Archive for the ‘ growing thoughts. ’ Category

Relevant Calvin

I’m finally on Easter Break!  You know what that means? I get to read! So, I’m reading a sermon by John Calvin called Pure Preaching of the Word, and I have found it to be especially enlightening in light of recent arguments about Heaven and Hell.  This is a hefty passage from the sermon, but I think that you’ll find yourself enjoying what Calvin has to say.   May the Gospel of Christ on the Cross, his resurrection and gift of the Holy Spirit refresh and renew you this season.

SERMON IV.

2 Timothy 2:16, 17, 18

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.  And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus;  Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

We have already shown that St. Paul hath, not without cause, diligently exhorted Timothy to follow the pure simplicity of the word of God,without disguising it. The doctrine which is set forth to us in God’s name, to be the food of our souls, will be corrupted by the devil, if in his power : when he cannot destroy it, he blendeth things with it, in order to bring it into contempt, and destroy our knowledge of the will of God. There are many at this day, who put themselves forward to teach: and what is the cause of it? Ambition carrieth them away: they disguise the word of God: and thus satan goeth about to deprive us of the spiritual life.

But this he is notable to accomplish, unless by some means the doctrine of God be corrupted. St. Paul repeateth the exhortation; that we must shun all unprofitable babbling, and stay ourselves upon plain teaching, which is forcible. He not only condemneth manifest errours, superstition, and lies, but he condemneth the disguising of the word of God: as when men invent subtleties, to cloy men’s ears; bringing no true nourishment to the soul, nor edification in faith, and the fear of God, to the hearers. .

When St. Paul speaketh of vain babbling, he meaneth that which contenteth curious men; as we see many that take great pleasure in vain questions* wherewith they seem to be ravished. They do not openly speak against the truth, but they despise it as a thing too common end base; as a thing for children and fools; as for them, they will know some higher and more profound matter. Thus they are at variance with that which would be profitable for them. Therefore, let us weigh well the words of St. Paul; vain babbling; as though he said, if there be nothing but fine rhetoric, and exquisite words, to gain him credit that speaketh, and to show that he is well learned, none of this should be received into the church; all must be banished.

For God will have his people to be edified; and he hath appointed his word for that purpose. Therefore, if we go not about the salvation of the people, that they may receive nourishment by the doctrine that is taught them, it is sacrilege: for we pervert the pure use of the word of God. This word profane, is set against that which is holy and dedicated to God. Whatsoever pertaineth to the magnifying of God, and increases our knowledge of his majesty, whereby we may worship him: whatsoever draweth us to the kingdom of heaven, or taketh our affections from the world, and leadeth us to Jesus Christ, that we may be grafted into his body, is called holy.

On the contrary, when we feel not the glory of God, when we feel not to submit ourselves to him, when we know not the riches of the kingdom of heaven, when we are not drawn into his service to live in pureness of conscience, when we know not what the salvation meaneth which was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world, and are profaned. The doctrine which serves to mislead us in such things, is also called profane. Thus we see what St. Paul’s meaning is: to wit, when we come together in the name of God, it is not to hear merry songs, and to be fed with wind ; that is, with vain and unprofitable curiosity; but to receive spiritual nourishment. For God will have nothing- preached in his name, but that which will profit and edify the hearers; nothing but that which containeth good matter.

But it is true, our nature is such, that we take great pleasure in novelty, and in speculations which seem to be subtle. Therefore, let us beware, and think as we ought; that we may not profane God’s holy word: Let us seek that which edifieth, and not abuse ourselves by receiving that which hath no substance in it. It is hard to withdraw men from such vanity, because they are inclined to participate in it: But St. Paul showeth, that there is nothing more miserable than such vain curiosity: ««For they will increase unto more ungodliness.” As if he had said, my friends, you know not at first sight what hurt cometh by these deceivers; who go about to gain credit and estimation among you, and with pleasant toys endeavour to please you: but believe me, they are satan’s instruments; and such as in no wise serve God; but increase unto more wickedness: that is, if they are let alone, they will mar the christian religion; they will not leave one jot safe and sound. Therefore, see that you flee them as plagues; although – at first sight, the poison which they bring be not perceived.

Every one of us should suspect himself, when we have to judge of this doctrine. And why so? Because, (as I said before,) we are all weak; our minds are altering and changing; and besides, we have a foolish desire that draweth to things which are unprofitable. And therefore let us beware that we do not satisfy our own desires. Although this doctrine may not seem bad to us at the first view, yet notwithstanding, if it has not a tendency to lead us to God, and strengthen us in his service, to confirm us in the faith and hope that is given us of everlasting life, it will deceive us in the end; and prove to be but a mixture which serveth no purpose, except to take away the good which we had received before.

To be short, those that have not this in view, to draw the world to God, and build up the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may rule among us, mar all. All the labour and pains they take, but increases their wickedness: and if they be suffered to go on in this way, a gate is set open to satan, whereby he may bring to nought whatsoever is of God: although this is not done at the first blow, yet we see the end is such. To express this the better, St. Paul adds, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.”

‘The word “eat,” mentioned here, is not commonly understood; it is what the chirurgeons call, on eating sore; and what is also called, St. Anthony’s fire: that is to say, when there is such an inflammation in any part of the body, that the sore eateth not only the flesh and sinews, but the bones also; in short, it is a fire that devoureth all: the hand will cause the arm to be lost, and the foot the leg ; unless at the beginning, the part that is affected be cut off: thus, the man is in danger of losing his members, unless there be fit remedies provided for it; in this case we should spare no pains, but cut off the part affected, that the rest be not utterly destroyed.

Thus we view it here. spiritually: for St. Paul showeth us, that although we may have been well instructed in wholesome doctrine, all will be marred, if we give place to these unprofitable questions, and only endeavour to please the hearers, and feed their desires. Seeing we understand what St. Paul’s meaning is, let us endeavour to put this exhortation into practice. When we see men go about, endeavouring to turn us aside from the true doctrine, let us shun them, and shut the gate against them. Unless we take it in hand at the first start, and entirely cut it off, it may be as difficult to control, as the disease of which we have spoken.

Therefore, let us not be sleeping; for this is a matter of importance; it will prove a deadly disease, unless it be seen to in time. If this exhortation had been observed, things would be in a better condition at the present day in Christendom. For this doltishness of papistry, is but the vain babbling spoken of by St. Paul. Even those who would be counted the greatest doctors among them, who are of many years standing, yea, and have spent their whole life in it, think upon nothing but foolish prattling; which serveth no other purpose than to lead men astray: as no man knoweth what they mean. It seemeth that the devil hath forged this language by a miraculous subtlety, in order that he might bring all doctrine into confusion.

It is plainly perceived that they have conspired to do contrary to that which St. Paul hath in God’s name forbidden. For they that have thus turned the word of God into a profane language of barbarous and unknown words, shall be much less able to excuse themselves. Many there are that would gladly have pleasant things taught them ; they would make pastime of the word of God, and recreate themselves thereby; thus they seek vain and unprofitable teaching. They would bring errour, contention, and debate into the church, and endeavour to bring the religion we hold into doubt, and obscure the word of God.

Therefore we must be so much the more earnest to serve God, and continue constantly in the pureness of the gospel. If we have a desire to obey our God as we ought, we must practise that which is commanded us, and pray him to cleanse the church from these plagues; for they are the devil’s instruments. This might be applied to all corruptions and stumbling-blocks invented by the devil; but it is here spoken of, concerning the doctrine whereby we are quickened; which is the true food of the soul.

Hope you enjoyed that.

Ephesians 5:6

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

First Official Prayer and Support Letter

Hi friends and family!

First off, this is long. I apologize. Okay, now you can read. =]

This is my first of many prayer letters you will be – Lord willing – receiving in the coming years. I’m writing this note mainly to ask for your prayer and to let you know where I’m at in terms of graduating, my degree, and future plans!

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, I have my first of two interviews here at Azusa Pacific University for a program that the Office of World Missions (OWM) offers called H.I.S. Years (hearing, investing, serving).  7-10 applicants are chosen from the pool of 20 who submitted the application.

To give you some insight and explanation surrounding this important interview, let me begin. If you are reading this, the odds are that you most likely know that God has placed in me an immense desire to reach the unreached people groups in the world with God’s redemptive plan of salvation, the Gospel.  I have spent the last three years as an undergraduate student majoring in Theater Arts and minoring in Philosophy.  God has so incredibly blessed me by condensing a top-of-the-line four year undergraduate education program into three, significantly reducing my loans for tuition (which as it stands is a little under $40,000/year), and further enabling me to fastidiously get to the field to “fill up what is lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24) and to fulfill my ambition for preaching the gospel not ONLY where Christ has been named, but also “to preach the gospel, NOT where Christ has already been name, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:20)

In 2007, the Lord struck me with a sense of my finiteness and short period of time I have here on this earth, “For [I am] a mist that appears for a little time and vanishes,” and I need to redeem the time and pursue the Kingdom of God, not only here and now in the comfort of my relatively easy American life, but also in places where they have zero access to any resources that would even remotely point them to the Gospel.

Graduating this coming spring, I will have $43,000 in student loans in my name.  This is fantastic considering what it would be if I had taken on all four years.  However great this financial success may seem, it is still a heavy financial burden to bear and would most likely stall me from getting to the field for several more years.  As it now stands, I was planning and will continue to move in the direction of New Tribes Mission and attending their 4-year long cultural/linguistic acquisition and Bible school as well as Mastering in Education and quite possibly Intercultural Studies elsewhere using an online degree program.  This is not to mention the years I will be spending paying off my school loans before any of this can even begin to take place.  This is where H.I.S. Years comes into the picture:

H.I.S. Years is a two-year cross-cultural program designed for seniors seeking to serve cross-culturally after graduation.  It provides them with emotional and spiritual support during their final year at the school, financial assistance through means of paying student loans during the two years of service, and an assigned mentor to each student preparing to enter the cross-cultural mission field.  It is designed to give students an opportunity to serve in a missionary role in a cross-cultural context in order to prepare them for full time ministry abroad.   Ultimately, being accepted into this program would enable me to get to the field in the most efficient and time-redeeming manner that is accessible to my faculties.

My request is that you pray ardently for me this afternoon and as often as the Lord puts it on your heart.  Pray that the Lord would vindicate His Holy name as I explain the passion that he has put inside of my heart for the supremacy of his glory among the nations.  Pray that he would continue to humble me over and over and that I would joyfully accept it without bitterness or complaint.  Pray that my answers to these questions would be a reflection of the power of the Gospel and not my abilities, desires, or hopes for my own life.  Pray also for direction in the next 10 years.  My plans are at a conceptual and tentative stage, but I’m willing to take other avenues to reach the destination that I prayerfully know the Lord has for me.  And be praying if God would have you support me in anyway He sees fit in the years to come.

I love you all and pray that this letter finds you joyful, encouraged, and delighting in the Lord.

Sincerely,

Miles

The “Lure” of College (from last semester)

So, my cynical junior self wrote this post last semester when I thought the world was caving in around me.  I never finished it, so it’s quite undeveloped, but I think that it definitely had some potential.  I’ve learned quite a bit in the meantime, naturally, and will most likely post a response later.  From what I can tell, the main ingredient missing in this well-written critique, now that I look at it, is grace.  What do you think:

After attending college for any number of years (albeit, one-and-a-half, personally), you might notice an assortment of unofficial bandwagons that are immediately at your disposal.  Some of these include items, hobbies, pass-times, classes, and even causes.

There are plenty of them.  Longboards, ultimate frisbee, intramural sports, hipster clothing styles, weight (yes, weight), clubs, and the list goes on and on

For instance, almost everyone would agree that the chances of a person owning a Sector 9 Longboard after 3 weeks into their first semester of college are ridiculously high compared to pre-college years.  Most college-goers would accept this as fact.  Another adoptive bandwagon that has even enticed myself on more than one occasion is the pass-time commonly referred to as ultimate frisbee.  Yeah, sure, we all play ultimate outside of college too, but are there intramural teams that predominantly reign supreme outside of college campuses?  No.  Whether it’s an intramural or just a pick-up game, you can always find groups of people playing this on campus somewhere.

Now, this brings me to my next bandwagon.  It’s called “love.”  Fortunately, I was able to avoid this one altogether, for the most part.  You see, the drawbacks to this bandwagon are broad and all-encompassing, due to the extremely broad definition of the term.  And, unfortunately for the Christian community, it can all to easily become a buzz word… in my opinion, it already has.  The drawbacks actually allow you to be safe with your faith, allowing you to not step outside of your comfort zone (or if they do allow you to step outside your comfort zone, it’s only for a very short allotted amount of time).  They include causes like Invisible Children, and TOMS shoes, and short-term, VBS-saturated, prayer- walking mission trips, and other popular mainstream awareness programs that are readily available to all who have a few bucks to buy a t-shirt.  They, ultimately, eliminate the gospel message of salvation and replace it with feel-good-about-yourself copout deeds that can be done from the safety of your facebook account or three week adventure trips outside the US, ultimately undermining the very love that they wish to share with the world, replacing it with a selfish shallow love that is meant only to make the “doer” feel good and have a rich “spiritual experience.”  If you are a college student and you are not a part of one of these organizations, are not participating or supporting one of these short-term mission trips, or are not helping to bring our nation into an equilibrium of wealth, than you are looked down upon as being heartless and void of love.  This is what confuses me though:  I understand why these types of causes and organizations would be so popular on a secular campus, but why are they predominant on Christian campuses, such as APU?  These programs are just hitting the surface of the water, in my humble and yet strong opinion.

In my estimation, one of the main human drives and desires is to be a part of a movement that is outside and bigger than yourself.  This, as I understand it, is the corollary between the numbers of people flocking to social justice causes (and the like) and the reason for them doing so.  Think about it.  If we are going to be downright honest with ourselves, we can attribute this to the reason behind all religious movements around the world, INCLUDING Christianity.  Unfortunately, I have a blatant example:  Haiti Aid has been HUGE everywhere, including Azusa Pacific University, as it well should be; however, when a predominant chapel leader says something to the effect of, “I know that a lot of you guys are praying for the people in Haiti, but for those of you that want to step out and do something… ” I might get a little worried.  What this chapel leader just told a congregation of college students was that prayer isn’t equated with actually “doing something” to help Haiti.  I’m sorry, but the crux of the Judeo-Christian faith holds that the only way for God to start interceding and changing things here on earth is if we acknowledge that we can do nothing and only he can bring about change.  But you see, when our religious fervor is lacking, when we feel we haven’t done enough with our faith, when we feel like God is distant and we need to do something to get the “good [I might as well say emotional] feeling of God” back, we resort to scrounging for other things to fill the void that only Christ’s message of salvation and reconciliation can.  This is my explanation of the need to be a part of anything outside of ourselves.

Again, I must clarify that I in no way am opposed to social justice or the potential good it can facilitate.  I want to make the observation, though, that if you have probably read this far, you either completely agree with me, or you are shaking your head at how intolerant and ignorant I am.  This brings me to my next point:  I cannot speak against “love,” because of how broad a term “love” is.  If I do, I’m the bad guy.  This word masquerades itself as the all-encompassing “love is all you need” idea.  What we have on our hands is the new hippie generation, without the sex and drugs (well… more or less).

Alright, it’s unfinished, but I was tired of having it sit in my drafts folder for months.  What do you think? Am I right on? Should I be more gracious? More understanding? Something you disagree with vehemently? Let me hear it!

the dash between the dates

Andrew, my roommate, and I just had a profound conversation about bucket lists.  My philosophy:  It’s not the things you haven’t done, but rather, the things you have done that make your life meaningful.

I’m reminded of the movie UP. I believe this clip will explain it better than I can:

The conversation carried on and he decided, “Too many people write bucket lists.  It’s the ‘Here’s what I need to do in order to make my life meaningful,’ people that don’t get anywhere.  But it’s the people who say, ‘My life is meaningful, but here is a fun list of to-do’s that one day my kids, grandkids and signifciant others can look back on and say, ‘That was a good time,” that get the most out of life.”

I completely agree.  I’d love to go to Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Israel, China, and maybe Africa (I know right… so countercultural). I’d love to to go skydiving, be on a Michael Jackson Music Video (welp… ), live for a month like “Man vs. Wild,” be a regular on a one-hour comedy television show, perform on broadway, meet Meryl Streep, and possess telekinesis.

I am not focussed, nor am I wasting any of my time hoping to ever have the opportunity to experience any of these things.  Ultimately, these are just things I’d like to do.   It’s similar to saying “I want to eat an entire truckload of ice cream and have the magical power of not getting sick or gaining a pound.”  Yeah, I know.  You’re thinking that has nothing in common with my previous list because obviously you can’t eat an entire truckload of ice cream and have the magical power of not getting sick or gaining a pound.  That’s not the point.  The point is this:  If I set my sights on something that might not ever happen, if my goal is to experience X, Y and Z before I die, I set myself up for disappointment.

Do not think I’m being “holier than thou.”  I recognize and acknowledge that I definitely have a tendency to come off that way; however, I think it is ultimately just a misunderstanding.  Naturally, each person is his toughest critic.  I am also a person, and therefore I am my toughest critic.  My short-comings are so numerous, I’d be a fool to to EVER say I was holier than the next man.  That being said, leave this notion at the door as I continue.

I used to want to go to Broadway.  That was my all-encompassing ambition.  Theatre.  My passion. My life’s dream and joy.  Transitioning from Broadway to the big screen.  These were all thoughts that consumed my mind.  They weren’t bad, nor are they bad.  Wherever I had made up my mind to go, I would share the gospel.  But God saw fit to direct me to the foreign mission field, i.e. cross-cultural church planting among the unreached people groups of the world.  I have gladly adopted this ambition as most precious in my life.  I can completely relate to Paul in Romans 15:20.  This passion replaced Broadway.
All other things pale in comparison to this ambition or goal, if you will.  And my goal pales in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

If I ever get to live or visit or see or do or experience any of the things on “my list,” it will be because God has allowed me to do them.  I will relish in the delightful time I will have.  But I will not intentionally make time in my life for anything trivial when compared to my life’s purpose, i.e. to make sure worship of the one true Lord is happening everywhere, to the glory of God the Father.  I am not going to plan trips to Ireland or Scotland (unless of course, this is where my honeymoon is to be), and no, I might not ever shake Meryl Streep’s hand.  But there will be no misconception in my mind of ever having the delusion to do so.

I’m writing too much and it’s late.  The Bible is the final voice of reason, so consider Paul’s wise words in Philippians:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

And last but certainly not least:

“To live is Christ; to die is gain.”

While we still live on this earth, we need to be solely dependent on and solely focussed on Jesus Christ.  Dying is gain, because it means standing in the presence of the object of our lives and our faith.

OH! I almost forgot.  What does, “the dash between the dates,” mean?  Well, mine begins with 1990 and is to be determined;  1990 – ?

That dash is thin and short.  Consider James:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little and then vanishes.”

We have just a little bit of time.  Don’t focus on the little things.  Focus on the eternal. Make the most of life.  Live Christ. =]

wrapping it up.

blah blah blah I haven’t blogged in a while blah blah blah.   So here’ goes:

This semester has been fun.  Lots to tell.  Talking points?  Okay.

IMG_0306

Mutemath at the House of Blues

  • Bon Iver at Hollywood Forever

    Got tickets to Bon Iver’s sunrise concert at Hollywood Forever with an appearance from Megafaun.  Phenomenal concert! Mutemath at the House of Blues in San Diego, opened by As Tall As Lions.  Both of these with Paige Alyn Hoddick. Both of them mind-blowing.

  • Having a WAY better job than last year.  And I get to use my hands to be creative, paint, saw, shape, and build things! Aaaaand besides all the fun stuff, I have more hours, and the obvious implication of this? More pay.
  • I have been going home almost every weekend (for orthodontist reasons mostly… most of my friends here at apu have been getting upset with me.  Bitter-sweet.  Moving on.) and seeing my family, church friends, and Paige.  I don’t think this will happen as often next semester, but God knows.
  • My dad got a new lease on life having received his new kidney on his birthday this year!  Definitely a God thing to be noted.
  • I have been granted an awesome apartment (probably the coolest bachelor pad – minus the mess – EVER) with two fantastic roommates, Andrew Keahey and Chris Speed.  I’m honored.
  • My awesome D-group.  We read through the first two books of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.  Very creative and interesting books to think about, analyze, and enjoy.

Plenty of other exciting adventures took place this semester.  Besides this short list of excitements, probably one of the climaxes of my semester was the entire process of performing in The Philadelphia Story, directed by Erin Gaw.  I have been in about 16 musicals in my life, and this was my first straight play performance.  I learned priceless lessons in acting, technique, and centering that I will take with me the rest of my “acting career.”

So, up to this point, all my classes have been easy-sailing and mildly enjoyable.  After having registered for my classes for Spring semester, my conscience screams, “Buckle up.”

Picture 15

Here is my class schedule.  Other than Health, I think the semester is going to be pretty tough, considering that four of these classes involve large amounts of reading and writing; in the same breathe, I think that this coming semester will probably be one of the most enjoyably challenging experiences I have ever had to confront, on many levels.  I can’t wait.  I’m starting to take a couple classes for my Philosophy minor, which was inspired by Mr. Ryan Cowden, and I really cannot wait to take them.  Shayfer Wayne will be in my Contemporary Christian Thought class and I believe Mr. Garrett Graves and my roommate Andrew Keahey will be taking Comparative Religions with me.  Next semester will be fun and difficult, but I’m excited for the fun part.  On top of this, I have been finally scheduled to get jaw surgery.  January 27th, 2010.  Yeah, right?  It’s been a long time coming, and it will be hard to take a week, maybe two, off of school.  Just another challenge in the realm of my organizational skills.  Bring it.

This semester has been filled with new experiences, new friends, plenty of late nights and early mornings filled with 7-eleven runs, 5-hour energy drinks, intellectual conversations, and studying and papers, new professors, and new challenges.  All of these things are just a small step on the road to maturity, both physically and emotionally, and  mentally and spiritually.  With integrity, I can look in hindsight and say that most of my stress was induced from a lack of responsibility and efficiency with my time, energy, and especially sleep (but I guess time is a part of all three of those things).  This is the wrong I wish to correct going into Spring semester.  I am trusting that God will give me the strength daily to face each day head-on with a positive attitude, a bright perspective, and a contagious smile.

undisclosed exposure?

Written on Friday evening:

I don’t like it when people talk about brokenness. It’s stupid and usually sounds fake.  Because when I think of brokenness I think of Adonirum Judson, missionary to Burma (modern day Mayanmar). Gives up everything to bring the gospel to a place where people have never heard of the fullness of God’s pure holy joy and perfect all-redeeming plan of salvation.  Who lost his first wife to health complications.  Whose three children  had all died within two years of their lives.  Who remarried to a woman who shared in the humility of sacrificing comforts  and ease to live amongst smelly tribes, in hot humid jungles rampant with illness and risk of imminent death.  Who suffered the loss of that same wife and the loss of even more children.  Who spent 6 months on a boat at sea in hopes that the salt water air would rid him of illness and disease in order that he could return back to the task for which he felt called by God. THAT is true brokenness.

So often I get upset with the dramatics of my generation who beg for attention by singing, “sweetly broken, wholly surrendered,” at the top of their lungs, “arms high and heart abandoned.”  Give me a break.  I’m sorry, but I think that’s a little dramatic.  Of course I know I’m judgmental.  I’ve always recognized and called myself that before, but only now am I realizing how much of my precious time is wasted on my evaluation of other’s motives and relationship choicesWho cares?! What a complete wast of my energy.  Gossip destroys not only the subject of gossip.  Gossip destroys the gossiper and the listener. It’s foolish and it destroys.  It’s a deceptive tool the devil likes to call, “venting.”  That’s ridiculous.  Lord, may I have the boldness to stand for what is right and just and true and holy in YOUR eyes.  Not what is right and just and true and holy in the estimation of my childish friends, of whom I count myself one.  So there you have it.  I’m a judgmental gossiping fool.  And I encourage those reading this rant of mine to learn from my ere and take a look at yourself.  If you talk about anyone behind their back in a way that does not bring glory to God, you are guilty of gossip and are lying to yourself and to your creator God who MADE you to reflect his glory.  That hurts me so much.  To realize what a gift and privilege God has entreated me with and to come to the realization that I waste it and trash it.  My stomach and my head hurts right now.

Tonight was kind of fun. Well… eh… I didn’t have a great time.  Here, let me put it this way: “It was real, it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun.”  That kind of negativity pretty much sums up my night.  It was great to see people and hang out, but I have no idea why I was in such a bad mood.  Maybe it was the food.  Maybe Katelyn’s snicker doodles or Paige’s chocolate-chip cookies that got to my head.  Maybe the carbonated Pineapple juice.  Maybe the fact that I was a villager twice in werewolves.  Maybe because I think there is a guy crushing on the girl who I’m no longer dating but still very much like.  Who knows?  Because I really have no idea what silly little inconsequential “thing,” for lack of better words, made me so discouraged and produced such a negative attitude in my soul.  I’ve been feeling this way for a while.  Several people have called me out on this in the past week, amongst other things.  My sister called me out on falling asleep in my four-hour-long Spanish class.  My mom and dad called me out on not contributing enough around the house.  Both Paige Hoddick and Cody Warwick  called me out on the fact that I make an overabundance of awful assumptions about people and their perceptions of me.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a pretty messed up, immature, and completely irresponsible guy.  I’ll finish this later.  My eyes are going…

(and continuing on Saturday afternoon…)

Man I look like I have it all together.  I fool myself into thinking I do sometimes anyways.  As I was driving home that night, I came face to face with what an awful person I am.  I fully realized how unholy and unworthy I am to even ask the Lord Almighty to let me into his presence.  I was extremely mad with the night I had produced for myself and even more angry with myself for other reasons.  It was an awful feeling in which I find no hint of pleasure or joy.  I want never to feel that way again.  Despite how terribly cliched and overused the phrase sounds, I am a broken wretch.  I acknowledge that the degree is a fraction of that brokenness which some people experience on a daily basis.  So I humble myself in this moment and share with you a piece of myself.

Here is some more pity-party information for you; wallow in it.  My financial situation at home is not good.  We bought our house at the top of the housing market… right before it failed.  Do the math.  Because of this, I have to take out all my school loans in my name… That’s $20,000/year.  I had trouble finding a cosigner for my loan at first. Thank the Lord who knows all and works all according to his good purpose for those who love him, the one of the signatures went through.  So I’m going back to Azusa with empty pockets and a prayer. A prayer of gratitude and relief.  Moving on to more pity –> My dad has been diagnosed some years ago with a genetic kidney disorder known as polysystic kidney disease.  Basically, a bunch of growths start populating the kidneys and start growing exponentially faster with old age.   (and the rest is written on Sunday evening…) Last fall my dad’s neurfrologist (kidney disease doctor) told him he needed a new kidney.  Surprisingly enough, this is where things start to look positive.  The paper work for receiving a donor is so extensive that the doctors give it to their patients a year in advance in order to have the completion of the paperwork land before the kidney is actually needed.  My dad finished the paperwork in 3 months.  My dad is awesome.  AND a year later he is getting a new kidney… ON HIS BIRTHDAY! September first, you can be praying for my dad as he will be in surgery getting a renewed subscription on life; however, this means he will be out of work for two months, and as the primary financial care-giver of our family, that is a bit devastating.  Although my mom is working, it’s really insufficient compared to both of their monthly incomes.

I have been staying up extremely late this past summer and it has done damage to my mental and physical health, and even indirectly, my spiritual health.  Because I’m prone to sin (um… duh?), every shortcoming is amplified with a lack of sleep and lack of health.  This means I’m much more selfish, judgmental, and make assumptions that much more quickly and thoughtlessly.  If you are reading this and I hurt you in anyway, I want to make a confession and ask you for forgiveness.  I’m sorry.  I can’t do it on my own, and I realize that.  I’d appreciate your prayers more then anything in the world.  You don’t have to let me know you’re praying, just do.  As you can tell from this post, I’ve been in a sort of negative spiral, and it all came to a head with these experiences.

Harold Clousing

Harold Clousing

Now on a positive note.  A few things:  I’ve worked out some issues with a dear friend of mine.  There is an understanding on both sides and an excitement for what God has in store for us both as individuals.  I had a conversation with her tonight and it was full of grace and understanding and although the hurt is still present in us both, I couldn’t be more happy with where we stand now, and I think she might feel the same way.  I believe both of us walked away with joy in our hearts and a final contentment about the matter.  Big breath of reliefThe Lord, he is God.  I’m going back to Azusa!  Many new and exciting things are happening this coming year and I can’t wait to be a part of them.  I’m in a show (my first non-musical) called The Philadelphia Story and I have a main role.  Awesome.  My choral director was just accepted into the American Choral Director Association, which means APU Man Choir will be doing some excellent and prestigious performances this up and coming year.  Can’t wait.  Many of my old friends including Jeff Asper, Cameron Szcemka, Lauren Thompson, John Foster, Kensee Hobson, to name a few, are either coming or transferring to Azusa.  So stoked.  I’m living with two awesome roommates, Chris Speed and Andrew Keahey, and next to three of my closest friends at Azusa, Garrett Graves, Adam Rupp, and Shayfer Wayne.  Can’t contain my excitement.  I’m hoping that the Lord uses me this year, and have no expectations.  The Lord, he is God.  My dad is FINALLY getting a new kidney!  AND it’s from a good friend of ours… AND it’s on my dad’s BIRTHDAY!  The Lord, he is God.  And besides all of this, the Lord is working on my heart and shaping me into a man after HIS own heart.   I’m learning and experiencing so much, and knowing full well that I haven’t arrived and won’t ever truly arrive till that day Jesus Christ calls me home, I do  know that what little I’m experiencing NOW is a huge part of the man of God I so desire to become.  The Lord, he is truly God.

So this post started out negative and ended positive.  Sorry I don’t have any scripture right now to quote.  The truth and reason is I am actually writing in the dark.  I’m a HUGE advocate for God’s spoken Word.  In fact, I think it should be the topic of or at least mentioned in every “sermon” or “teaching” that happens to be preached.  I just don’t have a light right now, thank you to Paige Alyn Hoddick (www.paigealynhoddick.wordpress.com) who forgot to lend me her macbook pro charger tonight. =]

Oh! And the title.  I learned in my Psychology class in high school (thank you to Mr. Clay, most passionate teacher ever) that true love is undisclosed exposure.  Revealing things about yourself to people regardless of what they might think of you afterward.  That’s what I’m doing.  So, in other words, I’m trying to love everyone who reads this.  Or just everyone.  I may fail time and time again, but I will get better at it with each day I wake up, God help me.

ONE more thing.  True love is more then undisclosed exposure.  True love is this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is some scripture for ya.

So if I don’t see ya soon, “…good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.” -Truman

Good ole Truman

Good 'ole Truman

a story and a paraphrase

IMG_0354

Azusa Pacific Man Choir of 2008-2009 fame (i'm top left corner with my thumbs up)

The first two weeks of my summer were spent on a tour with Man Choir of Azusa Pacific University fame. The choir has 70 guys enrolled.  Here are two documented days of our tour that I wrote down for you. Why these two? Because they deal with Mormonism. Please read on. VERY fascinating stuff I must say.

Christian Church

Waiting to sing in the Christian Church in Utah

MONDAY
We woke up early. No surprise there. We left for Red Hills Southern Baptist Church in Red Hills, Utah at 9am.  The couple that invited us to the church were graduates of APU. Sweet couple. Well the drive was nice, mainly because I got a bunch of sleep.  It’s hard not to fall asleep to the drone of the highway… oh, and hours of driving. =]  We arrived at 4:30pm pacific time and our performance was at 6:30pm, but in reality by crossing the Arizona/Utah border, we crossed over into mountain time, loosing an hour (AZ doesn’t recognize daylight savings… too bad they’re missin’ out), so it was really 5:30pm. We were way late.  We had an hour to eat, set up the risers and sound system, and get our tuxes on.  Not much time for that, but we got it done just a little past 6:30pm.

This concert was special for a specific reason. Utah is believed to be the Promised Land for the Mormons. Because of the heavy population of the Ladder Day Saints (LDS), these Baptist church members experience a unique type of persecution.  It’s a type of discrimination. Of segregation.  People treat them cruelly and rarely make eye contact with them.  I’m sure the implications of this discrimination are much more far-reaching than you or I can fully realize. I have not yet experienced persecution on any level, so far as I can remember.
Well there wasn’t a whole congregation of people like there was in Arizona, but the few that did show up were full of joy and sincerely thankful for our visit.  They were encouraged that 70 men would come and sing for them. That was an encouraging stop for me. Praise Jesus.

That night we stayed in a Marriott. Again, praise Jesus.

TUESDAY

Waking up early again, we were served a complimentary breakfast by the hotel.  The next stop would be a public high school, which ironically enough was 90% Mormon.  Whatever.   It was interesting to see them respond to our songs. Most of our repertoire doesn’t coincide with LDS theology at all, (which I’ll touch on in a sec)…  but the kids were impressed and responded positively, and ultimately, Christ was proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18).  The choral director even invited us to sing a few songs for his beginning choir.  Awesome. It was an interesting gesture, and for me, an unexpected one. Thank God that we were so well-received and that we were able to penetrate this Mormon-believing school with the truth of Christ’s Word.

The Marble-Painted, Soft-Wood Pillars.

The postlude to this high school experience was even cooler, for lack of better words.  Man Choir took a tour of the Mormon Temple Square.  THE Mormon Temple Square in the “Promised Land,” aka Utah…=]. Yyyeah. Well, we split into two groups and received a formal tour of the Square grounds.  We got to see the first tabernacle built by the first Mormon pioneers to America.  The entire building was constructed out of a type of soft-wood (the name of the wood escapes me), including the pews and the pillars; however, because the pioneers didn’t like the way the soft-wood looked, they painted the pews to look like hard-wood and the pillars to look like marble. The pillar pictured below is soft-wood, not marble. Weird? Yes. Their completely legitimate justification: They want the temple to look its best for the Lord. Well, I guess, amen to that. We toured a couple more insignificant buildings in the Square, then later ended up with the other group in the Mormon Tabernacle. The way in which the building was designed is unique.  Picture a football field. That’s how long the temple was. A huge organ at the front of the room took up 10% of the building.  Also, the ceilings were designed in such a way to allow the choir and any speaker to speak or sing without the use of any microphones. Perfect audible sound in the entire building.

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The Organ… yep.

When we entered the Temple Sqare, Harold, being the complete smooth talker that he is, talked the elders into letting us sing ONE song in the Tabernacle. Of course we pushed the envelope and sang two. A little background before I go on. First of all, there are unspoken ranks in the Mormon church. The 2nd Organist of the church is higher “ranked” than the elders.  We were singing on the Organist’s practice time; rather, he was allowing us to sing on his practice time.  I believe are second song was Pentatonic Alleluia/Holy, Holy, Holy, and one of the elders realized that it didn’t jive with LDS doctrine. He came up to Harold and said quietly, “Thank you, that’s enough,” and we then sat down. The organist PLAYED the song we JUST SANG (‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten) on the organ! HOW COOL! We gave him a standing “O” and asked him to play another… he agreed to only if we would sing more for him =D!! We agreed. =] WE SANG 5 MORE SONGS!!! Elder’s power usurped by the Organist. That’s God’s legit supremacy for ya. Here’s a few vids of us in the Tabernacle (Listen to both of these all the way through! You’ll miss the cool parts in both. AND listen at the very end of each… there’s about a 3 second delay. That venue was legit):

Now for some Mormon History. =] I’m just going to post this as a summary. I might be wrong on some parts, but you’ll get the general idea. If any Mormons read this, please feel free to correct me.

General Warning: I in no way support or condone or believe any of this history to be true.

Mormon Origins:

  • 13th tribe of Israel – Tribe of Mannaseh
    • Lehi was the prophet of this tribe
  • Israel becomes upset with Lehi’s teaching; Lehi has four sons – older sons included Laman and Lemuel and younger sons included Sam and Nephi
    • Lehi prophesied destruction and captivity of Jerusalem by Babylon
    • Israel didn’t like it -> God told Lehi and family to go to wilderness
  • Eventually, an angel revealed to the 4 brothers that Nephi would be chosen by God to lead family after Lehi’s death
    • brothers didn’t like this, especially Laman
  • After his father’s death, Nephi built a boat and took the whole Lehi family to the Americas, where they established a homeland
  • Lamanites escalate to violence causing Nephi to move his family elsewhere in the Americas
    • family of Lehi was then segregated
      • Nephites
      • Lamanites
  • Nephites eventually became wicked and rebelled
    • civilization dwindled
    • the moment Jesus was crucified, many natural disasters occurred around the world. One bein ghte “dust”-ification of all the Mormon monuments and cities… =|
    • when there were only 2,500 Nephites left, Jesus appeared to them (supposedly one of his appearances after he was risen)

      Jesus appears in the Americas

      Jesus appears in the Americas

  • Jesus then proceeded to spend many days with them
    • organizing the church
    • teaching them the gospel
    • blessing them
  • The last two Nephite were a man named Mormon and his son, Moroni
    • before dying, Mormon documented the history of the pioneers on golden plates
    • Moroni finished the last bit of history after the death of Mormon

This time was known as the “great apostasy” in which no new revelations from God’s prophets were heard, simply b/c there were no prophets (they had all been killed by the Nephites).

  • skipping ahead to 1819, Joseph Smith arrives at the scene
    • 14 years old, mind you
    • couldn’t figure out which church to attend… =\
    • stumbled across the book of James – “if any lacks wisdom…”
  • Smith goes out into the woods to pray
    • encounters 2 figures of light
      • The Father and Jesus Christ  – “the churches he seeks attendance at are false”
  • Smith later encounters the angel Moroni (yes, Moroni became an angel somehow) who give Smith revelations
    • shows Smith where the golden tablets are, which he then proceeds to interpret (by means of divine “inspiration”)
  • After he translated the plates, they go missing

TA DA! The End! Since then, the president’s (likened to the Pope of the Catholic Church) of the Mormon churches have taken liberties to divinely change “rules” of the Mormon church. The most recent rule change: Mormons may now drink caffeine, as long as it is cold. Psht!

Pray for these people. They need to be healed of their blindness to the true trinity known as God. The Alpha and Omega! The only God of everything. The Great and Mighty. Most of all, love them. That’s where true understanding and reconciliation take place, and with this comes the openness to hear the Word of truth! Thanks for reading. Comments?

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