Archive for September 2009

Poem by John Piper   Leave a comment

Endurance
by John Piper

Not grace that bars what is not bliss
Nor flight from all distress but this.
The grace that orders our trouble in pain,
And then in the darkness is there to sustain.

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Posted September 26, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Contemplations on Eternity   Leave a comment

Here are some Tweet-length headlines from the past month:

– A 7.6-magnitude earthquake hits Indonesia, taking 777 lives and counting

– The death toll in the Darfur region of Sudan has surpassed 450,000 since 2003

– Over a hundred people have died as a result of a tsunami in Samoa

– Since 2008, 14,000 in the city of Juarez as a result of drug trafficking

http://vimeo.com/6736703

– The European Union concluded that Georgia started the war with Russia which killed over 600 soldiers and civilians

– Bomb blasts in Iraq has killed at least 15

– Israeli air strike kills 3 fighters from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza

– A small plane crashes in Randolph County, Indiana, killing the pilot

And that brings me to some staggering statistics. 26% of Americans die from heart disease and 23% die from a form of cancer. In addition, some of the other great killers in the world are respiratory infections (7.1%), diarrhea (3.7%), AIDS (3.5%), and road traffic accidents (2.2%).  This year, over 53 million people will die, with over 6,000 deaths coming this hour alone.

And, finally… the greatest and most all-encompassing statistic in human history: 100% of all people will die.

At some point, we all die. At some point, we who are living, will cease to live. And, after death, 100% will exist throughout eternity in one of two places: in the presence of God’s love and in the presence of God’s wrath. We know them better as heaven and hell.

Death comes for everyone but, whether they die in the womb from a miscarriage or during their childhood because of malnutrition or just before starting college due to leukemia or during their 30’s while crossing a busy street or in their 40’s during a storm or in their 60’s from a heart attack, many are blindsided by death. Some die “peacefully” and some die in horrendous pain. But, the fact still remains–you and I will die–eventually.

So, for those of you who realize that I’m writing about God and religion and faith… the question begs to be asked: Why would God do this? You might be okay with people dying, but why do children die of starvation? Why do people die from a massive tsunami in Samoa? Why does an earthquake destroy buildings, crushing hundred beneath the rubble. Why would God do this?

Or does He? Is God really that weak? He must be. He can’t even control the distribution of food. He can’t even hold back the waters. He can’t even…

God then interrupts with His interrogation:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sand together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed”? Job 38:2-11

The answer from God? He is not weak; and He is in control. He is the one who holds the waves back and He is the one who causes waves to land a mile inland in Samoa, devastating the country and its people.

But here’s the kicker… we deserve it. We earned it. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We earned it because we transgressed the law of God.

Have you murdered? Have you hated someone in your heart?

Have you committed adultery or rape? Have you lusted after a person who was not your spouse? Have you lusted after a person without yet having a spouse?

Have you stolen? Have you coveted another’s property? prosperity? praise?

You are a murderous adulterous thief. And so am I. If we see ourselves in the right light, we have earned our death and we have earned it plenty.

But I don’t want you to think that I stand here, looking down at those dying and suffering with a glib smile on my face. I’m mourning and praying over those deaths… and God is broken over those deaths, as well. The second part of Romans 6:23 states that He has given us a free gift of “eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

See, death from this world is not a big deal. Remember, we all die. But eternity… that’s another story. We either live eternally or we die eternally. And God, though we have worked and labored and earned wrath and judgment through our sins, He has offered us, through no labor or striving of our own, but by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, eternal life.

The most tragic thing about people dying in Sudan and Samoa and Indonesia is not that they died (because they will eventually die)–it’s that there are some of them who are dying eternally. Hell is not a place where people go and are given a slap on the wrist. Hell is the place where you are eternally met with the unbridled wrath of God–its fire is unquenchable (Mark 9:43). And those who are in hell will continue to earn their place in hell by hating God and sinning against Him (Revelation 22:11).

Conversely, there is the gift of God for all those who have confessed that they are sinners before God and turned to Jesus Christ as the Savior of their sins and Lord over their lives. Eternity with God. Eternity in the opposite of His wrath–His love. For those who die, even the most tragic of deaths, yet they have placed their lives in the hands of God, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

This is not a don’t-do-bad-things-or-else blog post. This is a you’ve-already-done-lots-of-bad-things-so-ask-for-the-forgiveness-which-comes-from-Jesus-Christ post. And, just as the people in hell will continue to sin and earn wrath, the people in heaven will be kept from sin and from wrath. What keeps someone from murder? Having love for a person who is worthy of that love. What keeps a man from committing adultery? Having a woman who enthralls his vision to such an extent that no other women exist. What keeps a man from stealing? So loving the things he has that he doesn’t need anything else. So, what keeps someone in heaven from sinning? Being with a God whose beauties overcome our desire to sin. God is beautiful and He is glorious and He will satisfy us fully and eternally.

Look to the beauties of God, and be won over–be captivated by all  that He is, all that He’s created, and all that He’s done. Death is an all-encompassing statistic. But so is eternity…

Posted September 26, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

The Glory Of God In Forgiveness And Atonement Of Me, The Sinner   Leave a comment

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people.
The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.
Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings, nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened youwith offerings, nor wearied you with incense.
You have brought Me not sweet cane with money, nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; rather you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.
I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Isaiah 43:18-25

Posted September 26, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Tommy Lasorda Bleeds Doyer Blue   Leave a comment

Tommy Lasorda is a better candidate than most to have a portrait put up at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; he is one of the best candidates in all of baseball because Lasorda, well, he is baseball. Just as much as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, Tommy Lasorda is synonymous with baseball (and the Dodgers). There have been legendary figures in the past who have done amazing things for the sport of baseball. Roberto Clemente was not only a great hitter, but he became a sports legend through his sacrificial charity. Branch Rickey was famous for developing the farm system that was the progeny of modern-day minor league systems. (He also played a very under-recognized part in integrating baseball as the man who signed Jackie Robinson). Tommy Lasorda was a lover of baseball. He lived and breathed baseball. The only thing he did not like about baseball was the San Francisco Giants. He is a modern day legend who has been an ambassador of the game throughout the world. He also has the greatest pro-Dodger quote of all time: “If you don’t love the Dodgers, you might not get to heaven.” Congratulations to Tommy Lasorda.

Posted September 22, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Learning Life Lessons From An 18 Year Old   Leave a comment

The following is a sermon given by an 18 year old, Clayton Stanton McDonald, in Simi Valley, CA:

This is almost 8 weeks ago… results come back. Fourth time the doctors have had to tell my parents, “Your son has leukemia, again.”…

The oncologist comes in and, basically for a five minute talk, he says, “There’s nothing that we can do for you. We can give you chemotherapy, we can give you some treatment, but inevitably it will not work.” No third bone marrow. No more chemotherapy. There’s no pill, there’s no nothing. So, I asked him, “With nothing, how long do you give me?” Well, first, he says… “It’s your own individual blood. Everyone’s blood is different. It reacts differently.” There’s no hammer-on-the-nail time. It’s really hard; it can vary. But, I did get this out of him. This was almost two months ago. He said, “Maybe three months, plus or minus.” That was two months ago, and I’m still here.

Me being here tonight is no accident. I’m dying of a disease. No, no I’m not. I’m dying from a blessing that was given to me by God. People ask me a lot of questions… one of the questions I get asked a lot is, “Hey Clayton, are you scared?” And usually I just say, “No, I’m not scared.” Because I don’t really feel like talking right then or explaining myself. But inside, yes, I am. I am terrified. I am mortified. But not for myself. Not for cancer. I’ve been on this train for twelve years. This is my fourth time. I know what’s going to happen. I know the feelings. I know all the needles; I know all the pains that’s gonna come with it. I know that. I’m not scared of that. I’m not scared of dying either, because I know where I’m going when I die. I know I’m going to heaven because when I was… younger, I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus is Lord and that He is the only way into heaven. And I believed that. And I know that. And I was able to do that because God sent his only Son to earth to die on the cross for my sins and your sins. Because He loves us so much. That is why I was able, and I know, that I’m going to heaven. So I’m not scared for where I’m going when I die.

I’m scared for everyone else. I’m scared for all the people who don’t know where they’re going when they die. I’m scared for the people that might think they know where they’re going when they die. I’m scared for all the people who are distracted by this world that is controlled by Satan. Especially for you guys because you’re in America–and this is Satan’s country. I’m scared for everyone that’s distracted by friends, by iPods, by video games, by movies, by having a roof over your heard, by feeling secure or by feeling comfort or by having $20 in your pocket.

See, I’m dying so it’s not hard for me to live every day like it’s going to be my last because tonight, I easily can go into a coma and never wake up from it. It’s not hard for me to be thankful for life when I know that tomorrow I might not have it. And it’s not hard for me to be thankful for my friends because I know that I might not ever see them again, very soon.

Yes, I’m dying. But, wait, here’s the kicker–so are you guys. We all have a clock, have a timeline, of when we’re gonna kick the bucket. And for me, I have the luxury of knowing about when I might go. See, I feel sorry for you guys because you guys don’t know when you’re gonna die. I do. So, everyone that is blinded by this world and is not living every day like it is their last, which it very well could be, I feel sorry for you guys. So, those are the people that I’m afraid of. The people that are blinded, the people that don’t know where they’re going when they die, and the people who think they know where they’re going when they die–but they really don’t.

Clayton died a few weeks after giving this message. He died 40 days short of his 19th birthday. And, through the tears, I know that his parents and his friends are rejoicing because they know where he is. They know that Clayton lived his life storing up treasures, not in this world, but in the eternal heaven where he is at now.

Here is a video for Clayton’s memorial service:

Everything in this world is a distraction. Everything in this world is like grass that will burn away. Don’t waste your life living for the thirty, forty or fifty years you have left in this world. Heck, this is a message to me, mostly, that I not get distracted by what’s in front of my eyes, thinking that is it. The thirty, forty, fifty… that’s just a shadow of our entire lives. Because we will all be around forever. The Bible promises that. However, for those who have been distracted by this world and tempted by this world to live solely for this world, that eternity is going to be in the presence of God’s judgment and wrath. And, for those of you who have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ, I don’t say this lightheartedly or flippantly. In all seriously and in all brokenness… you’re going to hell–and it’s worse than you can imagine. But, there is a promise for those who turn from their sins and turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is an eternity in heaven with God, and fellowship with God will be greater than you can imagine. Our minds and our imaginations cannot fully grasp what eternity will be like. It can be the most awful and tragic thing, but it can be the most precious and amazing thing for those who believe in Christ. As Clayton says… we’re all dying. Life life as if you were dying. Because… well… we are.

Posted September 22, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

The Lawyer’s Prayer   1 comment

The Lawyer’s Prayer
By Sir William Blackstone, English Jurist and Legal Historian

Ordained to treat the thorny ground, where very few, I fear, are found;  mine be the conscience void of blame, the upright heart, the spotless name, the tribute of the widow’s prayer, the righted orphans grateful tear!

To virtue and her friends a friend, still may my voice the weak defend!

Ne’er may my prostituted tongue protect the oppressor in his wrong, nor wrest the spirit of the laws to sanctify the villains cause!

Let others with unsparing hand, enflame dissension, kindle strife, and strew with ills the path of life; on such her gifts let fortune shower, add wealth to wealth, and power to power; on me my favouring Heaven bestow that peace which good men only know, the joy of joys by few possess’d–the eternal sunshine of the breast!

Power, fame and riches resign the praise of honesty be mine, that friends may weep, the worthy sigh, and poor men bless me when I die.

Posted September 19, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Will Babies With Down Syndrome Just Disappear?   3 comments

(This post was taken in its entirety from Dr. Albert Mohler’s blog: http://www.albertmohler.com)

The development of prenatal diagnostic technologies presents a constellation of moral issues — with the diagnosis of Down syndrome front and center. Over the past several years, a marked decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome has been both observed and widely reported. This decrease can be traced directly to the decision to abort after prenatal diagnosis.

As Science Daily reports, a new leading article to be published in Archives of Disease in Childhood points to developments in the near future that will likely increase the diagnosis of Down syndrome [DS] during pregnancy.  “New tests expected to be introduced next year will offer a simple blood test that poses no risk to the fetus and delivers a definitive diagnosis of one of more of the genetic variants of Down syndrome — trisomy 21, translocation, or mosaicism,” the journal reported.

The development of these new tests will almost surely make the practice of prenatal screening for Down syndrome more widespread. At present, the available tests pose some risk to the fetus and are invasive. The new tests expected next year are based on simple blood tests.

The new research is based on work by Dr. Brian Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston.  Skotko, who has a sister with Down syndrome, asks this haunting question: “As new tests become available, will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?”

His research reveals deeply troubling trends. Between 1989 and 2005, births of babies with Down syndrome decreased by 15 percent.  As Science Daily explains, “In the absence of prenatal testing, researchers would have expected the opposite — a 34 percent increase in births — due to the trend of women waiting longer to have children; known to increase the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome.”

In an article published in 2005, Skotko had argued that doctors often ill-prepared to discuss the diagnosis of Down syndrome with their pregnant patients.  Chillingly, he also revealed that a significant percentage of the doctors “reported that they ’emphasize’ the negative aspects of DS so that patients would favor a termination.”

With the new technologies of prenatal diagnosis so close on the horizon, Skotko now sees a “true collision” on its way.  “More women will be going through the testing process, which could lead to a lot of difficult, uncomfortable conversations between physicians and expectant patients.”

The reason for the decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome comes into clearer focus when The Washington Post cites Skotko’s research indicating that 92 percent of women who learn they are carrying a baby with Down syndrome choose to abort the pregnancy. That is more than nine out of ten.

The dimensions of the “collision” Dr. Skotko sees coming now come into view. If these percentages hold, the development of these new tests will almost certainly lead to a vast increase in the number of babies aborted after the diagnosis of Down syndrome.

This presents a grave moral challenge to the medical community — and to the society at large.  Medical care is a social good for which the entire society is responsible. The development of prenatal diagnostic technologies and procedures brings a moral crisis right to our doorsteps — and our hearts.  Will we see people with Down syndrome simply disappear?

In his 2005 article, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Skotko explained that prenatal etsting for Down syndrome presents expectant parents with a simple choice — continue the pregnancy or abort. He continued:

Knowing this, health care providers have historically operated under the assumption that if a woman consents to prenatal screening or diagnosing, she must believe that having a child with DS would be an undesired outcome and wish to terminate her pregnancy if such a diagnosis were made prenatally.”

Expectant parents should read that sentence over and over again, and so should those who counsel them.

As Dr. Skotko understands all too well, this moral crisis is not limited to babies with Down syndrome. He asks: “Should expectant parents be able to select out fetuses with an undesired sex? Should fetuses with genes that predispose them to adult breast cancer be prenatally identified? Should couples in the future be supported if they wish to terminate fetuses with genes correlated with sexual preferences?”

The fact that 92 percent of women who are told that their unborn child carries the high risk of Down syndrome choose to abort the baby should shock us all. What does that say about our devaluation of human life and human dignity? This can only mean that these women see a child with Down syndrome as not worth having — and the baby as a life not worth living.

Dr. Skotko points to the new tests just around the corner and sees a collision coming.  Given his important research, we had better see a moral crisis looming. The Culture of Death is gaining momentum before our eyes. Who will be next in line to be considered unworthy of life?

Posted September 18, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized