Thoughts from November 2002

November 29, 2002 - settling
I want to be the kind of woman who could inspire a man to live better and love better and pursue Christ with more gusto. And I want THAT man to choose me - and no less. Otherwise, we've settled and life will become dreary because someone will regret (and grumble) over the "commitment."

November 28, 2002 - willingness to be transformed
Last nite I realized something major. True prayer requires being willing to be transformed by God. We must be willing to let Him change us, willing to leave the "walking in comfort", willing to embrace the crucified life. I have not been willing. I have "enjoyed" walking in comfort, doing things that were easy, gliding in neutral, living in mediocrity. And even as I ranted against nominalism, I was in the throes of it. I realized this last nite as I prayed HONESTLY about desiring to witness to my parents. I told God that though I wanted to be a witness to them, I didn't really want to do it "tonight" ("maybe another day"). I wanted to avoid those hard conversations. Being a "witness" to them & having real conversations means wading through tough, sticky muck. It's troublesome and I don't really want to do it. As I realized how I honestly felt over the matter, I also realized that for the last few months, I might've been praying for opportunities to witness and for courage and everything but that was just me rattling off religious words but not that I've really wanted it in my heart. I've been resisting - no wonder there's no change, no connection. No wonder I've felt a sort of "distance" with God - I haven't really wanted Him. I've resisted Him this whole time; I've resisted being in sync with Him. Being being in sync with Him means being willing to change. It means to take the rougher road, to be insulted, rejected, persecuted, mocked (Luke 9:22-26); it means having those "hard" conversations...

I guess the question then is, do I really want to be in sync with Him?

November 25, 2002 - God creates windows
i once read a story about how a woman felt called to be a missionary but how her mother was adamantly against her going. back in those days, one had to go to Bible college in order to be accepted by a missions agency. her mom really wanted her to just get married to some nice Christian young man and settle down. well, as Isobel (that was her name) was praying about her desire to go to Moody & her mom's refusal to give her blessing, she heard the Lord say, "Speak to your mother again and use E--'s going to Moody." so as Isobel said to her mom, "I've just heard that E-- is applying to go to Moody this fall. Really, Mother, I don't know why you are so against my going." Her mom then thought it over with surprise, then answered, "Who said I was against your going? You can go if you like-you pay your own expenses, that is all. We cannot help you. E-- is a very fine young man," with much satisfaction. At that time, her mother truly meant it, and E really was planning to go to Moody.

But funny thing, in the last minute, he changed his mind and switched from Moody to going to a seminary instead.

But the thing was, her mom had said it. She couldn't take it back. The wheels were in motion: Isobel ended up going to Moody, ended up marrying John Kuhn and she went on to China with OMF to become the famous missionary & writer "Isobel Kuhn."

Do you see how God creates windows? (i say windows b/c of the ol' american expression of "window of opportunity".) Even just for a moment, He will create a window, move things (situations, obstacles, natural hindrances) around -- even just for a moment, in the absolute impossible -- so that His desire and will could be done. It makes me think of those movies where someone is being chased, and there's just a small hole and he's able to escape through in time before the hole closes up and his pursuers aren't able to get through. It's like satan pursues us by trying to create obstacles, but God creates this hole, this small window, so that we can escape through before everything falls back into place as normal and the hole closes up. But then it's too late, we've escaped, God's plan goes on in victory, and satan loses.

This story always encourages me because I'm worried about ways that my parents will protest my following God to "wherever", but the reality is that God creates windows!

I realized recently that He's already given me an example of that. One of the biggest pushes for me to move out FINALLY was when my dad announced that he was going to sell our house. He roused me out of bed that morning to "clean up" because the realtors were coming. He seemed to be in such a hurry, and I thought the house would be up for sale and sold within a week or something. It was the extra push I needed. There certainly was no reason for me to move out with them. It was time for me to move on by moving out. And so I told them. It was a reasonable reason. They could not truly protest.

Funny thing, they still haven't put the house up for sale yet. They're not even sure if they're moving now.

God created a window for me so that I could obey something He had called me to do a year earlier. God opens windows! Yay, thanks, Lord, for being so personal in your lovingkindness...

Nov 24, 2002 - a new realization
if you're female and feel called to the mission field, there is something you need to consider. marriage and missions are diametrically opposed. because if you truly want to serve God full time, becoming a wife means becoming a mom, which means your interests will definitely be divided. in order to be a good mom, you will have to hang up your hat of being a full-time "missionary" on the field. you just can't have both. as women, we don't have much choice in the matter, and if we are called to be wives and mothers, most of us won't protest, but it IS something that we need to be ready to submit in our hearts. "the plan" for our life might've been "missions" but God's plan for us might be "mothering" instead. when it comes down to it, we just must hold loosely to all the plans we have in our minds...

Nov 21, 2002 - prayer needed
The other night I read, "Just as a plant may die for lack of watering, so may a genuine work of God die and rot for lack of prayer." (J.O. Fraser)

It struck me because I realized that even though I've been fooling myself to thinking that my ministry is going "just fine" without prayer, Fraser's comment made me realize that it's just holding the semblance of holding up, but it may not endure the test and turbulence of time. Without inviting the Lord into this work, it's like I'm building with regular ol' man-made, perishable materials; it won't last for all eternity. I need His breath in all these things in order to build with materials that will last for all eternity. I need Jesus, plain and simple.

Nov 18, 2002 - where are the men?
i thought that the statistics say that women outnumber men on the mission field by a ratio of 2 to 1. but that is an inaccurate quote. actually, the ratio (quoth "On Being a Missionary", Thomas Hale, 2000) is 10:1. THAT MEANS THAT FOR EVERY 1 MALE MISSIONARY, THERE ARE 10 FEMALE MISSIONARIES. what does that mean? it means...if you are a woman and plan on being a missionary, good luck with the marriage thing. ikes! (i'm not gettin' married!!!!!)

so as i pondered about this statistic, i started to wonder WHY this is true? where are all the men? why are they not going? i hardly doubt that God is ONLY calling women to the field (or that He only wants women on the field). sure we can endure more pain (women can endure 10 times as much pain as men; think child labor), but whatever happened to that argument of men being the authoritative head and being the preachers and teachers (and women are supposed to be "silent")? women today are willing to say yes and they are the ones going overseas. they are the evangelists, the teachers, the preachers, the disciplemakers. if they kept silent, think of the thousands who would have died thusfar without knowing Jesus. God is using all these women missionaries to save dozens of lives. so again, where are the men?

is it because in the US, there are higher expectations on men to be the breadwinners? the engineers and the computer whizzes? they are expected to follow a strict regimine that will guarantee security for themselves and their families. maybe.

maybe it's also because there is more in the States to distract men. is that true? letsee... video games, sports, cars, pornography, movies, computers (they get pretty obsessive about these things, i've noticed)... i think women are mainly distracted by two things: men and other material things (like clothes)... (both of which are quite easily disappointing).

or maybe it is because when men feel "called" to serve God full time, they always think "pastor" rather than "missionary." and while the general US church does not permit a woman to be a pastor, they do permit women to be missionaries. yes, let the women go out and be the martyrs! (sorry i'm being so sarcastic; i guess you could say i feel miffed by all this.)

any other theories?

Nov 15, 2002 - if i weren't a Christian
if i weren't a Christian, i would live in a nice house with lots of tech toys. no, not just a "nice" house, but a super-nice house. a brand new luxurious house with a lot of rooms that i don't know what to do with. expensive paintings on my walls (but NOT of modern art). a nice view in my backyard and a fountain in my front yard. i would go to ritzy dinner parties and wear fancy gowns. i would own the kinds of cars that have automatic-everythings. i would stay at expensive hotels that deliver newspapers at your door in the mornings. i would always dress nice. and even my casual wear would be nice. and i would enjoy having all these "nice" things.

and yet... somewhere in the midst of the sequined gowns and men in ties and leather car seats, i know i would hear the empty echo of the hollowness of it all...

i know that this would be true because even now my heart is prone to lust after material things and to idolize technological toys. it is a very thin line for me between not caring about material things and worshiping it with my whole heart. that is why i have chosen to despise material things with ALL the hostility i can muster within me. idolatry leads to hollowness and emptyness.

"They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless." 2 Kings 17:15

Nov 13, 2002 - passion
when i think of passion, i usually define it as something like, "intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction." the funny thing is that the definition i just cited is actually the FOURTH one listed in Webster's Dictionary. so what defines "passion" first and foremost? check this out!

1. the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death (courtesy of

the picture of passion is Jesus - from the time of the Last Supper till His death. why? because all of His actions were a choice on His part, an act of conscious submission and obedience to the Father, which was driven by an intense conviction, an intense love for His people. He needed to die for us so that we could have life! He knew it full well, and so He chose us. He chose us over comfort, over the praise of men, over political gain, over painlessness. at any point during that time, He could have changed His mind and vanished - as He often did before. He could've broken free from the guards or jumped off the cross. but He didn't. no matter the pain or the shame or insults that He endured. He just kept CHOOSING us. And choosing to SUBMIT. that is true passion.

i want to live a life of passion.

Nov 7, 2002 - autumn leaves and trumpets (thanks for the reminder, juleschen!)
Lord Jesus, how i love you! i love the way you kindly whisper your words of love. there's a gentleness in the way you call and beckon your children, there's a kindness to your attentiveness to the details of our lives, there's a wonder to the blazing displays you create in the sky to proclaim your magnificence. i love the beautiful brown, orange, fire-red leaf-colors on the maple trees that line the road to my condo, which is like the trumpet proclamation of your faithfulness in allowing seasons to change, and life to give way to more life. and i love the way that the words from Your Word, because they are so utterly true beyond understanding, seem to resound off the recesses of my heart with such sweet melody... "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing" (Psalm 16:2). indeed, it is true. i pour out my thanks to you, my King, that i never have to be apart from you...

Nov 6, 2002 - living with purpose
I talked to my best friend last nite and described to her my feelings from Oct 30 and Nov 5 and the linkage to my reading of "The Road to Reality." Funny thing was that she said that she remembered when I read that book... she said that after I read it, I was a completely different person. I radically changed. I thought that was interesting because I knew my mentality begin to change, but I didn't think it was so visible or noticeable. Anyway, I am grateful God placed that book in my hands - because only after that did I begin to live as He wants me to live -- in harmony with His heart & passion, living with purpose. Here is an excerpt from the book:

      "The body of Christ, His church, is the living presence of God whose heart is pounding with a passion for lost and dying souls. We must therefore be fellowshipping and worshipping with one thing in mind, reaching lost men and women wherever they are. [amen!!!] We are to be a people willing to exchange anything and everything we have for the pearl of great price - the kingdom of God.
      "Is the Christ we worship and follow today the same Christ of the Gospels? Jesus was always pressing on to preach the Gospel in the next village. His heart's cry and prayer was for the dead and dying, for the lost, sick and undone. And the heart of every true disciple who follows in the steps of Jesus will be the same. We must be willing, as He was, to let everything go for the sake of lost souls - to give our lives to recapture just one lost inch of territory from darkness and hell.

      "What does the Lord Jesus think of our religious merry-go-round?
      "The question that must be asked of every Christian activity we support is simply this: "Will this event create any impact on a lost and dying world?" If the answer is no then we must reconsider sponsoring it. We must ask if this is something from our agenda or His"
(The Road to Reality, p. 31-32).

What do you think?

(p.s. random note: i beat my best friend at Bible trivia last night! whoohoo!!!!)

Nov 5, 2002 - absolutely ruined
this past weekend i was trying to figure out why it is that i am so adamant about living life so radically purposefully. even though i have money, i can't get myself to go buy nice things for myself and i can never feel at peace about doing things without purpose. i am so fiercely opposed to nominalism, mediocrity and living by the pleasure principle (Sept 3 entry). it feels so frustrating at times because i am so constantly at war with the world and its ways. i can't settle down to do what everyone else does - even what christians deem as all right. well, i figured out the root of this kind of living. it is as a result of a book i read a few years ago called "The Road to Reality" by KP Yohannan (founder of Gospel for Asia). it absolutely "ruined" me for the ordinary... it was kinda like when Neo learned about the matrix. all of a sudden he was able to SEE what is "reality" and what is not. well, learning about the matrix "ruined" him too. because after he discovered what was reality, he HAD to live in harmony with it. he couldn't go back to pretending that the life as he once knew it was "real" because he knew it wasn't. i think reading the Road to Reality was like my matrix-experience. after reading that book, i begin to realize that everything in this world is but a shadow while things associated with Jesus are "substance". and so i can't have fun like others have fun and i can't do what others do - because it just ISN'T fun to me, there is no "substance" to it; it's all just a shadow... there are greater things than what this world offers.

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Mary Ann Nguyen. All Rights Reserved.