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Meditations on the Word: 1 Peter 2:16

Some thoughts on 1 Peter 2:16.
Many of us think of Jesus like a hippie/yippie/hipster freedom fighter to stick it to the man (usually an established church organization) and free us from all that religious mumbo jumbo (partly true, especially in light of Reformation against R. Catholic Church). Rather, Christ’s freedom fight (and victory) was over our bondage to the self-worship and self glory. His freedom fight was to cut our ties to self/idol worship and recreate us into God worshippers.

freedom in Christ

P. Sam upgraded to Rev. Sam

On May 22, 2016 Pastor Sam finally got ordained through the Korean Capital Presbytery of the PCA.

ordination pic

 

 

 

Members of the Korean Capital Presbytery

ordination pic 2

 

 

 

Rev. Sam, Rev. Jacob, Rev. David, and Rev. Andy

Lessons from Exodus 36

Building the Tabernacle (Exodus 36)

Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. They received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.

As much mistakes our parents’ generation of immigrant Christians made in our churches, one thing they did well was in doing the literal acts of Christian life. They faithfully practiced Christian Discipline in areas such as praying, cooking/eating, and tithing. I want to focus a minute here on the tithing part. From the perspective of a second generation Korean-American Christian, we really stink at Christian discipline, particularly in comparison to our parents’ generation. None is more evident than our lack of offering. There is an apparent movement in the Korean-American churches in our area where congregations no longer tithe as faithfully as they used to in the past. While there are probably many reasons for this, I believe one variable is the growing number of young (aged 25-45) working professionals, parents, and recent college grads (or “singles”). The sheer quantity of our generation in our failure to obey God’s command to give is making a significant impact in the budgets of our churches. This is a new and uncomfortable territory for me. I’ve never in the 10 years of ministry in NoVA ever had to address this issue (mainly b/c it was youth ministry). But here I am now. We’ve got to tackle this issue with our eyes on Christ and our Bibles open.

The younger generations love to internalize and spiritualize everything, especially the Christian life. It’s all about you and Jesus on the inside, we’ll say. You can’t earn God’s love by your actions (totally true), therefore your actions really don’t matter (totally not true). James 2:14 probably stands as a big slap in the face of NoVA Christian smugness. James, on this issue, basically says you can’t really be saved if your actions don’t back it up. Or another way, a Christian naturally acts, talks, loves, and sacrificially gives like a Christian (… or more like Christ, but I digress)! It’s a tragedy to think that we can be “good” Christians and skip over things like faithfully tithing/offering our income which God gives us. But 10% is too much, we’d think. It is too much, one pastor once said, until you look at the fact that the other 90% was given to you as an undeserved gift! Meaning, the whole total of our income is a gift from God. God commands us to give him the 10% to remind us that He is our provider, and without Him we cannot live (see Deut 8:11-20). Now, the physical provision is to show us about God’s spiritual provision. Yes, this is true. However, we cannot continue in our arrogant ignorance of the fact that God does provide for our physical needs and as such, commands us to respond in tithing.

Assuredly, if we would continue to fail in our offerings/tithings, our spiritual response to God’s commands will inevitably falter. If we fail to obey God in His commands about money, it’s easy to justify disobedience in other aspects of our so-called Christian lives. The Christian life cannot be divided, as much as we’ll try, between the physical and spiritual; the profane (non-religious) and the sacred (religious). They’re all interconnected, and God demands all of it. For when He purchased with Christ’s blood us and all the other members of the Church, He bought us whole, not parts. We dare not try to erect these dividers which God knocks down.

Let’s be giving & faithful Christians.

Missions Team VS Missional mindedness

Back in 2011-2012, God planted the seeds for building a long-term, healthy missions ministry which would recruit, train, and send out short term inner city missions as well as long term overseas missions. The first baby steps came in 2013 with the first DC team. 2014 saw a bigger team form and go to Philadelphia. We had hoped that God would allow us to continue on this trend and was preparing for the formation of another inner-city missions team. But that did not occur. And yet, that is not the end story.

There are a few things we learned in the past two years in setting up this ministry. First, it’s A LOT of work to build, train, and send a team. It required not only the members themselves, but the whole community to come around them to cheer, encourage, and pray for the team. This is NO SMALL task. Secondly, there are seasons where God will allow missionaries to rest (Acts 18:23 for example). So we don’t lose heart at the lack of a team this year. Rather we see this as an opportunity to invest our collective time, effort, and energy into further growing/nurturing our church’s “missional mindedness”. That simply means that instead of focusing on developing and sending a team, we’ll be focusing on developing our whole church’s missional focus (that there are people whom we are called to go love & serve in the name of Christ) for the DC metro area.

And so instead of one team of 7 or 8 individual, we want to see one team made up of our entire church – united in purpose and focus, which is the further spreading of Christ and His love to our No.VA, DC, MD area! God is doing great things, and yet we pray that through us, He will do greater things still.

2014 Ministry Report

I was asked by the Church to submit a 2014 Ministry Report. So, I’ve also posted it here for your benefit and encouragement:

Ministry Report for Youth & English Ministry for 2013-2014

 

In December 2013, we were joined by World Mission Church from Philadelphia, PA once again for our annual winter retreat. Our guest speaker was Rob Maeder of Crossroads Community Church in New Jersey. The theme was “Glory Seekers” learning to take our focus off of ourselves and worldly things to focus only on God. We praise God that some students from WMC came to trust in Jesus as Savior for the first time in their lives.

Starting in January 2014, we assembled and trained as the 2014 Philadelphia Missions Team. The team was a joint EM & Youth team featuring Elliott Youn, Gloria Cho, Nathan Cho, Jay Choi, Brandon Lee, Cristin Choi, and Joseph Lee. We spent a week in July in Philadelphia partnering with various organizations to help feed homeless and hungry people, as well as encourage and bond with children from various dangerous neighborhoods at a community center. From the trip, we learned many things but we mostly learned to love one another and grow to love the church.

In April of 2014, we had one baptism, SJ Lee, and one new member, Sylvia Kim. SJ Lee had joined our youth group as a 7th grader and had come to faith in Christ on a Sunday morning in response to a message. He was baptized in April and gave a short testimony before the whole congregation in the Easter service.

In August 2014, we were joined again by World Mission Church for our annual summer retreat. We returned to our summer retreat home at camp High Road. The theme was “Scandalous Freedom” and the speaker was Jacob Kim from Korean Presbyterian Church of Washington. We learned about the freedom we have in Christ from sin and death and freedom to receive God’s love and to love people.

In 2014, we launched two services on Sunday mornings to better serve those who serve the church in Children’s Ministry. We launched the 9AM service, which is also sometimes used by youth students and EM members who cannot attend the regular 11AM service due to various reasons. We have four regular members who attend the 9AM service. The message is the same as the 11AM service. In the fall of 2014, we received 3 new members from the Children’s Ministry. They have already begun to make an entertaining impact on youth meetings.

In 2014, we started our series in the book of 1 Peter entitled “Living Hope”. We’ve taken breaks from the series for the Easter season with a Easter series entitled, “The Victorious King” from Psalm 118. We are currently taking a break from 1 Peter and are in our Christmas series entitled, “He is Coming”.

Thursday night meetings start at 7:30pm for our English Ministry college+ team which is for college students and working young adults. Attendance ranges from 7 to 10 people. In 2014, we finished our series in Exodus and are currently in Galatians. Friday night meetings start at 7:30pm for our youth students. Starting in the fall, we were going through Jerry Bridges’ “The Practice of Godliness” study book. While it was good, we shifted more to a traditional Bible study small group format studying the book of Daniel. Elliott and Sylvia have stepped up to serve as leaders for the youth ministry.

We currently average about 20 attendees on Sunday mornings and currently have 26 in total which includes new comers, visitors, friends from other churches, and college students who are far away. We welcomed, other than the 3 new students from Children’s Ministry, Niko Kacludis and Brian Park.

Gospel Hope in the Midst of Sin

christ the victor final

Sermon Manuscript for Korean Capital Presbytery of the PCA

Genesis 3:1-24

“Gospel Hope in the Midst of Sin”

by Sam Kang

Introduction

Genesis 3 is the story of devastation and destruction. It is the story of loss and tragedy. Yet, Genesis 3 is also a story of remarkable hope and inevitable rescue.

 

Passage Study

“1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

The craftiness of the serpent cannot be confused as a pre-existing deposition for evil. Craftiness or shrewdness is not an evil, pre-existing, pre meditated plan from an evil creature to mess up humanity. No, John Calvin points out that Jesus even tells his disciples to be as shrewd as a serpent in Matthew 10:16! The serpent’s craftiness is not evil, it was designed with its craftiness by God. Satan, in his plan to tempt Adam and Eve, chose to utilize the natural characteristics of the serpent and turn it for the purpose of evil.

“Did God really say?”, asked Satan that day. This is the start of Satan’s temptation. Satan is no fool. His temptation is never a direct assault, but it starts as a small, innocent question. And yet, the innocent question is loaded full with poison and ideas designed to make us question God, His Word, His character, and His actions. When Satan asks Eve, “Did God really say?” It was a subtle but a strong attack on assault on God and His established order. We see that Satan, pretending to innocently just ask about the fruit tree and what God said about it, was in fact calling into question God’s Word. What Satan basically asks is, “If God is good and trust worthy, then why did he say you can’t eat this? Isn’t that weird?” It’s easy for us in 2014 to point our fingers at Adam and Eve for their foolishness, but you know we still today fall for that same trap. After all these years, Satan still asks us today, “Did God really say?”

3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

 

2:16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

 

Verse 2 shows Eve’s response to the serpent’s question. Satan asks, “Did God really say?” and Eve’s response should have been God’s Word given to Adam, which in turn was relayed to her. We see Jesus using this principle of using God’s Word against temptation in Matthew 4:1-11. In contrast to Jesus, however, Eve commits a serious sin by adding onto what God has said. In essence, by her answer, Eve answers Satan’s question of “Did God really say?” with, “No, He said this but this is what He really meant”. Her answer shows the feeling that perhaps what God has said is not enough and it needed something extra from Eve!

This response from Eve exposes another flaw for our Christian lives. It is not just simply the ignorance about the Word of God. I believe that it’s deeper than that. It is our deep and unspoken belief that the word God has spoken is not enough and therefore it needs something extra from us. God makes it clear all throughout Scripture, in places like Deuteronomy 12:32, that He is quite content in His Word and He’s also happy to leave it as it is. He doesn’t need us as editors. If we truly believe in an inspired and inerrant Word of God, then we must steadfastly hold onto every word that God has said and resist the temptation to add to it, twist it, and make it forcibly say something we want, in contrast to what God wants. Once again, before pointing our finger at Adam and Eve in their failures, we must understand we still are prone to making their mistakes.

4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

Verse 4 is the second phase of Satan’s temptation. Unlike the initial stage, this one is more direct and explicit in his direct challenge to God, His Word, and His actions. According to Calvin, Satan is planting the seed that God should only be obeyed when the reasons behind His actions are made clear. In contrast, if we look Jesus and His obedience, we see His obedience even at the cost of all things! And so as the disobedience of Adam and Eve brought forth sin and all of its effect on the world, the obedience of Christ brought forth life and the eventual full restoration of creation (Romans 5:14-19).

Satan calls God a liar and a paranoid coward. Calvin says about this verse, that Adam and Eve, by falling into Sin, agreed with Satan and no longer stood with God! Falling into sin, then, is to believe what the Devil says about God, rather than trusting in what God says about everything! When we might think, “Oh this would never happen to me! I’d never believe anything ridiculous about God! Especially when it’s from the devil! This is crazy!” Sin, then, is craziness. Adam and Eve were warned with death as a consequence of disobedience and even in that situation, chose to believe in the Devil. Sin is craziness because in sin, we believe in the Devil and his lies, even against a clearly communicated judgment of God.

Old Testament professor Peter Lee of RTS DC, also notes how Satan went specifically after Eve and not Adam. Again, we must remember that Satan is no fool. It’s not as though Adam had gone somewhere far. We see in verse 6 that Adam had been present throughout this entire conversation! He failed in his duty as the communicator of God’s word and the leader of his family! He allowed the lies of the devil to creep in and his whole family crumbled. But even more so, the question has to be asked, “Why did Satan go after Eve and not Adam?” It was Satan’s purpose to attack the natural order, which God had arranged. God had arranged creation in such a way that there was order and connections based upon that order. God had created man to take care of the world. The world was filled with animals and plants that lived in it and the animals were given their specific domains (birds in air, fish in water, etc). But man was to rule over all these things, in terms of cultivating or care taking. And no animal or plant was over man except God. So we have God at the top, man under Him, animals under him, and world (ground, land, dirt, mountains, etc) under them. In the family we see that God is at the top. Man was under Him, and the woman was under the man. Satan, fully aware of this, goes after Eve to upset the balance of this order. We even see this in the result of sin, as the woman’s desire to take the man’s position as the family leader is mentioned in Genesis 3:16. Another aspect of sin is this corruption of God’s original order of all things. It corrupts the family and it corrupts nature. Sin also corrupts the individual from the inside out.

6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

 

Verse 6 states that the “tree was desirable to make one wise” and in that mindset Adam and Eve stretched out and willfully disobeyed God. In verse 5, Satan had told Eve that God was a paranoid coward who did not want Adam and Eve to have his power and knowledge. That desire to be like God is the ultimate sin. There is no other God than God and He’s quite content on keeping it that way. This fact, however, does not sit well with us because we so very much want to be God. We don’t even want to be like God, we simply want to be God. We want the autonomy and power to exercise our free will and desire. We don’t want to submit or answer to anyone or anything.

Verse 7 shows our attempt to appease and atone for our sins according to our desires and design, not God. Hebrews 10:1-4 shows us that the Old Testament system of animal blood sacrifices was supposed to point to its own weakness to completely wash us of our sins and point rather away from itself and towards the One who, by His blood sacrifice, completely washes us of our sins. All of that highlights the requirement of blood payment for sin. And what is man’s attempt to appease holy judgment by his own design? It is not for repentance, cleansing, or atoning for sin, but a cover up job. God is not fooled. God graciously showed Adam and Eve the proper way to repent though a blood sacrifice in 3:21. How many of us, like Adam and Eve, desire to appease, run away from, or simply cover over our sin without the proper steps of repentance? We don’t like this act of repentance because it causes us to deal directly with the ugliness of our sin. We would much rather just forget about it and cover over it.

My little 3-year-old boy, Elijah, is a regular little boy who is learning about the world. He is told what is expected of him and what his boundaries are. And yet he rebels out of his sin nature. When he is confronted after his act of rebellion, he refuses to look us in the eye. In fact, there have been times when he would try to run and hide.

This desire to run from confronting our sins is ingrained in us ever since that day in Eden. Jesus does the opposite. He confronts the ugliness of sin and overwhelms it with the power and beauty of the Gospel. We see this in His passion. For all the punches, kicks, curses, lash, and bruises Christ received, He was confronting the ugliness of sin and the horrible judgment it inevitably leads to. The ugly nature of sin, Christ took to the cross and into the grave. You know, when we would otherwise be overwhelmed by this ugliness, Jesus resurrected in triumph and defeated the power of sin once for all. The Apostle Paul describes it like this in 1 Corinthians 15: “56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

 

Many people have been reading verse 8 for years without fully going into the depth of what it truly says. “In the cool of the day” is a translation of a rather difficult Hebrew grammar situation. In the literal Hebrew, instead of “cool of the day”, it says “spirit of the day”. Taken out of context, this phrase in verse 8 makes no sense. But in the context of chapter 3, according to Dr. Lee, one can see the “spirit of the day” as God coming in the spirit of judgment! God is a sovereign God, ruling over all of his creation. It is foolish to think that any sin occurs without His knowledge. The traditional “cool of the day” understanding would leave us to think that God was unaware of sin and was just ignorantly walking around in Eden. That is not the picture of the powerful Creator King presented from Genesis 1. God is the Creator King, Lawgiver, and also the Judge or Executor of His Law.

14 Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 16 To the woman He said,“I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

 

Sin, it seems, has won. Adam and Eve had fallen from grace and into an un-recoverable pit of sin. Sin had won. Paradise is lost. Man and creation was damaged. God was robbed of His people. God, the Righteous and Just King had to execute His promised judgment on His people. Verse 14 to 16 is God’s execution of judgment. And yet remarkably, in the midst of devastating and hopelessness of sin, God proclaims for the first time, His Gospel. Genesis 3:15 has been known as “the proto evangelion” since the days of Augustine. It is in fact the source of hope in all of the mess of sin. Sin, it seems, has not won. Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, but sin did not win. From the woman, God said, there will one day come a man who would undo all of this sin and its effects. Sin’s defeat was inevitable. God declared it. The righteous and holy God would not tolerate sin’s victory. And so God declared it. God declared that one day, there will come One who would crush the head of the serpent, and indeed crush all sin and even death itself. This glorious promise and all those who waited were finally relieved when, as Luke says in 3:38, in Christ we finally saw this promised seed come.

Christ is our glorious Gospel hope in the midst of the ugliest and most hope crushing sin. Even when we cannot see it, Christ still stands as our Gospel hope. It’s easy and tempting to see the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden as something negative and see it only as loss. However, that expulsion was only temporary because God would not allow His people to remain perpetually under the curse of sin and death. As we see in Revelations 21 and 22, that as Christ has triumphed over sin and death, the people of God are now ushered back into God’s garden, and not just merely to a garden, but a multi-national, multi-generational kingdom where God’s presence is unending. This is the Gospel hope in the midst of sin.

Sermon Manuscript for Korean Capital Presbytery of the PCA (<–Download link)

My Post-Philly Trip Testimony

Sam Kang Post-Trip Testimony

 

Here I am, safely back from my weeklong trip to Philadelphia from July 20th to July 25th! We headed to a small retreat center in Maryland for our debrief from the evening of July 25th to the afternoon of July 26th. It has been less than a week since our return and I am still processing all that we’ve experienced throughout the course of that week. Nonetheless, I want to start off by saying thank you, dear supporter, for your backing because without you, that trip would not have happened.

 

We spent the week helping various organizations, who through partnership with us as well as some native Philly folks from around town, to serve meals to over 1,100 people! In two occasions we served food to nearly 300 individuals in one work site! Needless to say, it was chaotic and fast paced! And you know what? Even in the middle of that we witnessed the hand of God working through His people to love the least and forgotten ones in Philadelphia. We, the team, got to witness indeed that the Gospel is advancing all around the world, even in the darkest and most seemingly hopeless places (Col 1:6). In one evening, before serving hot dinner to about 300 people, we held a worship service led by a local Baptist church. After hearing the proclaimed Gospel, two individuals stepped forward to trust in Jesus for the first time! One of them was actually a volunteer!

 

And as great as those numbers are, the great highlights of the trip has to be the relationships. At one of the service locations, I got a chance to meet and speak with a man named Rusty. He was working and living in a halfway house ministry which provides Bible study, housing, and work experience to people who otherwise would be stuck in a cycle of poverty. Rusty and I, along with the other team members, organizing piles of donated clothing into different bins. Rusty shared that he was very blessed with the counselor the center had provided and was interested in becoming a counselor himself! He wanted to be able to talk to people in their darkest moments and speak truth and light to them! We laughed and quickly bonded as the morning progressed. Over lunch, we continued our talk about his desires for becoming a counselor and I shared a little nugget of wisdom I heard from a seminary professor. He appreciated that and said with a big smile, “Man that’s so cool! I’m going to have to use that!” As we said our farewells, we shook hands and parted by saying, “Either on this side or the other side, we’ll see each other again.” That was super awesome.

 

Perhaps and unexpected source of relational bonding came from the team members themselves! Over the long 6 month period of monthly meetings, countless emails, questions, and texts, our team had formed fairly strong bonds going into the trip. Little did I know that our relationships would only grow during the week! The team spent the week sharing each others’ struggles and accepting each other regardless of their weaknesses because we follow a Savior who had accepted all of us regardless of our weaknesses.

 

There were so many laughs, tears, and moments of terror and joy shared throughout this whole ordeal. I can only thank you, the supporter, and our great Savior who saves not only from our sins, but also from our self-centeredness and invites us to go with Him to love and serve the least and the forgotten. To God be the glory.

A Significant Mile Marker

I am told fairly constantly that the DC metro area’s traffic is among the nation’s worst. In fact, a 30 minute lee way to going some where in northern VA used to be OK only 10 years back. (Now it’s more like 45 minutes) To add to the frustration and confusion, a few years back the good folks who run the state of VA decided to renumber all of the existing exit numbers on 495 to simply reflect the mile markers. It’s not a big deal now, but at first it required people to readjust their driving habits a bit.

I open with that analogy as I reflect upon the close of my 3rd year at Risen Sun Pres Church. I started in April 2011. That’s a big deal to me because up until this point, I had not found a church family, home, or environment which was healthy enough to sustain myself or my family for longer than 2.5 years! Assuredly, some (if not many) of the blame must be placed on my shoulders. And the 3 years at Risen Sun hasn’t been easy, for sure. And yet here we are. Following closely to wherever the Lord leads. Sometimes the Lord leads us through deserts, and sometimes through ice cream shops! But one thing that always must remain constant is that Jesus is at the front and we following in the back. It’s never easy or comfortable. The first church, where I was determined to serve until I died, was left because of issues within the church leadership. That was heart breaking and I asked God, “Why?!” However, at the second church is where I met my beautiful and loving wife.

And so as I approach April 2014, I place a mile marker, of sorts, for myself. This is indeed a big deal. God has brought me safe thus far. And though the road was tough, He has brought me safe thus far. God took a bunch of whining, frustration causing, holy fire inviting, Judgment Day quickening, unthankful bunch of people (two generations) through the wilderness in spite of their stubborness and all of the above superlatives to His end goal of the promised land. I’d imagine that sometimes He feels the same way about me as He did about them Israelites. And yet as He did not give up on them, so I know that He will not give up on me. He has brought me safe thus far.

added notes for “Let us pray 2″ on James 5:16-18

This was originally intended as part of my notes for the message delivered on Aug 11th. However, there is a LOT of material and it is important for us to know, so I took it out and am posting it here:

James does clearly uses the word “elders” in verse 15. Biblically speaking elders are both representatives and leaders of the church family (Acts 11:30; 20:28; 21:18; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Sadly, today’s church only expects the pastor (who is a teaching elder) to pray when someone’s sick. James, here, clearly states that when we get sick we ask the elders to pray for us – not because sickness is always connected with sin – but many times it is. And we ask the elders to pray not because God will always heal – but because as spiritual fathers – they are commanded to love, serve, and intercede for the church family when the church cannot. That is biblical eldership.

Thoughts on DC inner city outreach

frodo5

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25, NASB)

Here I sit at the start of a new week, and yet it is somehow different. I imagine that it’s a little bit like what Frodo mentions in his monologue after returning to the shire at the end of his great adventure. And just like Frodo, I find myself saying, “How do I go back to a life, when so much has changed – when everything has changed?” And so the question now turns to: what adventure has caused such change? My answer is: a week in south east DC, partnering with TeamEffort and 3 other churches from Ohio and N. Carolina to serve and minister to the weak, poor, and overlooked in the name of Jesus.

I must admit that when it comes to Christian ministry, I talk a big game about past experiences and like to position myself as some expert in it. And yet when it comes to missional work – I am sadly INexperienced. There were numerous stories, encounters, and lessons learned – too much to mention all here – and I can say with great confidence that in spite of the physical woes (due to my out of shape status), my spirit soared and finds itself now renewed and recharged. This seems odd to some. It was a response of one when they asked about the trip upon our return – that despite physically draining activities, my spirit had somehow been well fed and rested.

How can this be?

The answer lies in the above passage from Matthew 25. It’s that when we go out to be “Jesus with skin on” – that’s where we find Him. And so contrary to popular belief, preconceived notions, and maybe even common sense – I found Jesus in spite of physical hardships, in the hot, humid streets of southeast DC – in the roughest neighborhoods. And in Him, I found true rest.

Check out this song by Steven Curtis Chapman!