Never Get Too Comfortable

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

I think one of the joys of church planting is the constant challenge of finding facility space. I believe in HMCC of Ann Arbor we used at least 7 or 8 different places for worship within the first 5 years of our church. It was quite an adventure but it was really hard to keep track. Thank God for the invention of the internet and e-mail.

We were asked to leave in the auditorium we were using on the Northwestern University campus. Even though we were a bit discouraged, we were not dismayed. I am a firm believer that one of the first and important lessons a new church has to learn is complete dependence upon God – and finding a gathering facility is one of the avenues to learn this lesson.

Can you imagine the life of the Israelite people as they were wandering through the wilderness?

As soon as they got settled in a place, Moses would tell them to pack up their things because they had to go where the fire and cloud were moving towards.

This is how we feel.

God has been gracious enough to allow a church close to campus use their facility right in the downtown Evanston area (still close to campus). I want to give a big shout out to Evanston Bible Fellowship for their generosity and their Kingdom heart. It is hard to find churches that have a Kingdom vision. Too many churches are busy building their own kingdom.

Well, we have been in 4 different places in the first year of this church plant.

It is exciting… and I am telling the leaders not to get too comfortable :-)

Wholly Devoted

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

I just came back from the first night of the Single Adult Retreat. It was great worshipping with the “older” crowd in our church.

In the message, the “one thing” that I shared was – “A heart devoted to God will live out the purposes of God.” We looked into the life of King Solomon and how his heart was divided towards the end of his life. But it was his father (King David) that followed after God, even though his life was marred by mistakes and failures.

There is something powerful about a heart that is fully devoted…

Dreams become a reality.

Soccer Mania

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

 
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Today, Josiah and his Ann Arbor Arsenal Team participated in the Canton Cup Tournament. It is a pretty historic tournament with close to 500+ teams all over Michigan coming together to compete.

Every time I go to Josiah’s games, it brings back memories of the “glory days” of when I played soccer as a youth. Sometimes I think the parents get into it more than the kids :-)

It has brought great joy to our hearts to see Josiah develop as a player over the years. We will keep on letting him play as long as he wants to continue to play. When a person loses passion for something then it is time for them to change directions. As of now, the man is passionate about soccer.

We are so proud of him.

Here are some pictures from previous games:
 
 
 
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A clear breakaway – the man got some skills
 
 
 
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Here is an action shot – Josiah is developing good form

Applebee’s Racial Salad

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

 
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I don’t know… maybe I am truly an activist at heart. In some ways, all activists have some sense of justice built in their disposition. I am also fully aware that what I am about to write is probably rooted in some deep emotional scar when I was 7 years old or something… blah, blah.

I think growing up with racism for most of my life I understand when people seem overly sensitive about certain comments and silent innuendos when it comes to race.

It has always surprised me that out of all the minorities in America, Asians are usually the quiet ones when it comes to offenses made by the white majority. I don’t know how many times where the people of the Asian descent remained quiet when there were some offenses towards the Asian race. This, in a strange way, perpetuates a certain stereotype of Asians and I have seen too many Asians being taken advantage of.

All this is a precursor to what happened this week. On Wednesday, I went to Applebee’s for a lunch appointment. To my chagrin, I was annoyed to see that on their menu they had a salad called, Oriental Chicken Salad. Now, I know that not everyone will agree with me on this one, but it is pretty disturbing in our day and age when we have people still using that word – outside of an Oriental rug. Most restaurants that I know of have caught up with the cultural gap and are calling it Asian Chicken Salad or Mandarin Chicken Salad.

Wikipedia writes,

“Random House’s Guide to Sensitive Language states ‘Other words (e.g., Oriental, colored) are outdated or inaccurate.’ This Guide to Sensitive Language suggests the use of ‘Asian or more specific designation such as Pacific Islander, Chinese American, [or] Korean.’ Merriam-Webster describes the term as ‘sometimes offensive,’ Encarta states that when the term is used as a noun it is considered ‘a highly offensive term for somebody from East Asia.’

I am not saying that I am on a mission or a crusade. But, simply, I feel like as an Asian-American, I need to break out of the stereotypes and speak up. Therefore, I did something pro-active. I contacted Applebee’s and got a hold of their corporate office. I wrote them a long letter stating my disappointment (it was very respectful).

Now we will wait a few months and see what happens to that Oriental rabbit food.

2007 Single Adults Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Tomorrow we will have our annual Single Adult Retreat. First of all, the semantics of calling a 20 or 30 something a “single adult” or “young adult” need to be cleared up. In fact, I wrote an entry a year ago laying down the reasons why in HMCC we call people in the 20-30’s single adults rather than young adults. You can read it here.

Secondly, as we are getting ready for the retreat, I believe that God has a unique plan for the single adults in our church and throughout the nation. As many of you know, this is one population of people that are growing every year. There is so much God can do in them and through them. I am praying that the single adults in our church will catch the fire and the vision for transformation.

I can’t wait to participate with the single adults tomorrow at the retreat. It is going to be a blast building relationships with one another and most of all with God. The theme of the retreat is: Wholly Devoted.

I don’t think anyone who was wholly devoted to God in the Bible or throughout history failed to see God use them in a powerful way. Lord we are Yours!

David Crowder Band sings the song, “Wholly Yours.” The lyrics go like this:

I am full of earth
You are heaven’s worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I wanna be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You’re covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy God

So here I am, all of me
Finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly Yours

I am wholly, wholly Yours

If you want to read what inspired this song for David Crowder, read it here.

Reclaiming the Arts and Media

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

I don’t know if you have been keeping up with some of the new T.V. shows that will be appearing soon. It was very interesting to me that two of the new shows deal with the arts and media.

One of the shows is called, “On the Lot.” The contestants on this show will have the opportunity to make a film and then they will be judged by famous film makers in the likes of Steven Spielberg and people from DreamWorks.

Another show is called, “So You Think You Can Dance”. It is a show that is in search of the best dancer – the range includes everything from ballroom and ballet to salsa, jive, and hip-hop.

This is what the world is tuning into… and once again, is the Church ready to develop these kinds of people to have a platform to make a difference for the Kingdom?

The world has become a media and arts generation. Will the Church have a voice in this arena? Can the Church raise up people who can see this as a mission field? Do Christ-followers see this as an opportunity to be a world shaker, history maker for Christ?

American Idol and the Arts

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

 
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Even though the T.V. show American Idol has been playing for 6 seasons (including this season), I have only watched the last 5-6 weeks. Thanks to the craze over Sanjaya Malakar, it perked my interest to find out what all the hype was about.

Yesterday’s finale was incredible. At the end, when Jordin Sparks (the winner) was singing, my eyes got misty. It is hard to believe a 17 year old won the whole thing. But it was well-deserved. She has a great voice.

It blew my mind away to think that 74 million votes were cast – hard to believe that so many people from around the world watched and participated in the voting!

Several things encouraged me:

1) There is talk that Jordin traveled with Michael W. Smith on his 3-week Christmas concert tour. You can read up on it here.

2) Melinda Doolittle (who was my 2nd favorite) did a blatantly Christian song on T.V. with BeBe and CeCe Winans, where millions of people were watching. This is huge! I can’t believe that American Idol even allowed a song like that to be sung. It was a great witness and testimony.

3) This just reaffirmed the “A” of the CHARGED acronym. I am praying that there will be more Christ-followers who will make a difference in our world by using their talents for the arts and media. We have become a media-saturated world – and if the message of the Gospel can be brought into a platform like American Idol then the impact can be tremendous. As we have been discussing many times before – the next Billy Graham of our generation might be an artist. We need to keep on fostering an environment where people with the talent and the passion for the arts can grow.

Here are the lyrics to “This is My Now,” which helped Jordin win the whole thing (it has been rumored that it was written by a Christ-follower):

There was a time I packed my dreams away
Living in a shell, hiding from myself.
There was a time when I was so afraid
I thought I’d reached the end.
Baby, that was then.
But I am made of more than my yesterdays.

This is my now,
And I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around,
I can’t believe the love I see.
My fear’s behind me,
Gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then.
This is my now.

I had to decide.
Was I gonna play it safe?
Or look somewhere deep inside,
Try to turn the tide.
Find the strength to take that step of faith?

This is my now,
And I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around,
I can’t believe the love I see.
My fear’s behind me,
Gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then.
This is my now.

I have a courage like never before, yeah.
I settled for less, but I’m ready for more.
Ready for more…

This is my now,
And I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around,
I can’t believe the love I see.
My fear’s behind me,
Gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then.
This is my now,
And I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around,
I can’t believe the love I see.
My fear’s behind me,
Gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then.
This is my now.
This is my now.

Here is her performance of the song on Tuesday night:

 
 
Personally, I appreciate her authentic and heartfelt version (after winning it all) – this is what moved me. I think Paula would agree :-)

“24” Season 6 Finale

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Since I was in Dallas, I missed the 2-hour season ending of “24” on TV. But thankfully, Christina recorded it for me (to feed my addiction).

SPOILER WARNING!

 
 
 
 
 
It is amazing how a lot of movies and T.V. shows have glimpses of the Gospel. In fact, I have been saying it for some time now, but when things move us emotionally in a scene, it is because some element of the Gospel is present.

In the last hour of the show, Jack approaches Audrey (while she is still sleeping) and tells her that he has to let her go. He said, “I know I told you that I would protect you and take care of you, but the most loving thing to do is to let you go.” Wow!

Not only is this a sign of unconditional love, but it demonstrated a selfless sacrifice. The man was willing to give her up so that she can really live. Gospel? Absolutely.

I was just thinking about how “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”

Also, when we think about our Christian life, it is only when we learn to surrender and die to ourselves that we can really start living – sometimes losing something is really the greatest gain.

Just a side note, one thing that gets under my skin is when the secular world does a better job of communicating the elements of the Gospel better than the Church. If we have the greatest message to share with the world, then we have to find creative ways to communicate it with this culture. The Church has to do a better job – we can’t let shows like, “24”, Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, and etc beat us out.

God is Preparing the Harvest

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

There are times when a person just senses something. Some might call it intuition or “in the flow” and some in other camps call it prophetic, but regardless, it is exciting when you are tapping into the heart of God.

For some reason as we were coming to a close of this school year, some of the leaders and I were sensing that God was up to something – we just didn’t know what. I don’t think too many people like to be in this position, especially me. But over the years, I am slowly learning that this is the best place to be. It is kind of like Aladdin and the magic carpet ride scene. Do you remember?

“I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder… over sideways and under… la, la, la… a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view… a dazzling place I never knew but when I’m way up here, it’s crystal clear… that now I’m in a whole new world with you. Unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling, soaring, tumbling, la, la, la… A hundred thousand things to see hold your breath – it gets better… A whole new world, every turn a surprise, with new horizons to pursue…

(Please don’t ask me how I know the lyrics to the song… ha!)

Anyways, God is moving and we are just tagging along for the ride. With every new horizon, God always purifies us and prepares us.

The report is just out that the University of Michigan has reached a record number of students applying this year than all throughout its 190 year history. The stats show that close to 27,400 high seniors applied, which is a 6.4% increase from last year. In fact 6,389 students paid deposits by May 20, which is a 16.2% increase over the same time period last year.

This is huge!

God placing a burden for our outreach planning in the fall season is right on the mark. God bringing in new people into places of leadership is on the mark. God reinvigorating the vision and mission in our church is on the mark.

What a ride.

If you want to read the Detroit News article click here.

Dallas Reflections

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

As I am sitting here reflecting on my 24 hours in Dallas, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed (in a good sense). First of all, it is incredible to think that God would use imperfect people to build His Kingdom. Sometimes, I see myself messing things up more than anything else. But God is truly gracious and patient – truly amazing.

Secondly, to think that there are so many like-minded people (Kingdom-minded) all over the States (and the world) is another overwhelming thought. God is truly moving and doing some great things in various churches. I was so encouraged to hear about some of the awesome things that God was doing across the nation.

Lastly, as I have downloaded some incredible discussions and dialogue about the Church with some cutting-edge (euphemism for people willing to take risks) pastors, the question is: how do I help navigate some of the things that God spoke to Pastor Andrew and me at this conference?

I realized that in our context, not everything is transferable, but the principles are universal. The challenge is trying to come up with details for the framework that was discussed. Topics such as multi-ethnicity, leadership, and mentoring now need to be applied beyond the theoretical to the practical.

It is definitely going to be a process but I am thankful that God has led us to think through some of these issues even before the conference. As I was interacting with some of the other pastors and leaders, I felt a tremendous sense of affirmation and confirmation of the direction that God is leading us into the future – we are not alone.

It was a privilege to be with a group of people that have a huge heart for the Lord and a dynamic dream for the Lord. God is up to something.

I can’t help but to think about Charlie Hall’s song, “The Rising Shout.” The lyrics go like this:

You part the heavens, touch the earth
You open eyes to see Your worth
And the walls are coming down, and the walls are coming down
And every plan of Yours prevails
Lord, Your purpose never fails
And the walls are coming down, yes, the walls are coming down
And the walls are falling now

Chorus:
With a hand of strength and a heart of grace
You are merciful and mighty to save
So pour Your power out, let a rising shout
Echo through the earth as Your kingdom comes
Let Your kingdom come

We are marked here by Your power
We are ready for this hour
And the walls are coming down, yes, the walls are coming down
You are building up Your bride
You are filling her with fire
And the walls are coming down, yes, the walls are coming down
And the walls are falling now

And the clouds are blowing now
And Your truth is raining down
And the earth is shaking now
With the thunder of Your power
And the walls are coming down
Yes, the walls are coming down
There’s a shout that’s rising now

p.s. I want to give a shout out to DJ Chuang and Bruce Reyes-Chow who are fellow bloggers. You guys are the true bloggers because you allow comments on your blog. For me, I am just sharing my thoughts – which I do not want comments on – I get an earful all the time by my wife and my staff. :-)
 
 
 
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The man, DJ Chuang, who helped put this conference together – it was great connecting with him.
 
 
 
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Pastor Andrew and I were coveting these WhiteBoards – they were enormous. We need these for our leadership meetings.

Wild Challenge in Dallas

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I arrived to Dallas/Fort Worth airport in the morning. Then I headed out to pick up a rental car. Christina ended up getting a cheap price for a car rental from E-Z Rent-A-Car. Exactly. I was thinking what kind of cars would a place called E-Z Rent-A-Car have? I was bracing myself for the worst, but to my pleasant surprise they had a Volvo S40 waiting for me. No complaints here. I found out it was cheaper than lower end model cars from the big name car rentals.

I then picked up Pastor Young from GCC and Pastor Andrew from the airport and we headed out to the conference.

We were welcomed warmly and they had a lot of things prepared for us. It is always encouraging to see things done with excellence – this was a top-notch operation.

Today was a packed day. We went straight through for 6.5 hours. The format of the gathering is modeled after WildWorks Wild Challenge. It is high energy, high octane, and high participation. We also had each of the churches present their mission, vision and strategy. It was encouraging to see how God was moving powerfully in all the churches.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner and continued to build relationships with one another. It is pretty amazing to be gathered together with some high caliber people to talk about important issues that pertain to the future and what role multi-ethnic churches will play in shaping that future.

It is always in these environments where I learn the most – we are challenging, sharpening and inspiring one another. These guys are making me think bigger, broader and bolder.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s session.

Another All-Nighter

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We finished the retreat on a high note as we prayed together in the various small groups. I talked about the CHARGED acronym and how college students can be a part of God’s greater plan of bringing transformation in societies and nations.

The worship band quickly packed up and after saying our goodbyes, we headed back home to Ann Arbor. We left around 12:30AM and drove throughout the night and got into Ann Arbor at 6:30AM.

We were thankful that the weather and roads were cooperating with us this time around… but we were still tired.

I am so thankful for our worship team.

These guys are willing to make the sacrifices (taking time off work, lack of sleep, spending their own money, etc) to help usher in God’s transformative work in lives of people. It makes ministry more fun when these kinds of servants are serving alongside you.

The Land of Motorcycles

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It seems like the town of Lake Geneva is a motorcycle town. Within the last few days, I have seen so many people on motorcycles. I have also seen many different types of bikes… with many different types of people riding on them.

As I was going to the coffee shop, I happened to notice a raffle that the local Lion’s Club was having for 2 Harley Davidson bikes. A trailer was included in the Grand Prize. I was tempted when I found out that the raffle tickets were only $10. But then again, I would have to explain what the unexpected $10 expense was for, and I don’t think Christina would have been too enthusiastic. But it is crazy how the mind works – I was thinking that IF I won the 2 bikes, the trailer and $1,000 gift certificate that she would be very happy.

But for some reason, I kept on seeing her face and her head shaking. So I told the man behind the table that I would need to talk with my wife first. He snickered and said, “Now I know who the boss is!” Lord, take me away (in a motorcycle)!
 
 
 
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All this for just a $10 raffle which I balked on!
 
 
 
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As I was drooling over this one, I am sure I violated one of the 10 commandments
 
 
 
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They are everywhere

CCUC Retreat Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

This morning I talked about forgiveness.

It is usually a heavy topic, especially when it is in the morning session. I realized that whenever I address this particular topic (in any place), it is always hard for everyone involved – not only for the people who have to dig deep into their lives, but it is also hard for me. I have to make sure that there is no bitter root in my heart with people who have hurt me in the past.

We live in a sin-filled world and people end up hurting each other. But the power to forgive comes from the fact that God has forgiven us. Therefore, the commands in the Bible to forgive have been predicated by Jesus demonstrating the ultimate forgiveness for sin on the cross.

The more we understand the cross, the more we will be able to forgive – but it is not always easy. This is why it is good to park and sit near the cross a little bit.