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A New Way of Living

Excerpted from p.221:

Most of us accept the challenge to effectively, wisely, and morally engage with life in this world with the expectation, at least the hope, that blessings will follow. A few accept the invitation to live their lives in this world as He directs and enables, with no stronger wish than to hold His Name high.

If we build on the first foundation, the flesh, our core passion will be for blessings, whichever ones we vale most. And our core experience, beneath whatever else we feel, will be pressure, the  pressure to live a certain way to get the life we want.

If we build on the second foundation, the Spirit, our core passion will be for God, to know Him and honor Him in any circumstance. And our core experience will be freedom, the freedom to draw near to God across a bridge we neither constructed nor maintain. And in that freedom we’ll discover both the passion to live well and the wisdom to know what that means.

Living by the flesh

  1. Core Passion: I live to be blessed.
  2. Core Experience: I must get it right so blessings come.
  3. Core Strategy: I will figure out what to do and do it.
  4. Core Hope: I expect good things to follow.
  5. Core Attitude: My will be done.

Living by the Spirit

  1. Core Passion: I live to know Christ.
  2. Core Experience: I come to Him to celebrate His glory.
  3. Core Strategy: I will trust His provision.
  4. Core Hope: I expect to become like Jesus.
  5. Core Attitude: Thy will be done.

2013 New Year’s Challenges

In years past when I was younger and more idealistic, I would try to be intentional about setting and fulfilling new year’s resolutions.  For the most part, I was able to accomplish, if not begin working towards, many of my goals in the course of the year.  As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve come to realize that setting goals is more important than ever because life seems to go by faster, thus a greater sense of urgency to leave an impact and legacy in this world.

There is considerable evidence that suggests a strong correlation between expectations and achievements.  In other words, people usually end up where they expect or close to it.  In archery, if you’re aiming for the target, you’ll most likely hit it or get close to it.  Without a target, there’s nothing to focus your attention or energy.  As a result, you’re aimless.  In life living aimlessly is a result of not having goals or targets.

I haven’t had much time to think through what I’d like to focus on this coming year, but I got an email from a former friend and pastor who posted a set of “challenges” for his church for 2013.  I thought they were right on in terms of how I’d like to live or strive to live in this coming year, so I’ve adopted them for myself.  Here’s my list of targets or challenges for the various areas of my life for 2013:

  1. Spiritual
    • Read or listen to Bible for 10 minutes a day at least five times a week.
    • Read six Christian books.
    • Be still and silent at least 10 minutes a day.
  2. Professional
    • Publish two articles or book chapters.
    • Present at one national conference.
    • Attend leadership training.
  3. Financial
    • Use 40% of earnings to live.
    • Save 30% of earnings for retirement.
    • Give 30% of earnings to charity.
  4. Physical Health
    • Walk 30 minutes a day at least twice a week.
    • Maintain current weight of 142 pounds (+/- 3 lbs.).
    • Get to bed by 11pm
  5. Community
    • Share a meal with others (friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc.) at least once a week.
    • Continue with TDT monthly dinners and grow as a group.
    • Serve larger community via LifeLine and Gateway.
  6. Family
    • Take each of my kids out on a date at least once every three months.
    • Date my wife every Friday or as much as possible.
    • Prioritize family during weekends, holidays, and vacation.

May God help me make some of these ideas will become a reality.

Educare Christmas Program

Our boys were front and center at this year’s Christmas program.  They, along with everyone, did an fabulous job giving praise and glory to baby Jesus.  I think the world needs to be reminded often about the simplicity and significance of Christmas: God sent his only son to give us hope and comfort in this life and the next.  Merry CHRISTmas everyone!


My Sweet Spots

In recent weeks I’ve been thinking about what are my strengths and sweet spots in career and ministry. Here are a list of things that come to mind:

Big Picture/Macro-Perspective: I am most comfortable and confident when dealing with big ideas, grand visions, and overall goals. I like casting bold visions.

Out-of-box Thinking: Instead of traveling on old beaten paths, I like to venture out and create my own path. I like to challenge status quo and the norm because innovation comes from new ways of thinking and doing.

Global-Minded: In ministry I relate most to ministries to that are global in scope and focus. Ministries such as Compassion International, World Vision, and United Nations are closest to my heart.

Education Focus: Education is at the heart of all I do. Specifically, I love knowledge, ideas, and theories and how they can change lives and promote greater understanding. I’ve to teach and interact with students. I prefer college and older pupils, but open to working with younger children.

Social Justice: Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God and with people. I’m particularly drawn to ministries that invest in people by building their character, capacity, and capabilities. LifeLine CDC, International Justice, and Samaritan’s Purse are ministries that are close to my heart.

Technology-Enabled: As a technology enthusiast and some who puts a great deal of confidence in cloud computing, I want to leverage the power and potential of technology to solve big problems in education and social justice.

Eight Critical Life Questions for a Fresh Start

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The following set of questions are posted on Bob Buford’s blog Active energy.  One of his readers sent him these questions as a way to think about how to begin the new year.  While it’s already two months into the year, I felt these questions are still relevant because it’s artificial to think about setting goals only in January.  As most people know, new year’s resolutions usually become past memories by late February or early March.  In any case, it’s good to remember that goal setting is a one-time event; it has to be regularly visited and revisited, readjust, and rethought.

Here’s my best thought on the following questions:

Who am I?

  • I’m God’s beloved, fearfully and wonderfully made.  I was lost, but now I’m found.  I was blind, but now I see.  I am a follower of Jesus and his ways.  My life is not my own, but his.  Not my will, but His be done.
  • I’m also a husband to my wife and a father to my children.
  • I’m a teacher by heart, a scholar by training, and a technologist by accident.

What are my strengths?

  • I’m passionate about what I do, giving it 110%.  I expect high standards from myself and from others.  I think outside the box, challenging status-quo. I love ideas, especially innovative ones.

What is my place in the world?

  • I’m called to be a teacher, someone who guides, instructs, and mentors others to their potential.

What do I value most and are my areas of greatest priority in life?

  • I value my faith in Jesus, my family, and social justice (through education).

What is my mission, purpose, and plan?

  • My life purpose is to bring God glory through educating and mentoring others so that they can reach their potential.

How much am I willing to suffer or pay for what I value most in life and are my areas of greatest priority?

  • I’d like to say that I’m willing to leave my well-paying job to pursue what I value and invest in my areas of greatest priority, but I’m not there yet.

How does the way I spend my time align with what I value most and are my greatest priorities?

  • I spend an inordinate amount of time in my work, mainly supporting other faculty and educating them about teaching with technology, but I don’t know whether that really aligns with what I value most and are my greatest priority.

Write down what it would look like if things were going just the way I want them to be.

  • I would be working for an international organization that focuses on educating the least of these.  I would love to have my children be involved in some meaningful way.  I would be operating both at the “front lines” and back in the “think tank.”
I have to admit that these are really hard questions to answer.  I don’t know if it’s because I don’t really know what I want or because I know what I want but unable to express it.

A Balanced Life

Make a short list of the special people in your life.  What makes them so special to you? What “small things” might you do to express your gratitude for their roles in your life?

  • Wife: The love of my life, the anchor for our family, and the wisest person I know. Court her weekly.
  • Children: They bring joy and smiles to my life.  Do things “with” them and not just “for” them.
  • Mom: She taught me perseverance, hard work, and how to cook.  Call her regularly to say hi and listen.
  • Brother:  Kind-hearted and generous, I’m proud of all that he has accomplished.  Consult on small matters.
  • Friend (JB): Walks by faith and not by sight. Provide advice and perspective on practical matters.
  • Friend (LH): Invested in my early life so I might have a better life. Show gratitude with call and card.
  • Friend (SC): Someone who I can journey through life’s highs and lows.  Encourage and spur to good deeds.

How I’m spending my vacation

pullen-grace-christmas-holly-faith-family-friends.jpg A few months back, my wife and I scheduled this week as a week-long family vacation. We were supposed to go out of town and get away from our daily routines.  As it turned out, I ended up working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and as a result, I didn’t get a chance to really “start” my vacation until today (Thursday).  How a week-long vacation ended up being just an extended weekend-long vacation speaks volumes about how I haven’t really prioritized “time off work” as I do “time at work.”  Given today’s economy where just having a job is something to be grateful for, it’s hard to make a strong argument about the need to take time off for the brain to decompress and the body to rest and recover.  I realize that even though I’m on vacation, my brain still veers towards thoughts of work projects, but I’m trying to balance that with other things that are more important than work.

This morning, I woke up shortly before 10am.  I ate a yogurt and a pluot.  I spent a little over an hour on the phone and computer with an old friend who needed my help and advice on various things.  Around noon, I ate lunch (leftover) while watching a TEDxHouston 2011 – Chris Seay – Pastor at Ecclesia video about how we find our place in this world.  The main point I got from it is the need to live with humility and conviction, recognizing our fractured past but not letting it define our present and future.  I then called my mom to say hi and see how she’s doing.  She’s been feeling a bit depressed given the state of the world and given her circumstances.  We talked for about one hour about various things.
It’s about late afternoon of my first day of a four day vacation, and I feel I’ve used my time wisely thus far.  I’ve given a bit of time to help out a close friend, to encourage a family member, and to be reminded about my faith.  Faith, family, and friends – key ingredients to having a rewarding and restful vacation.  The more I think about it, the more I need to invest in these things because ultimately they matter more than what we do in our jobs or what we can ever accomplish with our lives. 
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