Tuesday, June 03, 2003

ok...so maybe i need to develop a social life...my friend emailed me below yesterday...

Sometimes I think your like a business man... doing business for Jesus. I think the
only times I've ever talked to you was for business. But, you're a busy guy... busy for Jesus!
Slow down... relax... and experience God's peace.
Blessings with school, bro!
~erin

this last saturday nite i spoke at a korean youth groups Praise Nite!
it was such a blessing..it reminded me of old youth group retreat
days :OD haha..they even played the worship set..KPOP style!
it was dope..techno worship kinda stuff. I spoke on the father
heart of God & for those of you who are asian american~ here
are two must reads...

Wild At Heart~ John Eldridge
The Father Heart of God~ Floyd Mclung

below is a sermon i wrote for a group of asian american men
months back that touched a bit on God's Father heart...



The Battle for Our Destiny: (Asian American Men)
 
False stereotype: Scared, timid, fear of the unknown, predictable, trapped, stiff, nice.
 
What do I want Asian American men to know?
 
I want Asian American men to know that they have what it takes to be all that God created them to be. Inside all of us is an innate desire to find out and pursue our destinies in God. We know that we are created for more than just a college degree, 9-5 job and a to have a family. There is a hero in the heart of every man that is waiting to come out, but where is it? Sadly, this hero is trapped by the fear of disobeying our parents, stepping out into the unknown and doing what the world would think of as “crazy?” Yet, somehow inside of every man is a burning desire to pursue his dreams and to find out what He is made of. We only have one life to live, so what and who are we living for? My only fear in life is not doing the will of God. It haunts me to think that I could live a life apart from the purpose for which I was created. The biggest lie anyone could ever live is being a lie to himself. Denying yourself of who you really are is not only a detriment to yourself, to God, but also to the world. The world is waiting for you! But where are you? Are you stuck in a cage unable to come out because you are scared of what others will think? Women are waiting for their knights in shining armor, but all they are getting are a bunch of predictable "nice" Christian men. I don't think Jesus died on the Cross so men could be merely "nice" (don't smoke, go to church, make a good living etc) You can have a secure job, but if you’re doing something you truly do not want to do, then what is the point? Bottom line, are you pursuing the destiny God has created you for? What is stopping you from being the warrior God has created you to be? Somewhere down the line our Asian American parents may have told us not to take risks in life. They may have called us good for nothing, may have never really verbally communicated their love to us and maybe never gave us the option to be who are hearts were crying out to be. There comes a point in a man’s life where he has to make a decision: to either follow his heart or remain in fear. Interestingly, our Asian immigrant parents took a huge step of faith into the risky and unknown when they decided to come to America. Maybe, that is why inside all of us there is a burning passion to live a life of faith and adventure. It is in our blood and in our heritage to take on the frontier. Our desire to journey into the unknown with God in reality has been passed down to us from our parents and ultimately from God. I want to challenge Asian American men everywhere to their true calling in Christ. A man must ask himself three questions. Who am I? What am I made of? What am I destined for? Who you are is who God says you are. What you are made of is simply the same stuff God is made of. What you are destined for is something BIGGER than what you could ever imagine. That is, to know the Father and to accomplish His will on earth.
 
As a young boy I was always dreaming. You could say I was unconventional for a Chinese kid in California. I grew up watching 24 tape series Kung Fu soap operas with my Dad 6 hours a day. We watched the kind of epics where the hero always started out a young goof ball who knew squat about kung fu and somehow through a series of adventures ended up becoming the ultimate kung fu master. As always he wins the heart of the beautiful maiden and kills off all the bad villains to save the common people. As a young boy I knew no other way of living life, but to be that kung fu hero. My heart was always set to discover the unknown, to discover my potential to make a difference, to discover my beautiful princess, win her heart and conquer the world, to save the day in my own way.
 
When I gave my life to Jesus Christ I made a deal. The deal was, “Jesus if I’m going to give you my life 100% than it better be an adventure! I’m not settling for the boredom I see in Church. I want it to be just like the kung fu epics I watched as a kid. Make me a hero. I’m using this Bible as my secret kung fu book to defeat evil.” For whoever keeps his life in this life will lose it. But whoever gives it up for My sake, will find it.
 
I. I Am Who He Says I am (Who am I?) Exodus 2:9, 3:5
 
You are who God created you to be. You are a warrior. For we are more than conquerors. What is your picture of Jesus? Is it Mother Teresa or William Wallace? Is it Mr. Rogers or Indiana Jones? Every picture in church of Jesus shows this meek white guy cuddling a bunch of little children. Yes, that is true, but Jesus is also the guy who cast out a legion of devils, told the devil to get lost, calmed the sea with three words, knocked the devil upside the head and showed up to Joshua as the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. Does he still look merely nice? Yet, Christianity today has raised up nothing but a bunch of nice guys who are equated as “real men” because they don’t smoke, drink, cuss or do bad things. Their idea of battle is a Wednesday night Bible study and accountability group. At the same time, being a man is not merely watching football, driving a rice rocket and putting on a dragon tattoo. Being a man is something of the heart. We were created in God’s image and we know that could not mean physically because God is a spiritual being. Therefore, we were created in the likeness of His character. As men we were created with God’s masculine heart. God’s heart is not weak, but it is strong. He is valiant, noble, holy, powerful and able to do anything. I once heard, “We will think of ourselves no more highly than what the most important person in our life thinks about us.” Who is the most important person in our life truly?
 
For many people, who they are is what others say they are. Whether it would be from their parents, peers, or society at large. But God is shouting, “YOU ARE MY SON! THE ONE I LOVE! THE ONE I’M CRAZY ABOUT AND THE ONE I BELIEVE IN!” Many times, especially for Asian men our idea of how God sees us is skewed, because we believe God sees us the way our own biological father sees us. There are generally four types of fathers. The authoritarian, absent, abusive and the affirming father.
 
I grew up with an absent Father. Make a long story short he was never home. Around the age of 10 my father separated from my mother and left to do his own thing. Truthfully, I always had a hard time relating with my Dad because if he ever came back to visit I wouldn’t know how to relate to him cause he seemed like a stranger. Sometimes we see God the same way. We see God as this absent Father somewhere in outer space playing checkers with angels in a far off galaxy. He seems hard to relate to and therefore to create relationship seems awkward. My dad when he visited me once in a blue moon actually told me he loved me, but it was hard to believe because how can you love me but be absent in my life? You also have fathers who are physically there, but emotionally not there. Anybody home? Dad’s on the couch watching kung fu soap operas or the 49ers. Sometimes you wonder if he cares more for the remote, his stock options and golf than for you.
 
At the same time, my father was at times physically and verbally abusive. Everyday I watched him fight with my mom yelling at the top of his lungs. He was also verbally abusive towards my goals and ambitions in life. Both my sisters were back to back valedictorians in high school and there I was with ambitions to become the first oriental rapper and next Bruce Lee in Hollywood. My dad would always say things like “you’re good for nothing, not a good boy”, and would definitely never bring me up to the other uncles and aunts as a good son. Inside I always felt like an underachiever, not a good boy and had low self-esteem. Why would I want to live for God if I saw Him as this thundering mad man in heaven wanting to destroy my good dreams? Or how could I believe He loved me, believed in me and saw me as good when my own father saw me as a screw up? This led to my own insecurities as I watched all my friend’s graduate to go on to prestigious universities and I was stuck contemplating junior college or acting school. The lack of verbal affirmation from Asian Father’s is a huge problem in Asian American young people. Many times parents will point out the bad instead of the good.
 
“Hey Dad I got 1600 on the SAT’s!”  
 
“Why you no get 1800?”
 
“Dad what if God was calling me to be a missionary or an artist?”
 
“What you say? Missionary? Missionary no money! You want to be artist?
 OK, you do as hobby, but you engineer first!”
 
Sound familiar? We are use to our parents telling us, who we are and what we are to be. Taking risks is taboo and the only sure-fire way to success is that which has been proved and tested. You have four options to be an engineer, doctor, lawyer or get an MBA, cause they work. How can I believe God to be anything else? My dad once told me, “Jason stop crying, men don’t cry!” I was crying because my parents were fighting and I wanted them to stop. That word created a wound in my heart. It was a wound I bound up and ignored. So I grew up thinking, little boys don’t cry, real men don’t show emotion, they suck it up and take the pain. Wrong! Grieve the wound, because it is in our tears we receive our healing. The day I acknowledged my pain, was the day I was able to open my heart to God and also forgive my father.
 
Then there is the authoritarian father. It’s either his way or the highway. He seems like the army-drill sergeant who wants to work you to death to get his purpose accomplished. “Young man as long as you live under my roof, eat my food and I pay your college bills you do what I say!” There is always a sense of guilt, shame and burden to do it his way. It is your duty to honor his immigrant struggles because he went through hell so you can have a chance at life. You feel like you owe it to him, to be obedient, to do things his way, but it is not motivated out of love. It is motivated out of fear, guilt and a constant struggle to gain his acceptance. Now when you see God you see Him as a Big Boss man in heaven pointing out your wrongs. He only wants to accomplish his purpose on earth at the expense of you. You resent his purposes for your life cause you see God as selfish or see your obedience as a debt owed for what Christ did on the cross. In your mind God no longer wants the best for you, but wants to enslave you.  
 
Finally, there is the affirming father. This is the good father. The father that was always there for your baseball games, piano recitals, cheered you on, hugged you and told you he loved you. I was amazed recently when I shared a room with a Caucasian pastor and he called home to his children after being away for a few days. He talked so warmly, intimately and “snuggly wuggly” to his kids it almost made me sick. “Oh hey little guy Daddy misses you so much, you know how much, more than you could ever imagine, and when I get home you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to kiss you all over your face and snuggle you in my arms and and!” In Asian culture a father would be on the equivalent of crack cocaine to say something like that to his child. Yet, those words are exactly the kind a child needs. To feel loved and to feel like Daddy believes he can do anything. In the same way the heavenly Father is also crazy about us and believes in us more than we could imagine. And still, no matter how affirming our biological father maybe, his affirmation towards us will never even compare to the love of our Heavenly Father.
 
 
We as men, will never find who we are until we receive our name from God Himself. We will never know our true potential in life and be able to live out our God given destinies unless we come into an intimate knowledge of the Father’s heart. In other words, we must know what He looks like and what we look like to Him. Masculinity is bestowed by masculinity. And our identity is bestowed upon us when we spend time in seeking the heart of God. Moses did not understand his true self until he met God at the burning bush. He had to take off his sandals. In other words he had to remove the barriers and comforts he had known in order to humbly receive His destiny in God. It was in His presence Moses was transformed from a disillusioned wimp to become the hero God created him to be. God wants us to know He is for us, not against us and is on our side because He believes we got what it takes, because He’s got what it takes. God is not like our earthly Father’s who have failed. He is a lover and His desire is toward us. He is madly in love with you and me. To the point it says in Zephaniah 3:17 He rejoices over us (meaning He dances like a wild man over you and me). There is no condemnation in Christ, He never sees our failures, but He always sees our hearts. In Christ, we are loved and pursued by God and seen as holy all the time. He loves us even in our weakness and He has created us in His likeness. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will never be absent. He says that we can do all things, anything in Christ Jesus! He looks at you me and says, “That’s my boy, that’s my champ, I believe in you Son, get wild, get crazy and follow your heart!” You must ask God what He thinks of you, and you must stay with the question until you have an answer. Fight to know till you know that God sees you as good, because your heart is good. He loves you regardless if you fail to do your quite time consistently, regardless if you keep falling into the same sin, He loves you for who you are not what you do for Him. He doesn’t want you to only obey Him. He wants your obedience to be motivated by His love for you. We are lovers first and workers second. I love Him, He loves me, and therefore I am successful. Success is not what car you drive, not the job title you have, not the people you know, or what accomplishments you have achieved. Success is your relationship with Jesus Christ. You being loved by Him and you loving Him is your true identity.
 
Illustration: Gladiator, Personal 9-11
 
II. I Can Do What He Says He Will Do (What am I made of?) Exodus 4
 
“To see God in everything makes life the greatest adventure.”
 
One question that plagues the minds of men in their pursuit of destiny is, “Do I really have what it takes?” Do I have what it takes to be all that God has called me to be? Could I really be a Pastor? Could I really be a musician? Could I really be a missionary engineer in China? Could I really do what I sense God is telling me to do? Inside the heart of every man is a burning passion to really live. William Wallace in Braveheart said, “All men die, but few men really live.”
 
 
There came a point in my life where I had to ask myself, “Do I want to do what I want to do, what my parents want me to do or what God wants me to do?” Do I want to remain in fear or be honest with my heart? The question is do we fear God or do we fear man? Jesus came to bring a sword right? I use to think Jesus brought a sword so I could be sent to Africa and get eaten by a tiger on a missionary journey. Also, how selfish it was for Him to tell me to love Him more than my family? I realize now Christ came to bring a sword so He could cut me free from anything holding me back to experience the freedom found in Him. In my own journey I have found that what you think you can’t do, God can do and you will never know if God can do it, unless you try.
 
Sister Prophesies I’ll be a Youth Pastor
 
When I was a freshman in high school my sister came home one night from a prayer meeting and God had revealed to her in a prophetic vision my book of life. I was sleeping in the living room tired from smoking too much marijuana. My sister woke me up and said, “Jason Jason I saw your book of life and God showed me your going to be a YOUTH PASTOR and you’re going to help kids going through the same struggles you went through!” Looking up into her face I thought she had lost her mind. I said, “Youth Pastor, yeah right, I’ll never be a Pastor, look at me?” My mom was in the kitchen jumping around yelling, “Yay Jason going to be a youth pastor!” I thought my sister and mother had both lost it. How could God use me when I was smoking, stealing and doing every illegal thing possible? Plus, I simply had no desire to be one.
 
Interestingly enough, when I became born again my senior year God launched me into starting an inner city outreach to youth in the urban area of San Jose. Two years into it, I became the youth coordinator shepherding inner city kid’s who had gone through similar struggles I had on the streets.
 
Youth Pastor senses my calling
Even while I was running this inner city ministry, for some reason I still wasn’t sure if God was calling me into full time ministry. I was still holding onto my dreams to be a rap star, actor and successful businessman. One Sunday morning I woke up early and decided to go to the adult English service. To my surprise my youth pastor was the guest speaker. As I was sitting in the front from he started sharing how God was doing some exciting things among the youth and how he felt in particular this young man named Jason Ma is being called into full time ministry but he doesn’t know it yet. He also didn’t know I was in the front row listening to every word he was saying.!God began to sow the idea of His calling in my life before I had a desire for it. In my mind I thought, “Could I really be used by God? What about all my hopes and dreams? What will my Dad say? How will I survive financially?”
 
Struggle w/ the call to full time
I never thought in my mind I would be a minister, but God had it in His. Moses never thought he would deliver a million Israelites out of oppression, but God knew from the day He was born. After fighting with God and not wanting to give him the things I was holding onto and not believing He could actually use me, I surrendered. Like Jacob I wrestled with God for over a year after I rejected the first call to full time ministry at a winter camp altar call. In my times of wrestling w/ God, which really just became seeking His heart, I realized God was good. He was a God who wanted the best for me. He was a God who would take care of me and prove Himself faithful. He was a God who knew best what would make me happy. He was a God who time and time again proved Himself worthy and faithful of my love and devotion. At 18 when there was another altar call for full time ministry I gladly accepted the challenge thinking to myself, “Why not? It would be stupid not to live for Him.” The fear of me not being able to do what God called me to do, simply became “Jason do you trust God to do what He says He will do through you?” The adventure begins when we follow our hearts, let go of our insecurities and with eyes of faith follow God. It’s a risk. But oh what an exciting risk it is!
 
There comes a point in a man’s life where he has to leave the familiar behind and go on into the unknown with God. This will mean risk, danger and without reserve sacrifice. But isn’t this what man was created for? To live by faith and not by sight. To find out if he really has what it takes? Is our purpose not to find the potential and the hero within? The hero does not arrive until there is a battle to fight. What would have happened if Abraham decided to weigh the pros and cons of God’s invitation to the promise land? What if he decided that he’d rather hang onto his medical benefits, two story house and retirement plan in Ur? “Attempt great things from God and you can expect great things from God.” There is no such thing as failure in God’s economy. A man only fails when he doesn’t even attempt to try. For with each failure we become another step closer to success. My only fear would be to sit on my death- bed and regret that I did not attempt to do the things my heart had always wanted to do. I want to live life with no regrets.
 
God’s very nature is a risk taker. He took a risk when He created earth and left it in the hands of humans. He took a risk when he gave humans the freedom to choose between good and evil. He took a risk when He sent Christ down to earth to die for our sins. He took a risk when He took the risk to love you and me. God’s very nature is a risk taker, because He loves to see Himself come through. We were created with that same risk taking blood, to get out of our comfort zones and explore the infinite potential within us. If we fail to take a chance in life, we fail to really live. We end up bored, safe and frustrated. God loves it when humans decide to put their faith in Him, because it gives Him the opportunity to prove Himself faithful.
 
Illustration: Indiana Jones “The Last Crusade”
 
Many times we can feel like Moses when confronted with a challenge by God at the burning bush. Lord who am I? Why the heck would you use me? I can’t preach. No one will listen to me. My parents don’t believe in me so why should You? I realize more now God is calling us to do what He will do through us. It is not our ability, but His ability flowing through our availability. God is not looking for capable men, but He is looking for men who are available to be used by Him. He wants us to know we can not live this life alone apart from Him. The life of adventure is a life of pure faith. When we go into the unknown with God, we are acknowledging we are dependent upon Him. When we are dependent upon Him, God is then able to show us His faithfulness. That He will do what He says He will do and we have the privilege to be part of it. 
 
 
 
 
III. I Choose to Be Who God Has Called Me to Be (What is my destiny?)
       Exodus 4:18
 
Illustration: Braveheart
In order for Moses to get free he had to get out. You can only free others of what you have been freed from. I must choose to be what God has called me to be not what others say I am to be. My parents say I’m suppose to be successful so I can provide for my family and make them not worry. Society says I am an Asian male so I am to be timid, non-confrontational, nerdy, weak and unattractive. Wall Street is telling me to follow my dreams, make a million bucks and build a vast empire in the latest technology. Get all I can get and be all I can be. Yet, there is something so deceiving about all of these expectations. They all lead to emptiness and a summation of falsehood. They are false expectations building up a false heart. I’m not telling you to not be a businessman or not to honor your parents wishes, but I am suggesting you to honestly ask yourself, “Is this what I’m really destined for?”
 
When I decided to go into full time ministry it was a hard decision. All my friends from Church went on to prestigious universities to pursue their high powered careers. They experienced the college dorm life, went partying and would always tell me stories of all the fun they were having. On the other hand, I had chosen Bible college and a profession not too respected by the average Asian parent. Dealing with my own insecurities I was tempted to go the traditional route. I thought, “What parent would let their daughter marry a preacher? Darn, I need to go back to school and get me an engineering degree or M.B.A” Finally, I came to terms with my shame. Who was I living for? Was I living for the approval of Asian American culture, my Father who wanted me to go into business or the parents of the girl I was going to marry or the approval of my friends? My friends would often say, “Jason you go to what Christian college?” It finally dawned on me. I am who I am. This is who God has called me to be and I will rejoice in it. Of course not everyone is called to Bible school, God forbid! What I am saying is, on the road to your destination, you will face opposition, temptation and doubt to go back and turn the other way. Simply, cause it is easier. Now remember, the road to perdition is wide and many walk on it, but the road to Christ is narrow and few choose to walk this path. But the ones who do are the ones who find life.
 
 
If you had the option to be anything and finances would never be a problem what would you be? If you could be absolutely anything and your parents would support you to do it what would it be? If you could do anything and you knew without a doubt you could not fail what would it be?
 
 
Unless we choose to make a decision today, we will never choose to do it tomorrow. When Moses was finally convinced that God would do what He said He would do, He went. I’m sure he was still shaking in his boots and insecure about his mumbling problems, but something inside of him said, “It’s not about me right now, it’s about God and it’s about His love for His people.” The hero doesn’t live for himself. The hero lives for what He believes in. The hero doesn’t know the outcome of the battle, but he knows the reason why he’s fighting. Who are you fighting for? Who are you living for? We are bombarded to live for security, to live nice Christian lives, to please others and to live safe. Did Jesus ever live safe? What do you really believe in? Do you really believe God is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Is the great commission for everyone or just the talented and gifted Christians? Do you believe God has wonderfully and fearfully created you in His warrior and loving image? The world is waiting for you to arrive, not tomorrow, but right now! You must choose to live for Christ, you must choose to live for freedom, even if it means your very life. Without freedom, you will never discover what could have been. My heart cry is that you will be free from the slave system of man and be free to discover your destiny in Christ. Believe that He loves you, He is with you and He has called you to freedom.

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