Stop Pretending.

Stop Pretending
By: Dennis Nguyen

Stop pretending that you’re okay
Stop pretending that it’s alright to stay
Stop pretending to smile everyday
Stop pretending that you don’t want change

Stop pretending that you’re okay
You hurt everyone more that way
People will worry and lose their way
Your scars will become deeper if you stay

Stop pretending that it’s alright to stay
You’ve been wounded so many times in the past day
Do you think if you stay still,
The wounds will go away?

Stop pretending to smile everyday
That smile cuts sharper than a frown anyway
Cry your tears, let them out
Tell people about your pain, they’ll get you out.

Stop pretending that you don’t want change
Don’t think that you were meant to be in chains
Know that there is freedom to be found
If you stop pretending that you’re bound

Stop pretending that one day someone else will make everything right
Because if everyone did so, it would forever be night.
Fight towards the morning you want to see,
Together with those who love you, who want you to be free.

I think we sometimes forget, but I’m sure that we’ve forgotten.

Long winded title, but I feel that it really captures what I want to talk about today. Do note that “we” may or may not apply to you. Throwing it out there that this is however, probably true for a majority of the North American Christian population. The title of the post is “I think we sometimes forget, but I’m sure that we’ve forgotten.” What have we ‘forgotten‘ as North American Christians? And I feel that the most basic form of the answer is simple. We’ve forgotten about God’s Holy Spirit.

I don’t mean that in the sense that we’ve forgotten The Holy Spirit himself, but rather we’ve forgotten about The Holy Spirit’s power. I’m running into this problem where my entire life, while growing up I was told that, “When you believe in God, all your problems will go away and you’ll have a great life.” When that’s not true at all. Heck, that line even made me suffer because I thought I was following God wrong when bad things happened to me. I grew up listening to something that is called the “prosperity gospel” saying that the Christian life will be easy, everything will be laid out in front of me, and all will be well. This is definitely not true. I’ve gone through a bunch of stuff in my life, and I’m sure you’ve been through a lot in your own. The world was advertising Christianity like any other ad that I saw on T.V. “Buy our product, it’ll make you happy! As an added bonus, you’ll go to Heaven! Best of all, it’s free. But what does Christ say? He says in the bible countless times that we will suffer, that we will be persecuted, and that the world will rejected. What else did He say? He said that in order to follow Him, it will cost us everything we own. I struggled with this a while back, always wondering why there was such a discrepancy.

I didn’t really share my answer when I found it, but I’ll share it now. It’s for the exact reason that I mentioned in my first paragraph. We’ve forgotten the Holy Spirit’s power. I guess we were scared. We were scared that the “full” gospel would be too strong for people. That it would scare them off. So we dumbed it down. We made it sound short, and we made it sound sweet, just like commercials! And we made it free. And yet, many are falling away from the faith, and not many are coming to it. We forgot one important aspect. It is not our power that brings people to Christ, but rather the Holy Spirit’s power. He is the one that will give us words, and He is the one that will move the hearts of those we speak to. In acts, we hear amazing numbers. Someone starts preaching in the public, and thousands are saved. Yes, there’s contextual and cultural differences to the situation back then, but I believe the biggest difference is that they were willing to let God’s Holy Spirit

That was the more important thing that I wanted to talk about, but I feel that we’re making one more big mistake. I believe that we’re underestimating people. We feel that if we give the entirety of the gospel, we’ll scare people away, so we need to “dumb it down” a bit. Make a “PG13” version or something. But I don’t think we need to. People are searching for meaning. There was this story that I heard about someone who had committed suicide (I don’t know if it’s true or not). Her family wasn’t poor, her family was actually quite well off. She had apparently lived a fairly good life. The note she had left behind when she went to kill herself said something along the lines of this, “You gave me everything to live with, but you never gave me anything to live for.” Friends, people are searching for depth and meaning. Why are we giving them anything less? Jesus Christ’s message was life, and life to the full. A difficult life, but a fulfilling life. Yet we speak of a “spoon-fed” life, an easy life. Why? The Good News is Good News. Why are we trying to change it?

Please comment below if something’s unclear or you have any comments/ questions! I’m going to leave this link to this song here.

“That Old Tale” (Told Again) #1: The Prince and the Stairs

The Prince and the Stairs
Dennis Nguyen

This is a tale. A tale that has been told many a time, yet told differently each time, until the tale was so different, that it had completely changed. The title changed, the characters swapped, everything was different from the original plot. I am a firsthand witness of this tale, and the true story I shall tell. My part in the story however, is better left unknown. I shall give account of the story with the king’s thoughts in mind. I attained his majesty’s account of this story first hand. Any more information regarding my sources however, will reveal too much about myself, and is thus held back.

And so, let the true tale be told.

In a place on earth, not too long ago (I’m still alive to be writing this after all), there was a king. The king was a fair king, a just king. Many attributed the king’s wisdom and fairness to a blessing from God. The king ruled fairly, and the people did not feel oppressed. The king had a beautiful queen. The queen was beautiful in body, mind, and soul. Of course, their daughter, the princess was said to be the most beautiful princess to have been seen in the past few millennia. She was gentle and loving. She loved her parents, and her parents loved her in return. Her parents, being noble and wise as they were wanted to find her a man who would care for her and love her as she deserved. But how could they choose? Words couldn’t be trusted, and masks could be put on. They needed something that would test the man’s true character, they needed something that only few could possibly do. And so, the king and queen thought, and thought, and thought. Until the queen had an idea!

“Dear, why don’t we stack many mattresses on top of a pea. A man who can feel that pea even atop of the many mattresses must have a fine character!” The queen suggested the idea half jokingly. The couple both knew that often it was good to just throw ideas around when stuck on something. The king, who understood his beloved so well, replied in a upbeat and joking manner.

“Nonono. That doesn’t sound fitting to test a man’s character! I heard another kingdom used that one to find a princess. They told me about that one a while back, they called itThe Princess and the Pea! No, we need something more arduous.”

“Arduous? Like climbing stairs?” The queen said jokingly. She laughed slightly at her words, but her husband’s face stayed stern.

“That’s it!” He cried aloud.“Thank you so much!” He spoke the words in haste and kissed his queen quickly. He then dashed out from the room in search of his castle’s master carpenter. He wanted to create a staircase. A staircase that would reach the sky!

And so, days passed, then weeks, and then, a few months from that day, during the hottest period of summer, the staircase was complete. It was a standalone staircase without railings on the side. It was placed in the castle’s courtyard, leaving the climber open and vulnerable to the sun’s blazing hot rays. And it was in that period, in that season, that the king and queen made their announcement.

“Hear ye, hear ye. Whomever wishes to take my beautiful, gentle and fair daughter to be their beloved wife, must climb this staircase with about one thousand three hundred and thirty seven steps.” Instantly among the crowd that had gathered there was much talk. Many wanted to marry the king’s daughter, others wanted their children to marry the king’s daughter. However, the height of the staircase was very daunting. One thousand three hundred and thirty seven steps. Even saying that was becoming quite the mouthful. The king silenced the crowd and continued. “The challenge will be open to brave challengers tomorrow the staircase is very wide. Whoever wants to try may, but start early in the morning, or stumble and fall in the night and fall away. Only he who makes it to the top will marry my daughter!”

And so, with those words, the day continued until night fell. The night continued until the sun rose, and the challengers were on their way. On the first day, there were many challengers. The climb started early in the morning, some came even earlier than sunrise to get a quick start. They of course hoped to make it a good distance before the sun became too hot. The king watched from a window in his castle, waiting for the man who was to be his daughter’s husband to make it to the top. On the first day, he noted something odd. Early in the day, far before any had given up, one man was walking down the stairs. The man however did not look as though he had given up. The man looked strong, proud and confident. The man proceeded away from the stairs with his chest held high. The king thought that it was strange, but disregarded it and continued to watch as people made their way up his long staircase.

Once noon hit, the sun was shining very strongly. The temperature of the entire kingdom had gone up significantly, and many were giving up. Some persisted. Within that group, some others gave up, and the process continued, until it was late at night. Many were making their way down with downcast eyes and disappointed faces. He was sure that many were cursing, saying that the challenge was impossible. The king however, was sure that there would come someone who would climb, all the way to the top.

The next day, the number of people that came was significantly less. Some came earlier, some came later. There were still a lot of people however, and the stairway was crowded. The king kept watch and he saw the man that had left the challenge early the other day. The man looked happy and upbeat in contrast to the many others who looked as if they were in pain. The king kept his eye on that one man more than the others. The man went further than he had last time– much much further. However, once again, the man began walking down the steps far before the others had stopped going. The king could not help but be confused. Regardless, the day once again had come to an end, and no one had reached the top of the staircase.

And this continued, day after day, with less and less people each day. The man who had given up early on the other days came again and again each and every day. Each and every day the man climbed a little higher– a little further. The man however still stopped far before the majority of the participants stopped, but the trend continued, and the man went higher and higher each time. Eventually, the man was able to persist upon the staircase for longer than all of the remaining participants. And eventually, the man was the only remaining participant. Despite that, the man did not move in more haste or become slovenly. The man proceeded at a fair pace, going further and further each day. On days of sun, on days of rain, the man continued to persist anyway. And then, on one particular day, the man made it to the top of the ridiculously long staircase.

The king waited for the man at the bottom of the staircase and brought him into the castle. The next day, there was a wedding. After the ceremony, the king said to the man.

“I feel safe leaving my daughter to you. I am certain that no matter what hardships may come in the way in the future, you will work with my daughter to solve the problem. Progressing a little further, coming a little closer to solving the problem, day by day.”

FIN

I titled this “#1” but I don’t really know if I’ll actually have any more. We’ll see. In case you couldn’t tell, this was a “spin off” of “The Princess and the Pea”. Hope you enjoyed it!

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Advertisements.
By: Dennis Nguyen

Advertisements, why do they lie?
They say I’ll be happier when I buy ___
Yet it’s never enough,
More is always wanted,
When you believe the lie.

And yet in these days
What really would satisfy “the crave”
Is not advertised, to my dismay
That which is actually true,
Is advertised very little in this age.

“Are you going to heaven?”

I feel like this question has been asked a lot. I myself have asked it within my church community, and I always have gotten differing answers (that basically mean the same thing). “You are saved by your faith in God’s grace.”, “You are saved by God’s grace.”, “You are saved by faith, which is said to be dead without works.”. Those are the answers in the middle. Some will say, “You are saved if you’ve prayed the prayer.” or, “If you have prayed the prayer, you are saved. There is no need to do any works because you are saved by God’s grace.”. And I mean, to a certain extent, these things are true. But I don’t think they go deep enough. They only graze the surface. Indeed, no amount of works can make imperfect man perfect again. God’s grace however, can sanctify us and make us holy. I feel like just very recently, I’ve been able to wrap my head around the answer to this question better. I believe that you are saved if you know and have a personal relationship with God.

But what does that look like? I mean, I suppose even that statement can look somewhat “surface level”. But let me go a little deeper.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

So according to my own belief, to be saved, one must know God. To know God, one mustlove. Well then, what is love? Love seems to be a very broad term. Luckily, love is defined in the verses right after those two verses.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

To be saved, one must know God. To know God, one must love. To love, one must love unconditionally. God loved us before we loved Him. And as it clearly shows in the verse, God’s love (the love that is requested of us) is not some lukewarm love that is all talk, it is a crazy red-hot sacrificial love that is life changing. I mean, I feel like we almost “coax” people when asking them to “pray the prayer, have faith and be saved.” Because really, we’re missing out on MASSES of information. IF you have faith in God, there is NO WAY that you can avoid experiencing God’s love. WHEN you experience God’s love, there is NO WAY to stop it from changing your life entirely. WHEN your life is transformed, THE ONLY OPTION is to LOVE people the way that God loved us!

I mean, in the end, yes, all this will be happening willingly. But at the same time, why do we give people a surface-level answer when they inquire about God? “Oh yeah, pray this prayer and you’ll go to heaven.” That doesn’t sound amazing at all! That doesn’t sound life-changing at all! The message of the good news is AMAZING and LIFE-CHANGING. Why have we converted it into a LUKE-WARM “pray this prayer once”? Are we afraid that we will scare them off if we tell them how much this decision will really “cost”? I don’t think we should be because what we gain,is LIFE, and life to the FULL. And that FAR outweighs the cost. I think either the mass majority of the church has a misconception of salvation, or is scared that the “full version” of the good news will not be accepted by the public. But I think we have also forgotten. It is not our words that convict people to follow Christ, it is the work of God and the Holy spirit. Church, do not be afraid. Preach the gospel, and preach the gospel in its entirety. Jesus WAS NOT afraid to do so,

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

Jesus was VERY clear about the cost. If we are to follow Jesus’ example, why aren’t we?

Friends, do you know God? Have you experienced God’s overwhelming, crazy, life-changing love? Are you sharing that love with others? Are you going to heaven? Essentially, I feel that all of those questions are asking the same thing. I feel that I should share this video as well.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

An Amazing Day! (Everyday!)

Hello once again all!

I suppose I’ll explain from the start. A friend of mine updated his facebook status saying how (I’m paraphrasing) “Today’s an amazing day because _____”. Then I wrote a response comment (somewhat jokingly) saying that “Today (and everyday!) is an amazing day because we’re living on the earth that God has created and because we’re breathing the breath that God gave us.” As I finished writing the comment, I realized that it didn’t feel so much a joke anymore once I finished writing it. I truly honestly believe it to be true and well, it’s amazing and it makes every day amazing!

I mean think about it. An all powerful God designed and created this world and us. He breathed life into us and distinguished us from all of His other creation. Even after we fell away from Him, He reached out His hand to us and continued to guide us and sustain us. Then He sent Jesus down to redeem us from the fall and to pick us back up. And now, we have the hope of a new earth, a new life and an eternal relationship with God! I mean as I’m writing this now, it feels really obvious to me, so obvious that it feels like this post is unnecessary, but I remind myself that about just a half an hour ago, I did not actually think these thoughts so clearly.

I mean think about it! Isn’t it amazing? Even when I experience brokenness or pain or depression, I still have hope in the redeemed world that God will reveal when it is the right time. I still have assurance that God will pick me up when I fall down. I have faith that God is working to fix the world, and that brings me joy. And I mean, most of the world doesn’t have the same hope, they don’t have the same faith. Basically yes, this is a post to encourage any and all readers that are believers to share the good news! Because once it is known and truly understood, it brings joy, hope, love, peace and a lot of other things! And all of those things (the fruits of the Spirit) make each and every day amazing.

Hope that the remainder of this weekend is wonderful for You!
Ciao!

— The prayer that I prayed as I finished this post.
Dear Heavenly Father Lord,

I pray that I do not forget these feelings that I am feeling right now. I pray that You remind me of Your love and Your grace each and every day, and remind me of this overwhelming joy that I feel right now. I pray that You convict me, to spread this love, to spread this hope, to spread this joy each and every day. I pray that my actions, my words, and my thoughts all glorify You and are contagious to others. I pray that they become curious, that they wonder, “Where is Dennis getting that joy?” I pray that when they become curious, and if they come and ask me, that You prepare me for that time God, so that I may have a proper answer to them. I thank You God, for this wonderful amazing day.

In Your name I pray,
Amen.

Thoughts about Jesus’ Anger.

Hello again! In my post today I will be sharing my thoughts on Jesus’ anger, particularly the anger displayed in the verses below:

John 2:13-18
Matthew 21:12-13

These verses observe the same scenario. I’ve always wondered about these verses because the bible seems to be quite clear: be slow to anger. Why then did Jesus become angry? Why did he act out on His anger and shoo away the animals? If we are supposed to reflect Jesus’ attitude and behaviours, why is He allowed to be angry yet we are asked to refrain? To make it clear, I am not saying that we should not rebuke our fellow brothers and sisters. We are to do so, and we are to do so without anger. We are supposed to do so with love, patience and kindness. Of course with a little sternness following it as well. But we are supposed to refrain from anger. Why? Even though it was very clear that Jesus was angry, why are we to refrain from it?

Of course, as a human being whom is “infected” by the poison of sin, it is hard to never be angry. I’m not saying that we should never be angry, that’s somewhat… impossible. Of course, when we are angry, we should do our best to handle it well. This however, is not what I’m touching on. I’m simply trying to flesh out a reason as to why we should not be angry when it is so clear that Jesus was.

The answer in its simplest form comes down to one word. The one word is: righteousness. Jesus is Holy, and He is righteous in His anger. In one of my previous posts, “The Gravity of Sin”, I talked about why it is important to regard what we consider as “small sins” as grave or just as bad as the “large sins”. This post is in a sense an application of that post. When Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:21-22, he basically says, “The people long ago have said ‘Do not murder’, anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you this. Anyone who is angry at a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” If you give way and are angry at a brother or sister, Satan is smart and cunning enough to grab hold of that “foothold” of anger that you have provided him. As a result, if you are angry at your brother or sister, then it may not be too long until you’re considering physical harm or murder.

In the past, I have definitely observed considerable anger within my life. And it scares me to recall these details, but I would often fantasize about physically harming– maybe even killing the people that I was angry at. If I had allowed my anger to continue to latch onto me and drag me, I don’t know where I would be today. That is why it is wrong for us to be angry. We can not be 100% sure that our anger is righteous. And even if it is, the anger whether or not it is righteous or not, can lead to very unrighteous and ungodly thoughts.

The reason that it is okay for Jesus to be angry is simple. Because Jesus IS Holy. He IS righteous. He can be 100% sure that He is righteous in His anger, and because He is Holy, He will not give any power to Satan through His anger. Essentially, Jesus’ anger and our anger are fundamentally different. Where our anger is self-centered and a desire for self-glorification/ revenge, Jesus’ anger was for the glorification of God. The “marketers” at the temple were essentially cheating people and cheating God. Jesus wanted to fix things so that they would properly glorify God through their offerings, for God’s sake, as well as the sake of the people that He was rebuking.

Those are my thoughts! Feel free to comment below, I may be wrong. These are just some thoughts that I have been thinking about.

Hope you all have a nice week!