- Christine Leong
From the Editors
There are nights that make you say, “Isn’t there more than this?” Days that pro-
long the insufferable minutes, nights that we turn into day. In Biblical times, watchmen stood around the corners of the fortresses looking for intruders. As any good intruder would know, daytime is never a good time to do the intruding. You sneak in during the dark, during the silence. So the watchmen that guarded the castle walls at night had super demanding and important jobs while they were probably hopelessly tired. And bored. There is a beautiful Psalm: “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” —Psalm 130:5-6 Imagine the wait. As much of a night owl as I am, I can’t imagine the silent hours that must pass every night before the first glimpse of dawn. Imagine the beauty of that first glimpse of dawn. Imagine the sunrise. Imagine the three days between Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection. Feel the rise in the heart of the apostles when they suddenly recall His words, that the Son of Man must be crucified and raised in three days, that the temple would be rebuilt in three days. It was destroyed. Their world was destroyed. But might that soon all change, it was like waiting for the morning in the darkest night. Feel the emotions of the Mary and Mary Magdalene. The emotions that ran through as they prepared spices for the tomb. The emotions as they took careful steps, shrouded in mourning, toward where the stone should have been. Imagine the summation of all the hope you have ever held rising up in your throat as you hear, the Lord is risen. The Son of Man is risen. The sunrise. This, this is Easter. And even in our own darkness, when we sit on the corners of the fortresses of the walls we put up, we look upon the Lord. We can wait for Him with full knowledge of His promise, that indeed, we were made for more than this. We were made to live. Happy Easter! :)
- Alice Liang
From the Editors
Some people (obviously affectionately) call me fat and the girl who spits. More
commonly I hear people call me ditzy (this one especially), miss goody-two shoes, an overachiever, neat freak, OCD, a klutz, stutterer, worrier, incompetent, challenged, naïve, innocent, awkward, etc. Dumb is a good one too. Oh wait and an ugly insert-wordof-your-choice-meaning-inappropriately-dressed which please, I beg to differ. But in this world, there is always going to be judgment; people comparing me to others, people appraising me like I’m some object on auction. Sometimes it’s going to be constructive, like the latter of the list above. And sometimes, “words will never break me” is just an outright lie. There is almost an ineffable image that we as individuals long to have. In the grand stage of our own theatre, when we are the star of the show, hidden behind layers of make-up and speaking words that are not our own, becoming someone who we are actually not, we long to escape this brutal reality: we are not who we want to be. No, this is not to say that we should instead strive to be more like her, or more like him, because we think that those we look up to, or see around us, are living out a better life, have a nicer personality, a stronger foundation in Christ. No; instead we have only one who we should strive to be like, and it is to Him who sits upon the throne at the end of the tunnel of all our troubles and fears that we look to. It is God alone that has the power and some pretty crazy love to want to change me; it is God who created you and I in His perfect image. We are His children, and we are loved.
I used to tell myself that I was so great at pretending I was okay, at putting on a smile when I needed to, to be perfect in front of the crowd, a little sunny whirlwind before I could escape to the comfort of closed doors and darkness when I could finally let go of my slipping grasp on sanity and let my tears carry me away. But no. I am no longer a performer for my own show. No, words no longer cover my shame. I am not a writer but a stutterer; I am broken and before you all I come clean. We are not who we want to be, because that’s a life we have yet to live; there’s something much more that we live for beyond this life. But for now, we don’t have to be the writers. We are God’s storytellers. One step forward. In God’s eyes you and I have been redeemed and therefore deemed worthy of life and love. Accept yourself entirely for who you are. I no longer deny that I am unworthy and undeserving of all the love I have received, realizing instead the startling truth of how little love I have given to others in return. But through my incapability, weakness, defeat and temptation I find comfort: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9-10 If we weren’t worth it to God—we would not be here now, long dead in spirit with no hope. We are not who we want to be because without God, we are nothing. But we are God’s handiwork, so let go and let God. Hold onto the hope He has given us; our healer, savior, sanctifier and coming King. Take heart. This is where the Healing begins.
- Sharon Shen
From the Editors
“What has happened to our conviction? Where are the limbs out on which we once walked? Do we have, like, nothing to say?” – Taylor Mali
We have learned inside of our classrooms of literature so rich in wording and full in meaning that each word uttered is placed with a distinct purpose, plays a part in affecting the reader or listener exactly as the giver has intended it to. But the difference between now and then is that we, this generation, no longer possesses the ability to speak what we actually feel, voice what we mean. This is the infection in our society; this gift may still linger through literature, but when we speak to one another our words become shallow, careless, inaccurate. We have downgraded into the state of inarticulate, struggling even to form words, real words, caught in between the “likes” and “ums” of almost every sentence. Careless. Careless use of the vast English language; what do we say to express ourselves when we are excited – “ohmygod”. What do we say when we are angry – “wtf”. What do we say when we are confused – “I dunno”. What do we say when something bad happens – “fml”. They slip out, we don’t intend them to, do we, how even the small things that everyone says, even I say, defies a core commandment of the Bible. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain. Stop, what does “in vain” mean. What does it mean. Don’t we want to be careful of what we say, because “We are slaves of [the words] we let slip out.” – Winston Churchill Or in other words, this is a part of what defines us. What we think shapes what we speak and what we do. These words, they are weak in essence but they are so powerful, understood, delivered, used. There is something so wrong about our complacency. Not only spiritual complacency, but a complacency of words, of words lacking quality, lacking sincerity. In this year of change, we should make an effort to choose our words wisely, to choose our words comprehensively.
- Melody Zhang
From the Editors
I’ve heard it said before that what we talk about reflects what is most important to us. In other words, the stuff we most often discuss is exactly what is on our hearts and minds. We talk about what we love. And looking around, this statement seems to be true. Sports fans talk about their teams. Coin collectors talk about the latest additions to their collections. Music lovers talk about music and artists and albums. What comes out of our mouths reflects directly of what matters to us. What does matter? God matters. But do we truly act like it? If God really mattered to me, I’d talk about Him constantly. It would be hard to silence my endless praise of His glory. If thoughts of Him were always on my mind and heart, it’d be impossible to spend one moment not thinking about Him. But I spend many moments not thinking about God, spending those precious seconds on myself: what I like, what I think I need, what I think will satisfy my petty urges. Funny, isn’t it? Where are my priorities? Where are your priorities? Christ, the coming King…is He the King of your heart? Of your life? Is He the definition of your life? Is He the foundation? Or is God, is Jesus in the little blurb, the tiny faded caption of your life, underneath the “Me”? I know it’s in human nature to be selfish. It’s the way we’re programmed, as sinners, as a people so desperately in need of a perfect Savior. I ask God to change me, so I can stop thinking the way that I do every day, distracted by grades, by friends, by unimportant events. Let’s rewire our brains, let’s start thinking about God more. Let’s talk about God more.
Rain In a quiet room dimly lit while the rain continues to pour outside. Two friends are bored, hopelessly searching for something to do. —“Have you ever wondered whether two water droplets will hit the ground at the same exact moment while it rains?” —“Not really.” —“And if those water droplets do, will the water molecules from that drop of water ever actually come in contact with the other water droplet?” Shuffles around trying to find a comfortable position —”I mean, I’m sure there’s a distinct possibility of that happening…” —“If so, were those two raindrops meant to be?” —“Why does it matter?” —“It matters because I want to know if it was chance or something else!” —“Yeah okay but raindrops in the grand scheme of things are basically identical. They come from the same source.” —“Oh yea? What would that be? Fidgeting —“A body of water… or from living organisms.” —“Right…” —“For all you know, those two droplets of water may have been separated as they fell from the clouds only to have luckily been reunited. And I’m sure during that time other water droplets came in contact with both of those water droplets. So by the time they come in contact, all you have is a giant puddle.” —“But isn’t it still special? At least they’re together again right?” —“What about next time? What about when they get separated as the puddle evaporates or seeps into the ground? The cycle begins again. They rise so high only to fall alone to the cold, unforgiving ground.”
Sighs —“I mean I’m sure they would have been happy together during the time they had together.” —“Well, puddles pick up dirt and dust. All of which weighs them down.” —“So? Wouldn’t that mean more time for them for each other?” —”In all that muck and grime? Is it worth it?” Shifts —“I guess not…I want to be in the clouds.” Pause —“Me too.” —”You think we’ll stay there?” —“I don’t know…there are always things that come and weigh us down. I’m sure of that. But it sure is possible.” —”I hope we can stay there.” —”Yeah. I do too.”
Artwork by Kelly Yu
Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Ever since my most powerful encounter with God, those words have never left my heart. But sometimes, we have to relearn old lessons. Sometimes, we have to remember again why we press on and run this race – why we persevere through the daily struggles. I’ve remained a slave in many ways. I am slave to my own expectations, to pride, to lust, to envy, to idolatry, to selfish ambition. I’ve fallen short of the glory of God in every way. But every shortcoming leaves room for redemption. I’m a firm believer in Romans 8. I know that I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. I know that every time I enslave myself to these sins, He remains desperate for my heart. And I know that I can remain free if I simply come again before the Lord, take up my cross, and follow Him. Following Christ means more than showing up to service, playing on the worship team, serving on AV, being a small group leader, praying, reading your Bible, or any other “spiritual” act. For myself, these weeks of my own spiritual dryness have been a result of me hardening my heart. I’m no better than Pharaoh, who saw the Lord’s works in front of his eyes, yet still chose to discount His greatness. I’ve come to see going to all of the meetings and serving the church as another task to be accomplished. I’ve turned away from the Gospel in my heart. This Easter, I hope everyone (myself included) can simply take a step back and open their eyes. We’re blessed beyond reason and loved unconditionally. This is the week during which the Lord sacrificed himself on that cross so many years ago. So take a moment and just remember the moment of your own salvation. I remember that retreat; all of the sin, pain, guilt, burden, and bitterness being ripped from me. I’m free. Remember Christ’s death and resurrection. He paid the price and made the way. So live out your life of freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
To be honest, I didn’t want to write about
If everything comes down to love
this. I still don’t know if I do, but I need to share,
then just what am I afraid of?
because what God has done isn’t something that I can keep to myself.
If anyone was at ski retreat, and if they happened to notice me, they would have seen
When I call out your name,
that I was a wreck. The last day was really an in-
something inside awakes in my soul
describable time, where I realized that everything how quickly I forget I did, everything I thought—in all my efforts to be I’m yours more like Christ, I forgot about Christ. Of course we all know that we need to be more like Christ. It’s one of those cliché things Christians say all the time. My previous experiences have led me to realize what that really meant, and I honestly thought I was making that effort to become more Christ-like. What finally broke me was a story.
I’m not my own
(Mike Gmetro, by the way, tells really I’ve been carried by you good stories.) A story about suffering, and all my life healing; about how he lost faith, and found it. About how good God is. And when I looked at myself, at everything God has really blessed me with…everything I had known, broke. All those walls that I had built, telling myself that I was doing well, that I was a good enough Christian, that my life was
Everything rides on hope now everything rides on faith now
fine and dandy—all those walls came crashing down. I was finally stripped away to a selfish, prideful little girl who couldn’t do anything on her own. When the world has broken me down your love sets me free
God really spoke to me that day—more than anything else could have. I had been praying for weeks before the retreat: “God, let this be dif-
ferent. Let me know that I’m not only going for a day on the slopes. Help me to focus on you. Show me what it’s like to truly want you.” Never in all of my wildest dreams did I think He would show it to me like He did that day.
You should start living and stop pretending to live.
Sometimes it can be difficult to continue to stand against all the weights bearing down on you. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the distractions and problems in your life. Life is full of obstacles that are hard to conquer and when you are blocked by a particularly large obstacle, it can be easy to just give up. I was like that. Whenever the obstacles converged on me, I would sink with the weight of my problems, give in. Yet even as I was crushed under the weights of my own problems, people came to me and asked for help. But as I look back now, it didn’t matter whether or not I gave good advice to people. I might have been a good person to talk to and ask for advice, but inside, I didn’t know what to do with my own life. Outside, I might have been calm, clear-headed, and capable, but on the Inside, I was anything but. It wasn’t helping that people were dumping things onto me. As my friends asked for advice, I started to fill up with depressing stories, and in turn, I became disheartened. I started to question myself, to question my advice, to question my friendships, my decisions, and my heart. I questioned the very essence of “me” and I couldn’t help but pity myself. It took a long time for me to figure out how to truly live life, and not become a tool that other people use when they are in need, then throw away when they are happy again. This doesn’t require everlasting courage, bravery and/or guts. All it takes is faith in who you are. Faith in not only you, but the friends that will stick with you, no matter what kind of abuse you put them through; true friends make life so much more amazing. Perhaps it is easy to give up, but giving up gives you nothing in life but disappointment. Sometimes it can be difficult to continue to stand against the world, but when you free yourself from the weights that hold you down, life becomes something worth living.
Stumbled Upon This
You've come to the midway point of your run. Giving an extra burst of speed, you reach your destination and come to a jumping stop. Deciding to take a breather, you turn around and start walking. The sight that hits you takes your mind away. The marvelous rainbow flashing across the sky with occasional wisps of cloud floating by, the myriad of the vibrant colors of Fall contained by the trees all around, yet not contained due to the powerful wind. Whirlwinds kick up and toss masses of brilliant leaves around in a swirling mix of colors. The golden flame of a sun at your back sending its radiance out on the scene before you, your shadow scouting the path ahead, the slick tree trunks popping into view as you focus more intensely. Taking the moment in with a detached view, you send out your senses. Your face has been chilled by the freezing rain, but the rest of your body is toasty and warm from your sweats. You listen for the silence amidst the blowing wind. Smelling the damp earth, you also taste the dryness of your mouth from lack of moisture due to your run. You spot a single small, flitting bird that flies across the majestic sky. The glory, however, does not last long. A stark reminder of the rare moments of life that we should yearn to enjoy. For the reality of life accompanies all of these images, and so it always shall. Nature... You hear the splash of water upon a paved road and an engine rev. You see a sleek, artificially colored metal contraption speed past you as you stroll. You smell the residue, exhaust and smoke that accompanies the passing. Perhaps you spot a shimmering, gleaming trail of oil along the roadside mixed with the water? Then another, and another. Soon the wind howls and a chill seeps into your body and mind. You pick up the pace, into a trot, then into a bounding lope. You hit the forest, running away from the harsh clash between natural and not. Running and running... your pace slows. You're back on the sidewalk.. jogging back along your route. You notice the weave of reeds and nylon as a cover for grass. See the dirt and water mixture surrounded by cement. Picking up the pace to a stride like that of a gazelle... You meet the main road. Stink fills the air. Noxious fumes and waste from the sewage. Surrounded by buildings and roads and vehicles and lights..... what has humanity done? O God...
Above All Once upon a time a rose of perfect beauty
Here I am
Decided to enter a world of imperfect harmony
Where I stand
To inspire within us a picturesque memory
Between sinners’ crowd and the perfect man
Of this personal and sacrificial lasting decree
This choice of mine Too easily discerned
A night spoke of joyous wonder
And yet if I side with Him
As shepherd and sheep looked yonder
What can I truly earn?
For this child born lowly and unknown A God taking form of flesh and bone
I walk away From this road
He grew to be a miracle
This shining city on a hill
By my own
Where weak and poor, lost and afraid
Decision for pride
Would find shelter in all His glory displayed
And look what I find But a burning city with me inside
But with the greatest love comes the greatest hate
He was led to die
As our sinful nature began to create the inescapable
Afflicted because of us
For our filth to survive
We raised our hands up to praise our Savior
So our spirits won’t become dust
But what did we reap except this overwhelming terror? But do we truly know? For we were the hypocrites, the liars and the thieves
Do we truly see?
We were the ones who stole the hope-filled dreams
What he has done
We were the ones who broke within the night
For you and for me?
With tear-filled eyes we cried out for lack of sight He was pierced and suffered too much worldly pain I brought the world within my heart
And yet our souls would never falter or even feel any shame
I let the sin tear my soul apart
To continue to place on Him stripes and stains
I loved the conflict and dramatized scenes
To continue to feed to Him all of Hell’s flames
Of lustful thoughts anWSd romantic feelings But He never spoke up, never fought But what I found was nothing more
Because although this was all we have wrought
Than regretful moments… showering downpour
He LOVED us, Above All else
Grace like rain might fall down
So He was willing to sacrifice Himself
But would that bring me to the ground? …
But to love the ones who hated Him
Hope shakes her head and faith turns away
To love the ones who hurt Him
Maybe why we’ve wondered how we’re always so afraid
To love the ones who spat on Him
Easter is this reminder of the ultimate sacrifice
To love the ones who killed Him
Here to take away our mask of “nice”
Would we ever feel that way?
That moment… of being the accursed offering
Would we ever do the same?
His broken and torn body hanging on this tree
Could we finally break the chains?
And we never once fell down on our knees
That clung to us close every single day?
To sing praise and glory to our fallen king
But all I’ve done was run away
The rose in all its beauty
And come back screaming for renewing faith
Lost everything for a worthless me
“Oh God why forsake me, please come heal me”
Because to Him I was worth the fall
“Oh God I’m leaving, but still hear my plea”
The nails on his hands
His last breath, his final plea
The nails on his feet
“Oh God why have you forsaken me?”
To cherish this forsaken land
I’m sure God’s response would have been
And cast his crown down deep
“You see… You never wanted to forsake them.”
“I know you love me but what should I do?” “I can’t simply be an offering for you” “I have my life and my hopes and dreams” “I can’t just follow your will and leave” “I want to be selfish and insecure” “I want to play around with temptation’s lure” “I don’t care about spreading this gospel around” “Let the lost be lost and the found be found” Then again I stumble and I fall I find myself wounded by the wall Of despair and agony creeping up again I wish I could say I really do what I can I pray to God so desperately Only when everything breaks inside of me I ask Him why this life’s so hard When I’ve constantly flirted with the dark
Parents Parents. For me, I don’t exactly have the best associations with that word, but I wish I did. As teenagers, most of the time we don’t see eye to eye with our parents, and often conflict arises. But it shouldn’t be this way. The truth is, we treat our friends, or even strangers better than we treat our parents. Why is this? As we all know, the Bible says to “honor thy parents”. Through my years of high school, this has definitely been hard. Although deep down inside I know that they just want the best for me, more often than not I can’t seem to bite my tongue and swallow the argument threatening to rise. I realize I don’t know everyone’s situation but I believe everyone has room for improvement. From what I hear, in college, the relationship improves. Hopefully as I head off to college next year, that the distance can somehow repair our relationship. But I think if you start early, the repairs needed will not be so great.
Artwork by Kelly Yu
Jesus’ Body for Thought Ask yourself this one question: What does it mean to be a Christian? Here are some answers: “To love everyone” “To follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” “To have a relationship with God” “To live a Holy lifestyle” And the list goes on. Go to the different churches across the U.S, and I’m sure that you’ll find different answers from different pastors and people. Please understand, though, that calling yourself a Christian, or posting it on your facebook info, does not necessarily qualify you as being a Christian, nor does it mean that those who do are hypocrites, or misrepresenting Christianity. Maybe once you believe in Jesus Christ, then you can call yourself a Christian. But what does that really mean? People have different definitions for Christianity What I want to challenge you— even as a church—to do is define it. What does Christianity really mean? What does loving everyone really mean? What does following my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ really mean? What does having a relationship with God really mean? What does having a Holy lifestyle really mean? Create the values that define who you are as a Christian. And ask yourself: What values does the Bible call you to uphold as a Christian, and are you really upholding them? (Do you even know what the Bible tells you to uphold?) However, be warned: do not let your personal thoughts, feelings, and values “misguide” you. That is the real challenge.
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