Author's details

Name: Joseph
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Jerad — December 17, 2014
  2. Joseph Yoo: Glory to Arstotzka! — December 16, 2014
  3. Joseph Yoo: A Conundrum of Sorts — December 15, 2014
  4. Joseph Yoo: Marvel, DC, Church and Vision — December 11, 2014
  5. Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Jin — December 10, 2014

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

Dec 17 2014

Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Jerad

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.

As soon as I hit the age of reason I became an atheist. Even though I’d been raised in a church, it was clear to me that nobody who took a moment to really examine life could honestly believe in a God. The church, I had concluded, was full of people who basically want to do good and be good and couldn’t accomplish either on their own. And while I held my pastors at my family’s Minneapolis United Methodist Church very affectionately and had never knowingly witnessed a “fire and brimstone” sermon, when I thought of a Christian leader my default image was culturally determined: an angry blonde man pounding a pulpit with his fist, spittle projecting from his open mouth. Despite the evidence of my personal relationships with intentional Christ-followers to the contrary, I knew Christianity to be something that fostered ignorance and hate.

Which is not to say that I honestly thought less of pew-sitting Christians, or that I held any particular anger toward God. At 13 I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and embraced her Objectivist architect’s attitude to best describe my own belief: Sure, there might be a God, but whether there is or not has no bearing on my life, therefore to live as though there is a God is a waste of energy. I nevertheless attended a great church youth group and enjoyed it as a sort of philosophical discussion club, humoring their faith-based assumptions and occasionally playing the devil’s advocate. Yet God, as an entity with whom I might have a relationship, was never relevant to me as anything other than a fun debate topic.

Perhaps through the turning of subconscious gears, divine intervention, or both, by 18 I had picked up two books that would prove instrumental in chipping away at my walls. Greg Boyd’s Letters From a Skeptic, with its assertion of the Bible’s “general historical reliability,” gave me intellectual permission to consider Christ-followers as people who were also capable of rational thought and who held rational defenses (even if weak) for their beliefs. C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, with its depiction of the devil as a corporate bureaucrat, painted Christian supernaturalism in a fashion that made me more curious about the Christian worldview. Screwtape’s assertion that the ones who lose their life for God receive back their personality and in fact become “more themselves than ever” addressed my fears of losing my identity or uniqueness should I ever subscribe to a religious belief. Perhaps a groundwork was being laid, but I had not yet changed any behaviors or beliefs.

As my senior year of high school went on I began to need to test some of the hypotheses we discussed in church group. I was in a rewarding-but-tumultuous relationship with a conservative Christian girl in which we regularly broke up over arguments about God – even if we kept getting back together. I had never been so close to someone who had taken God seriously enough to make (what felt like) significant life decisions whose criteria was chiefly interpretation of His will. I began to wonder whether my atheism had been donned too casually.

That year I was also being faced more brutally with the reality of a recently divorced parent’s worsening mental illness and impending homelessness. For the first time, I began experiencing academic woes. While I was popular, had a wide network of friends, and was immersed in formal and informal extracurricular activities, I increasingly felt alone in the world. I was always anxious and rarely slept.

One evening, lying in bed, heart and thoughts racing too much to allow any sleep for the nth night in a row, I decided to test prayer for the first time in years. I imagined there was a God, and I spoke conversationally to it. “God, I don’t believe in you, but if you’re there then please bring me peace so I can sleep, or help me make something out of my wakefulness.” Almost immediately my heartbeat calmed and I was able to get a couple hours of sleep in. I didn’t think much more of it after I woke up.

Ash Wednesday of 1997 was the final semester of senior year. It was to be one of the last special services that my church’s associate pastor, who had loved me through my parents’ divorce, would conduct. I had always liked Ash Wednesday and Lent because, while I didn’t put much stock in the resurrection, I greatly valued the ideals of discipline and self-denial. My whole life I enjoyed giving up things like Coke, chocolate, and negative thoughts for 40-day periods. This spring I had been so busy I had no idea what I was going to give up. Going into the service we are each handed pieces of paper and golf pencils. At one point the preacher said “write down what you want to give up to God this year.” I was still drawing a blank. Then he said to the congregation “if you don’t know what to write, then ask God what He wants.”

How novel. Pencil and paper in hand, I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and thought “I still don’t believe in you, God, but if you’re there and there’s something you think I should give up, then let me know. Amen.”

It’s not like my pencil started writing on its own, but immediately into my mind popped three words: arrogance, emotions, extraordinary. Unable to trace any mental trail that had led to them, and not sure how they applied to a season where you give up TV or candy, I wrote them down anyway. Because they felt so alien, so different from my normal thoughts, I began to consider whether these words were given to me by God. This thought led to wondering if that was how people experienced God – unverifiably and outside the 5 senses but real enough nonetheless? Which led to wondering if finding a way to somehow implement an application of these words to a Lenten period of self-denial was a sort of challenge that a God who maybe did exist was lovingly placing on my life. Which blew my mind and filled me with hope.

I didn’t convert on the spot, but this moment was the greatest of a series of blows to my atheist’s armor which ultimately led to my actively seeking and feeling a relationship with an all-loving entity that exists outside myself but communicates with me internally (and through various external means I have since experienced). I grew up in a Christian church and, once I understood God to be real, was content to apply the frame of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that I’d grown up with to this entity and these various experiences.

Jerad Morey is senior program and communications manager for the Minnesota Council of Churches and a 2006 graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and American University. He is also a freelance writer who often works for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Follow him at @Jerad on Twitter.

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Dec 16 2014

Joseph Yoo: Glory to Arstotzka!

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I've spent countless of hours on stupid, mindless games on my iPad.
I think I may be over compensating for the loss of my Playstation 3 and my reluctance to spend a boatload of money on a PS4. Though the heart covets.

First, I got hooked on FTL.
The game was as frustrating as it was entertaining. It came at a hefty cost (9.99) but I felt it was worth it. I certainly got a lot of mileage out of it. And still do.

Recently, I downloaded Papers, Please and I can't tell you how entertaining it is to be an Immigrant Inspector.

Apparently, there are 30 different endings. I've only seen 2 — one of them having me arrested and given the death sentence for aiding a rebel group. Oops.

I'm always down for time wasters — and obviously willing to pay a little bit for something that's worth it (Papers, Please is 7.99, but I got it for 5.99 for their release sale) — so if you have any recommendations, let me know.

In the mean time, Glory to Arstotzka!


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Dec 15 2014

Joseph Yoo: A Conundrum of Sorts

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As some of you may know, we’re in the process of discerning whether to adopt our foster son or not.
It hasn’t been an easy topic of conversation, as we keep going back and forth on what we should do. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the County makes the decision for us.

But in the process, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to be this kid’s dad permanently.
I’ve thought of some very important fatherly duties I must perform… like when is it a good time to introduce Star Wars to him? Someone may ask, “What if he doesn’t like Star Wars” to which the answer will be “Heathen! That question is irrelevant because he will like Star Wars.”
No child of mine will grow up not liking Star Wars.
My wife already got him rooting for the Cowboys. That’s a battle I lost. At the same time, I don’t have the heart for him to root for the team that has a racist name AND is just down right atrocious.

Anyway, here’s the conundrum: In the introduction to the wonderful galaxy of Star Wars, where do I exactly begin?
Do I begin like I did at Episode 4?
Do I even let him know that Episode 1, 2, and 3 exist? Or do I just tell him a backstory of those episodes and say, “If only someone made a movie about Anakin falling to the Dark Side — but use your imagination. Anything you come up with would probably be better than those movies, if they ever existed.” And I’d be telling the absolute truth.
Would it be a form of abuse to let him think it never existed? Or would it be a form of abuse to let him sit through Episodes 1-3? I know that it’ll be a form of abuse for me having to endure Jar Jar Binks…

Should I let him find out the dark truth that Darth Vader is Luke’s father and have him wrestle with that pipe bomb like we all did? I mean look at that kid’s expression in this video. He’s confused; surprised; sad; angry even:

I think that kid’s face pretty much sums up my experience with Episodes 1, 2 and most of 3. Except, I’ll add in “sick” on the list of symptoms.

Fatherhood’s tough…

PS. Mr. Abrams, please don’t go George Lucas on us with Episode VII.

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Dec 11 2014

Joseph Yoo: Marvel, DC, Church and Vision

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I’m not going to fact check what I’m going to write (here, we endearingly call that being Fox News). And I’ll probably totally mess up and write stupid, nonsensical things (we call that being CNN).

Now, I’m not that well-versed of a fan boy. I know enough to make me a geek or a dork. I don’t know enough to cross that line that makes you so geeky, you’re kind of cool (Joss Whedon, that’s my guy. And Kevin Smith — to a lesser extent).

Don’t underestimate the risk that Marvel took to get to where they are today in the movie business.
They had a vision and they stuck with it, regardless of the risks (and hundreds of millions of dollars) it might’ve involved.

They started their own studio (Marvel) to launch 3 phases of the cinematic Marvel Universe.
And to kick it off, they did it with Iron Man. Sure, Iron Man is a household name today, but he wasn’t that well known when Robert Downey Jr. (and what a great casting that was! Also a risk!) don the iron mask. He was a dark character, dealing with alcoholism.
Then to tie that movie to a bigger picture by introducing Nick Fury at the end?
I mean, what if Iron Man was going to be a bomb?

But it wasn’t. And they stuck to their plan — eventually leading to Avengers to end Phase 1.
They announced that Phase 2 will include a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy which included characters like a talking raccoon and his friend a “talking” and walking tree. I had to google who the Guardians of the Galaxy were. Then they announced the casting. Chris Pratt? Like Parks and Recs, Chris Pratt? And Bautista? The wrestler? I never liked him in wrestling! But man. That was an awesome movie. It blew me away and made me bitter towards George Lucas because Episode I, 2, and 3 could’ve (could’ve) been this cool and good.

In November, they announced an even more ambitious Phase 3.

They’re going to tackle the Civil War storyline, along with the Infinity War (!), while introducing Doctor Strange (Yay Benedict Cumberbatch!!!!), the Black Panther, Captain Marvel (yay a female lead that’s not Wonder Woman!) and the Inhumans (had to google).
And of course, ending each phase with an Avengers movie.

By now, Marvel has earned my trust in what they have envisioned. Most of the movies have been great (Iron Man 2, Thor 1, Captain America 1 do not exist in my Marvel Cinema Universe — other movies that never happened in my world: Jurassic Park 2&3, Back to the Future 3; Jaws 2, 3, 4; Star Wars Episode 1, 2, and parts of 3; Spider-Man 3; Amazing Spider-man 2; X-Men 3; Godfather 3; Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies; there’s more but next time…) And it’s been exciting to see what’s coming next and has me anticipating how they are going to tackle Civil War and Infinity Wars and the eventual cross over between Guardians and Avengers.

Then there’s the DC response. Man of Steel was mixed at best (I actually liked it — but I’m biased because you know, it’s Superman). Because of the success of the Avengers, it felt like DC rushed to put out a Justice League movie. They announced that the next Superman movie would be Batman v. Superman. Then they announced that Wonder Woman is going to involved. As well as Lex Luthor. As well as perhaps Aqua Man. And Cyborg. Maybe Green Lantern. And Flash. (I also like to note, while Marvel owns the movies, DC owns TV. Arrow and the Flash are great, great shows. But I also said that about Smallville — and I felt like I wasted 10 years of my life when Smallville was done). It just feels like they’re being reactive rather than proactive (a la Marvel). While every fiber of me is anticipating the Batman v. Superman movie, I’m weary that they’re trying to do way too much and it’s just going to be a disaster. Zack Snyder (director of Batman v. Superman) is no Joss Whedon (writer/director of Avengers).

I feel like a lot of churches embrace the DC method (being reactive) rather than the Marvel method (proactive and planning and visioning and sticking to that vision).

Marvel went in assuming that this could all blow up in their faces. But they had a vision and they believed that vision would work and went forth with it. DC rode on the waves of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and envied the success of Marvel’s cinematic phases — particularly the worldwide success of the Avengers.

Churches that are effective have a vision, are willing to take risk, are willing to be proactive (in keeping in line with their vision), and stick to that vision — from the leadership to the attender. The rest of us look at the success of other chuches and say, “They’re doing that. Let’s try that!” Sometimes it works. Most of the time it doesn’t. Because we may not have the resources or human power for that ministry. But mostly because what works for one church doesn’t mean it’ll automatically work for another. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to programming/ministry.

Vision is important.

But so is sticking to the vision. As Andy Stanley says, “Vision leaks.”
We need to constantly remind our folks what God’s vision for our church is. And be faithful and live out that vision.
We need to be intentional in our ministry aligned with what we believe God has called us to do.
Otherwise, we’ll be wasting time and resources by either trying to play copycat church or employ the Let’s-throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method. Neither, in the long run, are effective.

Where there is no vision, the people will perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

BTW. 2015 is going to be an awesome movie year. Avengers 2. Star Wars Episode 7. Oh man. I’m so excited and I can’t hide it.


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Dec 10 2014

Joseph Yoo: #whyIbelieve: Jin

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. 

Why Do I Believe? The answer now for me is because I choose to believe that the Bible is true. Granted, the caveat to the previous statement is that the best way to interpret the Bible is to read it in its original language (Greek/Hebrew), and that understanding is revealed/discovered to us when God chooses to. Which would mean that I have near zero understanding of the Word compared to others, and would still mean that I would be “blindly” following the Christian Faith (Please remember the previous sentence).

Looking back at the last 2 decades of my life, I have definitely been believing in Christianity blindly. From the day I was born I have been indoctrinated, taught, and programmed to believe that this whole God/Jesus/Spirit thing was real. It wasn’t till I was 12 that I chose to believe that the gig was real. Even then, my faith was based on… faith.

For 21 years I believed in something based on feeling and emotion. Both attributes that I think are powerful gifts from God, but due to our human nature they float around like a feather in the wind. For that reason I found myself disliking revivals and the emotional alter calls to come forward to receive prayer/salvation (even if they were very necessary and/or genuine).

During this phase of my life I believed– and still believe– that I was a sinner. Jesus, who is part of the Godhead, died for me and therefore, I am saved.

Frankly, that is all you need to be saved.

However the answer “Jesus died for my sins, and therefore I am saved” wasn’t enough of an answer for me as I try to answer the question “why do I believe?”.

While I believe that logic and reason are futile in the grand scheme of things, they are the things that solidified my faith.

I previously grounded my faith on emotion alone which was unstable, at best.

But I have discovered that my faith is stronger when rooted in the Bible.

I also believe that God gave us reason, logic, and intellect to be partnered with emotion in our relationship with Him. We are to use both our mind and our hearts in our faith.

I choose to believe in God because I fully believe with the core message of the Bible.

Now I have written in the first section to remember the sentence “Which would mean that I have near zero understanding of the Word compared to others, and would still mean that I would be “blindly” following the Christian Faith”.

I am not as educated as others and I have no grasp on Hebrew or Greek.

I also believe that not everything in the Bible makes sense and there exists a fallacy in my statements about faith rooted in the Word.

However, I’m inclined to believe that science requires “faith” as does religion.

Nowadays, we believe that matter can be in two places at once; time is not constant; Newton physics turned out to only to be approximations; Pluto went from being a planet to not.

We are still discovering things in the scientific world and rely on theories until they are proven.

I believe that there are still (new) things that are being revealed and discovered about God. And the things that have been revealed already through the Bible, for me, it makes sense to me. I admit that I have not analyzed or cross checked every single line and word in the Bible. But I also haven’t done that with other areas in my life either.

So there is my reason of why I believe what I believe. It isn’t as inspiring, nor is it dramatic. It’s just a guy that reasoned that God active in this world makes much more sense than God not existing.


Jin Yoo went to Moanalua High School in Hawaii. His family relocated to El Paso, TX where he attended college. He currently finds himself back in the Aloha State serving in the Army. 

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Dec 05 2014

Joseph Yoo: More Than 140 Characters

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As I prepare sermons on themes of hope (last week) and peace (this week), joy (next week), and love (week after next) I can’t shake off the deep sadness that is weighing my heart down. I’m struggling to find words and the idea of standing in front of my congregation — a few who can’t even fathom why recent events are heartbreaking — feels more like an obligation and burden than joy.

But this is not about me. It’s never about me. And I’m trying to make it all about me.

And perhaps that’s why I feel the way I feel.

In the words of David Crowder “there’s no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”

Lord, in your mercy…

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