God or Chance?

Lately, there’s been a verse I’ve been pondering: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). And I’ve been thinking about the plans I’ve made for my life as opposed to what has actually happened. I’ve thought about the places I’ve lived in and the people I’ve been connected to. Most recently, I’ve thought about where I currently live and how God has used my past experiences to prepare me and my family for ministry in Seattle.    

This has led me to explore the topic of trusting God. Not only does this mean trusting Him in each season of my life, but it also includes trusting Him when I can’t make sense of why certain things are happening to me or my family. Jerry Bridges states this quite well when he says, “In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense.”  While not all situations are adverse circumstances, they can, however, be confusing because of the timing or the way in which something happened.  Most likely, it’s confusing because the timeline and plans I’ve made aren’t corresponding to God’s timing and His plans. Yet I know that God did not waste anything during our time in China, Atlanta, Virginia, or San Antonio. He allowed different people to cross our path to help shape, sharpen, and prepare us for what was coming next both in ministry and in our family. God has a purpose for each church and ministry that we have been a part of, and He uses all of our efforts for His glory. Isaiah 46:10 says “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”  Not only does God have a purpose and a plan for me, but I can trust that He has the power to carry out that plan.

Another large part to all of this is believing that God is omniscient (all-knowing).  There is such deep comfort in this truth because I need to know that God understands why I reacted a certain way…that He understands my motives and actions…and He understands how certain circumstances will affect me with the unique personality traits He formed in me. I can trust God because He is so intimately acquainted with all of my ways (Psalm 139). No one knows me like He knows me. He alone knows what is best for me. And even when I don’t understand why He allows certain things to happen to me, I can absolutely trust that He is working out all things for my good (Romans 8:28). What relief there is in knowing that God is never taken by surprise or caught off guard by my circumstances. There is great solace in trusting in a God whose plans never fail and whose love never fails.

So, with all of this said, I’ve arrived at some conclusions…

  1. I don’t have to know the end result of all of our ministry work and effort.  I do, however, have to trust that God has the ability and the power to use all of our efforts, no matter how big or small, for His purposes.
  2. I don’t have to wonder if the circumstances and events in my life and family are the result of chance. I do have to trust that God is sovereign over everything that happens to me.

Nothing can thwart His plans or purposes (“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” Lamentations 3:37).  I know I can trust that the Lord will bring or allow things to come into my life which are for His glory and my good.  TRUST.  It all comes down to trust.  This is not merely hoping that God sees what happens to us.  It’s not wondering if He’s going to act on our behalf.  It is, however, knowing and believing to our very core that He is ever-present, loving, all-powerful, and involved in all aspects of our lives.  The words of Cecilia D. Martin sum this up beautifully:

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

[AWAKENING CHURCH UPDATE] The Year for Awakening

On this first week of the year, we want to celebrate all God did this past year with a heart of gratitude over his faithfulness. And as we enter a new year, may we submit ourselves to God’s priorities and pursue people with a renewed sense of urgency.

As a farmer invests in seasons of plowing and sowing, what joy he experiences when sees the first fruits. This past month we experienced a first fruit as one of our ESL students placed her faith in Jesus! We are reminded daily that we don’t have to board international flights to reach people from other religions and cultures. We just need to open our eyes and engage the nations surrounding us in our own city. Helping people learn English has been a great way to serve and love our community. We look forward to seeing many more people discover Jesus through these open doors.

On Christmas Eve, I had the opportunity to preach at the Chinese Southern Baptist Church in downtown Seattle.  For this special service, the Chinese and English congregations came together for one combined service.  We sang Christmas songs in Cantonese and English and I preached a message about Immanuel, who promises to always be with us. And knowing that God is with us gives us power to bring light into this dark world. It was a time of celebration.

As we continue to pray for a strong core team to launch Awakening Church, we can see the team beginning to develop.  There are 2 young men currently living in the Seattle area that God has brought into our lives.  I have been meeting and discipling them as we prepare to launch.  During the Thanksgiving holiday, I met a special couple from my uncle’s church in Kansas.  They were in Bellevue visiting extended family and we met for coffee one morning.  We spent a couple hours sharing stories of Gods calling, vision, and how he had been preparing them for a new season of ministry. As conversations have continued, they feel God drawing them to Bellevue to join our core team.  Please join me in praying for them as they answer the call of God and take bold steps of faith in the days ahead.

In early December, we enjoyed having Kathy’s parents come visit us for a week. And on Christmas day, some dear friends from San Antonio came to visit as well. We were so blessed and encouraged by the time with all of them.

May God give us boldness, wisdom, and creativity to think of ways to respond to his grace, so that through us, even the distant islands can sing for joy (Isaiah 42).

Celebration / Gratitude

  • Praise for his faithfulness in all things!
  • Gratitude for relationships and partnership supporting our church planting.
  • Thanks for God’s gifts to us, for his strength and for his calling on our lives.
  • Awakening in the body of Christ to His work around the globe.
  • Thank God for preparing the soil of the past, and for what God is going to do this new year.

Prayer Requests

  • Bold Faith
  • Deepened intimacy with Christ. Everything else in is a result of that.
  • Core team development as we begin vision meetings within the next couple months.
  • Partnering churches and individuals to sustain long-term work in our city.