Family Time at Cosi

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

I love being able to come back from my travels and just spending with my family. Today we spent some time in Toledo, Ohio at the Cosi hands-on science museum. It was helpful that we had a family membership. It allows us to go to any of the museum within the membership network such as the hands-on museum in Navy Pier.

It is fascinating to see kids’ eyes light up as they are discovering things with their senses… truly priceless.

Physical Shape and Spiritual Shape

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Yesterday I decided to get back into my running to keep in shape. But due to all the travels in the last 4-5 weeks, I have not been able to run at all. Therefore, within the first 10 minutes of my run, I thought I was going to die. My body was totally out of sync.

Then it occurred to me that this is how our spiritual lives are when it comes to being in shape. There are times when we are out of sync spiritually. Many different factors attribute to the funk – sometimes it is our laziness, our busyness, disruptions, crisis in our lives, etc.

The best way to get out of the funk is to just start taking small steps in doing what we know we ought to do – reading the Bible, praying, serving people, etc.

So instead of running my normal speed and distance, I had to slow things down a bit and run less. I am hoping after all my travels that I will be back on rhythm.

Our spiritual lives, just like keeping in shape physically are based on rhythms and habits. We need to get into a good rhythm to keep growing and experiencing God in an intimate way.

The Cost of Missions

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

This pass week, I briefly heard on the news about 23 Koreans who were abducted in Afghanistan on July 19th. You can read up on the story here. Since then the Taliban killed one of the hostages. I found out that the person who was killed was Hyung Kyu Bae, a 42 year old pastor.

As I stayed at my parents place, I could not avoid the constant news report on the Korean News channel that my parents had on almost 24 hours.

When I first heard about the situation last week, several thoughts went through my mind. First of all, I was thinking about the lack of wisdom on the part of this Korean church that sent people into this dangerous area. Secondly, I was wondering what they thought they would accomplish by going to a place that has not really “opened” up yet. Even though they went under the covering of “humanitarian work,” I am wondering if it was the right timing (I have nothing against humanitarian work to do missions). I think some of these things are valid points that anyone doing missions needs to consider.

But after this weekend, the Holy Spirit reminded me of couple of other things:

1) There is always a cost in missions – I am constantly reminded that there is always a cost to the Christian life. Even from the onset of our commitment to Christ, He calls us to give up everything. When we look at the infant stage of the Church in the 1st century, we see that there were many people who died for their faith – whether through persecution or through dangers of carry the Gospel to the nations.

2) When the price is paid there will be many fruits – God reminded me of Jn 12:24-26, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” All throughout history, when people died for the Gospel it was never in vain. God kept on reminding me of Jim Elliot and the other missionaries that died in Ecuador because they wanted to bring the Gospel to people who have not heard of Jesus. In fact, after their martyrdom there were hundreds and thousands of young people who gave themselves to world missions due to their sacrifice and inspiration.

The situation is still uncertain, therefore instead of giving our opinions the most important thing is to pray for them and their families.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” [Jim Elliot]

Webcam with Leaders

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

This morning I had the opportunity to be at TEAM Community meeting (our leaders’ meeting) via webcam. Due to all of my travels this summer it has been awhile since I have spoken to the leaders. I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out, but I think overall it went well. There were a couple of times when the network was slow due to all the internet traffic, but I was able to communicate things to the leaders as we close out the summer season and head into the new fall season.

Through the advances of technology, we are able to find ways to connect with one another even though we are miles apart. It is through these avenues we will be able to accomplish a lot more in the future. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to find other ways to train up people and even do church planting.

But the technology can never replace personal touch. This is why I always look forward to being there in person. Then in the case when I cannot be there, we will always have another avenue. The methods and means are not the main issue but the message. I am praying that the message got across.

A Journey of Faithfulness

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

During my personal retreat, I had the opportunity to visit the Billy Graham Library. I have visited the Billy Graham Center Museum in Wheaton many times before. But this was my first time at his library. I have always been inspired by the life and the legacy of Billy Graham.

There is a basic introduction to the life of Billy Graham towards the beginning of the tour. Then, you are free to look at various things throughout the rest of the library. There were a lot of personal items that were on display. It was incredible to see all the lives that he touched with the Gospel.

One theme that rang throughout the tour is his single purpose in life which was to preach the Gospel. I am wondering what would happen if every professing Christian would make that their life’s goal?
Billy Graham Library.JPG
The library was made to look like a barn which reflects Billy Graham’s rural background
Billy Graham's House.JPG
This was a replica of Billy Graham’s actual boyhood home
Billy Graham Passport.JPG
These were some of his personal belongings during his travels – his briefcase, bible, and passport
Billy Graham Purpose.JPG
A reminder of his one purpose in life

Online Maps

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

So far, I have used only 3 different online maps – MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, and Google Maps.

It is interesting that sometimes when you try to find directions to a place, you get three different directions from these online maps. I am beginning to wonder if they are using different programs or satellite configurations.

It always irks me when the online maps give a direction that is really not the best route. For example, some of the maps will give the shortest distances in terms of miles but in reality it might take longer. Sometimes taking a particular highway, even though there are more miles involved, will get you there faster.

I am curious if this is the same way with the GPS in cars… hmm.

But in the recent days, I have found Yahoo Maps to be more the most efficient and accurate.

Racism is Alive and Well

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Yesterday, I experienced something that I have not experienced for a long time. As I went into a restaurant to eat, there was a family in front of me waiting to be seated. It was a family of five. As they were being seated, I overheard the youngest girl (about 7 years old) say, “Mommy, there is a Chinaman here.” In my surprise and chagrin, I was about to say something to the kid and the parents, but I decided to exercise self-control.

When I was finally seated, I looked around the restaurant and I noticed that I was the only minority in the place. I couldn’t help but to think how many people go through life without ever interacting with someone from another ethnicity. This goes on from generation to generation.

There is something about comfort and security that causes people not to go beyond what they are used to. This is the same situation within the four walls of the church. As I have mentioned many times before, the people of the “lighter hue” in our church are learning how to empathize with minorities since they are minorities in our church. I firmly believe that they will be bridges to the people of the majority to the minority.

On the same note, the people who are “the majority” in our church have a responsibility to reach out to people of “the minority” who come to our gatherings. We, who are the majority in the church, know what it feels like to be the minority in the world… therefore, we need to make sure that we become the bridge-builders first.

Packing Faux Pas

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

A person knows when they are going insane living out of their suitcase when they forget to pack important items!

In the midst of all the packing, unpacking and then packing again, I forgot to pack my underwear! Thank God this area has a Wal-Mart or I would have worn the same underwear for the next few days.

Oh, the memories of high school came back when we discovered that underwears can be worn in 4 different ways… I will just let you figure that one out for yourselves.

Travel Fatigue

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

It is finally hitting me as I am sitting in DTW right now. I ended up going to Chicago yesterday for the Sunday Celebration and I just arrived this morning. I am currently waiting for another flight and something inside of me is loathing all the traveling. When I was a bit younger and I started to travel, things were pretty exciting going from one place to another. Now, the excitement phase has waned and I am just longing to be home with my family.

The statement, “familiarity breeds contempt,” is true in this situation with all the travel.

I am going away for a personal retreat.

It took me about 4-5 years into our church plant in Ann Arbor to realize that I needed to go away for an extended period of time to pray and seek the Lord before the new season of ministry started. For various reasons, I felt an increasing sense of tiredness and even emptiness after each academic school year. I normally went on missions throughout the summer therefore it kind of numbed some of the things that I was feeling. But when August rolled around and with all the preparations needed for the new school year, I started to lose sight of everything.

It was from this momentous realization that I have been able to get away to spend time to be in God’s presence. I am thankful for my family and the church who have allowed me to get away. They have realized it is for the sake of my health and the health of the church that I go away and spend concentrated time praying.

Usually during these times, God lays various burdens and gives specific direction for our church. It allows me to be in solitude and hear God’s voice. In the past there have been some great insights and revelation from the Lord. I am praying that this time will be no different.

I am reminded about how Jesus, the Son of God went away to a solitary place to pray. I have come to the conclusion that if Jesus, who was perfect, had to get away, then surely an imperfect and flawed person like me needs this time to seek His face.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

Reconnecting in AA

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It was good being back in AA for Sunday Celebration. Even in the midst of all my travels there is something about coming back “home” and celebrating God’s goodness and greatness with our biblical community.

As we have just finished off with our series on prayer, it is my desire that all of us will be faithful in praying throughout this week.

As I have observed in other places, it seems as if prayer always precedes God’s movement in a place. We are building up the prayers for the things to come in the Fall season.

2007 SE Asia Update 11

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am finally back home in Ann Arbor. I was able to talk with some of the flight agents to allow me to get on an earlier flight so that I will have more time with the family.

It was a long plane journey from Jakarta to Singapore and then from Singapore to Tokyo… then finally Tokyo to Detroit. The good thing about flying is that I am able to read and reflect. In this 13+ hour leg, I was able to finish off another book (a review will be coming soon) and come up with about 5 different sermon series.

But more importantly, I was able to reflect on my trip to SE Asia. Here are some thoughts that quickly come to my mind:

1) I am thankful for the HMCC connection. From my first arrival in Singapore to my time in Indonesia and Malaysia, I am thankful for the various people who showed God’s love and hospitality. I want to thank all of them for showing me love and honor. I was tremendously blessed by your sacrifices and generosity.

2) God is moving powerfully all over the world. It is easy to get myopic when we are busy doing ministry in our specific location. I was reminded on this trip that God is moving in His Church and His people all over the world. It is encouraging to see fellow believers living out the Kingdom vision in their spheres of influence.

3) The harvest is truly plentiful, but the workers are few. Even though some of the churches in Indonesia and Malaysia are strong, there is still a great need for more churches to be planted and more missionaries to be sent to some of the unreached places. I was struck by the vast number of Muslims in this region. We need more people who are burdened for this area.

4) We need more of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives and ministry. It was encouraging to see the situation that many of these Christians were in but how they were able to stand firm was inspiring. I was able to witness the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Also, in all the churches and people we visited, I was able to sense their dependence on the Spirit.

5) The future potential of networked relationship is growing. I was able to see firsthand the importance of the International ministry. Many of the students who come to our church will be going back to their country to work. The importance of discipleship and training will play a great part in ministering to them. With the growing number of nationals who studied in the States and now are back in their country, there is great potential of starting some new work in this region.

Overall, it was a great trip for me. I feel like a lot of the burdens and convictions that I sensed from the Lord were confirmed on this trip. Now the hard part is trying to put it in a tangible form so that I can continue to live with the convictions.
Sunset on Plane.JPG
The sun was setting as we headed out of Surabaya and heading back home
Ring of Fire.JPG
This is one of the mountains that make up the Ring of Fire – many of the volcanoes are still active

2007 SE Asia Update 10

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Traveling with Pastor Seth is never boring… it is always a crazy adventure.

As we were flying (in the taxi) to the airport, we rushed to catch our flight to Surabaya, Indonesia from Malaysia. The only problem was that we were supposed to go to another local airport that was 20 minutes away! We just assumed that since we were flying out of the country that we were flying out of the international airport. But since it was a local carrier we had to go to the local terminal. I don’t know why they don’t put all the airports together – oh the joys of traveling.

Once we got to the airport we ran into some snags with our carry on luggage. They would only take bags that were 10 kilograms or lower as carry on! It was totally ridiculous. I really do not like to check in my luggage due to the extra delays and some bad experiences in the past. I tried very hard to reasonably talk with the agent, but he was very persistent and did not want to budge.

Then I decided to be biblical – to live out the parable of the persistent widow. After approaching him on multi-fronts, I think I wore him down. He finally allowed us to go into the gate with our luggage. There is something about persistence and not taking “no” for an answer :-)

The Holy Spirit Conference started at 6PM but by the time we landed in Surabaya and got to the hotel it was about 7:30PM. We finally arrive at Bethany Church around 8PM. As we approached the church, we could tell that the Spirit of God was moving powerfully. Reinhard Bonnke was preaching. We caught the middle end of his sermon but he was talking about the importance of God’s anointing upon us as we carry the Gospel to the nation of Indonesia and beyond.

He then led us into a time of seeking the Lord to touch us with His Spirit. As we were praying and crying out to God, he invited people who feel God’s call to be an evangelist to come forward. It was a very moving sight. Hundreds of people were coming forward to the altar to receive God’s anointing to be an evangelist. In fact, this was one of the first times I actually saw people “running” to the front.

As we were worshipping and praying, I sensed the Holy Spirit powerfully ministering to people in the stadium – I got chills down my back and I could not help but to weep before the Lord. I haven’t felt that kind of corporate anointing for a long time.

This is what we need in the States… this is what we need in our churches. I am praying that God would touch us with His Spirit to empower us to reach the nations.

We have a full session tomorrow with various speakers. I am particularly looking forward to Jack Hayford, a pastor of pastors to speak God’s Word. Then we will be heading out to Jakarta and then I will be flying back to the States. God is truly good!
Reinhard Bonnke Speaking.JPG
Reinhard Bonnke was preaching on the Holy Spirit in front of a crowd of close to 20,000+
Altar Call1.JPG
People were running up to the front to receive prayer – it was the first time seeing so many people run to the altar
Altar Call2.JPG
The front of the stage filled up within 1 or 2 minutes… people were hungry for God’s Presence
People Worshipping.JPG
It was so refreshing to be around people who had a heart of worship – they are 100% sold out on Jesus!

2007 SE Asia Update 9

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We had lunch with a bi-vocational pastor. Pastor Noel grew up with a passion for technology, design and engineering. He was able to combine these passions and talents together to form his own company. Through this company, he is able to engage in the marketplace (the “Commerce” in the CHARGED acronym). He had some powerful testimonies about standing firm for Christ in the marketplace. Oftentimes Christians in the marketplace compromise on biblical values because of fear – fear of losing their job, fear of being ostracized, etc. But when a person honors God, God honors them. Noel is living proof! He is not a small fish in the pond but rather he has worked with Coca-Cola, the World Bank, etc. and with funds running in the multi-millions.

It was good to hear how God was using the marketplace filled with Christ’s followers to make a difference for the Kingdom.

Then we met with Dr. Herbert Tan, a staff member at Campus Crusade for Christ. It was a unique introduction because one of our Malaysian members’ mother knew him from a young age. Therefore, it was an indirect contact, but we had a great conversation with him. He was able to share his experiences and lessons from many years of ministry. I found out that he graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (my alma mater) and then did further studies at Northwestern University (where we recently planted a church), so we were able to connect instantly.

The college campuses in Malaysia have their unique challenges but the opportunities are numerous. There is a growing population in the international community as well. The harvest is truly plentiful… we now need to start praying for the workers.

Tomorrow morning, Pastor Paul and I will be heading out to Surabaya, Indonesia. There is a Holy Spirit World Conference where many people in the region will gather for renewal and revival. Bethany Church in Surabaya will be hosting it. The church is quite a marvel to see. I have heard that it is like a huge stadium and to see a church of this size in Indonesia is only because of God’s power. We are excited to see what God is going to do.
Pastor Noel.JPG
Pastor Noel is making a difference in the marketplace

2007 SE Asia Update 8

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I spent some time reflecting this morning. I was just humbled by meeting Pastor Eu Hong Seng yesterday. He is the senior pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle which has been in existence for about 25 years. They started with the youth (young high school and college students) and now they have a vibrant community of people who love the Lord and love one another.

He is involved in the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship. They are trying to be the evangelical voice in Malaysia. It is powerful to see how they are uniting together to fight the ruling on the Lina Joy case, which was world news. They came together to write up a formalized statement. He is also involved in and the Evangelical Charismatic Churches of Malaysia, which is an association of like-minded churches to build up the local church.

Several things I concluded:

1) Good leadership makes good churches – it was awesome to see some of their top tier people in action (they were hosting the conference we attended). All the staff members were eager to help us and even willing to spend time with “foreigners” like us. I have been a firm believer that these kinds of attitudes do not come automatically. They have to be trained. There is a saying, “Just spend time with some of the leaders of the organization and you will know the heart of the leader.” Even though we didn’t spend much time with the lead pastor, just by spending time with the other staff members, I got a glimpse of their church.

2) Sacrifice is always the seed for great things – it was humbling to hear about the level of sacrifice the church members made in order to buy the land and build the facility. They were sharing stories about how people were down-sizing (selling their big homes to buy smaller ones) and giving the difference as an offering. People took out mortgages and even sold things to help the church. They are now in the process of building a community center and a health center to bless the nation.

3) Working together makes a bigger splash
– since Malaysia is not the easiest place to share the Gospel, they realized that if they work together with other churches they will be able to make a bigger difference. There is something about a unified voice calling out in the wilderness than a lone voice – it is just louder. It was encouraging to see how they were working together with other people and churches to build God’s Kingdom.

4) Big dreams and visions have to come from God – the staff members were telling us that their pastor is constantly stretching them with new visions and revelations. It seems like as soon as they accomplish one milestone, they are endeavoring in another one. They trust in their pastor to hear from the Lord and then share with the rest of the church. It truly has to be a God thing because they are doing some incredible things in this area. I think about that phrase that says, “Attempt something so great for God that it is doomed for failure unless God is in it.”

5) Outside of the box thinking brings innovation – it is great to meet people who have a “can-do” mentality. Since the government would not allow the church to build, they went outside of the box and decision to gather the business people together to start up a new business. Then the business is free (have the legal right) to lease it out to whomever they choose to lease it out to. I was thinking there would have been so many churches who would have given up but this kind of crisis caused them to think outside of the box.

As I am seeing more and more people (and churches) like this, it is causing me to do two things: 1) Be thankful for the people that we have in our churches because we do have people who reflect these traits and 2) pray that God would continue to raise up more people like this as well as sustain those who are living with this Kingdom perspective.
Pastor Eu Hong Seng.JPG
We grabbed a quick picture with Pastor Eu Hong Seng