A Not-So-Happy Father’s Day

By John K. Lee

When I woke up this morning, it felt much like any other Sunday. As usual, my oldest boy woke me up at the butt-crack of dawn. Together we strolled downstairs and I prepared him his favorite oatmeal. For the next few hours we ran around the house goofing around until it was time to get ready for church. Next, the wife and I went through the mad dash of packing diaper bags, getting toddler and baby dressed, then shoving them into the car so I could make Sunday Morning Men’s Group. During that hour before worship service, the brothers and I had a very lively conversation that started with the topic of confidence and ended with us tossing friendly jabs at one of the fellas from that unfortunate part of California some refer to as ‘The Yay Area’. Following Sunday School, it was off to do some praise and hear God’s Word being preached. Same old, same old, right? Not quite.

The sermon this Sunday was preached by John Huddle. John happens to be pastor at Westchester Church of the Nazarene and he also works with World Vision. During the sermon, he shared the challenging story of how his dedication to the supremacy of holy scripture forced him to make a hard decision that some feel alienates a segment of the population that he has immense compassion for – homosexuals. In essence, the conflict came about when World Vision officially announced that it would allow the employment of individuals who are in same-sex unions. Shortly after, and because of the leanings of men like John Huddle, this decision was overturned and World Vision returned to its original stance on purity/abstinence for all single employees. While the decision has been lauded by more conservative evangelicals, those who lean more liberal in their theology have expressed disappointment and have formally severed ties with the decades old charity.

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Sometimes God Doesn’t Heal All Things

 By John K. Lee

A little over 2 years ago, while laid up in a hospital emergency room in Baldwin Park, I was forced to take a hard look at my life and how I’d ended up there. With needles poking me and monitors beeping all around, I was terrified that I’d leave my then pregnant wife without husband and my unborn son fatherless. While the doctors were explaining to me that I had something called atrial fibrillation, all I could think about was the profound sense of regret I felt because I knew that I was fully responsible for where I’d ended up. I kept thinking: widow wife, bastard son, widow wife, bastard son–ALL MY FAULT!
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Obviously, I didn’t need to pay the ferryman to cross the river Styx that night. The doctors were able to stabilize me and after a long night at the hospital, they sent me home. Like most men who just dodged a major bullet, I thanked God profusely (whom at the time I was not really on speaking terms with), made a lot of apologies & promises to my wife, and then pretty much went back to dysfunctional life as usual.

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A Quemex Christmas

Quemex is a watch and clock making company from China, founded in 1984.

By John K. Lee

It was the early `90s. Socially conscious hip-hop was being phased out by hardcore gangsta rap. Z Cavaricci and Jimmy Z were the brands that the cool kids were rocking. I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but I must’ve been in junior high, because these things were starting to become really important to me.

In those days my grandparents occupied the spare bedroom downstairs. I remember one winter morning when my grandfather asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Normally, I’d need some time to think about this, but this year I knew exactly what I wanted. Before he could even finish asking, I flew upstairs to my bedroom and frantically flipped through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated For Kids to find the ad for the ultimate Christmas present – a Swatch watch!

For those of you youngsters who don’t remember how popular Swatch watches were, let me tell you, back in the day, this watch was THE accessory to have. If you had one, or multiple ones (assuming that you had that kind of money), and a pair of Jordans then you were stylin’. The only problem was, the price for this watch was pretty steep. Nevertheless, I knew that good ol’ grandad wouldn’t let me down.

So in my best Korean, I explained how I wanted the white one with the florescent, Jackson Pollock-esque, design on the straps. (I know. In retrospect, this sounds pretty lame. But, in those days that color combination was the truth). I even ripped out the page for him to take to the store so he made sure to get it right.

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Act Like Men: Day One Reflections

By John K. Lee

It’s a little past Midnight.  I just got back from the first day of the Act Like Men conference and I don’t know how to feel about what I’d just experienced.  Pastor James Macdonald appeared to be the point man for the evening.  Until this conference, I’d never heard of this gentleman, but his alpha male charisma and hipster wardrobe instantly gave off an air of casual gravitas that I could see people being drawn to.  While I must admit that all of his raspy, drill sargent-esque, RAH, RAH, RAH got me riled up, he struck me as a hulking Goliath where I relate more to underdogs like David.

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Famed evangelist, Greg Laurie, would follow.  He did his usual thing–solid gospel message punctuated by an altar call.  Pepper in some spirited praise music, and everything was tied up with an introduction to, and some witty banter between, the entire roster of speakers from today and for tomorrow.  That was the end of the first session.

Leaving the Long Beach Convention Center, I felt a little numb.  Though I wish I walked away having learned more about manhood, the truth is the whole time I’d been thinking about the man whom God originally entrusted with this task–my father.  The only reason I was taking the unpleasant stroll through memory lane was because I knew there would be no Day 2 of the conference for me.  Instead, I’d be seeing my father for the first time in almost two years.

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There Are Monsters Among Us

 By John K. Lee

Photo Credit: Bill Melendez

Photo Credit: Bill Melendez

About the same time each year, my shoulders become tense with subconscious anticipation.  The sun-worn skin on the back of my neck tingles.  I sense something coming.  When I leave the house it’s apparent that the buttery warmth of summer is giving way to a crisp, less forgiving, chill.  The days are shorter.  The nights are long.  I can almost smell it.  In fact, when I close my eyes and take it in, I get hints of…of…chocolate?

That’s when a tired voice snatches me out of my revelry to ask, “Do you want paper or plastic?”  Immediately, I’m brought back to reality.  I then realize that the aroma is nothing more than the unintentional potpurri of assorted, pre-packaged, candy packs on a seasonal display behind me.  As I quickly pay the checkout clerk, I’m subtly reminded that [please read the remainder of the sentence in a creepy pirate voice] Halloween be upon us!

All jokes aside, as followers of Christ, this day can be confusing.  And while there is no consensus on how believers choose to collectively observe and/or ignore this pseudo-holiday, I think that we can all agree that, in America, pop culture’s influence on how we view this strange appropriation of a pagan solstice celebration is still very strong.  After all, when I think of ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, my thoughts range from the nostalgic (á la It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), to the sinister (i.e., 1980s era urban legends of devil worshipers sacrificing neighborhood cats).  So in the spirit of the season, instead of writing the expected 5 Tips for Harvest Partying Like It’s 1999 or Hell House Evangelism:  How To Scare the Bejesus Out and The Holy Spirit In, I want to ask you if you’ve ever really considered this question–what kind of monster are YOU?

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