2009 HMCC of Austin Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

It has been a great weekend here in Austin. HMCC of Austin had their first ever congregational retreat. They decided to contextualize it for the many pre-Christians who came out (over half of the people were not believers) and called it the Winter Getaway. It was truly an awesome getaway – we were able to build relationships with one another and experience God together.

As we started off the retreat, we decided to go around and count the number of different nations that were represented in the room. By the time we went around the whole room we counted a total of 11 nations. It was just a breath of fresh air. Even in the beginning stages of this church, God is allowing us to plant the seeds of transculturalism.

The theme for this getaway was “Meet Us Here” and God was truly faithful and allowed us to encounter Him in a powerful way.

One of the highlights was the ropes course and team building activities that we did on Saturday afternoon. Through it we were able to strengthen our relationships with one another and build a greater unity within the group.

Then today, I spoke at HMCC of Austin’s Sunday Celebration. I shared about the importance of building God’s spiritual house. Seeing some of the recent believers who came to know the Lord through our church helped illustrate the important point of reaching out to people to build up this spiritual house.

We finished off the day with an incredible Texas style BBQ. I don’t think anything can beat it. Texans really know how to do their BBQ’s. It was good to just be around the table with good food, friends and fellowship.
Torchy's Tacos.JPG
Fueling up before the retreat with Torchy’s Tacos
Ropes Course.JPG
We had to get our whole team on the platform
Chilling at the Retreat.JPG
Chillin’ with one another
Dave with Fire.JPG
Dave trying to keep the fire going
The guys.jpg
The guys getting ready to pig out with the ribs
BBQ Ribs.jpg
What more can I say
The Team.JPG
Great bunch of guys… it makes church planting so much fun

Miley Cyrus: “I’m Not a Racist!”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Finally, Miley speaks up. But I don’t know if what she said is helping her. Here is what she said on her fan website,

“I’ve also been told there are some people upset about some pictures taken of me with friends making goofy faces! Well, Im sorry if those people looked at those pics and took them wrong and out of context. In NO way was I making fun of any ethnicity! I was simply making a goofy face. When did that become newsworthy… It seems someone is trying to make something out of nothing to me… I definitely feel like the press is trying to make me out as the new ‘BAD GIRL.’ You guys know my heart and know the most important things to me are my friends, family, fans and GOD! In NO WAY do I want to disappoint any of you! But when I have made mistakes in the past, I feel like I’ve owned up to them and apologized.”

I guess the thing that makes her statement a bit disingenuous is her comment about how she and her friends were trying to make “goofy faces.” Hmm… why is it that all their goofy faces have all their eyes squinting. What about your “Asian” friend who was not making a goofy face? He was taking a normal picture. Maybe he doesn’t have to make a goofy face because it is already goofy (sarcasm).

The crazy thing of racism or even an attitude of superiority is that the person usually does not see themselves as racist or having a superior attitude. This is why it is just hilarious. Pride blinds us.

Oh, I don’t know if everyone knows this or not, but she is a Christian; hence the “the most things to me are my friends, family, fans, and GOD” comment. I guess putting “God” in a statement helps her case or shall I say softens the blow. But history will tell us that many people have hid behind religion and Scripture to justify their prejudices and racism.

In the meantime, we will try to give her the benefit of the doubt (for the sake of Karissa) and hopefully her actions will be consistent with what she is saying in her public statement.

Is this Racist or Not?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Miley Cyrus and Chinky Eye.jpg
TMZ Photo
Are you serious?! As you know every tweenie loves Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montana). Karissa, even though she is not a tweenie yet, loves Hannah Montana. But recently Miley Cyrus was caught taking the above picture which was deemed as racist by the OCA.

I know that there are many wide-ranged opinions on this. There are some people who would say that when a person uses their hands to make a slanty-eye gesture that it is not being racist but in fact hilarious, while others would think differently and consider it as borderline racism. I definitely lean toward the latter.

Here is my argument.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “racism” as, “The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. It is the belief that some races are inherently superior (physically, intellectually, or culturally) to others and therefore have a right to dominate them.”

Since racism goes into the deep motive level of a person, I don’t know if every person who gestures a slanty-eye is a racist, but it is something worth examining. It might be more of an issue of insensitivity. But if you think about it, people who are insensitive are usually people who think they are better or superior than others.

Therefore, whether it is a racism issue or an insensitivity issue, I think we can argue from both angles.

If the gesture is to try to imitate a physical aspect of a person (which they cannot change), then you are making fun of a person according to who they are. Let me put it in a crude illustration. If someone imitated a person who had a physical disability, we would all cry out and say that it is insensitive and say point blank that it is wrong. Why? Because we are imitating a person physical aspect that they cannot change.

In the same way, if we were to pick a physical aspect of a particular race (and there are many stereotypes for different races) and start to mimic it then we will know that it is being insensitive. Why? Because, once again the person is making fun of something that the other person is born with and they cannot change it.

In my own issues with racism, I realized that whenever I made fun of another race, it was because I thought I was better than them. I usually picked one trait or aspect of that particular race and accentuated it and used it to justify my humor and crassness. I could have justify it and said that I was just “having fun” or it was a “joke” but at the end of the day, I have made fun of something that the person is either born with or something that they cannot change.

This happened last year with Spain’s Olympic Men’s Basketball team. I wrote about it in a August blog entry.

This is just a reminder of how racism is learned. Kids grow up learning things from their parents, as well as social cues. Christina and I have already discussed this with the kids. Even though it is great to be proud of being Korean-American, it is more important for them to know that they are Christ-followers made in the image of God. I am praying that in their generation some of the issues of racism can be address… but as the phrase goes, “history repeats itself.” This is why we need to be vigilant so that another Holocaust or Rwanda or Sudan or other genocides do not happen. But the scary part is that it all starts off in a small way as being “insensitive” to people who are “different” from us.

This is more of the reason why we need to raise up “transcultural” people in our churches.

I guess my one question is for the Asian guy in the picture – “What are you thinking?” Maybe he was trying to be “white” by keeping his eyes wide open!

You can read up on the story here.

Lessons from a Mandarin Orange

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various

Mandarin Oranges.jpg
The Fruit Company
Our family really enjoys eating fruit. Recently, we have discovered the pamelo fruit – absolutely delicious! It is good to know that they plentiful of this fruit in the S.E. Asia area.

But one fruit that will always be one of our favorites is the Mandarin orange. It is easy to peel and very addictive. A person cannot just eat one.

Usually when we are able to get them from an Asian market, the quality is pretty good – juicy and sweet. But trying to get them at the local Kroger or Meijer grocery store is a hit or a miss. It is sometimes difficult to find the perfect batch of Mandarin oranges.

Recently, the ones that we have purchased have been 50/50 in terms of quality. I try my best to look at the outer peel and the firmness of the orange. It has usually worked for me to ensure that I will not get a bad one. But once in awhile there are those oranges that are pretty bad to eat and I just end up throwing them away.

There is a bowl full of oranges on the dining table. I went through my method of picking the orange by the feel of the peel (hey that rhymes). But for some reason all the ones that looked good ended up being pretty bad tasting oranges. There were also some older and mushy looking oranges in the bowl. As I was about to throw them out, I decided to give them a taste.

Then I was reminded of a learned lesson.

Sometimes the ones that look good on the outside are usually not that good… but the ones that might not look too good on the outside are the ones that are good.

Ah, the principles of life.

Super Bowl Ads

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Was it just me or were there more commercials that had sexual innuendos in this year’s Super Bowl than ever before? It is getting harder and harder to try to protect my children from the rampant sexual culture we are living in right now, and for some reason there are a lot more of it in sporting events on T.V. Maybe it is just a reflection of where we are as a society.

First, it was the “wardrobe malfunction” by Janet Jackson and now this year, some of the commercials definitely had “suggestive” messages. As my kids were all watching the game with me, I found myself cringing a bit. We have already talked to Josiah about sexual issues. As parents, we wanted to be the first ones to talk about it with him rather than hearing it from other sources. We are still waiting for Elliot and Karissa to get to an age where we can talk about it one-on-one – and that age is getting earlier and earlier every year.

It is my prayer that my kids will engage the culture to bring transformation to it with God’s Kingdom perspective, but we are hoping they can do it with purity in their hearts.

A Different Standard?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Phelps Encircled.jpg
Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer has recently apologized for a photograph that showed him using marijuana. Phelps has acknowledged that his behavior was inappropriate and wrote a public statement (probably by a good PR agent), in which he said, “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

Phelps was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as their sportsman of the year. He was selected as AP male athlete of the year. Also, his accomplishment of winning 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics was chosen as the top story of 2008.

With all these accolades his Olympic teammate, Dara Torres said something interesting. Torres mentioned that everything Phelps does becomes news because he is a prominent figure. Torres said, “It’s sort of a double-edged sword. When you’re recognizable, you’re looked up to as a role model. He is recognizable and everything you do gets looked at and picked apart. I guess that’s the price of winning 14 Olympic medals.”

As I was thinking about this story, it reminded me of an important principle in leadership. When you are a public figure, the cost is higher. Leadership is not easy. In fact so many people want the spotlight but they fail to see the cost that is involved. Too often people want to be up on the stage, but they don’t realize how their lives will be scrutinized and held to a different standard. I don’t know if this is necessarily fair, but it comes with the ball game.

There has been a movement within the leadership circles to try to emphasize more of the humanity of leaders so that they will not be put up on a pedestal (translation = use the same standard that is used on everyone else). The purpose is to show that there is power in leading out of brokenness and the leader’s own struggle with various issues. But regardless of such attempts, there is something inside a person that says that if you are a leader then we expect more from you. Maybe it is the biblical principle that says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (Jas 3:1).

It is interesting how the people in the Olympic circles have been quick to express their disappointment, but at the same time they have decided not to do anything about it.

The problem is this – marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances. But even though it is prohibited during competition, it does not say anything about the use of it out of competition. Also, Phelps in his apologize statement said, “I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

Hmm… what did he mean by this?

“It will not happen again” in the sense that he will use better judgment next time and remember to not do something illegal in public for the whole to see but in private it is ok or “it will not happen again” in the sense that he will stop using drugs? It is hard to tell. We are all hoping for the latter.

This is where we have the semi-dilemma. If he is not punished for doing something illegal it will send a message to a lot of people, especially young people and people who look up to him as a role model. But if he is punished, then what would the terms of punishment be? Are the people in the Olympic circles willing to make such a tough call? Will the companies that have endorsed him pull out?

Whatever happens from this point on, there will be a message sent to people one way or another, especially to the younger Olympic-aspiring swimmer. Therefore, it is important for me, as a father to get the right message that I want to get across to my kids.

You can read the Phelps’ story here on ESPN.