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Friday, June 3, 2022

Life at Gateway Seminary In-Person

 


I first enrolled at Gateway Seminary as an online student while teaching English in South Korea in August 2019. I remember my first week and studying so hard for my Old Testament Introduction 1 class and I got 6/10 on my first quiz. I was so upset about it and kept telling my wife that if I couldn't handle it, I might have to drop out of seminary. I talked about it for two days resulting in an argument with my wife. Week 2 turned out much better and from then on I have gotten the hang of studying at seminary and enjoying it. Up until now, I have had a 3.61 GPA. Thank you, Lord, for your mercies and for helping me persevere!

When my wife and I arrived in California on December 20, 2020, I kept studying online and it was fine for the time being until I took Hebrew 1 in Fall 2021. During the first week, it was so overwhelming and I had no idea how to handle that class online since the homework was about learning all of the vowels and consonants during the first week! My wife thought that I had better take Hebrew in person, so then we decided to look into student housing. I dropped the online Hebrew class and did well in my other two classes for that semester. 


We moved into student housing from my dad's home on December 19, 2021 (almost exactly a year later), I enrolled in Spring 2022 classes in person. Wow! What a difference it makes to take classes in person compared to online. It's just a much more enjoyable experience. I can interact with the professor and hear other students engage with the professor, ask questions during the lectures, go to the library, and even get coffee or snacks on campus. It's 10 times better being at school in person rather than learning online. 

Side note: Just imagine all of those poor kids having to go to school on Zoom rather than in-person and imagine the horrors that the teacher had to engage with 25 students on Zoom. I applaud those teachers that endured through it and pray that we never have to ask kids to take classes on Zoom again. 

To make a long story short, I have loved being on campus at Gateway Seminary. My wife and I have a nice apartment (Just $920/month for now until it goes up a bit in August) just big enough for us and the apartment is only 3 miles away from school. We're in an area with many choices of restaurants and I'm a caregiver of a patient that is only 4.7 miles away. I'm very thankful that the Lord has put us together in a good spot. The only negative is that our church is still in Santa Paula (2 hours away). I really don't know how that's going to work out once I start doing more church-related work next year for my practicum course. But Jesus is looking out for us and I'm certain that it will all come together somehow. 

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)

Twitter: scottworden76

Instagram: l.a.seoulguy




Friday, April 29, 2022

Jesus is Seeking You Even If You Fell Away From Him (Luke 15:1-7)

 

Photo Courtesy: Romo Aloysius Budi Purnomo Pr (http://www.sesawi.net)


Sermon: April 28, 2022 

 

Story: I remember as a kid playing with my little Hot Wheels cars. I played with about 10 or 20 cars at a time. And on occasion, one would roll under the couch or get lost. And what did I do? I got upset and I did whatever I could to find that car even though I still had a whole collection of Hot Wheels cars. And if I lost it completely at the beach or at the park, my mom might say, “Son, we can get you another one just like it.” But I would say to her, “But it’s not the same. That car was special to me.”

 

Well, this is very similar in the way that Jesus views us. He cares about us so much and is very concerned if one of us is far away from him or needs restoration with Him.

 

(Read text)

 

Text:

 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

 

There are three principles we can take today that show how Jesus is concerned deeply for believers that have fallen away from him.

 

 

#1. You are God’s prized possession.

 

In Luke 15 verse 3, Jesus begins the parable, and He understands his audience. The house owner, who in that agrarian society would also be a farmer and owner of animals, is asked to compare himself or herself to a shepherd who has lost an animal. 

 

Sheep are always important to a shepherd, but when one is lost, its value is intensified. Money is always important to a person on a fixed income, but when a significant portion is lost, it is sorely missed.

 

Jesus says that in the parable, the farmer leaves the 99 sheep and put all of his attention into finding that one lost sheep. He didn’t say, “Oh it’s just one sheep. I still have enough. I have 99 left.” If you had 10 children and one of them was lost, wouldn’t you seek after that one child until he/she is found. Absolutely! That’s how God feels about us.

 

Story: I remember being lost at a swap meet one time when I was a child. I was panicking, crying, and had no idea where my mom was. I felt so helpless and was scared. But just imagine how my mom felt! The people at the swap meet called out on a loudspeaker and the whole place could hear the message. They said there was a lost child looking for his mom. I remember my mom coming over quickly, squeezing me so tight, and being so thankful to the people that worked there. She valued me so much. Just imagine how much Jesus values you!

 

What’s another way to know that Jesus is concerned for you if you fall away from him? #2 If just one of the people that he himself created strays away from him, he will seek that person until you decide to follow Him again.

 

 We don’t seek Jesus. He seeks us. In Luke 19:1-10, we see a chief tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus, who knew Jesus was passing through Jericho. But he was so short that he climbed a sycamore fig tree to get a better look at him. Jesus comes near the tree, tells Zacchaeus to come down and tells him that he must stay at his house. People began to mutter to themselves, “Why is he going to a sinner’s house?” Tax collectors were also lowly in society, yet Jesus didn’t care about his status.

 

 Zacchaeus welcomes him gladly to his home, tells Jesus he gave away half of his possessions, and if he cheated anyone, he would pay him pack 4 times the amount. The man is saved immediately, and Jesus confirms why in verse 10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Remember! Zacchaeus didn’t invite Jesus to his home first. Jesus sought out Zacchaeus first and told him that he had to go to his home. He saw that Zacchaeus was curious about him and realized his heart could be changed. 

 

Also, Jesus confirms how he seeks us shortly before his death. Jesus told his closest followers in John 15:16, during what is now down as the Last Supper, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide in me.

 

And this is a reminder for Christians. If you know someone that doesn’t know Jesus or has fallen away from God, you need to pray for them and do your best to seek them out. 

 

Story: When I was in elementary school, my grandma vowed that she would never become a Christian because her boss was a Christian and didn’t care about her employees very well. However, when I had my high school graduation, a pastor preached at my graduation and I remember my grandma saying, “He almost made me want to go to church.” A light bulb went off in my mind and I saw hope that I could get my grandma to attend one church service. I prayed about it and prayed about it and when I was in college, my grandma finally agreed to attend a service with me. But even more impressive was that she started attending a Bible study with my grandpa and she got saved! Just as Jesus never gives up on people, we also need to have hope and pray for those closest to us to know Jesus more.

 

What is another way to know that Jesus is concerned if you fall away from him? #3, When you do find him, Jesus has overflowing joy that he cannot contain by himself.

 

Looking at verse 7 it says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Verse 10 repeats this when it says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

Notice that in these verses we see that the farmer joyfully puts that sheep on his shoulders and goes home. But he is struck with so much joy that he has to release it somehow, so what does he do? He calls his friends and neighbors and tells them to rejoice with him since he found his lost sheep. Can you imagine how I felt when my grandma was saved? It was the best feeling in the world for me and I couldn’t wait to tell my friends and my mom. It’s still one of the best memories of my life.

 

Do you know someone that hasn’t been to church in a while or do you know someone that might be frustrated with their walk with Christ? Maybe that person is you and you just don’t want to be in church right now. Jesus is wanting you to come back to him. He wants that intimacy and relationship with you again and he wants you to be honest with your feelings. He will comfort you and restore you.

 

Satan doesn’t want you to restore that relationship with Jesus. He tried hard to get Job to disown God. He will deceive you to turn you against Jesus like he did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But the Lord wants you to heal that relationship with Him and restore you like e did with Job.

 

If you are a Christian but haven’t had a relationship with the Lord in a long time, remember that Jesus loves you. Life can be difficult, but you need to cling to him because you can’t accomplish anything in this life without him. Maybe someone close to you has had failing health, maybe you’re having a hard time paying the bills, or you’re just overwhelmed with family issues. Don’t give up on the Lord. He knows how hard life is because he experienced ridicule, torture, and even death just for our sake. And he is waiting to put his arms around you and be full of joy when you come back to him. 

 

Later on in Luke 15, we see that the Prodigal Son abandoned his father to enjoy a life of indulgence and partying and wasted all his money on himself and got hungry. What did the son do? He went back to his father because he had nowhere to go. However, he planned to repent of what he did. In verses 18 and 19 it says, “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” You can see the humility and guilt there. 

 

Did the father criticize or rebuke him? No. When he saw his son from a distance, he ran up to him and embraced him, kissed him, put the best robe on him, a ring on him, and put shoes on his feet. But not only that, the father got a fattened calf and celebrated his homecoming! That’s how Jesus will feel when you turn back to him. His arms are open wide for you!

 

I have a verse for you: Acts 3:19-21: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

 

The Lord wants to refresh and restore you and wipe your sins clean again.

 

If you aren’t a Christian, it is still your decision to follow Jesus or not. He will never force you to do anything you don’t want to do. You need to realize that Jesus loves you no matter what kind of person you are, what kind of sins you have committed, and what kinds of regrets you might have in your past. It can all be made clean today by committing your life to the one who is seeking you with all of his heart. If you make that commitment today, not only will Jesus be full of joy, but ALL of Heaven will be rejoicing, the angels will be singing, and you will be with Jesus in eternity. 



Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)

Twitter: scottworden76

Instagram: l.a.seoulguy

 

 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

A Hidden Gem of a City in California: Ojai

 


The city of Ojai, California is 12 miles north of Ventura and 63 miles northwest of Los Angeles and has a population of 7,613 people. It was named after a Native American term meaning "moon" when the Chumash tribe originally inhabited it. It was originally named Nordoff, but was changed to Ojai in 1917 and became incorporated as a city in 1921. 

When my wife and I lived in Santa Paula, which is 16 miles northwest of Ojai, my wife and I would take a drive through Highway 150 and enjoy the peaceful drive through Ojai. There aren't a lot of things to do in the city of Ojai itself, but it does have some small clothing stores, a book store, a few restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a small park in the center of the city. One time we took a drive at sunset and we took a few shots of the rural area of Ojai before eating dinner.





Then we stopped off at Boccalli's Pizza, which is a family-run place. The people that work there are really friendly, so we stayed and ordered a pizza there. We were in the mood for a Hawaiian pizza, so we got one of those. Although they used canned pineapple on the pizza, it was still good and the service was excellent. I'd go back and try the pasta or another kind of pizza next time.


After that, we took a drive back to Santa Paula and we arrived at the most famous area of Ojai that looks over Ojai Valley. It was night time already, but the views were really nice and had to check out the stars that illuminated.




The drive from Santa Paula to Ojai has some curves as you go through the mountains, but on Friday or Saturday evenings, there is very little traffic. From Fillmore, you take the 126 West to Santa Paula and get off at 10th Street (Highway 150). Then you head east for 16 miles until you get to Ojai. If you drive from Ventura to Ojai, you can take the 101 north to the 33 before you hit Highway 150. You will then drive through a couple of small towns Casitas Springs (hometown of Johnny Cash) and Oak View before getting to Ojai. 

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)

Twitter: scottworden76

Instagram: l.a.seoulguy

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Be A Rock For Jesus! (Matthew 26:69-75)


Sermon: November 29, 2021

On the license plate frame of my car I have the saying "Smile, Jesus Loves You." Now, most of the time I'm a patient driver and I follow the traffic laws. However, I do occasionally get really annoyed and upset if I am driving behind a really slow driver as I'm trying to get to work on time. Then when I arrive at work 15 minutes early, I think to myself, "Why did I get upset?"

Not only am I setting a bad example as a Christian with that frame on my car, I'm also showing the Lord that I can't handle small inconveniences in life, which is bad if I'm supposed to become a missionary in the future!

Well today, I'm going to tell you how every Christian can become a ROCK for Jesus by avoiding THREE pitfalls.

In your Bibles, please turn to Matthew 26:69-75. Once again, Matthew 26:69-75.

This is a very well-known story of how Peter denied Jesus after Jesus had predicted it beforehand. This was the same night as the Last Supper and Jesus was arrested just before Peter denied him.

What's the first pitfall we do as Christians that caused Peter to deny Jesus?

1. We act impulsively and don't think before we act. Peter is well known for acting before thinking and also not praying before making wise decisions. Just prior to this, a high priest by the name of Malchus came to arrest Jesus. Jesus even refers to the man as "friend", so Jesus was calm despite the circumstances. What did Peter do? He took out his sword and cut the man's ear off. Jesus heals the ear of the high priest and tells Peter in the book of John, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" Jesus was following the will of the Father, but Peter didn't realize it because he acted impulsively and didn't understand the bigger plan. He also thought impulsively when he denied Jesus. He didn't think or pray about what he should do.

- In my past relationships, I rarely prayed about how to handle conflicts with girlfriends and if we argued, I would just give up. I'm still a person that hates confrontations and arguing especially if it's over petty things. I'm thankful to the Lord that He matured me, or I would be an easy candidate for divorce especially with divorce so rampant in my family.

- When I lived in South Korea, I lived in a smaller town in my first year and I was so desperate to get out of that smaller town to move to the capital of Korea (Seoul). What did I do? I took the first job opportunity that came my way and it was one of the worst jobs I had ever had. I worked at two different schools, had 6 classes a day with no breaks, the books were bad, and the school was disorganized. I was miserable. But why did I go through all of that? I didn't pray before taking the job and made a quick decision with my own effort.

When was the last time you were in a desperate situation but acted impulsively without taking it to God first?

What's the second pitfall we do that caused Peter to deny Jesus?

2. We underestimate our weaknesses. Earlier that night, Jesus asked his disciples to pray for him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the hour was coming for Him to die on the cross and while Jesus was praying to the Father, He expected his disciples to pray for Him. Going back to verse 40 it says, "Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" Who was he talking to? PETER. He continues. "Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Peter underestimated his weakness and we all do that sometimes.

- Maybe you think you're a forgiving person, but maybe there's that one coworker or family member that you just can't forgive because you don't think they're worthy of it.

- It could be anger. Just as I have occasional road rage, how easily do you get upset over trivial things or how often do you get upset with your spouses when you're annoyed over something small?

We all have a weakness that we underestimate. What do you think is yours?

What's the third pitfall that caused Peter to deny Jesus?

3. We give into our fears. Not only did Peter deny Jesus three times, but each denial got stronger and stronger. Why? He knew Jesus was in trouble and he had a fear of getting arrested and being put into prison for knowing who Jesus was.

How do we give into our fears?

- We might have fear of failure. This is true for me. I want to do well in my Hebrew and Greek classes in seminary. I have fear that I won't be able to get past them!

- We might have a fear of the future. After attending the missionary conference, I immediately started wondering if I could handle being a missionary in the future!

What is one thing you're worried about in your own life because you're trying to manage it on your own strength and not giving it to the Lord?

But let me give you some hope. In Matthew 26, we see Peter denying Jesus, but what did Jesus say to Peter in 10 chapters before this in Matthew 16? He said, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this ROCK, I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." At this point, Jesus knew Peter would deny Him three times, yet he makes this bold statement knowing that Peter would be the pillar for the church. Why? Because He knew Peter had a repentant heart and would come back to Him.

So for us to be a ROCK for Jesus, let's #1- Pray before we make an important decision. #2- Humble ourselves and not overestimate our weaknesses. and #3- Not give into our fears.

I know many of us are going through some difficult circumstances in our lives. My challenge for you today is to think of something that is really worrying you and put it into the hands of the Lord. He understands what you're going through, He loves you, and He wants you to surrender that fear and worry to Him.

Eunhee and I are moving to Ontario, California (not Canada) in a couple of weeks. We're excited, but concerned because it's another transition moment in our lives. Just as I challenge you to surrender your fears and worries to Him, we must also do the same. We're all in the same boat together!

Scott Worden

Twitter: scottworden76

Instagram: l.a.seoulguy


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

My Wife Is Still Getting Acquainted With Food in America


Not my wife by the way!


Something cute and funny happened today. Eunhee and I went out to breakfast my with my dad. She felt like getting soup and salad instead of her usual oatmeal (believe it or not she LOVES oatmeal!). The soup of the day was salmon bisque. Later, the server brings out the soup with garlic bread. After that, I didn't realize what Eunhee was doing until it was too late. To my astonishment, she was spreading jelly on her garlic bread. I told Eunhee that there was garlic on the bread, so it wasn't going to taste good. She tried it and she said that it didn't taste that bad. The kicker is when my dad asked her to try the garlic bread that didn't have jelly on it. After trying it, my dad asked her, "Does it taste better?" She responded, "I'm not sure!" Haha!

Scott Worden
Twitter: scottcworden76
Instagram: l.a.seoulguy