Devotional: Purpose versus provision

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Chris in God.” (Col. 3:3)

A great reminder about how things are prioritized here on Earth, and how God does things above. I easily get tempted to go after provision first, instead of the Provider. Which – if I say it that way – doesn’t make sense, right?

It’s like trying to chase a few bucks and having to do it over and over again; versus finding the ATM machine itself that will always dispense.

God promises that if we seek Him first, provision for all of our needs and more will be taken care of. He has all of the answers we will need in business, health, relationships, and finances – and they are waiting on the other side of faith and going after God’s heart. Not only that, we will experience peace and life and fulfillment of the ultimate purpose that God has put in my life to do/have/be.


Saddleback: “Finding Hope Again” by Kay Warren

Notes I took over the weekend from an amazing message by Kay Warren. Hope you find them helpful in your own battles as they do for me.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35, 37-39)

Resilience is a set of skills that can be learned in traumatic events, strained relationships, serious health problems, crushing disappointments, unchangeable circumstances, and painful losses.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom. 5:3-4)

“Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b)

“My days have passed; my plans have failed; my hope is gone. But my friends say night is daylight; they say that light is near; but I know I remain in darkness. My only hope is the world of the dead, where I will lie down to sleep in the dark.” (Job 17:11-13)

The Bible has already given us the heads up that life will be hard; there is no candy coating that. But God does give you all the resources needed to stand firm in your faith and your fight.

“I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world!” (John 16:33)

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by the renewing of your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” (Rom. 12:2)

“By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” (Psalm 119:105)

I can validate this verse; as I am reminded and recalibrated every day upon reading my Bible verses and the TGIF (Today God Is First) daily devotional in general.

Although there are undesirable circumstances in my life that cannot be changed, I can change my responses to them – and that’s the most powerful thing (and the only thing, sometimes) that I can control. I am fooling myself if I think I can do anything else; so I should focus on what I truly have full dominion over. Here are a few actions I can take:

1. Expand my connections. We tend to isolate, but this isn’t healthy.
“A friend is always a friend, and relatives are born to share our troubles.” (Prov. 17:17)

2. Believe you can handle anything with God.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

3. Avoid expecting the worse (“catastrophizing”).
“Lord, when doubt fills my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:19)

4. Practice self-care.

5. Seek self-discovery.
“We can also learn from insults and hard knocks.” (Lam. 3:30)

6. Practice gratitude.
“Plant your roots in Christ and let Him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” (Col. 2:7)

7. Decide that I am not held captive, and that nothing can destroy me.

“You have become ‘more than conquerors’ when you make your pain and scars serve YOU” – Kay Warren

Devotional: Dying for lack of knowledge

“The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” (1 Chron. 13:10)

There is a reason why God has given us His Word. It’s an instruction manual for life – all of its pitfalls, rewards, truths, and wisdom. Not consulting the instruction manual for you can result in unnecessary pain, losing your way, malfunction, inconsistent results, mishandling, and even death. I used to (and still do sometimes, but working on it) take God’s Word very lightly – only following it when it’s convenient, serves my own selfish nature, or if I want to look good in front of my kids or others. I need to treat it with more seriousness and commitment – or I will miss out on maximizing His blessings to me, enjoying the inheritances and promises given to me, staying clear of unfavorable circumstances, and experiencing the unconditional, all-powerful love and peace that transcends any thing else.

Devotional: Changing our paradigm

“While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.'” (Acts 10:19-20)

This story takes place at a time when it was against Jewish law for Peter and other Jews to associate with Gentiles. God needed to change Peter’s attitude about this, so He gave him a vision that gave him this permission and inspiration. Because of this, so many miracles were possible and so many people came to Christ.

Lord – today I am open to whatever you say and whatever you call me to do. I understand that my way of thinking can sometimes be remnants of my past life – one idolizing work, believing that I have to be the main provider, and that I know the best way to handle things; but I want extraordinary results – one that only You can allow me to experience, and one that I can only experience by being down for anything and everything You inspire me with.

SHAFT: Thank you so much for your donations!

You can read a little background on our nonprofit here

Hi All,

THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH to everyone who contributed to Operation Christmas Child so far! Your donations, prayers, encouragement, and sharing us with others are felt and are making a life-changing difference!

I wanted to send one more request for donations to buy the remaining items needed (we are about 60% complete) before we start planning the assembly of the 2,400 shoeboxes.


We and the kids wiping out the entire notebook supplies at over four Big Lots in the county!
If your family feels called to contribute – as much as you can now is appreciated, any dollar amount helps, and remember that your funds are tax-deductible.
You can easily send the funds these ways:
  1. Sending a Venmo to @shaftfoundation); sending a Chase QuickPay or Paypal to (; or sending a BillPay (please reply privately for address).
  2. Writing a check to SHAFT Foundation, Inc. (please reply privately for address).
  3. Depositing funds into our bank account at Chase Bank (our account number is 136626535).
The deadline for this to happen is next week, September 15th (in two weeks) – as we need to finish buying the necessities and toys, organizing them, assembling them, and sending them away by late-September.
The boys taking inventory of what we currently have.
We’d also love it if you could forward this to any friends, family members, and businesses that would like to help as well.
Thank you again for being a part of this mission that matters, and for caring about it dearly as we do. We and thousands of kids and their families who have benefitted from this initiative (and wil be benefitting!) appreciate you, too.
The Tran Family

The power of incremental progress

This was a great read for the morning, week, month, year, and life ahead in general.

My favorite takeaways:

People never follow through on their goals because they think about the big picture too much, and don’t focus on the daily, small, precise, digestible, actions needed to help them achieve great results. The big picture is scary and paralyzing – so people can’t do anything; and at the same time it is also vague and allows one to easily cop out – so people don’t do do anything.

“Consistent action coupled with time guarantees lasting progress. Small improvements add up to massive differences. Compounding works in other areas besides money.”

You don’t have to take massive action for massive results. You just need to take a step that’s seemingly laughable, achievable, and builds confidence; and when you make the step very easy, don’t rush it either by trying to steps a ton of steps at once. It’s not sustainable and will most likely lead to a halt.

Just make it a part of your every day routine and take assurance that transformation is happening, even when you don’t see it. You never see it coming, and that’s the way it should be.

“Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE.” – Darren Hardy

Don’t focus on the outcome and the big breakthrough; concentrate on your small actions. The former will be the natural, inevitable byproduct.

Big goals require momentum, and momentum can’t happen unless you start small and build your muscle, consistency, and capacity.

Realization: Why I haven’t blogged consistently

I love writing. Not sure if I’m any good – but that doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to go by anybody’s standard but mine; and it has saved my life, expanded thoughts, kept me sane, inspired me, kept me focused, and opened up a dialogue with God.

There was a lack of blog post activity over the last few weeks. I’ve continued to write in my Day One journal almost every day – but I’ve realized the reason why they haven’t made it onto my blog.

One thing I used to do on my blog posts was to categorize them with key word tags; and while I hated doing it, I felt like I needed to do it in order to have “blog etiquette.”

I am not doing that any longer. It doesn’t honor the goals I expressed on the first paragraph – it prevented me from sharing what I love doing; I don’t need to meet any standards of blogging; and tagging and organizing has nothing to do with achieving focus, clarity, inspiration, sanity, and salvation.

Bam. The bottleneck has been eliminated.

Makes me think about what else I’m putting off because of some kink I can eliminate because it doesn’t matter…

Devotional: Turn, turn, turn

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

Lord – thank You for another reminder (and I’ll ALWAYS need another one) that life is short. Like Francis Chan explains in his rope example – it’s only the tip of a rope as long as the circumference of the world (it’s actually infinite, but just for scale).

I need to make the most of it, make it count, and do what matters.

Today’s devotional talks about how the world seems to (key phrase “seems to”) turn so slowly that you don’t even notice it at that moment; but the clock is definitely ticking, you will look up and see how much as past you, and you are either taking steps to move forward in the direction you are called, or you are moving backward.

Even if you decide to take no action, you are by default going backward.

“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men!” (Psalms 89:47)

A great focuser for the short week.

Devotional: Free to stand

“That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies…” – Joshua 7:12

Today’s devotional hit home for me. You can have the best laid plans, the best people on your team, the best rituals to achieving a goal…but can still fail, if the battle isn’t in God’s will for you, but more importantly – if there is a break in your armor.

The above verse talks about how the Israelites were defeated by the Amorites – when they were certain they could win, and had every advantage on their side…except their spiritual purity. And because they didn’t have that, they didn’t have God – the most important weapon in their arsenal, and the only thing needed to win.

It makes me reflect on all of my best laid plans for my wife, my kids, my businesses…and there are times when I am impatient and lacking faith, I think/say/do horrible things that God would not approve of…and I need to fix these breaches before I go into battle.

Lord – help me do this by staying in Your Word, being in constant connection with you, cutting off unhealthy/negative/ineffective/wrong thoughts and behaviors, and by always saying/doing things in love.

Devotional: Love one another

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

We have so many things going on in our lives – bills that need paying; kids to be fed/clothed/taught/cared for; household chores to complete; people to meet; errands to run; work to carry out; and the list goes on. It can make one feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, agitated, behind, and hopeless.

These to-do’s are important; but checkmarks, accomplishments, possessions, and every other aspect of life are secondary – nothing, even – if there is no love. It’s the most important thing, and the only thing that matters. I desire to remember this as I’m doing all these crazy things, and are at risk of losing sight of what God commands as most critical to make my life count.

“And now these three remain: faith, hop, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (Cor. 13:13)