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Archive for January, 2009

Recently I read a book by NT Wright about a recent archeological find in the Gospel of Judas.  This “gospel” has been of great interest to the scholarly world, especially those who are interested in redefining Jesus.  It is supposedly written by Judas Iscariot and depicts him in a heroic manner because he was only obeying Jesus’ command to betray him.  This writing along Judas and the Gospel of Jesuswith many other “hidden gospels” seek to reinterpret Jesus and Christianity in a different manner than the one presented in the closed canon (bible).  A modern example of this eagerness to change the historical picture of Jesus is found in the overwhelming response to the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  Thus a few questions arise: is there any validity to different claims of Jesus as found in the Da Vinci Code and the Gnostic Gospels?  Can we trust that what the bible says about Jesus is true?  Are there other archeological finds that should be included in the canon?  How can we determine whether these “hidden” writings vs. the writings in the bible are true?

In an attempt to answer these very important questions, I first acknowledge that I am only beginning on this journey and humbly present my thoughts based on the book I read by NT Wright, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have we missed something about Christianity? (more…)

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ntwrightRecently, I read a book by NT Wright called Simply Christian.  It is what the title suggests: an exposition on what it means to be a Christian.  Some have deemed it on and even above the level of the CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  In the book, Wright explains that there are four core longings in the human heart: justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty.  We find ourselves groping for solutions to the problems of injustice that we see all around us.  We long for connection with a god or higher power.  We also earnestly desire deep fulfilling relationships and the longing to be fascinated and to see “echoes” of the divine through nature, art, music, etc.  Yet, many of these longings never seem to be accomplished as new governmental programs are implemented, new boyfriends and friends are formed, our location shifts to another city, etc. (more…)

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Being Asian-American in the Midwest

After living in Southern California for 23 years of my life, I find myself in 23 degree weather in the heartland of America.  As I look across the landscape, I no longer see mountain ranges with snow-tipped peaks, but I see flat-lands with many trees spotted throughout.

On a rare ocassion, I went with a few friends to a pho restaurant (Vietnamese noodles) to enjoy some fine Asian cuisine.  After seeing a slew of Asian people there it gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort.  Yet, this scene is only a momentary reprieve from my everyday life.

For example: I am one of three Asian people in a class of 60 people at IHOPU (and that is good number).  On the Nightwatch I am one of three Korean-American male full-time staff member with the Asian staff being around 15 out of 200.  Though there are many Asian visitors who come to IHOP, few of them stay long term.

I have found myself gr0w relationally tired in this context where it seems like my culture is not valued.  I have had many experiences with well-meaning Caucasians who call the food that I eat strange and weird.  Though this may seem like an insignificant issue, it re-emphasizes the reality that I am “different” and not “normal.”  Even certain idioms and verbiage that is normalized in American society like “Chinese fire drill, all Asians look alike” and the use of the word “oriental,” which associates a people group derogatorily with a rug, further affirm that I do not belong.  In this context, I have to fight not to get offended and isolate myself, but to value the people around me and to encourage greater racial awareness and appreciation.

Yet, what is my response to such heavy issues of race in relationships?  What gives me hope in times like these?  Well, I look to the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in John 17.  He prays, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:21, italics added).  Jesus prays for the unity of believers worldwide.  He prays to the Father in a shocking manner as he asks for believers to be united in loving relationship just as he has with his Father.  Jesus’ longing for believers from different ethnicities, denominations, genders, and background to be one just as the Father are one.  This gives me hope because what Jesus prays will happen.  The church will be one in loving unity and demonstrations of understanding and affection.

One of the most powerful things is that this unity will be one of the greatest witnesses of the gospel to the rest of the world.  When believers are one in the Trinity corporately, the world will believe that you have sent me.  Jesus’ coming is proved through the love and unity of the saints.  How can this happen in light of what we see today?  The answer is within the context of John 17: prayer.  Just as Jesus prays for this unity to occur, we as believers today join with this prayer and ask God to bring about unity.  Not just so we can all get along and our lives be easier, but for the sake of the witness of the gospel to the rest of the world.

This by no means is a call to passive resignation in relationships for the sake of “love.”  But it is a challenge to demonstrate real love through working things out and staying engaged in tough situations without running away.  It takes much greater strength and resolve to deal with a hard situation than to withdraw and give up.  And friendship and love in relationships is worth fighting for.  The strength to love in this manner only comes through God.  When we comprehend and know that God loves us the same way that He loves His son, then this emboldens us to love ourselves and others in the same way.  God I ask that you would give us understanding and revelation of your deep love for us in Jesus name, Amen.

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Celebrating Two years on the Nightwatch

I cannot believe that I have been on the Nightwatch for 2 years. The time just seemed to have gone by so quickly. I am truly grateful that I have been privileged to be an intercessor on the Nightwatch. Many people have asked me whether it is healthy for me to be on nights. And so far, it has been quite fine. Keeping to my sleep schedule, eating healthy, exercise, and getting enough sunlight are all components that I have incorporated into my lifestyle. And now my body has gotten quite adjusted.

In all actuality, many times when I switch back to days, I become less productive and do not know how to spend my time wisely. I think this has a lot to do with being so accustomed to the Nightwatch.

Praying on the microphone in prayer room

Praying on the microphone in prayer room

But the thing I love the most about the Nightwatch is its focused atmosphere of prayer and devotion to God. There is no better time for me to engage with God in prayer and the word than in the quiet hours of the night, where there are less distractions. This allows me to press into God in a deeper way.

On the flip side, one of the hardest things about nights is the disruption to the social life. I am unable to participate in many activities by sheer fact that my schedule does not allow it. Also once I wake up around 3pm, I only have a couple hours to go to the bank or other stores before they close. But overall, I am grateful to be on the Nightwatch and look forward to the times ahead on this schedule.

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