Pastor's Ponderings

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    Bay area basketball fans are having a great time right now. The Golden State Warriors are the current winningest team of this season. As I write they just secured their 40th win, with only four losses. And in the middle of it all is reigning MVP Stephen Curry. He’s a

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    More Than a Nametag

    I was reading an article in Bible Study Magazine about Ara Badalian, a pastor currently serving in Baghdad. He grew up in a Christian home. His grandfather was an ethnic Armenian who had found safety in Baghdad from Turkish persecution after World War I. The following description of his growing

  • Grace Upon Grace

    It’s hard to ignore. It’s all over the news and social media. The biggest public mistake of the season: Steve Harvey’s erroneous announcement of the winner in the just concluded Miss Universe beauty pageant. No one wants to be in Mr. Harvey’s shoes right now. To his credit, he owned

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    Why Christmas?

    There are many followers of Jesus who object to the whole idea of the Christmas festival. Some are wary of the beginnings of this celebration, which probably started as a correcting alternative to a pagan feast. The apprehension has to do with the danger of the non-Christian elements swallowing up

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    Living in the Future

    “Meet the Futurists.” Perhaps it is a rather obscure online CNN article. But I found its topic interesting when I chanced upon it. It’s about a group of people, or maybe a “kind of social movement,” described as those who “live in the future.” Here’s a basic explanation: “Futurists say


    Big Deal

    In a recent piece, sportswriter Mark Purdy is quite unimpressed by the Warriors’ recent historic 16-0 achievement. It appears the whole article is about sticking a pin to the celebratory balloon. His opening words: “Congratulations to the Warriors for going 16-0 out of the gate. Let me express my overriding

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    No Spectating, Please

    “Christianity has become too much of a spectator sport. Like football, it’s 22 players on the field desperately in need of rest, being watched by thousands who are in need of exercise” (Dennis Rainey). This quotation comes from a book published in 2007. The idea of “spectator Christianity” is not

  • A Cohesive System

    We praise God for the recent rains. And for the forecast of more rains coming. Yet California’s water crisis is far from being solved. It has been estimated that it will take something like thirteen seasons of significant wet weather before California can fully recover from the current drought. A

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    I Believe in God

    I just read a recent report by the Pew Research Center concerning America’s religious landscape. It appears that general belief in a supreme being has been declining in the nation. For example, to the question: “Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?” an affirmative answer decreased from 92%

  • It’s What You Do

    Grace and I had our very first experience on a cruise ship. Much of what we’d been told is generally true—the fun activities, the interesting places, and the food … lots of food. And many who share their experiences tend to focus on these high points. But that’s not what

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    The Challenge of Error

    “Thou shalt commit adultery.” That’s exactly what many in England read from their Bible in 1631. This was a typographical error found in a batch of King James Version Bibles printed by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas. Somehow the printers failed to notice that the word “not” was omitted from

  • God Rules

    Just follow the rules. For many, that’s the way to approach moral-ethical living. It’s all about getting to know the rules and regulations, and then putting them into practice. Many have a biblical or Christian inclination to accomplishing this task—for example, singling out the Ten Commandments as their “rule of

  • The Way We Are

    “Don’t go changing … I love you just the way you are.” So goes the popular love song by Billy Joel. It is a picture of unconditional love. It is the highest form of love to keep on loving someone whatever his or her characteristics or circumstances may be. True

  • Virtual Divinity?

    Christians believe in certain attributes that belong exclusively and uniquely to God. For example: Omnipotence (all-powerful) refers to God’s unlimited and matchless power and authority. There is no other power that is above him. Omnipresence (all-present) means that God is present everywhere. There is no place where he is not.

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    Trusted By God

    Christianity is all about faith. It is about trusting the Lord. It is by putting our trust in Christ that we come to receive the benefits of God’s salvation (John 3.16; Ephesians 2.8-9). It is also by putting our trust in Christ that we are empowered to continue living in

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    Christ, the Central Focus

    I was reading Jim Belcher’s Deep Church, and came across a section that describes what he calls a “centered-set church.” In light of Vallejo International’s vision to “make Christ the central focus in people’s lives,” Belcher’s discussion resonated with me. Here I would like to pass on some of his

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    Life on Automatic Mode

    A couple of months ago, I pulled out my old SLR camera, a Nikon FE2, which I had purchased many years ago. It was a good camera. And it has served me well. But when I took out the camera from a long stay in storage, I made a discouraging

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    As I write, the plane my sister-in-law Che and her husband Sarsi are on is just about to land in Honolulu, Hawaii. The day started quite early. And it was very evident that they were extremely excited and delighted to make this trip. In fact, they had been thinking about

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    A Legacy of Character

    The Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines was in the center of the nation’s news the past couple of weeks. An exposé alerted the public to the BOC’s random inspection of balikbayan boxes without the proper representation of the recipients. (“Balikbayan boxes” are packages of personal effects and/or gift

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    Beyond Whatever

    “Whatever!” The use of this word as an informal assertion expresses “a reluctance to discuss something, implying indifference, skepticism, or exasperation.” Oftentimes it is dismissive of an issue or topic that one is confronted with. It signals the attitude that refuses to be bothered with any further discussion or prodding.

  • Get Off the Shelf

    On the wall at the end of our breakfast table at home, there is a shelf of bottles containing different spices—30 in all. These bottles look exactly alike, except for the labels printed on each of them that identify the spice each contains. The shelf and the bottles together make

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    Springs of Living Water

    We drove to Vancouver for our mission trip last month. We knew that along I-5 we would be passing Shasta Lake. It was one of our favorite sights whenever we would go that way. But this time, when Shasta Lake came into view, our hearts sank. It was a depressing

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    Appropriate Prayer?

    Redwood City recently suspended all prayers at its city council meetings. This was in response to the complaints against a prayer of invocation that, among other things, expressed disagreement with the SCOTUS decisions concerning same-sex marriage, abortion, and other issues. Some objected that the prayer did not make them “feel

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    The Scripture Universe

    You may have noticed a recent trend in filmmaking. A number of movies and TV shows over the past few years have formed “an interconnected narrative web of stories.” In particular, these are films that feature the Marvel superheroes. To refer to this web of stories, someone coined the phrase

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    The Last Word

    Bible publishers Thomas Nelson and Zondervan have become the target of a $70 million lawsuit. The plaintiff claims “that [the publishers’] version of the Bible that refers to homosexuality as a sin violates his constitutional rights and has caused him emotional distress.” Full disclosure: I believe that the Bible is

  • Exhaust System

    Oh, the challenges of home ownership! Last week I noticed that the airflow of our clothes dryer exhaust vent was rather weak. Sometime ago I had read about lint buildup in dryer exhaust ducts and the fire hazard such buildups present. So I tried to clean out the ducts, and

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    Celebrate Freedom

    July 4th is the day when America celebrates its freedom. It’s all about “independence”—being “free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.” For a nation such as the United States, it’s about the freedom to govern itself without foreign interference. This is a good thing, something worth celebrating. Yet,

  • Dwell In Christ

    Driving home after dropping off Grace at her workplace, I switched on the car radio and heard the following declaration in song by Matthew West:   I am no longer defined by all the wreckage behind. The one who makes all things new has proven it’s true … Hello, my

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    About Jesus

    The Purpose God created us to have a loving relationship with him. This is a relationship where God is properly acknowledged as the sole authority in life. This is a relationship where God’s will, purpose, and values are acknowledged and lived out. And God promises his blessing to those who