New Student Welcome Night: Take 11

25 08 2009

Once again, the time has come… I search for some music that people with a wide range of religious/non-religious backgrounds might be able to enjoy, and throw it out to our band. Each worship team member meticulously listens and studies to professional recordings of the songs to figure out their part, or at least come up with a passable substitute. We come together and try to put it all together and be “the band” that we’re charged with being. Richard D. gets a light show together to do whatever he can to make the way we look consistent with the way we’re supposed to sound. (And, boy, do we need the help!)

All this for a program to welcome new students to the UC Berkeley campus in hopes to introduce God and truth to them in the process…

gracepoint_berkeley_nswnThis year marks the 11th year that I’ve been put in charge of the music portion of our New Student Welcome Night. For the past few years, I’ve been asking our members, “Aren’t I getting too old to do this? I wasn’t cool before as it was, but now I’m OLD and not-cool!” This year, as I’ve put on a little weight, I’ve tried to modify my excuse to, “I’m too fat for this”, to little avail. Guys like Ander and Jon Chou try to reassure me, “No, no… you HAVE to do it. You’re cool! You’re not fat… just a little fluffy…”. But I can see right through all that, as I think they just don’t want to lead it themselves.

Seriously, though, I consider it a huge privilege to be right there at the start of the program, at the biggest outreach event of our church’s calendar. I consider it a privilege not because of the fancy program we can put on, with the conglomerate logistical and creative expertise from so many different parts of this church, but rather the whole reason we do it. I consider it a privilege because I know how so many of the salvation testimonies that God has blessed our congregation with have started with people getting introduced to the gospel through our NSWN. We have the luxury of having front row seats of our great and awesome God working in so many people’s lives, bringing them to know him and the salvation that he offers. That’s what fuels the excitement in the air for everybody involved, because we have much expectation of what’s to come, and how we can man up and partake in the harvest that God calls us to.

So, regardless of whether it’s a cool, young person leading the music time… or if it’s just “old and fluffy” me again, I’ll rejoice with greater anticipation of how we can help advance the ball up the field for the kingdom.

… year 11… I just hope I’m not still doing it when Jesse gets to Cal.

– James Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley Worship Director


Gracepoint Hsinchu: In the Deep End

19 08 2009

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to share with everyone an inspiring story about worship from Koinonia – Hsinchu.  As we all know, praise is something that can really help us connect with God, and good praise can really enhance a Bible study or a worship service.  But what do you do when there aren’t any musicians to lead the praise time?  Well, then it’s time for people to step up!

gracepoint_berkeley_chris_flagMy peer, Chris G, following a storied tradition of Koinonia – Hsinchu staff members, has stepped up to the plate and is now playing drums out there in Hsinchu, Taiwan.  Now, it isn’t like Chris is unmusical – he’s played clarinet for much of his life, but he’s never touched the drums before he decided to go to Taiwan.  However, a couple weeks before he left, he was asked to learn drums, and after having a couple of lessons from some of our regular praise band drummers, he headed to Taiwan and started his new career as a drummer!  Last I heard, he’s been able to keep a beat with few mistakes – and although he hasn’t learned how to do any fills yet – he’s really come a long way, and I’m sure he’ll improve a lot before this year is out.  It just goes to show that oftentimes the most important thing is not talent or prior experience, but just a willing heart to do what needs to be done.  And sometimes to be in a situation where you’re just thrown into the deep end doesn’t hurt!

Gracepoint Berkeley Chris Drums
Good luck, Chris!  We’ll keep on praying for you and the rest of the Hsinchu church.  Looking forward to playing with you when you get back.

– David T, Keyboardist for the Gracepoint Berkeley Worship Team

New Student Welcome Night 2009: Searching

12 08 2009

Summer has come and gone here at Gracepoint Berkeley, and suddenly, New Student Welcome Night (Aug. 26 & 27) is only two weeks away!

For those who don’t know, NSWN09 is the must-go event for new students every fall Welcome Week on the UC Berkeley campus. Sponsored by Koinonia, Acts2Fellowship, and Kairos Christian fellowships, NSWN09 is  a night of rocking praise, videos, skits, and a thought-provoking message. So if you know anyone coming to Cal this fall, tell them to come!

Here’s a video trailer for the event.

Congrats and a Lesson…

7 08 2009
Larry the Cucumber

The "real" Larry the Cucumber


Jon aka Larry the Cucumber

Last Saturday, Jon Chou (our lead bassist) got married to Carol Kim.  Just wanted to extend a message of congratulations to him, but also a lesson for all of us.  Anybody who knows him can testify that Jon is smart.  He got incredible scores on the LSAT and MCAT, scoring 99 percentile in both.  He is also extremely talented musically, seemingly able to play any musical instrument he touches.  And he also has perfect pitch.  When I was describing this to Joe Horness at our winter retreat last January, Joe said, “Wow. Don’t you just hate people like that?”  He laughed when I said that God is just in making Jon look like “Larry the Cucumber” from Veggietales.

But all of these things about Jon being impressive and all, what I respect the most about Jon is that those things don’t seem to be a big deal to him.  He shrugs it off as if they’re just the way that they are and that’s that.  Looking at his life and the tangible decisions that he’s made, I attribute that attitude to his relationship with Christ.  You see, you could be the smartest, wittiest, most talented person.  But being in a relationship with Jesus means acknowledging the fact that you’re a broken sinner, somebody who before the holy God deserves condemnation, who has received clemency and restoration from Him who gave his life to make it possible.  All the other things that may seem so impressive in this world simply fades into irrelevance as that resounding truth conquers you.  From what I know and can tell from Jon, that’s why he can have all that he does, and yet have his “it’s no big deal” attitude towards it, for which I think is God-honoring.

So, now that I’ve robbed some of Jon’s reward in heaven, here’s the lesson.  Whatever talents and skills you might have and put to use for God’s kingdom, if they are a “big deal” to you, then consider the possibility that in the work of honoring God through your “service”, you might actually be dishonoring him.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.”
— Psalm 51:16-17

I make this suggestion to anybody who is starting to participate in the Worship Team at Gracepoint:  Take a break from your participation to deal with God in what areas of pride or sin that God is prompting you to deal with, if you so need to.  Make sure you have regular, honest contact with spiritually mature people who know you and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, as painful as truth may tend to be.  Worship God with a contrite and broken heart, so that what comes out of your mouth and your actions actually means something honoring to Him, because really, that’s far more important that what you bring to the table with your talents and skills.

Coming from one whose pride and ego are always looking for food, my exhortation is this… bring yourself to a place where all the impressive things about you aren’t a big deal to you, simply because even if you didn’t have them, you know that you’re a forgiven sinner, and that is enough.

… even if you look like Larry the Cucumber…

– James Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley Worship Director

Praiseband Bloopers: Made Me Glad – Gracepoint Hsinchu Band

3 08 2009

Straight from Hsinchu, Taiwan comes our next in this series of praise bloopers. This is one of the most painful ones that we’ve got but just to give some credit to the Electric guitarist who is at Waypoint Community Church in Davis, Kan L. dropped his guitar right before praise started so he had no idea it was waaaay out of tune. But one has to wonder, why keep playing? Just stop right? And then that begs the question, why didn’t Jon who’s leading stop?

Well because they didn’t Gracepoint Worship blog presents Gracepoint Hsinchu’s very own rendition of “Made Me Glad”!