A sweet 4-for-1 deal

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.” (Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8 NIV)

I can’t believe it has taken me four years since becoming a follower of Christ as a Christian (I was born and raised in a Catholic family) to finally commit to finishing the entire Bible in 2018 (I’m currently doing the “Bible In A Year” reading plan on the Bible app; loving it!).

While I have benefitted tremendously from going to church; reading devotionals and books; fellowshipping with family and friends; and ministering on mission trips and our family’s nonprofit organization…none of them compare to sitting down with God every morning and reading what He has to say about Himself and my life; and because of this I’ve missed out on so many blessings, promises, and warnings that He had for me.

But I’m glad that in my procrastination and having to learn things the hard way, I’ve finally come around to doing it now and appreciating it more; and I am loving it and learning so much about how to live my life with purpose.

The above three passages in Proverbs emphasize the benefits of seeking God and reading His word; and if I am looking for one thing that will kill a bunch of birds with one stone, this is it. I mean – Just the act of reading His word prolongs my life to do more important work; gives me prosperity to enjoy and give generously; straightens my paths, so that I do not lose time being distracted and off-course; and makes me healthier so that I can thrive and not merely survive.

If opening the Bible to learn about my Father and Creator is the lead domino that makes the rest of my life fall into place, then I should make this the main – if not most important – thing I do every day.

Advertisements

God teaches us productivity & focus

“First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews‬ ‭10:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬)

This passage reminds me to do things right the first time so that I don’t have to do it again; and that it is Christlike to be efficient and effective.

Referring to the Old Testament tradition of priests having to sacrifice annually for the removal of sins – what used to be a tedious, temporary administrative ritual that needed to happen constantly was now replaced with a permanent solution – Jesus’ death granting us eternal forgiveness for our sins.

In addition to being grateful for grace and eternity with God, this verse also taught me good stewardship of time, and to make each investment of it count, be as fruitful as possible, and create things that last in a world that rewards shortcuts and surface-level, temporary pursuits; and devalues quality and ethics.

Ignore the five-year plan

I still believe in having a short-term (a few months out) plan of attack in my personal life and that of my businesses…but a five-year plan, specifically?

I don’t have one of those – or anything later than that…and I’m cool with it.

While it’s a “nice to have” plan, I don’t believe it’s important, actionable, and will remain relevant. I’m leaving the outcome to God – whose plan is ALWAYS better than my short-sighted, limited “goals with holes”; and time and time again He’s shown me that the best things that’ve ever happened to me were unplanned.

My abrupt divorce, re-marriage with kids, chain of The Halal Guys restaurants, and traveling the world to consult are just a few of the many “out of left-field” events that have changed and still are changing my life forever.

I just want to trust the Lord; explore my curiosities; use my God given talents; do what I love; and love people. The rest of life can have their way with me; and the freedom from planning life – instead of living life – feels liberating, exciting, breathable, and real.

What’s the rush?

“There is no urgency to have it all figured out. And feeling like you have it all figured out can make you stuck and close-minded to change.” – Annie Duke

Rushing to figure things out makes you miss out on the wins, lessons, detours, and delights hidden along the way – experiences that may lead you to an entirely different and even better outcome than you expected had you not been so hard set in your plans.

I mean – are you even 110% sure, after all? How many times have you changed your mind throughout your life as you gained more knowledge, met new people, and endured new circumstances?

With some crazy exceptions – what about the high school sweetheart that you knew you were going to marry? The job that aligned perfectly with the degree you went to school for?

And to expand on Annie’s second sentence – While we are constantly learning and growing in wisdom, it’s guaranteed that there will always more that we don’t know. This exciting journey of discovery isn’t limited to a semester, trip, or term – but is a life-long expedition that doens’t end. And that should psyched you out.

With this in mind, I should never, ever feel like I’ve arrived. I need to be comfortable with the ever-present unknowns, uncertainties, and fact that I’ll never have it “figured out.” It’d be a fool’s errand to aspire to something that doens’t exist – lest I be discouraged, non-productive, and depressed.

Slow down. Be open. Enjoy life.

Choose suffering

There are good habits we should incorporate into our daily lives that I hear quite often – meditation, gratitude, exercise, being present, acts of kindness, etc. etc.

They are life-changing for me and I have no disputes about any of them.

But here’s one that’s not too common – at least in its delivery:

“The more voluntary suffering you build into your life, the less involuntary suffering will affect your life” – Tim Ferriss

Try something new every day – with an emphasis on something you fear.

Exercise with a little more distance, weight, and repetition every time.

Have one uncomfortable conversation daily.

Add a few minutes more every day to the time you spend with your loved ones.

Write one more good reason why you believe in and stand for something.

Write one more good reason why people believe in and stand for something you don’t.

Live on one less item or dollar every day.

You get the picture.

The bits of pain, inconveniences, annoyances, loathing, and extra time will pay off with stronger muscles, increased tolerance for inevitable attacks, more compassion, and prime you for both survival and bigger opportunities that you couldn’t have taken on had you not grown to meet them.

This is something I wrote in my journal exactly one year ago today, and never elaborated on it. So when it popped up on my journaling screen today (I write daily in DayOne, and there’s a feature on the app that notifies me of posts I wrote on that day a year ago and years before that), I had to take the opportunity to share it, and share with it some examples that help me live it more and intentionally.

I hope they turn the tide in your favor, too.

Do your part. Leave the outcome to him.

Attachment-1.jpeg

Written on this date, two years ago. 

This was an amazing message for me this morning. I am reminded that as long as I am doing what He wants me to do, and do it according to His standards…it’s a success, regardless of the outcome.

Very often when I get busy and distracted, I focus too much on the world’s metrics of success – Company sales quotas, profit projections, anticipated returns on investment, how many followers and likes are on Facebook/Instagram, and the list goes on.

While they are helpful to a certain degree, most of the time these standards are set by industry norms, other peoples’ expectations, and other irrelevant and temporary benchmarks.

I am NOT normal (clearly lol!), I should only be catering to an audience of One, my guiding post should be eternal and unchanging one, and I am uniquely-equipped to pursue a unique purpose that cannot be measured nor compared.

God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s support; obedience – not the end result – is success; and when I don’t have to worry about what happens, I stress out less and can focus on the task at hand.

Have a great Monday, All.

Devotional: His Vision, His Way, His Timing

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” (Gen. 22:2)

Today’s devotional talks about how God works. First, He inspires us with a vision or calling that consumes and excites us. Then, before it becomes a reality – and it will be a reality, because it is God’s will – there is a test in the deep valley of humiliation. This is where achieving the vision seems discouraging, there doesn’t seem to be any activity or support in making it happen, and there is temptation on trying to go ahead of Him and achieve it by your own means.

Such was the case when Abraham received God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations, and because God’s timing wasn’t Abraham’s timing – and because his wife got older and older and way past childbearing condition – he took the matter into his own hands and had a son with Sarah’s servant. He tried to fulfill His word in the wrong way.

God – I am very susceptible to taking action and going without You; and while it’s well-meaning and a display of really wanting to serve the Kingdom, it’s short circuiting Your effectiveness, my results have a lesser chance of success, I am not leaving room for miracles, and it’s playing God and thinking I know better than my Heavenly Father. Please give me the patience to go at your pace; and have the faith that His will, done His way, will never lack His seeing it through to fruition and so much more.

Devotional: A Remnant That Prays

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1)

This devotional – coupled with yesterday’s message at Saddleback Church – emphasizes the importance of prayer in our daily lives. It’s not just a 5-minute exercise or a to-do item to cross off the checklist, but a conversation and a way of living that needs to happen all day, every day. It helps me discern and know God’s will as I am faced with so much input – purpose-driven work, good but misaligned work, irrelevant work, bad work, temptation, temptations, difficulty, etc. that my head spins, and I have a high chance of making poor or subpar decisions without His wisdom. And if I want to play a game I can win, I need to bring my all-star player with me.

A really cool parallel that Os Hillman makes in today’s passage is that prayers are like the rail for God’s work. God’s will and my work are the locomotive that is full of power, waiting to be put into motion; but it will either crash, not get very far, or not go at all without prayer.

I am reminded that prayer is NOT a flat tire that should only be used when things go wrong; and not to limit God’s power, day after day, by not taking God with me first and throughout everything I do. Big or small, good times and bad, it doesn’t matter…I want to make God authority and invite His favor into every little thing I do and think.

Truly open to what God’s says? Or listening for only what I wanna hear?

This is a passage that moved me exactly one year ago while reading “Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority” by John Eldredge – a book that was gifted to me by one of my favorite friends in the world.
“And as I do, I am also keeping my heart open to whatever answer he has for me. This is crucial. If I am really only open to hearing yes or no, if I am not really asking God’s counsel but have already decided in my mind what I am going to do, then the whole thing is play-acting. Surrender, true open-handedness, on the question before me is crucial to hearing from God.”

I worry about wanting what I want so bad that I fool myself and others into thinking it’s God’s will; or if it is His will, that I short-circuit by not waiting on Him or doing things my way.

Devotional: Predestination and adoption

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 9.12.58 AM.png

The above passage comes from Ephesians 1:14.

One of the strongest desires that we human beings have is a sense of belonging and significance. I can never feel alone or neglected – only empowered – because God my Father loves me unconditionally by choice and creation, (regardless of what I do or don’t do), and I am family heir to the kingdom