The last good day

Mrs. Gin, Kandice, and me

“There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”
― John Green

As of today at 5:55PM, Kathy Gin breathed her last breath here on earth, and is now with the Lord. She passed away at 56 years young of age and is survived by her husband David, her oldest son Christian, her middle daughter Kandice, and her youngest son Zachary. The doctor came in at 6:05PM to confirm that her body gave no pulse.

The picture above was the last picture I had with Kathy (or as I normally called her “Mrs. Gin”) and Kandice. It was the last good day I had with them and I did not even know it. That was almost a week ago. One week. And it was enough time for the cancer to metastasize to the point of being untreatable and debilitating her body to the point of robbing her of voice and breath in this life during her last two days here. Her voice, once filled with such ebullience and happiness, was silent.

But she did not pass away unnoticed. Mrs. Gin was a loving woman of God. She truly loved people with passion and joy. And it showed in her smile and speech; Mrs. Gin was one of the most chattiest women I have ever met. In fact, if you paired her with Kandice together, you would have a dynamic duo that is so chatty to the point where I can only sit down and wonder “so this is what it’s like to be an introvert~”

I’ve only known her for about 4 months and it was enough for her to make an impact on my life. When I started seeing her daughter, Mrs. Gin took the initiative in reaching out to me and showing me her care for my well-being, even in the little things. I have her to thank for making my first date with Kandice a success story in surprises (and that is a story for another time.)

So when Kandice and I rushed into the hospital yesterday after speeding through the freeway from Los Angeles to San Jose to pick Kandice up and drive to the hospital, Mrs. Gin was already bedridden and surrounded by droves of extended family and friends. Nurses and doctors wondered why that one room in the 5th floor kept getting visitors and overflowing with crowds of people.

Her preschool students sent her a binder filled with coloring papers that they filled out, family members came to drop by gifts and visit her, even to touch her and speak to her. Friends were there to hold her and talk to her. She was unable to speak, for her formerly loquacious vocal chords had become raspy; her esophagus parched, dried up of all moisture. Yet she was able to hear us and feel us tenderly pat her, letting her know. In the last days, when I spoke with Mrs. Gin, she locked eyes and twitched her eyebrows at me. I knew that I had her attention, despite the pain of cancer coursing in its relentless advances.

Kathy Gin loved much and she was greatly loved by much. She was not just Kandice’s mother, but she was everyone’s mother. I found myself shedding tears and choking up as I was reading Scripture passages to Kathy.

Treasure in Jars of Clay

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV)

And I saw a real manifestation of the suffering yet renewing spirit of that passage in Kathy Gin. I told her my thankfulness for her loving and caring for me, despite only having known me for a couple months. It was truly heart-wrenching to know that this was goodbye for now, that the questions I wanted to ask her will not be answered in this side of life, that the conversations I wished we had will not be happening here on Earth. But I recall a fellow brother reminding me that “The death of a Christian means we have completed all the good works God has prepared for us and its time to go home, we are in no way leaving something unfinished… our home going marks the completion of what God has prepared for us rather than missed future opportunity.”

Kandice has said that her mom lived a full life at 56 years young. And had so much more life to live. One of Kathy’s last words were “no more pain, I’m going to meet Jesus”

So during tonight at 5:55pm, as I held Mrs. Gin’s hand, Kandice looked into her mother’s drowsy eyes and told the words “I love you.” I felt her hand grip mine as Kandice saw her mouth stop breathing.

Kathy Gin impacted so many people in her life, and now she’s no longer in pain. Kandice said that she’s not sad that her mommy has gone to meet Jesus, but only wishes she had a little more time. And I feel the same too, knowing that those 4 months were absolutely sweet and a joy with her. I never knew that knowing someone for only that long would be enough to break me into tears.

I miss her so much for someone I’ve only known for a little bit. And I look forward to the kingdom of heaven, when I pass on to be with the Lord or when He comes back, that perhaps I would get the chance to have some good fruitful conversations with Kathy Gin, just like those last good days we had.

The final words she told Kandice to write were “Every day is a blessing, I’m thankful for each day. And I love everyone and I always will.”

The house of the Lord

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. -Psalm 27:4 Photography by John Carey

What is your wish? If you had the chance to have one thing come true, what would you wish for?

The Psalmist here asserts that being with God is the best wish that one can long for.

So, what is your greatest desire? Do you live your life, knowing that the best thing is to dwell in the presence of the Lord? +MK

Blind Spot

blind-spot
Photography: Bea Loves photography

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
(Luke 6:41 ESV)

We need each other to see where our blind spot eclipses. Without one another, self-righteousness can flourish and sin will be unchecked.

Christ designed the church so that members are integrated with each other in such a way that we *need* each other to see where we are flawed and how we can grow to be more like the head.

Notice that *everyone* has blind spots. The one who points out yours will most likely have a set of their own. Perhaps the tone of condescension could have been removed. Perhaps the person should have lowered his volume, spoken gently. Maybe the person has a bigger plank than your own!

But nevertheless, the other person’s sins does not justify you to keep yours.

If we lift our head up in pride, rebuff correction, and flee from all criticisms, it’ll be too easy to live with blind spots and never knowing how we can change.

Perhaps we’ll even be haunted with the knowledge of “knowing” we need to change and grow, but we’ll never allow anyone to point out “how”.

Thus, by living blindly, we’ll deceive ourselves with the sense of false righteousness to the end of our days.

By then, when the Judge finally reveals all that we refused to see, it will be too late to take back the scars we inflicted.

Therefore,… All have their logs to remove.

So,..

  • How have you contemplated on the last moment of correction you’ve received?
  • What can a loving person do when that person sees clearly your blind spot? Have you stopped and considered that perhaps the person who rebuked you is doing the one act of love you sorely need?
  • Have you deeply considered how you can remove the log from your eye? Are you committed to applying what you’ve learned?
  • Or is your commitment to Christ too shallow to swallow your pride and gratefully receive correction?

Commit to Christ, seek godly rebuke from brothers & sisters, grow and change by His grace so you can remove the blind spot from your sins.
+MK

Uninspired Part 3


Photography: digital vincent

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [Phil 2:3]

Have I really taken the time to consider my actions and my thoughts, and brought them in humble submission to serving others? Am I really vested in the other person’s interest above my own? Do I really consider others more *significant* than me?

It’s not necessarily about “bashing self-esteem” (as we innately have more than enough of it), but are we really esteeming others in the way God has called us to do so?

Think about it

Was God being honored by my snide, slick remarks to others? Was the King of Kings really magnified by my uninspired, mess of self-centered thoughtless heart?
In the last sentences that I have spoken thoughtlessly, who have I been esteeming?
Or have I been saying my words to build up my sinking sandcastle of selfishness.

As for myself, I do recognize the genuine struggle against selfishness. However, it is far more sweeter to the Lord when I cast down my self-centeredness and choose to count others more significant than myself.

It’s not natural and it is so painful.
But,
This is what the aroma of self-sacrifice feels like.

And that aroma is pleasing to the Lord.

Jesus has every reason to not esteem us and redeem us, but he chose to do so anyway, at the cost of His life.

If I have any encouragement, any sense of joy, of hope in Christ, then should I not strive to have my words be of redeeming value and reflective of the Redeemer?
+MK

the privilege of foolishness

Over the past few weeks, God gave me the privilege of witnessing the folly of talking unnecessarily, brashly, and foolishly.

It was so easy for me to judge the buffoonery of the offending party. My heart discovered that it was too easy to supplant myself as the superior judge of their lunacy.

However, their foolishness quickly became a white-hot sharp reminder of myself: the ramifications of my foolishness echo in my mind.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  [James 1:26]

Because I am the biggest fool I know,

it is so much better for others and for myself, to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

+Michael K

The Anticipation: We Will Not Be Popular

The message of the gospel is antithetical to the fallen philosophies of men, meaning that faithful Christians have seldom been popular.

Christians, we are not going to be popular. No matter how we cut it, people naturally do not like Jesus Christ. It is almost as if there is something repulsive about the name among people. Jesus Himself warns His followers, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. … If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18, 20).

Richard Wurmbrand once wrote that every Christian must become familiar with “sufferology”, the study of suffering, for that is one of the strongest apologetic that a Christian has.

Even under fire, the perseverance of a pure testimony in Christ verifies the good work that God has begun. And it is a sign of doom to those who are fallen.

There is this general hatred against Jesus Christ. And we ought to be prepared for that.

+Michael K

broken, yet faithful

One radio station host was talking about fathers and what happens to parents in general after they lose their child:

“You can tell if someone’s lost their child. You can pick them out of a crowd of faces. They’ve lost the spark. The way they move is not the same from before. Even the way they dance is different. They simply are not the same any more.

My dad lost his first child. But even with a broken heart, my dad’s life is filled with examples of self-sacrifice. One of the things my dad would do is to walk blocks away from his workplace, just to be able to save a dollar every day, so that he would have some cash to give to me and my siblings. I see so much character in my dad, sacrificing personal freedom and liberties for the sake of his family. And even with his heart-wrenching loss, my dad kept going and pursued giving up for the sake of others.

I’m challenged on whether I actually reflect this heart of sacrifice in all areas of my life?

“…Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:12b)

My father’s self-sacrificing example reminds me a lot about Paul and his ministry. The Apostle Paul was a man who gave his entire life over to the ministry of the Gospel. He especially had the opportunities and the right to many things as an apostle would have, such as marriage (contrary to the celibacy of the Catholic priesthood), receiving funds (via support from church), and so forth.

But Paul intentionally denies himself.
Paul would rather endure denial of these rights, so that he would not get in the way of the ministry that God has placed him in. Self-denial and self-sacrifice are hallmarks of what a Christian must model (ref Luke 9:23)

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of enduring self-sacrifice (ref Phil 2:6-8). He gave up his entire right as the Son of God to die and redeem humanity.

These men lived and endured suffering. Broken, yet faithful.

I wonder if I am living a sacrificial life. Though God granted me knowledge and learning of His Word, my father lives out a self-sacrificing life in such a shining way that I feel ashamed. My dad’s example reminds me of the Gospel and living a life that centers on the cross.

Do I truly “count it all loss” comparing to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus? Despite the price I have to pay, am I living in a way so that the Gospel is furthered into the world? Am I denying myself for the sake of His name?

+Michael K

just an ordinary day

“It’s just an ordinary day”
-my dad

I really appreciate my father. My dad responded with the quote above when I mentioned that today is Father’s Day. I see that he doesn’t do his “fatherhood job” for any fanfare or acclaim. My dad’s pragmatic, “to-the-point” perspective has really enlightened me in many points about life. And despite our great differences with theology and faith, one thing that I appreciate about him is his humble, self-sacrificial heart.

I realize that I am truly blessed to even have a father in my life. After being in contact with many who does not have good relations or any relations with their father, I realize that despite the flaws I see in my dad, God is gracious for even providing me a father who excels in what I lack in. I can’t help but be thankful to God for every memory and every moment I have with my family, especially with my dad. Even though the phone talks might be long (with the dad:me ratio equaling close to 15:1 ;), and quirks & personalities clash, I truly appreciate my dad and his place in my life.

+Michael K

good day

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

Today is Good Friday.

This day celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ remained focused. He stayed the course as He followed through His mission to glorify the Father by the work on the cross, despite its agony.

This year, I’m (re)learning that pain ought to remind us that this world is not our home.

John Piper expounds on this notion excellently:

… everyone will encounter fires of trouble and pain in life, and this experience can make you salty. It salts you. In other words, close calls with eternity, where you can smell the flames of hell and the scents of paradise can fill you with an amazing dissatisfaction with this world and a profound satisfaction in Christ as your eternal reward.

Jesus Christ is the author and founder of our faith! He is the model and leader whom we follow. He lays down the perfect example of glorifying God through trials.

Despite the pain and the agony, can we endure and stay true to our mission?
Remember our Lord Jesus.
Remember Him who went through the ultimate trial to save many.
Remember Christ who did this for the joy set before Him.
Remember Jesus Christ, who gave all to glorify the Father.

Our trials are perfect opportunities to mirror our Lord and be satisfied in Him.


+Michael K

taste and never thirst

“When Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life;… whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35), he is saying that ‘believing’ in him includes a taste for the living water of his all-satisfying glory, so that the believing heart will never thirst again. That is, faith, having tasted the all-satisfying sweetness of the living Christ, will never forsake him in preference for the broken cisterns of the world. There may be temporary strayings and backslidings. There may be great soul-conflict. But once the soul has truly tasted the water of life and the bread of heaven, it will never finally forsake the Lord.”

-John Piper (from “When I Don’t Desire God”)

Sometimes, it gets easy to be caught up in ministry. One thing comes up after another and before you know it, we start feeling burned out and the logistical side of ministry wears us down.

But that’s not what it’s about. Our fuel to live excellently comes from truly tasting and delighting in God! Psalm 37:4 is truly the key verse here.

We must truly desire and delight in God. We must have more joy in Him than in us! Our joy of joys must be rooted in God!

Without tasting and seeing and delighting in the joy of the Lord,
evangelism, ministry, and everything about the Christian walk
becomes self-centered, cold-hearted, and dead.

After all, there is perfect delight in God and the Gospel is the message about how God paved a way for us to delight in Him through Jesus Christ.

Therefore,
taste and never thirst.

+Michael K