A Lesson I Haven’t Learned

I hurt my knee recently. It wasn’t serious; I just bruised it slightly playing football. However, to give it time to heal I stopped running for a few days and favored that leg until it felt fine to walk on it again.

On an unrelated note, the idea of ‘community’ has been a recent trending topic in Christian circles. I’ve certainly talked about it a lot in the past few years and have read blog posts, heard sermons, and been a part of Bible studies that have discussed what Christian community should look like.

Christian community has many different aspects including encouraging each other, providing for each other, guiding each other, warning each other and building each other up in the love of Christ, but hurting my leg got me thinking about another part of Christian community talked about in Galatians 6.

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

We’re told to look out for each other in difficult times. In addition to providing encouragement and spiritual companionship, the idea of community also has a very active component to it. When I hurt my knee I had to rely on my other leg more while the hurt one healed. In the same way, as members of the Body of Christ, when one of us is hurting, overwhelmed, scared or frustrated God asks the rest of us to step up. Take on some of that hardship. Help a brother out.

Photo by Creativity103

From what I can see, sharing burdens requires two things. First, it requires Christians who are willing to reach out to their fellow believers in love, compassion and often forgiveness. Now for what I haven’t learned yet. The second thing this requires is people who are willing to admit they are scared, hurt, confused, frustrated and unable. It require people to admit they need help. It requires believers to admit that they can’t handle their problems on their own.

It requires me to admit that I’m weak and incapable. I have to admit that God has put other weak and incapable people around me to help me, that I need them. It requires humility.

Are you willing to be someone’s Christian community?

Or do you need a helping hand?

Can you admit your need?

Churches and Friends

Austrian church in the forestAbout 2 months ago my wife and I decided to switch churches. This shouldn’t be one of those casual decisions like “Which burger joint should we hit tonight?”

The Church (note capital C) is a spiritual body that Jesus Christ established when He was here on Earth, as, get this, part of His own body. He put Himself as the head and every single Believer as a member. So in one sense, it doesn’t matter which church you attend, because they are all part of the “universal church” as long as Christ is truly the head.

Proverbs says “He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” The people we are with will shape the way we think, act, and the people we will become. So in this sense, the people we hang out with, at church and otherwise, are going to have a strong impact on who we will be in 5-, 10-, or 50 years.

Now, back to our story… For about 2 years we attended a young, hip church here in Portland. I enjoyed it and participated in small groups or ministry teams. About a year ago my son Lewis was born, and our family was ushered into a new chapter of our lives. As we adjusted, well, everything to being parents and having a child, we noticed that the church we were attending was no longer a fit for who we were or who we were becoming. Looking around, we noticed that there were a lot of young couples, and even a few young families, but there really weren’t any grandparents or great-grandparents. The counsel of friends and peers is extremely valuable to us, but so is the wisdom of the aged and the advice of mentors.

God has blessed us with a quick and easy transition into another church we love. We now have both close friends and wise grandparent-types in our church community, and continue to value the relationships we’ve built in both churches.

You may not have a 1-year old or feel the need to change churches, but my thought this week is to consider who you spend time with and how they are shaping the 5-, 10-, or 50-year version of yourself.


Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

what Cathedrals and Youth Rooms teach us about God

This year I’ve had the chance to see some really old and grand cathedrals in Europe. Everything about it is really incredible – the detailed carvings, stained glass mosaics, high ceilings that are tens of stories above you.


You walk in and immediately sense the atmosphere of reverence. Either you stay silent or whisper because the sacred and solemn surroundings command respect. (And also because any sound you make would be amplified in the large hall.)

The youth room at my church is quite a contrast to these magnificent cathedrals. We have low ceilings, IKEA couches, a lamp, over-sized pillows, and a couple stuffed animals in the mix. It’s cozy and like a living room, probably similar some rooms of your own church.


Two very different places, both places of worship. The cathedral well represents the transcendence of God – He is far above and unlike us, and so purely holy that it should evoke reverence and awe in us. Sitting on a pew in a huge antique church reminds me of how God is high and lifted up, infinitely greater than me, and inspires the fear of the Lord and worship of His greatness.

The youth room reflects the immanence of God – He is a personal God who stoops down from heavenly majesty to earth to become human and to identify with us. He is present in our daily lives and acquainted with all our ways. Sitting on a couch in our youth room reminds me that God is entirely relevant and real today, not distant and impersonal. It inspires a response of relationship and trust.

The church is a place of worship and reverence. The church is a place of family and community. God is infinitely high. God is incredibly near. Praise and worship Him!

from Taiwan to Hong Kong, with love.

I had been away from church for more than a month, and the Children’s Institute trip had ended only a few days ago.

It was last Sunday – I was riding the subway to church to teach Sunday School and see all the youth, but I didn’t feel ready. I was trying to get my heart there, but my mind was still thinking about the CI. It was a somewhat discouraging MTR ride as I struggled with the challenge of jumping back into another world.

But after I arrived, greeted the youth, and as the morning progressed, I began to feel more genuinely happy to be there and more “back home.”

I’m thankful that God affirmed for me that this church is where I can serve right now. I was (and am) learning to throw myself 100% into whatever people God puts in my life and says, “Love them and invest in them.” – whether they are CI kids, CI teachers, HK teens, or HK teachers (we had a character training for teachers today :-).

Who has God asked you to love today?

embracing community

When I was still single, I remember hearing about different friends who were devastated when they miscarried their first baby. For some reason, I thought that if they had just kept their pregnancy a secret, they wouldn’t have been so disappointed. And so I made up my mind that when I was pregnant, I would try to keep it a secret until I was pretty sure it was “safe” to tell.

Last March, I miscarried my first child. True to my resolution, aside from Luke, I didn’t tell many people. In fact, it took months for me to tell my own family. I tried to be brave and strong, but the disappointment was devastating– especially since I bore it alone.

When I told a friend about it later that fall, she was shocked. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” she asked. “When I found out I was pregnant, I told people right away, because I knew I’d need the church’s support if anything were to happen when my husband was deployed.”

I’ve been pondering her words ever since. Why did I think it’d be better to tough things out on my own when God had designed a community of support for me in the church? Is it really better to hold those struggles inside? Is it really Christian to be “strong” by being private about my difficulties?

These last few months, as Luke and I have been adjusting to a lower income, his new schedule for work and school, the changes that will come with a baby, and certain issues in our marriage, I’ve discovered that I really can’t shoulder my problems on my own. Aside from casting all my cares on Christ (1 Peter 5:7), I’m also learning to humble myself and share my struggles with the believers God has placed in my life.

Sometimes, living like God is real means learning to embrace the church community by being vulnerable about our struggles and weaknesses. Don’t tough it out alone.