Defining Your Dream

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Defining Your Dream

It takes courage to put a stake in the ground and define your dream. There is a lot at stake and it is much easier to just leave things unsaid. Placing specifics around the who, the what, the why and the how of your dream puts a person in a place where they could ultimately be disappointed or hurt. Dreaming is a bit of a double-edged sword. Part of dreaming is this safe, utopic-like time filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. The other side of dreaming involves a conscious self-realization which allows one to really specify what they believe God has put them here for. Both of these types of dreaming are valuable and required for the full life which Jesus spoke about so many times in the Bible. Here in this article, I hope to put my stake in the ground. I hope to do what I would encourage each one of you to do which is to dream with intentionality.

Pivotal Moments

Back in 2008 I was working for Apple, when a series of events unfolded which became turning points in my life as a believer and my career as a mobile developer. In a six month period of time, I learned I loved apps and wanted to work in this field. Second, I saw my church, Life.Church, release the Bible App which would change the way many engage with the Bible forever. Third, I started down the path towards a career as a mobile developer. Looking back it is easy to see, but walking through the events I had no clue just how pivotal these events would become in my life.

My Love for Apps

Oh wow, it is 2008, the iPhone is still a new piece of technology, Apple launched this app on the iPhone called the App Store and I am awestruck by this combination of events. App developers of all kinds are seizing the gold rush of the App Store by publishing their apps to the App Store. I am determined to stay on top of all the latest and greatest apps in the App Store. I was working for Apple Retail which gave me plenty of time and made this task super convenient. Being the resident App expert at our Apple Store gave my time there even greater meaning.

Life.Church Releases YouVersion

So here I was enjoying the glory days of the App Store and the iPhone when my church, Life.Church, releases the Bible as an app. Much like Bobby Gruenewald, I had longed to engage in the Bible in a more consistent way, but I had struggled to do so because I did not always have my Bible around with me wherever I went. With the release of the Bible App, I was now afforded the convenience that many have longed for. The Bible was now with me everywhere I went. The App was gaining unbelievable traction in the App Store and it was an exciting time to say the least.

The accessibility of YouVersion was a wonderful convenience, but was not an overnight game-changer in terms of my daily walk with God. I would say my Bible engagement went way up, but it took some work on my part to engage with the Bible on a daily basis.

My Time at University

In 2011, I started down the road towards my dream of becoming a mobile developer by enrolling in the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University Online. In many ways, I believed this would give me the credibility to enter into my career as a mobile developer. At this point working at YouVersion was only a nice, warm and fuzzy type dream. It sounded like a wonderful, great idea, but the dream had no legs at this point in time. Over the next few years, Full Sail University would prove to be more of a burden than anything.

Empty Promises and misplaced attempts at validation

At the end of a few years at FSO, the program had drastically failed to deliver on what it promised. My class of sixteen students was the inaugural class for the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University. Out of a total of sixteen students, I was one of four left in the program who would make it to the final academic year of the program. The other twelve had dropped out due to a university program which was severely lacking or for personal problems.

The staff and administration at the university were unwilling to listen or act on any input I was providing them regarding the new mobile development program I was attending. I was without any portfolio pieces to begin my career and I now had a huge mountain of debt which was overwhelming. The promised portfolio projects did not exist. In the software world we call these projects vaporware.

Perseverance

The program was no longer delivering the quality education the school promised and instead of graduation getting closer, it seemed farther away. I was spending an absorbinant amount of time each day on school knowing these projects were useless when it came to future employers or clients. Fourteen hour days back to back to back were commonplace. I could not hold down any sort of work due to the time commitment needed by the program. I was too far into the program to just back out. I owed well over $40,000 in FSO school loans.

Tough Decisions

Here I found myself at a crossroads of sorts, keep going to school knowing it would do little to help me land work, or pursue other avenues such as building my own projects. I had several ideas in mind, but I had put these aside while I got what I initially thought was proper applied computer science education. I was burning the candle at both ends and I had little to show for the time or money invested with FSO. At this time, I had no intentions of working for anyone else. I had lost all hope of working for Life.Church, after applying to work for Life.Church many times without any potential leads. I wanted to build my own products and possibly take on independent contract work. This was my dream.

Recognizing Pivotal Moments

So here I was, my dream had effectively stalled. Instead of bringing me closer to my dream, I had managed to put more obstacles between me and my dream. Each of these events were turning points in the pursuit of my dream or my Chazown. Realizing my vocation, watching as YouVersion was released to the world, and my time at university all taught me things and all point towards my Chazown. By taking time to look back at these now, it is easy to see God at work. I can also see God pointing me towards something I could not see at the time.

Start With Love

Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash

There is so much written regarding the subject of love that I often wonder why, as followers of Jesus, we do not spend more time or effort on the subject of love. Love is a very broad topic and to try to address it appropriately, I believe one should take time to focus on the different parts. It is easy for us to simply focus on what gets a lot of our attention which is romantic love. I am not so interested in writing about romantic love, so I will focus on what is commonly known as agape love.

Start with the Basics


As new followers of Jesus, it is interesting to observe what we focus on or what we are told to focus by other, more seasoned believers who have placed their faith in Jesus. I began my journey as a follower of Jesus at the young age of eight years of age. I was raised in what many would classify as a very traditional Southern Baptist Church in a suburb of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where we had “big church” and “Sunday School” each week. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I share the details to provide context.

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in a Sunday church service where I responded to an invitation to follow Christ. I did so by standing and walking down a church aisle to the front of the room where the alter was located. I was greeted by a pastor who discussed with me what accepting Jesus meant. After hearing what he had to say, I eagerly said yes to following Jesus and began my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ.

What followed in the weeks and months to come lead up to being baptized and becoming a regular attender at my church. This was nothing new, as I had attended with my parents for as long as I can remember. Of all the things I remember about the beginning of my faith, these are the parts that are most clear. And while I certainly do not think this approach was a bad one or the wrong one, I want to purpose what I believe would radically change things for many believers today.

I believe that understanding what it means to accept or follow Jesus is crucial to a new believer’s journey, period. However, I would purpose that what believers should do differently following the basics of what it means to follow Jesus is that we should start with love. If we really would look at what is important to Jesus then I think it is clear that Love is a core component of what it means to follow Jesus.

After the Basics… Start With Love

Of all the things we could possibly focus on with new followers of Jesus, the greatest thing we could do to point them in the right direction is to focus their attention on love. More specifically, our perfect example, the selfless love of Jesus. When asked about the most important things for believers Jesus responded with love. In Matthew chapter 22 verse 36, the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about what is most important. “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Now keep in mind that the intentions of the Pharisees in this passage are not good, but we learn so much from the answer Jesus provided.

In verse 37, we see Jesus’ response to the Pharisees manipulative question. “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” So out of everything Jesus could have said in this pivotal moment, He spoke about love.

The priorities of Jesus were simple, Love God and Love Others. So out of everything we could or maybe should throw at new followers of Jesus, we should start with love. In the days and weeks to come, I will attempt to learn more about love. I will do my best to appropriately share what I learn along this journey. I hope you will come alongside me as we learn about what it means to Start with Love.

What it Takes to Build Something Truly Great

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What It Takes To Build Something Truly Great

There’s something special about releasing a piece of software into the world. It invokes a certain level of excitement and requires a level of vulnerability which is unlike anything else I have experienced. Seeing your dreams and your hard work come to life in the form of an application or “app” is something else. For many software developers or designers, the feelings associated with creating something out of nothing is a major motivator. In this article, I will discuss two of the mental challenges associated with shipping an app as an independent app developer.

There are two categories of emotions involved in this scenario. In the first category, there is tremendous excitement. The moment you receive the notification that your app is now “in review” is unlike any other. Your heart begins to race! Knowing that after numerous hours of toil working on the app and several moments of frustration, your app is inching ever-closer to being public. All of the time and effort is about to become something real to the outside world. This thing you have worked on will now be available for others to download.

On the other hand there is this fear. There is fear it won’t be good enough. You start asking yourself questions like, “will anyone download the app?” If your app is a true first version, then it probably lacks some level of polish or functionality you desire in your application in an effort to publish the first version. First versions vary greatly in the amount of features or polish they contain. Many first versions, or 1.0, serve as a proof of concept. Applications for corporations or organizations tend to have a longer initial development cycle when compared to personal or independent projects.

The application purpose often dictates the amount of features which go into the first version. If the application is for an employer, then most likely the app is built according to a project specification which was created by a team of people. If this version is for your own personal project, then you have more control as to what goes into the first version. This is where I found myself when releasing Pure Trivia. I was the one creating the specifications and I was the one implementing the specifications.

What it takes to build something great is a bit of an acquired set of skills. It is knowing when to ship the first version. Knowing what the product needs to prove the concept to your audience. It is recognizing what is truly important for your project and letting that guide your decisions. It is deciding to ship something “good enough to move on” (Craig Groeschel) versus not shipping something at all because it is not “perfect.” It is overcoming the internal battle of vulnerability so your product can be seen. It is knowing that no matter the level of polish, others will find things to criticize.

I’ll be the first to say that this article is probably not the roadmap to greatness which you desired when you tapped or clicked on it. I do hope that it will shed some light on the psychology or mental challenges involved in shipping great software. I hope it encourages others to be vulnerable and share their creation with the world. I hope that it educates the general public on what exactly goes into building the apps they download each and every day.