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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Job 1:21 The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Yesterday my dad went to be with Big Poppa in the Sky. He was comfortable and surrounded by loved ones. It’s never easy saying goodbye, but we feel incredibly blessed by the support of those around us, the richness of dad’s life, and the circumstances of his death.

My wife Elaine is a hospice care doctor and in that capacity has helped many patients go through their last days. She was reflecting yesterday that some go suddenly, leaving family members with a sense of unfinished business, and some go slowly often leading to long drawn out periods of pain. But somehow God gave us a good couple of years to prioritize spending time with my father, and yet that time was remarkably pain free for a cancer patient undergoing chemo and immunotherapy.

His condition really started to deteriorate when we touched down in Los Angeles earlier this month. Some might see that as unfortunate timing, but we know that God is never early, and he’s never late. He’s always on time. The fact that we could all be together to support him in the process was an incredible blessing. The fact that Elaine was around to guide us through the tough conversations proved invaluable. She flies off in a few days so we actually had a very short window where everyone was here, and somehow God chose to bring Dad back right in the middle of it. Cosmic…

Whenever he thought about his grandkids, my dad would smile ear to ear with this expression that beamed “how could I be so lucky?” My mom said that in her prayers she saw him with that same expression as he went to be with the Lord.

Bill Johnson once said that in heaven it will be easy to worship God. There is no death, no disease, no destruction… The presence of God will be so thick that every creature has no choice but to sing praises. As his father sat on his deathbed (he also went of cancer), Pastor Bill had this thought that “on earth, we have the privilege to worship and thank God, even in the midst of difficulty. That is something that is unique to our experience on earth, and in a strange way perhaps is something to be treasured.”

Am I sad? Yes of course. I’ve cried a lot over the past days, weeks and months. I’m going to miss my dad so much. While I’m yielded to God’s plan, I also prayed for complete and supernatural healing until the last breath. Then I prayed for a resurrection from the dead even after his last breath. It’s hard to let go, but it’s also a unique privilege to praise and thank God in times like these.

Lord, I love you. Thank you for your goodness and your mercy. Thank you for a father who exemplified your love to everyone around him. You give and you take away. Blessed be your name.

  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Over a dozen people recommended that I listen to a podcast by Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman before I finally got around to it. Now I’m hooked.

Dr. Huberman explores the latest research, which often confounds traditional wisdom on everything from fitness to food and from improving focus to eliminating fear. I’m sleeping better, enjoying a more fun lifestyle, and probably added a decade to my lifespan with the habits I’ve implemented from his wisdom.

There are so many great nuggets in there, but the one that Huberman probably espouses most frequently is that “I focus on mechanism over protocol.”

[I paraphrase]

“See so often I find people just want me to tell them what to do. ‘What supplements should I buy? What time should I sleep? Should I lift weights or do crossfit? How many times per week?’ The reality is that everyone is different, and even if there is an ideal protocol for you to follow, life happens and you’re never going to be able to keep it up perfectly into perpetuity.

What I find much more effective than sticking to one protocol is to dig into the mechanism. If you understand how things work, based on peer-reviewed research from reputable publications, then you can formulate a routine for yourself. But when you can’t follow that routine one day because life happens, you can adjust based on your knowledge of the mechanism instead of wallowing in a sea of guilt. I find this approach much more sustainable and frankly more enjoyable than following a bunch of rules.”

I feel like in so many ways this encapsulates the spiritual life. It’s easy to teach my kids a set of rules. “You shouldn’t lie, steal or hurt people.” Before we have the time to get into all the details, that might be a good place to start. But over time as we live life together they start to understand the heart behind these rules.

“We’re throwing a surprise party for Mama so we need to lie about where we’re going tonight. That’s the loving thing to do right?”

“Right. Ok got it Apa.”

Jesus often scolded religious leaders for placing too much emphasis on the rules. Rabbis in his day would follow a certain “yoke”, which essentially represented a list of do’s and don’ts, many of which were impossible for a normal person to follow. It gave the “spiritually mature” folks a measuring stick to prove their own superiority over others. But in describing his own views on mechanism vs protocol, Jesus said this.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It’s about mercy not sacrifice. It’s about relationship, not the rules. It’s about mechanism, not protocol.

God, may I not look at the speck in my brother’s eye, and ignore to plank in my own. Help me to love others as you’ve loved me.

  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

On some recent panels I’ve been finding myself likening a relationship with God to a professional wrestling match.

“We’re all ringside watching this incredible battle ensue in our daily lives. There’s the good guy and the bad guy, and with each blow that’s dealt we inch closer to the edge of our seats. We get to watch as if the balance hangs in the air, but in reality each of our battles are scripted just like a WWE match. The reality is that God has already won the battle. We don’t need to fight, we just need to come into alignment with what he’s already done. The whole thing is scripted, just like professional wrestling.

As a kid, my favorite wrestler by far was Hulk Hogan. He got banged up in every encounter, and he even lost some matches here and there. But there was no doubt he would be back on top, because he was unquestionably the greatest. I just looked him up online to write this post, and found it interesting that he’s also a big believer in the big guy upstairs.

God allows setbacks because they’re a set up for the ultimate victory. If Hulk Hogan jumped into the ring without a fight, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of experiencing an incredible living drama. But life is just that… a scripted series where we know how it all ends. (Spoiler alert… the good guy wins!)

If you’re feeling down and out today, just remember… the battle is won. The war has been won. Because of what he’s already done. You might feel banged up, but victory is around the corner.

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