Monday, February 23, 2015

input and output

mark 7:1-20

it’s an issue of the heart. it’s not what you put into you. it’s not the traditions, the externals, the legalistic rituals that poison you. it’s your heart. it’s what’s already in there. sin is so much more than what you do. what you do flows from the sin that’s in us already. it’s deep and cancerous. it requires spiritual surgery.

that’s why we depend on the work of jesus. that’s why we need the holy spirit.

now, the counterpart to this is that it still matters what you put into yourself. your religious actions and practices don’t make you right before god. your faith in jesus makes us righteous and clean. but what we do affects our hearts. and jesus is aiming at the heart.

he wants our hearts.

once we have established that he cares about our hearts more than our actions, it leads us to the externals. why?

our actions affect our hearts. our relationship with him.

our input affects our output.

if you don’t meditate on the word of god, you won’t know god’s voice in your heart. if you don’t surround yourself with community, you won’t experience god’s love for you through the local church and his bride. if you don’t worship the lord, you won’t remember and have the faithfulness and peace of the lord resonating from deep inside you and overflowing into praise. these things don’t save us. but these things do affect us. 

this is the difference between traditions and disciplines. traditions keep god at a distance and trick us into thinking we can save ourselves.

disciplines come from loving the lord and doing whatever we can to know him more and more, knowing deep down that what we do with our bodies and our lives deeply affects our hearts and relationships with him. 

and as we know deeper and deeper. as we experience him more and more. our lives are radiant. our actions are different. a transformed heart leads to a transformed life. your behaviors flow out of a deep reverence and love for your father.

you read because you love. you love because you read. you worship because you know his joy. you know his joy because you worship. 

it’s a beautiful cycle. the love for the lord inspires a longing and desire for more of him. and our lives change and flow out of that. this is following christ. this is picking up our crosses. this is true love!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

don't stop risking now

what's up.

i guess it's been another year. a little longer. february now haha.

what a crazy year it's been.

i became a worship leader at rockharbor church. i finished worship academy. i went to uganda and did amazing things with amazing people. i got married to thuy. i've been built up. i've been let down. but through it all, my god has been faithful and with me in every single moment.

i can't believe i'm here. i can't believe that this is my actual job. to be able to lead people in worship and work in the church. it's a dream come true. it's what i wanted for so long. my first day on the job, nick fox and some other good friends had a worship time in the office. i sat on the floor and wept as i was overcome by how good my god was to me. i had a picture of him holding my hand the whole time that i was waiting for an answer from him. i couldn't stop. i was just overwhelmed by my father's love. i've always known that my father loved me but in this moment, i was overcome by it. 

gary read a scripture over us in that meeting. a scripture that i will always remember and one that i've been praying over people all year. psalm 91. "he will cover you with his feathers. he will shelter you with his wings. his faithful promises are your armor and protection." and it goes on. this is my god. the god who protects me and fights for me.

nick said something to me that day. i'm still holding onto it now. something that i can't stop holding onto. because if i don't hold onto it, i'll stagnate. i'll lose my zeal. i'll stop depending on god. i'll get comfortable. he told me, "don't stop risking now."

we finished academy. we made it through. the long mornings and the afternoon sessions. the lunches and the talks. i'm so proud of the people that i got to journey with those months. god's taken us to different places and is continuing to work in different ways. subtle and extreme. but i'm so thankful to have been able to journey and be loved on by those people. to see faith in action. 

speaking of faith in action, we went to uganda! i don't even know where to begin. god came through! i was able to raise all the funds needed and actually went over! we landed, we held worship nights, we prayed with the local church, we ministered in the villages, we brought health care, i counted pills in the pharmacy, i got sick, like really, really sick, we made amazing friends, we almost got crushed in a sea of thousands of people, we got really sweaty dancing for hours on end, we heard the gospel shared in a bunch of languages, we visited prisons, we heard people sing, and it was amazing. i can't believe that i got to do all of that with such great people. i will always remember.

and then a week after we got back, i got married. =] i'm seriously married to my best friend. i don't know who else i could have ended up with that gets me as much as she does. we fight. of course we fight. but god is so faithful and good to us and humbles me so much so that i can love thuy better and better each day. and she's grown so much too. she's graduated from nursing school. she's passed her licensing exam. and now she's working at st. joseph's hospital in orange and is 2 months in! it's so crazy. 

god has been so faithful. i can't stop praising him for how amazing he's been to us.

looking back on my old posts, though. i'm so glad that i learned how to praise him in the unknowing and the doubt. i'm so glad that i learned how to sing in the middle of the hurt and the pain. it is the foundation, the faith, that i sing praise with now. my god is good through the trials and through the blessing. my god has always been worthy of my praise and will continue to be worthy no matter what happens in our futures!

so that was a tiny little glimpse into this amazing year. and here we are in february. 

sitting. praying. considering. meditating.

i need jesus. i need you lord. more than ever before. every day i need you more. here we are looking into the future. looking into the unknown. am i called to stay here forever? are you leading me elsewhere? i see the things that you've put on my heart, lord. i know the things that you've set on fire in me. i can't put them out. as much as i try, the people in my life won't let me. they know that the spark was yours. that's why they won't let it burn out. they won't let me settle. 

they won't let me stop risking.

here's to risk. here's to an increased faith and dependence on the living god. here's to stepping out to see him move in ways that i could have never even dreamed or imagined. here's to an increased capacity to trust in him so i can show others how to trust in god. here's to the kingdom and the adventure of the unknown. but also the assurance that god is with us as we go to make disciples. to train believers in the faith. to send them out and do the same. 

i want to see the kingdom. i want to see a movement. i want to see a kingdom movement. 

the amazing thing is, it's already happening. it's been happening before time began. god knows what he's doing. and it's so amazing that we get to come along with the father and be a part of what he's doing. =]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


well. let's catch up.

i stopped working with kids with disabilities. i started doing wedding videography shooting and editing with a friend's company part time. i was asked to join the rockharbor worship academy and got through the interviews. was given amazing chances to be able to go through these doors. had my heart broken in beautiful ways by God in learning to be firm in my identity in Him. i've been humbled in worship leading. i've been reaffirmed in my calling as a worship leader. i got engaged. i'm applying at starbucks. and starting to raise money for our mission trip this summer.

i guess that's the truncated version of it all haha.

but i am so glad for all the growth from this past year. if i look back to the man i was a year ago today, i wouldn't recognize him. it would be a man who was prideful, lost, entitled, obsessed with recognition and approval, selfish, etc. and i guess not that i'm completely different now, i'm a little bit less those things now. =]

a really big theme for me this year has been trust. with work, with relationships, with future, with everything. my life is kind of in the air right now. i have no solid plans over 5 months out. i have no idea where God is going to take me. but that's something that i've chosen and surrendered to. that God knows what He's doing and He's going to protect me as He's developing my heart to trust in Him. 

i had a meeting with a mentor the other day and we were talking about how even though i'm waiting for God's timing with everything, it doesn't mean that i should sit around doing nothing either. i shouldn't be brooding and waiting for God to put things on my lap. i need to work hard in the meantime. put in the work in developing my relationship with Him, developing my relationship with my fiancee, developing my relationships with my family and friends, and simply put in the work of making money in the meantime. i've made a commitment to start a family and i need to step up to that challenge. i need to surrender to God and let Him mold me into the man that i need to be for my future wife and kids. and that's not just going to happen by me sitting around on my hands. i need to get off my keister and engage in my life for lessons to be taught and to stick.

another big thing these past couple months has been learning to really let God love me. simply love me. so that i don't have to look to people for approval and care so much about what other people think. so that i don't need to depend on their criticism or praise. my joy comes from knowing that God is well pleased with me and delights in me. for the first time in my life, i've been experiencing "freedom." i've never felt that before in my life as a christian. i was always so worried about what other people thought of what i was wearing or how i was acting. but my life isn't based around other people's perceptions of me any longer. the simple question is now, "is God pleased with me?" and the answer is always yes because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. and that leads me into the freedom from sin in my journey as well! learning that as much as i mess up, there is no guilt or condemnation in Jesus Christ. what!! i've been a christian for most of my life and i can't believe that i'm learning this or at least understanding this now! no matter what i do, i'm forgiven because of Jesus. and i shouldn't even revel in my guilt or shame because Jesus died to set me free from that. if i am wallowing in those thoughts, it's definitely the devil telling me lies because Jesus would never tell me to continue to feel guilty. He made that very clear through His sacrifice!

there's so many more things but i just needed to update this so my kids don't feel like they're missing on a big chunk of their dad's life when they read this haha. God is good. so good. and even though i'm not out of the desert yet, and the night surrounds me. i'm in the shadow of His wing and i wouldn't be anywhere else. He protects me and guides me. He is always with me. and i will continue to lift up His praises all the days of my life until we meet face to face.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the presence of God

we were asked this question last night. what does it look like for me to be in the presence of God? and i thought back to when i first really believed in Jesus. the 18-year-old teenager who woke up every morning excited to hear from his Father. who cried out to his Abba about every situation. who remembered all the time that his life was in God's hands. who didn't worry about the future because his God had a plan.

i'm 23 years old now. a lot of things have changed. i'm no longer in my first year of college. i'm no longer in my parents' church where i grew up almost my entire life. i have an beautiful girlfriend who loves and supports me. i'm in an amazing and healthy life group who prays for and encourages me. i'm serving in a church that believes in the mission of God and wants to share the Gospel and multiply the local church. there are a lot of things that i've had to say good bye to. and there are a lot of things that i'm really blessed to have in my life now. but there's something that i miss more than anything else.

i miss that heart. i miss that excitement for the Lord. i miss being amazed every morning by my God's goodness. and it's not that i don't experience moments of His goodness nowadays. but that continual walking in His presence. always knowing in every moment that my God is with me. not fearing the world and the opposition that i face. stepping in bold steps in His name. for me, that was my definition of being in the presence of God.

continuously in the state of being overwhelmed by how much He loves me and cares for me. so much so that everything else pales in comparison. that the world looks different and i'm not as worried or afraid of what will happen next. i was reminded of what it's like being with amazing friends or family and having conversations and laughing for hours. never wanting that moment to end. the presence of God for me was like that. like a good friend that i could sit down with and never want to stop talking to. where i didn't want that last encounter to end. and even if i had to leave wherever i was at the time, the conversation would continue throughout the day because we had so much to talk about. and there were times when not talking was ok. because we would just enjoy each other's company. and that was enough. God was enough for me.

now that i'm older, there are a lot more obstacles to that presence. worrying about getting married, thinking about a master's degree, trying to figure out how to make money, etc. but i don't want that to be an excuse. i don't want to look for an easy way out. God is the most important person in my life. and i'm going to make time and space for Him. to read His Word. to pray and talk to Him. to walk with Him daily. to simply rest and be still with Him. there's always a way to spend time with Him. i've just been so caught up with smaller things that i throw His presence to the bottom of my priority list. 

we were reading about how moses talked to God in exodus and how God told them to go somewhere but he wouldn't go with them. and moses refused and protested and would not want to go unless God went with them. how often do i leave God behind because want i want is more important than him? it was so convicting. i want the heart that says, "God, i'm not leaving this spot unless you're with me. God, you're my everything. how could i go without you? everything would be meaningless if you weren't there." the same way heaven wouldn't be the same if Jesus wasn't there. i've been leaving God behind and that's not what i want to do anymore.

i want to be like moses. a man who is marked by the presence of God. that when people see me, they see a man who just can't go on without Jesus. who can't take a step without knowing that his God is with him.

God, bring me back that place, Lord. where i would always seek Your face first. to look to where my help comes from. to be reminded of your strong and steadfast love and mercy always. bring me back to that dependence. to never want to take a step without You. my life looks so different without You, Lord. i do things just for myself or when i do things for others, it's because i feel like i should. but when You're with me, i do things because i feel Your heart. i see with Your eyes. i know Your compassion. give me more of You, Lord. i want more of You than the gifts that You have to give. give me more. set a fire down in my soul that i can't contain or control. i want more of You, God. let that be my prayer each and every day. each and every moment. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


so i have a job. i am working with kids with different types of disabilities and mainly autism. i really admire what the company does for the families from coming alongside the kids and the parents to giving them the tools and education that they need to be able to give the kids the best life that they can offer. but as i'm working here, God's slowly reaffirming my giftings and where He wants me to go. i am praying about getting my master's degree in counseling again and being faithful to my calling in that. it's just the type of person i am. 

i love being able to listen to people and help them through what their life situation is at the time. i love being able to help people discover new things about themselves and why they do what they do. i love being able to discover new things about myself in the process as well. i want to be able to walk with people through their journeys and change their outlook on the future as well as use their past to shape them into a better person today.

i feel like for the time being though, i need to remain faithful to what's been put in front of me. i get so antsy and anxious and want to move on so quickly. even when i know that it's not a good idea. i know that i need to stay here for as long as it takes. for as long as He wants me to be here at this company and serve the families well. 

He wants me to look to Him for guidance and strength. He wants me to depend on Him. He wants me to stop comparing myself to other people. 

I'm glad i got this chance to be able to work in this incredible field. i'm still learning. i'm still making mistakes. i was talking to good friend just yesterday about how in some cultures, you weren't considered a man until you were 30. i know not everybody agrees with that haha. but in a certain sense, i still feel like a teenager. just trying things out and making mistakes and learning from them. letting God continue to flesh things out in my heart. disciplining me and developing me. i'm glad i'm still discovering what my giftings are and how to develop them. i keep expecting so much out of myself to be perfect at things that i went to school for but i haven't had enough experience to be an "expert."

i need to stop taking myself so seriously. i need to stop worrying so much and hashing out all the different scenarios of what could happen. i need to trust God. i need to know that He is my joy and Good News. i need to remember that my mission on this earth isn't to be "successful" or to make a lot of money. it's to let everyone know about Jesus and the peace that He's given me. yes, i want to be responsible and take care of my family well. but the best way for me to do that is to be able to love Jesus and let my wife and kids know that i'm there for them emotionally and financially. to be able to make enough to be able to provide a home and food but at the same time, be in the home with them. 

i don't want to get so caught up with taking care of my family that i don't take care of them. if that makes any sense haha. i was given the blessing to be able to be raised by two amazing immigrant parents. a humble background and growing up in a low income home. and i had one of the best childhoods that a kid could ask for. i had loving parents and family and a roof over my head and food in my belly. that's what i want to give my kids. not only that, i had parents who loved the Lord enough to instill His love in me and that's what i want to pass on to my kids. =]

God, help me to trust you. with the future. with money. with everything. help me to trust you so i don't have to worry so much. so i can focus on loving people well and not focus so much on the green. =] i love you, Lord. you're so good to me. my life is Yours forever and ever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

greater than mine

i think God finally won a couple of days ago. He pried something out of my hands that i just would not let go of. i thought that it was what He wanted me to do. at least that's what i convinced myself that that was what He wanted me to do. this past weekend i was able to hear some amazing stories of how God opened up doors for people to walk through and glorify Him. and i realized that He hadn't opened up these doors for me. yet i continued to try and force the doors open. i didn't realize that He was opening up other doors for me.

i've been going through a trying season. still, after months of searching and wandering around, i don't have a full time job. i keep on being stuck between making money to take care of my family well or following my passion. i've been switching back and forth again and again. 

but these past few days have made me sit back and just see the doors that God has opened up for me. He's opened up school for me again and again. He's also opened up opportunities for me to work part time at a sunglasses company and a wedding video company. so i will put my effort into these things and see where He takes me from there. 

He hasn't been opening up the door for worship leading really. at least for right now, it doesn't seem like that's what He wants me to be doing. i shouldn't have to run into this much opposition haha. if He opens the door, i'm sure i'll see it. that's usually what He does. =]

i've been realizing that i've been asking Him close-ended questions. should i do this or this, God? only those options. rather than open-ended questions like, "where do i go from here? i'll go wherever You lead me." and i've been finding that it's because i've been idolizing some of those options. wanting it more than anything. i've been learning again how to surrender my life to God, no matter where He takes me. even if it's not where i thought that i would be. but it would be so much more beautiful than i ever would have thought could it be. not my plans, but His.

but my life is surrendered. my paths are surrendered. my passions and dreams. i want His dreams and passions in my heart. they're so much greater than mine. =]

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good Bye

I know these past few months, this past year, has been a really big transition time for me. I know I've been stretched and been growing. And I've been thinking a lot about how I'm not a 17-year-old anymore. How I'm not 19 anymore. Or even 21 anymore haha. I've been thinking about these last couple of years. The fun, the laughter, the friendships, the adventure, the amazing ways that God moved in my life and the lives of others. And I was happy but also sad.

I'm saying goodbye and closing the chapter on one of the most amazing times of my life. My college years are behind me now. Like saying goodbye to an old friend in a way.

But God met me there. To remind me of the adventure that awaits me. There's so much more to do. There's so much more to look forward to. The next adventure awaits!

I can't wait to see what God has in store for us next! New dreams, new hopes, new friendships, new challenges, new responsibilities, more laughter, more tears, more of Himself. =]