Trust with Obedience

A new year is upon us, and it’s time for me to review what happened in 2013. Before I review 2013’s tangible goals, I wanted touch up on a few themes that I discovered for this year. At the end of 2012, I felt this pending sensation that something was going to happen in 2013. I know, I know, every year I say, “This year is going to be it!” But to see where I was in 2011 and 2012, things had to go up from there, right? Yes, it did in many amazing ways! But throughout the entire year, even though both halves were split with its own sub theme, I feel what God has been teaching (and continue to do so) is trust with obedience. I felt there was something deep down in my heart—a desire planted so long ago by the Creator Himself—to do amazing things. And even when I wanted to push those amazing things aside, what I felt that was so hidden but so wanted to be revealed was this desire to do what my Father does. To finally use my own free will that He granted to do me to give it up and to follow Him.

I may have jokingly first wrote about the tangible goal list for 2013, but I soon realized how awesome it could be to accomplish then quickly recognize despite of these things of this list are good, I want to make sure I do them to honor my Creator and do life according to His will. I want to do the same thing with the list for 2014. I do not to complete all of them, instead I hope each one I can accomplish according to His ways. And if He tells me that this is something that He does not want for me, that I may immediately obey and trust that His way is always better than mine.

With that aside, let’s dive into 2013’s tangible goals!

  1. Write a tangible goal list. Always start the year with a win!
  2. Launch Even though it’s up, sadly I already want to redo it for one final time. It is complete for 2013, but it more or less made it back on the list for 2014.
  3. Create a photography/portfolio blog. Totally failed. The whole idea was to use the Twinwork platform I built for and create a portfolio blogging website for all of my photography. You know what’s even a bigger failure for me? I barely did any photography for the year.
  4. Learn 2 lead rifts in 3 keys on the guitar. I said a made an addendum during the first quarter update. I didn’t exactly learn to play lead, but I did increase my confidence in leading worship and just jamming with friends. Specifics aside, I think if my goal was to progress in music, I did just that, so I’m going to call this a win.
  5. Serve in at least one ministry at Newsong. More or less completed withing the first quarter of 2013 and it continued with the Muffin Ministry through the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
  6. Find and learn from at least one mentor. I couldn’t find one.  Pushed this goal to 2014.
  7. Find one person to mentor. I sort of found someone to mentor, but not really. Just like finding a mentor, this goal is also pushed to 2014.
  8. Post a story to once a month. Done! Though, there was one month that could be debatable. I did over 12 posts this year, so I’m calling it a win! I’m still planning on posting at least a story a month through 2014.
  9. Fly to Hawaii to see Joel (and Iron Man 3) to celebrate our 20th friendiversary. Totally happened! I even played on his worship team when I went out. We had so much fun!
  10. …And fly Joel out here to see Hillsong. This was also equally amazing. We ended up driving up north to visit a few friends… something very similar to what we did back in 2007. All too awesome!
  11. Build that new computer! Failed. I added this to 2014 for the sake of having it there, but it’s not a high priority. If God really wants me have this, He’ll deliver a way for it to happen 😉
  12. Buy that D800 & 105mm macro lens. Failed. I just didn’t shoot in 2013 and I honestly don’t believe I’ll be shooting much in 2014. I might pick up the 105mm macro lens if I somehow achieve all my financial goals for 2014, but this is no longer a priority. Chances are by the time I get back into photography, the D900 will be out. I can wait four years or so.
  13. Be her Adam for your Eve. I still have yet to write this story, but God definitely delivered on this goal when I least deserved it. This happened in the second half of the year and how He wrote this story for us was completely mind blowing. We’re still together, yet apart (she’s teaching in Spain during the 2013-2014 school year). Though, I can’t say she will be my life long partner, but she is definitely somebody special that I want to explore that question with.

So I was 8 for 13 for the year. God definitely did good. I trust in Him that He will top all of this in 2014. I already sense it’s going to be a different year, but I definitely want to see what He will do to stretch and grow me. I pray that I will always run to Him no matter what trials I find myself in.

Live an amazing life to always glorify God’s mighty name! Have a great 2014!

P.S. Just like last year, I’m kicking off 2014 alone, and I’m okay with that. I’m sure this will be a rare occurrence in the future.

Fourteen Tangible Goals for 2014

Well, it’s actually 13. In a nearly identical fashion for this year’s list, I crafted (maybe a bit too hastily) yet another tangible goal list for the upcoming new year.

Tangible Goal List for 2014


I know I still need to give an update how last year’s list is going. In short, I didn’t complete it, but it doesn’t matter because God showed me and blessed with so much more than I could ever want in a single year. At the of 2012, there was an outward-growth tone that I sensed. Nearing the end of 2013, I feel the growth is far more inward and I feel God will be challenging me in new ways where I have no choice but to keep Him close and carry an unshakable faith through this year. I’m a bit scared but curious. I don’t know 2014 will bring, but nonetheless I wrote this list and give it all to Him.

1. Write a tangible goal list for 2014.

Great! I’m off to a good start and it’s not even January yet!

2. Visit your girlfriend in Spain!

I know, I know, a lots happened since the last story about chasing after the 13th tangible goal of 2013. But let’s just say God keeps his promises and pours out His blessings in such beautiful and surprising ways. Anyway, she’s currently teaching in Spain for a year, and visiting her (also my first time leaving the country) is definitely on my tangible goal list.

3. Pay off your credit cards and don’t ever carry any revolving debt at any point this year!

At the end of 2012, I managed to pay off all my credit cards (just two) and start 2013 pretty new! It felt awesome and I had the best of intentions to keep myself debt free.1 But my spending quickly got out of hand. I had to pay for some major dental work. I ended up getting a new prescription for my glasses and contacts. For some strange reason I wanted to buy a couple of new suits even though I rarely ever have a need for suits. I bought a pair of hand made Italian shoes. I also found myself constantly going out with friends and doing things. That was definitely a contrast to last year where I spent majority if not all of my days on my own.

The first part of this goal should be easy to hit. I originally intend to be debt free by the end of 2013, but I fell short for about a month. The question is will I be able to stay debt free through the rest of the year?

4. Pay yourself first—at least 10% of all income goes to savings (after your tithe)

This should be pretty easy after being credit card debt free. God let’s me keep 90%. Right after that, I want to put the second 10% directly to savings. My real goal is to get my savings (since it’s my most liquid account) so that I have 6 months worth of living expenses. I originally wanted to do that this year, but that would mean I would have to cut my living expenses by at least half for all of 2014 to make that goal. I already made a lot of cuts (and I could do more) in the last three months. A side goal to this would be to get 3 months worth of living expenses to go to savings.

5. Contribute a minimum of $50/mo to your ROTH IRA

I must be a grown up now. I have both a 401k and a ROTH IRA! By the way, I wish I knew about the advantages of a ROTH IRA when I got my first job so many years ago. Fifty bucks a month isn’t much, but it’s definitely $50 more a month than this year. Ideally, I would like to max it out for the year ($5500), but let’s take it one step at a time.

6. Find a mentor

Just like last year. I still haven’t found one yet. Maybe 2014 will be the year for me to find someone who’s willing to mentor me! 🙂

7. Find a mentee

I sort of found on this year, but not really. Though… I could probably find one through the next tangible goal…

8. Be part of another ministry at Newsong

I was part of the Muffin Ministry this year as well as the morning prayer ministry, but during this period of “inward growth” I took a step back and I still want to find ministry I can be consistently a part of. I’m hoping nothing on the level of leading any ministry, but something more personal.

9. Collaborate with Mark to launch the first phase of Inspire Ave

I’ve been looking for a partner to build some kind of cool app or something. Turns out the guy found me at the start of the summer. We’re planning on building something that could change the outlook of finance. I can’t go into details yet, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it here and there on this blog mainly because Inspire Ave is Kingdom focus.

The first phase of the project consists of launching a marketable website, the RESTful API, and prototype mobile app (most likely HTML5-based for the prototyping). This is completely doable even with my current full-time job.

10. Visit my dad at least once every six weeks.

It was once a month, but considering I only see him and his wife on major holidays, I think once ever a six weeks is a pretty good start.

My dad an I haven’t been very close. I had this feeling over the summer that I should forgive as I grew up without him. God also (strongly) nudged me that I need to honor him despite his past (this goes the same for my mom). In 2014 I want to make the small steps to do just that. I don’t know what it means to honor your parents, but if it’s nothing like honoring God, it’s time.

11. Relaunch (yup, again) using WordPress instead of your custom platform.

So I did launch very early on this year with this platform I wrote using the Yii framework. So many things happened that I just couldn’t complete it. It was supposed to be something along the lines of a tech blogging platform. There so many of those, there really is no point  keep writing it. That’s why I want to finally give up my goal of creating a self-evolving blog that is and just use WordPress (which uses).

Though, the Twinwork Platform is not a complete lost. I just finished organizing the components and it’s going to be used for Inspire Ave.

12. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile and keep it current for every project you complete

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile, but I have this eerie feeling that I’ll be glad I complete this goal very early in 2014 that later.

13. Upgrade your computer gear! (this will be the year, really!)

Yup, I failed at this for 2013, but it’s here again for 2014! Honestly, most of this list is finance related, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is pushed off for 2015. But it’s here just in case I find myself amazingly financially blessed (more so than now) that will be able to accomplish this goal.

14. Start and end every single day with your first love, your Father, your Savior, your Creator—our Mighty God.

I want to get better at this. I could look back at 2013 and say that I did an okay job with it, but seeing what He’s done in my life thus far, I really do want to give Him my all and definitely want to start and end my days with Him.

As I mentioned earlier, this list seemed very financial fueled (which includes Inspire Ave). There’s nothing related to my other hobbies in music of photography. I feel I need to enter a time of a bit of planning my future made with His wisdom. I know there’s still a lot of stuff (and things) I want to do, but it feels I need to make it right first and plan accordingly for years to go come. So yeah—2014 seems like a year filled with financial discipline! It doesn’t sound as fun as the tangible goals for 2013, but I’m still looking forward to it!

  1. I’m not counting my low interest student loans. I’ll take my sweet time paying those off for the next few years. []

Inward Growth

It was clear to me that 2013 was going to be split in quarters for me. It was pretty obvious when I chased the 13th tangible goal. The end of that story and the beginning of new one—to serve with utmost obedience and joy—started at the start of April. I found myself more involved with church—whether that be a small group (two, actually), a feeding ministry, our normal Young Adults group, a leadership group, a morning prayer team that met twice a week, or just serving communion on Sundays. I was doing a lot. I knew this would happen when I stuck to my decision to not say “no” to anyone who asks for help. I would definitely have to say that I have successfully crossed out tangible goal #5 because of that.

As tired as I was participating in all of these different groups and ministries as well as balancing a full time job, I knew burn out was just around the corner. Many of my own peers constantly reminded me of this. Burn out from ministry happened to me before1, and I knew at this rate it will happen again. But every single time I would pray about it—whether or not I should step back from one or two (or even most) ministries, every being of me told me that I am to endure it through at this time. I would not only endure, but I need to do so with a renewed joy and happiness from within. I am to always look to God for rest and the energy I needed. The energy I needed to keep going wasn’t mine, and I knew I could do what I was doing because He called me to do so. The things I did was out of love for my God—in complete obedience.  I just knew the end of this kind of participation—which I always referred to as my “outward growth” phase—was going to come again at the end of the September. I had this feeling when I took a co-leader position for Muffin Ministry.

But that time was always a bit arbitrary in my head. I knew there were a number of people that I met at Newsong that were going to leave. They were off to find new work. They were going to graduate school. Everyone called it a “new season” in life—in both individuals and community groups. I hoped that time would also be mine. During my time with God, I would always ask if this season is coming to an end, and if so what is the next season supposed to be like. I find myself seeing hints of “inward growth”. I didn’t quite understand what that was supposed to be. I didn’t understand why I would go back to that because I felt that’s what I was doing for the past two years before I came down to Irvine—self discovery and seeking out the uniqueness of who He’s made me to be.

It wasn’t until the third quarter when God blessed me with a very unexpected and beautiful relationship. It was nearing the end of that quarter what I knew He’s called me to. And honestly, it really solidified this idea after my girlfriend left for Spain.2

And really, this next season of my life—at least until mid-2014 if not longer—is centered around what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

– The Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:16-26 NLT

My focus is the fruit of the Spirit. We do not grow the fruit. Only the Holy Spirit will grow the fruit. We are no different than a farmer preparing the land to allow God to do His good work in us to let us grow into the Christ-like being we were designed for. It is in that I am to put my focus and energy. And I can honestly say that things will get harder and harder as I get closer to where He wants me to be. This is not to say that when I am finished with this season I will be the Christian follower I sought out for. No. But I feel I will reach a new level of understanding of God’s love for me and drive and passion to love others.

And there’s one thing extremely important about growth in the Spirit. The fruit that Paul writes about is its singular form. The fruit of the Spirit is all these things Paul wrote about: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. It’s all these things that will grow together. The fruit concatenates all these things and the true work of the Holy Spirit in us will grow this fruit at once.

At the time of this writing, I find myself impatient. In my search to condition my patience, I cannot do so in a vacuum.  I have to take in the other entities Paul writes about as I gain more patience. I do not do these things on my own. I have to ask the Spirit to work in me. That I do so with the faithfulness He has called me to have. That I may have patience and act out of love, kindness, and gentleness. From that I have an authentic outwardly appearance of joy and goodness. And in that the Spirit continues to grow that I may have peace and complete self-control over the situation that God has placed me so I may grow and serve for His purpose.

It’s only been a month. Every week with every day brings something new to test my endurance. I am already growing weary. Just like I did before in the first three quarters of this year, I must look to God for rest and energy. With Him I can do all things.

  1. I graduated from APU with a BA in Christian Ministry. My last year I needed to be an intern at a church. I interned at my home church at WVCC in Northridge—which was a 100 mile round trip drive. I needed to be out there three times a week. I was so burnt out of doing ministry, I knew I didn’t have the passion or drive to become a professional minister. I backed down from the prospects of doing ministry full time ever since. It’s taken me close to 8 years to get back into any kind of ministry at a church. Burn out is seriously bad. []
  2. At the time of this writing, I still haven’t written this story. But in a nutshell, we did decide to do a long distance relationship. This is something I have never done before and am still scared how to this properly without being an idiot or just straight out losing her. She’ll be gone until next summer. []

Tangible goals update for Q1 2013

Three solid months have passed since I posted my tangible goals for 2013. April is mostly over as well, so let’s see where I stand.

  1. Write a tangible goal list. DONE, duh!
  2. Launch It’s up there. I consider it launched. I still need to port over more articles, but the new site is out there!
  3. Create a photography/portfolio blog. What? this is on here? I totally didn’t remember this one. I should take a look at this project over the summer.
  4. Learn 2 lead rifts in 3 keys on the guitar. Okay, I need to make an addendum to this one. I haven’t learned any lead rifts yet, but I’m getting way better at key signatures, transposing, and improved my singing. So if I don’t hit this specific goal, not a big deal. This is the only guitar/music-related goal on the list and I’m still progressing in this area.
  5. Serve in at least one ministry at Newsong. DONE! I’m not even counting of me being a leader in my small group either! So during Lent a few people from the Young Adults group wanted to do a 6AM Morning Prayer ministry every Tuesday and Thursday. Well, it was such an awesome experience during Lent that we decided to keep going! Yup! You read that right, six ‘o clock in the morning! I lead (open up) selected mornings, so that counts as a ministry!And from that morning prayers, some people felt compelled to reach out and feed the hungry in Santa Ana. We dubbed it the Muffin Ministry and I somehow got nominated to co-lead that ministry. So take that number five on the list!
  6. Find and learn from at least one mentor. This is a work in progress. I have found possible mentors, but they haven’t quite completely embraced that mentoring role. Either way, I have found individuals that I am able to look up to and learn from.
  7. Find one person to mentor. The results are still very similar to the one above. Though, there is one person I found that I’ve been helping through his faith and his trials. I don’t know if I could officially call it mentoring, but it’s still fun pour into his life from what I’ve learned from my own.
  8. Post a story to once a month. This is still going strong! I know there’s a number of stories that are password protected (for good reason), but I’m still posting them!
  9. Fly to Hawaii to see Joel (and Iron Man 3) to celebrate our 20th friendiversary. This is happening later this week. I won’t cross it out until I get back.
  10. …And fly Joel out here to see Hillsong. Pending goal…
  11. Build that new computer! I’m seriously downgrading this goal. As much as I want it, I don’t really see this benefiting me in the short term (this year). If anything I might just pony up to get a Macbook Pro (Retina) or a Macbook Air when the CPUs get upgraded to Intel’s Haswell.
  12. Buy that D800 & 105mm macro lens. It’s very similar to the above. My photography was driving the need for a new computer and I just haven’t found myself shooting that much. I imagine I’ll actually end up buying the macro lens before year’s end.By the way, achieving points 11 and 12 would have cost me about $10,000. I think it’s wiser for me to hold on to that in the event God needs me to disperse those resources elsewhere…
  13. Be her Adam for your Eve. You’ve seen the titles for the protected posts. It seemed like that goal was going to be met, but not quite yet… Apparently God has other plans for me where I should stay in complete singleness. I’m hoping this state isn’t for an extended period of time…

That’s 3 of 13 that are completely done. There are 5 of 13 that are definitely in progress. I’d say this is pretty good progress!

Whose Will?

I may have jumped the gun on my 13 tangible goals for 2013. I did preface the post that it was initially a joke and it now seems like it’s a list I can actually accomplish. Despite the first week of this year starting very strong for me, I felt a lot of anxiety and doubt at the end of 2013’s second week. I kept thinking about this list and my approach didn’t seem right. I felt very confident about this list. I was quickly reminded of James:

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.1

I should have also prefaced the goal list that it is something I will do if it is God’s will for me to do it. I thought about that for a bit. And it sort of blew my mind. This list, of course, is more or less aligned with my own desires. I believe, for the most part, those desires are more aligned with God than the desires of the world. Sure, some things on that list I could definitely do without (like the camera and computer), and some could argue some of those things that I want is also part of the desires of this world. So are those desires, those goals, are they from God? Or are they from the world?

Here’s the part that really blew my mind. If the goals are from God—that it is His will and it will be done. As far as when it will be done? I guess that’s all up to Him and my willingness to obey. But when God wills it, it will happen. So what I need to do is assess which goals are really desires from Him or desires of the world. I don’t want to bother with the world’s desires. Achieving those desires usually requires more work than they are worth and it comes with a lot of stress, anxiety, disappointment, and—most of all—unfulfillment.2  God’s desires, His will for us, is something completely out of love and the journey to award us is in itself can be a mind blowing experience.


  1. James 4:13-17 NLT []
  2. Oh sure, getting that new car, that new computer, that new camera, that new toy can be fun and exciting, but that new shiny thing will never completely fulfill what I truly desire—something I’m still not sure what, but I know God knows and I want to follow Him just so I can find out []