MLK 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

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Whenever Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday celebration comes around, I am always reminded about 3 things – the dream, the determination and the destiny.

The infamous speech that was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 encapsulated a dream for the future. What would happen if God’s people would dream more of God’s dreams?

It is hard to imagine the adversity that MLK faced as he was trying to bring change to a nation. No like really likes change. Sometimes people will do anything to stop change. But it never stopped him from being focused on the dream.

The dictionary defines “destiny” as, “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.” It is humbling to know that MLK’s dream, which was the dream of so many people, was not fully realized while he was alive. But this is where we have to believe that he was chosen for that time (kairos moment).

Here are some of his quotes,

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.”

One of my favorites is the one that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave in his letter from a Birmingham jail to pastors in the area in April 16, 1963:

“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. But they went on with the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I am meeting young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.”

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MLK giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech
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I love this picture because you can feel the intensity and the focus

2008 Retreat Reflection

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It has been an awesome 3 days with the church family at Gull Lake. There are a lot of things I am thankful for as I reflect on this historic retreat. First of all, I am thankful that both churches, in Ann Arbor and Chicago were able to come together and worship as one body. Whenever there is unity, God is pleased and He pours out a blessing (Ps 133).

Secondly, I am thankful for many of the families and married couples who came out to this retreat. Even though it was hard watching all the kids, it was encouraging to see some of the families worshipping together.

Third, I am thankful for friendships with people who have kindred hearts. It was refreshing to hear messages on “idolatry,” “dying to self,” “forgiveness,” and being “committed.” In our generation where being a “Christian” is more like an add-on to everything else in our lives, we were reminded that it was a radical call that demanded our whole life.

Fourth, I am thankful for the answered prayers. We prayed for salvation of souls and God brought people into the family of God. We prayed for God to work in people’s lives and we have witnessed people getting ministered unto. We prayed for God to speak to us and God used His Word to put various convictions in our hearts.

Lastly, I am thankful for the people in our church. Especially those people who helped out and worked so hard to make this retreat memorable. We have some of the best people around who love God and who love to be a blessing to other people. Great people make great churches.

Now, as we are back in our “regular” environment, the reality of God’s blessings at this retreat will have to be translated in our spheres of influence on a daily basis.

2008 Winter Congregational Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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The start of the retreat is finally here. It is exciting to hear that this will be one of the highest attended retreats in our church history. We are particularly pumped about having HMCC of Chicago join us. The theme will be “Undivided” – two churches but one community of faith whose hearts desire to be completely devoted to God.

The level of anticipation and expectation is at a level that I haven’t felt for a long time. God is truly faithful even after so many retreats in our church. I get a good feeling that from the first praise song that is lifted up to the last “amen,” God will be revealing His Presence and Power.

I can’t wait to share the testimonies that will be coming forth from this historic retreat.

2008 Married Couples’ Small Group

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It was great breaking fast together yesterday with some of the members in our small group. For some people it was their first time fasting, so it was encouraging to hear that they persevered all the way until the end!

As our married couple population has been growing, we had to split up our groups. Christina and I are leading the Wednesday night group and it has been a great joy for us. Whenever we have an opportunity to invest in people’s lives, we are always thankful.

We are also thankful because this is probably one of the most diverse groups that we have ever had – ethnically, personality, interests, etc. It really is God’s Spirit that is bringing us together… and for this we are blessed.
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Some of the married couples in our church

Retreat 2008 Fasting

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

For the last week and a half, the various small groups have been taking turns in fasting for the Winter Congregational Retreat. There is something about prayer and fasting that brings a church together.

Today is our married couples small group’s turn.

I am always encouraged to see people who are married (especially those who have children) and who are still willing to practice the spiritual discipline of fasting. From my experience, the older a person gets, the harder it is to practice this spiritual discipline.

In some of my past conversation with people, some have mentioned that they fasted in college because they were young and idealistic. Hmm… then the inverse would be… old and pragmatic?

I don’t think fasting should be left for the younger people to practice. In fact, as we get older we should be more humble and realize our greater need and dependence upon God. I am praying that in our church we will never lose our hearts and make excuses for our neglect of the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer.

Michigan Primary 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

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Today, Christina and I went out for our breakfast date and chit-chatted about various things. It is good that we keep on touching base. I realized that in the midst of all our busyness with church and raising kids, it is tempting to make this a lower priority. But by the end of the day, it is these times that strengthen our marriage so that we can give more to our kids and to the Lord’s work. As we were talking, she brought up the fact that since the 11+ years of marriage that we have kept our dates every week (minus the times I was traveling). I am praying that we keep this up until our 50th anniversary.

After breakfast we went into the polling booth to vote in the Michigan Primary. Even though it is just a primary, I really felt it was important for us to vote and fulfill our civil duty. Several weeks ago, I was reminded that there have been many people throughout the U.S. history that died for the freedoms that we have in this country. Also, there was a time when certain minorities were not able to vote, but now we have the freedom and the ability therefore I wanted to make the most of it.

Overall, if we are going to seriously engage the various spheres of society, then we cannot ignore the “G” (Government and politics) in the Transformasphere Movement. This coming presidential election is going to be unique. I pray that we will look at all the issues and make an informed and wise choice for who will be leading out country.

Winter Retreat 2008 Prayers

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Starting tonight, we are going to have our nightly prayer gatherings for the Winter Retreat.

A life lesson that I have learned over the years is: Prayer is a priority for preparation.

Whenever there is a hunger for prayer amongst God’s people, then it is a pretty good sign that God wants to do something powerful. When God, in His Sovereignty, wants to do something in a person’s life or in a community of faith one of the things that He puts in the hearts of people is for the need of prayer. I am sensing there is a lot of momentum as people have been gathering together to just pray for this retreat.

We have been praying all throughout the last couple of weeks and now we are going to focus in our prayers with our nightly prayer gatherings. More than just going to a meeting, I am praying that God would visit us in a powerful way and reveal His heart to us.

We will continue to pray for the prayer cards all throughout this week.

If you have not signed up for the retreat, there is still some time but time is ticking away quickly. You can check out the promo video here.

Comparisons to the Sports’ World

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

I have always been an advocate for drawing illustrations from the sports world. In fact, the Apostle Paul uses many sports illustrations to make a biblical point (1 Co 9:24-27; Gal 2:2; 5:7; Php 2:16; 2 Ti 2:5; 4:7). Thank God for ESPN!

The other day there was an interesting article in the Michigan Daily. There was an announcement about some top players from the Michigan football team who planned on leaving the program. Adrian Arrington, Mario Manningham and Ryan Mallett – they all failed to show up for an important team meeting.

Do you think Rich Rodriguez, the new coach was upset?

Well, maybe not so much about them not coming back, but the fact that they missed the team meeting and that they did it without honor and integrity (Arrington sent a text message, Mario did not say anything, and Mallet just did not show up… did I mention that Mallet is a freshman… ha!).

In fact, we learn a handful of lessons from this incident:

1) People in leadership always have to make tough calls, even the ones that people don’t like. This is something I have always believed in. Sometimes this is one of the reasons why being a leader is a lonely role to play. Rodriguez is looking to the future and he is going to have to make tougher calls to achieve the greater goal. I applaud him for this. It gives me great hope that we are going to have a great rebuilding year.

2) People do not like transitions or change. It is human nature to keep up the status quo. We love comfort and security. Therefore, anything that threatens it then we will do everything within our powers to fight it. But without change we will never get to a higher level. We should always be growing and changing for the better, no matter how painful it might be or how high the cost might be. The spread offensive is going to change things up in the Big Ten (look at Juice Williams at U. of I.).

3) We are always doing what is best for ourselves. Mario and Adrian probably thought a lot about the transition that was coming up with Coach Rodriguez taking the lead. The spread offensive does not help wide receivers to have a lot yards and in turn increase their stats (they are 1st and 2nd in receptions and touchdowns for Michigan respectively). Therefore, the obvious choice is to try to turn pro by entering the NFL draft. If they transfer then it might be harder. In the words of Rodriguez in an interview, he said, “Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made decisions they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early, and we certainly wish them well.” In the same way, Mallet is making plans to transfer to another school. With the reality of trying to go towards the spread offense and even recruit the No. 1 high school prospect, Terrelle Pryor, Mallet knows that he doesn’t have a chance at success in Michigan. Do you blame him?

4) We need more team players in this world. Sometimes being a star on a team always appears better, but talk with Kevin Garnett about his years on the Timberwolves compared to this year with the Celtics. Superstars cannot win championships by themselves. Talk with Michael Jordon and he might give us some insights to this as well (by the way, who the heck is John Paxson and Steve Kerr).

5) We sometimes think we are better than we really are and in due time there will be something that will reveal that truth. Mallett came to Michigan as a top rank prospect and was on his way to becoming a good quarterback in Michigan. Just in his few handful of games he threw 7 touchdowns, not bad for a freshmen. But is he that good? Did I mention that he had 5 interceptions with those 7 touchdowns? Time and time again, history reminds us about people who had an over-estimation of themselves. Even Alan Branch, who was expected to be a top-10 pick in last year draft was not taken until the 2nd round and struggled in his rookie season. You get a hint of his over-estimation in this ESPN interview. The Bible does not lie. Pride (over-estimation of ourselves) is always the beginning of our downfall.

How do these 5 points parallel with the church?

1) Pastors and leaders cannot be afraid of making tough calls even if that means that they will not be liked very much. Our hearts should always be set on pleasing God rather than men (Ac 5:29).

2) Pastors and leaders always have to lead transitions and change. If we don’t, then who will? This is why leaders need to receive revelation from the Lord and grow in their intimacy with God. As they know the heart of God, then they will have to lead the charge by mobilizing the people to do something that they would not do for themselves (the Book of Nehemiah).

3) We need to always examine our hearts. As we are serving God, it is easy to start developing a self-serving attitude. If we are always making decisions based on “what is good for me?” then we have already cross this line of compromise. We will start making things more about us rather than God’s Glory and His Kingdom. Please don’t misunderstand me. There are times we have to discern and do what God is calling us to do, which might be interpreted as selfish or doing our own thing. But I have always told people the final conclusion should be to look at their life a few years afterwards and see what they have become (Mt 7:16-20). To die to ourselves and our ambitions is one of the hardest tasks for a leader.

4) We have to remember that we are always part of a team. There is no Christian or one church that can do everything (1 Co 12). This is why it is important to learn how to partner together for building God’s Kingdom. In this process, there are times when we might not take the lead role. But does it matter, especially when we are winning spiritual championships? When souls are being saved? When lives are being transformed? Regardless of who receives the credit, things should always be directed to God at the end (1 Ti 1:17; Rev 4:10)

5) We always have to be humble. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ro 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” We, as Christ-followers need more sobriety. Why is it that we always start off very humble but then as we experience some successes, we forget where we came from? Do you think King Saul would have done things differently if he had another chance? This is why the Apostle Paul who had every reason to boast in himself adamantly said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Ti 1:15-16).

We, at HMCC want to raise up a championship team, who will win championship for Jesus Christ. It is not going to be easy, but if we have the right players with the right attitude, then we will get there by God’s grace.

Prayer Cards for the Winter Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

We had a great time of prayer at our church-wide prayer gathering yesterday. It was the first time we implemented the corporate prayer cards that many of our members have filled out in their small groups. At first, it was exciting to see all the prayer cards with various prayer requests. It was also encouraging to see so many of you lifting up prayers for your fellow members.

Today, during our staff meeting, we spent some time praying for the cards as well. But, for some reason as I was looking over the prayer cards, I felt overwhelmed. It was a bit humbling to realize that there are so many needs in our church.

The needs that were shared reminded me of the fact that we have people from all walks of life and things affect them in different ways. This puts a greater burden in my heart for prayer – only God’s power can touch them and transformed them. I have been praying for greater faith.

For the next six days we are going to blanket the retreat in prayers. I can’t wait to see all the ways in which God is going to work and answer the prayer request.

I am hoping that this process is going to not only prepare us for the winter retreat but increase our level of faith. As we pray for people and as we receive prayer, there will be an increase of expectation.

The Unexplainable Witness

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

I first heard the news of the December 9th shooting at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs on the internet when I was in Malaysia. It was pretty shocking to hear that a gunman walked in to the church after one of the services and starting shooting.

But over the years, I have learned that God always turns tragedy into a triumph. We know that this is His track record when we read the Bible and even when we look at the cross.

This is why I was so encourage to read that the parents of the gunman and the parents of the two teenaged girls who were killed “met and hugged and cried.”

On January 3rd the parents met together. The lead pastor of New Life Church, Brady Boyd invited the Murrays (the gunman’s parents) to come to visit the church. The Murrays readily accepted the invitation and was given a tour of where the rampage happened.

First of all, I was a bit surprised that this kind of story was on CNN. But then again, it made sense because it is big news. How in the world can anyone forgive when they have gone through a tragedy? It must be a love of another kind. This is what draws people to find out, especially news reporters.

I am wondering what would happen if the people in the Church really lived out the Gospel message of forgiveness. It will definitely be an unexplainable witness that will cause people to find out more. Maybe our greatest avenue of witness is not the big programs and events but simply by forgiveness and reconciliation. How is our witness?

Pastor Brady Boyd said, “[It was the] highlight of my ministry. It made me evaluate my own life and think, ‘Is there anyone I’m not forgiving?’ I’ve never seen repentance and forgiveness as profound as I did that day.”

The Murrays in a written statement said, “The depth of our sorrow and our grief is greater than we could possibly describe. But with thanks to God, these remarkable families and their pastors and churches, healing and reconciliation have begun.”

You can read the whole CNN story here.

Thoughts on “Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visuals

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Ever since 1996, we have been trying to build a multi-ethnic church here in Ann Arbor. To be honest, I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know that it was going to be this hard. Human nature tells us that we like things are comfortable and easy; and building a multi-ethnic church is neither comfortable nor easy.

But the more we continued to search the Scriptures we resolutely decided that we want to experience a glimpse of heaven here on earth as we see people from every language and nation gathered together to worship the King of Kings.

With no disrespect to “ethnic” churches, I really feel like there is something more powerful when the world sees a church that is diverse ethnically and culturally. This realization hit home for me again when I was in Chicago last month. During the Christmas season our family went back to Chicago to visit our extended families. Christina and I decided to take our kids to a famous breakfast place (the kind of place where you have to wait hours to be seated).

When we were finally seated, I couldn’t help but to notice that in our section of the restaurant (we were placed in a back room) how diverse the people. But the problem was that we were all sitting in clusters. The White folks had their table. The black folks were right behind us. The Latino folks were at two tables in front of us. Then you had the Asian folks (us). I couldn’t help but to observe (a favorite pastime of mine) how diverse this room was but yet how separated we were. It was hard to explain but it just made me think about the Church.

In the secular world it is expected that there is prejudice and racism since their worldview does not necessary dictate the belief of the imago dei. But to see it in the church, it makes you wonder if we are not different that people who have not experience the Gospel of Jesus.

I brought up the observation with Christina and asked her, “what would it be like if we all were inter-mingled and we genuinely loved each other even though we are all so different?” (I was so tempted to stand up and share my observations with all of the 30 or 35 people in that room).

This is why this book really struck a chord with me. Pastor Mark DeYmaz shared their journey, both personally and as a church, in trying to become a multi-ethnic church. He starts off by rooting everything in Scripture with the prayer of Jesus for unity in John 17. Then he moved towards the Book of Acts.

DeYmaz lists 7 core commitments which are crucial in building a healthy multi-ethnic church. They are:

1) Embrace Dependence – knowing that unity is a supernatural work of the Spirit and otherwise contradictory to the natural ways and means of man.


2) Take Intentional Steps – to establish and maintain a multi-racial church in which no single racial group represents more than 80% of the congregation.


3) Empower Diverse Leadership – at all levels of leadership throughout the church.


4) Develop Cross-Cultural Relationships – with others of their church outside of Sunday morning.


5) Pursue Cross-Cultural Competence – beyond mere awareness of or sensitivity to other cultures different than their own.


6) Promote a Spirit of Inclusion – integrating diverse cultural forms and expressions of faith into the corporate worship experience.


7) Mobilize for Impact – acting upon their unique credibility and possibilities for extending the love of God to all people, both at home and abroad, in pursuit of social justice and spiritual transformation.

These are core components that HMCC has to continue to recommit to on a regular basis. Even the road is long and difficult, it is just more fun eating pancakes and corn beef hash with people who represent a face of heaven in the future.

You can check out Pastor Mark DeYmaz’s blog for some more insights.

The “H” in the Transformasphere Movement

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Vision

Last month there was a World AIDS Day on December 1st. It just reminded me of the importance of the Church being in the forefront and the frontlines of trying to show the compassion of Jesus. As many people have said, “AIDS is like the modern day leprosy of Jesus’ time.”

This is one of the key reasons why we have started to engage in the whole Transformasphere Movement as a church. If we are able to engage in the Health Care sphere, then we will be able to visible display and a viable demonstration of God’s love to people who feel alone, abandon and ache.

Check out this video that our video team made which depicts the reality of this pandemic.

First L3 Gathering for 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

The Leadership Lesson Luncheon yesterday was great. We had our biggest group – about 30 students came out to discuss and dialogue on leadership topics. The topic of “Implementation” was discussed. All great leaders know how to implement things in their lives and in their organization. It really comes down to priorities. People who are focused and passionate about what they are doing are able to make things happen.

Then afterwards I just hung out with several people just talking. We talked about everything from Disney’s High School Musical to name changes. It was great getting to know some of the younger members in our church.

As I reflected on the L3 meeting, I’ve recognized that this is just another avenue for people to learn the DNA of our church and for indirect discipleship to happen. I am confident that God will raise up a future generation of “world shakers and history makers.”

Our next one will be on January 22nd, 12PM at the Michigan League, Henderson Room. I hope to see more of you there.

Keeping Fit with All the Bad Stuff?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to exercise at least four times a week. There seems to be a direct correlation between exercise and having more energy. Since I want to do all that God is calling me to do, I need to be faithful in keeping my health in good condition.

I am committed to running at least two miles on the treadmill. So far so good, but after reading this article now I am wondering what all the fuss is about :-)