Posts Tagged ‘Joshua Choonmin Kang’
I have come to the end of a 52-week meditation in the book by Joshua Choonmin Kang, Deep-Rooted in Christ. I first read this book back in the summer of 2008 and decided at that time it would be a great book to work through again in a devotional and contemplative way. I was right. It has been great. If you are a follower of the icrucified blog, you will know or remember that most of 2009 has been “peppered” with quotes and discussion fueled by pastor Kang. I’m looking forward to the next work of his that will be translated into English and am hopeful that it will be a piece that can be useful in the same sense of “Deep-rooted.”
Because there are so many mentions of the book over the past year, I don’t want to give another review or synopsis of the book. However, if you are unfamiliar with it, let me just say that it is a primer and much more on the disciplines of spiritual formation. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
The final meditation speaks directly to the way of transformation (meaning being transformed into the image of Christ – this is what spiritual formation is all about; becoming like Jesus). Pastor Kang writes the following instructions:
Attaining spiritual maturity isn’t easy. Relentless training is needed, much like the training Paul took on when he became obedient to God. Such training requires sacrifice: you must despise sin, be passionate for holiness and balance your work with mature living. Not only that; spiritual maturity shouldn’t be the goal in itself. Instead, our goal should be to witness truly to Jesus in our lives. When all is said and done our spiritual maturity must be for the sake of ministry.
True meaning and purpose are lost when a person focuses entirely on gaining spiritual maturity. But beware. Mature spirituality is no substitute for ministry. And heads up! If one boasts about having achieved spiritual maturity, then that person has to start all over again. That’s not what spirituality is all about. Gaining spiritual maturity is hard; losing it is easy (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Pastor Kang shares some final wisdom in the following tips he calls the prescription for maintaining exceptional spirituality and becoming like Jesus:
- Walk the straight path (Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 23:19) entering through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) the way of Jesus…the road of the cross.
- Always abide in Jesus. We must always be connected to Jesus in every way; this is our spiritual goal (John 15:5; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 12:2)
- Live a spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18)
- To follow Jesus will require us to deny ourselves daily; we cannot follow Jesus without first submitting to this prerequisite (Luke 9:23; 1 Corinthians 15:31)
- We must discipline ourselves to always be alert to the foil of the adversary and staying prepared (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-17)
- Submission to God and following the way of Jesus compels us to submit to and serve others; the greatest commandment was summarized by Jesus, “Love God and Love others.” (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13) Love is everything.
- Ministry and mature spirituality requires the Word of God and understanding the Word only comes through a close relationship with Jesus and imitation of Him
I cannot sing the praises of this little book loudly enough; it has been a real joy to journey through it this past year, I have been challenged, blessed, corrected, and inspired. Thank you, Pastor Kang for sharing your wisdom and your love for our Lord; I am blessed.
You, O Lord, who command us to ask, grant that we may receive. You have put us on seeking; let us be happy in finding. You have bidden us to knock; we pray You open to us. Be graciously pleased to direct and govern all our thoughts and actions, that for the future we may serve You and entirely devote ourselves to obeying You. Accept us, we ask You, and draw us to Yourself, that we may henceforth be Yours by obedience and love, who are already all Your own as Your creatures, even Yours, O Lord, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. [Amen] Augustine
“As much as God loves the flower of trees, He isn’t interested in flashy bouquets or fancy floral displays. What He values is the inner beauty of the heart. Yes He understands our need for attention. Yes, He dances His attention on us. But what He really wants us to do is to grow, to be substantial, to give life.” Joshua Choonmin Kang
Psalm 37 (excerpted)
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the LORD and wait patiently for Him to act. .. The LORD takes care of the godly. Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from His path. The LORD rescues the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. He saves them, and they find shelter in Him. [Amen]
I’m coining a new word today; “GOD-pportunity” – this is an event, or circumstance, that has potential to become a divine expression of the LORD Almighty. I don’t think there are always obvious expressions of this event, but they present themselves all the time in our lives…we just aren’t aware of them as the “GOD-pportunities” they are. I know that God is always near; I know that God is always expressing Himself; I know that God desires to express Himself through us as individuals (me). I also know and try to practice the always-aware-life of God’s always present Presence. I was reading this morning in 2 Kings and this phenomenon was clearly illustrated to me.
This is still pretty raw and fresh in my head, so forgive me and extend grace, if my explanation and process are not completely refined here.
First is a comparison and contrast of the person who lives in intimate relationship (hearing from God) versus the person who is not close to God (for whatever reason). This is important, because…in order to recognize and maximize the “GOD-pportunity” we have to be in relationship with God to hear Him and be aware of the “GOD-pportunity” as it develops and is presented.
So, the comp/con of personalities:
Personality One – (2 Kings 5:1-7) King Joram (I think it is Joram) is evil and far from God (see 2 Kings 3:1-3) and a “GOD-opportunity” arrives (literally) on his doorstep. He freaks out in an act of fear, paranoia and despair…perhaps even a little conviction:
v.7 – “When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, ‘This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me.’”
Personality Two – (2 Kings 5:8) Elisha, the man of God, is a prophet. He is a man who spends time with God, regularly listening to His voice and acting in obedience to what he hears God say to him. Here is how scripture depicts his response to the “GOD-pportunity”:
v.8 – “But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes in dismay, he sent this message to him: ‘Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.’”
Takeaway: The person living in close-intimate relationship with God hears His voice, responds obediently, and is able to recognize “GOD-pportunities” as they are presented before them.
Now, on to the “GOD-pportunities” Read the rest of this entry »
The Jesus Way Conference
Recovering the lost content of discipleship…
I arrived in San Antonio, TX for the Jesus Way conference on Sunday around noon. It’s now 9:30pm on Monday night after the first FULL day of main sessions and workshops. The metaphor of “taking a sip from a fire hose” is an understatement for what I’ve experienced the last 36 hours or so. I’m still digesting the sessions and information that has been shared. I think the greatest joy I’ve had so far is the true ecumenical heart and unity that I have sensed among all the people. This is an international conference, people are attending from all points of the globe; even more impressive is how fully represented the Christian people of God are. Every denomination and flavor of Christianity is here…I think. Anyway, to the sessions.
Sunday night was our welcome and first session; our speaker was Eugene Peterson author of the Jesus Way. Eugene was introduced by Max Lucado who shared a scripture meditation and beautiful story illustration around Jesus’ calming of the seas from the gospels. I can’t say what I enjoyed most from Eugene’s talk because I just love listening to him. He is one of my favorite Christian writers of all time, certainly my most favorite living authors. The general session ended and we adjourned to our respective hotels. While waiting in line for the elevator, I had the privilege to meet Eugene and his wife, Jan, they are very charming people.
I have written here on numerous occasions about Joshua Choonmin Kang and his wonderful book Deep-Rooted in Christ. This morning I had the joy of getting to hear Pastor Kang myself; he was the lead-off speaker for our first general session today. Although Pastor Kang speaks English, we were told he is more comfortable speaking Korean. I was able to hear his talk twice today…once in Korean and once through an interpreter and it was great both occasions. The topic of his talk was Abraham and the Jesus Way. The highlights of the talk were the correlation of Mt. Moriah to Sinai to Mt. of Transfiguration to Golgotha. Another point brought out during the talk was the length of Abraham’s journey and the connection with spiritual formation. Pastor Kang said; “spiritual formation doesn’t happen in a day, it takes a lifetime…” I’ve got lots of notes that mean a lot to me, but the context of their content is all in my head; for that, I recommend (again) Deep-Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang.
My workshops were awesome! My regret is that I will only be able to attend four workshops and there is a huge amount of them offered. My first workshop was titled “How we lost the way: Learning from the Historical Neglect of Spiritual Formation.” One word: Fabulous! I loved this session and found it fascinating as well as enlightening. I have a few leads on some more resources and reading I would like to investigate to help me understand this more. The importance of it will be helpful in reaching the people God has called me to minister to.
Workshop number two was; “Entering God’s World: The Kingdom of God as an Ever-present Reality.” It was led by Glandion Carney. The most delightful part of this session was the openness of people sharing their personal experiences with and in the living of God’s Kingdom. After the session, I was able to speak personally with Glandion about training as a spiritual director. God is so good!
The next general session was led by Randy Frazee and Chris Webb. Chris serves as the current president of the Renovare’ Group. He spoke with us about “imperfection,” David, and the Jesus Way. The last general session of the day was introduced by James Bryan Smith and led by Dallas Willard. Uhhhhh, I’ve got scratched notes and furious short-hand things all over my notebook. Dr. Willard shared with us about “Servanthood” and the Jesus Way. LOTS of awesome stuff from Dallas during this session.
I know I haven’t said a lot about the conference specifically, but I’m having a wonderful time enjoying the people of God and great inspiration. I look forward to the next couple days. Live the Kingdom [Amen]
“The first duty of love is to listen…” (Paul Tillich)
- Luke 8:21 “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.
- Luke 11:28 “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
- John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
- John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
The question we must ask ourselves is; what are we…who are we listening to? The evidence supports that we are, too often, listening to outside influences, majority rules, and the tyranny of the urgent. As followers of Christ, our first responsibility is to listen intently for the voice of our God. Although we are created in the image of our Creator God, hearing His voice does not come natural; the Adamic nature has sealed that truth. On the other hand, God’s prevenient grace beckons us to come out from our sin and be reconciled. Our reconciliation comes with an invitation to restoration; restoration comes to us with the offer and gift of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit helps us to hear with ears turned to the frequency of God. We can be listeners; we can be hearers, and we can obey God. Love starts with listening and Godly listening requires obedience.
I think, like no other time in history, we have incredible challenges before us…deafening us and preoccupying us from hearing even the gentle woo of Holy Spirit whispering the divine love song of prevenient grace. We suffer from a cacophony of busy-ness, a bombardment of multimedia attacking our senses from a thousand different directions, and the raping of our souls with the villainous creature that is mass consumerism. It is ironic that the blessing our society enjoys is the same cancer that is slowing stealing our soul. Our abundance is starving the very life from us. We don’t know how to listen anymore…maybe we don’t even know who to listen to. We have become accustomed to having people tell us what is good for us and what we need at every point and facet of our life. Most of us are listening to the wrong voices and are turned in the wrong direction.
“Servants of God aren’t controlled by what they hear from fellow human beings; they are controlled by the voice of God.” (Joshua Choonmin Kang)
We are bid to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We have to stop listening to the voices and focus on the VOICE. The world is a noisy place and it is getting noisier by the moment; however, even in the sea of noisy distractions God is speaking clearly and pointedly to us. I like what A.W. Tozer writes; “We must hear worthily, if we have ears to hear, we can hear God whenever and wherever we might be.” This is an encouragement to me. It helps to know that Holy Spirit is leading me in ways of truth too. Even with encouragement though, there is a word of warning. There are well-wishers and well-doers that would offer advice. Jesus said beware of wolves in sheep clothing. When these types offer advice, test their fruit and heed the caution of Tozer; “listen to no man who fails to listen to God.” Most importantly, guard your heart and obey God
This meditation is from Deep-Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang (the following thoughts are excerpted, and in some cases paraphrased by me, from Pastor Kang’s wonderful book on spiritual formation and transformation through the person of Jesus Christ.
Knowledge is wonderful, but accumulating knowledge doesn’t guarantee increasing transformation…at best, it produces better informed sinners.
Wisdom is to be strived for, but we must recognize that it has two dimensions: Horizontal (worldly wisdom) and Vertical (spiritual wisdom). Worldly wisdom is temporal and changes easily. Spiritual wisdom stays with us and has no limits.
Understanding is the glue that binds knowledge and wisdom together. “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom, though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
Where does wisdom start though?
The source of understanding begins with the seed of God’s word. The Bible teaches that the word is the key to understanding spiritual mysteries.
The Holy Spirit helps us directly illuminating (giving light) to God’s word and guiding the hungry heart in truth. The Holy Spirit opens our mind to the deep riches of God’s truth.
When we become obedient to God’s word, we may be said to bear good fruit…the kind of fruit that lasts and brings much glory to God. [Amen] Matthew 13:13-23
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Day 23-25]
O God, who has given us the great and saving truths of Your gospel: grant us, we ask You, to live amid these things, to meditate on them and seek them; for one who goes on seeking, finds. Help us, therefore, to learn those things on earth, the knowledge of which shall abide with us in heaven. Grant this for Jesus Christ’s sake. [Amen] Give us strength with changed heart, O Lord, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength…and help us, O Lord, for Your namesake to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Amen]
“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace-in peace because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Scriptural living comes from trust in the Lord. When our eyes are fixed on the Lord Jesus and we trust in His word, we will be steadfast and mature.” Deep-Rooted in Christ; Joshua Choonmin Kang
Sorting, Processing, and Continued Reflection… 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed (Day 14)
“The desperate need for today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but deep people…” [Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster]
Quotables from “Deep-Rooted in Christ” by Joshua Choonmin Kang:
- “The Word of God is the only tool that can bring about our spiritual formation.”
- “The Holy Spirit is what brings us to maturity and depth.”
- “The Holy Spirit offers us the utmost intimate knowledge of God and our inward thoughts.”
I’m still sorting through several things going on in my life; not the least of which are personal relationships. I continue to meditate and reflect on the precepts of God as I search His leading and guidance on how to live as a “reconciler” and peacemaker. Read the rest of this entry »
There is a hidden world…we have been invited into.
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 8-9]
Several readings have been coming together for me that are really honing in on a single idea. Everything seems to be orbiting the Presence of the Indwelling God. I suppose to get the full picture you’d need to go back through the last several blog posts covering the past couple weeks or so…might even need to go back as far as the beginning of the year. As near as I can tell, the leading of God in my “inner life” continues to push me in the same direction; that is…making more of Him and experiencing His guiding presence every second of my life. Sounds odd; I know…but I also know it is real.
My Praying the Jesus Creed the last couple days has been:
Almighty and everlasting god, By whom that begins to be which was not and that which lay hidden is made visible, cleanse away the folly of our heart and purify us from our secret vices, that we may be able to serve and to love you, O Lord, with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength. Help us, O Lord, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. May we do this through Jesus Christ our Lord the Giver of the Indwelling and Guiding Spirit of God. Amen.
Started the “40 Days” on Feb 25th; yesterday was focusing on giving God my “heart” (the center of my affections), my “soul” (the center of my spirituality), my “mind” (the center of my rationality), and my “strength” (my whole being). This is going to prove itself to be an excellent compliment to my continuing journey of daily intentional living in the presence of God.
Day 3 -
Begin with Reciting the “Jesus Creed”
“Hear; O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second command is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:29-31
My focus today is to love my neighbor. This introspection comes from the dialogue between Jesus and the expert in the Law (Luke 10:29-37) who’s question to Jesus was, “Who is my neighbor?” As I ponder this today, it comes in contact with my meditation from Deep-Rooted in Christ for this week. I have been reflecting upon the deep well of my faith which is the Holy Spirit of God. Godly Character, which is the transformation we seek as we become more like Jesus (and the image from which were created), is developed through the work of the Holy Spirit in us…in me. This godly character helps me to love my neighbor as Jesus has taught us. The Spirit of God within me is the love that John speaks of in his gospel (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world…” This is the answer to the question; “Who is my neighbor?” The world is my neighbor…
Continuing thought from the Ancient Christian Devotional writings/readings:
– Romans 4:1-5 and Romans 4:13-17 contemplating justification by works and justification by faith. Origen writes; “Faith, which believes in the justifier, is the beginning of justification before God. And this faith, when it is justified, is like a root in the soil of the soul, which the rain has watered, so that as it begins to grow by the law of God, branches appear, which bring forth fruit. The root of righteousness does not spring from works; rather, the fruit of works grows from the root of righteousness, namely, by that root of righteousness by which God brings righteousness to the one whom he has accepted apart from works.” (Commentary on the epistle to the Romans).
My takeaway today:
-Faith loves a neighbor
-Works asks, “who is my neighbor…?”