Urbana Day 4 - I'm a better Christian than you cont.

The solidarity meal was hardly a meal of solidarity... it was more appealing than half the stuff I eat normally.

That being said, it DID offer sufficient energy for the night session, which was great. The worship team was firing on all cylinders, leading us in another fantastic mixture of multicultural worship... it's really starting to grow on me. Sunder Krishnan from Rexdale Alliance in Toronto was the main speaker, and... wow. When I go to conferences, it is never to LEARN things. I go to be inspired, to be encouraged, and to be reminded - not to be taught. But tonight, Krishnan TAUGHT me things about prayer that have never even crossed my mind. It was excellent.

Family group had some odd moments (mostly when I corrected myself on the morality of my OWN joke while everyone else was laughing, leading to an awkward silence,) but it was, as usual, a great time of fellowship. We ended up playing Blitz for an hour or so, and I can safely say that Kristen and I make up possibly THE best Dutch Duo ever in the history of the game. True story.

Last day of conference (and 2009) tomorrow... hard to believe it's ending so quickly. As usual, pray for open minds and open hearts. I've got a feeling (that tonight's gonna be a good night) that tomorrow's gonna be a solid, uplifting day.

Dear God, bless the lady in her work but please... let her love.

Urbana Day 4 - I'm a better Christian than you

The day's only half over but I've got some down time... figure if I write something now, tonight's can be shorter (meaning I get to sleep earlier!)

Ok, so it's been relatively low-key so far. Following the morning session (with altar call,) we (the family group) all split up for some well-deserved alone time. Urbana generously made today the "slow" day, meaning there are no afternoon workshops, allowing for some to catch up on sleep, some to meet new friends, and others to simply sit and reflect upon the lessons of the past three days.

Andi, Jenna, Gerrit and I met around three (so two hours ago) to discuss our thoughts about the conference and what we can take back to campus. Several things stood out: the call to be more radical, the desire to live simply, and the realization that compartmentalizing life, and more importantly, faith, will never allow faith to grow. Our discussion of note revolved around the issue of spiritual pride; how we can hinder believers around us by making fun of the ways of others. That is to say, if and when we consider our own faith approach superior, then we're missing the point, and God becomes nothing more than something we use to make ourselves feel bigger.

Anyway, pray for continued discernment and discussion. Tonight is the commitment altar call for those who feel called to full-time ministry... I have a feeling it's going to be a powerful one.

Love to those of you who read this and pray. You are blessed.


Urbana Day 3 - Life as illustrated by grains of rice

And once again, I introduce to you: fantastic but oh-so-tiring day.

Keynotes on today's workshops:

Christians Called to Journalism
  • very direct, very to-the-point perspective on the world of mainstream print journalism (Manny Garcia is a managing editor with the Miami Herald)
  • there IS a place for Christian journalists in the mainstream media... the trouble is trying to find how to make a difference
  • journalistic ethics are not Christian ethics = dilemmas ahoy!
  • we ARE the voice for the voiceless; people cannot help unless they know (Romans 10:14)
Multicultural Worship
  • love is NOT colourblind; Jesus doesn't ask us to give up our identity just because we are part of a new family
  • in order to realize true worship, we MUST experience different styles of worship (read: not necessarily enjoy them, but experience)
  • I, as an Asian-Canadian, have unique worship styles to offer other races (where I used to believe that I simply belonged to the most unoriginal worship culture known to man)
  • Other races APPRECIATE and STRIVE to emulate many aspects of the Asian worship culture
Tonight's night session was incredible, with talks given by Shane Claiborne and Oscar Muriu. While I strive not to put people (especially faith leaders) on a pedestal, those of you who know me fairly well know that I absolutely LOVE the teachings and philosophy of Shane Claiborne. He did not disappoint.

Two things from Shane's talk that remain:
  • if you can't give your ipod away, then it's time to take the hammer to it
  • Mother Teresa had deformed feet

What is astounding is that Muriu's message was perhaps even more powerful. He embodied what I imagined from a charismatic African preacher - loud, proud, and full of righteous anger. However, what struck me most was his heart, a heart genuinely broken for the pain and suffering felt by the so many around the world. His talk can be summed up simply: be always humble, be always simple, and at all times, love. This is the only way that followers of Christ can hope to change the world. Muriu suggested that we give it a try - it is clear that our short-term missions and our small "faith offerings" are not getting the job done.

Family group meeting was once again epic. With a borrowed guitar, we shared our own songs with each other before embarking on a two song-turned-four song jam/worship session that truly hearkened back to the days of the early church. We followed with a powerful prayer session (because really, what else can you do after music?) before beginning the night's main event, our heavyweight discussion. Honestly, no room for trivial banter here...

When are we called to judge? Is there a time to judge, ever? Paul offers some insight on the matter in 1 Corinthians 5 when he says, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." Can we rebuke in love with the right motives? Can we rebuke in love to fit our ideals, even when they may not be that of others? Consider this: a youth worker who loves his teens and walks with them on their journeys. He is passionate, full of the spirit, and loving. He also dresses in American Apparel, needs a daily Starbucks, makes calls on his new iPhone, and drives to church in his Mazda3. Who is he? Is he not one of us? Who are we? Are we not one of him? Perhaps the idea was hard for us to grasp precisely because all members of our group are idealistically simplistic. Either way, we need to examine our motives at all times. To rebuke in love can lead to judgment so easily. Jenna mentioned that all we should strive to do is FORGET judgment - simply love. The rest will follow.

Dear God, you are big. Speak louder please.


Things learned from December 28, 2009

Jesus didn't commute from heaven.

Urbana Day 2 - Slow Down, God

Ok, so today was a little bit great, and as such, this post may be a little bit great. Sorry in advance.

Breakfast was fantastic, and offered a foreshadowing of the day... which was fantastic. The workshops I attended ended up being Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor and Evangelism Asian American Style. I will list the great things about them:

Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor
  • learn, love, and learn to love the tenets of Micah 6:8
  • split M6:8 into three currents: justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God
  • justice is the prophetic current (knowledge)
    - KNOW what you're talking about; if you're passionate, you will be passionate to learn
    - find a hero (someone to encourage and inspire you)
  • mercy is the missionary current (action)
    - find passionate friends, do something
    - be radically personal (LOVE people until you can't love anymore)
  • walking humbly with God is the contemplative current (meditation)
    - learn to listen to God about who you are
    - learn to be alone; it is more important than we know
Evangelism Asian American Style
  • I didn't learn anything new, but this seminar reaffirmed certain things in my mind:
    - I sometimes hate my culture
    - I usually hate my culture's approach to Christianity
    - there is SO much potential in the Asian church community
    - I need to get off my high horse and realize that just because my dad isn't a doctor and I don't drive a nice car doesn't mean I am morally above those who are financially and socially above me
Mostly though, the great part of the night was the night session. I can't say enough, but to sum up: African worship, human-trafficking, OMF interview, tears and shouts from us, the blessed, and breaking of hearts.

Our family group discussion (think nightly small group) was amazing, and is in fact still going on between three of them on Gerrit's bed as I type. There is so much to take in, so much to reflect upon, and so much to debate that I can't even wrap my head around it. We've been arguing back and forth about the calling: are we called to CARE about everything? Because if so, that is a LOT of shit to care about. Cynicism and apathy abound in a society that promotes cynicism and develops apathy, and it has found its way deep into the faith. Can we ever truly be passionate about the world's hurt when there is SO much to be passionate about?

The Word says Jesus saves people from hell. But how about those going through hell right now?

Dear God, help us see the world through Your eyes. Goodnight.


Urbana Day 1 - Hello America Cont.

Also stoked for Evangelism Asian American Style and possibly Urbanization & the Challenge of Urban Slums.

Stay tuned.

Urbana Day 1 - Hello America

The name of the game in the United States is size. Size matters... it doesn't matter what you do with it, it's the size that counts. I think I realized that yesterday when I ordered a medium coke and got a Canadian extra large, and then drove the perimeter of the SeaTac airport twice looking for the Northwest Airline departure gate. To put things into perspective, Vancouver, Canada's third largest metropolis and arguably its second most important city, has more people than Seattle, one of America's smaller cities, and yet the entire YVR could fit into SeaTac's Park-N-Ride.

Anyway, after half a day spent in SeaTac and Minneapolis/St.Paul's and crammed into small airplanes with cranky American tourists, Gerr and I made it to St. Louis and subsequently,

It's one thing to attend a Lions game alongside thousands of other screaming, orange-clad football fans; it's an entirely different thing to fill Edward Jones Stadium, home of the St. Louis Rams, with 17,000+ university students from all over the world, descended upon the American Midwest for five days to learn how to take Jesus and love back to their campuses, communities, and countries.

So far, it's been less than exceptional for me, though I can confidently state that the lack of food and sleep within the past 30 hours have contributed to my near-dead state. Tomorrow promises to be a great day - I'm already excited for Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor and Righting a Human Wrong: Your Role in Stopping Child Slavery. But to make the most of it, I think I should at least be coherent so... peace for now.

Dear God, work please. Thanksbye.


Bitter heart, bitter heart

The heart is a many-layered thing. Fickle, bitter, and cruel, it cuts through the core of its carrier, from the inside out, disseminating seeds of infatuation, hatred, desire, inspiration, redemption, admiration, and love.

This is a message from your heart, your most devoted body part, taking blood and making art.


The finality of friendship

I think I've finally realized something that has hounded me for a while. While the concept behind friendship is an ambiguous one, it's also one that I always thought I had a grasp on. These past few years, not so much. Indeed, it IS a complex (adj) complex (n) that warrants debate, analytical study, and reflection on its own. That being said, two things - at least for me in my journey - can now be deduced about friendship:

1. Friendships change.
2. Friendships last.

The knowledge of these two statements is unimportant; indeed, both are not only simple, but incredibly obvious facts. Where the significance of my epiphany lies is in the correlation between statements 1 and 2. That is, how do they, in context, apply to each other in order to produce deeper meaning? How can I analyze the relationship between both facts in such a way that will result in better understanding of said friendships?

The answer, as was the question and factors, is simple. Friendships change, but they last. A good friendship is one that changes but lasts through the test of time and change. A lasting friendship is one that has endured change and persevered.

A good friendship changes and lasts.

Things learned from December 24, 2009

"This is no place to try and live my life." - Relient K


Things learned from December 11, 2009

"It is through his self-control, his ability to reason, to choose, his power of attachment, that the individual distinguishes himself from the animal." - Ramatoulaye, So Long A Letter

This book is GOLD.


More things learned from December 10, 2009

I lied, I learned one more thing from African Lit.

"When one thinks that with each passing second one's life is shortened, one must profit intensely from this second; it is the sum of all the lost or harvested seconds that makes for a wasted or successful life." - Ramatoulaye in So Long A Letter

Things learned from December 10, 2009

"Mawdo, man is one: greatness and animal fused together. None of his acts is pure charity. None is pure bestiality." - Aissatou in So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba

This makes African Lit 2926 worthwhile.


Meniscus love


I am now embracing obesity and cankles.


Life Updates: Entry 3

Thoughts on life:
1. This is the warmest fall that Ottawa has EVER had.
2. I am in the library for the 12th consecutive day in a row.
3. It's been four months and I still think about those dang ICON children everyday.
4. I am staring at a large coffee, a powerade, and a full nalgene. Which do I conquer first...
5. Journalism pub night went well yesterday. Fun times with those silly kids.
6. Ugly sweater party props to Jesse and Laura for their disgusting outfits. Well done, girls.
7. Gilbert Arenas needs to step his game up.
8. Three weeks post-op. Not sure how I'm supposed to feel yet, but I'm off crutches and canes.
9. The Blind Side was an excellent movie.
10. New Moon was not.


Current Musical Gold: Installment 3

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."


Current Musical Gold: Installment 3 (in no particular order)
1. Hey, Soul Sister - Train
2. Sweet and Low - Augustana
3. Heartbreak Warfare - John Mayer
4. The Hell Song - Sum41
5. I Can - Nas
6. The Listening - Lights
7. Carnival Town - Norah Jones
8. Wait for the World's Greatest - Norwegian Recycling

As usual, stay classy.