Some of the things I’m thankful for

Well, this could be a thankfulness post, but to be honest, it’s more of post of things I’ve been learning. Of course, we can always be thankful for things we’re learning, right?

I’m thankful for community. I don’t say it often. Most of the time, I’ll never admit its importance. I’ll normally think less of people who seemingly depend on having friends or community probably because I yearn and seek it less. Tonight, I got to hang out with a bunch of epic guys; Ryan, Justin, Jonathan, William, Stephen, and even Daniel were all there. I enjoyed seeing Daniel in my life. It made me realize how much I do miss having him around. But yeah, I’m thankful for community that I’ve received and generally take for granted. I don’t know how Fall 2013 will be without all of them. 

I’m thankful for the money that I have, even though I’m a “poor college student”. I gave my first tithe about 5 years ago. I gave my first missions support to a friend this summer. At the time, what I thought was very little (because she had to raise over 6000 dollars) was actually a lot to her. In the summer, I struggled with the concept of money – what it was worth (purchasing power), what it’s true value was in light of eternity, what it can and should be used for. And today, I decided to financially support someone very close to me on a monthly basis for the better part of the next year. I feel like God is opening me up to understand that idols such as money/school/profession can be things intended for good. I have an opportunity to partner with someone and their ministry, and I will dutifully do so with my money as well. So, yeah God’s been teaching me about money, and I’m thankful. 

I’ve been driven to an understanding about myself. I used to think the most God-glorifying thing you could do in life was to go to a third-world country, life there long term, and devote your life to starting a church there and sharing about Jesus with people. I thought to myself,  “Man, those people must be really holy because they’re willing to leave everything behind to serve God. That’s awesome.” The truth is, I still think that’s awesome, but what I realized today while externally processing with Jonathan was I think it’s even more awesome to do it in the United States. Here, the struggle isn’t having enough; it’s having too much. Here in the United States, money and success things that can cloud us serving God. While we can walk into church and give willingly, our security rests with the bank accounts that we know are filled with our retirement fund. I don’t think anything is wrong with spending our money wisely, but there’s an intangible line between doing that and storing our treasures on earth instead of heaven. When I was talking to Jonathan, these words slipped out, but they say more about my ambition than anything else.

I think the coolest thing anyone could do would be to live like Jesus in the most money-centric industries among people who work in the richest professions. 

As I thought about it, I realized that I’ve always wanted to distract status quos. Think about it… a radical Christian who makes it into the big time. President, congressman, heart surgeon, lawyers, judges, business owners, managers. People who earn respect in the world with their worldly status only to tear down the expectations of others because they’re living by Jesus’ standard. The Holy Spirit can manifest himself through these people and reach those people who have much but know little. To me, that has become, in the past few years, something that’s driven me deeply. I want so badly to be someone who makes a lot of money and has enough courage to live by Christ in this money-idol culture because I think I’m crazy, bold, audacious enough to try it. I don’t know if God’s telling me to do that, but to be honest, I wouldn’t mind if that was the path of sanctification He’s set out for me. Does that make me sound crazy? 

Finding a Home Church

I could have said, “another church” in the title instead of a “home church”, but that simply is not the case. To be completely honest, I’ve never truly had a home church. At Second Baptist Church, the place I’ve called home for the past five years, I was never involved in youth group, and I never attended sunday school. Normally, I would just attend church service and head on home.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what church I want to commit myself to in the future. There’s the obvious choice in Houston Chinese Church (HCC). I’ve been a part of their summer fellowship the past two years, and I’ve been going to camp as a camper or counselor for the past seven years. God used the people from this church to reach me when I was unbelieving and still, to this day, uses those same people to grow my faith and my relationship with Him. I know I could find a nice niche and comfortable growing environment at HCC, probably through Basic, their young adult ministry.

The second choice, although one that I’ve always immediately shot down, is Chinese Baptist Church (CBC). This semester, I felt that God was calling me to be a counselor for their winter retreat, and I’m so glad I followed Him there. Some of the most influential people in my life had come from CBC, so many that I could hardly take it as coincidence; Michael, Michelle, Mary, Justin, and Gregory. Ever since high school, I had always wanted to meet the CBCers, and I finally had a chance to interact with the youth and college kids. Michael and I had a chat on the last night of the retreat, and he shared about the community of the church. CBC is just one big family, and trying to process and keep track of all the family relations gave me a huge headache. Coming back Saturday, I felt refreshed and wanting to experience more of CBC’s church environment. And I did just that; I attended my first Sunday chinese church service, ever. There are two sides of community. On one hand, you can feel completely loved and integrated. On the other, you can feel excluded because the community is so united, and you feel like you’re fighting to become a part of it, to be accepted. I felt both feelings at the retreat, and the latter magnified on Sunday.

So, here’s the deal. Community is really important to me for two reasons:

  1. The reason I’ve never been baptized is I want to be committed to a church community that I will love and serve. I want to  be a part of a community and stand proud as I declare my faith to the church. Albeit, it feels intimidating potentially getting baptized in front of a congregation that generally baptizes kids between second and fourth grade.
  2. I also want to choose a church that will be able to help me minister to my parents. The purpose of the retreat was to set our hearts on missions, and right now, my mission field is my family. Paul reminded me of that. The church I choose needs to be a place where I can invite my family into and feel loved and accepted. It needs to have a solid cantonese speaking community. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a factor for me in choosing a church, but it’s still really important to me.

I’ve always disliked when people who choose not to attend an event because a lack of other people attending, but I might have to make an exception in this case because choosing a church is wholly dependent on the community. I’m beginning to love this community, and I love challenges.

God, please give me grace and wisdom in choosing where to be.