Monday, April 30, 2007

Corruption of Control

I suffered from a bit of procrastination, but it's still April! So, in honor of National Poetry Month, here's my best shot:

Corruption of Control

In peace,
in safety,
in control,
my hearts turns soft.

Control turns me inward.
Not in love outward,
or in thanks upward.
Scavenging to acquire, I forget.

In control,
in comfort,
in luxury,
my hearts turns hard.

False control seeds selfishness.
Empty comfort sprouts weakness.
Luxury blossoms greed.

Consistency.
Complacency.
White, gripping with fears.
Corruption.
Consumption.
Sweaty, clinging in tears.

Gripping that which gives me control.
Clinging to that which fills the hole.
gripping and clinging -
to shadows of reality.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Raisins

Now I don't particularly like raisins, but I have to commend Subway for taking a risk in the ultra competitive fast food market and making the investment to sell raisins at all their restaurants.

In response, I have made a commitment to buy raisins every time I eat at Subway (2-3 times a week), just to show my support. The health benefits are numerous, including antioxidants, boron for bone health, an acid for oral health, and protection from vision loss. It's one small step in making America healthier!

Note: The picture is way out of proportion. You don't really get a box of raisins the size of a 6 inch sub, sorry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Life Plan 4/25/07

I get a lot of crazy ideas every now and again. When I have a life plan revelation it often times has very obscure, though exact, aspects to it. I am now going to start documenting them for reflective entertainment purposes 5 or so years down the road.
  1. Graduate PSU with a bachelors of something in the field of Social Services.
  2. *Sell everything (except my books).
  3. Teach ESL, or in my field of study if possible, abroad (Eastern Europe or Asia) for 2 years.
  4. Return to the States and buy a motorcycle (something along the lines of a Triumph Daytona or Speed Triple).
  5. Continue graduate work at Dallas Theological Seminary.
*Note: I could be married at this point, but not earlier. From this point forward, however, this life plan is open ended in that regard.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Lacho calad! Drego morn!"

"Flame Light! Flee Night!"

..After waiting anxiously for nearly a month, it has has finally arrived! I just finished the first chapter. To put any fears to rest, I can tell you it reads nothing like the Silmarillion (with it's epic historical scope).

I can't wait to pick it back up!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shadows of the Supreme Sacrifice

Cho Seung-Hui, an individual whose heart had folded under the pain and suffering of this world, playing the very cards of hate that broke him. He allowed the depravity of this world, which scarred him so deep, to spread like cancer, rampant through his very own actions. Before taking 33 lives, including his own, he uttered the words "I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people."

Let's get one thing straight.

Jesus Christ took no lives. In love, he gave up his own for the lives of all, including the life of Cho Seung-Hui.

If you are looking for an image of Jesus in the events that unfolded on the campus of Virgina Tech on April 16, look to a man by the name of Liviu Librescu.

According to news accounts quoting students, Mr. Librescu and the class heard shooting in a nearby room. While some students took cover underneath desks and others leaped out from windows, their professor gave his life by blocking the door in order to prevent the gunman from entering.

Liviu Librescu was 75.

An expert in aeronautics

A senior researcher.

An engineer lecturer.

A father.

A husband.

A Romanian.

A Jew.

A Holocaust survivor.

I fight back tears that overwhelm my eyes as I tell this mans story. This man who had experienced the horrors of what this world is capable of. Liviu has been hated, tortured, and lived in the gutters of humanity. Yet he still demonstrated a selfless love by sacrificing his life for the same humanity which treated him like trash.

Why does such sacrifice speak a language, understood like no other, to my soul? Why do I feel such emotion in response to an act, which no other act could evoke?

Liviu's sacrifice paints a raw portrait which appears as a shadow of Jesus' supreme sacrifice.

Liviu Librescu, not Cho Seung-Hui, died like Jesus, inspiring a re-ignition of the blazing passion in at least this one weak and defenseless person to choose love - to choose Jesus.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Snap Shots

You may have noticed a crazy little window, when you hover over a link, that pops up a thumbnail version of the corresponding website (pretty slick eh?). It was a nifty little app that went by the mouthful of a name "Snap Preview Anywhere". Well, they just recently completed a major overhaul and renamed to simply: "Snap Shots".

They have enhanced the functionality enormously!

For example, now the books (like this enlightening book on a brilliant German theologian, Bonhoeffer Speaks Today) and music (such as the brand new Bright Eyes album, Cassadaga) that I link to on Amazon show a "Snap Shot" of specifically the cover and product description, instead of the whole webpage.

If I link to a video, such as the amazing Bono acceptance speech that I posted awhile back (if you haven't seen it, watch it NOW!), you can watch the clip without even leaving my site.

Or, if I reference Shaun of the Dead on IMDB, because it was the sensational British comedy by the masterminds behind the upcoming Hot Fuzz, an overview is embedded right into my blog.

Now I can make an obscure reference, such as to a little known author by the name of Randy Alcorn, and simply link to Wikipedia if I am too lazy to explain. Meanwhile, you can quickly and efficiently get up to speed from the comfort of my very own URL.

Exciting stuff happening these days here at my humble blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nerd Status

If there was every a doubt...On this monumental day in history I have now clearly attained nerd status.

Check out my new nifty personal online library (I am just starting the arduous task of cataloging, so be patient). I encourage you to enjoy a moment of "oh-ing" and "ah-ing" over the sexy new widget in my sidebar as well.

An individuals library is quite possibly their most telling possession. The books that one owns (assuming they are read), or the lack thereof, reveals the focus of one's mind. I love snooping through personal libraries. Now, thanks to the wonders of internet, I can do this from the comfort of my own home. So, get an account (simple one step process) and start cataloging!

Credit for finding my favorite internet discovery of 2007 thus far goes to PondererGirl. Check out her blog. It's a good one.

On a side note - courtesy of my man Oswald Chambers: "If you have the whine in you, kick it out ruthlessly. It is a positive crime to be weak in God's strength."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cristo ha Resucitado!

As I reflect on Jesus death and resurrection this Easter, and it's lasting impact on my own death, I find myself uttering Paul's own words with a heightened sense of understanding and clarity. Gazing at my own grave, starting death in the eye with complete God given confidence and authority...
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 5:55-56)
Death has been swallowed up in victory, indeed!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Frank

A veteran who served our country for 20 years of his life. A man who's wife took advantage of him in his weakest moments, leaving him with nothing. An individual with no money, no home, no family whom I ate chili dogs and drank hot chocolate with underneath the Burnside Bridge on a cold Friday night.

Frank is a hard worker despite his psychological problems flared by an estranged wife. I don't even think Mike Rowe could handle Frank's job cleaning rat cages at the VA Animal Research Facility in Portland. Every one of Franks pay checks is earned with great love, and it is surely not because of what the work entails.

The majority of his pay check is put towards child support for his two children. The remaining penny's are put into his savings account so that he can one day pay to have a divorce. The divorce is his highest priority, though a small inconvenience that Frank must complete to circumvent the restraining order, allowing him to send letters to his children.

Frank does have one living relation locally, whom even provided a house to stay at, his mother. However, two years ago she suffered a sever stroke leaving very little of his mother left. With his mother requiring constant attention to live day in and day out, Frank was forced onto the streets. He now has a place to stay at the Salvation Army. Though "a place to stay" can mean very different things depending on your context. For me, it means a roof over my head for when I'm not at work or school, a place to make and eat a warm meal when I am hungry, a place to sit on a couch and relax with a book or watch Lost, and a warm bed to curl up in when I am tired or sick. For Frank a place to stay is nothing more then a hard cot to sleep on at night.

With nowhere to go during the day, Frank is left to wandering the streets. A few weeks ago he discovered Nightstrike underneath the Burnside Bridge on Friday evening. He has come back every Friday since, and I was blessed with the opportunity to hear why.

"It is obvious that you people serving - love us."

Those words, which struck straight to my heart, are still ringing in my ears. Even now, it makes my heart beat quicken thinking about it. This was a complete affirmation of the work God is doing underneath the Burnside Bridge, and I wasn't even looking for one! My love alone for God's creation is what has been drawing me there on Friday night for the last 4 months, regardless of how small of an impact God would use me for.

I asked him if he knew why we loved people so much, and was able to share about this love that stems out of the very core of my faith.

He explained how this love was demonstrated to him on our faces, by our attitudes, in our eagerness to serve, and through our desire to meet his physical needs. He said the best meal of his week is Friday evening underneath the Burnside Bridge. He confessed that in the short time he has been coming, he has already eaten the best Taco soup and the best Chili Dogs of his entire life. That is high praise coming from a man in his 50's.

He went on to explain how he has no one, his heart yearns for joy as he drowns in his loneliness. During the week all he has his is Rock-n-Roll, "It keeps me sane". He said when he comes down on Friday, he feels like he is worth something, he feels loved, he is made complete.

Frank has hope. He has a better income as of late. But above all else, he is wrestling to rebuild his relationship with God, to start being a Christian again. Resentment holds a strong grip on Franks heart. He needs prayer. He needs strength. He needs to experience Jesus love in his life. He has experienced Jesus love in his life, underneath the Burnside Bridge on Friday night.

Week of Passion

I am just starting to settle in at home the last day of spring break after having embarked last Tuesday with a group of friends on a inner city mission trip to serve the needy and homeless in downtown Portland. The trip is called "Week of Passion" and is run by Bridgetown Ministries, the same organization I have been serving with on Friday nights underneath the Burnside Bridge for the last 14 weeks.

I am not going to do a day by day recap. It has already been done (I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to my Multnomah Seminary brother's new blog, dablogbert. Matt is also a recently added contributor to the Annotative Discussion blog). However, I would still like to share a few stories of how God taught and stretched me this last week.

After sleeping Tuesday night in a barred and gated church dead center in the middle of Portland with only our sleeping bags and the clothes on our backs we set out Wednesday morning carrying everything we owned (our clothes and our sleeping bag) and a dollar in our pockets. We divided up into small groups and set out eagerly to do...nothing. We had to keep ourselves busy roaming the streets with no clear meaning to our day. If we wanted lunch, we had to find a shelter. I soon become aware of the bulkiness of my sleeping bag, but we were resourceful and fashioned a shoulder sling out of a string we found so I could carry it on my back.

We admired our beautiful city Portland. We enjoyed the talent of street performers. We interpreted abstract art. We wandered through shops/museums/churches/libraries to warm up. We talked to anyone willing. And, we accomplished nothing, though the day was by no means wasted.

Somewhere in that day wandering aimlessly God taught me a thing or two about freedom. Freedom from schedules and to-do lists. Freedom from the need to please others in hopes of self promotion. Freedom from the worries of tomorrow. Freedom from all of these things which in turn allows you to live freely in the now. (Yet are these not all things spoken clearly of in Scripture? I am ashamed by my lack of faith but thankful for the lesson God used to help make them real in my life.)

I see now why homelessness is such a real option for many who are lost/running/searching. I can see now why when one collapses underneath the problems of life, when the struggle to piece your life back together is so overwhelming, that not only is being homeless a condition one is forced into but it can actually, in some twisted way, be appealing. Especially for those who wrestle with authority, who have been betrayed by darkness of this world one too many times, or have been overwhelmed with the worries of life.

A divine appointment had been arranged between myself and a man named Keith, who I had spoken with a week earlier at Nightstrike underneath the Burnside Bridge. Wednesday afternoon he bumped into my group scrounging for 25 cents. In the excitement of the moment I shouted "Keith! You remember me from last Friday?" His face lifted up and his eyes brightened as he stumbled to his words, "You remember my name?". A statement that he would repeat no less then 10 times in the 2 minute conversation that followed.

Keith is from Nashville, has been living at a shelter in Vancouver, but got stuck in Portland. The night we talked last Friday was his first night on the streets and I had been praying that God would give him strength and protection. A week after our first conversation, I spotted him again walking down the street when I was cleaning windows outside the Union Gospel Mission. I called out his name. He was confused, but instantly delighted. He gave me a hand shake, called me brother, and told me he looked forward to seeing me that night underneath the Burnside Bridge, which he did. I then found out he had spent the day turning in applications for work and is now staying at a shelter in Portland through the end of April. There is a good chance I will see him again next Friday. I pray earnestly for a continuation of this divine appointment as well as God's hand of protection around Keith.

Mark 6:8 "Don't think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. " (The Message)

I am a tool in the hands of the Lord.