There are a lot of thing I miss about living in South Korea, however, one of those things I do not miss is driving. Driving in South Korea can be a total nightmare, for two reasons…
Reason 1: A ton of cars
You want to know how to drive well, go to South Korea. You have to have your head on a swivel and having fast than lightning reflexes! Even when you’re not driving and just walking on the streets, you have be react quickly, because even if you are on the sidewalk, you can get hit by a car… yes… it has happened to me twice..
There are so many cars in Korea, even the sidewalks are car filled! The traffic can get so crazy, getting from point A to point B is an adventure. However, driving in Korea, made me realize that I can drive anywhere in the United States, easily… Washington DC.. that’s nothing, driving a 15 passenger van in NYC, I got this. Driving in South Korea is all about survival.
The amount of cars on the road… and sidewalk, make a 20 minute trip take about 2 hours. My wife called one of the major expressways in South Korea, “the parking lot.” Yeah, I don’t miss “the parking lot” one bit!
Driving in Korea is like living in the Old West. All those traffic rules and traffic lights… are merely suggestions. You can go through a red light if it is safe enough… ever done that in the United States? Not accidently going through red light, I mean, consciously decide to go through a red light. It happens man… and if you stop at a red light the car behind you might lose their effing mind because you aren’t blowing through that red light. You gotta be tough to be able to drive in South Korea… can’t be a wimp!
Reason 2: Bribing and Car Crashes
Ever got into a car accident the day before your wedding day and you weren’t driving your car. I can check that off my list! Yay, that happens. Also, have you been bribed after the accident? Once, again, check it off my list!
Eunkyung and I were getting married, we were accompanied by my best friend and my sister to do some last minute errands and pick ups fort he wedding. At one location, we had a valet park our car and then a few moments later, the valet comes to us and tells us that our car has been in an accident. Apparently the valet parked our car, was still sitting in it, and then a white Mercedes Benz T-bones our car. The driver of the car realized the mistake she done and proceeded to bribe us constantly. We called the police and they talked to her first, and then they talked to us and told us that she wants to give us money, would that be ok? I thought bribing was against the law, and the police said, yeah it is, but you can ask for any money right? Then the insurance agents came to look at the car and talk to her and then talk to us and said that she wanted to give us money, do we accept? Again…. I thought bribing was bad? According to the insurance agents and police confirmed yeah it’s against the law, but it’s ok if we want the money…
Then we find out she’s not insured and that she was driving her boyfriends car out of anger and decided to take that anger on her boyfriend onto our parked car. Wow…
Don’t get me wrong, living in Korea has more positives than negatives, but certainly =driving I Korea is something I will not miss. Next week I will share something awesome in Korea that you cannot do anywhere in the USA, something I miss.
I thought that I’d share something about the past, in order to give us a sense of relief about the present. Sometimes the present can look so bleak, scary, and just plain unsettling. We are forced to go back in our memories to find a sort of relief and enjoyment, just so it helps us feel relief during our present moment and gives us something to laugh about. I encourage all of you to do the same thing when the day just seems down and gloomy. Find a fun memory and tell it to someone!
Before I begin this blog, subjects I will cover will be 1) Removal of the Confederate Flag, 2) Removal of Confederate Statues and other Monuments, 3) CHAZ and 4) St. Louis Couple with Guns (I am supporting the couple). If you don’t want to hear the opinions, you can stop reading, it’s not trying to be political, just trying to find answers. This was my disclaimer.
There is way too much “Us versus Them” mentality. I want people to know, it is ok to think differently and passionately on these issues, but just get along with one another, and share what you think and also, respect other people’s voice, and there is no room to attack a person just because it is their opinion. Always look before you leap! The purpose of this blog is to find a reason to understand all this stuff that is going on in the United States.
1) Removal of the Confederate Flag
Happy upcoming Fourth of July everyone! I hope that all can celebrate responsibly and safely! Remember the 4th of July as a symbol of revolution! (Which I think we need to define is, in my opinion different from rebellion) It’s interesting to think about the fourth of July in all that is going on in the United States so far. So far… we have had COVID-19, which is still on-going and catching steam once again as cases rise at an alarming rate! Then there was the Police Brutality issue and protesting across the United States, and now we have people asking to take down confederate statues and the confederate flag and symbol and now the possibility of taking down Mount Rushmore? Umm… ok… so… let me think about this…
Here is the thing, it doesn’t make sense to me, why hold on to such a flag. Especially if you live in the northern half of the United States. We fought the Confederates and we beat them in a war. Who else keeps symbols of people you have defeated in a war? Like, should we hold a Taliban flag, or an ISIS Flag? I don’t get it. And it’s doesn’t make sense that it is a symbol of heritage…. Because I thought the confederate flag’s heritage was born out of rebellion and was first produced for the civil war because they supported slavery. Southern heritage/pride was born before that flag ever existed, like you are still southern even without the flag. Raise your state flag, right? Like to celebrate my Korean heritage I have a South Korean flag… it’s not like I’m carrying the North Korean flag, even if they are Korean like me. That’s what I would do, because for the south, people wanted to protect state rights, so raise your state flag…. I dunno… there are other alternatives I can see, that doesn’t make people feel bad….
2) Removal of Confederate Statues and other Monuments
Also, I think the revolution versus is different from civil war rebellion… The south rebelled… they weren’t looking for a revolution… Rebellion is about being hostile and an opposition of the current state, and a revolution seeks a change. The South were against the United States of America, the America in which our founding father’s created… a free and equal nation for all men and women. A Nation that our founding fathers, said, that all have the right to prosperity and happiness, that was there thought… and yeah… I know, some of those guys owned slaves…. But times begin to change, when people start to realize that being a slave is contrary to the ideology of Constitution. The ideology of the building blocks of the United States of America are not reflected on slavery and domination.
Anyways… moving on… taking down statues… ehhh… I get it why people want to rip down those statues of confederate people, again, I never understood why they were built and why we need to remember the losers of our history. We should remember heroes, and I believe heroes are people who were victorious, or were leaders who accomplished a task, Umm.. Confederates lost man… Don’t know why they were put up, but it doesn’t matter to me whether they are there or not either. I just don’t understand why we have statues of them, because they were our enemies right? I mean we fought a war against them. Like, should we put statues of Mao or Che Guevara because of history? Heck no man! Or put statues of terrorist groups like AntiFa? I hope not…
But there is an undefined line here about “statues.” And the question we must ask is… were these statues built for museum and education purposes, or were they built because we admire that person. First of all, I don’t understand why we would have to put up a statue to admire a person… I mean I admire a lot of people, but there is no way I’d want to make a statue to have them be worshipped…
At the same time, they have been up, they were built, what can you do about it now… And how far will this go? I mean… what is the checklist of which statues are ok, and which ones aren’t. I was a bit shocked at Mount Rushmore concept. Or even the thought of other monuments being ripped down. Are we to get rid of all of our history? I mean, since the some of our founding fathers have slaves does that mean we have to get rid of the Constitution? Or if they feel country music is not sensitive enough, we have to get rid of it? Please don't do that man... How far is this going to go?
I like the idea of a revolution, if it has a plan…. For example, what happened in Seattle… umm… it didn’t seem like they had a plan…. And I don’t think they were looking for a revolution, which is about making a change. They were looking for rebellion, which is standing opposed to something else, similar to the Confederates participation in the Civil War. I’m all for revolution if it gives us the answers. I am up for a revolution if it allows all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, and occupation, to pursue a life of happiness, and that happiness does not infringe on the rights of other people.
4) St. Louis Couple with Guns
I don’t know how to move on to the next subject… so here it is… In St. Louis, a man and his wife are photographed and filmed holding guns at protesters in front of their home. And people are up in arms… First off, come on people! Really? You are upset at a couple holding a gun in front of their home? Doesn’t he have the right to protect his family? What about the iconic picture of Malcolm X holding a AK-47 to protect his family against the Nation of Islam? This should be of no shock man… They were doing everything lawful in my opinion. I would do the exact same thing if I see a bunch of people holding signs and marching around my house… oh wait… that did happen, they were holding confederate flags and burning a cross, and we did what e had to do under the law to do what was necessary to protect each other.
What is my point in all this rambling… think before you make a judgement. Think about it before you do it. Just because something is upsetting to you, is it necessary to take it all down, or some of it down, or can you progress beyond that. Also, think about what we see portrayed in the news today… think before you judge, and the 4th of July is coming… it is a time of celebration, but also a time to remember that this great country is built on the premise of creating a nation in which ANYONE, can pursue the right to seek happiness that will not infringe or hinder other people’s pursuit of happiness.
I’d like to see people come together in the United States. I don’t think people need to agree with one another, but I am worried that there isn’t enough dialogue between people and opposing sides. I’m not asking for people to agree with one another, but I am asking people to look before you leap. Don’t make a snap judgement until you hear not just facts, but opinions. And there is no need to force your agenda on other people. I feel that if we can hear other people’s feelings it will help create sympathy and compassion that seems to be lost during this time in the USA. By having compassion towards one another I feel that we can be better decision makers in the future.
I am an environmentalist. Not like, an environmentalist that goes around saying, “Save the trees man…” Not like that kind of environmentalist (I have nothing against those people). Hmm.. maybe a better word it is I am a conservationist. I do care about our world a lot. I find peace and enjoyment being outdoors, enjoying the beauty of nature. So I guess it is natural for me to love fishing, I like to practice, catch and release, especially if it is a big fish. I do that in hopes that some kid, maybe my kid might hook into it, and hopefully learn to enjoy the outdoors.
Wherever I go to fish, I love just seeing the beauty of nature. Seeing the fish jump, the colorful, birds, the bees buzzing, and the occasional deer that scampers off. I enjoy the sight of it all, and I think it is really important that we enjoy what God has created for us. All this nature is for us to enjoy and be in we of His majestic glory! I think it is our responsibility is to take care of it, so that future generations can enjoy it as well.
What I cannot stand is people who trash our parks and recreational areas. It really bothers the hell out of me. I wonder if it is really that hard to pick up your own trash before leaving?! I mean, that’s the least you can do. I mean there are a ton of trash cans nearby that you can dump your stuff at. Or if you know you will have trash with you, just carry a trash bag, it fits in your pocket perfectly well. The worst for me is seeing fishing trash just littering the shorelines. I will see empty Styrofoam cups that used to hold worms, or plastic packages of artificial baits, or fishing line that’s just thrown on the ground.
What can I do? Well first, I don’t leave my trash laying around. But what I will do is pick up as much other people’s trash as much as possible. It seems like an endless and pointless task. There will always be more trash to pick up and even the trash I pick up today, I know Ill find more next week. So why do I keep on doing it?
I do it because I imagine that if I don’t do it, the trash is just going to pile up and we can no longer enjoy nature. I do it because I imagine a lot of people doing the same thing I am doing. That they are picking up other people’s trash. Even though there may be a lot of people littering, I do believe that there are also some people who are making the extra effort to be themselves clean and clean up after others. That makes me feel good.
Every small effort in life does matter and could go a long way. Not just in taking care of nature, but in other things such as random acts of kindness. It may seem small and effortless, but it can have an impact on other’s lives and also you never know who you meet that just needs a smile, or a simple, “How are you?” You may never know how much it may mean to another person to just listen to them. Think about every positive reaction can cause a ripple effect. Like a pebble that falls into he water, that ripple just keeps going and going and going. The small gestures to you do to other people, can be infectious and may cause another person to do a random act of effortless kindness, and then the next and the next, so that not only will our world be cleaner, but happier.
I’m not a cat person… but if watching two hours of kittens on YouTube makes my kids quiet for that time… I’m all for it. I spent one day, about 2 hours just watching kittens grow from day 1 to day 68. What did I learn? Nothing! And it was awesome. For 2 hours, my brain wasn’t thinking, stressing, or pondering, it was numb… the pure definition of mindless. For 2 hours, my kids did not fight, did not fuss, did not say a word, it was total peace. The kids just mesmerized at the kittens from day 1 to 68.
Sometimes that is what you need in life. Just a moment in which there is nothing. Your mind goes blank, all those worries, all those cares just goes away for that moment. As a parent, that was the moment I needed. I am so thankful to God that for 2 hours the kids just behaved, and did not fight, no yelling, nobody getting ouchies… just…. Awesome.
Which is also another thing about kids… why in the world do kids behave so dang well in public, but are hooligans at home? I don’t know if anyone ever had that problem. Like, whenever we go to church, or at a friend’s house, or Walmart, or the grocery store, the kids are just calm, cool, patient, and polite. But when they are at home, it’s like they have entered the octagon at the most hyped up UFC fight. I might be exaggerating a bit…
But they are totally different in public. Maybe it’s because they are more shy in public than at home? But there are some days in which I wish that was flipped…. You know? Let them just run a much in Walmart and at the mall, then at home, they just sit there are draw or read or something. I dunno, it’s a catch 22 right? If they misbehave in public, then I’ll feel embarrassed and wished the other way around.
Kids are kids, they are like little punk rockers and their world is a little mosh pit. But last week, for 2 hours, just watching kittens on YouTube was awesome, and well needed. There is a time in which we just need those moments of nothingness and peace.
Always takes me back to the Bible passage in 1 Kings 19:11-13. Elijah is running for his life. He has angered a bunch of people who worshipped Baal, and He is instructed by God to stand on the mountain because God is going to “pass by.” While Elijah hid in the mountain, he heard a great and powerful wind, that broke apart rocks, then he felt an earthquake, and then he saw fire, but Elijah knew God was not in the fire, earthquake or wind. It only what followed all these marvelous and powerful events, was a gentle whisper. Elijah knew, in that subtle, gentle, quiet whisper was God “passing by.” He took notice, covered his face and stood at the entrance of the cave of the mountain. Then God spoke.
There is always so much to worry about, there is always a ton of work to be done, there is always something waiting around the corner that gives us that feeling of dread. There is just so much noise, distractions, and violence that we see happening before us. Best thing we need in our life is that moment of stillness, that moment of nothingness, even for just a moment. Because in that moment after the winds, earthquakes, and fire, comes a whisper, and it is the voice of God telling us, “What are you doing here?”
It is in that moment God is calling out to us, asking us, “Where is your mind going? Just for one moment be still and wait. Don’t fuss and worry about what is going on out there, but be on this mountain with me, just for this moment. You need this, and I am there with you. Now… let’s just watch these kittens for two hours everyone.” Thank you, God, for giving us these moments of peace for us. A time in which my little UFC fighters can find rest in you, through this kitty video. Thank you, God, for letting me not think about anything for that moment, and giving my mind some rest. The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. But these workers need rest too and you give us that in which we gladly accept. Find your peace, because in your time of rest, God will speak gentle words of guidance.
Hard to tell that whether the issues of the coronavirus pandemic, and the changes that protestors are asking for are making things in the USA better or worse. I truly have no idea what that answer is.
I read that the city council in Minneapolis are considering disbanding the police department and in other major cities in the United States they considering defunding the police. Some “politician” said that 911 calls and asking for police assistance is for people of privilege, and I would argue the contrary. I have used 911 countless of times in my life, when I was a child and even a younger adult, and I was taking food stamps and needing help from government assistance programs. I was in no way close to be affluent or high society, or a place of privilege because of my race or economic status, or place where I lived. And I needed police to help me with people who were violent. Sure, I also had my share of bad policing, and I’d get upset for about a week, but then I’d regain my faith in humanity.
I guess the point I am trying to make is, I needed the police at times in my life. When my house was being shot at by nazi and kkk groups, the police was there to give us comfort and some helped picked up the broken glass and in the rebuilding process. When my parents were receiving death threats, police were there, doing there job. Of course we ran into police misconduct, such as getting a ticket for $900.00 for… ummm… well… we really have no idea… Or police mistaking someone in my family for the wrong person. Or being unlawfully detained as well. That happens, again, 90 percent of the people in the world are good and well 10 percent has issues, regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or occupation.
Is disbanding the police department a solution? Does that mean that city will have ZERO law enforcement? I’m not too sure what is going on? Defunding the police? Does that money go… well where? I dunno, initially I found all this very terrifying… I mean I immediately thought I need to get a gun now, since the police won’t be there to protect me from people who want to kill me. Defunding the police, or disbanding the police sounds like the beginning of one of those post apocalyptic Hollywood movies. But instead of being fearful, I’d like to dig deep into this idea of how we solve the issue of police brutality and whether the protesters are demanding too much and whether our leaders are just giving people what they want rather than what they need…
So, I got a college buddy that lives in Camden, New Jersey. About 3 years ago, when I first came to Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church, I knew at the time he was living in Philadelphia. I called him, and he told me that he is now living in Camden, New Jersey. Which made me worry because I know Camden was notorious for being a crime ridden city. I asked, “What are you doing over there?!” His responses shocked me the most, “I moved here because it’s safer…” WHHHAAATTT???? He said that Camden disbanded the police 3 years before he moved there and the crime rate dropped. It’s not perfectly safe, but he said it felt safer than a bigger city.
So…. I thought I’d call him again… just too see if Camden still is doing well and also what does a “police” free city look like. To my shock, Camden has not gotten any worse. Also, too my shock… umm.. there are police in Camden. Soooo… what happened? Apparently, Camden disbanded the current police, then put different regulations and brought in a new police department… some of the police officers were able to come back to work. So…. Did everything work? Maybe…. Policing got better, communities feel safer, and more importantly, police are working actively with communities and schools. Just so you know, I have to protect is anonymity because he is a current officer in Camden, New Jersey. and also, he was a police officer in Philly and asked to be transferred to Camden, for his family’s safety. According to his testimony, violent crime is the lowest they have seen in a long time, but they did see an uptick on homicides compared to last year, but wasn’t anything like 2010, poverty is still an issue, but they want to work with community leaders and civic management companies to see if they can find a solution.
But I asked him, would defunding and disbanding the police work in bigger cities, like Minnesota or New York, any other metropolitan area. He kinda laughed at this, because one, he doesn’t know too much about the Minneapolis police department. Camden had to disband it’s police department in 2013 because of corruption issues, not necessarily because of police brutality. Also, he said it depends on how they disband the police and bring in a new type of policing. Also Camden has far less people than Minneapolis, so who know how people are going to react?
Every city is different, every situation is unique, and police departments have diverse situations they have to encounter. What is the answer for people demanding police defunding or police dismantling? Nobody really knows. As protests rage on, and more stories of police misconduct happening over media being highlighted in snippets of pictures or videos or even through twitter tweets… more and more people will want to express a high demand of action without thinking about possible consequences.
So…. CAN WE PLEASE JUST GET THE STORIES OF GOOD STUFF COMING FROM POLICE AND PROTESTORS WORKING TOGETHER TO SHOW THIS COUNTRY THEY ARE AMERICANS REGARDLESS OF BEING A COP OR PROTESTER! PLEASE GIVE US SOMETHING GOOD!!!
Before beginning, I want to make clear that I am not doing this to favor any political agenda. What is happening in the United States is about expression of pain, mixed in with acts of violence and destruction. This is not about us versus them. Any time I mention he word, justice or act justly is not that I am being one of those social justice warriors. Justice is about doing things right and acting and behaving with dignity. Justice is what law enforcements are trying to maintain and justice is what people are asking, and in the midst of the protests both sides are naturally looking for the same thing. Mixed in al of this are people who are hellbent on destruction. There will be misfits on both sides of protesters and law enforcements, that is what we have seen during these times. Power must be taken away from these miscreants. Ok, I just wanted to throw that disclaimer before I begin this.
I haven’t spoken about it, nor did I include any of it during the Pentecost service. During the moment of silence I didn’t offer any prayers for people who are protesting, or to the law enforcement, or even for stores that find themselves burned down, or even other buildings like police stations, capital building that have been burned down or looted.
I didn’t say anything because I have to be careful how I use this church pulpit. And I’m tired of the same incidents happening time and time again in the USA. Also this stuff always stresses me out and dealing with the up and down emotions I was going through during the week. Yet, last week for the virtual service, for some unknown reason, I was compelled to use the campfire scene. But I felt God wanted me to use that image. And I realize that image is all about how the Spirit of God shines even in the darkest of times. God is still here with us.
I am extremely exhausted right now. Last week and even today I have been gathering up a ton of stories for all over the country about racism, people in law enforcement, shop owners, and protester. At the same time suddenly, I must make sense of my past experiences of racial injustice, stereotyping, race related violence, and police misconduct. Those things I mentioned is a reality for all minorities. But, I don’t want to talk about my experiences, because those are mine, and those are what I must battle with day in and day out. But it is important to talk about what is going on right now in this country and where is God in all of this?
We have reached a boiling point in our country. The Coronavirus pandemic, to the massive unemployment rate, to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder in Georgia from two white men, to A Black Birdwatcher in Central Park having the police called on him by a white woman, to the tipping point of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota a Black man, being choked to death by a white police officer. Now everything has exploded. That frustration level, of years of racial intolerance, police brutality on minority communities, and the chaos caused by the coronavirus, and unemployment, just broke. Suddenly, we are wondering where is God in all of this?
Where is God? Well just like Pentecost has taught us, the light of Christ is still with us, the fire that is given by the Holy Spirit is with us and is opposite of the fire’s that are caused by unlawful rioters and looters. We worship a God who detests violence and destruction. A God who stands side by side lawful police officers, and lawful protesters. A God who is against police brutality and rioters or looters.
We have been learning about John for the past few weeks. Don’t forget Jesus has told us that we will not be orphaned and that the Holy Spirit is given to us, the Advocate. Also, in John Jesus has prayer on our behalf, knowing that we are still in this world and being part of this world, we need to continue to mission of Jesus Christ to all people. And in the book of Acts, Pentecost has taught us how the light of the Holy Spirit is upon us, even during the most dreadful and darkest night. Never give up hope.
What can we do during this time? We do what we should have been doing even before all this tension occurred. Look no further than Micah 6:8. My favorite Bible verse because it is simple, direct, and it is a reminder of what God has told us to do and is telling us to do right now. “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Do those three things, especially during these times.
Act justly, everyone has the right to life. Doesn’t matter whether you are black, white, or Asian, whether you are in law enforcement or a protester. Nobody needs to go through what minorities go through day in and day out in the USA or in the world. George Floyd did not have to die in Minnesota. Act justly is about giving all people a fair chance at living and pursuing the American dream, and nobody should do anything that infringes on the right to live and the right to live well. Justice is not about advocating violence and destruction, justice is not death, justice is not about getting mine and forget about the other, it is not about us versus them.
Love mercy, is about having compassion towards one another. Protesters and police officers is not about us versus them, because in the end of the day everyone is human, they all have a family to go to at the end of the day. Listen to people’s story, respect their right to live. Give what you can and be generous. No need to hoard all the toilet papers and meats for one’s own gain. Nor need to harm other people and restrict other people to protect yourself.
Walk humbly with God is about doing justice and loving mercy. It is not about looting, destroying, or killing people in handcuffs. It is not about destruction. Walking with God is helping God, about continuing the mission of Jesus Christ to all people. Imagine what our world will be if we just did these things. We have to help God in these circumstances. God is holding the world in His hands, but the world is crumbling, our social responsibilities are being broken, and the foundations of this world are turning into sand. God is holding the world in His hands, but its really hard to hold a world that is crumbling and turning into sand, slipping through God’s hands. We can help God. By acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly, we put our hands in between God’s fingers and catch the crumbling world. It is our Christian responsibility to do such acts of mercy, be act justly, and be humble. Be safe out there, respect all people regardless of occupation or skin color. It’s time to rebuild the foundations of social responsibility that are crumbling before our own eyes.
I grew up Southern Baptist in Cincinnati, Ohio. I started to go to Mount Caramel Baptist Church, I was baptized there, had a lot of friends there and the pastor was a big mentor for me. When it came time to choose a college, I looked into a ton of Baptist schools, but I went to Hanover College, in Hanover, Indiana, which is a PCUSA affiliated school. I still believed that I was Baptist, and when it came to choose a seminary to get my Master’s of Divinity, I was set on going to Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY. But I didn’t feel too comfortable there, and I ended up wandering off campus during a visitation trip and found my way to the bottom of the hill where I ended up on the campus of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I really liked the feel on campus and I decided to apply to that school and ended up going there. I decided to be ordained as a…. Southern Baptist… yeah…
Anyways, I believed that I was Southern Baptist for a very long time in my life, even though my educational background was God trying to guide me to be a Presbyterian. Sometimes you don’t realize how God is guiding you because you might be too stubborn or even unaware of how the Holy Spirit is making these significant decisions for you! After some time, I went to South Korea and started working in a Presbyterian church, but I was still stubborn enough to think that I was still being a Southern Baptist. Even though now, theologically I am becoming more and more Presbyterian. Heck, I even married a Presbyterian! And her father is a retired Presbyterian pastor! Now… after I got married, we moved back to the USA where I began looking for work in Southern Baptist churches. And now my faith journey, my life narrative is about to hit a change.
I got a job working at the Korean Church of Tulsa, great church, for about 3 months… Here’s the thing… I don’t mind naming places that I’ve been and being open to what I have experienced, but I am not going to name any names. Everything was cool at that church, but then the senior pastor there (no longer there) made my life a living hell. At one point he grabbed me in the hallway and told me to leave this church. I yelled at him in his office, not knowing what was going on, and where all of this came from. The church deacons sided with me, and told me to stay and apologize to the senior pastor, I played the game, but he refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
I will spare you all the messed up situations that I had to endure during this time. But simply, that pastor was a very unstable.
I decided with his blessing that leaving the church quickly and quietly would be the best choice. I instantly became lost, not knowing how a church or a pastor can act in such a way. Impossible to find any church because I could not get a recommendation from the current church I was working at. Then I received a very unlikely call. And the one church that gave me a shot was Long Island Korean Presbyterian Church of Port Washington. The general presbyter however asked me a ton of questions which made me wonder about my journey of faith.
I had to question… am I still Southern Baptist? I had to go all the way back and reflect on how God has led me up to that point. Sometimes God is doing everything He can to influence you to go in a certain direction, but because us human beings are so darn stubborn or unaware of what’s going on, we miss all the signals. I realized I have been missing signals, turns, signs since I arrived at Hanover College. And it is absolutely amazing that God never gave up on me. He decided, “Yeah this dude keeps missing where I need him to go, but I will keep giving him opportunities.” And, even when I was pushed out of a Southern Baptist church in Tulsa, God’s hands were involved in everything. And He knew that I would be in good hands, and also God decided to limit all my options at that point and basically give me a Matrix like choice of taking the red pill or blue pill.
In order to work as a pastor in Long Island I had to become a Presbyterian. I took the red pill and had to take a few ordination exams AGAIN! But thank the Lord almighty for leading me and basically thumping me on the head to say, “You are Presbyterian! Can’t you SEE!” I went to a Presbyterian college, Presbyterian seminary, worked in a Presbyterian Church, married a Presbyterian, and even have a father in law that’s a retired Presbyterian pastor. Yeah… I got it now… I see!
So, my faith journey, where did it lead me? Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church. It’s dang good to be where I am! The churchy is perfect for me. I love the fishing holes, my kids love the space to run, and my wife is going to school pursing a Nursing degree. God continues to guide all of us and give us blessings all day!
When I was younger between the age of 21 and being ordained as a Presbyterian Pastor, I used to play poker with my friends and also play in any nearby casino. I would take $100 dollars with me go to the low stakes limit Texas Holdem table, play get a little more money and then start moving my way up to higher stake tables. Get as much money and come home. If I end up losing the $100, I just go home, no harm done.
One day was like no other day. I come to a Casino I know all too well, and they were holding a No Limit Texas Holdem tournament for $100. So I decided great! (I usually do well in tournaments) I got my chips took my seat and, ready, set, GO! The cards began shuffling and were dealt out. I was in the first position, normally a good place to fold, regardless of your hand, but I had 2 Kings! That is one of the best starting hands in the game! With a full table of eight people, that's pretty good! And then I decided to go ALL IN (which means, you put all of your chips in the middle). This was a dumb move in any possibility, I have no idea what compelled me to do so... like the Holy Spirit moving in me, to teach me a lesson? I was excited though and very confident that I'd win. At the time I was hoping that there were a couple of poor suckers and inexperienced players calling me with their losing cards. I stood up, all anxious, but confident, even talking a little trash, just trying to be annoying, just to get a call. Everyone begins to instantly fold, until one guy called me! Mano-Y-Mano!!! I remember right before showing our hands, I said, "The only thing that can beat me is..." The dude showed his hands, "POCKET ACES!" He had the best starting hand in the game. The most unlikely hand to show up in the mix of pocket Kings. What are the chances that would happen?! Well chances of repeating these hands would be a very low probability. I lost, grabbed my hoodie, and went home, I lasted not more than 5 minutes in the tournament. I was in the casino for less than 20 minutes. My night was over.
The reason I am sharing this story is about when is a time we gamble with our lives in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic. Well, my county has gone from red to yellow, which is awesome! But not much has changed for me. Two things I am considering highly, one, I am confident (holding pocket Aces felling) the other things I'm thinking about not so confident (holding pocket Kings).
Church and childcare. My church will open on June 7th if everything goes well. Our church is small, spacious and naturally we practice social distancing! We have masks ready, hand sanitizers, temperature readers, arranging seating, no singing, and a shorter service. I feel like I am holding pocket Aces, we can't lose, there is no doubt that if we do these measures properly, we will be safe. At the church we are safer than any grocery store you would go to right now. We have sanitized the church every week, everyone will be wearing masks, ushers will give out hand sanitizer, we have wipes at each pew, and movement is limited. You can't lose with pocket Aces when you play them right, and we are playing them right.
However, childcare situation. Going from red to yellow allows childcare centers now to be open. The risk is real here... You see at the church people will naturally sit down and stay in place for the duration of a short worship. Children will be all over the place running around, being kids. I tried to put a mask on my kids, Norah, who is five, and Benjamin, who is 2. Norah can have a mask on for about 2 minutes before she loses her mind, Ben, about 5 seconds the longest. Note: Kids are not required to wear a mask. My kids will be on the front line doing the most interacting compared to any adult. I feel like if I am sending my kids to daycare, I am like, holding pocket Kings... great hand to have... but not the best.
I have also hear that now, kids are getting seriously sick from COVID-19... I can't live with myself if my kids get sick and knowing that I could have prevented that. Also, lets just say, they get COVID-19, but are healthy, good, then they give it to me, fine, I'll be fine... but what about my church? I have to preach every Sunday, is my custodian going to be ok? My older congregation be ok?
What would you do? You want to go ALL IN with pocket Kings?
So... Being at home, not only have I been forcibly enamored by YouTube videos, since I can't do to much. Naturally I'd like to go fishing more often, but with the kids home.. well fishing needs to be limited, and also, everyone else is fishing... because they can't work... so it's hard to find places to fish from the bank. So instead of going out to fish, I've been watching people fish... and also listening to a lot of music.... a lot...
You will always find a few artists I will listen to a lot these days. I always listen to Bill Gaithers, Sam Cooke, Old Crow Medicine Show, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, and Roger Alan Wade. Those are usually staples in my playlist.
But throughout the years my playlist has become... different.. Umm.. like, a lot of different kinds of music. When I was little I never listened to Sam Cook, Roger Alan Wade, of anything country, folk, or gospel. But nowadays, that is what I prefer. But I still like the stuff that gave my love for music, such as punk, hardcore, ska, metal... but no pop music... never have... I dunno…
Maybe you guys are like me when it comes to music. Often times our taste of music changes because we grow up, we discover something new, we appreciate other stuff because our minds just kinda open up to other things.
So imagine how much you have also changed as well? Just take the time to think about how you have changed since you were a teenager to where you are right now? Maybe you got more stubborn or less stubborn more compassionate or less compassionate. How is it that you have changed? How is it that God has changed you, or how is it that God is continuing to change you. I can think of a ton of stuff that have changed in my life that have made me change the way I think, so I encourage you to take some time of reflection, because well... what else are you going to do when you are stuck at home!
As you can imagine, during this time of the stay at home order, I am spending a ton of time on the internet. I am doing work on the church website and Facebook page, not to mention doing work on virtual service filming and editing. Well because my eyes are glued on the computer and I get the chance to look up "stuff" on the internet. Well, one thing leads to another and I found myself watching a ton of videos of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) players embracing "the bat flip."
What's a bat flip? This is a bat flip...
I hope the guy on the on-deck circle is ok, because that bat is comin right at him! LOOK OUT!
Beautiful right? I am not much of an MLB fan, but I do watch it occasionally, and in the USA, bat flips are seen as disrespectful and "unsportsmanlike." Really? why? Are we really worried about hurting someone's feelings? In the United States, if you did a bat flip, you are most likely going to be intentionally hit with the baseball at your next at bat.
But I can't really seeing this as disrespectful, I merely see it as entertaining for the fans and a way of expression from the baseball player. And it's interesting to me because in the United States in which we embrace individualism and self expression the most out of any world country, but in baseball, everyone must act the same, even if you annihilate the baseball 500 feet over the right field wall. You are supposed to act like nothing happened. yet in Korea, who boosts conformity in everyday social interactions, but yet in the KBO players can bat flip away! I have even seen bat flips happen when it's not even close to a homerun, but whatever, I love it.
I don't think it's about showing off, but about having fun. I think in the USA we are so darn concerned about hurting other people's feelings so much we forgot to have a little fun. I dunno.. I don't have any theological reflection onthis, just a social insight. I hope you enjoyed, and maybe if you go out and play baseball with some friends, just know, it's ok to Bat flip away!
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).