Friday, December 29, 2006

memoirs of an invisible man

Babel is fallen.

Crumbled into a heap of rubble by the hand of the Almighty. For a time we may mourn the passing of our dreams and aspirations, but it's necessary that Babel die. God will tolerate no competition for our hearts. It is impossible to attempt to make a name for ourselves while calling ourselves His disciples.

Missions. Something so close to God's heart. But because it is not God Himself, it is susceptible to idolization. Missions and ministry was my Babel, made in my own image and for my own glory. And God must act in order to bring total chaos and confusion into my life so that I come down from Babel, and so that I will turn my eyes upon Jesus once again. Once Babel is out of the picture there's nothing obscurring the view.

The call of God now is not into the mission field, but into the Church. Go to church ... for real this time. Love the church ... for real this time. For so long it was my workplace, a place of struggle and strife. I liked the feeling of doing something for God, but I despised the instituion itself. I secretly resented how I was being used like a comodity.

All that's gotta change. Time for a great exchange. Learning to feel what life is like on the other side, as a member, a recipient. How hard it will be to give up control, to shut my mouth and not take charge, not make a comment or give an answer or show them how it's done. To follow and not lead, to listen and not speak, to submit and obey. To be in the church and not outside, above or beyond the church. To be one of the sheep again, for the first time.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Horses of War

Sure, wild stallions can have a function. Let them loose and watch them fly. They jump and spin and flail about, running faster than the wind. They’ll kick with brutal force. You might even be able to mount one for a few seconds and it might even take you somewhere towards your desired destination before it throws you off. It’s got zeal, passion, energy.

But a horse who has gone through the trials of time and testing; now he’s another creature altogether. Hours upon hours, days upon days of exercise and drill in order break him. You tame him, yet he is not weakened. You make him submit and obey. Then, that horse becomes still … disciplined. He goes where his rider wishes. He will run swiftly towards an oncoming lance and never flinch, he will leap over a cliff to certain death if commanded to. He becomes a horse of war; a truly useful beast. He will last for the long haul and be faithful companion.

It's true that passion without purpose is pointless. And that purpose must be that which lay on the horizon and not what is two steps in front of you. To fulfill the purpose that lay on the horizon one must focus his passions. At times focussing one's passions looks like anything but passion. In the movie Higher Learning, with Ice Cube (heh), the two most racist and most passionate guys in the movie (the bosses) were the one's who held back, they were calm and reserved through most of the movie while the "wild stallions" were out causing trouble like petty thugs. They controlled their zeal and did not unleash it too early. They let it sit, slowly boiling, slowly festering. It's not until the very end where you see how serious those bosses really were.

Missions that matter are long term missions. Going far and going long means digging your roots deep. It means building relationships and solid foundations of support. I need to be reminded that whlie I may seem zealous for missions, it's God who's heart is boiling over and deeply grieving over the lost. He is the passionate one. Instead of flailing around making splashes in the sea, all I need to do is ride the wave of God's passion and do what I see the Father doing.

to infinity and beyond.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Babelling out from the centre of the world

New word,

to Babel: verb, meaning to build up one's own Empire and seek self-actualization. To grasp at whatever is necessary to make a name for oneself.

Is it possible to Babel about ministry? I think so. It's so subtle and insidious. Imagine making plans to build up the kingdom of God, to do this and that for God, go here and there for God, while all along God is no where to be found in the whole equation. How difficult that must be to catch.

Perhaps I see that in myself and my zeal to be a missionary. "Missions, the final frontier. These are the voyages of Dennis Oh. His continuing mission to seek out new tribes and languages ... to boldy go where no one has gone before!!"

I am such a nerd.

Am I doing nothing more than grasping at means to become significant in my own eyes and the eyes of others? Am I truly driven by love for God? and how could I know for sure, if the heart is truly deceptive and wicked above all things? The only upshot is that the Apostle Paul is not too concerned with our inferior motives when it comes to preaching the gospel; to him the mission is more important than our lousy reasons for getting there.

but I think I'm entitled to ask, nonetheless.

See, it's all too easy to love the world or the things of the world. It's easy for ministry and missions to fall into that nasty 3rd category: the pride of life. Ministry can become our identity, our price tag that determines our market value in the world. It can become our source of security, status or income.

But where's God? We've displaced Him with the very things of His own kingdom, like worshipping the creation and not the Creator. That's a scary thought.

May Christ Himself be my life mission, the goal, the very point of existence. He's not the thing we settle for or the means to an end. He is the end, just as He was the beginning.

O Christ,
Be the Centre of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the Centre of our lives

Friday, November 17, 2006

Theology: the toy everyone has

Theology is ubiquitous. Everyone has one whether they like it or not. It's funny that theology is so often relegated to some anti-spiritual, academic exercise. But even the super-spiritual have a dogma that they will defend with everything they have, just like the scholastics. They may even be more dogmatic than scholars are on certain issues.

What exactly is theology of the academic variety? Well, chiefly, it is a theology rooted in the Bible, such that undocumented and unscriptural phenomena are considered secondary data. Academians also spent inordinate amounts of time and effort hearing one another's views and attempt to trace the development of doctrine down the centuries; they evaluate it in light of the available Biblical data. Seems responsible so far.

Theology of the super-spiritual kind? Well, seems like it's based on one's own experiences, intuitions, feelings. That doesn't mean that it's wrong, just not as objective. There's no need to confirm it with through others or read what others say about it - I experienced it, and that's all that matters. If God revealed it directly, who is anyone to scrutinize it? History? no need, God is doing a "new thing". Here's the rub: when experiential theology drifts off the path, how does it get back one? How does one even know that it got off to begin with.

The beauty of academic theology is that it is always done in community. Sure, theological debates are often heated and pointless and seem like anything but community-oriented. But such feedback from the theological community and saints through the ages is invaluable in preserving sound doctrine. But when 'theologians' come by claiming, "God is doing something new!" or "God directly revealed such and such to me .." what are we to say in response to that. This kind of theology operates within its own subjective framework and everyone goes with the flow until there's a desire to return to the Word. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm not against charismatics, I wish the church was more 'charismatic' in many ways. I just don't see the propriety of dismissing academic theology in favour of an experiential one; or viewing it as somehow unspiritual.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Anatomy of Lust

What is lust and why is it sin?

Technically lust is defined as an intense desire for something or someone. How is one to measure the degree of desire and at what point does a desire become intense enough to be labelled sin?

First, desires require an object. It is impossible to desire nothingness. This is the basic inconsistency with Buddhism in its purest sense. Desires will always exist and they are fixed upon an object. Whether it is a woman, a car, a job, a status or a Tag Heuer watch, people desire objects. That object must be a specific person or thing, whether they are before your eyes, or on the pages of a magazine. One of the Ten Commandments is "You shall not covet your neighbours' house, wife, possessions ..." Inherit in this covetousness is desire for something.

Second, God commands "do not love the world or anything in the world" (1 John). What did he mean? Shall we not love our families, puppies, Christmas dinners and the budding flowers in spring. Answer: No, we shouldn't. Not if the love of these things are an end in themselves. Any love and desire for anything that does not ultimately leads us to a love and desire for the glory of God is sin. Sin is when we exchange the glory of God for ANYTHING else - however warm and fuzzy it might be.

Third, the lusting after a person occurs when your desire is turned towards yourself. If you are attracted to someone or something, praise God - you're normal. When you appreciate physical beauty or charming characteristics, praise God - He's a creative and wonderful God. But as soon as desire does not translate to love for God or the others, the only person left to receive the benefits is yourself. We are commanded, "Love the Lord and love one another." The sin of Adam and Eve was a sin of lust: a lust for nourshment, independence and power. Everyone who ever committed the sin of lust thought of how they might take and use that object for their own personal gain.

Fourth, lust is adultery. In the sexual sense, the lust that is conceived in the mind of man is fully evident before the eyes of God. You think it, you did it. Spiritually, lust is adultery of the idolatrous kind. Adultery is unfaithfulness and a prostituting of oneself to someone to whom you are not joined. Lust diminishes the supremacy of God, casting Him momentarily aside.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

simple impetus

As I grow older and wiser, I want my life to become simpler and more straight forward.
When I think of my impetus for wanting to go overseas for missionary work, there's a simple thing I have in mind.

What is the thing that drives me to the nations? The glory of Jesus Christ. I live for that day when people from every tribe and nation fall before the Lamb in worship. Those who do not worship will, at least, be forced to confess the Lordship of Christ.

Until then, there is one thing as our responsibility: preaching the gospel to the farthest ends of the earth. Let us get one thing certain: there is absolutely no possibility of salvation outside faith in Jesus Christ, and there is absolutely no way for people to believe except by the preaching of the gospel, and there is absolutely no way to preach unless you, or I, or better yet both of us, go.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

There I was standing in front of you the entire time
and you never took notice, did you?
You never realized that for some people revelation of oneself is a rather big step
It doesn't come to naturally for all
Only for the one in love

But you look at me with wooden lenses
Your feet sunken in cement shoes to approach me
Your mouth gnaws molasses to speak
An arduous chore it seems to lift your gaze

If only you would explode out of your passivity
and ravish me till I am near dead
that, at least would satisfy

but as all good things come to an end
the heart grows colder

the silence envelops the sound

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

quick thought #3

Thomas Acquinas (they call him a "Saint") was known to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times and in all places ... use words if necessary."

are you kidding me?


Paul (they call him a "Saint" too) once said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Words of Christ." There is no gospel that is preached without words. The gospel will forever be the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, conveyed in the foolishness of preaching WORDS. You cannot believe propositional truths that are not ultimately conveyed using words.

Don't confuse good works and kind acts as synonymous with the Gospel.

quick thought #2

We have this tendency to venerate people from the past. Augustine, Thomas Acquinas, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards.

Snoopy was once writing a book entitled, "Did it ever occur to you that you might be wrong?"

Smart pup.

Sure, those guys were godly men and contributed to the Church in amazing ways. But they were fallen sinners like you and me. It's very likely that they were wrong on some point. I, for one, am convinced that Owen was wrong about limited atonement.

but I could be wrong.

quick thought #1

The words of Scripture take priority over the historical context for which, or in which, it was written. Consider this:

1. The words of Scripture are objective, the historical context is subjective
2. The words of Scripture are completely known, the historical situation cannot be entirely known
3. The words of Scripture are ultimately penned by the Holy Spirit to the first reader, but also ultimately canonized by the Holy Spirit for us.

Every word of Scripture is for the Church, even if it deals with animal sacrifices, head coverings, or holy kisses. It is there to teach us something. Anytime we use historical context to make the text say the opposite of what it seems to be teaching , beware.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Radiance vs. The Veil

After Moses met God, his face shone with brilliant radiance - and he did not know it. The radiance was the latent presence of God. It was the residue and after effect of being in communion with God. He had been with God and it showed. But when he came down from the mountain, the people feared the radiance and were reluctant to approach him. Hence, Moses veiled his face when he spoke to the people God's commands and unveiled it when he spoke with God in the tent.

Moses had the after glow of God's presence, and the people were taken aback instead of being drawn towards it. They did not understand the radiance. It was a hindrance and distraction to them. It made them afraid.

However, when Moses was in the tent with God, that veil came off. There was no need of it. In the tent, the veil became the hindrance and the distraction. Moses' own face resonated with God's presence. Moses felt at home.

Moses hated that veil. That veil was the veil of compromise. He wore for it for the people's sake - because they did not welcome the radiance. Just like the veil in the temple that hid God's presence from the people, the Most Holy from the holy. It was erected for the people's sake.

Interesting that when God came down and revealed His Glory and Name to Moses, that entire narrative is encased in law and commands such that there is hardly a separation between God's presence and God's law. So often we only want the presence of God, the experiences and feelings, but we do not want His law. Sheesh.

Sometimes the commands of God are simply not welcome. Preachers are responsible to be faithful in communicating the text of Scripture, but the people will not accept it. So, it is sadly veiled. Compromised. The people don't want to hear that God's hates divorce, that fornication is wrong, that Jesus is the only Way, so these truths get veiled and the glow loses its brilliance. But just remember, that veil is not the way it ought to be.

This week in class I'll be preaching on 1 Tim 2:11-12 (women are to be silent and may not teach or have authority over men in the church). Yeah, yeah, yeah, no one wants to hear this one. After my exegesis on the passage, I wish I could come to a different conclusion than the one I came to. The temptation to bastardize the text and preach the exact opposite is great, but then I will not have preached God's word faithfully and will have wasted everyone's time including my own. But my reflection on the "veil" confirms that it's time for the veil to come off. It's time to be judged by the Word of God instead of running away from It.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What's in a name?

What did Moses and God do on that mountain that day? Remember, it was the closest that Moses had ever come to God. It was their most intimate encounter. Maybe it didn't last very long. But during those moments, what did God want to reveal to Moses?

Two things: First, His glory. Second, His Name. The LORD the LORD, the Compassionate and Gracious God, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Love and Faithfulness, Maintaining Love to Thousands and Forgiving Wickedness, Rebellion and Sin.

To truly know someone means to know their name.

God even reassures that Moses that He is pleased with Him because He knows him by name (Ex. 33:17).

God and Moses were friends. They spoke to each other face to face. They beheld each other's form. They experienced hardship together. They knew each other's name.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First Things First

When Jesus Christ calls a man, he does not first call him to "do" but to "be with" (Mark 3:13-14). We are called to be with him FIRST and to do something for him SECOND. He calls us to relationship, not task. Why? Because he is both the source and the purpose for whatever task we might perform.

The task is important, but without the person it means nothing. Martha cared only for the task which is why Jesus sighed her name. Mary chose what was better, or rather, she rightly discerned what was first in priority - Jesus.

The two must be balanced, but first things first. There comes a time when we gotta get the task done. Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days. He could have easily spent another 40, but God commanded to go down and minister to the people who were corrupting themselves.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Road of Life is long and complicated.
Along the way you meet people travelling a common path for a fraction of the journey
You share a story or two, a couple of laughs and a few drinks
They are your company for a while
And soon they are gone
You can't hold them back from pursuing their course
After all you have your own route to follow
You just say, "This is where we go our separate ways"
and bid each other "God speed"
and that's that.
Others will come along

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cleft for Me

"Show me Your glory!" says Moses. Of course God doesn't show him right away. It's not so simple. If Moses truly beholds the full form of God, he'll vaporize. But there is a way and there is a place for Moses to be where he can behold God's glory: in the cleft of the rock.

How big was that space in the rock where Moses waited for God's glory to pass by? Indulge me to suggest that the cleft was small ... Just enough space for Moses. A cleft that God had nicely carved over the centuries through erosion and sand storms, preparing it for Moses to someday sit and wait for the encounter he'd never forget.

In this place he saw God closer than all the other encounters. The smoke, the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, these were only emanations. Only within the rock did Moses behold the substance of God in all His glory. In this place Moses' face shone with its greatest brilliance; the glow would henceforth fade.

This was the highlight of Moses' life. The negotiation to spare the lives of the idol worshipping Israelites down the mountain had just occurred before this, and Moses was successful. But even persuading the Almighty was not the height of Moses' career. In light of this encounter, leading Israel out of Egypt was immaterial.

God's glory is the chief end of man. To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. That is the point.

But where is the cleft of the rock for me? My space where I will find and experience God in His fullest?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Those who are elected unto salvation do not become un-elected
Those who are justified by faith do not be un-justified
Those found in Christ are never lost in Christ
No one can snatch them out of His hand

Eternal covenants are never broken
They never go assunder
They ought never go assunder

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Who am I ...
Who are we?
From the foundation of the world, before time began its circuit around the cosmic clock
We were imagined in the mind of God
Formed from the infinite recesses of His counsel


Chosen to be loved
Chosen to be saved
Chosen to be found in Christ
Planned beforehand to be plucked out of the darkness, the sewage

Did I have anything to offer Him?
Is there something found in me that deems me worthy?
Shall I not receive my just desserts and be cast into outer darkness, gnashing my teeth with the horde?

No. So, why?

nice try.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

perfect scars

Your form is glorious perfection embodied
Divine substance and flesh merged into one
Without separation or mixture
No other can be my representative
No one else can understand me more
and have the power to transform me from my deathly state

forever will your perfect form bear the scars
that you bore on the cross
forever will your brow be poked with holes
forever will your back be gashed by bone
forever will your hands and feet have a see-through spot

but even so


Perhaps one day our scars will no longer be memories of pain
maybe we'll show them off one day
maybe they too will be glorious and perfect.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I get older, but wonder if I've grown more mature.
On this journey called life, you look back and realize that you haven't gone very far
Though you've gone to many places, seen different things and met different people
There still remains that lingering void of dissatisfaction.
My head has grown bigger
My heart has shrunken and grown harder
Still so many things I have not done
Accolades I do not have
Never had a job, driver's license, girlfriend
Been a student my whole life. Been given a timetable and told where to stand.
This is the year of major life transition. Pivot point. The compass may point anywhere.
Major decisions to be made that will affect the course of my entire life.

Whoa Whoa Whoa ... take it easy man. It's just life. A breath.

Wait on the Lord
Be strong and take courage
And wait on the Lord.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Public Displays of Affection. Why do people do it? Why do couple kiss and hug while riding on the escalator, while one step down is we common folk who come up close to the action? Is the only time that people are together when they are in public, in full view of everyone?

Are they trying to make us jealous? Are they exhibitionists? I mean, let's admit it. Some of things people do in the park, on the train, at the movies are pretty "PG-13", know what I mean?

I suppose one of the benefits of being in a relationship is just that. You have the right to rub it in everyone's face. PDAs are a boundary marker that sets people off and creates exclusivity from the rest of society. It says, "This person is MINE."

I think this is something that God does too. Remember Jesus' baptism when the heavens rented open and the Father said to the people, "This is my BELOVED SON." Remember when He rescued Israel out of Egypt with an OUT STRETCHED arm, a column of fire and cloud, so that all the nations could see and melt with fear as they saw how God favoured the children of Israel.

Perhaps there's something to be said about loving someone, and not only showing them privately, but publicly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

rudder of the soul

It is the mind that is the rudder of the soul. What you think affects what you feel.

A pastor gave this illustration...

It's 3 am in the morning, you're alone in a large house out in the 'boonies', in the dead of night - no one around. Suddenly you hear a creeking in the floor outside your room. You think, *INTRUDER!* and the adrenaline starts pumping; you're full of fear.

Another scenario:

It's 3 pm in the afternoon, you're alone in large house, but outside is the hustle and bustle of cars and schoolkids. Suddenly you hear a creeking the floor. You think *MR. JONES' STUPID CAT LOOKING FOR FOOD AGAIN*. All is well.

Emotions and feelings come and go.
If we were to wait for them to activate, we might never get anything done.
If we love someone only when the feelings are present, we'll hate them first thing in the morning, or after a sleepless night, or when sick in bed.
If we worship only when the feelings are present, then we're telling God that he's not worthy of praise about 85% of the time.

It is truth and commitment, which are held together by the mind that matters.
Perhaps love is nurtured after all.
Perhaps worship songs need to be sung with passion, not because passion is there, but because God deserves passion.

Monday, July 24, 2006

i take no notice
you count the hairs on my head
you rouse when one falls to the ground
it's just a hair
you take notice

you watch me sleep
count my breaths
your eyes brighten as mine break open
you hold your breath
you watch me wake

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Who loves most?

A: "Honey, today is our anniversary, so I bought you these flowers because it is my duty."
B: "Honey, today is our anniversary, so I bought you these flowers because I thought you'd like it."
C: "Honey, today is our anniversary, so I bought you these flowers because nothing brings ME more pleasure than making you happy."

(adapted from John Piper's Desiring God)

B is good, but C is better. Why?
In B, the beloved delights in the gift, for it is something she likes. But in C, the beloved delights in the gift, AND in the joy of the lover. Because he delighted in making her happy, the love feels that much more intense.

Have we idealised love so that it has become so fixated upon the other person so as not to be concerned about the self at all?

Augustine proposed that the Trinity is the relationship between the Lover, the Beloved and the Love that flows between them.

Love, when given away, returns as joy a hundred fold. Miserable love is not so much the kind that is not returned, but the kind that's not even received. Sappy Korean movies have this concept of miserable love, for example, "because I love you, I cannot be with you." This kind of love has the guise of sacrificial love, but is a miserable love lacking joy.

Love and joy go hand in hand.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I pictured myself as the godliest person I could ever be
Then I compared him to me
Wasn't happy with what I found
Because I saw that I was far from sound
What's one thing that irked my soul?
That I had rode on much, paid not the toll
All the tunes and all the vids
Stowed away in my digital lids
Along with sermons and Bible stuff
To break the dissidence, I've had enough
So while I'm still far from sound
Those sounds and those files won't be around
I can strike one more thing from my endless list
And search again for the things I've missed.

psalm of lament

There is always something more I can give to You
I can sing sweeter to You, play better for You,
shout louder, jump higher, raise my hands longer, bow lower, cry harder
And it would never come close to reflecting Your worth
It would be as touching the tattered edge of Your sandal
Much less serving the train of Your robe

In my fallenness am I forever bound
Bound to the fear of others, my clouded vision, my unbelief
I would pour oil unto Your altar,
only to regret it and sweep it back into my jar.
I've heard of one who would sacrifice his son to You
because he knew You and trusted You
Could I do the same?

In You I live and move and breathe
In Christ I have everything I need
Yet in worshipping You, in feelings do I lean.
And reflect Your praise only on things that I have seen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The dictionary of Male-Female dynamics (men's addition)

An attempt to define what we know yet do not know how to express.
Because there's nothing unspiritual about being honest about what makes us tick.
Because being human is a good thing.

Chemistry: the dynamic state achieved between two people whereby the parties involved are comfortable, both with themselves and each with other, yet a force of attraction and curosity causes each to probe subtley into one another's psyche, and they love what they find.

Attraction (for guys): an irrational, instantaneous sensation stimulated by the presence and sight of a beautiful female form; further stimulated by hope or confidence that the female will respond positively and alluringly to his advances.

The Levels of Beauty from the male perspective:

1. Fugly - When a male perceives that few or no attractive genes have been inherited from the parental generation; visually repulsive. Men, beware of slander and mocking.

2. Homely - When certain key traits in the female form are considered abnormal or unshapely causing the overall figure to seem less than pleasing visually.

3. Average - A figure that evokes neither repugnance nor a second glace; having features that are plain or subtle; personality may have a great influence on possible attraction. Figure will tend to be either scrawny or slightly chubby.

4. Cute - Face is symmetrical and inviting, projecting a babyish roundness and innocence. Figure is shapely with no obvious extremes in appendage size; a type of figure evoking a hug-response. An unreasonable personality can often be written off with these looks. Men, beware of manipulation.

5. Pretty - Face and figure is symmetrical, shapely and healthy-looking; almost always warrants a second glance and apprepriation. Attention has been given to ensure that features are well groomed and evoke slight arousal. Unacceptable personality is very often insignificant in light of these looks.

6. Hot - Female possesses classically attractive features and has taken great pains to highlight her features (namely, the face, breasts, butt and legs) with external beauty products and erotic clothing. Her attempts, however, do have profound pay offs. Men, beware of lust.

7. Beautiful - the highest and most rare level of beauty. These females exhibit an external attractiveness, but also deep inner glow or 'presence'. Expression of godliness and character is essential and inseparable from the superficial display; both work in harmony and synergistically to enhance the other's traits. Men, find her!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gimme a dose of reality

You gotta be real.
I think a lot of times Christians, especially Chrisitian leaders, avoid revealing their weaknesses and neediness. They're especially careful to convey an invulnerability before those who would be their subordinates in the ministry, their mentorees, etc. Here are possible reasons: 1. they wouldn't want those under them to feel insecure about them as leaders; 2. they wouldn't want those under them to stumble and fall into a state of greater weakness; 3. they want to prove to them they are more mature as Christians, and by living a victorious Christian life, they have earned the right to impart wisdom upon the younger generation.

There are probably a whole list of possible reasons or combinations of the above. The point is, weakness is bad - don't let people see. It might give them a bad impression of God's powerful and sanctifying work.

Being in Bible school for a couple of years now, I realize how really weak people are. They go through the same struggles that 'ordinary' Christians face, yet they are not allowed to reveal it, lest they jeopardise the flock. Rather, they use carefully chosen words to convey an invulerability that they do not necessarily possess, but always point to some ideal that is not necessarily attainable.

When my former pastor was just beginning his ministry in our church, he asked us, "what would you want or expect of me?" I responded, "I want to know that you are one of us, struggling through life and not afraid to let it show." Well, I guess he turned out to be Mr. Perfect after all, cause I never saw a the release valve open even once to let out some reality of genuine human struggle. Thus, he always remained far ahead of the game. Sure, we respected him greatly, but always as someone we could never be like.

I see something a little different of Jesus. He even once lamented that he had no place to lay his head. He even wept, in public, in order to identify with the sorrow of his friends - even though he knew he was about to completely change the atmosphere of the funeral into a time of joyous celebration.

Does anyone actually think that the clergy are superheroes, walking 3 feet above the ground and hears God's voice audibly, every 5 minutes or so? Please.

Show me a man who isn't going through hardship and toil and isn't honestly lamenting about it, and I'll show you a man who's putting on a mask - a fake.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

missions futures and the cross of christ

When you're away from the comforts of home for long enough, where you are starts to become home. I had been in Singapore for a year and a half before returning to Canada for my friend's wedding. For a little while that trip had felt like travelling to a foreign country. But soon, you realize how really comfortable it is to be home. The people speak like you and think like you; they've had similar experiences and share common dreams. Sometimes I struggle to remember what it is was that made me leave Canada so hastily to come here - even having the thoughts of not returning home.

After the first bout of bringing up my plans for missions and not receiving a positive response like I had hoped for, I packed up and moved on to Singapore, to a better launch pad where I felt I might have people behind me. On visiting Canada again, I realized that the mircocosm that I had originally left is not the norm for all 2nd Gen Koreans. There are more people like me - I'm not so unique afterall; I'm no trailblazer. There are churches who are zealous for foreign missionary work. There was no reason to write off Canada as being spiritually dormant on such issues.

There seem to be two main factors that influence my philosophy of ministry:
1. Where is there a lack of emphasis or workers in that particular field of need?
- I want to build and work on parts of our wall that people have forgotten and try to avoid.

2. Where are the places that are most Christ-starved?
- I want to climb someone else's wall and see that wall come down.

And so, ahead of me is a year of seeking the Lord and cataloging and 'red-tagging' my own selfish interests. But one thing came clear to me this morning ...

The cross was never and will never be something that we want to do. The joy and the bliss of the cross lay in its finished and final accomplishment, not in the mournful journey up the mountain, nor the nails that pierce the hands - no, that will always suck. When God bids us bear that cross, he bids us wear something we don't want to wear, do something we don't want to do. He bids us lose our logic and reasoning, to reject what is most comfortable and painless. We will always have issues with the cross our Lord wants us to bear. Lest we forget Gethsemane. As far as what could been seen on earth, there was nothing glorious about the cross or the journey up that mountain. The glory of the cross lay in some celestial space in heaven, silent to the ears and eyes of mortals. It was for that joy that Jesus was aiming and scorned the shame of the cross, but while we're on that path up the mountain, we're not expected to like it, we're just expected to do it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Oh, to starve again

When are people hungry?
... when they're starving

When do people seek company?
... when they are lonely

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Why am I not reading the Bible as much these days since I'm in Bible School?
Why am I not praying as fervently as when I was in the mission field, on the army camp?

The answer is poverty. Starvation. Loneliness.

These things drive a man to his knees in prayer, they keep him up late reading his Bible when he is sleep deprived, they make him sensitive to the tiniest hint of sin in his heart, so that he can be quick to confess and repent.

Being here in Bible school, there is a feast before me, and I am being force fed. What a way to get rid of your appetite. Around me is Christianity in all its various forms. The intrigue for God as the undiscovered country has vanished from the horizon. I think I know it all. I think I've arrived. This is when I need to stop and realize: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the starved, the lonely. As long as we feel satisfied we will be complacent. If you do not feel need, you will not long, you will not pursue and lay hold of.

I need to be swept away by uncontrollable waters. I need to feel hunger again, sorrow again, loneliness again. Only after everything was taken away did Job first pray and worship.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


They say that opposites attract, and that you should try to find a life partner that is very different from you. The problem with that is you first need to know yourself. Who am I, and what am I like? It can be a little confusing looking inward and analysing your qualities to see where you fit in the great personality scheme. I find that around certain people I behave in certain ways. This is probably normal for most people, but it makes it harder to figure out the real me. There's also the question of: who do I want to be?

Sometimes I'm slow and easy going, like to be alone and melancholic. Other times I like being the centre of attention, the sanguine storyteller and jokester. Sometimes I just follow along with the plans of everyone else, other times I want to take charge and lead aggressively. Sometimes I'm attracted to those quiet ones, whose aura is one of peace and calm; other times I'm drawn to outspoken vivacious ones with a fiery personality.

Picture the ideal You. What do you see? I'm 26, which means my personality has almost hardened to what it will remain for the rest of my life. Now is the time to make those changes, if there are any to make. What kind of guy do I want to be when I'm 35? But, at the same time, you don't want to be fake about it. Generally speaking, people are the way they are because of certain experiences they've encountered since their childhood and the environment in which they grew up. Perhaps because of my eclectic upbringing, I find myself adapting moderately well to a variety of different situations instead of stubbornly wanting my way. It's not like you can wake up one day and say, "I'm going to be an extrovert from now on."

They also say that you should be with person with whom you can feel completely comfortable being yourself. Find someone that you don't need to put on an act for; someone who loves the way you are first thing in the morning when you can't tell your right hand from your left. Acting and entertaining for the sake of someone else is tiring business.

but it is true that people's expectations of others can run so high sometimes. We want the most from people, whlie giving our least.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What about him?

At the close of the book of John, Jesus is describing of life and death that Peter will have to endure, to which Peter looks at John and asks, "What about him?" Jesus knew that the Apostle John was destined to die from old age on the island of Patmos, whereas Peter would be crucified upside down, as tradition goes.

I can identify with Peter. We all have our paths to walk and it's not for us to compare ourselves with others. I can't get angry or jealous because I see people with the calling to stay in the city, get their PhD's, teach in a seminary, have a generally normal life, raise kids, have a condo and car and beautiful wife.

Jesus says, "what's it to you? You follow me" Those of us going into missions in hostile, uncomfortable areas are not getting the short end of the stick; it's not a shotty life we'll be looking forward to. It's life with our master. He's leading us and we're following; it's not like we're going off alone. There is great joy and excitement in following hard after the Lord and not fretting about the comforts that others get to enjoy.

And in the end, everything turns out be relative, a matter of degree. There is often a fine line between joy and strife. Life in the city with a career and wife is not all joy. Life in the jungles with the mosquitoes and no running water is not all strife. And vice versa.

The point is to walk wholeheartedly with God, not looking over our shoulder to see what the next guy is doing and how much fun it must be.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easter: The only viable option

If you were God, how would you have solved the problem of humanity's sin?

I might have created an earthquake that swallowed up the temple and the ark of the covenant and then speak through my prophets that this is God's way of forgiving our sin once and for all ... or something like that.

We should never think that God was ignorant of the way things were going to turn out in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fell into disobedience. He didn't plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and become suddently surprised that they ate of it. Remember that before there was talk of the tree, God had already created man IN HIS IMAGE. Why? Because God was always intending on sending his Son into the world, clothed in human flesh, so that he could pay the penalty of man's sin.

It was his predetermined plan that Jesus should suffer and die at the hands of sinners. The gruesome image of Jesus' passion is not gruesome because it was a last minute freak accident. It was gruesome so that God could demonstrate to us how terrible his wrath is on sin, and how glorious his mercy is on us.

Although The Father had all the infinite wisdom of the universe at his disposal, he refused to consider any other way to purchase salvation for humanity other than through the death of his beloved Son.

Walk that path with Jesus this week, that uphill trek to the summit with a cross pressing upon his torn and bloody shoulders. Breathe in the dust that was kicked into his face everytime he stumbled under the weight of those beams while sweat poured down his bruised face, and once the horror of it all becomes so real, remember, that this was the only possible way for us to be made right with God.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Believer vs. Disciple: Lessons from the Rich Young Man

Mark 10:17 ...

Now here's an impressive guy ... if he came to our church, we'd immediately mark him out as someone 'spiritual' cause as far as the lingo and the external behaviour, this dude's got it down pat. But does he? See, he claims to want eternal life, but he's still too in love with life on earth. He knows Jesus has the answer, but he doesn't like what he hears.

Here's a breakdown of the difference between believer and disciple. Note, this is our little definition of 'Believer' - someone who lives his/her life short of being a true follower of Christ. We're using it as a negative term to contrast with a disciple, though the Bible uses it positively as a name for the true Christians. Back then, believers were hardcore Christians, but today there are more varieties.

A believer is self-centred, seeking only to secure their eternal future. They ask, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17)A disciple is Christ-centred, sparing nothing for Jesus' sake. The disciple says, "We've left all to follow you!" (10:28)

A believer thinks he's got it all together, that his 'good' deeds have done God a favour. He says, "All this I have done since my youth" (10:20)A disciple, however, knows his own frailty and unworthiness to enter God's kingdom and desperately gasps, "Who then can be saved?" (10:26). To this Jesus responds, "No one, except those whom God has chosen."

A believer says, "Jesus is my saviour! Now show me my crown!"A disciple says, "Jesus is my LORD! Now show me my CROSS!"A believer thinks that eternal life is a span of time spent in heaven in the future.
A disciple knows eternal life is a person experienced here and now.

Lastly ...

A believer respects Jesus and calls him "Good".
A disciple obeys Jesus and calls him "God".

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pay-Back Time

How can a God who is loving inflict pain and suffering on anyone? Perhaps you haven't seen enough Korean and Japanese revenge movies. There's a Korean revenge flick called "Old Boy." It's a story of a man and his love for his sister that grew into a incestuous relationship that was discovered by the film's protagonist. The shame of the discovery caused her to take her own life and the rest of the movie was the brother's 14 year long plot to get back at the man who began to spread the rumour in the most painful way possible.
If you ever read the Prophets, you'll find two very prominent themes: The love of God for his people Israel, and the wrath of God on Israel's enemies (and to a lesser extent, on disobedient Israel herself).
Yes, God is a God of love - jealous, vengeful love. But struggling with the idea of a loving God who is capable of inflicting harm means basing your definition of love on the assumption that a lover can not possibly act in venegence or wrath. This is simply not true, even in human experience. A loving God does not mean a sissy-God, who is mild and spineless, who allows himself and his beloved to be trampled under foot by their enemies. I really do feel sorry for those who are not the people of God - cause it seems as though God is a pay-back God, a bully par excellence on those who dare scorn him and those in his 'gang'. The more I see the fiery wrath of God, the more I am convinced of his passionate love for his people. Just rejoice and be glad that this God is on our side, he is our warrior-lover.


We are overly concerned about the future. We always have meetings to talk about the strategy for next year,goals we want to see accomplished next year, or asking how much money we hope to make next year, who will I marry and when, where will I go or what ministry will I do and how will it be. We speak out of our fear and worry about what the future will bring for it is unknown to us, the undiscovered country, the final frontier to conquer.
What is it about horror movies that are so terrifying and spine tingling? Might I suggest that it is the element of uncertainty of what will happen next. That is why darkness is such a prominent aspect in horror flicks. Figures that are shrouded and doors half-open intimidate us to paralysing fear because uncertainty challenges our ability to evaluate our potential success or failure in the future.

Apparently the Bible condemns such concern for the future as arrogance and pride. James 4:13-17 says that we ought not say that tomorrow we will go to such and such a place and spend a year and make money, but we should have the attitude that if the Lord wishes we will live and do this or that. Sometimes we assume too much when we assume that by our own ability and wisdom we will successfully brave the dark and uncertain waters that is our future. We are simply ignorant beings having no assurance that our heart will lub dub another beat by the time we finish this sentence. Praise the Lord, it has!

I think the Bible here, and elsewhere is clear, that it is prideful to make plans without reference to God. He is the Lord of history and the future and in HIM we live and move and have our being. We ought not spend too much time concerning ourselves about the future because it only leads to covetousness of the things we want to possess and the successes we want to achieve. God knows what we need as he knows the needs of the sparrow and the lily of the field. We have his promises that all things will work out for our good and that he is working to complete that which he has started in us. Our lot is secure and future is certain if we will but trust in him. The worst that could happen is that we die at a young age, but when seen in a Christian light is not so terrible at all, but rather the most wonderful of all scenarios.

What we should be doing is asking more, how am I doing right NOW? Am I walking humbly and fearfully with the Lord, obeying his commands? How is my congregation NOW? What are the good traits and habits that I have now and should cultivate, and what are the sins I need to rid myself of right bleedin' NOW!