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No Fear in Love

“No Fear in Love” is a book authored by Andy Braner.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18‭-‬19 ESV

Fear. Love. For me these are two of the most overused but underestimated words in the world. For some, these words aren’t big deals anymore. Considering the fact that our society today normalizes the things that, in many aspects, are unhealthy, the aforementioned words do not have weight anymore. But as I was reading this book, I realized that these two things here are the major causes of how we act, decide, empathize, build relationships, and the way we live our lives.

We live in a constant need to be something to make sure we matter..

Andy Braner

True enough. We have this in mind that we should achieve something for us to be seen as successful or even just be noticed by the people that matter or don’t matter to us at all. I realized that maybe we are unconsciously blinded by this notion in our journey as Christians. Maybe there are times that we focus on this so much that we forget that our main aim supposedly is just to be obedient as to what God has commanded us first: to love Him and to love His people.


Braner slapped me with this. I mean, this is so true to all of us. In the first part of the book, the author made me realize a lot of things. It was like he was pertaining to me and the current situation I am in the whole time I was reading the book. Maybe one of the reasons why we feel like we are weary for a time and our knees become feeble is because we are chasing the wrong thing. We focus on our security. We focus on our comfort. We focus on our own salvation and try hard preserving it. There’s nothing wrong with doing these things and keeping them in mind always. Each of us just got to be careful. We have to be aware of our heart’s condition and should not let Jesus just dwell in a tiny compartment of it. No. He is supposed to live there without any restrictions. Let Him have all of your heart. All. We have to focus on making God’s glory be known in all the earth and that would mean you should care less for anything that won’t help you to be a part of it.

Another important thing is we have to find out how well we’re doing as we take part in God’s redemptive purpose. Are we just focusing on what people expect to see and hear from us?

We tend to box ourselves.

We tend to follow the rules strictly.

We tend to believe the notion that the people that follow and believe certain dogmas are the “good girls/boys.”

It’s for us to figure things out, after all.

Lastly, Braner’s experiences have taught me to love regardless of the person’s dark past, social standing, gender, race, beliefs, and religion. In his book he has a great emphasis on demonstrating the brotherly love that God is talking about in the Scriptures. Maybe it’s high time for us to realize and self-reflect about this as well if we have ever hoped for a better world, and if we ever understood what God meant when He said we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

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Reasons to Watch Itaewon Class When You’re a K-drama Nonfan

Literature is the pulse of the civilization. When you kill literature, you destroy the soul of a nation.

(Schumacker, 2019).

These statements support what I have in mind: literature doesn’t die. For me, literature should have no end. It doesn’t end because this is why we lived and when a thing doesn’t end, might as well be immersed to it and celebrate it.

This is one of the reasons why I’m making a literary criticism about an amazing piece of oral literature – Itaewon Class. It is a South Korean television series starring Park Seo-joon and Kim Da-mi. This series is an adaptation from a webtoon of the same name. As I was reading reviews from this series, I have found out that the webtoon author made the script for the drama himself. This is an amazing feature because it can actually preserve the webtoon’s essence and sincerity. And it did, I have seen and read the early chapters and I was amazed because it doesn’t go far from the script and dramatization in the actual series.

Am I a K-drama Fan?

       Personally, I didn’t want to watch tons of K-drama (short for Korean Drama) because I have internalized that they just let the viewers, especially the teens, become idealistic about their life of romance. I prefer to watch science fiction and fantasy instead. It’s just that I have noticed that when my friends watch K-drama, they seem to be expecting that their lives might become the same with the characters of the series they have watched. They hope that they would find their own “oppas.” They will become too immersed by the fate of the couple in a K-drama that they forget the realities of life – worst-case scenario. As a result they become idealistic. These are just some of my assumptions and reasons why I don’t patronize K-drama that much. However, my mind has taken a shift from something when I realized that these are still literary works.  They are still worthy to be patronized at some point, especially when there are life lessons to be learned (and more factors to be considered if you’d ask me), and celebrated. Undeniably, a vast number of viewers, readers, and listeners do not recognize and appreciate literature but it doesn’t make the value of literature any less though. Maybe I just hated the idea that they have taken those literary works so lightly and not even giving credits to the minds, especially the writers, behind those.

“Learn as if you will live forever.”

       Finally, I didn’t patronize K-drama a lot because I don’t want to waste my time watching them for hours and get nothing but excitement in return. I want to learn something from everything I watch, read, and listen to. I am glad, then, to realize that is not rightful to overgeneralize K-drama as a mere vessel of idealism. Itaewon Class has helped me think this way. In fact, this K-drama series has magnified the seemingly unaddressed issues in our society such as abuse of power, social injustice, racism, gender discrimination, stereotyping of all sorts down to family and friendship.

Abuse of Power

       The events in the story started to rise when the main character – Park Saeroyi refused to kneel down after punching his classmate who was bullying another classmate even if it meant expulsion from his school. Throughout the episodes I realized that power is an overwhelming thing to acquire. Undeniably, most people want to have this. When you have power, you can either use it for your own good and not care for other people, or do it for the benefit not just of yourself but of others. This was shown in the early episodes of the series. Saeroyi refused to kneel down because he wasn’t sorry at all. It even made his father quit his job but interestingly, his father was so proud of what Saeroyi has become. He is living with integrity.

Social Injustice

       Social injustices are sometimes a result of the abuse of power. Some of these include bullying inside the schools, and teachers become more of like puppets. It is a shameful thing for a teacher to forget what is the essence of the oath he/she has taken. It should be the teachers who teach fairness and justice inside the classroom but what good is it when a teacher forgets it to preserve their jobs? Truthfully, one will do anything just to survive. The only difference is that not all people just exist to survive. This has been portrayed in the series when Park Saeroyi chose to be expelled from the school and his dad quit his job from the Chairman who asked his son to kneel down before them. The school administration didn’t even object. Admittedly, these unjust actions still occur in our world today.

Racism

       One of the strengths of this K-drama series is that it has a wide range of character focus. It didn’t just focus on a pair of characters. Take this very significant character being portrayed as an example – Kim Toni. He portrays a character of an African-Korean man who went to South Korea to look for his Korean father. Truthfully, this racial injustice and discrimination does not just happen and seen in South Korea but around the world. Apparently, one’s physical attributes matter in the cruel society we’re in especially the skin color. It can be a medium for a particular person to be not given the same privileges that other people get. It is quite interesting that Itaewon Class has this in the storyline. I mean, admit  it, racial injustice is not always seen and addressed to in many multimedia platforms.

Gender Discrimination

       As what I have mentioned above, Itaewon Class is a unique K-drama series because it has a wide range of character focus. Another significant character in this series is Hyun-yi – the chef. The character has been discriminated when the people in the broadcasted cooking contest knew that she’s transgender. This discrimination is very present in our society. People can be so cruel to those in third sex. Our stereotypes consume us and forget that they are just like us. Does it benefit us when we continually discriminate them, then?

Stereotyping

       Stereotyping is accordingly to have a set idea about what a particular type of person is like, especially an idea that is wrong. Amazingly, Itaewon Class did show a number of stereotyping issues. One of these is this 20-year old girl who didn’t go to college because she thinks it’s useless when she is so competent, influential, and intelligent and went to get a job in a small pub as the manager. And later on, she largely helped it to become the top food company in the country. The chairman of which didn’t even finish middle school. We have loads of stereotypes fleeting. It’s not even fair to have a fixed mental picture that people who do not finish schooling can never achieve great heights. Fortunately, this K-drama can break some of stereotypes we have in mind.

Fellowship

       “My strength comes from people.” Saeroyi mentioned this as the events are reaching the climax. He emphasized that he can overcome things because of the few good people he has by his side. And he did. He has shown his reliance on his friends as he was on his way of achieving his dreams.

Essence of Living

“Was that life? Well then! Once more!”

       This line came from a book that Yi-seo was reading. Obviously, one of the focuses of the series is how did the main character live a bitter life because of those who abuse their power. It emphasized that life can never be always “bed of roses.” It will cause you pain, terrible pain. But it’s worth living for when you knew the reasons why you live not just to survive.

Grief

“I’m going to embrace my yearning heart.”

– Park Saeroyi

       He said this when he met his father in his dreams. He admitted that he was still grieving and that he misses his late father but Saeroyi freed himself from that when he convinced himself that he will just simply embrace his yearning heart. As for me, this is one of the best ways to free yourself from pain or grief and decide to let go of it in a matter of time. Life is composed of all good and ill feelings. Might as well embrace them and turn it something for your own good instead.

Love That Fills Us Up

“It’s all you.”

-Park Saeroyi (to Yi-seo)

       One of the things that amazed me while I was watching Itaewon Class is the slow progress of the main characters’ love affair. I find it dull when a TV show is solely focused on a couple’s love life. This is when my K-drama prejudices come in. I’ve seen a number of K-drama series before but it was solely focused on love affairs. This feeds the viewers idealism of some sort. In my own opinion, this is one of the reasons why not all literary pieces are celebrated. On the other hand, one can never ignore the need of this most intimate affection – love. As a Christian myself, I believe that one’s life can never be complete unless you find out that you need love and have it. I have read poems, novels, songs, letters and mostly parables and stories from the Bible that will lead us to an understanding that we are empty. A human heart will always be empty without love. And in this K-drama series, Saeroyi was willing to lay down his life for his love. He only figured it out in the last episodes but he was all-out for it. It even made him kneel down to his enemy. He even stated, “There’s nothing easier than this.” Saeroyi did not let his pride win over love. It is because when you love, it’s all or nothing. You become selfless because for me, when you love and are loved back, this is where you find your identity. Eventually, when you know who you are and for whom you live for, you will be complete. This gives anything a happy ending. It’s when the main characters have seem to resolve and overcome their huge hurdles in life.

Finally, I know that I am a self-proclaimed K-drama nonfan but Itaewon Class is an amazing series. It’s highly bingeable. You will just find yourself so immersed with the emotions of the characters. The actors are amazing. The script is well-written. No wonder the series is being watched by millions of people around the world. I urge you to celebrate and appreciate literary works as much as you can while not neglecting the fact that we can and apply what we can learn from them in our actual lives.

I rest my case…

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Paul's Epistles Read

Did you just skip Philemon?

Philemon is an infamous book from the New Testament. It is just composed of 25 short verses. I didn’t even remember reading this book from the New Testament. And as we all are just staying home because of these trying times, I realized that I could not let this one book just pass by. I’ve told myself that I’m not going to proceed to the next book which is one of my favorite books – Hebrews, unless I have something to take away from Philemon. Finally, it took me a day to have an answer from a question: “What good could I get from the book of Philemon?”

Reading Paul’s epistles is like one of God’s way for me to know more of Paul’s heart for the churches he has planted and its people. Honestly, when I hear of Paul’s name, the picture of him having encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus is all that I have in mind. Little did I know that I also need to read through his sufferings and most importantly, his very heart.

Paul prayed for Philemon’s faith to be effective

“..and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” Philemon 1:6

Paul knew that he won’t have much time and much means to enumerate the things that should be done in every church he has planted. He only wrote and reminded the things that matter most. He prayed that Philemon’s faith to be effective for him and for the people to know that every good thing that is shown and experienced are of Christ and for Christ. In other words Paul wants them to experience it themselves. He believed that faith would always be effective when a person knows why he/she acquires it and what it’s for.

Paul prayed for Philemon to act according to his willingness

“..but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.” Philemon 1:14

Honestly, I don’t know much about Philemon’s ministry but I pray that I there would come a time that I will be graciously given a chance to know the Scriptures more. But I believe that God was simply just showing Paul’s heart to me, best case: He lets me experience it. How glorious.

In this verse, Paul was acting as a leader. A leader’s heart should be like this. Paul prayed that Philemon might act according to his willingness. He didn’t want anyone to act like they are under a compulsion. The Apostle knows how beautiful and satisfying it is to act because you are compelled by Christ’s love.

Why don’t we have Paul’s heart then? Do the situations around us change over time? They don’t. Things are always uncertain. For me, one of the best things to learn is to how to have a heart like Paul’s. He wasn’t anxious of anything. He simply wanted his brothers in Christ to show people what they have experienced in Christ firsthand. This is so simple but we don’t remind ourselves about this because we tend to forget to hunger and thirst for God’s voice.

All Scripture is God-breathed.. (2 Timothy 3:16). We even forget about this epistle’s importance and life.

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Where did that confidence come from?

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Faith is the realization that there is nothing you can do but trust in what has been done for you in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”
-David Platt, Follow Me

Confidence is one of the things I know I would never have, before. It is like a situation wherein you know it in yourself that you will not acquire it because you thought that people that has it were really born with it. Worst is that I was convinced with what my mind and heart are telling me about that.

Thankfully God has killed that lie in my mind. My own self was lying to me. My own mind. My own heart. I have realized that it is even a dangerous thing to know that you have your own will.

“…to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own.”

While I realized that we have been graciously given our own will, I can also say that it is a mischievous thing. In fact, most if not all of our sins root from that gift that should be used for the exaltation of the Most High.

Thankfully, God has given me a number of chances to not decide based on my own will.

Encounter Weekend

I was given a very humbling chance to speak in a three-day retreat (locally known as our Encounter Weekend). It is a retreat for the people who has recently received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It will be composed of topics that tackle about the Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

If I was just going to assess myself from my own perspective, I would say that I am not worthy. I am the youngest among the primary leaders of our local church and I was the youngest to speak on that Encounter Weekend. This was then the time that I completely chose to not look at myself but to look and rely on what has been done for me on that Cross.

The Greatest Love

Apparently, my topic was all about The Greatest Love (The Revelation of the Cross). I tried to read a lot of things. That includes my notes from the past years, books I have recently read, listening to online preaching and the likes. Those were all useless at first because I just sought for knowledge. I forgot to consult the Author of the most read book of all time — the Bible.

Fervently I prayed to God. I felt His presence. I prayed more so that I could hear Him and He gave me the ears.

Up until I walked towards the speaker’s area (this term is awkward at some point. Yes, I know), I felt Him cheering behind me. He was excited for His people to hear a bit of His story. But actually that was the very message of the Bible – His cross, His love, His heart, and His purpose.

At some point there was a still small voice that says: “be anxious! these are pastors you are facing. There are doctors. There are professionals. They are older than you..”

Oh, how I thank Paul when he wrote:

“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set as an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

And I silenced those voices

Confidence. I did not have it no matter how hard I have tried. It only came to me genuinely when I knew that I should have confidence in what Christ has done for me on that Cross he allowed me to tell people about. It was the maximum expression of His love.

I pray that I will live with that kind of confidence.

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Where should your usefulness depend on?

I have to highly recommend Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest book because as much as I’ve thought that I already know a lot, this book pierced me deeply telling me that I don’t.

“What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.”

I’ve come to a realization that I have recently used my strength alone in doing my ministry. I thought that I know much and dealt with my circumstances my way. I grew tired. It was all exhausting. I thought of quitting because I thought my life would be much easier.
One day I was burning inside. Lots of fire. And one day, all that fire consumed me negatively. Where is my motivation now?

Little did I know that I, for a time, wasn’t aware that I relied too much on what I already know. Which will seem to be more dangerous if I didn’t found myself reading a page of the book I’ve mentioned above, and finding some answers to my questions. But the book didn’t provide me the answer. The Author did.

Motivation. What should be the motivation in doing His ministry? The answer is so simple – “your relationship with Me.” These words pierced me. All along I have thought that the main motivation is to witness how we’re growing as His church but it wasn’t. The best motivation is Him.

There have been more challenges when I decided to know Him more. It even made me want to quit and not pursue it anymore but what good will life still give me if I don’t spend it with Him? There will be more pain in this pursuit but this is not my pursuit alone. It’s His. And I will joyfully watch how will He unravel my problems. He will not do it because He is only passionate about us – His children but it’s for His glory, and His glory alone.