The Pruning

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Learning How to Fall Well

In Charlie Kang on March 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

by Charlie Kang

Some of you maybe surprised to know, but at a stage in my life I was a martial arts master.  Well, not quite a master, but I was pretty high up there at my Hapkido dojo!  Because of my short legs, I wasn’t much of a fighter and would get regularly demolished by the other black belts in my class.  There was utterly no hope for me to make it in my dojo as a fighter, but if I had one thing going for me was that I knew how to fall.  One of the first and most fundamental things they teach you in Hapkido is how to properly fall so that you take the least amount of damage when you hit the deck.  When it came to falling, I was a natural.  I knew how to fall properly from every single angle that the attacker came from.  Not only that, but I looked good doing it.  I was soon recruited to my dojo’s traveling demo team; not as the guy who could splice wood boards into pieces or the guy that could do a bajillion spin kicks, but I was recruited as the guy who got beat up and thrown around by the others.  Demeaning?  Maybe, HAHA. But I took pleasure in the fact that my art was appreciated by onlookers, who would see me thrown 100 feet in the air (exaggeration, it was more like 50 feet HAHA) and come up seconds later, fine and dandy.

Many of us live as Christians who don’t really know how to fall well.  When things don’t go our way, we fall flat on our face and wreathe in pain at the injustice that God has done to us.  We bicker.  We complain.  We post angry facebook statuses.  All signs pointing that we suck at falling.  When life is hard, we don’t know how to “fall well”.  This brings us finally to the meat of this blog post: how do we fall well?

I believe one of the ways we fall well is when we memorize relevant Bible verses that apply to our circumstances and recite them over and over until we believe it.  This process is what’s called “meditation”.  Simple enough right?  But is this a simple mind over matter exercise to trick our brains to make us think “happy thoughts”?  Not exactly.  The reason why memorizing the Bible helps us in life is because memorizing the Bible makes us see the world and our circumstances for what they really are.  It forces us to take off our self-centered lenses that we use to imperfectly see the world and put on God-centered lenses, which gives us a truthful, accurate view of our reality.  We start seeing the world in the way that God sees the world.  God’s truth, not our feelings or circumstances, becomes our reality when we meditate on His Word.  Let me give you some examples of how this works.  When life doesn’t go the way we want, memorizing Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is sovereignly working everything for good, even the delays and disappointments of our lives.  We might not like what’s going on in our lives, but we are convinced God’s reality is true; thus, we yield to Him knowing that He has something better in store for us.  When we worry about finals, what college we will go to, or what job we will have outside of college, we do well to memorize Matthew 6:32-33, which reminds us that we shouldn’t worry because we have a loving Father who takes care of us and our future perfectly.

When we allow ourselves to memorize the Bible, it takes abstract, biblical truths and makes them concrete and real in our lives.  Allowing God’s Word, not our circumstances to tell us what reality is will give us the faith to fall well even in the most trying of circumstances.  This discipline will develop in us a faith that is both powerful and practical; making our lives unshakeable even in the most unsettling of storms!  Memorize the Bible!  It will help you fall well when life gets tough!

If you would like a great way to start memorizing the Bible, click on this link to Desiring God’s fighter verse app.  It’s not free, but it’s worth the investment!  If you want to learn more about Hapkido, come at me bro!  HAHA.  God bless!

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A Song for Every Season: An Overview of Psalms of Lament

In Charlie Kang on March 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm

by Charlie Kang

            Reading a blog post about prayer is in some ways similar to a dentist urging his patients to floss.  Both scenarios produce guilt-ridden people because of their woeful neglect in doing something that is “good for them”.  For you blog readers, I try to floss every day HAHA.  No one will ever deny that flossing or prayer is good for you, but whether that makes you actually put it into practice is another subject entirely.  Knowing this, I’ll try to make this blog as quick and painless as possible (unlike flossing. HAHA).  Many of us only pray when things are going wrong.  We willingly turn ourselves to God in prayer when we need Him the most, which are in the midst of our struggles.  These times are usually the most fruitful and blessed time of prayer that we have with God.  It is in these times I would like to offer a suggestion for you by giving you a biblical overview of the psalms of laments that are found in the Bible.

One of my professors described the book of Psalms as us eavesdropping on godly people’s honest prayers before God.  These godly people, who wrote these songs of lament (Psalms 3, 22, 57, 139), were distressed and despondent at their present circumstances.  It’s easy to see that they didn’t have much “joy^3” in their hearts.  They were very vocal to God about all the wrong and harsh things that were going on in their lives.  These prayers of laments didn’t spare any detail about what was going on in their situation.  They would spew everything to God, about what they felt or who was upsetting them, but would wrap up their prayer of lament very succinctly by simply ending with, “Lord, help me.”  The ending of these prayers were a magnificent display of faith in God, showing their trust that God would bring the best possible result in their hard times.  They were satisfied to leave the prayer at that; “God, help me” because I know that you know the best for my life.

When we come as broken people in prayer, we love giving God a five-step plan to solve our problems and woes.  We say, “God my life is messed up because of ‘x’, so here’s solution ‘a’, ‘b’, and if you don’t like those God, you can even do ‘c’”.  We need to come to the conclusion that, firstly, that God already knows the alphabet HAHA, and secondly, that we to exhibit faith in our sovereign God when we leave the outcome up to Him.  This is the freedom that prayer can bring into our lives.  Many times we come to the throne room of prayer and tell God how to do His job.  Prayer is not instructing God, but is in the end, submitting to Him that “His will be done”.  When we come to God in prayer, we must have a big view of God that He is sovereign and that He will work out what’s best for our lives (Rom. 8:28).  Nothing else will give us more comfort than in believing and trusting in His sovereignty in the midst of our hard times.  God bless, and may your prayers be saturated with faith in our sovereign God!  Lord, help us!

What “Tangled” Can Teach Us About “Idolatry”

In Charlie Kang on March 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

by Charlie Kang

Truth be told I didn’t like this movie very much (sorry ladies [John and Kat]), but something about this movie struck a chord deep within my soul while I was watching it.  For those who have never watched this movie, the story is about a wicked woman who steals Rapunzel and raises her as her own because her hair held the key to what she wanted most in life: eternal youth and beauty.  The beginning scenes of the movie depicts Rapunzel’s kidnapper as an exceptional mother; cooking for her, singing her songs, and looking out for Rapunzel’s best interest.  However, all of these good deeds were stained with “mother’s” self-interest because those good deeds were but a means to get the youth and beauty that she craved.  Here we have a perfect picture of idolatry: someone who centers his/her whole life upon something other than God.  “Mother’s” desire for beauty enveloped her whole life and even the good things she did for Rapunzel were based upon her quest to stay beautiful.

It’s a scary thought, but it could be that the most successful people in our society today are idolaters.  Sports stars, pop sensations, and wealthy people are single-minded, goal-driven individuals who focus on one thing in their lives.  Their lives are constantly subservient to their gods and for their services to these gods, they may get the thing that they want most in life; at least for a time.  Because you see, these gods are not interested in your well-being or success, but are only interested in your offerings and sacrifices to them.  They don’t care about you.  They just wish to make you a slave.  “Mother” was a slave to her idol, and watchers of the movie soon see how quickly she unravels from the beginning to the end of the movie in her service to the beauty god.

Here lies the incentive for us to worship God above idols: false gods need to be served while our God is the one who serves.  In John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad, he comments on this very idea:

“Isaiah sees everywhere he looks are gods who have to be served rather than serve. For example, the Babylonian God Bel and Nebo:

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops, their idols are on beasts and cattle; these things you carry are loaded as burdens on weary beasts. They stoop, they bow down together, they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity. “Hearken to me, O house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isa 46:1-4; cf. Jer 10:5).

The difference between the true God and the gods of the nations is that the true God carries and the other gods must be carried. God serves, they must be served. God glorifies his might by showing mercy. They glorify theirs by gathering slaves.”

Do not be lulled into believing the false sense of security and recognition that idolatry promises to give you.  “Mother’s” worship to the beauty god caused her to kidnap, conspire, and even kill Flynn Rider.  The gods demand too much in service of them.  Worship the God who carries, bears, and saves His people.  Don’t be like “mother,” be like Rapunzel.  Wait, she idolized freedom, which turned her into a liar.  That’s not a good example.  No, you should be more like Flynn Rider.  Wait a minute, he idolized money.  That’s not a good example either.  You should be like the horse, but wait.  Horses don’t have souls.  What a crappy movie.  Lesson learned: don’t watch movies, read the Bible.  HAHA.

^ this could be you.  HAHA

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