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Economics of the Obedience: Incentives are not the Gospel May 10, 2013

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Here is a video excerpt from Freakanomics that is an illustration of our relationship with God. We want incentives and in that, we think we are creating intimacy through obedience but rather it doesn’t the opposite. It creates a transactional dynamic that keeps us very far from God. Incentives are a poor way of gaining obedience. It creates a sinful heart.

Entering In and Coming Out March 26, 2013

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Today was a monumental day as the Supreme Court has met together to weigh the issue of same-sex marriage. In the fray, there has been a variety of voices, some of it is motley while others are thoughtful and engaged.But there is little doubt that one can stay neutral as the bearings of the issue take shape. But there has been some that I have found to be helpful in their measured voices as well as their stance on such an important issue that will have implications of a generation of church leaders.

I found this “Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian” that was a call to the church to weigh in on our stance inside the walls of the church. I found a great counter voice by Voddie Bauchum called “Gay is not the New Black” and a great article on Tim Keller’s recent talk at Ethics and Public Policy Center. I particularly liked Dr. Keller’s reference to  Jonathan Rauch’s Advocate article, “Majority Report“; where Rauch makes a call to the larger Gay Movement to create space for unconvinced opponents to openly reason together.

As with all issues, it is not simply a doctrine for us to espouse but to know that what we stand for will ultimately affect people, especially children who are currently are part of families of same sex couples, for friends of those who love their gay friends and family members, and for those in ministry where they need to navigate a landmine of emotions and histories of such sensitive hurts. It is my hope that we traverse with a boldness to the truth of the gospel as it confronts us with our rebellion towards God as well as comfort us with beauty of receiving grace when we repent.

I pray for wisdom and reconciliation on both sides and meet at foot of the cross where mercy and sacrifice is laid before us. Especially during this season of Lent, where we find our homecoming availed because of the death and life of Christ.

Doing the Wrong Thing December 22, 2012

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“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If however, you want to look at stars, you will find that darkness is required. The stars neither require it nor demand it.” —Annie Dillard

When faced with the unspeakable tragedies like that of Sandy Hook Elementary, we are struck with a variety of voices and it is the ones who strike deepest for me are those posed by those who are directly and deeply affected. Then there are those who are on the periphery who are deeply impacted with great empathy and reach out to a suffering community. Then there the cacophony of voices who seem so removed they use the occasion to either inspire or bring a decline in thoughtful discussion who God is in the midst of tragedy.

What we think and believe about God really matters. Because in what we think and believe about God will give us a framework of how we confront such profound and difficult questions. It affects us all. No single person is immune to it. (more…)

42st August 20, 2012

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42st

Tim Keller on “Evangelism in the 21st Century” April 24, 2012

Posted by peterong in Christ and Culture, Tim Keller.
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Tim Keller speaking on the challenges of city work and evangelism. Love the part of the video when you hear the truck backing up. Ha…so urban.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day January 18, 2010

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here is a quote that has resonated while I was in social ministry. It still moves me today what could be possible for the church.

“In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But oh! how we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being non-conformists.”

Living Faith Community Church Coffeehouse w/ Jinny Kim (Saturday, December 19th) December 9, 2009

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We are excited for our church’s youth group for our first coffeehouse featuring recording artist Jinny Kim. I will give a short message reflecting on Christmas and the wonder, the perplexity, and the hope in the arrival of this little child Jesus. The LFCC youth group will perform as well special guest Kimberly Mendoza (she is an amazing aspiring star) and musical prodigy Adam Sue.

Details are above, I hope you can come and invite friends!

Article on Suicide Rates in the Asian American community August 14, 2009

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Chinese American.
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hope_god

New American Media put out an article about the rise of Asian Americans and suicide rates and referred to recent happenings involving three students at Caltech who committed suicide.   As I read this and people are chiming in about the influence of pressure of achievement from family and also the overall environment at the university to excel. I think that some of the scholars are missing is that suicide narratives are such a part of the cultural narrative.

As I remember so much of our histories and stories in our family has always had one or another relative who found their only way of escape was to take one’s life. It was not glorified in any sense but more of a necessary reality of our family history. As I think through the analysis of some of the psychological issues which we as a culture forgo or dismiss, I think the deeper issue of transparency or creating space so we know how to speak into our individual and collective pain. (more…)

sabbatical thoughts (part one) July 7, 2009

Posted by peterong in Reflections.
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pulpit_overlooking

As I return to filling various pulpits in the new york metro area since taking a one year sabbatical from preaching, I have gained a greater appreciation to my role in ministry and the heart that I have to this privilege of preaching.

As I have looked at this gift that I have been given to speak, it has always been an ambivalent relationship. one one hand, it is beautiful in going deep in the exegesis of the text and being able to share it with your church family but on the other hand, I think the celebrity that accompanies it is deceptive and sinfully alluring. for many preachers their sense of success comes from the quality of the reception of the sermon. in my case, i often felt that people equated my character with preaching and those are not necessarily the same. i confess that i often overshoot when i preach. i yearn for the gospel but not necessarily want to make the necessary sacrifices to follow the applications that I set out for others. so, i find myself at wits end because the culture of the church requires ministers to entertain, and be as provocative as their reality tv shows. so they want a good anecdote, a good message that is well organized, a message that is unique and witty. but if it were just that easy.

the words that are being formed around the preaching of the word are sometimes muted by the desires of the congregations and I am so afraid that i am falling into this trap. this trap of wanting so much for people to like me. to be a christian celebrity. but i am learning to speak harder with a prophetic imagination and especially with youth, i want them to go beyond “jesus loves you…” but rather “jesus is love…” and that truth should move us to a profound call to follow and to love with extravagance. (more…)

Shakespeare on Mercy June 23, 2009

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stumbled upon this on a friend’s facebook wall

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

-Portia
“The Merchant of Venice”

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