It’s All in the Mindset

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


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After my trip to Asia, I have been doing a lot of thinking. Through a series of events, I began to notice that people, who struggled in trying to live for Christ, had a mindset issue rather than a behavioral issue.

This was something that I always knew, but it hit me really hard in the last three months.

Therefore, I have been on a campaign.

I have been relentlessly with the mantra, “Right thinking leads to right feelings, and right feelings lead to right actions.” Simply, I have been encouraging people to have the, “Right TFA” (yes, me and my love for acronyms).

Often, we focus so much of our attention on the behavior that we cosmetically cover up issues in our lives. This quickly turns into “sin management,” which eventually leads to frustration or apathy, and in most cases it leads to both.

I don’t know if it is specific to this generation or it has been prevalent in every generation (probably the latter), but I was shocked to see how many people made bad decisions based on their feelings. With every counseling scenario, I always come to the same conclusion – something in their mindset (thinking process) is messed up. It is either a faulty thinking about who God is or who they are. This always causes them to feel a certain way, which inevitability causes them to behave in a way that is inconsistent with the truth.

Once again, “right thinking leads to right feelings, and right feelings lead to right actions.”

No wonder the Apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Php 4:8).

Recently, John Ortberg wrote an article in Christianity Today, called, “The Growth Mindset.” It touches upon some of the things that I have been trying to communicate to people. He writes,

“A friend of mine – one of the most effective leaders I know – has produced remarkable results that span several decades at two very large organizations, and is now taking on a third one. He’s the kind of guy that you naturally want to be with. He shared with me one of the keys to his success. When he takes the reins of leadership somewhere, the first thing he will do is get rid of the people who are negative. ‘I can’t afford the energy that will get siphoned off by whiners and victims and blamers and drainers,’ he told me. So the first step he takes in building a team is creating a family of positive, visionary, excited, and basically happy people.

Another friend of mine, who has worked both inside and outside the church, says that this is easier to do when you work at a corporation than it is when you work at a church. But it did spark my thinking: what makes some people energy-bringers and others energy-drainers? Obstacles or opportunities?

Carol Dweck is a world-renowned Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset, a book about a fundamental difference in human thinking. She found that raw talent and aptitude have relatively little to do with how far children will journey in life when they become adults. Through a series of studies, she was surprised to find a certain subset of children who not only are able to tolerate failure – not even able simply to cope with it – but actually relish it. On one occasion she gave children a series of nearly impossible puzzles. Many were frustrated. Some gave up. Some labored grimly. But a few had a completely different response.

One 10-year-old boy, who was confronted with one of the nearly impossible puzzles, actually looked up with a smile on his face and said, ‘You know, I was hoping this would be informative.’ Another rubbed his hands, and cried out ‘I love a challenge!’ What’s wrong with them? Dweck found herself asking. This led her on a 20-year journey that produced a remarkable finding: how people respond to challenges and failure depends, not on their failure, but on their mindset.

Some people have a fixed mindset. They view their qualities like intelligence and ability to be carved in stone. Therefore each task becomes a referendum on their ability, which means it’s also an assessment of their worth. Failure is horrible because it means they are not made of the right stuff. Others have what Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’ This is based on the belief that your basic qualities can be grown through effort and learning. Although other people may have higher IQs or coordination than you, through experience, you can grow.

It is not simply that some people crave risks, or that some people are naturally more resilient. The key, Dweck found over and over again, is the belief that underlies your sense of identity. If you believe your qualities are carved in stone it will determine how you approach (and avoid) challenges throughout your life. If you believe that growth is possible and desirable, you will face your days with a fundamentally different set of thoughts and emotions.

All of this has caused me to reflect on faith. It struck me that this difference in mindset doesn’t simply involve our view of ourselves. Even more important is our view of the universe. If there is no God, then our ultimate fate really is “carved in stone.” Finitude, human fallibility, mortality and the law of entropy will eventually prevail. But with God, every moment becomes different. With God, the lid is off the terrarium. ‘With God,’ as Jesus said ‘all things are possible.’ It is this mindset that made Joshua and Caleb see possibilities where 10 other spies saw only giant roadblocks. It is this mindset that caused David see an opponent too big to miss, while everyone else saw one too big to hit. What’s wrong with them?

It was ultimately this understanding of how things are that allowed Jesus to go to a cross knowing that stones and death can’t block the God of the resurrection. Every day, in my life and yours, we face challenges too big for our little abilities. Without God, every day in ministry is dependent on my little store of resources, and is a declaration of my inadequacy and insignificance. But with God, it’s another story. Maybe, just maybe, God keeps throwing us in over our heads in the hopes that we will realize that our souls, like our bodies, are buoyant when his breath fills them.”

Problem of the Human Heart

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


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It has been interesting to read up on the cheating scandals of teachers from Atlanta to Philadelphia. It was reported that 178 principals in Atlanta were accused of cheating. Also, schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. are under investigation.

You would never imagine a teacher whose main purpose is to educate children would help their students cheat on a standardized test. Was I that surprised? Well, not really.

This just reaffirmed that in any profession, no matter what it is, there is always room for compromise and moral miscalculations because we are wicked to the core. Simply put, at the core of who we are, we are selfish. It is has been the problem ever since the fall of humankind.

As I gave this situation some more thought, I realized that no one is exempted.

Many people who go into teaching, go into it because they are idealistic and they want to make a difference in the world. They are willing to take on a low paying job in some of the hardest and toughest cities to bring hope to children for a better future with a good education.

But somewhere along the way, they lose sight of their purpose.

After years of teaching, it is easy to see how disappointments, disillusionments, and dissatisfaction can slowly creep into the picture. It is at this point, rather than renewing their hearts they just “settle” for the paycheck and security. This is when things get very dangerous. It is like a perfect storm waiting to happen.

The teachers’ bonus pay, the schools’ rating and even their jobs are all at stake if the students do not perform well on the tests.

In an NewsOne article, an author explains the situation in such a way to put blame on the system rather than having the teachers take responsibility.

Casey Gane-McCalla writes,

“What we should learn from the recent teaching scandals is not to demonize our teachers, especially those brave enough to work in urban schools, but rather to change the culture of stress and test-based ratings. When people believe the game is fixed, they cheat. Administrators and politicians have fixed the game with their test based environment, where are all they see of teachers and students is test numbers. Teachers cheat to help their students, their schools and themselves. Teachers have become cynical and demoralized by the challenges they face and the pressure from politicians and administrators. Can you blame them? The problem with teachers isn’t teachers cheating the system, but the system cheating them.”

While this writer makes a good observation from his experience in teaching in the New York school system in South Bronx, does this get to the core of the human problem? It is always easier to blame someone else (or something else) for our behavior. But until we learn how to take responsibility for our actions, we will never be able to do what it takes to “do the right thing.” Then we miss the opportunity to set the example for the next generation.

This is when I thought about my “profession” as a pastor.

If we, as pastors are not careful, we can easily fall into the same temptation. It would be too easy for us to lose our sense of calling and purpose. Please continue to pray for your pastors and leaders. Pray that they would serve with purpose, passion and principle.

Are We on Standby?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Vision


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One of the frustrating things that I experience on my travels is when I have to wait for a delayed flight. Sometimes I am waiting at the gate to board, but there are no signs that we are going to board soon. I have also been in situations where I am on the plane and waiting on the tarmac (the record time has been 1.5 hours so far).

The reason why these situations are frustrating for me is because I know that we are going to take off, but I just don’t know exactly when. Also, if I have an appointment that I have to make, then it makes the delay and waiting even harder.

Recently, a lot of people have been asking, “What is going on with HMCC of New York City?”

It seems like we are on standby.

Let me first tell you what we do know (try to imagine an airline agent speaking over the intercom):

1) There are various needs in NYC that we would like to meet as a church.
2) There are former HMCC-AA members who have yet to find a church home.
3) There are an increasing number of people who will be going back to NY in the future.
4) There are people who are interested in starting an HMCC church in NYC.
5) There are some people who have already been meeting together in NYC.
6) The leadership team of HMCC are praying and seeking for God’s direction.

Then, what are we waiting for? What should we do in the meantime?

1) We need to keep on praying and seeking God’s direction because we don’t want to rush things.
2) We need to keep on gathering together to establish the biblical community, which is the foundation for a church.
3) We need resources and people to help get things started.
4) We need to figure out which model of church planting (i.e. house church, traditional, a hybrid or even something completely new) we will need to go with.

With the above information, it is still leaving a lot of people confused and apprehensive, especially for the people who are currently in NYC and those who will be heading out there soon.

In particular, several specific questions came up:

• “If we are in the process of starting a church, but there is no clear target date, then what do we do about church in the meantime?”
• “Is it ok to just attend a church on Sunday and not get involved?”
• “Isn’t this contrary to what we (HMCC) believe about the importance of church and church involvement?”

My response:

• In the meantime, we will keep on meeting together in the LIFE Group format and then for Sundays attend a church where you can get fed spiritually.
• Since we have intentions of starting a church, I do not see anything wrong with attending a church on Sundays until we actually launch HMCC-NYC. Even when we were in Indonesia, before we started the international church, for a whole month and a half, we attended various churches on Sundays.
• Once again, if there was no intention of starting a church then it would be contrary to our values of church involvement; but since we have intentions of starting a church, we do not want to involve ourselves in such a way that will cause a conflict in the future.

I know that this holding pattern or standby position is not the best scenario for some people; especially for those people who need to know every detail before committing to something. All I can say to you is that we will try to give information about the church plant as soon it becomes available. It is hard to give details when even the leadership of HMCC does not have any of the details.

In fact, it is a bit frustrating for me, since I like to look ahead and strategize on how things will turn out. But God has taught me over the years that it is foolish to run ahead of God. Also, it is more fun when things are not so planned out. It teaches us how to trust in Him more.

In the midst of all that God is doing, it is exciting to know that He is bringing people who have experienced and believe in the transformation vision together. All we can say is that this is none other than the work of God; therefore we are just waiting for the time when things will “take off” – please fasten your seatbelts!

Lessons from 2011 Asia Missions Project

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Victories, Viewpoint, Visits


Photo by Ristiana Eteng
It’s been about a week since we have been back from our Asia Missions Project and my heart is still overwhelmed with all the blessings that God poured out on us. After some time of reflection, there are several things that God reaffirmed for me through this trip:

1) The power of COMMUNITY. Prior to the actual on field experience, our team shared our “Life Stories” with one another. It was a powerful way to build community because we vulnerably shared our testimonies. It gave me greater insights to the team members lives; but most of all, it gave me more compassion for each person. Then when we got to Indonesia, we shared our Life Stories with the teams from Singapore and Jakarta. It helped in bringing all of our lives together. We were amazed to hear how the power of the Gospel could transform a person’s life. As we experienced this biblical community, it enabled us to experience God’s love in a tangible way.

2) The power of the CHURCH. In the past, whenever we participated in missions, we would partner with churches that we got introduced to for the first time or with churches that we had a good relationship with; but on this trip, we partnered with HMCC-JKT, a church that we planted two years ago. This gave our missions project a difference experience. Not only was the DNA of the churches the same, but we were able to unite together instantly under the same vision and mission. I felt this strong sense of partnership with the different HMCC churches. As we worked together, I knew that we were actually building up the church in Jakarta. The partnership was very noticeable as we were able to work together with the national Indonesians who were part of HMCC-JKT. Missions should always be done in the context of the local church.

3) The power of CHRIST. We saw how the message of Jesus Christ powerfully made a difference in the lives of people that we encountered, as well as in our own lives. In the mornings we would study the Book of Ephesians together. Every morning there was something in Ephesians that reinforced the power of the Gospel through Christ’s sacrifice. Then, we would minister to the various churches through the different revival meetings and church gatherings. In every single one of the gatherings, we witnessed Jesus’ healing power come down and minister to the people. It just reminded us that we had no power on our own, but rather it was Jesus’ power flowing through us.

4) The power of CONNECTIONS. One thing we can all testify to is how God sovereignly opened up many doors for us. When we find favor with God and with people, there will always be many divine connections that are made, as well as many opportunities to share Christ. For example, we had the privilege of ministering in a Muslim village in Lampung with the blessings of the government leaders who were all Muslims. We found favor with them as we served them and that connection opened up a door for us to minister to the children of that village. It is through relational connections that God uses to spread the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

There were many seeds that were planted throughout this trip. We are excited to see some of the fruits that will come forth in the months and years to come. We are praying that what God started, He will finish it to completion (Php 1:6).

The Gospel Choir Version

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

There is something about a gospel choir that just makes a song reach a whole new level. My first time hearing a gospel choir was when I was in college. I still remember how I got goose bumps as I heard different gospel songs at the concert. After this experience, I got hooked. Now, my mp3 playlist is filled with various gospel songs.

I don’t know what it is – maybe it is the instrumentation with the Hammond organ, drums, and bass guitar or the incredible vocals; but either way, the passion in which the choir sings the songs has a powerful way of ministering to people.

This is why when I heard the gospel choir version of Chrysler’s Super Bowl Commercial, it was powerful. When people use their God-given talent, it has an awesome way of moving the spirit of a person. I am praying that many more people within the HMCC churches will be raised up to use their musical gifts to inspire people to know the True and Living God.

We are still praying for Detroit. I would love to see the restoration of Detroit, not only physically and economically, but most importantly, in a spiritual way. It is through the church, the people of God who will need to light the way – a city on a hill cannot be hidden (Mt 5:14).

Daddy & Daughter

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

It has been interesting to see the reactions of my two boys and my daughter when I came back from my 5 week missions trip. Even though Josiah and Elliot were happy to have me back, the outward expression of Karissa has been different from the boys. Maybe this is why people say that there is a usually a special connection between a dad and his daughter.

Often times I look at KiKi and feel the weight of responsibility in being her father. Not only will she know the Father’s love through the way I treat her, but she will judge her future male relationship (I am praying that it is just one!) in light of what she see in me.

This is when I realized how much I fall short of what Christ can offer to her.

When I saw this music video by Shane and Shane, it spoke to me powerfully. It portrayed the father’s heart for a daughter (and even a spiritual daughter). May the father heart of God remind us that He is the only one who can fulfill and satisfy our heart’s desires. The Perfect One.

Asia Update #7 – 8.2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories, Visits