Another Year, Another B-Day

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Yesterday we celebrated Josiah’s birthday. I can’t believe he is already 9 years old. I remember talking with some older fathers who would always tell me that kids grow up so fast. Back then I was thinking that they do not grow up fast enough. But now, I am echoing those same words of the older fathers.

Next year, this man of God will be hitting the double digits. It is a big milestone. I don’t want to miss these precious years. In my office I have a quote that helps me to keep everything in perspective. It says, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

A side thought: Why do birthday presents get more expensive as people get older?
 
 
 
Here are some pictures:
 
 

JoJo's B-day - Family.JPG

Surrounding the B-Day Boy – we were 3 candles short
 
 
 

JoJo present.jpg

His inexpensive gift – the expensive one came in a disc w/ the dreaded code of PS2

NU Church Plant Update – 5.29.06

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

My family and I drove out to Chicago yesterday. After dropping off the kids with my parents, Christina and I went to Northwestern. Even though there were some people who could not make it to the meeting because of the Memorial Day holiday, we still had a good handful of people at the meeting. We praise God because we were able to meet two new people – both of whom were students! We are seeing God answer some of our prayers.

We continued in our study of the Book of Acts. The sermon that the Apostle Peter preached (Ac 2:14-41) revealed 3 things: God’s Sovereignty, God’s Promises and God’s Truth. The Sovereignty of God reminds us that God is the one orchestrating things and working in people’s lives. The response of the people reveals this point (v. 37, 41). The promises of God encourage us with hope because God is always faithful to His word. Lastly, God’s truth “cut” into the hearts of the people. God’s truth has a way of exposing and convicting our hearts.

Then we spent some time praying around these 3 things that we studied for the NU students as well as the Chicagoland area. We already see God’s Sovereignty preparing the way for the Gospel message to be proclaimed. We will need to proclaim this truth in love, and we are confident that the people will respond because of His promises.

Afterwards, Christina and I grabbed a late dinner by ourselves at Joy Yee’s, but then we ended up seeing some of the NU guys out there along with a HMCC small group that was visiting for the Memorial Day holiday. These HMCC guys are everywhere… there isn’t a place where Christina and I can get away to have a quiet dinner ;-)

Promotion Ceremony

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Tonight, Elliot was graduating from kindergarten. Instead of calling it a graduation ceremony, they coined it as a “promotion ceremony.” At first, I thought it was a bit weird calling a graduation ceremony as a promotion ceremony, but then I gave it some thought.

One of the definitions of “promotion” in The American Heritage Dictionary is: “encouragement of the progress, growth, or acceptance of something.” In some sense these kindergartners did not really graduate from anything. They are just starting off in a life-long journey of learning. From that perspective, calling it a promotion ceremony makes more sense. We constantly need to hear the encouragement of progress, growth and the acceptance of responsibility. How else are we going to grow? This growth is not only in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense.

It is sad to see many people who do not have someone in their lives to help “promote” them. This is why so many of us are stuck in a rut. We end up settling for mediocrity and we start getting comfortable. The “path of least resistance” is the desired road when there is no challenge in our lives. I pray that all of us have someone that is constantly “promoting” us.

Even though Elliot was “promoted” to the next stage and level of learning, there is a whole world of learning that is awaiting him. It is exciting that I will be able to help navigate him through it all. For Elliot the bottom line was – “When do I get to eat the dessert?!”

Here are some pictures:

Elliot's Graduation - Center of Attention.jpg

    The Center of Attention

Elliot's Graduation - Family Pic.jpg

    The whole family

NU Church Plant Update – 5.21.06

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

It was a crazy day. Right after Sunday Celebration about 8 of us drove out to Chicago to meet up with the Northwestern church plant group. Then after our meeting we fellowshipped over some Chicago-style pizza and then some of us drove back to AA. By the time I was in bed, it was well past 2AM.

This Sunday we went over Acts 1:12-2:13. Instead of just hearing a talking head, we broke up into groups and read the passage and tried to answer 2 simple questions: 1) What was God doing? 2) How did the people respond? I told everyone to just track God and see what He was doing at this moment in history. The discussion was great.

Some conclusions that we came to:

1) The phrase “all together” (1:14; 2:1) is repeated. We realized that coming together in unity creates an environment for the Spirit of God to work in a powerful way. I am wondering how many times we miss opportunities to experience God’s power because of the discord and strife within the church. We allow differences to separate us. No wonder the Apostle Paul was a stickler on promoting unity within the Body of Christ.

 

2) The word, “suddenly” in Acts 2:2. It is just like God to work in ways that we might not expect or that we aren’t ready for. It is amazing to see how many preconceived ideas and notions we have in our lives. Too often, we expect God (and even demand God) to work in a certain way that is consistent with our worldview, but rarely do we ever question our beliefs. I am wondering if the reason why all throughout the Bible, God works “suddenly” and out of the ordinary is to bring glory to Himself. How can anyone take the credit for anything good when we know that if a miracle happens it is an extraordinary intervention of God? This keeps us humble and dependent on God for everything.

 

3) The response of the people. We notice some key words in Acts 2 – “bewilderment” (v. 6), “utterly amazed” (v. 7), “amazed and perplexed” (v. 12). I like the Greek word for “amazed” – it has the connotation of “to put out of wits, to astound, insane, to wonder, to be beside oneself.” This is something we are lacking in the churches today. When people step into the church they are no longer amazed and in wonder. Instead we are bored, jaded and apathetic. This is so inconsistent with what we see with the 1st century church. What would it be like to see a church like this in the 21st century? I think there would be a lot more of the almost 3 million people in Chicago experiencing God and being “utterly amazed.”

We are building some good momentum for this church plant. It is truly a God thing and we are “amazed”!

NU Women’s Soccer Hazing

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Northwestern University has been on the news recently. The university suspended its women’s soccer team as the school investigates the alleged hazing incident from last year. As we are getting ready to plant a church on the Northwestern University campus, it just dawned upon me the ever-increasing need for prayer. Without prayer, we will not be able to do the things that God is calling us to do in Chicago.

Prayer is really the “pre-evangelism” stage. It is through prayer that we are able to see God work even before we enter into the scene – which is a good thing because humans have a tendency to mess things up. Without the Lord’s help what can we really do? As Jesus stated in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I have been telling people that whenever something is in the news (whether good or bad), it is sometimes a trigger (or reminder) for God’s people to pray. Even though this whole hazing incident doesn’t really help Northwestern’s reputation, it reminds us to pray for the campus and the work that is going to start there soon.

As I was looking through some of the hazing pictures, I was reminded of my younger years when I played soccer and was far away from God. I cannot help but to praise God for His grace and mercy in my life. The fact that God loved me when I was spiritually lost is truly beyond my comprehension.

It reminds of the words of Apostle Paul,

“This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Ti 1:15-16, New Living Translation).

The Da Vinci Code – To Watch or Not To Watch

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

This coming weekend the movie “The Da Vinci Code” will be playing in movie theaters all across the United States and around the world. Dan Brown’s book has struck a nerve with some of the evangelical Christians. In fact, there are a lot of Christians that are going to boycott this movie. If you have been watching the news lately, you will find many stories from India to France and many other countries where Christians are protesting the release of the movie. The days leading up to the premiere have prompted many hunger strikes and calls for boycotts.

Now, here are some interesting things to think about:

1) How many times have censorship and boycotts caused the opposite effect to happen? In this case, won’t this cause more people to see the movie out of curiosity? In some ways, it is defeating the purpose that the people have set out to accomplish.

2) People of influence are people who can take a negative thing and use it in an advantageous way – bottom line is that they usually have a different perspective on things. Maybe instead of seeing this movie as a negative thing, we can see the enormous opportunities that Christians will have to share Christ. When else are we going to be able to talk about Christ and Christianity with our co-workers and classmates without being label “a fanatic”? When else are we going to have this kind of marketing opportunity to share Christ – remember the facts: the book has sold 40+ million copies, the movie is being produced by Sony Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, Tom Hanks is starring in this movie, Ron Howard is the director… hmmm.

3) When we understand one of the premises of the movie, we will see how it becomes fuel for the fire (for the other side). One of the premises is about how the Church has withheld information from the public for centuries and how some things in Christianity are based on conspiracies and lies. Now THINK with me for a moment – if a person holds to this premise, then what do you think they will be thinking when Christians are trying really hard to stop this movie from premiering all over the world? Simply put: by trying to hinder this movie from showing, it just reinforces the belief that we, as Christian have something to hide.

Yes, I understand all the misinformation that Dan Brown has used in his book. Yes, I understand that people without a strong foundation of the Truth might be led to believe in some of the distortions. But over the years, there are some things that I have learned about Truth. First of all, Truth will always prevail. Secondly, you cannot hide the Truth. Lastly, if people are genuinely seeking the Truth, they will have enough convincing evidence to make a decision that will change the course of their destiny.

Here are some verses I have been thinking about:

• Ps 145:18, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

• Jn 3:21, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light”

• Jn 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

• 2 Co 13:8, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”

• 1 Ti 2:3-4, “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

AMI Meeting in LA

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I arrived in LA late Sunday night (it was almost 3AM EST) for an AMI planning meeting. It is always good to get together with the other leaders to pray and fellowship. For the last 2 days, we have been hashing out some of the structural issues in AMI. It is sometimes draining but at the end of the day it energizes me because I know we are getting one step closer to our destiny.

The weather here has been very predictable – partly cloudy in the morning and in the afternoon it is sunny in the 70’s. I don’t think they need weather newscasters out here :-)

We just came back from having lunch where we connected with one of the future church planters. The church will be planted in San Diego some time in the fall season. Now there will be at least 2 church plants in September – one in San Diego and Chicago. The Spirit of God is moving and it is a great privilege to be a part of what God is doing all over the world.

I can’t wait to get back to AA.

NU Church Plant Update – May

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Right after our Sunday Celebration today, I flew out to Chicago to meet up with the launch team for the Northwestern church plant. Since I had a small window of time before my next flight out to LA, we had to meet somewhere close to ORD (O’Hare Airport). We ended up meeting at an Oasis. For those of you who are not familiar with an Oasis in Chicago, it is an overpass on the highway with restaurants and restrooms… they had Starbucks, Chicago-style hotdogs and gyros… it was paradise :-)

We have started our study in the Book of Acts. I stressed the importance of laying down a good foundation for this church plant. It is our desire to see a 1st century church in the 21st century… a church that will transform lives and transform the world. The early Church was not bound by the four walls of a building, but in fact, they lived out God’s mission to various places around the world. As we were in the Oasis, it was such a poignant point since this was the last place a person would think to have “church.”

I focused on Acts 1:8 and the importance of receiving the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit as we plant this church. The avenue for God’s Spirit to be unleashed is through prayer; therefore we have committed ourselves to praying throughout the weeks to come. God is working in our hearts.

Right now, I am in LA’s airport. I will be out here in LA for the next 3-4 days for an important meeting with the leaders of AMI. Hopefully, I will be able to share more while I am out here.

p.s. Thanks Peter for driving me to the airport. I made my flight only by the grace of God. They need to make more exits :-)

The Marriage Curve

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Yesterday, I was reminded of something in our Covenant small group (our married couples group). We are currently going over biblical principles of how to build a strong marriage. Let me digress for a second…

I have been telling the single people in our church that getting married is the easy part but building a strong marriage takes a lot of hard work. You can ask anyone who has been married more than 5 years and they will tell you that working towards a good marriage is not an easy task. So, for all of you single people out there… the dream of getting married might be alive and well, but remember the reality of hard work in a marriage.

Now back to my point…

We broke up into groups of 4’s (2 couples) to discuss the bible study. On the bible study sheet, we had to graph our marriage experience (x-axis = elapsed time; y-axis = marriage contentment). Then Christina brought up something that enlightened me. We were talking about how married couples start off well in their marriage because everything is new and fresh (honeymoon stage). Then almost inevitably we all go through low points in our marriage. But then, if we continue to persevere and commit to working on the marriage then we will see the graph go upward. The enlightening statement from my sweetie was, “The great part of this is that once you persevere through the low points, you will in fact go higher in your marriage contentment than when you first started.” I was like, “Wow! Good point.”

She ended up drawing a graph on top of her bible study sheet. It was pretty cool seeing her draw this graph and then explain things the way that she did… it was inspiring! I had to take a picture of it. So here it is:

The Marriage Curve.jpg

As we were driving home, we concluded that we are on our way up on that graph. Thank God because some of those low points were hard.

Future-Thinking in Spain

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I just came back from a strategic leadership conference held in the southern part of Spain. It was sponsored by Next Wave International, led by Mal Fletcher. They were specifically strategizing to reach Europe with the Gospel.

It was an invitation-only conference therefore I was humbled when Pastor Robert Barriger asked me to join him. It was pretty intimidating and overwhelming to interact with people of their level and caliber. There were pastors and leaders that were reaching their whole nation for Jesus Christ. Many of their churches were engaged in their local government, schools, businesses, media and the arts.

For three days, all we did was talk about the future. We had some of the top futurists in the world come and share some of their thoughts. We focused on the importance of the emerging church and the influence that churches need to have to make a difference for the Kingdom. I was greatly challenged as I realized that many of the issues that the Europeans faced are the same ones that we are facing in the States.

The Church needs to rise up and meet the challenge or we will lose our calling as the salt and light to the nations. We must be the city on the hill that cannot be hidden. It was encouraging to discover that HMCC is heading in the right direction as we are committed in the next 1.5 years to become the “Missional Church: The Church Beyond the Walls.”

Two verses that stuck in my mind throughout the conference were:

1) Jer 29:11 (NIV), “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
2) Pr 29:18 (KJV), “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

I can’t wait to share some of the blessings with all of you. Here are some pictures:

View from Mijas.jpg

       Overlooking Malaga from Mijas, Spain

Mijas - the guys.jpg

       Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with the guys

Robert and Seth at M.Sea.jpg

       The Mediterranean Sea w/ Pastor Robert Barriger

2006 TC Summit

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

We just finished off our leadership summit. The leaders of our small group ministry and ministry teams got together to pray, plan and prepare for what God has set forth in our church. There was a different feeling in the air – with all the new and first time leaders, there was a sense of freshness as I shared from the Word of God. God has great things in store for us as a church.

As we head into a whole new season in our church, God knew exactly what we needed. The changes that we will see in the future were practiced at the summit. A principle that I tried to teach the peple is that we, as leaders have to live out what we expect people to live out.

We want to recapture the vision for a 1st century church in the 21st century – a missional church filled with radical Christians who desire to transform the world. We are off to a great start… I can´t wait to witness what God is going to do. Testimonies are forthcoming…

Single Adults or Young Adults

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

As I travel to different parts of the world, I am realizing how America is greatly influencing the world. Of course, we need to note that not all of the influences are good. Even though we are influencing the world in various ways, with some level of humility, we have to acknowledge that there are some things we can learn from other nations and cultures.

One particular lesson is this whole idea of being considered a youth until you get married. In many of the countries that I have visited, I was shocked to find that a 20-something year old person and even up to a 30-something year old person is considered a youth if they are not married. For me, a youth is someone between the ages of 13-18 years. Can you imagine if we implemented this mindset here in the States? I don’t think it will fly very well. In fact, people would protest.

But before we dismiss this issue, let’s think about the logic behind it. Even though the reasoning behind it has a lot to do with societal and cultural values and norms, I am wondering if it is really a bad concept. In America we do not have a clear marker recognizing a person transitioning from youth to adulthood. In the Jewish culture, they have the Bar Mitzvah which recognizes the 13 year old entering into adulthood (wow). In other countries they have something similar.

What do we Americans have? (Hmm… good question). So the question is: “When are we really considered an adult?” Is there a certain age where we magically turn into “adults”? Are there certain criteria that validate us as an adult? The Webster’s Dictionary defines, “adult” as, “fully developed and mature.” Wiktionary defines it as, “A person who lives outside the parental home.” Now we are in trouble. When are we fully mature? Also, the number of people living with their parents after college is increasing. So is there a possibility that we are not as mature and “adults” as we would like to think.

So once again, the question is: “When are we considered an adult?” If truth be told, we have glorified the 20-somethings. What do I mean? When we look at many of the 20-somethings today it looks a lot like an extended adolescence (or glorified college life). Instead of developing and anticipating for the next stage of our lives (whether this includes marriage or not), we have delayed the whole transition. Right now the Toys R Us song is ringing in my mind – “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid… la, la, la.”

I am sharing this with all due respect to the 20-somethings in our church. I was at your stage at one point of my life. So in many ways, I understand some of the frustrations and struggles as a 20-something. It is not an easy time. You are trying to find out your purpose and direction in life. You are entertaining thoughts of marriage. You are trying advance in your career. There are so many things that are going on in your life at this stage.

So this all leads me back to the original reason for writing this blog. I have decided to call the single 20-somethings and the 30-somethings in our church “single adults” instead of “young adults.” The motivation behind this is very simple. It deals with 2 aspects:

1) EXPECTATIONS. I do not want to perpetuate the “extended adolescence” mindset in our church. The American Heritage Dictionary defines, “young” as, “of, belonging to, or suggestive of youth or early life.” When you coin the words, “young” and “adult” together it turns out to be an oxymoron. It seems very contradictory and incongruous. If we keep on calling people “young” then most likely they will live out that expectation. If we start calling people “adults” and we treat them as adults, then usually people will live up to that expectation. Maybe we have just been too lenient and expected nothing out of the 20- and 30-somethings. Low expectations result in lack of potential and growth.

2) EXPLANATORY. The FOCUS group in our church is comprised of “single” people who are in their 20s and 30s. The bottom line is simple – the term “single adults” is more of a descriptive term than anything else. I know there are some objections to this because of some of the negative connotations that come with the “single” label. Some objections are: a) It will give the impression that our group is like a “meat market” b) It will make the older single people more aware of their singleness and then add to their struggle. I am aware of these concerns, but I still feel like the disadvantages do not outweigh the overall goal and vision for our single adults. In some ways, this will put a greater responsibility on our FOCUS members to keep things spiritually-focused, so that our group WILL NOT turn into a meat market. Also, the FOCUS members will be encouraged to minister to those people who are struggling with their singleness.

As you know, I like to go against the flow; and the flow of people in their 20s and 30s living an extended adolescence is strong in the States. We have to fight this culture by raising up responsible, mature and passionate followers of Christ. Therefore, for all of you “single” adults out there, I pray that you will step up to plate and take on the challenge.