Sing to Your Soul

These days we find ourselves locked at home, physically disconnected from friends, family, and community. It’s been difficult. Challenging. Our work is strained. Our relationships are tested. We’re managing — or at least trying to. We’re making the best of our circumstances.

But Sunday Worship is the time for the church — even if we’re scattered on Zoom — to reset. We gather to realign ourselves to the truth of the Gospel when all week long we may have aligned ourselves with other goals: scarcity, loneliness, helplessness. But one thing we lose in this day of online virtual worship services is the real feel of the community encouraging one another in the Gospel. This is especially apparent when we gather to — online — to sing.

How easy it is to watch the singing on the screen rather than participate.

It might feel awkward to sing in our apartments, especially if we’re just one of a handful of voices — every out-of-tune note or early-entrance-become-solo clearly heard by all. Maybe we think it’s easier just to listen to those in the call singing. But don’t give into that. Sing!

Surely, I can remind you, “God cares about it.” Or I can tell those of you who are parents, “Your children are watching and learning about worship from your example.” These are both true. But I’d put forward to you that…

Your soul is listening.

There’s a well known refrain in the psalms (scattered throughout Psalms 42 and 43) that goes like this:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Here the psalmist is ministering to his soul. This part of us is really all of us. It is in our soul — our very being — that we are united with Christ. But our souls are “prone to wander” as the hymns put it. And now, when all is stripped away from daily routine, our souls are raw. Every grim announcement and every sliver of hope tugs our souls this way and that; they toss us to and fro in the stormy waves of our present situation.

So as we gather tomorrow to worship; resist the temptation to sit idly and watch. Sing! Remind your soul where our hope lies. Remind your soul that even if all gives way, there is a sure Anchor that keeps us steady in the waves. It’s the Anchor that we can never lose because He holds onto us.

Sing! So your soul will not despair.

Sing! They your soul may know the Hope that keeps us even now.

Practical Ways To Give

We’ve talked a bit about giving in our sermon series the past few weeks, so you might be wondering, “ok–so how can I practice and grow in giving?”

The Old Testament will tell you that God had the Israelites consider giving their time and wealth to two general categories: Spiritual Flourishing, (through giving to the Levite priests,) and  Physical Flourshing, (through giving to the sojourner, widow, and the orphan.) God is saying–it’s not enough to just give to one–your love through generosity needs to be considering a wholistic approach to caring for others. 

I wanted to share a few of our official partners that our Diaconate team has been working with, along with some christian organizations and missionaries we either support or have ministries that effect our city and local Flushing community. In each of the links you can learn more about their mission and see how to possibly give some of your time and wealth to the work God is doing there. 

Missionaries: Mark and Rachel Kim and family – The Kims are missionaries to Japan and are serving at Christ Bible Institute to train future Japanese pastors. 

Missionaries: James and Nanci Long and family – The Longs are serving in Jakarta, Indonesia, based in their church there, Providence Fellowship Church, and ministering to many refugees in their city. 

Missionaries: The Watanabe Family – The Watanabes are working with the church planting orginization, City to City, to help foster new churches and pastors.

Garden of Hope – A local organization focusing on serving, caring, and rebuilding the lives of people who have been exposed to domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking; specifically targeting its services towards the growing Chinese communities.

Borough Pregnancy Center –  BPCC aims to inspire life in those experiencing unplanned pregnancies through comprehensive, compassionate care.

Open Hands Legal Services –  Through legal means and support, this organization’s vision is to uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed in NYC.

Center For All AbilitiesAn organization with sites in Manhattan and Flushing that supports individuals with autism, pervasive developmental disorders, Down syndrome, sensory integration disorders, and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and individuals with emotional challenges as well. 

Some final thoughts are:

  • Don’t feel like you need to give to all of these. Consider your own story and heart. Ask God what area He is calling you to joyfully give to His kingdom?
  • Ask yourself (and your spouse if you have one,) “am I giving in a way that wakes me up?” It’s easy for us to give in portions that don’t effect us–but the Bible teaches us that we should not only give in such a way that brings good to others–but also do so in a way that wakes us up from the clutch of greed and apathy. 
  • Set your mind on the prize–we’re kingdom people, and our thoughts need to foster an imagination of what the kingdom should and could be when God’s story is complete. The exciting part of giving in these ways is that, we can trust He is using these gifts and acts of generosity to bring His kingdom further into the world.
  • Lastly, consider praying about how to grow in generosity toward the local body of Christ. If you’re a member of KCC, then consider the ratio of your time and wealth given. If you’re not a member, we’re going to be having classes at the beginning of the Fall season, and we’d love to invite you to consider joining yourself to this particular body of Christ. 

When Life Gets Wild, God is Good

Hello Church,

Elder Matt here. As our church’s 7th annual Summer Saturday Program is fast approaching, it is important that we remember how our Lord Jesus Christ considers and sees the children.

In Luke 9:46-48, Jesus’s disciples are arguing who amongst themselves is the greatest. Jesus responds by taking a child by his side and says,

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is the greatest.”

Luke 9:46-48

Jesus is saying that whoever loves the low, the poor, the sick, the widowed, the suffering, the forgotten, whoever enacts mercy and justice will be great in God’s eyes. And although some children today are the most cared for in the history of mankind, there are still many children today who are not as loved and cherished as they should be. And so Jesus is saying that among the greatest are CEM teachers, SSP volunteers, and anyone else who serves the destitute and defenseless. How amazing is it to take part in such an endeavor and task that our God sees as weighty and great?! To be part of God’s plan in forming new friendships and planting seeds of the loving gospel of Jesus Christ into the hearts of little ones…YES!!! The children in SSP, and CEM, and everywhere are important and cherished by God, and we should believe the same too. No matter how many or how young or old, every single child is worth our time.

Working with children is always a difficult task. If you are volunteering, know that despite kids being uncooperative at times, and the craziness that comes with leading and teaching children, God is with you. As you have experienced mercy from God numerous times, show mercy and compassion to these children. Be their friend, even if they don’t want to be your friend, lol!

And if you are unable to participate at SSP, we humbly ask that you pray with us. Let’s give thanks to God for this opportunity, and here are three things that you can approach God’s throne of grace for:

Pray that whoever God brings to us, that the Holy Spirit may work and stir the hearts of the children, and the parents, to hear and believe that they are in need of a savior for their sins, and that Jesus loves them and is the only one who can forgive and change them, and give them hope, renewal, and acceptance from God. (Rom 3:23-24 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.)

Pray that God would grant all of the volunteers the faith to trust that God is present with them as they work for and teach the children. That despite their tiredness and weakness, God will be their strength. That they have nothing to offer, but that everything comes from God. (2 Cor 2:9 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.) 

Pray that as a church we will be welcoming, caring, and celebratory towards children. That even after SSP is all done we can continue the good work of teaching the gospel to the children and see the value and weight that this has in the eyes of our God. (Luke 9:46-48)

Bottom line, lets all pray that God’s will may be done.

When life gets wild, God is good!

Lent 2019: Embracing Death in the Land of the Living

was crucified, died, and was buried.

The Apostles’ Creed

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about human flourishing. What makes a human flourish? What does real flourishing look like? One prominent Korean scholar and writer made a keen observation that one tragic reality of this world is that people don’t think about death anymore. He thinks it’s tragic because human flourishing takes place when we truly embrace death. I deeply agree with him but how do we embrace this truth?

Our family watched a fascinating documentary about Pacific salmon a few weeks ago. One amazing fact I learned is that it only takes a few drops of water from their stream of birth in the ocean for salmon to find the path to where they were born. Their journey upstream is plagued by hungry bears and birds. Their lungs don’t function properly in fresh water so they get less oxygen as they get closer to their home. Thus, the moment they embark on their journey, the dying process begins. When they make it to their birth place and lay their eggs, all that remains is to await their last breath. This death brings life not only to hungry animals but also to the whole forest. The flourishing of the ecosystem depends on their dead bodies. All three of us were awestruck by the life and death of salmon, by their determination, bravery, and instinctual sacrifice. The image of a dead salmon completely absorbed in the soil and becoming the source of food for plants and trees captured my imagination and kept me thinking about the fascinating cosmic design for flourishing encapsulated in the life and death of a fish. 

Today is Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter. This is the day Jesus’s body embraced death. Jesus’s body in the tomb. No voice from heaven. Everything stopped. The disciples likely spent the day in fear or in immense grief. We, thankfully, can spend this day contemplating the world of darkness that would exist without the hope of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus died and conquered death. By the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been moved from the land of the dead to the land of the living. Our eternal life is sealed. However, that’s not the end of the story. 

Now we are invited by the indwelling Holy Spirit to this profound paradoxical truth that embracing death will lead us to true living and flourishing. That’s what we should also think about on this day. Jesus strongly exhorts us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:24-26) 

This is the picture of true flourishing for us: embracing death in the land of the living. Christian writer and speaker Andy Crouch, in his book Strong and Weak, describes embracing death as “relinquishing power and authority, embracing a position of unequivocal vulnerability.” Where our selfish passions and desires die (Gal 5:24), we will begin to see our lives truly flourish. Jesus calls us to a life of flourishing, life lived to the full, living rather than merely existing. He wants us to flourish so that the rest of the world can flourish. How will we respond? 

Prayer (from Psalm 27:13-14)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
        in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
        be strong, and let your heart take courage;
        wait for the LORD!
Amen