Thursday, December 28, 2006


I was reading through the news a few days ago, and I came across an article that stated that some archeologists had found a sarcophagus that is believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul. He wrote many of the epistles (letters) that make up the Word of GOD, so it's a pretty big deal.
After talking a little about some of the details, they quote the president of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: "One discovery we know will never be made and that is the uncovering of a sarcophagus containing the bones of Jesus Christ."

[Read article here]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


This last spring quarter, I played what is called a recital. Because I am a music major with an emphasis in Saxophone Performance, these concerts, given at the end of my 3rd and 4th years of college respectively, are really important. So I practiced and practiced, and one spring afternoon I played a concert consisting of really hard saxophone music, and they recorded it. As I was leaving to work at Camp-of-the-Woods, I told my Dad that the copy of my recital recording was in the car. My dad had been able to make it to the concert, but my mom couldn't, so he was going to snag it and play it for my mom.

Fast forward six months to today: my whole family is over, and my mom decides to play my recital for my family. She says that she has been playing it for all of their friends, and they've been amazed by it. As my family leans in and the music begins, my first thought is, "Wow, I sounded really good that day. Better than I thought." As the music progresses, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach: it's too good.

Here's what happened - in the week preceding my recital I had made a CD of all of the music that I would be playing on my concert, as performed by professional saxophonists. I would listen to it in my car to pick up on stylistic interpretation and other stuff, so that I could get a better idea of what the pieces were supposed to sound like. It was this CD that my dad took out of my car and thought to be the recording of me. So as my family listened, I had to stand up and tell them that it was not me to whom they were listening. Needless to say, I was a little embarassed.

But today we celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Immanuel that came to cover up our wretched little tunes with his beautiful melody. Thank you for your grace, for your presence, for your power and strength within us. Thank you that we can now come before GOD the Father and not be ashamed, for you have covered our sins with your perfect and spotless righteousness. Thank you for the most beautiful and perfect of promises: "GOD with us." See you soon.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

Sunday, December 24, 2006


A few days after finals ended, me and some buddies from Davis took a little road trip. We left Saturday afternoon, drove down to the AGO house @ USC, spent the night, then spent all day Sunday at Magic Mountain. We stopped in to worship at Risen, then headed to Vegas on monday and headed home on Tuesday. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas - well, nothing happened. We walked around in the freezing cold, had a blast goofing off, and then came home.

It was a good time to hang with some bros - now, I'm home and getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and good friends. I'll post a rundown on some of the books that I've been chewing on in the next week. Peace be with y'all. See you soon.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:8-14)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Yesterday, I took my final for HIS 131B - History of the Renaissance and Reformation. I wrote more for that final than I've written for any final in my college career; my final essay took up 10 [blue book] pages. It was a good class, and it was largely due to my professor.

On the last day of class, we talked for a few minutes about new material, and then my professor took a few minutes to tie of the things that we had been learning together regarding the happenings of Early Modern Europe from 1450-1650. She recapped on a few of the common themes that we had seen in studying the history, and then she talked for a little bit about her own motivations in regards to her study of history. Her area of expertise is Spain; she could tell you anything you wanted to know about he the country came about, what the politics were like, who ruled when, and everything in between. At this point, she said something that really struck me: "I find that in studying the past, I better understand the present. You might not find these things particularly fascinating, but these things fill me with joy. This why I have chosen to dedicate my life to this."

At that, I could sense everybody in the room perk up - when people talk about the things that they are passionate about, it is compelling. It is a bold statement to say that you have dedicated your life to something; there's a finality about it, a commitment that is irreversible. Here was a woman who had dedicated herself to the study of the subject of Early modern Spain - the truth is that you really dedicate yourself to something, it shows. And this was apparent in her teaching - her passion came through in her thorough knowledge of the subjects and her excitement about us getting our learn on.

A speaker came to our Christian fellowship a few years ago, and he said this: "If you light yourself on fire, the world will come to watch you burn." The world takes notice of those who are willing to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to anything, and I think that this is our calling as Christians - to boldly proclaim with our lives the joy and excitement that comes from dedicating and laying down our lives to follow Jesus. You can't understand something until you love it; but when you do get to that place of dedication, the world will know. I don't know much about history, but I do know Jesus - I pray that my life would be wholeheartedly dedicated to knowing God intimately more and more every day. That's something worth learning about. See you soon.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I subscribe to quite a few podcasts - weekly sermons, Strongbad emails, and various other radio programs. But far and away the one that I've enjoyed most is the one pictured above: This American Life.

They release one every week on mondays, and it's the only podcast that I faithfully listen to. The name pretty much says it: each hour-long show is a quirky aspect of the American life. Each one is unique, and really entertaining - it reminds me of my late Uncle Jack. It's very cleverly written, and entertainment of this caliber that is clean and fun is hard to find. If you're a podcast consumer and you're looking for some wholesome listening, check it out. What are the podcasts that you faithfully enjoy? Be heard in the comments. See you soon.

(Subscribe to This American Life here.)

Monday, December 04, 2006


This song is beautiful.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows
(And So It Goes, Billy Joel)

Monday, November 27, 2006


Well, now that we are past Thanksgiving, it is officially winter here in Davis. 4 years ago, if you had asked me if I preferred hot weather or cold, I wouldv'e said hot every time, hands down. But after 4 years of going through the seasons in Davis, I have come to appreciate bundling up, wearing a ski cap, and sitting down with a warm cup of peppermint tea or peppermint mocha. The crisp air makes me feel alive.

One thing that I find to be odd about Davis is seen in the picture above: crows. Every year, during the winter months, thousands and thousands of the things congregate in Davis. They fill every tree, and are constantly whirling around in the sky, making loud cackling noises. If they wanted to take us all out Birds-style, they could. That's all for now - see you soon.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


One 2-hour rainy drive later, I am back in Davis. Thanksgiving this year was a blessing - we grubbed down at my parents' place with 20 members of my extended family. I talked with my cousin who's now a freshman at UCSC, I hung out with my cousin who is now a freshman at Irvington High School, and I went on a bunch of bike rides with my dad on gorgeous, sunny days. I'm crazy blessed.

It was also a good time to see a bunch of people from the past - I saw my junior high saxophone teacher at Chipotle, and Monica and I grabbed a cup of coffee at Bay Street Coffee with Nick, the trombone player from Minus Vince (I used to sleep over at his house from seventh to ninth grade, watching MST3K and drinking mocha Frappuchinos.)

I've been reading in the book of Philippians recently: what has struck me so deeply is Paul's heart of thankfulness, even in the midst of great suffering and personal discouragement. The faith of his friends, the strength of commitment to Christ brought him hope when he was afflicted. I think I can relate - the gift of men and women of God who pray for me, encourage me, and challenge me with their lives of radical discipleship and selfless love is second only to the love of Jesus on my "greatest gifts that GOD has hooked it up with" list. I have so much to be thankful for - I pray GOD would give me a heart of thankfulness, a heart that overflows into the loving relationships that mean so much to me.

I'm writing a paper on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Church - I'll tell you about it. See you soon.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-5)

Sunday, November 05, 2006


This past week, it came to light that Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and Senior Pastor of New Life Church of Colorado Springs, CO had engaged in immoral and illicit behavior. (read here) He initially denied the charges, but in a letter that was read to his congregation, he said this:
"I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach. Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them." (full text here)
An article, commenting on Ted Haggard's fall, cut to the heart of why we see this kind of gross failure:
"I have come to believe that there is a deeper person in many of us who is not unlike an assassin ... This deeper person... can be the source of attitudes and behaviors we normally stand against in our conscious being. But it seeks to destroy us and masses energies that—unrestrained—tempt us to do the very things we 'believe against.' ... there is something within that, left unguarded, will go on the rampage."
This past tuesday, I dressed up as Hugh Laurie from the TV show, "House." It's a show that I find to be very well-conceived and clever, but on a deeper level I relate to a doctor who can heal everybody but himself. He is a genius, to be sure, but his wounds run so deep that it's no secret that he's a man who lives with great pain; some forced upon him, and the rest which he has heaped upon himself.

In his book The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen talks about what it means to be a minister. One of his ideas is this: as ministers of the Gospel, we are all wounded by sin; we must be honest and aware of the depths of our sinfulness and depravitiy. When we forget this reality, it is then that pride becomes justifiable, even logical - we cannot see past our own giftedness to see that we are dying on the inside. In response to the article I quoted above, one reader left this comment: "The church doesn’t value character, it values personality, just like the rest of society." I think that personality is so alluring because it is a means by which we can hide our faults, and make ourselves likeable. Character isn't apparent to the naked eye, and so we often gloss it over in favor of putting on a mask that makes it appear as though we have no problems, no sins. And if we wear that mask for long enough, I think that we start to believe it. This is greatest lie we could ever believe.

But this is not where it ends: the end of Nouwen's idea is that though we be aware of sinfulness, we must not be overwhelmed by it. Rather than falling into endless despair, we must lead others, in the midst of our brokenness, into the eternal, everlasting hope of GOD.

Jesus, who sees the depths of my heart and loves me the same - you are my only hope. Remind me every day. See you soon.
"So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:21-25)

"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Luke 12:1b-2)

Friday, October 27, 2006


In my HIS 131B class, we have been talking about 15th and 16th century Europe, particularly the events that led up to and transpired during the period that we learned about in 9th grade history called The Renaissance. As we've been getting our study on, one idea in particular stuck out - the idea of the "Renaissance Man."

In my mind, I had never connected the idea of The Renaissance with the idea of the Renaissance Man, but now I understand how they intersect. A "Renaissance Man" was someone who was the perfectly well-rounded person - excellent in phyical prowess, intellectual accomplishment, and anything else you could think of. For the humanist thinkers of the time, the "Renaissance Man" was the goal to which all men should seek to aspire.

This struck me profoundly because I realized that this is the way I think about becoming "perfect in Christ." I have a picture in my mind's eye of a me who is multilingual, healthy and athletic, a good juggler, well-read, universally trivia-knowledgeable, and an excellent cook. And I think that I could become that someone if only I would try harder. Often, soak in my own frustrations over why I make mistakes, or agonize over why I continue to do things that I know are wrong. What struck me so deeply was the realization that I often confuse the things that I do with the person that I'm becoming in Jesus. It is at those times that I base my worth on how much I'm improving, and it's then that my back breaks under the burden of trying to perform well.

But this is not so - I've been thinking on what it means to be perfect in Jesus, and I think that that means being conformed to his image - a perfect servant. Perfectly selfless. Perfectly loving. Perfectly wise. Perfectly compassionate. Perfectly just.

It is after this perfection that I desire to strive. I am far from perfect, though my prideful heart often would like to think otherwise - sometimes I move forward in great strides, sometimes I strain against the heavy winds, and sometimes there is nowhere I can go but down to my knees. But I have begun this walk with Jesus - I've come far from where I've started, but I have a ways yet to go. With the sun on my face, I will not turn to the left or to the right - there is no place I would rather be. Jesus, I am not perfect, but You are - make me more like you, one piece at a time. See you soon.
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
Well, I left Kentucky back in '49
An' went to Detroit workin' on a 'sembly line
The first year they had me puttin' wheels on cadillacs

Every day I'd watch them beauties roll by
And sometimes I'd hang my head and cry
ways wanted me one that was long and black.
One day I devised myself a plan
That should be the envy of most any man
I'd sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand
Now gettin' caught meant gettin' fired
But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired
I'd have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.

I'd get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is a round.

So the very next day when I punched in
With my big lunchbox and with help from my friends
I left that day with a lunch box full of gears
Now, I never considered myself a thief
GM wouldn't miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The first day I got me a fuel pump
And the next day I got me an engine and a trunk
Then I got me a transmission and all of the chrome
The little things I could get in my big lunchbox
Like nuts, an' bolts, and all four shocks
But the big stuff we snuck out in my buddy's mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went all right
'Til we tried to put it all together one night
And that's when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.

The transmission was a '53
And the motor turned out to be a '73
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.

So we drilled it out so that it would fit
And with a little bit of help with an A-daptor kit
We had that engine runnin' just like a song
Now the headlight' was another sight
We had two on the left and one on the right
But when we pulled out the switch all three of 'em come on.

The back end looked kinda funny too
But we put it together and when we got thru
Well, that's when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin
About that time my wife walked out
And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts
But she opened the door and said "Honey, take me for a spin."

So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin' for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn't laugh
'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.

I got it one piece at a time
And it didn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.
(One Piece At A Time, Johnny Cash)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I took this picture on my bike ride yesterday - I thought this picture of the sun shining on all these sunflowers was gorgeous.

School has begun - I'm super stoked about the awesome stuff that GOD has placed me in the midst of this quarter, but part of me knows that I need to be honest about myself about where I end and where GOD begins. I'm just a little tiny piece of the body - my desire is to shine for GOD's glory without burning up and burning out.

I'm stoked about my classes: courses in the Black Christian Church, the Hebrew Bible, and the historical period of the Renaissance and Reformation. I'm up to my neck in books, but the truth is that I'm up to my neck in books all the time anyway. One thing that don't envy about no longer being a lower classman is that I don't have to take any more "general education" classes - all of my reading is really interesting, and I'm stoked about seeing the GOD's glory in all history, among all peoples, and in places that I hadn't thought about before.

That's all for now - so it begins. See you soon.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I came across this website while reading Mark Oestricher's blog (President of Youth Specialties), and it gave 10 tips for "flirting to convert":

1. If he tells your that you are hot...
Tell him God made you hot.

2. If he wants to hold your hand...
Give him a Bible.

3. If he tries to get closer...
Tell him the Holy Spirit is wooing him.

4. If he asks to pay for dinner...
Remind him that Jesus also paid a debt He did not owe!

5. If he reaches his arm around you...
Tell him that nobody will ever be as close to you as Jesus is.
(or ask him if you instead could "lay hands" on him in prayer)

6. If he tries to kiss you...
Remind him that a kiss killed your Savior.
(and you're not ready to "speak in tongues")

7. If he asks to come inside...
Ask him if he has asked Jesus to come inside his heart.

8. If he tells you he loves you...
Tell him that Jesus loves him.

9. If he gets angry that you won't put out...
Clarify to him that W.W.J.D. does NOT mean "Who would Jesus Do."

10. After you dump him...
Tell him that Jesus Christ will never leave or forsake him.

I was thinking of buying a T-shirt from their store, but I have no idea when I could ever bring myself to wear it. I hope that it's a joke, otherwise my heart will break. I feel as though the hurt and pain of the world on my shoulders - I'm going to go to the throne of Jesus and lay them all at his feet. See you there. See you soon.
"Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all burdens upon thee, O Lord." (John Baillie)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Jesus loves me, this I know
For the bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak when he is strong

Allelujah, allelu
Allelujah, allelu

Friday, September 08, 2006


Two weeks before I left New York, I drove a group of staff members 2 hours out of camp down to Crossgates Mall in the capital of New York state - Albany. I had not been in a movie theater all summer, so I decided to cough up the NINE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS to catch a flick. I saw World Trade Center - it was worth it.

The movie does not really focus on the evil that was done that day - the collapse of the twin towers happens within the first twenty minutes of the movie. The bulk of the movie tells the true story of two Port Authority policemen, Jimeno and McLaughlin, who were trapped under the wreckage and later rescued (They were 2 of 20 people who were pulled from the rubble alive.) The movie is not over-the-top heroic or wildly overdramatized - it tells the tale of these two men's fight for survival. The story cuts between two two men buried under the rubble, fighting to stay awake and alive, and their wives back in their homes, struggling to find meaning and peace in a world gone wrong. As I relieved the events of September 11th, 2001, my soul was burdened once more with the utter evil, misunderstanding and broken depravity of the world in which we live. So many were torn so violently from this mortal coil that day - so many gone, with their families left only with the frayed ends of bittersweet memories.

One of the most powerful scenes for me occurs when McLaughlin, a man whose job at the police department had created distance between himself and his wife over 20 years, has an imaginary conversation with his spouse. At this point, he has been buried for what had seemed like an eternity, and he was on the verge of death. As the image of his beautiful wife swam in his vision, he spoke this question into the darkness: "Did I love you enough? Did I love you the way I was supposed to?"

This summer in the teen ministry at Camp-Of-The-Woods, our overarching theme for the summer came out of the words of Jesus, when asked about the greatest commandment in the law:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)

The reality is that most of us will not face death trapped until countless tons of shattered glass and steel, but the heavy blanket of death will one day lay upon us all. And as our vision shrinks, only one question will matter: "Did I love you enough? Did I love you at all?" It is our greatest commandment and our highest calling to love GOD, but as broken people, we so often forget what really matters. The real question is this - when death holds us in it's grip, will we regret? True love is a choice, and in the end it is all that is important. And it is a choice, indeed - a choice which we much choose to make every day. As Russell Crowe said in Gladiator, "Death smiles at us all - The only thing that we can do is smile back."

And smile we can and will, because we know that death holds no power over us now - it is but a thin veil that separates us from an eternal life, an eternal treasure that no thief can steal and no moth can eat away. For most of us the question is not just, "What if you don't wake up tommorow?", but "What if you do?" My hope and prayer is that I will one day be able to say as the Apostle Paul did,

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have LOVED his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8, emphasis mine)

I want to live without regrets - I want love you wholeheartedly every day, for the rest of my life. Lord, let me stay close by your side, to abide in your love and bring you glory, so that when death smiles at me, I can smile back. See you soon.

"Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" (John 21:15)

Friday, September 01, 2006


For the past two months, I've been reading through a book called Twelve Ordinary Men by John Macarthur, a study of the twelve disciples. A few weeks ago, I read through the chapter on James, one of the "Sons of Thunder." John focuses on one story in particular where Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Samaria on the way to worship in Jerusalem in Luke 9. One night during their journey through Samaria, Jesus and his disciples were denied lodging for the night. When James hears of this, he says this: "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" (Lk. 9:54) Jesus got denied a place to stay, and James wanted to call down the flames of heaven to swallow them up - Jesus didn't call him a "Son of Thunder" for nothing.

I'm generally a pretty calm man, but when I see something that makes baby Jesus cry, my blood starts pumping, my fists clench, and my teeth grind. One morning in the Teen Shack, one of our female staff had delievered the message. As she closed in prayer and the kids began to file out, one kid approached her and asked if he could ask her a few questions. After she agreed, she asked her to turn to 1 Corinthians, and proceeded to read this verse: "women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says." (1 Cor. 14:34) He then looked at her innocently and said, "What do you think?" Oh, boy - if I could've brought down the wrath of GOD down on his arrogant, disrespectful little butt, I would've. I definitely would've dropped a few 'bows on him, but I didn't want to send him home crying to his momma. When I see people practically spitting in the face of Jesus and in the faces of his children, I want to make like Jules in Pulp Fiction and lay the smack down. After spending a summer working with students, my tolerance for disrespect has dropped drastically - but there is a fine line between godly, constructive discipline and putting students down just because.

John concludes his study with these words: "...lovingkindness and mercy are virtues to be cultivated as much as (and sometimes more than) righteous indignation and fiery zeal." (pg. 89) Jesus, I want to burn for you - both with a passion for the reverence and honor of GOD, and also with a passion to be filled with the love and compassion of the Jesus who bore the shame of the world on his shoulders to free us from hate and fear. Teach me balance between zeal and compassion - I want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. See you soon.

"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village." (Luke 9:51-56)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Food is amazing. I thank GOD for food every day. Burritos, pasta, calzones, broccoli beef, perogis - you name it, I love it. That's one of the things that I love most about Davis - the food options are numerous, and it's an awesome blessing to sit down and have a tasty meal with friends and family.

But here at camp, the food options are... limited. The dining hall plans out a week of meals for the guests, and they use the same meal every week. For the guests, who are here for one week and then leave, this is of no significance. But those of us staff who are here for 10 weeks, this reality is of greater significance. I don't think of myself to be a very picky eater, but eating the same camp food for ten weeks has been... interesting. Let me intercede at this point and say that GOD has been teaching me a lot about food this summer (I'll share some of those thoughts later), but one of the most significant realities that I have come to grasp is that there is a difference between what I want and what I need. The camp dining hall is by no means a 4-star restaurant, but I have never gone to sleep hungry - a statement that millions and millions of people around the world cannot make. That's the truth.

But in the midst of the week-to-week cycle of food, there were two weeks of heaven that came in the form of an amazingly generous family: the Prol family. For two weeks, they stayed in one of the units in camp that has a kitchen, and for lunch and dinner every day they left an open invitation for all of the staff to come and be fed. Kryne Prol (first name pronounced like "Brian," but with a "k"), the father of the family, would cook up amazing grub for anyone who was hungry, twice a day. It was amazing.

One day, he made perogis - pasta stuffed with mashed potatoes and cream cheese. I had never heard of them before, but apparently everyone else had - on that afternoon, there were over 80 people crowded around and in this dude's little abode, grubbing down on this delicious food. I was one of the first people there, and as I sat with my styrofoam plate in my lap, heaping with food, I looked with disdain as more and more people flooded into Mr. Prol's yard. I thought to myself, "There's not enough food for all of these people. Why are they here?" Staring down into my plate of food, my heart was hard with thoughts of greed and judgement. Looking up, I saw Mr. Prol, and I was brought to my knees with shame.

Mr. Prol was standing out beside the road, scanning the horizon for anyone who remotely looked like a staff member, waving them in like an air traffic controller to come partake in the feast. As I sat there, my sinful greed juxtaposed with his bottomless generosity, I was reminded that this is the reality of the Kingdom of GOD - there is enough for all of his children. In GOD's house there are many abiding places; in GOD's family, room for everyone to be covered in his love and forgiveness. In GOD's creation, there is enough for everyone - as Shane Claiborne observed in his book The Irresistible Revolution, "I'm convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was created not by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves."

I was reminded of Jesus' words in the parable of the generous landowner in Matthew 20: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?" (v. 15) Jesus, change my heart - bring me to a place where you are more than enough for me. Seen you soon.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


(This is the first of a series of posts taken from journal reflection from the past 10 weeks. Sorry I didn't post them sooner - but now I have some time to breathe and reflect, and I would love to share some of my experience with you.)

Camp-of-the-Woods is situated on Lake Pleasant, a beautiful lake about 5 miles long and a 1/2 mile wide at it's widest point. In the center of the beachfront area that the camp covers, there is a roped-off swim area that stretches out about 200 feet into the lake. That might seem like quite a distance, but one of the most interesting features of the lake is that it's dropoff is incredibly gentle - I can walk about 150 of those feet out into the water. But the last 50 must be traversed by doggie-paddling, and this is where the difficulty arises - I'm afraid of swimming in lakes.

When I was in the Boy Scouts, we would spend one week out of the summer at a place called Camp Wente, which also had a gorgeous lake. And every summer, when it came time to take the swim test, I would fail miserably because I would imagine Jaws gnawing my legs off as soon as my head dipped under the water. After a few minutes or so of frightened flopping, they would fish me out and I would be restricted to the kiddie wading section. I can swim just fine - put me in a pool and I can swim and tread water just like anyone else. But there's something about the unknown contents of the dark water and the fear of scary fish that would paralyze me every time.

But this summer, as I got into the water and that familiar fear came back to flood my mind, some words that I had heard once came to mind: "The fish in that lake are more scared of you than you are of them." As I floated on my back, looking up at the sky, I realized that this was true. I'm not so scared of lakes any more.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that with Christ within me and beside me, I have nothing to fear. Though the unknown is a scary place, and as we swim in it panic and insecurity gnaw at our minds like the nibbles of little fish, I find comfort and peace in knowing that the powers and principalities of this broken world tremble at the name of Jesus Christ, and that now, by his Spirit living within me, I have nothing to fear. I'm not so scared anymore. See you soon.

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." (James 2:19)

"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water." (John 21:7)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


A come home two weeks from yesterday. Things I'm excited about:

1. Seeing people I love
2. Sitting on a comfy couch in Bay Street Coffee with a good book
3. Going on slurpee runs (they don't have 7-11s in New York)
4. Driving my car on streets I know
5. Going through the $3.95 bin at Rasputin's Music
6. Going thrift store shopping with my mom
7. Eating a chicken super burrito from the "Tacos La Esmeralda" taco truck (My girlfriend surprised me by coming here to NY to surprise me [a whole different story] and put a burrito on ice, carrying it on the plane, flying 3,000 miles, and bringing it to me. I couldv'e died and gone to heaven. My girlfriend is amazing.)
8. Driving to Santa Cruz, having a bonfire, and stopping at Marianne's Ice Cream afterwards
9. Going on bike rides with my dad
10. Kissing my mom
11. Kissing my sister
12. Shooting finger rockets and laughing in the Student Ministries Office at BCC
13. Doing nothing
14. Doing nothing with my girlfriend
15. Doing anything in Davis

I'm not homesick, but I love my home, and I'm excited to come back to all the things that I'm so thankful for. I haven't been faithful to post updates here, but I have begun to journal regularly, so my hope is to share some of those stories here. Thank you for your prayers and support - I miss you. See you soon. (Seriously.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I love to read. I love my job. One of the coolest things about it is that though all of my days are spent spending time with teenage students, in between our activities and chapel services and hangout times, I have a lot of time to grow intellectually and spiritually. For me, a big source of renewal (and also growth) is the ability to sit down and learn from/be challenged/shaped/changed by a good book. Summer is always the best time for heavy reading, and I've been getting my read on for sure - here's the rundown on what's been in/is in my hands:


Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald - it doesn't meaning "ordering" like ordering a Big Mac, but rather ordering in the sense of developing your inward, private spiritual fortitude. It's a book that is very practical, but also very compelling. Somewhat oriented towards older business folks, but with ideas that are very thought-provoking and applicable.

The Man Who Could Do No Wrong, Charles Blair - a biography recommended by the above book. Charles Blair was a man who grew up in the Depression, founded, shaped, what would become one of the 10 largest churches in America, and then was accused of defrauding business investors. It's a story of his discovery of the failure of the American Dream and the illusion of success - a very powerful story, and one which I have yet to finish. But I read half of it today - it's very winsome story, and a haunting parable. I have hardly read any biography, but I'm excited to get more into it.


A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving - a dark, comic novel upon which the movie Simon Birch is loosely based. At some points coarse and sprinkled with some Reagan-era political commentary that went over my head, the story is one that has very powerful implications for the power of destiny and GOD's will, a well-crafted tale which comes together at the end. Not sure if I would recommend it, but it was a good story.

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut - Deep. Funny. Complex. I'm not really sure what to say about it - each of the short chapters of this novel is pregnant with meaning and nuance. It's a novel loosely about a man writing a story about the dropping of the atomic bomb - but really, it seems like it's about nothing at all. I appreciated it, but I can't say I fully understood it.

Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston - A story of a family in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. A very warm story told about a very tragic time in US history. A story about the terrible power of racism, fear, and injustice, and the deep wounds that come from having your home and all you know taken from you. A very disarming, telling parable.

That's all for now - I'll let you know what else is up shortly - I hope to post here regularly. See you soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

COTW - WEEKS 1 & 2

Camp is off the hook. After a week of preparation for what camp was going to be like, the first "guests" arrived for week 1 of camp. We played dodgeball, or "Sphere Evasion" as they call it here, because there's some kind of taboo/illegality regarding dodgeball - I've never seen kids throw balls at each other for so long. I get paid to hang out with teenagers - There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

For my birthday, I went into town and ate chinese food at Dragon City. In a town of 349, you wouldn't think that there would be a good chinese restaurant, but not so in Speculator - it was delicious.

This is what I remember in looking back on the past two weeks - I feel like it has flown by, and I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I'm being stretched, tested, and refined - I'm blessed to have so many praying for my time here, and to have so many amazing men and women of GOD to work with.

I wish you could be here, and see it all, but for now, I'll get my thoughts together and see if I can't being a little more coherent next time. GOD is good - that's all I can say. See you soon.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I put up a Flickr site to post all of my pictures too. For those of you who have Facebook, I'll be posting pictures there too. All is well - I'm sitting in the computer lounge while all of the international folks watch the England vs. Ecuador game. See you soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I got dropped off at the airport at 6PM for my flight to Las Vegas. I had an interesting conversation with the guy in the seat next to me about pastors and money - he told me that, "If I was a Christian, I was in the wrong place [Las Vegas]. As I got up, he told me to keep the faith. I told him I would.

As I was waiting for my plane to take off from Las Vegas to Philadelphia. As the boarding time approached, the stewardess got on the intercom and told us there would be a short delay. 3 hours later in the same waiting room, this is what I looked like:30 minutes later, we took off from a different gate. We arrived in Philly at 10:30 local time - my flight to Albany had left at 7:25. The next flight that wasn't full didn't take off until 6:15. So I waited. Here's a picture of my feet:We landed in Albany at 8PM, and we pulled into Camp-Of-The-Woods at 10PM, 25 hours after I had begun my journey. And I didn't care. The camp is amazing, and I can't wait to see the things that GOD is going to do in the lives of the students I'm going to impact this summer, and the ways in which he is going to shape me into the image of his son. See you soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I'm leaving on a jetplane. For New York. I got a digital camera for my [early] birthday, so I'll be posting pictures for all of y'all while I'm away in the Adirondacks. This is a picture of my sister - she's beautiful. Well, I'm out - see you soon.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I came across an article today from Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. I posted about 24 a few months ago, and I found his brief thoughts to be very interesting, though I don't think I really feel the same way that he does about the show, and his humor doesn't really draw me in. I feel that the show really teaches, but not the lessons that Mark points out at all. Read it and think for yourself. See you soon.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This past Sunday, I rolled down to Santa Cruz with Monica and some high school friends to hit up Rio Del Mar beach for our psuedo-annual beach trip. I got to break in the Weber BBQ grill I got for Christmas that I got from my amazing mom, and chow down on some dogs and burgers with friends.

I don't know what's so amazing/mezmerizing about fire, but I'm not too curious - I just can't imagine feel more at peace and content than staring up at the stars while sitting next to a warm fire. It was some good rest - good conversation, singing, laughing, and fun. Get some rest - it's good for you. See you soon.

1. A BBQ
2. Good friends
3. Jesus
4. Rio Del Mar beach
5. Marianne's Ice Cream
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Friday, May 26, 2006


I am a music major with an emphasis in performance, and last wednesday, I had my Junior Recital. It almost killed me. I had never invested so much in one thing before in my life - I think I spend something like 100 hours doing nothing but playing the same 26 minutes over and over again. The truth is that this isn't something that only I deal with - do just about anything well takes practice and time; there is absolutely no substitute, whether it's playing the saxophone or catching a football or talking about Organic Chemistry or knowing the word of GOD.

But I can't shake the feeling that I finished well, and it wouldn't have happened save for the spirit of GOD that lives in me. Staying focused for so long, continuing to practice and do well in the face of criticism and discouragement, those were things that could only come from being lifted up on eagle's wings by Jesus. Having all of my family and friends there helped too, and at the end I felt I could look back and say that it wasn't perfect, but I gave it my best.

My hope is that I'll be able to say the same about this school year. No worries - I got Jesus. See you soon.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


In 23 days, I will be boarding a red eye flight to Albany, NY. I will be working as an assistant Teen Program Director for Camp-of-the-Woods, a Christian Family camp in Upstate New York. I cannot tell you how excited I am... well, I tried once. Summer is so close that I can taste it, and I can't wait to finish well here at Davis and follow Jesus to New York this Summer. But not yet - Time to get back to the grindstone. See you soon.


Saturday, May 20, 2006


A few nights ago, I was reading from the Ragamuffin Gospel before I went to bed. It dropped behind my desk after I fell asleep. (I sleep in a lofted bed above my desk - it dropped through the crack between my bed and the wall.) As I was cleaning today, I pulled it out from behind my desk and while flipping through the pages, I ran across a passage that described Brennan's thoughts on evangelism:
"The ministry of evangelization is an extraordinary opportunity of showing gratitude to Jesus by passing on His gospel of grace to others. However, the 'conversion by concussion' method with one sledgehammer blow of the Bible after another betrays a basic disrespect for the dignity of the other and is utterly alien to the gospel imperative to bear witness. To evangelize a person is to say to him or her: you, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. And not only to say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it. This is what it means to announce the Good News. But that becomes possible only by offering the person your friendship; a friendship that is real, unselfish, without condescension, full of confidence, and profound esteem." (pg. 121, The Ragamuffin Gospel)
That's some winsome stuff - like a breath of fresh air. See you soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


The Da Vinci Code is coming to the silver screen tommorow. I'm a big reader, and I've read the book - it's a very thrilling page-turner, but a very poor theological treatise on the nature of Jesus and his supposed "secret life." It's stirred up some very old questions about things like the gnostic gospels the humanity/divinity of Jesus, and I think that that's a good thing. I read an article by a lady named Elizabeth Duffin who summed up a lot of my own sentiments regarding the book - read it here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


For those of you who aren't aware, it is really hot in Northern California right now. Two weeks ago, spring straight sprung, and it's been shorts and hawaiian shirt weather ever since. Some people say that they like the cold weather more than the hot because they can control their own personal temperature with jackets and stuff, but I don't buy into that school of thinking. I love warm weather.

This afternoon, I saw a kid who was out selling lemonade. He had a little collapsible table, a plastic chair, and a handwritten cardboard sign to attract passing motorists. The sign said this: "Freshly squeezed, organic Lemonade." Organic. Only in Davis (and other radically environmentally conscious communities) would you see an 11-year old kid selling lemonade made with organic lemons as part of his sales pitch. How about cold? Refreshing? Satisfying? When it's 95 degrees out, whether or not the lemons were grown in the absence of pesticides doesn't conern me - what I care about is if it is going to quench my thirst. The kid didn't seem too business saavy, but I bet he did a decent business anyway.

Yesterday, two men were out in the center of my college campus holding up signs. (I've written about these types of men before here and here, and the encounter made it into the school paper.) Their signs said things like "I trust Jesus" and "Turn or Burn." But these men aren't out there to sell lemonade - they're out there to tell people about Jesus. But just like the kid with the lemonade stand, I don't agree with the stuff on their signs. And they're presenting a lot more than just their signs - what's most important is them, and from some of the cutting, unloving things that they said, I wonder if they're quenching people's thirst or shoving sand down their throats. Does telling people that they're going to hell bring people to repentance? Does it reveal the full nature of GOD - the only Lawgiver, Judge, and holy incarnation of perfect love?

I heard this on a retreat: "When you have salty conversations with people, they get thirsty." My hope is that we as followers of Jesus would build relationships in such a way that we leave people thirsting for the Gospel - the beauty of it all is that Jesus is living water, and those who drink of him will never thirst again. That's a Jesus that doesn't need any flashy advertising or explicating - he sells himself. See you soon.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:5-13)

"Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?" (James 4:10-12)

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I went home this weekend for Mother's Day. Things I wanted to do:

1. Love on my mom
2. Spend time with my girlfriend
3. Wash my car
4. Go on a bike ride

Things that I did:

1. Loved on my mom
2. Spent time with my girfriend
3. Watched Memoirs of A Geisha
4. Slept

It was good. I'll post my thoughts on Memoirs of A Geisha later, because I found it to be a very powerful, mesmerizing movie. For Mom's day, we went to a chinese restaurant and then hit up my uncle's house for some cake.

As an aside, I'm not a huge fortune cookie fan - I think that if GOD wanted to, he could tell me whatever he wanted through whatever he wanted, burning bushes, donkeys of Balaam, and fortune cookies too, but I'm not waiting for a prophetic word to come out of a cleverly folded cookie. Getting fortunes like "You will meet someone special today" or "You have a magnetic personality" haven't done much to win me over.

So my first fortune today read something like, "You have an exceptionally attractive personality," or something like that. Flattering, but not really much in the way of encouraging my spiritual growth. So I was ready to throw in the towel, but my heart (and my sweet tooth... really just my sweet tooth) decided to give the fortune one more chance. So I grabbed one more (since there were 20 of us, they just gave us a whole bucket full and let us go at it) and this is what it said:
Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion.
That's a pretty far cry from the financial planning advice you find in most fortune cookies. I've found that GOD can be funny sometimes - in a humbling way. And he's good, too. See you soon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This afternoon, I was hanging out with a high school student when I remembered that I was out of fruit. Bananas are my current favorite fruit, and I had eaten my last one at the end of last week, so I decided to bike straight from my meeting over to the place where I buy my produce.

The place where I go is a place called Pedrick Produce, as awesome place for really good fruits, vegetables, and a bunch of other really bomb snacks. It's tucked away in this rundown, corrugated metal quonset hut next to a gas station off of highway 80 in Dixon - it doesn't look like much, but looks are definitely deceiving because the place is off the hinges.

Anyway, my desire to bike to the place sprung from a few factors: my passion for cycling, the nice weather, and the desire to make a difference for the Kingdom of GOD. See, I promised myself that if the price of gas went over $3.00, I would not drive anywhere that I could bike/walk/run to. Even though I'm blessed with a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon, I still felt that by not driving there, I'd be practicing some conservation, and being responible with my skrilla. The book that I'm reading right now, The Irresistible Revolution, is one of those "mess-up-your-life-for-Jesus" kind of books - once you read them you can't go back. One of the biggest ideas that I've chewed through in the book that has resonated with my own personal thought and experience is that following Christ is not just about what we believe (though our beliefs and worldview are absolutely critical and eternally significant), but it's also about how we live. I've known and heard for a long time that following Christ is about acting in response to GOD's amazing love for us, but the truth that that "acting" isn't just meant to be isolated acts of service or goodwill, but a lifestyle and culture of living out daily the care and love of Christ for all things. Hence the ride.

So I set off from Coldstone, a banana-and-heath-bar shake sitting heavy in my gut, and I proceeded to ride out to the stand. The first thing I realized was that the stand was a little further than I thought - those 6 miles seemed to pass a lot faster when I was going 4 times faster in my car. I also realized that it was 90 degrees, I was wearing sandals, I was not wearing a helmet or cycling gloves, and that I was carrying a backpack filled with bananas, oranges, apples, and baby carrots.

I began to question the wisdom of my decision, but as I sweated under the burden of a grip of organic produce I remembered something - following Christ isn't easy. Changing our patterns of behavior, transforming our attitudes and minds, being shaped and refined by the Holy Spirit isn't a process that doesn't come without sacrifice. If I want to manifest the work of GOD in me, I must surrender the comfort of the routines and privelidges of the life I now know for the excitment and joy in living out the call of Christ in all that I do. It's clear that it doesn't come without some sweat, perseverance, patience, and pain. As the patterns of this world that have been worn smoothly into my soul by the forces of this world are torn away and cast down, I've begun to see that beyond embracing and growing in our understanding of the Christian worldview, following Christ is a whole new way to live - the Kingdom of GOD, here and now.

It was a tough ride, but I'll tell you this - I'd never tasted sweeter fruit in my life. How about them apples?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I can't remember the last time I was in the movie theater - the sad part is that probably the last movie I saw was that weak-sauce movie I saw way back in January - just like the price of gas, the high price of seeing a movie has kept me from getting out unless I absolutely need to. I didn't even see the Chronicles of Narnia (and I still haven't.) But yesterday, after hanging with some students at lunch, me and another leader from Lighthouse, Scott, decided to hit up the movie theater and catch M:I-3. (I love being finished with class at noon everyday.)

Long story short - I liked it. I really like the director, JJ Abrams, who also did X-Men 2 and created Lost and Alias. From the interviews I've read, he's a dude with a Christian worldview, and that's really awesome because I feel that the overriding themes of joy, hope, and just life abundantly really come forth in the feel of his movies, not to mention that his movies (and shows) are awesome. Not to say that this movie is sappy or sentimental - it blows the socks off of M:I-2 in terms of plot, character development and blowing-up-cool-gadget coolness, as well as leaving you with a feeling that in the end, love wins. For a guy who doesn't go the movies unless I know it's going to be amazing, I feel like I got my $6:50's worth. See you soon.


No more excuses. Here's a snapshot of my life right now:

LAST WEEKEND: I went up to Richardson Springs with my college community, College Life, for a retreat. The place is absolutely gorgeous, and I had some good time to reflect, rest, and experience the Word of GOD with my peers, as well as cast some vision for next year. It was off the hinges.

READING: "The Irresistible Revolution," by Shane Claiborne. I have really appreciated this book - I find it to be very constructive and compelling, offering winsome and practical ways about how to live as the body of Christ by radically changing your lifestyle, attitude, and perspective. I like Shane, and whenever I refer to an author by his first name, that's a good thing. I'll post more thoughts about it when I finish it - I'm about halfway through now.

LISTENING: When I went on the Powerhouse Snow Ski Trip, I heard this song by Shane & Shane called "The Answer." I love it. I write about music on my blog a lot, and this is no exception - it's amazing.

That's a snapshot of me right now - I'll talk with you more soon. Peace in your hoods.
i've tried more of me
and i've come up dry
trading You for things
things that go away
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You

i have found the answer is
to love You and be loved by You alone
alright! alright! alright!
You crucify me and the world to me
and i will only boast in You
alright! alright! alright!

i'm so satisfied
at the thought of You
growing up in me
covering everything
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You
my happiness is found in less
of me and more of You

You are, You are (loved by me)
You are, You are (You're loved by me)
You are, You are (You're loved by me)
You are, You are, You are
The Answer, Shane Bernard

Monday, March 27, 2006


My blog melted down. I guess it got tired of being neglected, so it just gave up. I'm excited again - I'll be back soon. Maybe I was dead for awhile - but now I'm alive. I'll work on getting all my links and stuff back, and then I'll get my blog on. See you soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I'm still alive - honest. It seems that in my circle of blogging friends, we've all taken a collective hiatus, but I'm going to break the silence and keep it real. My life is awesome - working at CCC, writing really long papers, living for Jesus - it hasn't all been easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I've had lots of bloggable thoughts, but no time to tease them out and let those for are far away physically but near in my heart into my world. Hope to have more of that soon. With that, I'm out - I'll be talking to you soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

FLIX. Underworld: Evolution

I watch a lot of movies. As I referenced in my last post, I didn't watch much TV when I was a kid; but I did watch a lot of movies. Even though I've left home and I have TV at my fingertips, this holds true - watching primetime television is not a priority in my life, my I do heartily enjoy the story that can be told through a film. Therefore, I thought it would be cool to process all of them into my mind and heart by writing out my thoughts.

Unfortunately, this movie is a pretty anticlimatic beginning to my exercise in discernment, because there's not really too much to discern. Some of the students in Remix were going to go see it instead of coming to youth group, so I took the church to them. There was a lot of blood, violence, and... that was it. Not much to be redeemed, but my hope is that in the future this exercise will be a way for me to take all of my thoughts captive for Christ. My hope, in "redemptive movie watching" (ht Jax) is to, in the stories that we tell, to listen for GOD's story, while remaining pure and unstained by the world. Word. See you soon.

P.S. Ransom Fellowship offers some awesome, GOD-centered materials on viewing and understanding film from a spiritual perspective.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


TV has changed a lot from when I was a kid. TV didn't have a big place in my life growing up - my dad had a disagreement with the cable company when I was like, 10, and so he just canceled it. But the TV that I did watch consisted of shows like Doug, Full House, Family Matters, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Clarissa Explains It All, Salute Your Shorts, What Would You Do?, and Saved by the Bell. In those shows, some situation would be proposed/set up, the characters would interact for 20 minutes, and that was it. The next day, it was a clean slate. Rinse. Repeat. But now, in my limited experience/following of television, TV has really come to a whole new level of artistic and comedic excellence.

In shows like The Office, Scrubs, and My Name is Earl, the characters evolve, the writing is excellent, and the jokes are so funny and so copious that my sides split. I've heard good things about a ton of other shows too - it seems like television has really matured in terms of sophistication, spanning entire seasons with contiguous plots and compelling, hilarious storylines that draw you in and invite you to participate in the story. I guess you could that soap operas have been doing this for a long time, but... I don't want to offend old-school soap opera fans, so I'm not going to go there. I have been very impressed with the new developments in comedic television, but for me the most engaging (addicting?) show currently running is not a comedy, but a drama: it is 24.

If you've never seen or heard of the show before, I would simply describe as one of the most intense, engaging stories that I have ever heard/seen. (Brian just touched on this.) It is packed with explosions, gunfights, and intense action, but this is not it's only selling point: one season splits into 24 episodes, each chronicling an hour of a day containing some catastrophic national emergency. The story is not only action-packed, but is laced with endless layers of compelling intrigue and a cast of neurotic, over-worked employees of the CTU, an organization formed to combat terrorism.

I just finished the 4th season on DVD, and it was a riveting, emotionally draining odyssey - a tragic story about people forced to make decisions that no one should be forced to make.
I don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but I would recommend not starting if you don't have a lot of free time, because you won't be able to stop. But I did want to share a couple of my thoughts about why I find the show touches a chord somewhere in my heart.

One thing that strikes me about the show is predictability. Now, I definitely don't mean in terms of the plot twists, but rather because the characters' determination to do what is "right," in this case stop whatever it is that the terrorists are trying to pull. This end is to be accomplished no matter what the cost to their own lives. Each season is built around a nuclear bomb or a deadly virus, or some other emminent threat to the American public, and for the members of CTU this threat supercedes all other personal concerns and convictions.

This statement is often flexible in the lives of the secondary characters, which leads to much of the suspense of the plot, but the one man for whom this is unwaveringly true is the protagonist of the series, Jack Bauer. He is the most compelling character, primarily because of his convictions, or more accurately his conviction: complete the mission, at any cost. His commitent to this end is unflinching, but in all other areas, he coldly lays aside all his other considerations. If stopping an atomic bomb meant torturing his father or abandoning a friend, he would do it without thinking. One of the most disturbing parts of the show is that no one's word means anything - promises are quickly forgotten when they no longer align with the nation's "best interests."

Someone once told me that they felt sorry for Jack, and I initially recoiled at the idea. But as I've reflected back on it, I've begun to change my mind. He reminds me of Abraham, asked to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Abraham was asked to make a decision that no man should never have to make, and in the end, just as the knife was to fall, GOD removed the burden from his shoulders and blessed him for his faithfulness and obedience. But for Jack, there is no remission - in every situation he faces, he is forced to choose from two wrong answers, and he dies on the inside. In his world, the ends justify the means, even though it means giving up everything that he has ever known and loved. What good is it to save the whole world, but lose your soul?

In my darkest dreams, I've been faced with the scenario of a masked killer who has forced his way into my home, and is forcing me to choose which of my parents should die. As I wake up in a cold sweat, I realize that that's just not right. It's not fair. But the truth is that in this world, we are faced with these kinds of decisions. This reality speaks deeply of this truth: this world ain't right. The place is not my home - I am a pilgrim, sojourning through a desolate wasteland filled with suffering and brokenness.

24 is a modern tale of brokenness, a story filled with characters struggling with the depths of evil that stretch from the ends of the earth to the depths of our souls. My soul finds hope in this: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." See you soon.
Some bright morning, when this life is over
I'll fly away
To that home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh Glory
I'll fly away, in the morning
When I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

When The shadows of this life have gone
I'll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly
I'll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I'll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away
(Alison Krauss, I'll Fly Away)


I love to write. I love to read. (I'd like to write on this more later.) Occasionally, when I'm thinking really hard about something, I'll end up writing a story. Yesterday I wrote a short story. I thought about posting it here, but I didn't seem right. So I created another blog that hangs off my account, and I put it there instead. It feels like making a whole bookcase for one lonely book, but maybe more stories will come out of me. Sometime. Visit it here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


And He set me on fire, and I am burning alive.
With His breath in my lungs I am coming undone.

And I cannot hold it in and remain composed.
Love's taken over me and so I propose the letting myself go.
I am letting myself go.

You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.

And He set me on fire, and I am burning alive.
With His breath in my lungs I am coming undone.
And I cannot hold it in and remain composed.
Love's taken over me and so I propose the letting myself go.
I am letting myself go.

You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.

I need to catch my breath, I need to.
I need to catch my breath, give me a moment now.

You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.

I'm laughing so hard...
(David Crowder Band, You Are My Joy)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Back to School

School is now in session. I'm back in Davis, and I'm totally excited about what this next quarter holds; papers to write, people to love, truths to discover, and a GOD to serve. I love the feeling of being on the verge of something big, and knowing that there is someone there to be with you, in you, and working through you to accomplish amazing stuff for his Kingdom. Clarity is easy when all the pencils are sharpened, the binders are empty, and the room is clean, but I'll cherish in my heart now these words that someone really smart once said: "Never doubt in darkness what GOD told you in the light."

So with all of my heart, mind and strength.... I'm diving in. See you soon.
"Back to school! Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool! I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight! Ohhhh, back to school..."
(Billy Madison)