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By Wendy Choy-Chan

A very familiar verse from the Bible is, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). It follows Paul’s pleading with the Lord to remove his thorn, something Paul was unable to do himself. It was a weakness of incapability, of powerlessness. I cannot help but think (cynically): What else can we do but to rely on God’s power, when we cannot do anything to change the situation? But how about when we do have something to fight with and fight back?

I was preparing for a sermon on Numbers 12:1-16, where Miriam and Aaron were opposing Moses. In their accusations, they were discrediting, insulting, or — one can even say — persecuting Moses. What intrigued me was not what YHWH did; yes, He heard, He spoke, and He acted to vindicate Moses. But what intrigued me was what Moses did not do — no defending of himself or rebuking his siblings. Was Moses incapable of and powerless in standing up for himself? Did he not have anything to fight with? Did he choose on purpose to become weak?

I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” — to seek and rely on God’s power and His working when I am weak and powerless; “Courage to change the things I can” — to seek His empowerment to give me power to change the situation. But there is a third scenario, like Moses’ situation, where there is something I can do, yet I choose not to — choosing to become weak. That certainly takes wisdom to discern, but more than that, it takes humility to stay still, to take the insult and endure the attack, and wait on God to speak and act.

Most of the time, my prayer is to ask God to give me power, and to let me show the world what God can do through me. While I may lack the wisdom and sensitivity to stay still and let God speak and act, I think it has more to do with my self-identity and lack of humility. I don’t want to be seen as weak, as defenseless and powerless. I want respect, and I want recognition. God can and will be victorious, provided that I am part of it, that I am the instrument of His victory. But I am reluctant to choose to be weak so that God can be victorious without me.

A song I really like goes like this:

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
Within your mighty hand
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

Often, I ask God for strength so that I can stay afloat and swim to shore. (And sometimes he gives me strength to do just that.) But am I willing to let God pick me up and soar in the sky? No matter how drenched in water I am, no matter how pitiful I look? Am I willing to let go of my victory for God’s victory? Even when He may not speak and act as quickly as He did for Moses? Am I willing to choose to be weak and wait? Am I willing to rely on His grace to respond to Him in humility? So that His power can be made perfect in my weakness?

Wendy Choy-Chan came to North America from Hong Kong when she was 15. After graduating with a MScE, she worked as a telecommunications engineer for a few years before becoming a full-time mom. She earned her MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2016, with an emphasis in biblical studies. Despite living in the coffee capital (Seattle), Wendy enjoys scouting out tea shops with her husband and two daughters.

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By Tina Teng-Henson

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Continue Reading »

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By Liz Chang

In my work with clients who have a history of abusing substances, it is a common theme for drugs to be a tool for coping with difficult emotions and challenging situations in life. But drugs aren’t the only distraction available. There’s Netflix, podcasts, books, pets, shopping, social media, parties, chores, errands, and the list goes on. Distractions are plentiful and not inherently bad. But they often give us the easy way out from facing difficult emotions and challenging situations. They can be cause for us to miss out on opportunities to reflect, grow, problem solve, and engage with the Spirit of God.

When I think about the many stories of Jesus walking through a crowd or walking in a crowd, I realize that Jesus had his options for distraction too. While he didn’t have all the technology, he had plenty of social situations to dilute his attention and presence. But he paid attention. He took notice. He heard. He saw. He responded to individuals who could have been overlooked in the crowds.

The list of distraction options are my crowd. When I am walking in my crowd in day-to-day life, sometimes I use that as a gut reaction to avoid grief, disappointment, stress, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. My crowd can help me minimize my experience of those emotions that seem unbearable in the moment. But those can be missed opportunities for experiencing the ease of God’s yoke. When the Spirit of God is what empowers me, can I learn to pay attention in the crowd and be strengthened to take notice and respond?

Jesus modeled this for us during his ministry on earth. He didn’t react to questions from Pharisees and Sadducees with avoidance, defensiveness or fear. He didn’t allow the crowds to distract him from taking notice of those who reached out to him. He responded with thoughtfulness and compassion.

Presence requires willingness to move beyond quick reactions into a mindset of thoughtful and compassionate response. This takes practice. And catching those opportunities builds on our sanctification and foundations of faith and relationship with the living God.

What’s in your crowd?
Who or what are the things in your life that are reaching out for your response?
Can we take the time to notice and respond to what God is doing in our lives?

Liz Chang resides in New York City and is a family therapist at an intensive outpatient treatment center for drug addiction. She is a License Marriage and Family Therapist and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is an aspiring photographer and is a cat mom to Instagram cat @bennyslyf. She and her husband enjoy going for walks and exploring new neighborhoods, parks, and restaurants.

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By Debbie Gin

Can you be present to someone online? Can you practice presence online?

These are questions we’ve been asking in our work with theological schools. More officially, our
questions have centered around: Can people be formed online? (Formation can be about your spiritual
life, your faith, your pastoral skills, your intellectual skills or knowledge, your capacities for human character, your commitments to justice or social justice, etc., but this is for another blog post.) Whatever your context includes in “formation,” can that occur online? Continue Reading »

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By Sharon Lee Song

Emmanuel means God with us. God is with you always. Take a moment, and reflect on this. Do we know this truth? Do we know that God is present with us, moment by moment? How present are we to ourselves, to one another, and to God? Are we paying attention?

There is power in the ministry of presence. As a spiritual director, we often refer to the ministry of spiritual direction as a ministry of presence. I have seen how powerful presence is for me, for my directees, and most importantly, with God.
Continue Reading »

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By Diana Kim

It is undeniable to say that youth pastors have high turnover rates. This is no exception of youth pastors in the Korean church; when culture, language, and subtexts get in the way, it is difficult for 2nd generation (and beyond) pastors to be committed long-term. During the 5 years leading up to my start as the youth pastor, there were 3 different youth pastors, along with a list of pulpit supply speakers, at my church. Continue Reading »

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By Jerrica KF Ching

Throughout my entire time in the Pacific Northwest, I have wrestled with feeling torn between assimilation and acculturation. I have found it quite difficult to balance the values of family, collectivity, and interdependence that created the foundation on which I was raised, with wanting to be more assertive, independent, and viewed as an equal in the workplace.  If I were to describe my presence as an Asian American woman when I first moved from Hawaii to Oregon, it would be quiet, unnoticeable, and timid. Continue Reading »

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