Month: January 2018

That’s Interesting (and Important)

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We’re all going somewhere. We don’t always think about where we’re heading or what our final destination is, but we’re all heading somewhere.

In a conversation with a friend, we started talking about how the world works.  We looked around and saw lots of interesting, fun things that ended nowhere good. That’s part of the enemies plan: to entertain us out of and away from anything of lasting value. The Bible says lasting fruit comes from connection with Him. At the same time, we know that people who desperately need Jesus (all of us 🙂 aren’t aware of it. We’re constantly looking for other things and misplacing our ultimate desire for God as a desire for _______ (you can fill in the blank).

So, we devised a plan, to help people go from “interesting” to “important.” We were doing this in Chinese, so I want to give a shout out to the fun Chinese phrase we came up with: 從有趣到有意義. We decided that many times people aren’t really interested in what’s important. They settle for what’s entertaining, or what’s urgent, or what’s on their Facebook feed. We too easily settle. But what if there were things that were meaningful but started with something interesting. I see examples of this in things like Aroma’s weekly event, Coffee Talk, where students “interested” in learning English begin to discuss meaningful topics. The challenge, however, is in doing both sides with excellence. Some people want to focus all their energy on the meaningful side and end up with something that’s not interesting at all. Others like fun, but have nothing meaningful on which to focus.

I dream of a day when people with meaningful work to be done can see an increasing number of people investing in their work creating pathways from “interesting” to “important” for society. I believe it will take a number of things:

  • We need understand the meaning of important. It’s not always the most urgent. It’s not always what’s in front of us.
  • We need to stop shooting charities in the foot. Read Uncharitable or watch the author’s TedTalk for more on this matter.
  • We need to free ourselves to think creatively about how to approach the important issues.
  • We need funding models that allow interesting and important to co-exist.

Here’s to interesting and important together towards a better future!

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Culture-Context-Christ

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A while back I was challenged to think about the way I dealt with culture. I heard the challenge described in these two aspects that are to be held in tension: high context and low context. I’m not going to go in depth about how these cultures function. For that, I recommend this blog.

But one thing that did stick out was how I need to continue growing and adapting. I come from what is generally considered a low-context culture (the United States), but have been living in a high context culture (Taiwan) for nearly a decade. I’ve seen myself change in many ways over the last few years. For example, I sometimes avoid directness more than I did in college. I often find myself expecting people to read my body language and pick up on what I want, rather than telling them explicitly. In some ways, this may be good. Perhaps, I’m naturally finding ways to connect with Taiwanese.

While this may be beneficial (or potentially harmful depending on how you look at it), I want a Kingdom Culture more than I want to belong to any particular other culture. I appreciate the example we have in Jesus. He lived an “incarnational-hopeful culture,” in which he could meet us at our level and experience life with us, while preventing himself from diverging off the path of what He knew was right. Ultimately, He was able to honor people (John 4, woman at the well) regardless of culture, but also call people out when necessary (basically every time He talks to Pharisees, see John 8:44 if you need proof).

My prayer is that each of us would learn to discern the way Jesus did: connected and relevant in the cultural context while inviting into the glory of Heaven.

2018 New Year’s Hopes and Resolutions

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about some of my personal hopes and aspirations surrounding 2018. Already, we’re two weeks in and good things are happening. Here are a few of my thoughts on the year. These are not in any particular order :-).

  • 2018 has been pronounced as a year of jubilee (emancipation and restoration), or celebration. We are expecting that God’s going to do great things this year.
  • I’m excited about reading the Bible. I’ve always loved Scripture (I’m a Bible and Theology major for heaven’s sake), but there’s something special about this year. As a church family, we’re going to read through the entire Bible starting in March. And I have the privilege of leading us through a sermon series in which we learn how to understand and apply Scripture in our lives for the course of an entire year!
  • Jamie and I are reading (albeit slowly) Emotionally Healthy Leader. Growing together with Jamie is something that excites me greatly and will happen more in 2018!
  • Our church is shifting its focus to put meeting together in groups at the forefront. Our aim is to focus on discipleship through these groups and to help people grow personally (in worship, prayer, Scripture), in community (through sharing and leadership development), and on mission with God’s heart for the world (through various trainings as well as opportunities to serve and minister). Small groups will be one of the primary areas in which God meets us this year.
  • In realigning our strategy, I’m spending a lot of time crafting the model for our cafe’s and church plants. We already have a second location open. Throughout this year, we’ll begin adding various church ministries like small groups, outreaches and eventually Sunday services. There’s already a buzz of anticipation!
  • I feel that God has spoken to me personally about the importance of continuing to strengthen my coaching and mentoring relationships, both the ones in which I am coaching and the ones in which I am being coached. One amazing fruit that’s come from this already is a partnership with a professional coaching friend who’s walking me through a ten year career plan. Our first conversation helped me land on three main areas of focus for my life moving forward: coaching relationships, strategy development, and musical worship.
  • I signed up for an online course regarding worship. There’s a lot to take in, but so far, so good!
  • I’ve made a commitment to running 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) per week for 2018. That will put me over 1,000k and nearly double what I did last year. I think it’s a manageable pace and so far, so good.
  • 2018 will include another 3 month trip back to the States and one of the biggest speaking engagements of my life.
  • Our Cafe continues to make forward progress. I have the blessing of walking alongside leadership to promote healthy spiritual life and onward growth.

I’m sure there will be more. What are you looking forward to in 2018?