The Worth of Christ

This semester in Campus Outreach at Virginia Tech, we’ve been going through a series called “One Movement”. Essentially, we’ve looked at the Bible as one story of God’s redemption for his people throughout history.

The video below is my message concluding the “Tipping Point,” where Christ made the message of salvation known and the apostles began to spread it. While the church grew exponentially, they were met with opposition.

How they responded showed the worth of the message, and the worth of Christ himself!


The Impact of Worship


At Campus Outreach at Virginia Tech, we went through a series called “One Movement”, where we studied the entire Bible as God’s redemptive history for those who trust in Him.

I got the pleasure of sharing the story of Daniel as he was taken from his native land and forced to serve the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. However, Daniel defied the odds by remaining true not just to his heritage, but to his God.

Rags to Riches, and Riches to Rags?

Everyone knows the classic rags to riches story. We love hearing stories of people growing up in poverty and making it to the big time. VH1 made a killing off assembling a whole show with shots of big houses, fancy cars and lavish furniture.

Yet, there’s something somewhat unsatisfying when you see the show and hear these incredible stories. Former drug addicts turned superstar; former slum-dweller turned movie star. While we can rejoice in their alleviation of suffering, have they really made it? I mean, is the gargantuan house with eight cars out front really the chief end of man?

Before VH1 made their show, there was a story very similar some 4,000 years ago.

Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel, was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were jealous of him. Their father loved him more than all the others and made him “a robe of many colors” (Genesis 37). So, they decided to cover their daddy issues by getting rid of their brother.

But God had a bigger plan.

Joseph went from slave to prisoner, and it looked like things were never going to get better. But, there was a constant refrain throughout this narrative. “The Lord was with Joseph, and he found favor in their eyes and had success in all he did.”

Soon enough, after interpreting a few dreams, Joseph had gone from slave to prince with the help of his God who delivered him and blessed him. But, he didn’t use his blessing to simply sit on the throne in Pharaoh’s house or mass much wealth. He used it to help the people by saving them from a devastating famine, and to make much of God by showing all the people God’s wisdom, power and provision.

This is one of the greatest rags to riches story ever told. And there’s only one greater.

“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Philippians 2:6-8]

In order to go from rags to riches, Jesus first had to go from riches to rags. He gladly gave up the riches of heaven, “not count[ing] equality with God a thing to be grasped” in order to receive the rags of his earthly body. He humbled himself for 33 years on earth, until he was nailed to the cross, the most painful and humiliating death at the time.

Yet, it was only then, when he had paid the ultimate sacrifice, could he be exalted to the highest place next to the Father. It was after his life and death that He received his riches, greater than ever before.

Because now, it wasn’t just him who received riches from his rags. Now, ALL who believed in him and gave their lives for him would receive the same riches that he received. The same spotless record, the same standing before God, the same eternal promise.

When it comes to riches, I’ll take an eternal promise over a mansion and a Hummer any day.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” [2 Corinthians 8:9]

One Movement

This semester for Campus Outreach at Virginia Tech, we’re doing a series called “One Movement”.

Too many people look at the Bible as this big, archaic collection of documents with no relevancy to today’s world. In reality, it’s one flowing story of God’s redemption through his people, for his people. It’s a movement throughout human history for salvation, redemption and restoration.


There’s a prominent theory in storytelling that as humans the stories we write all follow the same story arc. That, in reality, there may be different characters and different plot lines, but there is actually only ONE story behind all of these stories that we create. While we have creative capacities which God endowed to us, we cannot create outside the confines of what’s already been created. In essence, our clever creations only mimics God’s perfect creation.

One Story

I believe this traces the larger story of our history with God as depicted in the Bible. It’s a story of creation, separation, redemption and restoration. This major story arc impacts not only the stories we tell, but our very lives.

Stay tuned for more postings about the theme “One Movement”.

Paris, the City of Lights? (Part II)

Even on the first day I was in Paris, I knew it wasn’t the City of Lights it was boasted to be.

Culture paints the city so romantically: the beautiful Eiffel Tower, the romantic cuisine and the gorgeous Seine River, among other things. And those perceptions aren’t inaccurate — there just such a small picture of the larger city.

The Eiffel Tower gives off the most light in the city.

The Eiffel Tower gives off the most light in the city.

Walk several blocks away from the Louvre, and you’ll see homeless people begging for money, begging for attention. Walk up the steps to the famed Sacre Ceour and you’ll find immigrants from West Africa with rough, war-torn pasts scamming people for money to find a way to provide for themselves and their families.

Even in the so called “light” of the city, there’s a mask painted over the real issues. You see, the recent terrorist attacks weren’t a chance event. It’s been looming for some time. There’s a clear divide in the city between French and immigrant, between the “beautiful” and the “forgotten”. But even the romanticized parts of the city aren’t without flaw.

When I went to a local creperie, the restaurant was pretty empty. I tried to engage the owner in conversation because she seemed lonely. After I ordered, and she was about to walk away, I said, “Vous appelez-vous? (What’s your name?)”. She turned to me, dumfounded, and said “Quoi? (What?)”. I repeated myself and she said “Moi?”.

It was clear she had never really been asked this question. Nobody had ever cared to engage her in conversation, to ask for her name.

She smiled slightly, and shyly responded “Alexandra”.

“Dieu vous bendice (God bless you)” I told her as I paid and left.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. Because the French culture has become so calculated, secular and politically correct, it’s shut out passion, compassion and the true light.

The city lit up at night on the Seine.

The city lit up at night on the Seine.

It had it once, and I believe the city is not without hope. But something needs to ignite the light.

On my last night in Paris, I was headed to do some shopping on the Champs Elysees. However, before boarding the second train, I felt that I should get off at a completely different stop. I couldn’t explain why.

I was walking around for a while and I saw a group of people standing around in a circle, and I knew that they were Christians. I stuck around to see what they were doing, and they were praying for a homeless man who had approached them. I stood by awkwardly, wondering if I should approach them. I knew I had to.

“Excusez moi, êtes-vous christiens? (Excuse me, are you Christian?)”. “Oui,” they responded.

It turns out they are from Hillsong Paris — which was crazy, because when I was in London I went to Hillsong London and they told me that I should try to hook up with the church in Paris. We got to talk and hang out for a while, and they told me more about the church and the city.

Hillsong London serves around 2,000 people for 5 services!

Hillsong London serves around 2,000 people for 5 services!

They have expanded a lot — now they offer five services and a variety of outreach for the city, including ministries for the homeless. I knew when I saw them that these people were the true light of the city.

The terror won’t stop in Paris or across Europe until the people are presented with true light, true compassion, true hope. It’s not found in a building, it’s not found in social policies, and it’s not found in secular, humanist philosophies.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Paris needs more people to let their lights shine, that the Parisians may glorify our Father in heaven!

Paris, the City of Lights? (Part I)

Paris, with the beautiful Eiffel Tower lit up at night almost like a watch tower, has been dubbed “the city of lights”.

The Eiffel Tower sits lit up as a beacon in the night sky.

The Eiffel Tower sits lit up as a light tower in the night sky.

There are always people, always things happening. Yet, isn’t this name somewhat ironic? And it’s not just amidst the recent tragedy.

I was back for my second full day of experiencing Paris, after a full five days in London. And, don’t listen to what people tell you, these cities are altogether different!

As an American entering London, it seems like a cool American city with a very unique culture — the type of city you long to live in, almost like the adorable stepchild of San Francisco and New York.

Well, Paris is from an entirely different family. It’s a gorgeous family, but holistically different.

On the day I arrived, I met up with a group of Christians who are trying to make a difference in the city. Once a week, they hand out Christian literature outside a local market — a truly great resource for those who are interested! That’s the only problem with the French.

You know that time when there’s a guy trying to hand out stuff and you fake like you’re getting a phone call and you have to pick up just so he won’t talk to you? The French don’t have to fake anything. “No! No! Don’t give me that,” some of them say, prancing away.

Blunt and to the point. While they don’t really like talking with strangers, or see why such an idea even merits consideration, with a culture that’s so matter-of-fact, sometimes a good, authentic conversation is soothing.

When we were handing out literature, a Romanian woman came up to us and started shouting in French, “Merci! Merci pour faire le travail de Dieu! (Thank you for doing the work of God)!” We went on to talk with her for a while and I prayed for her, her family and her life. She was very appreciative and it was a huge encouragement to us! It’s not often that you encounter people in Paris who love God, much less even care to know if he exists!

After about 15 minutes of people passing by uninterested, one guy passed by and said, “No, I don’t believe in any of that…” as he proceeded to stand there, waiting to hear what I would say. “That’s okay. What’s your name?”

A simple question led to a 10 minute conversation where he opened up about his background and his beliefs. He was confirmed in the Catholic church, but soon discovered a lot of the corruption and abuse of money. I could see why he was so confused and said he no longer believed. “That’s people though, not God,” I told him. “People may be deceitful and selfish, but that is not the way of God! He is real, I know this to be true, and I pray that he would work in your life!”

“Okay…thank you,” he said, shaking my hand and walking away.

The French people may say they’re not interested in talking about God, but it’s because of things like this. They don’t really know what they’re saying no to! Heck, if it was about old Catholic traditions and Sunday mass and no relationship, I would say no too!

Yet, their hearts are crying out for something more, they just don’t think God is the answer!

“If God is real, then he’s not active in our lives,” said one Parisian.

I approached several of homeless men throughout my day, and one of them really affirmed this. He was asking for money to help feed his children. Sadly, I actually didn’t have any money on me! But I thought of Acts 3 where Peter had nothing, but what he had (the hope of Christ) he gave him.

I told him I didn’t have any money, but I wanted to talk to him, get to know him and pray for him.

His name is Peter and he lost his job. He has a little boy and needs money to provide for him. Just another person, like you or I, who has been slighted by the world and is in need of help. But more than financial help, he needed a friend, a human being who cared about him.

“Thanks for stopping,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better than money, you know, to talk to someone. Thank you!”

The French people don’t care to stop for homeless people. Don’t care to talk to strangers. The culture is individualist to the core, and secularist in its soul. So when they encounter true love, true light, sometimes they don’t know how to react.

I scaled the steep steps up to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful Catholic Cathedral that’s been a beacon of light for 125 years. As I stood on the church steps and looked out onto the city, all I could think about was the darkness.

The light shines so clearly in the darkness. Are we in focus enough to realize what the light is?

The view of the city lights in the darkness.

“City of Lights? How ironic!” I said to myself. The dimly lit buildings and street lights offered a minuscule light source, but the Eiffel Tower was the only real source. “Where is the light of the city?”

Without hope and compassion, the light is gone. And in the midst of terrorism, racism and secularism, the city is crying out for true light. Where’s it going to come from?

Stay tuned for Part II.

Lost in London

I wasn’t about to be that classic tourist, camera around the neck, map hovering in front of his face, asking everyone and their mother where Buckingham Palace was. Nope!

Yet, I was lost. And the next day. And the day after that.

After walking for quite some time, I finally found Buckingham Palace!

After walking for quite some time, I finally found Buckingham Palace!

Luckily, London has these handy stands with a map of where you are with major streets and landmarks. And it seems that the locals can sense this lostness from a block away; they don’t always help you, but some do.

Thursday, I ended up wandering through a local hospital. Don’t worry, I was fine. Directional dyslexia doesn’t require medical attention. Friday, I ended up getting off at the wrong stop and walking for over an hour. Yesterday, I showed up 15 minutes late to the first church service, and 20 minutes late to the night service. Today, I showed up 20 minutes late to a meeting.

The church service I was 15 minutes late to, with more than 2,000 in attendance!

The church service I was 15 minutes late to, with more than 2,000 in attendance!

There’s something about whenever I travel where things just seem to go wrong. Flights get cancelled, buses get delayed and directions take you to the wrong place. Last night, I watched 15 buses pass by as I waited for about 45 minutes until the right one finally came.

I’ve found myself get pretty frustrated — especially with no cell service or wifi available. I’m alone. I’m somewhat helpless, although I don’t like to admit it. But God has used it every time, to transform my worries into worship and give me a clean heart.

Last night, as I was waiting for the bus to come, wondering if I would have to lug my bag 4 miles to my destination, my heart changed and I just started laughing hysterically. My heart changed from frustration to fascination with what God was doing! Then, I started singing “Holy Spirit” by Jesus Culture as a prayer over the city, that He would come and transform lives.

Watching the cars and buses go by in Late Night London.

Watching the cars and buses go by in Late Night London.

Sure, I’m lost consistently everyday when I’m here. But I’m not the only one, and there’s far worse lostness here. I’ve met homeless people, immigrants and locals and in a sense, most of the people are lost with what really counts in life.

The businessman on the tube may know where the train is going, but will success bring him to his true destination? The immigrant may know the daily walk to her shop down the street, but will financial stability bring her lasting life? And the homeless man may know the street corners where he gets the most money, but where does he need to go for joy?

Sure, if I get lost I waste 30 minutes. But if someone lives their entire life for something that leads them in the wrong direction they waste 30 years…or more! London offers these various tantalizing directions, but they don’t bring you to the right destination. No wonder I’ve continued to get lost here!

The London Eye directs people to find joy in attractions, entertainment.

The London Eye directs people to find joy in attractions, entertainment.

It’s only when you’re lost and humbled, that you realize you need help to find the way. But when you think you’re found and you’re truly not…that’s when you’re truly lost!

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found.” — John Newton