Tuesday, January 12, 2010

taking the day off

I'm taking the day off of work today. Yesterday we submitted the drawings for the project I've been working on for the last 3+ months, the last 1+ months of which I've been working overtime on. The experience was pretty draining in a lot of ways. This was the first time in 5 years that I didn't just have a month off from mid December to mid January, and it was hard to not be able to hang out with friends or my sister home from school. Though it did make me value the time I did have with friends. Contrary to my personality, if I want to hang out with people, sometimes it has to be scheduled a week in advance.

anyways, I'm going to try and rest mentally and spiritually today. back to work tomorrow

Friday, January 1, 2010

what's next?

2009 had a lot of things happen in it. I finished my thesis, graduated college, moved home, looked for a job, found a job, looked for a new church and found a new church.

so what's next? I know this is a failing of our society, that we're rarely content where we are. We are always looking towards what's to come. But the reality is that I'm not happy where I am.

I'm not doing something I'm passionate about. Part of the problem is that I don't know what I'm passionate about. I'm not passionate about architecture, at least not architecture in the real world. The design-centered architecture of school seems a long way off from the cost-centered architecture of the real world. The last thing I really remember being excited about was the incarnational ministry I was a part of during GUPY. The principles of reconciliation, redistribution and relocation were all things I could get excited about. I just wish I knew how to bring the two together. Architecture and incarnational ministry. I wish I could find some sort of urban redevelopment organization, I wish I could be excited about the work I'm doing.

Hopefully 2010 will bring that, finding a passion that I can pursue, whether it's part of my vocation or something outside of it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I was reading The Naked Gospel today by Andrew Farley and I came across an analogy that I thought was really good. He was talking about how Christ's death and resurrection forgave us once and for all, he then writes...

"Let's say you are a married man. Imagine if every night before you went to sleep, you leaned over to your wife and asked her to marry you. It's just something that would make you feel better - asking her over and over again. It's your way of confirming you're married. So every night you say, 'Honey, will you marry me?' The words you choose are no big deal. It's just semantics. You know you're really married, you just like to ask her over and over.....

...If i were to try this with my wife, she would ask me to reconsider my thought processes: 'Don't you remember the ceremony? the vows? the witnesses? we were married years ago. I have the photo albums right here. It's now a past event. We live in a constant state of being married, there's no need to ask me over and over again if I'll marry you.

It's the same way with our forgiven state. And it's not just semantics. It matters. Have you thought about how many times the epistles urge us to ask God's forgiveness? The answer is zero times. You won't find a single epistle that suggests that we ask God for forgiveness. Why not? Because the writers penned their words after the death of Jesus. They were fully aware of their forgiveness as an accomplished fact."

So i know that was kinda long, but it just continues to strike me how we as humans continue to try and earn our salvation through works or words or ritual. Our forgiveness has been accomplished already. Christ said "It is finished," so why don't we believe him?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

fear of man

So I'm currently sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Chesapeake, Bean There, watching it storm outside and reading. I'm also listening to Pandora, which I've recently rediscovered as being awesome.

Anyways, something I've been thinking about lately as it's come up in sermons at church and in small group discussion has been what my new pastor, Eric, referred to as 'fear of man.' The fear of man being when I let the fear of what others think of me dictate how I act.

This is something I've struggled with most of my life; worrying about how others view me. Never wanting people to dislike me, or think badly of me... I always have to be funny, or smart, or hardworking, or responsible, or any of a million other good things. While I don't think it's inherently bad to be any of these things, I've compromised my integrity on more than one occasion in order to maintain that image. I've laughed at things when I cringe inside, I've argued over a point just to prove myself right, I've used work as an excuse when really just didn't want to do something else.

Why do I put forth this false self? Why do I need people to like me? To think I'm better than I really am? And what's worse, my actions are telling lies about the gospel. In church we talked about Galatians 2 where Paul confronts Peter from withdrawing from the Gentile believers when the Jewish believers arrived. By worrying about what the Jewish believers would think of him, Peter's actions were saying that the Gentile believers were inferior, that they weren't as good as the Jewish believers.

What lies are told by the way I'm living my life?

I hope that being aware of it will help me to be less prone to worrying about what others think about me. I'm not sure that there's some magic steps that I can follow in order to break myself of it, but it's something I'll continue to deal with.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Too Much Tragedy

I am so tired of my school coming up in the news for the wrong reasons.

My heart goes out for the families of all those affected in the shootings on the military base of Fort Hood in Texas. Every time I hear about something like that my mind immediately goes back to the shootings at Virginia Tech over two years ago. And the fact that the shooter at Ft. Hood was a graduate of VT made feel even worse about it. There have been a seemingly absurd number of deaths that have had ties to Virginia Tech over the past couple of years. To name a few...

  • This is how the 2006-2007 school year started, with an escaped convict killing two people and escaping into Blacksburg.
  • Then of course the shootings on April 16th 2007 where a gunman killed 32 students and professors before turning the gun on himself.
  • The following November, a freshman committed suicide by jumping out of a window in Pritchard hall (the dorm I lived in.)
  • This past January, a graduate student was killed and decapitated by another graduate student in a cafe on campus.
  • In October, a Virginia Tech student went missing after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville and has still not been found.
  • and now a Virginia Tech graduate, Nidal Malik Hasan is suspected to be responsible for the death of 13 soldiers and civilians at Ft. Hood in Texas.
Does this list seem ridiculous to anyone else for a span of 2 1/2 years? It's probably not even everything that happened, there's probably some incident that I've forgotten about. It sometimes seem like a cloud hangs over the school, that death and tragedy are not far from the students of the school.

And more than once, I have felt weighed down by all of this death and tragedy at the place that was home to me for 5 years, the lives lost were people I walked by every day, had class with, watched football games with. You would think we'd be good at dealing with tragedy by now, but that's something that I don't think we can ever get 'good' at.

I pray God would comfort those affected by this latest tragedy, and those that continue to be affected by all the other tragedies. I don't know what else to say beyond that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today I gave a guy a ride home from jail.

no, really.

I was volunteering and painting outside at a primary school across from my parent's church and this young guy comes walking up to me and asks if he can borrow my phone. He just got out of jail and needs someone to pick him up. So I let him use my phone as he tries unsuccessfully to call his dad and some other people. He said he needed a ride to portsmouth or he would have to walk. Now portsmouth is a 20 minute drive away, and this dude was gonna try and walk it?

So i did something that, looking back, I don't think i would have done 5 years ago, I offered him a ride. So we jumped in my car and started driving to portsmouth (p-town to the hip crowd) and we started talked about how he had just got out from a 60 day sentence in jail because he missed a court date, and that his girlfriend was supposed to be giving birth to his daughter today. All this for a guy who just turned 20.

Now i'm not the most conversational person in the world when I'm meeting someone for the first time, and so it was a little awkward at times, and there was a fair amount of small talk, we talked a little about church and God, but not much and before I knew it we were in p-town. I said God bless, and wished him well as I drove off from his house.

Driving back I was thinking about how even a few years ago I wouldn't have done something like that for a complete stranger. It was one of those things that helps me realize the work God is continually doing in our lives. I don't think I live my life incredibly different than I did a few years ago, but i think i respond to things differently now. I think in my good moments, I'm a lot less selfish than I used to be. (in my good moments) And that God has given me a heart for the marginalized people around me. (thanks Marshall)

I'm not usually one that does a lot of self reflection and self-analysis, so I think today was a good moment to just see that God's brought me a long way, and still has a long way yet to bring me.

Currently playing : Divine Romance - Phil Wickham

Friday, October 23, 2009


This is not a post about a Mel Gibson movie
or about a great game to play in small groups
or about things that direct the flow of traffic

This post is about signs from God.

I think that just about everyone at some point in their life has asked for a sign that what they're doing is right or a sign that points us in a direction to choose one thing over another.

Whether they're asking for a sign from God, or from something else, it seems like most of us want affirmation from something or someone else that what we're doing is right.

We want this sign to reassure our own insecurities and doubts.

Sometimes I want a sign that God is real, that I'm not imagining this whole thing and that what i've experienced is a genuine experience and not something contrived.

Sometimes I try to trick God into letting me have what I want. "If i'm not supposed to date this person, give me a sign not to." (I think I used this a lot when I was younger)

But are signs really going to be the thing that sways us towards God? The Bible doesn't really have a good track record of them working out. How many times did God perform miracles and wonders for the Israelis coming out of Egypt? And still they turned away from Him almost as soon as the wonders were over. How many times did Jesus perform miracles for the disciples and yet Thomas still didn't believe until he touched and saw the resurrected Christ.

Jesus even says "Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe." Which says to me that we shouldn't need or rely on signs.

Because faith is precisely that, not seeing and yet still believing.

So then what good are signs at all? Should we want to see signs from God?

Psalm 86 says

Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me (v17)

The psalmist isn't asking for a sign for his sake, for his reassurance, but for others, that his enemies might see the error of their ways and come to know the true God. Is that why Jesus did signs and wonders? So that those who did not know him would understand that he had power and authority from God?

I don't know, maybe that's all signs were supposed to be, just letting outsiders know that this person has authority and you should pay attention to what he says. What do you think?