July 28, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
Fishermen are a peculiar kind of people. We like to keep our secret techniques and tackle close to our vests for fear that someone else might catch our trophy fish, and we might come home empty-handed. Conversely, we also don’t like to take advice from non-fishers. What could they possibly tell us that hours or years on the water hasn’t already taught us?
Simon was probably like this – a professional fisherman by birth and training. He knew when and where to find the fish. I’d imagine he didn’t have many days where he returned empty handed. And along comes a non-fisherman, saying some nonsense like, “Have you tried throwing your nets over to the deep side?”
4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
Luke 5: 4-6
I’d imagine if I was Simon, I would probably retort with a choice word or two, but Simon did as he was asked, and to his astonishment, he hauled in a catch of a lifetime!
This passage represents some of what I’ve been feeling lately. A lot of work, and little to show for it. But then I’m reminded to listen to my savior, and hear what He is calling me to do. Stop relying on my strategies, my wisdom, my planning.
So I’m trying to do just that. We don’t know how long this shelter in place will last, and we don’t know what our worship services will look like once its over. But God does. And God knows where to cast the nets, where to direct the effort, where to spend the resources. So let’s pray together – as a church family – that we would hear from God on where to cast our nets.
July 21, 2020
Dear HOC5 family,
I would like you to imagine with me a very interesting scenario. I want you to imagine that today Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man with $189 Billion dollars under his name, called you and offer you a deal you can’t turn down: free money. How much you ask? $86,400 to be exact. You might say: “I make more than that!” Well, here is another crazy thing, Jeff Bezos in his crazy generous mood wants to give you $86,400 EVERY DAY!! The only catch is that you have to spend that money that day and cannot carry over to the next. Now before you go and buy yourself a new car, this is only hypothetical. However, what is NOT hypothetical is that someone far wealthier and powerful is offering you something along that line.
It is often said “time is money”, and if we were to calculate how many seconds we have in each day we would get exactly 86,400 seconds. With each waking moment, our heavenly Father is offering us the ability to spend those seconds or “money” in any way we see fit. However, like those who squandered away lottery winnings or family inheritances, I often observed that we do not use our time wisely. For example, I have been re-watching a certain Korean Drama for the third time. It is my way to unwind from a stressful day. Therefore, in Psalm 90 Moses left behind these wise words: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
As I “number” my days, I realized that I am about half way through my life here on earth according to Moses’ teaching in Psalm 90. This means that my days are literally numbered and I should be careful on how I spend my days. Now I am not saying we can’t do things to entertain, however I am asking us to rethink how we spend our days. Are we spending appropriate amount of time with God? With our loved ones? Or have we been burying our heads in work or other ways to escape our current reality?
Perhaps the greatest challenge I heard from many has been spending time with God during COVID 19. It feels like we now have the flexibility on when to spend time in the Word but what ended up happening is that we spend our time one everything except the Word. Like many argue for breakfast as the most important meal of the day since it starts your day right, I would argue that spending time with God is the most important thing in a day. Start your day right and your day will be alright. Will you join me to start our day in the Word before we do anything else? Before checking your email, the news, or even brush? This habit has transformed my life for almost 10 years, I hope it will make your life different too!
July 14, 2020
Dear Home of Christ family,
I miss dimsum! Just writing that out makes me a bit embarrassed with all of the hurt our world is enduring right now. But I do miss sitting down in a noisy restaurant, having a whole host of steamed and fried plates come right up to me.
One dish that I will often get is rice porridge with 1000 year old egg. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and I have tried sharing this dish with others, but have been told that the egg smells like flatulence. It’s the craziest thing – I think it’s delicious, while others think it smells like farts!
The process of how the egg is transformed is actually quite interesting. The eggs are cured in clay, ash, salt for several weeks to several months and slowly transforms from what we think of when we think of eggs, to a dark gelatinous substance with a dark green yolk. You either love it or you hate it!
I was thinking that in some ways, as Christians, we’re a bit like 1000 year old eggs.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth,
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
We have been transformed by Christ, our minds have been renewed, we’re baptized into His spirit and His family, and the end result is we have a distinct aroma, that is the aroma of the knowledge of Christ.
As we continue to live out our faith during these chaotic and challenging times by loving one another, forgiving one another, serving one another, there will be some who will look at our lives and wonder, what is that beautiful aroma? I want to experience that. During those times we will have an opportunity to share with them the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
Still there will be others who will look at our lives and be critical and judgmental in how we live and love one another. They may say we’re naïve, or foolish, but Paul reminds us, that’s ok. Keep living out the faith that you have in Jesus Christ. Keep loving God with all your heart. Keep loving your neighbor as yourself.
And keep eating dimsum!
July 8, 2020
Dear Home of Christ family,
This week, as we’ve been reading the temptation of Jesus, this passage from Heb 12:1-2 comes to mind.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
As I approach my 17th year of ministry at HOC5, there have been many people who have “surrounded me” and cheered me on not only in ministry but in faith as well. One in particular that I think about is my maternal grandmother. She was an uneducated woman who somehow managed to memorize the entire New Testament and would constantly encourage me to pray and to read and memorize scripture. Although she was nearly blind in her old age, she saw the promises of God more clearly than I ever have. And even now as I envision her in the arms of Jesus watching all of her children and grandchildren, she’s yelling out “jiā yóu” which quite literally means to add gas, but has always been a phrase of encouragement for all of us grandchildren.
This cloud of witnesses isn’t limited to only those who have passed on. It can also include every single one of us as we cheer each other on to run the race which Christ has set before us. It includes our small group members as they point us to look at Jesus when we share with them our struggles with temptations. As they pray with you and counsel you. It includes our discipleship groups as we bring our lives and look to Jesus together, searching scripture to know and love Jesus. It includes our worship leaders as they point us towards Christ through music.
God has given us an entire family to overcome temptation - the church. Our responsibility is to point others towards Christ, to keep our eyes focused on Christ, and encourage each other as we run this race together.
Jiā yóu everyone!
June 30, 2020
Dear Home of Christ family,
A few weeks ago, we sent out a survey asking our congregants, what worship song has been meaningful to you. If you haven’t filled out the survey, please do. Survey
For me, one song that has been meaningful has been, “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes.
When I entered into ministry as a preacher, I didn’t really understand the purpose or role of the benediction. It seemed something that only the more liturgical churches would practice. A rote recital of words to end a service. I was a pragmatist, practical to the core. A closing prayer seemed more than adequate.
However, I’ve come to realize the power and beauty of a benediction as well as the difference between a benediction and a prayer. A prayer is our request to God. A benediction is God’s proclamation of good over us. Benediction comes from two latin words; bene, which means ‘good,’ and dicere, which means ‘to speak.’ A benediction is God proclaiming His goodness towards his people. It is not an ask, but a proclamation of a reality from God.
“The Blessing” which comes straight out of scripture from Numbers 6:24-26.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
This is one of the most ancient benedictions spoken throughout Jewish and Christian history, and in recent weeks and month, has been sung by choirs, churches, people across our globe, in multiple languages, by people of all ages.
This benediction is a reminder to me that during a chaotic time in our nation and our world’s history, there is a God that knows everything. There is a God who can bring calm to the storm, can bring blessings in the midst of divisions, hostility, and disease. There is a God who looks upon me and grants me grace and peace. And because of this good word, this divine reality, I live with confidence and hope that God is for me, and for us.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
Make He lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace!
June 24, 2020
Dear HOC5 Family,
Will this get better or worse? With the current headlines we have in the news this verse has come to my attention, time and time again as it relates to “the times” we are in right now…
(Matt 24:6 ESV) " 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet."
So, what is the context of this verse? The disciples are super excited to show Jesus the magnificent temple they had in Jerusalem, and truly it was magnificent! Each massive block of stone that made up the temple was like works of art all pieced together. Yet as they marveled at this great man-made structure, Jesus dropped a comment on the future and said, “(Matt 24:2 ESV) "Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.""”
This troubled the disciples so they asked Jesus to explain what He meant. You see, not only was Jesus talking about the fate of the temple but He also used this opportunity to teach his disciples about the end of days.
Friends, as we get closer and closer to the end times, Matthew, Daniel and Revelation all seem to agree that the violence and chaos will increase and not decrease. YES our world will get worse and NO it will not get better overall, but the key point from Matt 24:6 is that we are, “not alarmed” because He has already told you, that these events, “must take place”.
Now in the course of history, there have definitely been ups and downs. Sometimes things got really bad, other times problems cleared up only to be replaced by a new set of troubles. The point is that Jesus is the only one who can completely free this world from all the sin and chaos. You can read about it in Revelation 19 where Jesus returns like a conquering hero.
What does this mean for us today? There are a couple things we need to understand:
1st) We as Christians are honestly very comfortable. Most of us have not suffered for the faith, nor have we faced active persecution for what we believe. Don’t expect that to last. While we are thankful for the time of rest, we will grow stronger through the eventual suffering we will all go through for Jesus.
2nd) We as Christians don’t search the Scriptures like we should. I agree some denominations have an unhealthy fascination over the teachings of the end times, but many of us have never read about it, and likewise will be caught off guard when they do come to pass. Like Jerusalem who failed to recognize her King, we too may miss what has been written about in the Word.
3rd) We as Christians might also doubt the powerful hand of God to bring about restoration and reconciliation. Sometimes we are tempted like Moses to fix the injustice of the world with our own hands while in the end making more of a mess than if we had taken time to wait upon the Lord for help. It is always unwise to rush out in our own strength and wisdom.
So here is my challenge to you. Read some of the texts on the end times (Matt 24, 1st Thes 4-5, 2 Thes 2, Dan 7, 9, 12, & the book of Revelation), and see how Jesus is at the center of all of these texts. I would also say that the best thing you can do right now is in the strength of the Lord share the gospel with those you love so that both you and they would be ready for His return for the end times could be near. God bless my friends.
June 16, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of justice, and more specifically what God has to say about justice. Our entire country has been embroiled over the lack of justice for black lives. Or we talk about a broken justice system. All this causes me to think, what does scripture have to say about justice?
In scripture, the word that is used for justice (tsedeq in Hebrew OT, and dikaios in Greek NT) is also the same word that is used for righteousness. Justice and righteousness are two sides of the same coin!
A good definition of this word is “A right relationship among all things with God.”
As a society, we ought to be working towards reflecting God’s care and love for all people, and at the same time I was reminded that true justice can only come when we enter into a right relationship with God.
So brothers and sisters, as we continue engaging with what is going on in our culture – be rooted in Christ…. and practice justice. (Micah 6:8)
I’ve been reading “Woke Church” by Eric Mason, and invite you to read along with me. I found this quote to be helpful.
"Justice points to the execution of heart of God, and righteousness means intrinsic impact by the heart of God. You have to be intrinsically changed by God in order for justice to be done. In other words, justice doesn’t come by legislation, because you can legislate things and nothing changes. We can go to the executive branch. We can go to the legislative branch. We can go to the judicial branch. We can put whatever kind of Supreme Court justices we want to put in place. But at the end of the day legislation doesn’t change hearts … only the gospel does...
So we must continue to work together to hold America accountable for what it promised to do. But we understand that we have at our disposal something that is much greater than man-made documents. We have the glorious gospel!"
Mason, Eric. Woke Church (pp. 50-51)
June 10, 2020
Dear HOC5 Family,
Since the topic of race is on all of our minds and hearts these days, I wanted to share a few stories from my own experience.
When I was a kid growing up, I was asked on several occasions by my caucasian school friends if I knew Kung Fu. I didn’t know what Kung Fu was, so I said yes (Make it till you fake it started early for me!). Little did I realize until that point, my friends saw me as someone unlike themselves.
One day in school, we were asked to share what we had for breakfast, and I proudly stated that my mom had made me cheung fun, which was my favorite – the sweet rice rolls soaked in soy sauce, definitely not food pyramid approved. And to my embarrassment, no one around me knew what I was talking about, some making disdainful faces in my direction.
I realized from an early age that I wasn’t like many of my “American” friends.
Later on, when I was in middle school, my family visited Shanghai. Finally, a culture that could appreciate rice rolls! Until one of the locals commented to me, “You’re not really Chinese, are you?”
That feeling of otherness has shaped my life in many ways - wanting to fit into at least one of those two cultures. To the Americans, I didn’t seem American enough. And to the Chinese, I definitely wasn’t Chinese enough.
I’m not comparing the racism that I experienced to those in the African American communities, but in some ways, we have all experienced being outsiders, wanting to fit in.
But scripture reminds me – there is still a third way. Paul writes these words in Gal 3:26,28.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As I continue on my journey of listening and learning, one thing that I must remind myself, regardless of what race, skin color, social standing someone else is – in Christ, they are my brothers and my sisters. And as my brothers and sisters, it is my responsibility to learn how to love and care for them.
So, I want to invite you to a night of “Listening and Learning” with Pastor Marcus Givens as he shares with us his experiences growing up as an African American man in the Bay Area and across the nation. You’ll find ZOOM information and a place to ask questions in the announcement below. I look forward to this space where we can learn to love one another with Christ's love - beginning first by listening.
6/10, 8-9:30PM Listen and Learn with Pastor Marcus Givens
Join us as Pastor Marcus Givens shares with us his experiences growing up African American in the Bay Area and beyond. Pastor Marcus has been a long time friend of the Home of Christ Church and speaker over the past 3 decades.
Contact email@example.com for the ZOOM ID.
June 1, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
By now, most of you have seen images of protests and violence tearing through our country, as communities across our nation express outrage against the systemic oppression of our black brothers and sisters, fellow citizens but most importantly, fellow image-bearers of God. I barely processed the ruthless murder of Ahmaud Arbery when the video of George Floyd crying out for help came into my news feed, yet another life taken needlessly.
Over the past week, my heart has been heavy as I witnessed his arrest, the officer's knee crushing George's neck - a symbol for an entire group of people who have been oppressed and brutalized by those in power. Witnessing the black community's cry of outrage and grief, I’ve also felt guilt for my own role in this system, recognizing my own inherent racism and privilege.
As an Asian-American, I wrestle with my place in this conversation, which tends to be primarily construed as a black/white issue. My Asian immigrant upbringing taught me to submit to those in authority, work hard, keep my mouth shut, believing that my hard work and good deeds would eventually be rewarded and pay off.
As I listen to voices from my fellow brothers and sisters in the black community however, I realize their experiences are vastly different from mine. I’ve never been coached on how to respond to an officer when pulled over. The thought never even crossed my mind that an officer would try to hurt me. I’ve never been warned not to go for a walk or run late at night for fear of racial violence.
It is very clear to me, however, as I read through Scripture that God demands justice whenever and wherever injustice exists - to stand with and for the powerless, to protect the vulnerable – not just when it is convenient for me, but at all times.
In the Old Testament, God gives Amos a powerful image of justice bursting forth like a tsunami wave, and in its destructive wake, removing all vestiges of injustice. (Amos 5:24)
In the New Testament, Jesus honors those who care for the hungry, the weak, and the poor because they are in fact serving him. (Mat 25:40)
Where this leads me, I’m still unsure. I don’t believe any political system, political leader, or legislation can cure what is fundamentally a sin issue, apart from the renewing work of the Holy Spirit and the life changing message of the gospel.
But what I can do right now is to examine my own heart and repent of the racism that I harbor. I can share in the grief of my fellow black brothers and sisters as I lament with them over another senseless murder, and cry out with them for justice. I can listen to their stories without rationalizing or minimizing their experiences, and take steps to educate myself on the systemic oppression that exists in our country.
And whenever and wherever I am able to speak up against injustice, I pray that God will give me courage to be a drop in the tsunami of His justice bursting forth.
Will you join me this Weds, 6/3 at 8PM as we spend an hour in lament and prayer for the family of George Floyd, the men and women who put on uniforms to protect us, our brothers and sisters who live through this reality daily, those in governmental authority over us, and for our nation itself?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for ZOOM meeting details.
May 27, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
I long for the day when we can be together again, without fear of disease or mindful of the physical distance between us. I know for many, this time of sheltering in place has been a lonely one. Some of us may feel estranged from our spiritual family, even with digital interventions like Zoom and online church. Some of us are beginning to feel that perhaps God Himself is far from us.
I am encouraged by the prophet Isaiah and his beautiful portrayal of God’s love for His people in this week’s Bible reading. Even as the people were held in captivity, far from their land, far from their temple, seemingly far from their God – Isaiah reminds them of God’s deep love for them:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
I hope you know that you are deeply loved by God today and this week!
Recently, in a meeting with some of our church leaders, we were asked to share a book and author that made a profound impact on our lives. The book I shared was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.
I want to end with a story from Brennan that profoundly changed the way I experience God’s love.
Several years ago, Edward Farrell, a priest from Detroit, went on a two-week summer vacation to Ireland to visit relatives. His one living uncle was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday. On the great day, Ed and his uncle got up early. It was before dawn. They took a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney and stopped to watch the sunrise. They stood side by side for a full twenty minutes and then resumed walking. Ed glanced at his uncle and saw that his face had broken into a broad smile. Ed said, “Uncle Seamus, you look very happy.” “I am.” Ed asked, “How come?” And his uncle replied, “The Father is very fond of me.”
May 19, 2020
Dear HOC5 family,
The disciple John, while he was sheltering in place on a deserted island called Patmos, writes these words : "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."
During this shelter in place, we are frequently asking these questions: How are you doing? Are you staying healthy? Do you have enough groceries? But John reminds us that our physical well-being is only part of our entire well-being. The other part, the eternal part, is our soul.
How is your soul doing?
I first heard this question from Pastor John Ortberg and have since used it with regularity.
It's not asking "How are you doing?" or "What are you doing?" - both questions which can be answered without much thought.
It forces us to pause, and take a serious assessment of our inner life, our private life- a life comprised of motivations, thoughts and desires living in tension with our physical outside world, what everyone else sees.
So let me ask you this question - How is your soul doing as we shelter in place and miss being able to gather together, when we have suffered many different losses of personal space, regular routines and rhythms, the future plans that once filled our calendar squares?
How have you taken time to tend to your soul during this time? What are the things you are engaging in that bring you closer to God? What things and distractions are preventing you from connecting with God?
Let me encourage you this week to spend some time examining your soul, taking a thoughtful look at the reflection in the mirror.
If you find that your soul is drifting away from God, spend some time this week praying, meditating on scripture, soaking in nature, and reflecting on the goodness of God.
My prayer for us, Home of Christ Family, is that we will not only just be in good health, but that all will be well in the secret wells of our souls.
May 13, 2020
Dear HOC5 family,
As we enter our 10th week of sheltering-in-place, I will admit my life has felt like a whirlwind of activity, a never ending merry-go-round, a tyranny of the urgent. There always seems to be more to do: more projects to tackle, more responsibilities to share, more meals to cook, more schoolwork to oversee, more online meetings to attend, more content to consume, more arguments to arbitrate, and chapters to read in our Love this Book!
However, without the normal boundaries between work and home or school and home, the "more" has taken over our previous sanctuaries of rest and quiet.
In the midst of our own familial arguments that living in confined spaces seemingly inevitably bring up, I'm reminded this week of another sibling argument that the bible records. Two sisters, with two very different approaches to life; Mary and Martha.
Martha, the hard working and industrious type was slaving away, while Mary, the care free and free spirit, sat at the feet of Jesus, soaking in his teaching. Indignant at the lack of effort on her sisters part, Martha complains to Jesus, and this is his response to her.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I wonder in the midst of your busy-ness, how have you positioned yourself to sit at the feet of Jesus? This reminds me that all of the busyness that I accomplish today or during this period of time will one day pass away, but the relationship I have with my savior - that is what I take with me into eternity. Won't you choose what is better today?
- Dean Yuan
May 5, 2020
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
~ Paul to the Believers in Philippi
(Philippians 1:3-7 NIV)
Dear HOC5 family and friends,
I was working on a project the other day and one of the questions I had to answer was “write your own eulogy”. At first I just put down the typical “Jim was a great guy blah blah blah”. But my professor gave me the feedback that my answers were too general and not deep enough. So I had to dig deeper. I started to ask how and why I want people to remember me. Was it to feed my ego? Was it to benefit others? I also started to wonder what my two daughters or my wife would write in their eulogy about me, how will they remember me by?
As I read Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, I can’t help but wonder if Paul would speak the same about me. That when he prays for me, there is a smile on his face. That when he thinks of me, he is thankful to God for me. That when he talks about me, he calls me “my partner in the gospel”. That he remembers the journeys we took together from the very first day, and how he is confident that I am on the path God has set out for me.
If I may challenge you this week to reflect on your life and perhaps even write an eulogy for yourself, what will it say about you? If your family members were to write an eulogy about you, would they remember you the way you want them to remember? What about your friends? Ministry partners? Coworkers?
My prayers for all of us this week is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work of transformation in our lives. That whatever “good” that God started in all of us will not “pause” because we are now chasing after praises of men or things of the world or even selfish desires. May we surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. May we let Him speak through our devotions, our prayers, our worship, and the sermons you listened to. May we act on these promptings regardless of how difficult it may be. May we keep in step with the Spirit!
April 29, 2020
Dear HOC5 family and friends,
I am sure by now you have heard that our county has extended the SIP to the end of May but some easing up might be coming should we hit some milestones set by the governor. As I contemplate the possible end to the worst of this pandemic, I can’t help but wonder what the church will be like in the aftermath. What will people say about Christ’s bride when this is all over? What will people say about you and me?
Today I want to share with you a short passage from Ephesians 2:10. “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I love that this scripture reminds us that God created and saved us for His own specific reason. That we are to “perform” a certain role at the time and place He has placed us. That this pandemic is no mistake of God nor is it the result of God’s inadequacy. If we believe that God is sovereign, then we must also trust that everything that has been happening is a part of God’s grand design. Thus we must ask the question: why? And I believe it is so that we, as individual Christ followers and as a collective of the Body, will grow and make a difference in this pandemic. Will you continue to challenge yourself to read the Word even if you don’t feel like it? Pray even if you feel it’s being unanswered? Love even if you doubt your compassion would make a difference?
May all of us become more Christ-like at the end of this tunnel!
April 22, 2020
Dear HOC5 family,
It is amazing how a text that is 2600 years old still speaks to us today, even in our current situation. Habakkuk writes in his opening chapter:
"O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you COVID-19* and you will not save?"
*that's what I would like to think Habakkuk would have cried out in our times
Granted, Habakkuk was talking about an evil and wicked nation that God was using to discipline his people, but the emotional distress that he feels has been similar to some of my feelings. "O Lord, when will we hit the peak?" "O Lord, when will the numbers go down?" "O Lord, when will we see our friends again?" "O Lord, when will we worship together as your church again?"
I'm comforted by the words of Habakkuk in chapter 3, as he reflects on the works of God, the character of God, the majesty and glory of God, his final words are one of the most hopeful words in the Old Testament.
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
I pray that during this time of Shelter-in-Place, you will encounter the majesty and glory of God through scripture, prayer, meditation, even nature. And through it, we can declare together, "Yet we will rejoice in the Lord, We will take joy in the God of our salvation!" May that be the cry of our hearts.
April 14, 2020
Dear HOC5 family,
In our Love This Book reading this past week I was thinking about how different David's heart for God is compared to mine. In the story about David and Goliath I see that David is zealous for God's name. I think I'm a lot more like Gideon in his reluctance and timidness. But David isn't discouraged by his youthful age, or his brother getting on his case, or even King Saul telling him he isn't able to defeat Goliath. David is undeterred by what people have to say and fully confident in God's ability to work through him. I pray for myself and our church that God would open our hearts to love Him with the kind of ferocity and devotion we see in David's heart. I pray that we will be bold and courageous.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." 1 Sam 17:45
April 8, 2020
To the Home of Christ family,
In the past few weeks while I have been trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’ I have to confess I took little time to process spiritually and personally what has taken place and what is to come to pass in the next few months.
But this week, challenged to write this e-mail, I had the chance to let my soul catch up and address this need in my life. I also had the chance to read JC Ryle’s sermon on “sickness” and it really blessed me so I would like to share a few of his points with you.
First, sickness is unlike any other trial because it has the power to turn the strongest of us into a little child and the boldest in our family to tremble and fall (Ecc 12:3-5). This will lead into the next point…
Sickness helps us remember death. To be honest if you are like me, I live most of my life thinking that I will never die or taking my health for granted. Sickness reminds us that life is short, precious and worth fighting for.
Sickness makes us think about God seriously. This has been my prayer long before our youth ministry started working on Snow Retreat this year. One of my biggest prayers during this time was that He would use this event to bring revival to our family at HOC5. Little did I know back then in February that this virus would hit so close to home and so soon. My prayers are still for revival to this day.
Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts. I definitely see this in my life and I also see this with all the ministers in our church. It is so easy and tempting to see ministry in a professional way, while almost forgetting why we got into the ministry in the first place (with a love for Christ and for His people).
Sickness is used to help ‘try’ men’s religion. Over the last few weeks, I have seen what we turn to during times of trial. What I want to ask you during a time like this is “do you turn to Christ?” Or do you turn to friends, family, homework, school, work or even cooking and housework? These past few weeks have definitely tested my foundation with the Lord Jesus Christ and I hope that you have found yourself planted on the rock and not on the sand.
My concluding thought is this... this will pass. While we all long for the day of our Lord’s return, my prayer is that we would all grow from this experience for the better. Not only as people, but also with a deeper and richer faith in the Lord. I want you to know that our prayers as pastors are with you all.
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
(Galatians 6:9 ESV)
With His love,
April 1, 2020
To my dear Home of Christ Family,
As we continue to shelter in place and practice social distancing, some of us are beginning to settle into a routine, while others are still struggling with the notion that that this will continue on for another month (at the very least!).
If you are like me, perhaps God has been working in your heart as well, identifying areas where we still have to grow in trust of our sovereign God who knows all things, whether it is for your health, physical provisions, work, or financial needs.
One of my fears over this past month is "How will our church survive?" By nature, the church is not a building, but a gathering of God's people. And throughout the course of the church's history, what defined her is that believers gathered together to worship, sometimes even in secret. So without the gathering of people for worship, for study, for prayers, for mutual encouragement, I wasn't sure how our church family would fare.
But God continues to amaze me and reminded me that although I am a shepherd, He is our ultimate Shepherd, and he knows exactly how his sheep are doing.
Over this past month, I've heard countless stories of people caring for each other, getting groceries for those in need, volunteering at food banks that are desperately in need of volunteers, sacrificially giving up their own masks to help medical professionals. I've heard countless testimonies of members praying with others over new mediums such as texts, facetime, zoom, encouraging each other with scripture, and sharing what they are learning. Instead of being consumed by the news and the ever-growing number of cases, people are consuming God through His Word, and experiencing fellowship through new and intentional ways of reaching out to others.
So thank you for reminding me that God is in control, and that God is still at work, even though we are apart. I am so proud to be a part of this family of God's disciples!
A couple of updates and reminders:
- Keep up with the readings, and watch the livestream here (or here if you want to chat along). We are still experimenting with our livestream, so keep an eye out for an update later this week.
- Please send me (email@example.com) a 10 second video introducing yourself sharing 1 thing you are grateful for.
- If you are willing to donate N95 (KN95 is acceptable as well) masks, our church will be collecting them and distributing them to local hospitals and other medical professionals. They must be in unopened packaging. The church will be opened from 11AM-Noon on Weds 4/8 for you to drop them off.
- If you need help with groceries, sign up here. If you can help others and you're willing to pick up groceries, sign up here.
- Keep praying for Dave Jou and his family. If you can commit to praying and/or fasting for him on a certain day, sign up here. (You can add your name on the first page, and read the prayer needs on the second page)
- Our church was gifted a 2 month free subscription to Dwell Bible App. This is a great app that provides an unparalleled listening experience of God's Word. Sign up for your free 2 month account here.
- During this time, we deeply appreciate your continued generosity and faithfulness in giving. We are encouraging everyone to give online at hoc5.us/giving
- If during this time if you have been hit harder financially than others, and would need some assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more informationWe would love to pray for you as a church family - send your prayer needs and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 25, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
This past week, I along with thousands of other pastors and church leaders have wrestled with what "shelter-in-place" means for our church family. One verse that came up often during this time comes from the letter to the Hebrews 10:25.
...not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
I'm sure for some of you, like me, the pain of being absent physically from the rest of the church family has been felt acutely. We are fortunate however that we have technology that mitigates some of this pain, but even with the best Zoom and live-stream feeds, we feel a hole in our hearts knowing that we are apart from one another.
However, although we are not able to meet together, as a church, we are still carrying on what the author of Hebrews intended. Verse 25 is actually only a part of the sentence, and part of the larger thought. The preceding verse gives us a little more context.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...
Just this past week, I have heard, seen, and witnessed our young people care for others by bringing groceries, and other essentials to those who are more vulnerable. I have seen brothers and sisters lend devices so those without can still stay connected and watch our live-streams. Others have thoughtfully dropped off games and activities to young families to help them have some sanity during this time. Many have collectively committed to fasting and praying for our dear brother David Jou as he struggles in the hospital. And dozens of individuals, along with our church, have donated N95 masks to local hospitals in our region.
All that to say, I am proud of our family for coming together when we can't come together. Let me encourage all of us to continue thinking of new and creative ways to "stir up one another to love and good works." Great job HOC5 family!
- One way you can do that is by sending me (email@example.com) a 10 second video introducing yourself sharing 1 thing you are grateful for.
- Another way you can help others is if you're willing pick up groceries, sign up here. And if you need help with groceries, sign up here.
- If you are willing to donate N95 (KN95 is acceptable as well) masks, our church will be collecting them and distributing them to local hospitals. They must be in unopened packaging. The church will be opened from 11AM-Noon on Weds 3/25, 4/1 and 4/8 for you to drop them off.
- Commit to praying and/or fasting for Dave Jou, sign up here. (You can add your name on the first page, and read the prayer needs on the second page)
We would love to pray for you as a church family - send your prayer needs and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 22, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
Thank you all for joining us this morning for our livestream service. We praise God that despite so many challenges and obstacles this week, technology allows us to continue to meet in ways that are not so different from our normal routine, albeit in pj's and at separate locations.
For those of you were not able to join during the livestream, watch the replay here.
We appreciate your patience as we sort through all the technical hiccups of the livestream process. As the Youtube platform continues to have some issues, we may switch to a different platform, to be determined. Please keep a look out for more information this week coming to your email inbox.
Other than email, there are a few ways to keep updated with the Sunday Service information. Please see these options below:
Church Website hoc5.church
Facebook Page Home of Christ IN Cupertino
Wishing you all a blessed week, and encouraging you all to consider how God is calling you to move in faith this week!
March 20, 2020
Dearest Church Family,
As we slowly settle into the new views and rhythms of a more stilled life, I pray that you would find shelter and hope in God's unchanging word.
May we abide in Him as our true abode, a quiet and cozy nook of security and comfort when the world outside feels chaotic and frightening.
I wanted to share a resource that has been a huge comfort to me personally, the Dwell Bible app, and more specifically, their curated "Faith Over Fear" playlist of Scripture.
The folks at Dwell have generously offered us a complimentary two month subscription to their Bible listening app, and I highly recommend a daily soak in Scripture to saturate your mind and heart when you feel blown and tossed by the rolling billows of the seas all around.
The Dwell listening experience can be customized with different narrators and musical accompaniment, allowing you to craft an ambience that most ministers to you.
There is power in hearing the promises and truths of God's Word spoken over you, and I pray you will find Dwell to be a refuge for your soul.
> Sign up for your free 2 month account here.
Praying that you will be held and steadied by God's presence both with and within you - He our true Shelter in this place.
March 17, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
These are some crazy times.
I'm typically a champion at sleeping. I've slept through earthquakes, fire alarms, and possibly while my wife was in labor. Once those lights are out, I'm out like a log. But this week, sleep has been harder to come by. Thoughts of Sunday worship mishaps run through my mind, wondering how these next few weeks will go as we all shelter in place.
As someone with an underlying respiratory condition, and a father to someone who has the same, I wonder if all of this has increased my anxiety levels. The fear of the unknown, the lack of control, not knowing when this latest order will end, or even if it will get more stringent. And maybe you feel the same.
I've taken comfort in the "love this book" reading for today from Joshua 4 (DO YOUR READINGS!)
21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
The purpose of these stones is to remember that God had provided a miraculous delivery for his people. These stones, later called ebenezer (eben meaning stone and ezer meaning help - same as the title given for Eve) were to be a visual, physical and spiritual reminder that God had saved his people once before, and he would continue to prove his faithfulness.
So in the light of these chaotic times, I want to raise up our Ebenezer.
We remember when a handful of faithful men and women decided to start the Home of Christ in Cupertino. Against formidable enemies of government, multimillion dollar tech companies, influential land developers, these faithful believers must have looked like grasshoppers in their eyes.
And yet God was faithful.
We remember how these faithful men and women raised the capital in order to convert the building into a place of worship - the financial figure seemed astronomical considering many of these immigrants were also raising their own families.
And yet God was faithful.
We remember that first worship service, just over 25 years ago, a smattering of youth and young adults, one of the first english-only congregation in the south bay.
And God has been faithful.
We remember the many baptisms over the years, the number of times the gospel has been shared, lives have been reached, families have been saved, marriages have been restored, friendships that have been formed, the tears and laughters, the births and deaths.
And through it all God has been and will be faithful to us.
So in this time of uncertainty, take some time to raise your ebenezer and remember how God has helped you.
Keep up with your readings. God's word will speak to you.
This week we will be trying something a little different with the livestream, so stay tuned for more information. Go to the link and hit "subscribe" for the latest updates.
We would love to pray for you as a church family - send your prayer needs and requests to email@example.com
Take some time to worship God. I've found these two songs to especially minister to my soul this past week.
And pray for one another, encourage one another, reach out to others, whether through facetime, hangouts, text, phone calls.
In the words of Paul, If God is for us, who (or what) can be against us!
March 12, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
As we continue to face uncertain times and feel the fear, stress, anxiety and overwhelm in and around us, I want to encourage you all with this song of David:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
I’m reminded that no matter what we face, we have a God who is our source of strength, a strong fortress to run to and take refuge in. Since we have a God like this, or more accurately, because God has us, of whom shall we be afraid?
Be encouraged, dear brothers and sisters, that in the face of uncertainty, in the face of disease, in the face of whatever you might be dealing with, God is our light and salvation. He is the ultimate source of our hope and security.
On Wednesday, 3/10, our elder board met to discuss our next steps in light of the additional directive given by the CDC . Our goal in cooperating with the county public health officials is to slow the spread of the virus to allow health workers and hospitals the ability to treat those who have been impacted by this virus adequately. Our church serves many high risk individuals, and we want to love and care for them as well.
Until further notice, here are the additional steps we will be taking-
We have decided to cancel all in-person events that meet on our church campus.
Starting this Sunday, only those who are essential to the livestream worship service will be asked to come to church. Everyone else is encouraged to watch our livestream service, which begins at 9:30 am.
I highly encourage you to participate in the live chat as you begin the livestream. Though this will not replace the actual in-person feel, hopefully it will create a sense of community as we gather remotely.
If you are unable to watch concurrently, the video will be on our YouTube channel as well as our church website at hoc5.us.
Small Groups and other Ministries
All in-person small groups, regardless of size, will be canceled and asked to meet online. Leaders will be given directions on how to host online meetings through Zoom or similar platforms.
If you would like to host a meeting and have not been approached by a church staff, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
Please continue to remember your financial generosity to Home of Christ during this difficult and unique season. Needless to say, not only has attendance taken a hit, so has our financial giving. We continue to trust the Lord to meet our financial needs, and we strongly encourage everyone to give online.
Online giving is available at hoc5.us/giving.
Those in Need
Undoubtedly, there will be those who are in need of both physical help and spiritual help. The first point of contact should be your small group leaders (or family group leaders). We are still developing strategies and ideas for caring for one another as God’s family during this time.
As a community, we believe that our Heavenly Father loves to hear from us and loves to answer our prayers.
It is our joy and blessing to be able to pray for our church family, so please send your prayer requests to email@example.com.
If you would like to join our weekly online prayer meeting, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to receive the prayer newsletters so you can pray individually for the church, please let me know as well.
And finally, we ask that you continue praying for the leadership team of the Home of Christ Church. Over the past few weeks, we have had to make some unprecedented decisions, wrestling with our faith in Jesus, and our responsibilities as members of society. We trust that we are acting in faith with these new measures, but we continue to need your prayers for continued wisdom and discernment.
March 6, 2020
Dear Home of Christ Family,
We know many of you are concerned with the developing news and spread of COVID-19, and some of us have already been impacted by this virus, whether directly or indirectly.
In a time of uncertainty and anxiety, when we feel a collective sense of fear and helplessness, remember and take hope in the truth that we belong to a God who has conquered death itself.
As we navigate these changing circumstances, we can trust that God is in control and respond in faith - however you feel that God might be leading you in this current situation.
Today at noon, our Elder Board met to discuss our next steps in light of the most recent guidelines and recommendations from Santa Clara County Public Health Department. The Elder Board will be closely monitoring the situation and will continue to give updated guidance as more recommendations are given by our county and state officials.
Until further notice, we are encouraging everyone to worship online. We can still worship together and gather virtually through our livestream service which will begin at 9:30 am (remember that daylight savings begins this weekend!). Recordings of the service will be available shortly after, and can be accessed on the church’s website at hoc5.us. This will be our first livestream of a Sunday service, so please pray that the experience will be smooth for everyone.
Small Groups and Fellowship Groups
We are asking all small groups to replace in-person meetings with virtual gatherings. The pastoral staff will assist small group leaders in finding solutions as we navigate these fluid circumstances and challenges. Unfortunately, this also means that our youth group will be canceled for the time being. Pastor Yuji will be giving further instructions in upcoming communications.
Please continue to remember your financial generosity to Home of Christ during this difficult and unique season. As always, we trust the LORD to meet our needs. Online giving is available at hoc5.us/giving .
Those in Need
If you are in need, please let us know - whether you are ill or have been advised to stay home because you are at higher risk. We are developing strategies and ideas to care for one another as God’s family during this time.