Austin Update – 10.2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Visits

 
In the last 3 years, I have been to Austin many times. It is always a joy to come down to Texas to 80 degree weather when it is in the 40’s in Ann Arbor. But more than the weather, it is a privilege to come to Austin and spend some time with Pastor Ben and his family, as well as with the HMCC of Austin family.

This was a special retreat and as I have mentioned to the HMCC-AUS family, “This was a mile-marker experience in our spiritual journey with Christ.” It is always humbling to know that God loves His people and His Church more than we can ever love it with our finite love. This is why I am constantly reminded of the importance of looking to Him to build up His Church (Mt 16:18).

There was definitely a new vibe in HMCC-AUS. They got some awesome freshmen who are excited for the things of God. They also raised up new leaders and servants who really demonstrated God’s heart, as they served at this retreat. They even expanded in their worship team.

God is moving down in Austin. One thing that really blessed me was that the church came together to fast and pray for 21 days. As soon as we started to worship and as soon as I opened my mouth to preach, God was already moving. Everything flowed so easily, which was a good reminder that preparation really does make a difference (Ex 19:10-19).

I am just thankful and humbled that I got the privilege of witnessing God’s power with front row seats!
 
 

My Recent Reflections 10.2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo on fotothing.com
 
 
 
“Stay Humble. Stay Hungry. Stay Honorable.” Recently, as I was driving home after one of the pre-retreat prayers gatherings, I felt like God dropped this phrase in my heart. It wasn’t anything dramatic, but it was something that pierced my heart and hit me in a profound way. In fact, this phrase is something I would love to continue to live by as long as I live. The more I think about this phrase, it describes a person who is passionately and purposefully pursuing their God-given destiny. This has been my prayer in the last few days.

Stay Humble. It is easy to be humble when you first start off in the ministry. Everything is new. There are fears due to various uncertainties; and you are just learning how to do ministry. This makes you more dependent on God, but after doing ministry for awhile, it is easy to get proud; especially, when things are going well. We forget that it was God who enabled us to do what we do. It is easy to forget where we came from and we start to think that we have certain rights or privileges. This was the warning that God gave to the Israelites before they entered into the Promise Land. God said, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day… then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Dt 8:10-11, 14, 17-18). As a person becomes more “successful” in the eyes of the world, it is more the reason to stay humble and never to forget the One who gave the blessings.

Stay Hungry. The big challenge for many people is to stay hungry for God as we get older. There are so many things that vie for our attention and devotion. It only gets harder as we get older. There are various responsibilities and different challenges that come our way. It is too easy and “convenient” to dismiss a lot of convictions that we had when we were younger. We use the rationale of – “Oh, that was when I was younger and naïve!” “I was more idealistic back then, but now I am more grounded and look at life in a different way.” “That was just a unique time in my life, but now I am in a different stage of life.” We fall into the mindset that says, “that was then, this is now.” But God was convicting me that my standard for spiritual hunger needs to be at the level that I had when I was younger. Things were so pure back then. A lot of the reasons why I did what I did were simply because I loved Him and I wanted to love people. This is the heart that I need EVERY day, EVERY moment of my life. When Jesus was asked which of the commandments were the greatest, He said, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Lk 10:27). I want to stay hungry.

Stay Honorable. Honor is a virtue that has been lost in our generation. But there is something about honor that inspires people. It produces trust and it gives credibility to your words and to who you are. The American Heritage Dictionary defines, “honor” as, “principled uprightness of character; personal integrity.” The longer we are in ministry, the easier it is to start thinking that certain rules don’t apply to us. We start to believe that we are better than other people or we have the mentality that says, “We have arrived and we deserve things.” Personal integrity and principled uprightness of character take a long time to develop, but you can lose it in a single moment. This is the scary part of trying to live a life of honor. A whole lifetime of investment can be lost instantly. Therefore, guarding my honor and protecting myself from destroyers of my personal integrity is a must. This is where accountability comes in and a high dosage of reality checks is very helpful. There is a huge leadership gap in our generation and the world is longing for some good examples. But one thing we cannot forget is that integrity is more than just the external behaviors. It is the heart that God constantly looks at. This is what God told the prophet Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sa 16:7).

Stay humble. Stay hungry. Stay honorable.

Epic College Retreat 2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from flickr.com
 
 
 
It is hard to believe that HMCC in Ann Arbor has had a retreat every year in the last 15 years. After several years of growth, we started to have a retreat just for the college students. As I reflect back on the various retreats we have had in our church’s history, all I can conclude is that God has been faithful in transforming lives.

It is at these retreats where we have seen people give their lives to Christ for the first time. It is always encouraging to hear how the Holy Spirit moved in the person’s heart during the worship time or how God spoke to them through the Word to convict them of their need for Jesus. It is at these retreats where we have seen people make some life-altering decisions. It is at these retreats where we have see people experience freedom and healing for the first time.

These are good reminders that it is truly the work of God that can change a person’s heart.

As we embark on another college retreat, it is my hope and prayer that God will meet us in a powerful way. The theme for this year’s retreat is, “Epic.”

We decided to use this theme because the journey of following Christ is really an epic journey. It has its highs and lows, its challenges and victories, its joys and pain, but at the end, we know that it is a journey that we all long to endeavor in our lifetime.

For many of these college students, they are just starting their epic journey with God. I am excited that we, as a community of faith will have the privilege of pointing people towards their God-given path. I cannot wait to hear the great testimonies that will come forth from this three day journey at Gull Lake Retreat Center.

May the epic journey begin.

Abortion and the Holocaust

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from greaterthings.com
 
 
 
Abortion has been a topic that many Christ-followers have remained silent on over the years. The cultural milieu has made it difficult for pro-life proponents to speak up in public against this atrocity. Also, I think one major contributing factor for the silence is that there are a lot of Christ-followers who have had an abortion. If you then add to this, a culture of shame and a lack of redemptive perspective on life, it is easy to see why the topic of abortion is rarely brought up or talked about in the Church.

This causes a lot of people to remain trapped in their guilt, shame, regret and pain, instead of experiencing forgiveness and freedom.

The discussion on abortion was highlighted recently when Steve Jobs passed away. As many of you know, he was given to adoption rather than being aborted. People have been asking, “What if Jobs’ mother aborted him instead of bringing him to full term and then giving him away for adoption?” Yup, we would have lost a genius and an incredible innovator.

Can you imagine all the millions of geniuses and innovators that we have lost since 1973 due to abortion?

It is hard to describe in words.

Many Christ-followers would say that abortion is wrong, but very few can really argue their conviction with wisdom and with a winsome apporach.

Ray Comfort is an evangelist and a staunch opponent of abortion. He is definitely more confrontational in his approach, but I was impressed with his arguments against abortion. Some say that Comfort is a bit over-the-top, but I would have to say that his approach is causing a lot of people to re-think about their stance on abortion. His analogy with the Holocaust and abortion might be a bit insensitive, but there are definitely some principled similarities that it is hard to ignore.

He has produced a documentary called, “180.” The part that gripped me is the lack of knowledge that people had about Adolf Hilter. As the old adage goes, “those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.”

Another thing that spoke to me was when the people in the video were exposed for their inconsistency. In their shock, they only had two choices – either they conceded to their duplicity and became open to change their views or they became proud and stubbornly held on to their foolishness.

May we speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This is part of being an advocate and living a life of justice. It is my hope that people will be able to see the ultimate Advocate who defends the defenseless.

Check out the video.
 
 

Reflecting Back on 15 Years

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories

 
We had a wonderful time at the 15th Anniversary Celebration. It was beautiful to see how God has faithfully led us, as a church for the past 15 years. God was not only faithful, but He has been writing an incredible story of transformation. There have been so many people who came to Christ for the first time in our church. There have been numerous people who have experienced true freedom through the power of the Gospel. There have been people who were trained as Kingdom workers, who are now in various parts of the world making a difference for Jesus Christ.

All I can say is that we serve a mighty God and it is all about Him.

When I saw the 15th year video, I couldn’t help but to get misty-eyed as flood of memories went through my mind. It is hard to believe that God has given us the privilege of serving Him here in HMCC-AA for all these years.

Through it all, it has always been about Christ. It is His fame that we want to continue to proclaim to the nations. It is His story that God is writing and we are just the minor characters in this epic journey. The best is yet to come!

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Ps 115:1).

 
 
This is a recap of some of the great things God has done in the last 15 years, in and through our church.
 
 

Celebrating 15 Years of God’s Faithfulness

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
It is hard to believe that 15 years ago Christina and I moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan to start a church on the University of Michigan campus. In 1996, we just got married and stepped out in faith to live out the dream of being a 1st century church in the 21st century. We had a passion to see lost people experience transformation through the Gospel message, to see people discipled and then to see people trained to transform the world. It was an audacious dream, but we knew God was calling us to this endeavor. With God, all things are possible!

Now, after 15 years, we have seen many people come to know Christ for the 1st time in HMCC. We have seen many people experience freedom through God’s grace. We have seen many people who are now placed in different parts of the world doing some incredible things for God’s Kingdom.

It is humbling to think that God has given us the privilege of experiencing His transformative power for the last 15 years; and for some reason, it feels as if the best is still yet to come. We are amazed and overcome with gratitude as we see the faithfulness of God.

This is why our 15th Anniversary Celebration is going to be filled with testimonies of God’s work of transformation. It is going to be all about Him and His glory. We are going to also celebrate the huge wins that God has provided for us more recently in the last 5 years.

God’s Word is always true: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (Jn 12:24-26).

In God’s economy, nothing is ever lost or wasted. Every investment for God will bear fruit as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

It is going to be a packed house. Remember to come early and grab a good seat.

Do I Need to Grow Up?

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from pixgood.com
 
 
 
Clayton and Charie King wrote a book called, “12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry.” In this book they give a basic list of things (i.e. attitudes, behaviors, reactions, etc) to help determine the level of maturity when it comes to emotional, spiritual, social and financial health.

They encourage the reader to look at the list of questions as “road signs” or markers in order to help us to see where we are when it comes to maturity. This is just one indication that a person is ready to step into the next stage of life.

After going over the list, it can be easy to be discouraged rather than taking the appropriate steps to grow into maturity. Whether it is getting a mentor or getting a disciple, it is critical that we are proactive in taking responsibility for our maturity. God will always do His part, but we have to make sure that we do our part.

In Relevant Magazine, the Kings share 14 markers to look for when it comes to maturity:

1) You are over 30 years old and still live with your parents. With the exceptions of caring for aging or sick family members or the sudden loss of a job, by your 30s, unless there is a physical or mental limitation, you should be self-sufficient enough to leave the nest.

2) You have never had a job of any kind for more than six months. If you have never worked, you need a job. Any job will do. Just start somewhere. You need the experience. If you’ve had numerous jobs over the years and none of them have lasted very long, it may be a sign that you are lazy or easily bored or have a problem being told what to do by a boss.

3) You are unable to pay your basic bills each month.
Without assistance from family members or friends, you simply could not make it financially. This includes car insurance, rent, groceries, power bill and basic medical expenses. If you can’t pay your basic bills, you will cause a train wreck later on.

4) As a general rule, you lack self-control in your life. Whether it’s your spending habits, how much you eat, the amount of time you spend watching TV or your constant obsession with being online (checking email, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube), these are signs of immaturity, and are a crucial red flag that points to an inability to control your desires.

5) Your relationships look more like a roller coaster than a marathon. You are unable to develop long-term relationships with the opposite sex. You’ve never learned how to push through problems, boredom or conflict, and your default mechanism is to break it off and start a new one. Your past is filled with failure in the area of commitment.

6) You always play the victim.
You’re always secretly trying to uncover a conspiracy by your peers to exclude you from social outings, parties, get-togethers or group dates. It’s immature to think the cosmic forces of nature and love have combined their powers to hurt you. None of us are that important in the grand scheme of things.

7) You tend to speak negatively of other people. Whether in one-on-one conversations or in large groups, your habit is to bash or attack someone who is not present to defend themselves. Immature people say things about people behind their backs (or online) that they would never dream of saying to their faces.

8) You are plagued by jealousy.
Little children get upset on the playground when they see their best friend playing with or talking to another child. Grown-ups get past this stage … at least they should. Are you consistently jealous of other people’s possessions, salaries, houses, cars, friends, physical appearance or family? Can you celebrate the blessings of God in others’ lives? Or does God’s goodness to others stir up envy inside your heart toward them?

9) You have trouble finishing. My two sons are notorious for starting little projects around the house, getting bored and then abandoning them for us to dean up. They don’t know how to finish things yet because they’re not even 10 years old. Are you known for beginning things all gung-ho with great passion, but you consistently fizzle out and never see it through? Grown-ups finish what they start.

10) You are crippled by debt.
The most practical area of your life to examine is your finances. If you owe tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards, student loans, your car and so on, then your problem is not your debt. It’s immaturity. You haven’t yet learned how to live within your means.

11) You can’t say no. If you are the guy or the girl who is always taking care of others, bailing your friends out, staying up til 2 a.m. on the phone trying to talk them out of another crisis, then you will have a rude awakening when your own life expects you to give your undivided attention.

12) You fall in love too fast.
How many times have you told someone that you were “in love” with them since you turned 18? This may be an indication that you need to mature emotionally. Falling in love after every first date shows you haven’t really moved very far toward emotional maturity. It also guarantees you will get hurt as often as you fall in love, leaving your heart wounded for years to come.

13) Your relationships are too physical. If you have a track record of messing around and messing up with just about everyone you’ve ever liked or dated, this is bad news. When you start out basing a relationship on making out, kissing or fooling around physically, you teach yourself to ignore the other person, their feelings and the self-control that is essential in a godly marriage. Adults draw the line and stand back. Children run ahead without caution and suffer for it.

14) You have a problem with authority. Children hate being told what to do, regardless of their inability to be responsible for themselves. Are you like that? Do you tend to rebel against all forms of authority in your life? Do you balk at being told what to do by the government, the IRS, even a traffic policeman? Grown-ups understand that submission to authority is in their best interest, and they are willing to submit to God first and then to one another. Immature kids rebel.

 
 
May this list EXPOSE, ENLIGHTEN and ENCOURAGE us. Maturity is often times a painful process; but this is when we have to remember that while Jesus loves us just the way we are, He loves us too much to leave us where we are. Let’s take the steps to mature.

Think Different

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 
The world was never transformed by people who followed the crowd or went with the status quo. The world has been shaped (and will probably always be shaped) by people who think differently.

For some reason, they listen to a different drum beat.

This is the reason why the early church that we see in the Book of Acts, transformed the world. They thought differently. They acted differently. More or less, they listened not only to a different drum beat, but they listened to a different drummer.

Unless Christ-followers are willing to think differently and do things differently, we will never make an impact in the world.

I have been challenging people in our church with this thought: “In the last 6 to 12 months, if someone has not called you ‘crazy’ or ‘insane,’ then you are probably not living the radical life that Christ is calling you to live.”

Why do we always settle for the status quo or things that are comfortable or safe?

Christ has called us to a life that is different. A life that is full of adventure that requires faith and trust in the One that can lead us. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience this kind of life.

But in order to have this kind of life, Christ bids us to come and die, so that we might truly live (Mk 8:34-35).

One of my favorite commercials by Apple is the one where they show film footage of famous people who literally transformed the world. In the background a voice says,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

 
What will the world say about us, as Christ-followers?
 
 

Asia Trip Update #2 – 10.2.11

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Visits

 
It was an incredible time in Singapore. There were times of encouragement, equipping, empowerment, and exaltation. The baptism went well and the 1st Anniversary was a display of God’s Faithfulness. Humbled. Amazed.

I am now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My two days here will be filled with meetings with alumni, prayer walking, listening, dreaming, and discerning. Keep me in your prayers.