Thank you, Dr. Packer. Your life changed the course of my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I honor you. I miss you. And I look forward to the day when I will see you again … when we’re all finally home.
I was in shock, I was saddened, and I had deep joy as I heard JI Packer went home today. His writings and teachings were formative to my spiritual journey, beginning in my highschool and college years. His book Knowing God was a big reason I chose to study at Regent College for my MDiv degree. Each time I saw him in class, each time I heard a lecture, each time I saw his photo, each time I read his books, I wanted to love Jesus more and I wanted to live faithfully like him. What a privilege it was to sit in his class. And one of the greatest honors of my life was to read the words of his endorsement to my first book, Justice Awakening. We lost a mighty giant of the Christian faith today, but I have deep joy knowing that he is finally home and entered his everlasting rest. Multitudes welcomed him, the angels rejoiced, and Jesus embraced him declaring, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s happiness.” You fought the good fight. You kept the faith. You finished your race. I hear your voice echoed through the words of Paul: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Thank you, Dr. Packer. Your life changed the course of my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I honor you. I miss you. And I look forward to the day when I will see you again … when we’re all finally home.
We are witnessing an incredible season of people rising up in the pursuit of justice like we've never seen in our lifetime. With this movement, it is all the more important that our motives and methods are grounded in the Word of God and the gospel. We desire to be a people who both declare and demonstrate the gospel in our lives.
I just found out today that my publisher has put the Kindle version of my book Justice Awakening on sale for $3.99 until June 24 (next Wednesday).
If you haven't done so already, I'd encourage you to especially read chapters 1 and 2 from my book to give you a solid biblical basis for why we seek justice in our world. Chapter 1 covers a brief overview of justice in the Bible and looks at how passionate this issue is to God's heart and His Kingdom. And chapter 2 explores the question of, "Where is the justice of God?" when it seems so much injustice surrounds us. God does have an answer and God does have a plan. There are also discussion questions and prayer points at the end of each chapter to aid in small group studies of the book as well.
Let us continue to prayerfully, humbly, and courageously seek first His Kingdom and His justice in our world today.
Thank you always for your support. Sending this with prayer for you.
Justice Awakening $3.99 (Until June 24)
How Do We Respond to the Crisis of this Hour?
There is so much pain. There are so many hurting in this hour. There are so many emotions. Anger. Sadness. Fear. Worry. There is so much uncertainty. We are grieving now over the loss of many who have died unjustly at the hands of people who were called upon to serve and to protect. The murder of George Floyd has opened up a gaping wound for a people that have been oppressed under the yoke of injustice for decades. It is not the Land of the Free for some of our citizens. The American Dream has become a nightmare for too many of African-American brothers and sisters. We are a nation that is deeply hurting. And we are a nation in crisis. On top of all that, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic.
So how do we respond as the Body of Christ to this current crisis? What can we do? It can seem overwhelming, but there are some steps we can take that will help our own hearts as well as move us in the right direction.
Here are some steps we can take:
Vent our Emotions to the Lord
The first thing we must do is be honest with all the raw emotions that are flooding our minds and our hearts as we go through these intense times. Pour out your heart to the Lord in prayer. The psalmists cry out, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide your face in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Are you angry? Vent that rage to the Lord. Are you worried? Pour out your fears to our Father in heaven. He can handle all your honest emotions. We must learn to pray our pain to the Lord and pray through pain as we hope.
Lament the Loss and Brokenness of our World
We have lost so much these past few months in our world. We have seen hundreds of thousands die through the pandemic. We have seen far too many of our black brothers and sisters die at the hands of those who should have protected them. Millions have lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost dreams, and lost hope. It is a season to lament over these losses - some of which we will never have in our lives again. We will never be the same, and it is healthy for our souls and right to grieve over these losses. We lament over the cities in America crying out in pain. We cry out with the prophet Habakkuk, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Be real with how you feel, and let those feelings turn into prayers.
Repent of Sins - Past and Present, Corporate and Personal
What we are seeing in the news each day is a result of the sins of this nation that has oppressed its people for decades. Before we point the finger at anyone else, we need to begin by repenting of our own sins that have played a role to these injustices. Be it by our actions, our attitude, or our apathy, we must repent of the sin of racism - in our hearts and in our land. We must repent of our sins of not loving our neighbors as ourselves. We must repent of not caring for the poor, the oppressed, or the vulnerable in our communities. God commands His people to “seek justice and correct oppression.” (Isaiah 1:17) God, have mercy on us and forgive us, as a nation, as Your Church, and as a child of God - for sins committed against our neighbors in the past and that continues even today. Spend time before the Lord, honestly, and ask, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) Turn away from past sins and apathy, and turn to the Lord as we love our neighbors. Have a time of personal and corporate repentance (as a church) in the coming days as we pray for America.
Circumvent Apathy by Taking Action
We must no longer allow apathy to be a part of our lives when it comes to justice for our black brother and sister. We must move beyond awareness of issues. Awareness is a good place to start, but what I have seen too often is that awareness without action leads to apathy. So we must move into action and let our faith manifest deeds. There are many things we can do, and while not everyone will have the same role, each of us does have a role to play in bringing change for a better tomorrow. Some practical next steps can be to:
Cement Your Hope in Christ
All the pain we are witnessing around us today is a clear sign that this world is fallen and broken because of sin and that we are in need of a Savior. It is also a reminder that our hope should not be in this temporary life we are in, but rather, in Christ who is King and in His Kingdom that is coming. Therefore, in this fallen world that is looking for hope, let us hold out the hope of the gospel to a watching world. Let us share the good news of Jesus - that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins, and that whoever would trust in Him, would receive everlasting life. Only the gospel can change the sinful heart and make it new again. Let us live out the gospel. “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and give glory to the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We need to see the Church living out the gospel now more than ever before. Fast and pray for this nation and for Christ’s return. Let's continue to cover our nation and our generation in prayer. Pray for salvation and revival to uproot racism from people's hearts. Pray that America would to bow to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This crisis is a cry for the Church to repent and pray and turn to the Lord.
Jesus is still on the Throne. He rules and reigns over all the cities and nations of this world. He is sovereign and He is good. And He will one day restore all things as they should. He is coming back one day soon to take all who trust in Him to reign with Him in His eternal Kingdom - a Kingdom where peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation will bow before Him as King. Until that day, let us stay busy doing His work of righteousness and justice as we love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
There are many great books to read on these issues, but here are some I can recommend to start with:
How Should We Think About Death?
With the Covid-19 pandemic now reaching over 340,000 deaths worldwide, and 100,000 deaths in the US alone, there is great mourning all around us. On top of these losses, we have also seen the passing of many well known and dearly beloved public figures in recent days - from pastors and teachers, to athletes and actors. We will also be honoring those who gave up their lives defending our country on Memorial Day. It seems everyday, we are reminded of the reality of death in the news. It is something we can no longer comfortably ignore - and it is something we never should have ignored. Most people aren’t comfortable thinking of death, yet it is one of the few things in life that is certain. And it is the one appointment we will not be late for. Instead of ignoring this reality, there are many important lessons we can learn about death. Here are some reflections on death that is worthy of our reflection.
Death is a picture. Physical death is a picture of the power of sin that can destroy a life. Death is a reminder that life is short. Life is fragile. And life is fallen. Therefore we need a savior. And we need to be reminded of this time and time again, so we don’t get blinded by the lull of this world that tries to keep us from thinking about the eternal significance of our choices. There are many kinds of death in our world. There is the death of a friendship or a relationship that can feel just as painful as a physical loss of a friend. There is the death of a dream or a death or a job (which many have experienced during this pandemic too).
Death is to be mourned. Toward the end of his life Rich Mullins said, “I think we cry at funerals—even at funerals of people we don't like—because we realize what a miracle a life is. You realize, ‘This will never happen again.’ There will never be this exact combination of genes, there will never again be the things that have created this person to be what he is. God has spoken uniquely here, and it's gone. It's over. And I think there's some regret, because we all realize, boy, we didn't pay enough attention.”
Death must be prepared for. Jonathan Edwards had as one of his life resolutions to focus on this topic: #9: Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. He resolved in his life to think as much as he could about his own death so that he would be ready to die, then he would be ready to live properly now. Only when you’re ready to die, are truly ready to live in this world. If you’re not ready to die, you’re not really living. Because if you’re not ready to die, you’re going to be living for the wrong things. We must remember that our spiritual status is sealed forever at death. Those who have repented and turned to Christ: you are sealed and secure forever. Those who have rejected Christ and hardened your heart towards Him: you will be sealed and condemned. We will be in an unchangeable state from that moment on: either forever a saint or forever a sinner.
Death is a doorway to our eternal dwelling. But in Christ, the doorway to destruction has now turned into the gateway to glory for the people of God! Death, which is the last enemy, is now Christ’s servant. Death serves as a servant to Jesus - bringing God’s children home. Are you ready? Let’s live ready - ready to walk through the gateway to glory.
[These reflections are portions of a sermon entitled “Lessons on Death”. To hear the sermon in its entirety, click here]
When It’s Not Safer at Home
During this Covid-19 pandemic, most of America and other countries are practicing a shelter-in-place order to protect people from the spread of this deadly virus. Local government leaders have encouraged us by saying that it’s “safer at home”. For most people, this is true. But for some, it has not been safer to stay at home. There has been a 20% rise in domestic abuse globally. “I’m in coronavirus lockdown with my abuser” is being reported in the UK, Latin America, and every country that has been locked down. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has seen a spike during the pandemic across the US.
Sadly this is not the only kind of abuse that has been on the rise during this pandemic. The sexual abuse and cyber-trafficking of young children has also been spiking. The National Sexual Assault Hotline said they have received a 33% increase in the number of calls in March and 50% of those calls were from minors. 79% said they were living with their perpitrators. That was just in the United States. In the Philippines, which is the center of the cyber sex trafficking world for children, 7 minors were rescued recently ages 3-14 (yes, you read that correctly). Just a few days ago in Cebu, 4 women and another child was rescued from a cyber trafficking ring, while another 10 women were rescued from a spa.
With the alarming rise of abuse and even trafficking happening during this global crisis, we must not forget these victims in our prayers and in our acts of loving support. I had the honor of seeing the start and growth of Restore Children and Family Services, based in Cebu, Philippines. It was started by some dear friends of mine after seeing the number of minors being sold and exploited online in Cebu to customers logging in from all over the world; most of these customers are from wealthy, Western nations. I’ve been having monthly prayer meetings via Zoom with the Restore staff and wanted to pass on some key prayer requests to you.
There are many important things to be praying for during this special season. God has given us time and space to pray these prayers. I ask that you remember to pray for those who are vulnerable in their own homes. Dear Church, let us pray.
A Prayer Guide for North Korea
There has been reports recently of the North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, being in frail condition with his health. While we don’t know his true physical condition at this moment, we do know he and his nation need our prayers. How interesting it is that the timing of this news came while we are going through this pandemic of Covid-19 and while God has given us more space to pray throughout our days. May we heed His call in this hour to pray - for our nation and for the nations. I believe God is calling us to pray for North Korea in this hour. Here is a simple outline (P.R.I.N.C.E.) that can guide our prayers for that part of the world.
Pray for Peace
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9 ESV)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.” (Psalm 122:6-9 ESV)
Jesus is the Prince of peace, so we pray to Him to bring His peace into this divided nation. Though Korea is one nation and one people group, it has been divided into North and South Korea since the end of WWII in 1945. The division between the political borders that separates these families is not God’s will. Pray for a peaceful reunification, without warfare or bloodshed. Pray for godly wisdom and council to guide President Moon of South Korea.
Pray for Restoration
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25 ESV)
Life in Christ brings restoration. Things that were broken bring blessings. Things that were barren become fruitful. Even with the loss of loved ones, faith in Christ eliminates goodbyes forever. There is always hope that is found in Jesus.
The locusts have eaten away so much life, food, and hope in North Korea. So many families have been separated for decades. So many lives are malnourished and dying. I went to North Korea several years ago and was shocked to see 12 year old boys look like 6 year olds because of malnutrition. They need bread. But they also need the Bread from heaven - Jesus Christ. Pray that God will restore this nation with life again.
Pray for Intercessors
Pray that more people will pray. Pray that God would raise up faithful, persistent intercessors for North and South Korea in this critical hour.
“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30 ESV)
God is always looking for intercessors. God is seeking for hearts that are seeking for Him. The world looks for the prettiest, the richest, or the strongest. But God looks for those who pray. “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2:8 ESV) The nations belong to those who pray for them. Intercession is the path for our inheritance. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (Matthew 9:37-38 ESV) Pray for more workers to be sent into North Korea. Two other guides that can help you pray for the nations are the books Praying for Your Missionary and Operation World. The day is approaching when North Korea will be free from her oppression. Pray for God to prepare His people for that day.
Pray for New Leadership
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV)
God calls His people to pray for the leaders of our land and the leaders of the nations. And especially now, in this urgent hour, we must pray for Kim, Jung Un. While we don’t know the condition of his health, we do know the condition of his soul. And he is someone in need of God’s saving grace. Pray for his salvation. Pray for justice and righteousness to reign in North Korea. Pray for the eyes of his heart to be enlightened to see the beauty of Christ and to know His saving grace. Pray for God to raise up godly leaders in North and South Korea to wisely govern the people of those lands.
Pray for the Churches in Korea
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)
Pray for the churches in South Korea to be ready to go in and serve those in the North. And to be ready, we need to pray that the churches in Korea will be godly, humble, and hungry churches again. Pray that Korea would repent of her sins of greed, materialism, racism, and idolatry. Pray that South Korea would repent of sacrificing their children on the altar of education. Pray for idols to burn and hearts to return to the True Savior of our souls. Pray that God would give the churches in the South a heart to sacrificially love, serve, and ready themselves to embrace the North - as neighbors, as family. And let us pray for the church in North Korea to remain steadfast and faithful, despite the persecution they face for their faith.
Pray for the Evangelization of North Korea
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)
Our lives are about Jesus. Our lives are about making Him known where He is not yet known. Our aim is the spreading of His fame. Our goal is the salvation of the soul. That peoples would praise Him, that all the peoples would praise Him. Pray for a revival in North Korea and that the millions would know the sweet saving power of the cross. Pray for a revival in the Church in Korea.
People of God in Korea. And people of God around the world. We must stay in prayer for this one nation of Korea. There is a huge shaking happening right now. And God has put you in this land, in this hour, for such a time as this. I have been praying that God's shaking would lead to a great awakening. May the idols of Korea burn and may the people's hearts return to Jesus Christ today. Jesus is Lord over North Korea. Jesus is Lord over South Korea. And He loves this nation deeply.
Let us seek His heart. Let us delight His heart. Let us pray.
Eddie Byun is Associate Professor of Christian Ministry at Talbot School of Theology. He is the author of the award winning book Justice Awakening, Praying for Your Pastor, and Praying for Your Missionary. He is also the Executive Producer of Save My Seoul, an award winning documentary about sex trafficking in South Korea. He lives with his wife and son in Irvine, California.
A song and a prayer for Restore Children and Family Services (while Enoch had fun in the background :) ) I encourage you to please pray for the safety of all vulnerable children in Cebu and around the world. May God protect, heal, and restore them all ... in Jesus name.
It’s a Good Thing
It’s a good thing Jesus died … otherwise I would be the one to die for my sin and spend eternity without Him.
It’s a good thing Jesus died … otherwise I would live under the cloud of condemnation and never taste the sweetness of salvation.
It’s a good thing Jesus died … otherwise, though a life had just begun, the worst would be yet to come.
It’s a good thing Jesus died … because now no matter what you’ve done, you can be made new if to Christ you come.
It’s a good thing Jesus died … because if you’re at the end of your rope, in Him there’s eternal hope.
It’s a good thing Jesus died …
It’s a good thing there’s Good Friday.
Thank you Jesus.
I had a wonderful time praying with the staff of Restore tonight. Restore is a restoration center that has been rescuing, healing, and serving the young victims of cyber sex trafficking in Cebu, Philippines for the past 2 years. Can I ask for prayers for them please? Things are a bit stricter there for their lock down so people can’t leave their homes. So for the time being, the Restore counseling staff can’t see the kids that they have been serving, thus adding to the already deep trauma for the children. The safehouse workers are also under increased stress with the lock down in place and the children who want to go outside. Many of the poorer families are in need of food and toiletries. Pray for God to provide a way for food and other needs to brought to them. (Churches in Cebu, can you reach out to Restore and connect with these families?) And as most companies and nonprofits are feeling the financial effects of Covid-19, (as much as you are able) please continue to give to the churches and ministries you have been supporting. And if you feel led, you can give a donation to Restore at their website. God was moving powerfully as we prayed. We also felt led to pray many prayers of repentance for our nation and for the sins of our generation. These have been things God’s been placing on my heart the past several days. Let’s continue to seek the Lord in this unique season of our lives.
Dear Church. This is Not Business As Usual. It is a Season to Repent, Fast, and Pray.
Dear Church. This is not business as usual with the exception that everything is online now. People have died by the thousands over the past few days. Tens of thousands have entered eternity in the past few weeks. Many are entering a Christ-less eternity. People are dying. Creation is groaning. The church must be praying. There has never been such a clear, in-your-face, signal of urgency from heaven like this in our lifetime before. He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
This isn’t the time to simply pray for a few seconds, watch Netflix, and wait for things to return back to normal. Being the Church in this hour isn’t about learning how to broadcast our services online. Being the Church in this hour isn’t about how to get “more views” for our church services online. Being the Church in this hour is about being the Church. Loving God and loving our neighbors. Living the gospel and declaring the gospel. Being the Church in this hour is about repenting of the sins in the Church that have become far too comfortable in our hearts for far too long. Being the Church in this hour is about repenting of the sins of our nation and of our generation. Sins of prayerlessness. Sins of spiritual apathy. Sins of adultery. Sins of abortion. Sins of racism. Sins of greed. Sins of idolatry. Sins of spiritual abuse. Sins of pride. Sins of pornography. Sins of lust. Sins of sexual abuse. Sins of narcissism. Sins of ambition. Sins of wanting to be a celebrity and worshipping celebrities instead of following Christ. Sins of selfishness. Sins of impatience. Sins of unkindness. Sins of jealousy. Sins of loving this world, more than longing for Jesus. Sins that Jesus came to die for. This is how we need to be preparing for Easter. By examining our hearts and seeing that we are still in desperate need of a Savior. Yes, our neighbors need to hear the gospel. Yes, our neighborhoods need revival. And that revival needs to begin in our own hearts first. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Our concern in this hour should be to humble ourselves before our holy God and pray to Him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24) God is calling us to repent. To turn from sin and to trust in Him. God is shaking the world. God is shaking His Church in this hour. He is not coming to us in a whisper. He is screaming. Arise! Awake! Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near! “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) It is Spring cleaning for the family of God, therefore we must repent, fast, and pray.
More than prayer meetings, we need to see prayer movements rise up. God is calling the Church to pray. We must live in the place of prayer, and fasting must become a normal part of our discipleship. Church leaders, allow prayer and fasting to become central parts of your church’s life and culture. Lead your people into His Throne Room and call them to intercede. Call them to fast - a meal, a day, several days, and let it become a regular part of their lifestyle. John Piper calls fasting, “a hunger for God.” May our hearts be marked by that hunger.
We are in a physical and spiritual battle. Therefore we must fight on our knees for a breakthrough in this pandemic. We must fight on our knees for healing, for a vaccine, for the provision of supplies, for protection for medical professionals. We must fight on our knees for hearts to return to Christ. We rejoice in seeing so many doctors and nurses praying before, during, and after their shifts - on the rooftops, in the hallways, and in the ER. We rejoice that God is moving. We must follow His lead. We must move with His Spirit that is drawing all men and women and children to Himself. We must fight on our knees for wisdom to be released in greater measure over our leadership. We must pray for God to use President Trump and other world leaders for the good of the people and for the glory of God. We must pray against racism and for a spirit of compassion and kindness to reign in our communities. We must pray for homes to be filled with love and forgiveness, joy and laughter. We must pray for the Church to repent and pray.
God is calling His Bride to turn from sin and return to Him. For He is our hope. Jesus will heal. Jesus will restore. Jesus is coming back to make all things new. And Jesus is coming back soon. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
There is so much pain. There is such great urgency. There is so much to pray for. There is so much at stake. And there is hope. Jesus is the hope of the world.
Brothers and sisters … let us pray to Him, trust Him, treasure Him, and point the world to Him.
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace."
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