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

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

Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You

Easter Faithfulness

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

Today we rejoice and celebrate for our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead and is victorious over sin & over death. He has overcome the grave and just as He lives, we live – lives that are lived for Him. Just as God reminds us of His faithfulness on this day, we too live lives that are faithful to Him. For because of the cross where Jesus died for our sins, we are made new, made alive to God, and dead to sin.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Happy Easter, everyone!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


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

Lent, Week 6: Gentleness & Kindness (A Palm Sunday Blog)

In some translations of the Bible, gentleness & kindness are almost interchangeable. Today we celebrate this gentleness/kindness as Jesus, our King, enters Jerusalem humbly and gently on a donkey. As Palm Sunday, many of us might imagine the crowds, the masses, the shouts of “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9), and a mess of palm branches on the road. But this time we want to invite you to think of the calm & quiet nature in which Jesus arrived this Holy Week.

Gentleness and kindness could mean “meekness”, but not “weakness”. Jesus was a perfect example of this as He obeyed and submitted to the Father, yet carrying out an eternal plan. While many on this day expected a militant ruler, warrior, or conqueror, our Savior came in riding on a lowly colt! Zechariah 9:9 prophesied, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

On one hand, gentleness is humility, grace, obedience… and kindness is an uprightness, a caring, a kindness of heart. We aim for these two as we strive to be like Jesus, who displayed gentleness & kindness in His life and death. It is this gentleness and kindness that God showed as He offered salvation to us – the same characteristic that is at work within us through the Holy Spirit… that we would offer up our own lives as well, especially during this Lent season, as we think about the life and death of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus has come today! As we embark on Holy Week, let’s think about the selfless sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. He surrenders Himself to the Father’s will with gentleness (humility, grace, obedience) and kindness (uprightness, caring, gentleness) just as we should. For those who have given things up for Lent, how is that going? Do we allow the Spirit to guide us as we surrender ourselves so that all that we do is done with a spirit of gentleness & kindness?

In this final stretch, continue to be an example of Christ as He continues to be your guide in all things. May His gentleness and kindness carry over to you today.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


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

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 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

Smiling Galaxy Cluster (SDSS J1038+4849 from Hubble)

You may have heard on the news of the recent finding by the Hubble Space Telescope… a smile found on galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 seen here :

hubble
(Taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope)

Much like last year’s Hand Of God, you can’t help but think of God smiling down at us. It’s funny how all the “stars aligned” to bring us this image. But it’s a great reminder to know that we give God pleasure and make Him smile.

How do we make Him smile/happy? Some ways are by making Him a priority, obeying and serving Him. We should have faith and hope in Him, revering and honoring Him. Psalm 147:11 even says “the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

God created all and it is for His pleasure that everything exists and was created. How are you doing in your walks with Him? Where can you grow in your life to continue giving God reasons to smile? Remember that He takes delight in His people (Psalm 149:4) so as you live faithfully and humbly for Him and His glory, worship Him and enjoy the close & intimate relationship He offers us all!

To quote our song Here Today: “His love is intimate, His power is infinite”! We get to know this mighty and awesome God and He wants to be a part of your life. We hope today you are reminded of His faithfulness and presence in your life as He smiles on you and makes His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:25)!

Reflection Song: Here Today

Jesus Saves

There’s an old joke where Jesus and Satan have an epic debate and try to settle the matter with an essay, where God would be the judge. Jesus and Satan got on their computers and began typing with all they had in order to finish on time… but just as time was up, there was a power surge. God then decided that Jesus had won. Upset, Satan asked, “How can that be when the power loss erased both our work?”, failing to see that Jesus’ work remained intact. God announced, “Jesus saves!”

Not too long ago, my trusty USB flash drive malfunctioned (which, to this day, I have no idea of how it happened). It’s fine – I bought a replacement and now I know to be careful with the files that I save on it. But it got me thinking… We put so much of our trust in things that fail all the time, no matter what kind warranty or return policy it has. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. This means if we are for sin, then the only outcome is death; death is the end-result of sin. But because of Jesus Christ, God granted us eternal life and our sins were washed white. There’s no need to worry when it comes to the faithfulness of God!

Today is exactly one month following Easter, and still we’re reminded of Jesus and the life He gives. Often times we fall short and lean on something that’s bound to fall, when we ought to be trusting and leaning on Jesus’ name. Let’s not take for granted the precious blood that Jesus spilled for us to display the free gift of grace by God. Whenever you experience something breaking or life feels like it’s collapsing around you, remember that Jesus saves and one day Satan will ultimately be defeated!

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours! (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood