“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
For those who do not know Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he was a German theologian, Lutheran pastor who grew up in the era of Nazi Germany. He was resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He was arrested and imprisoned, had a role in a plot to assassinate Hitler and died by execution by hanging.
He was largely influential with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movements, anti-communism movements, and anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. I would say that he was largely influential towards conservative Christians but also influential to people commitment to doing justice work.
Personally, he is influential in my life, and my faith. His readings were a large reason at what gave me the encouragement to be a pastor. I have been continuing to read his book The Cost of Discipleship for the last month. I encourage anyone to read that book, whether it is the first time or regularly.
His quote above the entry, puts a lot of perspective at what it means to be a Christian; at least for me. When Easter rolled around this time of the year, I cannot ignore the message of Christ, His life, His death, and His resurrection. All three of those aspect matter to my life as a husband, father, son, Christian, and pastor.
Being a Christian isn’t supposed to be easy. It takes work. Hard work. For the season of Lent, at Ward Ave Presbyterian Church, we uncovered each week the work that God put in to create covenants with people. Each covenant broken, not because God broke it, but because we just didn’t get it. It came to the point that God had to find a way in which salvation, everlasting life, resurrected life, can be possible for all people who accept it. God’s grace is given, through Jesus’ service to the world, and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross; is God’s grace given to us. Nothing we can do to break that covenant.
However, this does not mean we just sit back and do nothing. As Christians we are committed to the cause of Christ that is found in His life. We take up that cross to continue the good news to people. Our life, our actions, our words must be a reflection of what we are taught, which is our commitment to discipleship work.
The cross is a symbol of our power of giving up our life for others. The cross took away Jesus’ life. We must do the same. We put in the sacrifice to make this world into a better place. Leave this world cleaner and better than when we arrived into the world. Our faith is so vital in living a life that is perfect harmony with ourselves, others, and God.
The Gospel is not about believing and life one way and ignoring other aspects. Our life in faith cannot be compartmentalized but must be viewed as a whole. Being a Christian, living a life of faith, worship, discipleship is exhausting; it should be. We must continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to treat all people, regardless of who they are, with impeccable respect. Life isn’t easy, life isn’t cheap.
I know it’s that time again of the year. It is starting to look more like SPRING! Well, other than today, which is like 40 degrees… but in general for the past couple of days and looks like in the future, Spring has finally arrived. I know this because I see the evidence that Spring is here. I see the flowers starting to bloom. The robins are frantically building their nest on my front porch and the entrance of the church. I see bees coming out early to get the first nectar from the dandelions, and the grass is starting to green up, getting ready for the first cut. Not only do I see all the evidence of Spring, I can feel it as well.
Allergies! Yup, I have seasonal allergies and it is driving me nuts currently. My eyes itch like crazy, my nose and throat get all congested. My nose itches, I sneeze a lot. My daughter is also going through the pains of Springtime allergies. But she can’t tolerate them like the way I do. I usually can just deal with it, but she has a hard time, constantly feeling bothered with itchy eyes and a runny nose. I guess as you grow up, you just learn to deal with the little things that might upset you.
After-all, even though I have these horrific, annoying allergies, I love the fact that Spring is here. Outside looks beautiful and how can I not go outside to enjoy it all?! It is amazing. So I outweigh the good and bad. Allergies, bad, but all the things about Spring, good.
Do your best not to try to focus on the bad things that happen in life. Always look for the good things. I know most of our brains are hardwired to think about the bad stuff, because our body is practicing the mechanisms of “fight or flee,” and “self-preservation.” That is our mind is often times looking at the possibilities of danger and risk in order to protect itself from harm.
When you think about it, my seasonal allergies are acting in such a way as well. My body thinks that all that pollen and dust in the air is going harm the body, so the body overreacts by sending messages to the brain to create more histamines to block possible “invaders.” But the body is overreacting and actually it is unnecessary to send on these histamines to block the natural pollen that fills the Springtime air.
Our minds are hardwired to “self-preservation.” It makes us think about the possibilities of risk and danger from a frightening world. That’s a good thing, but at the same time, the mind could be overreacting and create wild imaginations. But we do our best not to be a prisoner to our minds and even at times force ourselves to look at the good, rather than the bad.
Easter is a good metaphor to use when we talk about feeling stuck, feeling of dread, or finding ourselves as if we are stuck in a prison of negativity and stress. Let the Easter story remind us, that the giant boulder has been rolled away. We are no longer prisoners, but we are free. Free to live without shame or guilt. Free to be positive and let others know that we will always look for the good rather than the bad. The prison of the tomb, the stone rolled away will let the warm and bright light shine through uncovering all the darkness and shadows.
After all, it’s Spring, there are going to be some big largemouth bass moving from the winter depths to come shallow to feel the warm sun. You think just because I have Springtime allergies, just because my nose is runny, my eyes are itching, headaches, and constantly sneezing is going to keep me from going out and catching these fish… think again, tight lines everyone!
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view,
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing,
for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
When I was little I remembered learning about Tecumseh. Growing up in Ohio, my father took me to a outdoor play based on Chief Tecumseh. I was impressed and I decided to learn more about him and why he is influential and respected in American culture.
I stumbled upon this poem again, and I love it. I don’t need much to say about it because everything is in this poem. How we are to live our life with dignity, respect, honor, and compassion is what this poem summarizes. Live your life based on these values so that when we pass away we have no regret.
There are a lot of these values that we Christians cherish as well.
I did it. I lost 59 pounds from Dec 30th to April 3rd. This is where I want to be. All I have to do is try to maintain this weight, which I don’t think will be too difficult. Before, I really begin this blog I do want to preface…
I would not recommend anyone trying to lose this amount of weight in a short amount of time. This was a grueling, intense, and at time painful ordeal. However, I knew I could do it, because I have done it before. Since high school I have been used to either trying to lose weight quickly or having to gain weight quickly, so I figured my body might be used to it. Normally to lose weight it is recommended to lose about 1-2 pounds a week. I think I was losing about 4 pounds a week, which can be harsh. Throughout the time I constantly checked by blood pressure, and other physical checkups to make sure I do not put too much pressure on my body.
So, here is what I did. Before, I averaged about 3,200 calories a day. During the diet for the first two weeks I averaged about 1,000 calories a day. Usually eating one meal and a few snacks here and there. Then after a couple of weeks I increased by calorie intake to about 1,500 and ate two meals a day. Then for the last month and a half, I am eating 2,000-2,200 calories a day eating three full meals.
Meals pretty much consisted with a heavy protein and fiber diet. Mostly I ate either tuna, salmon, or tilapia, and chicken. And for veggies I ate, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cabbage. For fruit I ate apples, oranges, pineapples, watermelons, grapes, and peaches. Once a week, usually on Sundays after church I had one cheat meal. That was usually a Whopper meal at Burger King.
For exercise, I mostly rode an exercise bike three times a day (morning, after lunch, evening/night) for 30 minutes a day. I did ab workouts, push-ups, and planking. That was pretty much it.
Now in order to maintain my weight. My diet really hasn’t changed much. I really like what I am eating and want to continue that. However, I am not too worried about eating pizza (which I did yesterday), or a gooey cheesy chicken quesadilla (which I also ate yesterday). And I figured that if I am able to workout everyday for 30 minutes, I’ll be ok.
I aint a ripped buff guy, which is not really want to do. I am married and I have two kids… I am not trying to model for some weight loss program or be on a cover of some fitness magazine. I wanted to lose weight because I just needed to. After spending about 7 months locked inside because of the coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to find something I can do at home easily. I gained a ton of weight through the pandemic and my blood pressure shot up. I needed to act and needed to get active. Lose weight, live healthier.
I feel really good. I have a bit more pep in my step. I find myself sleeping and waking up easier. I have a much healthier digestion, and I just feel straight up balanced.
That being said, I wanted to use my experience about building a relationship with God.
As much as we want to keep our physical bodies in shape and healthy, we are to do the same when it comes to our spiritual life. It takes work to be and feel spiritually healthy. Going to church is necessary. Being a good model Christian is necessary, and it takes practice. We can’t be perfect, but at least we can learn from our own shortcomings. Treat all people with respect, do your best to not let your emotions get the better of you. Act with dignity and treat all people as if they deserve dignity as well. This takes training to do all these things. God will continue to give you opportunities by putting you in situations to practice all of these things with he people He places in your life. Sometimes it just takes 30 minutes a day with God to stay on the right course, to feel spiritually healthy.
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).