I never thought that a child’s pockets can be so dang deep. It’s like one of those little clown cars and like twenty clowns somehow pop out of it. My son can pack a ton of stuff into his pockets. I have no idea why he does it, it will just be ballooning out. Last Sunday, as we were head to get lunch, he pulled out 20 letters of the alphabet out of one pocket… I have no idea where the other 6 letters are, but I’m sure they are hidden in some other pocket.
For the last couple of weeks in church, we have been studying about he kingdom of heaven parables that Jesus tells his disciples, and other people. The kingdom of heaven is like the field of wheats and weeds, or the kingdom of heaven is about seeds fallen on the rocky road, thorn bushes, or good soil, the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, the kingdom of heaven is like a tiny mustard seed, or the kingdom of heaven is like yeast. I got one more…
The kingdom of heaven is like my son’s pockets…
Even though it is small, it can be deep, and contain a whole lot of “gifts.”
The sheer amount to what my son’s pockets can hold are otherworldly! Those pockets are so small, yet it can be an endless quarry of unimaginable gifts! How many hot wheel cars can he fit in those pockets? Like the kingdom of heaven being the size of a mustard seed will become the largest tree in the garden. And the kingdom of heaven has all those wonderful gifts for us to use and take for us to use to help other people see the light of Christ that has never grown dim!
You never know what you will find, it’s a mystery and surprise.
I have found lost debit cards in my son’s pocket, my car keys, and cash? Where the heck did he find cash? I know I don’t have any! Found crayon’s and markers, even various fruits, and food, like cookies, crackers, and chips. Whenever, I dig through those pockets I never know what I am going to find, but it will be shocking, nonetheless. The kingdom of heaven is like that. God is always finding ways to surprise us and give us unexpected joys that we never thought we’d see. Never underestimate God, and never expect something from Him. God will give you something that will give you shock and awe!
What is inside the child’s pocket is so precious to them.
Have you ever tried to take something out of your child’s pockets? Well, it’s always well protected. Don’t try to take anything out because you will feel the fury and rage of a 2-year-old because whatever is in those pockets are incredibly precious. Even though it might just be a piece of wrapping paper, or liquid hand sanitizer, or a half-eaten animal cracker… those are precious to the holder of that pocket. Just like the kingdom of heaven is absolutely precious. To other people, faith, mercy, forgiveness, compassion may seem small and insignificant, and possibly childish , but to God those things matter the most than trying to climb the social or economic ladder, or being the most popular, or being the most wealthy, or having the most cool stuff. The kingdom of heaven values different things than what the world values.
Look for little bits of similes in your world that give you insight about how important and how precious the kingdom of heaven really is. Heaven is not just something up the4re, but it’s down here among us, taking its form and presence as something so precious and a child’s pockets.
Ya’ll know that story right? I want to talk about the story of the Wizard of Oz to use it as a metaphor about how we pray to God.
When was the last time you watched the movie “The Wizard of Oz?” I think the last time I watched the movie was in college, listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Apparently, all my friends were convinced that the music of Pink Floyd synchronizes with the story of the Wizard of Oz…. I dunno man… I guess under the right…. Conditions… Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz go together? I’m not much of a Pink Floyd fan… never cared about that style of music, just always made me feel bored… I was more entertained watching them get their mind blown, then watching the movie itself. But this blog isn’t about being a music critic! It’s about comparing the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man to how we pray and ask for things to God.
Let me make two things clear before talking about using the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for our communication of God concerning our needs and desires.
Firstly, God is always listening to your prayers. No matter what, God is always inviting you to pray and ask. Afterall, Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 7:7-8, “For everyone who asks shall receive.” Never feel too shy or embarrassed when you come to God in prayer. He loves to hear your voice.
Secondly, You are made wonderful in the eyes of God, there is nothing wrong with you, because God has given you all that you need to live a full, exciting, fulfilling life. It is just that sometimes we need God to guide us and dig deep within ourselves in introspective reflection on who we are.
The Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man all are pursing going to see the Wizard of OZ because they want to ask the Wizard something they need/desire. The Scarecrow wants a brain, the Lion wants courage, and the Tin Man wants a heart. But what we find out in the movie is that as they journey on the yellow brick road, all three of those characters have the opportunity to learn that they already have all those things within them. A good example is when the Tin Man steps on a bug and cries over his mistake, showing his tenderness in the process. The Lion found ways to practice courage when it is needed. And the Scarecrow is able to solve their problems with logic and reasoning. The point is that they all have those gifts within them but just never realized it.
Maybe they were too overwhelmed by their failures that they feel that they don’t have a brain, courage, or a heart. But we know that you can only get those things with practice. So now think about what and how we pray to God and how God may respond to you.
It you prayed to God to give you courage, and if courage is only gained and realized when you put it into practice, then wouldn’t it be fitting for God to give you opportunities to practice courage? God wants us to be recognize His majesty but also for us to be self-empowered. We have always been told that God answers all our prayers, which I think is very true, but sometimes we expect God to answer a different way. Maybe we feel just like the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man and think that like a magic potion we will be given those things and suddenly our lives will change forever at an instant.
But the whole point in which God put us in earth is about us becoming, it’s about growth. For example as much as I would love both of my kids just to skip the terrible twos and skip being fussy, and just have them skip to the age that they get to college, and be independent instantly… it’s not going to happen, it will take at least 13 years for my oldest, and 16 years for my youngest to have a shot at independence. It’s the long haul, and throughout those long years they will learn, they will experience, they will grow, and find out that they are special and that it is God who has already given them the ability to move mountains, only if they are %100 believing and use everything that they are given to it’s fullest potential.
Think about what we pray to God and how we pray and let go of what your expectations are. God answers them, but he answers them in a way in which He gives us the opportunity to get to where we need to get going. If you pray for money, God isn’t just going to give you a ton of money, but God is going to set up the opportunities for you to get money. Give you a chance to write a good resume, get the proper educations for a job, apply for the job, get the job, and the job gives you money. Don’t look at God to be a magician, but look at God to be your Almighty, All-knowing Guide. If you are praying for patience, guess what, God will give you opportunities to practice patience. If you are like me and praying God for you to e a good parent…. Well I realize that God’s not going to zap me to be a better father, but that God has surely given me ample opportunities to be a better father by putting me in situations that forces me to make a good decision for my family and children. Each day I pray for this, God just throws me a certain situation in which I must be the best dad I can be. Some of the times I look like a pro, other times, I make the wrong decision. But life is long, and God is working on each and every one of us to be a better person than yesterday.
It is summer and last week we had a heat wave! It was dry and humid at the same time…. How is that possible? Well the sun scorched the earth, all the grass is dying… holding on to hope for rain, and the minute you go out there… forget about it man, your physical body can’t take it, and it breaks you mentally as well! It is just so melty…
Last week I took a half day off and went fishing early morning until about noon. And it was one of the most disappointing and frustrating day of fishing I have ever had in a long time. I caught one fish… which was fine… it was a good one, 2 pounder, which I should be happy about that, but I could not enjoy it, because, I had issue that day… Everything I tried to plan, just did not work out. First place I tried to fish, the water was flooded…. Weird, because I didn’t notice any rain… but it was flooded, and it looked like chocolate milk… I gutted it out trying o fish it…. Not a bite for 3 hours… tried everywhere on that body of water… decided I need to abandon it. Drove to a creek… too many people fishing… don’t feel like fishing a pressured and crowded place…. Next I tried a river… current was pushing too fast, and the water looked like someone after a bad night at taco bell… fished it… lost two lures… so far… not good… so I went to the fourth place…. A lake… lookin good! Clear water, saw bait fish, not many people fishing it… this could work. Never been to this area, so not sure if there are bass, but most likely there are… hiked and found some spots that have the potential for big predatory fish. I caught one fish… but in the process I lost about 6 hooks, 5 lures, and my bag of tackle fell in the water… nice… I have never lost that many hooks or lures before in my life in one fishing outing. I was getting hung up on people’s lines, wedged in rocks, hooks caught on sunken trees… it’s an expensive disaster. All the time this was happening, I could not keep the sun out of my face, as sweat rolled down my face, my glasses kept fogging up… just dying in the heat.
It’s like anything I tried to plan, just did not work out. I caught a fish, which is usually my goal… but I hate losing hooks, and lures… some of those lures have sentimental value, of big fish I caught with them… but they are gone… Every had those days, that just plain make you feel rotten? I hate those days, that when you wake up, you feel all chipper and happy, then slowly the day just gets worse and worse, one thing after another, just making you feel frustrated and disappointed.
So what do we do… I went home… all frustrated and mad, but it was seeing Ben, and him giving me a hug that made my crappy day, feel a little better. Sometimes all we need to someone to tell you that you are awesome.
So this message is for the people who may not have a frustrating day, but it’s nice to make a gesture of giving someone a call, and just telling them they are awesome. It can be random, doesn’t have to have any reason at all. Just like I will tell my wife, that I love her, and she might look at me and say, “what did you do?” Or “why did you say that?” And I said “I love you because of no reason, just because I want to say that.” There never has to be a reason to tell someone that they are awesome.
Words of encouragement and kindness can turn a day around.
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.
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).