Changing Of The Seasons

Fall is officially arriving next week yet halfway through the month of September we’re already getting a glimpse of leaves changing color, school being a couple weeks in, and Halloween merchandise rolling into stores. The seasons are changing!

And I don’t know what it is but the closer we get to winter, the more I think about how life is constantly in motion. Maybe it’s sentimentalism or nostalgia, but I’d like to think of it as a sense of maturing – that we can gauge where we were, where we are, and where we’re going. And there are times where I like this feeling, and others where the feeling isn’t so welcoming.

There’s nothing we can do to speed up the changing of seasons.

Psalm 104:19 reminds us that the Lord our God “made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”

God knows what’s going on: He set the days and nights since the beginning. He knows how things are continually evolving in your life. It’s already set in motion but He’s got it all under control. Do you believe that? Your season may be changing, whether it’s a new school, changing jobs, or getting ready to tackle parenthood. And as painful or painless as some of these seasons will be, we just don’t have the capability to fast forward or “get it over with”.

The question is: Do you trust that God’s will and way will work out in the end?

A pastor I know once pointed out that people who think of “back in the day” will often dwell too much on what happened in the past – the how and the why. They put so much effort on how things were better/worse, or simply different, without giving a second thought to what’s going on in the here and now. Athletes, scholars, your average Joe… even Christians! Maybe it’s “what church used to be like” or “how God moved so powerfully through me back then”.

But the past is the past and he said that instead of fixating on the how & why, just accept that it did and move forward. I totally agree with that today as the seasons start to change for all of us. Whatever already happened, whether it was good or bad, I pray that you’ll be able to keep maturing as you trust the days ahead into God’s hands and that all things will work for your good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Reflection Song: Christ Is

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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

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

Honesty Is The Best Policy

If we are to follow Christ then truth, honesty, and integrity are essential. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Honesty is a necessary component in following after Jesus. Conversely, dishonesty will pull us away from Him.

This past weekend we led praise at the New Life Summer Retreat, which had the theme Honesty. It was a really authentic time of worship and growth. Unlike your “conventional” retreat, there was no guest pastor to preach amazing sermons. Instead, testimonies were shared within small groups, and several were shared during the main session. We were really encouraged by these powerful stories and it was apparent how relationships were beginning to grow because of them.

Being honest with others isn’t easy in a time where we hide behind communicating through text messages, Facebook statuses, and Instagram comments. It’s so easy to mask your true self. But the testimonies shared were powerful and displayed how God has worked and is working through each and every one of us, molding us into the son or daughter He intended for us to become. What I was reminded was that honesty not only shows your character, but it also shows your faith. Throughout the Bible we are assured that it is impossible for God to lie. That’s a lot harder to say for ourselves… but with God setting the example, we ought to strive to be more true to others and to ourselves.

Proverbs 11:3 says “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

In fact, we heard many stories of struggles, difficulties, and straying from God. A lot of it was covered up by deception, lies, and even trying to fool oneself. But as soon as they shared about how the truth was discovered (or re-discovered), that because of Jesus Christ we are a new creation, the stories took a turn where lives began turning back towards God the Father!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I thought of my own testimony – of who I was and who I’ve become because of Christ. We’re all constantly changing and experiencing changes. So it is important that we never lose sight of what’s ahead so that we stay true to who we ought to be in Christ. Surround yourself with honesty, truthful people, so that you too can be more honest and open with others, yourself, and God.

Today, let’s remember to stay in the truth, speak and live the truth, and you may also be helping others around you to the Truth! Jesus, the author of eternal salvation, is the way, the truth and the life… Let’s motivate and cultivate honesty through the love He’s shown us!

Reflection Song: Only You

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

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