Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why I Am a Christian

Wow, this seems like a thing I did ages ago. After months of journaling on this site (and a year of neglecting it), I realized I never introduced why I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I think it's interesting that society has created a picture of what Christians believe, but has not really touched on why Christians believe in the Gospel. I questioned the same thing, too.

I have grown up in the church my entire life. I have my Christian community where everyone understands each other: Christian language easily slips off my tongue, and I'm constantly encouraged and pointed back to the Word of God. We have a mutual understanding that God is good, Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and that we are to proclaim His Name to all the earth. We have coffee dates asking each other how our walks are with the Lord, we encourage each other with Bible verses, we cry and laugh about how God is challenging us and molding us in mysterious ways. I post Instagram photos with a slightly faded filter of some grand view on some tall mountain, and I write about God's faithfulness in every season. Because He is faithful and good and just and merciful and loving, and I felt that those things were true. It was easy for me to maintain and proclaim my faith in this small group of people that love me, accept me, and care for me. Never did I want to share what I believed because it was so much easier keeping it to myself. There is no shame, there is no condemnation, there are no arguments if everyone agrees with you. And all I wanted was to be accepted. All I wanted was for people to love me, but was I loving them the way they deserved? Was I loving God the way He deserved? Believing in God became a culture that I became so attached to, and that's when I started to question why I believed in God in the first place.

I realized that there needed to be a truth. One truth that is right in this world. I know that many people have their own versions of truth, but I never believed that all those truths could be the truth simultaneously. That type of thinking has never occurred to me as a plausible conclusion. Whether it's creation or evolution, there can only be one. Whether it's reincarnation or the resurrection, both cannot coexist, but I didn't want to refuse other possibilities simply because I was stuck on my own. Now, how did I come to my conclusion? There are many reasons why I came to the conclusion I did (aka many late nights watching debates and reading articles and attending conferences) because finding purpose is really important to me. I could not and cannot believe that I have zero purpose. So here I am explaining why I believe what I believe. I hope you don't see this explanation of my views as a way of pushing my convictions onto you. I recognize that I alone have no power to do so. My only hope is that my measly, inadequate explanation would simply, God willing, spark conversation and/or inform others about why I, and other Christians, decided to accept this as our truth.

Before I get into details, here is the Gospel. The focus of the Christian faith. Our proclamation. I believe that God created the world we live in, and that He created man and woman to be perfect. Everything from our physical features to our souls God created, and He created us in His image (perfect). Satan came into the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve, and she fell into sin along with Adam. While God told Adam and Eve what was best for them, He also gave them a choice because God did not and does not want slaves. He did not and does not want robots who simply obey Him because that is their only choice. No, God gave them a choice and they chose to fall into their temptation. Therefore, we were separated from our perfect God as a result of this choice. It wasn't God who chose to separate Himself from us. It's us. I believe in the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God, in His mercy, rather than being forever separated from us, sent Jesus down to atone for our sins. The thing that gets me most is that God is capable of anything. That includes getting rid of us and starting over, but He didn't. He sent His son to die for something He didn't do. For sins He didn't commit. That's not all (but wait there's more!). Jesus Christ died on the cross and resurrected from the dead three days later. WHAT?! You heard me. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God. I believe that my God is not dead. It's not that God hates us, and He is restricting us from all the good and fun things in life. He knows that, in the end, these things that we continuously seek are meaningless. They do not give us worth or value. Being a child of GOD does.

Here are just three (out of many) reasons I believe that there is a God:

Morally, I believe that there needs to be a starting point. What is considered good and what is considered evil? What is a deed worthy of praise and what is a deed worthy of punishment? I wondered where these ideas came from, and I kept thinking that if a human decided what was good and what was bad, then why can't we? Are we not just as human as they are? Are our opinions not as important as the founders of all moral standards? If so, who are they to tell us what is wrong and what is right, what is good and what is bad? If these things are societally created, why is it that we judge cultural habits, parenting procedures, life decisions, lawbreaking acts, teaching methods, job choices, etc.? Why hasn't someone come out and said "MURDERING IS NOT WRONG!"? I believe that these ideas are not man made, but created by a higher being. Morals and standards and right and wrong are innate because God created man to acknowledge these standardized truths (thank goodness, am I right?).

The Big Bang vs. Creation. Now, I'm not a huge science person, but I do know that the Big Bang is the theory that a lot of high energy and high temperatures created a "Big Bang" and the creation of the universe began, generating the application of the current laws of physics and the arrival of the earliest molecules. These molecules evolved into the universe we know today. For me, this theory sounds like something came from essentially nothing. How did the molecule come to be when there was nothing present that could form such a molecule? Let's talk about sexual organs. Did an asexual organism split into male and female? How? I feel as though that's less effective and efficient, so why did organisms evolve that way? For me, the idea that a being, a Creator, creating the world sounds more plausible than energy and heat creating an explosion that produced living molecules that have transformed into the world we live in now. Is the Big Bang not faith in the unseen, as well? (Please let me know if I got the science wrong, and if you have answers to my questions. That'd be greatly appreciated :) ).

Evil. Now this one's tricky. It's not one that is easy to look over because the presence of human suffering is abundant in our world today, and, oftentimes, I'm confused why God would allow innocent people to suffer in such horrible ways. Whether that's the crisis in Syria, the totalitarian government in North Korea, or cancer, I know that people question how I could believe in a God who allows these things to happen to His people. First, I believe that without evil, there cannot be true goodness. What is the meaning of good without evil? How can we see the magnificence and glory of God if we are blinded by comfort and safety? God did not create suffering, but He does allow suffering to take place. Maybe it's to push us back to the cross, maybe it's to make Him known in other ways. You know why? Eternal suffering in Hell is far worse than our sufferings on this earth. God recognizes this and uses suffering to point us to Him. And if I believe in God, I can't just believe the God who makes me #blessed with stuff. I also have to accept the fact that God is just and the fact that Hell exists. Now I know what you're thinking. Sarah, you've never endured these things, and you wouldn't know what suffering is because you've never truly suffered. How can you speak of suffering so nonchalantly? You'd be absolutely right. I haven't suffered, and I don't want to suffer, and I wish others didn't suffer. I'm ineloquent and inadequate, but, because I have accepted the Gospel I know and proclaim that this life is not mine. This isn't my life to control and waste away. God gave me this life for some reason, and, if I do suffer, I hope I recognize and remember that my purpose is not in my circumstances and not in my lavish life, but in glorifying God and making His name known. WHY? Because He could've gotten rid of me when I committed numerous sins, but He hasn't and He isn't going to.

Again, I do not say these things from an aggressive place. These questions are not directed to attack people with differing views. I simply ask them because these are the questions I have, and they are the questions that led me to the conclusion I am at now. Because I want to see why people believe or disbelieve what they do, I would like others to see what I believe and, more importantly, why I believe it. I hope that people will read this with grace because I do not have all the facts, I am not all knowing, and there is no way I wrote this perfectly. At the end of the day, I just hope that people care enough to seek the truth. If I had the truth locked away in a box, would I be loving my neighbor?


Some resources I found helpful:
Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace
Rosaria Butterfield and Russell Moore
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek
"Unbelievable" podcast with Justin Brierley

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The End

Yo Friendz,

It's interesting because I started this blog when I was a Freshman in college. Now I am a Senior. Well, I suppose I've already graduated, but a lot of times it doesn't really feel that way. There are times I feel very much like I'm still an undergraduate, serving in ministry, hanging out with my friends, etc. However, when I come back from a long day of teaching, I often feel like a super tired, old grandma who doesn't fit within the mold of young, spritely college students. I feel like I've already started my job and I'm just trying to hang onto my college life as tight as I can. When I'm surrounded by other credential people I feel like I'm catching up to them and when I'm with college students I feel like I don't necessarily belong there either. I think this was even more apparent when graduation photos started to roll around. I know I'm not technically getting a degree, but I know I would regret not taking graduation photos with my friends when I look back in ten years. I felt awkward taking photos with last year's graduation class. In the middle. That seems to be where I've been living this year. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's just a perspective I have never experienced life in.

This year, God's challenged me in a crazy amount of ways. I've had multiple conversations I literally never thought I would have in a million and one years, I have made relationships with the best and the greatest people (both new and old) ever, I have been encouraged to become patient with my own ambitions, I have taught 65 ninth grade munchkins over the course of a year, I passed a 50 page long portfolio, and so much more. I look back and I KNOW it could not have happened without my Savior who gives me strength. It was an exhausting year, and I feel like I've used more energy than I have within me, but I also am leaving knowing that He is good, He is faithful, and He gives me immense gratitude. Therefore, I'm dedicating this blog to those who have encouraged me over the next couple of weeks before I leave for good :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Process It

There's this endless cycle of me posting consistently and then me completely flying off the face of the planet. There should be a balance, but nah. I guess it's really similar to how I process things, deal with problems, etc. I stack them all up until it's time to break it down. This quarter has been really challenging in a lot of ways, heck, this year in general has been challenging in a lot of ways.

First, school. I took over the two ninth grade classes we have in the schedule, and it has been a ton of fun, sometimes discouraging, always rewarding. Through this experience, I realized students don't just misbehave for the sake of it. They aren't closed off because they don't like me, but more times than not, they have a need for attention. Maybe they have bad situations at home, maybe they have a disability, maybe they lack confidence, maybe they are being bullied. I don't know what goes one behind the scenes and within their minds, but I can be gracious, understanding, and, more than anything, patient. Although we all know that is often hard to do. Love what you do and do it well. That's something I'm still learning to do. Endurance is really important. I need more stamina. 

Second, ministry.  I think it was hard for me to make time for people outside of discipleship and my close friends because there just isn't enough time in a day for me to do so. I felt guilty for not investing myself in deeper relationships with underclassmen, but I realized I'm one person and it's okay for me to take things step by step. Also, planning LG has been really awesome but really challenging at the same time. Vision planning is super humbling and it makes me realize how much we have to depend on God to move in our ministry. It's really all Him. Motivation. What motivates me? I think a heart check is always needed and necessary. I honestly have so so much respect for those who are invested and believe in what God can do through our little movement :') Although logistics will fail us, He never does. I'm overcome by love for my brothers and sisters in my ministry, and I am blessed to be able to do life with them. I realize God can move mountains with a rock, what makes me doubt He can move in our imperfect ministry? Less of me, more of Him.

Where am I? I'm jumping in and out of focusing on things seen and attempting to shift my attention towards eternal perspective, the things unseen but reliable. There are plenty of times I'm dissatisfied in my situation. There are times I wonder why certain emotions are placed in my mind and they often leave me frustrated. I don't know why, but I know through it all, He is sovereign. It's honestly a constant reminder. I have to remember I'm not and cannot be perfect. Striving to be perfect is an imperfection in itself. I was thinking about the fall of man and I realized the weight of our Father's love for us. He could have easily created perfect beings who stayed without sin, praising Him the way He deserves to be. He chose us. Why? How much must our Father love us. CRAZY!!

I don't even know,

S. Park

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let Worship Be for His Glory

It's that time of the month, party people,

Ministry. Wow. There are so many aspects of leading in a ministry that I have never considered or thought about before this year. I've never really realized it before this year, but I realized I'm pretty prideful. Or rather, I take pride as a defense mechanism. I think there are many times I want to serve to prove to God and man that I am capable of doing everything well. In this, I take pride and this pride leads to feeling threatened when someone else does the job better or more efficiently. Rather than learning from other people and seeking to being teachable, my mind goes into survival mode or something. Beat everyone out so that I can feel like I'm worth something. Above all else, I try to please and impress man over God.

An area that this is most prominent is worship. Worship is a response. A response to the unending love, grace, compassion, strength, justice God has. An act of thanksgiving for all that He has done, is doing, and will do in the future. However, for the longest time I was simply thinking about myself. How do I sound today? Which songs make me sound nice? Do people like the way I sound? Which songs will the group like? Oh no, I messed up. How will I make it up? This can go on and on, and these are all thoughts I had every time I picked up a mic to sing in front of large group. That was something I was afraid of confessing for a long time. I would tell the worship team "Let's do this for God and not for ourselves or our own glorification" and I knew that was right, I wanted that. That wasn't my reality, though. This year has been extremely eye opening and humbling. I can't imagine how patient God is with me when I am called to worship Him. I would be so frustrated if everyone I loved faced a different direction, yet He still calls for me. What a gracious, gracious God.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Winning and Losing

Hi friends,

I didn't even notice that almost a month has gone by since writing on my blog. Life has been... tiring? I told myself that I wouldn't focus so heavily on my tiredness because I realized dwelling on how much sleep I need always consumes the good things that happen throughout my day. I'm finally 21 which has been exciting, I guess, but mostly because I get to go to Tot Night and get TATOR TOTS YAY! Quick story. So I was leading worship a week ago, and I get a text from one of the leaders, Michael Golahi, saying "worship leader's meeting tonight at 5 pm," to which I replied "Okay, sounds good!" All chipper and such. Then I do my thing and, eventually, I get another long text that basically read, "I have a group meeting and have to push the meeting back to 11 pm." I literally got on my knees and wailed for a second because I had early morning class the next day. Need to get my beauty rest the day before my birthday, ya know? I did everything I could to get out of it. "Can I meet you tomorrow?" "Can I meet with the other worship leader?" "Can I talk on the phone?" but to no avail. He was persistent. Now, other people told me that this was so obvious, but I honestly didn't think anything of it. I wouldn't put an 11 o'clock meeting past some of these guys LOL. I did have a little inkling of an idea that it could have POSSIBLY been a surprise party, but ever so slight. When I arrived at the door I see the lights on, and I automatically tuck away any thoughts of it being a surprise. I heard Harrison's voice saying, "Sarah, you're late man." It was 10:58. I came storming through the door yelling "It's only 10:58! What do you mean I'm late?" and suddenly I am bombarded by people yelling "SURPRISE!" I literally crouched down and yelled. It was such a shock that so many people were together in one room to celebrate me. Big shoutout to my girl Shaina, my co BVo, and poor Michael Golahi (sorry!!). It was something I will never ever forget :)

I think that something I've been learning is to not let my tiredness keep me from investing in valuable relationships. It's been pretty hard coming home late at night and not want to hop into bed and knock out, but I also realized that my friendships are worth it, no? They have invested in me more than I am deserving of, and I tend to do what my laziness tells me to. I use my busyness as an excuse. It's a sense of pride, as well. "Look how much I am capable of doing." "Look how much I am growing." But am I really? Am I really growing from my responsibilities or am I spiritually regressing? Being spiritually honest and aware has been a really beneficial change, knowing where I am weak, knowing I need unending grace. Lord, I need you. Week 6 here we go... :)


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Simply Compassionate

Hello party people (and potato people),

I survived the first week of fall quarter! YEAHHH. For the first five weeks of early start school, we only had class at night Mon/Wed after a full day at our respective high/middle schools. Beginning this week, we have class on Mon/Wed/Fri and we only go to our school sites Tues/Thurs :( Although, I admit, getting myself to a high school thirty minutes away hasn't been the most ideal (I like my sleep), being at the school site excites me. Everyday I find out something new about individual students, and working with them gives me a glimpse of what I'll be doing in, hopefully, a year. It's so cute when they ask me where I've been and why I've been coming less after this quarter started. This week was especially uplifting. On Tuesday my co-teacher asked me to teach a mini lesson to the freshmen on The Odyssey, referencing the movie La Bestia to make the book applicable to current events. I asked them a fairly simple question, expecting a relatively simple answer. "What is an example of an odyssey you or your family members went through?" I honestly wasn't ready for the answers they shared. I was shocked, horrified, and incredibly, incredibly proud. The freshmen are a pretty quiet bunch, and many of them don't even like sharing SAT practice answers. It took a while for me to find a student open enough to share a small journey they've been through. Honestly, I felt like they were going to say something along the lines of "The transition from middle to high school was a journey I've been through" or "The journey to this class was a hard one. I had to wake up early." While many of them passed, we finally got one willing student. His answer left me speechless. Without getting into too much detail, he basically shared about his home life, the many men that have come and gone from his life, the brokenness of his mother. One by one I heard stories of students immigrating from Mexico, living without family from a different country to learn English, learning that the man they thought was their father wasn't. My heart dropped. I didn't know how to respond to these heartfelt and personal stories. I can't relate to these students in the least bit. I grew up in a stable home, I had both of my parents present, I grew up in this country (this state), and I've been comfortable. How am I worthy of educating these students? I'm not, but I am committing myself to listening, comforting, and pouring care into these students. A degree in English doesn't cut it. It doesn't make you an educator. Hopefully moments like this will remind me to be a constant and compassionate teacher. I pray that God will give me the endurance and a sensitive heart for these students. I love them so so much (although I'm pretty sure they would think that's creepy). Wow... I don't even know how to express what I'm feeling. I wonder what next week will bring :)