my actions for one reason or another (“They should’ve listened to me!” “They deserved it!” “I am just so tired!” “He just doesn’t understand!”). In those nighttime moments of regret and self-justification, I think to myself, “Boy, I really was the worst version of myself today.

But the reality is, I wasn’t the worst version of me…I was just being me. That “worst version of me” is really the true me. It’s the me that is unfettered by self-control, conformity to societal niceties, or the fear of man. PMS or raging hormones (as difficult as they are) are never excuses for my bad behavior. My circumstances don’t create some “worst version” of me; they reveal who I really am.

One day on Mt PMS, as I was feeling particularly despondent, this psalm came to mind:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him my salvation and my God.”

I admit that I felt silly thinking of those verses because my circumstances were so trivial compared to the real threat of death that is described by the psalmist. But those words comforted me greatly because they reminded me of the lovingkindness of our heavenly Father – who cares for me, in things small or great. Even in my utter weakness as I battled myself and my sins, in failures and wrongdoings to others, the Lord was (and is) near. He cares for me and will help me. It reminded me to pull the focus off myself and shift the focus to him. It reminded me to repent of my sins (and also repent to those I sinned against) and to cling to the cross. The Lord will give me grace to face those emotional/mental battles, and even in my failures, he will forgive, redeem and renew. Mt PMS is neither too great (for me) nor too small (for God) to be conquered through God’s grace in Christ.

Do you find yourself blaming circumstances or others for making you the worst version of yourself? I hope that as we face various, uniquely challenging situations, we can see what the Lord is revealing to us about ourselves and how he desires us to turn to him and depend on him alone.

Thanks for reading,
-ym

Fundraising Update: We are at 63%. Thank you for supporting us – we are so grateful to all our supporters!


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Love/Hate

Crumpled paper on floor

I have a love/hate relationship with this blog. I enjoy it as far as it communicates the gloriousness of Jesus in our lives. I appreciate it as far as it communicates to our supporters and would-be supporters our progress in going to Japan. That’s about it. Okay, love/hate may be too strong, it’s more enjoy/hate. Writing these posts is hard. There are times when I sincerely do hate writing them. When I see my scheduled time coming up I start dreading because then I have to start thinking. I go through dozens of possible topics and reject all of them. Then, when I’m way overdue, like now, I just start writing on a topic that has just entered my brain. Then the writing begins. Writing is hard. Many times I’m not a clear thinker and this is judiciously reflected in my writing. So it takes time to edit, then edit again, then trash my post and think of another one, then edit some more. I can hate writing these posts.

But one of the main reasons I hate writing these posts, is that I pray. I pray before I write them. I ask for help, I ask for illumination, I ask for diligence and wisdom, I ask for clarity, I ask for completion of the task for His glory. But I don’t think He answers.  Do you know why? Because nothing seems to change. I don’t receive illumination, diligence, wisdom, clarity, or completion of the task. Nothing changes. I’m still stuck in front of a computer with nothing there. This really bothers me because I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Then I go back to Romans 8:28. Then I ask, What is the Lord trying to teach me? He’s teaching me that I have to work. I have to work like He works. He wants me to create like He created. He wants me to be like Him. That means working. I don’t want to work, I want comfort. I don’t want to create, I want things done for me because working is hard. I’m a sinner and God is trying to make me more like Him who works even though it is hard. So even though my sinfulness says that God doesn’t care, that He doesn’t answer my prayers, I see that is actually  the furthest thing from the truth. He is answering my prayers by making me more like Him, by making me work. We have an amazing God.

Praise God, we are at 63% of our monthly support. Please consider supporting us if you aren’t already. Thanks for reading.

DC