to live is Christ, to die is gain

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. -Psalm 27:4

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Sleepless

Another sleepless night. I do feel tired, but something keeps me from closing my eyes… a combination of anxiety, restlessness, discontentment. I’m anxious about starting another day of work and battling temptation. I am itching with the desire to be with people, to create art, to do something that makes my humanity feel more significant. I am discontent where I am and impatient to see the desires of my heart realized.

I never liked to sleep as a kid because sleeping meant I couldn’t play anymore. I could never wrap my head around the fact that my toys would still be there the next day, ready to be played with again. All I cared about was the fact that I wanted to play more right now. Sleep felt like surrender, and staying awake was my great rebellion…but against whom?

Lord, help me surrender to You. Make sleep a sweet thing to me, remembering that Your mercies are new every morning. Let me not rebel by wrestling the hours of the day from Your hands. Humble me, but do so with a lullaby. Amen.

Today’s Truths

Dear Lord,

Today was long. You felt far, yet I know You were with me…and so I must ask myself whom I think You to be.

What did I lack today in the moments I thought I lacked You?

  • Comfort at 奶奶’s funeral… it was a dark, gloomy day. As more and more people went up to speak to 奶奶,I felt increasingly detached. Everyone was so busy and distracted with the logistics of running a funeral…I hardly had the time to just stop and say goodbye. I couldn’t bring myself to move away from her grave when everyone began to drive home. I felt there was much more to say, but that anything left would be heard only by God now. I wish I had more time… I wish that very deeply. Perhaps I am afraid there is never enough time.
  • A feeling of security in being with church friends. I had just begun to get to know everyone more deeply, and now, I feel shortchanged. The extrovert deep (DEEP) inside of me was finally starting to appear. But now I have to stay home… hmmmm… darn.

What is the truth about You in those moments?

  • You were with me. You heard me. I may not have had enough time to say everything I wanted to say, but I have an eternity with You. In that eternity, I know You’ll have all the answers. I won’t even need to be comforted anymore, because there will be no tears, no sadness. What a strange truth… a future I long for yet cannot fully comprehend. But I can hope for it, knowing You have promised it to those who trust in Christ.
  • I have been repeating this to myself over and over again, but I will say it again: we don’t just go to church – we are the church. During this hard time of not being with one another physically, I can begin to grasp what Paul wrote in so many of his letters when he was imprisoned… he longed to see the church, to be an encouragement to them and to be encouraged by them. But he knew whatever the Lord willed was best.

Lord, help these truths permeate my mind in every moment of the day, regardless of the circumstances that threaten to discourage Your servant. In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

Fear to Faith

What is fear?

Fear is never making a decision because every decision seems to be the wrong one.

Fear is not being able to think past this moment, yet not being able to think about anything but the future.

Fear is control over everything you can control, and utter devastation over everything you cannot.

Fear is wishing for death because wouldn’t it just be easier?

I have lived in fear for all of my life. I have been afraid to make anyone unhappy, believing that their unhappiness is a measure of my worth. I have been afraid, not just of being seen as incompetent, but of being truly and helplessly incompetent for the rest of my life.

Where has fear led me?

Fear has led me to debilitating indecisiveness and constant regret.

Fear has led me to multiple visits to doctors who can only prescribe me medication to stop the symptoms, not the source.

Fear has led me to quitting things I’ve loved in order to do things I’ve felt obligated to do.

Why is fear wrong?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?””

Hebrews 13:6

Fear over circumstances under God’s sovereign hand is a seemingly logical, yet totally illogical response. It is a sin and a lie of Satan, the Accuser, who says that God is powerless and does not love me.

The seemingly illogical yet only logical response, then, is faith.

The opposite of fear is…

Faith is believing that any decision regarding matters other than sin cannot be the wrong decision if one is within the fold of God (although, God may still choose to redeem situations caused by sin. It is also believing in the finality and completion of forgiveness already purchased by Christ for those who trust in him.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Faith is believing that God will accomplish and has already accomplished what He has set out to do, even when I cannot perceive the outcome of my desperate circumstances.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11: 1

And faith is believing that God, simply put, will not give up on me. I cannot lose my salvation because God is the one who secures it, and He cannot lie. No matter how alone I feel in the world, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Week 3 Student Teaching Report

1. Mon 1/20 – No School; Tue 1/21 – 3 hrs (sick in the morning); Wed 1/22 – 5.5 hrs; Thu 1/23 – 7 hrs; Fri 1/24 – 7 hrs 

2. Discuss what you have observed and taught during the week. 

Mrs. C tasked me with leading warm-ups in every period this week, in addition to teaching complete lessons to Girls’ Chorus. After discussing with Mrs. C what each class would be working on in the coming weeks, I chose a few relevant warm-ups to help students develop the skills necessary for their specific repertoire. These warm-ups included techniques for developing proper vowel shape, good breath support, and clear diction. I also began teaching a piece called “Soldier Boy” with Chamber Choir and “Panis Angelicus” with Girls’ Chorus. Given Chamber Choir’s skill level and maturity level, I was able to move through the material quickly with them and simply monitor student-led sectionals. Girls’ Chorus, however, is comprised of beginning singers, so I focused on the basics like identifying solfege and rhythms of the first two phrases. I wanted to challenge them beyond just being able to read music, so I asked them some guiding questions that would optimize their learning. For example, before having them sing through the solfege of a particular phrase, I asked them to describe in small groups what the general shape of the phrase was. After figuring out that it descended, then skipped up a fifth interval, they were able to sing the solfege very smoothly.

Lastly, I got to observe Mrs. C as she “stole” one of my warm-up ideas. She liked the challenge it presented her older students, so she made it even more difficult and divided them into teams to accomplish it. It was amazing to see my idea be improved upon and to see how much the students enjoyed the challenge.

3. Please write out in detail information what your guiding teacher has conveyed to you in conversations and the specific recommendations provided to you.

I believe the most valuable feedback I have received thus far from Mrs. C was her response to my first time leading warm-ups. I spent a lot of time preparing my students for an activity that I anticipated would be a challenge. I gave them all the warnings I could think of for concepts they might mess up on. However, by the time they tried the activity, they still struggled. Mrs. C’s advice for me, though she acknowledged my desire to equip the students well, was to actually let them make mistakes sometimes. It made me think back to the term “desirable difficulties,” which we have discussed in seminar.  

4. Reflect on what you have learned about teaching and learning during the week, including:

a) The teaching techniques (at least three) that you have learned from your guiding teacher.

  • To help students internalize the articulation of a piece, Mrs. C had them punch the air every time they sang an accented note and poke the air every time they sang a staccato note. This added physical aspect helped them exaggerate the written articulation and hear the clear difference in sound, and soon they were able to perform it without relying on the movements.
  • After having students adjudicate the class’s recording of a piece, Mrs. C asked one student to come to the front of the room and assess the class himself, live. She asked him specific questions like “On a scale of 1 to 5, what would you rate their crescendo?”
  • I saw Mrs. C practice the advice she gave me about allowing students to make mistakes as a learning strategy. When introducing a new, more challenging warm-up to the students, she gave the directions once, then began. Students who did not perform it correctly realized it, and Mrs. C allowed them ten seconds to discuss with a partner how they might strategize to overcome the problem. If Mrs. C had warned them about that spot prior to beginning the exercise, they would not have felt the mistake themselves, and would not have analyzed the mistake as quickly. 

b) The very specific classroom management techniques that you see being employed.

  • Instead of asking students to stand, Mrs. C just slowly raised her hand in the air and students got the hint without groaning or complaining.
  • Mrs. C said the instructions for a vocal warm-up twice, then began the exercise knowing that some students were not listening. The students who were not listening quickly realized their mistake when their voices stood out. She then asked one student to repeat the instructions and tried the exercise again, this time with everyone’s full attention.
  • When transitioning to another activity, Mrs. C not only instructs students to sit down, but proposes a question for them to ponder. Then, immediately upon sitting down, they’re expected to answer. This minimizes the need to regather their attention after they have sat down and had the chance to start chatting.

5. Provide an action plan for the following week of student-teaching.

Next week, I will be continuing a review with Chamber Choir on “Soldier Boy” and with Girls’ Chorus on what they have learned so far on “Panis Angelicus.” Chamber Choir has been progressing quickly due to their skill at sight-reading, but I believe I can challenge them even more by encouraging them to look beyond the music theory and sing more expressively. Girls’ Chorus is going at a steady pace, but they have only sung solfege syllables on rhythm so far, so I hope to now incorporate the vowel warm-up we have been doing into the lesson and teach them the correct pronunciation of the Latin lyrics.

Teaching Log: Week 1, Part 2

Friday, January 10. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

  • Seriously, every time my alarm goes off at 6am, I feel like death. I called Andrew on my way down to my car and hearing his voice was very comforting. He has a job interview today, so my motivation became the fact that we will both have work to do today! He encouraged me last night and prayed for me to have a spiritual perspective for everything. Am I loving the students for the Lord’s sake?
  • Adjusted the icebreaker activity and improved it greatly by giving students 10 seconds rather than 2 minutes to think about their favorite fast food items. As I went on, I even started giving students no time to prepare their answer since taking attendance allows most of them time to think anyway. Another adjustment I made in period 3 was to quiet the students down before I hand them back to Ms. C. I remember learning once that the state you leave a class in makes a huge difference for the next teacher responsible for them.
  • Boys’ Chorus is usually quite difficult to manage. There are a few who try to quiet the class down on our behalf, but I’m not sure if that really helps. It makes me wonder what I’d do as a mom if I had sons…
  • Something I need to work on but I’m not sure how yet – Ms. C and many experienced teachers have this ability to point out certain students while managing the class as a whole. For example, while Boys’ Chorus was warming up, Ms. C complimented two students. I doubt she could hear their individual voices, but they were doing clear hand motions along with their vocal warm-up.
  • Note to self: have students evaluate each other! Super effective.
    • Have students come up with their own class rules, thinking to themselves first then coming to a consensus with their sections.

Seminar

One question: what is going on?

Teaching Log: Week 1, Part 1

Monday, January 6, 2020.

The beginning of the new decade intimidated me more than any New Year ever has. Not only am I returning to UCLA for my last couple quarters, but I’m also beginning a new student teaching assignment at a middle school choir program. My biggest prayer on the day I moved back into my apartment was that God would help me to not be anxious, and to grow in gratitude.

Today, I met with my guiding teacher, Ms. C. She had taught a class at UCLA before so I was rather familiar with her teaching style. This was more of an opportunity for her to get to know me and establish our plans for the semester. When she asked me which high school I attended, we discovered that she was in the same cohort as my high school choir teacher in grad school! I felt at ease, realizing that God had gone before me even in this regard.

What will it be like to wake up early every single day to teach? Certainly it will be different than basically choosing when my classes take place. I wonder if I’ll enjoy it.

The Lord will sustain me.

Tuesday, January 7. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

  • Got enough sleep, but it’s still hard to get up at 6ish. I really don’t need to get out of bed until 6:30 if I have everything ready to go, so I give myself half an hour to just lay in bed and gather my thoughts/pray until I really have to go.
  • Ms. C introduced me as the new student teacher and encouraged every class to put their best foot forward with me as a fresh start.
    • Mrs. P (our accompanist) is kind and asks me questions to get to know me. I love how Ms. C is kind of absent-minded like me; it’s comforting to see that someone with my kind of personality can be both a respected and beloved teacher.
  • Lots and lots of names to learn, but I was diligent about writing tiny notes down to help me match each student’s name to their general appearance/personality.
  • I helped pass out some papers today without being asked. To me, it was a small thing, but Ms. C complimented me for jumping right in.
  • After school, my co-teacher from last quarter and I were both craving ice cream, so we stopped by Baskin Robbins. It’s nice to have a peer to share this experience with, but also to have independence from my peers since I won’t necessarily teach alongside anyone in the future.
  • Tasks: to develop an icebreaker activity for students to get to know me and vice versa.

Wednesday, January 8. 9:30am-2:30pm [5 hrs]

  • It’s a late start day, so I got to “sleep in” until about 8am.
    • Ms. C assigned me my first piece to teach and conduct! I’ll be teaching the Chamber Choir kiddos (the most advanced group). I mapped out the piece in my trusty notebook and discovered several cool bits that I can challenge them to think about. I’m super excited to teach it!
  • My meal prepping has been good, which actually makes a huge difference. Food is one of my only comforts when I’m out in the field, so if I have good snacks, I’m in a good mood. I brought tiny tacos for lunch today and it felt so good to chow down on them once the students left for lunch.
  • I took attendance for every class today! Every time, Ms. C said I did much better than she did at pronouncing their names. This one girl had a very special name, and I recognized it from a book so I said it correctly. She was so happy!

Thursday, January 9. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

  • Felt pretty tired this morning (granted, I only got 6 hours of sleep since RtD rehearsal went til late). But I discovered that as soon as I got my food ready and hopped into my car, I was excited to start another day.
  • Tried out my mini icebreaker activity with Chamber Choir, and they seemed to love it! I asked them to name a fast food item they identified most with. All the boys said some kind of hamburger or fries, and most of the girls said something along the lines of “water, because I like to eat healthy.”
    • When Ms. C asked me about my response, I said “Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets, because I love Chick-fil-A but can’t eat gluten.” She yelped in surprise and said, “Neither can I!!!!! We’ll talk, we’ll talk.”
    • I think I’ll alter the activity by… 1) providing less time for them to think because they got pretty rowdy after about 10 seconds, 2) asking what their favorite fast food item is rather than what they identify most with, because most people didn’t know how to answer.

Delivered from the Pit

Lord, if it is Your will, let this work encourage the saints. If nothing I say is to bear any fruit, let Your Word alone shine through.

… so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

For much too long, I have tried to control my life. Then, late one night, I tried to end it.
What drove me down this path of destruction? How did I end up on the street, my mind blank and my heart numb?

Yet God has restored me onto the path of righteousness, through the counsel of others, through Scripture, through worship, and ultimately through His Son.

This is how God humbled me. This is how God delivered me from the Pit.

The Fear of Losing Control

Day in and day out, I devise my plan. I say to myself, I feel this way, and so I must act. If I do not, I will surely lose the things I treasure most: the attention, acceptance, and approval of man.

I make one last attempt to keep my treasure, but this time my energy is spent. My mind is cloudy, my eyes are glazed over. I get up and begin to run.

I hear voices but cannot make them out. I see headlights but cannot move.

Unharmed, I sit on the side of the road. I am a shell – so empty yet so contaminated with sin. Unable to start over, yet unable to go to Heaven…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:24

The Fear of Abandonment

I wake up in a start to my alarm at 7:30am. My heart is pounding. I had just woken up from a nightmare – no, several nightmares. What were they? Several faces, angry faces…
For a split second, I am calm again, remembering that I am safe in my bed. Then everything rushes back to me.

Last night – last night. I was lost last night. I had hoped to be found in the morning, I had hoped that the memory of the dark sky and wandering people would disappear into the air by morning.

Surely I have pushed God away for the last time.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.”

Isaiah 43:1-4

The Gospel I proclaim – does it not apply to me as well? Even now, in the deepest of sorrows over my sin, I have peace with God. Did not Christ see this very moment as he suffered on the cross? And did not Christ say of this very sin which I deserve Hell for, “It is finished”?

He has redeemed me, He has called me by name, I am His. I am precious in His eyes, and honored, and He loves me.

The Fear of Sleep

I am home, yet I have no home. I lay on my childhood bed, eyes wide open. I do not know what lays on the other side… My conscience accuses me in the day, my subconscious accuses me in the night. One thought comes to mind before I drift into darkness: Who follows me into my sleep?

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

Proverbs 3:24-26

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear,
There is not night if Thou be near.
O, may no earthborne cloud arise,
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.

Abide with me from morn’ till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live.
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.

John Keble (1792–1866)

The Lord guards me in the world where I cannot fight. He sustains me as I sleep. If I wake, it is because the Lord has deemed it good for me to live another day. And if I die, it is because he has deemed it good for my battle with sin to be over.

The Love of Myself

I confess everything. I am laid bare before my dear friend. I cannot look her in the eye. Yet her heart breaks for me. She looks at me with compassion. “Pride is at the heart of this,” she says. “You only try to end your life if you believe you have the right to do so.”

She is right. And what a sweet relief that she is! I needed to be brought low in order that I might see how I have failed my Savior, in order that I might cling to him once again.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Christ was humbled to the point of death. He placed his life in the hands of the Father in order to reconcile me to Him. Yet how did I respond? I tried to wrestle my life out of His hands. It was not humility that led me to death, but death that led me to humility.

I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Isaiah 44:6

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:5-6

Have mercy on me, God. Let me not forget the day You delivered me from the Pit.

Untitled_Artwork

I sit in this room, not the next.

You’ve prepared this room for me,

I need not wonder who I’ll find next door.

The End of a Season

I came to the bittersweet end of a few things today… I had my very last counseling session – something that was unexpected, yet very timely. I also wrote in the very last page of both my sermon notebook and my journal. I should be studying for a midterm at the moment, but I found it much more pressing to share with you all that God has done for me. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I have gathered from the sermons I’ve heard, from the prayers I’ve prayed, and from the counseling I’ve received:

Highlights from Sermons (since September 2017)

  • Our response to trials isn’t what saves us, but Christ alone.
  • Good leadership is leading with love. Leading with love is hoping the best so that those who follow you are built up and encouraged.
  • Forgive relentlessly.
  • There is no greater, no more intimate bond than to be in Christ.
  • We are either slaves to sin, or slaves to Christ.
  • Woe is me, for I am undone and my lips are unclean!
  • We are the adopted sons and daughters of God.
  • The fact that we even have a conscience is a sign of God’s mercy.
  • We are all hypocrites. We may boast in nothing but the cross.
  • In trials, we are to have an attitude of joy.
  • There is such a thing as incorrect worship.
  • Live with a worshipful attitude.
  • Death shall not do us part (favorite sermon of the year – Abner Chou on Hosea 13:14, June 9, 2018)
  • Sin followed one trespass, salvation followed many
  • Speak the truth, and speak the truth in love
  • True peace, though interrupted by doubt, cannot be shaken

Self-Reflections from Journaling (since July 2017)

  • I have replaced complaining with thankfulness and praise
  • I have looked less and less to my own devices to conquer sin, and instead looked to Christ for strength and humility
  • My tendency to be anxious has nearly disappeared in most areas of my life, being replaced by an inexplicable peace in God
  • I have gone from being stubborn and mistrusting of the Word to being fully dependent on the truth for guidance
  • My desperate pleas for peace have been answered time and time again
  • Every anxiety of mine has been put to shame, leading me to repentance
  • I have gotten into a habit of repenting often and keeping short accounts with God
  • My fear of what others think of me is slowly being replaced by a confidence in the peace I have with God
  • My jealousy of those around me who share similar talents has been replaced with a joy that they have something in common with me, and that God has given us gifts at all
  • I have gone from being too afraid and selfish to care for younger girls to loving them and seeking to be their friend because I see how the Savior cares for me through the older women in my life
  • Jesus is my treasure

Lessons from Counseling (since May 2018)

  • The Word of God is truly the only thing that can counsel and restore one’s soul
  • When I feel depressed, I must remember God’s truth that He will restore my joy
  • Our decisions either please the flesh or please God. Pleasing the flesh always leads to death and destruction; pleasing God always leads to life. Pleasing the flesh feels easy but gets harder; pleasing God feels hard but gets easier.
  • His yoke is easy, his burden is light. “It’s not hard to do what’s right when are walking in the Father’s light!”
  • can be content in all circumstances through Christ who strengthens me.
  • The things we become anxious about ultimately end in death. Bad grades? No job. No job? No money. No money? No food. No food? Death. But God has said that He will provide our needs – “what we shall eat or drink or wear” (Matthew 6:31). Therefore, every anxiety is silenced in light of God’s sovereign power and care for His people.
  • Our emotions either glorify ourselves or glorify God. It is possible to be angry and still please God, if it is a righteous anger.
  • The truth does not change even when I doubt.
  • Jealousy originates with pride. The only way to extinguish pride is to learn humility by the ultimate example of Christ.
  • Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
  • When I am diligent to study the Scripture and fight sin, God can better use me to counsel others to do the same.

 

 

For When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

It is almost 3am and I absolutely should be sleeping but I feel this must be said.

These past two years have been a battle for me – to understand why I am a Christian, to understand on what or whom my salvation depends on even when my faith seems to falter. I have allowed criticism from fellow believers about my life choices to breed bitter tears and desperate questions deep within me… Why do they seem more godly than me? Why am I the only one struggling with depression, seeing a biblical counselor? Do I not trust God enough? Am I even saved?

Philippians 4:6, (a verse that would not be so drilled into my head if it were not for biblical counseling!), tells me to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything and present my concerns to God. So I prayed about this fear of being lesser than other believers and of having seemingly weaker faith. And God was faithful to answer.

My sister and I have been studying the Old Testament book of Daniel this summer. Today’s passage told the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace when they refused to worship the Babylonian gods and the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. When King Neb looked into the furnace, he saw four men – the three he cast in, and “one like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). All were completely untouched and unharmed by the fire. There was no doubt, even in the eyes of King Neb, that their God was the only God who could do the impossible.

I was then reminded of a sermon I once heard from a young youth pastor years ago. He pointed out that God’s miracles never left room for doubt. When Jesus calmed the storm, the wind and the waves stopped immediately. When Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, Lazarus had already been dead for 3 days…(also he stank). When Peter and John healed a lame man in Christ’s name, the man didn’t struggle upward until he could walk…he leapt to his feet as he praised God. Yet Jesus himself, the Son of God who shares in all of God’s divine attributes, did not seem powerful or impressive…especially to those who expected a great and powerful king to overthrow Roman rule. What a paradox – that Jesus Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8), yet achieved the greatest miracle of all time.

Sometimes I am extremely saddened that the Gospel doesn’t seem to pierce my heart or bring me to tears more often like it did this evening. I am tempted to think, I must not be a Christian if the Gospel doesn’t convict me every second of every hour of every day. But God has taught me again and again that the power of the Gospel does not depend on the constancy of my passion for Christ – it is solely rooted in the power of God which will never fade, never dim, never be put out. Therefore I can boldly say that if I have a weaker faith than my neighbor, I do not have to be discouraged. Instead, I can rejoice because Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. Indeed, like Paul, I can “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” And yes, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10-12).