Don’t grumble

Philippians 2:12-16:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” sounds so intense, so deep — the kind of thing where you’d ask yourself, “What does that even look like? Where would I even start?”

And then Paul follows immediately with “Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you might be … children of God.” Which is tremendously simple — “That’s it?! Just don’t grumble??”

And that’s the mystery and wonder of the gospel: deep enough to get caught up in wonder and philosophical musings, and yet so practical and tangible. Our faith is never supposed to stay in the theoretical; and sometimes the practical implications are as simple as “Don’t grumble.”

Thanksgiving at 30

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Yesterday, I turned 30, and I was reminded this past week–especially in light of this coming week–of how much I have to be thankful for: doing a job I love in a city I love, among people I love, with a family I love supporting me (even from afar).

There really isn’t a way to adequately convey how full my heart is after the events of the last week: from having my friend Rachel in town, to celebrating Austin & Maggie’s engagement, to numerous birthdays this week (Jordan, Erin, Rachel, Amy), to going to see LIGHTS for the fifth time (below), to the birthday party that was thrown for me last night.

When I was leaving California three years ago, a friend wrote this to me:

As you go, I hope that you see and are seen, that you inspire and are inspired, that you know and are known.

Over the last few years, I’ve been so humbled to see how these things have come to pass. Knowing and being known is pretty core for a nomad like myself, and God has been so faithful in this.

This is now the longest I’ve been in one place since I left Hong Kong almost fifteen years ago, and while every few years has been punctuated with a new chapter, this is the first time that, instead of going on to the next thing or to a new place, I’ll be putting my roots down deeper.

And to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to have done any of that without all of you who’ve been involved–from the over fifty people who have supported me financially over the last two years, to those of you who’ve been so faithful in prayer for me, and to those who have been friends and family to me for longer still.

This Thanksgiving, at the beginning of a new chapter entitled “My Thirties,” I’ll refer to Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Yesterday, my dad sent this quote from Confucius:

At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing the norm.

Standing firm … I like that.