jlin is NOT EVEN CLOSE to Tim Tebow’s impact

This is my own response to my original posting Is Jeremy Lin the next Tim Tebow for Basketball?

I had one week to reflect on this.  One week of the American Sports World taking this to new heights.  One week of Taiwanese flags flying all over MSG stadium.  To assess any situation objectively, we need to <PAUSE> and look at it with objectivity.

For this past week or so, with all the heights and drama, we now see JLIN on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.

I love the story lines.  I root for Jlin (even against the Lakers).  This is what every kid in American needs to have ingrained in their work ethics.  Be coach-able, be persevering, be humble.  The blue-collar middle class should look up to this stud, because he is what we dream of… Work hard enough, you’ll get your chance.  I applaud this because it is a value I hold dear…. BUT HE IS NOT TEBOW, not yet.

After 1 week, I was trying to notice something different. I was looking to see where the GOSPEL would sneak in.  I was looking to see if he would bring FAITH and SPORTS into the same conversation.  As a devout Christian, I wanted him to give credit to a bigger cause.  I was waiting for him to be TEBOW… where he undeniably gives credit and shares his love and compassion to the un-reached people of this world.  I was waiting for him to use the STAGE of STARDOM to unleash God’s message of hope.  This is why Tebow was controversial.  This is why you see stories written on Tebow’s legacy by famous sports writers like Rick Reily’s “Believing in Tim Tebow”.  It’s his work off the field for the LORD that caught the world by surprise.

So my answer to my blog…. NO – not even close.  Not Yet.  Good, but not close…  I pray that his story one day will bring hope to a world that doesnt need more “success” stories, but more “Gospel” stories.

Video: Jlin story from NBA.COM

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Artist Spotlight: A Journey of Worship and Justice, Part Two

In our NG.AC community, we want to highlight stories of people courageously answering God’s call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Daniel DK Kim’s journey of worship and justice has led him and his family to commit themselves to fighting human trafficking in Mexico City for the next two years. They left today (with answers to prayer from the very start). Read the second part of our two-part interview with DK:

__________________

What is the connection between releasing your new EP thefirst and your family’s commitment to fight human trafficking in Mexico City?

This EP is my first-ever studio project and I am still baffled and dumbfounded that it is complete, in print, on sale and in the hands of people who love it. It has been a dream come true and the way it happened was so sudden and unexpected, I can once again say that it’s because of God’s goodness this came about. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

[Read more…]

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Artist Spotlight: A Journey of Worship and Justice, Part One

Daniel DK Kim just gave up his dream job.

As the worship leader at Newsong Church in Irvine, California, DK has been living out a personal dream.  And yet, on June 15th, DK, his wife Sadie and their young son Micah will be moving to Mexico City for two years, “to do our part in the abolition movement while working with and raising up a generation of indigenous artist/activists in the city to lead the charge… until we see the end of slavery.”

In our NG.AC community, we want to highlight stories of people courageously answering God’s call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.  As you can see from DK’s story, which we will share in two parts, this awakening to the intimate connection between worship and justice is both beautiful and challenging.

__________________

How would you describe the connection between worship and justice in your life? What have been some pivotal moments in shaping your understanding of worship and justice?

Photo by Scott Hodge at The Idea Camp in Irvine, California

I’ve been a worship leader since I was 15 years old, but it wasn’t until recently, in 2007, that I began to feel discontent in the way that I viewed and experienced worship.  So much of our worship can become self-focused and self-indulgent if we forget about the call beyond the mere words of any song. I began to discover the synonymy of worship & justice in a few key passages of Scripture.

Isaiah 58 is a huge one for me: the challenge to consider what true fasting is made me think about what true worship is. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the chords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”

I began to see that my worship was just ritual if I didn’t take it outside of a fifteen-minute set list.  I wanted desperately to do something about this unfolding realization but didn’t know where to start.  All I could do was pray.

[Read more…]

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Presenting Identity:Worship at TG '09

I’ve been working on hammering out these ideas of correlating Asian American identity and worship. And it’s been really comforting to know that I’m not the only one (hope to meet you someday soon, Courtney :)).

I got asked to present some of my thoughts at the TransGeneration (TG) Conference this August and had a great time. The idea of intentionally pushing the art form of worship to help shape identity was helped when I heard Shane Hipps quote Marshall McLuhan at the recent Poets.Prophets.Preachers seminar:

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

And it has become more clear to me that while the identity crisis that we face in the Asian American Christian community seems fairly innocuous now, I believe dire consequences such as the propensity for suicide, depression, alcohol abuse comes from this self-hatred and self-denial (i.e. lack of identity). In other words, it seems silly to make the case that worship (not just musical forms) matter so much, but that’s just the tip of the iceburg. And if we could address it in the one venue that dares to claim that people can truly be themselves and be healed, redeemed, and even saved from their past and to their future, wouldn’t that be good news? In any case, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Here is the audio recording of my presentation and the ensuing conversation and below are my presentation slides. Enjoy.

Audio:

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How intergenerational worship can be creative and inclusive

The Next Gener.Asian Church conversation kicks off with David Park talking about his and Dan Ra‘s experience at the 12th annual Korean Worship & Music Conference.

Listen to this conversation (running time=14:17 min)::

This was the first time that this conference had an English track, and it was fascinating to hear how the Korean-speaking and English-speaking could harmoniously worship with one another and learn from one another.

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"Cry Out": A Worship Experience

A few weeks ago, Dan Ra, Jacob Fu, Ed Sohn and I planned a worship service around the theme of crying out. We first had the chance to lead this service at Agape (Hanin) a local Korean church, but unfortunately it was not recorded. Then Open Table Community Church gave us the opportunity to lead worship in August and we did a similar service there.

The idea behind this was tracing the theme of crying out and shouting throughout the Bible. We felt like in this act, there was a visceral aspect of our worship and interaction with God that is largely missing in today’s worship gatherings. From a Korean heritage, there is the notion of 통성기도 (or prayer in one voice), but even as a Korean American, there is a tendency to avoid this type of worship.

In short, we found 4 aspects of crying out in Scripture:

  1. Crying out, shouting in the presence of God
  2. Crying out of our need
  3. Cry of rebuke
  4. Silence (or the lack of crying out)

In any case, Dan, Jacob, Josh and Margaret Feit really made the musical responses and calls come alive. Dan and Jacob wrote many of the songs themselves, which are simple yet beautiful. Thanks to Agape and Open Table for giving us the chance to give voice to this and for the congregations who were brave enough to go there with us. Enjoy the audio and slides below…

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Coming Back To A Heart Of Worship

Something a close friend, who is a worship leader, and I have been meditating upon and wrestling with is dynamic expression of worship. It is an exploratory exercise that reacts to a certain term I’ve heard my friend Peter Ong use to describe a great deal of worship I see in the church today: “worship karaoke” – where the band plays our favorite songs and we follow the words on the screen.

We have come to question the machine, that is to say, the industry of the Christian contemporary praise/worship distribution that licenses and markets this music to us. I don’t dislike all this wonderful artistry or musicianship, but the solutions that buying a “worship leader’s guide” has created new problems.

Ironically, the song, “Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman is a great example of this. The song was born under the circumstances where his pastor was discouraged when he saw that worship became too performance-oriented, and thus banned the band. “When the music fades/ and all is stripped away…”

Everyone was questioned as to what it was they brought for their offering – the musicians, the songwriters, the congregation. “I’ll bring you more than a song / for a song in itself is not what you have required…”

And in the midst of uncomfortable silences and new creativity, there was this return to worship, an acknowledgment that the music was secondary to the act of worship. “I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it / It’s all about you, Jesus”

When the “Heart of Worship” has been made into a cliche hit for years now, it can often have the opposite effect of the very spirit in which it was written. Familiarity, as has been said, can indeed breed contempt. And in the spirit of confession, I re-wrote the lyrics to that song to reflect how many of us at one time or another have felt during worship. [Read more…]

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