Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Wilderness

Manhood. It's a long journey. It requires courage. Endurance. Staying power.
Much of this is developed in the wilderness. In times of trial. Uncertainty.
The Wilderness is a place of necessity. Where every boy goes through to become a man.
The wilderness is where your faith is put to the test.

There will be doubt. There will be temptation. There will be fear.
For each of these, there is faith, hope, and love.
The point of decision, the critical moment when the boy becomes a man, is when he decides to
Choose this day whom you will serve
Choose your allegiance.

God put Moses and the people of Israel through the Wilderness.
Jesus spent time in the Wilderness.
The Wilderness is where a man, in search of his identity, grows in maturity.
The key decision that marks a man is how he answers the question:

How can I make the most of the Wilderness?

The Wilderness is where dreams are born. Visions casted. Courage forged.
We each have a Wilderness that we must go through.
The decisions during the difficult times shape the future man.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who Am I?

Recently, I have been thinking about my identity. Who am I? What was I meant to be? What is my purpose? Do I have one? And if I do, how specific is it?

In "The Cure for the Common Life", Max Lucado talks about how we all have a God-given passion. Things that excite us and fill us with energy. What is my passion?

I have a personal dilemma. I grew up always wanting to be a medical doctor. This was my dream. Not my parents. Not society's. This was something I wanted. As time passed, life happened. Opportunities, financial constraints, and perhaps even a lack of focus and clarity of vision has led me to where I am now. I have an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science, specializing in Infrastructure Engineering. And now I'm en route to finish a Masters of Applied Science in Urban Transportation Planning from the Department of Civil Engineering. How I ended up here, I don't know. From medical doctor to transportation planner. Interesting, to say the least.

I still wonder about medicine. I volunteer at a hospital. I read through the MCAT books on occasion. And I read broadly. What I know for sure is that I cannot keep haphazardly trying different things. It's like not knowing which investment to choose and throwing a lot of money everywhere. Rather, I need to find that investment (or those few investments) by either doing my research or start by investing a bit in a lot. However, I won't gain any significant ROI simply by putting a bit randomly. A larger investment is needed. Similarly, if I want to succeed in anything (medicine, transportation, or whatever else), I need to be laser focused. I need to commit. During the holidays, I saw this quote that said something along the lines that commitment gives the foundation for endurance.

And this brings me to the subject of endurance. How does one endure? Endurance comes from a deep rooted commitment. And where does this commitment to a purpose comes from? I believe this comes from an understanding of your identity, of who you are, and what you were made to be. Knowing who you are is essential and provides the foundation for staying power. To have the endurance that keeps at it, nevertheless.

This morning, our family went to the Bridge, a local community church. Through the message, I found some hints to discovering who I am. The message was titled "Imagine a New Beginning". The four key points were:
- Forget
- Prepare (your hearts)
- Trust (God)
- Act

Maybe forgetting means forgetting the childhood dreams. Maybe forgetting means to leave behind the failures of the past. Or maybe it's simpler.

The pastor left us with the story of Joshua. He reminded us of God's provision for us. In Joshua 4, God commanded them to take 12 smooth stones from the river to remember what God has done. Maybe that's what I need. I need to remember that God is good. While I am confused, God's got my back.

Should I study to be a doctor? Should I keep studying transportation? These questions, while important, are not urgent. The more important and pressing question is this: Will I make the most of what I have? What you have is not as important as what you do with what you have. The answer is a resounding yes. And from there, I need to see what I have in front of me. And from there, I need to act - to make the most of what I have in front of me.

So if you're wondering about your identity, wondering what to do next, here are the key points that I'm working on in my life.
- Will I make the most of what I have in life?
- If yes, then what are the opportunities, gifts, talents, that God has blessed in front of me?
- How can I make the most of these things?

Comments? Thoughts? I'd love to hear about your stories. Post up or message me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Time of Renewal

Renewal is a part of life. Things must die to allow for new growth. There are the seasons of plants. Animals giving birth to their babies. The "circle of life". Similarly, people also experience times of renewal within a lifetime. Times of physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual renewal. Times of refreshing.

For me, I have been going through a time of renewal. Primarily a spiritual renewal, but bringing times of refreshing to every part of my life. This verse from the Holy Bible comes to mind:

Acts 3:19 "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord"

Things must die to allow for new growth. For me, it was primarily sin. Sinful thoughts. Sinful relationships. Sinful attitudes. Sin being traditionally defined as "anything we say, think or do that breaks God's law". God was calling me to a time of renewal. He wanted to pour out His Holy Spirit on me. But according to A.W. Tozer, being filled with the Spirit means you need to want the Holy Spirit over the Selfish Spirit. Yes, there are multitudes of blessings to be had for the Spirit-filled believer; but are you willing to relinquish your rights to yourself and let your thoughts, words, and actions be ruled by someone else? Can you surrender? That was the hardest question for me. One that I had to face and something that I wrestle with day by day.

Accountability refers to responsibility. To an obligation to another. To aspire higher, I have begun to seek the help of others in this journey. Those who I have asked to keep me accountable, ask me two questions:
1. Are there things in your life that is taking you away from God? (Distractions)
2. Are you spending time with God? (Relationship)

Another set of accountability questions used by a pastor I met in Seattle are as follows:

Weekly Accountability Questions:
  1. Have you been involved in any inappropriate relationships?
  2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
  3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
  4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
  5. Have you given priority time to your family?
  6. Have you faithfully served God?
  7. Have you just lied?
These are hard hitting questions. Not for the faint-hearted. I aspire to the love Maria from the Sound of Music spoke of. In answering one of the children's question how she (Maria) knew that she loved father, Maria replied that she started thinking more of him than herself. Thinking of his needs over hers. A love that consumes your thoughts.

I recently picked up C.S. Lewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy. I hope to learn from the great thinkers of the past. Those who have walked before me. To follow in the footsteps of giants.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dec 11 Workout


1 Peter 1:13-19: On being holy

Reflections after Friday morning Prayer Meeting:

As more of a follow-up sharing (which I would be excited to hear from you guys as well), I was doing some reflection tonight while working out. I was reading from 1 Peter 1 and reminded of the importance of holiness. A call to be set apart. To not be ashamed of my identity as a Christian. Since we have an everlasting inheritance. An investment that can only "appreciate" in value ... no risk :D Anyways, for those who have it in mind, I ask that you check in on me too - and I welcome accountability of any sort, even if it may "offend". I really enjoyed my morning with you all and look forward to seeing you all soon :) -Josh


Tabata Squats
14 - 14 - 14 - 14 - 14 - 14 - 14 - 14
Score: 14 (132)

Ab Roller (knees)
10 - 30 - 20 - 20 - 20

Triceps Press (25#)
20 - 10 - 20 - 20 - 20 - 10

Dumbbell Bench Press (weight/reps) + Leg Raises
20#/10 + 10
25#/20 + 20
25#/20 + 20
25#/10 + 50

Social / Emotional

D'Arcy 69 House Party: Yesterday (Dec 10), we had a house party! It was a lot of fun and we had friends over. We enjoyed some food and desserts. I made some red bean and bean curd drinks with tapioca and coconut milk. We also made fried green onion cake and dumplings. Nick made lemon squares - which were amazing! Hannah brought a cheesecake =) And we also had some dip (Jon's special recipe). As for the guests, they were from our house and friends from around. I was quite happy with the turnout, given that we're still in the middle of exams. I hope all who came out had a great time and enjoyed the break from their exams. Honorable mention to Debbie who gets the award for the superhuman ability to study in any environment!

State of Mind: It's quite hard to just talk about my social / emotional state without talking about other dimensions of my fitness. I would say that my fitness has been developing overall and that my emotional wellness and steadiness is growing and rooted in who I am in Jesus. It is also affected by how I take care of my body (eating and working out). Finally, I'm a lot happier when I'm on top of my academic work. One thing to gather from all this is that my social / emotional "state" comes from a balance of overall "fitness". This state is a "fruit" of health in other dimensions of my life.

Intellectual / Mental

This semester has been quite the adventure! I really enjoy grad school: the research, the courses, and the friends. This semester I took three courses:

CIV1307: Evaluating Sustainability in Engineering Activities
- This course focuses on lectures on quantifying environmental impacts and integrating environmental assessments with governance.
- The evaluation focuses on a research project, which is fairly flexible. The course breakdown is 10% Article Review, 20% Research Proposal, and 20% Oral Presentation + 50% Final Report.
- My research project proposed a model for risk disaggregation: STDAR, Space-Time Disaggregate Approach to Risk. This model was applied to air quality and ultimately seeks to understand the influence of health risks to travel behavior.

CIV1310: Infrastructure Economics
- A fantastic course and great prof!
- Evaluation: 30% Assignments, 70% Final Exam
- The quantitative analysis is fairly straightforward. Concepts need a bit of time to sink in.
- The readings have opened up my mind to the complex issues in society. Understanding welfare and urban economics, discussing the context of our economy in terms of our biosphere, learning the intricacies of microeconomics, understanding basic econometric models to represent our economy. All these have served to help me develop a better understanding of my role as a researcher, engineer, and whatever else may come my way.

CIV1504: Applied Probability and Statistics for Engineers
- Evaluation: 20% Assignments, 20% Midterm, 30% Project, 30% Final Exam
- Course material reviews undergraduate statistics and goes more in depth in other areas, such as Monte Carlo simulations, General Linear Regression, and Maximum Likelihood Estimation.
- The course project allows you to explore a subject of your choice in greater detail. My partner and I looked at an application of an econometric model to travel demand modeling: stochastic frontier analysis
- In brief, frontier analysis aims to estimate maximum production / minimal costs of a firm given a set of inputs. The stochastic part of the analysis allows the model to accommodate for random effects. This contrasts with the mathematical programming approach: Data Envelopment Analysis.
- We applied Stochastic Frontier Analysis to estimate an individual's "Space-Time Prism", estimating their earliest possible departure, and latest arrival, given their actual departures/arrivals and socio-economic characteristics
- This work emulates work done by other researchers (Kitamura, Pendyala, and others). This analysis is conducted using panel data from the GTA

Final thoughts:

I'm not quite done yet. I have my Stats Project and Econ Final upcoming. I have also been thinking about after grad school: PhD? MD? JD? Work? And what I have come to terms with so far is this: that I will put one foot in front of the other. Taking one step at a time in this journey of life. Embracing each opportunity that comes my way. And in all things, to "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33, New King James Version, Holy Bible)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Copy of my vision for CCF 2009-10

Vision: Developing the Cutting Edge

Key Verse: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Why? The essence of Christianity is to know God and make Him known. (Matthew 22:37-40)

  • Knowing God: dedicated Bible study, reading, and meditation, and prayer.
    • How are you doing in your pursuit of God?
  • Making Him known: to Christians and non-Christians, in our love, actions, and words.
    • How are you doing in loving others as yourself?

Why develop the Cutting Edge?

  • So that we have the “missional edge” (Ooi, 2009), individually, and as a body of Christ, always being ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15)
  • In spurring each other on and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:19-25)
  • To run the race set before us, with perseverance, being laser focused on the joy set before us through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3)

How do we develop the Cutting Edge?

  • By exposing ourselves to an incredibly sharp sword: God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12)
  • By growing in community, challenging each other, praying for each other, encouraging one another, loving one another, … sharpening one another(Proverbs 27:17)

Applying the Vision

  • Develop our relationship with God and with one another
  • Relationship with God: Prayer and the Bible. Partnering with Bible Study leaders to facilitate solid spiritual growth and equipping CCFers with the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • Relationship with one another: Investment groups, discipleship groups (1-on-1, 1-n, small group settings), mentorship, subcommittees, small group leader accountability.
  • Unity: Committee – unity in vision / purpose, regular review of leaders’ visions and goals, accountability. Unity of CCF, U of T, and local campuses. Partnering together to develop the cutting edge of the Gospel.
  • Leadership Training: Summer retreat for all leaders (current, future, and interested, at all capacities), other training as needed, continual follow-up

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Extraordinary Love

For a while, I have been struggling with my faith. In short, I've been struggling with why I am a Christian. These struggles have been a source of tremendous stress for me. See, this upcoming year, I'll be vice-chair of CCF. And here I am wondering why I signed up for this gig in the first place. The thought of being vice-chair seemed like such a chore. In short, the feeling was gone. I just didn't have the passion for CCF anymore, I thought. While this was true, my passion in general was fading. The real problem was my attitude towards God. Some say that our view of God dictates how you live your life.

Then it struck me. In the midst of all my intellectual and emotional struggles, I was reminded of God's love for me. Mind you, it wasn't an instant strike - but a developing realization that:
- the God of the Universe loves me so much
- by myself, I am nothing and without Jesus Christ, my destiny is certain death
- I had no peace as I grew more distant from my Heavenly Father
- I can only do so much on my own
- and that God's love is extravagant ...

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8

I look back at my past. And I can tell you that it doesn't look pretty. I look back and I see pride rooted in selfishness, sexual lust that degrades others, anger and bitterness that rots away within me and hurts others, cutting words that pierce those closest to me, and an apathy that leads to utter negligence. My past is pretty shitty. Yes, "very bad", as Wiktionary says.

I then look at who God is. And if He is indeed holy, pure, all-powerful and just ... I'd be in big trouble. "For the wages of sin is death...", as the first part of Romans 6:23 reads. And this death is an eternal one. But not only in the "afterlife", but also in this present life. Sin has consequences here in this life too.

The second part of this verse reads: "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I don't have a clear explanation of why I believe; by that I mean that I don't have an explanation that is completely logically connected. However, it's the most logical belief system I can find.

Further, I find my relationship with Jesus Christ very satisfying. It's just better. Better than what this life has to offer. I'm happier and excited again! My hope restored. My eternity secured. And learning to live by the Spirit, day by day.

What happens if I lose that feeling again? I will remind myself of my first love. Of the one who gave His life for me. The closest analogy of how I feel is how a peasant would feel if his king laid his life down to save the peasant's life. Except, I'm lowlier than a peasant and God's much greater than the king. And finally, losing the feeling is akin to losing the feeling in a marriage. It happens. But I know that I'm growing up. Maturing. That with each passing day, my love and character matures in the likeness of my Master.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beating Bronze!

Hey! So yesterday ... I went to Hart House with my brother. We both did the Hart House circuit. It was his first time doing it and he did quite well. As for me, I did the Bronze level and have never beat it before. Yesterday (July 13) was the first time ever that I beat that level with a time of 27:12 (the cutoff is 28 min). Of course, before I can move to the next level, I need to beat this level consistently.

The key things that helped me beat this level were:
1. Practicing pull-ups. I would usually get stuck will pull-ups, being really exhausted. This was one of my weakpoints.
2. Powering through burpees. From pushups to burpees, right away. In the past, burpees have been the other main weakpoint of mine. Key areas of development for me are my legs and upper body / arms. I believe that if I develop a lot more strength / endurance / stamina in my legs and core, I will be a lot more competitive during our team runs.

As I saw my time on my last set of dips, I knew I could beat bronze and got really pumped! I'm going again this Wednesday to give it another go.

Beating Bronze for the first time gave me incredible motivation. Intro I/II could be beaten by me easily without much work. However, with Bronze, all my teammates were putting in the effort and going to Silver - one even beat Gold! At the end of the day, hard work always trumps talent, right Naruto?

So in the meanwhile, before moving on to Silver, I'm going to look forward to giving Bronze a good whooping, to pay it back for all the times it has destroyed me and left me utterly wasted.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waking Up

In his book, Tender Warrior, Stu Weber opens the book talking about the wake-up call. Often we are called to do certain things, to get moving, to start working, to work harder, to move outside our comfort zone. Or in the context of the book, the call to be a real man. And often times, we like to press the snooze button on life. We like to procrastinate. We don't want to grow up and start accepting responsibility. And please note, when I say we, I really mean me. However, often when I talk about me, it also benefits we.

Anyways, suffice to say, I'm done pressing the snooze button. I've slept in quite a bit and have atrophying muscles. I need to train myself again. Reading the Bible. Devoting myself to prayer. Practicing Biblical love. Eating properly. Strengthening my physical body. Keeping my room clean and taking care of chores. Taking care of myself and those around me. The thing about a wake-up call is that it calls you to wake-up and expend energy. At my current maturity, I have to go out of my way and be intentional if I want to "be a man".

I'm done with living a life of mediocrity. I'm going to give my best in all I do. What if I fall? I'll just get up and keep going. And in all things, put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. While I have this temporary motivation, I find that human nature makes this unsustainable.

God, today, I choose, to follow you. To get to know you. Living a life of obedience. No longer obeying the desires of my flesh (lust, laziness, pride, greed...), but obeying the desires of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control). I ask for strength for myself and for all those who desire you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2009

[Leadership] Inspiring the Next Generation

I have long been interested in the concept of "leadership". Leadership is such an ambiguous term, and while usually understood in the mind, leadership is seldom understood in practice. I am without exception.

I am Christian and go to CCF regularly. There I heard one of my favorite definitions of leadership: leadership is following Jesus and inspiring others to do the same (Clayton, 2008). This simple definition is basically defining leadership as "leading by example" in the Christian context. By submitting to a common vision, you inspire others to do the same. I will share a bit about my experience with inspirational leadership - starting with a "not-so-good" example, followed by a "work-in-progress" example. I invite you (readers) to share your own stories.

I have recently joined the Iron Dragons (U of T Engineering Dragonboat Team). Going into the season, I was really hyped up and still am very excited. I love the team more than I can express in words. It's been 3 summers since I was last on the team (due to my internship in Seattle). Coming back in my final year, I am now more senior and feel I can take a leadership role (not management per se, but being a good example - i.e. attendance, hard work, dedication, enthusiam ...). In the midst of all this has been some personal issues involving a mix of priorities (work, school, and family). As a result, I have been missing a riduculous number of practices and will continue to miss them due to these unexpected priorities that have arisen. I love the team very much and want to help bring the team together. However, given my current situation, I cannot be that "good example" that I wanted to be. Nevertheless, I still plan to attend the races, practices (when I can), and car washes to support the team as best as possible. Also, in terms of the team direction, I only worry because I love the team so much :) But in terms of actual need, I believe ID is in good hands, managed well, and has a strong team.

A little "better" example is my leadership in personal fitness around my personal circle of influence. During my internship in Seattle, my active lifestyle help inspire others to get active and remain active (including working out with a good friend and helping friends complete a several running events). Returning from Seattle, I continued this lifestyle and continued to "preach" active living through my actions. My personal circle included CCF, where I helped motivate people to run, workout, and achieve other goals. More recently, I have been spending more time at home and helping around the house. As I have been developing as a leader and helping others reach their personal best, I began to also develop a strong desire to apply my developing leadership skills to those who matter to me most: my family. We often don't think of applying our skills to our family. Often, we take them for granted.

I have been moving in (Lee, 2005) with my focus: from coworkers, to friends, to family. The "vision" for CCF in 2005-2006 was "Move in, Move out". My inward focus is to focus on those that matter to me most. It is not to say that I ignore those in my outer circles. However, I need to make sure that I do not neglect my inner circle. Moving in / out is about a balance of focus. A fitness example is working out the core. You cannot neglect this. However, doesn't mean you don't do other exercises or activities; but sometimes we need to get back to the basics: core workouts, squats, deadlifts, pullups, pushups, and eating properly. Returning to the basics helps us refine our skills in other areas. For me, returning to the basics is similar to my focus on my family.

I call this type of focus Redeeming the Time. This is taken from the Christian Bible, which talks about redeeming the time (Col 4:5, NKJV). For me, this phrase means to make the most of your time and not wasting time because time is so precious.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

[Dragonboat] The Inner Metronome

I grew up as a classically trained musician. I have played in quartets and orchestras as a violinist / violist. One of the most important things in music is Time. We need to be on the right beat. We need to feel the rhythm.

In a quartet, everyone needs to be one - breathing together, playing together, knowing each other's parts and anticipating the music. (Of course, we must train so that we are also in tune and musical - but that's for another entry).

In dragonboat terminology, we call this: staying in sync.

The Importance of Sync

This doesn't even need an explanation. "Sync" refers to a team's ability to paddle together. In a boat with 20 paddlers, it is important that paddles enter / exit the water together, that paddlers move according to a common rhythm, following the inner metronome.

Problem Definition: Orchestra

In an orchestra, there are various musicians and one conductor. The conduct sets the direction for the beat, the musicality, and acts as the cohesive force between the different musicians. In sections such as the violas (*cough), there are 8-12 violists. Towards the back, we tend to follow those in front of us. At times we are lazy and don't follow the true rhythm and just "copy" those in front of us. What ends up happening is that everyone is slightly off - time delay, reaction speed, etc. This leads to a problem commonly known in dragonboat terms as: caterpillar. Like a caterpillar, the paddles move one by one, starting from the front pair, and moving to the back.

The solution to this in an orchestra is simple: "everyone, follow the conductor!" However, dragonboating doesn't have a "conductor" and hence everyone must be following the same metronome inside of their body. String quartets provide a good analogy to learn about "sync" as quartets also don't have conductors.

Solution Approach: Learning from the Quartet

When I was in "band camp", I played with a few other musicians in a string quartet (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello).  Everyone had their own parts and we had to be aware of everyone else's parts. We had to be tight. We needed to be able to anticipate each other's movements, breathings, and playing. There needs to be synergy

One thing we tried was to play by facing away from each other. (Usually, we would all face each other, give each other eye cues, etc.) By facing away, we were essentially playing "blindfolded". Like Daredevil, by being "blind", our other sensed were sharpened. We started listening to each other more acutely, and more importantly, developed a greater sensitivity to the inner metronome. Not the inner metronome of each person, but of the quartet and of the piece we were playing.

I suggested this analogy to one of our dragonboat coaches (which he tried next week). It was pretty cool to see it applied for the first time (i.e. paddling together with our eyes closed). I believe that these drills can be refined to sharpen various sensory perceptions. And in developing a championship team, we will be both strong and sensitive (sensitive to the inner metronome and moving as one).

Concluding Thoughts

This is one of many possible analogies from music. There are other analogies from various disciplines of study that we can learn from. For example, my studies and my personal fitness are very connected. The key takeaways in paddling with closed eyes are:
- an increased awareness of our other sensory perceptions and our environment
- a developed dependence on the boat's inner rhythm, finding that rhythm, and staying in sync with it.
Of course, we paddle with our eyes open. So when race day comes, we'll be dragonboat ninjas!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

[UTCCF] Leadership Retreats

How do we develop new leaders? Why do I need to lead / serve? What areas do I need to develop as a leader / individual? What is my calling / purpose and how does it fit into the big picture?

How Leadership Retreat fits in:
UTCCF's leadership retreats seek to provide one of many ways of addressing these questions. But first, I want to address some possible misconceptions.

1. Leadership Retreats are like other retreats. While the leadership retreats can be like previous retreats, the term "retreat" is meant to speak to the heart of what we do. That is, to create an environment where aspiring leaders can vision together, share ideas, and encourage each other. The "retreat" aspect comes from this being a time set-apart for leadership development and developing our visions.

2. Workshops are central to the retreats. Yes, there could be workshops. Yes, we're here to develop skills. However, these things are not central to the leadership retreats. The heart of leadership retreat is this: exploring and developing our spiritual gifts

The Idea:
1. Consistency: The retreats are meant to happen on a consistent basis and not just a one-time thing. This is to allow us to live and to learn (Jon Fung, 2009). To develop and encourage each other as leaders and to live it out in summer CCF, and in other events (planning, Bible studies, outreach).

2. 1+1>2: 1+1 can equal 3, 10, 100000, etc. The idea behind this is the power of synergy, that together, we can be so much more. It's a leadership principle. A business management principle. And also, inspired from the Bible. That we are all part of the Body. We are unique and varying in our abilities, gifts, and passions. There is power (i.e. 1+1>2) when we realize our common vision and purpose and unite together.

3. Applying 1+1>2: In the Leadership Retreats, we will have different leaders to lead different groups that focus on different parts of the Body. Some will be more focused on administration, others on prayer, others on listening / counseling, others on mentorship, others on planning, others on sports, ... and the list goes on. In these groups, participants will have opportunity to: 1. Explore their gifts, 2. Develop their gifts, and ultimately, 3. Exercise their gifts through commitment. 
Explore, Develop, Commit

1. Explore: different groups that may be of interest
2. Develop: your gifts/skills/passions through workshops, discussion groups, and leadership opportunities in summer CCF and preliminary planning for CCF 2009-2010.
3. Commit: to the Body of Christ. If that "Body" is CCF, contribute in developing and living out God's calling in your life through CCF.

Leadership Retreats are meant to contribute to developing the cutting edge. To help sharpen the individual (through the Word and Community), and together, to live out the cutting edge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sharp References :)
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running: A Vision for the Future

I'm at the computers in Gerstein after an afternoon run. I just finished church (Meeting House), Sunday school (TCBC, relationships), and lunch (Cantonese Fried Noodles, leftovers). I went for a jog and took a few laps around Queen's Park. What follows are some reflections during my run:

Law of Conservation in Running

Energy in = Energy out

As I was running, I was not feeling too good, pausing to walk every few minutes of running. This was shortly after my very "healthy" lunch. While I definitely enjoyed the food, I realized the impacts it had on my performance as a runner. I mean, not just intuitively, but I felt the impact it had. The key is this: it's not just about having energy to fuel your performance, but also about the quality of the energy. And this is contrasted to yesterday, where I had eggs and juice before my dragonboat workout. While I am not suggesting a particular diet, I would argue that eggs/juice is a "slightly" better combo than fried noodles. And I felt really great throughout the workout too - despite the rigor, intensity, and the soreness / tiredness after.

In the same way, in our lives, this law of conservation applies. What you feed yourself affects your performance. This applies to all areas. The habits you build as a student are related to your academic performance. The things you read or watch influence your thinking ("performance"). Reading quality literature vs reading not so good writing. Speaking of influence, the friends you expose yourself to often shape the way you think, behave, and talk. I jokingly tell my friends that I am very prone to peer pressure and fight it by choosing who to be influenced by. While this is not totally true, you become what you feed yourself. You plant an apple tree, you get apples - don't expect strawberries.

A Vision for the Future

As I was running, I was reflecting upon the imminent task ahead. Unless other things arise, I will be serving CCF as vice-chair for 2009-2010 ... and I am scared. I am worried that I will fail. Worried about this and that. And I continually entrust these fears and worries to my God. On the flip side, I am also very excited and fired up! There are so many leaders rising up. There is so much potential. There is a growing sense of unity - though pockets of disunity still exist. So anyways, the point is this: we're all growing and we are going to grow together.

The thought of Growing Together came to me as I was running. I was running by myself today, but others will join me. As I was running around Queen's Park, I began to pull back and just reflect. I noticed that there are just trees with no leaves - very barren. However, a closer look reveals many buds. These buds will eventually develop into beautiful flowers and leaves of multiple colors and shapes. And this is what gets me so excited: We are all on a journey together to develop our own cutting edge. Each of us has a unique purpose, a unique "color and shape", yet we are all part of one "sword". We have different "edges" but we have one common purpose. In the Christian context, that is to know God and make Him known (as my brother Jon would say).

And I began to imagine. To vision. To dream. That each week we run around Queen's Park, we would see these buds slowly develop into beautiful plants, fruits, and flowers. Each week we run, we will see each other get faster, build endurance, and grow in friendship. And each step we take in life, we will have the joy of seeing each other grow in maturity, beauty, and strength. And such is the joy that I have had a taste of, seeing CCF grow and develop, change and evolve, from when I was in 1st year (2004-2005), to now entering my 1st year in graduate studies.

It is my desire that these three will be preserved: unity, truth, and love.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hart House Circuits Log + Goals

Hart House Circuit Log (Updated: 15-Jul-2009):
Current Level: Bronze
Goal: Beat Silver by End of Summer!

2k Row:
3/09/2009: 7:27.6

Running Goal:
Qualify for Boston Marathon (3:10 for full marathon)
  • Required Pace: 4:31 min / km OR 7:19 min/mile
  • Hart House Lap: 38.8 s / lap
  • Athletic Centre: 54.3 s / lap (200 m)

Hart House Circuit (Intro 1, Intro 2, Bronze):
1. Track Laps* (2, 4, 6)
2. Pushups (8, 10, 15)
3. Burpees (10, 12, 14)
4. Stair Runs (4, 6, 8)
5. Situps (8, 10, 15)
6. Bench Steps (10, 15, 20)
7. Dips (4, 6, 9)
8. Chinups (4, 6, 9)
(7 laps = 1 km)

Minimum Times:
- Intro 1: 21 minutes
- Intro 2: 25 minutes
- Bronze: 28 minutes

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Benchmarks + goals


Pushups, Situps, Burpees: 50 reps
Beep test: 12
Bench: 200 lbs
Pull ups: 12
Lactic row (30lbs): 70 / 1 min
2:15 erg: 680 m
200 m sprint: 30 s
Squat: ..
Deadlift: ..
Cleans: ..

Results (January): (#improved, #needed to reach goal)
* = n/a

Pushups (max reps): 38 (*,-12)
Situps (max reps): 38 (*,-12)
Burpees (max reps): 38 (*,-12)
Beep test: 10-8, 9-0 (*, 2 levels)
Bench (max weight): 185 lbs (+40lbs,-15lbs)
Pullups (max reps): 11 (+4,-1_
Lactic Row: 72 (+28,+2)
2:15 erg (max dist): 676 (+32m,-4m)
200 m sprint: 33.9 s (*,-3.9s)