Wednesday, May 02, 2007


It's been a really overwhelming time in my life lately. It has been so amazing to be overwhelmed to the point that I haven't got time to think about myself. But yet, most of the time it's been crushing when I do end up getting caught up in myself, and I feel like I just tumbled down a mountain. Then I start to wonder why I was even up in a mountain to begin with. Why in the world don't I learn to stick to the switch-backs and follow the paths everybody seems to be taking and bring along a bunch of friends to keep me from falling down the mountain? In my pride I topple over.

But I find that the mountain is beautiful, and that I'm still glad to climb it. To be prepared to climb it, and taught how to climb it, and to see the path and the nearest peak I need to reach, makes me full of joy and love for God's will. It doesn't make me obedient at all, but it makes me admire and love his ways.

The obedience never comes to me, like the love or the joy. The obedience isn't given at all, because I was created to walk away from the mountain and find a hammock and take a snooze. Sorry for the lame analogies. But it seems like there's no reason to be obedient if life is mine for the taking. Who or what should I obey except what makes me content? That's the wisest advice I can give to anybody. But if you've found that nothing, not even yourself, can help you become content, you really begin to crave the answer

God provides the answer. He doesn't give us obedience, but he provides us with a knowledge of what will make us content. We're left with the decision to obey or not obey.

That's when I hop out of the hammock and start to head towards the mountain. I learn that obeying God gives me even more contentedness than I thought there could be. And then when I see the mountain's beauty, I have to ask him why he's doing this. Why can't he just give me a nicer hammock, or a jug of kool-aid, or anything to make life a little better? He makes me climb this amazing and awesome mountain. So, I have to decide whether or not I want to do this. Stay in the hammock and kick-back, or else put my life in God's hands and risk everything I know.

Obviously I've been climbing long enough to know that it's well worth the risk, and that there are so many ways in which we have been blessed to climb the mountain. But then I'm writing this to say that you should expect that after I get tired, I'm going to want to lay down, and think about when I'm going to head back to the hammock. But it's much harder to come down the mountain safely then it is to climb it. Every time I even start to climb back down, I find that I'm just falling in short bursts. And sometimes those falls let ourselves topple all the way down to the bottom.

So, in short, if you have ever thought about climbing the mountain, you should. But if you're already climbing, you should know that we need to encourage each other, and lift each other up, and hold tight to each other. We need to be true to the real reason we're climbing the mountain: remembering it often, and gathering up only those thoughts which will guide us up and over the mountain.

Yeah, this post needs to be posted, but I hope that God gives me a less confusing way to speak from my heart.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on Patience

It has been a while! Hope you're all doing well.

My work has this Bible study every Thursday during lunch, and I was finally able to make it this past Thursday. The attendance is only about 4 people, but it's still a great group. Sort of a sanctuary within the walls of stress of our building.

At the end of the meeting the lady who organizes it asked what ideas we had for 'next time.' So I suggested the topic of Patience. If anybody is reading this, I'd like to know what you know about Patience, and how God has sculpted or impacted your perspective on Patience. I have my own ideas, but I would love to hear what you all might have to say about it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Boasting bout tommorow

James 4:13-17:
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
Ecclesiastes 4:13-15:
Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning. The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor.
Ecclesiasted 7:18b
The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.

That's my morning paper, waking me up and stretching my heart and correcting my vision. I hope you're all doing well! Tomorrow I leave for inner-city L.A. for a week with a bunch of Jr. Highers. Please pray that God will give us leaders some patience with them, so that the kids will know to have patience with the homeless.

I'm going to especially appreciate this trip because I've recently gotten a promotion at work. I've been thinking, "maybe a new car would be nice, or maybe it's time to get an Xbox 360, or a flat-panel, or maybe some new clothes." Those are basic temptations, but aren't they the most annoying kind? I know a family or two who could benefit from any one of those things. But there's wisdom which speaks about teaching somebody to provide for themselves instead of simply providing for them. So I pray that God will answer my question regarding what to do with my money and my time. Please pray for our group: that God will provide us with what we need while we're down there. This is no easy task except that God will be with us while we're trodding along. When Christian was on his way to the Kingdom of Heaven, did he ever stop to admire the beauty of the land? I pray that we can be motivated and show the beauty and the awesomeness of the path to God, and that we can keep from quarrels and fights and any desire that's within us for worldly comfort.

I pray for perseverance! I miss you AZ folk, and I hope you're all doing well.

Monday, February 27, 2006

How you doin?

Listened to this song from Matisyahu on the radio today. Immediately afterwards heard this story of a lady who's daughter is suffering from a disease which makes the stomach so irritable that it's most of the time impossible to keep down any food. The song was really upbeat and fast and the lyrics included something like, "give yourself up and then you become whole... I come to you from the essence of my being, and I sing to my God this song of love and healing." I was basically using my steering wheel as a snare drum and my shifter as a symbol and I was rocking out, totally pumped after trying to sing along. And then to hear that story about the mother, where she ends the description of what has been done to try and treat the disease, she says, "right now we're just praying for God's will with this disease, wondering why He's given us this challenge." I was staring at the alternative radio station's frequency wondering whether I was believing what I was hearing. And so I decided I would believe it, and then look and find out who this "Matisyahu" was, and see what he stood for, besides what I heard in his lyrics.
Come to find out, he's Jewish; and, come to find out, the radio station who put on the air the mother of the sick daughter was only one station of several which were working to provide donations for the UC Davis medical centers childrens hospital.
I was pretty satisfied to find out both of those things, but still a little bit thrown in my mind trying to come to terms with some things. First of all, I don't know a thing about modern Judaism. There's a lot I can deduce about Judaism from reading the Bible, but I don't really know much at all about Judaism in the world today. How is Matisyahu reacting to the gospel of Jesus and modern Christianity?
So I researched and found this:
"The word "mashiach" does not mean "savior". The notion of an innocent, semi-divine (let alone fully divine) human being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in normal Jewish thought, though it seems to have been invented or adopted by Jewish apostates in the early Church. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word "messiah" that this English word should probably no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept. Thus, we prefer to use the less familiar word "mashiach" throughout this page."

And "mashiach" is also found in the lyrics of Matisyahu, whose name is the ancient Hebrew for Matthew, the singer's first-name.

Anyhow, just some interesting thoughts roused by alternative radio. I've been interested in hearing a lot of "this works for me; what works for you" statements going around, as if to be a member of modern society it's important to know how to answer that statement. The other day a man asked what I was reading, and then, to my amazement, after he recalled that C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, he continues: "I think Santana has this spiritual connection when he plays his guitar. In the way he plays, you can see on his face -- just seems like he's connecting with God. I love seeing how different people connect spiritually." He didn't ask me my opinion afterwards. He just stared off in a direction, using his hand gestures in a circular pattern to depict "the spiritual world". Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts must look so ridiculous like his hands if ever I were to visualize them; the ridiculousness of how the thoughts are moving around.

Real love must seem ridiculous to watch, but it's the real love that wonders how the other person is doing, not how the other person is connecting.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Today driving home from work I saw a lady climbing into a metro-bus, as if she had just got off work. She was sort of heavy-set and her blue uniform had a badge on the side that clearly represented some security outfit. It instantly reminded me of the Union Gospel Mission, which I served at last night. There I had overheard one man in line talking with a pastor about the new job he had just got. Although homeless, and living on the street, he uses the Mission as his postal address and is able to keep his job that way.

And as I recalled last night, I began remembering some of the conversations I got into. Most of them were about how beautiful the weather is right now, or if not that, then it was seeing who needed salt and pepper and punch. The people in line, aside from one particularly sarcastic dude, had come to grab a tray, and each carried with them some of the most unpleasant faces I have ever seen. It was awesome to know beforehand that when I ask "How are you doin today?", that they would, unlike my coworkers, be interested in what I would think of their day. Each one gave this gargantuan smile and knew that I had asked because I cared. The Jr. Highers that we brought followed suit and, before there was a chance to realize it, the place was already happy as could be, and it became totally natural for me to strike up a random conversation with one of them. Each one had a story to tell (true or not true), and each one had their own reason for being optomistic that evening.

So, seeing that lady step into the bus, I imagined how awesome it would be to get to know her story. For what practical reason, I can't know. But from the way she walked and the way her shirt was untucked, I felt that she probably would not turn me down for a conversation: thus my dillema. Rather, my head began to write its own story about her, and I found myself picturing her family tree -- her being out on a limb, and about how she probably does a good job while she's at work. Have you ever felt out on a limb? In my experience, the only way that you stay on the limb is by grabbing other limbs, and depend on others to keep from falling.

Then I thought of how obvious it was that homeless people would make good security guards, because they're experienced adults who would really appreciate the pay of the meager income -- plus they have street smarts. Now I've decided that I had too much coffee this morning.

But all the same, I find it way too easy to live for good feelings. Serving the homeless was effective at cheering up hearts and providing food for hungry stomachs. However important both of those are, the good feeling I get from helping others tends to easily become the reason I continue to do it. In reality, Jesus doesn't ask us to love one another in order to share a cheerful heart: sometimes situations arise when there is nothing at all cheerful to share. Yet even in those moments we are asked (commanded; John 13:34) to love one another.

So I do look forward to the next time we get to serve at Union Gospel Mission, and I'm glad that God blessed our group and the mission with such a cheerful night.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sunday I learned that I'll be going along with the Jr. Highers for a mission trip to inner-city L.A. Sounds weird for some people because they live right in So. Cal., but it's an amazing experience, and you would never imagine how it's possible to reach so many people in one week, unless you've been there. It's an answer to a prayer of mine, and I'm excited for what God has in-store for the trip.. and a little anxious to visit some of the places, now that it's been almost ten years since I went.

Hope things are going well with everybody!

Here's some pictures from Christmas:

Seasons change

(This is from a while ago...)

Thank goodness winter is here. This morning I woke up and found a cheesey lookin shirt to wear, and then threw this nice sweater, which I wore the night before, right on top of it. I felt like one of those russian eggs that are really just plain old eggs on the inside.. but on the outside they're fancy enough to be given kind notice.

Haven't posted in a while because I've been rather occupied with other things. I took a final on Saturday, which I was a bit anxious to get done with. Finishing that class has loosened up my evenings and given me, on the whole, a lot less stress about how this semester will turn out. Usually it's all or nothing for me; and that I finished the class and got a B gives me some hope that the rest of the semester will follow suit.

However, since my last post I've been struggling with my daily focus and walk with Jesus. I had one night where I couldn't get to sleep, and my thoughts were running rivers of concern about all the different things I had going on. That was one of the few nights when I have prayed for a rescue escape from the temptations that were bouncing in my mind. Have any of you seen Braveheart? The part where the bride of Mel Gibson is caught, and is tied up to a stake for execution? The passion in that scene is what came to my mind that night. She never begged to the enemy. The enemy never thought much of her, and didn't really care about her. But why then was the enemy focused on her? She belonged to somebody who cared so much about her that he would risk his life. Jesus risked His life, shared His life, and shed His life, for the sake of any us. Temptations are present for everybody here on earth, but God provided us with a reason to not give into them. Now, at a certain point in the scene, the semblance of the woman at the stake does not work with what I went through that night. I knew that God protected me, and that even if I died that I would be with Him. At the stake, that woman's throat was slit, and the entire movie is put into a motion of revenge afterwards. But God already commited His Son to death, which gave the ultimate hope for all Christians: that it is literally impossible for the enemy to kill us (giving our soul to God keeps it out of reach of the Devil).

So the motion is already in us, and it is in us so that we might not stop when we are tempted. Consistency is a very hard thing if you're oil and water; and it's hard because it's not meant to be that way! Following that night, I have been guilty of slacking off, and forgetting what God did for me that night. Now that I'm back on the path, I'm reminded that "the longest way around is the shortest way home." The only things that keep me on the path are God's love, and the knowledge of His promises. This is such a rambling post, I need to sinch it off. And go grab some dinner. In conclusion, God is, among other things, the Protector of our thoughts and feelings. Our part in it is to keep our thoughts and actions into the motion that His Son started for us.

I hope you're all doing well!