On Hiatus

17 06 2010

As you have probably surmised, I have not been updating this blog. This is because Lighthouse now has the Beacon. If I have time someday, I’ll come back here and add to the brain. =)


Be Worthy of God?

25 11 2009

This article is adapted from the one I wrote for the church newsletter:

As you read through the New Testament, certainly you will come across some verses that are difficult to understand, particularly in the writing of Paul. (You can breathe a great big sigh of relief since this was Peter’s assessment of Paul’s writings as well [2 Pet. 3:16]!) Every once in a while, however, you come across passages in the Bible that make you do a double take and say, “What?!” 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 is one of those passages. Paul writes, “[11] For you know how, like a father with his children, [12] we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” Yes, he said “worthy of God.” The Greek word for worthy is axiōs and is derived from the idea of balancing something in a scale. But certainly Paul isn’t telling the Thessalonians that if God were on one side of a scale, they were to live as though they could balance out the other side! Who could live up to such a demand? Borrowing from the Old Testament idea of glory (Heb. kabōd; “weightiness”), no one is heavier than God!

Interestingly, the word axiōs is used throughout Scripture and is translated in a few different ways. The first (and expected) translation of the word is “worthy.” It is this sense of the word that one would typically understand the idea of worthiness. John the Baptist said that he was not worthy even of untying Jesus’ sandal (John 1:27). The prodigal son confessed that he was no longer worthy to be called a son (Luke 15:19). In the Book of Revelation, again as one would expect, the term is used to speak of God’s worthiness of worship (Rev. 4:11; cf. 5:12 where it is used of Christ).

The second translation of the word is “deserving” and it is translated thus frequently in texts dealing with deserving judgment or punishment (cf. Luke 12:48; 23:15; Acts 23:29; Rom. 1:32). In Luke 23:41, for example, the thief on the cross confesses that, unlike Christ, they were receiving what they deserved because of their deeds. It is not exclusively used in that context, though. For instance, in Luke 10:7 when Jesus is commissioning the seventy to preach about the kingdom of God, He says that the laborer is deserving, or worthy, of his wages. Paul also argues that elders are deserving of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17).

A third use of the word is where it is translated “worthy” in the sense of comparison. In Romans 8:18, Paul writes that the sufferings of this world are not “worth comparing” with the glory to come.

The fourth and final way this word is translated is the way it should be understood in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. It is the idea of “fitness” or “appropriateness.” In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul says that he should give thanks to God for the church because it would be fitting given the way they had grown in faith and love. In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees and tells them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (cf. Luke 3:8). The fruit would be consistent with true repentance. By the absence of fruit in the Pharisees’ lives, their lack of repentance was made evident. This was the same message of repentance that Paul preached to the Gentiles (Acts 26:20).

So, when Paul tells the Thessalonian church to live in a manner worthy of God. He is not saying that they need to balance out the scales. Praise God for that! What seems to be the best way to understand this passage is that if a person confesses that they have God in their life, there is a manner of living that is fitting with that confession. There should be a different look to that person because of the awesome fact that God is with them. This is the same idea behind Philippians 1:27 where Paul tells the church to let their manner of life be worthy of the gospel. He isn’t teaching salvation by human merit. That would go completely contradictory to his understanding that salvation is by faith alone and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). What Paul is saying is that if a person really understands the truth of the gospel (i.e., God has opened their eyes and illumined their hearts to see) so that they are saved, there is a lifestyle that comes with that saving truth and “salvific” understanding. It affects you so that you do not continue living for the world of the things of this world.

The same question should be asked of each of us: Are you walking in a manner worthy of God? Is your life fitting with the faith you profess? Are your choices in line with the truth that God has saved you by His grace? This sort of thinking and living is concomitant with Christ’s living in us (Gal. 2:20). We cannot accomplish this without His enablement. Still, we must not neglect our responsibility to walk circumspectly in this world. Paul understood this necessity to the extent that he would write it in the most provocative way: “Christian, be worthy of God.” Together, let us strive to look different, think differently, speak differently, and live differently.

Still Alive

20 11 2009

Just wanted to let everyone know I’m still alive. I’ve been limiting my blogs to the church online newsletter until I have more time to write. Cheers! =)

Appendect-OH-MY! – Part 2

13 08 2009

AppendixI apologize for the delay in getting Part 2 of my adventures posted. For those of you who might still be interested to hear what happened, here you go…

Part 2: The Hospital

When we first arrived at the hospital, they rolled me into triage where the nurses retook my vitals and asked me questions about my medical history. I felt bad for the EMT who rolled me in, though. I guess he was a rookie and didn’t know exactly what he was doing. The nurse began asking him questions about what they did on the way to the hospital and apparently he didn’t do much of what he should have. She just kept telling him to look at how pale I was (I guess I was pale) and asked him why he didn’t put an IV line in me. He just kept sweating and saying sorry and that he should have thought of that. She asked for his name (which I forget) and told me she would talk to his supervisor (dun dun duuuuun!). She told him, though, that it was really all his supervisor’s fault because the supervisor was in the ambulance, too! After talking with some people, though, it probably is a good thing he didn’t try to stick me with an IV. It probably would have taken him several tries to find a vein!

The staff at the hospital wasn’t nearly as incompetent! I have to say that I was really impressed with the folks at Mills Peninsula Hospital. Everyone was really professional, helpful, and friendly. I think it helped that things didn’t seem too busy, but even still, kudos to them! They were really an awesome team.

There was one awkward moment, though. With the room full of nurses, one of them placed a gown on my bed and asked me to take off all my clothes and put on the robe. I know they were all in the medical profession and probably have seen their share of naked bodies, but I looked around and there must have been six or seven nurses in the room (not a very big room!). Yes, it made for sort of an awkward moment. I quietly asked if there was a private place I could disrobe and she directed me to a bathroom down the hall. I slowly made my way there and got into my gown. After I was all changed, I got back into my bed and she connected the IV and got my pain medication going. That’s when John showed up from getting the rental car.

The next few hours were basically me loving the painkillers and feeling them slowly wear off only to have me ask for another dose. I was actually surprised at how comfortable the bed was, but I was really cold. For some reason, though I am known to be “the heater man,” I was freezing at the hospital. My hands and feet were ice cold and I was shivering. The nurse went to get a blanket for me. I told the nurse that my body was freezing and she looked at me and said, “Really? I don’t feel it.” But she kindly got me a few more blankets. With four blankets on top of me, I finally felt warm and cozy. Those blankets were amazing, by the way. They apparently store them in a heating unit so that when they lay one on you it’s wonderfully warm. During this whole time, I had told John and J.R. to go ahead to Kevin’s mom’s funeral since the alternative was to simply sit and watch me in lie in bed.

When the doctor showed up, he asked me some questions about my pain, and when I had told him I thought it was food poisoning, he seemed to be ok with that diagnosis. The pain wasn’t really localized in any particular area. My whole stomach hurt with a constant pain with no relief. It wasn’t until much later, especially with the help of the painkillers, that I realized the pain really was coming from my lower right side. About 5:00 or 6:00pm, the doctor came in and poked me in the side and I yelped in pain. He told me he didn’t think it was appendicitis at first but that he now thought it probably was and scheduled me for a CT scan.

The CT scan room was amazing! Triage looked like any other hospital from any popular hospital TV show. The CT scan room looked like sickbay from Star Trek! It was all white with lights flashing and glowing all over the room. There were some stairs that led up to a room with a tinted window. I could see that someone was up there, but couldn’t see their face. The scanning machine looked like a giant white donut. I thought they were going to put me in some tube and that I would have to sit there patiently for a long time, but I guess technology has advanced some since those days.

As I lay on the bed, the machine moved me through the “donut hole.” As I passed through, I could see things whirling around the donut very quickly. A robot voice told me several times to breathe, inhale and hold, and breathe normally again. The way the machine worked, I thought they were going to beam me directly to the OR.

After they took pictures of my insides, the doctor came in and confirmed that it was appendicitis. This is when I called John to let him know. The doctors told me they had contacted their surgeon and that as soon as he arrived we would head over to the operating room. John left the funeral after the burial and came to the hospital just before the surgeon arrived. The surgeon was, for lack of a better adjective, “cool.” Although I honestly wasn’t scared about the procedure, he did everything he could to boost my confidence and assure me that things were going to be fine. He told me that the procedure would be routine. It wouldn’t last more than fifteen to twenty minutes. He told me about the incisions he would make and that for the most part he would go through the belly button. I joked that as long as he was in there, he might as well suck out some of the fat. =) I think the last thing he said was the most reassuring. He told me that he chose to work at that particular hospital because the anesthesiologists were the best he could find.

They quickly prepared me for surgery and wheeled me over to the OR. On the way there, the surgeon continued to give me confidence about the procedure. He told me that the day wasn’t very busy at the hospital so that they were able to assemble their “A-Team.” When I got to the room, it was really cool… cooler that the CT scan room! There were these two massive lights hanging from the ceiling. They looked like those old desk lamps with the bendy arms, but much bigger. Each light must have been four to five feet in diameter with dozens of halogen bulbs. They weren’t on, but I imagined how bright they must make the room.

The nurse was crazy. She was so excited to be in the operating room and kept singing about how they were going to take the appendix out. She reminded me of a muppet or Sesame Street character: really bizarre but cheerful. I asked the doctor if he was going to put a mask on me to put me to sleep, but he corrected me and told me the anesthetic would run through my IV. He then said, “It’ll be any minute now…” And that is the last thing I remember about the OR.

It seemed like I was asleep for a long time, but when I woke up, it was only a couple hours later. I was in the recovery room and there were a couple nurses roaming from one bed to another checking on patients. When one of the nurses saw that I was awake, she walked over and said, “This is going to feel weird.” Then she began to pull a tube out of my nose which must have been eight inches long! Yes, it felt weird, but thankfully it didn’t hurt. I asked if I could get back to my room. It was about 9:30pm, and I knew that John and the guys had a flight to catch at 10:30pm. Since the hospital was right next door to the airport, I thought they might still be at the hospital so I wanted to go and check in case they were waiting for me.

Unfortunately, it took a while to get out of the recovery room because they said my room wasn’t ready and was still being cleaned. I later found out that I probably wouldn’t have been able to catch the guys anyway. It was all right, though. I didn’t mind being alone because it added to the adventure and the bizarre events of the day. I flipped on the TV and was thankful that I wasn’t in any pain. In fact, I could get up and out of bed whenever I wanted and could even go to the bathroom on my own.

I was thankful to go to the bathroom. Before surgery, I had asked the surgeon if it was necessary to put in a catheter. He told me the only reason they would have to is if I couldn’t go to the bathroom for over four hours after the surgery. When I first woke up, one of the first things I told the nurse was that I needed to go to the bathroom.

I had heard stories of how people come out of surgery all sore and in pain, but this was a piece of cake. I wasn’t in any pain at all. I walked gingerly because I didn’t want to reopen all my wounds, but it didn’t hurt to move around. I even called Christine and told her to come up to San Francisco so that we could do some sightseeing before heading back down to San Diego.

Little did I know that the only reason I felt so great was because I still had some lingering effects of the anesthetic. When that wore off, I could barely move! It hurt to breathe! They told me I would need to work on my breathing because my lungs would need some exercise, but I really couldn’t take any deep breaths. One time, I tried to get out of bed and because of the pain in my belly I had to hoist myself up using nothing but the strength of my arms. The nurse was there to help me, but it was such exercise that I became fairly winded. Well, I couldn’t breathe deeply because of the pain so I started hyperventilating and eventually passed out at the foot of the bed. I knew I was out for at least a few seconds because when I came to, I was surrounded by nurses who were all trying to get me back into bed properly. They had me in a blanket and six of them were lifting me up to the head of the bed again. I could hear one shouting, “Stay with me, Patrick! Don’t sleep!” I told them I was fine and that I passed out because I couldn’t breathe, but the nurse insisted that I needed a bracelet that read, “Fall Risk.” Hahaha!

The rest of the recovery process was slow. It took me about three weeks to get over the pain. I was thankful that I wasn’t alone in the hospital very long. Kevin Au came by to see me and even brought his dad by the next morning. I was really thankful for that. Wayne and Melanie Hu also came by and dropped off a Batman balloon. =) The best was when Christine finally arrived from San Diego with Eden. It was great to see them again. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Christine to be in San Diego while I was going in for surgery in San Francisco. I’m so thankful for my loving wife!

There’s more to the story, but this is getting really long. And having read it over, Part 2 doesn’t seem nearly as entertaining as Part 1. Oh well. If you read this far, you are cool. All in all, I was bummed I missed the 10 Year Anniversary Banquet at Lighthouse, but it was still a fun adventure. I’m sure I’ll have a great time telling the story to Eden if ever she needs to have her appendix removed!

Appendect-OH-MY! – Part 1

5 06 2009

PART 1: The Airport


A few people have been asking me to share my story of what happened in San Francisco this past weekend, so I thought I’d write another one of those blog posts that people could refer to if they were curious about the details. Here’s what happened…

Last Thursday, May 28, Christine and I had dinner at Daphne’s with Alex Ko and Maria Oh just to spend some time together, and for the third time at Daphne’s I got food poisoning…

***A Note about Restaurants and Food Poisoning – I am one who can understand that a restaurant may on occasion make the mistake of serving spoiled food or food that has undergone cross-contamination. No one is perfect. But as a general rule, once I have gotten food poisoning from a place three times, they are banned for life. Besides Daphne’s, Souplantation is my other blacklisted restaurant. Even if these places offered me free meals for the rest of my life, I would not even step foot in their restaurants. Eaters, ye be warned. Now, where was I?…***

I felt pretty bad on Thursday evening, but things got worse on Friday. Sparing you the gross details, let’s just say I spent a lot of time in the restroom. I hardly slept Friday night!

On Saturday morning, Pastor John, J.R., and I were scheduled to fly up to San Francisco to attend Kevin Au’s mom’s funeral. That morning, though I wasn’t feeling well, the pain wasn’t so excruciating that I was willing to miss a flight for it. Besides, I really, really wanted to be there for Kevin. I quickly got ready and met the guys at the church to go to the airport. When I got to the church, I remember telling John, “John, I was this close to calling you and telling you that I wasn’t going to make it.” Honestly, one of the reasons why I got myself out the door was because I had booked the car rental and I didn’t think John and J.R. would have been able to pick up the car without me. Later on, I found out that they could.

When we got on the plane, I was feeling pretty miserable. I was visibly uncomfortable to the point that the lady sitting on the aisle (I was in the window seat) offered to switch places with me. I explained to her that I had food poisoning and she was surprised that I decided to travel anyway. “At least it’s a short flight,” she remarked. That’s when the pilot got on the intercom and told us that we would be experiencing a bit of a delay during taxiing. We sat on the plane for about forty minutes waiting for the ok to take off! At one point, the pilot said that we would need to go back to the gate. I was thrilled because, had we gone back to the gate, I would have requested to get off the plane. Just as I made up my mind to do this, the pilot got back on the intercom and announced that after some negotiating we received the ok to take off in about five minutes. Ugh. At least everyone else was happy. =)

In the air, things got worse. My entire stomach was radiating pain. I spent most of the time in the air at the back of the plane by the restrooms. I told the flight attendants about my food poisoning and asked if they had any crackers to munch on. They told me they hadn’t had food on the plane for a few years now but they gave me all I wanted to drink. They were really nice and one of them even said he would have offered me his own personal stash if it wasn’t against the rules to do so. They carried on with their beverage service and I continued to pace while clutching my stomach.

This is when I recalled my previous experiences with food poisoning and how things always seemed to feel better after vomiting. I wasn’t feeling nauseous, but I decided to make myself purge the impurities anyway. I went into the restroom and was able to successfully force myself to vomit. Unfortunately, the only things to come up were my Pepto Bismol chewables and the glass of water I had just taken before entering. What made things worse, the pain increased tremendously after vomiting! I thought it was supposed to make you feel better!

This is when the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent and that we all needed to take our seats. I got back to my seat, buckled up, and braced myself for the rest of the flight. When we landed and were taxiing to the gate, I told John that I wasn’t going to be able to make the funeral and needed to see a doctor. We got off the plane, I walked to the middle of the terminal, and collapsed on the floor by the center divider.

John went to the gate counter and informed the lady of my condition. She called for help and notified John that there was a medical clinic at the airport. She told me it would be free of charge to visit and that I should probably check it out. I was excited because I always wanted to ride in one of those airport vehicles with the flashing lights and the drivers that scream at people to get out of the way! When help arrived, however, to my dismay, it was just a middle aged man with a wheelchair. He told me to get in because the clinic was on the other side of the airport. I obeyed and he proceeded to push me through several terminals. Along the way, John decided to head over to baggage claim and get his bags. He also wanted to stop by the rental car place to pick up our car. J.R. stayed with me as the gentleman continued to push me for what seemed about a mile. I offered to walk, since I thought it would have been faster, but he insisted so I just sat there.

When we got to the international terminal where the clinic was supposed to be, we were welcomed by construction. Signs were posted all around that the area was closed. Even the elevator that takes you down to the clinic was not functioning. This was when the guy with the wheelchair started to freak out. He started racing up and down the terminal banging on doors and stopping every employee asking about the clinic. No one seemed to know where it was. At this point, I got out of the wheelchair and laid down on the floor. It was really uncomfortable to sit. People walked by as I clutched my side and groaned on the floor. Poor J.R.! He had no idea what to do. He just stood there watching me in pain. I asked him to call John and find out how long it would be before we had a car.

After a few minutes, one of the employees told my wheelchair driver that he had called 911. Soon after, a bicycle policewoman pulled up and asked me how I was doing. She started to get my basic information down and asked for my I.D. A few minutes after that, the EMTs came with their gurney. At first, I denied the ambulance because I figured John would be there soon. But after thinking a bit, as the guys were walking away, I called them to come back. It was sort of exciting because it was my first time in an ambulance. Along the way, the EMT continued to ask me questions and took my vitals. Thankfully the hospital was only a few blocks from the airport.

The Slow Uphill Climb

28 03 2009


Lessons learned this week…

1. Sometimes even when I am trying really hard to do my best, I will fail. But God is gracious to teach me important lessons even in my failure.

2. It is always better to say an encouraging, helpful, uplifting, edifying word than to simply tease people and have fun at their expense.

3. With friends, a quality short conversation is better than hours of time wasted talking about nothing.

4. You never know when someone really needs prayer or encouragement so you should constantly be offering both.

5. God’s blessings sometimes come at the most unexpected times and from the most unexpected people.

6. Inspiration is a cool doctrine.

7. I need to place a constant guard over my mouth. Be slow to speak… slow to speak… slow to speak.

It has been a long and difficult week. But looking back I realize now that it has been a good week. Praise God. You never fail.

Preparing for Ordination

28 01 2009

A lot of people have been asking me, “What is ordination all about?” I thought I could make things a bit easier by posting something on my brain so I could direct people here if they wanted to find out more about ordination.

John MacArthur writes, “Ordination is the act whereby a church officially acknowledges the calling and qualifications of a man for ministry.” That’s basically ordination in a nutshell. At Lighthouse, ordination will involve a really difficult examination of my life, Bible knowledge, and practical understanding of Scripture to prove that I am fit for ministry. This is important because it gives the church more of a chance to prayerfully consider my position as pastor. Remember that the early church spent time in prayer and fasting before it chose its leaders (cf. Acts 14:23). This also gives me a chance to show the church that I am competent to teach and that my views of Scripture are in line with the church’s.

Lighthouse hasn’t necessarily finalized its ordination process, but I am sure it will contain at least an extensive oral examination in which I will be tested in three major areas: general Bible knowledge, systematic theology, and practical theology. In the first section, I will be expected to know the themes and outlines of every book of the Bible. I will also need to know key chapters, verses, people, and dates for each book. In the second section, I will be asked various questions from any facet of systematic theology. The examiners could ask me questions about God, man, salvation, end times, etc. and I would be expected to answer the questions with support from Scripture. I would also have to know about other major world religions and cults and be able to refute their beliefs from Scripture. In the third section, I would be asked any question related to the application of Scripture. These questions might be asked in the form of hypothetical counseling situations. I could be asked about my views of homosexuality, women’s roles, parenting, psychology, etc. and I would be expected to defend my answers from Scripture. The entire exam would most likely be from memory without notes or open Bible (though I might suggest that at least the practical theology section should be open Bible). Basically, I will need to memorize the Bible.

It’s a long process, but I don’t consider it a waste of time. Yes, the church is busy, but this is the kind of study that I think every genuine Christian would die to be a part of. I get to dig into the wealth of Scripture and immerse myself in it for the next several months. There is a bit of apprehension just because I know things will be busy with the church plant, 10 year anniversary, missions, and everything else that’s going on in the church. But I am confident that God will see me through. I appreciate all the prayers that the church family are lifting up on my behalf. In many ways, you will be like Aaron and Hur were to Moses in supporting his arms during Israel’s battle against Amalek (cf. Exod. 17). I am confident that God will grant success through your many prayers.

After serving at LBC for the past ten years, I think it’s about time for my ordination. I knew I didn’t want to get ordained right out of seminary because I wanted at least a few years of ministry experience first. I wanted to be at a place where the church could be confident of my ability as a teacher and could trust my leadership and character. I’m so thankful for a loving church that cares for me and my family. I’m looking forward to being even more cemented into the ministry at Lighthouse through my ordination. Feel free to ask if you have any questions!