Dr. Samuel A. Lee: The bible of my father
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Dr. Samuel A. Lee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I’m very happy to be in the Land of Goethe, Beethoven, and Luther. I’m coming from the land of McDonalds. We have nothing to be proud of. Yesterday I attended a wedding. Every time I attend a wedding I’m full of energy. It was not my wedding. But I like weddings because I always feel young. Today I would like to talk about one thing based on Isaiah 40. It’s about the word of God. Msn. Peter Chang asked me to say something. Actually, I have nothing to say. But I want to look on Isaiah 40. And the key verse is verse 8. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
I’m from the University of Illinois. And we’re famous for our engineering school. As a result we have a lot of engineering students. We are not that artistic like Bonn UBF. So I’d like to go to the next slide. I’m going to talk about the whole Bible based on this graph.
When God made us he made us in the image of God. So x is time and y is happiness. Since we have the image of God this happiness curve as time goes we get to know God more and there is no ending. But if you look at the world right now it’s not true. So we are wondering why. The Bible says in Genesis chapter 3 we sinned against God. We said that we don’t need God. And we can be God. And God said, “Don’t eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.” But we ate it. So after that what happened? God said, “If you eat it, you’ll die.” And that’s the curve we have right now. It goes up and down. So that’s called the grass curve. And Isaiah 40:7 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it;” So God’s breath blows on them and the curve goes down. Think about anything you have in this world. Suppose you met a really pretty lady. After about 40 years her beauty goes down. It doesn’t really matter how beautiful she is. Suppose you met somebody and you’ll reach some plateau and then your relationship will go down. The tragic of life is we want to have ever increasing happiness and love but it just goes down no matter how much we try and then we die. So we try to maximize the area under the curve. Then how we can solve this problem? Many people try to solve this problem in many different ways. They want to marry well and have children, and education may be one answer. But God had a different idea. What happened is that God knew our situation and he sent Jesus to us. We celebrate Christmas. Jesus came as a man and then Jesus also had a similar curve like us. Basically it went up and down and then he died on the cross. But that was not the end. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus sits on the right hand of God. And he’ll come back. And he will restore us in the image of God and our relationship with God won’t be in the flower curve anymore. So that’s why he gave us the word of God. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” So we have this clear hope of ever increasing our knowledge of God and we can grow continually without ending. So we are not surprised when we do well. And we are not surprised when we do poorly. And we are not surprised even when we die because we have the bouncing back point at the cross. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Ok, this is the U of I presentation. Now I’ll talk about my father’s presentation how he overcame his life.
When he was born his mother died. He had a very rough childhood and he talks about his hungry life all the time and how he had many plans but he really found out that God’s word endures forever. He was a busy man because he was the pastor of Chicago UBF, General Director, and he had many troubling children. He was a father and a husband. But he had a clear priority. That’s to love the word of God and he taught his children to delight in the word of God. I like to show you his Bible. He had one Bible a year. Actually he liked his Bible and what he did was he made a cover. So the Bible costs about 10 Euros. But the cover was 10 times as expensive. And he asked Msn. Jackie to make one cover.
And then this is the first page of his Bible. And he wrote his name on it. And I can see he loved his coffee because of the coffee stances. The Bible and coffee go together well.
He liked to read the Bible from cover to cover. So whenever he read he marked it. I think he read preface. He read the Bible so many times but still he read the preface and he marked it with a red pen. I wonder why he marked it with a red pen but I’m going to talk about that later. The color of the Bible.
His favorite psalm was psalm 1. The Bible says that the blessed, the real happy man is the man who meditates on the word of God day and night. He talked about psalm 1 a lot.
And his favorite gospel was John’s gospel. So he talked about John chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 21 every year. I wondered, if you like something and you repeat it again and again, then it becomes boring after a while. At the age of 15 I reached my maximum and I couldn’t listen to it again. But he talked about it again and again. He continually went on. He didn’t have the flower curve.
Ephesians 2:10 was his key verse. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So this verse teaches us that we are not bound to our situation, or nationality or anything else but we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
He was very proud of his hard life. One day he told me that I cannot be a pastor. And I said, “Why? I’m handsome, well educated, love my wife, love my children.” But he said, “You lack one thing. You don’t have humanity. Because you don’t really have suffered much in your life.” So he was accepting his sufferings as God’s training as a preparation to do good works. He was a man born in Jesus’ blood. So that’s why I think when I look at his Bible, he put the red to see the Bible as the blood of Jesus. He wanted to see Christ’s blood and his sacrifice for him. His Bible was very red.
And this next slide just shows that he read the Bible to the end.
I’m a pastor and I do many things. I’m highly competitive. But so far I’ve not beaten his Bible reading. It’s not easy to read the Bible cover to cover many times a year. And he always said, “Go back to the Bible.” And then he practiced what he preached, That’s why I think he had authority to preach the gospel, the word of God. And people really liked to grow in Jesus.
And at the end of his Bible he attached some hymns. This song is “Ivory palaces”. I think he knew his clear destination was the kingdom of God. And these are the hymns that he liked. He wrote twelve hymns, and he wrote down the numbers and used them on Sundays. Many times he sang the Lord’s Prayer.
He prayed for Moscow. He wanted to serve world mission. And I think this was my father’s honeymoon.
That’s my dad. He liked to wear an army uniform because he was a soldier of Christ.
Personally he gave me a new perspective how to read the Bible. I studied chemistry. I was not such a good student. Several years I went to the lab but I didn’t get any data. I was seriously thinking about going to work for McDonalds. And then one day he sent me a book. It was the Romans’ manuscripts. In the preface he talked about “The chemistry of the Bible”. He had three children. One studied elementary education, one studied dancing, and I studied chemistry. So he was talking to me. In a way he was dedicating the book to me.
And in the middle he said after 12 years of studying the Bible he could grasp the chemistry of the Bible. If you want to study anything it takes about 12 years. He said, “I studied the Bible more than you studied chemistry.” This really gave me encouragement because I liked the fact that someone dedicated a book for me. Has anybody dedicated a book to you? Yes or no? Yes because God dedicated his books, not just one book, but 66 books to us. This perspective really changed me because when you read the Bible it’s one repetition after another. Sometimes it gets boring. But if you know the Bible is about Jesus and the Bible is God’s dedication to you then it changes our perspective. I began to read the Bible from that time on. But still I don’t get the chemistry of the Bible. My father always talked about two things. “You give them something to eat!” This was really challenging for hungry Korean students. They took this verse and went out and became missionaries and went to many different countries. That’s the verse Dr. Peter Chang took. Dr. Peter Kim also. And he also talked about “A kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This was his verse when he came to America. America has a very individualistic society. For example we don’t have an universal health care system. If you are sick and you don’t have money then that’s your problem. But the kingdom of priests means that you pray for others. We pray to raise disciples so that they can be priests and a holy nation. So this challenged American students to pray for others and to get out of their selfish mentality. That helped me not only look at myself and helped me to care for others and to pray for our students to grow in Jesus.
This is my Bible.
It’s not like my father’s Bible. When I read the Bible I’m not aggressive. But I have delight in the word of God. What shall we give? I’m thinking about what to give my children. I have three sons. And as a father I want to give them the best. I want to give them something that lasts. And that’s the joy to read the Bible. I want them to get the chemistry of the Bible. My oldest son wants to study medicine. So I want him to get the medicine of the Bible. I want them to help people to get well and raise disciples of Jesus. I want to give the word of God to my Bible students so that they can be blessed men. This blessedness has no ending. The Bible says that God’s word endures forever. You can never reach the end. It’s not like grass. It’s not like a flower. The word of God endures forever. So I want to challenge you and me that the word of God endures forever. I like you to have delight in the word of God. It’s not going to happen overnight. It will take about 12 years if you are diligent. It took me about 20 years. Let’s end with the word of God. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”