Archive | January, 2011

Fuller Forward!

25 Jan


(Fuller Board Members in meeting)

 I’m in Pasadena, CA today. “Fuller Forward” is the new rallying cry of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, on whose Board of Trustees i sit. We meet for 3 days, 3 times a year.

It’s stimulating to be on such a great Board of one of the largest, cutting-edge seminaries in the world. With its teaching and its alumni, Fuller touches more than 100 different denominations in 70 countries.

There are 35 Trustees on Board, including pastor/author John Ortberg, Christianity Today Editor Andy Crouch, college Presidents Gaylen Byker (Calvin College), Shirley Mullen (Houghton College), Nathan Hatch (Wake Forest University), various business people, pastors and sex therapist Dr. Cliff Penner (I told you it’s a cool Board! When the meeting gets boring, I just talk to Cliff.) In fact, there are 4 therapists on the Board, so our meetings are always quite civil, affirming and therapeutic! A diverse group like this alerts Fuller to what really helps families and churches.

Dr. Billy Graham was one of Fuller’s original Trustees when Charles E. Fuller founded the seminary in 1947.

The Board’s responsibilities are heavy. It oversees the education of 4,000 students and is strategically positioned to train leaders all over the world.

I have two degrees from Fuller. Most of my pastoral staff at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu have Fuller degrees as well. And so do nationally-known pastors Rob Bell, Rick Warren and John Piper. Hawaii pastors with Fuller degrees include Waxer Tipton (Calvary Chapel), Guy Higashi (Foursquare), and James Marocco and George Nagato (Assembly of God). Many others are working on finishing their Fuller degrees like Elwin Ahu, Aaron Cordeiro and Gary Langley.

Even Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie took one class (on Dietrich Bonhoeffer) from Fuller, so I guess that makes him an alumnus, too.

There are lots of great technological & curriculum changes for the future to train even more people at Fuller. It’s an exciting time indeed as we cry out, “Fuller Forward!”


Fuller Library



Dan and Cliff Penner 



Dan and John Ortberg 



Fuller mall

Look who I’m with at Fuller

24 Jan


I’m at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA with long-time friends John Ng (left) and Peter Chao, co-founders of Eagles Communications in Singapore. I’ve known them for 25 years. Such a joy to do ministry with friends like these over the long haul. We have done ministry together in Shanghai, Singapore, California & Hawaii. It’s not just ministry that binds us. Over these 25 years, we’ve become friends and have created a community that stretches beyond oceans.

Pictured with the Pros!

14 Jan


Pro Golfer Vijay Singh practiced at our church golf course today as the Sony Open begins tomorrow.


Pro Golfer Charles Howell III was there too. One thing I share with Charles: we’re both active Presbyterians. Four things I don’t share with Charles: He is ranked in the top 15 of PGA golfers;  he won the Michelob Open in 2002 and the Nissan Open in 2007; his career earnings since 2000 are $19 million. I wonder if I can get him to tithe at our church.

Food For Thought (just some random stuff)

13 Jan


People recently asked me these questions and so here are my answers. Truly food for thought.

Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: Spaghetti! It just reminds me of my childhood. I love hamburgers, too. I live in lower Manoa, and the spot where the Tsukuneya Japanese Restaurant is today on the corner of University Avenue and Dole Street there used to be a place called College Inn. As a little boy I would walk over there to have one of their 30-cent hamburgers and a 5-cent orangeade soda. I remember thinking, “I can eat this everyday for the rest of my life!”

  Today, as I cut down on red meat (due to the fact that my body doesn’t eliminate iron very well), I have shifted to veggie burgers. But, of course, the fun memories of College Inn remains.

  Q: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
A: Acai juice, spaghetti sauce, cutie oranges, Fresca, lentil soup, soy milk (to go with my cereal), apples and oranges, guava jam, lilikoi butter, ketchup, and mango chutney.

  Q: What’s your favorite restaurant to go on a date with Pam?
A. Pam and I recently went to Orchid’s at the Halekulani Hotel. If we could afford it, La Mer. Went there once or twice. I also like Le Bistro. Love Longhi’s because of the good food and it’s quiet enough for conversation. We try to always have a Thursday lunch date since that is my day-off. And those lunches are always on the mid-range price. We love Thai food, Vietnamese food and ramen. We rarely do dinner dates so we can be home with Quinn.

Meet the HIM Board of Directors

13 Jan

Recently met with the Board of Directors of Hawaiian Islands Ministries (HIM) … the coolest, wisest, entrepreneurial Board of the century! We had a visioning retreat, the first one in many years. And all were present!

HIM has a lot of great plans coming down the pipeline, so get ready!

We are looking forward to “Straight Talk,” a luncheon where guest speaker Mark Platte (Hawaii News Now News Director) will give a talk on faith in journalism. It hits the issue on 2 sides: What is our faith in the the state of jounalism? Will it last? Is it fair? How does one share one’s faith in God in journalism?

And then there’s the HONOLULU 2011 conference, which rolls into town March 24-26 at the Hawaii Convention Center. Looking forward to seeing you at both events!”


Front row (L-R): Dan Chun, Pam Chun, Miriam Hellreich, Tracie Ann Tjapkes, Mitch D’Olier, Howard Hodel.
Back row (L-R): Jeff Schulte, Mary Vinson, Gill Berger, Larry Langdon, Kirk Leavy, Don Parker.


11 Jan

Pam and I saw the movie, “The King’s Speech,” and I highly recommend it. It’s the true story of England’s Albert, Duke of York (played by Colin Firth), who eventually becomes King George VI in 1936. But Albert has a problem; he stammers. He’s had this debilitating speech impediment all his life, something he needed to overcome. He must give public speeches to inspire his people, especially at a time when Hitler and Nazism are on the rise. So his wife arranges for him to see an eccentric speech therapist named Lionel Logue (played by Academy award winner Geoffrey Rush). And the movie revolves around Albert’s encounters and friendship with the therapist.

The movie is rated “R” due to some bad language, but it’s worth seeing. It shows how deep and rich friendships are made and how everybody needs a mentor, even a king.

I think the most talented people have always had a mentor, including Tiger Wood who had a golf mentor. Perhaps Tiger has also shown us how we all need SPIRITUAL mentors as well so our lives can be full, healthy and Christ-centered. But it takes a desire for excellence and the absence of arrogance to achieve this.

I remember how San Francisco 49er Joe Montana won quite a number of Super Bowls and MVP awards, but in training he always wanted to be coached. Some thought that was unusual for a star player, but maybe that is why he played so well for so long.

Wanting to be coached is a sign of humility. If we are humble we will acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers and that we need help. The stakes are too high if we don’t get coached or help from others. We face daily challenges in our jobs, finances, health and relationships. These cannot be overcome unless we have a mentor who can coach us on how to get through them.  

Small Group members can be coaches to one another. Pastors can be, too. And there are many in our congregation who would love to mentor someone if asked.

But it takes humility, even in a Duke or King, to ask for help. Without mentors we will all stutter step and stammer on the principles of healthy living.


44 years ago today, January 5th, I accepted Jesus Christ.

6 Jan

Dan preachingMy sister had shared with me the Gospel using the Campus Crusade for Christ booklet, “Four Spiritual Laws,” but it wasn’t till two months later that I made the decision to accept Jesus into my life.

 On this day today, nearly four and a half decades ago, I prayed a simple prayer: “Jesus, if You really are who You say You are, then come into my life.”

 As you can see, it wasn’t a real definite prayer like, “Come into my life, as I know you are my Lord and Savior and Friend, and I want to be born again and be washed in the blood of the Lamb.” No, my prayer was tentative, but with a hand up. And yet the Lord took my baby steps and grabbed my hand.

 What have I learned in the last 4 and-a-half decades?I have learned of Jesus’ immense grace and comfort. He is indeed the God of the Second Chance, or make that, the God of the Infinite Next Chance.  

 Having gone through the painful adolescent years of a new believer, a divorce, an “F” in New Testament class in Seminary, a miscarriage, a near-death through disease of our youngest child, hurting betrayals of friendship, and being told while in seminary that I shouldn’t be a pastor, I have seen time and time again that God is trustworthy. He brought me out of the ashes like the mythical phoenix.
There’s always a new chapter. A few weeks ago, Pam and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. Not only do I have a wonderful wife, we now have 3 healthy kids who love the Lord.  The seminary I got an “F” at is where I now serve on the Board of Trustees.  God has given me a bouquet of wonderful friends. And, by God’s grace, our church is one of the largest in our denomination and it keeps growing in spite of me.

 I have also learned the truth of Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be afraid for I am YOUR God. I will help you. I will strengthen you. I will lift you up with My victorious right hand.”

 I need not ever be afraid. And God is not a god who’s way out there and who doesn’t care. No, He is MY God. He wants a personal relationship with me.  And though life is not all about me, He will help me and strengthen me and will lift me up with His hand that is always victorious, though I may not see it that way all the time.

 I have also learned that physical and emotional healing is for today. I used to think that the miracles in the Bible, especially the physical ones, were only in the days of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. I know that Jesus instructed His disciples to “preach the good news, cast out demons and heal the sick (Mark 6:12 & 13). But for years I concentrated only on the first item on that list, bypassing the last two.

 I have since adjusted on how I look at those instructions from Jesus. I have since understood and prayed for many to get healed and have seen many get healed indeed. I have prayed for people who have been healed of aches, pains, diseases and who have awakened from comas (4 times!)

 Just last week I had wrenched my back and was in tremendous pain and hunched over for days. I asked a friend to pray for me, and after the prayer, my pain was gone!

 I have also learned to never give up. There are times when I was not sure if my church (First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu) or Hawaiian Islands Ministries (HIM) would make it financially. But the Lord always somehow provided. In fact, HIM celebrates its 28th year this year while First Prez celebrates its 52nd year! Still alive! Still afloat in the sea of God’s grace.

 I have learned that God often calls us to things beyond what we think is within our capacity. Like in the 1983 Woody Allen movie “Zelig,” I feel like I’m Zelig who keeps popping up in well-known, public places.

 I, Zelig, have spoken to full stadiums and arenas in the U.S., the largest church in the world (South Korean), Oxford University (Centennial C.S. Lewis Conference, England), in the largest venues in Hawaii without me purposefully planning for it. I never sought it. I never prayed for it. But these opportunities plopped in my lap.
I also don’t think that I am that great a speaker. But God keeps calling me off the bench to run on the field and make a play that I think I am not capable of doing. BTW, my speaking in a remote conference in Thailand to 100 teenagers/young adults of poverty was just as fulfilling than the bigger events.

 I have learned that I am the Rodney Dangerfield of Christianity. As Dangerfield would say, “I don’t get no respect.” I say that because my wife has observed that people have no qualms about criticizing me or my ministry to my face! My friend Howard says I have the gift of “talk stink to my face.”

 It hurts when people do that but I suppose the positive part of it is that they feel I am approachable.

 This leads to my next personal lesson.

 I have learned to always seek reconciliation. When people are mad at me, I have learned “the art of judo” in which I take the full force of their complaint and agree with them on how I have messed up. Or, if I thought I had done as poorly as they said I have, I’d tell them I would be angry at me too. I have found that by keeping my mouth shut and/or agreeing with them while they’re venting, we have a great chance of reconciliation. I would say I have reconciled with 99% of the people who have been angry with me. They often hug me in the end.

 I have also learned that fads are fads. Yes, HIM and First Prez try to keep up with the times and be on top of new technology, like with this blog, Facebook and Twitter. But using popular ministry  techniques just because they are popular or successful for other churches doesn’t necessarily mean they will build strong, healthy churches. Strong themes of biblical principles build churches.

 I have also learned that if you aim to build a healthy church and work on removing the barriers to its health, then growth will take care of itself. I have never said in a board meeting that we must grow as a church by 33%. Sure, we set strategic and measureable goals, but we aim for health that will give a context for qualitative and, yes, quantitative results. Having an emotionally healthy church is a better goal than a numerically growing church.

 I have learned that when it comes to money, you cannot out give God. Time and time again when Pam and I have decided to give a substantial gift to a ministry, God responds in a way that dwarfs our gift. It’s not that we are doing Him any favors by our gifts. He can do it without us. But I am amazed how His blessings back to us far exceed our giving.

 I have learned on the days that I have my devotional time with God, that those few minutes alone make my day a hundred-fold better than the days I forget to stop and visit and share with Him. For me it’s journaling, praying or reading the Bible. The day is so much more resilient and wise when I actively carve out time to talk to Him than when I don’t. It’s such a “duh!” for me that I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.

 I have learned that as Christ-followers we must side with those in need – children in poverty, people who need compassion like gay people and those emotionally bruised. These three groups of people have been friendless for so long. We need to be a friend to the friendless.

 I have learned that wisdom and humility are goals to pray for and live out.

 And I have learned, that God does take me as I am. As I stretch out my hand, even if it is dirty, or hurt or used improperly, God always grabs my hand and wants to help.

 It’s been a great 44 years of knowing Him.