That’s not Puddin:(

I urge you to behave with all humility, and gentleness, and patience. I urge you to bear with one another in love. I urge you eagerly to preserve that unity which the Holy Spirit can bring by binding things together in peace. -Ephesians 4:2-3

“It’s just not how it was meant to be” and “The proofs in the puddin'” are two of my favorite quotes because, to me, they capture the reality of life. Watching the twelve year old special needs child who lives in my home struggle in ways that my other three children do not, makes me think, “It’s just not how it was meant to be”. The cheese cake from the cat poop coffee shop is really good even though it’s sold by the same people who sell cat poop coffee. It’s clear to me that, “The proof is in the puddin'” Pudding could be something other than pudding, you will only know once you take a bite whether it’s cat poop or pudding. After following Jesus quite a few years, I feel that He often would say to people, “Hey, it’s just not how it was meant to be, BUT there is hope for it to be the way it’s supposed to be.” I notice that He is always challenging me and other disciples to truly follow Him and to be “really good pudding” rather than “cat poop” that looks like “really good pudding.”

In Ephesians 4:2-3, the Christian Church (body of Jesus Christ) is exhorted to place these five virtues in our pudding: humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace. We, the Church, are urged to preserve unity. When I look at the common picture of the Church, the description I find posted above the doorposts of the chapel and on the heads of the congregants often times seems lacking these five virtues. It seems that you can taste a hint of one or two of these, but it’s safe to say that it may be difficult to find a pudding full of all five. It’s just not “how it was meant to be.” I mean come on, the “proofs in the pudding” and we all know that it’s not “how it was meant to be.” So what, what do we do? We start with prayer. On our knees, together, we seek Jesus and ask Him to bless us, each of us, with His abiding presence. He is humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace. We must deny ourselves in a way that makes it clear to others that we know, that in comparison to Jesus Christ ,we… I, am nothing but a prisoner. Without Jesus living in me, I can and will only produce something that is not worthy enough to even call “cat poop”. BUT as Christ lives in me and in you, and as you and I deny ourselves and let Jesus reign and abide in us, He will make Himself known to those around us and He will be faithful to bring about unity in a way that we could not imagine. The body of Jesus Christ makes up all of those He indwells. This Body of Christ is ONE, and I can assure you, it is UNIFIED.

Let’s admit “It’s not how it was meant to be” and “The proof is in the pudding.”

Come and taste the pudding…

Looking forward to experiencing the Body of Christ the way it’s supposed to be,


“What if…”

hello everyone,

My name is Andrew Feng and I am a questionaholic. From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes, I’m asking myself questions the entire day. It’s hard for me to keep track of which questions I’ve asked myself and which ones I have answered. Sometimes I tell myself well it’s a 50% chance I’ll get it right. The other day, I read an article that estimated the human mind is processes 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day. That’s like a thought a second…per day! When I think of some of the questions I ask…

Why should I go to my work, why should I listen to my parents, why should I feed the homeless, why should I go to church, read the bible and the list can go on and on…

Some of the questions are important and some not so much. But I started to notice that all of the questions started with “Why should I…?” I began to realize my heart is so enamored with the idea of making myself the center of the universe and everything and everyone should revolve around me. Just in one week, I can easily recall a couple of scenarios:

  • When I am on the scooter…“Move out of the way, can’t you see I am in a hurry”
  • While I am sitting in the subway… “Do you not understand the meaning of personal space”
  • Sitting during worship… “Does anyone else hear that AV feedback/echo, I can’t worship like this”

I was in a small group discussion and one of the guys said the culture today promotes a “Me! Me! Generation.” Everything is “me” first, and everyone else second. I couldn’t agree with that more. Maybe that’s why the iPhones are so popular. But then I am reminded of a few verses from the bible:

  • Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Phil 2:3-4)
  • All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (Phil 2:21)
  • You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you…Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. (1 Cori 10:24)

These verses spoke to me deeply, what, die to self and live for others? I started to ask questions that started with “WHAT IF…” What would it look like if I listened to my parents, fed the homeless, and did what the bible commanded me to do? I started to love others more than myself and began to apply 2Corinthians 10:5 to my life: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Instead of saying I can’t, I began to say I could and that was all three years ago…

My wife Jeanette and I left a comfortable life that I spent 30 years building in Los Angeles and relocated to the other side of the world to explore our calling…Here in the rainy/humid city of Shanghai, it’s busy, hectic, tiring, but oh so crazy beautiful. What a special place we have learned to call home. We’ve learned that God doesn’t called the quipped, He equips the called.

Come join us at the Encounter 2014 retreat and learn more about the life that’s worthy of His calling!

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light”

– Andrew

No More Happy Meals

Do you know where you’d go if you died tomorrow?  Most of us have been asked or have asked this question before, usually by street evangelists.  They hope to confront people passing about their eternal reality and destination.  But, is that the right question?  Every so often it feels like it when someone we know dies all too suddenly, expectantly, and young.  None of us know how much longer we have left in this life, but in an effort to take seriously the fragility of life, we may have forgotten that being a follower of Jesus last more than a day or weekend.  I heard a Pastor and friend of mine phrase the question differently.  He poignantly asked, “What if you live another 40, 50, or 60 years?”  Yes, think about it.  What does it mean to follow Jesus faithfully for a lifetime?  I find myself juggling this issue every week with our youth church.  I want to be relevant and draw attendance.  I want to cater to the needs of  teenagers in a way that they enjoy church, and actually look forward to coming, maybe even want to bring their friends, but I also struggle with whether I have great attendance and still make life long disciples.

As I got older, meaning my mid twenties, I realized how awful my diet was.  When I was in high school, I worked for the now extinct Blockbuster (When people had to leave their homes to rent movies).  And yes they still rented VHS when I was 17.  To my delight the Blockbuster was next to a Taco Bell.  You can imagine that I consumed more Baja Gorditas than I am proud of.  Likewise, I remember Shaun Tai showing up to our weekly meetings with McDonalds in hand.  Whether your poison of choice is a Big Mac or instant noodles is not the point.  Given the choice, the average teenagers diet would resort to enough fast-food to cause my grandmother cardiac arrest.  And that’s exactly the point.  Sometimes our spiritual appetite prefers happy meals, but this kind of diet will result in diabetes, heart disease and premature death.

I grew up in youth group.  I went to a dozen retreats.  I went to Christian college and even seminary.  Many of my friends and peers went through the same experiences.  I watched them passionately worship God, their hands raised and tears streaming at the altar.  Somewhere along the road their faith was challenged or waivered and today too many of my peers are no longer followers of Jesus.  As I prayed about this retreat I dared to ask if we can do things better.  I asked whether we were feeding our youth happy meals or main courses.  As I prayed I was convinced we can do things better, we can prepare a meal or a retreat that has richer nutrients, that uses some more complex flavors.  As the youth leaders of this city began meeting and praying about this retreat, we sought the Lord on how look beyond tomorrow.  I can tell you I am excited about what God is doing among our fellowships and about the meal we’ve been working on called One Hope, One Heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I love myself an occasional McDonald’s quarter pounder, but you’re not going run a marathon on French fries and milk shakes.  Nor would you appreciate a bucket of KFC on Thanksgiving instead of a turkey.  Retreat should be a feast and we’ve been working hard on a menu worthy of a God who wants you to encounter him for a lifetime, not just a weekend.

34 Days and Counting….





It sounds like such a nice, easy concept. But the truth is, it’s actually really hard to do well! A group of people working together means work that wouldn’t otherwise be there—coordination, communication, compromise. When you split the work up, sometimes it ends up creating more work than if one person had just done it themselves!

You guys have all experienced this, haven’t you? You’re assigned a “group project” at school and in the end, one person ends up doing all the work. Or you try to have a planning meeting with others and end up postponing the meeting 15 times because one person or another can’t make it. Or you’re oh so close to making a decision and then one person has to insist on not agreeing and you’re back to square one.

So is it worth it? Is all the extra work that unity causes really worth it?

Check out this verse:

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!…There the Lord has commanded a blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:1, 3b)

Stop and think about it. If you could get ONE thing for whatever project you’re working on, what would it be? Unlimited money? Talented people? Instant inspiration?

I know what I would choose—God’s blessing. If the Creator and Ruler of the universe chooses to bless something, then it can never fail. And it can never be mediocre.

I am never a fan of extra work. For me, the benefit needs to greatly outweigh or at the very least match the amount of effort that needs to be put into something. But what kind of value can you put on the blessing of God? ANY kind of work that would bring his blessing would be worth it!

So this year for Encounter, we’ve made an intentional decision to plan and execute this retreat in unity, not just among our own youth groups, but among the Christian youth of the whole city. We are doing more cooperation and collaboration than has ever been done at a Shanghai youth retreat. And it definitely has been more work.

But it is SO worth it. As we open God’s call on us to unity, we know that his blessing will rest on us, like morning dew on the mountains (Ps 133:3). We expect greater things than we’ve ever seen before!

We invite you to join us this year, October 1-3, as we dive into all the blessings God has for us!

See you at retreat!!!!!