Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Everything we do is worship

I discovered Calvary SLO podcasts on itunes today, listened to a sermon called "Worship: The God who transforms" while I folded my laundry. I'm excited to go to church on Sunday now, I like what the pastor has to say about alot of stuff. I have been thinking about the idea of worship ever since, and this is what came out, some of it is taken directly from the sermon, some of it is paraphrased, and some of it is just my thoughts on it. I really like Romans 12:1-2, which talks about offering yourself as a living sacrifice to God, and that if we do this then we will be transformed to the image of God, and we will begin to know and understand his will, which is a very cool concept, and a conclusion that I came to while talking to Sean about how we can grow deeper in the Kingdom. Anyways just felt like I had to share whats on my mind today, I'm working on a really big post about everything thats been going on in my mind in the past week, but it might take a little while, I have alot on my plate right now.

the thing that you turn to when you're sad, the thing that you turn to to celebrate, thats the thing that you worship
when you get your paycheck, the first thing you go spend money on, the thing that you spend the most and best time focused on getting/pursuing
thats worship
just as everything in the universe is spiritual, from the largest object to the tiniest, from the least dimensional to the most mind blowingly multidimensional
every action, everything we do in this life, is worship, down to what our thought life revolves around, to what we spend our money on, to what we rely on to make us feel better when we're sad, or help us celebrate when things are good
and the more you start looking at the world this way, the more you start to see that so many of our problems are a problem of worship, of priorities, and of what we really value.
Because that which we REALLY value, those things we consider glorious
and those things we devote our lives to,
and it becomes very easy to devote our attention and our time and our entire lives to a false idol without ever realizing it
and in the end, all false idols fall.

Romans 12:1-2
Psalms 115

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Each life

Every life is a masterpiece in 4 dimensions, a colorful, animated sculpture with a soul.

This week God has been working in my life in completely unexpected ways. Since Sunday (see my latest post) I have started reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I picked it up off the shelf in my mom's library on Monday night and packed it to read on the train up to San Francisco. The train ride lasted two hours, and in that two hours I only read 24 pages. The reason I spent so much time in those first pages is that every time I read about a new concept, a new way to look at the world, whether I had heard it before or not, I was completely floored.

As I have been contemplating nature lately, I have been completely awed at the Creator behind the work of art that is our world, and reading about the vast universe just outside our front door, I was even more taken aback. Particularly, the concept of space time and time as a dynamic dimension, rather than the static entity we usually imagine it as completely blew my mind.

Hawking continues on and talks about general relativity and how it predicts it's own shortcomings as it predicts the big bang event. This is called a singularity, the point at which a theory cannot predict what came before, or what comes after it. What we do know about the big bang is that before it happened all the matter and energy in the universe was concentrated in an infinitely small and infinitely dense point of matter and energy. And then God spoke.

Think about that. God spoke the entire universe into existence. His voice, His breath, His love all have such great power, and such unbelievable beauty. We are experiencing only the smallest slice of this great work of art that is the universe, and we still consider it a masterpiece. Imagine looking down on it then, from God's perspective, this infinitely small point of matter and energy exploding, or perhaps more appropriately blooming into the hundreds of thousands of millions of galaxies full of hundreds of thousands of millions of stars, each with it's own solar system, each full of it's own natural wonders. And thats just the universe in 4 dimensions.

Now think about every life intertwined in four dimensions, meeting here, diverting there, forming a beautiful tapestry. But such a metaphor quickly fails as each life deserves so much more representation than just a line, or a string, even in three dimensions. Add to that the fact that there are several more dimensions, which have no realistic visual representation in our own three dimensional perspective, and the word tapestry seems to be a cheap substitute for something more beautiful than we can possibly imagine, perhaps more than we could ever perceive, let alone appreciate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heaven, hell, history, and other light subjects

Last night Enzo was kind enough to give me a ride to iF, where Isaac talked about the incarnation. If you read my post from January (the 13th), you know that I have felt that the God of the Bible is contradictory to what I believe, and that logically I couldn't make it all add up.

I am the type of guy that has to make everything make sense. If I can't make some logical sense out of something, I reject it. It was under this pretense that I abandoned my walk with God. Last night at church, Isaac said something that was peripheral to his core message: there are things that go beyond human logic, but don't contradict it.

I need to preface this next part by saying that I have been absolutely overjoyed with life for several weeks now. Every day I wake up, happy to be alive, and the smile I wear as I step into the shower usually lasts all day long. Thats why I was so surprised and confused when I was brought to tears by Isaac's message last night. I don't know what it means, I know I was moved, and I know some of the things that he said resonated with me but that doesn't explain my reaction.

While I don't fully understand where I am spiritually, or what it was about last night that so deeply moved me, I know that it's time that I confront some of the things that I wasn't ready to a couple of years ago.

After the service, I asked Isaac if he would grab a cup of coffee with me so I could pick his brain on a couple of things. Met up with him today at 1st st. coffee and dove right into the biggest issue I think I've ever wrestled with: hell.


What is hell? In the evangelical church, hell is generally accepted to be a lake of fire, or some other state of suffering, that lasts forever. More liberal Christians hold that hell simply means the end of existence, that when someone dies and "goes to hell", it just means they cease to be.

As I wrote in my previous post, I have a hard time rationalizing how a loving God would throw literally trillions of people into a lake of fire forever simply because they didn't believe in him, especially considering the fact that many of them had slim to no chance of ever receiving the truth and finding salvation. But it's also impossible to ignore the passages in scripture that clearly describe hell as an actual place of suffering, a form of punishment.

So maybe it's something in between the two extremes. After all, it seems that while some of the scriptures about hell clearly describe it as unending suffering, there are others that describe it as temporary, referring to it as "the second death." So maybe hell is a punishment for the wicked deeds performed on earth, a punishment that fits the crime. So, for example, a rapist or a murderer would be punished more severely than someone who simply rejected God because they didn't have a good relationship with their dad, or because they were angry, blaming God for their own suffering in this life.

I had thought at one point that hell just meant ceasing to exist, after all John 3:16 says "for whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Maybe going to hell really does just mean the story ends at death, and the punishment is the fact that we miss out on heaven. But I am now starting to think that perhaps hell is a form of punishment, a place of suffering, which precedes that end of existence, but doesn't necesarily go on forever.

Also, Isaac talked about how he thinks that maybe God planned the entire course of human history so that anyone who WOULD accept God would be given a chance to. He referenced a passage from Acts to back that up, where Paul talks about how God disperesed different nations around the world in order that his will would be done according to a specific plan and timeline. That really clicked with me, since thats how I believe God created the universe to begin with, by orchestrating an unbelievably chain of events that would lead to the evolution of life on this planet.

This concept of a symphony of human history, orchestrated by a loving God, plays right into the next issue we discussed at coffee. I have always struggled with the apparent change of God's nature from the old testament to the new testament.


In ancient times, most people groups were polytheistic, in fact the Israelites were one of the only nations to worship one God as opposed to many. Another characteristic of spirituality in ancient times is that guilt and fear were the predominant aspects of religion. Not only did people worship many gods, but more importantly they were deathly afraid of them.

Perhaps it was for this reason then, that God chose to reveal his wrathful nature to the people of Israel, they simply weren't ready for the gospel as we know it. They were so conditioned by their time in slavery and the cultures around them that the only side of God's nature they were ready to see were his wrath and jealousy. This would make sense as far as the sacrifices required of the Israelites as well, the only way they knew how to relate to God was through guilt, and as such, the most spiritual and meaningful way they could relate to God was through a sacrifice that symbolized the cleansing of their guilt and fear.

After all, many old testament passages point towards the coming of Christ, and as time goes on it becomes clear that it's not about the sacrifice, it's about Love, Mercy and Forgiveness. Even when Christ became flesh on earth, even when God tabernacled himself among us, we weren't ready for his message.

So it isn't that God's nature changed, but rather that God was leading the Israelites towards a better understanding of who He is, and what He wants for them and from them. It gives a whole new meaning to wandering in the desert.

While I won't presume to know whether or not any of these ideas are right, or even close to being right, I am now at a point where I understand that these are things that surpass human logic, not contradict it. That one statement that Isaac made on Sunday night made me rethink everything more than I have in more than two years.

If anyone ever wants to talk about stuff like this, just let me know. For now I will be thinking and reading and prayerfully considering these issues as well as many others and would appreciate your prayers as well.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support and friendship over the past several years. The symphony has just gotten started.

Latest lyrical ramblings

Today the sunrise cast a warm light on the cold snow
All around I see signs of life for the first time
I'd begun to think this winter'd never end
but all along the soul of spring lay just beneath the ice,
the earth kept breathing through the freezing cold
fields of flowers waited for a reason to bloom
a welcome splash of color in a world long painted white

and as the seasons change, I see it all in a new light
as I'm reminded: life and love will carry on
my mouth betrays my heart, and I can't help but smile

as I walk on beneath the nearest star, our friendly sun
that gives life to this green sphere we call our home
I notice the brightest blues, and crispest greens
and the smoothest transition between the two,
this scenery is a gallery, stunning in its scope
it seems to me that nature is the purest form of art
the beauty all around is worth the wait through winter
for days like today, when walking feels just like flying

and as the seasons change, I see it all in a new light
as I'm reminded: life and love will carry on
my mouth betrays my heart, and I can't help but smile once again


Sunday, March 15, 2009


When someone shows up in your life that you care about, and I mean really care...

it's hard to let that go.

paraphrased from my favorite spy dramedy, chuck.

Couldn't have said it better myself. The upside is that I still have people in my life that I care deeply about, and who care about me. Family, friends, and the things I believe in, without those three pillars I would hazard a guess that the past several months would have been a lot darker.

I realized a couple days ago that while I'm not over her (I don't know if I ever will be), I'm moving on. This came to me while I was actually kinda bummed out, feeling lonely... but that's the thing, it wasn't me pining after my ex, it was just a moment where I felt lonely, wishing for a moment that I had what I did with her, but I can look forward now.

Just had to get up from bed to get that quick thought off my mind. insomnia sucks ass, finals at 7am tomorrow

oh and go listen to bloc party - signs

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

End of the quarter.

I feel like the quarter just started, and just like that we're in week 9, one more week of regular classes after this, then finals week. I'm counting down the days because being home means snowboarding, and bike riding, and ride biking, and family, and old friends.

I feel that I've finally settled into San Luis Obispo though, which is nice. While I am excited for spring break, I'm also very happy here. I've been hanging out with my friend Jason alot lately, which is good since we're planning on getting a house. He baked bread the other day, it tasted so good. He's gonna give me his recipe, but it was really cool to watch him make it, because he's made it so many times, and is so familiar with the process that he wasn't measuring any of the ingredients.

He poured flour straight from the bag into the bowl, squeezed honey straight from the bottle, the whole process seemed organic (but not in the no pesticides way), and it turned out with great texture and flavor. Tomorrow in foods lab we're baking bread, so it's kinda perfect timing. I need to do my dishes so I'll have stuff to cook with.

Favorite activity lately: go trick or go for a long ride, then kick back and have a couple beers and some stirfry/fried rice/pasta/fresh bread etc. over a good episode of its always sunny in philadelphia.

San Francisco was great, Sean's birthday party was pretty crazy, very interesting night, I have a few stories to share if you'd like to hear (over an OD's breakfast or a Super T burrito)

Rode around with Henry (Sean's roommate) and a bunch of his asian friends, that was pretty awesome, I got to jam down lombard and video them (holding their camcorder in one hand, other hand in the drops), got some great shots, weaving in and out of cars, panning around as they passed me, or I passed them. I'm stoked to see the final product.

Also my friend Eric from SLO just finished a couple videos he made for slofixed.com, one of which I'm in, albeit only for a couple seconds haha. In San Francisco I did a mean thing. I was supposed to ride with this girl Sarah Jane on Saturday, but when I mentioned it everyone in the house I was staying at told me she's boring as hell, so I definitely bailed on her. Normally I wouldn't do that but I had precious few hours to enjoy in the city, and rode with Henry and his crew instead. Still, I can't help but feel like a total asshole (appropriate since I happen to be a giant asshole)

The three days I was there, I had great (and pretty cheap) sushi, indian food and a burrito, all great tasting, all within a couple blocks of the house. I will move to the city after I graduate. Got back to the house on Saturday night after riding with Henry, door was locked, noone home, so I just rode a quick half hour down to Ocean Beach, saw a bunch of bonfires, got bored, rode back through the park.

Within minutes off the bus I was riding around the island, met this guy Maxwell who was really chill, talked about track bikes for awhile. I keep hearing how cliquey and pretentious San Francisco is, and supposedly everyones an asshole. Has not been my experience in the slightest.

There was one guy at Sean's party though that was the most pretentious person I have ever met. It was actually pretty comical, I couldn't help but laugh in his face, which probably just fed his "I'm hot shit and people don't understand me" complex.

I continued my music experiment throughout the weekend, got up through As I Lay Dying, then when I got home, my laptop charger wasn't working, which meant I had no way to listen to my music, or even charge my ipod, so I broke down and listened to some beirut and computer vs. banjo I had on cd. I think I'll keep listening through my library, but allow myself to listen to other stuff as well, might be the only way to keep my sanity.

Noticed though that it continued to work out that whatever happened to be playing was perfect for my mood/activities. It was pretty cool jamming down the embarcadero, cutting in and out of traffic while listening to As I Lay Dying. And I have a newfound appreciation for a few artists who's names start with A.

Oh also a sad development, I fucked up my skull candy ear buds, so it only plays out of one ear unless I twist the adapter around just right, which I can't do for bike riding. So I'm back to my crappy earbuds from before. Oh well I still have my sennheiser HD 480 for home ecstasy.

I just ordered a new charger for my laptop, $25 on ebay (including shipping). Super cheap, just hope it gets here soon.

So I spent way too much money in SF, but it was worth it (I'm selling my flatscreen monitor to cover the bill), and I came home with a new chrome bag and a new saddle, making for a great new feel when I'm riding.

This summer should be a great time, planning on a two week bike trip to Portland with Jason, Mark, Matt and Sam (hopefully Sean too). Hoping to go backpacking with Bobby on the lost coast still. Hoping to spend a good amount of time in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo too. First on my list of priorities for the summer though is to find a job so I can save up some moneys. Anyone know of people in Gilroy that might hire someone just for the summer?

I re-read civil disobedience by Thoreau while I was on the bus up to San Francisco, also read life without principle again, and finally finished reading winter walk.

Got a fire lit under my butt by civil disobedience, reading some of the stuff in there that I had completely forgotten about. One quote that stood out was when HDT commented on the fact that for every one virtuous man, there are 999 patrons of virtue. I am embarrassed that currently I best fit the description of 1 of the 999. I have a bunch of causes that I support with words, but which I do little to actually further by my actions. I have principle, but no action from principle. I hope to find ways to take steps to correct that.

He also observes that to follow the letter of the law, despite ones conscience is to betray the one law we are all obligated to. So the unjust thing to do is to observe a law that goes against your morals. If an evil perpetrated by the government is observed, protest by words is not enough. The moral action is to stand up and refuse to obey a law that so discriminates or persecutes, or wages unjust war. So it is then, that the greatest patriot is often considered the greatest enemy of the state, for a true patriot serves a country not according to it's own laws, but according to his heart and the truest kind of freedom for everyone.

Thoreau also puts forth a great challenge for all who stand up for whats right, stating that if a government imprisons any unjustly, the only place for a truly just man is in a prison. That hit close to home, since America is the very definition of that, holding political prisoners and abusing human rights in secret prisons, and yet I walk the streets freely. Until we all are safe from an oppressive government, none of us are safe. He also relates a night he spent in jail when he refused to pay his taxes, and is amused by the fact that the guard takes such care to lock him in, when he feels he is the free-est man in the town, since he isn't paying his wages to a government that he so disagrees with.

We are constantly lulled into complacency by those in power above us, and pundits insisting that the time for revolution ended with the revolutionary war. Such is not the case, and I am not speaking of a revolution in the ballot box. If anything, it is the ballot box that holds us so entrapped in this false democracy we obey at every step. Voting means nothing. If you feel conviction about something, it is not enough to cast your vote and hope that a majority agrees with you. Might does not make right, and it is with this mentality that what most agree on is best for all, and just, that revolutionaries who would serve their country with conviction and conscience are put down and discredited.

Know now that being a good citizen in this free society does not mean being a "good consumer" and supporting the economy by buying ourselves further into debt. The great and mighty dollar is yet another way that we are all kept in slavery to a greater evil. The wheels of the great machine keep right on turning as we throw our hard earned wages into the furnace to fuel the injustice perpetrated by the same people we cast our vote for.

Don't spend another hour by providing a means to an end for someone else's dream, or more appropriately someone else's bank account. Don't pay another cent to the government that would so readily use your livelihood to perpetrate injustices like false imprisonment, torture and unjust war, and that would like nothing more than to take more of your money and have a tighter grip around the few liberties you still have.

Take heed to the words of a great man, that those who are imprisoned for opposing injustice are more free than their captors, and those who walk free in such an unjust society, supporting unjust acts with their complacency are more imprisoned than all.

At the same time that I write these words, I languish in my apartment filled with evidence of my own complacency, attending a university funded by the same government that would so quickly go to war for an unjust cause, and would so readily cast into prison as "enemy of the state" anyone turned over by a foreign warlord, bought with taxpayers money.

And look at what the latest "revolutionary" has offered:

Obama promised a new brand of politics in the US, saying that he would allow the American people to post commentary on any new bill that passes the senate and house for several days before he would sign it. He has as of now not done this, and is being allowed to perpetuate the same political tank he claimed to oppose because America is so accustomed to casting their vote, believing they are doing some great good, and then go on with their day to day, forgetting that they even cared about what their government did. And so once again our fate has been sealed, our souls bought by some great rhetoric, a historic election, a victory won for civil rights, but lost for our rationality.

Don't get me wrong, I voted for Obama, and I think it's great that he won, and it really is a victory for civil rights. Unfortunately I am forced to agree with the belief that he won not based on his ideas but on his rhetoric. As a nation, all we look to in our leaders is charisma and rhetoric. The ability to deliver a speech, written well by Harvard and Yale grads late at night over coffee, or cocaine, or whatever it is that drives the political machine onward.

And to clarify, I only voted for Obama because I felt it was the best way to ensure that Guantanimo would be closed, and hopefully some injustice will be slackened. I also feel that he is much less likely to declare an unjust war than his opponent would have been.

Unfortunately I also see the trap that I fell so easily into. Another issue addressed in Civil Disobedience is the false dichotomy offered up in American politics. Is a democracy really a democracy if everyone is voting for the lesser of two evils? Are we really being heard if we can't choose, and I mean really choose, the candidates that we vote for?

And this was an issue close to my heart not too long ago, my vehement belief that the best course of action was to vote for the BEST candidate, regardless of their odds of winning. I still believe this, and am disappointed in myself for betraying my principles with a counterproductive action, like throwing my vote away with the majority.

And look at the prison I've created for myself, spending myself into debt, so now I'm a slave not only to the government whose injustice's I do nothing to end, but also to the banks to whom I owe so much. I fear I will not see freedom for a long time yet, and I worry about how I will reach it. I am on a repayment plan that will have me debt free before too long, but there is still the issue of how I can rebel against the government that I disagree with on so many levels. I don't know if I am able, or willing, to wage full war on the lifestyle that I have benefited from for so long, and I am at a loss for how I would even begin to change my course at all.

All I can do is look to tomorrow, and make small changes every day. I am encouraged by Thoreau's musings that while one persons actions may seem trivial, something once done well, is done forever.

Enjoy the rain, love your life, and think about what you do.