Watering Your Soul!

September 14, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

Watering Your Soul

Dear Convergence Family,

I’m so excited for this upcoming season of ministry! I can sense that God is doing something in the midst of our church community. I keep hearing from people that they’re praying more, reading the Bible more, and having a greater sense of the Spirit’s presence in their lives. It’s both encouraging and inspiring!

I know that we tend to want quick fixes in our lives, but I believe that a well-lived life is cultivated over time. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, the apostle Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” In essence, as we practice our faith in word and deed, God transforms our lives. Our practices may not lead to immediate change, but as we continue to plant and continue to water, God forms us and matures us over the course of our lives.

So, let’s keep encouraging one another to practice our faith. Better yet, let’s invite people to practice our faith with us as we practice ours. And through it all, let us trust that God is growing us into mature disciples of Christ.

Planting and watering with you,

Pastor Bobby

Redeem the Text!

August 31, 2015  
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Reedeem the Text

Dear Convergence Family,

Living in this information age definitely creates tension for me. For instance, I love the fact that I can call or text anyone at anytime from anywhere. Simultaneously, I hate the distraction that calls and texts can create when something or someone else has my attention. That being said, I want to encourage you to “redeem the text!” This is taken from Ephesians 5:16 that says, “redeem the time for the days are evil.” In essence, let’s make the most of what we have and use it for good. So, “redeem the text.” When someone comes to mind, text them at that moment some kind of blessing. Or, text them to let them know that you are thinking of them. Encourage them. Pray for them and let them know that you are praying for them.

In this past year, I have been the recipient of very timely text messages that have encouraged me in times of struggle and pain. I also have received text messages that felt like God Himself was confirming what I was hearing from Him in prayer. This may sound incredibly simple or even gimmicky, but I believe that sending some kind of simple blessing is better than sending none at all. So, rather than waiting until you see the person at some point in the future, let’s utilize the tools before us and encourage one another while it’s still called “today.”

Blessing you,

Pastor Bobby

Walk Together (or Run)!

August 1, 2015  
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Running Partner

Dear Convergence Family,

Every Monday I go running with a couple brothers from church. This past Monday, one of the brothers happened to be out of town so I was thinking “day off” in my mind.  Then I got a text from the other brother asking if we were still running. I took a minute to respond as I was really tempted to say “no.”  After the minute, I responded with, “yup!” Everything inside me, however, was still wanting to send a text to cancel for the week.  The rationale in my mind was, “I’m not training for anything (so, there’s no goal I’m working towards)… So, why not take a break? Then I started to ask more philosophical questions like, “why am I running at all? is it not better to cultivate my spirit than my body? (yes, my mind goes this direction a lot).  Then, I started thinking about how hot it was outside and how miserable it would be to run.  So many temptations, so many obstacles, but I made a commitment to my brother so I showed up to run.

When we started the run, I told this brother the whole story and then proceeded to share how grateful I was for the accountability.  The reality is: this isn’t the first day when I, or one of the other brothers, didn’t feel like running.  There have been so many days when we talk about how we wanted to stop, but how running “together” pushes us to keep going.  And, without fail, we ALWAYS feel grateful and when we’ve completed the run.
This is how I often feel about my walk with God.  Journeying with community has provided me the strength, accountability, and motivation to go deeper and further in my walk with Christ!  Not going to church or not going to Life Group is very easy to do. I am certain that left alone to the whims of my emotions, I would drift far towards a destination of apathy. Our life can feel like a battle.  That’s why I think the author of Hebrews encourages us to motivate one another and not give up meeting together.  We cannot go through life alone… We need God and we need one another.  I encourage you to reach out and help point someone to Christ. Invite them to church, invite them to lunch, invite them to Life Group… Walk together!
Walking with you,
Pastor Bobby
Hebrews 10:23-25
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

True Sobriety

July 24, 2015  
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True SobrietyDear Convergence Family,

I recently heard it said, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” – Johann Hari

This quote definitely challenges our perspective of health and wholeness. First of all, I believe that ALL of us wrestle with addiction. A theologian once said that the Biblical definition of addiction is idolatry. In essence, idolatry is when we place something other than God at the center of our lives, to rule over our lives. When we do this, we are living into an addiction for that thing.

I recently read a quote about destination addiction: “Destination addiction is preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” This quote expresses a dysfunctional relationship with God, with the world, and with the people around us. There’s no rest for our souls. There’s no peace with our lives. It’s a constant discontent. Ultimately, we are not in a right relationship with anything around us.

So, perhaps our addictions/idolatries are meant to be healed by making God the priority relationship in our lives. When our relationship with Him is healthy, our relationships with our surrounding world becomes healthy as well. In essence, God heals our addictions through a new and whole relationship with Him, enabled by faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. This is much more than just trying to live a sober life. We can’t just stop living into our addictions. We have to replace our addiction with the only thing that can truly satisfy and make everything else right. We must replace our addictions with Christ.  When we do this, I believe we will find healing, wholeness, and rest for our souls.

In His Grace,

Pastor Bobby

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. – 1 John 2:15-17

Convergence Re-Launch!

June 27, 2015  
Filed under News, Pulse

Relaunch

Dear Convergence Leader, Member, Attendee, and/or Visitor,

For those of you who could not attend our member meeting on June 14th, we wanted to share the main thrust of the meeting with you, which had to do with the future of our church and the vision for a “re-launch.”

We began with a re-sharing of our vision and mission:

Our vision is God converging with our lives, changing us to change the world.

Our mission is to hear God, know God, and respond to God.

This is not something that is new for us. It’s not a new direction for us. This is not something that I made up.  This is what I believe to be the word of God that came to me and that inspired the launch of Convergence in the first place.  Why our vision and mission are so crucial to our future is that they undergird everything that we do as a faith community.  We long to see God influence every aspect of our lives and believe that in order to accomplish this, we must hear Him, know Him, and respond to Him.   Our hope is to live out God’s calling for us individually and collectively as a church with faithfulness and perseverance.

Why Re-Launch?

When churches are planted, there are a few characteristics that are deemed to be indicators of health:

  1. A launch team of about 35-40 people.
  2. Planting in the vicinity of the sending church (within 50 miles).
  3. The character of the church planter.

Convergence didn’t have the first or the second characteristic, and the third one (as many of you have come to know) was questionable. 😉  In any case, after seven years of ministry, growing every which way, we are now in a season where we are considering a re-launch.  There is a concept for toddlers called, “parallel play.”  Parallel play is when toddlers are doing their own thing next to each other thinking that they’re playing with each other. In some ways, I feel that this describes our church.  We have so many humble and faithful servants of God who are pouring out their lives faithfully in their respective ministries, but many of us feel alone in our mission and ministry. Also, there have been many people who have had a challenging time connecting with the church members on a deeper level.  All of this is a natural occurrence that many churches face over time.  This is why I believe that now is the time for us to gather together as a whole family and re-launch our church.

The church is God’s missional force in this world. The church is what God uses to fulfill His redemptive work. And now, we have the opportunity to establish ourselves as an enduring faith community that will last far into the future.  We have the opportunity to love one another as we experience God’s love to us in Christ Jesus.  We have the opportunity to pour our lives into something that is greater than us and simultaneously life-giving to us.  I believe that God is doing something absolutely amazing in our church right now.  I believe that He is calling us to hear Him, know Him, and respond to Him.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ moves and is on the move.  It begins in God, makes itself manifest in Jesus Christ, and empowers you and me through the Holy Spirit living and moving in us.  This movement of God in us is illustrated in Jesus’ final words in this world:

6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywherein Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:6-8

With all of this being said, we are asking for people who feel called to this new movement at Convergence to commit to being a part of this new launch team.  So far, we have 29 committed people who have said yes this past Sunday and we believe that there are more that will be committing through this week as word gets out.

Jeff Chou, one of our Convergence elders, has felt called to lead the strategic implementation of this re-launch and has laid out a brief outline of what this process will look like below.  We don’t have everything figured out. Why? One of our core tenets is to hear God.  This is a continual aspect of our lives and this is what we will continue to do as we move forward.  We do, however, know that we feel convicted to move forward in this re-launch process and that our God is faithful and good!!!

 

Stepping out in faith with you,

 

Pastor Bobby

 

Outline of Re-Launch Process

We’re planning the re-launch to happen in 3 phases.  We’re calling these phases “Listening & Learning”, “Planning”, and finally, “Launching”.  Each phase lasts between 2-4 months.

In the “Listening & Learning” phase we’ll be going through time of hearing from God, hearing from each other, assessing where we are as a church, and who we are as people.  The church is going to be investing in us by sending us to a leadership conference in August.

We’ll then move into a phase of “Planning” what Convergence 2.0 will look like.  This phase will be characterized by more frequent meetings, which will include planning church service and ministries logistically, but also times of fellowship and breaking bread together.  For a period of 6 weeks in September and October, we will be meeting twice a week.  Once on Sunday afternoon, and once during the mid week.  We’re asking people on the re-launch team to commit to attending at least 4 of the 6 weeks of this intensive.

The “Launching” phase starts on November 1st, and will run through January of 2016.  We’ll roll out our new service and ministries format, and have a couple months to tweak and fine tune things as we go along.

The elder team at Convergence would love to serve with any and all who feel called to join this process.  We believe that our church is comprised of uniquely gifted individuals whom God will use to shape and define the future of the church.  The elder team has no preconceived notions as to what the church should look like at the re-launch – this is truly an opportunity to create alongside brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is definitely not a light commitment.  We believe that along this journey we will be challenged into better listening to, knowing, and responding to God.  It is through our response that we hope to re-launch a church to reach the lost and give hope to the hopeless.

If you feel that God is calling you into committing to the re-launch team, please contact Jeff (jeff.chou@gmail.com or 510-676-7447), and we will be in touch with next steps!

 

Leading the charge,

 

Jeff

Burn Bright!

May 18, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

Burn Bright

Dear Convergence Family,

 

I spent the bulk of my week meeting with each of the elders sharing about what I believe the Holy Spirit is leading our church into in this upcoming season of our journey. In one of my meetings, one of the elders shared with me his conviction to burn bright into the future, even if it leads to failure, rather than slowly fade away.

I have been so convicted since hearing this word. There is a verse from the Scriptures that says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

 

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved devoting myself to the work of God through His church. Don’t get me wrong… there were days, and even seasons, when serving felt overwhelming; but, I always think to myself… As tired as I am, it’s a good tired. It’s a tiredness that’s a part of God’s Kingdom work. It’s a tiredness that’s not in vain.

 

Friends, however you are serving in the context of church and ministry, know that your labor is not in vain and continue to BURN WITH A BRIGHTNESS for all the world to see!!!

 

Shining brightly with you,

 

Pastor Bobby

 

 

 

Press On!

May 8, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

Press OnDear Convergence Family,

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

These two verses have been ringing loudly in my heart, mind, and soul this last week. There’s something about our pasts that can paralyze us, de-motivate us, or cause us to move in fear. Do you know what I’m talking about? I have past failures that make me wonder if I’m capable or even worthy of trying again. I have past successes that I talk about here and there when I need to feel better about myself when there’s nothing going on in the present. And, when I consider both successes and failures, I take the next step in fear trying to force the outcome to be the former and not the latter. In every case, my past strongly dictates how I step into the future.

That’s why these words from the apostle Paul mean so much to me. I know that his life was filled with past failures that would seemingly outweigh his successes. He had failures and moments that would create immense guilt and shame. He persecuted the very Christians he is now wanting to liberate with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! That’s a serious reputation to overcome. But, when he says, “forgetting what is behind…” I can feel the freedom that comes when he thinks upon the love of Christ that keeps no record of wrongs. I can feel the joy of following Jesus Christ who leads us in love, by love, and for love. I am free to move forward because I am deeply loved by my Heavenly Father!

Dear friends, I encourage you to look upward in order to truly move forward in life. Let us press on toward the goal to win the prize which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus!!!

Running with you,

Pastor Bobby

What’s Worship?!

May 4, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

Worship 2Dear Convergence Family,

What exactly is worship? Is it the songs that we sing together at church on Sunday? Is it the music playing on Christian radio? Is it the sum total of a pious lifestyle offered in praise of God? Until very recently, I would have answered yes to each of these questions and not thought about the subject any further. Worship in my mind had something to do with music and something to do with righteous living, but it was not anything that I could easily define beyond those broad categories.

In one of my current classes, Worship on the Lord’s Day, I’ve come to learn that worship is so much more than I’d ever previously understood. First and foremost, worship is an experience initiated by God, into which He invites us to participate. By taking action to save us, both through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and through the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our daily lives, God makes the first move in reaching out to us. Pondering this, theologian Constance Cherry suggests, “Worship would greatly change if an entire congregation truly sensed they were coming to worship in answer to God’s personal invitation. The spirit of the service would change dramatically. Can you imagine the expectancy? The electricity? The reverence? The awesome joy that would quickly be manifest?”

Indeed, when we worship at church, we aren’t just meeting with one another; we are encountering the risen Lord Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t just sit back and watch. As our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), He takes an active and leading role. When Scripture is read and the Word is preached, He speaks to us anew. These are moments of revelation, in which He shares or reveals Himself to us. This experience is far more significant than a typical conversation. The Word of God spoken to us is meant to nourish us, heal us, transform us and empower us as the collective Body of Christ.

What about communion? This mysterious sacrament is undoubtedly powerful, but can be extremely difficult to understand, articulate or explain. While no one can grasp all that God accomplishes in our worship at the table, traditionally Christians have experienced Christ in three major ways through the bread and wine. First, communion invites us to share in Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice at the crucifixion. Second, it encourages and empowers us as we celebrate His resurrection, His victory over Sin and our own acceptance into His family. Third, as we take the elements together, we are spiritually united together as Christ’s Body. When done in expectation of Christ’s presence and leadership, taking communion is far from a mere human ritual. It is another means by which Jesus acts in our lives and we submit to His loving Lordship.

When we come together on Sunday, let’s do so in eager expectation of meeting with the risen Lord. He has invited us together to hear from Him, experience Him and respond. Let’s see what He has in store for us next!

~Diana Wong

For further reading, see The Worship Architect by Constance M. Cherry.

 

 

Together in Mission!

April 29, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

Together in Mission

Dear Convergence Family,

I’m on a plane right now heading to a denominational gathering in Pasadena. As I have been preparing for the conference, I have been encouraged and reinvigorated by the reality that we don’t do ministry alone. The reality is: we are part of a larger family on mission. In fact, I am going to be leading worship with a group of musicians that I’ve never met before, yet I know that we are bonded by the blood of Christ, which unites us at a soul level. Knowing this, I am stepping into our time together with confidence because I know we are on mission together. I know that the gospel of Jesus courses through our veins. I know that we are truly covenant family.

The gathering itself is one where pastors and leaders from different churches, places, spaces, contexts, and communities will join together to worship Christ and engage with one another. It is a beautiful mosaic of God’s global family. We are not competing, but rather collaborating. We are not pointing out shortcomings, but embracing one another on this messy journey of faith.

So, be encouraged… You are not alone. God is with you, we are with you, and we are on Christ’s mission together!!!

On the journey with you,

Pastor Bobby

 

Renewed Mission!

April 20, 2015  
Filed under Pulse

RenewedDear Convergence Family,

This week I kept hearing messages about God cultivating our lives, especially in times of waiting and uncertainty. One message was about Abraham and how God would instruct him, but not give him a timeline or necessarily details of how things would play out; the example being God promising Abraham his son Isaac in old age, only to ask him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham waited a long time to have a son, but he still obeyed. God ultimately stopped him from killing his son and the author of Hebrews tells us that his faithfulness was credited to him as righteousness.

A few months ago, I attended a benefit concert by an artist named Tad Worku. During the concert, he shared his testimony with the crowd. Back in 2012, Tad was set to release his first major studio album and go on tour with his band. Simultaneously, he felt God call him in a different direction. Instead of completing his album, he enrolled in nursing school. He shared what a challenging journey it was for him as he very much loved music, but the path he was going did not feel like the path God was leading him to pursue. He continued to write music as he went though nursing school and an idea came to him where he could use his music talents and nursing to give glory to God. The concert I attended was part of his vision becoming reality. Just earlier that day, Tad and many healthy professionals volunteered their services to meet the needs of the homeless. In the same place where the concert was held, people had access to physicals, eye check-ups, and dental care that morning They even had equipment to make prescription eyewear on site. All of these resources were being paid by the proceeds of Tad’s concert. He was using his music to give glory to God.

Five years from when Tad was set to release his first pop album, he will now release an album, but with a different focus. The proceeds from his album and future shows will serve to provide more free clinics for the homeless. When he walked away from his previous album, a lot of money was lost. He feared that his relationships with his producers and band would be destroyed, but when he shared what God was prompting they wanted in on whatever God was going to do and they lent their support.

Tad Worku’s testimony reminded me of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We must remind ourselves to seek God continually and be faithful to his calling. Even when things seem at their bleakest, God can use it for ultimate good. Like Moses and Tad, God is prompting us and leading us on journeys that stretch and grow us to places that glorify Him and bless the world around us. In our seasons of waiting and of uncertainty, let us continue to press in our relationship with Him and allow Him to renew us.

“I left behind a career in pop music because I wanted to live out my values and give back to my community as a nurse. But now I am working to bring both paths together as one and help people heal through the power of music. With this concert I am working to answer a question that’s deeply important to me – What would it look like if we could truly live out the Gospel?” – Tad Worku

Grace and Peace,

Joe

 

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