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?

Sermon Feedback/Discusson – Reasons to Rejoice

Hi Church family! Here’s a recap of the sermon on Sunday. I encourage you to read through the passage again, there’s some great truths and reasons for us to rejoice. As always, feel free to let me know your feedback or how you interacted with the sermon!

Reasons to Rejoice

Romans 5:1-11

We can rejoice because of:

1. What God has done for us in the past: We are justified through the blood of Christ. As a result, we have peace with God and stand in grace.  (v1-2a, 11)

2. What God will do for us in the future: We will be glorified with God when God’s glory is fully revealed. (v2b, 9-10)

3. What God is doing for us now: We are being sanctified, perfected through the trials of our lives. (v3-4)

  • We can rejoice in our sufferings because it matures us and strengthens our hope in God.
  • Our hope in God is sure because it is based on God’s unfailing love. (v5)
  • We can be sure of God’s unfailing love because of
    • The subjective, continued ministry of the Holy Spirit, reminding us of God’s love and our adoption as His children (v5, 8:16);
    • The objective, historical ministry of Jesus Christ, demonstrating God’s amazing and unique love that He would pay the ultimate cost (His Son) to redeem a most undeserving people (v6-8)

Applications:

  • Be reminded of our future glory as we go through present difficulties knowing that God who took care of the eternal can take care of our day to day struggles.
  • God can use all trials, big or small, to reveal areas of growth in our lives, so be prayerful as we go through even inconveniences or disappointments to see how God can refine our character.
  • Rejoice!

For those who couldn’t make it today, we miss you! In a couple of days, the sermon podcast should be uploaded here. Have a great week!

Does God Grade on a Curve?

If you don’t know, I am currently in my second semester at Talbot seminary. It’s been really interesting being back in school again. I finished medical school about four years ago so it has been awhile since I’ve had to do classroom-type work.

It has been an adjustment getting back into school mode again. And seminary definitely is a different kind of training. There’s a lot more reading, writing papers and my least favorite, class participation (Actually my least least favorite is role playing. Thankfully we haven’t had much of that yet). But I really, really dislike class participation. I rather memorize tons of obscure facts.

And the grading is different too. Throughout medical school we actually didn’t have grades. Some traditional med schools still give out letter grades, but most have adopted a pass/fail system where if you get above a certain percentage, then you pass. If you don’t, you fail and you have to retake the test, or sometimes retake the class.

Some schools have a grading-on-a-curve type system and award the top 10-15% an honors grade. But basically, once you get into medical school, almost everyone eventually finishes. There’s a joke, “What do you call a medical student who graduates at the bottom of their class? A doctor.” That’s comforting, right?

It’s interesting that in Talbot, they not only have letter grades, but the grading scale is much higher than I’ve seen anywhere else. In one of my classes, an A is a 94, and that’s an A minus. I’m glad that I’m doing this more for my own growth and for the benefit of the church, or else the Asian part of me would be giving me stomach ulcers.

We are going through Romans at my church, and the passage I just preached on yesterday (Romans 2:1-16) reminded me that God has an even more demanding grading system. It is pass or fail, except it’s more like you pass only if you get everything right. There will be a day of judgment where God judges our works,and I think many hold on to the hope that if I do more good than bad, then I’ll make it to heaven.

But Paul reminds us that God’s standard is not “good enough,” or “better than most.” God doesn’t grade on a curve. On the day of judgment, everyone will fall short of God’s perfect standard, no matter how much good we have done. Before a perfect and holy God, even one sin is enough to condemn us to eternal punishment in hell.

But the good news of the Gospel, and why Paul is eager to preach this message to all, is that while there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, God has revealed a righteousness, a way to be made right with God in Christ that is through faith. In God’s love, mercy, and grace, He sent His son Jesus to live a perfect life in our place, satisfying the requirements of God’s law, and died on the cross in our place, taking on the punishment for our sins.

Through faith in Christ, we have perfect obedience and forgiveness of sins, restoring our relationship with God. Judgment will be by our works, and all will be condemned. But salvation is by faith, praise be to God!

How good is good enough to get into heaven if we can be saved by our works?

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

If you missed the sermon this past Sunday, feel free to download the podcast here! If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the sermon, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Sermon Feedback/Discussion – Easter Service

Hi church!

Here’s a quick recap of my Easter sermon:

Jesus’ resurrection makes the Gospel good news. It gives credibility to all that He taught, and all that He promised. It shows that He is the Son of God and has authority to forgive sins and offer eternal life.

But why is the Gospel good news?

The Problem

We were all created to be in union with God, and living in union with God, He directs and aligns all our human capacities so we are the people we are supposed to be as God’s image bearers.

But because of sin, we are separated from the relational presence of God in our lives. As a result:

  • All our God-given capacities become corrupted (total depravity).
  • We become enslaved to idols (entertainment, job, relationships, drugs, etc) to fulfill needs only God can fill.
  • We bear God’s wrath, destined for eternal punishment in hell.

The Human Solution – Luke 15:11-32

We have tried to deal with the problem of sin apart from God in two main ways:

  1. Embracing our sinfulness by going the way of the younger son, indulging in all our sins.
  2. Living in obedience and doing good like the older brother to alleviate temporarily our guilt and shame, trying to earn our way into heaven.

Neither deals with the fundamental problem of our sins that separates us from God. We have sinned against a holy God, and the consequence is death (Romans 6:23).

The God Solution

God provided a way through His Son Jesus, who died to take the punishment of sin in our place. In Christ all my sins are put onto Him and all of Jesus’ perfect obedience is given to me so it’s as if I have obeyed perfectly all of God’s commands.

The Prodigal God*

This parable is known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. Prodigal means lavish, extravagant. The parable can also be called the Prodigal God. God is lavish in His love for us. Instead of His wrath, in Christ we are invited into God’s kingdom as His children instead. That’s the good news of the Gospel!

How have you dealt with the problem of sin apart from Jesus? If you are a Christian, have you trusted completely in the finished work of Christ on the cross, or are you still trying to earn salvation with good works?

I hope you were encouraged by the sermon. As always, please feel free to leave any feedback or how you interacted with the sermon. If you missed it, you can download the podcast in a few days.

SBECC Kairo English Ministry Podcast

*A lot of insights are from a sermon I heard by Tim Keller which later turned into a book

Sermon Feedback/Discussion – Discipleship Living in Action

Hi church family!

Again I would like to invite you to interact with the sermon this past Sunday as well as give you an opportunity to provide feedback or ask questions. I would even love to just hear how you were challenged by the sermon. If you would like the written transcript, message me and I can send it to you.

Note that if you leave a comment, it will be visible to anyone who visits so if you want to share something just with me, go ahead an email me at jacktsai@unfailingspring.com. I really want to hear from you!

Sermon Recap: Luke 16:1-13 Discipleship Living in Action

Disciples of Christ have an allegiance solely to Christ and live for kingdom purposes.

Jesus gives an example of this type of single-minded living in the parable of the shrewd manager.

The manager is commended for acting shrewdly in giving discounts to his master’s debtors, at the cost of his master.

Jesus is commending not the immoral action, but the manager’s mindset. The manager knows judgment is coming and so he does everything he can to maximize his future well-being with the remaining time and influence he has as the manager.

In the same way, judgment is coming for all and we will have to give an account for all that we have been given. Jesus’ exhortation here is that we would spend our remaining time, using to the max all that we have been given, in such a way to further God’s kingdom plan, ensuring our entrance into heaven.

Application: We are to use our worldly wealth*, our abilities, and our influence strategically and intentionally to further God’s kingdom.

*Note: The passage is mostly about how we handle worldly wealth, and in particular carrying out God’s heart by using wealth for the service of those less fortunate. Since we have talked a lot about our use of money in previous sermons, I focused more on the application of using our abilities and influence to maximize God’s kingdom.

If you missed the sermon (we missed you!) and would like to listen to it, you can look it up on our podcast below for free. It is usually uploaded within a few days.

SBECC Kairo English Ministry Podcast

Sermon Feedback/Discussion – 3 C’s of Discipleship

Hi church family!

A lot of times after I give a sermon, I’m not sure how it is received. I never really hear how the sermon impacts your lives. I want to interact with you all more about my sermons so I thought maybe I would give this a try. If you have any questions, comments, or any kind of feedback, please leave me a message and we can start a dialogue! Hopefully this will help me to connect better with where you are all at, to know how to pray for you, and to improve on future sermons. If you would like the written transcript, message me and I can send it to you.

Note that if you leave a comment, it will be visible to anyone who visits so if you want to share something just with me, go ahead an email me at jacktsai@unfailingspring.com. I really want to hear from you!

Just a quick summary of today’s points: Luke 14:25-35, The Three C’s of Discipleship with Jesus

1. The call to discipleship is universal: All believers are called to be disciples of Christ and to make disciples of Christ.

2. The cost of discipleship is all-encompassing: Jesus demands not just our outward allegiances (to parents, friends, spouse, children, etc), but also our inward allegiance to ourselves (deny ourselves, our dreams and ambitions)

3. The commitment to discipleship is life-long: Discipleship is not just a one-time decision, but a life-style change and a faithfulness until the end.

Application:

1. We need to bring the whole message: When we share the Gospel, we share the blessings and also the costs involved.

2. We need to be in it for the long haul: Maturing in Christ is a process that happens through relationships and over the span of years.

I hope you were challenged and blessed. I pray that all of us, including myself, will continue to hold fast to Christ and grow in our love for God and others.

If you missed the sermon (we missed you!) and would like to listen to it, you can look it up on our podcast below for free. It is usually uploaded within a few days.

SBECC Kairo English Ministry Podcast