Thank You!

The English Ministry members threw a surprise leaders appreciation event yesterday. It was a wonderful night of  delicious food, ultra creative performances, and some good-natured roasting of the leaders. To all those involved in putting on the night, a big thank you. God has given us an amazing family in SBECC; the night truly touched our hearts.

To our coworkers who have given of their time and of themselves, thank you for your sacrifice  to the church. From small group leading to lesson planning to sitting through two-hour meetings, your service has had eternal impact on the youth of the ministry, and last night was a tangible expression of that fruit.

To all who use your gifts to build up the church without official titles, you are so appreciated. Thank you for faithfully leading us in worship, setting up and tearing down equipment and chairs, clicking slides and making sure the sound works, carrying the trash out, checking up on people in the church, and the many more things that are done so that minstry can happen week in and week out.

Of course we all can grow in the way we love and there will always be more ministry to do, but it has been such an encouragement to serve alongside of you. What an amazing privilege that God uses the church made up of imperfect people to carry out His kingdom purposes. And how amazing are the gifts that He has given to each and every one of the saints to equip the church for ministry work. Videos of the performances to be uploaded soon on my facebook page!

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

 What gifts has God given you to build up the church?

 

Looking for the love of your life??

Since I am a huge fan of Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage (anyone considering being married at any point should read it!) and since the youth of our church love to talk about relationships, I picked up his newer book The Sacred Search. As the name implies, it’s about the process of getting to marriage (which I, for one, am glad I’m done with). The tag line is “What if it’s not about who you marry, but why?” which challenges readers to think first about the why of marriage. If we figure that out, then we’ll more likely make a wiser decision on the who.

All in all, I think it’s a great read. The first eight or so chapters is a bit elementary for one growing up in a conservative Asian church where the dangers of dating and making choices based on infatuations are drilled pretty deeply into our souls. But the second part of the book really is helpful in pointing out what we ought to be looking for (and avoiding) in order to have a God-honoring marriage for the purposes of His kingdom. If your hormones are raging, I would recommend this book.

Here are some quotes that I highlighted:

“There isn’t a person alive who can keep you enthralled for the next five or six decades. If they’re really funny, really attractive, and you’re really infatuated, you can be enthralled for a few years, but selfish people-even wealthy selfish people, or beautiful selfish people, or famous selfish people-eventually get bored with each other, and the very relationship that once gave them security and life feels like prison and death” (pg. 18).

“Mutual attraction is a shakey foundation, because marriage is about growing old together more than it is about being young together. Is this a person for whom age will increase your devotion and respect, or will this person gradually lose what most draws you to them now?” (pg. 98).

“When you’re dating and in love, it’s not that difficult to build and enjoy a relationship. It doesn’t take someone of great character to accompany you to movies and nice restaurants, to go on fun bike rides or hikes or sit in a Starbucks or make out on a couch. Most people can do that” (pg. 117).

“You get to start protecting your kids before they’re even born. Give them a godly mom or dad” (pg. 126).

“Compatibility that matters isn’t about sameness as much as it’s about having the most important things in common, beginning with a shared vision for life. Sincere appreciation and genuine respect for your future spouse matter far more than similarity.” (pg. 157)

Do you believe there’s the one out there for you? Or is that a concept that’s been shaped more by our society than by Scripture?

Help

The sisters of our church threw a brother’s appreciation night this past weekend. The theme was “Heros” and the encouragement was for us to be strong and courageous in the Lord  (Joshua 1:6). A big thanks for all the work and love that was put into that night, it was amazing! It made me think a bit about strength, and what it means to be strong in the Lord. It’s a very different picture than what this world paints as being strong.

It’s a bit ironic that those of us who spend our lives helping others find it so hard to seek out help ourselves. We make the worst patients, most of us refusing to go to the doctors until we absolutely have to. We probably won’t admit it, but I suspect most of us see neediness as a weakness. It is weak to have to ask for help, because that is acknowledging that we can’t do life by ourselves.

Society tells us that we need to be strong in ourselves, that weakness is bad. If we aren’t careful, we might think the Bible teaches that too. We might point to the example of Paul. 2 Corinthians 11 gives us just a taste of what Paul endured and triumphed over: shipwrecks, beatings, prison, even stoning! Yet his words in 2 Corinthians 12:10 is shocking to our western sensibilitiies: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God gave Paul an affliction to remind him that it’s only in his weakness that he experiences God’s strength.

It shouldn’t surprise us that those who have learned to depend on themselves find it difficult to feel close to God. It’s the old problem of our pride, wanting to be our own God rather than to surrender to our creator. It isn’t until we come to the end of ourselves, understand our inability to save ourselves, that we can truly experience the power of God in our lives. The medical journey is hard, and we might think we are being humble by not complaining and plowing through. That’s actually our pride, and Satan is pleased by that.

It is a huge tragedy that depression and substance abuse in the health profession is more common than we would like to admit, and much of this is related to our inability to put to death our pride and call out for help. It is not weak to need others. It certainly is not weak to need God. We were created to live in relationship with both. When we try to fight against that, we can get into deep trouble. Is there a burden in your life that you need help carrying? Let’s lay aside our pride so that we can really embrace and experience life as it was intended.

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Boo to Sickness Part 2!

Ugh..achy joints, I hardly want to move. Actually it’s not from being sick anymore, I’m feeling much better. It’s from picking up tennis for the first time in almost a year. I had stopped after throwing out my back when I got a bit over-zealous in trying to relive my glory days. I really thought I herniated a disc, but it was just a bad strain. I have then high schooler Jefferey Chen to thank for that.

Earlier this week a friend who’s in town asked to play, and after playing just two days with him, I can barely lift up my right arm. I did beat him though, so I guess there’s something left. Nevermind that he just graduated the 8th grade, victories are victories.

I guess when we don’t consistently use the muscles, movements that were once second nature can become so hard and painful. Part of me wishes I can just coast off of past accomplishments and training when I was younger and expect to perform at the same level without putting in the due effort. But unfortunately, my body just continues to break down as the years tick by.

I think spiritually we can fall into this trap as well, thinking we can ride the energy and growth of our years soon after conversion. For many, college is that time when one’s faith and passion really takes off being around so many other believers seemingly “on fire” for the Lord. Unfortunately there is a falling out after graduation when people are out of that environment.

We can’t rely on the past to maintain a vital, fresh relationship with God today. Let’s go back to the basics, exercising our faith muscles daily through the spiritual disciplines. And let’s make sure to be balanced, giving attention to all the different aspects of our spiritual life, whether taking in the Word, prayer, evaneglism, fellowship, and worship to name a few. Otherwise we might end up like this guy.

Which spiritual discipline would you like to see more of in your life?

Boo to Sickness!

Body aches, feeling tired, headache, ugh…I think I caught something over the past week. It’s no fun being sick. It’s crazy how destroyed we get by a simple cold. This is going to be a short post since I’m having a hard time concentrating. Whenever I get sick, I’m always think of this passage:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

It’s a nice reminder that we are not just purely physical creatures, that we do depend on God for our very breath. And we can do our best to stay in shape and eat healthy, but ultimately true health comes from walking in relationship with God according to His commands.

 

Walking by Faith

I spent some time this past Monday night with a group of pre-meds/pre-health students up in Redlands as part of the METS summer student project. This is a month long  program that teaches pre-health students how to integrate their faith with a career in medicine. I attended the program the summer after my 1st year of medical school, which I can’t believe was 8 years ago. If you are in medicine and  have wondered how to include your faith in the care of your patients, they are a great resource to check out.

This year they had a special week-long program for students still in college and I was invited to speak about my experiences. I got to share my testminony of how I ended up playing doctor and pastor, studying in seminary and writing the book. It was just a great time to be around students whose hearts are open to God’s leading. I hope what I shared was helpful in stirring up some prayerful thought about their future career goals.

This definitely was a stepping out of my comfort zone experience for me, and with the book near publishing, it’s exciting to think about future opportunties to share what God has put on my heart. But it’s also really scary since it’s totally out of my element, and sometimes I wonder if I’m out of my mind. But then a song we sang during the retreat came to mind about walking by faith, inspired by Matthew 14:22-36, the account of Peter walking on water. It was a reminder that as long as it is Jesus who we are following, we don’t have to be afraid even if we are treading on unfamiliar ground.

Here’s the song!

http://youtu.be/-8mZpGj29qw

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

What is God calling you to step out in faith in?

Church Retreat Recap!

Our church just spent an amazing 4th of July weekend together up in Cedar Lake Camp in Big Bear. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated this holiday than to worship freely with the church body. Highlights of the retreat for me:

  • Great talks from Pastor Steve Jin.
  • Competitions in our first annual Kairo Olympics: Only our church can make shoe flipping and cookie eating this intense. Also, don’t mess with Eudora in an eating contest.
  • Getting to know better those who came for the first time.
  • Playing Bible heads-up with worship songs.
  • Campfire sharing: One of the most honest, raw, and powerful times of sharing I have experienced. Thank you for all who shared so openly.

Aside from all the fun, I was reminded by our speaker that all that we do has to come back to God’s ultimate purpose for this world to come to know and glorify Him (God’s world order), and Jesus’ unique, compassionate love for us that prompted Him to step down from majesty to die in our place. I was challenged to reflect on all the different aspects of my life and to ask myself if I am living for God’s purposes and if I am motivated by God’s love for the lost in every area, whether it is my family, church, work, or recreational life.

Pastor Steve reminded us that to be Christ-like is not just to read our Bible, pray, or to do any of the other disciplines. To be Christ-like starts with having a heart that Jesus has for the lost. Jesus is the only access to God, and we as His followers, are to point others to Jesus, the way, truth, and the life. Just as I care about those who do not have access to physical health because of a lack of insurance or being under-insured, I am to have a greater concern for those without access to true spiritual health.

Thanks be to God for all the ways He worked this weekend. I pray that we will continue to reflect on what we learned so that it will transfer from our heads to our hearts and not be snatched way. Thanks to all those who helped to make the retreat possible and for all who came.

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:9-10

How did God speak to you during the retreat?