God is So Good!

"God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He's so good to me." We have been singing this chorus this week in many places, and it is my testimony. We learned in Survey of Doctrine class that God is omnibenevolent. Just like he is all-powerful and all-knowing, God is all-good. If it's good, it's God. Jesus said that there is none good, but God, and He would know, right?

In my last blog entry, I mentioned that the young people would be singing in church on Sunday morning. They sang well, and I was proud of them. Youngjae prayed and played the drums, Dongsu and William sang, Bella did a wonderful job playing piano, and Jooah prepared the worship slides and led the singing. I enjoyed working with them to plan their song service. We met after church during the youth time and discussed how we can get more out of the messages, and this coming Sunday we are going to listen to the message for one special word from God for us to share with the group or ask one question about the message. I told them that they all know something about God that I do not know, since their personal relationship with God is unique, so I have things to learn from them and we all have things to learn from each other about God. Unfortunately, Isaac was not in church last Sunday, but I got his phone number and sent him a couple of text messages saying that I missed seeing him and hoped he would come to service so I can give him the gift I bought him. God was extra-good to me last Sunday, because He gave me the opportunity to hold this little guy:
Yoomin asleep on the floor in the Sunday school classroom.
Sunday evening, I met with the Wednesday night worship team to discuss ideas that might help make our worship preparations easier and more profitable. We went to a nearby restaurant and ate some delicious food, since mixing food and fellowship is very Greater Grace and also quite Korean. One of the nice things about Korean meals is the variety of side dishes to share and sample. I tried some new dishes I had heard of but never eaten before, like pickled bracken. It looked like someone had sliced up a tree branch and soaked it in white vinegar, but it had a taste that had me eating piece after piece of it. After dinner, we walked around looking for a place to have dessert, but we ended up buying ice cream novelties and fruit from the fruit and vegetable store that recently opened up right across the street from the church. We went inside the church and ate Concord grapes and slices of kiwi, grapefruit, and peaches and talked a little more before heading home.

Wednesday night, we tried a new worship format (and sang God is So Good) and it worked so well that I think we will stick with it, and after service we practiced our songs for next Wednesday night. We are getting better at what we do, and it is fun helping my teammates with their English diction. When I get to where I can read Korean, they will return the favor, I'm sure.

Monday afternoon, Pastor Steve and I went to visit an English language institute that serves preschoolers and kindergarteners. It is owned and operated by a Korean Christian couple. The wife is the school principal and her Canadian son-in-law is the vice-principal. The school uses Montessori methods and Christian curriculum, and the native English speakers are from America, Scotland, and Canada. They have Korean co-teachers who speak both Korean and English. The school building is a beautiful multi-story former house with lots of windows, and the classrooms are just right for inquisitive little children to explore and discover knowledge in. Pastor Steve brought me along for this first meeting since I have a history with schools and teachers, and our church may end up doing a couple of fellowship times with the staff twice a month. The owner said he wanted his staff to meet, not just for the usual staff meetings where problems are solved and events are planned, but for times of prayer and edification in the Word of God, which is what our ministry here does very well; the Finished Work message of grace is much appreciated by those doing the Lord's work in this country. It may be that I end up taking this school on as one of my ministries.

Tuesday afternoon, our Caffe Tiamo Bible study was moved to a time later in the afternoon due to the attendees' work and study schedules. This is the study with the Japanese students. Because of the time change, it may be that I take on this ministry too, since it will be difficult for Pastor Steve to teach this Bible study and get back to the church to teach his Bible class on time.

(Are you getting an idea as to how to pray for me?)

Tain came home on Tuesday from Thailand with his visa and some Thai food in hand. We treated him to our Taco Tuesday lunch. We call it Taco Tuesday even though we don't make tacos. It's more like taco salad Tuesday or what we have taken to calling "Mexican Bibimbap Tuesday" since all the ingredients are mixed together in a stainless steel bowl and we have rice as part of our taco salad. I made guacamole for the first time using precious avocados from Costco (thanks to Dawn), and it came out pretty well despite the lack of cilantro. We ate some of his Thai treats (even Thai sweets have a little fishiness to them) and then he went and took a nap while Dawn and I started Phase 2 of our Project.

What was Phase 1? What is this Project with a capital P? Well...

It seems that Dawn and I have had the same idea for a while now, which is to do a make-over of the chapel and the Bible college classroom. After Bible college class on Monday, Dawn brought her laptop into the chapel where I was working on proofreading the English on the PowerPoint worship slides, because she wanted my opinion of a letter she was writing on Pastor Steve's behalf. Somehow in our discussion, it came out that we both wanted to do something about the chapel. I'm the kind of guy that likes to see what things look like in reality rather than theory, so I stopped talking and began to move and remove things on the stage and in the seating area with Dawn's assistance and ideas. Before I knew it, we had created a space that felt spacious, restful, and functional. We discussed doing some painting, making some valances for the windows, getting an Apple TV so that Pastor Steve can use his iPad to teach with through the chapel projector, and putting a verse or two on the wall in Korean and English. This was Phase 1.

Phase 2 is the classroom makeover. Once Tain was down for his nap, we began brainstorming how to set up the ideal classroom that can be turned into a fellowship hall on Sunday mornings. Soon we were moving chairs and tables and bookcases and podiums into various configurations, and then we went to the secondhand furniture place around the corner and scouted some large wall-mounted whiteboards to replace the little rolling whiteboard Pastor Steve currently uses. Because the board is not up yet, we put the classroom seating back to its od configuration, but kept the bookcases and podiums in their new spots. The next day, the students said they felt like they were in a nice classroom, so I can't wait to hear what they say when we put up the board and rearrange the furniture so that all are closer to the board and the teacher. Plus, the bookcases are all going to be painted the same color so they match (how does black brown sound, Paula Lange?) and we plan to paint the wall behind the whiteboard to add some color to the room.

Sometimes missions work is just doing practical things that make life for churchgoers, students, and the team pastor more pleasant. (I think Skye Zucker and most women would agree that surroundings have a big impact on one's ability to concentrate in a church service and even help one's desire to show up for class or service.) I know that I have a harder time focusing if I feel crowded or if the light is too glaring. 

Thursday was another visit to Yeomyung school where I was asked to teach the students a song. We sang God is So Good, because we'd been singing it in Bible college this week. I think it loosened up the atmosphere a little, and we had a class where more students than ever participated. Our questioner asked two excellent questions (one was, "Why did God make the man first?") and the topic of God's design for marriage and sex had everyone's attention, especially one young man who had not previously shown so much interest in class. He was pumping his fist and furiously taking notes on the subject of the order for the man to be the head and the covering of the woman. We had to laugh at his enthusiasm and the rolling of his females classmates' eyes at his antics. I spoke to the English teacher and next week I will be sitting in on her classes on Thursday observing and getting a sense of how I can help as a volunteer. I had only planned to observe, but she said I could help, so maybe I will end up doing that as well once a week or more. We shall see what God has in store.

Today we finished the doctrine of hamartiology. We're all fully convinced that we are sinners and that without Christ we'd all be lost beyond hope. That is what makes our salvation a "so great a salvation." We started off feeling rather down on ourselves when this doctrine was introduced, but today we were laughing, recognizing that there is nothing we can do about our total depravity except to accept what God has done about our sin and live in the freedom He has given us by grace through faith in His Son. Yes, God is so good! And then we celebrated Tain's birthday and ate cake!

Happy Birthday, Tain!


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