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Passion Weeek Reflection

Written by Hyan Kim   March 25, 2016

“Asking the Question, but Avoiding the Answer”
Key Verse: Matt 22:42

"What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?"

After facing a barrage of pointless questioning from the Jewish leaders, this was the final question Jesus asked, and the question which remained unanswered by his bitterest critics. Their silence was deafening. I felt his timeless question, also asking me again, Hyan, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?"

After reading through the Passion Week reading, and especially Monday’s passages, this verse in Matthew 22:42, leapt off the page.

But before I go there, I admit I initially chose to reflect upon Monday’s passages because I too found myself at the end of an ongoing conversation with my coworker who also happens to be a Jewish atheist (sounds like an oxymoron, but I tell you the Pharisees were really no farther from it).

He asked me one day, similarly to the question the Jewish leaders posed in Matthew 22:34-40, “What is the hardest rule to follow as a Christian?” I thought about it for a minute, and the Greatest Commandment came to mind. I responded that there was not one specific rule or law, but the most difficult thing to do is follow God with my heart. He had many more questions for me that afternoon, and as I reflected further on it, I wondered if I answered them perfectly, would anything change?

I thought about all the questions the Jewish leaders had asked earlier in Matthew 22:
• Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
• In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be?
• Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?

The Jewish leaders had seemingly relevant questions for Jesus, they asked about the worries of this life—money, marriage and the law. But none were because they truly wanted to get to know Him better but for the evil intention of trying trap him by his words. They didn't have questions for Jesus, they were questioning Him! They questioned his identity and authority, and thus had many questions to test whether or not he could answer.

As I reflected further upon the character of the Pharisees and Sadducees I too was warned about the wrong motivation I also might have. I had spent the last two months intensely absorbing much knowledge in preparation to share the gospel with this coworker. It was easy to be a religious person, and ask and answer many questions without ever really loving God, without being personally motivated by His love and desire to know Him.
All of this confronted me personally. What do I really think about Jesus? This reminded me of the time Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

If Jesus is the very Son of God who was crucified for my sin, the very God I am to love with all my heart, soul and mind, the very God who raised the dead to life, who came to save me, how do I respond? After Jesus’ question, the Jews were silenced.

If God had revealed Himself to me, where was my response? Do I respond with a humble joyful commitment or in stony silence? According to Mark 12:37, "the great throng heard him gladly." They were looking for a Savior, but not the Jewish leaders.

The Pharisees and Sadduccees had no real desire to get to know Him, but simply ask to ask, know to know, but not change. In fact after this passage, Jesus proceeds to warn the disciples of being like them. Apostle Paul further elaborates, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:36) Knowing he was the Son of God they proceeded to mock, torture and crucify him.

I began to pray for myself-- that no matter what happened, I wanted my faith to be strengthened through this preparation process. I wanted to know Him and love Him more just as Ephesians 1:17-21 says:

17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

And God was faithful. Despite several delays, I finally met my coworker to have an extended conversation about faith this past Tuesday of Passion Week, and praise Him for preparing my heart and empowering me with His Spirit. I thanked Him for allowing me to have the privilege of being before the questions of an unbelieving world because I answered his question, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?"

Passion Week Reflection

Written by Elizabeth Choi   March 25, 2016

Day Before The Crucifixion
Passage: Matthew 26:17-29   l   Key verse: Matthew 26:26

I wanted to look into the passages for Thursday, the day before Jesus was to be nailed to the cross as I could not understand how He could remain so composed and collected in his last interactions/conversations knowing what would have to be endured in the day ahead. As I focused on Matthew 26:17-29, I was challenged by the following.

1. I partake in the Lord’s Supper because Jesus invites me to the table and I am to always take of it with a solemn and serious heart because of the cost
2. Disciples naïve heart of looking inward upon Jesus pointing out that he is to be betrayed by one of them, there was no comparison or pointing of fingers but an asking internally if they would be the one
3. Jesus is the Bread of Life, because Jesus is the Bread of Life, I choose to daily submit to his authority and am assured that I will never go hungry

Before reading into Matthew 26 and the Last Supper, I went back to Exodus 12:1-30 to see what Passover meant to the Jewish people. Passover was a moment in time when God delivered His people from enslavement and upheld His promise to deliver them. The blood of a sacrificed pure lamb on the door frames of homes was a physical marker where God’s people were and instead of bringing death, God passed over the marked homes of His people and rescued them from the hands of the Egyptians. God gave them very specific instructions in what to do and how to do it. Each detail was not to be left out and a verse I had overlooked is the direction God includes in Exodus 12:11 the manner in which they were supposed to eat the meat of the slaughtered lamb saying, “with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” God’s people were not to take the significance of being delivered lightly or loosely. This was not a time of cheerful festivities. The detail of dress and manner suggests this as a time to acknowledge God as Almighty, have a heart of readiness to receive, and in generations to come observe as a time when the mercy and providence of God were with them. Later on in the chapter in verses 24-27 God makes it clear that His people are to:
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians. Then the people bowed down and worshiped.”

So, it is with this same level of detail and direction that Jesus in the day before the crucifixion leads His disciples to observe Passover and then instructs them for what is ahead. Jesus makes it clear again in Matthew 26:18, “my appointed time is near.” He is aware that he is soon to be tried, mocked, flogged, beaten and nailed to a cross according to His Father’s will and still his direction to his disciples are clear and without hesitation. Jesus speaks with authority in every preparation detail without hesitation to His disciples and walks with purpose fulfilling God’s Word. I can only imagine what Jesus must have felt in flesh in these last interactions and conversations with His disciples, how much he must have been grieving over man’s sin and the weight of responsibility he was carrying. He knew all because God had revealed his plan to Him and through Old Testament prophecy, but there was still the reality of the physical body that had to be overcome. I have no words seeing Jesus as the Good Shepherd continue to equip the disciples to the end and reveal His power and love as he humbly submits to the Father’s will.

The Bible says in the Palm Sunday related text John 12:16, “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” The disciples still had little to no idea of what really was about to transpire but they continued to be obedient in all things Jesus commanded. In Matthew 26:18 it is also clear that there is no closed door from the man whose home Jesus says will be used in observing Passover. Like the response of the disciples and the response of the homeowner, when Jesus asks I am to obey and give all without hesitation or questioning. Being a Christian and listening to God’s Word requires that I listen to all of it and not just portions that are easy or pleasing to me. The disciples and this man did not hesitate to move and in the case of the disciples, they desired to do what was asked. In the beginning of the text it is the disciples knowing that Passover is coming ask Jesus first how they are to observe. Not only do I need to listen to God’s Word but if I claim him as Lord over my life then I will want to ask in all things how I am to do them first. I will not ask God in the middle of the process or at the end but in the beginning, from the onset. When I first claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord of my life, my heart and mind both acknowledged His supreme authority over me out of a heart of thankfulness and love. As I get distracted, I need to always remember to turn back to his Words and always ask how I am to follow Him.

Moreover, the table is prepared and in Matthew 26:20 the Bible says, “When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.” Jesus is about to share his last meal with His disciples who have been following him for three years and in this intimate setting he is calm. I am reminded in the picture of the Last Supper, that these common men who were obedient and faithful would later become the early leaders of the church and martyrs not because of their good qualities or status but because of what Jesus did through them. It was the example and love of God that changed these men from the inside out. Jesus invited them to the table and it is at the table where they were together and able to share in what was being offered. Jesus has allowed me to be in the community of the body of Christ and he does not attach me lightly but tightly. I have in the past come to the table for Lord’s Supper in somber and with a heavy heart looking only inwardly at how undeserved I am of God’s love and remembering how much I need Him each day for the forgiveness of sin, but have neglected in the process to acknowledge the cost and the reason I can come in the first place. In partaking the Lord’s Supper I must remember that a serious and solemn heart comes from a heart of worship to God. Remembering that I have life because God was willing to humble himself for me. The Lord’s Supper then does not fall into tradition but into worship. As much as I am to come being reminded of my sin that separates me from God, I am to also see how much God sacrificed to make a way that I would not be separated from him. As Jesus broke the bread and passed the wine, how agonizing it must have been of the symbolism of what was to shortly come. His physical body would be broken for the sin of man, for my sin. So, it is at the table where I see his love for me so infinite, fully unconditional. As I partake of it amongst brothers and sisters, I am humbled to find true fellowship.

“And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The evening continues and Jesus continues to share what is to come, pouring out His heart. While the disciples were more concerned with trying to figure out why Jesus would make such a claim and their motive of trying to figure out if they would be the one so as to avoid rebuke or the shame of such a claim, I can appreciate their act of looking inward first. They could have pointed fingers at who they thought it would be within the group or compare which disciple was best or worst, but they asked internally first and looked into their hearts. I should always be willing and open to look inside my heart and see where my desires/pleasures/questioning is driving me away from God and quickly turn to Him. I cannot solve anything on my own efforts, but when I take the time to look into the motives of my heart I can find where I need to repent and even more be on my knees asking God to refine me and change me. He knows all and His Word continues to show me how far my mind and my sinful nature are from His goodness and purpose for all things. So, I must walk continually in the way of His Word.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” As Jesus was showing his disciples what to do in the future, how to remember and worship, he was also re-affirming being the Bread of Life, the one who would serve and the one who would fill. In the dessert when Jesus was tempted by Satan, he answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He was emphasizing that the while the physical body is sustained by physical food, that he would be the one to sustain and support the soul by his sacrifice on the cross and the life that could be found in trusting in Him. What Jesus offered would being true satisfaction instead of temporary fulfillment. Salvation and restoration was to come at the cost of His life. This truth helped me to better understand the other passages on the day before the crucifixion, that Jesus would talk about why it was important to be connected to the Vine and that the Holy Spirit would come after as a counselor, that He would not abandon. In all the things that the disciples could have worried about later, Jesus prepared beforehand knowing all their needs. He not only gave life but paid to give life, so opposite from anything in this world or the values of this world. That is what is given to me in love when I first accepted Jesus Christ and what I daily receive when I choose Him each day. When I am in relationship with the creator and giver of life, I will never go hungry. So, in taking time to see what the Last Supper was like and the heart of Jesus, I am able to better see that Passion Week is not something I celebrate during this season but every day I walk in this life. God’s love through the sacrifice of his son Jesus on the cross gives me purpose, joy and passion to live each day praising Him and compelling me to share His Words to others.

Good Friday Reflection

Written by Lynn Lee   March 25, 2016

What Jesus Means to My Life
Passage: John 12:37-50   l   Key Verse: John 12:44-45

I decided to share on this question, “What Jesus means to my life?” because I wanted to go deeper and connect it with what I had reflected on last Christmas, “Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?”.
I know Jesus is the precious gift, the core of my faith and my source of internal peace and hope. However, as I was meditating and reading the passages, I asked myself, " Is that statement always applicable in my daily life?" "What does my act of worship look like or do I just follow traditions?"

The message of the John 12:37-50 definitely led me to see God's sovereignty and Jesus who is over all things in my life. He is worthy of my best worship even when I feel the difficulties of life are too hard to handle. By understanding the woman with the alabaster jar's devotion to Christ, I asked myself: Are my acts of devotion to the Lord like the woman who gave the expensive ointment to Jesus?

By carefully examining my personal life throughout my Christian journey so far, there were times when I withdrew from giving the Lord my wholehearted worship as my worries and doubts overtook my trust in His sovereignty. "Jesus came down to the earth and gave me his own life and is my life, and He is more precious than anything ," if this statement is so true for me, I ought to be more sensitive to the Lord and be careful of not putting myself in the position as being equal to God.

In further reading, John 12:44-45 Jesus says, "Whoever believes in me, believe not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me." I cannot know God with leaving Jesus out. The woman understood who Jesus claimed to be and she treasured the Lord through her act of devotion. She put Jesus before anything else. Thus, my mind should not just rest in thinking about myself and choosing to be independent from Him if I claim that He is my Lord. I ought not to praise the Lord on Sundays and then reject His truth as I walk out of the church into the week, but praise and worship Him each and every day.

God's Word in Colossians 1:17 also confirms, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together," which reminds me that Christ is the sustainer of all things. If He holds everything together, He can be trusted in holding me as well, in any circumstance. Therefore, my walk in Christ daily speaks to who I am and shows people who He is. I have to be conscious about my actions and my beliefs. They should match each other. Otherwise, I can be easily be deceived by Satan. Therefore, my spiritual growth relies on my full knowledge of Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him. Even in my personal trials, I should no longer ask "why," but instead ask "to whom shall I turn?" because the moment I ask why, it puts myself before Him.

Jesus says in John 14:6,"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." By fully understanding who Jesus means to my life, I see His beauty and I can rest in Him and trust in Him to meet my needs. If I do believe in Christ, I have to believe He is in control, which is also my lifetime challenge. Just like people would say, "I must have something always", I must have Jesus Christ all the time. If Christ is more precious than anything in my life, I must submit to His Lordship entirely and I won't trade or compromise my faith for my fleshly desires. There is only one Lord and He is worth my whole life.

Church 2nd Anniversary Reflection

Written by Jeff Lee   March 13, 2016

Hello everyone. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jeff Lee and I have been a Christian for about two years, and so what a blessing it is to be able to be here on this special day where we are celebrating this church’s two year anniversary. For me, it is so special and significant because my entire spiritual journey has been unfolding within the context of this church plant. I thank God for each one of you and I thank God for giving us this day to gather as one family in Christ to worship Him. I also want to thank the church leaders for giving me the opportunity to come up here to share how God has been working in my life and how He has grown me. Specifically, there are three things I’d like to share. The first is my love for the Bible. The second is my awe in what can happen as result of simply sharing my faith with others. And the third is my love for the church.

So… going back to the first thing. When I first became a Christian about 2.5 years ago, I had difficulty comprehending scripture and it was also unnatural for me to open the Bible and to read it as the first order of the day, everyday. But, now, reading the Bible everyday has become so much more rewarding than ever before, and I even find it a joy to do it in the morning. This is all because of the encouragement I received from some of you in this room, my decision to follow the MasterLife advice to “be persistent until you are consistent”, and, last but certainly not least, the Holy Spirit working in my life. I recall 2 Timothy 3:16-17, that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This means the Word of God (all of it) is useful in equipping me for every good work. Every good work. In any given day, I might need to make something like 35,000 decisions. So, I need to keep God’s Word in my heart so that I might not sin against Him, and I need to draw more wisdom from His Word every day, in order to make the right choices in my life. But, when I fail (and I will fail), it is yet again God’s Word that provides me with the comfort and the grace that make life tolerable. For example, even though I mourn my failures and my transgressions against God, I will never be in total despair because in Ecclesiastes 7:20, it says that “There is certainly no righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” and in Romans 3:23 it says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God’s Word comforts me because it reminds me that we’re all just sinners saved by God’s grace alone and we just do our best to be faithful and to be conformed to the perfect image of our Lord Jesus Christ one day at a time. Part of being faithful means being open about our beliefs and actively sharing them with the people we encounter in our daily lives.

I’m amazed and in awe of what can happen as a result of simply sharing about my faith with others. I’ll give an example that has to do with one of my customers from work. I have a customer who bought a couple guitars from me, the most recent one being a commissioned build, which meant a lot of communication back and forth regarding his custom guitar. Through our conversations, I picked up on the fact that he was in a wheelchair permanently due to an accident, he is a single father, many things weren't going his way, and it seemed to me that playing and purchasing guitars was one of his ways of making it through each day. I couldn’t relate to my customer and what he was going through, but I knew that if I were in his position, that it’d be Christ that would help me to make it through every situation, and not a guitar, or anything else but Christ for that matter. I think the apostle Paul says it best in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I felt I had to share with my customer what I put my hope and contentment in, and what strengthens me, and that’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God. So I told him. There was an uncomfortable silence, but, eventually, he said to me, “Wow, Jeff, I wish I had faith like you. I used to go to church, but I stopped going after the accident… and it’s kind of depressing.” At that moment, I was led by the Holy Spirit and I asked him if I could pray for him and he accepted. I prayed for him right then and there, out loud so he could hear - I prayed for him to get back in touch with his church, to get back into reading the scriptures, and for God to help him with his unbelief. Since then, I know he has gotten back in touch with his pastor, and I still keep in touch with him, and I still pray for him. I really hope he gets plugged back into his local church because I know first hand how important a role the church plays in helping people focus on the most important things in life.

As a lover of truth and a skeptic by nature, I am glad to say that I’m increasingly thankful for, and committed to being a member of this church because I know Christ is the head of this church and His Word is the final authority in this place. There are plenty of churches one could attend besides this one. Many of them might be much easier for me to just attend. But, Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him. Quite the opposite. In Mark 10:21, Jesus says, “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow Me.” In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” In Matthew 4:19, “He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” None of this is easy. None of this is what I expected. But, all of this is what I gladly embrace because I know it’s what the Lord commands.
Moving forward from here, I know what must be done. God’s will must be done. So I will continue to pray that He reveals His will to me, so I can be aligned with His spirit.

For to Him is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Thank you.

Merry Christmas

Written by Lynn Lee   December 24, 2015

2015 Christmas Reflection

I had never understood how wonderful Christmas was until I came to Jesus Christ. Yes, I still remember very well the time when I came to the Lord. In the Christmas season of 2013, the Lord knocked on the door of my heart to present the most perfect Christmas gift. From that point on, my life has radically changed as I unwrapped the gift, the perfect present - Christ Jesus. I thought I could do good things without having faith in Christ and still be saved, but in the moment of opening the gift I realized that I can only be saved through my faith in Christ by God's grace. Thus, Christ's birth is indeed God's perfect gift to me so that I can now have spiritual life and know that the core of my faith is Jesus Christ, who is my source of internal peace and hope.

Looking back at the past year of my Christian journey, the greatest thing that the Lord has taught me through His Word in 2 Corinthians 5:7 is that as a Christian, I walk by faith not by sight. The race of the Christian life is definitely not a straight path, and this is how I have experienced it after finishing my graduate school until now. Let me explain, I have been running through a lot of hills, and each hill requires me to depend on and trust in Him even more. When I grow weary and get tired, God's word in Isaiah 40:31 brings me a great deal of encouragement. It says, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary." When running on the hills, a lot of the time, I would wonder what God's purpose was for me and would just want to find a shortcut. But understanding what God has promised me through Jesus - that everything will work together for good if I love Him with all my heart, mind, and soul, I realized that the one clear goal for my life is that God has given me is to have the Christ-centered life, which is me spiritually living as a Christ follower. And the struggling while running on those hills is necessary in order to strengthen my faith and let God work on shaping my character to be like Christ. Thus, without going through the hardships I could have never understood the strength of Jesus Christ, and the all things that I have been taught…which only make sense by the birth of Christ Jesus. If Christ did not come, my life is heading to nowhere. Thankfully, by God's grace, Christ's sacrifice gives me a clear purpose for my life, and it can be only achieved by obeying and putting my faith in Jesus Christ.

In light of what God has been working in my life for this past year, and meeting my needs, as I run the hills in my life and wait for God to guide my future path, my dependence on the Lord continually plays an important role in knowing His will. Because Christ bridges my relationship with God, I understand that as I delight myself in Christ and sow in the Spirit through His word, I can have peace and rest in Christ during my waiting time, which the Lord says, He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). This is how wonderful Christmas is for me that God keeps His promise, and Christ Jesus is His promise.

Christ not only repairs and deepens my relationship with the Father, but also teaches me how to live out my faith and in the light. Without Christ there would be no Christmas; what's more, I would have no hope and eternal destiny. Therefore, in this Christmas season, the awesome gift that I can give to Christ is to pour out my heart fully to Him. I strive to devote my whole life to Him, and see what God will accomplish through me in the coming new year. Even though I understand that this time I may have to climb over the valley more than just running over a hill, I expect to rely on Him to carry me through because Christ is Emmanuel - God with us. The Lord is involved in every situation of my life. Even when I am suffering, He will help me see through His character.

My Reflection on Serving in the Body

Written by Hannah Kwon   November 18, 2015

Our church’s purpose and mission is to help each person who comes to our church to become a follower of Christ, to fully know the love of God and experience Him as He works through them to accomplish His kingdom work.

Serving in ministries, not just this past year, but for the first time in my life, has shaped my walk with God in a way I could have not seen for myself when I committed my life to Christ.

Being a go-getter, I am naturally a person who likes to take on many tasks, not always knowing the purpose of it or having a reason in doing so. I am always so quick to do any work, including the Lord’s work, but I did not always let Him work through me. I would catch myself at times when I’d use my own strength and effort and seek self-gratification. The passage from John 15:5 has helped me to stop and think where the strength should be coming from and who the praise should be going to. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Being in God’s Word has inevitably changed the condition of my heart and mindset. Fellowship has been a big theme for me this year. I realized that being in fellowship with God is such an important factor in creating good fellowship within the ministry, another being in one Spirit through prayer. Through lots of planning and organization, it can be easy to get caught up in the logistics and find my motivation in the results and not the process. The end results may be important, but to see them without a Christ-centered understanding would lead me to draw the wrong conclusion. For example, in an event where many people attended or participated, I could have thought I did something good and meaningful, but if it was motivated by the wrong purpose or the planning was done in a way that it brought glory to a person rather than God, it may have not been fruitful. This is why I have learned how important it is to spend time with the Lord personally, before serving one another and the lost, to truly understand how God is leading the ministry. Through His work, I learned in order to produce a Spirit-led obedience I need to love God first so that the obedience will bear fruit. I have come to know that God doesn’t need me to do His work, but He chooses to involve me in His activity, so that He can work through me and the body as whole, to experience the fullness of Christ.

Serving in Administration and Fellowship ministries has helped me through different transitions God has taken me into this year; living with my spiritual sisters in East Palo Alto over the summer and now with my biological sister, and being jobless to finding a full-time job. Through accountability, placing my trust and faith in God, being bold and confident in Christ, and making relationships with those outside of my comfort zone, God has convicted me every time I was tested.

I learned through ministries and MasterLife discipleship that bearing fruit does not only mean bringing people to Christ but planting a seed is also impactful, as well as having the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Serving with others in the ministry has helped me to witness to people tangibly.

I am humbled to see people come together to build up the church. Through serving in ministries I am able to experience the fullness of Christ. As Christians we are to be a part of a body of believers, using our gifts to serve others and receive instruction from God’s Word. As a body we care for each member so that together all of the members become more complete in Christ’s love.

In looking ahead I would like to widen my heart to see all things from God’s perspective, through His eyes, and the bigger purpose in every aspect of the ministries I am serving in. This coming year in 2016 I would like to challenge myself and the church to the same five things Pastor Hoonie challenged us with earlier this year.

Cultivate our deep thirst and hunger to be in the presence of God.
Pursue God in His Word.
Strengthen our faith.
God would show us how to serve and reveal His will for us.
Pray for the lost.

Pastor’s 2015 Retreat Welcome Letter: "Walk in the Light"

Written by Pastor Hoonie Kim   September 1, 2015

Dear Avenue Baptist Church,

As I pick up my pen to write this welcome letter to you, I am reminded about how much I thank God for each and every one of you in Christ! And that is a wonderful feeling in Christ that no one on this earth can know and understand because God has blessed me with this responsibility as your pastor and servant. Moreover, I thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to spend the next precious few days in this beautiful High Sierra to be captivated by His heart through the scripture. As I write, I can already smell the aroma of pine trees, imagine waking up in the early morning to witness beautiful saturated colors, see the ground wet with the crisp dew that falls overnight and of course look forward to our hearts deeply content in fellowship with one another in Christ…

This year’s theme is about continuing to walk in His light because He is in the light (1 John 1:7). The Scripture reminds us that we find true love, joy and peace in His steps, and when we walk in the light, the Lord will guide us with His words of life! So Church, I thank the Lord for giving me His words to pray for you, His scripture to teach you, His profound message to bless you and moreover, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for giving all of us His Spirit to empower and illuminate His truth to us so that we can “walk in the light” in this world. Oh I thank the Lord for continually guiding His children to walk in the light as He is in the light.

So let’s walk in the light together as we approach this retreat with great expectations that God will empower us with His Spirit so that when we come back down from the retreat we will first bear fruit in our hearts and bear fruit for Christ as He works through us…

In Christ,

Pastor Hoonie Kim

Embracing the Journey to 40

Written by: Grace Kim   July 1, 2014

Up until a month ago, Tyrese Rivera would’ve been just another little girl...a cute little girl with a smiling face. But now she is another soul that is a part of the ABC story. Because of what God makes possible in our lives, our paths have crossed. And instead of just being able to give, and wonder if our shoebox contributions make a difference...we now know that it does and our joy has been made complete.

Let me share with you what God has done and what I really mean. For the past few years, our church has been privileged to take part in Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that sends shoebox gifts to children all over the world to share with them the tangible love of God, and the hope they can find in Him. We began with a heart to give and share the good news with children everywhere. We didn’t know exactly what God would do but our church was willing to be a part of this work, and so in 2014 we were able to send 250 shoeboxes along with resources to follow up with each child and help them learn more about God.

God placed it upon my heart to run the marathon with OCC in mind. I wanted to do more than just send shoeboxes, I wanted to help the children even after they received the shoebox gift - to give them an opportunity to join in a follow-up class called ‘The Greatest Journey’ which provided classes to learn more about the Bible and the love of God. So as I was running, and as I was entering into my forties, I decided to run for this cause and do what I could. I trained hard and asked others to partner with me in my marathon help me to celebrate this milestone not with gifts to me, but give the gift of hope to others, to these children in need. I have been so blessed in my life, and so this was just one way that I could give thanks to God for all He had done for me.

Well, the week before my marathon I found out one of the shoeboxes I had made with my daughter Mercy ended up in the hands of Tyrese, in the Philippines. Tyrese was so thankful to receive the box, and her mom wanted to personally thank us by sending the picture of how happy Tyrese was. It was just another reminder that God was at work all over the world and how we are blessed to be a part of it. I know that God is using OCC to give children all across the world a hope and a purpose for their lives. And so even before hearing from Tyrese, I had a heart to do more.

So I ran, and ran and ran my first marathon in May, and raised close to $1,200 for OCC. I can’t say that it was easy, but I can say that it was a joy to do it, and to know that I have somehow made a difference in the lives of children in the world. God took what I had and made it something beautiful and amazing. He touched the life of one little girl...we now know as Tyrese.

Heart and Sole on the Greatest Journey

Written by Hyan Kim   April 2, 2015

In our second running season, while the group had become smaller in size, the drive of these people seemed to increase. The marathon bug bit our two moms one of whom is Grace our church pastor’s wife who decided to make the run extra special and use her 40th birthday to raise funds to support the Greatest Journey, the children’s discipleship program of Samaritan’s Purse.

Morgan House

Written by: Hyan Kim   November 26, 2014

After the second rejection letter, my heart sank. We trusted that God would provide a home for Pastor Hoonie and his family, but how many rejections would it take until they would be able to settle down? God had put it in our heart to start the church somewhere in Palo Alto. Palo Alto and the broader Silicon Valley happens to be home to some of the wealthiest people, so when Irene and I tried to explain our somewhat complicated situation to our potential landlords, we received quizzical eyes and worried looks. The first impression was always good. They thought they were interviewing single working professionals only to find out they would be actually considering a family of five. There was one particular incident that stands out. I had seen an ad for a modest two bedroom condo but in an affluent neighborhood, thinking that while the space was tight perhaps the proximity to downtown would open up new avenues to relationships. After walking into the condo rental, I found the realtor sizing me up and thinking in her mind I had potential, but that impression would quickly be interrupted.

ME: I’m actually looking on behalf of my pastor’s family.
REALTOR: Oh? How many?
ME: Five.
REALTOR: Hmm. Not sure that will be enough room.
ME: So how are the neighbors like?
REALTOR: Next door to you is an editor at Sunset Magazine, above you lives an
executive from Facebook, and a Stanford professor on the other side.
ME: So are there any kids around?
ME: So our church would like to sponsor our pastor’s housing as part of his compensation. How does that work?
REALTOR: I’m not sure we do that. We would have to look into that for you.
ME: Okay that would be great.
REALTOR: Do you know we have some of the best schools in the area?
ME: That’s great! But my pastor’s family actually homeschools.
REALTOR: (Her brow was now deeply furrowed. She seemed almost insulted that we would not consider their school district.) Why would they homeschool when the schools in the area are so good?
ME: It’s their personal choice and felt the curriculum was better for their children...
REALTOR: And what religion are they?
ME: Christian.
REALTOR: We don’t discriminate. Perhaps there are better areas that may fit more of
your needs. Have you checked the listings on such and such avenue?
ME: (Smiling) I’ll keep that in mind, in the meantime I’d like to take an application, thank you.

No one was willing to accept an unknown pastor of a nameless church that was still getting off the ground. Bank account balance? Credit score? Employment history? Every checkpoint, seemed to lead to the same conclusion. Rejection. Even though our group had the heart to give, a short term injection of cash wouldn’t undo years of stretched finances. I remember feeling like I was unable to do much except pray and keep my eyes open. We even met some nice apartment managers but once they realized the church might organize gatherings at the place, they got cold feet and turned us away. Throughout the process, Pastor Hoonie’s instructions were simple- ask God to help us recognize the place that He had prepared for our house church. God was already at work in those who would usher us in. So we should go with the place that that embraced us with the widest heart; location and money were less important. We began to ignore the listings managed by rental companies and began to search for a property that was managed personally by the owner, someone who would listen to our story and open their heart to us.

About this time, Pastor Hoonie’s family wasn’t the only one in the midst of a transition. The sisters of Lakes of Grace had also just moved into a new home and I was among them. In need of a bed, I scoured Craigslist to upgrade myself from the floor. I finally thought I found something and called the owner if I could pick it up. I asked Irene to tag along.

Tucked behind Highway 101, we discovered an older vintage part of Mountain View we had never seen. The owner Eric came out of his garage, emerging from a scattered array of cardboard boxes and old toys. He was moving too. As Eric led me inside the home to show me the bed frame, I looked around and thought to myself that this living room would be perfect to host many guests. I quickly asked Eric if he owned the place and he laughed and said no, it was owned by an old Italian lady who had been renting out the home to his family for the last three years way under market value. Apparently many of his friends had heard about the great deal on the rent and asked about the place, but Eric still encouraged me to call her, and said he would put in a good word for me.

While a single family home was always the ideal setup for Pastor Hoonie’s family, we never thought we would find anything close to our budget. As I toured the home I found not two but three bedrooms! As Pastor Hoonie’s eldest, Noah was headed into his teen years, it was about time he separated from his younger sisters, and he would get his own room for the first would everyone else.

Inside I knew this it was THE place, and when I gave Irene the eye she could see it too. We eagerly shared the news with the rest of the church, and asked that God would move Marci’s heart to move ahead with our application. Two weeks later I would return with Pastor Hoonie and his family to sign the paperwork.

When we returned we entered into a cloud of dust and disarray, I was a little embarrassed to introduce Pastor Hoonie and his family into their new home with the house in this condition. Somehow on my first visit, I didn’t notice just how dirty and old this home was because its potential shone through all of it, but now I could tell the floorboards were riddled with termites, the kitchen walls were slick with grease and we even found clumps of cat hair in the vents. I also came to realize there were no appliances-- no dishwasher, washer, dryer, oven, etc. and the kitchen sink looked like it had been excavated from the 50’s. I felt a little better when I heard Eric explaining that there was a trail nearby for the kids and just how convenient it was to have Costco in their backyard. Trying hard to reassure me of their gratitude and belief that the house was right, we celebrated over tacos around the corner.

We quickly assembled a team to get the house in move-in condition and wanted to have our first worship service in the house as quickly as possible. By day we were white collar professionals by night we became laborers, on hand and knees scrubbing, sanding, wiping every inch of the home, until it literally sparkled. Painting, spackling, weeding, hosing, the list of to-do’s were endless and we were exhausted. But we still had to also organize the actual move of Pastor Hoonie’s family as well.

We slept probably three hours the night before, staying up to pack the last of the boxes in time for the U HAUL. Our wrists nearly broke under the weight of Pastor Hoonie’s library alone not to mention the fifty or so other boxes of things we shoved into our vans. Somehow we made it, and caravanned down from Emeryville, CA 94608 to 1690 Morgan Street, Mountain View, CA 94043. This would be the first time in five years that Pastor Hoonie’s family would be in the same city where they would be ministering to, let alone in the very heart of it.

It was a both a home and a church. A real house church. If life had ever been compartmentalized before, there would be no option now. The kids expressed the strange feeling of waking up and taking a few steps to the living room/sanctuary for service. Simple tasks like going to Bible study which would require a feature length film, takeout dinner and Fastrak toll were no longer necessary. Home was now the destination, no longer the point of departure.

Every member was given a key, a place that we could come freely- no appointment necessary- just as we were. Since most of us work in the Mountain View/Palo Alto area, we could now easily stop by for coffee, counseling, and for some of us free laundry. From the day we signed the paperwork, the home was always buzzing with people and activity. With the steady stream of singles and their cars lining the driveway, we were sure the neighbors were scratching their heads wondering what was going on.

Meanwhile Grace had been thinking about what we could name the place. In thinking about the location and also it being a house for all, she prayed and then she saw a sign, well right above her home. The meaning of the name Morgan means "dwelling by the sea" and this was a place where we were training to be fishers of men. Morgan House would be the location and place given to us for His glorious works.

Whenever someone hears that we planted a church, the first question tends to be, “So where is it?” When we explain that we meet in a home, most give us a confused look. We smile and share this story, and always remind ourselves that while we are thankful for His provision of a place, ultimately church is not a building, but a group of people who have committed themselves to seek and follow after God together.

Matthew 7:7-11 says, 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

As we heard in this morning’s message- prayer is petition and praise. We pleaded with God for a place and He heard our prayer, so today we give thanks. We asked, we sought and we knocked. You knocked. And you know the door is always open.

Pastor’s 2014 Retreat Welcome Letter: Building the Body of Christ

Written By: Pastor Hoonie Kim   August 28, 2014

Welcome to Avenue Baptist Church’s Annual 'Turning Point' Retreat. Welcome to our church family retreat is what I really mean… living in the Bay Area truly is a privilege and definitely a God-given blessing because on the West Coast we are able to experience the splendor of it all. From a short distance we can see the deep vast Pacific Ocean and also be surrounded by the majestic High Sierra. That means great weather, great outdoor experiences, and great food! But what really makes me thrive and love living in this great Bay Area is that God put me here with a purpose and promise!

Looking back to last year, I am overwhelmed by God’s tenacious and gracious guidance in the planting of our church. I am humbled by how God has shaped and continues to mold our church so that we can accomplish the work that He has for us. Our first Turning Point fall retreat is about “building the body of Christ.” We will first begin by laying the foundation with 1 Corinthian 13, learning about the Lord’s perspective on our Christian nature so we can begin to be molded into a 'shape' that can be used to build up the body of Christ. Second, we will focus our attention on how the early Christians built each other up through fellowship in Christ. And thirdly, I am very excited to share the vision of Avenue Baptist Church, what God has convicted and entrusted me with to lead this family for Him.

Church, let us seize this opportunity on this first Turning Point fall retreat as His builders, as those obedient to the Master Builder. Ask God to put in you a dream that can be a road map towards His purpose and a burning passion to accomplish the mission that God has commissioned to us! May our Lord move your heart in this precious time together and that we will go back home firm in our foundation and commitment to God. I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat because I have faith in God that He will do extraordinary things in and through our much so that we will be able to share as family, with many tears of joy, to the generations of Christians to come...go ABC!

In Christ,
Pastor Hoonie Kim

Church Dedication Testimony

Written by Grace Kim   March 8, 2014

Hello everyone…it is with great privilege and humility that I come to share my heart and thoughts with you today. I am not going to share with you my salvation testimony of how I came to the Lord, because it would take too much time so I will save that for another occasion, but I do want to share with you all that I have seen and heard, and the glorious grace of God that has kept me and brought me to the place where I am at today. A glimpse into my walk with God and this journey, this season of my life, this blessed avenue that God has positioned me on.
(Show visual display of journals from this past year….after Cornerstone transition time until now.)
Like many seasons in my life, it begins with a new journal, and a prayer to go with it….right around the time of our transition out of our previous church and into the renewed commitment of doing God’s work that He had called us to do…even if I had no idea what that meant or where we would be…
I had to trust in the vision and heart that God had given to my husband and enter into something that I had never known, starting a church, or as we call it church planting. With the measure of faith that I had, I prayed in this way:
Lord, let the words I write in this journal bring me to a closer understanding of your heart, and may its words be expressions of your truth. May I draw near to You while you may be found. That I may seek you with all of my heart as I am passing through….may your Words bring times of refreshing and joy. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
Well, as God would have it…as we were praying for our hearts to be ready and about our living situation (which had always been a concern) this was the devotional that came from God:
In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33
If I wanted to live for God, follow after Christ, it would require everything of me, of us. I knew that but this time tested us even more…I had to depend even more on my faith in God to sustain me. Even my husband, Pastor Hoonie could not comfort me or bring me peace on it. I had to go through it on my own. And the more I sat in the truth of it, I realized that it cost God everything, it cost Him His Son, infringement upon His holiness, unconditional love towards us, and He asks no more or no less of us but exactly the same. We are asked to do and to live as Christ did. I had forgotten something important in the midst of it though, and so of course there were times I got discouraged and failed….I had forgotten that Christ did not do it alone, He had the love and support of the Father. I was not doing it alone, I had the love and support of the Father, and the Spirit to guide me. God was faithful to the measure that I was faithful.
So the days of gearing up and spurring one another on towards God’s good, and the anticipation of what lied ahead came next. It was unchartered territory for those who came with us, the majority of who you see here today, the ones who chose to come with us. The first major thing on our list was housing, getting us closer to the area where we wanted to minister to the hearts of people and ultimately to reach out to the Stanford campus. And with every new challenge comes prayer and waiting….sometimes more then other times…at least in my own mind. All the praying finally resulted in an answer, a place had been found, and in the most unlikely way. Through relationship and through a need, God supplied one need, a bed to rest on, and through it met another need, a resting place for us. This is where I direct you to talk with Hyan if you have not already heard her share about how we came to enter into Morgan House….
As we were praying about a new place to live, I felt anxious and a little nervous inside, and God who knows me (how literal I can sometimes be) and loves me so much gave me these words to dwell on: The words of Paul to the people of the city of Athens, a city full of idols and false teaching….
23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[a] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Acts 17:23-28
The God of the heavens and the earth was reassuring me…He was granting me a promise to keep me in the boundaries of His love and a hope. It was a spiritual thing…and by His spirit He was connecting the dots for me, to see His greater picture, how He wanted it to look, not my poor version of it. We moved into Morgan House on May 11, 2013, Mother’s Day weekend. The best mother’s day gift thus far. J and we began the habit of meeting daily starting the following week. Don’t get me wrong, it was not all easy and move-in ready….so much sweat, toil and even blood went into the making of the Morgan House that you see today. God kept us faithful to the work, beautifying and sanctifying His place of worship, where the hearts of those who love Him would gather. God was faithful to the measure that we were faithful…
And through the work of the home, came a working out of our faith…a small glimpse into what the fellowship of believers like in Acts chapter 2 really looks like in real life, real time, And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Acts 2:42, 46,47
And thus, came to be Morgan House…in it we have moved and lived and had our being…I have matured so much through the spiritual lessons of this physical house. Tangible gift of God’s grace and love. So with this new place we wanted to call it something…The meaning behind the name ‘Morgan House’ is twofold. One we wanted to give it a name since it was to be the common meeting place, and two with the name reveal its purpose. As I looked for different names and ideas…I researched the meaning behind the name Morgan…the Celtic meaning is ‘one who dwells by the sea’ People with this name have a deep inner need for quiet, and a desire to understand and analyze the world they live in, and to learn the deeper truths of it. So we anointed the house as “Morgan House”: A place to dwell and find rest in Him, that we could be made effective and trained fishers of men. We would dwell by the sea, have mountain views and sunny vales surrounding us. Seeking the deeper truths of God….here.
And this was the prayer I prayed:
Lord, This place has been ordained by you, given to us for your good works. May it be a refuge for those who need rest for their weary souls and may it be a lighthouse pointing the way to life through Jesus Christ Your Son. May this home be a tool for us to build up your kingdom on earth and build up your holy fellowship. We strive to be like Jesus. All this in Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
God was faithful and once again prayers were answered…we saw a soul come to Christ in this house that very same week. And God continued to pour out His blessings through this place. Every time I wanted to grumble or complain, I just had to look at the home and it reminded me of all the love I have from Him and from those around me. The small little things were the most humbling…Cups from a sister, cleaning supplies from another, various pieces of furniture, tokens of affection to my children, each thing a reminder of God’s grace, tangible items of love for the home, for me to use and to be thankful…And God did not stop there….he wanted to connect even more dots for me….
In Sept. we had the opportunity to attend a local SBC conference and the speaker there Pastor Johnny Hunt just brought the truth home to my heart. Churches all over are dying, they are simply shutting their doors for lack of life in them…and some churches would rather die then change. So what could we as a church now do to prevent this? Well for one, stop just defining the Gospel, but now was the time to share it…to make it known. How? Through the church, the very vehicle in which Acts is all about. Confidence in the Word, in the message to make it known…..and here was the Amen moment for me….it is not about location, location, location but about position, position, position! Just like the verses God had given me to meditate on in the book of Acts, where had I positioned myself? Was I positioned to do things for God? Was my heart in the right place?
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1
The reality was that I thought I had been praying for a home where we could dwell and do things for God, a home, to live and move and have our being….but I had missed these two important words…IN HIM. In Christ do I live and move and have my being, not because of the location I am at but because of the position He has given me. I am His child and I have been called to live for Him. He dwells within the confines of this small wretched heart and yet uses me to be a part of His amazing works. Jesus Christ came to save, and He never requests of us what he Himself did not already go through. So no matter how great or small my faith is, it is Christ in me that matters. If I position myself to be pleasing to God and have the same genuine heartfelt desires as Christ then I am positioned for His glory no matter where I am at. This house has brought about so many good things, good and perfect gifts of God…new memories, new friendships, new hopes, new goals, and of course new lives in Christ. All this to speak of His glory and what He can do when He brings His people together for the good of His purposes. The word ‘position’ will never be the same again for me. It is a doing of God, so that in the place that I am at, until I get to my final home in heaven with Him, I can live and move and have my being. IN HIM is what makes the difference…In HIM, IN Christ can I do all things. I have found freedom in the borders of Morgan House, where God reigns, and I can’t wait to keep on testing and proving His Words and seeing how He connects the dots, and to do it with all of you my spiritual family in Christ.
To close I want to leave you with this final word which keeps me grounded and positioned for Him :Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2
This is our starting point, our start is today….Avenue Baptist Church let’s finish well….lets be able to say that we are Overcomers!! And have lives that show it….hitting the Mark, and no turning back, pressing on towards the goal which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.