Christ Alone, Cornerstone

We recently got back from leading praise at the GKUMC Retreat and from the worship, to the people, to even the food… what a weekend!

The theme of this retreat was Building Brick By Brick. Which may make you wonder, what’s at the base of your life? What’s your foundation? The writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The beautiful rest on the foundations of the necessary”, meaning that before a structure is built, it’s important to examine the foundation. In fact, other scholars, poets, and other notable figures have emphasized the importance of a solid foundation as well.

One reference that might come to mind is Matthew 7:24-27, which is the parable of The Wise And Foolish Builders (also known as “Build Your House On The Rock”).

But the idea is this: a foundation (or cornerstone) carries & supports not only the weight of the building, but also withstands any extra weight that may come its way such as the people, furniture, vehicles, etc. Therefore, good planning is a must! Without a solid foundation, you won’t have strong & level support for the structure.

Likewise, when we follow after Jesus and live by the Word of God, we are building upon the rock. The support we find with this Cornerstone would be able to withstand the extra weight of people, situations, difficulties, and other storms of life. But as we see in the passage in Matthew, those that don’t build their lives on solid ground but rather on sand will experience their structure falling with a great crash.

The way the retreat wrapped up was perfect. The backbone of that last message was to put God first. When you go through your list of important things, is He first? Or do you build your structure on fleeting things, unreliable objects, sinking sand? If we want to make it, we can’t do it on our own strength and planning. We need to live by God’s Word and trust in the course He’s set for us.

Simply put, we ought to follow after Jesus. I don’t know about you today but when I reflect upon my life, He’s been faithful time and time again. No one and nothing else can compare! Let’s continue to refocus and plan our lives to be built upon the solid rock, Jesus Christ, who gives us level support and satisfies our every desire!

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:7-11

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

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Journey Of Faith

With summer here, many of us may be wrapping up the school year – some may have graduated from school while others may be moving on to a new job… Wherever we are, it’s important to continue to live faithfully in our Christian journeys.

Last month we had the opportunity to lead praise for the Cornerstone Church Retreat where the keynote speaker Rev. Brad Paik shared on this journey of faith. How often do you feel like your faith journey is out of touch with the rest of your life? It may be difficult to see right now, but when we take a step back we should be able to gauge where we are heading with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we live by faith and not by sight. Much of what we do – our actions, our impact, etc… – is visible but with God, sometimes things are unseen. Does that make it harder for you to grasp where God is leading you? It says in Luke 18:8, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Perhaps you have some aspects in your life you need to work on so that you are more available for the Lord. Continue to trust in Him even in the transitions or storms of this life.

Your next chapter may be here and the future may seem distant or unclear. But as we remain faithful, take one step at a time with God. He is with us and He is for us.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Lent, Week 5: Love

We’re not talking about a worldly love but a Godly love – a love from the Father as we are of the Father, not of the world. Yet we often find ourselves loving things more than we should: food, shopping, games, March Madness… But Jesus says in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Instead, just as God loves us we too ought to love Him and others with a Godly love. In fact, God is love and He says that we should love one another: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) But love is tough, isn’t it? We always revert to love the things we once did and hate the things we’ve always known hating. But because of Jesus Christ and the love He showed on the cross, we can put that behind us and strive to be more like Him who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

The old has gone away and the new has come. We no longer live because we have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in us only because of the love & faithfulness of God the Father and His one and only Son (Galatians 2:20). This changes everything! So while we continue to pave the way, keep at it! It may be tough and it won’t be easy but while earthly love is convenient and will be effortless to slip back into, it is not the true love that God set aside for us.

This week, remember that God is love and that He is with you so that you don’t have to love on your own as it’s portrayed in fairy tales, books, or movies. The love we give and show the world, as we become better disciples, is of the Father. It’s the kind of love that fills us even when other love fails us. God loves us & cares for us and as we draw closer to Holy Week, remember the massive love that will be displayed for us because He so loved the world.

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 4: Peace

When I think of peace, I instantly think of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” because of the first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.

How confident are we in this peace that surpasses all understanding, that even when sorrows come in like sea billows we can still say it is well? Crises, trials, accidents, temptations, chaos… But the Bible says to focus on the Lord because He will give you peace, a calmness the world cannot provide. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And Jesus said that in Him you will have peace (John 16:33): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The story goes that the writer of the hymn, Horatio Spafford, experienced great loss and pain during an overseas trip. He sent his wife and four daughters to England before himself, later learning that their ship had a collision and only his wife survived… that’s when he wrote the first verse. Wow.

Being able to say those words even through tragedy! That’s the kind of peace God gives us, brothers & sisters. As we trust in Him in the good times and the bad, with steadfast minds, we place our faith in Jesus Christ who is coming back.

We’re already about halfway to Easter but are you continuing to look to and trust in God at all times? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In this fourth week of Lent, whatever is troubling you, whatever is comforting you, whatever your lot (defined as fate, future, or destiny…), I hope we will be able to look to nothing else but the Lord who guards us and leads us by still waters.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Reflection Song: You Are Greater


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 3: Joy

Do you ever regret giving something up for Lent? Whether or not fasting is fairly new to you, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it.

Yet, Lent is a time to fast with joy. There may be times where you feel like you are fasting grudgingly, reluctant to continue or maybe even start! But remember why we are are doing all of this as we make our way towards Easter: preparing a way for the Lord. This isn’t a time to be somber or grim – it’s a time to find joy in the cross! A joy that brings freedom by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. (“Shout for joy, Hallelujah! He has overcome!”)

I imagine it this way… Say you are burdened with carrying a ton of heavy textbooks in your backpack. This weight, this burden, is then lifted and you experience walking like you’ve never felt before – that release, that freedom, that joy! The same is with our sins or the things that detract us from Jesus. When we let go of these things and know that the power of the cross releases the hold of sin and death in our lives, our walks are forever changed and we are set free! That ought to stir up some joyful response in us!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about fasting: “…do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father… who sees what is done in secret…

This week, try to tap into that joy in your life and walk with the Father. He knows what you’re doing and wants the best for you as you strive to resemble Christ. Lent isn’t about feeling sad or regretful – be joyful as you fast and prepare with spiritual gladness this Lenten season as you are with God and as He is with you. Keep going strong with the joy of the Holy Spirit!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:10-12

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 2: Patience

Whether you’ve given something up for Lent, like chocolate, or you’ve added a new spiritual practice, like praying more, we all need patience. The Hebrew word for patience means to wait for, to look for, to hope, to expect… So in this second week of Lent, it’s the perfect discipline to look at as we seek and wait for the Lord.

Consider Psalm 37:7 which says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” What we love about this Lenten season is that as we give up or take up things for 40 days, it isn’t just the act of giving/taking them up but the patience behind them as we think about the Lord and wait patiently for Him. And in these days leading up to Easter, it isn’t an apathetic waiting but an expectant waiting – an active waiting.

But we all know that it isn’t easy. Many times, we’ll be tempted to give up and lose our cool. Hebrews 12:1 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (or patience, or endurance) the race marked out for us…

Do we run a race calmly and nonchalantly? No. The kind of patience we need in our walks is an active and dynamic patience as we face difficulties, endure trials & temptations, and trust in God’s promise and timing. It’s already been 8 days since we started and I’m sure many of us are having a tough time but instead of letting impatience and restlessness overcome us, let’s try resting in God’s perfect timing and strengthen our patience. Continue to be in His Word so that when you feel lost or anxious, you will have a better idea of the course of action needed to actively wait for Him and endure.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. –Romans 2:7

Reflection Song: Christ Is


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Perfect Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

The other day at our church small group, a few of us were talking about the unfortunate lack of communication these days and how that’s impacted our signs of affection. It’s gotten to the point where we aren’t sure what “I like you” means anymore because some feel the need to differentiate “I like you” with “I like like you”! That’s some real emphasis there!

With Valentine’s Day so imminent, those who have a date may be getting ready for whatever’s planned – but those who don’t may be wondering “does he/she like like me?”, much like the classic “he loves me / he loves me not” flower petal plucking…

But I think it’s great that Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday this year because the following day is Sunday, the day we gather together to worship the One who truly loves us. And in case you aren’t sure how much God loves you, let’s take a look at the very famous verse, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

You see, God showed His love for us on the cross with His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. There’s no doubt about it after reading that verse that it’s because of God’s perfect love. And in case you need that extra emphasis or clarification, take a closer look: “For God so loved the world…” – that’s like saying, “For God loved loved the world”! That’s quite some love! It’s the same perfect love that casts out fear and insecurity (1 John 4:18)… the perfect love that helps heal & cure… perfect love that we are made aware of and get to experience every day.

So whether you’ve got plans or you’ve got plans to stay at home, God so loves you… in fact, God is love and His perfect love is unconditional, unmatched, and unmeasurable.

Reflection Song: One Thing Remains

Temple Of Legos

We attended the first night of the Re:New Conference by the Luis Palau Association, here in Wayne, NJ. There were some great leaders leading the night such as Luis Palau, Francis Chan, and worship led by Kristian Stanfill and the Passion band. It was a great night of worship and prayer, as well as being fed by the Word and being inspired & informed of the things going on in our NJ/NY/CT region.

But during Francis Chan’s talk, the part about Jesus’ prayer from John 17 stood out in particular:

“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

That “oneness”… that “unity in the Trinity”, if you will, is what was the center of the night. Uniting all peoples of all races and of all denominations and backgrounds to be one. Francis Chan illustrated this by taking out a single Lego piece (and if you aren’t familiar with Legos, maybe Mega Bloks are more for you?) – saying that we, you & I, are like a Lego piece. On our own we are individual and separate but, like Legos, we are meant to be built together as the temple – attached to each other so that those attached will see the glory of the Lord.

Francis Chan
(Francis Chan holding up Legos)

And, mind you, that’s not the physical temple like what’s mentioned here in 2 Chronicles 7 because now we are the temple. And I love what he said next because it really drove it home: In 1 Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

The “you” in that verse is actually plural like “y’all” but the “temple” is singular. We are to be one in the Spirit. What a massive idea! We may each be a Lego piece but each of us are part of the same temple – you may be a bottom piece, a middle piece, or a piece that goes on top, but we’re all singular… one.

So we need to function like the way Christ wanted us to function. By ourselves, Legos aren’t all that great… it’s when they come together that they build something more and something better. Right now you may feel alone and may be going through something or maybe it’s something as imminent as being anxious about Lent. But we need to be patient and continue to build this body, this community, this temple. We’ve been saying here that 2015 will be a big year – and we truly believe it. It’ll take time, but we pray that the church would be undivided and build up for something greater in the Kingdom of God!

Stay attached and stay united. Jesus is coming soon!

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Hanging By A Thread

Getting tired of being disappointed? Are you on the verge of quitting your job? Does your patience get tested? Feel like you’re losing grip of everything? Finances? Relationships?

We’ve all had some moment(s) where we’re hanging by a thread and it’s about to snap. So what do you do?

The Psalms tell of many difficult times, grieving, sorrows, etc… To name a couple, Psalm 88 and Psalm 42 sound particularly distraught. But as we read on, we realize that God is indeed faithful and He provides. Take a look at how He delivers from troubles in Psalm 121 and Psalm 34.

Even Jesus tells His disciples in John 16 (“The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn To Joy”) that they’ll face trouble in this world but to take heart, for He has overcome the world!

So actually, it’s no surprise that we so often feel like we’re hanging by a thread. In fact, it’s just as much not a surprise to know that God will come through and set us back on solid rock! Psalm 40 says exactly this: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

But back to the original question: So what do you do? We can be sure that God knows what’s going on in our lives, how we’re feeling, what we’re going through… So pray to Him, cry out to Him, trust in Him – the One who is for us. We shouldn’t focus on the bad or the suffering but, just as we saw in the Psalms, remember that God is good, loving, gracious, and on-time. Isaiah 26 says that God will keep those whose minds are faithful in perfect peace because they trust in the Lord.

May Jesus be the peace and the anchor in our troubling times. For just as the life of Jesus was not spared in order to save us from our sins, we trust in our God who is rich in love & mercy who can surely catch us from the thread, pull us out of the pit, bring us ashore… And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you… (1 Peter 5:7)

Reflection Song: Christ Is