Keep Growing and Learning

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 
Not too long ago, I realized that I have logged in more than 25,000+ hours of sermon preparation and preaching within the last 20 years. On top of that, I have probably logged in more than 15,000+ hours of counseling sessions ever since HMCC of Ann Arbor got started in 1996.

As I was doing the calculations, I had to pause for a second. It is a bit striking to realize that a big chunk of my life has been dedicated to preparing and preaching sermons.

It is easy to think that after doing ministry for some time now, a person has finally “arrived.” But in many ways, I realized that I still have a long way to go. I am thankful for people who are further in the journey than me. As I look at their lives, I continue to be inspired to remain faithful in my calling.

Also, when I look back to my younger years in the ministry, I recognize that I do not have the same level of ability to pull several all-nighters in a row. My physical body is slowly telling me to pace myself for the long marathon of life.

I don’t know.

Maybe as I am slowly getting older, some wisdom is kicking in, and now, I am learning how to do ministry more effectively and reflectively. In my younger years, a lot of what I did was out of just pure passion and adrenaline. Even though I was able to get a lot of things done, I could have done things better.

This is a good reminder for me to keep on growing and to keep on learning as I get older. The generations are constantly changing and different aspects of ministry are expanding. If I stay stagnant or too satisfied in my comfort-zone then I will slowly deteriorate and become ineffective for Christ. I want to always stay hungry.

This is why when I saw this video, it made me think about the years of ministry that I was privileged to experience. The video is a Gatorade commercial where it depicts a 23 year old Michael Jordan playing against the 39 year old Michael Jordan in a game of 1-on-1.

Oh, what it would have been like if the 23 year old Jordan had the wisdom and the experience of the 39 year old Jordan.
 
 

Aurora Borealis

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visuals

 
One of my dreams is to experience the Aurora Borealis in person, either in Alaska, Norway or Finland. There is something fascinating about these “dancing lights.” It just reminds me of God’s incredible creativity when He created the world. It just leaves you in awe.

Recently this year, on January 24th, there was a massive radiation storm which was produced from an intense solar flare that erupted from the sun. It unleashed a wave of charged particles and caused some of the the strongest solar radiation storm since 2005. This has sparked a phenomenal northern lights show.

Even though we cannot be there at this moment, we can at least see it via video. The video below was taken by Chad Blakley, who captured a view of the Aurora Borealis in Sweden. I wish I could have been there.
 

 
 
 
This next video is a compilation of various views of the extraordinary Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). It is just awesome to see all the different backgrounds and the lights bouncing around with elegance and grace. It is truly breathtaking!
 

True Test of Brokenness

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo from ransomfellowship.org
 
 
 
As some of you know, we are doing M’Cheyne’s One Year Bible Reading Plan. But many of you might not know who he is and what impact he made in history. Robert Murray M’Cheyne was born in 1813 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a pastor in the Church of Scotland starting from the young age of 22 until his death in 1843.

It is humbling to know that M’Cheyne only lived until the age of 29 due to an illness.

But within his short, yet full life, M’Cheyne became a catalyst to challenge the Church of Scotland to engage in missions to the Jews. He was also well-known for his life of prayer, as well as his life of holiness. With his love for God’s Word, M’Cheyne contributed to the Body of Christ by creating a method of reading through the Bible in one year.

Andrew A. Bonar, a friend of M’Cheyne decided to write a biography of M’Cheyne. Some of the materials came from M’Cheyne’s original manuscripts and it was titled, “The Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne.” Even to this day, this book has influenced many people in their spiritual growth.

Bonar in his book, shares something that M’Cheyne said when he was alive. M’Cheyne wrote about the importance and the advantages of having a broken heart. He writes,
 

“A natural heart is offended every day at the preaching of the Cross. Many of you, I have no doubt, hate it. The preaching of another’s righteousness – that you must have it or perish – many, I have no doubt, are often enraged at this in their hearts. Many, I doubt not, have left this church on account of it, and many more, I doubt not, will follow. All the offence of the Cross is not ceased. But a broken heart cannot be offended. Ministers cannot speak too plainly for a broken heart. A broken heart would sit for ever to hear of the righteousness without works. Many of you are offended when we preach plainly against sin. But a broken heart cannot be offended, for it hates sin worse than ministers can make it.”

 
I have always been an advocate about the offense of the Gospel. In fact, I have made it clear on many Sundays that if I don’t offend people through the preaching of the Gospel, then I have failed to really preach the Gospel.

The Gospel is offensive to the proud, arrogant and self-sufficient person.

The more we understand the Gospel, we will realize that it is a complete antithesis to our human nature. We always want to be right. We think we are better than we really are. We try very hard to earn our worth and affirmation. We don’t like to admit that we are weak.

It is interesting that M’Cheyne mentions that there have been people who have left the church because they were enraged with the preaching of the Gospel. The incredible part is that he anticipated that more people will leave due to the preaching of the Gospel.

But his delineation of a broken heart was inspiring and insightful. When a person is broken, they will have no reason to be offended. They are already in pain. They are struggling with shame and guilt. They realize that they cannot save themselves through righteous acts.

It is at this point, when Christ’s righteousness and not our works is preached, it will bring healing to us rather than offense.

This is also a good remember for us the next time we get offended, not only from the Gospel but when someone does something to us. If our hearts are broken, then we will realize that we have been saved by grace and that person needs the same grace and forgiveness.

Learning from Failure

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint

 
Recently a TEDS video was forwarded to me by one of my pastor friends, Jim Ost who pastors a church in Texas.

David Damberger, who is the founder of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) which is stationed in Calgary was the speaker. In the video, Damberger shares the experience about his previous work in Africa. But the clincher of this video was the lesson on publicly admitting failure in the development aid sector. He believed that this sector of society (the various non-profit organizations) lacks accountability, creativity and transparency.

As the old adage states, “failure is our friend.” We can learn so much from failure. We can learn things about ourselves, about God and even about the world around us. This is why failure is helpful in our growth process.

I was able put the lessons that Damberger was sharing in the context of how we do missions and community development. In our generation, there are so many people who are passionate about non-profit work and community development, which is an awesome thing; but I don’t think we have given serious consideration to the ramifications of our actions.

This is why, it is important to think through some of the ripple effects of our actions, both good and bad. Therefore, before the church or Christian workers build another water well or some kind of agricultural system, in is important to think through some long-term solutions.

It is one thing to get excited about helping people and developing a city or a country, but it is an entirely different thing when it comes to sustainability and accountability.
 
 
 

2012 HMCC Revival Meeting

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Documentation Team
 
 
 
It was a tremendous joy to host Pastor James and Faith Cha, as they spoke at our church’s congregational revival meeting this past weekend. Normally, we would have a retreat at this time, but we felt that God was calling us to have a revival meeting instead. The whole church came together to seek after God and it was a powerful time of experiencing God’s presence through worship, prayer and the preaching of the Word.

Now with several days to process everything that God was doing at the revival meeting, here are some lessons that God reminded me of through the revival experience:

1) CALLING. I was reminded of the importance of having a calling. When I heard about how God prepared both, James and Faith to go on the mission field, I realized (again) that it is God who calls and it is God who prepares us for the calling. Without a clear calling, it is easy to try to do things on our own wisdom and strength. But when the calling is strong, we know that it is God who is working in and through us. We are able to trust and wait upon God’s timing for everything. Lord, thank you for the calling that I have received to serve You, as your ambassador.

2) CONVICTION. It was amazing to hear some of the stories of how God used James and Faith on the mission field. The consistent theme and phrase that I kept on hearing was, “we fasted and prayed and then…” There were many times when they clearly heard from God and then they trusted by obeying God’s Word. When they lived with convictions and then responded in obedience, God opened up incredible doors for them. I want to continue to live with unwavering conviction on God’s Truth. Lord, give me strength to be faithful to the things that I believe in.

3) COMPROMISE. James and Faith shared many stories from their time on the mission field. One thing that stuck out for me was when they shared about many missionaries and God’s servants who compromised due to fear – whether it is from the possibility of persecution or from uncertainties in life. It is easy to live passionately when we are younger, but something happens to us as we get older. It becomes harder to live our lives with faith and trust when there are many things that tug at our hearts. This is when the hard times and struggles that we go through now are preparing us for what is to come in the future. Lord, help me to be faithful to the end, even to the point of death.

4) CONSISTENCY. The reason why the Cha’s messages were so powerful was because they lived out what they preached. It was very obvious that the things that they shared with us were things that they experienced firsthand on the mission field. When the message is consistent with the life of the messenger, then there is power. I had the privilege of spending some time with them throughout the revival meeting and every time I could feel the same passion and love for Jesus, whether they were in a public setting or a private setting. This life of consistency was a powerful witness to the work that God was doing in their lives. Lord, help me to be steadfast and to live with integrity in everything that I do.

One Desire Fast 2012

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo by HMCC Publications Team
 
 
 
We are excited to start our One Desire Fast. All the HMCC churches are coming together in Spirit and in unity to seek God’s heart. I believe that we are going to see some incredible fruits from our time of fasting.

In this fast and throughout the whole year of 2012, we are going to focus in on 3 specific goals:

1) Read through the entire Bible in 1 year
2) Pray for at least 1 person to come to know Christ
3) Pray for a future site to open – Detroit, NYC, Kuala Lumpur & Hong Kong

With God help and His leading, we believe that we will hear some great testimonies in the near future. God is passionate about His glory and as we align our hearts with His, we are going to experience some awesome things.

If you haven’t signed up for a prayer slot, please do so here (don’t forget to make sure that you sign up from your specific site).

You can check out all the various people from the different HMCC sites who have signed up so far. It is exciting to see that even though we are hundreds and thousands of miles away, we are joined together under a common vision and mission.

Throughout this week, we will have pastors and leaders from each of the HMCC sites share some of their thoughts and expectations for this One Desire Fast. Come check it out every day throughout this week.
 
 
 

Blueprint Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publications Team
 
 
We started a new series for our Access gathering this past Friday. It will be a semester-long series where we will cover some of the basics of the Old Testament and the New Testament. As the campus ministry executive team and I prayed about what to address in this season of ministry, we felt convicted that we had to help our college students have a strong biblical foundation.

After doing college ministry for many years, there have been some trends which started to disturb me. The four that stick out for me are: 1) lack of bible literacy; 2) lack of holiness; 3) lack of strong convictions; 4) lack of tenacious resolve.

While doing college ministry, it is easy to get focused on behavior modification. We assume that people are getting transformed because they exhibit all the “right” Christian behavior. But our HMCC history tells us that having all the right behavior is not the best indicator of how they will do once they graduate.

When the focus is placed too much on behavior, then we either produce spiritual Pharisees or discouraged followers of Christ. Correct behavior is always produced by correct feelings; and correct feelings are produced by correct thinking. To put it in another way, how we think affects how we feel and how we feel affects how we behave.

This is why the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind(Ro 12:2).

I believe this series, “Blueprint” will help in the process of transformation for our college students as they renew their minds with the Word of God. We are going to give them a framework that will help them in reading and understanding God’s heart through His Word. Ultimately, we can provide the treadmill and dumbbells for working out, but the person has to do the exercise to see the results.

As the 2012 is fully underway, we are expecting God to do great things as we do our part!

2012 New Year

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

 

Photo on wikipedia.org
 
 
With each and every passing year, I am constantly reminded of two things: God’s faithfulness for the past year and the realization that I am closer to my death (I know, a bit morbid, but it is reality – one day closer to seeing Jesus face-to-face). With these two things in mind, in the new year there are two things that I always try to do. First, I spend some time with Christina to come up with goals for our marriage and family. We have been doing this ever since we got married and had kids. Secondly, I come up with some personal goals that I want to achieve throughout the new year.

Here are some things that I try to keep in mind as I look back and then look ahead:

1) ASSESSMENT. It is imperative that we always take some time to assess or evaluate the past year. As the wisdom book writer said, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Pr 26:11). When we take the time to assess our lives, it helps us to rejoice in God’s goodness, as well as to spend some time in repentance over our waywardness. It is only then, we will be able to have a better perspective and picture of the future.

2) ASPIRE. Before we can dream of the future or even come up with any goals, it is helpful to spend some time in God’s Word. The dictionary defines, “aspire” as: to be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value. When we have our sights on Jesus and His Kingdom (Mt 13:44-46), then we can start dreaming some big dreams. The more we start aspiring to do great things for Jesus, the more we can start enumerating the goals that we want to achieve.

3) ALIGNMENT. Once we come up with some goals, we have to bring our lives into alignment. We have to position ourselves in such a way that we will be able to reach our goals. This might mean that we will have to reprioritize, reorganize and reevaluate some things in our lives (Heb 12:1-3). Without a clear course of action and some boundaries, we will never obtain the things that we aspired for in the beginning of the year.

4) ASK. More than human wisdom and will power, we need God’s Spirit to help us accomplish the goals. This is why we need to develop a deeper prayer life. Prayer always reveals a heart that is dependent on a great God. There will be many days when we will lose focus on our goals, but there is something powerful about prayer, which helps us to get back on track. We must pray with expectation and eagerness, believing that God will give us everything we need to do His will (Heb 13:20-21; 2 Pe 1:3).

5) ACCOUNTABILITY. A powerful way to keep focus on the goals is to find some people who will keep you accountable. When we invite people into our lives who will help us get to the finish line by reminding us and prodding us on, we will have a greater likelihood to succeed in our stated goals (Pr 27:17; Heb 10:24).

 
 
Let’s dream great dreams in 2012 and achieve extraordinary things because we have an extraordinary God who is always for us!