How to Make the Most of 2017: Count Your Days

It’s January 2. The new year has promises of fresh starts, great plans, and high expectations. This is a three part series on how to make the most of it. If we follow these steps, then the excitement we feel at the start will turn to celebration at the end.

If we want to make 2017 an epic year, then we need to remember that it’s not unlimited. We’ve all committed to doing something at the beginning of the year only to arrive at the end with the task still unfinished. This is usually followed by, “I can’t believe it’s December already! It feels like 2016 just started!” So whatever those plans are, remember that there is a limited amount of time to get them done.

I heard an unforgettable nugget of wisdom from Rachel Ong, CEO and founder of Rohei and Cozeh. She’s also a member of Every Nation Singapore and consultant for Every Nation globally.

She said,

“If you want a great year, you just need twelve great months. If you want a great month, you need four great weeks. If you want a great week, you need seven great days. If you want a great day, you need twenty-four great hours. And if you want a great hour, you need sixty great minutes.”

I love this because it breaks down the daunting task of having a great year and makes it bite-sized. Have great minutes and hours – love your family, work hard, get some rest, eat well, pray to God. If we do this, we’ll have great days. And if we have great days, we’ll have a great year.

Count your days. Make it a habit to ask yourself from time to time, “Is this a great minute? Am I using this hour well? At the end of the year, will I be glad I spent the day this way?” If we do this, 2017 will be our best year yet.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

What are some great minutes or hours that you can do today?

Processing Last Year, Projecting Next Year

Everyone’s on the mode of looking back on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017. The way we look back on the past year determines how we look ahead to the next. This practice can be helpful if it builds our faith for the future. But it can be bad if it makes us fearful.

At a simple get-together before Christmas, I asked our campus team in Katipunan a question that brought unexpected reflection. The question was,

“How would you compare your expectations at the start of the year with how it actually turned out?”

We quickly realized this question would take a while for each person to answer. There were people who experienced relocation, reassignments, accidents, sicknesses, deaths in the family, financial challenges, and love life developments. Some of the team even got teary-eyed as they recounted their past year. We took the time to let each team member have their turn.

Our experiences were diverse, but there were common elements to them. There were three thoughts I took away from the conversation that apply to all of us.

  1. There was no way we could have predicted all of 2016. We can try to plot trends, but that won’t be enough. Personally, I couldn’t have predicted I’d get shingles while my wife was going through a miscarriage. We didn’t expect that moving into our new house would be delayed by more than six months. So much of 2016 was unexpected.
  2. God was faithful through it all. He never gave us more than we could bear. When life seemed impossible, relief and support would come from somewhere else. In fact, many of the setbacks turned out for good. The shingles took me out of work, canceled all my appointments, making me available to comfort my wife during the miscarriage. The delay in moving into our new house gave us valuable time with my parents and grandparents. God really makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.
  3. Because God is faithful, we don’t need to fear 2017. A number of us on the team expressed some concern or fear about 2017 with all the uncertainty in the world right now. But remembering what God did gives us hope. Next year will definitely have surprises of its own, but God will bring us through them. So we don’t need to fear.

What about you? How would you answer the question?

“How would you compare your expectations at the start of the year with how it actually turned out?”

Not a Lebron Fan (But I Loved the NBA Finals)

I’m not a Lebron fan. But anyone who’s a fan of the game of basketball would appreciate how history was made last month. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship for the first time in over fifty years, and they did it in an unprecedented manner.

It isn’t just basketball fans who can pick something up from the sport. Here are three leadership lessons that can serve as a reminder for anyone who wants to do something significant.

1. You can’t lead by momentum.

No team entered the NBA Playoffs with more momentum than the Golden State Warriors. They broke the regular season record for number of wins. Despite a challenging round against the Oklahoma Thunder, they bulldozed right through the Cavs in the first two games. The Finals seemed over right then. But then they faltered and lost, showing us that all the momentum in the world can’t win the championship for you.

Leadership works the same way. All the momentum in the world isn’t enough to achieve greatness. Momentum helps, but it can’t take the place of discipline, hard work, perseverance, and discerning what God is doing at the present. People who have momentum going for them must not relax. People who have momentum going against them can be encouraged that they can still overcome.


2. You can’t lead through statistics.

The other thing going against the Cavs were the statistics. The Golden State Warriors were having a record-breaking season. Their stars were having record-breaking seasons. And the most immovable statistic of all was against them: No one had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.

But there’s always a first time. And this year was that first time.

Statistics don’t win championships. Statistics tell what’s most likely to happen, not what will happen. Leaders can change statistics. Maybe you’ve had these thoughts before:

“No one from my family has every finished college.”

“This campus has never had a big campus ministry.”

“No Filipino has ever done that.”

“No one so young has ever succeeded at this thing.”

That may be what the statistics say, but maybe this is your breakthrough moment. Try anyway.


3. You can’t lead from public opinion.

When the Warriors won Games 1 and 2 quickly, many people rushed to proclaim the Cavaliers defeated. There are too many examples of this, so I’ll just use the social media of one particularly ignorant and mocking spectator.

Amazingly, the Cavaliers were unfazed by this devastating tweet from a thirty-three year old casual fan. And they  fought through all the negative opinions to win the championship. 

On the other hand, it seemed like the Golden State Warriors believed some of hype about them: “the greatest team ever.” Their own team owner bragged about how their front office was “light years ahead” of the other teams in the league. It was almost cinematic to see them fail to reach their ultimate goal after such a boast like that.


At the end of the day, their victory couldn’t lie in the external factors – not momentum, not statistics, not public opinion. It came down to having the will to win. Lebron stepped up his game the Cavs are the new champions.

So this is a warning and an encouragement to all of us.

To those who have all the momentum going for them, who can predict their victories based on the statistics, who have all the support of public opinion – don’t relax. Don’t coast. Stay hungry. Because all the momentum in the world cannot take the place of discipline, hard work, and Holy Spirit power.

And to those who seem to have everything going against them, who seem to be aiming for statistical and physical impossibilities, who have everyone saying they can’t make it – don’t give up. This might be the time that you defy all the odds and win.

click pic for source

click pic for source

Useless Knowledge

It’s one of the finest lines any follower of Jesus can walk: the line between knowing more about God so you worship Him and knowing more about God so you become proud. It’s so easy to confuse the two in the beginning, but the outcomes couldn’t be more different.

On one hand, we can learn about God and be brought to worship Him more, to love His Word, to obey His commands and to love others.

On the other hand, we can learn about God and become more critical of others, more inflated in our self-estimation, and unable to love the very people God Himself loves.

I’ve crossed this line many times that’s why I know it well. At one moment, I’m thrilled to be learning something new, amazed at God and how He does things. The next moment I’m rolling my eyes at what is obviously an error in someone else’s prayer or preaching. One

How could similar things produce such different outcomes?

I don’t know, but maybe this is why the Bible and Christian tradition have always warned against useless knowledge.

We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up but love builds up. If anyone imagines he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. I Corinthians 8:1–3

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Don’t stock up on useless knowledge. Instead, let our pursuit of knowledge only be part of a greater pursuit of a deeper with God and others.

click the pic for source

click the pic for source

Everyone’s Guilty Pleasure

Anyone who knows me knows that freshly baked, chewy, chocolate chip cookies are my guilty pleasure. Any notion of limiting my sugar intake flies out the window when presented with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies.

A guilty pleasure is something we know isn’t good for us but we enjoy anyway. We all have different guilty pleasures, but there’s one guilty pleasure every human enjoys: the misfortune of our enemies. Watching the ill-fortune that falls on someone who has annoyed us, fought us, antagonized us, or done anything against us is more irresistible than chocolate chip cookies.

I love it when a driver who’s been tailgating me gets stuck and delayed. I love it when a person who’s been bashing one of my friends online suddenly has an army of their own haters. I love reading articles about horrible people who suddenly have a stroke of well-deserved calamities. I’m ashamed to admit it. I know I shouldn’t indulge. But it’s my guilty pleasure. Can anyone else relate?

Now what makes it worth it is seeing the person’s misfortune. There’s little pleasure in hearing about someone else’s bad luck without seeing their pained, frustrated expression.

This is what makes God so aggravating when it comes to revenge. He doesn’t give us that pleasure.

In the fifth book of his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis describes a conversation between Aslan (a metaphor for Jesus) and the boy, Shasta. Shasta, the fisherman’s son, has been traveling with Aravis, the noblewoman. Aravis has wasted no opportunity to disdain Shasta’s low birth and lack of social graces. The entire time Shasta raged impotently.


Then they were attacked by a lion who scratched Aravis across the back. Shasta rescued her, and she began to see him in a different light. Later, Shasta encountered Aslan who revealed himself as the lion who had chased them all the way.

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.

I’m sure Shasta would have relished that scrap of gossip. It would have felt good to finally have something against the ever-superior Aravis. But Aslan didn’t allow Shasta that indulgence, even though Aravis had earned it.

Aslan then steered Shasta to his purpose – something much bigger than this feeble attempt at comeuppance. And you’ll have to read the book for the rest.

In the same way, God doesn’t allow us to indulge in revenge. Instead, He wants us to continue in our relationship with Him and discover His purpose for our lives. That’s worth meditating on so much more than any petty vengeance we can muster up.


  • Some of us are motivated to succeed to prove others wrong not to honor God. That’s a path to burnout and disappointment. When you finally succeed, it won’t make things better.
  • Some of us have people we love to hate. We regularly check their social media feeds to see where they are and compare ourselves. We’re angry when they succeed and we rejoice when they’re doing poorly. This is a waste of time.
  • Some of us act like our healing and restoration can only come after those who did us wrong have suffered an equal or greater amount. That’s not true. You can be healed when you put your faith in Jesus. In fact, part of your healing will be finally letting them live their own story. They hurt you, but Jesus heals you. They took something, but Jesus returns it and more. What the devil meant for evil, God turns to good.

Let it go. Trust God. Let’s not indulge in this guilty pleasure. Stick to chocolate chip cookies.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. 

“I wanted to see something great.”

WARNING: The following post features very graphic images. They are never used gratuitously and are essential to the point. But the shocking and jarring nature of this article could reopen some wounds and repeat the trauma of the NBA Finals to Golden State Warriors fans. My apologies.

In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Lebron James performed yet another feat that proved that he truly is the greatest player currently playing in the NBA. In the 3rd quarter, he stole a pass and got bumped by Steph Curry. He stumbled to the floor and picked himself up without losing his dribble. He looked up and passed the ball ahead to Kyrie Irving.

Irving took a few dribbles than lobbed it to Lebron for an alley oop but the pass was completely off the mark – much too high and too far to the right. Lebron picked up his speed, launched himself above the hapless Klay Thompson, and stretched out his right arm catching the errant ball. Incredibly, he slammed it through the ring, even as he was drifting away. The game was over even in the third quarter.

lebron-oop-dunk (1)

Reporters asked Kyrie Irving why he made such a bad pass to Lebron. His response was telling:

“I threw it very, very — you know, some people may say it’s a bad pass, but I wanted to see something great, and for him to do that, it was awesome. It was awesome.”

Kyrie threw a bad pass because he wanted to see something great. He wasn’t interested in a gentle lob. He was throwing an off target fastball of a pass knowing that Lebron had the speed, strength, and jumping ability to slam it home anyway. The impossibility of the pass only made the play greater.

In other words, Kyrie has faith in Lebron.

These words challenged me. If Kyrie has that much faith in Lebron James’ abilities, how much more should I believe in the abilities of my God? Lebron may be an expert on impossible shots, but God has delivered consistently on even greater impossible situations.

Prayer is like an alley oop to God. We’re just throwing it out there; He’s the one who slams it home. We get to participate and witness something great. So let’s throw Him the biggest prayers we can. He’ll deliver.

  • Let’s share the Gospel to seemingly impossible people, because we want to see something great: a changed life.
  • Let’s pray for miraculous healing, provision, and restoration of relationships, because God wants to do great things for His people.
  • Let’s believe that institutionalized poverty can be eradicated in our nation, because when God does that we will be privileged to witness something awesome.

Let’s live everyday expecting God to do great things in our everyday impossibilities.