The Last Sermon

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

pastor-fred-winters
Photo from FBC website
 
 
In light of the tragic death of Rev. Fred Winters of First Baptist Church in Maryville, IL, it is hard to believe we have come to a point in this world where people are being gunned down in churches. Even though this is not the first time a gunman entered into a church wanting to kill people, it is just sad that a place where people come to hear the message of hope, is turned into a place of horror for a brief moment.

This will be a difficult time for the members, but most of all for his family. He left behind a wife and two daughters. I can’t even imagine what they are going through and the thoughts that are running through their minds. It is my prayer that not only will God comfort them but God would give them His perspective in this whole situation (Ro 8:28).

I first heard about the news when I was sitting in the back of our Sunday Celebration and one of the pastors showed me a CNN alert on his phone. I was stunned.

It was another fresh reminder that life is short and we just do not know when the Lord will call us home. It is my prayer that whenever my time is up, that I would be found faithful and doing what God has called me to do – this would be the best way to meet the Savior face-to-face.

All-Night Prayer 2009

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

all-nighter09
 
 
It has been awhile since our church had an All-Night Prayer Gathering. After coming off the 21 Days of Awakening, as the pastoral staff and I talked, we felt a greater sense of urgency with prayer. Usually when God prompts His people to prayer, it is because there is something that God wants to show us. No matter what it is – at the end it, is always a good thing.

In various seasons of prayer, I have realized that God uses the need for prayer:

1) To point out something
2) To prepare us for something
3) To protect us from something
4) To persist in something

 
 
It is amazing that in the posture of prayer, we become more sensitive to the voice of God; therefore when God points out something in our lives (usually an area of sin, disobedience, unfaithfulness, etc), we are able to respond.

There have been many times when God was going to do something great or require us to do some great things; therefore He brings us in a season of prayer to increase our faith and to ready us for the task. This has been true of our church plants, as well as other things in the past.

God also uses prayer to protect us from things. There is power in unity, especially when unity is built through prayer. So often Satan attacks within the church, therefore when God’s people pray they are able to overcome any attack or trial.

Lastly, prayer enables us to find greater strength to endure. There have been many times when in a spirit of prayer, I have experience a God-given strength that is powerful and unexplainable. God is faithful to work out everything in our lives. This is why I believe He will provide everything we need to persist in our calling. I love the verse in the book of Hebrews where it says, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21).

I hope many of you will come out to our All-Nighter. Even if you can only come out for a few hours – come out! We are expecting great things from our Father.

Leadership Lesson: Truth Always Helps

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

counseling-session
Photo by BusinessWeek
 
 
One of the principles that I have been trying to teach our members is: “You will only be helped to the extent you tell the truth. In fact, this principle can be applied to many other areas. Whether it is on opposite-sex relationships, addictions or even accountability, unless a person is telling the truth, he or she cannot be fully helped.

Too often people settle for cosmetic fixes and then, we begin to wonder what went wrong when things get out of control. Cosmetic changes will never get to the root problems or issues. We need a complete transformation from the inside out.

Elizabeth Cohen, a CNN senior medical correspondent shares an illustration in her article, “10 ‘Secrets’ You Shouldn’t Keep from Your Doctor.” Cohen writes,

“Do you remember the scene in the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ where Jack Nicholson’s character lies about Viagra to a doctor in the emergency room? Many patients are embarrassed to talk to their doctors about certain subjects, like sex, finances and bad habits. Many patients are embarrassed to talk to their doctors about certain subjects, like sex, finances and bad habits.

He’d just had a heart attack after romancing a (much younger) woman, and the doctor is furiously calling out orders to give him aspirin, blood pressure drugs, and… nitroglycerine. ‘Mr. Sanborn, did you take any Viagra today?’ the doctor asks as the nurses load him up with the medicines. ‘No. No Viagra,’ he says.

‘Okay, good. Just need to be sure. Because I put nitroglycerin into your drip. And if you’d taken Viagra, the combination could be fatal,’ the doctor warns. Cut to Nicholson, who rips the IV out of his arm.”

 
 
I was thinking how hilariously funny this scene is when you thing about all the factors involved. Here is a person who doesn’t want to tell the truth because of his embarrassment or insecure but later realized that it could have (and would have been) fatal.

Why is it that only when things are fatal then people will start telling the truth? The self-preservation spirit is strong. I don’t know many people I have counseled over the years where if the person just told the truth early on then they could have saved themselves a lot of heartaches and headaches.

This brings up another point.

Self-deception is often times so deep and elusive that many people cannot catch it until it is too late. This is the reason why God’s Truth has to be the filter that we constantly run thing through. If we don’t, then we will find ourselves trying to pull out the IV but it will be too late.

Maybe David in the Bible finally understand the importance of this when he wrote, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Ps 51:6).

Leadership Lesson: Leadership is about Influence

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

steele-and-limbaugh
Photo by Livesteez
 
 
I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up with the news, but the situation with the Republican Party’s Chairman, Michael Steele and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is good material for lessons on leadership.

In the wake of Michael Steele’s interview by CNN’s D.L. Hughley, Steele tried to make it clear that he, not Limbaugh, was in charge of the Republican party. This response came as top-level Democrats are trying to portray Rush Limbaugh as the “leader” of the GOP.

First of all, when you have to tell people that you are the leader, then you are not really “being” the leader. Too often people think leadership is about positions, but in reality it is all about influence. In my experience with leadership, I have realized that there are people who do not have positions of leadership but they are the ones who are really leading; and there are people who do have the positions of leadership but they are not the ones who are leading anything.

This brings up a tension which I have seen many times before – either the positional leader will feel threatened and then try to exert more control or the person with the real influence will feel frustrated and leave that situation.

This is why positional leadership is the lowest form of leadership because once the title is gone the person is no longer “leading.” The highest form of leadership is when you are able to attract and lead other leaders (leaders of leaders, so to speak).

The situation with Steele and Limbaugh has been political fodder in the last few days. In fact some of the Democrats have made a website entitled, “I’m Sorry, Rush,” where people can make their own sarcastic apology to Rush Limbaugh.

So the question remains, “Who is leading the Republican Party?” Is it the person, with well over 13 million listeners or a person who has the position of Republican National Committee Chairman?

Leadership Lesson: Making Wise Decisions

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

hard-decisions

Photo by entrepreneur4life
 
 
Every leader has to make decisions. Leaders lead, therefore decisions have to be made by the person leading. But all leaders know that there are times when decisions are not so easy. Sometimes decisions are complex. Sometimes decisions will entail a win-lose. Sometimes decisions will hurt others. Sometimes decisions will not be applauded by everybody.

I think this is one of the reasons why there are always some hesitations when it comes to making some important decisions. It doesn’t help when we fall into one of the two extremes: either we are afraid of failure or we are too impulsive in making a decision.

But regardless of which extreme we tend to lean towards, decisions have to be made by all leaders; therefore Gordon S. Jackson offers a helpful and practical “decision tree” method to help us navigate through the forest of decision making.

In Jackson’s book, “A Handbook for Discovering God’s Will” he gives these steps:

1. Is your decision in accordance with Scripture?

  • If “Yes,” then proceed to next question; if “No,” don’t go any further.

2. Does your decision find support in your prayers?

  • If “Yes,” then proceed to next question; if “No,” don’t go any further.

3. Does the advice of others you trust support your decision?

  • If “Yes,” then proceed to next question; if “No,” don’t go any further.

4. Have circumstances made it possible for you to act on your decision?

  • If “Yes,” then proceed to next question; if “No,” consider the matter closed or go back to Scripture and prayer.

5. Having reached this point, do you have a sense of peace about your decision?

  • If “Yes,” then you can feel confident in your decision; if “No,” consider the matter closed or go back to Scripture and prayer.

The Beauty of Skylines

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

chicago-skyline-at-night
Photo by Richard Seaman
 
 
 
USA Today published an article called, 10 Great Places to Study Skylines of the World. The list was created by James Blakeway, who is the author of “Skylines of the World.”

I have always had a slight artistic side in me; therefore when that side mixes with my love for the city, it fuels my fascination with city skylines, especially at night.

Whenever you see a skyline of a city, you can’t help but to notice the flavor of the city. It is amazing how various shapes and sizes of the buildings can add to the beauty of the skyline. This is why there are no identical city skylines in the world. Each one has its own unique characteristic traits.

As I think about this, I come to reflect on the Church. It is interesting that each church has its unique shape (skyline, if you will). It is made up of various types of people, with varying gifts and talents. The different backgrounds and experiences of the people add a lot to the composition of the church. But at the end, it makes up a beautiful mosaic.

The church, which is made up of people and not necessarily a building, is suppose to be the city on the hill that cannot be hidden (Mt 5:14). What would it be like if we shined a little bit more brightly in a dark world… what a great skyline it would be.