Leadership Lesson: The Discipleship Cycle

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Photo by Apprenticeship Advisory Committee

There is a principle that is espoused by many leadership and discipleship gurus.  It is simply –  I do, you watch; I do,  you help; You do, I help; You do, I watch; You now show someone else.  It is a pretty easy concept but many people fail to follow through on the principle.

Today, in the midst of redesigning my new webpage, this principle was put into motion.  I am thankful that we have tech geeks in our church.  Instead of having them do everything for me, I wanted them to teach me so that I can change things up by myself later on (if I have to).  Rather than having them catch fish for me, I wanted them to teach me how to catch fish so that in the future I will not starve in the technology world, so to speak.

At first we didn’t realize it, but as we were finishing off on the new website design, I noticed that we lived out this principle.  First of all, there is no way I would have been able to redesign the website by myself… it is just too complicated for an average guy like me.  Secondly, I watched carefully how the various codes were place in the website.  It helped that the person was talking through the steps as he was doing it right in front of me.  Thirdly, I started to edit some things by myself after getting the basics down.  But I still had questions.  This is when he answered my questions, looked things over and helped me to catch some things that I overlooked.

It was truly one of those “ah-ha” effects.

I was just thinking how the process of creating and redesigning a website is very similar to training up people to do ministry.  There are a lot of things that have to be learned through the discipleship principle.  As we begin to watch how our discipler is doing the ministry, we begin to catch a glimpse how certain things are done.  But we always need that person to talk us through the various things as well.  It is helpful when they are able to pinpoint things out for us and give us some pointers.

It is amazing how a lot of things in life are just biblical principles being lived out.

I told the person who helped me with the website, “Let’s both quit our jobs and start up a new business!” :-)

Anger Can Kill You (Literally)

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Anger Management.jpg
Dr. Rachel Lampert from Yale University recently did a study that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In her study, she gathered 62 patients who had some sort of heart disease and implantable heart defibrillators (ICD). She had the patients recount an angry moment in their lives and Lampert’s crew did a test that measures electrical instability in the heart.

They found that the patients, by re-living the episode had increased electrical instability. Then they followed the patients for 3 years. They found out that the patients that had the high levels of anger were 10 times more likely to have a cardiac arrest.

Lampert suggests that anger can affect us negatively. More particularly for people who are already vulnerable to this type of electrical disturbance in the heart. Other studies have been done in the past that showed that things like “earthquakes, war or even the loss of a World Cup Soccer match” can increase rates of death from sudden cardiac arrest.

You can read up on the abstract of this study here.

Maybe this is why the bible talks a lot about anger. In James 1:20, it says, “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” We cannot live the life that God desires for us.

It is amazing to find out the number of people who live with anger in their lives. In fact, a lot of the anger is rooted in unresolved issues from the past, unless a relational issue with people or even with God.

The irony of anger is that the angry person is the one who drinks the poison rather than the person that they are angry with. Unless people acknowledge their anger and begin to deal with the hurt and pain, it will be the angry person who will suffer and cut short their life here on this earth to make a difference.

Lent 2009

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

It is about that time of the year again where we prepare ourselves for the week that leads up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Every year it has been good to fast (give up something) for 40 days in order to prepare our hearts for the Passion Week.

For some reason, this Lenten season has been very hard for me to come up with something that will help me prepare for Good Friday and Easter. In the past, I have given up various things to help me to focus on the cross, but for some reason this year has been harder to come up with something.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting that we just came out of has caused me to lose motivation to go on another fast. It is like running another marathon after just finishing a marathon. For some reason, I just felt like whatever I decided to do for Lent that somehow it will pale in comparison.

This is when I had to spend some time in repentance. I realized that I have made it too much about me and lost focus on the greater purpose. Regardless of the previous fast, my heart should desire to seek God more than anything else.

As I prayed through this, I have decided to take some things away from my life that has been a daily routine or shall I say things that I have become accustomed to do on a daily basis. Therefore, as I fast from certain things I am hoping that God will afford me the grace to focus more on Christ and use this Lenten season to deepen my love for Christ.

Bollywood vs. Hollywood

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Slumdog Cast.jpg
AP Photo
On Monday it was awesome to read that on the 81st Academy Awards (Oscars) Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars. It is a great achievement, especially knowing that the some of the actors and actresses were directly from India.

Christina and I have not watched it yet (it has been our list of things to do), but after hearing that it won so many awards we are going to try to bump it up on our list of things to do.

I always like it when there are no-name stars who end up getting recognized. I don’t think any of the audiences in the U.S. have heard of these actors and actresses before the Slumdog Millionaire movie.

It is interesting that Bollywood (another name for India’s film industry) is now coming out with movies that are competing with movies produced in Hollywood. Even though the movie was directed by Danny Boyle (from the U.K.), it has been mentioned that the movie really showcased a lot of India.

I am also amazed at how the Korean dramas have invaded all of Asia. I don’t know if here is a single Asian country that does not know about the infamous Korean dramas. It is really fascinating to hear in my travels to Asia that people are addicted to the Korean dramas.

The thing that excites me about all this is how cultures are coming together and people are able to discover various things about another. This goes to show how the arts (movies) can bring people together. The “rags to riches” story line always universally speaks to the hearts of people regardless of what culture and ethnicity you represent. The reason why it is so powerful is because there are glimpses of the Gospel in any “rags to riches” story.

In this globalized world, we will probably (hopefully) see more integration of cultures in future movies with universal themes, whether they are produced in Hollywood or Bollywood.

Kids’ Piano Recital

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Yesterday, our family headed out to the kids’ piano recital. It was a great seeing them practice all throughout the week to memorize their piece. We were so proud of them and all their hard work.

The recital was made up of all the students of teacher Amber who is doing an awesome job of teaching our kids. In fact she is teaching several other kids in our church. Her patience and her passion for music are helping our kids to enjoy music.

The boys did a great job and Karissa stole the show by being one of the youngest ones there. It was great seeing her engage the audience (her bow after her performance was very natural). I guess she gets that from her mother ;-)

It was interesting to see that many of the people who performed were Asian. Is it a stereotype that many families who get their kids into violin or piano are Asian? I remember my piano days when I was young. In fact, my older sister and younger brother hated it with a passion. We would fight who would practice first so that we can be the first ones to go outside and play sports.

But I am thankful that my parents afforded me the opportunity to play some instrument. I am also thankful that they did not force me to continue to play. After some discussion and trying to convince them of the wasted money, I was able to quit.

But now that I am able to use some of the music sense to worship God through praises, I am thankful for the introduction to music through piano. Christina and I have decided that we will not pressure our kids (unlike some parents who are very adamant about their kids playing). We will allow them to play until they decide that they want to stop or make it to American Idol – whichever comes first.
KiKi's Recital.JPG
Our youngest Mozart at the recital
Teacher Amber.JPG
Amber did a great job with all the students

Global ACCESS Retreat 2009

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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Tonight we are going to start the Global ACCESS (GA) Retreat. We started this ministry to international students because over the years we have noticed that more international students were coming out to our church. The needs are somewhat similar to any college student but yet they are very different because of the culture, as well as the transition of living in a foreign country like the U.S.

Over the years, we have seen many students graduate and go back to their countries. In fact, it has been awesome to see some of them being the “world-shaker and history-makers” in their country. Many of them are holding influential positions in society and they are shining the light of Christ.

Even as I have traveled to various parts of the world, it has been awesome to be able to reconnect with our international HMCC alumni. Every time we sit down over a good meal or for coffee, I am just amazed at God’s faithfulness in their lives.

Also, even as we start this international church in Jakarta, a lot of the leg work has been done by our alumni who are living in Jakarta. We wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things without them. I am so thankful for their partnership in the Gospel.

At this retreat, which is our second one so far, we want to continue to cast the global vision for planting international churches in various global cities. We are expecting great things from this retreat.

Is Racism in the Eye of the Beholder?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

New York Post Cartoon.jpg
Cartoon by Sean Delonas
The above cartoon has been in the center of some controversy. The cartoonist, Sean Delonas who draws for the New York Post and Col Allan, the editor-in-chief have both vehemently denied that there was a racial overtone (comparing President Obama to a chimpanzee). Many people would ask, “Are you serious?”

In many ways, I believe them. I honestly believe that when Delonas drew the cartoon he was not trying to draw a comparison nor did Allan think that it was racist as he reviewed the cartoon before publishing it.

But the question that begs us is: Are they (Delonas and Allan) white? Or for that matter, are they from any other ethnicity other than African-American?

The reason why this is an important question is that depending on your ethnicity you will interpret things in a different way. With an African-American background, you may react differently to this cartoon than someone from a lighter hue.

I recently had this discussion with someone in our church because they thought my comments on Miley Cyrus was being a bit too sensitive. In other words, I either have issues or I am just overreacting. My first thought was, “For the people who feel this way about my post, are they a fellow Asian or a non-Asian?”

The person pointed out the fact that there are some stereotypes of a certain race that might even cause someone from that race to think that the stereotype is funny. True. There will always be people from their own particular race that do not always view something as racist or offensive. In those situations, I really don’t have much to say.

But when a person from a different race makes comments that are in agreement about things not being racist or offensive, then I would like to challenge them and say, “Since you do not bear the burden of being part of that particular race, you will never fully know what it is like to walk in their shoes.” Ignorance is never a good excuse.

In this situation with the cartoon, it is funny that two non-African Americans are wondering why people are taking this cartoon in an offensive way because that was not their intent. They still cannot come to grips with the fact that even though their intent was not to reference the chimpanzee to President Obama, the context is hard to avoid. When you use the word, “stimulus bill” which is closely related to President Obama and then have a chimpanzee, something should have triggered in their minds.

But this is the point.

It did not trigger a second thought of not publishing the cartoon. Currently, they are certainly not apologizing for the “possible” misunderstanding. It is interesting that sometimes people do not have the lens in which to see how a certain situation can trigger different emotions for different people.

At the end of the day, we can point to a bigger principle at hand. When we are able to place ourselves in a person’s position and try to see things from their perspective, we will usually be more empathetic and compassionate. We will be more understanding of how a person would feel in a certain situation. Therefore, whether it is a racial issue or even a personality issue, the bottom line is that to have the heart of Christ, we must try to understand things from the other person’s background and perspective rather than our own.

This promotes unity, understanding and unconditional love.

You can read up on CNN’s commentary on this situation by Roland Martin (an African-American) here.

My Girl Scout Daisy

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

The family and I went to Karissa’s Girl Scout special gathering. Some of the local troops in the Ann Arbor area got together to do various presentations for the parents as well as the other Girl Scouts.

It was great seeing Karissa learning some good values of what it means to be a woman (or a little woman). I realized that a lot of the principles that were espoused were biblical principles. They talked about possessing traits like courage, honesty, and respect. I would not be surprised if Girl Scouts was started by Christians.

In the midst of being surrounded by all these little girls, I was thinking about how important it would be to see many of them grow in their self-esteem and learn how to be secure in who they are as they get older. They are so precious and pure in many ways right now, but the reality is that the world will tell them a different story and put pressure on them to be a certain way. Struggles with insecurity, inadequacies, and image will play a huge factor.

I am praying that God will protect them. Sometimes I don’t want Karissa to grow up. I want her to be a 5 year old forever. Christina keeps on telling me that it might be hard for me on Karissa’s wedding day. I agree.
KiKi and the Daisy Girls.JPG
KiKi’s Daisy Girl Scout Troop
KiKi's Daisy Presentation.JPG
Lining up for their presentation

Leadership Lesson: Walking in Their Shoes

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Walking in Their Shoes.jpg
Photo by Felix Carroll
It is interesting to me that today it was announced that President Obama would authorize deploying “more than 17,000 troops to Afghanistan.” Barack Obama during his presidential campaign was strongly in favor of bringing the troops back home from Iraq, but now he will be sending some more to Afghanistan.

On one hand, I am all in favor of this move because the battle has to be won in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are regaining their strength, if we want to win this war on terror. The situation does not look good because recently Pakistan gave in to the Taliban in some of the border areas and allowed sharia law to rule.

The leadership lesson is that unless you are in the shoes of the person, you will rarely have any clue of the magnitude of the responsibility or the situation. I think in the years to come there will be many “declassified” things that will surface and we will have a better idea of some of the things that President Bush has done (both good and bad).

It is so easy to criticize, especially when we either think we can do a better job or when we don’t have all the facts.

This phenomenon happens every year in our church.

There are regular members in our church who have a lot to say about various things in their LIFE Groups. It is always easy to criticize a leader or co-leader of what they should or should not be doing.

This is why I love seeing the reaction of the new leaders as they struggle to lead their own LIFE Group. This is when reality sets in for the new leaders. They start to come to the realization that leading a LIFE Group or a church for that matter is not as easy as it appears. When people understand all the various factors that are involved in leading and shepherding people’s lives, they are humbled.

Most of their criticisms turn into hearts of empathy, as well as hearts of gratitude (to their former leaders).

This is why leaders understand that in order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower. As we learn how to follow well, then when God places us in position of leadership and influence, we will know what to do.

I am praying that instead of criticism and judgment, since many of us have not walked in the shoes of many people that we will respond with grace and mercy.

You can read the news article about the troop increases here.

Flexibility and God’s Sovereignty

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

A lesson that God is constantly teaching me over and over again is learning how to be flexible. There are a lot of things in life that does not go exactly as planned. In fact, there are a lot of disruptions and delays in life.

The way we “roll with the punches” and our response to situations often times reveal if we are trusting in God or ourselves.

There are several things that happened this month that tested my perspective on things. I am learning (again) that there are some things that are completely in the hands of God. No amount of pouting, complaining and manipulating things can change the outcome.

The sooner a person realizes that God is in control of all things, the sooner they will have greater peace and trust.

I came across this YouTube video which has now been a video sensation. Within the first week of being posted it had close to a million hits. It is a person who went berserk when they closed the door on the gate and she missed her flight. Here is a grown woman, who just could not accept the fact that they were not going to open the door for her.

She might need a reality check. I was thinking about all the stories about people who have missed their flight and then later realized that the plane that crashed was the plane that they wanted to get on. Hmm… perspective changes everything.

It would have been awesome to have a translation… but some things are just universal. I’m just curious to know what the TSA would have done in this situation.

The Examined Life Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

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We are starting up a whole new series today. The pastors and I talked about the need for our church members to be more Bible literate. Therefore, we decided to go over whole chunks of the Bible by preaching off whole books in the Bible.

In light of where we are as a church, we concluded that going over the Book of Titus would be the best thing for us at this point. There are a lot of issues that Apostle Paul had to address with the church in Crete.

I am excited to preach this book. It is always exciting to see how a letter that was written many years ago can still be relevant and speak to the hearts of people today.

It is my prayer that through this series we will see more people fall in love with God and His Word.

Valentine’s Day 2009

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Valentine's Balloons.jpg
Reuters Photo
There were a lot of people out and about today. Many of them were paired up together. Even at the seafood restaurant where I took Christina, people were coming in as pairs.

I have always wondered why it takes a day called Valentine’s Day to remind couples of their love for one another. Shouldn’t every day be Valentine’s Day? But the reality is that we need these days that are demarcated within our busy schedules. It is easy to go through the routine of everyday life with your spouse that we forget to appreciate one another.

Therefore, minimally, at least once a year, there is a special time when we can express our love and care for the person that has brought into our lives.

I guess it is a lot like retreats or special events within a church. We should love Christ every day, but with the busyness of life it is easy to let our love to slowly dissipate. Therefore, different avenues that allow us to experience Him become a blessing for us.

Conversely, this day is a constant reminder for people who are single that they are still single. For some singles, Valentine’s Day is a day that triggers a greater sense of discontentment with their lives.

But could it be that sometimes we need a day to remind us that Christ is the only One that can fully make us content. We go through life filling our hearts will so many things other than Christ that having one day out of the year to point to the One that can fully satisfy us might not be such a bad thing.

What Not to Do in an Interview

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Last night on David Letterman, Joaquin Phoenix came on to do an interview about his new movie, Two Lovers.

This is probably the most hilarious interview on Letterman or any talk show for that matter. In the day-after, people are saying that he was on “something” therefore could not be coherent or functional.

When I watched it on YouTube, I could not stop laughing… it was hilarious.

But in the midst of the laughter, I was thinking about how this is a good example of bad community building and fellowship within the church. There are a lot of times when we have been engaged in dialogue with a person that was either socially awkward or they were not “fully there.” It is in these awkward moments when the question is: “Do we really love this person enough to continue to talk with them and even try to graciously bring out the best in them?”

As you watch the video, you will realize that once Letterman came to the conclusion that this interview was going to go south, he relentlessly became more sarcastic and even “attacking” or degrading of Phoenix’s character. What can we expect? It is his show and maybe he was feeling some regret of inviting Phoenix on his show caused him to respond this way. But as a Christ-follower, how would you have responded?

Loving people is not an easy thing to do… maybe that is why Jesus made it a command rather than a suggestion based on how we felt about a person.

Call + Response

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Call + Response.jpg
I am so proud of our guys. Some of them decided to take a step of faith and “try” something different than the normal “Praise Night” that we have been having for the last 12 years to reach out to people. With this generation being the most activist or “caused-oriented” generation since the Student Volunteer Movement generation, it is exciting to see our college students getting ready for the screening of the movie Call + Response.

This documentary film is about the slavery that still goes on in the world today. It is estimated that here are the close 27 million slaves. They range from sex slaves to child slavery and to child soldiers. They are found in the brothels of Cambodia or sweat shops in India. In 2007, it is estimated that the slave traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined!

Many well-known people such as Madeleine Albright, Daryl Hannah, Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristof, and many other political and cultural figures are supporting this movement. Their goal is to bring this issue to the forefront and to inspire people who will get involved to stop this madness. Literally, it is another abolitionist movement.

We have the privilege of hosting this screening. First, it started off as just a small way to reach out to the friends of our LIFE group members. But then, we found out that the director of the movie would be joining us for the screening and that he was open to having a Q & A after the film.

Then, it began to spread to something bigger when all of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) got a wind of what we were doing. Not only are they endorsing this event, but there have been other new outlets wanting to know what is going on and the significance of this film.

We are humbled and privilege to be a part of something that is much bigger than ourselves. This is the greater vision of the whole Transformasphere Movement that I wrote about some years back.

If we can see more people who are convinced of the Gospel and who will bring God’s Kingdom reality to the world, it will be an incredible moment in history. We would see a God-style transformation.