Tuesday, January 31, 2006

new blog!

I'm sorry I haven't updated in months. I've gotten so busy especially with the religious VP position.

I've got a new blog at blogbydee.com. And I've committed again to blogging consistently. Let's see how well I do this time :)

Actually, I've got 9 posts in 10 days, so I'm off to a good start. I hope you check out blogbydee.com regularly. Thanks for reading this blog.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Goodbye to an awesome friend

One of my best friends, Kendall, is dropping out of college.You can see some of his reasons for dropping out on his blog.

I don't know if I totally agree with his decision, and I feel that it's not really important for me to make up my mind on whether or not Kendall's decision is a good one. It's his life. He's different from me. He grew up differently from me. His financial, family, and shelter/house situation is unlike my situation. His life is different from mine. He sees life from a different perspective. It's not my place to tell him if this is a good decision or not. Also, college is not the magic potion to success and fulfillment. The Bible doesn't explicitly command, "Thou shalt go to college."

Anyways, he stopped by yesterday to say goodbye. I feel bittersweet about him leaving. He's excited and hopeful in his decision yet I know I'm going to miss him. We've spent five years here at Southwestern and made great memories.

Here's what so cool about Kendall.
  • He's a great listener. I think he actually enjoys listening to people. That's just cool. I struggle to listen to someone for a minute.
  • He's creative. He made me a cool birthday card a couple years ago.
  • He can sing on tune.
  • He lives one day at a time.
  • He likes board games.
  • He's laidback.
  • He's authentic and honest.
  • He's a great cook.
  • He's loyal to his friends.
  • He's smart.
  • He can design web pages.

Top five Kendall moments in college (IMHO, of course)

5. First Enchiladas - I can't cook but Kendall helped me make my first enchiladas. My first real dish. Something more difficult to make than spaghetti or peanut butter and jelly. I even made the enchilada sauce from scratch. I think most of our friends liked it because it was really cheesy.

4. Hobo Stew - Kendall maked hobo stew for a bunch of our friends. One of the girls commented while eating, "Kendall, you're ready to get married."

3. Prayer Walk - I was obsessed with this girl. I thought this girl liked me. One night, Kendall found out that she liked someone else. He knew I was going to be devastated when I found out, so he took a walk that night and prayed for me. I took the news pretty hard, but I know that his prayers that night helped me deal with the heartache. (I need to stop obsessing over girls).

2. Winter Water Fight - Fifty degree weather. Ended up with everyone in the pool. I wasn't there but Kendall tells this story with so much conviction, I feel like I missed out on a lot.

1. Breakfast in Bed - All the guys in our friendship circle got flowers on Valentine's Day. Later, Kendall and some others figured out that it was two of the girls in our friendship circle that sent the flowers. So, we decided to get them back. Gabe, one of our friends, wanted to throw them into the pool. I think he was kidding. We nixed that idea and decided to pay back good with good. On a lazy Sunday morning, Kendall and Gabe made an awesome breakfast and we brought it to the two girls in their dorm.

Kendall, I don't know when you'll get around to reading this, but I wish you the best there in Jefferson, Texas. Thanks for the crazy Southwestern memories. Much love and prayers to ya.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Preparing for the second coming

I was on the phone talking with one of my friends. She was confused with her career situation. She wants to pursue a job that helps people with their future. However, she has been influenced by one of her friends to believe that Jesus is coming really soon in a couple of years. So, my friend is having second thoughts about pursuing that job. She feels that if Jesus is coming in a couple of years, then she should not be helping others plan for a future that won't exist.

Her friend told her she was planting gardens now to prepare for the time of trouble that will occur right before Jesus' second coming. Now, I don't have anything against planting gardens to prepare for the last days' persecution. In fact, I'd love to have garden fruit and vegetables. I'm sure it would taste much better than Wal-Mart fruit and vegetables. However, I feel that our focus should not be on stockpiling food for the time of trouble.

How should we prepare for the second coming?

We should not isolate ourselves from culture and civilization. There may be a tendency among Adventists to live away from the world when we feel that the second coming is near. However, Jesus calls us to be sent by him into the world (John 17:18). Our witness to a dying, broken world hastens the Lord's coming (Matt. 24:14, 2 Peter 3: 9, 11, 12). If we think that the Lord is coming very soon, we should be urgent in our service and witness to the world.

We don't know when Jesus will come again (Matthew 24:36-37). He may come in our lifetime or he may not. God delays the second coming so that more people will have more opportunities to accept His free gift of salvation (2 Peter 3:15).

Also, our service and witness will actually prepare us to withstand the spiritual battles in the last days. As we serve others and witness to unbelievers, we will become more mature Christians who are able to fight sin and temptation more effectively. Notice what Ellen White wrote:

The persecution that came upon the church in Jerusalem resulted in giving a great impetus to the work of the gospel. Success had attended the ministry of the word in that place, and there was danger that the disciples would linger there too long, unmindful of the Saviour's commission to go to all the world. Forgetting that strength to resist evil is best gained by aggressive service, they began to think that they had no work so important as that of shielding the church in Jerusalem from the attacks of the enemy. Instead of educating the new converts to carry the gospel to those who had not heard it, they were in danger of taking a course that would lead all to be satisfied with what had been accomplished. (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 11, italics supplied)

(My friend, Scott, has some other things to say about preparing for the second coming).

Friday, April 22, 2005

Drums in the church!?

I am such a liberal. :)

I just finished leading song service for the Friday night program (vespers). It was an awesome experience. There's nothing quite like leading others to sing praises to the God of the universe.

It was the first time I led song service with drums and a bass guitar. It was so much fun. We were actually a real contemporary band.

Next school year, I hope to have drums and a bass guitar at every vespers. I think these instruments really speak the music culture of most college students. I feel that most of my peers listen to music that has both drums and a bass guitar. The foundation of the contemporary music sound is drums and bass.

I have one problem, though. The drummer and bass player that are really good have prior commitments at the same time as vespers. Vespers starts at 8:00pm, but they have another church program that they are involved with at 8:00pm, too. So, I'm hoping to convince my fellow leaders to change the vespers time to 7:30pm. Vespers begins with song service and lasts about 15-20 minutes. The drummer and bass player could play for song service and then leave before 8:00pm.

Will it be worth it to accommodate both musicians by changing the vespers time? I think so. First, the contemporary sound will speak to the audience. It's important to contextualize (1 Cor. 9:22-23) the Christian message. Also, the musicians and singers that want to help out with song service will have a great experience playing in a "real" band. I see the drummer and bass player as the studio musicians, and my job is to plug in different singers, pianists, guitarists, and other musicians to help out with song service. Imagine if you were a singer. Wouldn't it be neat to practice and perform with a live band?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

From skipping programs to organizing them

A couple days ago, I found out that my two friends who were elected student association (SA) religious VPs had resigned their positions. They decided not to come back next school year.

The rest of the SA officers appointed me and another student to fill their positions. I told the SA president that I would pray about whether or not to accept the position.

The SA religious VP position is basically an administrative office. Mostly organizing programs week in and week out.

I don't like programs and I don't like organizing programs. I would much rather interact in a small group discussion than hear a sermon. I have experience leading small groups. I like the spontaneous dialogue in small groups. I like sitting in a circle and seeing everyone's faces and wondering who is going to speak next. I like being near my friends and hearing them pray for others.

I don't like being up front except when leading song service. At least in song service, the audience is involved. I don't even like to preach. Preaching seems so impersonal and uninvolved. You speak for twenty minutes while everyone just sits there passively without speaking. And then afterwards, you wonder if anyone's life was changed.

Programs are so impersonal. Come, sit, maybe listen, go home.

And some people criticize spiritual programs as entertainment. I don't want to entertain. I want to involve students into Christianity.

When I moved off campus a couple of years ago, I stopped being required to go to spiritual programs. So, I stopped going to spiritual programs expect Sabbath morning church service. (I didn't want my friends to think that I gave up on church attendance. I didn't want to be a bad example).

So what did I do?

I took the position.


(1) I realize that many people draw close to God through a program. We've heard of people committing themselves to following Jesus after a powerful sermon. Also, many people want to explore the idea of following Jesus in an impersonal setting. They like the big crowd at vespers (Friday night program). They want to be unnoticed as they inwardly consider the gospel. These people probably won't join a small group.

(2) I think God wants me to serve out of my comfort zone, learn new skills, and gain some new experiences. I want to be a pastor and a big part of pastoring is organizing programs.

(3) The SA officers appointed me. They must be seeing something about me that I don't see.

(4) I have a chance to integrate large crowd programs, small groups, and personal ministry.

(5) Jesus and the apostles didn't just do small groups and personal ministry. They welcomed the crowds and preached the gospel to them. I'm trying to be more balanced. It's not about small groups vs. programs. It should be about small groups and programs working together to show Christ.

I can't skip programs anymore because I will be organizing them. God can be ironic sometimes.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I think I'm getting this preaching thing!

In my homiletics (preaching) class, we finally got to preach on our own topic instead of being assigned a text or topic. Therefore, I preached on something I really felt passionate about.

A quarter of my sermon grade is dependent on the evaluations of my classmates, so I was pretty happy when two of my classmates gave me a perfect score on this sermon. I had never gotten a perfect score in my previous four sermons.

I preached for twenty-two minutes when we're only supposed to preach for fifteen minutes max, so I'm still struggling to stay within the time limit.

Anyways, here's the outline. Enjoy.


Who here wants to pastor a healthy growing church?

Here's what you need to have that healthy growing church.
  • You need church members that are devoted to God.
  • You need church members who are studying the Bible everyday.
  • You need members who are praying everyday.
  • You need church members who are building supportive friendships with each other.
  • You need members who are witnessing in their neighborhood and in their workplace.
  • You need members who are serving in the community
But does the average Adventist church member do these things? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

So, you got a problem as a pastor.
Your church members most likely will not be reading their Bible, praying, or witnessing.
How will you affect those lifestyle changes in your members' lives?
What will you do to influence your members to change their lives?

Well, I'll preach on
  • daily Bible study
  • prayer
  • fellowship
  • evangelism
  • service

And... is that it?

Yes, you must preach practical sermons on daily practical Christian living.
But if you think that preaching alone should be the method for influencing your members to change, then you've missed the boat for what it means to be a Christian leader.
You're operating on a false principle. You're operating on a non-Biblical principle.
There must be something more than just preaching.

It's funny. You don't hear too much about discipleship.

Today's ministries
  • Preaching ministry
  • Healing ministry
  • Music ministry
  • Prayer ministry
  • Spiritual warfare ministry

You hear people say I have a ___________ ministry, but have you ever heard of anyone who has a discipleship ministry. Do you have a discipleship ministry?

Today I want to show you the reason you need to have a discipleship ministry, the principles behind discipleship, and illustrations of what a discipleship ministry might look like in this generation.

WHY? (you need to have a discipleship ministry)

So important. It's in the Great Commission.
Matt. 28:19-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Only one imperative in this awesome passage. Only one command.
"has been given" = not imperative
"go" = really a participle in the Greek
"baptizing" = participle
"teaching" = participle
"am" = not imperative

The only command, the only imperative is "make disciples." In Greek, it's one word, matheteusate. And the heart of this passage is that one word, a command to make disciples.

Why have a discipleship ministry?
Because in the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to make disciples.

PRINCIPLES (behind discipleship)

Principle #1. You must be a disciple.

To whom was the Great Commission given? Who did Christ command to make disciples? [Read Matt. 28:16-19]. Notice in verse 16 that Jesus gave this command to disciples. He did not give this command to non-disciples. And also when we get to Principle #2, you will see that it makes no sense to attempt to make disciples if you are not a disciple of Christ.

So, what does it mean to become a disciple?

The Bible says many things about being a disciple of Christ, but due to the lack of time, I just want to concentrate on one fundamental characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

Luke 14:27
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

If you write in your Bible, circle the word "follow."
A disciple follows Jesus.

[Tailgating illustration]
My old youth group - nights into town
Hey, follow that car!
To follow simply meant to tailgate the car and go where ever that car went

Think about the 12 disciples.
The word “follow” is to the twelve disciples was not a theoretical word. They took action to follow Jesus. They went where he went. They were beside him wherever he witnessed and did miracles. They had a front seat wherever he preached. Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. in his book Where Do We Go From Here observes that “[Jesus and his disciples] took trips, went fishing, visited Jerusalem, had cookouts by the sea. They camped in the mountains. They shared a common purse.”
The disciples were close to Jesus - both in proximity and in relationship.
Wherever Jesus was, they were there, too.
Like a chronic tailgater, the disciples followed Jesus closely.

Today, are we following Jesus closely, are we tailgating Jesus by
  • reading the Bible every day? (This book helps you draw near to Christ).
  • praying every day? (Ellen White wrote, "Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God"). .
  • building authentic relationships with other believers? Matt. 18:20 says, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
  • witnessing to unbelievers? Luke 15:4 says that Jesus is out in the world seeking His lost sheep. He's left the ninety-nine for the one lost sheep.
  • serving in the community especially the down-and-out and the suffering? Jesus said in Matt. 25:40, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." If you've served suffering humanity, you have indeed drawn close to Christ and followed him.

See, a disciple wants to stick close to Christ like white on rice. A disciple continually follows Christ. Are you where Christ wants you to be? Are you continually following Christ?

Principle #2. You must draw close to others.

Notice Mark 3:14-15, “He [Jesus] appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him...”
If you write in your Bible, circle those three words "be with him."
The Bible says in Mark 3:14 that Jesus appointed the twelve disciples that they might be with him.
Not that they might be taught by him.
Not that they might sit in pews and listen to sermons all day long.
But that they might be with him.
Jesus did not have a once-a-week discipleship class to train his disciples on witnessing.
He did not have a semester-long course on how to preach and heal the sick.
He did not give the disciples resources and books on prayer and Bible study.
Of course, Jesus taught them and preached to them.
But the most important thing was that he was with them.
The most important thing was that he was living in close relationship with them.

What’s the Biblical principle here? The Biblical principle is this.
Jesus’ life was the curriculum.
  • Jesus’ life was the best class you could ever take on witnessing.
  • Jesus’ life was the best book on evangelism ever written.
  • Jesus’ life was the best sermon on service you will ever hear.
  • Jesus' life was the best prayer seminar you could ever go to.
  • Jesus' life was the total, complete curriculum for true Christian living.
See, if you hung out with Jesus long enough, his life would make such an impact on you that you would begin to become more and more like him.

Consequently, if we are truly following Christ, if we are truly his disciple, our life becomes the best sermon we could ever preach. Our life becomes the best Christian living seminar we could ever teach. Our life literally becomes the best agent to influence our church members.

But like Jesus, we must draw close to others. As Jesus had close relationships with the 12 disciples, we too must have close relationships with our members. We must draw close to them.

Discipleship happens when the disciple's life collides with someone else's life.
Discipleship happens when the disciple’s life collides with someone else's life.

In discipleship paradigm, this is how you teach...
  • prayer (have seasons of prayer at your home)
  • Bible study (meet with members to memorize Scripture weekly)
  • service (take some of your members to prison ministry, take your members to feed the homeless)
  • fellowship (take elders with you whenever you visit the other members, mingle with the members at potluck, invite your members to supper at your home during the week)
  • evangelism (meet your members' co-workers and share your testimony, ask a church member to be with you as you give a Bible study to your unchurched neighbor

Do you see the discipleship principle of drawing close to others?
When members hang out with you and see you, their pastor, memorizing Scripture, praying, serving others, evangelizing, and fellowshipping, they will receive an education and a motivation that will be more effective than the best sermon you could ever preach.

In closing, let me read to you from The Ministry of Healing, page 143 and 144,
"Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'

There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit."

This year we've been evaluating many sermons.
But today, I want you to evaluate the sermon of your life.
Is your life a Biblical sermon?
Is your life a Christ-centered sermon?
And are you drawing close enough to people so that they can hear the sermon of your life?

My friends,
Be a disciple of Christ
Make disciples through the example of your life.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Girls' night out 2

Another short talk for girls' dorm worship at 10:30p.

For homiletics (preaching) class this semester, I'm required to preach my sermons outside of class and record them on a cassette/CD.

I was only supposed to speak twelve minutes maximum, but I spoke thirteen minutes again. I really need to work on staying within my time limits.

After I spoke, I realized I had not turned my tape recorder. Doh! That sucks. I hope my professor will allow me to record my sermon without an actual formal speaking engagement. Then, I could just preach the sermon in my living room. My audience would be my imaginary friends sitting on my couch and paying attention very well.

My friend, Rachel, told me I did a good job. We started talking and I found out that she wants to be an editor. Cool and surprising. She didn't seem like the editor type of person. I told her about my blog and asked if she could edit my posts. She said she would if she had time. I'm not the greatest writer so an editor would help me a lot.

Anyways, here's the outline of my sermon. I was randomly assigned the topic of the second coming, so I tried to creatively make the text relevant to an Adventist audience who has probably heard many sermons on the Second Coming.

How’s everyone doing?
How many of you have a 7:30a class tomorrow?
How many of you are going to do homework after this dorm worship?

Second Coming
  1. 911
  2. Tsunami
  3. Some people on campus (10 years, or even less)
  4. People praying for Christ to come soon
  5. Finally, as Adventists, we’ve heard it over and over and over = Jesus is coming soon
But why hasn’t Jesus come back? Why is He taking so long?

The Bible tells us.

Title: Why Jesus Delays His Second Coming.

Two reasons why Jesus delays His second coming.

2 Peter 3:15

(NIV) Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation.
(NASB) Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
(NLT) And remember, the Lord is waiting so that people have time to be saved.
(CEV) Don't forget that the Lord is patient because he wants people to be saved.
(NLV) You can be sure the long waiting of our Lord is part of His plan to save men from the punishment of sin.
(HCSB) Regard the patience of our Lord as [an opportunity for] salvation.

Why does Jesus delay His second coming?
Point #1: Because He’s waiting for unbelievers to be saved.

Check this out.
If Jesus came back to this earth in 1996, I would be lost.
Dead forever.
No hope of eternal life.
Junior in high school.
Didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.
Didn’t really think about whether or not I was saved.
But in 1997, I started reading the Bible and found Jesus there.

What if Jesus came
In 2005?
In April 2005?
Last week?

Then, would you have wanted Jesus to wait a little longer?
Would you have been ready if Jesus came last week?

The 1st reason Jesus waits is because of you. There may be some here that are unbelievers.

Like myself in 1996, you’re not ready for Christ’s second coming.
Today, April 12, 2005, you’re not ready.

Today, you can become a believer in Jesus.
All you need to do is allow him to take control of your life.
Allow him to take control of your life.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
When you make this decision to let him control your life, you will become a child of God.

Some of you may be thinking, “But that’s so hard. It’s so hard to let Jesus have total control of my life.”

So, let me give you three practical things you can do to help you allow Jesus to take control of your life.
These three things will give you the strength to allow Jesus you have full control of your life.
  1. Read the Bible everyday especially the gospels
  2. Pray honestly to God
  3. Hang out with those who seem to have a good relationship with Jesus

Why does Jesus delay His second coming?
Point #2: Because He’s waiting for believers to reach out.

The 2nd reason Jesus waits is because of you. There may be some here that are believers. You’re committed to Jesus.
You have a relationship with Him.
You are following Him.
But, you’re not reaching out to others.

You’re too busy.
You’re too worried about your own life.
You’re too concerned about your grades, your career, your stuff, your car, your looks, your reputation, your this, your that.
You’re beginning to be full of yourself.
You beginning to believe that you are the center of the universe.

And by not reaching out to others, you risk your relationship with God.
By not reaching out to others, you risk your salvation.

The Christian who continues to live for herself alone begins to push God out of her life.

Watch Eve’s mistake in Genesis 3:5.
Satan tempted her.
"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…"

You will be like God
You will be like God
You will be in control not God
You will be the center of the universe not God
You will be in charge not God.
You will be like God
You will be like God.

Problem is you were created. You are not the Creator.

What’s the solution to this dangerous thing called self-centeredness?

It’s simply this:
Reach out.
Serve others.
Witness to people that need Jesus.

2 Peter 3:11
[Talking to Christians] You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

“speed its coming”
How do speed Jesus’ coming?
How do you cause Jesus to come back sooner?

Well, we know that He delays His coming because He wants more people to be saved.
Therefore, it makes sense to work with Him in the salvation of souls.
It makes sense to work with Jesus in reach out to a dying world.
It makes sense to work with Jesus in witnessing to those that don’t know Him.

And when you reach out to others, you speed Jesus’ coming.

I wrote this sermon wondering, “Why do we have to wait so long for Jesus to return?”
But now as I’ve done my research, I realize this.
We’re not the only waiting.
Jesus Himself is waiting on us.

He’s waiting for unbelievers to be saved
He’s waiting for believers to reach out

When we do these things, then He will come again.