3 Ways I Experienced God “Speaking” To Me Today

'Small Talk' photo (c) 2006, Bo Nielsen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I’m not sure if God speaks audibly, but He certainly speaks to the heart. He’s probably speaking all the time, but I’m not always listening or aware of His presence. Fortunately, I noticed His presence in three unique ways today.

    1. I was on a simple mission with a colleague today to retrieve some supplies after a large group event called Resound. While we were having trouble connecting with a third-party, we decided to have some lunch. We stopped by a very local, Hong Kong-style restaurant in Wan Chai near The Vine Church and waited. It was simply eating lunch together, and I didn’t really expect anything out of the ordinary. I suppose God surprises us sometimes. We ended up talking about a lot of things, covering a wide range of topics, and I was quite encouraged by the end. The miracle of sorts that actually occurred was the way that God opened up my heart to be free to speak to someone that I don’t normally open up to so freely.
    2. While hanging out with some youth leaders at Starbucks, one asked me to have an end-of-the-day pint together at a local pub. After we purchased our drinks, he asked me about my job and how things were going. He’s a rather observant fellow, so I couldn’t easily hide any struggles or concerns. Instead, in his genuineness, he allowed an open window for me to share, vent, and honestly talk about my ups in downs in youth ministry. He wasn’t trying to pry, but rather provided an avenue for me to open up rather than bottle up. It was quite nice.

'Pints of Beer' photo (c) 2010, Simon Cocks - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

  • 3. About twice a month I meet with a friend to practice spiritual accountability. We also share prayer requests and lift one another up in prayer to God. It’s absolutely refreshing! During our time together at another local pub, I noticed a girl drinking by herself and crying at a nearby table. I brought the situation to my friends’ attention, and we tried to figure out what to do about it. Ignoring it seemed like the easiest option, but clearly the most selfish and unhelpful. We talked about praying for her, but that seemed to passive and similar to a scripture passage in 1 John 3 that reads,

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

With that verse in mind, we couldn’t ignore her. We decided that once we finished our drinks and cigars that we would invite her over to our table and invite her to talk if she felt like it. We had no idea what we would say or how we could comfort her without feeling creepy, but we just felt like we should put ourselves aside and give her the option to talk to us. Then the best part happens. Once we settled our hearts on helping her, a friend of hers arrived, sat at the table, and gave her a shoulder to lean on.

I was reminded how God doesn’t always use us, but sometimes is wondering if were willing to be his servants. I suppose I felt a little like Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, but much less extreme! For a refresher on the story, check out Genesis 22.

Though today was a bit draining, it was a good, honest, and relationship-driven day. I am thankful that God has put so many good people in my life. Hopefully I can be a blessing to others as well.

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Just Give Up

Everywhere but here?photo © 2009 will ockenden | more info (via: Wylio)
Sometimes the best thing a person can do is to simply give up.
Sometimes we want something so bad that we miss the bigger picture.

I’m not depressed, and I’m not giving up on life or anything.
Rather, sometimes I simply need to let go and let God rule my life rather than myself.

But there’s a tricky balance to maintain too.
I need to be active and living life fully, but I also need to realize that, “The best laid plans of mice and men, oft go awry” (Robert Burns).

hopephoto © 2006 pol sifter | more info (via: Wylio)
2 quotes that are helping me through this shaky time in my life:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)

Being a Teacher in a Christian School

[NOTE: small update below]

I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately on the pros and cons of being a Christian educator.

PROS

  • Kids are generally awesome and super well-behaved
  • I don’t have to tip-toe around my faith
  • I can learn about Jesus during school hours because it’s part of the job
  • Regular chapel with time to praise and worship
  • Many supportive parents that care about both education and a child’s morality and faith upbringing
  • Instant connections with other staff members because of a common foundation in Christ
  • I get to be a part of all the uniquely Christian things. If you don’t know what weird and funny stuff Chrsitians are into, learn by checking out Stuff Christians Likeimage taken from http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=885

CONS

  • Though many staff members focus on the common bond or unity in Christ, some staff members make a big issue out of silly things like Harry Potter, going to a bar for a drink, or whether or not global warming is true
  • Sometimes your colleagues just hang out with one another – you lose sight of the rest of the world or where other people are coming from. We need to know non-Christians’ perspective. (READER: if you want to reconnect with non-believers, check to see where they might be coming from on the Friendly Atheist site.)
  • Reading the Bible and listening to messages sometimes become a chore rather than a joy
  • Related to the above, sometimes my time spent preparing for teaching Bible classes gets substituted for my personal quiet times with God. In other words, doing ministry can get in the way of being ministered to unless I specifically implement measures to avoid this pitfall
  • Teaching at a Christian school for a number of years can be a career killer if I were to ever become part of a non-Christian education system

Harry Potter photo © 2009 Danelle Bunker | more info (via: Wylio)
Still, I think I there are more and stronger pros than cons. I like being a Christian educator, and I really enjoy ministering to people. Regardless of where I end up in life, I know that I am called to live a life of integrity 100% of the time – whether in school, at church, while playing ultimate frisbee, at a bar, or even just walking the crowded streets of Hong Kong (I get too easily annoyed by people with poor walking skills. If you feel similarly, you will appreciate a post from the Phantom Future blog).

[UPDATE on 25 Feb 2012: I’ve learned how to deal with inconsiderate city walkers! You can learn how by watching this Japanese video]

image taken from http://phantomfuturedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/tourists1.png

I am a Christian and a Christian teacher. I’m cool with this. And I look forward to the many opportunities to shine brightly into people’s lives, wherever that might be.  🙂