Archive for January, 2008

Lord’s Day 1/27/08

I found out late last night that our pastor, Ariel, was sick and wasn’t going to be able to make it to church today. So the English ministry (EM), only 9 of us today, joined the Korean ministry (KM) for their service. Since the entire service was in Korean, I couldn’t understand too much of what was going on. I do wish I can improve my Korean. My hesitation to use Korean with the recent immigrants in the EM has helped me to understand their similar hesitation to use English with me. It’s funny–sometimes the dominant language of the English ministry during lunchtime is Korean.

So during the sermon, I opened to 1 Corinthians 6 and started skimming because I thought that’s what the sermon was on. I don’t think it was. But I saw something that caught my eye, so I kept reading the passage. 6:1-8 regards Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church about disputes and grievances among believers. Many will know this as the place where Christians are told not to get involved in lawsuits with one another. In other words, Christians should not sue one another and let disputes be resolved in court, outside the confines of the church body, instead practicing discipline within the confines of the church. It’s interesting how Paul asks rhetorical questions to help the Church understand the basis for his exhortation. Out of 12 sentences in the ESV translation, 8 end with question marks. While I found the overall argument convicting, I was most struck by two short but pointed questions, wedged in the middle of the last two verses:

7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! — 1 Corinthians 6:7-8 (emphasis mine)

These questions cut me to the heart (cf. Acts 2:37). I realized that, as a Christian, I am called to endure wrongdoing from others, both believers and unbelievers. Does this mean that I am supposed to be spineless and weak, unable to hold my own ground and stand up to people who try to take advantage of me? Not necessarily. This is something I need much wisdom for. But I would ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to pause when someone hurts us in some way. It can be as impersonal as someone cutting you off while you drive or as personal as someone slandering you and spreading damaging and untrue rumors about you. It is our natural instinct to justify our angry and bitter reactions by saying, “Look what they did to me!” But we are called to more than this. We are called to be meek and to be long-suffering. I chose these two specific words intentionally.

The first is “meek.” I have in mind Colossians 3:12-13: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (ESV). Didn’t “meek” mean being weak and timid? I looked up “meek” in the dictionary a few months ago and found the definition eye-opening. Merriam-Webster had three definitions. The second and third had to do with the common understanding of the word as standing for weakness. But the first definition said this: “Enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” It really stuck with me.

The second is “long-suffering.” The King James translation of the famous verse 1 Corinthians 14:3 (“Love is patient, love is kind.”) says, “Love suffers long.” That’s where we get the old word “long-suffering.” Here’s M-W again: “Patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Very similar to “meek.”

I hope these definitions have broadened this particular aspect of Christian love for others. What is the basis for this kind of behavior? The example of Christ. Here was the perfect example of meekness, the sinless son of God, put to death for sins he did not commit–beaten, insulted, mocked, and shamed. “As a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, ESV). If we meditate on the meekness of Christ, we will be overcome with conviction over all the ways we do not follow his example. We are called to so much more as Christians than we realize. Let us understand that the Law is made even more unattainable because of Christ’s example (eye for an eye has become turning the other cheek), but then let us also realize how great it is that Christ fulfilled the Law for us. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

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It’s been 10 days since I started this blog

According to WordPress stats, no one has read this blog. I did register some page views, but I think they were all from me. I started this new blog not intending to replace my Xanga but to write to two different audiences. My Xanga is written for a larger audience, one that is not necessarily Christian. Although I may mention God or faith or include reflections that have been at the core deeply religious (but “tamed” for a general audience), I do not write thoughts about the Church, reflections and meditations on Scripture, or instances of God reminding me about certain things (cf. the title of this blog). That is what this blog is for. The only place where I’ve linked to this blog is on my Facebook profile. Since I limited my profile to be only visible to friends, and because a large number of my friends on Facebook are Christians (some of whom I see regularly), it is my hope that they will find their way here and be edified by what I have to write here. I do not write for recognition and attention and won’t stop writing just because the stats show no one has read my posts. I do hope though that at least one person will read through what I have written and benefit from my reflection and observation. I write frequently in my private journal and hope that some of it will make it onto this blog. In “Christian-speak,” I want to be a blessing to others.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. — Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

LEM

My family…

LEM Winter Retreat 2008 LEM New Year’s Eve 2007

It was windy outside in the first picture, so my eyes are closed. At least they weren’t halfway closed, so that I look like a zombie, hehe. Between the two pictures, I think that’s everyone, with the addition of a few guests.

Unrest

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I had many dreams. One of them, the last one before waking up at 7 am, was one that left me feeling really uneasy and burdened. I’m not sure what caused the dream, as the subject matter has not been in my conscience lately. The feeling I had when I woke up was a conviction of how I had forgotten about the suffering of others. I don’t know how to describe it…it was a very heavy feeling, like I had done something wrong. I felt bad for getting caught up in my own day to day concerns. It’s so easy—so easy to forget that there are millions of people who live in fear. Fear of being taken advantage of. Fear of vulnerability and insecurity. Fear of death. As I tried to write down my thoughts, I already found it hard to describe my emotions. The weight of my convictions were being eroded by thoughts of my long day ahead and the burdens of school. The lighthearted and comparatively carefree concerns of my peers further diluted the weight of this reminder. What I do remember is how I felt so small in the midst of all this evil. There was not much I could do in my dream for the people I wanted to help. I was pursued and I felt trapped, hard pressed on every side, and flustered by opposition. The only thing I could do was ask God with a heavy hearted resignation to do something, to have mercy on those suffering ones (and on me, powerless to help them), and to forgive me for my callousness. Come, Lord Jesus, come soon (Revelation 22:20).

Psalm 112:1,7

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
–Psalm 112:1,7 (ESV)

I read verse 7 of Psalm 112 today, and it struck me despite its simplicity. I put in verse 1 for context. The man who fears the Lord is not afraid of bad news. His heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. This verse struck me because I have found myself in recent days praying contritely not only for God’s mercy and providence (i.e. blessing) but for resolve and peace during hardships. I have been constantly reminded of how good I have it in America, having grown up in a largely crime-free suburban area with a vibrant and supportive Korean-American community, having parents and a brother who care and love for me deeply. Even as a college student in South Los Angeles, my only hassles are having the power in the house go out whenever the microwave and hair dryer are on at the same time (but having plenty of freezer space for all the food I could possibly want), worrying about my bike getting stolen (but having money to buy another one if it disappears), and having the cats leave muddy footprints on my car (but having a well-functioning car and my own parking spot). It would be foolish of me to lament any hardship I endure and blame God for being unfair. God has indeed been unfair: He has given me so much when I deserved nothing.

Last Friday, I went parkour training on campus. I had my keys and student ID with me. I decided to take them out of the pockets of my running shorts and leave them in the soil area around SOS while I did stuff at that building and around Leavey. After spending some time around Trojan Grounds, I came back to retrieve my things and found that they were gone. I was concerned but not very panicked for some reason. I had a orientation and training session for my new internship I needed to attend in two hours; I still needed to take a shower and eat lunch. Without my keys I couldn’t unlock my bike, which I had ridden to campus, so I would have to walk back to my house, not to mention I couldn’t drive my car to work. I ran over to the DPS office and asked if anyone had turned in a set of keys and ID. Nope. The DPS officer told me to check Topping Student Center. Nope. I wasn’t yet ready to accept the possibility that someone took my stuff with malicious intent. I walked home, not knowing exactly what to do.

I got a call from my mom within minutes of getting home. She asked me if I was okay and if I had found my keys. I was like…how did you know I lost my keys? She said someone from the history department had called her and told her someone had turned in my belongings. She was scared that something bad had happened to me; I, on the other hand, was amazed that the lady who received my things looked me up in the system and left a message on my cell phone and also called my mom at home to let her know. I hitched a ride back to campus with my roommate (so glad at least one of my roommates was in the house so I could check my cell phone; school still hadn’t started yet) and picked up my stuff.

I realize I’ve written quite a bit just to tell a short story. The only thing I want to note to end is that the Holy Spirit has kept me peaceful in the midst of uncertainty. The few days before today, the first day of the spring semester, my prayers have included the uncomfortable realization that my busier schedule may result in sleep deprivation, less opportunity for people interaction, and stress (“bad news”). But after I humbly concede the real possibility of not-so-good circumstances ahead to God, I rest content, knowing that whatever happens is not in vain (“his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord”).