We Know No Other Way

To articulately put into words the grandeur of this life is to sell short its immense value of the quality and sanctity for it is because of this very life we gain clarity at the brim of salvation-we know no other way of living

What momentary gains we may achieve are all, but for a loss in the wake of eternity. What better way to live than to move forward in remembrance of yesterday’s victories and sorrows- we know no other way of living

To give life and light to those that seek it; to be the salt to an earth so desiring to taste the exquisite flavors the desperate palate requires-we know no other way of living.

A mission of victorious surrender, alas, a realization of a complete lack of control only to point to a privilege so exclusive it is given to the least of these- we know no other way of living

What if, I ask, the doubts they stream in? Uncertainty, my friends, is what drives our existence. Unknown and its certain principles, ought to drive us to deep, reckless abandoned exploration. To leave the shore and venture out into the wilderness- we know no other way of living.

Yet, here we stand, on the slipping sands of our human certainty, certainly convinced of our posture and direction in life. Is this all there is? The depravity creeps in and the facade continues-we know no other way of living.

Will we awaken from the slumber that haunts our waking reality? While our intelligence is certainly marked by what we do know, our character is defined by what we do not know- we know no other way of living.

In all of its brilliance life becomes such a lavish gift; it is a privilege to breath and walk amongst this earth as mere creatures. Our friend Mary Oliver asks, “what will you do with this one precious life?”-we know no other way of living.

The Kind of Love that Fills the Room

Do you know what I’m talking about? The spaces of time where you feel like you are walking life out as the person you were created to be? The moments where you find yourself included in deep knitted fellowship so much so it feels like a taste of heaven? These prolonged realities can be recognized as experiencing a love that fills the room.

Call me an idealistic millennial but I think this is the kind of love worth living for. It’s the same love that raised Jesus from the dead and the same love that lives within each person that would call on the name of Christ.

But how do we cultivate such love? I look back at the sweet moments of intimate community within a Christian context over the last several years that I’ve experienced and have often wondered…what are the common themes in these different, dispersed communities that all seem to have the same “feel” to their environment?

Yet, as I take a look around I get the feeling that we are getting it all wrong. You and I have made church a marketplace of new techniques; all of a sudden the vernacular becomes ever so important in determining a brilliant, Christian community. The type of people and social standing seem to take precedence over the quality of an individual’s character and spiritual maturity. The style of worship becomes the ultimate decider in whether a community is “actually” following Jesus.

For some reason, you and I have made church about what happens inside the building, rather than what happens outside of it.

What if we started to make church…our community of believers…more about the context rather than the content? The Bible is pretty clear about the goal of community and what it looks like to follow Jesus in solidarity. We are given the picture of the trinity and their interaction with one another…the Epistles are full of directions and exhortations to dwell in unity and long suffering with one another.

The kind of love that fills the room isn’t cultivated by some worship song you think is anointed, the type of socially inept people in the room, or even by the number of similarly minded people. No, it’s cultivated by a love for Jesus rooted in surrender and obedience; it’s brought about by a commitment to carry your cross at whatever the cost. It’s the realization that we suffer in solidarity as a church because of our faith that the kind of love that fills the room comes bursting forth in our gatherings.

Friends this is our calling in the context of Christian community; every heart on earth, lost and saved, longs for the real Jesus. Each soul yearns to be with the loving God; what better way than to allow our communities to be such a transparent reflection of the love the Heavenly Father has for us? Let’s throw our social standing away, our cool gatherings, and our ideas that pale in comparison to the love of the Father.

There are a million ways to love people. But here are some thoughts: If you and I think of the one person we love and treasure with our utmost being, how do you love them? Most likely, it’s really easy to love them because it comes naturally. For me it’s my mom. I don’t have to think about what “techniques” I need to use to love my mom; I simply know that I want to do anything to love her well whether it looks like cleaning the house or including her in the process of my non-important and important decisions.

The issue and reality at hand, however, is that you and I don’t feel this “natural” love for anyone outside of an intimate few, at least I don’t. Interestingly enough, this is the love we are called to, agape sacrificial love. It’s the love that chooses to love a person unconditionally regardless of the circumstances; it’s the kind of love that fills the room and the love we are called to have for everyone on the Earth. Again, just an example, but if we apply this same level of sacrifice to the people God puts in front of us, imagine the amazing things that would happen.

When it comes to loving the person in front of us, especially within the context of Christian community, throw the manual out the freakin’ door. Find out what that person likes and how they like to be loved. DO those things, make an EFFORT to be with that person, and speak TRUTH into that person’s life. Love them as Christ would love them a.k.a. call out the man or woman they are created to be and let your actions be in effort to have them know more of who Christ is and more of who they are in Christ. Many people call this discipleship…I call it friendship.

The Religion We’ve Been Lying to Ourselves About

Millenials, 

this is a call out for all those who steep themselves in religion, all things rigid, and live as if a set of laws could possibly bring validation to an individual’s life. Perhaps this is as much of a wake up call for you as it is me.

More and more I find following Jesus is less about the rules and regulations and about the absolute power of unconditional love and affection. As much as we’d like to think life is defined by right-and-wrong system, a contention could be made for a reality that is guided by a gray, push and pull tension of conflicts and wrestlings. 

Don’t we get it? Legalism exists because love doesn’t. We think these certain systems are going to achieve us certain righteousness; that our small group attendance, certain friendships, and spiritual practices will equate into spiritual authority. But that’s legalism friends; it’s the belief that explicit action will bring us to spiritual nirvana; it’s a life lived empty of the supernatural love of God.

Throw your religion away friends; throw it away. Religion leads us unto ourselves and into a life of self-reliance and false realities. But Jesus, the embodiment of relationship and everything lovely, leads us to a reality void of ourselves and full of his love and abundance.

Yet, I empathize.

I get it. I’m a pastor’s kid and I used to be steeped in religion. If I said all the right things, went to all the right stuff, and prayed enough I would somehow feel God’s love and be cherry for the rest of my life. I think this is the downfall of the Christian upbringing; we grow up with the head knowledge of following Jesus and, for many, carrying the cross of surrender and obedience never becomes a reality.

Inevitably, we are raised to believe that doing “a, b, c” will yield us “1, 2, 3”; in other words, our spiritual practices will equate into a beautiful relationship with the loving God. For some, this turns out to be a brilliant and wonderful result. For the majority, all life becomes is empty religion composed of burdensome rules and regulations.

For me, Christ found me in such a broken state produced by broken religion. I felt as if I had done all the right things, said all the right stuff, and prayed enough to be above average in spirituality. It wasn’t until Jesus’ love met me in such a unique and special way that my life changed; my boxes of religion were broken, my misconceptions of relationship were thrown out the window, and I found God to be anything, but rigid.

For those living in religion, I am saddened. Not because you are somehow tarnishing the name of God; I could not care less about that. I could not care less about the kind of reputation “you” are giving Christians; Christ is more than sufficient to take care of himself. I am saddened because living in religion is the most inconvenient and miserable place to be. I’m not just talking about the people living a double life; this is also for those of you who have not chosen to answer the call of discomfort and suffering outside of the boxes of comfort and religion that you’ve created for yourself. If it’s any consolation, I’ve lived both those kinds of lives…and it’s absolutely miserable. 

I don’t remember the last time someone called me out in this fashion and I immediately changed, but I do remember plenty of times where someone has called me out and it incurred deep and provoking to the point where it lead to personal reformation.

So maybe that’s what this is-a call out. Throw away your religion, friends.

The Kind of Faith that Brings Weeping

IMG_5100Morning Millenials,

there is something highly profound about the word faith. Every so often I’ll be hanging out with people that don’t share my religious beliefs and the word “faith” will come into conversation. Faith is usually described as this intangible, unexplainable hope in the unseen that is strong, resilient, and brilliant.

“I have faith that grandma will be healed”

“Oh, she has such faith through her situation with cancer”

Then there is the Christian vernacular that includes this word “faith”. In the Judeo-Christian vernacular, faith infers some kind of hope in God or unspeakable perseverance in Jesus’ name. It’s funny, the word is used less in the context my non-Christian friends use it and more in the fashion of a classic “buzz” word that could mean a number of things. Could it be that non-Christians somehow understand the word “faith” more than the rest of the contemporary, American church?

I was reading Matthew 9 where Jesus is confronted by a paralyzed man and his friends who desired healing for their friend. The Scripture tells us that “Jesus saw their faith [and] he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus saw their faith.

What is their faith exactly?

In my limited and arrogant millenial perspective (for I am no Bible scholar) this faith the paralyzed man’s friends had was the persevering and almost-blind belief in a carpenter claiming to be the son of God to heal their friend of paralysis. These friends were so desperate for restoration for their friend that they risked public humiliation and expended time and energy simply to get in front of a man who could or could not have been the Son of God.

These same friends approached Jesus with boldness, child-likeness, and a spirit of persevering simply so that their friend might be healed.

Friends, this is the type of faith that I want to have. I want to be filled with desperation that I might know the Son of God and do what he says. This is the kind of faith that brings tears to my eyes because, on one hand, I know that believing in a God I cannot see nor touch is a truly foolish thing. I have no other option because, in my eyes, I’ve tried other supposedly viable lifestyles that have brought me nowhere, but more pain and self-harm. I have no other option, but Jesus; he, in a sense, is my last resort. However, on the other hand, I fully believe in the lavish and beautiful promises Christ has made to me, to us, as his children, and his ability to fulfill those promises of a new Earth, full restoration, and heaven coming down to Earth.

As we press through each day, we can be reminded that we come to Christ as broken, desolate creatures dressed in rags and loin cloth. We were the dirty, lepers that had no hope in our own redemption. But Christ calls us to himself and gives us the gift of faith that we might know him and move from sinners locked in bondage to children of the living God. Thank you Lord for faith…maranatha come Lord Jesus.

Arrogance (Me), Confidence (You)

Hi millenials and, if applicable, people of God.

For the longest time I’ve made the observation of the way people carry themselves. Early on in high school it was really it easy to pick out the people who were “confident” and the people who simply “were not”.

Confidence is such a beautiful thing and, frankly, rather addicting. It mirrors the feeling of drunkenness as it makes you feel like you are on the top of the world; on a deeper level, confidence allows us to function freely and boldly because we are walking in the identity God crafts for us.

Yet, as broken beings, we seem to muck the goodness of God up in a very obvious way.

Cue in arrogance folks.

Here is the definition according to dictionary.com:

offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.”

Maybe a simplified definition of arrogance, courtesy of my father when calling me out in arrogance, would be even more helpful:

“Arrogance is a false confidence because it is based out of [your] insecurity and personal feelings of insufficiency.”

That’s me to a tee folks and it’s something I seek to work on every day. My arrogance is based out of an insufficiency and, often, I feel like I have to compensate for my own weakness and out of my strength, rather than allowing the blood of Jesus to fully cover my shortcomings. There’s some kind of verse that says, “when we are weak, then we are strong”, right?

I think, at the same time, this arrogance in me gets produced because I’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God manifested in the confidence I receive from the Heavenly Father’s love and affection. In a sense, arrogance is my longing for the confidence that stems from real, unconditional love, but out of an unsustainable and fleshly initiative.

Millenials,

I am so proud of you because of the way you carry yourselves. You know the Father and the Father knows you. You long to sit at his feet and listen to the wisdom that He has to share and it gets me stoked. I see you walking in a godly confidence that is rooted and established in love rather your own self means. I sense a peace that rests deep within your souls because of the great things that God has done in your life and it makes me want to know that same love in a deeper and more intimate way.

Confidence in it of itself is not impressive; some might say it simply is arrogance because it is based on a shaky foundation of insecurity and shortcoming. But a confidence that comes from knowing God and his infinite love is a quality that we get the joy of pursuing and exploring the rest of eternity. A confidence established in the Father’s love is built on a strong foundation of God’s everlasting faithfulness and diligence.

I think the practical move here is to first confront the areas where we are arrogant. What are the areas that God’s love truly needs to have access to? On a daily basis I ask God to transform my way of thinking when it comes to relationships and work.

The prayer I enjoy praying is,

“God I simply want to follow where you go, that you would lead me and that I would joyfully follow, not out of my own strength or effort, but by an overwhelming sense of your grace and power.”

Some of us don’t know we are arrogant, but chances are…we are and that’s ok. Christ comes to bring life abundantly that we might have life in all of its fullness.

 

The Asian American Dilemna

Millenials,

If you’re not Asian, some of this stuff might not make sense. In that case, please see this as sharing from an Asian American perspective.

Asian-American millenials, maybe this will be stuff you’ve been feeling and hopefully can gain some language for.

I felt a little bit of this back in the Bay, but the notion I’m speaking about has been

magnified by about 100 (93.5 to be exact) percent throughout my time in Texas.

 

This thing I’m speaking of is the high tension, discomfort, and conflict of Asian-

American to Asian-American relations. Sometimes it’s the awkward lookaways that

I’ve experienced when walking the campus of Baylor. I’ll be walking with my friends

(Asian-American, white, or a mixture of both) and I’ll walk in the vicinity of another

Asian American with a similar co-demographic. The strangest thing occurs and the

other Asian American(s) divert their eyes away from nearly every time. Call me crazy,

but last time I checked looking away from people usually implies some sort of

increased alertness, usually of a threat or discomfort, and insecurity.

 

Other times I’ll meet other Asian Americans and the conversation usually becomes

very awkward as the dialogue, mostly by action of the person across from me, begins

to beat around the bush of expected similarities in experience and lifestyle. In other

words, they try to sound very white and Americanized and avoid any talk of

commonalities between our potentially similar Asian-American heritage.

So here’s my thing and also my reaction: da hell? It’s something I don’t quite

understand and, frankly, something I’m really frustrated at.

*Disclaimer: all this could be just a giant misperception, but hear me out. Maybe

there is some validity to this conversation.

So maybe this blog can be a post where we can have a conversation and rationalize

some of this junk.

My hunch, millenials, is that this is all just misplaced securities. It’s rare for majority

culture to understand what it means to be a minority and the life that comes with it.

The minority lifestyle contains discrimination, misconception, abnormality, and

discomfort. The good and the bad qualities of what the general public perceive us to

have are EXTREMELY magnified.

So in the spirit of this post, take Asian Americans for instance. Our good qualities of

being academically studious, submissive, and having excellent cuisine are all general

public pieces of knowledge. However these things are usually assumed and fuel

extreme misconceptions; we can call these “positive” stereotypes

Our perhaps “poor” qualities are that we are not capable of great leadership, are

nerdy/non-athletic, not as aesthetically beautiful as other races, cannot speak

English well, and dress “Asian”. These qualities too are usually assumed and fuel

extreme conceptions; these are classically known as “negative” stereotypes.

So in order to fight against these stereotypes what’s an Asian-American brotha or

sista supposed to do? You fight them, or at least keep them under wraps, like yo

damn life depended on it. You become extremely white and hide any cinch of Asian

stereotypes (good and bad) from the general public who, in Baylor’s case, are mostly

white. You mask your good/phenomenal grades, fall in love with classically American

accepted foods, dress freakin’ white, and only hang out with white people.

Maybe this is all stuff that I’m overthinking and misrepresenting; all I know is that

I’ve accepted myself: a Christian, Korean-American, a lover of people, passionate

about health, and a fanatic of food. None of me wants to hide any of these things.

Why? Because that’s who God created me to be. I’m going to live the life God gave

me. I will follow the Lord and allow culture to fit into His plan, not the other way

around. Of course I have broken theology (we all do damn it); so I don’t want to

pretend of come off like I know it all.

So I guess this was a bit of a rant and my heart thrown all into one blog post. Hope it

was enjoyable.

*drops mic

-Yung “DC” Dan

K(no)w Suffering, K(no)w God

Millenials,

We are a generation of self-proclaimed experts and full of a lot of talk. Seemingly we know it all and have sought to experience the many things life has to offer.

For my fellow business enthusiasts it seems like I have a seemingly well educated conversation about the nature of a startup and what it takes to be successful nearly every week; these same people seem to have a savvy for business without actually having started a profitable business-go figure.

For those of us that would call ourselves Christians it seems like I have a “good theological” discussion on the daily. But the funny thing about these folk is that their theology doesn’t seem to line up with their lives. Their theology seems to be bigger than their individual understandings of suffering and the lifestyle necessary to follow Christ.

Millenials we are so prone to pretending to know something when we really don’t-let’s not do so with following Christ.

Perhaps it looks like putting our heavy Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology books away and focusing on the most important thing at hand-the journey of following Jesus, by his grace.

A common theme I’ve noticed in people our age is the presence of really good theological conversation. Many of us who declare Christ know the Gospel and can talk endlessly about their ambitions for Christ. However, I think we are massively missing the point in our current conversations. Christ never called us to have good theological sufferings; he called us to come and die to ourselves-our flesh, entitlements, and especially our comforts.

In this nature of the choosing of our own death the eyes of our heart are opened to the grandiose plan of an eternity with Christ beyond this temporal life. Our eyes are revealed to the goodness of God in such a way that could only be induced by the sacrifice of fully giving away our current life in exchange for death which, in turn, actually brings us life through Jesus Christ himself.

Yet, when I meet many Christians of our day I find many who are not willing to knowingly give up their entire lives. There are a lot of “buts” to their faith.

“I’ll follow Jesus…but I have to get this job”

“I’ll follow Jesus…but I want to stay within my community of like-minded friends”

“I’ll follow Jesus…but I don’t want to be with people who look different from me”

The list goes on friends. It’s not a pretty message, but it’s one for anyone that has ears to listen. Know suffering in the form of dying to every portion of yourself and you will know God. No suffering conveyed through a retaining of oneself and life’s comfort and there will be no God.

 

 

Stop Seeing With Your Eyes

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…”

-Ephesians 1:18

In the time that Paul was writing the book of Ephesians, the heart was considered the cultural center of knowledge and understanding; unlike our culture which places the heart as the center of emotion. Paul likened the heart to the epicenter of where true logic took place.

When we see with just our eyes we mislead ourselves to live in a temporal reality that, at any moment, can be altered and changed. The reality our eyes see is subjective, chaotic, and volatile. Yet, when we see with our heart, we are awakened to a reality that is unchanging, faithful, and diligent. This reality is the realm of the Gospel and the nature of Jesus. When we seek to see with the eyes of our heart, we seek to also see situations as God would see them: full of understanding, grace, and knowledge; you might even consider this as a call to objectivity.

At the same time Paul adds that seeing with our hearts includes seeing the unseen. When we enter a relationship with Christ everything changes. While before Christ all we could see was the subjective reality courtesy of our eyes; after Christ we are given the ability to see with our heart and ultimately live in the revelation of the mercy of Christ and the future and hope we have in living in eternity with our heavenly Father.

I think this is the relevant point for many of us. The temptation lies in seeing with just our eyes because it’s easy and convenient to glimpse through a lense that shows us what we want to see; this view lends itself to our ultimate selfishness, jadedness, and deceit. The day to day becomes all about our emotions and seeing others as we would see them rather than as children of the most high God. We lose understanding and grace for ourselves and others as our emotions take us captive. We lose the capacity for godly knowledge and a holiness that goes beyond our physical understanding.

Friends, this is why Paul calls us as believers to see with our hearts. As we see with our hearts we begin to see ourselves and others with the eyes of God. Understanding of ourselves and others occurs because we begin to release our own selfish values and exchange them for the beautiful sacraments of higher grace and mercy.

Here is the big ask fellow millenials: will we choose to see with our hearts this very day? Will we choose to see ourselves and others with a view of higher grace and mercy regardless of the actions that take place?

Jesus open the eyes of our hearts Lord.

Open the eyes of our hearts. We want to see you

High and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory

Pour out your power and love

as we sing holy, holy, holy.

Maranatha

Social Responsibility

Millenials,

 

friendship is really beautiful. Many of us have experienced really deep friendship where the interactions are sweet and the camaraderie is uncanny. One of the most profound illustrations of friendship was a few years ago when a speaker unpacked the relationship of the Trinity. Before Creation Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit all existed in perfect harmony and unity; the creation of man was simply to be an extended inclusion of such deep harmony, unity, friendship. The nature of this friendship was a pouring out of love towards one another; the relationship was selflessly oriented and fought against any hint of selfish ambition.

I think there is something to this illustration of friendship that perhaps the rest of us can glean from. At its bare bones, authentic and deep friendship is something that naturally invites other people into itself. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gathered in deep friendship and mankind simply stepped into the invitation into intimacy, I think the way we form friendships ought to take on a similar flavor.

This is all to say, we humans, can be pretty exclusive. We exclude others based on their looks, ideas, and culture. We actually create arbitrary and silly stipulations that have very little bases in the grand scheme of life. How many times have I consciously or even subconsciously created a culture of exclusivity that has prevented other people from experiencing the deep riches of intimate relationship?

This might be a stretch, but I think real, Gospel centered relationships are ones that are selfless, rich, exciting, and inclusive in nature.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

-John 13:34-35

Love is selfless and focuses on others as we focus on loving Christ. This agape love is different because it is not driven by selfish ambition, but a goal of pleasing and honoring Christ. Often times this type of love is uncomfortable, convicting, and challenging altogether. Loving people like ourselves is easy, but loving people who mess with our intrinsic rhythms is highly difficult [if we are honest]. The goal of the day is not to simply love people who are different, but to seek the ones who, perhaps in our eyes and the eyes of Christ, are marginalized, the misfit, and broken in their own way.

We Suck at Multi-Tasking

Millenials,

have you ever tried multi-tasking? It’s pretty difficult to do when you have a slew of things you are trying to accomplish; the amount of things begin to pile up as we begin to display our utmost ability to fail and fall short of our many multi-tasking goals.

I was just thinking earlier today of this reality and, yet, how often do I continue to try to multi-task…and continue to spread myself too thin? This unfortunate occurrence often takes place in my relationships, studies, and my relationship with God. There are so many things that seem to require my attention and I cannot, to save my life, find success in achieving everything I could possibly want in a day’s work.

But you know who isn’t a bad multi-tasker? God. He’s the best multi-tasker we could ever imagine. In this thing called Christianity there is a God who is perfect in nature and can somehow be in every place and be fully aware and cognizant of those who pray and cry out to him. This line of thought got me thinking about the nature of God and the multiple roles he plays in each of our lives.

My upbringing was by no means perfect, but I certainly had parents who were a lot of different things to me. I had a mother, father, friend, mentor, coach, and so much more in the two of my parents. They continually showed me mercy even when I was not aware I was in need of mercy. It’s only in retrospect that I have begun to realize all of the things my parents did for me throughout my childhood; I’ve only grown in gratitude for their kindness and benevolence towards me.

Here’s the thing: for most of us, our parents’ love and benevolence towards us is a mere glimpse of God’s love and benevolence towards us.

How can someone be fully an all mighty God, loving father, and sacrificial friend all into one divine being? I don’t know about you, but I would find it extremely testing to be an all powerful God, yet display the humility required to be a sacrificial and loving friend. I mean, wouldn’t you?

This is the beauty of the Gospel millenials. God fully acts as an all powerful God [he doesn’t have to love us]; he in fact holds all power to end our lives as we exist. Yet, he continues to act as an understanding Father and sacrificially loving friend.

Millenials this is the love we are called to. When we think we are loving people, we can read our Bibles and realize there is an infinite amount of love that we can give because we serve an infinitely loving God. When we start to feel like we are understanding what it means to love we can be sure that God is constantly calling us to higher sacrifice, cost, and initiative to love the children of God; this includes our friends and, guess what, this call also includes are enemies.

When the Bible talks about “enemies” rarely do any of us have people that actually hate us and want to see us die; the word enemies includes the ones that aren’t like us, the ones that mess with our vibes, and especially the ones who simply don’t offer you anything [did anyone say relationship reciprocation].

So let’s be sure to look at those beautiful faces we see in the mirror and ask how we can be more radically loving towards the people of God, friends and enemies included. God never once said “why doesn’t ______ (insert name here) get it?”. God always moved in radical understanding and initiatory love, even when it was inconvenient for him [cue the crucifixion and how Jesus asks for the cup of suffering to pass over him]. Maybe, just maybe, we can do the same as we seek to follow Jesus.