a way to practice “letting go” in your daily life

In her book, “small bites – mindfulness for everyday use”, Annabelle Zinser teaches us how we are going to let go:

“You can ask yourself, ‘can I truly open myself up to all the changes in this new situation?’  This can help you develop acceptance, equanimity, and curiosity.  Once in an obituary I read a quote from the Sufi master Hazrat.  It has accompanied me ever since: ‘When the roof over your head collapses, you can finally see the sky.’  This quote continues to help me let go and develop an unconditional acceptance toward what is and what will be.  Practicing with the small things helped me to see that I am increasing my ability to rediscover the sky during the difficult times as well. ”

Annabelle suggests that:

“Breathing and walking meditation are also wonderful opportunities to practice letting go.  You need to let go of your in-breath in order to fully experience your out-breath.  And you need to let go of your out-breath in order to fully experience the next in-breath.  you need to complete the step with the left leg in order to to step with the right leg.”

Before my breathing and walking meditation, I think about the things I need to let go just for that moment.  Then I start my breathing and walking meditation.  At the beginning, I experience the breath in & out, and the steps with the left leg and the right leg.  Then, I “let all worries, problems, and plans drift by like clouds in a windy sky” when I breath in.  I “gently give myself a hug and I am willing to let go” when I breath out.  I start to see the sky as the clouds have been being drifted.

 

choosing the way to wake up every morning

In her book, “Small Bites: Mindfulness for Everyday Use”, Annabelle Zinser wrote,

“How did you wake up this morning?  And how did you handle those moments of awakening?  Did you say, ‘How wonderful, it’s the beginning of a new day; I wonder what the day has in store for me.  Can I embrace myself and all other beings who cross my path today with understanding, friendliness, and compassion’?  Or did you say, ‘Oh no, yet another new day.  When I start thinking about the upcoming day, it feels like way too much’?”

In addition to giving thanks to God for the morning, waking up and embracing each morning (and day) with wonder & compassion is the way of awakening.

good reminder, do not give people unlimited access to your lives

In his book, “a life having and doing enough”, Wayne Muller points out and reminds us that: “There are few real, authentic emergencies that require our immediate, life-saving response.  So why is this important?  Because more and more people presume unlimited access to our lives, our homes, our time.  Those who want something from us expect us to give it to them.  They assume that if the have our possible contact information, we should respond…If our time, our privacy, our choice to create our own schedule is neither a right nor even a privilege, soon our own lives are none of our business but rather are the business of anyone who has access to us…”

Are you the one who send a message to your friends or colleagues and expect them to make response instantly?  I have always people that I am not always beside my phone and I won’t able to answer the phone and check my message all the time.  I do not make response immediately does not mean that you are less important.  I do need a break or what I have been doing is equally important and I need to deal with it at first.

Just for today, building instead of destroying

When I am reading “Just for today” (one of the textbooks for the Narcotics Anonymous group) this morning, I am reminded that “Though I may be feeling low, I don’t need to tear someone down to build myself up…The way to build our self-esteem is not to tear others down but to build them up through love and positive concern.  To help us with this, we can ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem or to the solution.  Today, we can choose to build instead of destroy”.

Today, I choose to build.  What/how about you?  What/how about tomorrow?

our difficult choices each day

In his book “a life being having and doing enough”, Wayne Muller wisely points out the reality we have often denied and ignored:

“Living and loving well requires us to make difficult choices each day of our lives.  The heart-opening unconditional love we see requires our heart’s time and attention.  Love, friendship, children, kindness, good and fruitful work – all these things need time, accompanied by our full, unhurried, undistracted attention.  Because the sheer number of hours in a day is limited, we must choose where, when, and with who we will share whatever brief time and attention we have.”

This is the more effective way we are going to be with and to help others.  in this way, what we are to share is the best we can offer.

Listening with the ear of our heart

I took my car to the auto shop for regular maintenance.    While I was waiting for the service, I opened the book “a life of being, having, and doing enough” by Wayne Muller.  His writing on “listening with the ear of our heart” touched my heart instantly:

“When our attention is bombarded daily, overwhelmed and saturated with the relentless clanging of so much speaking, announcing, sharing, selling, convincing, offering, presenting, discussing, declaring, and demanding – how can ever find sufficient quiet to listen deeply to anything?  When can we fully attend those still, small voices of inner wisdom that reveal to us what is good, necessary, or nourishing?…..prayers of invocation …asking God to “come here, be with us and bless us”…Who are we…to assume God is not here and everywhere already – and worse, that we must call him as we would a family pet, to come?  The more humble, honorable – and accurate – prayer would recognize it is not God who is missing; rather, it is we who need to show up, to open our closed and fearful hearts, to listen with an ear bent toward the divine”.

When I followed the prayer he offered, I prayed with tear.  For a while, I have not been being mindful of God’s presence and I have not been being attentive to God’s voice.  If you are willing, join me to do and experience the following prayer:

“God, I beg you to cleanse our distracted hearts, that we may center ourselves in you, feel you here, guiding us, so we may listen and attend to your wisdom and guidance for us”.

Definition of Church Planting

I have been discerning and preparing new church initiatives, I got Aubrey Malphurs’ book, “The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting: A Guide for Starting Any Kind of Church”. In this book, Aubrey Malphurs writes: “I define church planting as an exhausting but exciting venture of faith, the planned process of starting and growing local churches based on Jesus’s promise to build his church and in obedience to his Great Commission”.

Why do we need to plant a new church? We are going to plant and grow a church in obedience to his Great Commission. Since this is an exhausting venture, I need fellow pilgrims. Your prayers and partnership (in many different ways) are invited and appreciated. For the sake of His Kingdom Ministry, let’s follow His way together.

Gender, process or fact?

As a Christian and an Anglican priest (not only because of Christian identity and vocation, but also my passion), I love to reach out to the people in the community. One group of people I have never met personally are transgender. Lately, I start to read a book called “Gender: Your Guide – A GENDER-FRIENDLY PRIMER ON What to Know, What to Say, and What do Do in the New Gender Culture” by Lee Airton.

In this book, Lee Airton writes, “transgender people were assigned a sex and corresponding gender category at birth, but this assignment doesn’t reflect who we are”. In the book, Lee explains how gender works from the perspective of gender as an ongoing, lifelong process.

For me, I am in a lifelong journey/path to be true manhood. I am still learning and becoming a man I was designed by God to be. From this point of view, I experience & see gender as an ongoing, lifelong process.

The most precious valuable gift you can offer

In his book “a life of being have doing enough”, Wayne Muller wrote:

“Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true things: You. Your Presence. Showing up. Being in the company of another, undistracted, unhurried, with an open heart, gentle hands, and a patient soul. Willing and able to listen, do something or do nothing, willing to be surprised by whatever emerges in the soil of sharing your present, loving company with another human being”.

How often have you offered this gift to others? How often have you received this gift from others? Do you value this the most precious valuable gift?

Beyond the ordinary teachings of forgiveness

I resonate with Derek Lin that “Egoism is something we created for ourselves, so it is something we can dismiss with a simple decision. Without egoism there is nothing bruise, hurt, or wound. Without damages or injuries to the ego, pride, or dignity, there is also nothing to forgive. There is how the sage transcends beyond the ordinary teachings of forgiveness. By recognizing that the true self can never be hurt, and it is only the false projections of the ego that are damaged by criticisms and insults, we bypass the constant striving to forgive others.” (from his book “The Tao of Daily Life”)

In here, Derek Lin is not discussing about right or wrong. Instead, Derek Lin points out to us the ancient way of “protecting” us from hurting by criticisms and insults. “Nothing to forgive” in here means we are not carrying negative feelings with us everywhere. That negativity won’t become a burden to us. This is not about right or wrong and if the person hurt us need to be responsible. What Derek Lin has offered is the ancient way to be free and safe from criticisms, insults and our egoism.

Church Marketing

I like the definition Richard Reising offers in his book “ChurchMarketing 101”,

“Church Marketing … is ‘the sum’ of all your church does to connect Christ with your membership and the outside world. It is ‘the sum’ of things that done (including all that defines your product, place, etc.) to engage someone to respond positively to the very thing your are promoting…it is your challenge to reach people where they are to create the atmosphere of love and joy that people hunger for. Your challenge is to relate to people wherever they might be in life and to relevantly connect them to Christ and His kingdom”.

As a rector, his definition is leading me to reflect on what I have been doing and leading and what I need to make response to this new (at least for me) definition of church marketing. May God guide our ministry.

Learn to keep your counsel

In his book, “How to Think Like a Cat”, Stéphane Garnier advises us, “Learn to keep your counsel. learn to no longer be the center of everything at every moment through talking. Listen in order to learn, and know when to keep quiet so as to have more impact when you speak”.

When I was younger, I always liked to “be the center…through talking”. Now I know it is wise to listen and learn at first.

We need to assert ourselves

Stéphan Carnier’s book “How to Think Like a Cat” is not about cat but us. I appreciate his reflection on being assertive, “Many of us find it hard to assert ourselves in front of other, either out of shyness or lack of confidence…if other people take up more space than you, it’s because you let them do so…Cats take the space that is their due, without crushing their neighbour, but they do not tolerate any encroachment on the space. They assert themselves quietly. They don’t play the tyrant, but neither do they accept a walk-on part”.

I have learned the need to be assertive the hard way in the past years of working as a priest/pastor. Trying the please everyone, keeping my reputation to be a nice guy and avoiding (& being afraid of) conflicts are the main reasons causing me feeling hard to be assertive.

Asserting ourselves actually is being authentic, being honest to ourselves (and others) and the way to take care of ourselves. Then we learn how to respect others’ space and boundary. In the end, we all grow (together).

Our worst enemy

In his book, “Ego is the Enemy”, Ryan Holiday points out the following truths for us:” Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you: your ego…It is that petulant child inside every person, the ones that chooses getting his or he way over anything or anyone else. The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility – that is ego…but ego is there at the root of almost every conceivable problem and obstacle, from why we can’t win to why we need to win all the time at the expense of others. From why we don’t have what we want to why having what we want doesn’t seem to make us feel any better…we live inside our own fantasy…what we have is not confidence but delusion…ego tells us what we want to hear, when we want to hear it…”

Yes, I realize that my battle with my worst enemy has not yet finished. I believe I am not alone and helpless in this battle. Christmas reminds me that Christ has come to help us to fight and win this battle.

The Soft Overcomes the Hard

In his book, “The Tao of Daily Life”, Derek Lin points out that “in our conflict-oriented culture, we have a tendency to counter force with force. If someone yells at us, we yell back louder. When we feel disrespected, our first impulse is give that disrespect right back…the conventional approach is all about confrontation and clashing. It is the ‘hard’ path to traverse through life because it focuses on the external manifestations of power. Its method is to pump up the self by diminishing others”. Have you seen and experienced what Lin describes in your life & world? Yes, I have…

Lin offers us the Tao approach that “isn’t about confrontation and clashing. Instead, it is all about redirecting and channeling. It is the ‘soft’ path because it focuses on internal strength. Its goal is to improve oneself so that everyone can win…when you make a gut-level decision to commit yourself to this teaching, to be like water and allow the soft to overcome the hard … that is when your world, your life, and your fate will undergo a startling transformation. When you improve your character and elevate your spiritual understanding by utilizing the Tao approach .. that is when your destiny will never the same again!”

As I am getting older, my internal strength and confidence are getting stronger, I have more power to love, let go and forgive. That is the way of Tao.

Embrace the groundlessness of our situation

In her book, “Living beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”, Pema Chödrön profoundly points out that “As human beings we share a tendency scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground – something predictable and safe to stand on – seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for this is freedom…”

To have freedom, we need to leave the “prison” of our mind. We often feel insecure and we think a solid ground is the solution; then consequently we act to put ground (we think it is solid) under our feet. Unfortunately we need to keep find another ground and we feel suffered …until we are awaked spiritually.

Are you still in your journey of finding the solid ground?

Our Most Valuable Currency

In her book, “Fierce Conversations”, Susan Scott points out that “Our most valuable currency is not money. Nor is it intelligence, attractiveness…Our most valuable currency is relationship. Emotional capital…we behave emotionally first, rationally second. No matter how logical we claim to be, our emotions are the most powerful factor in how we respond and interact with others…Life is about making connections, most importantly, a deep connection with people; otherwise, we do not know what it means to be human.”

As what John Donne said, “no man is an island”, no one is truly self-sufficient; everyone must rely on the company and comfort of others in order to thrive. From now on, cherish and make investments on those people/relationship so that you are not going to be an island your journey of life.

Michael Jacques’ book, “Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book”

Michael has autism and an intellectual disability. Even though he can’t write, he uses his iPad’s speech-to-text function to write (that is why reading the book feels like someone talking to me about his stories). Even though he can’t read, he “can remember each story I wrote by looking at the pictures” (that is why the book has many small pictures).

Michael’s book is down-to-earth collection of compelling life stories and discoveries that teach us how to embrace and celebrate our differences. The book covers topics such as learning, inclusion, advocating, independence, and the power of perseverance.

In the followings, I like to share few of his messages inspired me a lot:

“…even though a person may have some difficulties, it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve what they set out to do. Sometimes it might take a long time, but that is OK…When I was finally diagnosed in grade one, my mod told me that she cried, but that was the last time she did, because she knew that I would be amazing. These words were said many times throughout my life…Everyone needs parents who listen and ask lots of questions, who speak up for their children and let them find their voices…there are different ways to learn. I realized that I could focus on my strengths and use my voice to speak up…Now I would like to talk to you about the stages of bullying. The first one is physical…The second one is mental…it was the third kind: exclusion…It was sometimes frustrating that people didn’t understand me…true friend is not about focusing on what people cannot do, but instead focusing on the thing we’re good at and the things we like…All you have to do is believe in yourself and not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and hopefully we all have people who believing in us…Everyone’s different, so everyone has to find their own voice and learn what is right for them, and if something isn’t working, there’s always another to do it…everybody can find a way to be good at something…never discredit yourself and never sell yourself short. Always look for different ways to do things if you can’t do it the exact same way as others…not just see me as a person with a disability…see me as someone who is deserving of the same opportunities in life as those without disabilities…Focus on your strengths and find ways to make it happens”

His book is not only for the disability but for everyone. I have been touched deeply with smiles and tears while reading his book. Thank you, Michael.

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism

According to a recent survey conducted by Alpha Canada and the Flourishing Congregations Institute (The Priority and Practice of Evangelism – Canadian Church Leader Perspective in 2021), 65 percent of church leaders say that evangelism hasn’t been a priority for their congregations over the last several years. Fifty-five percent say their congregations do not equip Christians to share their faith.

According Thom S. Rainer, the top fifteen reasons our churches are less evangelistic today are:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

In his book, “The Gospel & Personal Evangelism”, Mark Dever reminds us that “according to the Bible, all believers have received this commission”. The Commission he talks about is the Jesus Great Commission (Matthews 28:18-20).

Mark points out that “We can all contribute to evangelism simply by building up the local church – helping to organize or lead it. We may teach and equip. We may provide hospitality and encouragement. We may pray and serve and show mercy and give. But we also all have a responsibility to speak of God and the good news both insider and outside of the church…God calls all Christians to share the good news. Our churches need to make sure that we know the good news and to make sure that we can all express it clearly. And we should work to train each other in having the kind of Christian lives and clear understanding that will help us to share the gospel’.

I agree with him that “An account of a changed life is wonderful and inspiring thing, but it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that explain what it’s all about and how it happened. And it’s the gospel that turns sharing a testimony into evangelism”.

I think Mark has given us a very concise and precise conclusion on evangelism, “a God-given commission and method, a God-centered message, and a God-centered motive (a desire to obedient, a love for the lost, and a love for God) We should all evangelize. Evangelism isn’t all those other things we considered; it is telling the good news about Jesus, and doing it with honesty, urgency and joy, using the Bible, living a life that backs it up, and praying, and doing it all for the glory of God…The Christian call to evangelism is not simply a call to persuade people to make decisions, but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We do not fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not subsequently converted; we fail only if we do not faithfully tell the gospel at all”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

I pray all Christians say “yes” to the call to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ,

Freedom in Commitment

In his book, “the subtle are of not giving a fuck”, Mark Manson, who visited fifty-five countries, made dozens of friends, and found himself in the arm of a number of lovers, talk about what he has learned from/after his journey of seeking freedom and adventure. He wrote, “…after the years of excitement, the biggest lesson I took from my adventuring was this: absolute freedom, by itself, means nothing. Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but itself there is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person. To truly appreciate something, you must confine yourself to it. There is a certain level of joy meaning that you reach in life only when you have spent decades investing in a single relationship….there is freedom and liberation in commitment…Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant…Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goal and achieve degree of success you otherwise would…rejection of what does not align with our most important values…”.

In fact, the learnings Mark Manson has shared with us are applicable to many areas of life. The question is if we know what our important values are and what we want to be in our life. Do you know,,,?