Giving Away Our Wish List

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

As the kids got older, we started to implement a wish list for Christmas. In this list we would have 3 categories (3 M’s): 1) Most Expensive, 2) Moderately Expensive, 3) Minimally Expensive. The number of items would decrease as we move towards the “most expensive.” There is a greater probability that we might not get the items in the “most expensive” category but the “minimally expensive” gifts are usually good to go.

But recently, our family decided together (with some of us more reluctant) to not do the wish list for this year.

Christina and I decided that we wanted to teach our kids the importance of developing a generous heart, especially during Christmas as we reflect on the greatest gift given to us by God.

I had the task of trying to explain to the kids that this year we were going to use the money for buying presents for one another and then donate it to some under-provided families who are struggling to see the joy in Christmas.

It was a hard sell, but I reminded the kids that they have uncles and aunts who love them so much that they will at least get some gifts.

I realized that it is always tough going counter-cultural in a season where consumerism is paramount, but sometimes it is more blessed to give than to receive (Ac 20:35)

The Blinding Power of Power

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Blagojevich Pic.jpg
AP Photo
By now, many of you have probably heard about the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. Blagojevich and his administration were on a 3-year probe by the FBI; and on Tuesday, they were finally charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

You can read the USA Today’s article here.

Blagojevich was responsible for appointing the successor to the vacant Illinois senator’s seat, which was made vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. With wiretaps, the FBI was able to record Blagojevich trying to trade the senator seat in exchange for his wife’s placement on corporate boards and other bribes and rewards.

It is easy to look at high-profiled people and say that it can never happen to me, but there is something alluring about power. Once a person has it, three things begin to happen: 1) we want more; 2) we begin to think rules don’t apply to us; 3) we forget where we came from.

The influence of power infiltrates all sectors of society and it is not just in politics. It can come into the church amongst pastors and church leaders. I write this knowing that I am not immune to the lure of power. This is something that the church leaders and I have to be on guard on a 24-hour watch.

Here are some things that will keep us guarded (I am going to use the acronym GUARD):

1) GAUGES – I am realizing how important it is to have various gauges in our lives to make sure we are healthy. It is similar to the light gauges in a car. It tells us if we are low on something or if something is wrong and need some fixing. Several gauges that we always have to check on a regular basis are (FLASH):
a) Fatigue Gauge – when we are too tired, we usually respond in the flesh and then strong emotions like anger fuel our pride.
b) Love Gauge – when we are loving God and loving people, then there is no room for us to try to elevate ourselves or feel the need for more power.
c) Attitude Gauge – when we find ourselves complaining, looking down at people, and getting negative and judgmental, then danger is waiting for us.
d) Servanthood Gauge – when we get more power, it is always hard to do the simple things for ourselves and also for others – we want to get served rather than serve.
e) Humility Gauge – when we forget where we came from and it is only by God’s grace that we are able to do anything, then we walk down the slippery slope.
2) UNNOTICED ACTS – The hunger for power can only be satisfied by recognition and control. When we do things without people noticing then we kill (or shall I say starve) the hunger pangs of stardom and applause.

3) ACCOUNTABLITY – This has been the mother-of-all protection against various pitfalls. As soon we think we are above accountability or when our accountability becomes weak, then we open ourselves up to greater temptation.

4) RELATIONSHIPS – I am so thankful for my wife, Christina and other close friends who always keep me RIGHT (Real, Introspective, Grounded, Honest, and Tempered). As soon as I begin to think that I am better than I really am, then they are the ones who always say, “Uh, what do you think you are doing?”

5) DEVOTION – When we are preoccupied with loving and exalting Jesus more, then there is less room for us to prop ourselves up. The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we will learn about a Person who had all the power in the world but did not abuse it for selfish gain.

First Vietnamese-American Congressman

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

Joseph Cao for Congress.jpg
Things are happening. History is being made all over the political landscape. It is encouraging to hear about how people in the state of Louisiana elected the first Vietnamese-American to Congress. Joseph Cao came out of nowhere. But his committed to the community and wanting to bring change, helped him get a seat in Congress.

The great thing about all this is that in a state where people like David Duke served, they now have two minorities who are serving at a high level – Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American serving as governor of Louisiana and now Joseph Cao, serving in Congress.

I believe that in the future we will see more minorities (or shall I say majorities since even the percentages are shifting on who is known as a minority), in higher levels of the political scene (Obama has shattered the ceiling for us).

I am committed to constantly raising up people who will engage the “G” (Government and Politics) in the CHARGED acronym in the Transformasphere Movement.

These are exciting times to be alive.

You can read the article of Joseph Cao election here.

Detroit and the Bailout

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Pastor Praying over Cars.jpg
Reuters Photo
Uh… Wow! This is all I can say.
I hope they didn’t give the cars to the pastor.
Lord, help us.

Get the full story here.

The Power of Words

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Vision

I always get mixed reactions when it comes to creating new words. When we first came up with the word, Transformasphere, people were not that enthusiastic (maybe rightly so).

But for me, I am all for it as long as it serves the purposes of trying to: 1) Communicate a vision or movement; 2) Help people stay focused on mission. This is why I love what Pastor Dino Rizzo did with the word, Servolution. Every time we have visited his church, Healing Place Church you can feel the heart of service and servanthood. They are totally creating a serving revolution (hence, servolution).

I share all this because there is power in words. It creates a vision and even puts traction to things that can transform the world. This past Sunday, I shared about Raphael Lemkin and his creation of the word, “genocide.” When Hitler and the Nazi’s were exterminating people, there wasn’t a word for what they were doing, therefore it was hard to present the case to various people and nations about the evil that was occurring throughout the world.

Now, when we hear of the word, “genocide” it creates outrage in us. But the outrage must be translated into action.

You can read up on CNN’s article reflecting on Lemkin’s work here.

But this video gives a quick summary… check it out here.

1st Jakarta Church Team Meeting

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday we introduced the Jakarta church plant team to the whole church during the Sunday Celebration. Then in the late afternoon the team came over to my place for our first meeting.

It was great hearing from every person about how God lead them to apply for the church plant team. Josiah, my son even joined us and shared. I realized that they he is growing up just by the things he was sharing. He is no longer a kid who just says, “I don’t know.” :-)

We laid down some expectations and went over a commitment agreement together.

In the next 6-7 month, we are going to build the unity of the team and also get trained up so that we will be ready to minister to the people of the great nation of Indonesia.

Christmas Letters

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

20081207 - Christmas Letters.jpg
As we enter into this Advent season, we are going to start a 3-part series called, “Christmas Letters.” If you have ever received a personal letter from someone you love, you will know the power of written words. Now in the days of e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and other communication avenues, we have lost the beauty of a simple letter.

When Christina and I were courting, we used to write letters to each other (she was in Champaign-Urbana and I was in Chicago). In fact after writing letters, we recorded our voices and then sent the tape (yes, I just dated myself) to one another.

Oh, those were the days!

I remember the time and effort it took for me to think through what I wanted to say to her. The motivation for the letters was to communicate my heart to her and to know what was in her heart.

In many ways, God has been communicating to us throughout history. He has been speaking through prophets, miracles, circumstances and now through the Bible.

God has sent His greatest letter through His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-14).

This is going to be a great series. Don’t forget to invite a friend!

Church-Wide Worship Gathering 12.5.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Churchwide Gathering 2008.jpg
As churches grow in numbers, it becomes more specialized and segmented. There is a ministry for children, high school students, college students, single adults, and married couples. As the members in the church get older, the need for a senior citizen ministry is apparent.

Even though separating the various ministries helps to minister to specific needs, there is something special when all the different lifestages come together to worship.

This is why we always look forward to the times when we can worship together as a church body. I am excited about today and opportunity that we have to be in God’s Presence and to pray and worship.

It is going to be a good way to close out the 2008 year.

Trip to Austin 12.4.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am at the airport now getting ready to board the plane for my trip back to Ann Arbor. As I sit here at the terminal, I am just thankful for the privilege of reconnecting with the Austin team. It has been a fruitful trip.

I was able to spend some time with the whole team last night. We had dinner and spent some time sharing and praying together. It is hard to believe that the church plant has been in existence for only a little over 3 months. It was encouraging to hear the testimony of the lives that the team was investing in throughout the last 3 months. But most of all, the testimonies of what they were learning personally was a reminder that God is at work and that He loves them tremendously.

I also had an opportunity to meet up with some of the team members individually. It was good to hear about the lessons that God was teaching them.

One observation that I made as I was talking with Pastor Ben and the team is that it was hard to find a transcultural church in town. They have churches that fall in rank and file with ethnicity or para-church groups that stick with the Homogeneous Unit Principle.

But as I try to observe what God is doing in HMCC of Austin, I realized that our contribution to the Body of Christ in Austin is to be a transcultural church that reaches out to the nations. Right now, they have people from various backgrounds that represent nations such as China, Japan, Nigeria, Malaysia, Korea, and etc.

As HMCC of Austin begins to grow and develop, I am excited to see what God will do through them to reach the nations.

Trip to Austin 12.2.08

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I am making a short trip down to Austin to spend some time with the team. I am in Dallas on a quick layover.

It has been about 3 months since the church officially started; and it is encouraging to hear that they are building relationships with pre-Christians and seekers. This is usually the hard work of any church plant.

I am realizing that as we plant more churches, I need to play more of the apostolic role of visiting various churches and encouraging them in their journey. This takes time and commitment, but I know that this is the calling that God has placed on my life, for which I am forever grateful.

I am looking forward to just chilling with the team, as well as praying together for the harvest.

The forecast is at 73 degrees… wow, can you believe it?! This is the kind of winter weather I can handle :-)

Christmas Tree Tradition 2008

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

Yesterday the family and I put up our Christmas tree. It is a special time for us. We crack up the Christmas music and start putting our “tree of the nations” together.

Some years ago, Christina and I made a decision to decorate our tree with ornaments from different nations and cultures. In the midst of all my travels, I have been able to pick up various ornaments from different countries. In this way, we are not only reminded of God’s heart for the nations during the Christmas season, but we are able to teach our kids to pray and grow a burden for the nations.

It was incredible to see all the ornaments we have collected over the last 10 years.

Then, we placed the star on top of the tree and plugged in the lights as a grand finale. Afterwards, we took pictures to display our creativity.

It is amazing how quickly time passes. Josiah was able to stand in front of the tree and reach the top of the tree. This is another reminder for me to make every moment count because they will soon all grow up and leave our home. I am praying that they will pass down the tradition to their families.
Putting up Ornaments.JPG
Putting up the ornaments from the nations
Finished Tree.JPG
Our tree of the nations
Tree Lights.JPG
Our final product – Josiah decided to be like a star