Influencing Through Writing

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Vision

I have been trying to encourage a lot of our members to find avenues to influence the world for Jesus Christ. Sometimes people have a hard time trying to figure out how they can incorporate their gifts, skill sets, purpose, and passions together. Some people think there is an oxymoron when it comes to being in the secular world and making a difference for Jesus Christ.

Now, if we are constantly bashing people with the “turn or burn” message (albeit it is a true message and it has to be preached at times), then it might repel people rather than attract them to Christ.

It always helps to remember the imago dei principle when it comes to missions, evangelism and influence. Since we are all made in the “image of God” there are some inherent truths or principles that are common to all people. One good example is the desire to make a difference in someone else’s life. This desire points to the importance principle of significance. We all want to feel significance in what we do with our lives, whether you are a Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu or Christian.

Therefore, when we are able to speak to people on this level, then they will inquire about what “makes us tick.” The opportunities will be endless.

One of our members, who is helping to direct the Transformasphere Movement, just recently got accepted to be a writer for the Next Billion movement. They are an organization that focuses on how businesses can bring positive social and environmental change in low-income communities. Their goal is “to promote the development and implementation of business strategies that open opportunities and improve quality of life for the world’s four billion low-income producers and consumers.”

Wait a minute. Isn’t this what the church should be doing because we are driven by the Gospel which is to be brought to all peoples?

We want to continue to raise up people who will be ready to transform the world. It is encouraging when I hear of guys in our church who are on the frontlines making that difference.

You can check out our member’s profile here.

Also his first blog post making a difference in the blogosphere is here

Praise Night 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various

 
Praise Night 08.02.01.jpg
 
 
 
I am looking forward to our annual Praise Night coming up tomorrow. This year we decided to do something different. Usually we have one big praise night for the whole church, but since our church is growing and the number of small groups wanting to participate is large, we are going to have two smaller venue Praise Nights. The focus will be more towards the Undergraduates and the Graduate students. We are also going to have it according to the various areas around campus – Hill area and Central area.

But one thing that will not change is the purpose and the focus of Praise Night. Over the years we have seen Praise Nights as an avenue to boast about what God is doing in the various small groups. But it has been a great avenue for people to invite their friends to witness how great our God is. There are times when God speaks to people not only through the preaching of His Word through the pastor, but through the preaching of God’s character through the arts and media.

There are so many Gospel topics and themes that when a small group is able to display God’s heart (His love, forgiveness, grace, patience, mercy, and etc) people are moved. In fact, there have been many people who started to come out to our small group ministry and even our church after the Praise Nights.

But the best part of the night is the time of praise at the end of all the presentations. After getting all the glimpses of God’s character through the presentations, now people are able to give worth to the One that is truly deserving of all the praise, glory and honor.

The 4Ever

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

There has been something brewing in my mind and heart recently. I was thinking about what it meant to be completely surrendered to God. I think in some of our honest moments, we will have to say that we are not fully and completely surrendered to God, as we would like to think or believe.

I look at some of the things that I do not want to give up. I see my heart desiring things that can easily lead to idolatry. As I get older, there is a greater longing for comfort and security. Sometimes it is so discouraging to see how far we have strayed from the earlier stages of our Christian journey. There was a time when we were willing to lay down everything for Christ and the Gospel.

It is easy to rationalize and excuse ourselves by saying that back then we were immature, young and idealistic when we made those kinds of commitments of surrender. But is it really about immaturity or being too idealistic?

Maybe the reality is that our hearts have grown old; and we are not as pure in our love and devotion to God as before. Yes, life gets more complicated. Yes, life gets harder. Yes, life gets busier. But have we have put our selfishness, security and significance ahead of Christ and the call that God has given us to take up our cross and follow Him.

The more I was pondering upon these things, the more I was convicted about a simple test to see where we are when it comes to the topic of surrender. It is easy to “think” we are surrendered or willing to be surrendered, but we are able to find out exactly where we are by answering four simple questions. The way we answer these questions will truly reveal our hearts.

I have decided to call them the “Four-Evers” (pun intended). This is a sermon in the making. The four “ever” – 1) WhatEVER, 2) WherEVER, 3) WhenEVER, 4) WhichEVER

1) WhatEVER – Are we willing to do “whatever” God wants us to do, even when it does not fully make sense? The bigger question is: Are we willing to fully trust God with our future? Try to ask this question to people who are ambitious and see how they will respond. Ask this question to a single adult who have hopes and dreams about getting married. When we have our own ideas of how things “should be” then it is very difficult to say to God, “Whatever you want me to do Lord, I will do it.”

 

2) WherEVER – Are we willing to go “wherever” God wants us to go, even when it is a place that we do not like or even expect? Once again, the question is: Are we willing to trust God and not be dependent on a place or a situation? We all long for security, which in turn causes us to be in a place where things are “safe.” When we start to dictate to God where it is that He should place us then we have disqualified ourselves from the race.

3) WhenEVER – Are we willing to do things “whenever” God tells us to them? Isn’t life about God’s timetable rather than our own? God’s timing is impeccable. How many times have we messed things up because we wanted something “now” or delayed in our obedience because we wanted something “later?” There is nothing more that reveals a self-centered heart than when things are not in our own prescribed timetable. When things do not happened when we want them to, we either take matters into our own hands or we just give up.

4) WhichEVER – Are we willing to follow “whichever” method or approach that God has for us to accomplish His will? Life is full of options. On one hand it is a good thing, but then on the hand it causes us to start dictating to God how things “ought to be” done. It is amazing how so many of us write out a laundry lists of things that we want God to do for us. We also put so many stipulations. We something get this idea that it is our “prerogative” and our “right” to see things happen the way we envision things to turn out. But how many times have we come to the conclusion that if God did things our way, we would have really been in a mess. Aren’t we thankful that we followed God’s leading and God’s approach to things?

How did you do on this test?

These are the four “evers” that I will have to constantly ask myself when it comes to the issue of surrender. For some reason, as I am getting older these questions have greater weight. The decisions I make now have greater consequence because it affects more people. But ultimately, I want to be able to answer all these questions with an affirmative “yes” not because it is good for me but it brings glory and honor to God.

C. S. Lewis in his book, Beyond Personality describes the exchange between the self-will and God’s will – in essence the art of surrendering. He writes, “Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your money and so much of your work – I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self instead. In fact I will give you myself, my own will shall become yours.”

Andrew Murray in his book, Absolute Surrender writes, “The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.”

God is writing the story of our lives. When we are absolutely surrendered to Him, it is going to be a masterpiece and we are going to be left amazed.

Slowing Down

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday night, I was taking the laundry hamper downstairs and then I stepped on some books that my kids left on the staircase. It was an incredible mini-flight in the air and then I landed on my back.

This morning my derriere and lower back was a bit sore. I had to take it easy today. Thank God for even these moments. It helps me to slow down a bit to reflect. I am looking at it as a “time out” but I want to get back in the game soon.

Chicago Trip Update 01.28.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Since I am not going to Chicago every weekend, my traveling woes are less frequent. But for some reason I cannot avoid some of these delays. Maybe God is trying to teach me patience :-)

After landing in Chicago on Saturday night, I had a strange craving for Chicago deep dish pizza. So, Pastor Jimmy and I headed out to Lou Malnati’s and we ended up just talking until the placed closed. It was good to catch up on things.

It was encouraging to see the Chicago church the week after the retreat. God is still sustaining some of the blessings from the retreat and they are pressing forward in this new quarter. After I preached the sermon, I really sensed that God wanted to minister to people; therefore we had some praying for one another. There is something about helping people see themselves as “ministers of the Gospel” and creating avenues for them to minister to one another.

Then I hung out at a Caribou Café on the UIC campus. I can’t believe that things have changed so much down here. It is really becoming an awesome campus-city place. Once again, if we reach this campus we are going to be able to reach the community and the great city of Chicago.

The UIC campus meeting went well as we are trying to listen to God’s voice regarding what He wants us to do here. We spent some good time in prayer and asking God to win this campus for His glory. Then after a meeting at a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts, I finally got home and got knocked out.

Then early this morning we had our phone conference with the staff. It is always good to be on this side of the phone conference and see the Chicago staff face-to-face. Now, I am at home in Ann Arbor spending some quality time with the family. I am privileged to do what I love and what I am passionate about… I couldn’t ask for anything more. God is truly good.

Someone to Die For

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Liam Allard Lives.jpg
 
 
 
I have stated many time before that the reason why so many movies, which cause us to cry and move us emotionally, inspire us is because they somehow reflect some aspect of the Gospel message.

It is not only in the movies but in real life, when we are able to see characteristic traits of the Gospel, it inspired us. I was reading a news story the other day and it almost brought me to tears. It is a story of a mother who gave up her own life so that her premature baby would survive.

Lorraine Allard found out four months into her pregnancy that she had advance stages of cancer. All her doctors advised her to terminate the fetus (by the way, I know that this is the “official” medical terminology but it gives more dignity to human life if we use the term “unborn baby”) that was 23 weeks old so that she can start chemotherapy immediately.

She was in a dilemma. She could not have both. She had to either choose to abort this baby growing in the womb, so she can start treatment for her cancer or she delays the treatment in order to give the baby an opportunity to survive.

Lorraine made a choice.

She decided to hold off on the chemotherapy long enough to give her unborn son an opportunity to survive. She finally had a C-section and delivered Liam who weighed in at 1 pound and 11 ounces.

Then two weeks after the delivery, Lorraine went through chemotherapy, but she could not fight the cancer and ended up passing away three weeks after giving birth.

Afterwards Lorraine’s husband, Martyn shared about how she told him before the birth of Liam, “If I am going to die, my baby is going to live.” Now Martyn is left with his three daughters and little Liam. He added by saying, “When Liam is old enough, I won’t tell him that Lorraine gave her life for him but I will say she made sure he had a good chance of life. She told me she didn’t want him to feel bad about it.”

Sacrifice. Selflessness. Steadfast.

Where do we find these kinds of people? How are these character traits developed in a person? It is so humbling to think that someone would do this for another person. It moves us and cause us to be amazed.

Isn’t this the Gospel message?

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro 5:6-8).

Can you imagine what God can do if we develop and see more of these types of people in our HMCC community?

You can read the story here.
 
 
 
Lorraine Allard and Baby.jpg
 
One of the last times Lorraine got to hold Liam

Changes in Indonesia

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Today in Jakarta, the former president of Indonesia, Mr. Suharto passed away from multi-organ failure at the age of 86. This is pretty big news in light of some of the things that happened during his 32-year presidency. Some people have labeled him as a dictator and charged him with corruption. Others have spoken somewhat positively of him in light of the fact that he is credited with bringing Indonesia out of economic chaos into relative prosperity.

I am reminded of how his presidency ended with the riots that occurred in Jakarta back in May 1998 (some call it the Indonesian 1998 Revolution). The interesting part of the riots is that it was started on the college campuses.

This is another reminder for me that many revolutions have started on college campuses around the world, therefore the need to reach the campuses to reach nations is great.

Indonesia has a population of 235 million people (4th largest in the world) with roughly 700 ethnic groups spread over 17,500 islands. This is becoming one of the greatest harvest fields. I am praying that God will raise up people from our church who will go and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Here are various news outlets regarding Suharto’s death:

The New York Times article

The Washington Post

Newsweek

Josiah’s B-Ball Tourney

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

This morning Josiah had a basketball tournament and they ended up coming in 2nd place. It is the heart’s desire for every parent to see their kids have more playing time, but we have to always remind ourselves that it is always about the team.

Since this is his first year playing organized basketball as a 5th grader, I know that he will gradually improve. After the tournament, we talked about ways in which he can improve and develop as a player. I am confident that he will get better because he has the sports sensibility and the athletic aptitude.

As a parent, sometimes it is hard not to get antsy in some of the close games. The worst part for me is that I always want to jump in the game and play… HAHA!

But it brings me great joy to see him playing the game because for the love of the game… which is the most important thing.
 
 
 
JoJo 08 B-Ball Decision.jpg
 
JoJo (#2) deciding what to do with the ball
 
 
 
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The ball is up in the air

Cutting EDGE

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

This week, after the retreat, I had some time to think and reflect.

I was thinking, “What do we need to do now in light of the blessings that we have received from the Lord?” Especially, with only 3 months left in this semester.

What we do in these next 3 months will lay a foundation for the summer and even the new year coming up in September. As I spent some time in prayer, the Lord reminded me of some basic principles in the Christian journey that will never change regardless of the place or time. They include such things are growing our relationship with God, sharing our faith, getting discipled and building one another up.

If we engage in some of these basic things, then we will see a strong church that is ready to make a splash for God’s Kingdom. I, then put these components into an acronym the EDGE… like in “cutting edge.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “cutting edge” as, “the position of greatest advancement or importance; the forefront.” As we live out these principles we will be in the forefront and ready to advance forward for God.

Once again, if we want to be on the “cutting EDGE” for the Lord for the rest of this year, then we need to focus on:

E – Evangelism
D – Discipleship
G – Growing Spiritually
E – Edification

Gender Differences in a Car Ride

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

Yesterday I spent the whole day with the women in our family (Christina and KiKi). Christina and I picked up KiKi from school and to see the joy on KiKi’s face was worth it all. After getting her buckled in, I asked her how school was and she would not stop talking!

This got me thinking because whenever I ask the boys about their school days, I get one word answers.

The conversations go something like this:

Dad: So guys, how was school?
Boys: Good.
Dad: Uh, just good?
Boys: Yeah.
Dad: Did anything interesting happen?
Boys: No.
Dad: No? Well, did you guys at least learn some interesting things?
Boys: Not really. (side note, at least they said 2 words)

The conversation with Karissa yesterday went something like this:

Dad: So…. How was school?
KiKi: Daddy, you know what?
Dad: What?
KiKi: Friend A was being mean.
Dad: Why?
KiKi: Well, daddy, Friend A didn’t want to play with Friend B and Friend C. She said that she didn’t want to be our friend.
Dad: Oh really? So what did you do?
KiKi: Well, I told Friend A that if she doesn’t want to be our friend then we will not be her friend. So we told the teacher that Friend A did not want to play with Friend B and Friend C.
Mom: Well, we can’t be friends with everybody so don’t worry about it just focus on doing your work.
Dad: Yeah girl… stay focus on your mission – doing your work.

Oh the joys of having a girl in the family! Researchers are saying that women speak roughly 25,000 words per day while men speak about 10,000 words per day. From my car rides with the kids, I believe it! Maybe this is one gender difference we just need to accept.

The Campus Blog Update

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It has been exciting to hear and read about what God is doing in our undergraduate ministry. We have always been stressing the importance of this ministry. It has always been our “bread and butter.” It is a vital component of the greater vision of transformation – if we reach the campus, we will reach the community; if we reach the community, we will reach the city; if we reach the city, we will reach the nations.

The leaders of the campus ministry put up a post regarding a person who came to know the Lord through the retreat. The testimony is very encouraging. If you want to check it out, click here.

Try to visit the campus blog often because they are planning to put up more posts, especially with all the happenings on the campus of University of Michigan. God is truly on the move and we just want to be faithful in following Him.

The Amazing Band

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

One of my pastor friends, Dave Lee from Harvest Community Church in Chicago is a YouTube master and monster. He is able to find some of the craziest video on the world-wide web. It is insane! Either he has too much time on his hands or he is desperately looking for sermon illustrations :-)

But anyways, he sent me this video of the “Amazing Machine.” Who needs a band when you have a machine like this? It just needs some singers. It would have been cool if this machine was able to play some worship songs.

Check it out.
 
 

L3 Update – 01.23.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

The Leadership Lesson Luncheons (L3) have been going well. I have been enjoying my time with some of the undergraduates in our church as we brown bag our lunch and talk about issues relevant to leadership. There is no better context for me than having college students who are hungry to learn about leadership principles.

Yesterday we talked about the 5th principle in leadership which was “Initiation.” All leaders love progress, therefore they are always willing to go through change. This takes initiation. Passivity kills and it will hinder us from reaching our destiny. In order to take initiation to bring forth change, it will require courage. We need more people of courage in our generation.

We are looking forward to our next gathering in 2 weeks.

Faithfulness in Small Things

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Today I sort of took a half day from work (ministry), even though I had a lot of things to do. I realized that it is so easy to get excited about ministry and transforming the world, but when it comes to some of the little things around the house it can become very tedious (bottom line is that it does not invigorate me).

But I have been teaching some of my disciples this principle – responsibility is not about feelings but about obedience. There are a lot of things in life that we might not really like doing but we still have to do it anyways because it is part of our responsibility.

Therefore, today I mounted a small mirror in the hallway, put up two pictures in the family room and then fixed the underside of Christina’s car, which by the way, I ruined up by running over a rock – well, a big rock. Then I went to the tire store to get my front two tires replaced.

These kinds of things always test my heart. Can I be just as excited about doing these things as I am about preaching? Can I be just as faithful in doing these things as I am about meeting up with people?

It really hit home for me today when Christina said, “When you take care of these things for me and the family, it shows that you love us and care for us.” I realized how moronic and self-centered I was when I complained about not having enough time or not taking the initiative in taking care of these things. One important ministry in my life is to my family and I want to do it well with the help of God’s grace.