Saturday, July 31, 2010

Crushing Pride with the Weight of His Glory

Leadership. It's cool. Or so I thought.

"Hey Josh, Congrats on being Chair!" someone would say.

I think to myself, a bit confused. Having barely started, I wonder where the praise comes from. A few years back, I thought it would be so very cool to be Chair of CCF. I greatly admired the past chairs and wanted to be admired myself. Pride. Yes, I was quite arrogant (and am still working on this).

More recently, my perspective on this whole endeavor has changed. By signing up for this position, I'm committing to "take up my cross", to following Jesus Christ with complete dedication. It wasn't easy for Jesus to take up the cross, to bear the shame, to receive our sins and the pain, to suffer and to see his best friends betray him. It isn't easy for today's Christian leader to take up their cross, to be wrongfully accused, to face disappointment, to be open to attack, vulnerable. It's really tough.

I'm not immune to pride. It's something I still wrestle with. However, with my particular calling as Chair for this upcoming year, any pride that may have risen has been crushed by the weight of God's glory. Yes, I'm proud to serve God and feel quite honored to serve in this capacity. However, I'm painfully aware of my inadequacies and weaknesses. And scared of the path that I must walk. To truly take up my cross and follow Jesus, wherever He leads me.

The call to leadership is heavy. As time passes, I'm growing more aware of my responsibilities to God and to others.

I will close this post with the Jesus Creed:
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.
In this next season of my life, I need to be wholeheartedly devoted to loving God and loving others, truly. I will pursue this with a single-minded intensity.

P.S. Today is Day 1 of N of No Coffee (Day 1 = Aug 1, 2010). Guess N. Do you think N can reach 365?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Intensity of Love

"I love you." What does this three word statement mean to you?

This past weekend, I was with the Iron Dragons in Montreal. As a coach, I don't paddle - so why was I there? I wasn't even drumming nor steering. Just coming along to support the team. The answer is quite simple: because I love them. Explaining this love to its fullest is difficult in words. But to give you an idea, here are a few examples. At the beginning of the season, I was considering joining another team to paddle. I wanted to get stronger, become a better coach, and quite simply, I loved being on the water. I joined that team for the first race and had so much fun. But time has been very precious for me this summer and I had to choose between paddling for another team or coaching the Iron Dragons (ID). I've only been on the team (ID) for 2 years, have barely any steering experience, and felt quite inadequate as a coach -- especially in light of the super awesomeness of our past coaches. As you may already know, I chose to coach and I love it! The joy and fun derived from this is ten times more amazing than if I were paddling for another team for my own pleasure. Seeing 20+ individuals go from engineers to athletes, seeing them smile and laugh, seeing them grow as friends ... it's hard to beat that. I get a taste of how giving is better than receiving.

I love the Iron Dragons. I love the team. I love my friends at CCF. I love my family. But I'm far from understanding what love really is. From grasping the intensity of love. The Holy Bible (Christianity) talks about this guy named, Jesus, fully God and fully man. Why? To die that you and I might live. Romans 5:1-8 tells about how God loves us so much that He died for us while we were still sinners. Now that's Intense Love!

In this world today, we have cheapened this four letter word into a commodity (l-o-v-e). But here, we see a picture of a God who loves us that He sent His own Son to die for us (John 3:16). Isaiah 53, especially verses 4-6, gives a graphic picture of what this Jesus did for you and me.

Am I trying to convert you to Christianity? Hmm ... I wouldn't say I'm trying to -- maybe I should. The intention of this discourse has been to give a reason for what I do. That I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Master ... my Sensei, if you will. And His love for me inspires me to love others. My love for others pales in comparison to His. My intensity, mild and weak(sauce). But it's this love that inspires me. That moves me into action. And drives whatever inner strength that I have.

What inspires you? What dictates the rhythm of your life? I'd love to hear your stories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living as if today was your last day

I've been sick lately. I don't know how sick. Maybe it's from all the beautiful coffee I've been drinking. But I've been reminded that I won't be living forever. A thought crossed through my mind that I might actually die. And then, my heart sank. I thought about everything I would be missing. I thought about how it would feel like. And so on ... a lot of deadly thoughts (no pun intended). Then I tried to think of the positives .. if any existed. What if today was my last day (like Nickelback's song)? So for anyone who's reading this, here's a question I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts to:
What would you do (or want or say or think or whatever...) if today was your last day?
For me, I'd like to make as many people smile as much as possible. I wonder what it would look like if I lived as if today was my last day, everyday. If, everyday, I sought to bring joy to those around me, whether through a smile, a listening ear, or just helping out.

(Excerpt from journal, 2010-07-23)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out of identity comes destiny

Calling. How do you know if you're called to be somewhere, to be someone, ...? I was reading an article today in the Star about lawyers and thought about a career in law. Then I began to consider law as a career. Similar streams of thought would occur for medicine as well. And I begin to wonder if I would really enjoy law (or medicine). Would I enjoy practicing law, or am I attracted to the "idea" of being a lawyer? There is an important distinction between one's perception and reality. Do I see myself arguing for my clients? Poring through cases and researching a case? Do I see myself meeting people at their basic needs in human health and spending the time to learn about the human body? What is "the dream"? What is the main thing that I'm to pursue in life? I mean, beyond Jesus Christ and all ... or maybe, it's just as simple as that. Maybe I don't need to worry about the particularities and simply "trust in the LORD with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding" (Prov 3:5). And perhaps, from there, everything else flows. Out of identity comes destiny. At present, this is very much abstract and a work in progress. I'd be interested to hear about your dreams and where you are in your own life journey.

(excerpt from my personal journal)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two questions

Recently, I have been wrestling with two questions:
  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I going?
What am I good at? What is my calling? What am I made for? What's my purpose in life?

These questions are examined in light of my work, career choices, research, relationships, and just life. Very often, I have allowed these externalities answer my life questions of identity and destiny. However, who I am should influence what I do, and not the other way around. My life should be missional and my vision laser-focused.

This probably goes without saying, but there are two types of lights: lasers and light bulbs. Light bulbs illuminate the entire room, its energy dispersed throughout the room. A laser's energy is focused on one spot, with enough energy to cut through metal. There are times when we have to be light bulbs and other times when we have to be lasers. When having a discussion with a close friend, being a laser can make it hard for you to understand the other person. However, with your life mission, being a light bulb can seem like you're doing a lot (lighting the entire room), but having no real impact at all. I believe things like your life mission need to be like lasers. Your passion, your calling, or whatever you call it ... takes work. And requires persistence. Courage. Consistency. Dedication.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says,

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.