Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 40: So why does Christ's death matter?

So why does Christ’s death matter? He says he is to draw peple to the Father, to reconcile people to them. I have heard that every act of disobedience (sin) has a cost or consequence. Jesus pays this price apparently. He’s like the jackpot sacrifice paying the price for all. There are songs sung at church about how he we’re forgiven because he was forsaken. That song bugs me actually. It feels cheap and shallow. We see God forgive people in the Old Testament independent of Jesus’ sacrifice. Asking for it and repenting, seem to be the key for receiving forgiveness from God. God himself even gets tired of the whole sacrifice system, where people were using animal slaughtering spectacles to clear their conscience of their wrong, all the while not changing how they lived. As Jesus points out, mercy, not sacrifice, is desired.

But reconciling is a two way thing. I don’t know how much God needed Christ’s sacrifice so he could draw close to us, so he could love us. Maybe it was something he needed to do to help us draw near to him. One catalyst for reconciliation is to know the other side wants to be reconciled. When a relationship with another is strained and you learn that the other wants to restore it, if bitterness and anger have not completely consumed your heart, then this knowledge can move the other to desire the same. Christ coming to earth was carrying a cross from day 1. He was putting restrictions and burdens on himself (i.e. heaviness – like a big wooden cross). He was sacrificing his place of glory for one of an incredible affliction. In doing this, he demonstrated his desire to reconcile with creation that had gone astray. He was putting the issue on the table that God wants to be reconciled to us. We now get to choose if we want it.

But when you decide you want God but know that you have faults, it’s easy to get trapped wondering, fretting, if you have done enough. This has plagued humanity for so long. Rob Bell came to Seattle fairly recently talking about how the gods aren’t angry. He shared some of the ways that people throughout history have attempted to appease the gods, everything from child sacrifice to castration to orgies. In this sense, Christ is the jackpot. We don’t need to worry whether more sacrifice needs to occur for us to be ok with God. We can instead move to what he was desiring from the beginning and what he created us for: relationship. Relationship is surrendering of one’s self to another. That is what is being asked of us now.

I suppose it’s important to accept though that there is a created order to the world, where bad choices have consequences for the one who has done bad. It would be neglecting god’s nature to forget this. It would also neglect God’s nature though to forget about love, love that seeks unity and wholeness (reconciliation). Love is deeper than consequences. As C.S. Lewis said, there is a deeper magic than the usual cause and effect of our actions. This deeper magic says that one can be set free from their wrong, if one who has done no wrong, pays the price for the wrong. Even more, that one who has done no wrong, will also be vindicated despite willfully taking on the wrong of others. This vindication is resurrection. Where death was expected to conquer, life does instead. This is Easter.

I’m praying for a very meaningful Easter tomorrow, to let these truths sink in, to rejoice in the reconciliation set before me, to celebrate the life that is mine in Christ. If this entry doesn’t make sense, or you have questions, please let me know. I would love to talk!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 39: Rumblings of Submission

When Judas and the mob come to arrest Jesus in the garden, Jesus goes out and meets them and asks, "Who is it that you want?" When they reply, "Jesus of Nazareth," Jesus says, "I am he." As soon as Jesus utters these three words, the mob steps back and falls to the ground (see John 18:2-4). There's no explanation as to why Jesus' words had this effect on them. It seems to me that it's a rumbling of submission. It's like when we put on a backpack on and shuffle our shoulders to settle in the burden that we've taken on. It's like the long exhale we make when entering into a situation or conversation we aren't thrilled about. Jesus was surrendering, and there was a shudder of power that went out from him as he consciously let go of that power. Surrender may have an adjustment period, but all that matters, as with Christ, is that surrender actually happens.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 38: Betrayal

So tonight was the night Jesus was betrayed. Ugh... What a miserable night that must have been. As much I'd hate to admit it, I'm convinced I would have deserted Christ as well. I see no reason why I would be more apt to stick with Jesus as things are falling apart than the twelve. I've never had it anywhere close as bad as he had. Just imagine being God and being abandoned by those you have loved, and to have your fate decided by the very beings you created. When things don't make logical sense, you know love is involved.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 37: Overwhelmed

I feel very overwhelmed. It's affecting my ability to focus on your for Easter. I'm trusting you to get us through this. I'm trusting you to provide unity for the hard work ahead. You're the way and the gate. I trust you to get me me on you and through you. I surrender; please take the reigns.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 36: A Hard Teaching

"This is a hard teaching..." This was the feeling of many of your disciples when you stared declaring you're the bread of life in John 6. I'd have to agree. You say, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." This confuses people as they begin to argue, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" It's really a good and legitimate question. Instead of answering the question directly, you only up the ante by saying, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Huh. So this wasn't exactly helpful Jesus. People are wondering what you mean by eating your flesh. They want to live forever, and they're believing you're the gateway, but they aren't understanding how to eat you. Saying, "my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink" isn't immediately helpful either. What do you mean by real food and real drink? Last I checked, I couldn't pick up at the grocery story. I can't even get it in the forsaken farm lands of Pullman.

Food and drink are consumable. I need to take you in. I need to get you inside of me. Eating food is usually very easy for me. But this is a different kind of eating. I'm not trained in eating people's flesh and blood, especially someone who has died, but that's right, you're alive! So you say I can eat you. You say I need to. I still don't know how this works. I trust that you will make this happen. Make the words from your life be like my daily peanut butter sandwich. Let your words settle in the heart of my belly. Find your flesh and blood in array of stomach acid and bile.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 35: Do you want to be made well?

Getting into work usually entails riding a 79 bus and then hoping on one of inter-office shuttles to the Beacon Hill office. This morning, for the first time that I can remember, someone was waiting out front of the shuttles asking for money. She was probably in her late teens. She had short bleached hair, but it had looked like the streets had tarnished her youthfulness. Her request was small, “do you have a quarter?” Most everyone loading onto the shuttles walked past her. As I carry socks in my backpack, I asked her if she needed any. She said no, and that she wanted to her money. At this, I kind of shrugged my shoulders, gave her an “ok, well…” look, said good bye, and proceeded on the shuttle. A friend said, “she didn’t take your socks? She can’t by crack cocaine with socks…”

I was disappointed how I handled the whole situation. Sure, it’s good that I didn’t blow by her, but I can’t say I loved her. I know my response wasn’t how Jesus would have responded. I was even just reading the story of Jesus healing at the pool in Jerusalem in John 5. I love this story. Jesus intentionally goes to the area where the blind, lame, and paralyzed are hanging out on his way into the city. The city surely had other entrances. He didn’t have to choose this one if he wanted to avoid the sickness and filth that were surely present. A man who has been invalid for 38 years catches Jesus’ attention. He learns from some other fountain-camp local that the man has been suffering a long time. As a result, Jesus asks the question: “do you want to get well?” This is such a dignifying and practical question to ask. We’ve all heard that someone can only be helped if they want to be helped. Jesus makes sure this baseline is met. But it also shows his focus on actually getting the man well. It’s not a conscious appeasing question. It’s not a question that keeps the man in the same rut he’s been in for the last 38 years. Do you want to get well? Practical, loving, helpful.

So I wonder what would have happened if I had asked this woman if she wanted to be made well. She may have laughed at me for supposing that she needed to made well to begin with or that I could even do anything to help. Maybe she would have given an honest no. Maybe she would have said yes. At that point, we would have had to figure out what that looked like. It would have challenged me as I’ve never made someone well. It would have been a challenge worth taking on though. The same Spirit that lived within Christ, lives within me, and according to John the Baptist, “God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34). Today that same Spirit didn’t seem alive in my encounter, but I’m sure I’ll get another shot. I hope that the Bible studying, praying, and reflecting actually make an impact, that I will actually do better.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 34: Good

A month or so ago, when driving home, Kara expressed her feeling that I was a good person. I know she was expressing her appreciation of me, but I didn’t know how to take it. Jesus’ words quickly came to mind: “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). I may do some good things, but I don’t think that makes me good. I also think and do things that aren’t good. I relate to the struggle Paul describes in Romans 7.

I decided to look at all the cases “good” is used in Scripture. Given how generic of a word it is, it may not be surprising that it shows up frequently. You can see the 566 occurrences here. While reading through these verses, a made a list of all the nouns that “good” was used as an adjective to describe. Here it is:
  • Light,
  • Land,
  • Animals
  • Items
  • Tree
  • Field
  • Pasture
  • Stones
  • Things of the land
  • Actions/deeds
  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Decrees/commands
  • Promises
  • Age
  • Fruit
  • Reports
  • News
  • Outcomes
  • Way/Path
  • Plunder
  • Health 
  • Judgment
  • Advice
  • Plans
  • Signs
  • Prophecy
  • Understanding
  • Favor
  • Work
  • Wisdom
  • Gifts
  • Eyes
  • Servants
  • Soldiers
  • Ministers
  • Race (competition)
  • Fight
  • Conscience
  • Reputation
  • Investments
  • Behavior
  • God’s will
  • God’s name
  • God
  • The Spirit 
  • People

I was surprised by how the word is used. It’s expected that many physical things would be described as good in Scripture given how Genesis 1 starts. It did stand out to me though that people should do good. This shows up continually. Actions of people are given the label of good. People are exhorted to do good. People are told to cling to good. People are told to seek the good of others, not their own. People are instructed that good comes from the inside. Jesus’ statement that no one is good alone holds up. People are described as good only a couple of times (2 Samuel 18:27, Luke 23:50, Acts 11:24), and this description only comes from other people. The times where God speaks of someone’s good (1 Kings 14:13, 2 Chronicles 19:3), he talks about the good that exists within them, but not a blanket statement that they are good.

In terms of what it means to do good, I didn’t see any occurrence where “to love” couldn’t be used instead. Specifics on what it means to love can be gleaned from the law/commandments and the life of Christ.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 33: The Joy of Second Chances

One of Kara’s classes is to put on three short Spanish plays. Kara is doing all the music and sound effects, and last night was the dress rehearsal. In a critical part of the play with timpani rolls, canon shots, horse gallops, and sword clashes, she had a bit of a screw up. With the limited technology before her, switching all the sounds with fades and at the right time is not trivial. She came home quite disappointed with how it went. I could tell it was replaying in her mind. After relaying the series of events to me, she started thinking about how it could be done more easily so there was less margin for error. She knew she had another chance, and she wanted to take full advantage of it. Running the risk of same screw up for a “real” performance of the play would have been unacceptable. Kara’s hard work in preparing paid off though, and she was a much happier camper tonight when I picked her up. As she shared and felt: practice makes perfect.

This is so true in daily lives. How important it is to get another chance, especially after screwing up. Dignity is built when we fail at first but succeed later. Dignity is stolen when we fail once and never get a chance again. Imagine what it would it would have been like for Peter when Christ has his one on one with Peter if Christ didn’t give him a chance to affirm his love for Christ and if Christ had withheld the commission to “feed my sheep”.

I’m very thankful for the second chances I get in marriage. I hope that I will recall the mental notes I make to be encouraging, to offer my shoulder and not a lecture, to understand and not to solve. I see these second chances pay off. I am getting better as husband, but I admittedly have a long way to go. Tomorrow (Saturday) is a second chance for me, as I have been doing a poor job on Saturdays of living with God. I tend to get up ambitious to get as many personal things done as possible (e.g. finances, cleaning,, yard work, email, etc.). Time with God to study/pray and serving hardly enter the agenda. Tomorrow is another try to do better. I’m poised; I’m going to!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 32: Software licenses and the Kingdom

I’ve been working on some additions for the JavaScript library Ext. Someone on the forums asked me what license they were being offered under. I’ve heard of a lot of the software licenses, but I didn’t know what they all meant, so I took time read about them and gain some understanding. The umbrella of “open source” software entails a lot of things. Some licenses are viral in the sense that anything that uses them must also be made open (i.e. free of charge and source code disclosed). Others are less viral in that only additional code that is derived from the open source code must be open source. Linking to the open source code is fine, which means someone can still make a commercial product utilizing the open source code. And some licenses basically make the code part of the public domain meaning one can do whatever he or she wants with it.

One of these extensions has been done with great help and starting base of someone else online. In asking him about what type of license he’d like to see on our joint effort, he said, “I want to make sure anyone can use my extensions without any restrictions”. I really appreciated his attitude. He wasn’t doing this to make money, but rather to pass on what has benefited him.

I started thinking about software licenses and the Kingdom. I don’t think the Kingdom is meant to be like the public domain licenses that allow someone to do whatever they choose. You can’t just do whatever you want to the Kingdom. While it’s made freely available to any who would choose it, there are conditions (a license so to speak) if you begin to enter (utilize) it. Jesus has some relevant words on the license: (Luke 14:28-33)

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Like any wise individual or company in the software world does (especially those with lawyers!), we’re to consider the terms. There’s requirements of us if we’re to become part of this Kingdom. Jesus spells some of them out for us before we enter the gate, so we can own the decision. It’s hard to feel ownership if someone tricks you. If we accept the terms, we have to effectively “open” ourselves, like the “viral” licenses discussed above. Our source code (life) needs to be visible for all to see, and we have to be open to being used by any and all. By doing so, we have the potential of other people joining us in this open movement. In this way, the mustard seed really grows and “becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches” (Matthew 13:32).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 31: Persevering past "mental obsession"

Kara is almost done with school and work, and the combination of the two hasn’t been easy. Since starting to work while being a student, she comes home much more tired than before. Kara doesn’t have to work for us to pay our room and board, so I’ve been very impressed with the way she has persevered and worked hard on her own accord. In talking about it with her, she knows without a doubt that she has had God’s help. She doesn’t know how she would get through it otherwise.

Kara’s perseverance is a good reminder for me as I struggle to persevere mentally. I am currently “mentally obsessed’ with a project I’m working on at work. I struggle to get it out of my head. I keep saying in my head, “I just can’t stop thinking about this.” When being honest with myself though, I realize that what I can’t stop thinking about is something that I want to think about. Isn’t it great how my mind gets tricked into thinking that not doing something it wants to do can’t be done?

That’s where perseverance has to come in. Although I want to think about technology, it’s not good for my soul or the Kingdom to continually do. At the end of life, the lines of code making a web page look a little prettier aren’t going to mean much, especially if they choked off my heart from the needs of people and desires of God.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 30: Jail

I’m falling asleep while thinking and writing about this, so this will be brief. I have a friend who has been in jail for the last few months. I recently received a letter from as to how he’s doing. He talked about having lots of time to think and read. He’s almost made it through the Bible. I got a little envious. I would not want to be in jail, but the idea of having hours upon end to pray, read, and think just sounds wonderful. And it’s true that jail has shaped many people in our history, both Biblical and other. There’s Joseph, John, Peter, and Paul. Even Jesus spent a night in the slammer. More recently, there’s been Dietrich Bonheoffer, Martin Luther, and Nelson Mandela. None of them chose or desired to be there, but it’s clear that God used their jail time for his purposes.

I spent some time reading about jail before my eye's got heavy.  Here a couple of interesting links:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 29: Welfare Drug

I have a friend with a troubled past. He calls most every day to check in. Last week, he made a particularly surprising request: “because my welfare is getting re-instated and I have some back check, would you mind holding onto some of them so I don’t blow it all?” He knew his spending habbits, the way it could go up in an hour after visitng the crack dealer. He knew that people preyed on him when he had money, that they suddenly were his best friend. He knew those friendlships lasted only as long as the money lasted. He wanted me to hold on to it to keep him accountable to only spending it on his needs, not his wants. I was impressed with prudence of his suggestion.

He called me today before he went to pick up the checks. We arranged to meet at my bus stop at 5:20 to hand off the funds. Then he started talking about wanting a cell phone. I tried to quickly to dispel that notion, identifying it as a nice to have, but not a need. He agreed. I thought we were good. I got to the bus stop at 5:20, and at 5:45 he still hadn’t showed up. A little later while cooking dinner, I get a call from a 206 number. Sure enough, it’s my friend. He discussed how things got hectic activating his phone, and how he’d take out family (i.e. friends) to Old Country Buffet and paying for a motel room for a week. By this point in his story, I was feeling disappointed. The idea of restraining spending to get himself stabilized in and out of detox wasn’t looking like a reality.

While thinking about the whole incident later that night while grocery shopping, I realized my friend isn’t really to blame. Relative to my friend, I think he did quite well with his temporary fortune. He did use some of it for a phone, which is his primary way of serving and blessing others. I’m more struck by our government and culture that shells money out like this on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Welfare doesn’t inspire anyone. It doesn’t stir up aspirations. It’s more of a cheap condolence from the system: “we can’t get you any housing, but you will get some money at the end of the month…” Maybe it’s a conscience clearer for human services. It’s without a doubt that my friend would need a very special environment to succeed in contributing to society again. I just wish he had that environment and wasn’t forced to cope by taking the welfare drug. I’m embarrassed that I’m not creating that environment for him and others.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 28: Crappy Rester

I didn’t write my Saturday blog entry yesterday because I was at work, then watched the Huskies vs. Cougars basketball game with Kara, and finally needed to work late in to the evening to be ready for our team’s demo on Monday. Today, even though I wasn’t doing work for Amazon, I still found myself with a task list. While I’m more free on Sundays, I still work. I’m just doing the other tasks that I don’t get to during week do to work like reading newsletters, writing to sponsor kids, investigating government issue, calling people, fixing things, cleaning. I already knew this, but it was made clear to me today that I’m a crappy rester. I don’t know how to not do anything. I have to do something. Reading is restful for me, so is being outdoors. I could hardly get myself to do much of either of these things. I feel pathetic.

Jesus once said to a group of accusers: “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). The Sabbath is a gift for us. I often times don’t feel that way. I think I often times deny this gift. How foolish. And there is a good reminder in this passage for those who are good at resting: Christ is still at the helm, even in the day of rest. The Sabbath isn’t an excuse to avoid the needs God brings before us. Maybe instead, the Sabbath provides a legitimate excuse not to actively seek them out.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 27: To Forgive Is To Love

Finished watching Into the Wild. Aside from some random nudity that felt like was thrown in to “spice” things up, it was well done. There’s a great scene where the main character who forsakes his family and affluent life is up on a ledge with a older man he has befriended. The old man cuts past all of the issues the main character has with the church, family, and society and says, “to forgive is to love, and that’s when God shines his light down you.” At that moment, the clouds break and the sun punches through. The statement strikes me because it gives emphasis to how foundational reconciliation is to one’s relationship with God and others. If this statement is true, it makes sense that God would say we can’t be in relationship with someone who isn’t exhibiting it. If God is love, then God cannot be where forgiveness is scorned.

I realize I’m not getting into the specifics of what this means for my life. After this long week, it’s really just nice to get my mind on something else besides work, even if it’s abstract :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 26: Burn It Up

We started watching Into the Wild tonight. It really has some amazing imagery about forsaking all in pursuit of freedom. My favorite part was when he burns his cash. There’s something in me that objected. All kinds of “but…” thoughts came to mind. I saw where he was coming from in wanting to get away from his past life of being shepherded by parents of material plenty and worldly success. But still, did he need to burn the cash? Even if he didn’t spend it, it’s nice to have as a backup or in an emergency.

But you see, money is really just a tool. Like a hammer, it can be used to do things. Many uses of this tool are good. I don’t need to enumerate those here. But tools also have the potential to hurt us. A rope can help fish someone from a raging sea, and it can also be constructed as a noose to hang oneself. I remember the damage tools can bring most clearly growing up, when my dad, in an effort to cut some cardboard, sliced right through it with his razor knife, but also sliced into his thigh. My dad’s case was due to carelessness, and was easily preventable in the future. But some tools aren’t so easy to use properly. In these cases, I think we need to ask ourselves how long we’re going to let the tool sink us before we finally let it go and live without it.

Kara and I do some good things with money, but earning it, managing it, and using it sure does take a lot out of us. I’m reminded of Jesus’ invitation to “sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33). Jesus also gives similar advice to a rich man in Matthew 19. I have heard sermons on Matthew 19 before. Usually the preacher extracts some “good lessons” from the story, but they conveniently don’t include selling our possessions. The closest or she might get is encouraging us to be willing to sell if asked. But Jesus’ words in Luke were directed to all his disciples. It’s not as easy to slip away from. If someone is really trying to follow Christ, why wouldn’t they think these words apply to them? I know when I hear Jesus’ words, I instantly start to make some of the same “but…” objections like I did when watching the money go up in flames: “but what about looking after my family… but what if I share my possessions… but what about not being a burden on others… but how will I be able to make an impact in our culture… but what about having fun…”

It’s incredibly hard to be in our culture and not have stuff. Maybe it’s just the amount of stuff that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the fact that so much of it goes unused. Maybe if there was more owned by the community I would feel better? Jesus words trouble me, but even more troubling is that I don’t know how and if I can apply them in my context.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 25: Excercising the Gift

For my small group yesterday, we read some excerpts from John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinner. The book discusses his call into ministry. It was really interesting to read about how the exercising of his gifts progressed. He writes:
Some of the saints who had good judgment and holiness of life seemed to feel that God had counted me worthy to understand the blessed Word and that he had given me some measure of ability to express helpfully to others what I saw in it. So they asked me to speak a word of exhortation to them in one of the meetings.

At first this seemed to be an impossible thing for me to do, but they kept at it. I finally consented and spoke twice to small meetings of Christians only, but with much weakness and infirmity. So I tested my gift among them, and it seemed as I spoke they were being given a blessing. Afterward many told me, in the sigh of the great God, that they were helped and comforted…

The church continued to feel that I should preach, and so after solemn prayer to the Lord, with fasting, I was ordained to regular public preaching of the Word among those who believed and also to those who had not yet received the faith.

About this time I began to feel a great desire to preach to the unsaved, but not for the desire of glorifying myself, for at that time I was particularly being afflicted with the fiery darts of the Devil concerning my eternal state. I could not rest unless I was exercising the gift of preaching, and I was pressed forward into it.
I was really struck by the seemingly natural progression that Bunyan experienced. Potential was recognized in him and brought to his attention by others. He then began to try it out. His attempts, though difficult, yielded fruit. They were encouragement to attempt again, to exercise further. At some point, it because clear to him that he was gifted in teaching. He felt it and he recognized it mentally. It was how God wired him, and as a result, a deep passion brewed inside of him to use what he had been given.

This has gotten me thinking about my own gifts and passions. I admittedly don’t have a lot of clarity in these areas. You won’t hear me say, “that involves a strength of mine, thus I should be apart of it” or “this opportunity involves my passions and gifts, therefore I should take advantage of it to develop them”. My decisions aren’t gifts/passions driven. Rather, if the decision logistically makes sense and I can’t point to a reason not to, I go ahead.

The problem with my approach is that I’m not operating with optimum output. This is for a few reasons:
  1. I’m not serving as much. It causes me to live out of obedience, and not out of love. Obedience is good and certainly has its place, but love is better. It’s the difference between watching every minute on the clock and wondering where the time went.
  2. My time serving isn’t as a productive. A screwdriver can be used to drive in nails if need be, but it’s really best at screwing. There’s all kinds of things we can do, but there are things we’re more suited for.
Given the plethora of need out there, I know I need to do something. I only have one life to make a mark. Since I only have one life, I want the mark I leave as significant as possible. This requires maximizes the amount of time I’m operating out of giftedness and passion.

My relationships with computers has for so many years driven a wedge between my actions and my gifts/passions. Computer science connects with my head, but it hasn’t engaged my heart. There are the voices in my head that utter “because you’re pretty good at this, you should do it” or even “your technical skills can be used by God, therefore you should continue down this path”. I’m sure better balance can be had between my day job and doing something about the poverty and injustice in our world. I think the best I have done was during my senior with a reduced school load and serving/leading out at the 1304 house. I don’t think I’m winning the balance war now. At some point, instead of battling to reconcile the two, I think I may have to give up and try a different tact.

I realize these are a lot of ramblings. I need to get this stuff out, because I can’t keep living in this untapped way...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 24: Looking Forward

Last night, we got to spend some time with some friends that we really look up to and enjoy. We walked away full of joy, relishing just how nice it is to sit down and talk with people who listen well, understand you, and desire the Kingdom above all else. The reality of the homework waiting for Kara eventually hit in though. While driving home, we talked about how great heaven will be in this regard. There will be no such time constraints, no homework, no alarm clocks. We’ll be able to talk indefinitely with people we know and new faces representing every race on the planet. I look so forward to getting to sit down with my Grandpa and chat over slices of Bothwell cheese like we used to do when I’d visit in the summers growing up. I look forward to talking with Larry in his new body free of addiction and cirrhosis. I look forward to learning what life was like to grow up in the Sahara, the Andes, and the Outback from new found friends.

There is so much I look forward to learning in depth far more than I ever got in school. There’s all the sciences. There’s all the engineering disciplines. There’s all the arts. There’s endless history on our planet and the rest of the universe. I look forward to learning simply for the pleasure of learning, seeing and understanding the incredible beauty of the created world. I look forward to what all I get to be a part of here on earth, but I sure do look forward to all that will come afterwards.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 23: Standing Up in Public

While we were walking from Westlake Center to Pike Place on Saturday, I heard loud, aggressive, demeaning, and cutting language off to my right. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and searched instantly for its source. It was a lean-looking spandex-equipped biker waiting at the entry way to his Downtown condo. He was ridiculing a woman in a uniform with flyers and/or sign up sheets. I’m pretty sure she was with Metropolitan Improvement District of the Downtown Seattle Association. I stopped by the woman (10 feet from the man), and stared, still reeling to understand what was happening. He was using expletives to describe her size, her intelligence, her appearance. I didn’t see what, or even if, she did or say something that set him off. Within 5 seconds, she started asking me: “who is he talking to? Is he talking to me?” When the words got even more cutting, she got the picture, and started to walk away. I stared at the man for a few seconds, still dumb founded, and then walked with her briefly. He began to yell at us, “is that all you have to say? Nice response!” After talking briefly about not understanding what some people’s problems are, she stopped at the corner as we continued to walk forward. Mitch and I said good bye and expressed our hope that the rest of her day go better.

The whole situation has continued to trouble me since. I am disappointed with the way I handled it. While yes it’s good that I stopped, I didn’t really defend this woman being assaulted. I didn’t stand up this guy, and call him on how incredibly disrespectful he was being. This wasn’t a grey issue. It was black and white: no-one should be told the things that he was saying. I think his words struck a holy rage within me. No human bearing the stamp of God’s image should be treated with such contempt. I also failed with the follow up with the woman. Our conversation was too short to really show compassion and bring healing for her. Unless her skin is Kevlar, there’s no way his words didn’t affect her. I really should have asked more about what she does, what it’s like out here on the streets with tourists and condo-owners. Maybe should have been willing to share her story with us?

While I would not will this situation on anyone, I do want another chance to try again. I want to prove that I can speak up and that I can lay aside my own agenda for the sake others. We’ll se…

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 22: Birthdays

We had the pleasure of Mitch and George being with us this weekend, and George celebrated his 11th birthday. It was really a joy to spend the day with him. I got thinking about Jesus and birthdays. We make (or at least think we make) a big deal of his first birthday at Christmas, but I wonder what following birthday celebrations were like. For that matter, what were Hebrew birthdays like at that time? A quick Google search yielded no results on the subject. If you happen to know something on the subject, please let me know! I’m assuming though that annually, Mary and Joseph would share and reflect on the their travel to Bethlehem, arrival of strangers, and flight to Egypt. I wonder if other people believed their story about Jesus’ birth? I wonder what his siblings thought about their miracle brother?

On the subject of birthdays, what makes a good birthday celebration? How do you celebrate someone’s life well? When praying for someone on their birthday, I usually first jump to thanking God for the person’s parents for giving birth to the person and raising him or her. When I’m on top of things, I think of the areas where that person shines, where their areas of excellence are. I think about ways I can and should encourage them. So, I guess birthday’s are really not any different than other days when praying for someone, but as I can’t pray for everyone everyday, birthdays are like stakes in the ground to ensure that I do at least sometime.