How ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and ‘Boy Meets World’ help lay the foundation of my faith

16a88725c8c51c54b4422c6147025dc6Samuel Lam is a Bay Area native living in Southern California working in sports media. He blogs on many topics, including sports, music, movies, travel and especially faith. Sam also runs his own personal sports blog on his free time.

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Check out his blogs:

http://greeneggsandlam.wordpress.com/
http://butattheendoftheday.com/

Write a blog on a log, Sam I am

Last night as I was driving back home, I started to think about my childhood and the shows I watched back then. A lot of the shows that I watched were shows every kid watched. I had my Power Rangers, Simpsons, Family Matters and all other shows in between. Man, the 1990s had great television.

As I was thinking about it, there were two shows that really stood out to me. And the reason why they stood out was because that even though they were sitcoms and their intent was to be funny, they knew that at times, they had to be serious. They understood that life isn’t all fun and games and there are real issues.

I first got home last night and started to re-watch two particular episodes that stood in my mind. I remembered watching those episodes as a kid. I remember crying watching it. I don’t…

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The Church of Today, Pt. 3

By Johnny Cabrera

I am reflecting on the life of my ancestors today, on my great-aunt’s 83rd birthday. Sadly, it is also the day her sister, my Abuelita (grandmother), passed away 11 years ago. It is a bittersweet day: we thank God for every year we get to have with my Tia, yet we remember that my Abuelita is already gone. She went into a coma August 21st, 2012, while I was teaching English in Taiwan for the summer. I never got to say goodbye, and returned just in time to see her last days. Still, I am grateful for the time we did have with her, especially the last 7 years of her life, during which she lived in my family’s house.

photo credit: metacharis on deviantart

photo credit: metacharis on deviantart

I could tell of the epic journey of two young ladies–my Abuelita and my Tia–from way down south in Mexico to Los Angeles, seeking a better life for themselves and the families they were to raise. I could tell of their struggles to raise these families–7 kids altogether, including my mom–both of them as single mothers. And I could tell of the heartaches and illnesses they endured throughout the years, and how they survived. But today, I mostly reflect on the unshakable faith in God they passed on to their children, and which many of them carry on for themselves.

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The Church of Today, Pt. 2

Pastor Johnny is a Mexican-American guy, married to a Korean woman, with Korexican kids. Loves Jesus. Committed to youth and community engagement. Writes and plays music. Follows sports. Misses acting. Appreciates feedback. This post is Part Two of a three-part series titled: The Church of Today. See Part One HERE.

Catterfly Still Processing

I wonder what most teens in our city were doing this morning. I am sure some were up, maybe even up to something good. I know there are other churches, at least one or two, with sizable youth ministries. Maybe a lot of kids were there. I wonder because I spent the morning with a group of teens who have challenged and blessed me, and I cannot imagine spending that time any better.

On the night before we departed for our youth group mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico, a realization descended on me like a tree on an unsuspecting lumberjack: I felt no desire to go. The youth pastor was done, and we hadn’t even started yet.

And it did not stop there. A few times during our adventure, I knew I was at the edge of me. I had thought of myself as tough and accustomed to missions like…

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You are Killing Your Loved Ones

 

By Jeff Kepeli

Your loved ones may be slowly killing you. How you ask? By loving you too much.

Wait, what?! Yes, your loved ones may be slowly killing you by loving you too much. We’ve all heard about, or have experienced loved ones, (fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc.), that are a little too overprotective or show favoritism in one way or another. Sometimes we are on the receiving end of that favoritism and we do not even realize what’s happening. But what if I told you that your loved ones are actually keeping you from a world of riches by loving you just a little TOO much?

Pictured below is a small book that I have been reading for the past year or so, Jesus Calling by Sarah YoungIt is a Christian Devotional book written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Here is what Jesus said the other day:

Jesus Calling

ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging Hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one–as well as yourself. Joseph suffered terribly, as did his father, Jacob, because the father loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and they knew it! They hated Joseph and plotted against him. Ultimately, I used that situation for good, but Jacob and Joseph endured years of separation and suffering as a result of the father’s undisciplined favoritism. [CONTINUE READING HERE]

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Jeff Kepeli is in his 20′s living on the west coast of the U.S just trying to experience life to the fullest while attempting to help others along the way. He offers up some advice on getting through your 20′s alive, passes around some hope while doing so, and throws in a few “life hacks” here and there which will, he’s sure, be entertaining to us all. Everything from finances, to family, to spirituality; you suggest it, he’ll blog about it.

Check out his blog at seecao.wordpress.com

I Love You No Matter What

On July 21st, Pastor Johnny Cabrera preached on the topic of homosexuality and God. In an honest and generous talk, Pastor Johnny discussed the value of putting love ahead of judgment, as he understands Jesus did in the Bible.

Taking a pointed look at John’s depiction of Jesus and the Adulteress Woman, Johnny reiterated the roles of Christ’s followers: to love first and always, just as He did. We see Jesus’ own process of dealing with the outcast: to shield them, affirm them and implore them to turn towards God. Johnny exhorts us to be the first ones to step up and do the same, especially the first step of protecting those that are under attack.

Johnny concludes his sermon by reading the heartfelt story of Ryan Robertson. Ryan was a young gay, Christian man who was unintentionally taught by his Christian parents to hate his sexuality. And, as his mother states, “since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught him to hate himself.” His self-hatred lead to drug-addiction. And although Ryan was able to reconcile with his parents and God, he eventually succumbed to drug abuse and died of an overdose. His parents have a powerful message to us all.

In Pastor Johnny’s words, “We need to let people know that God’s not mad at them; He’s madly in love with them.”

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Hear Johnny’s Sermon HERE

The Messiness of Being a Church for the Unchurched

By Johnny Cabrera

Trinity’s very newly formed Local Impact Team had a great meeting this past Sunday, and we ended up talking about the challenge of really becoming a church for the unchurched.  Being that kind of church means sometimes welcoming risky people into the congregation, and we all agreed that, though this is the vision God has for us, as a congregation we are not yet ready for this.

However, the more and the sooner we can be ready, the more I believe God will honor that and we will see transformation in people’s lives!

Check out this interview with Pastor Jay Haizlip discussing the messiness of being a church for the unchurched: 

Photo Credit: Preachers of LA
Photo Credit: Preachers of LA

“I never want a church where you feel so safe you’d leave your purse unattended in the pews… One time a lady had her wallet stolen… I was kinda excited, yeah, thieves are coming to our church!” – Jay Haizlip (paraphrased)

A Woman’s Voice

By Christine Hung

Last Sunday, I gave the sermon for the worship service.

Every time Pastor Albert asks me to do this, my heart gets tight and I feel a knot in my stomach. It’s an agonizing process to write a sermon. I’ve heard one pastor say it’s like giving birth every week. Being six months pregnant I don’t know if I’d completely agree, but I understand his sentiments!

As agonizing as it is, it’s also an incredible blessing, because few things in my life demand such a high level of dependence on the Lord as getting up to the pulpit to share God’s Word. Interestingly, I find myself leaning on the Lord’s understanding just as much after giving the sermon as before. Because when I step down from the pulpit, a wave of insecurity plagues my mind as I ruminate over my performance.

Early next morning, I laid in bed, as I often do, and started conversing with the Lord. It started off with an acknowledgement that I felt incredibly dissatisfied with the sermon I had delivered. I invited the Lord to give light and direction as to why I felt that way. As I edited and re-edited my sermon during the week, the more my message started looking like Albert’s sermons. The content was mine, but the structure was not. I felt more and more, that I was losing my own voice. I admire and respect my husband’s ability to preach, and perhaps this led me to believe that I had to sound like him. Inevitably, the most common response I got after the sermon from close friends was, “It didn’t quite sound like you.”

How ironic that I had shared in my sermon that God created women differently than men. And that one of the ways He is glorified, is when we fulfill our purposes in the way he uniquely designed us. God made me a woman. He made me emotional, and relational, and gave me the ability to respond to the things around me with the deepest recesses of my heart. He gave me the longing to connect meaningfully with people as I communicate my thoughts, desires, and fears. But I had successfully squeezed my voice into something that was not me.

God taught me that morning that I am perfectly created to compliment the gifts of my husband, not to compete against it. I also sensed Him telling me that my voice, a women’s voice, is valued and precious when I am speaking from His Spirit.

It was a lesson well learned, not just for the development of my preaching skills, but also how I partner with my husband in all areas of my life.

My dialogue with the Lord left me encouraged that He was continually teaching and molding me into a woman of faith – into whom He could use to reveal His glory.

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Christine Hung is a locally licensed minister of the Nazarene Church. She’s a mother of three (soon to be four!), a wife, a teacher, a dear friend and the Director of Group Life at Trinity Church. 

Listen to Christine’s sermon HERE.

Christine and Albert, making sure their precious half-marathon medals aren’t actually made of chocolate

God made us beautiful, so why do we continue to hate?

Sam Lam graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism. Right now, He is looking for an opportunity to take his passion for sports writing to the next level. He is currently the news ticker operator at the NFL Network.

His blog  features a lot of random things swirling inside his head. It will feature sports, music, faith, random YouTube videos and a whole lot of things that are on his mind.

You can also follow him on Twitter @SamuelYLam (work account) or his personal account @phutmasterflex

Write a blog on a log, Sam I am

God is love. Love comes from God.

So if God is love, then what is love?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies,they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (New International Version)

That is love.

When God sees us, he doesn’t see the ugly. He sees us as beautiful.

The reason why I brought this up is because of a collective of recent events in this world.

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The Church of Today, Pt. 1

Pastor Johnny is a Mexican-American guy, married to a Korean woman, with Korexican kids. Loves Jesus. Committed to youth and community engagement. Writes and plays music. Follows sports. Misses acting. Appreciates feedback.

This post is Part One of a three-part series titled: The Church of Today. See Part Two HERE.

Catterfly Still Processing

While everyone one else is napping, I am blogging. And I’m happy with that decision.

So, next Sunday I am preaching a sermon called “Children of Hope.” It is part of our Family Ties series, encouraging strong family relationships by challenging everyone to do their part. Since I am the youth pastor, my job is to talk about the next generation: how they are to live and participate within their own (biological and church) families, and how those of older generations (their parents included) can guide them and raise them up.

My task is easy, right? I am the youth pastor, so of course I know what to say and how to challenge youth and adults alike to building stronger family bonds among us, right? Without hesitation, I can say that were it not for God working through one particular experience, I probably would have not much besides uninspired and…

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Pastor Albert Hung Preaches on Faith and Money

Albert Hung is the Lead Pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene, Monterey Park.

SANACS

The collective financial health of Christians, the Church and American society at large has suffered from a lack of knowledge and accountability. In response, a growing movement of Christian leaders has sought to turn the tide of this problem. Among them is Pastor Albert Hung of Trinity Church of the Nazarene. Recently he preached a sermon series titled “Lifestyles of the Rich and Faithful.”

This four part series includes talks on:

  1. How to Be Rich
  2. Live to Give
  3. Show Me the Money
  4. Why Money Matters 

Generally regarded as a fine teacher with a modest and considerate preaching persona, Pastor Albert discusses financial issues with unusual candor.

Devoting an entire month to the topic, each sermon takes on a different aspect of finances, money and faith.

“How to be Rich” looks at the biblical rational for a non-consumerist lifestyle.

In a show of…

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