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Why I want to visit Italy

15 April, 2008 (2:40pm) | Blog | 6 comments

In Southern Oregon, there is a lot of coffee shops. Seriously, every street corner has a drive through espresso shop. It’s kinda ridiculous. That wouldn’t be so bad if the coffee tasted good (to be more specific, that would be heaven) but it doesn’t. It tastes like someone got dirt and espresso grounds mixed up and attempted to make a Starbucks version of a classic 10 year old prank.

<Rabbit Trail>

When I was a little boy (not yesterday.. the day before) we used to play outside behind our pool. The ground there was pure dirt, and we would spend the day digging ditches and making mud sculptures. One day we decided to pull a variation to the classic “pee-in-a-cup-and-try-to-sell-it-on-the-street-corner-as-lemonade” gag using mud water as hot chocolate.

</Rabbit Trail>

And now, on with the post.

These “coffee” shops gained their popularity, not through great coffee, but through skanky baristas.

Pardon me while I hurl.

Okay, where was I…? Oh yes. Skanky baristas and mud-water coffee. Granted there are a few good coffee shops, but those are few and far between. The best moments of my life (at least the coffee drinking parts, which is most of it) are spent in Portland at Stumptown. If you enjoy good coffee and are ever in that section of the world, look them up.


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Everybody say W00t!!1

3 April, 2008 (2:23pm) | Blog | 1 comment

After a long time of procrastinating, I have decided to write another blog post.


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Being Unproductive

18 March, 2008 (10:02am) | Blog | 6 comments

I originally started this blog back in March of 07, so I have been blogging for about a year now. This will be my fifteenth post. I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty pitiful to me. That’s 1.25 posts per month. There are some blogs that I read that post that much per day. Lately, I have been making a conscious effort to find things to write about, but it seems like the more I think about it, the harder it is to come up with something. It seems like back when I started this blog, I was coming up with stuff left and right. Then I actually looked at how often I was posting. I only posted one per month for the first couple months.  I succeeded at posting two per month for July and August and then I stopped. No posts for a whole month, and then only two more in October. From there I dropped all forms of creative writing for a grand total of three months. After that was when I decided to actually put effort into blogging, but things were feeling like they were slowing down. I could have sworn that I was having longer pauses between posts than ever before. Then I looked at my archives and, lo and behold.. this will be the first month ever that I have posted three posts! Party time!

Why does it seem so hard to do the things we are committed to doing?

Anyway, that was my really long winded tale of woe and deception, but I see a parallel..

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8

Why should I make every effort to do these things? To “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (v. 4) and keep from being unproductive in my faith. It says nothing about these things becoming easy. But if we persevere, we will not be unproductive.

So regardless of how unmotivated I am to exercise my brain and meditate on the Lord, I am now making a commitment to persevere. Starting will faith, and ending with love.

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14 March, 2008 (9:52am) | Blog | 2 comments

Read this post. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought to myself “I don’t really want to do good, but I am anyway.. does that mean I’m being a hypocrite?  Shouldn’t I want to serve God?  I should probably just sin because I feel like I’m faking this goodness anyway…”

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”
–Romans 12:9

It doesn’t say “Love what is good” or “Have a desire to do what is good”.

God commands us to cling to what is good.

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“Actual” Movies

7 March, 2008 (11:52am) | Blog | 1 comment

In the early days of cinema, there was a branch of film that appealed mostly to children through the humor, playfulness, and innocence of animation. Pioneered by Walt Disney, this kind of art has been widely loved and adored by all ages, parents and children alike, for many generations. In spite of the fact that we generally enjoy animation, most people generally looked upon those movies as “cartoons” (rather than “actual” movies) that were geared for kids. Not adults.

Pixar has been the leader in educating the stubborn adult public that a cartoon can be just as enjoyable and full of meaning as a “real” movie. Sometimes even more so. But still, even Pixar films are for kids. The change is that they are also for adults.

This mindset has been in place so long that when an animated film comes out we automatically think “Oh, yay! A fun family film! Honey, get the kids, it’s movie time!” Slowly, though, we are more and more going to see animated (mostly Pixar) films without bringing the kids, and accepting that we can have a good time and get just as much food for thought out of The Incredibles as we can The Godfather. (Don’t judge me for comparing those. They’re both good, and you know it.)

With the rising acceptance of animated features as “actual movies” instead of “kids movies” more and more filmmakers are willing to add more adult themes to their “cartoons” than, say, 25 years ago. This cannot be more evident than in the recent Oscar nominee Persepolis — a film geared specifically towards not-kids.

Persepolis is an animated film about dictatorship, revolution, communism, and capitalism. And coming of age. Does that strike you as an odd subject for a cartoon? Here’s a hint: It’s not a cartoon. It’s a movie.

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Well, it did.

25 February, 2008 (11:10am) | Blog | 1 comment

Where I live, the art scene is very sparse. And, by “sparse” I mean “the general public here would rather burn slowly in hell for all eternity than subject themselves to such torture as sitting through a movie like 12 Angry Men or Koyaanisqatsi and complained that Michael Clayton didn’t have a plot”.

A perfect example of this is when No Country For Old Men came out. I went to see it with my brother, and (surprise, surprise) Our local theater was showing it in theater 5. Theater 5 is the one where they move all the movies to that they have to keep showing, but nobody is going to see them. Really, I’m more surprised that it was showing in our town at all than that nobody wanted to see it.

Back on topic.. my brother an I were two of maybe 10 people in the whole theater watching the movie, and everyone else that was there was talking through the movie exclaiming how much they didn’t get what was going on. When the movie was over I was sitting there reeling from the magnificence of what I just saw when somebody mentioned “That movie was so weird. It made no sense.” the reply from another movie goer was “Yeah, it’ll probably win best picture.. hahaha!!

Need I say more?

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Buttons and Screws

23 February, 2008 (10:59pm) | Blog | No comments

Have you ever noticed how much our life revolves around little things? Take a look at your morning routine..

8:20 – wake up and put on glasses*
8:21 – take out retainer*
8:22 – put toothpaste* on my toothbrush* and brush my teeth*
8:24 – take my wallet* keys* phone* guitar picks* out of the pockets* my jeans from yesterday and put them in my current jeans.
8:25 – forget where my shoes* are.
8:27 – find my shoes*
8:28 – start car** (with car keys*)
8:29 – go to work

We never really pay attention to things like that until they are lost, or stop working. The screws* is my glasses* that keep the lenses* in have started coming lose rather regularly, and every once in a while they will pop out. Lord save me if it happens in a carpeted room**. I then have to spend an hour of my (now blind) life hunting for a screw* that I would have trouble seeing with my glasses* on.

One of these days I will get new glasses**.

*a little thing
**not a little thing

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What is a Christian?

30 October, 2007 (12:25pm) | Blog | 2 comments

Excerpt taken from What Is A Christian? by Wayne Mack. Please read the whole article.

What is a Christian? Here are some common misconceptions:

Salvation is by good works.
“Well, I certainly am a Christian; I’m doing the best I can. I try to live by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.”

Salvation is the free gift of God.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”
Ephesians 2:8-9

The word “grace” means unmerited favor.

Salvation is by heredity.
“Most assuredly, I’m a Christian. If I’m not, I don’t know who is. My mother and father are very religious. I have an uncle who is a minister.”

Physical heritage, blood lineage, family connections or any other such factors, do not have anything to do with whether or not a person is a Christian.

“But as many as received him [Jesus Christ], to them God gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”
John 1:12-13

Salvation is by religious activity.
“Indeed I am. I have always gone to church and Sunday School. I have been baptized and confirmed. I joined the church when I was fourteen.”

a Christian is not simply one who is active in religious matters.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me”
Matthew 7:22-23

Salvation is by profession of faith.
“I know I’m a Christian because when the evangelist gave the invitation I went to the front and made a decision for Christ. My counselor showed me that if I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour, I would never be lost again. I didn’t want to be lost–hell is a terrible place–so I accepted Jesus, and I know now that no matter what happens, God will never reject me. I know it because I went to the altar and professed faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man”
John 2:23-25

These people made a profession of faith but our Lord would not trust himself unto them because he knew that their profession of faith was not real.

You just can’t know whether or not you are saved.
“I don’t don’t know if I am, and I don’t see how anyone can really know for sure in this life. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I die to find out.”

“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”
2 Timothy 1:12

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God”
1 John 5:13

Every human being is a Christian and will most certainly go to heaven.
“Sure, I’m a Christian. Isn’t everybody? Isn’t God the Father of all men? We may be going by different roads, but all of these roads lead to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, just so you are sincere–everyone who is sincere in his own religion is a Christian.”

“He that believeth on him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”
John 3:18

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”
John 3:36

When tested by the standard of God’s Word these six common answers to the question, “What is a Christian?” are proved to be inadequate and false. All of them are contrary to the Word of God. According to the Bible if your answer to the question “What is a Christian?” is any one of the six opinions that we have just considered, you are wrong. According to the Bible if the basis for your hope of heaven is founded upon any one of these opinions, your hope is based upon a wrong foundation and you are not a Christian. Why? Because a Christian is not simply a person who performs good works; or a person who has been born of Godly parents; or a person who is active in religious matters; or a person who has made a profession of faith; or a person who has been baptized; or a person who has responded to an invitation.

So how can we know what a Christian really is?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Psalm 119:105

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. [...] The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Psalm 19:7-8

“[...] the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching [to teach us what is true], rebuking [to make us realize what is wrong in our lives], correcting [to straighten out our errors] and training in righteousness [to teach us and train us in what is right].”
2 Timothy 3:15-16

These Scriptures tell us that God has given us the Bible to make us wise in spiritual matters. Therefore, it only makes sense that we should turn to the Bible to find an answer to the question “What is a Christian?” If we want to travel to a certain city, we get a map and discover the best way to go. We don’t turn to some person who has never been there for directions because he doesn’t know any more about it than we do. Nor do we turn to a philosophy or science book for directions. No, we turn to a map of the area in which that city is located because that map was made to give us directions. So it is with the Bible. It was produced by the inspiration and superintendence of Almighty God that we might be made wise concerning the way of salvation.

Here is what the Bible says a Christian is:

A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 6:15; 2 Peter 1:2-4; James 1:17;
1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:15-16; James 1:18; 1 John 5:1; John 1:12-13; Titus 3:5; John 5:24-25; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:24,32

A Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
1 John 3:4; Romans 7:24; Romans 7:21-23; Psalm 51; Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 18:13; Romans 8:7-8; John 3:7; Romans 3:9-19; Romans 3:23; Romans 8:7-8; Psalm 10:4; Psalm 53:1-3; Psalm 58:3; Psalm 143:2; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 22:15; Jeremiah 13:23; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; John 8:44,34; Ephesians 2:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:4; 1 John 1:10

A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh and the only Saviour and substitute of sinners.
Romans 5:15; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 15:21; John 8:40; Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 4:15; John 14:30; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 8:29; John 17:1-4; Luke 1:35; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 27:4; Matthew 23:41; Luke 1:35; Mark l:24; 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:26; 9:14; John 1:1,14; John 10:30; John 14:9b;Hebrews 1:8; Romans 9:5; John 20:28; 1 John 3:16; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20; Isaiah 6:1-4; John 12:41; Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13; Matthew 10:32,37; Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 2:5-12; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 24:27,44; John 1:1,3,29; John 2:25; John 3:13,36; John 5:17,46; John 6:35; John 8:12, John 56-58; John 10:27-30; John 11:25-26; John 14:9-11; John 21:17; Acts 10:43; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 2:5-6; Colossians 1:14,16,17; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Hebrews 1:3,10; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 9:6; 1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 19:10; Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; John 14:6; John 3:18; John 3:36; Acts 4:12; Matthew 5:17; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 10:4; John 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:19,21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 3:24-26; Romans 5:6-11; Ephesians 1:6-7; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:9,19; James 2:10;

A Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 3:18,36; John 10:25-26; Luke 13:3; Luke 5:32; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 3:19,26; Acts 10:36-43; Acts 11:18; Acts 17:30; Acts 20:17-21; Acts 26:19-20; Revelation 3:17-20; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 18:13; Luke 23:40-41; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:18; Psalm 119:104; Ezekiel 20:43; Isaiah 55:7; Proverbs 28:13; Ezekiel 36:25-32; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 15:18; Psalm 51:1-12; Luke 22:59-62; Luke 13:3; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:36; John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9,10,13; Luke 14:27;

What then, in summary, is a Christian?

A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. A Christian is a person who has been deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit of his own unworthiness before God and of his desperate need of God’s mercy. A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the God-man who came into the world to be the only Saviour and Substitute of sinners. A Christian is a person who has genuinely repented of his sins and savingly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has actually looked unto Jesus Christ for salvation and called upon Jesus Christ for salvation.

Having seen the clear teaching of Scripture on the essence of Christianity, I want to press home a very personal question at this point—can you honestly say that you are a Christian? Remember the essence of Christianity is not any of the things that we mentioned at the beginning of this article. We have seen from the Bible which is the only book to which we can turn for an answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” that these are false answers. If you have been clinging to these illusions about Christianity, turn from them to believe what the Bible has to say in answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” Turn from your own opinions and the opinions of others to the infallible Word of God “which is able to make you wise unto salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). Ask God to impress upon you your own unworthiness and to reveal to you his Son Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save all sinners who would come to him. Call upon his name to save you now, for his promise is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Ask him to forgive your sins, thank him for dying in the place of lost sinners, confess Jesus Christ before men as the Lord and Sovereign of your life and be assured that if you have sincerely done this or will do this, you may stand up before God and men and confess, “by the all availing and powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has now worked in my life, I am a Christian.”

Read the whole article here.

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The Sad Story Of Dave The Being And His Happy Little Airplane Friend

23 October, 2007 (10:59am) | Blog | No comments

High up in the stratosphere, there lurks the being Dave. He has been sitting up there observing our radio and television broadcasts for a long time, and has learned many things from us. Unfortunately, his language of choice is Armenian, though he knows most of the other languages. Drifting lazily on an updraft one day, Dave saw an airplane.
“(Whatever the Armenian is for ‘Oh, look! An airplane!’)”, he said.
“Well, hello there, Dave!” the airplane answered in English (all the airplanes had gotten to know Dave very well through the course of his stay in the earth’s stratosphere, but none of them spoke Armenian), “How are you?”
“I couldn’t be better. Where are you headed on a fine day like this?”
“I’m headed for Chili!”
“Oh, dear, that is quite a long ways away! Are you going to take any breaks in between?”
“No, in fact, and I am quite tired right here. By the time I get there I shall be thoroughly exhausted!”
“That’s too bad”, said Dave sorrowfully. Suddenly, he had a flash of insight, “Oh, Airplane! I am just sitting down for tea. Why don’t you join me and recover your strength?”
“Why, that is a splendid idea, Dave!” the airplane said. He halted in midair and straight away fell out of the sky to his death. For every one knows that airplanes can only stay in the air as long as they are moving.

Moral: Never trust a being named Dave that speaks Armenian and floats around in the sky.

The end.

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25 August, 2007 (9:26pm) | Blog | No comments

Note: I do not pretend to know anything about death. No one close to me has ever died, thank God. This blog is just some thoughts I have about grief, and hope. Along with an aside about faith. If anything I say is irrelevant or false concerning this subject, please correct me.

(dĕth) n.
1. The act of dying; termination of life.
2. The state of being dead.
3. The cause of dying.
4. A manner of dying.

The dictionary doesn’t know a thing about death.

We as humans have an innate fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is going to happen when we die; whether it will be painful, or pleasant; conscious or ignorant; light or dark. Is there something waiting for us on the other side? Or will it be a void?

As Christians, we have a hope that the world does not have. An assurance of the unknown. We know that Christ has promised us an eternal life with him. And we have even more than just hope: we are actually able to look forward to departing from this world!

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”
-2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Of course, we can’t go around killing ourselves just because we want to get to heaven. Our time on earth is short lived and we must strive to make the best of what God has given us.

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:9-10

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Philippians 1:27

Sufjan Stevens, in his album Come on and feel the Illinoise!, sings a song of a loved one who died from cancer of the bone. The song treats the event as, probably, the saddest thing that ever happened to him, but the music is almost joyous. Reminiscing about the detailed memories of the light on her shoulder blade, or running outside with her shirt tucked in, and her shoes untied, the singer gives these seamingly meaningless memories a sense of absolute meaning.

“In the morning, through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading”
Casimir Pulaski Day, Sufjan Stevens

It is the ultimate love song between a man and woman, because she is dead. He has no reason to try to make the song romantic, because he isn’t singing to anyone. He is singing from his heart. Happiness, sadness, hope, and longing are some of the emotions he goes through. At the moment in the song where the news breaks that she has died, a chorus of horns break in, giving the song joy, and triumph.

Shouldn’t we grieve in the same way? Shouldn’t we be joyful when our beloved leave this world? On the other hand..

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”
Ezekiel 18:32

Should we be joyous? God doesn’t take pleasure in death, why should we? Death came upon man after the fall, and death shall be no more after Christ returns.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

Why do we have to die in the first place? Death was a part of the curse man brought upon himself by rebelling against God. But Christians, being washed by Christ’s blood and being new creations, are no longer under that curse. Every single time Jesus was in the presence of a dead person, he raised them from the dead. He didn’t accept death…

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

..why should we?

“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”
Philippians 4:1

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