How I Changed My Day

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We all have them: tough days. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, or you’ve been struggling with a sickness, or your boss seems to be on your case more these days, or you’ve hit a rough spot in a friendship or romantic relationship.  Over the past few months, Jamie and I have been having some rough times. Nothing really bad, but just a few little things that seem to add up.

But recently, we ran into this helpful blog, and this particular blog entry. In it The Backlund’s share tips and pointers for how we can live as people of hope. Hope is one of the greatest things we can have in life. Hope reminds us that we are safe and secure. Hope encourages us to keep going. Hope gives us new perspective to see things differently.

So, we decided to take the Wendy Backlund’s advice and start saying these phrases:

  • Instead of “I have to,” say “I get to,”
  • Instead of “This is hard,” say” This is easy and fun.”
  • Instead of “I don’t have enough,” say “My best is more than enough.”
  • Instead of “Ugh, I’m so tired,” say “I love moving my body.”

Managing self-talk is a key to winning the war for your mind transformed. And the transformed mind is the key to supernatural breakthrough in your life (Romans 12:2).

The same day I committed to these a few interesting things happened:

  • I was more joyful.
  • I became more cognizant of God speaking with me throughout the day.
  • My eyes felt more open and less droopy.
  • I had a clearer head (even with a small headache coming on from a potential cold).
  • I noticed an issue that I wished I could improve and thoughts came to me regarding how to change the situation.
  • I had more patience with coworkers.
  • The attitude in a meeting that sometimes can feel boring was instead full of excitement and expectation about what God wanted to do during the week.
  • I finished more tasks, and more meaningful tasks, than I typically do.

I encourage you to give it a try! For a more extensive option, check out this one: Morning Declarations. Here’s to Hope!


“You Tricked Me”

I fully expected someone to say that to me on Sunday as I remarked about what we were doing at the baptism and commissioning service. 90 people gathered on a local beach to celebrate to of our Aroman community members making the step of baptism and a third dedicating herself to five years of mission service at a YWAM base in another part of Taiwan. What an amazing event. I love being a part of celebrations like this. You see when I go to baby dedications, baptisms, commissioning services,weddings, etc. I am usually thinking about that person, all the work they’ve done or are planning to do, and perhaps even thinking about how I don’t have to do that. If I were to be honest, I’m more of a bystander when I go to those events.

But my heart was saying something else to our people on Sunday, and I believe it was in line with the heartbeat of God. A baptism, a commissioning service, a wedding are all celebrations in the context of COMMUNITY, meaning, we have A COMMON UNITY. All of the people gathered around us at the beach on Sunday were there to cheer on our friends as they got baptized and publicly acknowledged their commitments to follow Christ. But as a church, we had a commit to make as well. We can’t get off that easy.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same logic applies to a newly dedicated baby, a baptized person, someone leaving to a distant land to be a missionary, and a couple getting married. We’re here for you, or at least, we should be. We’re her to pray, to encourage, to exhort, to hold you to your commitment and to supply you with the resources you need to do it in excellence.

The next time you attend a celebration like one of these, don’t be tricked. You’re not a bystander or a mere consumer. You play a vital role in ensuring these person or people excel and fulfill everything to which they are committing. Don’t look to someone else. You’re here for such a time as this.

Grace that Requires Repentance

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As her face mask soaked up the tears that ran down her cheek, she presented her flower, took a bow, and gave a speech regarding how he had touched her life. My friend recently lost a family member and I was asked to attend the funeral. In traditional Taiwanese funerals, there’s a lot of sacrificing to and worshiping the deceased. It’s an attempt to help them pass effectively into the afterlife and get through to the best scenario possible.

But my friend didn’t do that. She has been following Jesus for a few years now. At this funeral, she had a big choice to make. In the Bible Jesus says we follow Him and leave everything else behind. But the culture outside, even her own flesh and blood family, were, in some ways, pressuring  her to do otherwise. They wanted her to bend her knee, to burn incense, and express that her family member was, in a sense, her god.

How did she handle this situation? I know this would be something incredibly difficult for me. In my heart I know that God wants me to worship him only. But my mind would be racing with the ramifications of what people might think of me or what it might mean for my future. It sounds like something many people in Scripture and throughout history have had to face. In every person’s life, and often more than once, we are asked to make a decision. Jesus said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Then, he said, “Pick up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-26). Then, he said, “Be first: be a slave” (Matthew 20:26-27). The further Jesus goes in his ministry, the more aggressively he calls us to self-less character. In other places, the Bible even says bending your knee is a big deal (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4, Philippians 2:10). When we bend our knee, we are showing our honor, respect and worship. We are saying whatever we bend to has authority over us. When my friend chose not to bend her knee, she spoke volumes to me, and to Jesus. In some ways, it may have been ok if she went through the motions of this as a way to honor her family. We often think that grace means we can get away with more. In contrast, it seems to me Jesus is saying, “Grace calls you to more than the law would have.” I was more deeply touched by her willingness to be different even when it wasn’t accepted. She operated in a transforming grace that transcended the situation she was in. When she chose not to raise the incense to her family member, she became the Aroma of Christ to God (2 Corinthians 2:15). Her entire life became a beautiful sacrifice that was both holy and pleasing to her creator and sustainer.

I sometimes think “following” means I need to do a little extra work on the weekend, or being nice to someone who bothers me a bit. I’ve never experienced anything like this. But as I watched my friend stand strong in the face of this impossible difficulty, my heart grew stronger. Her time in that funeral procession became an act of worship for her and a call to repentance and action for me. Have I truly given everything over to God? Am I willing to follow Jesus even at the expense of my personal dignity? Am I willing to speak the truth in love even when it’s not popular? Am I able to hold fast to Scripture’s truth? Will I be great? Will I be first? It means, then, that I’m to be a servant and a slave. It means nothing else matters.

To my friend: your honor on this day has multiplied. You might not feel all of the results of it until the end of time, but you have given honor and glory to God and He is well-pleased with your sacrifice. You are The Aroma of Christ. I hope all of us can have the strength you had as we face the adversities life brings us.

a task, A Person, A VISION

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That’s usually how I think about my life. I have a nice long task list. Each day I take it out (on my phone through an app called “Asana”) and think about the priorities I have. I push forward and try to finish a few things each day.

Then, there’s people. I do a lot of 1 on 1’s. And I’m in a lot of meetings. I enjoy most of the meetings I’m in, even the ones with difficult conversations, because I know that people are more important than tasks.

But most of all is the vision. I once heard a respected leader say, “No task is more important than a person. And no person is more important than the vision.” The outworking of the quote is this: you shouldn’t get your undies in a bundle if a task is screwed up. You should take steps to prevent it from happening again. You should offer support and accountability. You should hold people to the responsibilities they’ve agreed to. At the same time, if someone is consistently under-performing in an area, you have to have the courage to realize that they’re like of achievement might be costing the realization of the vision. There comes a time when leadership has to be responsible to reorganize the people so that the vision can be realized.

I like to consider myself a visionary type of person, so it’s encouraging to know that the amount of time I spend obsessing over the vision of our work and the culture we’re living out through isn’t going to waste. That being said, I recently realized that I have another step to take personally. As I’ve reviewed the last few months, I’ve realized that one person who has consistently under-performed in the coffee shop and church is me. I’m not angry. I’m not depressed. But I am more committed to the vision than I am to the title of lead pastor and coffee shop owner. It’s more important for me to see the vision of helping people smell, become and spread the Aroma being realized.

As such, I’ve decided to get to the reorganizing. Over the next few months, I’ll be transitioning my role in leadership, making space for excellence to rise up and move forward in the vision and mission of Aroma.

So, what are you going to do about it? Where is your focus? Is your head in the tasks? Can you pull back to focus on people? Are you capable of carrying a vision that transcends even a person. Are you willing to fire even yourself if it comes to that?


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I learn new words all the time. I’m living in a country that speaks arguably #1 of the 10 hardest languages in the world to learn. I often ask people to speak like they’re five when I interpret for them, because I assume I’ll at least know the majority of the words they’re using.

So today I’m throwing a new one out there: “vulnerhopability.”

You might want to ask, “Why?” Because I want to solve a pendulum-swinging problem that has plagued generations.

A few decades ago, everyone needed to be strong and present an err of perfection and ability to complete whatever task was at hand. These people believed it. They figured out that they could solve a lot of problems with hard work and determination. They had a grasp on technological and scientific advancements. The world seemed like a great place. These people knew there were problems, but wanted to focus on the good that was coming to the ignorance of the reality they were facing. They called this “hope.”

And then we started dropping atom bombs on each other and realized that maybe everything wasn’t going to be perfect. We started to take a jaded look at the world and believed the lie that we were the result of a billion-kadrillion (maybe I’ll blog on this word next) years of evolution. Without anything to look forward to, we lost our sense of significance and went deep into a darkness that caused us to lose any sense of forward motion. We got desperate and depressed. We didn’t want to be fake and pretend nothing was wrong. We called this “being vulnerable.”

Swinging to either one of these generational problems results in an ugly world. If we’re all ignorantly wishing that the world would be nice, we’re in for a rough surprise. Conversely, if all want to do is lay around an apply another layer of black lipstick, I’m afraid our addictions are only going to get worse.

The answer? “Vulnerhopeability.” We need to be vulnerable. We have made mistakes. The world isn’t perfect. There’s a real problem we’re facing. But we also need to be hopeful. We’re not cosmic accidents. We’ve been created for a destiny, which can and will shape our direction and our doings. Life can get better. But it won’t without our commitment to simultaneously remaining vulnerable and hopeful.

What problem are you facing? Be honest.
How can the situation change? Be hopeful.

One Thing

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The Book
The Song
The Sermon
The Prayer

I recently finished reading a book called One Thing, by Keller and Papasan. Essentially, the authors assert that answering well one question can change the entire focus and scope of our personal lives and careers. The one question is: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” A better summary can be found here. This book has gotten me thinking about my ONE Thing.

I have a favorite song from Bethel entitled, “You are my One Thing.”

I went on a run and listened to a sermon that talked about the importance of prayer.

I remember David’s request in Psalm 27:4. He wanted “one thing.”

It seems every thing has been pointing to one thing. Answering this question is life-changing. But there are few who are willing to do this and I’m not sure I’m one of them. I’m asking God for the courage to ask and answer these questions; to do something about them.


Why I LOVE Re-Looking New iOS Features

Be honest with me; there’s something to which you often return. You find yourself indulging in something and imagining how great it’s going to be. For me recently, it’s been the new features page of iOS 11 that’s set to launch this fall. This is a fantastic upgrade; it’s going to do a ton for my iPad. I’ll get to do more in-depth multi-tasking (which productivity gurus tell me isn’t true anyway). The files and dock functions are going to allow me to have a more unified approach to my workflow. It makes me want to leave my Macbook Pro at home more and more often. They’re even getting closer to convincing me to buy the most expensive pencil I’ve ever owned.

All of this is good. But when I found myself typing “” rather than “” to begin my actual work for the day, I had to ask myself if I have a problem.

I do indeed have a problem (other than laziness and procrastination). This problem is called “desire.” And as Lewis notes, it’s a hat tipped to a bigger something we are all acutely aware of even if merely in our subconscious: There’s more. Lewis penned this phrase:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Excuse me for being crude or overly simplistic, but this urge to scroll endlessly through announcements about keyboards and multi-tasking might be indicative of something bigger. Perhaps, it’s alluding to our other-worldly, cosmic desires. I submit that our desires tell us something about who we are and even more about who we are to become.

The key here is vision. I’ve wasted more hours than I’d like to admit on software updates. But people and products of vision point me to one key moment: we were meant for more.

The next time you’re tempted to, or look at something that draws you, ask yourself why. Consider that maybe, perhaps, your desire is actually looking for something more than pixels. You’re destined for an update from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).