Words of Wisdom from Steve Jobs

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
I don’t know how many of you have heard or seen Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University Commencement speech. Usually graduates, who sit under the hot sun, rarely remember the content of the speech that is normally given by a famous person during their commencement. Honestly, I don’t even remember the graduation commencement speech of my graduation.

But there is something about what Steve Jobs shared in his speech that really espoused some important principles in life. Even though it was from a secular perspective, there were some biblical truths that resonated with me. Through the power of personal stories, I have this strange suspicion that this is one speech that many of the 2005 Stanford graduates will remember.

First, check out his speech below. It is worth every 14 minutes and 11 seconds of it. Then I will give some of my thoughts.
 
 

 
 
There are several things in his speech that struck me:

1) Perspective. For some reason, perspective is one thing that is so elusive in a person’s life. It is amazing how two people can go through the exact same thing, but then one is on top of their game, while the other is in the dumps. The difference? It is perspective. When we are able to “connect the dots” then we will see that God’s hand was in it all along. This is when we are able to have greater trust, faith and gratitude in our lives. As Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” As we go through the ups and downs of life, we have to be able to connect the dots; and the way we do that is by believing in a God who is greater, bigger, and stronger. He will help make sense of it all. God will make all things beautiful in His time (Ecc 3:11).

2) Passion. Sometimes you only discover your passion for something, when you are willing to risk what is safe and secure. Often times we are bound by our fears. So instead of doing things that we love, we end up settling for “average” and the status quo. Sometimes failure helps us to discover our passions. Usually when we fail in something, there is a process of self-evaluation. We begin to see things more clearly. God has given each one of us various passions that have been shaped by our experiences. We will never find real joy and even purpose in life unless we live out the things that we are passionate about (Ps 16:11). The best part is when people pay you to do what you are passionate!

3) Priorities. Death is the ultimate equalizer. Regardless of who you are, what status you have, what material things you own, what awards you have won, death is a common denominator of all humanity. Too often in our quest for significance in this world, we forget what is important to us. We try to find temporary pleasure in material things, but it leaves us unsatisfied and longing for something more. There seems to be this unified sentiment from people who have either lost a loved one or who have gone through a near-death experience – they all talk about priorities and what is really important. We know that we will never be able to take “things” with us when we die, but then why do we so single-mindedly pursue them? When everything is said and done, what seems to matter the most is the impact you have had on people’s lives. I am a firm believer that you can always tell how a person has lived their life by observing their funeral. For us, as a Christ-follower, at the end of our lives, we want to know that we have done everything that God has called us to do. It is hearing the words of, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:23) that we hunger for when we see Christ face-to-face.

Perspective. Passion. Priorities. These things help us to understand our purpose in life, as well as to enable us to praise the One who gives us all things according to His will.

If We Only Knew What We Know Now

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

Photo on about.com
 
 
 
As Christina and I are preparing the family, the team and the church for the transition that is coming up in July, we started to talk about what it would be like if we stayed longer in Indonesia – like 5 years or even 10 years longer.

This sparked a good discussion.

I shared from my perspective that if we stayed longer in Indonesia, our relationships with people would be stronger and deeper. We would be able to see a greater impact. I also shared how we would be able to reach more people with the Gospel and see more open doors to engage the society.

In the midst of this discussion Christina said, “Then why did we only commit for one year?” For some reason this caught me off guard.

My only response to her question dealt with the issue with the kids. Then I asked, “When we were trying to decide whether to come to Indonesia or not, could you really have committed to a longer period of time, in light of the kids?”

Her response floored me.

She simply said, “Yes.”

Then, I pressed Christina and told her that I thought the major issue for her was with the children.

She responded by saying, “If we prayed and believed that God wanted us to commit longer than one year, then I would have been ok with it because I trust you and I would have followed you.”

Wow! After trying to contain my inflated ego, I sat there speechless.

It is true how hindsight has a way of helping us seeing things more clearly in the present. If I knew what I know now, I wonder how things might have been different.

Not only was I encouraged by her response, but I thought about my role as a husband, a father and a pastor. There were 3 things that came to my mind:

1) Trust is something that is earned. I have had my fair share of mistakes and even bad decisions that affected my relationship with Christina, but to know that she still trust me to lead the family, it reiterated the importance of trust. Trust is something that is not given out freely, but rather it is earned. This is something that I need to keep on growing in and something that I need to continue to make deposits into Christina’s trust account. I am still amazed that Christina followed my leadership for this long. It just reminds me what an incredible woman I have married. I am thankful her for her support, love and graciousness.

2) The responsibility is great when people are counting on you.
It is always easier to take responsibility for one person – yourself. But when you know that there are people counting on you, it puts a greater sense of responsibility. It causes you to pause more and pray more. We often forget how our decisions have consequences and affect people close to us. There is no neutrality – either it will have a positive or negative impact.

3) God’s will is better understood when we look at things backwards.
When it comes to doing God’s will, don’t you wish that we can always see how things will turn out first and then make a decision. In this way, we will never miss out on things and we can avoid a lot of heartaches and headaches. But then again, it would take out the fun of trusting in God throughout the journey. Life that is so planned and predictable is not the kind of life that God desires for us. The life that God wants us to live is a life of trust and faith. God is always more glorified this way.

The idea of making decisions by knowing what we know now is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we need to go through things without fully knowing everything in order to grow in faith and trust; but then, as we begin to comprehend things now, there is a greater responsibility to obey God’s will on the decisions for the future.

This whole discussion with Christina has been a challenge for me in the area of faith, trust, and obedience. It is my prayer that with what I know now that I will be able to make decisions in the future that will maximize God’s honor and glory.

The Revelatory Nature of Trials

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

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Many of you have probably heard of the axiom, “Trials will make you more like Christ.” But the more I think about it, I realized that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, I have been guilty of preaching this misnomer for years. Even in my counseling sessions, I have encouraged people to have the perspective of enduring through trials because it will produce Christ-likeness.

It is important before I proceed that I establish what I am NOT saying. I am not saying that trials “cannot” make us more like Christ. The Bible teaches that trials can produce character (Ro 5) and there are whole books that talk about the benefits of trials (Job and 1 Peter). Anything is possible. What I am referring to is the “assumption” that just because we go through trials that somehow we will “automatically” become more like Christ.

Being out here in Indonesia, I am coming to the conclusion that trials do not necessarily make us more like Christ, but it reveals more of who we really are.

Think of it this way:

Why is it that when two different people go through trials, one can really go through it with joy and hope and then be transformed by it, while the other person will get bitter and even turn away from God. If trials are really supposed to make us more like Christ, then the outcome of the two people should be the same; but this is not always the case. In fact, it is more common to see people turn away from Christ.

I want to propose that trials are more revelatory in nature. It simply reveals who we really are and where we are in our relationship with Christ.

As we go through trials, we have a choice. We can either humble ourselves and conclude the truth of who God is (that He is Sovereign, loving, purposeful, etc) or we can turn self-centered and deny everything we know and learned about who God is. Honestly, there is really no middle ground; and too often we find ourselves wanting to trust in God, but we constantly lean towards what is natural in the flesh.

This is why we have a lot of practicing Christian-Atheist – Christian in our heads, but in practice, we are Atheist because we live as if God does not exist.

Therefore, trials are more like a catalyst to reveal who we really are. Trials should spark a greater dependence on God and inspire trust in God’s promises. It is like every sports team that prepares during the pre-season and regular season. All the months and years of practice come down to the championship game.

In the championship game of trials, all the devotion times, all the prayers, all the bible studies of who God is, all the church gatherings, all the blessings that we have received from God, come down to that moment of what we will do when trials come our way. Once again, there is no middle ground. We will not win the game by just holding on to the ball and wishing that we made the shot. We have to make the choice whether to trust in Him or trust in ourselves.

We were destined for greatness. If you don’t believe me, just look at the cross. It is game time and we want Christ to be glorified in the midst of our trials, so we need to do our part as God is already doing His part.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

The Heart of Child

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo on pixdaus.com
 
 
 
This past week, I had the privilege of speaking at Karissa’s chapel. The best part of it was being introduced by my little girl. Not only did she do an excellent job, but I was so humbled by her joy and excitement when she saw me.

Before I went up to speak, Karissa and some of her classmates were leading the praise time. Well, let’s just say that they were playing a CD and leading the group with motions. I couldn’t help but to notice the purity of their worship to God. As I followed along, I was reminded of Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).

There is something about having a child-like heart that brings delight to the Father’s heart. Here are some lessons that I was reminded of on that day:

1) Your kids will grow up quickly so enjoy your time with them now. As I look at my oldest child, I realized how quickly he is growing up. Now, as he is going through changes, there are some things that he does not like to do. Things are different compared to when he was a child. I have to enjoy the time I have with my children now because there will come a time when they will all move away from home.

2) Don’t be afraid or ashamed to express your love. For some reason, as we get older it is just harder to freely express what we feel. We are more guarded. We are more careful. But kids have a way of just “letting go” and freely showing their love. It is so refreshing and humbling on the receiving end.

3) Do everything with a pure heart. With time, it seems as if so much of what we do are laced with agendas. Why is it that we sometimes forget that we should do things, just because? Even though there are no direct benefits to us, are we humble enough to do things because it is just the right thing to do?

4) Don’t worry so much about what people think about you. We are always trying to preserve our reputation. It is interesting how our concern for our reputation is directly correlated with our age. The older we get, the more concerned we become and sometimes it blinds us from doing things that bring joy to the Father’s heart.

5) Allow the simple things to bring joy throughout your day. The day before Karissa’s chapel, she doubled checked in the afternoon to make sure I could make it. The night before, she worked on her introduction with Christina. In the morning, she came into the room and just smiled at me. When I dropped her off at school, she said, “I will see you very soon, daddy!” To know that my very presence at school would bring that much excitement to her heart, it filled my heart with joy.

6) Be proud of the things that matter to you. As we were about to start chapel, I could tell that her friends were pointing their fingers at me and whispering things to Karissa. With a huge smile on her face, Karissa waved at me and responded to her friends with some kind of “yeah, that’s my daddy.” There were several times throughout the chapel time when our eyes met. I just gave her a huge smile letting her know that I loved her and was so proud of her. You should have seen her response – she stood up tall and sang louder. It just made my day.

Evolution of Things

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Before I share some thoughts, check out this video. For those of you born in the late 80’s and 90’s, this will not have much significance to you. But for those of us who lived our younger years in the 80’s this video will make a lot of sense. It might even bring back some warn fuzzy feelings.
 
 

 
 

It is amazing how things evolve, especially in the area of technology and the gaming world. As I look at some of the games that are out there now and reflect on the simple days of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Centipede, and Defender, it is amazing how far we have come. The graphics are now more real life than ever.

As I was thinking about the evolution of technology, I started to think about my own personal evolution as a person. Not only when I look at some of the pictures from my younger years, but also seeing how my perspective has changed in different areas, it makes me realize how important it is to constantly be growing and changing.

Even with the various changes, I have also come to realize that there are some things that simply do not change. In fact, they have been consistent in my life for many years. I guess this is what a lot of people call “conviction.” I have always held on to the belief that “opinions can change, but convictions cannot change without changing you.”

There are a lot of “opinion changing” things that have happened throughout the years, but I am thankful that some of the core convictions that God has deposited in my heart that have not changed. In fact, they have only gotten stronger.

These are things that I have given my life to and these are the things that I will continue “waste” my life on until the day I die. What an awesome privilege.

The Irony of Finding Oneself

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

 

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I have been working on my message for the Sunday Celebration sermon series called, “The Price.” This Sunday I will be covering “The Price of Freedom” by preaching on Romans 6. It has been an interesting study for me because it reminded me of a principle that has been proven true over the years, not only in my life but also in the lives of people that I have counseled over the years.

So often in the midst of trying to find ourselves, we forget that it is only by losing ourselves that we will truly find ourselves. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-25, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

In our search for our identity, we frequently base it on the things of this world – our grades, career, family, reputation, friends, and the like – rather than on the Gospel and our relationship with Christ. This is why sometimes we feel as if following Christ is restrictive and more of a burden, than finding true joy and freedom.

The story of the “prodigal son” (Lk 15:11-24) describes our plight so well.

When the younger son was at home with his father, he felt restricted in his freedom and confined to his father’s rules. This is why he made the audacious request of his share of his inheritance and decided to leave home in order to find himself and enjoy his freedom.

But the irony of the story (which by the way is often times our story) is seen when we notice what happened when he started to experience his freedom. Instead of finding himself, he lost himself further into sin. In his freedom, it turned out that he was really enslaved in the grip of sin. It was only when the prodigal son repented of his rebellion that he realized true freedom was found in his father’s house.

He then made the long journey home.

We are only able to find ourselves when we are willing to lose ourselves to Christ. Conversely, when we lose ourselves to the things of this world, then we will never find ourselves.

True freedom is found when we are in obedience to the One who laid down His life for us. This is the process of losing ourselves in order to find ourselves.

Easter in Indonesia

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories

 

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What an awesome weekend we had here in Indonesia! As I was giving more thought to it, I realized that this was the first Easter we celebrated outside of Ann Arbor in 14 years. It just felt different – in a good way.

Last week, we were busy getting ready for Good Friday and Easter weekend. But in the midst of all the busy preparations, one thing we realized that we could not neglect was prayer. We knew that God had to be the one that would reveal Himself to the people that we would be bringing to church. Those of us who were serving in the celebration also knew that God had to anoint us in order for our presentations to be Spirit-filled. Therefore, it was good to spend time in prayer in our LIFE Groups and even in our own personal times with the Lord before the weekend.

We had a full day with a packed Sunday Celebration and then an Easter lunch that followed. After the food and fellowship time with one another, we had our baptism service. As I was hearing the testimonies, I was reminded that God is truly alive and He desires to work in the lives of His people. When I looked around, I saw so many of the baptism candidates’ families and friends who came out to witness this important moment. I was just privileged to participate in baptizing the candidates. This was our first baptism here in Indonesia and God blessed it tremendously. We were humbled.

Now, we are in the process of filtering through all the response cards that we received after the message on Sunday. Already there are some awesome testimonies of people responding to the Gospel message. We are praying that many of the newcomers will join our small group ministry so that they can get plugged in to our community.

One thing that we (those of us who are here) cannot deny is God’s faithfulness. We realized that God loves His people more than we ever could and that God uses weak people like us to present the message of Easter. It is simply another demonstration of God’s grace and His power at work. How can we not praise Him?

Good Friday Reflection 4.2.10

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

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John Stott in his book, What Christ Thinks of the Church writes, “The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us.”

This quote by Stott helped me to visualize the need for God’s sparks from the cross to fall on me once again. After so many Good Fridays, it is easy for me to speak about the cross from a third person perspective. It doesn’t help that I had to prepare and preach on the cross every year during this time. After awhile, it becomes more of head knowledge than heart knowledge.

I will never forget the times when the subject of the cross came up and how it would bring tears to my eyes. I think that initial realization of the horrors of the cross really humbled me. To think that it was my sins that crucified Christ on the cross was a bit overwhelming. Even when the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” came out, it helped me to see the suffering and the crucifixion of Christ with a whole new perspective.

Recently, I was challenged to revisit the cross. Usually people say that the longer you have been a Christ-follower, the more humble you become. I think the truth behind that statement lies in the fact that the longer you have journeyed with the Lord, the more you realize your need for Christ. We start to see more of our weaknesses and our sinfulness. We realize how different we are from Christ. The fragility and flawed nature of our character remind us of our need for mercy and grace.

This is why the closer we are to the blazing fire of the cross, the more our love for Christ will be kindled by the sparks of the cross. The cross magnifies our sinfulness, while at the same time amplifies God’s love and grace. This is why we are constantly drawn back to the cross. May the sparks fly on us as we stay near the cross, so that our hearts will burn with a fire that will never die.