A couple of months ago, I went to a bakery on the lobby floor of my accommodation, after I threw away wastes. I wanted to grab some bread and ice cream for mom. The bakery is a Korean company’s franchise store. They sell their own brand’s ice cream as well as Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Haagen-Dazs’ price is 5~10 times higher than Korean local brands’ ice cream. I didn’t buy Haagen-Dazs often, but Korean ice cream. Yet once in a while, I bought Haagen-Dazs, and my mom loved it. Actually Haagen-Dazs is my favorite ice cream. So, in the bakery, I debated for a few seconds as to what ice cream I would choose, and I thought I would buy two Haagen-Dazs for mom and myself. I don’t eat ice cream often, but on that day, I had a craving. Both mom and I enjoyed ice cream time.
Later at night when I worshiped the Father and prayed, He reminded me of something.
When I lived in Shanghai, buying Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream was my joy. I used to enjoy that flavor in Korea, even before moving to Shanghai. As I didn’t enjoy Chinese local foods or snacks at all, having Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream was something like having home foods and giving myself a good and soothing treat, after a long day. As Haagen-Dazs was expensive in Shanghai as well, in some convenience stores, it was stored in a locked freezer against theft. After moving to Singapore later, I still used to keep Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream in my freezer. During my time both in Shanghai and Singapore, whenever I came back home to see mom, she used to buy Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream for me. She always wanted to buy my favorite foods including Haagen-Dazs, no matter how expensive they were. But now, I tried to be prudent in buying ice cream for her, as she was still happy with Korean local brand ice cream, cheaper one. And the Father said to me, “Buy her Haagen-Dazs.” I burst into cry. He reminded me of mom’s extravagant love for me, and He wants me to be more generous and extravagant to her. I don’t mean being prudent is bad, but He made me hear His heartbeat again. I must be more generous and extravagant to her. And He gave me more than enough, to honor her. No matter how generous and extravagant to her, I still cannot outgive her. I kept sobbing. Since then, I bought her Haagan-Dazs. In addition, since this spring, she and I started to go to my favorite coffee store that sells her favorite soft ice cream. Both price-wise and quality-wise, it’s close to Haagan-Dazs, and she and I enjoy some precious moments together in my favorite cafe everyday. While she eats ice cream, I also enjoy espresso macchiato. Whenever I ask her, “Shall we go to the cafe for ice cream?” she becomes so excited like a child. And I’m grateful to the Father for precious moments with her daily as well as for teaching me.
I do not know whether your parents are around and what memory you have with them. It’s my prayer that you and I know our Father’s heart and honor our parents. Honoring them with generosity is an act of worship to the Father. We are to God the fragrance of Christ by our worship.
Happy Mother’s Day & Have a Bliss!
Listen to your father who begot you,
How are you? Hope you had or are having a good day, today?
Do you have a life-changing teaching or experience? Depending on how old we are, we might have one, I guess. Recently, I had one, and it was not something spectacular nor looked spiritual or religious. It was actually very practical in my daily life. I don’t know about you, but I used to find it hard to say no to others, and I thought I must sacrifice myself, though I felt uncomfortable or unpleasant. Sometimes, I felt guilty, if I had to say no, or didn’t meet someone’s request.
Then, earlier this year, I listened to Pastor John Fenn’s audio teachings, Boundaries & Priorities and Nehemiah. I really like those teachings and share a short description of Boundaries & Priorities in his website:
This very practical series is about how to establish godly priorities in life and the decisions that come from those priorities. Things covered include knowing when our responsibility ends and when it is time for others to take responsibility for their lives, discerning the direction, a visitation where He taught me about how He teaches us step by step, and so much more to help establish priorities, boundaries, and walk with God into wise decisions – even if some people aren’t happy with us.
I think it was in that audio teaching that he talked about how to feel good about establishing boundaries. He said that Jesus hurt a lot of people in terms of making them angry, and not meeting their expectation, but He never apologized for being in the right. Yet we live in a Christian culture that seem to make people wimpish and spineless Christians.
I couldn’t agree with him more. In Christian culture and circle, it has been widely thought that we are to be a doormat. So, not only unbelievers, but also Christians misuse and/or abuse relationships with other believers in the name of brethren. (And I shared about false brethren that Pastor Rick Joyner wrote. There are false brethren!) And I would like to share excerpts from Pastor John’s weekly thoughts on Nehemiah:
Many Christians think they are to be victims
Many read Jesus telling us to offer the other cheek, give the extra coat, walk the extra mile in Matthew 5: 39-41 to mean we are to let people take advantage of us, but that is not what He was saying.
What Jesus said places limits on how much we are to offer ourselves, how much we are to give of ourselves, how far we are willing to go for others. We offer 1 cheek, 1 coat, 1 extra mile. We are not to be a victim, not to give away our wardrobe, not beyond 1 mile.
Jesus is saying our responsibility to others has limits.
After we walk that extra mile with a person, they must walk by themselves. We give 1 coat but keep our closet of clothes, for they now have to clothe themselves. We offer 1 cheek but then put a stop to it, for they must deal with their own anger. Let them do that.
Nehemiah answered their accusations. He stood up for himself for he knew what he was doing was God’s leading. He didn’t ask for forgiveness when they were offended, for he was in the right and they would just have to deal with their emotions.
Nehemiah realized his 3 accusers had no power over him. They no longer had any place in his city. They no longer had the authority to offer their opinion about the city. And they did not like being powerless. Amazingly, these 3 accusers still had their own areas they governed, but it was THAT work that bothered them.
Isn’t that the way it is so often? People who accuse you or don’t like the direction you’re going, have their own full and busy lives to live. But for some reason (often demon inspired) they focus on you to rip you apart – sad, but that is the way of man and Satan.
Realize that when others don’t understand the direction you’re going. When people do things just to distract you and delay what you are doing. When they lie about you or threaten you with lies, when they spiritualize their attack by bringing God into it, realize their issue is with the Lord – and if you stick to what you are doing, they will eventually see that you are from the Lord, what you are doing is from the Lord.
A mature person can love a person while disagreeing with them morally or spiritually. Such a one can maintain fellowship, even friendship. The immature find points of disagreement and break off friendships and fellowship. Their issue is with the Lord at that point, and their own heart.
Realize what you are doing affect many more than just your family
We would not receive the full impact of Nehemiah’s work unless we looked what happened after the wall was finished.
As a result of the completed wall, people felt safe and secure within those boundaries.
You are your own Jerusalem. Make sure your walls are built so that in your heart and soul you feel safe, secure, at rest. Then include in the city your spouse, children at home. Then just outside the wall of your Jerusalem, is relatives – Judea – family, but they know their boundaries, know that you are in covenant now with your spouse and children, not with them. Then outward to distant relatives and associates, then outward to strangers in the ‘uttermost parts’. (Acts 1: 8)
These teachings did come into my life, timely and practically. My niece and I had an honest and constructive conversation on this subject, related to her mother, i.e. my oldest sister. Before she came back to Seoul in this March, leaving her mission field, my niece and I had an opportunity to talk about my oldest sister’s having no boundaries and trying to control others as she wants. We also understand her upbringing was different from ours, yet it doesn’t mean that she can continue to get away with murder. Especially, when my niece had some conflicts with her mother over her future husband, I said to her that her future husband would be her head, not her mother, and she would set up boundaries sooner than later. Yet she would continue to pray for her mother with love, still honoring her. I shared Derek Prince’ teaching with her that it is ok to be away from a controlling parent, as controlling (including manipulation) is witchcraft. And in His time, He will restore relationship. And I went on to share Pastor John’s teachings that adult children are outside boundaries, taking an example of old parents’ taking care of grandchildren, being exhausted, but saying no to their adult children. So, likewise, to adult children, their parents are outside their boundaries.
Then, in March or late February, my sister asked me to do her a favor before coming to Seoul, and I helped her. Yet I felt uncomfortable when she asked me. I wouldn’t describe it all in details. I extended grace by meeting her request, though I couldn’t understand why she didn’t ask her own daughter to do that. Later in Seoul, she asked me to do her a favor again (similar kind of request to the previous one), while she lives together with her daughter. My niece texted me privately, after hearing her talk to me over the phone. She also felt uncomfortable just like me, when she heard her mother ask that. So, when all of us got together for lunch in my place, my niece and I agreed to my speaking up now rather than later. I was encouraged by my niece’ support. Previously, I was also confirmed by the Father that siblings are outside my boundaries. So, after dessert, over the table, when my sister brought up the subject, I shared what was in my heart. I literally talked about boundaries. I willingly did her a favor when she asked me first. But, from now on, she would ask her own daughter to do that, or she would do it on her own, and I would not do that for her any more. Her immediate family is her daughter, not me. The conversation went well, and my sister didn’t seem to be offended. And I felt so much relieved. Indeed, I felt my walls set up. Later, when I exchanged texts with my niece, a little bit worried whether my sister was offended, she said, “I thought you actually communicated so smoothly with much grace and love!! I think she really understands your reasoning too. If not fully now just yet, definitely more with time. I think the concept of boundaries is unfamiliar yet but over His leading and time, it’ll all be smooth sailing.” And she said she actually mustered up courage, saying now it’s her turn to set up boundaries between her mother and her.
Later, I also had an incident where I said no to a Christian lady someone introduced. I felt her using manipulation, which I think is common among Christians. She expressed as if I were being the Father’s answering her prayer. I was grateful, as before talking to her, I prayed about her. And He said I don’t have to meet her. So, while talking to her over the phone, I set up my boundaries, being still kind to her.
I was reminded of Sister Margaret’s testimony late last year or so. A Christian lady she knew asked her whether a family who would go back to their country, after closing their business in Singapore for good, could stay in her place for a while, until they would fly out to their home. It sounded like they needed a temporary accommodation. Sister Margaret said no to that person. After that, she felt guilty, yet she realized that guilt was not from the Lord, but from the devil. And she rebuked the devil, and understood that if it had been His will to receive them in her place, He would have known her in advance. I got to know through other testimonies of hers and the book, “Margaret in Singapore” that she and her late husband, Pastor Fred used to host and care even the demon-possessed in their house, until they got free. While they had five little children, it would have been difficult to receive and minister to those people, unless God told them to. When I listened to her story of saying no, I was actually angry at the Christian lady who had asked her for those foreign family, and said to myself:
“Wouldn’t she know her age? And wouldn’t she know how occupied she is for 3 classes per week at her age? She needs her own space. Why did she try to find other host? Hosting even one person for a day or a week can exhaust younger people. Sis Margaret would rather need care from others. Urrrr” I wished we Christians really think of others, being wise.
I do not recall in which teaching of Pastor John he said this, but I paraphrase that as we should grow in the faith as in 2 Peter 1:5~8, others should grow and be fruitful likewise:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, this is required for every believer. Grow!
As I wrote the draft of this blog, I came to know about the book called “Boundaries” written by a Christian doctor, Henry Cloud. A Christian talk show host mentioned the book, saying he used to find it hard to say no to others, and one day someone gave that book to him for a gift, knowing his difficulty. I simply felt it is His confirmation, as I was writing on this subject.
I don’t know whether you used to think you should be a victim or a doormat, and you felt bad or guilty, after you had to say no. Or you already set up good boundaries around your house and protect your home. I hope my writing and Pastor John’s teachings would help and bless you.
Have a bliss!
The Wall Completed