The Ultimate Sacrifice

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

 
Idul Adha Sacrifice
Photo from dunia-kita
 
 
 
All over Indonesia, Muslims are celebrating Idul Adha today. The Idul Adha is known as the “Festival of Sacrifice.” It highlights, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah. The celebration will last throughout this weekend. It is a time where many people go back to their hometowns to visit their families.

I am slowly discovering all that goes into this celebration. One big significant part of this celebration is the necessity of sacrificing a goat or a cow, depending on what you can afford. After the prayers and the sacrifice, there is a big feast where people celebrate together. Supposedly this is the best time to get various meat products and skewers.

I couldn’t help but to think about how the Idul Adha celebration echoes Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham’s sacrifice was a foreshadow of God’s willingness to sacrifice His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross.

Even as the Muslims sacrifice the goats and cows today, we are reminded of how the Jewish people in the Bible sacrificed animals for the atonement of their sins. But no amount of sacrifice of animals and the blood that was spilled could remove our sins.

Only God’s ultimate sacrifice of His Son can forgive the sins of the world. This is the message that we need to share with a dying world.

Thanksgiving 2010 Reflections

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Sunset and Boat
Photo from PC World
 
 
 
As I am getting older, I am seeing the correlation between gratitude and remembrance. In essence, the more we remember, the more we can develop a heart of gratitude. Now, one caveat in this simple principle is the assumption that we have learned how to see life through God’s perspective. It is hard to be grateful for a bad experience in our lives, unless we are able to see it through the lens of God’s Sovereignty. This is the only way we are able to gain His perspective on life – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am wondering if this is why God gave the Israelites so many “observances” and “festivals.” Many of them were designed so that the people would remember the Lord their God and His Faithfulness.

In the same way, every Thanksgiving holiday that we “observe,” it is a time to remember and to be thankful. As I am writing this post and remembering, I am so thankful for this past year. I am thankful for all the things that God has allowed me to experience. Each event and each experience has made me more thankful for His grace and mercy.

The only sad part of this Thanksgiving is that our family will not be able to celebrate it with our extended family back home in Chicago and also with the HMCC of Ann Arbor family. But nevertheless, here is a list of things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1) I am thankful for His amazing grace. It will never get old nor will it ever stop being amazing.

2) I am thankful for my family. It’s hard to believe that they put up with my hectic schedule, my unique personality, and my craziness for all these years.

3) I am thankful for the HMCC of Jakarta church plant team. It was definitely God that put us together and it is God who is keeping us together. How else would we explain our love and unity that we have shared in the last 5 months?

4) I am thankful for God’s surprises and impeccable timing.
Sometimes I wish my life was more predictable and planned but for some reason, it just seems more fun trusting in Him.

Hearing God’s Voice

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Hearing God's Voice
Photo on WordPress
 
 
 
I have always been fascinated with moms who are able to hear the cry of their baby in a room filled with crying babies. It has to be a special gift because for most fathers, all crying sounds made by babies sound the same. The intimate relationship the mom has with the baby is partly attributed to the closeness the mom feels with the baby when she is nursing.

When it comes to hearing God’s voice, the intimacy of the relationship is vital. In the story of Samuel (1 Sa 3), it is interesting to see the ability that Samuel had to hear God’s voice at a young age. Not only because of Samuel’s age but in 1 Sa 3:1 we see that “in those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.”

With the help of Eli, Samuel realized that it was God who was speaking to him.

Every servant of God needs to hear God’s voice. Now, there will probably be some disagreements with people from different theological camps on whether the voice is a real audible voice or not. But regardless, the key point is being able to discern and know when God desires for us to do something.

This is something that God is teaching me again and again while I have been here in Indonesia. It is humbling to know that the good things that have happened here were a direct result of listening to God’s prompting and then having the courage to obey. I am reminded that God is constantly speaking. Therefore, the problem isn’t with God when we are not able to hear His voice. It is usually our busyness or lack of intimacy that causes us to turn a deaf ear to God.

There are certain seasons in our lives when we hunger for God’s voice. We get desperate for God to speak so that we will know what it is that God wants us to do. This is one of those seasons for me, especially as I am trying to navigate through this new arena of God’s favor.

God is usually speaking to us through one or more of these avenues:

1) Precepts – In the book of Psalms, we see that God’s precepts (His words) are a guide and a light for us. It is hard to distinguish God’s voice from our own desires when we are not saturated in His Word.

2) People – It is amazing how many times God has spoken to me through various people in my life (sometimes even strangers). This means that we have to active in seeking advice from people who are further in this journey than us.

3) Problems – There are a lot of times when God has used a closed door or even a difficult situation to direct me towards another path. Problems are often times looked upon as a bad thing, but sometimes it can be a gift from God.

4) Pain – C.S. Lewis in his book, The Problem of Pain writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” When God wants to rock our world, He uses pain.

Once we are attuned to God’s voice, then the challenge for us is to obey His voice.

The U.S. Can Learn a Few Things

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Flag of Nations
Photo from worldofstock.com
 
 
 
The world is changing; and it is changing at rapid speeds. When it comes to global issues such as the military, healthcare, environmental concerns, the economy, and etc. the United States has always led the way and the discussions. But the winds are slowly changing and it seems as if other developing countries are taking the lead.

This reminds us that the United States can no longer take the attitude of superiority when it comes to global engagement. In fact, the United States has a lot to learn from the other global leaders and countries. There is definitely a shift that is occurring and we, from the States need to pay attention.

Recently, in Time’s website, they had an article entitled, “Five Things the U.S. Can Learn from China.” I thought it was a very interesting article written by Bill Powell, who correctly observes the appropriate trends that are occurring around the world.

The part that I found the most fascinating in light of this whole healthcare debate is the need to care for the elderly. In Asian cultures (and most cultures outside of the Western mindset), people’s view of the elderly is far different from the States. There is a sense of honor and responsibility when it comes to taking care of the elderly, especially when they are your parents. This idea of “parents raising children and then the children care for the parents later in life” has been the social norm for centuries in Asian countries.

Even having at least three generations living under one roof has been expected and normal. When you listen to the pros and cons of having three generations living in the same house, for some reason the argument seems to lean towards the advocates of the three generation household. Of course, if you have difficult in-laws, it might be a different story :-)

One caveat to this whole article is that America was founded and built on some of the same principles that are being touted as things that America needs to learn from China. Therefore, there are several things to consider:

1) Keep on learning from people who have gone before you. God has prospered America in tremendous ways. Even though American history is not long compared to some of the other countries around the world, it has far surpassed countries in terms of development and prosperity. There are things that developing countries can learn from the States (both from the successes, as well as the failures). It always takes a humble posture to learn from others.

2) Keep on collaborating with others. When people get into an isolation mindset, it closes off opportunities for engagement. It is critical in this new age of globalization that countries learn from one another and even collaborate together on ideas and projects.

3) Keep on leading by example. It is easy to talk a good talk, but influence will continue to grow when we are able to produce some fruit from the things that we are promoting. There will be many things that will be done differently from one culture to another, but people will be open-minded to things when they see the positive results. We have to remember the words of Jerry Maguire – “Show me the money!” For those of you who did not see the movie here is the translation: “Stop talking about it, just show me the results).

This opens up some parallel discussions about the Church. As I have been out here in Indonesia, I am realizing that the churches in the States have a lot to learn from churches around the world. No longer is the American church leading the way (at least not in everything). There are many incredible churches around the world that are making a huge Kingdom impact.

As we take on a humble posture and learn from what God is doing in the different parts of the world, it might just be a catalyst for the churches in the States to experience greater things.

Reconnecting, Refreshing, and Recasting

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visits

 
It’s been a while since I have posted something on my blog; therefore I wanted to post a quick entry.

I am in Singapore’s Changi Airport waiting for my flight back to Jakarta. It has been good to just catch my breath in light of the six-day whirlwind trip back to the States. Even though I wished my trip was longer, God allowed me to accomplish everything I needed to in such a short amount of time.

It was encouraging to see people in all the HMCC churches. It is always a joy to see familiar faces and to just reconnect with people. Also, I was thrilled to meet some new people who have been coming out to our churches. Some of them have just recently accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. This reassured me that our members have been reaching out to people and sharing the Gospel. It was a blessing to see.

I also had many opportunities to share what was happening in Indonesia. After awhile, I felt like a broken record repeating things over and over again, but I was blessed to see that so many people were interested in what God was doing in Jakarta. It just reminded me that this church plant is really a partnership. I am thankful for all the people that have been praying for us and financially supporting us.

The best part was spending some time with the site pastors. Whether it was over a meal or sharing some coffee, it was great just hearing all that God is doing in their lives and in all our churches.

I am praying that all the churches will reach the next level.

Even though it has only been four months since I left for Indonesia, as I went to all the locations, it felt as if I never left. Thanks to all the sites for their hospitality and prayers.

The Problem with Power

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Kid Crossing Guard
Photo from Myers Elementary School
 
 
 
This past week, I have been thinking a lot about the issue of power or authority. Everywhere you look there are people who have power and authority – the power to make decisions, the power to direct people, the power to open up opportunities and the power to shut things down.

In many ways, power is similar to a fire. Fire is a useful and beneficial thing if it is used and stewarded correctly. But it can be a dangerous thing if it is used inappropriately or abusively.

I have been a believer that we will all exert some level of power or authority in our lifetime. This does not mean that we will all be politicians or CEO’s of companies, but we will be placed in various situations where we will have to use authority.

What most people forget is that power is something that is to be stewarded. But things get pretty ugly, very quickly if that power is not stewarded well or if the power is in the hands of people who have issues.

But Seth, don’t we all have issues?

Of course.

But there are particular issues or character traits that are more conducive for a person to abuse their power.

Let me list some (not exhaustive):

1) People who are insecure. The American Heritage Dictionary defines, “insecure” as, “lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety.” People who are insecure are constantly driven by their fears and worries. This causes them to over-compensate for their lack of certainty. If they are given power, then they will abuse it in order to maintain control.

2) People who are proud. Pride is the cousin of insecurity or shall I say they are partners in crime. So much of our insecurities are fueled by our pride and our pride keeps us insecure. When people who are proud are given power, they will use it to feed their ego, and if there is anything that gets in the way, it will be eliminated. It is easy to eliminate things (people) when you have power. Disrespect is the trigger to detonate the nukes of a proud person. Try it and see the carnage.

3) People who are bitter. It is amazing how our past issues with people and relationships that did not go well affect how we deal with things in the present. When bitter people are given authority, they will always respond out of their hurts and pain. It is not pleasant being on the receiving end from people who fail to see how their past really does dictate their future.

4) People who are self-centered. It is interesting that in Greek mythology Narcissus died from falling in love with his own reflection in a pool. He could not depart from the beauty of the reflection. The sad part of the story is that he didn’t realize that it was a reflection of his own image. With self-centered people and power, the scary part is that everything is all about them. Therefore, authority will never be stewarded in order to help people or advance a cause outside of their little world. Anything that will allow them to get ahead, be lifted up on the pedestal, receive the glory, and advance their selfish ambition will influence how they will wield their power.

5) People who are control-freaks. In many ways, being a control-freak is more of a symptomatic behavior of all the above traits. Have you seen a control-freak lose control? It is as if the whole world is crumbling right before their eyes. The natural tendency is to grab on to things tighter in order to bring back the sense of order. This is why when people or situations disrupt order to the control-freak’s own world, it instigates the abuse of power.

For each of the above traits mention, there is a trigger that will cause power or authority to be used inappropriately or abusively. For the insecure person, it is doubt. For the proud person, it is disrespect. For the bitter person, it is distrust. For the self-centered person, it is dismissal. For the control-freak, it is disruption.

The antithesis to people with the above traits is Jesus Christ. Jesus had all the power and authority to use according to His pleasure, but He did what was so unnatural to us. In the word of Apostle Paul, we are exhorted to:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth – even those long ago dead and buried – will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” (Php 2:6-11)

When people, who have power and authority are more like Christ, then we see what it can do to bless people and bring transformation, even to a nation.