Powers and Principalities

A friend asked me a while ago what word spoke to me in my reading. It reminded me of something that I was pondering on as I worked my way through the book of Kings (I & II).

As you read through the chapters and the records of the Kings of Israel and Judah, you see a consistent phrase repeated when it comes to the wicked Kings

He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them. 
2 Kings 13:2 

As I started to see this same phrase over and over, I started to think on what that means. Because I’ve been taught when there is a phrase in the Bible which is repeated, it usually has some underlying meaning. Why would the Bible not just refer to these Kings as wicked? Why does it specifically refer to “the sins of Jeroboam.. which he made Israel to sin”?

Could it be, that the Bible is not just referring to random wickedness, but a specific aspect? Remember that during this period of the history of God’s people, there was wickedness among the people and they had worshipped the gods of the Caananites. They had built high places and asheras and worshipped these gods there.

So I started to consider if the Bible is referring not just to singular acts of wickedness, but a spirit of wickedness that Jeroboam served.

You see, in the Bible we understand that Satan has his chiefs, princes of regions. These are spirits who are given charge over that whole region for the sake of the domain of darkness, the kingdom of darkness.

These spirits influence men and contend against the spirit of God, even though they cannot prevail and will ultimately be defeated..

But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 
Daniel 10:13

This is a description of an angel of God who was sent with a word to Daniel. However, the word faced resistance from the “prince of Persia” until the archangel Michael was sent to resolve this impasse. See the princes of darkness can contend but the word of God will prevail.

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Jude 1:9

Given all that, maybe the constant reference to “the sins of Jeroboam” is referring to this power of darkness that Jeroboam served.

But it is important, Christian, to know that there is a greater power, a greater Spirit, and unlike even with the archangels, we are blessed with God’s very presence in our hearts. The Holy Spirit motivates us into a close relationship with Him, and understand that even the greatest power of this world cannot stand against the presence of God.

See in Mark 9:29 Jesus says “29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”. In this passage, we see that the disciples could not cast out a demon, where Jesus commands the demon to leave, and it does so, because He is the creator of all things, and nothing can deny His Word. In our case, as Christians, we have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and as such we are not under the dominion of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” - Colossians 1:13

So we need not fear this dominion of darkness, neither the princes of the air or this world, but to be wise, we ought to know of these things.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience .. 
4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:1-5

So, we ought to know which Spirit we serve, for all men serve a master, we must only choose the master we serve. As the Bible says

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 
19 ..Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 
20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” 
Deuteronomy 30: 15-20

Let us remain in His presence today!

David numbers the people

1 Chronicles 21 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Chronicles 21&version=NIV)

It’s been a while since I last posted. Lately, I’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles and this one section has really made me pause with how intensely packed with learning it is.

In this passage (to paraphrase), Satan incites David to number the people. He fails his test unlike Job, and orders Joab to number all the people. This is the first takeaway. Not everything that seems like a good course of action, is. The motivation is key, because man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The Israelites had been numbered before at the command of God (in the time of Moses – Numbers 1:3), but this time, it was for the pride of man.

The next lesson is around wise counsel. Joab knows this is not of God, and so he pushes back against David. He says,

“May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over.. but why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” 

But David does not listen to Joab’s wise counsel and orders him to do so. Even so, Joab does not fully obey (and who knows, this may have something to do with God relenting later). Joab does not number the Levites or Benjaminites. This portion reminds us to listen to wise counsel as it may save us from harm. There is a reason God places counselors in our lives to speak in times of uncertainty. Also as leaders, our decisions affect those that we lead. David says

“I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”

The next lesson is about the choice of punishment that God gives David. God sends Gad to David and offers him a choice – 3 years of famine, 3 months of being destroyed by his enemies, or 3 days of pestilence. Here David chooses wisely. He says, let me fall into the hands of God, and he may relent, but men will never do so. So he chooses the 3 days of pestilence and 70,000 men die as a result. And it so transpires that as the Angel of the Lord approaches Jerusalem (which was originally the city of Jebus), he stops at the threshing floor of Araunah (also called Ornan) the Jebusite.

Now we know in hindsight that this is the site of the temple mount. What an amazing parallel, and moment in history, because the temple represents Christ, and the wrath of God was held back by the sacrifice of Christ. It is at the Cross that the Angel of Death stopped, and all men could attain eternal life. Mount Moriah is also the mount where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac and where the ram was found caught in a thicket. Again this points back to the person of Christ and His sacrifice.

So it is clear that God Almighty, when the angel approached this place remembered His covenant and relented in not destroying Jerusalem, even though He would have been justified in doing so for the sin of the people.

This is the main lesson here – ultimately that Christ is the One that stands between us and the punishment we really deserve. God relented of destroying mankind because of His great mercy and remembering His faithful child, Abraham. Our faithfulness impacts not only our lifetimes, but generations to come, and maybe even humanity.

Bonus lesson: When David is instructed to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah, he approaches Araunah and offers to buy it. Araunah offers to give it to him for free (remember he is a Jebusite, a Caananite in Israel, so he likely has reverence for the King who allowed him to live in peace). David responds,

"No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 

A sacrifice ultimately comes at a cost. We must not sacrifice to God that which costs us nothing. This is an indictment on those who choose to do evil and claim they are doing it “for God”, and give what is not theirs to give. God has no need for money or things. So what we give we give of what He has first given us!

Thanks for taking this journey with me today. See you next week!

Fruits of the Spirit

Long time no connect, friends. In the interim, life has been incredibly busy for us with business, life and faith. Fridays are still fasting fridays, we just haven’t had the opportunity to blog. Thanks for sticking with us :).

A little while ago, I was on a group morning prayer call from Faith Driven Entrepreneurs. The topic for prayer and discussion was the Fruits of the Spirit.

“the fruits of the spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Generosity), Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control”

[Gal 5:22]

The Group also encourages self reflection. As such we take some time to measure ourselves against that standard, do our own lives reflect those fruits, those outcomes. I see that most often, I fall short in demonstrating those fruits. In fact what I thought of, was of Daniel 5:26 “Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin” which as Daniel translated, means “you have been weighed in the scales and been found wanting, and (as a consequence), your kingdom will be divided”. 

In reality, we are all weighed in the divine scales and been found wanting. There is no way for us to attain the perfection of the perfect yardstick, and so we (as Paul says), all fall short.

But there is good news – that what we are lacking is made up by Christ (“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”). Therefore what we lack is perfected by Christ’s sufficiency. Think of it this way, we were at the checkout and didn’t have enough, but Christ gave us (as a free gift, not a loan!) enough so that we could purchase Eternal Life. 

That leads us to the question of if this state of affairs sufficient, do we continue forever in this state? As Paul asks in Romans 6, “Should we continue in sin that gracy may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”. Later in the chapter, Paul refers to sanctification, which IS a process! Sanctification is a process of becoming more Christ-like, of a constant refining and purifying our sinful nature to demonstrate and display the fruits of the Spirit, the life of Christ in us. 

So then, let us also spend some time in self reflection, to understand where we fall short. But then, instead of spending our lives in striving and trying (and failing!), let us ask the Holy Spirit for His strength in growing in those fruits.

We cannot do any thing on our own, but that which the Spirit empowers us to. As the father said to Jesus “I believe! Help my unbelief!”.

Practical Fasting

Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

With all that is going on in the world, I think it’s fair to ask what impact fasting can have. With the loss of life and ongoing persecution happening in Ukraine, it feels like futility. But we should persevere in our fasting and doing good. As the verse says, “do not weary in doing good”.

Every time we face a new world crisis, I feel powerless. And perhaps that is part of the grand plan. We recognize that we cannot control world events, or even the events that directly impact us. Not one of us knows how many breaths we have left. Yet we are required to continue to do good.

So we fast and pray and do what we can. It seems to have no impact, but a thousand drops of water compounded will make an ocean, so keep at it!

How do we fast?

In that light, I wanted to talk about fasting itself. I’ve come to recognize that the act of fasting also puts a strain on us as individuals. I joke about my youngest child that she is often “hangry”. Fasting is like a guaranteed one way ticket to hanger. We are guaranteed to be hangry.

The hard part is that it feels justified. Hey, I chose not to eat today because of my desire to impact the world, so everyone ought to acknowledge that. But the key is to understand that fasting is an act of service – it is about empathizing with the pain of another human being. So it is important that we do not use fasting as a license to allow ourselves greater leeway, but to intentionally be even more service oriented in this day.

The main thing..

So my friends, as we fast, we also pray. As we fast, we also serve. As we fast, we also consider those that are impacted around the world today. The focus is not on us, it is on the “other”, the wounded, the weary, the burdened.

So pray together with me today for Ukraine, for all those affected. Let’s focus less on what we need, what we deserve, and more on the other. And lest you ask, what can we do? We hear of refugees of this war. Let me remind you that refugees will be resettled around us. Reach out and understand how you can directly have an impact on those being resettled here.

You can do something! You CAN have an impact.

The future of the Ethnic church

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

It’s been a while since our last blog post. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been meditating on the state of the ethnic church. Although top of my mind is my own church community, I recognize that this is true of many of the ethnic churches we have been a part of over my many years. There is even an aspect to this that applies to traditional churches more broadly. Today, let’s dive into this (warning, it’s going to take some time and words).

The beginning

Let me paint a word picture. At some time in the past there was a first large wave of immigration of one particular ethnicity (e.g. Indians in the 70s and 80s), who arrived here while in their early 20s from impoverished countries, to build a better life. They brought their faith with them, or perhaps encountered faith in Christ on these shores. Either way, they established ethnic churches who mirrored their own experiences back in their home countries. As with the Israelites in Babylon, they planted fields (figuratively speaking), they built houses, their sons and daughters married in this land. However, they didn’t seek the welfare of the cities they were planted in. Instead, they maintained a separation from the culture of the land, dictated partly by a different language (Malayalam), different dress and food, different customs (sometimes mixing the religious observances of their home countries), and partly by their affiliation to their homeland. Even missions and charitable activities involved sending resources back to their homelands. They supported their families back home, and helped them emigrate to the US.

The middle

Over time, they had children, these children grew, and assimilated into the new culture. These sons and daughters spoke English, helped translate for their parents and acted as caretakers in many ways. They are a generation that struggles with their identity, the product of two very different and strong cultures while not belonging fully to either. Too ethnic (Indian) for the American culture, while being too American for their home culture. But this also extends into their experience of church. Their ethnic churches steeped in the culture of their homelands is uncomfortable for them, requiring they be ethnic on Sundays, while being American on the weekdays. They often grew up with a semblance of head knowledge of Christ, sitting through prayer meetings and Sunday school. They often found true faith on their own, away from their homes where they truly encountered Christ. Those that do are often passionate about their faith.

More of the middle

This second generation was perpetually seen as “youth”, even as some approached the age their fathers were, when they first came to the country and established churches and built families. In the eyes of the elders, this generation would always be the “youth”. As a result, some of this generation stepped away entirely from the faith once they left home for college and work life. Some moved to American churches. Those that pursued their calling as pastors and ministers were not welcomed back into their home church culture because they were often seen as bringing ideas that were not compatible with the culture of the ethnic church. These young ministers left the ethnic church ministry to minister in American churches. Over time, this generation started to see America as their home, and started to seek the welfare of the land, and the cities they settled in, breaking away from the homeland centric views of their parents. During this entire middle period, the church never addressed the situation, because new waves of immigration filled the pews, so it was not seen as an existential threat.

The end, or where we are now

That brings us to the present. For the reasons we noted, many of the second generation have left and most ethnic churches are graying. Many of the ethnic churches who were desiring new and bigger buildings in the 90s, are now sparsely attended, with the majority either nearing, or in, retirement. This is especially a problem for churches in areas where there is outward migration (e.g. New York, California etc). The elders of these churches are decamping for Texas and Florida. But the same will happen regardless of location.

Its not just an Indian thing!

Although I am of Indian origin, the same pattern is true of all ethnic churches I have visited. Chinese churches, Korean churches, Nigerian churches. If you are from an ethnic church, most likely some of this will resonate with you. Most of the world immigration into the US is declining from the highs in the 90s, so the ethnic churches are all seeing the reality of this issue that they’ve ignored for far too long. Age is respected in most ethnic cultures, so elders hold on to their posts for life. The passing of the torch from the older generation to the younger, simply has not happened. The “youth” service is populated mostly of folks who are between 30 and 50 years old! Even where church boards are filled the younger members, they feel beholden to the elders who can veto or circumvent any progressive ideas.

So should the ethnic church simply give up?

Is there a place for the ethnic church or is it simply a time for the ethnic church to dwindle? Isn’t it sufficient that the young people are still attending church? What does it matter if it is an American church or an ethnic church?

To a certain level, this is true. Our culture is Christ, first and foremost. I rejoice for those of our brothers and sisters who remain within the church no matter what the name of that church. However, I do still believe the ethnic church has a place.

So then, why even have an ethnic church?

There will always be a place for those that desire to worship the Lord in their own language, in their own customs of worship. The only thing I would say is that should be subordinate to the principal commission of the Big C Church.

That practically looks like a church where the principal services are in English, because we are planted in a neighborhood to reach those that we are adjacent to. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to reach souls for Christ. The ethnic language services should continue to minister to those who desire it, but we should not forget why we are Christians. Ultimately it is not for our comfort, but for FOR HIS GLORY.

God made each culture different and loves each people group in the world. I believe that alone indicates that God is glorified when we worship him in our own ways. We should constantly examine our practices to ensure we are in line with the Gospel and not glorifying any cultural element above God (e.g. bringing religious rites of our home countries religions into our own worship practices), but beyond that, God has given us freedom in worship!

So then how?

That’s a Malaysian saying I heard so often when I lived there. So then, how? I believe the ethnic church is placed here for such a time as this. Young people in Gen Z are searching for a more “authentic” worship experience. They have been jaded by the sound, fog and light machines and are authentically seeking God. Ethnic churches, however, are seen as “more authentic”, for many cultural reasons. So it is our calling to minister to these wounded, bruised souls, and show them the Jesus of the Bible.

That requires a radical rethink of the ethnic church, placing outreach to a people that may not look like, think like or sound like them. It requires allowing the second generation leaders to take their place at the helm of the church while ensuring Christ remains the head, and respecting our elders. It requires subordinating the home language services to a second service, and accepting that gracefully. This change cannot be forced on the elders or anyone else, it must be voluntary even as our own faith is voluntary.

Ok, wrap this up..

Thanks for staying with me. I’d love to connect with you and see if we can’t build bridges between ethnic churches to help each other and grow together. I believe that God has created us uniquely for a reason and a purpose, so let’s lean into that while glorifying God in all our actions.

The priority of starting right..

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash

The start to 2022 (honestly I can’t even believe we are in a whole new year) has been hectic for us. We launched our business mid-December and we are starting feel like real business owners now – packaging sample boxes in our living room, turning our office into stacks of boxes, and making USPS drop off runs every day.

Story time – our launch went a little sideways. We were supposed to launch a month earlier (early Nov), but due to some food safety signoffs that got delayed, then some production issues, we ultimately got pushed to mid Dec. We had planned a trip to FL for the holidays (and that was non negotiable), so I was in the weird position of trying to figure out how to fulfill orders while on vacation.

Ultimately this led to me packing an entire suitcase of product that we took to FL with a shipping label printer and started fulfilling orders while on vacation. Not satisfied with that chaos, I was basically given feedback that required a complete ground up rewrite of my site and transition to a new website provider. All while I’m on “vacation”.

Now that we are back it feels even more manic if such a thing is possible. It is in this context that I heard Pastor Colin Smith talk about the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The overwhelming pressure of “things to do”

Specifically at minute 48, he speaks about the people keeping the Feast of Booths upon their return. Now this was when they first arrived, the wall was broken down, the city was in ruins. The Pastor speaks of the people and how they must have been overwhelmed by the number of things to do.


But before all that, and in the face of an overwhelming set of tasks, the first thing they did, was to observe the feast of booths, a unique celebration of remembrance of the wandering of the Israelite people. Also known as the festival of Tabernacles, the Jewish people remember their wandering in the wilderness and celebrate God’s provision through that time by living in tents for a week. This is to remember how the people wandered in the desert living in tents.

Slow down and recenter

It seems odd that when the work is so urgent and pressing, the people took time off to worship. Yet, time and again, research shows us the truth of the old racing axiom :

Go slow to go fast

Anonymous Racer somewhere in the mists of time

I’ve heard that variously quoted as “Slow down to speed up” etc. The core notion is that in order to be more efficient, sometimes you need to slow down and take your time. Assess, reflect and recharge.

The same is true in our work lives. Going 110% for an extended period of time will ultimately just slow you down. A lot of things in life are counter intuitive – this is one of them. The more manic we become, the more we stress, the less effective we are. This is why having a good work life balance ultimately leads to more effective organizations, and why happy employees lead to better business outcomes.

Slow down this week

So we as a family have decided to dedicate some time at the beginning of this year, to fast and pray over some specific requests. In the face of all that needs to be done, it is even more critical that we recenter our lives, breathe, sink deeply into the love of God, and start the year re-energized. “In the face of all that is to be done, take time out to worship”.

I’d like to leave you with this song – its called “Wait on You” by Maverick City. It just resonates with me as I start this year.

And remember friends, go slow to go fast!

Goodbye 2021, What’s the plan for 2022?

As we bring 2021 to a close, thank you for joining us on this journey. I look forward to another year of ups and downs (which are inevitable), and struggles. Our temporary struggles may illuminate another’s path, so don’t discount the struggles.

Let’s take a moment to consider all that we have been given, and consider how we can best steward those gifts. I believe the things we are given are not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of those around us. We are not simply here to store up value to pass on to our children, but to pass on values to our children. Values of joy through suffering, love in defeat, and perseverance through hardship.

As we end this very tumultuous year, I think it is a good moment to remember John Piper’s Seashells talk.

John Piper’s Seashells

We don’t know what 2022 will bring, but I pray it will be a year of impact.

Anxiety (Let it go!)

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

Hi friends, I’ve been ruminating on anxiety recently, because I’m going through a particularly anxious season. Even taking the time out to write a blog seems like a luxury, because there is so much to do. Launching a startup is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m also a girldad and a fishdad, so I have “life” to deal with as well.

To give you a sense, we are re-launching our website next week, manufacturing our “products” and starting to take orders, packaging the orders and fulfilling the orders (all next week). In the midst of that, I went to close out my pond for the winter (later than usual because of the unseasonably warm fall).

And the problems start..

I looked in, to find that two fish had died, and four were dying (in complete distress). This seems like a little thing to most people, I know – they’re just fish. But you see, my grandmother always taught me that if you keep an animal or fish, their well being is your responsibility – they can’t speak for themselves. That’s farm life. Animals are working as much as you are, but they are your responsibility. I felt like a failure because it was my fault – I’d gotten complacent and not tested the water quality going into winter (water was clear so I assumed it was good).

Literally the same day, my daughter was sent home from school for the week because the classroom was shut. Thankfully we got her tested and she’s clear.

This is all particularly funny, because that same day I read on the Bible app, the verse of the day :

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

It really felt like I was being given the encouragement before the trial. Just to close out the story, I called around to all the pond people in a panic. Eventually, I got in touch with the previous owner of my house (we still keep in touch, story for another day :). He was so kind, and calmed me down, letting me know I was not the only one to lose fish or make such a major mistake. He suggested an immediate water change. Even though it was down in the 20s, I went out and did it, and miracle of miracles, two of the fish revived and the rest look healthier.

Intentional change

I say all that to say this – anxiety (worry about the uncontrollable aspects of our life) doesn’t provide us any action plan. Worry eats away at you and doesn’t let you rest. It fills up your time and mental space so you can’t be a blessing or help to others. Worry is selfish and focused on me.

So I chose to be less anxious, and hope more. Have a little more faith, and exercise that faith muscle.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:27

Things are now looking up, our business website redesign is nearly complete, the kid has learnt some more math, the fish are doing better. I’m sure tomorrow will bring its share of worries, but again :

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

Getting rid of anxiety is probably an impossible goal, but we can choose to set aside anxiety. Focus instead, on actions you can take – as I’ve taken to saying like a mantra “One problem at a time”. This intentional choice will enable you to move ahead in life and have a greater impact in your life.

I’m taking my own advice. Taking several deep breaths, starting on task 1 on my list and working my way through it. As Elsa would say “Let it gooooo”..

I hope your Friday is filled with action and joy. Speak soon, friends. Remember, one problem at a time!

Be Present

Hey friends, following on from our last conversation on intentionality, I wanted to share what I’ve been thinking about : Being Present.

I think we all know “that guy”, and I probably am “that guy” to some of you. The guy so focused on his phone or on what he’s thinking about, that he’s not really listening to you. I know my wife has called me out on this a time or two.

We start pretty innocently, checking the phone (or worse, the watch) quickly at dinner. Taking a sideways peek. No big deal. Then we see an alert we really want to read more. Before you can say “Lasagna”, we’re down that rabbithole of a r/espresso thread at the dinner table.

Maybe your distraction looks different than mine. But the distractions that prevent us from being present are all around us. It is a test of our heart and intentions.

I’ve heard it said that New York, a city of approx. 9m residents, can be one of the loneliest places in the world. It’s true. I’ve lived that life surrounded by people, but all alone.

Being Present (As a parent)

As a parent, this is especially apparent to me. I’ve come to understand that kids don’t really want the newest toy or new shoes. “Things” are always the icing on the cake. The cake is your time, your presence. I’ve heard it said that to engage with a child, you have to come down to their level. I find the most memorable times with the girls are where I play with them in their own space, at ground level, with their toys.

I can’t count the number of times, I’ve been around the kids, but not really BEEN there. I’ve been thinking about the business or life or some argument I had, and listening to them with only 10% of my attention. They recognize that too, and will soon stop talking and engaging with me. That usually brings me back to reality, and reminds me that they value my time more than anything else I can offer them.

Toxic Positivity and Being Present

The WSJ wrote an article on toxic positivity. “Sometimes the worst thing you can say to a person who’s feeling bad is: “Cheer up!””


There is truth to this. Cliche-d one liners tell people that you are not really listening. Not with your whole being. Because if you really hear someone going through pain or grief, you empathize with them. Then you realize that a glib saying won’t take the pain away.

Our Pastor once described the Jewish practice of sitting shiva. “It’s a time to honor a mourner’s grief process without trying to correct or fix it, as the focus is on giving space to mourn without constraint.”. I’ve been approached by friends going through pain or grief, and I try to “fix it”. I am definitely the platitude guy.

I need to learn that this is an escape mechanism, a way to not empathize, to not be present with the grieving and hurting. It may be uncomfortable to be silent, but that is often what people need. I’ve heard it said that Job’s friends erred when they started to talk. Stay silent, and be with the grieving and hurting.

Being present takes time and energy, just as much as being intentional does. We need to push down our natural desire to escape feeling the pain of others, empathizing with others, and taking time out of our days to “be with”.

In response to our question about the most valuable thing you’ve ever given away or received for free:

Victoria Gallo, Connecticut: My time. One of my friends was emotionally hurting, and I am glad to have been there for him. Time is a gift, too. Dedicating time and energy to others keeps things in perspective.


Time is indeed the most valuable gift. And we need to share more of it. It reminds me of the boy with the two fish and the five loaves of bread. When he gave it up, even though he didnt have enough for himself, he was blessed to see it being sufficient to feed the multitude.

Give of this most precious resource (time), and it will bless all those around you.

Thanks for joining me friends, speak soon! May your time be filled with meaningful relationships.

Intentional Impact

Hi friends, I’m at our production location for my small business, having driven an hour to get here. I was listening to the radio on the way in and the conversation made me think about the intentionality (or lack thereof!) of our lives.

Sometimes, it feels like life is happening to us, like we are just passengers on a train that is out of our control. I’ve been having a few days like this where I feel like I’m hanging on for dear life. This feeling can persist for days or for a lifetime if we allow it. We all have those days, of course. But allowing life to happen to us, also abdicates us of our responsibility to ourselves and those around us.

Last week we talked about making intentional changes. The word “intentional” has long been a favorite of my wife’s. We are very different, my wife and I. I was always a “go with the flow”, relax and enjoy the ride type (classic B type). My wife is a planner and a definite A type. Takes all kinds to make the world go round ;).

This of course, is the reason I assimilated so quickly into life in Malaysia (chaotic, not very rule bound, relaxed society). My wife’s favorite countries are Singapore and Japan (VERY strict social order, and very rule bound). Over the course of our marriage, she has learned to be more flexible and I’ve learned to be more structured.

That is all by the by, because the kind of intentionality I’m referring to (and she refers to) is not a short term, making plans for your vacation kind of intentionality.

The intentional life

When I speak of intentionality, I am talking about the goals for your life, the models that we build our character towards. When I started a garden a couple of years ago, I noticed how much plants grow towards the sun. If you place a potted plant just outside of the sunshine, in a couple of days, you will see the plant lean and grow towards the sun.

That is the intentionality I am referring to. You will grow towards whatever role model you admire or whatever character you desire to grow. Even if you have not sat down and fixed a role model in your head, you will naturally start growing more like your “unintentional” role models.

Now, unfortunately, the role models we see around us in the world are often not ideal. I was watching a few TikToks (haha), and I see many influencers speaking down to the audience. They often demonstrate unkindness, and in some instances outright cruelty with their words. This world will generally elevate the worst among us as experts and worthy of praise, who tell us to live life for our own benefit.

If we desire to have impact in this world, we have to sit down and intentionally look for role models that demonstrate a life of service, a life of impact. Then we need to again, intentionally, grow our lives and our habits towards that destination. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul who said “follow me as I follow Christ”.

We also need to re-examine our lives on a regular basis and, like with a bonsai, prune those habits and behavior that is not in keeping with our end goal. It takes time and energy to sit and think about where you want to go (in career, family life, service). Then it takes energy to change our direction.

But as I said last week, a life of intentional service, will pay exponential dividends, because there are many eyes watching us. Whatever we plant into our lives, will give fruit. Not just over our lifetimes, but generationally as well.

Let’s plant good seed, so that we can grow good fruit. And that the tree of our lives can provide shade and sustenance for others!

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:8

Love you all, and speak next Friday!