What should I wear to church?

I found this in my email drafts folder. It was originally intended for the worship team at my home church which I was a part of, and I guess this never got sent. The question is really about whether or not we should dress up to church. I recall I started writing this email because my team leader imposed a strict rule on us worship team members: no jeans! But I wanted to wear jeans, as I do wear my best for God on Sundays and most of the congregation wears jeans to church too — I don’t want them to feel unwelcomed, as if they need to live up to a certain dress-code or unwritten church standard in order to be accepted!

Anyways, I’m in Louisville now… and I’m afraid of wearing jeans to church in fears of being shunned LOL “You’re a seminary student @ Southern?!–and you’re wearing jeans to church–are you crazy?!” Jokes 🙂 But still, it’s something to think about…

Hi team,
Interestingly enough, I just read this article about church dress code from Pastor Mark Driscoll on his website.

Here’s a brief excerpt:
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My Achilles’ Heel

The degree of difficulty you are willing to endure to achieve the goal.

The enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.

I am a highly passionate person. Those who know me well know that I am zealous about glorifying God, especially from an all-consuming response to the all-deserving revelation of God in the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross.

During job interviews, when the interviewer asks me about the strengths that I can bring to the workplace–I usually give them my 3 P’s: passionate, persistent, and patient. When I have my heart and mind focused on the purpose that is in front of me–I passionately pursue it, no matter what the cost. When obstacles get in my way, I press on again and again in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement and endure the difficulties. And if that doesn’t get me towards achieving my purpose, I take a step back to breathe and to pray for faith that God will cause all things to work together according to His purposes. And I patiently await His further instructions.
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Voddie Baucham is prolific

Voddie Baucham is a prolific blogger! I just realized this after I came across his blog at his ministry’s website. I don’t know why I missed this for so long, but Voddie is quite the solid blogger! He doesn’t blog that regularly, but when he has, it’s been typical Voddie all the way!

(It’s interesting to note that I haven’t seen much permalinks to his blog flying around the Reformed blogsphere; he writes about some very pertinent ministry issues affecting our day & age and I would’ve thought more people would be talking about what he’s written.)

Nevertheless, Dr. Baucham (author, Bible teacher, professor, & pastor) explains in Oct.18 post why he objects to the contemporary Youth Ministry model. Voddie isn’t doing any more youth events as he calls for the abolishment of segregated “youth” ministry, contending that

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Music Monday

I was reading this heartfelt blog post by a close friend on homless / injustice, and what came to mind was the famous Micah 6:8 verse which says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

My heart wrestled with what this verse meant–what does it look like to actually do justice, love kindness and humbly walk with our God? I think the chorus really says it all…

God of Justice (We Must Go) by Tim Hughes

God of Justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Am7 G/B
Jesus, You have called us
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in everyway
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out, Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord

Discipleship and mentorship

The spiritual maturity of the people around me at church is at an all-time low.

Ok, now that I’ve got your attention, I don’t mean that really, and please allow me to throw out my ego and put on genuine humility here.  But it just seems that all I seem to have on most days at church is shallow conversations with Christians who should not be so shallow.  I have this bad feeling in my stomach that the girls/women at my church–especially those around my age–have been neglected in terms of discipleship and mentorship.  I don’t want to imply that this is for everybody, but the I see and hear very little serious, solid, deep conversations from the girls (and guys) about their journey of faith and their mission in God’s story.

I say this now, as I am applying to Southern Seminary, because I feel like this area of discipling and mentoring is of utmost importance to the personal, emotional and spiritual growth of all Christians, regardless of age.  However, those in the college/university generation are of even greater priority for discipleship/mentorship because it is the time in their life where the university culture either makes or breaks their faith–and personally, I would hope that it is the former.

I do not expect that there would be many women in our English congregation who are like me, who have a serious interest in Reformed theology and missional ecclesiology–let alone understand what those two things are.  I only expect that there would be a generation of godly women who are devoted to Christ and His beautiful bride that is the church, women who would read, meditate and reflect deeply about God’s Word and their walks with Christ.

In today’s postmodern society where Scriptural perspecuity is questioned all the time, issues about the place of homosexuals and the role of women in the church are at the forefront of conversations between Christians and seekers.  For this very reason that our faith is being attacked on all fronts by feminism, postmodernism, consumerism, paganism and apostasy, it is thus really important that we be there to support the next generation of church leaders–the teens and twenty somethings–women and men.  As their peers who are just a few years older, we do not necessarily have to teach them doctrine, but in our lives we should definitely strive to be salt and light in this dark and depraved world.  We should be helping them develop a biblical worldview so that they can come to an understanding about God’s truth in these issues about their role in the church and at home.

I specifically am specifically talking about women at my church, because I have had a good deal of contact with the younger guys.  I have tried to build and keep friendships with the guys, often starting off guy-style-not-so-deep, and have done my best to be a somebody they can come to when they are in need of answers or support.  For the girls, I do not know personally how the vast majority of them are doing spiritually.  From what is visibly seen and audibly heard, I come back to the same question I have asked on this blog before: where are the godly women?!?  Those humble ladies who are willing to be a witness to younger women, ladies who are committed to suffering for the sake of the Gospel, ladies who yearn to support the leadership of a true man of God, ladies who are devoted to submitting to Christ’s authority in the church and the home.

I am sure I have shared this with my dad in our discussions about seminary: I am very disappointed that there are no women in my church whom I consider suitable to even start a serious relationship.  I say this with some personal resentment, but I say so especially with dire concern for my church’s discipleship ministry.  I don’t suppose that strucutured discipleship or mentorship programs will accomplish a great deal right now, but I think we really need a change in our mindset about the family of God.  All of us, myself especially included, need to step out of our personal comfort zones and take the initiative to be vulnerable enough to share what is on our hearts.

I shared this during a workshop at summer camp, and it is the theme verse for my church’s university fellowship this term:

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)

I do not have any answers about how to improve this dire situation of neglected discipleship and mentorship–except to just do it.  Be a friend to somebody, and listen to what they have to say–like, really listen them!  The first step is forward, into the lives of others… to consider somebody else’s needs before ours; to regard their lives as even more important than our own.  May we pray for each other as we serve and build each other up: for the truth, for the church, for the world, for the glory of God.

Let’s show the world that we are His disciples by loving each other 🙂

What’s up with Dallas Willard?

As of late, my concern has been about Dallas Willard, his written and preached theology, and how it is infiltrating into the minds of people I love.

See his recommended reading list: do you see anything wrong with what’s listed?

Or…how about his view of salvation?  Concerning ‘very good Buddhists’ and their destiny… and explaining Romans 2:6-10:

What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say “he can’t save them.” I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: “There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.”

(From Apologetics in Action, emphasis mine)

And somebody please explain to me why he is on “a quiet quest to subvert nominal Christianity“!?!

What else?  In the same September 2006 issue of Christianity Today (which is about how Calvinism/Reformed theology is making a comeback in the church)… I am very disappointed that the president of Calvin Theological Seminary has agreed with Willard that sanctification is NOT by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone:

It’s important to see that this program of renewal has nothing to do with “works righteousness” as the Reformers used that term. In the wonderful world of Willard’s theology of Christian living, justification is still entirely by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. But sanctification is another story. Mortification of the old self and vivification of the new one take not only God’s gift, but also our effort.  No theologian should try to get us off the hook here. Patience, for example, is not only a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5; it’s also our calling in Colossians 3. And nobody ever became patient without the daily exercise of self-control, especially in the left lane behind a poky driver.

This synergistic theology makes me sick–apparently God’s grace wasn’t enough to really set us free and empower us to live a life of holiness that glorifies Him… it seems Willard believes we really need to put our effort into it!  That’s just apostasy.

As far as the content of what I try to present is concerned it focuses on the gospel of the kingdom of God and becoming a disciple of Jesus in the kingdom of God. SO it doesn’t merely have an emphasis on the forgiveness of sins and assurance of heaven as you are apt to find in most evangelical circles. I think that is vital but it is not the whole story. The issue is whole life, other issues are subordinate to that. After all Jesus said, “I came that you might have life to the full,” which is more than life beyond death.

I think what Willard means is that sanctification is more important than justification… that forgiveness of sin and the assurance of eternal life is subordinate to the issue of the “whole life”.  ~sighs~ Anybody agree with this guy??!



Tell me something I don’t know

So my bags are packed and I’m almost ready to go: Urbana 06 in St.Louis, MO.

This will be my first Urbana, and my second participation in a large-scale student ministry conference (the first being Passion 06 earlier this past January).

The theme this year is “you have a calling“, and focusing on Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.  But I know I have a calling already, as you my dear reader might even know.  So God, please tell me something I don’t know ….

Personally, in the past year and a half or so, God’s call on me to pulpit ministry & preaching has centered around a simple yet serious call from Romans 10:14-15:

But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Since I’ve been seriously job searching during my last job and since that job contract ended at the beginning of September… I have seen job opportunities come and go, interview after interview, the future at my fingertips.  And yet, even in this nearness to a good job, I cannot help it but still feel the voice of God written in my heart and in the Scriptures calling me to follow Him and serve Him vocationally in pulpit ministry.

I shared this with my sister: it just feels like I haven’t past the “event horizon” of my specific call to ministry yet.  Right not, I find myself pulled towards a finding a real job and career (which I could work for a year or 2 and then go into seminary) — and going right into seminary right now.  I mean, I could just jump right into studies for a M.Div and that would be totally fine with me… but it just, doesn’t seem perfectly right just yet.  I could just go either way right now.  ~sighs~

What I gotta figure out thru Urbana is a 4-fold calling I need to figure out for myself

  • What: what specific ministry is God calling me to? (pulpit ministry & expositional preaching I know already, but anything more specific–like age, ethnic, nation?)
  • When: when should I be going into seminary to equip myself for service?  (apply now? for summer start? fall start? 2008?)
  • Where: which seminary should I apply / go into?  (Regent? SBTS? etc..)
  • Why: again, I need to figure out in-depth the reasons for which God is calling me to serve Him.

Deep inside my heart, I know I’ve been called.  It’s only a matter of time, and location.  After Urbana 06, I don’t necessarily need a definite YES or NO go for seminary right now–I just need to hear these 4 W’s more clearly, definitively, and be affirmed in what I have heard from the great I AM.

Hmmmm yeh…. I could definitely use the prayers in figuring out life right now.  I feel, stressed to the brink and I’m not even doing much of anything right now.  I just need peace thru the confirmation of the Lord’s active presence in my life… part of me has been so bogged down by the disappointing job search process that I feel so weak, unable to attain any serious solid job yet.  From one perspective, it looks like God has closed some doors for me, and yet it may appear as if He’s opening up a window instead.

Well, here’s to the calling and seeking to understanding what God requires of this skinny, short, single, job-less Chinese guy.