Archive for September, 2008

confluence

It was one of those weekends.  The kind where I try to dodge or shake an inevitable mood of mine: reflection.  A half-breed of introvert and extrovert, I find myself confused with my own moods more often than not, and amused at how often somber reflection can be juxtaposed with erratic elation.  Saturday night, I had an experience that changed me.  It was as fleeting as it was overwhelming, and it was awesome. 

I had been studying some epistles (James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John) and had asked myself some good questions.  How was an early Christian expected to behave?  What did the early Christians believe? What was common to the early Christian experience?  However, the divide between myself and biblical Christian expectation/behavior seemed to be widening by each minute of study.  And I don’t mean perfection, I just mean an active faith.  I was realizing again how much work there is to be done in my own life. 

After I was through studying, I went for a walk down the La Jolla cove, and I had a really neat experience.  I tried to write down some of it right then, but I couldn’t do it justice.  In my journal, I started with “I don’t fully know how to describe the experience I just had.  I think I just saw a glimpse of the beauty of the universe.”  Whatever the experience, it brought back something for which I’m always asking God: wonder

Here is as good of a description as I can produce.

Me, standing on a peninsula of rock, jutting from the cove out into the warm ocean, suspended ten feet above the dark waters to my right and in front of me.  It’s night.  Covered in darkness, I can scarcely see the stone underneath my feet.  The sea surrounds me, with gray clouds above, tinted yellow by the dimly-lit streetlight behind.  Night divers, shining their beams under water, skim the surface 100 yards in the distance.  I stand on the ledge, a crevasse to my right, and another large rock 20 feet across, with the water inbetween 10 feet below.  On the rock, four sea lions lie, distinguishable only by their shiny skin against the stone, yelping back and forth.  And beyond them, 2 miles in the distance across the bay, I see the spotlights of La Jolla Shores Inn, shining past the shores onto the sea, towards me.  Hoody over my head, with the pulsing darkness of the nighttime sea, salted with scattered patches of sea foam, vanishing as quickly as they appear, I experience a heightened sense of awareness and close my eyes.  That’s when it happened.  Confluence.  I saw a glimpse of the beauty of the universe. Through creation I saw a glimpse of God.  It was an awareness of God’s will and work.  It all came together and I was there.  My eyes stay closed, I’m standing but I’m not aware of my feet.  I inhale.  Exhale.  Pure breaths of beauty.  God is here.

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Crazy Love

When I was 18, I almost lost faith.  I remember being new at the University, on my own in some sense of the words, thinking alot to myself.  My roommate was a Catholic turned agnostic turned atheist, a very bright young man who had subscribed to the idea that we are accidents in an accidental universe, having no design or purpose.  He used to tell me how abrasive that perceieved reality was to him– how sometimes it kept him up at night.

My faith crisis at 18 was about something personal.  It was about me realizing that not everyone believed what I did, and asking myself whether or not I was OK with that.  Was I OK to continue believing in God even though many people are familiar with my belief system, and in their own logic choose to reject it?  It was about realizing that faith is not concrete– that faith can’t even exist without doubt.  And I came through it with a realization that faith in God is the greatest reality a human can experience.

But in the process of going ‘through the fire’, a lot of my baggage got burned up.  Everything that could be shaken in my belief system, was shaken.  And I half limped through to the other side with two pillars remaining:  Love God, Love People.  That’s it.  All my ideas of what a Christian was supposed to do, to act like, to say, to look like, how many church functions they had to attend, how many doors they had to knock on, what kind of music they had to listen to, and which questions they couldn’t ask — all those melted down to this.  Nothing more, but nothing less.  It was as if God let me see the focus of everything– his goal for humanity.  And you may think, “Love. Is that all?”, but I think living out this command is the most challenging task we’re ever called to perform. 

When asked for the greatest commandment, Jesus said

“The most important one is this : Hear, O Israel the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mk 12:29-31)

“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:40

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfil them.”  Matthew 5:17

When Jesus tells us the greatest commandment, it sheds so much light on who God is, and how different he sometimes is than we would like him to be.  We often want rules, duties, tasks; but so often God points beyond all that straight to the heart of the matter: relationship.  They asked Jesus for the greatest commandment, the most important rule.  But Christ throws them for a loop by instead telling them why there is even a rulebook.  It’s so important for him to get them to understand love, that he says all the Law and Prophets ‘hang’ on these commandments.  In essence, everything that is in anyway linked to living for God rides on love.  These commands aren’t even really something you can do and forget about, but are more like the underlying principles of all Scripture.  They wanted to know what they could do to fill out the checklist, but Jesus told them that it was about more than a checklist, that it was about a relationship with God, and relationships with each other.  He simplified it, but he also raised the bar.  It’s interesting to me that they only asked him for one command, but in every instance in the Gospels he gave them two. 

And yet, Christ didn’t come to get rid of the Law.  He didn’t come to deny prophecies.  He came to be the fulfillment, and to show us how to fulfill all of the law.  That’s why he said all the law and the prophets hang on these commands.  In this process, Jesus tears all the facade and bookkeeping out of the way, and gets right to the heart.  Instead of a rulebook, a checklist that we fill out and present to God in hopes of making him happy; Jesus shows us that God is interested in the state of our hearts.  And that God knows that the true state of our hearts affects our actions and affects everyone around us.  In some sense, we mourn because when it becomes more about love and less about rules, some things don’t seem as clear.  But in the other sense, we are finally stripped bare and God can really mold our hearts into his desire.

The thing I had to realize was that more than my religious performance, God wanted my heart.  And it was scary– because I found out I could no longer hide behind rule-keeping… I could no longer just do the right things so everyone, including God, would think I was righteous.  But I realized that God looks much deeper than the way things appear– he looks at our motive.  It’s as if God says, “forget your rule keeping for a moment and ask yourself: do you really want to commune with me?” 

If so, the answer is simple yet profound.  It is easily communicated, but acted upon with difficulty.  But if we really want to know the answer to all of the biggest questions, what it boils down to is LOVE.  Wholehearted, sloppy, disciplined, messy, pure, structured, all-encompassing LOVE. 

If you can Love God with EVERYTHING and Love others like yourself, then you’ve got it made.  Simple enough, eh?  Now let’s go work on it!

the last year (part I)

So I’m 16 months out of college, 14 months out of Arkansas, and a lot has happened in the last year.  I began to write about what is going on currently, but I realized it might be best to share some of my experiences and some of what I’ve learned over the last year.  Plus– I’m the world’s worst at always backing the story up to it’s origins– the setting is the best part. 

One of the things I’ve done is start playing guitar and writing songs.  I like to do the Open Mic night thing @ Lestat’s on Adams Avenue.  Also I’ve been leading worship for Refuge youth and a few times for FLCF.  Here’s a song I wrote about a year ago. 

Also, I’ve stayed pretty busy.  First of all with the youth group– we started a weekly youth meeting called the Gathering – something new for the youth of FLCF.

It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun.  Also, I worked as a Barista @ Starbucks for 8 months — I had to get up for work @ 3:30 am about once or twice a week.  After experiencing how much my sleep patterns were out of whack, I pretty much vowed to myself that I will never work nights– and probably not food service either.

When I was working at FLCF and Starbucks, I tried to take one day/week as my sabbath… so I’d usually go around and discover San Diego. 

Somewhere in there I grew a beard and a mullet and my hairstyle changed 15 times.

And then I discovered my favorite band from California :

Carney

Carney

After I quit Starbucks, I started working full time @ Genoptix as a Lab Assistant . . . and that’s been “going well.” 

Some confusing things have happened, like this cloud I saw on University Ave,

but I’m back in the saddle, and for the most part just trying to follow Jesus. 

Awesomely Bad Christianity

So it’s my second day here at wordpress and I came across a few videos that I could not help but share.  I’m going to try to embed them and see if it works (I am somewhat new to this process).   On the first video, make sure you watch at least to the 2 minute mark.

One could definitely read into this stuff too much, but to me it just goes to show that there is a lot of weird stuff capable of being forced under the umbrella of Christianity.  My nightmarish guess is that each of these acts went around ‘ministering’ to people!  God bless their hearts.  Any thoughts?

And this next one is just for laughs: Bill O’Reilly freaking out with the teleprompter.  Warning:  Some foul language.  May not be appropriate for minors.

new journey on an old road

So I’m back in the blogosphere.  I will admit that I have missed it ever since xanga seemed to keel over and stop kicking. 

I’m here because my coming-of-age story seems to keep on going.  I’m here because I believe we’re all pretty much different versions of the same people, and I like to talk about it.  I’m here because I believe the journey is the destination, it is the means and the end… and if you can be encouraged on your journey by hearing about mine, then I would be happy. 

Starting up a blog again feels like stepping back on an old familiar dirt road with a destination your not sure of;  it’s like nostalgia mixed with wonder.  Oddly enough, that’s what my life seems like right now as well. 

So I’m back.  Feel free to interact and give feed back.  Peace on Earth.

Kenny