Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?

By Samuel Lam

One of these things on this watch tells you the time.

Last week, Apple introduced the new Apple Watch. It’s a watch that acts like a smart phone. Except for the calling function, the watch tells time and helps keep track of many things. You can even purchase new things on the Apple Watch, including another Apple Watch. It’s totally unnecessary.

As we progress through technology and all these advances we have in the world, we start to lose a little sense of the way things were. Nobody needs this watch, but we’ve found another shortcut through life with these inventions. Some are great and have helped us improve our living. But at times, our dependency on our own natural skills has diminished.

I think that part of this is why we as a generation find it so hard to do difficult things. Or if you think about it, things seem difficult because we’ve de-sensitized our senses to things. What used to be common and natural has now become alien to us. We’ve lost our discipline because of our distractions.

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How I Found My Perfect Church

Is this perfection?

By Samuel Lam

This past Sunday, Pastor Albert started his sermon about churches in general and how some churches aim to be perfect. He spoke that how churches try so hard to put up an image of themselves as a church that was flawless. The pastor has a perfect sermon, the worship team is flawless, the building is massive and packed, the congregation doesn’t go through struggles in life. Everything we see at the church was supposed to be perfect.

However, Albert warned us that such expectations are foolish because perfection like that cannot be achieved. In fact, it doesn’t exist because we live in a world of imperfections. People make mistakes, struggle, go through numerous things that take away what we call “perfection.”

And in a way, the message was a great reminder for me because it brought me back to my personal journey to find the perfect church. But it’s not perfection by our standards set by society. It’s perfection in God’s eyes.

Perfection can be achieved. In fact, perfection already exists in our church. But we don’t realize it.

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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

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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The Heart Bore Witness

It’s hard for me to be optimistic about church. Even if the pastor is a friend and the congregation is friendly, I always expect to be offended and disappointed at some point during the service.

I guess I’m not alone though. According to Barna Research [1], the majority of unchurched people see Christians as:

  • anti-homosexual (91%)
  • judgmental (87%)
  • hypocritical (85%)
  • old-fashioned (78%)
  • too political (75%)
  • out of touch with reality (72%)
  • insensitive to others (70%)
  • boring (68%)

So, as my brick-and-mortar church continues their efforts to make themselves irresistible to the unchurched, I feel my guarded enthusiasm waiting for a reason to throw my hands up and mutter, “oh well, I knew it was too good to be true.” But, so far in Pastor Albert Hung’s series, I haven’t had to do that. He hasn’t staked a claim onto any of the “piss-me-off” issues that usually sink a sermon for me [2]. Instead he’s used one of his strengths — even handedness — to keep this conversation accessible for everyone in the pews.

Albert is a man of conviction, but not, from my impression, a man who needs to win every argument. He doesn’t need you to agree with him in order for him to feel satisfied with his own beliefs. And this is no small gift when it comes to trying to redirect the resources of 200 people who may each have their own budding concerns about the theological, financial, political, and relational impact of this change. It gives him the liberty to leave the divisive conversations for another time, and to focus his time on the pulpit on generating positive momentum.

In his last sermon he preached again from the book of Acts, and he shared three simple points [3]:

  1. Believers should not make it difficult for people to turn to God.
  2. People come to church looking for help.
  3. The purpose of the church is to help unite all of creation.

That first point touches on decades of frustration. It’s always been clear: to become a Christian, in the evangelical sense, is as simple as asking forgiveness and accepting Jesus. But to get to that point requires far more cultural, political and theological adaptation than most Christians are aware of. For instance, it’s problematic to be a pro-choice Christian; also it’s complicated to be a Christian who does not believe in biblical inerrancy; And if you’re gay?

But we see wisdom among the early Christians as they concluded that generations of traditions and rules, no matter how dear, can be set aside for the sake of helping people turn towards God. Because, though not impossible, it’s exceedingly rare for the rules and traditions of a faith to bear meaningful witness to the unchurched. It’s the heart that bears best.

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NOTES

[1] From unchristian by  David Kinnaman

[2] There are many issues that can fit in this category. At Trinity, Albert rarely preaches on political issues like gay marriage, gun control or elected officials. But I have a long list of theological issues that I can get annoyed by. For instance, the concept of an actual eternal hell where non-believers are sent to suffer a physical punishment for all of eternity.

[3] Along the way, he unpacked the word “unchurched” as preferable to:

  • unbeliever, because people that don’t go to church still believe in things
  • nonChristian, because a lot of Christians don’t go to church
  • lost, because that’s just offensive

[*] The title of this post takes secular humanist liberties with Acts 15:8, which in the original says, “And God who knows the heart bore witness to them.”

GHOZT WRITER

It’s hard for me to be optimistic about church. Even if the pastor is a friend and the congregation is friendly, I always expect to be offended and disappointed at some point during the service.

I guess I’m not alone though. According to Barna Research [1], the majority of unchurched people see Christians as:

  • anti-homosexual (91%)
  • judgmental (87%)
  • hypocritical (85%)
  • old-fashioned (78%)
  • too political (75%)
  • out of touch with reality (72%)
  • insensitive to others (70%)
  • boring (68%)

So, as my brick-and-mortar church continues their efforts to make themselves irresistible to the unchurched, I feel my guarded enthusiasm waiting for a reason to throw my hands up and mutter, “oh well, I knew it was too good to be true.” But, so far in Pastor Albert Hung’s series, I haven’t had to do that. He hasn’t staked a claim onto any of the “piss-me-off” issues that usually sink a sermon for…

View original post 453 more words