Quieting down life//[guest post]//Ginny Tung

Our guest blogger is Ginny Tung! She is married to Alan and they have 2 sweet kiddos, Ella 2 and Micah almost 1. She works for Cru and lives outside of Philadelphia, PA.  She loves lots of things in life but longs for eternity![Ginny and Alan worked with Cru in Tidewater from 2010-2013, specifically at CNU & W&M.]
Hello girls,
     I so wish I was sitting on your campus, could hear your story, see your face and ask you a gazillion questions about who you are.  I mean it when I say that!  Your life is so precious, your story so unique and Jesus loves you more than I could ever convey through a blog.  Oh, but I do hope you will see HIM through what I write and that ultimately the gospel would sink into the depths of your hurts and pains and set root in your heart. 

     To be honest, I’ve tried to write this entry a dozen times and am having a hard time putting together my thoughts; possibly because I’m still in the midst of what I want to write to you.  So, let me take you back a couple years ago to when I got an IPhone and downloaded the Instagram app.  At first it was just a few close friends following me and a handful of people that I was following.  My daughter, Ella was born and I’d say 99% of my pictures revolved around her.  It was a fun way to keep up with friends and I enjoyed showing off my sweet new baby girl to friends that lived far away.  As time went on I got more followers, more comments, and more likes.  I don’t know when it happened but along the way my heart got sucked into more than just posting a picture.  It felt like I needed to top my last post.  Was Ella (and now Micah) wearing a cute enough outfit to post that picture?  Maybe I should take another 100 pictures to get the perfect smile.  How many likes did I get? Does my picture compare to the other people I’m following?  Does it look like I’m a good mom?  And the list could go on.  

     But it didn’t just stop there, I also was beginning to see a trend of envying other people.  I’d see a picture of cute décor and think what I owned wasn’t good enough.  I had read that social media leaves people feeling unsatisfied with their own lives and makes people judgmental. For some reason I felt exempt from it. I thought I could handle it just fine.  Instagram seemed to be a gateway for me.  It shaped how I spent my time, thoughts and money.  It was easy for me to get lost in mindless scrolling once I was done on Instagram.  Or I’d then go to other sites looking to buy something for my home.  If I was bored it was my first go-to-thing and it would always lead me to wasting time.  I would then feel stressed that I didn’t get done what needed done, which then affected how I responded to my children and husband. It wasn’t until one day I was in Ella’s room scrolling through pictures while she played.  She said a couple times, “momma, build blocks!”  Each time I replied, “okay, just a minute.” She eventually came over, grabbed my phone and said, “put it in your pocket.”  Ugh!!! My daughter just called me out.  There I was sucked into another world, missing out on the precious moments with my daughter.  I guess I wasn’t exempt.   

     Sure I was praying and reading my Bible throughout all this but I can’t say I was really hearing from the Lord or really desiring Him very much.  Here’s what it boiled down to…there was an idol in my heart.  I was worshipping ME.  I was the center of my heart.  My wants, desires, and how people perceived me were more important than my sweet Savior.   I felt him tugging on my heart and telling me to get off Instagram.  (Just so you know, I’m not saying that Instagram is a bad thing and you should delete it from your phone.  I just know it caused me great temptation and I easily fell into that temptation.)    

     I needed change and I’ll tell you that I struggled to take a step forward.  Sin is often times the easier and more natural choice.  But I’m so grateful that we serve a God who is patient, doesn’t stop pursuing and is bigger than our temptations.  So at first I just stopped posting pictures but still got on to look at other people’s pictures.  I wasn’t fully surrendering this to Christ.  I did see a little improvement but really I was still disobeying the Lord and continuing to feel empty.  I sat down with a woman from my church who led me to this Scripture: Romans 8:32he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things.” My heart and eyes burst with tears.  How could I hang on to something so meaningless compared to Jesus?!?!  He gave up his life for me!  He desires to give us so much but he won’t if we’re unwilling to surrender to him.  It was then that I knew I needed to change.  I deleted the app.  

     From there I started to see change.  I was finding myself really enjoying my home and how it was decorated and not as worried about what wasn’t on the walls.  I found myself leaving my phone in rooms of the house and engaging more with my kids.  I found my heart desiring more of the Word.  I started listening to sermons by Tim Keller (he’s one of my favorites).  I found myself in the mornings choosing to pray instead of jumping on my phone right away.  My days and my attitude have radically changed.  I still sin and I still struggle but I’m finding it easier to yield to the Spirit as I truly walk with him.  As I let the Lord tear down the idol in my heart and put him back at the center, things changed naturally.  I can honestly say that I have more joy than I’ve felt in quite some time. (This is not to say that there isn’t hardship but I can find joy in Him through it).  My pastor recently gave a sermon in which he was explaining how our culture is terminally ill.  He said we are a culture that continues to try to find happiness in everything but Jesus.  Girls, isn’t it so easy to get wrapped up in what the world tells us to be like?  It’s so hard to go against the grain.  But I have found that it’s only Jesus that satisfies.  And sometimes that means giving up things that seem harmless or denying ourselves something that we think we need.

     Lastly, I was then challenged to do a 40 day fast.  So I decided to give up buying things other than the essentials.  I’m still in the midst of it and it has been challenging for me.  Ella doesn’t have church shoes right now.  She has bright pink tennis shoes.  So on Sundays when it’s time to dress up she has a cute outfit on and good ol’ tennis shoes with them.  I cringe at how it’s a bit dorky looking but honestly, who cares?  She doesn’t!  She’s 2! But it’s nice not having to worry about it. It has led me to trust that Jesus will give what my family needs when we need it. It’s hard and I so badly want to keep up with fitting in.  But it is worth it if my eyes turn away from Jesus?  Surly not!    

     Girls, it’s so hard to be different from what the culture tells us to be but it is so worth it!  What is keeping you from Jesus?  What idol(s) are in your heart that needs to be torn down?  Let Him in!  He’s calling your name! Your heart will be filled with joy!  You will hear his voice speaking to you.  Your heart will be renewed!

 With love,
 Ginny Tung

1 Thessalonians 2:8//Guest Post//Robin

Hello my dear new friends,

It is great to meet you.  I must admit, I’m quite jealous of all of you who regularly have the opportunity to see my dear friend Laura.  Isn’t she a gem?  Laura and I met while I was working in Pittsburgh and she had just graduated from college.  We met early every Wednesday morning to share what we were learning about God and discuss the ministries where He had placed us.  For Laura, we discussed her desire to see students at the University of Pittsburgh come to know, love and follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.  For me, we discussed my desire to see my co-workers come to know, love and follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.  Our ministries looked dramatically different and yet incredibly the same.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.

This verse first caught my attention during my freshman year of college and it has shaped much of my life, relationships, and ministry over the last 10 years.  I love that Paul begins with loving the people of Thessalonica.  Out of his love for them he also shares the gospel and his life with them.  A friend of mine pointed out that if one of these three components is missing we are robbed of much of the effectiveness that we crave in sharing the gospel and introducing true and lasting freedom to those around us.

We must love people.  Whether we are meeting people in the dorms, classes, workplaces, churches, or neighborhoods, we must love people.  Man.  So many days I stink at this. But thankfully, oh so thankfully, God does not ask us to do this on our own.  He knows that on my own strength, out of the goodness of my own heart, I will fail everyday in loving people well. And instead of chastising me for my poor loving skills, He teaches me of His love for me.  How kind He is!

“For Christ’s love compels us, for we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died.  And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14,15

When I was in high school a friend of mine shared this quote with me, “Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words.”  For a long time I thought that was a great plan, but I’ve come to realize, WORDS ARE NEEDED!  I must actually speak and share the gospel. Romans 10:14 asks the question of “how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they’ve never heard?” Oh friend, we must proclaim the name of Jesus and the message of His glorious salvation!

I’ve found that there are plenty of people out there for me to love and I’ve grown in my willingness to speak the gospel, but the third piece of this verse I have found to sometimes be the most tricky.  What does it look like to share your life with those around you?

For me, it often begins with coffee and chocolate.  At work I longed for my office to be a place where my co-workers wanted to be, a place where they would stop in during the spare moments of their day. So a Keurig coffeemaker was purchased and a supply of assorted chocolates was kept readily available.  As word got out that I always had coffee and chocolate in my office, I had a consistent stream of my co-workers stopping by my office.  I loved the opportunity this provided for me to hear about their day, ask them questions about their lives, and share stories about my life. Of course, this wasn’t always convenient. Conversations that were essential in developing relationships and trust often prevented me from finishing my work which then required that I work late.  But soon these inconveniences were all worth it! Friendships were developed and these relationships continued outside of office hours – I was invited to happy hours, bridal showers, picnics and many of them I invited into my home and into my life.  I was then able to invite these dear friends to read the Bible with me and experience for themselves the person of Jesus!  

It seems so simple.  Coffee and chocolate.  But I quickly realized, those around us are desperately longing for real friendship.  I’ve learned that it is essential that I share my life with those I hope to see a part of God’s kingdom.  They desperately need to know that I’m not a perfect person and the wonder that the God that I know wants to use a broken person like me.  He is a God who redeems the unredeemable, restores the broken, brings hope to despair, and life to the dead.

It is my prayer that whatever the future holds for you, out of an overflow of knowing Christ’s incredible love for you, you will love people well.  And out of your love for them, you will be willing to speak the name of Jesus and tell them the message of salvation.  And I pray that you will let them into your life, the ups and the downs, to allow them to see the redeeming and restoration that God is working in your life.

Anonymous Friday//2 guys share

First of all, I am really honored to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and encouragement with you about what I think God has taught me about singleness, dating, and relationships.  In trying to answer this, I did what I always do when faced with tough questions; I asked, “What do the fairy tales and chick flicks have to say about this topic?”  Well, as it turns out, it is pretty simple.  Clearly, the guy and girl fall in love, experience a dilemma perhaps,  and then live happily ever after, giving fulfillment and worth to one another.  The end.  Of course this is not really how I would answer this question, and when we turn to the Bible,  we see that maybe the fairy tales, chick flicks, and possibly even much of the world has it wrong when it comes to relationships and love.  God has a much better plan for you.  What God says is that you have worth and value aside from anyone else, and when you chase after Him, you will find the truest satisfaction and hope.

So where does your value and worth come from and what does that mean?  Well when your value is derived from an infinite God, you are infinitely valued.  That is tough to grasp, but wow.  Ladies, no guy but Jesus Christ can do that for you.  When you truly find your value and worth in what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are freed.  “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own … But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14.  Run towards the prize, what lies in your past does not define you if your identity is found in Christ.  No longer will you find satisfaction in attention from boys. No longer is there a battle with self image.  You are free to be the woman that God has created you to be.  So keep running toward that prize.  If you look up and God has a man in your life, you better make sure he is running for that same prize.  Remember this, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. When you know that the God of the universe has sent His only son to die for you, to make you righteous before the throne of God, you know you are already loved -Anonymous, Tidewater Cru Student 
 I have been single for what seems like a long time now. So relationship advice would not be my forte! But being single for me is honestly what I believe is best for me right now. I am very involved on campus, and school work really keeps me busy as well- I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people. I’m growing with the Lord right now, too. I really believe that relationships should not distract you from God and I can honestly say for myself that I’m not there yet.             –Anonymous, Tidewater Cru student