Archive for September, 2011

September 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bro.

As someone going into ministry, I consider a lot of people “dear brothers in Christ”:  many of my peers, nearly all my mentors, and the tens of students I encounter on a week-in and week-out basis.  However, I only have one blood-brother and today is his 25th birthday.  This post is dedicated to him.

Above is a picture of us during our childhood.  As you can probably tell, I am the one on the left.  Fittingly so, my brother posted this picture up on his Facebook with a caption that read, “I still bother him to this day.”

My brother and I are the only two children in our household, so growing up we were practically joined at the hip.  As the picture may connote of our relationship, he did bother me very much as a kid.  We fought a good amount.  However, we also got along better than most other siblings.  Some memorable moments of our childhood (in no particular order):

  1. During my first encounter at a swimming pool, I decided to play “big boy” and jump into 5 feet deep water.  Mind you, I was only used to playing in the urine-infested kiddie pool, had absolutely no idea how to swim and was probably only about 2 feet tall.  The only thing I remember is seeing blue, aspirating bubbles, feeling utter panic, then being rescued shortly after.  My brother had seen my act of courageous stupidity from the other side of the pool and ran over as fast as he could.  Ironically, I would become a lifeguard some 15 years later.
  2. In Korea, I used to get bullied a lot (I think?).  Maybe it was because I was way too cute for the other children or because I had a head three times the size proportionate to my body.  One day at the playground, kids decided to take fuzzy/spiky pine cone things and throw them at me.  In my wailing cry for help, my brother rushed over and threw his body over me until they stopped (I don’t actually remember this story, but my brother insists that it happened, so I’ll take his word for it… being it’s his birthday and all).
  3. My brother was invited to a birthday party when he was about 6 or 7 years old.  Being a spoiled 4 or 5 year old, I begged and cried to my mom to let me tag along.  She helplessly relented.  The party venue was this cool ceramic shop where they let kids paint sculptures of their favorite cartoon characters.  My brother picked out this awesome mini-statue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Michelangelo.  Likewise, I picked a face-mask piece of Leonardo, which I still have it to this day.  A couple days after the party, I broke Michelangelo while playing with him.

There are countless stories I could tell you about our childhood.  But they all follow a basic pattern: whatever he did, I followed.  We dressed the same.  I played flute in elementary school because he did (I mean… what kind of 4th grade boy would voluntarily play flute??).  I looked forward to the times during the school day when his friends would call me “Lil’ Cho.”  I played volleyball in high school ’cause of him.  You name it, I followed.

Although we’ve grown apart a little, and now people actually think I am the older brother (kekeke), we still remain close.  We’ve had our arguments and blow-outs in the past, but he’s always remained loyal and was there to my rescue.  I’ve also witnessed him serving in an integral part for our English Ministry and Youth Group back home over the past year, and it’s been one of the exclusive reasons to why I fell in love with our home church again.  I look forward to the days where we can serve together in the name of Jesus.

Friends come and go, but blood will always run through your veins.

Gospel Connection: How precious still is the blood Christ?

September 22, 2011

Beyond Our Control

The following is a conversation that I had with one of my friends yesterday, he will remain anonymous for eventually-apparent reasons:

Friend: Hey guess what.
Me: Wutsup?
Friend: I peed my pants today haha
Me: … are you serious…?
Friend: Yeah… I was walking home and the FLOODGATES… just opened up…I got half of it in the toilet tho.  The other half is drying out on my pants outside and my boxers
Me: … 23 years old and peed your pants.
Friend: Yeah…

I didn’t know what to say to the guy.  I was just in shock and disbelief.  If it was 10 years ago, I would have just joined ranks, pointed and laughed at him.  Although, you can’t really blame the guy… when you gotta go, you gotta go.  And to use another cliche: once you pop, the fun don’t stop!

There are probably many of you thinking, “How are you possibly going to think of a Gospel Connection for this story?”  I asked myself that very same question since yesterday.  The main reason why I didn’t post this when I heard the story is ’cause I had a hard time thinking of a GC until now.  I was half-tempted to just end this post with “No Gospel Connection today, just an important Life Lesson: don’t pee your pants.”  But then, through some divine intervention, I was reminded of a story of my own in where I peed my pants as well.  Here goes:

When I was in elementary school, my brother and I visited Korea for the first time without our parents.  Our relatives took us to the beach, and in Korea, that’s apparently a big deal (or at least it was at the time).  Our aunts and uncles told us to pack for a couple days because we were going to make a mini-vacation out of it.  The first night we get there, my uncle wants to celebrate the fact that his nephews from America were visiting, so he decides to give us beer.  Mind you, I am around 8 years old and my brother is 10.

For many reasons, we couldn’t refuse.  Anyone familiar with Korean culture, you almost RARELY say no when an elder offers you alcohol (even if you are 8).  To add to that, my uncle was one of those people you just didn’t say no to.  I still remember my first sip of beer.  OB Lager (Korean beer) in a small metallic bowl.  Before the night was through, I’m pretty sure I had at least 3 bottles.  Honestly, I don’t remember much after that initial sip (Yeah, yeah… “Oh~ future pastor blacked-out when he was in 3rd grade~”  We all make mistakes.  Or in my case, were forced to make them haha).  Needless to say, I passed out shortly afterwards.

When I woke up in the wee hours of dawn, I felt something uncomfortable in the groinal area.  The feel around my pants and realize they are wet.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t rain the night before, nor was there a window/door open to let any precipitation trickle indoors if it had anyway.  Then it hits me: I peed my pants.  Being the lazy kid I was at that age, I don’t bother to wash myself or change.  Getting up, rummaging through my luggage, causing a ruckus, potentially waking everyone else up who were still sleeping to be confronted with my embarrassment… none of these were viable options.  So what did I do?  I just fall back asleep hoping my pants would be dry by the time I woke up again.  Lo and behold, my genius plan worked.  (I know, I know, not the proudest moment of my youth either).

Gospel Connection: Often times we come to points in our lives where we think we’re competent enough to manage them ourselves.  We feel like we have control and we tell ourselves, “I got this.  I’m good.”  Then we’re faced with moments not unlike those mentioned above, and we’re humbled from the shock of having made such a juvenile mistake.  Then that thought process turns to, “I just couldn’t help myself.”  For some of us, our natural reaction is to just “get over it” and move on.  Others choose to continue to lie there in their own filth.  Both responses overlook the gravity of the human condition and too easily brush off this thing called “sin.”  Thank God for our sake that Christ’s answer on the Cross was not as casual.

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September 21, 2011

The Connecticut Confederates

In my previous entry I shared about why I stopped blogging back in high school/college.  This entry will articulate one of the reasons why I decided to get back into it.  Enjoy!

A couple days ago, I stumbled upon a particular blog that had me hooked from the get-go.  For sake of anonymity, let’s call this blogger PA.  Why did PA have me hooked to his blog?  Much like myself, he is involved in ministry, but is far along his life-path than I am along mine.  He is married, has five children, and is the senior pastor of a growing church.  With solely those 3 qualifications/characteristics right there, you can already tell that he would have a plethora of stories to tell… and he does.  Since day one, I’ve been glued to my screen reading countless stories (mainly about his family) that are both hysterical and horrifying.

My parents asked me on a number of occasions during my childhood and teenage years how many kids I wanted when I had a family of my own.

Without hesitation, I would reply: Six.

Their reaction: [short pause] Good luck finding a wife.

Why did I (or do I still?) want six kids?  Initially, it was because I had been caught up in volleyball fever during my high-school-heyday.  For those of you who’ve never played or seen organized volleyball, there are six players on each side of the court.  Essentially, I wanted to be able to breed and grow my own volleyball team- as if there was gonna be a professional league of family volleyball teams in the distant future, I wanted my kids to dominate said league.  I would name my team, “The Connecticut Confederates.”  Why you ask?  Three reasons:

  1. I’m from Connecticut and we’ve never had our own professional sports team.  (We’ve always had a baseball-identity crisis sandwiched between the Yankees and Red Sox, and we share the Patriots with five other states… I don’t know about you, but I hated sharing as a kid).
  2. Confederates would be an ironic mascot to represent a team from Connecticut.  God has a sense of humor, why can’t I?
  3. I was always a fan of alliteration.

Having decided to go into full-time ministry 1.5 years ago, I began to lose hope in this dream of mine.  I’ve heard it say that it takes a net worth of over $1 million to raise one child during the course of his/her life.  Let’s face it, it’s not like I’m going to be bringing in the big bucks here either on the path I’m headed.  So I convinced myself to be “realistic” and settled for the hope of having just three children. (Note: this is not to minimize the joy of having just one or two children. My argument here is not “more children = more happiness and/or value.” Please don’t be offended if you are the proud parent of one or two children!)

Then I read PA’s blog.  Given my circumstances, I may be at a very similar position to where he was at the age of 23.  Now, he’s the proud father of five beautiful children.  Lord willing, I could still have six children.  Maybe all I have is one.  What if my future wife and I cannot bear our own children?  What if I continue my ministry solo?  The Apostle Paul was celibate and actually encouraged Christians to remain single (1 Cor. 7)**.  The point is, I don’t know what my life will look like in the next 10, 20, or 50 years.  The only constant I know I will have is Jesus himself.

**This is a less common spiritual gift, so for those of you worrying about whether or not you are called to it, you’re probably not (seeing as how you’re worrying about it).  So you can stop sweating bullets now.

Gospel Connection: The Lord provides.  No matter what.  As if the Cross wasn’t enough, I am faced with countless blessings intruding my every day.

September 19, 2011

Hello Blogworld, I’m back.

All throughout high school I used to use blog site ‘X’.  For all the eProp fans out there, you know which one I’m talking about.

But ever since I got to college, I stopped using it.  Why?  Probably for any one or combination of the following reasons:

  1. Facebook was invented.  GG.
  2. People stopped using ‘X’ (see #1).
  3. ‘X’ got really high-tech and complicated.
  4. People used to be able to see who visited their site at exactly what time of which day.  I didn’t like the fact the people knew I stalked them.
  5. I got lazy and stopped rambling about my thoughts.

Given my personality, I knew that #5 was the real reason why I stopped blogging.  In these past couple of weeks, I began to reflect on why I grew lazy of writing/sharing my thoughts.  Then I started to remember the types of things I would blog about.  I can’t access my old ‘X’ account any more (sadness…), but if I were able to, I know what types of entries I would find:

  • Pictures of hot celebrity women that I would caption “My future wife <3.”
  • Pictures of expensive cars I would covet (side note: I used to want 7 cars, one for each day of the week).
  • Posts consisting of one phrase emboldened in a large font, underlined and italicized, saying something about school being cancelled because of snow or that summer vacation had arrived.

Reliving these hormonal teenage years and rehashing these desires was an embarrassing 15 minutes.  But it finally hit me on why I stopped blogging.  I had nothing worth writing about.  Sure I would receive tens of comments and double the amount of eProps per each post (except for those fools who only gave one eProp… who does that?), but in the end, what did that matter?  Even my thoughts were rooted in shallow soil (Matt. 13; Mark 4Luke 8).  I felt bad for my followers for having given them an insight to the life of a silly, immature, young boy.

Does that mean I’m a grown man now with an abundance of wisdom to impart?  Most likely not.  But what I am more aware of is how Jesus changes the way I live.  Even the way I blog.  Hopefully, this will be the start of such reflection.

Gospel Connection: For every entry I will attempt to make a Gospel Connection (GC) relating that particular episode to Gospel truth.  Ironically, the GC of my first return entry is the realization that the Gospel does (or at least should) have a connection to everything I encounter in life.  If I’m not seeing life through a lens of truth, where does that leave me?