Friday, October 18, 2013

Three Things Jesus Wants to Change

I don't really know why modern day sermons always have three points.  Perhaps its because it easier for Pastors to remember, or for the brothers and sisters they are talking too to remember, or perhaps it's because when you finally get to point #3 everyone knows the sermon is close to finish, and they can get excited because it's almost done?  (just kidding, but not really).  Anyway I had always wondered why Jesus talks so little to the 12 disciples about lust - these are 12 healthy young men, who must have struggled with lust - pretty much every guy I talk to this is one of their greatest struggles, area of temptation, and place of failure - including myself.  So why doesn't Jesus address it more aggressively?  [I don't know - yet].  But as I thought about this I realized there were at least three things clearly that Jesus wanted His disciples to be changed/transformed in:  (you can add others - I would love to get your understanding).  And I write this because perhaps the struggles that we have are not as serious as what Jesus sees in us.

1. Their lack of compassion:  Jesus had to continually remind them to; 1) let the little children come to me, don't stop them - care for the children.  2) feed the hungry, but they would always say - we don't have enough, where can we buy bread enough for them to eat, etc.. 3) Send her away - the syrophonecian woman who had a daughter who was demon possessed and kept on following Jesus asking for mercy.  4) Simon Peter cutting off the high priest servant's ear - and Jesus prays it back on.     It seemed that the disciples were more concerned about their schedule and their plans and their resources rather than the genuine needs of others.  Jesus addresses their lack of compassion.  When Lord, did we see you naked and not clothe you, or hungry and not feed you, or in prison and not visit you?  When you didn't do unto the least of these, you didn't do it unto ME.   Now mind you they are not hating on people (except the last one when Peter hacks off the ear), but they are not truly loving others.

2. Their lack of faith: Jesus has to continually rebuke and repove His disciples for their lack of faith: 1) Oh you of little faith why did you doubt 2) if you have faith the size of a mustard you can tell this mountain to be moved 3) you wicked and perverse generation how long must I stay with you - where is your faith.  Now I know they have faith, but they have just not placed all of it into Jesus.  They are not holding onto Jesus, rather they are holding onto their skills, their plans, their resources, the reaction of others, the circumstances, and I wonder if that isn't really the source of many of my struggles - because if I simply believed and had faith, then I wouldn't fear and try to get satisfaction from anything else than Jesus.

3) Their lack of humility: 1) I want to sit on the right or left of Jesus 2)Tell that guy to stop preaching your Name Jesus, he isn't one of us!  2) Jesus you will not go to the Cross, even if I have to die with You I will not deny You!  Jesus has to remind them again and again, unless you become like a little child you can not - you will not enter the Kingdom of God, the first shall be the last the last shall be the first, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it can not bear fruit!  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  Apart from me you can do nothing. 

So perhaps I need to see if these issues have been dealt with in my life, otherwise - I may be focused on things that Jesus doesn't really mind, but not submitting to Him what does bother Him. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Defining the me - apart from the Title pt. 2

So I begin growing, my hunger for God and the things of God felt so insatiable!  I never experienced this before, there were spurts when I was in Junior High School - after retreats - that I was on a spiritual high, but that lasted only 2 or 3 days after the retreat.  But this was different, it was living, beating, thinking continuously about Jesus - and I wanted more of Him.  So I turned to the Bible, of course and started reading.  I found out that if you read 10 chapters a day you can finish the Bible in 6 months, and I heard a Pastor say, "It's good to read straight through the Bible once so that you get an overview a more complete view of what the Bible says," and I took his advice so I read the Bible twice that year - and boy was it messy, underlines, color pencil highlights, writing on the side margins - but it was also my Bible.  The first one that I had ever bought with my own money, and it was God's Word to me.
     I started listening to Christian music, and though it was not as catchy as the House Music that I used to DJ to, it felt deeper.  Steve Camp, Run to the Battle, Stranger to Your Holiness, Keith Green, Create in me a Clean heart, etc... and I would often weep as I worshiped God in the car or listening on my walkman.  I also picked up the guitar and started learning chords and just started playing simple G, Em, C, D chord songs - Lord, I lift Your Name on High, Jesus Draw Me Close, Nails in Your Hands, Because He lives - and I would just sit and sing in God's presence for 1-2 hours - He felt more real to me than any person that I could see or touch.  It was like I knew what I was made for!  To worship Him, and enjoy Him forever.
     I also started attending the K.B.S Korean Bible Study on Cornell campus.  I didn't know anybody, but some of them knew me as the Violent Party Animal, and they would come up to me and ask what I was doing there.  I could imagine there was a sense of distrust like, "this guy is only here to pick up women."  Farthest from the truth, for the first time since my 2nd year in College - I actually wanted to stay faithful to my girlfriend who at that time who was living near NYC.  I just needed Christian fellowship so badly, it wasn't easy to come by - but Christ had changed me so much that I went from a very quite guy who always needed Alcohol to become more social, to a much more social guy who didn't need any alcohol.  And as I kept reaching out to the Christians at KBS, I met and made some really godly friends who tremendously impacted my life as I saw their spiritual maturity and godly character even at such a young age and in the midst of the peer pressure Cornell secular society.
     We had prayer meetings, not because anyone forced it, but there was this hunger in our hearts.  When we went to a retreat I remember, going to a corner to just pray and have some time with God, and one of the leaders (who was younger than me) came over and just started weeping and said, Doug can we pray together for the students at Cornell and Ithaca - that God would touch their hearts.  And it was like fuel on fire!  I am so thankful for that time, how God took me out of meaninglessness, drunkeness, debauchery and filled it with Him and a Christ centered community.  Perhaps that's why, even to this day - I continue to long for that, where it wasn't Pastor Doug, or leader Doug - it was just a bunch of young Christians who really hungry for God, and nothing would satisfy us - except for Him.
     However, I think there was a problem in that - not a big problem, but a foundational problem.  We had not "adult" or "well rounded" Christian elder.  We only had a Pastor whose church we went to for Sunday service - but no one that came and spoke life and truth into us on Fridays when KBS met.  Now, I think that's a good thing, because it really caused us College students to mature - but I think it's a bad thing, cause we only saw the "institutional" Church leadership model.  With Pastor up top, and an eldership that sometimes is visible and sometimes not.  So as Senior year came about, and other members of KBS that I loved and trusted started saying to me, oh you are a leader, oh you should become a Pastor - my thought was, well I love serving God, and I know that God has called me to be a servant - why not be a Pastor!  From the moment I decided to go to Seminary with the purpose of becoming a Pastor - my attitude changed, and the way that people treated me changed.  I was no longer, a broken, weak, helpless, sinner in desperate need of God, and to be filled continuously with the Holy Spirit - just like everyone else!  Now I was Pastor to be Doug, a spiritual man (at least needed to appear so), whose serious about ministry (still am - but not needing the title of occupational Pastor), whose a clergy apart from laity and specially called by God (not true according to 1 Peter 2:9).
    My friend fellowship turned into spiritual mentoring relationships - I saw myself, and sadly others saw me primarily as a leader, and not a brother in Christ!!!  To this day I live with this regret, I just want to be a brother in Christ, I just want to be a fellow worker in Christ - who can share my struggles and joys, as well as help carry your struggles and joys with you.  I'm slowly learning, please be patient with me - cause I want to be defined by who Christ says I am - apart from the Title.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Defining the me - apart from the Title!

Jesus Christ found me just a month after I turned 21.  That was a big thing, because all throughout College I wanted to be legal, no more trying to fake my age, with a fake ID - free to go drink.  But God had different plans, and of course I am so thankful.  Who was I when Christ first found me?
  1. A korean-american college student who was always 1 semester away from probation
  2. a DJ - who loved listening to house music and getting the latest LPs from Europe
  3. a Party loving animal - who couldn't wait for the weekend so tried to party every night (hence close always a step away from academic probation)
  4. a womanizer - had a girl friend back at home (NYC), while looking all the time to hook up with girls at College (Ithaca)
  5. Violent - especially when intoxicated, was in a fight or tried to start a fight almost every weekend - I was the very definition of beer muscles
  6. Stylish - always tried to look good, Z-cavarichi, etc... (even put a hair-band on like those guys in 21 Jumpstreet - it was a big mistake and I did it only once)
  7. Lonely - could never be alone, except to watch porn - otherwise always wanted to be around my friends (co-dependent)
  8. Angry - at my father, deep rooted hatred for his korean-ness (ask other korean kids what that means and they will tell you)
  9. Purposeless/visionless - I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, only going to college because I was "supposed to" and get to be close to my friends at Cornell.  I studied only to get to the weekend to party.
  10. Smoking cigarettes, and getting into marijuana - by my Junior year I was contemplating selling it to make some extra money
  11. Insecure - never liked my fat body, never thought I was attractive.  I always said, Some guys are like Flowers and wow the girls, I'm like a weed, I just grow on girl. 
 There are definitely others, but these are the ones that are clearly significant to me.  Even with these pathetic characteristics, and wicked sinfulness - Jesus Christ found me and saved me on December 17, 1991.  I was over at my friends' place on the Cornell Campus.  There were five of us: Dale, Michael, Tommy, Sang and me.  We were just sitting around watching T.V., having a few beers, smoking some cigs and for some reason started talking about Church retreats.  I had grown up in Church, but completely walked away from it after I entered College.  Tommy, Sang and I reminisced about retreats we had been on, and for some reason we started crying (Holy Spirit's moving).  Dale and Mike looked over at us and said, "are you guys crying? What's wrong with you?!"  Wiping our tears we all agreed, what is wrong with us?  Then Dale said, "there is no such thing as God!" Mike countered, "how do you know, are you God?"  Dale thought for a moment and said, "Okay, even if there is a God, Jesus Christ is definitely not the only way!"  Tommy and Sang, who both grew up in a church like myself agreed - "yeah, there are probably other ways."  Then I put in my two cents, "What are you guys talking about, you know what the Bible says, Jesus is the only way, the truth and life - no one comes to the Father except through me!"  And I'm smoking a cig and drinking a beer - and it was right then that God showed me, "you know the truth, but you are living a lie."  For some reason I put my cigarette out and said goodbye to my friends and went back to my place on the Ithaca College side.
     It was 8pm when I got home and snow was falling lightly, and as I walked into my bedroom I sat on the bed.  I haven't prayed in 4 or 5 years, and now I sat silent on my bed, and all that came out was, "Jesus, I know that You are real, but I don't want to follow You."  I wasn't looking for God, I wanted more fun, because all the fun wasn't enough to give me fulfillment.  As I said that simple yet honest prayer I felt immediately a heavy weight upon my shoulders and I started to wonder what is this?  Then like the film of a movie, all my sins started to pass before my eyes (everything I mentioned above and more), and I was petrified/horrified.  The thought that came to me was, what am I gonna do when I stand before a Holy God - with all these sins!  I began to ask God, please help me, please forgive me.  Right then in my mind's eye (I hope that's not new age-ish), because my eyes were closed but I saw a vision of Jesus hanging on the Cross.  I didn't see His face, just His hands and feet that were nailed to the Cross, and His body which was beaten and flogged.  And His blood began to trickle down towards me and as it touched me I felt the complete forgiveness of sin - the weight upon my shoulders was gone, completely gone!  I got up grabbed the porno mags, the cigarettes, the marijuana that was in my closet and threw into a trash bag and chucked it into the Garbage Bin outside.
     I came back into my place, and it was so amazing - the feeling of forgiveness.  I sat down on the bed and just thanked God, but something felt out of line, incomplete.  And as I asked God what is it - my eyes met the four crates of 12 inch LP's that I had collected for the past 4 years - remember DJ.  God was tugging on my heart to give it up - I freaked out and called my younger sister who at that time was 15 years old (a christian before me).  And she told me, "Oppa, you're an adult do what you gotta do!"  I put her on hold and grabbed the crates one by one and threw them out into the dumpster.  The whole time the thoughts that were running through my mind was - "what are you doing?   You don't have to do that!"  After I came back in, I picked up the phone and told my sister, "I threw away all my records."  That's when I believe I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.  I couldn't speak anymore as tears, buggers, and drool came out of my mouth.  So I hung up with my sister, and went into my bedroom and prayed, and rejoiced, and thanked, and worshiped, and I looked at my watch and it was 3:30am.  I had been in God's presence since 8pm - but it only felt like 10 minutes.  I told the LORD, I have to go to sleep because I have a final tomorrow morning.
     Woke up at 6am, and showered - and started out the door and I still remember it was cloudly with light snowfall (gloomy), but it felt like the most glorious day of all - because I was finally alive in Christ.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20.  
It wasn't just a Bible verse that my Sunday school teacher read out loud, it was real - I no longer live, but Christ who lives in me!  And I felt truly alive, God has saved me and changed me.  Amazingly I had no desire to smoke, drink, curse, fight, - things that I always felt before, but now that was gone.  It's like the movie Sound of Music when that 16 year old daughter kisses that boy in the Glass gazebo - and afterwards she spins going "Wheeeeeeee!" in ecstasy - that is just a little bit of how ecstatic I felt.  God is real, more real than anyone that I have ever touched, talked to, or walked with!  And He forgives me and loves me. 
     After coming back from class (final exam), my roommate - A.K. , is walking up the staircase to his room.  And suddenly I get this urge inside of me that I am to tell A.K that Jesus loves him.  What!?  No way, I hate A.K., he is so cheap - always hording food, writing on paper bags "A.K.'s food don't touch!"  While the other roomates always shared.  Often times me and Joel my other roommate would joke, let's beat up A.K. while he is sleeping.  But at this time, I feel so compelled to tell A.K. Jesus loves you - and so I do.  A.K. runs upstairs startled and screams back at me - "Jesus loves you too Doug."  Man, I have been changed, even as I say that to A.K., my heart towards him changes from hatred to love and compassion.  Jesus is real, and He has really changed me. 

So this is me - apart from the Title, before I became an occupational "Pastor."  A sinful, broken, pathetic, pointless, meaningless, visionless, alcoholic, drug smoking, violent, lustful, angry man - saved amazingly and so graciously by the Blood of Jesus.  And even though all my friends would reject me because I am a Christian, it mattered very little, because I know who I am now, I am a child of God, adopted by the price of Jesus' blood to be a son.  A newborn son craving spiritual milk, and just wanting to know better, more intimately the One who loves me so intimately!