2006 Senior Class

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

I walked into the long anticipated meeting with the senior class a little late due to another meeting I had at another place. I really did not know what to expect. Usually my meetings with people are more one-on-one… and they are usually in a counseling context. The senior class called this meeting because they wanted to get to know me… I was like, “hmm… better late than never, huh?” Haha!

To my surprise there were 20+ people in the room. We had a great time. In fact, I learned a lot of different things as we went around and told something that was unique to us… it was awesome to see how God created all of us so differently. I learned everything from speed limits in Montana to why someone can’t eat thin slice pizzas. I shared some crazy moments from my life. Within the 1.5 hours we spent together, I really sensed that we were connecting and I realized that this is a special class.

I am praying that God will use them to reach the nations. Some of them will be going overseas and to other places for jobs, while others (majority) will be sticking around in Ann Arbor. The future looks bright because we have people who want to live for God and His purposes.

What started off as an awkward gathering of 24 people turned out to be a blessing.
Thanks U-Soul!

p.s. I am at peace since I understand what U-Soul stands for now.

usoul and pseth.jpg

Criticism

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes ministry and criticism go hand in hand. There have been many times when someone in our leadership team has said, “Pastor, did you hear about what this person said about our church?” or “Pastor, do you know what someone said about you?” If I played to every single one of those criticisms, I would have failed in my mission and my calling to the Lord.

Please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me… I think we have to be humble enough to listen to constructive criticism. In some sense that is how we grow as a Christian and as a person. There are factors on both sides of an issue that the other person does not understand. This is why it is important to have open lines of communication, and to discuss potential problems with a desire to understand rather than criticizing without finding out the other side of the story. God will be glorified in us when our church learns to sharpen one another with a humble and gracious heart. But I am referring to the criticism that spews out of a person’s mouth that neither edifies nor glorifies God.

When we do ministry, we will ALWAYS be criticized about something. Bottom line is that we cannot please everyone. In Scripture, we notice poignant examples of God’s servants who were criticized. Moses was criticized by the very people that he led out of slavery in Egypt. The prophets of God were criticized by people who did not want to hear the message of God. The Apostle Paul was criticized by people who questioned his motive. Even Jesus, who was without sin, was criticized by people.

People will always question your motive, your method, your message and even your mannerism. This is part of the ball game of being a servant of God. The more I interact with critical people, the more I realize that their criticisms stem from other things. I can think of 3 things in particular: 1) Issues in their life – there are unsolved things, grudges or hurts that have been unaddressed 2) Insecurities in their life – due to pride it causes people to prove that they are right and others are wrong 3) Inadequacies in their life –to feel better about themselves they put other people down in order to exalt themselves. The reason why I can be pretty confident of these reasons is because these are the things that I see in my life when I am critical.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines, “criticize” as, “to find fault with: point out the faults of.” I think Jesus addressed this issue in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1-5. It is important to note that Jesus was not against judging altogether because we need to judge things by the Truth (i.e. false doctrine). But Jesus was specifically referring to making proper judgment. When we judge without mercy and love or even judging when we are blind to our own faults, we notice that Jesus calls them “hypocrites.”

If critical “Christians” can turn their passionate criticism towards a passion for Christ, we will see the world transformed. But then those people would respond by saying, “But because we are passionate about Christ, we have to speak up and criticize.” To that remark I will respond by simply giving a logical conclusion:

1) Christ loves the Church – Eph 5:25-32
2) Christ said that he will build up the Church – Mt 16:18
3) If someone criticizes the Church, they are criticizing something that Christ loves and something that He is building up for His glory
4) Therefore, those who criticize the Church are criticizing Christ

One day, every single one of us will have to stand before Christ and give an account for our life and all our actions. I think it is at that point where all the records will be set straight.

A lesson I learned from a wise person awhile back – “Unless you have walked in that person’s shoes, you have no right to say anything.” I think that goes both ways.

Eph 4:29-32

Getting a Second Opinion

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

My dad just recently went through eye surgery for his cataract. If truth be told, he should have dealt with this eye problem 10 years ago. But for various reasons, he decided to hold off until it got too unbearable.

When he went into the ophthalmologist to remove the cataract, the doctor mentioned that since the cataract worsened over the years that the surgery would be difficult. He also said that the success of the surgery was not totally favorable due to the damage to his eyes. But my dad had nothing to lose because there was a possibility of going blind either way [sermon illustration #1 given below].

After a successful surgery, dad went through some complications during the healing process. The place where they made the incision was not healing well. In fact, the stitching caused a linkage in his eye. He went to the doctor several times for re-stitching. At the most recent appointment, the doctor told my dad to give it some time and it will probably heal by itself. My sister, who lives in Chicago, was getting concerned. She decided to set up a different appointment with a reputable doctor who specializes in eye surgery in order to get a second opinion. My dad refused and decided to stick with the first doctor for various reasons [sermon illustration #2 given below].

Finally, after some heated “discussions”, Diane and I convinced my dad to go to see the specialist. To make a long story short, this new doctor could not believe some of the procedures that were performed (and procedures that were not performed). Therefore, he is headed back to the hospital to finally fix his eyes properly. I am wondering if some of the headache could have been avoided if we got a second opinion early on in the ball game.

Sermon Illustration #1: When there is a problem, or shall I say symptoms of things going bad, it is probably a good idea to get things “fixed” ASAP. I don’t know how many times people have just ignored the warning signs and the situation got worse. In fact, God gives us warning signs everyday. The real issue comes down to humility – are we willing to humble ourselves and get the problem fixed – not by our own methods but by God’s standards?

Sermon Illustration #2: It is amazing how so many people make life’s decisions based on just one perspective. I have realized over the years how important a second opinion is to our lives. Too often, we get myopic with things. It can be due to our selfishness, our narrow-mindedness or even our lack of experience. But whatever the reason, we would be wiser if we would get another person’s perspective on things. I don’t know how many people make life changing decisions on the fly or even by their emotions. These are the same people that testify to the truth of what the writer in Proverbs 26:11 wrote – “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

Northwestern Meeting

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Christina and I drove out to Northwestern University yesterday. It was a fun drive because we ended up reminiscing about our courting days. I couldn’t believe the number of times we went to the “rocks” to look at Lake Michigan… the number of drives down Lake Shore Drive and Sheridan Road. Then the million dollar comment by Christina – “You were SO romantic then…” Yes, that infamous pause. It is the pause that leaves all of us in suspense. I will finish off Christina’s sentence – “You were SO romantic then (pause), but now you are even more romantic than ever!” J/k. It is amazing how places stir up our emotions and bring back great memories.

We finally arrived to the dorm where we were going to meet the people who were interested in the church plant. There were some old HMCC people and we were blessed to see four Northwestern University students. They were all freshmen, bright-eyed and excited. They reminded me a lot of the freshmen that we started the church with in Ann Arbor.

I shared the vision about the new church plant with everyone again. After the meeting, we ended up just talking together. I am excited about what God is going to do here in NU, as well as in the greater Chicagoland area.

This is truly a God-thing. Everything that we do has to come from the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. We are completely dependent on Him. Some doors are slowly opening. Please join us in prayer.

Easter 2006

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

It was a full house! We packed out Mendelssohn Theater. This year’s Easter Celebration was filled with exuberance and creativity. Our first church choir did a great job. The dance team’s presentation of the resurrection reminded me of my dance party days… I don’t know if my body can move like that anymore… haha!

2006 Easter Choir2.JPG       2006 Easter Dance2.JPG

Why is it that every Easter we put so much prayer, energy and time for just one service? I am wondering what would happen if every Sunday was like Easter? But isn’t every Sunday service a celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ? We cannot settle for “business as usual.”

It is my prayer that we will see more of what we saw this past Sunday, in all of our future Sunday celebrations… excitement, expectancy, excellence and exaltation of the King of Kings.

Good Friday 2006

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

We decided to try something different this year for our Good Friday service. For the response time after the message, we asked people to pick up a candle and head out to the Diag (the center of campus). We put a big cross in the Diag for public display and we just ended up worshipping the Lord through our praises throughout the night.

What turned out to be a risk, ended up glorifying God in a huge way.
The forecast of rain never came.
The fear of public hostility didn’t matter because God was going to protect us.
The guitar string breaking didn’t stop the people from singing.

You just had to be there.

Hosanna 2006

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

For the last four years, many of the churches in the Washtenaw County gathered together to worship the Lord on Palm Sunday. This year the worship gathering was special. The theme and focus of the night was: “All the Nations.” It was incredible to see all the flags that were represented. But the most enjoyable part of the night was being able to hear all the languages spoken yesterday through the songs and prayers. Some of the languages sounded familiar to me due to the various missions trips over the years. It is fascinating to think that God understands them all.

Last night was just a confirmation for me to continue to have a vision for the nations and how God loves all the nations. The Lord is preparing a time when there will be a gathering of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev 7:9).

Hosanna 2006 - Flag Procession2.JPG         Hosanna 2006 - Flag Procession.JPG

Candlestick Holders and Grace

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Yesterday, Christina and I had the privilege of going to see Les Misérables in Detroit’s Fisher Theatre. Some people in our church gave the tickets (and even provided babysitting) as a Christmas gift to us. Since Christina loves musicals, this was probably one of the best Christmas gifts she has received.

It was a powerful show. No wonder this musical has been playing for close to 20 years and it is still going strong. In fact, it just reaffirmed the importance of music and visual presentations as avenues to communicate a message.

Les Miserables.gif

One of the main themes of this musical is the message of grace. It was powerfully represented by a pair of silver candlestick holders. Jean Valjean (the main character) encounters grace when he stole the bishop’s silver. When Valjean was caught and brought back to the bishop’s house, the bishop not only says that the silver was a gift but he gives him two silver candlestick holders as well. This experience of getting something that he did not deserve transformed his life.

I could not help but to notice all throughout the musical the candlestick holders were a constant reminder of the grace that he received. He packed it in his suitcase as he was getting ready to leave the city. He had it on a table towards the end of his life.

For Valjean, the candlestick holders had a powerful meaning. It was a testimony of grace. It was a constant reminder of grace. As the musical was coming to a close, I was thinking, “What is my candlestick holder?” “What reminds me of this amazing grace that I have experienced (again and again)?”

Lessons From “24”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Jack Bauer.jpg

I have to admit that I was a late-comer to the TV show “24”. My first thought was who in the world would waste their precious time to watch a show about a person’s life, one hour at a time. It did not make sense to me. But after some coaxing and in the name of “date night,” I decided to watch it with Christina. We were able to get a hold of 3 seasons from “24”-fanatics in our church. Then after getting captivated (ok, ok, I am addicted) with the first 3 seasons, we finished watching season 4 right before the new season 5 started (now playing on TV).

This 5th season has been an interesting experience. After getting accustomed to watching the show whenever I wanted and how many episodes I wanted to see at any given time, I realized some important lessons about the Christian life.

I am realizing how hard it is to have an attitude of delayed gratification. God used this show to expose my lack of patience. After this Monday’s episode, I was getting so frustrated. Christina was wondering what was going on. When I told her it was because I do not want to wait for next Monday’s episode, she just rolled her eyes. For the last 4 seasons, I was the master of my own ship… I had the control… I was able to choose when I would stop or continue watching the show… the power was all mine (muhahaha)! After watching 16 episodes so far in season 5, I started to loathe the fact that I had to wait one whole week to watch the next hour.

I was no longer in control. I had to be patient. I had to wait. What makes this whole ordeal worse is when they show the next episode teasers (oh I hate that).

But is this not the Christian life? God is in control. We do not fully know the next episodes of our lives. We get frustrated and start to grow impatient because we want to “know.” We are powerless to run our own life. Can we fully trust God?

As Christina and I were about to go to sleep, she said, “You are too funny, I can’t believe you were getting all worked up over that.” As I thought about it, I realized that not knowing everything in life is part of the fun and the adventure. It keeps me coming back to God for more of Him, hour by hour!

Jury Duty

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

If there is a spiritual gift for getting picked for jury duty, I would have it. This is my 3rd time. In the previous 2 times I was not selected to sit as a juror, but this time around I had the magic number.

It started off with about 50+ of us in a jury gathering room. As I was sitting there, I was thinking to myself that we were 50 out of millions of people in all of Washtenaw County. Then they told us that they would call out 25 people out of the 50+ to be potential jurors. I was dreading the whole process. If it was for some kind of sweepstakes then I might have had a different attitude and response.

When they called out my number, I tried very hard to convince myself that I had a civic duty to serve as a juror. Well… it didn’t take away the feeling of no wanting to be there.

After going through some instructions by the judge, we were told that they would pick 7 of us. After 3 people were released due to the attorney’s pre-emptive challenges to dismiss a juror, they called me to step forward. By this time I was convinced about the foreknowledge and the sovereign will of God… it was my destiny! :-)

The judge already knew that I was a reverend (pretty freaky). I was thinking to myself – “surely the attorneys will ask me to sit out b/c I am a pastor.” But after the whole process, I was selected to sit in this jury to decide on the criminal case.

For some reason, as I was looking at the defendant, I was reminded of Ps 11:7, “For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.” In a world where there are bribes, corruption and injustice, I am wondering if a juror can be completely impartial. Maybe this is why God had to remind the Israelite people – “Do not pervert justice or show partiality… Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Dt 16:19-20).

I praise God that Jesus met the requirements of God’s justice through the cross, therefore instead of judgment we now can receive mercy.