Monday, October 31, 2005

I Want Blood!

And this isn't some stupid entry about Halloween. I truly want blood. I haven't been this livid over something for as long as I can remember. So I got a flat several weeks ago, got it patched, was installed incorrectly, destroyed my rim, blew out my tire, damaged my brake caliber... Went back today after getting second, third and fourth opinions, to see what compensation they plan to give me, and they denied all responsibility for the damage. It is going to cost me around $500 to get my car in safe condition again.

I email a professor, asking legal advice for what to do, but I don't know what he'll say. I want to sue them for free tires for life.

My blood is boiling.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Closer Than Skin

Yesterday was a good day. I saw God. Not as a physical manifastation, but in Spirit. It has been so long since I've felt God with me, truly with me and delighted to be with me. In that moment, God was fully realized. I have it wrong. There is never a time God is not with me, first of all. Second, He always is delighted when I approach Him. It is I who thinks God is disappointed and thus tolerates my approach. I understood yesterday. The Lord is always estatic for His children to come home. The Lord runs toward the prodigals. His love has no limit. There is no condition. It is free and freely given to those who accept it. And yesterday was the first time in a while when I remembered that, accepted it and felt again the strong love of God.

Why do we hide from the loving arms of God? Why do I? I think at some level it is a shame issue, at another level, a pride issue. I am too ashamed to present myself to God. I see my inadequacies dripping off me like sludge. I am daily Adam, fig leaf in place, aware of my nakedness and outside of God's design. Where are you, my son? Part of me is so calloused to the sludge and slime, it feels like an extension of my skin. That unnatural state makes me miserable. I start to question the fairness of my misery. How cruel of life to deal me this horrible hand. What kind of God allows such torment? Then I hear a whisper. I feel a hope arise within me. Is it freedom delivered? Seek and you shall find what you're looking for. Our received knowledge from the proverbial fruit gave us sight to the things of the world and simultaneously blinded us to the Spiritual things of God. We lose our vision of God's presence, His provision. His offering of mercy and righteousness.

And then something remarkable happens. The Lord, only through grace, reveals Himself in lovingkindness. We are exposed by God's brightness. We see our sin, we see the Lord, Jesus, and then it happens... We see there is no scorn on His face. He is delighted for He knows we see Him as He is, God delivered for us as payment for the sludge. And then we notice it. The filth is no more, for the darkness cannot be in the Light. We are naked before our redeemer, fully cleansed, unashamed and one with Him, closer than skin. And there is no other place on Earth as good as there in the warmth of His rays.

All that happened yesterday. Today... I here the whisper again. And it is the sweetest of sounds.

Friday, October 07, 2005

In the same old place

I find it quite amusing. In the moment, it is torture. But when I pull back from myself, look at the situation, it is funny.

I'm talking about procrastinating.

You see, I have zero of fifteen pages written for a paper that's due on Monday. It involves a group presentation, which most of my group has been less than helpful. We meet for the one and only time to prepare the afternoon before.

Here's the catch, which two weeks from now I'll laugh at: I'm leaving in several hours to go on a prayer team retreat for the weekend. It goes through Sunday afternoon, but I decided I needed to leave early to work on the paper.

All of that to say this: I definitely haven't gotten life figured out. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have the worst discipline. My priorities are jacked. I waste more than half of the waking day, and even some of that is taken up by sleep. I know certain things need to get done, but I avoid them. I retreat. I'm a coward. (Please don't mind this little confession).

I'm starting to figure out what my problem is. Mainly, it comes down to not applying myself. But there is more to it. You see, I want to live a life of meaning. I feel deep down in my soul that the life I live is lacking, and there seems to be this cloud about, blurring my vision, not allowing me to see where I'm at, who I'm with, who I am, what I am about.

Frustrated and confused, I lull the day away. I escape in the stories television portrays. I distract myself with sound bites, flashing images, virtual relationships, sleep.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - Jesus
Part of me is glad I get to go away for a bit and seek the Lord in prayer this weekend. I need to learn who I am in Him, his brother and friend. I know it in my mind, but not my heart. Not fully. Maybe then I can begin to see the cloud lifted and see clearly the full life God has for me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Buffalo Loop Trail

Let's just say Colorado is beautiful in September.

This is the first camp of our backpacking journey outside Fairplay, CO

Friday, August 19, 2005

Are there words to describe?

I'm the kind of person who starts to itch when surrounded by hundreds of people and I have nothing of importance to do. For example, I walked out of the Dining Commons just now, wanting to get away from everyone who were participating in the WOW Coffeehouse event. Loud music I can handle. The crowd I can handle as long as there is some sort of structure. It was a simple choice for me; stay and mingle and engage in random conversation or something of the like, or go outside, where it is much of serene, and enjoy the lovely summer night. I chose the latter, almost out of a sense of being called. I believe there is little or nothing left to chance. For me, I could have spontaneously left, been bitten by a spider, gotten this nasty infected bite mark, and happen to meet someone who would significantly change my life, all because I chose to leave at that moment. Things seem to fit together in life a little too perfectly for it to be chance. I see patterns and themes in everything. Well, honestly, not always because most times I'm not paying attention. But when I do reflect, I see purpose in things. Tonight, I entered a mindset of prayer in a time where I could have been swept up in busyness and conforming ritual. I needed God's presence, the personal, intimate time I had with Him more than I needed to mingle.

Don't mind my words. I'm just rambling. But at least there is a purpose to rambling.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Who Needs Church Anyways?

I know there are several understandings of what a church is, but this is the one I agree with.

When I tell people I go to church, it so happens to be a building I go to. Well, it isn't. Not exactly. Church is not a location but a gathering. Church is a group. This group is made up of Christians, determined to make some physical/social expression of their devotion to God.

I have heard it said that Christians don't need to go to church to be a good Christian.

I have a couple problems with that statement. First, what in the world is a "good" Christian? If I listed the characteristics of a good Christian and a bad one, the lists would be identical, save a few things here or there. The word "good" is one I'd like to throw out to describe the productivity of a Christian. More on that later.
The second thing that bothers me is the fallacy in the statement; essentially, Christians who don't voluntarily participate in a church need to reevaluate whether he or she should consider him or herself a Christian. Such participation is assumed in the Biblical understanding of the word.

Perhaps by explaining what church means to me, everyone can understand my theological stance on the Church.

When I wake up on a Sunday morning, and travel to a church building, a couple of things happen. I am certain I will see others coming to the same place to be around each other. They go in part to be around each other. Church involves is an aspect of fellowship. A Church is nothing without the people. I also am certain I can expect a certain focus to be had on the Spiritual. You see the spiritual component isn't always the same, nor do I think it should be, because that would be boring and inauthentic. This spiritual focus that all come to participate in is designed primarily to give thanks to the God of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If not thanks, then honor.

The Bible describes those that follow Christ as the Body of Christ. Christians make up this body. I Corinthians describes the Body as being made up of many parts, Jesus serving as head, but hands and feet, etc. are assigned to his followers. You see it is a metaphor. When Christians gather and worship God, they are taking necessary steps to commune with, and become empowered by, the God of the Universe. In my opinion, a Christian is lacking significant service to the Kingdom of God if he or she is not involved in a church. And frankly, without church, a Christian will starve and fall away from the faith. It is a place of instruction, accountability, healing. We are resposibile for one another's well-being.

The Church is not perfect. In fact, the majority of the time it fails to accomplish its objective, losing sight of its purpose. But that doesn't mean it is obsolete and irrelevant. God still works through the Church. He has been doing it for thousands of years, and even outside of a building. You see, people are the Church... people fail... God forgives and uses us despite our failings... and only through his grace do we stand and have victory.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Just a Thought About Paradise and How I Would Not Want Any Part With It.

I fell asleep the other night thinking about what it is going to be like in Heaven. Supposedly, it will be free of evil. There will be no more tears; only joy, love, and pure communion with God. On thinking about this, I started wondering about differing interpretations on how residence in Heaven is attained.

I wondered how some thought they could be certain they were getting into Heaven by being good people, by not killing, but trying to be helpful, and not harmful.

That just doesn't make sense; it isn't enough, and here is why:

Imagine the most normal of people living a life free of doing harm, not stealing, killing, etc. In fact, you can picture this person being the most honorable of humanity for all I care. Nobel Peace Prize winner, charitable throughout life, pulled injured victims from a burning building... whatever, it does not matter. When this good person arrives in Heaven (and according to some peoples' beliefs, he or she will), we are presented with a not so obvious discrepancy with the picture. This person will not be perfect. Let that sink in. According to this one theory of admittance into Heaven, the place will be filled with people that are not perfect. In other words, inhabitants of Heaven will be flawed. They would still have the potential to sin. Sin is simply doing the wrong thing, according to God's guidelines.

Now if Heaven has sinners, those capable of being selfish, choosing themselves over others and God's way, then how can Heaven be any different than Earth in its nature? Here on Earth, I see perfectly good people choosing to live their lives in fear, not saying the things they need to say, not doing the things they ought to do. I'm not even talking about what it says to do in the Bible. I'm talking about common sense things that would make the world a better place if they weren't so selfish. Without people changing in that way, a deep down change, a change in nature, where we stop bickering over traffic and store signs and politics... Heaven will be no Haven.

There IS a way to correct this dilemma.

It takes that deep down change I mentioned before. Here's the deal though. The change is not attainable by one's own doings. No mere man or woman has what it takes to become selfless enough to deserve Heaven. It takes a God willing to offer the power over selfishness, over sin, to be able to attain a level of perfectedness worthy of Heaven. Only one person in All of History had what it took to get into Heaven... to be technical, He still has it, for He is not dead. Jesus was victorious over Death. His perfect life destroyed the hold Death had over LIFE (not the magazine). I can understand how this may sound odd, even fairy-tale-like in nature, but think about it. What is Heaven if it isn't Life at its Fullest? What is Death if it isn't losing control over our existence? The way I see it, when Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago and rose a few days later, He ended the power of our sin to condemn us to Death. Death is separation from God, Life is Communion with God.

And here is what it all boils down to.

If Jesus has the power over sin, death, powerlessness... only by asking for His help can we have any chance to experience Fulfilled Life. The thing is, Jesus offers us this power. It is a gift - God's Grace - and it means the recipient must allow Christ to become a resident within that individual's heart. Essentially, the Living God, Jesus Christ, allows us to identify and become part of Him. Once apart of Him, that person is transformed and found faultless before God.

Not everything is explained, but the point is this:

Heaven would be no Heaven if God did not make some way
to change the inhabitants into a perfected people.

The only one capable of such perfection made such a transformation available.

There is no way to the Paradise which is Heaven apart from the touch of Jesus in our lives,
or else Paradise would not be as nice as we all imagined.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fun With Photoshop II

A Sunset View from a Sheep Farm in Utah.

This also was blended and am glad you can now see the sheep.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fun With Photoshop

This is my first Digitally Blended Photo of the Rocky Mountain National Park (wasn't this a fun trip, Lauren?)

I blended two photos together, one where the trees were lighted correctly, and one where the sky was, and when you put them together, well, you get what I saw that day in February.

Isn't our God the Best Artist of All Time, to have made this world for us? If that's not proof there is a God, I don't know what is.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Flesh On Bones

We had a Camaroon Evangelist speak at St. Andrews this Sunday. He is one of these Missionaries to the States with the purpose to awaken the US Church. You know the prophecy in Ezekiel where the bones gain flesh and then receive breath for life to be given back to them? It is an amazing illustration of the direction God wants to go with the American public. I would not be surprised to see a revival of the faith like we have yet to see in the States if we take preachers like Pastor Jonah seriously. You see dramatic change happens in two steps: The Bones must first obtain flesh, only then can God breathe life back into his people. Flesh represents strength. I get frustrated when I hear people so excited about these kinds of messages because they aren't thinking of the challenge. They expect fast results, easy results. Healing is not easy. Healing is like growing new flesh. Bones don't walk on their own. We have to heal before we can live again.
I know I'm right because I've seen the alternative fail time and again. Those who do not do the healing work, rather, ignore their wounds and stuff their pain, are rendered powerless in the fight for the Kingdom. I tried to ignore my junk and serve God but I was distracted and fruitless. The more I think about it the more I think I just need to say that you can't ignore self-development.
Another thing about the Ezekiel prophecy that is good to remember is that it is only God who breathes life into us. I can see in every person I encounter examples of how we all try to create fulfillment, whether it is through cars or jobs, movies or video games, music or sports. It seems Satan has successfully sent us on a wild goose chase for things to improve our lives when all along fulfillment is in Christ alone.
Apparently perfect love casts out all fear. Perfect love only comes from God. When God loves us, and we accept that love, fear leaves us and we gain strength. Perhaps accepting God's love is synonymous with gaining flesh on bones. Perhaps His breath is the excitement of knowing God that compels us to share the good news. Perhaps that is why people with little or no flesh seldomly share the good news, or if they do, they are not very fruitful because they lack the credibility to proclaim victory if they don't have it themselves.
I know, I know... You don't have to be victorious over sin and failings to be an effective ambassador. I hope it didn't come across that way. All I am saying is that ignoring the whole of our experience is dangerous. The pain we have from broken relationships, that's important.
The pride we get from doing the right things, that pulls our gaze toward the mirror instead of where it should be, on Christ.

Those are my thoughts as of late. They are not well delivered as proof that there is a God. But you know what? The only proof I will be able to offer through this venue will require reflection, serious thought to the validity of my words and trust in the feelings of hope, excitement and joy that what I wrote may be true.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's about time my summer started to pick up!

I had my official "First Best Week of the Summer" this week. For those who don't know, I spend the better part of the week with my best friends down in Redondo Beach where they have an apartment. One of them, Jordan, hooked me up with a job at Coldstone of Long Beach making ice cream cakes. When I'm not doing that, I hang out with the guys and this week has finally blossomed into the quality of life I desire most.
What was so good about this week? It started with conflict, of all things. Jordan made a comment that another one of my friends/roommates took offense to and responded quite passive aggressively. That led the upset friend, Royce, to have to come to grips with the way he handles problems when the two of us were at the Men's Group Tuesday night. Going through Foster's Celebration of Disciplines, this week's focus was corporate confession in which I was able to go deep with a bunch of guys, further deepening my newly made connections in a new community, and having the opportunity to confess my sins.
I believe it was that same night that Royce, Eric (the last friend/roommate of the apartment) and I dove into a long conversation about Ethnic Inequality and the unfortunate reality of the situation that lasted til 2 in the morning, only for Eric and I to go into even deeper stuff, personal stuff, like confession, that made my night. I love connecting deep with people!
The next great thing that happened this week was spending the whole day with Eric at church where he is the Junior High Director. Eric, Matt (his JH right hand man and fellow men's group member) and I ran errands, talked theology and hung out with kids for hours as Wednesdays are the night for Pipeline the Outreach program at St. Andrews Pres. I am slowly growing more comfortable around the kids and see great potential in those kids. I'm feeling a connection forming with one kid, Zach. We'll see how that goes this summer. After Pipeline, Eric, Royce Chuck (Eric and my old High School Leader and current Head of SAPC's Youth Program) and I went out for dessert and to wind down the night. It ended up being a continued conversation about Ethnic Inequality, except Chuck did an excellent job reiturating the point Eric and I failed to, that the media has no social responsibility to portray equally valued ethnicities as caucasians are. Anyways, that ended well.
Yesterday was great too. I went to coffee (except I got Chai... I leave beans for my Mexican food, not my beverages) with Eric and his Mentor Chris. We went over a lot of stuff, only to run into Chuck along the shore to talk about the current church problems. That sparked conversation about being stewards of God's money, how the reality of finances isn't easy, and all the emotions and frustrations that come along with it.
I had P. F. Chang's for lunch with Jordan, Andie and some of her friends after not giving blood, gave firewood to Eric for a campout he's having for the 8th graders, and played my first nine holes of golf ever (okay, it was only Pitch and Put, but golf nonetheless) with Jordan, bought stuff for their patio, and had my first Taco Truck Run of the summer.
I feel enthusiastic for the weeks ahead, for more time to pour into my friends, show some kids they are valued, and improve some other relationships that need help. God is good at never letting me waste time for too long.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My Best Friend is Amazing

I was going to disclose much information about a friend of mine but realized the internet is not the safest place for private information. So I will limit it to this.

I thank God that I have friends who love the Lord, honestly question the things of life, bless me by involving me in their journey, and encourage me to continue the battle.

Some are confused. You don't have to be.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pain Prone

Have you ever been so tired, so utterly exhausted that you find yourself stubbing fingers, or tripping over things? Today I moved out of my college apartment. We have a rigorous checkout process, in which one has to sign up for a checkout time, have all the things that were assigned that person clean, with everything they own out. My stuff sat on the the curb for hours until I could load it and even then I barely had breath to lift anymore.

I wonder what kind of trials Jesus went through similar to "the Checkout Process." I wonder how he emotionally felt in the desert as he fasted and endured the Devil's trials. I went two weeks without food a year and a half ago to fast and pray. I remember being very weak. I lost a lot of weight. The most impactful lesson I learned from that experience was that Man is a very resilient creation. Our bodies can go through so much before breaking. Though it burns to type due to scraping and scrubbing the grime away with my fingers all night and day, I know I can go on, and I will.

Jesus Christ went on when it got tough. Up on that cross, he did not give up and selfishly reveal his divinity to save himself from the pain. And to think he didn't even deserve that punishment.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

It's Just Not Possible

How on Earth did I make another one of these things? I hope this site to be a place where I share my thoughts on life, faith and the One who won't seem to leave me alone. Good thing too. It's nice to know God won't give up on me.