Archive for July, 2009

Giving inertia the finger

Very cool! Must have been a God thing. I was preparing for next Sunday’s Bible study and we are going over Ephesians 5:1-21. Verses 15-16 say this:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Sinclair Ferguson writes that Paul uses the same verb used in “making the best use of the time” in Galatians 3:13, a seemingly unrelated verse:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.

I don’t know Greek, but I looked up those two passages online (here and here) and they have the same verb exagorazo which, translated literally, means “redeem.” So literally, Eph. 5:16 is saying, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” There is so much we can meditate on when we realize that the same word is used for our salvation and for the way that we use our time. Just think…just as we love because God first loved us, so we redeem our time because Christ redeemed us. Just as we know that we are growing in holiness as our love conforms more and more to the kind of love Christ had for us, so we know we are becoming more mature as the way that we spend our time conforms to the way that Christ spent his life for us. Christ took us captive by his love; let us take our time captive. He saw our lives headed in a sad direction and did something about it; let us do something about all the time that is going to waste. He saved us from a life without purpose; let us save our time from the same disaster. Christ redeemed us. There are so many definitions of redeem…each can shed light on the way we spend our time. We must “extricate” our time from the curse of wastedness. We must “release from blame or debt” the time we spend. We must “free from the consequences of sin” our time. We must “buy back” and “win back” the value in our time. And what greater value than to serve and bring glory to the one who saved us?

What motivation now to go and redeem our time! This week, I am so excited to wake up each day in anticipation of filling the day with things that matter. I am so excited to redeem my time. Who else wants to join me? I will pray for you!

Inertia is our worst enemy

Many of my friends are overseas, either traveling or for missions work. I’ve been thinking about how much my experiences traveling this summer made me think. Soul stimulation, I like to call it, but that sounds a little artificial. Maybe soul stirring? There is something about being around new people, new places, new experiences that makes me think more. Think about myself, about my desires, about my fears, about my blessings, about my weaknesses. Being back home has dulled that soul stirring. But I’ve been thinking about how I shouldn’t live off of nostalgia. People say that they have changed and learned so much when they come back home after being abroad. But many soon become jaded again to home life. They lose their momentum and their energy and their focus. And that’s what I’m trying hard now to fight against. The feeling that the seeming humdrum of daily life at home is nothing special, something only to drudge through, all the while filling oneself with memories of past feelings of purposefulness and meaningfulness. I must fight against jadedness. I have to be faithful with this chapter of my life, with the situation God has placed me in. The mundane is still meaningful.

Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or stay at home or look for a job or microwave lunch or go grocery shopping or look for stuff on Craigslist, do it all to the glory of God. God was no less glorified when I stuck my ear plugs in and pounded LSAT questions at my desk than when I led praise at church. God is no less glorified when I have Bible study at home than when I do a gospel skit in Mexico. I want to be faithful with the mundane in the now so that God may entrust to me greater and bigger things in the future. The same 16 hours of the day when you wake up at home are the same 16 hours you had when you were on missions or when you were traveling or studying abroad. I know it is hard when we don’t have those particular people and places to stir up our sense of meaning and purpose. But maybe that means we should think outside the box about how we can open those doors for God to stir our souls once again.

Go to a coffee shop and start a conversation with a stranger. Have dinner with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Take local streets instead of the freeway. Start a Bible study with a friend. Visit a new church where you don’t know anyone. Bake a cake for your neighbor. I don’t know. Who knows what God might teach you when you step outside of the ordinary, with the longing that God would renew your desire for your first love and joy (Revelation 2:4, Psalm 51:12).

I am praying for my friends who will be coming back soon, that they would not get into that funk, that rut, that molasses pit of jadedness. Inertia creeps in and seeps in. Day after day, your eyes start to glaze over slowly and when all you do is watch your DVRed movies and play video games and spend hours on video chat doing absolutely NOTHING, you’ve lost. You’ve lost miserably. I hate it when people put “I’m bored” in their FB statuses or away messages. They are too lazy to find something to do when there are so many things worth our time. They are wasting their lives. It’s time to redeem our time and give inertia the finger. God did not create us for stagnant, meandering lives. He created us to live for Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. So join with me and let’s DO THIS.

Some of us should take the cue

I know some of you have read Don’t Waste Your Life. I’m reading through it now on PDF, and this little passage is convicting, partly because I know Piper is known to live what he preaches. He doesn’t own a TV. For those who haven’t read it, this passage is just a small side comment to his main point–the book is more about what we should do rather than what we shouldn’t. By the way, reading things on paper is so much better than reading them on the computer. My eyes get so tired on the computer. God made our bodies so that they tell us we shouldn’t be on the computer too much.

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main prob­lem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Stab…twist. Just replace “TV” with “Internet.” He goes on to write about the uselessness of pouring our time, energy, and money into trivial pursuits such as sports, gardening, cars, entertainment, computer/video games, clothes.

I could even say the same about some religious things we do, if taken to the extreme…fellowship, reading theology, listening to sermons.

Worship and ADD don’t mix

On Sundays, we’re going over each of the NT epistles in one sitting. Romans worked out well two weeks ago…1 Corinthians today, not so much. The problem? This kid named David. He and his younger brother Daniel are newcomers to our church, sons of a new pastor we have that will be leading young adult KM. David was kind of fun/funny at first, but now he’s just really annoying. Restless, making weird faces, moving the chairs around, complaining loudly about the heat. It’s frustrating for me because if I say something every time he does something, it breaks the flow of what I’m saying and I lose my train of thought. So I was exhausted by lunch time. I just wanted to go home and sleep.

If Andrew was there, they would have been a lot better. He does a good job keeping them in line (ggohm-jjak-du-moh-teh haha). So I’m going to do my best for the next 3 weeks to hold the fort on my own. If Justin, Austin, and Rachel were here today, I think the boys would have been less ADD. It’s just the fact that it seemed so low-key with so few of us today that the boys felt more comfortable with spazzing out. Got to start thinking of wrestling moves/easy ways to inflict pain and work on acting stern, something I’m not good at hahaha. God is using the boys to test my patience and my ability to discipline and express disapproval without overreacting. Trying to walk the line between being harsh and being a coward. I tend to lean toward the latter.

I think my guitar pickup’s battery is dead…my guitar didn’t work today, but it was nice to be able to hear my own voice on the PA system and sing on-key. Can’t say the same about the other room’s PA system…the tiny speaker feedbacks if you try to raise the mic volume.

Is God pleased even when we’re in “maintain” mode? God is teaching me more and more to look at my life in terms of stages and chapters, not to get too caught up in the short-term. What I expect the next chapter to hold often gives me peace and hope. So much can change in a few years. Just look at how much I’ve learned in the past 4 years of college. The 20s are WIDE open for me. I’ve only just begun–literally.

Love on

What is the origin of the phrase “love on”? I first heard it in Campus Crusade for Christ, where a bunch of people would say “We just want to love on people.” I thought it was a white thing, but now I hear some Korean Christians using it. The phrase has always sounded a little condescending to me. Just listen to the difference: “I love you” versus “I love on you.” Makes me kind of wince. Especially when used in the context of missions and evangelism, it makes it seem like the person saying it thinks they are somehow above the people they are ministering to. The phrase reminds me of pounding someone over the head with a Bible, like there’s a selfish heart motive. I know that’s probably not the case for most people who use it, but I prefer just saying “love.”

Google rankings

Sometimes I think it’s cool that WordPress gets my blog and entries ranked so high on Google. Other times, I’m like, man, how do my entries get ranked so high on such generic Google searches? Especially when no one links to my entries and they aren’t that old.

My blog comes up 1st for “take care lest you forget,” 6th for “lest you forget,” 2nd for “bad worship songs,” 3rd for “korean pastors.” Kind of scary. Maybe good? I hope my writing is a blessing to people. I added a rating function to my entries, since leaving comments might be a little uncomfortable for some. Just click “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”! Kind of like Facebook’s “like” function,  I hope it gets people to give some feedback (except here it’s anonymous). It’ll let me know I’m not just writing into the air.

In Christ Alone revisited

When I first heard “In Christ Alone,” it was the version by Geoff Moore (“Listen to Our Hearts” anyone?) and Adrienne Liesching (Jeremy Camp’s wife). I love this version. All the instruments and vocals are excellent. Soon after, I heard Stuart Townend’s original studio version from 2002. I like the musical accompaniment–the instrumental after the second verse is awesome–but it doesn’t take away from the beautiful simplicity of the vocals and melody.

I went on a YouTube rampage and had a time of worship as I found so many other versions of the hymn and listened to them all. They are listed in order of “moving power,” IMHO.

Stuart Townend – The woman’s voice in the first verse gives me chills. It cuts off at the end…:(
Stuart Townend again, haha
Travis Cottrell – Pretty awesome transition to another well-known hymn at 3:26.
Keith and Kristyn Getty – Just piano and voice. Keith is the one who wrote the lyrics!
Philips, Craig, and Dean – Pretty standard, but then they add the chorus from Michael English’s “In Christ Alone” (different song altogether, older) at 3:00, and it sounds awesome.
Newsboys – I like the piano but not the vocals.
Natalie Grant – Very cool instrumental backing (same verse chord progression as “Our Great God,” another great song), but Grant butchers the melody. 3:00 to 3:20 and 4:30 to the end are pretty awesome, though. Another performance here.

Sometimes I really wish we had a full band at church. But then I think of how much work it is to coordinate and lead so many people and instruments, especially when they are not “good” (in individual technical skill as well as in knowledge of how to play in a band). And unless the band puts in a lot of work to play the song well, there is a good chance that their mistakes will distract from rather than direct the congregation to worship. I have not sung any new songs at church in a while. Any new songs we do sing are usually older songs (a few years old) that I’ve missed out on until hearing it at a different church or somewhere random. It’s also harder to find decent new songs because many of the good ones don’t suit well to one-guitar-only settings. Even the awesome hymn “The Power of the Cross,” which I wrote about in an earlier post, we don’t play often, because it sounds so choppy on guitar.