We’re in the season of Lent right now. It started Mar 5 this year and will end at Easter. It is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter (which is on the first Sunday after the full moon, after the Spring Equinox). Lent is a time to commemorate the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before He began His ministry. There He was tempted by the devil three times but He overcame by the power and Word of God. I haven’t studied this but I feel it also points to an even greater temptation He felt…to NOT go to the cross. At the height of this very human feeling, the night before He was betrayed and led to the cross, He pleaded with God to take the cup (of God’s wrath) from Him, but still said “Not as I will, but as You will.” Words are insufficient in describing that kind of submission and obedience and trust in the Father.

Back to Lent…Christian observers of Lent originally fasted from any kind of rich foods (i.e. wine, meat, fat, sugar) for 40 days to commemorate Jesus’ period of fasting in the desert. This, in a way, lead to some serious binging of rich foods the day before Lent started…which brings us modern day festivals like Mardi Gras. I think the spirit of Lent is kinda lost in that….but anyways, we were encouraged by our pastor to observe Lent by giving up something that takes up undue attention and time in our lives so that we can make more room for God. To give something up so that God can fill it in with more of Himself. To break holds that things or people or practices might have in our lives so that we can have a better hold on God.

This year, I’ve chosen to give up Facebook. I’ve given this up in past Lenten seasons as well but I haven’t been as thoughtful about filling the time that would otherwise be used Facebooking with things of God. This time, I aim to pray for someone or pray over a situation every time I have the inclination to check Facebook. I must say…I pray a lot more now. Ha. But it’s been really good. There is less anxiousness through the day when I’m lifting everything to God in prayer. In submission and trust in God. I really want to keep this habit up even after Lent is over. Prayer is so critical to a life of faith. It is more powerful than any human word or action. It reaches out to and taps into the power of the Creator of the Universe! And because really, Facebook is SUCH a waste of time in comparison!

Consequences vs Punishment vs Discipline

(Image not mine)

Recently I had a heavy conversation with Dahn about consequences, punishment and discipline. Does God find ways to punish you…purposely withhold good things from you…because you displeased Him? Or is it just consequences…either of our wrong doing or someone elses. How about discipline from God? What leads to which in view of our spiritual walk with God? Keeping in mind too, that our spiritual lives cannot be separated from our physical lives…nor can our lives be separated from the lives around us.

I think we’re wrong to rank sins. “Well, doing this is better than doing that.” Choosing the better of two evils…is still evil. We should weep over someone who hates, as much as someone who lives in addiction or is abusive, as much as someone who lies. Sin = sin which deserves death. Not because God is mean, but because He is just. Real-life consequences of the various sins might differ in impact to our lives but consequences is NOT punishment. Consequences are natural results of laws being upheld or broken; whether laws of nature or laws of spirit. Spiritual laws are harder to discern and sort through…but I think of Deut 30:15-18:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

That’s spiritual law. Walk in obedience to God=life. Disobedience=destruction. Destruction isn’t the punishment…it’s the result of breaking spiritual law. Like burning your hand on the stove isn’t punishment…it’s the natural result of putting your hand on the stove. Spiritual consequences can carry into the 3rd or 4th generation. Look at effects of acoholism or teen pregnancies in familes. But that curse/chain of consequences can be broken as that person claims new life in Christ and starts to live in obedience. The consequence of that is God blessing them to a thousand generations. Obedience vs disobedience determines what consequences result.

Sometimes I’m tempted to believe that God is out to punish me, in addition to the consequences. But I keep reminding myself to humbly bear our consequences in the now, which isn’t punishment. I believe God knows our heart and is merciful too….so sometimes the consequence could be lifted as a result of that mercy. Or He blesses us so much more than we deserve as we’re living in true repentence and that’s His grace. God is slow to anger and doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. To believe God is out to get me is a false belief of God…perpetuated by the Enemy.

I think God’s discpline…could feel like punishment…but isn’t. Discipline brings about maturity and growth and good transformation whereas I think punishment is just to make you suffer. Make you pay. Was Joseph’s time in prison punishment? No. But it is part of God’s discipline and training for Joseph to be a good govenor of Egypt. God’s kindness was with Joseph IN prison…we’re apt to think God’s kindness would’ve kept Joseph FROM prison. This tells me to examine how I view trials/suffering as well as how I view God. And maybe if I’ve gotten nothing out of a difficult situation, then *I’m* the problem, punishing myself.

I’m reminded again of the saying, “God is more concerned about your character than your comfort.” So now when I find myself in some kind of uncomfortable/painful situation I go through these thoughts:

  1. Is this consequences for a sin of mine? If yes, confess, repent, bear the consequence with humility and start to live rightly.
    If not…perhaps it is part of the consequences of someone else’s sin which unfortunately, is never in isolation to that person. It’s an opportunity to practice grace and forgiveness. Or it could be a form of discipline and training. Or even a strange answer to prayer….
  2. Could this suffering be used for character development somehow? Absolutely! It grows patience, perserverence, hope, grace, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, etc etc. Take this time to learn well and be transformed!

On Lent and Facebook

I’m nearing the end of Lent and on my commitment to give up Facebook and Twitter for forty days. Wow…it was harder than I thought it would be. I wanted so badly to check my FB feeds. See what is going on in people’s lives. Or see what people might’ve commented when my blog post notifications go out. (I know at least one comment will ask why posts are still showing up on my wall when I’m fasting from FB…well, it was a notification from my blog. Not me! ha ha.) As for Twitter, I have thoughts and ideas and really interesting articles to share. I don’t have many followers but surely some of those things would be of interest to them. And who knows, maybe it will spread to the right person and change their life???

Really though, my contributions are really just adding to the noise that’s already out there. I recognize my need to see what people may have commented on my wall about my blog posts is really so I can respond or exert some influence back if it happens to be a negative comment.

There is a spiritual discipline of Silence according to Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline“. (I totally recommend this book by the way…these disciplines are HARD but so good for the soul.) Regarding Silence, the chapter points out how we want to speak in order to persuade, convince, influence, manipulate or control, the best we can, our listeners and readers. God may have spoke the universe into being with but a word, but we use many many words to try to nudge certain things to move in our favor. It also usually doesn’t work. Being Silent then, is to give that attempt to control completely to God. It’s saying, “I won’t defend myself because God is my Defender.” Or “I won’t try to convince them for my cause because God will provide who or what’s needed.” But, giving up control is hard. As usual.

And regarding not knowing what people are up to…not using FB means you really have to be intentional about making and maintaining that relationship. It forces me to be active in seeking someone else out as opposed to passively sitting back, scrolling through my feed until I see something interesting enough to get me to click “Like” or add a comment. But it’s SO convenient that way! I’m challenged to be more active in my relationships.

So…what’ll happen when Lent is over?

Well, I will be happy to check FB and Twitter again. But I will try very hard to not let FB and Twitter fill every free moment. Perhaps it’s also time to clean house and unfriend/unfollow those whom I really have no connection to. It’s not about the numbers. Frankly, I don’t like how Facebook has that kind of pull and control on me…or how it has all this information about me. I hope to be more mindful about practicing the discipline of Silence on and offline as well as being more active in building relationships.

Lent Update

(Image not mine)(Image Not Mine)

It’s been a week since Ash Wednesday and since starting my fast from Facebook and Twitter for Lent. I’m definitely still feeling the pull of wanting to check my wall and scroll through my feeds. Three days in I remembered I could log out of the FB app on my phone so I wouldn’t see the notifications. And amazingly, my battery life has nearly doubled. It’s doing a lot of background things in there!!

While I’m conscious of the goal to fill my life with more purposeful activities to occupy the space created from fasting, I feel I still haven’t trained my head to think of what those purposeful activities could be. A disciplined and diligent life is hard…but I can see how I might be a lot more productive as a result. That’s something I want to be.

I’m also seeing just how much FB and Twitter has invaded life and that makes me more determined to NOT give it any more power (or information) than it already has on me. Grr!

Told you it’s normal

December results….

TSH = 3.5    (normal is 0.2-4.0)

T4    = 15.3    (normal is 10.5-20.0)

STILL normal!! Yay!

There are days when I can hear my heart beating behind my ear…and then I start to get nervous that I’m sliding into hyperthyroid territory again. Add to that my resting heart rate has crept up to about 80 bpm…which is higher than I like it to be. The more I think about it, the more I feel stressed about it. So what I’m trying to do is get a grip on my thoughts to trust in God that He’s taking care of this…and to NOT stress out!

Easier said than done. But really happy to see the normal results.

I didn’t post any New Year’s resolutions this year because I really don’t have any; however you can say I’ve set some broad goals related to health for this and every year. And those are:

  1. Find proper rest…firstmost rest in God such that my faith isn’t performance or achievement driven. This is the tendency I’d say, for many Asians.
  2. Developing a proper diet…now that I know what vegetables naturally suppress my thyroid and what naturally stimulates it, I need to make it a regular part of my diet. I’ve also learned some HUGE benefits of eating less meat, so I’m working towards being half vegetarian. =)
  3. Stay active and creative…stress is a part of life, but creativity and activity is a positive outlet for that stress. I have to be mindful and intentional about this. Oh and disciplined. Which I’m not. Sigh.

Back to the thyroid….the next six months are when I have the highest chance of relapsing into hyperthyroidism, at which point the doctor will strongly suggest I get the RAI done. Until I’ve gone two years (I think) with no further occurences, I won’t be considered in remission. So…really praying to remain healthy.