Two Week Wait

God’s perfect timing

God’s timing is perfect.  But we all know that it’s hard to believe all the time.  I think it’s hard because He uses trials and tribulations as part of the faith building process.

In College, all of my peers “knew” that I would be among the first of us to get married and have lots of children.  Ironically, they were wrong.  After years of heartbreaks and bad decisions about relationships, I got to the point where I pretty much gave up.  It was only when I gave up on meeting the “ideal” woman that God sent Flora (my wife) to me.  My entire post-childhood life, I had put relationships on a pedestal. It was only when that idol was torn down, that God revealed His will to me.

But one trial led to the next.  We wanted a child right away.  We earnestly prayed for one.  In the first year of our marriage we thought that God had delivered. Flora had missed her monthly cycle by about a week.  I remember childishly putting my ear to her belly and asking “hello, how are you doing in there?”  I told my Sr. Pastor (in Vancouver back then) a couple of weeks later that we were pregnant.  Sadly, a few weeks after that, she bled.

Fast forward 2 years later.  I was in my last semester at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and we were praying about where to go after I graduate.  We were living in my sister’s basement.  Flora was taking care of my 5 year old Nephew and Nieces (1 and 3) from Monday to Thursday 6 am to 9pm (my sister worked hospital shift hours at Mass General, and my brother in law left and came home at the same time she did).  My brother in law was paying for my tuition and most of our living expenses in exchange for Flora taking care of their children.  Even though she was not rich, my wife working as a nanny paid for my tuition (at one of the best (and most expensive) Seminaries in North America!).  We had grown attached to the kids (especially the youngest).  Taking care of them was difficult but a lot of fun… However, In the midst of the ups and downs, we were sad overall, because we did not have any children that were truly our own.  For 2 years, Flora went through most of the hardships of rearing babies and toddlers, with barely any of the benefits.

At the start of our time in Boston, we went to the fertility clinic at Mass General Hospital. After a couple of cycles of IUI (a mid-level treatment), the infertility specialists at Mass General Hospital told us we needed a more aggressive type of treatment (IVF, the highest level of treatment they offered), but that Flora did not qualify as a candidate because she did not respond to fertility medication, she had premature ovarian failure.

At that point in our marriage, we started to argue about the dumbest things, but we both knew it stemmed from the discontent of not being able to have children.  We were at the point of despair.  We realized how difficult and painful the journey through infertility is.   Our hope was crushed.

Fast forward almost 2 more years.  We were settled down at FKBC, but Flora was getting “homelandsick” (yes, I made up that word, but MANY Koreans experience it…).  We started to look at options to try to have children again.  We thought “why not kill 2 birds with one stone?”.  We did not have much in the bank, but due to my brother in law’s generosity, we had 100K+ airmiles, which was enough for both me and Flora to get round trip tickets to Korea!

Flora left for Korea in September.  She visited the clinic shortly after she arrived in Korea.  We were both worried about whether or not she would be a candidate for treatment, so when we got the news that she was eligible, we were excited.  But we were also wary so we did not tell very many people.  I had leave for Korea a bit suddenly because I had to be at the clinic during the “window of opportunity”.  We went to the clinic together on November 13th.  For IVF, there is something called “the two week wait” (“TWW”, Google it).  The TWW was very painful.  I had to make a trip to Cambodia, and Flora got a high fever.  During the trip, I got very sick too.  When I got back to Korea (a few days before the two week wait was over) we were fearful once again.  Having a high fever during the two week wait is a very bad thing, the timing for us get sick was terrible.  At the end of the TWW, we went to the clinic again.  They did a blood test and a day later we got the results.  It was a BFP! (Big Fat Positive).  Flora is now 12 weeks pregnant (as of the first week of February).  Praise the LORD!

The trip home from Korea was exhausting, but joyful.  We were still a bit cautious about telling anyone though, the pain of the last four years was still heavy on our hearts.  It honestly was quite awkward when people came up to me and told me “congratulations!” or things like that…  We are truly very thankful for all the prayers and support!  But I had fear in my heart about miscarriage.  It’s one of those situations where the news was almost too good to be true.  Actually, the news is too good to be true by our worldly standards.  God Himself is the giver of life.  Every child that is conceived, regardless of fertility issues or not, is a miracle and a gift from God.  His Grace is truly Amazing.

Please pray for a healthy full term baby.

It’s still a struggle though.  What does the future hold?  How are things going to be provided for?  We don’t know for sure, but that’s why it’s called faith.  Even though life sometimes does not take the path you think it should, please be encouraged that God’s plan is perfect.  Our unforeseen circumstances and the poor decisions we make cannot derail God’s plan for our lives.  We need to be faithful because He is faithful, his timing is perfect.

Posted in Pastor's Blog

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I walked by a fountain in the mall the other day.  I was reminded of one of my childhood experiences with a shopping mall fountain.

I must have been about 6 years old.  I wandered off while my mom was shopping.  It was very common for me to wander off because my mom had to take care of my two sisters (by herself) as well.

I approached the fountain because it looked really cool.  There was a huge plaster whale in the middle of the fountain and it was shooting water out of it’s spout.  The whale’s mouth was open with a big smile.  It was a very inviting situation for a 6 year old.  For some reason I remember that I HAD to see what was inside of it’s mouth.

The water in the fountain came up just over my knees.  I noticed that in the water there was a lot of change.  I began to fill up my pockets with change.  By the time I got to the mouth of the whale, my pockets were overflowing with change.  I needed to climb up into the mouth of the whale, but my hands were also full of change.  I had no place to put the 2 dollars or so in coins in my hands, so like any smart (or extremely dumb) kid, I put the change that was in my hands into my mouth.  To this day (I’m 39 years old now) I remember the taste for some reason.

Inside the mouth of the whale was a small mountain of change (thinking back, it was probably at least $100 or so).  I felt like I had found a pirate’s treasure!  But my pockets were full, my mouth was full, and I could only take about 2 dollars in my hands.  I spat out the coins in my mouth.  I then began to empty my pockets of all the small change and proceeded to put only quarters into them.  When my pockets were full, I used the front of my shirt as a basket and scooped up as much $ as I could into it.  I was very excited because this was the first time I had come across free money.   The money that I could take with me was not enough.  I used my shirt to scoop money out of the whale’s mouth into the pool, thinking that I could take the money from the pool later.

By the time I started to climb out of the mouth of the whale, a crowd had developed around the fountain…  In the crowd was a security guard.  Needless to say, my first experiences with authority figures were not very positive.  Nor were the experiences with my parents after I was delivered to them (time and time again) by the authorities…

I write this month’s entry with not just to let you know a story from my childhood, but to remind you that God uses whoever He pleases, in spite of what that person has done in the past.  For some strange reason, God would call me years later to be a Pastor.

I have friends in full time ministry that have intentionally tried to burn down their church when they were children.  Other friends I know that are Pastors now that dropped out of school or were in Juvenile prison at one point in their lives.

God does not save us because we are good people.  He saves us and starts to make us good people.  If you’ve had a rough past, don’t ever let it stop you from following hard after God’s call on your life.

The Apostle Paul was the “chief of sinners”, Matthew was a tax collector, ½ of the disciples were fishermen (who probably cussed and drank all the time).  The list of sinners turned saint goes on and on.  God never condones sin, but He calls sinners.  He makes them holy.  We are Justified, and are being Sanctified for an eternal Glory.

 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”  Ephesians 5:8

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EM Radiation

Having seen a friend of mine on national news for a very sad reason has got me thinking again: Is sin more prevalent today than at any other time in history?

The crazy part of me wonders if part of it is due to all the EM radiation (EM as in Electromagnetic, not English Ministry… although the latter might be a contributor to all the craziness as well…) in the air today.  Cell phone towers that cover almost every square mile of the civilized/populated world (although you might disagree if you have a bad carrier), wifi in addition to the already existing radio waves.  For a brain that works on something similar to EM pulses, someone might make a connection (between erratic behavior and EM waves) one day.  But that is some crazy thinking…

Sin, since the Fall, has been a part of the human nature.  We live in a world that is so populated by us sinful people that we don’t deal with just our own sin, we deal with other people’s sin on a day to day basis (as we do in any community, but now on a grander scale).  If you’ve ever lived in a densely populated area, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Many people in crowded places seem grouchy and mean.

But has sin increased?

It might be that media coverage of it (and everything else) has increased, especially for people who the media want to expose as sinful.  When people are exposed, they often do whatever they can to cover up the story.  It’s interesting to note that one of the first interactions we see in the Bible between the man, woman and the serpent is one where the serpent tempts the man and the woman with a way to point out what is sinful.  Then, the first thing that the man and woman do is try to cover up their shame.

We live in a dark, broken world.  The church is to be light, and it’s to embrace broken people (even people marred in sin), but it’s not to condone the sin that people struggle with (as many in the church are doing at this present time).  We can’t cover up sin.  Jesus, by his blood, is the one who covered our sin.

Has sin increased though?  It’s very hard to be objective, especially on the scope of the world overall.  But I would argue that sin (and the tolerance of it) in the church has increased.

We read at the beginning of 2 Timothy 3 about what times will be like in the last days.  In Luke 17 we read about a similar teaching.  In Revelation 2-3 we also read about about the marks of sin in the church itself.

Are we in those days?  That question is beyond the scope of what I can fathom.  The Spirit knows.  We need to be faithful.

Many of us will fall into sin.  But for those of us who do, let us repent.  And for those of us who see what is exposed, let us forgive.  Even if we are living in the last days, we are to do our best to live as Christ did.  Let us not give up on this broken, sinful world.  We are strangers and aliens here yes.  But we need to live as Jesus did.  Forgiving, loving, and never giving up on a standard of holiness, his righteousness has been imputed to us.  Let us live as righteous people would.

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His Promise is true.

Easter has past, but many of us find that we are living like we did in the past. We need hope.

Resurrection, Jesus Christ did not rise just so that we could have eternal life. He rose so that the world would know that He has power over death and that he has conquered sin. God is glorified through the resurrection, He is greater. His promises ring true. With the resurrection, we are given the hope and promise of eternal life. If our hope is in Him, His promise is true.

This life keeps on raining down on us with momentary afflictions. But God shelters us, and we know that when all is said and done in this life, His promise is true. Sometimes, the roof feels like it caves in. Perhaps. But our God is greater. His promises ring true. He never promised no hardships, but he did promise freedom and eternal joy through His Son.

We see, touch and hear glimpses of joy. They remind us that we were created in God’s image which is a good thing because, our God is the most joyful being in the Universe. We have hope that joy in it’s fullness will be experienced when we are fully in the Kingdom, in His presence.

Until then, we have hope because of the Resurrection.

Posted in Pastor's Blog

Good Friday

As a child, I thought Good Friday was called “Good Friday” because it was the Friday before a long weekend (in Canada we had Easter Monday eh?) and it was always “Good” to have a long weekend.

After I learned a bit about Christianity, I did not really understand why Good Friday was called “Good Friday”, since Jesus Christ went through the torture of the Cross and, infinitely more terrible, the momentary separation from the Father.

When I became a Christian, the Spirit enlightened me through the Word (and listening to some very good preachers (John Piper, Chuck Swindoll, John Stott, Louie Giglio, Paul Washer, Tim Keller, etc)… Good Friday is good for us.  Our sin was atoned for by His finishing work on the cross.  Three days later he rose…  Because lives, we have hope.

Let us repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus.  We will wait upon the Lord.

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  1 Peter 2:22-25

Posted in Pastor's Blog

Adjusting to fast

I used to be fairly good at fasting from food.  When I was younger, 4 days was not a problem.  However, shortly after turning 30, I got a concussion from passing out because I lacked the energy to push open the door to my room (I stumbled and fell head first into the wall… it was the 3rd day of my fast).  I don’t do multiple day full food fasts anymore.

Our bodies change as we get older.  I’m still not that old, but I’m at an age when what little athletic ability I once had has rapidly dwindled, and my mind does not seem to be as sharp as it once was.  It’s a time for adjustments.  If I don’t adjust physically (perhaps picking up some new sports?), I’ll continually look like a fool (on the court).  If I don’t adjust mentally, I’ll end up with a lot of very unhappy church members (due to my forgetting everything about everything).

Adjustments…  During seasons when life is difficult, or when things change, we must adjust.  God does not change, but we do.  If we are Biblically grounded and Spirit led, the adjustments that we make can’t help but to lead us closer to where He wants us to be.

As you fast this season of Lent, meditate on how you can make changes in your life that will enable you to study the Word more in depth.  There will be times in your life where an event (like Passion, or a Retreat) or an ecstatic experience won’t give you a Spiritual high or make you feel closer to God.  We must be able to adjust as we mature spiritually (not to say that people who are blessed by concerts and charismatic experiences are not mature!).

Some questions that we can ask ourselves in order to help us adjust are:

How is my heart? (do I long for more of God?)

When was the last time I really dug into the Word?

How are my relationships? The ones that will last? (with your spouse, children, siblings, parents, friends?)

Am I really involved in my Church community?

How is my prayer life?

How is my giving life? (not just financially)

Am I submitting to Christ in all areas of my life?

As we fast, let’s realize that it might be time to adjust.  It’s time to make some changes.

Posted in Pastor's Blog

Shovel your snow… Please!

The winters in Canada were cold, especially where I lived (from age 9 to 18 I lived in Calgary, Alberta).  There was always snow and ice on the road and sidewalks (don’t listen to people that tell you things like “oh, Canadian cities don’t have ice on the roads because they are plowed”… rubbish!  There was always a layer of hard packed snow or ice on all but the main roads.  The plows just keep it from becoming a snow field).  The sides of the roads always had snow banks (made by the snow plows that cleared the streets) that were often well over 6 feet high (some winters they would roar up around 12ft!).  6 feet might not seem that high to some, but we were in elementary school and our average height was probably around 4 feet tall.  I remember how my friends and I used to go from door to door in our neighborhoods and ask if people wanted their walkways shoveled.  We would make about $5 a walkway and a bit more if we had to do the driveway.  Business was good.

The hardest part of shoveling walkways and driveways was, however, the snow banks made by the plows.  In order for cars to get out of their driveways, we had to dig through the snow banks.  Often the snow banks froze over and were solid ice.  We usually avoided the houses that had not been shoveled for a while, because the snow had accumulated due to not regularly shoveling, and the snow banks were just too big.  We called the houses that did not get their driveway shoveled regularly “cheap”, and we called the snow banks in their driveway “icebergs” (because they were huge mountains of ice!).

Often we would start snow wars.  We would shovel snow at each other really fast, the rule was that you could not move your feet.  The loser would be the first one to get buried in the snow.  It’s actually very fun to get buried in the snow.  Try it… just make sure there are enough people (whom you trust!) around you to dig you out.

But, although we had fun, sometimes we would try to tackle shoveling a “cheap” house when we wanted a challenge.  The icebergs seemed impenetrable.  They were just too big and strong for us to break.  In those cases, we would often call upon my friend’s big brother.  He would come with a large tool (sometimes a gardening pick, sometimes his beat up Chevy) and smash up what he could of the iceberg.  When the iceberg was in pieces, we were able to clear it.  The problem with my friend’s big brother was that he would take all the money we had at the time.  If we did not have much money to offer him, he would bury us in the snow… being buried by my friend’s big brother was not fun…

It may be hard for some (most) who live down here to picture the above descriptions, but they do point to something that we all go through: Our Christian walk.

In order for us to grow as Christians, we often have to do a lot of shoveling to clear the driveway (things in our own hearts).  If our driveways are not clear, we can’t go anywhere!  The longer we leave the driveway of our heart unattended, the harder the driveway will be to clear.  We might even get to a point where there is a large, impenetrable obstacle in our hearts (like an iceberg at the end of a Calgary driveway) that keeps us from growing, or makes us backslide.

If that’s the case, we need someone, something to come break the obstacle.  Jesus can smash your iceberg.  He tells us to walk by faith, and to keep our hearts filled constantly with the Spirit.  He also reminds us that we are to pray without ceasing, and that we are to confess our sins to one another.  If you look at the Greek (original language the New Testament is written in), you’ll see that much of the language describing the Christian life is in the “ongoing” tense.  We need to keep our hearts clean.

Some of us have huge icebergs in our drive way.  If that’s the case, we need to call Jesus.  Jesus won’t bully you, like my friend’s big brother, but he does have the ability to smash your icebergs.   And he tells us that, with faith, we can even move mountains.

Let’s make 2013 a year where mountains are crushed and moved.

Posted in Pastor's Blog