What We Were NOT Created To Do

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from alaska-in-pictures.com
 
 
 
Have you ever thought about how certain things in life are created to do something? A lot of times we look at it from just one angle – the functionality of things. Therefore, we would say, “a fish in water is created to swim or an eagle in the air is created to fly.” But what if we looked at it from the inverse angle?

A fish in water does not drown. An eagle in the air does not falter.

For some reason, it gives a completely different perspective on things. The former perspective is obvious, but the latter gave me one of those “ah ha” moments.

A fish in water does not drown because it is in an environment where it is simply doing what it was created to do. Now, if you put the fish on land then we will see a different result. This is same for the eagle. They were created to soar (it is obvious when we see it), but when we see it tumble and plummet, then we say something is wrong.

How many of us are doing things that we were not created to do? Not only is obvious to people who are close to you, but you feel this great tension in your heart. We can try to convince ourselves all we want but at the end of the day, we know that there is this longing in our hearts.

It is a longing to fulfill our destiny. It is a longing to do something significant and to make a difference in this world.

A person in God’s Presence does not live purposelessly and insignificantly. This is why we have to humble ourselves and return to what God has called us to do (Rev 2:5).

Thanksgiving 2010 Reflections

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from canvasreplicas.com
 
 
 
As today is officially Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to take this time to write about how truly thankful I am for so many things. I have been sharing with people that there is a strong connection between a person’s level of gratitude and their lives being filled with faith and trust. It is difficult to exhibit faith and trust in God when we have a complaining or whining spirit. Usually a complaining spirit puts the attention on the self, which makes it very hard to focus on the greatness and the goodness of God. It always causes us to focus on what we don’t have rather than the things that we do have.

But when a person has this “attitude of gratitude,” they are able to see the blessings in everything – the cup is always half-full instead of being half-empty. This gives them faith. It also enables them to trust in a God who is trustworthy.

I am praying that I continue to grow in this area of thankfulness and gratitude.

Therefore, today, as I reflect on all the ways God has blessed me throughout this year, I am thankful for:

1) God’s Grace. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for His grace. I am a living testimony that out of God unlimited supply of grace, He can take a messed up person and turn things around. God is always in the business of turning things around – ashes to beauty; mourning to dancing; pain to purpose. Where would I be Lord without you?

2) God’s Gifts. As I am seeing my kids grow up right before my eyes, I realize that they are truly God’s gift to me and Christina. We are just stewards and we need to hold them loosely. Also, I cannot believe Christina has loved me faithfully and fervently for all these years. Oh, how my life would be so different if God did not give me these gifts.

3) God’s Generosity. It is amazing how God met all of my needs for this year. I understand in greater depth about how God lavishes His love upon His children. God is never a cheapskate (Ro 8:32). He continues to shock me with His generosity towards me. In fact, it is so humbling that it makes me want to love Him more.

4) God’s Guidance. It is always a good thing when the Person you are following already knows the way. This year has truly been a year of learning to fully trust and follow God as He led the way, day by day. There have been times when things did not make complete sense, but somehow at the end, everything turned out for His glory and for my good. There is definitely no other way, than to trust and obey.

Two Important Days for Men

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

Photo by annegeddes.com
 
 
 
This past weekend there were two significant observances. On November 19th, it was the International Men’s Day and then on November 20th it was the National Adoption Day. For some reason, I just found the two back-to-back commemorative days a bit interesting.

The International Men’s day was created to address some of the issues men faced worldwide, as well as to acknowledge some of the positive contributions they have made in society. But from various reports (U.S. Departments of Health, Labor and Education) it is estimated that close to 85% of homeless adults, 90% of prisoners, 65% of high school dropouts, 80% of suicide deaths, and 93% of occupational deaths are attributed to men. Also, many babies that are given up for adoption is a result of men who failed to take responsibility for their actions.

This is the reason why I think these two commemorative days should be linked.

The Church has to play a role in developing and producing REAL men. When we raise up men who – Reject passivity, Exemplify integrity, Accept responsibility and Lead courageously – then we will see some of the statistics start to change. This is a very important call for the Church. As more men take up the challenge of living up to God’s plan for manhood, we will start to witness stronger marriages, families, and societies being built up.

Shining the Light on Robert Barriger

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Visits

 
My time in Lima, Peru was incredible. In fact, it was like a mini-retreat for me. I was able to recalibrate and get my spirit renewed. But most of all, I was able to reconnect with one of my spiritual mentors, Pastor Robert Barriger.

I have come to the realization that there are always a handful of people that God sovereignly places in your life. They are the divine connections that play a significant role in your journey with Christ.

I will never forget how the divine connection with Pastor Robert was made back in 1997. I went down to Peru on a vision trip after receiving a revelation that I needed to go down there. Someone introduced me to a contact, but for some reason I did not get the sense that this pastor was someone that we could work with in Peru. After meeting other pastors, I asked someone if they knew of anyone else that I could meet before I returned back to the States. One of the missionaries mentioned that it might be good for me to meet up with Pastor Robert.

Even though it was last minute, I was able to get a 30-minute appointment before their mid-week service. But due to the notorious Lima traffic, I ended up missing the appointment and came to service about an hour late. As the service was finishing up, I realized that I would only have 15 minutes to talk with Pastor Robert, since my flight was taking off that evening.

With thousands of people filing out to exit the church, I had to go against the exiting traffic and head towards the front of the sanctuary. After profusely apologizing for missing the appointment, I asked Pastor Robert if he can share his heart and vision for Peru. Then, literally in 15 minutes, he briefly shared his testimony, and then proceeded to share the vision of his church and for the nation of Peru.

It is hard to describe in words what I felt, but after he shared, I just knew that this was the man of God that we, as a church needed to work with. Then in the following year, we sent our first missions team to Latin America. Since then, it has been an incredible journey of being mentored by him, but more importantly, Pastor Robert has become a great friend.

I share this little bit of history of the divine connection because over the years I have come to understand why God placed him in my life. On my flight back to the States, I was able to spend some time in reflection and I came to several conclusions about Pastor Robert:

1) Humility. In all the years I have known Pastor Robert, I have never seen him seek after the limelight. In fact, he is always trying to go into the background. I have never met a person who finds such incredible joy when other people shine. My respect for him continues to deepen as I am finding out more of the incredible things he has accomplished over the years. He never talks about it, but it helps that there are other people who help shine the light on the kind of person he is and what he has done.

2) Integrity. It is hard to find people who are passionately committed to integrity because there is a cost involved. To live a life of integrity, it requires a high commitment to God’s honor and glory. Pastor Robert does everything with integrity that it inspires trust and loyalty from people. The man lives out what he preaches. A living example always speaks volumes.

3) Authenticity. The higher a person goes in their level of influence, the easier it is to hide behind the position and reputation. But time after time, I have consistently seen Pastor Robert be authentic. He does not put on a façade or try to be someone he is not. His transparency is pretty unassuming and this causes him to be very approachable. Trust me – you end up sharing a lot of things with him that you might not share with other people.

4) Generosity. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that generous and magnanimous people are hard to come by. I have repeatedly seen Pastor Robert be generous in giving grace, mercy and love. It is simply an overflow of the great things he is receiving from God. Pastor Robert is consistently giving of himself and never expects anything in return. Who doesn’t want to hang out with people like this?

5) Responsibility. A great trait of a leader is the willingness to take responsibility; whether it is a mistake he made or a mistake someone that he was overseeing made, I have never seen him play the blame game. I have personally seen how Pastor Robert takes responsibility for his family, his church and his calling. He has never cowered away from doing what is right. This is why he exudes confidence, which enable people to submit to his leadership.

6) Joviality. The man has a passion for life. Pastor Robert believes that life is supposed to be lived to the fullest, therefore there is never a shortage of laughter and lattes. When you are around him, you get a sense that there should be more joy in your life. Not only does he demonstrate that ministry is supposed to be fun but doing it with other people make it that much more exciting.

 
 
As Pastor Robert is ahead of us in this journey, he is definitely leaving footprints for us to follow. I am privileged and thankful that I get a close up view of the real thing.

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Heb 13:7).

“Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all” (MSG)

“Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do” (NLT).
 
 
 

Pastor Robert trying to tempt me to take a bit out of the “Apple”
 
 
 

It is awesome to see that Camino de Vida is raising up leaders for tomorrow
 
 
 

The scenery off the coast of the Pacific Ocean is beautiful
 
 
 

There is something about a fresh fish market that always makes me hungry
 
 
 

The Barriger family were taking their Christmas card picture
 
 
 

The U.S. Embassy in Lima is like a fortress
 
 
 

An incredible sunset over the Pacific Ocean – perfect for inspiration!
 
 
 

I am standing next to a giant in the faith

Heading to South America

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visits

 
I am in transit in Atlanta and waiting for my plane to head down to Lima, Peru. It has been awhile since I have been in Latin America. A lot of our focus has been in Asia within the last 5 years; but recently God has opened a door for us in Chile.

I will be reconnecting with Pastor Robert Barriger from Camino de Vida. I am looking forward to just hanging out with him, as well as learning from his wisdom.

These are exciting times. God is moving powerfully all over the world. I believe that God is going to open up a door of opportunity for us again in Latin America. I can’t wait to share with you all that God is doing in this part of the world.
 
 
 

HMCC of Austin Update 11.15.10

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories, Visits

 
Every time I travel to one of the HMCC churches, I am reminded how much Jesus loves His Bride (Eph 5:25-27). Even though each church is a little different due to the context, I am thankful that each of our churches has the same DNA.

It has been refreshing to spend some time with Pastor Ben and his family. Their family has always been special to Christina and me because Pastor Ben was there when we first started the church in Ann Arbor back in 1996. Also, we knew Susan when she was a freshmen and saw her grow up to be a woman of God.

On this trip, I also had the opportunity to meet up with the leaders of the church and with a few of the new believers who came to know Christ through our ministry. I am just amazed at all the powerful ways in which Christ has been working. We are constantly reminded that it is not about us, but all about His glory!

This trip was particularly encouraging because I got a glimpse of how HMCC of Austin is being faithful to one of their callings to reach the nations. We had a potluck dinner after Sunday Celebration and the members were supposed to bring a dish from their country. We had cuisine represented from – China, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Nigeria, Jamaica, Germany, and etc.

Many of these people are pre-Christians and our committed members are doing the hard work of building relationships and investing in their lives. Not only is the harvest field great, but I believe that HMCC of Austin will reap a tremendous harvest for the Lord in the days to come.
 
 
 

Advancing Together with the 2020 Vision

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
It has been about a month since we shared the 2020 Vision with all the HMCC churches. Once again, this is an endeavor that will require a tremendous amount of faith and prayer. Throughout history, whenever great things were accomplished, there were several traits consistently present:

1) Revelation from God. Whenever there is a God-size vision, it has to come from God and His Word. If the vision is centered around human wishes or dreams, then it will not go very far. God has to reveal the vision to His people. Also, the vision has to be consistent with His promises and purposes that are found in His Word.

2) Response from the people. Once the revelation is given, God’s people have a choice whether to respond in obedience and take steps of faith or to cower away and miss out on His blessings. This is why before making any decisions, we need to saturate things in prayer so that we can first, discern if the revelation is from God, but so that secondly, we can have the courage to respond in obedience.

3) Reliance upon God. As we make the resolution to live by faith and trust in God’s promises, we need to continue to rely upon God. Achieving a vision is not an easy task. In fact, it requires us to live life with purpose and perseverance. We will often times find ourselves losing heart and focus in achieving any goal or dream. This is why as we learn how to pray and depend on God, we will find strength to move forward with courage.

 
 
The 2020 Vision for all the HMCC churches has been progressively revealed to us throughout the years. God has been giving us the pieces of the puzzle, a little at a time. It was only by His grace, where we were able to connect the dots and realize what He wanted us to do.

As this revelation was given to us, we said, “yes” to God, even though at times, we felt inadequate and saw our shortcomings. This is part of living a life of faith – we do not look at the here and now, but we put our gaze upon God, who holds our future in His hands. The 2020 Vision will continually challenge us to live by faith and not by sight, so that the only person who will receive the glory, will be God.

There will be bumps along the way, but we can be confident that God will lead us. This is why we need to rely upon Him. As this vision will extend to the year 2020, we have to learn how to hold things loosely. Learning how to rely upon God means that we need to have a spirit of discernment. If God directs us elsewhere in the next few years, we need to be able to let God and follow God. If God presses us forward with even a greater increase in the vision, then we need to be faithful and obey.

Already, we have seen several missional initiatives start up in HMCC of Ann Arbor. I can’t wait for other great testimonies to come forth. Our view of God will always determine the size of our vision. I believe we serve a big God, therefore this vision is huge. What is impossible with man is possible with God. This is the quiet confidence that we have and we are anticipating greater things to come. Don’t forget the math: 1, 10, 100, 1000!

Relationship Reality Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publications Team
 
 
 
Usually we have a relationship series for the college students, right around February when the topic of love and relationships are in the air. For this year, we have decided to do it earlier.

If there is one issue that has caused the most heartaches and headaches for people, it will have to be on the topic of opposite-sex relationships. We live in a culture where sex sells; and we are inundated with sensual messages on a daily basis. The barrage of images and sound bites keep coming and we get bombarded on every side from the media, our peers and our culture. How is a Christ-follower supposed to sift through all the dissonant voices and clearly hear God’s voice on the topic of opposite-sex relationships?

When I talk with students, I try to find out who shaped their views about relationships. Rarely, do I hear that their parents talk to them about sex. In fact, majority of the people would say that their views and opinions were developed and formulated through the media and their friends. A small percentage would say that they developed a stance on relationships through their youth group or youth pastor.

One thing that I have always been challenged by is being courageous enough to do things differently. This is something that I am trying to teach our kids. But it is not easy. There is something inside of us that wants to conform and follow the crowd, rather than setting the pace and blazing the trail. Simply, we all want to be accepted and belong to something or someone.
But when it comes to relationship, we have to offer the people of this world a different way – a way that leads to life and abundance, rather and hurt and regret.

In all my years of counseling, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of our issues and struggles in life are connected to a relationship issue. Therefore, if we don’t get this right, then we will be headed on a trail which will lead to a dead-end. I would love to see people live in freedom and inside the will of God.

In this series, I am going to do a bit less teaching on the practicals and emphasize more on the theological principles of having healthy relationships. I am praying that people will see more than the “do’s and don’t’s” of relationships and capture God’s heart and plan for relationships that honor God.

But, the practicals will be covered through some time of Q&A, which are always unpredictable and fun – sometimes my raw answers are hard to swallow and digest :-)

I am looking forward to raising up a new generation of Christ-followers who will honor God by honoring people around them.

Responsibility as a Citizen

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

Photo on ramapo.edu
 
 
 
Today is Election Tuesday. Christina and I went into the polling place this morning to place our votes. Then, I spent some time reflecting on the significance of my privilege to vote as a U.S. citizen.

It is hard to believe that I became a citizen of the United States when I was about 20 years old. Back then I had no idea of the importance or the value of becoming a citizen of this great country. All I knew was that I would be able to apply for various school scholarships as a U.S. citizen. But over the years, I have learned to appreciate the significance of being a citizen of the United States.

Even with the issue of voting, I did not participate in the voting process until I was in my late 20’s. I just did not see the significance of it. Therefore, it was something that did not concern me nor did it appear on my radar.

But there were two significant events that changed everything.

First, I got a bit curious and studied the history of voting. Yes, I will confess that I was not a big fan of Social Studies in Junior High School or civics in High School. But for some reason, as I was reading up on the great sacrifices that people made throughout U.S. history to provide people with the privilege to vote (voting for women, minorities, etc), it really moved me. It exposed my lack of appreciation and apathy towards the cost that was involved in this important part of the democratic process.

Secondly, God opened my eyes to the importance of having “just” laws in a society to play a powerful role in governing a nation in a God-honoring way. There are many countries where basic human rights are not given due to the rule of a few people or the government. There are places where various laws are passed that impede the spread of the Gospel. In some places, there are laws that are unfavorable for Christ-followers or even blatantly unjust. This is when it dawn upon me that if we had people who feared God and were placed in positions of influence, then it can possibly open some doors for the reality of God’s Kingdom to come alive.

I guess it is important to mention here that I am not saying that government or politics can save people or a nation. Only Jesus Christ can. But since the role of government and politics play such an important role in every society, we need to find ways to shine the light of Christ in these areas, rather than removing ourselves from this arena.

This is why in the Transformasphere Movement we are trying to find ways to get Christ-followers involved in various things related to government and politics. God has called us to bring the reality of His Kingdom to every sphere and sector of society, not as a means of salvation but ultimately, as an avenue to “prepare the way” for the Gospel to be shared.

If we are serious about transformation, then we have to consider this area of voting. Not only is it a privilege (do you remember the first elections held in Iraq) but it is a responsibility. In a self-centered consumer world where the sense of privilege and the meaning of responsibility are lost, we, as Christ-followers need to do our part.