June 21, 2001
My dear Christ-follower,
I have recently been confronted by a full-scale realization of my sins. When you ask Jesus to search your heart and see if there are any offensive ways in you (Ps 139:23-24), He really does answer! It wasnít easy Ė in fact, it was unbearable - to see so clearly how sinful and disgusting I am moment-by-moment. My sinfulness was so revolting it made me want to throw up. And while I was being confronted with these realizations, I was reading the book of Ezekiel for my quiet times. This book is all about Godís wrath. And, boy, did I have a hard time reconciling this very real nature of His character. He is a wrathful God when His people do wrong. He hates sin. In fact, He hates it so much that He needs to turn away from it. He needs to be as far away from you and your sin as He possibly can. It was hard to reconcile especially because I was so aware of my sinfulness. Our God is a holy God.
I donít think there is anything more difficult for us too-often "me-centered" Christians to comprehend than this. I mean, arenít we talking about the loving Christian God who is our Father and Best Friend and promises to lavish us with prosperity? So what is the deal with this wrath and punishment business? I just didnít know how to accept this, so I stayed on the same chapter for three days! On the third day, I couldnít stand it any longer. I sat down and mulled over it for awhile. I said, "Okay, you are a God of wrath. You are." (Up to that point, I kept thinking, "No, He wouldnít do all these things to peopleÖ") Then I walked away from the Bible, and it clicked for me. God hates sin; He simply hates it. He has to be wrathful. Understanding that, it suddenly occurred to me that thatís what makes His love so sweet! The fact that He hates sin so much requires that He turn completely away from us because we are sinners and enemies - truly enemies - of God. But just when He had every right to abandon us to the grave, He went and died for us instead. He did the impossible to bring us into His presence. While we were still His enemies! (Romans 5:6-8) I stood for a couple of minutes completely awed by this realization. Godís words had in those few moments leaped up from some pages, intersected with the realities of my life and smacked me in the face. The realness of my sins, the necessity of His wrath and the evidence of His mercy at the cross stunned me. The love of the Lord is so completely incomprehensible.
Now imagine this situation a little different. Imagine that I had remembered my very vivid, inescapably haunting sins from the past and then imagine that I felt really remorseful for them (because I did), but then imagine that I had nothing to refer to about forgiveness except what I remembered that someone had told me. But my memory is faint (as most of our memories are) and I can only remember that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. So was that all my sins or just some of them? Just the recent ones or what about when I was really little? Did I have to do anything extra to be forgiven for these sins I just remembered? How come Iím remembering them all of a sudden? If I didnít have a Bible, then I wouldnít be able to check for the answers to these questions. If I didnít have a Bible, I wouldíve questioned my salvation. If I didnít have a Bible, I wouldnít have had the revelatory experience described above.
Imagine. There are 300 million people in the world who do not have a Bible in their own language. No, not that they donít have enough money to go down the street to buy one, but there really, literally does not exist a Bible AT ALL in their own language! Because I have found the Word to be the realest, sweetest, tastiest thing in my whole life and so critical to my intimacy with Christ, I canít imagine being without it. How can you know God if you donít have access to the revelation of His mind? I canít imagine it and I certainly canít bear to think of it.
And many others cannot bear it either. There exists a missions agency called Wycliffe Bible Translators whose vision is to have a Bible translation for every tongue and tribe for every nation. This summer, I get to adventure for one week in Portland, Oregon to get a Taste Of Translation And Linguistics (TOTAL) with Wycliffe. So for one whole week from Aug 13-17, I get to eat and sleep linguistics, rub shoulders with Wycliffe missionaries and pray like crazy whether this is what God wants me to do for the rest of my life. I am so excited about this; you canít even imagine!!
Iím writing this letter as a request. Would you consider these three things? 1. Please pray for me and Samantha Chang as we spend this week at TOTAL seeing if this is Godís will for our lives regarding full term service for our King. 2. Please, please read Godís Word, memorize it, love it like crazy. 3. Please, please, please pray for the missionaries that you know personally who are somewhere this summer trying to reach the unreached. Pray especially for the people whom they will come into contact with.
Godís heart beats for people. In Ez 18:30-32 we read, "Repent! Turn away from all your sins; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you dieÖ? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" He wants all people to live Ė not just live with life and breath moving through them, but truly live - the rich, fulfilling, abundant kind of life that He had intended from the beginning. I beseech you to continually repent, that you may truly liveÖ And join with me in prayer, as I am Ė
ever His servant and yours,
P.S. Please email/write/callme if you will pray. J
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