Archive for March 2010

Praise the Lord   Leave a comment

O, that I would feel these words and trust in their promises.

Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations;
His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God,
Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes,
With the princes of His people.
He makes the barren woman abide in the house
As a joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 113

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Posted March 31, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Judas, My Son   Leave a comment

“Judas, My Son” is a poem by John Piper. It’s a powerful, fictional narrative of Judas Iscariot from the person of his father. His father worked hard to raise his son up in the fear of the Lord. But, Judas spurned his father’s love, and he left home without ever contacting his father again. Judas’ father only comes to know of his son when Peter returned Judas’ dead body so his father could bury him. And, as we all question the Lord and say “Why Judas? Why let him be the traitor? Why do this to him?”, we come to see the sovereign goodness of God. We see that despite his father’s best attempts to raise his son righteously and despite Judas being discipled by Jesus Christ for three years, Judas’ heart was closed and calloused? Why? I don’t know all the why’s, but there are two things I know and two things I can rejoice in.

First, Judas’ betrayal led to the greatest fulfillment of Scripture as the Son of God hung on a tree to die for the sins of the world.

Second, I am reminded of, and humbled by, a quote from John Bradford: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I hope you enjoy the poem, and if you want to listen to Piper reading it, you can download it here.

Judas, My Son
by John Piper

For generations without shame
Iscariot had been a name
In Kirioth that everyone
Could trust, until the only son
Of Simon came of age and broke
His father’s heart. The common folk
Had thought it strange that Simon stayed
Unmarried after Mary laid
Her fevered head on Simon’s chest
And died before her swollen breast
Gave one day’s milk. He never told
His parents why, nor did they scold
Or press him for another wife.
For thirty years he lived his life
A widower with one great goal:
To love his son and save his soul.
No one but Simon knew what she
Had said that night. It was a plea,
And full of boding pain. She said,
“I fear, my love, that we have bred
A child of woe. And I have dreamed
A dream this night wherein it seemed
That something out of the abyss
Is here, and if he should but kiss,
It would mean death. O Simon, what
Have I brought forth, and we begot?
What evil deed and endless blot
Upon the name Iscariot?”

He held her in the candlelight
And fearful quietness all night.

“Dear Simon, can you see the dawn?”
“Not yet. The night is not yet gone.”
“For me it is,” she said, “and O,
That I could take the boy and go!
Or second best: that he had not
Been born! O love, no matter what
He does . . . or is, do not despair
Or sink in utter gloom, or bear
What is not yours to bear. Come near.
Think not that you have failed, nor fear
That God’s unworthy of your trust,
Or that in this he is unjust.”

And thus she died. And Simon bowed
Above her restful face and vowed
That he would marry none, but give
His love as long as he might live
To show his son the path of life
And void the warnings of his wife.

For twenty-seven years he trained
His son in righteous ways, and drained
The reservoir of love and hope
So low at times he scarce could cope
With thankless days and brazen face
And haughty eyes and sore disgrace.
For years the boy stole offerings at
The synagogue, and once he spat
Into the Rabbi’s face when he
Was caught. One time he said, “I’ll be
The keeper of the king’s account
Someday. You watch. And the amount
I steal from him will make this theft
Look like a petty thing.” And so, bereft
Of conscience, Judas mocked the cares
And pain of Simon, and his prayers.
The young men in the village said,
“That Judas-boy would steal the bread
And cup right off Messiah’s plate.”
His father never laughed.

“It’s late,
My son,” he said one night. The men —
The older ones — they say, ‘How can
A twig, when it is bent, grow straight?’
O Judas, Judas, it is late.
Come, make with me a brand new start,
I love you, son, with all my heart.”

For one last moment Judas stood
And looked into his father’s good
And loving eyes. Then took his sack
And headed out the door, looked back
And said, “In three years I will own
More silver than you’ve ever known.”
And he was gone. And Simon wept
For weeks, ate nothing, seldom slept,
And almost sank in utter gloom
But for the words on Mary’s tomb:
“Sink not in darkness nor despair,
Bear not what yours is not to bear:
When you have loved and lost then trust;
The ways of God are always just.”

And so three years went by until
One day, out on the northern hill
Of Kirioth, a large man walked
Before an ass-drawn cart, and talked
To no one on the way. He came
And asked, “Is there a man by name
Iscariot in town?” They showed
Him where the old man lived and bode
His days alone in simple trade.
“Are you Iscariot?” he laid
The rope across his burly frame.
“I am, and who are you?” “My name
Is Peter.” “Yes? What brings you down
To Kirioth? We’re not a town
That people come from Galilee
To see; what might your business be?”
“I knew your son.” Old Simon stared
In Peter’s face. “I knew you cared
About your son, and so I brought
Him home for burial. I thought
It would be easier to know
That he had died than just to go
On wondering.” The old man stood
In silence staring at the wood-
Cased cart. “Is that my son?” he said.
“Yes sir.” “How long has he been dead?”
“I’m not quite sure.” “How did he die?”
“He hanged himself.” “Do you know why?”
“The question ‘Why?’ has many layers,
And, Simon, some are the affairs
Of men and some of God alone.
What we should know we have been shown.
The secret things belong to God
And there are paths we dare not trod.”

The old man smiled beneath his tears,
“You sound like someone many years
Ago.” “Yes, Simon, she spoke well.
My Master sent me here to tell
You that her dying words were true.
And I can vouch that he like you
Has wept beside the mouth of hell.
But, Simon, one is not to dwell
Forever weeping in that place
Nor contemplate the end of grace
Too long. Remember what she said,
And what you wrote when she was dead:
“Sink not in darkness nor despair,
Bear not what yours is not to bear:
When you have loved and lost then trust;
The ways of God are always just.”

And so the light in candle two
Cannot suffice to answer you,
If you would know before its time
The deepest “why?” of every crime.
But trust for now what it reveals;
The time will come for opened seals.

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

Boasting In Your Weakness   Leave a comment

Robin Boisvert preached today on Matthew 26:69-27:10. This is the account of Peter’s denial and Judas’ remorse, and it was entitled “A Denier Restored, A Betrayer Rejected.” I just wanted to post some of my thoughts on it and from it. If you want to listen to it yourself, you can find it here.

We can learn a great lesson in Peter’s denial of Jesus Christ. And the lesson isn’t: Don’t deny Jesus. The lesson is regarding your assessment of yourself. As John Calvin said, “There is no one who does not cherish within himself some opinion of his own preeminence.” That is at the very heart of the problem of mankind… the pride in us that keeps us from submitting to God but rather choosing to go our own way apart from His caring guidance.

Here was an excerpt from Boisvert’s sermon, a portion that I thought was at the heart of his message for me and for the church:

“Peter needed a Savior, but before that could happen, Peter needed to know he needed a Savior… The same is true of you and me. But as long as we’re strong in ourselves; as long as we’re adept at saving ourselves, what need we of Christ?… This entire incident was engineered by God to show Peter that self-confidence and self-trust are entirely at odds with the humility that trusts in Christ as Savior. Peter was so strong… in his estimation of himself that he didn’t think he needed Christ… This experience was actually a severe mercy from God for Peter which he would never forget.”

Now, if you haven’t read the incident in Matthew 26, here is a short recap. Jesus said, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered'” (Matthew 26:31). Peter’s response is classic Peter–and, unfortunately, it looks a lot like classic me and classic you: “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away… Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:33, 35). Jesus told him that before a rooster crowed in the morning that next day, Peter would deny Jesus not once, but thrice. But, Peter thought, Jesus is underestimating my faithfulness and my loyalty. Because, if He knew how good I was, He would know that I could never fail Him like that. And, sadly, I have that same feeling all too often. Even if Peter failed, I wouldn’t have failed in that same circumstance. Oh, how the history of my life is so oft and quickly forgotten.

Peter ends up denying Jesus three times. He gets caught off guard, and, when he is first accused of being with Jesus, he pretends that he doesn’t understand the accusation. Then, upon another accusation shortly thereafter, he makes an oath that he doesn’t know Jesus. Then, after another accusation, he starts calling down curses on himself if he is lying about not knowing Jesus. Then, the rooster crows and he meets Jesus’ gaze. “And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

“Since our Lord Himself could not give us an instance of human infirmity, He has given it to us in the person of the most exalted of His pastors [Peter], that all may fear and none may presume and all may hope.”–Isaac Williams

I thought of this in the way I and so many others, whether Christian or not, exalt people in our day and age. And God is so kind to remind us that people, left to their own power and their own self-will, aren’t as good as they believe themselves to be. Think of the church leaders who have fallen to adultery, the world leaders that have fallen to adultery and financial corruption, and the celebrities who have become addicts of drugs, gambling and sex. It is just another reminder that we are not good enough to save ourselves. That is a reminder come straight from above… and it is a gracious reminder because it points all of us to the saving work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to take away the punishment for our sins that all those who would believe in Him would be saved eternally.

But you have to come to Jesus genuinely, and you have to come to Jesus wholeheartedly. It’s not enough to feel remorse over something you did, but that remorse has to turn you to Christ. A sad and sober reminder is Judas, who deeply regretted turning Jesus over to the Romans for he had “sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). What’s the difference between Peter and Judas, when they both turned against God and was devastated afterwards? The difference is in where their sorrow took them. Judas didn’t turn to Jesus, but went back to the Pharisees to relieve his conscience… on his own terms and by his own powers. He gave the Pharisees back their money and, still feeling bad but not wanting to turn to Christ, he hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10). Peter, on the other hand, turned back to God eventually. When Jesus, upon His resurrection, asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”, Peter’s response is a humble and contrite one: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

I needed this reminder that I’m not nearly as great as I sometimes think myself to be. My only sense of worth is found in Jesus Christ. So, I will echo the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:9: “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Posted March 21, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

The Mirror Don’t Lie   2 comments

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” — James 1:21-25

I was reminded of this passage as I was reading through Matthew 18. In that passage, there is story of a king who has a guy that owed him 10,000 talents. (Based on my rough, very rough, calculations, I think that could be the modern day equivalent to somewhere around $2 billion.) This guy begs, asking for patience, “and I will repay you everything.” The king, however, sees the guy in such a humbled state, so he has compassion and takes it a step further by completely forgiving the guy’s debt. He isn’t just given extra time to pay off a ridiculous debt, but he’s forgiven the entire balance. Then, this guy is walking down the street obviously excited and thankful, and he sees another guy who owed him around $7,000. (My math might be wrong, but it’s consistently wrong–so the numbers correlate.) He starts choking the guy who owes him money and when that guy begs for forgiveness, he had the guy thrown into prison until his family could repay the debt. The original guy ends up going before the king, who heard of this occurrence. The king says, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” The king then throws this guy into prison.

This reminded me of the James 1 passage because, if a Christian is to look into the mirror, he should accurately see that he isn’t anything great to look at. In fact, if we accurately assess ourselves, we should see that there is nothing good within us, but we stand on the shoulders on Jesus Christ… and He alone is our righteousness. Yet, James has to remind us to be doers, not merely hearers. It’s like we get forgiven this huge amount of debt, because our debt to God for the wages of our sins was ridiculous–we forget that we’re indebted to God when we go out and live in sin and without love. We forget who we truly are, and what has been forgiven us, when we are unloving to others and to God.

That story in Matthew 18 should sound ridiculous. How many people would really rack up a $2 billion debt, have the entire debt wiped clean, then go fight a guy for 7 grand??? That’s ridiculous, right?!?! Yet, that’s exactly what it is when we as Christians reflect in our personal times with God that we have been saved from our sins, and then go out into the world to live as if that act of God is inconsequential. It doesn’t matter if you know, if it doesn’t change who you are and how you live.

So, although we are never going to be justified by our works, our works and our acts and our lives should reflect the change in our hearts. Christians aren’t going to be perfect, but Christians should have a heart that long to follow Christ. So… remember that image in the mirror. It reflection should show a person who has nothing to boast about but Christ alone. Then, go out, and live in light of that reflection.

Posted March 18, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Celebration of Black History Month, Part II   Leave a comment

I’m sorry that this post is being put up a week after the end of Black History month. Things have come up, and I just haven’t been able to post. Sadly, this will only be a two-part series, not the grand seven-part series my mind envisioned.

Daniel Alexander Payne lived for 82 years in the 1800’s in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents, who were both free blacks, died when he was just a child, and he was raised by his grandmother. Despite the severe setbacks of being black in the South and growing up without his parents, Payne taught himself Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He later received formal training at the Lutheran Theological Seminary and, upon graduation, became a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).

I’m not too familiar of the current reputation of the AME, but Payne set a strong foundation for that denomination with his high view of Scripture. He gave a comprehensive view into his biblical worldview in the following quote:

“An individual man or woman must never follow conviction in regard to moral, religious, civil and political questions until they are first tested by the unerring word of God… If a conviction infringes upon the written word of God, or in any manner conflicts with the word, the conviction is not to be followed. It is our duty to abandon it. Moreover, I will add that light on a doubtful conviction is not to be sought for in the conscience, but in the Bible. The conscience, like the conviction, may be blind, erroneous, misled, or perverted; therefore it is not always a safe guide. The only safe guide for a man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, priest or people is in the Bible, the whole Bible, nothing but the Bible.”

The African-American church had such a great foundation of men who relied on the Word of God. But tragically, much of the African-American church has fallen into moral relativity, cultural Christianity, and a social gospel that seeks after prosperity on earth. Fortunately, the Lord has kept a remnant of African-Americans brethren and African-American church leaders who are after God’s own heart. I don’t claim to know all of them, but I want to highlight and extend thanks to a few that I know of.

Thabiti Anyabwile
I have to thank Thabiti because all this information is from his book. 🙂 And I’ve listened to some of his thoughtful and well-crafted sermons, and I am very thankful for not merely his preaching ministry, but for his books which have given me some insights into the African-American church. Thabiti is currently the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.

Carl Hargrove
Pastor Hargrove is a seminary professor at The Master’s Seminary, and I had the privilege of hearing him preach a couple of times while I was in college.  The man has a great preaching style, but his presence doesn’t overwhelm what is truly of greatest importance–the message of God spoken through His divine Word. Hargrove is currently the senior pastor of Fairview Heights Baptist Church in Inglewood, CA.

Posted March 8, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Black Children Are An Endangered Species   Leave a comment

I got the following info from Albert Mohler’s blog: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/03/03/newsnote-black-children-are-an-endangered-species/

According to the most recent survey numbers, African-Americans make up 13% of the nation’s population, yet they have nearly 40% of the nation’s abortion. Since Roe v. Wade, there have been nearly 19 million black babies aborted. Such a tragedy…

Here are some sites for you:

http://www.toomanyaborted.com/

http://www.abort73.com/

http://wetheposterity.org/blog/

I understand the pro-choice position because it seems harsh that young women have their lives drastically changed way too early, but such are the consequences of unprotected sex. I don’t want to minimize their pain and their trauma throughout the whole ordeal, but I want to bring out the blatant hypocrisy of a legal system where assaulting a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child is considered murder, yet willfully allowing a doctor to kill the child maybe a week or two earlier is considered merely a legal abortion.

The original Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade is Norma McCovey. Since the abortion case (where she never followed through on the actual abortion), she has become one of the foremost advocates for illegalizing abortions.

Aside from the effect on the unborn child, there are some other considerations you have to make:

– What is the effect on the mother, post-abortion?

– What is the societal effect when sexual irresponsibility has no ramifications?

– What is the effect on young men and women who need not grow up and take on responsibilities?

Posted March 3, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized