5 Life Lessons I Learnt From Being a Wedding Emcee.

Destination_weddingFebruary 22nd , 2015 was a big day.

My friends Russell and Chloe Lewis said “bye” to bachelorhood while Kevin Wilson almost said “bye” to his sanity.

It was my first stint as a wedding emcee.  And I was terrified.

But after some reflection (and repentance), I realized that not all was lost. It actually turned out to be a fun evening! At any rate, here are some life lessons I learnt from being a wedding emcee. Hopefully you can resonate with them as well.

1) It’s not always about you.
Probably the most important lesson of the experience. The day is about the newlyweds; not the emcee. I can’t recall the number of times where I thought that I was the main event of a team meeting, a ministry, or a classroom discussion. Heck, I still struggle with that!

It’s both terrifying and liberating to realize that it’s not always about you. Terrifying, because you are not in control. Liberating, because you don’t always have to be.

2) Know your role.
If I had not done some research beforehand, I would have gone to the reception dinner thinking that the emcee’s primarily role was to hype the crowd up. Although that was a small part of the role, it certainly was not the heart of it. The main role of an emcee – I found out – is to effectively lead the wedding participants through the program. As the “Master of the Ceremonies” I had to know the schedule in and out to do this. Not rehearse jokes.

What is your role in your area of influence? Is it entertain or explain? Speak up or shut up? Knowing your role alleviates personal pain and defuses public angst.

3) Simple is best.
An inevitable result of knowing the schedule is the simplicity in which it is communicated. I found this out the hard way when I was unsure about certain details of the programming towards the close of the day. As a result, I felt like I was overcomplicating simple directions. When I was aware and prepared, however, I realized that my communication became simpler.

Albert Einstein once quipped, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you haven’t understood it yourself.”

People like simple. Understand it well to make it simple.

4) Be yourself.
The first thing I said to the audience was a joke. It sounded good in my head, but when it came out of my mouth, I could literally hear groans of dejection echoing across the hallway. No one laughed. It was terrible.
Fortunately, I said this only to the first group of guests who had been waiting to get into the reception hall so the damage to my pride was minimal.

Even though it sounded funny to me, it certainly wasn’t something Kevin Wilson would have said. So I gathered myself from the floor, reintroduced myself to all the guests, and decided to be myself.

I was listening to a podcast and this guy defined authenticity as giving up who you think should be for who you really are.

Floored me. Hope you resonate with that as much as I do.

5) Affirm yourself.
I don’t about you but it’s easy for me to focus on the negatives and get bogged down by the things that did not go well. But since last week I’ve been trying this new thing of verbally affirming myself. On my way home from the reception, I congratulated myself for a job well done and it felt great.

Kevin Wilson needs to hear Kevin Wilson say good things to him more often. I realized that one affirmation from Kevin Wilson in front of the mirror packed more punch than a dozen from others.

As a result of affirming and appreciating who I am irrespective of others’ opinions about me, I have found it increasingly easy to affirm and appreciate others irrespective of my opinions about them!

Those are some of the takeaways from the experience. Which lesson did you resonate with? Leave a comment below!

20 Ways to Not Waste Your Snow Day.

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I am snowed in.

It’s nice 🙂

And I’m sure the same feeling is shared, for the most part, by my sleep-deprived, frost-bitten friends who attend Andrews University located in Narnia, Michigan.

If your school/workplace declares a snow day, and you have a whole day just for youself, here are some things you could do:

1) Call your parents.
‘cos let’s face it: You never will otherwise. And they are wondering how you’re doing.

2) Call your brother/sister.
Same reason. Minus them entirely caring about how you’re doing.

3) Cook something nice for yourself.
I like to take my sweet time cooking. It can relax you. IF you can cook, that is.

4) Read few chapters from a book that’s not required reading.

5) Watch few episodes of your favorite Tv show.
FEW. like… eight..

6) Catch up on homework.
Props to you if you actually do homework today.

7) Shovel your neighbors driveway.
and don’t tell em. 🙂

8) If you’re not single and both are snowed in, plan a date with your significant other.
🙂

9) If you are single, pray for a significant other. ( OR go hangout out with someone you wanted to hangout but u didn’t because you were too chicken to to do it. )

10) Go snowboarding.
or ‘borrow’ a tray from your local cafeteria and slide down your local tubing hill.

11) Learn something new.

12) Have a jam session with your musical buddies.

13) Jump in the snow.
Totes fun.

14) Go cross country skiing.
Never done it. Let me know how it is if you have.

15) Drive around your town ( if possible ) and see if  anyone needs a ride somewhere.

16) Visit a friend you haven’t chilled with in a while.
(no pun intended)

17) Make something for your neighbor. 
Don’t charge em. Just give.

18) Invest in some projects you’ve put on the shelf for a while. 

19) Spend some quality, unrushed time with your Maker.
Let this be more than the 10 minutes in the morning as you’re rushing out of your room. It’s worth it.

20) SLEEP. 
Nuff said.

What about you? Anything you would add on this list?? Leave a comment below!

The Gospel According to Sriracha

sriracha-sistine-chapel

There are two kinds of people in this world.

People who have tried Sriracha. And people who have not.

If you are here, chances are that either you know what Sriracha is, have tried it, or wondering where this gospel is found in the Bible ( check in the appendix…… just kidding)

For those falling under the aforementioned third category, Sriracha is the world’s greatest sauce.
If you haven’t tried it yet,  I suggest you stop reading this article, go to your local Asian store, buy a bottle,  and put it on as many food items as possible and immediately consume them.

You will see the light.

Sriracha, predictably, is also my most favorite sauce. I like it so much, I douse Sriracha on my Sriracha.

Recently, one of my Sriracha-lover friends mentioned a documentary made on this ubiquitous, fan-mongering sauce, the origins of which no one seemed to know. Being an obsessed fan, I wanted to know more about this condiment than just its effect on my tongue.

I watched all 35 minutes of it.

As I began reflecting on the documentary, I could not help but see parallels between my favorite sauce and the good news of the Christian message ( i.e the gospel)!

Here are some napkin-notes I took while watching it.

1) Sriracha does not advertise. Ever.

I was dumb-founded when I heard that David Tran, the CEO of Huy Fong foods and the mastermind behind Sriracha, does not advertise his product. “We don’t have time to advertise” David says. “There’s only time for production. I’m busy looking at my chili supply that I don’t have time to look at Facebook or Twitter” he continues.

Tran spends almost all of his time with the source of the product that he doesn’t have time to be concerned with advertising it. As a result, the quality of the product does its own advertising.

Reminds me of John 15 where Jesus gives a lesson in horticultural to his bros.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Jesus tells his disciples that when they are connected to Him, they won’t have time to flaunt their “fruit.” The more they would spent time checking their relationship with the Source and less on themselves, the more their friends will see and share their Christ with others.

What if we spent less time advertising our Christianity and more time with our Christ?

How would that look like?

2) Sriracha forms authentic community.

Sauces don’t form community. Sriracha does.

When I wore my Sriracha shirt to class few weeks ago, I was ambushed by at least half a dozen people. All of them were diverse, yet unified by one goal:

They loved Sriracha ( And they wanted my shirt ).

Everywhere I go, I invariably meet Sriracha fanatics like myself who inevitably end up reminiscing the moments when their tastebuds were resurrected.
It fascinates me how community is formed around a green-capped, plastic bottle!

Part of the reason, I think, is how affordable it is.

Tran purposely marked down the price per bottle in order to make it accessible to both college student and congressman alike. He loved his recipe so much that he wanted everyone to try it.Sriracha-Mac-and-Cheese-Baked1

Coincidentally, Scripture mentions that God so loved the world that he wanted everyone to try His “product” – salvation.

The gift of salvation – the person of Jesus Christ –is made available, accessible, and affordable to every human being.  Those who had “tasted” this gift were not only transformed, but also formed a community of “fanatics” who’s only purpose was to offer this gift to others.

Today they call it the “church.”

3) Sriracha is a symbol of sacrificial commitment.

David Tran is boss.

As an immigrant from Vietnam during the 50’s, he had to endure many hardships prior to starting his business. After noticing the lack of hot sauces in local Vietnamese restaurants, Tran began to experiment with chili and spices and concocted his own sauce.
It took him one week to make one bottle, but he persevered.

That was 4 decades ago.

Now David has a factory that manufactures 3000 bottles per hour, 24 hours, 6 days per week raking over 1 billion dollars in global sales.

Because of one man’s commitment to his passion and the sacrifices he was willing to make for the benefit of others, millions around the world can now truly taste food.

The Christian message is rooted in One who was willing to give it all up. One who was faithful to His commitment to save the world even to the very end. Because of what He did, millions around the world are still able to truly taste life.

———-

Can’t wait for that glorious day. When at that great banquet table, with all who have endured till the end, my Savior eats with me.

It will be fantastic.

Especially when He reaches under the table…

..and pulls out His Sriracha bottle.

🙂

A Sriracha lover? What do you like about it? Any more connections to anything you can find with it??
Feel free to share in the comments below!

Why Christians Should Not Focus On Being Like Jesus.

photo-1421809313281-48f03fa45e9fI’ve always wondered what the phrase “be like Jesus” meant.

Does it mean to copy His appearance? If so, does that mean I had to grow a beard, sow my own clothes, and chuck my shoes for some sandals?

Does it mean to imitate His personality? Then does that mean I have to swap my hyena laugh for a sanctified snicker? Sing softer in the shower? Or replace my srilankanamerican accent for a more middle-eastern one?

Or does it mean to mimic his character?  Be more loving? Caring? Inclusive?

However way you look at it, there were people in history who made it their life’s aim to be like Jesus.
One such individual was the apostle Paul who appeals to his readers to “imitate him as he imitates Christ.” In another letter, he encourages some church folk to fix their eyes on Jesus as they run the race of faith.

As a matter of fact, both scripture and history are replete with individuals who proclaimed that the strongest argument for Christianity were Christians who acted like Jesus.

This even resonated with the famous Indian liberationist Mahatma Gandhi, who made the following statement:

“I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.”

Ouch.

Here’s the bottom line:  Christ-like behavior is the acid-test of true Christianity.

But here’s the thing..

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus.

“Wait a minute, Kev. How can you be like Jesus without focusing on being like him??”

Buckle up.

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus. The word that needs to be sharpied and spotlighted in that sentence is focus.

I don’t know about you, but I thought that focusing on being like Jesus was the way to do this Christianity thing. I thought I was supposed to focus on walking, talking, and acting like Jesus to display his character.

And I tried. I tried my best to be more loving, be more caring, and be more inclusive.  I tried my utmost to be Jesus-y with others, especially towards my non-Christian friends to be “salt” and “light.” I tried my best to have the right thoughts, the right actions, and the right behaviors.
But instead of becoming more like Jesus, I found myself becoming more disappointed.

Because the more I focused on being like Jesus, the less I focused on Jesus and more on my works.

Check out how Dallas Willard puts it in his book Renovations of the Heart:

“The external manifestation of Christlikeness is not the focus of Christian spiritual formation. When outward forms or behaviors are made the main emphasis, the process will be defeated, falling into deadening legalisms…”

Mercy.

Now let’s just say that my trying to be like Jesus actually made me more like Jesus. If that was true ( and I wish it was sometimes! ) the object of glory will then be my works instead the grace of Christ!

Inevitably, my spirituality will become my savior while my Savior will be used for my spirituality.

Christians should not focus their efforts on being like Jesus. In theological jargon, that’s called “righteousness by works” and that’s not how the game’s played.

“So Kevin, if I am to be like Jesus, and focusing on being like him is not going to get me there, what else am I supposed to do??”

Glad you asked. Here’s my answer and the seminal point of this post:

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus. Christians should focus on being with Jesus.

In John 15, Jesus preaches a sermon where he likens himself to a grape vine and his followers to attached branches. Then he makes a remarkable statement:

“If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Notice. The branches were not asked to focus on producing fruit ( good works) to produce fruit. They were asked to remain with the vine so they can bear fruit.

Christians are not called to produce fruit. They are called to bear fruit.
Christians are not called to focus on producing Christ-like behavior. Christians are called to bear the characteristics of Christ by remaining with Jesus. This is confirmed by Paul when he says that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure.

So when you are with Jesus, spending time alone with him, talking with him, meditating on his love for you, and receiving his grace, He will transform you from the inside out. The more we admit we are powerless to beat sin and inculcate Christ-like behavior by ourselves, the more we open our souls to the work of God to change us into the likeness of Christ.

But isn’t that works? Yes it is. A lot of works.
But the most important work of a Christian is to focus all the efforts in being with Jesus in word, thought, and deed.
This requires you to forgo your need to prove your worth to God so that Jesus guide and transform you.
That’s probably why Oswald Chambers says

“all I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be holy.”

Don’t focus on being like Jesus. Focus on being with Jesus. And He will make you more like Him.

What are your thoughts? What are some ways you can start being with Jesus instead of trying to be like him?
Leave a comment below!

 

A Letter to the Silent Disciple (A Christian response to Ferguson, Garner, and recent events)

Dear Silent Disciple,

I get it.

Everyone else is talking while you’re quiet. You’re been following the story, albeit from afar, through your twitter feed or FB newsfeed. Some of your friends have been picking and choosing chairs on the table of truth; whether it be the ones labelled “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” or “justice matters.”  People are streaming in, picking their chair of choice, all the while discussing and debating on where they stand and what should be done.

But you haven’t picked.

You are not even in the room.

I don’t know what your deal is. Maybe the reputation you’ve garnered in social circles or social media circles is more important to you than the family of Garner.  Maybe you have more important things to worry about than what’s happening hundreds of miles away. Maybe the atrocities that are happening elsewhere don’t really concern you directly. Maybe you believe that whatever you say or do is only going to be a pebble toss on a sea of opinions. Maye you’re just disinterested in the whole thing. Maybe you just don’t care.

But maybe…. you do.

Maybe you’re legitimately concerned. Maybe you’re so concerned that you are trying to figure out what’s the right course of action YOU need to take. Maybe you’ve been raised in a cross cultural context where everybody gets along. Maybe you’re struggling to pick a chair because you hear truth in all sides. Maybe you don’t even WANT to sit because you are so deeply troubled that you just have to move from one side of the table to the other to be there for all people. Maybe you are wondering what all this has to do with you being Christian.

Maybe you are wondering what I’m wondering right now:

As a disciple of Christ, should I respond? If so how?

If, in case you’re wondering that, this is my ‘two rupees’: ( because #SriLanka )

Let me be the first one to tell you this:

It’s OK to be silent.

I know you’ve seen many lash out at each other using their polemical whips laced with stats and statements. You’re so distressed by the opinion wars that you’d rather shut up and do what you can quietly.

That’s ok, because Jesus had a disciple just like you.

Someone who was didn’t really want to be a part of the action, but remained behind the scenes throughout his entire discipleship journey. He was a follower. A disciple. Yet silent. Unassuming. Quiet.

And here’s the kicker:

He was silent even while his Lord and Master was being crucified. Even while His hands were raised. Even while He couldn’t breathe. Even when everyone around Him was convinced that His life didn’t matter.

This silent disciple is named in the bible as Joseph of Arimathea.

Now before you get a little too comfortable and try to add him on Facebook, let me share with you what else we know about this dude:

“This man ( Joseph ) went to Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb and departed.” ( Matthew 27:58-60 – Bible)

Joseph was quiet. But not for long. When he knew he had to act, he acted. In fact, Joseph did what Jesus’ other well-intentioned, opinionated disciples were unwilling to do; sanitize his body and give him the dignity of a burial.

So what am I getting at?

Bro, sis, It’s ok to be silent. But fortunately or unfortunately for you, it won’t be ok forever.

I know it’s tough. But it was even tougher for Joseph. Being a wealthy Pharisee, he risked his social standing, any hopes of being promoted, his job, his family, and maybe even his life to do what he did. But when he knew he needed to do something out of his love for his Lord, he just went ahead and did what he could.

Didn’t tweet awater-drop-ripplebout it. Didn’t Facebook it. Didn’t make a documentary out of it. Just did it.

Friend. Both an earthquake and a pin drop accomplishes the same thing: Breaking silence. So please don’t compare your contribution to the conversation to someone else’s. Do what you can. It could be as small as “liking” a post because it shows solidarity with what you believe is right, or as big as being a part of a march to create awareness to pray for the victims as well as those who trying to do the right thing. Do you.

When should you do it? Only you know. Joseph didn’t ask.

At the end of the day, as a fellow disciple of Christ writing to a fellow disciple, whether you are coaxed into opinion or silenced by it, I want you to remember this:

Jesus didn’t need to go on a protest because His very life WAS a protest.

A protest against injustice. A protest against pride. A protest against sin.

My prayer for you brother, sister, is that this Christmas you will not see Jesus as a vulnerable baby but as a born king; whose birth spoke to the injustice of the Bethlehem infanticide, whose death answers injustice everywhere else, and whose soon return sings of an existence where joy is indescribable and “injustice” is indecipherable.

Merry Christmas.

What’s the right course of action for you as a disciple of Christ? Please share your thoughts and comments below!

What I Learnt When I was Fired From a Summer Camp ( and why I’ll be taking a break from writing )

Last year, I worked as a camp counselor at Pine Springs Ranch Christian Camp (PSR). My experience at the camp was cut short due to a forest fire which significantly affected the camp. Due to considerable damage to the sewage plant and other facilities, the camp was cancelled for the summer.

So I was fired. quite literally.

But during my few weeks there, I jotted down the following “lessons” for the sake of my own memory.

1) There’s nothing more important than calling kids to Jesus Christ.

2) There are very few things that are more valuable than a Christ-like character.

3) Humility opens doors to many good things.

4) People are always watching you. Especially when you think they are not. 

5) You are capable of giving your personal best at all times. Your best will be inevitably different from someone else’s.

6) Take care of your character; your reputation will take care of itself.

7) “There is no limit to where a man can go if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” : President Reagan.

8) “Seek first the kingdom of GOD and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” : Jesus

9) Be thankful for the things that you take for granted; like your own bathroom and the sphincter muscle (look it up).

10) There is so much power when young people are united in Christ.  

It’s been a year since the fire happened. But I’ll be heading up to the same camp tomorrow morning to start my service as camp chaplain for the summer. 🙂

This will be a new experience. I don’t know what to expect.

But I’m going to record as much as I can. Soak in as much as I can. And be inspired as much as I can.

So I will be taking a break from writing till August. I pray that God will use me in any way He sees fit during the next few weeks.

Adios!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in (me) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:6

What Subway Taught Me About The Love of God

I was starving.

The cacophony of voices from the transiting passengers at the Dubai International Airport was muffled by the growls of my stomach. Yes. I should have bought something in the plane. But i I’d just spent half my inheritance on a baguette at the Charles de Gaulle
airport in Paris prior to this trip.

And who in their right mind would pay $5 for a pack of crackers??

Where were the days when airline food was FREE??

This was injustice. Oppression.

Anyhow, I spotted the most affordable eatery in the place after quickly scanning the lounge. Who would have thought that a green and yellow neon sign can generate so much joy? Subway was an oasis in the middle of a concrete desert. I was never grateful for cheap fast food in my life.

I rushed over and hastily ordered a foot-long philly cheesesteak with all its trappings. My eyes lusted over my sub as it evolved from bun to succulence. After it was made, the server packaged it carefully, received my card, and waited for the receipt. “There is a God.” I thought to myself as I contemplated eating the sub just a few moments later.

Then the unthinkable happened.

The server looks back at me and utters four painful words.

“Your card has been denied.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. But then it dawned on me. Distracted by my hunger, I forgot that I had splurged my card to its dregs in Paris.

The sub was made and the cashier was waiting for a response.

Frantically, I dug into my pockets to see if I had any cash. Imagine my surprise when I felt some notes! I emptied my pockets to find 10,000 Lebanese pounds I had from a previous trip couple of days earlier.

I told the cashier to save the sub for me till I get some cash for him. With two 5000 pounds notes in my hand, I hurried to the cash exchange to convert that money to dollars.

I got $5. Inflation sucks.

When I came back and gave the money to the server, he told me that it wasn’t enough to cover for the sub. I was still short. Just in case something like this happened, plan B was to break down in front of him and start throwing a tantrum.

But that wasn’t necessary. For what the server mentioned afterwards more than satisfied my hunger.

“You still short, boss. But man behind you in line overheard problem and when you went away, he paid for your sub in full. Here is your sub. Thank you, come again!”

….

You see, while I was still broke, while I was still hungry, while I was away trying to find some way to satisfy my hunger by myself, the man who had been right next to me in line all this time, paid for me in full.

The Bible says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins (Romans 5:8). While we were still distant from God, he sacrificed himself for us. Jesus Christ showed His love to me when he voluntarily gave himself up for me so that through Him, I can truly live; in this world and in the world to come.

True satisfaction starts when you realize that there are hungers that even food can’t satisfy. I was in my teens when I realized that and His love has satisfied my deepest longings.

What about you? How have you experienced the love of God in your own life? Leave a comment below!