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Reflections on Job: Strange answers

Job is one of my favorite Old Testament books because of how it addresses deep life issues. It addresses why we as Christians face trauma, suffering, injustice, and evil in this world -- why God allows to happen to us, or allows others to face severe persecution for their faith. Yet it is paradoxical in how it addresses these issues, seemingly without providing us a direct answer that we would expect to the question of why. Yet simple answers to such questions are not to be found in scripture.

We read of Job struggling deeply with spiritual despair and loneliness in the face of suffering, plus criticism from his dubious friends. He never learned the why's of his particular circumstances from God, nor apparently of the spiritual warfare in which he was enmeshed between Satan and God. The book provides no straight, simple answers to these questions. The answer that comes from God seems in fact strange. Essentially, God speaks and reminds Job and his false friends of who he is, as a…

The Jesus of Christmas

“Immanuel” - “God with us” announced the angels two millenia ago. And thus, a great cosmic mystery unfolded in human history. The most holy and omnipotent God, whose nature and existence we cannot comprehend with our finite minds, who exists beyond the universe that he made, broke directly into human history to reach out to us. The eternal Christ emptied himself of his divine powers and prerogatives, took on human form, to show us the way to salvation. And not just to show us the way, but so that he himself would become the way, as he humbled himself to death on a cross for us.

This month, as we reflect on the Christmas gift of the Son to us, let us remember it not just as a story of long ago, but let us also remember his profound love. Let us open ourselves to experiencing it more each day. Jesus, our Immanuel, came to be with us, and is always with us and in us.

This is amazing for so many reasons, first of all, because God himself is infinitely…

So, how’s your relationship?

People in relationships often ask themselves, at some level of consciousness or another, how they feel the relationship is going. Particularly they ask themselves, “how am I benefiting from the relationship” or “what am I getting out of the relationship?” And in a healthy romantic relationship, a person would ask him/herself, “I wonder if s/he is benefiting from or enjoying the relationship, and me?” These are the kinds of questions that healthy people would ask themselves in healthy relationships, as long as their expectations aren’t unreasonable or overly selfish.

We also have to evaluate our relationship with God, but we can’t evaluate this relationship in quite the same way. To simply ask, “how am I benefiting from this relationship with God” in the same way would be egocentric. A better way to approach this question would be to ask yourself, “for what specific things am I thankful to God?” and to reflect on all his mercies, grace, and blessings to you – m…

The cost of being a disciple

In Jesus’ day, a disciple was a follower, a student and an apprentice of a rabbi (a spiritual teacher). If one wanted to become a rabbi, one trained as a disciple-apprentice to a rabbi, learned from him, followed him, and then started to do as the rabbi did. Jesus, by the way, was a self-taught rabbi; as God’s son he did not need to learn from a human rabbi.

Jesus commands us to be his disciples. We follow him, we learn how to live the spiritual life that he wants for us, we learn his teaching, and we spread his teaching to others and encourage them to become disciples of our Lord. Being a disciple, then, entails a cost, because we must give up everything to become his disciples [Luke 14.33]. There’s no room for the sort of easy-believism that has become popular today.

One could be a faithful disciple, or a disciple who is ineffective or inactive (just as one could be a good or bad student, but a student nonetheless; in fact, ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ come from the Latin word for…

Freedom from English

Here's the transcript of my talk at the 세바시 on Freedom from English. This is an approximate transcript that I prepared for my talk, so that they could provide Korean subtitles for listeners. My delivery was kind of unnatural and sometimes not so fluid, because I had to give my speech from a memorized script.

Freedom from English I remember several years ago, I was at a bus stop near 왕십리 [Wangshimni], when some high school boys came up to me, wanting to practice English. But as they opened their mouths, all they could say was, “Hi... I like kimchi... I love you” - and then walked away quickly, giggling, and embarrassed. Sadly, they studied English in school for many years, yet they could not say anything meaningful – just a few simple, awkward phrases, not knowing that it is not appropriate to say “I love you” to stranger.

I often hear of how Koreans spend so much time, so much effort and so much money on studying English, but with such poor results. In fact, English has become …

세바시: Freedom from English

Alas! My talk has been posted on Youtube. I gave this talk at 세바시 a month ago, on "Freedom from English."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9f0692r_dg&feature=plcp

I talk about how English education has become such an obsession in Korea, that it has actually become a form of bondage. This speech describes the difficulties and misconceptions of learning English as a second language, the motivational problems that are prevalent here, and some steps to freedom. I hope your friends can be blessed by it. Later I'll post a transcript of the talk.

Theological limericks

This post is updated with a few more limericks.

I'm not a Calvinist, of course, but if you're familiar with Calvinism, you may find the following limerick to be cute - about a brand of hyper-calvinism.
Franciscus Gomarus
Was a supralapsarius;
He actually gave Adam an excuse.
God had decreed, foreordained Adam’s deed,
God had precooked Adam’s goose.
And a couple of Catholic or high church flavored ones...
With a fear of divine retribution,
You are seeking the priest's absolution.
Show remorse and regret?
He'll forgive, not forget,
What you did to deserve execution. ...
It's hard to describe the frustration
We derive from our priest's cantillation.
His liturgical text
Makes us bored and so vexed,
When he stops, he receives an ovation.
For a bit of historical flavor...
In Christology's greatest debate,
The Antiochene school carries weight.
"Our Lord Christ," they opine,
"Was more flesh than divine."
Alexandrians say, "Now, just wait!"…

Cat allergies

A solution for cat allergies...?



추석 [Chuseok] and ancestor rites

Chuseok is a harvest festival, similar to Thanksgiving, which involves family reunions, eating, and in some households, ancestor worship rites. Ancient Koreans did not know the one true God who was to be thanked, and as in many other cultures, they turned to developing other spiritual identities (see Rom. 1, Acts 17), and instead gave thanks to the spirits of their ancestors. Nowadays, Korean Christians use this opportunity to thank God for family and divine blessings. Christian families hold memorials instead of ancestor rites, to express thanks to God and to remember the deceased.
But some Christians find themselves caught up in family conflict, when their non-believing families insist on their participation in ancestor worship. How believers in non-believing families are to respond is difficult, and sometimes controversial. For Asians, familial piety and relationships are especially important, and a Christian does not want to be a poor witness by violating this, but at the same t…

Gossip, accusation and spiritual warfare

Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” [1 Cor. 12:20]. Gossip is diagnosed as a serious spiritual problem, not a harmless form of conversation and social entertainment, as many in the secular world would view it.God views it differently. Gossip is the opposite of the love and grace that God wants to display in our lives.
Gossip is often exaggerated (and thus, untrue), or outright fabricated. Even church people engage in gossip in a seemingly sanctimonious guise (“We really ought to pray for X – you wouldn’t believe what he told me yesterday!...”). Whether secular or “christianized,” gossip betrays trust. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” [Prov. 11:13]; “A perverse person stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates clo…

세바시

Last Monday I got to give a talk at a public speaking event known as the 세바시, or 세상을 바꾸는 시간 15분 at the KT Hall in Mokdong. It is organized by CBS (the Korean Christian Broadcasting Service), and is one of their secular programs; it is modeled on the TED conferences. It will air on the CBS TV cable channel in three weeks [see http://www.change15min.com, facebook.com/cbs15min], and immediately thereafter it will be posted on their Youtube channel [youtube.com/cbs15min].
I don't want to brag about this (which is why I'm posting this on Google+, as I only know two people in the world who currently use Google+). Rather, I want to thank God for this opportunity, and hope that others may be blessed by the talk.
That's because my talk is about 'Freedom from English'. I talked about how English has become such an obsession and a burden for Koreans, which is actually an emotional and spiritual bondage, which hinders them from learning English in any meaningful, practical …

My websites, updated

Well, it's been a while. More to come. My old Hanyang sites are down, since I moved to Korea University two years ago. All of my course materials and ESL materials have been moved to my main website, which actually runs off my Dropbox account, and is referenced by two URL shortcuts:

www.tinyurl.com/kentlee7 or www.bit.ly/kentlee7

The above site contains ESL materials, writing materials, course materials, and education related materials.

I have also opened a Youtube channel under the name kentlee7 [http://www.youtube.com/user/kentlee7]. I have a few of my KU materials there, mostly education related seminars. Hopefully I will create some ESL videos to help Koreans with English, maybe in the future.

I still have my website for my old Bible study materials from my grad school days:
www.tinyurl.com/enseoul