Welcome to GregandYounghee.com!
- Created on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 09:54
- Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:21
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This site serves as our collage of thoughts and events, and a way to keep in touch with us. Some of the content on this site is accessed only through a registered username and password. If you would like to know a little more about us, please register using the "Create an account" link on the left.
What's Your Pleasure?
- Created on Saturday, 28 January 2012 05:32
- Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:23
- Hits: 124
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. --Matt 10:21-22 [ESV]
...a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;[a] it is a grievous evil. --Eccl 6:2 [ESV]
...my cup overflows. --Psa 23:5 [ESV]
So much of what we think and do each day is consumed by the raptures of pleasure. From the blatant sexual overtones of popular culture to the simple cup of coffee drunk in blissful silence, men and women strive after pleasure as an end in itself. Blinded by unthinking habit or even addiction, they often surround themselves with lugubrious cliches such as "make love, not war," but the preponderence of evidence shows that they would rather have war than lose their cheesburger, playboy, or luxury SUV. To most, having pleasure at beckon call defines what power and wealth is. They either laugh or take egregious offense at those who would tell them that this is their damnation, and would, like Gollum, kill anyone who would come between them and their possessions.
Having, in the past few years, put myself deliberately into a low position on the roads of Olympia, WA and Seoul, Korea, I have come to a greater understanding of what people are willing to trade just for the sake of convenience. Many drivers who are in a hurry to get nowhere will make right turns before they clear pedestrians and bicyclists, and the overwhelming majority have a bad habit of gunning the engine (in varying degrees) before passing or before crosswalks are clear. Some even shout epithets out their windows.
But this is not restricted merely to the roads of the United States, Korea, and the rest of the world. It rears its demonic visage even in the most sacred holiday seasons. While the term "Black Friday" was originally coined to describe grid-lock traffic patterns in Philadelphia on the day after Thanksgiving, the term recent historic usage describes the profit margins of retailers (i.e. going into the black numbers). Of late, however, it has been defined by the absurd violence of shoppers who will stop at nothing (trampling, pepper spray, knives, handguns, and even tear gas grenades) to 'get there first.' Yet, rather than being a day commemorated by shame and introspective evaluation, it is a day glorifed by retailers who care less for life and livelihood than they do about profit margins, and readily embraced by the insatiable greed of their consumers. This gollum-like attitude seems to be more prevalent than ever, making clear the words of the prophecy: "The love of most will grow cold."
Very few, of course, would openly advocate using lethal means to obtain what they want, but the Enemy has more insidious ways of coaxing the mind and heart to violence. Popular culture and psychology is saturated with the concept of 'deserving.' This is particularly clear in the concept of rights. The foundation of a just society is based on providing protection of individual rights and liberties, but when individual rights (that apply to all) become 'personal rights' (that belong to ME), there is a subtle change in perspective. The seeds of rationalized violence are thus sown. I'm not referring directly to violence in terms of assault and battery, but violence as the Scriptures define it: the insidious contempt shown for the Creator or any part of His creation through any number of thoughts and actions. The Scriptures are very clear on what defines violence; a thorough search through the Scriptures would shock the average reader. Unfortunately, the average reader doesn't read: he is comfortable with providing excuses for not reading what God has to say. The definition includes not just murder, but adultery, fornication, unequal weights and measures, not paying employees fair wages, failing to honor your father and mother, exasperating loved ones, calling someone a 'fool,' enticing others to do anything wrong...
In finality, man will not be the measure of things, but will be measured by the Word Himself. Leadership and power will not be defined by well-dressed political leaders and CEOs who grasp the purse strings and aggrandize themselves at the expense of many, nor by the gun-barrel of the lowest thug, nor by the ear-tickling philosophies of achievement-oriented philosophies that clothe unapologetic, self-gratifying covetousness in 'word of faith' or 'be all you can be' cliches. The measure will be the One Who gave everything to redeem mankind from our cancerous 'power,' and by His own, who are willing to give everything to simply deliver a cup of cold water to those in need--by the saints "of whom this world is not worthy," But until That Day, the world will have the opportunity, like those who stoned Stephen, to cover its ears and intimidate, bully, and murder to avoid recognizing its guilt and the only opportunity for salvation.
Thankfully, the message does not have to end in tasteless Stoicism, self-abrogating Asceticism, or bloody Moralism. The Word does not say that the pleasures God has given are meaningless; it also does not advocate any form of self destructive or sadistic bludgeon-wielding behavior as the way to Peace and Salvation. This is not to say that the Way is easy nor that it does not require some form of sacrifice--the Way is indeed one of blood, persecution, suffering, and submission. But all of this is centered on the power of a living God whose 'love endures forever.' The center of the Word is a God who persistently seeks to bless and not curse, to shower abundance on mankind.
Who, having read the Scriptures, can forget a God who stands in the road and cries in anguish, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"
His Way has always been one of invitation, of embrace and protection, and blessing and abundance beyond our wildest dreams, but that Way is neither grasped nor achieved by the exertion of willpower--it is achieved only through humble submission and obedience. About 3,500 years ago, Moses stood in a valley called Shechem and cried out the very yearnings of God's heart to the Israelites: God would always give them the opportunity to choose between the curse of Mount Ebal's sin and the blessing of Mount Gerazim's obedience. Those words still echo not only between Gerazim and Ebal, but in every valley and mountain peak in the world. They are words of invitation and enticement to obedience, Wisdom, and Love, and are punctuated with a bloody cross that stands on another mount called Golgotha. These three hills stand as a testament to God's loving character and open invitation to all.
As the Scripture states plainly, "the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD." God's way is the way of abundance. Mankind may discover many pleasures, but God has created each one as a blessing to those who obey. There is therefore no reason, other than the unreasonable self-gratifying violence of the unsanctified heart, to shun God in order to obtain whatever it is we think we 'need.' God, Who does not change, has assured us that He will provide, and that abundantly. But to seek any pleasures before seeking His Kingdom (i.e. before obedience) is to seek, through hellish pride, the curse of Mount Ebal.
Arrogance in the Heart of Man
- Created on Saturday, 25 June 2011 07:22
- Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:23
- Hits: 127
18They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?" 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?" --Isaiah 44:18-20
We live in the time of the self-made man, when cliches such as “knowledge is power,” “you have to earn my respect,” “I'm just not happy,” have become a battle cry of the heart to seek a better way and a better life. Talk show hosts bleat cliches about "doing what's right for you" and finding one's "true happiness;" pop-psychologists spout self-fulfilling slogans and mottos in magazines pasted with voluptuously seductive, confident women and muscle bound spartans poised as immovable titans, both in a vacuous white context nowhere near the likes of the world that dwarfs mankind with swelling oceans, thunderous cataracts, or rugged mountains abounding with life-crushing precipices. Men and women write books on leadership, self-claimed oracles that prescribe the means to move hundreds or billions of people toward a self-crafted vision.
Man's thirst for significance and search for meaning are alive and well, as is his lust for power. But the two are not the same at all.
Hidden under the touted cliches of a self-made, self-fulfilling world is a truth that all take for granted, and none can deny: “Also He has put eternity in their hearts.”
But the cloak that obscures even the eyes of the Church has hidden this great truth in philosophies that scale from the simple postulate of the goodness of a “self-made man,” to the complex economical and political jargon that fills the mind with ideas but leaves the heart empty.
At the core of this is a strange correlation between thinking and being—a correlation that finds its origins in the imago dei (image of God) whereby we are irrevocably renderings of the One who spoke, and it was so; at the core is a truth that the world and the Church have not considered well in spite of the warnings of Christ himself when he told us:
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person. --Mark 7:21-23
At the root of His warning is a long-forgotten truth that we are indelibly imprinted with the imago dei, something seldom acknowledged in its purity: everything we do begins in our hearts, in our spirits; even the world as we see it is the result of an inclination of the heart. What we have called subjectivism is really not subjective at all, but rather a strange, misunderstood capability of men and women to shape the world around them beginning with a movement of heart and spirit. We have a very profound impact on the world around us, beginning with our own attitude of heart.
Inextricably bound to this truth, however, is a simple limitation: as images of God, we are authoritatively bound to the One whose image we bear, and through the work of Christ, that glue of that binding is Christ Himself:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? --John 10:34-36
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. --Romans 5:18-19
Our very essence and life is bound up with the One who stamped us with His image and breathed life into us. Far from being a crutch to the suffering, God is the very air we breath and the life-blood that courses through our veins, for "in Him we live and move and have our being."
But we have made our idols by the fatness of the land. One third of the world (the civilized world) now glories in self-satisfied fatness where treacherous acts of adultery and sodomy are an everyday affair; men and women pursuing pleasure at the expense of their souls and the souls of their children. Instead of waiting on God, they have thrust themselves forward into a man-centered vision of the 'good life,' exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”
In the other two thirds of the world, mankind commits themselves to striving through unapologetic murder and rape to a position of dominance. Warlords kill simply to display power.
In the first case, mankind forgets both the Giver and the purpose of pleasure, forgetting also that the Giver's definition of violence extends to to the adultereras clearly as it extends to the murderer; in the second case the murderer forgets that he commits his acts of violence directly against the Holy One of Israel. In both cases we have forgotten the stern warning that every act of treachery is a personal effrontery to the Living God, and is produces a drop in the cup of God's wrath, a cup patiently witheld for now, but irrevocably destined to be poured out in fury upon mankind.
Mankind still chooses between Gerazim and Ebal, and the outcome is still blessing or anathema. We chose His way, and our hearts, though sinful yet, are bound to His authority and provision; we chose our own way, and we descend into the snarling, groveling world of hell-bent self-destruction. The first the glory and stregnth of the one who wholeheartedly walks with God in despite even valleys of bitterness and death; the second the life of toil and chasing after the wind, resulting in everything from the bloody shock and awe world of Alexander to the solipsistic, melancholy pathos of an Emily Dickenson.
The hinge point on which we swing is not creativity, nor ability, nor education, nor power, nor authority—but all of what we are and are to become pivots on this one point: we will submit our heart to the One who formed us and gives us life, or we will thrust aside His offer and create our own gehenna.
In more concrete terms we will obey Him in the typical temptations of life and in the vocation He has appointed, or we will wander into self-destruction. The ten commandments are not simply a charge, but are a battle plan. God tells us, up-front, what the enemy will try to use to distract and overcome us. Pair this with God's warning to Cain in Genesis, and the context of our lives becomes clear: sin crouches at our door, ready to spring; if we do not take an active role to submit to God, gain strength for the fight, and grapple with this epic enemy, our lives are forfeit. That man or girl who evinces a thrill through the slight brush of hands or deeply meaningful exchange of looks; the sporty red BMW that you cannot dismiss so easily from your mind; the 'idiot' driver who offends you to the point of murderous thought; even the casual comparison of a neighbor's yard to one's own—these are all the simple challenges to attitude: will I follow my way or His?
We need the empowerment of Jesus' salvation from without and within. For while the enemy without assualts us with temptations, the traitor within calls us to second guess our decisions and question the autenticity of our joy. Both crouch in wait to steal our joy, but Christ said that we “shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set [us] free.” Our cry for freedom is not just on account of an enemy who relentlessly accuses us, but because of a broken conscience within that robs us of the joy God intends for us right here and right now.
A word of caution here regarding sins of the past. For those reading this that mourn their past sins (as so many of us do), let me offer you some counsel and encouragment. God's pathway to blessing is always forward. Examine Ezekiel 33:10-20 very closely. Decisions of the past may have lead me by a certain way to the place I am right now, but God's plan for me is in the here-and-now, and nowhere on a secondary path I could have taken at some fixated juncture in my life. The way is forward, and never back, and the way forward to life is always God's way and not my own. Anything else is not from Him. If we obey Him, we obey Him NOW to make our lives better NOW, not casting a wistful (covetous) eye backward on what could have made our lives 'happier.' God's blessing are now and forever for those who submit to his easy yoke and light burden. This has always been His way, and is one of the foundational reasons why there are no tears in Heaven.
In one word, 'submission,' we can find life and joy. Why would we choose any other way?
- Created on Monday, 20 December 2010 13:07
- Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:23
- Written by Greg
- Hits: 177
We are told that Sherman began the first version of 'total warfare' in the 'civilized' west. His march to the sea claimed city after city, engulfing each in flames as he decimated the resources of the southern confederacy. But Sherman hardly compares to the campaign of God himself in this world. Jesus tells us that "the Kingdom of Heaven has been advancing forcefully, and forceful men lay hold of it." A nice guy would never dare to say such thing; but, then, a nice guy wouldn't be interested in full commitment to anything, and definitely would not wage total warfare. Take a second or perhaps a third look at our Saviour; take as many looks as it takes to get it right: Jesus isn't interested in pulled punches, half-commitments, or doubtful assertion. Jesus is interested in full, valiant commitment to the cause of advancing the Kingdom, and He never rested while men and women were held captive to self-love, impotence, fear, or any of the other allurements to sin. It is fitting that his name matches that of Joshua (Jeshua), for he waged war against whatever stood in the way of His Kingdom, taking many captives (Eph 4:7-8; Ps 68:18).
What does it mean to wage total warfare? Look again at our LORD: while Christ was on Earth, He did not shrink from controversy or confrontation; He did not submit to temptation; He never failed to stand up for those in need. Though we know Him as the sacrificial Lamb, yet He was the Lion of Judah. His strategy was marvelous--He even gained victory by turning the other cheek, not out of fear, but out of strategy to bring salvation for some, and sure condemnation for others. Did I say "condemnation"? I certainly did. Look closer at the teachings of Jesus. Turning the cheek is a strategic way to place the wicked on slippery ground (Ps 73) while opening the invitation to those who are part of the harvest. Similarly, Paul instructs us to feed a hungry enemy and give water to a thirsty enemy, for "in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do you torture people with fire because you like them? Certainly not. Doing good in this world ensures that God gets His vengeance. Of course we should never gloat, but we will rejoice over the utter, burning destruction of those who rebel against Him (see Rev 19:1-4). Does rejoicing in the blood of a multitude of slain sound like a nice dinner party? I'm not interested in nice dinner parties. I am interested in His Kingdom, whatever it takes.
Money is an important means of waging war. Every war needs financing, and God calls us to use our wealth shrewdly in Luke 16:8-9. Does this mean that we merely use it to make friends? This is certainly a good way to use wealth, but Jesus has a different matter in mind: He is making implications about investment in the Kingdom. Our money is a weapon against oppressors, against poverty, against greed, and against all manner of evil in this world. That is why He takes the tithe so seriously, and takes offense when we steal it from Him by refusing to give. He even promises to bless us (provide for us in a way we never imagined as we give. It is time for the Church to heed God's warning and believe His promise: We must use our money to advance the Kingdom, giving a cold cup of water to those in need and ending the power of the ruthless.
God also asks us to use our talents. In a world where talent takes second place to simply getting through a day at work in the 'civilized world,' or perhaps just trying to live out the day in a land cursed by wicked oppression and squandering of resources, what meaning does talent have? God has said in His Word that He has made each of us uniquely. Look closely at the men and women of the Pentateuch: most of them had very little other than their courage and the abilities God had bestowed on them, and they accomplished great deeds that still leave us in wonder. With only a staff and a cloak and God's promise to be with him, Moses won freedom for millions of Israelite slaves. With an ability to govern both men and agriculture, Joseph saved not just one, but many nations. With a sling and a sword, David slew a giant and freed an entire nation from enslavement to the Philistine hoardes. What do you have in your hand? What are you able to contribute? God made you to fight a specific battle, and He will give you strength to overcome your enemy.
The war doesn't stop with only finances and talents--God asks us to fight with everything we have. That could be everything from giving a cup of cold water to those in need, to slaying real giants with earthly weapons. This is a desperate fight, and Jesus promises it will cost us everything we have (Luke 14:25-35). That means earthly possessions, friends, family, reputations, and even our very lives. But as it is written, "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose."
History is full of great warriors. I'm not talking about men such as Alexander, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, Napolean, or even Patton. These men served the world and themselves in a quest for what they would ultimately lose. The warriors I am talking about are referred to in Hebrews 11 and the book of Revelation--those who gave up everything to gain what is more precious than power, fame, and money. Some fought with swords, some with the Sword of the Word, but all committed themselves to a campaign of total warfare at all costs. May we be as they once were; and we can be by God's strength!
North Korea (and all other nations) beware!
- Created on Monday, 29 November 2010 14:35
- Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2014 06:23
- Written by Greg
- Hits: 189
For those who are wondering what it is like being in Korea after the DPRK bombardment of Yongpyeong-Do, all I can say is it is a strange mix of tension and denial. One never knows what the North Korean leadership will do next, but one thing is sure: the nations are still but dust before the living God (Is 40).
For now, the saying that is written is certainly true:
"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan."
There is a lot of groaning across the world. It is particularly loud in North Korea, but resonates throughout thea rest of the world in varying degrees of volume and pitch. The promise we hold to is that the time of man is coming to an end; the time for the Son of Man to rule the nations is coming soon.
North Korea's Juche (주체) is really only a strong reflection of mankind's rebellion as a whole. Men and women throughout the world seek to be self reliant--to define themselves, or--as the Scripture puts it--to "break their bonds asunder." But God annihilates our self reliance through Grace and Terror. Only by learning to fear and love Him can we hope to escape our own mislead form of self-reliance. There will be nothing better than to cast our crowns (achievements and goodness) down before the Almighty God who alone gets the credit for our righteousness, our work, our faith, and our love.
North Korea (and all other nations) beware! The Kingdom of God is advancing forcefully! You cannot stop the gospel of Christ, nor the coming Day of the Lord!