Saturday, January 30, 2010

hopeful to the end

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Christ the god-man suffers too, with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to him since he suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadows, the divinity ostensibly abandoned its traditional privilege, and lived through to the end, despair included, the agony of death. Thus is explained the "Lama sabachthani" and the frightful doubt of Christ in agony.
-Albert Camus
I've been stealing a lot of quotes from the church bulletin. One of the reasons I like this church is the variety of sources, Christian and secular, that it draws from to point to God.

On another note, vulnerability is beautiful, both coming and going.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

mulholland drive

mulholland drive 1

mulholland drive 2

From one of my favorite thinking spots, overlooking the San Fernando Valley.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

lunch break

Need to retreat once in a while.
Wrapped in the roar of wind and wave, interrupted only by
Jet engines overhead.

Reminders of how to be still.
Pelican glides along sand, wing tip passing three feet from face.
Not quite a haiku.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
-Matt 6:26

degree of difficulty

I have somehow gotten it into my head that only things that are difficult are worth doing. That any endeavor which rides the hard road is superior to one which cruises the easy road. That self-denial and sacrifice are badges of honor and holiness. My actions and decisions have reflected that philosophy and, for the most part, I think that I am better for it.

It is true that life inevitably brings difficultly and that persevering through it breeds true depth of character. I would go so far to say that we should pursue lives of purpose and adversity as opposed to lives of comfort and complacency. However, saying that everything MUST be difficult to be valuable is fallacy. Following that is to fall into a strange variation of works based salvation, where blessing is bought with suffering.

I admit that I have bought into this big time. I may have fooled myself into thinking that only the hard road leads to heaven. Easy roads are too easy to be good. This is a mistake. If I am being offered a wonderful gift, I do not want to refuse it because I haven't done anything to deserve it. To do so is to deny the Cross. Ours is not to judge the roughness of the road, ours is but to follow the compass in faith.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

crap my bad

So I was cleaning out my closet a couple weeks ago and there were a couple of ancient looking wires running up the wall. I knew they weren't being used because I don't have cable TV or internet service. My compulsion for wire uncluttering made me cut those wires, and all was at peace once again. A few days later the manager called and asked if he could let the maintenance man into my apartment. I asked to reschedule because I didn't want him to see all of the junk I have attached to the walls. Also, I figured out that I probably shouldn't have cut that cable. So two weeks later when the timing finally worked out, the guy comes and looks in my closet, and I'm caught. Red handed. They need to rerun the cable from the garage for the two apartments above mine, and it will take 3 guys and 2 hours.

I feel terrible, and to make it worse, I just met the guy who's cable I cut. He's a mechanical engineering student at UCLA. He says without TV or internet in his apartment, he's totally bored all day. He will have to continue to be bored for 4 more days. So much trouble. This is pretty embarrassing. My bad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a theology of suffering

Don't have enough of a bearing on the subject to attempt a narrative. I hope these passages will speak for themselves.

Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent.
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
Is He both willing and able? Whence then is evil?
-David Hume, "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion"

Suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. Sensitive spirits must ask whether it can possibly be reconciled with God's goodness and love.
-John Stott, "The Cross of Christ"

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God."
-Luke 13:1-3 (NLT)

Until we acknowledge painful disappointment in our circumstances and relationships (particularly the latter), we will not pursue Christ with the passion of deep thirst. Or, to put it more simply, we rarely learn to meaningfully depend on God when our lives are comfortable.
-Larry Crabb, "Inside Out"

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
-Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)

Think too of all who suffer as if you shared their pain.
-Hebrews 13:3 (JB Phillips)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."
-Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV/NASB)

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From his own fullness all he takes away.
-Katharina von Schlegel, "Be Still, My Soul"

Friday, January 15, 2010

haiti relief

Here are some numbers on Haiti:
Haitian Creole, French

95% black
5% mulatto and white

10,714 sq mi
(Similar to Hawaii)

10 million
(Same as Los Angeles County)

Gross Domestic Product:
$790 per person
(US GDP is $47,440 per person)

95% Christian (mostly Catholic)
2.5% Spiritist/Voodoo
1.8% Non-religious/other
[est. 75% of Catholics also involved in Voodoo]

I was very close to going to Haiti for a week with Child Hope Intl. this past July. I really wanted to, but the timing did not work out. They are currently updating their blog with relief efforts from the ground. This country has suffered through rebellions, famines, and now a devastating earthquake.

If you pray, please pray for those still trapped in the rubble, for those trying to locate loved ones, and for the global aid effort. CNN was reporting earlier today that the cemeteries are unable to dig graves fast enough for the bodies. Stay updated here.

Photos from The Boston Globe (a bit graphic):
1 Day After
48 Hours After

If there is a silver lining it is in the way that people are uniting to help. Dozens of organizations are mobilizing and millions of dollars pouring in. If you feel led to give, please check the charity through Charity Navigator. Red Cross has a donate by text message system which is so far proving very successful.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:12


pint sized talent

This one is just cute :)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

currently reading

  • The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu
  • Inside Out, Larry Crabb
  • Holding Hands, Holding Hearts, Richard D. Phillips
  • Book of Acts, TNIV New Testament
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare

In the queue:
  • The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning (anyone know where to find the non-visual edition?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

pepperdine university

Went exploring in Malibu.

pepperdine student union

center campus


Sunday, January 10, 2010

what i really want... to be in love with the Church.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

inside out

The key, I suggest, to dealing honestly with our desires without losing personal authenticity or genuine concern about others is to understand two facts about our desires. First, our desires, though energizing a complex variety of sinful directions, are related not only to our fallenness but also, and more profoundly, to our humanness. In other words, it's okay to desire. Second, when we look carefully at what we deeply desire, we come to realize that what we want is simply not available, not until heaven. The more aware we become of our most passionate longings, the more lonely and sad we feel. A colleague has described the experience as feeling "out of the nest."

[Two] errors in responding to our longings - hiding them in a flurry of Christian activity and focusing on them to find satisfaction - deny the simple truth that we legitimately want what we cannot have in this world. We were designed to live in a perfect world uncorrupted by the weeds of disharmony and distance. Until we take up residence in that world, however, we will hurt. It is, therefore, not only okay to desire, but also okay to hurt.

Beneath the obvious struggles of everyday life, thirsty souls pant after satisfaction. We must recognize how the reality of unquenched thirst surfaces in our lives.

-Dr. Larry Crabb, "Inside Out"

Friday, January 8, 2010

blessing and community

I got a random call from Matt on Monday. He called from Tokyo to say happy new year and we got to catch up a bit. I still can't tell if he's really engaged, but I think it might actually be real this time. He's faked it so many times that I won't fully believe it until I see it. After we caught up for a while he offered to pray for me. When he started, I realized how long it has been. I have pretty much been going at it alone for 6 months. Hearing those words aloud from another person made a world of difference. We are not made to travel this road by ourselves, and it has been wearing on me. That phone call ministered to me in more ways than Matt could have known.

I also got a chance to attend a PCC small group on Wednesday. Another thing that I didn't realize how much I missed. It was a little awkward at first and I'm pretty sure I was the youngest one there, but the Word is the Word. Diving into it with other people is a lot easier than swimming alone. It was nice getting to know a few people too. Walking into a room with 400 perfect strangers on Sunday morning is an interesting experience, but one that I wouldn't mind leaving behind. Community is vital. Enjoy it while you have it and seek after it when you don't.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

table top pong

Oh jeez this is awesome. I am totally nerding out.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost, 1920

One of my favorite poems from high school.

Monday, January 4, 2010

not a resolution

I biked to work today.
9 miles, 1.5 hours.
Would have been 8 miles, 1 hour, if the stinking airport would let bikes ride under it.

It was worth it though, if for nothing other than this:

Next time, I'll bring the fancy pants camera.

As she sits.

I don't think I'm smelly enough for anyone to notice.
The hard part will be the other 9 miles back home.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we'd be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make use feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.
-Franz Kafka
The pastor referred to this quote in church today. His point was not as gloomy as the quote.

Lately, I have been thinking about how easy it is for us to self-medicate our aches instead of exploring them. Retail therapy, television, and Facebook are always an arm's length away. We are a generation which has grown accustomed to distracting ourselves from pain. As if not thinking about our loneliness or our lack of spiritual fulfillment or our frustrating jobs will magic it away.

What if these wounds are splinters instead of cuts? We bandage ourselves where it hurts and it helps for a while. But with every movement, though covered over at the surface, we feel the sharp fragments prodding the flesh underneath. It is a deep ebbing pain that makes plastering on a smile impossible when no one's looking.

The only way to be truly free of these splinters involves sharp instruments. To remove the bandages and cut away at good flesh to find and dig out the foreign objects that have buried themselves so deep over the years. This is a painful process, but it is the only way to freedom. We are only lucky enough not to cut blindly, but with the steady hand of a skilled Surgeon guiding each stroke of the knife.

For those who are struggling with difficult situations, I believe that there has to be some value in hanging on with every last breath. There is no circumstance without some shred of redemptive value. You are not alone. Just don't give up.

Friday, January 1, 2010

new years eve 2009

Boys will be boys.