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The God Who Knows Your Name

Written By Pastor Dan Chun

2060 07/26/09

Well it's wonderful to be here at the Crystal Cathedral, a church that my dear friends Robert and Arvella Schuller have built by God's grace out of a drive-in to become a place where many want to drive to.

Dr. Schuller has helped my own pastoral ministry in a major way, inspiring me to believe the impossible. When my growing church could find no more parking on 1.9 acres of land with 73 parking spaces and only $200,000 in capital campaign funds, Dr. Schuller encouraged me to take a risk for God. Two and a half years ago, we ended up buying a 242-acre golf club beneath a mountain range and water falls in a tropical forest that was built originally for 110-million dollars. The Wall Street Journal reported two weeks after our purchase of Ko'olau Golf Club that it is probably the toughest public golf course in the world. But at least, now, it is the most forgiving.

The clubhouse alone is nearly three-acres under one roof, which now houses the sanctuary, offices, classrooms, and fellowship halls of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu. It came with an indoor atrium. We still run the banqueting services for weddings, conferences, retreats, and church events. So, when people say, "Gee, Pastor I would go to church, but I have to play golf," I now say, "Hey, no excuse. Come to my church, and play 18-holes of golf." But, please don't call me the Head Pro. I'm the Senior Pastor.

I love this Southern California area. Three years ago, my youngest son Quinn and I went to nearby Disneyland and had a great father-son time together. After a long day and a long drive from Disneyland in Anaheim to Pasadena, California, my 11-year old Quinn and I arrived at the hotel around 10 p.m. We were really tired after a long day at Disneyland. However, when we arrived at the front desk of the hotel, the receptionist said we didn't have a reservation.

I gave the receptionist my name: "I'm Dan Chun. Here's my confirmation number. I called last night to say I was coming in and it was confirmed. I double-checked."

"No." said the desk clerk. "No, Dan Chun."

I said, "How can this be? You have my confirmation number. Here it is. I just called last night. You have my name, so just give us another room."

He said, "Sorry we are booked completely - no rooms."

"But I had a reservation!"

"Sorry," he said, "you're not listed."

So I said, "Well try the name of the company that made the reservation for me. Here's the name of the secretary who made it for me – Wendy Walker."

Now, here comes the fun part. I'm not exaggerating any of this. This is all true.

The desk clerk said to me, "Ah, here is a reservation made by Wendy Walker for someone named Chun Dan."

I said, "Well, that's me. See my credit card? Dan Chun, they just got the name mixed up."

And the clerk said, "Sorry, this reservation is for Chun Dan and you are not him according to your drivers license."

For a brief moment, I looked around. I'm wondering where is the hidden TV camera? Am I on one of those kind of TV shows, you know, that make fun of people publicly. So, trying not to make my voice quiver with impatience, I said, "Listen, Dale (I read his name tag), you have a guest named Chun Dan listed and I, standing here, am Dan Chun. What are the chances that that we are not the same person?"

Dale said, "Sorry sir, you are not Chun Dan."

Under my breath I mumbled, "You've got to be kidding."

"Okay, yes, I know that I'm Dan Chun, but for this brief moment, please see me as Chun Dan. What's the chance that Chun Dan and I, Dan Chun, have the same confirmation number and the same person, Wendy Walker, who made the reservation?"

To which he looked at my piece of paper with my confirmation number on it and he said, "Mmmm, you may have a point."

To which I wanted to say in a very pastoral way. "Well, DUH!"

Instead, I said, "Yes, could you please look again? Confirmation number, Wendy Walker, Chun Dan, Dan Chun."

Finally, he said, and I am not kidding, "Okay, I will give you Mr. Dan's room."

To which I thought, "Tonight I am Mr. Chun Dan, thank you very much, I need my room."

My wife later said, "Why does this always happen to you Dan? I mean I don't know anyone else this type of thing happens to." You would think it would never happen again, but it did again recently. I went to Colorado Springs with our associate Pastor Sim Fulcher. Our flight was delayed so we arrived at the airport at 10 p.m. We were tired, having traveled all the way from Honolulu to Los Vegas to Denver to Colorado Springs. When we got to the rental car desk, I saw that there was just one reservation packet with keys on it, and we were their last customer. I was relieved when I saw my name on the packet that said, "Chun COMMA Daniel." Whew, they didn't give up this last car. No cars left. It's the only reservation packet up on the rack.

So, I gave the agent my credit card and said, "That's my car reservation over there with the keys on it. I'm Daniel Chun. He took my card and said, "Your credit card number doesn't fit the reservation of this car." And I said, "Well, there must be a mistake. I switched business cards recently and I guess I forgot to send you my new number, but that's me, Daniel Chun."

And he said, "I'm sorry, you're not getting the car. Your credit card number does not fit with the reservation."

Now Pastor Sim, meanwhile, was looking for our luggage while I was at the counter. I looked around the airport, and what I wanted to say was, "Look, mister, my name is a Chinese name, and take a look around; how many Chinese are there in this whole airport here in Colorado Springs?" However, instead I went through the routine again, as politely as I could. "Sir, what are the chances at this late hour that you only have one car left with my name on the reservation, which states that I would be arriving late on a flight. So, here I am with my ID that says Daniel Chun, with a credit card that says Daniel Chun, though the numbers are not correct. For tonight, please, believe that I am Chun COMMA Daniel, and give me the car because it is freezing and windy on a cold Colorado night and this is the very last car!"

He looked at me and at my ID and then at my credit card, which it has my picture on it, and he said, "Okay, here are the keys."

People, knowing our name is very important. Or, to be clear, the right people knowing our name is important. With all of the identify theft, we only want the people whom we can trust to know us. But here is the great news. God, the Almighty God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the Universe loves us so much that He decided to come to earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, to show us His love and how we can love others. Furthermore, this God knows our name. He doesn't get confused or have a deaf ear.

Furthermore, this God said through Isaiah in the Old Testament in the 41st chapter, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine." This is not a distant God but a God who wants an intimate relationship with us. He is the kind shepherd who knows His flock, each sheep by name. We should not miss out on this important fact. God really loves us and really wants to have an ongoing wonderful, intimate, hanging out, guiding, mentoring, protecting, loving relationship with us. Everything we would want in a friend, a protector, a provider, a good parent, a Lord, He is it.

In fact, the Bible says He has known everything about us, even before we were born, before we were conceived by earthly parents. God said again in the Old Testament in Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." Is that not amazing or what? In another part of the Bible, it says in Isaiah, "Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you." In fact, He says He has a destiny picked out for us waiting for us once we turn to Him. If we but trust Him, He will reveal that purpose, that job, that position, that cause.

These are difficult times for many people. The recession alone is hard. The savings, the pensions, the salaries have been slashed. Many have lost jobs. And for others, the depression has gone just one day too far. Or for some, they may have just been blindsided by a pink slip and they're fired. Or those divorce papers or that medical report has arrived and you wonder, what can I do, whom can I trust, does anyone care about me? But, God, with all of the billions and billions and billions of people on earth, He knows your name. And He so much wants to help. A name makes all of the difference in the world.

I was once golfing in Hawaii with one of the members of the Schuller family. I may be the pastor of a golf course, but I confess I've only played golf maybe 10 times in my life. Ironically, golfing is not my hobby. But on this one day, I was starting on the back nine of a course other than ours. It was my very first swing of the day and my ball went slicing off to the right and hit a chain link fence. Actually, if it had hit the chain link fence, it would have just of dropped and died. But, no. It was a million–to-one shot. The ball happened to hit the pole that held up the fence, ricocheting back at my party, forcing us all to duck as it went sailing over our heads.

As luck would have it, that hole was near a parking lot at a very exclusive private golf course and the ball sailed over our heads into the parking lot and must have hit every single Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar, BMW in the world. It was awful to hear the pings, pangs, and pongs as I slowly added up the cost of this one ball in my mind. As my hosts and I walked toward the clubhouse to admit I was the culprit, suddenly a voice rang out from an angry man walking toward me, pointing "You, you hit my car! You, you hit my car!"

I was in trouble; he was coming at me like a torpedo wearing a polo shirt, when suddenly the grace of God came upon me. I don't know how I remembered this man, but I did and said, "Steve! You remember me? It's Danny, Danny Chun. We grew up together. We haven't seen each other for years. In fact, your mom's dad married my mom's sister, so that makes us cousins! Like maybe second cousin or something!"

The man looked stunned and said, "Oh, well, that's okay then." He knew my name and my name meant – family! God knows our name and it means family. And when you are part of God's family, He will do anything to help. He adopted us. We are not just children of God but heirs of God with an inheritance. He is not just a God way up there who doesn't care. He's right here among us. He came down to earth as Jesus. What is God like? He is like Jesus. He is Jesus! And He can be our God, meaning He wants to have a personal relationship with us.

I was asked once what my favorite Bible verse was. Many to choose from, but one of my favorites is clearly Isaiah 41:10 because it shows the intimacy of a God who loves us. The verse says, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God." And I love that part - I am your God. Not that we own Him or control Him but that He is saying I know your name, I am your Heavenly Father, I am in your corner and we can have a relationship. What is that relationship like? Well the verse goes on, "I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand."

From this verse, you get the feeling that God will pick you up even if it needs to be by the collar of your shirt. I will pull you up and help you and get you back on your feet. Or as it says later in the book by that prophet Isaiah, the same prophet that predicted the coming of Jesus – it says that if we follow Jesus or follow the Messiah we can say, "But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Friends, we all live in a stressful, painful, hurtful world. Wouldn't we all want to be able to run and not be weary, and walk and not faint? Many, many years ago, before I became a pastor, while in seminary I went through a terrible divorce. In fact, I flunked my New Testament exam the day after I got my divorce papers. Got an "F." I was sad, in despair, depressed. My self-esteem was so low that I could probably have walked under any door at that time. I remember asking a lawyer how I could get food stamps. I had no job and didn't know anyone in Pasadena. I was just about to start seminary. The embarrassment and humiliation was hard. I felt down for years. I didn't think I would ever be competent or qualified to be a pastor after going through a divorce I didn't want. Some felt I shouldn't be a pastor. That was it.

But the Lord knew my name even in my mother's womb. He knew me as Daniel when I was born, as Danny when I was a child, as Dan as an adult. This God pulled me through. And today, by God's grace, I am a pastor. And last year was my 30th year of ordination. And by God's grace, my church is healthy and growing. And by His grace, it's one of the largest in the denomination, and is so out-of-the-box in reaching people that it does ministry out of a golf club. God allowed me to have adventures in spite of my sorrow.

By God's mercy and grace, the seminary I attended when I felt I was such a loser with a big "L" on my forehead, that seminary - Fuller Seminary in Pasadena - just voted me in last month to be on its Board of Trustees. No way! Amazing grace. Five years after the divorce, I married my wife Pam. We will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary this year. No way. To God be the glory. The God who knows my name gave me a second chance and blessed me. And He continues to show His grace.

Eight years before my youngest son Quinn and I went to Disneyland, we found Quinn had a fever that, over time, rose to105 degrees. It wouldn't go down. We discovered he had something called Kawasaki's Syndrome, a disease that, if not treated properly within eight days, could kill the child. We had discovered it at three days. The clock was ticking.

But it just happened that his pediatrician had seen the very first case of Kawasaki's in Honolulu many, many years ago as a resident. So he accurately diagnosed the disease and he said the one who discovered the treatment, the antidote for the entire world, happened to be practicing at a hospital three minutes from our house. Today Quinn is fully healthy and this fall enters 9th grade at the same high school that President Obama went to, Punahou.

The God who knew my name said, "Do not be afraid, do not fear, for I am your God." It is not to say that all people are saved from death or dying or danger. I lost my mom after a long, four and a half-year battle with lung cancer. It was hard and grueling. And people who are miraculously healed by God, well, it doesn't last forever or else no one would ever die. But this I know, there is a God and He loves us, not apart from pain, but in the midst of it in the trough of life.

If you are going through depression or despair, if the recession is getting you down and your finances are falling apart, if there is an illness that is scaring the heck out of you, if there is a relationship that is crumbing, if it feels there's no purpose in your life, do not give up. You may have suicidal thoughts, but don't do it. God is saying to you today, don't do it. I have a future and a hope for you, if you don't give up. He says, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand." For this is a God who knows our name! Amen? Amen!

© Copyright Hour of Power 2009. This message was delivered by Dan Chun from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power, July 26, 2009.

Read more about this week's guest pastor, Pastor Dan Chun.

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  1. youngeone writes:

    PASTOR DAN CHUN, Thank you for the inspiring word you gave, what a wonderful GOD we serve. HE DOES KNOW EACH AND EVERYONES NAME , and HE NEVER LEAVES US OR FORSAKES US, even thou at times we may feel we have been forgotten, HE NEVER FORGETS US . This word is a great comfort to me .THANK YOU HOUR OF POWER .JMC.

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    07/27/2009 00:38:08
  2. Rosebud37 writes:

    Another timely message from Mr. Dan Chun ... I love those verses; I say them out loud whenever I am afraid -- they give so much peace and comfort, no matter what we are going through at the time. GOD knows our name, we are His. He loves us and cares for us. Thanks for another uplifting message, that comes and encourages my heart when others try to knock us down ... may GOD bless you richly!

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    07/27/2009 19:49:57

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