The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Praying Hands
Photo by weeklyrob
 
 
 
I remember growing up as a new Christian in high school and some of my spiritual leaders would tell me the catch-22 that Christians face, especially when it comes to spiritual warfare. The catch-22 goes like this – “If you are growing spiritually, Satan will come against you to hinder you from growing, but in order to fight off the attacks, you have to grow stronger. But if you grow stronger, Satan will attack you more.”

Sometimes in my rebellion, I would think to myself, “Maybe the best way to have Satan leave us alone is to simply not grow spiritually.” But then, something about that logic did not sit well with me.

In the laws of spiritual warfare, it makes sense to think that anything that would glorify God or advance His Kingdom, Satan will do everything and anything to resist it.

In the last 3.5 months that we have been here in Indonesia, the transition has been fairly smooth. Even though I was aware of the spiritual warfare in Indonesia before I got here, the reality of it didn’t hit me until recently.

On Sunday night, after an exhausting weekend, I went to sleep. Then, in my dream I was in a confrontation with some people. There were many people surrounding me and then one of them pulled out a knife. He swung it in my direction towards my face. It wasn’t until I felt blood dripping down my neck that I realized that I have been struck. Then I woke up gasping for my breath. After a few seconds, the call to prayer for Muslims started. The apparent “coincidence” was unnerving.

As I laid there on the bed with my eyes wide opened at about 4:15AM, I started to pray and then drifted back to sleep.

In the morning, I told Christina what happened and then I made some observations:

1) We are in a war (spiritually). So often we forget about this. The daily routines of life and the comfortable situation we are in often times lull us into forgetting the spiritual war that we are in on a regular basis.

2) We must be aware of the spiritual forces around us. The Apostle Paul tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). There must be things going on in the spiritual realm when there are millions of Muslims all praying at the same time. We cannot take this lightly. In the Message Bible it translates Ephesians 6:12 as, “This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

3) The more we engage in God’s purpose, the more we will face opposition. Ever since we got to Indonesia, our mission and vision have been clear. As we reach out to our target group (expats, Indonesians who studied abroad, and Indonesians who speak English), our greater vision is to reach out to Indonesians who do not speak English, who lived in remote islands and who have never heard of Jesus Christ. The best candidates to bring the Gospel to these people will be the Indonesians who are in our church. This past Sunday, as I was preaching on the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7), I challenged our members to be convicted and committed to the Gospel in order to bring the message of Christ to all the remote places in Indonesia. The more we get serious about world evangelization, we have to be ready and expect Satan to attack.

4) Prayer must be a priority. Since this battle is not “against flesh and blood,” we have to fight it on our knees. Great things happen when God’s people pray. Prayer gives us the coverage and the protection that we need in order to engage in the battle every single day.

Please continue to pray for us, as well as for the ministry here. As God is working powerfully here in Indonesia, we know that Satan is working as well. But we are encouraged by the words of the Apostle John in 1 John 4:4, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Prelude to Revival

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
People Worshiping2
Photo from chrisbraymusic.com
 
 
 
A. W. Tozer wrote, “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late–and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”

The above quote by Tozer on the topic of “revival” made me think that maybe we are approaching this all the wrong way. Prayer is a very important part of revival, but have we thought about what needs to come before prayer and the revival we so desperately seek?

We have been praying for a revival in all the HMCC churches, even here in Jakarta, but maybe we need to be more diligent and vigilant in the area of obedience. But why obedience?

The more I think about it, revival is something that has to be “stewarded” by God’s people; therefore God is always looking for “vessels” that will carry His revival. Even though God always uses imperfect people, I am wondering if God is looking for people who have their hearts set on obeying Him passionately.

We have been praying for revival for such a long time. But maybe we should stop praying for a revival and start focusing on our obedience. Or better yet, we should pray for God’s grace to help us to obey His Word.

From the Crowd to the Core

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
Red Flower
Photo on dpnow.com
 
 
 
In all new church plants, one of the biggest concerns or dilemmas is trying to figure out how to get people who visit your church to become committed disciples who will take on the role of leadership.

Usually the linear process is: bring visitors in, reach out to them, integrate them to the church, and equip them to reproduce themselves.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with the process, but we do need to avoid the two extremes. On one hand, we bring people on to leadership too early. I have seen this time after time and the end result is always the same – disaster. Either they were not ready in terms of maturity or they were never tested to see if they had the DNA of the church (a.k.a. “vision of the house”).

The other extreme is to make the leadership bar so high that no one can meet up to the standards. This impedes the leadership pipeline that should be pumping out leaders for growth to fulfill the mission.

Is there a fine balance? Can we come to a comfortable middle ground?

Everett L. Wilson, in his article “4 Criteria to Know When Someone is Ready to Lead” offers some good insights. Even though, Wilson gives some general principles to follow, they are nevertheless pretty helpful in casting a net into a bigger pool of people. But not everyone in the net will pan out. We need the discernment and the discipleship process already in place to raise up leaders who are “home grown.”

Nothing beats home-grown leadership. In fact, our church is a testimony of the important value of home-grown leadership.

Here is Wilson’s article on the four criteria to know when someone is ready to lead:

Readily accepts responsibility. Potential leaders don’t lay low when their services are needed. Willingness to volunteer for small projects is an important characteristic. This means that some of the most able leaders might be behind the scenes.

Understands informal social rules. It takes time for a person to understand how a church works—officially (by-laws and constitution) and unofficially. A basic competence in church dynamics is essential. In some churches, for example, raising your voice in a committee meeting is taboo; in others, it’s expected. No matter what the qualifications, someone who cares about and seeks involvement in church life is a greater asset than someone who is unconcerned or too busy.

Knows the people. Christians may be ready for leadership when they indicate that they understand the people in the fellowship. A new member who has not established a network of relationships within the church is probably not ready for leadership. This is not the same as people skills. A person may be brusque but also understanding and caring.

Agrees with the church’s general philosophy of ministry. When dealing with newcomers who haven’t had many opportunities to reveal their philosophies, look at their behaviors. If your church is running a stewardship campaign, don’t appoint someone to the committee who has not pledged.

Obsessed with Fame

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Boy In Balloon
Photo by AP
 
 
 
The whole world was riveted with the thought of a boy stuck in a runaway balloon. But horror turned into shock when evidence slowly emerged with the possibility of the whole ordeal being a hoax made up by the parents. The shock then turned into disbelief and anger.

The question that kept on running through the minds of people was – “How can parents involve their child in a lie just to further their own selfish desires?”

Richard and Mayumi Heene, the parents of the “balloon boy” were amateur storm chasers and it was reported that they wanted to land a T.V. show deal and become famous. They have already appeared on the reality T.V. show, “Wife Swap” but that was not enough.

Some people who knew the family shared that the Heenes were “obsessed” with being famous in order to make money. The Heenes wanted to star in a reality show that focused on bizarre experiments and this hoax of falsely reporting that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was in the helium balloon was a media stunt to promote the reality TV show in the making.

This has even raised questions about co-conspirators. The police are investigating a media outlet that had agreed to pay the Heenes for the publicity.

In light of all this craziness, the thing that we have to consider is how far would a person go in order to become famous and make money. It is easy to judge the Heenes but if we are honest with ourselves there are a lot of things that we are doing or have done so that we can be recognized and be in the spotlight.

But there some things that we have to consider when it comes to fame:

1) There is the passing moment with fame. It is interesting how someone that is famous one day is unknown the next day. There is a fading nature about fame. Just look at all the Hollywood stars that come and go. If all our goals are directed toward fame so that we can find significance, then at the end we will be very disappointed.

2) There is the pretense in fame. Why is that we somehow convince ourselves that if we were more famous then, life would be so much better? Fame is a like a mirage. What it promises, it cannot really deliver. We might feel good about being “known” but at the end it is easy to feel all alone.

3) There is the price for fame. The glamorous life of the “rich and famous” always seems appealing, but we cannot forget that there is a price to pay for the fame. You ask any of the famous people around the world and they would confess that they miss the times when they were able to just go out for ice cream or eat at a restaurant without people coming up to them asking for a picture. With fame, nothing is private. You are constantly under a microscope (or shall I say in a fishbowl).

 
 
When everything is said and done, fame is not always what it is cut out to be, especially, when you tell your child to lie. The price of ruining your integrity and character, and even your relationship with your children, it is clear that it is not really worth it.

Maybe if we start putting the focus and attention on making God famous, then things might end up a bit different. In fact, it might just surprise us.

Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
Man in the Mirror
Photo from images.com
 
 
 
Over the years, I have been trying to teach our congregation(s) the importance of the Gospel. The Gospel is critical in our journey with Christ, not only when we get saved, but in the present and into the future. So often we apply the Gospel message towards a definitive point in time –the day we accepted the message of Christ’s death and resurrection by faith for salvation.

The problem is when we just relegate the Gospel message as a means to salvation (justification), we then lose the greater significance of how the Gospel aids us in sanctification. This is necessary in order to grow in Christ-likeness.

The Gospel has a way of addressing the wretched sinner, as well as the self-righteous Pharisee, who finds contentment in their works and legalism. After a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I have noticed (through personal experience) that people forget the application of the Gospel message.

Our need of understanding the Gospel becomes more evident, as we try to overcome issues of our past, our sins and our temptations. This is why I have encouraged Christ-followers to preach the Gospel to themselves as they get ready every morning to face the new day.

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of the historical Coral Ridge Church shares a prayer that was posted by his friend, Scotty Smith who is a pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN.

Pastor Scotty Smith wrote out his prayer, which I think needs to be our prayer on a daily basis.

Dear Lord Jesus,

While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.

There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did in March of 1968 when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.

You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!

Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation–worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.

That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

Quicker Updates

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

 
Phone Operator
Photo by kent.edu
 
 
 
Someone from the States asked me if I can update about the earthquake situation in Indonesia on my blog. The reason behind the request is that people hear the news about the earthquakes (there have been more recently) and the terrorist bombing and they want to know if our family and the team are safe.

For those of you who want a faster update, it might be better to sign up to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I usually update things on Twitter as soon as things happen; therefore signing up for Twitter will be faster. But since I have set up my Twitter updates to go directly to my Facebook, either one will do.

But I am definitely on Twitter a lot more. In fact, I have written about a theory that I had regarding why guys like Twitter more than Facebook. You can read about it on a past blog post here.

You can sign up for my Facebook updates here and my Twitter updates here.

Please continue to pray for us.

We are humbled to know that there are many people around the world who care for us and are praying for us. Thanks for your partnership in the Gospel.

The Reminders through the Call to Prayer

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
Muslims Praying
Photo from Freewebs
 
 
 
I think one of the things that people have to get used to while they are in Indonesia is the daily calls to prayer. All throughout the day, you are able to hear the multiple calls to prayer for the Muslim people.

The retreat center that I am preaching at has several mosques within a block distance. Therefore, the call to pray feels as if it is right next door. I think they pointed the speakers towards our way :-) You cannot avoid it even if you tried… it is loud. So I heard it in the early morning (Fajr), at noon (Dhuhr), in the late afternoon (‘Asr), at sunset (Maghrib), and in the evening (‘Isha). One of the humbling things about the Muslims’ call to prayer is the emphasis on “remembering God” and “seeking God.”

How often as a Christ-follower I have forgotten to remember or seek God throughout the day?

But one interesting thing that I have noticed is that people who are not Muslims have developed the ability to block out the sound of the call to prayer from their normal activities. Even though the call to prayer was loud, people went about their business.

I remember the first night in Indonesia after hearing the call to prayer in the early morning, I could not go back to sleep. In fact, I felt as if God was waking me up to pray for the Muslims. But now after some months, I am finding myself getting used to the call to prayer that I no longer hear it. It is funny how we as humans have the ability to get “used” to things and drown things out. I guess it is selective hearing or listening.

It is interesting how God had to bring me to a place about 2.5 hours away from the familiarity to remind me once again about the mission and purpose of why we have come to plant a church here in Indonesia.

The call to prayer is good for the Christ-follower because it is a reminder for us to pray to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Not only to remember God and seek Him, but to pray for our Muslim friends.
 
 
 
Here is a sample call to prayer.
 
 

High School Retreat Revisited

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various

 
H.S. Lockers
Photo by Steven Fernandez
 
 
 
For some reason, it seems so long ago that I spoke at a high school youth retreat, but in actuality, it has only been a few years. There is something about youth retreats that still has a special place in my heart. First of all, my first tenure in ministry was at a youth group. I have fond memories of how God did some transformative work in the lives of our youth. I served alongside an incredible staff, which made ministry fun and fulfilling. Those were some good times.

Secondly, many of these students will go to college campuses once they graduate from high school. I have seen many students who go off to college and go towards two different paths. Some students will choose to run away from God, while others will choose to run towards God during their college years. I am discovering that the students who are trained and prepared during their high school years are usually the ones that stick it through with their faith throughout their collegiate years.

When I was asked to speak at Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) for their 10th grade retreat, I felt a burden to invest in this next generation. Many of them will eventually study overseas, whether in the United States, Australia or England. At our various HMCC campuses, we have seen many international students come and join our church. The exciting part is that many of them will go back to their countries to make a difference. They are the next generation of doctors, business people, government officials, designers, and etc.

So in many ways, this retreat had a greater purpose.

But most of all, I still remember my wandering years of high school. My four years in high school had a lot of ups and downs. It was a difficult stage to go through as a teenager. Many students have to deal with peer pressure, various temptations and struggles. If anything, it is my prayer that when they see me, they can have some hope. As I have said many times before, “if God can change a person like me, He can change anybody.”

It has been a joy sharing my life with them so far… and it is just the first day.

My First Exam as a Professor

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

 
Exam Taking
Photo from nomadlife.org
 
 
 
This past week was my first time writing up a midterm exam on the college level. So many things ran through my mind.

I thought about some of the most difficult exams that I have taken in my life. I thought about some of the easiest test that I have taken in my life. Then I started to think about how easy/hard I should make the exam for my students.

It really is a bit different from this perspective of a professor and making the exam than being a student and always complaining about the exams. The tension for me is that I don’t want to make the exam too easy, but then I don’t want to make it too hard and discourage the students.

The administration told me that the exam should be no longer than 100 minutes. So after I finished writing the exam, I had my teacher assistant (one of the members of our Jakarta church planting team) take it. After he said that it took him 77 minutes to finish the exam, we decided to cut out some of the questions.

Since not all the students are 100% fluent with English, it would probably take them double the time in trying to finish the exam. After taking out an essay question, eliminating some question, and changing some format of the questions, I concluded that it would be a fair test and a good measurement of their learning thus far.

After giving the instructions for the exam, I watched the students take the test. It is really interesting to see the students from this angle. You can tell the ones that studied (they were cruising through the test) and the ones that didn’t study as much. In fact, as the students were hanging in the exam, I asked how the exam went and out of the six students that were asked, five of them said that it was hard.

I tried to encourage them that it will be graded on a curve.

But I don’t know how much of it brought them comfort.

Then this got me thinking.

Is giving examination the best way to know if a student is learning and processing things?

To this question, I say, “Yes!”

I started wondering about how God gives us “test” in our lives. God wants to know if we have really learned the lesson that He has been trying to teach us for years. God wants to know if we have grown in wisdom and insights to His heart. God wants to know if we are committed to the “curriculum.”

Until we pass His exams, we are going to find ourselves taking the same test over and over again.

Power Outages

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

 
Powerlines
Photo by uchicago.edu
 
 
 
I have heard about the power outages that occur once in awhile in Indonesia. People have told me to be prepared for them because it happens randomly and the electricity can be out for hours. It was all head knowledge until we experienced our first power outage. Now, in the last 3-4 days we have experienced daily power outages and a couple of them have lasted for 7 hours.

Now, the rain season is starting, therefore I don’t know if the power outages are being caused by the rain. But all I know is that it disrupts life.

As I was reflecting during the power outages, I was reminded of several truths:

1) Dependence. You never really know how dependent you are on electricity until it is gone. There are a lot of things that you cannot do without electricity. I am still amazed that there once was a time when people did not have electricity. It is easy to go through life without learning how to depend on God for anything. We trust in our talents, gifts and wisdom. It is not until we are depleted or as we lose things, when we begin to realize that we need God. I am wondering if there are “outages” in our lives so that God can remind us that we need to depend on Him.

2) Disruptions. I hate disruptions. It causes us to lose control. We cannot achieve the things that we want to in our timetable. But God uses disruptions to speak to us. There are times when God has to get our complete and full attention in order for us to listen or hear what He wants to communicate to us. It is amazing the things that we miss out on throughout the day because we are consumed with ourselves. Disruptions help us to open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to the things of God.

3) Diversification. Isn’t it incredible how human beings have the capacity to not only innovate and pioneer new things, but to think of various options when we are in difficult situations? Whenever our backs are up against the wall, we start to think “outside of the box.” In fact, unless we are forced to get out of our comfort zone, we will always “settle” for the ordinary or what is familiar. Since there were some things that I had to get done, I was able to find different ways to get them accomplished.

I Don’t Want a Revival

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
People Worshiping
Photo by Northview
 
 
 
Some years ago, I was reflecting on how God sent revivals throughout history. At first, I was baffled at the fact that we haven’t been experiencing the type of revival that we read about in history. There were some of the more recent revivals in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but many of them were shorted lived. This is when I began to ask God, “Why aren’t there more revival movements happening in our generation?” It would be awesome to experience a revival like we read about in the Great Awakenings or the great Welsh Revival.

When I honestly took a look at some of the revivals that occurred in history, I realized that we do not know what we are asking for. Revival is often times equated to radical change and we as people do not like change. In fact, we hate it with a passion.

I still remember talking with some of the key leaders in our church and challenging them with the question – “How desperate are we for a revival in our church?” I went further and asked them, “Do we really know what needs to happen if God were to send a revival?” I simply said, “It would mess up our lives.” It would mess up our comfort level. It would mess up our schedules. It would mess up our future plans.

Therefore, we have to seriously give it some thought – do we really want a revival? Are we ready to pay the cost for revival?

I started thinking about this more recently, not only because of what I am witnessing here but because we have been studying the Book of Acts on Sundays. Am I hungering for a revival in our recently planted church? Do I want to see God send a revival to the great country of Indonesia?

I realized (once again) the greater question is: Am I willing to pay the price for revival? Until I can honestly answer this question first, everything else is inconsequential.

Today I was reading an article called, “Why We Don’t Have Revival” by Joe McKeever and it got me thinking again. He was sharing some of the same thoughts that I have been wrestling with and he makes some poignant points.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

“Ask any church leader why America – or the churches in general or a denomination in particular or all Christians – does not (do not) have revival and the answers will usually come out to something like: ‘We’re not praying,’ or ‘We’re not praying hard enough,’ or ‘This takes prayer and fasting.’

Today, I spent an hour on the internet reading some of the hundreds of websites on the subject of revival. Those that attempt to cover the subject of why we are not experiencing revival usually attribute it to sin, complacency, or prayerlessness. Maybe they’re right, but it seems to me those answers are missing the point.

The reason we’re not having revival may indeed be that we’re not praying for one. After all, Scripture assures us that ‘you have not because you ask not.’ (James 4:2) But that just leads to the question of why we’re not praying for revival. The answer, I strongly suggest, is simple: we don’t want a revival. We like things the way they are. I said it and will stand by it: we do not want revival. The churches don’t, the church members don’t, and very few of the pastors want a genuine Heaven-sent revival.

After all, revival means change, and we don’t want change. We’re too comfortable the way things are at the present. I used to have an elderly man in my last church who showed up for services from time to time mainly because of his wife. Once when I was visiting in their home, I learned that five years earlier, he had had a heart bypass operation. His wife said, ‘And pastor, the doctor ordered him to walk several blocks a day, but he won’t do it.’

I tried to shame him a little. After all, the walking was for his own good and might prolong his life. He said, ‘Preacher, the reason I don’t walk is simple. Walking interferes with my routine.’ His wife scoffed, ‘What routine! Pastor, he goes to the casino!’ He lived two more years, still spending his days with the slot machines.

That, in a word, is why the great masses of Christians do not pray for nor desire revival: it would interfere with their routine. By ‘revival,’ we mean an across-the-board movement of the Holy Spirit as He touches hearts, changes minds, melts pride, and transforms sinners. In a revival, the hearts of God’s people are broken in repentance and humility, the Lord’s people come together in love and service, and the Lord’s work of ministry and giving and witnessing and missions moves forward at warp speed.

Now, logically, most Christians would like these things to occur. In our heart of hearts, we know this is what is going to be required for God to transform the modern church and make it once again a missionary organization. We know the people of our community are not going to be reached in numbers big enough to have any kind of impact until the Lord’s people have a new touch of God in their lives. And we confess we want that, that we desire revival. But we don’t. Not really.

Everything inside us resists change. Our ego resists Anyone else sitting on the throne over our lives. Our spirit rebels at Another calling the shots. Our bodies are afflicted with inertia, which we learned in the chemistry lab means a resting body prefers to remain at rest. Now, I’ve seen revival and perhaps you have, too. When the Lord’s Spirit moves in and begins to touch lives, you can throw away the schedule and the printed order of worship. Everything else goes out the window when the Holy Spirit sets up shop.

People get confronted with their sinful ways. Hearts are broken over their wickedness. Husbands confess to their wives and mothers apologize to their children and children start obeying their parents. Friends reconcile with friends, and then turn to their enemies in humility. Bosses ask employees to forgive them. Employees confess to wrong-doing and face up to their poor work ethic. Pastors get saved; pastors’ wives get saved; deacons and their wives get saved.

Tears are shed by the buckets. Prayer meetings become loud and long and unstructured. Meetings get interrupted by church members walking in with a neighbor or co-worker they have just led to Christ.

The pastor is no longer the only one hearing from God. Church members testify of what God told them this morning in prayer time. Those who never headed anything in their lives now find themselves leading Bible studies and witnessing projects. The timid suddenly become outspoken.

The lid is off their faith. They now believe God can do anything and that they can do all things through Him. Nothing is off-limits any more, nothing out of bound, nothing unthinkable. They are free in their giving, loving, serving, and most of all, in their thinking.

Revivals drive some people away from the church. On the other hand, revivals attract a lot of new people in, frequently the kind who’ve not been brought up in a religious tradition and do not know how to behave in a sanctuary. Revivals disrupt the flow of things, end the tyranny of the calendar and the clock and the Pharisees, and rearrange a church’s priorities. Revivals produce an entirely new set of leaders for a church.

In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that revival kills off the old church and leaves an entirely different one in its place. All of this is painful, uncomfortable, disruptive, and even expensive. And, being human, we don’t like pain, discomfort, disruptions, and expense.

We like our comfort. We prefer our complacency. It feels good to see the same faces at church every Sunday, all of them occupying the same pews they have held down for ages. There’s a warmth about sitting in the Bible study class with the same 8 people we’ve known for years; newcomers and visitors are an intrusion. The pastor may not be saying anything we haven’t heard him say time and again, but even the drone of his voice carries a certain kind of comfort, too.

None of this is new. God’s people have dealt with this love for laxity and resistance to the Holy Spirit from the beginning. Ah, yes. Something inside our rebellious hearts love it when the preachers and television evangelists say what we want to hear, when they calm our anxieties about the future by their platitudes, when they tell pleasant stories and find just the right interpretation of Scripture to agree with what we had always hoped. We give them our full support when they minimize our sin, omit the need for repentance, and remind us again just how wonderful we are.”

Wow! These are some things that we have to ponder upon. So the question once again is not, “do we want a revival?” but rather “are we willing to pay the price for change?” And this is something that not too many people are willing to do. No wonder the Church is where it is in its current condition. Lord, save us!

Obama’s Possible Miscue on Culture

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values

 
Chicago Reacts to Olympic News
Photo by Presswire
 
 
 
The 2016 Olympics will be officially held in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (yes, I am spelling it with an “S” instead of a “Z”… spelling with the “S” is the official Portuguese way). It was a joyous occasion for people of Brasil because this will be the first time that a country from South America would host the Olympics.

It was a bit of a shocker for the rest of the world because Chicago was the first one to be eliminated. People were touting that Chicago would be a sure winner, especially with the support of some famous people like Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, and Oprah Winfrey. But the clincher was having the President of the United States, Barack Obama physically there in Denmark to make the pitch for the 2016 Olympics coming to Chicago.

But the big question is: Did President Obama’s presence helped or hurt the selection process?

Kai Holm, a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member believed that the short appearance in front of the IOC might have counted against him. In fact, Holm mentioned that the quick visit by President Obama was, “too business-like. It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect.”

In most countries, especially in Asian countries that is how they would have perceived it. Since many countries value relationships over “getting something done,” it could have communicated the wrong message.

No Hollywood or rock star status would have been able to get the bid if the people making the decision perceive you as showing disrespect to them. Maybe President Obama should have stay a bit longer and mingled with the people more or he should have just stayed home and worked on some of the domestic and foreign affairs.

It might have been helpful if Obama had a cultural advisor so that they could have evaluated their trip before making the flight out to Denmark and meeting the international community. But it was interesting that David Axelrod, a White House senior adviser concluded it the defeat was due to the politics in the room.

This might have been true but we cannot eliminate the fact that maybe President Obama and his crew (including Oprah) failed to study the importance of cultural cues.

How often do we fail to study the cultural cues in a different country? A lot of times it will lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. It can defeat us from sharing the Gospel. This is why we have to read the culture well.

Batiks are Indonesian

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

 
Kids in Batiks
Photo on Friendster
 
 
 
On October 2nd of this year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has officially recognized the batik as an Indonesian cultural treasure. In order to celebrate this recognition, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked Indonesians to wear a batik on this day.

This was a huge win for the Indonesians because there were some people in Malaysia that were arguing the batiks were from their country. This started up a firestorm between the Indonesians and Malaysians.

But UNESCO at a conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with representatives from 114 countries, officially gave the recognition to Indonesia. This is importance because it is the whole international community that has given its support to Indonesia.

As Indonesians keep up their cultural heritage, it will allow future generations to learn important things about their culture, as well as give them a sense of pride for their country.

We wanted our kids to honor this special moment by following on President Yudhoyono’s declaration that Friday, October 2nd people should wear their batiks. They wore theirs to school. It was great connecting our kids to one of Indonesian’s cultural treasures.

Earthquakes in Indonesia

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories

 
Indonesia Earthquake
Photo by Reuters
 
 
 
So much has happened in our 3 months in Indonesia. Not only in terms of the church plant, but we have been welcomed by a terrorist bombing in Jakarta, an earthquake (that we actually felt), and now another earthquake in Sumatra Island.

The death toll is slowly rising as more bodies are being found underneath the rubble. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake in the coastal city of Padang several days ago brought down malls, hospital, universities and houses.

I was talking with a pastor who has worked with World Vision when the Aceh tsunami hit back in 2004. It was good to get his perspective on things. He said that people are not as in shock regarding the recent earthquake disaster compared to the 2004 devastation of Aceh. When I asked why, he said that close to 200,000+ people died in Aceh and “only” a little over 1,000 people have died recently in Padang. Since the recent earthquake disaster does not measure up to the Aceh earthquake, people are just not as concerned.

It was sad to hear this but it really describes the human heart. Why is it that we “get used” to things? We first experience the shock and awe of things and then after some time we just go back to our daily lives.

But I don’t think we should ever get used to seeing people spend a Christ-less eternity. There were many people who passed away without knowing Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in this earthquake.

This puts a greater burden for our team to pray for the lost. We see so many people who are living every day without knowing Christ. May the life of one person always concern us, especially when they do not know Christ.

Please continue to pray that God will use even tragedy to draw people to His mercy and grace.