Dedication: Jiseon Choi

I was driving on Telegraph Ave. toward Willard with Soo and Jesse (wife and kid) for our 10am run-thru a couple Sundays ago when I realized that I forgot to tell Jiseon that we’re supposed to be at Willard by 10am.  Jiseon had been taking a break from singing for the worship team because she just got too busy with ministry and life, but recently got reeled back on board, to the rejoicing of many.  Our 10 am run-thrus were a recent implementation and so she wouldn’t have known about it.  Anyway, as I was kicking myself for forgetting to inform her, Soo and I spotted her car, and sure enough, it was Jiseon.  She must’ve taken the initiative to find out herself, which already demonstrates some level of dedication. But that’s not the interesting part of this story…

We pulled up to the left side of her car at the Ashby-Telegraph stoplight. Soo opened her window and waved her arm out of the door trying to get Jiseon’s attention, just to say “hi”.  

Soo: “hi Jiseon!… hey, Jiseon!..  She can’t hear me… hey, haha…” [turns to James] “… what is she doing?”

I looked over and Jiseon had her eyes focused straight ahead, but she was making some fish faces, lips puckered and all.  We didn’t see Sophie (her daughter) in the back seat, and she looked quite serious.  Unable to come to some reasonable conclusion to why she would be engaging in something so bizarre, we watched for a little while as our giggles turned to chuckles and then to full on laughter.  And then the green light came. I later told Jiseon what happened, and asked her what she was doing. She said it was an exercise her vocal teacher taught her to do.  Needless to say, she wouldn’t demonstrate it for me…

Two things I’d like to point out about this story:

1) Jiseon is dedicated.  Taking initiative to know what’s going on with the worship team schedule.  Finding time in her busy schedule to fit in her vocal exercises.  One of the best singers at our church, and yet practices to get even better.  And so focused in doing so as to not notice when some friends are trying to get your attention to say “hi”.

and 2) You never know when said “friends” are watching and having a good laugh at your expense.  

Welcome back, Jiseon. We’ve missed you.

James Kim
Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Worship Director

Show Yourselves To Be

One of my favorite Steven Curtis Chapman songs, “Show Yourselves To Be“, is based on this week’s devotion text, John 15. This time around, what caught my attention was where it says “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” from which the song gets its title. The New English Translation says “My Father is honored by this…” This tells me that bearing fruit is what honors God. Bearing fruit is what demonstrates that I am a Christ follower.

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” — Galatians 5:22-23

Show Yourselves To Be
by Steven Curtis Chapman

Sweet are the branches
Growing the fruit that comes from the vine
But these are just branches
Blown by the wind holding on to life
I want to be like them
Holding to the One whose life is mine
And I know as I follow him
His life will surely show in me

He said you will
Show yourselves to be
The ones who follow Me
By the evidence you leave along the way
They will know that you are mine 
Like the branches on the vine
If you show yourselves to be following Me

Faith joins our hearts to Him
It’s not a result of anything we do
But if we are part of Him
There will be reasons to believe it’s true
The fruit cannot help but grow
If the branch is joined into the tree
And love cannot help but show
In the one who goes where Jesus leads

Planted in the fertile soil of quiet times
Watered by the rains of trouble
Growing toward the sun that shines

They will know that you are Mine
Like the branches on the vine
If you show yourselves to be following Me
So show yourselves to be following Me

That means it’s about my character. When I overcome my sinful nature — pettiness, a short temper, being easily discouraged and being discouraging, being harsh and unreasonable, among many, many other things — with the fruit of the spirit by surrendering my life and its parts to the lordship of Christ, that’s bearing fruit.

That honors God and shows that I follow Christ. Not singing the songs, not attending church events, not even evangelism and ministering to other people, leading people to Christ or teaching them the Bible. It’s being connected to the true vine and bearing fruit, changing my character and becoming like Christ. That’s harder, and I can’t just force my way to bear fruit like I can doing the things that I do. Instead it comes through being rooted in the word and prayer, and allowing my interaction with God to saturate the rest of my day in my decisions, actions and thought-life.

This is the song I chose for the Berkeley worship team to sing at the Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Austin farewell, a prayer for them, and a commitment for us who remain here to do the same.  And we will be connected with them as long as we all remain connected to the true Vine, remaining in Him, obeying his commands, and loving one another, demonstrating to the onlooking world that we are His.

Jesse — Dan Fan Club, President

Here is a picture of my son, Jesse. He likes watching our band play, be it for practice at our North Loop building, or at the Willard auditorium for our Sunday morning run through.  I guess he picked up a couple things from watching us…

I sit him down on the drum “throne” (as Albert said it’s called.  hmm… what does that say about drummers?) and hand him a pair of sticks.  He hits most of the drums in no particular order.  When I took these pictures, there was a small cymbal that was just out of his reach. He went for it and fell onto the larger tom, and clinging for his life, he was still swinging for that small cymbal… that’s dedication.

Daniel, you have a padawan… don’t let him go to the dark side.  And while you’re at it, could you potty train him too?

James Kim
Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Worship Director

Sundays at Gracepoint Fellowship Church: "Pouring Out"

In Luke 7, there’s story of a woman who is described as having "lived a sinful life". After learning that Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s house, she went there bringing before Jesus an alabaster jar of perfume and poured it upon Jesus’ feet.  That jar represented the most valuable thing in her life. Having encountered Jesus, she saw it fit to extravagantly pour this out onto him.

2008.09.28 Songs
For All You’ve Done – Hillsong
Alabaster Jar – Gateway Worship
Reign In Us – Starfield

I think about the very best that this world might be able to offer me, within the four corners of this life.  Physical comfort, absence of worries, promises of significance and recognition, etc.  But put those next to my own salvation, the promise I cling to that through the blood of Jesus Christ, my sins are washed away and I will be carried into eternity in personal relationship with my Creator, and there isn’t any comparison. Without that, I’d still be walking around with all my sin stuck to me, defiling my soul, my character, my life and others around me. Encountering Jesus leads to a transformed life of extravagant love.  How can anybody not be changed?

We had a wonderful time to witness four people from our Berkeley Koinonia and Acts2Fellowship college campus groups get baptized last Sunday, hearing pieces of their stories of how Jesus came and saved them. Each time, I’m reminded of my own encounter with Jesus: the story of him rescuing me, and my experiences of his love through the relationships I have here at Gracepoint Fellowship Church. And each time I become a little undone.  I’m brought to a point where it makes so much sense to bring to him my life, pouring out my own alabaster jar out of gratitude and joy, responding to Jesus’ own outpouring for me.

Sundays at Gracepoint Fellowship Church: "Seasons"

Many of us at Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Berkeley are entering into a new season in our lives.  The new school semester at Cal starts this week, so all the students get bumped up in freshman/sophomore/junior/senior(/5th year) status.  New ministry opportunities across Gracepoint are also opening up. When I enter into a new season in life, I try to take the opportunity to refocus or recalibrate myself, evaluating my relationship with God and what I’m doing.  What am I doing? What am I about to enter into?  Why am I doing it?  Honestly answering these questions can be revealing.

2008.08.24 Songs
Today is the Day – Lincoln Brewseter
Blessed Be Your Name – Matt Redman
Fire Fall Down – Hillsong United

As a Christian, the purpose of my life and what I do with it on a regular basis should relate to God’s glory, the expansion of his kingdom, the widening of my understanding of myself and so appreciation for his mercy and grace, and the deepening of my love for and service to Jesus.  But the honest answer for me I find often to be "because that’s what I’m supposed to do", or the like.  Not particularly linked to what I had mentioned before.  Not so inspiring, and definitely not all that pleasing to God, I imagine. 

I look back at God’s goodness in the seasons passed, His faithfulness to me and to our church, and I marvel.  I want to apply the lessons learned from reflection over those times, and apply them forward so that whatever happens, good or bad, that I might hit the ground running with trust in him and a passion to fan into flame the gift of God that is in me. 

Favorites @ Gracepoint Fellowship Church

Is there a song that we do during our Sunday Worship Services that you really like?  Maybe something inside cheers a little when you hear the intro or see the title screen up. (I encourage you to express that on the outside, too! Why not?)

Comment on this posting and let us know what YOUR favorite worship song is!

James Kim
Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Worship Director

Sundays at Gracepoint Fellowship Church: "Great Expectation"

With the new semester right around the corner, we’re gearing up for the many new people to come to the Bay Area.  First years, transfer students, international students, visiting scholars and the like.  It’s an exciting time in our ministry calendar as we have the opportunity to meet people from all different walks of life, especially as many of them have yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

2008.08.17 Songs
You are Holy – Michael W. Smith 
We Lift You Up – Desperation Band
God of This City – Chris Tomlin

Susan Kim mentioned how appropriate it was that we met for worship service at Pauley Ballroom on the UC Berkeley campus, where both New Student Welcome Nights will be held next week.  The song selection this week was primarily for our members who share in the heart of evangelism in our different ministries at Gracepoint.  As we go forward, we know that all of our efforts  mean nothing without the Spirit working in the hearts of those we reach, as well as and especially in our own hearts as well.  I believe God has great plans for us, for the different campuses, for the Bay Area, and again, in our own hearts as well. God will do great things.  The limiting factor for me to experience is my own level of commitment, my own obedience. But if history is any indication, through what little I’ve given, God has multiplied that to contribute to his great work. 

I hope we can all give a little more, in whatever ways we can, with joy in the great expectation of the even greater things that are yet to come.

Over the Years: New Student Welcome Night

The new school year at Cal is right around the corner.  For us, that translates into getting geared up and preparing for the biggest event of Gracepoint Fellowship Church‘s college department calendar: New Student Welcome Night (NSWN).  

As I was talking with Jason Tarn yesterday, we realized that this upcoming NSWN will mark the 10th year that I’ve done the music for the event.  My first time was when I was a 4th year at Cal.  In terms of the music I don’t remember that much.  I do remember that I had both my guitars (fender strat and a Taylor 614ce) that night, and that I broke strings on both the guitars during the praise set.  Boy, was I nervous…

That was in 2050 VLSB (Valley Life Sciences Building), kind of a “home” for me since that was the first place I led worship for our college department Bible studies.  We’ve since moved to Wheeler, and now Pauley Ballroom for this year.  And every year, it’s such a wonderful time to see so many young students coming to find out about our group, taking the opportunity to hear the message of the gospel, many for the first time.  It could even be their first step toward crossing the line of faith. 

I went over to Jeannie Lee’s office to share with her the realization that a decade has gone by, and I’m still doing NSWN. (Patrick and Jeannie Lee were the senior class directors when I was a senior way back when.) We laughed and joked about how old we’re getting…

After 10 years, we laugh. Another 10 years, we’ll cry…

C’mon, you vocalists. We need to raise up worship leaders. <sigh>

James Kim
Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Worship Director

The Arts: Creative Communication

One of our goals as the Worship Team at Gracepoint Fellowship Church is to use the arts to engage people’s hearts with God during our services.  Through the arts, we can help people come to an emotional understanding of who God is, what he is like, who we are, what we were created for and how he wants us to live. The arts are a wonderful way to communicate truths about God, the Bible, life and the gospel in a way that touches people’s hearts in a way different from simply using words alone.  

This video was one of the elements at the 2006 Easter service at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL.  It’s a beautifully creative way to demonstrate God’s hand in creation and salvation…  

YouTube Preview Image

I attended the Willow Creek Arts Conference for the first time in 2002 with Pastor Ed and Kelly Kang and other Gracepoint Fellowship Church arts people — Daniel Kim (Dis-Gracepoint), Peter Choi (Waypoint Community Church), and Paul Chen, among others), which played a big part in transforming our services to what we experience these days. They are the best that I’ve seen to engage people’s hearts using the arts.

People come to church with all sorts of barriers and hang-ups about God and about life, whether they’re Christ-followers or not.  We sometimes bring that to a worship service with some shields in place, areas of our hearts that we want to guard, to “protect” us from being spoken to.  The arts can communicate to us through ways that we did not think to have guarded.  It helps us to lower our defenses, to open us up to hear what messages God has for us, to get real and personal with our Creator.

Gracepoint Fellowship Church – Element: Centrifuge

A bunch of us are helping with the music for Centrifuge this coming Saturday night. Centrifuge is THE event for our Element group. Element is our youth group at Gracepoint Fellowship Church, headed up by Ben (who was my small group leader when I was a sophomore in college) and Elise Koo.  Two of our vocalists (Bessie and Danielle) are Element teachers.  Centrifuge is:

A night filled with games, music, a thought provoking skit, a life-changing message, and delicious snacks (including free food and boba!!!!) – it’s an opportunity you should take before it’s GONE

It’s only for junior high and high school students, though — 7th through 12th rade.  (So if you’re thinking you want to attend, but you’re as old as my friends look, you’re out of luck.)

Anyway, please pray for the event, for all the Element teachers and students, as well as all the guests that attend the event, that the gospel would be demonstrated by the program, as well as the character and hearts of our students.