Learning through Interviews

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various


Photo on buzzle.com
With the remaining time I have left in Asia, I have been trying to squeeze in as my interviews as I can for my doctoral dissertation. I am trying to examine the importance of starting an international church with the alumni from our HMCC churches back in the States. It has been an interesting journey of discovery for me.

I am so thankful for our alumni and the nationals who have been gracious enough to take the time out to do the interviews. Not only did I get to know them better, but it helped me to realize the importance of having an international church like ours in their country.

Here are some lessons learned through the interviews:

1) Open-ended questions will allow people to share what is in their heart, therefore listen well.

2) You don’t realize all the great things God is doing in a person’s life, until you make an effort to get to know people and hear their testimonies.

3) When international students are able to experience the power of the Gospel while they are in the States, God will put a greater desire in them to see it happen in their country, especially with their family and friends.

4) It is amazing to see how God weaves various things in a person’s life in order to bring them to where they need to be at the moment.

5) When we have tasted something that is good (i.e. experience abroad), we do not want to go back to “business as usual.”

6) Learning how to adjust back to our first culture is not easy because our worldview has expanded and changed, therefore we need people and community to help us along the way.

7) Life is sometimes shaped by a web of relationships; therefore love and invest in people because you never know who you will influence and impact.

Transitioning the Teams

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Photo by worldofstock.com
It has been great having the new Jakarta Team here in Indonesia. Even though we have been together for only a week, we have been able to bond quickly together. Recently, our team, along with the new team went away to a retreat center to pray together and prepare for the next chapter in our church. For the next two weeks, we will be transitioning the various responsibilities over to the new team; and the current team will assist in the assimilation process.

It has been encouraging for me to see our current Jakarta Team being so helpful to the new team. It just reminds me the importance of the partnership in the Gospel. We are not doing this alone. As my family and I prepare to make the transition back to the States, I have full confidence that God will lead our church to the next level.

In the last few days, I have been thinking about the importance of transitions. Transitions in life are not easy for many reasons. So, I have been reflecting on the process of transitions for our family and the church. In my reflection, I have made some important observations on what will help in a smooth(-er) transition:

1) Talk things through. One of the major reasons why transitions do not go well is because of the uncertainties and doubts. If the people who are making the transition know what is going to happen, the more they will be able to put things into context. Preemptive communication is key, as well as on-going communication.

2) Train the people.
We have to make sure that the two groups of people are trained for the transition. The group that are leaving and the group that are coming in have different things that they have to be trained in; therefore, it is vital that we leave no stone unturned.

3) Transfer the responsibilities. One of the big principles that I have been teaching people is the 5-step process of discipleship. It is simply: a) I do, you watch; b) I do, you help; c) You do, I help; d) You do, I watch; e) Repeat the process with someone else. We cannot forget this process as we transfer the responsibilities. This will require some time but the principles cannot be violated.

4) Take time to pray and then act. Often times, transitions cause so much stress that we natural want to take matters into our own hands. It is crucial that we pause and spend some time in prayer. It reminds us that we are not in control and God is greater, bigger, and stronger. When we pray, it gives us confidence as we move forward in the transition.

5) Trust in God. Ultimately everything is in the Lord’s hands. No matter how well we prepare for a transition, there are many x-factors that can cause all our planning to go out the door. This is why we need to learn how to trust and depend on God to lead us into the future. The greater our view of God, the greater we will be able to have faith that everything is going to work out for our good and for His glory.

Identity Theft Sermon Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various


Photo by HMCC of Jakarta Publications
I am excited to share our next Sunday Celebration sermon series called, “Identity Theft.” In the last 11 months, I have to come to the stark realization that one of the biggest issues for people in Indonesia is their struggle with their God-given identity. I think this struggle is prevalent in most Asian cultures.

The dilemma with trying to address the identity issue is that people generally know what the problem is but then it is so hard to live it out. A lot of our identity is shaped by our parents, peers, and the world. We are constantly faced with these influences in our lives; therefore it slowly erodes away at our identity, which should be rooted in what Christ has done for us on the cross.

If we are going to win this battle for our identity, then we will have to commit to going back to some of the basics. Our sense of significance, feeling accepted, being loved, and longing for security need to be found in Jesus Christ.

When our identity is rooted in the wrong things, then our perception of ourselves will be contorted. Even our view of others and the world will be twisted. Then this leaves us empty and dissatisfied.

We will explore from Scripture the biblical principles about centering our identity on a strong foundation. We will cover 3-parts to this series:

1) Part 1: “Who We Are Matters”
2) Part 2: “How We Live Matters”
3) Part 3: “Why We Do Things Matters”

I am praying from some big breakthroughs through this sermon series. This will launch us to greater things, as people in our church experience greater freedom and joy in their journey with Christ.

Reminders from the Fishing Story

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Photo on oceanchampions.org
This week, I re-read a portion of Max Lucado’s book, He Still Moves Stones: Everyone Needs a Miracle. It was a good reminder of several principles that I try to live by.

Here is a excerpt from Lucado’s book:

Most mornings Peter and his partners would sell their fish, repair their nets, and head home to rest with a bag of money and a feeling of satisfaction. This particular morning there was no money. There was no satisfaction. They had worked all through the night but had nothing to show for it except weary backs and worn nets.

And, what’s worse, everyone knew it. Every morning the shore would become a market as the villagers came to buy their fish, but that day there were no fish.

Jesus was there that morning, teaching. As the people pressed there was little room for him to stand, so he asked Peter if his boat could be a platform. Peter agreed, maybe thinking the boat might as well be put to some good use.

Peter listens as Jesus teaches. It’s good to hear something other than the slapping of waves. When Jesus finishes with the crowd, he turns to Peter. He has another request. He wants to go fishing. “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish” (Luke 5:4).

Peter groans. The last thing he wants to do is fish. The boat is clean. The nets are ready to dry. The sun is up and he is tired. It’s time to go home. Besides, everyone is watching. They’ve already seen him come back empty-handed once. And, what’s more, what does Jesus know about fishing?

So Peter speaks, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish” (v. 5). Mark the weariness in the words.

“We worked hard.” Scraping the hull. Carrying the nets. Pulling the oars. Throwing the nets high into the moonlit sky. Listening as they slap on the surface of the water.

“All night.” The sky had gone from burnt orange to midnight black to morning gold. The hours had passed as slowly as the fleets of clouds before the moon. The fishermen’s conversation had stilled and their shoulders ached. While the village slept, the men worked. All… night… long.

“Trying to catch fish.” The night’s events had been rhythmic: net swung and tossed high till it spread itself against the sky. Then wait. Let it sink. Pull it in. Do it again. Throw. Pull. Throw. Pull. Throw. Pull. Every toss had been a prayer. But every drag of the empty net had come back unanswered. Even the net sighed as the men pulled it out and prepared to throw it again.

For twelve hours they’d fished. And now … now Jesus is wanting to fish some more? And not just off the shore, but in the deep?

Peter sees his friends shrug their shoulders. He looks at the people on the beach watching him. He doesn’t know what to do. Jesus may know a lot about a lot, but Peter knows about fishing. Peter knows when to work and when to quit. He knows there is a time to go on and a time to get out.

Common sense said it was time to get out. Logic said cut your losses and go home. Experience said pack it up and get some rest. But Jesus said, “We can try again if you want.”
The most difficult journey is back to the place where you failed.

Jesus knows that. That’s why he volunteers to go along. “The first outing was solo; this time I’ll be with you. Try it again, this time with me on board.”

And Peter reluctantly agrees to try again. “But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will” (Luke 5:5). It didn’t make any sense, but he’d been around this Nazarene enough to know that his presence made a difference. That wedding in Cana? That sick child of the royal ruler? It’s as if Jesus carried his own deck to the table.

So the oars dip again and the boat goes out. The anchor is set and the nets fly once more.

Peter watches as the net sinks, and he waits. He waits until the net spreads as far as his rope allows. The fishermen are quiet. Peter is quiet. Jesus is quiet. Suddenly the rope yanks. The net, heavy with fish, almost pulls Peter overboard.

“John, James!” he yells. “Come quick!”

Soon the boats are so full of fish that the port side rim dips close to the surface. Peter, ankle deep in flopping silver, turns to look at Jesus, only to find that Jesus is looking at him.

That’s when he realizes who Jesus is.

What an odd place to meet God – on a fishing boat on a small sea in a remote country! But such is the practice of the God who comes into our world. Such is the encounter experienced by those who are willing to try again … with him.

Peter’s life was never again the same after that catch.

Here are the principles that I need to be constantly reminded of:

1) Walking by faith and not by sight is hard, but do it anyways.
2) Stop trusting in yourself because God is stronger and smarter than you.
3) Don’t calculate so much because you will start limiting God and yourself.
4) Don’t do things without God because He is the best wingman.
5) Obedience is always rewarded.
6) God’s past faithfulness should be a good predictor of future faithfulness
7) God reveals Himself the moment we let go & jump – no sooner or later.


Myths About Marriage

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Photo by nara.gov of the Gores, May 19th, 1970
In light of the shocking news of Al and Tipper Gore’s divorce, I was thinking, “how can a couple get a divorce after 40 years of marriage?!” In all news accounts and some personal testimonies from people who know the Gores well, they have mentioned that the Gores just “grew apart over the years.”

No couple enters into a marriage thinking, “We are going to get a divorce sometime in the future.” Every couple wants their marriage to succeed. As Christina and I have done many pre-marital counseling sessions with excited engaged couples, one of the things that we address is the issue of myths and expectations. It is surprising to see that many engaged couples hold on to various myths that can signal trouble once they get married.

Tony Welty wrote an article describing some of the most common myths that couples have about marriage. Welty numerates them for us by writing,

1) “Once we get married, any relational problems we’re experiencing will go away.” In short, no they will not. Because relational problems are cyclical by nature, they do not simply vanish after the wedding day. Rather, difficulties will drop below the surface for awhile, only to rear their ugly heads at an opportune time. In combating this myth, I try to encourage each couple to think soberly and realistically about the covenant they are about to enter. Relational issues are like weeds. It’s often difficult to get at the roots, so the gardeners need patience and grace. The task here is to offer premarital couples a realistic perspective along with a few tools for later use.

2) Marriage is mainly about personal happiness. As the logic goes, “The goal of my marriage is to be happy. If I’m happy, my marriage will be happy and good.” Not necessarily true. God’s design for marriage certainly envisions happiness; it’s just not the sort of happiness we’re accustomed to experiencing as self-determining individuals. Good and healthy marital relationships are profoundly other-centered. In addressing this false belief with couples, I use several different communication inventories, which require each individual to begin thinking in terms of “us” rather than “me and you.” The ultimate goal here is to train the couple to think of one another empathically.

3) “Our love is so strong we don’t need to work at our relationship. I mean, we never even fight or argue.” This logic suggests that true and pure love can be recognized by the absence of any tensions, constraints, or extra efforts. However, any couple who has been in a covenanted relationship for more than about 10 minutes knows the fallacy behind this belief. The underlying problem here is an over-dependency on the current strength of feelings. The cure is to again train the couple to think about their relationship in a different way. To do this, I will often share personal stories of how God, by taking my wife and me through tumultuous times, transformed some aspect of our marriage. When faced as a “cord of three strands” (the Lord, my wife, and me), marital trials and difficulties purify and strengthen our relationship by forcing us to depend on his faithfulness, rather than our own strength of will. The movement is away from an over-dependence on personal feelings to a settled reliance on covenant faithfulness.

These are just three of the many myths that people have about marriage. With the wedding season under full swing, it will be good to reminds ourselves that marriage is not about making us happy (even though there is a lot of joy), but more about making us holy and more like Christ.