Video – How Do We React When Our Sin Is Exposed?

Pastor Tim Dillmuth notes that when confronted with their sin, many Christians try to defend themselves, deny their sin, or even succumb to deep depression.  In 1 Timothy 1:15-17, we see how the Apostle Paul took a completely different approach.  Paul identified himself as the worst of sinners.  Paul wasn’t exaggerating but rather was admitting to what was clearly true – he had persecuted Christians, thus persecuting Christ himself!

To listen to the full sermon and other Seoul USA Podcasts, visit the Seoul USA Podcast Page!

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What’s More Important Than Protecting Your Childrens’ Right To Read The Bible During School Recess?

Recently young Giovanni Rubeo was refused access to his Bible during his school’s free reading time.  I was interested to learn more about his response to his teacher in light of the theology of persecution and suffering we teach to North Korean defectors who are training to be missionaries to their own people.

Last week I shared with them the above video and asked them what they thought about Rubeo’s situation. I thought it would be helpful for the defectors to compare/contrast Rubeo’s response with how Scripture tells us to respond.

Surprisingly, all of the North Korean defectors agreed that Rubeo was indeed being persecuted for his faith.  They noted that the persecution wasn’t extreme and wasn’t physical in nature, but that nonetheless it was persecution.

But there was also a consensus in the class that young Rubeo and his father didn’t respond quite right to the persecution.

In The Shadow of the Cross, by Glenn Penner, points out that Scripture models three primary responses to persecution.

Flee – There are certain times when the Bible says that it is appropriate to flee or run away from persecution. The reason for the “fleeing” is important though, because the Bible never tells us to run away from persecution only for the purpose of avoiding suffering. God’s mission and God’s timing are always the most important things to consider. A good example of this are the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:23. He says,

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:23).

Jesus tells his followers to escape to another city, not because he is seeking to save them from having to suffer, but because his mission was for them to go from city to city telling the people about Jesus. If they were to get trapped in one city then they wouldn’t be able to spread God’s message to the other cities that Jesus wanted them to go.

Courage – This is the most common response to persecution that we see in the Bible. For example, shortly after Jesus suffered, died and rose again, He gave a surprising command to his followers. He told them to “stay in Jerusalem,” (Acts 1:4) which was the very place where all of these terrible things had happened. I’m sure his followers may rather have received a command from him to flee to another town or village where they might have been safer, but Jesus told them simply to stay.

Fight – There are also times when it is okay to defend yourself. Jesus at one point in his suffering defended himself, not to protest his suffering but rather as a testimony to his innocence.  The Apostle Paul is also a good example. Paul was regularly being persecuted and thrown in prison for telling others about Jesus Christ. One time, however, Paul told one of the high officials that they didn’t have the right to arrest him and that he had done nothing wrong.

But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:10-11).”

Again, it’s important to point out that Paul never fought in order to avoid suffering or even to maintain his own personal liberty. And it’s interesting to note that he didn’t even fight for his right to engage in private Christian activity, e.g., studying the Bible in public school.  He did it to spread the message about which he was preaching.

After watching the video, the UU students felt that Rubeo had most closely resembled the “fight” response mentioned above.  But the students (and myself) were uncomfortable with the way the Rubeos demanded an apology from the teacher.

Personally, I respect the courage that it took for young Rubeo to read his Bible in school, but I also sense that the outrage the Rubeo’s expressed had less to do with spreading the gospel and more to do with personal liberty.

The Bible promises that if we truly follow God, we will be persecuted, but my challenge to you is to respond to persecution, (flee, courage or fight) with an aim to make disciples by proclaiming the gospel and not simply with an aim to protect your right to be a disciple.

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The True “Dear Leader” of North Korea…AKA The Gandhi Of Korea

Cho Man SikIn a few weeks I’ll be starting my last year of doctoral study at Case Western Reserve University. I’m due to graduate in May 2015, Lord permitting, but I’m even more excited to begin the education that comes after that.

That’s because in June 2015 I’ll finally be putting in my eighteen months of hardcore language learning to achieve full fluency in Korean. The reason why I’m doing this, however, will probably surprise you.

I’m doing this because I feel called to write a book about a man named Cho Man-Sik, the true “Dear Leader” of North Korea.

Information about Mr. Cho is largely lost to history, however. Neither North or South Korea had much use for him, as he ultimately decided to answer a question no one was (or still is) asking:

What’s more important than Korean independence? (Or, contemporized for today: What’s more important than Korean unification?)

Mr. Cho was ostensibly an independence activist who began his work before there was a North or a South Korea. At that time, there was only one Korea, occupied by Japan. And in that one Korea Mr. Cho was a political leader, educator and nationalist.

Mainly, however, he was a passionate Christian (so much so that it proved to be his earthly undoing—keep reading). He is known as the Gandhi of Korea for his commitment to nonviolence, which arose from his deep faith and trust in God.

He established the Christian party and after Korea’s liberation from Japan, Russia realized he was so popular that it would have been virtually impossible not to have him lead the government of the five provinces that would soon constitute North Korea.

The problem was that Mr. Cho refused to support the proposed five-year UN trusteeship of a divided Korea. For this he was held in custody and died in 1950, though the circumstances of his death are largely unknown.

After Kim Il Sung became the leader of North Korea, NK people were taught (and still are taught) that Mr. Cho was a dangerous reactionary who tried to topple him.

Last month we took our Underground University and Underground Technology students to the very-small-but-I’m-at-least-glad-there-is-one Cho Man Sik Museum in South Korea. There were not many materials and pictures of Mr. Cho because he died in North Korea. It was quite modest compared to his significance.

(Note to self: Undertake building of larger Cho Man Sik Museum shortly after completion of Cho Man Sik book shortly after completion of language study.)

It took our students about ten minutes to look around and read everything in the museum about Mr. Cho. But talk about an impactful ten minutes!

Going into the visit our students had uniformly bad thoughts and images of Mr. Cho. They recalled a movie they had seen in North Korea about him. In the movie Mr. Cho was described as a religious leader who tried to trample Kim Il Sung to usurp the leadership of North Korea.

Even with the limited materials in the museum the students quickly realized that they had been vastly misled about Mr. Cho. They came to know Mr. Cho was a great man who sacrificed his life for his people as he trusted and followed the way of Christ.

Before Mr. Cho believed in Jesus he was a fighter and drunkard; however after he came to know God he was totally transformed, avoiding sinful places and entertainments. He chose the difficult way of the cross. He did not condemn others (not even Kim Il Sung, interestingly) but instead obeyed what God asked him to do.

Students told us that they came to know how precious a martyr Mr. Cho is. They felt what they described as “the greatest love of God toward North Korea.”

One Underground Technology student shared that she was touched to learn that Mr. Cho was given the opportunity to escape his arrest and flee North Korea for Seoul; however, he refused to leave because of the many NK people still in Pyongyang who were not permitted to flee. He wanted to stay and die with his people.

Another student confessed that she realized how she selfish she is in comparison to Mr. Cho. She did not want to mix with NK defectors and have fellowship with them after coming to South Korea. She admitted that she never thought about North Korea after she came to SK. Through learning about Mr. Cho’s life, she could see how his sacrifice and love influenced many NK people with the love of God. She challenged herself and her classmates to be like that.

Which is why I am excited to finish my doctorate, but even more excited to learn enough Korean to research and write a book about the true “Dear Leader” of North Korea—Korea’s own Gandhi, Cho Man-Sik.

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