28 June 2006 


"so you're gone, but I know you're not so far away
you're a call on the phone or a ride on a plane
but that just isn't the same, but that's okay
cause the older I get the more that life is makin sense
and it's similar to traffic or being president
cause I'm not the one in control"

Why do I always keep coming back to the same songs over and over again? And how can I listen to them and see myself through them in so many different situations? And how has Caedmon's Call managed to write a song to go with almost every stage I've gone through in the last two years?

I am very nostalgic tonight. I want people, a lot of people, or just one person, but both are not to be right now. I was living in the moment, I fear I'm wishing for the future again. Or maybe the past. Either way, it's not where I want to be.

"...and maybe you're the dream I'm waking from,
I see you everywhere I go,
and darling you are such a mystery to me, you know...
don't you know... that love is different than you'd think,
it's never in a song, or on a TV screen,
love is harder than a word said at the right time,
and everything's alright,
love is different than you'd think..."

I'm musing some thoughts very deeply right now. I hate how you almost get an idea out of your head and then someone says something that you can't ignore. Like a sign. Gah. I hate running away from God, and... I miss you.

23 June 2006 

Evangelicals. Uck.

/begin rant.

Evangelicals is becoming a dirty word to me. Not that I have a problem with the word itself, the root of which is evangelism, namely telling people the gospel. The problem I have is with the people who call themselves Evangelicals. What happened to Christians? If you tell me you're a Christian, I know what that means. But if you tell me your an Evangelical, I have no idea. What I hear is that you probably have a weak grip of scripture and you run around like a kid with a sword cutting people with the Word of God. Not in all cases, but in some. Take this quote from a recent L.A. Times article.

"Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life."

Well, kindof. What Jesus actually said to his disciples was "Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Whats the difference you say? Well, Jesus didn't say, "Go tell the gospel to people from every nation." He said to "make disciples." That's a significant difference. And too many (IMO) evangelicals today put far too much on the go and the all nations part and far too little on the "make disciples."

Something that also bugs me is there seeming motivation for all this. They want missionaries in all parts of the world so that Jesus can come back? Um. I really don't think that that's God's will. If Jesus had come to empower us to make his second coming possible, I think he would have mentioned it more in the gospels. These people want so badly the next world, not understanding that the Kingdom and indeed, eternal life, start now. Jesus said, "I come so that you may have life, and have it to the full." It's not a race to heaven, its a race to God, and he's available here and now. Maybe if more evangelicals understood discipleship better, understood God better, this would be better reflected in the world.

"Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, re toast.'"

Strangely enough, this is my favorite quote from the article. This guy actually has a biblical idea, that Jesus is the only way to God. People get ripped on so frequently for saying that, but we can only echo the words of Christ himself. "I am the way the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but through me." So many Christians will eschew that in their theology. "Maybe there are other ways to God," or "Jesus is good, but not for everybody." Christians who say that are making Jesus out to be a liar, and personally I dont want to follow a God who lies. And as harsh as it sounds, this guy has a good reason for wanting to evangelize the world. Because lost people, all people, need Jesus. Or they are "toast."

/end rant.

22 June 2006 

Customer service may still be what it used to...

In light of the recent story of Vincent Ferrari and his ridiculous conversation with an AOL customer service rep, I thought that I would post somewhat of an antithesis to that and tell you about a recent phone call I made to Amazon.com's customer service.

I didn't so much call them though, as they called me. Amazon has this amazing feature where they don't actually list a phone number. They ask for your phone number through a web interface and promise a call when an operator is available. I can't believe that someone didnt think of this sooner. Instead of calling and wading through menus and getting put on hold I just sat here, free to do whatever while I waited their call. I was skeptical at first, but 3 minutes later the phone rang and I was put through to "Rodger." I explained to Rodger the reason for my call. I was just charged $79 to renew my Amazon.com Prime membership (which I was not aware I had) and I wanted to know why and if I could cancel it and get a refund.

Rodger started by explaining why I was charged, apparently some time back I signed up for a 3 month trial for Amazon Prime and never cancelled it. At that point I was sure I was toast, they had my money and I was liable, it was over. To my great surprise it was not over. Rodger looked into my account and found it had not been used since the charge and told me that they would refund my checking account within two business days. That simple. Through all of this Rodger was patient and helpful, and I walked away from it amazed. Good customer service does still exist. Huh.

16 June 2006 

Summer in the City

What a week can do. My first week back in Champaign has been a satisfying one. It hasn't gone too fast, and it hasn't drug on either, it's taken a nice amount of time, I feel like I'm enjoying life here and now, and not being rushed through things. Living in the moment, what a novel idea. Anyway, this week has seen the start of many things. A lot of bureacratic housecleaning, and I'm pleased to say that it appears as if the problems with the school are being resolved. I was assured by several people that my appeal would go favorably and they just approved my withdraw requests for last semester. So praise the Lord eh.

Classes and work also began this week, and so far, so good. Nothing much to report. Work is enjoyable and I think I'll have enough hours to pay all my bills (fingers crossed there) and I found a bus route that makes it really easy to get there and back with a minimal travel time. Classes are going to be interesting, but not very challenging. Almost all my grades are test grades, 80% of my political science class and 60% of my Spanish class. Joy. But neither seems like it will be hard. I'm enjoying the research that I'm doing for my History research class quite a bit. I'm studying the families which were involved in the War of the Roses and writing a paper on the family as a political unit in late medieval England. Which is a good deal more exciting than it may sound, at least it is to me.

For entertainment I've been playing World of Warcraft with Joey and watching the series Firefly on my computer. Firefly has really amazed me so far, great acting, great writing, great dialogue and storytelling. It is a superb series. It's also impressively deep; there are so many themes the show explores, its sci-fi, but also explores themes of family, loyalty, salvation, and mercy. I've been enthralled by it so far, and some of the one-liners it offers are hillarious.

"Do you know what the chain of command is? That's the chain I'm gonna get and beat you with until you understand who's in command here!"

Ha. I love it. Its a ship full of noble pirates, a priest, a prostitute, and a mental patient. Tell me that's not a reciepe for awesomeness. Ye. Ha.

And things with Mary are greatly improved. I think a lot of the confusion that we were going through last week has been resolved. We aren't back together now, but neither are we apart like we were. We've reached a good place where we can move forward with our individual lives and we're going to work on building the friendship side of our relationship while she's overseas and when she returns, we'll see where we stand. I think it will be hard not to be seeing her for the next 6 to 9 months, but I'm trying hard to view it as an oppurtunity to grow in many areas while we are apart.

So, that's my life right now, and probably for the next 2 months. It could be a long time, but it could also be a transformative time also. And I plan on taking it on, hour by hour. Fare thee well friends, adios!

09 June 2006 

What a long strange trip its been.

In the month that's passed since the last entry my life has taken a turn into drama land. One thing after another has tested my faith and endurance and I can say that as I'm coming out of it that (hopefully) that God has been faithful in pouring out his Grace to me. In early April I was a guy who thought he had it all figured out. 6 weeks to graduation... a great girl by my side... and the whole world ahead of me. Then one back injury, breakup, and ten thousand bureacratic nightmares later my life is completely different. I'm bruised and broken down, but at a place where I feel I can see clearly. I think I recognize the grace and faith that God has given me even more clearly when I put things plainly like that. Thats the truth has harshly as I can say it, and when I can say it and still rejoice in where I am this moment I realize the depth of faith that God has given me.

School has been my biggest headache this month. Between trying to straighten out everything that happened during my back injury and get caught up and withdrawn from the classes I needed to drop things were crazy. Then my withdrawls got held up and didn't beat the grades to the dean's office. So I failed 13 of 16 credit hours which prompted the University to drop me not even checking to see that they forms which explained my abscences and withdrawls were already on file in the office that issued the decision to drop me. So I am currently going through a massive appeal so that I can remain a student long enough to pass the 9 hours I need to graduate now. I don't know how that will turn out. If they deny my appeal I will be dropped as a student and have to wait one year to reenroll so I take take 9 more hours. Alternatively I could enroll elsewhere, but I would need 2 years of classes to get the 60 hours that most colleges require to give a degreee from their institution. All in all, a massive headache. There have been times that I just have wanted to hide, to run away and forget school and life, but I haven't. I've appealed and now I'm going back to Champaign to attend classes, with the hope that God will bless that course of action and I will graduate. I can only hope and pray and do my best.

Cedar has been a welcome reprieve, it was a good week I spent here with my chapter after finals. I got to say goodbye in a good subtle way and really release that chapter of my life. There are still people there that I will love and be friends with forever, but I know that that season of our friendship is over. After Focus Week I had a nice weekend in Grand Rapids and Cleveland with Mary. She was amazing during graduation. It's a side of her I seldom get to see, student president Mary Horning. I liked it, she is such an amazing woman and an amazing speaker. She was not only the only person on the stage under 40, she was also the only woman too. I was beaming. After graduation and a day in Cleveland unpacking we headed up to Cedar Campus on Tuesday. The car ride up here was amazing, I've never known someone I can enjoy time with so much. 8 hours passed like the blink of an eye and we saw some awesome little places and spent some time at a couple beautiful beaches before we got here. Our time at Cedar was less wonderful however. We knew that Cedar would be a time of deep examination for us as a couple and we planned on doing a lot of in depth talking, but I wasn't prepared for what happened next.

Following a long conversation on Wednesday night we decided to end, at least temporarily, our relationship. I'm not going to talk about the details here, but it has been a hard few weeks since then. That said, I still love her and she still loves me, and I think that if God intends for us to be married, we will be, and he's leading me to a place to trust Him in this relationship. We've talked several times since then and Mary is still my best friend and I believe that someday we will be together again, but now I'm just learning patience to wait on God's timing.

Cedar has been a good place to be during that time, the people here are different, but attitudes aren't and I've had a lot of good godly people to bounce ideas off of and receive advice from. This place is special, and despite the somewhat painful memories I do have here now, I still love this place deeply. I've used the time to examine much of myself. My goals, me beliefs, my future, my relationships. It's been well used time. I think I could write pages right now one culture and theology, doctrine and Jesus, but I won't just yet. There was a time in my life when it completely revolved around loving God and his Word and doing what he wanted. Over time things snuck in and complicated that and the last two months have systematically stripped all those things away and I have found that place again, with a newfound appreciation for what it means to stay there. For that, I am happy and joyful and eager to give God the praise. We don't grow by being safe and content, and neither are trials meant to break us, only to break the hard and brittle parts of our hearts that Christ means to reform. It hurts, but the rewards are enough recompence.

Until next time, good bye friends.