11/29/2016: Helen-Class Cruiser

11/29/2016: Helen-Class Cruiser

5:08pm – 5:55pm  edited 10:03pm

Sometimes, in the war-games that I play, I liken my life in the spirit to a fleet of ships. How I seek Him, how I love Him, how I pursue and follow and obey Him, is reflected on the condition of my ships. When I am weak spiritually, my fleet is, naturally, very weak. However, there are other ships, and technologies from others, that I incorporate into my fleet to make it stronger.

Throughout my life, there have been people and organizations who, in the spirit, influenced me greatly, whom I admire, and whom I spent a lot of time with. Those people or groups may come through my life and leave, but the memories of them, the influence they have on me, is imprinted in my life for at least a very long time.

I admire those people or groups, and I begin to copy them, to emulate their strengths, their personalities, their desires and will, from what I know of them. I build a cruiser, a destroyer, using their technology. Some people and groups have stand-alone ships, some are incorporated into the rest of my fleet, and others have both.

In the Army, one of the people I admired spiritually was Endora. I saw her as someone who loves God, who has a passion, a deep love for Him. So I began to seek God using, to the best of my knowledge, of her worship to God. I jokingly told myself that I have an Endora-class cruiser.

Now, before I continue, I want to let everyone know that the root of all cruisers is God. The root of all Endora-class cruisers, Helen-class cruisers, Bethel technology, is God. To worship anyone else is idolatry. But each of us have different spiritual strengths of seeking Him and it is learning from others, of how they worship God, their mindset, their knowledge, their learnings, that I get to grow and enrich my experience with God and to help me to be closer to Him.

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Many times, when I struggle in my faith, it is those ships, those special classes of ships, that can effectively fight against the enemy. Just like in the Bible when God ordered that Judah go first to fight against his brother Benjamin, sometimes it is those ships, that go first to fight against the enemy, because the rest of my fleet, the ones mostly built by me, are too weak or they lack the weaponry that these other ships have.

When I’m weak in spirit, sometimes I think of other Christian heroes and they inspire me to continue or fight on.  The songs from Bethel, Hillsongs, and the many artists from K-Love, the preachings from Ignite, the leaders and disciples that I get to mingle and grow with, all gave me their influence, their technology, their knowledge and wisdom, their passion, their mindset, their reasons, to worship, love, and seek God.  I would not get far in my relationship with God if I were to just seek Him alone, using my own mindsets and technology.  As Christian brothers and sisters, we need to learn from each other, to share our discoveries with God, so we can collectively be empowered to fight against the enemy.

 

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8/8-9/2013: Let It Go

8/8-9/2013: Let It Go

S: 11:42pm
E: 12:31am

I have so much to write, I have so little to write. I don’t know what to write about. Life right now feels surreal. I am now alone all the time. I try. I try so hard to be with people, to love God, to do and be my version of the Spiritual Man according to Watchman Nee. However, I try, even with God, and failed. Anna told me something that cheered and gave me hope. She told me to stop trying. “In other words,” Anna wrote, “stop fighting, let GOD FIGHT FOR YOU.” Later, she texted, “Steven.. Just let go.” I replied, “Ok, I will try to let go and just depend on God. thanks.” Maybe the key to victory and success is not really to try, because man is weak, but to “just let go” and let God take over. I knew that concept before and I applied it in the Army. Somehow, I forgot. The Bible has many instances where God just told Israel to stand and watch. He will do the battle for them. But, there are other instances where man tried and, due to their efforts, they won. I’m thinking of Jonathan’s courageous charge that changed the tide of a battle. There are times when all the Israelites were asked are to sing, or to just take up battle positions, or to just stay and watch and let God do the fighting.

At least I’m putting some of my time into good use. Yesterday, I renewed my Texas Vehicle Inspection sticker, and studied the THEA (Texas Higher Education Assessment) because I’m thinking of becoming a teacher. I also took advantage of the Valore Books offer of buy or rent three books and get the fourth for free. I went to the UTEP bookstore website and found I only needed three books. So, I choose the fourth book of my choice. I chose the ASWB Bachelor’s Study Guide so I can get a head-start on preparing for the social work examination. It is the test that matters. I was going to get a book on military strategy or an introductory updated book on Social Work but I reasoned that, for the military strategy, I already have a book about it, and knowledge concerning Social Work tends to be updated frequently. If I buy the introductory book, it may be obsolete in a decade.

Today, my main mission is to spend time with God and to organize. I did more organizing than God. I cleared my old mail and receipts. I put things back where they belonged. I placed my old schoolwork from my summer classes into archives and got ready, at least on paper, for the Fall semester. A remarkable thing is I did all of them without really trying. I wanted to do them so I just did them. Granted, I also played a lot of games on the side but I feel it is a big improvement than me trying to get things done. Hmm, I remember the song by Rascal Flatts “When you change the way you look at things / the things you look at change.” I wanted to worship God and to clean my life up so I did it without really trying. My divisions (army) are tired and weak. They cannot try anymore. I already exhausted its strength. Oh and I glued my car side-mirror back on.

Tomorrow, I may further organize my room and go to McDonalds to study the THEA. I want to do that. I want to go to McDonalds so I can study and be with people and enjoy the food. Ever since McDonalds have the $1 McDouble promotion, I realized that the restaurant has a dollar menu! I can buy any burger and drink for only $1, plus tax. Compared to buying my own burger patties, which at Albersons cost $1 for 1 when it’s on sale, it is a good deal. I not only get the patty but the bun, the vegetable, the condiments, and it’s already cooked and prepared for $1. McDonalds might be my new military DFAC (dining facility). And they got Wi-Fi, too, and I haven’t tried it yet. And it’s convenient, only a short drive from my flat. I could walk, like I did to Don Haskins Center for Danny’s graduation, but I’m lazy. Well, maybe I should walk. I could use the PT (physical exercise).

Danny and Shawna’s family has been calling me regularly but I always had my phone on silent. Well, they stopped calling me today, but still. I told myself that if I am going to give up, I will at least walk up to them and give them a chance. I think they are one of the families that love me. My mail goes to their place although not anymore. I changed everything to be sent to my residence address now. I know my landlord told me before that it could be dangerous to send mail here because people in my area may steal them but I, after much bitter thinking last week, decided that the alternative is better. Back then, I want to avoid them. I don’t want to walk up to the front door and see them just so I can get my mail. I already did my best with God and I failed. Why should I be with people again? Why should I try again? I’m just going to fail again, I reasoned.

Danny probably would have never thought I would leave. Before, I wanted to help him on his college applications. But when I had the time and was available, Danny told me he’s busy, that he has to “work.” I wondered to myself if their family is too busy to prepare Danny for college, then they are probably busy at the wrong things. I still want to help him; I still want to help everyone, including my church. But, I can’t go back, not yet. It is too painful. Failing or failure especially when I gave me weak little all with God is too traumatizing. I will continue to follow Anna’s advice to “Just let go” and let God “FIGHT FOR YOU.”

Speaking of Anna, I texted her yesterday that either I or her can call each other in the afternoon and I should have called her. I thought the advice she gave me is enough. Well, it probably is, but one thing I learned in the Army is to communicate and understand, even if the communication is weak, because it is better than nothing. With nothing, someone can come and influence things and make it much harder for me. I’ll try to call her again today (its past midnight). I don’t care if I can’t perform at 100% or even 50% of my best. As long as I have a lifeline with her, that is what matters.

PS: And to give a more complete picture (since I feel I am being more split-minded than before), what if I don’t want to talk to her? What if I don’t feel like talking to her when the time comes? Should I still talk to her? Should I *try* to talk to her? Well, a promise, if I told her I will call, is a promise, so regardless of how I feel, I should still call her. It’s like I may not feel like going to class but I have to so I do the best I can to make adjustments and do it. Actually, it’s not really a promise. I made that sentence to her a question mark. I might call her or she might call me. I can’t make promises anymore. I told myself that. Look at all the promises I made to God. “My best resolves I only break.” My credit rating (spiritually) is too low for me to make any more promises. When I talk to God, I no longer make any promises, except for emergencies. Instead, I tell Him that I will try or for Him to change me and/or make me do what I said.

7/18/2013: Good-bye (Public Version)

7/18/2013: Good-bye (Public Version)

S: 1:05am
E: 1:30am

I know it is late and I have class at 11:40am tomorrow. I have been reading a few blogs or discoveries in the past and it conveys how I feel now. Maybe I shouldn’t write anything about myself anymore. I feel unwanted, unloved, unneeded, un-everything. The only difference between now and then is my grammar and a little more wisdom to know what to write. Some people suck at life and I am one of them. I suck at living in this world. I should have been dead long ago, if it’s not for Jesus. I was going to change myself for the worse, but I realized that in order for me to survive in this world, I need to do the strength, courage, wisdom approach. The blogs I write today I am not likely to read until maybe five or ten years from now. And, I probably will publish them but it will be private due to the judgments of men.

I feel like the song “I wanna run away never say good-bye….” I just want.. I just want nothing to do with people. I feel so hated and so alone. How long O Lord, how long? I can’t take this anymore. I.. I am taking too much pain. It is too painful for me. I just want to surrender.. and let God be my Judge because He sees the heart.

I feel this time there will be no remedy. In the past, I got remedies, I got help, but most likely, not this time. My best friend Waley is gone. I’m living alone. I can just ignore my church. As for my mail which is sent to a church family, I can just make cold visits to collect it. Worse case, I’ll just open a P.O. box. No big deal, at least, better than the alternative. I’m not in the Army anymore so I don’t have that responsibility.

I remember when just getting into UTEP was a big deal. I remember when getting into my Social Work program was a big deal. Now, I feel it is all a curse. Why should I struggle, to continue, to suffer more? I feel I am just getting small victories but losing the big ones. And those “small” victories are not victories at all. They just cause more pain and suffering and hardship.

I feel like I’m an “undesirable.” If this is World War II and I lived in an Axis country, I would have died. I am useless or at the very least, I think too much.

Lord, part of me writing this discovery is also to talk to you. cde. God, I don’t know what went wrong. I thought I did my best to follow You. Of course I messed up and I get depressed, but ——————————————————————. All things come to an end, except your Eternal Kingdom. God, I have a lot of desires, needs, and wants, and You know them. Not because I verbalize them but because You already know, and more than that. God, maybe I am a loser. I am a loser. I try. I am a person who honestly tried to do good, to better myself, to follow you and through You to improve myself, to be with people, to help people, and to do everything that is good. Lord, I feel like.. sometimes I feel like you are not there, that you don’t care about me. But Lord, I told myself that even if I feel that You are not there, I am still going to love You to the end. If my end is tomorrow then so be it.

God, you don’t have to but if you want to, please help me. Grant me my wishes, God. Let me know that You still care and love me. I need a —————————————————————————————————————————–. I really want to. The only reason why I’m still alive, why I still choose to live in this world is because I feel I still want to fight. But I’m fighting a losing battle because my morale is very low and it can only increase if you help me. Help me by giving me the girl you give me. Any girl you give me will be perfect, very good at least. I don’t want to be with people anymore. I don’t want to do anything, to progress in life anymore. I just want to rest and do what I want —————-.

But if I cannot do what I really want, —————— because what I really want will or should be what God really wants me to do. But I am depressed. I am seeking escape. I am playing computer games again. I don’t want to ———————————. This world sucks. I lose in this world. I want to win somewhere else. But I know it is this world that counts and the spiritual world that really counts. Sigh. Lord I’ve been travelling for so long so long. Seems like I’m always saying so long, so long. My pockets are all empty I got nothing more to lose, so take me home to Gloryland and take away my blues. Lord I feel far away from home. And I’m awful tired of singing all alone. Take me home to the Glory, I know that I’ll be then. That I’ll never have to say good-bye again.

4/9/2013: Happenings / God of Justice

4/9/2013: Happenings / God of Justice

S: 9:49pm
E: 10:00pm

Really quick because I’m only giving myself ten minutes. I probably would write like crap lol.

Yesterday, I had a strategic discussion with myself. I realized, on all my fronts (my church, youth group, studies, volunteering for Community Solutions, etc), I have been losing. I looked at each “front” or main issue and I thought about it logically. What can I do to improve it? I’m glad that, despite social isolation, I still have wisdom that comes from God; I still have that light. I realized that it is all pretty hopeless. I decided to stage a “fighting retreat,” which is to simply withdraw my fronts. After all, if I am losing and there’s nothing I can do about it (spend a lot of time thinking solutions), I might as well retreat. And I was thinking about retreating in life as well.

However, today, due to an event and past memories of how God has helped me and how I remembered telling myself that “As long as I can talk to God, I will be content,” one thing I will never withdraw from is talking to God because I realized that everything I get, everything I have, stems from God. Yes, even people. The reason how I can even interact with people is because I have confidence from God.

There’s more that I want to write about my discoveries but I may have to leave it unwritten because of time.

I’m still in the Army; I’m in the Christian Army. This is my duty station, I forgot. I need to spend my time praying and watching, and if God tells me to, to start acting. If the military calls me up then my duty station will be changed. It was at Ft. Sill, it was at Kuwait, and it was at Fort Bliss, and now it is here. I realized everything starts with the spirit. I forgot that but now I remembered. Physical training will be easier if I start with spiritual training first.

Serbia’s national anthem is titled “God of justice.” May the God of justice, the God of mercy, and the God of grace be with me.

Poker: A Game of Probability | An Ace in My Hand

*Special English Edition*

1/24/2012:  Poker: A Game of Probability | An Ace in My Hand

This is probably taboo for me to share but once when I was in basic training at Ft. Sill, OK, a group of soldiers in my barracks started playing Texas hold’em.  It was night-time and the drill sergeants left to sleep.

I went to the group to watch them play.  I didn’t want to join because they are playing for real money.. or real candy.  The soldiers there were betting fives and cough drops.  Well, they pressured me to join because they threatened to call me a wuss and make fun of me in day-time if I don’t.  So I joined.  I had some cough drops so I used that as a buy-in.  The soldiers used them as poker chips.

In the beginning, I started to lose, but I began to relearn the game.  Before this time, I played it on Yahoo! but I was very bad.  Yet, a strange thing happened.  I was pressured to join and then to eventually to play for money.  It was a late night thing.  I put in $20 (I think, or is it ten?) and I began to play wisely.  If I have a good hand, I would make bets.  I would make fake facial expressions to help throw people off.  I would look at how other players play and watch them to get intelligence.  And then I started winning.  

I started winning hand after hand.  Of course, I didn’t win every hand, just the hands that count.  After a while I got $40 in winnings.  I tried to tell the soldiers that we should stop and call it a day.  Not only is it prohibited, I think, in the military, and especially during basic training, but I am also taking other people’s money and I don’t want negative repercussions in the future because of that.  

But the soldiers playing refused to give up.  They told me they “want to get my money back” so they continued to pay more and I.. continued to win more.  Throughout this whole time, I kept saying “lets cancel the game” and “I’ll give all your money back” because I was scared.  We were playing on a soldier’s bunk bed using flashlights because everybody else was asleep.  It is past midnight.  I had about $80 to my name when a soldier suddenly ran to us and said, wild-eyed, that a drill sergeant is coming.  All of us were shocked and we were all trying to put the cards away, throwing bunks and beds, and trying to run back to our areas pretending to be asleep.  

I thought I was going to be caught red-handed and, for a moment, I really thought so.  I realized I probably couldn’t buff pretending I was sleeping so I quickly got my folder out, some notebook papers with miscelleous writing on it, a pen, and pretended that I was writing a letter.  If the drill sergeant asks, I could just say I was writing a letter to my mom.  

Thanks to the shock, I got what I wanted.  I convinced the soldiers to cancel the game and I returned everybody’s money back.  It was a close call and it was the only time I played for real money.

I *probably* won’t play for real money again but recently, I started to play poker, too.  It’s all for free though, and for imaginary chips.  I feel I started to learn how to really play the game.
Sun Tzu once said that if you know yourself, you can expect to win at least half of the time.  I hope, my reading this article, that you can win at least half of the time.  “知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆.”

One tool that helped me a lot is a poker calculator.  If you are thinking about playing poker, I seriously suggest you get one.  I downloaded a free calculator in my computer and I use it all the time when I play poker.  Why should you get one?  Because having a calculator tells you your odds of winning given the hand you have, and the situation at the table.  I don’t have the time in-game to calculate every single card so I just do the basic: I calculate the two cards in my own hand.  After some experience, you will learn to see the cards on the table and form a general picture.

Yeah, you should probably fold this time.

Poker is a game of probability and, so far, the adage “go big or go home” rings true.  By using the calculator and thus knowing your odds and by knowing the various possible combinations and the likelihood of them plus the possibility of winning if those cards were to happen based on the cards already set on the table, the player can truly know him or herself.  Watching the World Series of Poker on YouTube is also a good way to gain some exposure.

Second, much harder and without complete infallibility, is the ability to know your opponent.  It takes time to know how your opponents play so I generally play defensive for the first couple of rounds to try to scope out my enemies.  Some players are aggressive and they bet every round.  That means, in some of the rounds, their hands are not good, and if they win more than they proportionally should, they are buffing on some of the rounds.  There are others that are just plain dumb and would go all-in just to make the game go faster.  Then, two or three other players would do the same and within a short period of time, the tournament just lost three people with a huge chip leader.  However, if that happens, there is still hope.  That chip leader is willing to take big risks so there is a chance of big rewards if you know yourself and stay true to it by not folding when the pressure gets hard.

A player can have the perfect starting hand and still lose.  That is why it is wise, generally, to bet in according to what you have.  If you have a good hand, be more aggressive, if a bad hand and the stakes are too high, then fold.  

If a player only bets the first round and checks the second, there is a 80% probability that their hand is not good and they are having doubts.  It’s all psychology.  If that’s the case, place a bet.  That player will likely fold.

If the player bets very high initially, there is a 80% chance that he or she has a good hand.  If you have a poor hand, then fold.  You can still win, but the odds are against you.

If the player bets very high initially and continues to bet high, there is a 80% chance that he or she got something or a combo they wanted.  But, if you know yourself and your cards and you believe it, you can play along (don’t raise it) and pretend to let your opponent know that you are unsure and have doubts.  Then that person may try to raise it higher to get you to fold but you prove them wrong.  In general, never raise or bet unless you have a good chance of getting a good set.

If the player bets high initially and then only checks afterwards, that player may be having doubts.  

After a while, when the opponent thinks they know how you play, you can change your playing style a little.  Start bluffing a little bit, especially when the opponent has doubts as described above.  I won many rounds with a poor hand because I made my enemy think that my hand is better than his or that somehow the cards on the table just gave me a jackpot.  Of course, your enemy might be thinking what you are thinking so it is all a chance.  You just have to know when to take that chance and be willing to go all-in if you do.

Application to Real Life:

Like in the game of poker, take calculated risks.  If you think something has a chance to be more good than bad, then take the risk, but be willing to back off if the situation changes.  One difference to real life is not to lie and to be honest because God sees.  If what I’m doing doesn’t turn out to be expected, is doing harm, or most likely won’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I would back down.  We can trick people but we can’t trick God and He is the judge.

Some days I have good hands and other days not so good, but, I find that the days that God is in it, somehow I have an ace in my hand.

1/22/2013: 最喜歡得食物和我今天

1/22/2013: 最喜歡得食物和我今天

E: 10: 33

有一個輕朋友問我一個問題。我先前有跟他講我在學中文。他問我:

你說你來過台灣,很喜歡這裡的食物,請問你印象最深刻的美食是什麼呢?

我回答:

我覺得在台灣什麼食物都好吃。 我喜歡他們的飯加肉。我記得在晚上有人在路上賣吃的。好好吃又便宜。我也喜歡麻婆豆腐。點心我喜歡吃芭樂和荔枝。有一個點心只有台灣有是雪冰。他們拔冰塊打很碎和加味道好像冰淇淋一樣。喔我也喜歡蔥油餅。

他有改我。他說 ”飯加肉” 是 “肉燥飯。”  我好笨呢。

所以今天是我上課得第一天。我的班是 “Introduction to Social Work.”  我吃了很快得早餐然後就馬上走路去上學。沒有,我沒有吃蔥油餅或是肉燥飯哈哈。我就吃我自己做得。有肉,菜,奶,飯,和維他命。

當我來來到教室時候,我發現椅子都在一個圓圈 li。教授有叫每個人分享為什麼我們想當一個社工人。我跟他們講是因為我在兵隊 li 的時候,上帝有幫助我好多。但是那個時候我心情委靡所以我沒有感動得說。我沒有做一個好的 first impression (因為我昨天寫得)。沒關係,下一次我努力一點。

12/31/2012: My Reflection

12/31/2012:  My Reflection

{S: 10:42pm}  Traditionally, I write an end-of-the-year blog to reflect and summarize my life in that year.  I prefer to put this in writing first and then type it out but I am still working on myriads of undiscovered discoveries.  Frankly, I don’t really know what say except of something I thought of a few days earlier.  Before I continue, I want to write that I really don’t feel like writing.  My mind is disorganized and I feel I need to focus more on God.  But, I will do the best I can.  This will be like a forced march.

For my whole life, I have been struggling with how to live, and more specifically, on how to deal with people.  It occurred to me that I never really knew how to live with people.  I have a lot of preconceived notions about them and I am a loner most of my life.  Thus, many times when I deal with people, I get depressed, anxious, hopeless, irrational, and disturbed.  My old motto which I pray every day to God is “give me strength, give me courage, and above all, give me wisdom” helped a lot.  It allowed me to act properly thanks to wisdom from the Bible, which comes from God.  Through God’s wisdom, or a little bit of it, I am able to navigate the waters of personal relationships almost smoothly.  I want to add one, no I mean two, more ideas into this concoction.  The first is humility.  Though I understand it and know about it, I don’t really understand it and know about it.  I need to be humble in my interactions with others because our times are in God’s hands.  God is in control of everything.  What happens to us and our destiny is dependent on our relationship with God.  Joseph, in the book of Genesis, is dependent and follows God.  With that, it doesn’t matter what else he does because God’s plan for him, which is to save Egypt and his brothers and father from famine (Gen. 37:9), will be fulfilled no matter what.  God himself will make it happen because Joseph follows God’s will for his life.  He went from prison to second-in-command of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world during that time.  I don’t need to be so self-conscious about what I will say or do.  I don’t need to worry so much about how I act in front of people to get the desired results.  The main thing I need to do is to do God’s will and He himself will fulfill it.  I just need to trust and follow Him.  The second reason to be humble is because God “gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

The last idea I want to add to that concoction is the thought that “as Christians, we should be optimistic because God has already won the war.”  Many times, I wallow in sadness and defeat.  When bad things come, when nobody loves me or care for me, I just sink into despair.  In that state, I make wrong choices.  But why should I be in this state?  Why should I feel defeated?  Christ has already won the victory.  Satan will be defeated.  It is foretold in the book of Revelation.  We can lose every battle but still win the war.  And actually, the battles that we think we lose on the outside, are actually victories if that person is fighting with God.  So, there is no reason for me to feel down or depressed when I “lose” a battle.  I should still be optimistic because I know what the final result will be.

Time is running out and I need to publish it before the deadline.  May I continue to grow and follow God in 2013.

{E: 11:53pm}

4/16/2012: Nine to Five

4/16/2012: Nine to Five

S: 10:48pm
E: 11:06pm

As a soldier, I used to work typically from nine (minus one-hour for PT) in the morning to five in the afternoon. I thought since I’m a Christian soldier now, I can do the same thing. However, I realized it isn’t enough.

Today was a good day. I played very little games and I spent most of my time doing productive work and God work. However, after 5pm, the time when I get off in the Army, I told myself I’m free. I can play games and do anything I want, just like in the Army. However, I realized something. God made me and He gave me 24-hour days. I shouldn’t just work for God from nine to five but from five to five. Every minute is from Him and it is only right that I give God all my time.

The first 30-days were a setback for me, and not only spiritually. I re-realized how wonderful being in His presence is. When you pray, just try to seek God. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). He sees the heart. If you try with all your heart, you can be with God. You will know it works when you feel peace and a connection with God. It’s like being with God. And when praying, you don’t have to talk all the time; you can just listen. And when you talk to God, it is ok to say the same things over and over again, as long as you do so with the right heart.

So, instead of playing games, I can just be in His presence. His presence can carry me through.

Lastly, I want to be truthful and honest. If I know, or will later know, that what I am writing or doing is wrong, I will quickly correct it and/or remove it, with wisdom from God.

1/29/2011: Bring people to God

1/29/2011: Bring people to God

S: 6:32am

E: 6:55am

Today, our battery played capture the flag for PT!!! I would have had more fun if I remembered one of the basic principles of evangelism.

I came to PT and my NCO told me the time and location of the first order of business for the day. I knew my NCO don’t like me asking questions, but, I wanted to know for what reason, so, I asked my best friend in the Army. He told me, with a “are you stupid” tone, the same thing my sergeant said. I asked why but he just ignored me. I went away but I felt hurt. I felt hurt because there is no love. I should have left it to that, if I knew that basic principle. However, I didn’t, so I decided try to share my feelings and try to change people.

I told him, “D, I don’t know why you are so mean. I just want to know for what reason (so I can prepare, but I didn’t say that).”

He replied, “Since you are so butt-hurt, don’t talk to me.”

My sergeant, who is in the vicinity, told me why do I want to know? Since I know my sergeant, I didn’t answer him but gave a “hooah sergeant.” Then I went away.

I thought about being completely rational with them but, no, I can’t. I still need to do Christ’s best to love people, even people who hurt me. Then our battery played capture the flag and I tried to be friendly with him. I had fun, and it was intense. I did what I can to help my team. I shout out every time an opponent cross the line (to prevent surprises). Since I see that most players either attack and on all the way or stay behind and defend, I played the role as a multi-fighter. I take defense first, and if I see most of the attacking teammates tagged, I go on “search and rescue” missions and go on the offense. Depending on the situation, I try not to put myself in great danger, so I can retreat and save my teammates again. I call myself the “rescuer.” Heh. Yea, our team won 3-2. Go 14 series :)

It is after the game, when walking to chow, that I remembered the basic principle of evangelism. I tried, without knowing, to change people, to bring God to people, but, as what Watchman Nee wrote, I need to bring people to God first before I bring God to people.

I find that I always try to change people’s behaviors, whether they are too mean, too judging, or too conceited. I find that I cannot change people. I cannot even change myself. None of us can. Only God can change people. I should not be trying to change behaviors or attitudes but to be praying and, with wisdom, leading people to God.

Luke 5:31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

I remember my “Operation Los Angeles” and how much of the days I planned is in prayer. People need to seek God first. They have to have a need for a savior before they can accept Jesus into their hearts. Once that is done, God does the work of changing people. Then they become more loving, caring, patient, understanding, honest, etc. We should not worry about changing people’s outside behaviors or trying to change social issues like the economy, universal healthcare, or even abortion, because like an individual’s behavior, these are simply society’s behavior and beliefs. We need to bring people to God before we can bring God to people.

And also, before I take a dump and shower, I realized that my prayer life has been weak. I spent most of my time praying outside, when walking to and fro. I spent most of my time praying on my “junk” time. On my free time, in my room, I find that I spend a lot of time on Star Kingdoms (the only game I authorized myself to play) and college, but little on prayer. And the times that I do pray, I do something else also! I cannot do that! God says we cannot worship both God and money and that we have to love Him so much that everything else is like hatred compared to God (Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:37). How dare me to add other things and concerns in my own time for Him! I need to repent and spend more time with Him. Without Him, I am nothing. I cannot be “too busy” (from Little Reflections) for God.

 

1/25/2011: The Biblical Standard for Suffering

1/25/2011: The Biblical Standard for Suffering

S: 11:38pm

E: 1:56pm

Due to my lack of preparedness on January 23, I was unprepared for guard. I woke up with just barely enough time to eat beef sausage and bread, pack necessary items, do some hygiene, dress up, and leave. I planned to wake up with barely enough time because I slept late last night so I needed as much rest as I can get before I start my 24-hour guard duty.

I then found out that today, is the last day that 3-43 has guard and it has to be me! Someone else came to us believing he had guard but according to our roster, he didn’t. I considered offering to pay him for taking my shift but the soldiers around me convinced me not to. I’m on the roster and it’s our last guard shift.

It’s not just the physical side that is hard, but the emotional and spiritual side as well. Throughout the day I was tired and I tried to take bits of rest by closing my eyes. One of the soldiers, V, would always harass me by jumping to conclusions. After living with him for almost a year, I can see that he is prideful, arrogant, but also has a good heart and intentions.

He would say, “Wake up, Yeh!” when I wasn’t really sleeping. My eyes were half-closed. I don’t like how he jumps to conclusions without knowing everything. I don’t like how he judges people, not just me but everybody else, based on the limited knowledge he knows. God knows everything; let God be the Judge.

Throughout the day, he would accuse me by making assumptions without looking at the whole evidence. When they were talking questionable sexual things in the evening, V would say, “Earmuffs Yeh!” “I don’t want to damage your innocence!” He assumes I can’t handle what they are talking about but I can. I’ve listened and interacted to their racy conversations many times while also trusting in God. There are also other times, but I forgot. He would say things to provoke me (by making untrue assumptions) and force me to defend myself. After a whole, angered, I would say, “Let God be the Judge.” I told V that he doesn’t know everything, that his accusations are not true or lack other major elements. Once when he was walking outside while opening the gate, I told him privately, “V, you need to stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in God.” I can see from almost a year’s experience that he always trusts in himself and his own strength. I was a bit afraid to tell him that but I’m trying to help him and if me saying this can change him for the better in the future, it will be worth it. He looked at me surprised and replied, “Yeh, I cannot trust in God. I have to trust in myself. If I rely on God, he’s not going to help me all the time.” I think I told him that if he chose to follow Jesus, God will help him all the time.

All the judging and false accusations from my three battle buddies made me upset. When guarding the site (and the first time I actually have live weapons), I would not talk to them. I feel angry and upset and if I do try to defend myself, they will just twist my words and accuse me again. Wisdom came to me and I realized silence is the best answer. Every time they hurt me, I would angrily pray and ask God to judge them. I also asked Him to judge me too but reminding him that I want his mercy and love rather than his justice because “no one living is righteous before you” (Psalms 143:2).

Out of anguish, I would take my pocket Bible out and read the psalms and pray and sing regardless if other soldiers noticing me. I remember a quote from C.S. Lewis saying, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

That is so true. I find that I seek God the most when I’m in pain or when life is hard. I prayed and asked God that if that’s the case, then please make my life hard so I can be with You.

Eventually, my anger would subside and I would tactfully talk to them again, knowing that I need to be like Jesus.

A serious event happened later in the night. Since I was so tired, I slept, along with another soldier (who also didn’t sleep well last night). Midnight chow came and two of the soldiers, there were four of us total, went to eat chow, leaving just V and me. While looking for traffic, I accidently dosed off and a car came. V saw it and we quickly went outside to open the gate. When I came back in the guard shack, he was very upset at me. He told me that I should not be tired, that I have plenty of sleep (while he stayed up all night), and that if I’m tired I should take a walk or pour water on my face. He also made many accusations and judgments on me that are incomplete. When I tried to tell the “truth,” he accused me of making excuses. When I told him that I really can’t stay up, that I’m really tired, he told me he doesn’t want to argue with me anymore. If I were to close my eyes again, he would force me outside the shack. I said I too, agreed with him that I don’t want to argue or make excuses. I just want to put out the truth. The truth is, I can walk outside and stay up if I have to, but the limits of my endurance have been reached. I refuse to suffer anymore. I already suffered so much physically (doing guard), emotionally (their verbal attacks and judging), and spiritually (constantly praying and asking God for help and vindication). I also told him that I’m stressed out because I have two jobs: being a soldier and serving God. He told me I need to meet the SOP (standard operating procedures) which states that I cannot sleep. I told him that the Bible is above the SOP, but the Bible does state to submit to authorities (Titus 3:1). I tried to tell him the truth. I sat back down and then went outside for some water.

Then suddenly, it hit me. I have been saying I’m sick and tired of suffering. That I hate how my life is so hard. Then I remembered what the Bible says about how much suffering is enough.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:4  ).

I cried out to God and asked Him to forgive me. That is the Biblical standard for suffering. In my suffering, I haven’t even come close to shedding blood. I realized that I must be willing to endure and suffer so much more. I realized how weak I am. I must be willing to suffer for Jesus, not so I will lose my petty comfort, but to the point of losing blood. That is hard suffering and that is what the Bible teaches us to endure to.

I stayed outside and walked around, happy that I finally knew what the Biblical standards are. The humvee came back but I continue to stay outside. I washed my eyes with water because it was stinging me. Later, V told me to come back in but “stay awake.” I told him I prefer to be outside.

Oh, and for dinner, thanks to another soldier’s help, we got Chinese and Korean food! I got, along with my SOG (sergeant of the guard), kimchee and rice. The kimchee was very spicy, however, but I ate a lot of rice. Yummy!

After that awakening, that I need to adhere to the Biblical standard of suffering, the rest of the day improved. I did not try to find an easy way out, but I contributed and helped clean the guard area up. Today is the last day our battalion has guard duty. We have to make sure the area is presentable.

Everything went well until near the very end of our shift. That is my second serious incident. We (the guards) found out that 1-44, the battalion replacing us, were not informed of their guard duty. They were simply told they were shadowing us. That means there is a possibility that we have guard again, a 48-hour shift. All of us were upset. To make the long story short, the SOG for 1-44 decided to do the changeover (praise God) but we still had to wait for another sergeant from Echo company to be their shadow SOG. While we are waiting, I proposed many ideas. I said why not two of us take the bus and the other two take the humvee? I began to complain, internally. I thought about what to say to my relay sergeant. I need to prepare and know the approach and words so I might get tomorrow’s PT off. I really want free time. I wanted to scream, or just take off in the humvee because I was upset at our battalions lack of organization in this matter.

I also had a debate with P, another soldier and I did cry and show my tears because I wanted to change them for the better. But after much arguing, I realized what Watchman Nee wrote: “It is not a life changed but exchanged.” V and P were telling me that they believe I want everyone in this world to be like me. I told them, initially, sadly due to my defensive nature, that I didn’t. That everyone is created with an image of God and we need to “shine the light that God gave us.” I admitted, later, that I did act as if everyone should be like me and everyone else not like me is wrong, evil, etc. They accused of being a hypocrite and I did admit it. But, I told them that we all make mistakes, that we are all sinners, and that we all need Jesus.

I have been telling V throughout our guard shift that he needs to “change.” He needs to change his pride, arrogance, tenidency to judge, etc, but I realized all my efforts were in vain. Because they cannot change themselves. According to Watchman Nee, human beings cannot their evil human nature. In order to change a person, that person needs to be exchanged with Christ. I admitted my mistake to V and P and told them not to change, but to exchange your life with Jesus.

However, V told me if I am happy. After some thinking, I told them that I’m not happy (“not as happy as I should be” would be closer to the truth). Then V went on to say the reason why I’m not happy is because I’m too focused on God. That I need to put myself first (not God) and enjoy the pleasures of the world. Then, according to him, I will be happy.

Seeing these two soldiers having a serious discussion with me made me feel like I’m Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress. I told V that I understand his viewpoint, but I feel the answer to happiness is not found there. The answer to happiness is found in letting Christ live instead of me.

Throughout the conversation, I kept mentioning Bible and they told me to stop mentioning it. Not everyone believes in the Bible, they told me. But I told them that the Bible is the bedrock of my life. P thinks the Bible is just a good teaching book, but it is more than that, it is a manual to life. That conversation eventually developed to me not using any spiritual arguments, that I can only make logical ones. That, I told them, is misleading. The human being is made up of the spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is above the soul, therefore, the spirit should be dominant. I told them there is an unseen world; a spiritual world, and that the Bible says the unseen is greater than the seen. V and P asked me again and again do I love God more or my mom? I told them that I love God more because I must love God much more than I love my mom or dad or brothers and sisters (Matthew 10:31). They told me who help me more, God or my mom. They obviously wanted me to say “my mom,” but I told them that, ultimately, God helps me much more.

Lastly, we argued that if God is omnipotent, then does God know what choices we choose beforehand? I told P no because if he does know completely beforehand, then God will not be a good god but an evil one. If God knew Eve is going to be deceived in the Garden of Eden and all mankind will suffer the penalty for sin, He would not have created us. God gave us free will to chose whether to follow Him or not. Yes, God knows us much more than anybody else, even ourselves, but he doesn’t know 100% what our next actions will be. This is where P and me disagreed and I tried to find scriptural proof, but was mostly unable to.

Psalms 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

God knows our potential and what we could be if we follow God to be used by Him, but to say that he always knows every action that we will perform ahead of time is untrue. If that is true, then God may not be a good God because then he knew all the evil and suffering that will come as a result. I need to continue to grow more in God and perhaps ask for some help to find out more. That is about the extent of our discussion. I then used the latrine again and decided to sleep inside the humvee.

As I was sitting in the humvee thinking about the conversation, and how angry I am about the guard changeover and what to do about it, another thought came in, from heaven, and it told me to “give it all to God.” In my first serious incident, I learned that I need to be able to suffer and endure more, to the point of shedding blood. However, in this second event, I realized that God is in control of everything, that there is nothing I can do to change it. I must trust in God and let Him be in control. Whatever happens, I must “give it all to God.” So I began to repeat “give it all to God” over and over in my mind. Slowly, I began to feel peace. I began to feel happy and at ease. God is in control of everything. Why am I worrying? Give it all to God. I fell into a peaceful sleep.

When I woke up, I knew that I’m still in the humvee, but I’m not upset because I already gave all my angry and bitter feelings to God. I find that once I give my hurt and negative feelings to God, I feel free. I used the latrine again and decided to listen to a 睡夢鄉 (Land of Dreams) bedtime stories. I don’t know why, but I decided to listen to 好姊姊米利暗 (Good Miriam) because I felt Moses calling me. I closed my eyes and deeply listened to the children bedtime story. Listening to it made me so thankful of what God had given me. The narrator, Auntie Choi, began the story of Moses by saying the Israelites in Egypt were prosperous. Pharaoh was afraid that the Hebrew people might start an uprising so he subjected them to hard labor.

Exodus 1:10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.

12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites

13 and worked them ruthlessly.

14 They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.

However, the more the Hebrews suffered, the more prosperous they became. Hearing that gave me encouragement. It is like a God-given answer to suffering. It teaches me not to be afraid, that God is in control, and that God can use my suffering to benefit me even more. I got to the part where the counselors advised Pharaoh to kill every male child. I can hear the babies’ crying and the mother’s screaming. It felt so real and I felt so sad.

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. –Jewish Proverb

Then, I saw my SOG and P come and say it’s time to go. Happily, I put away my mp3 player and started to leave.

I learned so much about suffering today. One, that I need to suffer to the Biblical standard which is to the point of shedding blood, and two, to “give it all to God.”

睡夢鄉- 39 好姊姊米利暗

 

Sing and Smile and Pray by Sofia Tsatalbasidis

 

Sing the clouds away,

Night will turn to day.

If you sing and sing and sing you’ll sing the clouds away.

 

Smile the clouds away,

Night will turn to day.

If you smile and smile and smile you’ll smile the clouds away.

 

Pray the clouds away,

Pray and pray and pray.

Night will turn to day,

No matter what they say.

 

Sing and smile and pray,

That’s the only way.

If you sing and smile and pray you’ll drive the clouds away.

 

Pray the clouds away,

Sing and smile and pray.

Night will turn to day,

No matter what they say.

 

Sing and smile and pray,

Night will turn to day.

If you sing and smile and pray you’ll drive the clouds away.

 

Sing_and_Smile_Sofia_Tsatalbasidis