Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Wonderful Time With Family

So, Shannon and I got home late last night after a five hour delay in Dallas, due to a mechanical failure on our first plane. The good news is that we finally made it to Los Angeles, since there was no guarantee that we would do so. The time with my family was a blast. Shannon and I enjoy every moment we get to spend with them, and we had a wonderful Christmas together. This was the first Christmas where my nephew had a small sense of what was going on. It was absolutely wonderful to see him soak it all in, and I felt myself having withdrawals from his laughter and hugs today. I can't wait to see them all again, and I felt wonderfully blessed this week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Where did the Time go

For some reason it seems like these past few weeks have been incredibly busy and tiring. I guess part of that could have to do with the full time work and the half of my IDL I have already done this December. I wish I had some incredibly thoughtful and insightful things to say, but I am running dry. Yesterday, Shannon and I both got some time off, so we spent the day hanging out and setting up our new iMac that just arrived. She really enjoys the computer, and it is fun to see her take control of different programs. I will check in later during the holiday, and I hope you all have a fun and relaxing time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Syriana

So, I saw the movie Syriana this weekend, and I must say that I was not totally impressed. The movie did not offer any kind of new information that I had not already heard or seen, and the plot was completely convoluted. Basically, I lost track of who all the evil, white oil men were. Needless to say, I would hold off seeing it in the theatre, maybe if someone else rents it one night and you have nothing to do. Well, I am in the midst of my Introduction to Islam class, and I am sure I will have some posts reflecting what I am learning. It was interesting having some background before I saw Syriana, and I feel like I am getting a better grasp on the topic. Until then...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Weekend of bachelorhood

Well,

It has been a while since I have had a chance to sit down and put my thoughts on the screen. I have had a pretty busy week, and Shannon left today for a 5 day business trip. I am going to be a bachelor for the weekend, and that makes me very sad. I can't even think of what I might do later tonight, especially since most people I know have finished finals and I sold my Xbox. I hope to get some reading done and to work on a class for the Winter quarter...I know, nothing but excitement. You should check out this link on the Christian Peacemaker team in Iraq...it is a compelling story. There are links to other blogs on the topic, and I think you will be amazed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vegas Baby, Vegas

Well, I got back from an amazing trip to Las Vegas. I am still recovering a bit (too little sleep with too much alcohol). But the weekend was a complete success, since all four of us came back on top. You can't really ask for much more than that. I have found a new favorite game to play (Craps), and I plan on spending much more time with this game when I go again. Shan will be heading out of town this weekend, so I hope to get a lot of homework done and possibly a poker game at my place. We shall see...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Peace keepers in Iraq

Check out this post on the Christian peace keepers who were abducted in Iraq.

World Aids Day

I am so far removed from any real or authentic experience of the pain and suffering people throughout the world are experiencing in the Aids epidemic. Here is a wonderful and thoughtful post from another student here at Fuller.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Letter to the Church in America

Here is my final reflection paper for my Isaiah class...sorry if it bores you.





To my brothers and sisters in the Church of America,

I write to you concerning the book of Isaiah and the words within it that continue to speak to us today. It is hard to imagine with all the chaos, pain, strife, and struggles of today that God still speaks to his Church. But I am here to tell you that God does still speak to all of us today, and it is time for us to stop and listen. The book of Isaiah will be a helpful guide for us today. The book is not comprehensive to all of our experiences, but we can glean life-giving faith and hope from the words of the prophet. We must continue to strive for the work and love that our God calls us to as his church. The book of Isaiah speaks to us in this way, highlighting many characteristics of Yahweh that we have ignored for too long. Let us take up the call from Yahweh, so we will be a light unto the nations, reflecting the love of Yahweh and his son, Jesus Christ!!!

God’s Opening Vision for Israel
Tears and sorrow. This is the picture we find in the opening chapters of Isaiah. Yahweh is upset and disappointed with the people of Israel to the extent that he is surprised about the lack of growth and vitality the vineyard of his church has produced. Israel has become so blinded by their sin and self-destruction that they no longer recognize the One they claim to worship (1:3). God is the divine parent who has been rejected by the ones he loves the most (1:2). We must be weary that this does not happen to us today. What are ways we have disappointed our divine parent? How have we denied our call as the body of Christ, whether through deed or words?
Just like the vision Yahweh had for Israel we are to be quick to offer our repentance and changed lives for the sins and transgressions we have committed. So often we look outward to the “sinners” around us; it is time that we confess to the transgressions of our communities, our families, and our nation. We must continue to strive for leadership and rulers that reflect the characteristics of our God. These decisions will reflect the justice and righteousness that God demands for his people to show towards the poor and oppressed (1:16-17). Yahweh is not interested in the many outward actions and “sacrifices” his people give to him, especially when they continue to be immersed in oppression. We too must examine our doctrines, our ideologies, and our expressions of faith, and ask if God even cares about what we are doing in our congregations. What good is it if we sing thousands of songs and listen to hundreds of sermons, only to deny God with our time, our lives, and our tithing? It is time for us to come to Yahweh in an act of repentance, asking for direction and wisdom for what He deems to be important. May we no longer offer trivial “sacrifices” and acts of worship, while we continue to deny his call to fight for the oppressed and exploited.
Finally, Yahweh offers a vision to Israel that calls for violence and war to cease. Tools of war and violence will be transformed into tools of cultivation (2:4). We can look forward to this vision God has for his people. This is not something we can make happen on our own. It is only a vision that can be completed by the work of God at the redemption of his creation. This does not mean we cannot strive for a world without war and violence, but we must be realistic about the peace we are able to bring about. The world is dominated by sin and transgression, so it is only through the redemptive work of God that we will be able to see his vision come to completion. Let us not lose hope or energy for making this happen, but we must be realistic. Our call is to reflect the love and hope of our Creator, no matter what the cost. May we pick up the vision Yahweh has for Israel, offering ourselves as God’s people to be a light to the rest of the world.

Our Present Reality
The book of Isaiah addresses the people of Israel who lived in the midst of a culture of idols and tensions for allegiance. The other nations all around Israel created different gods and idols to be worshiped. Hostility was not uncommon to the ways of Yahweh and the characteristics of his leadership. What was typically sought after was anything to serve the interest of the nations and their desire for power. We live in the midst of a similar culture, which fights for our allegiance and worship at all times. Just as Israel was blind to the their Creator, we have become blind to the cleansing work of God all around us. The consumer culture we live in demands our worship, our loyalty, and our tithing. We are bombarded everyday with images of greed, lust, pride, and exploitation. Much of these advertisements are done in the guise of feeding our egos, so we will feel a certain brand loyalty to companies and products. The average person in our congregations can expect to come across 16,000 advertisements in a single day. Israel struggled with this similar strain on their allegiance. All around them were gods and idols to lean on, which would only lead to a denial of Yahweh and his work in the world (8:1-9:1). The temptations are real and evident for our congregations to join the consumer advertisers for the allegiance of people all around. How far are we willing to go in this culture of disguised gods and idols? So often we defend our lifestyles with the Capitalistic mantra of America, but God sees through this fa├žade, and he is angry. Yes, our nation offers many wonderful opportunities and chances to reflect God’s glory, but we must be aware of the pull our society places on our lives and our allegiance to Yahweh. Do not be lulled to sleep by the seemingly easy lifestyle the church can have today. The battle is going on all around us, and Yahweh expects and demands our allegiance to his ways. We should be struck with awe and fear as we turn our lives back to the One who called us from the beginning.
In Isaiah 31 Israel put its trust in the surrounding countries for protection and leadership. Egypt seemed like the right country to join forces with. The decision to trust in Egypt probably seemed like the most logical choice. What appears to be some of the most logical decisions can be nothing more than a lack of reliance upon God. Today we tend not to have the same threat of war and suffering (at least on our soil), but we still place our trust in our economy, our homes, and our savings accounts. Our congregations tend to speak to our own personal budgets, using the example of how a person spends their money reflects their true loyalty. I wonder what would happen, my brothers and sisters, if we did the same with our Church budgets and looked at what kind of obedience our church budgets’ reflected. Does our money go to alleviating the needs of those around us, to the poor and the oppressed? Or does our money go to high salaries, air-conditioned sanctuaries, cushy pews, and extravagant sound systems? Have we bought in to this consumer culture so much that we are willing to let it dictate our spending, so we can “advertise” to the numbers around us? Yahweh longs to stand by us and to offer us strength and resilience, but do not be fooled by the false idols we create for ourselves. It is only a matter of time that these idols and allegiances will collapse under the discipline of our powerful God, revealing our true allegiance and faith in the end.

God’s Present Reality
In Isaiah chapter six we see a picture of the magnificence of God’s glory. This should call us to a greater hope in the midst of this culture seeking for our constant attention. However, we must not stop with the opening of this chapter. We tend to stop at the end of the ninth verse, singing of God’s majesty and glory. We miss the call to Isaiah to bring a sobering message to the people of God. Punishment and cleansing is coming, and it is Yahweh who will cause his people to be blind and deaf to the demands he will make (6:10). Yahweh is not afraid to cause his church to stumble. The response of Isaiah in this passage is the example of how we are to respond to God. Isaiah must draw back from God because his glory is too much for him to handle. The reality of Isaiah’s sin is something that keeps him approaching the glory of his Creator. We must have a healthy respect and awe for the Lord we worship, realizing that God is not just our friend , but He is the One who demands obedience and repentance. This is the all-powerful God, who will have no problem bringing punishment and cleansing upon his church when they have turned their ways from the Lord.

Visions of Leadership
Throughout the book of Isaiah, Yahweh shows the people of Israel the types of leadership he looks for in his people and for the future. We can learn from this call of Yahweh to see what we should strive for in our congregations and in this nation. The child ruler described in Isaiah 9 shows the “righteousness and justice” that Yahweh anticipates coming in the future. We live in an age where our rulers and politicians reach their high stature with donations and contributions from companies that expect favors. It is nearly impossible for our rulers and leaders to reflect the exact justice that Yahweh demands for his people and this world. However, this does not mean that our local congregations cannot take responsibility for the world around them. Our local neighborhoods cry out with the poor and the oppressed, and we must heed their call. All too often these characteristics that Yahweh demands are passed off to the 2nd coming of Christ. We think to ourselves, “there is nothing we can do, so let’s just hope Jesus comes soon.” There is nothing wrong with wanting Christ to return today; I would love to see the pain and strife come to an end in this world. However, we must not let our future hope be an excuse to ignore the cries of despair around us. Yahweh is prepared to bring punishment and cleansing to his people who ignore the cries of the oppressed and poor (24:1-25:12). Take notice of the vision of Yahweh, so we might partake in the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. It is our privilege and call as God’s people to take up the cross of discipleship. Things will not be easy, and it is not to be taken lightly, but we have the strength and the hope from the One who created all things. It is only through this Almighty Lord that we will prove to be fruitful and helpful to those all around us. So, let us remember the call of leadership Yahweh longs for: a leadership that fights for those who have no voice, no food, or no hope. Let us be the ones to offer the hope of our God, extending our arms and hands in acts of obedience to our God. Even as we ask God for our daily bread, may we search for ways to be the vessel of another’s daily bread. Lord, help us to be an extension of your hands, embracing your call in the midst of the forgotten and hopeless.

Growth After Pruning
The book of Isaiah speaks of our God bringing punishment and discipline upon the people Israel. This parental discipline is done for the sake of lifting up the faithful remnant of Israel. Yahweh uses the image of cutting down some of the tallest trees so that the plants will be able to spring up again in fruitfulness and shade (10:33-11:10). It is important for us to take a look at the lives we lead in the Western culture. All around us the church appears to be declining in numbers and in influence. In many ways this is seen as a sign that God has left his church. However, this could not be further from the truth. Yahweh may very well be in the midst of pruning his church, so the faithful remnant can stand strong in reflecting the love of Christ in this skeptical land. The church has relied for so long on its influence in the world of politics and morals, yet we see this power slipping on a daily basis. Our secular culture appears to reflect more of the culture the early church dealt with in the 1st and 2nd centuries. It is important for those of us in Seminary or in higher education to not assume that we know all there is about God. Our pride and arrogance may only reflect our lack of trust in our eternal Creator (Isaiah 14).
Although it is hard to see God as one who will discipline his church, we must be ready and willing to accept this discipline. The image of the vine in John 15 provides a highly intimate portrayal of Christ and his disciples. In order to know Christ more, we must abide in the vine, close to the center. To be able to abide in the vine requires our fruit and leaves to be pruned and cut back. This process may be painful at first, but it is only through this pruning that we will experience the abundant life Yahweh promises to his people. Just like a parent who weeps over the loss of a child, Yahweh weeps over his people who have turned their backs on him. It is because of this that we must stay strong and pray that we will continue to be the faithful remnant of God’s people in this culture of America. This does not mean we will make perfect decisions or that we will always get it right. Yahweh still works with his people in the book of Isaiah, even when their passion and certainty leads them to make poor decisions (Hezekiah). Let us welcome the pruning of our lives, our congregations, and our nation. God is faithful and has promised to water us and to take joy in our growth. Let’s stand fast to the call of discipleship, so we may cause our Lord great joy and pride over his children.

God Loves All the Creation
It is all too easy to lose hope in these troubling times. My brothers and sisters, I do not write to you to chastise you or to cause unwarranted guilt. I long for us to look at our lives and to reflect the kind of obedience we need to show towards our Lord. Yahweh has called Israel to be the image of Servanthood for the world around it. This image calls for bringing justice to the ends of the earth (ch.42), to receive a blessing from the Creator (ch.44), and to offer themselves as the suffering servant, bringing about a righteous state for those around them (ch.53). We know that many of these images cannot be fulfilled until the day Christ returns, but it is our call and role of obedience to serve and love Yahweh’s with all we are. We must not be lax or complacent with the comfortable and easy church services we attend. Do not let our rich nation drive us into a mode of apathy and laziness. We have the love of Christ and our Creator to compel us to be better stewards with the blessings we have. May the love that our God has for Creation cause us to live for that same type of love in our daily lives.

Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Canon within the Canon...and a side of Idol

Tonight was one of those nights in my class where I felt a twinge of shame and conviction with the topic at hand. I realized with Dr. Goldingay's discussion that in so much of my faith and beliefs I have focused on one canon within the canon of the bible. Goldingay brought up the trend of nonviolence and peace that seems to be a buzz on our campus. I definitely have Anabaptist roots in my theology, but I need to realize that the call to non-violence and direct action is not the only focus of my faith. I need to deal with the uncomfortable passages of violence, wrath, and judgment, which I tend to disassociate with the call of the Gospel or the God I worship. It is amazing to see that God is a God who chooses to work within a world that has pain, suffering, and war all around it. Finally, it was interesting to hear the other examples of our idols, especially in relation to our set doctrines or worship experiences. We can begin to worship the way we feel or the fuzzy feelings we get at a church service. We place so much emphasis on the experiential aspect of things, that this can be our god in itself. I guess I am saying that I needed the reminder that God is not a doctrine or belief to come to fully know. I must treasure and worship in the midst of the mystery of who God is. Yes, there are some wonderful things I can know about God through the biblical drama as it unfolds in the relationship with Israel. I must bow down humbly to the infinite beauty and wonderful mystery that is our Lord, Amen to that.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wonderful Laughter and Conflicting Feelings


I think that when I reflect on most of the holidays and the time spent with family, the random fits of laughter are the most memorable moments for me. Right before we went up to Rocklin for Thanksgiving, my family came by to visit, and they brought my beautiful nephew, Benjamin. Ben gives me hope for one day having children. He is a breath of fresh air compared to the children in our complex, who run around screaming and unsupervised the majority of the time. It was a complete joy to spend time with him, and to see the rest of the fam.

Thanksgiving was wonderful as always, with way too much food for our needs. I have a hard time sometimes, looking at all the food we eat and prepare on this day, and then thinking of the millions of people out there who do not have food to eat on a daily basis. The very thoughts can sometimes be overwhelming to the point of feeling inadequate and powerless to all the world's problems and pains. This brings me back to some of the discussions I have had with classes on the amount of news and tragedy we hear about on a daily basis. I think there is only so much our minds can handle, and when we continue to be bombarded with images of pain and oppression, we are sometimes forced into apathy and non-action.

The weather here has been rainy and windy, a nice change from the 80 degree days in Pasadena. Tonight I will be joining Shan and her parents at a wedding for an old highschool friend. Basically, I will be on display, and I will need to answer tons of questions from people I don't know. I am happy to go and be with Shan and her fam, but the idea of answering tons of questions leaves me tired already.

I haven't been to vocal about the Buy Nothing Day, but it has been hard a few times. I just don't think people even blink an eye at the amount of money we spend on a day like today, especially on crap we have been told we need by companies and their advertising. But it really is a way of life that needs to shift, and I am definitely not there yet. So, who am I to judge? I am no one, and I can only control what I do and how I live. So, maybe today will be a buy nothing day in conjunction with judge no one day. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving but no Lament

So, I wanted to wait until I had a chance to send this comment to my church before I posted it here. Our thanksgiving service was amazing with encouragement and conviction to live a life saturated with thanksgiving and not entitlement. However, in the middle of the worship there was a skit about two women who had gone through difficult times that year. Each had lost a job, lost their father, and broke up with a boyfriend. One was still able to see God throughout the entire process, offering thanks no matter what. The other one was still angry, frustrated, and saw nothing to be thankful for. The part that concerns me is the way the church answered the one who was still angry. Inbetween her rant and raves, we would sing another verse, sugar coating the whole thing. She left without ever being addressed or heard. I am sad that people in that service might think her feelings and responses were invalid. We honored the one who could give thanks no matter what, but we ignored the validity of the one who was going through lament and pain. Neither response is better than the other, and they are just as appropriate within the body of Christ. We didn't offer to weep with the woman, we just sang songs to her. Basically, this highlighted what I find most frustrating about church sometimes...the fact that we do thanksgiving really well, but we don't handle grief or lament at all. I understand that there is only so much we can do in a large worship setting, but we can at least model and encourage proper lament. Hopefully, there would be a smaller group of people in this woman's life who could just sit and listen to her. I just hope no one left that service, who was in pain, thinking that their feelings or questions were not valued. I look forward to seeing the response I get from staff.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Doo Dah Parade

Well,two years ago, Shannon and I happened to come across the Doo Dah Parade by accident. Luckily, we remembered when it was happening this year, so we were able to be there at the beginning of the parade. Check out some of the photos here, and prepare to be confused.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cultivating Thanksgiving

Our pastor spoke on the story of the lepers in Luke 17 this weekend, highlighting the response of the one leper who came back to offer thanks to Jesus for being healed. It has me thinking about the many blessings and gifts in my life that I take for granted each and every day, leading to a sense of entitlement or expectation. I don't think twice about the water I use, the energy we have, the money we make, or the books I get to read. I long to be a disciple of thanksgiving, who in the words of my pastor, learns to give thanks for the imperfect gifts we received, because they will always be imperfect.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Tension of Grace

The idea of God's grace has been on my mind since the start of this educational journey at Fuller. I am always struck by the tension of God's grace and the demands of that same grace when we come to know God. We are saved by nothing we do, but God's grace and call places demands on our lives to live for the sake of the kingdom of God. This is obviously the abundant life that Christ promised to us. I was struck tonight in class by the universal expression of God's love in Isaiah 56. Here we see God call back the eunuchs and the outcasts who lived for him and followed his ways. He opened his arms wide open to welcome them into the people of God. First, I thought of who might the Eunuchs be today that the church keeps at a distance: the homosexual? the homeless? the gothic? the eccentric? those who don't quite fit in? I don't have a specific idea of who these contemporary eunuchs are. However, I do know that when Christ separates the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25, those that knew Jesus didn't even know they were feeding him, clothing him, or visiting him. This passage seems to dash to pieces the contemporary idea that one must pray a certain prayer, know a certain doctrine, or look a certain way. It is because of this passage that I am no longer comfortable saying that a person is saved by the faith they proclaim to have in Christ. I am only comfortable to say that if anyone is ever to be restored and redeemed, it will be through the saving work of our God, Jesus Christ, on the cross.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Long Day

Today has been an exceptionally long day. We are dealing with registration this week, and with those who put things off to the last minute. Needless to say, I am completely exhausted. It doesn't help that I feel as if my body is fighting off a nasty cold. I have that achy, weak feeling. I am hoping it is nothing more than the Santa Ana winds, combined with allergies, and with stress/lack of sleep. Let's hope that a long night of sleep will prove transformational. The thanksgiving holiday looks better and better as I look forward to some time away and a chance to relax. Of course, I will probably be doing some sort of homework that weekend, although it might be nice to vow a no homework weekend when we go away. The only way I could make that happen is if I feel well enough to work on my other paper this weekend. On a positive note, I am in the middle/end of a fantastic novel. Walter Kirn's, "Thumbsucker", has been a witty novel about a 1980's teenager who works through a distant family, oral fixations, and his own ritalin addiction. It is well written, and I already picked up another one of his books. Wess and I are in the process of designing a blog for business that practice ethical standards and work environments. But since Wess is probably the only one who reads this blog, I said this for no reason. Oh well, I hope to have some more insightful reflections later in the week. Right now I am just enjoying Green Day's "American Idiot" album; it rocks.

Friday, November 11, 2005

True Offerings

I just finished reading Isaiah 58 for my class on Wednesday, and I am struck by the similarities of Israel and our modern churches. The prophet is called upon to make known the transgressions of the people. So, Yahweh brings it right to the people, revealing the hypocrisy of their offerings (Sabbath/fasting) in relation to the way they treat the oppressed and the poor around them. In the end God calls for the true "fasting" that he longs for...to end the oppression, to break the yokes of bondage, and to share the bread with the hungry. I have been thinking of the discussion I had with Wess Daniels earlier, regarding the Communion table and how it was modeled for us in Christ. I truly want to find a way to share a common table with my neighbors, my family, my friends, the homeless, the stranger, and the outcast. I am wondering how that is possible in a world where I work full time, study in school, and typically come home exhausted. I am not making excuses, but I am looking for encouraging dialogue and for people to potentially express interest in doing the same thing. As of now, all I can do is pray for Abba to make this a possibility in the lives of those around me. I love the way God calls us to live a life that is beyond ourselves, to pick up our crosses and to follow him. If this life was about me, I would be utterly disappointed.

Confessions

Here is a Confession from a Wal-Mart executive. It is compelling and chilling to see the kinds of business practices involved. Also, throghout the interview he does not look at the camera...shame seems to permeate the confession.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wal-Mart The Documentary

Well, I have been looking for this film for a while, and then I realized it is a grassroots, straight to DVD project. Check out the film details here. If you are interested in going to the Fuller Screening, click here.

Ethics of Every Day Life

I am always amazed at the way we can compartmentalize our ethics of Jesus into only certain areas of our lives. I am sure I am guilty of acting loving in some situations instead of others, but if there is anything that working at Seminary has taught me, it is that there are many Christians who do not reflect Christ in their dealings with the departments and administration here at the Seminary. It is frustrating and sad to see how some have separated the way they act on a day to day basis from their discipleship with Christ. I hope this will spur me to embody the Gospel in a fuller and more meaningful way. I can already think of one way I blew it recently, and I need to ask for forgiveness. May God continue to meet us with patience and love as we live out this muddy life of discipleship.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Shop With a Conscience

I got this link from Wess Daniels Blog. Check it out concerning no-sweat shop shopping.

8th Grade Math

I was a little worried at some parts, but I did it.




You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Monday, November 07, 2005

My Sister's Passion

I had a brief opportunity to speak with my sister last night about her passion for the Homeless in Los Angeles. Right now she is working for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition. Part of her job is to create awareness concerning the homeless population in Los Angeles. I have never seen her so passionate about work she is doing, and I have never been so proud. Please check out the link above.

Vesper Service

Last night I had the honor of attending a Vesper service at my parents church. The service was led by a 24 piece orchestra, which brought us through Psalm 42 in worship and prayer. After the 42nd Psalm was finished, the Minister of the church read the names of family members who had passed on during this church calendar. It was remarkable to hear each chime of the organ with each name called. I love the fact that this church had a service to remember those who had passed away this year. All too often I find that our Churches don't offer time for Lament and Grief. The church I attend does praise and worship very well, but I always wonder if the person next to me is being represented with our "joyous" songs. It is extremely healthy for our church to laugh together and to cry together. I am thankful this church offers the chance to cry.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Reflection of Ugliness

Tonight I went for a walk down to the Rose Bowl, and during this walk I came across some ugly parts of myself that I was not proud to see. On the way back from the bottom of the hill, I took a different route down a particularly dark street. At this point I was thinking to myself, "man you are dumb, this street is not safe to be on". Well as I was walking, something moved in the leaves, probably just a squirrel or a branch falling from a tree. But my paranoid self came crying out as I let go a yelp and ran like a crazy man. By the time I reached the top of the street to the safety of street lights, I was laughing at how stupid I looked and how fast my heart was beating. So far, so good. But further down the walk I went to cross in front of the 210 entrance. I pushed the button for the crosswalk, but it didn't register, so I had to push it again when the light went green. This caused a large truck with two high school guys to come to an abrupt halt when I entered the cross walk. They blinked their lights at me, and when I passed the car, they appeared to be saying something. Well, they revved the engine and said something, and I found myself yelling an expletive at them. Before the words had even left my mouth, I was overcome with shame. I could not believe how unlike myself the phrase sounded, and the fact that it came out of me so easily. I continued on, shaking my head and asking God to forgive my easily angered heart. Finally, I was on the home stretch of coming home when a local transient stepped behind me. I found my heart racing just like it did with the squirrel. In fact, my whole body tensed up, and I even began to clench my fists in a defensive manner. What the hell is wrong with me. It was then that I realized so much of my person is filled with irrational fear and anger. I am ashamed at the way I have failed to take on the likeness of Christ in my every day life. I am saddened by how easily I let anger and frustration rage inside of me, even while I speak out about peaceful resistance and actions. The funny thing is that I spent the better part of the walk listening to Democracy Now on the radio. The coverage was on the Celebration of Rosa Parks' life, and here I was resisting the very things I had heard. I guess I am just surprised at my own fallen state. I do have hope in the One who is beyond any repulsive act I can commit. But now I am painfully aware of how far I am away from living a life that truly reflects the love of Christ. It is in this reflection of ugliness that I see the glimmer of hope Christ offers to a broken person like me. Thank God for reflection and repentance. Now I must actually do something about it. Just don't drop any squirrels out of the sky next to me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hope for the Democrats

Well, I have discovered a new hope for the Democrats out there. By the way, if you are easily offended, don't click on the link. I on the other hand found it freaking hilarious.

Good and the Bad

So, I truly have come to love the city of Pasadena. I love the fact that it is a city close to LA, but still far enough away from the city to still have its own city charm. I feel truly blessed that I am able to walk all over this city, not relying on any type of car. Yet, in the midst of this beautiful city is congestion and traffic. I went for a 3 mile walk tonight around town, heading out to Old Town, and it struck me how unfriendly our cities are towards pedestrians. On a Thursday night Union St. was still swamped with cars, and you would think I had killed someone's firstborn when I crossed the street, holding up traffic for those turning right on to Fair Oaks or Los Robles. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of toxins I was inhaling as I hurried along listening to my ipod. I am sure it is close to the equivalent of smoking a few cigarettes. Oh well, what am I to do?

The Culture of Fear

In times of War, there are plenty of questions that need to be asked; most of us suspect, correctly, that fruitlessly paranoid questions about errant backpacks and idling vans shouldn't be among these. What we really want to know are the reasons why all of this is happening. Why there seem to be more and more suicide bombers with each passing day. Why they target the people that they do. But our leaders condemn reasons as excuses, and dismiss our desire to understand as a desire to justify evil. And so we are left thinking about shady strangers in bulky jackets, snaking their way through the crowd, toward the trains.
The roots of terrorism run very deep, deeper than many would care to accept. And there are people in this world who have worked hard to obscure them. Yet if we are fearless enough to dig down, down trhough the muddiest and darkest parts of our history, we should still be able to uncover them. What we find, however, may implicate everyone in ways we never expected. The question then becomes whether or not we are prepared to take on the responsibility.


Taken from Adbusters Magaizine...Nov/Dec 2005 #62 Vol. 13 Number 6

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Wonder of Being a Servant

I must admit that the Isaiah class continues to surprise me in new ways, and I am convinced that my lack of enthusiasm in the class has been my lack of energy. Tonight, God spoke through in the midst of my exhausted state. I am in awe of the call to servant-hood God has on our lives. Not only are we to be obedient, we are to sacrifice our very natures for the sake of God's kingdom and love for this world. As I have said before, I am far too quick to assume I am the one who has it all right, while others need to change. That could not be further from the truth. Yet, in the midst of this servant call from God is a commitment from God to us. For us to be the servants of the Creator, he must commit to us, promising to be faithful and supportive within that call. Now, this call is not meant for our sake, but for the sake of others. God has chosen us, not for our own individual salvation (whatever that means anyways), but he has chosen us so that others might experience the light and love of Christ. This call to servant-hood is far beyond me. And thank God for that.

Too Quick to Criticize

I am noticing that in my life I am too quick to criticize or judge other opinions or actions of people. Most of the time this has to do with some sort of governmental decision or some sort of news on television. Basically, I really know what I don't like about others and where I might disagree with them. I am tired of that crap. I need to spend more time looking at areas in my life where I know I need to change, and I need to change them. I hope this day and the days to come will be spent with more internal reflection and transformation, rather than outer complaining and observations.

Quick Reflection

I just had a great appointment with a student where I was reminded of the need for laughter and goofiness in life. Sometimes I take myself way too seriously. I hope I can continue to start each day by looking in the mirror and laughing. At least I have then started the day with a good laugh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tired But still kicking

Well, it is the 6th week of the quarter, and I am beginning to feel the effects of working full time while taking a class at school. I don't know if it is the content of the class, or if I am completely wiped out by the time I get there, but the class is not as engaging as much as I would like it. Shan and I just had a wonderful weekend with her family, and we were able to spend some quality time with her parents. I always love having them around, so I can't wait to see them for Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to the end of this quarter and a chance to have some breathing room. Of course, I will dive right into another class, so there won't be too much breathing, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel bad for Shan because she is dealing with a cold now. I need to avoid getting the cold as much as I can. But I still need to be able to take care of her. Interviews continue tomorrow, and I really hope we find a good fit. It has been a trying time to do interviews, and we truly need someone to handle the extra workload. Well, it is about time I went and did some more reading. More to come later. Oh by the way. The Isaiah class has resonated very well with me as I see the cultural similarities with the Isaiah context and today. We are a society filled with idols and false securities. How can the church possibly combat the culture it is so deeply immersed in? Thank God he is all powerful. By the way, is anyone else tired of these Christians on the Amazing Race. If I hear "Dear God, help us to beat these people" one more time, I will scream. Oye!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Seemingly Perfect Weekend

So, everything started out as a wonderful weekend. Friday night was full of fun, food and pool volleyball. We had the chance to spend time with friends, playing games and loving every minute of it. Saturday included work, homework, cleaning, and more volleyball. And then we went up to Santa Barbara and spent time with some close friends. It was wonderful. So, we end up at home and for some reason I take a moment out of the day to make a stupid choice and a horrible reaction to a situation, tainting the entire weekend. It is amazing to see how a stupid response can change some wonderful weekend. But, the potentially beautiful thing is the wondrous things repentance and apologies can do. I hope that my choices will not ruin the friendship with this beautiful person, and I can only hope this will not be a hinderance to everyone who was around at the time. This is, in face, my prayer. Well, I look forward to a new class, and I hope and pray that God will use it to further form and mold my mindset and ideas of ministry. Till the next time,

Kev

Friday, July 22, 2005

Starting Again

So, I think I will give this blogging thing one more try. I know the need for me to put down my thoughts every day, and I hope this will prove to be a useful way for me to journal to the world. I am finishing up another quarter at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, and I am still a nit nervous in terms of where I am headed vocationally. Thankfully, Shannon has been able to find a job she loves down here, so we will definitely stick around in the area. I want to honor her new job and the desire she has to keep working there, hence I will look around when I am done.
Pasadena has been extremely good to us, and we have loved the friendships and couples we have met at church and our apartment complex. I know these are friendships we will need to keep in the future, which is something I am notoriously horrible at doing. It will be a real commitment on my part to maintain and continue to develop the wonderful relationships we have had with people in this area.

I hope we can continue to enjoy and cherish Pasadena throughout the time we are here. Well, thats it, I know its a lame post, but at least it is a start.

Kev