43, 39, 43, 42, 44, 43 … These are the numbers of people who attended ANF Sunday corporate worship during January and February, not including youth and children. It was 55 for the ANF 1ST Virtual Corporate Sunday Worship on March 22, 2020. What happened? It reminds me that this time of social-distancing or self-quarantine or isolation is not the time of disconnection from God or one another. After the Sunday worship was completed, 14 people sent me their commitment and prayer requests through emails or text messages as usual. Here are some of them. I hope that ANF experience God’s constant encouragement and be reminded of our unchanging calling for the world.
“I want to seek God's guidance by reading more of His word and spending more time with Him instead of seeking daily news. Whenever I wonder about the updates of the virus, I want to read His Word this week.”
“Especially during these uncertain times, it is very easy for me to be constantly anxious because I do not know what will happen next. I will cast my cares to the Lord.”
“I commit in praying every morning for 10 minutes specifically for the current COVID 19 situation.”
“I want to remember that God is always with me, so I don't have to feel afraid no matter the outcome.”
“I commit myself to grow in Christ in this time as my focus and priority.”
“I commit to not be afraid during this uncertain time, and to seek God more often like a child would his parent during a thunderstorm.”
“I commit to have a pure heart and worship God sincerely in this time.”
“I commit to live without fear and boldly in Christ by keeping up with HC members.”
“I commit to spend time with HC members more and call people I don’t usually talk to.”
“I commit not to be afraid but to rely on God more and lay my burdens down before Him.”
“I will set the alarm at 10 pm and will pray for my pastor, for my shepherd, for my HC members, and my family.”
“I realized that my constant reminder that God will be with us no matter where we are could help me become less afraid and fearful of current or future dilemmas. I continue to pray for being able to feel God's presence.”
“pray that I will continue to give positive energy to those around me, as you are with me, and family, and our church.”
“pray for us to all grow our relationship with God more during this time instead of being stir crazy from being semi-quarantined.”
“pray that I could be grateful from the bottom of my heart, no matter the circumstance.”
“pray that I could be of help to our church, to my house church and to those that I may not know but need help at this time. I don’t want to use this time of being home as an excuse to be selfish or lazy. I want to be God’s hands and feet, and I want to be even more disciplined and ready in prayer than ever.”
Dallas County’s new shelter-in-place rules go into effect tonight. Students are unable to go to school; employees are being asked to work from home… Many of us are left to do everything on our own with little to no supervision, making it easy for us to become lazy, spending all day sleeping, playing games, watching Netflix or YouTube, etc. I encourage you all to make a daily schedule and form a habit of following it regularly. What do you think about reading and meditating on the Word each day starting today? If you are already doing so, feel free to continue doing so at your own pace. But for those of you who are looking to recommit today, how about starting in the Gospel of Luke? No need to read an entire chapter each day. Feel free to split the chapter into smaller sections and being reading and meditating that way. It is especially helpful if you are able to share what you have received from the passage with others once you are done. I encourage you to share any takeaways with your house church members, or on this All Nations Fellowship GroupMe, whichever you feel most comfortable with.
I meditated on Luke 1:57-66, The Birth of John the Baptist, today. In this passage, there is a small commotion stirring over what the baby’s name should be. Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents, chose to name the baby “John”, even though their neighbors and relatives had been pushing them to name the baby “Zechariah”, after his father. Some may argue that naming a baby is a small, unimportant task, not worth fighting over. But I do not see it that same way. Even though we have all received God’s grace time and time again, there are many times when we forget His reasons or the meaning behind such grace. By naming the baby “John”, Elizabeth and Zechariah were confessing that they had received the baby by God’s grace, not by chance, and certainly not by their own efforts, for they were both well over the age of childbearing. Elizabeth and Zechariah were also confessing that they would not forget God’s reasons or promises behind giving them such grace.
Likewise, I pray that our All Nations Fellowship family would take a day to remember all of those times that God has poured out His grace to us, also reflecting on what the possible reasons and meanings could have been behind such times of grace.
It was 2 am when I finished recording the sermon after numerous trials. In the beginning, I tried recording a video. I stacked fifteen books on my desk, placed my phone on top and pressed record. I wasn’t satisfied with the result because of all of the background noise, so I tried it once again on my laptop. I again wasn’t satisfied because of the awkward angle it recorded at. I’m a shy and introverted person. Preaching by myself in a pre-recorded video is very challenging for me. I then decided to try it with audio only. Once I was done, I shared the audio recording with the worship facilitators. Hearing my voice in the pre-recorded message still felt strange to me. But despite all of the weirdness, strangeness and other challenges, I am here at church to pray for you all and our first virtual Sunday Corporate Worship. Here is my prayer for you.
O my Savior,
I am so slow to learn,
so prone to forget,
so week to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
Make it my chiefest joy to study you,
Meditate on you,
Gaze on you,
Sit like Mary at your feet,
Lean like John on your breast,
Appeal like Peter to your love,
Count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace
So that there may be
More decision in my character,
More Savior in my purposes,
More elevation in my life,
More fervor in my devotion,
More constancy in my zeal.
(from the puritan’s prayers)
In Jesus’ name, Amen
"Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp… Moses went out to the tent…The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." (Exodus 33:7-11) If you look at Exodus, you can see that Moses pitched a “tent of meeting” some distance away from the camp where people lived. He went there to meet God and pray, and his young aid, Joshua son of Nun, accompanied him. Even when Moses returned to the camp to shepherd the people of Israel, Joshua stayed and did not leave this “tent of meeting.”
People have asked me where I plan on having Sunday Corporate Worship tomorrow. There will be no Sunday Corporate Worship in our church building tomorrow at 2 pm. Instead, we will be worshipping God in smaller groups online, and I plan on pre-recording the sermon tonight ahead of tomorrow’s worship. So technically it would be fine if I did not go to church tomorrow. But shouldn’t there be at least one person who watches over our regular place of worship at our regular service time? So, to answer all of your questions, I plan on going alone to our church building tomorrow to worship God. I am going to pray for all of those who are meeting online in small groups tomorrow for service, and, like Joshua, I hope to be a person who stays and watches over our tent of meeting, the place of worship where God comes to meet us.
I hope and pray that everyone would have a wonderful service tomorrow at 2 pm with their worship groups, and I pray that each of you would make your homes a "tent of meeting," a place where you can meet God.
I have been reading a couple of devotional journals daily for several years (actually two of them for more than 15 years. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen, and You are the Beloved by Henri Nouwen. As long as a devotional book does not replace the Bible, it is very useful for our spirituality. Why don’t you start to read one of these devotional journals along with the Bible? I want to share an article that inspired me recently.
Whereas patience is the mother of expectation, it is expectation itself that brings new joy to our lives. Jesus not only made us look at our pains, but also beyond them. “You are sad now, but I shall see you again and your hearts will be full of joy.” A man or woman without hope in the future cannot live creatively in the present. The paradox of expectation indeed is that those who believe in tomorrow can better live today, that those who expect joy to come out of sadness can discover the beginnings of a new life in the center of the old, that those who look forward to the returning Lord can discover him already in their midst. From You Are the Beloved by Henri Nouwen.
I say “Amen” with great expectation for House Church tonight and Corporate Sunday Worship over a virtual platform. Love and miss you all a lot.
During my time of prayer, I prayed that God would protect and watch over our All Nations Fellowship family, as well as our Korean Speaking Congregation (KSC), Resemblance of Christ Korean Church, from COVID-19. I pray that He would protect my family here in the United States, as well as my family in South Korea, including my parents and parents-in-law, who are over 90 years of age. I pray that he would watch over and give wisdom and courage to our society’s leaders, as well as those who are fighting to find a cure, whether that be in our hospitals, on the streets, in research laboratories, etc. I pray that the current situation would quickly subside and that people would be able to get back to their normal life as soon as possible. The prayer topics go on and on. It is important, for sure, that we pray, in our normal, everyday lives. However, we, as Christians, ought to be able to pray even more in times of emergency such as these.
Prayer not exercised or put into practice are quick to become weak or cowardly, and actions not substantiated by prayer are quick to become hasty and prideful. However, prayer that goes hand-in-hand with action allows us to experience the fullness of God’s power. Prayer is God’s most precious gift and privilege given to us. If that’s the case, how can we pray? If we look at the Bible, as well as literature on some of the first churches, we can see that the Christians of early churches prayed regularly, having three, even five, dedicated times of prayer a day. I think it’d be good for us to follow this example by setting alarms on our phone to pray regularly as well. How about three times a day? 9 am, noon, 3 pm.
Whenever these alarms ring, let’s temporarily stop what we’re doing and pray with the following prayer requests: (1) For the spread of COVID-19 to come to a stop and for a vaccine to be developed, as well as for people to recover from the virus. (2) For our society’s leaders to exercise good leadership, and for everyone to be able to get through this difficult time well, with wisdom, courage and love. (3) For God to protect and watch over our families, both biological and spiritual, from COVID-19. (4) For us to be able to distinguish God’s will and become more mature Christians through this time.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Perhaps it’s because it rained all night, or because it continued to rain into the morning, that the roads were flooded with water. I parked my car in the church parking lot and, realizing that my umbrella was in the trunk, ran into the church building, covering my head with the hood of my jacket. Once inside, I turned on the lights to the hallway and went up to the second-floor room where I always pray. It was quiet. I turned on the table lamp and turned on the Spotify playlist that I always listen to while praying. “Faithful God”, a piano instrumental by David Baroni, was the first song that played. For some reason, whenever I listen to this song, my heart feels at peace because I feel as though I am able to experience His presence better than usual. I opened my prayer notes, got on my knees and began early morning prayer.
This is how I started my day. Nothing out of the ordinary. I feel as though, whenever there is commotion in the world, or whenever people are changing, there needs to be someone out there who is standing firm, wherever they are. I always wanted to name my fourth child “Mountain”, if I ever had a fourth. It’s because I wanted that child to live his life like a mountain that stands firm and does not waver, even if rain were to fall fiercely from the sky, as if there were an opening in it, or even if the winds were powerful enough to uproot the mightiest of trees from the ground. So today, I’m trying not to waver. In the midst of those around me who are being moved and swayed, I want to be a mountain that people can rely on. So, like any other day, I start my day in prayer.
Some people worry that, in times like these, many people, when they can’t come together for house church or for Sunday Corporate Worship, will start becoming weaker in their faith, and some people worry for the church as well. However, as I was praying today, I was convicted that, through these difficult times, the faith of all those attending All Nations Fellowship would become even stronger; that we would practice living our everyday life in a way that better followed the example of Jesus Christ; that we would serve our VIPs better and that All Nations Fellowship would become a church that continued to save the lost; and that we would become a church that was even more pleasing to God. I pray that you would hear the same voice that I heard this morning and have unmovable peace.
Life is “a little while,” a short moment of waiting. But life is not empty waiting. It is to wait full of expectation. The “faith, hope, and love” that God will indeed fulfill the promise to renew everything, and will offer us a “new heaven and a new earth,” makes the waiting exciting. We can already see the beginning of the fulfillment. Nature speaks of it every spring; people [speak] of it whenever they smile; the sun, the moon, and the stars speak of it when [they] offer us light and beauty; and all of history speaks of it when amid all devastation and chaos, men and women arise who reveal the hope that lives within them….What is my main task during my “little while”?
Yes, that is right. "A little while, and we will no longer see each other, and again a little while, and we will see each other."(John 16:16) What would be our main task during our “little while”? Though many things have been drastically changed, there is one thing that never changes. It is our identity in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let’s continue to live our daily life as a follower of Jesus Christ with faith, hope, and love.
Love you all. Take care.