Tuesday, January 20, 2009


School has begun. Back to the grind. But before I do that, time to blog!

This past Monday, I met with my pastor. I told her what I thought about our church. I told her how comfortable I thought everything was and how I wanted to see that change. And I guess I just shared with her my recent thoughts about money, materialism, ministry, and stuff of that sort. I don't think I ever really had the chance to talk to her face to face about stuff before, and I forgot how wise she was haha.Basically, this is what I got from our talk:
  1. In regards to the church, she pretty much agreed with me about how comfortable everything was. She said the problem with churches is that big mega churches grow so much because they have all the talented people--pro worship leaders, great pastors, leaders, etc--but at the same time, you become just another face in the crowd, as opposed to smaller churches (like FCBC and every other SF Chinese church), where everyone knows each other pretty intimately, but you get mediocre worship leaders and blah pastors haha. Ok, maybe she didn't say it like that, but that was the jist. She also pointed out that, because FCBC is a generational church--that is, you might have grandparents, parents, and kids all from the same family at our church--sometimes you can see why some of the youth are so lukewarm, because their parents' faith is the same way... Basically, she agreed with me that things weren't quite right, but I think she really reminded me the importance of trusting God. Yeah, it kinda sounds like a copout, but the way she said it was a lot more profound haha. I think I've become very arrogant and self-centered about my views of God, saying, "God, show me this, show me that. If you'd only do these things, then so many people would believe" acting like I know what's best when he's telling me to be patient. Idk. Chris O was quick to humble me.
  2. In regards to money, materialism, and ministry, Chris O was also quick to point out some of my mistakes. Basically, what I got from her is this: to each man his own. I asked her about how Christians should spend their money, what kind of lives they should live, how they should serve, how much they should give, if they can live comfortable lives... Essentially she reminded me that God calls each of us differently, that there is no such thing as "A Christian should..." --Now I agree to a certain extent, but I think this is debatable. I believe that there is a standard that we as Christians should live up to, but I also agree that we are not all called to live in the ghetto to serve the poor and some of us are called to live in the suburbs and drive nice cars. Who knows? I don't. But I think the point is that God can do the judging. If my pastor is rollin on dubs in his Escalade, it's not for me to decide if he's living a Godly life. And I think there is freedom knowing that we have so much freedom in serving God.
Yeah... overall, Chris O was really really honest with me and I appreciated that a lot. Some of the stuff I listed above might be my interpretation of what she said, so take it with a grain of salt. If you have questions for Chris O, you should ask her :) But I think it was good to talk to her. Mostly when I would share these things with other people, I would mostly just get agreement, but I'm glad Chris O was quick to drop some wisdom on me and humble me a little bit.

I think my thoughts about God can be measured up in this:
Matthew 47:22-23 says,
42"He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "
... Just imagine what would have happened if Jesus came down from the cross right there. While the soldiers and people crucifying Jesus were shouting, "If you're really the son of God, then you'll come down!" Imagine if Jesus said, "Ok, you know what, I am the son of God, let me show you" and he came down from the cross... Dude, all the people there for sure would have believed in Jesus after that. Like dude, why wouldn't Jesus take the opportunity?? I just feel like that's what it's been like... I know that God can do amazing things, but he isn't, and I don't know why. I'm saying, "God, if you're real, then show yourself, do a miracle, do crazy stuff--you have such a great opportunity!" and God is just like "Nate, be patient. I know it looks like it would be good if I did crazy stuff now, but I promise things will get even crazier if I show myself at a later time." In the Gospel, that crazier thing was Jesus rising from the dead. In real life right now, I have no clue what God has in store. But I gotta trust that whatever he has in plan is gonna be ridiculous.

Shoutout to Vansen, my roommie, who just got a new iPhone. And Samuelle, reppin the Urban School right.
... I still have so many questions. But I think I've come a long way since my badmouth high school days. I have a long way to go though.

And last but not least,

Monday, January 12, 2009

God Hears Me!

Three posts in one day. Disgusting.

Anyways, I'm pretty amazed by God.
After I wrote my little post about miracles (We Believe!) and then that other post, I went and ate dinner. I come back to find that my friend's AIM away message reads:
studying still.
My question of the day for you: do miracles happen?
And I thought to myself, "Oh cool, Cindy reads my blog. I've sucked in another follower of my wisdom." So I IMed her like, "So, did you read my blog?"
And she was like, "noo"
And I was just like.... omgwtfbbq dude no way.
Somehow we both independently happened to think to ourselves about the possibility of God performing miracles (apparently she wrote about it in sunday school in december and i started thinking about it when i started reading the book last week) and publish something online about it within a half hour of each other.

Now, I wouldn't categorize this as a miracle the way I was talking about miracles in my previous post. And to you, the reader, it may be of no significance at all. But it nonetheless goes to show that God hears us, knows our desires, and even reads our blogs :] He gives us these little reminders of his grace and his faithfulness. And I'm very thankful.
I realize that most of my posts are kinda ranty. Cynical sometimes. Critical maybe? Recently, my posts have been in the habit of making many promises or declarations of things I am trying to change. How many of these convictions will actually come to fruition? How many will wither and be forgotten?
I was just thinking about this blog and I guess I wanna just apologize if any of it seems like I'm coming from a high up place. I just wanted this thing to be a place where I could voice my thoughts. Where I could be open and transparent and hopefully encouraging. I'm not quite sure if I've accomplished that.
I just wanna set the record straight that I have so little figured out... about life, faith, etc. As a Christian, I am the Wayne Gretzky of all hypocrites. In other words, as Arnold Palmer is to golf, I am to hypocrisy. Put plainly, if hypocrisy was like hurdling, I am Liu Xiang. In essence, I am a big, fat, hairy hypocrite who towers over all other hypocrites.
But I am searching for this God who came to heal the sick. And I know just enough about him to know if I'm getting the real version of him or not. I invite you to join me on this search. It could get ugly.

We Believe!

So in another tab I have my email open. I'm writing an email to my pastor. So far, I've typed out her (yee that's right, we have a female pastor. Whuh?) email address and the words, "Hey Chris" (yee that's right, she has a male name. Whuh?... jk it's really Christine, but we tight like that) and then I got writer's block. Or maybe it's my chronic pansynitis kicking in again.
See, I'm trying to arrange a meeting with her for this upcoming Sunday, maybe just to talk about some stuff about where the church is going and hopefully share some of my thoughts about the church. But every time I think about it, it's just like, wtheck am I really gonna say?? I mean, she's my pastor for goodness sake. "Oh hey Chris, I was just thinking the other day, 'Wow, our church is pretty wack! Don't you agree?'" I might as well slap her in the face and knock over all the papers on her desk.
And of course, I won't just leave it at that... "Oh our church sucks" because it really doesn't. But I just wanna induce some constructive discussion nahhmean? yafimme? Still though, I find it quite the arduous task to write her an email saying, "Oh I just have some concerns about the church." Like... who am I? Some college sophomore scrub jabroni who thinks he can make changes in this 120 year old church.
Anyways, hopefully by blogging about it, I'll have to finish the email, since I already wrote about it and it would be stupid to announce it to the whole world (or the 4 people who read this) and never do it. That would indeed be buffoonery.

Anyways, onto more pressing topics. That stupid email topic took up four short paragraphs. Emburressin... Stay with me though!
So I've ventured down the river from my Irresistible Revolution days and I am now swimming amidst the verbal waters of a literary genius by the name of Brother Yun. (dang that sentence was deep and metaphorical) And don't hate on Brother Yun because he has a foolish name. That's messed up. Actually, to correct myself, he is not a literary genuis. He's just your average Asian.His book that I'm trying to read right now is called The Heavenly Man. Again, I know it sounds stupid, but it's really interesting. A supposedly true story about the underground church in China during Mao's communist regime. The book. is. loaded. with. miracles! Of him having visions, having those visions fulfilled, him escaping the police, him scaling walls, running miles within minutes, the list goes on. And I'm only past the first 80 pages of this 350+pg book. Ridiculoso. Anyways, it got Nathan thinking, where are today's miracles?
I mentioned in an earlier post that Shane Claiborne's argument is that we really shelter ourselves from seeing any miracles because we rarely need them. Food, medicine, housing... these are all things we have easy access to without transcendental assistance. And plus, Jesus reprimands the people who ask for a miracle... But dang dude. I really wanna see a one. I really wanna have a vision from God.
So far in my life, I have only witnessed one miracle.And that was freakin glorious. But I want to see another one. This time, something more substantial maybe... Of course, I've had answered prayers. Big prayers, too, that seemed very very unlikely. And I will be one of those people who attest to the little miracles of everyday life. But you know what I mean though. I wanna see a big one. That I know was from God. Like if one day I woke up and was 5'11. Miracle. That would be awesome. Add that to the prayer request list.
Sometimes I just feel like we worship a shadow of the God we really profess to follow. We take so few risks that we can never really witness the power we claim him to possess and we can never truly know how wonderful and faithful our God is until we actually need to trust him.
I don't wanna assume anything about God, that he can work a miracle in this or that part of my life, but I do wanna pray big prayers and take risks for this God that I've heard so much about for the past five or so years. I wanna see and be a part of something amazing that God is doing. I wanna see people healed. I wanna see the Good News be good again. I wanna see nonbelievers seeing how crazy things are with those Jesus freaks... Is it ok for me to want these things? Maybe I'm just lacking faith. Maybe, like those people in the Gospels, I'm just begging for a miracle. Maybe Jesus is getting frustrated with me. Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe. Maybe I just wanna know who this real God is.
We worship a God that is capable of these things. I know he is. He's gotta be. I wanna know this God for who he is and not for who the church makes him out to be.
So what do you think? Do miracles still happen? Are there conditions where they happen more often?

modern day miracle?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Reading is Sexy!

So I don't usually do this, but thanks to a certain cousin of mine (Ally, my real cousin), I am here giving a free promotion for The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I was very hesitant to do this, mostly because I've been talking about this book a lot with a few people and I just feel lame for being so excited about a dumb book. But alas, I have given in. This book has changed too much about the way I understand who Jesus is and what the Gospel is all about for me to simply not share it with the world. So here it is, world! Here's my amazing book review! I better get comments! Jayplay, but frealfreals, this was a good book. And I think you should read it. But only after you comment on this (or any prior) post. Hollatchaboy!
So, where to start. Ah yes... I don't know. Well first of all, this book has really inspired me to get more involved with the homeless community in Berkeley. Not sure what that means or how that will look when I get back, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to consistently be a presence with the homeless at People's Park or maybe volunteer at a shelter or something. One of the lines that I remember most was one that basically said, miracles are more rare today because there is no need for them. We can go to Safeway to get food, we have a roof over our heads, we can just hit up the doctor if we get sick... Not to say that these things are bad, but they take away opportunities for God to actually show us that he can take care of us in amazing ways. So I dunno about you, but I want to see God work and do miracles.
Another thing about this book is that it has confirmed my frustrations with the Church. Claiborne is never antagonistic (as I have sometimes been) about the way things are done in the American church, but he is still critical of what the church has become. Like I was talking about two or three posts ago (Here Comes the Bride), church for me is all too safe, comfortable, and blah an experience. Claiborne argues for a church like the early church in Acts2, where possessions were shared and the followers of Christ "had everything in common"--struggles, joys, experiences, money, etc.--and where church was a place where crazy Jesus people met up to discuss the amazing things that God had done during the other six days of the week. One of the things that I'm afraid of for FCBC is that, especially with concerns over attendance and numbers, the goal for church service will become keeping the youth interested and entertained rather than challenged... On a side note, I have similar worries with Living Water, my church in Berkeley, that they are becoming a very "flashy" and charismatic church (we have almost doubled in size over the past year) rather than one that really challenges, though I have definitely felt more challenged and convicted there than at FCBC. Nonetheless, I have grown skeptical of growing churches and I hope that desire for truth will always trump a desire for more people. (I know no church is really "perfect" and I love complaining; I'm just pointing these things out)
Lastly, this book has made me think more about what I do with my money. This one is difficult, mostly because what I wear helps me be really really ridiculously good looking.Ha ha ha I'm jayplaying again. But in all seriousness, this book has challenged me to question where my clothes are being made, where the profits are going, and where the money can otherwise go. Should I just shop at American Apparel (expensive/for white people)? Should I just not buy anymore clothes (God forbid!)? Should I just donate all my clothes? Should I make my own clothes (sike!)? These are things that I've been thinking about lately.
So, as you can see, my life is kinda being rearranged. Thank you, Mr. Claiborne. I was pretty ok with the way things were going, but no, you had to freakin write an amazing book and change the way I see things. Great. Thanks... Nah, I'm only kidding Shane. Shaney Shane. Shayborne. Anyways, I wanna do something. I wanna respond. But the thing about me is that I always say that I'm gonna do something (work harder, get buff, do chores, learn how to write left-handed), and I can take a step out the door, but when it comes down to it, I get real scurred and I just run back to my safe little life, where I know the routine and where I don't have to take any major risks. But yo, I'm saying it now, I wanna make changes. In myself, in my church, in Berkeley, in this world. Join me, it would help me out a lot :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Not Cool

A couple years ago I asked my friend, "Do you think there is such a thing as a serious, hardcore Christian who can still be popular at school?" I guess I was thinking about all my friends in high school who had potty mouths(what a ridiculous picture), who started drinking and smoking weed,
And I just thought, well heck, if this is what being cool is all about, then I got myself a real dilemma. Because I was trying to take my faith to the next level, but I still had to be cool, yadida? I mean, even this year, someone said to me, "You know, I had never really known any Christians who dressed well until I joined Intervarsity." Me being the idiot I am, took it as a compliment. I guess my question is, if Jesus came back today and chilled with this modern society for a little while, what would he look like? What would he wear? How would people treat him? What if Jesus was a student at your college?
We always picture Jesus wearing the nice little Jesusrobe and with the beard and stuff, because, well, that's how people dressed back in the day (except, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was Middle Eastern, not white) But would Jesus really dress like everyone else? Today's equivalent: jeans, tshirt, a pair of Vans maybe? I kinda doubt it. My boy John the Baptist wore a freakin camel hair fit and ate locusts. Like wtf. Would Jesus be liked by others? Probably some. But for sure there would be people who hated him. I wonder if Jesus enjoyed memorizing the Torah (like all Jewish boys had to do). Would Jesus get good grades? Would Jesus even be in school? In the Bible Jesus is a carpenter, as was tradition to take up the father's trade. So, since all kiddies go to school these days, would Jesus be a student? Go through all that middle and high school drama? Would Jesus be good at sports?
What clubs would Jesus have joined? The Christian club? Jesus wasn't even Christian! Wtfreak. The Jewish club, then? I wonder if Jesus had any hobbies besides... carpentry. Or if Jesus had a bff that came over to his house. I wonder if Jesus ever played any pranks on anyone. Did Jesus ever get bored? What was I even talking about before?
Oh yeah, if Christians can be cool or popular. Well, I've been rereading the book of Matthew with the intent of just seeing what kind of person Jesus was. And I guess I'm starting to see how counter-cultural he was and how counter-cultural my response has to be. I'm not gonna lie, I love me a nice pair of shoes, or a nice $200 jacket that I bought last month, but I'm beginning to question whether my efforts to be "cool" or fashionable are good for me, or if I'm just storing up treasures on earth that moths and rust will destroy (matt 6:19). The answer is obvious. And plus, that money can go somewhere. I can actually make a difference with the money I have... So, as a Bible-believing Christian, how do I dress? Where do I put my money? Am I willing to put an end to my Hypebeast ways for the sake of the Gospel?
Ok, so I was never really a hypebeast (www.hypebeast.com), but is it bad that I wanna be cool? Popular? Can these desires coexist with desires to see God glorified? Is Jesus calling me to lay down my skinny jeans to follow him? Isn't the ability for someone to express who they are through style or dress a gift from God?
I am beginning to develop a fascination with an uncomfortable Christianity. BUT that fascination has yet to manifest itself in bold footprints in my life. I wanna make changes in a lot of places, but change has to start in myself first.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Not Good

In Genesis chapter 2, we see the first declaration of something deemed "not good" by God. The not-good thing was that Adam was alone. We were created to be in relationship.
Have you ever had one of those times where something kinda funny happens, and maybe you chuckle a little to yourself for a few seconds, but then you see your other friend who's laughing like a fool, and you just start laughing because they're laughing? And then both of you laugh even more because both of you are laughing like idiots? And then you say something like, "I was only laughing because you were laughing! Ha ha ha ha so funny" (ok maybe not exactly like that) ... Or have you ever cried because you saw someone else crying? Maybe with your friend, or even because you saw a character cry in a movie? ... Have you ever watched a kid spin in circles and then say, "whoa kid, you're making me dizzy!" (quite the foolish comment, but we all say it) ...
I was just thinking today... emotions are supposed to be shared. Even if we just see someone grieving, we might start crying. Even if we just see someone laughing, we might start laughing. God made us this way, to share in our experiences and feelings, even if we don't know exactly what the other person is going through. I think it was a good idea.