|Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...
2004: The End Strange as this is going to sound, I did some of my deepest thinking last night as I lay in bed next to Scott. (He'll hate that introductory sentence, and he'll probably hate the fact that I'm going to leave it at that and not furnish any explanation.) I was reflecting on this past year, a year that has passed by with far too many intricate details that I cannot seem to remember, save when its mementos come upon me unbidden in the tiny moments of the night...like when we're lying in bed in Emily Cavanaugh's house, trying to fall asleep. "What," I thought to myself, "are the biggest lessons the Lord has taught me this year? What events are the most memorable? What joys and trials will cause me to smile and cry when I think of 2004?" Then it hit me. Like the sudden onrush of dawn after the deep, cold, dark of a tenderly hushed morning (it's amazing how poetic Ohio has made me...hehe), I beheld clearly what one theme has tied together the most precious lessons and events of 2004.
And you'd like to know, wouldn't you?
I know, I know, I'm terrible. I should be shot for holding out ;) Many of you might be able to guess; those of you who've been reading my blog for some time ought to be able to discern precisely what one theme has continually resurfaced, whether or not I wanted it to. Truth be told, however, it's not necessarily in my blog where the events that are tied directly to this theme have been spoken of. It's in the conversations I've had with friends, or emails with those involved in certain circumstances, that I've shared the majority of my thoughts on this topic. It's mainly because these events have been so sensitive in regard to those involved that I've not been able to speak on it very much here. Yet, when opportunity has presented itself, or I've felt like it, I've written on it. Such writing has often been to my dismay, because this theme is not one that I like to talk about all the time.
If you don't get what one theme has tied together 2004 for me by now...shame on you ;)
From the very beginning of 2004, even the very first day, the Lord was pleased to teach me about relationships. The New Attitude Conference was one that asked the question of those in attendance, "is He enough?" In other words, is Christ enough to pervade every part of our lives and ever fiber of our being, so that in spite of the myriad questions and doubts that surround the singleness that so many of us face, we will walk in righteous faith? In many ways, I'm still answering that question. The beautiful thing is, Christ is ever faithful to show me how He's already answered that question for me on the cross.
I spent the better part of the first three weeks of 2004 answering that question from various angles with Andrew. We would sit at that kitchen table in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and talk until the early morning hours started to turn into the breakfast morning hours. I remember the "five year plan" that we sent to Gary; my my my, how even one year has changed our outlooks on that! Whereas our conversations normally consisted of 90% "other stuff" and a mere 10% about girls, we suddenly found that ratio changed drastically in January. I daresay that this January will see the majority of that ratio claimed even more by the ladies on our minds; indeed, that ratio has already gone up.
The end of the semester was strange. I had to deal with a rather sticky situation with a couple of people who are rather close to me, and that was not fun. *Sigh*...I'm still dealing with it even now, but in a much less stressful manner. The Lord taught me much through it, and I'm glad that He prepared me to deal with it the way that He did.
Then June was upon me. June 18...yeah...life changed that day, though I knew it not :) Then August...then September...oh my, September was a doozy...October was great, but ever so confusing...then November. Yes, November was painful. I would not want to go through November ever again. I think that was the hardest month of my life, in all honesty. It was harder than coming here, harder than the summer of 2001. November ended on a great note, however, and that note has held its tune through December.
I'm glad for what the Lord has done this year, despite the fact that I've often felt like I was beyond the breaking point. That question that was asked on the first of January still challenges me daily. "Is He enough?" At times, I've doubted. At times, I've despaired. Yet even now, He answers that question for me. He has wiped away every tear, held me through every soul-wrenching sob, and pulled me back after each and every wandering. Come to think of it, I was beyond the breaking point. "Let the bones which You have broken rejoice!" If He had not broken me, He could not have healed me. If He had not broken me to the point of tears, I would not have seen the rainbow of His promise we behold only in the veil of tears. If He did not cause me to suffer, I would miss out on sharing in the sufferings of Christ my Lord, for whose sake I daily take up my cross, and in doing so, die to myself. If He did not remind me in His Scriptures that this was for my own good and would redound all the more to His glory, I would have long ago despaired.
As I look around me at those closest to me, so many of my friends were affected by the relationship bug, to one degree or another...Andrew, Brian, Scott, Jim, Kevin, Jared, Jonathan, Brandon, Mike, Aaron...*sigh*...the list goes on. Many of us were guys that people thought were very much content; indeed, we were! 'Tis just that the Lord sometimes chooses to humble us through such creative means, and believe me, this is a year that I have indeed found to be humbling. The laughter I heard over the phone from Andrew, Brian, Jon, and Kevin was more than enough to remind me that I'm just as prone to "falling" as the next guy. Interestingly enough, my friends seemed to find so much more joy in hearing about my state of confusion than I did in sharing it, particularly when I couldn't get a word of advice out of them through their first five minutes of incessant laughter.
Yet, I do not despair. Indeed, I rejoice :) 2004 was crazy, and more than a little remarkable. Relationships...*sigh*...I hate to write more about it, because it seems like everybody and their monkey is talking about them, but it's true. It's what the Lord was pleased to teach me about this year. And you know what? I'm glad for it.
Happy New Year!
ps - Stacey Franklin smelled my armpit today when we were walking around in Easton.
pps - Heather Smith doesn't like feet. She barfs if you touch her face with your bare foot. Or if she eats ice cream. But if she eats ice cream, she'll also fart.
ppps - Emily Cavanaugh is our mom.
pppps - Ask Scott O'Neal about his pose for me in bed. posted by Bolo | 1:01 PM
The Cavanaugh's Right now, Emily's sister Abby is trying to win a game of Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit. I made a crazy mad nutso comeback, when Abby had all but one pie and I had but one, all the way until the point where I was on the verge of winning with just one correct answer. Unfortunately, I missed that question. Thus, I find myself blogging about Abby whilst she tries in vain to get the answer to her current question ;)
Scott and I made the three and a half hour trek up from the 'Ville up to the Cavanaugh's house in Reynoldsburg (near Columbus) sometime earlier this evening. Somehow, our trip got turned into a four hour or so trip...I refuse to comment on that situation. When we finally arrived at our ever so homely destination, we were greeted by our gracious hosts and treated to a lovely meal. Just the thing two weary travelers needed, especially when we would be partaking in a vigorous game of Trivial Pursuit!
Abby answered her question incorrectly, by the way, and I now await the end of Pastor Steve and Emily's turn. We'll see how this turns out :)
The end of the year is upon us, and I'm amazed as I look back to one year ago and see how drastically life has changed. I was awaiting Andrew's arrival...awaiting Steph's arrival, as well...talking with Jim, Jared, and Brandon about the New Attitude conference...thinking about the upcoming semester, and the role that I would be playing. Yes, much has changed.
'Doh! Abby had another chance, and she just won. I think I'll be going to bed...I'll write more tomorrow. Many thoughts on the past year are running through my head, and I'll need a little time to gather them and appropriately articulate the various veins that are percolating. posted by Bolo | 11:06 PM
Linkage If Goose and I had one of each, I don't think I would have ever gone to work. Unless, of course, Rob Hengel and I had our own at work...in which case, I would've been in early and stayed late ;)
Gaze upon the Glorious Son of Man. posted by Bolo | 3:14 PM
Wanting, Desiring, Asking Psalm 34:9
O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in You, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
At first glance, these verses seem to provide us with a license to do as we wish...Christian Liberty at its finest. He will give you the desires of your heart...for to those who fear Him there is no want...ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Fortunately for us, they're not. As I contemplated these verses in the wee hours of the morning, what stood out was that the commandments in the Psalms and the promise in John were given with a prerequisite of knowing the Lord, His character, His ways, and His Word. Furthermore, the verses and the context of these verses all indicate to one degree or another an intimacy with the Lord that comes with this knowledge of Him. What does all this mean? Simply put, the ends do not justify the means.
If we truly are to have no want, if we are to obtain the desires of our hearts, if we are going to be able to ask of the Lord whatever we wish and have it granted us, we must remember the manner in which these conditions are to be met.
We must fear the Lord. Is this a cheap commandment that is easily fulfilled? Nay, 'tis no mean feat. I shudder to think of how often I lazily approach the Lord, how I behold the Lord without reverence or awe for His holy presence. Even now, as I type these words, my heart does not truly tremble at the mere thought of His being. Should it not? Is that not the implication of David's cry? It is a terrible thing to underestimate the holiness of the Lord, for it leads to a lack of holy living. Yet, on the flipside of this, there is the fulfilment of this commandment that we can look to in Christ. In Him, we can learn to fear the Lord as we ought to. We can, because of His perfect knowledge of God, grow in our knowledge of Him, which therefore leads to a greater and deeper reverence of Him. Such a life is ours in Christ, and living in this manner means that we become more and more satisfied in the Lord alone, for we are continually beholding His all-satisfying nature more and more. Therefore, when we agree with David and say that to those who fear the Lord there is no want, it is because those who fear Him are finding their satisfaction in the ways the Lord provides, which is always according to His perfect wisdom and all-sustaining nature, as well as in the Lord Himself.
We must delight in the Lord. I don't think that we can truly find delight in the Lord, His nature, and His ways, and still find ourselves complaining and asking for the things that the Lord absolutely refuses to give us. Surely, we will struggle with our desires, but our ultimate delight must be in the Lord, and that delight must govern all other delights. It is when we skew what David was saying and claim for ourselves that the Lord must give us what we want, rather than looking at the entirety of the verse (delight yourself in the Lord...delight yourself in the Lord...delight yourself in the Lord) that we set ourselves up for a most unsatisfying journey. Our satisfaction must be in the Lord first and foremost!
Abide in the Lord, and let His Word abide in us. It is when the Word of the Lord governs our prayers that we truly ask for what we ought to ask! When the Word is abiding in us, when it is beating mightily within our veins, we inevitably find that it is most difficult to ask for things that are contrary to the Kingdom. When we are equipped with a true knowledge of the nature of the Lord and His desires, the saints cannot help but live in a way that bears fruit. Remember, His word will not return void! Such is the beauty of doing the Lord's work: we know that it is not us, but the Word He has planted within us that bears fruit! The Spirit is working within our hearts to form Christ, and in dong so, we are the very aroma of Christ to those being saved, to those to whom we minister! This is why Christ commands us to ask, for He knows we shall indeed receive!
These verses are there not to comfort us with an empty hope of earthly rewards. Nay, these truths lead us back to the only satisfaction we truly have: the Lord. If we do not find comfort in Him, if we do not find hope in Him, if we do not find ourselves enthralled and overwhelmed by Him, we will forever go on wanting, forever find our desires unfulfilled, forever be asking without receiving. Yet, in Christ, we have a hope so sure...we have not wants, we have our heart's desires, and we can ask because we know that we will indeed receive :) posted by Bolo | 7:54 AM
The Misses For twenty-three years, I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's in Hawai'i. Twenty-two of those years were spent without the knowledge that I'd be getting on an airplane in January, and flying away for only God knew how long. I've now spent two years away from home, and I consider myself a seasoned veteran of spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's away from home.
Pfft. Yeah, right :)
I still miss home far more intensely than I'm aware of. It's the little things I miss...
I miss taking Kayla and Kyle to Starbucks with me. We'd sit there, playing checkers with rolled up pieces of brown Starbucks napkins and white folder paper; I would be drinking my coffee, they'd be drinking their hot chocolate. Kayla would ask if Uncle Brian would be coming to hang out with us, 'cause Uncle Brian was always at Starbucks with Uncle Johnny.
I miss picking up my dad. I was always late picking him up, but that was mostly due to the fact that I was almost always out surfing before I had to go pick him up. Add in the fact that I'd usually be out surfing with Andrew, and my tardiness was sealed, because Andrew and I would always run on the same time back at home: Hawaiian Time :) Hawaiian Time, for those of the Caucasian pursuasian who are ignorant of such a term, is the time that those from Hawai'i seem to run on, which is fifteen minutes later than what the actual time is. Hawaiian time does not affect me up here, but it does run in my veins when I'm at home...especially when I'm with Andrew. My dad knew this. Whenever he'd get into the car, he'd make a big show of looking at his wristwatch, take a sly sidelong glance my way, and then let a slow grin spread across his face. After that, I'd start laughing, and then he'd join me in my laughter.
I miss Christmas at home. Since Kayla and Kyle were born, we seemed to have two sets of kids: the big kids (us), and the little kids (Kayla, Kyle, and now Kason). You'd think that in our tradition of opening presents at 2 am Christmas morning, the little kids would be the ones waking up the big kids. Not so. We, the big kids, would always drag the little ones out of bed, no matter how tired they were. We'd tell them that they'd have to smile when we took our traditional picture in front of the Christmas tree, 'cause if they didn't, we'd have yet one more thing to tease them about at their weddings. (Oh, the joys of being an uncle!) After the picture, we'd all stake out a spot somewhere, and then Mary would go and pass out the presents from under the tree. Lisa's pile was always the biggest; for some reason, though, half of her presents looked as though they'd already been unwrapped and wrapped up again. Hmmm. The labels that read, "do not open 'til Xmas!" didn't seem to help, either. Hmmm. In fact, those seemed to be the ones in particular that showed signs of tampering. Hmmm.
I miss New Year's. In the good days, back before they regulated the fireworks being brought in, the whole island would go up in smoke :) My cousins would somehow "acquire" the five and six-inch festival balls (the types you'd see being launched at professional shows), and we'd launch them from the end of the driveway. You could be standing a good hundred feet away from the launching base (comprised of a thick tube in packed sand), and you'd feel a deep, booming vibration in your chest cavity. That was cool in a dangerous, "oh my goodness what sort of idiotic practices did you participate in, you dummy!" sort of way :) Everybody had fireworks, and everybody was playing with them. It was nearly impossible to see very far on most neighborhood streets, especially if the tradewinds weren't very strong. The New Year's of 1999 - 2000 was particularly memorable, if only because that was the last year when fireworks were freely available. *Sigh*...I think the best part about New Year's was the eating. It seemed we always had sashimi. The good thing was that we lived close enough to Tamashiro's that we could run down there and get more fish if we needed to, 'cause with me and Leonard, you never really had enough fresh (Caucasians: when I say "fresh" fish, I mean raw fish, prepared Japanese style, as sashimi...only the highest quality fish is considered "sashimi-grade") fish. Ahi, Hamachi, Saba, Kajiki...oh my...I'm salivating...gotta stop this.
I miss youth ministry with the FCF youth staff. Wow...it's been a while since we've been together. Our staff was one of those groups of people that only God could bring together, 'cause there's no way we would've chosen ourselves. Jon, Amy, Andrew, Jeff, Im, Lisa, Jenn, Aya, Sean, me, Cindy, Troy...together, we truly were greater than the sum of our parts. The great thing about our staff was not what we did, but that whatever we did do, we did together. After running a youth camp, unpacking all the gear at the church office, waiting for the last of the kids to be picked up/taken home, trekking up Aiea Heights to Jon and Amy's house to have our little debriefing/sharing time, you'd think the only thing on our minds would be bed. Not so with FCF's youth ministry staff :) We'd invariably go out to watch a movie, no matter how horrible the movie selection was. We just wanted to be together...ironic, considering we just spent a considerable length of time in one another's proverbial hair.
*Sigh*...yeah, I miss home... posted by Bolo | 1:37 PM
Mild Melancholy The break is fully upon me, and it has come bearing the full brunt of its melancholy mood. You'd think I would be used to it. You'd think, after living with myself for twenty-five plus years, that I'd be a little more aware of how I respond to extended forced solitude.
I told Jewel that it always sneaks up on me. No matter how much I try to convince myself that the solitude is exactly what I need in order to bring restoration and renewal to my run-down self, I always seem to forget that I need more than just solitude, more than just one on one time with the Lord. In essence, I need community, I need fellowship.
Dang. No man is an island.
On the flipside of that, I also told her not to worry, that I'd be fine. Once I realize why I'm being a little cantankerous, the Lord is always faithful to pull me out of my melancholy mood. Such is the case now :)
Over the years, there have been just a handful of my friends who know me well, and know the process I always go through. Jon would always ask me, "are you funky?" "Funky" was the term he'd use to describe my jaunts upon the melancholy side of the fence; he knew my moods well, and was patient with me. Occasionally, he'd remind me what Amy would ask him when he'd be going through his own funkiness: "So Jon, are we just not going to have any fun tonight?!?!?!" When your wife makes a statement like that, it's pretty clear you've got to get over your funk quickly, lest you find yourself in an even bigger funk...The Doghouse. Jon's point was well taken, and it's always encouraging to look back upon some of my funkier days and realize that the Lord's grown me in handling my moods. Brian and Andrew would just sit and listen to my sporadic rants and tell everyone else that I really was fine, and that the world was not ending just because I wasn't talking much. Goose and Michelle would chide me until they succeeded in getting me to agree on spending the evening engaging in some questionable activity...like calling Star 101.9 until we got on the air and won one of their T-shirts from whatever contest they were running. We never did win a T-shirt :/ Oh well... posted by Bolo | 1:33 AM
Linkage...and more Go play. I know you want to.
Very cool, in a creepy sort of way.
Ok, enough with the links for now. Yesterday was Christmas...a good one, despite the fact that I had to work 12 hours. No, check that, I got to work 12 hours...I could easily not have a job, and I'm grateful to the Lord that He's faithful to supply for my needs through a ton of working hours...nearly 70 hours during the last week :)
Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning were very, very cool. Jien, Jill, and Mark came over to spend Christmas with the Merrifields and the Letoto. We shared how our years had gone (I took forever talking about January, relating the joys of when Andrew was here. Then I went into this semester...oh my...whoa...yeah...whew...*sigh*...we'll leave that one alone for now), and then we ate dinner. Mon made duck. I love duck. Oh boy...very good stuff. After dinner, we played Cranium. For the record, Monica cheated, and if her toes hurt at all, it's because she deserved it. She cheated. They wouldn't have won if she hadn't cheated. That's the truth, and I'm not deviating from it. So there.
After that, I called my mommy. I talked to her for a little while...until somewhere around 3 am. Then my Christmas got much better...I won't say why, but it did =)
posted by Bolo | 2:15 AM
Christmas Thoughts Pimples. Puberty. Body odor. Hunger. Weariness. Sickness. Toothaches. Uncoordinated growth stages. Potty training...or whatever it was Mary and Joseph had to teach Him to do.
Those were some of the things that Jesus had to look forward to in His formative years as the Christ. As I pondered His birth today, I contrasted those things with two descriptions of His birth: the traditional Christmas story, as found in Luke 2, and the much less anthropocentric description found in John 1. What really stuck out was John 1:14..."And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." The word "dwelt" literally means, "tabernacled." Looking back into the Old Testament, we see how God "tabernacled" amongst His chosen people Israel. There, He was separate, and very distinct. His holiness and transcendence were being shown over and over and over gain. Here, however, the contrast is humbling: the utter separateness of God as He tabernacled amongst His people Israel is taken to a totally different level! Yes, He is holy, but oh, He is humble! The birth of Christ is a blessed condescension that has given me over to a great deal of head-shaking and silly grinning today.
In Philippians, Paul says that Christ, although He "existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Think of it. God...lying in a manger...weighed less than a standard bowling ball. What a foolish notion! If I were to save the world, I would surely not do so by sending a baby, much less make myself into a baby.
Then again, I'm not God, and therein lies the beauty of it all :) The fact that Christ's birth is utter lunacy to the world resounds all the more to His glory. There's no way any of this makes sense! Unless, of course, one gazes upon the mystery of redemptive history from the Lord's perspective. When I try to make sense of salvation from man's perspective, I get myself twisted into knots. I don't deserve this. Why would God want to save me? I've not done anything to earn this! Why would He send Christ to earth...as a human...as a baby? *Sigh*...those are the type of thoughts that rule me when I try to figure out Christ's birth.
That is, until I read God's Word.
It's there from Genesis. God's plan is already in place from the horrific moment of Original Sin; from all eternity, before the Fall in the Garden, the Lord had already planned for the anguish His Son would undergo in another Garden, one called Gethsemane. In His instruction to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and then with His staying of Abraham's hand, the Lord is laying down a path that gently leads us to see His gracious glory. Christ's birth is no accident. Our salvation is not concidental. In Ephesians 1, Paul makes this abundantly clear.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." (Italics mine.)
God intended us to be saved, and He works to form Christ in us for a purpose: that we might enjoy Him to the praise of His glory. His grace is lavished on us... His blessings are not held back...He considers us His own possession.
Is it not all the more beautiful, then, to consider that one of the major focal points of our redemption was...a manger?!?!? Indeed, it is. If we forget that we ought to wonder at all at the fact that Christ deigned to clothe Himself in a baby's body, we forget the dire seriousness with which Israel had to consider the Lord's tabernacling amongst them in the Old Testament. To have the Lord tabernacle amongst men...as a Man Himself...only the Lord could do such a wonder. posted by Bolo | 11:39 PM
Frolickin' Like a Hefty Heifer For some reason, my family thinks I'm fat. They haven't seen me in over a year and a half, and they saw a picture of me at Mon and Dave's graduation...supposedly, it makes me look like I have a belly. Now, if I want to say that I feel fat like a hefty heifer, that's one thing. If my brother, on the other hand, who both Monica and I say is slow, can't jump, has no stamina, and little to no athleticism (but could still maim me in fifty different ways without thinking) says I'm getting fat with a belly, that's where I draw the line.
'Cause I'm not. So I haven't worked out this semester the way that I normally would have. So I've gained all of...oh...two, maybe three pounds over the past two or three months. A week in the gym, and it'll melt away. A week of delightfully torturing my body the way I'd love to, and the supposed fat is gone. A week of motivating myself with the moronic notion that I actually appeared fat in a picture, and it's all good.
posted by Bolo | 11:13 PM
24 out of 27 Ouch. Out of 27 hours, 24 were spent working. My bed never felt so nice. Christmas Eve...ouch...brain isn't working. Maybe I'll post something real in the morning. Merry Christmas! posted by Bolo | 11:27 PM
Formation Ok. I've officially had enough of driving in snow. Enough, you hear me? ENOUGH. The problem? I still gotta go out and drive a little more today.
Thus endeth the rant.
I talked to Mr. Jim Winn last night. He called me to share a "Steak 'N Shake" moment, since we've not had one of those in a long, long while. We reminisced on what's happened during the past year...it's flown by...I think we're both awed at how much has happened. We've both gone through tremendous amounts of trial and transformation; what's more, many of our trials have been strikingly similar. Do we regret the trials? Not for a moment. Without them, there wouldn't be the depth of transformation that the Lord's worked in our hearts. Still more, those trials have been used to bring us closer not only to the Lord, but to one another. That's a huge blessing. Christ is being formed in us, and we praise the Lord for the grace that allows us to share in that formation in one another.
Very, very neat stuff. Scott's couch calls... posted by Bolo | 10:05 AM
The Weather? Frightful! A foot of snowfall is a lot of snow. Driving through a foot of snowfall? It feels like even more snow than when you're simply out and about on foot. Driving through such snowfall when you're from Hawai'i and have never really driven through snow (save once before, roughly a year ago...but I won't go into too much detail about how Andrew and I, with our Hawai'i driver's licenses, were pulled over less than a quarter mile from home after driving at least 10 miles under the speed limit for over 12 miles...yeah, go ahead and laugh) makes the experience all the more eye-opening. But I tell you what: after driving for somewhere around 100 miles today through such a frigid landscape, I feel quite seasoned.
Yeah, right ;)
The work schedule will get a little crazy, starting at 1 am tomorrow morning, a mere handful of hours from now. I'll be doing a six hour shift, then drive back to sleep in Scott and Biggz's room (yeah, I'm gonna be occupying your couch, buddy) for a bit before waking up to go to Express at 2 in the afternoon. I'll work for 8 hours until 11 (had to toss that "11" in there in case the math escaped you...hour lunch break, after all...one can never be too sure), then start a 16 hour shift on Christmas Eve at 1 am. Whew. Yeah, what a doozy! It'll be fun, though, and I definitely look forward to working amidst the hectic shopping in the mall tomorrow. Why God made me that way, I'm not sure, but I certainly don't mind it :) Instructing people on the finer details of the differences between merino wool and lambswool is just the beginning; the true joy lies in seeing a rather foppish looking gentleman come into the store with nary a clue, approaching him with guileless charm, and guiding him through the appropriate steps in choosing an appropriate outfit. Sure, it's superficial, but it's an artistic outlet :)
Oh, hush. Let me have my fun. posted by Bolo | 8:35 PM
Squirming Humility is one of those things that's so necessary, yet so very...well...humbling :) As I thought about how the Lord's been humbling me as of late, I felt the familiar squirming of my soul that accompanies such character-building. That squirming, which is a result of rather uncomfortable levels of conviction being poured out upon me, is a telltale sign that my pride is being squashed.
Oh, how good of God :)
I was just talking to Jeff tonight, and I told him that we, as humans, have a tendency to want to hide our imperfections. The ridiculous thing about that is that the cross takes our imperfections and makes them public! What's more, such a public display of our sins are to the Lord's glory; His glory He will not give to another! I often feel like the process of growing in Christ-likeness involves God reaching into my heart, grabbing the sin I'm hiding, and ripping it out so that He can put it on public display. And this he does over and over and over again. Why? So that the glory of His grace in Christ might be made known through my wretched heart.
Indeed, how very good of God :) posted by Bolo | 11:20 PM
Linkage Yes, I know I provided some clickage for you less than a day ago. So what? We're all on Christmas break, remember? We have time to waste! Ok, not really, but I'm at work, and I have web browsing to share. So be prepared to click away still more in the coming weeks :)
Yeehaaw! Read Isaiah 40:31, then click here. I know you can't possibly tell me that verse doesn't gain new meaning after seeing that. Hmmm...I seem to recall that I was talking about this verse with someone recently...*cough*... ;)
Great. I can already hear the proponents all over again, making more noise about how cell phones cause cancer. They'll start some campaign with a funky slogan, calling cell phones "Cancer Bricks" or something like that. Oh well...until it's conclusive, I'll still keep rackin' up the minutes :)
Ouch. Most people here don't know that I do wear glasses (nearsighted), but I'm never going that far. Ouch.
Ok, you want wasting time online? How about wasting time corporately, to the tune of you and 49 other people? Yeah...go ahead...trust me ;)
posted by Bolo | 4:06 AM
Different? Not Really Yeah, it is strange. Brian graduated yesterday. Sometime early this morning, we pondered the ever-consuming, post-graduation question together: "What now?" He said he doesn't feel any different, yet he realizes that much has suddenly changed. True, it's just another marker on the journey. Still, it's a huge one.
As I think about it now, I'm somewhat flummoxed about the whole ordeal. Why's that? I think it's because I'm trying to look at Brian's predicament in light of not only what I would do if I were in his shoes, but also what I will do when graduation eventually comes my way...eventually being the very operative term here ;)
The big deal about Boyce College is that we're supposedly all "called to The Ministry." I say supposedly because I'm being honest, not because I'm pessimistic. Those of us who've been around long enough have seen fellow students come and go with enough regularity to realize that not all are truly "called," and in all seriousness, there are probably far more amongst us that will "fail" than will "succeed," even from those who do graduate. With that in mind, I always find it to be a rather humorous situation when I'm asked how I know I'm supposed to be at Boyce if I don't yet know what ministry I'm called to. When I shrug my shoulders, smile my charming smile, take a breath deep enough to explain the deepest meanings of the universe, and say with a twinkle in my rather Asian eyes, "I don't know," I love to see the shocked and apalled expressions on people's faces. Don't get me wrong; some individuals are far more grounded than that, and don't even bother being silly enough to question the validity of my presence on this campus. But for those who aren't, for those who think that God tells everyone exactly what their lives are going to look like from the moment they receive The Call, I usually feel something else after I get over my amusement. For them, I feel pity.
Why pity? It's simple, really. What seems like so long ago, but was really just over two years ago now, I was coming to a true crisis of faith. I had told the Lord for so very long that He could send me anywhere, anytime, and I would go. And you know what? The Lord held me to that. The only thing was, he didn't send me anywhere.
He sent me to Nowhere.
He sent me to Kentucky.
Dang. Do you know what kind of looks I got when I told people I was going to Kentucky? Do you know how many wanted to lock me up when I said that I wouldn't be transferring up here with the Department of Defense, and that I was...*gasp*...unemployed?
I think what quieted the rabid protestation from the proverbial Peanut Gallery back at home was the fact that I had an insane peace about me, the type of peace that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4. It did indeed guard my heart and my mind, and it does to this day. The fact that I'm here at Boyce? It's one I find ludicrous. I still question my sanity daily. But the fact that I know this is where God wants me? It makes me smile, and it brings me joy. I know that the Lord has His purpose in having me here, and I know that He'll lead me in the right direction when I finally do shake Dr. Mohler's hand and touch that diploma. Finally being the very operative term here ;)
So the question as to what Brian's future holds? I don't know. Nor does he. That's not the important thing, though. The Lord will lead him, and I'll cheer him on and be there with him on whatever path he must journey. It's simple when we realize that...and beautiful :) posted by Bolo | 11:40 PM
Linkage For whatever reason, this has stuck in my head from the NFL Draft until now. It's one of those things that makes you go, "hmmm."
This one's for you, Scott. If you ever get the hairbrained idea to go down there, just remember this: ice cream cones would probably not be available, and you would find them highly undesirable in such conditions ;)
Deep Geeks click here. This one's my personal favorite. I won't tell you how many of those I qualify for, though ;)
Oh my goodness. I can pretend I'm fighting the Battle of the Pellenor Fields! (User beware: the game can be a little gory in an animated stickman sort of way, and you may want to block some of the domains for the ads that load on the page...it's easy if you're using Firefox.)
posted by Bolo | 1:31 PM
Commanding the Morning Stop. Close your eyes. Well, wait a second, don't close them just yet; finish reading this first ;) Ponder something with me for a moment, would you? This morning, something utterly wondrous happened. If you're at all like me, you missed it because you were sleeping. If, however, at 7:05 am EST you found yourself standing on Cadillac Mountain in Maine's famed Acadia National Park, you were amongst the first in America to witness this wondrous event. Do you know what I speak of?
God commanded the morning, and the sun rose.
Ok, the sun didn't really rise, it just appeared to do so because of the earth's rotation. That's not the point. In Job, God asks of the famed sufferer, "Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?" In Matthew, Jesus says, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Amos says, "He who made the Pleiades and Orion changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name." God commands the morning...this morning! That sunrise that I missed? He did it.
It happens every day. The sun rises, and it sets. What's the big deal, right? Oh...so much...so much! "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Every morning I wake up is a day which He has made. He created that day to proclaim His glory...His glory! Is His glory boring? Not in the least! When was the last time the Lord said, "this is the day which I have made; go out and say it's the same old same old." What an absurdity!
Yet we treat each day like it's the same old song and dance, day after day, week after week. We take once or twice to refocus during a week; if we're really good, we do it once or twice a day. Yet it's not just once or twice a day that the Lord's glory is being proclaimed, is it? Jesus told the Pharisees that if His disciples (and by extension, us) became silent, the stones would cry out! The stones! Why? Because they were proclaiming Christ's Kingship, His Lordship, His reign, and His glory!
It is true that each and every moment is filled with His glory. The Lord says in Malachi, "For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations." The greatness of His name, His fame and His renown, are not things that the Lord is careless about. Indeed, do you know what I find is the most amazing thing about His glory? That I would enjoy it. Think about it. Paul says of Christ's humiliating death on the cross, "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The death of Christ sealed for every man either the eternal enjoyment of God, or a greater awareness of God's eternal wrath and condemnation. Both of these are to His glory; there is no escaping that fact. But you know what? Because of the grace poured out through Christ's redeeming death on the cross, I get to enjoy His glory.
This morning was evidence of that. The sun rose because God made it so. If the Lord did not make it rise, do you think it would? Nope. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Christ "is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." Wow. Creation would cease if He did not uphold it. And how does He uphold it? By the word of His power. Yeah...wow.
So you see, this day is not boring. The sunrise we missed? Amazing. It wasn't amazing simply because it was beautiful to behold, as I'm assuming it was. It was amazing because God made it happen; after all, no one else could! Remember what Augustine said: "He loves Thee too little who loves Thee together with anything, which he loves not for Thy sake." The sun rises, the sun sets, yet do not forget that they are to be loved for the Lord's sake! He is faithful, and each morning reminds us of that. May our prayer for the morning be as David when he said, "as for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; I will be satisifed with Your likeness when I awake."
Like many things that happen every day, God's sun rose this morning; may those things remind us of Him, that we might be all the more satisfied in Him. So go now...close your eyes...think of how our God is glorious, and remember that there's still a sunset to enjoy, and another sunrise in the morning, should the Lord will it :) posted by Bolo | 1:38 PM
More of Kason :) I don't care if you've already seen pictures of Kason on his birthday at Chuck E. Cheese's. This is my blog, and he's my nephew, and I'll post as many pictures of him as I darn well please. So there! Besides...he's a cutie ;)
posted by Bolo | 1:40 AM
I think this was taken at around Halloween...perhaps the abundance of blue-colored sugar products contributed to the state of the little dude's tongue. What thinkest thou?
posted by Bolo | 12:39 AM
This one's a little too small. I knew his head was big, but dangit...
posted by Bolo | 12:33 AM
This one's a little too big...
posted by Bolo | 12:33 AM
Old School The "Old School" block has been updated. *Sigh*...looking through those old posts, they remind me of God's faithfulness...that's a good thing :) And you know what? I need to be reminded of His faithfulness, 'cause I know I'm horrifyingly unfaithful. posted by Bolo | 8:10 PM
Who's Boss? Our friendship has reached a heretofore unheard of dynamic: I have school ahead of me still, which means I will have quizzes, papers, mid-terms, and finals to churn through, while Boss has...well...none of that. None. He's done :)
Brian took his last final on Friday. He called me when he was done; his hand was cramped, his brain only somewhat intact, and his future uncertain. But you know what? He was done! On Sunday, he'll walk in UH's commencement cerermony. I won't be there, but I'll be thinking about him.
What will I be thinking of? *Sigh*...a lot.
The long drives from Starbucks to Mililani, where he would drop me off in the front of the townhouse I shared with Rob. Those drives were a landmark, because it was during those that our friendship was first forged and made strong. He learned to trust me when he'd vent, and I learned to love him when he did so. Of course, who could forget that the security guard for the complex would always come by while we were praying and interrupt our prayer? Those days seem like so long ago...over five years, to be exact...a different season of life, no doubt about that.
The sessions sitting in Starbucks. Who else could keep my velvet brown chair appropriately warm? Who else would sit across from me and read his Musician's Friend over and over again, talking about Seymour Duncan's and Humbuckers and Fender Strats and Marshall amps and Line6's all night? Who else could get so excited about liquid sugar? *Sigh*...Brian still makes me smile...
His days in Vancouver. Those were tough. I didn't want him to be there, so far away, but he had to go. When he came home, I was happy, but I thought he was supposed to go back there, not stay. He stayed, much to my dismay. Still, that time he spent there was fruitful. On my end of things, I learned to love over a distance. I learned that friendships are not limited by distance, nor is distance a reason to lose a friendship. His being away taught me that friendships stay as strong as you want them to, by God's grace. I'm still as close as ever to Brian and Andrew, and I've not seen either one of them for longer than I care to admit. For Brian, it's been a year and a half already. How much longer will it be? *Sigh*...
Surf sessions. I remember that one time when he saw the shark on the wave next to that dude. Did we paddle in? Heck no, the surf was good! Priorities, priorities ;)
posted by Bolo | 2:06 AM
Linkage Strangely, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Then again, maybe it's not so strange that my feelings are mixed...I've always had a little bit of tree/whale-hugging in me :)
Don't know if I've linked up this one before, but even if I have, it's worth another shot. Uhhh, pun intended ;)
Retarded, absolutely retarded. BUT, I bet you'll still play!
posted by Bolo | 9:22 AM
Question "What makes you think any of this really has anything to do with you?" My question to Cassie was meant to give focus and sobriety, not to be demeaning; by God's grace, I think it had the appropriate effect. It's one of those questions I have to frequently ask of myself. My humanity seems to have a certain quotient of moronic self-indulgence that must be fulfilled on a regular basis; in short, I think far too much of myself than I ought, both in quality and quanitity.
Let me back up somewhat. Cassie and I were talking about issues that...well...when looked at over and over again, could easily twist the brain into one huge knot of "what if's?" I saw in her pattern of thought one I often see in my own thoughts: "God, what about this? What about that? What if I don't do this right? What if it's not supposed to happen this way? What if...what if...what if..."
When I get myself wrapped up in a slew of "what if's," I have to stop and untangle myself from my foolish thoughts. It's only then that understanding comes upon me like the brightly shining dawn after the dark of night. Such understanding comes in the form of realizing what really matters in this life. So often, people will say, "it's not about me, it's about Jesus." Yeah? Why, then, do our lives scream that it's all about us? Why is it we constantly ask God what job we will have, what careers we are to pursue, what schools we are to go to, whom we are to date and marry, or how He will provide all that?
Such questions show that we're going about things bass ackwards, and that our priorities are way off base. Think about it. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord...Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect...For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh...For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works in me...For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart...Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted...But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief...
We try to answer life's questions with the horrendous presumption that our lives are about us. Said differently, we presume that our lives find their importance in ourselves or what we do. Don't deny it, because we do, each and every one of us. That's the first step of sin; that step is called pride. Duh. (Sorry...couldn't resist!) But you know what? As much as we may cry out against blatant and obvious sin, we engage in sin in subtle ways every day when we try to wrest answers out of the Lord, answers that we aren't meant to have until the proper time. *Sigh*...don't we understand? Christ was broken by the will of the Father! Jesus did not wake up one morning and suddenly want to die on a cross; that's absurd! It was the Father's good pleasure to crush Him, to make Him a propitiation for our sin! And how did Christ look upon it? He joyfully obeyed! In the same way, Christ commands us to take up our crosses and follow Him. We are to die to ourselves, and in doing so, be Christ to the world.
*Sigh*...it's a tough perspective to gain. The struggles we go through make us more and more aware of our own pain; still, if we seek the Lord and listen, I think what we begin to realize is that the pain is but a lens through which we see the glory of the Lord more clearly. It is in beholding the Lord that we become more like Him, and gain fellowship with Him in His sufferings. Our struggles and pains, therefore, are a grace that brings us closer to the Lord. Our doubts serve to make stronger the conviction that the Lord is indeed the Creator and Savior, our Great Shepherd and Provider.
In a sense, my question to Cassie wasn't so much to her as it was to me. I've felt the rough embrace of the cross as of late, and it's hard not to try and run from it. Yet, to remember the glorious purpose of the cross of Christ is to embrace the cross I take up daily. Such an embrace brings me closer in conformity to my Lord, and that's what all this is really about, isn't it? posted by Bolo | 1:10 AM
Latest Acquisition It's early in the morning here; just past 2:30 am, to be precise. It's a bit cold outside, and the drive home only cemented that belief for twenty butt-numbing, teeth-chattering minutes that wouldn't end quickly enough. It was like the cold kept shredding apart whatever layers of clothing I could cling to, leaving me utterly void of warmth.
Ok, maybe not. But my overdramatic prose makes a rather gripping intro to this post, does it not?
I took Scott to the airport today. I also picked him up from the airport today. He was supposed to be on a flight to Virginia when I got the call that his flight was full, and he wouldn't be going. Bummer. Therefore, it became an afternoon for Mr. President and Oddjob to hang out for a bit. What'd we do? We went shopping at Unique, a thrift store off of Preston Highway. There, I acquired my deal of the week: a corduroy jacket, camel in color. This thing is the HOTNESS. I had tried on another one first, which much to my dismay was tailored for a short and fat person. The sleeves were two inches too short, and the chest was three inches too big. I may be short, but I'm not built like a barrel. Anyway, the next one I tried on was...well...like heaven :) I've got another party to attend today, and you just know I'll be sporting the new cords. The price? Nine bucks. Nice :) Anyway, after my little acquisition, Mr. President and I headed over toward the Highlands area, where one of the city's TJ Maxx's could be found.
A little note of explanation may be in order here. When I refer to Scott as "Mr. President," I do so for one reason: he is the President. The President, that is, of Boyce College's Student Council. That being the case, I think it was he and Biggz who were sitting around one day figuring out who would be on Scott's "Presidential Staff" were he to have one. I don't know who else was on there, but they said I would be Scott's "Oddjob," because I'd be the guy that nobody knew worked for him, but who did everything else nobody else could do. I take it all as quite humorous, but in many ways, I am his Oddjob. Nobody else fills the role that I do for him; of course, the same is true of him for me. On with the story...
At TJ Maxx, Scott picked up a couple of key items that will go well with this absolutely hot blue suit he picked up from Unique several days ago. Man...I tell you...that suit...not many things make me jealous, but that thing pushes the envelope for me ;) While in the store, I ended up rather randomly helping this woman who needed to pick out a belt for her significant other. That was a funny happening in and of itself. We were looking at ties, which were right next to the belts, and this woman who's looking at the belts asks if we could help her. We acknowledge our servitude, and she proceeds to ask a question with the qualification, "if a guy has a thirty-four inch waist..." Before she finishes the question, I cut in and say, "get a size thirty-six belt." When we were looking at the shirts about ten minutes later, she came over and said, "I need your help again!" Oh my...the whole experience was a head-shaker...I get asked to help people all the time when I'm at Express but I'm not on the clock, but this wasn't even my store! Crazy, I tell you, crazy!
After TJ Maxx, Mr. President and I hit McDonald's for some ice cream cones. Nice, very very nice. Oh, I also got a chance to explain to Scott some of the broader details of The Silmarillion. Glorious, I tell you! He'll be reading it soon, of that I'm sure. When he reads the lines, but Beren laughed, he'll smile and agree with me that yes, that is the greatest single line in all of Tolkien lore. Of course, what Beren says after that is a classic quote all its own, equal to Han Solo's infamous, "I know." (If you can't say "I know" of Han's "I know," then you don't know, and I'm not going to tell you.) Anyway, what Beren says is this: "For little price do Elven kings sell their daughters: for gems and things made of craft." To the uninitiated, that line holds absolutely no mystique. But, to those such as Cleve and myself, the Tolkien Geeks of the world smile when they think of the tale of Beren and Luthien. And those lines...oh my...wow. Beren proved his love for Luthien, and he was willing to die for her. Indeed, he did die for her, and she for him. Tolkien's characters are like that; you never actually doubt that they will perform with honor, because their dignity and integrity shine through from the beginning. Wow...what a story :)
So what's the whole point of all this? There is none. There's no deep insight, no gripping conviction that should jump out of your screen and cling to you like that sucky-face thing in Aliens. It's just past 3:30 am now, and my brain isn't quite functioning on all cylinders. My butt may still be numb, but at least my teeth aren't chattering :) posted by Bolo | 2:33 AM
Gain vs. Loss: Cross Economics Philippians 3:8 - 16
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns and peaks and valleys. Were I to claim that I wished for a life without such height and depth, I would be a liar, for without those joys and pains, I would never be molded into true Christ-likness. Of course, in my flesh I desire for an ease of life that simply won't ever come; it is part of the self-reliant nature that comes with sin. I find here in Philippains 3 a clear reason why should I not bemoan the pain in my heart. In fact, more than simply refraining from acknowledging the pain, I believe the Lord is commanding us to embrace it for Christ's sake! Paul says that all things considered "gain" are to be considered "loss" for Christ's sake; knowing Christ is a surpassing value; all things are counted as rubbish (dung, as Biggz would say) that we might gain Christ and be found in Him (a sort of mutual claim, it seems); we have Christ's righteousness (what a precious truth!); we can know Him, know the power of His victory over sin and death, and have fellowship (intimacy with and conformity to) with Him in His sufferings and death. He then goes on to detail how we are to press on in order that we might lay hold those things for Christ lay hold of us. (Hey, Paul said it, not me.)
In essence, I have ample reason for joy. More than that, I have a clear and passionate command from the Lord to rejoice in Christ by savoring Him. How can I not? What do I have or not have that could compare with Christ? If the Lord desire to give me more, it shall be to the praise of the glory of His grace in Christ. I am reminded of something Augustine said so very long ago: "He loves Thee too little, who loves Thee together with anything, which he loves not for Thy sake."
Father, cause my loves to be loves that are loves for Thy sake. Let my desires be desires that are rooted in You, grown in You, and therefore glorifying to You. posted by Bolo | 10:54 AM
Strange What a strange day. Such joy, such sorrow, such hope, such weariness.
I spent the latter portion of the evening over at Becky and Laura Beth's apartment. Scott and I got invited to a Seminary party. There wasn't a whole lot of food, but there was a handwritten miseltoe sign. Hmmm...ought I find it disturbing that three separate seminary girls tried to maneuver themselves with me under that silly sign? All in fun, of course, all in fun. I told them I must refrain, lest I get in trouble!
Before the party, I finished up the last portion of the first portion of my shifts with Moore for the week. With our pay period starting on Saturday at midnight, I had already accrued fifty-plus hours for the week. Ouch. Good money, but tiring. Wednesday will be my day off, and I'll try to acquire more hours for Thursday and Friday. We'll see how that goes...hopefully, it can be done.
Life never gets boring. When normalcy will set in, I do not know. I find John Piper's mantra to be reverberating within me..."God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." Yes! My utmost desire? To be satisfied in Him! posted by Bolo | 11:58 PM
In all Fairness I said I would be fair to Jonathan Leeman, and I feel I ought to keep that promise. I must be getting soft in my old age ;)
Friday night, I told Darren that Jonathan's presence at Boyce is missed far more than almost any of us realize. I didn't mean in regards to my own journey, either, even though I could have gone on at length in regards to that. No, the void of Jonathan's presence is seen most vividly in the lives of those who have no real idea of who Jonathan Leeman is, or what he was to so many. As Darren and I discussed the difference between this academic year and the last, I found my eyes opened to my frustrations once more, but this time seeing them in the light of Jonathan's influence...or lack thereof. What I meant by that was this: I can look back at my time at Boyce College thus far and see a tremendous amount of God's grace having been abundantly poured out through that relentless and rock-solid servant, Jonathan Leeman.
*Sigh*...when I say, "tremendous amount," I understate his influence drastically. Jonathan was a mentor to me when I needed one, yet he was more than that; he was a friend. He invited me to trust in him. Yet, along with that invitation he bid me not to trust in him, but in Christ. In doing so he won more than my trust, he won my fierce loyalty. Jewel would possibly classify my fierce loyalty as being the positive aspect of my stubborn nature. She would not be wrong if she did so :) I am fiercely loyal to my friends, to those to whom I know I can entrust my very life without question. Those are the friends whose desires for me I do not question, even though they hurt me. I know their motives are pure, yet I am aware that our hearts are corrupt. Still, the precious gift of friendship is such that I can rejoice in the sharing of life, even in the midst of pain. So it was with Jonathan...and so it still is.
The role Jonathan played while he was Men's Student Life Coordinator at Boyce went far and above the job description handed down by the institution. It saddens me that he's gone, because I know that the young men who have come to Boyce this Fall and who will be here in the Spring do not, by no fault of their own, miss Jonathan the way they ought to. His presence was calming, despite the apparently distracted nature of his thought process ;) His speech was encouraging and gentle, yet filled with conviction. His friendship...oh my...there is no price one could pay me to forget his friendship. I would say that of a few men, yet now I say that of Jonathan. Do you know why? He was constantly teaching me one thing, and just one thing. And even though I supposedly already knew this one thing, he would teach it to me anyway, because I would always forget it. What did he teach me? The gospel.
I've said it before that of my closest friends, there's often one word or phrase that pops into my head when trying to describe them. This word or phrase captures the essence of whom I perceive them to be, and I will probably always view them light of this perception. With Jonathan, I think to myself, "the gospel." He knew nothing else, he desired nothing else. He taught again and again of the preciousness of the gospel, of the single-mindedness that the gospel calls us to in Christ. How precious a lesson! Jonathan continues to preach to me even now that he's gone, for I hear his voice as it comes unbidden in the midst of severe trial. I hear his voice, and it speaks of the gospel!
My reasons for mourning over the void Jonathan's departure has created are personal, yet they are not selfish. I yearn for these young men at Boyce to know the fellowship that Jonathan offered, and to fall in line under his leadership. I long for them to savor and rejoice in Christ as they ponder the wonders of the gospel. I long for them to do that, for I see the lack on our campus.
Yet, as I ponder this, I find a motive even deeper than my simply wishing Jonathan were still here. That motive is a strange one: fear. Why fear? Oh, it's absurdly simple. It's a fear that shames me and yet moves me. *Sigh*...it's a fear that's created by a feeling of inadequacy. With Jonathan gone, who does it fall to to minister to these young men? Chip? Yes, partially. Who else? Who else is going to make an impact on their lives on campus? Jonathan taught me far better than he realized. A large part of the gospel that he rigorously preached was love. We are called to love our brethren, to engage them with a love that goes beyond the bounds of comfort. He challenged me to love my brothers, to lay down my life for them. But you know what? With his departure, I feel the weight of that challenge far more keenly. Am I good enough? Am I strong enough? What if I can't find the words? What if they don't respect me? What if I don't love them? What if I can't find it in myself to even like them? Such are my fears. They're there, and they're real. The question is, what will I do with them? Will I stand as a petrified fool, unable to act? Or will I, still as afraid as ever, trust the Lord for the strength to love and serve my brothers?
I find the answer in Jonathan's life. He lived an imperfect life, yet in doing so, he still strove to point me to Christ in all he did. More importantly, he let me in on his fears, his doubts, his weaknesses, and his failures. He showed me that though they were there, though they were real, he still journeyed. Oh, and what a journey! Part of the charm of Jonathan Leeman is that he doesn't know how amazing he is; I'm glad. He wouldn't be Jonathan Leeman if he did ;)
posted by Bolo | 9:03 AM
Linkage I'm feeling geeky today, and the links reflect that. Like Emily said, "you are such a geek...and I mean that in the best way possible." Awww shuuuucks ;)
This could be shaky.
I'm extremely jealous of these people, and they have the temerity to be ignorant of their heavenly blessings. *Sigh*...
I see you. Do you see me? One of my all-time favorite places to waste time :)
Another great way to waste time. Reminds me of the days Goose and I would play hookie from work and play with our Nerf ring guns! posted by Bolo | 11:11 PM
Enlarge My Heart Psalm 119:32
I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.
I remember reading in The Pleasures of God a reminder of the Lord's promise that we will one day behold our Savior in all His glorious majesty, His face radiant and beautiful, shining brighter than the sun. We will rejoice as never before on that day, for in beholding Him we will do so with a capacity to gaze upon the glorious Son as only the Lord can. Indeed, to gaze upon the Son as He is revealed in His glory is not only blinding beyond belief, it is beyond unworthy wretches such as ourselves! Yet, when we finally do behold Him, we can do so knowing that we are to do so freely and joyfully; indeed, we will!
That is the climax of the enlarging of the heart that the psalmist speaks of here. While on earth, however, we are engaged in a constant and heated battle against sin. Sin, for whatever reason, does not want to quit. It does not acknowledge its defeat, and its wiley ways are still to be found springing forth from our hearts with a cruel smile. Sin exults in whatever tiny victories it can get, for it is in such tiny victories that it gains ground. And where, you ask, does it gain ground? On our hearts...on our hearts. Our capacity to enjoy the Lord, to delight in Him, to be satisfied in Him and Him alone, that is where sin works to gain ground. For when we give up precious portions of our hearts to sin, we give up precious portions of enjoyment of the Lord in our lives. What could be more horrible to the Lord's beloved? Could it be that tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakednes, or peril, or sword ought to cause our hearts to quaver? No! None of those are more horrendous to the Lord's precious child than to find him or herself with a shriveled capacity to enjoy and savor and glory in the Lord!
To run the way of the Lord's commandments is to joyfully obey and delightfully seek to live His word. It is to trust Him with our whole heart and to not lean on our own understanding. It is to seek Him with all we are, bringing before Him all our sin and all our talent, knowing that we cannot add to anything He is, but that all we are is still His to pour out for His glory. It is to hope in Christ alone and to relish in our weaknesses, for our weaknesses (and failures!) are to His glory. It is to count all as loss in view of Christ, living with the hopeful expectancy rooted in the knowledge that though we are aliens and strangers while here on earth, we have a citizenship that is sealed for us in heaven. It is to live full of hope in the knowledge of the promise of the enlarging of our hearts, for we shall one day gaze with rapturous and reverential joy upon the countenance of our beloved Savior :)
Yes, Father, enlarge my heart! Do not let me wallow in my sin, but as You root it out according to Your lovingkindness, cleanse me and wipe the hideous effects of sin from my soul. Grant to me the desire and delight to look upon Your Son, gazing upon Him and hoping in Him. Let such beholding cause me to become more like Him, and do not fail to form Him within me. Even more, let such change come with overflowing, that I might live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ! posted by Bolo | 1:19 PM
Remarkably Fitting When Leeman called me at 8:58 am, I knew something was fishy. Our 9:00 am appointment was somehow going to be altered, of that I was sure. Thus, I was not surprised in the least when I answered the phone and heard a lot of wind in the background...background wind as is created when one is still driving on the interestate!
me: "You're late, aren't you?"
Leeman: "I took the wrong exit!"
me (laughing): "How did I know? HOW DID I KNOW!?!?!"
Leeman: "I'll be there in a little bit, brother."
Only Jonathan Leeman, I tell you. Of course, the Leeman Principle was not just limited to me. Oh, no! He had a 7:00 am breakfast meeting with Chip. Jonathan told me Chip's phone call woke him up at 7:10 am. Was I surprised? Nope :)
Alas! Such a tale is not fair to Jonathan, if only because I have thus far written only of his silly mishaps. Granted, those silly mishaps are remarkably fitting with the Jonathan I've always known and loved, but still, I really ought to be fair to Mr. Leeman.
But you know what? Not quite yet ;) posted by Bolo | 3:34 PM
Leeman's Happiness Jonathan Leeman is, for the time being, back in town. We were supposed to gather at the Perkins residence at 7 pm. Because he was late, the time got switched to 8:30 pm. No surprise there, truth be told. In fact, when Shannon told me we were pushing back the start time because Jonathan was running late, I just laughed and said, "hey, Jonathan's involved! Of course we're behind schedule!"
The evening at the Perkins house was great. We watched an old Seinfeld standup routine, most of which I managed to sleep through. Me sleeping through something...go figure ;) Maybe it was his nose; that thing is so huge, it caught my attention like a natural pendulum swinging back and forth...back and forth...back and forth...back and...forth...back...and...forth...back...oh, sorry :)
It was good to see Jonathan. He looked...happy. I think we all looked happy, with the end of the semester having begun to settle into our systems. But he really looked happy, in a way that surpassed the deep joyful kind of happy that I'd seen in him when he left in the summer. It was the carefree kind of happy that comes with knowing not only that you're supposed to be right where you are, but also from having the capacity to naturally enjoy that place where the Lord has you. The simple things in life are enjoyable, the little things are meaningful, and the big things are not overwhelming. Shannon will become his bride in under two months, and Jonathan is happy. And I'm happy for him :)
I get to meet with him at 9 am...less than 9 hours hence. We have an hour together before I have to head over to Alumni Chapel for graduation (Mon and Dave are walking tomorrow...woohoo!), and before he has to head over to Carver for a little shindig with Scott and Biggzy. It'll be cool :) The last time Jonathan and I spent some time together one on one...let's see...it was the middle of summer...June 21, if memory serves me correctly...and I'm sure it does, 'cause it was the day after Jim Winn's going away party...anyway, it was quite the crazy conversation, and one I'll never forget. Jonathan was in rare form that day, displaying an even greater amount than usual of his infamous Leeman Principle. This time around, I have a feeling it'll be somewhat different. How, I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to our time together. It'll quite possibly be the last one on one time I get to spend with him before he gets married. That has such a note of finality to it...married! And Jonathan Leeman, no less! I shouldn't make fun of him; after all, here I am on the slow boat to my undergraduate degree, not really anywhere close to graduation. I just told someone that by the time I graduate, the Freshmen here at Boyce will be a decade younger than me. Ouch :) Reality sets in at the strangest times, doesn't it? Indeed it does, indeed it does. posted by Bolo | 12:19 AM
Linkage Hmmm...the battle of the sexes heats up...check this out :) C'mon, guys, we can do it! Hey, if worse comes to worst, sign on as women and do horribly to throw off the scoring. Just kidding!
Kind of. Go drive! (Finals are done, so I know you have the time.) posted by Bolo | 11:24 AM
Service As I've studied the Word this week, one vein of thought continues to pulse within me. It's the notion of service, and my motives therein. The apostle Paul's infamous desire to depart and be with Christ as he details it in Philippians 1 is held in check by one thing: his desire to stay and be Christ to and build Christ up within those to whom he was ministering. It was a motive that had as its cornerstone the only true Cornerstone, Christ. It was a desire that, truth be told, held immense joy in store for his own heart. As was Christ's sacrifice, so was Paul's sacrifice not one without reward. Paul rejoiced in knowing that the fruits of his labor would not be in vain! Indeed, this great overarching hope was deepend by the lesser hope that he might fellowship with those to whom he was writing. And why was this? "So that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again."
I've struggled this week to reconcile that truth with my actions. Paul opens wide the floodgates to his heart, and I am overwhelmed; where is that servant's heart within me? Paul does not allow me to shirk or wallow in the shallow waters of shallow service. No, he beckons and pulls and drags me out to the deep waters with him! It is there that I find that it is difficult to serve, for the standards are high. Is my joy sufficient to keep me from sinking? How do I bear the burdens of another when my own heart is already weighed down? *Sigh*...it is here, here where I find my need to trust in the Lord far greater than ever before, here where Paul and Christ beckon with unrelenting joy, it is here where I find service to be real.
What does all this mean? Said plainly, it means that the laying down of my life is an embracing of the cross. That's what Paul was really getting at. In chapter 2, he goes on to speak of Christ laying aside the privileges of His deity, publicly embracing the shame of the cross. He did it not out of empty, self-deprecating sacrifice; rather, His sacrifice was one of deep joy and hope, one where His reward and recompense was greater than we could ever imagine. Indeed, we are a part of that reward and recompense! Therefore, to lay down our own lives in sacrifice and service to King Jesus is to be done in deep joy and hope, with our hearts looking forward to our own reward: Christ, Christ in us, and Christ in one another.
posted by Bolo | 8:26 AM
Done Done. Done, DONE, DONE. Boyce College's Fall Semester, 2004, is over and done with. DONE.
Ryan Szrama still has some papers to turn in, though. Hah!
Tonight a handful of us were over at his place...me, Scott, Rob, Cassie, and Emily. All of his roommates were there at one point or another...Benge, Rusczkiewicz, Moonpie, Worley, and Tim Smith. The only bummer about a night like that is that there's so many options, one inevitably feels torn. Mike asked me to stay in the Patio Room and play Risk with them, which I would have loved to do, but I had already been cemented into a fine dinner prepared by Cassie and Emily. No loss there, mind you :) A free meal is always good, but this one was absolutely magnificent. Little turkey and cream cheese roll thingies with strawberry butter...oh my...I told Moonpie I could eat that strawberry butter through a straw. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I was joking. The chicken...breaded in Panko and fried, served over pasta...mmm...excellent! I must say, the ladies outdid themselves. They were a little jealous, however, because Scott and Worley both got massages, and they did not. Emily did get a nice little picture of Scott's agonized face, though; maybe she'll post that on her blog :)
Of course, no gathering of Boyce students would be complete without a few silly yet random quotes. Here, from this evening as well as days recently gone by, are a handful worth laughing at.
Moonpie: "Oh, cuss word!"
Said with discernable volume after Moonpie hit his knee on his desk in his room. We all heard it in the kitchen. Hi-stinkin-larious.
Pablo: "If you don't realize that Paul Butterworth is singing an 8 minute long karaoke, there's a lot of things you aren't going to realize."
What Paul said concerning the attentiveness of our fellow Boyce College men whilst at the DeKlavon's infamous After-Party on Saturday night.
Szrama: "Hey, I could be your girlfriend."
He said that to Rob. Pfft...'nuff said :)
Scott: "Rob, who's water is it?"
Rob: "...It's MY WATER!"
Scott was implying that Rob ought to share his water freely. Rob was implying that he didn't have to. Dork.
*Sigh*...such thoughts are churned out at the end of the semester. Silliness abounds, and sadness has not set in, for we do not yet realize that we won't see one another for six weeks or so in most cases. We're just glad to be done with final exams, and we want to make sure that we do all the things can to release the stress and tension. Yes, the Lord is indeed good...four semesters down...fifty to go... posted by Bolo | 2:57 AM
Semester's End After I tossed the shifter into park and pulled the parking brake until it would brake no more, I turned off the engine and sat there listening to John Ondrasik and Five for Fighting, letting them soothe me with 100 Years. The clock must've read somewhere around 12:30. 12:30 am, that is. The next thing I know, my eyes were gazing at that same clock as it read "2:24." Whoa...that was a nice little nap. The car radio was blurring out something to my blurry mind, and my blurry eyes could barely see through the blurry windshield and window. I got out and went inside, thinking about the evening that just transpired.
Dinner with Jessica was cool. I told her I wrote a blog post about her, and she got excited about that. Oh, that reminds me...I have to email her. Be right back.
Ok, email has been sent. She listened to me recount the past month's happenings, since I hadn't really seen her a whole lot in that time period. In fact, of the few times that I had seen her, our interaction was very quick and not at all conducive to good conversation. It was with this long gap in news, therefore, that I gave her the crazy happenings of all that had transpired since our last decent dialogue. She was excited for me...silly giddy girl, I tell you.
I went back to Carver after that to await the start of our last Dorm Meeting of the semester. This one was unofficial, since the official last one was last week, but we had a good turnout anyway. These unofficial ones are always special; they're very sweet and reverential in a way that goes beyond our normal Dorm Meetings. A few people shared some things that the Lord has done this semester, and others read some passages of Scripture that they felt they needed to share. Right now, I'm not left with too many details of that last Dorm Meeting; it's more of an impression. What is that impression? Simply this: seek the Lord...seek Him.
Scott and I walked Cassie and Emily back to Mullins after that, and the ladies obliged us with gracious conversation and laughter that far outdid our own cumbersome attempts at witty humor. Ok, maybe not; it was just Scott's cumbersome attempts at witty humor that were outdone, not mine ;) After bidding the young ladies adieu, we went back to Carver and prayed. Wow. That was the last time we'd do our Monday walk and talk after Dorm Meeting for the semester. That's another semester in the books, in a sense. Those Monday walks are going to become legendary in Scott and Toto lore.
It wasn't all that long ago where we were planning out the semester together, trying to patch together strategies that would allow us to be more effective in our roles on campus. We spoke of how the Leadership Retreat had gone, and our respective reactions to Orientation. We shared what the Lord had been teaching us over the summer, and how we wanted to apply those teachings. Ironically, we also spoke of how we both were chilling on the Girl Front; yeah, we both fell flat on our faces there. No regrets about that for either one of us, though :)
Scott and I prayed in an empty classroom on the first floor of Carver. After praying, I told him that right now, it seems like the Lord's teaching me to be content in not seeing life with the clarity or discernment I'm used to. The semester's been tough, and the past month has been unforgivingly brutal at times, and my soul is desperately in need of recuperation and rejuvenation. But you know what? The Lord's working that, even now; I just have to be patient and not rush it. I must look to Him and seek Him, trusting that He'll teach me once more not to rely upon myself, but upon Him. He has made me weak for the sake of His glory, and in that I rejoice :) posted by Bolo | 2:48 AM
Bailey In a little while, I'm supposed to go have dinner with Jessica Bailey. Jessica's cool. I've known her for a little over a year now, but it's only in the past few months that we've become good friends. She'll be getting married in a couple of months to my buddy Josh, so she's leaving Boyce after this semester. Thus, she gets some "John Letoto Time." For some reason I cannot fathom, she likes me, and actually comes to me for advice and whatever biblical counsel I can offer.
Jessica was one of the people I cried like a baby in front of...oh...was it a month ago now? Yeah, a month ago, believe it or not. I trust her like that...and she trusts me. That's a very amusing thought to me, if only because she used to try to hold my hand while we sat down at lunch in the cafeteria. Gah. She was always being scandalous in that silly Jessica Bailey sort of way. But she knew I didn't care...she knew I would be her friend no matter how silly she got.
Anyway...time to go grab some grub with Miss Bailey. You know what? Soon, she'll be Mrs. Ryherd. Yikes. posted by Bolo | 6:07 PM
Linkage This is too cool not to link. Click on it. Now. Go go go!
Hmmm...this may be a new way to challenge Jewel, since she refuses to get into any spelling bees ;)
Yes, this is retarded. Understand, however, that it's also nostalgic for me. I didn't spend hours playing Quake for nothing!
Paper was never this cool. Hot, very hot! Or would it be cold? posted by Bolo | 11:39 PM
Old School update, 12/5 The "Old School" block on the right has been updated. Enjoy :)
posted by Bolo | 9:07 PM
Winter Dinner Reason #63 why Boyce College Rocks: The Winter Dinner. Our annual Get Dressed Up and Look Hot event was held at The Fifth Quarter, a steakhouse off of Preston Highway. Heh...as if that description helps you peoples back home ;) Jewel came down from Indy for the dinner, and being that we were running a little late...uhhh...I think we definitely made the "fashionably late" entrance. It was kinda funny, 'cause about fifty people came up and greeted us/her, and the other gajillion people were like, "who's Toto with?" That made for quite an amusing dinner :)
The food was good, but the company was better. We had a bunch of people at our table, but Jewel and I spent the majority of the evening with Scott and Emily. One portion of the evening had us playing the Skittles Game (or whatever it's officially called), answering questions that were designed to have us reflect on the semester that has nearly passed. I think the four of us each had at least one answer that at least one of the other four, if not more, could have answered for the other. Did that make sense? I hope so. Someone *coughJEWELcough* had the gall to call one of my answers before I answered it; not that I minded that in the least ;)
One thing in particular that I've really been thinking about this past week is how much I miss serving people. (These posts here and here may shed a little more light.) I was telling Chip Collins on Monday that what I hated about being so constantly drained this past month is that I felt like I had nothing to give the guys...nothing. I felt too sore to care, too occupied with just trying to stay afloat in my own life to even begin to think about helping someone else tread water. I hated it, I did. Was it my ego talking? Was my pride keeping me from allowing me to open up? I don't think so; the people who need to know did indeed know...believe me, they knew. Heh...I think Scott bore the brunt of it, that poor soul. Mike and Chris definitely heard their share, and Andrew and Brian and Jim helped out as much as they could over the phone. Still, it hurt so much to tell some random guy that I wasn't ok, that I was hurting far more than I wanted to be hurting...and that I had nothing to give him. Aaaahhhh! I hated it! I felt like such a failure! I wanted so much to encourage and strengthen my brothers, and I couldn't...I just couldn't. Yet I do not regret it. I do not regret being weak. I was ministered to, and I was lavished with love and care. Most of all, I was shown Christ. And you know what? Maybe, just maybe, my hurting helped show someone else Christ, for He was all that truly comforted me. I pray they saw in my eyes the deep and aching desire for Him above all else; I pray they see that still. In that, I take comfort and rejoice :)
I later told Jewel that people's perception of me here at Boyce is something I'm still getting used to. It's very much one or two-sided, and most of my peers don't realize that there's a few other sides of my life that they don't ever get to see. The Department of Defense Computer Specialist, the Produce Clerk in the grocery store who made fruit baskets for fun, the guy who grew up dressing like a bum, and who still does at when at home, the recluse who has to shut the door on the world and just write from time to time...they don't see those sides of me. Not that that's bad, it's just hard for me to get used to. I told her it's not only that others don't see those sides, but it's weird for me, too, because growing up I never really explored the things I now love to do. Writing, art, computers, teaching/coaching, or even learning in a classroom setting...those things were foreign concepts or lifestyles that other people explored or lived, not me. Yet I now find myself trying to get used to the fact that those things are...well...they're me. They're facets of who I am, facets that the Lord is slowly allowing me to come to grips with. It's a tough thing, because I grew up being content to take a backseat in life. Now, I constantly find myself doing the driving. Well, Jesus does the real driving, but you know what I mean...stop over-analyzing the analogy ;) It's...weird. I'm taken back to what Scott said about him being Student Council President...when he first got here on campus, he was the guy who stayed in his room and studied all the time. Now, people look to him whether he likes it or not. But you know what? He embraces the role the Lord has given him. I see it for myself, and I love it. He's doing what he needs to do, and there's no denying it. I guess it's much the same for me...I'm discovering what the Lord has for me in life...and it's still taking some getting used to.
The infamous After-Party at the DeKlavon's more than lived up to its infamous reputation. Scott and Emily joined me and Jewel in the ride to and from the DeKlavon house, and the riding definitely did not disappoint. I saw Miss Emily Cavanaugh in a different light...oh my...let's just say she does indeed have a feisty side ;) This effervescent spunk caused my jaw to drop the first time it was put on display; the second time around, I was almost ready to pay for the entertaining dialogue coming from the back seat. All commuting craziness aside, the evening was perfect. I honestly don't think it could've gone any better. Ok, maybe it could have, but I'm not regretting anything in the least. I had a blast and a half :) posted by Bolo | 1:09 PM