Covenant Retreat 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It was a great inaugural celebration (I will write more about it at a later time). Right after a time of fellowship, Pastor Ben took me to the airport so that I can head back to Ann Arbor. I am currently waiting for my connecting flight in Chicago’s O’Hare airport so that I can rush over to the Covenant’s married couples retreat.

It is encouraging to see more married couples in our church. It is a healthy sign of the church growing and going through various life stages. This year, we have the most number of couples coming out to the retreat – 20+ couples!

We have Phil and Barb Tiews coming to speak to us. They have been married for 36 years and they are both actively involved in ministry. It is going to be a great time of receiving words of wisdom from a couple who have gone through all the ups and downs of life.

Christina and I have always been convinced that when people have a strong marriage, then they will have a strong family. Then, if their families are strong, they will be able to impact their community. We are hoping that at this retreat marriages will be strengthened so that the ripples affects will go to their families and beyond.

In Austin for Inaugural Celebration

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am excited about this morning. I am in Austin right now and getting ready to head out to HMCC of Austin’s inaugural Sunday Celebration. The first of everything is very important and I wanted to be here to encourage the team and experience God’s blessings with them.

Whenever a new church is birthed, there is this sense of privilege and excitement. It is hard to believe that after months of prayer and preparation that this church is going to be finally launched.

I heard that some of the old HMCC alumni who live in the Texas area will be visiting us as well. I will write more after the Celebration and include some pictures.

New Encounter 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

We had an awesome time at this year’s New Encounter. All the guys who prepared for the night did a great job of putting things together. They made it into a Top Ten show and Pastor Andrew was trying to be the Asian David Letterman :-)

I don’t know what it is but either I am getting a bit older or the new freshmen are getting a bit younger. But regardless, we were able to connect with one another and most importantly, connect with God.

It is always encouraging to see people from all different parts of the world coming to the University of Michigan. It is going to be another great year.

Renovations Progress

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

With less than 8 days away from our Grand Inaugural Celebration on September 7th, the workers are busy trying to get everything done on time. There is still a lot to do in order to get things ready for the big day.

It is hard to believe that after 12 years of being a portable church, we will have our own facilities. It has been an incredible journey of faith.

Through this whole process, God has been teaching me (again) and the rest of the leaders that it is really all about Him. There have been many miracles and God-things along the way that no human being could take the credit.

I have also re-learned the important lesson of God’s timing – it is truly impeccable and beyond words. He never comes to earlier (we get too spoiled and lose focus on Him) and he never comes too late (we lose faith and get discouraged). It is truly like a symphony conductor, who orchestrates everything together in person harmony.

I can’t wait for September 7th! I have feeling that all the people who have put their hard work and sweat into this project and also those who have put their hard earned resources into this renovation will experience an elevated sense of joy like never before.

God is building His House not with just mortars and bricks but also with people who passionately love Him and want to see His fame spread to the nations.

Therefore, “in him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph 2:21-22).

We are convinced that “unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Ps 127:1).

To God be all the glory!
The Trusses.JPG
The trusses for the stage lights went up today – it’s going to be rocking!
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The stage that I will be walking around on as I preach
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A view from the balcony. We will have some balcony seating

Reconnecting with Former My Youth Pastor

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday, Pastor David Yang came to Ann Arbor to drop of his 2nd son for the start of the UM school year. It was great reconnecting with him. It is hard to believe that he was my youth pastor almost 20 years ago.

As were eating lunch, we were reminiscing about the past and we also talked about some of the various things that God was doing all over the world. I have always loved his heart for missions. There aren’t too many people who have the Kingdom vision and heart – this is why it is always a joy to talk with men of God like Pastor Yang.

It is funny how everything comes to full circle. As he spent time with me when I was in his youth group, now his oldest son, Josh is at HMCC of Chicago and his 2nd son, Joe is starting as a freshman at the UM. I will now have the responsibility and the privilege of helping them grow in the Lord just as Pastor Yang helped me during my younger years.

I realized that one day, Christina and I will have to hand off our children to people that we have ministered to when they were younger. So we better minister to them well :-)
David Yang and Family.JPG
Three generations of a spiritual heritage

In Bondage

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

The other day I saw a huge spider in the Transformation Center office window. As I looked more closely, I realized that this spider caught a fly in its web. It was interesting to just watch this spider spin its victim around and around making a cocoon.

What caught my attention was the fly. I could tell that he was still alive but due to the spider’s web that was made into a cocoon, the fly was struggling to set itself free. But it was in the bondage of the spider’s web.

This is when I started to think about the parallels to the Christian life. God has created us to live in freedom – freedom to love God and to obey His commands. On a side note, the world’s view of freedom is just the opposite. People think that freedom is the absence of rules or laws, but the fact of the matter is that people are in bondage to their wills.

This is why when you tell a person to stop doing something, they are not able to exercise self-control. Just think about the use of drug, porn, alcohol, sex, and etc. Many people cannot stop. Even though they are free to do these things, are they truly “free” if they are addicted and cannot stop?

Often times, Christians end up in a spiritual headlock by Satan. This is one of the reasons why we lose our joy and effectiveness. Spiritual warfare is always heightened when God is about to do some great things because Satan knows that God’s purposes will be accomplished.

It is my prayer that every person in our churches will be living in the freedom that Christ has purchased for us on the cross.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).
Spider in Window.JPG
The fly was struggling to set itself free
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I tried to get a close up but my camera did not have the ability to get a clear shot

Contact Lens for Josiah

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday, Josiah and Elliot went in to the eye doctor to get their eyes examined. After the exam, I found out that they both needed to get new eye prescriptions. I am always amazed at how eye doctors can be patience during the examination as they ask, “which is clearer… number 1 or number 2.”

Due to all the sports that Josiah plays, Christina and I decided to get him some contact lens. I remember getting my first pair during my freshmen year in high school. Now, a lot of the kids get them in 5th or 6th grade!

Josiah had a personal session with an optometrist assistant who walked him through the whole process of putting on the contact lens and taking them out. I forgot how hard it was when a person tries to put on contact lens for the very first time. But after some practice, he got use to it. Now, the man is ready to go.

Small Groups to LIFE Groups

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Vision

We have gone through an incredible evolution with our small group ministry over the last 12+ years. When we first started our church back in 1996, we talked a lot about having a small group ministry and the importance of it. We eventually forge out a strategy to call our small groups simply our “cell groups.”

We faithfully built our cell group ministry for years and then, due to the terror cell group movement that became more prominent in the news and also, thanks to Osama Bin Laden, we ended up changing our cell group name back to small groups. Can you imagine inviting someone to check out our “cell group” (and saying it with a smile on our face)?

But the struggle we faced in the last 5+ year is that we started to get people who came to our church will all different views of “small group” ministry. Due to their experiences in the past, whenever people heard of the word, “small group” they would automatically associate it with a “bible study” group or a “social gathering” of people.

It was very frustrating for us since we wanted to build up a culture that really saw “small groups” more than just a bible study and a social hang out place. In fact, we have lost some people in our church because their vision for small group did not match with ours.

But after this filtering process, the staff and I have come to this overwhelming decision that we need to recast the vision for biblical community that has always been our “bread and butter.”

Since names are important, we have decided to name our small group ministry to LIFE Group ministry.

This idea came from couple of verses that God used to speak to us. In Jn 14:6, Jesus declared “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Even the Apostle John testified to Jesus being the life by writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (Jn 1:1-4).

This life that Jesus offered was more explicitly mentioned in Jn 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The NKJV says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The Greek word for “abundant” is perisseia, which means “an exceeding measure, something above the ordinary.” When it is used in the adjective it means, “superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality)”

This is the kind of life we want to experience and this is the kind of life that will draw people to our community and eventually to Christ. We notice the power of this kind of life in Ac 2:42-47, which gives us a good description of what the earlier church experienced. Their community transformed the known world at their time.

Therefore, the mission statement for HMCC’s LIFE Groups will be: “To experience the fullness of life in a biblical community where the Gospel is radically lived out.” In order for us to live out the Gospel in a radically way we will need to remember the importance of LIFE:

1) A life of LOVE
2) A life of INVESTMENT
3) A life of FAITH
4) A life of ENJOYMENT

I will be unpackaging some of these concepts in the near future. But in the meantime, I have asked some of the people in our church to start using “LIFE Groups” instead of “small groups.” Also, I reminded people that the most powerful way for this to stick in people’s minds and hearts is when we, the people of God, live out the Gospel in a radical way in the context of biblical community, where people are demonstrating the fullness of life that Christ has purchased for us.

I hope you will join one of our LIFE Groups and experience life the way Jesus intended for us to experience.

OCR 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

We are closing out the OCR training session tomorrow afternoon. So far, it has been a good OCR. I have been really enjoying our evening sessions of prayer. For some reason, this year more of our OCR participants are hungry and have higher expectations for God to do some incredible things.

Already some testimonies are coming out regarding some of the divine appointments that God has brought our way. Even at the International OCR (one week earlier), we had about 140 international students come out to the BBQ. For some reason, God is giving us favor with the international students. It is our prayer that they will experience God’s love so that they can be transformed and trained to go back to their countries with a greater mission and vision.

The various groups in our church are strategizing and praying to reach out to the undergraduate students who will be arriving in the next several days. It is exciting to see people coming together with a clear mission and focus.

We are praying for a great harvest of souls this year.

We believe that with the new facilities that God has given to us, we will be able to increase our reach to various people on campus, as well as in the city.

Tonight, we met in the basement of the Transformation Center to pray on location. It was a good feeling knowing that we were praying in the very place where God was going to do His transformative work in the lives of people. It gave us greater faith to pray.

Finding the Hard Balance

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

This past weekend, the family and I went to Josiah’s soccer game, which was about an hour away from Ann Arbor. The team’s tournament started on Saturday, but due to the TEAM Community Prayer Summit I was not able to go. But on Sunday after our Sunday Celebration I was able to catch the last game.

I realized that this year will be a difficult one in trying to find the good balance between family life, studies, church and Josiah’s soccer. Since Josiah made it to one of the higher teams in his age group, there are higher expectations from his team and the coach. There are more tournaments that are out of state and a lot more traveling for games and practices.

Knowing what it feels like to play soccer in high school without my parents coming out to any of my games, I made a commitment to be there for my kids’ games. Whenever I can’t make it to their games, it brings up an old wound. I have been trying to surrender this to the Lord.

I guess there will always be this tension of trying to be there for my children and trying to be faithful with some of the other responsibilities that I have as a pastor. But I am thankful that Christina is partnering with me to make sure that we are able to balance everything.

Even through all this, I am just excited to see Josiah excelling in soccer. He is definitely further along than I was at his age.
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These indoor soccer fields are breath-taking… I wish I played on them when I was younger.

KiKi Donates Her Hair

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

It first started off as just an idea and a suggestion. Christina asked Karissa if she was opened to donating her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children suffering from hair loss due to various diseases.

Their mission is “to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children.”

After hearing about where her hair would be donated, KiKi was very open to cutting her hair. So Christina took her to a hair salon that works with the organization and got a haircut for KiKi.

KiKi came back as a new young lady.

We are using these kinds of opportunities to develop a heart of compassion and sacrifice in our children.
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The hair had to be 10 inches long. They cut KiKi’s hair into four pieces.
KiKi's Haircut.JPG
A transformed young lady

New Front Page on Website

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

I am so proud of our guys who serve on the Publications Team and the Web Team. We try to do a major overhaul on our church webpage every 2 years. But then we try to tweak it up every year in between the 2 years.

This year our guys just tweaked up the front page of our website and it inspired me when I saw it. I am so blessed to have guys who are dedicated and committed to seeing the Gospel spreading through every avenue. They spent a lot of time and effort in making this happen. It is such a joy to serve a church with people who know how to use their gifts and passions to build up the local church.

It is my prayer that whenever anyone clicks on to our website, they will catch a glimpse of our vision and mission, even through our front page.

Check it out here.

TEAM Community Prayer Summit 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

I am just coming back from our leadership prayer summit. It was awesome coming together as leaders in the church to seek God’s face.

This year we focused in on the whole book of First Thessalonians. I preached on the first chapter the first night and then Pastor Andrew preached on chapter 2 in the morning. Then, we had the leaders journal chapters 3 and 4 in the afternoon. Afterwards they shared some of their convictions with one another. Tonight, I finished off the book by preaching on chapter 5.

We had some powerful times of worship and prayer throughout this summit. If God continues to meet with us like this, then I know we will experience greater things as a church.

I feel like we are now better prepared to do the ministry for this coming year. I kept on reminding the leaders that they were “appointed” and now they are “anointed” to do the ministry. We have been teaching in our church that “everything rises and falls with leadership.”

As we elevate ourselves as leaders, we will see other members in our church get to the next level. We are excited about this new year!

The Suitcase Lifestyle Sermon

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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I will be sharing this one part sermon on longing for “home.” As many of you know, this summer has been filled with a lot of travel – pretty much I lived off a suitcase for weeks. When I was younger traveling was something that I loved to do. It fueled my adventure side. But now, as I am slowly getting older and have gotten the traveling bug out of me, I realized that I long to be home with my family more.

I think there are a lot of good analogies to the desire that we all have to want to be “home.” What would it be like if every single member at HMCC longed for heaven more (our real home)? What if every person knew that this world is just a bus stop before getting to our final destination?

More people would live differently if we really saw life in this way. Hope you can join us for this sermon.