August 16, 2015 [Genesis 4:25 - Genesis 5]

I don’t have Facebook, my wife doesn’t check her Facebook too much, apparently. During the middle of service, I kept on getting these emails and texts and it happened to be from Steve Kim, Pastor Steve, my good friend that spoke last week. He said, “Hey South Africa..., (they either call me South Africa or Kenya, because he once heard my mom say, “Kenny-ya” so they called me Kenya, or as you heard last week, “Crazy Kenny.” He said, “Hey, South Africa, what’s wrong with you? Your not checking your mail, your wife is not checking her mail? I wrote a letter to your church.” Well, I just got it. It’s hot off the press!

Letter from Pastor Steve
Greetings form the Lord Jesus Christ. It was truly wonderful meeting, you last Lord’s day. Thank you for the honor of bringing God’s word as well as welcoming me and my family. Many of you ask of Pastor Kenny’s stories of Boston days. As fun, memorable, and crazy as those days were, it appears to me, the best “Kenny” stories are being made now with his loving family as well as the loving family of God, CCC. I’ve met many pastors in my day, Pastor Kenny and Dami  are one of the most dedicated, sacrificial servants of God. So you’re blessed to have them, CCC. Likewise, CCC has to be one of the most joyful and vibrant churches i’ve seen in a very very long time. We throughly enjoy our times there, our kids who don’t like visiting churches, wishes they could go back. So Pastors’ Kenny and Brendon are also blessed to have such a supportive body in Christ. I’m sure that a loose soccer victory will come sooner rather than later. May Christ be honored, treasured, proclaimed and witnessed as you continually grow together. Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do things far more abundantly than we could ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory and to the church for all generations, forever and ever. His Best, Pastor Steve.

Where is the hope?
Hope. hope is a wonderful thing. there are lots of things you can do when you have hope, there are lots of things you can’t do when you’re hopeless. There was a french woman that wanted to swim across the English Channel. All the boats were there, and it was foggy. She’s swimming and swimming and she reached a point where she couldn’t go on. As her body was aching, she started giving up. She couldn’t do it. She was pretty close, but she’d given up hope. She couldn’t do it. A year passes ,she tried again. She swam and kept swimming and she, again got to a point where she was really tired. She felt like her body couldn’t take it anymore. As her body was deteriorating, her coach was paddling alongside her, in a boat. He said, “I see it, It’s straight ahead, that’s it. I see it, I see the land." She kept swimming and she completed it. What was the difference? The difference was hope, there was the end of the line, it was just a little bit away. “  Hope. We all need hope in our days. If you live life more than just a couple of months, actually, you don’t often get your own way. A lot of times in life, we tend to lose hope. "Is there an end to this thing? What is life for?" You see, for the Christian , the world is not as it seems. we don’t merely look at the world, we see the world through the lens of God. So what does God see? In the last chapter of Genesis , we saw Cain, where the older brother killed the younger brother out of a sense of jealousy and a sense of entitlement. When you sin, you naturally go away from God. That’s how we’re designed. The more we settle with sin, the more and more we fall away from God. That’s exactly what happened to Cain. He became a wanderer, and he left God. He built a city, he settled, and he named it after his image, his son. We see a continual growing of that. Cain’s family, to survive without God, became technologically sound. They played the lyre, knew how to bend metal, made trumpets. You see that in our day in age, Christian artists vs. secular artists, For example, Keith Green, you don’t know him. But, Frank Sinatra, he’s great! We know the popular Hip hop, and R & B artists, because that is all that they have to their legacy. We see that, we live in a godless society. We expose ourselves in magazines, and we all want to look like that. We want to look like Giselle, or professional athletes. We like beauty and brains, power and influence. As Christians, we look at that say, “Where is the hope?” Where is God in all these things?” As we read the end of chapter 4 that is where we are right now. There is a little section that says, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (v. 1-3) There’s hope. There’s hope. We see that.

There’s a problem, it’s death.
In Chapter 5 we begin with a brand new genealogy. "This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth." Cain is not apart of it. Because the bible is concerned of one thing, the lineage of God, where Jesus Christ will come. That’s what the bible is concerned about. People might say, “If the bible is so perfect, why was creation written in that way?” because that’s not the purpose of the bible. We see that it is not perfect. There is even a problem when we see the genealogy here, we see a pattern, starting in verse 4, "The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.” and he died, and he died, and he died and he died. We are presented with a problem, death. Death comes to all, just like chapter four, the world seemed hopeless because Cain killed Abel, but there was  little bit of hope. There was Seth and a little remnant started calling upon the name of the Lord. Even in that lineage there is a problem, death. we may ask, "Lord, how can there be death even among your people?” There's a problem, that problem is death.

God finds a way
We make movies about these. Fountain of Youth. Or movies where there are donor bodies to live longer, or some sort of technology to save us. We see that, because humanity longs for that, movies are from our deepest desire. Who wouldn’t like having power, like having blades come out of you, made out of Adamantium, this fictional metal that’s indestructible. Who wouldn’t want to be the Hulk? These heroes cheat death. But death is a reality and life is short. The bible knows that. The bible is  saying, yes, the bad ones die, but also the good ones die. Death comes to all.There’s a huge problem, but as we go on, there’s a little blip on the screen. We say, "What’s going on? There’s glimmer of hope. We got life here!" In verses 21-24“ When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” He ceased to exist, God took him. God figured out a way to defeat death, somehow. You don’t understand the theological ramifications. God is all powerful, if God says it, he has to do it. He is perfect and whatever he utters is perfect and if whatever he utters is perfect, it has to utter into eternity. Truth, rings into eternity, and what is truth? God’s word is truth. How can Enoch walk with God? How can God coexist with a sinner like Enoch? I don’t know. You ever think about that? I don’t know. But somehow God was able to do it. God was able to take a sinful man to heaven. There’s hope.

the True Noah
We see that life goes on, somehow life goes on. In verse 25 to the end, "When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.  We concentrate on this person, Lamech, "When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died. After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Noah means rest.  Lamech must have been a hard worker, and to raise his family. He ’s looking at the amount of work he is doing, and it's’ just not paying off. The world is hard. So as his child comes into this world, his hope for this child is that he can give us rest. Rest from this toil. We know the Noah story, Noah does bring rest to this world, through flood and judgement, that wipes everybody. But death is still a problem. It’s alright there’s hope. Through Noah and through his descendants would come the true Noah, Jesus Christ, God’s son. He makes a way for you and I. Just like for Enoch, he made a way for us to walk with God.

You see brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. Jesus Christ, is God incarnate. God saw the problems of our world, the problems of you and I. "Death, Death, and Death". What God says is ,”No more,” I‘m going to send my one and beloved son, and bring hope to a hopeless and dying world." He died and went to hell, and completely died. Dead as can be. To replace our death. God wants you to walk with him. Be his friend. When you have a good friend, it’s hard to hide from him. A friend has a full access to your life. Jesus wants to full access to your life. Jesus provides other friends, servants. Pastors, teachers, each other. As you get closer to Christ, as you walk with Christ you will walk with “Christ buddies” they are called “christians” and the "church.” So that you may overcome death, because Jesus demolished death on the cross, so that you can walk with Christ into heaven. Just like Enoch. Brothers and sisters, beloved CCC, Believe. Trust. Obey. Listen to what God’s says.

August 9, 2015 [Habakkuk 3:1-2]

August 9, 2015
[Habakkuk 3:1-2]
Pastor Steve Kim

I’m really honored to be here, happy to be here. I was rather shocked when he told me a while back “Yeah, I’m in ministry” and I’m like “What? For real?” Because he’s been sort of in on the pastor scene, he hung out with pastors, so he’s seen it all. What happens after a while many of us graduate from seminary and he’s seen how people leave ministry, kind of become disillusioned. And I was rather pleasantly surprised when God despite what he’s seen and despite the war injuries that he would have, the courage and the crazy attitude to jump into ministry because he knew what he was getting into. And yet I’ve seen over the years how God has used him to raise up a church. I just met you, but I’ve been hearing about you and so I’m really happy to be here. Yes sorry that I couldn’t continue on the series on Genesis 4, but we are in the same neighborhood, we are in the Old Testament. All right so I figured that that’s pretty good. But after all it is one Bible, it is one message, it is one Gospel, so lets get to work and to see the necessary work of renewal that God would have us be in. Thank you, thank you for welcoming me, thank you for loving God, and being his faithful witnesses, thank you for that prayer, many prayers, thank you Narrae for contacting me although I was a little bit late on getting back to you. Let us pray. Gracious God as we open up your scripture, may your spirit be with us and may the words that need to be said, be said and may it be received by all of us, especially myself, so that we can go out into the world to be your salt and light for your glory. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

All right two things that I want to share and this morning as we’re coming here from Burg, Virginia, the other state. I had my little 10-year-old read it and half way she said, “Dad, how are you going to read all of this? Can the people handle it?” And I said, “By the grace of God, I hope so.” Two things that I want to share are that 1.We need to be renewed daily and that we must humble our knowledge that renewal and revival is ultimately the work of God. We see here in verse 1 “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.” And this is a musical term, so its really interesting in the mind of prophets that we see a prayer set to music, namely a psalm, so this is really a psalm, this is a praise of song to God it reveals Habakkuk’s earnest desire to see the Southern kingdom of Judah to be renewed. Why? Because they are on the verge on the cusp of being overrun by the Babylonian empire. Their northern neighbors, the Israelites long before this in 721 BC were already run over by the Assyrians and so as they have been given a little more time, a little more grace by God, so this is around 586 BC and Habakkuk hears the Word of God that soon the Babylonians, modern day Iraq that is, will come and overrun. Why? Because of their unfaithfulness, we see throughout the history of the Old Testament, we see people waxing and waning in their faithfulness to God and in verse 2 the prophet says, “I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it.” Revive it, renew it. The Hebrew word there is chayah, which means to bring back to life, nourish, recover, restore to life, so the dynamics of spiritual life is such that we need to be renewed on a daily basis not just justified from the penalty of sin, the great doctrine of justification, but that we are engaged in the ongoing progressive sanctification. The great reformer Luther said “Simul justus et peccator” meaning at the same time justified and sinful. At the same time we stand before God with all our sins wiped away, all the penalty of sin removed from us, yet the sinful nature is still in us. So unless we go to God and say God “Renew me so that I do not waste this life, I do not waste this day, I do not waste this season in life where you have given me a chance to grow.” We also see that for Habakkuk this is a very personal plead to God, he calls out to God by his personal name Yahweh, O LORD, and he does that twice in that portion of prayer and praise to God. He calls out to him in his covenantal name, “O LORD, I have heard the report [the fame] of you and your work, O LORD, do I fear.” Why? As he looks around things are not as they should be. Where as they should be worshipping God because God reached out to sinful people having established a covenant, and yet they have abandoned God. They are chasing after idols, just like their neighboring nations. And so he prays and pleads for God’s renewal and so as the prophet Habakkuk cries out this prayer and praise to God this is a picture of a daily renewal that we need to undergo. Personally and this is inextricably linked to our covenantal renewal. So as you go on your retreat this weekend (our retreat is in 2 weeks) it will be a sweet season, where we can come together and really experience the working of God.

In this paradise renewal is necessary of every facet of life. Weather has been great here, so you say, “I’m going to wash my car.” But too soon, it needs to be washed again. We brush our teeth at least twice a day, right? Right guys? Wash our hair not once in a while, but regularly. Why? Because the law of entropy in which things break down, things slow down, things rot, has a parallel in our spiritual life as well. We undergo spiritual entropy, things break down, so we need to go to God and continually ask for renewal.

Consider King David, famously known as a man after God’s own heart, there are few that receive God’s grace as David did. From the nameless shepherd to king, his journey is legendary. While all the trained professional soldiers fear this Goliath, as a person who was not professionally trained he fought on behalf of the army of Israel. Outwardly it was about throwing stones and daggers and swords and so forth, but we see the stage being set that it was really all about worship. Who is this uncircumcised Israel who defies the army of the living God? He has confidence, faith that God will deliver him as he did when he fought against the lions and the bears. Even though he had the opportunity to overthrow King Saul who was harassing him and everybody wanted him to “Yeah let’s do this coup d'├ętat”, but he said, “No, how do I dare to touch God’s anointed servant.” Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands. There are few that had the same kind of victory that David had but in due time he fell into such a state that he would steal another man’s wife and commit second degree murder and to get him killed. And the write of 2 Samuel, where we find this narrative does a masterful job really setting the stage. Notice in 2 Samuel 11 “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” So you know what’s going to happen, nothing good is going to happen from this point on. Springtime, kings should be fighting, but he’s now living in past worlds. He’s trying to get by on past victories. He becomes complacent. “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch”. Did you hear that? He arose from his couch, his bed in the late afternoon. Remind you of some guys? What was he doing? Probably staying up all night, doing something, playing video games all night or their equivalent of. And so he was not doing what he needed to do. And then now what happens? He’s now Peeping Tom. He “was walking on the roof of the king’s house and he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” And he sends out his guys “Yo, yo, yo who’s that?” And he should have walked away when he found out that this was a married woman, but by this time David has become very much far from the heart of God. He failed to renew his heart. So if it can happen to David, do we doubt it can happen to us?

Spiritual renewal protects us from dead religion and formalism. I love how God has been bringing the truth of James 1:22 into my thought lately. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Let’s turn to the people next to you, let’s be doers of the word, not be hearers only. Its okay it’s a little awkward, its okay, life is awkward, get used to it. All right be doers of the word, not hearers only. Why? What happens when we fail to do the word thinking that we know “Oh yeah I know this” we deceive ourselves; we think that we’re more spiritual than we actually are. See true faith consists of at least two things, hearing and doing the word of God. Its far more than merely knowing about God, I’m sure you’ve heard this many a time, even possessing a lot of correct, biblical, and theological reform truth about God. But having heard it are we living these things out? When the real battle comes, when the rubber hits the road do we apply those things that God has placed in our minds?

Recently I went to visit our mutual friend who’s now a Chaplin in an air force base. And I realized these soldiers get world-class training and consider and so I’m trying to brainwash my kids to become ROTC. Just say that you are the best sniper out there, you can shoot a target a mile away across crosswinds and consistently. You are the best shooter in the platoon, you are the best ranger, you can jump out of airplane in complete darkness and land more accurately than anyone else, you’re a navy seal, you are able to go underwater and do your thing for five minutes without coming up, diffuse these naval mines. So you are the man, you are the woman. And everyone looks up to you. So you are a great soldier right? Well theoretically, possibly, but what happens when a time of war actually comes and that you have to lay your life on the line. Yes you have received the training necessarily so, but do you put that training and knowledge and know how into action? Putting your life on the line. Same thing. Its great that you have bible study, its great that you have retreat, its great that you have biblical knowledge, and no one in North America these days are starving from good Biblical teaching and I’m sure there is good Biblical teaching here. Of course there is the all-pervasive ubiquitous Internet, you can hear the best speakers that are out there by the press of a button, except for Tim Keller you have to pay for his, still. So it’s not for the lack of good theological information, but when the moment comes when God has prepared us with the truth in the time of that temptation, do we walk away? In a time of giving are we afraid of having less as a result? Yes you and I know that we are supposed to forgive, but that person just doesn’t seem forgivable and we start listening to Satan “Yeah you did it again, he did it again, I liked her Facebook page but here we go again, silent treatment.” And of course that is nothing. But of course the basis of forgiveness is not that the person is forgivable in our eyes, but we who were not forgivable, we who did not deserve any of God’s forgiveness, God freely forgives us through his own son. So here’s the thing, are we good Christians because we daily read the word of God, I hope we do, because we pray consistently, I hope we do, are we able to discern the truth from erroneous teachings, but merely having those things, as necessarily as those things may be, when the time comes for us to now walk the walk, let us not walk away from living for the glory of God.

1 Timothy 4:16, Paul tells the young pastor Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely; persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” I think there is a tendency and a temptation to really emphasize on one or the other, but the Bible doesn’t give us the artificial choice of really living in a piously, living in a spiritually for God, or really knowing the word of God, its both, not one or the other, but both. As we watch our life, as well as our teaching and our understanding and our doctrine closely, knowing that knowledge is for action, so that we do not just hear one thing and think that we know, but fail to live it out. The great Augustine said, “Leave, then, all other desires. He who made heaven and earth is more beautiful than all things. Learn then, to love the Creator in the creature.” Do you hear that? Love the creator in the creature, why? We cannot love God directly this point in our existence. God is in heaven this is his footstool, but there are around us beings uniquely created in the image of God. So why should I love someone? Because he’s my friend, well that’s easy, but Jesus tells us to go further. What good is it to love those who love you? Even those who do not know God can do that. But love your enemies. Why? Though you may not like them, they are still made in the image of God, Imago dei. That is the essential, the core reason why we ought to love anyone. Of course we need to take care of our families, the Bible says if you don’t care of your families, especially close relatives then you are worse than an unbeliever. Having said that we need to love all people created in the image of God.

Never permit what was made by him to take such a hold upon you that you lose him by whom you yourself were made. No wonder Paul he has singular truth, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”(Philippians 1:21) He makes his scenario where if I had to choose one or the other what would I do? I do not know, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23) Why? In heaven we can enjoy our Lord and Savior uninterrupted, this is the essence of heaven itself. J.C. Ryle says, “What could an unsanctified man do in Heaven?” that is those who have failed to really cultivate holiness in his or her life. “What could an unsanctified man do in Heaven, if by any chance he got there? No man can possibly be happy in a place where he is not in his element and where all around him is not congenial to his tastes, habits and character.”

I’m kind of old school, when was the last time someone brought up a paper sermon manuscript, its been a while right? Three years? And I was just telling Dami that I think I was born 50 years later. I love jazz and so I’m sorry there are probably a lot of fans of hip hop, but you can hip hop all you want, but give me bebop, hard bebop too. So I love jazz and I see some of you are smiling because you can relate to it or because you think it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, anyways I like to believe in the former but we all have things that we get excited about. Why? Because that is our element, but J.C. Ryle is saying this, “What good would an unsanctified, a person that did not desire God all her life be doing in heaven in the presence of God.” Let’s not get into it too much, but let’s just consider what Ryle is getting at. We become more and more what we are attracted to. What we desire. What we long for. Then Paul goes on to say, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” so this is just the opposite of how this world with its me generation and selfies everywhere, where its all about me, myself, and I. For the Christian, we are here for the other person. We’re not here for ourselves. Well we are, but not directly, we are here so we can help the other person to be more Christ-like, to grow in her, his faith and for a person who does not know God, yes to actually introduce that person to the one and only Savior. So again let’s continue our awkward encounters, turn to the person next to you, “I’m here for you.” And so you’ve heard the acronym, JOY, J-O-Y, Jesus, Others, and Yourself. To truly find joy and happiness in life is to have that priority in our life. To seek his fame and to seek the needs of others, and finally, we do ourselves.

In that trajectory, what happens, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 says, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” Did you hear that? If we were to just read that and make a whole church out of that doctrine that would be heretical. For you are our glory and joy, but in the complete balanced teaching of scripture. We know what Paul is getting at. The reward that we await comes as a result of how we lifted the other person. How we blessed the other person. How we were gracious to the other person. Forgiving, being generous, taking care of that person. Again 1 Thessalonians 2:19, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” I promise you this is the last time I’ll make you do this, turn to the person next to you again “You are my glory and joy.” Whereas we are so used to seeing the other person as a means to my end, the true Christian pattern and paradigm is just the opposite.  How can I be useful for this person? Ironically to the degree that we make ourselves servants, remember Jesus? He washed the feet of his own servants and since I did this. You go and do likewise. The great Augustine realized this and he famously said and I love, this might be my second most favorite saying of Augustine, “He loves thee too little, who loves anything together with thee, which he does not love for thy sake.” You got that right? Ruminate on that would you this week. He loves thee, that is God too little who loves anything together with thee, be it health, life, education, this great piece of life in the DC area, the safety that we enjoy in the comfort of this nation, our family, our spouses, our friends, our pastors. “He loves thee too little who loves anything together with thee, which he does not love for thy sake”, meaning it is all through and through for the sake of Jesus Christ, for his joy, for his glory, for the fame that we will get, for the crown that we will receive as a result of having saw him. Tim Keller says, “If we look to created things to give us the meaning, hope & happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually break our hearts.” That’s the same truth, just putting it in another way.

Finally, second point; let us humbly acknowledge revival as God’s work. Notice how Habakkuk comes to God. “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear” we’re not where we should be, “in the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” You recognize that it is his doing, only he can renew us, he can make himself known in the lives of his people. One of my teachers said, “Revival is an infusion of new spiritual life imparted by the Holy Spirit to existing parts of Christ body.” And gets this from Romans 5:5 where we read “Hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Adds Jesus “Unless I go, the Comforter, the Paraclete will not come” and he in the place of Jesus Christ, and the Bible also tells us he is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he gives us the strength, he give us the Daily Bread, he gives us the unction, he gives us the conviction. And of course, Habakkuk rightly seeks God it says, “In wrath remember mercy.” Why? God has every right to meet out justice for the faithlessness of the people of God. At the same time he recognizes that God is a merciful God that he is a covenantal God, who put his name, who staked his name in the relationship, in this bilateral relationship, so that based on his faithfulness he will continually deliver. And perhaps Habakkuk is thinking about a revival of a nation after the Babylonians come and storm their nation that God will not forever desert them.

On the one hand we are sinners who have rebelled against him and God has every right to judge us and punish us forever, but having punished not us, but his own son, Jesus on our behalf. We have the confidence to say “God, remember what you promised? What you did?” And remembering isn’t just recalling a memory. God remembered Noah. Did God somehow forget? “Oh yeah those people in the boat, oh yeah they need some food and some bathroom cleaning.” No. He acted upon the knowledge of their need and so we go to God and say, “Remember mercy. Remember that we are weak. We are but frail.” And as we call out to God as Jesus tells us “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It’s not only being saved from the punishment of hell in the future, but it’s being safe from ourselves here and now. Lets think about it, what is the main problem with the world right here, right now? Is it the politicians? Is it the culture in which we find ourselves? You could make an argument, but the main problem with this world is you and me. Imagine if we were a little less selfish, a little less angry, a little less impatient, a little more tender and kind. Just imagine how sweeter this fellowship would be. Some of you are saying, “No it can’t get any sweeter” but let’s just imagine how better this fellowship could be. It is mainly you and me, it is our hearts not being aligned to him which is the cause of our problem, but as we realize just how much he cares for us that we do not make it to heaven because of our excellence and obedience, but because we have an excellent savior who would withhold nothing, gave himself for us.

As we live a life of Christian discipleship, not just discipline. Discipline is learning to pray, learning the word of God, learning the doctrines, so that when the time comes for us to actually live it out, live generously, live sacrificially, live gladly, live joyfully, that we actually do these things. And Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” already among you and as the churches carry out their lives in such a fashion, the world will take notice of that and Jesus will say “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” So I hope you realize that we need to be renewed daily. If not Lamentations 3:22-23 would make no sense “The steadfast love” this is the great Hebrew word ‘chesed’ which means loving-kindness, great compassion. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” And you and I need to experience this day anew, every moment of our lives, so that as time passes that we do not say “Hey look at what I’ve done. Look at what I’ve accomplished for my family, for my life, for my church.” And we think that we can just coast and stay in cruise control, no no no. We must experience his grace anew every morning.

No wonder Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And although this might be a little corny and I’m sure it is, but hopefully it will help you as a pneumonic device. The gospel is not Michael Jackson’s song “ABC, 123” but it is A to Z as Keller rightly tells us and its 1 to infinity that in all that we do, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, that it is an extension of our devotion and our worship to God. And as Protestants, as great followers of the Reformation that we are all priests before God. Offering up our lives as a daily sacrifice in the temple, which God has made us for himself. So all these multiple metaphors take place every time we are conscious and we realize what must I do, how should I spend my time, what should I do with my life?

So I think I was oversees when my brother Kenny was probably praying to God and saying “God do you want to call me into ministry?” I wonder what was going into his heart. Right now you guys call him Pastor Kenny, but back in our days he was Crazy Kenny. I don’t know if you knew that, did you know that? There was a period when I graduated from seminary and it was supposed to be me and this other guy who were supposed to live in this apartment in Harvard square, but there were all these guys that were there just not leaving our apartment and I would come home from work and they would be playing video games and I would go to sleep and I would wake up and they would still be playing video games. Final Fantasy, right? But by the grace of God, God turned Crazy Kenny into crazy about Jesus and he’s using you and his better other half to continually bless you. How cool is that? Why? There is nothing, nothing better than for us to live for his fame. But for us to do that, for us to be that we need to be renewed from within and out. On the cross of Christ, God’s justice and his mercy kiss one another. So God is so holy so beyond our faintest imagination that there can not be even an iota of sin in his presence and yet God decided to love us, not because we are so lovable, not because we are so lovely, but he made us worth loving by giving us the value and worth by the virtue of his own Son, who paid the price. Some people say, “Well, why couldn’t God just forgive?” Because there is no such thing, there is no such thing as just forgiven.

Imagine I go over to Kenny’s house and you know our kids, our three girls and his two boys they some how start playing together well and in excitement one of my daughters breaks Kenny’s lamp. And of course being Kenny he’s like “No, no, don’t worry Steve-o. It is good. I got this.” And I’m sure he would be a gracious host, but see somebody pays for that. Either he has to replace that lamp, spending his own money or he has to undergo the loss and the pain of living in a darker home with less beauty and with one lamp broken its only Dami’s lamp left, so now they have to suffer. There’s some kind of suffering. Financial suffering, or aesthetical suffering, illumination suffering, there is suffering of some kind or another. Same thing. When every time we disobey God, every time we decide to ignore God and do my own thing, thinking that is freedom, by the way Maryland, first state in the Union to offer religious freedom, there you go. Good for you continue that. So there is a loss of some kind, deciding to do our own thing we have trampled on his glory. So God in whom there is no darkness, God is light there is no darkness, there has to be punishment. Of course we are the targets of that punishment, but instead of us it causes his Son to suffer on our behalf. So what do we do? The love of God compels us, not I’ve got to be a good Christian so I can make it there, but the love of God compels us to love those who are made in his image. See we don’t become a godly Christian just by the sure willpower of “You know what, I’m going to be a godly Christian.”

You can’t just become the Michael Jordan of basketball; I know he’s old school. Or Jordan Spieth, new school, of golf just by saying I’m going to be a world-class athlete. No, you have to commit, you have to pay the price, you have to go without all the luxuries of life to become a world-class person. Of course once in a while, guys make a shot and say, “Wow look at that.” And fool ourselves thinking maybe I have a chance in the NBA, but no. Anyone can do that once in a while; anyone can get a birdie once in a while. I think I had two or three in my life. But when everything is on the line, when the pressure is there and your muscles stiffen up, pros through their practice and commitment have learned to ignore that. So as Aristotle said, “Excellence is not an act. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act. Therefore, but a habit.” So if you have the habit of reading the word of God, fellowshipping, praying with one another, confessing with one another that in times of doubt when everyone’s depressed around you, we realize you know what God hasn’t left us.

This is just a preview in a movie theater. Why do you walk out on a movie that you paid for because the previews are terrible? No. Endure it; suck it up, because the real party is coming. And as you are watching the movie, it still sucks and most movies start slow. Why? There is what you call character development. The directors want you to empathize with the characters so that whatever happens to them later on that you care. Avengers 2, I didn’t care for it. Why? There was no character development, there were so many characters, but there wasn’t enough character development. Inside out too, I think it’s overrated.  Just couldn’t identify myself, I couldn’t feel for them because there was no personal identification. So yes at times Christian is dull it seems boring, but we need to endure it, continue steadfastly, and to see as we are changed from the inside out and not outside in, that God is using us, that God is challenging us. And so I will end with the quote from great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who said, “Watch your thought. [Why?] Because thoughts lead to action. Watch your action. [Why?] Because actions lead to habits. Watch your habits. Habits lead to character. Watch your character. Character leads to destiny.” And our destiny is the kingdom of God. But read 1 Corinthians 22, “But there will be those who barely squeak by heaven, but when the time of judgment comes all the work will be shown for what it was”, just bubble. If we sincerely desire him as the fountain of life itself and the treasure of great worth, the great worth of which we are willing to sell everything then our work will stand the judgment of God’s purifying fire. And on that day I hope I see all of you, with all the accolades and all the trumpets and all the glories of heaven itself because you have made this church one that truly embodies the principles and the spirit of Jesus Christ, who loved us and died for us.

August 2nd, 2015 [Genesis 3]

August 2nd, 2015
[Genesis 3]
"God's Will for Us"
Pastor Kenny Lee

How the world gets by
How do we get by in this world? How do we function in this world? I think a lot of people in society, we hear a lot of things.. we hear, money, power, fame, influence. You know, for the women in our culture, beauty and brains. For the men in our culture, height, money, power, influence and all that stuff, right? But at the center of it all, if you've gone through life just a little bit, your emotions, your feelings, things that really stress you out, most of the time, happens to be with relationships. You notice that if your relationship with your mom is bad, your relationship with your dad is bad, your friends are bad, you start stressing out and you start stressing out, and what you do is you focus on certain things". Forget those people, I have to focus on making money. Forget those people, I have to study and focus on this." Our attentions tends to gravitate towards those things.

Today, we are going to make it very simple, because our lives are complicated, right? Your world is complicated. I go to my child and I say, "Hey son", and they're only 7 and 9, you know. But way before that when they were 4 and 6, I would say, "Hey son. So, how's your day?""Oh, it's busy dad. It's really busy". A 4 year old and a 6 year old kid.. What's so busy? They learn.. So our lives tend to be busy. We kind of learned that. I think that it's a learned trait. Maybe as some people are actually busy, we've learned to say things like that. So what I want to do is, I want to look back during a simpler time, to see how God made things... How things really work in the world. Here are my three points. My three points are as so: 1) The serpent is at work. 2) The serpent uses scripture. 3) Know scripture. 

The serpent is at work
The serpent is at work. you know most people would agree in this world that if you asked them, the world has become better or worse? Most people that I talk to would say, the world has not become a better place, it's actually a worse place. You often hear of old timers saying "When I was young, I could leave the door open and I didn't have to worry about burglars or worry about thieves. I remember back in my day that I would go walk around and play with the kids in the neighborhood. Now, I don't even know the neighbors anymore. These days, I need to lock things up. I can't let my children out of the house". The world has become a "not so nice" place and I would say that most people in this world would agree. Wars, rumors of wars, they had wars back then too. We actually had world wars. But even so, even with that, people usually say that the world has become more violent. You know, we think that love is the answer. Recently, #lovewins, you know... The gay marriage act and things like that passed. Why do I say that? This is not a pulpit that names bad or wrong. But what I'm saying is that our world has become more liberal and we somehow think that our view of love will make the world better. And if I combine my first statement with this statement, now we can see that our liberal transition from a Biblical world view to a more liberal world view has gradually caused the world to not improve.

The serpent uses scripture
All this points to the fact that the serpent is at work. All this points to the point that there is a creator, a designer of all this (evil)... Other than God. We read that in chapter 3, it starts off with "The serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made." (Genesis 3:1). The first thing that he says is, "He says to the woman, "Did God actually say", actually contending, actually standing up to scripture and God, "Did God actually say"? We can see clearly what the serpent does is not only use scripture, but use scripture to his advantage. And throughout this whole dialogue with this serpent like creature and this woman... The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" (Genesis 3:2-3). Is that right? Well, because we are learned people of scripture, we know that answer is not right. The answer given by Eve is not right. Why? The exact wording of God is "You could eat of all the trees in the garden, except for the one in the middle, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:16-17). You just cannot eat of it... You could touch it, you could juggle it, its all right. You just can't eat it! Somehow, Eve just didn't know that.

God gives us a choice
Now, we look at this throughout history and we say, "Ugh, women... Look at this, look at this... Typical women, women, women. " Is that true? Yeah it's true. But the man is not out of sight, because, where's the man? Right next to her. You think man is not to blame? No! In my view, I think the man is the main person to blame. Why is that? He's like a typical man. You know what he does? He just stands there, says nothing, just quiet. This woman is dialoguing with this serpent and this man is doing nothing. Looks like a lot of our relationships these days.. Just very quiet. Why is that so wrong? Why is our society so wrong? "Oh Pastor Kenny, how can you see that thing and transition to our society?" Because when I see this, I see no change in our society. You know, do you know who taught scripture? The only person that God taught scripture, His word with is Adam, was it not? Because Eve was not even created then. It was Adam and God that was relating to one another and what happened was that God made Eden and God created Adam and God was walking with Adam and God was saying, "You know what, you could eat... I'm giving you all these things. I'm giving you all these things but do me a favor.. Just don't do one thing for me. Don't eat from that tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle. Can you do that for me? See, I'm giving you a choice. You could do anything and everything. Can you just not do that?" You know that that is? That's a choice. You're a choice now, You're given freedom of a choice. When you eat, touch it, look at it, you know what you have to think about? You have to think about how much you respect me, honor me and love me. You know what? If you love me more, if you consider me, what you will do is you will drop that fruit. And so Adam goes on and God loves Adam.

What does God do? God makes woman. That's the ultimate sign of love, isn't it? So God introduces the woman, and Adam's like "Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. you shall be called woman because you were taken out of man" (Genesis 2:23), first poetry, romantic, and I can just imagine Adam and Eve walking down and saying, "You know, here's the law of the land. You could do anything you want. You could do anything you want. We have a great thing happening right here. You can do anything, you know? You could do all that, you can run free naked all over the place, its awesome. But there's this one thing you cant do. Just one thing. You know that tree thats in the middle of the garden? You can't eat that. You know what? Forget it.. don't even touch it. " In other words, does Adam say the exact word of God? No. What Adam does is, he kind of puts a fence around the law in saying, "You know what? Don't even touch it." And that's exactly what the serpent uses. So the serpent goes "Did God really say that you can't eat any? No, no no. God said that you could eat everything but that tree thats in the middle of the garden, you can't eat of it, and you can't even touch it or you'll die." God didn't say that. I could see the serpent saying, "You know what? You think so? Why don't you touch it?" Adam and Eve probably saw some squirrels they named the other day touching it and everything like that, so "Well, I'll give it a shot." He touches it and "Hey, I'm not dead. Maybe.. God is lying.. Maybe God is lying."

We don't know God
So because of that mistrust, we somehow think that we know. We somehow think that we have God figured out. We think that somehow, we know better than God because of our experiences. We think we know better... Especially in our culture, don't we? What kind of culture do we live in? We live in a Judaeo-Christian culture that America is founded upon. We grew up Catholic, Baptist, we went to VBS when we were younger, and we have a mom who goes to church all the time and we have people like that and so we somehow think that we know God. We somehow think that we know the Bible. But the fact of the matter is, we don't. We somehow think that we know it all, but we don't. You know, I know my wife. I've been married to her for 14 somewhat years. I know her, but the thing is, she's constantly changing because she's a person. You're constantly changing. My kids are constantly changing. I just got a dog a couple weeks ago, more like a couple months ago (and he's getting bigger) and it's constantly changing. As we are changing, our view of God, our view of the world is constantly changing.

You don't know... You don't know God. We don't know God. You know why? Because it's a relationship, you see. We kind of look at the Bible as just a book. It's funny.. you know, this coming week, I'll be going through Genesis chapter 3 about four times... Five times next week. And each Bible study that I have, because on chapter 1, I did five times, and each and every one of the Bible studies, there's something new, there's something epic, there's something mind blowing. I do not know scripture. Okay, so just say that you buy that you don't know scripture. Does that mean that you just go out and read the Bible? No. you need to be taught. Just like God taught Adam and Adam taught Eve, but Adam taught Eve wrong, we all need to be taught.  So how do you become taught? How do you teach? In the context of a Bible study. In the context of Bible study, you teach each other and see views and all that stuff and then what happens? What that will do is encourage us to read the Bible on our own and so on and so forth, right? What we need to know throughout scripture is, what is God trying to say to us? Don't you want to know? Don't you want to know what God wants so say to you and how you should function in life? Don't you want to know that? Know scripture. Know what scripture is all about, and I am giving you a gigantic birds-eye view of this chapter, okay? For me to do justice to this chapter, you need at least like months, years to know what this is saying, and I'm giving you a little taste of it.

Freedom in God's law
The fact is that God created Eden, God created a perfect place and why did God have to make that law? Well, God made that law, "do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" because of us. Why? Because He loves us. Just imagine if God didn't place that law. Do you know how frustrated you would be? Just imagine if you could do anything that you want, that you could do anything that your heart desires and everyone will be like, "Okay." "I'm going to kill myself." "Okay." "I'm going to rebel." "Okay." There's nothing to rebel against, you see? "Yeah? I'm not going to listen." "Okay.. well, you're listening." You know how frustrating that is? it's like you can't breathe because you have no choice: you can do anything you want. It's a philosophical idea, actually, to have all the choices in the world is to have no choice whatsoever. See, what God does is that God places a law, do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and what God does is that He gives you a choice, a freedom, you see? Now, we have the freedom to express our love, and that love is to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Does God do that because he hates us? No! God gives us that choice to love us and to express our love for Him.

We know how the story goes, whether you're a learned student of scripture or not, we know how the story goes. The fact that they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and sin came into the world and this is how the world happened. The man called his wife's name Eve, and you know, the woman will have childbearing pains, the man will work the land and all that stuff.. It's not Eden anymore. It's not a perfect place anymore. This world is not a perfect place anymore. But the funny thing is, "The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand ad take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever-" Therefore, the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. he drove out the man and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:20-24). So this tree of life must be really significant, and what is this tree of life? The tree of life is this tree, when you eat of it, you have eternal life. And God keeps us away from the fountain of youth, basically. Boy, that's so mean, that's so terrible. But think about it. If we were sinful people and we lived forever, you think that's actually good? No. Is God afraid that we would take over Heaven? No! No, people! No! God loves us, you see? In fact, I'll tell you how much God loves us. The whole story of the Bible, because we started with Genesis 1 and now are on Genesis 3, where we first sinned, and we ripped our relationship with God. And you know what God does? Throughout all of the Bible, it shows you what God does with humanity. How God stays, how God DOES NOT abandon you, how God sticks to you like glue, and man wants to run away in fear, but you know what God does? God STAYS.

Jesus and the Tree of Life
 There's one problem though... We're still sinners. How will God resolve that problem? What God does, and you could read it throughout all of the Bible, through Genesis all the way through Malachi, Malachi to the Gospels, Gospels to the Episcals, all the way to Revelations, you could see this. How God stays with humanity, how God DOES NOT abandon, but God stays, loves us and adores us to the point where God says, "Hey, don't worry, I have a plan. I have a plan to redeem you. I have a plan to purchase you back. I have a plan to buy you back. I'm going to send you my one and only son to die for you. I'm going to send you my one and only son to redeem you. I have control over this world. I have control over your life. I know what's going on in your life. I know exactly who you are, and because of that, what you need is my son", God says. You need to be redeemed. You need to have a relationship with God. And you can be free. You can have the freedom to live life. You can have the freedom to have a relationship, you don't have to worry about yourself. God will provide. God loves you so much that God will provide people to stay in your life, that God will provide a pastor, that God will provide friends and all these people in your life, God will provide for you, don't worry about it. It's alright. The only way we can do that is to know scripture. Know scripture. Do you think that you know? You don't know. Do you know that's the reason why you are here? You guys know why you guys are here? You guys are here because something in your life is just not right, because if it was, you wouldn't be here. Something in your life is not right and you know that, and it's a good thing. It's like that with all of the world. What you need, what you need to know, is the fact that you need to know God. If you need to know God, the only way you know God is through God's word. God is the creator of this world. God is the creator of you. Don't you think that He knows your purpose and design? Go to God and know God's word. 

July 26th 2015 [Genesis 2]

July 26, 2015
[Genesis 2]
“God's Relationship with Man"
Pastor Brendon Wu

God vs. Man

The epic movie, Batman vs Superman, which the trailer for that movie I've been addicted to; that movie is coming out March 25th 2016. There's a line from that movie by the mega villain, Lex Luthor, that keeps sticking in my head. He says, and this is Jesse Eisenberg saying this: "Black and blue, god versus man, day versus night, the red capes are coming, the red capes are coming." Anyway, you should check it out. I think this thought of God versus Man is really what was driven to my head, what really popped up when as I was looking into Genesis 2. In Genesis 1 last week, we saw a macro-picture (meaning like a bird's eye view) of Genesis 1, as Pastor Kenny put it, is written in the form of poetry describing how God made creation in six days and rested on the seventh day. But, in Genesis 2 today, we see a micro-picture (like a street level view) of the chapter. We kind of have an insider news - "Hi, this is Anchorman Joe reporting to you live with Santiago...Santa. Hi this is Santiago Santa, I'm on the street right right now reporting live about how God made man here." So that's what Genesis 2 is like, it's reporting to us the insider scoop, the insider details, the "micro." 

The question that we should really have as we look into Genesis 2 and how God first made man is: What kind of relationship does God have with man? Is He someone that we're suppose to be opposed to or against? God versus man - Is he someone we're suppose to be in an epic battle with? or Does God actually have our good in mind and care about us? [God is] not someone that we're suppose to be against but someone that we're actually suppose to be with. When we look into how God made man, it says that He made man so differently. That's the first thing that really pops up in Genesis 2 - God made man so differently from the rest of creation. To just give an example, yesterday I showed the awesome magnitude of my parenting skills when I went to the house of an old friend of mine and he and his wife recently had a little boy - 8 months old and named Asher. This little Asher was being propped up onto his mother's lap and I went up to Asher and I showed off my awesome parenting skills by saying, "Asher, sit...Asher, sit!...Asher, paw...Asher, hand...alright, good boy!" A lot of you would know why I was talking to Asher like this because I recently got a dog and so it subconsciously comes out. Sometimes even in PACE Academy I'm just like "So and so, sit!...Good boy!...Thank you!...Listen...Good, good girls." Ok, but that's not how you teach kids, that's now how you raise kids, not as dogs, not as creatures. So there is something very different in how we're suppose to respond to human beings versus animals. Even we kind of know that, but sometimes we don't. 

When we look at scripture, we're reminded that God formed the man out of dust from the ground and put His spirit into man. It reminds us of how God first created everything else. Pastor Kenny was preaching last week, and he said that in Genesis 1:2: "God, His spirit, had been hovering over the chaos of the waters before anything was created." In other words, God was ruling and in control over everything. Here, we see in Genesis 2 something so intimate, something so special that I just don't understand. God takes His spirit, this same spirit that has been hovering over all of creation and never became a part of creation, and now goes into the very fabric or substance or dust of man. So God breathes Himself into man to create him, and that's what makes Man so different from everything else. 

The other day I had a really kindred spirit moment, that's what I call them, with Brian. We were on a rooftop somewhere and we were just looking at different things. I was like "Yo man, look at that tree. God's spirit is not in that tree. God's spirit is in us! Hey look at that little pole, that metal pole, haha you stupid pole, God's spirit is in us, not in that pole!" Man, it gives us such a heightened appreciation and thankfulness for how special God made us to be. But at the same time I think there's something so amazing about this when we really think about it even more. God who is everything put himself into something that came from nothing. His spirit is everything meaning everything that was formed came out of God and His word. His spirit was put into something, this dust, but this dust even originally came from nothing. It was what Pastor Kenny was calling "Ex Nihilo" - "Out of Nothing" that is how God created everything. 

Out of Nothing

When we think about that ["Out of Nothing"], there should be this humility yet at the same time this gratitude. The humility comes in the fact that when we see each other, when we look at each other, we realize: Wow, we shouldn't be spending so much time thinking about us or how great and magnificent we are, boasting in ourselves. We should have this thankfulness, to look at each other and realize what makes us great is not man or woman, what makes us great is that God made us in His image. That's why our church exists. Our church does not exist to take different talents of people and just show those things off to the world. Our church exists to show how God wants to redeem us - to take our talents, to take everything we have and glorify who He is. So, there is a humility and at the same time a gratitude, a thankfulness to God for who we are. This is something that really blessed me and hopefully blesses our church. 

You might look at this and say, "I'm not Adam, I'm Brendon. I'm not Adam, I'm...Santiago. I don't know why I keep repeating this name. Who is this man haunting me? Anyway, I'm not Adam, I'm a woman named Annie or I'm a woman named Katherine. This doesn't apply to me, see?" Well, put it another way, God put his spirit into us and not just in a physical way but also a spiritual way that applies to us today. Meaning, at Pentecost, on the day God's spirit came down to dwell in us, God put his very spirit, his everything into something that came from nothing. That is something we hear a lot. But what is even more amazing is that not only does God rule over everything but He goes through everything with us. We been learning in different bible studies or we heard of how during exodus or in the book of exodus, God went through 40 years of wilderness with his people. He was over them, loving them, protecting them, and providing for them, but do we also see and think about how He went through everything with them? You know we might say "Oh, God was impervious, He was invincible, He was untouched by the scorching hot heat of the dessert cause He's God. He never feared being destroyed by his enemies because He's God." But, what is so amazing is the fact that God knows what the Israelites went through. God knows what we go through today. Because of the fact that when we look even further at the cross, which is the center of Christianity, that shows that God didn't just put something into us, it shows that God who is everything became something that came from nothing. Even more amazing than that, the fact that God the creator would eventually become a piece of creation- a man or a woman like you and me, the mortal human flesh. What Jesus Christ did for us was that while He didn't need to become this weak form of who we are and essentially become nothing, as Philippians puts it, He became just like you or me. [He became like you and me] because of the fact that He not only wanted to experience some of the things we experience, but Jesus Christ loves us so much that everything that we struggle and deal with He went up on the cross to resolve that. 

If we could kind of piece this together, God is making man in Genesis 2, but while He's making man in Genesis 2, He knows that eventually man will disobey Him. Even when He knows that this person that He's making that He loves so much is going to sin against Him, He still loves him to the point where He's ready to die for him and eventually and become like him on the cross. When I look at this, I think it really challenges me and give me a new perspective on what love is. Most of the time I struggle with, "Man, this person did this," or "Man, I felt like when my parents said this, they hurt my feelings," or "This person hurt me that way." But, what if we could look into the mind of God and He's the only being who not only sees how people have sinned against Him, but even see how people will sin against Him. Yet, this is how much God loves us. Practically speaking, we have a God that loves us in spite of what we did in the past, in spite of what we're going through right now, and even in spite of what we will do against Him. That is how much Jesus Christ and God loves us [now] and loved us [before] when He first made us in the garden. 

The Garden

In the garden, it says that it was made in the east. Mt. Sinai was the place where Moses was writing this book of Genesis. To the east of Mt. Sinai was this land called Mesopotamia that was very rich and very luscious and everything. That was where the Garden of Eden was made. It said that God made every tree to spring up from the ground. It was pleasant to our eyes, it was good for food, and not only that, there are all these verses about rivers and waters that I don't personally understand completely, but it showed me that there was a lot of water. So, a lot of water means there will be no shortage of water which is essential to life. When we see how God made man and how He takes care of Adam and how He takes care of us, He really puts us and provides everything for us to the point where we lack nothing. This is a great question the bible really challenges us with. Do we know that we have a life where we lack nothing because God just provides everything? Do we really think that we don't have enough in life? So many times I think we think things like, "Man, I need this so badly," "If I only have this relationship," or "If I only have this job," or "If I only get into this school, then I will have what I need." In scripture, it's pointing out the fact that it's not that Adam has to go in pursuit and search for the things that he needs to survive but it's God providing those things. I think that is so different. 

The modern day philosopher who has lost a lot of credibility, but anyway, he speaks some ounce of truth, the philosopher, Bieber...Justin Bieber - He once sang this song that people couldn't stop singing around me so it got stuck in my head. He said, "I need somebody to love, I need somebody to love, I need somebody to love." He stressed this so much and to this day I'm like, "Need somebody to love? Who do you need to love?" I see him, I'm reading the news and he's loving all these people, and I'm like I don't think you need all these people to love. I don't think you need to love these people or maybe they are the wrong people. You need Jesus. That's who you need, that is the person you need to love. You know, who is the person that we need to love and we need to love us? Are we going to be like Bieber or are we going to look at Jesus' lyrics and what he says here? The fact that we need God providing things for us. It's not about us going into this world and forging for ourselves, but God provides for us. That in itself answers one of the hardest questions that we'll ever ask in our lives. That question is: Is God good to us? And that [answer] is, "Yes!" The reason why that question is so important is because we're about to read this seemingly diabolical thing where God puts some trees out there and He's like, "You can touch this tree, but you can't touch that tree!" Whoa what a weird game He's playing, you know? What kind of game is that? It seems like some kind of PACE Academy game or something that I'll make for my kids. Great idea! "Touch this tree, but don't touch that tree, let's see if you'll obey or not." The fact of the matter is that if we see that God provided everything for Adam and for us- He's a good, benevolent master, not a malevolent, malicious dictator, that'll form how we see this thing right here [scripture]. 

Why is God good? It seems like in scripture that He's saying you can eat off all the trees, one the Tree of Life you can eat from that too, but one tree called The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, you cannot. "But God, I want to eat from the tree of Bing, from the tree of Google, from the tree of the ultimate Yahoo. I want to know! All of us were raised with wanting to know, pursuit of knowledge." It's like, "God, why wouldn't You want me to know?" But God is good. For one, what we just talked about. One reason - He provided everything so we lack nothing. I don't think I realized how amazing earth is. I realized it a little bit more this past week. Thanks to the fact that CNN keeps putting these updates on my phone. CNN told me personally that there were these Kepler astronomers and scientists that found this planet-like thing recently that might have water and oxygen. They said the probability is one out of just so many number that I couldn't even understand. I was like "Whoa, earth is really special." When I went outside to potty my dog [Take dog out to for a walk], I looked at the grass and was like, "Whoa, it's amazing. The plants are giving oxygen and they're living because of water so I can live. That's amazing." God provides everything and we lack nothing. Do we think that we need to know more than what God has revealed to us? or Do we see that God provides everything we need? Maybe there's a reason why in the Garden, God said, "You don't need to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. You don't need to know everything about good or everything about evil. You need to know Me." 

God Doesn't Need Us, but He Loves Us

A second reason why God tells Adam to not eat from the tree is because the fact that He wants to give him a choice. He wants to tell him what's right from wrong, and He's already teaching him, molding this image that He has formed. After all, man is made in God's image. It gives him a choice. A choice between loving God or not loving God. God doesn't force us to love Him. Why not? I think about that a lot. Even now, why not?  "God, you're so powerful, You created things with Your words. You're over-dominating. You're the ruler of all the universe, why don't You just force everyone to love You?!" God doesn't do this because He doesn't need us. He simply loves us. Wherever we turn in scripture from Genesis to Revelations, God will never say that He needs me. Or you. Or her. Or him. Or any of us. But it says that God loves us. That is why He gives us His word. 

If we could just imagine. Let's say we're in a relationship with someone. We're with that person and we hear them say, "Hey I need you and I'll be with you as long as I need you." We're like, "Aww, they need us." But, at the same time we're like, "But how long will you need me?" And then we become our own Biebers and we cry, "How long will you need me?" That'll just be feeding our insecurity. What if there was a relationship where someone says, "You know what, I don't need you." "What? You don't need me? You don't need me?! Well, I don't need you!" But, hold on, hold on. "I don't need you, but I do love you and I'm committed to you forever." That will make us the most secure person in the world and we wouldn't have to become Bieber. That would make us secure and that love can't come anywhere outside of scripture because God is the only one who can give us that love. God doesn't need you, God doesn't need me, God doesn't need this church even. This church needs Him. But instead what God says to our church and to us is that, "I love you. I formed you. I went to the cross for you, and I put my spirit in you now. I give you My word that I love you and I'm committed to you." Do you see God's commitment? Do you see that, that is what we need to know? That God give us a choice: Love Him or not. 

A Choice

The third reason that I think it's so beautiful of why God just tells them [Adam and Eve] don't eat from The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil and they don't have to is the fact that salvation doesn't come through the Tree of Life, damnation not really through The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil (although we always think of it like that), but actually salvation comes from through God's word. It's the very word that made us, is the same word that saves us. 

Now I think a lot of times when I read this passage, I'm thinking of Morpheus. The reason I'm thinking of Morpheus from the movie, The Matrix, is because there's a scene in The Matrix where Morpheus, this wizened man (played by Laurence Fishburne), sits in this nice couch and he offers to Neo [two pills]. He says, "Neo, do you want to enter The Matrix? There's a blue pill and then the red pill. Take the red pill and you'll get out of the Matrix, and you'll become a new creation [Neo will learn more about The Matrix]" I forgot the line from the movie. "The blue pill, stay just as you are and go back to your life." We think like we have to decide some how. Morpheus gives Neo two pills, "Better pick the right one!" That's true. God gives us two trees, "Better pick the right one!" No. That's not it. God says Himself that it's not up to us to make the choice. God says himself that His word save us because His word saves. It says that if we eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we'll die. No rocket science. The simplest law. God tells us, and God speaks to us. I'm so thankful for that. That God takes time out of eternity to speak with us and to converse with us and show us between right and wrong, between making a choice for Him or not for Him, between what we should do, and that's what God's word is. Not this ambiguity, not this "I got to make my own decisions." But what does God want for us? And that's what we see from this passage right here. 

It's so amazing because as we look on, there's something not good in The Garden of Eden. "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa...How can there be that is something NOT good? Not good? No, God doing something not good, that's impossible." But, not good for man to be alone. And that's what God says: "I will make him a helper fit for him." We see, "Wow, a helper - Not good for man to be alone." Why does he [Adam] need a helper? Didn't we just see that God put His spirit into Adam? Didn't we just see that God provided Adam with water and oxygen and plants, everything he needs? Didn't we just see that God walks with Adam and even gives him a Tree of Life and instructions how to do all that? Why would Adam need other people in his life? Why would we need other people in our life if we have God and God's word and that's all we need? Right here, on the third page of my bible, it tells me it's not good for me to be alone. That Christianity isn't just and God and me relationship, but there has to be a "us" in there somewhere. I think this is something that just destroys any ideas that we have that we can love God or have a relationship [with Him] on our own. 

A Helper

God says, "Let me make him [Adam] a helper." Is that like a side-kick? Is that like a Robin to a Batman? or Scottie Pippen to Michael Jordan? Or Joe Biden to Obama? Like what is that? What is a helper? Elf to Santa? But, no. Scripture shows that this helper that is being described throughout the bible, the helper often refers to God. In other words, what God is saying is that it is not good for man to be alone because he needs help. God decides the way in which he needs help. It comes in a very special form, and so that is why God chose to make woman for man. 

She's a wonderful helper, someone who is so crucially important to his mission and existence. Apostle Paul said that, "It's not that man was made for woman. Woman was made for man." Man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. I think that is so important because of the fact that man needed her not the other way around. Man doesn't even know how much help he needs. "Man, you don't even know how much help you need. Man, I don't know how much help I need." Do we think that we know how much help we need? Yet so many times in our lives we think like, "Oh, I don't need any more help, I'm good." "I have everything that I need in my life, I'm good." "Everything's good. How can it not be good? I have a bible. I have Jesus. He sitting in my heart. How can it not be good?" We live in this age of self diagnosis where a lot of times for sicknesses, I've done this a couple times, I'll go on WebMD and other things to self diagnose myself. I end up like, "Wow, I didn't know I had five terminal illnesses running at the same time. God made a really powerful creature out of me." We can self diagnose ourselves and think we have all these sicknesses yet that's what we do spiritually. What God is saying that's true is that: Not Good - Man alone needed a helper. Right there in the garden, if God is saying to Adam that he needs a helper and sin hasn't even entered the world yet, how much for us who are sin-tainted, sin-corrupted, sinful, we're just sinful creatures in an sinful world, do we need help? In a form that God provides to us. 

I don't know how else to stress this: Not "A good" [thing], alone, need a helper. God is the only one that alerts us how much help we need. We don't know how much help we need for ourselves. God goes through this creative creating process where he creates woman from man. He puts him [Adam] in a divine sleep like a spiritual anesthesia. When that happens, what God does is that He opens up Adam's ribs, He takes the ribs from Adam and He makes it into a woman. When I read this, I'm thinking "Why is God making a woman out of man?" If you look closely, he makes this [woman from man] and bring this woman to the man. "What is God doing?" God knows that the other animals weren't intimate enough for Adam. He knows that they were not enough help, so He brings enough help to Adam. He [God] leads His woman, an intimately crafted creation, (that's what a woman is- an intimately crafted, beloved person made by God personally), He leads her to the man and says, "Man, here is your woman. Woman, here is your man." And Man sings the first song in history- a love song. An ode to true joy. The woman God provides for him just enchants him and brings joy out of him. He [Man] explodes in song. How many times when we're really excited we just break out into song? You know Hayden Lee? I know Hayden Lee. The one thing I love about Hayden in our church is that a lot of times he just breaks out into song. There are these weird tunes I guess he learned from school or from somewhere, but he's just so excited about life and when I see that, that is the kind of joy that we're suppose to have when God brings help to us. That's what God is doing, bringing a woman that He loves, the help man needs to man. 

But, what's God really doing? We know that it's not really about man. We know that is not really about woman. So what's God really doing? What God is really doing is that God wants us to have the same relationship with each other that He has with us. [Pastor Brendon Wu Repeats] God wants us to have the same relationship with each other that He has with us. He has a relationship with Adam, with man, but now is the time for Adam to experience that with another Adam or a woman that came out of Adam. That is why God made relationships for us, our relationships. Because He wants us to have the same relationship that He has with us. The reason why He made us in the first place is because He wants us to have the same relationships that He has within Himself, the Trinity. When I see the love that Adam has for Eve, what Apostle Paul later says, is that this [Adam & Eve] is an example of amazing love because this is the kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us. In Ephesians 5, it compares Adam to Christ or it compares man to Christ and compares his wife to the church. Ephesians 5 says, "He who loves his wife, loves himself." Adam loves woman here because he sees that she came out of him. It's just a glimpse into the love Christ has for us. Just a fraction. And yet, what the gospel and the good news says is that, Jesus loves us so much more than we could ever be loved by someone else. Even more than how Adam breaks out into song for Eve, that's how much Jesus Christ loves us. 

God's Love

What happens when we utterly fail to keep God's laws and designs for us? God tells us not to eat from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God tells us to love Him and Him only, and yet many times we don't. God tells us to love our neighbors, and even that we don't do properly a lot of times. But again, it's the fact that God doesn't need us but he chose to die for us on something called the cross. From the cross, this crucifix made out of a tree, comes our life. Put it another way, we have a new "Tree of Life." Adam and Eve eventually eat from the tree that they shouldn't have eaten, and they are exiled from the garden. All of us eventually do the same thing where we sin against God, where we don't listen, where we don't obey, where we don't honor our parents, where we've told lies, where we've hidden ourselves from God - we've don't countless things. Even still, Jesus Christ, the creator is the one who became a piece of His creation and died for us. 

Man, that's how much Jesus Christ loves us. That after all this goodness that we even read in Genesis 2, even when we've sinned, no matter how much we've sinned against God, Jesus Christ still loves us. He just didn't want to make us, but He desires to save us. That's how much He loves us. What we're called to do is submit under God's love, to be like Eve, to leave our father and mother, and cling to Christ and Christ alone. Jesus Christ is greater than us, He loves us so much, and wants us to know that even more than how Adam sang a song of thankfulness for Eve, He went up on the cross to buy us back and to redeem us. To put His spirit into us, to give us His word, to give us Himself because that's how much He loves us. That's the kind of relationship that God has with us. What kind of relationship do we have with God? Are we running from God? Do we think he hasn't provided enough for us? Do we think we don't need a helper? Do we think that we don't need the church or don't need Jesus? But even while we are still going through all those questions that we need to answer, Jesus Christ is still who He is: Perfect, loving, a master, and a savior.