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Why should I go to Fall Retreat?

Joseph Kwan

And just like that, it’s that time of the year again. Mid-semester has officially crept up on us. Starbucks is tantalizing our cravings with those pumpkin spiced lattes and Frappuccinos. Most of us have probably thought about redirecting our steps when walking to class in order to step on what only looked like a crunchy leaf (disappointment). We’ve been putting off getting our flu-shots for quite some time now, and for the twentieth time, we’re looking at our calendars wondering why Thanksgiving insists on being an entire month from now…

Exams! Homework! Deadlines?! Stress. Responsibilities. Organizations. Friends! Family. It’s all piling up and the struggle bus is working overtime , which is why you should get off at the next stop and…go to AACM’s annual Fall Retreat! Just imagine: unplugging from everything and finding rest; Fall Retreat is meant to help you do just that.

Whether you’re still exploring who God is, have known Him for a while, or even feel lost or distant from Him, know that God is ready to meet you wherever you are. He wants to lift those burdens off of your shoulders and relieve you of whatever it is keeping you from fully pressing into Him. Take comfort in knowing that true peace of mind and a quiet heart are two very attainable things when we trust in Him! With a peaceful mind comes a more receptive heart to what God is inviting you to. And the best part? You will be exploring what that looks like alongside your AACM family. So,

To my fellow extroverts: Friends! Fun! Fellowship! Finally, a weekend to not only dress up in your best Halloween get-up and go absolutely ham on the dance floor, but also to grow deeper in your relationships with one another and with God. This is your weekend to: Connect with others in new, more profound ways. Have conversations about what you’re learning through His teaching. Encourage one another as you talk out subsequent steps to take in your walks with Christ. Start praying bigger prayers together, asking God to do more in our ministry. Fall Retreat is a way for you to live life and seek God together.

And to my adored introverts: It exists: Actual time for you to breathe, relax, and reflect. Surrounded by the beautiful hill country, you’ll be able to indulge in some much needed alone-time. Now, close your eyes for just a second. Hopefully, this allowed your imagination to give you a glimpse of just how sweet a hiatus from all of life’s chaos truly is. You’ll have opportunities to reflect on how God has been present and moving in this past week…month…year. This is your weekend to: experience greater intimacy with God and allow Him to fill you up. To spend some time in solitude. To ask God to reveal things to you about your own heart that you never knew before. To absorb. To recharge.

For me, Fall Retreat is where I find myself on my knees again, asking God to redirect my wandering mind and heart toward Him. It’s where I learn more about what AACM is discussing and striving toward as a community. It’s where I am reminded that no matter how lost I feel in the midst of this life, God’s hold on me is and always will be steadfast. With that, I encourage everyone to consider giving themselves a well-deserved break to dive into scripture and soak in all that He is revealing to us as a community. If you’re on the fence, I encourage you to take a chance and say “yes”. Fall Retreat is awaiting you, to curb your hunger to know more about our God, the Bible, who Jesus is, community, and faith.

-Caroline Yeh

So if you are on the fence, I would invite you to consider to join us. It will be worth it.

Purpose of Schoolwork

Joseph Kwan

Last year, a friend asked me “Do you think that you glorify God in everything that you do, particularly in school?” The question caught me off guard mainly because in some ways it was out of the blue. At the time, we were studying and talking when all of a sudden our conversation veered away from doing schoolwork to the purpose of schoolwork in the first place. I had quite a bit of difficulty answering this question, especially after thinking about education from a societal point of view for all my life. Particularly within Asian American culture, a heavy emphasis is placed upon the value of education and putting it paramount to nearly everything else. While the value of education is indeed important, ultimately I realized that I must first look at why I’m in school in the first place to better understand my purpose as a student.

Many people will say that education is a gateway to opportunity in the world. Others will say that it is critical to survival. Still others will choose to say that education is the very fabric civilization as we know it. While all these statements may be true to some extent, none of them fully grasp why we as students should care about God in our studies. After discussing this issue with many people, I believe that God has really opened my heart to understanding how education should be placed in my life.

Here are two things I realized:

  1. It’s all about who you serve. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).”
    • In the same way that God’s first commandment from the Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)”, we are serve the Lord Christ first with no other thing/person coming before Him.
    • I realized that when my drive in college to exceed in my classes is just for a 4.0 GPA, I take a step back and really evaluate why I want to have that perfect GPA. Is getting a perfect GPA because I are truly serving God or am I serving myself and trying to advance my own success? I have found that after being caught up with schoolwork every day, the difficulty of just taking a step back and really acknowledging who I am doing this for is perhaps the hardest thing to understand for myself.
    • The Bible specifically outlines why we should work hard for the Lord because of the eternal inheritance we will receive as a reward: “…an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4).”
  2. We need to use our blessings. “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 5:16).”
    • We are blessed with the gifts that we have been given from God. No matter what major you are or what your GPA is, you have been blessed to be in college at one of the best universities in the world/nation/state, which is a huge blessing in and of itself. Since we are considered to be the light of this Earth, let our lights shine through the things that we do. What better way to show others that light than through our work as students!
    • In the end, let our good work be a means to give God all the glory. These good works means that despite if you pass or fail, the grade you got is a blessing from God and all the more glory to Him. Let us focus on working hard and trust that God has, can and will provide for us. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3).” Let us place our faith in something that goes beyond this Earth and in something eternal. Could we be faithful on our end just as God has been always faithful on His?

College is not just a way for us to get a job: Our time in college is a blessing from God to serve Him to the best of your abilities. So maybe serving God in school means that we should not skip class and be on time. Maybe we should study hard. Maybe we should be the students that others admire for their work ethic. I am still growing in all these areas but will you join me, brothers and sisters, to dedicate your life to God? Not just during church or small group or large group or camp retreats, but in every aspect of your life including school.

Why Should I Learn?

Joseph Kwan

Now that the first round of exams have passed, let’s take a breath and congratulate ourselves on making it through a third of the semester! If you are feeling lackluster and exhausted, take some time to rest, but don’t be discouraged. It’s our nature to question the value of all that we invest into school, and perhaps wonder why we go through all the trouble to learn.

If you are a freshman, you may be discovering the value of Christian community and the unique gift of college ministry. It may also be an overwhelming transition to the busyness of college life, meeting new people and making all sorts of new decisions on top of schoolwork. If you are an upperclassman, things may be going your way as a result of discipline, good habits, and self-discovery throughout college- you are a lucky one. Others may be starting on this path, but finding it hard to see the gain of their actions. There is also always the temptation to put school on hold and passively finish out your remaining time here. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, I’d like to write a reminder of our current position as students.

As followers of Christ, we are not of the world, but have been temporarily placed here with access to resources to make our time on earth worthwhile. Paul writes:

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.“(Phil. 3:14).

What a glowing picture of obedience and pressing on towards the goal of heaven! With eyes fixed on the prize of Jesus, we are renewed with strength to learn and achieve great things for Him during our time on earth. Though Paul turns his eyes heavenward, he continues his journey on the earth, living his daily life governed by the laws of the world.

As salt and light of the world, we serve a specific purpose in the world. Jesus reminds us:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16)

Our functionality as salt and light comes from unique learning experiences that grow us into people who preserve the goodness in the world and influence the world for the better, so that God is ultimately glorified. Here are two points to consider when examining the importance of our learning in relation to glorifying Him.

1) God desires to bless our work in making a living to support our families and ourselves. We become better equipped to do so after investing our time and effort into learning.

The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers “ (Deut. 30:9)

2) We are given the privilege and authority to spread the gospel and kingdom of God. In order to bear the testimony of Jesus, we need to be trustworthy, respectable servants. We are young people blessed with an access to education, and much of our credibility can be built up through learning and discipline in school.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)

Because our obedience and utility as Christians is carried out within the scope of the world’s expectations, our intention is to become well-equipped followers in the context of our society, ready to offer our best fruits that were cultivated in college. This applies directly to missions, whether in the workplace or among unreached people groups: it is God’s ultimate plan to put our skills to use. If it’s hard for you to find purpose and drive for learning in college, try visualizing the person you want to be upon graduation.

  • Set goals based on this picture
  • Ask the Lord to mold you into the workmanship he desires
  • Build yourself through community, church, and relationships
  • Remember that the result of your college career says so much more about you than your condition at the start of college

Our time here passes by so quickly as a brief transition period for us to ease into adult life without the full load of worries and realities in the working world. This is the time where we make critical choices and prepare ourselves to live out the consequences of our decisions. Our fullest learning comes out of a balance between academic pursuits, and discovered passions, talents, disciplines, and values. We have great flexibility to examine these things as young adults in college, because the one thing many of us hope to discover here is what God desires to do through our lives.

I hope this has been an encouragement to the reader as you continue on the journey towards the prize in Christ Jesus. Above all, use these four years as a time to build up and refine your talents and spiritual gifts to be readily used as developed men and women of God.

-Joell Chen

I’m not trying to survive but strive!

Joseph Kwan

Before I start talking about striving, I wanted to make a couple things clear for you. I’m a second year here at UT. By no means will I claim that I know everything nor am I an expert at any of this. Heck, sometimes I still feel like a freshman here. I don’t think I can tell you exactly how to strive, but I’ll share my personal thoughts and experience with you.

Coming into college, everyone has some sort of expectation to meet some goal: it could be to finally hit the gym, to make new friends, to get the 4.0 and a secure job or into med school, and the list goes on. One thing that I learned my freshman year about striving is that your first year reveals what you’re striving for. Your parents aren’t here anymore to tell you what to do or make sure you finish your homework or even eat three meals a day. This lack of external direction means that in college, you become responsible for everything you do. There is some sort of purpose that you do each and everything you do. The way you spend your time, money and efforts reveals where your heart is (Matthew 6:21).

Generally speaking, many of those things we strive for as humans have tangible results: a better looking body, more friends, or a 4.0. If you desire a better looking body, you will spend your time at the gym, sometimes at the expense of studying. If you desire more friends, you will spend your time with people, getting to know them and sharing memories. If your desire is the 4.0, you will spend a lot of time studying, sacrificing sleep and other events. I’m not deeming any of these desires as wrong, nor am I saying these are all encompassing of all things first year college students deal with, but these are just some of the realities of college life.

As I said before, these desires are for something better. These desires aren’t bad things. These desires are fueled by a void. In each and every one of our hearts, we desire something perfect that nothing on this earth can fulfill. The truth is our hearts desire a perfect relationship with our Creator. This once perfect relationship, when everything was “good” (Genesis 1), was torn when man sinned and turned away from God (Genesis 3). After this moment, man has been in a perpetual state of striving for some of the goals discussed above that don’t actually satisfy. That’s why you, when at the gym, are never satisfied with the way you look. There’s always a higher threshold to attain or a look to put on. That’s why you, when you have a bunch of friends, always want more or the approval of more friends. That’s why you, in school, even at the point of having a 4.0 feel that something is lacking.

Thankfully, we have do have something better to strive towards that can fulfill our void. This something is Jesus. He gives us the worth that we desire in our image, in our relationships, in our desires for approval, in our academic endeavors, and much, much more. This is the greatest news (i.e. the Gospel) that anyone can hear, and thankfully, it’s offered for free to you and to me (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10)! This is a relationship worth striving for and investing your time in! There are many different ways that you can strive for this relationship, specifically in AACM. So invest your time with your small group, learn and enjoy large group, ask someone who has done more life to mentor you, be trained as that you can teach others, and invest in a church.

Personally, I came into college expecting it to be a huge time of personal growth and a time for me to make lasting friendships with people at school since after all, we all practically live together. My heart desired friendships and relationships. This feeling may have also been fueled because I came into college with very few friends in my grade. Many of my closer friends were younger than me, and so they didn’t come to college when I did. For me, I tried my best to build these friendships through joining a small group in AACM. I personally spent a lot of time with my small group guys: I studied with them, ate with them, prayed with them; basically, I lived life with them. At the end of the year, I got close to each and every one of them, through gospel centered community. This gospel centered community means that each of these relationships was built upon the purpose of growing as family in Christ. Thus I was further satisfied by my experience because we mutually sought after a relationship with God through small group.

Like striving for any other goal, striving for this goal of Christ-centered relationships was not easy, nor will it ever be. The first couple weeks of trying to meet up with guys and start to get to know them on a deeper level was difficult. At the end of the day, however, I believe it was more than worth it. Striving for this relationship through small group has definitely grown my personal relationship with God, not just my friendships with my small group guys. This fulfillment may not have quantifiable results by means of numbers, but I know that each and every one of the guys from my small group cares about all the others because of the love that Jesus has for each of us. This love means that we struggle together when things aren’t going our way, like when school discourages us or when relationships get hard. This love means we celebrate the joys and blessings of life together, like when we accomplish goals or hear good news. This love means we work and strive toward the common goal of growth in our relationship with Christ together. For me, this has been one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever encountered. However, it is even more important that you put your own time and efforts into developing this relationship by reading the Bible, praying, and spending time with God on your own.

This experience is what striving my first year in college looked like. I do want to encourage you to partake in this relationship. Don’t take my word for it, but take Jesus’, “I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10) and the Lord’s truth in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of the heart.” This road is hard, but Jesus is worth it.

-Andrew Yeang

This is Supposed to Be About Discipleship.

Joseph Kwan

The title is there because I’m not sure how you’re supposed to write a post about discipleship. What is discipleship? The word isn’t used in the Bible- or at least it’s not when I search for it in my Bible app. But I do know it’s important because Jesus had disciples! And if we are calling ourselves “followers of Jesus,” I suppose we should too, right?

There is no explicit definition in the Bible, but from seeing how Jesus lived his life on earth, I think his hope for his disciples was for them to love the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their might. Jesus says that this is the first and greatest commandment. He wanted these words to be on the hearts of his disciples and to be their thoughts when they sat and walked and lied down and rose.

A common response- or at least my common response to that was how am I supposed to help people love God, especially when it’s hard for me. And if I had spent time asking Jesus about it, he probably would have told me to relax. Because he tells us that, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

We have faith in a God, who is always faithful. He is the one drawing people to him. He is the one opening hearts to see him. At this moment, I trust that he is drawing us to him. I trust that by his grace, he is pursuing us for all our heart, all our soul, and all our might.

He is relentlessly pursuing us, but that doesn’t mean he forces us to do anything. As a good Father, he gives us a choice whether to obey him or not. Jesus says that, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Loving him leads us to obey him, and obeying him leads us to love him. He wants us to obey him because he wants us to love him.

So when Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that he commands,” his disciples probably weren’t surprise because they had seen all along how Jesus loved the Father. In his love, Jesus was obedient to the Father in all that he did. He was obedient even to the point of death on the cross.

I think this is what discipleship is- to love our Father with our whole being, to think about loving our Father with our whole being, and to teach others to do the same- all the while knowing that our Father is drawing and teaching people. Discipleship is not knowledge-based; it’s obedience-based as Jesus draws us.

Everyday, every moment, Jesus is “disciple-ing” you. He is teaching you things about himself, yourself, others, and the world. The more you get to know him, the more you’ll realize that loving him doesn’t just involve your emotions. It’s not easy, and it may not seem enjoyable at times. But Jesus is worth it.

Let’s embrace him and pursue him. Let’s run hard to love him and run hard to teach others to love him.

And when it gets hard, “be still and know that he is God. He will be exalted in the nations; he will be exalted in the earth.” 

-Xin

So Really, Why Am I in a Small Group?

Joseph Kwan

As small groups are launching off these couple of weeks, I just wanted to share with you all a little bit of how small groups have changed my life. This is my 4th year being a part of AACM and I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of 3 different small groups as a member and as a leader. Although they weren’t perfect in modeling the ministry of Jesus, I learned a lot living life with the guys that were in these small groups. But the question remains, what should small group mean to me?

Small group is the backbone of our ministry, or any ministry for that matter. It was the cornerstone of Jesus’s ministry too! In His time, Jesus reached out to throngs of people yet he chose to live most of His life with the 12 disciples. He could have used the mass to bring the good news all over the world but He stuck with the 12. And even from the 12, there was a smaller and more intimate group – Peter, James, and John. You see, the institution of small groups provides an environment where the people in a ministry as large as ours can feel more like a family. As members begin to see each other as more than just friends, but as brothers and sisters, AACM is transformed from being just a place to go to being a family where we get to Worship Christ together, and live into Community together, and be on Mission together (WCM).

Many will say that they feel a sense of belonging and identity in their small groups. Many will also say that they feel cared for by their leader and other members in their small groups. However, it is quite rare to hear members say that they were truly held accountable for their actions by others in their small groups. Even I, as a leader last year, did not really encourage this idea of accountability amongst the guys in my group. We were consistent in meeting up together to dive into scripture, but we were never really pushed or challenged because accountability was not practiced. For those who are small group leaders, I charge you to conduct your small groups in a manner that promotes accountability. And those who opted into joining a small group, expect to be pushed and challenged this upcoming year.

But I do want to remind you all that a small group is not an individual’s ministry. In fact, the members of a small group are not even necessarily the leader’s responsibility. It is not Seebok’s ministry or Jon’s ministry or even AACM’s ministry. As we are first and foremost children of God, we must remember that this is the Lord’s ministry! After all, we cannot, in our own power, bring people to Jesus; it is only God, the Lord of the harvest, who brings people to Him! The greatest thing that a small group leader may do may not be marked by the wise words he or she says. But, it is that he sets his sight on the Lord and leans on Him for his joy and strength; thus, by his actions, he points people back to the person of Christ through love, grace, and truth. A small group dynamic should not necessarily be a hierarchy of a leader and his or her own members. It is, on the contrary, a body of people who journey together and discover what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus – to hear and respond in obedience to His Word.

As a small group, together we get to encourage other on towards cultivating a genuine love for God. When there is space for authenticity and transparency in realizing our brokenness, God’s love and grace will cover us through and through. And as you grow in your love for God, you will begin to challenge each other to surrender bits and pieces of your life to Christ. You do this not out of an obligation or a duty that you owe to Him, but out of a natural response of love and worship for Him. And as you discover more and more of what it means to respond to Jesus, your heart will overflow with a joy that is unrivaled by any other feeling known to mankind. And thus, leaving you in a place where it is natural for you to desire to embody the person of Christ at all times and in all situations.

So if you feel like you can’t lead someone in your small group because they are more mature than you (I struggle with this too!), I want to encourage you with this. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” -1st Timothy 4:12

Or if you feel like someone should join your small group because you can help him/her, I humbly ask that you question your motives.
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” -Jeremiah 9:23-24,

Or maybe you feel like you can’t join a small group where the leader is younger than you. Then, I humbly ask that you reconsider.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” -1st Corinthians 1:26-31

Will you dream BIG with me for a second? Can you imagine what it would look if your small group was modeled after the ministry of Jesus. What would it look like if your small group not only created an environment for belonging and a space for caring but also a charge for accountability? What would it look like if your small group journeyed together in discovering and becoming true disciples of Jesus ChristIf you’re on the fence about joining a small group, I humbly encourage you to join! What’s holding you back from taking a leap of faith?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24

seebs

Why I Care About NSO (& Why You Should, Too)!

Joseph Kwan

During 2013 Fall NSO (New Student Outreach), I showed up to Game Night early to help “set up”. Within a half hour, the room was flooded with new faces and tall people towering over me. You think the freshmen and transfers were the only ones intimidated by the tsunami of Asians? Try seeing it from my (short) point of view. Game Night my freshman year was about a third of the size and not nearly so loud. During that one chaotic week of NSO though, we hit a record of making over 400 hundred contacts! Out of my small group of ten girls, I met 6 of them from playing a game of taboo. By the end of this school year, our Chapter grew to 40 Small Groups and 287 members!

This is not simply the fruits from our NSO efforts though. This is God answering our prayers and moving powerfully across campus and within our ministry. His children are learning what it means to be a light in this world, and we as a family have learned to step into our roles as sons and daughters of Christ. Can you imagine what craziness would happen if we unite and move in full-force?

THE VISION

This year we want to make 600 contacts during those 5 days of NSO! (We made 94 contacts just from summer orientation!) A huge number is cool and all, but we want to help each and every single one of those 600 students get connected to AACM and ultimately, to Jesus.

Have you seen one of the awkward kids that seemed completely lost in a crowd of people? Maybe you’ve been one of them. (I was one ><). You can guide someone into the arms of Jesus by simply being their friend! This does not mean our chapter will grow by 600 people, but we’re praying that at least ONE of each of your newbies (aka 120 newbiews) will join our family and commit their lives to Christ. If you think hard enough, SOMEONE helped connect you to Christ. Maybe your parents forced you to go to church since you were popped out, maybe a friend invited you to camp, or maybe you stumbled upon a small group or community of PEOPLE, God used SOMEONE. We want to invite you to be that SOMEONE to someone else!

THE DEETS

  • Through NSO initiatives, meet and care for 5 newbies (OR MORE). Simply love on them and get to know them.
  • Commit to: Freshman 15 Feast (Wed.), P Terry’s (Fri.), and one other event (see form).
  • Don’t have any idea what you’re doing??? No worries! Sunday August 24th is our (mandatory) training sesh to make sure you are in the loop and have all the details!

It has always been my dream to make a significant impact in the world. I strongly believe that God wants that for us too, and he’s literally beckoning us to help him turn this world upside down. Can you imagine a world where everyone genuinely loves and serves each other? A world where thousands upon thousands worship and praise God in one united voice? It’s happening! Slowly but surely, God is taking back his kingdom. He wants you to be part of this movement! Will you say yes? Fight for Five!

If you haven’t signed up yet! DOOOOO IT!!! Fill out this form! We can’t make you commit, but if you had fun at NSO last year, it’ll be a blast this year! A lot of your friends have committed to FFF already so join the event . If you’re confused, look here for more details or Contact me, or ask around if you have any questions! God is going to do great things at UT this year. I can feel it :]

Hangloose \mn/

Lisa Zhang and Core Team

P.S. Don’t have time? It’s the first week of school! And let’s be real, many people don’t even bother showing up for their 8ams. If you believe that EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW GOD, then do something to make it happen! If this is something you want to do, you will find a way.

P.P.S. Not a small group leader? Just because you do not have a formal leadership position does not mean you are not an important part of this family. We are all called to go out and make disciples. We, includes you!

From Anonymous: Why AACM Leadership?

Joseph Kwan

Hello Everybody!

My name is ______________, and I am currently a small group leader here at AACM. I decided to write this post because I want to encourage you all to seriously consider applying for leadership for the upcoming year. I believe that God wants to do BIG things through our lives for His name and glory. I understand that you may have a lot of legitimate concerns about leading (don’t know how, not “mature” in your faith enough, not enough time, etc.), but I want to point out a few things to encourage you:

God does not call us to be perfect.

A common misconception about leadership is that you have to have everything together in order to serve.  But the truth is God calls each of us to serve Him, no matter where we are in our walk. Remember when Jesus called his disciples? Jesus called Simon and Andrew as they were “casting a net into the lake” (Mark 1:16). He called Levi to follow Him while Levi was still “sitting at the tax collector’s booth” (Mark 2:14). These men were not perfect. In fact, according to the standards and culture of that time, society considered these men ordinary – and in the case of Levi, an outcast and sinner!

Like Simon, Andrew, and Levi, we are broken people. Apart from the saving love of Christ, we are considered to be sinners. As you’ve been redeemed by the Gospel, I believe the Lord is calling you to take a step of faith to follow Him by serving. As you continue to seek Him in servant leadership, He will be faithful to renew your heart and mind to become more like the image of Christ. I have personally witnessed this in my own life, and I hope this encourages you to experience the power of God’s saving grace in new ways.

 Obedience > Knowledge

We all have heard of the Great Commission in Matthew 28. I want to stress the importance of the words, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. Sometimes, we can get caught up in teaching knowledge. However, Jesus commands us to teach obedience! What good is knowledge if we do not even obey? If you sense God calling you into leadership, don’t let your hesitations or worries hold you back!

Examine 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, and see how the Lord chose the ordinary rather than the outstanding so that “no one may boast before Him” (v. 29). Likewise, as you lead, you will soon discover that even if you do lack knowledge, it is ultimately only in and through God that anything happens. I do not want to downplay the importance of knowledge and wisdom. We see how the Bible speaks of the significance of knowledge and wisdom (to name a few: Proverbs 15:14, Proverbs16:16, Proverbs 23:23). However, knowledge is meaningless apart from obediently following Jesus.

Joy

Lastly, I encourage you  to serve for your own joy! Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” I’m not saying that there will be an absence of trials, disappointments, or frustrations. Anyone in leadership will tell you the opposite. However, in times of utter weakness, Christ is made strong. There is a great, inexpressible joy in finding intimacy with God, and I believe that as you seek Him and challenge your own faith through leadership, God will cultivate even greater joy in you!

There is a lot more that I wish I could say, but I’ll close with these last thoughts. There is soooo much that God desires to do in and through you, and AACM leadership is a great place to explore your calling and giftings. My hope is that each one of you prayerfully considers what it might look like to take a step of faith and obedience as we pursue His vision to see the Asian American communities at UT transformed. Let’s see what the Lord has in store for us! 

In Him,

__________________

Behind the Scenes

Joseph Kwan

There’s always something going on behind the scenes. But sometimes, you can’t see it because you don’t know what you’re looking for. These are the words that resonated with me as I left Maze, a magic show unlike any other, where the magician used the stage as a platform to share his testimony. Since then, I have noticed some all too convenient coincidences in my own life.

I have a high school teacher, whom I greatly admire. He taught me geometry during my freshman year, and to this day he continues to be a great friend and mentor in my life. When I was a senior in high school, I was unsure of just about everything: where I would go for college, my future career plans, and even my faith. I went to thank this teacher for writing me a letter of recommendation, but unexpectedly, I left with John 15:16 written on a yellow post-it note. We had never talked about our faith prior to this moment, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.

Fast forward to last year, on a Sunday service. My church showed a snapshot story about a teacher and coach who reached out to his students. It reminded me so much of my teacher that I felt compelled to update him on how I was doing – how college radically changed my spiritual life and how that verse he shared impacted me. In reply, he told me that he had started a fellowship group back at my old high school and two students had came to Christ through it.

Just a few weeks ago, he told me he was in town and planned to take his son to the UT basketball game. What’s crazy is that I had already made plans to be at that very game even though I would have normally never gone to one. It was truly a huge blessing to witness God bringing us to the same place at the same time after so many years, so that we could continue to be an encouragement to each other. God is always working in the background, and He invites us to pay attention to Him and not just our circumstances.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

John 15:16

I want to share another instance with you. A month ago, I was with my friend when we walked into the parking lot and stared at the empty spot where we had parked. After much distress, we realized that my friend’s car was towed. After making some calls, he told me it would cost $200 to get his car back within the next day, but the price would continue to go up after that. He could not get to that much money within the allotted time, but I had a red envelope, a “hong bao,” with exactly $200 in my wallet. I had received this gift from my aunt for Chinese New Years a few days ago. Normally, I would not keep that much cash in my wallet, but for some reason I did. I could have deposited the money. I could have spent it. I could have done anything with it, but I kept it in my wallet.

In that moment, I knew God was teaching me this: I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and He has placed me here for a purpose, His purpose. It’s easy to say with our tongues that God has a perfect plan, but much harder to believe with our hearts. But praise God that He doesn’t leave us in a vacuum – He’s involved with our lives! When we start to look for Him in our lives, no matter how big or how small, we begin to see our surroundings with much more clarity.

To catch a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes, pay attention God’s activity in your life, and see what He might be up to.