Friday, December 30, 2005


Well, I'm home. With my family. I love it. I love having a mom to kiss on, a dad to lay tile and ride bicycles with, a kid sister to love on, cousins, uncles, grandparents, a great-grandma, and two parakeets.

Our Christmas routine has existed since before I existed; Christmas Eve, we eat tamales, made by my great-grandmother (and helpers.) They are delicious, and we make so many that we munch on them well into Febuary. We buy the masa from the same little Mexican market every time, and the spreading of the masa onto the corn husk is a fine art - the kind that takes 30 minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. It's not really that hard, but my great-grandmother's tamales definitely turn out better than mine. We watch movies. We go to Christmas Eve service. We try and wait until midnight to open the presents, but that usually lasts until 9:30, at which point the chitlins tear through their present in 5 minutes and then fall asleep. We eat, drink, and are merry. It is my family time.

This last wednesday, I spent the day snowboarding at Kirkwood with some of my best friends. If my life depended on the ability to go faster than 5 miles/hour on a snowboard, I'd be pushing up daisies. The first half of the day, the precipitation was somewhere between snow and rain, which was whipped up by 30 mile-an-hour winds to scourge my face off. At lunchtime my jacket was soaked totally through, and I had to wring my gloves out. The weather was terrible and I am terrible at snowboarding. I couldn't have imagined a better 24 hours. Well, if Jesus would have come back at the end, that would've been pretty sick. But I feel asleep that night sore, drained, and absolutely content. It was my family time.

I was born into this world as Maxwell Critchfield, and I thank GOD every day for the family with which I was blessed to be born into. But on a snowy day in December 2003, I sat on the side of a bed in a Cabin overlooking Lake Tahoe and joined GOD's family. I'm not just a part of the Critchfield family: I'm a part GOD's family, too. It is by the grace of GOD that I am able to call all who live in the power and presence of the living Jesus my brothers and sisters, and by the atoning work of the Son of GOD that I can call the creator of the universe "Daddy." It is the family of GOD that sustains me, prays with me and for me, mourns with me, rejoices with me, and shows to me the visible community of the invisible GOD. It's the Church of Jesus Christ, and it's my family. Word. Talk to you soon.
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:15-17)

Saturday, December 17, 2005


It is finished. (That's not my line.)

Hopes for break:

1. Spend some time falling in love with Christ.
2. Spend time with people I care about.
3. Finish reading Les Miserables.
4. Finish reading The Cost of Discipleship, The Pursuit of God, and Celebration of Discipline.
5. See King Kong with my dad.
6. Read 5 novels.
7. Read through the Book of James.
8. Make prayer a habit.
9. Sleep in heavenly peace.

I'm all run out, but I ran well. I'm going to spend some time in the fridge; I need it. Catch you on the flipside.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, o night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
Over the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
(O Holy Night, Traditional)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Grade School

This week isn't my finals week, but it might as well be. Here's the agenda:

1. Write term paper for MUS 24c
2. Write term paper for RST 141B
3. Revise and perform final composition for MUS 7A
4. Organize and Present entry for "Visual Dictionary of American Religion" for RST 1
5. Breathe
6. Prepare answers for on-line unit exam for RST 1

For those of you in college, this is normal. It just means that for a week, every waking moment is spent trying to be the best student that I can be. (Not that I don't try for the other 9 weeks, but this week is where it kicks up a notch. BAM!) I'm not busy - my life is just really, really full.

It reminds of 5th grade. And Ms. Lepiesha. Bless her heart - she taught me a lot, but I really detested her. She was very particular about us having our backpacks squarely on the backs of our chairs (to prevent tripping accidents) and that all of our outerwear was hung neatly on the little pegs next to the door. I remember times when she would yell at me for doing something wrong, or pull me out of class to yell at me and tell me to "stop those crocodile tears" as they streamed down my face. She had a severe face and these thick, black-rimmed glasses. She was scary, and I had her for two years in elementary school. Ouch.

One of her punishments of choice was to make me write sentences. It would usually be something like, "I am sorry that I talk so often in class, and I promise to be more courteous to my teacher by speaking only when appropiate," 500 times over (She liked the long ones.) The kicker was that I was only allowed to write the sentences during recess. So as the kids played on the jungle gym, competed in tetherball, and laughed and frollicked in total freedom, I had to sit next to the classroom door, which faced the playground, and write out my sentences, one after the other.

The end of this quarter is so close that I can taste it, but I am trapped here for 4 more days, which feels like 4 years. In between thesis statements, I close my eyes and pretend that I can read any book I want, get 8 hours of sleep every night, not have to wake up to an alarm clock, do nothing but waste time with Jesus - but it is not yet this time.

Back to my work I go, because I know that when I'm done, I'll have done what needed to be done, and done it well. As soon as I finish up these sentences, I'll be running to the playground - hope to see you there. Talk to you soon.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Saturday, November 12, 2005


The bulk of my life is spent juggling. I'm not talking about apples or red balls or anything like that, because my coordination is horrible. I mean my life. I wake up in the morning, and I brush my teeth, otherwise they'll rot and fall out. Then, I jump in the shower, because if I don't, I'll smell bad. Then I have breakfast, because if I don't, I'll starve. Then I go to class, because if I don't, I'll fail. Then I come home and throw some laundry in the washer, because if I don't, I'll have nothing but dirty clothes to wear. I wash my hands. I pay my bills. I take out the trash. Trim my fingernails. Get haircuts. Go to the doctor. Make my bed so I can sleep it again in 24 hours. Clean my room, so I can make it dirty again. Much of my life is spent in such things, actions that simply function to prevent my life from coming apart at the seams. I'm constantly retreating, constantly treading water.

In the midst of this endless maintenance, it's easy for my life to become the sum of my upkeep. If I can just get through each day having taken care of everything on my to-do list, having handled every crisis, and come to the end of the day in one piece, then I'm happy. The irony of this is that when my life becomes solely about putting out one fire after another, and I get good at it, my life truly does fall apart. My dreams shink. My hope dwindles. I die on the inside. My spirit no longer soars; I am the doubting Thomas, who refuses to walk by faith before putting his hand into Jesus' side. I want only what I can see, and I believe only what I can touch. I'm numb.

The drive out to the church that I work at is beautiful, especially at night. It cuts through 15 miles of flat farmland, and there are hardly any lights. So when I drive, I always drive... with all the windows up and the heat on. Radio blasting. Numb. But this is dangerous, because this combination of driving and comfort makes me sleepy. It is at this point where I realize that something has to change, or I will never get home in one piece. So I roll down the window and drive Ace-Ventura style, with my head hanging out the window. This wakes me up. I go from feeling numb to feeling alive.

And so when my life becomes comfortable and predictable, it is the spirit of GOD within me that urges me to roll down my window and stick my head out. It is the spirit of GOD that nudges me to walk away from the endless juggling and into a life of obedient, blind faith. It is the spirit of GOD that draws my gaze from my feet to the stars. And lost in the infinite wonder, I feel like myself. I feel alive.

I'm going to go stick my head out the window. See you soon.
Maybe I've been the problem
Maybe I'm the one to blame
But even when I turn it off and blame myself
The outcome feels the same

I've been thinkin' maybe I've been partly cloudy
Maybe I'm the chance of rain
And maybe I'm overcast and maybe
All my luck's washed down the drain

I've been thinkin' 'bout everyone, everyone you look so lonely
But when I look at the stars,
When I look at the stars,
When I look at the stars
I see someone else
When I look at the stars, the stars
I feel like myself

Stars looking at our planet,
Watching entropy and pain
And maybe startin' to wonder
How the chaos in our lives could pass as sane

I've been thinkin' 'bout the meaning of resistance
Of a hope beyond our own
And suddenly the infinite and penitent
Began to look like home
(Switchfoot, Stars)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I love coffee ice cream. I don't like drinking coffee, but I like ice cream.

I love a warm peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles on it. It makes me think about Christmas, and that makes me think about Jesus.

I love riding my buddy's big cruiser bike. It makes me miss my old cruiser bike. If you're out there somewhere bike, I'm sorry I left you out in the rain on campus for so long. I miss you.

I love reading books by people who love Jesus. They make me love Jesus more.

I love hanging out with friends who love Jesus. They make me love Jesus more.

I love feeling so elated at the goodness of GOD that I just have to pinch myself, hug someone, or scream, or something. It's nuts.

I love chewing on the word of GOD, and being nourished by it. I love to teach it. I love to learn it. I love people who love to learn it and teach it.

I love to love my friends.

I love to love my enemies, because it is in this way that Christ overcame the world, and in so doing He can that same overcoming work in me.

I love feeling so alive that the only way I can convey how I truly feel is to write out a series of scatterbrained phrases like this one.

I love because the lover of my soul first loved me.

I love.
I could sing unending songs
Of how you saved my soul
& I could dance a thousand miles
Because of your great love

My heart is bursting Lord to
To tell of all you've done
Of how've you changed my life
And wiped away the past
I want to shout it out
From every roof top sing
For now I know
That God is for me, not against me

I could sing unending songs
Of how you saved my soul
& I could dance a thousand miles
Because of your great love

Everybody's singin' now
Cuz we're so happy
Everybody's dancin' now
Cuz we're so happy

If only I could see your face,
See you smiling over us
And unseen angels celebrate
The joy is in this place
(Martin Smith, The Happy Song)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This is a gambusia fish (prounounced gam-boo-juh.) It's also commonly referred to as the "mosquitofish," because schools of these fish are commonly released into pools of stagnant water in order to consume mosquito larvae. My buddy Dan worked for the Yuba County Mosquito Abatement division this past summer, and he told me that this little fish is a commonly used weapon in the fight against rampant mosquito infestation.

In Yuba County, they have pools where they hold the fish until they are needed, at which point they drag a net through the pool, throw the fish in the back of the truck, and dump them in whatever pool they need to be dumped into. This system works fine, but this supply of gambusia is not inexhaustible; towards the end of the summer, the gambusia supply was practically depleted, but they were still in high demand, as the mosquito season was not quite over. So at this point, it fell upon my buddy Dan to visit the local spawning grounds of these precious gambusia fish, so that they could be harvested and brought back to Mosquito Abatement central. This doesn't seem like a particularly difficult task, except that the local breeding ground for gambusia fish is a series of above-ground sewage ponds.

And so Dan and a coworker would sport full waders (no gloves), a net, and some heavy boots, and wade out into the middle of this stinking sewage puddle. The pond itself is a bout 4 1/2 feet deep, which came up to about the middle of Dan's chest. Once they had waded to the middle of this pool, they would proceed to walk from one side of the pool to the other, dragging the net between them. The consistency of the pond was that of thick soup, and the bottom was very slippery. There were times of absolute terror that Dan could recall when he almost fell totally over. And standing in the middle of that stinking morass, Dan recalled that he thought this thought: "I never thought, in my entire life, that my life would come to this."

And standing in the midst of a raging Halloween party this last weekend, I felt the same way. I know that Jesus visited the houses of tax collectors and befriended prostitutes, but there are times in my life where I wonder if Jesus has been formed in me to the point that I can shine bright in a place full of half-naked women and empty beer bottles. Paul's command to not be transformed by the world, yet be in the world rings in my ears, but I wonder how far I can reach without falling in. When it ceases to be "being all things to all people" and becomes a foolish foray into temptation and ineffectiveness.

But I do know this: when I stand before the gates of Heaven to exchange my filthy rags for clothes of the purest white, I want my waders to stink. I don't want to have gone to the edge of the sewage pool and let my fear of getting dirty overwhelm the desire of Christ in me to net those little fish. With the spirit of GOD in me, I want to wade through the filth of this world, so that when I one day stand before Christ, I might have the person who waded through my filth to love me with the love of Christ on one side, and by the grace of GOD, some of those little fish I waded through filth for on the other. And what a glorious day it will be, when this broken world comes to Shalom, and the work of Christ is completed.

But this day has not yet come, so with my GOD by my side, into the filth I go. But I won't go alone, and I sure won't forget my waders. Talk to you soon.
"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him." (Matthew 4:18-20)

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I have not forgotten this blog. Instead, I have one word for you: midterms. My life is absorbed in the routine of school until school isn't as hard. But writing here is often my way of entering into a quiet place before GOD, so expect to meet me back here soon. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


School has begun. School is crazy. My life is crazy.

I understand my life to be surrendered unto the will of GOD, and therefore I try to understand everything that happens in my life through the eyes of faith. I like to call this "thinking in illustrations," but I think the broader, blanket term would be "Christian Worldview." When I watch a movie with emotional/spiritual significance, I digest it by means of my faith. When I get cut off, or stub my toe, or forget to go to class, the question is: what is GOD telling me? Since my desire is for Christ to be formed in me, I digest the world in juxtaposition to my faith, and through the person of Jesus Christ. I listen for GOD in the ordinary, the mundane, and the overlooked.

But sometimes, this gets out of hand. I have a pair of sunglasses that I got for my birthday almost a year and a half ago. The very fact that I still have them is a miracle in of itself, because I am one of the most forgetful people that I know. (Am I?) But for better or worse, I still wear them every day. But the journey that me and my Black Flys Mach 2 sunglasses have come on thus far is has been a lengthy, spiritually ambiguous odyssey. After having my sunglasses for about 6 months, I lost them. Poof. Gone. Not out of the ordinary for me, but the truth was that I was really attached to them. And so in the midst of my angst, I felt like GOD was telling my that I was a good thing I had lost them, and in fact he had taken them away, because my attachment to them was unhealthy, anyway. So it went, until I saw my dad wearing them one day on one of our bike rides. To this, I felt like GOD was rewarding me for learning my lesson about materialism by returning my sunglasses. Then, I felt like GOD was convicting me for my exorbitant materialism by reminding me that my sunglasses cost more than the per-capita income of many African countries, and so I tried to give them away in China. No one wanted them. And so it goes: I've thought and thought until it's been all thought out, and I still don't get it. My head hurts, and so does my heart.

My RST professor quoted someone famous in class yesterday, and I don't remember who it was. But the quote went like this: "True genius is the ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in mind without going crazy." I feeling like I'm on a roller coaster, and I'm screaming - what I don't know is if I'm screaming because I'm having the time of my life, or if I'm screaming because the train has come off the tracks. Am I'm going crazy, or seeing the light? Is my life turning upside-down, or right-side up? Am I growing up, or falling apart?

Both. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Well, I had the awesome opportunity to attend the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) this last weekend in Sacramento, and I can't tell you how much of a blast it was. I return home with helpful, encouraging, and practical knowledge, memories of time spent crying out to GOD, and a greater passion for following Christ. My mind is so full that it's practically overflowing, but I thought I'd lay down some of the highlights:

- Shaking hands with Tony Campolo, and telling him how much his passion for Christ has inspired me. When he's gone, I'd rather say I let him know rather than not. I like him a lot.
- The experience of spending 4 days with 3400 other people who are crazy about Jesus learning, worshipping, smiling, and growing. It felt so good, so safe, and so encouraging. I had to pinch myself, because it seemed too good to be true.
- Spending time with good friends, old and new, sharing meals and thoughts and praises and prayers and love. I said before that I was just as excited about the people I would be attending the conference with as the conference itself - scratch that. More excited. It was so good to take in all that GOD-knowledge with people who would help me process it, and put a hand on my shoulder and tell me that I'm not crazy. So good.
- Laughing a lot. I love to laugh.
- Being led in musical worship by Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. They are amazing.
- Louie Giglio's word on worship that we are not to be consumers of worship, but that we are to be consumed during worship. I'll be chewing on that for awhile.

So many more sights, smells, and sounds hang so vividly in my mind, but the song that continues to ring in my head is a new one of David Crowder's new disc, A Collision. If you've got iTunes or you got the flow to pick up the disc, I highly recommend it. This last weekend was the first time I had heard this song, but I was so taken by it because of the way it just bursts with hope and the beauty of Christ. Dave definitely has a way of expressing the deepest longings and emotions of the heart in song, but this one just makes me throw my arms open wide and cry out every stinkin' time I hear it. The song is called, "Here Is Our King," and Dave has a description of his writing process for the song up on his site. Here it is:

"What you are looking for is what is looking."
- St. Francis of Assisi

I wrote this song after watching television for two days straight. the day after christmas, december 26th 2004, my eyes were fixed to this thing blinking at me from the dark wooden armoire in our living room. i, along with the rest of the world, watched as the most powerful earthquake in 40 years erupted under the indian ocean near sumatra, causing giant, deadly waves to crash ashore in nearly a dozen countries, killing tens of thousands. the death toll would eventually settle somewhere near 200,000. this is tremendously hard to take in. close to 200,000 people, walking around, going about their business, stepping into eternity all together in a matter of hours. we watched story after story unfold knowing that each would end in either rescue or demise and our hearts broke. our hearts broke and it is still tremendously hard to take in. it is a difficult thing to observe so vivid and complete, the depth of our fall. i mean we know things aren’t right, we know that things aren’t as they were intended. but here is this thing that comes from the middle of the sea to bring upon us devastation and to take from us our fathers and our mothers and to pull from our hands our children and our friends and our minds cannot fit this in. it is the depth of our fall upon us. even the ground under our feet is not right. the air we breathe is not right. here though, the hope i have found in christ miraculously expands. i believe that we are part of a bigger story unfolding. i believe that the rescue of creation has been coming toward us for a long time. i believe that sure, there was a moment that i was found by this rescue and that i am rescued continually, but the even greater thing, the thing that expands in my chest in this moment is that there is more coming! he is coming to set things right. he is coming to set things straight. he is coming and this is tremendously hard to take in, but our hearts swell and this tide of hope grows and after all of this, after this brokenness, after these tears, after this fury, after this tearing that is life...finally, finally...we will lift up our heads...finally...and the clouds will break...and finally...he who is all light and healing... finally... finally... majesty. here.

"Here Is Our King"

Here is Our King
Here is Our Love
Here is Our God who's come to bring us back to Him
He is the One He is Jesus

From wherever Spring arrives to heal the ground
From wherever searching comes the look itself
A trace of what we're looking for
So be quiet now and wait

The ocean is growing
The tide is coming in here it is

And what was said to the rose to make it unfold
Was said to me here in my chest so be quiet now and rest
Be quiet now and rest

And with the conference behind me, this is what I feel: hope. I had a moment where I felt like I was looking down the road of my life and saying, "Am I really going to follow Christ for the rest of my life?" Yes, because I heard a voice within me say, "This is what you long for." Yes, because before is the GOD who's come to take me home, and I can't take my eyes off of him. My king, my love, the One. Majesty... finally. Talk to you soon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

How to do Nothing

On my Google homepage, I have this little news ticker called “How-To of the Day.” Today’s how-to was entitled, “How to do Nothing.” I thought this was funny because I thought the last thing that you would need a "how-to" for is nothing, but at the same time I know how hard it is for people (totally me) to do nothing. I share it with you now:

How to Do Nothing
For those of us who are non-stop workaholics, doing nothing can actually be pretty difficult! If you're like the Energizer bunny in that you keep going, and going, and going, here's how to stop once in a while and just do nothing...

- Plan ahead. Whether it's an hour, a day, or a week of doing nothing, cancel all of your appointments for that block of time.
- Let people know that you'll be unavailable. Whether you choose to tell them that you're actually setting aside some time to do nothing, or you just give them the vague explanation "I'm going to be busy" (busy doing nothing!), tell them not to call, visit, or interrupt.
- Find a quiet, private place where you feel unpressured to do anything. This might be your bedroom, the garage, the car, or a local park. Find that place and go there.
- Set your watch or an alarm to go off when your "nothing" time is over, so that you don't have to constantly look at the clock and count the minutes.
Sit quietly by yourself. Stare off into the distance and let your mind wander. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV, listen to music, write a note to yourself, get a bite to eat, or whatever. The only thing you should do if you need to is go to the bathroom.
- Don't respond to any phone calls or other requests for your attention. Ideally, your phone ringer should be off. Just stay low and behave as if you are not there at all.
- Learn how to meditate and clear your mind. That way, not only will your body be doing nothing, but so will your mind. Since your brain is constantly working, learning how to give it a break can provide a major sense of peace and regeneration.

Setting aside some free time to do nothing once in a while can actually be healthy for your mind, body, and emotional life, especially if you find that you're really wearing yourself thin. How often you do nothing is up to you, but it should be a rejuvenating experience overall.


At first you may feel nervous, jittery, and restless. Try to relax and understand that doing nothing does not mean that you're being unproductive or irresponsible. Ultimately, setting time aside to recharge your batteries will make you more productive and creative in the long run, and that's a very responsible thing to do.
The funny thing is that my life is such that I need to read an article entitled, “How to do Nothing.” I love my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything; the opportunities I have to do something are things that I treasure, but I definitely have a need to do nothing, too.

I’m going to the Youth Specialties conference this weekend, and I haven’t been this excited about going somewhere since I went to Hawaii in the 7th grade, the trip on which I ate nothing but Junior Mints and a Mocha Frappuchino for breakfast, and proceeded to throw up during takeoff. I’ll be sure to steer clear of that particular meal this morning, but the excitement in my heart is palpable as I head off for a weekend with old friends and fresh insights. The sweet part is that I am just as excited about the conference as I am about the people that I am attending the conference with. Man, I love my friends. Talk to you soon.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. (Romans 1:8-12)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Cause and effect makes sense to me. When you add two and two, you get four. If you smoke cigarettes for your whole life, you will have health problems. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned. If you never go to class, you won't do good on the test (unless you're way smart, but that's not me.) The way that you treat other people is that way that people will treat you. Easy. Cause and effect.

I watched Crash tonight - it definitely ranks as one of the most intense movies that I have ever seen in my life. Not just because of the very suspenseful, complex plot, but because of the sheer emotional intensity with which it deals with an emotionally intense subject: racism. Imagine the cruel irony in Romeo and Juliet's final embrace ten times over, and you will know how I felt after watching this movie. It pulled on my heart strings for over two hours until they were raw, and when the film finally let go, I felt like there was nothing left in me that was capable of caring about anything.

There is no way that I could attempt to explain the characters, and the way in which their lives intertwine and crash together, because this movie is so true to life; it is so complex that you could never, ever, find the words to explain it all. One of my greatest fears is that no one listens to me. Not that people don't hear me; my fear is that they don't listen. I know that the sound waves that leave my mouth are recorded as tiny vibrations in other people ears, which are in turn interpreted by the mind as intelligible speech - but my fear is that all those fancy words, no matter how impassioned or heartfelt, will fail to make one lick of difference. There are just so many factors, so many stories, hidden desperations, aspirations, and ironies in all of us that I consider myself lucky when I can lay in bed at night and understand myself, let alone someone else.

But I want to understand people. I want to understand why this world is so broken. I want GOD to be like Yoda, who explains to Luke that fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering, which leads to the Dark Side. I want to understand. I want people to listen. I want cause and effect, because I understand it. I don't understand GOD. In my mind, I know that I can't do everything, I can't save everyone, and I can't make this world un-broken - but in my heart, the longing to make all this world's wrongs right weighs so heavily that I feel sometimes that I might be crushed under it's weight. It hurts.

Don Miller records in his book, Searching For GOD Knows What, a conversation between Larry King and Billy Graham in which King asks, "Why is there so much hatred and suffering in the world? Why are people killing each other? Why is there war? Why?" Billy Graham turns to him and said, "Well, a long time ago there was a garden with a tree in it, and a man named Adam..."

Oh LORD, I know in my heart that this is true, but this same soft heart within me breaks and breaks and breaks for all the victims of racism, capitalism, militarism, and every other -ism that leaves people isolated and destroyed; for the billion people, people who are going to bed tonight hungry, and the countless others going to bed tonight with a desperate longing for their life to mean something. The countless people who are falling in a black abyss of utter despair, drained and numb by a world that is drained and numb. The huddled masses, yearning to be free. The people.

There was a time in my life when I was falling through a black abyss, and there was no one to catch me. But now, as the ground is pulled from under me and I am falling once more, I am not alone - I find myself softly resting in GOD's warm embrace, enveloped by the very Spirit of GOD. It is here that my mind and my heart crash. It is here that the black, white, and the gray fall away, and with a whispered "I love you," I am covered in GOD's redemptive love, floating down like white snow from Heaven above. It is here that Jesus' nail-pierced hand wipes away all of my tears. It is here that I find the strength to daily be the change I want to see in the world. It is here, in the presence of the living, loving, holy GOD, that I find my rest. It is here that I remember that though my heart burns and my tears flow, it will be all right. Amen, peace, and Shalom.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

" Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

"Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." (Psalm 107:4-9)

Monday, September 26, 2005


I'm not dead - I'm starting school for my 3rd year here at UCD, and it's been nuts in my world with all of the errands, responsibilites, and demands that come with being me. But I had an awesome chance to spend time in Yosemite with some of my fraternity brothers this last weekend, and I can't tell you what a breath of fresh air (literally) it was to be out in the redwoods and under the stars.

I've got some stories that I'm itchin' to share, but with school looming, it might take me awhile. I'm excited about what this next year holds, and thankful for the summer that I had to get stoked for it. I've already experienced the pain and disorientation that comes when the rubber finally meets the road, but I've promised that this will be a year where I love louder, follow Jesus wherever he leads, and refuse to be silent. Talk to you soon.
It's the way Your stars shine
Sometimes so bright I swear I could hear
It's the way Your moonlight
Falls on this mountain lake so clear
It's the way Your sunshine
Paints Your evening sky and
It's the way Your rain falls
To sing me to sleep at night and
I fall, I fall into You

God of Creation take my breath away
God of the Heavens in this very space

You enter suddenly and I am lost again
Inside the majesty, oh I am lost again
And You come suddenly, 'cause I am lost again
Inside the mystery, oh I am lost again
I am lost again
Inside the majesty
Inside the mystery
(God of Creation, David Crowder Band)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Searching for God Knows What

Sorry if I missed the mark on the last post - I'll have these moments in church when I'm really hearin' what the preacher's saying, and I feel like if the dude just kicked over from a heart attack, I'd stand up and keep bringin' it. That was one of those moments. I'll just stick to lovin' Jesus.

Anyway, I think that the mark of a good book or a good speaker is that when you talk with your friends about said author/speaker, you refer to them by their first name.

I just finished reading "Searching For GOD Knows What" by Don Miller. He's been recommended to me over and over again, and I've heard him talked up and down and all around, and so I expedited him to the top of the "to read" pile and went at it. I was not disappointed. I've heard that "Blue Like Jazz" is his best work, but I was very impressed by his honest style and his winsome, engaging, and down-to-earth storytelling ability. From the things that I had heard about him I expected his writing to be tinged with sarcasm and cynicism, but this was not the case - he definitely confronts some of the quirks and shortcomings of the American church culture, but he refers to the Church as "we" and not "them." His exhortation for disciples of Christ today to move from a formulaic understanding of GOD to an intimate relationship with Him was very heartfelt and sincere. Some interesting passages:
"If you ask me, the separation of truth from meaning is a dangerous game. I don't think memorizing ideas helps anybody unless they already understand the meaning inferred in the expression of those ideas. I think ideas have to sink very deeply into a person's soul, into their being, before they can effect change ... when we take Christian theology out of the context of its narrative, when we ignore the poetry in which it is presented, when we turn it into formulas to help us achieve the American dream, we lose its meaning entirely..."(pgs. 57-58)

"If our minds are not on Christ and we treat Communion like a little religious pill, or baptism like a woo-woo bath, or fast to feel some kind of pain about our sacrifice, the significance is gone. It is the trick of Satan to get us to go through religious motions divorced of their relational significance. It is the trick of Satan to get us to perform religious actions without meaning them ... It would be most tragic for a person to know everything about GOD, but not GOD; to know all about the rules of spiritual marriage, but never walk the aisle." (pgs.203, 205)

Man, I love reading from people who love Jesus. I learn to follow after Christ more devotedly and wholeheartedly, but I also can sense author's authentic and child-like faith float from the page and spurn me on to love harder, live louder, and run with perseverance with the lover of my soul. Thanks for the read, Don.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Wind

I've talked about this before, but in case you didn't know, me and my dad like to ride bikes. The path that we ride on is 9 miles each way, and it runs along the beautiful Alameda Creek, which starts in Niles Canyon (where I live) and runs out into the southern portion of San Francisco Bay. The first 7 miles are shaded with tall trees and colorful shrubs of all kinds, but the last two miles are practically bare. It's flat, for the most part, with Coyote Hills in the background and the salt flats beyond. If you were just to take a look at the trail, it wouldn't strike you as appearing to be too particularly difficult; It's definitely not one of those grueling mountain stages that those monstrous dudes kick to the curb in the Tour de France. No, the hardest part about it is what you can't see: the wind.

Wind is powerful. When I'm out on my bike rides with my dad, The wind blows so hard that it's almost impossible to go forward in a straight line. For those last 2 miles, me and my pops are riding straight into the wind that's blowing in off of the bay, which is all the more maddening because the trail looks deceptively calm, but at the same time the wind is roaring in my ears and I feel like I'm going to start rolling backwards. I can't see the wind, but I most definitely feel it. You would think that since the wind is blowing so hard at me the way out, that it would be a nice tailwind on the way home, but this isn't the case; half the time, the wind buffets me like crazy on the way back home, too. (I was going to write a post on how easy it is to come home and use the tailwind as an illustration, but nature wasn't very cooperative. I got a good laugh out of that one.) The wind out on the trail doesn't just blow in from one direction, it comes in from all over the place: a violent, invisible maelstrom of angry air particles.

This last weekend, I was sitting around with some friends, we watched the video from Rob Bell's "Nooma" series called "Dust," and afterwards we were discussing the passage in Matthew where Peter gets out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus. At first, Peter calls out boldly to Jesus to bid him to get out of the boat. Rob explained that disciples of Rabbis in Jesus' time followed their Rabbi because they wanted to be just like them, hence Peter's desire to emulate Jesus' miracle. And after Jesus bids Peter to join him, he calls on Jesus once again, not in expectation, but in desperation because he started sinking like a stone. I guess rocks don't float very well. (Cheesy church joke. I crack myself up.) The interesting thing about this is that the Scripture says that the reason for his fear and subsequent sinking were due to this fact: he saw the wind. Holy Moses. The word for wind in the greek is pneuma (where Rob Bell gets the name for his video series) has a few other meanings: it also means spirit, or breath according to people who are way smarter and loving than me.

I can only imagine what I was that Peter saw: he saw the storm and he saw Jesus standing out on the water, but when he got out of that boat, he stepped into a whole new world, a new understanding, an experience with the invisible becoming visible. He thought he was just going to be walking on water, but all of the sudden, the swirling eddies of the wind became visible, and he was so overwhelmed that he started to flail and sink. Dude, I can't even imagine what that would be like, to see plainly what I had before only just felt like Peter did in that moment of faith in his beautiful master, Jesus. To be in the shoes of Peter, who experienced a divine moment with Christ in flesh that none of the other disciples shared. Sure, the other disciples bowed down to Jesus after he got back in the boat, but none of the saw what Peter saw. My boy Tony C. says that believers are people who give intellectual assent to propositional statements, but disciples are people who are submitted to the will of the master. Peter submitted to the will of the master, and got way more that he ever could have imagined. He saw the wind. John Ortberg has written this book called "If you want to walk on water, you need to get out of the boat." My buddy Dusty was like, "I don't even need to read the book. The title's enough." Amen to that.

GOD, thanks for the way that your word comes alive in our hands. I almost feel like the invisible presence of your son, Jesus, sits alongside me as your stories flow off out of the pages. I may not be able to see you, but I know that as I step out of the boat, I will see your glory. See you soon.
"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance[a] from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:22-32)
P.S. - This blog is a place for me to convey my thoughts and feelings as I walk with Christ, and it's the times when I pretend that I'm an experienced Bible expositor that I miss the mark. The things that I write here are far from infallible, so if I write something that sounds fishy or unbiblical, huck it. But I hope we can still be friends. Haha. See you soon.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Street Preachers

A few months back, I wrote about an experience that I had with one of the very agressive evangelists that you see on college campuses and street corners in America, and all over the world. I think that there is a very interesting dichotomy in my mind with respect to street preachers, because on one hand I feel that the way in which they seek to share the Gospel of Christ can sometimes does more harm than good, but on the other hand I feel like they're right where Christians are supposed to be: I don't mean waving a bible in front of peoples' faces on a street corner, but rather outside of the church sanctuary and out where all the people who have refused to have GOD in their knowledge are. Out where all the people who need Jesus are. Out where the hungry, thirsty, hopeless, despairing people are.

My thoughts were piqued on this subject by a post that I read on a blog called "Odyssey." You can read the post here. His thoughts on the need for the Church to be out where the Word is most needed were very compelling. Shoot, while I was doing some googling for this post, I even ran across a website dedicated to people who are Street Preachers. Check it out here. See you soon.
"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'

John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." (Matthew 3:1-6)

Friday, September 02, 2005


My summer is drawing to the close. It's been fun getting my hands dirty with my dad and being home, but the time is fast approaching for me to head back to Davis. I'm excited, but at the same time I will miss the time that I've had for the past month to just soak.

This summer, I've been reading through a book with a good friend called Every Man, GOD's Man. One of the chapters I just read today is called, The Best Marinade Ever, and it talks about the need in the church today for the spiritual discipline of meditation on the Word of GOD. He says this:
"The defining marker for GOD's man is that he thinks deeply and continuously about what GOD has spoken... the man who immerses himself in GOD's Word takes on the very character of GOD; he is changed into someone new." (p. 133)
Now, I don't know what school of thought you subscribe to with regards to the sanctity of the bible physically, and the truth is that I don't subscribe to anything - but I don't write in my bible. If you're a bible-writer-inner, props to you, but there's no stigma or scriptural conviction that keeps me from doing it - I just use post-its, legal pads, and napkins to write on instead. But plain ol' books, on the other hand, I carve up like a turkey on Thanksgiving. It helps me to take a book like a sponge and squeeze every bit of insight and truth out of it that I can, and I can say that I read that sucker. I also like it because when I want to go back to a book and remember what I thought about it, I can just read my notes and underlinings. It's the bomb - if you didn't know already, I love to read.

So this what I've been doing: soaking my mind and soul in the WORD, in sweet books, and in the very Spirit of GOD. I've been readin' it up, prayin' it up, talkin' it up, servin' it up, thinkin' it up, dreamin' it up, preachin' it up, and lovin' it up. My hope is that at the end of it all, I can look back and say that it all hasn't been for nothing; that I've been transformed by the things that I've learned, the people that I've loved, the friends I've served, and the GOD that I have glorified. It feels so good to have some soak time. See you soon.
"Do not conform any longer to the patterns on this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; then you will be able to test and approve what GOD's will is: his good, pleasing, and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2)

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Me and my dad go on bike rides twice a week. There is a trail that begins right next to our house, that runs alongside Alameda Creek. It's awesome time to hang with my dad, and we have fun talking together as we ride alongside each other. We've done it quite a few times - so many times, that I know how many miles we've gone by specific landmarks on the trail. 3 miles is Quarry Lakes, 5.5 miles is my buddy Matt's house, and 9 miles is the glorious halfway marker. At mile 5, there is a little picnic area right next to the trail. It's nestled behind a housing development, and there's a little parking lot next to the picnic tables, outhouse, and water fountain. On our way back home on our ride today, me and my dad stopped for some water. The headwind was really strong as we headed out towards the bay, so we needed some refreshment. As we rode into the picnic area, I noticed only two cars in the parking lot, parked next to each other.

I'm not going to specifically describe the two cars, but as I went to get my water I noticed that there was no one sitting in the one car, but there were two people in the other. They were kissing. My hope and prayer is that they just wanted to be romantic, but coming in two separate cars to a secluded park in the late afternoon makes it difficult to think that their intentions were pure. This broke my heart.

I was listening to a Tony Campolo talk that brought me to tears a few days ago, while he was telling a story about a kid named Teddy Pollard and a teacher named Ms. Thompson (Listen here.) Teddy was in elementary school, a "problem child" who has dealt with the death of his mother and an absent father, and the way that his teacher, Ms. Thompson, chose to invest in him and love him and the way in which Teddy's life is changed. The part that really got me was this, from a letter from Teddy to Ms. Thompson:

"...I'm going to be married in July - The 27th, to be exact. I want you to come, and I want you to sit where my mother would've sat. You're the only family I have now - daddy died last year."

Marriage is such an amazing thing - the mysterious union in which what GOD binds together no man can rend asunder - that when Godly people get married, it warms my heart. It pales in comparison to the great union that exists between GOD and his children by the righteousness of Christ, but to see such a gorgeous proclamation of commitment, LOVE, fidelity, devotion, and sacrifice. Not just in the marriage bond, but in relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ, and how mightily love flows between those who have been changed by the love of GOD. But when I see infidelity, sexual or not, it flies in the face of this glorious tapestry that Godly relationships can be, and it hurts. But I know that it's GOD's desire for his children to be pure, to be commited, to be holy. My hope is that one day, GOD willing, I can stand at the altar, before my GOD, my family, and my friends, and stand tall - free from shame, guilt, and fear. It's amazing how freeing fidelity is. Amen.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

We'll be standing face to face, everybody in the place

Says "I know they'll be happy"

And as we walk back up the aisle
I will turn to you and smile
Cause I know we'll be happy
And I will look to you and you will look to me

A million thoughts race through my head
But my smile is all you see
And I will stand beside you, I'll hold your hand and say
"You were worth the wait"

Though I often stopped to ask God why

I always knew that He was right
When He told me to wait for you

When I was weak and couldn't see the way

I'd look ahead and see your face
And God would always bring me through

I had so many chances to throw it all away
But I knew if I stayed strong I'd meet you someday

I'd kneel and pray and I'd ask God to keep you safe

Because I knew you were worth the wait

It seemed so very hard sometimes, but you were always on my mind

I couldn't bear to hurt you

So grab my hand and hold on tight, we'll run together through the night

Just you and I

We'll be walking side by side, I'll be yours and you'll be mine
And I know we'll be happy

I made the choice to wait for you, you made the same decision too

And I know we'll be happy

We had so many chances to throw it all away
But we both stayed strong and God brought our lives together that one day

Now I kneel and pray and I thank God that you are safe

You were worth the wait
(Worth The Wait, Philmore)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Coming Home

I've always liked to be recognized. I remember in the 4th grade, me and this dude named Joe Bradley would always compete against each other to see who could finish arithmetic worksheets first. He usually won. In the 5th grade, I wanted so badly to represent our class in the school spelling bee, but my teacher picked a girl instead (Props to excellent female spellers.) When my music history professor would pick out papers to read to the class, a small voice in the back of my head would hope that he would read mine.

Here's an intimate fact for you: My mother is a dental hygenist, but I have poor dental hygeine (she reads this, too.) I think it was all that camping I did when I was a kid, when I would go for a week at a time without touching a bar of soap or a toothbrush. Ah, being a little boy definitely had it's perks - kept the girls away, that's for sure. But that's no proper excuse for a 20-year-old dude, but it's the truth. So there will be stretches where I perform no kind of dental cleaning on myself except for a piece of Orbit gum. I'll go around and talk with people, laugh, smile, pray, preach, yell, and sing, and no one says a thing to me. But all of the sudden it comes crashing down when I catch a whiff of my own breath. It doesn't happen very often, but for some reason, one breath will waft up through my nostrils and I'll recoil with disgust and say, "Have I been walking around all this time with breath that kicks like Jackie Chan?" I've heard that we're immune to our own body odor too, but other people can only wish that they were immune. Sometimes, I'll catch someone's nose wrinkle up, or a stifled laugh, and I'll do a quick pit-sniff, or just turn red in the face. For some reason, I'm the last person to realize that I stink.

In following Christ, there are times where I am ashamed to be the last person to find that I stink. My prayers are stale and empty, My smiles are fake, my sharing and preaching of the Gospel is over-rehearsed, arrogant, and flimsy, and my soul sags under the unbearable weight of imagined expectations and shame. I try so hard to meet with and pray for everyone that I know that my time with everyone is rushed and shallow. There are times when I look at myself and say, "What have I become?" There are times when I look inside and see the very things that I hate; the very things that I tell other people not to do. There are times when I am speaking in front of a group, and I feel like just sitting down. Speaking scares the crap out of me - not because I'm afraid of public speaking, or because I feel that my small knowledge of the Bible is inadequate, but because I'm afraid people will write me off as a hypocritical, fake, unrealistic Christian. There are times when I scare the crap out of me, and I think about the phrase, "The higher you go, the harder you fall." There are times when I wonder if who I am, who I pretend to be, and who I wish I could be even matters at all.

But it's in that moment that I collapse back into the arms of GOD, my Abba. It's in that moment that a small, still voice whispers in my ear, "It's going to be OK - just stay awhile, and be still." It's in that moment that I close my eyes and I wonder why I ever left. It's in that moment that I remember what it means to surrender. And it feels good. Amen.

"For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:13-16)

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You
(Breathe, Michael W. Smith)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I Don't Like Apple

I'm still chuggin' along on those China thoughts, and I'm sharing my experience in church tommorow, so I'll be able to put my thoughts down in a more timely manner here in the coming week.

I had about 30 minutes of thoughts about the Leadership Summit conference I attended these past three days, but I'm writing from my friend's iMac, and I accidentally pushed the delete button. On the iMac, apparently, pushing the delete button not only erases your work, but navigates backwards in your internet browser. And so all those thoughts are gone. Maybe I'm Mac inept, and I'm not being spiritually edifying by hating of a hunk of plastic and little chips, but I wanted to write this out so that I could have something to show for the time that I spent writing. If you're a Mac fan, much love for you - I was even thinking of getting one myself, if the Rapture doesn't happen before I save enough disposable money to appropriate one. But now I'm not sure if I could handle it. After I'm done with this post, me and the iMac are going to reconcile, because I don't want the sun to go down on my anger. I feel better already.

So here's the paraphrase of what I wrote: The conference = awesome. The truth - worshipping, learning, growing, and yearning for Christ simultaneously with 55,000 other Christ-followers around the US and the world is a cool feeling. Ken Ulmer = the man. Bill Hybels = stud. I love Jesus.

Well, that's all she wrote. Well, all I wrote. I was at the beach this last thursday - it was the bomb. I've been challenged through the things that I've heard this past week to have a renewed heart for the church, that we believers might make GOD known by our abundant love for each other, and as a leader, to lead with humility, passion, compassion, and with a reverence for the surpassing worth of JESUS and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That's some dense stuff, and I'm stoked for what GOD's will holds for me and for those 55,000 church leaders who've gone home with a renewed spirit and a vision for what GOD desires for his kingdom on Earth to look like. It feels so good to be refreshed, and that was just what I needed - to know that I'm not crazy, and that everything is going to be OK. See you soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I'm home. Well, sorta. Westminster Woods was an amazing place, and a really awesome chance to get some rest, build some relationships, and hang with some really awesome folks. The theme for the week was "No Matter What," and each day was a different "No Matter What" statement - no matter what GOD loves you, no matter what, GOD gives a second chance, no matter what, love one another, and some other really cool ones that I can't remember. I had the chance to hang around the Junior High camp and listen in on the talks, and that was the bomb.

And I'm home from China. I can't say how weird that feels - it took my body a week to get used to it. I'm still trying to form my thoughts and memories on my experience, but one of the most poignant memories that I have of the whole trip is that first big gulp of California air I took after we landed at SFO. I can't tell you the way that I felt when that smell ran through my nasal cavity, but I didn't realize how different the air in China was.

The Chinese province that we were in, the Henan province, had nearly the poorest air quality out of all of China. You don't really get to see the sky too often, because it's constantly obscured by a gray haze. One of the foreign teachers told us that if we left out a sandwich in our room for a day or two, it would be covered with a fine layer of gray dust. Most of the vehicles on the roads spew thick black smoke from their tailpipes - definitely wouldn't pass a smog check. The dumplings, the trees, the people, the buildings, the books - it just smelled different. Not in a bad way at all - I didn't really mind the smog. There was just a piece of me that took in all of those new things and said, "I'm not at home."

I noticed the change immediately when we landed in Beijing, but after a few days I didn't even notice anymore. But when that plane landed and I stepped off, the smell of redwoods, dirt, and a bunch of other stuff I can't describe filled my lungs, and that was when it hit me: I was home.

My earthly home, anyway. Because even though I had returned from an unfamiliar place to a familiar one, I know that though I am now called to be in the world, but not of it, soon I will be not in the world too, and then I will truly be home. I thank GOD (not nearly enough) for a place to sleep every night, a roof over my head, and loving family and friends, but I know that this "home" here couldn't hold a candle to the eternal house of GOD. If home is where the heart is, mine is surely in heaven, because GOD has captured it with his amazing love. But I'm not there yet, and I'm thankful for every moment I've got - it's good to be home.

When I get to heaven, I wonder what it will smell like. I can only imagine.
You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now
(MercyMe, Homesick)
P.S. Blogger has recently made it really easy to include pictures in posts, so I'll probably be using more of them.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Westminster Woods

China was amazing. But my body thinks it is 7:00 AM, when it's now 4:00 PM for me - bummer. But now I'm off to Westminster Woods for 6 days, and I'll be back on Saturday. I'm recording all my China thoughts and reflections in my paper journal, and when I get back I'll share some stories and impressions. See y'all soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

In China - III

Well, my time is winding down here in China. This is a picture of our team singing songs up on the roof about DAD. This trip has been amazing - it has totally changed the way that I think about China - the people, the faith, the poverty, and the beauty of a country that is growing to be a world superpower.

Everything is cheap here. Last saturday I took a day of rest and got a 2 hour foot and partial body massage for 40 yuan, which is 5 bucks. Drinks cost a quarter. Shirts cost a dollar. Candy costs 12 cents. Nice journals (YES) are a buck. I ate a barbequed chicken heart. It was good. I ate a pickled, 20 year-old chicken egg. That wasn't so good.

Sorry these updates are short and sweet, but when I get back to the states and I can say HOW I REALLY FEEL, I'll share some of the deep and amazing stuff that been going on here at the university and down in my heart. I just wanted to post here every once awhile to feel like I'm close to home, and that though I feel alone, I am never alone. Be home soon.

By the way, a tropical storm is setting in just over our town right now, which just a day or two ago was Typhoon Haitang. Welcome to China.

P.S. - I can read comments here in China, but I can't respond to them because I can't actually view my webpage. but I can update, and I can see your comments. Thanks for those who've dropped a line, and I'll get in touch with you when I'm back in the states.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom and thou my true word
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son
Thou in my dwelling, and I with thee Lord

Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High king of heaven, my treasure thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joy, O bright Heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of All

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

In China - II

Still not dead. The MSG tried to knock me out, but I'm sticking to rice and vegetables until I get my strength back. I've been blessed with the opportunity to try tons of different kinds of food, but my weak-sauce stomach keeps me from being really adventurous. I begin this post with a food comment because it is one of the most popular topics of conversations amongst us lauai (foreigners), as well the bodily functions related to food. Nuff said.

I joined a group of other foreigners on a trip into "town" yesterday, and it was nuts. In my last post, I alluded to the fact that the lane markers here in China are more like suggestions. Well, I experienced it firsthand on our taxi ride. I sat in the front seat, and it was definitely a faith moment, because it seemed to me like death was a very feasible and quite possible option at that point. Needless to say, it was pretty sweet, in an "I-almost-died" kind of way. But I got to have the tea drink with the little balls in the bottom, which made it all worth it. it cost me 5 yuan, which is a little over 60 cents. China is awesome.

Here at the university, things are amazing. We start each day with song, and then we go out and love on kids who are just so hungry for relationship and truth that it almost feels overwhelming at times. The most amazing thing that I've seen here is the way that the barrier of language opens doors and hearts, and to be reminded of the reality that all things do work for good. True love transcends language, expression, and hardship, and to see this truth become a reality here between our team and the chinese has only just begun, and I can't wait to see it continue to unfold. I'm not even tired yet, sucka, and I will not be silent anymore.

I'm going to the Shaolin temple tommorow. I'm reading Les Miserables. I finished Moby Dick. I love you all, and keep it real in the free world.

Friday, July 08, 2005

In China - I

I'm alive. There's so much to say, but I can't really tell you - the sights, the smells, the sounds, everything. So I thought I'd share some not-so-random thoughts that I've had here so far. Here goes:

- The lane markers, including the ones dividing opposing traffic, are not rules; more like polite suggestions.
- Pedestrians don't have the right of way.
- It's really hot, and really humid. Everywhere.
- I love it here.
- Jade is really expensive.
- There are locusts everywhere, but you don't see them - you hear them. It's like cicadas, but times ten. It makes me wonder what it sounded like in Egypt when the plagues blew through. Must've been deafening.
- Dumplings are the bomb.
- A lot of Chinese speak english, or they want to.
- Tianamen square is really big.
- The Great Wall is bigger. And really steep. Gorgeous.
- You never need to ask where the bathroom is. You smell it.
- Chinese children are beautiful, and they don't all look alike.
- This isn't one nation under ___.

This place is amazing! I'm excited about what's to come, and I'm ready. I will not be silent anymore. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Well, it is monday, the 4th of July - I was watching fireworks explode over the bay today from my patio and realized that it's going to be awhile before I get to see Fremont again. I'm flying out of SFO tommorow at 1:45pm non-stop to Beijing on a 13-hour flight to spend three weeks at SIAS university, and I won't be back until the 24th of July. I'm stoked. I've been thinking about expectations I have for the trip, and I don't really have much, save for the knowledge that GOD's going to blow my socks off. I can't wait. This is a trip that has been a long time in preparation and prayer, and I can't believe that tommorow it begins. Updates will posted sporadically here and I'll have limited access to my email. But I'm blessed to know that so many people are lifting me up in their prayers, I know that I'll never be far away in the hearts of people that I love. If you're one of those people, thank you.

On a different note, I'm packing pretty light for the trip, and so I've stuffed everything into my hiking backpack, which will help me a lot with lugging it everywhere. But I've decided to take only 12 CDs with me (gasp), and so here's the list:
- Enter the Worship Circle: First Circle, 100 Portraits and Waterdeep (awesome disc, simple worship)
- Chase The Sun, The OC Supertones (upbeat ska about Jesus, never fails to bring a smile to my face)
- Illuminate, David Crowder Band (amazing lyrics)
- Undone, MercyMe (Bart Millard has an amazing way with lyrics that really resonates with me)
- Self-Titled & Much Afraid, Jars of Clay (no explanation necessary)
- Self-Titled, Nickel Creek (amazing musicality, good reading music)

- Myself When I Am Real, Bebo Norman (mellow, deep, Jesus - I'm a fan)

- New Way To Be Human, Switchfoot (my go-to disc for solid rock)

- Reverence, Timber (Brings me back to Xtreme Camp 2000, and that's a good thing)

- Lost November (and some random stuff), Jack Withers (I'm strongly against pirating/"borrowing" music, but I love this disc so much that I had to jack it - his songs are amazing)
- Self-Titled, Yellowcard (SOLID ROCK that's not boring - I love it)

"It’s the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds
Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground
Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns"
(He Reigns, Newsboys)
See you soon.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Vacation Bible School out at CCC was a real blessing. The theme was "Kingdom of the Son," and the kids loved it. We hung old palm branches all around the church, and I climbed this rickety old aluminum ladder to hang this paper-mache giraffe head off of the roof - it was money. The VBS program ran from Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 12:00pm every day. Each day was divided up into six 30-minute blocks, the first and last of them being wake-up and wrap-up times, respectively. That left 4 blocks for me to work directly with the kids. My assigned task for the week was pretty easy - I had to organize the games for each half-hour block, and a different age group came for each block. The first group was the 5th and 6th graders, and we usually played whiffleball or crab soccer. Then we had the Pre-Ks, with which we usually just read stories and played with toy parachutes.

One of the relationships that really sums VBS for me is the one that I formed with a little (she'd probably resent that) girl named Kim. She's in 4th grade, and she has a little bit of a speech impediment. I've seen her in the church before, and on Monday I saw her playing on the play set so I went to her and said, "Hi, Kimberly." She looked at me with this kind of exasperated/cross expression that she's so good at and said, "My name is Kim, not Kim-buh-lee!" I looked down at her nametag and sure enough, it said "Kim," and so Kim it was.

Every day after our recreation time, she would turn to me and say, "Gee, my legs huwt... can I have a piggy-back wide?" And under that scorching noonday sun, I would hoist her up on my back and carry the two blocks from the park to the church (it's a small town.) She would sort of bounce around on my back as I carried her along, and a few times we broke into a sprint to beat all the other kids back to the church. A lot of the times, I wasn't wearing any kicks, and so walking around with 60 pounds on my back in bare feet didn't tickle. But I didn't care. Her smiles and staggered, breathy way of laughing warmed me up inside.

There were a lot of of awesome things that happened in this last week - forming relationships with some rad high school volunteers, having happy birthday sung to me 7 times on Wednesday (actually my birthday), loving on little kids, and eating otter pops in the blistering heat - but the most poignant memory of the week is Kim's angelic face, and the way she laughed as I ran across the burning blacktop with her on my back. Looking within, I think the realization that has begun to form in my heart is that I would rather tie a millstone around my neck than to lead her astray. That's what VBS is all about - the kids learned/experienced what it feels like to be loved by GOD, and I learned what it looks like to have a child-like faith. Nails. See you soon.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea." (Mark 9:42)

"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." (Luke 18:17)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Home Again

Well, I'm home from camp. It was amazing - I'll post some "click" moments later. Now, I am off for the week to help CCC with their Vacation Bible School. I'm going to be running the activities, which is going to be a challenge because I've never done anything like this before. But I'm stoked, and it's going to be an awesome week. I don't totally know what I'm getting into, but I'm divin' in. Talk to you soon.
The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirsty ground
Have carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found
And like the rains
I have been carried here to where the river flows, yeah
My heart is racing and my knees are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the ledge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That's telling me it's time to take a leap of faith
So here I go!

I'm diving in
I'm going deep
In over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush
Lost in the flow
In over my head I want to go
The river’s deep
The river’s wide
The river’s water is alive
So sink or swim I'm diving in

There is a supernatural power
In this mighty river’s flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you'll take my hand
We'll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let's go!

I'm diving in
I'm going deep
In over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush
Lost in the flow
In over my head I want to go
The river’s deep
The river’s wide
The river’s water is alive
So sink or swim I'm diving in
(Steven Curtis Chapman, Dive)

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philipians 4:13)