I’ve been separated from my family for a week and a half now. My wife decided to take the kids to her parents and stay with them for 3-4 weeks in order that I might focus more on finishing my Doctoral dissertation.
However, I am just now beginning to realize that kids are not really the cause of my distraction and the delay of my dissertation writing…
I use facetime to talk with them almost everyday, but there’s still longing and dissatisfaction in my heart? Why is that?
Relationship is more than just seeing faces, telling them about how your day went, and hearing about how their day went.
Relationship is about being together in the presence of one another.
I must admit, facetime, skype, and google hangout are great inventions and these get the job done, but webcam communication comes nowhere near being together face to face.
There are many Scriptural references to people of God longing to be near God or longing God’s nearness/presence:
Let me give you an example from Psalm 42.
1As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Many Christians settle for frequent/less frequent Facetime conversations with God. Consequently, they are left with still, if not more, longing and dissatisfied hearts.
We are created to live with God, thus we are completely helpless and lonely without Him. We cannot deceive our minds to think that we are okay since we had our quick “facetime” with God.
We need to be touched, hugged, and kissed by God. God promised that He will be with us. Applying the “Already and not-yet” theology, God is not physically with us right now, but He will be in that day.
Until that Day, God has left us two things: His Word and His Spirit. Let God’s Word touch you today. Let his Spirit fill your heart and wrap His arms around you. Let God kiss you on your forehead and tell you how much He loves you.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
This past Sunday’s message focused on God reconciling us to Himself. As people who have been transformed into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have been graced with the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are now given the privilege of serving as ambassadors for Christ.
The ministry and message of reconciliation that we as ambassadors are called to proclaim is the Gospel, the foundational belief of our faith. So evangelism and sharing about Christ is vital if we are to play a part in God’s work of reconciling the world in and through Jesus Christ.
However, being a Gospel messenger isn’t only about talking (even though this is the first requirement). It requires action that demonstrates a life of worship and faith to others, thereby adding spiritual weight to our Gospel sharing.
For any of us to neglect serving others and finding avenues to be Gospel witnesses is a sad state of affairs, both for our own personal Christian life and for the corporate life of our local church.
In an effort to encourage all of us to be better ambassadors for Christ, here are a few suggestions for everyone at Journey of Faith to consider:
The upcoming JOF Spring Revival Weekend provides an excellent opportunity in which to invite others to hear about enjoying true freedom and love in Christ. Let’s all attend this event with a desire to grow in our heart affections for Jesus!
Serving as a volunteer with the Journey Kids Children’s Ministry allows for the chance to help guide and teach the future generations in immeasurable ways. Why not join and serve the precious little ones at the church?
Compassion International: By giving just $38 a month, individuals and groups have a tremendous opportunity to make a kingdom of God impact to “release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.” The 20s CL Group has been sponsoring a child for a year and would be thrilled for others at JOF to join this evangelistic endeavor.
Dallas Ramp Project: The CLimbing Higher CL Group has participated in this wonderful outreach activity and is planning a couple of more outings this year. This activity provides ramp access for disabled individuals and opens opportunities to share the love of Christ.
Saturday Community Tutoring: The 30s CL Group is in charge of organizing a group from JOF to help volunteer and tutor children in the Irving area. The time and energy commitment is worthwhile when knowing the blessings associated with serving and sharing in this manner.
Homeless Shelter and Nursing Home Outreach: Opportunities abound in the Metroplex to serve others in these areas of ministry.
This “short” list does not mean that everyone must participate in everything. Instead, each of us ought to examine our hearts and motivations and see where we can serve and proclaim the Gospel as Christ’s ambassadors.
May the light of the Gospel and the glory of Christ shine brighter in our hearts and lives! (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
When we hear the word idolatry, most of us likely think about golden calves (Exodus 32:1-8), animals and nature (Romans 1:21-23), or statues made of stone or wood (Isaiah 44:12-17; Daniel 3:1-5) (or a chocolate bunny if you are familiar with VeggieTales). However, if we are honest with ourselves, all of us are idolaters against the God who created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). Whether it be lust/pornography/illicit fantasy (Matthew 5:27-30) or alcoholism/drunkenness/addiction (Ephesians 5:18) or greed/financial misuse (1 Timothy 6:10), everyone has certain sins and struggles that unduly affect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state.
A truthful assessment of our lives ought to reveal that these and other issues of sin and wickedness will never be perfectly removed until the day Jesus Christ returns or when we breathe our last breath. Despite the despair and shame of struggling against sin, we who have trusting faith in Jesus believe the Holy Spirit guides us in sanctification in order that our desires and affections continue to grow for the things of the Spirit, as opposed to the things of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-25).
There are numerous times I have looked at myself and wondered why the holy, infinite, and perfect God would love me, a wretched sinner who continues to bumble and stumble in the same sins over and over and over again. I then wonder if God really likes me at all and is only begrudgingly nice to me, as how I probably would react to someone who constantly wrongs me.
Yet, the beauty of the cross and the Gospel says that in Christ I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). In fact, I have freedom to live with full purpose and ultimate joy, with a growing affection and complete satisfaction in God. So it is that though I fail (and this happens many times everyday), the mercies of God are renewed upon me, and I am sustained by the supreme love of Christ. Thus, I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in response to what Christ has already done for me by giving Him glory and being a blessing to others.
As 2013 progresses, may we as Christ followers say that we will rejoice in Him always even if sorrow or suffering arise in our lives (2 Corinthians 6:10) and when we continue to fight against the flesh (Romans 7:21-25). He is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins! (1 John 1:9)
If you have ever been a part of a Korean church, you have heard of “Se-byuck Gi-do Mo-im. The literal translation of Se-byuck Gi-do Mo-im is dawn prayer meeting. Almost every Korean church has SBGDMI, and these meetings are usually held everyday throughout the year, except Sundays and some Holidays. I know few churches that has SBGD meetings without skipping any day of the year.
Let me make an attempt to answer few common questions regarding the SBGDMI:
Why is SBGDMI so uniquely important for Korean churches? I don’t think korean churches are the only churches that have early morning prayers. I know other ethnic churches doing similar prayer meetings. I also know other religious groups have prayer meetings early in the morning.
Does Bible support this? Well, kind of. According to Mark 1:35, “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
How did SBGDMI begin in Korean churches? I am not too certain of the origin of the SBGDMI. However, I personally believe that SBGDMI was not newly invented by early Korean Christians . Korean people are generally religious and also boast a rich tradition of fervent prayers and prayer meetings. Fasting, 1,000 days prayers, early morning prayers, and all night prayers were already big parts of the religious tradition and were commonly practiced amongst the religious people in Korea.
Many of the younger generation Korean Christians have not fully inherited this unique tradition of the SBGD meetings. These are some of the opposing comments about SBGD meetings: “Why do we need to come to church to pray? Doesn’t Bible tell us to pray in an isolated place?” “I need to be free from the religious spirit! I think SBGDMI is promoting legalism, therefore I refuse to come to one of those meetings”.
Although SBGD meetings may possess the flavor of paganic practice and may promote legalism, no one can deny the impact that SBGDMI had and still has on Korean Churches.
This week, I have been attending “Teuck-Se”, which is an abbreviation of Teuck byul Se Byuck Gi do (Special Dawn Prayer). Some Korean churches will designate one or two weeks out of the year to run special early morning prayers, and these meetings usually take place in the beginning or the end of the year. As we are half way through the Teuk-Se, I had a strong urge to share these thoughts with my brothers and sisters. I don’t want to go into the motives and the reasons of these meetings, because it can lead to an entirely different subject. I just wanted to share the positive impact that SBGD meetings have on Christians, thus encouraging readers to consider starting one or joining these meetings if your current church already has these meetings.
Here is the list of positive impact of SBGD meetings will have on you:
It will help you to sleep earlier. As a pastor who leads a church with many young families, I see moms and dads wasting their night times doing unnecessary things. 21st century people are slaves of entitlements. One of those entitlements is the time after kids go to bed. How many of us use those hours wisely? If you are committed to an early morning prayer meetings, you will have to discipline yourself to sleep earlier. It works the other way around as well. If you start attending morning prayers, you will be too tired to stay awake late at night.
You will start your day right. Your morning mood and attitude will dictate what kind of mood and attitude you will have for the rest of the day. I know I know! Some of you who are reading this is probably saying, “I am not a morning person, and if I have to get up early in the morning, I will be so cranky and nasty throughout the day.” You were neither born as a “night person” nor a “morning person”. It is a habit that can be developed and be trained. You can’t expect an immediate result, but you will experience changes approximately three weeks into it. Trust me on this!
It is one of the best ways to keep each other accountable. An average Christian will see his/her church members once or twice a week. It is difficult to keep each other accountable spiritually when you only meet one another once or twice a week. You don’t even have to say “Hello” or get into a deep sharing time with one another while attending SBGD. When you see each other at these meetings, you get to know a lot more about each other. You just have to see it to believe it.
You will be more focused and less distracted. Let’s do a simple math. Everyone is given 24 hours a day. We need certain amount of hours to sleep, eat, work, spend time with family & friends, be entertained, etc. If you have committed one to two hours a day to pray. You know you have to spend the rest of the day wisely in order to do everything that is necessary.
It is getting long, so I will share the remaining list in my next blog post.
In this season of celebration, fun, and snow (well, not much of the white stuff in Texas), let’s remember the ultimate reason for joy. If we call ourselves Christians, then we ought to be the most glad people in all the world. Why? Because the Messiah (Hebrew for “Anointed One”) has come, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ! (Christ is Greek for “Anointed One”)
As the commercialization of Christmas marches forward (I saw one Walmart that had Christmas stuff up two weeks prior to Thanksgiving), let’s encourage fellow brothers and sisters in taking time to magnify Christ and to bless others with much love and grace.
The fullness of the Gospel message must include the Incarnation (Jesus Christ taking full humanity), as Christ’s identification with us enabled Him to be our perfect substitute on the cross. Thinking about Jesus humbling Himself to take the form of man and then willingly going to the cross should bring much thankfulness from us! (Philippians 2:5-8)
The Jews back then (and still today) waited in hope for the Messiah to arrive and to initiate restoration for His people. However, there is no need to wait anymore, as Jesus Christ is the Messiah who came to the world! The joy of the Christian faith is that Jesus’ first coming brought peace and reconciliation between God and man. (Luke 2:11-14) The hope of the Christian faith is that Jesus will come again a second time to eradicate sin, evil, and death forever and to restore all things in the universe. (Revelation 21:3-7)
The season of Advent brings glory to Christ in celebrating His first arrival and anticipating His promised Second Coming. As we scurry to and fro in shopping for Christmas gifts and pondering our winter plans, let’s live for the glory of Christ and for our eternal joy! The Messiah has come, and He will come again!
Resources to help meditate more about and think more upon the Advent season:
Oh wow. It has been a while since our church blog has been updated. Apologies.
As believers of Jesus Christ, the church is called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), one way being through the care of those who are in need (Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27). A proper response to the Gospel (at work in our hearts) is when we desire to share outwardly the love of Christ to others, locally and internationally.
A small way in which Christians can make a kingdom of God impact is through Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. OCC provides an avenue through which believers can easily touch the lives of numerous children around the world. Through the power of a simple Christmas gift, combined with the great news of the Gospel, each of us is provided the immense opportunity to witness Jesus to people who currently do not believe in Him. So this activity is more than just a feel good type of thing in addressing physical needs. The greater spiritual need for Jesus Christ is shared and proclaimed!
During the month of November, some of the CL Groups at JOF will participate in creating, packing, and sending shoebox gifts to help children in other parts of the world. Being a part of a CL Group is not a prerequisite, so anyone is free to join in this wonderful ministry of service, love, and evangelism. Having been saved by grace through faith, we thank God that we have numerous ways and means to proclaim His message of hope and salvation. Let’s share the awesome love of Jesus, as we approach the Christmas/Advent season!
I think we can all agree that many people in “civilized society” view Christianity as an intellectually bankrupt worldview and a faith that is full of hypocrisy and erroneous beliefs. Popular culture tends to portray Christians as goody-two-shoes bumpkins in the mold of Ned Flanders (a Simpsons character) or as buffoons who are not up with the modern times.
On numerous college campuses, various professors and student groups seek to eliminate the credibility of Christianity as a rational belief system. So for those of us who are followers of Christ, we must be ready to provide an answer for the hope that we believe (1 Peter 3:15-16). A decision not to engage the world with our reasonable faith is at best not good and at worst a disobedience to love God with all our minds (Matthew 22:37). Of course, this doesn’t mean that every Christian is called to be an academic or some intellectual guru. However, each of us is commanded to use the gift of thinking to think rightly about Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and why He is our only true hope.
A few years ago (four to be exact), a book called The Reason for God was written by Tim Keller, who is the senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. In his book, Keller provides a basic defense of the Christian faith against some of the most common objections, such as: the problem of evil, the injustices committed by the church, and the idea that science has disproved Christianity. Keller also addresses the topics of the Gospel vs. religion, the problem of sin, and the cross and resurrection. Most importantly, The Reason for God argues that faith in Jesus Christ is a rational belief and truth claim.
As the summer season winds to a close, and if you have some free time on your hands, please consider giving this book a read. Those of us who are believers of Christ can be encouraged and equipped to be better Christian thinkers while also pointing any non-Christian friends and family to this engaging resource.
While the theological foundations are important, there are many practical and spiritual benefits when preaching is done properly from the Bible. Preaching the Word:
Helps to teach a whole church congregation (pastors included) how to read and to interpret the Bible
Shows that every part of the Word of God is meaningful for our lives in pointing to the Gospel and Jesus Christ
Empowers the preacher/teacher to share the truth because the message is grounded upon the Bible and not his own opinions
Demonstrates that the Word of God is the authority over the pastor and the church
Emphasizes that the Bible is the true and inerrant written Word of God that proclaims the incarnate Word
If we as followers of Christ are serious about our faith and serious about our love for God, then we will take seriously the Word of God and how it is preached in our churches. This importance can’t be understated.
All glory to the One who has revealed Himself in His Word!