Writing your own obituary

I regularly lead or attend funerals in my role as a clergy person. Writing your own obituary isn’t just for when you get older. It can be an important exercise to reflect on the direction of your current life. Here is a resource to help you write what you want to be remembered for: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/wake-up-call-write-your-obituary.html

 

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Henri Nouwen on being the Beloved of God

Henri Nouwen preached some incredible sermons at the former Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California back in the 1990’s. He shares some incredible insights on what makes us human, the meaning of life, and the ministry of Jesus.

Nouwen entices us to consider that we are more loved than we could ever imagine and that the Father is waiting for us to relax into his welcoming arms of love. When we embrace our identity as the Beloved of God, then we find our true selves and can authentically be the person we are meant to be. He warns us against valuing ourselves based on what we do, what we have or what people say about us.

Check out the videos here.

 

 

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How the rich and powerful display their wealth at death

Bloomberg reported recently, “For many of the rich and powerful, funerals are becoming the final opportunity to flaunt immense wealth, competing with weddings and birthdays as a rite of passage worthy of a small fortune. They’re choosing to be laid to rest in $60,000 gold-plated coffins and ferried by horse-drawn funeral carriages or Rolls-Royce hearses. Some are even flying friends and relatives to exotic locales for destination funerals…“It’s become one last display of power and wealth.” Businessmen and billionaires are often aggressively competitive in life “and that doesn’t end when they think they’re going to die,”…Some are being serenaded by gospel choirs in great halls, amid a sea of their favorite flowers flown in by private jet. Others are flying loved ones abroad to watch as their body is pushed out to sea like Viking warriors and the boat set ablaze…Custom-made Rolls-Royce Phantom VII hearses and a fleet of 25 matching Rolls-Royce sedans owned by the U.K.-based A.W. Lymn funeral home are sought-after internationally…They “want to make a statement: Ride it in life, ride it in death.”…A crypt beneath New York’s Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is available…It’s one of the last full-body burial spots in Manhattan and can hold nine caskets and 10 cremated remains…Three prominent families have already expressed interest… you can spend eternity in a gold-plated casket in the catacombs below a 200-year-old church could just be the zenith of a life well lived… for just $7 million.”  

You don’t have to be super-rich to have your treasures in the wrong place. You can have $20 in the bank and still have your focus on the wrong treasures.

In Matthew 6:20 Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (NIV)

Jesus actually wants us to be wealthy—not on earth, but in heaven! His prayer for us is that the Father’s kingdom would come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. To have a heavenly mindset regarding our possessions does not make us impractical or disconnected from reality but actually very connected to our life right now. Focusing on heavenly riches empowers us to trust God with our resources while on earth: feeding hungry people, running our businesses with integrity, caring for the environment as an act of worship and leading people to our Savior. Jesus wants us to have heavenly riches of people saved, people loved, people redeemed. So we hold onto our possessions lightly realizing that we can’t take it with us and instead invest them now smartly so that we will reap rewards that will never fade or waste away.

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Paying Attention

My latest blog series on paying attention in the Life for Leader’s devotional.

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My full remarks on Yuli Gurriel and the MLB

I joined several others Asian American leaders to denounce the racist gestures and remarks made and an appeal to Yuli, the MLB and our nation to move toward healing and reconciliation. See the coverage from ABC7 here and my statement below:

November 1, 2017
My name is Rev. Tim Yee. I’m a Chinese-American pastor of the 100-old-year Union Church of Los Angeles, the oldest protestant church in downtown Los Angeles and one of the oldest churches in America started by people of Japanese descent.

We in the Asian American community are not “cry babies” or “sore losers” as some in social media would like to portray us regarding the Yuli Gurriel incident. We know that as Asian Americans we have often been far too silent on the racism endured in all the great cities of our nation. So we join together and are speaking today to invite Yuli, Major League Baseball and all Americans to help us move forward in our divided time.

This is a picture of my church member Hagi Kusunoki. Hagi and her late husband George were treated as enemies of the United States during WWII. Hagi is holding a bronze medal awarded posthumously to her husband for his brave service in the 442nd Battalion, rescuing 211 Texas Battalion American soldiers who were surrounded by Nazis and doomed to die. These Japanese Americans suffered over 800 casualties themselves while being outnumbered 4 to 1 by the Nazis in order to save these Texans. Hagi and George made incredible sacrifices for their country so that we would always remember the pain and injustice that racism can lead to.

So when 40,000 fans give a standing ovation to Yuli after being cleared to continue playing in the World Series, I think that Hagi’s story has been forgotten. For why would any good American cheer the overlooking of blatant racism against Asians when great Americans like Hagi and George have sacrificed so much so that our country could be united? It must be that good Americans in Texas, California and our whole nation have simply forgotten how much we have already suffered because of turning a blind eye to racism.

Win or lose tonight, we are asking Yuli Gurriel to help the Asian American community and our whole country to move forward by accepting our invitation to meet with us and learn more about the Asian experience in America. We are not saying Yuli is a bad person and in fact we believe he has an incredible opportunity to take something very bad and have something very good come out of it. In fact, I’d love to lead a standing ovation for Yuli Gurriel, not for sweeping racism under the rug, but for helping the Asian American community heal from this pivotal moment.

No matter who wins or loses tonight, the American people—and 40 million people who will be watching tonight—will be “losers” if we don’t move toward better racial understanding and ultimately reconciliation.

We want Yuli to help all of America to remember that we are better than this. This is bigger than baseball. This is our country. The future of our nation will not be decided by a seven game series but by the way day-in and day-out average Americans treat each other with respect and dignity. We can do better and we must do better if we are to live up to the values that our great nation aspires to uphold. Thank you.

Rev. Tim Yee

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Life for Leaders: Daily devotional resource

last supper stained glass

I’m a new guest contributor to this fantastic resource called Life for Leaders. You can sign up for this daily devotional and be encouraged by a team of incredible leaders including Dr. Mark Roberts and Uli Chi.

As we head into this lenten season I hope you will find my first attempt to write for a broader audience meaningful and helpful for your daily leadership challenges. Tim

http://depree.org/god-can-use-our-brokenness/

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A Liturgy for victims of violence

(Adapted from Rick Morley’s 2013 Paris Peac sign“A Garden Path” written after the Boston Marathon tragedy)

One: I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Lord Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace and the Great Physician, and it is to you that we pray.

One:  We pray, O Lord, for those who were so tragically killed in the horrific attacks in Paris. We pray for all who love them, and all who grieve. We pray that they might find strength in you, and not be overwhelmed by their loss.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray, for those who were injured. Those who lost limbs. Those who are in great pain. Those who lives will forever be changed.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray, for those who witnessed horrible sights, for innocent bystanders, for the first responders, police, nurses, doctors, and all who are shaken to the core.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for those who are caring for the injured at this hour, that through them you would offer healing and life.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for the men and women of law enforcement who have long and difficult days ahead of them.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for the clergy and lay ministers who will tend to the needs of people in fear and grief.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for all people here and around the world, who live under the threat of terror.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for all who are called to keep us safe. We pray that they might have wisdom and strength to work for justice do the tasks that are entrusted for them to do. 

All: Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Officiant: And, we pray for the day when evil takes its last gasp. When the light finally, and thoroughly, snuffs out the darkness in this world, and the darkness which infects the hearts of people who do unspeakable wrong.  Till, its full completion, we will wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.  Amen.

November 2014 Adapted by Michael Stafford from Rick Morley’s “A Garden Path” written after the Boston Marathon bombing

http://www.rickmorley.com/archives/2565

 

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Together LA – So What?

InstagramThe three day conference featuring Tim Keller gathered numerous churches and Christians who sought to learn from one another as to how to love our city better by working together and laying down our “brands”. I remember Bishop Charles E. Blake challenging the diverse crowd on Friday night to “get so comfortable with one another that we are uncomfortable not being with one another.” That stuck with me.

The Saturday night dinner and discussion that I moderated about “Revival in the City: Azusa Street Then and Now” was a reminder that one of the primary features of the Azusa Street Revival was the breaking down racial and economic barriers in a systemically segregated Los Angeles. The diverse Christians gathered were reminded that perhaps working together under the Holy Spirit’s guidance would welcome God’s kingdom activity to expand through our partnerships to serve the poor, pray for our city and learn from one another.

Below is a short list of ways to connect more after Together LA. There are way too many wonderful opportunities to list here, but these are some I am familiar with personally and I know each of its leaders would be eager to welcome you into their work to love the city of LA.

Sunday April 12: Azusa Street Prayer, 6PM @ Union Church
401 E. 3rd Street Los Angeles Ca 90013 (link)

Join 1.7 million Korean Chrisitans in praying for the LA Outreach this Saturday. Help provide water and Bibles for this event: LA Outreach, March 7, 11:30am-3PM (link)

Micah Groups (spiritual formations groups for pastors and leaders): (link)

Support the Azusa Street mural project: (link)

Join in serving the the poor and vulnerable in Skid Row: http://urm.org/

Learn about PIHOP’s prayer and healing ministry in LA: (link)

Join the movement to plant a gospel-centered church in every neighborhood in LA: (link)

March 28, Theological Educaiton: “Together We Revive: Retelling the Azusa Street Revival and Little Tokyo”: http://www.isaacweb.org/

Tim Yee
http://lapastor.com/

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The real cost of living: Would $150,000 make you happy?

As we in Los Angeles gather for the TogetherLA conference Feb. 26-28, I can’t help but think that at some point churches need to get together to talk about not only housing for those experiencing homelessness like my friends at Union Rescue Mission, but also housing for the working professionally but unable to get ahead. Making $100,000 in today’s economy is worth 20% less considering inflation (roughly $80,000) (see my next post for the posting of this now outdate link). This article from MSN seems to be missing from their site so I’ve posted it in entirety below as one perspective to get us thinking about how expensive it is to live in major cities like LA.

The article says that Americans they polled resulted in needing $150,000 for them to be able to live comfortably, and if you were to consider how far $150,000 would go in Peoria, IL, what would it take in another major city? For Los Angeles I calculated that number to be over $200,000. Of course this is unattainable by the vast majority of the people we interact with daily (at least for me). What do you think? Thanks to my friend Therese for getting the conversation started on Facebook today!
The divide between the 1% and the 99% has ignited a national debate about the income gap, especially since Occupy Wall Street protesters descended on lower Manhattan last fall. But how much money does it take to feel financially secure these days?

The answer, at least according to a new survey of Americans by WSL/Strategic Retail, is $150,000. That level of income is more than three times the national median of $49,445 for 2010, and it’s enough to put a household into the top 10% nationally.

The survey asked respondents to choose which of four categories best described them: I can’t even afford the basics; I can barely afford the basics and nothing else; I can afford the basics plus some extras; and I can afford the basics and the extras, and I’m able to save, too. It is only at that $150,000 level that the survey found the vast majority of consumers, 88%, saying they could buy what they need, afford some extras and still be able to save a bit.

Even as the economy improves and consumer confidence builds, more than half of Americans — 52% — feel like they can afford just the basics, and many with six-figure incomes still feel like they are scraping by. The survey found that 18% of U.S. households earning from $100,000 to $150,000 said they could afford only the basics, with an additional 10% saying they sometimes can’t afford even those staples.

“We clearly have what used to be upper middle income — 75 to 150k — folks who are saying it just isn’t so,” says Candace Corlett, the president of WSL/Strategic Retail. “A quarter of them are saying, ‘I can barely afford the basics.'” So while six-figure incomes used to represent affluence, that’s no longer the case.

Of course, as The Fiscal Times has written before, in many parts of the country, an annual income of $250,000 could easily leave a typical family in the red once all their expenses and taxes are factored in.

That $150,000 is based on average costs for housing, food, clothing, etc. — perhaps in a place like Peoria, Ill. If it takes that kind of money to have a decent middle-class life in Peoria, what would it take to match it in a major metropolitan area?

We used Bankrate’s cost-of-living comparison calculator to measure the difference between Peoria and other cities and chose five of the top 10 U.S. cities (not just the top five) with the highest costs of living, according to Kiplinger. We added Chicago to represent the middle of the country.

The New York City area was the most expensive. Equivalent income: $337,311.87. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 124.9%.
Honolulu area. Equivalent income: $258,099.19. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 72.1%.
San Francisco area. Equivalent income: $255,409.43. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 70.3.%.
San Jose, Calif., area. Equivalent income: $243,260.85. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 62.2%.
Washington, D.C., area. Equivalent income: $218,127.70. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 45.4%.
Chicago area. Equivalent income: $182,045.06. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 21.4%.
The struggling economy has clearly created a recession mindset among consumers. When asked how long the recession will continue, 80% of people say three years or more, Corlett says — up from 43% back in 2010. “They may not literally mean the government’s definition of a recession, but they certainly mean a recessionary mindset for them,” Corlett says.

Those financial pressures have made consumers much more cost-conscious. Three-quarters of women now say it’s “important to get the lowest price on everything they buy,” up 12 percentage points from 2008 and 22 percentage points from 2004. To that end, more are using coupons (68% vs. 61% in 2010) and buying only when items are on sale (45% vs. 38% in 2010).

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, young people — those from the ages of 18 to 34, who have long been the prized target of marketers — were more likely than other age groups to say they don’t have enough money to cover their basic needs. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed put themselves in that group, compared with 17% of those age 35 to 54 and 13% of people 55 or older.

An IRS breakdown of U.S. incomes, released the day after the consumer survey, provides a reminder of why people, even those with six-figure incomes, may be feeling poorer. For tax year 2010, adjusted gross incomes reported to the IRS rose 5.2% to $8 trillion total — the first increase after a couple of years of declines. But while tax filers making more than $250,000 saw their total incomes climb almost 14%, those earning from $50,000 to $100,000 gained just 1.5%.

*The article was originally here but no longer a working link: http://money.msn.com/family-money/article.aspx?post=c20e622f-9f80-4b2d-90fd-164ead94b9b1

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Free Dinner and Tim Keller!

TogetherLAdinnerNext week will be a historic gathering of many of the Christian leaders and churches that are in Los Angeles. Pastor Tim Keller will be coming and I’m looking forward to all the women and men from various denominations, ethnic groups and theological affinities to join together to seek understanding as to how to join God in blessing our city. I’m hosting a dinner prior to the Tim Keller talk with a panel discussion on “Revival in the City: Azusa Street Then and Now.” I hope you’ll RSVP below.

Tim Keller had a large role in Kati and I leaving our previous ministry (which we really loved) and coming to LA. Back in the fall of 2010, Tim Keller had a rather intimate meet-and-greet in LA where he simply shared about the need for pastors and leaders to commit to the 11th most populous global metro area and one of the most influential cities in the world–Los Angeles. After he spoke there was a Q&A time and I had the chance to ask the last question regarding Keller’s point that church renewal always happens in the city center first. My question was, “In LA, where is the center of the city?” But just as I was about to ask Keller this important question, his handlers swept him away! (actually his assistant simply didn’t want him to be overwhelmed with another question so they ended the Q&A time and left me hanging).

But after the crowd started to disperse, Keller came to me and Kati personally and said, “I’m so sorry about that! I hate that you didn’t get to ask your question. What was it?” And for the next 20 minutes I got to talk with Tim Keller about the importance of church planting and church renewal happening throughout the entire city of LA and in churches and ministries of all shapes and sizes. Keller said, “LA has not one center but probably dozens. You need to do church-planting and church renewal in every neighborhood in LA.” We talked about a lot more stuff and he was so gracious to give us 20 minutes of his time back in 2010. Kati and I never forgot that conversation and it was a pivotal moment for us to begin praying about an opportunity to come to LA to do participate in church renewal and church planting in downtown.

So I’m hoping you’ll come and hear Tim Keller live on Saturday February 28th at 7PM after the dinner or join me for the whole conference (Feb.26-28). You won’t regret it and maybe the Spirit will convict you as well about joining God in blessing the city!

You can RSVP here for the 5:30PM dinner and Azusa Street discussion (free): http://unionchurchla.celebrations.com/TogetherLaDinner

Register here for the Saturday night Tim Keller speaking event after dinner discussion (free) event: http://togetherla2015saturday.splashthat.com/

And here for the conference and workshops with Tim Keller Thursday – Saturday (use TLA30 for a discount): http://togetherla2015.splashthat.com/

 

 

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