Asking for prayer for an upcoming project. I had the honor of being a part of a book project on justice with my colleague Thaddeus Williams called Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth. This past weekend, we finished up filming the upcoming video course version of the book by Zondervan. One thing I've learned in these years of pursuing justice is that whenever we seek justice or create tools for the Church to engage it, a lot of spiritual warfare comes with it. So please pray for anointing on this project, protection for all those involved, and that this tool will be used by God to equip the Church further in becoming a gospel-centered, justice pursuing people of faith. Thank you.
I'm excited to announce the launch of a book I had the honor of being a part of. I had the privilege of collaborating with my colleague at Talbot, Thaddeus Williams, on an important book on justice called Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. It's a tool that will help the Church look at social justice issues through the lens of the gospel. A pertinent topic for our times and just in time for your holiday shopping :)
I was honored to have my book, Praying for Your Missionary, as a featured resource by the Center for Advancing Healthcare Missions during their most recent podcast concerning advancing healthcare missions around the world. Because of Covid, missions and especially healthcare missions work are facing challenges like never before. Thus, they need our prayers like never before. Let's continue to increase our prayers for the nations and those who are serving the nations.
In God's sovereignty we may suffer, but in His goodness, at the right time ... He will restore. (Psalm 71:20)
Great news! Talbot MA’s now qualify for the DMin program! Due to a recent change by our accrediting body, ATS, we are now able to consider all seminary MA's for admission into the Doctor of Ministry program without any additional classes. If you or someone you know has wanted to get a DMin degree but did not have an MDiv, now is the time to apply! Here are several exciting DMin specialty track options coming up in 2021:
Spiritual Formation and Soul Care led by Dr. John Coe
Advanced Biblical Preaching led by Dr. Don Sunukjian
Asian American Ministry led by Dr. Benjamin Shin
Growing & Multiplying Churches led by Dr. McIntosh and Dr. McMahan
Heart, Mind, & Soul led by Dr. Sunukjian, Dr. Porter, and Dr. Ganssle
Ministry Skills led by Dr. Ben Shin, Dr. Bill Hull, and Dr. Don Sunukjian
The application deadline is November 1, 2020.
Please let us know if you would like more information about any of these. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at (562) 944-0351, ext. 3233 or book an appointment.
Almost half of my 25 years in pastoral ministry were spent in South Korea. When I first went there, out of total obedience to God, I couldn’t speak the language, wasn’t the most culturally literate Korean-American out there, and my closest friends were genuinely worried about how I would survive my first month there. But God, in His sense of humor, kept me there far longer than I would’ve ever imagined, and changed me ways I would’ve never dreamed. Because I was pastoring an international congregation, I didn’t really have a heart for native Koreans. I figured there were plenty of mega-churches to go around to reach out to Koreans. I was there for the expat community. But in 2011, God opened my eyes to many vulnerable groups in Korea that were often overlooked by society and even in the church. So as a church, we began caring for those trafficked, orphans, single moms, and refugees. I began to understand why God repeatedly declares to care for the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner throughout Scripture (Isaiah 1:17). I began to know our God who loves justice (Isaiah 61:8). As I met more people who were outcasts to society and were considered culturally “taboo”, God started to change my heart and I began falling in love with the Korean people.
One area that was particularly challenging to discuss in Korea was the issue of sex trafficking. There are so many topics concerning this issue that Koreans don’t discuss - sex, trafficking, sex outside of marriage, adultery, red-light districts … just to name a few. Other challenges I faced were the lies that most people believed about this issue. Most Koreans believed that women in that industry: 1) chose to do it, 2) enjoyed doing it, and 3) made a lot of money doing it. So they were never viewed as victims. I wanted to find a way to dispel those misconceptions. After much prayer, God put on my heart to make a documentary about sex trafficking in Korea, specifically to address those lies and to put a face to the victims in that nation. Currently there are still over 1 million women and children in Korea forced into some form of sexual servitude. I wanted to tell their stories and to see change so that hearts would begin caring for them - especially in the church.
My team and I began interviewing hundreds of women and girls who were rescued from trafficking and prayerfully sought God’s wisdom to best craft their story. One of the reasons why I believe God led us to make a film on this issue was because film can be such a powerful tool of communicating a story. And while people may not read a book, they are more likely to watch a film. Thus, Save My Seoul was born. Many people asked me why a pastor would make a documentary, especially on the topic of human trafficking. But I never thought of it as strange, because as a preacher, we are in the business of communicating God’s truth, grace, and the gospel in a way for others to understand better. This film became my “sermon” to challenge the church to have eyes opened and hearts moved to begin living out the gospel in our community. The film became my sermon to call the city on a hill to shine in places of darkness. I was able to reach people with this message of justice through this film that would have never been reached otherwise. I saw God honor this step of faith and obedience as He changed minds, hearts, and attitudes through Save My Seoul. And a pleasant surprise was having the film win “Best Documentary” at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles after its release. I saw firsthand what a powerful ministry tool film can be.
I’m excited for the future of film and the arts being used more in ministry and as a means of declaring the gospel in creative ways. I’m also excited for the future of Biola’s School of Cinema and Media Arts that will equip believers with skills, expertise, and experience to use this platform to expand the Kingdom of God. Biola was already listed as one of the top film schools in the world by industry leaders such as Variety. And it will enter new heights under the leadership of its new and founding dean, Tom Halleen. Tom spent 30 years in television and was a key member in the launch of groundbreaking shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead. Many of my friends and I have been praying for a revival in Hollywood and I believe God is moving in powerful ways to transform this industry to be one that shines the light and love of Christ in many creative means. Pray that the seeds of passion in people’s hearts for film and media arts would reap a mighty harvest of righteousness and honor to God - from churches to Hollywood to the ends of the earth.
Note: You can watch Save My Seoul on Amazon Prime and in iTunes.
I was in shock, I was saddened, and I had deep joy as I heard JI Packer went home today. His writings and teachings were formative to my spiritual journey, beginning in my highschool and college years. His book Knowing God was a big reason I chose to study at Regent College for my MDiv degree. Each time I saw him in class, each time I heard a lecture, each time I saw his photo, each time I read his books, I wanted to love Jesus more and I wanted to live faithfully like him. What a privilege it was to sit in his class. And one of the greatest honors of my life was to read the words of his endorsement to my first book, Justice Awakening. We lost a mighty giant of the Christian faith today, but I have deep joy knowing that he is finally home and entered his everlasting rest. Multitudes welcomed him, the angels rejoiced, and Jesus embraced him declaring, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s happiness.” You fought the good fight. You kept the faith. You finished your race. I hear your voice echoed through the words of Paul: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Thank you, Dr. Packer. Your life changed the course of my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I honor you. I miss you. And I look forward to the day when I will see you again … when we’re all finally home.
We are witnessing an incredible season of people rising up in the pursuit of justice like we've never seen in our lifetime. With this movement, it is all the more important that our motives and methods are grounded in the Word of God and the gospel. We desire to be a people who both declare and demonstrate the gospel in our lives.
I just found out today that my publisher has put the Kindle version of my book Justice Awakening on sale for $3.99 until June 24 (next Wednesday).
If you haven't done so already, I'd encourage you to especially read chapters 1 and 2 from my book to give you a solid biblical basis for why we seek justice in our world. Chapter 1 covers a brief overview of justice in the Bible and looks at how passionate this issue is to God's heart and His Kingdom. And chapter 2 explores the question of, "Where is the justice of God?" when it seems so much injustice surrounds us. God does have an answer and God does have a plan. There are also discussion questions and prayer points at the end of each chapter to aid in small group studies of the book as well.
Let us continue to prayerfully, humbly, and courageously seek first His Kingdom and His justice in our world today.
Thank you always for your support. Sending this with prayer for you.
Justice Awakening $3.99 (Until June 24)
How Do We Respond to the Crisis of this Hour?
There is so much pain. There are so many hurting in this hour. There are so many emotions. Anger. Sadness. Fear. Worry. There is so much uncertainty. We are grieving now over the loss of many who have died unjustly at the hands of people who were called upon to serve and to protect. The murder of George Floyd has opened up a gaping wound for a people that have been oppressed under the yoke of injustice for decades. It is not the Land of the Free for some of our citizens. The American Dream has become a nightmare for too many of African-American brothers and sisters. We are a nation that is deeply hurting. And we are a nation in crisis. On top of all that, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic.
So how do we respond as the Body of Christ to this current crisis? What can we do? It can seem overwhelming, but there are some steps we can take that will help our own hearts as well as move us in the right direction.
Here are some steps we can take:
Vent our Emotions to the Lord
The first thing we must do is be honest with all the raw emotions that are flooding our minds and our hearts as we go through these intense times. Pour out your heart to the Lord in prayer. The psalmists cry out, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide your face in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Are you angry? Vent that rage to the Lord. Are you worried? Pour out your fears to our Father in heaven. He can handle all your honest emotions. We must learn to pray our pain to the Lord and pray through pain as we hope.
Lament the Loss and Brokenness of our World
We have lost so much these past few months in our world. We have seen hundreds of thousands die through the pandemic. We have seen far too many of our black brothers and sisters die at the hands of those who should have protected them. Millions have lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost dreams, and lost hope. It is a season to lament over these losses - some of which we will never have in our lives again. We will never be the same, and it is healthy for our souls and right to grieve over these losses. We lament over the cities in America crying out in pain. We cry out with the prophet Habakkuk, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Be real with how you feel, and let those feelings turn into prayers.
Repent of Sins - Past and Present, Corporate and Personal
What we are seeing in the news each day is a result of the sins of this nation that has oppressed its people for decades. Before we point the finger at anyone else, we need to begin by repenting of our own sins that have played a role to these injustices. Be it by our actions, our attitude, or our apathy, we must repent of the sin of racism - in our hearts and in our land. We must repent of our sins of not loving our neighbors as ourselves. We must repent of not caring for the poor, the oppressed, or the vulnerable in our communities. God commands His people to “seek justice and correct oppression.” (Isaiah 1:17) God, have mercy on us and forgive us, as a nation, as Your Church, and as a child of God - for sins committed against our neighbors in the past and that continues even today. Spend time before the Lord, honestly, and ask, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Turn away from past sins and apathy, and turn to the Lord as we love our neighbors. Have a time of personal and corporate repentance (as a church) in the coming days as we pray for America.
Circumvent Apathy by Taking Action
We must no longer allow apathy to be a part of our lives when it comes to justice for our black brother and sister. We must move beyond awareness of issues. Awareness is a good place to start, but what I have seen too often is that awareness without action leads to apathy. So we must move into action and let our faith manifest deeds. There are many things we can do, and while not everyone will have the same role, each of us does have a role to play in bringing change for a better tomorrow. Some practical next steps can be to:
Cement Your Hope in Christ
All the pain we are witnessing around us today is a clear sign that this world is fallen and broken because of sin and that we are in need of a Savior. It is also a reminder that our hope should not be in this temporary life we are in, but rather, in Christ who is King and in His Kingdom that is coming. Therefore, in this fallen world that is looking for hope, let us hold out the hope of the gospel to a watching world. Let us share the good news of Jesus - that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins, and that whoever would trust in Him, would receive everlasting life. Only the gospel can change the sinful heart and make it new again. Let us live out the gospel. “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and give glory to the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We need to see the Church living out the gospel now more than ever before. Fast and pray for this nation and for Christ’s return. Let's continue to cover our nation and our generation in prayer. Pray for salvation and revival to uproot racism from people's hearts. Pray that America would to bow to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This crisis is a cry for the Church to repent and pray and turn to the Lord.
Jesus is still on the Throne. He rules and reigns over all the cities and nations of this world. He is sovereign and He is good. And He will one day restore all things as they should. He is coming back one day soon to take all who trust in Him to reign with Him in His eternal Kingdom - a Kingdom where peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation will bow before Him as King. Until that day, let us stay busy doing His work of righteousness and justice as we love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
There are many great books to read on these issues, but here are some I can recommend to start with:
How Should We Think About Death?
With the Covid-19 pandemic now reaching over 340,000 deaths worldwide, and 100,000 deaths in the US alone, there is great mourning all around us. On top of these losses, we have also seen the passing of many well known and dearly beloved public figures in recent days - from pastors and teachers, to athletes and actors. We will also be honoring those who gave up their lives defending our country on Memorial Day. It seems everyday, we are reminded of the reality of death in the news. It is something we can no longer comfortably ignore - and it is something we never should have ignored. Most people aren’t comfortable thinking of death, yet it is one of the few things in life that is certain. And it is the one appointment we will not be late for. Instead of ignoring this reality, there are many important lessons we can learn about death. Here are some reflections on death that is worthy of our reflection.
Death is a picture. Physical death is a picture of the power of sin that can destroy a life. Death is a reminder that life is short. Life is fragile. And life is fallen. Therefore we need a savior. And we need to be reminded of this time and time again, so we don’t get blinded by the lull of this world that tries to keep us from thinking about the eternal significance of our choices. There are many kinds of death in our world. There is the death of a friendship or a relationship that can feel just as painful as a physical loss of a friend. There is the death of a dream or a death or a job (which many have experienced during this pandemic too).
Death is to be mourned. Toward the end of his life Rich Mullins said, “I think we cry at funerals—even at funerals of people we don't like—because we realize what a miracle a life is. You realize, ‘This will never happen again.’ There will never be this exact combination of genes, there will never again be the things that have created this person to be what he is. God has spoken uniquely here, and it's gone. It's over. And I think there's some regret, because we all realize, boy, we didn't pay enough attention.”
Death must be prepared for. Jonathan Edwards had as one of his life resolutions to focus on this topic: #9: Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. He resolved in his life to think as much as he could about his own death so that he would be ready to die, then he would be ready to live properly now. Only when you’re ready to die, are truly ready to live in this world. If you’re not ready to die, you’re not really living. Because if you’re not ready to die, you’re going to be living for the wrong things. We must remember that our spiritual status is sealed forever at death. Those who have repented and turned to Christ: you are sealed and secure forever. Those who have rejected Christ and hardened your heart towards Him: you will be sealed and condemned. We will be in an unchangeable state from that moment on: either forever a saint or forever a sinner.
Death is a doorway to our eternal dwelling. But in Christ, the doorway to destruction has now turned into the gateway to glory for the people of God! Death, which is the last enemy, is now Christ’s servant. Death serves as a servant to Jesus - bringing God’s children home. Are you ready? Let’s live ready - ready to walk through the gateway to glory.
[These reflections are portions of a sermon entitled “Lessons on Death”. To hear the sermon in its entirety, click here]
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace."
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