Monday, August 27, 2012

Seeing Jesus in the Furnace

As shown in the video of last week's post Jesus is all over the Old Testament. And it's not just in the fulfillment of prophecies. While I understand that there may not be universal agreement on this, I'm convinced that there are numerous occasions throughout the Old Testament in which Jesus appeared in a pre-incarnate form (i.e. Christophany) - often under the title "angel of the Lord". Now this doesn't mean every time this figure appears it is Jesus but there are certain clues it is the pre-incarnate Christ in that this angel does not reveal his name (Ge 32:39), receives worship without prohibition (Nu 22:31), speaks in the first person as if he is God (Ge 22:12), and those who see him actually believed they were seeing God (Jg 13:22)

Perhaps what is most encouraging about these unique appearances is that these encounters nearly always occurred the during the darkest and loneliest moments of a broken person's life. What is also notable is that these sacred moments were often a pivotal inflection point which propelled forward God's redemptive plan. From this we can also conclude that our pain and suffering is never wasted. It is in life's darkest and loneliest moments when we often see Jesus face to face and it is often through that intense trial God carries out His greater purpose in and through our lives. I'll go over several examples of this over the next few weeks but I want to focus on one of the more obvious ones today.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image they were cast into the fiery furnace (Dan 3). They weren't even certain if God would save them, but they were certain they were not going to compromise their faith. God then does something amazing. He does not save them from the furnace - He saves them through it - they were not singed nor did their hair smell of smoke. But what is most remarkable is that a fourth person appeared in the midst of the flames. Who was this person and why was he there?
He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."
Do you ever wonder what was going through the minds of those three young men as they were being bound and thrown into the furnace? No one knows for certain but in my "sanctified imagination" I think the words of the prophet Isaiah, written about 200 years earlier, came to their young Hebrew minds:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. -Isaiah 43:1-2
I believe Isaiah's powerful promise was literally fulfilled for them in that fiery furnace. Jesus was with them. They did walk through the fire. They were not burned.

We all have or will endure fiery furnaces of our own. The heat may be incredibly intense but we are told not to fear, not because God will make the flames absent but because God will make His Son present. As Psalms 23 says, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil..."  Why? "...for" (Ps 23:4). Thank you for being there Jesus...even when I don't see you. 
The angel of the Lord is ever watching over those who have fear of Him, to keep them safe. -Psalm 34:7

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seeing Jesus in the NBA

Ran across this recently. Further proof that we are all "groaning for redemption" (Rom 8:23) - whether it's in a basketball star or a superhero or some type of fusion like this video. Brokenness. Sacrifice. Redemption. There is a universal longing for the gospel that is often expressed without knowledge and misdirected upon the wrong hero.

What some seek to find in Derrick Rose or Batman can only be found in Jesus.
He isn't a "dark knight".
He isn't a Chicago Bull.
But he will be riding a white horse. (Rev 19:11)
He will be victorious.
And it will be glorious.
Redemption is coming and I can't wait....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

Perhaps the most compelling argument that anyone can make about the the Bible being God's Word is that despite being written by 40 different authors over thousands of years there is only one central luminous perfect savior. Only God could have fashioned that kind of unity in the midst of all that diversity. When Jesus encounters two disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection he gives one of the most amazing Bible lessons of all time...

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures [Old Testament] concerning himself. -Luke 24:25-27

What a conversation that must have been. When I heard Tim Keller give the snippet below it reminded me of what it might have been like:
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prayers for Glo

I recently became aware of a young mother named Glo who is about to pass away due to a debilitating lung disease. Her story will break your heart. I don't know her or her husband personally but we share many mutual friends. She has one young daughter and was 25 weeks pregnant with her second when she was diagnosed. (the 2nd child was delivered prematurely but appears to be doing well). She is too weak for a lung transplant and the family is saying their good-byes. Please lift up a prayer for them. If you wish to be blessed by their story you can find it HERE (email registration required).

Reading through some of the journal entries last night really hit close to home. It was a powerful reminder of some of the darkest nights we walked through and the reality that Kim's cancer is only in remission (not cured) and the need to walk in daily dependence with God.

While it is heart-breaking to witness a family going through something this horrible, it is also uplifting to see how their faith has risen above it all. A child of God may feel helpless, but never hopeless. And that hope is found in Philippians 1:21:
"For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Like the apostle Paul we have hope because LIFE=CHRIST and DEATH=MORE OF CHRIST. It's the ultimate "win-win". For the believer, grief and mourning are perfectly normal and appropriate, but it is under-girded with a living hope that the one in whom we believed in our hearts, will now be seen with our eyes and nothing on earth can compare with that joyful moment which will last for an eternity.

In His Grace,
Peter & Kim

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blessings and Curses

BONE MARROW UPDATE: New Community Covenant Church in Logan Square will be hosting a bone marrow drive this Sunday from noon to 2pm. If you're in the area please stop by and register. Thanks. 
One of the most profound things I've learned through our cancer journey is that God is sovereign and God is good and you cannot put God and His ways in a box. So much of our lives are wasted trying to evaluate whether something is "good" or "bad" or a "blessing" or a "curse" when all the Lord desires is that we trust that He is in control, trust that He is good and trust that He is always working for the good (Rom 8:28). Always.

I must admit that I got caught up in trying to define what is "good" and "bad". We were so quick to define Kim's remission as a great blessing, and yet in my flesh it was hard for me to see how Andrew's death and Connor's failed bone marrow transplant was a blessing. As I wrote recently, I was reminded through my friends Tim and Agnes and their blessed hardships that we aren't privy to God's master plan. We see life in snapshots - God sees the whole picture. We try to evaluate the puzzle based on a few pieces - God created the grand design. He alone knows the end from the beginning.

I ran across this short story that illustrates the futility of trying to define blessings and curses in our lives. It hit home for me and I hope it speaks to you.

Max Lucado (In the Eye of the Storm)
The Old Man and the White Horse

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village.  Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse.  Even the king coveted his treasure.  A horse like this had never been seen before – such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seeing Jesus in Birthdays

Well, I turned a year older today. Yippee! It's funny how when you're a child the things you despised most (e.g. eating and sleeping) become the things you most enjoy as an adult. Conversely, what you could not wait for as a kid (e.g. BIRTHDAYS!) you'd rather do without as a grown-up. As you can see below even if you are an Asian woman who is genetically predisposed to withstand the effects of aging - the inevitable still awaits you.

The truth is we run from any and every reminder that we are getting older. And yet I've come to realize that this aging process is a actually a great gift from God. It reminds us that with each passing year we are all moving inexorably towards not just death - but towards the eternal. And these sober reminders often force us to ask ourselves the all-important question that we'd rather avoid. Brennan Manning says it so well in The Ragamuffin Gospel:
"It is only the reality of death that is powerful enough to quicken people out of the sluggishness of everyday life and into an active search for what life is really about."
If our wrinkles, body aches, and gray hair, did not serve as constant visible reminders that there will be an end to this life and world I wonder if we'd EVER even stop and ponder what might possibly exist after this life and beyond this world. Would we dare to ever peer beyond this life into the eternal in search for the one who is eternal? I doubt it.
famous pic of "sisters aging"
On my head alone I have hair thinning in all the places I don't want it to thin and thickening in all the places I don't want it to thicken. But I'm learning to be thankful for it. Because God is reminding me that this body is not eternal and this world is not my home. God is eternal and heaven is my home. And I want to live my life on earth in a way that is consistent with that truth.

So thank you unwanted birthdays. Thank you unwanted cancer. Thank you unwanted funerals. While none are desired in and of themselves they are gifts because they set us off on a quest for the eternal - they provoke us to begin an active search for what life is really about and in the end that is what really matters. If you find yourself on that journey I hope you find the answer. I pray you do.
I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6
 In His Grace,

Peter & Kim

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seeing Jesus in Our Trials

A few weeks ago Kim and I attended the wedding of an old friend and while there we came across another couple named Tim and Agnes that we had not seen or talked to in years as they had moved from Chicago to DC five years ago. Apparently, they had found out about Kim's cancer via Facebook and were following along and praying for us from the beginning. It was obvious that they shed many tears on our behalf as they flowed freely when we saw them.  So humbling.

What came next simply blew us away.  They knew all about our story but then they began to share with us their story. Around the same time they moved to DC and lost touch with us five years earlier their firstborn son was diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome - a rare genetic form of autism. It's so severe that even to this day he has great difficulty with basic communication. This completely blindsided them. Tim was building a career in investment banking and Agnes' dermatology practice was taking off and this young family's future was so bright and suddenly they were looking at a parent's worst nightmare. Agnes shared with Kim how she slipped into depression and couldn't even get herself to go to work for nearly a year. Just as they began to grapple with their son's condition and things began to resemble some form of normalcy Tim was struck by a car. He was out for a jog and someone ran through a stoplight and ran over his leg basically shattering it. On top of that, he had a blood clot after surgery near his heart and for a while Agnes thought that she had lost him for good. After about 18 months of rehab Tim was finally starting to run again. But what was most amazing was seeing how much they had grown in their love for God and others not despite their trials but because of their trials.

Their son still has autism and Tim still has a steel rod in his leg. But I can tell you this - they looked so happy. It was so obvious that despite their hardships God has done an amazing work in their lives. While initially they were much more private about their personal struggles they no longer hesitate to share with anyone who will listen what God has done and is doing - they want Him to receive all the glory and that's why they've given me permission to share it on this blog.  Please pray for this family and their son

The song below is one that ministered to this family as they asked the question:"Why us God?" What a powerful witness it is to choose to worship God not when things go your way but when things don't. The world cannot understand this kind of joy and peace and yet it's what everyone longs for.

Sometimes you struggle with understanding why God does things. Why He sometimes chooses not to heal a courageous teenager as in the case of Andrew. Why He sometimes allows a young boy like Connor to continue on his quest for a bone marrow match. I've asked Him at times why in our journey Kim has experienced healing and these young boys have not - though it looked that way for a while. But when I ran across our friends Tim and Agnes I was reminded once again. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us and He is always working for the good of those who love Him. Always. I'm sure Agnes had difficulty seeing this when her son was diagnosed with autism. I'm sure Tim had difficulty seeing this when he was hit by a car. But they see it more clearly now - or perhaps I should say that they see Jesus more clearly now - and that has made all the difference in the world.

In His Grace,
Peter & Kim

Monday, August 6, 2012


My New Favorite Family Pic
My apologies as I know it's been a while since my last post. We just drove back from Toronto last night and spent a good part of this summer traveling, seeing friends and family and just making up for lost time after Kim spent 43 nights in the hospital earlier this year. I'm so grateful that I work for a company that was kind enough to give me leave through the summer to make these memories possible. Some highlights of this summer include enjoying fireworks at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon, seeing dolphins on a California beach, and getting sprayed by the mist of Niagara Falls. But honestly, the best part of it all was just spending time with so many people that we love and who have loved us in amazing ways especially through our cancer journey this year. As we've visited various churches and cities it's been so humbling to meet and personally thank the people who have cried with us and prayed for us (many of whom did not even know us). Thank you Jesus.

Please continue to lift up Andrew's family, with his recent passing, and Connor's family as they continue their search for a bone marrow donor match. Over 400 people registered at the GKYM Conference in Wheaton a couple weeks ago and of the 10 million people on the bone marrow registry only 70,000 are Korean - so 400 is a significant number. If you haven't registered and would like to please go to and request a cheek swab kit to see if you might have the privilege of saving someone's life.

p.s. I've posted a few pics below for those of you who have lifted up our travels this summer. Wish we could have seen ALL of you. Thanks.

Niagara Falls
Superhero-themed Birthday Party in Canada
True Identities Revealed