Together For The Gospel
August 13, 2009, 1:40 am
Filed under: church, events, gospel, ministry

This weekend, August 15-16, ICC is having our annual retreat. The theme this year is Together For The Gospel as we desire to become a community founded on the Gospel and working for the Gospel. Our guest speaker will be Pastor Nathan Carter from Immanuel Baptist Church in the city.

Here’s a brief promo video :


An Exercise in Kingdom-mindedness
August 13, 2009, 1:34 am
Filed under: church, events, gospel, ministry, worship

For the past two years, I’ve been part of a prayer group consisting of pastors from four different churches in the Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates area. We gather monthly to pray for one another’s ministries as well as to intercede on behalf of our community. It has been a great experience of partnership in the Gospel that we are hoping would spread to our whole congregations as well. This past July 12th, we brought all of our congregations together for a combined Sunday service and picnic. It was a great time of worship as we focused on the Kingdom of God. The picnic was also a lot of fun as people had an opportunity to interact over food and sports. As pastors, we are praying that we could continue to encourage one another and partner in greater ways to serve our cities in Jesus’ name.

Here is a video we showed as part of the worship service :

Scholar as Pastor, Pastor as Scholar
April 30, 2009, 2:11 pm
Filed under: church, leadership, ministry


After the Gospel Coalition Conference, John Piper and D.A. Carson spoke together on the topic of The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor at Park Community Church in the city. I wasn’t able to attend, but here are the links to the messages.

John Piper on The Pastor as Scholar
D.A. Carson on The Scholar as Pastor
Owen Strachan, John Piper, and D.A. Carson Discussion

A Non-Biblical Story About Jesus
March 25, 2009, 3:55 pm
Filed under: gospel, ministry

One part of Tim Keller’s Prodigal God that I found amusing as well as convicting was a non-biblical (as opposed to UN-biblical) story about Jesus and Peter that he shares :

Elisabeth Elliot recounts an apocryphal story (not in the Bible!) about Jesus that conveys the difference between a results-oriented selfishness and a faithfulness born out of love.

One day Jesus said to his disciplines : “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.”  He didn’t give any explanation.  So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find.  After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulation for weight and size!  So he put it in his pocket.  Jesus then said : “Follow Me.”  He led them on a journey.  About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down.  he waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread.  He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.”  In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over.  When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up.  He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.”  This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!”  So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger.  But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.”  Jesus then said : “Follow Me.”  He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up.  Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river.  He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.”  They did.  Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk.  Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded.  Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do?  Who were you carrying the stone for?” (pp.50-51)

The story reminds me that I must always ask myself with regards to my obedience, “For whom, REALLY, am I doing this?”  To live out the Gospel is far more difficult than simply living in a morally upright way.  Just think of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13.  He writes that we have the capacity to give all we have to the poor and surrender our bodies to the flames…in such a way that lacks love.  In the Gospel, God is concerned not merely with the outward or the results, but with the heart.

For me, I have always had to examine my heart when it comes to preaching.  “For whom, REALLY, do I preach?”  Because there have been times during my preparation when I have found myself wanting to say things that are “impressive”.  There have been times when I have found myself worried and anxious about what people will think of me more than concerned about what people will think of God and His word.  And because of the desire to impress and because of the worry and anxiety, I prepare more.  To the naked eye, it might look like devotion.  But God has seen my heart in those times.

Sneaky sin.

All the more I am convinced that even the most righteous of my acts “are like filthy rags”.  And only when I am actively remembering, believing, applying, and experiencing the Gospel of God’s grace and love for me to my heart…being convinced of and conscious of His unshakable and incomparable acceptance of me in Christ despite my sin and in the face of any situation…will I be set free from the fear of man and the need to impress people, and I will be free to now use my energy to love.

God help me not to forget the Gospel.  God help me not to “assume” the Gospel.  Help me to remember it and apply it and treasure it and live in it daily.

One In Love 2009 Trailer
December 12, 2008, 3:17 pm
Filed under: church, events, ministry, technology

Though I thoroughly enjoy my line of work, the artist/techie/Mac junkie inside of me still wants to learn how to do video work like this…but where can I find the time?!?!

Oh, and by the way…go to OIL!

A Christmas That Can Change The World
December 4, 2008, 9:25 pm
Filed under: church, culture, family, gospel, ministry

I came across this well-made video :

I find that  it’s hard for some (or many) Christians to break out of their excessive Christmas consumerism because of long-lasting family traditions that  occupy the central place in their Christmas “celebrations”.  I face the same pressures myself as I’m expected to participate in gift exchanges or grab bags because “that’s what we’ve always done”.  Having kids makes it even more complicated because within our culture, they grow up feeling entitled to “gifts” at Christmas time.  Furthermore, gift-giving is often rationalized because “God gave us the best gift in Jesus…” and so all the more, we ought to give gifts…

As the leader of my family, I want to take a stand this year and hopefully change the trajectory of how we celebrate this Christmas and future Christmases.  I want to be more in tune with Jesus than with the culture, and I want to raise my kids in that way too.

Now, I don’t know about specifically supporting the cause of the video, but I am going to put some serious thought into applying it’s message to my own situation.  I especially liked how the video put it : give presence.

Depressed Asian-American Youth Groupers?
November 21, 2008, 5:58 am
Filed under: church, family, gospel, ministry


As we are praying for God’s guidance with respect to a youth ministry at Immanuel in the near future, I thought I’d share an interesting article that I read recently entitled Participating In Religion May Make Adolescents From Certain Races More Depressed that spoke of a study that concluded the following :

While the study found that white and African American adolescents generally had fewer symptoms of depression at high levels of religious participation, for some Latino and Asian American adolescents, attending church more often was actually affecting their mood in a negative way.

Asian American adolescents who reported high levels of participation in their church had the highest number of depressive symptoms among teens of their race. Females of all races and ethnic groups were also more likely to have symptoms of depression than males overall. 

Among adolescents who never attended church, Asian American adolescents reported 4 percent fewer symptoms of depression in the preceding week than did their African-American peers.

In comparison, Asian American youth who attended church at least once a week reported 20 to 27 percent more symptoms of depression than their white and African-American peers who attended at the same level.

To a certain degree, I’m not incredibly surprised by these reports.  I’ve known of some youth ministry practices that, because of cultural influences, were bordering on abuse.  Furthermore, I’m all too familiar with the performance-based mentality that can develop in children whose parents desire them to excel.  Also, I have not been able to witness first-hand a youth ministry that had successfully incorporated a genuine partnership with parents.  All this to say that we’ll really need to seek God for His wisdom in forming a youth ministry at Immanuel so that the Gospel, and not culture, informs and defines every aspect of the ministry, and so that we give Christ, and not just our flavor of church culture, to the next generation.