Archive for October 2009

Tony Dungy Speaks Before Winning Super Bowl   Leave a comment

“It was one thing to want to get to heaven and have that assurance, but it was more than to really being a Christian. It was just saying, ‘You know what? Everything I do, I’m going to live for God and let Him control it and then see where it takes me.'”

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

Some Good Articles By Dr. Albert Mohler   Leave a comment

Time to Separate Church and Sports? http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/10/16/time-to-separate-church-and-sports/

Feminism Unfulfilled–Why Are So Many Women Unhappy? http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/10/23/feminism-unfulfilled-why-are-so-many-women-unhappy/

The Divorce Divide–A National Embarrassment http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/10/28/the-divorce-divide-a-national-embarrassment/

Posted October 29, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Mourning Alongside The Suffering In Richmond   2 comments

Five suspects were arrested in connection with a recent gang-rape of a 15-year-old outside of her high school prom in Richmond, CA. Police believe that as many as 10 men were involved in the rape and as many as 20 spectators watched for over two hours without notifying authorities. Police eventually found the girl curled up near a lunch table, semi-conscious. She was taken to the hospital to receive extensive treatments for significant injuries. The five suspects (age 15, 16, 17, 19, 21) will face life imprisonment, states the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office.

There are many thoughts swirling in my head about the ramifications of sin, the depravity of the world we live in, the escalation of sin when it is left undealt with, and my earnest desire for Jesus Christ to return soon. But I’ll leave those thoughts to that comment alone. Instead, there are just a few points that I want to elaborate on, if you would be so kind as to hear my thoughts.

First, this is a time to mourn with, and pray for, the victim and her family and friends. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (v.4). This is truly a time to weep and mourn for the horrendous ordeal this girl went through and the unimaginable physical, mental and spiritual suffering she is enduring at this present moment in the hospital. Even as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) during time when people had great loss and faced tremendous suffering, so should Christians cry and weep and mourn at this time.

Second, God can heal, both physically and spiritually. The Bible makes it clear that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Therefore, Christians are free to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and “fear no evil” because God is “with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). God promises that He can and He will heal souls, but He has also shown in numerous instances that He cares for those who suffer physically and He has the power to relieve their physical sufferings, as well.

Third, remember, and do not forget, that God is sovereignly in control in this situation, as He is in every little thing that goes on in our lives. A great promise of God can be found in Lamentations 3:31-33: “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” There are, finally, three verses I want to point to for Christians to think about in times of suffering that point to finding comfort in the sovereign goodness of God.

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done… I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).

There is hope and healing found in Jesus Christ.

Posted October 28, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Crazy Passion   Leave a comment

The following article, written by John Brandon of Christianity Today, was written on October 16, 2009. The pictures were added by me because the article was too long and I thought having pretty pictures would help break it up.

Francis Chan has two laughs, and both are infectious.

One is a chuckle that reveals his capricious nature and wit. The other is an uproarious guffaw, reserved for moments when he finds something unusually funny, comically embarrassing, or just plain odd. The 41-year-old Hong Kong native has a number of parallel ministries.

The first, Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, Chan started in 1993. The prestigious ex-urban city north of Los Angeles and just east of Ventura Beach attracts an upper middle class of Starbucks regulars. Today Cornerstone runs four services on Sundays, and Chan’s preaching has attracted about 4,000 regular attendees who come to multiple campuses in the L.A. area. Its main church campus matches the Spanish mission style of the surrounding homes. Inside are few accoutrements—a small stage with a baptismal font, no banners or stained-glass windows, and no pulpit.

Chan’s second ministry is less visible but more audible: weekly Simi Valley sermons that attract a worldwide audience of tens of thousands. His sermons consistently rank in the top 20 Christian podcasts on iTunes, in a group that includes Mark Driscoll and John Piper. In 2005, he spoke at his first Passion Conference, and since then has spoken at conferences almost every week (30 so far in 2009).

Chan’s speaking style may be informal and punctuated with humor, but he constantly presses his listeners to be completely devoted to Christ. In an Easter 2008 message, Chan told a story about a young woman who was dating a man who said he was waiting to see how their relationship panned out. Chan told his listeners they should not act like that toward God. If you are here on Easter, he said, because you think this “God thing” might turn out okay, don’t bother—God is looking for people who are fully committed and eager to serve him.

As Chan puts it, “Churches we build only by our own efforts and not in the strength of the Spirit will quickly collapse when we don’t push and prod people along.”

Chan’s third ministry is writing. His first book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, argues for a ruthlessly authentic form of Christianity, and has sold 350,000 copies since it released in spring 2008. His newest, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, hit bookstores in September.

Despite what is clearly a flourishing ministry, Chan remains an anomaly. He lives in a tract house in one of Simi Valley’s down-and-out suburbs with his wife and four children. He rides a 1995 Honda Elite scooter to work. An avid surfer, he emits a laid-back Californian coolness.

According to one comment he made in a sermon, Chan gives away about 90 percent of his income (though his church administrator preferred the phrase “most of his income”). Chan doesn’t take a salary from his church, and his book royalties, which total about $500,000, mostly go to organizations like International Justice Mission, which rescues sex slaves in foreign countries. The Chans often open their home to families who need a place to stay. One of Cornerstone’s community pastors, Bill Lucas, lived with Chan for nine months, and says he “lives out what he says.”

In an age that is cynical about religious leaders, the Chans’ lifestyle no doubt helps to explain why the pastor has attracted so many listeners and readers. There is also his restlessness to bring others to a relationship with Christ, even if it means starting all over again.

From Hong Kong to Simi Valley

Ask anyone at Cornerstone what has most shaped Chan, and they will likely talk about his early childhood. Chan’s mother, Moy Won Chan, died while giving birth to him in 1968 in Hong Kong. He spent his formative years in Hong Kong living under the strict parenting of his father, Paul, who would, as Chan writes in Crazy Love, beat him for “disobeying or bothering” him, though he says it taught him discipline and respect. Paul remarried when Chan was about 7 years old, and moved the family to California. Chan’s stepmother died in a car accident shortly thereafter; then, when Chan was in junior high school, his father died of cancer.

Chan eventually moved to Stockton, California, to live with extended family. There he became involved in a local youth group and came to Christ. After attending the Master’s College north of Los Angeles, where he earned a seminary degree, Chan landed a youth pastor position at the Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth, California, a short drive from Simi Valley.

During this time, Chan says he separated his religious views from his personal life. “Those were the worst years of my life,” Chan told me. “I learned more intellectually than any other time of my life, but it was a sinful, hypocritical time.”

Chan left the youth position to wait tables at a local restaurant. He says he was confused and disillusioned; he was “falling apart” and ready for a change. During this time, Chan met his future wife, Lisa, who sang in the worship team at a local church. Chan slowly began gathering 10 other families who were also disillusioned with their faith and the church. In 1993 he married Lisa and, two months later, started Cornerstone.

Planting ‘Gatherings’

Chan finds himself at a new juncture. He is stepping aside as day-to-day leader of Cornerstone for several months to begin a new ministry. He will train pastors in nearby Los Angeles County who will in turn gather groups to meet in house churches.

“The main reason to step over to L.A. County is the sheer number of people who live there,” says Chan. “Simi Valley is a city of 100,000 people, but about 15 minutes away are millions of people. We are trying something different—a lot of people in Simi Valley are not ready for the changes we have planned.”

That something different is what he is calling “transforming church.” According to research from Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow, only 25 percent of U.S. young adults attend church, wary as they are of organized religion. Chan is convinced that something needs to change about the way evangelicals do church.

“In church, rather than rehab people, we just put them in a wheelchair and say, ‘We will do everything for you,’ ” says Chan. “‘You don’t have to witness to your neighbors. We will send out fliers and do tv shows and evangelize for you. You don’t have to counsel your neighbors; just give them the church’s phone number.’

“Now we are saying, ‘You be the discipler. You have the Holy Spirit in you, and we want to equip you to reach your neighbors.'”

Chan’s long-term plan involves building the church without having a building. Associate pastor Matt Moore says the experiment is a way to find out how the church can grow without the limits of a building. Each satellite church will have an elder overseeing the local body, and that congregation can choose whether or not to go to the main campus in Simi Valley.

Cornerstone will at first use this model with several small churches that will meet autonomously. The ministry hinges on a website called IAmChurch.org, where the local churches can find sermon videos and other resources.

Chan says these “gatherings” (he does not like the term house church because it implies another building that can limit growth) will be more like a student lab project, where everyone is highly engaged and involved, as opposed to a lecture hall, where only one person speaks. In fact, Chan says a church service should not be the primary, pivotal event for these neighborhood ministries.

“There is nothing normal about this,” Chan said in the first training session. And despite his general vision, he adds, “We don’t even have plans for how this will look three months from now; we will just pray like crazy and ask the Holy Spirit to build his church.” Todd Nighswonger, executive pastor at Cornerstone, says that Crowded House in the United Kingdom and the Soma Communities in Seattle are models for the L.A. County experiment.

Jeff Vanderstelt is an elder and church planter with Soma Communities. He says Soma has 45 small neighborhood churches that convene in six larger groups on a weekly basis. Vanderstelt says Scripture never described the church as such a formal and commercialized entity, but something that’s all about local believers.

“In the beginning stages of the church, people met from house to house and eventually established city churches,” says Vanderstelt. He says the structure is intended to encourage authentic discipleship, where small churches birth more small churches as believers grow and mature, attracting new members. Vanderstelt says the main challenge with this approach is that it requires a shift in leadership perspective, and “not just recruiting volunteers for programs. Many churches have elders who are more like board members, and pastors who are more like managers or directors of programs—not pastors who can lead churches.”

Eddie Gibbs, director of the Institute for the Study of Emerging Churches, says that Chan’s model represents a response to the “post-Christendom context” of America: “For 1,600 years, the church in the West has been one of the central pillars of society, and it operated largely on a come-to-us basis.” Gibbs says the “seeker sensitive” model is the last manifestation of this approach.

“With an increasing percentage of the population distanced from institutional religion,” he says, “churches have to move from an attractional mindset to an incarnational missional model. In other words, churches must become the seekers.”

Push back

Vanderstelt says Cornerstone should move slowly, and Chan himself knows the venture is risky. He has consistently said in sermons that he doesn’t know if a church with such a loose structure can work in the U.S.

In addition, he has discovered that his “church with no walls” has caused no small amount of controversy. Some dissenters say they prefer a weekly large-group gathering with a sermon and worship time.

“There is nothing wrong with having a service, but it was not the big emphasis back in the early church,” says Chan. “People were gathered around the mission and getting the message out. There used to be such a deep commitment to one another.

“The church got screwed up as time went on, but there was so much excitement in the beginning. So many people would come to Christ that you could not fit them all in your church building.”

Brad Smith, president of Bakke Graduate University, applauds Chan’s flexibility regarding buildings and puts it into historical perspective: “When the church was poor and persecuted, it thrived without buildings, staff, or programs. When the church was rich and dominated its culture, it thrived with buildings, full-time staff, and extensive programs.” Smith says there is nothing wrong with buildings or the lack thereof: “God empowers the church to be very flexible and healthy in a variety of circumstances.”

Chan has been pushing another controversial idea that he hopes the gatherings, modeling the early church, will practice: sharing personal possessions with each other. Some say the idea is too “cult like” and impossible to implement in an era of bank loans and car leases. But Chan remains restless about cultural conformity and seems willing to push his listeners to make real changes rather than just consume more information.

“Churchgoers in America are notorious for jumping into movements, even ideas that are hard to listen to,” says Chan. “But when they actually have to change their lifestyle and do something about it, it rarely translates into action.”

Chan recognizes his limitations. He tells of how he was asked to teach at a conference in Iran and realized he had no idea how to help pastors and lay ministers in countries where Christianity is not part of society, where citizens do not take their spiritual freedom for granted. He says leading people to Christ is more than about having an airtight process—the Holy Spirit has to move people. Yet Chan says he will keep trying to reach those around him.

“I have to keep throwing the gospel out there and see what happens,” he says with a laugh.

Posted October 24, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Ben Zobrist–Tampa Bay Rays   1 comment

This interview was taken from Tim Challies’ blog: http://www.challies.com. Thank you, Ed Lan, for finding this story for me:

I met Ben Zobrist while in was in Nashville speaking at the Nashville Conference on the Church and Theology. The conference was hosted by Community Bible Church, the church he and his wife, Julianna, call home (Julianna is a professional singer and musician. You can visit her MySpace). Ben was pointed out to me as the shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays (apparently they are no longer the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). I know the Rays well as they share a division with my hometown Toronto Blue Jays. Ben, who was the opening day shortstop for the Rays in 2007, but who finished the season with an injury, is currently on the 40-man roster and is looking good to earn a spot on the 25-man roster (and hence a position on the major league squad) to begin the new season.

Ben ZobristThough Ben’s major league career has been short, he has already been involved in a play that is unique in the annals of professional baseball—a triple play in which the bat never touched the ball (a player struck out, a runner was caught trying to steal second and a third player was subsequently caught trying to steal home). If you’re a baseball fan and haven’t yet seen the play, you’ll want to! You can do so here.

Ben was kind enough to answer a few questions I sent to him, even though he is just settling into training camp.

How did you come to know the Lord?

God brought me to Himself at about the age of 4. My parents were devout believers and my Dad was in Bible College at the time. I remember hearing the gospel in Sunday school and I talked to my Mom about it one night before bed. It was clear to me that I was a sinner and I was not going to heaven if I died without accepting Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for me. I was brought to Christ out of fear of going to hell. I didn’t want to go there after I died, and there was only one other choice in my mind as a 4 year old. I wanted to go to heaven. It was and is that simple.

How do you seek to bring glory to God through your career as a baseball player?

First of all, I try to be excellent at my job, because I know God wants me to give my best to be a walking witness and ambassador of the excellence of Jesus Christ. My teammates and coaches are watching to see if my relationship with Christ makes me any different on the ballfield, and I pray that God will be represented in my play as excellent. At the same time, I am seeking to be an active part of the body of Christ among ballplayers by using the spiritual gifts God has given me to encourage and build up my fellow teammates as well as the Baseball Chaplain that ministers to us on a weekly basis. We have weekly bible studies and Sunday morning chapel services. The nature of the game also gives me great opportunity to visit and share my faith in Christ on a regular basis with individuals, schools, and churches. So I try to use that platform to give glory to God as well.

Do you feel any particular kind of increased responsibility as both a Christian and an athlete?

I do sense an increased responsibility as a Christian athlete in our culture, because our culture exalts performance so much. There are many kids and adults alike who dream of being in our shoes. I believe as a Christian athlete, we are called to use that highly respected platform to deflect any praise to Whom it really belongs and to help people see beyond the glory of a man-made game or ballpark.

As a baseball player you have to be away from home for months at a time. How do you maintain your spiritual health while you are on the road and unable to be a part of a church? How do you maintain family relationships?

My wife and I are still learning how to do this effectively. Playing on Sunday afternoons (required to be at the park in the morning) creates an even more difficult situation than just being away from our Home church. Not only is it near impossible to be involved at a local church where we are playing, but we play at nights during the week until Sunday when we have an afternoon game, after which we usually have to travel to the next city right after the game. This makes it almost impossible just to attend any service. Baseball Chapel, an organization which provides an on-call minister in each baseball community, has been a great help with bible study during the week as well as ready networking among Christian ballplayers. We attend a service when we can. We take advantage of what Baseball Chapel offers. We read as much scripture personally as we can. And we also try to listen to podcast sermons as much as we can. To stay connected to family, we spend a lot of time talking on the phone and friends and family come visit us at various cities when they can. We are blessed to have great family and friends who encourage us in Christ throughout the baseball season.

Ben Zobrist

How do you stay connected to your local church during the baseball season? What role does your home church play in your life during the season?

We listen to our home church pastor Byron Yawn’s sermons through podcast. I am part of a men’s Theology class at church as well, and one of the men sends me an mp3 of the study that week. We keep up with prayer requests and activities through massive church emails. Pastor Byron calls every so often to check on us to see how we are doing. We also try to do a mass update to everyone every so often to let everyone know how we are doing and how to pray. Prayer is the main role the local church plays in our lives during the season. Prayer is powerful and much needed as it seems there are few ballplayers that have a strong connection to a local church back home that is praying for them.

How can we pray for Christian athletes? What particular needs or challenges do athletes have that require prayer?

Pray first and foremost against idolatry for us. It is easy to make success in our sport an idol when you want to be excellent. It is easy to set ourselves above others and most grievously above God when people treat you “special”, almost like an idol. Pray for right perspective and constant humility against our prideful flesh. Pray against temptation of all things worldly. And pray for spiritual openness and conversation amongst believers. Athletes tend to have hard outer shells and they think it is weak to share their hearts.

How does an athlete – someone who people know and recognize – handle being in a local church without being a distraction?

I wear a hat and glasses…just kidding. People don’t know who I am when I go to church. I guess I’m not bigtime yet…Ha! Seriously though, I think when you go to worship the Lord with His people, if you bring an attitude of humility, and it is obvious what you are there for, people get it. I love that our local church treats us no different than any other, and I’d be worried if it was any other way. I believe we are best as the body of Christ when we show absolutely no partiality among the saints.

Who are your main spiritual influences?

My parents and my wife’s parents have been incredible examples in our lives. There are some great Christian men in my life that I look up to on a regular basis. My accountability partner, my Chapel leader and his family, our pastor and local church back in Nashville are other main influences. Others include pastors I’ve listened to personally and through podcast that faithfully preach the Word of God.

What are a few good books you’ve read recently? What are a few you’re hoping to read soon?

The Saints’ Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter
The Measure of a Man by Gene Getz
The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
Overachievement by John Eliot

Soon, I hope to read…

Famine in the Land by Steven Lawson
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
Humility by CJ Mahaney
Cinderella Man by Jeremy Schaap
Oh yeah……and uh Spiritual Discernment by Tom Challies or somebody like that.

Should I draft you to be the cornerstone of my fantasy baseball squad this year? Are you willing to make me any performance guarantees?

You should definitely draft me, but I can’t guarantee a lot of points. Draft by faith.

(Ben asked Tim to “draft by faith.” In 2009, out of seemingly nowhere, Zobrist, in his first full season hit .297/.405/.543/.948 to put himself among the top second baseman in all of baseball. Zobrist had 62 extra-base hits, including 27 home runs; he also scored 91 runs and had 91 RBIs. That’s a serious reward of faith.)

Posted October 20, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Doyer Nation Need Not Worry   Leave a comment

My faith in the Dodgers is not blind. Here are six reasons why the Doyers need not worry:

1. Andre Ethier had six walk-off hits this season–more than any other player in baseball.

2. Matt Kemp had more extra-inning RBIs (10) this season than any player in baseball.

3. No player in the history of the sport has hit more playoff home runs than Manny Ramirez (29).

4. Clayton Kershaw has a left arm anointed by God (lowest opponent batting average and slugging percentage among starting pitchers).

5. Jonathan Broxton had the lowest opponent batting average among all pitchers (.165).

6. Tommy Lasorda reminds us to retain hope in the Dodgers: “If you don’t love the Dodgers, you might not get to heaven.”

Go Doyers!

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

Cable is a Cruel Mistress   Leave a comment

(This was originally a post I made in 2006 after my apartment lost our cable. We were heartbroken, but Adelphia is the name of our cable service… not a person. I’m not murderous, just stupid.)

“Cable is a Cruel Mistress” by Mitchell Kim
As I looked into your eyes,
My heart pounded in my chest.
While others were good,
You truly were the best.
You consoled me at night,
And by day you were my rest.
I would stare at you daily,
Your sweet voice was my nest.
You counseled my days,
Made me forget Peter the Pest.
Now I pour out my heart to you,
My feelings won’t just sit and fest-er.
Why did you leave me?
Is this some sick test?
But now that you’re gone,
Baby, I must protest.
My world has been shaken,
And I am filled with unrest.
My drink I can’t swallow,
And my food I can’t digest.
Please come back to me, Adelphia,
And I’ll hold you by my breast.
Just come back to me,
Come back to me, lest
My heart should shatter,
And my life be so stressed.
I did not cherish our time,
With you I was blessed.
But you left me to suffer,
Peter and I are so depressed,
Adelphia, you suck!
I do detest.
My heart you possessed,
With you I was obsessed,
But now I’m gonna suggest,
That you never come into my life again,
Or else you’re gonna need a bullet-proof vest.
I don’t need you anymore, Adelphia!
I see what you can do to a happy home.
So you are now an unwelcomed guest.

Posted October 12, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized