Archives for category: family

A number of years ago, when I responded to God’s call to full-time vocational ministry, I willingly abandoned other lines of work that would have been much more financially stable (in particular, in the fields of consulting and marketing).

At the time, being young, single, and idealistic, it wasn’t too much to sacrifice financial gain for the sake of the call. Today, as a husband and father, it would be a significantly more difficult decision. Not because I believe in serving God any less, but because there is so much more at stake.

Over the last couple of year, I’ve been serving in a church, editing part-time online, and hustling for whatever freelance design gigs I can in order to make ends meet. As ‘Ye says, I had to did what I had to did ’cause I had to get. Please don’t misunderstand: I will joyfully sacrifice my time and comfort in order to provide for my family.

However, this has not left much time for self-reflection, particularly about big-picture or long-term dreams that God has put on my heart.

I want my life to count for the Kingdom – to see the oppressed set free, the lonely set in families, and for freedom songs to be sung in Jesus’ name anywhere and everywhere. When these God-dreams slam into reality, though, they are delayed and I can feel stuck. I get the feeling many of us feel that way.

It’s not always dramatic tragedy that sidetracks us but, often, a low-grade dissatisfaction with things as they are (and an unwillingness to change course).

My friend Marko offered up this compelling insight recently:

You don’t lack the ability to make the decision; what you lack is the willingness to make the wrong decision.

Leadership in faith is seeing what is not yet, but one day — by the grace of God — will be.

Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of changing things up: These are dream-killers. Thankfully, we are not left alone in this fight:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. – 1 John 4:18

It’s time for different outcomes. And that means different approaches — both to the big-picture and the mundane, everyday business of faithfulness.

I had an insightful conversation with my daughter recently. I grew up with so much fear, and I want her to be free of that burden so she can be everything God dreams of her becoming. We were discussing failure and risk, and she said to me:

The pain of failing only lasts a little while. But the lessons you learn from it stick with you for a long time.

Here’s to not getting stuck, but driving ahead through the fear — and failure — in grace and love.

The statistics can crush us, if we let them sink in.

Every year, over 3 million people die from water-related disease. 

Every day, water-related disease claims the lives of 5,000 children under the age of 5, or roughly one death for every 15 seconds that pass.

Over 800 million people around the world do not have access to clean water.

I do not want to live in a world where kids die for lack of access to clean water.

As a follower of Christ, I firmly believe that God’s heart aches for the suffering.

It has been a dream of mine for several years to participate in a well-digging trip. This past summer, I was privileged to lead a team from our church community in partnership with Living Water International to dig a well for a community in need in Granada, Nicaragua.

I love the work and ministry of LWI. Through clean water projects, LWI shares the living water of Jesus to bring the true hope that changes everything.

On a personal note, there are very few things as satisfying as collapsing into bed at night, completely exhausted from giving it all for the Kingdom.

This Kingdom of God is near: In the hard work of digging through the mud and hauling pipes, in the laughter of speaking broken Spanish with giggling kids from the neighborhood, in newfound friendship working side-by-side with local community members.

I learned so much from Jorge, the leader of the Rivas LWI team. His patience and humor helped guide our team through a week filled with plenty of challenges. From a ministry perspective, I deeply appreciate LWI’s approach of training, equipping, and consulting with local leaders. Rather than showing up with all the answers from an outside perspective, I believe effective and God-honoring ministry is founded upon a posture of humble listening and genuine partnership.

We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with LWI. We’ll be sending a team to Guatemala this year, and another team to Nicaragua next summer. It’s a privilege and joy to be a part of God’s redemptive work in world, to share the living water of Jesus and a cup of cold water in His name to those in need.

Monsters Calling Home is a phenomenally talented group of Asian American musicians from the Los Angeles area. My family has been listening to their EP since I caught them live at UCSD for a LiNK benefit concert.

I hear echoes of Arcade Fire, Stars, Local Natives, and Beirut in MCH’s sound (which I’ve been using to try and reprogram my daughter’s proclivity towards certain kinds of awful, soul-stealing pop music. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Since U Been Gone, but some of these easy-listening barefoot acoustic guitar crooners are a bridge too far.), and yet a unique sound all their own.

The other day, as we were driving to school in the morning and singing along to the MCH track Growing Up, my daughter and I had a great conversation about faith, courage, and what it means to pursue God’s dreams for us.

From Growing Up:

I used to close my eyes to what stirred under my bed
Now they’re open wide to the monsters in my head
Instead of claws they whisper lies, sinking fear in quiet steps
So I will fight in the light till i give my final breath

My daughter asked me about who was whispering lies, was it Satan? Is Satan the enemy we have to fight? Yes, yes, the devil means to steal and destroy, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus has conquered sin and death and He intends to restore everything that is broken in this world.

We then talked about what might be whispering in our ears to distract us from living out God’s dream for the world. My daughter: Temptation? Maybe like if you’re going to give money for something important and you see a really cool shirt and want to buy it instead?

Then I asked her if she thought it would always be easy to follow God’s dreams for our lives. After a thoughtful pause, she replied, “No. It won’t be easy. It wasn’t easy for Noah. God wanted him to do something great, but it was hard work and people laughed at him. He might have been discouraged, but he did it.”

I pray that my daughter never loses the fight in her for Christ’s healing in this broken world.

She completed her third-grade science fair project recently: “Can the sun’s energy be used to purify water?” She diligently set up the experiments, took careful notes, and crafted a colorful and informative trifold board display.

But what she was most excited about was helping those affected by the world water crisis — the one billion people who don’t have access to clean water, the millions who die every year from water-related disease, and the countless children who cannot get an education because they spend so much time getting water (which is often dirty, anyways). I don’t know if she’ll become a scientist, but I’m so proud that she was excited to run this experiment in hopes of helping people.

She passed out over 100 information cards as part of her report to her schoolmates, with links to Living Water International and charity: water with ways her friends could join this fight.

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Check out this video for Growing Up, from Monsters Calling Home (and catch them on tour if they’re in your neighborhood). It’s a feat of indie-magic to make LA seem dreamy!

A Place at the Table 

During this Lenten season, our church community has been journeying through A Place at the Table, by Chris Seay.

I love the heart behind this movement: That our fasting would draw us near to God and join us to His redemptive purposes in the world.


Fasting

A few words about fasting that I shared with our church (for more, you can visit our church community’s site):

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced by followers of Christ from the beginning of the church. In fasting, we withdraw temporarily from food — a good gift from God — to remind ourselves that God Himself is our soul’s greatest hunger.

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Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lent. I’ve posted a little bit of background on Lent, along with some resources, over at our church community’s website.

Kye Chung offers these great insights:

 It’s a day that we remember that we are mortal. That we are nothing without the breath of God. We are just dust and we’re going to die. And yet, it’s a day that we remember and eagerly anticipate the resurrection of Easter, the good news that because we are in need of a Savior, Christ is risen. The ash represents mortality, the cross represents hope.

On this day, and for the next 40 days, remember your mortality and your need for God … so, that when Easter comes, you will celebrate the new life that God has given you.

The way of the cross is difficult, sometimes impossibly so. And yet, the way to life is through the cross.

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