Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Isaiah 60 - Radiant Beauty

Imagine that the sun did not rise tomorrow. Imagine that the sun did not rise for many days, for many weeks, for many months, for many years, for many generations. Imagine that the whole world was draped in darkness.

Imagine yourself in that world of darkness. Imagine yourself walking, working, living, eating, sleeping, waking in that world of darkness. Imagine your children and your children's children in that world of darkness.

After many generations it would no longer seem dark, but only real. It is dark, but what is dark if you can't remember light? It is cold, but what is cold if you can't remember warmth? The darkness is constant but unknown, unfelt.

Imagine that suddenly, in one corner of the world, light appeared.

Maybe it was the light of the sun finally rising again. Maybe it was the light of a star. Maybe it was the light of a great fire. A great light shone in a dark world.

What would you do? In that great world of darkness, if you saw light, what would you do? In that great world of dark coldness, if you felt warmth, what would you do? How would you feel?

To continue reading this sermon, click here.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Butterfinger Pancakes and Pajamas till Noon

About six months ago, our good friends Adam and Elisa took new jobs and moved to Seoul. When we saw them about a month ago at the concert in a helicopter (yes, in a helicopter - a big one), we made plans to come visit them after Christmas. This weekend was the auspicious occasion.
We came with no plans whatsoever other than hanging with them and eating at the restaurants of their choice. They suggested a place called Butterfinger Pancakes for supper on Friday night. Adam said that if we ate there for supper we would want to eat there the next day, too. He's right. We're ruined. This place has some of the best food I've ever eaten anywhere. There may be a bit of deprivation speaking here, but I was overwhelmed with the lush goodness of most of their food.
On Friday night, Sarah had some nut waffles - light, fluffy, crispy, excellent. Emma had the mac and cheese, also very good. Adam had the Fresco Burger, and Elisa and I split a Fresco Burger and a salad. The salad was blah, but the Fresco Burger was outstanding. It's actually a sausage burger topped with two kinds of cheese and bacon, then grilled on high quality bread. It's a living heart attack, but oh so delicious!

On Saturday, we sat around in our pajamas until noon. What a welcome reprieve from our busy end of semester and Christmas schedule! It was so nice to sip some coffee with friends and have nowhere we needed to go and nothing we needed to do. We also called our friends Mark and Naomi who are now studying in Canada. It was great to have all six of us on speaker phone, almost like old times.
About 2pm, we returned to Butterfinger Pancakes for another mouthwatering meal. Sarah had a very good grilled bagel sandwich. Adam and Elisa had a large omelet, packed with goodness. Emma had straight buttermilk pancakes, which come with your choice of butters and fruit toppings. Em was a little overwhelmed by all the choices, so we helped her out and recommended blueberry topping.

I had - get this! - the cream cheese and mozzarella pancakes. It sounds a little weird, but I figured: "When will I ever be able to try this again?" The cheese is actually in the pancakes. I topped it with a side of sunny side up eggs. It was incredible. I was practically moaning as I ate! I've never had pancakes so light and fluffy, and the idea of filling them with cheese was a stroke of genius. Elisa passed me her extra pancake - I think a gesture of generousity for the newbies who can't come back tomorrow - and I gladdly downed this perfect specimen of all a pancake should be - light, moist, fluffy, sweet, but not two sweet, buttery, but not greasy. I'm not kidding, I think those were the best pancakes I've ever had.
So if you're in Seoul and you have some time. Check out Butterfinger Pancakes. The prices are surprisingly reasonable for a Western style restarant in Korea. They now have locations at least in ApGuJong and KangNam, maybe more. Just google them to see some blogs. They don't have their own website, though.
Thanks, Adam and Elisa, for opening your home for some much needed rest and relaxation and for introducing us to a restaurant that has already become a legend in my mind!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reading and Watching Updates

Tonight, I made quite a few updates in the sections on the right showing what I've been reading and what Sarah and I have been reading or watching together. I'll try to give a quick review of each one.
Sarah and I often read before bed or when traveling. We recently finished Imperial Woman by Pearl Buck. The book is a beautiful insight into the Chinese royal court and to the era of Western encroachment, climaxing in the Boxer Rebellion, and the nearly avoided fall of the Chinese throne. However, it is also an unflinching look at the allure of power and the ability of power to corrupt and deceive even the wisest and noblest. By the end of the book, we were both very ready for it to end, but it was still a good read over all. Also, it helped me understand a little more about attitudes toward authority in Asian culture. My rating: jjj.

My mom gave me The West Wing, seasons 3, 4, and 5 for my birthday. She found them at a very low price at Half Price Book Store. Sarah and I have really enjoyed this intelligent and funny show. The characters are very well developed, and the writers deeply probe important issues facing the USA and the world. We are still watching season 5. Season 3 gets a strong JJJJJ rating. Season 4 only gets jjjj because it was incredibly rushed at the end. They packed 3 episodes with enough drama and change for 6. It felt like bad form, trying to hard to get to a dramatic season ender.

I've finally convinced Sarah to watch the Lord of the Rings series with me, and we've borrowed the extended version DVD's from Joe. Sarah felt exactly like I did after watching The Fellowship of the Ring: "That's it. You're kidding me. We watched 3+ hours of movie, and this is the only ending. They're sailing down a river alone." I know this movie/book is basically just setting the story for the rest of the trilogy, but it still felt disappointing at the end, hence: jjjj.
On the other hand, The Two Towers has perhaps one of the best movie battle scenes ever. The story develops beautifully, and the characters come forward with their full complexity. The extended version retains more of the story of the Ents, which the movie version cut out (and I greatly missed). My rating: JJJJJ.

As for my personal reading, I haven't had as much time as I would like because of my busier schedule this semester. This summer I went a little overboard in the book buying, so I've made a pact, which I'm mostly keeping, that I won't buy any more books until I read all the books I've already bought - not necessarily all of those given me by others.

One of those books was Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. This book was classic Manning: lots of stories, lots of the same stuff only said better than other people say it, and dry but witty humor. I didn't find it especially profound, but I did find it meaningful for that particular stage in my life. My rating: jjj.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poker, Poker, Poker

Several of our friends are planning some poker games to raise money for Elena's well through World Vision. Each game has a buy in price and a prize for the top winner. All of the money goes toward the well. (

Poker Preview: Last night, we had a small game in my house. The crowd was slim because of sickness and travel, but we had a good time. We played for the grand prize of some carribean jack salsa and chips, and we raised 50,000 won (around $40) for the well. (Yours truly had the lucky cards and got to keep the salsa.)

Mini-tourney: We are planning a mini tournament on January 10, the Saturday during KNU's winter English camp. This one will just be advertised in-house (around the church and with personal invitations), and we're hoping for 25-30 players. We'll just have it in one of the KNU classrooms.

Big tournament: In late February or early March, we hope to have a large poker tournament with 50 players. We want to rent the nice dining hall on the 7th floor of the Jae 2 Chang Hakwon, and we want to recruit players from all around Cheonan, and maybe beyond. If it gets really big, we might go way over 50 players. We're thinking there might be a 20,000 won buy in, some nicer big prizes like gift certificates to Outback, and a well-organized tournament.

Lots of fun, and if things go well, this could be the start of a tradition that helps us raise money for a good cause and make connections with people who wouldn't normally come to church. So if you like poker, or if you know people who like poker, help us spread the word. If anybody out there wants to help plan or advertise, talk to Kieth Pardue.

(Also, of note, I've requested a poker strategy book from Sarah for Christmas!)

Isaiah 65 - The Birth of a Dream

We're going to start this sermon today with one of my favorite activities: audience participation. Turn to someone around you and answer this question: “Why did Jesus come?” We are preparing for Christmas, right? Why did Jesus bother to enter our world in the first place? Why did Jesus come?

--- Talk in small groups.

--- Shout out answers.

Christians have two basic views of why Jesus came and how Jesus fits into the story of humanity.

In view #1, which has become popular over the past 100 years or so, the world is kind of like an airplane with engine failure. We are loosing altitude. Society is experiencing moral failure. The wings are smoking. This plane called humanity is going down. We are going to crash into the mountain of God's judgment, and everything we've ever known will explode in a ball of fire. Some parts of the Bible definitely sound like this.

In view #1, Jesus functions kind of like an ejection button and parachute. We can see the world going down in smoke. We can see the hell and fire of judgment coming our way, but aha! We also see a red button marked, “Jesus.” We push our little red Jesus button, say a quick prayer, and eject out of planet earth. We are saved by our Jesus parachute which carries us safely to heaven, while the earth burns wildly in the flames of God's judgment.

But there's another perspective in the Bible, another perspective available to us Christians. In view #2 ...

To continue reading this post, click here.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Isaiah 61 - Changed by Hope

KNU International English Church
Josh Broward
December 14, 2008

"From Now On" video.

Now I know what you're thinking after watching that video: “Oh, no. Josh is preaching another one of those depressing sermons. He's even taking Christmas and making it sad. What's up with that?! Christmas is supposed to be happy!”

Let me tell you from the beginning that we'll get there. We'll get to the joy of Christmas today, but first we need to talk about the pain of waiting in the now, the pain of waiting when things don't go well, the pain of a world that is mixed up and not working right.

Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? A little boy named Alexander had one of those days. I want to take a few minutes to read you a story: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

To continue reading this post, click here.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Raising a Well

My friend, Elena Willey, has set an amazing goal. She wants to raise enough money to dig a well in a developing nation in one year. The total price for an excellent well through World Vision is US$18,000. Elena is asking all her friends and family to contribute to her well fund instead of giving her Christmas gifts. (No earrings or socks from us this year!) She is planning a variety of fund raisers, including a poker tournament in February (yahoo!!!).
This is such an incredible example of one person deciding to make a big difference. Way to go Elena!
Check out Elena's site for the well project. You can read the articles that influenced her, and if you feel so moved, you can make a donation.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Advent Wreath

For the past several years, we have made our own Advent Wreath to use at home. Usually, we don't really have a wreath - just a collection of candles and greenery on our kitchen table. This year, we got some long, thin evergreen branches and cut them into smaller pieces - about 6 inches or 20 centimeters. Then, we laid them around the Christ candle to make something more like an actual wreath.

We light the candle(s) at each meal, and Emma really likes being involved in this little ceremony. It helps us all get into the Advent season and to anticipate the coming of the Messiah.

This year, we found a helpful little site with some background history and a weekly prayer to use when lighting each candle. We'll pray these little one sentence prayers every day when we light the candle. As I type, Emma is copying the prayer onto a sketch pad so that we can use it at our meal times.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.