Christmas Poetry

Merry Christmas, everyone!  May you be blessed by the peace of God, the love of family and friends, and the joy of salvation.

Here is some poetry I would like to share:


I.  Fall
Knowing good and evil,
We hid ourselves from God.
Opened eyes were darkened.
Flesh-hearts became like stone.
That which promised knowledge,
Bewilderment it bred.
Claiming to be wise,
We cursed ourselves instead.

II. Winter
With furrowed brow we fought
the thorny, thistled ground.
Meaningless, meaningless, all –
All is vanity.  All – profanity.  All – insanity.
Oh – humanity!
(Steeped in our depravity,
Our souls weighed down by gravity.)

III. Spring
Crippled creation cries,
coupled with the curse
Subjected to futility,
Waiting for fertility,
Groaning as in childbirth.

But on that silent night
In a little town,
the second Eve –
the servant of the Lord lay down.
As she cried out in pain
(the curse that she received)
the virgin’s labor brought forth Victory.

IV. Summer
In the land of darkness deep,
Sleepers spied the dawning Light –
the Glory of the One and Only,
full of grace and truth.  The Christ.

Scores of angels, shout!
To shepherds in the fields
And through the sands of time,
to us, Good News reveal.

Resounding trumpets, ring;
Continue with the set.
And until they ring again,
in the "Already
but Not Yet."



Make space for the uncontained God,
Unthinkable vastness gathered into infant capsule.
Light a torch in the night and draw near
to the Pillar of Fire sleeping in virgin arms.
Teach with alphabet blocks the Word
that confused the builders of Babel.
Make time for the One who sustains it,
Who interjected, uninvited, into human affairs,
bringing the deliverance we mistook for fruitcake.


The Mystery of Faith

They came from the East.
Pagans, not Kings.
Wizards and shamans –
Readers of tea leaves and stars.
Perhaps they carried ceremonial bones and runes
Clattering away in camel-drawn carts
Next to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Astrologers and sorcerers –
Blatant violators of Moses’ law and
Condemned by God –
Unlikely worshipers
Drawn by the shining light
of Grace.

"Thinking. Loving. Doing." Book Review

When I picked up this book, I had no idea what it was about.  All I knew was that it was edited by Piper and had chapters by both John Piper and Francis Chan.  On that basis alone, I figured that it was worth reading, but I was blown away by the introduction, long before I got to the later chapters.

Introduction: David Mathis
Not knowing what the book was about, I found the introduction rather helpful.  In the church, we've created this weird dichotomy of anti-intellectual sentimentalism pitted against anti-sentimentalist theological academia.  Mathis calls this the "unifers" (those who "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" but may be given to doctrine-dilution) and "purifiers" (those who thrive on "watching out for those who...create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have taught" but may be given to arrogance and division-stirring.)  In response, this book literally addresses the "thinking," "loving," and "doing" aspects of the Christian faith.  Many times, churches gravitate to one of these categories (which also fit the "prophet/ priest/ king" dynamic, for those who are familiar with that terminology) at the expense of the other two.

"In our scheme," Mathis writes, "the 'thinkers' (mind) would be Reformed; the 'feelers' (heart), the massive swaths of Pentecostal and charismatic networks (either in addition to, or perhaps rather than, the now greatly diminishing number of those labeling themselves 'emerging'); and the 'doers' (hands), the more practically oriented 'leadership' segments of the church...AND THE POINT IS THAT NONE OF US GETS IT RIGHT." (emphasis mine).  By incorporating and intermingling these three functions of Christian living, we can grow wholistically: in both unity and in purity.

For my commentary and summary on the rest of the chapters, please see my Amazon review here.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my review, but the thoughts and impressions expressed herein are my own.



When we look at John 1 through the lens of 1 Corinthians 15, we see John
being intentional about his choice of words. John calling Jesus the “Word”
was a strategic spear thrown at his audience. The Greek word is logos, and
the Greeks used it commonly when speaking about their gods. The Greeks
believed their gods were detached from the pain of the world. Unlike those
gods, the logos of the Bible felt fully the pain of the world. In attaching Himself
to humanity, Jesus suffered the punishment of the cross so that we would not
eternally suffer the punishment of our sin.
- The Village Church Advent Guide

Grace. It exists.

The first thought I had this morning was an expletive.

By the time I had my second thought, my body moving faster than my mind, was sprinting halfway down the stairs.

Let me back up...

My first final was scheduled for 12/6/11 at 9:45 am.  I always get everything lined up the night before.  Computer, software for my computer (we use a special test-taking program), pencils, pens, erasers, white-out, highlighter, exam ID number, clothes, and yes, even breakfast.  I hard boiled three eggs and put them in the fridge last night.  And before I go to bed, I always set my alarm: multiple alarms on my phone and an extra non-phone alarm, just in case my phone dies or something.

So why was I so alarmed?  What was my second thought this morning?  It was a horrible mess of realizations that came to my brain all at once:
  • My phone wasn't on my bedstand
  • My phone is downstairs
It was 7:40 am.  Over two hours before my final.

Some more background information: I never wake up before my alarm.  EVER.


To summarize:
  • I have issues with school being an idol.
  • I have issues with control being an idol.
  • Control failed me.
  • God came through despite my need for control.
  • God came through and helped me with school despite my sin in idolizing school.
  • God came through, and my initial response was to shout expletives in my head.
God is really, really, really good, and I am very, very, very humbled.

Grace.  It exists.  And not just in a "spiritual blessings" kind of way, but in a "Lord, give us this day our daily bread" kind of way.  God feeds the birds, dresses the flowers, and doesn't give snakes to his hungry children.

May God bless you with his grace this day, the eyes to see it, and the peace to enjoy it.  So let this be.

11 Year Old Proclaims Christ, as Shown Throughout Bible

Full text below (via Mr. Ministry Man):

Divine Scheduling

Photo: zedcap, flickr, CC2.0

Text: A Living Oak, my friend's blog.  Take a visit!

Mars Hill Membership

On this blog, I've griped a number of times about how I tried to find a church: I dedicated my time and energy to one church after another, but the church was not able to uphold its side of the deal

As an update, I would like to share the good news that I have finally found a fantastic church!  The "finding" was really a matter of opportunity: 1) Mars Hill Seattle planted a campus in Orange County and 2) God provided a car with which I would be able to drive there.  I have been following Mars Hill for around eight years.  Yes, I am aware of the various criticisms of the church and of Mark Driscoll, but I have confidence in this church and its leadership.  However, I do not follow a man, but Christ.  And while I am in the process of pledging myself to this church, my identity and loyalty is not bound directly to this local church, but to the Church as a whole.

Going through the membership covenant is like reading a giant sermon.  I wanted to share some of the verses from the "Statement of Faith" section in hopes that it confirms and deepens your understanding of the Gospel.  The second reason why I'm sharing is in the hope that someone on THE INTERNET finds that this is a useful list and is able to bookmark it for later.  For a more comprehensive doctrinal statement, Mars Hill's may be found here.

Either way, I felt that these verses were particularly Advent-appropriate.  Take some time and meditate on the basics!

Related topics I want to cover in the future: church-shopping, church membership, mega/ multi-campus churches, celebrity pastors

For your convenience: A list of "one another" verses

Statement of Faith

The Gospel:

John 3:16-18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Rom. 3:23-26

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Matt. 26:64 (and Mark 14:62)

Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man is seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 Luke 22:70

So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”                                                    

John 4:25–26

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”                         

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Sin, Repentance, Redemption:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


Colossians 2:12

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

1 Peter 3:21

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,


I can't believe I haven't posted all month!  This was due to a variety of factors.  Part of it was being completely sapped of time, energy, and creativity.  Part of it was going through life-stuff that I didn't feel comfortable blogging about in case word got back to the people involved: of course, I don't use the blog as a platform for sinning against another person, but at the same time, if they knew I was writing about them, it would make things rather uncomfortable.

I honestly cannot say what will be the future of the blog.  Even before the longest hiatus in TSN history, I was not blogging very often or keeping to my schedule of two comics per week.  (Everyone says they miss the comics.  No one says they miss my rambling XD).  I doubt that in the future I will be able to go back to a regular schedule.  This has been a fun project that lasted a number of years- longer than I had expected.  At the same time, I don't think I will close the doors for good, simply because I like hearing myself talk too much!

That is to say, expect some changes in the future, which I'm guessing you've already learned to expect given my infrequent and sporadic posting this school year.  At the same time, I always like to challenge myself creatively and spiritually during Advent and Lent, and the fruit of my labor will be posted here as it comes to mind.  So if you're a subscriber, great!  You'll get content as it's posted.  If you're not, please keep checking in at least through Christmas, and by then, I'll figure out what to do with TSN.

Thank you for your support!

Advent: What are you waiting for?

(Neal Dench, flickr, CC2.0)

None of us escape this pain, this fear that if we love something enough
God will take it away from us, as if He is vengeful and plays games with His
children. We trust the object of our expectations and set our expectations too
low when they were meant to be occupied by Him, after all. What good thing
would the Father withhold from us if He has given us His only Son? What
more could capture our hearts than the Savior Himself and the knowledge
that He died bound that we might live free?

- The Village Church advent guide


(rocknroll_guitar of flickr)

Dear squeamish people: aren't you glad I didn't show the actual needle?



Also: I revamped the tiny post from before. Seems my photo hosting shrunk my picture because I wanted to make a 1-frame comic. You live and learn.


We have sinned and grown old
There's a quote by Chesterton that I just love:
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
It continues:
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Defining Maturity
Sometimes people mature because they pursue maturity.  Sometimes people mature because life matures them.  For me, it was a weird mix of both.  People started telling me I had an "old soul" starting somewhere in Jr. High.  I was always "old" for my age, but now age is catching up with me (as it does with us all).

As a kid, I didn't laugh much.  For one thing, I didn't have a whole lot of reason to.  But for another thing, somehow I equated "maturity" with "solemnity."  I distinctly remember being twelve and forming the thought.  (Yeah, I was a weird kid).  In my pursuit of maturity, my immaturity had caused me to construct the wrong notion of maturity.  It's funny how that happens.

Just as it is important to have at least a working framework for defining manhood, womanhood, or what it means to help someone, I believe it is also important to have at least a general idea of what maturity is.  If we're going to strive for something, it's good to know what we're striving for.  Then again, this may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm a law student who likes words and definitions.

Missing out
There is something my 10-year-old brain missed: that's there's an incredible amount of joy in life, and it's OK to enjoy it!  That's something that [most] kids understand.  They have an innocence about them that can appreciate the small things.  But somehow, we lose that.  We have been sinned against, and we have sinned, and we have grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Now, if you run with the Chesterton quote too far, you'll probably end up with some funky theology.  However, it gives a great counter-point to what many conceive as mature, adult living.  We become cogs in a machine.  We wake up, brush our teeth, drive to work, clock in, clock out, drive home, veg on the couch, and go to sleep.  We forgot the excitement in life.  We're missing out.

I believe this is one of a myriad of reasons why we must come to Christ with the faith of a child.  Why we must be reborn.  Why Christ gathers the children to himself and fiercely protects them.  Because there is an appetite in infancy that aligns with the Divine Nature.  Because there is maturity in childishness.

Men v. Boys

Recently, my friend brought my attention to an article describing "Why You Need a Man, Not a Boy."   (Disclaimer: NOT a magazine/ website I would read on my own! hahaha)  To be sure, the article's title drew me in.  There is a dearth of men in the church.  There are too many boys playing "grown up" without really becoming grown ups.  And we ladies need to be able to tell the difference.

Boys: A Spineless, Pale, Pathetic Lot

However, how do we describe "boys," and how do we describe "men"?  An excerpt from the article describes the difference this way:

Men know what they want. Men own alarm clocks. Men sleep on a mattress that isn’t on the floor. Men buy new shampoo instead of adding water to a nearly empty bottle of shampoo. Men make reservations. Men go in for a kiss without giving you some long preamble about how they’re thinking of kissing you. Men wear clothes that have never been worn by anyone else before.

What I was used to was boys. Boys are adorable. Boys trail off their sentences in an appealing way. Boys get haircuts from their roommate, who “totally knows how to cut hair.” Boys can pack up their whole life and move to Brooklyn for a gig if they need to. Boys have “gigs.” Boys are broke. And when they do have money, they spend it on a trip to Colorado to see a music festival.

Getting Down to Business

So basically, according to the article, men are financially stable, have jobs, take action, and are sure of themselves.  Boys are the opposite.  Ladies, is this what we're going for?  Are we really going to define a "man" as someone who is successful and confident?  If you're not successful or confident, sorry- you're not a man.


That seems like a lot of pressure to put on the guys.  The economy kind of sucks right now, and a lot of good people are without jobs.  Does not having a job make a guy any less of a man?  (Does having a job make a guy any more of one?)

And plenty of guys don't have problems with their confidence- but maybe they should.  There are words for guys who are over-confident and inflate their egos, and these guys aren't "men."  In fact, I think that there's a good argument that it's the guys who aren't sure of themselves, who second-guess because they want to get things done right- those are the real "men."

Obviously, having a job and knowing what a person wants are indicative of other, very good traits.  I'm just saying that this isn't the measure of a man. 

Making a Man

Before I tear up the article too much, there is one part that I would like to highlight:

At this point you might want to smack me and say: “Are you seriously just another grown woman talking about how she wants a man who isn’t afraid of commitment?” Let me explain! I’m not talking about commitment to romantic relationships.  I’m talking about commitment to things...When men hear women want a commitment, they think it means commitment to a romantic relationship, but that’s not it. It’s a commitment to not floating around anymore. I want a guy who is entrenched in his own life. Entrenched is awesome.

This is an excellent comment from a secular viewpoint, and I have to agree.  Commitment isn't about committing to a person (although, we ladies would like that), but it's about a personality that can commit.

I want to push the definition, though.  It's easy to commit to something.  A person can commit to any number of things.  But does he follow-through?  Is he willing to sacrifice for the things/ people he commits to?  That, to me is what makes a man.  I don't want someone who is entrenched in his own life.  I want someone who is entrenched in the lives of others.

No greater love is this: that a man lay down his life for his friend.  If we ladies are looking for a man who will love and serve us the way Christ loved the church (and died for her!), the distinguishing quality isn't whether or not he has a job, or whether or not he has confidence, or even whether or not he can commit.  The distinguishing quality is whether he has the sort of personality that is willing to sacrifice.

Boys want a great number of things.  Men will sacrifice to achieve those goals.  He will make sacrifices to hold down a job, to pay the rent, to commit to a church, and commit to a woman.  Ironically enough, the thought of making that sacrifice should shake a man's confidence.  But the man of God isn't confident in his own strength, he is confident in the strength that God gives.  God's strength is made perfect in weakness for us all.

Are there too many boys and not enough men?  Absolutely.  Do I think this will become the downfall of society and the church?  Not at all.  Because God's strength is made perfect in weakness, and as boys understand and fall in love with Christ, who sacrificed himself for them, I believe that they will, in turn, be able to understand and emulate (albeit imperfectly) that sacrificial attitude in the other areas of their lives.  It's not about success and confidence, but rather the state of a person's heart.

(But having the strength of a raging fire won't hurt)

In Closing...

Ladies: what are you looking for (or have found) in a man?
Guys: did I get it right?  What's your take?
Bloggers: do you ever wonder which "real-life" friends/ acquaintances have made their way to your blog and hope that certain ones never do?  #awkward

How to care for your law student

Dear Sir or Madam:

Congratulations on your recent acquisition of a Law Student.  Please keep in mind that Law Students need a lot of love and care, but if you take the right steps, you can ensure that your Law Student continues to be strong and healthy.

Step 1: Ensure your Law Student is well-watered
Over the course of the year, your Law Student may make harmful decisions that leave it dehydrated.  Or it might simply fail to remain hydrated as the result of neglect.  Keep your Law Student well-watered and alive.

Step 2: Bring your Law Student into direct sunlight for a couple hours a week.
When your Law Student is not spending time with you or is making harmful decisions that leave it dehydrated, it is probably locked away in the basement of some building, surrounded by book stacks.  The only light it receives is of the Fluorescent variety, as well as the glow of a laptop.  If you are not careful, your Law Student may develop a Vitamin D deficiency or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), even if it is in Southern California.  Your Law Student may take some convincing, but take it outside every so often to remind it that what the open sky looks like.  However, do not leave your Law Student outside for extended periods of time.  Due to the amount of time your Law Student spends indoors, it cannot absorb too many UV rays at once and will likely burn.

Step 3: Speak to your Law Student
This may seem silly, but when you speak to your Law Student, your Law Student will soak up your words like Oxygen.  Law Students work with words 24/7.  They live and breathe words.  But many of the words they are surrounded by are dry, uninspiring, and lifeless if not bitter, anxiety-ridden, and virulent.  Speak gently and lovingly to your Law Student and breathe life into its lungs.

If you continue to take these steps, your Law Student will continue to thrive.  Furthermore, if you play your cards right (and your Law Student does not go into Public Interest), your Law Student may reward you with lots of green.

Take care, and enjoy,


I find ways to relate to people.  Or maybe they relate to me.  Anyhow, I end up hearing a lot of people's stories.  I have an ear for that.  And for those who know my own story, they have an ear for what I have to say.  We suffer so that we may support.  We endure so we can encourage.  I have developed entire relationships around this concept, and I do believe counseling is or can become a gift of mine as a result.

Sometimes, however, you find a story so great and troubling, that you do not know what to do.  Maybe it's a widespread global violation of a human right.  Maybe the individual is trapped by insurmountable circumstances.  Maybe it's a medical condition or other specialized problem to be handled by professionals but not by yourself.

There are so many things I want to do.  So many things I want to fix, but so many things are unfixable.  A very dear family friend is in surgery for cancer as I type this.  Another dear friend experienced lives across the country and experienced harassment at his own church.  Shoot, my own unsaved grandfather is in the hospital, and I have very little means of communicating with him and my family due to a language barrier.

Too much to do, and too little that can be done.  If I had a nickel for every time I asked someone for counsel and they looked at me, dumbfounded, and said, "Wow, I don't know what to say," or "Wow, that's tough," or "Wow, I probably would have sinned in your situation, so you're a better person than me.  Hang in there," I would be freaking rich by now.

Doing v. Fixing
However, I have been given a wealth of experience, and I will not be looked down upon because I am young.  I've been on both sides of the counseling table, and I know how this works.  So often we feel like doing equates with fixing and that's the first mistake.  Don't mix up the two.  Doing is listening and understanding, exhorting and encouraging, and praying.
  • Listening and understanding: Just be a friend.  That's it.  Listen and see from their perspective.  Don't even say anything.  Just sit.
  • Exhorting and encouraging: Do this AFTER Step 1.  You won't be able to encourage your friend if you don't know what they're struggling with and why.  But every struggle involves some sort of doubt, worry, and/ or lie.  Scripture is Truth.  Speak the truth in love.  (But part of loving is listening and encouraging first.)
  • Praying: It astounds me that people don't consider praying to be doing.  So often I hear the phrase, "I wish I could do more, but I'll pray."  PRAYING IS DOING!  What better way to do than to give the situation to the One Person who can actually change both external circumstances and internal realities.  Praying is doing.
Next Steps
Of course, after doing the above, perhaps the answer to prayer is some sort of intervention.  If you are called to intervene in a situation, than by all means, do so.  Don't sit back and say "Well, I've already done all this other stuff.  My job is done."  This isn't an excuse for laziness or shirking responsibility.  Do anything and everything you can.  Just start with the right definition of doing.


It's the question that haunts us for most of our childhood:
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Then we go to high school:
Where are you going to college?  What will you major in?

Then in college:
What are you going to do with that degree?

Then after college:
What will you specialize in? 

Then at every single social event you ever go to for the rest of your life:
So, what do you do?

Not that there's anything wrong with the questions.  It's just become a part society and polite conversation.  But the questions are a bit obnoxious.  And if we're not careful, we can let these questions and social niceties become something more: we can let them change the way we see the world.

These questions presuppose that we're supposed to know everything about our lives.  We're supposed to have a plan.  A direction.  We're supposed to 100% know what we're going to do and where we'll be five years from now.  There's something to be said about planning for the future and being purposeful in life, to be sure.  At the same time, this planning-in-advance can easily become the idol of Control.  And the idol of Control leads to the idol of Comfort.  The internal dialogue goes something like this: Quite frankly, I want to live a comfortable life, and the more I control, the more I can make my dream of comfort a reality.  Therefore, I will plan and plan and plan and implement that plan at any cost.  After all, I know what's best for me.

The other thing these questions presuppose is a certain idea of success.  We plan and implement plans because that's what it takes to become successful.  And we need to become successful because successful people are important.  They make something of themselves.  And those who can make something of themselves can really become someone.


Something I learned through adversity is that each individual has tremendous value: this isn't self-confidence believe-in-yourself hogwash, but rather this value comes from God Himself.  Every person has a reflection of the divine nature, a reflection of God Himself.  Above and beyond that, every Christian has been declared worthy by Christ Himself.  It does not matter what we do or what we plan.  We don't have to make something of ourselves to become someone.  God has already "made much" of us, and there's really nowhere further "up" the ladder we can climb.  We're already there.

Our Feelings are Wrong

Furthermore, a friend recently reminded me that God isn't locked-into our plans or lack of plans.  This seems basic and dumb, but it was a timely reminder, all the same.  In this crazy thing called life, we may feel trapped by certainties that won't go away, or by uncertainties that plague our minds.  But either way, our feelings are wrong.  God is never trapped.  Ever.

Related Posts: Asking the Wrong Questions 

Random Thoughts

I don't really have a cohesive post today, but instead I'll share some of the things I've been thinking about.

1) A lot of people rely on me for prayer for very important things. Others have always been faithful to pray for me, but do I return the favor? And as I expand my "circle," I add more people and more relationships to my life. I am truly blessed to be in community again, but that also carries with it the responsibility to minister to others.

2) Unexpected/ unplanned conversations with people are fun and beneficial.

3) A word of wisdom or encouragement can come from any number of sources. (See #2)

4) It's easy to become paralyzed when overwhelmed. The trick is to start somewhere. Then keep going. I didn't know how to study for one of my classes, but I started with the first issue and worked my way from there. I showed my professor this morning, and he was really impressed with my work. I didn't start off planning to make something fantastically amazing, but if I didn't start, the opportunity for "fantastically amazing" would never have come.

5) The flip side of #4 is sometimes we need breathers. The trick is to have productive breathers that are actually relaxing instead of just vegging in front of the TV or computer and then feeling guilty afterwards. Last night, I finished my reading for class and then decided to take the rest of the evening off, guilt-free. I sat down with a Dorothy Sayers book and was rewarded.

6) I'm fairly certain the "perfect man" is British. And fictional. (See Dorothy Sayers in #5)

Willing Spirit, Unresolved Mind


The following is a guest post from a younger friend of mine, Setsuna, who I have had the privilege of knowing for a number of years.  As both a writing and spiritual exercise, I encouraged my friend to write a series of devotionals.  This is the first of what will hopefully be many to come.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12 – 13

The world is an unfair place. Think about it: countless children are born to abusive and/or neglectful parental figures, several people live homeless because they have no means of earning adequate cash, and many people are sent overseas for the sake of human trafficking even to this day.

Likewise, sometimes people who seem to be the most heartless in the entire world tend to be at the top of their game. Countless dictators and warlords have successfully conquered lands and claimed hundreds of lives throughout the history of our planet. Sometimes, people have to take the blame for others who get away with their own misdeeds. The kid who sits next to you in class might always talk to you after your teacher says “no talking”, and then when you respond just to get the other person to quiet down, you’re the only one who gets caught.

All this really makes you wonder: do people really get what they deserve? Where’s the karma in this world?

Truth is, on this side of our lifetime, there really isn’t an answer to that. I know that would be an answer that NOBODY wants to hear, but truth is, the world is run by unfair and imperfect people. There’s a reason why utopic literary pieces are always listed under “fiction”. It’s because a society made up of perfect people is non-existent in our war-torn, sin-infected world. However, one can always rest assured that one day, they *WILL* live in an actual utopia (yes – a REAL-LIFE, ACTUAL UTOPIA!). And only one condition is required…

The sole condition is to surrender your heart to the Lord. When you have God on your side, there is nothing that can stand in your way of a better future. Even if your good future seems like it will never come, remember that it will come in eternity someday. When you’re on the other side, you will see this better than you ever will before.

Not only will surrendering your heart to God promise you a good future, but it will also promise you hope. When all else fails, the Lord will be there. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, but that’s because we’re human. Humans generally focus on the here-and-now, since that’s what they’re currently going through, and a lot of us get too wrapped up in our temporary, physical lives to think much about our eternal lives.

Remember: your life is but a tiny pebble in the universe when compared to eternity. Where you will be when that day comes is much more important than where you are right now. If you’re fretting, you may be thinking, “how can I ultimately get through this and to where I want to go?” Instead, try thinking, “how can I use what I’m currently given to bring glory to God in the long run?”

The End of Suffering

Sorry for going off-grid.  I normally write my posts on the weekends, but the majority of this weekend was spent "on the go."  I figure that now is a good time for a couple of guest posts.  This one is by Alex F.  Though he sent this to me awhile back, as I re-read it, I feel ministered-to all over again.  The Truth of Scripture truly is timeless and applicable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in all righteousness.  Praise be to God!

Have you noticed how difficult it is to see the end of a struggle when you are in the midst of it?  It seems like once you hit the floor, just lifting your head is unbearable.  Okay, maybe that is a bit too melodramatic and poetic, but it’s true!  When you are in the thick of things, one of the greatest problems is not seeing how it could ever end.  There are about a million sermon illustrations for this idea.   One memorable illustration is of the swimmer embarking on an epic swim across the English Channel who gave up when the fog rolled in and obscured the opposite  shore.  They no longer could see the goal, no longer could see how close they were to the end, and they gave up. It wasn’t until it was all over that they saw just how very close they were to the end.  They would have finished if only they had persevered.  See, a good lesson for all of us, if only knowing there is a problem equated solving that problem.

This all comes to mind because I decided to take a moment out of my day (just a moment, mind you) to take stock of how my week has gone so far.  It was a tiring and stressful week mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Finally it was over and pretty much the culmination of all that and a return to normalcy, or as normal as I can get, anyway.  And I thought, how did you get here, Alex?  I thought back to the beginning of the week and how utterly exhausting it was.  Only by prayer, perseverance, and the grace of God, I made it through.  And although my circumstances really didn’t change throughout the week, no other subsequent day was as difficult as that first. 

However, I distinctly remember thinking on that first day, “I can barely make it through today, I will never last like this.  It is unbearable and it will not end.”  There was no reason I thought this trial should or would ever end.  I prayed that it would, but I hardly believed God would answer my prayers.  But, in the moment, it was enough just to know that He heard them.  Now, looking back, He clearly did answer my prayers because after that first day I wasn’t faced with the thoughts, accusations, and feelings that had discouraged me so.  And in God’s wisdom and grace those trials did not leave me empty handed.

 Now, looking back, the word I hear from God is that our suffering lasts but a little while.  Though we cannot always see it, there is an end.  And it is more than just an end, but is the hope for a new beginning in the fullness of life in the hope of Christ Jesus.  So persevere!  Draw on the strength of the Spirit and put one foot in front of the other.  The goal is at hand!

I could have used that encouragement earlier this week, to correct my hopelessness.  God does meet us in our suffering, and this is the joyous Truth that got me through my struggle More importantly, though, He is our deliverer.  He is mighty to save us from our struggles and sins, trials and temptations.  He is faithful and true to deliver us to Himself.  Though the trial may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.  And no matter how long the night lasts, a day, a year, a “season” or even the rest of your life: God is mighty to save.  He will lead His children home and He will wipe away every tear and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Current Playlist

Dear friends,

This week has been particularly challenging for me on personal, professional, and familial fronts.  Please keep my family and I in your prayers, as there are challenging times ahead.  The following are some songs that I find particularly uplifting, and I thought I would share in hopes that they would speak to you in your own individual circumstances.

God bless you all.


"Our God in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name above all names
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us today our daily bread;
Forgive us weary sinners.
Keep us far from our vices, and deliver us from these prisons."

The House You're Building


The Coldest Heart

Your Love is Strong

My prayer life kinda sucks.

(depone of flickr, CCSA2.0 and re-released under CCSA3.0)

(luckily my friends are really Christ-like)

The Answer is Christ

1 Colossians 1:15-23

He is the image of  the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

When we don't understand what we can't see: Christ is the image of the invisible
When we feel worthless: Christ is the One through whom we were made
When we feel purposeless: Christ is the one for whom we were made
When our world is falling apart: Christ holds all things together
When we feel far from God: In Christ dwells the fullness of God
When we are at war: Christ makes peace
When we were dead: Christ died to give us life
When we are sinful: Christ presents us holy
When we are filled with shame: Christ declares us above reproach
When we are buffeted by lies: Christ is our stable and steadfast rock
When we are discouraged and dismayed: Christ gives us hope

Sorry, God. I'm not that "type."


Two weeks ago, a commenter responded to my post on how Meekness really is like being a doormat, and I have been spending my time this week addressing some of the commenter's concerns.

First, I answered the question of whether meekness is a requirement for salvation.

Next, I answered the question of what meekness is, exactly.

Today, I am addressing the commenter's third question, which I rephrased the question to read:

"Does a person have to change their fundamental personality in order to fulfill the command to be meek or gentle?"

Like the first question posed on Monday, this hits on a very important aspect of the Christian faith that goes beyond our discussion of meekness and gentle

The issue is this:
God tells me to be A, but I'm more like B.  A and B are incompatible.  Is God telling me I have to change who I am?  Isn't God supposed to accept who I am and leave me be?

"That's just not who I am."

Have you ever told God, "That's just not who I am"?

Someone told me this argument once.  She used it as an excuse for screaming at, scratching, and physically attacking her child in anger.  (As a legal aside, at the time of this revelation by the mother, the child was grown and well out of harm's way.)

Her argument was, "I am an angry person.  This is just who I am.  Sure, I might not be the best Christian.  And I might not be the best parent.  But this is who I am, and I've reached a state of peace with myself.  God will have to accept me for who I am."

Yikes.  But while it's easy to blame this woman and point at her extreme response, don't we do the same thing?

God, I'm an impatient person.  I want results, and my employees don't live up to the expectations required by this office.  You want me to be patient, but I'm not that type.

God, I'm a meticulous person.  I want to plan out every aspect of my life.  I'm just being careful and looking ahead.  You want me to have faith and trust your Sovereign plan, but I'm not that type.

God, I'm A.  You want me to be B, but I'm not that type.


In one sense, these excuse-plainations have a point.  We are that type.  In fact, the Bible says so.  We are fallen.  We are sinners.  Our natural flesh is spiritually dead.  We are angry, impatient, and faithless.

In another sense, these statements are completely false.  Yes, we are fallen sinners, but we have been saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our natural flesh is spiritually dead, but we have been made alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-6) We have been raised from the dead.  We have been given a heart of flesh to replace our hearts of stone. (Ezekiel 11:19) We are new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We have been made new!

We can become that type of person God wants us to be.

God loves you too much to leave you where you are.

God loves us.  He came to us, took on human form, and died for us.  He extended forgiveness and salvation and holiness and adoption to us.  He loved us while we were yet sinners, but he doesn't want us to stay in our sin. (Romans 5:8)

We were once dead IN sin, but now we are dead TO sin. (Romans 6)

Don't waste your newfound life.  Why live as defeated individuals, when we are "more than conquerors" in Christ Jesus? (Romans 8:37)

The Christian is linked to Christ.  A metaphor describing this relationship is that Jesus is the "vine," and we are the "branches" extending from Him. (John 15:1-17) When we are connected to Him, we "bear fruit."  This "fruit" includes the characteristics I discussed on Wednesday: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.

Why?  Because Christ loves us.  In His wisdom, he knows that the best thing for us is to be as connected to the Best Person in the universe.  And we cannot be connected to Christ without being changed by Him.  He won't let us stay where we are, and quite frankly, we won't want to.

So what if you're A?  You might not become B overnight.  You might not even ever become B.  It might not be easy.  It might not be fun.  But Christ will empower you to stop acting like A and start becoming like Him, and you won't regret it.

What is meekness?

Continuing from Monday's discussion of meekness and salvation, I will now address the second question our commenter posed:

Does meekness mean we have to be gentle?

 Well, let's look at some verses on meekness:
  • Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man on earth.  However, it doesn't really tell us what made him meek, so this is marginally helpful.
  • Psalm 45 mentions someone who "rides out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness."  I find this interesting because meekness is not something we generally associate with victory, yet there is a clear connection between the two here.
  • Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 both mention that the meek will inherit the earth, but still not actual definition of meekness.  This lets us know that meekness is a quality to be desired, but still doesn't entirely tell us what meekness is.
These other verses are a bit more helpful
  • 2 Corinthians 10:1 gives a description of Paul, who invokes the meekness and gentleness of Christ.  He lumps the two qualities together: meekness AND gentleness.  Also, he also launches into a discussion of humility, boldness, and confidence.  This discussion seems to indicate that all these qualities are related.
  • Colossians 3:12 gives a list of traits that the believer should develop: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.
Now I have to admit that my understanding of meekness is not purely based on these verses alone, but rather that my belief is consistent with these verses.

One cannot exhibit meekness without first coming from a place of strength.  I find Christ's example and also the example of God/ the King in Psalm 45 to be compelling in this area.  One must choose to become meek, but if a person is simply weak, he does not have the liberty to make that choice.  However, if someone who is strong chooses to become weak for the sake of another, I would then call that quality "meekness. "

Borrowing from the language of 2 Corinthians 10, when someone chooses to become weak, he does so because he is confident in himself and in God and makes this bold choice on the basis of 1) who he believes he is in God regardless of how others interact with him and 2) his heart for others.  In this way, Christ (who was himself God), Paul (who had direct revelation from Christ), and Moses (who spoke with God Himself) all exhibited meekness in their dealings with very stubborn and very sinful people.

Meekness is often coupled with gentleness because there really isn't any other way to be meek.  Meekness will necessarily express itself in a gentleness toward others.  Christ humbled himself and chose a position of weakness out of his heart for humanity and the lost.  He could have come to us in judgment, but he came to us in gentleness.  This is why Colossians 3:12 mentions the list that it does: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.  How can you have one without the other?  They are all in the same "family" of traits.  But, really, it can be said that they are also all manifestations of love.  That's why these three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest commandment is to love God and love one another.  While obeying God's commandments are not a requirement for salvation, remember that those who love Jesus will obey his commands.  And as we grow in Christ, we will develop Christ-likeness.  No greater love is there than this: that he lay down his life for his friend.  In this, Christ is our example and our guide.  Just as Christ loved us and came to us in meekness and showed us gentleness, so also should we strive to love and meekly show gentleness toward others.

Dialogue with a commenter


Like most bloggers, I check my blog stats from time to time.  It lets me see which posts work, which ones don't, and which ones get Google hits.  Apparently the search terms "Jesus was not a doormat" and "meekness does not mean weakness" are rather popular, which has made this post (and personal favorite) my top searched-for post.

I have been wanting to expand on that post because there is a ton more I could say, so it was only a matter of time before someone posted a question in the comments:

does meekness mean that we have to be gentle.........what if one is the kind of person that is not d quiet i have to be meek before i can make heaven.

These are all excellent questions.  Instead of answering in the comments like I normally would, I will go ahead and answer in a series of posts for the rest of the week.  This way, I can give a longer and (hopefully) more accurate answer, as well as open up the floor for any other readers who would like to chime in.

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation or list of Scriptural references, so again, any contribution to the discussion in the comments would be much appreciated.

The Breakdown

The comment basically asks three questions: 1) What is the difference between meekness and gentleness; 2) Does a person have to change their fundamental personality in order to fulfill the command to be meek or gentle; 3) Is meekness a requirement to go to heaven.

Today, I will start with Question 3 because I think it is the most important, and I will leave the other two for later.

Requirements for Salvation

While the subject of this question is meekness, this addresses a broader question.  What is required to go to heaven?  There are a lot of commands in the Bible.  On top of those commands, there are a lot of additional demands that seep in from the Church.  Where does one stop and the other begin?  Where does salvation come into place?

Acts 16:31 says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"

Romans 10:9 says "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

From these verses we learn that salvation involves a special sort of belief about Jesus and God that affects one's heart (believe in your heart), recognizes Christ's victory over sin and death (that Jesus was raised from the dead), and recognizes Jesus' Sovereignty over our own lives (calling him "Lord.")

To relate back to the question, those who are "saved" are the ones who go to heaven.

Now nowhere in these verses does it say that one must believe in Jesus AND be meek.  Or believe AND anything else.  (There is another verse dealing with baptism, but that would constitute a post of its own.)  With the exception of baptism, however, nowhere in the Bible does God give a requirement that says one must "believe AND" do anything else.

Jesus is sufficient in all things.  He saved us when we were sinners, and, yes, we will still have sin when we go to heaven.  This means that none of the "saved" are going to be kicked out of heaven for not being meek.

A Laissez-faire faith?

However, part of Salvation is recognizing Jesus' Sovereignty.  Furthermore, the point at or process through one is saved is when God's Spirit "enters" the life of the believer.  The new believer becomes a new creation- the old has gone, and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  For this reason, it is expected that the new creation will not live according to old habits- the believer has been saved by Christ and loves Christ, and those who love Christ are also those who obey His commands.  (Ephesians 4:21-24, John 14:21).  Furthermore, "faith without works is dead." (James 2:14).

Note the language: if someone is a believer, then he will exhibit these traits.  The believer is a new creation, puts aside the old state of sinning, puts on a new attitude that desires to please God, loves and obeys Christ, and exhibits a faith that also includes works.  These are signs of believers, not requirements for believers.

No one is perfect, but we are running the race set before us and striving for the prize that draws us heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)  Being drawn heavenward means becoming closer to Christ, and part of this process is allowing the Spirit to work in our lives and exhibit signs of Christ-likeness.

The A of Q&A

Wednesday, I gave commenters the opportunity to ask questions that I would respond to today.

Floyd of But By The Grace of God asked:

What is the biggest event to happen in your life that brought you closer to God or set you on the path to where you are now?

Great question!  Now can you define "event"?  Sometimes a single day or moment impacts us forever.  Sometimes it is a certain experience that impacts us, but this experience was spread out over the course of a period of time.

My time spent serving at and being ministered to at my old church in West LA was one of these types of experiences.  It was the first church experience that I could really say was "mine."  I experienced what it was like to live in close community with other believers, what the "one anothers" were, and what they looked like.  I was able to open up to others: learn to trust and be trusted, learn to love and be loved.

This experience brought me closer to God by bringing me closer to the people in His church.  The Holy Spirit resides in each person, and when multiple people come together to minister to each other, the Holy Spirit does the ministering.  Church community is a great and beautiful thing because when one ministers to another within the church, it is an expression of the presence of God Himself.

As to other, more singular discrete events that brought me closer to God, I have to attribute a lot of spiritual growth to an unlikely combination of books.  The first was John Piper's Desiring God, which I read in the end of high school.  The second was Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, which I read as a freshman in college.

Although they are vastly different in authorship, tone, and content, these two books helped me see and understand a sort resides in the Christian faith.  I learned that Christianity was a beautiful and intricate thing, and that I could find joy in serving God and marveling at the complexity and grandeur of His plan for mankind.  I learned to be baffled and amazed.  I learned awe and zeal.  It is not that these things were previously lacking in my faith, but these books definitely developed those responses in me in a way that has impacted the way I interact with and think about God.

How about you?  What event(s) brought you closer to God?  Answer in the comments!

Q & A!

A couple days ago, a commenter left a few questions at the end of one of my posts.  I would like to take a week or so to write out a thorough response as a separate post/ post series, so in the meantime I won't be coming out with new material for the blog.

Instead, I'd like to open up the floor to you, the readers.  Do you have any questions for me?  It can be about anything at all: life, spirituality, Christian education, law school, living with a stigmatized medical issue, my favorite fish recipes, etc.  The only rule is that if you ask a question, you have to either answer the same question or tell a random fact/ story about yourself.

Ask in the comments, and I'll answer on Friday!

Verses for the discouraged

If I take into account the dream this morning that left me in a cold sweat, it seems I was carrying a lot more anxiety than I thought I was.  Spiritually, I have been struggling for quite some time on a number of fronts, and it just seemed I was getting nowhere.  Somewhere along the line, I stopped reading the Word- funny how that happens, as that's probably the worst thing to do.

I finally picked up the Bible this morning.  Going back to my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan wasn't going to cut it given the amount of time I skipped, so I went to Colossians.  Nothing like reading through an epistle to get back in the habit, again.  When I did, Colossians 1:11-13 really stuck out to me  Power when I feel powerless. Strength and might when I feel weak.  Paul's prayer for the Colossians is easily one I can pray for myself.  It also reminded me of Philippians 4:4-7:

The verses are really quite similar. Take a look (color-coded for your convenience):

Combining these verses, God gives strength and power to endure with joy.  We may rejoice because the Lord is at hand and has delivered us from darkness.  God has done so much for us.  We are drawn into closeness with Christ and are given peace with God.  We therefore can be at peace with our circumstances and respond in thanksgiving.

What comforting promises!  What verse(s) has/ have encouraged you in a time of spiritual drought? 


(eqqman of flickr, CC2.0)

It's hard to maintain the semblance of a facade of being in control when you're sitting alone in your apartment contemplating half a dozen life decisions that need to be made in the next week, while your broken toilet flushes itself every five minutes. (A hypothetical situation, of course.)


(Tommy Nguyen of flickr, CC2.0)

And what of the sleep of colorless green dreams?

Anatomy of a curl: all or nothing


(stelogic of Stock.xchng)

I discovered that I don't like casino gambling.  Maybe this is something I should have figured out about myself beforehand, but I also have a "try everything once" mentality (within reason).  So when I got dragged to the casino with my extended family, I decided to gamble a bit to see what the hype was about.  Suffice to say, I did not see what the hype is about.  It's not a "moral turpitude" thing for me; I just didn't find it entertaining.

It's not that I lost money- I did not gamble more than I was willing to spend- but rather I hate risking resources on a pursuit with little purpose and little probability of gain (no matter large the potential).  Earlier I said that one of my mottos was "Take chances, make mistakes and get messy."  I still stand by that sentiment!  But certain chances are worth taking and others aren't.

I took a chance switching career paths because I found a cause I believed in.  I take chances in my relationships because vulnerability and trust go hand-in-hand.  I take chances with my faith because I know that whatever God has for me goes beyond my ability to see.  But gambling?  No thanks.  It doesn't jive with my personality.

Do you gamble (figuratively or literally)?  Under what circumstances?  What motivates you to take risks?

Telling Stories

Continuing from Monday, when we experience trauma, heartbreak, or disappointment, we cannot change the past.  Maybe something we did spiraled out of control.  Maybe we never had control to begin with.  Either way, the past is set in stone.  There's no going back.  What we can do, however, is choose how to respond.

This has been something that has been on my mind, but watching Kung Fu Panda 2 with my family this weekend really put my thoughts into words.

Your story may not have such a happy beginning but that doesn't make you who you are, it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.

You got to let go of the stuff from past, because it just doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.

Our lives tell stories, but whose?

Many let "life" dictate their stories.  Their circumstances define them.  The people in their lives define them.  Their tragedies define them.  

Others choose to tell their own stories.  As these quotes from KFP2 indicate, these people respond to the past by choosing to write their futures.

However, I believe there is a third choice.  Maybe it's a lifetime of fighting circumstances I can't overcome.  Maybe it's my more recent incident of coming down with Tourette Syndrome.  Maybe it's a personality thing.  It's probably a bit of the above.  I choose option three.  I won't merely be a victim of my circumstances, but I don't believe in writing story, either.  It's not that I won't.  I can't.  I'm a poor author.  I'm Moses, in the desert with sheep and a bad stutter.

There is a turning-point.  That point at which a person decides not to let life toss them in every-which-direction.  But I also believe that I'm not the person to take back control.  There's a better person for that job.  It's not my story, and it's not about me.  It's all about God.  It's His story, and I'm just a part of that.  Whatever story he wants to tell with my life- I've decided that I'm OK with that.  In the moments that I'm not- and they come- I decide that I will be OK with it.  

There is a difference in simply allowing life to happen, actively authoring one's life, and actively allowing the Great Author the room to write.  Don't confuse the three.  The journey itself is a story, but it's one worth telling.

Setting Fires

After reading AWP's post last week, I took another look at Adele's song, "Set Fire to the Rain." Or ten. I think it's one of my favorite songs now!

"Set Fire to the Rain" has become a personal anthem of mine because it speaks to my experiences. People will disappoint us, and it will hurt. We may cry. But we may use that pain to motivate us. We can set fire to the rain.

However, raw motivation is a two-edged sword, something I saw demonstrated in Kung Fu Panda 2, when I watched this weekend. In the movie, both the protagonist and the villain experienced trauma in their pasts. Both use those experiences to motivate them. Both set fire to the rain.

Fire, however, has two natures. The villain harnesses the power of gunpowder to forge a (quite literal) path of fiery destruction. The protagonist, however, uses his newfound motivation to protect those he loves, like a warm campfire preserving life in the wilderness.

Pain is powerful, but even more powerful is the resolve that can come from it. Go ahead. Set fire to the rain, but first, ask yourself what kind of fire you want to start.


Photo taken from my Blackberry, and for the first time in my life, I wish I had an iPhone.

Keep your cool

(Credit: tomergabel of flickr under CC2.0 and re-released under CC3.0.)

Taken from an actual conversation between my friend CS and I about job interviews.

Set Fire to the Rain

Today, our fabulous guest poster brings A Writer's Perspective.  When I first met AWP, I didn't quite know what to make of her.  However, after a year of living with her, I felt like I've known her forever.  I love that I can always count on her to bring a fresh and different perspective into the conversation.  (Even if she thinks that making minor references to movies in the fantasy/ sci-fi genres makes her a "nerd" when she can't even remember Samwise Gamgee's name.)

What I love about AWP is that she doesn't mince words.  She's a tell-it-like-it-is person.  No beating around the bush.  A let's get down to business (and defeat the Huns) kinda gal.  The following post reflects this sort of life-approach.  Enjoy!

Set Fire to the Rain

The other day, I was watching “So You Think You Can Dance” – undoubtedly the best show on TV during the summer, but I may be biased because I love dance – and Adele’s song, Set Fire to the Rain came on. The choreographed routine that went with it was alright. It wasn’t anything to write home about. However, Lady Gaga’s critique that followed it was. She said something along the lines of fire being the complete opposite of rain, and how the two create an imagery of separate forces working against each other.

To most people, it seems obvious that… well, fire is the opposite of rain and that the two are opposing forces. Very much like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, or Frodo/the fat hobbit and Sauron [I promise I’m not a nerd… however, live long and prosper]. But I’m the type of person who doesn’t see literary “obviousness”, much like I’m not the type of person to realize anything’s wrong with me until someone points out to me that I’m obviously wrong. In this case, that person telling me something was wrong was Lady Gaga.

OK. So, we didn’t have a heart to heart convo, and she didn’t personally tell me something was wrong. But outside the realm of her critique brought to light an issue that had come up during the year – there was something off about my relationship with God.

Now, my question to you is this: we all go through good and bad times. Now, when it seems like God’s pulled the rug out from under you only to leave you with brokenness, how much of what you do is out of trust that God will lead you out of it? And, how much of what you do is out of spite?

Personally, I belong to the camp that’ll say – without a blink of an eye – that I trust God to lead me out of whatever situation He’s put me in. I trust that He’s put me there for a specific reason, and that I’m there to grow. I trust that. I really do. And, I really believe it. I find that I’m closer to God when I’m hurting – I pray more, I read His words more, I depend on my brothers and sisters more. I’m closer, and He always leads me out of the darkness sooner or later [but never sooner or later than He intends for His purpose].

Well, I find I’m closer to God, except for these little instances. I’m closer, until I find myself driving 85 miles per hour on a 65 mph road. Or, I find myself trying out ciggies even though I don’t smoke. Or, when I go for a three mile run when I have a sprained knee. Or, when I find myself throwing down shot after shot of alcohol, even though I know better. Or, any other time where my actions are reckless and scream out loud, “F*** you, God. Look at what I can do. I can throw my own life away, even though You saved me. I’m taking back the control. How do you like them apples now?” And, I do this while quoting Romans 5 on church at Sundays.

Talk about things being like fire and rain. Talk about setting fire to the rain.

Now, I know this is the part where I’m supposed to expound some grand knowledge about what I’ve discovered through the Bible. I know I can use alliterate phrases to help you remember what I want to teach you. But I’m not exactly sure what I want to teach you.

Well, except maybe this little tidbit I learned this spring when hope really did lead to perseverance, and where perseverance never failed: during the praying and during the rebellion, God was still with me through it all, and He stayed by my side when it felt like all my dreams and all my hopes and all I’d been fighting for had suddenly vanished. He never leaves, even when I do. And when I return – a blessing from God for pursuing me even though I’m a little turd, and I don’t – it’s always like the first breath of air you take after you think you’re going to drown and die in a deep, dark ocean with no one around you.

Refreshing, like rain is to the fire.