Author's details

Name: Joseph
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Chris — January 21, 2015
  2. Joseph Yoo: Mind, Body, and Soul — January 19, 2015
  3. Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Katie — January 14, 2015
  4. Joseph Yoo: Buzz, Your Girlfriend! Woof! — January 13, 2015
  5. Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Sung — January 7, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: So. Is God a Republican or a Democrat? — 2 comments
  2. Joseph Yoo: That’s Enough! — 2 comments
  3. Joseph Yoo: He Is Out of His Mind — 1 comment
  4. Joseph Yoo: Non-Negotiables Part II — 1 comment
  5. Joseph Yoo: Non-Negotiables — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Jan 21 2015

Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Chris

Original post at

If you want to contribute to this series and share your story, please email me at pastorjosephyoo(@)gmail(.)com, without the parentheses.

Ever since I was young I loved to draw. It was always something that my brothers and I loved to do long as I can remember. What was interesting about this hobby of mine was that I was not forced to pursue art by my parents as another skill I could put down in my future applications to college (e.g. violin, piano, tennis). No, I discovered my love of drawing and art on my own and it has stuck with me the longest out of all the other activities I was forced to do as a child (to this day, I still cannot stand the sound of a violin). Growing up, I never thought about why I loved to draw, but thinking back on it now, I see it as a small sign of how God exists in me.

Before even writing this blog, I, like most followers of Christ, went through a time where I began questioning my faith. I had been a faithful church-goer ever since birth. I was born into my home church where I still continue to attend today. The same church where my mother is a deacon and my father serves as an elder. Church and God were a huge part of my social life and family life. However, in college is where my faith was tested and I began to look for answers in campus ministries and small groups. Even though I plugged myself into a ministry and surrounded myself with Christian friends, I found these attempts to be fruitless. I had entered college with a small seed of cynicism that had taken root from serving a church for my entire childhood. Church was all I knew, and I felt burned out from using church as my social life instead of my spiritual life. By the time I entered college, that seed had grown into vines that suffocated any desire to meaningfully and spiritually be part of a ministry.

However, I never stopped believing in God. The time away from the church community and social life allowed me to meditate in a way, on my own faith. This is where I affirmed my belief in God and his existence. Due to the workload at college, I hadn’t found the time to draw in a long time. One night in my dorm room alone, on a whim, I decided to take some time and sketch again. Once I started to draw I quickly became absorbed into my work, only stopping once I had finally completed transferring my vision onto that piece of copier paper. It was then that I felt that this must have been how God felt while creating us. God created us in His own image and I see that in the innate human desire to simply create for the sake of creating something beautiful. I mean sure, beavers can make dams, monkeys can be taught to paint, and birds can stack twigs to impress a mate. But humans are the only ones that yearn to create and appreciate all forms of art. Some even devote their entire lives for the sake of art. I realized that I had been looking for proof of God in the wrong place. For too long I tried to find Him in my church friends, in my retreats/revivals. I only had to look inside myself and see that He was inside me my whole life.

I believe in God because I see God in all of us. It may not show the same way for some people as it does to me, but I see it in our actions, our values, and our love.

Chris Chi is a talented young man, currently living in Virginia. He has a wicked sense of humor that he shares with his brothers (a twin and an older brother). Chris works at Perfect Sense Digital. 

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Jan 19 2015

Joseph Yoo: Mind, Body, and Soul

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I resolved to improve three areas of my life this year — and try my darndest to stick with it.


So, the doctor tells me that I really need to watch my consumption of all good and tasty food (read: junk food). My bad cholesterol is still really high. But now, I’m dancing around in the pre-diabetes range when it comes to glucose. Yay. But really, more than watching what I eat, I need to exercise more. I simply don’t exercise enough. It’s embarrassing how often I don’t reach my daily goal of 10,000 steps a day. Even more embarrassing is how woefully under 10k I am when I call it a night.
So, I resolve to walk more; run a bit; make use of this gym membership that’s collecting dust; simply, stop being lazy and be active.


24 books for 2015. That’s my goal. It’s not much, really. But 24 seems like a good, even number.
And I’m not limiting it to just church/faith/ministry related books, but books in all genres. Basically I want to spend more time reading books than watching silly television shows (not that I’m giving up on TV completely. I need my stories!)

This post by Jon Acuff and this by Austin Kleon helped me reframe my approach to reading for 2015. First is the permission to stop reading when I’ve lost interest in the book. I often force myself to finish a book, even when I find it utterly boring and don’t pay attention to what I’m reading. I feel guilty leaving a book unfinished. But that’s silly. If it can’t hold my interest, I’m shelving it and moving on to the next book. Secondly, instead of focusing on the ever growing amount of books on my To-Read shelf, I’m going to shift my focus on creating a shelf-space for Finished! books for 2015. I can already add 1: (Whoo!) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. And it was a great book. I’m more than halfway through The Martian by Andy Weir and not only am I thoroughly enjoying it, but I wonder how this is going to look on the big screen (I think Matt Damon is playing the main character). I’m also midway through The Renegade Gospel by Mike Slaughter, which will be our Lenten study and sermon series. And a friend got me Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Ekblad and while I was initially disappointed that this had nothing to do with zombies, I’m looking forward to reading it after I finish Mike Slaughter’s book. Hopefully by giving myself permission to be okay with not finishing a book and focusing more on my growing Finished! list of books from my ever growing to-read list, I hope to read at least 24 books this year.


Before Christmas Eve service, I went to church hours before service was going to start. I sat in the sanctuary getting things prepped and ready for the worship celebration. It was so quiet, I took a few minutes to just sit and observe just how quiet and still everything was. I took a moment to catch my breath and I realized that I hadn’t done that in a while. In that time of just being quiet, I felt my heart grow with wonder. I don’t think we, as clergy, take enough time to ponder the health of our souls. Sure, we go around asking, “how goes your soul?” but I feel that we rarely ask ourselves that question.
One way I will tend my soul is to stay offline until 900am.
The purpose of that is to frame my day correctly. The first thing I do when I wake up is to reach for my phone and check emails, social network updates, and so forth. I’m already in “go” mode, and I’m still lying down in bed! Besides, your entire day can be ruined by reading a stupid email first thing in the morning and nobody needs that. Those emails and updates will be just as ready for me at 900am as they are when I get up at 530am. Just kidding. I can’t get up that early. And no, I don’t resolve to get up early. Instead, as Adam Hamilton suggested, the first thing I’m going to do is to pray, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Let’s start the day off right, you know? Instead of reading email or Facebook notification first thing in the morning, remind myself that I am God’s and commit myself to be used by God that day and everyday. (and though these posts may go live before 9am — they’re written at least a couple of days, some times weeks before they go live)

I also intend to take time throughout the day to be filled with wonder. I can’t tell you how much Abraham Heschel’s prayer “I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder” impacted my heart and I find myself praying to be filled with awe and wonder rather than being overtly successful. And I’m inclined to think that’s a very good thing.

So here’s to 2015!
May your year be fruitful and filled with wonder!


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Jan 14 2015

Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Katie

Original post at

If you want to contribute to this series and share your story, please email me at pastorjosephyoo(@)gmail(.)com, without the parentheses.

The ground is cold and rocky. My comfort-max sleeping bag is bringing no relief. But the pain I will endure tomorrow morning, does not matter. The nearly seventy middle schoolers and twenty other volunteer leaders, spread across the hill at Camp Manidokan in Knoxville, Maryland are silent. Perhaps sleeping, perhaps in awe. How could they not be in awe?

The heavy sound of breathing fills my ears, but I can’t close my eyes. The remote camp provides darkness, a clarity of the heavens that can only be achieved away from the lights of the city. As I lay flat on my back, I am in awe at the heavens unfolding before me.

It looks fake. Like something you would see in a movie. There is no way that this is real. The beauty of infinity. The majesty of the heavens. The greatness of our God.

And there it is. The reality, the truth that speaks to my soul. This is not all by accident.

Why do I believe in God?

How can I not? There is too much detail, too much creativity, too much love, too much majesty for all of this to be an accident.

I see it in the majesty of the night sky. How great is our God?
I see it in the beauty and innocence of my two daughters. How great is our God?
I see it in the kindness of a kid in my youth group, raking leaves and mowing the lawn of one of the church saints. How great is our God?
I see it in the generosity of a stranger, sharing a meal with a man she just met who finds a place to sleep on the streets. How great is our God?
I see it in the hope of heaven, as a grieving widow offers peace to those who walk the same grief path. How great is our God?

There, laying on campfire hill, staring at the majesty of God’s creation, there is no denying it. How great is our God!

And then the giggles come.

They always come at the most inopportune moments. And tonight is no different. All the teenagers are asleep. The volunteers are asleep. Tomorrow is going to be a full day at summer camp as we witness the love and grace of God. But here in this moment, I can’t help it.

How great is our God? And I giggle. As if the heavens and I have some sort of secret. And then the giggle moves to my belly and I am laughing out loud.

Teenagers are stirring. Adults are sitting up staring the darkness. My husband – who is used to this kind of shenanigans – hits me with a pillow. The camp staff starts yelling.

But I can’t help it.

The laughter has become contagious and now they are singing with me… How great is our God?

Rev. Katie Bishop – Katie Bishop is wife to Chris, mom to Eden and Bethany, and pastor to the amazing community of faith that is New Hope United Methodist in Brunswick, Maryland.

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Jan 13 2015

Joseph Yoo: Buzz, Your Girlfriend! Woof!

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In the first Home Alone, after he gets into a fight with his older brother, he's forced to go to bed early.
His mother says, “Just stay up [in the attic] I don't want to see you again for the rest of the night.”
Kevin responds, “I don't want to see you again for the rest of my whole life. And I don't want to see anybody else either.”
“I hope you don't mean that. You'd be pretty said if you woke up tomorrow morning and you didn't have a family.”
“No, I wouldn't.”
“Then say it again. Maybe it will happen.”
“I hope that I never see any of you jerks again!”
(Sorry, I couldn't find a clip of this scene on youtube).

Growing up, talking back was never an option. I mean I got in real big trouble (read: spanked) for just rolling my eyes.
So I lived vicariously through this white boy that could express whatever he felt to his parents and all he got was to be in his room. That sounded more like a reward than a punishment. But I never dare try that with my parents. I'd be lucky to have a house to sleep in. I think I'm kidding…

Kevin McCallister was a big hero for the 10 and 12 year old me (that's how old I was when Home Alone 1 and 2 came out, respectively).

I caught parts of the first Home Alone this past Christmas season, particularly that scene.
20 years ago, I would've cheered for Kevin.
34 year old me looked at him and thought, “What a miserable, entitled, little punk!”

And then it hit me: “Uh oh. I'm old.”
When you start agreeing with the parents of movies geared to children, you've hit a new stage in your life.

Similarly, my wife and I were watching SNL (the day after, because we don't like to stay up that late on Saturday night — another sign that we're not as young as we'd like to be), One Direction was (were?) performing.

She looked at me and asked, “So, which one of them is this Harry Styles everyone seems to be talking about?”
So I googled One Direction – oh who am I kidding. I actually knew who he was. But he's the only one that I actually know the name of. Not that that helps my case… And if I'm being honest here, I only know who he is because of Taylor Swift. I know, I know. I'm making things worse for myself. My taste in music is not as bad as you may think. I love Nickelback. #sarcasm. #nobodylikesnickelback.
“The one in the middle, with the long hair,” I explained.
“Oh. That's him? I don't get it. I just don't get it. Actually, I don't get any of them.”
“I think that's the point. We're not supposed to get it. And the moment we start thinking they're cute, we become the middle aged moms who are more excited about the Twilight movies than their young daughters.”

I actually have no real point to this post but to reflect on my getting older and more out of touch with “pop culture.” At this point, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

But do me a favor. If you actually know me, please don't let me become that guy who's acting way too young for his age. Please call me out if I'm wearing things like Ed Hardy shirts (or just dressing way too young for my age — but superhero t-shirts or t-shirts in general don't count) or forcing vernacular that is not meant for folks my age in conversations.

May I continue age with whatever dignity I can muster.

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Jan 07 2015

Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Sung

Original post at

If you want to contribute to this series and share your story, please email me at pastorjosephyoo(@)gmail(.)com, without the parentheses. 

The first time I went to church was when I was about four or five years old. I don’t remember anything other than the fact that I went to church with my family. After that day, my family would drag me to church every Sunday.

I learned about God, Abraham, David, Samuel and other Old Testament heroes but I never once learned about Jesus. The teachers may have taught Jesus while I was in Sunday School but I don’t remember learning about Him there.

So I always knew about God and did believe that He was a part of my life. I believed the fairy tale that this all-powerful being would care about me and my life. For some reason, I knew that He loved us and cared for us despite the struggles my family went through.
It wasn’t until the beginning of middle school when I learned about Jesus and learned about His love and sacrifice for all people. During that retreat, in the winter of 2002, I committed my life to Jesus, not knowing what I was getting myself into. From then on, it was a journey of ups and downs that has made me who I am today.
So why do I believe in God?
I believe in God because He has been there with me through everything. After my father passed away, God the Father took his place.
I believe in God because I wouldn’t be here without Him. He’s always been there to fulfill my needs and direct me in the right path. It may sound corny and fake, even,  but that’s how I feel and that’s what I believe.
God has been everything to me and my family for a long time. He’s great and always has been great. I believe in God and in Jesus because there is no else worthwhile. There is nothing else for me.
Sung lives in Hawaii and is a graduate of the University of Hawaii – Manoa. Sung truly has a heart for God and God’s people. You can follow Sung on his twitter. Sung has already written a post for this blog before. 

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Jan 06 2015

Joseph Yoo: The Comedian, the Pastor, and the Detective

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Sounds like the making of a (great) joke.

By the time you read this, I should be well on my way down south for a little break.
I also had some posts I was going to write regarding some of the “resolutions” I'd like to make for 2015. But I left behind my iPad (which I use for 100% of my writing these days) when I went to visit my parents for the new year. Now it just seems silly to dedicate a whole post to what I want to accomplish this year.

On Inside the Actors Studio, the guests are asked 10 questions by host Lipton, one of them being: “What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?”

I've given a lot of thought to that question. Not because I don't like what I do, but because I'm curious: What else could I do?

I had aspirations in college to pursue psychology. But God got in the way of that.
I've had different dreams of professions throughout my life: writer; comic book/graphic novel author; astronaut; caveman; cartoonist; shoe expert; and so forth.

But during this phase of life, I like to think that if I wasn't a pastor, I'd be a comedian or a detective. Or attempt to be.
Stand-up comedy has always been fascinating to me — particularly when you're on the Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Prior, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin level. People forking over a boat load of money to hear you… talk. About your experiences. And enjoying it. I love Seinfeld's new “show” Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I just like to see how these comedians's minds work and operate and how they find humor in the mundane things or in the most painful moments in their lives.

Then there's the detective. And, I don't want to be any 'ole detective. I want to be a detective like those on TV — like Matthew McConaughey's character in True Detective. Or more accurately, I want to be like John Luther from Luther.

I like to do the dishes while watching random shows on Netflix. Often times I get so engrossed in what I'm watching, my wife complains that the dishes haven't been cleaned thoroughly. And “It's clean enough” is NOT the response she wants to hear.

I started watching Luther and couldn't stop. Idris Elba's Stringer Bell was one of my favorite characters on one of the best TV shows ever: The Wire. So I watched it on a whim because of Idris. And got hooked. After the series was done (only 3 seasons?!?), I found myself wanting to be a detective like him. I'd probably make a terrible detective, anyhow. Details aren't my strength — as you may have noticed in all the grammatical errors that are littered throughout my posts.

And as for a comedian, doesn't help when you think you're the funniest person you know. When you have to tell people you're funny, you can't be that funny. But trust me, I'm funny.

All that said, I find fulfillment and joy in the calling that God has placed in my life. I honestly can't tell you if I see myself in parish ministry for the rest of my life. But, why fret on such things at this point in my life? Who knows what path my life will take 5 years; 10 years; 20 years from now.

But right now, God has called me and placed me in beautiful Santa Barbara, where I am honored and proud to call myself the pastor of St. Mark UMC.

And as of this moment, I'm probably on the road somewhere enjoying a little time off.
I'll see y'all when we get back.

May your 2015 be filled with love, grace, and adventure!


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