Learning to challenge your challenge

February 14 2009- HQ Church, Seoul, Korea

But see, I had one very big challenge here. As a fast growing church there is the danger of getting so bogged down in the management and systems for me that the religious leader becomes less religious and more of an organizational manager. Then the religion becomes sort of like a religious business. And this is the real thing that I have to watch myself in.

Welcoming Remarks:

Yeon Ah Nim:

Good afternoon, everybody!

We know that every day is the day that our Lord has made and every day is a sweet day to worship and celebrate Heavenly Father and True Parents. Just like today, today is Valentines’ Day, and I hope that everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day. Yes? (Applause) Thank you!

We are always honored to have you here in this sanctuary, and for those who are watching us through internet, we welcome you as well. Welcome brothers, and welcome sisters!

Hyung Jin Nim:

Welcome, brothers and sisters. Today I want to share with you from Cheon Song Gyong, page 987. Father says,” Among all bonds of relationships the standard is the parent child relationship established between God and human beings. The heart coming from this bond cannot be undermined by the authority of any being and is eternal, unchanging and unique. The authority of this heart is also absolute. For this reason, when you come forth with this authority, all existing beings will bow their heads before you. When you move with the authority of that heart, the entire universe must follow you.” This what Father says.

Brothers and sisters, I really encourage you to keep these words written on your hearts during the week. When we are in that amazing relationship then, although we may not see God and True Parents around us, but (because of) the power and authority of that relationship all existing beings will bow their heads. Wherever you move with the authority of that heart the entire universe must follow. If you understand that we sit and stand in that amazing position then we know and we will feel how amazing this life is.

Brothers and sisters, it’s always so important that before we come to the service to remember these words, to remind ourselves through this lens. It is so easy for us to forget these kinds of words in our lives.

Let’s always remember that when we come to service it’s our time to really celebrate, to show God His goodness, to bring Him glory, to bring Him happiness, bring Him joy. When we do that then we will receive the abundant blessings that God is preparing for us.

Brothers and sisters, once again, welcome to service, and let us return joy and happiness to God and True Parents today. Welcome to service.

Yeon Ah Nim’s Message:

5 years ago my husband and I were watching an animation movie that is called “Joseph.” And there was a scene that Joseph was coming up the hill with his robe, his embroiled and golden decorative robe that his father especially made only for him. And he was singing a song something like “I’m a miracle child” while his siblings were working in the field, working very hard. I still remember what my husband said while he was looking at that scene. He said, “No wonder he was put into slavery by his own siblings, if he acts like that!” That is what he said. He said, “Joseph was not mindful and aware of his siblings’ feeling and situation at all. That kind of immature boasting is a fatal fault when one receives a favorite blessing.”

If we believe that we are in the position of Abel whom God’s favours, who have so much blessings, then it is so important for us to thank God first and not to be arrogant. We have to remember why God gave us so much blessings and fortune spiritually and physically. And by Him giving us that kind of blessing God asks us to share those blessings with the people around us.

Brothers and sisters let us remember that we are so blessed in many ways, and let us share our wonderful blessings with the people around us. Aju!

Opening Prayer by Hyung Jin Nim:

Heavenly Father thank You for this day that You have blessed upon us. Father, today we gather in this sanctuary from all over the world, Father. Father, we know that, Father, whenever we give celebration to You on this beautiful Saturday, that so many blessed families across the globe are joining us.

Father they are celebrating with us. Father, let us realize that connection, let us realize that, Father, you have prepared the ground for us to walk upon. And, Father, let us always realize that You are guiding our footsteps and leading our paths. And, Father, let us know that 2009 we will find more victory and blessings. Father, let us be aware and mindful of those things. We thank You so much that You may be together here with us today. Father, we pray that Your abundance, Your goodness and Your favor my be upon Your children today here in this sanctuary and those who are joining us from the entire world. Father, we pray that You may protect each and every family, that You may bless them with goodness and mercy for all the steps of their lives.

Thank You so much, Father. We pray that You may be with us today and find joy in us. We offer this to You in our own names. Aju!

Interesting Story:

We always like to start with something a little interesting! Actually today it’s very short. But I hope it’s interesting, and it’s actually a question. Why was Moses the most wicked man? Does anybody know? Because he broke all 10 commandments at once! (Laughter) Ooh! You got it a little late, but you did get it!!!!

Sermon by Hyung Jin Nim:

Brothers and sisters, today I want to talk about, “Learning to challenge your challenge.” And this is so important. If we are to live the blessed life, we have to be bold in learning to challenge our challenges. Everybody in life will be challenged by circumstances, people, events and situations. And in these situations we have the choice. We have the choice to cower and give up to the challenge or we have the choice of digging our heels and making our stand and challenging that challenge, and learning to be confident but not cocky. Facing a challenge is one of the keys to living the blessed life.

Let’s take a look at some of these World Scriptures today. We’re going to look at Zachariah 9:13 from Christianity. Let’s read it together, “I will put this third into the fire and refine them as one refines silver and test them as gold is tested.” In order to find the purity of the gold one has to test it through the fire.

Let’s take a look at this quote from Buddhism, Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva path. We’re going to look at this together, chapter 7, let’s read it together: “Even doctors illuminate illness with unpleasant medical treatments. So in order to overcome manifold sufferings I should be able to put up with some discomfort.” Very cute!

Islam, let’s look at the Koran today, 21st Sura. We’ll read that together: “Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good for ordeal and unto Us you’ll be returned.” Again, it is part of the path.

Let’s look at True Parents’ words today. Let’s read it together, “So don’t doubt and don’t try to avoid danger. Go straight ahead and confront it directly. If the mountain is high, the valley is deep. Likewise, to receive a big blessing, you have to overcome big trials. God will come to you, and after a long winter you will see springtime. These are natural phenomena of development.” I love that! “After winter you will see springtime!” We’ve got to write that over our doors in our room. It’s so important.

You know, brothers and sisters, I heard the story of Christopher Columbus, born in 1451. His father was a wool weaver, had a cheese stand in a market. By 19 years old Christopher Columbus was already at sea. And you have to understand that at that time Europe enjoyed very safe passage to China and India, very important sources of valuable goods like silk and spice and things like that, under the Mongol empire.

But with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 the land route to Asia, to India and China, became very difficult. So by the 1480s Columbus developed a plan to travel to India by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Remember, the Americas were not known of yet. So he thought that actually by crossing the Atlantic he would be able to get to China and India. He actually calculated that the earth was roughly 25,000 km while it’s really 40,000 km in circumference. He calculated it as being sort of half in size.

In 1485 he went to the king of Portugal, King John II, and tried to make a deal. It failed. He tried again in 1488 with John II. It failed again. He went then to the major leaders in Genova and Venice, again failure and another failure. More failures! In 1486 he met Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, the monarchs that were now consolidating Spain. And he failed again. He continued to lobby at the Spanish court until 1492, a total of 7 years, from 1485 to 1992. He kept on going, failure after failure, challenging his challenge. He finally got his approval by Ferdinand II. Historically of course we know that he is not the discoverer of the Americas, but he did bring it to the Western attention.

We often hear about Columbus. We hear of his great discovery, so to speak, but we don’t know that for 7 years he traveled to various kingdoms in Europe to find support. He was mocked, he was ridiculed. He was told, “It’s totally unrealistic! Your calculations are totally off, you’re wrong!” But he challenged his challenge unrelentingly.

And it’s the same in our lives. We will have challenges that come up against us, people who don’t believe in the dreams and visions that God has placed into you. They may be telling you, “It’s not really realistic. Your calculations are off!” But we have to fight the good fight of faith, and we have to be bold in our lives to challenge our challenges.

You know, last week after service – we usually stop at a little pizza shop before we get up to the training center up in Han Nam Dong – we went into the pizza shop, and the owner is such a nice lady. She is a nice Korean Catholic lady, in her 40s; she’s a very nice lady. I don’t even know her name but she’s the Sajang Nim (owner) – we call her Sajang Nim. She looked very down that day, very down for some reason. And so I asked her, “Hey! Sajang Nim, are you OK? You look kind of down!” And she said, “Yes, you know, I’ve been running back and forth from the cathedral, I’m Catholic. My aunt just passed away, so I’m kind of disconsolate right now.”

So we kind of left it at that, and we ordered our pizza. We were having a little pizza, and then I looked over and she was kind of sitting there at the table looking totally depressed, and she was like sipping on wine. She was sitting there totally depressed. And all the staff was around her on pins and needles, thinking, “My God, is she going to scream at us or something?”

So this was the kind of environment. And in that my heart kind of moved, and I said, “You know, Omma, I want to pray for her. I want to pray for that sister. We don’t even now her, I know that, but we’re ministers, I want to pray for her.” And so we finished our pizza, we went up to pay at the cashier, and as we paid we said, “Hey, Sajang Nim, you look kind of down.” Then she started talking, “You know, my aunt passed away. She was living alone. My mom also lives alone, so it’s a real big hit for me, and so it’s really tough.”

At that point I’m listening to her and my heart is racing. I’m thinking, “Oh my God! She is going to think that we’re totally insane! And my Korean is not even good! I’m going to mess up the prayer. She knows who we are and she is Catholic. She’s not going to accept my prayer. How can we pray in the middle of a busy pizza shop with all these people staring at us? It’s crazy!” I am sitting there,” Oh my God!” I’m listening to her saying “Yes”, but in my heart I’m saying, “Oh my God, this is crazy!”

But I challenged my challenge that day, brothers and sisters, I challenged it. (Shouts and applause)

I said, “Hey! You look really down. We’d love to pray for you,” and then she goes, “OK!” I said, “We’ll do it right here.” We ended up praying over that cashier in the middle of city Seoul, in the middle of a pizza shop in downtown city Seoul for the Sajang Nim that we don’t even know. (Applause) And it was so great! It was wonderful! Afterwards we were like, “My God, we did it, Omma.” We were high five each other. We were saying, “To God be the glory. Thank You so much!”

We ended up going back a couple of days later. We told our son about it. He said, “Hey! I want to buy her cupcakes.” So we ended up jumping on, going to get her some cupcakes. We ended up bringing her a little cupcake. He gave it to her. We just said, “Sajang Nim, we’re so thankful that we were able to be with you at that time.” She said, “You know, your prayer really meant a lot.” Actually my prayer was terrible. I did it in Korean, it was really bad. But it didn’t matter! It didn’t matter! She appreciated the heart. When we left she was so thankful. She was like, “Oh thank you so much guys, I really appreciate so much.”

In 2009 we have to ask ourselves what is our attitude. Are we saying,”This year is going to be worse than ever. It’s never going to get better. It’s over. We’re over. We’re never going to survive this slow down” nor are we speaking words of faith? “You know, God, I know You love me. You’re going to make me stronger through these tests. You know, God, You said, you’d never leave me. You said You’d never forsake me and I’m going to become stronger through 2009.” Are we saying, “God, You’ve done it before, in the past and I know You’re going to do it again this year.”? We have to learn how to have that challenging mind that’s challenging our challenges.

You know there’s a man by the name of George Foreman, a professional boxer. He turned professional in 1969. By 1973 within 4 years he was up against Joe Frasier, the world heavyweight champion. Everybody thought George Foreman would lose. They thought he was out, he would lose; he was the underdog. He downed Frasier 6 times in 2 rounds, and he became world champ at 24 years old.

But then, one year later, in 1974, Muhammad Ali who was also a great boxer knocked Foreman out, and he stole his title. In 1977 Foreman suffered a heat stroke after a fight and nearly died. For 10 years he left boxing. He became a born-again Christian, and he started doing ministry for 10 years. In 1988 George Foreman, 10 years out of the ring, at the age of 38 years, in a sport where people in their 20s dominate the sport – you understand this is not golf, they’re punching each other; these guys are 250 pounds, slamming each other, it’s not golf! – OK, he was 38 years old in this kind of sport. He comes back and says, “I’m going to start boxing again.” Everybody was saying,” Are you insane? You are crazy. You’re 38 years old, you want to go up against these 250 pound guys?”

After about 7 years, 1994, at the age of 45, he ends up challenging the world heavyweight champion, Michael Moorer. For 9 rounds they were battling it out. And there is Michael Moorer, huge 256 pounds, and he was pummeling George, pummeling him, brutalizing his face for 9 rounds. My God! It was painful to watch, very painful.

Let’s see that picture with Michael Moorer, look at George in the red trunk, those are the trunks he fought Muhammad Ali in. Here is George against Michael Moorer. Look, how huge that guy is! He is 250 pounds of muscles!

George Foreman, in the 10th round, lands a right hand in Michael Moorer. George Foreman is 45 years old; Michael Moorer is 27 years old. He knocks Michael Moorer down and out, becomes the world heavyweight champion at the age of 45! Let’s give it up for big George! (Applause) Oh my God! In 2003 he is inducted into the international boxing hall of fame.

Amazing story! See, Foreman made history that day. He did what was seemingly impossible. He became world champion at 45 years of age. Nobody believed him. They thought, “Foreman, you’re too old. You’re too slow, you’re too fat. You’re not going to be able to fight these guys. You’re out of shape; you can’t defeat these strong guys!”

But he challenged his challenge! He did not cower at his challenge. He stood up to his fear. He challenged his doubts. He challenged his naysayer. He even challenged his rational mind telling him, “George, you are out of your mind. You’ve got to go on a diet, son!” He was challenging that. He challenged those and he ended up making history for ever.

See, after the Israelites were free, Moses was fleeing from Egypt. The pharaoh said, “What have I done? We let them go, we lost all their services. Go and get them back.” He ended up sending 6oo chariots and officers and troops to raid the wandering Israelites who camped near the Red Sea. And so they came. Here they are descending upon the Israelites!

And Moses has a little challenge. On the one side he’s got a huge army coming to get him, on the other side he’s got a big old sea. “And now how do I get these people out of this assault?” See, with God’s help he challenged his challenge. He ended up believing in God, “I have faith in You.” We see the story that he parts the Red Sea and that God prepares a way of deliverance. Now whether or not that actual sea parted, that’s irrelevant. What’s more important is that in our lives, too, we have situations where we feel we’re trapped just like Moses, where there’s almost certain doom, and when we feel there’s no way out.

Moses definitely felt this way. He had on one side a very trained professional angry Egyptian mob coming to kill him, and on the other side, he has a huge raging sea.

And in our life, we are going to also have to cross some red seas. We have to be confident that with God’s help we can make the challenge, we can overcome the challenge, and we can challenge that challenge and find a way that no man could make.

See, in the last year here in Korea, we restructured the entire Korean church. We have over 323 churches here in Korea. All of the things have gone into restruction. Kook Jin Hyung especially, he started this incredible movement of transparency, of accountability, of professionalism. He started these 5 years ago. When he came to Korea the Chedang was at a 100 million dollars loss per year, and then within 3 years he totally revolutionized it with his leadership. He brought it to 50 million dollars profit in 3 years. Let’s give it up one time for Kook Jin Hyung. That’s incredible! (Applause) That is incredible! Incredible!

Why did he do that? What was his heart? His heart to start this was what? Of course he was working and thriving in his own business but Father drafted him. He says, “Father drafted me.” But what was his heart? His heart was, “We want to liberate the members.” The Japanese members, our brothers and sisters in Japan were really funding this loss. This foundation was losing and losing. And by turning around now (by now) he does not even receive a cent from Japan. His heart has always been, “We have to liberate the members, let’s truly make the Unification Church a wonderful place to be.”

And that’s our policy. It’s very simple. In the Chedang he has established a decision chain. And what that essentially is, is that he has authority as the Chedang chairman, but he has basically delegated his authority onto the chain so that any decision has to come through that chain in order for it to be approved, and then it finally gets to him. In other words, he has given away his power to trustable, accountable leaders that help him make the best decisions. And because of that leadership, because of that transparency, that accountability, that professionalism, that kind of result oriented leadership, we have seen tremendous and phenomenal things happen in the Tong Il Group here in Korea.

And that amazing result has also had great impact on the church. A lot of the great systems, in terms of financial professional management that he does in his professional world, he’s brought into transparently managing the church’s funds, the church’s things so that all people can also see where their donation is going etc… That’s all because of Kook Jin Hyung, all because of Kook Jin Hyung. All these developments that we see in the positive realm, it’s because of Kook Jin Hyung’s professionalism, because of his sweat and his tears that he shed for the members, because of him putting his neck on the line, to step up (saying,) “Let’s truly have the age of liberation come down to our church.”

I am so thankful to have a brother like that.

And in my own way I have learned from his leadership. We also on the church side have given away our power. We have given away our own authority. We have the authority for example to choose the regional directors in the whole Korean church, but we ended up giving that authority away to the ministers, and said, “You guys elect your regional directors, you guys elect them.” First time we had elections in church history! Then we elected women leadership in the HQ church. We can choose and designate who should be a woman leader. But we did not do that. We asked the women in the congregation, “Why don’t you guys choose, why don’t you elect the leaders?” They elected our leaders. We are so grateful they did, because they elected the best, incredible women leaders.

See, our authority also to control the finances of each one of those groups, we gave it away. We said, “Ministers, don’t touch it. Don’t control it. Let them deal with it, let them use it, let them spend it, let them make the plans.” Our whole focus is that whenever we have power, we give it away. Whenever we get some kind of promotion we give more away. That’s what has always been Kook Jin Hyung’s principle and that’s what we are doing in the church as well. We are trying to give it away to really elevate responsible leaders into the church.

See, Kook Jin Hyung helps us bring witnessing systems, management systems, accounting systems. And our entire movement from the church to the Headquarters to the foundation has never seen this much synergy in our church history. And we are developing and growing.

But see, I had one very big challenge here. As a fast growing church there is the danger of getting so bogged down in the management and systems for me that the religious leader becomes less religious and more of an organizational manager. Then the religion becomes sort of like a religious business. And this is the real thing that I have to watch myself in.

See, we can see that in the fast growing Christian churches. They start out with the ministers, very humble ministers. They’re praying to God day and night, “God, Father, please lead people to the church,” always making conditions and religious devotions, but watch this. As it succeeds, the minister gets so busy with administration, gets so busy in managing, and it’s so successful that he starts to see that if he follows the system, the results come.

Then he prays less, offers devotions less, and without knowing it, he’s losing his spirituality, losing his genuine religious heart, and he becomes a show man. And this is one of the big dangers of any fast growing church. This is something that we always have to keep in mind as we grow.

I realized that for 9 years God trained me to walk like a monastic path in spiritual training and devotion. Deep down in my heart, even though I do ministry, I was never convinced that just doing this kind of Christian style ministry was enough to bring UC to the world stage. I was never convinced. I’m still not convinced now.

Another problem was that in the last year, 60+ ministers in the Korean church retired, and many feel like they have no purpose any more in their lives. Many of them were falling into depression, and this was eating at my heart. And so I prayed and I prayed. I didn’t know how to solve this problem, “God how can I challenge this challenge? How do I solve this?”

And then the inspiration came. It came on the first day of the New Year. We were on the mountain top, 2:30 in the morning, with our ministers up there. We were training up in the mountain, and then all of a sudden the inspiration came. See, from now we will start seeing retiring from ministry at the age of 65 as a graduation into a more serious and a simpler, but intense blessed monastic path.

Those who did ministry for 33 +years and retired will be able to train with me, also in the world temple, in a serious but purely spiritual monastic training regimen. 10 hours every day from 2:30 in the morning until 6 in the evening after passing a rigorous 400 day test. Those who pass will be given the title Hoon Sa Nim or “teaching master” and there will be up to 8th degree master in this realm.

The children of the Hoon Sa Nims will substantially practice filial piety by providing the financial support for their parents to walk the path, to walk their dream, and the Hoon Sas will commute from training and home. Thus the retired ministers win for they will now have a sense of purpose in their lives. After 65 it’s not over. Their live is not over. “Might as well pass away now!” Not that, we still have things to do.

Retired ministers win. The children practice filial piety by supporting their parents’ dream. They win. The church wins twice because it does not have to ask members for more donations to support the Hoon Sa Nims. And it wins again because there will be serious, religious professional practitioners, training every day in the church, elevating its spiritual presence, and elevating its spiritual power.

See, this path is serious. It’s a rigorous training. It’s a huge challenge, and it’s through this training, though, I believe, through this pure religious devotional path, that we will prevent our movement from becoming a religious business.

These Hoon Sas will be like the monks and nuns of UC and will forever remind us that we’re not a business, but we’re a deep and serious religious tradition. In essence I tell them, “This training will save our movement from our own success.”

And as we move to the World Temple, I had a really big thing in my heart. This (current) type of ministry, this type of religious work, is not going to inspire the long lasting traditions, the traditions which have held monasticism in their ranks, the traditions that almost dominate the entire world.

In the World Temple we have to be in a position where we are guiding and inspiring all the different traditions of the world. But with this (present) level of ministry I did not see that happening. But with these serious religious professionals coming in, then we will allow the UC to have the spiritual authority to move and inspire and lead religious professional practitioners of the world’s great religious traditions, Buddhism and Catholicism etc..etc., these big traditions.

We will have the dynamism, the system assistance and of course the professionalism and the enthusiastic, fast growing ministry of what you will see in dynamic Christian Evangelical churches that grow quick. But also we will have the very serious practice and the serious practitioners, professionals that practice a very serious religious life.

And I’m so happy because, as you know, I went to a Catholic college for two years, I have a lot of Catholic monk friends and, of course, a lot of my monk friends are from Buddhism. And so I never could really introduce them anybody from our tradition who actually understands that kind of lifestyle.

But finally, because of this kind of retired ministers that are now walking into a path of Cheon Song, a path of this kind of family monastic training, really serious training, then finally I have somebody to introduce, I have somebody to brag about when I meet my monk friends. I’m so grateful for that.

See, that was a big challenge for me in 2009. How am I going to overcome that? How am I going to give these ministers a great sense of purpose again in their lives until they go to the spiritual world?

What can me learn today, brothers and sisters? Everybody in their lives will have challenges. 2009 will no doubt have challenges, but how you approach these challenges will be the key in your life. Will you be stuck between charging armies and a Red Sea and give up? Or will you plant your feet in and say, “I believe in myself and I believe in my God!” Will you say, “It’s over” because a few people turned you down like they turned down Columbus, or will you say, “You can’t stop me! God is asking me to do this!” and go forward. Will you give up on your challenge because naysayer around you are saying, “You’re too old, Foreman, retire, retire!” Or are you going to say, “Not this year, not in 2009. I’m coming up higher, I’m going to have more victory, I’m going to be greater for God, and I’m going to return it all to Him with abundance of glory!”

If you go forward with this attitude, I do believe we will find ourselves with more victory, more illumination and more peace. We will challenge that challenge and live that blessed life that True Parents have blessed us to live. If you receive it, let’s give it up for God and True Parents. (Applause)

Transcribed by: Rev. Beatrice Cylburn

Edited by: Rev. Bruno Klotz

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