Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...



Being that this may be the very last post before Thanksgiving, I figured some giving of thanks is in order. Such a posting may be difficult, since I'm a little...well...punchy today. I want to do a little obnoxious yelling, but that's difficult because my lungs are still clearing themselves of phlegm. I want to smirk, but smirking only gets so far when no one else is here to be offended. I want to be silly and social, but I can only accomplish the silly part 'cause everyone else has left campus to go home for Thanksgiving. Thus, you get to feel the brunt of my silly giving of thanks :)

The first thing I'm thankful for is the fact that no matter how much my skin turns a greyish-pasty colour (yeah, I'm feeling British, too), I'll still be able to regain most of my tan within a span of a few hours. Alright. At this point, perhaps more than just a few. Still, I can praise God for my good melanin count!

On a more serious note, I'm thankful for being here in Kentucky. A year ago, I had no idea what life outside of Hawai'i would be like. A year later, I still have no idea what life outside of Hawai'i is like. Why is that, you say? Think about it. I'm in two different states almost every day, I've been in an additional five or six, and I'll definitely be adding to that number before all is said and done. Yet, I've been exposed to just a tiny fraction of the world's population, and a tiny fraction of the world's cultures. In a sense, my exposure has only made me more aware of my underexposure. That being said, I'm still thankful for being here in Kentucky. Of all the places I could be at this moment, this is exactly where God wants me. Not at home, not in some foreign country (yet), but right here where the weather sucks the brown out of me (as Kevin so aptly put it once upon a time), where I'm being grown and changed as God sees fit. For that, I'm thankful.

I'm also thankful for my siblings. My sisters, bless their hearts, have put up with me over the years...they whine about it a lot, but still, they've done it, and continue to do so...especially Monica (I think she's now making up for the time she couldn't put in while she was in school and in Japan...hehehe). As rude and crude as I am, I know I'd be far worse if I didn't grow up with five sisters to smack me back into place every now and again :) Lisa's the Alpha Female of the tribe...she's The Boss. It's funny, though, 'cause now she doesn't really boss me around. I'm one of the few people on the planet who can still smile at her in the midst of being yelled at by her :) Monica...she's the Middle Child of the family, even though she's second of seven. She provides much of the insight and provender I need in order to survive this melding of Southern and Yankee cultures known as Louisville. Mary's the Mom. Don't ever get her mad. Lisa's bark is louder than her bite, but Mary's bark is usually followed by her bite. Yeah...'nuff said. Steph...Steph has the distinction of looking the most like me. Poor girl. Malia...well...she'll call me just to tease me about the food everyone (except me) is eating. She keeps me humble, I suppose :) Of course, I cannot forget my brother in all of this. I think it was the time he spent in Denver that first made me realize how much he really did mean to me. He'd call me just to talk, and we'd spend hours on the phone, just the two of us, talking about everything and nothing all at once. He was going through some tough times, and he needed someone who would listen I did. I learned something through all of that, something I think he learned as well: as different as we are, we still know each other very well, because we're both cut from the same piece of cloth. Funny how that all works out. For that, I'm thankful.

posted by Bolo | 12:36 PM
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Of Mice and Men

Forgive me, fair reader, for a rant is in order today. This has to do with the little computing device known affectionately as a "mouse," and its usage. I'm thinking of "Of Mice and Men" as being an appropriate title :)

I used to open up the mouseball compartment and clean the mouseball rollers inside the various mice I'd use at the computer lab, because if I didn't, I'd go nuts. My arrow would jump all over the screen, and I could *feel* the gunk stuck on the rollers going "gajunkgajunkgajunkgajunk" with every move of the mouse. Gah!

So you'd think it'd be a godsend when the school replaced those old-fashioned, low-tech mouseball mice with the newfangled, high-tech optical mice. Yeah. God sent 'em all right. So that I'd learn PATIENCE. Do these young whippersnapper mice give a smooth, bump free motion across the screen? Nope. Do they flawlessly respond to every subtle movement of my extensively trained wrist, hand, and fingers? NOPE. Do they get stuck on a pixel at the least opportune moment, or, with an agility befitting Barry Sanders, dodge out of the way of the big X in the upper right hand corner when I want to close a window? ABSOLUTELY! I swear, I'd be giving the darn thing the stink eye if I didn't think the laser would gouge my cornea out. At least the good 'ol mouseball never did THAT. So what if I have to clean it out every week? I'll take that ornery, rickety, grungy old mouse any day over this thing. At least I could look it in the*cough*

posted by Bolo | 10:25 AM
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Post ETS

Woohoo! My nose and lungs are finally clearing up, my eyeballs are no longer in a state of perpetual burning, and it's snowing outside. Well, two out of three ain't bad, right? Not to mention, we're on a week long break here at school. That's right, no classes until next Monday. *Grin* My last memory of school was sitting here in the computer lab last week, furiously (that's the word I used to describe it to Mon...furiously) typing out my ten page, double-spaced book review. I cranked out eight full pages in an hour fifteen before I had to print it out and hand it in. I don't know whether I should be proud of the fact that I did eight in that time, disappointed that I didn't type as quickly as I could've, or ashamed that I didn't start on it sooner. At this point, I don't care...I haven't seen my grade on it, nor have I even taken the time to read through my paper. There may be horrendous errors in thought or typos I hadn't caught on the fly. *Shrug*...anyway, on to more important matters :)

Being at the ETS conference in Atlanta was cool, to a certain degree. If anything, the best part was being with people, and getting to know them. I told Royce that I just can't excited about meeting "big time" theologians like John Frame or J.P. Mooreland or William Lane Craig. In all honesty, I don't think I'd get all that excited about meeting anyone famous...not anymore, at least.

In a sense, it all boils down to this: those famous people are cool, but the impact they'll have on my life by my meeting them is minimal, at best. Don't get me wrong; I have been and will continue to be profoundly influenced and impacted by the work these great thinkers and lovers of God have done. But do you know what I covet and get excited over? Calling Andrew and hearing some Godly wisdom. Knowing I can ask Brian to pray for any thing at any time. Hearing Scott reassure me with God's word. Having Leonard call me just to talk. Those things, I treasure. Those things are going to impact me as much as reading Grudem's Systematic Theology. Why? Because my friends will spur me on to approach God with proper affections and right thinking, whether they know it or not. Without such friends, such theology would become bland very quickly. Theology for the sake of theology is dead. Theology for the sake of enjoying God? Much better! In other words, unless I'm going to enjoy God more because of it, I really don't care.

posted by Bolo | 10:43 AM
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So...I'm at the annual ETS conference being held in Atlanta this year. I'm sick, I'm tired, and I've got tons of...ummm..."issues" deal with. Some of you know of one of these issues, which I won't go into here (laugh at me all you want, those of you who know), but let's just say that God is definitely growing me, in ways I'm not always looking forward to. *Sigh*...

That said, being here has been cool. Geeky-cool, mind you. Some guys get excited over meeting their sports heroes, others get excited about meeting Wayne Grudem, Doug Moo, or Roger Nicole. If you know who these guys are, you should be worried ;) Most of the stuff said isn't necessarily over my head, but to be perfectly honest, I can get pretty bored with it pretty quick. My mind simply doesn't work that way, and I think I have to learn to be ok with that. That's not always the easiest thing, but I realize that God makes us all in ways that reflect some part of His creation.

One last note before I go, because this silly posting is actually costing me MONEY. Dr. Mohler spoke on the loss of awareness of Hell yesterday in the modern world. He quoted someone, and if I have time later, I'll look it up. Essentially, it went something like this: We have, over time, turned the air conditioner on in hell. In doing so, it seems that we've made hell much more inviting for people. To preach fire and brimstone may not be popular, but it's the truth. Sometimes, it must hurt.

posted by Bolo | 4:53 PM
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You always hear about how the Western Media doesn't give you the truth. It's one of those things that has been, on the lighter side, mocked and parodied, while on the deeper end, tsk tsked and lamented as one of those peculiarities to which our society decidedly adheres without a second thought. We like our truth shaded juuuust so, we enjoy our Tom Brokaws and Dan Rathers telling us in their oh-so-real voices of concern that they hope everything will be alright.

Now, before I start sounding too cynical, let me tell you from whence this stream of thought comes.

Yesterday, I was taught a few things. I learned some things about the beliefs of Muslims, and what I was taught leaves me saddened and pained. Dr. Ergun Caner, Professor of Theology and History at Liberty University has been on our campus this past week. What makes him so special? Simply this. How many Christians do you know of that were former Muslims? Of that, how many were actually born and raised in a Muslim country? And of those, how many were the equivalent of Islamic PK's (preacher's/pastor's kids)? Until several days ago, my own answer to that would have been exactly zero.

What sets Dr. Caner apart is the vast and almost innate knowledge he wields of Islam. The image of Islam that he paints is vastly different than that which we are taught in America. How often has the media told us that Islam, when practiced rightly, is peaceful and does not condone violence? How often have we had it poured down our throats that those extremists who strap bombs to themselves are not to be considered "true" or "normal" Muslims, but crazed fanatics who are devout to a fault? Bleh. In its truest form, Islam is far more violent, far more virulent than we would are led to believe, or for that matter, even want to believe.

I won't go into too much detail concerning Islam other than what I've already said, simply because Dr. Caner says it far better than I ever could. He speaks with passion, detailing the truth of Islam. He speaks with authority, having been intimately acquainted not only with its beliefs, but its rabidness. And when he speaks, I find myself stirred as I rarely am. As he speaks of his "kinsman according to the flesh," I look into my heart, and I see a desire to tear away the lies they believe in. I have misunderstood them. They have misunderstood me. The horrible thing is, their misunderstanding is not rooted in the distortion of another culture, but in a distortion of God Himself. How can I possibly hate them? They are passionate for what they believe in, despite that belief being a terrible lie. I can only hope that as Christians, we would likewise become passionate for the truth. How horrible to let them live a lie...who will tell them of the truth?

Part of Dr. Caner's story can be found here

posted by Bolo | 3:44 PM
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There's something distinctly horrible about death...true death. When someone you know, someone who didn't know Christ, dies an unexpected death, it's horrible. I don't know what to say, I don't know what I can do, but I do hope in this: God grieves with us, and He knows and understands the horrors of sin death far better than we do. I pray that somehow, Aya's family realizes this. *Sigh*...death is horrible.

posted by Bolo | 6:27 PM
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Open Grief

A few of us are going to the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) conference coming up next week in Atlanta. As part of the conference, Dr. Clark Pinnock and Dr. John Sanders will perhaps have their membership called into question due to their views on Open Theism. What is Open Theism? In short, it's the view held by some that God does not know the future, and therefore takes "risks" as would a human. It is, to be perfectly honest, a horrible view that has become prominent in recent years.

Yet, what I find most disturbing about Open Theism is not how horribly it distorts God's glorious nature. Nor is it that those men who teach this belief are swaying others, including some rather prominent church leaders, toward their views. No, those two things, horrific as they are, are blatant and unblushingly so. The blatant attacks I can handle, but it's the subtle that makes me grieve. No, what disturbs me most is the zeal I find when I look into the eyes of some of my fellow students. I see some bloodthirsty grins when we speak of the possible ousting of Pinnock and Sanders from the Society. I hear a motley crowd rejoicing over the voting that may occur. And do you know what I feel? Sick to my stomach.

I told Andrew yesterday I hoped that if I were in such error, if I myself were leading others astray in their beliefs and making a mockery of the God that has first loved me, that others would find it in their hearts, by the grace of God, to grieve over my sinful soul. I told him that I was saddened...angered...pained. To think that we might get excited over the blindness of a brother is a tragic loss of awareness in regards to the majestic grip of God's grace, and at that notion, I want to throw up.

I told Monica this morning that I hated the way we celebrate the demise of one of God's creations. What's the difference between my "true" belief, and their "error"? GRACE! "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9) My heart aches at the thought that there are some who are so close to tasting the sweetness of God's infinite and astounding glory, yet are so far. Why do we rejoice over this? Why?

posted by Bolo | 1:32 PM
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Quickie thoughts for the day: God works in and through our lives in spite of us, not because of us. Yet, He loves us because of who we are, and who He is. Strange how that works itself out, isn't it?

posted by Bolo | 9:50 AM
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Passion and compassion

A good friend of mine was given a warning once: be careful of what you're passionate in, because in the things you're most passionate about, you lack compassion. Although at the time it was said to him as an observation of his particular character, when I heard it I was struck by how easily that could apply to myself, to one degree or another. I've tossed that idea around a bit in my head today, and it's been a little sobering to see what's come forth. I've begun to wonder if, in my passion, I must be careful to strive to be equally compassionate. I think we have the ultimate example of this in Christ. Jesus, God in the flesh, was and is more passionate for the glory of God than any man that ever lived. Yet, despite the depth to which we mock that glory, Christ still sees compassion as the means to bringing us to a passion for His glory. It would do us well to remember this: be compassionate in our passion. Hehe...easier said than done :)

posted by Bolo | 9:52 PM
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Already perfect

The cafeteria was semi-filled with the lunchtime crowd. I'd finished eating my tortilla wrap, Jonathan his Blue Plate Special. I had just told him that my life had been filled with growth lately, and that although the growth hadn't been easy, God had been amazing me in what He's been doing in and through my heart. Before he went to refill his coffee, he said that he had a thought for me. I pondered what that thought might be as I watched him make his way through the cafeteria, greeting the various people he saw. When he got back, I was in for a pleasant surprise. His advice? Simple, yet needed. "Don't forget to apply the appropriate theology to that growth." A typical seminary egghead bit of advice, eh? Not really :) What he meant by that is this: I must continually force myself to realize that although I may be going through the process of growth and sanctification, I'm already perfect, already justified, and there's nothing I can do to improve. Nothing. Think about that. There's *nothing* we can do to improve our worth in God's eyes, nothing to gain value. God has already bestowed Christ's righteousness upon us, already declared us pure and holy in His eyes, already given us sonship. We're His children, His beloved children; what good father would require his baby to prove its worth before he loves it? None. A father loves his child because it is that: his child. So in one sense, growth and sanctification could be considered an ever greater awareness of our perfection and sonship in Christ. What a relief :)

On another note, happy birthday, Garcia...I pray it was a good one.

posted by Bolo | 2:50 PM
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For a long while, Monica had been giving me a little heat for some circumstances a couple years ago involving myself and The Ex. Essentially, because the breakup had been very difficult and we both needed our space, I did the hard thing: I did my best to totally and utterly separate myself from her for a period of time. Understand, now, that all of our mutual friends understood this, and supported this decision. Also, understand that she, as much regard as I have for her, didn't exactly comply. Thus, I felt it necessary to take even more drastic measures than simply avoiding her, as I needed to "push" her away when she'd do a little not-so-subtle "stalking."

Anyway, back to Monica (and Dave, by association) giving me heat. Last night, Mon told me she finally understood, since one of her female friends is being emotionally dragged through the mud by her Ex. The details are long and winding, but suffice it to say that I feel the need to shoot someone's testicles to teach him a's that bad. The cool thing about it for me is that Mon truly did see my actions from a couple years ago as not only legitamate, but commendable. Dragging the ladies through the emotional muck and mire is NOT cool. Men are pigs; just 'cause we like to wallow in the mud doesn't mean we need to drag the ladies into it as well.

Alright, 'nuff of that stuff...there's only so much relational stuff I can handle for one post.

My phone is finally back online (at least until Sprint turns it off again...hehe). I spoke to several guys last night...Brian, Jeff, and Jon. It was amazing to talk to friends and realize once more that they're going to be friends for life. I'm really blessed; true friends are rare, yet it seems that God keeps pouring more and more richness into my life through them. Even the guys here will be close to me for life. You know, that's probably what makes being here not simply bearable, but *rich*. Thanks, guys, for all of your friendships. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me so.

posted by Bolo | 9:51 AM
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I didn't want to be at dorm meeting last night. I wasn't mad, I wasn't hurting, I wasn't in any way "wrong"...I just didn't want to be there. There was a sudden and definite heaviness on my heart that I hadn't felt in a very, very long time. It was like God was showing me how incredibly *serious* He is, and therefore, I must be. The feelings that ran through me last night during dorm meeting were strange and conflicting...angry, yet calm; sad, yet rejoicing; peaceful, yet aching. Like I said, I hadn't felt that way in a very, very long time...but I'm glad I did. It's almost like God decided to begin a little open heart surgery, without telling me about it.

I told Scott about it on our walk after dorm meeting. He understood what I was going through, which was good. I don't think *anyone* here had seen that side of me yet. Royce put a chair on me while I was reading through a chunk of Isaiah, for which he later apologized. Mike asked me several times if I was ok. I don't think the guys knew how to respond, for the most part. Pretty much everyone else at home would've just said, "oh, John's fine." Andrew and Brian and Jon have seen that most often; Brian would say about me, "John's just thinking." After people were gone he'd have me spill it. Jon would ask me, "are you funky tonight?" He knew my moods well, and I never had to hide them from him. I miss that a lot. I think I need to call him soon. Hehe...just as soon as I get this silly phone turned on again ;)

It's hard when people see the extreme melancholy side of me for the first time. They don't understand it, and I don't communicate it very well. I think I'm getting better at it,'s not nearly so bad as it used to be! Jon would be proud :)

posted by Bolo | 9:46 AM
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The Hero

I had an interesting conversation with one of the kids in the youth group yesterday. I'd caught the bus from work to church yesterday morning, and I saw him when I got there about an hour before we were scheduled to start our Sunday School classes. I'll call him "X" for the purposes of this blog :)

We started to talk, and for some reason, I asked X if he'd ever felt like he wasn't growing, or if perhaps he'd ever felt frustrated and angry with himself or with God. He said he did, and in fact last night he'd been lying in bed, crying himself to sleep. I told him that our lives can sometimes be like knowing rats are in a room. At first, the room is dark, and although the room is completely filled with rats, you don't see the extent of the infestation. As light enters in, many of the rats are driven away, and you begin to see the critters. As the light becomes brighter, all but the most stubborn rats leave the room, and yet you notice those far more than the ones that have already left.

After that, I asked X what James 5:16 said. Being the studious type who just happens to be gifted with a photographic memory, he quoted it perfectly: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." I told him it's interesting that quite often, that verse is split into two parts, the first and second sentences. To my mind, however, there's a definite correlation between having two such statements right next to each other. I then related the story of Richard Foster's encounter with a man who had come to pray for him. This was a man whom he'd never met, yet upon meeting Foster, began not to pray, but to confess sin. A stunning thing to imagine! A complete stranger confessing his sin...strange, very strange, yet this man did just that with Richard Foster! Upon finishing his confession, the man asked Foster if he still wanted prayer. Saying he did, the man began to pray for him, and it was a prayer that he never forgot; indeed, it was a prayer filled with power, and its rippled to affect many lives, my own included. So, how did this story tie in with verse from James? To my thinking, although we as Christians are justified before God, our prayers are ineffective unless we've confessed our sins before Him. That's a truth that's touched upon many times, but I think when we quote that verse, we unintentionally sever the truth. There's no taking the two parts of James 5:16 apart :)

At that point, X had a rather shocked look on his face. Why, I wasn't sure, but he seemed to be listening with more than just his ears at that point, if you know what I mean. I then told X of the converstion with Jonathan that I'd had a while back (it's blogged on October 9th) on God honoring us. I asked X two things: why would God honor us at all when we cry out to him in prayer, and how is that related to the story of the prodigal son. I then told him about my desire to go home, even if for but an hour, that I might see friends and family. I related how Jonathan asked me the million dollar question: "Wouldn't their response to seeing you be *honoring* to you?"

I had no idea why I told X all of this, or how any of it really tied together. In all honesty, my brain seemed to jump from one topic to the next. He later asked me if I'd known he'd been struggling with depression. I did, but that wasn't why our conversation went the way it did. He claimed I had this "Yoda" thing going seemed to be a compliment, so I'll take it as that :) But you know what? I'd just gotten off a 10 hour shift at work, and my brain only had so much energy, so no matter how full of wisdom I'd like to think I am, I'm not so sure it really was me doing the talking.

Still, what I do know is this: if any good came of our conversation (and I'm more than certain that it did), I'm blessed that God chose to gift me and use me in such ways, but not for the reason I first thought. Last night, as I thought about that conversation with X, I was sorely tempted to rejoice in the ways that God's gifted me. But still, that'd be wrong. At least, it would be wrong if that were the main reason I rejoiced. A couple of weeks ago, I taught the middle schoolers in Sunday School that the hero in the stories of Genesis (and all of scripture, for that matter) is not any human such as Abraham or Joseph or Hagar, but *God Himself*. God reminded me of that last night. The hero in the conversation between myself and X was not me, nor was it X, but God. For that reason and for that reason alone should I rejoice. Anything else would be but a tiny pleasure in comparison.

One last thing. Before everyone else came in the room, I told X one more thing...a benediction of sorts, if you will. I said that we can almost never change our circumstances; we can only change our response to them. I think it'd be good for me to remember that every now and again...

Oh, and pray for me. A map quiz tonight, another quiz in the morning, and two mid-terms tomorrow afternoon. You know what, though? I love the academic side of's the application of it that I get bad grades on ;)

posted by Bolo | 1:45 PM
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