Friday, April 21, 2017

A Special Day

Apologies for the extended hiatus from blogging but if there is any day worthy of a new post it would
be today. Today marks 16 years or marriage-- but perhaps more importantly, it marks just over 5 years since Kim entered remission -- so that makes this anniversary extra special. In celebration of this day I thought it would be appropriate to share a “God story” about one of my favorite pictures of us.

The picture below was taken in June of 2011 on Kaanapali Beach in Maui. It was our 10 year anniversary and we had returned to the exact same spot of our honeymoon.  As we walked that sandy beach, basking in a glorious sunset, our hearts were so full. Little did we know that Kim had a tumor growing in her chest.

Kaanapali Beach, Maui (June 7, 2011)
Seven months later we found ourselves in the ER, due to a persistent cough and stomach pains. Kim stayed overnight for a battery of tests with a gastroenterologist and the next morning when I saw her she had just awakened from being sedated.

She was weeping. Uncontrollably. 

We were both mystified as to why she was so emotional. We thought we were just dealing with an ulcer. In our minds, we'd get some meds and get back home to our three young kids. 

When she finally gathered herself, she said she had this vivid dream when she went under. She dreamed that we were walking on a beach, hand in hand, watching the sunset. She dreamed of the exact moment captured in this picture. The next day we discovered she was in stage 4 of a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma -- and that story is well-documented in this blog.

However, what I've never shared before is that a year later we went back to that same hospital for a checkup and this time a different doctor greeted us. Although we had never met before, it was obvious he knew who Kim was.  He began telling us about how when Kim first checked in a year earlier, the medical staff had no idea what they were dealing with. After she went under, they tried to look into her stomach with a scope and in his words, she immediately began to “wig out”. 

They almost lost her.

By the look on our faces, he immediately realized that he had shared too much. He got quiet and quickly left the room. He didn’t know that we didn't know -- she was only inches away from death that day. 

Suddenly, it all began to make sense...
Why all the gastro doctors knew who she was. 
Why she was weeping when she woke up that day. 
Why she had a vision of that beautiful sunset evening.

We had no idea when she lying down for some tests she was actually standing on the edge of eternity. I love that when we were so close to being separated -- her heart went towards us. 

But most of all, I love this pic because the sun is centered right between us and we are both gazing and walking towards it. 

I hope each new day on earth would be seen as a gift from heaven. 
I hope our remaining moments are spent walking hand-in-hand towards Jesus. 
I hope that He would always be the center of our souls and the light of our lives. 
I hope our union with each other would be defined by the love of Christ -- until our union with him is complete.

Here's to five years of remission. 
Here's to sixteen years of marriage. 
Here's to an eternity with the One who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Love you...always and forever. 


Friday, November 13, 2015

Echoes of Eden

Hello. Is it just me or does this somber song of self-reflection remind you of our universal groaning for redemption and the nostalgia of an incredibly powerful lost love? God has put "eternity in our hearts" and He is hell-bent on winning us back to Himself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

God is Good

What does it mean when a Christian says, "God is good'? Can't speak for everyone but for me it's not just a public declaration but a private reminder that....
...every good thing in my life, comes directly from Him, so be grateful.
...if He did not withhold His own Son from me, why would He withhold any other good gift, so be logical.
...He is always working for my good, regardless of my present circumstances, so be faithful.
...if I choose to reject God in this life, I am choosing to be separated from all that is good for an eternity, so be rational.
...when I am not good, He is still good, so love unconditionally.
Needed this reminder especially today -- in the wake of my beloved Cardinals loss. smile emoticon
God is good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ode to My Grandmother

I gave my first eulogy ever last Sunday before we buried the beloved spiritual matriarch of
our family, my grandmother Kyung Hee Cho. I wasn't planning on posting it but at the behest of a couple people I thought it might be encouraging to anyone who finds themselves discouraged when life does not go according to plan. Though our plans may fail, God's plan can never be frustrated. His is a good plan for those who know and love Him, because He is a good God. 

Good evening. Thank you for joining us to celebrate the life of my grandmother. Before I begin, I’d like to read two verses from 2 Timothy which I think capture her life and legacy so well:

2 Timothy 1:5  “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
 2 Timothy 4:5 “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

My grandmother’s first name was Kyung Hee. But if she ever took an English name, I think “Lois” would have fit her well.  We don’t know much about “Lois” in the Bible, as this is the only time she is ever mentioned; likewise not many people have probably heard of my grandmother: Cho, Kyung Hee. Though, she lived to the remarkable age of 92, most would likely deem her life rather unremarkable -- at least by the world’s standards. She never amassed much in the way of wealth, never gained much in the way of titles; never even collected a university degree. But it’s truly an honor to call her my grandmother and to stand before you and share her story, because it is impossible to tell her story without telling God’s story. They both loved each other so much.

If I had to describe my grandmother I think I’d only need three words: Frugal. Funny. Faithful. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Losing My Job...and Never Been Happier

After 16 years with the company, I'm losing my job --- and I've never been happier. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love my job and the people I get to work with every day. I know it's popular to bash large corporations today but how many companies would:
1. Pay for your continued education (MBA - books included) with no strings attached?
2. Grant you 8 months of leave and hold your job while you cared for your sick wife?
3. Help you galvanize a bone marrow registration effort company-wide to save lives? 
4. Allow you to work from home once a week so you can mantain a healthy work/life balance?

This one. I count it a privilege to have worked at one of the greatest companies and some of the smartest people in the world. But my job does not define me. My God does. As some of you may know, I have been in the process of writing a book on marriage and the gospel (some of which I have put on this blog), going on four years now and to date it's about 80% complete. I began in earnest when Kim was sick with cancer and have labored with starts and stops in between. This past New Year's Day my only resolution (and promise to God) was to complete this project but truth be told I still found it difficult to make progress given my busy work schedule, three kids, etc. 

So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that GE Capital was selling off virtually all of their businesses and Commercial Real Estate would be the first to go. I was shocked but not shaken. While the world might see this as an unfortunate turn of events I see it as a great blessing because it completely frees up my schedule to finish the book. I will be getting paid to essentially do nothing until early next year. God has removed the last of my excuses -- a lack of time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Seeing Jesus in a Donkey: Blessings and Curses

Now that I've got your attention please allow me to explain my blog post title....

I had the great privilege of giving the Sunday sermon at my home church yesterday from Numbers 22-24 which covered Balaam and his donkey (i.e. "ass"). Since I didn't have much time to prepare I recycled an old sermon that I have given a few times before at various churches. It's actually part sermon/part personal testimony of how God has taken some of the greatest "curses" in my life, like my wife's cancer, and transformed it into a myriad of incredible blessings and how this dynamic is true for all believers. So, if you are in a difficult place and find yourself questioning the goodness of God in the hardness of life - please take a listen and be reminded again of what the message of the gospel really is and what it means for you today and for your future. God is in control - even when we are not. God is good - even when we are not. God is always working for the good - even if we (or others) are not.

You can listen by using the embedded MP3 player below, or you can find the archived sermon HERE or MP3 link HERE, if you'd rather download the file into your iPod/iPhone and listen later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Jewish Moral Law and the Gospel of Christ

There are many moral laws in the first five books of the Bible (i.e. the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses, the Torah) which many people, even Christians, find confusing and others often mock as proof that the Bible is an antiquated book with little relevance to me today. This is probably best exemplified in an open letter written to Dr. Laura Schelssinger a few years ago posted below. Schelssinger is a radio personality who gives advice to those who call her radio show and this satirical letter was posted on the internet in response to her quoting Leviticus 18:22 and condemning homosexuality as an abomination. 

Dear Dr. Laura: 

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.  When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.  End of debate.  I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1.  When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord—Leviticus 1:9.  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

2.  I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3.  I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness—Leviticus 15:19-24.  The problem is, how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offence. 

4.  Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can't I own Canadians?

5.  I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6.  A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination—Leviticus 11:10—it  is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don't agree.  Can you settle this?

7.  Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8.  Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27.  How should they die?

While I give the writer of this letter points for creativity, wit and humor, it is misguided for several reasons. One, it completely ignores the context in which these laws were written. The Bible is not a code of moral ethics by which people curry favor from an insatiable and insecure deity. It's ultimately a story, written by and about a God who loves us and who is pursuing a relationship with us which has been broken and initiating that restoration through His Son.