Anonymous Giving

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Jesus said, “When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do –blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you” (Mt 6:2-4 NLT).

In this generation where it is all about being “known,” it is so hard to see people give anonymously. But this week as I went to my office after my trip to Kazakhstan and I was pleasantly surprised to find a gift placed on my desk. I opened up the card and it just said, “We love you Pastor Seth!” I was thinking, “Hmmm… maybe some chocolate or a small book…” But I was floored when I realized that it was an Apple Video iPod! (I have to admit that I was secretly coveting it before this incident… Lord forgive me)

I quickly looked over the card and tried to analyze the handwriting to find out if it was a girl or a guy… an individual or a group that gave the gift… to see if it was a perfectionist or a relational person… I did all the CSI: Ann Arbor stuff you can imagine (I was going to do a fingerprint analysis but I had some self-control… ha!).

After racking my brain, I was left on my chair just praising God. I am wondering if this is how the “anonymous giving” works. Since we do not know who the secret giver is we end up praising the most generous Giver of all – who gave the best gift… His one and only Son.

I am so encouraged to know that there are some people in our generation who are going counter-cultural in the area of giving and sacrifice. Even though I don’t know who you are… I just want to encourage you and say, I was so blessed by your generosity… you inspired me!

Blinded by Hypocrisy and Inconsistency

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

The Webster’s dictionary defines the word, “hypocrisy” as “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not.” Also, it defines the word “inconsistency” as “not compatible with another fact or claim.”

I don’t have to say much about the hypocrisy and the inconsistency in the lives of Christians today. In fact, it has ruined our witness for Christ many times in the public arena. But recently there were some news that went under the radar. It was not the “right-wing” camp that was found guilty of hypocrisy and inconsistency but from the people on the “left-wing.”

On March 24th-25th, in San Francisco (the mother capital of liberalism and open-mindedness) Acquire the Fire Conference came in to do a youth worship event. Ron Luce, who is the president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries sponsors the event. In this two day rally more than 25,000 Christian youth gathered together.

The thing that caught my attention was that the conference was welcomed not only by protesters but an official city denunciation of the event – what the… wait a minute… I thought San Francisco was all about being tolerant and open-minded about things (after all, in that city we have everything from pro-abortion to pro-homosexuality to pro-everything). But herein lies the irony (or shall I say the hypocrisy and inconsistency)… if San Francisco is so tolerant and open-minded about things, then why in the world do we have city officials condemning a gathering?

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said “they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, they’re disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco.” Hmmm… that does not sound very tolerant. Peter Cobb, an organizer with a group called, Not In Our Name, said, “There is a real intolerancy to homosexuality in a lot of these organizations.” Well, that is somewhat true and we, as Christians have to work on this. But to use the “intolerance” argument in this situation will make their cry for tolerance insincere and hypocritical at best.

Even the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the gathering by saying that the event will “negatively influence the politics of America’s most tolerant and progressive city.” Wow… I don’t know if you got the full force of that argument and logic. If San Francisco is really “America’s most tolerant and progressive city” then having a bunch of Christian youth gathering together to worship should be welcomed and “accepted”… no?

Am I missing something here? Maybe they should have been more blunt and said, “We are tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything EXCEPT Christians and anything that has to do with this Jesus!” Then their logic would have been consistent with their behavior. Hmmm… I am guessing this is the trap that so many people fall into. Whenever we are so consumed with an agenda, we don’t even see the hypocrisy and inconsistency of our own values and stance.

Maybe this is why as Christians we need to be more self-deprecating and look at the hypocrisy and inconsistency in our lives. Lord work on us first!

If you want to read the actual article it is found here:
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/03/25/MNG6OHU6RR1.DTL

The Cinderella Final Four

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

I don’t know about you, but I love underdogs. The 2006 NCAA tournament’s final four is made up of some underdogs. For the first time since 1980 (this is just the 2nd time in the history of the NCAA Tournament), none of the four top-seeded teams advanced to the final four. Instead, we have UCLA, LSU, Florida and George Mason competing for the championship.

Every year since 2004, our family has participated in the NCAA tournament bracket (believe it or not, Josiah has won the last two tournaments with his predictions). It has been a great way for our family to bond during this March Madness season. This year has been filled with buzzer-beaters to incredible upsets and everything else in between. Our family is enjoying every game.

One important lesson so far has been the importance of determination and having “the heart.” I was teaching the boys how it is easy to get over-confident because you are a high-ranked team. The reason why underdog teams win games is because they have nothing to lose – people do not expect them to win and they are overlooked. But it is because of these reasons why the underdog teams play with a greater determination. There is no hype… it is all heart!

In some ways, the underdogs reflect the Gospel message. No one expected Jesus to resurrect from the dead. No one expected Jesus to save the world by dying on the cross. But at the end, Jesus was victorious and everyone that trusts in Him will share in the victory. Moreover, when sinful people like us are used by God to do great things then it will be like the 11th seed George Mason winning the whole tournament – it will surely shake people’s heads in bewilderment.

Kazakhstan Visit Update Pt 4

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

“Wow!” This is the only word that came out of my mouth as we had a tremendous feast – Kazakhstan style. We had food that we normally would not eat in the States. The Kazakh people served us everything from horse meat to a whole lamb (minus the head) that they roasted for 4-5 hours. It may possibly be an acquired taste!

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It was a special night because one of Pastor Kim’s disciples named Edgar was commissioning one of his own disciples to plant a church. It was awesome to see Pastor Kim’s spiritual grandson and the power of the 2 Timothy 2:2 passage being lived out. The honor and respect that was given to Pastor Kim as their spiritual father and grandfather was quite an eye opening experience. This process of discipleship is lacking in many of the churches today.

I could not help but to notice so many leadership principles come alive in our 3.5 hours together. There are times when you just get amazed as you are in the presence of great leaders. Pastor Kim and his disciple, Edgar demonstrated key leadership principles that night that I was left awestruck – no wonder God is using them to bring transformation, not only in Kazakhstan but through all of Central Asia.

It is my prayer that we will see a greater passion for making disciples in our church. One of the greatest joys we can experience is being able to see your spiritual grandsons and granddaughters through the person that you have discipled.

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Note: Please excuse the 2 Asian-American pastors playing with their phones… they look like internet junkies.

Kazakhstan Update Pt 3

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Whenever I travel to different parts of the world, I am just amazed to see how the same God that we experience in the States is the same God that is working in that particular country. The AMI team went to the Sunday Celebration for the mother church here in Almaty. Pastor Keith preached in the morning and Pastor Victor preached to the younger crowd in the evening. There was a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in both services.

It is humbling to see a 4,800 seat auditorium filled with many people who come to experience God’s Presence through worship and to be fed by hearing God’s word in a place like Kazakhstan. The level of fervor and the spirit of sacrifice are evident in this place.

This Sunday was a special Sunday because Pastor Kim and his wife were awarded an honorary doctorate from Vision International University. We found out that he could have received the degree in the States a couple of month ago, but he wanted to receive it in front of the church with his church family. In their speech, they mentioned how it was not their doctoral degrees but it was the whole church that was receiving the degree because of all the sacrifice and love that the members poured out to Pastor Kim and his family. Wow, what a humble man!

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So now being conferred as the – Apostle Dr. Rev. Sam Seung Kim you would imagine a person to act differently but he was the same humble person as the day we met him. The words of Jesus come to mind – “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:12). This is the reason why God is using this man and his family in a tremendous way here in Kazakhstan and around the world.

Kazakhstan Visit Update Pt 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Yesterday a handful of us went to a church that was planted by the mother church here in Almaty. I was asked to preach at their service. I was stressing out trying to figure out what the people needed to hear. As we were driving to the church, it dawn upon me that the was going to be in the rural area (you know me… I am a city boy). I was re-thinking about the message that I was prepared to preach. I felt maybe I needed to preach another message.

When we FINALLY got there, they told us that they did not want me to preach. My first thought was – what is this?! We drove all this way to just “observe?!” But by the end of our time there, the Lord spoke something to me. After hearing the pastor’s testimony (it was powerful btw)… and just observing what the Lord was doing even in a rural place like this, I realized (once again) that God does not NEED ME. The thing that topped it off was that the pastor ended up praying for us. He first shared how the seeds of the Gospel was planted in their hearts through various missionaries in the early 90’s and how they were forever grateful. The passage in Jn 12:24 came to fruition.

As we were driving back, it hit me again – I came with an attitude to bless the people with my preaching but it was the people of God in Kazakhstan that ended up blessing us. Oh the ironies of life…

Kazakhstan Visit Update

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am just getting over the jetlag. The plane ride from DTW to Amsterdam and then to Kazakhstan was harder than expected. I am guessing I am getting a little bit older. But it has been a privilege teaching in the mornings. It is exciting to see so many future church planters out here for the conference. Many of these students are part of a movement called “Back to Jerusalem” project. They are wanting to plant churches along the Silk Route (this cuts across the heart of Central Asia) to bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem.

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What do I share with a group of people who have given up everything to follow Christ? So of them are in countries where the persecution is very severe. But it is in these countries where God’s power is being manifested in an awesome way. Many of them know that they might die for their faith. It has been a humbling experience thus far.

Lord help me to live my life with this kind of absolute surrender.

“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.” (Act 20:24)

Praise Night 2006

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

What a night! It was our first time in the Power Center (center of the performing arts). It almost seemed so surreal. Three months ago, I saw the Nutcracker in the same place. In that December night people were applauding the ballet performers, but last night God received all the praise. All the presentations by the various small groups pointed us to Christ, who is the only One worthy of all the praise, glory and honor.

The highlight for me was looking out into the crowd as we closed out the night worshipping our Savior together. We were the performers (lifting up our praise and worship) and God was the audience (the audience of one)… I think He smiling down on us in pure delight! If you want to check out some pictures go to:

http://www.hmcc.net/media/index.php?transform=photos/praise_night_06

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” (Ps 150:6).

Lent Through the Eyes of a Child

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

We are about a week into this Lenten season. Christina and I are trying to do our best to keep up with our fast, but I have to admit that this year has been hard. One thing that is different this year is that Josiah and Elliot decided to observe Lent with us. On one hand, I am a happy father knowing that my kids at a young age want to participate in Lent (I think they see it as something that is cool to do b/c the whole church is doing it). But then on the other hand, I am like, “What the… aren’t they a little too young to do this kind of stuff… for heaven’s sake, they are just kids!” Honestly speaking, I did not want them to participate.

But God used something that happened yesterday with my boys to teach me the importance of obedience and self-control. I am constantly amazed at how God uses little children to teach big lessons.

My family and I decided to go out to eat and spend some time together. As we were ordering our beverages, Christina ordered 3 lemonades for the kids. When the lemonades came, Josiah said, “Mommy, I can’t drink lemonade.” My thought was “what kid does not like lemonade?” So I asked, “Why can’t you drink it?” Josiah said, “I am lenting from juice.” My response – “What?! Well, lemonade is not really juice, is it Christina?” We both looked at each other and tried really hard to rationalize why lemonade was not really a juice but rather just a drink that had a fruit and some sugar. Truthfully, I was thinking – “hey kid stop being so legalistic.” Then I lifted up a quick prayer under my breath – “Lord please don’t let my son be a Pharisee… out of all things… please, Lord!!” But we ended up getting him some water (it was his choice).

Then after dinner we ran some errands. Elliot and I separated from the rest of the family. I guess the place where Christina, Josiah and Karissa went to gave out some lollipops. When we reunited, Josiah decided to share his lollipop. Josiah kept on telling Elliot to eat the lollipop but for some odd reason Elliot kept on resisting. Once again, I was like “what kid in the world will refuse a lollipop?!” Then Elliot screamed from the top of his voice, “Stop it JoJo, remember… I am fasting from candy!” Part of me was so proud that we might have an evangelist in our home who is not afraid to declare his piety in public, but then another part of me wanted to hide behind the counter and tell the other customers that they were not my children.

As we were driving back home, I was just struck by the obedience and self-control of my boys. I was humbled. I wish I had the same purity of heart. Oh, how I vacillate from day to day in my obedience to Christ and there is so much more growth I need to experience in the area of self-control.

Maybe it is not supposed to be so complicated… Lord help me to keep it simple and make it all about you. More of you and less of me!

A Peculiar People (1 Pe 2:9)

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Visits

Last week (Thursday through Saturday), I had the opportunity to speak at the AMI Young Adult Conference held in the East Coast. All the East Coast churches did a great job of preparing for the conference (RWC, GCC, TRPC and ACC). It was a great time of connecting with some of the young adults and married couples in AMI. I was blessed to see some of the HMCC alums out there.

I realized that it has been awhile since I just ministered to the young adults. It is easy to build up misconceptions about a group of people that you don’t normally minister to on a daily basis. Here are some misconceptions that many people have about the young adults:

Misconception #1: People lose their passion for Christ after they graduate from college.

Truth: There are YA in AMI that are just as passionate, if not more passionate about the things of Christ than they were in college.

Misconception #2: The YA are self-centered and they just live for themselves.

Truth: There are YA in AMI that are wanting to live for the purposes of God even if that means they have to surrender things for Christ.

Misconception #3: The YA just care about their careers and moving up the corporate ladder

Truth: There are YA in AMI that are using their education and positions in the marketplace to make a difference for God’s Kingdom.

Misconception #4: The YA are consumed about getting married.

Truth: The YA are consumed about getting married.

I was just encouraged to see that there are people who are trying to go against the flow of society. They are the peculiar (radical) people that we need in our generation. I am so thankful for the AMI churches and the relationships that we have with one another.

The verse 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (KJV).

A Dream Is Conceived

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories, Vision, Visits

It was a crazy trip out to Chicago. The family and I drove out to Chicago Tuesday morning. We celebrated Jake’s b-day (the kids’ uncle) in the afternoon. Then on Wednesday evening we met up with people who wanted to know more about the future church plant on the Northwestern University campus.

I was telling the group that if it wasn’t for Jesus and the church plant then the likelihood of all of us gathering together like this was very slim… haha! But it was a great mix of people from different backgrounds and personalities.

I shared about what God was doing in HMCC and how He has led us to this point of starting another HMCC church in Chicago. I fielded some questions and then we ended up spending some time in prayer.

As we were driving back late into the night with all the icy rain, I couldn’t help but to be thankful. I just remember how I used to drive the other way around when we were in the process of planting the church in Ann Arbor. Christina and I were sharing about how we had a good feeling about what God was going to do in Northwestern. It truly is a God thing.

We got back home at 3:30AM… everyone was so tired. But the momentum is building and the revolution is starting!

Praying together for the vision…

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