Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Church

One question we get alot is what church we've decided to join here in Boston. We've pretty much decided to become involved at Citylife Presbyterian (PCA) Church. How do I describe this church? Hmm...well, it's located in the middle of downtown Boston and it's main focus is to reach urban professionals. It's a new church, maybe like five or so years old, but it's grown to about 600 people already. The makeup of the church is mostly young, urban professionals in their 20s and 30s. It's about 50% Asian-American, 45% white and 5% other. Here's a picture I found on the website of the congregation.
So for you folks in Houston, the people are kinda like the folks you might find at Ecclesia, except more asian-americans. I guess that's because there are a lot of asian-americans living in downtown Boston, going to unviersities and what not. The musical style is similar to Ecclesia's -- an indy-rock or alt-rock vibe. The musicians are very talented. However, citylife is different from Ecclesia in that the theology and preaching is a little different. It is very intellectual and you might say scholarly (yet still very engaging and interesting). The pastor is this Korean-American guy named Stephen Um. He actually teaches some classes at my seminary. He has a Ph.D. in theology and you can tell (I mean that in a good way). Here's a fuzzy and tiny picture of him.
We chose Citylife for alot of reasons, but one reason its that we think it's a good mix of solid biblical teaching and actively reaching out to young urban professionals, which we're also interested in reaching. I think the church emphasizes the Gospel as the core of everything they do and I like that. It's a bit of a drive into the city, but we think it's worth it. Hopefully I can get involved in it a little more for some ministry experience as time goes by. We'll see to what capacity. It seems like there are alot of vibrant new churches in Boston. We visited the Boston Vineyard, Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, and Highrock Church. And from first impressions, all of these churches seemed vibrant to me. We just liked Citylife the best. Why not a Chinese church you ask? Well, we've grown up in Chinese churches all our lives (for me, I've never attended a non-Chinese church), and at least for now, we would just like to try something different. Okay, that's it for now! Hope everyone's enjoying the thanksgiving/christmas season!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Little Bit of Snow

Today it snowed! Not very much, but still enough to call it snow. I was leaving for work and saw precipitation falling outside, and thinking it was rain, I went back to get my umbrella. Then I got outside and realized it was snow! Thankfully there wasn't that much, so I didn't have to scrape stuff off my car or anything like that, and the roads were normal. But there were definitely some collections of tiny white dots all over my car. Too bad I didn't have my camera to take pictures, but I guess I'll just save that for when it really snows. I must say it's interesting being in a place where people don't run outside and make a big deal out of something like this.

On another note, the tables have turned. Last week I talked in my sleep on at least two nights. The first time, I think I said something about a couple of friends of ours, like maybe I was asking Ben if they were coming over or something. The second time I had been dreaming about watching a movie or something where a leprechaun fell down, and I thought it was funny, and I asked Ben to go back so we could see it again. Both times Ben woke up and asked me if I was talking in my sleep, and I actually semi-woke up as well and tried to explain what I was talking about. Because my dreams and accompanying explanations were a little weird, especially the one about the leprechaun, he thought I was continuing to talk in my sleep.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reading the Whole Bible

About a month ago, Rachel and I decided to start a bible reading plan to read the whole bible in a year. We are using the M'Cheyne plan which is a classic plan (from 1842) that includes portions from all parts of the Bible every day. This is actually the first time that I've actually tried to do this. A month into it, I'd really like to recommend it to everyone. These are the reasons:

I realized how much of a "New Testament Christian" I have been -- by this, I mean basically ignoring the Old Testament. Though I've tried to read the O.T. for devotions, I think I always find myself reading more of the N.T. in my devotions, and I think undoubtedly in church, we hear more from the N.T. than the O.T. Why? I think it's much more difficult to teach and read the O.T. We have a hard time dealing with a God who commands Israel to make war on its neighbors, then who is so wrathful against Israel in the prophets, we have a hard time seeing anything "to apply" from the stories, and the Psalms and other wisdom literature seem repetitive to us. We love the grace and love explained in the New Testament. While it is definitely true that Jesus is the key to understanding the Old Testament and God, I think we have an anemic view of God and his love by ignoring the Old Testament. What is God's love without his wrath? In my opinion, it is not really love. We want to believe in a God who just loves everyone, who accepts everyone, without punishing people. But is that really love? Does a father love his children if he "just loves them" no matter what they do? Does he love them if he just lets them eat all the sweets they want until they get sick, go out and party and become addicted to drugs, and then later in life when they are messed up and come back to him he just tries to ignore their problems and tell them he loves them? Actually, the more someone truly loves us, the more it hurts them when we hurt ourselves: If someone truly loves us, he or she will HATE the sin in us.

If you read the O.T. with this in mind, I think you will see a God who loves Israel and saves and delivers them even though they continue to mess up their own lives. Because God truly loves them, he is wrathful against their sin. The Israelites can't escape themselves though...they keep messing up. But throughout the O.T. you see a God who promises to love Israel. And in the Prophets and some of the Psalms, he hints at how he will love a people who is always messing up. How can God love us in spite of our sin? Only through pouring out his wrath on his very own Son on our behalf. All that wrath in the O.T. was poured out on Christ on the cross so that we could be loved and accepted completely by God and truly become his children. And that changes us from the very core. The law can finally "be written on our hearts." What did it cost my God to love me? Everything. He took hell for me. I will stop trying to save myself. I will stop trying to please everyone. I am free because my Father has called me his child by dying for me.

God's love is so much more electrifying when I read the O.T. I hope you will read the O.T. too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

God's Provision 2 - A New Job!

As some of you have heard already - after many weeks of resume and cover letter writing, prayer and some tears, I have been blessed with a new job!

Starting this Monday, Nov. 5, I will be a Marketing Assistant with a non-profit hospice organization that provides mostly in-home care and services to patients with terminal illnesses as well as emotional and spiritual support services to families of patients. They also have a 12-bed in-patient facility where they provide these services.

A few brief answers to some questions you might ask:

- What are you going to do? I will basically serve as a support staff member to the Marketing team, so my duties will include anything to help implement the marketing programs set up by the Marketing Manager and VP, as well as some general administrative tasks.

- What do you do to market a hospice organization? From what I know so far, education is the emphasis - primarily, educating patients and families about the services offered so that they will use the services, and educating healthcare providers so that they will refer their patients. Other target groups would include potential volunteers and donors. The tactics are more like community outreach and public relations (e.g., speakers' bureaus) - not as much things like broadcast or print advertising, although there is some of that as well.

- Are you going to work with hospice patients? I will rarely, if ever, have direct contact with hospice patients because I will be on the administrative side of the organization and in the administrative offices. But of course I still have to understand their needs and situations as best as I can.

That's a quick overview - I'll probably have more details after I get started. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement during this job search process. I'd greatly appreciate your continued prayers, specifically that this new job would work out well and that Ben and I will make the necessary adjustments in our daily schedules to balance work/school and personal life. Above all, thank God for His faithfulness and provision! His love never fails!