Sixth Year Anniversary of 9/11

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

It is hard to believe that it has been 6 years since the 9/11 attacks. With the busyness of life it is easy to forget. But today as I was driving my kids to school, when I heard the song, I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. They added a montage of various recordings of actual conversations of people during the 9/11 tragedy and various snippets of speeches by people and the president. For some reason it made me cry. It was very powerful. I was thinking about all the Christians who are now with the Father. Who would have ever imagined that it was going to be their last day here on earth?

Also, as I was walking into the elevator of the parking structure, I was struck with the memory of first hearing the news about the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers. In fact it was the same elevator where a man asked me if I have heard the news. I remember going to the office and checking the news websites and seeing some of the pictures and then calling Christina.

In the wake of the 6th anniversary of 9/11 Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda have produced a video with a stern rebuke towards Americans. For some reason it got me thinking especially with some of the things that he said on the tape.

Bin Laden was giving the Americans “the solution” to the war in Iraq and all our woes. He said that there are only two things that could end the war – “One is from our side, and it is to escalate the fighting and killing against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out. The second solution is from your side… I invite you to embrace Islam.”

Hmm… embrace Islam? That kind of sounds very evangelistic.

What stuck out for me was the difference, even though both Christians and Muslims seek to “evangelize.”

Christ calls Christians to love. I am still trying to find the consistency of jihads and terrorizing people with the Muslims mandate to love.

The Gospel does not need to be forced on people – irresistible grace will call out to people as the Gospel is preached. But if we don’t “embrace Islam” more acts of terror will occur? Hmm.

Christ is alive. Prophet Muhammed is dead. Bin Laden is mortal and will die one day.

Sometimes the differences tell it all. All religions talk about reaching up to God by good works, but Christianity is the only religion that says there is no way to reach up to God, therefore God reached down to us. Amazing grace.

A New Velocity

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

As this new school year started, we have added a junior school ministry to our church. It is hard to believe that what started off just as a college focused church has now expanded to various other ministries. This is truly a testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness.

Within the month of August we were racking our brains to come up with a new name for this ministry. I have been teaching in our church the importance of names. I did a teaching one time about how “our name is our destiny.”

We began to go back to our junior high days and tried (really, really) hard to remember some of the things that we went through; and finally we decided to name the junior high ministry “Velocity.”

Various dictionaries define “velocity” as, “the speed at which something moves or happens; the rate of change in the position of an object as it moves in a particular direction.”

When we go back to our junior high days, there were so many things that came at us in high speeds – puberty, peer pressure, identity formation, friendships, etc. I still remember some of the mistakes I made during this time. I wish I had a Christian background to keep me rooted but that was not the case for me. It was only after a series of events that I got introduced to church and received Christ at the end of the summer of my 8th grade as I was heading into high school.

This is one reason why I am passionate about having a good junior high ministry in our church. It can really change the destiny of people. With so many things bombarding the teenagers at high speeds, we are praying that the direction of their lives will be transformed with the Gospel message. We are praying that “the rate of change in the position of an object as it moves in a particular direction” will be God-centered and transformed to live for the glory of God.

Big props to our servants who are helping out with this ministry as well as with Latitude, our high school ministry. We are definitely changing the destiny of the next generation.

Missions at Every Life Stage

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

It was a blessing to see the single adults in the FOCUS ministry and the high school students in our Latitude ministry give their missions update. It has always been a dream of ours to see every single person in our church, regardless of their life stage to get involved somehow in missions.

This was the first time we sent out a whole team of high school students as well as a whole team of single adults. Last year we sent a married couples missions team and we are now in the process of going on another one in 2008.

We are envisioning a time when there will be a family missions trip… of course it might have to look a little different than our college missions trip, since there will be children involved. But we are excited about the progress and the prospects.

Next week we will hear from the India and China missions teams. I can’t wait to hear some of the awesome stories of God’s faithfulness.

Once again, I want to thank all of you who prayed and supported through your finances. The partnership in the Gospel has been a really blessing. We are never going alone, but rather there is a whole church that is sending the teams.

Congregation Meeting Sept 07

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Tomorrow we will have our congregational meeting with all our covenant signing members in our church. I really look forward to these meetings because I have the opportunity to share about the current situation in our church and even cast some vision for the coming year. It is kind of like the State of the Union Address.

We are going to look back to a lot of things that God has accomplished through us this past year. There will be a lot of “yay God” moments. Then we will look into the future as I share with the members a preview of the 2007-2008 theme. I believe that this year’s theme will help position us to do what God has called us to do for His glory.

We will give some updates on current situation regarding our finances and even our pursuit of future potential church plants. God is doing some exciting things.

I am looking forward to it.

Firstfruits Theology

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

After the staff and I had a discussion on the first-fruits offering, it got me thinking about the validity of it. The first-fruits offering was something that the Israelites practiced in their relationship with God. It was an offering that was to be brought to the Lord in the beginning of the harvest season to express their thankfulness and their trust in God for His Provisions.

In the book of Leviticus and the book of Deuteronomy, we see the instructions for the firstfruits offering (Lev 23:9-14; Dt 26:1-10). It was interesting that no grain was to be harvested until this firstfruits offering was brought to the Lord. The offering helped the Israelites remember their situation in Egypt and how God delivered them and brought them to the land “flowing with milk and honey.” It reminded the people that “every good and perfect gift” comes from above.

Now, fast forward thousands of years. In the New Testament, the firstfruits offering is mentioned a handful of times, but usually in the context of harvesting souls (Ro 16:5; 1 Co 16:15; Jas 1:18). The Apostle Paul does tell the Christians in Corinth, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Co 16:2).

This “setting aside” of resources was for the purpose of giving to God out of gratitude in their hearts. One again, we see the principle “when a person is thankful and trusting in God for their daily provisions, they will naturally want to give and give cheerfully.”

It reminded me of a situation that happens once in awhile in my relationship with Christina. There are times when I run out of the door in the mornings and go through a whole day of various meetings and appointments. By the time we wash up the kids and put them to sleep, I am SO TIRED. The last thing I want to do is talk with someone. But then Christina comes downstairs and asks me to sit down next to her and “chat.”

Now let’s pause here for a moment.

If I get self-centered, selfish and believe that this is “my time” alone, I will not respond in an appropriate manner. If I am not thankful for her and grateful that God has blessed me with an incredible wife, then I will not respond in an appropriate manner. If I do not trust that God will somehow refresh me and give me strength to do what I have to do, then I will not respond in an appropriate manner.

In some ways, allotting some time with Christina becomes my firstfruits to her because I am thankful for her. It expresses my love and devotion to her, especially my commitment to love her unconditionally.

I am wondering what would happen in the church, if every single person had this kind of perspective with their time, talents and treasures in their relationship with God?

As the Apostle Paul said to the people of Corinth, “Remember, the man who plants only a few seeds will not have much grain to gather. The man who plants many seeds will have much grain to gather. Each man should give as he has decided in his heart. He should not give, wishing he could keep it. Or he should not give if he feels he has to give. God loves a man who gives because he wants to give. God can give you all you need. He will give you more than enough. You will have everything you need for yourselves. And you will have enough left over to give when there is a need” (2 Cor 9:6-8, New Life Version).

The Opera Legend

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Today is a sad day. When I checked the news this morning, I found out that Luciano Pavarotti passed away early this morning. He was one of the godfathers of opera.

Music is such a powerful medium to communicate a message. He used his tenor voice to dazzle the crowds, especially with his international crowds. He currently holds two Guinness World Records for receiving the most curtain calls. Do you know how many? One hundred and sixty-five (yup, 165).

Also, in his last performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera on March 13, 2004, Pavarotti received a 12-minute standing ovation for his role as the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.

I don’t know if he was a believer or not, but I was wondering how all the human accolades and ovations might pale in comparison to being in God’s Presence.

This is truly an opera anointing if I ever saw one!

Alumni Network

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

After I got back from my whirlwind summer tour, I was convinced that what we are trying to do here in Ann Arbor is really worth it. God reignited my heart for investing in the alumni who are now making ripples throughout the world.

One morning, I was in Singapore’s airport having an early breakfast with a handful of former members. It was so encouraging to hear some of the things that they were doing for Christ. Then in Indonesia, I was hosted by a former member and her family and it really blessed my heart. I saw how they are trying to live out the principles of transformation in their part of the world. I just got this sense that it will be great to stay connected.

It was from there I was thinking to myself, what it would it be like if more of our graduating members would go back to their hometown or home country and then connect with one another. We would be able to see a movement of transformation with people who have tasted the goodness of God while they were here in Ann Arbor.

Some years back during a graduation weekend, we had a luncheon for a group of graduating seniors (it was the first time we did this). It was at that meeting where I shared the vision of this alumni network all over the world. I gave 5 specific purposes for this network:

1) COMMUNICATION – to be able to keep the church informed about what some of our alumni were doing all over the world. Also, to keep the alumni informed of what is happening here in Ann Arbor.

2) CONNECTION – to be able to connect former members with “new” former members in specific cities and countries. It is always encouraging to be able to tell graduating seniors that there are other former HMCC members in that particular city. I have heard of some great testimonies where the older former members helping out the newbies. This is the HMCC hospitality spirit that is still alive and well.

3) COMMUNITY – to be able to have a greater sense of community with the HMCC family. What we have experienced here in Ann Arbor is unique and it is hard to replicate. In this way, we have shared something special. It will be great to continue to build this world-wide community. It is kind of like the U of M alumni association. I have heard that it is one of the largest and greatest in the world!

4) COOPERATION – to be able to share various resources with one another and also to equip the alumni with materials that can be useful to their ministry no matter where they are. We are in the process of trying to get some materials out to you guys, whether it is bible studies, videos or other resources. It is exciting to build God’s Kingdom together. Therefore if we all jump in the pool together, the splash will be bigger! How fun is that?

5) CHURCH PLANTING – to be able to pray and strategize together to plant churches in various cities and nations. The church is the only organization that can transform the world. It has to be a visible display and a viable demonstration of God’s love. Therefore, we need to continue to plant more life-giving churches all over the world. Especially in international cities where there is a college campus. When we transform a campus, we will transform a community… and when we transform a community, we will transform a city… and when we transform a city, we will transform the world.

I pray that you will be part of the world-wide movement of HMCC alumni that are doing some incredible things. We would love to hear some of your stories and how God is using you to bring transformation in your part of the world.

There are two things we are trying to do right now:

1) Get all the alumni to check out our new website. We are in the process of getting an alumni section in there so that we can connect with one another.

2) Have all the alumni sign-up and update their contact information.

I can’t wait for a big reunion in the future. It is going to be a blast. We will probably laugh together, cry together and give holy high-fives to one another :-)

A Clean Office

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

It was awesome walking into a clean church office this morning, especially my office. The blessing part of this whole thing is that someone anonymously cleaned it. I am trying to dust off fingerprints on the guilty party.

It is such a blessing to lead a church that has people who know how to serve and they do it anonymously. In this world of “getting ahead,” it is encouraging to know that there are some people who take God’s word about giving in secret (Mt 6:3-4) seriously and obey.

In fact, if anyone struggles with pride, try to do something for someone without ever letting anyone find out… pride will die pretty quickly because it will be starved of self-centeredness, self-promotion, and self-adulation.

What a way to start off a week. I am now ready to focus, to dream and to plan things out for the church.

Whoever you are… I lifted up a prayer for God’s blessings in your life today. Thanks… you made my day.

Covenant Retreat 07 Update

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

We just came back from our Covenant Retreat. It was awesome spending time with the other married couples in our church. Our focus for this retreat was on “Oneness.” It is easy for couples to go through their married life without experiencing oneness in their marriage. Emotional oneness, spiritual oneness and physical oneness are things that couples need to experience.

It was interesting because in one of our discussions we started to see the difference between men and women. For women they need emotional oneness in order for them to have oneness on the physical level. But for the men, they need physical oneness in order to have emotional oneness.

With this difference there is a lot of room for misunderstanding and even hurt feelings. This is why starting off with the spiritual oneness really brings a couple together. From the spiritual oneness the emotional and physical come – sometimes at the same time!

The retreat was planned purposefully so that we would have a lot of interactions with one another. We enjoyed outdoor activities with football, ultimate frisbee and organized games such as jump roping. Then in the evening we played this game called, “Bang”. It was truly a hit with the married couples. It is like the card game Mafia but more Christian since we don’t have to lie… haha!

But the best part was when we had each couple come in the middle of the circle and the rest of us surrounded them and lifted them up in prayer – truly memorable.
Retreat07 Jump Roping2.JPG
Men vs. women jump roping contest – the women are elegant and in perfect harmony
Retreat07 Jump Roping1.JPG
The men… well, what can I say. But believe it or not, we won!

Covenant Retreat 2007

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Covenant Retreat07.jpg
Today, the Covenant group, which is our married couples’ group in our church, will be heading out for a retreat. We usually have a great time of just chillin’ and fellowshipping together. Most of the families bring their kids so it is good time even for the kids to play together.

In this retreat, we are going to focus on “oneness” in our marriage. With the busyness of work, raising kids and other activities it is too easy to neglect one another. We want to build up strong marriages so that we can build up strong families, then in turn we will be able to build up strong communities that will transform the world.

New Encounter 2007

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

Yesterday, we had our New Encounter event. It was great seeing all the new students join us for worship experience. We were able to give people a glimpse of our worship style and also share about different aspects of our church, especially our small group ministry.

There was great interaction with one another as we played games and had fellowship with some food that was donated by the married couples in our church. It is always great to see this kind of partnership in our church.

It is my prayer that as more people experience God through our various events and channels, they will come to know this Christ who is worthy of receiving everything that we have, especially our lives.
New Encounter 2007.JPG
I am enjoying the all-sensory worship experience from the back

A Lesson from Heartbreak

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Urgh! A principle that we will constantly be confronted with is – when we get too comfortable or have an over-estimation of ourselves, we will be humbled.

Michigan Wolverines were ranked #5 in the nation and Appalachian State who?!

Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11).

This principle not only applies to football but especially in ministry and our personal relationship with God. May we learn it well.

Now, let me sulk in peace.