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Keller’s Book makes the New York Times Best Seller List! February 23, 2008

Posted by peterong in Tim Keller.
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Yes, I am on a Tim Keller kick but “Reason for God” made the top New York Times Bestseller list for Hardcover Nonfiction. I honestly didn’t know there would be such a broad demand for it…looking forward to the buzz…yes, I am working a review…I will keep you posted.

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Hot Gway and Obama February 23, 2008

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Lower East Side, racism, Rants.
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Time Magazine wrote an article called “Does Obama Have an Asian Problem?” and as I read through this I realized how I felt both a sense of embarrassment as well as relief that some of the issues that it brought out. One part of me felt it like it was an airing of Asian America’s “dirty laundry.” What struck me was the question, “could it be that Asian Americans are not voting for him because he is black?” When I read that, I was caught off guard and not sure what to make of that question from a national publication. Perhaps race does play a part in the way we vote or want to see our leadership but I suspect that the Time article was trying to be provocative and not making a real investigative approach but rather it was a story looking for an issue rather vice versa.

But one quote that got me was this:

Alan Shum, 24, an analyst for an investment fund in New York City, cast his vote for Obama. But he also thinks his elders might have a problem doing the same. “Voting for a black candidate is just not something that would jump out at them,” he says. “Chinese people are really racist at times.” He points to the colloquial Chinese for “white” and “black,” which append both words with “devil.” “The vernacular tells you a little about something,” he says. “Chinese people can be very, very insular as a culture — very superior. We look down upon any race that isn’t Chinese.” (more…)

Strange bedfellows: CBN and Tim Keller February 22, 2008

Posted by peterong in racism, Tim Keller.
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Thanks to Karis blog, I found out that Tim Keller was featured on Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) here. I remember when I was a kid, I would stumble on CBN and always amazed at the on air healings that Pat Robertson would pronounce. I would always wait for him to say, “Oh I see a chubby Asian boy, with a rice bowl haircut, he has been praying for a miracle, to have the one Asian girl in his elementary school like him. I see the heart of that young girl grow fond to him. I can sense that she is falling in love with this oriental boy” (I wouldn’t be surprised if he said that after his insensitive on-air remark here). It is strange that Tim Keller would allowed to be interviewed by CBN here given his reticence towards giving interviews. But it was an even portrayal of the movement that Redeemer is trying to accomplish. I am thankful that he is gaining a broader audience and the challenge of bringing an orthodox view of Christianity to urban dwellers. It reminds that there is a yearning for this city, that is so fast and so temporal for something deep and rooted in hope in the midst of our tragic idols. Thanks to DJ for sharing this link to Tim Keller’s recent sermon on Job here.

Stayed Tune…for my review of “Reason for God” by Tim Keller.

If you would like to join me to discuss the book at a Friday brown bag lunch at Bryant Park Area in New York City email me at peter at palmny dot org. It will be a good time for us to meet folks from Living Faith Community Church and friends who are interested in talking about faith matters. If you are interested in visiting the church I will preaching this coming Sunday on “A People Worthy of the Gospel” Philippians 1:27-30.

ENGAGE Speaker Series begins this month February 12, 2008

Posted by peterong in ENGAGE, Social Justice.
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ENGAGE Speaker Series begins!Pastoral and Laity Ministries is launching another season of monthly ENGAGE Speaker Series for the Laity serving Asian American churches. The past seasons we had topics on developing Asian American youth ministry, as well as, Asian American Church leadership. This Spring we are presenting a series to equip the Asian American church to think about social justice and community engagement. Our first ENGAGE Speaker Series announcement is below:FebruaryTuesday, Feb 19, 2008.7-9pm @Oversea Chinese Mission (OCM) church in Chinatown154 Hester St. on the corner of Elizabeth St. (map here)To RSVP, contact Peter Ong at peter[at]palmny[dot]orgDescription:Pastoral and Laity Ministries (PaLM) is excited to announce our Spring 2008 Season of ENGAGE Speaker Series to provide training and networking opportunities to lay leaders. This Spring, we will focus on a series of talks/conversations concerning how church leaders can think about social justice and community engagement. The series is held on the third Tuesday of every month at various venues throughout the city. We hope that it will serve your congregation leadership as a resource for some training and teaching. This Spring Speaker Series program is in partnership with OneHouse, an Asian American ministry that seeks to unify and mobilize the body of Jesus Christ through worship and intercessory prayer to bring social justice to global and local communities and to honor Christ’s love for the oppressed.This month we will have the Executive Director of Restore NYC share about the issues facing our community in the area of sex trafficked workers. Ms. Huckel will share some insight on this often neglected issue in the Asian American community and some thoughts on how to engage this community.The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing crime in the world, generating $28 billion dollars a year. NYC’s JFK airport is deemed by the Department of State to be a major port of entry and transit point for trafficking. The sex trade in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs ranges from brothels, strip clubs, peep booth shows, massage parlors, street prostitution, escort services, bars, and private apartments. This presentation will provide an overview on the issue of sex trafficking from an international, as well as a local NYC-based level, providing specific and concrete ways for the Christian community to serve and fight this injustice in our communities. (more…)

Tim Keller in Newsweek February 11, 2008

Posted by peterong in New York Ministries, Tim Keller.
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I heard that Tim Keller is in Newsweek this week in an article called “The Smart Shepherd.” It is amazing how much traction Dr. Keller has picked up in the last 10 years. I remember first attending Redeemer as a pagan in my college year. I had dated this Christian girl and she was the only one Christian girl I dated who maintained her integrity in her faith and her body. I remember that back in those days (1993/1994), the church was about 300 and Keller would have these Q & A sessions after service. I would badger him about “sin” and the pettiness of God. I don’t remember his answers much but I remember he was cordial and intellectually engaging. It was something I never forgot as I journeyed for another few years before I came home as a prodigal. While I was at Redeemer serving in a short tenure as BOD member of Hope for New York (Redeemer’s Justice and Mercy ministry wing), I occasionally ran into him and had conversations about faith, family and the city. He seemed self-effacing and at times even uncomfortable being in the center of attention.

I am struck that he is seen in the Asian American Christian circles as a hero and to others an object of such envy. Redeemer Presbyterian has to a large part been a triage for so many disaffected post- second generation Asian American Christians. He brings to the community a level of engagement that is refreshingly robust in intellect, a warm embrace of humility, a deep commitment to the gospel, high regard for scripture and an inspired God-sized vision for the city. He is a spiritual father to many in the city, as a visionary for the Urban Church Planting Center, and serving the Greater New York area’s Presbytery. Yet, there is a haunt for me. No one personality should have such an impact without preparing for an apparent heir to this ministry. The legacy of Tim Keller needs to be continued. I am glad that his book “Reason for God” that is coming out next week and it will start to reach a larger audience. I am thankful for his ability of creating space for a singular expression of how to think and prepare to engage an urban intellectual (postmodern) culture with the latent power of the gospel. Too many “trends” these days are on building churches to be more “healthy” and “authentic” and “relevant” but not without compromising the gospel and putting to much focus on church growth versus gospel depth.

My journey as a staff at Living Faith Community Church ( Presbyterian Church of America church) has made me realize how much powerful the gospel is. How it does not end with our “emotional health” but rather outward to a community that is so desperate for grace and the power of redemption. Hope, not in the pithy manner as Pastor Hickman shared so powerful this past Sunday (sermon here. Note: It will be available after Tuesday) but the intense faith that is required to engage in the hope that we proclaim.

Despite the state of the church these days, there are moments of hope. I am excited to see what God will do. So join with me and pick up an issue of Newsweek or you can read the article online. I might brave an extra block in the cold to pick up this issue up and pray that God will raise up another worker…not in the Tim Keller mold but rather one that is inspired by those who God has called. We don’t need another Tim Keller but we do need to have more those who believe in the gospel and daring enough to proclaim it.

Vanishing Point February 8, 2008

Posted by peterong in Rants, Tim Keller.
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I am getting some time after a long awaited encounter with sabbath to try to bind up some of my personal issues with soul care. Here are some recent reflections after returning from the Concerts of Prayer of Greater New York’s Pastors Prayer Summit a few weeks ago. It is considered the premier gathering of over 300 pastoral leaders from the New York area. I had the privilege of having my first speaking engagement there in 1999. My first sermon/reflection was to lead a prayer time for Chinatown youth (talk about initiation of fire!).

It has been about 5 years since I last attended it. I was there to represent my involvement with Pastoral and Laity Ministries as well as Living Faith Community Church and the Coalition of Urban Youth Workers. It was great to see some of those men and women who have been such spiritual parents to me. These are the older gatekeepers who have served to give opportunities for a generation of young leaders such as myself to be part of the privilege of serving the city together. It was amazing to pray with  some old friends like Walter Sotelo (Citivision), Michel Faulkner (New Horizon Church), Tom Mahairas (Citivision) and others. 

But what was suppose to be the highlight was a vanishing point for me when Rick Warren gave a presentation as part of the Leadership Center that they are forming to serve the under-resourced NYC churches (you can see a video here). Although his principles for leadership were great, I felt that it was what Pastor Joseph Tsang calls “ecclesiastical pornography” when we desire a church like Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Willow Creek, and/or Saddleback.  I think it is important to remember that it took Rick Warren 28 years of ministry to get to where he is now. It is Rick Warren’s calling to this specific church. I wonder if he thinks that his South California culture of church could be duplicated in NYC. As we went to our breakout sessions, I realized that most pastors were floored by his presentation and wanted to adopt Warren’s strategy to build leaders. My heart grew heavy. (more…)