Archive for April, 2009

Downs and ups

It was hard seeing people falling asleep 5 minutes into the message today. It threw off my thinking and rhythm. I had insights, but they were brief and disconnected with one another. I have a hard time coming up with examples and analogies, so I usually don’t have any. I just talk about what’s happening in the text. I said something random at the end to try to wrap things up, something about praying for the heart rather than the sin. I really wish that even though I stick closely to what’s in the Word, that they would find something new to grab on to, to give them motivation, strength, encouragement, something to challenge them. I thought of my conversation with a sister yesterday, when she told me about how her pastor tells the congregation, even though the temptation is there to make the sermon more “practical” by making the sermon more about issues they’re dealing with, he will continue to preach the gospel. I know where he’s coming from, but on the other hand, I often feel like I could very much make the sermon more applicable while still staying true to God’s Word. I felt very dissatisfied after I finished.

After lunch we went to get boba with the KM kids. It made me happy seeing a couple of the girls take responsibility for getting the orders and stuff. Earlier, we also had birthday cake for one of the kids, and the girls all worked together to clean up. Too bad the boys are just a bunch of lazy pretty boys. It’s okay, though. I arm-wrestled one of them. It makes for good bonding time. Then we came back to church and started our Bible study on Ephesians. I told Andrew, Austin, and Rachel to pray for me, for the church, for long-term vision. Things are in the back of my mind with regard to church, things I need to work out with my dad in the coming years.

God answers prayers

Whoa, I was looking through my documents folder on my computer and found a list of prayer topics I wrote down on November 11, 2002. I remember typing this, printing it out, and keeping it with me in my “church” binder that I would take every week to worship service and Bible study when I was in junior high and high school. I think the pastor challenged us the day before to write down our prayer requests, pray for them every day, and then see how God answers them. I had three categories of prayer topics: one for family, one for church, and one for myself. It’s so crazy…first, how I still have some of these prayer requests today, 6 1/2 years later, and second, how God has answered some of them. From 13 years old to 20 years old…God is faithful.

Here is my prayer list for personal topics from that sheet, with commentary, haha.

Personal issues

  • That I will become a leader at church, school, and home.

God has definitely taught me over the years how to be a leader. Though I still have many weaknesses and lack confidence in many areas, this is something I can say for sure that God has been answering. It was a baptism by fire in many regards at church. At school, outside of KCM, I hope that people have been willing to look up to me, if not as a leader per se, as someone who is trustworthy and dependable, whether as a friend or companion. And at home, I like to think that I have been a good older brother to Andrew. But that’s for him to say.

  • That I will have many, many friends at school.

In junior high school, I would be very lonely at times. Though no one ever really bullied me or excluded me, I never really felt comfortable around people. I never really had friends in high school. I never hung out with people because all I did was study. But that made it much easier for me to reach out and start fresh in college. I became more outgoing. In the past four years, God has given me so many people I can call true friends, those who are like brothers to me. I am so, so grateful that God has answered this prayer.

  • That I will always be humble.

The issue of humility has never been so real to me since entering college. God has shown me how the root of pretty much all sin is pride, of putting ourselves at the center and forgetting that everything we do comes from God. The Spirit continually reminds me, “Take care lest you forget…lest your heart be lifted up” (Deuteronomy 8:11, 14, 16; ESV). How interesting that this was one of my prayer requests back then. I completely forgot about it!

  • That temptations will not overcome me.

In the past few days, I faced temptations, temptations so undeniably from Satan and the same temptations that I know I was thinking about when I wrote this. I remember one of the Bible verses we had to memorize around this time was 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” For a while, I had forgotten about that verse, but within the past few weeks, that verse has come back to me, still buried within my heart, still memorized. God’s promises are so true! This weekend, I overcame such temptations. One after another, they came, but I resisted and won.

  • That I will make it to Varsity in Cross Country and finish three miles in under 17 minutes.

Haha, I wrote this because our pastor told us to be specific about our prayers. This never came true in high school, but I can say that I’m in better shape now than I was then when I ran cross country.

  • That God will reveal to me my calling in life, my future.

Things are slowly starting to fall in place, although there is still a lot I don’t know as my last semester of college draws to an end. I definitely have no anxiety though. God planned some crazy twists for me, but looking back, I know for sure that it was all part of His good, pleasing, and perfect will for me. God’s Word is true!

  • That I will witness to those around me with a reckless abandon for God.

God has given me a heart and a burden for the lost. Since sophomore year, I have been doing on-campus evangelism with KCM, and I have learned so much about what people believe and why they believe it. To witness with “reckless abandon” was a bold prayer, if maybe a little overconfident and unaware of just how great and difficult the Great Commission is. But God has definitely answered the heart of this prayer.

  • That I will do well academically.

We shall see where God leads me next in terms of grad school, but He has definitely answered this one as well. One thing God has given me in college is perspective. A perspective that makes me both work hard in school but also be content with my efforts, even when I don’t get the results I want. More important than doing well academically has been learning how to manage my time and take care of my responsibilities and duties alongside school.

Perspective is something I definitely need now, with three paper deadlines staring me down, sucking all my time and energy. But the last three papers I need to write for college mean nothing compared to all that God has done in my life over the years. My friend, God answers prayers. Slowly but surely, we pray, God hears. And He answers.

Merely a mouthpiece

I’m truly humbled and amazed at the Holy Spirit’s leading. I lift up tomorrow’s message to God. No matter how many people show up–5, 4, or 3–it is all for the glory of God.

O gracious master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Hallelujah, He Is Risen!

Yesterday (Easter Sunday), we joined the KM for a joint Easter service. It was so nice to have the English translations up with the Korean lyrics to the songs and hymns we sang. One of them, I knew the melody because it was so familiar from childhood. But I never knew exactly what the song was about! So with a few English lines written down, I tracked it down. What an awesome hymn! I felt my heart rejoice as we sang this, as I sang the words and finally understood what it was saying. I’m putting the lyrics here for future reference. I don’t know if we’ll sing it in LEM if we have our own Easter services in the future, but I will try to remember the song.

Hallelujah, He Is Risen!
Written by Philip P. Bliss

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Jesus is gone up on high!
Burst the bars of death asunder,
Angels shout and men reply:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Our exalted Head to be;
Sends the witness of the Spirit
That our advocate is He:
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Death for aye hath lost his sting,
Christ, Himself the Resurrection,
From the grave His own will bring:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.

Good Friday 2009

I joined my dear brother Daniel Kang for worship on Friday at his church’s EM (English Ministry) service. Every time I visit a new church and worship with other humble, God-fearing congregations, I weep. Yesterday was no different. I was overcome by God’s love for me when we sang “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”: “That He should give His only Son / To make a wretch His treasure.” I felt like a wretch, so weak, so insecure. How deep His love for me! Just a few things that stood out to me as Pastor Tim shared the gospel through Isaiah 53:

  • Some lies we tell as Christians:
    • “I’m praying for you” (so true)
    • “I’ll go wherever You want me to”
  • Why does God love you? Really, why does He love you?
  • Jesus was a manly man. Carpenter. Big hands. Haha.
  • It is good that Jesus didn’t fall for a woman. But many women followed him. Godly women will follow godly men. So disciple them like Jesus did…and pick one. Haha!
  • True repentance involves deep sorrow. Back in the day example of people wailing and rolling on the ground because of their sorrow. Nowadays, all repentance is is mumbling “I’m sorry God.”
  • Moving from the back row to the front row does not make you a Christian.
  • Suffering for Christ in the city. Taking the blow as Christ did, despite our ability to defend ourselves.

It’s always good to hear good things more than once

The speaker at KCM Chapel on Sunday mentioned the story of how Christianity came to Korea. It was good to hear the story again of Robert Jermain Thomas, dramatized in his narrative voice. Afterwards, my brother and I were like, “Who’s this Sam Moffett guy? I thought it was Underwood!” We asked our dad, and he said, yeah, Horace Underwood was the first Presbyterian missionary (actually the other Horace, Horace Allen, who was a medical missionary, arrived in Korea a year before Underwood did, in 1884). Underwood founded a Christian college which eventually became today’s Yonsei University in Seoul.

Back in July, I wrote about the beginnings of Christianity in Korea, how I shared it with the congregation during service while covering Romans 10. It’s always good reading old entries. May it bless you, the reader (I wonder who you are), if you haven’t read it yet.

Communion Palm Sunday

Yesterday’s Communion was sweet. It is always an immense blessing and an encouragement to partake of the elements. My brother was finally confirmed, and he was able to join the church in taking the bread and juice. I’m not sure if it’s a presbytery policy or a KAPC-wide regulation, but those who are baptized as infants at our church must be “confirmed” by publicly professing their faith in front of the congregation after the age of 15 before they are able to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

How joyful it is to taste the bread and the juice to know that the love of Christ for me is real just as this food and drink is real. At Grace Presbyterian Church of DC, which I attended summer of 2007, the church had Communion every single week. Every week, 300-400 people would walk down the aisles, tear off a piece of bread from the loaf, and take either a cup of grape juice or wine. I would sit back in the pews as the rest of the congregation continued to come to the front and write out my reflections in my journal. So many times, I was overwhelmed by a sense of God’s grace. One time, I accidentally took the wine and was taken aback by the bitterness of the alcohol. I was telling my brother about how regardless of what drink the church uses, both remind us of the love of Christ. Wine reminds us of the bitterness of the death on the cross which was required to pay the penalty for our sins. Juice reminds us of the sweetness of the redemption his sacrifice secured for us.

One time, our church used the wafers that I think are used in many Catholic churches. It was tasteless and flimsy. We never used it again. We went back to using pound cake cubes (so good!). I also participated in the Lord’s Supper at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in DC, and they used unsalted, bland crackers. I guess it was closer to what the disciples might have eaten, unleavened bread, but it was so meager and stale. I loved eating “real,” fluffy, mouth-watering bread at GraceDC and City Presbyterian Church in Long Beach. Rev. Duke Kwon at GraceDC gave a great sermon on the Lord’s Supper on June 24, 2007. I think it was from this sermon that I heard him tell the people, if you are feeling weak in faith, if you are feeling like you really need God’s grace, take a bigger piece of bread and when you eat it, know that Christ’s love for you is as real and satisfying as that bread is.

We only do Communion two or three times a year. I would love to do it more often, as GraceDC and City Pres do. But it is always a blessing, regardless of how often we do it.

Praise God for using ordinary, humble means to communicate His extraordinary, extravagant grace.