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Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Free in Christ" by Pastor Andrew Gu (July 30, 2017)

Luke 4:1-21

What do you think of when you hear the word 'freedom'? People are willing to die for freedom and some argue that freedom is one of the greatest virtues. In the movie "Braveheart", the princess tries to persuade William Wallace to pledge allegiance to the King of England. His response "Every man dies. Not every man lives." He would not give up the freedom for his people and even lost his life for them.

Galatians 5:1 tells us that if you're in Christ, you're free in everything that you do. Our identity is not sin. We are all sinners, but if you seek the Lord, we can be a child of Christ even though we are still sinners. "Who you are determines what you do." Yet many times we have this backwards. If you put your identity in things besides Jesus, life will be hard. The more we walk in freedom, the more we can live for Christ.

In today's passage, we see that the devil is trying to disrupt God's ultimate plan of redemption. But we  see that Jesus knew these three facts. 1. God is the provider. 2. God is better. 3. God is always with us.

Let's start with the first one. Jesus had just been baptized and he also hadn't eaten in 40 days. We can't think straight when we don't eat food for just even one day. Satan tempted Jesus by saying that the Father wasn't providing for him and that he needed to take it upon himself to satisfy him. Jesus replied with "Man does not live by bread alone." But it was more than just that. Satan tried to convince Jesus that God didn't care. Satan wanted to get Jesus to live independently from the Father.
In Philippians 4:19, it says that God provides all of our needs and we can trust that God is our provider.

Secondly, Satan tempted Jesus by saying that he could have whatever he wanted in the world since he was in control of the world at that moment. In our lives, there's a cost for everything that we do. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and they want the easy way out to get rich and even sell their souls to the devil (figuratively and literally). Jesus didn't sell his soul to the devil (literally) because if he had given into this temptation, although Jesus would avoid dying on the cross, he would have had to worship Satan. In the Bible, it says that no one can serve two masters. He could either serve his Father or serve Satan but his Father already offered him the world as well as eternity. What the devil offered was temporary and counterfeit. He could offer the world but it was eventually going to be destroyed, so it would have been a bad investment anyway. It was just a distortion. We ourselves go on searching for things to satisfy us but what God offers is better.

Finally, God is always with us. In Exodus 17, the Israellites cried out "Massa??" meaning "Are you really with me?" They had legitimate needs because they were hungry yet they started to doubt God and their hearts wandered. Jesus didn't need to jump because he knew God was already with him. When we are filled with God's presence, we are more confident God is with us. In Romans 8:38-39, it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus knew his identity. Jesus intimately knew his Father and knew that He loved him unconditionally. God redeemed us and we are free through him.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Seoul Citizen's Forest in Yangjae, Seoul, South Korea

If you're looking for a park that's not overly crowded and one that's not where every Korean goes, I have one recommendation for you: Seoul Citizen's Forest in Yangjae. It was created in 1986 just before the 1986 Asian Games and 1988 Summer Olympics.

I came here in May of this year when the weather was still a bit cold, so it wasn't as green as it normally would be between the end of the spring and middle of the summer. However, I still enjoyed it because it was nice and quiet. During the summer, the stream that runs parallel to the park (see picture below) has grass along the hillsides. But as you see from the pictures, notice few people were there when it was bit cold, so it was great!

And if you take a closer look, you can see South Korea's national flag in the distance, which gave the picture more character.

The park itself has various walking trails including the main 4.8km walking course. It also has 43 species of trees including pine and maple trees. It truly does feel like you're in the mountains when you're strolling through some parts of the park and see maple leaves scattered all over the grass.

These trails were made for jogging and biking as you can see....

One famous person is memorialized here: Yun Bong-gil. According to Wikipedia, on April 29, 1932, Yun Bong-gil brought a hand grenade disguised as a water bottle to Shanghai's Hongkew Park where a celebration for Japanese Emperor Hirohito was being held. He threw it, killed Yoshinori Shirakawa and the government minister for Shanghai's residents, Kawabata Sadaji.  He seriously injured Lieutenant General Kenkichi Ueda, the commander of the 9th Division of the Japanese Imperial Army and the Japanese Envoy in Shanghai Mamoru Shigemitsu, who both lost a leg. Yun tried to kill himself with a bomb in a bento box, but was arrested before he had the chance. He was found guilty by a Shanghai military court on May 25, was transferred to Osaka prison on November 18, and was moved to Kanazawa, Ishikawa. Yun was executed by a firing squad on December 19 and then buried at Nodayama cemetery in Kanazawa. President of the then Chinese Republic Chiang Kai Shek praised his actions by saying "A Young Korean patriot accomplished something tens of thousands of Chinese could not." Future president Syngman Rhee disapproved of this and Kim Koo's strategy of assassinations as a way of gaining independence. He felt that the Japanese could use those attacks to justify their oppression of Korea.

Yun Bong-Gil Memorial
Yun Bong-Gil Memorial
The trails lead to Yangjae Stream on the other side of the park. From there, you can walk all the way to Gangnam on the 15.6 km path. Here are a few pictures of Yangjae Stream (Yangjaecheon). For more information on Yangaecheon, you can go here.

Yangjae Stream (Yangjaecheon)

Yangjae Stream (Yangjaecheon)

There is only one disadvantage of this park. If you're looking for a restaurant near it, you won't find one. After my friends and I came out of the park, to find a restaurant, we found one pub, and a few businesses, but no real restaurants. We had to take the bus back to Gangnam Station to eat. You can either have a picnic here, eat before you get to the park, or just go to another area to eat after you leave the park.

Getting there:

1. You can take the subway by going to Yangjae Station on Line 3 and come out of Exit 7.
2. You can take the bus: Seocho 8, 8201, M6405, 3200, or Seocho 20 and get off at the Citizen Park bus stop (시민의숲).

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Facebook: A Necessary Evil

Facebook is an interesting Social Media Network system that was extremely intriguing when it first came out. When I started using it in 2007, I added everyone: family members, friends, co-workers, close acquaintances, and people that I met for the first time. I think it was a way to make each other feel more popular and to have more self-worth. It was cool to log on and randomly see posts from various people that you've encountered in your life. But over the years, Facebook got bigger, it kept changing, and certain aspects of Facebook got annoying.

What's Negative About Facebook?

Over the years, Facebook then decided that it would no longer show posts in chronological order. It would show posts to people that you interacted with the most. Well, that doesn't sound so bad. But if you have 1,000 friends, the chances are that you might interact with 10-20 of them consistently because they're directly a part of your life while the other 980-990 people accidentally get ignored. Due to that reason and a few other reasons, my love for Facebook dropped.

I had to find a way to keep in touch with more people, so I decided to shed some of my "friends". I unfriended former students that I hadn't talked to in years, people that used to be close to me but fell off the face of the Earth, former coworkers that were great to work with but we have nothing in common with while never really talking to each other, and acquaintances that I met through other people. Sometimes the lines are a bit blurred, which is one reason that Facebook sometimes frustrates me. The standard for Facebook friends varies depending on who you talk to. Yet because the Facebook logarithm changed to only show you people that you interact with the most, I felt like it would be a waste of time to keep "friends" that I never interact with on a daily basis. On top of that Facebook assumed we weren't close, so I would seldom see their posts anyway, which made it more of a reason to "unfriend" them.

Next, even if you have a friends list that you're satisfied with, that doesn't mean that those people you care about the most will keep in touch with you. Let's just be honest. Technology has made us lazy. We used to write handwritten letters on a fairly consistent basis. Then we got lazy doing that. Then e-mail came into existence and we used to email people regularly. Now we don't even do that often. Social media was born and now we rarely send Facebook messages (which is the simplest form of communication) to our family or friends. And when we do send messages, people are slow when it comes to replying back. This just happened recently when I sent a heartfelt message to a family member a few days ago. She read it the same day and still hasn't responded. Human beings are sinfully indolent. And I can honestly say that I'm guilty of that as well. I don't call my dad often enough, but I also blame it on my introverted nature. I hate talking on the phone.

Another thing I don't like about Facebook is that if you post something and you don't get any "likes" or comments, you might get hurt and think that no one really cares about your posts. I've even gotten slightly resentful towards friends who normally would "like" my posts but then stop clicking the "like" button for a certain period. This in itself made me want to drop Facebook altogether. I don't want to rely on petty stuff like this to keep me feeling that I'm important. Thankfully, I don't care as much now because I'm married and keep myself busy. The best way to stop being sensitive over receiving "likes" or comments is to keep yourself active away from your computer. If you spend hours on Facebook waiting for these ridiculous and silly signals of affirmation, you'll be miserable. Get outside, hang out with your friends, and get away from Facebook for a couple of days. Keep your mind healthy.

Finally, people get extra sensitive regarding politics, religion, and even sports on Facebook. Because you can't see people's emotions or facial expressions, it's much easier to read into things too much and get offended fast. Arguments between friends develop over these issues if people misunderstand posts or just don't know how to disagree politely. Friends that normally disagree politely in person might not be so polite on the internet. Also reading a controversial article can be very damaging to the soul if you continue on and read the comments. The worst in people come out, so it's best to not even read the comments or you might want to react in a negative way.

However, this post is not to bash Facebook. Although I've contemplated shutting down my account on numerous occasions, I've kept using it for various reasons. And that's what I'll share about now.

What's Positive About Facebook?

First, it's not a bad way to find out about current events. Popular news items come up fast on my newsfeed, so it's very easy to keep up with what everyone is talking about. That includes what ridiculous handshake Donald Trump is giving to another president in the world, what people think about the new Spiderman movie, or what events are happening in Seoul during the week. Facebook is a very useful tool when it comes to being aware of what's happening in the world.

Secondly, yes there are people that I unfriended that I didn't normally keep in contact with. But there are close acquaintances that I have who I enjoy hearing from even though we may never hang out together.  1.  I have old high school friends that were cool to me in high school but we didn't talk until we found each other on Facebook. 2. I'm still in contact with three of my high school teachers and love reading their posts. 3. There are a few acquaintances from church that I thought were cool who I still interact with online. 4. A few people that I used to work post pictures of their babies, which is nice to see. Maybe some of these people aren't actually friends, but if they're good people, I keep them on my friend's list.

Next, it's been easy to organize my pictures. I don't want to throw all of my pictures on a hard drive. I don't trust my computer that much and even though an external hard drive can have a lot of space, I'm worried that it might not work 10 years from now. Facebook allows me to keep thousands of pictures in various albums as long as Facebook doesn't shut down. However, I don't see that happening any time soon.

Finally, if I'm having a bad day, sometimes it's nice to log on to Facebook and try to get my mind off of what's bothering me. I can either see a post about something tragic that makes me thankful about my life or I might see someone post an animal video that makes me laugh. Of course as a Christian, reading my Bible and praying comes first but searching for interesting posts on Facebook as a way to relieve my stress is okay once in awhile.

Final Thoughts

Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Not necessarily. Facebook can cause myself to waste a lot of time, but I do need it as a way to keep in contact with family and interesting people that I may not ordinarily keep in touch with. I just need to make sure that I use my time wisely and use Facebook sparingly. Too much of anything is dangerous and that definitely includes Facebook.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

Saturday, July 8, 2017

1st Wedding Anniversary with my Wife

Happy 1-year anniversary to my sweetie!

On July 2, 2016, I married the love of my life, Eunhee Kim (Chinese name Yinji Jin), a sweet and beautiful woman from a small town in China with ethnic Koreans named Yanji.

Our anniversary dinner was for us but I want to dedicate this post to my amazing wife. I would like to tell you a little about her before I talk about our dinner.

Last year I was really excited to marry her, so how do I feel as one year passed? Even better. The Lord has really blessed me with an amazing wife that is very understanding. She's strong-minded yet gentle at the same time. She's very mature and independent, yet is not afraid to rely on me for support. She knows what she wants but is easygoing and open to new adventures and experiences. Lastly, she loves Jesus and sees more to life than just doing meaningless work without a sense of purpose. She worked in a trade company when she first came to Korea and made a decent amount of money. But she felt that overworking just to make money was not how she wanted to live the rest of her life. Therefore she enrolled in a seminary in Daejeon to become a missionary while living in Seoul on weekends. She commuted to Daejeon on Monday and came back to Seoul on Thursday or Friday consistently for three years. Thankfully she graduated with a Master's degree in Divinity just before our first wedding anniversary. We had two things to celebrate so how did we do it?

We went to the Signiel restaurant on the 81st floor of the Lotte World Tower building in the Jamsil area of Seoul, South Korea on Saturday, July 1, 2017. The Lotte World Tower building is now Korea's tallest building consisting of 126 floors and had just been opened three months ago.

The day was a bit dreary as you can see from this picture. Monsoon season had begun, but we wouldn't let that spoil the fun.

Lotte World Tower building on a gloomy monsoon day

My wife looked beautiful. She got a new outfit, got her hair cut, and she did her nails just for this dinner. I'm a very blessed man to have such a thoughtful wife. She's my best friend for a reason because no other friend could match how well she treats me.

What an amazing smile!

I tried to look my best as well but there was no way I would match her!

The restaurant was very classy and it was very quiet and calm. The staff was very professional, attentive, and answered all of our questions with pleasant attitudes. We were quite impressed.

We started off with a glass of wine with complementary French bread, which was really nice. My wife doesn't drink but she makes an exception on special occasions. She felt very relaxed after just drinking half of a glass of red wine. Haha!

I gave my wife some nice, dark Godiva chocolate with three choices of 50%, 75%, or 85% dark chocolate. Interestingly enough, the loved the 85% dark chocolate.

We chose the five-course dinner option. Everything was excellent and tasted great. You can tell that the chefs were very experienced and focused on detail and flavor. I took a lot of pictures of the food as you can see:

Red Pepper Salad
Ravioli with egg yoke

Grilled Duck for myself
Baked Mango
Grilled Fish for my wife
Dessert #1: Refreshing oranges with cinnamon stick
Chocolate mousse ice cream
You might look at the pictures and think that the dishes were small, but you would be surprised that we were very full and quite satisfied by the end of the meal. Everything was amazing and although it was expensive, it's worth it for a special event. I totally recommend going there.

The main reason to choose this place was to see if we could get a great view from the 81st floor. At the beginning, it was difficult because of the inclement weather, but as we were about to leave, we found a window where we could get some nice shots. We were not disappointed!

You can see Jamsil Stadium at the top

A view of the Han River
I'm looking forward to many more adventures with my wife as we continue to live in Asia and go to Europe for the first time together in September. Thank you Eunhee for being a wonderful wife to me. I love you so much!

Scott (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy