The Devil Walks Among Us
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.
9 Years This Day
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!
Encouragement for the Day
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!
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).