Sunday, July 25, 2010

For everyone's listening pleasure: The Dino Rap

Click on this link and prepare to be amazed...

Monday, May 24, 2010

still LOST?

I feel like a long term relationship has just ended.
During the final minutes of LOST’s series finale, I found myself quietly weeping as Jack and the gang finished their journeys. I thought the ending was a perfect one for the show, and one in which most people did not see coming, so much so that there were many who were left completely confused about the last 15 minutes of the program.
I would like to explain my take on things in order to help others either see the “light”, or maybe help you to construct your own theories about the end. Here is a helpful visual for all of you who hate reading:

Basically, the Flash Sideways Timeline is not a sideways timeline at all, but a post-death-pre-Heaven sort of deal. When the plane does not crash, but continues to LA, all of the characters on it are dead. The Flash Sideways is what each of the Losties experience when they die. They get a chance to reconnect with the people that meant the most to them in life, the ones that they loved and had an impact on them. Think of it as a DVD (or I guess Blue Ray) highlight film containing the culmination of your most emotional moments and experiences in life. After experiencing these “Top Ten” sort of moments in life, the character is now ready to move on, or travel to their final destination. Many faiths have different types of afterlife, so the show made this next step broad and vague, leaving each to insert their faith here and not think that the show was taking sides or pushing a certain religion.
“So what was real?!?” you may ask? Well, as Christian Shepherd (Jack’s father) said: “It was all real.” But to be more specific, all of the Lost characters were alive on the island and off, until they died. And when they died, they were transported to the Flash Sideways (final season alternate timeline), where they embark on their final journey of discovering that they in fact are dead, and eventually remember and enjoy their favorite moments, people, and connections in life. The thing that confuses people is that in the realm of Time, people die at different times. In this show, however, the afterlife (or pre-afterlife) is outside of Time. Therefore, when each individual dies, no matter what day or time in life, all of these people who were so connected with each other get transported to this final period where they were on the plane that did not crash, and are allowed a short season to make those connections and reminisce.
“Well what about the island and all its mysteries?” Well, LOST is a show about mystery. Period. Did you honestly think they would answer every single little question that you had? That would be some series finale, lasting a lot longer than the two in a half hour one that we were given. Here are some facts: The island was a real place, with very mysterious powers. All throughout the history of this island, people of many different kinds fought over it to harness, control, and explore these powers. Some took a scientific approach to it, while others had a very reverent awe and protective spirit for the island. Certain passengers on board Oceanic 815 were brought to the island on the hopes that one of them would accept the responsibility of protecting the island and its powers. Jack was the one who finally rejected coincidence and believed that he was brought there for a reason. And while his service as the protector the island was a very short period, he did his duty by setting things right (reviving the light) and passing the reigns to another protector (Hugo). After that, some people escaped the island (Kate, Sawyer, Frank, Miles, and Richard), while others stayed to continue protecting it (Hugo and Ben), and some ending their lives (Jack).
Here’s the part that confuses people: when Jack closed his eyes and died, he was instantly transported to the plane that flew over the island and had never crashed. Now, even though Locke had died way before that (killed by Ben in that apartment room in an earlier season) he was instantly transported to that plane at the same time. Because the afterlife was outside of time, it didn’t matter when people died. They all were on that plane together. If it helps, think of Jack being knocked unconscious right when he died, and being woken up on that plane that didn’t crash. Jack doesn’t know how long he was knocked out. It could have been years! Enough time for the rest of the people to live out their own lives and finally die as well. When you are sleeping and eventually wake up, do you know how long you were asleep? No. So how long could people know how long they were dead? The Flash Sideways Timeline just woke everyone up at the same time, even though everyone had died at different times.
The creators of the show stated that LOST transformed from a show about the mysteries of the island to a show about the mysteries of people and the connections and emotions that they share with each other. I thought that the ending of LOST was near perfect. I am so glad that I invested so much time and energy into the show. I do not regret the evenings spent watching, the conversations had, or even the books that I read because of this show. It has helped me to see the more important things in life: the love and connection that comes with interacting with people. Let us all treasure the time we have with one another. All good things must come to an end, sometime.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Worship is a journey

Sometimes I, along with some friends, have the privilege and enjoyment of leading worship. And while there are multiple distractions and motives that possibly get in the way, I am honored to play a role in creating an atmosphere for people to experience God. I have been in and out of praise bands for about 10 years now, and here are a few observations I have noted concerning praise and worship. Keep in mind, worship is not limited to singing and clapping for about 20 minutes a week. It is an everyday thing, a continuing process. The thoughts I have to share are about those times when we sing before hearing from pastors and Bible study.

Worship is a journey. While praising and singing, we attempt to get to a place where we are focused and prepared for what God is about to tell us.

Sometimes that journey has obstacles in the way. We may need to right some wrongs before we even begin:

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave you gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

“Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:8-10

Or the obstacle could be distractions. We are a generation of multitasking. Cell phones, To-Do lists, and even random thoughts are things we must lay aside in order to get to a place where we can truly listen to God.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10

Sometimes the journey is a painful one. Have you ever been singing a song and actually realize what you are singing? A lot of worship songs are straight out of scripture. And the Word has a way of cutting us to the core of who we are and of what we are guilty:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

We are guilty of singing lies. It may sound good, we may hit every note, and participate in clapping and yelling, but we flippantly sing words that instantly reveal our lack of reverence and honor. It is then that we should stop singing, confess our sins, and repent:

“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:28-29

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Isaiah could not join in with the singing when he was in the presence of the Lord. He wanted to die [Isaiah 6:5]. When we join in with the angels and heavenly beings who are already worshiping God, we have the audacity to assume that we are doing God a favor by singing praise to Him. We are blessing Him with our voice and presence, as if He needed it.

Sometimes the journey is a marathon. We need to pursue God. But sometimes He may not answer us right away. Abraham waited on God. Jacob wrestled with God. David pleaded with God for Him to answer.

“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;” Isaiah 40:31

Sometimes the journey is a desperate sprint, running to God to get away from sin and worldly emotions. We realize how deep our need is for God and His provision and deliverance, especially during trials:

“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:7-8

This journey may look different for each one of us, but the path to the presence of God through worship is far from simple. We are not perfect. We do not deserve to worship our God. But we are commanded to. It is one of our purposes in life: To give Him glory through song and praise. Let us be willing to fully participate in the journey that is worship.

p.s. I did that drawing on Print Artist.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reality TV shows.

What is it about watching someone lose 240 lbs. on TV that makes us cry (while eating double-fudge ice cream and sitting on the couch after a long day of no physical activity whatsoever)? Why are we so enthralled by everyday people being judged by predictable personalities (insert your favorite Simon or Randy phrase here. I choose: YO DAWG, THAT WAS ON FIYAH, WHAAAAT)? I wonder if there is a total of how many reality TV shows that are airing every week. And the combinations are endless! You want a Sopranos drop-out who likes to make pastries and cupcakes? You want a Brittish woman to correct your candy-crazed disrespectful kids? Or how about another Brittish woman communicating with your dog so it will stop urinating on your couch? How about chronicling the lives of barely famous filthy rich women whose husbands work so they can waste even more money? These are all actual shows! And if you can name all of these shows mentioned, I commend [condemn] you.

Do you know what the crazy fact is? You are in a reality show. It's not on TV. This is real. And everyone is watching. Hebrews 12:1 says,

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

It's the Amazing Race. But you are the star, and the audience is all of the heroes of the faith who have gone before us. My trusty NIV study Bible states that "the Greek word 'witnesses' is the origin of the English word 'martyr' and means 'testifiers.' They bear testimony to the power of faith and to God's faithfulness." And if that does not spur you on to live the life that God has called for you, check out Hebrews 4:13,

"And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Not only does God see all that we do, say, and think, He also lets us know that we are going to have to answer to all that we have done with the life He has given to us.

You're on TV. It's really real. And you do not know how long your story will last. How will you act? Who will you be?

Let's watch and find out.

...Right after this commercial break.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here's my cat, Macaroni (Roni for short). Isn't he cute? Did you know that I am a big cat person? I know that some people hate cats, and I just don't get that. You gotta earn a cat's affection. Work for it. You can treat a dog poorly (not something I would ever do, mind you) and chances are it will still love and look up to you. That's not a bad thing. In fact, I think that's one of the main reasons why people love dogs so much (unwaivering love and big personality). But doesn't that love feel better when it is earned?

I know people will disagree with me, and I understand that. This isn't even the subject of this post. The main thing I wanted to talk about today is the wingless external parasite known as Ctenocephalides felis, also dubbed the Cat Flea.
Few things' existence on this earth are questioned. This is one of those things. Last week we discovered that Roni was infested with these horrible, disgusting, no-good parasites. We gave him a bath, thinking that they would wash off him and go down the drain. It turns out that fleas just move to the driest spot on the animal, which was Roni's poor head. Cara went to the vet and came back with a pill. Don't ask me how it worked, but 10 minutes after getting him to take the pill (thanks Rhonda!) dozens of fleas began to crawl and squirm all over Roni's head. It was a pitiful site (except for those who hate cats, I bet). Roni could not calm down. But as Cara and I picked flea after flea off of him, he knew that we were taking care of him. Roni trusted that whatever we were doing was for his benefit, even though he didn't understand it.

In this moment, I was reminded of God's great love and care for us. In the midst of our struggles, stresses, and infestations (sin), God works even in ways we may not understand to provide and take care of us. Check out Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." You just need to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).

Fleas don't hurt the animal, you know. They just suck blood and fluids out a little at a time, while multiplying by hatching eggs. The problem comes when the number of fleas are so great that the host animal becomes dehydrated from lack of fluids or they contract a disease passed on from the flea's previous victim. Sin may seem tolerable at first. It may not even seem to have a downside or negative effect on your life. It's just a matter of time, however, before the consequences become severe. Read what James says about sin: "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:15). We must be aware of the progression of sin before it is too late. If that medicine does not get rid of all of the fleas on Roni, we need to re-apply it. We must give God all of our lives, every area, for Him to examine, clean, and get rid of anything that doesn't belong.

When all of the fleas were off Roni, he collapsed at my feet and went to sleep for a looong time. He was exhausted. He was at peace. May we examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sharing my heart [stomach]

I’m going to be honest and share something, so don’t make fun of me. I recently have acquired a deep appreciation and moderate addiction to the foreign cuisine establishment known as the Chinese buffet. So much so that last week I ate at the same place 5 straight days in a row. I realize that this may be extreme, but I consider myself somewhat of a food connoisseur and when it’s good, I eat it like there’s no tomorrow [side thought: Will we be fat in Heaven?].

So why is Chinese food so addictive? Here’s where my brother comes in. Jason told me that Japanese scientists have accepted a “fifth taste” (the basic four tastes being sweet, salty, bitter, and sour). I did some research and found that the word they use for this is called “umami”. Food items that are said to have umami are mushrooms, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and a few others. Chemically speaking, umami foods contain glutamate, an amino acid. Did you know that we have certain receptors on our tongue that distinctly pick up glutamate and related compounds? Some glutamate-rich foods are seaweed and mushrooms, which are widely used in foreign cooking. This separate taste was later isolated and discovered as monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, a word that I am sure is familiar to you.

MSG was introduced to the US in the 1950’s by the name of “Accent”, and was widely popular. Guess what other foods contain this addicting flavor additive: soups, chips, macaroni (my cat’s name) and cheese, and fast food. Now you know why these things are so addictive! And that’s why I ate at Dynasty Buffet for five days in a row. There was a void in my stomach that needed to be filled, and other foods could not satisfy or compare.

Did you know that we have a void in our souls that needs to be filled with Jesus Christ? People commit to so many hobbies, addictions, or even people, in order to be satisfied with life. These things may be fun, amusing, and even pleasurable, but they just don’t add up to the true satisfaction of knowing our Savior. We see it so many times with celebrities: they have millions of dollars and are well known around the whole world. They are living the American Dream, with everything at their fingertips, yet many are not satisfied. There is still something missing. Henrietta Mears writes that the book of Ecclesiastes is “the soul’s autobiography or the book of experience”. It doesn’t take long to see that the writer of this book (Solomon) had everything at his command, but found it all to be meaningless. Read the last couple sentences of Ecclesiastes:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Paul writes in Philippians 3 that he wants to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”. We have a god that loves us so much that He gave his life so that we may live with God forever. If you have ever wondered if there is more to life than schedules, sports, money, fame, and temporary highs, let me assure you that there is. Allow Jesus to come in to your life, and you will very soon experience how “addicting” worship and fellowship with Jesus can be.


*other verses to check out: John 12:32, James 4:8, Hebrews 10:22


Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.

What The Bible Is All About- Henrietta Mears (I didn’t know how to spell “connoisseur”)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rumble Ball

Let's start with a history lesson:

Rumbleball is a sport that was birthed at the turn of this century. It began in Southeast America and has spread across the country in the span of just a few years. Rumbleball is a sport of outlasting endurance and extreme determination. It is a combination of water polo, basketball, football, and wrestling.

To play Rumbleball, all you need is a pool, a ball, and some "Rumblers", or people that love to wrestle, compete, and work as a team. There are many different types of pools, but the ones that are best fitting for this game are your standard rectangular pool, with a shallow and deep end.

Now, this standard pool shown has a brick boarder, which is not ideal, for reasons you will soon read about. The court size is mainly limited to the shallow end. Outside of the pool is out of bounds. No one is allowed to get out of the pool during play. The deep end is playable, but is not in the scoring zone. The ball is a standard Wal-Mart ball that you get in the big bins at the toy section. They are about a foot in diameter with no texture(like a kickball), and very slippery when wet.
This sport is played with two opposing teams, equal in number and hopefully physical size and ability. The object of the game is to take the ball and pass/swim/carry/muscle it to the other side of the pool with the help of your teammates and place/slam the ball down on the concrete edge of the shallow end. In order to score, one must have complete control of the ball(no bouncing out or sliding out of your grip) and must be held on the boarder of the pool for a noticeable half second. The other teams' job is to do whatever they can to stop the other team from scoring, take the ball, and score it on the other side. In order to accomplish these goals, both teams can wrestle, push, dunk, hold, drag, or man-handle one another. It is considered unsportsmanlike, however, to slap, scratch, punch, or gouge your way to victory. Such offenses can lead to an ejection of the game.

There is a coin toss at the beginning of each game to determine which side gets the ball first. The team receiving the ball first will stand touching their wall. The other team(standing at the opposing wall) will then throw the ball to the other team to begin the round(like Kickoff of a football game). The throw must be in bounds and easily catch-able. After the team receives the ball, the round can begin.
If a team throws, knocks, or places the ball out of bounds, the ball is then in possession of the other team. When either team scores, the losing team of that round walks to the other side of the court to receive the ball, starting the next round. The first team to score 7 goals wins. There is no time limit for rounds or games.

There are multiple strategies that have evolved. You can pass the ball around, swim it under water, or have blockers lead the way for the ball carrier. In order to take the ball back, you can double-team a person, throw blockers out of the way, have all 5 people go straight for the ball, or hold a key player and wrestle them to take them out of the play. The possibilities are almost endless. In order for general safety, however, the cardinal rule is that while attacking or defending, if a person is forced underwater, they must be allowed to come right back up for air. There is no holding anyone underwater for any length of time. I repeat: Once you dunk, you must let them back up.

Rumbleball was first played at a Rumble family reunion in northern Georgia in the early 2000s. Its creator is the notable and esteemed gym teacher David Matthew Rumble.

After its birth, Rumbleball was a staple played regularly at following reunions. The sport was then brought to backyard pools and local churches in Tennessee, namely North Cleveland Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Cleveland, TN. In the summer of 2004, the sport was introduced
by Matthew and Nolan Rumble to multiple churches from across Amercia at a summer missions camp called TEAMeffort, stationed in Gatlinburg, TN. Today, there are seemingly countless games going on every summer in Southeast America and beyond. Some have said that Rumbleball may become the new American pasttime, and should be considered as an Olympic sport.

The purpose of this post is to inform the public of this amazing game, and to educate those that may be unaware of this growing competitive and challenging sport. I encourage all that know and play Rumbleball to continue to play and spread this great game.