Dec 27 2017

Happiness or Accomplishment in the Year of 2017? 

Deuteronomy 33:29 

"Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.

Last week at the Alliance library, I overheard two teenage brothers discussing their New Year's Resolution with each other.  One brother said, "I will boost my grades, so Mom will be happy with me."  The other brother said something so inspiring it gave me chills down my spine.  He responded,  

"Mom cares more about your happiness than your accomplishing your goal."

I would rephrase this, "our God cares more about our happiness than our accomplishing our goal."

We are all near the end of 2017.  During this time of year, a couple of questions frequently come to our minds, "Have I accomplished my goal?" or, "What have I accomplished?" But I would like to borrow a question that Frank Tolstedt often uses, "Have you been happy in 2017?" or, "Have you had any moments that made you happy, or do you just see disappointments or broken dreams?"

Deuteronomy 33 is Moses' final blessing on the Israelites, who left Egypt 40 years prior.  His last words for his people are "Blessed are you, Israel, who is like you...?" In the Hebrew version, it can also be read as "Happy are you..."  Moses emphasizes two important things; the people of Israel are happy and blessed because of:  (1) who God is, and (2) who they are. God is their protector and savior, so the Israelites have been saved. They must be reminded of these two statements before they enter the promised land.

After 40 years of a long and torturous journey in the wilderness, Moses is standing on the top of Mount Nebo and looking over into the land where God had asked him to take His people.  His faithful walk with God is about to end right at the edge of that land.  Moses knows the Israelites will face lots of obstacles to conquer the land which is unfamiliar to them.  Their parents who had that type of inner city life experience have vanished.  The new generation doesn't have any knowledge in settling a life on a land near their neighbors.  On top of that, Moses' final advice is based upon their identity - "Be happy.  You have been saved by God."

In the year 2017, we all have gone on different paths. My wish is that your path has been easy and smooth. Our reflection on the measurement of our blessings in this year should be laid upon our identity with God. We are all blessed and happy, because God has been faithful to us and He will continue to be in the upcoming year.

Our Lord is more concerned about our happiness with Him than accomplishing our goals.


Dec. 20 2017

The Sound of Christmas 

This year I received a Christmas snow globe as a gift from a friend of mine.  Inside it is a baby Jesus lying in a crib surrounded by Mary and Joseph.  Of course, when shaking it, the snowflakes are flying around magically.  It looks like a normal snow globe, but there is one distinguished feature.  When all the snowflakes settle to the bottom, then a Silent Night music begins to play.  Watching the silver, gold, and white snow dissipating to the ground gives us a sense of pleasure.  When one the last flake finally finds its position then the music starts… “Silent Night… Holy Night…”.  Then it becomes calm and empty inside.  The song truly hits a nerve and makes me fell peaceful.  

That’s when our Lord was born.  He came to us in an unexpectedly serene way to where the day was known only to shepherds.  His birth should be quiet at night when everything is uninterrupted, so we can also be still and pay all our attention to it.  The universe fixes its eyes on the little place in Bethlehem.  No fanfare, no concert, no party, but only tranquility welcoming the arrival of the baby Jesus.

The spirit of Christmas should be deeply permeated in our daily lives.  Our Lord wants us to closely look, listen, and know Him.  All disruptions should be clear to keep our spiritual focus and sensitivity to the presence of the Holy Spirit.  That is why God sometimes puts us in isolation,  a time of loneliness, or a moment of being left alone.  Our Messiah wants to come to us and play the spiritual sound of music from Him, which makes us peaceful, calm, and joyful.

 Merry Christmas!! 

Dec. 13 2017

Perfect time in unexpected time 

1 Corinthians 3:6
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 

When returning to my office after a few weeks of study, I noticed my plant had dried out and withered down.  Some of the leaves had already turned yellow with black tips.  Others were in the morphosis of fading their colors.  It seemed obvious that the plant was dying, or already dead.  However, the thought of throwing it away was unbearable and heartbreaking.  The plant was a gift from a late friend given to me two years ago after I had moved to Alliance. My friend had been struggling with a brain tumor for a while.  Soon after sending me the plant, he left this world for his eternal place of rest.

So, I just decided not to throw it away even though reviving the plant didn't look hopeful. I usually watered it once every two or three days, but I thought the plant needed more water, so I watered it three times a day. That's all I did, just watered it without being optimistic. In about three days there was still no sign of hope. Then, four days...five days. On the fifth day, I made up my mind to give up. 

Walking into my office on the sixth day, I saw that the plant was rising off the ground! I felt a little hope for the plant. Finally, on the seventh day, its leaves stood up almost in their normal position. I had never been so joyful to see this plant! How can it be arising? Maybe, if you are a professional gardener, you might be scoffing at me and thinking I'm a total novice. But within my rookie level, seeing the plant alive was almost seeming like my dead friend had come back to life. 

"Paul planted the seed and Apollos watered..." then "God has been making it grow." In these two sentences, we can draw three meaningful facts regarding the timeframe between those two actions.   

(1) It is unsure when God started to grow the seed. It could be right after Paul's planting of it, or when Apollos began watering it, or long after what they did. 

(2) The Lord's continual action of growing the seed includes its incubation period under the ground, which is unseen. We don't see the growth, but God is acting under the ground.  So, His timeframe of growing the seed should include the invisible timeline.  

(3) It is also an unexpected time for us to see the first tip of the growth. The moment that our waiting finally comes to an end cannot be measured. It all depends on God's hands.  

Regardless of all those obscurities, we know for sure that God is growing us when we do not stop. He works with our effort and patience, and produces the best of our expectations in His perfect timing. So, we are always hopeful and joyful even in the most uncertain, murky and doubtful circumstances.  

Christ's advent was unexpected and surprising to the world. No one anticipated the exact timeline of His arrival. But we know it was flawless timing. God's timeline for His son's birth was perfect for the forgiveness of our sin and salvation

Dec 6

Loyal Customer

Revelation 3:20

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." 

In Boston, there is an old shoe repair shop.  It has remained in the same place for over 45 years.  It was a family business with the current owner taking over the business from his father in 2004.  When visiting the shop to ask about an estimate to fix my shoes, I had a chance to ask the founder about the types of customers that would come into the shop.  Up until 20 years ago, he would have loyal customers.    There were two other shoe repair shops around that area, but the patrons always came to him, not only to fix their shoes, but to spend some time to talk.  While the owner was repairing their shoes, they just sat down and talked about their lives.  A few of the customers and their children were using the shop to restore their old shoes.  However, nowadays, a loyal customer is nonexistent.  Most people have a couple of pairs of shoes.  Once one pair wears out, they use another pair, or simply buy new ones.  The retired owner of the shop misses the day when he had loyal patrons, who did not just come for what they needed, but they stopped by to get in touch with the owner.  The shoe repair shop was the center of building a community. 

I believed if you had a business, such as, a restaurant, gas station or market 40 to 50 years ago, you must've had time for hosting a fellowship in the community.  Today, we live in a culture where there are no more "loyal customers."  Instead, there is a specific term "addicted to online shopping."  "Being loyal" has its roots in having a sense of regularity, trust, personality, fellowship and community.  On the contrary, "addiction" is based on an "isolated personality", an "impersonal communication", and an "unsatisfied compulsive behavior." 

Our Lord comes to us and knocks on the door. This passage should be interpreted "keeps knocking."  His visit is not a one-time deal, but a continual effort until we open the door.  God came to people through other appointed people in the Old Testament.  But they did not pay attention to Him.  So, He came to visit us through His only Son, the baby Jesus, 2,000 years ago in order to send His message that our God is still loyal to us and wants us to be loyal to Him.   

So our Lord can be both a loyal customer and owner. 

  • He visits us to listen to our needs, and checks to see if we're doing alright.
  • His Spirit provides the very things that we need to fix our problems.
  • Repairing our issues should be done by a personal visit through the Spirit.
  • And, our Lord is present all the time, so we can come to Him anytime.    

Most importantly, we absolutely trust His ability to remove our sins and bring us to eternal life.  "Being loyal" is the message of the birth of the baby Jesus.  Advent season is the intrinsic reflection of God's faithful visit to humanity

Nov 29

"Stinky Spirit..."

 1 John 4:13

"This is how we know that we live in Him and He is in us; He has given us of His Spirit."

Last Tuesday I had a chance to have a lunch with a student who is in my class. She said that she was born in Korea.  Her father had been a missionary there for seven years. Her family came back to the U.S when she turned seven, and even though she was young when they returned, Kimchi is still her favorite dish.  It is a traditional side dish from salted and fermented cabbage. The Korean food is seasoned with garlic, green onion, ginger, salty marinated shrimp, and spicy cayenne pepper. It has a stinky smell that would make you grab your nose immediately. However, somehow she is addicted to the Kimchi smell. The Korean cuisine has to be in her dish all the time whether or not she actually eats it. Without it, she would lose her appetite. Others might frown at the unique aroma, but she wouldn't care, because she likes it a lot.

While listening to her talking about her favorite dish, the function of the Holy Spirit came into my mind. I guess those two seem to be inappropriate comparisons. However, believe it or not there is an insightful connectedness between the love of Kimchi and the Holy Spirit.

We live our lives in the Spirit, so our confession of Christ as our Savior comes from our faith. Without the Spirit, we wouldn't be able to understand and accept the Lord as the Son of God.

But, how many of us would actually feel the Spirit living inside of us, protecting, and guiding us? We are attached to the aroma of the Spirit, which is "breath" or "wind." We are "addicted" to it, but we don't sense our craving for it.

Living our lives in the Spirit might make others who don't know the Lord frown. We are forgivable, patient, enduring when others are not able to be. We are not judging when others would expect us to do it quickly. We are thoughtful and think twice before making a decision on the basis of where the Holy Spirit would lead us. Those who don't breathe the Spirit think we are too slow or incompetent. Our attitude is annoying, and stinky. But we care more about what the Holy Spirit tells us to do, because without it ,we're not able to see the Lord, understand the Savior and accept Him into our hearts.

Being stinky is a sweet aroma to us. That could be the function of the Holy Spirt working inside of us


Nov 15

Don't Dance Around the Magic...

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 

In ancient Israel, humans worshiped the gods. But according to their mythologies, the pagan gods were not perfect and, were part of the world, with limited power.  Those pagan divinities were not in control of all human activities.  Thus, there were conflicts between humans and pagan divinities in order to gain full control of the world.  "Fate" and "magic" were the techniques used by pagan ritual performers who needed a tool to fight humans.  These two realities were the forces to manipulate human life.  Immoral sexuality was also a part of the pagans' rituals.  Humans were doomed unless a virgin woman was sacrificed to the gods.  The "fate" and "magic" originated from wicked human minds overseeing the world. 
He is the Creator of all. This is the underlying foundation of all of Israel's understanding of God. 

Today we see similar secular techniques used in an attempt to gain influence over the world.  Finance is the most powerful tool to wield its control on our society.  It is like magic that performs a delusion in people's hearts.  Politics is similar to "fate", to some groups of people.  They were born to be a Republican or Democrat, and don't accept any different views or opinions.  Modern science becomes the archetype of the pagan ritual.  We put our absolute trust in it, and dance around it as if we are on the fast track to human happiness. 

Paul says "Keep your lives free from the love of money." The focus lays on "love" not on "money." Money is necessary for our living. But that should not define the purpose of our lives, or be a norm to measure the value of our happiness. 

God is monotheistic. He is the ultimate resource for human life. All our happiness and quality of our lives should be standardized by the truth of the Scriptures.


Ephesians 5:19-21 

19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, 20alwaysgiving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.... 

A few years ago, there was a lead story in the newspaper about two deaths.  They were born in the same year and died on the same day.  However, the way they lived their lives were extraordinarily contradictory.  One person grew up in an affluent family background, went to all the prestigious schools and became a medical doctor.  He was one of the highest paying physicians in the country, probably in the world.  But at the age of 58, he committed suicide because of his pessimistic view on life.  His goal was to own his own hospital, but it didn't come true.  

However, the other guy was an orphan and was in the Vietnam War.  After being seriously injured, he was honorably discharged and returned home.  Realizing that acclimating himself to everyday life was extremely difficult, he attempted to kill himself.  But he read an article where a single father who was handicapped tried to work three different jobs to support his three children.  This story inspired him to review his life in a positive way.  He dedicated his life to helping those in need.  So, he had devoted his time and energy to serving orphanages in Mexico.  The man’s favorite quote was, “As long as I’m able to move my finger... I can help others”.  He found the meaning of life in serving those who were in need.  Thus, his life was full of joy and value. 

These two lives well demonstrate where the origin of our intrinsic thankful attitude should be rooted in.     

In verse 20, Paul admonishes to keep our thankful attitude,

“to the Lord,” & “to God,”

“in the name of the Lord,”

“out of reverence for Christ.”

Paul fully recognized that our thankfulness found in outward circumstances is relatively changeable.  He probably must’ve been restless with all the authorities to control followers of Christ. It was a very hard lesson for him to see that the true gratitude comes from finding joy in Christ, who surfaces all human conditions. The truth is that the Lord is the center of what we all do, so our positive attitudes incumbent all the blessings from God. 

My prayer during this holiday season is for you to find your true faith in Christ, thus you would find your true joy and happiness.


Nov 8

Can Waxing the Bow Fix Us?
Romans 7:15-16
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

There is an old saying "Waxing the bow might help you shoot a bull's eye." It is a sarcastic way to describe your failure to understand the real issue and solve the problem.   

This idiom is identified in recent incidents.

(1) Two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history happened just 35 days apart. The Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Oct. 1st, left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded.

(2) Five weeks later, on Nov. 5th, at least 26 people were killed by a gunman at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

In both cases, there are questions raised; "How come the hotel security overlooked detecting all the rifle bags the shooter brought in to the lobby?" "How did a former soldier get firearms when he was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force for assaulting his spouse and child?" 

These types of questions are "Waxing the bow...." No government agency on earth can monitor all mentally unstable persons and rule them out from accessing fire arms. Human conditions are unreliable. In any circumstances at any time, they are prone to change from good to evil or the other way around. It has been seen enough in our history that the evil nature of the human mind is not treatable by our own effort. No psychologists can help. No government can fix it. 

Paul understands well the duality of human nature; We do the things that we shouldn't do, or we don't want to do. There is a very thin line between those two. The twofold identities are recognized by us, but they are not fixable. So, Paul confesses "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death"(v.24). Only the God who created humans can see the depth of their inner being and create a new identity in them. We might be able to reduce the number of casualties by getting rid of fire arms. However, it could be just "waxing the bow." The human mind is so treacherous that it would develop another way to perform a massive, deadly incident.

 Are we safe in church? Well, we're not safe anywhere as long as we live with these double identities. There is a very thin line between them. Only God can bring healing to us.  

Let's pray for those who lost their loved ones at the church in Texas. They are all our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Nov 1

The real question. 

John 4:17-18 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  “I have no husband,” she replied.  Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 1The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 

Dr. Sue Johnson says in her book "Hold Me Tight," that each person has "raw spots." We are emotionally attached to each other at all different levels of our relationship. Our raw spots are developed in a hypersensitive form by moments in our past, or current relationships.  In order to restore or rebuild our relationships, we have to recognize our raw spots and share them with our spouses.  Otherwise, we keep hurting each other while not knowing why our partner overeats, or gets upset. 

To identify the spots: 

(1)    You have to go back to your childhood or teenage life, and see if there is any unhealthy habit or event that would impact who you are now.

(2)    Once in a while, you have to revisit your childhood and talk to yourself:
What would you say to yourself regarding who you were at that time and who you are now?   
(3)    Then you have to honestly face your vulnerability and brokenness by opening them to your loved one.

The point of these processes is to bring out your isolated or hidden self and see any unknown emotional disturbance which impacts who you are now.  

The purpose of Jesus' visit with the Samaritan woman was not to investigate her past, or bring up any guilty feelings.  It was completely unnecessary for the Creator of the universe to dig up the dirty history of her life.  Everything about her was already known to the Lord.  The sole goal for His visit was to let her see her raw spots, which she had hidden away.  In return, her life had been isolated by her own choice.  Being alone is needed for our spiritual life.  Sometimes Jesus secluded himself from all other activities and contacts.  Whether being exposed to the public or detached from everyone, this should help us get closer to the Lord.

In the woman's case, Jesus saw that her raw spots became a stumbling block to coming closer to God.  She made herself isolated from others in order to keep avoiding any harsh remarks or comments from others in her life.  Confronting her shamefulness, insecurities, or mistakes, whatever she tried to hide, was essential for her to move forward.  Thus, Jesus came and touched her most vulnerable spot by asking, "Where is your husband?"  This question was needed to help her get out of her secret box.

Coming to the Lord is our voluntary action; however, becoming a mature Christian takes time through a long process by using all our character and personality.  Thus, whatever raw spots we have, or try to hide or ignore should be touched and treated by the Lord. Thus, our Lord might ask a rephrased question, "What is your secret?" "Where are you hiding?" Let the Lord see it and heal it.

Oct 25

Where is the Pumpkin?

Mark 1:15

"The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News." 

A Chinese philosopher once said, "My finger is pointing to the moon, but people are looking at my finger." It implies that we have the right initiation but end up having a different outcome. It is called "Moon Syndrome." We simply miss the point of why we do what we do.  The Moon Syndrome is often seen in many cases in our lives: 

I bought a game console for my kids expecting them to enjoy the games and build a good relationship with each other.  But I was disappointed because they were always arguing about who would play their game first.

Last week, a pumpkin patch sign got my attention when I was on my way to Alliance from Denver.  I took a break and stopped to explore the festivities.  There were food trucks, a petting zoo and rides for the kids.  The pumpkin patch was disconnected from the other activities at the corner end of the lot with two kids just sitting there messing around with crayons.   

So where were the pumpkins?

Today, most Christian retreat centers have a set of challenging student courses for camp.  Years ago the term "camp" was rarely used for any Christian gathering.  The familiar term was "retreat" where they left all distractions behind to worship God, quietly meditate on God, and read the Scripture.   However, without challenging activities, a "retreat center" would hardly attract any students.  So, the term "retreat" gradually became "camp". 

We miss the point...therefore, the Moon syndrome. 

What was God's purpose for giving us Scripture?   

This question is related to another one, "Why did Jesus come to us as a human being?"  

To understand this, we might have to deal with different dimensions of liberal theology, natural theology, biblical theology, historical theology, systematic theology, dogmatic theology, practical theology, social, female....theology...theology...theology.  At the end, we are just like those who are looking at the finger and not the moon; or, looking at the  pumpkin patch asking "Where are the pumpkins?"  I mean, "Where is the Bible?"

Jesus came for only one reason: The Kingdom of God.  Our Lord took all those humiliating and agonizing steps in order to proclaim God's kingdom.  That's the sole purpose. That's the essence of Christian faith. 

If you say, "I go to church in order to go to heaven," you have the perfect theology. Can there be anymore theologies?...I just created another one...perfect theology.  But the theology is simple that points to the kingdom of God.  Don't miss this by looking away at other theologies.  Stay focused on the truth... 

Oct 17

The Value of Who We Are 

Romans 9:14-16
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

A hurricane swept through Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. The storm's powerful influence remains throughout all of the places, and brings suffering to all the residents. At a marketplace, they were selling four dollar bag of toilet paper for 10 dollars.  A two dollar, two-gallon jug was now selling for five dollars. Of course, gas prices are going up 30% higher. All agricultural products already went up sky high.  Many people have little or no choice but to pay up.  Some people try to capitalize on other people's hardship and misery, and take advantage of other's suffering in the wake of a hurricane.

However, the unjust acts on those who are in need might be interpreted using a different point of justice depending on who it is.  In order to have access to the marketplace to deliver agricultural products, a container truck has to drive through trash-filled debris, which causes a long delay, so the driver needs to take more time and use more gas in order to get to his destination. It costs more for the trucking company. 

So, who can earn the virtue of justice? Those who need help and protection? Or, the merchants who risk their drivers to drive through the endangered freeway? 

Aristotle teaches that justice means giving people what they deserve; but, who can determine who deserves justice? 

In our human society, we are not able to point out clearly which is right and which is wrong. It is all relative. Who can judge that the life that I live is more valuable than yours?  

We should not say that since there is no absolute principle of justice, whatever we do should not be held against us. But God's justice should apply to who we are, not what we do.  We are all valuable. We all deserve compliments for our efforts to live our lives. God's grace should be seen in us. We are not judged by what can be seen outwardly, but who we believe in, in our hearts. 

Be confident and courageous in who you are.  You are good because our God who is good, sees all the goodness within you.

Oct 11

A Small Effect

Matthew 13:31

“He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field.” 

In the parlor, there is an added table for the children.  One of our church members noticed during fellowship on Sunday that one table was not enough for the kids to sit and have their cookies and drinks.  So, there is a new one.  It is solely for children who enjoy their cookies and drinks.  This has a ripple effect on their parents.  Since more kids want to sit around, the fellowship of parents naturally comes around, which makes them continue to linger at church.

A ripple effect is an invisible, but powerfully psychological tool to manipulate the human mind.  We see this influence at a well-known franchise coffee shop.  Their business marketing strategy is to make each individual comfortable without having the awareness of being alone.  Along with music, a small round table in the middle of the establishment is the heart of creating that environment.  A person would sit at the table by him/herself and feel comfortable.  Then other customers, or strangers, would follow and the sense of loneliness vanishes.   This ripple effect amongst the other customers is the attraction for these coffee shops.  Of course, the taste of coffee is the main force for their success.  However, the intentional setting can make the force more effective. 

There is a new evangelism called the “X-Men,” (it is an abbreviation for “Christ’s Men”, not the comic book).  It is created by some young people whose target is to reach out to “Nones,” who are not religious affiliated.  Nones intentionally keep avoiding any connectedness to churches and any religious conversations.  So, the new young evangelists made an invisible strategy to access the Nones, for example, in a restaurant, they hang a painting which looks like any other piece of art, but in the painting, there is a small church drawn that looks somewhat isolated.  The lonely appearance appeals to sentiment of people living today.  We all feel isolated and lonely. 

To me, the “X-Men.” evangelism is brilliantly biblical.  The greatest shrubs and trees starts from a small seed.  What we might think of as little or insignificant can be the strongest ripple effect to reach out to Nones, as well as our spiritual growth.

What would be your small table or mustard seed which would be that ripple effect? 

You can be a great “X-Men” evangelist, when you try not to be a big hero, but become a small table or small seed.

Oct 4

Bring Your Broken Heart to the Lord

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Monday morning dawned with some of the most horrific news we have ever heard in U.S. history. The massive shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 people including the shooter and wounded more than 500 individuals in a crowd of 20,000.  Every time this kind of tragedy takes place, people bring up questions and search for an explanation; "Why did innocent people have to die?"

According to Christianity Today Magazine, there were 18 other major incidences of violence over the past decade, including, Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, San Bernadino in 2015, and Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in 2016.  All these irrational disasters don't give any rational answers.  Thus, another question arises, "Where was God?" "Where is God?"

The reason that people fail to answer these questions or even find the answer is because they don't really look for a divine being; but, choose to distance themselves from these tragic events.  According to secular psychology, we try to disconnect ourselves from those senseless acts. Separation is the purpose.  Detachment of ourselves from an inexplicable event is our attempt for a remedy.  It can simply be said, "We want to run away."

This is not what we do as followers of Christ.

Here I'm not trying to defend the Christian faith in a rhetorical sense or theological argument.  Rather, I would like to ask one more question, "Do we really pursue a solution from God?"  Instead of isolating ourselves from any world event, asking this question would encourage us to get close to God and seek His comfort.

There is nothing on earth that could ease the pain of those who lost their families in this horrendous act.  No one can give a rational answer to them either.  That's why we bring our broken heart before God, and ask the Lord to touch it with His mighty hands.  He is the only One who knows the deepest sorrow, heals our wounds, and seals them with His everlasting comfort.

I give my deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.

Sep 27

Psalm 121:5, 7
 "The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand...He will                                 watch over your life."
In Saudi Arabia, a man named Nzerol Abdul Karim, who was a Bangladeshi street cleaner, was staring at jewels through a jeweler's store window.  Another man passing by the shop took a picture of him and shared it through social media writing, "This man deserves to only look at rubbish."  More people shared the social media with similar comments of ridicule. 
 Then, another man, Abdullah al Qahtani, a businessman, left a message on twitter saying,
"Peace and blessings upon you all, I urge those who know this worker to get in touch with me.  I have a free set of gold jewels for him."
The tweet was shared nearly 7,000 times and liked over 1,500 since it was first posted.  Users were able to identify Adbul Karim in just three hours according to CNN.  Abdul Karim received a ton of gifts including the jewels he was looking at. 
Two different men saw the same person from opposite views.  The cleaner was mocked by one person, but from the other man, he was seen as a someone deserving more than what his outward appearance suggested.

Sometimes, we feel alone on a street, worn out or staring into space.  Is God there for us?  Is God really watching us? 
The image of the street cleaner standing alone in the midst of the street is's you...feeling lonely, mocked, and ignored.  Maybe this is how God wants us to feel, because then, when the Lord finds us, we will see the truth, that He's been watching over us through our hard times. He's been looking after us with all His blessings even when we wouldn't think we deserve them. 

The window the man is looking at should be our window to look at the Lord.
The jewelry he is staring at should be the blessings that God has for us. 

We deserve it. Yes we do. 

Sep. 20

Good Question...

Matthew 16:14-17 "Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets."  15 Then he asked them, "But who do you say I am?"  16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  17 Jesus replied, "You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being." 

A few weeks ago, I was studying in the cafeteria at my school in Denver. A small child from the next table came up to me and asked, "What are you doing?" I answered, "I'm reading a book."  Then the child asked a question which caught me off guard, "Did you pray before you started to read?" I murmured, "Um...why do I need to pray before reading?" He confidently said, "We pray before every meal to thank God, so we should pray for wisdom before reading." 

The child's question reminded me of the moment that my son Jayden asked me why I pray before eating chicken soup, but not before drinking coffee or water.  I don't recall how I answered him, but all those questions were stirring in my mind.  Both children asked simple questions, but they hit a nerve. 

We learn from our own life experiences, so one question can have the same impact.    

If you have all the financial resources, what would you do for your community?  
If the world would take your idea, how would you change the world?
What would you do if you knew you would never fail?  

One question can take us deeper into ourselves, and help us to find a simple solution from those intricate problems.

Jesus asked Peter one profound question, and how he answered it made him the most faithful and trusted disciple of the Lord.  I'm not sure if Peter truly believed what he confessed, or if he just replied without thinking about depth of his thoughts regarding Jesus' identity.  However, along the way Peter followed Christ and this question remained in his heart as a reminder, rekindling his sincerity and faithfulness to the Lord when he was down. 

The word of God is active and living today. Thus, Jesus' question to Peter is also for all of us. "Who do you think Jesus is and what would you do differently if Jesus was right here next to you? Can you answer this question like Peter did?

Sep 13

That’s where we are at.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

One Sunday after worship, I overheard Frank and Joanne talk about how technology is advancing overnight.  Joanne said she couldn’t keep up with the rapid changes of all the digital gadgets, especially a cellphone.  She is even confused on which way is the top and which one is the bottom.  And of course, there are no buttons to dial a number on the first screen.  Then Frank mentioned that this is how one lives in the 21st century.  Either we accept it and try to update our knowledge on the modern equipment or we move away from the modern society where transformation is necessary.

I had a very similar moment in LA a while back.  One day I tried to pay the groceries with a check because I left my credit card at home, but the cashier didn’t know what to do with it.  I don’t recall when the last time I used a checkbook in LA.  Finally, the lady understood that the market did not accept any type of check and said, “This is where we are living in this society today.” 

Society is like a living organism.  It evolves all the time in following trends or fashion where majority of the people tend to follow.  The center of the societal transition is laid on technology that humans develop.

The scripture also wears a different form of interpretation over each society, culture or generation. We call this “contextualization.” The meanings and applications of the scripture are incorporated into a contemporary context where the readers live. Thus, “loving your neighbors” can be understood and executed differently according to each culture and society.

However, among all the contextual changes, the essence of the scripture is never contextualized – “Whosoever believes in Christ shall never perish.” This is the fundamental truth that Christianity has been built upon, and will continue to lay its foundation upon. That’s where Christianity is at. Our faith is rooted in the changeless and timeless truth, which can be applied to any society beyond culture and generation. That’s where our faith is at. We have to live by it.  

Sep. 6

Gen. 1:26 "and God said, "Let us make man in our image."

Cliff Furrow is such a great helper for communion at the nursing home of Crossroad, where I visit our church members once a month.  He always comes early to let people know that we are having communion service.  Then one day, I saw him chewing on a toothpick while he walked into a meeting.  I just assumed that he had just finished lunch because using a toothpick is usually after a meal.  Then I saw him at the church with a stick in his mouth again.  Here I thought he must have just finished a big breakfast.  But my guess was so wrong.  I realized chewing a toothpick all day long is a habit he had from his earlier years.  

Cliff would tell me that his dad chewed on matchsticks all the time.  He would see his dad with a stick in his mouth every day.  Cliff made up his mind to never do the same thing.  However sometime after his 20s, his dad's habit became his own.  It all happened gradually and naturally.  Cliff said, "I must have gotten this from my dad's DNA."

We are created in the image of God. Being made in the Divine image does not suggest His appearance, but in God's nature or likeness. We have God's DNA inside of us.  "We" here do not only indicate those who believe in God, but it includes every human being. All humans have a part in God's personality, character and essence.  They cannot escape from this connectedness. Without the DNA, there wouldn't be you. As such, without God, we have no existence. This is the absolute truth that we all have to understand and accept. 

God is inside of you. God's DNA flows through you. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in you.  

August 23

The true secure person.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

There is a theory called “Dependency Paradox.” People who try to be dependent on their families become more independent than those who do not. If you try to be independent without having anyone who you can trust and rely on, your personality would be more avoidant or isolated.   This “Paradox” theory is about securing your self-image.  

So, how can you be independent when you are dependent on someone?  An infant is helpless, so he/she has no choice but to depend on his/her parents. In this process, the infant develops his/her personality into a fully functioning stage at a higher level emotionally, socially and academically.  It is labeled as “secure attachment”.  The psychologist John Bowlby said “Paradoxically, the essential ingredient to a securely independent person is a capacity to rely trustingly on others and to know on whom it is appropriate to rely on."  The more we depend on each other, the more independent and confident we become.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” This is one of the most popular scripture verses most Christians know by heart.  “Trust in” someone requires our solid judgment or discernment on a high confident level to put our faith in the person. No one is able to bring that firm willingness out of us. It is sorely “you,” who can do such an audacious act.  So, you can be truly independent, autonomous, assertive, without being connected to anyone or any authority… but to the Lord.Trusting in the Lord is not abandoning your determination, desire, or willpower. Rather it would secure who you are as a truly independent person, who has a deep faith in the Lord.  You are an emotionally and spiritually secure person.  

July 26

Mystery of Coin

John 21:15

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

I have a dime where one side is almost faded.  Only the letters “Liberty”, are noticeable, and the face looks like Frankenstein.  The other side of the coin is completely undamaged.  However, technically this dime doesn’t have any value.  According to the US Mint Cooperation, if one side of the coin or bill is 80% or more damaged, it doesn’t function as a currency.  Both sides should clearly be present on the coin, then it can have its full value. 

Failures and successes are the necessary two sides of who we are.  In success, our leadership, intellect, interpersonal relationship skills, and experience can be shown. In failure, we see a deeper side of ourselves, which we normally can’t notice; who we are, and what made us be where we are. Failure is unwanted and undesirable.  That’s why it leads us to the areas within us where we haven’t noticed before. There we could find a gift we don’t recognize, or a hidden personality which makes us behave or say that we don’t intend to do.  Thus, when these seemingly opposite natures meet within the journey of our faith on earth, we can be who we are supposed to be.

Peter was at the highest moment of his life while being with the Lord. He was a friend of the most famous person on earth in those days. Probably, many people would look up to Peter and ask, “How can you be so close to the most awesome guy?” Then suddenly, his life ended up being on the other side. He cursed his master and ran away. He became a total failure. Did Jesus know Peter would obnoxiously and cowardly deny what he most cared about? If He did, why did the Lord not prevent it from happening? At least could the Lord have warned Peter not to follow him to the high priest’s courtyard where he was bullied by a little girl.

Jesus needs both sides of Peter, not only half a side of him. Our Lord wants Peter’s success and failure; one is where he would see an accomplishment as the result of understanding, discerning, and following the mind of Christ. The second one is where Peter would deepen his knowledge on the brokenness of humanity, which eventually led him to see the Lord as the Savior who also came for the broken people.

Now Peter became his whole self of who he was. And God wants us to be on the same level. Embrace both as the characters which makes you who God designs you to be.

July 19

Continual Opportunity

John 21:15

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

After coming back from school yesterday, I saw my wife talk to my son intensely.  Later I asked her about what happened and she was explaining something to me about what my younger son did at camp.  She told him that she would love him even if he was bad.  But, he had to tell her the truth.  Then my younger son lowered his head out of guilt and said that he did something bad at camp.  My wife waited and waited until he spoke.  He said that he was mean to a kid there.  Afterwards she gave him some advice but not once did she raise her voice and in the end, gave him a hug.  This simple everyday life reminded me of John 21:15. 

Within the story between my wife and my son, you can draw the same conclusions between Jesus and Peter.  One prominent learning was given to Peter which was initiated long before he even knew about it.  His denial of the Lord could have been considered a result of weakness of human nature and not the consequences of Peter’s love lost in the Lord.  As long as Peter remains to have love for Jesus, his status of being a disciple would not be lost.

God knows us deeper than we know ourselves. Our weakness has been known to Him. Our vulnerability has been familiar with the Lord. Our brokenness has been revealed to his awareness. The real matter is that we have to know that God loves us far deeper than we know his love for us. Our insufficient loving for him can be sufficient by His loving for us. As long as we remain in this perfect love, we would not lose the opportunity to work for Him, to be with Him, and continue to be His beloved children.      

July 5

Valuable Lesson with fear and emptiness

John 21:7, “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.” 

A 26-year-old pilot Mike Peterson was all alone in a pit of pitch black darkness.  Vietnamese soldiers were searching for him, after his plane was crashed behind enemy line.  Mike was hiding in the pit for 2 days, but could be found anytime soon by ruthless Viet Cong discovering his hide out at any moment.  It was their jungle, so they knew the possible places Mike could remain covered.  He was frightened of the hunger, cold and death. However the ultimate fear was missing his mom and dad back home. 

The enemies were coming closer, and his terror was getting intensified.  At that moment, one scripture verse flushed through his mind.  It was Mark 8:18, “You have eyes but fail to see.”  So, he prayed that the Viet Cong would fail to see him.  Finally, the Vietnamese soldiers came as close as 2 feet, but they couldn’t find him.  To them, he was invisible.

Later he applied his personal story to transform his faith into a higher level; when he was invisible, and empty, God would come to him with His miracle and blessings.     

Peter went away like the other disciples when Jesus died on the cross.  He must have been disappointed in what happened to his master and felt like he had lost his life's purpose.  So, he went back to his old lifestyle as a fisherman, but his life was never the same. He might have felt like he was a failure. Was he?  It looks like he was. He had lost everything; his master, his dreams, and his hope. His life and his inner being felt empty.  He was sitting, naked, in his empty boat.

That’s when Jesus chose to come to him, in order to teach him the most important and vital lesson on earth: It is the Lord who made his life meaningful.  Jesus waited for that moment when Peter felt naked and empty, when Peter had finally stripped off all the things that he had held on to; fear, pride, and a sense of security. Then Jesus made Peter a true follower of Him. 

God is looking at how deep you are in your faith.  God is waiting for you to be completely genuine and sincere about Him and His words. When you stand up in your nakedness and emptiness, God will come to you and fulfill you with His Spirit and grace.  You will become who you’re supposed to be; His true follower. So being the real you is God's priority. His blessing comes with your authenticity.    

June 28


Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burden, and I will give you rest.” 

Martin Pistorius was a healthy little boy up until he was 12 years old.  He then started to show signs of a strange illness that left him with the inability to walk, talk or even make eye contact.  Then he fell into a coma for about 3 years.  At age 16 he started to regain consciousness, but still was not able to communicate or move his body.  At 19 he regained full consciousness but was still paralyzed.  He was unable to communicate with others until his caregiver noticed that his eyes responded to things she said to him.  After being tested, they found that he was conscious and aware of his surroundings.  His story is best known for his 2011 book “Ghost Boy”.  

In his book, he said “I was aware of everything just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.” 

Loneliness is everyone’s struggle.  We all experience it on a different kind of level.  You could be surrounded by many people, but still feel alone or left out.  Today’s teenagers also suffer this type of loneliness.  3 out of 10 high school students attempt to commit suicide or hurt themselves because they are unable to handle the feelings of being left alone.  Modern technology intensifies this loneliness more than ever.  You’re watching TV, but it doesn’t recognize who you are.  You spend tremendous amount of hours texting and messaging through your devices such as a computer or cellphone.  But this conversation hovers on a superficial level.  More than 85% of people who are using a communication device disguise their true identity.  The more you use the device, the deeper you fall into your loneliness. 

We as an individual should be understood, heard, and recognized just the way we are without being evaluated or judged by any other standard.  Each individual needs to be honored for their effort to live their lives no matter what they may have been through.  But unfortunately, we live in such a busy world that only a few people are able to pay attention to our needs.  Even our family can’t make enough time to take note of our loneliness. 

We are here, but we are invisible. No one notices us. 

That’s why our Lord says, “Come to me… I will give you rest.”  This statement doesn’t require our physical movement, but asks us to bring our emotional sufferings to Him.  “Going to Him” is our active action in revealing ourselves to Him or letting our guard down completely.  Being emotionally bare before Him is necessary for our Lord to deeply touch our loneliness, because it is the ultimate sign of our trust in His healing power.  

In your quiet time, bring yourself to the Lord in all and complete honesty.  You bring your loneliness to the Lord, then the Lord turns that around into a blessed moment of feeling His presence.      


June 14

What is Suffering?

Gen1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it."
John 5:17 "My Father is working still and I am working." 

These two passages seem to contradict.  According to John 5,  "If God is the head of the this organization, then why are we doing all the work? If our heavenly Father is working, why do we do all the labors to finish His jobs, or even fail?  It is God's command for us be fruitful and multiply, then how come we don't see any resources needed to work for God? 

These questions are connected to one another question "Why do we suffer if God is in charge?" 

Feeling the suffering is relative and comparative.  

A few years ago, a surgeon who earned the top 10 highest salary in the US committed suicide. The reason is he didn't have his own hospital.  On the same day, another doctor died who worked for orphans in Cambodia for 15 years. She was one of the happiest persons on earth. At her funeral, more than 2,500 local neighbors participated to see her last departure.

What is suffering?

Believe it or not, there were people who hurt themselves or even commit suicide when their soccer team doesn't win. Their lives are depended upon a sport while others live on the brink of war.

Think about all those people who suffered following Christ.  The sadness or agony you're going through should not be degraded or ignored.  It should be healed and reconciled, and the true healing comes from the way we see ourselves surrounded by the events orchestrated by God's purpose.  The peace God gives us is from our trust in His subtle and soft hands to make everything good for His purpose. Everything happens for the right reason and purpose which leads you to the right direction for His plan. You are where you are supposed to be according to God's highest providence.


June 7

Fingers To the Bone. . .  

1 Peter 2:20-21

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. 

Pat and Steve Nelson invited me and a few others over for fellowship at their place.  During that time, our theme of the conversation progressed to the topic of a "typewriter".  I remember seeing one only once before and I tried to type on it... basically you can say I PUNCHED the keys with all my might.  After typing just my name, "Jay Yongjae Kim", all my fingers felt like they were going to fall off.  I felt I had worked my "fingers to the bone".  It also took almost five minutes to finish the sentence and get my feeling back in my fingers.  How did they ever type all those words in the day of manual typewriters? 

Linda and Janet said it was part of a class they took to learn how to use typewriters when in school.  They said some typewriters typed as fast as 150 words per minute, and it sounded like a percussion instrument.  Then a little later, a digital typewriter was invented so you could see what you were typing before you hit "enter".  It made people's job easier.  After that the computer became popular which everyone could type on without being HASSLED.  

However, today no one needs to learn to type anymore.  Rather, today's technology encourages us to speak to a computer and it will automatically type for you.  So, is this new generation smarter than the old one?  I might know a little more about the computer and other modern media technologies than my parent's generation, but my fingers still feel numb, while Linda and Janet typed 150 wpm. 

What we have accomplished today is the result of what our parents' generation had accomplished through suffering and pain. It could be true that they planted seeds and watered them, and we just picked the fruits. It could be the same for my children's generation. What we do now could be our kid's accomplishments and their fruits. I really hope to hear from kids, "Thank you parents for all your "fingers to the bone",  work. 

We are saved in Christ. This is the truth. But it didn't happen automatically. The One, our Savior, our Messiah made the path for us to receive the gift of eternal life. His suffering and pain became our accomplishment in our spiritual journey on earth. It could be the same to all those followers of Christ who sacrificed their lives to hand down the riches of their faith to us today.  The ways that they chose to follow God may seem to be harsh, strict or even rigid; but that's why we have all this biblical and theological knowledge today that helps us walk in our Christian life.

 On the other hand, how we follow Christ today will be the resources for our children's faith in the future. That's why we have to set a good example in following Christ in the right way.  Employ our, "fingers to the bone" in keeping our faith in Christ

June 1

​It is a mystery to the world

 John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome  it. 

There are a few things that I consider as a mystery in my place.

The first mystery is the appearance and disappearance of pens. Where did all those pens that I didn’t buy come from? Where are all those pens that I bought go? I don’t think I used a pen until the ink runs out. The similar thing happens to food storage containers. There are so many in my kitchen cupboard, but I bought none of them. Where did it come from? Some don’t even have matching lids. 

Then cookies… one of my church members shared with me her family secret cookie recipe. She showed me how to bake it step by step, and I jotted it down in detail.  Then at home, I used the exact same ingredients that she used, and followed all the procedures she taught me down to the last teaspoon. But how come the taste of my cookies is different from hers? Is her oven better than mine? Is there a different quality of heat? It’s a mystery. 

If you are meticulous, or the best baker, what I have experienced can be seen as “novice clumsiness.” But to me, it could be a long agonizing journey to turn the mysticism into reality.   

The Word, Logos was with God, and the Word was God in the beginning…this is the most intriguing statement among all other scriptures. Who is the Word? Now we see John referring to Jesus' existence as the eternity past with God. “The Word” has the divine implication of self-existence.  Jesus is God in the beginning of the world. How do we understand this? To the world, this statement is mystically ambiguous, obscure, or even nonsensical. 

It is obvious that John doesn’t expect non-believers to understand this kind of truth.  I believe that you understand and believe it, because you don’t belong to this world, but to the Lord. The Spirit bestowed by God within you interprets this statement as the essence of your belief. It is mystical to the world, but is the truth to you.


May 24

It is a mystery to the world

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome  it.

There are a few things that I consider as a mystery in my place.

The first mystery is the appearance and disappearance of pens. Where did all those pens that I didn’t buy come from? Where are all those pens that I bought go? I don’t think I used a pen until the ink runs out. The similar thing happens to food storage containers. There are so many in my kitchen cupboard, but I bought none of them. Where did it come from? Some don’t even have matching lids. 

Then cookies… one of my church members shared with me her family secret cookie recipe. She showed me how to bake it step by step, and I jotted it down in detail.  Then at home, I used the exact same ingredients that she used, and followed all the procedures she taught me down to the last teaspoon. But how come the taste of my cookies is different from hers? Is her oven better than mine? Is there a different quality of heat? It’s a mystery. 

If you are meticulous, or the best baker, what I have experienced can be seen as “novice clumsiness.” But to me, it could be a long agonizing journey to turn the mysticism into reality.   

The Word, Logos was with God, and the Word was God in the beginning…this is the most intriguing statement among all other scriptures. Who is the Word? Now we see John referring to Jesus' existence as the eternity past with God. “The Word” has the divine implication of self-existence.  Jesus is God in the beginning of the world. How do we understand this? To the world, this statement is mystically ambiguous, obscure, or even nonsensical. 

It is obvious that John doesn’t expect non-believers to understand this kind of truth.  I believe that you understand and believe it, because you don’t belong to this world, but to the Lord. The Spirit bestowed by God within you interprets this statement as the essence of your belief. It is mystical to the world, but is the truth to you. 

May 17

What's in Your Eyes?

Matthew 7:4-5  
"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look a plank is in your own eye?  5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." 

As part of my school assignment, I took a personality test.  The psychologist, who was also a pastor, sat me down and informed me of the test results.  He told me about a few personal traits I had that might negatively influence my current ministry. One of them was an "unbalanced reaction" to a public activity. Whenever encountering a person or group of people, a fear was produced within me, so I unintentionally secluded myself from them. I tended to expect or see negative outcomes from my relationships with others.  This type of personality is usually shaped by our relationship with our fathers. The test result simply meant I didn't see good things from relationships with others; so, I was unbalanced.    

Many scholars assert that there are two sides to the Scripture; one is talking about sin and punishment, the other is revealing God's promise and hope. However, these two sides are not equally proportioned, because the latter takes more than 80% of the Scripture. Surprisingly, we tend to look more at the first side which is our sin and punishment, and have a fear that only our wrongdoing or fault is revealed to God; and therefore, we will be chastised.  This type of fear usually comes from our experiences that have happened in the past or experiences with our earthly fathers. This type of experience shapes our picture of God too. 

We all know that God is a loving Father, and He loves us no matter what happens to us. We use the term "Father," but God doesn't have a gender. However, our earthly experience with our fathers reflects on our relationship with God, whom we call "Father," and tends to create a one-sided of image of Him.  He becomes a Father whom we fear, even though God also has loving, caring and gentle characteristics like our mothers. 

In many cases, we see God through our personal, cultural and social experiences, which is called "emotional baggage" or an "emotional filter."  And we believe that what we see in God is truthful when we're actually caught in our own experiences or filter. 

We often understand Matthew 7:4-5 as the criteria of "not criticizing others." Instead of magnifying others' faults and mistakes, we need to look at ourselves and see what error we commit.  However, we might want to think about one more point - the plank. 

What Jesus tries to tell us figuratively warns us that we should carefully look at our emotional baggage or emotional filter which projects a false image of God on our faith.  That is the filter that makes us see just the one side of God, and judge others from that viewpoint, or even causes us to see our own spiritual journey through it. 

How can we see the plank in our eyes? Jesus says in verse 1 "Do not judge...measure...." In other words, we should look at others with God's mind... His love and care. With this mindset, we will be able see the plank in our own eyes.   

May 10

Restore Our True Image...

Luke 15:17-18
When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you." 

I love to watch the "Antique Roadshow".  The nature of the show could be compared to Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - "You never know what you're gonna get."  In one episode, a lady brought an old chest inherited from her grandmother, thinking it was valuable.  She said it's probably 150 years old but it was in good shape and color.  Its shine hadn't faded in a long time.  Then the expert asked if it ever got repainted and the lady replied that it had.  Her husband put on a new wood finish to protect the color.  Immediately, the expert sighed deeply and said that the coat knocked down the value because a certified expert didn't restore it to its original color.  Restoring an antique wooden surface needs to be done by professionals in order to protect the value. 

God is our professional.  He is the original restorer of you and I.  He has given us the wonderful privilege to call Him "Abba Father." We are His children who are created in His image. However, we have lost our value and status, or haven't recognized it in the first place because we've been subjected to worldly temptation and authority. Restoring our original status begins with the process of identifying where we are now. This is the story of the prodigal son.    

There are a few ways to understand the story of the prodigal son, such as "God's love for us never fades no matter what"; "Our Lord wants us to come back to Him"; or, "Our sins are forgiven by God."     

However, the text conveys the son's humble claim on the loss of his original status - he is his father's son.  His status can be restored through his recognition of the pitiable position that he is now in. 

We are created in the image of God. Our Lord calls us His children by giving us His Spirit inside of us. This wonderful privilege can be restored within us when we truly see and accept our sinful nature - that we are subject to corruption and destruction.  It was Jesus' death and resurrection that restored us to our original status. 

The reason that our Lord came in human form to earth was to disclose our sinful nature, (i.e. our weaknesses and fragility) and to inform us that we should respond to God's impending request to surrender to His authority.  All those healing acts of the Lord towards the poor and sick demonstrate Jesus exercising His responsibility to take our sins upon Himself, and to make us aware of our enslaved condition, so He can restore us to God's original intention: We've been created in the image of God, thus, we are drawn to Him with all we have.  

 God's provision comes to us when we are aware of our weaknesses and the vulnerability of our existence. At that point God will remove the gravity of our burdens and restore our rights as His children

May  3

Our Silk Road

Psalm 78:56 “God brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness.”

The Silk Road or Silk Route…. was an ancient trade route for centuries through the areas of the Asian continent connecting the East and West. It stretched from the Korean peninsula and Japan into Europe. Beginning of the Han dynasty (207 BCE-220CE), those ancient merchants carried numerous items on horses and cows through the routes.  The trades on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of the countries in Asia by interacting culturally and sharing new ideas of philosophy and religion, as well as commercial products.

The length of the route was over 6,000 miles long through deserts and wilderness.   It was a hot, long, and lonely journey, but the ancient business people took the road, because of its environmental toughness. 

  •          Dry air could preserve the items longer.
  •          Openness in the desert and wilderness was beneficial to detect any danger from pirates.
  •          Since there were few plants, there was no herbivorous animals. Food chain was not established. Thus, there were no wild animals.

         Most importantly, the merchants could see clearly the stars in the night sky, which was their guiding map to their destination.

Those were the reasons that ancient people expedited the routes in the barren lands. The roads seem harsh, empty, and desolate, but it had the best condition for their business journey. That is why it was called Silk Road, not a dusty one. 

Spiritual wilderness is bleak and lifeless, but it is necessary for our spiritual journey. It is a place of pain, shame, isolation, and fear. But it is also a place where we learn that loneliness and humiliation are a part of emptying our ego and self-reliance which are deeply rooted within us. We see this in the scripture: 

  •          The cave in the wilderness, where David hid himself from King Saul who tried to kill him, is our cave to where we want to hide our mistakes and faults.
  •          The pit in the wasteland, where Joseph was left to die by his brothers, is our pit where we all feel left alone. 
  •          The tree in the wilderness, where Elijah sat hopelessly and gave up on his mission, is our tree where we also sit in desperation, are tempted to put everything behind and give up. 

Thus, the wilderness in the scripture should be ours. After time, we become molded into who we need to be and want to be. Our spiritual discernment is sharpening than ever, so we can clearly see where God guides us and what He wants us accomplish. 

The wilderness where you are in now is a silk road which takes you to the place where you’re scheduled to do the Lord’s work.  

​April 12 

​It Is In Our Nature. . .

1 Thessalonians 5:16-21
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances......Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything." 

Two weeks ago, Logan went to his school carnival and won a goldfish in one of those games.  As soon as he came home, he Skyped me and showed me the fish.  He named it Bob.  I asked him why he named it Bob and he replied, "It's my friend."  Then I noticed that he kept on shaking the tank and feeding the fish every 5 minutes.  No other person could have contact with Bob other than Logan.  A little later, Jayden sneaked in and fed the fish.  Logan rushed in the room and yelled, "Don't feed Bob.  He's my friend." 

I told Logan if he continued to feed the fish and move the tank around, it could kill Bob. He arguably responded "No, Bob will never die." Well... I'm not a prophet, but unfortunately, the next morning, Logan found his fish dead floating in the tank. He was sad and frustrated all day. Susan was going to buy him a new fish, but he didn't want one anymore. In case it died again, he didn't want to feel sad.

I wonder how he was so quickly attached to the fish, I mean "Bob." The fish didn't talk or respond to him in any way like a dog or cat does.

What made him bond to the fish so closely in such a short amount of time?

Child psychologists say that kids develop their own cognitive skills to react to the world. As little babies, they look around their room and are automatically attracted to things that are small, moving, and/or noisy. It is in their instinct and nature. By interacting with the things or animals, babies and little children learn and advance their relationship with the world. Just a little thing is a part of their larger world.   

We're children of God. It is in our nature that we are automatically attached to the Lord, and able to learn from Him and develop our relationship with Him. We don't need to force ourselves to bond with our Lord. It is inside of us already.   

That's why Paul says, "Do not quench the Spirit." The Spirit has been bestowed upon us. We should be able to recognize His voice through the Spirit.  What Paul says is related to Jesus' statement of "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  The words "change" and "become" should not be interpreted as 'trying hard,' or 'working hard,' but you should be who you are, and see the spirit of God inside of you.  

When looking at little kids playing, we all wish to go back in time to where we were innocent, pure, and genuine. The Lord gives this mindset. The Spirit within us draws us closer to God. Don't try hard. Just let it be. It is in our nature.

March 28

God centered in quietness 

Psalm 78:70 "He chose his servant David, and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the nursing ewes He brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel, his inheritance." 

Moses and David have one thing in common: when God called them, they were watching over their flock in the middle of a desert.  I'm wondering why God came to them at this particular moment.  

Why not another time when they were worshiping, praying, or doing some other religious activity?
What would be the consequences of God visiting them at that specific moment?

It is known that 10% of our brain works when we're awake and 90% works when we're asleep or in total silence. Our brain also refreshes itself when it is not disturbed by any stressful circumstances. Regarding this, author Dr. Ted Robert said that most of the conscious decisions we make will be developed productively on an unconscious level.  The late founder of the Samsung Corporation once said, "When walking quietly, you will see everything." 

Both Moses and David were going to lead the people of God as either a prophet or a king.  Their leadership roles would be challenged and tested by their own people and by their enemies.  Fighting wars was their norm.  Their tasks were the hardest that could be for them.  They experienced many victorious moments but also faced numerous and overwhelming obstacles and difficulties.  Needing to make clear decisions must have been their daily routine.  

What then, does this have to do with shepherding animals?   

It is not about the animals, but the condition that Moses and David were in.  They were probably alone in the serene wilderness, learning how to meditate on God while taking care of their flock.  Being quiet was a normal part in their lives.  Their perception in listening to the still, small voice from the Lord was sharpened during those times of loneliness.  God was not looking for a warrior or a highly intelligent person, but a person who would be profound in discerning His will.

If you are alone in the quietness. You are probably meant to be there.  That's the foremost qualification to be God's servant. Use this time to refine your spiritual discernment of His voice.

March 22

Not the elements, but His covenant.

1 Corinthians 11:24
“and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

 Once a month I go to Crossroads to provide communion for our church members. I usually use a portable communion set which contains disposable cups, juice container, and bread. This month, like any other, we gathered there for communion, but when opening the set, I noticed that there was no bread. It must've been left at the church when I was preparing the elements. Then Doris Kuhn told me that there might be crackers in the cupboard. So, I went and opened it, but instead of crackers, there was a bag of Fritos. I asked Doris and the other members if Fritos can be used instead of bread, and they all agreed, saying that the bread we usually use is not the real bread that Jesus used either. All communion elements are just symbolic. After finishing the communion, Phyllis Knoflicek said,   

"Jesus' body is a bit salty today."   

 In fact, it was not my first time using a substitute element. Years ago at a high school retreat, we used pizza and coke. 

When Jesus said, "This is my flesh...This is my blood of the covenant," I'm not sure if the disciples really understood what our Lord meant. After all those sacrificial journeys, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see why Jesus had to say that mystical statement at the table. But to those novices at the supper, what the Lord figuratively described regarding His flesh and blood would make no sense at all. 

The purpose of the Lord's supper is to remember who Christ is, what He has done and why He came to us. The terms "Flesh," and "Blood," are just symbolically representing our Lords' sacrificial acts for salvation. We should remember that:

His presence is with us,
His promise to cleanse our sins away is still active,
and, His covenant for our eternal salvation is permanent.

The power of our Christian life comes from these truths. We are clean, forgiven, and a new creation in Christ. Do not let your mistakes and faults in the past haunt you anymore. If you do, you merely focus on the elements of "blood" or "bread," and not the true meaning behind it all. 

Through this Lenten season, look and remember what Jesus promises you.  ​

March 15

The Ultimate Sign.

John 20:25  “The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Last year, I went to a Chinese restaurant with a few of my friends in LA.  One of them recently had stomach surgery to remove a tumor he had.  It left a big scar on his abdomen.  And since the treatment, he can only intake half of his regular meal portions.  He made a joke by calling it “diet surgery”.   When we walked into the restaurant, he showed the cashier an identification card indicating “Gastro Card”.  This card is for those who are not able to intake a normal amount of food as other adults.  So, my friend can get a discount.  But unfortunately, his card had no name on it.  So, the cashier asked him, “How do I know if you are the one who had the gastric bypass surgery?”  My friend confidently responded, “I can show you my scar on my belly.”  And he was about to take off his shirt when the cashier gave a big smile and said, “No, No.  that’s quite all right.  I don’t need to see it myself.” 

After dinner, the cashier reminded me of what Thomas requested from the Lord.  We usually consider Thomas as the one with the littlest faith in the Lord.  The disciple couldn’t believe the Lord being alive unless he touched the scars on Jesus’ body himself. 

However, on the other hand, what Thomas asked might hit the essence of our faith that we need to be reaffirmed. He didn’t ask for something else as a sign of Jesus’ resurrection like the religious leaders. They asked for many other wonders and miracles from Jesus.  Our Lord refused to show them.  But Thomas’ only request was to see the scars on Jesus’ hands and side. 

·         Was Thomas really of little faith?  
·         Or did he know what he only needed was to see the scars which seem insignificant to other non-believers… which no one would care about. 

I am sure God is able to bring a thousand angels and heavenly armies to us, if He wants to.  I have no doubt that our Lord can show us around heaven and hell, so our faith is firmly rooted in His authority over our lives.  But our Lord won’t do any of that by our request, because it was already proven from the Israelites in the wilderness who saw many miraculous signs but didn’t change their hearts.  Don’t be fooled with your own delusions that you are sure of seeing God’s presence when seeing a once-in-a-lifetime sign from the Lord.  You are already affirmed in your beliefs knowing that any external wonder won’t last long.  Shortly after you could keep on doubting and wondering if what you saw was real or not. 

Our genuine faith comes from within and by solely setting our hearts on the salvific work that our Lord did on the Cross.  You have to see His sacrificial work through your inner eyes and believe in your heart.  Maybe we all should be looking for a little faith… I mean looking at a little sign, like the scars on Jesus’ hand. This is the ultimate sign for our salvation.                                                                                 

March 8

Don’t sell yourself short.

Luke 16:10
10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."

It has been ten years since I wrote my first devotion.  In all those years, I rarely missed a week of writing one.  Writing devotions has been one of the most precious times for me because it helps deepen my prayer and meditation on the Scripture in a practical setting.  During this time of writing, I often sense a subtleness of God's guidance that might not normally grab my attention.  However, the way I began writing devotions was quite simple, humble and unexpected.  I would never have imagined it to linger for this long. 

It was the year 2007, and I had started a young adult's ministry in Los Angeles.  I sent out one simple e-mail.  The following was the first devotion I wrote: 

"Hi, Kenosis People,

We will commence our meeting this Sunday at the old sanctuary at 12:30. Please join us for fellowship and learning. Lunch will be provided for $5.  Hope to see you there." 

- Psalm 28 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing

Why did I use the Scripture? Actually, I just simply added it to fill up space not really knowing that it would save a person's life. 

A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from a guy who wanted to meet me for coffee.  When I met him, he said that my e-mail saved him from committing suicide.  He and his fiancé came from New York, three years before that, and opened a pizza restaurant with an ambition for their future.  However, the business wasn't successful and it cause him to file for bankruptcy.  After that, his fiancé left him and went back to New York.  He lost everything.  Before taking his life, he was going to send out an e-mail to his family and friends but then he happened to read the Scripture in my simple e-mail..... "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing."

I felt ashamed because my only motivation for the Scripture was nothing more than just filling up empty space.  But mysteriously, it was a life-saving Scripture to someone else.  Ever since that time, I have added a different Scripture every Wednesday, as well as adding a few comments on the Scripture.  

Something so insignificant by our standards may be substantial to God's standards.  You might consider what you do now as inconsequential, so therefore you don't put any value on it.  This could be where you stifle God's great plan.  It is your own self-judgment to thing yourself with this low self-esteem.  Our Lord always does His great works regardless of any human measure of what they can do. In your life time, there might be a person whose life is tremendously transformed by your humble advice.  

Don't sell yourself short. What you do now is the work of the Lord.​

March 1

Dream Big for Lent season?

 2 Cor 12:5 “I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.”

One day, Tanner was driving me around a few camp sites that might be possible for our Young Family Retreat. On the way to one of the places we were going through a wide-open, flat field which looked like a place where a group of Apaches had been riding on horses.  It seemed like at any minute they might break out of nowhere and chase us. I said, "Wow, that land is vast! I wish I could build a house right there where no one lives." Then Tanner responded "Yes, that's Hannah's dream, moving to the country so she can raise chickens and have some fresh eggs every day." I kind of paused a little bit and asked him again, "Is that her dream?" Tanner said, "Yes, that's her dream moving into a place in a wide-open field to have chickens and eggs."   

I was confused... I heard from my friends' wives how they always wanted to move in to a big place with a huge, walk-in closet, a newly remodeled kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, and an antique china cabinet to display their luxurious tea cup collection.  

But, chickens and eggs? Is that a dream? 

When finally arriving at our destination, Hannah's dream kept coming to my mind, and presented a number of questions:

  • "Why are our dreams supposed to be grand?
  • Is it because having a big dream and achieving it would make us feel self-confident or obtain a sense of accomplishment? 
  • Why can't our dream be simple or realistic to achieve?  

There is an old Greek saying, "Lofty dreams of three sailors take the ship to a mountain." It means having a big dream or many dreams could actually lead our lives in an unwanted direction.      

Regarding dreaming, Paul makes a significant statement, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race." He expressed the sentence in a present progressive statement. If it is literally rendered, it could be, "I fought a good fight every day, and now I finished the race." It means that he walked for the Lord step by step and day by day. He finished one goal today, and planned another one for tomorrow.  Paul was a very practical and rational person according to his career in the past. That's why he wrote 13 letters and all of them were advising other Christians.  

Paul doesn't ask other Christians to follow him by being persecuted physically and emotionally.
His request is not changing our career as he did from a leader of the Jewish religion, riding a horse with bodyguards, to becoming a lonely "in His footsteps" follower of Christ.
Or, meeting Christ face to face and experiencing the 3rd heaven. 

But, he asks us to follow Christ step by step, day by day, by achieving something practical and simple.   

We are going through the Lenten Season for the next 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday, March 1st. The season of Lent is not only a certain period of time when we experience what our Lord went through; but, it is also our spiritual journey on earth every day of our lives.  

So, I suggest you to choose one practical thing you can do during this time. I pick one of Paul's daily practices out of many statements he's made. "I boast in my weakness." How easy to accomplish!!! We have many weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We can boast in them all day long, and accomplish our dream every day. Then His power is perfected in our weakness. (12:9).

Feb 22

Sharpen the edge

Hebrews 4:12  “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Mark 4:8 “Other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” 

While I was visiting my family in Korea years ago, I was staying at my parents’ house.  One morning I noticed a very familiar kitchen knife laid out on the counter.  It was the very one that my mother used for many years.  She bought it when I was little.  So of course the blade is blunt and the handle all bent as well as a few cracks.  But my mother loved using it as if it was brand new with a sharp edge.  My sister and I tried to use it a few times but we could hardly cut any meat let alone vegetables.  I almost cut my own finger off.  Later, my sister bought a brand-new knife for my mom but she didn’t use it because the grip on the handle was different and difficult.  To her, the old knife was handier and more fitting than the new one.  But to me, it was just a piece of old dried up wood.  But to my mother, the old unsharpened dull knife was the most precious item she owned.

God gave us His word. To some it is living, active and sharp, while to others, it is just stale and bland.  How come the same word of God would generate a different impression? It is the matter of how patiently we are preparing our hearts to read and listen.

Regarding this, in Mark 4, Jesus talks about two different soils: good soil and shallow soil. The good one takes seeds and produces grains, but the shallow one is rocky and dried up filled with thorns.

Our minds are shallow.

We have the knowledge of the scripture; however, it could be superficial because what we know of God could only result in a cognitive process.  It is like we hear, read, and enjoy the bible as if it was a piece of literature or fictional novel.  On the outside, we express great enthusiasm, but inwardly we don’t accept and trust the scripture as the living word of God.  It is not effective in our lives.  The scripture does not spiritually sensitize us. 

Our minds are dried up and rocky filled with thorns.   

Our minds are heavily attached to our emotional baggage we linger inside of us.  Our views on the scripture is biased and negative because our hurt and anger get in the way of truly understanding the meaning of God.  Our wounded emotions prevent us from going through the healing process in the grace of God. 

Good soil needs to take a step of cultivation by removing weeds and rocks, and rearranging and crushing the crust of the soil. Good soil breathes air in and out.  

Emptying our hearts is the key to letting the word of God empower us.  We need to be quiet and wait patiently for what God wants to whisper to us.  When the Lord speaks, we truly take it into our hearts.  Therefore, it is necessary to weed out the worldly pain, and desire the Spirit of the Lord silently.  Our hearts need to be prepared in understanding God’s word.  Then God’s spoken word can then really be sharpened in us.

Read and meditate on the scripture daily. Join one of our bible study groups. You might not instantaneously see results, but little by little, the word of God is sharpening your spirit. 

Feb 15

Keep Paddling

1 Cor. 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall”          

I was watching a reality TV show called “Dual Survival”.  Two guys are teamed up to survive harsh and wild nature conditions without any proper gear, let alone food and water.  In one episode, they had to cross over a churning river on a makeshift raft, and oars made from broken branches.  Of course, it was difficult for them to control where they were going on the raft through the rolling white waters.  They pulled as hard as they could on the oars, but it was no use.  Then one guy was unable to keep up paddling, but the other guy said, “Keep it up.  Keep paddling or we won’t be able to go where we want on the river.” 

What the guy said reminded me of our marriage. One major reason marriages are on the rocks is because we stop paddling… I mean we stop trying.  We put all our passion and time trying to attract each other at the beginning of the relationship.  We listen more attentively than talking.  We take care of the other more than being taken care of.  However, these loving gestures are often ignored in a marriage.  We stop paddling in thinking that we’re on the right track since we are in this marriage.  That’s why many marriages hit rock bottom or finally end up drifting into an unexpected direction. 

The real problem is not the lack of love or good intentions, but the fact that we are not aware of the current on the river.  We don’t really grasp what our partner wants and have no idea on how to get back on track. 

This attitude is found in our relationship with Christ too. Being titled as a Christian doesn’t automatically mean we are in Christ.  Being baptized doesn’t necessarily mean we are a saved person neither.  But you must know that we can easily fall into sin and be away from the love of God. Getting close to Him and growing in faith requires our efforts to know and learn more about the Lord. We must keep paddling if only to be in the right direction with God.

Feb 8

A Priceless Deformed Tree

1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him”

Some pine trees are sold at an exorbitant price.  The prices can range from a few dollars for a small, young one to over a million dollars.  There are tree experts trying to explore for high priced trees all over the world.  However, most places where they find those trees are not on top of some mountain or in some deep forest, but growing out of solid bedrock off a rocky cliff along the beach.  The location is virtually inaccessible to anyone.  A strong gust of wind always hits the trees from the beach, and huge raging waves are right underneath the shore as well as splashing on the bottom of the roots which are wrapped around the cracks of the rock.  Also, the trees' shapes are not uniformly straight up and stretching high to the sky.  The form is disfigured due to those tough natural environments.  The trees were unnoticed because of this jagged form, until now.  Now, this "jagged" formation is what makes these trees precious and unique.

I guess you might think I'm referring to being positive or optimistic about oneself.  That's right on the buzzer! It has been said that what we negatively see in ourselves could project a similar view on what we do and how it effects our relationship with others. Then,

  • What does it mean to be "optimistic?"
  • What do we need to do to have a "positive" attitude or view? 

Our view on being optimistic or having a positive attitude is simply not believing that things are just good nor will things be all right. We don't just cover up any possible negative component within our personal character or in what we deal with in our daily lives. That is called sugar-coating or ignorance.        

  • True optimism or positive attitude is a challenge for us to accept all our weaknesses and faults, and see it from God's perspective.
  • It requires our determination and courage to bring those inadequacies to the Lord, and let Him make all the deformations priceless. The shape of the deformation might still remain, but it is used in an invaluable way. 

I know it is not as easy as it sounds. That's why it takes courage. It is a challenge. Without utter dependence on the Spirit of God, we might not be able to do the work. 

Our failure to bring ourselves to Him honestly causes us to miss many gifts within us. We have to remember that God lovingly comes and speaks to us through the feelings of incompetence, awkwardness, and obscurity. We might exist in a jagged form, but we are priceless.

Feb. 1

Credit back to God

Genesis 11:3-4
They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used bricks instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

Last Tuesday, Alliance had about 19 inches of snow.  I came to church early that morning and didn't really notice it until 9 o'clock.  Then when stepping outside to see if I could safely make it to my place, I saw a 4-wheel drive truck parked in front of the storage building next to the church.  Marty came to plow the snow in the parking lot.  His 4-wheel drive truck didn't have any problems in the snow-covered street.  Then a minute later, he got a text from Carolyn to see if he could help deliver the meals on wheels to some senior neighbors.  Other volunteers couldn't make it through, so she and Marty did the delivery through the snowstorm without knowing that Carolyn could possibly be buried alive under a huge pile of snow.  No sweat!  She's "tall enough" to jump out like Wonder Woman. Thanks to Carolyn and Marty for all their hard work and dedication in serving our church and community. 

In Jesus' day, working through heavy snow would not have been possible. I guess they might have needed Peter's miracle to walk on water, so they could walk on the snow.  Napoleon lost one-third of his army while passing through Berezina River, Russia, during winter. More than 25,000 soldiers died walking through the heavy snow. Today, they could simply fly over it in a few seconds. A miracle that happened 2000 years ago, is not a miracle today. It could simply be performed by human technology. 

  • So, can the power of God be replaced by our great inventions?
  • Can Tylenol or any medical equipment be more powerful than Jesus' supernatural healing? 

Our cognitive power to achieve all those technological and scientific feats has been given by God in order to make our lives better and easier

Being proud of our abilities is a tower of Babel today. We still need God's power and His authority even though there might be no need for supernatural powers in our present time. Our Lord might not destroy any of our material buildings, but we have to know that He could tear down the channel - the spiritual sense of knowing God and listening to Him, that he uses to communicate with us. We could be "spiritually" dead.     

To be a spiritually healthy person, we need to restore, or upgrade, our spiritual level; we might not be able to perform one of those miracles in the Scripture in our life time. But we can acknowledge all our abilities as gifts given by the Lord.

Jan. 25, 2017

We are a light-giving minister

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 
Last week, Ron Schlattman changed all the light bulbs in my office.  He noticed that my office was dim and needed the room to brighten up.  The new bulbs he installed shines so radiantly that my office seems to be full of sunlight all day long.  A little later, Joyce stopped by the church, and I told her about the new lightbulbs and how grateful I was for Ron to put them in.  Then she said that Ron is a true minister, because he gave me a new and shining light to a pastor.  What a great insight!  At first I only appreciated Ron's hard work and dedication for our church, but didn't realize that he is a true minister.  Joyce is right.  Ron is a true minister, not only because he changed a few lightbulbs but because he provided me a new environment to make my study and work easier.  Also, I feel so refreshed being surrounded by this bright light.
Peter says "You are a royal priesthood." What he intends is that each one of us are a minister doing the work of God's ministry. The authority to access to God and proclaim His word, which was given to a chosen few is given to whoever loves the Lord and follows His steps. It is not our choice. We are chosen by God.  The Lord ordains all.
Then why is this so important where both Peter and even Paul in other scriptures constantly mention? In the Old Testament, the priests performed religious ceremonies to the people of Israel. The outwardly performance was ineffective to bring a true repentance and transformation into their hearts. 
However, since Christ sacrificed his life for us, we have His grace to access God. It means we're not doing any performances anymore. What we're doing for God is a life-changing ministry.  No matter the big or small things that we do, it is a life-transforming ministry. We're giving a light to all people.  We all are ministers giving a new life to others.
In this year, my vision for the church is to be a healthy follower of Christ. Being a healthy church is about stepping away who we used to be as a religious people and what we have done as a religious institution, and becoming a gracious, loving, and caring congregation who shines on other people with the true light of Christ and His words

 Jan. 18, 2017

The True Forgiver

Psalm 139: 3-5 “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”

My brother and I had a long conversation on skype last week. Since we are in this brand-new year, he and I took some time and had a nice chat. Thanks to the genius of modern technology!!! It was good to catch up with him.  In fact, we haven’t had a chance to have a long and nice talk since I moved to this country.  During our conversation, something was nagging in my brother for a long time.  It was a such a burden in his heart.  It was about my relationship with my family in Korea.  He wanted to say something before but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so it festered in his heart for years.  He felt he had all the responsibility and obligation to the family since he was there and I was not.  After listening to him, I felt offensive at first but then later I sincerely apologized for my ignorance and insensitivity to what he was going through.  You know, my brother is a nice and humble guy.  He accepted my apology and all seems well now.

After the conversation, I felt that my one-time apology might not be enough, because forgiveness is not a quick process. To be truly forgiven by a person, we need to allow ourselves to feel the pain of what was lost in the person. We need to at least think about the similar sorrowful steps which developed within the person. Then our asking for forgiveness could be truthful and genuine.

But is it possible for us to feel the same level of pain that the other person went through? Are we able to understand the years of agony which might have haunted the person in many different areas psychologically, physically or emotionally? On the other hand, can we find a person who went through the same level of experiences we had, so he/she can truly understand what we have been through? I would doubt that we would meet that person.

That’s why we need to come to the Lord daily, meet Him and confess what we have been through. Our Lord is the only one who can truly see us through, deeply understand why we did what we did. Jesus does not momentarily visit us, but He has known us before we were even born.  He is our true forgiver, comforter, and Savior.

We are still in the band new year. Don’t waste your time finding a comforter around you. Christ is near you. Come to Him. Put your trust in Him this year.   

Jan. 1

The New Attitude

Exodus 40:1-5

The Lord said to Moses: 2 "Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4 Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.

Happy New Year!!!!

We're in a brand-new year again. It's always exciting to start a new day off in the year, because we're hoping that our lives would be better, and expect to see positive things happen to us.  So, we begin this new year with a new mindset or new resolutions, and wish to keep it hoping to accomplish it successfully. 

In his time, Moses and the Israelites had a New Year after escaping from the slavery of Egypt. However, since leaving the land in the middle of the year, they needed to start the following year with a new mindset. 

Thus, God talked to Moses and gave him a direction of how he and his people should start the New Year. The Lord commanded Moses on the first day of the first month, which is New Year's Day, to set up a tabernacle, and put the ark of the testimony (another name is ark of the covenant), in which God's presence dwells. Wherever the ark moves, God's Spirit is also there.  The first thing Moses and the Israelites had to do for the New Year is worship the Lord and be in His presence. 

The first day of this year was on Sunday, and we started by worshipping God. We had many people participating in the service. My family and I were blessed by God through this worship, and especially blessed that three little children were baptized on this day. Their parents wanted to start this brand-new year with dedicating their kids to the Lord. What a beautiful heart they have!!! 

We all care about our family, so I encourage you to start this week with God and pray for your loved ones. It is a blessed time for us to begin with God in dedicating ourselves to Him and asking for His direction for this year.  That is our new mindset. That is our new attitude.  That is our new hope for the New Year.

Devotion 2017