The Tradition Lives On

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Magic and Bird.jpg        Kobe and Garnett.jpg
                  Old School                                               New School
The NBA Finals are going to be pretty exciting, now that it is determined that the Lakers and the Celtics will be playing. When I was younger I grew up with the Lakers and Celtics competing against one another. The old school lineup for the Celtics had Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, and Dennis Johnson. For the Lakers, they had, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper. The list goes on and on. They were both great dynasties.

But the great match up was against Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. They will definitely go down as one of the best rivalries in sports. It started back in the 1979 NCAA Championship game against Magic’s Michigan State University team and Bird’s Indiana State team. And as they say, “the rest is history.”

Now with the NBA Finals against the Lakers and Celtics again, it is conjuring up some great memories of old. It is going to be awesome!

Also, the Cubbies are on a 6-game winning streak and they are in first place in the National League Central Division. Hmm… can this be the year?!

Josiah’s 11th B-Day

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

We, as a family had fun today celebrating Josiah’s 11th birthday. In line with our family tradition Josiah picked a restaurant he wanted to go to and an activity that he wanted to do. You know that a kid has acquired and developed a taste for good food when he requests paella for his birthday. We went to one of the best places in metro Detroit.

As we were eating, we all went around did our tradition thing of having each of the family members go around and share something about the birthday person. We usually share how and why our lives are blessed to have the birthday person in our lives.

Then for an activity, Josiah picked watching The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on the big screen. Elliot tried really hard to convince Josiah to do something more active like video game at Chuck E. Cheese or glow golf. But Josiah decided on Prince Caspian. I think having finished reading the books in the Narnia series helped spark a desire to see the movie.

By the time we finished everything and heading out on the long trek back to Ann Arbor, it was late. Christina and I washed up the kids and quickly put them to sleep. I think it was a great day for Josiah.
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We opened Josiah’s present first and then headed out for dinner
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Josiah is about to enjoy his dessert

Married Couples Hang Out

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

In our married couples’ ministry, we meet up every week to experience biblical community. I realized that it is not easy to get married couples to gather together every week for small group, but it has been a blessing to see so many couples in our church commit to meeting together (Heb 10:25).

Out of the four weeks in a month, we use one meeting to just fellowship – translation: As we get older it is easier to just become homebodies, therefore we provide avenues for married couples to hang out and just chill together.

All the married couples’ small groups in our church do separate things. But once in awhile, we try to get all the married couples in our church together to fellowship.

Tonight for our small group activity, we decided to just eat together at bd’s Mongolian Barbeque. We had great food and great conversation. It was another way for us to connect together and to strengthen our marriages. Then some of them went over someone’s house to watch the game(s) – Redwings and Pistons.
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I got a picture of this beautiful looking woman waiting for her food
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Just some of the couples that were able to make it out to the activity

Cynicism and the Dying Heart

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

As I am doing ministry, I am coming across more cynical people than ever before. But if people only knew the cynicism that is overtaking many pastors as well, they would be shocked. Some years ago, I had to guard my heart because I started to find myself getting cynical about one of the greatest moment of a pastor’s life – seeing a person coming to Christ. My heart was so harden (or beaten down by ministry) I started to think to myself – “OK, let’s see how long this person will walk faithfully with Christ… they will probably fall away after a week of this commitment.”

It was that point I knew something was wrong with me and my heart. Cynicism creeps up even to the best of us. Therefore, when I came across this article it really gave me greater insights to a cynical heart.

David Burchett, who is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker, wrote an article entitled, “Cynicism is Not a Spiritual Gift?” It was a response to streams of correspondence he had with Christians who are fighting cynicism.

Burchett was confronted with a cynical Christian in this e-mail that was sent to him. It read:

I’m a cynic by nature. I recognize human failings (especially the stupidity in myself) and I am amazed by the concept of grace and mercy – the idea that the Almighty would humble Himself to reach out to faulty, fallen beings is an awesome one. However, I noticed that with each passing year, as I see more and more of those failings I am getting more hardened with each passing experience.

It was my prayer years ago that as even as I see the reality of what is around us, I will still do good anyway, still love people anyway, and still believe in them anyway. I’m still trying hard, but I find it hard to keep myself “tender”. (please excuse the churchianty jargon. I have a rabid dislike for religious jargon in everyday communications, but it seemed appropriate for this occasion)

How do you keep yourself from becoming hardened or from being overwhelmed by cynicism?

In many ways, I think a lot of us can relate to this e-mail. It really does describe what is going on in our hearts.

Burchett humbly answers the person with this e-mail response:

First of all, it is okay to use churchianity jargon with me. I am bilingual – I speak Christian as a second language. So I know that being “tender” means keeping your attitude toward others loving and kind even when they behave like the south end of a north bound horse. Writer P.J.O’Rourke once said that ‘making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.’ And it can be just as easy to get angry at Christians who don’t seem to have read any of the things that Jesus said (conveniently in red letters) in the Bible.

So how do I keep myself from becoming hardened? I tried a cynics support group (Motto: Like I need YOUR support). That didn’t work. The truth is I don’t always keep myself from becoming hardened to people who are acting like Bad Christians. That is an ongoing process and I suspect I will be busy working on this till Jesus returns.

Here are a few things that I have learned so far in my journey.

I am the wretch that the song is talking about. When I finally put aside my pride long enough to do some honest self-examination I realized how far I was missing the mark and how amazing His grace is to accept me in my “as-is” condition. Realization of your spiritual weakness is not weakness. In the mystic dichotomy of God’s grace and justice acknowledging the inability to do anything to win God’s favor is an act of incredible strength. I told a buddy this week that the day I finally admitted I was just an idiot saved by grace was the day I began to actually grow in Christ.

I need to focus on Jesus. I get my undergarments misaligned when somebody says or writes a negative thing about me. But I have learned (with varying degrees of success) to focus on Jesus. Imagine if you had poured every ounce of your strength for three years into a person. And then that friend, at the moment of truth, turns his back on you, denies that you are a friend, and runs away. Not one denial of your friendship. Three times. And that person you had given everything to cursed as he threw you under the bus. How would I respond to that kind of friend? It is possible I would need a seven second delay to edit my comments for family viewing. That is what Peter did to Jesus. But what did Jesus do? He forgave Peter and He restored him.

I remember driving away from one of Joni’s early doctor appointments after her breast cancer diagnosis. Joni was driving her car as I followed her. She was distracted (imagine that) and missed her turn. She drove forward to the next opportunity to turn left and double back. Because she temporarily blocked the left lane a guy laid on his horn and started gesturing. I remembering thinking that this guy was not a quality human being (rough translation). I wondered if it would make a difference in the attitude of this, uhhh, not really nice homosapian if he knew what was going through my wife’s mind. He was busy worrying about his 20 second delay as she was thinking about her health, her family, her job, and maybe her life. So I try to step back, breathe, and ask for patience.

Finally, I look in the mirror. What I see there is a man who is capable of nearly everything I get angry about with others. And I am humbled again that somehow God is patient with me as I work this out. Regular readers know of my admiration for the group Casting Crowns. The song “Who Am I” comes to mind in this context.

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.

Take a moment to meditate on that. Then take a moment to meditate on a later verse.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again.

That God sees me and looks on me with love is mind boggling. How can I accept that love and not at least attempt to offer it to others? Because there is not a (Christian cussing warning) dang thing that I have done to deserve mercy like that. From a human perspective that person who incites cynicism probably doesn’t “deserve” grace. But did you? Did I?

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.

So I guess that is the game-plan of how I try to not get hardened and cynical. Realizing who I was and what He has done. Focus on the One who understands rejection and suffering. Realize that others may be enduring real trials of their own. And understand that the God who sees me with all of my junk still looks on me with love.

On some days I execute the game-plan better than others. But that doesn’t mean it is not a good plan. It just means I have to spend more time in the playbook and with my Coach.


As I have been giving this topic of cynicism some thought, I came up with a few plays that I need to implement in my life:

1) More Contemplation – a lack of reflection and contemplation hinder me from seeing things the way God sees them. I need more time to be introspective. This will help me to see where my heart is at and it will allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me.

2) More Confession – pride is the fuel for cynicism. Whenever I get proud or when I see proud people, cynicism is not far behind. As I spend more time in contemplation, then I realized how much more I need God in my life. It is easy to judge other people and question their motives but when was the last time I judged and questioned myself that rigorously.

3) More Community
– the more I am around people, the more I see the need for God’s grace and mercy. When I am an island to myself, it is easy to think that everything is fine within my heart. But it is only as I interact with people that all the ugly stuff comes out. This helps me to be more humble. Also, community gives me an outlet to share with other people and receive prayer for my cynicism.

4) More of Christ – cynicism is often equated with our lack of faith. Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” But cynicism is just the opposite – “not being sure of what we hope for and uncertain of what we DO SEE.” This road leads us to question people’s motives and even doubt the sincerity of people. Therefore, the more we focus on Christ rather than on people, we will be able to overcome cynicism one doubt at a time.

UIC Strategic Meeting 05.26.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Last night, I meet up with the staff of HMCC of Chicago and the leaders of the UIC ministry. We spent some time evaluating this past year’s small group ministry on the campus and then we read up on some statistical information about the campus. As we were sharing and reading up on the information, my heart continued to break for the people and the campus at UIC.

I know that each university around the world is different on many levels. There are specific issues that are relevant to the UIC campus. Therefore, it is important that we do not “cookie-cutter” the ministry at UIC.

But there are definitely some basic needs of college students that are universal and we want to make sure that we meet those needs and make a difference for God’s Kingdom. The harvest is huge on this campus. As we reach out to the students, it is our prayer that we will be able to reach out to some of the young professionals in the downtown Chicago area.

Another thing we have to be reminded of is that God has already been working on the campus even before we even started thinking about starting up something there. This should help us to see the greater redemptive history of God. He has been preparing the way for us and we praise God for this.

The needs are great, but we serve a great God, therefore we believe that all things are possible.
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I love the city. This is a view from one of our members’ apartment. You can even see the Sears Tower.

Diane’s B-Day

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday was my older sister’s b-day. We weren’t planning for it, but it just happened that my younger brother was coming in to Chicago from L.A. because of a wedding and I was here preaching for HMCC of Chicago so we decide to have dinner all together as a family. It was a special treat for us because as we are getting older, it is getting harder to have our whole family come together.

I think my parents enjoyed the moment of having all their children together.

We treated her to Wildfire Restaurant, which is an awesome place for steak and seafood. We ended up getting things from the family style menu, which is an all encompassing meal with starters and desserts. Therefore, when they served up the cake, it was a hard choice to decide which dessert to eat… it really was a struggle, no really it was :-)
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The Kim clan – mom and dad, Diane, Marc and me

Memorial Day Reflections

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Today as I was heading back to my parents’ place after a meeting, I ended up driving pass a cemetery. For some reason, after seeing all the American flags and being reminded that it was Memorial Day, I had this great urge to stop by and take some time to reflect.

I was thinking that the generations who have gone before us were people from a different breed. We live in a culture today where words like “courage,” “honor,” and “sacrifice” are winced upon. It is hard to believe that there once was a time when people would willingly lay down their lives to defend their country and freedom.

Sometimes we forget about the sacrifice that people have made in the past so that we can enjoy the things that we have today. Everything comes at a price and the cost of freedom is very high. I pray that we will never forget and never take things for granted.

We need to raise up more people who exhibit some of these character traits that make our country great.

Today in Arlington National Cemetery, President Bush paid tribute to the men and women who have died in battle with these words, “From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one where broken hearts received their broken bodies. They found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend. It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day. I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish. It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead and to preserve America as the greatest nation on Earth and the last, best hope for mankind.”

My heart is so grateful for the sacrifices that were made by people who counted the cost for freedom.
There were many flags out on the cemetery
There were some freshly made graves – just a reminder that sacrifices are being made constantly
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The flags of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard)

Chicago Trip 05.26.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

It was smooth sailing on my flight to Chicago. I was a bit concerning about the flight since it was the last flight that would get me to Chicago on time for the Sunday Celebration. I realized that Sunday mornings are the best time to fly – there are less people and fewer interruptions in the airport.

I shared a third part of the “Taking Up the Challenge” series (a message specially designed for HMCC of Chicago). I laid down the vision of reaching campuses in the Chicago area and even future international church plants.

Afterwards, I had some good conversation with people during fellowship time. It is our prayer that we would continue raise up radical followers of Christ in the Chicagoland area who will live for God’s Kingdom purposes.

Today, I am going to meet up with some members and staff members. Then we have our vision meeting for our new site at UIC with the leaders and staff. I love strategic meetings. It is a great way to train ourselves to listen to the voice of God and then put things into motion for the future.

Chicago Trip 05.25.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am heading out to Chicago early this morning. I will be concluding the “Taking Up the Challenge” sermon series today. Not only have we been focusing in on evangelism and discipleship, but today I am going to share about the greater vision for Chicago and reaching out to various campuses within the city.

I always enjoy my trips out to Chicago because I get to reconnect with the staff. It is always great hanging out with them over a good meal or coffee and just talking about life and ministry. I love envisioning and strategizing the future with them.

On this trip, I will be meeting up with the key leaders for the UIC ministry. They have started a small group ministry this year and it has been going well. We are going to be talking about getting things prepared for a future site on the campus of UIC. We realized that it is an enormous harvest field on this campus. God is truly preparing the way for us. It is humbling to know that God is giving us the privilege of reaching this campus for His glory.

Josiah’s Soccer 2008 Tournament

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It was a beautiful day for a soccer tournament today – 60’s and sunny! As Josiah’s season is coming to an end, their team entered into the Canton Cup. This tournament has been going on for close to 30 years.

It was an incredible sight to see – they had acres and acres of just soccer field. I couldn’t believe that many people in Michigan play soccer. But it was great to see all the different level of competition with teams from various soccer leagues.

They still have one more day of games, but I will be heading out to Chicago so I will have to look at the pictures and get the updates on the tournament when I get back.
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Josiah (in blue) playing some defense
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Josiah (in white) taking the ball to the outside

The Gospel for Real Life

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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For the Spring and Summer terms (May through August), we are going to start a whole new series on our Friday night ACCESS gatherings for our students. This series is based on Jerry Bridges’ book, The Gospel for Real Life. Jerry Bridges has written so many books on holiness, godliness, and grace that has made a difference in my life.

The Gospel message is one of those things that people know it in their minds but it is hard to really understand it in the heart, which is where true transformation needs to happen. This is part of the reason why today we don’t have the radical disciples that we read about in the Bible and hear about throughout history.

We are going to seriously address various topics that will help us have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Gospel. Then eventually, the Gospel will begin to play itself out in our daily lives whether it is in our classrooms, workplace, family, or in society.

Here is what is written on the inside flap of the book:

Why do so many believers live in quiet desperation?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most explosive news of freedom the world has ever heard. Yet, why do so many of His followers experience so little of the gospel’s liberating power? Regrets over our past haunt us, fear and anxiety clutch at us, subtle legalism oppresses us, outright sin entangles us, and we spend much of the day without even thinking of God.

Jerry Bridges maintains that the poverty of actual Christian experience is the result of an impoverished understanding of the depths of the gospel itself. The key is not to try a little harder, but to know more fully the incredible work of Christ on the cross – and to live in a more vital awareness of that grace day by day.

Jerry does not flinch from the hard facts of human sin and God’s wrath – not exactly popular concepts today. But understanding them is absolutely crucial. For without a knowledge of the depth of our sin, we cannot experience “the unsearchable riches of Christ” that are available to us in the gospel. And when we know those riches, we are empowered to live every day “glorying in a sense of acceptance and the experience of grace.”

This gospel is not just for the afterlife, but for today – it is the gospel for real life.

Signing the URC Contract

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories, Vision

Today, a handful of us from HMCC of Ann Arbor’s Board of Directors and the University Reformed Church’s Board got together to sign the contract for the purchase of their properties. It was a monumental moment in our church’s history and theirs as well.

Not only did we step out in faith to raise the funds and purchase this property, but they stepped out in faith to trust that God will provide a place for them. As we both moved forward in obedience to God, we are confident that God will provide for both churches.

Before the actual signing of the contract, we had some people from URC share some of their thoughts and feeling about their move. We were all humbled to realized that there were some charter members in the room. They were there since the church was built.

Then we had some of our Board of Directors share some of our thoughts about the new chapter in our church’s life. I think there was a general consensus that we were truly grateful to URC for all the years of partnership by allowing us to use their facilities.

I was most encouraged by their desire to see the Gospel continue to spread throughout the campus of the University of Michigan and that they entrusted us with their property to be used for that end.

Last Sunday, I was just humbled to realize that at this facility it was the “first” for a lot of things in our church. It was where we had our first revival meeting… it was where we had some of our first TEAM Community meetings… it was where we had some of our first morning prayer gatherings. Now God has graciously given us this place so that it will become a missions command center to further the work of transformation throughout the world.

What an awesome privilege! Part of our transformational vision is finally becoming a reality.
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We are getting ready to sign the contract
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The official signing of the contract from both sides
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We were able to enjoy a meal together after the signing

Thoughts on “The Multi-Site Church Revolution”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visuals

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It was great reading up on the whole multi-site revolution that is happening in the churches across the United States, as well as around the world. God is definitely up to something.

This book highlighted various churches are and have become the catalyst for the movement. They also give some practical principles to follow through on. The more I think about it, the way we did the site in Chicago was a bit unconventional. But by God’s grace and with a lot of various factors, it worked for us.

The thought that constantly came to my mind as I was reading this book was – “Isn’t this multi-site church model just a revamping of the biblical principle that worked in the Book of Acts?” When you think about it, the early church, due to persecution did not have church buildings to meet in nor were they able to meet publicly in large meetings. This is why the early church was so viral. They met in their homes and also in smaller gatherings with relationships they had in their neighborhoods and workplaces.

I am wondering if the “multi-site church revolution” is really a 21st century redesign of a 1st century phenomenon. This is the great thing about biblical principles – it transcends time and culture.

It is my prayer that the Gospel will go viral in various university campuses around the world because once we reach the campuses, we will be able to reach the communities. Once we reach the communities, we will be able to reach the cities; and once we reach the cities, we will reach the nations.

The Call to Leadership Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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Last night I did a video sermon for this new series on leadership. I think the topic of leadership has been misunderstood by so many people. The majority of people have always looked at leadership in terms of a position. This is why people who are not great leaders think they are leading because they have the position; and people who have the potential to lead are not leading because they don’t have the position.

If we define leadership in terms of “influence,” then in many ways all of us are leading someone at some point in our lives. John Maxwell, the leadership guru said, “job titles don’t have much value when it comes to leading. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. It comes only from influence and that can’t be mandated.”

His statement is so true. One of worst disasters for a church is when we stick people who do not have the influence but are placed in a “position” (for various reasons) and they either are ineffective or they abuse their authority.

At HMCC we want to raise up quality leaders – people who will influence their sphere of influence – who will impact their family, friends and the world.

The three parts to this series will be:

Part 1 – “Who, Me?”
Part 2 – “But How?”
Part 3 – “Do What?”