Saturday, December 12, 2009

This Crazy thing we call Interweb

Why I love the internet:

I've talked in this blog before about niche communities. It wasn't too many years ago a teenager had to wait until college, or until old enough to move cities/states, before they could fall into a crowd of truly like-minded persons. Whether the interest be a particular genre of music, lifestyle choice, or faith community, sometimes it was difficult to feel that anyone else in the world was in the same ballpark.

I remember being young and thinking to myself, "Why is no one my age genuine about their faith? Am I the only Christian my age in the world??" That may seem like a truly absurd thought (certainly my intellectual mind knew it wasn't true) but that doesn't diminish the very real relief I felt when I found a group like the Navigators in college.

I see a secular sense of belonging in something like , which essentially spawned from two nerdy brothers video blogging each other and has now become a popular social network for the nerdier kids of the nation. If you like Harry Potter, if you were a marching band dork, if you love sci-fi and writing songs about video games... nerdfighters is probably a group you want to be aware of.

But more than niche communities, the internet is a place where anyone/everyone can make their concepts/inventions a reality. I just recently discovered a site called that was made by an 18 year old. The site is basically a completely anonymous version of aim -- when you log on you're connected to one other anonymous person who you can then have a conversation with. I've only used the site once (I asked the guy it connected me to about his experiences on the site, what most conversations ended up being about, etc.). Fascinating concept and all from a kid who hadn't even graduated high school yet.

Here's another great concept: Basically it's an open screen that anyone can type into (anonymously) in real time. So you can edit what other people have typed, add your own thoughts. It's like a big open whiteboard for anyone to use. Now be careful, if you're clicking on the links then know that the main board of this site can get pretty inappropriate. The genius of the site, though, is that adding backslash and something to the url brings you to a new open whiteboard... so if you were to go to you would find some thoughts (anonymous, mind you) from anyone else who typed onto that page. You and your friends could make your own page, etc. Again, great concept made by one individual.

Most of my friends have heard me go on and on about the brilliance of (which is like twitter but every post is a song or video that is pulled from the internet) ... it's a tremendous site for music lovers out there. Helps build a community, share favorite bands, etc. But that isn't the only site for legal and innovative ways of sharing music mix tapes, here's an article from wired about some others:

If you're reading this post and thinking to yourself, "Meh, these are gimicky and a waste of time, bringing focus off of what life should be about," then let me gently challenge you with one thought... kids nowadays are born into a facebook world. The way they understand reality and relate to truth is deeply couched in the technologies of the internet. Of course that mental and social shift has both pros and cons but the exciting news is that social networking breathes new life into those meaningful and necessary conversations.

Don't lose yourself in the shuffle -- your beliefs, interests, purpose in life -- but also don't be afraid to use new platforms for self-expression. If you have a story to share, if you are in possession of good news for the world... then let it go wherever you go :-) It's a big crazy world out there and while in some regards there is nothing new under the sun, be excited that age-old truths are reinvented and rediscovered every generation. As I heard recently, "God doesn't have any grandchildren," meaning the faith of your parents is their faith, your faith must be your own.

Okay, I've reached the point of rambling so I'll hit the post button. Happy posting, bloggers.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What to post today?

I miss the old days of blogging, you know, when early teenager Matt would write any and everything into a journal that was oh-so-private and yet oh-so-read and commented on by all my friends. I miss reading their blogs, each feeling so unique, as if we all were working on some grand project but could confide absolutely any piece of information we wanted.

When you're young like that, writing has no agenda. In fact, our only agenda was to not have an agenda. If I was thinking of God that day, I would write about God, my faith, prayer life, etc. If I was thinking about the rubber sole of my shoe, well psh, I'd write about that.

Adults don't blog like that. Every shared thought, blog, letter, phone conversation... has a purpose behind it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to hear about someone's life and their current need or project. I not only am blessed by that correspondence but it reminds me of the profound work God has in store for my community, the nation, the world. That type of writing is absolutely necessary and desired and beneficial, please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I just wouldn't mind getting the same substance in a slightly different format (from the mini-sermon blog post, the anecdotal image that is profound post, the exhausted because waiting for provision and hope post). >-<

I wish the everyday-ness of tweets slipped into the rest of our sites, and the intention of newsletters/blogs slipped into the mundane-ness of tweeting and facebook. I wish frivolous projects went hand-in-hand with the profound.

After all, wouldn't that make our sharing seem less... agenda-filled? Wouldn't a dash more frivolity show that our first and foremost service to God is to enjoy our relationship with Him, to increase His glory by reflecting back the very nature of Christ? "This is who I am world, take it or leave it, I'm a guy who loves Christ and all my serious and not-so-serious projects are a result of the freedom, grace, hope, and truth that I have in God." Anyway :-P it's been three months since I posted on this blog so these thoughts seemed an appropriate apology/beginning.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creating Space

Creating space for ministry to happen.

If a person's only fellowship takes place on a Sunday morning, then even IF that person speaks solely of what God is doing in their life, then the time limit means the conversation can only be highlights at best. When someone asks, "How are you?" the person can either say "good," or some rehearsed/rushed answer for that particular spotlighted moment. But in my experience it can take someone a while before the conversation drifts to what's really hurting them. Sometimes the deep issues don't come out until a couple cups of coffee into the meal.

Similarly, if the only time a person talks about their faith is in a weekly Bible study then there is a danger their faith will become a performance. After all, it's hard not to construct mini-thoughts to share with the group when going through that week's study. As Bible Study leaders we may unintentionally send the message that time in the Word is strictly utilitarian. "And what have you learned this week in your quiet times?" Ready... set... GO!

Instead, what if ministry happened in the spaces between and in everything else? What if faith issues moved gently in and out of all life's other conversations? What if part of our ministry to students was creating enough safe space so a person could just sit quietly in a God-centered atmosphere. No presentation... no awkward, "That's what I've learned. And you?" Just a community in which Christ-centeredness was part of its understated being.

For the student this kind of identity formation happens (most of the time) without their awareness. They'll think they're just hanging out when really a community is being formed, deep questions are being discussed, and individuals are taking big steps in their faith. The student may not realize anything special is going on, but the leader works hard to help create that type of environment --- the goal may be to make it seem effortless and natural, but "creating space" is one of the most difficult tasks of a minister. Often students take their biggest steps in the most unexpected moments, during a time the minister didn't pre-plan or pre-encourage.

Anyway, I'm probably just preaching to the choir on all this but I thought I would type it up anyways to share with y'all. :-D Ministry is such an unconventional occupation, it's interesting to start discussions about it every now and then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If I were to ask you in this moment to picture an African animal, you probably wouldn't imagine that animal with flies buzzing all around its head. But in real life there are a ton of flies buzzing around their heads, it's true.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I went to the Grand Canyon when I was much younger, apparently. I can't remember it, of course, but I went this past week and so YAY have a couple observations I want to make:

1. My group went a day before Michelle Obama (and family) spent a day there. She's been given such a hard time for wearing shorts but it's ARIZONA and HOT and ARIZONA!!! Why does the nation obsess over the most ridiculous things?

2. I was surprised not to see any plaques or brochures pushing an evolutionary stance. If they existed, I didn't see them. And you may say, "Well that's not a big deal, Matt, why would they have those things?" BUT I did see a plaque with a verse from Psalms. PLUS there was a worship area where a group meets every day of the week to acknowledge the glory that creation brings the Creator. Yeah-ah.

3. Driving from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon and back again is a long day of driving.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Closeness to God

I don't have much time to post but I couldn't not share a few links I've enjoyed recently:

1. This first link is of a guy named Rich Mullins. His gentleness, wisdom, passion... drips from every word. If you're in a rush, skip ahead to around 5:05 to hear some really profound thoughts on closeness to God. But if you have the time listen to the whole clip, it's worth it (there's even a couple thoughts on the benefits of being single!).

2. This next video is of a completely different type. If you're not familiar with The Emphatics, it's basically just my family's video log which, among other things, tries to remind people that it's worth finding passion, humor, and joy in life.

My brother's emo post makes me so proud of him. :-)

3. Hank Green is by far my favorite vlogger. In this particular clip he defends nerd awesomeness. I realize it's strange to see me posting this clip because nothing about my life is at all nerdy or dorky... ...

but enjoy regardless.

4. Classical music inspired stand-up comedy, anyone?

5. Steve Harvey introduces Jesus. And I'm not going to lie, it's pretty awesome.

Monday, July 20, 2009

If it's good enough for John Piper...

... it's good enough for me. :-P

I have been given a ridiculous amount of flack for joining twitter. Most of the teasing is done pseudo-light-heartedly with messages ranging from "It's just a big waste of time," to, "the only people who twitter are completely self-absorbed."


So I thought I would copy-paste an article John Piper wrote about his own twitter account:

Why and How I Am Tweeting
By John Piper June 3, 2009

I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.

The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.

Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.

Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.

That’s my general disposition toward media.

Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”

To which I respond:

The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.

So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.

I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.

By his grace and for his glory,

Pastor John

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Water Sports

I'm not saying we weighed too much, I'm just saying...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Must See

Okay, scroll down on this listing of a wolf tee-shirt and look at the comments. I can't describe how happy they make me:

Monday, May 18, 2009


I've always liked this picture --- looks like a windows desktop.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What a great idea!

The world is full of wonderful ideas. Here are a few I've discovered lately:
This is brilliant way Google found to both entertain us and help their own company. I'll just paste below the description from their site:

"Welcome to Google Image Labeler, a feature of Google Search that allows you to label images and help improve the quality of Google's image search results. How does it work?
You'll be randomly paired with a partner who's online and using the feature. Over a two-minute period, you and your partner will:

* View the same set of images.
* Provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see.
* Receive points when your label matches your partner's label. The number of points will depend on how specific your label is.
* See more images until time runs out.

After time expires, you can explore the images you've seen and the websites where those images were found. And we'll show you the points you've earned throughout the session."
This is just a really fun website for anyone fascinated by the art of invention. I mean, I no joke just read about a zero gravity micro car, basically a remote control car you can drive along your walls!!! I kid you not. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.
This isn't really a new, ground-breaking thing. I just felt like including it because earlier this week I watched one of my favorite authors (John Green) reading poetry and fielding questions over this service. The window on the left will show the live video feed of the person while anyone watching can talk in the chatroom on the right. I'm sure most of the shows are lame, but I know my author was entertaining!
This is by far one of the most elaborate and creative advertisements I've ever seen. The site was put together by Doritos and is only "open" from 6PM-6AM. Basically you're led through a frightening journey out of a haunted hotel. Thank you, Doritos!
Okay, I'm throwing this on the list because it's RIDICULOUS if you really stop and think about it -- we live in an age where you can pull up a website, do a quick search for just about any recorded thing on the face of the planet, and be watching it in milliseconds. This is absolutely insane!!!! We've already learned to take it for granted, but just stop for a second and realize how absolutely insane this is!!!!
We ARE the future. wait, what(?), that doesn't even make sense. But here's a simple test of how expansive youtube is --- have you ever done a search for a song you wanted to hear and NOT found both a studio and live version on youtube? Whenever I search and can't find anything I'm SHOCKED. Haha, just goes to show.
Here is a really cleverly designed website for, as the url states, a person to read while at work. Even if you don't read, click on the site real quick and appreciate the look of it... it's pretty cool. Right now I'm reading Emily Dickinson Poetry that looks just like a formal work powerpoint.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Squelching a Funk

Let's talk about God's love for a quick moment; it's jealous, perfect, intentional, and never failing. I mean, seriously, He's passionately, jealously desiring to spend time with us. It shouldn't be complicated/difficult to feel loved-- He's never stopped loving us.

Yet every now and then we'll fall into a funk. I had the night off last night. I NEVER have the night off so I was pretty excited going into it. Would I do work? No! Would I start preparing lessons or research for papers or run errands? No!! I was going to bum around, play some video games or something, and get some rest.

But... going into the night I saw a couple couple's too many --- you know, the kind that are, uh, actually in love with each other. It's amazing how drastically a small trigger can throw off the next few hours.

Now fortunately I sensed the funk so did some things to snap me out of it --- for example switch gears, DON'T listen to sad music, find a good friend to talk to, etc. I tried cutting the funk off at the pass... and meh, was mildly successful.

Still, it shouldn't be hard for me to feel loved. I KNOW that God loves me, I've been blessed with years of Him making that love clear to me. But argh, somewhere along the way I picked up a lie that surfaces every now and then, a lie that says... well, doesn't matter what the lie says. What matters is that God's love is jealous, perfect, intentional, and everlasting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Finally the end of the week

I'm way too hard on myself. Can any of you relate to that? Blech, it's horrible. I've been so busy this past week --- and I've learned that I haven't done a great job at building margins into my life. If I'm not able to get work done during the regular hours of the day, I normally stay up a tiny bit later to complete the spillover. Usually that process keeps me afloat because I'll have a few days of recovery between every late night.

When an abnormally high amount of schoolwork or friends' issues begins to peak, however, suddenly that rare late night turns into every single night of the week. I find myself at 2 in the morning thinking, "I have to get up in 4 hours. How has this happened to me again??"

And the unfortunate thing about physical/emotional exhaustion in my life is that it leads to a whole mess of new problems: I'm much less forgiving to myself, I have less energy to give to others, I start mixing up the little details one is supposed to take care of.

Plus, compassion is infinitely harder when I feel like I've been drained of every emotion I've ever had or even thought of having. Anyway, I write this just to say we all need to build some margins into our lives. Who knows, maybe all of you are better at taking care of yourselves than I am at taking care of myself. But if not, if any of this post resonates with you, then shame on you(!) ;-) you need to ease up and psh, get some sleep.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Grad Student

Good evening, all!

I know I’m missing out on some Saturday night activities out there (which definitely bums me out), but it was time for me to come home after my activities today: a nine hour class, driving around a bit, and now I’m home to get some more work done before tomorrow morning. The fun never ends. :-P

Which started me thinking about my classmates and how they’re all having long days. For example, I just dropped off a couple classmates at the airport so they could fly back to their respective homes. Yes, you read that correctly, I did say airport. Isn’t that insane!? These classmates of mine fly in for each and every single class (I know ASU students that won’t roll out of bed for a class that’s 30 seconds away!). In my mind that makes my classmates superheroes.

They’re committing a large amount of time and energy towards something they’re passionate about. It won’t make them famous… won’t make them tons of money (“wait, hold up, a life of ministry doesn’t lead to a ton of money?” the crowds gasp)… but they’re pushing themselves beyond the point of exhaustion because they know it’s something profoundly worthwhile.

These superheroes, they’re working hard because they yearn to get better at caring for the people God has placed in their lives. And it’s their drive/discipline that inspires me to work hard myself. Their love for Jesus encourages me to be intentional with my own priorities.

So it’s in their honor I share a few graduate student jokes I stumbled across recently (and by the way I can honestly say the below items are true for my own life, haha):

You know you’re a grad student when…

* you can identify universities by their internet domains.
* you are constantly looking for a thesis in novels.
* you have difficulty reading anything that doesn't have footnotes.
* you understand jokes about Foucault.
* you consider caffeine to be a major food group.
* you've ever brought books with you on vacation and actually studied.
* Saturday nights spent studying no longer seem weird. (hahaha! As evidenced by what I’ll be doing when I finish posting)
* the professor doesn't show up to class and you discuss the readings anyway.
* you appreciate the fact that you get to choose which twenty hours out of the day you have to work.
* you find taking notes in a park relaxing.
* you find yourself citing sources in conversation.
* you've ever sent a personal letter with footnotes.
* you are startled to meet people who neither need nor want to read.
* you have ever brought a scholarly article to a bar.
* you rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.
* everything reminds you of something in your discipline.
* you have ever discussed academic matters at a sporting event.
* there is a microfilm reader in the library that you consider "yours."
* you actually have a preference between microfilm and microfiche.
* you can tell the time of day by looking at the traffic flow at the library.
* you consider all papers to be works in progress.
* professors don't really care when you turn in work anymore.
* you have given up trying to keep your books organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.
* you have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.
* you find yourself explaining to children that you are in "20th grade".
* you look forward to taking some time off to do laundry.
* you have more photocopy cards than credit cards.
* you wonder if APA style allows you to cite talking to yourself as "personal communication".
* you have a favourite flavour of instant noodle.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Online projects

Many of you know that my family just started a video blog we're uber-excited about: The Emphatics!

But ours isn't the only interesting project taking place through the great interweb:

* Postsecret

This weekly blog showcases the anonymous secrets people send in on postcards. The guy who started it just wanted to give his friends a way of anonymously getting something off of there chest... but the idea caught on so quickly that he now receives millions of postcards from around the world, has published several books of the secrets, and tours around the United States giving lectures on his project. Some secrets are sad, some are very profound, some are great just because of the artistic design --- but no matter what their appeal, they are always worth checking out.

* Brotherhood 2.0

Two brothers decide not to communicate except through video blogs for an entire year... and they don't mind if you watch them do it. I absolutely love this site. It began as a small challenge between two brothers and grew into a community of fans (who have their own social networking site). One of the brothers is a favorite author of mine, John Green. Click on the link and see why their project attracted so much interest.

* 1001 Journals

Though the project has changed a bit since it was first made, it's still a fun idea. Originally the person left 1000 journals across the country with a simple message in the front, "Move these books around until they're full, then send back to the included address." Some books came back quickly, others took years and years to be returned, some are still out there (or probably got destroyed). But the success of that initial surge of journals led to a more organized way of keeping community journals. Give it a quick peak if this kind of thing sparks your interest.

* Geocaching

All you need is a handheld GPS unit and you can join in the greatest scavenger hunt ever devised! Within 10 miles of where you're currently sitting are dozens, possibly hundreds of secretly hidden caches to discover.

* Bookmooch

The above link is just one of the many examples of sites popping up where the purpose is to facilitate a free, point-based exchange program. Basically, if you have a bunch of books lying around that you don't mind parting with, you can send them through the bookmooch system, build up points, and ask for books from others. I've seen other sites that use this same concept with video games, movies, etc.

Also, I've seen a similar trend of sites that use a free achievement/point system to motivate their users to contribute. Allpoetry is a good example for casual poets/writers, Sparkpeople is a BRILLIANT site to get people motivated to live healthier lives (it includes the most exhaustive recipe and nutrition tracking database I've ever seen, points awarded for reaching personal goals, a community aspect so you have others to share in the process with, etc).

But anyways, I just thought I'd post some of these links up in today's post because they show that there are a lot of really fascinating social projects taking place online these days. Paper newspapers are disappearing in place of online publications (will news aggregation sites lose out in the new legal battles?), music bands releasing their cds online for "whatever you feel comfortable paying" are proving to the music industry that new mediums can be successful, etc., the list goes on.

Have you guys seen any interesting online trends lately? Leave a comment if you'd like to share with all of us what you've seen :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beyond Soda

I have a new love... and that new love is Pop the Soda Shop which is at McDowell and 74th Street. The entire store is filled with specialty sodas from around the world, most pretty bizarre. My kinda place.

Somehow Brent convinced me to split the cost of a Root Beer Keg. Sigh, haha. So now I can truthfully say, "I've bought a keg." What has this youth group done to me!?

This communist soda has got to be one of the funniest sodas in there. "There's a party in every bottle..." "A taste worth standing in line for..." "Lininade..."

Who wouldn't love that?

Here's a Japanese soda. Unlike the Leninade, this soda seems less gimicky, more genuine. I don't think it necessarily makes me an honorary Japanese citizen... but it certainly brings me one step closer.

And here's a soda that's really popular in Austria. Oompah?

Brain Wash, blue flavor. The kids insisted. Would they say why? No. Does that make me suspicious and scared? Of course.

The tamest scenario I'm imagining is that it will turn my mouth blue. But I honestly don't know...

If anyone finds out the dangers of this soda, contact me IMMEDIATELY before I drink it within the next 24 hours.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Sigh, it's normal to spend twenty minutes clicking your alarm clock button until it feels even, right? If friends come over and slightly move the books on the bookshelf, it's normal to feel off until the books are straightened out again. To avoid pens with caps because you don't want people to notice how much attention you put into lining the cap up with the pen's lettering. To go to the restroom not because you need to go, but because you feel the compulsion to do one of your tics and you don't want to embarrass yourself. All normal, right? Oiy. Well anyway, here's a couple videos that mix funny with sad on the issue:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Activities

Easter Weekend

Here is the dashboard Jesus the youth snuck into my jeep between services. :-D Isn't it awesome!!?

My family (including my grandparents from out of town) also went to the Botanical Gardens where there is a wonderful glass exhibition.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Batman is really your only choice.

Sure, the gunslinging days of yesteryore hosted a whole slew of characters you may have admired. The Lone Ranger with his black/white morality, Captain America with his one-dimensional patriotism, Superman with his flawless shiny American perfection. These heroes were what we needed when the world was simple and morality was a binary system.

But we don’t live in that world anymore. Ethics and truth get muddled into a soupy mess until the only thing left to do is create a community, value experience over logic, and start building up an ideology again from that experiential foundation. Of course I’m pretty vocal about the ideology I hold true --- God loves me but I disobey Him, and that injustice requires a payment which Christ paid, making it possible for me to have a relationship with God again, whew--- but I find the way I talk about the Bible with a 20 year old is different than the way I talk about the Bible with a 60 year old. The Bible hasn’t changed, and certainly God hasn’t changed, but we approach the truths from a slightly different angle (we in the postmodern generations). But I’m sidetracked… back to Batman:

Batman is really your only choice in a postmodern world. Movie heroes nowadays are relatable first, admirable second. And while a simple anti-hero might have satiated the appetites of audiences in the 80’s and 90’s (I’m looking at you, Hulk), the modern audience clings to the conflicted. I mean, just go back and watch a film from the 1950’s. The men and women fall perfectly into the stereotypes established for them. Now how about a movie from 2009?

Here’s what happens at a party:

*Lone Ranger, Green Lantern, The Shadow, the Flash. These men of the 1940’s sit in the corner, rasping stories at one another about the “good old days.” While it’s okay to say hi to one of these guys, I certainly don’t want to be cornered by any of them, forced to listen to stories that drone and only barely pique my interest. Besides, their cigar smoke is giving me a headache.

*Slick-haired Superman is talking with Wonder Woman by the punch bowl. They’re hovering over an old copy of the Gazette, and, argh, they won’t move more than three feet from the punch bowl because they’re waiting to grab your shoulder and pull you into the peppiest, happiest, shiniest conversation you’ve ever been a part of. Partygoers who liked the 1950’s will flock to the punch because, simply put, in their stories the good is the goodest good possible.

*Gambit, Wolverine, the Hulk are too cool for school. Their 80’s style feels cramped in such a still-standing environment. Psh, they don’t need all these old fogeys, they need to grab a piece of vanilla cake in their fingerless gloves and race out into the summer wind. They have no clue who James Dean was but wow do they drive like him.

*Spiderman is here too, proudly sporting the 90’s. Meh, I have no real complaint against Spiderman. He’s a cool enough guy, just can get annoying sometimes. Regardless, a friend always gives him a call and so I can’t really kick him out unless I make a big scene… meh, which isn’t really worth it.

*And then there’s Batman! Everyone loves him. He doesn’t try to be the life of the party like frat guy Superman, instead he moves around the partygoers, asking quite genuinely how you’re doing and always giving good insight on your struggles. He adapts with the times, has a noble but also dark side, and even though he wrestles with his own demons there is no sense of whiney-self-absorbism. Batman’s the guy you call when you’re throwing a huge party, or when you’re grabbing a couple close friends for a cup of coffee.

Batman ftw!

Thursday, April 9, 2009



It really sucks to be an imperfect human being, doesn't it?

I mean, let's be honest --- it's miserable to be trapped in this body that does things I don't want it to do, to have a mind that thinks things I don't want it to think.

As I enter into Good Friday, I'm opening myself up to the sobering reality of my imperfection. By the time I get to Sunday I'll be ready for the full celebration of a Savior who loves and transforms me. But until then... Matthew 9:12, Psalm 119:147, Psalm 22:6,11, ...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Totally possible

Recently someone accused me of expecting the impossible. So below I've described a very realistic and possible scenario --- so possible that it could happen at any moment, really --- like now... ... ... well anyways, I can't imagine a more realistic and possible scenario than this:

She says, "Oops, I'm sorry, I just bumped into you on accident. Which is odd because people normally describe my movements as incredibly graceful. But I guess I was just too lost in thought --- that happens sometimes, I have to admit --- I love how many interesting things are out there to think about, discuss with others... new hobbies to discover and interests to share. Plus, I find that depth and integrity are really great building blocks for establishing healthy relationships with others, ya know what I mean? Before I bumped into you I was busy thinking about my loving Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I don't know how you feel about God, faith... what your background is. Of course I'll always lend an open ear if you'd like to talk about it. But all I know is that God has been so good to me, and even though I absolutely don't deserve it He's patiently taught me. I can look back on the last few years and see, wow, that God has really transformed my heart into something I never used to be able to imagine. There are still the occasional moments where I doubt if I'm really good enough, or how in the world God could ever love a person like me, but I remember verses I've memorized and I'm comforted by the knowledge that God truly does want to work through me. Eeps, I hope I'm not making you uncomfortable. There's my verse pack over there, it must have been knocked down when we bumped. Oh, and there are the poetry books I like to read too, right next to the iPod with all those indie bands I'm always finding on music blogs. Ah, dorky me, why am I spilling all of this information to you? I guess there's just something different about you... I feel this comfort, like we've known each other for decades. Normally I'm slightly closed off. People will comment on my beauty ::people to the side are talking about how beautiful she is:: but that's never been the most important thing to me, so it's slightly embarassing. I'm actually kinda shy, really. Most days I'd rather curl up by a fire with a good book, maybe write in a journal, and spend time with the people who matter the most to me. Sigh, if only I met a guy who loved God first and foremost. A guy like that could be drawing strength from the right source, that way he'd be able to really keep a marriage together in a powerful way. If only... if only I met a guy who I could love in a similar way, a guy who was okay with how much time I spend with the Lord and how often I'll pull open my Bible (the English, Hebrew, and Greek all next to each other). It's certainly realistic and possible for me to eventually meet a guy like that. He must be out there somewhere. So if, no, i mean WHEN I find that guy, we're going to have the most ridiculously fun and God honoring relationship ever."

So see! Evidence is above, we can all picture these words pouring out of someone's mouth. It's not like this scenario is any way rare :-P It's not like the odds of this happening are in any way small. It's not like the chances of meeting a girl who is uber-genuine with her faith, not perfect but growing over time and interested in sharing her thoughts with people she cares for... it's not like the chances of meeting her are so astronomically small that you can almost use the word "impossible."

Monday, March 30, 2009


I often forget that words can have real impact.

A positive recent example --- I was talking with a guy who I’ve only known for a couple weeks and he asked me what I do for a living. When I answer a question like that I’m basically in auto-pilot. I mean, I could be talking about the weather or a video game or something, it’s just small talk for me. But I forget that for the other person, religion may be something worth commenting on. I’ll say that I’m a Youth Director with kids 5th grade through college juniors, I’ll say that I’m a Seminary student (usually explaining that it’s a graduate school for Bible stuff) and I’ll get one of a few interesting responses:

1. “Oh, interesting.” And the conversation will quickly move on because the person is slightly uncomfortable with the mention of “Jesus,” “Christian,” “church,” “God,” etc.
2. The person will start dumping all kinds of stories and thoughts on me. I imagine this is similar to a low-level politician who as soon as he tells someone what he does, that person starts telling him how to fix the state, country, and the world. Or no, actually, more like a doctor who meets someone on the sidewalk and they pull up their shirt to show him some nasty rash. That’s kinda what it’s like to tell people you work in ministry --- some people take that as an open invitation to share their thoughts. And I say right on! It’s so much fun to get into conversations like that.
3. The person will start asking a lot of questions because it’s rare they’ll bump into someone who has the type of job I do. These conversations are also tons of fun, and what fascinates me is how open the person usually is to what I’m saying. If you, the blog reader, are having trouble with your evangelism --- just go enter Seminary! People you bump into will box you into a stereotype almost immediately, so you can “get away with” saying all kinds of things. People expect “pastors” to mention God every now and then. As an undergrad it was more hit and miss – there were times I had to earn credibility before I could broach the topic, whereas now it’s what I do --- people don’t feel preached at when they know I’m simply telling them where I work and what I do.

The guy I started this post talking about was the #2 type of response – he started telling me about his childhood and how he had recent questions about God. I’m uber-thankful God uses me in ways like this sometimes.

But my words don’t always build others up. >-< There are countless examples of how cruel I can be with my words, the most recent example being a fight I got into over instant messaging an old friend. Why do I hurt people the way I do? Why can’t I stop being this ugly monster of a person who does/says things that tear others down? Is it because my heart is evil? Is it because of that human struggle Paul describes in Romans 7? Sigh, intellectually I know it is. ☹ But oh man is it hard to remind myself --- to shut down all the lies and doubts I have about myself by remembering the value that God has put in me.

And in the meantime, during this process of learning as I go, I’m sorry to those I hurt. Deeply, deeply sorry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


One of my favorite quotes of all time:

(Vivian Bearing walks on the empty stage pushing her IV pole. She is fifty, tall and very thin, barefoot, and completely bald. She wears two hospital gowns - one tied in the front and one tied in the back - a baseball cap, and a hospital ID bracelet. The house lights are at half strength. Vivian looks out at the audience, sizing them up)

Vivian: (In false familiarity, waving and nodding to the audience) Hi. How are you feeling today? Great. That's just great. (In her own professional tone) This is not my standard greeting, I assure you.
I tend toward something a little more formal, a little less inquisitive, such as, say, "Hello."
But it is the standard greeting here.
There is some debate as to the correct response to this salutation. Should one reply, "I feel good," using "feel" as a copulative to link the subject "I" to its subjective complement "good," or "I feel well," modifying with an adverb the subject's state of being?
I don't know. I am a professor of seventeenth-century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne.
So I just say, "Fine."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nerdy thought

Okay, so you can skip this entry if you're not into computer games.

[Are those people gone now? Good.]

Now those remaining --- you can skip this entry if you're not into World of Warcraft.

[If you're still reading it means at least a small part of you embraces your nerdy/dorky side, to which I say cheers!]

I've been playing a little bit of WoW again lately and I've noticed that players will sometimes choose character types that represent their real life personality traits. Have you noticed this too? Take my main, for example; He's an undead frost mage:

It's all about control. If the frost mage uses his moves skillfully, then no one ever touches him and he takes no damage. He freezes attackers at a distance, doing high damage to single targets. Unlike fire mages (who have rampant uncontrolled damage), his damage is thoughful and can be very lethal.
When he runs out of energy (mana) he has to sit down for a while, eat, recover. But in general he can last quite a while without needing to recharge.
Mages can teleport to different locations, meaning they hop around between groups of people. If combat gets heavy they blink away, get into a safe position, and then may start doing damage from that safer location. They'll often slow someone down and run away from fighting rather than face them head on --- for this reason they're rarely defeated unless taken by complete surprise.

If you know someone who plays WoW, ask what type of character they are --- might tell you something about their personality.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

6 Reasons I absolutely love living in my new condo

1. Ministry will be done in/through this place.

I've already mentioned to many of you how the timing of this purchase has worked out just right --- and with the events He's already allowed to take place here, I feel very affirmed that this new home will enable me for better ministry.

2. Living alone.

Now don't me wrong, I still enjoy hanging out with people. In fact, I feel like there's always people over for a movie, card game, relaxing, etc. but it's the little privacies, you know? Being able to write without someone coming in to read over my shoulder, or watching a movie without a peanut gallery collecting. PLUS, if the place is messy it's my mess, and if it's clean it's my clean. Haha, that may sound like a strange benefit but it's the first time I've experienced something like this.

3. Ownership.

The first day I lived here I walked from room to room, clicking on and off light switches with a stupid grin on my face. Can you remember the first thing you bought with money you earned from your first job? That's the feeling I have on hyperspeed. Time, too --- when I rented, I kept the mindset of a renter. How much can a place feel like home if you know you're moving again in a few months? Everything was transitory, passing. But now, in this place, it feels like home.

4. Step Up.

It's a step up from my previous places. Period. Green grass, quiet neighborhood, nice balcony where I can read, etc. Instead of drug dealers and loud keggers (both my previous apartment complexes) there are people walking dogs and kids playing. A lot of this complex consists of people like me, in mid-late twenties who are post-college and early career. It all just makes sense. :-D

5. Location.

It's a block from my work/church, next door to a city park and tennis center, grocery store within walking distance, Old Town Scottsdale nearby.

6. Lifestyle.

This one's a bit harder to explain but most of you know what I mean. Living like a mid-late twenties rather than an early twenties. That's clear enough, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bill Murray talks about Gilda Radner

This is a beautiful story Bill Murray told about Gilda Radner (both on SNL):

"Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine (Newman) had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she'd already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn't seen her in a long time. And she started doing, "I've got to go," and she was just going to leave, and I was like, "Going to leave?" It felt like she was going to really leave forever.
So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for awhile. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way --- over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour --- maybe an hour and a half. --- just carrying her around and saying, "She's leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda's leaving, and remember that she was very sick -- hello?"
We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, "She's leaving, I don't know if you said goodbye to her." And we said goodbye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.
And because these people were really funny, every person we'd drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there. It was just one of the best parties I've ever been to in my life. I'll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her."

*I found out my mom's official work title is "Controller." Hahahahaha.
*Discovered youtube has a ton of bloopers and inside jokes from Whose Line is it Anyways? If you're a fan of the show and have a couple minutes to spare, do a quick search and find one of the many playlists.
*I've been meaning to send out a mass e-mail about my new condo and moving, etc., but this is also finals week for me! So a Hebrew final comes before writing the e-mail, sorry.

Reading: Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Listening to: The Muppet Alphabet Album. And yes, it is incredible.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I didn't realize how many books I owned until I boxed them up to move:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Throughout the day...

"The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray." -Oscar Wilde


Here are some of the highlights of my day today:

Most heart-wrenching:
Watching a video of Tim Kasher play the narrative-propelled song, "Album of the Year." Tim is moodily strumming along the first chord, steps forward and right before he pushes himself against the mic for the first lyric, a female voice desperately shouts from the audience, "Think of her!"
Imagine you are Tim. You've written these songs, recorded them on a cd and now are touring around. The song has probably become routine, you're in another city on another stage, who knows where. doesn't matter. and out shouts this girl, "Think of her!"
I hope he did think of her.

Josh and I watched Evil Dead 2 today. There is a point in the film where the character Ash is frantically searching for a chain saw in a dilapidated tool shed. As he wrenches a curtain back and finds a chalked outline for the missing weapon, his beheaded girlfriend suddenly bursts through the door, wielding the chain saw and thrashing her skinless body, pushing him back against the wall. And it was in that over-the-top-cartoonish-blood-spewing-as-if-from-a-firehose moment that I knew this movie was going to be one of my new favorites.

Signing the final paperwork for my new condo. Monday I should have my keys. Suddenly words like "mortgage" and "equity" have weight and texture. I am getting old and ... well, I'm getting old.
Fortunately the new stimulus package is putting a hefty tax credit in my pocket (eventually) and because of the poor real estate market I'm running away with a steal!! Yeah-ah.

So what's new?
*Read: Anthem by Ayn Rand
*Heard: The Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky singing Koni Priviredliviye
*Saw: The photography of Julia Fullerton-Batten. Check out her work at
*Excited for: My brother Aaron is writing a one man show for his final undergrad thesis. The other day he mentioned that he was thinking of writing parts of the show from the perspectives of his family members. He was pseudo asking for permission and I gave it to him, knowing whatever he uses might be painful or embarrassing. I'm looking forward to see the final product --- I know my brother is putting his heart and soul into it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Worlds that did exist, do exist, or will.

Currently reading: Myst: The Book of Ti'Ana
Currently listening to: Robyn at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2008 singing "Be Mine"
Currently lamenting: My broken iMac, argh

From Myst:
"The Ages to which they linked were not made by them, they already existed, for the making of worlds was a process that took not months but long millennia. Atrius, trying to make things absolutely clear to her, had summed it up thus:
'These Ages are worlds that do exist, or have existed, or shall. Providing the description fits, there is no limitation of time or space. The link is made regardless.'
And so, too, this world of theirs, their Age, which they had called Gemedet, after the game. It, too, existed, or had existed, or would. But where it was or when they did not know."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A few days later...

Nothing will ever be good enough.
I am yours - the more you deconstruct yourself
the more I disappear. Be satisfied, love.

You're leaving me!? Fine! The Underworld suits you.

Some couples are content to sit.
They don't need to look at each other
all the time, talk incessantly.
Why is that not enough?

The soil was warm and squishy
between the toes, you said.
You liked it. Now you only complain
of sticks, brambles, and cold.
Where are you coming from?

I'm serious, be content.
Be satisfied, my love.


Monday, February 16, 2009


There is a cave where myths attempt to rewrite themselves. They scrunch faces in earnest, dog-ear every forlorn fragment of emotion. Draft each sigh and squeak, thinking maybe something will come of it?

Seeds scatter on the hard packed earth. Candlelight flickers, scanning each wall and surface whether glistening with the grease of warfare or patched with the rough burlap of sturdy sack and trade.

Some beat their chests, some cower by the bullocks. Every shadow hewn and splayed.

Eurydice asks Ophelia, "Should I translate this under water or under earth?" Ophelia turns to Hamlet, "Am I not tender? Do I not wash over the skin like holy water? Be satisfied, love." Hamlet turns to Zeus, "How much control do you really have? Is every time mundane or do you jump at the sheer snap of every bolt?" Zeus turns to Hera, "Must we always choose matriarch or patriarch?" Hera turns to Eurydice, "Always send the reader under earth. If you stay on top there is nowhere to go. Except down, of course."

On the other side of the room Daphne tests, "We are revisionists." wrapping her lips around every prodigious sound. Unsatisfied with the taste of it, she keeps clacking away on her trusty Ticonderoga. "Did you know?" she asks Apollo, "poet laureate comes from bay laurel which was wreathed upon winners each and every Olympic games?" Apollo isn't paying attention, nods, hums. "No one remembers," Daphne laments, "the origins of things or the loss-side of battles." A few minutes later Apollo falls asleep under the boughs of a new laurel. It's inevitable, this falling asleep... a daily end we're all fated for.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Your move, chief

I will only post a giant block quote once in a blue moon, but this is one that makes the cut. It's from a movie called Good Will Hunting (extremely quotable film):

Sean: Thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me... fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and haven't thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?
Will: No.
Sean: You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.
Will: Why thank you.
Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.
Will: Nope.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You're an orphan right?
[Will nods]
Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally... I don't give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can't learn anything from you, I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't want to do that do you sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

Recently finished reading: Looking for Alaska by John Green (Which I absolutely recommend)
Recently started: F.E.A.R. 2 (it's a video game)
Recently saw in theaters: Push (I hadn't been to a movie in theaters for the longest time and wowsers I actually really enjoyed it)
Currently reading through: Genesis

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I found a publication in Writer's Market the other day that specializes in Crime Drama/Fantasy/Mystery involving CATS!! The submissions must use cats as the main characters or as an important element in the narrative.

I MUST get published in this magazine, it is my new life goal.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Little snippits

Those little jerks (I say lightheartedly) of the SPC Youth Group decided to break into my soft-cover jeep this past Sunday. So as I neared the youth room I was met by a clown car full of laughing kids. I’m told if I took much longer they would have released the emergency break and pushed my vehicle to the other side of the church parking lot. Haha, if anybody in the youth group is reading this post --- shame!!

I should also mention that I finished John Green’s Paper Towns a few days ago. ::Sighs longingly:: Why are fictional characters the easiest ones to fall in love with? Here’s the text on the front cover sleeve, “Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.” ... ::sighs longingly again::

So what’s new with me?
*Recently discovered the song Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event. Love the lyrics, wowsers.
*I’m really loving the youtube video “Lessons Learned in Youth Ministry.” Haha, these Youth Directors speak truth! I’ve posted the video below.
*If you want “uplifting” in a different sense of the word then check out the youtube video “Fairy Fall” :-D
*Word of the day: dirigible

Just for fun:

The sun with all its fiery fury
loses a little heat each day,
did you know that? Becoming
a hardened shell of what it once was.

You’re not the same since your trip.
Someone taught you some new things:
some tongue and fire. There is a grit under
the surface. Something buried
that’s been uncovered.

Hamlet writes in his journal-
“The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remember’d.” Hmm... remember’d? How far must I go to erase sins? Or memory? To hurt? To save? To enact the type of saving hurt or hurting save that can wash away the mess of it? Every decision is plot - I can’t disentangle from it.

I thought I saw you the other day in a shop.
There was a hint of movement, a peripheral familiarity.
I looked closer - whatever I saw disappeared into shade.