Indelible Grace Church

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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Reflections from Eric in Seminary

Dear IGC,

I wanted to write and share with you guys how I am doing earlier, but I apologize for the delay. It has been surprisingly busy. I am pretty bummed that I was not able to join you guys for the retreat a month ago; Kim told me how much fun you guys had and how it seemed like the church was really growing, both spiritually and numerically. I’m so encouraged to hear the periodic reports about the church!

Well as for my studies, first of all I passed my Summer Greek class (or what others call suicide Greek). It was a pretty intense summer. Even with all the months of working ahead that I did, the class caught up pretty quickly and I was needing to study at least three to five hours a day. This is quite a change of pace from what I was used to in college. But even then, there were other students who were putting in up to six hours a day, on top of the regular class schedule, so I guess I was pretty good by comparison.

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As for seminary, it is challenging. I thought I was pretty well-prepared coming into the school, but I quickly realized how far behind I was. There are so many students who have grown up steeped in the Reformed faith and are very well-read. Many of my classmates are so knowledgeable in their church history and can name many of the Puritans and church fathers and Reformers and heretics. Many of them also use big words like presuppositional apologetics versus evidential apologetics versus classical apologetics. Others talk about the Pactum Salutis, and the difference between echtypal versus archetypal theology. (Even as I’m writing this, I have to look up all these words because I am still so unfamiliar with them.) All this to say that I have been feeling overwhelmed, not only with the gap in knowledge between myself and others, but also at the amount of studying and reading that is required.

To give you just a glimpse, there was a test that I had to study for very intensely. This is the English Bible Exam. It tests our basic understanding of the Bible, and if you do not pass it, you are required to take a bible survey class. One of the professors said that about 75% of those who take it fail. I just took it on Monday, so I’ll hear back soon, but I am very nervous. (If you’re interested in seeing what kinds of questions it had, click here for the study guide.)

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Regardless of all the hard work, I am grateful to be here. There is a temptation to become cynical and to think that these things are unnecessary. There is a temptation to think that all this studying is just the endless musings of academics separated from the world and culture and that what the church really needs is not scholars but pastors. But I’ve been growing increasingly aware of just how false that dichotomy is. After all, zeal without knowledge is what the Jews were guilty of and because of it, they were ignorant of the gospel of Jesus (Rom. 10:2-4). No, instead it is those who have been faithful to studying and laboring diligently in private, who will be able to better serve the church in public. And all this studying, I pray, will help me to faithfully equip the saints (not just spiritually but intellectually) so that they will grow in maturity, no longer being children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and human cunning (Eph. 4:11-14).

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I’m also grateful that this knowledge that we are gaining is not to fuel our pride, but to serve the church. One of the requirements of the professors at Westminster is that they are pastors of local congregations. And because of that, we are constantly reminded that our work here is ultimately to serve the church, the bride of Christ. Whether it be in the prayers that the professors pray before every class, or during the lectures, or chapel messages, we hear the gospel, and the gospel compels us to go proclaim it, both to believers and nonbelievers, for therein are the words of life.

So please, church, pray for me. I feel so weak and inadequate, and I would greatly appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom so that I could study and learn well during this privileged season, so that I am able to boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel.

Eric Jung

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 20:22
 

2012 Summer-in-review

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"Let us not neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" -- Hebrews 10:25. It's been a busy summer here at Indelible Grace Church. Rather than laboriously recount everything, here's a photo review of the past 3 months!

Photo legend:
Top left: church picnic
Top center: "Church at the Park," our annual outdoor worship service
Top right: Mercy Ministry event at Claremont Middle School in Oakland (in partnership with Project Peace)
Middle left: Our retreat speaker, Britton Wood
Center: New members being inducted
Middle right: men's fellowship hike
Bottom left: photo from our summer retreat (theme: 'Getting Real with God')
Bottom center: church babies!
Bottom right: women's fellowship picnic

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 August 2012 11:10
 

Farewell to Eric Jung

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Hi Friends,

I know I got a chance to share some parting words during service a little over a week ago, but Michael graciously gave me the chance to write some more thoughts.

During my first church service back at my home church in LA, I realized how much I valued IGC and how much I will miss it. And while there are lots of things I appreciated about IGC, I’ll just share three thoughts according to IGC’s core values.

(1) We are gospel-driven (UP)
Luther once said that the default mode of the human heart is religion – us trying to do things to reach God. And I see this to be true in my own heart and even in so many churches and ministries that I’ve been a part of. We are tempted to put the focus squarely on us, on what we do rather than on Christ and what he has done. Christianity is about God reaching down to us and sending Christ in his condescending love for us – not primarily about what we do for him.

I love the gospel and my time at IGC has helped me to love the gospel even more. It has taught me that the gospel must drive everything that we do. Any other motive will only create pride or despair. Only love for God produced by God’s love for us can sustain joy even through hardships and toil.

This is by far the most important thing I cherish about IGC. I love how the gospel remains central to everything that we do. My prayer is that we wouldn’t stop now, but that we would continue to keep it central – not in a trite and dull kind of way, where we talk about it in a boring and mundane tone – but in a way that produces fresh zeal, sustains our hopes and joy, moves us to new affections and risky endeavors, and creates a pleasing aroma to God and the people around us.

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(2) We are a new community (IN)
The importance of the local body of believers continues to surprise me. I’m often tempted to do my own thing, and be accountable to no one. And while that may sound pleasing to some, Christianity calls us to something much greater: mutual interdependence.

And while our church has our fair share of problems when it comes to living out the privilege of being part of Christ’s body, I’m grateful that we are in constant conversation about the importance of community. I’m grateful that we aren’t content with where we are at, but want to strive towards loving the social outcasts rather than gossiping about them. That we want to learn how to be open to correction and encouragement, rather than keeping ourselves walled off from the body of Christ. That we want to learn how to mentor and help each other grow, rather than keeping our conversations only worldly and shallow.

I love that about IGC. The centrality of the gospel doesn’t just happen on a pastoral or staff level, but it happens in community. It happens throughout the week in our small groups, in our Facebook postings, and in our conversations on What’s App. My prayer is that we would find it a joy to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph 4:29)

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(3) We are for others (OUT)
This is another aspect of IGC that I love. I love that mercy ministry is at the forefront of what IGC is wanting to accomplish. That church is not merely about ourselves and our own comfort, but that we also exist to be a light and a voice of truth to a world that is blind and confused.

Even in how we talk about mercy ministry, the gospel must be kept at the center. So many churches and ministries talk about loving the poor and marginalized as something we do because God showed mercy on us and now we are obligated to show mercy to others. And while this is true on some level, I love that IGC doesn’t just leave it at that. Instead we say that mercy ministry is gospel reenactment. This means that we show mercy, not only because God showed us mercy, but in order to understand God’s mercy for us more deeply. As we serve and love others at some personal cost, we are shown just how much more God served and loved us and how much more it cost him in order to do so. Mercy ministry is for us as much as it is for others.

This perspective is so freeing because now we don’t have to wait. We don’t have to wait until we have some great emotional experience of God’s love (who knows when that will happen?) before we go and extend his love to others. It is in the act of extending God’s love that we experience his love. And that is my prayer for the church. That the gospel would not just be some theoretical truth that we conceptually agree with, but that we would go and live out its implications and thereby come to believe it more wholly and joyfully.

Thank you for being a church that has taught me so much in these past two years. As I go into seminary and eventually land at a church, these lessons will powerfully shape my own ministry. I only pray that you will continue running the good race for our Lord Jesus Christ!

Eric

Last Updated on Friday, 29 June 2012 20:19
 

Women's Fellowship Hike

Date: Saturday, May 19th
Destination: Inspiration Point in Berkeley
Goal: Fellowship and cardio!
Written by: Annie Chung

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Many of you have witnessed with your own eyes the growing number of women at our church...hooray!  With that said, this hike was a chance to further our friendships with each other under the beautiful, seemingly cloudless sky.  The hike started around 11am, and honestly, a few of us were already asking, "What should we eat for lunch?" about 5 minutes into the hike.  Soon enough, we were taking over the trail, with annoyed cyclists yelling "on your left!" as we trekked away.  There was lots of laughing.  Lots of talking.  More laughing.  At one point, there was even some turkey jerky sharing, for those of us stragglers in the back.  With all that aside, it was meaningful time spent together.  Meaningful because we are all in different life stages, yet finding common ground in seeking what it means to be a woman of God, and embracing this identity.  Hopefully, this is just the beginning of many more hikes to come, as we missed those of you who couldn't make it out this time.

As proof of our hike, we took many awesome pictures - see below:

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P.S. We won't share details about the lunch afterwards, as it seems wrong to make people hungry over a blog post :)

Last Updated on Monday, 28 May 2012 11:23
 

Men's Fellowship Hike

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On Saturday (April 14), the guys hiked up Mission Peak in Fremont. It took two hours to make the ascent. It was a great time of manly bonding and spiritual conversations. We believe the Christian life is not a solo effort, but a community of brothers and sisters committed to one another. This is not just rhetoric, but something we constantly seek to practice and live. May Christ continue to build his church!

Postscript--the nursery has been steadily growing!  Here are all the IGC fathers and kids (photo taken Easter 2012):

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Last Updated on Monday, 16 April 2012 11:29
 


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