Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A big box

So this post is meant to help shed some light on one particular cliche that I have been hearing a lot lately that I absolutely hate.  It is meant to be used as a form of encouragement, or perhaps to "shed light" on a situation in a person's spiritual life that has gone awry.  I would like to apologize for the seemingly scatter brained state of this post, it is difficult to pen these ideas often times, but I am going to try.

Before diving into this subject I would like to put a disclaimer.  One: there is a certain degree of truth to this statement, however it usually does more harm than good, which is why I want to address it.  Two: I am in no way shape or form bashing those that have or do use this phrase to try and help those that they love.  I understand that your heart is usually in the right place, but hopefully if you are reading this you will see that it really isn't doing any good.

The cliche' is, "God didn't go anywhere, where did you go?".  Ok, first of all whoever you are saying this to is in some kind of spiritual slump.  They are frustrated, maybe even depressed because there seems to be no real connection between their heart and God's.  Maybe they have wandered out of His will and have no real idea what has happened.  Saying this DOES NOT HELP!  It only brings up more feelings of frustration and anger.  Secondly, it has a great deal of implications that are completely theologically inaccurate.  The first thing that it implies is that you can go somewhere that God cannot go.  That somehow you are lost from the sight of God.  It implies that God has stopped pursuing you.  Yes, I do believe that we can be outside of God's will, and we can wander from that.  Yes, we can dive into sin and let that sin put up a wall between us and God, but it doesn't mean that God isn't right there, hotly pursuing us through our circumstances to bring us back to Him.  It paints God as a passive God, like God is sitting there just sort of waiting, twiddling his thumbs hoping that eventually we'll decide to turn around and come back to wherever it is that God "is waiting" for us.  Also, this confuses the unchanging character of God for the unchanging location of God.  God doesn't have a location, His Holy Spirit lives IN US!  Therefore it doesn't matter where we go, where our heart goes, we take the Holy Spirit with us.  We just aren't listening to Him, or have somehow forgotten what His voice sounds like.  

The other problem that I have with this is that it places all of the responsibility on that person to get themselves right.  It says that the only way to get back on track is to pull yourself up by your boot straps, start trying harder and then eventually things will get better.  I have been in this position and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is a lie!  The very desire to even desire the things of God and to "get back on track" comes from God!  

Lastly, even if the above weren't an issue (and praise the Lord it's not true!) it offers no practical advice!  What are you supposed to do with that information?  I guess it is meant to prompt some soul searching, but chances are it's already been done.  What they really need is some direction on WHERE to search.  Show them how God is hotly pursuing them and pray against the enemy that is robbing them of their joy!  So by all means, encourage and pray for the person, but don't be blinded into thinking that offering this bit of "advice" will actually help, nor is it wise.  

That is all I have for now...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dry Times

So I have been thinking a lot about what joy really means and what causes draught in our lives.  Let's be honest, when you think of "dry times" in your life it is usually equated with a stealing away of your joy.  You are no longer happy, you feel drained, and it's all you can do to muster up a dreary old "quiet time" in the morning, or evening or whenever it is that you do it.  Chances are most days you can't even do that.  You MIGHT get around to praying before each meal, but more because we are creatures of habit than out of any real thankfulness of the heart. 

I remember hearing a story about a man, a professor at a very renowned school, something like DTS.  He was very well respected by his students and fellow staff members.  One of the students got up the courage to approach him on his way home one day and posed the question, "Professor, what do you do during the dry times?".  The man's reply was pretty astounding...he said, "why son, I don't have dry times..."  Now I can't say with any real certainty whether this is true or not, maybe he has a bad memory, or perhaps his dry times are so inexplicably horrible that he has suppressed them in his mind.  However, honestly I'd like to believe that he was telling the truth.  The more that I read about joy, grace, and the true nature of our relationship to Christ I am inclined to think that we are all promised the prospect of never having dry times in our relationship with the Lord.  I'm not entirely certain that this is true, but it's something to think on.  If this man was telling the truth then the only way that he could have possibly gotten to that point in his life is by not making excuses.  

We make excuses for the hardening of our hearts by calling them dry times.  By saying, "The Lord is leading me into a drought right now...He must want to teach me something."  Now, we do learn things from the dry times no doubt, but I think that we miss one of the biggest lessons that God wants to teach us every time.  It's to quit making excuses.  Some of you may say, "Well God is soverign and He is always leading us."  YES!  You are right!  God is always leading but we are not always following.  We lose our way, and when we lose our way, one baby step at a time usually, we end up wandering in the desert.  

I want to make myself abundantly clear on this one point, there is a major difference between dry times and hard times.  But almost always it's hard times, whether big or small, befall us just before the dry times hit.  I believe that it's because we let the hard times do exactly what they have come to do, to rob us of our joy.  Our joy of life, in Christ.  David says this many times, "The Joy of the lord is my Strength!!"  Nehemiah 8:10 "Do not grieve, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength."  If we really believe what the Bible says is truth then how incredibly essential is it for us to find out what this means!  If the joy of the Lord is supposed to be our strength then what does that look like???  

As we get older, and as I touched on before, we get more and more cynical.  Life is not about joy it's about getting by.  Doing the best with what we've been given, and if we are really honest most of us have been dealt pretty crappy hands.  Joy is compartmentalized into a rare experience.  As we shuffle through the photo album of memories that is our life joy only seems to flash on the page once in a short while.  Like a cameo appearance of an over glorified hollywood star in some British B-movie comedy.  John Eldridge describes it as meeting a stranger on an airplane.  You hit it off, exchange some witty dialogue, have a few drinks and then part ways.  You think back on the trip and think, "well that was nice" and then go on living your life.  So are we really living life as the joy of the Lord as our strength?  I don't think that most of us are.  I don't know how to get to that point, or even where to start, but I plan on finding out.  I hope that those of you reading this will find it a worthwhile mission of your own.  Thank you again for reading and God Bless! 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lonely hands grab a suitcase full of nothing

Well I have been here pretty much 2 months now.  Maybe a few days short, but we'll call it two months, haha.  It has been a very interesting last two months.  I have smelled new smells, seen new sites, met new people and felt new feelings.  As it is with all new experiences some good and some not so desirable.  

I have come a long ways from when I first arrived.  Two months doesn't seem that long in regards to the other 10 I have left before I can come home, but a lot can happen in a person's life in such a short amount of time.  It seems that I have experienced a lot of sorrow and frustration in such a short amount of time.  I have been sick seemingly more times than I can count.  I have gotten into fights with friends, co-workers and even random embassy workers.  I have experienced a loneliness that I have not felt in a very long time.  I've even lost a dear friend and sister in Christ in these last two months.  Despite all of that I have experienced the faithfulness of God as He has met me here in a way that I have been searching for for a long long time.  When I think back on my life, I see a huge change, as anyone should, in how I view the world.  Some things I liked what I saw, other things I really didn't.  I have become much more cynical as the years have passed.  It seems that the joy that I once had about living life was only a glimmer of the roaring flame that it used to be.  "What has happened to me?!?!?!" I kept thinking.  I chalked it up to simply growing older, it's how everyone gets.  But I don't wanna be like everyone else.  I want to be different.  I always want to be an exception to the world's "rules" of growing old.

Well, I am happy to report that as I said before, God has met me here in a very beautiful way.  I feel my eyes open and my hunger for righteousness and truth begin to roar in my heart, and with it has come a passion for living, for excellence, for encouragement that I have yearned for for so long.  I am not ready to share at this point what it was that brought about the change, but for those of you that are in the same boat as I was/am, don't give up!  Keep pressing forward, the seeds that you are planting now will grow up one day.  It's a gift that I believe God wants to give each of His children, and we should not be meek in asking for it, nor should we grow weary in our persistence of pleading at His feet for the seemingly mythical joy that "surpasses all understanding".  How many of you reading this can honestly say that you always feel that joy?  I hope all of you!  But if you can't honestly say that then land on your knees and beg God for it.  He loves you and He won't hold back!  There is more to it than that as I have learned...but that is another topic for another time.  But trust me, it's there for the taking!  

I believe that the gifts of God are as unwavering as His nature is.  Comfort, contentment, joy, righteousness, all the fruits of the spirit.  They do not rise and fall with the tides of this world, but remain constant, and if we are running after these things (which in essence is running after Christ and His character) then we will become solid people.  A beacon for others that are drowning in the ups and downs of this "roller coaster" of life.

Another thing that I have learned is that I should have expected the opposition I have faced here in Korea.  If you look at the life of David, every time God gave him something worth fighting for, worth living for, his enemies flooded him.  But every man that has ever lived that has a strength of character worth admiring has been put through the ringer, and has the scars to prove it.  "The steps that lead to thrones are stained with spattered blood, and scars are the price for scepters.  We will wrestle our crowns off the giants we conquer." L.B. Cowman.  I love this quote, because it tells me that one of the surest ways of knowing we are on the right path is by the level of opposition to get there.

I desire to be a man of God, strong and capable of great tenderness and love, but in the same capacity the strength to lead nations.  I believe that they go hand in hand.  So I can honestly say, bring the hard times on!  This year will be full of challenges, but my eyes are open and my heart is ready.  I know I'm not alone.  

A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Crowns are cast in crucibles, and the chains of character found at the feet of God are forged in earthly flames. - L.B. Cowman

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


DH Building 3F Wonderland

Yeongdeungpogu Shingil 6 Dong

Seoul, Korea 4327


Hello to everyone once again!  Well it has been coming up on 7 weeks since I came, so almost 2 whole months!  Time is starting to go a little faster, while still not "flying by" I feel like it is somewhat back to normal.  There have been several recent developments since my last post that I wanted to update everyone on.  

First of all when I am coming home, for those of you wondering.  As of right now, my contract will end on November 27 of 2009, and seeing as we are actually IN 2009 it makes that time feel much more attainable.  HOWEVER, I will NOT be flying directly to NC.  I will be making a pit stop in St. Louis to visit family for a week, possibly two, depending on my financial situation as well as the hospitality of Matt's parents.  I am really looking forward to this since my little niece will be walking and possibly even talking, she should be loads of fun!  I am already making plans of what I want to do with everyone while I am there, haha.  

Secondly I want to tell you about my apartment.  It has been quite dreary in here since I moved in, dull cream colored wall paper, wooden floors, white counter top white dresser and white desk, all of which seemed to just come together in one big piece of dull.  Oh yes, not to mention my lap top and speakers are white as well.  White bookshelves, the lot...I felt like I was living in E'ore's bottom.  However, thanks to Christian I now have picture frames, candles and candle holders with pretty pastel colors that just so happen to match my bed spread.  I realize that that last sentence may have sounded a bit metro sexual, (we wont' go all the way with this one...) but the simple fact is that I like pastel colors, so deal...now all that I need is some pictures to actually put in my picture frames and I will be set!  So anyone that would like to have their beautiful face adorn my wall and desk please send your photos to me!  I would like to make a collage of sorts if enough people send me mail.  So if you are reading this and know some of my friends please spread the word!  I will provide my address at the end of this post.  

So that is the good news about my apartment, I do however have some bad news.  My toilet is clogged and the repair man has already waited 4 days to come and fix it.  Trust me, he WILL regret that decision.  

Some more news actually does not come from here in Korea but comes from back home.  My parents bought a new car!  That likely doesn't come as all that exciting news to any of you reading this but it is exciting to me.  No it does not mean that I get their old car when I get home, however I am excited for them.  They bought one of those super economically friendly cars, which is pretty cool.  Infact it is so economically friendly I don't even think it uses gas, I think that it runs on the tears of squirrels or something like that.  The only thing that is coming out of that exhaust pipe are little baby foxes.  It's an SUV also, so I think that if you were to take it off roading you can actually see it HEALING the earth as it drives through the forest!  

As I am writing this my so called "specialist" toilet man has arrived.  He looks like a guy straight off of "The World's Deadliest Catch".  Armed with only a plunger in one hand and a wrench in the other he is going to work.  Normally I would think that they would need to call in some back up, however, one look in this man's eyes and I can tell that he has seen horrors beyond what most men have/and should never have to witness.  I fear that if he can't fix it, then no one can.

Another development is, and I thought that I would never say this, graduate school!  I do not know if I will actually go, but for the first time (aside from entertaining the thoughts of seminary back in the day...) I am strongly considering going and getting my masters in either education or English.  What made me come to this point is a couple of things.  One, many people have been encouraging me that I would be a really good teacher.  The idea has always appealed to me, even if only mildly.  Now that I am here and teaching, while different than in the states granted, I really really like it!  Not only that but I have found a new passion for reading and for literature that I didn't have before.  I know that I relate well to teens, so perhaps this would be a good fit.  I am still in the beginning stages of researching opportunities and where each degree will take me, so we shal have to see.  If you could please remember to be in prayer with me about this I would really appreciate it, cuz it would be a huge change!  

Let me sign off by saying a few more things that I have enjoyed about Korea.  First of all, my church, I LOVE my church.  Despite it's enormous size I have really enjoyed it.  I look forward to having small groups start up again in either March of February, I forget...but I will definitely be joining one!  The pastor is fantastic, I love his passion for the church, it is obvious that he truly cares about each and every ministry that is present.  I got the opportunity to meet him a few weeks ago and it was truly a pleasure.  I hope that God will allow me many more face to face opportunities with him.  

Another thing that I love is the orphanage ministry.  (Yes I said love in both of those paragraphs...)  My favorite kid is Sang Ook.  While I don't actually know the spelling of his name I am pretty sure that is it.  He knows my name now and he runs and jumps in my arms whenever I see him.  He especially loves when I do "superman" with him.  I pick him up and fly him around the room.  It can get pretty tiring, but I enjoy it, I like to see him laugh and smile and just regular kid for a change.  They have SEVERE discipline issues, but Christian says that they are getting better.  

Well that is all for now, thank you all for reading and I look forward to seeing each of you when I return, much love!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Growing on me

Well, I think that it is time for a new post.  My last one started off fairly negative, and yes, perhaps even harsh.  Well folks you might want to sit down for this one...but I am actually done with bashing Korea.  Because despite the smells and the traffic and overall completely different way of life here, I am actually starting to like it, a little...it is all very different, that is for sure, and I still don't LOVE it, but it is growing on me.  So this post is going to be me listing a few things that I actually like about this place.

First of all the people.  Very friendly people, and always willing to share.  At least the kids in my classes are like this, as for everyone else I haven't yet had the opportunity to experience their "giving spirit", but I am sure that they have one.  

Secondly Korean kids are really cute.  It's just a fact.  I don't know what it is but almost every kid I have come across here is simply adorable.  

Third thing, just an over all happy spirit.  Even on the trash cans it says, "isn't it nice to have all of your dreams come true".  Yes, it's cheesy, yes, it makes no sense that it is on a trash can, however, it does represent the overall view that many Koreans have about life.  It is just good to be here.

Fourth is my job.  Yes, it is political, yes my boss says and does stuff that I don't agree with, however, despite it all I really do enjoy it.  It has made me think of pursuing education when I get home.  While I don't know if I will, it is something I will be looking into as time goes on.  

That's about all that I have for now, at least things that stick out.  The things that I hated when I first got here are slowly beginning to be more tolerable.  I still miss friends and family quite a bit, but my experience here is improving.  So God Bless Korea and all of it's craziness, til next time...goodbye and God Bless!


Monday, December 29, 2008


Well everyone it has been a while since I posted so I think I am due.  Thank you for hanging in there while I get adjusted to this whole "blogging" thing.  Let me start off by telling you a few stories about Korea and Japan...

First of all Korea, the smell, all I can say is AWFUL.  Yes, you heard me, awful...from the moment I stepped onto this "sacred soil" I have been covering my nose.  Whenever I get a cold and my nose gets clogged up it is a love hate relationship.  On the one hand I want to be comfortable and I like to be able to breathe through my nose, on the other I am thankful that I don't have to take in any of the wretched stink that is Korea.  

My family ate some Kimchi in my honor on Christmas eve (Kimchi is what makes everything and everyONE smell so bad...) it was so wretched that they had to stick the left overs outside.  So not only does it taste bad but it also smells bad too.  I guess it is one of those things that you have to eat from when you are a baby to actually be able to appreciate it.

This kimchi that they eat at breakfast lunch and dinner permiates through every orphis in the Korean's body, sending off a stink that is bound to be eating away at the ozone layer.  Seriously people, if anything is causing global warming it's the odor that these people spew from every hole in their body 24/7.  I sat next to this one man on the subway who, I am convinced is responsible for the mild winter we are having BY HIMSELF!!  I actually got off the train and waited for another train to come by.  It was that bad.  A friend of mine told me after I complained about how bad it smelled, "oh come on, you know you love these people...!"  Love the sinner and hate the sin, that's all I have to say about that...

That is only one of my many complaints, but for the sake of time I will leave it at that...secondly Japan.  Now Japan doesn't smell as bad, while they still eat Kimchi it must be a dumbed down version of it because I haven't been as repulsed so far.  However, I do have one major complaint about Japan's so called "safety regulations" when it comes to the cross walk.  

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I see the little man light up all green and glorious it means that it is finally SAFE for me to walk across.  Apparently that is not the case in Japan.  More like the OPPOSITE of safe!  I had more cars coming at me when I tried to walk when it was green than I saw when it was red!  I almost got hit like 11 times in just two crossings!  So if you ever go to Japan I suggest scoping out the area and get a hotel that you will spend the most time on that side of the street first.  All I can gather is that the little green light only assures me that I won't get a ticket for my poor decision to try and cross the road.  

While I am completely serious about what I wrote about above I will be a little more somber now.  Things in Korea have not been what I expected them to be, incase you hadn't figured that out already...spending Christmas away from friends and family was one of the harder things I have had to do in a while.  I am honestly thankful that Christmas is over so that I won't have to dread it anymore.  I didn't think that it would be that big of a deal, but it really was.  I guess that no matter how much I fight being a "homebody" it's exactly what I am.  I'm a country boy through and through and I belong where there are mountains, cook outs and sweet tea.

However, I can't say that I regret my decision to come, because God has already been working on my heart, from the first few days I got here He has given me a desire to renew my mind and to fight for the joy I had once found but somehow lost in Him.  I have been reading all kinds of books on grace and love and the character of God that has truly been reshaping my heart and mind to what kind of a God I have decided to follow, the God that I have chosen to spend my life falling in love with.  I can't say that I have sought after God the way that I ought to, and by putting it off for so long I know I have missed out on a lot of things, but I'm getting back on track and for that I am incredibly grateful.  This last week however God has been pressing upon my heart one thing in particular that I'd like to share with everyone, and that is contentment.  

I am not a very content person, flat out.  This "virtue" doesn't come easy nor naturally in any way for me.  It seems that no matter where I go or what I do I always wanna be doing something else, being someone else, or living somewhere else.  This unsetteled sense of disbelonging has led me through several different jobs and states and even countries.  Every time I would say, "this is it...I've found it...finally I will be happy, finally Ill be settled, finally I'll be CONTENT in life."  However that isn't the case.  Contentment is an issue of the heart, and the heart doesn't change with location, or occupation, it only SEEMS like it does.  These things typically become a distraction from dealing with our hearts.

I thought that moving furniture, or waiting tables, or working in a group home, or a car salesman, whatever it was that I was doing was somehow not enough.  I told myself it wasn't enough for God, that He deserved more from me.  However, as I have learned over this last month and a few odd weeks is that is a lie that I have believed, and many of us do believe, it's one of the easier lies to welcome into our hearts and minds.  It makes sense right?  God has gifted me this way, or my desires are this, or I have a college degree, what in the world am I doing being a pack mule for some two bit moving company?  Well...the truth is that it IS enough.  It's enough for God.  Therefore, who am I to say that it isn't enough for me?  Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe that we should become complacent with where we are at, nor with what we are doing.  God has gifted us in different ways, but just because you aren't doing exactly what you WISH you were doing, don't think that you are somehow letting God down.  When we really believe that, and realize that God is taking pleasure in us then we can be satisfied knowing that we need not do anything else to feel God's favor on us.  

The other thing that I have learned along the same lines is that contentment is a CHOICE.  I have never really thought of it that way.  The verse that has been playing in my head over and over again is Phillippians 4:11-13: "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  I any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Perhaps some of you are going, "yeah yeah yeah...I know that one...give me some REAL incite Kelly..."  Well that IS real incite!  The key word there is "learned".  It isn't something that we are naturally born with, we have to figure it out, contentment is a learned condition of the heart!  And if it is learned then you must first CHOOSE to learn it.  

I must confess once more that I have not chosen contentment.  I have chosen to be discontent, and discontentment takes many forms.  While I have not figured it all yet, nor can I truthfully say that I am completely content right now.  However, I am going to continue to pray to learn what contentment means, and how to get it.  I miss my friends and my family and normal food an awful lot.  I miss hopping in my car and going for a drive with the windows down and the music blasting.  I miss trudging through the wet lawn to Danny's house hoping I don't step in dog poop in my bare feet.  I miss watching Friday Night Lights at Mark's house on Wednesday nights.  I miss coming home and relaxing with mom and dad, talking about the day.  I hate knowing that I am here in Korea and I have to watch my niece grow up on a webcam.  So many things that I could continue to dwell upon, things that make every day here harder than I ever thought it would be.  But life goes on, and so do people.  I can only pray that while I am gone I can grow in Christ and learn to be content no matter what the circumstances.  To find the joy that transcends my income, occupation or even being single.  I have too much to be thankful for, too much to learn, too much to joy to find in this life to waste my time being discontent.  

Thank you all for reading and God Bless all my friends back home, I will see you all before you know it!  

Much love