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.

The Fear of Missing Out

Hey Millenials,

the fear of missing out is something that’s always been around, but perhaps has become an exponentially greater influence in recent years. We have a lot of social media these days that allow us to live highly connected lives intertwined with one another.

It is a phenomenon of our culture today in how much value we place in “what we do” and when we do it. For many of us we live our lives through a lense of what we do and what others are up to; often times the fear of missing out drives us to do nonsense things and take unnecessary detours in this journey called life.

 

What if the fear of missing out wasn’t simply an event or singular moment in our lives? What if the fear of missing out is actually a long run problem that many of us fail to recognize until it’s too late? It’s easy to manage our day to day behavior because it is quantifiable in the ways that we go about doing our business. But long term, not so much.

Did you ever think throughout the last ten years the things you could have done different? I do so in a healthy way every so often. For me, the mistakes I have made in the last ten years were all mostly things that could have been avoided had I just stayed the course set for me and listened to the people that had experienced life prior to when all my detours happened.

While life is certainly a process of sifting through our own deceit and figuring out how to pursue righteousness as a result of the grace of God, there is something to be said about fully trusting God with what we have and the people he’s provided us with.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

-1 John 4:18

 

Many have come before us, struggled with the same tensions, and ultimately have responded in similar fashion. Moreover, Jesus Christ himself has experienced everything there is in this life and gives us his word so that we can pursue holiness even in the midst of our own depravity.

The long run fear of missing out drives us to believe that our lives are missing something aside from Jesus and the cross. We think having a certain job or organizational affiliation will bring us to a point of higher understanding; perhaps it will in some regard. For those of us that are fortunate to achieve such feats we end up falling flat on our faces in disappointment; if we are keen on continuing to follow Christ in the midst of such disappointment, we realize we were headed down the right path long before we sought to achieve such feats void of the goodness of the Cross.

If our goal is the Gospel and to obey everything that Jesus would have us do, there is zero room for the fear of missing out on “more”. There is zero punishment for those that would walk in perfect love, trust, and faith in a God who never fails or falters.

We Might Just Be Pharisees

There are a lot of places in the Bible where Jesus openly roasted the Pharisees for their behavior.

But why? The Pharisees were seemingly the most righteous and religiously upstanding folk for the Word and commandments of God. They gave their 10% tithe, observed every spiritual ritual, and strived to honor God in all that they did. The amount of dedication, hard work, and diligence it took to become a Pharisee was enormous; the amount of work was not for someone who was simply concerned with having high social status.

At face value the Pharisees’ of Jesus time were man of immense diligence devoted to spiritual fruitfulness.

So why was Jesus often so harsh with the Pharisees? Why does Jesus roast the men that could be potentially become some of his greatest advocates for his messages about salvation, the kingdom, and eternity?

If we look deeper at the Pharisees that interacted with Jesus we certainly find that many of them were devoted to every spiritual practice. A Pharisee in that day devoted himself to the teachings of God, memorizing Scripture, and ensuring all that he did was holy in the eyes of the Lord. But if we pay attention to what flaws Christ points out, we may find that the things that made the Pharisees appealing, Kingdom-minded prospects actually make them to be clear opponents of Christ.

““Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

-Matthew 23:23

I think if we are honest with what we look at in the mirror every morning we might have some of the same symptoms of a Pharisee that Jesus so openly opposed. Today we are obsessed about the things that we do and have accomplished. What is on your resume? What is on your spiritual resume?

Often times I think we overly enamor another person’s spiritual fruit and we go after the byproduct we see rather than the means of how that person got there.

Name any spiritual big cheese out there. How many times have we strived to think like Timothy Keller, love like Francis Chan, or prophecy like Bill Johnson?

The Pharisees’ problem was that they were obsessed with doing the things of God rather than being in relationship with God and I think, at times, we should be faulted for doing the same.

Theologically I may be making a stretch, but in the above passage, isn’t Jesus referring to justice, mercy, and faithfulness as characteristics found only in a relationship with God? Can we really value those things without a relationship with God from which those things derive?

Millenials we are very much obsessed with what we see; we see what we like and try to emulate the byproduct. We start become self proclaimed experts on ministry, community, and discipleship simply because we’ve seen what fruit in those areas can look like.

What if we just become people obsessed with growing a relationship with God? We are all twenty somethings and have experienced some level of intentional, beautiful relationship with someone. What if we spent time in the Word to actually talk with God and learn things from him? What if we prayed to commune with the living God and worship him with the words we have?

We are to abide in the Vine and remain in him. Fruit is not our concern, but actually a natural byproduct of intimate relationship with God himself. The communities will come. The abundance of joy will come. Wonderful, deep relationships will come.

 

If You Give A Man

There are many things that are said to bring destruction to a man’s soul. Proverbs goes into great detail the consequences of foolery and rebellion; much of the Old Testament displays the negative effects of individual pride and selfish ambition.

Today foolery, pride, and selfish ambition still have similar effects to the human condition; you might even say that getting the human race to steep oneself into foolishness, pride, and selfish ambition is on Satan’s never-ending list to do list.

Amongst these out-in-the-open tactics maybe we can talk about another; it’s more covert. This certain strategy is not so much aimed at bringing the human soul down into the miry clay, but to a place much more sinister and ominous.

Apathy, Christian brethren, is one of our greatest, collective downfalls . The ability to have everything that we would possibly need is potentially deadly; at times we begin to require less of a Savior that required nothing of ourselves.

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

-Matthew 16:26

Apathy is decrepit because at face value it is an immensely beautiful thing. Apathy fueled by abundant resources, restorative community, and a lack of suffering can all look like God’s beautiful provision.

Healthy? Check. Great friends? Check. Fulfilling career? Check. Enough money in the bank? Check.

None of these things are mentioned as benchmarks of a Christian, yet I think we tend to use them as criteria for ourselves when pondering what it means to be in relationship with Jesus.

This passage in Matthew is in reference to fully surrendering to Christ and taking up a cross that would otherwise be too heavy for any of us to carry. We are to prioritize obeying the commands of God, by the grace of God.

Anyone who has a fulfilling life coupled with worldly possessions and an altogether convenient life ought not to be demonized or condemned for their lifestyle; rather believers should be compelled to look at their own spiritual fruit in order to fully quantify whether or not they are truly taking up their cross.

Apathy occurs when we no longer align our lifestyle preferences with the commands of God; apathy creeps in when obedience and surrender begin to take a backseat to personal agenda.

That being said, believers should be challenged everyday to deny themselves and take up their cross for the sake of following Christ; we ought to be faced with the daily decisions of prioritizing the commands of God over our own fleshly agenda.

We need not be wary of nice things, a phenomenal life, or daresay even the white picket fence. However, brethren, let us be wary of apathy; let us be wary of no longer carrying a cross that we’ve been asked to bear, by His wonderful grace.