Monday, May 30, 2005


Well, this past week has been off-the-hinges busy, and I haven't had the chance to write as much as I've wanted to. My mind has been boiling over with golden rays of insight, the kind that get away from you if you don't hold on with both hands and pull them from your synapses quick, you lose 'em. I've also had a lot of honest, loving conversations with good friends over the past week that I would love to expound upon and recount here, but I just haven't had the time. I think I'll take the title of Brian's blog to heart and let this really be "the overflow" of my life, after giving all of my time, passion, and heart to loving GOD and loving others. By no means am I pulling away from writing here - I hope to finish up all those half-finished thoughts that are saved on my computer and post them all at once soon - but it's nice to be reminded of my priorities.

This weekend, I went down to Santa Cruz for a weekend of relaxation and community with the college-age group of my home church, Common. It was a true blessing be replenished physically and spiritually, and also to be blessed by a group of brothers and sisters that make the town I call home, home. I had a lot of sweet times and good conversations, but conversation that I overheard really caught my attention. Somehow, two of my friends got to talking about weblogs and one said, "What I think is really funny is that people will write stuff on their weblogs that they won't tell people face-to-face." My friend answered back with this: "Yeah, it the newest trend - it's intimacy without the relationship."

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the impact of technology on the christian culture and more importantly, on relationships. The phrase "intimacy without the relationship" sticks out in my mind specifically because it's a phrase that I've heard before; not in relationship to weblogs but in respect to people who choose to engage in physical intimacy outside of the bond of marriage. It's a topic that has a painful place in my past, and a topic on which I've had the opportunity to experience a huge amount of healing and grace, as well as the privelidge of being a blessing to others who deal with the same issue. I've been calloused and battered by the world on this topic so many times, but simply put, I believe that GOD created sex, and it's good. But I believe that sex is so much more than physical intimacy: it has profoundly beautiful emotional and spiritual dimensions that are powerfully deep and intimate, and designed to be enjoyed and explored within the context of marriage. When we take physical intimacy out of the context of marriage, it becomes mindless, unfulfilling, and debiliating - what is designed by GOD as a joyous and glorifying act becomes an empty husk of what GOD desires for it to be. Intimacy without relationship isn't really intimacy at all - it's an escape from responsibility, from reality, and from commitment.

So in looking around what real bloggers call the "blogosphere," I see some people who do use their blogs as an attempt to have intimacy without the relationship. They pour out the deepest, blackest gunk in the bottoms of their hearts onto their keygboards and out onto the World Wide Web, but away from their keyboards have no tangible network of honest, open friendships, nor do they have the desire to pursue them. Out of fearful ignorance, they would rather live with a draining, empty intimacy rather than embrace GOD's design: we are not meant to be alone. And when an internet journal is the only place we go to be honest and "intimate" with other people, what really happens is that it we only become more alone.

This is a bleak picture, but it is to my relief that none of those whom I call my friends use their blogs in this way: they blog with various degrees of honesty and candor, but all have their foundation in relationships, and in devotion to one another. I see them in church, I chat with them over coffee, and I pray with them. I have their phone numbers. I've seen them smile, and I've seen them cry. I've touched them, and they've touched me.

This place isn't my "escape;" I like to think "you" as of a few of my close friends, sitting around a big fire, telling stories and laughing. How much more of a joy it is when that this vision is a reality, but with my "friends" being scattered far and wide, this crude form of communication is the best that I can muster. It's kind of talking through morse code, tapping out messages late at night, waiting for the moments when we can be together again. Sometimes strangers come and listen in - my hope is that would read this and hear the echoes of my real relationships. Writing my brain snd heart here reminds me of the true source of my intimacy: real, authentic, face-to-face interactions. Lives shared together. Not only is it the design, it's good - who thought GOD's plan could be so cool. (Duh.)

If you're reading these messages and I haven't seen you in forever or I don't know you, feel free to listen in: my hope is GOD's voice can be heard in my broken life. Send me an email. Leave a comment. But if I do know you and you are reading this, know that I wish I could tell you this stuff face-to-face (maybe I already have), but for now, this is the best I can do. Call me. Visit me. I guess it'll be pretty sweet when I get to heaven, because I won't have need for this blog any more - we'll all be together. Amen for intimacy.
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

For My Bike

I'm a pretty forgetful guy. Since I've come to UCD, I've lost two pairs of sunglasses, two of my favorite hats, two ATM cards, and countless pens. This morning while I was in class, I realized that my time for choosing classes started at 10:30, and it was 10:50. (I ran out to the computer lab and got all my classes.) When I was a junior in high school, I drove off with my CD collection on the roof of my car. (It wasn't there when I got home.) I went to LA to visit friends and I left my favorite nalgene bottle at Trevor's house. I don't mean for this to be some kind of sob story - I think it's funny. If I wanted to sound like less of a goober, I might say that I'm "winsome." Last week, however, I lost something that I'm just beginning to mourn.

When people come to visit Davis, there is one thing that everyone notices first: the bikes. they're everywhere. Everyone has one. The campus is so big and flat that the bike is the easiest and most prevalent form of transportation. And so when I got into Davis, one of the first things on my dad's to-do list was to get me a bike. And one day, there it was: a beat-up, chipped-up, one-speed candy-apple red cruiser bike. My dad wanted soething for me that wouldn't require a lot of maintenance, had fenders, and that would last me. It was a good deal too: free from my uncle, who never rode it. And so on the day I moved into the dorms, he rolled that cruiser into the bike rack, unloaded my things, helped me set up my room, and drove off.

I rode that bike everywhere. I rode it to class every day, I rode across town to visit my uncle, I rode it home late at night from my Christian fellowship, I rode it to Starbucks to meet with friends. I rode it with no hands most of the time, and sometimes I would close my eyes while riding late at night, and it sort of felt like I was flying.

Last week, I came out of class and the back tube on my bike had popped. So I left it there, locked to itself, with the intent of coming by later to pick it up with my car or to roll it over to the UCD Bike Barn to get a replacement tube. A few days went by, and I hadn't made the time to pick it up and fix the tire. This past monday, I walked by where I had left my bike, and it wasn't there. Gone. I felt violated, like someone had just stuck a stick into my life and scrambled things all around.

I know that it's just a hunk of metal and rubber, and it's probably either repainted in some stranger's house or in a dumpster somewhere. I'm not bummed about now having to walk to class; I'm sad because that beat-up old bike reminded me of so many things: my dad, college, fragments of moments and dim memories that would spring into my mind in completion when I rode it. Memories that I never wanted to forget, but will now be ground slowly underneath the wheel of time. I know that no treasure stored up in this world will last, but in looking around in my room at my little collection of knick-knacks, I don't see stuff; I see memories. I see promises. Wooden cups, little rocks, a toy boat, postcards, photos - dirty little lumps of this world that remind me of eternity. They are my ebenezers: I see them, and I remember. And for a broken, forgetful person like me, memory is important.

My bike is now gone, stolen. But that thief didn't just get an old bike; he got a piece of me too. There'll be a time when I won't need bikes and rocks and wooden cups to remember, but I think I'm going to in this world for a little bit longer yet. I am thankful for the little things, for as long as I have them. The past becomes the present, my heart swells, and the kingdom of Heaven draws near. My bike may be gone, but I know that no thief can steal me away from the arms of my GOD. Thank you, Lord - thanks for the memories.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12)

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-29)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Friendly Persuasion

So it's a little belated, but here's my thoughts on the movie that I watched this past tuesday in my RST 135 class. We watched a movie called "Friendly Persuasion," which was directed by William Wyler (who also directed Ben Hur.) It is a movie about the Quakers during the Civil War. It is definitely a "family" movie; the characters are all innocent, love is sincere, and the ending is happy. I liked it. The events that transpire are fictional, but according to my professor, the treatment of the Quakers and their beliefs is a fairly honest and accurate one.

I haven't really studied (or heard) very much about Quakers, but one part of their beliefs that I vaguely remembered and that this movie stressed is their emphasis on peace, particularly non-violence. The movie focuses on the Birdwell family and their response to the war as it draws closer and closer to their home and their hearts. The mother, Eliza, is the female minister for the Quaker "meetings," and provides the spiritual leadership for the family. The father, Jess, is the foundation of the family, and often acts as the voice of reason between Eliza's strict guidlines and their son Josh's resistance to authority. Their commitment to non-violence is so total that they are forbidden to ever raise a fist in anger, ever.

This holds true in their family until the choice is either pick up a gun and defend their very own home or stand by and let the Rebel army come through their land and destroy it. In the end, this is too much for Josh, and so he picks up a gun and rides off to protect the peace by making war. One of the things that he said to his mother struck me as very profound: "If you give everything to your enemies, what will you have left to give your friends?" This is an issue in my life that I think about a lot. I want to be a witness for Christ and let his love flow through me, but at the same time I want to be responsible and protect the blessings and people in my life that I care for and love. But where does the desire to be a peaceful, suffering servant end and my responsibility to take care of those I been entrusted to love and protect begin? I would have to say that if a thief broke into my house and threatened the well being of my future family (GOD willing,) I don't think that I would just stand aside. GOD has placed in me a passion for my friends, family, and the body of Christ: love is a many splendored thing, and sometimes it hurts.

Another part of the movie that really echoes with love is a scene in which the father, Jess, is going to check on his son who is out at the battlefront. On the way there, he encounters a family friend who has been ambushed and shot by a criminal. He passes away, and when Jess gets up to leave the criminal comes out of hiding and shoots Jess too, grazing his forehead. Playing dead, Jess springs up and wrestles the rifle from the criminals hand and points it at him. They stand there for a moment, the criminal fully expecting Jess to shoot him, but instead Jess waves the rifle at him and tells him to leave. The criminal walks off in wonderment as the camera pans out and shows Jess standing next to a great gnarled tree, standing on a bed of freshly fallen red leaves: it was a very powerful, rich visual metaphor for grace which we have tasted and seen in the person of our lord, Jesus. In this instance, peace and non-violence heaped "burning coals" on the head of the criminal, and he tasted love that day in Jess' commitment to non-violence.

Peace isn't easy, just like loving people isn't easy. It's easy to love the lovely, but loving the ugly, the confused, and the worn-out is much harder. It's draining. There is no discipleship with suffering, and the hardest part for me is figuring whether my love should be my cheek or my sword. Believing in Christ, I am known for my love for other believers: do I love them by protecting them from harm, or do I love them by letting them suffer? I think that just like there is a time for a peace and a time for war, there is a time for both protection and suffering. Translation: it depends. But it doesn't depend on me; it depends on the Holy Spirit as it guides me in every situation, whispering to me of how to love authentically and draw the Kingdom of GOD near. All of this elaboration stems from this truth: in the end, love wins. (Thanks Trevor.) I trust in the holy, straight, and narrow way that is beneath the feet of those who no longer live, but rather let Christ live through them.

We are called to be in the world, but not of it: do we love it with an open cheek or a clenched fist? It depends: it depends on you, Jesus. Guide your broken children through every season, the time of harvest and the time of reaping, the time of peace and the time of war: Let your love light the way.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace."
(Ecclesiastes 3:2-8)

"Let love by without hypocrisy; abhor what is evil, cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sex Panel

This week at UC Davis is "Generation Sex" week, which is put on by the Gender and Sexuality Commission (GASC). Here's a description on one of the events:
"Erotizing Safe Sex" featuring the fabulous Lani Ka’ahumanu 7pm - 9pm Chem 194 This workshop will challenge the misinformation and the shame that mainstream culture perpetuates about sex, our sexuality, and our bodies. Non-judgmental safer sex and sexual information is communicated in a playful, provocative way that peaks curiosity and enhances sexual options, rather than limiting them. Presented by GASC.
This last monday, they had a "Religious Panel," which was basically a chance for people of different faiths to share their views on issues pertaining to sex. A good friend of mine was able to get me onto the panel, and so the day before I got an email telling me the things that would be discussed. This list of topics ran something like this: Homosexuality, Sodomy, The definition of marriage, Leadership of women within the church or religious organization, Contraception, Gender roles, If there is a higher authority in your religion (ie "God"), what is it's gender (Seen as a male, female, neither?), Sex before marriage, Masturbation, and how nudity is regarded (such as: shameful, sacred, private, indifferent.) Geez, some of these words I'm reluctant to repeat in front of my mom, much less share my religious beliefs about. I wasn't scared about it, but I was a little nervous, because a lot of those things are really big issues.

So I sat down behind a placard with my name on it next to a Buddhist and a Muslim, on a panel which also included two Jews, a Pagan, a Lutheran, a Universalist, two Agnostics, two Atheists, and another girl who was Christian from Campus Crusade. We sat in the Coffee House in the MU on campus at 12:00 and shared our views on sex. While we spoke, you could see in the glass windows behind us the preachers that were standing out on the Quad. They held up their signs that said, "ACCEPT JESUS OR BURN IN HELL," and "YOU MAKE ME SICK: lazy christians, dikes on bikes, liars, ankle biters, etc."

What struck me most was that in the one-minute windows that everyone had to share about all those various topics, we said a lot of the same things: marriage is good, we shouldn't be ashamed of our bodies, women aren't inferior to men, etc. And on the issues where my one-minute answers diverged from the rest, it was hard for me to say a whole lot: how do speak about GOD's beautiful design for marriage when someone's holding up a sign behind you that says, ACCEPT JESUS OR BURN IN HELL? If you can't love someone unless you know them, how can you speak the truth to them in love? After sharing a few thoughts, I felt a sort of uneasiness, and now I think I know why: because I felt like I was the same as those preachers. All rules, no heart. Truth, but no love. What is a marriage, however harmonious, without the agape love of GOD? What is the point of defining GOD as a he/she/it if you don't even believe in a GOD that loves you with the power of a father and the tenderness of a mother in the first place? How can I tell about the standard to which I live and expect you to uphold it or die, when you've not yet experienced the GOD for whom I uphold the standard in the first place? Before I accepted Christ, I didn't know the reason why to wait for love, until I experienced the GOD of love; how should you know? I do believe and know that there are both short-term and long-term, absolutely debilitating consequences for sexual immorality that should be deterrents enough to live with sexual purity, but being the silly, broken people that we are, they aren't enough. We need Christ, and we need him bad. Really bad.

Don't misunderstand me; I really enjoyed sitting in on the panel, because I do think that I did have some sweet chances to speak the truth in love, and I thank GASC for the opportunity for me to share my views on our GOD-given sexuality. But this note at the bottom of the email hurt me the most: Keep your answers as brief as possible we have a lot to cover in an hour! *Do not argue or debate; there is no "right" answer. What a cancer that is in the heart of this world. I wish we could've had a heart panel instead, because then I couldv'e the showed the whole world in one fell swoop the way, the truth, and the life with every beat of my heart: Jesus. Love. Jesus. Love.
How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from the east to west
And runs as deep as it is ride
You know all our hopes
Lord, you know all our fears
And words cannot express the love we feel
But we long for You to hear

So listen to our hearts
Here our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love
So listen to our hearts

If words could fall like rain
From these lips of mine
And if I had a thousand years
I would still run out of time
So if You'll listen to my heart
Every beat will say
Thank You for the life, Thank You for the truth,
Thank You fr the way
(Listen To Our Hearts, Geoff Moore)
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:2-6)
See You Soon.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I'm Back

This last weekend at Richardson Springs was sweet: I didn't really get much rest physically, but the good thing was that I didn't get much rest spiritually either. Late nights of mafia, outburst, catchphrase, as well as deep conversation about evolution and the meaning of service made for an awesome weekend of enjoying the friendship and discipleship of the body of Christ. The theme for the weekend was "The Difference That Makes A Difference," and we talked about what it means to be in the world and not of it, or as C.S. Lewis said, "Against the world, for the world." I'm still praying about and thinking about what I learned, so I'll post my thoughts later in the week, after I talk with some good friends about it. Talk to you soon.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Richardson Springs

I'm going to be gone this weekend on a retreat to Richardson Springs with my college group, College Life. I love retreats. I'm looking forward to some sweet time of hanging out, reading the word, and getting some rest. I've been looking forward to this weekend for weeks, and I know it's going to be off the hinges, fo-scheezy. Word. See you soon.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I thought about the cross today. It's something that I try to do often, because it reminds me of the foundation on which my faith stands, and keeps my crazy life in perspective. But today, I thought about the nature of the man who hung on that cross, and how amazing it is. This makes me think about my own nature, more specifically the way that I respond to pain.

In high school, we'd always play this game of trying to make each other flinch. I always lost. When someone's hand is flying at my face, I'm not really one to take chances. Translation: I'm a scaredy-cat. I don't like pain. Even more so, my brain doesn't like pain either; it does everything within it's power to prevent my body from harming itself. When I'm dead tired, my body forces me into sleep; when anything moves close to my face, I blink; when I burn my hand in a flame, I jerk my hand away. My body's peripheral nervous system responds to pain before I can even think. It is not in my nature to willingly bear hurt; as a matter of fact, I do everything I can, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to avoid it.

So why didn't my GOD, who took on the full form and nature of man in the person of Jesus Christ do the same? Why didn't he call down legions of angels with flaming swords to smite all those whose hardened hearts had condemned him to the cross? If he spoke the world into being, couldn't he have spoke and un-made it? He could've struck them all blind, called down a plague, forced everyone to bow down, turned the world upside-down: he could've done anything. I imagine that he blinked as the hammer fell on those nails again and again; I imagine how those nails burned like fire as they pierced his flesh. His whole being screamed out for another way, a way out of the hurt and the shame.

But he didn't. He died with a crown of thorns on his head, embracing death because he knew it meant life for us. For me. He cried out from the cross, but he never got off it. He flinched, but he never wavered. His hands and feet burned with pain so that he might heap burning coals on the heads of the whole world with this question: What love is this? How could Christ, in the nature of man, restrain his power and cover his divine splendor with earthly rags to bear the pain and suffering of a whole world?

The answer is this: love. The love which has made us new, and the love which now burns brightly, deep down in each of our hearts; a fire that the world cannot explain. Thank you, Jesus: thank you for your revolutionary love.
Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matthew 26:50-54)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


In tonight's RST 135 film section we watched the movie "Barabbas," which is based on the novel of the same name. It follows the life of Barabbas, the thief and murderer who was set free by Pontius Pilate instead of Jesus. It was a much darker film than the ones than we have watched thus far in terms of the storyline and cinematic treatment, but it was very compelling in the way that it constructed a very intruiging story of Barabbas' struggle towards faith. The story picks up with Barabbas' release from prison, and after settling back into his old ways of thievery and murder is arrested once more and sentenced to work in a sulfur mine. While down in the mine, he is chained to Sahak, a young Christian who at first despises Barabbas for his "role" in Christ's death, but eventually grows to become his friend. They are eventually removed from the mine and put into gladiator training, to serve a spectacle for the emperor.

Throughout the whole story, Barabbas tries to come to grips with why Christ was pardoned instead of himself. An interesting twist in the story is that because of Christ's death on the cross instead of his own, Barabbas physically cannot die, surviving for over 20 years in the sulfur mines and defeating Rome's most fearsome gladiator. But the most compelling facet of Barabbas is his struggle with faith over the course of the story, his hard heart trying to comprehend the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf. And for most of the movie, it is a struggle that he loses.

The point in the story where this struggle comes to a head is while Barabbas and Sahak are training to be gladiators, and Sahak is overheard talking to the other gladiators about the reality of the one true GOD. They are brought before their owner to plea their case, and Sahak stands on his faith, while Barabbas answers, "I believe in no god. I tried to believe." Barabbas is set free, and Sahak is executed. After Barabbas wins his freedom, he goes to the pit outside of the city where they left Sahak's body and he takes it down to the Christians in the catacombs, for a proper burial. One of the Christians confronts him with this: "Why do you stand up for him now that he is dead, but not when he was alive? What does your 'faith' matter now?"

The part of the movie that was most moving was Barabbas' meeting with Peter at the end of the movie. Peter says this to him: "I know that you've struggled for faith all these years, and you should know that GOD has been with you while you have wrestled with your faith; in all these years, he has never left you." It's easy to believe, it's easy to know, but faith; faith is hard. Faith is a struggle. Faith requires of us blood, sweat, and tears - a daily conviction that we will believe, in the face of fear, adversity, and unbelief. We stand in the truth that though we are fickle and frail, we are loved by a GOD who faithfully loves his children, despite their unfaithfulness. And though there are times when the flame of passion in our hearts is battered and blown by the winds of this world, our GOD is right by our side - he is there for us in joy, in mourning, in faith, in faithlessness. He is there. He is here. And he's not going anywhere - he's right by my side. Good movie.
"Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." (Matthew 15-25)

What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." (Romans 3:4)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Demolition Derby

Last night, I took some dudes from Countryside CC to go see a demolition derby at the Dixon May Fair, "guy's night out" style. For those of you who've never witnessed a derby, it's an event that you would not soon forget. A bunch of junker cars all line up in a slighty muddy arena (so they can't get going too fast) and ram into each other until only one car is left running. Metal flies, engines roar, mud flies everywhere; for a bunch of teenage boys, myself included, a demolition derby is probably one of the coolest things ever. (See some footage of a derby here - it takes a long time to load, so open it in a new window/browser. ) My dad was a race car driver, and so I'm partial to anything that involves things on wheels. So all the guys were super stoked about going to watch cars crash into each other, and I could hardly wait. I was looking forward to spending more time with my guys, and this derby seemed like the perfect opportunity. Fun, testosterone-laden, and cheap.

This was when things started to go wrong. A few days before the derby I lost my debit card, so I had no way to take money out of my account, or any ATM machine. This is a problem, because being the college student that I am, I don't really carry too much cash around. So I forgot about it, and then yesterday remembered that I had no debit card, no cash, and no way to fix either. And the day before the derby, I got a call from a kid named Will who wanted to come along too, and bring his two 10-year old friends, who were a lot more interested in going on the fair rides than watching a demolition derby.

So there I was, at the gate to get into the fair, no money, and 3 kids who didn't even want to see the derby; my question was, "GOD, why didn't this work out? I thought this was what you wanted me to do; spend time building relationships." So I stepped up to the little pay kiosk and asked the lady if she'd take my credit card. She said, "No, but the demolition derby is sold out anyway." I said, "Oh." And so we went and played Lazer Tag in Vacaville, and they took credit cards there. Will's two friends had a blast, as did everyone else. Myself included.

I sometimes wonder why my life is so crazy blessed, and I think the answer is that it's not really mine anymore anyway. I love those times when I'm humbled by the GOD's reminder that his thoughts are higher than mine, his sight is longer than mine, and his love is greater than mine. I think I know it all sometimes, but it's when things go out of my hands and into GOD's, I remember that that's where my things should be in the first place. Thank you, GOD - Thanks for being a wise guy.
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

My Other Journal

I have two journals. I technically have more than that in terms of physical books filled with lined, blank pages, but I'm talking about two kinds of journals; you're reading one of them right now. This journal is a place where I talk about anything and everything that passes through my mind and heart. Well, just about everything. You see, this internet journal is whatever I want it to be. I can edit, revise, delete, and rethink anything that I want before I put it out in the open for the whole world to see. The thoughts, experiences, and feelings grow and mature in my heart for a long time before they finally come to fruition. I don't just make things up, by any stretch of the imagination; I mean to say that these entries represent thoughts, actions, and experiences that have been a blessing and encouragement to me as I have strived to become conformed to the image of Christ, and my hope in leaving them here is that might be a blessing to pilgrims who are walking the same straight and narrow that I now traverse.

You might say this blog is like another me, but my hope and prayer is that that is not true. These writings do not form some sort of alter-ego; It's still me, but it's the strong me, the faithful me, the thoughtful me, the spirit of power, love and self-discipline of the saint that Christ has created in me. It's the side of me that I desire to embrace, the side of me where doubt holds no lasting hold and death and decay have no power. The side of me where experience is traslated into wisdom by the grace of GOD. I am free from the constraints of time here, free to dispel the nagging voices of fear, doubt, and disbelief before my fingers even touch the keys. In the pages of this journal, every moment is flavored with the Gospel, every experience the voice of GOD. But in reality, I do not always see life this way, at least as it unfolds moment by moment; I don't pray without ceasing, sometimes my brain shuts off, and sometimes I am just a jerk. I miss out. I miscommunicate. I fail.

This is where my other journal comes in: it exists in the deepest chambers of my heart, where I, in all my sinfulness and shame, come to GOD just as I am, with everything. And everything is a lot. It is on those pages that I write my darkest questions and most despairing psalms, thoughts that never see the light of day for fear that they might gain power. It is there where GOD and I meet: no fascades, no lies, no hiding. The sacred and the profane. The HOLY and the wholly hopeless. But I can't tell you too much more than that, because those are moments that God and I alone share. It is there, in those pages, that I become reacquainted with the rhythm of grace, and take one more step into the life I've always wanted: the passionate pursuit of Christ Jesus, who first pursued me. And that brings me back to this place, these words; sharing my journey from far to near, from here to there, and back again.

What a journey this has been, is, and will be; it's a good thing I have two journals.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
(I don't really touch on my feelings about the impact of technology on building relationships in this post; maybe later I'll take a look at my own life for that one. But for now, I will simply work to love people, face-to-face, the best I can. See my "Secret Faith" post for more on my thoughts about relationships.)

See you soon.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Here's one man's explanation of why he keeps a weblog, and I feel it intersects my own. I'll write more about this later. Read the essay here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Good Morning...

I've always been a pretty heavy sleeper. In high school, I had this alarm clock that was shaped like a chicken, and it was slung with an electric guitar. At the appointed time, it would start singing in japanese and playing the electric guitar. I had a hard time sleeping through that one. My dad, on the other hand, I had no trouble sleeping through. He would come in a 6:00 AM, turn the lights on, pull the covers off my bed, shake me, and I could still sleep. Eventually I would roll out of bed, but it took awhile. I actually found a picture of my old clock on eBay:

The chicken alarm clock served me well, because it scared me half to death when it went off. I remember vividly sitting up straight in bed with my eyes wide open, awash with fear. It definitely wasn't the most pleasant way to wake up, but it was the only way to get me out of bed. Because it truth, getting out of bed was the last thing I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was sleep more: all I wanted was 10 more minutes, 10 more minutes. Getting out of bed and into the great unknown couldn't hold a candle to (in my sleep-heavy mind) the pure joy of a few more minutes of blissful rest. So I needed to get out of bed, but I refused: hence the painful awakenings.

When I graduated from high school, one of the presents I got was a CD alarm clock - one of those jobs you can program to play your favorite track off of your favorite CD to wake you up in the morning. The hardest part about the alarm clock was this: what song do I pick? What do I want to wake up to? I went through several possibilities, (like Linkin Park's Faint, a song that now gives me the willies whenever I hear it) but in the end it came down to this: why do I get out of bed in the morning? The answer, when I look inside now, is this: because every new day in the kingdom of GOD is amazing.

You see, every morning is a good one when you have something to live for, something to look forward to, and someone who will never leave you or forsake you. When we have a purpose, morning can't come soon enough, because that means one more day, one more chance to grow deeper and closer to GOD. Every morning is new, a fresh start; another moment to feel the intimate presence of Christ in the rising sun, the singing birds, and the hope of a new day. Good sleep is rest, and we all need that, but I can hardly wait to wake and see what GOD is going to do today. I used to hit the snooze button, but now I wake up before my alarm. I used to hate getting out of bed, but now I can't wait. From the moment I open my eyes, I'm excited. I'm awake. I'm quiet. I'm still. I'm ready. There are some days when I wake up and I want nothing but to fall asleep and never get up again, but I figure that if Jesus came to give me life to the fullest, I should experience every moment of it that I can. Every morning is a good one when you have the eternal promise of Christ to pull you out of bed. Talk about a good alarm clock: it's a lot better than a singing chicken. A lot better.

Here's the song that plays on my CD alarm clock:
Last thing I remember, sayin bye to yesterday
Glad to see it over, pullin' covers over my head
But what were You doin' while I dreamt the night away
Cause I can tell that something's different
and my eyes ain't even open yet

I'm smellin' coffee
Birds are singin' just outside
Here comes Your mercy streamin' in with the morning light
My heart is racing waking up to Your smile
Its a good morning, yeah
Its a good morning

Well I remember readin' You're the God who never sleeps
And while I've been dreamin' You've been singing over me, yeah
Singin' about my freedom, wakin' me up to hear Your song,
And now I cant dance hard enough
Cause yesterday is gone, gone, gone!

Every little breath, every heartbeat
Is a gift of love that You give to me
You keep givin even when Im asleep
Cause I know You never stop watching over me
I wake up, my past is gone
Cause Your mercy's new with the morning sun
I'm forgiven, I'm free, it's a brand new day
Cause Your faithfulness is the greatest (hey!)
(Chris Rice, Smellin' Coffee)

"Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare." (Proverbs 20:13)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Shane and Ben-Hur

I didn't write about my RST 135 class last week because we started two films, but we didn't actually get to finish them until tonight. I usually have a meeting with some good friends right before my 6:00 PM viewing session, so usually I have to shove food in my face and jump on my bike and rush into class. Today, however, wasn't quite as full, so I had the chance to actually cook a nice meal and sit down in class without being short of breath or having a cheeseburger in my hand. This was nice because I could really focus my thoughts on what I was there to do: watch movies. What a class. Anyway, we watched the tail end of Shane and Ben-Hur, both very excellent and disctinctly striking in their own ways.

Shane is a movie that is full of cliches and well-worn western themes, but that's because it was made back when the cliches weren't cliches and the themes weren't well-worn. It's one of those movies that you would probably find in the dictionary if you looked up western. I liked it because it was simple: There are some homesteaders trying to make a home in the middle of a valley, which the evil guy, Riker, wants to take as pasture for his cattle. Shane comes in with his white hat and six-shooter, helps the homesteaders, takes care of the bad guys, and rides off into the mountains. Good stuff. It's full of biblical allusion and symbolism, with Shane playing the Christ figure. The movie is a lot more interesting and compelling when viewed through the lens of the Gospel story, which is why we watched it. Clint Eastwood made a pseudo-remake of this movie in his flick, Pale Rider, which is significantly darker, with the main character being portrayed as the pale rider from Revelations 6:8, quite a contrast to the Christ-figure in Shane.

Ben-Hur definitely fits the label of biblical epic. The reason that we didn't finish it in one session is that it is 3 hours and 40 minutes long. It's based on a novel by General Lew Wallace, a soldier from the Civil War who became a Christian. I saw a lot of similarities in plot to Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, particularly in the main character's quest for vengance. The main character, Judah Ben-Hur, is thrown into prison by a childhood friend-turned-Cold-Roman, Masala, and spends the rest of the movie being swallowed up by his thoughts of anger, hatred, and vengance. In the end, Judah is pretty jacked up: he's killed Masala, his mother and sister have become lepers, and his heart has been so hardened by hate that he can't love anymore. But one of the most powerful aspects of the film is that the tale of Christ is woven into the storyline, which climaxes in Jesus' blood flowing down from Golgotha and washing away the leprosy of Judah's family and softening his hard heart. In the end, Judah was so cold and alone that nothing but the blood of Jesus couldv'e made him whole again.

And this is how it is in the cold, dark hours of life: it is by the blood of Christ alone that we are made new, the blood that rains down and softens even the hardest of hearts. Even mine. Thank God for that.
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(Robert Lowry, Nothing But The Blood)