Last week at on Sunday at church we talked about Jesus healing a demon possessed man, who went by the name Legion. At service I focused on how this man named himself and defined himself as “legion” for he had many demons inside of him. He defined himself through his ailment, disease, possession. Which is heartbreaking. Your ailments, stress, disorder, possession, shortcomings in life are not what should define you! Your name, it is your identity, it is the name that God calls you by to come to His fold. We should remember that! There is nothing or nobody that can tell you who you are! You have a name, it is your own, given to you by your parents, who God calls you by.
But this passage is so rich with other life learning lessons. One in particular is that fact that the name once named “Legion” is a person who walks among the dead. In the story, Legion is found near tombs of the dead, in the shadows, in darkness, totally isolated from other people.
It reminds me about that life we have right now and how we live that life. Do you find yourself in “tombs” living among the dead? OR do you find yourself living life to the fullest, without regrets, without shame, without burden? Well the truth is most of you might find yourself a bit in between the living among the dead and living joyfully.
But what is important to me is the choices we make when life doesn’t seem as go lucky and cheerful. Those moments that you do find yourself wandering in the tombs, walking among the dead. We have a choice. We can mope around and be one of the dead, buried in the tomb. Choose to be immobile, powerless, and frightened. Or we can choose in the moments of darkness, to rise above the challenging experiences. We can believe and hope that living life is more important than a life just waiting to die.
As Christian we are called out of the tomb to live again, each day and every morning. We are called to look forward to the day and hope for tomorrow. No longer do we live as if our past haunts us and those burdens of regret bury us. Our chains are broken, and we are called by Christ to be guides for the people we may meet. We are not the dead living amongst the living, but we are called to live life abundantly through God.
Puzzles are supposed to be challenging and fun. As a matter of fact we bought a few puzzles during the time of the pandemic and it was fun doing it all together as a family time and time again. They are inexpensive, but provide nice breaks in the day and also great to do it with family. We had a lot of laughs trying to get the puzzle look like the picture on the box.
But there are puzzles out there that can be quite discouraging. For example. The picture above is the puzzle we bought through amazon. Look at how tiny these pieces are! Holy buckets! They are so tiny! This is a 350 piece puzzle that each piece is less than one inch across. It took my wife less than 10 seconds to realize that this is not what she wants to do on her day off. And I quickly followed her lead because I do not want to do this by myself. This puzzle offers more challenges than fun!
But I guess sometimes life offers more challenges than fun. And sometimes we gotta know when the challenges are not worth the torture. It’s time to let it go. But I do believe that every challenge has its reward, but at the same time I do think that each challenge is given to us to the specific person or certain times.
But don’t ever get discouraged in life when you feel the challenge is too much. It is ok to let it go! It doesn’t ever mean you are good enough or smart enough or strong enough. It just means the challenge was not meant for you!
That being said… does anyone out there want a 350 piece puzzle divided that is smaller than the tip your pinky finger? Please let me know. The picture is really cute. It is of three very cute puppies. God bless everyone and God be with he person that wants to take this challenge on!
So, a few nights ago, after I put the kids to sleep. It feels awfully too quiet. So out of curiosity I went upstairs to check on them. Norah, not quite asleep, but a little wiggly, Ben normally should be asleep is not. Lying on his back in the bed, with his arms up in front of his face. Cute and weird kid, but whatever. However, I noticed that there was something glistening from his middle finger. I could tell because of the ridiculously bright night light he keeps on while he sleeps. I could see this long, dangly, shimmering slime hanging on his finger about to fall on his face. It was a long piece of snot, that he was… I dunno..... enjoying?
I immediately said to him, “What are you doing?” He doesn’t respond but proceeded to want to wipe the goo on his shirt, which I promptly stopped and told him to wash his hands and go to sleep. I really have no clue what he was trying to do, why he was doing it, and what was he thinking. I will probably never know. But it made me realize that I find myself, asking my children, “what-are-you-doing” question a ton. It is quite common that I use this question every day, multiple of times.
Then I think about if that is what God is saying to us, every day multiple times. God must look be looking at us, and wondering, “What are you doing?”
And many times, we leave God speechless, and without any sort of response. Just think about it. God has a different perspective than us just as a parent has a different perspective than their children. So anything we do, especially when our lives seem to go off the rails, God must be asking us, “What are you doing?” It’s funny because God knows more than us. God can see every possibility of the choices we can make in our life. And ever though God is doing His best to steer us in the least harmful, least stressful, and most beneficial path, sometimes we go in a different direction, leaving God scratching His head and asking us, “What are you doing?”
Just remember when you feel your life is going off the rails, God is still there with you. And even if the process of getting back on the rails is slow and possibly painful, it might just be the path that God needs you to be to grow and mature into the being that He intended you to be. And even if you miss a turn that God needed you to take, have no fear because God is there to redirect you back on the right path. Never, think that all your struggles will last forever, they never do. Just be patient, trust in God, trust in His guidance.
Even though God may see us as mere children, lying in our beds with a long booger dangling from our fingers, ready to fall on our face, God still loves us! God may be confused in what we do what we do, and why we do it, but just like a loving parent, He is going to redirect us; telling us to wash your hands, and get some rest. Tomorrow will be another day that will be full of surprises, both good and bad. Life is long, so be patient, and live as if you have something to hope for, because life can be wonderful, fun, and full of clarity.
So, the internet has been down all day and night at the home and church. Which is annoying since I do a lot of work using the internet to get Bible commentaries, theological journals, blogs, and just any ideas that I need to prepare for Sunday worship. But it’s not bad, luckily, I do have a ton of books and commentaries I can use at the church, it just takes a bit more time, but also totally not a big deal. However, what is a big deal is the fact that most of the internet usage in the house and possibly at the church is for entertainment for the kids. I know that sound horrible, that the internet takes care of the kids. But I need that in order to get most of my work done with little distractions from the little ones. Especially when Eunkyung is working 12 hour shifts at the hospital.
So, I pretty much lost my babysitter for the entire day. And the entire day I was dreading what to do with the kids without the internet entertaining them! I was seriously nervous picking up Ben and Norah after school thinking, I don’t know what to do when they played with the toys, role playing, playing shopping, and whatever idea they have in their big heads!
As usual, the kids come home and they immediately told me they are bored, right when they entered the door. My nightmare is coming true! I asked them to play with their hundreds of toys, but they didn’t want to. (makes me wonder why I bought all those dang little toys when they get bored with them overnight. So, I said lets play in the backyard? Nope… not that either. Then I said, what if we went fishing? And they first said no because they were tired of catching the same ol’ bluegills and green sunfish or trout. So I asked them what if we tried something different. What is you tried to use artificial baits, like daddy and try to see if you can catch a largemouth bass. They seemed to like the challenge. And I told them that if they can beat me in numbers of fish caught, I would buy them whatever they want for dinner and get them a new toy.
Game on. I took them to the tough and pressured Canoe Creek. I set them both up with a hook and plastic worm, and instructed them, to make a cast parallel to the bank, pointing out noticeable drop-offs. They went to work, and so did I. I figured I should win this easily. Canoe Creek can humble you. You may not catch 10 bass like in other places, but I know the tricks to conquering Canoe Creek. So I thought! Norah amazingly struck first blood. I looked back at her and I see her pulling on her fishing pole straight up with the fishing pole bent over. She was reeling frantically. I dropped my stuff and starting running towards her. I held her pole so she can reel up the line as fast as she can. However, the fish gave a nice little jump and spit the hook out. But she was totally hooked in getting a second chance. I encouraged her to do exactly what she did the first time. She worked this plastic worm like a pro. Making long casts and just working it slowly back to her. Letting it settle at the bottom, waiting ten seconds, and then twitching the rod very slightly, then reeling the slack line. Soon enough she got her second chance. She saw her line jump and she reeled until her line was tight and set the hook on the fish as if she was the great pro bass fisherman, Jimmy Houston. This time the fish didn’t get away. She reeled it in and got a nice 1.5 lb largemouth bass. She immediately casts in the same area a few more times and then hooks into another. She muscled it in towards the bank, and it was bigger than her last one. 1.75lb largie. We spent about two hours, and she got 2 largemouth bass and I ended up with one, and mine probably was only about a pound, not worth weighing. I took the loss that day. But I am glad I lost to my 7 year old daughter. Even Ben got a couple of bites, but we were too late in setting the hook.
Best fish story so far! I am so thankful that the internet was down. I was however, hoping that the internet would be up and running when we came home, but no luck! I complained to Judy Pursley and the kids reminded me that I lost today and that I owe them dinner and a prize. So it was McDonalds and Taco Bell and some sort of weird little toys that will probably lose it’s meaning tomorrow or will get lost in the house or end up lodged in my foot when I stumble downstairs in the middle of the night trying to get a glass of water.
But the point is when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. Yesterday, Norah and Ben learned how to fish using artificial lures and conquered Canoe Creek State Park, not to mention catch more fish and bigger fish than daddy. I am so dang proud of them. I am happy that God shut down the boring internet and gave us this day.
But seriously… breeze-line internet service, if you are reading this, I need the internet tomorrow… for real! And God if you care about what will happen in worship this upcoming Sunday, lets get this internet to work. Maybe God is telling me to go to the local library to finish my work. Also God, next time I go fishing with the kids, let me win, I’m way to competitive when it comes to fishing, that’s really the only thing that I can have a big ego over!
**I wrote this article last week, that was when I was having internet troubles, all is good now**
Yesterday a person took the live of the most vulnerable in our society. An 18-year-old man killed 19 children and attempted to take the life of his own grandmother (who is currently in critical condition). Children and elderly are people we are called to protect and as a nation, as a society, we failed miserably.
Once again, we are left to pick up the broken pieces. We are left with feelings of vulnerability, shame, anger, and fear. This cannot keep happening. I cannot keep writing this article time and time again. Even with police officers on site, our young ones in the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas still felt the receiving end of death and carnage.
The devil lives among us. Anger, hate, disappointment, dissatisfaction, death, and chaos are the devil's attributes that are imbedded in our society, and it affects us all. Uvalde, Texas is a small town, from what I read, 20,000 people. I live in Altoona, PA with probably about the same amount of people. The devil does not care whether you live in a big city, a rural town, or a small community like ours.
This morning I had to take my two children into a place that now I have to question their safety. I take them into a possible place that they can be harmed or even killed. But more so it makes me think that as a parent I also could be possible that I am training the next possible killer.
As a parent, my children are my responsibility. I must be vigilant and aware of what they are going through and how they are feeling. I also have the responsibility to raise them to have a strong mental fortitude, a healthy self-esteem, and instill in them that as Christians our primary goal is to always protect life.
This is a call for all people with children, young or old. Be aware of what your children go through. You don’t have to be a restrictive jail warden, but you must continue to be caring and loving. See all the stress that goes around them and how it may affect them. Also be a person that can be a good example for them. Be the model of responsibility, strength, and courage. Some days will be easier than others, but if we can all wake up each morning and be positive, be diligent, be kind, then maybe, just maybe we can give less power to the evilness that struck our nation yesterday. Maybe we can take away the powers of hate, anger, and death if we choose to live well and live responsibly each and every morning.
Today we mourn with the community of Uvalde, Texas. We feel the pain and hurts of our fellow brothers and sisters that have to painful wake up this day. We pray for better tomorrows. Today we reflect on our lives and how we choose to live it. You have a choice each day and every moment to either be hateful or joyful, be retributive or forgiving, living or dying. May God be with us during this time of healing.
Today, Eunkyung and I celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary. I know for most people in my congregation, that’s like nothing! It’s still baby years! But for Eunkyung and I it means everything!
I feel like we have accomplished so much in 9 years and that we still have the motivation and excitement to see what God has planned for us! Since we got married, we traveled to Palau, Malaysia, Vietnam, and all over the USA and South Korea. We still have plans in wanting to travel in Europe, so maybe God will plan that for us some time later. Together, we have two beautiful children and couldn’t be happier with what God has blessed us with. Eunkyung became a citizen, earned a BSN and got a job working as a registered nurse! So proud of her! Meanwhile since I have been with her, I was a youth pastor, then associate pastor, then senior pastor. I must say, we did pretty well! Not too shabby!
Eunkyung and I had our share of hurdles and growing pains, but through resilience, faith, and encouragement, we overcame with God’s help. I know that in our lives together ahead there will be more challenges, but I know that we will be ready for them!
I cannot wait to see what the future lies ahead! I can’t wait to see how she grows, how I grow, and how we grow together. I can’t wait to see what Norah and Ben will look like as they grow older, what will their character be like, and just see them growing up!
What is God’s plans for us in the future? Will we be ready? Will we continue to live joyfully, regardless of the bumps in the road? What does God see that we cannot see yet? The anticipation is killing me! But I am excited to share more and more years with Eunkyung! Many more years and countless of blessing to come!
Last week at church we looked at the passage in John 21:1-19. I encouraged the congregation to take a look in this passage this week because it is so rich in symbolism and meaning.
For example, the passage is all about re0instating Peter. Peter was the disciple that betrayed Jesus three times at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. Since Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. At the third time, Peter felt heartbroken, like anyone would probably feel. Again, imagine if your wife or husband had to ask you three times if you love them. It would hurt! But as Jesus is confirming Peter’s place among the other disciples again, Jesus gives Peter a task, feed my sheep, take care of my sheep, and follow Me. The message last week in a nutshell was that all huma beings need is life are two things. That is to belong and have a purpose. Peter was given both by Jesus. And that’s it!
I just realize, I could have just said this in my sermon in Sunday and saved everyone like 15 minutes. Hmm…
But I asked the congregation to look at this passage because it is so rich in meaning and symbols. First thing I want to talk about is the state of Peter’s being after Jesus had been crucified. Peter is dang near lost! He is stressed and depressed and when I feel that way, I go fishing; hence that is what he did. He went fishing and the other disciples followed him, probably because the disciples know that he is stressed and depressed, and we should always keep watch for ur loved ones when they are really down in depression. Unfortunately, Peter and the disciples caught nothing. I am sure this isn’t helping Peter’s depression. You know that saying, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work?” That’s a dang lie! Catching zero fish stinks and so frustrating! That rough and sometimes you come out feeling worse than before! Possible Peter may have felt that way. But Jesus is coming to the rescue! Jesus instructs them to throw the nets on the other side. And it works!
The metaphor is very rich here! First off, sometimes when you feel emotionally compromised and just full of stress, sometimes it is impossible to find any joy in anything you do. But sometimes all it takes is Jesus’ guidance to help along the way. So that is why, as Christians, we must be still and quiet and pay attention to His voice before prayer, during prayer, and after prayer. Be aware of the resources Christ is giving you to help in our particular situation. And sometimes what we need to do is throw our nets on the other side. Basically do something that is unfamiliar with, something strange and even uncomfortable.
Now continuing on to the narrative. Peter knows that it is Jesus when he hears His voice. Peter puts on his clothes and jumps into the water. Wait… what? Did you catch that? Don’t you want to take off your outer garment when you go swimming in water? And does that mean Peter was naked when he was fishing? If I saw a person on a boat fishing nearly naked, I would be concerned! But this is a metaphor about covering yourself up before the Lord. We can even make a connection with Peter’s covering himself to Adam and Eve covering themselves up before God in the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam, Eve, and Lord felt shame for their sin and their shamefulness is represented by covering themselves up. Interesting right? It is kinda like when we did something bad and then all we want to do is hide from people. The good news however, is by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, sin has no power over us, and shame and guilt are no longer that rule over us. Now it isn’t that we shouldn’t care if we do something bad, but more so about when we make mistakes, we own up to it because we know that we were already sinners, but that when bad things happen to us or when we cause bad things to happen, we are given power to overcome, repair, and rebuild.
Jesus invites the disciples to come over to have breakfast. That would be a good way to start your day! Breakfast with Jesus! Hey, that sounds a bit catchy! I wonder if we can change our end of the month breakfast fellowship to call it Breakfast with Jesus instead of Breakfast Club. I kinda like the change! Anyways always start your day with prayer and thinking about God’s plan for you! Think about morning prayer to be a part of your to do list. I believe that accomplishing one task will give you motivation to do the next task, and the next task. So, make your first task prayer, complete it so that you have the motivation to do more tasks.
And how interesting is that having breakfast with Jesus is none other than fish and bread! Remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people? Remember what Jesus uses to feed those people? That is right! Fish and loaves! It is not by accident that we have this image again. Jesus fed the 5,000 with these elements and now Jesus is feeding His disciples using the same. Instead of the little boy’s meal being used to create the miracle, it is the disciples catch that makes this meal possible. So the miracle makers are us! We too can feed ourselves and others by our ability given by God.
So that is what I can start you all with. I encourage you all to read John 21:1-19 this week! It is so rich with meaning. And you can find your own meaning as well. Pray that God gives you enlightenment and understanding when you go into this passage.
Cindy Lego had some really cool insight about this passage that I never thought about. She told me that when she was reading this passage the song, “Jesus Loves Me” popped into her mind. And interestingly enough, as Peter responds to Jesus’s question of love three times, in the song we repeat that Jesus loves me three times! I think that is pretty cool to find this connection!
Anyways, I encourage you all to treat morning prayer like a task. Complete that first task of prayer so that it encourages you to do another task. I encourage to read John 21:1-19. And remember that you are given the ability to feed many people and be the miracle worker for God. You are given talent, ability and resources to bring hope to many people. May the love of Christ be with you and may God bless you today and the next day, and beyond!
What Does the Christian’s Life Offer?
Why be a Christian? I mean if it is to be a good person, well you can be a good person without being a Christian. I know plenty of good people who don’t go to church and who have never made a public confession to follow Christ. I know plenty of good people who are Buddhist, Muslims, Jews, and Atheists to name a few. However, I do think that being a Christian does make you a better person, but I think there is more to the Christian life than just being a good person.
Does suddenly being a Christian give you wealth and comfort? Unfortunately, no. I know it’s sad! But you can’t have faith if the only reason to have faith is for material wealth. Probably because, to God, that material wealth has no special position in His eyes. It is not the material, the car, the clothes, the money that defines the person. What God is going to care about is your character and how you live your life. Not what you buy or own. Essentially, wealth and material has nothing to do with being a Christian. You can be righteous in God’s eyes whether you are rich or poor. What essentially following Christ does for you is give you peace of mind regardless of your economic status. You may not gain material wealth or even comfort, but you will find happiness in Him.
And as far as living life in comfort, unfortunately following Christ is the opposite of comfort! The Christian life is all about being put into challenging situations. And it isn’t because God is maniacal and likes to watch His creation struggle. It is because He likes to watch His creation triumph over all life situations. God likes watching us problem solve. Basically God likes to see us trying. The Christian life is about doing not settling.
Does the Christian life offer a life after death? Of course! How is this possible? Because the power of God’s love. You see, God loves us so much that there is nothing that can separate our connection of the love with Him. Death is never the end of God’s love. God’s love is about how we are always with Him whether it is in this life or the next. God loves us so much that He cannot bear not being with us. So in this life, God is with you always! And when we pass away, God is still with us, and hence live eternally with Him. Through God’s love, anything is possible! If God cares and love, then God will make it work out, always does.
But being a Christian in order to have an afterlife should not be a reason to be a Christian. The Christian life has so much to offer. We don’t follow Jesus just because we fear nothingness or even hell when we die. We follow Christ basically because through Christ we can be a good person by having our morals and ethics to the test, and seek happiness regardless of social or economic status. Seek joy when life gets confusing or though. But there is also more!
The Christian life offers purpose! We are given a mission by God through the example and words of Christ. From the beginning to the end of the Bible it is all about how God created us to be co-creators and caretakers with Him. Think about it. In Genesis, God created Adam and gave him a task, that is to name all living beings that are created. Adam, is a co-creator! Also, Jesus is always giving His disciples things to do. Go to town by town, heal the sick, cure diseases, and exorcise the demon possessed. Jesus feeds the multitude telling the disciples to find some food in order for Jesus to work on dividing the food into portions that all people can be well fed. Jesus telling the disciples to find a colt and donkey to go to Jerusalem. Jesus tells the disciples to prepare a room for them to celebrate the Passover meal. Jesus telling His disciples that the power is given to you! Not to mention all the parables that give us life lessons and thoughtfulness. Even in Paul’s letters offer much needed guidance and wisdom to live a Christian life well. The Christian life offers a life to be a good person, happiness, life after death, and a purpose. But even if you find yourself in a position where you cannot fathom or feel these things, then just know this. The Christian life offers a God who loves you so much, and that God is willing to do anything for you, even come down as a human in Jesus, to be your friend, and even willing to die on the cross, to be resurrected, and to be with you more intimately in the form of the Holy Spirit.
And it’s good to feel loved by someone. So, know that no matter what, in every life situation, in every bad decision made, God loves you always.
Our church is looking beautiful! Church members have been coming over for the last three days help cleaning the inside and outside of the church. It really does look amazing. Once the weather gets warmer, we will start to plant some flowers and get some mulch put in.
Truly I am very happy that we have the ability to take care of God’s house. I think our members do such a great job in making sure that every building maintenance is up to safety standards. As much as we do to take care of the inside of the church, we needed to do the same for the outside.
For the last year or so, the outside of the church needed some well needed love, which we were unable to do it because of COVID protocols and other factors. So, it was time to get down, pull weeds, rake, trim hedges, clean up the flower patches, and everything in between. It looks marvelous and once those hedges start getting green, it is really going to brighten up the church!
At Ward Ave Presbyterian Church we want the inside and outside of the church reflect the people’s heart, and now it certainly does. It is a huge improvement. Also, I cannot thank enough the people who not only did the hard work outside the church but also the people who worked inside, cleaning up the office areas and closet. It is spectacular in the office. It is organized and pristine.
As much as we will always continue to take care of the needs of the people, we must remember to take care of the church building as well. Again, everything we do must be a reflection of our hearts that are in Christ Jesus.
Thank you all for helping out everyone! So if we haven’t seen you in a long time, come on by! Or if you never came to our church, please, come worship with us, we would love to meet you and have you in join us for worship! God bless you all! May Holy Week bring you joy and further guidance!
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).