The following are half-thoughts that I’ve written down, with the intent making a full post for.  But after some time, I realized there just isn’t that much content for these. So I’ll just write out my thoughts and see where it takes us.

  • In high school, it was rumored that I broke Brandon Brown’s pinky during football practice.  It was said that while matched up against him during a passing play, that I slapped his hand while he try to catch the ball, which made it so it hit his pinky.  First off, I am flattered that people thought I could keep up with him and even guard him properly. And for the record, no I didn’t slap his hand; it was just a poorly thrown ball from a coach with a lot of sun in our eyes.
  • I enjoy group-effort games.  This explains why I only enjoyed Mario Party for the team mini games and Halo, Gauntlet, X-men legends or games like those for the co-op adventures.  Especially if it’s player vs. environment as it subtracts the variable of another team that loses. Video games aside, this is why I also enjoy escape rooms and board games such as Pandemic.
  • There was one year where I went to China with extended family and unfortunately, all of our luggage went onto the wrong plane.  So, not too long after we landed, we made our way to a store similar Walmart or Costco and bought clothes and toiletries. It was an interesting experience wearing clothes made for the local peoples.  Even though it was the middle of Summer, it was impossible to find short sleeved shirts, so we ended up buying scissors to cut the sleeves off and use them as undershirts. We found the jean pockets were too small and shallow to hold anything significant and everything seemed to have a weird starchy feeling to it.

  • During CSM, we were split into groups of 3 to roam the streets of Downtown LA to converse and interact with the homeless.  It was Matt, Peter and me as we came across a man. He might have been a war veteran caught on tough times just based off of his apparel and overall demeanor.  At one point we bring up the gospel and he tells us he knows about it, but lost his Bible. Peter then offers him his own Bible to keep. He thanks us and turns to show us his favorite verse: 

    “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
    -Hebrews 13:12We part ways and realize that we forgot to tell him about the Union Rescue Mission.  So Matt and I run a block or two to where he was to tell him and he’s not there. And there’s that brief moment where we thought “hmm.. Was he an angel?”.  Or maybe he left on a bus. Who knows?

  • It’s well known that I used to play League of Legends under the moniker of gimsh.  Some of the greatest memories I have with the game aren’t necessarily the victories and achievements, but the times I was able to play with friends.  Notably, I spent a considerable time playing with iSpecialist, negxalt, wrekhavok, BenGmite, hapanese, khat23, KuyaLes, RECKLESSWAG and smoh (Lauren).  It’s notable because for the longest time, I just knew them as Lauren’s friends from Long Beach or the Long Beach guys. We knew each other’s voices because we would be communicating through Skype.  We joked that we refused to meet in person (there were a couple opportunities) because then it would destroy the magic and mystery of it all.
  • Meet the Robinsons is a terribly underrated movie.  I especially liked the theme of repeating “keep moving forward”.  I actually printed out that quote and put it up in my dorm room to keep me motivated during sophomore year in college.  It would have been nice to look ~20 years into the future to see that everything was going to be okay, but it wasn’t necessary.
  • It bothers me how dependent people are on their smartphones.  I know there are a handful of justified reasons and rather than go on a tirade, I’ll just leave this video here to chew on.



Behind the Music: Vanilla Clockists (Prequel)

I was digging through some old emails and I came across a couple of old sound files.  You see, whenever we made a new song together, Stu would email it to me. What I found was the first two takes of Vanilla Clockists.  Have a listen:

We were just jamming and Caleb hadn’t even arrived yet.  It’s cool because you can kind of hear the experimenting, trial and error that we went through before we reached the final product.  You might be wondering, what were you doing sifting through 9-10 year old emails?  To be honest, I was looking to find the exact days we produced/released each song.  For the curious:

8/14/2008 – Live Life
12/21/2008 – The Jessica(ists) ft. Marty (in spirit)
1/11/2009 – Vanilla Clockists
2/7/2009 – La Parabole du Ballon Perdu ft. Spencer
6/18/2009 – Glove and Gain
12/20/2009 – sometimes
1/17/2010 – Africa

I almost feel like we should be celebrating ten year anniversaries for each of these!  It’s silly the way I value these songs. I mean, I still listen to them from time to time.  Even though production quality is terrible and some of it is cringe-worthy, I’m proud to have been apart of creating them.  Maybe it’s a man thing? I hear that men like to marvel at their own creation(s), however good or bad it may be.

Nostalgia is powerful.  These songs remind me of great and simpler times.  Times that were easier to get together because we all lived in neighboring cities.  We still had breaks, weren’t working and were so carefree. Make the most of your Summer and Winter breaks in college; I think I certainly did.

“I think I believe her when she says, ‘Life can be so simple if we’d all just learn to pray'”

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

Why am I repeatedly attracted to non-Christian ladies? I’m not talking about the immoral, liberal, deceptive, blatantly “worldly” women that might come to mind as complete antitheses of a “good” Christian woman. Those are not — as far as I can presently consciously discern myself — the qualities I’m attracted to in the general non-Christian ladies whom I am referring to. By the world’s standards, these ladies I’m thinking of are “good“, nice, honest, hard-working people with admirable values, the ones whom most people consider “winners” or “keepers” and whom most parents want their children to marry. The problem is… God calls us to more than “goodness”. So much more.

Post-modern thinking has so sharply reduced the whole of Christianity to exuding love, doing good works, and becoming “better” people. (I confess that I myself sometimes fall victim to this reduced perception of Christianity.) While these ideas do echo important ideas and applications of Biblical Christianity, they leave out the foundation and the motivation that sits beneath them and breathes purpose and power into them: the gospel.

The gospel is the story of God redeeming sinners. The gospel begins with God. God created man in His image and provided for all his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. God was the Creator and man was the creature, so there was a natural order that man was to serve and worship his Maker. Man was at this time in perfect communion with God, enjoying the uninhibited presence of God and worshipping Him, as he was created to do. But despite being in glorious circumstances with everything that he needed and more, man disobeyed God and rebelled against Him, falling short of His glory and disqualifying himself from the paradise of glorious communion with his Creator. Man’s sin broke the relationship between him and God. As a perfectly just God, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished, so man blemished with sin is necessarily sentenced to suffer God’s eternal wrath in hell. On his own, man had and still today has no power to repair this broken relationship. But God, in His perfect love, sent His Son Jesus to live a life of a man in the perfect obedience that we failed to live in and die the bloody death on the cross that, because of His perfectly obedient life, was solely qualified to serve as the substitution for the spiritual deaths (eternal separation from God in hell) that we all fully deserved. Three days after Jesus’ death and burial, He resurrected from death, authenticating the sufficiency of His death to resurrect man from his sin and from the penalty of his sin so that they might return to the originally intended state of glorious communion with God His Creator. Through the finished work of Jesus, this free gift is readily available to all those who would believe. The gospel is unfinished, but it will be finished. Just as the gospel began with God, the gospel will also finish with God when Jesus comes again to claim His people and make a new heavens and a new earth at the consummation of the ages. At that time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is God, and He will receive all the honor and praise and adoration for evermore. God, in a unilateral covenant with man, unconditionally loves and saves His own people for His own glory.

THIS is what defines and distinguishes true Christianity from any and every other theological or religious system of thinking. THE GOSPEL is why we the Redeemed strive to love — because He first loved us. THE GOSPEL is why we the Redeemed do good works. THE GOSPEL is why we the Redeemed pursue holiness and sanctification (to become “better” people) — because God calls us to “be holy just as [He] is holy.” Clearly, people don’t need the gospel in order to show love, in order to do good works, or in order to live conservative, pious lives. This is what many people in our contemporary society do. They just strive to be “good people”, but they are not religious. They don’t need religion to be good people, they say. This may appear to be true, but this is where this gospel distinctive of Christianity is crucial: the end goal is not to be good people. The end goal is the glory of God. Pastor John M. Kim says in his message “The Glory of God in the Church”:

“The glory of God is what we would call the summum bonum of life, the greatest good, the highest good. And if we understand that all of life revolves around this, the glory of God, then everything that we would be a part of, it would be the best thing. Why? Because it’s about the best thing: the glory of God. Romans 11:36 says, ‘And from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.’ You see if we indeed understand that all things are from God and that we are only able to do all things for God, and that all things are ultimately for His glory, if that defines our world view, if we have that as the central and the primary reference point of our lives, then that would affect everything else that we do.”

You may not need the gospel to be what you or the world may consider a “good person”, but you do need the gospel to glorify God. In an age when so many professing Christians and so-called churches “water down” Christianity and don’t talk about sin, damnation, judgment, and hell, it’s no wonder that post-modern thinking has flourished and that people think that they don’t need the gospel. They think this because their aim is too limited, their understanding is incomplete, their sight is blinded. Their goal is merely to be a “good person.” The goal of those redeemed by the gospel is the glory of God. Christians ought not necessarily to strive to be “good people” but to be GOSPEL people.

SO, finally returning to my original quandary: though I wouldn’t say it aloud, I sometimes find myself asking in my heart of hearts, “Why are the beautiful ladies never the godly ones?” But I should be asking myself, “Why are the godly ladies not beautiful to me?” because if I were a godly man, they would be beautiful to me. As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The fact that I am attracted to ladies who are deemed “good people” by the world but are not “gospel people” speaks of my own spiritual immaturity as a gospel person.

At the end of the day, I am thankful that my mind has been renewed enough by the Holy Spirit to think Biblically and clearly enough to not actually pursue romance with a non-Christian lady, but when I check my heart, I realize that I am still attracted to a lot of things in non-Christian ladies. These are not bad things to be attracted to: a fun personality, a pretty face, a good work ethic, a nice smile, a passion for her work and/or for service, a good smell, a compassion for people and a vigor for helping them, confidence, determination, intelligence, some charming quirk — these are things that a Proverbs 31 woman (an ideal Christian wife) very well could (for some of these qualities, should) have — but the fact that I would be attracted to the whole of a woman for these things devoid of the gospel rooted in and bearing fruit in her life to the extreme that I would think in my heart, “Man, if only I didn’t care about ‘those gospel qualities,'” tells me that I still have a LOT of sanctification that needs to happen in my own heart. For what am I implying when I think such things if not, “Man, I wish I weren’t a gospel person. I wish I was blind. I wish I didn’t know the love of Christ and the joy of salvation. I wish I was completely without any real hope in this life and in the eternity to come.” What audacity! What foolishness! Woe is me!

The more I become a gospel person and not just a good person, the more I will be attracted to other gospel people, specifically, the one gospel woman who will one day (Lord-willing) be my wife in a marriage that reflects the wonderful gospel to the glory of God.

She’s been on my mind (she’s working overtime)
She’s got perfect reasons, says she loves to talk to Jesus
I think I believe her when she says
Life can be so simple if we’d all just learn to pray
-“Everything Little Thing”, Hawk Nelson

Condense Milk

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

It’s about 2:26am in the morning and I open up my fridge to find nearly a whole can of condense milk still unused. Condense milk goes fast in my house because my Grandpa and I use it like it’s water. We spread it on toast, he puts it in his coffee, I put it in my tea, and sometimes I like to add it into my strawberry smoothies. But now since he’s been recovering in the hospital for a couple days due to his dialysis surgery, it’s been just me. I hope he comes back soon..cause I can’t finish this on my own.

“The one who’s writing in the sand”

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

A few years ago I heard this term “incarnational ministry”. At first, I thought it sounded a bit heretical and a red flag went up for me. But as I’ve had more time to process it and to generally mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I think it’s an awesome term.

The dictionary defines incarnation as the act of something assuming human form, being embodied in flesh. In Christian doctrine, the Incarnation is the belief that God, who is spirit (no physical form; John 4:24), became a physical man with the name Jesus and died (Philippians 2:8) in our place for the sins that men had committed. The offering of Jesus’ perfect human life makes atonement and forgiveness of sins available to mankind because His righteousness is imputed to us in place of our sinfulness. This is verified by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead three days after His death. In order to help us, God, the Creator of the universe and the Lord of the heavens, humbled Himself (Philippians 2:8), became one of us, lived among us so that He could see and experience our struggles first-hand so that He can now relate to and sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus has given us the model for ministry. Jesus has commanded us to make disciples for Him (Matthew 28:19), which implies that we must share the gospel, the “good news” of His birth, death, and resurrection, and the life-altering impact of those things on us today. I have at times fallen into a misguided overly zealous attitude in which I just want to tell as many people about the gospel as I can in as little time as possible. But looking at the ministry model of Jesus, I’m reminded that sharing the gospel always in some way needs to be relational.  As the popular adage goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jesus cared. A lot. Multiple times, Scripture tells us that Jesus felt compassion for people (Matthew 15:32, Matthew 20:34, Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34). He spent quality time with them. He put Himself in their shoes, saw what they saw, and felt what they felt. This is incarnational ministry: humbling yourself, sympathizing, feeling compassion.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for all people so that I may by all means win some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 New American Standard Bible)

Jesus, friend of sinners
The one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away
And the stones fall from their hands

-Casting Crowns, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

“Only when no one is watching can we really fall apart”

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

I was briefly talking today with a friend who is looking for a church. One quality of churches that came up in the conversation is the level of openness with which people are comfortable sharing about their struggles with specific sins. In some churches people will freely share that they are struggling with gambling, drugs, alcohol, pornography, adultery,… In other churches, people don’t feel like they can do that. There’s too much of a culture of shame in which people are afraid to show their imperfections lest they be judged, shunned, looked down upon, ridiculed, and, to some degree, socially ostracized. So instead of confiding in anyone to find support, they wallow in their sin and shame by themselves until it becomes too unbearable and they give up on church and God and no one ever knows why.

In most churches, I don’t think that “guilt-ing” “sinful” people out of Christianity is ever the intention. (We’re all sinful.) But what does a healthy church culture of open sharing look like? I don’t think it means that every single member of the church has to share with every other member their deepest, darkest sin. But I think everyone should have a godly, prayerful, Biblically sound brother or sister whom they are willing to confide everything in without fear of being judged or jeopardizing the relationship. Visitors should know that those relationships exist, and church members (all church members; not just staff) should be interested and active in making sure that every regular church attendee has those relationships.

But just because you visit the worship service of a church and you don’t see gambling and pornography mentioned left and right doesn’t mean that the church ignores the reality that people struggle with those sins, nor does it mean they’re they afraid to tackle those issues (although that could be true). I think there is wisdom in not sharing those things in an open congregation so that others will not be tempted to commit that same sin and/or misunderstand that that sin is acceptable to commit. People will think to themselves when they are being tempted, “Well, if So-And-So, who’s really spiritual and who I look up to, did it then I can do it too!” As a church we want to accept sinners without endorsing their sin. Sin is under no circumstance OK. Whatever we do to encourage deep and open sharing, we need to make sure that this principle is always clear.

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
-Casting Crowns, “Stained Glass Masquerade”

Am I a Fool?

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

Lord, am I a fool for waiting on You?
Lord, am I a fool for seeking Your heart and Your ways?
Lord, am I a fool for following You in my career choice?
Lord, am I a fool for surrendering my timing to be in a relationship?
Lord, am I a fool for listening to You to move back home?
Lord, am I a fool for wanting to live the story You have designed for me?

Lord, do not forsake me.

“As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children”

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

I was talking with a friend who is also (like me) a Christian. He had recently returned from a Christian conference where he had heard many speakers deeply grounded in their firm theologies and fine expository preaching. My friend noted how densely packed with precise, academic jargon their messages were, a characteristic which was not quite to my friend’s personal liking. He told me that while he did appreciate that “headiness” and “intellectualism”, it just wasn’t “his thing”. He’s “more about” showing practical love and doing things. I have a great respect for this friend because he has shown me and so many others throughout his life testimony that he certainly does practice what he preaches, sacrificially loving and investing in others in remarkable ways and continually exuding an undying and contagious joy that can only be so through the Holy Spirit. My respect for him coupled with the fact that I do think I personally identify as more of the intellectual, deep-thinking type makes this difficult, but I do have to respectfully disagree with his stance to brush aside the intellectual depths of theology for himself. I believe every Christian has a duty to pursue an understanding of the nuances of his (or her) beliefs and the ability to clearly explain and defend every said nuance.

This is especially critical in a society with so many varying belief systems to choose from. I’m not just talking about the classic-example, big-name religions you always hear about: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam. But even under the umbrella of monotheistic “Christianity” there are so many lenses through which someone could choose to understand God, Scripture, and Christian living: religious syncretism, Christian hedonism, pragmatism, and asceticism are just a few of these popular, controversial lenses. (You should look them up and learn about them if you don’t know what they are.) People find it ludicrous that out of the hundreds if not thousands of these different theologies out there there could be a single “correct” one.

But the Word of God begs to differ.

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” -2 Peter 1:20-21 NASB

Anything that does not agree with Scripture distorts Scripture. The apostle Paul often warned about this in his epistles:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” -Colossians 2:8 NASB

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” -2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB

Scripture indicates that spiritual warfare is related to what happens in your mind:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” -2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB

When we stop pursuing sharp, discerning minds we lose the ability to distinguish between what is truth and what is a distortion of the truth. These distortions of truth are usually very close to truth — they are not overtly wrong, because then who would fall for it? — and sound very good, but ultimately are misleading and result in a false gospel, a false Christianity, and a false salvation.

This is why Paul prayed that “your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…” (Philippians 1:9-10 NASB).

I will never forget my pastor saying that Satan doesn’t really care about making you do little sins here and there. What he really wants is your soul. He wants to keep you from salvation and drag you down to hell with him. And he is strategic, crafty, and powerful. What better way to damn you to eternal punishment in hell than to make you think that you are saved when you really are not? I believe Satan has played a major role in bringing about the great diversity of philosophical thinking that we see today in order to divert people from thorough exegesis of Scripture and adoption of sound doctrinal principles that lead to our justification and sanctification in Christ.

So what are you going to do about it?

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
-Casting Crowns, “While You Were Sleeping”

Jesus Take The Wheel

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

I fear I won’t get my license. It’s the one essential priviledge that I’m afraid I’ll never achieve.

Come to think of it, I was the first out of all my friends to get my permit at 15 ½ and first to actually experience going behind the wheel. I remember the day I went in for my first (yes there was a second) Behind the Wheel test at the Montebello DMV. It was the summer after I had turned 16 :It was a hot August day, sun beating down on my white Corolla, A/C at a medium blast as to keep the tester comfy, as I inched up the line to meet my fate. When I reached the front, a nice old man came to sit next to me and tested me on my driving signals. We hit it off from from the beginning. A cheshire grin spread across my face. “I’ve got this,” I thought to myself. But then…something happened (DJ scratchy sound effect). The nice old man whom I thought to be my test proctor for the day suddenly decided to take his Lunch Break and asked “Belinda” to take over. Now, after Belinda poked directions at me with her long stiletto-red acrylics, I suddenly became very nervous. I’ll spare the gruesome details and just say that I didn’t do so hot. I remember coming out and my mom asking how it went. I just started crying my eyes out until i had triple eyelids. After the my second try, which I also did not pass, I felt like I had enough of this business. No more motivation, no more self-esteem, no nothin. I didn’t try again for another four years.

Why hello everybody. I’m here 4 years later, attempting my hand at this driving. My new driving instructor, Phan, GUARANTEES a pass. I’m not sure if he’s ever met a Jackie like me, but he’s shared quite of a few testimonies similar to mine which gives me confidence. Scary huh? We went out for our first lesson today which turned out to be pretty smoothe. Even when I drove well under the speed limit or braked really hard at a red cause I couldn’t stop chatting, he always assured me by saying, “It’s okay…relax..I can see your muscles and your veins.” All I can say is, if he can see “muscles” then I don’t mind driving a bit more. Phan says I’m ready for the freeway on Thursday so..hide your parents, hide your elders.

“things I take back”

This is a re-blog because I found it interesting. I’ll leave the writer and context anonymous to keep things intriguing and mysterious.

Do you have any regrets so far in life?

While this word “regret” isn’t all that uncommon in society, there are a handful of optimistic people who will tell you that they have no regrets because even when they made a bad decision, they were able to learn from it and become a “better” person because of that experience. This sounds nice. I think I used to be one of those people. I completely agree that we can and should all learn from our mistakes, but there’s a difference between making an honest mistake and doing something when you know it’s wrong. As I concluded in a prior post (“What is the monster we’ve become?”), you simply shouldn’t do things when you know they’re wrong.
But what if you factually, superficially know something is wrong, but you haven’t personally experienced the “wrongness” or the consequences of doing that wrong thing? Isn’t it by our (sinful) human nature that as soon as someone tells us not to do something, we start thinking about doing it? So then you do it. If you never do it again it’s probably because you reaped severe enough consequences for your actions, which somehow affected you so that you then experientially understood why that thing was wrong, and you vowed never to do it again. For example, you cheated on a test, got caught, got expelled, and after that decided that you would never cheat on another test. Should you regret having done it in the first place? If you hadn’t done it, you wouldn’t have such a strong conviction about not doing it (again) now. Does that justify your action? Did you really have to do it and suffer consequences to know it was wrong?
Do you have to kill someone to know it’s wrong? Is it possible for you to not regret ending someone’s life? Could you justify that?
I heard, heard myself
Say things I take back
If I could, could retell
And make these stories last
-“Shadows and Regrets”, Yellowcard