The Joy of a Sapling
Thoughts on My Closing Hours in Korea

Well I need to write quickly. So much going through my mind.

I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop owned by one of my first friends in Korea listening to Jon Thurlow and looking at pictures from this weekend.

And I’m crying. I don’t fully know why. But there’s this incredible deep thankfulness in me for what this year has meant to me. I seriously don’t have words. I just can’t believe the unbelievable kindness I have received from people and just how good God has been to me. I can’t believe it. He asked me to come here and then He provided everything I needed. Everything. I have been without want all year. And every single day with Him has been a good day. And I haven’t deserved it…at all.

And this past week was quite hard for me as my fellow American co-teacher, the only person I really talked to everyday, left for Thailand. And it’s hitting me that I’m leaving soon. I tried looking for tickets in November, but my heart hurts. I can’t quite do this yet. I’m not ready to leave, yet I do believe I’m supposed to. And here I am back at square one trusting God to provide and trusting that He knows best because I’m not sure how He could out-do this year.

And I think the Christian life is sometimes about purposefully walking into His plan even if it means that He has to break you down in order to reach the man that you were made to be. And I am so consistent in messing things up. It’s like God is making a mosaic with my life, and every so often, I just go and smash all the pieces, and He continues to make something beautiful with the pieces. And I think that when I get to the end of life, my mosaic will be so much more complex and beautiful because of how much grace He has had to use on me. Jesus said pretty much said that those who are forgiven much, love much. And He is just showing me that He makes something even more amazing whenever I mess it up. And grace and mercy truly are the weirdest things in the word. So complex yet so simple.

And here I am truly thankful for this journey that I’ve been on. And astounded by how He is using me. And honored by His faithful attention to detail in my life. God truly is the greatest lover. And I am allowed to be His broken beloved.

Posted 1 week ago with 3 notes
Trying to blog again (My Testimony in Korea)

I realize that I haven’t written anything of substance for sometime. I know that there has been so much going on in my mind, but every time I attempt to write it down, it just sounds like a mess. Nothing of substance. Nothing that anyone would care about reading.

So here I am trying it again. I am sitting here listening to music and trying to gather my thoughts.

It’s crazy to me how much has changed since I moved to Korea over seven months ago. And it’s not been like I’ve been changing myself. It’s been God’s grace.

The story really starts over a year ago. 2011 was a horrible year for me. I was in a religious setting and doing all the stupid motions, but I was completely empty inside. And the funny thing is that most people were fooled. I was considered to be a “spiritual guy” by many because of what God had done through me previously. But I doubted everything. At one point, I even doubted God.

And that led me into 2012, where I began to believe again. And faith really rose up in me because I would hate the church and hate Christians and hate the phony acting that accompanies so much of organized religion but at the end of so many days, I would turn to prayer. Prayer became my anchor. I had no where else to turn. It was the only thing that gave me peace. Looking back, I should have been in the Word more, but I remember opening the Bible and it feeling so dry to my spiritual lips. And that didn’t satisfy me like it once did. But Jesus did! His presence calmed my tumultuous heart.

Then I finished university, which helped me leave a fairly toxic environment for me spiritually. It’s funny because Christian universities are praised as the protector of the faith, but they produce some of the worst fruit. I’m not blaming my university, but I do know some very corrupt things were happening under the motto of “Christian leadership to change the world.”

Anyway, I went home, and that proved to be a refreshing yet unsatisfying time. I was refreshed in my alone time with God. I was learning to fall in love with Him again. But then there was something else missing. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything. There wasn’t a spiritual community around for me to invest in, and I was still struggling with sins that have haunted me for most of my life.

This leads me up until the time I left for Korea. When I got to Korea, I still had maintained a pretty sinful mindset that had haunted most of my teen years, but slowly, as I learned to love others again with a full heart, God began to break off the baggages that had weighed me down for almost 10 years. And it was interesting because I didn’t realize what He was doing in the moment, but now that I look back, He was freeing me from sins that I had become so accustomed to that I assumed they would follow me forever.

And then He also freed me from even more of my religious upbringing. Removing that judgmental nature that is so often found in American Traditional Christians and began to replace that with a renewed zeal for love. But unlike previous seasons of zeal, I have a greater sense of love. There’s something deeper in my heart than what was there last season.

And now that leads me to today. I’m still learning. I’m not perfect. There’s some unseen baggage that needs to be brought to light, but I’m already redeemed by the blood of Jesus. So now I joyfully am running to Him. It’s not that I have to, it’s because I want to.

I’m excited for Korea. God’s doing something here. I was talking to a Korean Christian about the word of God for Korea about how revival is coming from the young people and how, as they work together with other East Asian countries, will bring about revival in this region. And I saw it this past week in Seoul. This small church (compared to American megachurches) had a whole row of Japanese girls worshiping alongside Koreans. That’s so crazy to me due to their pasts, but God is up to something new. Nothing else I know brings together people who hate each other like the love of Jesus.

You can try to remove all hate from your heart, but you need something to put in that hole. And that’s where the love of God comes into play. That’s what people need!

(So that’s an update on my life. Also, I typed this in one setting because I’m in a hurry. So if there are typos, my apologies!)

Posted 3 months ago with 5 notes
"When everything Jesus has is ours, we can start to feed the nations. Attending a conference is not enough. You must eat and drink until you are dripping Jesus. You must be so full of Him that you start leaking Jesus. You must eat a lot – more than just twice a year. You must eat enough for a nation. The poor have taught me about hunger and thirst and my own need. In order to function and to make it through one day, I have to spend hours every day alone with my Jesus. I must have His presence or I know I cannot survive. I am often on my face in His presence. So I stay hidden in His heart, soaking in the secret place. If you will look into the eyes of Jesus and eat and fill that hungry place with Him every day, then His passion is alive and burning in your soul."
— Heidi Baker (via anniecharaliao)

(via shelbylrobertson-deactivated201)

I’m trying to write again. It’s been too long, but I have a lot of thoughts. To anyone who has read my tumblr, apologies. I do mean to update it more. But Korea has been crazy.

Today marks 6 months in Korea. That’s so bizarre to think about it. 6 months ago at this time, I was going into my apartment for the first time. I was getting ready to sleep on my bed. It’s just bizarre. But God is good.

I’ve learned so much on this journey, and I have grown up so much. I came here as a recent graduate without a clue. Full of ideals yet unable to articulate a dream. I didn’t know who I was after being lost in that muddled mess of hipsterdom.

But God has used Korea to free me from the pursuit of all things vintage. I don’t care if I am completely unique. If anything, Korea has refocused me on what matters. People. My attempts to love others rightly in university were so messed up. I was so empty on the inside, and my attempts to love others were so half-hearted. So futile. I still think God used me for good, but there was a greater good for me.

Being in Korea has opened my eyes to the needs. He’s freed me from much of my religious upbringing and has made me accessible to sinners. I have so many friends here who don’t think the same as me, but now I am able to simply love them.

So I guess you could say that I am happy. I am content. I have a purpose. God is giving me dreams and a deeper revelation of who He is and how He wants me to interact with the world.

I’m learning to love again. To love life, people, and God. I couldn’t have asked for a better 6 months!

Thanks for any prayers you may have offered up on behalf of me. I appreciate it so much!

Posted 4 months ago with 1 note
The Healing Power of Change

It just hit me. I’ve been going through a lot of healing while in Korea, and I was trying to think of what could have caused it. I’m still working this out, but I think there is a healing element to change.

I remember reading somewhere that one of the few constants in life is change. And seriously, I think through change, God heals us.

Example: when you scrape your knee as a child, it takes time to heal that. The situation on your knee changes from blood to a scab to a scar. The situation needed to change for your healing to come.

And that seems to be so true with the heart. If you were hurt in a church or a community, why do you stay there and allow yourself to continue in pain? If God is telling you to come up out of Egypt, embrace the change and experience God’s healing presence in your life.

It took the Israelites leaving the comfort of Egypt, which they sometimes missed, in order to embrace the glory of God. By leaving Egypt, where they were hurt yet somewhat comfortable, they were able to be led by the glory cloud of God.

Dag. I wasn’t expecting to say all this, but it makes sense.

For now, I’ve embracing the change that God has for me.

(Disclaimer: God may change your situation, but He and His attributes never change!)

Posted 8 months ago with 3 notes

I’m so thankful that I’m not where I used to be
I’m so thankful that I was removed from that environment

I’m so thankful that I get to discover God here."
Posted 8 months ago with 0 notes
Korea: Healing and Love

Korea is making me fall in love with life again. It’s so hard to explain in words, but I at least want to try.

I didn’t know what would happen to me in Korea, but it’s been exactly what I’ve needed in so many ways. For one, God has used to Korea to heal my heart of many things. To deny the fact that you need healing is foolish. I think we all need it to some extent. Healing is different for everyone, but there has been some definite healing in this season of solitude. It’s crazy all the knots that have needed tied in my life, but the irony of serving God is that He heals you when you push away from shore. It’s like going to the center of the ocean to get your boat fixed, but that’s how God works. I pushed off from my complacency into the unknown of both storms and healing. And here is where God can perform the greatest miracle of all in a person’s heart.

In Korea, everyday has been a challenge to learn more, grow more, and love more. And it’s the most refreshing thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve learned to love life again. That sounds corny, but I mean it. I wish I could tell you how many times I questioned my existence in university. I knew all the “Christian, westernized” clichés. “To make a difference.” “To love God and to love man.” “To change the world.” But that stuff is largely crap unless applied. I sat around thinking I knew everything, and now here I am knowing so little but feeling so fulfilled and satisfied.

I hope this makes sense. But in case you were wondering. There is a healing going on in my soul and a love that is kindling anew. I do miss home somedays, but as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros put it, “Home is wherever I’m with You.”

Posted 8 months ago with 3 notes
"And they were saints in that most effective and telling way: sanctified by leading ordinary lives in a completely supernatural manner, sanctified by obscurity, by usual skills, by common tasks, by routine, but skills, tasks, routine which received a supernatural form from grace within, and from the habitual union of their souls with God in deep faith and charity."
— Thomas Merton, “The Seven Storey Mountain” p. 62
Posted 8 months ago with 0 notes
Anonymous: You are such a sweet soul, I wish youd notice me!

Ha. I don’t know how I can do that when you’re private, but thank you! :)

Posted 9 months ago with 1 note
poppunkthemusical: Hey Stephen, I just wanted to tell you how amazing and inspiring the things you post are! I hope you are having a great time in South Korea and had a wonderful Christmas (:

Thanks so much! And it’s great to hear from you! I hope you are doing well! And I had a great Christmas. It was definitely different, but it was good! 

Happy New Year! :)

Posted 9 months ago with 1 note
"The way of approach to the holy ground of God is nearly always through suffering; we are not always in the natural mood for it, but when we have been ploughed into by suffering or sorrow, we are able to approach the moral frontiers where God works."
— Oswald Chambers
Posted 9 months ago with 1 note
"The forest takes you captive
Mesmerizing both body and soul
You cannot escape its beauty
Unless you’re blind to beauty"
Posted 9 months ago with 1 note
tatikaesque: Hello! You write wonderfully about your walk with God. Keep it up for the glory of the Lord. Blessings!

Wow! Thanks so much! That really means a lot! :) God bless you!

Posted 9 months ago with 0 notes
My Spiritual Wish List

I realized something. I have this spiritual wish list in the way that a lot of people have a wish list of objects, I’ve been writing a wish list in my soul. For instance, some people want victory in certain areas of their lives or for a loved one to know Christ. The list can be varied and long.

While it is not bad to desire certain things, it is wrong when the wish list becomes your focus. Instead of focusing on God, I often find myself focusing on my wish list.

Why hasn’t this happened yet?
Why am I still single?
Why am I not closer to You?
Why do You see so distant?

But I realized tonight, God is my eternal focus. When I get on to my wish list with God, my life is getting off track.

So here’s to giving You the wish list and not worrying about it. Worrying does more harm than good.

Posted 9 months ago with 2 notes

There it is
I felt it again
The bitter sting of winter in my soul

Clouded skies
Hope declines
Another dream dies

Posted 9 months ago with 4 notes