Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Perfect Gift of Love!

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, 
then he will sit upon this glorious throne... He will place the sheep 
at his right hand and the goats at his left.” (Matthew 25: 31-33)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

How have we grown with Christ and what difference have we noticed in our life through Jesus last year?

Believe it or not, every year, we grow with him. Christian life begins as we prepare Christ’s birth in Bethlehem for our new life. After we celebrate his birth in Bethlehem, we grow with Jesus who was baptized in Jordan River as we remember our baptism. And we continually grow following him who healed the sick, fed the hungry and taught about the Kingdom of God through his words as well as through his whole life. 

Then we touch the deepest part of our unavoidable reality, sin and death, watching his suffering and death on the cross. However, later on, we also experience the power of resurrection through Jesus that moves us from the human reality to the divine reality which goes eternally. Then as Jesus was ascended into heaven, we grow continually following the guidance of the Holy Spirit as a church together waiting for Christ’s coming back to us as a King of the universe! 

So now we just celebrated the last season of Christian Calendar, “Christ the King Sunday!”, as a people of God’s Kingdom. And a question comes, “what if Jesus come in real today and sit on the throne as our King, and ask, ‘What have you done with the gifts that I have given you?’”. Another words, “How have you been changed as you follow and live in my words?” Another words, “How much have you given up yourself for me - your will, your desire, your joy on earth - and filled your life with My way, My truth and My life?”

I think I cannot say boldly to him right now, “Absolutely, Jesus, my Lord!”, because there are still lots of things that I want to have from this world and lots of places where I want to travel. And I can name it more. No wonder why my heart was pumping faster when I received the email invitation for “Black Friday Big Deals”.  

And now I am wondering which side I might be placed after I am revealed by God’s righteousness. With sheep or goats? Who can claim that “I am righteous”? No one! It is really bad news! However, hear the Good News! God blesses us with a new beginning with Christ’s birth in Bethlehem! Our new year begins with Christ again through this season of Advent! And we want to prepare this well now. How?  

“As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord,
let us always remember why He came.
And as we present our gifts to our friends and all our loved ones,
let us offer Him the holy gift of praise.
Allelu, alleluia... Praise the Lord!!”

As we offer Him our praise, let us sacrifice our lives
so that all the world may know of His love.
For His birth at Bethlehem was a gift from God to man,
thank you Father for your perfect gift of love.
Allelu, alleluia... Praise the Lord!”
 (Christmas Praise, by Jim Murray)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, how do you feel as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in this season of Advent? I feel like I am standing in a big stratum to begin another new game after I messed up the previous game because of my strong human will! Don’t you feel the same?

So now, I want to invite all of you to this new journey with Christ for another big game. Join me with an anticipation of new!

In Christian Love,
Pastor Kyochul

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sow the Seeds with Thanksgiving!

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:5)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

One day, when I was driving late at night, I saw the harvesters with the combine were still working in the field. Wow! It is truly a season of harvest, whether it is day or night, because the field is full of fruits of this year! Are you enjoying watching the waves of the golden field around us now? They are dancing waiting to be harvested! Then I realized that I was singing with an old thanksgiving season hymn in my early Christian years in Korea,

 “Far and near the fields are teeming with the waves of ripened grain;
far and near their gold is gleaming over the sunny slope and plain.
Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us Lord to Thee we cry;
Send them now the sheaves to gather, Ere the harvest time pass by!”
(J. O. Thompson, 1885)

It is now truly the season of thanksgiving! And we are celebrating!! But as I prepare to celebrate the season of thanksgiving, it makes me ponder... “what kind of fruits I am harvesting now in my spiritual field? Is my spiritual field full of golden grains of joy, love, peace kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as Paul listed in Galatians 5:22-23, now?” As a Wesleyan perfectionist (?), it did not take long to answer. “No, it could be better than that!” How about you all?

Whatever or however we are harvesting now, we are still thankful for what God has done for us this year. Even our God provides another day and another year to grow in Him bearing more of those fruits of the Holy Spirit for the Kingdom eternal. But we harvest what we plant as the Holy Spirit makes it alive in us in our spiritual field!

As followers of Jesus Christ, we plant the five spiritual seeds. Those are the seeds of our faith in God through five simple practices as we put God first in our daily life - prayer, presence, gifts, service and witness. As we celebrate this season, are we ready to plant those seeds again committing ourselves to God little deeper and stronger?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the season of celebrating what our living God has done for us through this year as we give thanks to Him with joy! But also this is the season of the preparation for our new days as we plant more seeds in our spiritual field. And through those seeds, someone’s life may be touched and transformed in their faith journey to the Kingdom eternal. What a great life it would be when we find a joy in that!

So now, I want to invite all of you to plant those seeds for our new season remembering what God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ, our savior. Join me!

In Christian Love,
Pastor K

P.S. Just in case if anyone wonder what those seeds mean, here we go...
-The Seeds of Prayer: Pray for the church, the pastor and staff, family, friends, neighbors, and the country and the world personally as well as communally; daily, weekly or regularly with the heart of Christ.
-The Seeds of Presence: Attend worship service weekly or regularly, come to the bible studies, participate church events in the time of happy or sad, to celebrate, to support, to be nurtured and be equipped for the ministry of the Church.
-The Seeds of Gifts: Give tithe (One tenth of your earning) or beyond or proportionally, regularly setting aside them first as a cheerful giver as well as give generously to support other miscellaneous projects for the ministry of the church.
-The Seeds of Service: Share the gifts from God for the ministry of the church through the various leadership areas, i.e., teaching, serving, leading, visiting, caring, organizing, cleaning, praising, guiding and through all sorts of service opportunities throughout the year.
-The Seeds of Witness: Share the story of Jesus Christ through your life with anyone around you, in the church as well as outside of the church, to strengthen the believers as well as to connect those who do need God in their life through your story.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Only the Text can interrogate me...

JMI Conference 2015 Part I... on Human Pride
"Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert"

JMI Conference 2015 Part II... on Human Pride
"Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert"

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him....." (Philippians 3:7-9a)

As I had observed how our United Methodist Community of faith had responded to the postmodern world for last couple of decades, a concern had begun to grow, "Are we now transforming the postmodern world with the message of Jesus Christ or are we being deformed by the postmodern world and its ideology?". 

One day, I have heard about someone who truly have brought the Christian response to the postmodern world. Her name is Rosaria Butterfield, who was once standing forefront line of the postmodern ideology with pride but now transformed by the Text of the New and Old Testament, asking a question, "what if it is true?", honestly and humbly.

Rosaria is a postmodern day Paul who once lost but now was found through an unusual encounter with Jesus like Paul who did on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians. Rosaria is a highly intelligent woman who had taught English in Syracuse University as a feminist philosopher keeping a lesbian life style. However, her life was transformed as she let the divine light from the Text reflect on her whole self, every corner and every inch of it. Now God is using her as an instrument to bring a divine response to this me-centered postmodern world like Paul to the Roman world two thousand years ago. 

We need to pay attention to her voice if we are to prepare the response to the postmodern world as a body of Christ.           

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Exercise Your Heart!

(from the road sign between Princeton and Markesan on the highway 73 during summer 2018)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10)

For quite a few years as I have watched the struggles in the Christian churches in North America, I have wondered whether those are what God wants us to be. Even the community has not been transformed by the presence of all Christians now. Still challenged by the same hatred issues, the addition issues, the homeless issues and all kinds of ism issues around us and in us, we have lost the deep sense of who we are. 

Are we still OK to be called as a church, the body of Christ? 

If we are not comfortable to answer it, how can we be a church together, as a body of Christ, where God's true peace and love dwells, holding the transforming power of our living God again?

I was wondering, "what if we have a heart of Jesus Christ..." 

But "how can we?" and I looked up.

"Exercise Your Heart!" 

The world knows it better..

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Something More...

"Where do we go when hope runs out... when we are empty... when there is nothing left?"

Sometimes, in our life, we might have asked this question to ourselves looking for a true source of power. We remember one person in human history, from the Old Testament time. His name is David. He was a shepherd when he was a little boy. However, with God's help, he was able to defeat Goliath in battle. Then as he grew older and stronger, he became a king of Israel because God chose him to be a king. Why? Because God saw his heart from his younger age. 

But what kind of heart he had? 

Unlike what we can just imagine, seating on a king's chair for David was not always soft and comfy because he had to confront with the life and death situation all through his life time standing on the front line in every wars. No doubt about him looking for a refuge and strength as he dealt with that! Amazingly, he found a place and sang this song. 

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

Then it was so! 

Several thousand years after, still some people find that place as their refuge and strength. It is amazing! 

But are we one of them?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On Christ, the Solid Rock.....

“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God”
(Mark 10:27b, NLT)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I have really worked hard to hold my summer season as long as possible so that I can enjoy the season of green as much as possible; however, I realized that it is truly beyond my ability. I wasn’t even able to slow it down. I wondered, “who is able?”  

After a few weeks of rain, I noticed that the temperature has changed. And I had to say to the summer, “See you next year!” The autumn season is now right in front of us or maybe around us already to prepare us for our long Wisconsin winter because some of the trees in our towns are get brighter and more beautiful in colors. Of course, I can’t even do that, I mean, coloring those with the splendid autumn colors. Only God can do!

However, there is something I can do, I realize. I can be enjoying it, giving thanks to God for the beauty of each season, and finding something best things that God has put behind all those around us in each new seasons and then giving thanks to God again and again!”

It is truly who we are, the people of God, who see the world differently, finding something new and something eternal in human reality and giving thanks to God. This is who we are. We are the people who are able to see something different through the new eyes that God has put in us so that we can see something best in each season like the beauty of the autumn colors. However, it is not all. With the eyes of the Holy Spirit in us, we see something divine beyond all those beauty of God’s creation on earth. I wondered, “what is it?”

Many years ago, Moses and the people of Israel were standing in front of the sea. Was that a beautiful view of the sea  and fresh air coming from the ocean they saw and felt? No, it was not that simple because the Pharaoh, the mighty King of Egypt, with his cruel army, chased after the people of Israel to bring them back to the slavery again or to get them! There was no way out - In front of them, the Red Sea with the devouring waves and behind them, the huge king’s army with his horses and chariots, his charioteers and his troops.

If you were with the people of Israel at the moment, what could you see?

Many people saw themselves as “being drowned” because of the Pharaoh’s army. But one person saw the path through the water to the “Promised Land” because of the new eyes through the Holy Spirit in the presence of God in his life! His name was Moses as you might know.

       “Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so that Israelite can walk  through the middle of the sea on dry ground”.... Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side! (Exodus 14:16 & 21-22)

Then what happened? They have given thanks to God remembering what God has done to them to save them from the bondage of the world for thousands years, and they do it even now. That is right! We are the people of God who see the Promised Land through the water in front of us like Moses because of the presence of God in our everyday lives despite of whatever we have in front of us or behind us. We are the people who walk on the dry ground as God opens up the new path to the Kingdom of God without fear through the life’s challenges and struggles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what do you see now as we stand in front of all those changing season with challenges in our lives? Does anyone even feel like standing in front of the Red Sea or being chased by the cruel Egyptian Army behind you? Fearful and stressful? We have God with whom everything is possible and He put a new eyes in us to see the divine reality. Now, in October, as we get into the new season, we move into much deep place of God’s presence standing on Jesus Christ, the solid rock. Come and join us!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor K