Men I Admire

When I look at men like Matt Chandler and James Moy, what I respect most is how they lead their families. My discipler is a father of 3 boys, and Matt Chandler is married and teaching pastor at the Village Church in Dallas, Tx. Both men are in different stages of life, but both have an acute awareness of their sinfulness. Now, out of context, you might take that as “Matt and James are big sinners and you can see their sin stamped on their foreheads.” Honestly, both those men can and have said that about themselves. Whether I’m listening to a podcast from Matt or having a 1on1 with James, they talk honestly and earnestly about their lives. They own up to their imperfections and share openly about how they struggle. In Matt Chandler’s new book, A Mingling of Souls, he clearly talks about the struggles accompanying dating, courtship, marriage, and family. When I talk to James, he always recites the difficulty that comes with marriage and family. However, it’s how they respond in light of these trials that earns my utmost respect for them. They know they cannot lead their families on their own and turn to the Lord in all His Glory  for guidance. They rejoice and turn to the Lord in their sin. I cannot stress how important this is to each of them; you’ll just have to talk to them each individually to understand who they are and what I’m saying about each of them.

They have humility. They’re not afraid to admit their sin. And they own up to it not by trying to fix their lives on their own but by turning to God for strength. It really is beautiful. These are men I admire. This is husband and father I want to emulate.

foreign relations

Not the type you’re probably thinking of. And no, this post isn’t really a platform for presidency or related to the State of the Union address. I’m talking about relationships, mainly friendships. In the past few days, maybe weeks, I’ve had the great opportunity to counsel several people through some struggling relationships, some current and some in the past. I’ve also been able to listen to their stories of reconciliation and unity. They have truly been inspiring stories reflecting the sharing and reception of grace in the midst of the dirtiness of this world. When we reconcile our differences and find consolation solely in the grace that our Lord Jesus Christ came to show us, we give glory to God who is most high. He really does work in relationships very powerfully.

So why is it foreign? What catches my attention is when someone else, particularly a believer, fails to try and befriend another person. In small group yesterday, we talked briefly about Matthew 25 – this chapter is singly focused on loving your brothers. One of the discussions that stemmed from this is, “If you attempt to love the world, but you lack love for you BASIC, are you really a christian?” In the church, we often feel compelled to care for those who are in need, but we can easily neglect those immediately around us who are struggling just as much. There’s something very fulfilling about bring food and shelter to the homeless, but something apparently less glorifying about praying for your fellow brother in Christ who is going through some financial troubles and pay for his kid’s piano lessons. Do we care little about the church? Is this behavior healthy? What I’m trying to say is, the concept of neglecting your fellow brothers is foreign to me. We should have unity amongst our church, but somehow we can get caught up focusing a lot on outreaching. I’ll speak for myself, but Im primed to believe that outreaching is more important than in-reaching. I care significantly about my community, but I can neglect them all the same. To make an allusion, I think united states foreign policy expends more resources caring for international concerns without fully addressing its financial and social needs internally.

But going back to to the foreign relationships topic, what is even more unsettling than seeing more outreach than in-reach is when a christian also fails to show or express a desire to love those who are in need. There are many who are in need, believers and unbelievers. I want to see brothers and sisters around me build foreign relationships with nonbelievers. Really challenging yourself to put yourself out of your comfort zone and love on them as if they were just like you. I don’t know; maybe that was reach.

Another cool note is, even through divisions of churches/countries/sects/denominations, God shows us opportunities to reflect reconciliation and grace. there are limitless opportunities to love those in need.

Theology of Coffee

God In All Things

This is a guest post by Jacqueline Shrader.


starbucks red cupWhen I was still a youngster in high school, my gaggle of gal pals and I loved to bring each other Starbucks in the morning. Nothing was better than the sugary winter drink of a white chocolate mocha, under the guise as a coffee. Nothing made me feel better than my cup of ‘joe’ in hand, flaunting the red holiday cups and demonstrating my maturity as a coffee drinker. A few years passed, and I moved to Seattle to go to college. There, I soon became acquainted with real coffee. My flirting with real coffee quickly escalated into a full on relationship. I tried to learn more about the history, the roasting styles, the economics, and growing patterns—even going so far as to spend a summer in Costa Rica volunteering on a farm that grew coffee. Now, in my post-grad life, I…

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Let it Ride

Talked to Chris the other day. We were talking  about dating. We talked about how when you put a relationship in a box with a bunch of rules, it tends to smother the relationship. We read so many blogs and articles about how we should date, and what’s safe. Sometimes by trying to protect that relationship, we end up destroying it. Instead of letting God lead, we try to direct it, control it, and ultimately, no one is really enjoying it and no one can really be themselves #runonsentencealert

Josh and I talked the next day, and he gave me an analogy that gamblers use at craps table. When the table’s hot, and your bets are just going, just “let it ride”, and as I experience more of life, I’m seeing that he’s on point. <insert on point emoji>

In small group, we were talking about Love (again). As a backstory, we have a tendency to get stuck on this subject because some of the boys.. eh I mean men, have trouble comprehending what love is. I’m teasing them of course, but I think they’re really onto something. We really can’t grasp the verity and gravity of what love is because God is love, and God is immense, awesome, and beyond our human comprehension. He is the definition of love, not the oft-mistaken 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 verse. So why talk about this? In small group, we were talking about how 1 Cor, Gal 5, and Rom 12 all relate to our understanding of love. One of the main things I drew from that lesson (good job daniel), was that love is many things, but God is none of those things. What? Didn’t I just say God is love? So, what I mean is that love is always interpreted from our human perspectives. We see love in a hollywood-tainted perspective. But even the best love that this pagan world can express or show doesn’t even scratch the surface of the ethos that God represents. His love is incomprehensible, even though we know the grace of God is sacrificial and selfless. In our daily lives, we can’t even comprehend that. Or perhaps, instead of saying “we”, I should just say “I” because I really should only speak on my own behalf. I’m not rebuking anyone, nor am I criticizing a generation of christians. I really think that we have all been transformed by God’s grace, and as we continue to pursue Him, we will become more selfless, more faithful, more hopeful, more full of joy, and of course, more loving.

Anyway, something interesting is in Galatians 5, there lists a bunch of bad stuff – debauchery, sexual immorality, sensuality, adultery – you know, stuff that you get in trouble for, that even the general unbeliever considers unethical. What I realized is if you pursued love in a worldly sense, you would potentially end up in one of these. What’s the point of physical intimacy if not for the sake of marriage? And what’s the point of marriage if you don’t seek to love your husband or wife with grace that was first demonstrated to us by God? But then in the chapter, it continues to list the fruits of the spirit. And what I realize is, all these things are things that are good, that we want. And you don’t get them by pursuing love directly. you get them by pursuing God first and foremost. Of course easier said than done, but it makes all the sense in the world, yet on a daily basis, I fall short of that intent. I am constantly sinning, and repent little. It’s really an unfortunate blessing sometimes to receive so much grace from the Lord. I don’t deserve it.

So, what I resolve to do this year, as a new years resolution is to love, but not just that. It’s to let it ride. haha, thanks josh. It’s really to love those around me, by first loving God. It’s to build relationships, without rules, but still with wise counsel and boundaries about whats righteous and good, but still let it ride. I want love, and I want joy, and faith, but I won’t pursue those first because I’ll pursue God first. And as I do that, I’ll let it ride, again. I’ll do all of this because He really is worth the risk. And the ride is a hella fun haha

“When you delight in the Lord, God shows you that He’s pretty awesome.” – Derek Le

A to Eflat/Dsharp

I tested my vocal range today just to see what notes I’m comfortable singing and what notes I’m capable of singing. I focused mainly on the my chest voice since my falsetto hasn’t been practiced in a while. I used a piano, and I don’t know how people normally evaluate their singing range (I’m pretty much an amateur when it comes to this stuff). My comfortable singing range is about G1 to E3, about 13 keys/notes on a keyboard. However, I’m capable of singing from a low Dsharp to a high A above middle C, about 18 1/2 notes/keys.

Honestly, my range hasn’t improved since my high school senior year stint in choir. I remember when this sort of stuff used to be really important to me. In choir, I was a tenor 2, and I always felt like I needed to prove to everyone that I deserved to be in that section. The other 7 tenors had much more refined voices than I did, and they had all been singing for a lot longer than I had been. They also had a slightly higher range than I did and seemed to sing more comfortable in that range around E-G above middle C.

I took it as a huge hit on my pride when the choir direction bumped me down to baritone/Bass1 for one of the songs in our spring concert, not because I thought I would be judged, but because it was a confirmation of my abilities as a singer. My level of self consciousness was also heightened because I was the only senior tenor. I had a few other friends who had also joined choir that year for the first time (also as seniors), but they were all placed as basses. For that entire year, and perhaps even some of my freshman year of college, my identity as a singer consumed me. I constantly felt inadequate and that the ceiling was measured by the performance and abilities of those around me who were much more capable. Around the same time was the birth of the Tim Be Told craze. Tim, the band vocalist, can sing a C or D above middle C (I know this because my college roommate Daniel tried to hit the note all night one random night – Daniel was also a Tenor 1).

I guess I was reflecting today how I shifted away from that identity as a poor singer, and it was due in large part to learning about who God was and how He sees me as a child worth saving. I often forget the impact that He’s had on my life and on things that I have since forgotten or not reflected on. Somehow, in those years of college, I stopped focusing my mind on things of a temporary nature, and I started to understand what we were created for and why we should do it. We can sing because we yearn to sing praise to our God. We want to sing because there are created to praise Him. Slowly but surely, I felt less shame in my inadequacy as a singer and more pride in being a child of God. I think that’s pretty awesome. I’m not sure God gave me any defining moment where I decided singing didn’t matter much anymore (honestly it still matters a tiny bit), but I was no longer fixated on my abilities, others’ judgement, or improving to a standard set by what I can see around me.

Anyway, merry christmas! Lol

Random thoughts that I’d like to get out in text so I can go back to studying

1. Haircut – If you didn’t know, I got a haircut recently. The new style is a side-swept comb over with a part on my left (your right). I tried this half-heartedly last December-February, but this time, I decided really train my hair. Recently, some people have noticed and mentioned to me, “Oh Derek, you got a haircut.” My first response will be, “Oh Thank you.” Obviously, that’s an awkward situation. I think the ‘thank you’ comes as a reflex. I don’t think I’m expecting a compliment as much as I am anticipating it. I’m not sure if I’m seeking a compliment or want people to notice (I’m sure part of me does), but this same dialogue has occurred a handful of times already. Haha, its just been awkward, maybe more so for me than for the other person. Maybe not.

2. Girlfriend – Random thought, but I do want a girlfriend who can dress me. I don’t think my fashion sense is terrible, but I don’t think it’s very good either. Up until maybe this past summer, I was consistently a khaki shorts/black basketball shorts sort of guy, and suddenly, I became self aware (for better or for worse). I don’t want to invest an exorbitant amount into fashion, but I believe there’s value in presentation. Back to the girlfriend thing – haha, generally speaking, a girlfriend who can help me out in this area would be great. Lately, I’ve envisioned myself living out of a Jcrew/Levis/AmericanApparel magazine, but I certainly don’t have the means to afford it. I would put all my pride aside even if she treats me like Ygrette treats John Snow.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkyy57iMaB0

3. Regifting – Tis the season of Christmas which means it’s the season of gifts. Part of that implies more secret santa and white elephant gift exchanges. The other part of that implies re-gifting past christmas gifts that have been stowed away and gone unused. And finally, these gifts can be given new life through a new white elephant gift exchange. I’m mainly writing about it because this christmas, I’m taking part in both a Secret Santa and a White Elephant gift exchange, and I’ve been frantically trying to pick the right gifts, while trying to divy up the remaining “unused” gifts for other people who I actually think they’d be appropriate for. I do love giving gifts, but re-gifting just doesn’t feel the same. It’s okay though. Whether you have much wealth or simply meager means, a gift is still a gift, and I find value in the person who dedicates their time to finding a gift for me. I just hope some of my recipients feel the same way.

“I’m a big WORDS person.”

So, what does it mean to be a WORDS person? Generally speaking, I define it as being encouraged through words (spoken/read), enjoying listening to spoken or reading words, and being energized through expressing yourself through words (written or spoken).

I would never genuinely say I am a WORDS person. Sometimes, I used to think it, but never out loud. I love expressing myself as an external processor, but lately words have generally been a challenge.

Someone that I met up with today said she was a WORDS person, and I could tell she was truly passionate about words. And honestly, lately I’ve been really out of practice when it comes to WORDS. Today, I was sharing with her about life, and I could barely get the words out or express myself adequately. I feel like I’m completely out of practice. I used to talk so much – sharing opinions, ministry, leading meetings, leading bible study, evangelism, praying, counseling others, and the list goes on. This, of course, mostly has to do with things like relationships, but to me, relationships are the most important thing of all. I’m just out of practice expressing myself, and I stumble on my words a lot more than I used to.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just me reflecting on where I am now compared to a couple years ago. I should do more of that too… “reflecting”… Anyway, back to finals!