Posts filed under ‘About Life’
This morning was a new chapter in our lives as we helped Kristen move into her college dorm. But before we left home, as we usually do when a family member heads out for a long trip, we sent her off with a time of prayer. It just seems like yesterday when Kristen was a toddler and when I had to go off to business trips (collecting x-ray diffraction data at synchrotron sources–sorry for nerding!), she would pray, “God, please let Daddy come back safely and the airplane won’t crash.” Susanna and I would giggle and our little daughter would be offended that we laughed during a sincere moment of prayer. Now, our daughter is off to college and I’m praying, “God, please let Kristen come back safely!“ I’m sure she would have giggled if I had prayed such a prayer this morning!
As we were loading up the minivan with her belongings, it brought back memories of 1985 when I left home to head to UC Berkeley. Before I drove off, my dad read Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I could not help but to turn to that passage this morning to read it for her. So there we were this morning for this send-off prayer and as soon as I started, “Kristen, I want to share with you Isaiah 41:10,” Susanna starts to tear up. And then Kristen starts to tear up. And yes, truth be told, I start to tear up…
I started to tear up because at that moment, I recalled how true this passage has been for me from the moment my dad read it when I started that new chapter in my life. The past 27 years have been filled with many fears and times when I was dismayed. But God has strengthened, helped, and upheld me with His righteous right hand.
This morning, perhaps a part of me was also fearing this new chapter. Will she be safe from all the potential harm, physically and spiritually? Maybe I should have enrolled her in Taekwondo or something… Maybe I should have had more Father-Daughter talks where I would preach on about the wickedness of boys and men… Well, she had a rascally younger brother so I guess she knows a little bit of that already.
And now, as I think about how Isaiah 41:10 would help Kristen’s fears, I am being ministered to by this passage yet again for my fears at this new chapter of my life. I need to surrender our daughter into the righteous right hand of our Heavenly Father who will surely strengthen us and help us through it all…
Back in August of 1985, I was on the U.C. Berkeley campus looking for my chemistry lecture hall as a very fresh nerdy college student (here’s an old picture of that young lad!). I was also looking for friends and a purpose for “the rest of my life,” as I recall. Truth be told, the last thing that I was looking for was a church! I had been raised in a Christian home and was an officer for our church youth group but that didn’t mean much. (Our group was so small that if you carried a Bible in one hand and an offering in the other, you were elected an officer!)
Fast forward to 2011 and here I am, back in the Bay Area, a pastor now helping Gracepoint Ministries with various welcome events, training materials, and even a brand new discipleship curriculum for college students: Thrive! (the website is now being built so check it out here and there!)
I remember when Pastor Ed and Kelly Kang shared this exciting idea about Thrive with us at our church office a couple of months ago: “Don’t just survive–Thrive in college!“ Based on 2 Timothy 2:22, this 6-week material is designed to help college students grow in their faith: To flee, to pursue, to-gether! 2:22. That’s too good! (That’s for Gracepoint Davis Church folks who miss my puns!)
Sorry I haven’t posted much on my blog since we moved. It’s been quite busy settling in with all the exciting things that are happening here at Gracepoint Berkeley but I’ll be looking for more time to post more often. But for now, I am looking for students who are looking for a church in Berkeley…or a fresh college student looking for his chemistry lecture hall like I did 26 years ago.
An Acts 2 church in every college town! That’s what we’re praying for and giving our lives to until Christ takes us home! The next step toward that involves some big changes for us…
Next week, we will be transitioning to our new role as Church Planting Pastor & Director of Training for Gracepoint Ministries. After 13 years here in Davis, we’ll be heading back to our Gracepoint Berkeley Church where we spent the first 13 years, beginning with our college years. We’ll be working closely with Pastor Ed and Kelly, strategically coordinating and implementing our church planting and training initiatives. (Boy, that sounds really official like some stuffy resume!) Basically, we’ll be doing whatever we can do wherever/whenever/however to see an Acts 2 church in every college town!
Here in cow town, Gracepoint Davis Church will led by Pastor William & Esther Kang who have been leading our InterHigh and Element youth ministries in Berkeley/Alameda. We’ve journeyed more than half of our lives together (since late 80′s) through thick and thin… (Yes, we were way thinner back then!) We served in ministry together in the 90′s and have been growing together as directors. William and I got our M.Div. through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary together and he knows more Greek than me, even though I look more geekier!
Tomorrow is our official farewell where we’ll have good food and times of recalling fond memories shared together in this precious community. I have a feeling tomorrow will be one of those vintage moments that affirm why we long to see an Acts 2 church in every college town…
Oh what a feeling–Toyota! That was the jingle back in the 1980′s when I was a teenager learning how to drive. Last week, I sat in the passenger’s seat as my daughter took the wheel. And oh what a feeling it was!! Feeling scared? Yes! Feeling old? Yes! Feeling like my life just passed in front of me? Yes!!
OK, I’m not going to embarrass her by writing sappy things like “I remember when she was a little baby, saying ‘My daddy!’ with the cutest of smiles…“ But I am going to embarrass her by posting this picture that I took as I firmly put on my seat belt and prayed for dear life! (and the lives of those on the road in Davis). When you see this student driver on the roads of Davis, please lift up a prayer for her to focus on driving. And while you are at it, lift up a prayer for her dad!
Hey Kristen, at least you don’t need to wear a helmet like you had to while riding your bike and the seat belt won’t mess up your stylin’ hair!
As I was teaching her some driving tips, I was reminded of the basics of life that I’d like to share with all of you: Remember to check your mirrors and don’t forget to look over the shoulder…because the person passing by in the left lane might be my precious daughter!
I’m looking forward to Good Friday, especially as we’ve been reflecting on the Passion of Christ through our Passion Experience this week (thanks to our brothers and sisters at Berkeley/SF who helped develop it!). I’ll post up some pictures of it later on (since not everyone got to go through it yet) but over 160 people from Davis signed up to spend some extended time reflecting on the various characters featured therein.
But if Good Friday is good, Easter Sunday is even better! We are renting the ARC Ballroom on the UC Davis campus so that many students would be able to bring their friends to it. I will be covering the topic of “The Case for Easter: Reasons for the Resurrection” and will be incorporating some new material from a Gracepoint Minneapolis Church team member–Thanks, Roy!
Here’s our invite since it’s an easy free advertisement on my blog. Come and join us this Sunday and bring a friend!
- WHEN: April 24, 11am
- WHERE: UC Davis ARC Ballroom
I don’t post much on technology but this is one that I couldn’t help but to get the word out! It is AMAZING and it is the solution to all the carpel tunnel problems many are having with computers and keyboards. AND, it will help me get some exercise in as I respond to emails! Take a look at this at http://gmail.com/motion
I’ve been a fool to think that Gmail could be improved upon but google proved me wrong again! I think I’ll get everyone at Gracepoint Davis Church to use Gmail Motion today!
OK, I’m going to cheat for this post. It’s not a real post but I stumbled on these nice pictures from our recent events that brought back good memories.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words and I wondered if these pictures could talk, what they would say. So for the captions, I put words into their mouths just for fun!
SAGE (adj.): 1) wise through reflection and experience; 2) proceeding from or characterized by wisdom, prudence, and good judgment; 3) catchy acronym for “Spring Apologetics, Gospel, & Evangelism” <as in SAGE Training at church>
I’m really looking forward to this Spring Break for the first ever SAGE Training! We’ll be going through some apologetics topics, reading the gospel of John, and being equipped for evangelism! Some topics include:
- “How can I trust in Christianity when so many Christians are hypocrites? And why are Christians so judgmental toward everyone who doesn’t agree with them?”
- “What is the Christian response to the arguments laid out in the New Atheism books like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion?”
- “Isn’t religion dangerous?”
- “Can’t people be good without God?”
- plus many more!
We’ll be having small group projects during the day and during the evening hours, they will have lectures and presentations. I’m really looking forward to it and have been blessed perusing some of the new books and DVD’s out there. So come and join us at Gracepoint Davis Church, March 21-22! For more info and to sign up, please email your ministry lead.
A few weeks ago I received an email from one of our members that made my heart drop. It contained a picture of an A-frame that International Graduate Student Ministry (IGSM) uses to publicize events on the UC Davis campus. As you can see clearly in this picture, it had been vandalized with spray paint with the words, “god is dead.”
This is not what you would expect from a pluralistic society that is supposed to be tolerant and accepting of all religions and faith traditions. It seemed so unfairly targeted since there were no other A-frames nearby vandalized; there was no “atheism is dead” or “pre-meds are dead” or the like.
I wondered how long it would take for the UC Davis campus to get outraged at this clear violation of the Principles of Community that we are all to abide by. After all, there have been other graffiti vandalisms on campus in years past, and many of those caused loud uproars. I guess the big difference was that this time, it was against the Christian tradition and it wasn’t a big deal to many out there. There was no newspaper coverage, no vigil, no speeches, no nothing…just the still small voice of silence as people passed by. Maybe god is dead, but alas, no one cares to give even a proper eulogy…
As I wondered what the folks at IGSM should do in response, I realized that the best way to prove that God is NOT dead is to simply forgive. After all, God is alive and God is forgiving. God proved His existence by forgiving sinners like me. And the amazing truth of the gospel is that the vandal who did this can also be forgiven and that is what I am sincerely praying for. After all, when Christians forgive, it is a clear sign for God.
Sorry for not updating this blog for a long long time! It’s been more than 2 months since I posted something. Yesterday, someone reminded me that they look forward to seeing what’s happening here in Davis and in our lives–so thank Kevin (from Gracepoint Taiwan) for encouraging me to start anew!
I’ll start off with a short post featuring our Christmas Card picture. We tried to get it out to everyone but if you didn’t get yours yet, please email us and we’ll send one right away!
I thought it would be fun to show you the pictures that didn’t make it to our card (kinda like bloopers). So, you’ll see the final product along with those that didn’t make the cut!
Watch out SF Giants, here comes Taylor up to bat! As you know, Taylor LOVES baseball (sometimes more than Susanna and me!) and his dream was to hit a home run. I wrote about him here and there, but Susanna wanted to write this post on the occasion of his Grand Slam home run (that’s the “Granny”) that he hit recently:
I have a confession. I didn’t think that Taylor was going to hit a home run this season nor do a grand slam. I lacked faith. But he didn’t.
I have learned a few spiritual lessons from this experience.
Taylor never gave up hope; he had vision that one day as a little leaguer, he would hit a home run and even possibly do a grand slam!
This reminded me of a verse from Proverbs that I had memorized in King James Version:
Proverbs 29:18 (King James Version) “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
Despite his mom’s lack of vision, Taylor had a vision in his heart that one day he was going to hit that baseball out of the little league field. It only happened in his 7th season. He began playing at age 5.
But I do remember his marvel and awe when I took him to his very first baseball game at age 3 to an Oakland A’s game. He was so much in awe of the stadium, he was literally speechless. As we were walking back to the parking lot, his head was turned to the stadium, unable to let go of the sight of the stadium. He was hooked.
Last season was a tough one for him as he was in a slump. What if he gave up after his sixth season? He would have never experienced the thrill of hitting a home run and then the game after that hitting a grand slam!
As I have been in ministry for many years, I have heard many people use the words “giving up” rather than humbling oneself to try again or in some cases repenting over one’s sins. Why? Giving up is the easiest. Yet when we give up we forfeit the vision that God has for us. It’s too great of a price to pay.
I was also wrong about baseball. I thought Taylor would progress from hitting a single to a double then to a triple and then a home run. No, he actually jumped from hitting singles (and striking out) to hitting a home run.
What is the secret? He never gave up.
Every day I catch him swinging an imaginary bat in the living room or in his bedroom. He never missed a practice or a game unless he was ill or he was down at Gracepoint Berkeley attending Element Bible Study or InterHigh activities.
Day in and day out, he kept swinging that bat, never losing hope and never losing that vision of one day being a grand slammer!
Son, I am proud of you and I thank you for teaching a huge spiritual lesson to mom, who lacked faith.
[Here is a video footage of his big night captured by a teammate's grandfather (he pitched in addition to hitting that grand slam):]
Believe it or not, this picture took 20 years to take. Well, it took more like 30 minutes, but it seemed like 20 years! It’s rather hard to do anything when there are close to 30 leaders, each who are very comfortable about taking charge and expressing their opinions!
Steve the architecture major wanted a more natural look. Sue the style coordinator wanted better color schemes. Then Daniel made fun of Sue’s Christmas family picture again. I protested at where I was placed and wanted to be sitting next to Susanna. (Hey, how come Pastor Ed and Kelly are sitting next to each other? And Ahmi & Daemin are close as well? It’s not fair! ) Some wanted the traditionally stiff “standing in rows” style which make for better name lists. Judy’s glasses were auto-tinted, so it needed to be taken off and a bunch of us kept reminding her about it for each shot. Someone else wanted all of us to do shoulder hugs in rows–well, we were all up in arms in protests for that one! And several times we warned the Humpty Dumpty guys in the back to watch out lest they fall into the water fountain and ruin our photo op.
We are much more like siblings who grew up in a large cozy family, loving and being loved, forgiving and being forgiven, brothers and sisters for eternity… This picture represents the rich relationships that have been shaped by 20+ years of journeying together in the faith and in ministering together all these years, starting from the early days at our church in Berkeley. Now God has scattered us to Davis, Austin, and even Minneapolis (which is where we took this picture) to help see an Acts 2 church in every college town! (a motto that Peter came up with to capture our vision and prayer.)
This is the group of “directors” of Gracepoint Ministries who form the leadership team of our ministries and they are my best friends, 20+ years in the making. I don’t care what they say–this is my blog so I get to say it without any protest: I am clearly the most blessed person in this picture. And I have 20+ years of evidence to show for it…
Susanna and I have set up an office hours sign-up using a webpage now. If you want to sign up for a 30-minute segment with either of us, please visit:
For now, we are setting aside Wednesday afternoons. But if you can’t make it, please email us directly and we’ll find some other time to meet with you.
Looking forward to it!
I just got back from speaking at the Open House for Acts 2 Fellowship (A2F) at Davis. It was the exciting grand opening of this brand new group on campus! A2F will be meeting Thursday nights and will be a “no-frills” Bible study (w/o praise) with everything squeezed into 7:30pm-9pm (including dinner!). This is perfect for those who can’t make it to a Friday Bible study for various reasons.
It is billed as a “smaller & cozier” group, but tonight the room (1007 Giedt Hall) was quite full! For A2F, Fridays will be extended LifeGroups and extended fellowship time. (This week, they are having Fun Fondue!)
Here is the picture of the inaugural event with everyone showing “2″ for you know what! (Unfortunately, some had left before we got to take this picture, but we hope to see them and others next week!)
This week we will do something that we’ve never done before here at UCD. We will have our New Student Welcome Night (aka NSWN) as usual, but it will be with two showings: 5pm & 7pm! Two times so that we won’t have to turn away anyone!
So come one, come all! (But please try your best to divide up equally between the two showings! )
Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 123 Sciences Lecture Hall on UCD campus. Free for all UCD students! See you there!