Family Core Values

We recently develop our Family Core Values.  These are the things we want our family culture to be, and what we want each family member to experience in our daily family life.

I wanted to post our core values to hopefully inspire you to do the same with your family,
or even just for your own list of personal core values.   We painted them onto a canvas that is now hanging in our living room, in plain sight of our daily activities as a family as a constant reminder of how we expect each other and ourselves to behave.

  • We speak the truth in love
  • We honor and build up one another
  • We laugh and have fun
  • We serve one another with joy
  • We say I’m sorry and I love you often
  • We are intentional about gratitude
  • We value both feelings and process

As we’ve entered in a new season, God has given us the grace as a family to draw closer to each other and to create the culture we want to see our family live in.  God is so interested in our families and in the process we go through to become what He wants us to be.

Tagged ,

Created to be

Who are you?  Who are you?
The question that was long before and will remain long after your life is no more, and yet the answer that so many seek can simply be found inside of you.

It’s not just a myth, or some made up fairytale of false appearance, or a cruel longing never meant to be satisfied

No, it is the reality that is more real, more true, more available, more liveable than the air you breathe.

You are beauty, purity, power, and freedom
You are loved by a God with such an everlasting love, a love that is so fierce it consumes all things.
And it is consuming your heart now as you awaken to the passion of One who has all things, yet would so quickly, so inexplicably, so unreservedly lay it all down to woo you to himself, just for the chance that you could know the love.

There is One who is pulling out your beauty deep inside,
Getting rid of all desire to strive,
For in Him you are fully alive,
With nothing to hide.

You are the bride worth fighting for,
From the beginning of all days there’s nothing He’s wanted more.

I don’t know what you’re looking toward,
But everyday with you is the joy of His reward,
It’s what we men are cheering you on for,
To be fully known by our heavenly Lord.

So we your fathers and brothers implore you,
This is your Season to Soar,
To move past the Shore
Of impossibilities,
Out far Over the Waters of doubt,

And to catch a glimpse of the God who long looked over the sea of the impossible to impregnate you with a new thing.

Will you trust Him?

This is who you are,
This is who you are created to be.

Tagged

The journey IS the destination

I graduated college in the spring of 1997 with bright eyes and a CAN-DO attitude to change the world.  I started working for a well known consulting firm and from that point on, through most of my career, the mantra was always, “The end justifies the means.”

The finished product… the final numbers … the end results … these were the things that my performance was judged by.  As I moved from place to place, it was a lot of the same thing: It doesn’t matter how, just get the results that are wanted.

I realized that even as Christians, we let this influence how we think and act as we do the work of the gospel.  I myself have justified unfruitful behavior for the bigger picture goal.  I mean, it’s okay to sometimes bend the rules, or just be slightly unfair, or judging in order to protect the end goal, right?

NO!

Let me say it again just to be absolutely clear:  NO!

In my personal journey, when the going got hard, it was easy to fix my eyes on a target in the future and then just try to survive to get there.  When we were trying to sell the house, pack, get ready for school on the West Coast… each time I was just in survival mode… trying to hit each checkpoint…

It’s all good if I can get to each check point right?   I mean, God wants us on the West Coast so I have to just do whatever I can to get there… right?   Me obeying God starts with me doing everything I can to get to the goal that God has set before me, right?

I quickly learned that survival mode for me meant death… a life that was void of joy, peace and love.  Probably not a fun person to be around, for my wife or kids especially!  Even in a season of transition upon transition, if I heard myself saying, “just get to the next checkpoint” I realized I was putting myself in a situation to just focus on the end goal, and not how I was getting there.

For me, it’s not just getting there, it’s how you get there.  Accomplishing the goal shows grit and determination, but getting there well shows character and integrity.  No, I want to get there well, learning through the process, displaying character and integrity.  The life I lead is day by day.  I can not simply erase who I am during the in-between moments of life goals.  Not in the eye of God and not in the eyes of those around me.  Will my moments of triumph erase any hurt and pain I cause the ones I love, even if I do it for their benefit?

I know now that Jesus is more interested in how I display righteousness, kindness, grace, patience, peace, joy, love and faithfulness in every situation, no matter how small or how big.  That having to accomplish a big task (even if it’s for God) doesn’t give me any right to turn off who I am… and even if I could turn on or off good character, it would cause me to seriously wonder who the real me was!

The Bible asks in James if fresh and salt water can flow from the same spring?  How I live in the moment of day to day, in the little tasks, IS the place of accomplishment.  That is where the ones closest to me see the real me, and where I can allow the fullness of God to be displayed in my life.

The best thing is: the greatest results happen when you priority the process.

Tagged , , , ,

3 Keys to a good journey

I’ve learned a thing or two about the journey… I’ve been going through a season where all you are looking for is the finish line, the end goal, the ‘hurry up and get me there already’ place.  It’s easy to loose sight of the importance of the manner in which we arrive.  Not everybody believes that the process is just as important as the destination.  I’m not here to change your mind… but I do want to share some tips for those of you that think the same as I do.  I believe that the manner in which we conduct our business during our journey speaks more to the content of who we are, then the simple fact of where we end up.  How we got there more defines who we really are then where we got to.

Here are the 3 things I’m learning to apply to my own journey …

  1. Stay humble.  There’s nothing like a wife to keep you in check.  There would be days when I’d come home, the man of the house, after a hard days work of earning the bacon.  I’ll come in all puffed full of pride, with my manly beard (hey, for an asian), hair full of wind, come home to my bride, waltz over to her, grab her in my arms, lean in for a kiss… only to hear her say, “you stink”.  “All of this…” she’ll say.  And then she’ll waive her hand around my entire face… meaning all of my face, including my hair.. so pretty  much everything above my shoulders… “don’t even think about kissing me until you take care of that“.  I’m like.. what is that?  And she’ll waive to my entire face again and say, ‘that’.Stay humble…. Don’t judge, don’t think you’re better than what you are. The only way to stay teachable and to continue to grow is to stay humble.  You’ll miss the mysteries of God that come forth in the humble, child-like things if we think we’re above those things.
  2.  Serve those around you.  Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. Do you know how dirty their feet were?  They would walk on roads with dust, dirt and camel dung.I love my oldest daughter. We were walking in NYC and she wasn’t paying attention and I hear her say, “ewww,  Daddy I stepped in Chocolate”.  She reaches down to the bottom of her shoes and pulls the substance off.  I get closer and tell her, “babe, that’s NOT chocolate”.  She’s like, “well, what is it?”.  I’m like… what is it?  SERIOUSLY?  What is brown, looks like little chocolate pellets, but is on the sidewalk where lots of homeless people roam?   And I do what any other father would do, I ran away!

    Jesus set the ultimate example for us all.  He lowered himself, served His own disciples by washing their dirty, stinky, dung covered feet.

    I honestly believe we are called to disciple nations by rising to the high places of authority in all spheres of influence.  But we must also pay attention to how Jesus demonstrated the Kingdom model of living: by serving one another.  Serving not only allows us to demonstrate love, it helps in keeping us HUMBLE.  Remember that word?

  3. Serve with a Joyful heart. If it was me washing the disciples feet, I would probably be thinking these thoughts:  Simon Peter, you’re going to deny me and you come in here with YOUR stinky feet?  Thomas, you doubter, how could you not see that camel poop?  Judas, you are going to deny me… how dare you even…And yet Jesus was able to serve them because he had humility & honor in his heart.  He saw his disciples, in that moment, through the Father’s heart.  All the good…all the destiny, all the love.  And He sees us for who we are created to be, not what we are not.  He sees our dreams, our destiny, not our failures.

    We must also peer into this world through the eyes of the Father.  See every situation through His hope filled, loving eyes, so we can serve those around us in joy and love.

 

I am by no means any expert … I am simply stumbling my way through my own journey, desperate for God’s mercy and grace, soaking in His love, and steadied by His faithfulness. I hope you can press into your journey … I’ll see you on the way!

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

What is the substance of my faith?

I believe the desire of Christian believers to experience the impossible comes from the reality of being made in the image of a God of the impossible. It is merely our fears that replace the drive to live in a place of trusting God to actual catch us when we take a leap of faith.

If I could sum up the level of my faith the past years of my Christian life, it would be in this picture:

Me in the driver’s seat, in full control, with Jesus in the back, maybe sometimes in the front. He’s not pushy, trying to take over, but He has asked multiple times if He can drive so I can relax. So I can relax??? Probably because I’m white knuckled, lost, stressed and trying to do everything at once. You know, drive, manage the car, look up directions, figure out where to go, what are the speed limits… I’ve missed exits, gone in circles…

‘Sure Jesus, I’ll let you drive, let me just get us past this obstacle… I’m a pretty good driver you know…’ Which really equates to 2 things:
1) I like being in control of my life
2) I don’t want to be taken on a path that I’m not familiar with

There have been many recent events where I was at the cross-road of this decision. Kind of like me and Jesus are about to go on a trip and we’re walking out to the car. I have the keys in my hand and Jesus asks, ‘Can I drive?’ You know… one of those awkward moments where a second feels like an eternity and your body language betrays you. Your hands unknowingly clench the keys and you frantically try to come up with some excuse as to why you should drive instead of Jesus…

‘Jesus, do you know the way?’ Okay, really dumb question… I mean, He is God!
‘Jesus, I LIKE driving’ Somewhat true, but saying a truth to derail a conflict is manipulation… and Jesus can see through it anyway.  Okay, 0 for 2, not looking good.
‘Jesus, I WANT to serve YOU’  Again, using a noble statement to cover up a fear is just sad! (even though I probably do this a lot!)

I might as well just say it, ‘JESUS, I DON’T TRUST YOU’.

ouch…

But wait, is it really that extreme?  I mean, I trust God.. I believe in Him.  After all, I’ve called Him my Lord and Savior.  I believe the Bible is true.  I have faith… or do I?

Here is the rub: In James 2, it says that faith without works is DEAD.  I have been confessing with my mouth something that my actions do not back up.  I’m a hypocrite.

I was struggling with this and I heard God ask me, ‘Do you believe I AM who I say I AM?’

I remember just sitting there, dumb founded.  No words.  Just the real moment of looking in a mirror and realizing that what I was really seeing was not what I thought would be there.  I was living a life where my faith was in myself and not God.  I had manipulated my circumstances, and shrunk my world to be filled with decisions that I could control and manage.

For the longest time, I would hear of other testimonies and wonder where were my own? Why didn’t I see miracles of faith in my own life?  As I was pondering this with the Lord, He simply said, you don’t have testimonies because you don’t give Me the opportunity.  I was facing unknown impossibilities with fearful dread, instead of joyful anticipation.  It was a true reflection of how I viewed God.

Talk about a wake up call…

In the book When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson says, ‘It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible.  It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus’.

So I have to repent, ask God to renew and transform my mind, and to take actions based not on what I see, but on who God is.

I recently had an encounter where Jesus as asking me to step out in faith, and travel to a destination that I didn’t know anything about, along a road I couldn’t see.  We were both standing on top of a mountain and Jesus was pointing to the destination beyond the horizon.  I knew that it was an all or nothing kind of deal where after stepping out, there was no turning back.  I began to talk with Jesus and share that I was scared to go because I couldn’t see the path and I could see the destination.  Jesus turned to me, and with joy and excitement simply said, ‘I can see the journey and destination, and it is GOOD!’

I am reminded daily to examine the posture of my heart, the motives of my actions and the driver of my car.  Am I living in joyful anticipation, even in the midst of uncertainty, needs, and unknowns?  Can I firmly root myself in the truth that God is a GOOD FATHER who loves to draw near?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5,6

Tagged , , , ,

Change hurts

change-funny-motivational-poster

I think we can all agree with Heraclitus, the pre-Socractic Greek philosopher who said, “Change is the only constant in life.”  I’ve only lived 40 years on this spherical rock we call Earth but in that time I’ve seen newspapers change to tablets, pay phones change to cell phones, letters change to emails change to text messages, and fashion trends go around and around.  I’ve seen people come and go, houses bought and sold, jobs left and joined, and my own beautiful children grow.  (Talk about the changes children bring into your life… especially when your daughter becomes a teenager…)

It is amazing for me to see my 3 year old daughter manipulate my wife’s iPhone, on her own, with ease (which I don’t condone … another blog for another day) while I teach my mom how to use her phone (and actually get the hang of – Shout out to my mother!)

As everything gets smaller, faster, lighter, and more high-tech, we’re always faced with the decision of changing again and again to stay current and not go the way of the dinosaurs.  (Btw, could there ever be a more hurtful adjective?  Dinosaurs had a small brain, are now extinct, and even the most ferocious T-rex had ridiculously small arms that he couldn’t even use to pick his nose.)

Why do things change so much?  Is there some sociological explanation?  Is there a significant spiritual revelation?  Regardless, it’s safe to assume that change is here and will continue to be here long after you and I are no longer here.  The other truth is that change IS hard, and that’s okay.  In fact, I would venture to say that if change isn’t hard, then maybe there was never a full investment in the original path you are changing from.

As change happens around me, I’m learning to be in touch with my emotions and not afraid of them.  I can do this because I know that change is hard and it’s okay for me to be sad, or upset.  I’m learning to ask others for support and to share my process with others. Why?  Because change is hard and I need a relational community around me to keep me honest with myself.  Finally, I’m asking myself questions about why change is hard so I can give myself an opportunity to discover issues in my belief system that might be out of line with what I know is truth.

In reading the book “Intimacy” by Terry Hershey, the Biblical story of Jesus healing a lame man is brought up.  Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well in order to hear the man himself confess the desire of his own heart.  The book states that just because we may be in a broken place doesn’t mean we actually want healing.  Sometimes we’re comfortable in the familiar, even if it is painful.

My goal is to navigate change well and not see change as just a constant in life, but a learning opportunity to understand how I can be a better person.  Why is change hard?  What issues is this change uncovering in my heart and head?  Am I having a hard time letting go because my identity is in the circumstance around me?  Am I not wanting to change because I’m comfortable in my past?

 

winding-road-hr

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. . . . God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” – John Piper

My hope is in the truth that God himself is orchestrating my life as I submit it to Him, every day.  Yes, change is hard, but I see the final destination before me and it is always worth it, because God is worth it!

Tagged , , ,

Community : freedom in boundaries, growth through accountability

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.” – Paul Ryan

One of the things I talk a lot about is community. Community is one of those buzz-words that a lot of us throw around, but how many of actually know what it means?  While my thoughts on this topic exceed the limit I’m willing to write in a blog, I’ll try my best to cover some of the points that are important to me.

By definition (according to Wikipedia), community is a group of people that share common values. This is a picture perfect image of people harmoniously living together in unity, working toward the same goals, standing on the same values, singing kumbaya every night around a camp fire, filled with story telling, laughter and s’mores.

community-roundtable

While this is a great thing, my understanding of community is not to just gather people together because there is a shared common value system…the goal in community is to gather people who want to do LIFE together from that common value system.

A second Wikipedia definition for community is: A group of interactive living organisms sharing a populated environment.  I like this definition better. It implies that we are each a separate, unique living thing, sharing space. As growth occurs, perspectives are communicated, and as LIFE happens, challenges arise. The organisms in that shared environment must work together to come up with solutions to stay connected in that environment. The life that is lived together is what motivates us to work through the disagreement, pain and trouble… not just the common values.

One of my favorite sayings on community is from Pastor Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding CA). He says that community is where we are all held accountable (paraphrased). This is a big goal of community in my life.  I do not want to surround myself only with those that would always agree, always applaud, always think the same, and do the same as I would. In that vacuum of bliss, we will always be right, but never grow.  Community is that place where we find out who we really are, what we really believe in, and what we’re really made of.  My own saying, “Community is the context that gives substance to our character.”

My definition of community is about a safe place to be authentic, pursue dreams, and be held accountable by those around us. It is a place to allow fathers and mothers to speak into our lives, to bring encouragement and correction, and to raise up those around us to fully be who they were created to be, as we do the same. To learn how to run hard after what’s inside of us, while learning how to serve those around us. How to honor those who have gone before us, submit to those over us, and sow into those after us.  Here there is no fear of being unique, authentic and true to yourself.

To me, this is community. To me, this is LIFE.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Chasing Creativity, It’s an inside job

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

I love this quote because I believe it reveals the true essence of creativity: The release of a person’s authentic self.  Many people in society have put creativity on a pedestal of unattainability, linking it to great feats of achievement.  We throw names like Einstein, Picasso, Jobs and Bell into the mix only to create a social club of elites that mostposter-tableau-affiche-creativityz of us can never hope to be a part of.

The reality is that we are all creative beings, simply because we were created by a creative God.  We could never fathom the depth of the cosmos, the beauty of the stars, and the immeasurable riches of beauty that is around us, and yet, we were created in the image of the One who breathed it all into existence.

We are not boring humans trying to do creative things; we are creative beings called to be authentic to who we are.  I believe the secret of creativity is understanding the value of who you are.  The very fact that our DNA, fingerprints are unique among masses of people that have lived and will live is a reminder that only you can be you.  Only you can reveal the inner beauty of your heart, your dreams and your passion.

Stepping into yourself, valuing what is inside, and sharing it with the world is the journey of creativity.  And while many of us may not create artistic masterpieces, or invent new technologies, or change culture, we can leave our fingerprint on the world that we influence by simply being true to ourselves.

We are not called to be imitators of others, but to be great explorers of ourselves in order to share with the world what nobody else can: the beauty that is the authentic you.  That is creativity.

Tagged , , ,

Conflicted life: Mary or Martha?

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Marthawelcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[b] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I’ve heard the question posed before to believers, ‘Are you more like Mary or more like Martha?’  I think it has something to do with which type of believer you are.  Martha, who was busy, busy, busy, serving, cooking, and cleaning, represents the believer that is out there doing good works, keeping themselves busy with acts of service, and strategically structured.  Mary, who just sat at the feet of Jesus, represents the believer that longs to just gaze at the face of Jesus, soak in His presence, and simply lavish Him with extravagant worship (breaking the alabaster jar of perfume on His feet).

For a while, I also gazed at the church through the lens of Mary or Martha, until one day while I was re-reading this passage, the question popped into my head, ‘Why do I have to be one or the other?  Why can’t I be both?’   Why do we need to categorize ourselves as one or the other?  I’ve heard the stereotypes of different churches regarding this mindset.  ‘Oh, that church only wants to worship Jesus and love Him, but they don’t even care about the world around them.’ Or ‘That church is so driven by evangelism or serving the community, but they lack intimacy with Jesus.’  Even in our own minds we sometimes separate the two as if they must exist independent of each other.

Personally, I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘type’ of believer other than a believer that is Christ-like.  And all through His life we see the model of somebody who lived in both worlds: Extravagant intimacy with the Father, and extravagant good works, signs and miracles.  Jesus was so busy doing good works that his disciples would have to beg him to eat food, and yet He still found the time to press into intimacy.  We know this not only because the Bible talks about his early morning prayers, but because His very life was dictated by knowing the Father’s heart.
mmGod is calling forth a generation of extravagant lovers who demonstrate love by their deeds, and whose deeds demonstrate their love.  In fact, they can not exist separate from each other, for if we truly press into intimacy with God, it will drive us to serve those around us.  I want to live a life that has the full value of both Mary and Martha!

Tagged , , , , ,

Hidden mysteries … Glory of Kings

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

Proverbs 25:2 (ESV) – It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings to search things out.

This verse has become one of my favorite life verses and helps me not only enjoy the process of life, but also find the wonder in all things.

Whenever I read this verse I think of one thing: Easter Egg Hunt! This year was Amaris’ first opportunity to really understand and enjoy our family Easter egg hunt. I’ll never forget her high-pitched squeal of glee when she saw our front lawn strewn with brightly colored eggs.   I don’t know who enjoyed it more. Amaris was running here and there, yelling with delight as she found egg after egg, filling up her basket. And I loved every moment of it, watching the wonder and joy in her eyes as she searched for more eggs.

When the dust settled and every egg was discovered, I was actually sad that it was over. Amaris shared the same feeling as she still wandered the front lawn saying ‘more’.

It’s a picture of how God delights in hidden mystery. How His glory and majesty are ever evident in the never ending, unfathomable riches of unfound discoveries. And more importantly, how much He delights in us, His sons and daughters, finding joy and wonder in the hunt.

Many times we strive to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible. We just ask God for the answer…

We miss an opportunity to be a part of a process. A beautiful hunt where God is delighting in us as we search, and cheering us on at the same time.   We are sons and daughters, friends and co-heirs. We get to ask questions like ‘why’, all the while trusting in God’s goodness, mercy and love.

In this, I want to forever be child-like.

Tagged , ,