Month: June 2013

In it for the long haul

I’ve only been doing this for 5 years, but sometimes it feels like 500. It’s important to stay in it for the long haul. Unfortunately, in our race to do things ever-faster, we end up burning a lot of people out. The following is a brief list of encouraging words about staying in it for the long haul assembled from various sources.

  1. Driscoll’s “Call to Endure” outlines five areas to keep track of so that you can stay in it for a long time: The Call is to Endure 1) spiritually, 2) physically, 3) maritally / parentally, 4) theologically, and 5) relationally. I highly recommend this (video and audio are available) and personally go back to it about once every 6 months.
  2. Rainer’s “10 Characteristics of Leaders Who Last” shares some great insights: 1) Begin with the end in mind, 2) have a big vision, 3) take care of yourself spiritually, 4) get sleep, exercise and good food, 5) prioritize family, 6) be kind, 7) delegate, 8) don’t be discouraged, 9) keep real friends close, 10) learn to laugh

I’ve narrowed these down to a personal “to done” list, want to share them with close friends, and commit to checking on myself every quarter. DON’T GIVE UP! God loves you too much, and your life, family, work is too important!

  • Pray and Listen: I want to talk to God, but I long even more to hear from God.
  • Prioritize and Be Spontaneous: This is for the family. Make them a priority and just simply choose to be spontaneous and free in doing something crazy to bless them!
  • Write and Read: That’s why I started the blog, but I also want to learn on a variety of topics including academic, entertaining, spiritual, business-related, practical, relational, you name it.
  • Work and Rest. Learning to rest is something I want to grow in.
  • Exercise and Sleep. I need to keep these in balance.
  • Eat and Fast. I want to keep a rhythm and balance of the two.
  • Connect and Disconnect. The latter may be more difficult.

I want to be around to honor this:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children

Proverbs 13:22

Expenses You Forget To Plan

I wish I had read a blog like the one listed below before getting in too deep with my business. Most un-planned for expenses include:

  • Marketing (a brand doesn’t build itself, includes the work of making excellent customer servie and killer products a priority).
  • Taxes (in Taiwan, you have to pay taxes twice, since income tax is normally calculated into the price)
  • Health and Worker’s Comp Insurance (didn’t think about that one too much)
  • Repairs and Maintenance (major machine repairs, unexpected government mandated fireproofing, mid-stream remodeling)

The cool thing is that we’ve always been able to pay our bills. We’re grateful that God is teaching us a ton through this experience and we get to have everything provided for as we need it. Jesus says seek His Kingdom first, and he provides everything!

My belief is that a Kingdom Business can have the resources necessary to expand the kingdom! It comes in the context of developing your relationship with the Lord and learning to hear from him. As Bill Johnson says,

“Sometimes, He gives you a tree when you ask for it. Sometimes, He gives you the seed.”

idea via: Expenses You Don’t Think of When Starting a Business | Software by Rob.

Money

Lessons from Jesus Changing Water Into Wine (中文版)

We’re going through the Gospel of John at the Aroma this spring, summer and possibly fall.  I was asked by a colleague of mine for a copy of the sermon I preached on John 2:1-12 (link to visual Bible).  Unfortunately, I didn’t make an audio recording of the sermon.  But, here’s the next best thing.

These are some notes* copy-pasted:

Introduction reminder: The theme of the Gospel of John is that Jesus manifests himself and ministers to his disciples.

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days. (John 2:1-12 ESV)

  • Things we can learn from the miracle where Jesus changes water into wine
    • Prayer changes history
    • Miracles are done at the hands of those who are obedient
    • Jesus has power over creation, chemical, DNA power… Testimony
    • Holding the good wine for later, our relationship with God just gets better And better
    • The purpose of miracles: reveal his glory, what else? See when heaven invades earth
  • It’s important to remember these as we go through the book of john. Jesus is revealing himself and its an invitation for us to know him in that way.

*For more information on how I prepare sermons, see this post.

從耶穌把水變成酒的故事裡我學會…

馨香堂在今年春天到秋天之際,都在講約翰福音,而有個同事想要我在講約翰福音(第二章1到12節)時的錄音。可惜的是,那時沒錄音,但幸好我還留著那時的筆記。

這是那時筆記的內容:

約翰福音主要是在講耶穌顯明祂自己和如何教導祂的門徒。

第三日,在加利利的迦拿有娶親的筳席,耶穌的母親在那裏。耶穌和他的問徒也被請去赴席。酒用盡了,耶穌的母親對他說:「他們沒有酒了。」耶穌說:「母親,我與你有甚麼相干?我的時後還沒有到。」他母親對用人說:「他告訴你們甚麼,你們就做甚麼。照猶太人潔淨的規矩,有六口石缸擺在那裏,每口可以盛兩三桶水。耶穌對用人說:「把缸倒滿了水。」他們就倒滿了,直到缸口。耶穌又說:「現在可以舀出來,送給管筳席的。」他們就送了去。管筳席的嘗了那水變的酒,並不知道是那裏來的,只有舀水的用人知道。管筳席的便叫新郎來,對他說:「人都是先擺上好酒,等客喝足了,才是擺上次的,你倒把好酒留到如今!」 這是耶穌所行的頭一件神蹟,是在加利利的迦拿行的,照出他的榮耀來;他的門徒就信他了。這事以後,耶穌與他的母親、弟兄,和門徒都下迦百農去,在那裏住了不多幾日。

我們可以從耶穌把水變成酒的神蹟學到

  • 禱告改變了歷史

  • 神蹟是藉由服從所顯現出來

  • 從見證使我們了解到耶穌的力量是凌駕於萬物之上

  • 我們與耶穌之間的關係就像美酒一樣,越陳越香

  • 神蹟的用意是為了要顯現祂的榮耀,除此之外,也讓我們端看“當神介入時” ,神的大能!

當你們在讀約翰福音的時後,我希望你們別忘了這幾點,以及耶穌在顯明祂自己的同時,也在邀請你多去了解祂。

A Process to Creating Sermons

I’m still pretty fresh on the scene of sermon creation, but my goal is to take the passion that God has given me for His Word and His Spirit and combine them. I feel I’ve been pretty heavily influenced by the likes of Steve O’Dell, Mark Driscoll and Bill Johnson, but I don’t do things quite the same.

Here’s a list of preparation steps for a sermon or series

  • Pray. Make sure that I know I’m going God’s direction. It’s here that I’m asking the Holy Spirit to lead me.
  • Read. Read the passage for a while, noting things God brings to mind. These things could be things that pop out at me within the text, other passages that relate, quotes I’ve heard, or topics from other pastors.
  • Research. This is where I open as many tabs as possible on my computer. I do some concordance searching, get into Greek texts and commentaries, search topics in pastor and church forums online, etc. I gather context for what God’s people are saying and experience in regard to this passage. This is often where ideas for illustrations and testimonies come out.
  • Outline. I write a brief outline of the points I want to get across.
  • Write out. I like to write things out into block form. I don’t read my sermons like Wesley and Edwards likely did, but I find that writing them out helps me to organize my thoughts better, and every once in a while one of those stellar quotes comes rolling off the fingers as I type.
  • Condense. This is necessary for taking out all the junk I just spewed out in the previous step. It takes time to refine the message.
  • Create. Organizing everything into a PowerPoint (I use Keynote) helps me condense another time and gets another tool for communication. It’s also been requested by people in the congregation who take feverous notes and share them with coworkers and family members throughout the week.
  • Check. I try to get done in time to have Jamie check it. Most good sermon points happen at this critical stage.
  • Review and Pray. I like to spend the last hour before I preach just going over everything and praying, asking God to prepare me as well as the people who are hearing.

At any point in this process I’m looking for a few things (Thanks, Duane Mabee)

  1. What: One sentence that sums up everything I’m going to say
  2. So What: Answer this question for each person: “Why should I care? How does this effect me?”
  3. Now What: If it’s simple and persuasive to remember, and applies to the people you are engaging with, there should be a clear call to action, or tip for the week, or something tangible we can all take with us.

Is there anything I’m missing? What do you do differently? What’s your routine?

Investing In Our Families

What’s the Best Thing You Did for Your Kids? – Videos – The Gospel Coalition.

It’s important as dads that we learn to invest time in our families, especially our kids. They need us to be role models of what it means to follow Christ.

In this video, three pastors discuss things they’ve done with their families to invest in them.  My top three from the video are:

  1. Worship together (keep it simple: read, memorize, pray, sing)
  2. Eat meals together
  3. Go on dates together.

When I was growing up with my dad, I remember

  • going on trips in the car to places
  • sorting through Sunday ads
  • that one time when we built a shed together for some friends (and probably some extra money since we didn’t have much) and worked so hard on the last day to get the project done even though the mosquitos were eating us up.
  • that one time when you put that yellow powder into EVERYTHING you cooked until it stained all our plates yellow
  • visiting people in the nursing home
  • ordering taco bell
  • shopping at walmart
  • no matter how late I got home, washing and drying the dishes together
  • the first time he let me preach in front of church
  • hearing him speak highly of me in front of my face and behind my back (others told me, I don’t have superhuman powers)

Dad’s are so important!  All of these things, though many of them seem trivial are helping me to put my life into perspective.  It was really about these moments and growing little by little until I became the person I am today.

I’m not sure what traditionals we’ll come up with as a family in the coming weeks, months, and years, but I know they’ll be good. I love you, Enoch.