Thursday, May 30, 2013

An early birthday

Andrew had an early birthday party last week. Due to lots of scheduling conflicts, we threw him a party before his actual birthday of June 6. We had five 11-12 year-old boys over plus Andrew and Matt. 7 boys for a sleepover. I thought it'd be crazy, but it went fairly smooth...surprisingly!
We started off with a water fight.
Then some pizza. Puberty hasn't hit yet for these guys, otherwise, I would have had to buy about 5 pizzas.
Of course we just had to play in the street. I had to be a part of that!
Every brought their DSi players. Who knew video games could be so social?
Andrew said his party was AWESOME! It doesn't hurt that the party was for him. :) But he was a great host.
Emery had a friend over too so she wouldn't feel so overwhelmed with boy stuff. Can you tell the difference between how girls and boys play?!
The girls had a good night too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The beach

How can you not love the beach? Although I never spent a lot of time at the beach, I have fond memories of my early childhood living close to and visiting Santa Monica Beach. In HS and college, my friends and I would visit beaches at Cape Cod or in NH or RI over the summer. The beach was always a part of my life. The power of the waves, the beauty of the sunset, the fun of the sand all point to our glorious Creator. I'm glad the boys and girl enjoy the beach whenever we visit CA.
Ready, set...
Go! Our little gymnast can't stop doing cartwheels and other gymnastics exercises.
It must have been a wee bit cold for the boys at first.
Matt as usual, smiling away.
You just can't beat a nice day at the beach.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Re-living the wedding

Sandy's brother Sam and his new bride Charlotte had a reception in LA following their wedding in Seattle. Thankfully, we were available to attend both. It was fun to re-live the Seattle wedding and share it with family in LA.
Sandy has a very large extended family, and it's been a while since everyone was together, so the atmosphere was especially festive.
We got to see grandpa Myung - 4 generations in the room. Can you imagine what it was like in OT biblical times when there must have been like 15 generations alive together with people living for hundreds of years? Crazy!
Most of Sandy's cousins now have kids. It's history repeating itself. Doesn't Emery look thrilled here?! It was right before dinner, and she must have been hungry.
She's feeling better now!
The ladies had a fun time! We didn't get a pic with the two of them together, but do you notice the matching outfits between Sandy and Emz? Finally! Someone who likes matching with Sandy. Takes the pressure off me. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege to baptize my good friend Greg Olmstead. I was able to share the gospel with him several months ago and through the witness of many good Christian friends in his life, he was born again and is being completely transformed. Completely!
His testimony was super cool. He wrote a poem which I have included below with his permission.
If anyone is in Christ, the old has gone...
And the new has come! Congrats Greg!
"I was brought into this world of sin,
Struggling to be cool as a youngster.
I'm not really sure where to begin,
No wonder I became a thugster.
Maybe it was when I was just small,
You see father used to drink a lot.
I guess beating me made him feel tall,

So I ain't believing what God got.
So start doing what I think to win,
Lying and stealing to get farther.
In this game of being Satan's twin,
More sex, more drugs, respect gets larger.
Living life high on top of it all,
You could imagine the stuff I bought.
I was tossed when my daughter first crawled.
One day, drove drunk messed up, and got caught.
So many times I tried to live right.
And he found the one, I got married.

Good and evil, evil won the fight.
No grace, still sin, is what I carried.
Now I'm steady struggling to live.
Many homies have gone on their own.
Money tight, more fights, no love to give.
Selfishness and greed, the seeds I've sown.
When I got angry, better watch out,
Had none of that stuff called self-control.
Corner of my eyes, see my kids put.
It seemed tied to a pole was my goal.

Separated from my family,
I believe it was rock bottom.
They say keep faith smiling happily.
I had none, wondered where you got some.
They said prayer and church what I need.
Know I was never one for advice.
But what could hurt the start of a seed,
Or feel the Holy Spirit through Christ.

So I start to go, won't hurt, who knows?
Filled with people who want to help me.
I start praying and then my guilt grows.
Realizing this world is not about me.
And my guilt comes from what I have learned.
Listening, learning the Word of God,
And how Jesus died so I won't burn.

Then one night, I just break down and sob,
I take what I have learned and confess.
I want my soul a shiny engine.
I'm amazed at the way I've been blessed,
That was the making of this Christian.

So now I walk with him in my life,
Looking to him to help all I do.
And getting closer I have less strife,
Feels great everyday that I'm brand new.
So no longer my will, will I force.
I'm going to stand up, never stop.
For now on God will plot my course.
And that seed, now it produces crops.
I'm going to rejoice in his name,
Of His great works and my purity.
Be true to him, my life is no game.
Tell the world of our security,
It is eternal and never ends.
Through Him only, will I get pleasure.
And I will strive to be more like Him,
Cause his love it cannot be measured!"
- Greg Olmstead

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Family time

One unexpected blessing of this unexpected unemployment was some extended time with family. We got to catch 2 Myung family events and spent time with my family too. The boys and girl really love their cousins. It is so very special to watch them grow up with their cousins.
The boys and girl loved celebrating cousin Aaron's 2 year-old birthday party.
It didn't hurt that he had pony rides.
Here are the boys with "little" cousin Joshua. He's younger than Matt if you can believe it!
Emery got to finally get some girl time. Finally!
We also got to see my brother's family. Emery loves having "unni" (Korean for big sister) do her hair and stuff.
And Micah gets to go crazy with our boys.
Here's the Lee clan 2013.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#8 - Jesus + Nothing = Everything

I recognize that I could be a bit partial to this book because Tullian Tchvidjian went through something similar at his church that I just went through in my church. The circumstances are somewhat different, but there were a lot of similar elements. So I could be biased because I could relate so well to his story, but I think Jesus + Nothing = Everything is the best book I have read in a long, long time.
This book is not just for pastors though every pastor should read this. Every Christian needs this book because every Christian needs to understand and grow deeper in the understanding that he has EVERYTHING in Christ already! The Gospel of Christ is crucial for every Christian, every day, to rescue us from seeking our joy in something smaller than Jesus, apart from Jesus.When we seek to add something to our salvation in Christ (Jesus + something) whether it is family or relationships or financial security or control of our circumstances or authority or titles or whatever, we are saying in our hearts that Jesus is not enough.

But when God strips away those things out of love for us, He shows us the idols in our hearts. He shows us that we have been seeking to find our joy in something other than Jesus. He strips away those small things so that we can have nothing...but Jesus, who is everything.

Tchividjian also spends a lot of time addressing moralism aka legalism aka performancism aka Phariseeism. When we focus on what we can do, our lives are so small and debilitated. But when we focus on the greatness of Christ in the Gospel, we are so free! We are free to love, to serve, to try and to fail because Christ has already made us perfect and righteous and holy. There's nothing more that can be done. He has done it all. The key is remembering and resting in this new identity we have in Christ.

Here are a few gems. Ok - here are a LOT of gems:
  • Idolatry is simply trying to build our identity on something besides God. An idol is anything or anyone that you conclude, in your heart, you must have in order for your life to be meaningful, valuable, secure, exciting or free.
  • Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.
  • Our performancism leads to pride when we succeed and to despair when we fail. But ultimately it leads to slavery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to establish our own identity instead of resting in Jesus and what he accomplished to establish it for us. In all its forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and therefore enslaving.
  • For those of us who've been in church a long time, we know it's wrong to worship immorality, like everybody out in the world seems to be doing; we find it hard to see that it's just as wrong to worship morality, like everybody in the church seems to be doing.
  • In our bones, we know that God hates unrighteous 'bad' works; we're not nearly so convinced that he hates self-righteous 'good' works just as much, if not more. In fact, the most dangerous thing that can happen to you is that you become proud of your obedience.
  • A Christian may not struggle with believing that our good behavior is required to initially earn God's favor; but I haven't met one Christian who doesn't daily struggle with believing - somehow, someway - that our good behavior is required to keep God's favor.
  • But none of us really has it together - ever. When we open our eyes, we'll see the Bible's confirmation that we're a lot worse off than we think we are - much more self-centered, arrogant, and greedy than we would ever admit to ourselves, let alone to other people. Those ingredients produce the most fertile breeding ground imaginable for self-idolatrous, legalistic moralism.
  • When life is all about us - what we can do, how we can perform - our world becomes small and smothering; we shrink. To have everything riding on ourselves lead to despair, not deliverance.
  • The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God's effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.
  • We will be able to recognize that every temptation to sin is a temptation to not believe the gospel - the temptation to secure for ourselves something we think we need in order to be happy, something we don't yet have: meaning, liberty, validation, and so on. When we succumb to temptation we are failing to believe in that moment that everything we need in Christ we already have.
  • By their behavior, legalists essentially are saying this: 'I live the Christian life by the rules - rules that I establish for myself as well as those I expect others to abide by.' They develop specific requirements of behavior beyond what the Bible teaches, and they make observance of those requirements the means by which they judge the acceptability of others in the church.
  • We've all become pretty adept at establishing these rules and standards that we find personally achievable. Legalism therefore provides us with a way to avoid acknowledging our deficiencies and our inabilities. That's enough right there to make it attractive to us. But it's also appealing to us in how it puffs us up, giving us the illusion (as we've seen) that we can do it - we can generate our own meaning, our own purpose, our own security, and all our other inmost needs.
  • It's all so attractive because it's all about us. Legalism feeds our natural pride. While abiding by our self-established standards and rules, we think pretty highly of ourselves. It's a gratifying arrangement because it allow us (we think) to control our little world, to protect ourselves from the chaos without.
  • The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay...Because of the gospel, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we're something we're not.
  • When you understand that your significance and identity and purpose and direction are all anchored in Christ, you don't have to win - you're free to lose...Since Jesus is our strength, our weaknesses don't threaten our sense of worth and value. Now we're free to admit our wrongs and weaknesses without feeling as if our flesh is being ripped off our bones.
  • The gospel frees us from this pressure to perform, this slavish demand to 'become.' The gospel liberatingly declares that in Christ 'we already are.' If you're a Christian, here's the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you - how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior (good or bad), your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ's accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not in our sin.
  • Real slavery is living your life trying to gain [or keep] favor; real freedom is knowing you already have favor - the difference is huge.
  • But only the gospel can cause you to rejoice and be glad in your expendability - because the gospel shows us that while we matter, we're not the point. That's liberating, because when we become the hero of our own story, life becomes a tragedy...Real slavery is self-reliance, self-dependence.
  • When I came to see that Christian growth doesn't happen by working hard to get something you don't have, but rather it happens by working hard to live in the reality of what you already have, this gospel insight radically transformed my life.
It may seem like I just wrote down everything in the book, but trust me, there's a whole lot more! This book is a must read.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Last month, we spent some time in CA. Some friends of ours blessed us with free tickets to Disneyland / CA Adventure.
Our little princess had a blast...really, she did.
We rode on some classic rides.
And tried some new ones.
This one is Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Andrew and I went all the way to CA to take a ride with a tractor when there was a tractor on every corner when we lived in KS.
Radiator Springs was super cool. Cars Land was just like the movie...well, except for the hundreds of ride goers and baby strollers.
Thanks so much Frank and Eliza! We loved our day at Disneyland.
It didn't hurt that Emery got to eat Cotton Candy that was bigger than her head!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

More of God's kindness

If we truly believe in the sovereignty of God, then both the trials and "coincidences" of life are really evidences (in different ways) of God's kindness to us. This weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to a Paul Tripp marriage conference called "What Did You Expect?" After hearing about my situation, the person in charge got both Sandy and myself tickets to attend as well as tickets for our children to attend childcare. What a blessing from someone I didn't even know!
The conference was excellent in and of itself. If you have not read any of Tripp's books, please do. If you ever get an opportunity to attend a conference, please do. If you are a pastor, please read Dangerous Calling. I finished it last December and here's my take on it. It is a must read for pastors.

We had a great time at the conference with some great brothers and sisters in the Lord. It's always better to learn in community. And during the conference, several people whom I never met and a few that I barely knew, came up to me to let me know that they were praying for me or to offer help. God's kindness through His saints never ends! He is so good.

And to top it all off, I got invited to a special luncheon to hear Paul speak to ministry leaders. It just so happened that I sat right next to him! This was no coincidence, but a divine, providential act of kindness. Now obviously, Paul Tripp is no more holy than I am. He is not greater in God's eyes. He's a sinner saved by grace just like me. But it was a special blessing from God during this difficult time in my life to have this fun and cool experience.
Thanks so much Cathy Miller (and Bob!) for being God's instrument to bless me in such a marvelous way!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Out of the ashes

A lot has happened since I last blogged. About 6 weeks ago, I parted ways with Alameda Bible Church and stepped down as pastor there. I would not think it normal to blog about this type of situation, but the role of a pastor is somewhat unique. As I have found out personally, the role of a pastor is a public one and word gets around, even in a city with close to a million people. So I thought it would be a good idea, not to rehash the past, but to address what I have learned so far and to update the many folks who are praying for us.

Obviously, this has been a very difficult time. I think the best word to describe how I feel is heartbroken. Please understand that I don't think being a pastor is more difficult than other roles in life. It simply has its unique challenges and blessings. But for a preaching pastor, you have a special relationship with the church body that no one else has. I didn't realize it until I became one. You have a burden and a love for the souls of the flock that God has entrusted you with that is spiritually intimate. Looking into the eyes and preaching into the hearts of the people every week, standing before them with transparency and exposing your own heart to them every week, and praying fervently, crying out to God for them every week develops a deep spiritual bond.

I feel a profound sadness and melancholy quite often and on so many levels. Personally, I am reeling. The obvious questions abound for my family - How we will live? Where we will live? What will I do? And on top of that, I feel such a loss for my relationship with God's flock, His sheep.

Yet despite this, God has shown me two wonderful things. First, God is not only greater than all of these problems and challenges, but He is more precious than the solutions that He will eventually provide. When we have everything we need and then some; when we have not only all our physical needs met but the overabundance of having many of our desires met; when we don't need to turn to God for anything physical; it is so easy to not turn to God at all or to not turn to him with everything in your soul. But when he strips away so much in life so that you're faced with the idea of losing your home, your things, your future, you realize that Christ has given you everything, He has given you Himself. And there's nothing and no one and no situation better than being with Christ and in Christ.

Don't get me wrong, these are truths that I have to face and force myself to trust in every day, several times a day, as I wait for Him to reveal His answers for what is next. But He is faithful as always to give me moments of great hope and peace and trust in His magnificent character that He will use all of this in my life for His glory and my good.

Second, God has shown us His goodness and kindness again and again in such tangible and concrete ways. I am absolutely humbled to have received so many phone calls, notes, gifts and encouraging words from so many people. People are praying for us from coast to coast and in between. Strangers have called with words of sympathy. People have visited with hugs and tears. God is sustaining us in our time of need with the love of the Body of Christ. He is so good, always.

What does the future hold? I want to know the details so badly. But that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that the future holds Christ. The future holds my perfection in Christ. The future holds a greater love and worship of the magnificence of knowing God. The future holds glory...because I am in Christ.

"Colossians 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."