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13 Words that Changed My Life

Written By Stacy Joy, USA

There are certain moments in life we will never forget. We remember these times vividly because they have a profound impact on the way we view the world, ourselves, and how we approach life.

I can point back to a few key people and events that have influenced me significantly, but one moment in particular sticks out. At the age of 14, my parents handed me a book list to complete before the new school term started. I initially thought my life was over—what 14-year-old wants to do that during a break from school?

The torture of this assignment subsided though when I read the book Don’t Waste Your Life by the great preacher John Piper. A single line in it changed my understanding of God, myself, and the world around me: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

These 13 words answered life’s biggest question: what is life all about? I knew that I loved God and needed to tell others about Him, but I hadn’t realized that every single part of my life, not just attending church or reading Scripture, is to be directed towards one goal: glorifying my Creator (1 Cor 10:31, Isa 43:6-7). This includes the movies I watch, the way I talk to others, what I allow my mind to dwell on, the way I approach relationships, and even the way I spend money. I had to stop and ask myself, am I making God’s name famous through all these?

Every machine is made for a specific reason; to accomplish the purpose of its maker. Similarly, God created us for a purpose, and that is to bring Him glory. A machine that is not doing what it was created to do is broken. When we start living for the glory of ourselves, seeking our own praise and recognition above the Lord’s, we become like a broken machine—not accomplishing the purpose we were made for. As a result, we feel empty, lack purpose, and anxiously pursue a meaning to our lives.

The truth is that God created us in His absolute wisdom and grace to not only accomplish a purpose but to be ultimately satisfied as we are accomplishing it. This reality makes life fully satisfying. Satisfying, but not easy. Living for God’s glory above all else is truly the most difficult thing we will ever be called to do, yet it is the most rewarding task to faithfully fulfill (Psa 16:11).

Sometimes in ministry and in life, the discomfort of not meeting the expectations of those around us in our quest for God’s glory is overwhelming and burdensome. As a new, young pastor’s wife, I have to regularly choose between glorifying Him and seeking my own glory in the choices I make.

I also faced this battle growing up as a pastor’s kid, especially on an occasion in my early 20s when I was faced with a difficult decision. After getting out of a destructive relationship, God grabbed my attention like never before and my need for Him became insatiable. Such a radical change happened in my heart and soul during this period of time that it made me wonder if I had been converted earlier in life as I had previously thought; a question that I still do not have a definitive answer to.

I decided to get baptized again, knowing that if I had only just become a believer, getting baptized post-conversion was walking in faithful obedience to God (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 2:38a, 1 John 2:4-5). So, in front of a 1,500-strong congregation who had watched me grow up, teach their children, speak into their lives, and be their pastor’s daughter, I got baptized once again—thus admitting to everyone that I may have only just recently been saved. From a human standpoint, this was absolutely humiliating. But I was able to boldly and joyfully do so knowing that my goal was not to win their approval; it was to be faithful to my God in Heaven.

I want to share two of the most powerful ways I believe this concept of glorifying God can and should shape our everyday lives.

 

We can have peace amid an ever-changing world

If nothing matters more than glorifying God with our lives, things become pretty clear. In a world where black and white has been turned to gray and the existence of absolute truth itself is being attacked, Christians can have peace. We rest assured knowing that we glorify God by studying, understanding, and affirming His Word and truth above all other religious beliefs, scientific claims, or cultural trends.

To keep these truths forefront in my life, I have found that I must spend time immersing myself in Scripture, reading books written by Biblically-grounded solid evangelicals, and listening to those whom I trust as I desire to remain teachable and pursue being conformed into the image of Christ. If God is glorified most when we are most satisfied in Him, studying Him and drawing closer to Him is the most valuable thing any of us can do with our time. Our minds so quickly become sponges for the deception peddled by our culture (Prov 4:23), so our time with God must be prioritized, guarded, and treasured. The beautiful part is that the more we seek God, the more our desire to seek Him intensifies. This, coupled with the daily crucifying of indwelling sin guarantees that peace before a holy God is attainable.

 

We can find our full satisfaction, worth, and pleasure in glorifying and knowing Christ

It doesn’t matter what others’ opinion of us is as long as we can answer the following two questions with a “yes”. One, does the way I am living please and glorify God Biblically, and two, am I finding my value and contentment in Christ alone? If we can answer these questions with a “yes” and are truly seeking to surrender ourselves to the daily call of glorifying God above all else, then our satisfaction will not be rooted in the fleeting opinions of man, but in knowing that God alone is pleased (Gal 1:10).

May we be reminded today to joyfully and unashamedly ground ourselves in truth and pursue Christ for our very sanity because we were created to find rest and satisfaction in Him alone (Ps 62:1).

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I pray that God uses these 13 words to continually have a great impact in every area of our lives, leading us to better glorify Him with this one life we have been given.

 

What does day-to-day work have to do with God?

Written By Daniel Gordon Ang, Indonesia

One and a half years ago, I stepped into Harvard University as a bright-eyed graduate student in physics. My first few months were some of the most eventful moments in my life.

Though I was still taking courses, attending lectures, and doing problem sets like in my college days, I no longer felt that I was just preparing for something in the future. Instead, I felt that I was now working.

I spent my time doing things expected of a professional physicist: thinking about physics, writing computer codes, assembling homemade lasers, machining metal parts in the machine shop, and so on. Doing these tasks involved learning many new skills and working with amazing new people.

But while learning new things was always interesting, my initial excitement was gradually tempered by the discovery that the day-to-day work was often unremarkable. The majority of the problems I had to deal with were mundane, tedious, or both. Research projects often got significantly delayed due to unexpected technical glitches or plain old bureaucratic or logistical hurdles.

As I chugged along, barely having begun inching towards the finish line that was the PhD—perhaps six or even seven years in the future—my life began to feel less and less like a steady climb towards the grand goal, and more like a routine.

It was not long before I started to wonder: how did all this fit into my spiritual journey? There seemed to be two major hurdles I had to overcome. The first was the challenge of incorporating God into the day-to-day work of my life. How could soldering connections on an electrical circuit or rearranging lenses on an optics table have anything to do with God? It did not help that Harvard had a strongly secular environment, where few people professed their faith or even talked about spiritual matters at all.

The second came from seeing fellow graduate students, researchers, and professors working hard to discover great new things in physics. They were competitive, driven, and ambitious, working for the sake of an earthly goal. But didn’t Jesus teach us to store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:20)? Was I also doing all of this for personal fame and glory?

Over the next year, God led me to cross these two hurdles. Last summer, I joined a special focus group in my Christian fellowship, and we committed ourselves to writing daily about our experience with the Bible. We read a chapter of a book a day. We went through Romans, Galatians, 1-3 John, and Ephesians. I kept to the writing schedule strictly, forcing myself to write something even when that day’s chapter felt irrelevant or obvious. And I learned many things.

In Romans, I was struck by the beauty of God’s plan for salvation. In 1 John, I learned the importance of loving one another. In Ephesians I obtained valuable insights for practicing the Christian life. But I was struck by a common theme present across all of these epistles: the constant admonition to be attuned to the will of God, to focus all of our thoughts on Him. As Paul said in Romans 13:14 (ESV): “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” The phrase “put on” resonated with me. We have to put on Jesus Christ like a piece of clothing that we wear everywhere, in everything we do, experience, and communicate. Through this verse, the road to integrating faith and work became clear to me.

Was there an explicit guidebook, a “how-to” of what I had to do every day to incorporate my faith into my work life? Not at all. But I quickly realized that this was the wrong question. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

I realized that there was no need to look for a spiritual dimension to the daily drudgery of lab chores, tedious experiments, and lengthy meetings. As long as I was doing good work, this was a way to glorify God. I had to simply put on the Lord Jesus Christ in everything I did, to attune my mind and soul towards Him to such an extent that there would no longer be a need to constantly look for a spiritual dimension in all of my activities.

A specific experience during the summer cemented this truth in my mind. I had been assigned a difficult task by my professor, and due to various circumstances, was forced to work on the project alone at night when nobody else was using the equipment. There was much pressure on me from everyone to get the system working within a week. As a new graduate student, I was incredibly nervous taking on this responsibility.

One particular night, I tried to do things according to plan, but it seemed like nothing was working. I was about to panic and give up in despair when a small voice reminded me that it was unseemly for me to worry when God had pulled me through so many difficult situations in my life. I submitted to this nudging of the Holy Spirit and prayed. A distinctive peace came upon me; I cast my anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and within a few hours the problem was solved.

Two weeks later, my project was mostly finished. I had been “baptised” by fire. To others in my lab, it may have seemed like a purely intellectual development, but I knew that it was also a spiritual one. When we “put on” Jesus Christ, casting our anxieties on Him becomes second nature to us.

The first hurdle—of how to incorporate spirituality into the daily routine—was therefore solved. The solution to the second hurdle followed soon after. I started to see my position at Harvard as part of God’s plans—He had given me the talent and opportunities to come here, and to work with such great colleagues.

I saw that my work could not be about earthly and human goals; instead, it was a way to catch a glimpse of God’s thoughts. He had created the universe with all its atoms and molecules and physical laws, and just like Adam was tasked to name the animals in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:19-20), I had been given the task of examining His creation to uncover the beauty that He had created.

Knowing this incredible truth, I no longer saw any conflict between the industrious nature of my work and the calling to fulfill His purposes. My personal purpose on earth was now clear: If I worked hard on my experiment while “wearing” the Lord Jesus Christ, I would be doing what He wanted me to do. This gave me additional drive to do all things well—not only the glamorous and exciting things, but also the mundane chores and tasks.

My experience in graduate school may be a peculiar and specific one. But I firmly believe that the basic principle of glorifying God in what one does best applies to everything and everyone. When we do our work well, we are producing something of value to the world.

So while we go about doing more “spiritual” things like sharing our faith, ministering to our fellow workers, and following our Christian ethics, it is important to note that we are doing something as spiritual as anything else when we attune our hearts to Him and perform our work to the utmost of our abilities.

The Obama Video You Just Have to Watch

Breaking news: US President Obama is just like one of us after all.

ICYMI, a recent humorous buzzfeed video shows the US President wielding a selfie stick and uttering the infamous “YOLO” acronym, all in a bid to encourage US citizens to sign up for healthcare insurance. It wouldn’t have garnered 23 million views in the first 24 hours if not for the fact that it was the leader of state caught doing such “silly” things (apparently some have criticized him for doing this because they felt it was “demeaning” and it “[degraded] the presidency”).

Now, obviously there are “normal things” President Obama does in a day that we may not be privy to (at least we know the selfie bit is accurate)—he is afterall, human. But should stature and position in life be the main considerations behind how we behave on a day-to-day basis? Do we pull our act together only when our lives are being scrutinized by others? Can we truly say that how we behave at public settings is exactly the same way we are in the private spaces of our homes? What dictates the way we behave ultimately?

The video ends with President Obama being caught in the act (by an unidentified man) performing an air jump shot followed by a fist pump as a celebratory gesture. He then looks at the man and says, “Can I live?” If like President Obama, someone catches us in the middle of something and we can reply the same (with full assurance that what we’re doing is pleasing and glorifying to God), then I daresay, carry on.

 

 

Loving Others: Encouragement

She slumped down into the chair exhausted. It had been a horrific week at work filled with stress and anxiety. And after work, she had spent several nights preparing the engaging Sunday School lesson. She was wearied to the bones as she thought to herself, Let me take a few minutes to recover. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder—the gentle touch and encouragement from a friend.

What is Christian encouragement? I believe it is about recognizing the work of God’s grace in a person’s life or service, and giving God the glory. It includes being thankful to God for His grace that is evidently seen in our brothers and sisters when they serve others faithfully such as in preparing the Sunday School lesson or reading the Word with others.

In Romans 16, Paul asks the believers in Rome to greet a number of fellow gospel workers. I believe Paul is asking them to do more than to say a simple “Hello”; he wants them to seek these faithful servants out, greet them, show them hospitality, and encourage them.

So how do we encourage others? We shouldn’t fake it nor practice deceit. Our words and deeds should be sincere and for building others up. We can share with them what we see God doing in and through their lives.

When was the last time that you encouraged someone? Perhaps, you may like to write an email to your pastor to thank him for a sermon he preached that was used by God to minister to you. Or how about showing someone your appreciation for his or her service in church? Why not buy that person a cup of tea and spur him or her on in Christ?

Who can you encourage today?

Written By Sean Tong for YMI