Coffee and Jesus

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo on allposters.com
 
 
 
Recently, my wife asked me when I started drinking coffee. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I started drinking it at a very early age – at the age of 10 years old. Now, before all of you start judging my parents, let me qualify the statement.

I remember going into my parents’ store which was located in the South Side Chicago (the hood) on Saturday mornings. There were times where I was so tired that my parents would give me a concoction of: dime size amount of Folgers coffee power, massive amount of cream and a good amount of sugar. It was the best drink ever – well, at least for a 10 year old.

Every time I drank it, I was able to stay awake and attend to my duties as I helped around the store. Then I began to find myself “desiring” this sweet, light brown concoction every time I went to help out my parents at the store.

This is how it all got started.

When I told Christina, she was just in shock (shook her head in disbelief) as she heard me recount those golden years.

But it wasn’t until college where I really began to appreciate coffee. As I got weaned off the coffee with cream and sugar, I started to drink it “black” for the actual coffee taste. Then over the years, I have become somewhat of a connoisseur on coffee as my taste buds were being trained to taste the difference between a dark roast and a light roast, the varying acidity levels, and etc.

As I was reflecting on this, I realized that the early introduction of “coffee” (even though it was more like a hot sweet, cream drink) put me on a course of loving and enjoying coffee.

I couldn’t help but to make the correlation with the importance of introducing values at an early age. If the Barna statistics are true, then it is imperative that we reach the next generation at a young age.

This is why I am so committed to reaching the next generation of “world shakers and history makers” through the college ministry. The college years are a transformative life stage. As students are in a stage of discovery, they are making some important decisions. If they can make a commitment to Christ, it will literally change the course of their destiny.

Therefore, I will continue to be an evangelist for Jesus and a coffee-evangelist. I am thankful that I experienced both before the 20 years old.

One of my pastor friends (@harvestpd) forwarded me this video on coffee. I am more convinced than ever.
 
 

What is God Looking For?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 

Photo from visualphotos.com
 
 
 
I still remember the talk that I had with our associate pastor at HMCC of Ann Arbor. We were in the midst of trying to finalize a list of candidates for our leadership team, but then we went on a rabbit trail. Yes, I confess. Rabbit trails are usually instigated by yours truly, but eventually I try to bring everything back to the main thing.

In the middle of the digression, we talked about what traits to look for in a potential leader who is a growing follower of Christ. We went beyond the usual traits that we look for in a potential leader – the FAITH acronym (Faithfulness, Availability, Integrity, Teachability, Humility).

We came to the conclusion that there are a few traits which reveal more about the heart of the person than anything else. They are:
 

1) In the last 3-6 months, has this person stepped out in radical faith and demonstrated their utter trust in Christ? When we look throughout the whole Bible, we notice that God was constantly calling His people to a life of faith and trust – Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, the disciples, and Paul to name a handful. How they responded to God in obedience revealed a lot about their view of God (and about themselves). Often times, God asks us to do things that are unexplainable, unimaginable, and unreasonable. But that is the point. God wants to see if we will completely trust in Him. Too often we are not willing to surrender and sacrifice in order to step out in faith because we love ourselves more than loving God. We are crippled by fear, insecurities and selfishness. God is always lovingly opening up opportunities for us to trust in Him. He uses our family, our future, our friends and even our finances to test us. Have you stepped out in faith recently? This one trait reveals so much about a person and where they are in terms of their relationship with Christ.

 

2) Does this person boast about their weaknesses? There is something about being part of a church culture, where it is easy to boast more about our strengths than our weaknesses. I think it is part of the “success” oriented philosophy that has influenced us by the world’s standards. But the Gospel is different. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians writes, “But I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses” (2 Co 12:5, 9-10). When I see someone boast about their weaknesses, I see a person who has a good perspective about themselves and about God. I get a peek into their heart. They are humble and broken people. They know that it is not about them. They are set on glorifying God in everything that they do. They have a strong view of God’s Sovereignty. They know that apart from Christ they can do nothing. A phrase that God has been placing on my heart recently is: The more our weaknesses and shortcomings ACCUMULATE, the more it begins to ACCENTUATE God’s glory. I want God’s glory to shine through me. When was the last time you boasted about your weaknesses?

 
 
When we look at both of these traits, we will see that it shows a lot about what is going on in a person’s heart. We live in a generation where there is a lot of talk, but not enough action. To walk the talk, these two traits will stretch us and test us.

Therefore, next time you are in a situation where you are being challenged to step out in faith and trust in God, remember that it might be God’s way of raising you up for something great. Also, next time you are in a situation where you have the opportunity to share about your strengths, remember to share your weaknesses because God might use it to display His glory.

Painful Process of Transformation

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from oldpathspaved.org
 
 
 
I confess that I am one of those people that do not take things readily at face value. You can call me cynical or skeptical, but it takes a lot of cold hard facts and a good logical argument for me to believe. This has been a weakness in my character.

This is why, when it comes to the topic of transformation, I struggle to comprehend the full process of it. I don’t have to look very far to see my own shortcomings when it comes to life change. Often I feel this tension in my heart. John Newton said it well when he wrote, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.”

While I understand theologically that genuine transformation is a work that only God can do, I have wrestled a lot with the human responsibility of it.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about genuine change and transformation.

In the past, I have teetered on the extremes of God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility. Many times I have been either frustrated with God’s Sovereignty and the slowness of genuine change or fatigued by all the “trying.”

The more I think about this, the more I realize that God places various emotions in our lives (His Sovereignty) so that we can take steps to experience genuine transformation (our responsibility).

There are several emotions that will cause us to make a decision toward transformation. Sometimes we will just experience one of these emotions or we can experience a combination of them:

1) DISGUST. There are moments in our lives when we come to a point of sheer disgust. We are shocked and repulsed at where we are. We get tired of doing the same thing that brings feelings of defeat and disappointment. We get tired of being the person that we do not want to become. This emotion becomes the fuel to seek genuine transformation.

2) DREAD. Fear is a powerful emotion. It sometimes causes people to do crazy things and take drastic measures. When we begin to see how our behavior or lifestyle is going to eventually kill us – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – we become more open to change. This is when we are willing to pay whatever the price is required for genuine transformation.

3) DESPERATION. When we get desperate, we tend to look outside of ourselves. We come to the resolve that we are not smart enough or strong enough to handle the situation on our own. We get humbled. We begin to open our hearts to other possibilities and avenues for change. These are the times when we usually cry out to God for help.

4) DISAPPOINTMENT. Sometimes we need to experience heartaches in order for us to see the false sense security we had, as we placed our trust in temporary things. Disappointments bring us back to reality – the reality of a fallen and broken world. Disappointments become the fuel for better and wiser choices in the future.

5) DISSATISFACTION.
Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, philosopher and physicist who lived in the 17th century said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” When we come to the realization that we have been filling our hearts with things of this world rather than God, we begin to desire to seek true and genuine transformation.

 
 
When we experience these emotions, we begin to say to ourselves, “I’ve had it;” “I don’t want to live like this anymore;” and “enough is enough.” It becomes a powerful moment of realization for that person. It is like the “eureka” or “ah-ha” moment.

Then, there is a strong resolve that comes over that person. It is as if something clicks for them.

This is when a fire starts to burn inside of them. A desire for transformation starts to build. Then, a decision is made.

Maybe some of the emotions that you are feeling right now will become the fuel for transformation. Don’t resist God. He is sovereignly placing those things in your life so that you will turn to Him. Now, we have a responsibility to humble ourselves and surrender to Him.