Archives for category: college

One of my favorite questions these days comes from Charles Lee:

How can we become a better expression of God’s love to the world?

When I came across this story about Sub Pop Records giving away college scholarships, I was both encouraged and challenged.

Encouraged, because I love the indie/punk DIY spirit — with this scholarship, Sub Pop is helping to foster music, creativity and the arts in the lives of three young people from the Pacific Northwest. Punk, to me, is not about three-chords and an attitude; it’s thinking differently about and making a difference where you live.

I am also challenged to deeply consider what kind of church I hope to be a part of and to help pastor — one whose community is better off because we are here.  I’m not only talking about funding scholarships or other humanitarian efforts (although, if we’re honest, the church in general could probably do a whole lot more of that) but fostering a spirit of generosity and creativity that reflects the head-spinning generosity and creativity of our God.

We want to become a church who serves, loves, prays for and is a good neighbor to those around us. We want to give more than we take, to bless more than we are blessed, and to become a better expression of what the love of God in Christ actually looks like.

A Bigger Gospel

Reducing the entirety of the Gospel to the idea that Jesus died so that I can go to heaven has had some unfortunate consequences. Certainly, Christ died on the cross, bearing the weight of our sins upon Himself so that we can enter into right relationship with God. However, by behaving as if Jesus is essentially a get out of jail free card, we end up with Christians who can make statements like this:

Christ does not call Christians to ‘make the world more compassionate and a better place’. Christ calls us to proclaim the Gospel message of Christ Crucified for sinners. This message is not compatible with any other religion or spirituality.

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We have officially launched our new community here in San Diego: United Presbyterian Church!

Personally, it has been a tumultuous past several months — lots of soul searching, seeking after God and wrestling with some tough questions. In many ways, the struggle still continues — but I’m hoping that just as art is often born of pain, something beautiful could arise from this difficult season.

While we embrace our roots as the English Ministry of Korean United Presbyterian Church, we dream of becoming a missional people who are united with Jesus as individuals and as a diverse community, and to God’s purposes in the world.

If you are in the San Diego area, we invite you to come join what God is doing here at United!

Our website is still in a sort of beta-ish mode, but you can take a peek over at sdunited.org. Below is a graphic I designed to capture the heart of where we think God is leading us.

While I wish I could have heard the messages from David Gibbons, Peter Cha and Ken Fong from this past weekend’s San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference (by all accounts, they delivered fantastic messages), my responsibilities there precluded my ability to sit in on the main sessions there. While I didn’t have an official title, I think Childcare Second Assistant Volunteer would pretty much summarize my role.

Much love to James, Dora and Steve for putting in so much hard work & prayerful effort into this amazing conference. When my wife and I came on board to help out in whatever ways we could, we realized that one of the most important things we could offer would be childcare — thus freeing the post-college family set to attend. It was really great to hear during a dinner chat with Joon Han that, for some people there, SDAALC was the first conference they had attended in years — specifically because childcare was available. My wife did a wonderful job preparing a great kids’ program with limited resources, and we had some really wonderful volunteers help out. I was there to provide box-moving and audio/visual tech support (and to hold multiple crying infants simultaneously).

I recorded my seminar, Asian American Identity + Postmodern Culture, on my little MP3 player. If I figure out how to upload it (and if it seems worthwhile), then maybe I will get around to posting it here. I was humbled that anyone showed up at all, and I sincerely hope that it was beneficial in some way for those who were there.

Another SDAALC note: it was great to see that True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In, by James Choung, was not only available but was sold out by the end of the conference. Check out The Big Story and The Big Story, Part 2 videos James made based on ideas from this book — they are great resources for postmoderns who struggle with sharing their faith in Jesus in a concise, compelling way with others. These short clips (each one is only about three minutes) are also powerful for those of us who were raised in the church believing in the Western, individualistic, consumer-mindset, fire-insurance Jesus who died just for me (and that’s about it) instead of the Christ whose life, death and resurrection make the story of redemption, restoration, healing and rescue possible — in our individual lives, our relationships, families, communities and for the nations and the world.

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The next couple of months look like they’re shaping up to be a great time for Asian American ministry gatherings here in Southern California. There’s the AALC gathering up in Los Angeles right after Easter and the San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference coming up in April. My wife and I have enjoyed being on the planning team for SDAALC.

I have been doing some design work for SDAALC, trying to pull together all of the visual elements in a cohesive, compelling manner — including the website header above. The website is temporary, but includes most of the important information (date, location, speakers, etc.). Next up is putting together a brochure that we can begin passing around to churches, fellowships and individuals who are interested. Hopefully, the brochures will be ready to go within the next couple of weeks.

At the end of this month, my wife and I will be attending the National Pastors Convention here in SD. I’m looking forward to hearing from NT Wright, John Ortberg, Phyllis Tickle and Scot McKnight, among many other wonderful speakers. An added bonus: DJ Chuang will be in town for part of NPC, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with him again (we got to hang out a bit this weekend while DJ was in SD).

I still haven’t gotten my mind wrapped around all of things God was doing at the Passion::Los Angeles regional event from this past weekend. Perhaps I will be able to unpack some of these things soon but the thought of how closely worship and justice are knit together absolutely gripped my heart.

Although I am doing one thing he specifically requested we not do after hearing him speak in saying this, Francis Chan is everything you’d want a speaker to be — dynamic, funny, engaging. I mentioned to our youth group students this morning at church that if God zaps certain people with lightning bolts of communication ability, Francis Chan is definitely one of them. While I certainly appreciate his giftedness, it is the heart of God that comes through so passionately when I have heard him speak.

During one of his messages, he shared about an artist he knows from Thailand who had been teaching children. As she spent time with them, she discovered that child after child had been forced into prostitution. So she did what she knew was right. This artist would enter these brothels, find these children — each beloved, made in the image of God — and literally steal them away from this life of degradation and exploitation. Quickly, she was receiving imminent, credible death threats, so she took all of her children to safety. Today, she awakes every morning to a houseful of rescue, 120 children.

Francis went on to say that he loves college students because they will do crazy things. For example, if he told this gathering of over 3000 college students that he had chartered six planes to go to Thailand so that we could run into these dark places and rescue as many kids as we could, he knew that they would be filled. If those hypothetical planes had been waiting on the tarmac at LAX, even though my college days are distant memory, I would have left that night to go.

Even as I sit here and type these words, my heart rages against the sin, decay and brokenness of our world. How do we live in a world in which evil men and women would abuse children in such unspeakable ways? When Francis brought his oldest daughter out on the stage as he was speaking on this, I could not help but hold my own daughter close to my heart. If it were our daughters out there, we wouldn’t be sitting comfortably in our churches, critiquing the songs — Well, David Crowder shouldn’t have used that Guitar Hero Flying V during Neverending. I would have used the Gibson SG, and on and on — we would move heaven and earth and until they were safe.

They’re all our daughters. Each one of these children upon whom the worst depravity of humanity has been unleashed bears the indelible imprint of our Creator and is unimaginably loved by Him. I love my daughter more and more each year. Becoming a dad is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I would do anything for her, and it is overwhelming to imagine what God’s heart must feel like when He sees what is happening to His children around the world.

My heart felt like it was being crushed in a vice grip when Francis spoke of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 — they’re all our daughters, they are all created and loved by God and, in some barely comprehensible way, they are all Jesus. Who else could be more aptly described as the least of these? It is unbearable to imagine Jesus — Jesus — hungry, naked, thirsty, imprisoned, voiceless, oppressed and yet, when we choose to bring light into dark places, to come against such horror with redemption and rescue, to allow our worship to overflow into righteousness and justice, we have done it for Him.

To learn more or to find ways to get involved, here some organizations committed to bringing about justice in our broken world:

Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! – Amos 5:23-24

Ten years ago, I was looking for some Bible study material at a Christian bookstore on the East Coast when I came across a cassette tape (!) for “Passion ’98: Live Worship from the 268 Generation.” Although I had no idea what a 268 Generation was, I liked the design on the cover so I picked it up that day. Like many others, my first connection with the Passion movement was through their music.

My wife and I, along with two friends, road tripped it over 20 hours from New Jersey out to Tennessee for the first OneDay event in 2000 (if you watch closely, you can spot us on the DVD). Since then, we have been to several Passion events — Thirsty, campus tours, various concerts & conferences, etc. We are bringing a group of college students from our church out to Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday for the Passion ’08 west coast regional event.

I really admire Louie Giglio, the founder and catalyst behind Passion. For being an extremely influential person, Louie is down-to-earth and very approachable. Once, when my wife and I were down in Atlanta as part of the ramp-up to OneDay ’03, Louie asked if we needed a ride back from dinner and we had a nice, albeit brief, conversation together in his car. Almost two years later, towards the end of ’04, we were in Manhattan for the last of the Passion events being held around the city and we saw Louie briefly before the event began. He actually remembered us, and greeted us warmly. I don’t mean to imply that I am “friends” with Louie at all; rather, I think these little stories show the heart and humility behind the Passion movement.

Louie often shares that there is no new theme for the Passion events — it’s always the same: the glory of God. While I love the music of Passion, it is the message that resonates deeply with me: that there is no higher calling, no bigger story, no more worthy cause than to live completely for God’s glory.

I don’t believe that events should be the primary catalyst for growing as followers of Christ. More and more, I am convinced that it is the living out of what we believe in the everyday and in between that causes our love for God and others to deepen. That being said, part of what draws me to Passion is that they’re not just about the events (which, by the way, are always creative and inspiring). In Louie’s own words:

Jesus is a movement. He’s not into monuments, systems or external structures. He is a river of life. “And everywhere the river flows, everything lives.” Movements are fluid. Movements move. Movements are not always predictable.

Join with us in praying that God would raise up a collegiate generation — a movement — who lives for something more than wealth, power or fame, whose life and breath would be spent to proclaim the beauty, wonder and glory of our God everyday.