Tag Archives: God

It Didn’t Take Torture…Just Truth

Kim Hyon-hui is back in the news. You probably don’t know that name. It was forgotten long ago by most. But Kim gained notoriety 30 years ago, when South Korea hosted the Olympics in Seoul. She was a North Korean spy, and she placed a bomb on a 707 headed for Seoul, killing 115 people.

With the 23rd Winter Olympics set to begin this weekend in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, Kim’s story has resurfaced. And, it is an amazing story. She was recruited at 18 years old; she learned to perfect Mandarin and Japanese; she was given weapons and martial arts training; and she was taught to blend into other cultures.

Nevertheless, Kim’s 1st mission, the 707 bombing, would be her last. She was captured while fleeing, and unsuccessfully tried to take a cyanide pill. She was imprisoned, but eventually pardoned. At 56 years old now, she lives a fairly quiet life, working for the South Korean government in witness protection. She has raised 2 kids, and she is still hunted by the North Koreans.

Of course, when she was captured, Kim expected to be tortured in interrogation. But her captors chose a different path. A simple ride around town eventually changed Kim’s ideology. She had been lied to her whole life. She was told that South Koreans lived in squalor; they were terribly unhappy; and they would love to live in North Korea.

Driving through South Korea exposed those lies. People had smiles, enjoyed life, and were free to go where they wanted. When confronted with the truth, Kim, to her credit, changed her false belief system.

Consider this, friend: if someone had been taught that Christians were hateful, vengeful, sexist, racists, bigots, etc…would a “ride” through most churches help change minds? You see, reality immediately exposed the lies Kim had learned. Christian life should prove the love of Christ to any who are “riding through” our midst (Acts 2:44-47).

Kim still experiences a deep pain and shame for what she did. She wrote about her experiences and donated book proceeds to the families of her victims. She hugs and weeps with the families. She has been pardoned, but she still desires forgiveness.

Unfortunately, even though she has been to church, true forgiveness still eludes her. In an interview recently, she wondered, “Can my sins be pardoned?” Sadly though, she answered, “They probably won’t be.”

Kim hasn’t experienced the great joy of salvation. Paul told Timothy that he received mercy to prove that all people can be saved no matter their past (1 Timothy 1:15-17). John assures that our forgiveness can be known (1 John 5:13). If our faith remains, we expect the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

It didn’t take torture to change Kim’s mind about her past sins; just being exposed to the truth did the trick. I hope that one day she learns the great joy of salvation – the confidence that comes through believing, repenting, confessing Jesus, and being baptized into the forgiveness of sins. I’ll probably never get to share that with her, but I’d love to tell you the same, and guess what? I just did.

Of Babies And Sled Dogs…Both Are Innocent!

But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Luke 18:16).

Tramadol is prescribed to treat moderate pain. Prescribed to people that is. But when dogs in the Iditarod tested positive for the pain killer, well…it caused quite a stir!

The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile race through Alaska that ends in Nome in March. Sixteen dogs, and a “musher” who drives the sled, compete in this challenging race. And, during the race, the dogs are drug tested at 3 different locations.

Some say it was the “musher,” Dallas Seavey. But friends and competitors defended Dallas, saying he would never jeopardize his dogs or the sport. Also, the place in the race where the dogs were drugged made no sense strategically. Some say anti-sledding animal rights groups are to blame. Even fans are under suspicion, as there are opportunities along the race to pet and give treats to the dogs.

The truth is, we will probably never know. But one thing is clear; no one is accusing the dogs! Why? Dogs don’t dope themselves.

So, consider this: if we immediately assume the dogs are innocent, why do many Christians fall victim to a theological lie about sinful babies?

Considering children, Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to “such as these” (Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). Furthermore, we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom. Does it make sense to say, “become guilty, sinful, and totally depraved… like these little sinners” in order to enter heaven?

Sin falls into two categories: 1) Knowing what to do and not doing it (James 4:17), and 2) Doing what we shouldn’t (lawlessness) (1 John 3:4). Babies, therefore, cannot sin. Moreover, they can’t die in sin as happens with all who do not believe (John 8:24).

And, if guilty of sin, how could a baby be reconciled to God?
We must believe (Mark 16:16); what does an infant believe?
We must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); can an infant change their minds/lives?
We must confess Jesus with our mouths (Romans 10:9-10); what can an infant say?
We must be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); what sins does the infant need washed away (Acts 22:16)?

But babies grow up. And when they do, they will make choices. And in those choices, knowing right from wrong, they will fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When their sin separates them from a holy God, they will have to make another choice: be saved by the grace of a loving God, or refuse the mercy of a just God. Unlike dogs, people can, eventually, choose. We don’t blame dogs in a doping scandal and we don’t look to infants to reconcile sinfulness. Mush!

Faith Like A Fake Truffle?

Thievery, knockoffs, and sabatoge…welcome to the treacherous world of truffles. It is, truly, a shady business.

Of course, truffles grow 3 feet under ground in forested areas, so it has always been “shady.” But something truly shady is going on – fake truffles! And they are causing a stir.

Truffles are big business. Italian truffles fetch around $3,000 per pound. Some White Truffles recently went for $120,000 at auction!

But the truffle industry is facing its biggest challenge ever – Chinese knockoffs. You see, Chinese truffles don’t really have a smell or taste so they aren’t worth much. But Chinese farmers have learned a trick to cash in on the truffle craze – mix their truffles in with expensive Italian ones!

First, they artificially color the truffles. Then, they place them in with the more pungent Italian truffles. That way, they take on the look, smell, and flavor of the expensive truffles.

On close examination, fakes are discovered. But often it is too late. Buyers pay big money only to be duped by the counterfeits.

I can’t help but think of a parable Jesus told about wheat and tares growing next to each other (Matthew 13:24-20). The workers wanted to pull up the tares, but they would have torn up wheat as well. Rather, the master said to wait until both were fully grown; then they could easily separate them.

Just by hanging out at church,  “Christians” might seem authentic. Read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 for a good example. They may sound Christian, act Christian, and look Christian.

But a more thorough examination is coming. And counterfeit Christians can’t hide among true disciples on that day. You can’t “fake it till you make it” with God.

No Christian is more valuable than another. There are no lesser Christians who will squeak into heaven. There are no fake Christians who will sneak into heaven either.

Only those who are truly known by Christ will enter into the Kingdom. Each of us should examine ourselves and ask, “Is my faith authentic? Or am I just hiding among Christians, hoping to blend in?”

“It’s For the Children” May Be Harming The Children!

India recently celebrated Diwali, a holiday which marks “the homecoming of the Hindu god, Lord Ram, from exile.” In the past, it was celebrated by illuminating clay lamps. These days, it is a massive fireworks show, approximately 50,000 tons. Now that’s a show!

But there’s a problem. Delhi’s air quality is poor. A study found that “half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have diminished lung capacity.” And fireworks exacerbate the problem. In fact, last year’s show caused so much smoke that a “toxic haze blanketed the city” for a week. Many citizens suffered health issues.

So India’s Supreme Court stepped in. They banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi. Of course, the ban went over with a hiss, crack, and boom among local merchants. Nevertheless, people find a way, and enough fireworks went off that it took over 3 days to return to pre-Diwali air conditions!

When asked about the decision to ban the sale of fireworks, one merchant said, “what do we tell the kids on Diwali: ‘Go pray, eat your food and go to bed? How will they enjoy that?” Another said, “If there are no crackers, then Diwali doesn’t mean anything – only lights and sweets. It’s too boring!”

Doesn’t mean anything? Even though fireworks are a modern addition, many said they might as well not celebrate Diwali without them. It would be too boring.

Hmmm…sound familiar?

I love a good fireworks show. But we can learn a lesson from the Hindu dilemma. More harm than good is often done when invoking the plea, “it is for the children!” The fireworks in Delhi add to pollution that is literally killing the children.

Has the church fallen victim to the same irony? In a rush to entertain, do we create apathy toward true, yet simple, worship? If we remove modern entertainment, is it “too boring” to worship God? Is, “for the children,” harming the children in the church?

I do enjoy a good fireworks show. But there’s a time for entertainment, and there’s a time for the pure milk of the word. May we use wisdom to discern the two.