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It’s that time of year again when I get guilt-tripped into supporting people for short-term missions (STM). This year, I might just say no. Call me tight-fisted, and you’re right – I am being tight-fisted. But it’s out of anger that I’m tight-fisted, and not because of stinginess.

Over the years, I’ve become more jaded about the effectiveness of STMs. We spend exorbitant amounts of money for transportation, insurance, and room & board to send a team to a local (exotic) church for a week or two, money which alone could have supported that local church/ministry for years. We put on puppet shows, take the obligatory photos of being surrounded by lots of local kids (if you can hold a baby, that’s even better), make sure we collect hundreds of professions of faith at some evangelistic finale on the last night, and promise to pray for the new believers as we take off for our “decompression period” – a three-day stay at a local resort. While we think we have done good, we have actually violated basic principles of poverty-alleviation and created long-term harm. Read More »

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anonymous

Recently, my manhood was put to question. Pastor Eugene Cho, in so many words, insinuated that I was cowardly for not “coming out” and disclosing my real identity.

I suppose his point – that cowards like to hide in the www – does have some validity. There are many cowardly bloggers who are “mighty in word but meek in real life.” They rant and rave in blissful anonymity, while in real life they are probably repressed, mousy losers. As Mark Driscoll puts it, they are often unemployed 30 year-old dudes still living with a mother who cooks and does laundry for them.

In fact, I have considered coming out many a time (but not for the above reasons!). Tim Challies has an interesting blog about how full-disclosure (in the www) is next to godliness. But I’ve decided to remain anonymous for a number of reasons – godly reasons, in fact.

Here are some good reasons why anonymity is sometimes the right place to be: Read More »

Last week, I took my mid-term Greek exam. As the professor handed out the exams, the air was thick with stress and tension. My pencil was slick with sweat. After the professor wished us good luck, he told us he’d be back in about forty minutes to collect the exams. And he walked out.

About five minutes later, that’s when the cheating began. The girl seated at the very back of the classroom behind me (the laziest student I’ve ever encountered, never did the assignments, feigning headaches, busy-ness, and even the I-left-my-book-at-home excuse) began to shuffle papers. I heard all this: rustle rustle rustle. I also heard books being open, pages turned, more papers being pulled out. Strange behavior indeed, especially since the exam was not open-book. She was quiet as she could be about it, but since I was sitting in front of her, I knew exactly what she was up to. Read More »

 

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Ask any committed Asian American female Christian what she’s looking for in a potential husband, chances are she’ll say something like: he’s got to be a Christian.  And I don’t mean just any kind of Christian.  He’s gotta be the real deal, have Christ really be the center of his life.  His spirituality has got to be his core, not just window dressing . . . etc. etc.

 

To which I say: baloney.  Truth is, while AA Christian women may want a guy who’s got all the accoutrements of religion, they don’t really want a guy who’s all-out for God.  Specifically, Christian women are scared off by SMIMs – Single Men in Ministry. Read More »

  • I confess that my faith has been reduced to going through the motions. Go to church on Sunday. Smile. Lift hands. Sing. Smile. Say goodbye.
  • I confess that I pray about five minutes a week.
  • I confess that when I look at the kids in the youth group, at how emotionally they worship, at how emotionally they express their devotion to God, at how emotionally they seek God’s will, I inwardly smile. For I confess that I think them naive, idealistic, and that their religious enthusiasm is just a stage in life. It’ll pass.
  • I confess that even though I say there is no higher calling than the pastorate/ministry vocation, I inwardly hope my children go to Yale Law School, and not Gordon-Conwell Seminary. I will feel affirmed if they become doctors and lawyers; I will feel disappointment if they attend seminary.
  • I confess that I do not like watching body worship.
  • I confess that I look down on youth pastors. I think of them as academic failures, people unable to get real jobs in the real world. Mostly, I think of them as glorified baby-sitters. They also make very easy targets, and I blame them for all the shortcomings of my children. Somebody has to take the blame, and it sure ain’t gonna be me. Read More »

There is one kind of “sharing” which makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.

While I am sure it happens across all demographic groups, it seems especially prevalent among Asian American college students.  Tell me if you’ve been there yourself:

It’s sharing time.  Perhaps it’s the weekly college fellowship meeting, or it’s the annual college fellowship retreat and everyone is gathered around a campfire, sitting silently, waiting for someone to break the ice and start sharing.  After awhile, an intrepid soul stands up, shares.   Then another.  And invariably, there will be some guy or gal who stands up to share and you just know what’s coming next.

He doesn’t want to share this, he says by way of introduction, with firelight dancing dramatically across his somber face, but God really wants him to share.  God has been teaching him a lesson this year, a lesson about . . . (drum roll please) . . . pride.  Pride over his grades, pride over his achievements, pride over other things, too (read: looks, popularity, athleticism, ability to come off as spiritual). Read More »



Dear Tim:

Let me just say it: you’re my hero.

Of course, you already know this. The same way that you must know there are thousands of people just like me who, notwithstanding your sermons about idolatry, idolize you. It’s not because of your looks, which seem to be a rough cross between Homer Simpson and Terry O’Quinn. Nor is it because of your annoying habit of lifting your pinkie finger in the air as you preach.

You’re my hero because, quite simply, you are the only preacher I can listen to these days. The only person who can break down the gospel into bite-size portions while still inspiring, challenging, and motivating a staid heart soaked in cynicism. Your sermons constantly tease, surprise, inspire, challenge, and illuminate. So different from the other big-names out there – the Pipers, the MacArthurs – who are either dogmatically simplistic or simply dogmatic in their predictable sermons.

Moreover, you have planted an amazingly successful church in arguably the most influential city in the world. Because of you, literally thousands of yuppies who either would never have been caught dead in a church or who would have eventually dropped out, have come, listened, and been transformed. Redeemer is an incredible church among the movers and shakers not just of the city, but of the world. Only heaven will reveal the full impact of your work and church.

And yet I hold this against you: you have not chosen a successor. Read More »

It’s a match made in heaven.

On one side: a pastor who finds neither acceptance from the secular world (which shunts pastors as irrelevant) nor appreciation from his own underpaying church (which makes incessant, meddlesome demands).  He flits from church to church, poor and generally not respected.  Thus, he needs respect and money and position.

 

On the other side: floundering seminaries struggling to stay financially afloat in a world of tight budgets and harsher spreadsheets.  These seminaries accept (almost indiscriminately) anyone willing to put down the tuition money, no matter what their moral or intellectual character. The cost, after all, of running a seminary is prohibitive.  Thus it needs students, students, students. 

 

Welcome to the Doctor of Ministry degree. Read More »

Today, at seminaries across the country, thousands of first-years begin their pursuit of the Master of Divinity degree.  In three years, and about $50,000 later, most will graduate indebt and unproven as church pastors.  Five years later, 80% will have left the ministry.  Of those who remain, half will battle incompetence and depression, but will stay in ministry because they have no other vocational training.  A very optimistic estimate, therefore, is that out of twenty seminary freshman, only one will pan out as a competent pastor.  Nineteen out of twenty will not.

 

It seems like an awful waste of time, people, and money.

 

Perhaps it is time to rethink how we raise up future church pastors. Read More »

Dick is a very ordinary guy: pudgy, a little immature, hates his well-paying job.  Jane has run-of-the mill looks, a too-girly and over-used laugh, and wears black too often.  They are an equal fit, a symmetrical match, if you will: When Average met Common in church would be the title of their pedestrian love story.  That love story recently turned ugly – last week, Dick broke-up with Jane.

 

Now, I know that break-ups happen all the time in the church community.  Although break-ups can be painful and deeply damaging, they are also a necessary part of the Christian single’s life.  Break-ups are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, and sometimes they might even be “the right thing to do.”  Done right, breaking-up can even be a godly and holy act, just as much as courtship can be godly and holy. 

 

So I am not against breaking-up.  But what Dick did to Jane was despicable and an outright contradiction to everything this guy professes to believe.  No, he did not cheat on her.  Nor did he physically beat or emotionally abuse her.  What he did was date a girl when she was 23 years old, then continue to date her for the next … seven years. 

 

And then, he unceremoniously dumped her like a sack of old potatoes. Read More »