Sunday, March 30, 2008

The curse of asking why

I was talking to my friend Katie tonight about death and why it happens when it does. Then we wondered if asking questions, searching for meaning....are these really the right things to do in that situation?

We're humans. At some point we train ourself to ask why things happen. Might we be better off otherwise? Instead of hearing how Person X died from a heart attack, then mourning because if we'd only kept him from eating so many cheese fries maybe he'd still be with us today, it's probably better to simply know that Person X died.

Rather than searching for a cause of death, maybe we should read death as more of a statement of fact, a statement of trust. The Lord took him from us at this time. That much we know. Instead of wrestling with why Person X died at this time and what we could have done to prevent it, we should implicitly trust the Lord's plan. Isn't that a real form of worship?

"At least you're not homeless"

I've been in a funk recently. There's a huge burden hanging over my heart, but I don't know what it is. I feel like I'm in the middle of some great big riddle or something.

I was having a whinge about this yesterday at Powell's. I must have been loud (no surprise there) because the guy next to me stood up to leave and muttered "at least you're not homeless."

A part of me wants to rebut that statement. Ultimately all of our worldly possessions fade away, right? And the most important thing -- more than my iPod or MacBook or Posturepedic pillow -- is that I've accepted the Lord in my life. Really, it's not the most important thing; it's the only important thing.

On top of that, "at least I'm not homeless" asks me to feel better based on comparison to someone else. Something about that doesn't feel right. Couldn't I easily go in the other direction, feeling badly because I don't have more?

Yet somewhere in there I guess there's an element of truth. I have stuff. I live in a house. I needn't worry about running out of money (I don't think). My major issues usually involve avoiding the urge to self-destruct. Somewhere in there I need to be thankful. I guess I just don't know how much. In some ways, it seems like the more thankful I am for Stuff, the more I start relying on that Stuff.

Friday, March 28, 2008

maybe they didn't have health insurance?

Parents Pick Prayer Over Docs; Girl Dies

This will probably add more fuel to the faith vs. science war that's not going anywhere but south..

It seems like the family still has a tremendous amount of peace? It's sick but I kind of like that.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inspirational Country Music Lyrics of the Day

Feeling down? Like life on this world is a bit overwhelming? Let's allow Faith Hill to inject some hope into your life:

It's not easy trying to understand
How the world can be so cold, stealing the souls of man
Cloudy skies rain down on all your dreams
You wrestle with the fear and doubt
Sometimes it's hard but you gotta believe

Chorus: There's a better place, where our Father waits
And every tear He'll wipe away
The darkness will be gone,the weak shall be strong
Hold on to your faith
There will come a day, there will come a day

Wars are raging, lives are scattered
Innocence is lost, and hopes are shattered
The old are forgotten, the children are forsaken
In this world we're living in Is there anything sacred?
There will come a day, there will come a day

The song will ring out, down those golden streets
The voices of earth with the angels will sing
Every knee will bow, sin will have no trace
In the glory of His amazing grace
Every knee will bow, sin will have no trace
In the glory of His amazing grace

There will come a day, there will come a day
Oooh there will come a day
I know there's coming a day, coming a day

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stunning realization of the week

There's a colloquialism (is that really spelled correctly? or is it just not in the blogger dictionary?) saying "better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." It strikes me that this is the complete opposite of the Christian faith. As opposed to trusting the "devil we know", we are basically called to step out on a limb especially when we don't know what's out there.

Thanks to tonight's group members Kristin and Hilary for combining on this thought

Monday, March 24, 2008

Avoiding the temptation to plagiarise

Ordinarily, I'd just take this thought and make it my own, but I decided against that course of action since the author is one of my old roommates from Wyoming. But I love love LOVE these thoughts regarding God and children. Czech it out.

Tiger and Orange Fest

Virtually anything (and anything, virtually) can make it onto the Internet; it's kind of amazing. Sometimes I wish there were inherent online standards that would keep things up to snuff and generate a "Rejected from the 'net" message as it deflects unworthy material. But I realize that such standards are very hard to set and apply, and this blog would probably be a lot shorter and less interesting. Intermittent protests would erupt across Portland, and our bumper stickers would blame Dick Cheney for our lack of freedom. But everything on the Internet would be fantastic.

Anyway, all I wanted to do here is share a couple stories I found recently. First, according to, Tiger Woods has verified his golfing greatness by defeating God by one stroke in a round of 18. In case you still haven't caught on, that Tiger Woods guy handles the clubs pretty well. I've never had a tee time with the Lord, but the story makes me think: how do my own endeavors relate to God? What would I do differently if I could see Him walking there next to me? And am I trying to outdo Him at anything?

Secondly, there is this Italian town that holds a festival each year, in which participants hurl oranges at each other, three days in a row. The International Herald Tribune mentions a "civics lesson from annual orange battles," but in reading the report I found no such lesson (there is an implied lesson, but it's about the value of protective eyewear). There's a bit of (questionable) history to it, but the celebration is mostly one of pointless modern excess. Still, I like it. I like it, not just for its humor, but as an example of how something can be utterly useless, yet still be worthwhile. Of course, lots of things are that way (it's called "fun"), but I know that I sometimes dismiss things for not being useful or pragmatic enough, when really there is nothing wrong with them.

Oranges are still in season, right?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

God and how to answer a basic job interview question

One of my favorite things is when I’m minding my own business, another day in the working world and then God says “Hey! Look! I’m right here in front of you! In the middle of your work day!” Here’s the latest example:

Part of my job is to advise students on interviewing. The flaw of interviewing is that most people assume they’re good at it; after all, it’s not difficult to talk so how hard can it be to interview? That’s why I try to prepare them for some of the more difficult interview questions. My favorite is the “what are your weaknesses?” question. This question is actually asking upon what you need to improve. The best way to answer is a three step process:

1. Identify the weakness;
2. Explain why it’s a weakness; then
3. Tell me what you’re doing to fix this weakness.

Simply identifying the weakness is not enough. As I tell students, employers are not in the habit of hiring someone who has a weakness without any inclination to mend it. Imagine someone who is content in his/her lack of organization. Would you want to hire that person?

It strikes me that this process should be part of my walk with the Lord as well. It’s not enough to merely know areas of life where I sin. I need to do something about it.

For example, I know I have a problem with loving in sincerity (as in Romans 12:9). Is it good enough for me to simply tell people “I struggle with sincerely loving people”? Absolutely not. It’s a starting point. I’ve identified the problem. I’ve identified why it’s a problem. But I haven't done anything to improve upon the problem. If I’m not meditating on the sin, praying for the Spirit to overcome it, I’m not actually helping the problem. In that scenario, I’m allowing sin, rather than Jesus, to act in me…and I’m willingly living by its dictates instead of asking the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness.

Imagine a person who knew s/he was weak in one part of his/her faith, but was content in that weakness. Would you allow that person into Heaven?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Life simplification, gas price style

My guess is that the escalating cost of gas won't actually change lifestyles to any great extent. I'd love to think it will persuade more people to take public transportation, bike from place to place, etc. but those who do so will likely be in the minority.

My mind likes to play all the possibilities, though, and today I was thinking about what might happen if gas prices actually caused people to stay in more, avoid driving from Beaverton all the way in to Portland just to have a drink, stopped going out of their way to do things that are costing $8 in gas mileage.

What if the cost of gas caused people to slow down? Sit at home reading a book instead of running about at breakneck speed? Walk around your community noticing things rather than treating it only as an area in which to live? Focus on a few close friends rather than trying to catch up with 32 different ones at the Lucky Lab?

I know I'm romanticizing the whole simplified lifestyle, but I can't help wondering if the gas prices could actually pull us closer to the Lord. We're in this Facebook world replete with faux relationships. Were we designed to be that way? As my friend January pointed out months ago, Jesus only had 12 disciples. Realistically, the core group of those disciples was only three deep. Sure, he talked to others, but he focused on a very small number of people rather than trying to gather a huge social network. He always kept his closest people with him. Might we be better off doing the same?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mystery Question of Life

When an atheist's sneeze is followed with "God Bless You," does that bother them? Always wondered that.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

david stern is kind of playing god

On Saturday night (3/15), the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat will replay the final 51.9 seconds of their Dec. 19 overtime game.

The Hawks believed they won that game 117-111, but commissioner David Stern overturned the result because Atlanta's stat crew incorrectly disqualified Miami's Shaquille O'Neal after his fifth foul (you foul out after six).

Miami will have the ball when the game resumes, trailing 114-111. After the replay is completed, the teams will get a 15-minute break, then return to the court for their regularly scheduled contest at Philips Arena.

This is really cool because if the Heat win, it will be a good story on justice and redemption. Life is not always fair and it won't wait for you to pick yourself up, but for the Heat.. the world will rewind itself and let them rewrite some history.

If you could relive 51.9 seconds of any point in your life, what point in time would you pick? And no, you do not get Mike Bibby or Shawn Marion to help you out.

I guess if you do have an answer to that, my question is if that point in time is holding you back from being your best?

And if you can even answer that, then how the heck do you live with regret?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Is anxiety a sin?

Is anxiety a sin? I had this conversation with a friend a couple weeks back. The thought was that anxiety stems from worry; as we remember from Matthew 6:25-27, worrying “cannot add another minute to this life.” During times of worry we should look to the Lord and find our security in Him.

I was thinking about this at my insane 6 AM Bible Study today. Statistics show something like 1 in 3 Americans being depressed…and when does depression kick in? When you’re thinking about yourself, wrapped in your own mind, acting out the lyrics to U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.” It’s the same basic thing as worrying about your life – when we’re feeling depressed, we need to remember the words from Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

When we’re feeling down and alone, as if there’s no one else to help us, we need to look closer. The Lord our God will be with us wherever we go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ode to #4

As I'm sure everyone knows (because they follow such things) Brett Favre announced his retirement from the Packers on Monday. Funny thing is, I think this helped me understand what the apostles must have went through when Christ left them. Exclamations of "No, we're not ready! Just a little while longer!" can be heard throughout the state of Wisconsin (pertaining to Brett) at this moment as I am most sure the apostles exclaimed as well (pertaining to Jesus, not Brett Favre). But the thing is, the impact had already been left. Jesus had equipped the Apostles to carry on in His absence and even left that Holy Spirit to really move things along. And as we can see, it clearly worked because from that rose the early church and from that, we were able to know Christ too. All that to say, I have hope for the future of the Packers. Will it be the same? Of course not. But, Brett has left his impact on his team; they have to carry on in his absence.

Of course, if I listen to what Jesus says here, I should give up football all together.