Enough is Enough

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Photo by pdesigner.com
I don’t know how many of you have been following the news this past week, but there are a lot of global things going on right now. Recently, the United Nations (U.N.) had their 61st General Assembly session in NYC. Not only was this meeting a bit tense due to all the political issues around the world, but I am still trying to understand what good came out of it or will come out of it in the future.

The United Nations was started in 1945 after World War II. This international organization’s mission and goals were clear – after all the devastation of WWII, the U.N. was established to bring nations together on common ground and dialogue in order to prevent any future wars. The premise was that if countries would cooperate on common international laws and international issues such as economic development and human rights, then we would have the world peace that we so desperately desire.

But with all due respect to the U.N. and the people who are trying to reach global peace, the U.N. has been very ineffective. In fact, when you look at their track record, you will notice a lot of resolutions that got passed but they were never really enforced. This is the problem with a lot of things in life. If you end up barking really loud but do not follow up with action or punishment, then you will lose your authority and your ability to lead.

With the recent discovery of Iran’s secret uranium enrichment facility, it was an embarrassing moment for all the people who believed that diplomatic efforts would help Iran disarm their nuclear pursuits. More importantly, it revealed the character of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On Friday at the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad vehemently denied that there was a secret nuclear site in his country. He even went as far as to say that some of the global powers would regret their accusation of Iran hiding a nuclear facility. But we discovered through satellite photograph that he lied.

What is more troubling is that Iran has recently test-fired two short-range missiles that have the capability of reaching Israel and various U.S. targets in the Gulf region.

The thought that came to my mind is – when do we cease diplomatic talks and approaches and start taking some hard measures? Diplomatic talks only work when both sides are trying to come to some agreement. But when one side is already determined to accomplish something and defy the efforts of the other side, all the diplomatic talks will not help.

Then I started to think about God’s dealings with us.

How many times has God shown grace and patience with us? He has “diplomatically reasoned” with us by revealing how much He loves us and cares for us. God has also refrained from delivering His wrath many times throughout our disobedience. He has even poured out His favor when we least deserved it. God is constantly trying to bring us back. In fact, His kindness should lead us towards repentance (Ro 2:4). But does it?

How long will His patience with us last? I guess every day that passes by, it is a reminder of His unlimited grace and mercy.

Even with this understanding, we cannot forget about Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus. Every time when God relented and there was relief, Pharaoh would harden his heart and would not listen (Ex 8:15). Then we see God fully “unloading” his judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt for not allowing God’s people to be released. But the quandary appears in Ex 10:1 when God tells Moses, “For I have hardened his heart.” Can God really do that? Does God harden people’s hearts? Shouldn’t God then be culpable for the lack of obedience in people?

Theologians have always argued that when a person is already determined to disobey and willfully go against God’s will, even after many warnings, then God willingly gives them over to their decisions. So the hardening of one’s heart is a decision that the person has made and God is just confirming what is already decided upon by the person.

This is when we realize that mercy always triumphs over judgment (Jas 2:13).

We need more of God’s mercy.

I am wondering in what ways is God trying to diplomatically to speak to us?

Making Changes

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various

Change Sign
Photo on Flickr
Even though it has been a little less than 3 months since we have been here in Indonesia, God is showing us a lot of different things. By His grace, God has allowed us, not only to transition well, but to reinforce a lot of the values that we took for granted in the States.

It is funny how God had to send me all the way to Indonesia to work on certain things in my life. Change is never easy, but as we commit ourselves to transformation, we will begin to see glimmer of hope.

Since it was the holiday season here in Indonesia, this week, God gave our family an opportunity to spend some time together. We were able to visit another city here in Indonesia, which was about a few hours away from Jakarta. It was awesome to get exposed to more of the beautiful Indonesian culture. In particular, we were introduced to the Sundanese culture. We enjoyed eating their cuisine and learning more about their cultural traditions.

Couple of things that I did differently on this trip from all my other family trips were: a) I did not bring my laptop; 2) I finished my sermon before the trip (well, 90% of it).

To me, it didn’t seem like a big deal, but to Christina and the family it spoke volumes.

Sometimes, a person doesn’t know much they are connected to something (or how it has become a part of them) until it is gone. At first, it felt a bit weird without my laptop. After putting the kids to sleep, I started to get withdrawal symptoms. But I realized how helpful it was for me and my time with my family without the laptop.

Also, by not having the sermon preparations looming over my head, it allowed me to just relax and enjoy my time with the family.

My kids noticed the difference. My wife of thirteen years noticed the difference. I, even noticed the difference. I couldn’t believe I didn’t make the change sooner. After all these “revelations,” I said to Christina, “Why didn’t I do this before?” Then Christina responded by saying, “It’s because you never listen to me! I have been saying this for the LAST 13 YEARS!”

Well, I am still working on listening to Christina (the first time around), but it is getting better. After all my failures and hearing that still small voice saying, “I told you so!” I am more open to change. I am still trying to figure out why the Holy Spirit’s voice sounds so much like Christina’s voice :-)

The Concept of Personal Space

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Photo by Reuters
As you can tell from the picture above, things are crowded in Indonesia. This picture describes not only the massive amount of motorcycles on the road, but also the chaos on the streets as people are all trying to get home for the Hari Raya Idul Fitri holiday.

I am coming to understand the magnitude of being in a country that has the 4th largest population in the world (behind China, India and the United States). There are times when places get so crowded that it overwhelms you. People are everywhere. Sometimes places get so crowded that it is literally shoulders to shoulder.

Personally, I like places where there are a lot of people, therefore I don’t really mind the traffic and the busyness. But one thing that I had to wrestle through was the “personal space” issue. It has been stated that for a Westerner, a person’s comfort zone is estimated around 24.5 inches (60 centimeters) on either side, 27.5 inches (70 centimeters) in front and 15.75 inches (40 centimeters) behind. But of course, in more densely populated places such as India or Indonesia they have a smaller personal space dimension.

I didn’t realized how much I loved my personal space until it got violated. Recently, my family and I were at a public place and there were hundreds, if not thousands of people in a small space. In order for people to get a better view of the presentation, they crawled, pushed (shoved), and pressed against our bodies. It was so bad that I started to sweat from the body heat from the people who were pressing against us.

At first, I couldn’t help but to get a bit upset. I even judged some of the parents for not teaching their children to say, “excuse me” when they bumped into people. But then again, it was also the parents who were shoving and pushing. Let’s just say that I had a very hard time being Christ-like in that situation.

But then I had to rethink about my paradigm and worldview.

I come from a place where individualism is highly prized and valued. Also, the concept of personal space is very important to a Westerner. But in Indonesia and many other countries that are more communal, the concept of “my space” is not really reinforced nor is it something that is valued. Your space is my space and my space is your space – this is the operative phrase here.

Once again, we are the foreigners and we need to learn how to adjust. It would have been so easy to exert my Western ideals unto a group of people but that would have been not only arrogant, but insensitive to people who operate under a completely different mindset.

Therefore, our family gave up our demand for personal space and just went with the flow. It was quite the experience but it made us feel like we were part of something bigger (literally).

The “I” in Idolatry

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Buddha and monks statue meditaing, Laos.
Photo by Anne Elliott
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “idolatry” as, “blind or excessive devotion to something.” It is interesting that throughout the Bible one theme that keeps on coming up is the topic of idols. It is germane to who we are as God’s people. God created us to worship Him and to have no other gods or idols before Him (Ex 20:3-4), but we have not taken this command seriously. Hence, we see all the heartaches and headaches in our lives from worshiping created things rather the Creator.

Once we forsake God’s intended plan of living for Him and start to live for ourselves, or other people or other things, then we will fall prey to idolatry. The interesting thing about idolatry is that we constantly attempt to make God into our image – someone that we can manipulate and control. We take the created things and set our hearts on them and start to build our lives around them. This explains why we feel so devastated when we lose our idols. When our whole lives revolve around our idols, not only does it give us a false sense of security but it can ruin us when God takes them away.

Tim Keller makes an interesting observation on this topic of idols. He writes,

“We reversed the original intended order. And when we began to worship and serve created things, paradoxically, the created things came to rule over us. We will either worship the uncreated God or we will worship some created thing (an idol). There is no possibility of our worshipping nothing. Since we need to worship something, because of how we are created, we cannot eliminate God without creating God-substitutes.

Whatever we worship we will serve, for worship and service are always inextricably bound together. We are ‘covenantal’ beings. We enter into covenant service with whatever most captures our imagination and heart. It ensnares us. So every human personality, community, thought-form, and culture will be based on some ultimate concern or some ultimate allegiance – either to God or to some God-substitute.

Individually, we will ultimately look either to God or to success, romance, family, status, popularity, beauty or something else to make us feel personally significant and secure, and to guide our choices. Culturally we will ultimately look to either God or to the free market, the state, the elites, the will of the people, science and technology, military might, human reason, racial pride, or something else to make us corporately significant and secure, and to guide our choices.”

God is passionately pursuing us. He wants our allegiance. Therefore, God will do everything and anything to get us to a point where we can repent and relinquish our idols and turn to Him. If we don’t, then idolatry has a way of leading us further into bondage and blindness. We become slaves to our idols and we get blinded to the deceptiveness of sin.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to help identify the idols in your life:

1) What consumes most of your thoughts and feelings?
2) What motivates you to do things?
3) What are you most afraid of?
4) What brings the highest amount of frustration or anger?
5) What is one thing that can change your mood in a second?
6) What would your friends say is your favorite topic of conversation?
7) What are some things that you feel you can’t live without?
8) What brings solace to you?
9) What do you yearn for?
10) What is one thing that you wish God would do for you?

There is a really good likelihood that some of your answers to the questions above involve good things – i.e. family, church, friends, ministry, etc. These things by themselves are not bad things, but we have to remember when we make good things into “ultimate things,” then it is a sin (idolatry). When we define ourselves or construct our lives around these good things, then they take allegiance over God and we no longer make God a priority.

This is why sometimes we never realize how much something has become an idol until we lose it. It is painful and heart wrenching. It can lead us into depression. It almost feels like the world is coming to an end. But this is the weaning process that God puts us through so that we can long for Him.

As we identify the idols in our lives, we must repent, relinquish, and resolve to live for God, who is the only One worthy of all our worship. If not, then God will pry open our fingers off the idol that grips us, in order to help us refocus our heart’s affection on Christ.

True Freedom

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

In Chains
Photo on Diane Beeler website
In class yesterday, we had a good discussion on the topic of freedom. I challenged the students to think about the true meaning of freedom as we were going over the Old Testament. I pointed out that we see the plight of humankind constantly disobeying God, even though God clearly marks out the boundaries for us.

Then I imposed the question, “Can we say that we are truly free when God commands us not to do certain things in the Bible? Isn’t that restricting our freedom?” After a minute of thinking through the question, most of the students were in agreement with the worldview that says that we are not free because of restrictions placed on us.

But then, this one girl raised her hand and said, “No, we are free because true freedom is the ability to choose what is right!” I was impressed.

I proceeded to draw an illustration of the point a bit further. I asked the students to think about a drug addict, alcoholic or even a porn addict. If we were to look at them, it is easy for the world to say that they are free to do whatever they want apart from God. But if we were to ask the drug addict, alcoholic or porn addict to stop what they are doing, will they be able to? Aren’t they in bondage to those things, which inherently shows that they are not truly free?

As I continued to explain, I can tell that the students were slowly getting it. In fact, they understood that in order to understand the true nature of freedom, they needed to understand that it is counter-intuitive thought. We normally think that when there are boundaries, rules, and laws then we are lacking in freedom and that when we are able to do whatever we want to do then we are free. But it is just the opposite.

When we choose to obey freely, then we will experience true freedom.

J. M. Njoroge who is part of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries speaking team shares some similar thoughts. He writes in a poignant and clear way regarding the true nature of freedom. Njoroge writes,

“Biblically speaking, freedom is the ability to function the way God designed us to function. This is the reason why freedom and truth are so intertwined; we need to know what our purpose and design are before we can exercise the freedom to fulfill our mission on earth. That is also true of things we ourselves make. A meticulously manufactured Ferrari which, I’ve been told, is a marvel on the road, is completely useless in the ocean. A hammer functions at its best when it is pounding nails, and a multi-million dollar piece of equipment made for space travel is useless to us unless we know its purpose. Similarly, we function at our best when our lives measure up to our Designer’s specifications. It is true that God’s purposes can be fulfilled even through people who reject Him, but true freedom is found only in Him.

Misunderstanding the kind of freedom Christ offers leads to a distorted view of the nature of sin. Some find it hard to give a good reason why sin is prohibited by God. Don’t God’s prohibitions limit our freedom? Wouldn’t some acts, at least, be harmlessly enjoyable if God, for some curious reason, did not brand them ‘sin?’ The answer to both questions is no, and the reason is that sin is a serious defect in humanity, not a virtue. It will eventually turn those who relentlessly cling to it into grotesque distortions of God’s original intent for them. Anything that impedes our progress towards our true identity and calling diverts us from our journey to freedom, even when no one else finds out.

That is why it is not quite true to tell people that knowing the truth will set them free. That phrase is part of a very instructive discipleship statement in John 8:31-32 which reads, ‘To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ Did you notice the conditional nature of the freedom proclaimed here? Only by holding to the teaching of Christ in the context of purposeful discipleship can true freedom be found. James 1:25 tells us that practicing God’s perfect law gives us freedom. Without a clear understanding of our call to freedom in Christ, our thirst for righteousness and passion for the lost will be seriously hindered, for we will secretly think that the requirements of righteousness are really deprivations.”

Maybe instead of asking, “Are we free?” maybe we need to ask, “Are we obeying God?” Obedience to God’s will indeed brings tremendous freedom in our lives.

Kanye West and Manners

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Photo by Getty
It has been a couple of days now and I was debating whether to write some of my thoughts on what happened at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA). At first I wasn’t going to write anything, but then I decided for the sake of reinforcing the values of manners to my kids, I decided to write some brief thoughts.

For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, you can watch a video of it here.

When I first saw the news outlets’ video on what happened, I was at first shocked at Kanye’s actions and then it turned into disgust. In Taylor Swift’s moment to shine, Kanye decided to snuff it out by an obnoxious outburst. In fact, his action has turned out to be a public relations mess. In order to salvage some of his reputation, Kanye decided to appear on the Jay Leno show for an impromptu interview. In the interview, Leno asked a very poignant question. He asked Kanye what his mother would have thought about his actions.

Some people thought that question was out of line since Kanye’s mom recently passed away, while others thought it was an appropriate question.

For me the bigger issue deals with two things:

1) Manners are something that is taught and caught. Even in the word of Kanye, he admitted that his actions were rude. What causes a person to be rude? Society’s influence? Lack of good parenting? Whatever is the major cause, the bottom line is that in our generation we are seeing more people who do not have manners. Whether it comes in the form of eating manners, house manners, public conduct manners, and etc., we have to understand that a lot of these things are learned. Therefore it is an issue of parents not teaching their kids about it or people who are just rebellious to human decency. We need to bring back civility in our lifestyle. Showing respect, politeness, courtesy, and regard for others, are biblical principles that would be good for our generation good to follow.

2) Self-centeredness causes us to do inappropriate things. I had to watch the video several times in order to try to understand what would cause a person to do what Kanye did. He wanted to let the whole world know that Beyoncé Knowles had a better video. Now, my question is what was his motivation for stating his opinion when it was Taylor Swift who won? Did he think that his opinion was more important? Was there some hidden motive behind his outburst? Did he think at all about how Taylor Swift would feel by this outburst? If you watch this video outburst backstage, it will give you an insight to what is going on emotionally as well as mentally for Kanye.

When all was said and done, not only did Taylor Swift shine because when she had the opportunity to say something back, she withheld her tongue, but more importantly Beyoncé showed some class. When Beyoncé won an award, she invited Taylor to come up and finish off her acceptance speech that was cut short by Kanye.

Rolling Stone magazine wrote, “A source close to Swift tells [us] Beyoncé’s father/manager Matthew Knowles came backstage to see Taylor and helped arrange her belated acceptance speech.”

This reminded me that good parenting and people who keep their self-centeredness in check are the ones who are shining the most at the end of the day.

On another note, do you know what President Obama thought about Kanye and his actions? Hmm… if you are curious you can check it out here.
Beyonce and Swift
Photo by Getty
Beyoncé gives a hug to Taylor after allowing her to finish her speech – A class act!

Producing Racist People

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

Photo by Smart Expressions
There was an interesting Newsweek article entitled, “Is Your Kid a Racist?” It caught my attention to say the least. What parent wants to raise their child as a racist? I guess there are probably some but that is for another blog entry.

If a parent knew that they were raising a racist kid, wouldn’t they want to do something about it, especially if they are a Christian parent. There are so many Bible references that address the issue of racism. With this being said, there are many people who are just simply unaware of how racist they are or can become even within the Christian circles.

The Newsweek article was stating that there might be a negative link with diverse schools and racism. We would like to think that the more diverse a school is that there would be more interaction with people from different races. But according to James Moody from Duke University, found out that there might be an opposite correlation – the more diverse, the less cross-race relationships.

Moody analyzed collected data from 112 different schools within the United States with a pool of 90,000 teenagers participants for the study.

The article reads,

“The students had been asked to name their five best male friends and their five best female friends. Moody matched the ethnicity of the student with the race of each named friend, then compared the number of each student’s cross-racial friendships with the school’s overall diversity. Moody found that the more diverse the school, the more the kids self-segregate by race and ethnicity within the school, and thus the likelihood that any two kids of different races have a friendship goes down. Moody included statistical controls for activities, sports, academic tracking, and other school-structural conditions that tend to desegregate (or segregate) students within the school. The rule still holds true: more diversity translates into more division among students. Those increased opportunities to interact are also, effectively, increased opportunities to reject each other. And that is what’s happening.”

Moody suggests that there is a double message being sent. On one hand, students are encouraged to have a friend from another race, but then the reality is that students are likely to hang out with their own “kind.”

Isn’t this what we are seeing even in the churches too? In the name of trying to be multi-ethnic or multi-cultural, we end up seeing people just “tolerate” one another because it is the “right” thing to do. So even though a church might be multi-ethnic, I am wondering if it is causing people to “stick” with their own kind more. I guess the best test is not seeing what is happening during the worship gathering but right afterwards during the fellowship time.

Who do we naturally gravitate towards? Who do we seek out after?

One of the values of transculturalism is the willingness to be uncomfortable and awkward. Our natural tendency is to seek comfort and do things that are the least awkward for us. But the challenge in HMCC is to purposely put ourselves in an awkward and uncomfortable situation so that we can live out the Gospel and show the world that Christ is the reason why we can love people who are “different” from us.

But this is a tall order.

Only our commitment to Christ and to one another can help thrust us into this direction. This is our prayer, “Lord uproot the racist tendency within all of us!”

The Greatest Ever

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

Recently, in light of Michael Jordan’s induction to the NBA’s Hall of Fame, I was reminded of the inspiration Michael Jordan has been to so many people who played and play the game of basketball. It is hard not to get a bit nostalgic, since I grew up in Chicago. I still remember in my younger years, when my friends and I would play basketball and try to imitate some of his moves on the court.

In the last two decades, Michael Jordan has become the icon of basketball, as well as the ambassador for basketball. I still remember going to China and other countries for missions and almost everyone knew who Michael Jordan was. In fact, Jordan was more known by people than the name of Jesus.

Jordan’s love for the game was infectious and the level that he played at was phenomenal. Not only was he one of the fiercest competitors, but his ability to elevate other players’ game to a higher level was incredible to see.

When you see him play you can’t help but to be in awe.

When we witness people who are passionate about what they do and who are also good at what they do, they become an incredible inspiration. I am wondering if followers of Christ can learn some lessons on being an inspiration from Jordan.

Today, I saw this video on his last NBA game and it just encapsulated a lot of the impact that he had on the game and also on the people. Even though it was an away game, there was so much respect and love from the opposing team and their fans. This only happens when you have transcended the game.

I couldn’t help but to get a bit teary eyed as I saw the response of MJ and the fans in that arena. I am wondering if this is how it is going to be when the writer of Hebrews talks about the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). When everything is said and done, the question for us will be – “Did we live our lives passionately for Christ and do what God has called us to do?”
Here is MJ’s last game as a professional NBA player. What a way to go out in glory!

Music by the Birds

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Here is something for those of you who enjoy music.

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

“Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn’t the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

I sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who I Googled on the internet. He told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper.

Here I’ve posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds).”

The 8th Year Anniversary of 9-11

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

NYC Twin Tower Lights
Photo by Derek Jensen
It is hard to believe that eight years have passed by since the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. It seems like a distant memory.

As every year passes by, more people will either get numb to what happened or they will feel distant from the actual event. Just think about the memorial for Pearl Harbor. Now that several generations have passed by, we feel so far removed from the Japan’s attack on U.S. soil.

On this day of remembrance for the thousands of people who died on the 9-11 terrorist attacks, here are some thoughts that I wanted to share:

1) We always have to be prepared for our death. Life is so short and fragile. You ask anyone who has experienced a tragedy and they will tell you that they never expected to experience what they experienced. We just don’t know what will happen to us and when it will happen. This is why we always have to be prepared to meet our Creator. I want to live everyday as if it is my last.

2) Live life without regrets.
I don’t know why but every time I think about the 9-11 tragedy, I think about all the people who are now living with regret. It might be strange for me to think this, but I think about all the people who didn’t tell their loved ones that they loved them. I think about all the broken relationships that were not mended. I think about all the people that needed to ask for forgiveness and receive forgiveness but did not. I think some of the people who always had hopes and dreams for something great but were always too afraid to live them out. It is often times when we lose someone then we left with thoughts of, “I should have… I would have… I could have…” Regrets in life always put a hole in the heart.

3) Pray for the Muslim world. Living out here in Indonesia, I am getting a better view of the Muslim world. It is so easy to judge or view Muslims in a certain way that might be negative. It is sort of similar to how the secular world lumps all the Christians together as bigoted, narrow-minded, right-wing fanatics. But I am finding out that the Muslims here in Indonesia, by and large are wonderful people. There are definitely things that we do not see eye-to-eye on, but there are a lot of commonalities such as their respect for their elders, love for the family, the desire to be holy and live a righteous life, their compassion for the poor, and etc. We need to start praying that God will open their eyes to Isa (Jesus).

4) Honor and thank those who are serving in the military or who have served in the military. There is still a war going on in Afghanistan and Iraq is trying to stabilize. As many people gave their lives to serve our country in the current and previous wars to ensure our freedom, we need to learn to honor them and thank them for their service. I am always encouraged to hear about the various stories of people signing up for military service after what happened on 9-11. It is by God’s grace that we have not been struck with a terrorist attack for the last 8 years.

Doing the Father’s Will

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

Crazy Clock
Photo from Craziestgadgets
This morning, I was reminded of this quote from Charles E. Hummel’s book, The Tyranny of the Urgent:

“Jesus did not finish all the urgent tasks in Palestine or all the things He would have liked to do, but He did finish the work which God gave Him to do. The only alternative to frustration is to be sure that we are doing what God wants. Nothing substitutes for knowing that this day, this hour, in this place, we are doing the will of the Father. Then and only then can we think of all the other unfinished tasks with equanimity and leave them with God.”

The first month here in Indonesia was a big transition for me, not only because we were in a new country but because I literally saw my family almost 24/7. It was awesome! In the States due to my schedule and various responsibilities, it was hard trying to juggle everything that I had to do. There are times when I feel like everything is important, whether it was family, church, relationships, school, and etc.

But coming out here to Indonesia a lot of my responsibilities are no longer there and it frees me up to spend a lot more time with the family and with people. Within the first month, I did not have to spend time in preparing a sermon, since our church did not start until last week. I did not have to go to a lot of meetings, since we were just starting here. It was great just meeting up with various church members, as well as other church and organization leaders.

This past week everything changed.

With God’s opening to teach at UPH and with our regular Sunday Celebration starting and with more people coming out to our church, I am sensing the crunch that I felt when I was in the States all over again. On one hand, it is not a bad thing because I would rather be busy than lazy. But where I do struggle with is knowing when to allow unfinished task to go unfinished.

One thing that I cannot stand is unfinished things – books halfway read, starting a project and not finishing, not following through on my commitments and etc. But the more I think about my frustrations, the more I am coming to the conclusion that it deals with two things:

1) Before starting something, you have to know if it is something that God wants you to do or it will lead to a lot of frustrations. There are a myriad of reasons and motivations in why we do what we do. Many of them are good but some are definitely bad for us. When we do things because we are self-focused or selfish (wanting to please someone, protect our reputation, our pride, our insecurities, etc), then we will experience things that we do not want to experience. We will end up getting bitter, frustrated, angry, discouraged and even depressed. This is why listening to and for God’s voice is critical. Also, this is how conviction is built. When we listen to God’s voice, then we can have more certainty as we engage in the task at hand. But if are not discerning or listening, then we can make a decision to engage and feel overwhelmed. Whenever we have God’s conviction, we will be able to do His will, no matter how hard it may appear.

2) We have to finish, not what we want to do but what God gave us to do. My problem is that there are a lot of things I “like” and “want” to do. This is the dreamer/idealist side of me. It is also because I have a passion and interest in so many different things. But as I am getting older, I am realizing the more important question to ask is, “Am I doing what God has called me to do?” Not once, has He asked me, “Seth, are you doing what you want to do?” This does not mean that we cannot do what we are passionate or excited about, but rather it is the issue of timing or doing things in the right season. In the words of Hummel, “Nothing substitutes for knowing that this day, this hour, in this place, we are doing the will of the Father.” I am praying that I can get to the point of saying, “yes, this day, this hour, in this place, I am doing the will of the Father,” the more I will be able to experience greater joy and freedom.

Even though things are busy and picking up again for me, I am certain that this is what God has called me to do. It is undeniable. Therefore, I have to believe that God will “equip me with everything good for doing His will” (Heb 13:21).

Jesus is our perfect example. He said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). This is my heart’s desire; and it is prayer that I will do the will of Him who sent me here to Indonesia.

HMCC Inaugural Celebration in Indonesia

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories, Viewpoint

It has been a few days since our Inaugural Sunday Celebration and I had some time to soak in and reflect on what God has been doing here in Indonesia. Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Church planting requires 110% commitment. I have been telling our team that church planting is not for the weak of heart. Our mission was clear from the beginning and we knew the price that we needed to pay in order to see this church get started. There are times when we lose focus or even the strength to go on; but this is when we need to learn how to press through in prayer. God has to work in us in order for us to sustain ourselves in the ministry.

2) Staring a church is about relationships. Too often churches come with nicely packaged systems and curriculums to start the church. It is easy to think that somehow this will build up the church. But the reality is that no matter how good the packaging might be, it really comes down to the time and investment made into relationships. The Church is not a building or a program, it is made up of people; therefore we need to build up people and then the church will grow.

3) You have to be flexible and constantly listening to God. Things are so fluid and flowing that if we are so set on things (sometimes hard to distinguish between conviction and stubbornness), then there is a good possibility that we can totally miss God. I am learning the importance of listening to God at every moment. Sometimes God wants us to make a shift right on the spot, which drives people who are planners up the wall. But we only have two choices – either we stick with our plans or go with God’s plan. In all the years of doing ministry, I have come to the conclusion rather quickly that the latter one is always the best.

4) The more you focus on results, the more you will miss seeing Jesus.
We have become a culture obsessed with numbers. As I have said many times before, there is nothing wrong with success or even measuring results. But the important thing to remember is the motive behind the obsession with results. Too often we define ourselves or find our significance in the results. This does not help the heart condition. In fact, I have been mentioning to people that we have to understand that results are in the Lord’s hand. But being faithful and doing our part is something only we can do.

5) God can use anybody, so be humble or God will move on to someone else. When there is success or when God does great things, there is a temptation to think that somehow we are either deserving of it or that it was brought about because of our own efforts. This always leads to pride and eventually we will start leaving God out of the equation. There are times when I know for a fact that I am not doing well, but when God decides to still use me, it humbles me. This is when I realized that God doesn’t really need me and that He loves His people so much that He would even use me even when I am not feeling 100%. There are many shooting stars but the key is to allow the light to burn brightly for a long time. This requires dependence and humility in the God who is the all-consuming fire.

6) There will always be opposition. First of all, nothing that is significant for God or His Kingdom is devoid of opposition. Whether it comes from people due to their insecurities or from Satan and his demonic influences, we all have to accept the fact that we are constantly under siege. This is why we have to take the words of Apostle Paul seriously and “stand firm.” When you except opposition to come your way, you become better prepared through prayer.

7) Enjoy the ride. I recently had a conversation with a surfer who enjoys surfing in Bali. I literally got an education on the topic of surfing. It was fascinating because towards the end of our conversation, we concluded that principles in surfing are so similar and analogous to things in life. Sometimes being patient and waiting for the wave to come might be hard, but once you hear the roar of the wave coming in and then you catch the wave, then it is one of the most exhilarating experiences you will ever have. Hmm… I might have to experience this surfing thing first hand so that my sermon illustrations will have more credibility :-)

Here are some pictures from the gathering:
HMCC-JKT Inaug 09
We spent some time praying together as a church
Josiah giving T-Shirts
We gave away free t-shirts to celebrate our inaugural international church plant
We were building community with one another by sharing a meal together
Inaug Cake
This was the official birthday cake for the church

The Impact of One Person

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

This week has been a sobering week for me – not only in trying to prepare for the Inaugural Sunday Celebration, but more importantly because I attended a funeral service for a woman that I just met once.

It is hard to believe that a person that you have only met once can make that much of an impact on your life, but that is what happened. Ibu Irene Ishak was introduced to us by one of our alumnus. We found out that she managed several properties and when she heard about our situation with our move to Indonesia and having no furniture, she decided she wanted to help.

There was a lot of furniture that she needed to replace for some new tenants in her apartment complex; therefore the old furniture had to be thrown out. When Christina and I arrived to meet Ibu Irene, we were not expecting much since it was used furniture. But when we arrived we realized that they were in very good condition. We went to several different luxurious apartments and just picked out furniture that we wanted.

She even had her assistant get everything together and have it delivered to our place. Christina and I were not only humbled at her kind gesture but we were grateful that God provided such a generous person in our lives. With all the chaos and stress from trying to transition in a new country, Ibu Irene became for us an oasis. Her kindness, generosity, and care made a huge impact on us.

This is why when we heard about her death, it took Christina and me by surprise.

When some of the team members and I attended the wake service, we were overwhelmed to see all the people who came out to pay their respects. There is a tradition here in Indonesia where people would donate these big boards made out of flowers for special occasions, whether for a wedding or even at a funeral. In fact, rumor has it that the number of flower boards a person has at the gathering, you are able to know the level of respect and honor that the people have for the person.

As we were driving into the funeral home, I could not believe my eyes. Literally, there were about 3 blocks of streets fill with these flower boards. Then, it hit me. I realized what kind of impact this lady had on people. She must have literally touched so many lives because all I could see was a sea of people and the smell flowers everywhere I went.

Even during the time of testimony, there were people who shared about the kindness and generosity that she showed. Can a person make this kind of impact on so many lives?

As we were driving back home, I couldn’t help but to think about my own life. I am praying that my life will touch other people’s lives just like Ibu Irene. I have always told people that you can tell how a person lived their life by attending their funeral and all I can say is that she lived a full and impactful life.

Sometimes God provides you with certain people that grace your life for a brief moment, but they are reminders of God’s love and care. Thank you Ibu Irene for gracing our family, albeit for a brief moment but your impact will last forever.
Ibu Irene Ishak Funeral
There were close to 3 streets that were filled with flower boards… it was quite a sight.

Going Through the Open Doors

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories

Open Door
Photo by Sierrasong
It is just amazing how God gives us opportunities to experience new things every single day. But one caveat to this is that when God does open the doors, then we need the discernment and the courage to obey or we will miss the opportunities.

This principle was reinforced to me the other day when I felt this prompting from the Spirit to SMS someone. He was someone that I met once before (this past May), but ever since I have arrived in Indonesia, we have not reconnected. Nevertheless, he works at the university that we have been praying for and reaching out to in the last couple of months; therefore through the prompting of the Holy Spirit I decided to contact him for some coffee.

After texting about a possible get together, he called and asked me to come to his office right away because he had something important to talk to me about.

When I arrived, we started up a conversation, but it was not the conversation that I was expecting. He asked me if I wanted to teach an OT/NT Survey class at the university. The best part about this is that about two weeks ago, Christina gave me a prophetic word. She said, “I really feel like God is going to open up a door for you to teach at the university.” I did not take it seriously, but little did I know that God was orchestrating something incredible.

I had my first class lecture today with about 50+ freshmen. The interesting part is that they are all business and law students. Those were the two majors that I have entertained majoring in when I was younger. It is going to be a great joy to invest in the future of Indonesia as these students will become the leaders of tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, I used an illustration about Korean dramas and I think they got the point that I was trying to make… hopefully. Praise God for Korean dramas!