Category Archives: Church

Marinated in Grace

I was installed as an elder of Sojourn Church this past Sunday.  It was a special day for sure.  I began my elder apprenticeship in the Fall of 2009.  So it’s been a long road to get to this point.  A long road that I’m grateful to have traveled.  A road that consisted of a lot of time, reading, writing, studying, meetings, prayers, questions, conversations, transparency, and clarity.  It’s been such a healthy process for both me and the others involved.  I’ve had tremendous support from family and friends that’s been so helpful and encouraging.  The costs have been counted by not only myself but by my family as well and without hesitation we have pushed all in for the road ahead.

I traveled to Nashville, TN on March 3rd with David and Eric to meet with pastors Ray Ortlund Jr. and Jeremy Rose for my eldership council.  This was a very honest and open assessment of my candidacy as an elder.  There were times of laughter, rock bottom godly humility, encouragement, and the utmost seriousness.   The decision was unanimous from that council of men to proceed with my standing as an elder.  I was overjoyed.  I’ll never forget that day with those men.  One of the best days of my life.

I stood there Sunday before the church as pastors David and Eric charged me with the scriptures to shepherd the flock; to know, feed, lead, and protect the flock.  It was a powerful charge of encouragement that I greatly appreciate.  I love those guys and I know I am loved by them.  It’s an honor to shepherd alongside them.  They then invited the body to come up and lay hands on me as they prayed for me, installing me as one of their pastors.  As people began to come towards the front, tears began to well up.  That moment was marinated in grace.  A completely humbling experience.  A true honor.  I am part of a great church and loved by a great God.

I love Sojourn Church and most of all the God we worship, Jesus the Chief Shepherd.


Simpler Times Again

I had lunch with an old friend of mine today.  A good friend.  He was one of about 3 guys who was very instrumental in God saving me.  Honestly, he is one of my heroes.  It’s always good when we are able to get together, although it doesn’t happen often enough.  Today we had a chance to reflect on the “good old days.”  We have had a neat journey together with God.  We were just little fire balls for God in high school.   We both lead the Christian Club at school.  We were a mess.  Lots of passion and vision…. little tact and responsibility.  Those poor kids, haha.  Thank goodness for sanctification.  My friend ran for SGA president going into his senior year and I remember him telling me,

“I don’t care if I win.  If I do, then  great.  I’ll try and do my best, but I’m going to share the gospel during my speech.”

And that’s what he did for his speech.  He stood up in front of close to 2000 peers and told them about Jesus.  Incredible.  We put on a few city wide youth rallies which were cool.  I mean, heck… we at least got some cool t-shirts out of them.  We were those little weird Christian kids at school, praying at the flag pole in the mornings, sporting christian t-shirts everyday, carrying our bible to every class with us.  We were sharing the gospel with the students at school every chance we could get during class, before and after class, outside of class… all the time.

I feel like things were simpler then.  We knew that Jesus had completely changed our life.  We knew that unless Jesus saved our friends and classmates, that they would end up in Hell.  We wanted to tell them.  It was that simple.  And that’s what we did.  Sometimes I think it’s easy to lose sight of that.  Sinners need a Savior.  God saves sinners.  It’s that simple.  Sometimes, we get too caught up with ministry and sometimes lose sight of those simple truths… believe it or not.  Sometimes we get so caught up with ministry that we forget Jesus.

I pray this year would be a simpler one.

Drink and be filled

Psalm 143

1Hear my prayer, O LORD;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

7 Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
I have fled to you for refuge!
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

I had an amazing time last night and today at lunch with some of the leaders in our church.  Man, God is good and He is good to us.  That’s the thanksgiving I continue to have as I get time with these people.  We are a blessed church!

A common theme that I’ve seen in the conversations that have been had over the last 24 hours is a hunger for the Spirit of God.  In most reformed circles, you find a hunger for the Word of God which I believe is necessary for the life of a believer.  But, many times you find a weak spot when it comes to those very churches being known for the Spirit’s leading in their life to the same extent as their passion and devotion to the Word of God.  We are to worship God in both Spirit and in Truth.

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23&24

We, as disciples, should live lives lead by the Spirit of God.  I think about that a lot.  What does that mean?  Simply, it means to invite and follow the Spirit’s leading in all that you do.  For example, when you read the Word, allow the Spirit to speak to you.  Don’t simply look for the key verse to underline/highlight and shut your bible once you’ve gotten what you’ve wanted out of it, but rather go with the intentions of meeting with God and hearing from Him.   The Spirit will illuminate the Scriptures for you and feed you the way only the Spirit can do.

But upon further “chewing” of what it means to be Spirit lead, it dawned on me.  This won’t happen from trying to be Spirit lead.  Being Spirit lead will happen as a result of a hunger and thirst for the Spirit.  By recognizing how worthy, good, and satisfying God is.  When God brings us to a place of desperation for Him as though we are in a parched land thirsting for the water that only He can supply, we will begin to follow where that supply of water comes from.  Many times, we drink from the toilet instead of the purifying spring of life.  May we drink and be filled.

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

Where’s the Love?

My heart has been broken today for the first time in a long time.  It’s been very good actually.  I watched Francis Chan’s sermon at this year’s Desiring God Conference.  First off, let me start by saying that I get a lot of Francis Chan references from people, especially lately.  And let me say that it has nothing to do with anything besides the fact that we are both Asian and that I’m rocking some facial hair due to “No Shave November.”  I don’t even look like the guy for crying out loud, but anyways.

Francis Chan is one of those pastors that makes me want to love Jesus more and more.  I’m sure you have a few of those guys in your life.  He’s not the most theologically savvy.  He doesn’t have the longest list of published books.  He doesn’t have gray hair, or any hair for that matter.  But, MAN he sure loves Jesus like crazy.  In the middle of his sermon he asked a question,

“When was the last time you wept for the lost?”

My response – silence.  Chan continues to talk about how he used to weep for the lost.  How he used to pray for them.  How he used to just love people more than he does now.  This really resonated with me.  When God first saved me, I was constantly walking the halls of my high school before and after school telling people I barely knew about God, running the whole “If you died on the way home from school, where do you think you would go?” deal.  Before you go and criticize the approach, the point is that I loved people much more then than I do now.

Is it possible that I care more about ministry than I do the people I minister to?  Is it possible that I care more about doctrine and theology than I do my neighbors?   My heart instantly broke.  What am I doing?  Time is of the essence.  People need Jesus as much as I do.  That is the mission we have been sent on.  In the midst of the conviction came great joy!  Telling people about Jesus and the Gospel and seeing their lives transformed is what drew me to ministry…..  not the titles, recognition, positions, meetings, and definitely not the pay.  I need to hang on to my first love and not lose that, EVER.  I need to quit spending all my time talking about the Gospel with people who already know the Gospel and start spending more of my time telling people who don’t know it.  They are the mission.

God I pray that you would give me the very heart for others that you gave the apostle Paul.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. – Romans 9:3

The Family of God

Here’s a great clip of Pastor Mark Driscoll preaching on the family of God.  This was very encouraging for me.  I hope and pray it is for you as well.

What a Beautiful Mess

Ever feel like this picture sums up your life at moments?  One thing I continue to learn is that life gets messy.  Sometimes it gets really messy.  Sometimes it gets messy quick.  Some might say that if your life seems easy and you have it all together, then you’re doing it wrong.  I think the main reason things get messy is because we are a messy people, to the core.  Circumstances don’t make things messy, people do.  Our wants, desires, needs, attitudes, sense of entitlement, self righteousness, arrogance, dishonesty, misleading tendencies (just to name a few) really screw things up for us.

That’s who we are.  We are a broken people.  Don’t believe me?  Turn on the news.  Watch some TV.  Read the paper.  Check Facebook or Twitter.   Read some blogs.  Open a few magazines.  Our brokenness is everywhere.  I think one of the biggest misconceptions of the Church is that the Church is perfect.  The Church has it all together.  The Church has everything in order.  Wrong.  The Church consists of a bunch broken people as well, just a bunch of broken people who have been redeemed by a Savior.  Not just any Savior, but one who came and died so that we would not ultimately die, and was raised so that we could really live.  I’m not saying that the Church is the only group of people who recognize the brokenness of humanity, but I am saying that they are a group of people who recognize the brokenness and cries out to the only one that can right the wrong, Jesus.

One of the greatest knocks on the bride of Christ is that she is hypocritical.  You probably could’ve completed that sentence for me.  In light of the Gospel, that makes a lot of sense to some degree.  I’m not making excuses or even saying by any means that being a hypocrite is a good thing or right; in fact it’s wrong and sinful, but doesn’t that seem to fit the bill for the Church?  The Church is made up of a bunch of sinners saved by God who know and understand that without God, we will continue to get it wrong and mess things up.

Amidst the rubble, there is the Rock, where peace, order, and stability are found.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:1-2

When things get messy, fix your gaze upon the Lord.  He is our strength, rock, fortress, and deliverer.  He is our refuge, shield, salvation, and stronghold.  Yes, we are a screwed up people.  The Lord loves us in spite of our mess.  In fact, He loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, to clean it up so that we could have Him.  When God looks at the church, He sees His beautiful bride.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might know the righteousness of God. – 2 Cor.5:21

Friend of Sinners

Luke 7:34 – The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

How many christians you know would have such a charge brought against them?  Would you? What an accusation?! A friend of tax collectors and sinners! I think most people, even non-christians, would agree that the world would probably be a better place if we were all a little more like Jesus.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Love you enemies and pray for those that persecute you.  Love one another. These are the words of Jesus.  Being like Jesus is a good thing whether you believe in Jesus and trust Him or not.

Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Mark 2:17 – And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What does this look like in your life?  What does this look like in your church?  Small group? Home?  Are you a friend of sinners?  Or are you all about keeping them out and hanging out in your holy huddles?  What would it look like if a gay man or lesbian woman showed up to one of your small group gatherings?   Would they be welcomed and loved?  Homosexuality is a sin.  That’s clear.  Homosexuals are sinners.  So are liars, murderers, cheaters, adulterers, masturbators, lusters, arrogant, proud, selfish people like many of us, sinners.  Sinners saved by grace.  For some reason, we tend to place certain sinners in different categories.  Some we tolerate, some we don’t.  Some sins we condone and others we condemn.  It’s not about tolerating sin.  There is no room for sin.  It’s about loving the very people Jesus came to save.  Thank God, Jesus didn’t refrain from coming to us because of the filth He saw in our lives.  He was compelled by love.

The only thing keeping me from wrecking my life, marriage, job, ministry, family, relationships is the grace of God.  We are all sinners destined for hell, until God’s grace intervenes.   That grace is free to anyone, regardless of the “level” of sinner we consider them to be, who will come to Jesus.

I pray that I would look more like Jesus today.  I pray that I would be a friend to sinners.  I pray that I would extend the grace I’ve received to others.