Archive for July 2009

Jesus Came To Save Hookers and Loan Sharks   Leave a comment

During my thrice-a-week commute to Baltimore for my summer internship, the path of the train goes by a pornography store. It’s a store located seemingly in the outskirts of the city, away from the scornful eyes of society. Because, even though we are in the midst of a society that openly celebrates sexuality, it is still a society that will look down on a man who must entertain himself in the late morning at a pornography store. Whether the morally pure scorn such a man for his sexual perverseness or the morally depraved scorn such a man for his sexual ineptitude—he is scorned by society, as a whole. I saw such a scornful man this past week as he entered this store in the late morning, donning a hat and sunglasses.

Then, it dawned on me—Jesus came to save hookers and loan sharks. Jesus asks, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go” (Matthew 21:28-31).

The first son was outwardly sinful and disobedient. He shamed his father by openly disobeying him. But, his conscience ate at him because his sin was out in the open. There was no denying that he was deserving of societal scorn. And, he acted upon his guilt, obeying his father’s will after verbally disobeying him.

The second son—well, I am the second son. I am good at saying “I will, sir” and horrible and doing what I say. I preach the gospel but I live sin. I looked at that man entering the pornography store and I thought, “How shameful that you are a middle-aged man, probably with a wife and kids, and you spend your morning entertaining such things.” But here’s the thing about that man—his sin is out in the open. Everyone who was walking by, driving by, or training by that day saw what he was doing—and that is the greatest position any sinner can be in. There is no denying your sinfulness. You deserve scorn and you will receive it from all of society. But, there I stood, a self-righteous Pharisee judging him for his sins while I hid behind by obedient and honorable words: “I will, sir.”

I am no better than the man entering the pornography store. I am just as much to be shamed and, possibly, even more so than he. I hope and trust that the Lord is working on that man’s heart so that his conscience would eat at him and he would come to a place of brokenness before God. I hope that he would see how dirty he is and how dirty his lifestyle has been—and that he would repent of his sins and grasp onto the promises of a greater joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ.

Jesus continued his story of the two sons, saying, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him” (Matthew 21:31-32).

So, why did Jesus come to save hookers and loan sharks? Because they are despicable in this world and they cannot possibly hide behind a veneer of righteousness or goodness. When asked if she will get into a heaven, a hooker cannot possibly say “Yes” after she had just entertained her tenth customer of the week. When asked if he is a good person, a loan shark cannot possibly say “Yes,” after he busts some heads and breaks some teeth to get back the $500 he loaned the previous week. They cannot possibly be the second son who acts honorably on the surface, but is really hateful and disobedient.

It is the hooker and the loan shark alone who can come before Jesus on their hands and knees, begging Him for mercy because they have only lived a life deserving of scorn and wrath. Only the hooker and the loan shark will wash Jesus’ feet with their tears and wipe them with their hair.

The rest of the people—the honorable members of society—they will be busy trying to show how good they are and how deserving they are of heaven. They come before Jesus with their heads held high because they already said, “I will, sir.” They think that since they’ve fooled the rest of society well enough to avoid their scorn and disdain, God must not have anything to accuse them of. But God will not only accuse them, He will fully inform their consciences so that they realize that they are no different than the hookers and the loan sharks they persecuted.

Not “they”—“we.” I belong in this second category because I find myself, over and over again, holding onto my righteousness and pointing to the merits of my life’s resume. Help the poor? I will, sir. Serve in the church? I will, sir. Love my friends and family? I will, sir. Make a positive impact in my community? I will, sir.

And there will be plenty of people who will respond “I will, sir” all the way to hell. They will be in hell saying, “But I said that I would.” But, here’s the thing. I will, sir? No, I can’t. I can’t because I am a hooker and a loan shark. The hooker is sexually promiscuous, and I am an adulterer at heart. The loan shark is a thief and a murderer, and I have coveted and hated others in my heart. At least the hooker knows that she’s a hooker. At least the loan shark knows that he’s a loan shark. Me? Well… I’m just human. I’m not perfect. I have a few vices. NO! NO! NO! I am a hooker! I am a loan shark! And unless I remind myself of that daily, I find myself just saying “I will, sir” while my heart rejoices in thinking that I’ve fooled God.

Some of you are reading this and you have not bowed the knee and fallen face down before Jesus Christ. You are still holding onto the merits of your “I will, sir.” You won’t because you can’t. Adultery? Murder? Theft? You are guilty—you are guilty of it all. Do not be like the second son in Jesus’ story who, after seeing the mercy of God in washing the dirtied hooker and forgiving the destitute loan shark. Do not try so hard to come to the presence of God with honor and dignity because the more you puff your chest and the higher your head is held, the more you earn hell. Stoop your shoulders and lower your gaze because you are being faced with the perfect standard of God: “You shall be holy, for I [God] am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) and “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Fall to your knees and plead for mercy—because God will give grace to the humble. God is kind to grant the gift of new life in Jesus Christ to anyone who would genuinely ask for it. Find your salvation in Christ.

Some of you readers are Christians who have already come before Christ, broken and beaten-down, begging for mercy rather than justice. Yet, some of you Christians are like me—you wag your finger at the hooker and you stiffen your neck against the loan shark. Don’t, lest you forget—you are a hooker and you are a loan shark. Apart from Jesus Christ, there is nothing praiseworthy about you. Remember the days when you first came before God on your hands and knees, with the weight of sin on your shoulders and the burden of your guilt searing your conscience. Remember that when you are most willing to confess that you are no cleaner than a hooker and no better than a loan shark—that is when Jesus will be most kind to bring you comfort and rest. Remember your salvation in Christ.

To all you hookers and loan sharks—don’t ever try to stand on your own two feet, for He will cut you down. To all you hookers and loan sharks—bow the knee to Christ and He will raise you up.

Advertisements

Posted July 30, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Casting Crowns–Slow Fade   Leave a comment

In light of the recent adulterous scandal surrounding the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, I thought this was a very provoking song by Casting Crowns. It is also relevant to the sermon series that Josh Harris has recently started in Proverbs. I can’t wait until the series gets to Proverbs 5… something that every guy should tattoo on his heart. (BTW… the first two sermons in the Proverbs series can be found here.)

“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day.”

Men, our fitness as fathers and husbands begins right now, whether we’re newlyweds, engaged, dating, or single. “Be careful little eyes what you see. It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.” I can’t forget the convicting words of John MacArthur when he preached on those who fall away through adultery. He made it very clear that it didn’t happen “suddenly” and that it’s not a “one-time thing.” No, adultery happens when we do not deal with our adulterous heart for months and years–we feed our lustful cravings without thinking that one look on the computer screen or one thought of that girl or one slip of the hand will “suddenly [lead you] as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:22). I remember in one of John Piper’s passioned sermons, I think it was his sermon series on “Desiring God” where he says, “I will DIE before I call upon pornography!” I pray that we have the same heart with all aspects of lust.

Remember the greater ramificaitons of your sin in this world in the lives of those you love. Better yet, remember the eternal ramifications of unashamedly indulging in sin when you have to give an account on the last day.

Posted July 13, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

On My Death Bed   Leave a comment

I’ve been sick since before the 4th of July (probably since July 1 or 2). First, I got a bad case of the flu (the swine/bird/mad cow variety). Then, as I was getting over the flu, I got the stomach flu and I couldn’t even hold down chicken soup or water. Then, as I got over the stomach flu, I got bronchitis and I’ve been dry heaving for several days now because my cough’s been so bad. (BTW… never buy Delsym, the cough suppressant, because I finished an entire bottle in a day and… nothing!)

I was reminded of what Job said early on in his sufferings, when he was able to proclaim truth to himself: “Naked I come from my mohter’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Then, Job became more and more depressed and despondent. “Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let clouds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it” (Job 3:3-5). “How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?” (Job 7:19). “I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me” (Job 10:1-2). “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me” (Job 17:1). On and on, Job does not turn from God, but he continually questions God and laments his fate in the midst of suffering.

I think I would be handling my bouts with illness better were it not for the final exam looming over me on Monday–the final exam from the hardest class in law school. But I think I need to be reminded of God’s words to Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:2-4). And I hope I will respond to God’s words the way Job did: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted… Therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dush and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).

O Lord, remind me that You are God, sovereign in all of creation. There is nothing that passes without Your hand and You command all things to work out for the glory of your name. Let me not question Your sovereign work in my life–let me not lament it, but let me faithfully work that You might be glorified as the God who gives me strength to study, as the God who is my motivation to continue… as the God whose bright face is more precious to me than the best of grades.

Posted July 11, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Nolan Ryan’s Philosophy on Pitching   2 comments

As Ryan shapes the Rangers in his image, the basics are simple. He wants pitchers to be tough, to fight through fatigue, to attack the strike zone and to pitch inside.

“There is an art to doing that,” he said. “It’s not about hitting guys or head-hunting, it’s about knowing when to pitch in and developing the ability to do it.”

Ryan tells of a conversation he had last year with Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn.

“I said, ‘Tony, who’s the toughest left-hander you had to face?’ He said Randy Johnson. I said, ‘What about Steve Carlton?’ He said, ‘Nope, I never had a problem with Carlton.’ I asked why.

“He said, ‘Randy would stand me up at least once every game we faced him, and I was aware of that, so I couldn’t look out over the plate. Carlton never did that. He pitched me away, away, away. That’s my strength, and I never had to worry about the inside.’

“That sums it up right there. Every pitcher should hear that and say, ‘I need to pitch inside.’ “

Posted July 6, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Michael Jackson and Steve McNair   Leave a comment

I want to be sensitive to all those who are mourning the losses of Michael Jackson and Steve McNair. But I also have a few comments on their lives and their passing.

Michael Jackson is and always will be the King of Pop. He was a great singer, dancer and entertainer. He’s had a tremendous impact on the music of many of today’s most popular artists, such as Usher, Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake. I still have Michael Jackson songs that I listen to with fondness in remembrance of the talent of that man, including “Smooth Criminal,” “Thriller,” and “You Are Not Alone.”

Steve McNair was a pioneer for black athletes. Although not the first black quarterback, he was one of the firsts. He possessed a great arm that won him an MVP award in 2003, 3 Pro-Bowl selections, and he was just two yards shy of winning the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Both Jackson and McNair passed these past couple of weeks–and their deaths were tragic. Jackson died of a heart attack at the age of 50 amidst rumors of the cause potentially being anorexia or drugs. NcNair died from multiple gunshots to the head while with his girlfriend. And I think it is appropriate to grieve the losses of these two figures. However, we must also look to their examples and learn from their mistakes.

Jackson  lived a tortured adulthood amidst rumors of, and lawsuits regarding, pedophilia. McNair, who was found dead next to his girlfriend, was engaged in an extra-marital affair with her and planned on divorcing his wife. Many men have fallen far because of they gave in wholeheartedly to their sexual lusts. In keeping with the recent anniversary of our nation’s birth, there has been the adulterous scandal of former president, Bill Clinton, and his mistress, Monica Lewinsky. The most recent example of someone sexual deviancy being found out is the case of South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford. In between, there has been Louisiana representative Bob Livingston’s extramarital affair, Louisiana senator David Vitter’s solicitation of prostitutes, Newt Gingrich’s marriage to his mistress who was another man’s wife, and Idaho representative Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. (I apologize if I didn’t get all my information correct, as I did get it from The Colbert Report.)

All in all, many men have succumbed to sexual deviations and lusts, and they have paid for it in this life and will ultimately give an account to God. The wisest man in the history of humanity, King Solomon, also plunged into the depths of his lustful desires; he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. And he came out of it reporting what all men were expecting… It’s the greatest sexual gratification ever! A different woman every day of the year for three years! I have never been more sexually fulfilled in all my life! Whoop-do-dee, more sex for me! (I hope you can catch the sarcasm.)

This is not what Solomon reported. In fact, in a collection of writings intended for his son, he repeatedly warns his son to keep sexually pure. He says, “The lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.” (Proverbs 5:3-4). For those of you who aren’t convinced of the sin of sexual promiscuity or the sin of an “innocent look” or “just a thought,” consider the lives of Jackson and McNair. I don’t think Jackson just decided one day to just get frisky with children to see how it is. No, it doesn’t happen that way because sin doesn’t happen that way. Rather, Jackson was mulling it over in his mind, fantacising about it, and indulging in wrong thoughts. And I think that sexual deviancy contributed greatly to much of his mental problems in his adult life. On the other hand, there is McNair, who didn’t seem to have any evident mental conditions. He just “fell in love” with another woman. Yet, his sin started, not with his planned divorce or with his extra-marital affair, but with his entertaining thoughts that led his heart away from his wife. The same goes for Sanford.

And Solomon warns his son, and he warns us, of the consequences of falling into sexual sin: “Her feet go down to death” (Proverbs 5:5). Jackson died, in part, due to mental problems. McNair was shot down as a consequence of his relationship with his girlfriend. Sanford’s political career is all but ruined because of his extra-marital affair.

So, men, think upon the consequences of your sin. There is no innocent look or innocent thought. It is all sin that will build upon sin upon sin that leads to rape, adultery and divorce. Clinton’s affair could not have been prevented by keeping him away from Lewinsky. She wasn’t the issue–his heart was the issue. He was set on committing adultery against his wife long before he met Lewinsky. His heart was taking looks here and there, thinking thoughts at night, and pondering situations where he could use his position and power to get sexual gratification from someone not named Mrs. Clinton.

Some who read this (if you’re still reading this) will not need the words of Solomon. What does he know? Our times are different. Our temptations our different. Our lives are different. Not true, but, even still–if you won’t consider the consequences of lust on the lives of Solomon or his father, King David, think about the consequences on the lives of Michael Jackson and Steve McNair. Consider the direction their sins led them and heed the words of Solomon: “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well… Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths” (Proverbs 5:15, 20-21). For the unmarried, save your body, your thoughts, and your heart for your wife. For the married, don’t stray from your own cistern–your own well.

Posted July 6, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Happy 4th of July to all 2 or 3 of my readers out there… :)   Leave a comment

I was planning on writing this on the 4th of July but I’ve come down with a case of the flu (swine, bird, mad cow, lamb). And I was thinking that my 4th of July was pretty cruddy because I spent the entire day sleeping or awake wishing I was passed out. And to top it off, it replaced a possibly sorrier 4th of July plan of studying all day for my Evidence final exam. Then, as I was spending some time in God’s Word, I was reminded of how faithful God is to His people. Here are some quick and small examples of God’s graciousness to me that day. In Matthew 8, there are countless examples of God healing the sick and the ailing. In Genesis 8, God watched over Noah during the flood and His anger subsided with no one in the ark being harmed during the flood. Romans 8 reminded me that God sent Jesus Christ to accomplish what I could not in my sinful flesh. (No, it’s not just a coincidence that they are all Chapter 8… it’s a part of my reading plan. Lemme know if you want to know more about the reading plan. Kinda interesting.)

But, as I was reading those chapters, my mind was constantly brought back to the many words found in Philippians. In the letter, Paul speaks numerous times about giving “thanks” and about “praising” and about “rejoicing.” And Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” He goes on to write that it shows our reasonableness in lifting up our worries to God because He will grant us peace to guard our hearts. And I think the joy of the Lord overwhelmed the misery of my sickness to show me His kindness in my situation.

Yes, I was sick, but I could not let that overwhelm my sight from seeing the many graces in my life… God has granted me this day to live to honor Him. God has given me salvation–a right standing before Him so that I could live to please Him. God has granted me the opportunity to worship Him freely in the US. I only hope that the soothing balms of His many graces would dull the pain of my sickness. Ehh… worst case scenario, I’ll get better and continue to go on with my life. And best case scenario… I get to be with my God. 🙂

Dang… my mind really can’t focus to spend a solid 30 minutes studying. Argh… I need much grace for my final exam next Monday.

Posted July 5, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

ARE YOU ELECT? MAYBE…   Leave a comment

“No one ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be of the elect. It is quite true that God has of his mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to come to Him. The question for you is not, am I one of the elect? But, am I one of the human race?” — Robert Murray McCheyne

The elect are chosen out of the human race, and, as McCheyne says, there is no one who will know that they are elect until … their election is made known to them through the revelation of the gospel upon their hearts. So, are you elect? Only if you believe? If you are not elect, you will not believe. But, if your heart is warm to the gospel of Jesus Christ, is sensitive to the truth of your sin, and is soft to turning to Christ in repentance… you are elect–actualize that election by believing and never turning back.

Posted July 2, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized