The one with fools

Happy April!

I’ve been reflecting on thoughts about foolishness this Aprils fool’s day.

Isobel Kuehn a missionary to China reflected on I Corinthians 4 and wrote a book called in the arena. Her reflection as Christians we are on display for the world and look like fools has long stuck with me.

Sometimes it may appear foolish to follow Christ as we give up things that seem valuable to the world or not in line with the world’s thinking and we face much resistance and rejection. In fact, we may feel like fools.

Shadow of the Almighty is collection of Jim Elliot journal entries where he wrote “He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot would lose his life, martyred by those he came to serve, but his gain is far greater.
He was simply following the example of Moses who gave up the riches of Egypt for the reproach of the people of Israel for he is looking to a reward (Hebrews 11).

In fact what the bible calls a fool is one who trusts himself, looks to this world for gain- rather than trust God and seek reward in Him.

Jesus tells a parable (recorded in Luke 11) about a rich man who builds buildings for all his stuff ans says

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

According to Jesus the fool lives for this world. The fool stores up treasure on earth, instead of in heaven.

He also gives a parable of a wise man and foolish man- the wise man build his house on the rock and the foolish man builds his house on the sand.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

We can be wise or fool-  we can practice God’s Word or not.
Notice it is not enough to hear – or read- God’s Word, we must do it.

i feel like many see that and think i reading God’s Word makes me wise- well it is the information to make one wise, but only the one who does what God’s Word says is actually wise. In fact one who reads God’s Word and doesn’t do may be the most unwise. Like James says – he is like a man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like  (which is me by the way- if you seen me, you know that).

If we want to be a fool- then…
… don’t listen to God
… don’t obey God’s Word
… live for this world
… live for temporal things

God’s Word is filled with verses about foolishness and wisdom. just take a gander

And over and over again it tells us the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, obey His word, turn from sin. We are instructed to be humble. The fool does not heed God’s Word or instruction from others. The fool is wise in his own eyes.

  • Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Prov 28:26
  • The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Prov 12:15
  • The foolsays in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. Psalm 14:1

One thing for sure- God is not a fool, not foolish. He is wise. (The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man!).

His ways may seem foolish to us- but He has a plan, and it is a good plan – a great plan.

The pinacle of this is seen in the Cross.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor 1;18

So, though others may look down on us, or think we are fools – or we may feel like fools from time to time – certainly there cold be an easier way – we decide to continue to follow God. The reward is great.

These days that means we continue to raise support, continue to make phone calls, continue to reach out to others, and continue to pray.

The other day, I read somewhere – what do you do when you pray and God doesn’t answer? You keep praying.

Prayer may seem foolish when some may say just do something- but we want to continue to trust the lord and seek His provisions, depend on Him as we take steps of faith – and ask Him to do big things! Even if it seems foolish or feels foolish- we pray.

And even though we could try to pursue riches of this world, recognition from others – we seek instead reward in Christ.

So, don’t be a fool. Follow Jesus. Give up the things of this world and pursue a greater reward.

The thing about praying big and trusting God

Recently been really liking the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle.
Combined with looking at Habakkuk recently, makes me think a lot about faith.

Well, that and our own lives.
We are currently raising support, and we want to see God do big things, so we pray.
This last year or two in fact we have prayed a lot of things.
And sometimes we see God answer.
Sometimes it is quite evident God is faithful.
Then, there are our kids – who continued to have nightmares or wake up in the middle of the night every night. Back pain, sickness, conflicts, troubles. A slow ministry. And sometimes i wonder…

Support raising hasn’t been bad. We have seen God provide. Still, with such a large amount to raise, we begin to wonder- how will it all come in?
We believe in God, we believe He is a good and big and powerful God. We believe He answers prayers and He is faithful.
Yet, we struggle. We doubt. We lack faith.

It seems much easier to remember the disappointments and the times God didn’t answer prayer. All the times we have had to wait. All the times we felt let down.

Sometimes it just feels like i am talking to the air.
It feels like wishful thinking, or positive thinking, or convincing myself or giving myself a pep talk.
Is God there?

Sometimes i don’t want to pray big, so that i can give God an excuse. If i don’t pray, then God can’t let me down. But if I actually ask for something big, something only He can do, well, then, then I will see that He doesn’t answer prayer, perhaps He isn’t real.

But does God need my help? my defense? If He is real, He can handle any problem. Nothing is too big for Him.

I seem to be like Abraham pretending Sarah is my sister- and only putting her in danger, not fully trusting God.

When I pray, I give God an opportunity to show up, to reveal His greatness and power and care and provision, and sovereignty and love.

But truth be told, i don’t often trust God to be those things. i rely on myself. I give God lip-service.

So, perhaps i need to pray BIG things.
…Not that just that God would provide the bare minimum support needs- but enough so we don’t go into panic mode when an emergency strikes, enough so we can give generously to others without a second thought, enough so we can do special things for our family, enough so we can scholorship students to conferences and pay for baby-sitters, and go on any mission trip
…not just for a house in downtown, but a house that has everything we need – enough bedrooms for our growing family, space to invite people over, good heat, a good-sized kitchen, space to park, a neighborhood people wouldn’t feel terrified to come visit and that our kids would feel safe in, a little yard, a fence, and a garage. Could God provide?

How about when i pray for a person – do i just pray for a good conversation? Or do i pray for God to change & transform a person? Do i ask God to bring someone to Christ, to make them a disciple, to use them to not only come to Christ, but to lead others to Christ as well?

 

but i digress… see i want to pray in such a way that even if You don’t answer, You don’t answer the way i think or want – i want to still trust You.

More than wanting what I pray for, I want to know You, I want deeper relationship with You, I want stronger faith in You.

Several years ago when i was at UofM, we had a faith week – where we prayed for big things, we prayed for God to move in people’s hearts. And we prayed  A LOT.
But we didn’t see God answer. There weren’t many conversations, and no decisions for Christ.
The students who planned the week, couldn’t understand, they were disappointed.
In a flash of insight, I commented- maybe this is what God wanted to increase our faith.
Isn’t that what we said we wanted this week to be about -to grow our faith?
Well, what makes our faith grow more than having to trust God and continue to pray after He doesn’t answer the way we thought He would?

This takes more faith.
God grows our faith by answering prayers. Then He grows our faith by stretching our faith.

 

And Habakkuk 3 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture

Though…
nor…
and even if…
And though we don’t…
Yet I will rejoice

I will take joy in the God of my salvation

 

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
   nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
   and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
   and there be no herd in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
   I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the deer’s;
   he makes me tread on my high places.

 

And even though she sounds like an old lady in this song, i really love the song “Trust in You”
The verses are powerful as well, but i’ll end with the chorus

 

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

My marriage charge

Today is our 6 year anniversary. It was quite the miracle. I thank God every day for my wife. I love my Soo, and I am glad to be married!

Matt&Soo_Wedding-9378.hi2

God has blessed us greatly. Yet, it has not always been easy and we feel like we fail often. It was somewhat a surprise when we were asked to give a charge at a wedding last summer.

We were so honored. And not only did we give the charge but Halle was the flower girl and Josiah was the ring bear(er).IMG_6063

After presenting the charge, many came up to us saying they appreciated what we shared. We were a little anxious about it, but really the charge was a reminder for us as well- and today as i approach our anniversary, i want to review the charge i gave someone else as a charge to us as well.

Many people think marriage will be easy or solve all problems. Recently watched master of none and the marriage scene was kinda  funny as they exchanged their vows and all the other couples rolled their eyes.

While the charge was personal to them, i think it could be helpful for others- i certainly think it would be helpful for me to listen to.
Here is the charge we gave:

Ben, as I have known you, you are one who loves adventure- and you are about to embark on the greatest adventure of marriage…
I also know you as one who has followed the voice & direction of the Holy Spirit. And you will need his empowerment and direction as you embark on this new journey with Sarah together.

And so I give you this charge from God’s Word

Be filled with the Spirit… Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church.

It’s simple right? Love your wife.

Not really.

You spent a year in India, and I’m from Indian decent, so I’ll share this. In America, you marry the one you love. In India, it’s love the one you marry. You have a great blessing to marry one you love, now you have a great challenge to love the one you marry.

Love you wife, as Christ loves the church.

That means you love Sarah sacrificially. You not only are willing to give up your life, you give up your life. Giving up your life  may not mean taking a bullet and dying for her- it will mean something much more difficult – dying to self, dying to your dreams, dying to your rights. You love her sacrificially by giving her time even when you don’t feel like it, when you feel like being by yourself or with your buddies or watching a movie. You love her sacrificially by investing in the things she enjoys.

Loving as Christ loves the church means being gracious, being faithful, being kind, being a servant. That is doing good to her, when she has done wrong to you. Speaking words of encouragement when you feel put down. Serving her when you feel she should be serving you.

And if you are to love her as Christ loves the church, you are going to need to continually fill yourself up with God’s love. So I charge you to walk with Christ, and look to Him to fill your needs and satisfy you.

I pray you will know the width & length and height and depth of God’s love. And that Sarah will know that as well thru you. And then you can be fruitful and multiply that love to others.

Sarah, You are a beautiful bride, and today is such a beautiful wedding. We know you love weddings and you have been looking forward to this day for a long time. But today is not the culmination but the beginning of your beautiful marriage.

You may be tempted to look to Ben to be the one who makes all your dreams come true and to satisfy every longing of your heart, but he won’t. Marriage does not bring an end to insecurity or solve all problems. Only Christ can satisfy, only Christ will bring contentment.

And so the way Matt ends, I begin: I charge you to look to Jesus to satisfy your heart, for ultimate comfort and perfect peace. Do not allow Ben to become your savior. Seek first Christ, make time with God a priority.

You are the bride of Ben, but marriage reflects the relationship of the church with Christ, so just as you prepared & planned for this wedding day, prepare your heart to meet your Savior by pursuing holiness and purity of heart for the Lord.

And thus, when you are commanded to submit to your husband, you can rest in the Lord as you respect Ben’s leadership.

Respect Ben. Respect him unconditionally. Don’t make him earn your respect by figuring out what to do for you or by doing everything perfectly. Give him your respect before he even deserves it. Affirm him and encourage him. Do things that he enjoys. Go with him on journeys that sometimes may feel uncomfortable. Be honest with him, respecting his care and love for you. Learn to show respect to him, even when you are feeling rejected. Reject opportunities to be critical and instead show grace.

You will need the power of the Holy spirit, so I charge you as you develop your marriage, rely on the power of God, rather than your own strength and intuition, which will often be your first instinct, but be filled with the Spirit.

Ben & Sarah we charge you to make God known thru your marriage first to one another, then to the others around you. We love you and we are so excited for how God will use you to bless each other and the community you are in.

Here’s the truth about marriage:
1. Marriage does not eliminate loneliness & insecurity.
Some may think if they just got married they would feel secure. They always have someone with them- but just as a person can be ain crowded room and feel all alone, many feel that in marriage. Furthermore, Soo has pointed out- now fear is even stronger. What is something happens to my spouse? Death is going to happen. And though Divorce is not something we even contemplate, it is all around us, so we can’t escape the fear… Especially when there is Difficulty- which will happen, and which will make the insecurities abound – is there something wrong with me? Why can’t i ever do things right? Which leads to the 2nd and third truths…

2. Marriage is not easy
One may think if i am with the one i love, with my best friend – then, well, it’s easy. But think about it- the people who have shown us the most unconditional love and care are often the ones we have the most conflict – our parents. The more we know someone, the more we see their sin- and worse, the more they see of our sin. There will be conflict, there will be trouble. It will become difficult to love sometimes.

3. Marriage does not bring satisfaction.
And often the reason we have these troubles is because we are looking to marriage to something it can’t fully do. Marriage is good, but only God satisfies. And if i make an idol out of my spouse- my sorrows will multiply(Psalm 16:4). I only burden my wife when i do this, and only frustrate myself. Surely Soo is a blessing, someone who brings much joy in my life and one who loves me and who i love deeply. But she isn’t ultimate.

Here’s another truth- Marriage is good.
Good in that we are blessed by another.
Good in that it was designed by God.
Good in that God uses it to reveal and shape our heart and to point us back to Jesus.
We need His strength and power and presence to make marriage work, to love and respect.
And marriage reflects our relationship with God – a relationship that God desires to show love and a deep intimacy He desires, and a relationship that will truly satisfy- the relationship with Him.

i thank God for Soo and thank God for these 6 years and looking forward to the next 60! i thank God that He is cord that binds us together.

We do celebrate each other and celebrate our marriage. More so we celebrate the God who gave us each other, and the God who gave us Himself.

The one where we decide to adopt

Soo & i have decided to adopt.

If you know us, you know we have not only been in the process for several months, but have long desired to adopt. The question we had was “when”.

The question we get is “Why?”

We already have 2 kids, and we are young enough to have more. And we have 2 young kids, who we cannot keep up with anyway. Are we just gluttons for punishment? Or are we just foolish?
Many may think we are crazy… including myself.

Many factors go into our decision to adopt, but primarily we want to adopt to honor God, bless others, and believe God is leading us this direction. We are still in process, and if God has different plans for us He will redirect.

Adoption is not about us. In fact, it is not even about the child. It’s about God.

But, that’s the spoiler… let me try to share a bit more…

Back in the summer there had been much in the news about planned parenthood and abortion. Such stories make me sad. I feel sad for the unborn child and for the expectant mother. I can’t imagine the turmoil a person must have when they even consider an abortion. Life is tough. I don’t want to make life on others tougher. I want to offer grace, love, and help.

As I consider these things, I don’t want to just to say things, I want to do something.

Before Soo & I got married, one thing that drew us to one another was a mutual interest in adoption. We see it as a way to help & bless others. We see people in need. We see children who don’t have a home, who could feel neglected and unloved. We want children to know they are loved.

All of us are loved by God. He does not desire any should perish. And the bible speaks often for His compassion on orphans.

More so, when I think of adoption, I think of an opportunity to imitate God and glorify God. And thus even to know and experience God more. As we act like God, we understand Him. As we imitate God, we see how He treats us. We get greater understanding.

And so more than adopting to make me feel like I am doing something, or for the sake of the child, I consider adoption as a way to honor & know God – I do it not for myself or for another, I do it for God. I don’t do it simply to make a difference, but to follow Christ.

Now as I consider that step of faith, I consider the kids I have already – and how difficult it is to parent them. They make me frustrated. I get annoyed, irriated, lose my patience, and long for free time.
And I think
“Do I want more kids?”
More, I wonder
“Am I cut out for more kids?”

But if I were only to follow God when I felt I could handle it, I wouldn’t go very far. And if I waited until I was qualified, I would be waiting forever.

And so adoption is a step of faith.

Not something I do for me to make my life fulfilling. Not something i do because i am so great at it. Not offering myself as an expert or better than others, but to stretch my faith.
And that is a good thing.

Being a parent is a big responsibility and an honorable one. God gives us a great privilege to shepherd children.
Some look at this world and see only trouble. We should not bring kids into this world. But I look and see the problems in this world and see possibility and responsibility. Someone needs to help the young in this country understand the Gospel and follow God. They need to be shepherded. And I want to build up men and women into followers of Christ.

And what an opportunity adoption allows.

So we don’t do it for ourselves. We do it not to give us a sense of self worth or identity. Nor to release ourselves from guilt or shame. We do it not to make a contribution or because we think we are qualified. We don’t do it so the child or others will appreciate us.
Adoption will require hard work, sacrifice, disappointment…
But we do it for ourselves in this:
It will grow our faith! – Requiring us to rely on God and step out of comfort zones.
 It will make us more like God – as we imitate Him, and as we know Him. As we act out love, act out the Gospel.
It will draw us closer to God, as we experience Him and know Him.
And we believe, there will be much joy. Sure, i give the impression that being a parent has ruined everything, but i wouldn’t trade my kids for the world!
And i look forward to loving my child. Loving and enjoying my child.

So… Soo & I are on a journey. We began looking into adoption, researched agencies, trying to understand the procedures and process, and prepare ourselves for another child and how to prepare our kids for another child.
We have begun the process to do foster care with the hopes of adopting (which is a whole other story).
Who knows, maybe we’ll be the Indian and Korean parents with a white child.

The longer we are on this journey, the more i see God’s heart. Repeatedly He calls His people to care for the widow, the refugee, the fatherless, the orphan.
The Gospel is a story of God rescuing us, restoring us from a broken relationship, adopting us as His own children, loving us deeply. Being our Father.

We are looking into adoption because we believe God is directing us that way now. Perhaps we’ll never adopt, who knows. But we want to take a step of faith – so we may bless, shepherd & love a child. Build up God’s kingdom and instill Biblical values; And to honor God, glorify God, follow God and grow in faith.

This is why we are going to adopt… and maybe you would consider it too! There are many out there who need parents, who need godly examples.
Consider reading “Generous Justice” by Tim Keller. Or perhaps watch this talk by Beth Guckenberger, which strongly encouraged us this week.

I am sure there are things we are missing, stuff we don’t know, ways we need to grow. We appreciate your prayers and feedback along the way.