Archive for January, 2009

A popular quote, with no credit

“A woman should be so lost in God that a man has to seek Him in order to find her.”

Have you seen this quote floating around the Internet? I’ve seen it a lot. No one seems to know where it originally comes from. I’ve seen a couple people’s names attached to it, but I was never able to find it on an official website or published book.

Only a couple minutes on Google, and I see there are several versions out there: “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man has to seek Him in order to find her.” And then I was browsing through the Desiring God blog, and it looks like one author has changed it for a younger audience: “A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek God to find her!” But finally, a name! Dannah Gresh. I haven’t confirmed it yet, but it looks like she does conferences and retreats for young girls across the US, so it was probably something shared there.

Advertisements

Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words

Jesus plus anything ruins everything. That can be Jesus plus homeschooling, Jesus plus Republican, Jesus plus anything. Jesus plus spiritual experience, Jesus plus worship format or style. We have freedom, and God is gracious. But Jesus plus anything for justification ruins everything. It’s Jesus plus nothing.

– Mark Driscoll, at a seminar at Desiring God Conference 2008.

Driscoll is funny and witty, satirically mocking today’s culture, but he also has very powerful words to say. When he screams, “Hypocrites!”   multiple times in reading Jesus’ words in Matthew (21:17)…it’s hard not to be seared. He talks about the challenges he and his church face in the least churched city in America. I won’t give it away. It’s at 64:00 to 68:30. It is powerfully sobering. And the way he closes the seminar; the air is heavy.

Go your way till the end

Here’s the message I gave yesterday. It was our last service together as one group, before splitting into Korean and English services. It was nice to hear Michael say “KM succession,” (meaning the success of the KM as we separate) during prayer request time. We are all optimistic and hopeful. I sat at the ice rink on Saturday with my dying laptop as the kids skated and struggled with Daniel 11 and 12. After half an hour I was finding much I could talk about. Thank you Holy Spirit. I literally worked on this to the last minute, printing it out at 11:05 or so and hurrying off to church, starting a little late and feeling a bit rushed.

The fire analogy came from my experience in Mexico two weeks ago, which, by the way, was really, really good. It was hard to start the fire in the mornings with the dew-covered wood and tinder. Once the fire got going, it was best to use the bigger pieces of wood, which would last longer. I spent Friday night writing out my thoughts and reflections for my supporters. Let me know if you’d like to read it.

January 18, 2009
Daniel 11:29–12:13
“Go your way”

If you don’t know already, today is the last service we will have together before we split into Korean and English-speaking services for Living Exodus Ministry. We have two chapters left in Daniel, and I thought it would be nice to finish Daniel today since it is our last service before the change. I will be praying for both sides of Living Exodus, and I hope that you guys will do the same. So here are a couple of parting words before we finish Daniel.

For the Korean side, I hope that in a couple years, all of you will grow up and become more spiritually mature and responsible. It wasn’t long ago that I was in the same spot as you were, in junior high and high school with many older people around me to teach me, help me, and encourage me. Now, it is my turn to pour into you and to do my best to lead you in the faith. I hope that what you have learned and what you will learn in the next few years will give you a solid foundation. I hope that you will be able to move on from spiritual milk and be able to feed on solid spiritual food. You guys aren’t babies anymore physically, so I hope that your knowledge of the gospel and of the truth will grow according to your age. Don’t stay spiritual babies.

For the English side, I look forward to continuing to serve you, though I am weak and ill-equipped at times. I hope that the change will bring about an excitement in you to bring your friends to this church and to share the gospel with them. With that excitement, though, there should be a somber time of reflection. Think about your life. How does it match up with the kind of Christian life encouraged in the Scriptures? Do you strive after God day by day, to walk in His ways and to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? Can a fire stay strong just by feeding it tinder and brush? No, you have to feed it big, thick pieces of wood that burn for a long time. In order for our church to grow, we need to have strong Christians to lead and to serve faithfully, no matter how hard it gets. People will come and go, but we need to stay committed. So join with me. I hope to see your love for Ye Kwang Church grow. But that will only be possible as you learn more and more about how much God loves the church and how much God loves you.

So everyone, be encouraged as we finish Daniel today. May God bless the teaching of His Word today.

Daniel Ch. 11 is a very long chapter, and though all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, I wanted to skip some of it to get to the main point. If some of you are interested in history, then it will be exciting for you to read the prophecies of Daniel and how they match up with events that took place in the Ancient Near East less than 200 years after they were written. But to keep it short, and also because I have not done too much research into it, we will start from 11:29. Commentators agree that almost everything that Daniel prophesies in chapter 11 comes true in the 400-year period between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT. It talks about kings from Persia and kings of Greece, the king of the south and the king of the north. It talks about the conquest of Egypt, wars, and revolts. These prophecies are fulfilled in the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires. After Alexander the Great’s death in 332 BC, the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt while the Seleucid dynasty ruled a vast region which included Persia. There was a major battle between the king of the south, Ptolemy IV Philopator and the king of the north (11:11), Antiochus III the Great occurred in 217 BC. Verse 21 mentions the rise of another ruler, who does the horrible things that we read about today starting in verse 29. His name was Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes.

Antiochus Epiphanes called himself Theos Epiphanes, which means God Manifest. He outlawed Judaism in his empire and ordered Jews to worship Zeus as the supreme God. He sacked Jerusalem and persecuted the Jews fiercely. He sacrificed a pig in the temple, as a sign of blasphemy. So Antiochus Epiphanes is the fulfillment of much of Daniel’s prophecy here. When we read Daniel 12, we should keep in mind that first and foremost, this was a prophecy about Israel. When the angel tells Daniel, “your people shall be delivered,” it means Israel. But the Church, which comes after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the new Israel. No longer is God’s people merely a specific race, but the Church is God’s chosen people.

Because the Church is the new Israel, we know that we can apply these words to the Church. When it refers to Israel, it refers also to the Church. When it refers to Daniel, it refers also to us. Commentators note that not everything perfectly matches up to Antiochus Epiphanes, like the prophecy of the last days of the king of the south’s rule and his death. Many believe that this prophecy is still to be fulfilled in the last days of history. So today’s passage isn’t just a history lesson. It applies to us today. What can we learn from it?

The first thing that we should remember is that in a sense, we are not supposed to understand these prophecies. What does the messenger of God say in verses 4 and 9? “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.” Even Daniel did not understand the words he received. Look at verse 8: “I heard, but I did not understand.” We don’t have to figure all the prophecies out like some Christians try to do by reading the news. Verse 4 says that many will run to and fro, and knowledge will increase, and the wicked will continue to act wickedly (10). There will always be evil in this world, and the Church will face persecution and trials just like the Jews did throughout all of history, under Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, Hitler, and Stalin. The Bible already tells us this. Look at verse 1: “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” There will always be wars and rumors of wars. There will be untold suffering and death and pain in this world. This is nothing new. One day wars will come to an end, when Jesus returns. But we don’t know the exact time of the end, just like Daniel did not, in verse 6: “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” But we do know what we should do until then: persevere.

Though there will be persecution and trials for God’s people, we know what the end outcome will be. Look again at verse 1: “But at that time your people shall be delivered.” Verse 7: “All these things will be finished when the shattering of the holy people comes to an end.” In the last days, the enemies of the Church shall perish and receive judgment. Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire, along with all his followers. The Church will be free from persecution.

Full understanding of all these things will come to the wise, verse 10. And who are the wise? The ones who purify themselves and make themselves white and become refined (10). Is 1:18, Ps 51:7. Christ takes away the sins of the world: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).

Be encouraged in your walks with God. If you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, he will never let you go. He will always be at your side until that final day, whether we die and be with the Lord or whether Christ returns. What does the angel tell Daniel to do? Both the NIV and ESV have the same translation: “Go your way till the end,” verse 9 and 13. Go your way till the end. Go, and persevere. Go, and live your lives for the Lord. Go, and serve him all the days of your life. Go, trust and lean on God with all your understanding. Go, and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Go your way till the end.

What is the final word from the angel? “And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days” (13). Persevere, be courageous, endure until the end, for then you shall rest. God has provided a place for us in the heavenly places. Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we have been cursed with unrest. The curse on Adam, and therefore on all men, was to sweat and toil in the fields in order to eat off of it. The curse on Eve, and therefore on all women, was to have pains in childbirth. Ever since the Fall, we have no rest. We work and strain ourselves to survive: to please our parents, to make a name for ourselves, to feel accepted. We have broken relationships, we have angry and bitter hearts, we feel lost and alone, and we feel like we have no purpose or meaning in our lives. But our rest is in Christ: “For we who have believed have entered that rest (Heb 4:3). Matt 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So go your way. Find rest in Christ. Though the world may hate you and forsake you, God promises us eternal life in Christ. Go your way until the end.

“Lost in Wonder”

I’ve had the privilege of introducing this song to USC KCM. Back when Tim Hughes and Matt Redman and the Soul Survivor crew were more popular, I used to visit the site WorshipTogether.com often. The site used to have free sheet music frequently, and one of the songs was “Lost in Wonder.” I downloaded it even though I had never heard the song before. I didn’t have an MP3 of it on my computer and never heard it played at any church. So I read the sheet music and played it on the piano. It had a simple melody but powerful lyrics, especially the short pre-chorus sections. I looked the chords, realized it was a super easy song on guitar, and started playing it at church. So I’ve been singing it for quite a while now.  Someone nice put it up on YouTube to listen to. If you’d like the song, let me know. It’s an unknown gem.

“Lost in Wonder” by Martyn Layzell

You chose the cross with every breath
The perfect life, the perfect death
You chose the cross
A crown of thorns you wore for us
And crowned us with eternal life
You chose the cross

And though your soul was overwhelmed with pain
Obedient to death You overcame

I’m lost in wonder
I’m lost in love
I’m lost in praise forevermore
Because of Jesus’ unfailing love
I am forgiven
I am restored

You loosed the chords of sinfulness
And broke the chains of my disgrace
You chose the cross
Up from the grave victorious
You rose again so glorious
You chose the cross

The sorrow that surrounded you was mine
“Yet not my will but yours be done” You cried

On a side note, I’m surprised that the visual design and layout of WorshipTogether.com haven’t changed at all since 5 years ago. Seems the blokes in Australia (Hillsong and United) have become far more popular than the Brits.

More changes

There’s a feedback effect involved in writing regularly in a blog. I feel like I must update because I’ve been updating, and I don’t want the last post to linger as though my life has been static since that point. So here’s what’s been happening at YKC.

After the frustrating past few weeks we’ve had at church, my family made a joint decision, since we pretty much have staff meetings at home about church, to have separate services for the Korean and English speakers of LEM, starting January 25. My mom, dad, and brother are all hopeful for the change, not seeing it as a detriment to unity but an opportunity for growth. My dad wants me and Andrew to start a Bible study so that we can have discipleship and steady growth. I’ve grown to the idea as well. Even though I’m always tired after service and lunch and never feel like hanging out with the group (and they don’t either), I’m excited for us to sit down and read the Bible and discuss issues. I feel like that will be a better opportunity for us to open up to one another. I don’t know where to start, what books to use, or how I will prepare, but I want to do it.  I think I will have us read through the Bible in one year. I think many of them don’t read the Bible on their own and aren’t familiar with much of it. My brother even wants to go evangelize around town and get more people to come to our church. He’s more willing to do it now because, in his frank words, the fobs aren’t there to “weigh us down.”

I wasn’t too enamored with the thought at first, because the rift is already bad as it is, but my parents think it is wise to leave the kids alone. Also, one of their dads, who is a pastor, will be leading their service, so he will be able to see their behavior. Maybe then, he will see how much they need to grow up. But will he do anything about it?

So much for change

Church pretty much sucked today. Computer problems made it very, very frustrating to prepare for the message on Daniel 9:20-27. Both my laptop and desktop were being really retarded. I didn’t have anything by the time I went to bed. It’s a very confusing passage. So we listened to Iain Duguid for the first time. I learned a lot, but the kids probably didn’t learn anything because they never learn anything. The kids were lifeless during worship, but I only looked up twice because I knew what I would see. So I stuck to playing guitar and singing and forgot about the rest of them. They didn’t share any significant prayer requests until I prodded them and stood waiting for a full minute, and then only one guy said anything.  I told them to pray for my mission trip to Mexico starting tomorrow, and little 10-year-old Daniel waved his hand in front of his face as the signal for “smelly.” You’re kidding me, I thought. I really wanted to pick him up and throw him across the room. Some other kid said something too about Mexicans, but I don’t remember. I was really angry inside, and Grace, Andrew, and I were pretty exasperated after the end of service.

It’s really frustrating, and I’ve never felt so defeated as I felt today. I felt no shame in not wanting to talk to the fobs at all. We talked about how we hated how pampered they were and how we had no power to discipline them because their parents would get mad at us. We resented their parents not doing anything about them, especially being pastors’ families.

Please pray for me and our team in Mexico. I’m still mad, frustrated, depressed, grieved, and distressed at our church. It’s so great to be around solid believers in KCM. I really need that fellowship to give me strength to serve. Because honestly, I’d prefer not to deal with it. But who else is there to do it?

Somber New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve at church was far from festive. Our attempt at playing yootnohlee brought the dysfunctional out of some of us. A stray comment from one of the boys brought disapproval from both me and my brother. “What’d you just say?” we asked. My brother told him to do pushups. He refused. Smart-alec responses provoked him to extreme anger. I didn’t intervene, but honestly I wanted to hit and yell at the kid too for being a little punk. At the same time, I thought, does my brother still think that yelling at them like a drill sergeant will earn him their respect? They really ought to grow up and respect their leaders, but how respectable are we?

So we were gathered in that tiny room while my mom had to say a few words. I thought of what I could say, because I knew this was an opportunity from God to address issues I had never had the chance to talk about. It never felt right addressing behavior issues from the “pulpit.” So I gave my lecture, stern but unable to get angry and loud. I spent the rest of the night, including the midnight service, thinking about whether I was like that because I loved them and had no temptation at all to yell out of selfish anger or because I was afraid of confrontation and too weak to discipline with force. It was an insecurity deep in my heart. What kind of father would I be with my children? When I see all their sin, how will I react? How will I confront them and set them straight? I was afraid I would be too gentle and in the end, that is not loving, if they continue on the wide road.

What a sad and somber time of reflection it was as I sat in the pew. I thought of how pitiful Living Exodus Ministry was. I have no long-term vision for the church. I am a poor shepherd. When I listened to Grace and Andrew tell me about the retreats they were at this week, I felt so inferior. I am not a passionate, fervent, exciting, challenging speaker. My sermons are weak and don’t connect with the kids. I don’t keep them accountable. I don’t encourage them during the week. No jubo, no retreats, no prayer, no broken hearts, no changed lives. I don’t know what to do about it. I feel so helpless. I just want someone else to do it, and I would support them with all my strength. Where I am, there is much burden.

I am far from the man I want to be. Oh, helper and friend, I long to meet you and get to know you despite my lack of confidence and my feebleness. To share and confide, to love and cherish, to nurture and protect. I have much to learn. This anguish is much more real than any New Year’s resolution I can make. Through all of it, I am thanking God for breaking me.