Hillsong Church NYC

I was home last week and I received a text from my (second?) cousin.  She asked me to go to Hillsong church with her.  I don’t believe she is a Christian so naturally I agreed.  It’ll be good for her to learn more. I’ve never been to Hillsong church before, and I was nervous about whether my style would fit at the church (I’m quite picky).

It was quite a sight to see. All attendees were tall, good looking and well dressed.  Wow.  Interesting.  As they started, a lot of yellow flags started popping up for me.  “When are they going to start talking about the cost of following Jesus?” I thought. “When are we going to do exegetical analysis on scripture?” They do tend to focus on God’s love and grace more than I would prefer.  And during worship (their musical talent is immaculate), everyone was raising their hands and shouting praises.  Uh oh - maybe too many emotions?

The church is too hip and cool for me.  And maybe a ton of people who were shouting Jesus’ name didn’t own Bibles (they didn’t).  Maybe I didn’t get much out of it because I’m much more mature than most of the congregation was.  Maybe they do like NIV and NLT more than NASB and Greek/Hebrew transliterations.  But at one point, I realized, it doesn’t matter that these people aren’t as deep and grounded in Christ as they should be.  Lord willing, they’ll get there. And you know why?  Because they are there praising God, and shouting his name, and singing their hearts out because at least in that moment, nothing else really mattered to them, their hearts were on God.

And that makes it all ok.

Welcome to the body, newcomers.

"We have all come selfishly to Christ before. Coming to Jesus means looking at him as a comprehensive Savior rather than just as another Mr. Fix-It."

— Heath Lambert (Finally Free)

the wheels stopped turning

Immediately after I disembarked from my wonderful journey, I was reminded of the harsh reality that is the world, a world that needs more God in it.  

I had to throw out the remainder of the XL root beer. As I crossed the street, I saw a presumably homeless man sitting by the sidewalk with his simple cardboard sign.  Maybe he had not eaten in a few days. Maybe he had a beard because he couldn’t shave.  Maybe he was thirsty, and could have used that drink I just disposed.  Yet, because my family was waiting for me, I could not go to him, because that would be unloving to my family, who I am called to love even more.  

It took us an entire hour to decide what to eat, and one dish we got as $22.  We have luxury of choice and freedom to spend.  I did nothing to deserve this. I was merely born into a good environment.  I reap the benefits. Some people out there have it hard and are working hard, but not me.  

The next day, we spent our entire afternoon at an outlet mall. My dad said in the business world, it is absolutely necessary for me to get an expensive suit/shoes.  I have 3 $200 suits, which I like, but they are not good enough. I had just gotten these new $50 shoes that I love.  My dad said an $1000 suit is well worth it. So are $200 shoes. I walked around the outlet mall, lamenting the whole time…how many people can that $1000 feed? How many new pairs of socks and shoes can it provide to those who genuinely need it?  Here I am, looking for an expensive suit in Brooks Brothers, when I don’t really need it.  We didn’t buy anything that day, nothing was “good enough quality.” It was already dark when we got home.  Some poor people spent their entire Sundays working, but nah we just chilled looking for high class stuff. I can easily see how luxury and comfort are the opposite of what we’re looking for when we view the gospel.  

I’m still waiting on the $1000 suit.  My dad and I argue about it. I don’t want it. I can see this attitude consume me as I ponder my future job prospects.

Do I begrudgingly submit or do I fight for those who don’t have a voice or a chance?

"Though I defy him, the Maker of the universe, He still gives me breath, food, shelter, and countless other gifts."
"Contrary to what it may seem sometimes, it is sin that is the harsh master. It is God who is the humble servant. Make no mistake when you think you are capable of controlling sin."

the wheels on the bus go round and round

I normally dislike long rides, mostly due to the fact that I can’t fall asleep in a sitting up position. Thus, I was not so gung ho about taking the 8 hour trip home in a 3 x 3 enclosed space.  So before I embarked, I thought about how I could make this trip worthwhile, to which the answer was, make it about God.  Lately, I’ve been losing my touch with God.  Our relationship is by no means bad, in fact, it’s been quite good.  I’ve been seeing his blessings everywhere, but after reading Crazy Love, I have made the decision to fall in love with God once again.  

One thing I realize I don’t too much is pray.  It’s difficult to have a bountiful prayer life when you don’t believe in the power of supplicating prayer. That’s a story for later. All I know is that I haven’t really really prayed hard in a long time, maybe a couple of months, so that’ll be on my list of bus activities. I didn’t think too much further though, because I wanted it to be Spirit led, so I planned nothing further.

What a marvelous bus ride it was! I spent the first four hours listening to praise music and staring at the window at God’s creation, the trees and the cloudy sky.  It was beautiful and sunny. At some points, the music really spoke to me, such that I was mouthing the words along and air drumming (I don’t play drums?).  I also was smiling like a goofy idiot (I don’t smile) because I was so joyful (maybe even happy?) that I couldn’t contain myself. If nearby people would have paid attention, they would have thought I was some kind of weirdo (they’d be right).  It’s also nice listening to my non-regular playlist for once.

After that, I decided to start my prayer journey. What naturally comes to mind when I pray?  I prayed for two hours straight! Some might think this is a lot, some might think this is a little, but most people can’t say they pray for two hours straight.  I don’t say that out of pride, it’s just we’re usually too busy with our lives that we put it on the back burner. It’s a real blessing to see that “wow, God has given me two whole hours worth of things to pray for. These are all the things that are close to my heart, that are impacting my life, and I get to take Jesus’ place in asking for and appreciating them! That’s crazy!”  I am a speck in the cosmos, yet these are the things that are part of my life, and I got the joy of praying about them. Real.

For the last hour of my time, I read this book on sexual sin that Luther gave me.  It’s wonderful. And even though the cover of the book was loud and clear, I didn’t care what those around me thought, because I was getting the wisdom of God, and nothing was going to stop me.  And just like the people were in Acts, I was cut to the heart about some of the things addressed in the book. They convicted me about my sin and pointed me towards the cross of Jesus Christ.

I don’t think words could possibly encompass the amount of God I experienced.  It was the best bus ride of my entire life, and an eight hours well spent. Hopefully, I get this again.

Even though we’re sojourners, just passing through the earth, maybe God provides us with someone to stay with for a while…

Even though we’re sojourners, just passing through the earth, maybe God provides us with someone to stay with for a while…

Family values win one more.

"Nails didn’t keep Jesus on the cross. Love did."

One of the things emotions are acceptable and beneficial in is dance.  I’m glad that I have found a love for dance, and if I could, I’d try out different styles, particularly ballroom.  A partner dance requires confidence, trust and vulnerability.  It is impossible to succeed on one’s own, and two parts of a puzzle come together to form a beautiful work of art.  Amazing.

Though ballroom dancing is not always done with a romantic partner, I think it represents a romantic relationship quite well.  There are ups and downs, circles and patterns, passion and intensity, and smoothing calmness.  It requires walls and barriers to come down, and fosters intimacy that otherwise wouldn’t be there.  If something is off, the flow, the atmosphere, the body language, it will be known, and must be resolved in order to function properly.  From a biblical perspective, the gentleman is responsible for initiating and leading the dance.  Yet he must be gentle and willing to work with the lady.

I don’t believe in dating.  I believe in courtship, with marriage as the intention from the start.  That may present the problem of “how to get to know the other person”, but the way I see it, move towards God as fast as you can.  If you go towards God and he/she goes towards God, you’ll inevitably get closer to each other.  If you run as fast as you can towards God, and you see someone who is keeping pace, walk up, introduce yourself, and ask..

"May I have this dance, please?"

She took my chocolate bar!

- Jun Hee from Heartstrings

Jun Hee is madly in love with this one beezy chick, and he goes to lengths to make her happy, bringing her food, giving her rides home, and showing her a good time when she cant’ relax.  

In one instance, she was hungry and he offered her a chocolate bar, which she reluctantly accepts.  She immediately leaves because she is ashamed of eating it while on a diet.  Jun Hee rejoices because she has accepted his chocolate bar.  He is so in love with her that giving her the chocolate bar and the act of her accepting it makes him happy.

I hope to be able to pay such close attention to my future wife, that even the small things she does for me will make me happy.  I think many couples settle into a routine in which the relationship gets stale, but the small things happen every day and if it can bring Jun Hee this much happiness, maybe it’s worth a shot.

PLUS LOOK AT HIM HE’S SO CUTE.

On Friday, lust was hitting me super hard - one time in the morning, one time in the evening.  And though it is only a small success, I prayed for deliverance and was able to fight both of them off. I replaced it with a Matt Chandler sermon about shame and guilt.

I am far from where I need to be, and it pains me how in my failure, God’s heart is breaking and my future spouse’s heart is breaking, but I think it is important to rejoice in even the smallest of victories, because even they are a gift from God.

"What could possibly compel someone to stand before thousands and tell them who they were when they were at their absolute worst? It’s crazy…where does that confidence come from? And it is God’s love that drives out that shame in us, so that we can let others in, and allow fellowship of the body of Christ."

b

inspired by Matt Chandler

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Winnie The Pooh