The Miracle of Quietness
A pregnant lady, Monica Nelson, was traveling alone with her 20-month-old boy. Since it was the first time he was in the air, he was fussy and upset with the high altitude. The mom tried everything to calm him down, but her efforts didn’t work and it rather made her exhausted. Then, suddenly, a stranger came up to her and offered his help. He said that he was also a dad and wanted to help her, so she could rest. Then he asked for her son’s name. She said, “His name is Luke.” He said “Oh, my son is Luke too. I guess kids with the name Luke are always trouble.”
Then he held Luck in his arms and walked up and down the aisle for most of the flight trying to comfort him as if he was his own. Many of the passengers in this flight were moved and some of them were even in tears watching this stranger’s loving care.
You don’t need to save the world to show a miracle. Just doing something small with a caring heart, can be a miracle.
There are many miracles recorded in scripture. The birth of Jesus was the miracle of all miracles, not only because he was born from the virgin Mary, but because his birth was quiet and lonely, and God’s loving and caring heart surrounded that birthplace for all humanity.
The birth of the Messiah wouldn’t impress the whole world if he came with great fanfare and a festival like an earthly king. We are moved and in tears by the story of his birth, because Gods’ unmeasurable grace overflowed the silent, peaceful, and unexpected night.
God’s point of view
Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way….”
One Sunday afternoon, my son Jayden asked me if all the stories I illustrated in my sermons were true. He wondered how I ever experienced those personal stories since he thinks he knows everything about me, of who I am and what I do. He believes I just made up all these accounts and that they didn’t really happen. I just smiled and answered, “I’m way older than you, Jayden.”
All the things that he has known about me were acquired only during the time he was cognizant of understanding and knowing me. This time is limited to only a few years, not including his infant stage. He sees my life within the confides of his time with me at home and church.
When seeing how God works in the world and within each individual point of our life, we do not truly understand why the Lord does what he does. Our knowledge on His plans for us is limited within our lifetime on this earth, which is just a tiny speck of the Divine’s eternality. It might not make any sense. Our Lord sees our whole lives in His time frame, which is not limited to a human’s perspective.
The birth of baby Jesus, 2,000 years ago, might not seem sensible from our point view. He was born under the religious, social, and political restrictions from the oppression under Rome.
The Lord’s birth took place at the perfect time. It is perfect when the birth is viewed from God’s plan for the entire human history.
The True Master…
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
There is an old ancient saying “dig only one well in one place”. This old axiom means if you faithfully and patiently focus on one area and do your best in that one area, you will become an expert in that field. In Korea, China, and Japan, a person who earns this honorable title, “Jang-In” (匠人), is exclusively a master in whatever he/she does. The name, “Jang-In” (匠人), is only given to those who stay in their type of work for a long period of time, even in a few generations, and should be recognized by the public for that kind of masterful workmanship and job performance.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Tim Mills and realized that he could earn this title. To my attention, he had been at his job for 40 years since 1981 and was the only job he ever had.
I assume that you may know a person who had stayed at one job for such a long time. Or, you could be that person. What makes Time’s case distinctive from others is that the strength of his integrity and loyalty was deeply attached to his innate calmness and sheer sureness of his identity. He remained at his work for such a long time not by his willingness to make self-suppressing decisions or hard-making choices, but it was in his DNA. Simply by saying, he is a natural born long-standing worker. That is the prime qualification to be “ Jang-In (匠人).”
Right after high school, Tim found his job at Pepsi in Alliance. At that time, his work was a family owned business, then later it became the Pepsi corporation. During those years, Tim has remained at his work without thinking a moment of switching to another job at any other place. He simply dug the only well at one place. Today, some people might describe this “one well” characteristic as inflexible or rigid. But we all know Tim is nowhere close to that description.
Then, what makes Tim a one well-digger? Since marrying his high-school sweetheart Linda, he has just worked hard everyday for his family. This is the second prime qualification to be “ Jang-In (匠人).” You work hard for your family. You don’t need to save the world as a hero, but do your best work on a daily basis as a family person.
His calmness and patience, as well as his quiet spirit, are naturally drawn from the two humble attributes that make him the master of what he does.
Jesus’ command “Don’t worry about tomorrow…” appeals our sensibility of loyalty and patience to the Lords’ provision on a daily basis. Our faithfulness to him should be on God’s sovereignty for our lives at every moment we live. We pray for our driving in the morning, trust in the Lord for our work in the afternoon and enjoy our family in the Lord in the evening. Remaining in this seemingly simple pattern makes us a true “ Jang-In (匠人),” of the Lord.
What we eat….
“Our words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”
Flamingos are known to be covered in beautifully bright colorful feathers. The variety of colors include pink, purple, red, white and all others in-between. The name “flamingo” derives from the Spanish or Portuguese word “flame-colored”. However, its colorful appearance is not a hereditary trait. The birds are first born with dull gray feathers. Their color-change depends on the food they are going to consume. Because the flamingos’ diet is exclusively carotenoid-filled delicacies, which are largely devoured into their physical attributes, the birds develop different colors when they grow into adulthood. Thus, it makes sense to them, “You are what you eat.”
The word of God is a spiritual enzyme that breaks down all secular thoughts and ideas then turns them into the nutrients for our spiritual health. What we have learned from the world as the truth is not the absolute truth that would set us free from the bondage of our sins. Everything we know needs to be filtered through the scripture and should be consumed into our soul. Only the word of God can make us who we are as the light of the world. We know we are the salt of the world because it was stated in the scripture. What we eat makes us who we are, so we consume the word of God, so you are shining your light to the world.
Mind the gap
A subway station employee noticed a lady frequently visiting the Embankment Station in England. She sat at the same station for a few hours. She would never get on a train but quietly sat for a while and then left. Then one day she came up to the employee and said that she didn’t hear the same audible warning, “mind the gap”, anymore. The employee explained that since the old warning had been used for many years, it had been replaced by a new digital voice. Then she paused for a while and started to tell him her story of why she visits the station.
Her name is Margaret McCollum, a 65 years old lady. She met her husband, Oswald Laurence, 40 years ago at the station. He was a theater actor with a beautiful voice, and the previous station warning, “mind the gap” phrase, was actually her husband’s voice. Then a few years ago in 2007, her husband passed away. Since that time, she went to the station often and listened to her husband’s loving voice coming out of the speaker. Then she asked if there would be any way that she could hear her husband’s phrase again. She felt that he was next to her every time she listened to his voice. The employee told her story to the Northern Line Company. The trainway company decided to restore the voiceover warning to Embankment Station. She was also given a digital copy of her husband’s recorded voice, so she can hear him at home.
Our Lord fulfills our longing to listen to him through the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s audible voice is not available anymore but only the spiritually digitalized one printed on the Scripture. The voice would only be accessible to those who truly love him and desire to hear him. When sitting patiently and waiting for him amidst our busy schedules, our Lord would come to us mysteriously. Then we know our Lord is with us.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."
Making original soy sauce is a long and difficult process such as boiling the water, crushing ingredients, making patties, drying, molding, and putting the patties into saltwater with charcoal. This type of fermentation lasts at least 2 to 3 months. The naturally made soy sauce has an unmatchable flavor with an abundant number of healthy bacteria. It would last almost forever if the soy sauce is stored at the right temperature. One time I had a chance to smell a 45-year-old soy sauce. A gallon of this sauce is as expensive as a new car. Unfortunately, the soy sauce we see in the store is not made through this type of fermentation. It is chemically brewed with no nutrients and an expiration date.
Real vinegar is also made through this method of fermentation and has many healthy elements which can cure many diseases.
The word of God is not like a cliff notes version about the Lord, but its process has been written over 1,600 years. During this time, an abundant amount of people sacrificed their lives to compose the scripture. Their skills, personalities, and talents were inspired by the Holy Spirit to complete this masterpiece. Thus, the word of God is still active, sharp and effective today as it was thousands of years ago and forevermore. Whoever read it and believes in it would be transformed into a new person. It heals our sins as well as our wounded hearts. Even though the scripture is pricelessly “fermented” by the spirit, the most important part is its accessibility to everyone.
The foolish to the world
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Jack Ma is one of the richest men in the world. He was the founder of the Chinese multinational conglomerate, specializing in e-commerce. His business is worth $475 billion as of 2019 and his personal net worth is $43 billion; however, he stepped down from his position on his birthday, September 10,2019 in order to go back to his former job as an “English teacher” as he had always promised. He is only 55.
He created his business on April 4, 1999 with his friends in a small apartment. His major target was a retailing service on the internet, which was heavily unacceptable by the Chinese culture. The Chinese people traditionally put a high regard on “Guanxi”-interpersonal connection. This is a mutually exclusive relationship. They run their businesses based on the strongly tight relationship with those they have already known. During those years of being challenged and criticized, he said his famous remark, “The world needs the foolish who leads the smart.”
Jack Ma was born in a rural countryside with poor parents. He failed three times to enter college. Now he is going back to his former teaching job leaving the one position that would continue to make him the most influential person on earth. To the world, he is foolish, but to himself, he is the wisest and honest man alive.
How do we define the nature of foolishness? What criteria do we have to make this judgement? Isn’t the definition limited within what we know at this moment or what we have used to do?
The message of the cross seems foolish to the world because it cannot be cognitively understood by what we learn and see in our present life. The death of the cross marks a failure, thus what Paul teaches on the cross is absurd and senseless. But we decode the mystery of the cross with our spiritual eyes. The cross is our power and reason that keeps our faith in God. It is the fundamental resource for our strength and endurance on our present hardship and difficulty. We do not expect the world to understand why we believe in the Lord because recognition of the cross as our power source is a privilege only given to the chosen ones.
A Different Type of Waiting
Still I am certain to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD.
Finally, I caught my first fish… in TWO YEARS. My dream came true! Fishing was one of those areas that didn’t make me the best dad to my boys. To them, I was a nerdy dad sitting at my desk working on my computer. In terms of fishing, I didn’t gain any respect nor trust. They said that the only thing they got were bug bites, not fish bites.
Then, this time was different. Janet and Ron took my family out for boating where I just set up my fishing rods and didn’t expect to catch anything... as usual. Then after a few nibbles, I felt a heavy tug on my rod. It was a fish, which I had wished forever.
For the last two years, I did everything I could do. I used all the different kinds of bait and bought a few new fishing poles. I even took a two hour-fishing class on you-tube and read three books on “becoming a fish master.” My friends advised me that the most important element of fishing is to wait. So I did. I was waiting… waiting… and waiting (up to two years), but nothing happened.
Then, what made it different this time? Well. Maybe I was lucky, but the type of waiting was not like the other times. I cast the fishing line, then left the pole on its stand. I was waiting, but it was not your every two second-check or anxiously wishing for a fish kind of wait. I just let go of whatever I wished for.
We’re waiting for the Lord patiently. The author of the Psalm advices to wait in a specific way. We can wait with a restless mind or a hurried and frantic heart. Waiting itself might not meet the nature of being patient. We have to let go of what we’re waiting for. We leave what we’re wishing for in the hands of God who knows exactly when it should be fulfilled. So being “strong and courageous” is necessary for us to let go of what we’re waiting for. Letting go is a hard thing to do. But when doing it, we can truly say that we’re waiting patiently.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
In the book, The Shadow, the author Hans Christian Andersen described a person as the intrinsic being who co-exists with a dark side. Without it, the person might lose the value of existence.
The story of this book is very simple. A man was separated from his shadow, which followed his every movement. Several years passed by, the lost shadow came back and stayed with him. Then the shadow became richer and fatter over the years while the man followed the shadow. Finally in order to marry a princess, the shadow had her kill the man.
The story could be seen from variably literal viewpoints, but my observation would be what the nature of human being should be or is destined to be. The authenticity of “self” is not able to completely move away from a nature of darkness. We struggle and deal with our sinfulness.
We are not able to move away from our darkness by our own, but need the One, Christ, the Messiah who can truly set us free from it.
The light of Christ shines upon those who are weak and vulnerable, and those who are overwhelmed with their depravity or immorality. He is the one who is able to sperate us from the darkness.
Mruki Murakami is a Japanese author, who was awarded with the Hans Christian Anderson Literature. He said, “the light without a shadow is not real light.” He does have the same belief as we have but understands the genuineness of a human being. We need the Lord who shines his light upon our darkness.
Where is the Truth?
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, uone who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven”
Recently I finished a book My Struggle by Karl Ove Kanusgaard. The book is six volumes and 3,600 pages autobiographical novel telling about his self- absorbing perception and paradoxical feeling on his life. My insight on the long-lengthy novel is his awareness on his misconception on where his inadequacy and dreariness originated. What he thought was right of pursuing the truthfulness turns out to be the opposite of what he expects. His true identity does not come from his relation to his artwork, but his connectedness to his family is the origin of his artwork.
This book reminds me of one that I read years ago, which is “The Archemist” written by Paublo Coelho. It is a fictional novel in which a boy, Santiago, started his journey to find a worldly treasure. At the end of his journey, he figured out where the treasure would be –he is going back to his loved one.
These two have two in common.
(1) The truthfulness is not far away, but it is where you are now related to the one who you love.
(2) The other one is your struggle and pain would come from your unawareness on what you don’t know. What you know now might be limited or even delusional. To know what you don’t know, you need to be reconnected to your loved one(s).
Our struggle comes in many different shapes. Some of them are expected while others are not. No matter what the nature of our hardship, it might not be gone away until we are reconnected to the Lord… until we are aware of our unawareness on his presence -the Son of God who is the truth and whose spirit is not far away.
Maybe the secular literatures obliviously imagine an entity of the truth which they are uncertain of what or who it would be. But we know for sure WHO is the truth – the Messiah, the Son of God.
Does God film us?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I know a person who works as a film editor in Hollywood. His company makes a TV show and his job is to gather all the films, put them in order, and sort out all the major parts of the show. Then the next editor cuts out some detail that doesn’t fit with the theme of the show. Then another editor, who is on a higher level and more experienced, puts together the films that can actually be aired on TV. Finally, the last few people, who are the cinematographer and sound editor, bring the best-fitted sights and sounds. My friend usually works all hours of the night dealing with the raw footage for the next editors.
Hearing what He does makes me think and wonder about how our lives is like that edited film. There are different levels of progressions in our life’s journey. Some parts should be taken out because they are unnecessary for our spiritual walk on earth. Other pieces need to be taken care of in detail. Our personality, character, and the ways we build our relationships with others might be elaborated to fit into the ones that God designs for us. Then there is a time where the Lord shines on what we do and on who we are in order to show His great works to the world.
The important factor is that our lives don’t just sequentially move the same way as making a film. We could be in the last process, but then might have to go back to the beginning and stay there for a little while. Our Lord creates each different part of us at different times in order to make us perfect in He plans. Whatever part our lives are in, whether it be editing or cinematography, God orchestrates all the procedures and produces the best show to the world.
What are we missing?
2 Cor. 4:5
5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
While waiting for my departure at the Boston airport, I noticed two teenagers sitting across from me; one was on his headphone set which was connected to his phone and the other was playing a game on his iPad. Then I looked around and observed all the other passengers in a similar pattern. I too was guilty being on my laptop computer. These well-acquainted scenes reminded me of the conversation that I had when in college.
It was in the late 90s and I was searching a website page online at the school computer lab. Then my friend came up to me sarcastically and taunted, “How long have you been digging into the internet today?” Back in those days, the internet was new and not as advanced as it is today, so it was not very popular by today’s standards. People didn’t really stay long on the internet (maybe it had to do something with the dial-up). To those who spent a lot of time online, the word “internet fanatic” often applied.
“But today, no one would ask that kind of question that my friend asked. Why? Because we all are connected online 24/7 through our phones. People’s mind is on the default setting where you are constantly on your phone. There is no such word as “internet fanatic” anymore.
Ernst Troeltsch, a German liberal protestant theologian, created the word “cultural particularity,” to indicate a cultural phenomenon where an individual’s value is evaluated according to a particularly cultural and social reality. In the 90s, being on online for more than a few hours would earn you the title, “having no life.” As opposed to the 90s' norm, if you are not online today, your friends would label you as a “social hermit”. We live on different social values.
The scripture says, “deny yourself” and “carry your own cross”. In the first century, the value of the Christian faith was set on these seemingly rigid religious practices. Following Christ would require your physical persecution or sacrifice. However, if you are now labeled with these two spiritual distinctions, you would be branded as a ‘religious fanatic’ or a ‘religious extremist’. In modern times, we seek for a different value system to evaluate our faith and spiritual level. I would call this ‘spiritual particularity’, in which we are looking for the uniqueness of our faith while devaluing what was known as the essence of our faith.
In this spiritual particularity, we have lost a valuable asset which secures the foundation of our faith – the ‘divine point of view’. The first century Christians believed in their faith based upon God’s point of view and thought about what they needed to do to preach the gospel. Today we tend to see our spiritual journey on how the word of God can make us happier. The differences between these points of views lies upon what you emphasize and which point of view you see in your life.
In this spiritual particularity, we’re blindsided by what we’ve been missing.
Where do we get that spiritual intuition?
“When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say. For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”
In November of 2017, a wooden carving of a Hawaiian god of war, Kukailimoku, was put up for auction for $7.5 million at Christie’s Auction House in Paris. It was created sometime between 1780 and 1891, a period considered the height of the Hawaiian artistic production. The big price tag made international headlines. However, some experts brought up the question on its authenticity of the art. The first person who noticed the possible fraud on the piece was Mark Blackburn who studied Polynesian artifacts for decades. He said that as soon as he saw the statue, he noticed the piece was a copy. The genuine Kukailimoku was of a different size, about 9 to 12 feet tall, and the wood quality had a unique texture reflecting the light in a different color.
People were astonished not only by the million-dollar fake statue, but also Mark’s intuition on the faux pas of the art. How did he recognize right away that the Hawaiian wooden god was not real? Since he had studied and collected the Oceanic pieces for years, his intuition and perception on the art had also been sharpen by his knowledge. They are driven by what effort you put in and by what you like to do.
There were no written scriptures on their master’s teachings, yet. Then, where Jesus’ disciples gain the insight and instruction with which they carried out their ministerial calling and discipled other followers? What were their resources for them to refer to their decision-making?
Apostle Paul had a deeper knowledge on God more than any other religious leaders. He was the Jew of the Jews and the Pharisee of the Pharisees, even though he did not really believe who Jesus really was. And His knowledge on God in the Old Testament functioned efficiently and timely as a major power source to equip him with the intuition on God and the Messiah when being in Christ. That intuition sprouted as the spiritual guidance and insight, so he could write the scriptures and minister to others.
There are many events in our lives where we are not really able to understand and explain how things happen nor how they impact us both in our Christian walk and secular life. We need spiritual guidance and insight to see and determine what has to be done and where we have to head towards. When we study the scripture, even if some of the accounts are unclear, it would come out as a spiritual intuition at the right time, and therefore provide us for what we need to do for our lives and the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus means in verse 12, “At that time, the Holy Spirit will teach you…” “spiritual intuition” which has been developed within you when seeking the Lord in prayer and knowledge.
Find the true happiness in Christ
1 Cor. 7:21
“Were you a slave when you were called? Whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belongs to the Lord.”
Ung-Young Kim is currently an architect in Korea at the age of 56 with a seemingly normal life as a husband and father. People would never have noticed him as the man with the world’s highest IQ-210. At the age of 4, he had already spoken 5 languages. That same year, he enrolled into a high school in Los Angeles and simultaneously studied physics at a college in Korea. Then at the age of 8, he received his master’s degree at the University of Colorado in nuclear physics. After finishing his degree, he started working for NASA. He was then only 9 years old.
He was a child prodigy under the special protection from the U.S. government. His future was set as a successful scientist. But with 6 years at NASA, he gave up on the idea of a flourishing life in the U.S and went back to Korea to start his life all over again. He took the GED to receive his high school diploma and attended a small countryside college.
Much later he said on TED, that being a scientist, or living as a genius kid was not what he wanted to do. He was not HAPPY at all with the title. While other kids were going to elementary schools and playing with each other, he was all alone being surrounded by adults and bodyguards. He did not want to be special. He wanted to be normal. He wanted to be happy.
Ung-Young Kim was now happy with his job as a wood designer in a small town. He finished his talk on Ted with the words “The reason that you feel isolated is that you try to be special. Don’t try to be special. Do what really makes you happy.”
There was another child prodigy, William James Sidis, who began his Harvard University education at age 9 and started to teach on four-dimensional bodies at age 10. But in 10 years he ended up working at a grocery store and died at the age of 46.
Both cases had one thing in common. Being academically brilliant or successful was not their ultimate dream. What they really wanted to do was something else.
Doing what we really want to do would generate the spirit of happiness, because the spirit is owned by our free will. It is ours. The true happiness comes when it is solely our choice.
In Christ, we have a choice. In Christ we have true freedom and joy. When we are slaves to the Lord, we can become free persons. It sounds paradoxical; slave and freeman. But our Lord does not force you to love him. It is your choice. However, when making the right choice, you will find true happiness. You do what you want to do in Christ. Our Lord does not command you to do things you should or shouldn’t do. He will just show you the right things to do as the followers of Christ. But it is in your free will whether or not you do.
Here is the guarantee. When you put yourself in Christ and do what he asks you to do, you will truly find joy. That’s why Paul also says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
Reconcile with yourself
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Last week, I noticed two kids playing outside in the snow right after the snowstorm. The temperature was cold, but soon enough, it gradually turned into warmer weather with the snow melting on the ground. The kids were having a snowball fight but mixed in with the dirt, it ended up being a mudball fight. The kids were covered from head to toe in dirt and mud. Of course, they didn’t care, but were innocently enjoying their fun. After a while, one of the children tried to go inside the house but her mother abruptly said, “Oh no, you don’t want to bring all of that mud and dirt into grandma’s place?” The mother told her kids to wash up and clean themselves off before coming in.
That moment reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Reconcile with your brother or sister,” before coming to the alter. Then somehow in my mind the terms “brother or sister” turns into “yourself.” The scripture was depicted in my mind with “Reconcile with yourself before coming to the altar.” “Clean yourself up before coming to the Lord.”
We know as God’s children we have to love our enemies… love our neighbors… love those who don’t love us. So we make an effort to reconcile with them, forgive them, and love them. Yes. That’s good. We should do that. But… how about ourselves?
Do I really love myself ?
Do I forgive myself?
Do I care not only for who I am now but also who I was in the past?
Do I recognize that I am so unique, so valuable, so precious, so important, because Christ’s blood-shedding was to restore my relationship with him?
Healing first will open a path for you to access God
In this Holy week, you’re the most important person who you need to take care of. Reconcile yourself. Then come to the Lord who hangs on the Cross. He would say to you “I’m up here because of you.”
What season are you in now?
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
The two pictures were taken in the same month, October. The one on the left was in 2017 and the other one on the right was in 2018. What’s the difference? Last year, the first
snow came a month early, on the 4th of October. The cold
temperature lasted for only two days, but the trees had already let go all their leaves during those short winter days without having a chance to turn beautifully into colorful
scenery. During the end months of September and October, I really enjoyed walking from my place to church through the picturesque covered leaves of the town. But just because there were two cold days, the lovely natural environment did not visit us at all. This is the natural law that God created to keep all of nature in order and beautiful.
There are many different seasons in our lives. Each season comes with a different purpose in a different form. There would be a season of having an opportunity to perform our skills or talents. There would be a season of enjoying our family, studying for a diploma, reading or writing a book, playing music, or having a good fortune. There would also be a season of being surrounded by many people. On the contrary, there would be a season of being alone and leaving everything behind. Each one is necessary to make our lives meaningful and beautiful. The Creator brings us those seasons one by one at the right time and right place. Joy and peace could be absent in our lives because we don’t enjoy nor see each season from God’s view. Everything is orchestrated by the Lord. Nothing comes to us arbitrarily.
Wherever you may be now, that is the season that you are supposed to be. Then another beautiful season would visit you soon.
Hold Them in Prayer
Proverbs 20:7 "A righteous man who walks in his integrity, his children are blessed after him."
Last week, the news of the college admissions bribery scandal hit the whole nation. Some well-to-do celebrities have been charged in schemes that allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation's most selective schools. Some other celebrities slammed the parents saying, "it wasn't for love, but for fancy diplomas."
There were similar cases that happened numerous times in Korea, and Japan too. One of the more appalling ones was when the wife of the head of the Cho-Sun Media conglomerate committed suicide in 2016. Media has been one of the most influential companies in South Korea. Her death puzzled the whole nation. Recently, the true reason for her suicide was revealed. She had been abused and threatened with death by her four, grown children. Since her husband had high expectation for his children, his wife had made millions of dollars in illegal donations to a few outstanding colleges in the US to get her children admitted to the schools. Not knowing that his wife was making illicit donations, her husband was suspicious that she was spending the millions for her parents and brothers, and was later furious with her covetous behavior. Her four children were afraid of their dad too, concerned that he would figure out that they cheated on the college entrance exams. The wife's husband physically beat her up everyday trying to make her confess where she had really spent the money. The children tried to silence their mother so she wouldn't reveal the secret by forcibly putting her into a mental hospital. Finally, she couldn't take the family trauma anymore.
What can we learn from this? I would say that we can't conclude that a child becomes an immoral character on their own. How they behave and react toward others and the society to which they belong, reflects what they have constantly seen and heard, as well as how they are treated, by their parents or guardians. Parents' distorted love for children creates distorted characters in a child's mind.
A few years ago at church, I tried to hold my two boys so they would sit quietly during worship, and showed them a reproving look on my face. After worship an elderly lady who was sitting right behind me came to me and said, "Hold them loosely in the physical sense; but, hold them tightly in prayer. They will fly away.. anyway." She is right. The best thing we can do is hold them tight in prayer, not seek after a fancy or fake diploma for them.
The First Step
2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.
In the city of Plymouth, Massachusetts, there lay a rock near the edge of a bay. This renowned rock has been known as the first spot the settlers stepped foot on in 1620. Approximately 102 people sailed across the treacherous Atlantic from England to the Americas for their religious freedom. The known famous Pilgrims (i.e. Puritans) took 66 days on the Mayflower on rough high seas. When upon landing on that infamous shore, they discovered a deserted small Native American village. Facing the harsh cold weather, only 57 people out 102 survived after the first year. Then the chief of the Wampanoag Indian tribe noticed the incessant hunger and death from the settlers. His tribe therefore taught the settlers how to fish and grow corn including sugar maple, which was the origin of today’s pancake condiment, “maple syrup”. So finally in 1622, the first settlers and the Native Americans celebrated together the first successful harvest, known now as the first “Thanksgiving”.
But we have to understand before the Puritans there were other settlers who came from other nations. Spanish explorers came to North America in 1492. Afterwards, the French and Portugal followed.
Then what made the Puritans establish their lives successfully in this new land and lay the foundation for our modern America?
The big differences are the truth that the Portuguese and Spanish came for treasure but the Puritans were searching for their lives in God.
Those whose hearts followed the material success were wielded by their own self-interest and fulfilment, thus not ready to endure all those severe natural conditions. Their hearts and minds were divided and dissented by their self-driven motivation, which failed them to work together and build a nation. However, the Puritan’s desire was deeply pursuing their spiritual wealth and religious liberty, so they could worship God. God is the first, then all those obstacles and challenges became opportunities and possibilities.
John proclaims, “It is well with your soul,” which means that seeking the strength of our faith is the uttermost importance, then everything else would follow by the faith. “Being well with our faith” is not an easy task. Our faith would be tested in fire, challenged by worldly success, or puzzled by a false truth.
We often hear that when things get better, we dedicate ourselves to the Lord. Actually it should be the opposite. We dedicate ourselves to the Lord, then everything would be better.
Telecommunication to the Lord
3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
On December 14, 2018, the first Chinese spacecraft, since 1976, landed on the moon. Only the United States and the Soviet Union had previously created man-made objects to the moon. While the United States have turned most of its attention away from the Moon towards Mars, China has focused on their satellite, aiming to land a human on the lunar surface by 2030. The spacecraft takes hundreds of never-before-seen authentic colors with high definition photos of the lunar surface while transmitting back to the China National Space Administration.
Especially, it is astonishing how that the robotic lander landed on the back of the Moon, which the US and Soviet have never accomplished yet. What made that landing possible was the technology of the tele-communication through which the spacecraft is able to communicate back to earth. It is not a very powerful engine with durable fuel or special landing gears, but a highly advanced transmission equipment that made this historical event.
By saying “Call to me,” Jeremiah stressed on the communication to God. It is uncertain whether he means it as prayer as we do today; however, “call” can be defined evidently as the way to transmit our needs or concerns to the Lord. Then, God will let us know “great and unsearchable things” that we have never known before. Do not try to figure out what the “great and unsearchable things” would be. It is not within our capability to know what they are. Once we set up a better communication to the Lord, it is our Savior’s role to show us what they are. “Call” is the key. “Call” is the one that would lead us to see the secret things.
Happy New Year.... sounds a little late?
I am three weeks late in saying this...the reason why? It is very simple. I have missed three weeks' worth of devotions. I wrote three extra devotions after Christmas; however, I needed to readjust three design elements for the E-newsletter.
(1) Reformatting the E-newsletter
(2) Creating the right graphics to fit into the new format
(3) New format for mobile devices
I spent more than three hours reformatting and recreating the graphics, then writing a devotion.
What is the purpose for the E-newsletter? I know it is for the devotions, not the three design elements. The major purpose of the newsletter is to send out a weekly devotion. I feel like I'm losing the purpose of making the E-blast.
We started this brand-new year three weeks ago. Fifty-three weeks are ahead of us. For this year, I would like us to focus on one major thing; "Knowing more about the Lord."
To pursue our focus, here is what I'm suggesting....
(1) Let's spend three more minutes a day reading the Scripture.
(2) Let's pray three more minutes a day.
(3) Let's read three more Christian books this year.
(4) Let's reach out to three more people who don't know Christ.
(5) Finally, let's be patient three minutes longer in whatever we do.
God's miracle could happen within that time.
Three more...Three more...
I promise to pray for three more people a day. One of the three people could be you. I pray that God would bless us with three more blessings...