PERSONAL QUESTIONS

 

FAMILY & PERSONAL HISTORY

What is your testimony?

                Very briefly: I was born into a church-going family.  I did very well at church all my life, in terms of getting along with people and learning the lessons.  I had a period of religious exploration during high school, where my fascination with magic and mysticism led me to consider ideas from wicca, new age, and even post-modern naturalism.
                In college, I was persuaded to join Crossroads Campus Ministries as a year-long commitment. That's where I was surrounded by some very key people in my life who each helped solidify a different aspect of my understanding of faith and godliness. These people include (but are not limited to): Raymond Kim, Rebecca Jun, Jun Park, Myron Kim, David "Virgil" Lee, and Christine Cho. In addition to those CCM members, I met George Wolf, who is perhaps the single-most influential person in my spiritual development solely based on his persistent generosity and love for me. He bought me lunch and dinner about 4-6 times a week for 3 years, just to make sure I could go to church and fellowship without worrying about money (since I had none). Despite our lack of contact today, he remains at the top of my list of people who have impacted me the most. He is also a constant example I think of when reminding myself of how I ought to love my students in my ministry.
                By my senior year in CCM, I had become certain of my faith in Christ and surrender to His will. I was elected president of the group and stayed for both my senior year and fifth year at UCLA.  At the end of this time, Christine and I met and agreed to get married. It was she who convinced me (rather easily) to reconsider my hopes to become a stuntman, and instead pursue a lifelong ministry at the pulpit, preaching God's Word to a generation that I felt has lost its understanding of it. I accepted that call to ministry and have since been plunged head-deep in the most heart-wrenching, tear-filled, and frustrating experience of my life which has exceedingly blessed me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
                The more I look back at the road I took to get here, the more I see the fingerprint of God on my life. I'm thankful to Christ my Savior for every student I have today, each of whom I believe is an opportunity for me to partake in their spiritual journey toward heaven as well.

 

What led you to believe that Christianity was true?

                I saw lives that were inexplicably transformed by the power of God. I saw men who pursued humility, service, and sacrifice instead of money, sex, and power, and found that they were richer, greater, and more loved than anyone I had previously wanted to be like. I saw answered prayers that could only have come about by the hand of God Himself. I found a unity and consistency in the 66 books of the Bible from approximately 40 different authors, written over the span of thousands of years, that never failed to demonstrate a God who fulfilled every promise and prophecy He sovereignly spoke through the most modest of prophets to the greatest of kings. I discovered an indestructible wisdom in the pages of the Scriptures that the world is still trying to substitute with its own broken values. And I felt a conviction and a surrender to a truth I knew was already beating in my heart as if God had known me before the creation of the world and was finally saving me from myself and now making me into the man He was always calling me to be.
                It took years to make me willing to consider the faith. It took months to ease my initial doubts. It took weeks to realize there really were answers to my questions. And then it took a few days for me to admit my previous worldview was a failure. It only took a moment for me to pray a prayer of surrender to Jesus. But it's taking my whole life to fully live like Him.
                If you really break down what led me to believe Christianity was true, it was and still is the unfailing Word of God, the testimony of His people, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the peace upon my soul that transcends all my understanding when surrendered to the gospel that beckons me to die to myself, that I might live in Christ.

 

What's the craziest stunt you ever did?

                In high school, while I was aspiring to become a stuntman, I asked my friend to hit me with his car. We practiced it several times at really low speeds to get it right. When we actually did it for real, he drove at about 35 mph and I ended up breaking the windshield.
Those were the days.

 

Did you date when you were in high school?

                There were girls that I liked and two girls that liked me (I might be exaggerating that number in my favor), but I didn't ask anyone out. A lot of that might have had to do with the fact that I was half the man I am now (I weighed 108 when I graduated high school).

 

How did you meet your wife?

                Christine was a freshman at UCLA when I was a junior. She joined the campus ministry that I was serving at. She knew me only from a distance because I played the drums and was a very visible leader. I didn't know her because our group size was 300 and my responsibility was just drums and teaching my small group of 4 guys. I also didn't know how to talk to girls (still not great at it, but working on it!).

                It wasn't until the summer after my senior year at UCLA that I actually got to really meet her and get to know her. She and I moved into apartments that were down the street from each other and someone told me that she worked at Starbucks and walked home alone afterward...3 miles...by herself...at 2am...in LA. That sounded crazy to me (though that information turned out to be inaccurate, unbeknownst to me), so I went to her and asked if I could pick her up and give her a ride home after work everyday. This worked out for her since she needed a ride, and it worked out for me since it was REALLY lonely in the summer, cuz no one was around to talk to.

                We ended up talking for 2-3 hours every time I picked her up from work. Two weeks later I asked her to marry me. She said yes, explaining to me that she liked me for the past two years--she actually called it "love at first sight" from the moment she saw me on the drums. I told her that for me, it was "love at every sight" when I see her. And it still is.

 

When did you start dating Christine?  Did you follow all your dating guidelines that you talk about, like waiting until you're economically stable?

                Haha, no. I started pursuing Christ only two years before asking Christine to marry me. She's the one that pointed me toward ministry, and it wasn't until maybe five years later that I had gained enough experience to see what works and what doesn't work in the timing and process of relationship. 
                I actually don't think that economic stability is a necessary prerequisite for dating. That's purely an external factor. If you're going to struggle financially, struggle together.
  What I am far more adamant about is humility and selflessness. Being able to love and serve and forgive people selflessly--even when tired or uninterested--is the mark of a humble and godly person. If you can stop living for yourself, you are ready to start living for someone else; and that's what dating should be. If that's done right, I really can't imagine very many reasons why people would break up.

 

Why did you fall in love with your wife?  Why did your wife fall in love with you?

                Blunt honesty: I fell in love with Christine for the following reasons in this order...

1) I think she's gorgeous.

2) She's smart. I didn't care about how much she knew, in terms of facts and figures, but I was really impressed by how she understood things deeply.

3) She defines integrity for me. There is no hidden side to my wife. She is the same awesome woman in front of everyone as she is alone at home. No masks, no facade. 

4) Christine is the most stable, reasonable, understanding human being that I've ever met. She's not given to mood swings, impulses, or rashness. She's constantly happy because she's grateful for what we have, and she'll only be angry or sad if there's really a reason to be. And even then, she doesn't get upset at personal offense. She's not petty. The only times she gets upset is when good values are violated. 

5) She's a great cook and homemaker, even though she works full time and takes care of a baby.

                In no particular order, she said she was attracted to me initially because...

1) She liked that I live with my own particular style of life (or lack of style, in many people's opinions!).

2) She thought I was hard to fully figure out.

3) She liked my passion for theology and communication.

                Christine said she ended up falling in love with me because she felt that being with me made her a better person.  Okay, this question is way too mushy.

 

If your wife and son were both hanging off of a cliff and you could only save one, who would you save?

                Without a moment's hesitation, I would save my wife. That was my vow to serve, love, and protect her above any other.  I would never be happy about the loss of my son, but there is nothing difficult in my mind about which one I would choose.

 

Do you think your son looks like you?

                Yes and no. I think his hair is mine. Possibly his nose two. His eyes are like mine, but spaced apart like Christine's. His mouth and cheeks and jaw are all hers.

 

What are you most concerned about regarding your son's future?

                I think my greatest concern for Elias is his regard for me as a father. He's going to grow up as a pastor's kid, which is going to seriously affect his identity, since it will come with certain people's expectations of him.   But my son is certainly going to see the innermost depth of my character. He'll know whether or not I quite literally "practice what I preach."   I'm hoping he'll be able to distinguish between who I'm trying to be and who I am, and that he won't hold against me the struggles and failures that I sincerely try to overcome.  I'll be both his father and his pastor as he grows under my instruction. I hope that being good at the one will make me better at the other.

 

What if Elias hates Superman?

                Funny question, serious answer.  I hope my son shares all the same loves and passions and hobbies that I have, but that's pretty wishful thinking.  In the end, if he has the same values--a love for God and God's people, and an all-out pursuit of righteous living--then I'll die knowing I succeeded in life.  If he ends up hating Superman, I hope it's because no comic book could ever compare to the real Jesus. That wouldn't disappoint me in the least.

 

If Elias was exposed to gamma radiation and turned into the Hulk whenever he was upset, how would you discipline him?

                I wouldn't. I would not spank him, yell at him, or do anything that might turn him into a rampaging beast of unstoppable power when he needs to be reflective, remorseful, and sober.  Instead, I would take him to Africa, to areas where countries are torn asunder by warlords and human trafficking. I would let him see the destruction, the affliction, and the preventable tragedy that's caused by cruel and heartless leaders, and then I'd set him loose on them with the promise of large bounties of candy if he puts an end to their corrupt regime and helps me install a stable and just political environment. I would do this in every region, to every warlord that abuses human rights. The warlord might have an army, but I would have a hulk.

 

If Elias, as a teenager, told you one day that things were getting too difficult too fast, and that he wanted to give up. What would you tell him?

                Honestly--like, really really honestly--I think I would tell him to man up. I would be so ashamed of him if the pressures of the world shook his security in heaven. What could possibly be so powerful in this life as to somehow threaten his confidence in eternity? What force on this floating lump of dirt in space would occlude his sight of the glory of heaven? If Elias said things were too difficult too fast and he wanted to give up, I really think I would tell him to go ahead and give up. He missed the wonder of God because he probably got distracted by some girl. Maybe he doubted the provision of the Almighty because of the grades on his exams. Whatever the case, he willingly, knowingly, intentionally turned away from what is forever true and put his trust and hope in something that is momentary and deceptive. The idea would make me sick and I'd be ashamed to have raise such a weakling. It would reflect my failure as a father and teacher and pastor, and it would demonstrate his true lack of salvation, faith, and understanding of Jesus the Christ.

I would tell Elias to man up, to figure out what he thinks is really important and to not lose heart at the journey when it's the destination that drives him forward. I'd remind him that I didn't raise him up for over 12 years just so he could go out with that girl or get an "A+" on that test. And God didn't create him for school or for career or for success. God and I have been training him from the beginning to understand what real love is, to share it with everyone with indestructible resolve, to celebrate the various abilities and capacities he's been born with, to rejoice over the heavenly mission he's been reborn with, and to give everything in his life to the pursuit of the one task that he's been given during his brief time on this earth: to reclaim the world for the Creator who is saving us from the damning nature of ourselves--saving us from sin, saving us from death, and even saving us from feeling like the world was getting too difficult too fast, and wanting to give up.

 

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a husband that you would never have learned had you not gotten married? As a father?

                It was when I got married that I discovered how truly solitary I am. My thoughts are extremely private, and the bulk of my convictions and urges do not come out in words. I work in the dead of night after all the world around me is asleep. I abhor interference during my brainstorming sessions. I take offense at even the most helpful of suggestions when they're given me before I have solidified a position of my own. And no one, not any other human being in the world, has access to my design process of any creative work that I do, whether it be a sermon or a film or a role-playing game.

                I found this out because I thought that marriage was where I would share everything with my wife and have nothing to myself. That's just not true.  Everything is to be shared, but that doesn’t mean all distinctions between the man and woman disappear. While there is a oneness to husband and wife, that doesn't dissolve separate personhood, and it's something that surprised me and even made me feel guilty early on. But then when I came to understand that my gifting is very distinct from Christine's and my weaknesses were just as different too, I came to understand that we were meant to function together as one, which is awesome because we get to draw on the strength of two.

                As a father, I realize that I really don't like babies. They don't evoke the best parts out of me. I see plenty of people melt in front of a little child, talking in babbles and making funny and cute noises. I just don't have any of that instinct. I look at children and tap my foot, wondering how long it will be before I can have a satisfying conversation with them. Even after my own son was born, I found that I have no love for childcare or pampering. Nowadays it's much interesting and enjoyable to be with my son because he's becoming more verbal, but the early stages were exhausting for me mostly because there was so much work to put in with very little satisfaction that was returned for me. But now that he speaks a bit, I find myself thinking about him a lot and wishing to nurture his mind. If I get what I want, he'll be preaching in no time.

 

How did you study in high school?  Any good study habit tips?

                Honestly, I probably have the worst study habits out of anyone I know.
Here is what I did in high school:
1) I read only the first sentence of every paragraph for textbooks.
2) I memorized all the boldterms.
3) I made sure to understand all the captions to pictures and charts.
4) I worked in no longer than 30-minute intervals with 15-minute breaks.
5) I was confident that I would get A's on every assignment I did, so I only completed those assignments which would amount to a B in each class--meaning, I figured out how many assignments I could ignore without falling under a B in the class.
6) I discussed the material with my classmates, usually tutoring them, acting as though I knew the material, but I'd really be having them take the book and read the relevant parts and explain it to me to demonstrate their understanding. All I'd do is ask questions back to make them analyze the stuff, but secretly I was just learning it all cuz they were teaching me.

 

What colleges did you apply to and get into?  What was your GPA?

                I graduated Laguna Hills High School with a 4.96 weighted GPA.  I actually didn't apply to college. My friends secretly filled out my applications (they worked in the school office and had access to my transcript) and pasted in an essay from my sophomore year. This is because at the time I was pretty set on being a stuntman and didn't think I needed to go to college for that. My parents paid the money and everything.  I was applied to UCLA, UCI, UCSD, and UC Berkeley. I was accepted to all of them.

 

If your friends hadn't enrolled in schools for you, what do you think you'd be doing?

                I'd probably be wondering what I'd be doing if I had gone to a university.  Honestly, I have no idea. My entire life changed at college because that's where I committed to Christ, and he completely defines me.

 

What did you major in?

                My major at UCLA was in Psychology. I tended to gravitate toward cognitive and developmental psychology to help understand human behavior. I also took classes for a computing specialization to complete my pursuit to understand natural and artificial intelligence.

 

Do you know your Meyers-Briggs personality? Is it accurate?

                I scored an ENTJ as my personality description.  Below I've posted three different sources of explanation for the ENTJ personality. You can judge for yourself whether it fits me or not. Personally, I think any personality description can sound like one's self if you're told that this is who you are.

                Wikipedia says: ENTJs are among the rarest of types, accounting for about 2–5% of those who are formally tested.[2][3] They tend to be self-driven, motivating, energetic, assertive, confident, and competitive. They generally take a big-picture view and build a long-term strategy. They typically know what they want and may mobilize others to help them attain their goals. ENTJs are often sought out as leaders due to an innate ability to direct groups of people. Unusually influential and organized, they may sometimes judge others by their own tough standards, failing to take personal needs into account.

                The Myers & Briggs Foundation says: Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas

                Typelogic says: ENTJs have a natural tendency to marshall and direct. This may be expressed with the charm and finesse of a world leader or with the insensitivity of a cult leader. The ENTJ requires little encouragement to make a plan. The bent to plan creatively and to make those plans reality is a common theme for NJ types.  ENTJs are often "larger than life" in describing their projects or proposals. This ability may be expressed as salesmanship, story-telling facility or stand-up comedy. In combination with the natural propensity for filibuster, our hero can make it very difficult for the customer to decline.  ENTJs are decisive. They see what needs to be done, and frequently assign roles to their fellows. Few other types can equal their ability to remain resolute in conflict, sending the valiant (and often leading the charge) into the mouth of hell. When challenged, the ENTJ may by reflex become argumentative. Alternatively (s)he may unleash an icy gaze that serves notice: the ENTJ is not one to be trifled with.

 

Did you ever have to deal with rejection when dating and rejection from a job or college?

                I've never been rejected by a girl. This is not due to any attractiveness on my end, but because I never had to the courage to ask a girl out. Christine is the only girl who I really took a risk to pursue, and the only way I got enough courage to do so was by being absolutely convinced that I was going to worship God in my relationship with her. 
                I've never been rejected from a normal job. I worked at CompUSA and Circuit City selling computers when I was in high school and early college. I worked as a tutor through most my life. I worked as an assistant psychotherapist for a summer and I think I got the job because not many people apply to work in therapy for victims of violent crime. 
                I've never been rejected from a college since I didn't apply to college myself. My friends applied to UCSD, UCI, UCLA, and Berkeley. I was accepted to all four because they did a stellar job on my application, even having pasted in a sophomore essay as my personal statement.
                All of this makes it sound like I don't know what rejection is like, but I'm actually very familiar with it. I have so many conversations with unbelievers who find out I'm a pastor and no longer want to hang around me, fearing they'd be judged or preached at. There are students at my church who listen to my sermons every week and still don't care. They don't talk to me about their questions or comments, or they don't make an effort to get more involved by coming to Friday nights or retreats and other events. Each of those instances is a pretty hard slap in the face for a pastor. It's a weekly reminder that they flat out reject either me or the message I'm giving, and I take both of those personally to some degree. 
                I deal with rejection by simply asking God to remind me that I'm not measured by people's standards. He seated me in the heavenly realms with Christ, far above all the stuff of earth and the ways of the world (Ephesians 2:1-2). I sit and think again about how I'm saved by grace, not by my works, so I don't have to try to impress God with my achievements or accomplishments. He's crazy about me and I'm crazy about Him, and it's that gratitude and joy that motivates me. When I remember those things, it puts things into perspective on my lifetime here. Rejection means I'll be serving God somewhere else--but I'll still be serving God. As long as I trust His guidance and provision, I have nothing to worry about. I'm surrounded by godly men and women who take care of me and who I take care of, and those relationships make me richer, stronger, and more satisfied than almost anyone else that I've come to know.  You, too, are never rejected by God if you've surrendered your life in trust to Him and His instruction. Don't let people or circumstances try to measure you. If you pursue obedience to God as your only and all-out pursuit, the rest of life will kind of just make sense and you'll be provided for (Matthew 6:33).

 

When was the last time you cried?

                I'm intentionally excluding the times that I've cried during movies, because those aren't real tears, I think. Else, it would be when I watched How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3. 
                The last time I cried was early this year, around February, at the thought of losing a very close friend. Strange how just sitting and thinking could make a person cry, even if the thoughts aren't about true events?
                Actually, I think I cry at stuff going on in my head more than I cry about stuff going on in my life. My imagination is far more vivid or something.

 

Is even your underwear black?

                Three pairs of boxers are. The rest are colored. I've never bought underwear for myself, so it's a remarkable coincidence that I still ended up with 3 pairs of black ones.  On a sidenote, I do own a black towel that I take to retreats when I guest speak.

 

Don't you get hot wearing all black in the summer?

                Yes. If I could measure the discomfort numerically on a scale of 1 to 5, I'd say it makes me feel uncomfortable with an intensity of 3. However, I can stay indoors, out of the sunlight, to reduce this discomfort to 2.  Having to choose my outfit for the day and wearing colors that I don't enjoy would also cause discomfort for me, and that would have an intensity around 4 unless the clothing is exceptionally comfortable--such as a pair of blue jeans that I like. That would then reduce it back to 3, which would only tie with wearing all black. This is probably why sometimes I wear my blue jeans instead of black pants.

 

What was the most frustrating moment of your life?

                Honestly, I can't recall a single moment that I'd call the most frustrating of my life. Sometimes certain people frustrate me, but that develops over a pattern of behavior and events, so no particular moments stick out in my mind. 
                These days I think I'm very bothered when I see pastors doing less than what I expect that they're capable of. That frustrates me a lot. Often times I think I'm too hard on them since many are still in seminary or struggling to find enough time or money to live. But when I see good pastors leading mediocre ministries, it just makes me wish they'd wake up and realize how much time and opportunity they're wasting. I don't mean that they have to be awesome speakers with great bands and thriving conversations. But I do mean that their body, mind, and spirit need to be fully invested in what they do for God's people. The disappointment runs so deep in me that, at times, it overrides my desire to pray for them and/or encourage and help them. This rides the fine line between critical observation and arrogant judgment, and is an issue that I do my best to keep confessionally before God.

 

HYPOTHETICAL & THEORETICAL

If you could ask God one question and get a direct answer, what would you ask?

"Will you please explain the eschaton to me in exact, literal, chronological terms?"  I would ask this because I want to know what no one else--not even Jesus--fully knows (Mark 13:32).

 

Are you willing to admit that you are wrong (when you realize you are)?

                Yeah, I do when I know I am.  The situation doesn't happen often, since I don't really get myself involved in arguments, but I think my wife knows best that I haven't ever felt the need to just "win" during disagreements. I'm motivated by truth, by knowledge. I'm not really interested in the spoils of victory, as if pushing my point on someone will somehow validate my personal outlook. When someone disagrees with me, I don't really think I feel anything at all. I don't really care, basically. If they want to hear me out, I enjoy explaining since that allows me to communicate the stuff I know, but I don't feel successful if I convince a person, and I don't feel like I failed if I don't.
                I think the biggest theological issues that I had to admit being wrong to were the topics of predestination (which I used to adamantly oppose, mostly because I didn't understand it rightly) and young earth theory (which I also used to oppose, attempting to synthesize my faith in God's Word and my high school education in the theory of evolution). Those two decisions radically changed the direction of my understanding of God and the Bible, but they weren't actually difficult to submit to. Those who labored to show me the truth spent many long nights going step-by-step to take me through it all. But in the end, it didn't hurt my pride or anything to say that their position was true. I'd rather be correct and unrecognized than incorrect and praised.

 

Do you see the world in black and white? If not, what are your grey areas?

                I'm not really sure what you're asking, since the context is not included. If you're speaking of morality, then here is my answer:

There is an objective difference between right and wrong--a distinction between righteousness and sin. That distinction is determined by God, and our position in regards to it is reckoned by the intent of the heart, whether it be inclined toward godliness or something else. Only God can actually judge with perfect precision on the moral and spiritual quality of our intents and actions. He can also identify when more than one motive exists, meaning He knows when there are good and bad motives taking place at the same time.  UItimately, that means God's discernment is sharp enough to separate the finest particles of black and white in the most complex of matters in life that seem to us to be entirely grey.

 

If there was something you could change about yourself, what would you change?

                I think if there was something I could change about myself, I would be able to speak Korean (and other languages if permitted!) flawlessly. That would help me out in so many ways with what I do right now, working at a Korean church over high school students with Korean parents. 

                I've also entertained the idea of being taller or lighter-skinned too. Height can be more diplomatic in personal conversations. But I think being lighter-skinned would help me to seem more friendly. I've always wanted people to consider me a warm and inviting person. Wouldn't that be nice? :)

 

Would you rather cook or do the dishes?

                Personally, I would rather do the dishes. I used to HATE doing them, but it was one way to really relieve Christine from shouldering most of the housework. After all, there aren't that many heavy things to lift, and the trash doesn't need to be taken out every single day.
                I started doing the dishes when we got married (up until then I never grew up having to do them!). It took about a year to really get used to it, and now I really like the fact that she enjoys a clean sink. I like that look of relief on her face when she looks over expecting a giant pile and sees a clean dish rack instead. I also found that it's become very relaxing to stop being so busy with all sorts of stuff, and to just stay in one place, thinking clearly while doing the dishes.  It also goes by a lot faster than I always expect it will. I look at a big pile and think it'll take 30 minutes to an hour, but it's still really only like 10 minutes. That time becomes an excellent moment to pray and plan and just enjoy remembering certain things about the day or week.

 

If your house was burning and you could only save one of your pets--Munchie (dog) or Hunter (cat), which would you save?

                In a heartbeat, I would save Hunter.  Munchie is, in my opinion, a tragic waste of 2 pounds of flesh. She has nothing to contribute. People only like her because of her looks, which I find to a shallow quality.  Hunter, on the other hand, is the most incredible creature to ever grace my life. He understands the human heart. He loves people, but doesn't pine for attention. He has killer instincts, but tender affections. He keeps himself clean and never makes too much noise. There is no other animal like him, and there never will be.

 

Do you think the Illuminati still exists?

No, we do not.

 

Which type of apocalypse is best: Zombocalypse, Arachnocalypse, Robocalypse, or Vampocalypse?

                Robocalypse.  Man is destroyed, poetically, by the work of his own hands. It is the height of power and pride that he creates "life" in his own image--sentient and volitional, adopting all of his qualities but minus an allegiance to its own creator--the ultimate imitation and substitution of God creatively, and the perfect duplication of man's own sinful rebellion against lordship. 
Man is then proven to be less than omnipotent and less than eternal compared to Him who spoke the universe into existence, formed the man out of dust, and granted him life by nothing more than a sovereign breath.

 

What is a true and good friend?

A true and good friend:

1) Knows your strengths and weaknesses, and wants to continue to know them.

2) Sticks with you despite the truth about your failings.

3) Celebrates your victories and mourns your defeats.

4) Works to make you a better person--to love God and your neighbor with all you are.

5) Is willing to sacrifice for you in terms of time, energy, money, possession.

6) Isn't afraid to lovingly oppose you if you're in the wrong.

7) Is as interested in hearing about you as being heard by you.

8) Is more interested in meeting needs than keeping accounts. Being "paid back" for buying lunch is never on the mind.

9) Shows you how to live, then tells you how to do it.

10) Expects you to meet the first nine qualities in return.

11) Doesn't given up when you fail in the first ten qualities.

 

A man was looting your house after setting fire to it, but becomes trapped under rubble.  Would you first save your pets or would you save his life?

                Haha, honestly, my pets.  That doesn't mean I wouldn't make an effort to save him, but my commitment is to protect those under my care, which even includes animals. And my right is to defend them from predators. Because he proved to be a danger to my family, saving him first and then going back in for the pets means leaving him with my wife and son without my being there to ensure their safety. That's not responsible of me. I'd save my pets, then go back for him.
                But in all honesty, it's possible that I might let him burn for a little while first. It sounds mean, but it makes sense to me: That might make me certain that he'll be too weak to be a threat after I save him.

 

If a man robbed your house and killed your family but turned to Christ afterward, would you be able to forgive him?

                Given that his turning toward Christ is equally as clear and concrete to me as his robbing and killing, then I think that--yes--I would be able to forgive him. It would not be easy, and it would not be instant. I also wouldn't deliberately expose myself to his company since it would come with so many associations and hurtful memories, but I would be able to let it go and not wish evil upon him in vengeance. 
                The fact that Christ saved me--especially as I look at myself and the sinner I was--is testimony to me that God's grace is available for everyone. I'm surprised at how many people have forgiven me for the past I've had with them.
 
                I think of stories about people like Jim Elliot--a missionary who was killed by a tribal people in an attempt to bring them the gospel. His wife and son returned to those people and actually learned their language and formed a relationship where they were finally able to give them the gospel. The warrior who killed Jim eventually came to the son (years after the incident) and confessed to what he did and asked Jim's son to kill him instead. The son, of course, refused. So the warrior said that he would take the son as his own and would be a substitute father in his place.
 
                Looking at the relationship that formed from that is a stark picture of the transforming power of the gospel. It challenges me to be ready to forgive anything and anyone, and to restore fellowship if repentance and humility are draped around the heart.  Jim Elliot, by the way, said one of my favorite quotes that I think typified his life story and the one I hope to live:
 "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

 

What percent of "Christians" do you think are actual Christians?

                Oh, I have no idea. That's not something that I can have any hope of ever being able to know. God knows the heart. I only know what I see.

                There are people that are noticeably NOT following Christ, even if they go to church and claim to be Christian. It's not so much about how they are living right now, but more on whether or not they're pursuing holiness and being transformed by it. Being moral and sociable aren't signs of conversion if they aren't coupled with continuing conviction and transformation.   There are a lot of students even in my ministry who claim to be Christian, consistently attend Sunday service, have friends in the youth group, and don't do any of the extreme sins that would make us seriously worry. But it's also apparent in that they're not interested in worshiping God and seeking His instruction for every aspect of their lives; or there is sin that they're aware of and unrepentant over.

                But even of those that DO seem to be believers, that too can be counterfeited. That kind of thing is only known at the end of their lives, when you see the pattern of obedience. Jesus says that those who endure till the end are saved (Matthew 10:22) and he who overcomes will be saved (Rev 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). You can't see the full pattern of one's life until it's all said and done--and even then, there's a lot you didn't see because you weren't with them all the time or hearing their thoughts and knowing their motives.

                Jesus simply says you'll know a person by their fruit. If their lives are characterized by a thirst for worship as well as a willingness to repent (it can't be just one of those), then that's a saved person. But both of those are motives, and especially because I work with teenagers, those motives are difficult to discern at this point from their emotional interests.

                At this point, honestly, the only ones that I am absolutely 100% convinced are saved within my ministry at Seven Mile are my staff: Daniel "Reggae" Lee, Eddie Pak, Sam Chung, Susie Park. That conviction comes from working with them constantly, pushing them to repent and overcome, and watching them perform with absolute selflessness under the craziest duress of circumstance and pressure.

 

What are you going to do in 10 years?

                Hopefully I'll be doing exactly what I'm doing today: loving my family, making disciples of Jesus Christ, and living above reproach as best as I can.

                Nothing needs to improve in my life, in terms of my purpose. There' no way to tell where I'll be or how many kids I'll have. When it comes down it all, I'm chasing God and bringing others along for the ride. Whatever is extraneous to or competes against that pursuit is what I hope to remove. Sure, I could wish for better pay or nicer home or whatever, but those things really just pale in comparison.

 

What are your opinions of this?  http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110117/us_yblog_thelookout/scientists-warn-california-could-be-struck-by-winter-superstorm?cmp=fb

                I think you've misunderstood my job. I read the Bible and tell people about what it says. I don't research climate. I also don't pretend that the Bible tells me when there will be natural disasters, as if God's primary concern was to tell me when the weather would be bad.
                BUT, I think it's really funny that they listed the following dates of past superstorms in California: 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605. Now, at first, I was like, "Dude, this seems like something that happens a lot..." but then I was like, "Wait, didn't Columbus hit America in like 1492? How long did it take for California to get discovered by people who cataloged the weather?..."
                So something makes me scratch my head about people who say they know that there was a superstorm in California shortly after Christ lived. I'm not saying it's impossible to determine that kind of stuff. I'm just saying it's really weird. You'd think that the most recent superstorm would have erased or reset any of the possible evidence we could have of any previous storms. For instance, if there's a flood in my living room, things get destroyed. If there's another flood next week in my living, I don't know if I'll be able to tell the difference between what got messed up in the first or the second flood. But I know it'd be even harder to try to determine the DATE of the first one after the second has hit.

 

What is your opinion of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpz8PMcRJSY

            The video is built on misunderstanding God, stated bluntly in the title "Double Standard." For instance:
                1) Riches for unbelievers isn't God patiently letting them enjoy life until they burn in hell. If that were the case, we would need alternative explanations for poor unbelievers, and also for middle-class unbelievers, and then we'd need an explanation of why one rich man isn't as rich as another rich man, etc.
                2) Riches for believers isn't God rewarding someone for his faith either, as that would then give a clear, empirical means of trying to measure faith through the wallet which Jesus clearly disputes. 
                Life on earth is broken. The wicked can prosper, the righteous can suffer, but it doesn't always go that way, and it doesn't always go the other way. This life is not an INDICATION of who we are--it's the time to PROVE who we are. The video tries to explain that your circumstances reflect how God is treating you out of his opinion of you. The Bible explains that your circumstances are means by which you express your affection toward God, whether in plenty or in want. 
                You can't perceive God's love for someone by what he's going through. You can perceive someone's love for God by seeing how he goes through it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1igOsQJ3t8  The nature of this video is meant to be comedic, but how are we supposed to approach things like this?

                HAHAHAHAHAHA.
                That seriously was my approach. That video cracked me up. Then I closed it and went on with my life. I recommend exactly that for you too. It's not a big deal. Someone is poking fun at the church (a particularly extra-biblical practice of the church, to be more specific, meaning it doesn't come from Scripture). There's no responding to it since you're not talking with the person or being asked your opinion. Best thing to do: commit to a biblical church and clarify that your group doesn't do the stuff that this video makes fun of.

 

Do you sometimes wonder why there's this middle step in our lives--living on earth before going to heaven to be with God eternally?  Is this middle phase like a test to weed out all the unbelievers?

                I don't think this life is a middle step at all. Actually, I think it's more accurate to say that HEAVEN is the middle step.  This life is the first step. You didn't exist before this life, so it can't be the middle step. It's the first.  After you die, that's the middle step. You go to heaven and you await the day of glorification.  The last step is when you dwell again on the earth. Remember that in Revelation 21, God creates a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH. We dwell once again on the earth for eternity, just like we were supposed to dwell in the beginning at Genesis 1. Human beings were designed to live in physical bodies on the earth, and we will do so at the renewal of all things. Even those in hell get a "new hell" when hell is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20).  So your first step is life on earth. Middle step is dwelling in heaven. Final step is eternity on the new earth, where God dwells with man. 

                Is this life a test to weed out the unbelievers? I don't think it's intended to be that way. Flipping it over might actually be better: it's a test to weed out the believers. We all start as unbelievers. Only some claim to repent and believe. And of those, only a few actually mean it.

 

If you had access to a time machine, where and when would be the first place you travel to?

I would travel to the time JUST before I got into the time machine so that I could join myself and we could travel to the time JUST before I got into the time machine so that we could join myself and we could travel to the time JUST before I got into the time machine...

 

What is your opinion of the United States justice system?

                I'm not really sure how to answer this one, since I have little to no interest in politics and government and stuff. When I think of our justice system, I think of people going to jail if they break the law. Nothing about that bothers me, but then I haven't really been involved with many people who felt they were abused by the system.

  

What animal best describes you?

                I think I've been "bat" and "owl" most frequently. Both of them are nocturnal which is a pretty prominent feature of my impression on people apparently.  The bat is more of a dark, brooding, dangerous figure, unavoidably connoted with vampires (with which I also get connoted).  The owl is less connected to the idea of danger, but instead more vigilant--a watcher of people, a source of mysterious wisdom. I definitely like this one better since it makes me sound less like a criminal, but I really do think it's more accurate too. The owl is still a predator (in case anyone feels the need to make me a bad guy), but that's not what it's best at. It sees and it learns and it knows. That describes more of the angle of my personality than the bat does. The bat, if you stretch the metaphor, has crappy sight and has to rely on its sonar for navigation. I, however, have excellent eyesight (better than 20/20) but damaged hearing (from playing drums and listening to my staff talk to me). I think more points go in favor of owl so that's what I am for now.

 

What will you do if Elias decides to reject God and completely move away from Christianity when he is older? Will you force him to come back?

                There is no way to force someone to come to Christianity. That notion completely misunderstands the nature of faith.  All I would be able to do is pray for him and be the best dad that I can be. Then I'd be as patient as I can, waiting for the day when he realizes that the world has nothing to offer compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ.

 

Would you rather be the best player on a losing team or the worst player on a winning team?

                I would rather be the best player on a losing team. I guess it sounds narcissistic, as though I just want to be better than everyone else, but I see it more as an opportunity. I'm highly motivated by and interested in the opportunity to train people around me to be more effective at what they need to do. When it comes down to it, I'd rather be a coach than a player.

 

Chocolate or vanilla?

                Chocolate.  It might be that I just prefer chocolate for its flavor, but I suspect there is some significance to the fact that "vanilla" is often synonymous with "normal," "conventional," or "boring."
                Even though I like vanilla, I think part of me tends to stay away from it because of that connotation. Just last week I had a box of ice cream sandwiches. Half are chocolate ice cream, the other half are vanilla. I had one of each on the first day and I know I liked the vanilla one better, but every ice cream sandwich I had after that was chocolate and the rest of my family had to eat the vanilla ones. To be clear, I wasn't leaving them the vanilla ones so that they could enjoy the better flavor. I was actively avoiding them because vanilla is so..."vanilla."
                Something is probably wrong with me.

 

Would you believe Lex Luthor if he said he repented?

                I'd give him a chance. But that doesn't mean I'd let my guard down. Charity is not synonymous with stupidity; if a child molester says he repents, I grant him a certain degree of grace in inviting him to faith, but that doesn't mean I let him babysit my child.
                Whether or not I believe him is really relevant to how I need to treat him. The Bible itself doesn't actually consider anyone truly a believer until his entire life has proved it, from the beginning of faith till the day he dies (Matthew 10:22; Colossians 1:22-23). Our job is to accept all who claim the faith, and then to discipline out those who prove themselves otherwise (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:11-12).

 

MINISTRY

Why do you believe God is real?  How would you answer this question to an unbeliever?

                It really was a combination of factors that ultimately convinced me that the Bible was true.  First was a lot of information about creation science and historical-archaeological corroboration on the events that took place particularly in the Old Testament.  Second was a thoughtful consideration of how a movement about self-denial and a dead Savior could convince people to suffer persecution and martyrdom--especially when those who spread the message could have easily been shut down by eyewitnesses if their claims were false.  Third was a chapter from "Case for Christ" about the authenticity and reliability of our biblical manuscripts, especially when compared to other manuscripts that we consider reliably transmitted and preserved, such as the works of Homer.  Fourth, and most importantly, was the demonstration of real joy and love and satisfaction by awesome believers around me who didn't fall for the world's broken promises about money, sex, and power. These saints (including Raymond Kim, Rebecca Jun, Sam Thomsic, and George Wolf) made a huge contrast to my friends who had plenty of what the world promised and still couldn't find real purpose or fulfillment. Watching my Christian friends handle life made so much more sense in a really unexpected way: they gave up pride, yet I admired them the most. They gave up money, but I felt they were the richest in a sense because they never had a need that another wouldn't supply. They didn't take romance lightly, but showed me that real love demonstrates a commitment that goes beyond personal preferences and really values the loved one.
                Telling it to an unbeliever is easy for the first three. But facts don't effectively change the heart. Telling someone the nutritional information about a food doesn't make them love it. They have to taste it--they have to experience it and see that it is truly good. Live a transparent life in front of your friends, show them where you struggle and how you overcome. Show them where your strength comes from and how it keeps you going. The more you do it, the more your life will add to whatever combination of factors will one day bring them to a decision about whether or not God is in fact real. No one believes without seeing. And they'll only see Him if they see Him through you.

 

Why did you choose to be Protestant over Catholic?

                I didn't ever choose to be Protestant over Catholic, just like I didn't choose to be Protestant over Hindu. I didn't weigh one faith against another. I came to realize the Bible was true, and I learned it further by reading it which only confirmed its veracity. Because I believe the Bible as the sole source of divine authority, that categorically places me into "Protestant" faith, but it wasn't something I decided to do. That's just a description of my decision to follow God's Word alone, without sourcing authority from the Pope or the Catholic Church Tradition since those man-made constructions aren't actually warranted in Scripture (which, as I began in faith, was and still is the only source of divine instruction).

What are your favorite Bible verses and why?

                Here are my favorite verses from each of the books of the New Testament. I intentionally left out the Old Testament because I don't have a favorite verse from all of them (especially the minor prophets in the back) and most of the books are long stories so finding a favorite verse would too severely truncate the context and meaning of what is being said.
                Anyway, my favorite verses have become my favorites simply because they capture the essence of how God saved me, how God built me, what God expects of me, and where God is leading me. Each of these verses runs deep within the tones of my preaching and my living. I quote many of them pretty frequently, but even the ones I don't quote will not surprise anyone who knows me.
                Gospels & Acts: Matthew 5:16, Mark 10:45, Luke 16:10-13, John 14:6, Acts 4:12.
                Pauline Epistles: Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Galatians 6:7-8, Ephesians 6:13, Philippians 3:7-11, Colossians 3:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Titus 2:1-8, Philemon 8-9a.
                General Epistles: Hebrews 4:12, James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 1 John 2:15-17, 2 John 9, 3 John 3-4, Jude 22-23.
                Apocalypse: Revelation 21:1-4
                For the record, a couple verses didn't make the cut but, as a pastor, I like to quote these guys a lot too. When you read them I'm sure you'll understand why: Galatians 6:6, 1 Timothy 5:17.

 

As of today, how many times have you read the Bible from cover to cover?

                Thrice?

                I've read the New Testament maybe over a hundred times. I've parts of the Old Testament many times too, but not so much in the major and minor prophets. I've mined them for understanding, but spend less time doing devotional material in them since they're almost entirely judgments against the divided monarchy of Israel/Judah in a time of apostate kings leading God's people to a retributive exile from their Promised Land. Most of those very-specifically-targeted messages is also in the form of poetry and harkening the people back to the Mosaic Law. 
                It doesn't take much effort to recognize the major principles that can be learned and that still apply to the church today, but it is difficult to keep going back to those books to read them over and over again when their most direct application is to ethnic Jews.

 

If you could choose that you only struggled with one sin, what sin would that be? Aside from blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, what is the one sin that you wish you did not or will not ever commit?

                If I struggled with only one sin of my choice, it would be laziness. That would at least minimize the damage I do to other people. I don't want to struggle with violence, lust, greed, dishonesty, or any other sin that directly inflicts harm. Laziness, at least, would just make me a pathetic mess, which would really suck, but wouldn't bring tragedy on someone else.
                If there's one sin I hope never to commit, it's trusting in anything other than God--be it money, sex, power, etc.--for my true and eternal satisfaction. If I can keep my sight on the prize of holiness, then that will keep me moving toward my goal.

 

What words do you live by?

                "If I profess, with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of Scripture, except that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ no matter how boldly I am professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." --Martin Luther

 

Do you speak in tongues?

                No, I don't. Of course I wish I did, as I wish I had all the different spiritual gifts, but I've never felt unsatisfied or short-changed by the capacities God has equipped me with for His service. But fortunately I'm surrounded by godly people who have those gifts that I lack so that we can all function together as a complete body, the way it should be.

 

Are you more of an expository preacher or topical preacher?

                Expository (for those that don't often hear that word) just means "explanatory" and is usually used to describe verse-by-verse preaching in the framework of historical-grammatical context. You have to be a good expository preacher to be a decent topical preacher.
                I try to be the best at both. I labor to make the Bible understandable every week in its original context from author to audience, and when necessary, I try to communicate some of the running themes or topics from scattered parts of Scripture when they shed light on the same issue.
 
                By my own evaluation, I believe I am better at expository preaching.  By my wife's evaluation, as well as many of my loved ones, I am better at topical preaching.
                Topical preaching, in my opinion, is kind of a cheater's way to win the congregation's approval, since you can choose a topic that's immediately relevant and sift through many different passages and choose your preferred ones to make your point.
  It allows you to dodge the difficult and unpleasant passages.
                Expository preaching forces the pastor to deal with a single passage and move through every verse and explain why the original author said it that way to his original audience. That often requires a huge detour into history and language and literary context. And sometimes the Bible authors are just plain hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16).

 

Do you call yourself a protestant and/or a fundamentalist?

                I don't really call myself either of those.  The label "Protestant" can describe me, since I am not Catholic nor of the Orthodox or Coptic churches.  The label "Fundamentalist" can also describe me if by it you mean that I believe in sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (Faith alone), sola gratia (Grace alone).

 

Do you consider yourself a 5-point Calvinist?  And if you disagree with any of the points, why do you disagree?

                I don't consider myself a 5-point Calvinist, primarily because all five points were constructed to rebut the Arminian objections against this branch of reformed theology. If anything, I just try to consider myself a "biblicist" because I don't start by looking at Calvinism and then inspecting the Bible to see if I believe it. I start by understanding the Bible, and if I happen to fall into different theological camps, then whoopee.

                I suppose there's no outright objection that I have to any of the 5 points (which are explained below for those readers who have no idea what we're talking about), but there are portions of each point that I think require either strong clarification or complete reconstruction.

                Here are my thoughts on each of the 5 points of Calvinism (often referred to as "TULIP" as an acronym). For each point, the first sentence will state my paraphrase of the point, and the sentences that follow will indicate my mild objection to one of the point's particular corners:

1) TOTAL DEPRAVITY states that man is in a fallen, sinful state from the moment of his creation and is totally depraved in the sense that he is 100% unable to act to perform any godly act apart from the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit who must enable him to do so. I hold firmly to man's inability to save himself from his fallen state, but I often think the argument is hyperbolized in that every act an unbeliever makes is somehow offensive to the Lord, even when made altruistically. Even passages like Isaiah 64:6 are wielded outside their literary genre of poetry to sound like literal, indicative factual statements. Man is sinful, yes, and unable to save himself. There is no inherent godliness in him. But I don't think that puts a moral contaminant upon all of his action--it describes a spiritual condition under which he acts. Bad men can do good things, but they are still bad men.

2) UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION states that God chooses people to be saved, and this choice is not based on any merit or characteristic of the person, but is purely and sovereignly by His choice alone. I also affirm this claim, however I don't think that election happens in substitution of free agency. The fact that God holds men responsible for unrepentance is a clear indication that they SHOULD HAVE (from which we can infer COULD HAVE) repented. To condemn a man for not repenting when he is UNABLE to repent is as ridiculous as condemning a man for not flying...because he CANNOT fly! Even our natural understanding (whether a believer or not) would find it ludicrous to throw people in prison for failing to fly. God's judgment of man is righteous. He has plenty to condemn a man for, since all men are sinners, but because He holds unrepentance to be a sin for which man is held accountable, it is not a credible position then to hold that repentance is impossible for sinful men.

3) LIMITED ATONEMENT states that the work of Christ on the cross is effectual NOT to the whole world, but only to those that believe. Unfortunately, a strong loyalty to the first two points (Total Depravity and Unconditional Election) will easily tempt people to think that Jesus intended only to die for believers--after all, He had already known who would not believe, and so He purposed not to die for them, else they'd be saved without having repented.  Limited Atonement is the most attacked point, and it is also the one I claim is the strongest in its independent validity. God loved the WHOLE WORLD, and He sent His Son to die to save it. Yes. But it is only APPLIED to those who believe. If everyone repented and believed, it would be sufficient to save them all. But only those who actually do are the ones that gain its benefits. So Jesus did die for everyone, but only those who turn to Him will benefit from it. Note that my explanation also entails the assumption that you've agreed with my minor objections to Total Depravity and Unconditional Election.

4) IRRESISTIBLE GRACE states that the call to repent by the Holy Spirit is sovereign and absolute, never failing. I agree under the context of salvation. But Scripture is pretty direct about resisting the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). Something inside man is able to resist, grieve, and even blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit's call to salvation isn't dispensed without a heart that's yearning for a solution from spiritual brokenness.

5) PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS states that a believer is a believer to the end, and salvation cannot be lost, taken away, or refused once it is realized. This is correct. True saving faith is indestructible. But I also find that there are seasons of doubt, seasons of backsliding, and seasons of deception. The danger of this point here is that it makes people think that if they see a church member who is not behaving the way they want, then he must not have ever been truly saved. This is often an arrogant way of thinking. God knows who is or is not surrendered to Him. Our job is to accept everyone who calls himself a believer and exercise discipline upon them if they fall into sin, and remove them from the church if they are unrepentant. God is in the midst of those decisions to protect the Church and uphold the standard of godliness.

 

Are you a cessationist?

                If your question revolves more around gifts like speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and miracles (which it probably does): I don't teach those gifts have ceased either, but there is an appropriate use for them. Because these were authenticating gifts which catalyzed the apostolic ministry in dispensing the gospel to all nations, I really don't see how that would differ from the context of missionary work today to cultures and peoples who have no available Scripture to learn from.

Have you ever had prophetic dreams? Are people nowadays able to get them?

                I have not ever had prophetic dreams. My wife, Christine, had dreams that came true though. When she was a freshman in college, she dreamed that we were married and I was a pastor. I didn't know her at the time, and I was working as a stuntman and had been a Christian for only a year. That dream came up twice to her, and two years later I got to know her and asked her to marry me. She suggested very mildly that I consider ministry, and I took it to heart and ended up deciding on that path about a week later. I'm not saying that was prophetic, but I do think the coincidence is fun.  As far as whether or not prophecy is still active today, here is a copy/paste from an identical question that was previously answered:

                The meaning of prophecy is somewhat unclear these days.  If you mean prophecy as in the declaration of God's judgment and will, spoken by direct revelation and divine authority from God toward a wayward people, then no, that kind of prophecy does not still exist. Those prophets were means by which God spoke His Word to an illiterate, ancient oral culture. Deuteronomy 18:14-22 instructs us to put these kinds of prophets to death if they are ever wrong--after all, God is never wrong, so if they were ever His true messengers, they wouldn't be wrong either.

                If you mean prophecy as in the declaration of God's will, inspired from Scripture but spoken publicly, then the better word for that is "preaching" instead of "prophecy." That is God's primary means of transmission of divine instruction to people.

                If you mean prophecy as in the declaration of divinely-received information that was otherwise unknown to the speaker, usually spoken in the context to teach, rebuke, correct, or encourage someone in need, then you're going to get a mixed opinion on this in the church. Some think this is superstition or false prophecy. Others think it's God's way of applying His general instruction (as received in Scripture) to specific situations (namely, the recipient's life circumstances).

                Different churches have different opinions on this, though the general majority recognize its possibility and also its scarcity. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 instructs us not to dismiss prophecy as a whole, but to test it with Scripture. That means prophecy still existed during the time that the New Testament was being written, and there's no indication in Scripture to tell us that prophecy was going to phase out. But what is certain is that no prophecy is in higher authority than the Bible. See also 1 John 4:1 and 1 Corinthians 14:29, two other instances where prophets are acknowledged, but subject to scriptural scrutiny and discernment.

 

Do you and Christine have Bible study together?  If so, how do you do it?

                No. She either sits in my sermons or listens to the recordings or listens to me as I prepare my material during the week. We also discuss the sermons she hears in the afternoon service that she attends while I'm doing other ministry stuff.
                She used to be part of Pathway--a Bible study program that I continue with my close friends--but after Elias was born things changed for her. She currently keeps up with a few girls that she reads with and teaches, and I help supply her with insight and answers for relevant discussions.
                I've never felt the need to do a formal Bible study with Christine. I've only felt the need to properly apply the abundance of what we learn each week. A habit forms after about 3 weeks or frequent repetition. So even a single sermon is hard to apply on such a level that we are really LIVING it instead just TRYING it. So I place less emphasis on covering broader ground and focus more on standing firm on deeper ground.

 

You always say you have a really good staff.  How do they contribute and what makes them unique?

                My staff is, without a doubt, the embodiment of our ministry values. They do all of the following:

1) Read 1-4 chapters of assigned reading each day (started with Genesis, currently in 1 Chronicles). They summarize the readings, write questions and comments and reflective applications. Then they pray for God's Church, Seven Mile, each other, and people they know. These readings and prayers are discussed over dinner for 5 hours every other Sunday evening to keep us God-centered, Scripture-led, and Spirit-powered through each week of ministry.

2) Each staff member coordinates his/her own particular ministry activity. Eddie is our Tech Operator, handling slide presentations and sermon recordings. Reggae is our Music Director, leading the worship band for every ministry service. Sam is our Principal Tutor and Chief Baker, running our Wednesday tutoring program and an occasional baking fundraiser. Susie is our Event Coordinator, handling all our administrative and programmatic information.

3) Our staff participates in every service and activity that Seven Mile students attend.  That actually includes coming to both morning services on Sundays to hear each sermon twice, just so that they can sit in with their students regardless of which service those students attend.

                I'm making no exaggeration when I say that this is the finest team of servants that I've had the pleasure of working with--not just because of the excellent quality of their services, but primarily because of their constant surrender to the will of God and their sincere pursuit of holiness on a daily basis.  They are my trusted lieutenants during services, my spiritual accountability during the week, and my intimate family at all times.  It's because of them that I am so aware of God's blessing over our church, and it's because of them that I feel both rich and indestructible when facing difficulty and disappointment.

 

What's the most fun experience you had with Seven Mile?

                Second Nature 2009, and in a few days my answer will probably change to Second Nature 2010.  If you exclude Second Nature, I think the most fun experience I've had with Seven Mile is our Summer Camping Trip. I was actually really impressed by how responsibly our students handled themselves, and how helpful and sincere they were. 
                The greatest reward to me, though, isn't in any single experience. I like looking at the overall growth of the ministry. I see students who are seriously learning the Bible. Their depth of understanding for some of our students is remarkable to every pastor I talk to. And I know that I expect a lot from my group, especially from my staff, and they consistently demonstrate everything that I ask of them. So in some ways, the most fun experience for me is seeing the difference between when some people started Seven Mile compared to where they are at now.

 

Is Nasung church a "seeker sensitive" church?  Do you endorse Rick Warren's teachings?

                This depends on what you mean by "seeker-sensitive" since that's actually a pretty flexible term. Do we intend to practice hospitality? Yes. Do we ignore teaching about sin because it offends unbelievers? No, but that doesn't mean we teach about sin with an intentionally insensitive attitude. Tact and gentility are part of Christian testimony. You don't see Jesus being rude or harsh to prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, and sinners. He gave them a clear call to repentance and a loving invitation to faith. They never mistook it as insensitive or crude. The only ones that did were the religious ones--the Jewish leaders who were filled with so much pride and spiritual elitism that they probably would throw terms like "seeker-sensitive" at Jesus. I got no problem with seeker-sensitivity. I have every problem with incomplete or incorrect doctrine. That's probably what you should be asking about. Don't concern yourself with methodology more than meaning.
                On that note, I endorse all of Rick Warren's teachings that come from the true understanding of God's Word. I denounce all of Rick Warren's teaching that miscommunicates, misconstrues, or wrongly applies God's Word. Know what that means? It means: it depends on what you're asking, because Rick Warren doesn't teach just one thing, and I'm not a robot with a switch to only agree with or only disagree with him. Every element of teaching should be inspected. We're called to discern, not categorize. We're instructed to hold on to the good, and avoid what is not (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). The more you grow in your understanding, the more you'll find that even the pastors whom you think are so right or so wrong will be a combination of giftings and weaknesses that necessitate for them to function in a body of believers--not as stand-alone one-man shows. Our prayers should go to those who we find serious disagreement with, asking that God continue to use their strengths, but also that He graciously supplement for their weakness. 

I am curious to go to Nasung.  Is your ministry a seeker friendly church?  Do you hold prayer meetings?  Do you hold biblical fellowship?  Do you have biblical evangelism?  Lastly, is your church all about fun?

                Haha, have you actually thought about the questions you're asking? What pastor in the right mind wouldn't be able to identify and spit out the right answer? Can you imagine any of the following responses:
                1) No, we are not a seeker friendly church. We are hostile to those who seek God.
                2) No, we do not hold prayer meetings. We do not need to seek God in praise, confession, repentance, thanksgiving, and dependence.
                3) No, we do not hold biblical fellowship. We only have worldly fellowship down the hall, next to our golden calf.
                4) No, we do not have biblical evangelism. We use Mormon evangelism to maintain religious variety in our congregation.
                5) Yes, our church is all about fun. We believe the sacrifice of God's Son is hilarious.
You want to know my church? Come and see.
 
1620 Fullerton Rd,
La Habra Heights, CA
9am every Sunday, 8pm every Friday.
                I guarantee you'll find a people in progress, discovering more and more how God's Word sets them on a course to live a life that's no longer theirs but is seated alongside Christ in the heavenly realms. You'll encounter honest firm truth, joyful service, humble friendships, and communal identity.
 
                And you know what else you'll find? People who are faking the faith, calling themselves Christian but not truly understanding or living the gospel, people with dark pasts and secret addictions and ongoing grudges. People who don't pray or go to prayer meetings, some who don't biblically fellowship, some who don't evangelize at all, and even some who come just for fun--yeah, they're all here. Those are the people at the beginning of the journey, and those of us who are a little bit farther along the way are doing everything we can to show those beginners how to take the next step.
 
                As I said earlier: Wherever you are in your life, and whether or not you've come to fully understand faith or church, if you want to know what Inverse Ministries is like, come and see. It'll be a step on the journey of dying to yourself and living for Christ, and I hope you'll be bold enough to take it. I dare you.

What is the meaning of the name "Inverse Ministries?"

Two meanings: I was looking for a name that indicated that the Church is...
                1) a people who are in the midst of transformation from sin to righteousness
 
                2) by the truth in the Word of God.
TRANSFORMED
                Inverse Ministries (plural, not singular) speaks of how, as time goes by, there would be a change in every believer where it is "less of me" and "more of Christ" in the way we live. Paul says it well in Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 4:22-24. John the Baptist's remark is probably the most clear in John 3:30.
BY THE WORD
                The second meaning comes as a wordplay. "In verse" is the manner in which we refer to something in the Bible. "Look in verse 1..." That usage is a pretty effective indicator in declaring that our transformation comes not from our own fancy ideas, but from the pages of God's Word.

Do you know your spiritual gifts?  What are they?

                Just so everyone's on the same page: Spiritual gifts are not a "yes/no" deal in regards to whether someone has them or not. Especially because people can vary in magnitude in their giftedness, it would be impossible for us to say, "I don't have this gift" versus "I have a really tiny amount of this gift."  Like natural talent, people are 'gifted' if they demonstrate a sincere desire and fulfillment in exercising that ability, and receive confirmation that the body is built up by their gift when it's used properly (meaning: if they like it, and are good at it). 

                A spiritual gift is not a superpower. Notice the kinds of gifts that Scripture identifies: teaching, encouraging, generosity, leadership, mercy, hospitality, knowledge, wisdom,...etc.  Those are very natural abilities. What makes them spiritual is not the actual activity, but it's PURPOSE. When it's used effectively to edify one another, that's a spiritual gift. That's why every believer is expected to exercise ALL the gifts--not to ask "do I have this one, or that one?" We're to exercise them all, and we'll be more or less effective than others in each gift.

                That said, I think my most effective contributions to strengthening the Church are: preaching and teaching. I'm guessing that if I died today, those are the things that people would remember most about how I've affected the body and made differences in people's lives. But that might be unfair, since both those gifts are rather public and more noticeable than the others.

 

Is it true that you open your house to brothers and sisters at your church?  That’s very thoughtful!

                It's been my habit since I became a pastor to live down the street my from my church. I started off teaching a youth group, and I felt that it would be good for students to have a place to come and relax and bond. Then I found that it was a safe place for parental concerns--moms and dads were usually lighter on the curfews when they knew their kids were at my place being safe and supervised. After a while, I also discovered that some students needed shelter from dangerous situations at home, and on and on the different uses of my home only strengthened the message in the ministry.

                Today, I'm convinced that the home is meant to be a tool in ministry. That's the picture that God gives us. He wanted the Israelites to celebrate their biggest festival by living in tents, remembering that they're sojourners in this life, and the only thing that marks their identity is the presence of God among their community. So hospitality and community became integral parts of what God expected of a home. That's why Jesus spent so much time at people's houses, teaching and doing ministry--he didn't just hang out at the synagogues. And that's also why the first churches met in people's houses, and that's why so many churches have small groups meet during the week in someone's home.

                If the home is where I receive rest, it's also where I can provide rest for others. As the years have passed, I've come to realize that and appreciate it more and more. Who knows? Maybe in a few years after having more than one kid the dynamic will change, but as long as I can use this asset as a weapon in ministry, I'm going to do exactly that.

 

Do you regret opening up your house, since people are there all the time?  You can’t possibly enjoy it all the time.

            The answer to your original question is "no, I don't regret it."   

            I DEEPLY enjoy embracing God's people as family--not family with asterisks around it or parenthetical disclaimers that would modify the definition to resemble something more like "close friends." I give regard to my brothers and sisters as nothing less than my brothers and sisters. If they want to come over, they are always free to do so. If they are hungry, they can eat from the food in my kitchen. I don't want them to be irresponsible, I don't condone laziness, and I lead my household to teach my family to take care of their priorities--so this place is not a place to escape one's obligations and just leech off free resources. But it is still a home, where hearts and lives are shared and gifts are exercised and growth is ongoing. 

            And, like with biological family, I don't feel the obligation to always have to host the people in my living room. If I want to sit in my room alone, I do it, regardless of who is here. If I need to take a nap, I do it, and I don't care if people are downstairs wondering where I am. And if I need to step outside the house to get something at the market, then I feel just as comfortable asking these family members of mine to watch my son, because he's part of their family too. We're not strangers, and they're not guests at a special occasion. We're a community that shares a stronger bond than anything the world has to offer. So why should I act like we're anything less than that.

                On the same lines, though, I don't always enjoy the company of my biological family. I grew up with two older brothers, and we had fights and rivalries and all that stuff. So, you're right in saying I can't enjoy their company 100% of the time, because no human being really can say that about anything/anyone. But I never wished that my brothers lived somewhere else. And I don't wish that my church family go somewhere else either. I'd rather live life together and work through it all. How else do we practice loving our neighbor and forgiving our enemies?

            I don't regret opening up my house, not in the least. If I had it my way, it would be full all the time. That doesn't mean I have to be in the middle of all the commotion. We can all just be reading books or watching TV or talking or doing a mixture of all these different activities. But as long as it's a place where people can come and welcome and be welcomed and share in God's provision, then I'm thrilled to be one the instruments that brings that piece of heaven here onto earth.

 

Who was your favorite Talbot professor and why?

                My favorite Talbot professor was Dr. Walt Russell in his Hermeneutics class. His honesty, passion, and precision were all lined up to just blow me away and show me how much I still needed to grow and learn. There is no class that even comes close to how much I loved his Hermeneutics class. Not one. Even now, when people are getting ready for Talbot, I always tell them to enroll in his class or in Dr. Ben Shin's class (who learned under Dr. Russell and is also a fabulous teacher).

 

Do you have a favorite "celebrity" pastor?

                Oh sure. I really like John MacArthur. He has a wonderful gift for demonstrating the unity of the Bible. In almost every sermon you'll get connections that he's identifying between Old and New Testament, across different authors and genres of literature. MacArthur is a master at tackling a topic in its totality from all of Scripture, not just its particulars in a single passage.

 

What do you think about pastors having favorites in their ministry?

                I think pastors will have favorite students just as naturally as students will have favorite pastors. Some relationships will develop more richly than others, depending on how sincerely each side tries to build intimacy, vulnerability, and godliness.  Favoritism, in this sense, is not negative. It's defined by a greater closeness to some students. Jesus exhibits the same kind of greater closeness to Peter, James, and John throughout the gospels, though He disciples twelve in total. He is closest with Peter, perhaps because their age difference was the least compared to the others.

                Favoritism becomes a bad thing when--instead of just being defined by a greater closeness to some--it is includes a lack of effort in trying to get close to others. When a pastor (or any church member, for that matter) chooses not to reach out, or denies someone from receiving a reasonable courtesy, or just plain doesn't attempt to care for a church member, then you have a favoritism that is borne out of comfort and elitism.  The book of James speaks against this in chapter 2. Giving special privileges to some church members (like the rich ones), and denying normal privileges for others (like the poor ones) is directly prohibited for God's people.

                We're called to be in relationship with one another, and never to stop trying to foster more. In this lifelong process, you'll be able to connect deeply with and impact certain people more than others due to the unique gifting and circumstances and personality that God's permitted in your life. Expect to be close to some, but never stop trying to get closer still to everyone.

 

Do pastors get vacations?  Is that biblical?

                It depends on the church.  Some churches give their pastors "sabbaticals" in which they're still paid but given a certain amount of time off--perhaps a weekend each year, for instance.  My church does not actually give vacation time to pastors in any official sense. We do get to take care of whatever priorities that come up, however. Like, if I had to go to a funeral over the weekend in Canada, my church wouldn't be upset about that. The time would be given for me to take care of those kinds of things.   Irvine Baptist also gives pastors some allotted time off for further training at pastoral conferences or seminars. The amount of weekends granted per year is determined by how long you've been working at the church.   I've actually attended several such seminars and conferences, but I've never skipped a Sunday service for any reason. I put an extremely high priority in consistency and attendance when it comes to my work, due to my personal style and approach to pastoring.

 

Do you speak for free or charge or take donations?  I know you are very humble about speaking and I'm curious if you are willing to speak for my Christian club at school.

                Haha, I think I kind of do it both for free and by donation.  I've never asked anyone to pay me for speaking at their event. So in that sense, I guess I do it for free. I don't really think about payment. That's not why I accept the invitation or why I choose to follow this line of work.  But then again, this is my full-time job. It's how I feed my wife and baby and me. But every penny I get is from someone's tithe that's offered to the church, so it's donations that I actually live off of. And when I guest speak, it's really no different. The organization usually gets some kind of collection together called an "honorarium" to offer the guest speaker. This is probably meant to say "thank you" and to cover costs like driving up to the event, taking the time out to prepare the sermon and deliver it (approximately 20 hours of work for me), finding a baby sitter, paying for parking (when applicable), and all that other stuff. 

                For these reasons, even though I don't charge for my own time or preaching when I go speaking somewhere, I personally would never invite a guest speaker to my church event without having an honorarium prepared for him. That's one of the ways that I try to express my gratitude and confirm the value of his presence and contribution to our ministry. That's also the biblical form of reciprocation. In Romans 16, Paul expects a monetary contribution from the Gentile church for the spiritual contribution made from the Jewish believers. In 1 Timothy 5:17-20, every preacher is meant to be paid...and paid with double honor! Even the Levites of the Old Testament had always made their living by eating the offerings of the animals that were given as tithes and sacrifices to God. This was how God set it up with His people Israel, and how He continues to supply His ministers in the Church today.

 

As far as you have come spreading the Word of God, would you say that you are satisfied with the work you've done up till now?  If not, what do you feel you need to accomplish?

                I am more than satisfied with the work I've done up to now. As far as I see it, God let me be part of His plan, and it wasn't just doing nice things, but it was changing lives toward godly living. I couldn't ask for anything more. I pray frequently that God would let His kingdom come and His will be done on earth, and then I ask to be the vessel and instrument by which He accomplishes that task. 
This week I got to sit down and have lunch with some of the students I taught at Seven Mile and I was just reminded at how much we've grown together--how I've affected their lives and how they've affected mine. It was really rewarding to know that God would allow me to be part of that life-changing process, and that my life too would be changed while I'm doing it.
                The more I pastor, the more I want to do it. I definitely get fatigued and/or discouraged at times, but those are very momentary, and I'm surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who are eager to sharpen and encourage me back into the action. So in a sense, I still want to do more even though I am satisfied. I could die a happy man (assuming my family would be taken care of). That just means that all the work I do from now on is not to attain my ultimate satisfaction. I already have it. Now I work BECAUSE it's so satisfying. I love my job, even when it's really hard, and I know it matters more than anything else that I could have tried to do--especially cuz I'm not really good at anything outside of what I do.
                If there were one accomplishment that I could have to add to my list of things I'm grateful for, it would be to plant a church and grow it to be a beacon of biblical truth, sincere transformation, and worldwide impact. I would hope for a ministry that looks to raise the right future--not just patch up the problems of the present--and uses every means possible to engage the contemporary audience of our society. That means ministering via multimedia, internet, and social networking to bring people to an understanding of sound doctrine and genuine repentance and trust in Christ. It's basically a dream to do exactly what I'm doing now, just on a slightly more diverse scale.

Why did you choose to attend Talbot?

                I chose Talbot mostly because it's the best.   But here are some other reasons, in order of least to most significant to me:

1) I didn't want to move away from home in order to attend school since I was intending to marry Christine. That would be very inconvenient if I were gone for 4 years in some other state. Talbot was a 35-minute drive away, which was not too far to commute.

2) I wanted to avoid any seminary that was characterized by unhealthy extremes of theology. To be clear, I think Christianity is extremist in its staunch position against sin and full pursuit of righteousness despite public ridicule, persecution, or political climate. So when I say "unhealthy extremes of theology," I mean positions in theology that are stretched beyond what the original intent of the Bible had asserted. 

3) At UCLA I was involved with a campus ministry that had a guest speaker every single week, which means I met 30 pastors each year for 4 years. Having met so many pastors and watched their ministry and heard of their congregations' compliments and complaints about each one, I started to find a pattern that pastors that came from Talbot were well-trained in just about every area of ministry. 

                Other seminaries I considered were Master's Seminary (for its intense emphasis on biblical Greek exposition) and Westminster Seminary (because every pastor who came from there loved it). I really wanted to go to Dallas Theological Seminary, but I didn't because I didn't want to move (as mentioned above) and for some reason I didn't want to be in Dallas. I think it's because I fear travelling.

                Ultimately I chose to go to Talbot because the men I honestly respect the most came from there. This includes Pastor David Rim (now a professor at Moody Seminary in Chicago), Pastor Gene Kim (now a pastor in Maryland), and Pastor Sam Thomsic (founder and vision pastor of Step-Off Ministry, also the pastor who I had the honor of having officiate my wedding).

 

Do you believe that you will go to heaven?

                Of course. It's impossible not to. My life belongs to Jesus. He is my Lord. He lived a perfect life, died an undeserved death, and imparted that death to pay the penalty for my sin because I have resolved to deny myself and follow Him to my dying day. I know that His blood is more powerful than anything on earth or in hell, and no body and no spirit can come close to almost barely plucking me from the destiny He set before me. The proof of that is the life I live, as I display a growing pattern of worship, obedience, and prayer. That's how YOU can know that I'm going to heaven, and if it's true of you, then it's how you can know that YOU are going to heaven too.

 

Were you ever persecuted?

                I have never been persecuted beyond verbal accusation.  The most I've ever had to suffer for my faith from someone else is by ridicule, antagonistic questioning, or blatant disregard and disapproval.

                I'm very thankful for the freedom I have to worship God with the legal protection from our government to do so, but I know that suffering is actually very healthy for the church, as it weeds out those who pursue God sincerely from those who come to church just to hang out with friends.   If a day comes where I would have to suffer for Christ physically at the hands of someone else, I hope I could endure it and respond to it in the same fashion as Christ's apostles did in Acts 5:40-41.

 

What do you think of A Case for Christ?

                I like that book (except the amount of attention on the Jesus Seminar, because that's really outdated and no longer a popular social concern--I skip those parts, and I think they've been removed from more recent editions). I think Strobel likes dramatizing the interviews a lot, which of course adds to their interest value, but to me it stalls from getting to the information that I want. Then again, I don't really read to be entertained. I just want to absorb knowledge, so I'm in a minority group on that.  I keep that book on my list of recommended readings though, so that should give you some grounding on my opinion of it. He was very careful in picking solid, extremely reliable sources for his interviews.

Did you change any of these Q&A answers while sorting through them?  Which and why? 

I didn't change any answers to say something that disagreed with the original answers. I made the following changes:
                1) I combined similar questions into one and then combined all the distinct parts of their answers.
                2) I corrected spelling and grammar to fit the more formal style of the compilation.
                3) I removed questions that were strictly toward me personally (like questions about why I like Superman). Those will eventually be released on my website at a later date, but I don't think anyone really cares so I did those last.
                4) I tried to dilute some of the vocabulary and phrasing that some students found difficult.
                5) I formatted questions with numerated and itemized responses for clarity.
                6) I rephrased any responses that may have felt abrasive to the reader who is unfamiliar with my manner of speaking.
                7) I rephrased questions in which the responses have been shortened so as to ensure that the question only dealt with the content of the response, and did not have a hanging clause that asked about something that was edited out (usually personal questions).
                8) I separated multiple-item inquiries into individual questions and treated them as such. Some questions were left together as a single unit because they fit together contextually.
                9) I removed most personal names.
                10) I corrected spelling and grammar in the questions to protect the inquirer and also to maintain a more formal presentation to the documents.
                This should explain why it took so long to complete the work, but I hope the revisions have only made things more convenient and clear even when it is less personally-styled.

 

Do you sometimes choose not to reply to certain questions if, for example, they are just from Christian-haters and use a lot of profanity?

                No, I reply to everything. I haven't encountered a really hateful question yet, and I hope I never will, but if that day comes, I'll probably try to make a wise decision on whether or not to and how to respond.  Lots of different people seem to come to this forum, and I don't even know how broad the age range is. It would be irresponsible of me to post a question that, in its wording or phrasing, might offend or hurt some other reader, regardless of the answer. The way a person asks about sensitive subjects (such as abuse, for instance) is a factor I consider. This forum is meant to be a ministry, not a place to show off how much I know. The moment I start putting the program over the people who this is for, I've lost the focus of my mission and calling.

 

If you were given the opportunity to give a single sermon (80 minutes max) to everyone in the whole world, what would you preach on? At your current church, if you knew that this Sunday was going to be your last sermon, what would you preach to the body?

                If I could preach a single sermon to the whole world, I would start in Genesis and end in Revelation and lay out the entire narrative of the Bible with no assumption that anyone has ever heard of God or of Jesus. I would refer to those stories, but I wouldn't name books and chapters and verses. I'd put every second of attention into connecting the history of man to the reality of God. The application would be a call to re-evaluate our purpose and our direction and where we place our hope. I'd probably close in a very simple prayer for those who have ears, to let them hear.
                When the day comes for me to give my last sermon at Seven Mile Ministries, I am going to preach on the God-centeredness (not the pastor-centeredness) of leadership and church. The power is in the ministry, not the man. It's the Holy Spirit who enables us to do great things, and if my students continue to pursue God through obedience to His Word, then God is glorified in them and in me. It's very likely that I would also make side-reference to Acts 20:25-36 where Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian elders, and they all weep together. That bittersweet goodbye is a thing of beauty, and I would hope that I would love the church and the church would love me enough to share the same kind of affections.

 

Do YOU ever doubt? If so, how do you deal with it?

                I used to doubt a lot. That's actually what led me to faith. My doubt led me to ask questions and figure things out, instead of becoming my excuse to not try anymore.  I never examined my peers to figure out my faith. I figured, if I wanted to learn biology, I'd go to a biology expert (like a teacher). So if I want to learn faith, I'd go to the faith experts (like my teachers/leaders and pastors). I started watching their lives, seeing if God really did provide for them, or if they really did find joy in Christ, or if they really did repent over sin. Those kinds of questions helped me discover that there's ageless wisdom in the Bible and profound mystery in God's power. I saw lives that were drastically transformed and prayers that were undoubtedly answered by the hand of God.
                These days I don't doubt the reality of God. Not anymore. Once you start really living this stuff out, you just realize how true it is.  If there's any doubt that I still struggle with, it's "Churchianity." I'm constantly questioning the wisdom and value of church traditions and trends--especially in the Asian American churches, since that's the center of my calling. 
                I approach every Christian author's book I read with doubt, inspecting his claims and seeing if I think it honestly squares with God's Word. I regard charismatic movements (tongues, prophecy, healing) with extreme caution in case it veers off from biblical instruction on those matters. I listen to every sermon with a relentless hermeneutical filter that almost entirely ignores delivery and polish and pays attention only to content.
                I operate under the assumption that false teaching is creeping around in every opportunity it gets, and so I don't let myself simply trust something/someone because it seems Christian. I always take it back to the Scriptures to see if it's true. That's the best way I can "be Berean" (Acts 17:11) about it, and to inspect everything and hold on to the good and avoid any evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

 

When do you pray?  How many hours?

                I pray throughout the day, usually while doing stuff (walking, driving, washing dishes, etc.) and sometimes while doing nothing but sitting with my hands folded and eyes closed. If I'm praying while doing stuff, it's almost always silent. If I'm praying while doing nothing else, it's almost always out loud. Sometimes I also turn on worship music too, just to pray the lyrics out to remind me of their convictions.
                I pray before I eat, I pray at my desk when I work, and I pray at night with my family before my son goes to sleep. I haven't timed it all, especially since some days I'll pray more than others and it's hard to keep track of how long you're thoughts are in conversation with God. Something seems rather pharisaical about doing that...

Do you regret any answers you've given on this forum?

                Haha, no. I don't regret any of my answers as if I'd want to take them back. There are questions that I wish I could add more to. But then I'm always trying to make my answers shorter because students always remark about how my responses are like essays.

 

RECREATION

What do pastors do during the week?

                Hm. Lots of behind-the-scenes work. Here's a rundown of my schedule with approximated durations.

0) SERVICES (6 hrs, 4.5 hrs).  Fridays start at 4pm for me--because of band practice or other administrative responsibilities, and the occasional preaching for our orchestra--and finish around 10pm. Sundays start at 11am and run till 3:30pm.

1) SUNDAY SERMON PREPARATION (20 hrs).  This includes study of the book, study of the passage, research of the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek), reference to commentaries (Expositor's, NIVAC, NIVBC, Zondervan BC), homiletical organization, contextual application, and song selection.

2) FRIDAY BIBLE STUDY PREPARATION (5 hrs).  Because I originally-author most of our Bible study lessons, this usually takes around 5 hours per lesson. Some have taken up to 10, some have taken as little as 2. Currently we're working through a published series called "Knowing Scripture" which is 6-lessons in length. Prepping those takes about 1 hour of editing and rewriting or supplementation for my team's preparatory notes.

3) FOOTSTEPS PREPARATION (1 hr).  Preparing for our "Footsteps" program involves writing comprehensive quizzes for each week's daily Bible reading from the Old Testament.

4) PATHWAY (3 hrs, 2.5 hrs).  Preparing for my staff "Pathway" program involves about 30 minutes a day except Sundays. We meet for 5 hours every other Sunday, which averages 2.5 hours a week, though it's really just 5 hours every other week.

5) PASTORS' MEETING (7 hrs).  Every Tuesday I meet with the pastors of Irvine Baptist Church from 5:30am to 12:30pm to discuss administration, financing, programming, and evaluation.

6) MISCELLANY (around 5 hrs).  The rest of my responsibilities fall on planning ahead for major programs (revivals, retreats, missions, holidays, etc.). I also direct an alliance of youth groups called Second Nature, which involves 9 pastors right now. I maintain a website to resource my materials (sermons, lessons, etc.) to my disciples who are outside of my church and a few that are overseas. I'm also currently developing a video ministry to make internet movies with Seven Mile.  Beyond that stuff is the really fun stuff, which is hanging out with students, praying for each of these aspects of the ministry, and even helping out in the tutoring program on Wednesday nights at church.

                The given hours above are sometimes consolidated by doing two things at once (such as prepping Footsteps stuff during some downtime on my Tuesday Pastor's meetings). That gives a pretty good outline of my life. Thankfully, God has given me plenty of time to spend with my staff and students. I never really feel like I'm short on time or energy with them, since they're the joy and satisfaction that I have in doing what I do.

 

What do you do when you're bored?

When I'm bored, I do any of the following:

1) Work on developing a role-playing game. This has been my hobby since 1990.

2) Watch a movie. I'm a big fan of superheroes, so a lot of times I watch an old movie that I own or stream something from my Netflix account.

3) Think of different video projects I'd like to produce. I used to be heavily involved with independent film, but now it's more like a side hobby for ministry stuff. 

                I don't really get to participate in any of these things anymore since I'm married and have a kid. They kind of fade out of my mind since my time is more engaged with family, but I'm sure when my son is older and going to school, I'll be able revisiting them more frequently.

 

What is the most important physical object in your life?

                My "effects."  That's my set of personal apparel that helps me feel like me in uncomfortable situations (like in groups of strangers or out in crowded public areas or in fancy restaurants). These are some of the following things that are included in my personal effects:

1) My "cloak" which is any of my 3 trenchcoats that most people see me wearing. One is grey, one is heavy leather, and one is black. This has also been referred to as my "cloak of shadows," "cape of sorrows," or my "shroud of darkness." I value my cloak because it gives me a secure feeling of separation from my environment. I wear it around my arms like a blanket, without using sleeves, so that I'm completely encompassed in it. Some kids never grow out of their baby blanket. I think this might be kind of related to that. It's also connected to my deep love for superheroes (capes) and vampires (black) and medieval fantasy (cloaks).

2) My "suit," comprised of a black Calvin Klein t-shirt and black pants (usually jeans). I have 4 of these, and I wear them on every occasion when I preach a formal sermon. Alternative suits include varying brands of shirts (Geoffrey Beene, Van Heusen, Wal Mart) and jeans (brand is unimportant for jeans, as long as they're comfortable). Staying in all black has prevented me from being the fashion emergency that I really am. Black matches with everything, is a slimming color, is appropriate as a formal color, and has an air of mystery or fascination. Having a suit has made more of a predictable and familiar element for people to get to know me, which is good and convenient.

3) My "insignia" is my belt buckle which sports a black Superman "S."

4) My "tag" is any of my 5 metal necklace dogtags. One is a Superman "S," another displays a metal cross, and the rest are different Bible verses that have significantly convicted me as a follower of Christ.

5) My "utility belt" which has not been used in some time due to irreparable damage and lack of a suitable replacement. I search for a new utility belt every Wednesday on the internet. I haven't found one that fits my taste in the past 5 years.

6) My "multi-tool," which is really just a variant of a swiss army knife.

                All of these components are on my person as a single set (with the exception of my broken utility belt), and so I think it's fair to say they can be treated as one object. If I had to pick a favorite out of them, though, it would be my suit, simply because it's the biggest and most noticeable to me when I'm out of it.

 

Are you a Mac or a PC guy?

                I'm a PC guy. At first it was because I didn't like how Apple didn't have as many games on it, and then it was my mild frustration with the lack of a right-click. But now I have over $1500 worth of software that I use for studying and church work, and they don't work on macs. I suppose I could get a Windows emulator to run them on a mac, but why get a mac if I just want to turn it into a PC?
                These days I suspect that Google is on its rise to take over the world, and I really like the fact that their innovations are FREE for the world, as opposed to Apple's tendency to charge triple the price for equivalent specs on their devices compared to others. For this reason alone I think I'm going to stay a PC guy for a while.

 

What are you favorite books and movies?

BOOKS:

                Bible Book: Matthew, John.

                Christian Book: The Gospel According to Jesus (John MacArthur), Desiring God (John Piper), A Fragile Stone (Michael Card).

                Fiction Novel: Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Ender's Game.

MOVIES:
                Action: Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

                Animated: How to Train Your Dragon.

                Comedy: The Three Amigos.

                Comic Book: The Incredible Hulk.

                Drama: The Karate Kid II.

                Epic: The Last Samurai.

                Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

                Family: Hook.

                Horror: The Sixth Sense.

                Martial Arts: Rumble in the Bronx.

                Monster: Godzilla.

                Musical: A Muppet Christmas Carol.

                Romance: None (or The Princess Bride).

                Science Fiction: Serenity.

                Thriller: The Bourne Ultimatum.

 

Any book recommendations for a teen?

                Book of the Bible: Genesis and Matthew. One from each Testament. They both lay out some of the major stuff you need to know if you want to understand God and Jesus and truth and salvation.

                Christian Book: More Than a Carpenter. It's short and simple with some seriously powerful information to know about Jesus. Also read The Case of Christ.

                Secular Novel: I love the Dragonlance Chronicles. They had a huge influence on my personality in my teen years. Some of that influence I had to repent of though--for instance, I don't have quite the fascination with the practice of magic and mysticism as I used to.

                Comic Book: It should be obvious that I put this category in on purpose because I wanted to answer it--not as if I thought you were really asking me about this. I used to recommend Hulk comics, but now I think Garfield is better. He never gets old, man. Honestly, one day I hope to own EVERY Garfield book ever. Currently I own one.

 

What's a good study plan for someone who wants an overview of the Bible with a good amount of information?

                There's a Bible from Zondervan called the NIV Student Bible. Inside it is a reading plan to get a broad overview of the entire Bible within 6 months. I think it's one of the best reading plans I've seen so far. It has the reader go through certain chapters of each book that represent the book's themes and intents clearly. Then that Bible also supplies the reading with little notes at the bottom for historical-contextual clarification and life applications. Even now, after about 10 years of ministry, I still use it as a resource that I frequently look at.

 

What are some of your favorite Christian music (songs and artists)?

Music appeals to me almost entirely for its lyrical content. Melody and rhythm only matter to me if I'm first compelled by the words of the song.   Here are the artists that I like:

Steven Curtis Chapman

Audio Adrenaline

Matthew West

Mercy Me

Newsboys

Phillips, Crag, & Dean

Rich Mullins

                That's a list of artists who have consistently caught my interest, but there are a lot more individual songs by different artists that have also been very meaningful to me.

 

What's your favorite conspiracy theory?

Korean fan death.

 

Who are your Super Smash Bros. rivals?

                If by "rivals" you mean persons whom I frequently battle, then the answer would be Reggae, Q-Tip, and Smeagol, in that order.  If by "rivals" you mean persons of equal or better proficiency in Super Smash Bros than myself, then the answer is NO ONE. No one is my rival. Not even one. Face.

 

Since when did black become your favorite color?

                I've liked black since I was a kid.   In a cartoon called Voltron (similar to Power Rangers), I liked the leader who had a black-colored lion (similar to a Zord).  I had a pair of black jeans that I wore all the time in 4th grade.  I liked Batman, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles. I liked them cuz they were cool, but they all happened to share a pattern of darkness and night. I didn't like them intentionally for that reason, but the pattern seems significant.  I got really interested in the undead, like vampires and skeletons, and magic, and the occult.  Black and darkness and night have all been very characteristic of things that I was drawn too.

                But I also have an equal fascination with great strength: Superman, Godzilla, Hulk, Samson...  These all appealed to me in the beginning because of their great strength. Green also became my second favorite color because of Godzilla and the Hulk.

                On a tangent: I've always been drawn to lonely characters. Superman, Godzilla, Hulk, Batman, etc. I always felt an emotional connection to their isolation--I still don't know why, since my life is very different from theirs. But there is at least a small sense of empathy for persons who are built to be protectors and yet forever don't fit in with the people they protect.

 

Why do you like Superman?

                Out of all the superheroes that have ever been created, Superman is the most like Jesus in power, virtue, and purpose.

 

Which fictional character do you most identify with?

                Without a doubt, I identify most with the Batman.  He's a warrior by nature, motivated from outrage at the injustice of the world, honing his intellect and keen senses to direct his efforts strategically for his effectiveness. He is a deep well of emotion, but always bridled under the control of his will. He is a lover of knowledge, a detective for truth, and a symbol of strength for the weak and terror for the wicked.  Even in those versions of Batman where he has Robin, I see in him a desire to propagate his mission in grooming a protégé to carry the torch.
                All of that stuff appeals to me about him, and I find that I frequently project my own self-image into a very similar scheme. Even as a pastor, I've never identified myself as primarily a counseling type, or administrative type. I'm a visionary with aims to change the world around me. I'm motivated often in reaction to the biblical inerrancy of the Church around me or to the complacency and/or hypocrisy of its members. That outrage doesn't compel me to be cruel, but to be strategic in order to design an effective and appropriate solution. I feel the whole spectrum of emotions about the world around me, but I don't often let it derail me from principled action--at least I hope that sentence is true. I love knowledge, I am always inspecting for truth, and I have found that I inspire the weak of heart but unsettle the proud in spirit. Then again, it may be that I just unsettle everyone. :\  But there's no doubt that I have a desire to propagate my mission by raising up a new generation of pastors to purge the Church of its infections of the pulpit. 
                In these ways I feel a deep and familiar sense of obsession with my goal; one that not only defines my purpose, but comprises the very definition of myself. I don't think anyone can understand Bruce Wayne without understanding his need to be Batman, and I don't think anyone can understand me without understanding my drive to do what I do.  After all that, I'm sure the dark cloak also has something to do with it.

 

If Batman is the fictional hero you most identify with, who's the fictional villain you most identify with?

                Okay, I'm gonna go with a more contemporary pick: Loki.  Compared to hero of the movie (Thor), I actually liked Loki better, found his personality more believable, and felt like he made more sense as a whole.
                Loki grew up with Thor and I don't recall any indication given as to who was the older brother, but it seems like they were basically twins. But Loki is smarter. He lacks the physical prowess of Thor, but he's not weak in any sense. You see him handle the frost giants of Jotunheim just as aptly and courageously as Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three. He knows not only how to fight, but he's a master of magic. Even in the final fight at the end, Loki and Thor stand-off in a relative stalemate because they are equal in power, except Thor has a legendary hammer. What does Loki do? He outsmarts Thor by way of illusion, turning the hero's own hubris against him.
                And it turns out Loki didn't want to destroy Asgard. He didn't want to destroy Jotunheim either. He simply wanted to prove to his father what was already true: he was a superior ruler. And given that Loki was that clever from the beginning of the movie, and Thor is only wiser by the end of the movie, it actually turns out that when Odin chose Thor to rule Asgard, he chose the wrong guy. He actually admits it when he's banishing Thor to earth with the purpose of having him wise up and become worthy of the rulership. 
                So both Loki and Thor were unworthy of the throne, but Thor was more so at the time that Odin was choosing his successor. And Thor was filled with the ambition to forge his own legacy, while Loki was only trying to prove his true worth to his father. Even after he finds out that his whole life is a lie, he is a frost giant, he was never intended to rule, etc., he STILL continues with his plan to prove to Odin that he's loyal and capable. He even kills his biological father (Laufi, the king of the frost giants) to do so.
                Sadly, even when he tells Odin that he was doing everything for him, Odin simply says, "No, Loki." Straight up shuts him down. There's no moment where Odin tries to teach him the error of his ways. He just turns him away.
                Of all the super-villains presented in the recent comic book movies, I'm going to have to stand by Loki. Even now, I think I root for him more than I root for Thor or Iron Man (but not as much as Hulk). I actually want him to win more than I want them to win, mostly because I feel like I understand how frustrating it is to be more qualified for a job than someone else, but have to watch that person receive honors simply because he's more popular.

Which superhero has the best secret identity?

                In terms of being truly undetectable, it would have to be Captain Marvel (from DC Comics, not Marvel). He says, "Shazam" and instantly transforms into a little boy named Billy Batson. There's no way anyone could have guessed that. That secret identity is almost like cheating, actually, because it's not really a secret identity--it's more like an ALTERNATE identity. After all, Billy Batson is just the host for Captain Marvel who is an entirely different being.
                But if you're looking for which superhero's secret identity is so good that you go, "Oh dude, I can't believe I missed that!" the answer is definitely...Wonder Woman. Do you know what she does to disguise herself? She changes out of her Wonder Woman costume. That's it. Sometimes she wears glasses or ties her hair back, but really the only difference is she changes her clothes.
                Superman at least changed his personality. He wore glasses, did his hair different, hunched a bit, and put on a convincing nerd act. When Wonder Woman goes into disguise, there's no veritable change in her at all except her outfit. That's pretty darn amazing. How in the world does she get away with that? How do people not look at her and go, "Wait a sec! I know her! That's Wonder Woman, except she's not in uniform!"? The answer: when she's in her outfit, apparently nobody is staring at her face. :(

 

How do you have time to answer all these questions?

                Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I do. I answer these questions in my free time.  

                This site was first used for fun because someone recommended it for me, but then one person asked a theological question. I answered it, and then after that, it's almost been non-stop questions of biblically-related material. I didn't know how to feel about that at first, since answering questions in person is always faster and clearer, but the more I learn about how widespread this material is becoming, the more I see it as another way I can teach God's Word through a modern method of communication. Not only that, but since I teach high school, every year I get the same questions all over again from the new students that come in to my ministry. Having this site makes it easy to answer each question once, and then just refer people to those answers if the questions are ever asked again. Costs a lot of time now, but pays off later. :)

 

Do you answer every question you receive?

                Almost.  A lot of these questions are really sophisticated, so I can't answer them very quickly. I generally set aside around 30 minutes to address the bigger ones, trying my best to be biblical, relevant, interesting, and clear. It's important to me to place biblical references (book, chapter, verse) for every major assertion, so that there's no question about where the answer is really coming from. If you didn't receive an answer, I probably haven't had the uninterrupted time to get to it, but I will. 

                I generally skip questions that I have already answered, that is, if there is a previous question that is very similar. Some questions are just intended to be dumb, like the one I received the other day that just said, "Are you hungry?" Those make me laugh, but I don't end up responding or posting them. I'm sure no one's worldview is shaken by the lack of response. Others are silly, but sincere, like that question about what my greatest fear is for my son. I received that question early on, and many times thereafter from several other sources (I'm assuming). I answered it the first time and deleted the rest.

                So besides the ones I delete due to redundancy or those that are intentionally pointless, I answer every single one. It usually takes me a week to get to each, but sometimes I'll answer the short ones first.

  

What's your favorite type of cookie?

                Fortune. Or chocolate chip. I wish they could combine them.  Chocolate fortune chip.

 

Why do you only wear black?

                Black matches with everything, is a slimming color, is appropriate as a formal color, and has an air of mystery or fascination. Those are some of the reasons, but the big one is really just because I like the color. In general, I'm a fashion emergency with very poor sense of style and matching colors in my outfit. Wearing the same thing everyday has helped me to eliminate at least one stressful decision from my regular routine.

 

What would it take for you to start exercising on a daily basis?  You may reply with sarcasm but in the end I would like an honest answer, please.

                It would take:

                1) no financial cost, no monthly fees (so that rules out gyms).

                2) good company (so that rules out exercising by myself).

                3) mental stimulation, freedom to think about work or Aeda (so that rules out exercise that requires mental focus).

                4) flexible scheduling, since my hours are different every day (so that rules out any iterative appointments or time slots).

                The combination of these things does not exist. Therefore, I do not work out. :)  There are, however, phases that I go through where I do feel like exercising.  Those generally don't last long though.

Androids vs iPhones?

                Android.  This has a lot to do with the 4G network, which will soon be available to iPhone, no doubt. But I'm a fan of the variety and versatility of the Android market. It certainly makes greater availability of poor quality apps and features, but it also lends itself to helping promote more and greater quality resources as well, and most of them are free.  I also enjoy lower prices, more choices, and universal connections over Apple's over-pricing, app monopolizing, and proprietary connections.

 

What did you do for fun as a teenager? What do you do for fun now?

                As a teenager:

1) Watched movies.

2) Developed and played a table-top role-playing game.

3) Spent nights by myself taking walks.

4) Practiced stunts and martial arts choreography.

                Now:

Everything except number 4. :(

 

 

JUST FOR FUN 

I think I'm stumbling all of the ladies at my church because of my dashing good looks and irresistible charm. What should I do?

                From the sound of it, the best thing to do is have all your closest friends start taking pictures of you while you're sleeping, pooping, and playing video games. That's when you make the most unattractive faces. Then change your Facebook profile picture to those pics, rotating them on a weekly basis. Get braces--the kind with rainbow rubber bands on each of the brackets. Stop washing your face, but instead it wipe it down with french fries before bed every night. Grow your hair for 6 months and then get a perm.  This will solve your problem. I promise.

 

If the Kryptonians were capable of long term space travel, why was their entire race pretty much annihilated when their planet exploded?

                Haven't you any idea how AWESOME the weather was on Krypton? It was a red sun, man. A red sun.

 

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

                Your question involves the presumption that a woodchuck can hypothetically do what it realistically cannot--for woodchucks cannot chuck wood. Therefore, if we are expected to accept the premise of your question, then there is now a suspension of disbelief, and reality or logic don't become strong or credible sources of argumentation to arrive at a particular conclusion. Since we're okay with accepting unreality, then the answer to the question does not have to be realistic. Hence, if a woodchuck could chuck wood, then it would chuck as much wood as any inquisitor felt would be an appropriate and desirable answer for the purpose of his own question.