Archive for February 2010

Celebration of Black History Month, Part I   Leave a comment

No, I am not a black man. I am Korean-American, not African-American. But I thought that, since it is Black History Month, I would write some short pieces on notable black figures in American history and church history. I’m not exactly sure how many pieces I will be writing, but I think I’m going to write at least three parts to celebrate Black History Month. This also coincides with my reading of Thabiti Anyabwile’s book “The Decline of African American Theology” so it’s fairly convenient for me to write this–and it also serves as a plug for Pastor Anyabwile and his wonderful writings.

Jupiter Hammon (1711-1806) was born a slave in Long Island, New York. He worked early on as a clerk and bookkeeper for his slave master’s family. Through his position, he had access to immense works of literature and theology, and he developed a Christian worldview that accentuated the inerrancy of His inspired Word, the Holy Bible. He is credited as being the first African-American to publish a work of literature, at the age of 49. He has published several works of literature in his lifetime, and gave us all an insight into the African-American Christian worldview of the time. Hammon was a proponent of the abolition of slavery and he expressed his sincere desire to see that “young Negroes were free.”

Of the Bible, Hammon once said, “The Bible is the word of God and tells you what you must do to please God; it tells you how you may escape misery and be happy forever. If you see most people neglect the Bible, and many that can read never look into it, let it not harden you and make you think lightly of it and that it is a book of no worth. All those who are really good love the Bible and meditate on it day and night. In the Bible, God has told us everything it is necessary we should know in order to be happy here and hereafter. The Bible is the mind and will of God to men.”

The following is a poem written by Hammon, entitled “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penetential Cries”

Salvation comes by Christ alone,
The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
That love his holy Word.

Dear Jesus, we would fly to Thee,
And leave off every Sin,
Thy tender Mercy well agree;
Salvation from our King.

Salvation comes now from the Lord,
Our victorious King.
His holy Name be well ador’d,
Salvation surely bring.

Dear Jesus, give thy Spirit now,
Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han’t the Lord to whom we bow,
The Author of Salvation.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
Give us the Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
We seek thy true Salvation.

Salvation comes from God we know,
The true and only One;
It’s well agreed and certain true,
He gave his only Son.

Lord, hear our penetential Cry:
Salvation from above;
It is the Lord that doth supply,
With his Redeeming Love.

Dear Jesus, by thy precious Blood,
The World Redemption have:
Salvation now comes from the Lord,
He being thy captive slave.

Dear Jesus, let the Nations cry,
And all the People say,
Salvation comes from Christ on high,
Haste on Tribunal Day.

We cry as Sinners to the Lord,
Salvation to obtain;
It is firmly fixed, his holy Word,
Ye shall not cry in vain.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
And make our Lamentation:
O let our Prayers ascend on high;
We felt thy Salvation.

Lord, turn our dark benighted Souls;
Give us a true Motion,
And let the Hearts of all the World,
Make Christ their Salvation.

Ten Thousand Angels cry to Thee,
Yea, louder than the Ocean.
Thou art the Lord, we plainly see;
Thou art the true Salvation.

Now is the Day, excepted Time;
The Day of the Salvation;
Increase your Faith, do not repine:
Awake ye, every Nation.

Lord, unto whom now shall we go,
Or seek a safe abode?
Thou has the Word Salvation Too,
The only Son of God.

Ho! every one that hunger hath,
Or pineth after me,
Salvation be thy leading Staff,
To set the Sinner free.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we fly;
Depart, depart from Sin,
Salvation doth at length supply,
The Glory of our King.

Come, ye Blessed of the Lord,
Salvation greatly given;
O turn your Hearts, accept the Word,
Your Souls are fit for Heaven.

Dear Jesus, we now turn to Thee,
Salvation to obtain;
Our Hearts and Souls do meet again,
To magnify thy Name.

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
The Object of our Care;
Salvation doth increase our Love;
Our Hearts hath felt they fear.

Now Glory be to God on High,
Salvation high and low;
And thus the Soul on Christ rely,
To Heaven surely go.

Come, Blessed Jesus, Heavenly Dove,
Accept Repentance here;
Salvation give, with tender Love;
Let us with Angels share.Finis.

Posted February 23, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Surely, You Jest: More Reading?!   1 comment

The following was written by Mike Schutt, director of Christian Legal Society Law Student Ministries and Associate Professor of Law at Regent University School of Law. These are just excerpts from his article in “The Christian Lawyer.”

[George] Orwell [who wrote 1984] warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in [Aldous] Huxley’s vision [who wrote Brave New World], no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism… Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As the television age has become the Internet era and the Facebook age has spawned the Twitter era, we seem well on our way to becoming Huxley’s preoccupied trivial culture, reduced to “passivity and egoism,” while the truth drowns in a sea of irrelevance.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate social networking tools and technologies… but I think Christians should be especially troubled by our advanced state of preoccupied distraction and our declining literacy…

Whether the technologies that we love have displaced faithful study, or simply filled the vacuum after we stopped really reading, it is clear to me that our abandonment of faithful study of the written word has played a major role in the trivialization of public discourse.

In some ways, Christian lawyers and law students are in an ideal position to take up the cause of the recovery of faithful study, at least as concerns of our own callings, if not to spur the recovery of logic, history, maturity and reasoned engagement in public discourse generally. But my experience is that, despite our rigorous reading, logical training, and analytical skills, we are no more dedicated to the study of words than others in our world…

My challenge, then to Christian law students is to rise to the level of your call–based on your intellectual gifts, the training you are receiving, and the tools at your disposal–and embrace your duty to study the Scriptures and the other books God has placed at your disposal. Resist the slide into triviality. Reject the justifications that you’re too busy and that you “read enough as it is.” While you are in law school, develop regular Bible study habits, read widely on the law and theology, and read for pleasure, taking time to discuss your reading with others and to reflect upon it.

Drop the standard excuses. First of all, you are not too busy. As my colleague Dan Kim likes to point, there is a difference between being “busy” and being stressed. Like it or not, you are likely experiencing the least busy time of your life right now (particularly if you are a 2L or 3L). The demands of law school are no match for the ever-growing and conflicting financial and emotional demands of raising a family and learning, then growing a law practice…

Set aside time to actually study Scripture. We need to make sure that we are studying Scripture, first and foremost, in addition to our law school coursework… As Richard Foster points out: “The process that occurs in study should be distinguished from meditation. Meditation is devotional; study is analytical. Meditation will relish a word; study will explicate it. Although meditation and study often overlap, they constitute two distinct experiences. Study provides a certain objective framework within which medication can successfully function.”…

Read. We must read books that will help us develop historical or biblical perspectives on law and legal institutions. If we are serious about our calling as lawyers and the role of the church in our spiritual development, we will seek the wisdom of others who have spoken or written on the law…

Discuss your reading and reflect on it. Finally, our study should include both discussion with others and private reflection. We should “kick around” what we read with friends. We should listen, too, and learn from those more knowledgeable than ourselves. In addition, we need to be alone with our thoughts, finding time for reflective contemplation of the topics we study…

The challenge for all of us is to figure out what they are and then address them head on. We usually know our preoccupations. The question is whether we’re willing to abandon these beloved technologies in favor of the discipline of serious study. May the Lord grant us the grace to study to His glory.

I wanted to share with whoever two or three of you that read this what I’ve been reading lately, in addition to law school books–not to boast, but hopefully to encourage you to persevere. I hope that you guys would comment and let me know what you’ve been reading, too.

“Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” by Francis Chan
This is an amazing book that just feeds the soul with the amazing truth of God’s great love for His own, and His calling for us to love Him with all that we have… because He is our greatest good and He is our all-satisfying pursuit.

“The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity” by Thabiti Anyabwile
Anyabwile goes through major and central Christian doctrines, such as theology proper, soteriology, and pneumatology, and he goes through the history of beliefs in the African-American church. Throughout this book, he gives detailed and clear insights into the beliefs of well-known and biblically-rooted African-American church leaders, such as Lemuel Haynes and Bishop Daniel Payne, as well as modern spiritually-shallow Christianity-lite men such as T.D. Jakes.

“The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy” by Bill Simmons
Simmons is my favorite sports writer because of the depth of his sports knowledge, the cleverness of his analysis, and the humor (although sometimes too lewd) that ties it all together. The only thing I disagree with Simmons in this book is that he does not place Kobe Bryant as one of the top-10 basketball players of all time–what a hater.

Posted February 20, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Acts 7   Leave a comment

Stephen recounts the faithfulness of God throughout the history of the Jewish nation and the Jew’s constant rebellion against Him. Although the main thing Stephen was trying to show was that these people were “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,” there was something else I was struck with… the faithfulness of God throughout history. Because, Stephen’s martyrdom under the hands of Saul would be tied in to Saul’s eventual conversion to Paul, and the gospel of Jesus Christ was spread throughout the Gentile nations.

This past Sunday, CJ Mahaney (one of the founding pastors of my church, Covenant Life Church) spoke on Jude. And one of the things that stood out was again the faithfulness of God in calling His people to Himself. And God uses great men of faith who are known throughout history, such as Abraham and Joseph and Moses and David. But there were so many others in between that God used to set up the lives of these men. For CJ, it was his former pot-head friend who came to speak the gospel to him just weeks after giving his life to Christ. And the fruit of that act of faith has been amazing. For those of you who don’t know of CJ’s ministry, I want to give a short summary (not for building up CJ, but to show the faithful work of God):

– He is the founding pastor of Covenant Life Church and is currently the President of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
– He has overseen the planting of over 60 churches in America and over a dozen churches around the world.
– He has spoken at numerous conferences (Together for the Gospel, NEXT, Resolved, etc.) and has been the voice and the heart that has drawn hundreds and thousands to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

And, for all of you who have a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus, you can look back and think about the amazing faithfulness of God in sovereignly bringing you to a repentant faith. Here’s a short look back into some highlights to my conversion:

– In 1884, Henry Appenzeller and Horace Underwood became the first Protestant missionaries to Korea.
– In 1887, John Ross translated the Bible into Korean.

– During the Great Depression in the United States, Congress passed the US Housing Act.

– In 1954, my grandparents had a love child, their 11th. Seeing as how my grandmother was in her 40’s when she gave birth to my mom, she was born with several health complications. There were confusions with her birth records which I won’t get into, but it played a role in her getting to America.
– Around a decade later, my grandfather passed away.
– During the 70’s, my mom sold all that she had and moved to Hawaii in order to get under the purview of the American healthcare system to care for her rapidly failing liver.

– The US Housing Act was amended in 1974 and “Section 8” was created to allow for subsidized housing for low-income families.
– When she moved to Los Angeles, she met my father, and they had me.
– In 1993, my mom made it to the front of the transplant donor list, and she had her liver transplant. She subsequently fell into a coma for three months, and my father left us for his previous wife in Korea.
– When my mom was brought out of her coma through the miraculous hands of God, I spent much of my childhood taking care of her and assuming adult responsibilities. I gave myself numerous pats on the back.
– I went to Berendo Middle School in Los Angeles, where I was one of the only Asian males attending a school that was predominately Hispanic is a city where Mexicans and Koreans didn’t have the greatest of relationships. After a few months, my mom decided that I would not last at that school and we found government-subsidized housing in South Pasadena, CA.
– During these years, my mom forced me to go to church and I hated it, but faked it pretty well to those around me.
– I didn’t study much in high school, but I somehow made it in to UCLA (even though I had my heart set on going to USC). I also thought of going to an Ivy League school in the East Coast, but my laziness with studying caught up to me and I forgot to turn in my Ivy applications.

– UCLA placed students in dorm rooms at random, and somehow my roommate was Nate, a guy I went to high school with.
– In the first day in the dorms, I was bored and there were no parties to attend during the day, so Nate and I went around to try to score free food. Somehow, we volunteered to host a weekly freshman Bible study in our dorm room.
– John, my Bible study leader, kept on telling me the gospel, even though I already thought I knew it. In the last few months of 2003, God used one of these repetitive moments to pierce my heart and open my eyes to see that I was a sinner deserving of wrath. God showed me that my righteousness of being smart and being a 효자 (which is like being an “honorable child”) meant nothing, and that I could only cling to the righteousness of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.
– My salvation in 2003 at UCLA has now brought me to Wheaton, MD.

So, God used the first Protestant translation of the Bible, the Great Depression, my mom’s liver failure, and my rejection from USC to bring me to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Posted February 16, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Overcoming Ethnic Hostility With a View Fixed on Calvary   Leave a comment

I learned about Michael Oh, a Korean brother in Christ, from the Gospel Coalition. He is a Korean-American missionary in Japan with a powerful message of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ which overcomes all forms of ethnic animosity and hostility. He started Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan in 2005. And I pray that he would help bring the gospel to a godless nation–Japan is one of the least Christian nations in the world.

http://vimeo.com/8508657 (WATCH THE VIDEO)

I also wanted to add a few personal thoughts as a Korean-American. I’ve never had any hostility toward the Japanese or Japanese-Americans. However, I have known older Koreans who have ranged from bristling at the mention of the Japanese to becoming enraged at the thought of interacting with them. I’ve never fully understood it because, well, I’ve never experienced it. My understanding of the Japanese oppression of the Korean people was that the Japanese killed many Koreans by stuffing Korean chili paste (고추장) up their noses until they suffocated to death. And I knew that many Korean women were raped by Japanese soldiers and were forbidden from speaking Korean. But I never really thought of there being a special hatred reserved in the hearts of Koreans against the Japanese. Actually, I generally thought Koreans had an aversion towards all ethnicities, living up to their nickname as the “Hermit Kingdom.”

But my thoughts on the Korean-Japanese hostility were peaked by the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. South Korea, which is usually a powerhouse in speed skating, placed all their hopes and attention this year on women’s figure skating. Part of the reason is Yuna Kim (김연아), who is considered the world’s top female figure skater. The other part, however, is that her two main competitors are both from Japan: Mao Asada and Miki Ando. And people in Korea are excited and blood-thirsty over the competition that pits Japan against South Korea for Olympic supremacy. Koreans want to show their superiority over Japan and stick it to the nation, if but in a small way.

And that’s just hard for me to understand. I can try to understand, but it’s easy for me to tell the Koreans to get over it and to forgive the Japanese. Because I wasn’t there; I wasn’t persecuted and I don’t have thoughts of beatings and rapes and murders fresh in my mind. It’s easy for me to tell the blacks in America to forgive the whites. It’s easy for me to tell the Jews to forgive the Germans and the Arabs (and the Arabs to forgive the Jews). It’s just theory to me, and it’s just pages in a history book. I can try to understand it, but I didn’t live it. And I can’t truly imagine the hurt endured and the scars built up from such atrocities.

But I know that Jesus Christ died for all of that. For every ethnic slur, for every brutal rape, and for every heartless murder–Jesus blood covered all of that for those who have turned to Him in genuine repentance. And, being that South Korea is one of the most Christian nations in the world, I think it imperative for Koreans and Korean-Americans alike to put to death the deep-seeded hatred towards the Japanese and show them the love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Posted February 14, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Dignity–1 Timothy 3   Leave a comment

When Paul writes his letter to Timothy, he tells him of the qualifications of an elder in the church. The foremost qualification, under which all the other qualifications are subsumed, is that an elder “must be above reproach.” The literal Greek means that he “cannot be held.” In a criminal jurisprudence sense (for all of you legal minds out there), there can be no charges against him that would continue beyond a motion for summary judgment. Or, as John MacArthur said, “There is no valid accusation of wrongdoing that can be made against him.”

But similar requirements are made of men seeking to be deacons and women, in general. Deacons “likewise must be men of dignity” and women “must likewise be dignified.” It seems that the “likewise” is linking both deacons (which, combined with eldership, captures the entire male gender, according to 1 Timothy 3:1) and women to the qualification of an elder, which, as was stated before, is subsumed under the one qualification: irreproachable.

But the term “dignity” is a little different. Different by definition, but ultimately pointing to the same thing as eldership–irreproachability. To be dignified is to be honorable. There is a sense of seriousness and maturity about the person. And honor is due to those who keep from sin and are, thereby, irreproachable, so…

I’m not saying that they’re the same qualifications, but I think the “dignified” qualification points to the “above reproach” qualification. In either sense, we are to live dignified lives–lives of soberness that merit honor according to God’s standard, not the world’s. Be dignified.

Posted February 10, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Snowed In   Leave a comment

법대

우리 집 옆에 길…

미첼이 눈보다 힘이 더 강하다

그 다음 날, 길 사진

저는 쥐포를 너무 먹고싶어서, 슈퍼마켓까지 거러 갔습니다

가면서, 눈에 걸렸어요

집 사진

…끝.

Posted February 10, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Adjusting the Gospel to the Peril of Those Who Hear   Leave a comment

I seem to be stealing a lot from Thabiti Anyabwile recently. This is a topic that he is preaching on for the upcoming Together for the Gospel Conference 2010. I haven’t been making a priority of stealing his work, but God has just led my heart in that direction… Maybe He wants me to move to the Cayman Islands. (Or maybe I’m just dreading shoveling the 2+ feet of snow on my driveway.)

Christians are to proclaim the gospel to those around us, to win people for Christ and “make disciples” unto the ends of the earth. Yet, whether we talk to a stranger or talk to a friend, there is sometimes a hint of fear (and most often a giant snowball of oh-my-gosh-please-don’t-hate-me-and-please-don’t-punch-me-in-the-face). We want to be loved and we don’t want to be rejected. We want to love Jesus Christ, but we don’t want others to hate us because of our love for Jesus. So we figure out how we can have both. Never mind that Jesus said:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

and

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man” (Luke 16:22).

Never mind that Jesus said that, invariably, if we preach the gospel, we will be hated by many. Because, well… we figured out the secret that Jesus never did. We can have both!

WORKS-BASED GOSPEL: Some have adjusted the gospel so that, rather than focusing on the grace of God to save sinners, they push towards self-actualization. If you can do enough, you can be saved and earn your favor with God. People love this stuff because the onus is on them to achieve, and when they do achieve it… they’re gonna get the crown because they did such a good job.

SOCIAL GOSPEL: Others have adjusted the gospel to focus more on our relationship with others instead of our relationship with God. What matters isn’t that we have a right standing with God, or that, as Christians, we can have a relationship with God and get to know God more deeply and intimately. What matters is that we have a duty to love our neighbors, above all else. So, donate to charities and volunteer in soup kitchens and enter into the medical field. (Now, these are not bad aspirations and, when Christ is at the center of all this–when He is the greatest motivation–rather than the impoverished, then God will be greatly pleased.)

PROSPERITY GOSPEL: God is a God of blessing, right? So, if you donate $100 to my blog, God will give you $10,000. If you are sick, come to Jesus and you’ll never be sick again. If you are poor, turn to Jesus and you will have mansions and fancy cars. If you are stuck in a minimum-wage job, give your life to Jesus and He will make you the CEO. Rub His belly and shine His lamp, and He will give you unlimited wishes.

But God, knowing our propensity to adjust truth and to make it more palatable, states the following in Jeremiah 23:16-22:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.
“They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”‘; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’
“But who has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listen?
“Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest; it will swirl down on the head of the wicked.
“The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it.
“I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied.
“But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil ways and from the evil of their deeds.”

Do not attempt to adjust the gospel. While it seems like you’re doing them good by giving them a little sweet with the bitter, you’re giving them a completely different product than the gospel. As it says in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Be a friend and inflict a wound on their pride by letting them know that they are sinners who have sinned against a holy God. And while that might hurt them a bit, you are providing for them everlasting peace and life because of Jesus, the God-man, who lived a perfect life and died on the cross, taking on the wrath that we deserved as sinners and giving to us a gift of righteousness. Love others enough, and love God enough, to tell them the unadulterated gospel.

Posted February 6, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized