Sunday, June 13, 2004

Seaside Lagoon

Dave, on the way there

Dave, serving it up


Bosco & Tanya

Nobody does it like Sara Lee.

Mm, nice weekend. Crazy week though. See previous post for that whole issue. I guess I neglected to mention that we got everything resolved, in the end. So, at least it's a happy ending. This week's meeting though ... man. I said something and this time Bergie got all worked up. We managed to talk that through too though, at least for now. Man.

Today I was pretty nervous about speaking though, as usual. I guess some things will probably never change. Anyway many people said they were encouraged and felt like it was very heart-felt, so I was really glad.

Yesterday was nice too. Ultimate frisbee was like three-on-four -- tiring but always a good workout. Then I spent about 2.5 hours working out said situation. After that Dave and I headed up to this event in LA that Sara invited me to ... I can never remember what it was called but it wasn't Singles Ignition, which was going on at the same time and was basically a dance; kind of a club scene. Actually Nicole told me today that it was a lot like a club, notably the unfavorable parts, and that she wished she had come to this event instead, had she heard about it. Oh well.

Anyway Dave and I drove up about two hours to Redondo Beach where this thing was held. Actually I drove maybe 45 minutes and then Dave took over because I was zonked out. Yah, yah, some things never change. Anyway it was volleyball and food and games and dancing; Dave and I were mainly there for the volleyball and friends. Lots of fun stuff. Nia was there too, which was great. We caught up a bit and it was cool to see she's doing well despite some challenges and stuff. I also saw Sherry, Sam, Bosco, Anna, Andrew ... it was cool. April, Rey, where were ya'll? Travis was there too, whom I had met before; he was MC actually. Loudly. Like, very loudly. Ouch.

So, I think the best thing was some good conversations with folks. Both Nia and Sara shared some tough things they were going through, which I thought was cool. Sam apparently was to sing in the choir for LA's congregational service today. *chuckle* Hope it went well. It was neat to know so many people.

When it was time to go Dave and I drove Sara home and got to meet her supposedly- effeminate cat George. I also saw Nikole and took a shot at fixing her computer. Dave had to drive most of the way home too, interestingly enough.

As far as today, we had a leaders' meeting in the morning since church was in the afternoon. As the meeting went on and on (and on) I kept thinking about the fact that I hadn't really nailed down what I was going to talk about at communion. I mean I had an idea somewhat but it was still a bit hazy. Then I had it out with Bergie and we were good to go and it was like 12:30pm. I managed to pull things together in about half an hour and I was on the road.

Finally church was over and all of my responsibilities were done. Jason, Carly, Russ and I had already planned to see Chronicles of Riddick as a matinee after church (with Nicole), but we didn't anticipate church taking so long (we watched Pitch Black on Friday night to get psyched up). We decided to go for it anyway and did the ol' "go team!" cheer and jammed out of there. Sara (Burdette) was going to join us but as soon as she found out it was a sci-fi flick she reneged (lame!). We had a really good time ... we went to Island's and Starbucks afterwards and had lots of good laughs.

All that, and I'm still home in time to do my blog. More deep thoughts later.

Communion Notes

I spoke today at church. Here's basically what I said.

What a week. Have you ever had a week where you got everyone upset? It seems like I was getting everyone on my case. We had a meeting, I was frustrated with some things and let some things fly which hurt a few people. And it turns out that we wouldn't be able to talk it through until the end of the week. And I really felt the burden of that all week.

When you are upset with someone or someone is upset with you, isn't it hard spending time with them? It's difficult to look someone in the eye really. Giving in any way -- affection, hospitality, even politeness -- becomes a chore.

What is happening is a spiritual separation. A wall or bitter root will form if it is not dealt with. And if you think about it long enough, you come to understand that any significant separation like this between people affects your relationship with God. How can we be reconciled to God, who we don't see, when we cannot be reconciled to people, who we do see?

What solves this? Looking to the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In one singular instant in time, God reconciled the world to himself. Centuries of prophecy and history culminate to this very event.

At the cross we come to understand that it takes one party to sacrifice in order to bridge that gap. And with God, we see that he has done that, through Jesus.

It was a costly sacrifice, but God considered it worth it. With the cross, God is saying, "I want to be with you."

When you are at odds with someone else, you start to realize that it requires a sacrifice as well to bridge the gap. Someone needs to initiate, someone needs to say, "hey, can we talk about this face to face?" Someone needs the courage to believe that it can be worked out. Someone needs to have enough faith to see that something good can come out of it.

And we see that this is what God has done -- when we were still sinners, he came to us to be reconciled. God was courageous enough to initiate it. God had enough faith to believe that something incredible will come out of this. He thinks we, he thinks YOU, are worth it. He wants to spend time with you, he thinks you are special.

With that, we have the strength to go and be reconciled with each other.

Stuff I didn't end up using:
Reconciliation and friendship with God really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment. -- S. Miller.

Reconciliation defined:
The reestablishing of cordial relations; restoration to harmony; renewal of friendship. Reduction to congruence or consistency; removal of inconsistency; harmony.

synonyms: accord, peace, appeasement
antonyms: deadlock, draw, stalemate, standoff, tie, antagonism, disagreement, discord, dissension, dissidence, friction, strife

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon of a Day

Buca di Beppo

Man, what a day. This morning I was helping out packaging canned foods for a food bank. It was lots of fun; I just hope I don't have nightmares about putting the chicken can on top of the peanut butter jar. Repeatedly. Over and over.

Kat and I hung out for a while in the afternoon which was tons o' fun. And I guess there were a lot of people down here from San Fran to run the Rock 'n' Roll marathon, and Sara wanted me to go out with her friend (Isa)Bella. Thus the pic. We went to Buca di Beppo which was nice and loud but at least the waiter was really cool. Let's see if I remember everyone there: Charles, Tina, Valerie, Bella, Jessica, Angel, ... whoops (Offa?), Sara, Steve. Fun stuff.

Now I am tired. Tomorrow I am having the Talk with the BT. *Fingers crossed*. Let's see how it goes.

Nikki Tran just asked if I wanted to go to Yosemite with him sometime in July. Crazy! July is already getting booked up! This unemployed thing is really taking off.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day Joshua Tree Synopsis


Kristin, Ben, Caroline

Caroline, Kristin, Ben

Caroline, Kristin, Abram, Ben, Vic

Ah, so much. Joshua Tree was a blast. Of hot air that is. I mean, it was ... really hot. It was a lot of fun too. We also ended up talking about some really deep stuff. Like, really deep. Here are the (same) pictures on Ofoto.

I left San Diego on Saturday around 11:30am. It was nice to be able to play ultimate that morning for a bit. With a bit of fussing around we were on the road around 3pm after picking up Abram, convincing Caroline to go and waiting for Kristin to show up. Along the way Ben and I were mostly talking about studying out other religions. He's been studying up on Hinduism a bit, which I thought was very interesting. I am excited to get more well-versed in other religions, and not just from the "Christian" perspective. What I mean is, I've taken a cursory look at other religions before, but always with a critical eye because I was coming from a strong Christian bias. I think I really ought to give them a bit more thorough treatment, and get a chance to hear it from supportive sources rather than just critical ones.

We arrived around 7:30pm and set up camp. Everyone was really helpful so we got dinner and a fire going really quickly. Afterwards we sang songs late into the night. I felt kind of bad because the campsite was nice and cozy with respect to other campers. We must have been about 20 feet away from the next tent. They didn't seem to mind though.

On Sunday the sun came up around 6:30am. Insanity. I'm not much of a morning person, but it was much worse considering the sun turned our tent into a greenhouse instantaneously. Plus we were being kind of loud and I was feeling it for our neighbors. Anyway it worked out fine; we had breakfast and then tried to escape the sun for a while. Ben tried to setup a little lean-to with his hammock but it just wasn't cutting it. Kristin fell asleep in her tent -- it was so hot though I was honestly afraid for her health. So we decided to head into town to escape. We went ghetto and brought our picnic lunch into McDonald's, which was a lot of fun. Then we went to Starbucks to "study". Turns out they had Cranium there, which I thought was very cool. It was Caroline and me against Ben and Abram. I won't mention who won. But I did think it was interesting that Ben mentioned he hadn't lost a game in a looong time. Actually, it was about the closest game I've ever seen.

By this time we decided to head out to the actual Joshua Tree park. After some aimless driving around and finding the slowest entrance booth in creation, we made it to a nice one-mile hike. We saw rocks. And cacti. And dirt. And lizards. And one rabbit. Neat. After that we went to a place called Jumbo Rock. Ben and I managed to climb this pretty steep one. It was quite an accomplishment. Ben almost gave into fear but he battled it valiantly and overcame. That was very satisfying. On the way down we helped Caroline down because she was feeling a bit spooked too. Almost like one of those team-building exercise things. Fun.

After all that we went to another place called Key View where we had a little communion service while the sun set. It was pretty much picture perfect, except the wind was really chilly. Abram shared his thoughts from Matthew 26:69-27:5, comparing and contrasting Peter and Judas. We sang a song, prayed, and passed some bread and juice. It was very cool.

We headed home and started up a late dinner -- around 9pm. After dinner we had quite a discussion on the topic that I have been thinking about for a while -- the idea of being "chosen" or "special" from God's perspective. It was a little difficult getting through sometimes, mostly because I'm still forming a lot of what I'm feeling. The main idea is this: What does it mean to be chosen by God? And how does that relate to the concept that God loves all people equally? I think I'll dedicate another post to this exclusively, actually. Anyway, as far as the conversation went, I ended up getting a little frustrated with Abram because I felt like he was just trying to "fix" me. He backed off after I said something, but I felt bad because the whole mood after that felt a bit more somber. Anyway, this morning Abram apologized to me for not listening, which appreciated a lot.

One thing Caroline asked me was, what prompts you to think about this? And, it was a good question. And I think I just answered off the top of my head, kind of before I really thought about it. But as it was coming out I think it started to sink in.

For most of my Christian walk I have devoted myself to people in such a way that I tried very hard to treat everyone equally. In a sense I denied feeling closer to anyone over another, because in my mind that was playing favorites, and in my understanding, God didn't play favorites, so I shouldn't either.

More recently though, I've realized that it is unrealistically idealistic to feel obligated to "love" everyone equally -- that is, to devote the exact same amount of time, heart, energy, etc. to anyone that God puts in my path. And maybe some of the consequences of my way of thinking is that I never really have developed those really close friendships. Or, at least I haven't really allowed myself to invest more into people that I feel naturally closer to, especially because most of them are far away or married or both. Anyway, so I've changed my way of thinking a bit. But then, what does that mean about God's view of us? Are there people that he feels more close to than others?

The difficult part comes when I realize that, I don't have someone that cherishes me above all others, and who I feel the same way towards. It is a very special manifestation of God's love. We are supposed to say, "God is enough;" in other words, the right answer is to meet this need to feel "special" to someone with God. But the honest truth is, I have a hard time feeling that God thinks that I am "special" in that same way. Imagine someone lamenting, "No one loves me" and someone else responding, "Oh come on, your mother loves you!" Not quite the point.

Anyway, thanks Caroline, for asking. I think it was a good step in the right direction. Unfortunately the mood seemed kind of subdued afterwards. I didn't mean to bring everyone down. After that I was pretty much drained and zonked out pretty quick.

Whew. I made it home today around 4pm and I must say I was pooped. A lot of it was physical, but maybe a bit emotional too. It was quite a lot to chew on. Anyway, good times, stuff, dude, this guy, straight carrots, Ben-cakes, super-sized, grounds-where-kids-play, lizards-that-lounge -- you name it, we had it. A great Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Wednesday, Lost Wages

When I am able to drive somewhere in Las Vegas without calling Kyung, it will be time for me to leave *.

My trip here is almost over. Today I did lunch with James Counts and Kyung and another guy helping James move named Darrell. Jill and I hung out after that a bit at Jamba Juice where she told me her take on the world and culture and how she wants to be the next Connie Chung. Very interesting stuff. Then I did dinner with the Lovgrens which was a blast. Mm, I probably should have taken some pictures. Oh well, next time.

It looks like all the people who moved here from San Diego are doing well. I am pretty encouraged at how people have really settled in. It's good to know that they are being taken care of.

No real progress today on the whole "what to do with my life" situation. I think about it pretty much every day but it doesn't get much clearer. Jill is pretty convinced that God always makes things clear, but I'm not so sure. I tend to think that God will make me figure out things the hard way.

All in all, visiting friends and stuff has been pretty economical. I've paid for maybe one meal for almost this whole week, haha. Okay, Kyung is calling me a night-owl. Tomorrow, it's back to Diego.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Tuesday in Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Today I did lunch with Jenn Graves at a Souplantation rip-off named Sweet Tomatoes or something like that. It was nice. They even had the to-die-for blueberry muffins. Sometime after that I went on a long trek to try to get discount tickets to Mamma Mia, but to no avail. I guess they don't have 10pm shows on Tuesday nights. Oh well, it was a nice walk.

I joined the Counts' bible-talk which was a lot of fun. Aisha, Kobi, Jaxon and Jeric were hanging out watching TV when I got there, and when Jaxon saw me, he said hello, then turned to Aisha and said, "This is my friend Victor." And to that Aisha says, "He's MY friend too." So funny! Afterwards Jaxon asks me, "Can you come over to my house, right now?" and of course I couldn't resist. We went managed to get ourselves to Dairy Queen and have a little treat before I dropped him off at home. Fun fun!

Jenn and I had a discussion about the whole idea of how I feel kind of torn between the idea of just hanging out with people I like to hang out with, versus...well, I don't know. I guess the opposite is doing what I am doing now -- staying in San Diego where I don't really feel that close to people. That's of course an over-generalization. There are plenty of people in San Diego I feel close to, it's just that most of them are married, and there are hurdles associated with that.

Consider this idea: I want to spend time with the people with whom my love is most effective. And then consider this idea: I want to spend time with the people who are the easiest for me to love.

One statement certainly tends to stir more indignation in people than the other. The question is, isn't it the same statement? I've thought a lot over the last weeks about the idea that friendship is equivalent to investing in people. And, I really enjoy the idea of spending time with the people with whom I genuinely like spending time. I just can't help but think that that attitude creates cliques. I guess it is a matter of drawing line somewhere in between. I think I have a hard time figuring out where that line is.

Some scriptures that come to mind:

Luke 6:32 - "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners' love those who love them."

John 21:20-22 - "Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."