Hate Subsided from the Heart

Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “The Sinner’s Friend”

By Juan Zung

 

Sometimes being right isn’t really the point. Sometimes being right isn’t even right.

In the case of gay rights, the fight is already over. Americans, ever devoted to the principles of freedom and opportunity, have reached a tipping point. Larger systems will take time to work out the details. But we see, in pure numbers, even among evangelical and conservative young people, the change has already happened. People accept that LGBT Americans deserve the same rights as straight ones. [1] This, I believe, is the right position.

The problem, and it’s a big problem, is that a lot of people that we still love still aren’t there yet, and might never get there. They still hold what many of us consider to be wrong and bigoted ideas.

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I’m actually lucky. My parents have a “live-and-let-live” approach to other peoples’ love lives. They’d never interfere with who’s marrying who. It’s not a moral position, but, as they’ve told me, they just don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s future.

But other folks, like my spouse, have overtly anti-gay activist parents. Parents that lament her pro-gay positions and have engaged her in emotional debates on the politics, theology and morality of homosexuality. It’s easy for me to just write them off.

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Even The Worst of Us: Reflections on Christine Hung’s Sermon “Better Not Bitter”

There’s a question, a powerful question, that I’ve had to ask myself: If I could undo the bad things that have happened to me, would I?

The answer should be easy. It should be, yeah, for sure. Getting rid of as much bad stuff as you can is so logical, so pure in its obviousness. Who wouldn’t erase their pain if they could?

Reminds me of a movie:

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" by Skah-Fee Studios

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by Skah-Fee Studios

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A Theology of Fun (!): Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “Vision Sunday”

By Juan Zung

Last Sunday, Pastor Albert preached about “Vision Sunday!” A vision where church is a party. Where church is fun!

But what exactly is a fun church?

And how does one make a church fun?

Big questions. I don’t have the answers. But I googled it. And found some interesting stuff.

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Diffusion of Responsibility: Reflections on Christine Hung’s Sermon “Heart to Heart”

By Juan Zung

Part One: What I Did

One night, not so long ago, I heard a woman scream. I’m pretty sure she said “Help Me!” By the way her voice tailed off, it seems like she was in a fasting moving car. If she was in trouble, it would have been important for me to get outside asap if I’d have any chance of identifying the vehicle.

I hesitated.

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If you can get everyone to laugh together, you can get everyone to get serious together

By Sam Lam

Take a seat. Make a friend.

This entry is a reaction/response/reflection to this past Sunday’s sermon. You can listen to it right here.

The sermon was about being empathetic towards people. Instead of being a friend that goes “Oh, I feel sorry for you” when something bad happens, what about being the type of friend that engages in the situation, cries with one another and builds a haven of comfort?

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Small Unit Cohesion: Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “Shoulder to Shoulder”

by Juan Zung

In the (almost) beginning, a farmer named Cain killed his brother, a shepherd named Abel. [1] Joseph Campbell says we’ve never been the same since. [2] In short, we kinda used to be communists, but then we kinda all became capitalists.

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A Drink with Jesus: Reflections on Albert Hung’s Sermon “Everyone Matters to God”

by Juan Zung

Hey, so, here’s an interesting thought. What if the Samaritan woman at the well is the new Jacob? [1]

Let me explain.

Here’s the story: Jesus is at Jacob’s Well. That same classic pick-up place where Jacob first met the love of his life, Rachel. And it’s at that same well where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman.

Wilhelm Wachtel - Rachel And Jacob At The Well

Wilhelm Wachtel – Rachel And Jacob At The Well

And, just like Jacob, our heroine is a master manipulator, the trickiest of tricksters.

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Redeemed Survivor: An Epilogue

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By Johnny Cabrera

Last Sunday, I preached the final message in a sermon series called “Against All Odds: Stories of Survival and Redemption.” The main point: Every crisis is a spiritual crisis, a test of faith, an opportunity to grow. And whereas I had other church members share their stories in the three previous sermons, for this sermon I shared my own tale. And it was harder than I thought it would be.  It was hard to share the necessary details in the short time I had.  It was even harder to recount such a painful time in my life.

I will not recap what I shared in the sermon, though you can hear the sermon and my story it in its entirety on our church website. No, I am writing this as a followup, as a way to fill in some details that I simply did not have time to explain. I know if I were hearing someone else tell this story, of many years under a corrupt church leader in a toxic church environment, and how he finally escaped and healed from it all, I would have asked me a lot of questions. So with that, some explanations.

Were touching women inappropriately and insulting people in church the worst things this former pastor did?

No, not by any means.  There is much worse, and as Ephesians 5:12 points out, there are some things people have done in secret that are too shameful to even mention.

Did my parents know about the abuse I was enduring from the pastor?

Yes, they did.  However, it wasn’t perceived as abuse at the time, by my parents or me.  Don’t get me wrong: I often felt a terrified hatred toward this man, and I was sometimes sick to my stomach with dread at having to go to school or church or basketball practice and face him.  Still, my parents had so much misguided respect for him that whatever seemed like harsh treatment was explained as “tough love” or “spiritual challenging.”  Eventually, I developed my own misguided respect for him, believing that everything he had done to me in my youth was for my benefit.  Obviously, that was not ever the case.

And this has been one place where God, in His amazing grace, has brought healing to my family: I have been able to forgive my parents for allowing my sister and I to endure years and years of this torture, and my parents have been able to receive this forgiveness and forgive themselves.  And hey, there is an upside to what all this verbal and emotional abuse did to me: You will hardly ever see me taking myself too seriously.

To read more Q&A from Johnny, Click Here

On Becoming a Bona Fide Minimalist(?)

By Anh Trinh

People who sit near me during church service will know that I tend to doodle in my note book. It’s been a habit since my early days in grade school. There’s no elaborate psychological explanation to this. I simply get bored…very easily. My apologies to Pastor Albert. It’s not that the sermons are not engaging but I thrive on visual stimulus quite often. Plus, it helps me to remember the meat of the sermon. It’s basically food for my long-term memory. Below are a few pen sketches I managed to scribble up during the last couple of sermons.

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As I was sketching and listening, I realized how timely the message was in accordance to our recent move. Jenny and I realized that we were in possession of a lot of “stuff” that were not essential to our lives anymore. As I was cleaning out my office area, I started to find myself throwing out things without much hesitation. That may not be a big deal to some but it is for me. I grew up with parents that really latched onto things. They are not hoarders per se but they come from a generation where things didn’t come easily to them and they deeply relished on the things that came into their possession. As a result, a lot of that behavior and mindset was passed onto to me. It took me almost 20 years to start breaking out of this mold. Continue reading

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