Personal Retreat 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

I am heading out for a couple of days for a personal retreat. There are a lot of things to pray through, especially in light of everything that is going on in our churches and the things that are to come this year.

I have been sharing with people that when we fail to take time to reflect and hear God’s voice, then we can completely miss God’s best for us. In this particular retreat, I am trying to pray through some decisions where God will need to increase my faith and trust in Him.

I am going to check out of the blogosphere for the next 4 days. I will try to update the blog when I get back.

Motorcycle Day of Destiny

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday, before I headed back to Ann Arbor, I had the opportunity to meet up with my friends, Steve Lee, Peter Kim, and Dave Lee for a quick lunch. It was good to catch up with Steve one last time before they headed back out to Kenya.

Afterwards we went to Chicago Cycle to “just look” at some motorcycles. Christina simply called it, “feeding into my worldly desires.” Of course, I had to convince her that motorcycle riding can be very spiritual and beneficial to the longevity of my health.

It was awesome just learning about the various motorcycles. Since Steve, Peter and Dave all have experience with motorcycles, they were able to give me the 411 on the various bikes. It was just overwhelming to see 90,000 square feet of all motorcycles. You really have to come prayed up in order not to leave that place without a motorcycle.

As I was driving back, I was just thankful for the friendships with these brothers. It is hard to believe I knew them since 8th grade. God has really developed our friendships – not only are we able to have fun together but we are able to speak into each others’ lives. It is a rare combination but I take it as a gift from God. I am truly thankful.

We are fervently talking about all taking a coast-to-coast cruise together – kind of like the Wild Hogs movie. I can’t wait for that day.
Peter and Bike.JPG
Peter led the way on his sweet ride – 1600 cc Suzuki Boulevard!
Chicago Cycle Showroom.JPG
I think we violated one of the deadly sins
On the Bike.JPG
One day we will ride into the sunset

Tyler’s 2 Years Old Gathering

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

On Sunday, the family and I meant up with Christina’s side of the family to celebrate Tyler’s birthday. He is 2 years old and our kids love their cousin. It is incredible to see how a kid grows up so quickly. I was reminded of the time when our kids were at Tyler’s age. He is truly adorable. Alex and Ginny are expecting their 2nd child in mid-November.

It is always a blessing to see our kids interact with their cousins. I always have a greater appreciation for the extended family whenever I head out to Chicago.

My parents also enjoyed spending some time with the kids. For some reason, I feel as if they are more extravagant in their lavishing of love on my kids than they were on me. But then again, for them to put up with someone like me, they really had to have a lot of love.
Tyler's 2 Yr B-Day.jpg
The Kim and Chung families at Bob Chinn’s
Tyler and the Kids.jpg
Tyler is the center of attention
Tyler and Present.jpg
Tyler didn’t want to let go of his present

Sunday at HMCC of Chicago 08.17.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

It was great worshipping with the HMCC family in Chicago. Usually when I am there, I am preaching. But this past Sunday I was able to just worship the Lord by giving the announcements and hearing Pastor Jimmy preach. Some people in our church like to call my announcement giving as “sermon-noucements” but I like to call them “announcemenettes” :-)

We ended up praying for the team of people who will be heading up the UIC site in September. I was reminded how God used ordinary people like Christina and me to start up the church in Ann Arbor. We have a great group of guys who want to make a difference with their lives for Jesus.

The harvest truly plentiful and we are going to do everything we can to reap that harvest.

Atlanta Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Yesterday, we had to change our plans. The Georgian schools started this week (early huh?) and Six Flags changed their hours of operation to only the weekends. One thing I have learned over the years is that you have to be “flexible” in everything. If not, then life will become difficult – not only for you but for others.

Therefore, we shifted gears and decided to go to Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and birth home. Even though I went there some years back, this time, going with the kids was a little different. I really wanted my kids to be inspired by King’s courage, compassion and convictions. I think this is something that we want to do every year. Wherever we end up going, we want to try to find some historical aspect of that particular city and make it educational for the children.

After dinner, we went over to Pastor’s Matt house and finally met Ella, their first child (little over 3 months old). The kids loved playing with her – especially, with her hair that was constantly praising the Lord.

Then, I spent some time with Pastor Matt and his staff. It was great just listening to some of their insightful questions and imparting some of the lessons that I have learned over the years at HMCC. I told them that I have more things to share that are related to “what not to do” than things that were successfully done. Afterwards, Pastor Matt and I had some personal time to talk about ministry and life. It was a great time of just connecting together.

Today, in the morning we finally headed out to Six Flags Over Georgia. The boys wanted to go on the various roller coaster rides, so we mapped out a game plan and hit as many as we could in our allotted time. It is pretty scary knowing that my boys love roller coaster rides at this age. They might get addicted to speed and things that involve adrenaline inducing activities, just like their mother :-)

We just arrived back to Chicago and now, we are preparing to get up in the morning to visit HMCC of Chicago tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing and witnessing all that God has been doing in this church.
MLK Center.JPG
Trying to inspire the next generation of leaders
MLK's House.JPG
The birth house of MLK
Ebenezer Church.JPG
The boys in front of Ebenezer Church where MLK was a pastor
KiKi and Swing Ride.JPG
The sheer joy on KiKi’s face as she is enjoying the swing ride
Elliot the Track Star.JPG
Since Elliot couldn’t be at Beijing, we decided to have our own race

Atlanta Update 1

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

The family and I arrived in Atlanta yesterday. We were greeted by Pastor Matt and ended up having lunch together. Then, the family and I went to the World of Coke. It was great learning about the history of Coca-Cola. The best part was being able to taste close to 64 different flavors of Coke from the various parts of the world. I was pumped when I found out that they had Stoney Tangawizi. It is like a very strong ginger ale.

Then, we ended up meeting with Jonathan Lee, an alumnus from the University of Michigan and our Focus ministry, and we went to the Cubs vs. Atlanta game. It was pretty interesting to find so many Cubs fan there. I still think they are the most die-hard fans in the whole world. In fact, I think there were close to one Cub fan for every three Atlanta fan. I have never seen anything like it.

As the kids were getting tired, after the 7th inning stretch song, we headed back to our place. We are heading out to Six Flags today.

Christina and I have been so blessed to see Pastor Matt and their whole church being so generous. Not only did they open up a whole place for us to stay (one of their member’s place) but they have been providing for all the activities and meals. I am praying that in what they sow in, they will be able to reap a double portion of blessings.
Family Pic at Coke-Cola.JPG
We were getting thirsty for the taste of Coke
Coke Sign in Korean.JPG
It was cool seeing all the different nations that Coke has reached
Tasting Coke.JPG
We told Karissa “just a taste” but as you can tell, she was gulping
NASCAR at game.JPG
It was a double blessing when we found out that it was NASCAR night at the game
Cubs Game with Jonathan.JPG
Jonathan hosting us at the game… he is a die-hard Braves fan… only Jesus kept us civil
Cubs fans.JPG
Cubs fans had to stay together in hostile territory
Cubs Fans at Game.JPG
It was an incredible sight to see 3-1 Cubs fan in an away game – truly beautiful

Whites in the Minority by 2042

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

The United States has always prided itself in being a “melting pot.” Now, with the latest predictions by the U.S. Census, it is estimated that by 2042 (in about 34 years) the “Whites” in America will become the minority.

It will be pretty interesting to see how things will play out in terms of prejudice and race relations at that point in history.

But one thing I have been noticing more in various sectors of society is the increase of “minorities” in visible positions. I have noticed that there were more Asian news anchors in the last 5 years. There are already a lot of Latinos in sports and the Asian are slowly penetrating the sports barrier. We have an African-American as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Who would have imagined?

I have also heard more languages spoken over the intercom at airports. Even when I was in Austin and Los Angeles, I realized how dumb I was in taking French in high school (I was trying to be romantic). I should have taken Spanish. There are so many opportunities to have conversations with people who speak Spanish.

The Census has also estimated that there are four states that have a higher “minority” population than the “majority” White population (Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas).

These kinds of statistics are a constant reminder for the Church to not only be multi-ethnic but to develop people who are transcultural.” This is how we are going to reach a whole new generation of people in the United States.

You can read the story here.

An Incredible Conversion

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Mosab Hassan Yousef - Hamas Son.jpg
Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas leader
I don’t know if you have heard about the conversion of Mosab Hassan Yousef from Islam to Christianity; but this is no ordinary conversion. Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the most influential leaders of the militant Hamas group in the West Bank.
Sheikh Hassan Yousef.jpg
Sheikh Hassan Yousef is in the middle
In a Fox News exclusive interview with Jonathan Hunt, Yousef shares how he came to faith in Christ and also shares some of his views on Islam and Hamas. Here are some excerpts:

JONATHAN HUNT: You speak from a unique perspective, a man who grew up not just in an Islamic family but as part of an organization seen by many people around the world as an extreme force in Islam: Hamas. What is the reality of Islam? You say people don’t see the reality; What is the reality of Islam?

MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: There are two facts that Muslims don’t understand … I’d say about more than 95 percent of Muslims don’t understand their own religion. It came with a much stronger language than the language that they speak so they don’t understand it … they rely only on religious people to get their knowledge about this religion.

Second, they don’t understand anything about other religions. Christian communities live between Muslims and they’re minority and they (would) rather not to go speak out and tell people about Jesus because it’s dangerous for them.

So, all their ideas about other religions on earth are from Islamic perspectives. So those two realities, most people don’t understand.

If people, if Muslims, start to understand their religion – first of all, their religion – and see how awful stuff is in there, they’ll start to figure out, this can’t (be) … because most religious people focus on certain points of Islam. They have many points that they are very embarrassed to talk about.

JONATHAN HUNT: What specific event or events began to change your mind about Islam?

Since I was a child I started to ask very difficult questions, even my family was telling me all the time, ‘You’re a very difficult person and we were having trouble answering your questions. Why are you asking so many questions?’ This was from the beginning, to be honest with you.

But I felt that everybody – and my father was a good example for me because he was a very honest, humble person, very nice to my mother, to us, and raised us on the principle of forgiveness, okay? I thought that everybody in Islam was like this.

When I was 18 years old, and I was arrested by the Israelis and was in an Israeli jail under the Israeli administration, Hamas had control of its members inside the jail and I saw their torture; (they were) torturing people in a very, very bad way.

JONATHAN HUNT: You talk about the good Muslims, like your father, yet you still now renounce the faith of your father. Could you have not been a good Muslim?

Now, here’s the reality: after I studied Christianity – which I had a big misunderstanding about, because I studied about Christianity from Islam, which is, there is nothing true about Christianity when you study it from Islam, and that was the only source.

When I studied the Bible carefully verse by verse, I made sure that that was the book of God, the word of God for sure, so I started to see things in a different way, which was difficult for me, to say Islam is wrong.

Islam is my father. I grew up for (one) father – 22 years for that father – and another father came to me and told me, ‘I’m sorry, I’m your father.’ And I was like, ‘What are you talking about? Like, I have my own father, and it’s Islam!’ And the father of Christianity told me, ‘No, I’m your father. I was in jail, and this (Islam) is not your father.’

So basically this is what happened. It’s not easy to believe this (Islam) is not your father anymore. So I had to study Islam again from a different point of view to figure out all the mistakes, the huge mistakes and its effects, not only on Muslims – (of) which I hated the values … I didn’t like all those traditions that make people’s lives more difficult – but its effects also on humanity. On humanity! People killing each other (in) the name of God.

So definitely I started to figure out the problem is Islam, not the Muslims and those people – I can’t hate them because God loved them from the beginning. And God doesn’t create junk. God created good people that he loved, but they’re sick, they have the wrong idea. I don’t hate those people anymore but I feel very sorry for them and the only way for them to be changed (is) by knowing the word of God and the real way to him.

JONATHAN HUNT: Does it worry you that in saying these things – and given your background and your words carrying extra weight – there is a danger that you will increase the difficulties, the hatred between Christians and Muslims in the world right now?

This could happen if a Christian person will go talk to them about the reality of Islam. They put Christians on the enemy list anyway, before you talk to them about Islam. So if you go to them and tell them, as a Christian, they will be offended immediately and they will hate you and this will definitely increase the vacuum between both religions – but what made someone like me change?

Years ago, years ago, when I was there, God opened my eyes, my mind also, and I became a completely different person. So now, I can do this duty, while you as Christians can help me do it, but maybe you wouldn’t be able to. (Muslims) have no excuse now.

JONATHAN HUNT: How difficult a process has this been for you to effectively walk away from your family, leave your home behind? How difficult is that?

Taking your skin off your bones, that’s what happened. I love my family, they love me. And my little brothers, they’re like my sons. I raised them. Basically, it was the biggest decision in my life.

I left everything behind me, not only family. When you decide to convert to Christianity or any other religion from Islam, it’s not (enough) to just say goodbye and leave, you know? It’s not like that. You’re saying goodbye to culture, civilization, traditions, society, family, religion, God — what you thought was God for so many years! So it’s not easy. It’s very complicated. People think it’s that easy, like it doesn’t matter. Now I’m here in the U.S. and I got my freedom and it’s great, but at the same time, nothing is like family, you know. To lose your family —

JONATHAN HUNT: Have you lost your family?

MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: My family is educated and it was very difficult for them. They asked me many times, especially for the first two days, to keep my faith to myself and not go to the media and announce it.

But for me it was a duty from God to announce his name and praise him (around) the world because my reward is going to be that he’s going to do the same for me. So I did it, basically, as a duty. I (wonder) how many people can do what I can do today? I didn’t find any.

So, I had to be strong about that. That was very challenging. That was the most difficult decision in my life and I didn’t do it for fun. I didn’t do it for anything from this world. I did it only for one reason: I believed in it. People are suffering every day because of wrong ideas. I can help them get out of this endless circle … the track the devil (laid) for them.

Aren’t you terrified that somebody is going to try to kill you for saying these things — which would be approved of according to parts of the Koran?

MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF: They got to kill my ideas first, (and) that’s it, they’re already out. So how are they going to kill my idea? How are they going to kill the opinions that I have? … They can kill my body, but they can’t kill my soul.

JONATHAN HUNT: You’re not afraid?

As a human, you know, I can be very brave now, I’m not thinking about it at this moment and I feel that God is on my side. But if this will be the challenge, I ask God to give me enough strength.

I’ve been a Christian for a long time before they knew, or anyone knew. I love Jesus, I followed him for many years now. It wasn’t a secret for most of the time, and this time I just did it to glorify the name of God and praise him.

They’re not dealing with a regular Muslim. They know that I’m educated, they know that I studied, they know that I studied Islam and Christianity. When I made my decision, I didn’t make it because someone did magic on me or convinced me. It was completely my decision.

What is your basic message to any Muslim listening to this right now?

My message to them is, first of all, to open their minds. They were born to Muslim families – this is how they got Islam and this is just like … any other religion, like growing up (in) a Christian family, or growing up (in) a Jewish family.

So my point is that I want those people to open their eyes, their minds, to start to understand and imagine that they weren’t born for a Muslim family. And use their minds.

Why did God give them minds? Open their hearts. Read the Bible. Study their religion. I want to open the gate for them, I want them to be free. They will find a good life on earth just by following God – and they’re also going to guarantee the other life.

Hopefully, just like the Apostle Paul, who miraculously converted to Christ, Yousef can channel all of his energies towards proclaiming the truth about Christ. Indeed, once we know the truth, the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32).

You can read the story the whole interview of Mosab Hassan Yousef here.

You can also see an exclusive Fox News video here.

Heading Out to Chicago – August 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

This morning, the family and I are driving out to Chicago to spend some time with our extended family before all the craziness of a new season of ministry starts.

We will also spend a few days out in Atlanta with Pastor Matt and the JCA family. They have been so gracious and generous to invite us and host me and my family for a few days.

I am praying that this week will be fruitful with family and friends.

Chinky-Eyed Mistake

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Praise God for the Olympics. There are so many illustrations to choose from, it is truly a preacher’s banquet to feast upon.
Spain's B-Ball Team and Slanty Eyes.jpg
If you look at this picture carefully, you will realize that the Spain’s Olympic basketball team is posing by making slit-eyes with their fingers. Wow! And this is the year 2008.

Obviously, this has upset the Chinese host in Beijing, but more than that it has offended a lot of Asian people. This picture, along with the women’s basketball team (making the same gestures) were in the full page sports section of Spain’s best-selling newspaper.

In the Guardian newspaper’s report, it states, “No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter and it is likely to provoke more criticism at a delicate time for Spanish sport. The failure to recognise [sic] the potential consequences is striking in the light of the problems Spain has had with issues of race and the Spanish Olympic committee’s continued desire to host the Games in Madrid in 2016 or 2020.”

Wait a minute.

Of course those involved in the advertisement didn’t “considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere.” The reason is because they are focused on themselves and did not consider what an Asian person would have felt if they saw the picture.

This is the problem with race relations and even prejudice. A lot of times, we are not able to see beyond our own culture and our own comforts. This is why at HMCC, we are trying to teach the principle of “transculturalism.” Being transcultural simply means that it is “a decision to go through discomforts and difficulties in order to develop understanding and delight in people from a different culture.” It is not just a race issue but it even goes down to things like differences in personality and preferences. It is really learning how to think ourselves less and love people more.

Only a true understanding of the Gospel can bring this kind of transformation of the heart.

Not Pretty Enough for the Olympics

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

There was an interesting fact that surfaced right after the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The little Chinese 9 year old girl, Lin Miaoke that sang the Chinese patriotic song for the ceremonies really did not sing the song! She was lip-syncing to the voice of another 7 year old Chinese girl, Yang Peiyi.

Now, some of us might be thinking that gone are the days of Milli Vanilli. But this Olympic story has a sad tagline: “If you are not pretty enough, then no matter how good your voice is you do not make the cut.”

The chief music director for the opening ceremony in an interview explained, “The audience will understand that it’s in the national interest.” Hmm… national interest? As many of you know, I love a lot of things about the Asian culture, but when things like this happen, it makes me really wonder.

But I don’t think it is just an Asian culture thing. It really has to do a lot with a human heart thing.

In all the pomp and glitter of hosting their first-ever Olympics, they have forgotten that some things will pass away but the message that was communicated to the little girl will remain.

I don’t if I am being way too sensitive about this because I have a little girl, but all I know is that there are so many women who struggle with their self-worth and their self-image. It is more heartbreaking when I see it in the Church.

I love what the music director said – “The national interest requires that the girl should have good looks and a good grasp of the song and look good on screen. Lin Miaoke was the best in this. And Yang Peiyi’s voice was the most outstanding.” HA! Man, we want it all, don’t we?

So Miaoke became an instant hit (b/c of her looks and her fake voice), while Peiyi remains unknown to the international world.

A China Central Television reporter asked Peiyi whether she was saddened by the opening ceremony situation; and it was reported that Peiyi responded by saying that just having her voice used for the opening ceremony was an honor. Wow! I am praying that in about 10 years she will rock the world.

I am hoping for the day when people will go beyond the externals and see what is inside.

You can read the whole story here.
2008 Beijing - Yang Peiyi.jpg      2008 Beijing - Lin Miacke.jpg
            Yang Peiyi, the voice                                 Lin Miaoke, the look

Hanging Out with the Boys

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Today Christina spent some personal time with Karissa, while I took the boys out. As the kids are getting older, I am seeing the importance of having the girls’ day out and the boys’ day out. It allows the children to observe and learn various manhood and womanhood principles from the parents.

In the future, I know that it is going to be even more important that I take Karissa and spend some one-on-one time. I remember hearing one time that the girl learns how a guy should treat her as she interacts with her father on a date.

All I know is that I am going to raise the bar so high that there will be no guy that will compare with her dad :-)

Covenant BBQ

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It was great hanging out with some of the married couples in our church yesterday. Dr. Peter and Dr. Clara opened up their new home to all the Covenant groups in our church. Throughout this summer we have broken up into smaller group (3-4 couples) so that deeper relationships can be built.

But yesterday was the first time this summer that we all came together. Even though, we were from different small groups, it was awesome interacting with all of the other couples that we do not see as often.

We are looking forward to our retreat that is coming up during Labor Day weekend. It is our prayer that the married couples in our church will grow more intimate with the Lord and with one another.

We praise God for the growth of this ministry. It is a healthy sign that our church is growing in all the lifestages.

AMI Pastors’ Summit Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

In the afternoon session, we had the opportunity to hear about what God is doing in all of our missionary post around the world. The testimonies were powerful. There were stories of divine connections and appointments, Chinese nationals coming to Christ, business opportunities for missions work, and etc.

It was a fresh reminder that God is constantly at work and He is doing things beyond our own understanding. These are exciting times!

Afterwards, we all went to eat Duk Bo Sam. There are just some foods here in L.A. that are just ridiculous. Man, we have never seen that much food. Then we stopped by a new yogurt craze called Yogurtland. It is like the famous Pinkberry and Red Mango stores. But the only difference is that you serve yourself (which can be dangerous) and then you pay by the weight. This is a great idea in light of our generation that want individualized choices. This store will do well if it opened up in Ann Arbor, Austin or Chicago.

After we nearly died of food coma, we pushed through to have another session. We went around and shared what God was doing in our churches and then we ended up praying for one another. The summit has been great.

Today, I will be heading back to Ann Arbor. I am trying to get on an earlier flight so that I can spend more time with my family.