Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top 10 Riedlblog Posts in 2007

I've had a lot of fun this year as it's been my first full year of blogging. I've learned many things since jumping into the blogosphere. I'm looking forward to a very interesting 2008 as I have many more life experiences on the way: Moving back to Oregon with my wife, finding a new job, a new apartment, new friends, old friends, a new church community, and much more.

In the spirit of looking over the past year and looking to the future, here's the Top 10 list of my favorite posts I have written in 2007:
  1. An Old Dude Touched My Privates - Mar 7
  2. I Won The Lottery!!! - May 4
  3. Hemorrhoids - Jun 11
  4. Honeymoons are Unfair - Jun 18
  5. Happy Fertilization Day! - Jun 28
  6. Husbands Love, Wives Respect - Jul 10
  7. Through A Tunnel: Hold Your Breath! - Sep 3
  8. Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? Part 1, 2, 3 - Sep 27-Oct 4
  9. Last Thoughts From Single Life - Oct 18
  10. Snow! - Dec 1

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Rat

We went down to Portland for the weekend to celebrate Christmas a few days early. Unfortunately we had to work today, so we didn't get to have a 4-day Christmas weekend.

My family rented Ratatouille and we all watched it on Saturday. It's a great movie. Pixar rocks my socks off. So much quality work is produced by that company.

Anyway, the end of the movie was brilliant. I won't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't seen it, but I do want to hash over the theme of the movie, "Anyone can cook."

Anyone can cook? Even a rat? Well, that's what one of the messages of the movie taught the audience: we shouldn't discriminate against others and give everyone an equal opportunity. Very true.

I also found another message in the movie. Here is a quote from a character in the movie who talks about greatness (this particular example is referring to the artistry of cooking):

"Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's [restaurant], who is...nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."

This character is talking about Rémy the rat. Greatness? A rat? That seems pretty far-fetched, right? Well it's not too far from the truth.

Who can you think of who is greater than anyone else? Jesus. He was perfect. And he also came from humble origins, just as Rémy the rat had in the movie. Jesus' mother was a teenage girl and his adopted father was a construction worker. And she gave birth to him in a cave with animals because the hotels in the town were all full. They had to lay the newborn somewhere, so they put some hay in a feeding trough for Jesus to nap in. Can you imagine much more humble origins than those?

And now we still celebrate God's humble entrance into the world. He came in this way because he wanted us to understand that Jesus didn't have to be born into a wealthy or prestigious family. He was born as a humble servant. This is what our humble God does.


Images from hollywoodjesus.com and ratatuee.com

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Video Games, Alcohol, or Something Else?

This story is so sad... click to read the CNN article.

It is about a 17-year old male and a 16-year old female who were babysitting her 7-year old sister while their mom was at work. The older one was drunk playing video games and the two girls were wrestling. Eventually the teens starting attempting moves from Mortal Kombat on the little girl. They kept beating her until she stopped breathing. The two unsuccessfully attempted to revive her themselves until they eventually called the mother and 911. The girl died at the hospital.

This could have been prevented.

Sometimes we must look at sad stories like this and learn from them. We must look at our own lives and figure out what we are doing that may cause pain like this in our future. We must think about our legacy. We must plan ahead.

I am excited to be a daddy some day. I am looking forward to spending time with my kids, watching them grow and develop into adults. However, I must remember that these kids won't grow up on their own. I will need to love, discipline, teach, and encourage my kids. I will need to be involved.

I don't know all the details of this particular family's issues, but I am pretty sure that the fault shouldn't be put on the video games or the alcohol. The problems lie in the heart of the family.

All families deal with sin problems in their lives. Thankfully, we are not expected to be the solution to the problem. Jesus has already come to the earth, lived the perfect life that we could not live, and has died for us as a sacrifice. God has given us saving grace through Jesus, but also empowering grace through the Holy Spirit. We have God's power to make the necessary changes in our lives to better glorify Him. We must stop being selfish. We must stop ignoring that which is obviously our fault. We must begin to own up to our problems and seek the solution for our hearts.

When was the last time we thought about our family legacy? How often do we think about how we will raise our kids? If we continue focusing only on ourselves instead of others, especially our kids, then why would we expect anything but another sad story?

Image from askmen.com.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big Surprise, Research Shows Women Are Better Suited for Pregnancy than Men

I just read a CNN article about the differences between women and men. The article cites new research that shows how women's backs are better suited for carrying and balancing weight during pregnancy than men's backs.

From the article:
Scientists think they have figured out why pregnant women don't lose their balance and topple over despite ever-growing weight upfront.

Evolution provided slight differences from men in women's lower back and hip joints, allowing them to adjust their center of gravity, new research shows.

When the researchers looked back at fossil records of human ancestors, including the oldest spines that go back 2 million years to our predecessor, Australopithecus, they found a male without the lower-back changes and a female with them.
Now, maybe the article just happened to leave out the scientists' actual reasons for basing this new discovery on evolution. But if not, then this is ridiculous because the researchers could have just found a slight difference between the anatomy of men and women and then point to evolution as the cause.

We all know that God could have easily created women with a differently shaped lower lumbar vertebra than men's. We all know that God could have easily created women with a key hip joint 14% larger than men's. We all know that God would have put some thought into the fact that women would be carrying a baby.

I like to think that an amazing discovery such as this points to God's power and ingenuity rather than "survival of the fittest."

Related article: Original Nature news article

Photo from cnn.com

Cookies and Bark

Following in my sister's footsteps in the kitchen and the fact that it's pretty much a social expectation at work, I signed up to bring treats to work on Monday. Jen and I made scrumptious goodies... and the secret ingredient: Candy Canes!

Jen offered to make everything, but I wanted to help too. So we decided that she would make the Candy Cane Snowball cookies and I would make the Peppermint Bark.

They were a success! Lots of compliments at work. However, there were a lot more compliments for her cookies than for my bark.

After work I told Jen the news that she had received more praise from my co-workers than I had, and she replied, "You think everything is a competition, don't you?"

Yep. Pretty much!

I guess even making fun treats like this tests my humility.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

War of Words

War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles
by Paul David Tripp

Ever have a hard time communicating with people? Ever try to argue your point to someone, only to have it end in hurt feelings? Ever break down and give up when trying to explain something to someone? Everyone has experienced communication problems in one way or another. It might be with a husband, wife, child, parent, friend, enemy, roommate, co-worker, or even a stranger. You can't live in this world without communicating with others.

I highly recommend this book. Paul David Tripp does a fantastic job getting to the heart of our problems with talking with one another. He outlines what the problem is and how to change. Basically, the solution is the Gospel. The only way to change how we talk to one another is by getting to the root of the problem, which occurs in our hearts.

Here is an excerpt from the end of the book:
The damage can be seen in our offices, kitchens, family rooms, and cars, but the battle isn't really fought there. Battles of the tongue are really battles of the heart. What controls the heart will control the tongue. The tongue can set "the whole course of life on fire," or it can be used to "give grace to the ones who hear." It can viciously tear down or lovingly build up. It can condemn or give life. It can greet sin with love and forgiveness or with hatred and revenge. It can submit to the lordship of Christ or live under the control of the passions and desires of the sinful nature. It can pursue a lifestyle of ministry or a lifestyle of self-love, manipulating others to meet personal desires and expectations. It can be a fount of truth or a polluted stream of falsehood. It can create peace or cause war. It can curse or it can praise.

In it all, the tongue will serve the master to which the heart is already committed. It is time for us to submit to the Lord's claim on our tongues as our King and Redeemer. More than ever before, we need to be committed to speak for him.
As we do, we will learn to choose words of truth, love, restraint, grace, and forgiveness, even in the face of provocation. We will get excited about the grandeur of our calling as children of God. It is amazing that God would choose us to be members of his family! It is beyond amazing that he would call us to be his ambassadors, to represent him on earth, to communicate his loving appeal to a world enslaved to self.

The war of words is only won when God rules our hearts so that we gladly and consistently speak for him. May God help us, so that this world of evil will be transformed into a world of redemptive good.
This book has been especially helpful in my life, since I have come to realize that the words that come across to my wife are actually unloving and unlike Christ. In my heart, I am often stubborn and always want to prove to her that I am right and she is wrong. I am not humble. I am not sacrificial. I want to win. I want her to lose. That's what my hard heart's desire is.

But Jesus gives me his power through the Holy Spirit within me to understand that, and to continually soften my heart. I want to please God with my talk because of what he has done for me. He replaces my heart's desire to be the best with a new desire to serve. A new desire to be an ambassador representing Christ in my life and in my marriage.

I really got a lot out of this book, especially with his Scripture references and understanding them more in context. Paul David Tripp is also very honest and funny, and reveals much sin in his life and how Jesus has changed and is sanctifying his heart too. Go check it out.

Image from amazon.com.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What A Funny World

I was listening to the radio this morning, and some dude was giving "holiday season advice" about being thankful for what we have and to not be focused on just the things that we want.

I thought to myself, hmm that sounds familiar. And then I realized that he was basically giving advice straight from the Bible. And yet, if he had tacked on a Bible verse at the end of his comments, then tons of people would be up in arms about him trying to brainwash us or something.

Anyway, I just think it's funny (and sad) how often people gladly accept general statements that are true unless a controversial tag (like the Bible) is attached to it. Humans are funny creatures.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why I Love Living in the City

I don't really know how I found this article. Often I surf the web and can't even remember how I got from point A to point B.

Anyway, I read this great Seattle PI article about my church, Mars Hill Church, and how we recently bought a nightclub in downtown Seattle (more details here). We will be renovating it and turning it into one of our newest campuses in early 2008.

The article is obviously written by a pro-religion Seattlite, which is relatively unusual for an article in the PI. I was very encouraged by reading this. I am excited about what Mars Hill is doing in this city. There are so many confused people out there, even those that are arrogant and blind to their blindness.

And then I read the comments section. Check it out. The Seattlites speak out. Just when I was being encouraged, I remembered how hated we are in the city. I realized how hated Jesus is in the city. I realized how wrong people in the city are (about some things).

But my heart went out for these people. Not in an arrogant, "I've got it all figured out and you need my help" kind of way, but in a compassionate way. I can obviously see their anger, hate, and rejection of the stereotypical "church" coming into "their" space. And I can see their need for peace.

I love living in the city because you can't ignore the people. When you have an opinion, there are always people who want to shoot it down. I love that. It forces me to think critically about what I believe. It forces me to know what I believe.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Snow!

It snowed today in Seattle! Thankfully on a Saturday instead of a weekday. I've noticed that one of the main differences between kids and adults is their opinion of snow. I always remember when I used to wish it snowed every day. Now, as an adult, it sucks when I have to drive through the snow (very dangerous in Seattle) and go to work in the snow (instead of playing in it).

As Jen and I were warm and cozy in our apartment and watching the fluffy white goodness fall outside, I was reading through the book of Luke. I love this book because he was a physician, which also translated into the way he wrote: orderly, chronological, and conclusive. I appreciate that, so I enjoy it.

The funny thing is that I stumbled upon an appropriate passage for reading in the snow: Luke 12:49-59. It actually talks about dark clouds and the weather! Hmm... coincidence?

Jesus talks about how ridiculous it is for us to hear the Gospel and not understand that we should be getting prepared for. He is preaching to them (and to us) and we should know that one day God will judge us and ask us how we used our lives to please Him. Jesus relates this to the weather by telling us:
"When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out. ...You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?"

Isn't it interesting that we see a rain cloud (or today, a snow cloud!) coming and we prepare by putting on a warm coat, scarf, pants, and boots. Likewise, we must see the signs that God has put in front of us and prepare the same way.


First picture I took of my cute wife walking in the snow, and the second picture she took from last year's storm in Seattle.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Weddings Are Overrated

After being married for a little over a month now, I think back to our wedding day and I have come to realize that weddings are overrated.

Now don't get me wrong. Weddings are certainly important. And fun. Although honestly, it's a lot more fun attending someone else's wedding than worry about all the details of your own. And yeah, it was definitely wonderful to see all of our friends and family there, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about how easy it is to anxiously await the wedding day and not prepare for the actual marriage. The wedding is just one day, but the marriage is a lifetime.

How screwed up have we gotten that we invest so much time, energy, and money into one single day and not even think about all the days after? It's so easy for us to be excited about one day, one moment, one second... but then it disappears so quickly.

For all you science nerds out there, it's like the Doppler Effect: You just got engaged. You can see the wedding day in the distance. The day is approaching. You begin to plan, organize, and prepare. The pressure builds. The day is coming closer. 11 months. Pressure builds. It's getting louder. 6 months away. All of the plans are falling into place, but you get busier with preparations. 1 month away. It gets louder and louder. Pressure builds. 2 weeks away. Then it's right there in front of you! It's tomorrow! The bachelor party! The rehearsal dinner! Then, the wedding! Then... WHOOSH!!!!!! ...the wedding is behind you. It's quiet. It has passed. Whew.

Now it's normal life again. Now we have the whole rest of our lives to live. The wedding went by so quick.

It would have been so easy to just focus on the wedding during our engagement, but Jen and I made sure to focus on our relationship first and foremost. We used our engagement as a time to learn and grow about each other. A kind of "trial and error" with our communication and interaction. Because of that, we have been well-prepared for not just the wedding day, but for our marriage.

Sure, the wedding day is a celebration of the uniting of two people committed to each other. But my wedding already seems like a dream to me. It doesn't even seem like it happened because it went by so fast. I'm just glad that we didn't just prepare for that one day, but that we prepared for every day after as well.

Related post: First Thoughts From Married Life

Image from wikimedia.

She's Got It Right

"I dream of a world where at least in the Church we are building bridges between our differences rather than walls...and I think the world would take notice, too."

I don't know who this lady is, but she's got it right. I totally agree with her post, which I found on bob.blog. I don't necessarily have to believe every single little detail that she believes, and I am certainly not going to try and change her mind and make her agree with every single little detail that I believe.

The important thing is that she loves Jesus and is solid on the beliefs that really do matter for salvation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Blog Sucks

My blog has given me a big head. I say things in here that I feel strongly about and believe as being true. But after writing so many truths, I think that everything that I think is truth too. After awhile I think I know everything. I think everybody else is wrong except me.

But I don't know everything. I don't have everything figured out. I have to remember that I sin (pride) just like everybody else, and I need God's gift of grace just like everybody else.

We were at community group last night and it was very encouraging. It was encouraging to hear that other people are going through struggles just like we do. Everybody goes through struggles. Some struggles are huge in comparison to others, but we all have them. Community is so great because we get to identify with others, share what's on our mind to friends that we can trust, and grow together in that relationship.

Before I was in a close community group with others, I was just alone. Sure, I went to church on Sundays and saw a friend or two. Sure, I had my roommate I could talk to if I was ever feeling crappy. But that wasn't true community. More often than not, I would feel lonely. I would feel so disconnected to people that I would get bitter.

However, I knew what I needed to do. I knew what God wanted me to do. It took a lot of courage, but I finally stepped up and joined my first community group through my church. It was awkward at first, but all relationships take time to adjust and deepen. Thankfully, I met a great group of friends to get to know, talk with, and share time with.

Presently, Jen and I have transitioned into a great group of just newlyweds. We have been sharing our experiences, troubles, and joys as couples. That's always important in community: a common interest. It's tough to relate to people that you don't have anything in common with. We've been getting along wonderfully and have all really clicked with each other. It's been awesome.

And here I go again on my blog... thinking that I know everything and I have a big head because I think I do everything right. But the truth is that I keep screwing up. I keep making mistakes along the way. Pride is me being blind to my own blindness. I can only give credit to Jesus for saving me from my blindness. And the Holy Spirit for revealing it to me and guiding me in the right direction (towards the narrow path).

I guess I'll keep blogging, but I want to blog about my joys and my pains as I try and please God with my life. If my blog is a true reflection of my discoveries and reveries, then I should certainly provide a true image of both the good and the bad that I experience in my life.

After all, I like to tell people that I'm an open book. Well, here I go...

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Do Non-Christians See?

Lately I've been understanding that most non-Christians care more about Christians' actions than anything else.

A Christian's actions represent their beliefs. A Christian's actions represent their view of Jesus.

And I'm talking about actions that are seen and unseen.

Are we ever really going to step up to the plate and actually have faith in what God tells us?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Earth's Tilt

I have been thinking about our planet's rotation today.

The sunlight has been shining through the slats in my window blinds this morning. The shadows from the slats create a striped pattern across my computer screen, desk, and wall. This didn't happen in the summer because the sun was so much higher in the sky.

But was the sun really "higher in the sky?" No. It's so fascinating how we often associate with things relative to ourselves. We think of ourselves as the center of the universe while everything moves around us. We think that the sun is actually moving in the sky. We think of how the sun is actually higher in the summer and lower in the winter. That's just the way it is in the Northern Hemisphere, right?

So often I forget about the fact that the earth is rotating around the sun. The sun isn't moving. We swing around this big ball of heat and light once every Earth-year, but all we think about is, "wow... the days are longer... the days are shorter... the sun is high in the sky... the sun is low today... bla bla"

I find a much better appreciation for the things around me when I understand what is happening from a bigger perspective. For example, today, I am amazed by the fact that the sunshine is streaming through the slats in my blinds. Not just because the sun is "lower" than days in the past, but because I know that I am a tiny speck on a huge rock floating in space around a huge star somewhere in a gigantic universe. And thanks to scientists and their discoveries, I can visualize it in my mind. So cool.

How much more would we appreciate life if we see it from a bigger perspective?

Diagram from howstuffworks.com

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bonds Indicted

Three months after Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron's career home run record, and after a 4-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes, Bonds was indicted of perjury and obstruction of justice on Thursday. The charge is for telling a federal grand jury that he didn't knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs.

I also heard on the radio this morning that he faces 30 years in prison! For just lying about it! This is a much harsher penalty that if he would just have told the truth (Assuming that he did lie, of course. Court date is Dec. 7th).

This goes to show that lying to cover up sin is much worse that just repenting and asking for forgiveness in the first place.

Photo from si.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Being Thankful: Rich and Poor

In our Sunday school class, we have been teaching the kids (grades 2-5) about thankfulness. "What are we thankful for?" "What does it mean to be thankful?" "What is most important in our lives?" One past Sunday we mixed things up a bit by showing them a VeggieTales video called Madame Blueberry. The story is about a lady who keeps trying to buy lots of stuff to make her happy, but it doesn't help.

I also recently read a blog post of a guy who is a friend of a friend of mine. He noted the correlation between religion and poverty, and atheism and wealth. After looking at the link he provided, it showed that the R-square in the analysis is 0.4855, which really isn't a very strong correlation anyway. But still, I'm sure we all remember from our statistics class that correlation doesn't imply causation. It's a fascinating link nonetheless, and one can draw many connections from it.

Both the video and the blog post got me pondering about our thankfulness for the stuff that we have. Since every good thing in our lives has been given to us by God (James 1:17), why are some Christians more "blessed" than others? Why are some Christians very wealthy, yet some barely scraping by?

God's view of blessings are completely different from society's view of what blessings are. Jesus wants us to be focused on eternity (Mark 8:35-36, Luke 18:22). When we think about eternity in regards to what God wants us to do during this short time that we are on Earth, then the blessings that society elevates become less important to us.

As we watched VeggieTales at church with the kids, I realized that it is very important to have a thankful heart for whatever I receive in my life. Simple analogy: somebody who receives an expensive Nintendo Wii video game system for their birthday can be just as thankful as somebody who receives a cheap little pad of paper. According to society, one gift would be considered awesome and one would be relatively crappy. But God wants our hearts to be just as thankful, no matter the gift.

We really don't deserve any gifts anyway. What we really deserve is death (Romans 6:23) for rebelling against God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully, Jesus died in our place (1 Peter 2:24). God let Jesus die as a sacrifice for our sinful lives (John 3:16-17). That's pretty sweet because it gives me perspective to be much more thankful for what God puts in my life.

What things in our lives do we think of as crappy, but when focusing on eternity they can actually be something worth thanking God for?

Chart from washingtonmonthly.com
Images from here and here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

First Thoughts From Married Life

Many have been asking me how our marriage has been going so far. Well, I am pleased to say that it has been just as we expected! So far it has been wonderful and thankfully, no surprises! Our honeymoon was a much-needed, relaxing break and we had a blast (even though I was initially skeptical). Since we've been back, we are still busy transforming my bachelor pad into a cozy home. After a little over 3 weeks of adjusting to living with each other, we are already excited about the rest of our lives and growing old with one another.

Of course it hasn't been perfect thus far. We have had a couple of fights already, but we used our engagement as a great time to learn how to repent, forgive, and grow with one another. Now, since we've had so much practice with that, being married is so much more fun because the sin and difficulties can be dealt with easier. We can now focus more on the fun that we have been waiting for: living together, sex, and not having to say "goodbye" at night.

Married life is great. We both love it. However, this joy hasn't come without a price. Self-control, patience, humility, and forgiveness all have played big parts in our relationship way before the wedding day. Without those, we would have been in for a big surprise after the wedding day. If we hadn't confronted our frustrations and sins to each other, then every day of our marriage would be hell.

A true marriage is not built on each other. I'm not saying that we shouldn't trust, love, and respect each other...those are certainly necessary for a healthy marriage. What I am saying is that no matter how much Jen loves me, she is going to fail me. She's not perfect. And no matter how much I love Jen, I'm going to fail her. I'm not perfect. We will fail each other.

A true marriage is built on Jesus Christ. He is perfect and will never fail us. By focusing our marriage on Him, then we don't have to worry about our spouse failing us. At times when we fail each other, our marriage stays strong because our foundation is in someone who will never let us down. That's how marriage was designed. And with the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Jen and I can grow and become closer together as we lean not on each other, but lean on Christ.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Solace Arts Photography: Wedding Pics

My good friends were able to shoot our wedding for us! Emily Allen and her husband Kolby recently established a company called Solace Arts Photography. They agreed to fly up from California to shoot our wedding for us a few weeks ago. Photography is a new passion of Emily's and we were so thankful they could be with us to shoot and celebrate! I know them from SPU, but now they live in Los Angeles with their cute little girl. If anybody is in that area in need of exceptional photography work, please look her up.

The weather on our wedding day started out pretty gloomy, but thankfully the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds in the afternoon... just as we started shooting. It was beautiful outside! We were married at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center at Discovery Park in Seattle. Emily and Kolby were a great team as they led us around the area. There are some great views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains in that spot. The photographic creativity definitely shows through the photos here and also in the rest of the collection in the gallery on their website.

They also gave me permission to put their slide show on here, which is cutely synced with music we had in our wedding! They did a wonderful job with it:




If you want to check out the rest of the photos:
  1. Go to orders.solacearts.com
  2. Create an account (they won't spam you)
  3. Enter the access code: 102007
  4. Continue to the gallery and check out the pics!
UPDATE: This album is no longer available for viewing.

You can save your favorites, purchase photos or albums, and invite family or friends to view them too! Emily told me they will be updating their website in early 2008, so keep your eye out for that.

Thanks again for all your great work, Em and Kolby! These will be great memories for a long time.

Check out the Solace Arts Photography Blog too!

All photos from solacearts.com

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last Thoughts From Single Life

I'm getting married. Single life will be a thing of the past. So, naturally, I'm thinking a lot about it.

I've had to give up a lot of stuff.

I have a PEZ dispenser collection that I have been working on for the past 10 years or so. Most people who know me know that I have over 400 of them. That's why we'll have a little fun at the wedding and put the bride and groom on the top of the cake. However, since I've been engaged, my collection has pretty much piddled out of my mind.

This happens in life. When certain things in life are more important, you give up other things that are less important.

My whole single life, I've never had to think about someone like I have been learning to think about Jen. I have never had to think about my responsibilities. As a single person, I only thought about the specific, minor, and relatively unimportant responsibilities in my life.

Not until recently have I realized my ultimate responsibility. My ultimate responsibility is to be a servant. A slave to Jesus. My short little life is going by quickly. Single life is gone, and married life is beginning. Pretty soon, married life will be gone and death will be nearing.

I have to get this in my head every single day. I have to start giving up things in my life. I have to start giving up sin in my life. What is sin? Sin is my pride, my selfishness. Anything that gets in the way of pleasing God is sin. And I still do it all the time.

As I'm finishing up my singleness and starting my married life with a wonderful woman, I have to make lots of decisions. Every day, every minute I have to decide what my life will represent. Right now, I want my life to represent love, honesty, forgiveness, sacrifice, and joy. I can do something about it, too. With the power of Jesus transforming my mind and my heart, I can decide to turn my back to sin.

My responsibility to Jen is a serious thing. I only have one life and I need to do it right.

Jennifer, I commit my life to you, to be your husband, to serve you, to protect you, and to give you my love. I accept the responsibility given to me by Christ, to love you as He loves the church, with the humility and strength He supplies. I will love you, listen to you, and adore you when times are good and even when times are difficult. I promise to always seek God in our relationship and to strive to be the leader He wants me to be in our family. I love you Jen and I praise God for leading me to you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Non-Christian "Living Biblically"

I don't know very many agnostics who know the Bible well, but in this case, this guy really knows it well. Or does he? Can an agnostic learn something by doing his best to "live biblically?"

Author A.J. Jacobs just recently published his new book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. He carried around a list of 700 rules he read out of the Bible, and for a whole year, did his best to obey them. He admits that he didn't do that great of a job by saying, "I was able to cut down on my coveting maybe 40 percent, but I was still a coveter. Flat-screen TVs...a better cell phone...not to mention coveting my neighbor's wife." Other obscure rules included not cutting his hair, wearing white, not cursing, and stoning adulterers.

Of course, he missed one rule that Jesus instructed in Matthew 18:8, "If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire." Hmm... I seriously doubt that rule was on his list.

What Jacobs (along with many non-Christians and Christians too) fails to see is that the Bible is not just a rulebook. It is God's word to us. Just like when we talk to each other. Sometimes we summarize, sometimes we are specific. Sometimes we are very literal, sometimes figurative. Sometimes using similes, sometimes metaphors. Sometimes we are angry, and sometimes we are gentle. God speaks to us through the Bible in the same ways.

This is kind of a funny experiment that Jacobs does and I'd definitely be interested to read his reflections on it. However, he completely misses the main point that Jesus highlights in Mark 12 about what it means to live biblically. Jesus said that the most important command that He gives us is to love God more than anything else. And that means that if you obey all the rules in the Bible except that one, then it's all pretty much worthless. So sad.

Image from the article.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? (Part 3)

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

Two loves of my life: my wife and baseball. Which love is of greater importance? Baseball was my idol growing up, but what is my idol now? Baseball? No. My wife? No. God is my idol. I want to please him with all of my behaviors, words, and thoughts.

Since Jesus is my idol, He gives me instruction on how I should prioritize the rest of my life. The obvious answer to my dilemma is to turn off baseball and focus on my wife. God wants husbands to love their wives sacrificially. Like a servant. A servant to his wife, like Jesus was a servant to the church.

It certainly seems very obvious for me to turn off the tv on my wedding night, but why do so many men get it wrong later in their marriage? Why do so many men focus on sports or hobbies more than their wives?

Because men are selfish, sinful, and act as though they themselves are God. They focus on their own desires and needs instead of the needs of their wives. They are not being servants to their wives as Jesus was to the church. They are being BAD examples.

Is it wrong to watch baseball? No. Is it wrong to be interested in stuff other than your wife? No. Is it wrong to make baseball a higher priority than the woman God entrusted you with for the rest of your life? Yes. Clearly.

God calls a husband to fulfill his duty to his wife. In my case, that certainly means no baseball on our wedding night. Fulfilling my duty to my wife in this situation would be to not even mention baseball to her that night. However, I might have another dilemma. What if the Indians make it to the World Series? The first Series game is right in the middle of our honeymoon! Oh no! Does this mean that I can't watch it? Not necessarily...

I have talked with her about this and it's very difficult to come to agreement on "what if this happens" or "what if that happens." But I have to remember that my duty to her, and ultimately to God, is that I make sure that she feels like she is more important to me than anything else. I don't think she'll mind if I watch the World Series in our hotel room on our honeymoon. As long as she feels loved and not a lower priority than the baseball game.

I am beginning a new life with my almost new wife. I am totally pumped because even in just the relatively short time that I have been engaged to her, I already love her more than the day I proposed. But in order for my love to keep growing for her and our relationship to grow to represent Jesus' relationship with the church, I have to think about the future.

In the future, life will be different. Every other day won't be like our wedding day. Every other day won't be like our honeymoon. Every other day won't be picture perfect. I am hoping that every time that something comes up in my life to distract me from my lovely wife, that I will set it aside and make sure that she is my greatest priority under Christ. That's what pleases the Lord. And He is my idol.

Game 1 of the 2007 ALDS begins in a few hours for the Indians and Yankees. Now I know where my priorities are. Now I can comfortably cheer for my beloved team, knowing full well that it is nothing compared to the love for my wife.

GO TRIBE!!!

Photo from here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

My fiancee and I have been moving some of her stuff into my apartment recently. Since we are just weeks away from the wedding and finally living together, we wanted to do our best not to overlap the "moving day" stresses with the "wedding day" stresses. As we were organizing and unpacking this past weekend, it was one box of items that really seemed to transform my bachelor pad into what now feels like a cozy home: her candles.

So as I'm sitting here with these lovely scented aromas all around me, I am instinctively imagining our wedding night ... we make the getaway from the reception, drive through the Seattle night to the hotel, take the elevator up to our room, unlock the door, I carry her over to the bed, and then turn on ESPN.

What?!

Well it just so happens that we scheduled our wedding day in the middle of the American League Championship Series! According to the schedule, if the Indians make it through the Division Series to play either the Red Sox or Angels in the Championship Series, then I could possibly carry my new wife into the hotel room and finish watching Game 6!

Now this is a relatively serious worry for me. This baseball team has been my idol for the majority of my young life, but Jen has been the love of my life for the past year and a half. Looking at it on paper, it seems like a tough decision:
  • Love for Jen: 1.5 years
  • Love for Cleveland Indians baseball: 24 years
  • Percentage of the rest of my life to be with Jen: 100%
  • Percentage of years Indians have won AL pennant: 4.7% (5 out of 106 years)
  • Joy/gratification of having sex: I don't know yet
  • Joy/gratification of my team winning World Series: I don't know yet
What's one night of sex, really? I mean, we'll have the rest of our lives together! Is it so hard to wait till the game is over or after I check the score? We have waited to have sex for almost 11 months of engagement, so what's wrong with waiting until after the ESPN highlights?

Tough choice. Sex or baseball? What's it gonna be?

My decision will be officially documented in my last section, Part 3.

Photo is from the recent Indians/Mariners series here in Seattle! Woohoo!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? (Part 1)

I've been a Cleveland Indians fanatic pretty much all my life. My mom grew up in the Cleveland area and brainwashed me as I grew up in the MLB-lacking Portland, Oregon.

I loved baseball growing up. So much that it was my idol. I played little league for eight years until high school, when I picked up a tennis racket because I was too small to play on the high school team. But even though I was often the smallest guy on my team, crouching so low at the plate that my strike zone disappeared, I lived vicariously through the Indians.

It was the perfect time to become a fan because they just started getting hot in the mid-90s with Carlos Baerga, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, and Kenny Lofton all making it to the World Series only to see their dreams wash away at the hands of Atlanta and Florida in 1995 and 1997, respectively.

In my senior year of high school, God helped me realize the fact that I put idols before Him and that I thought more about the Tribe than I did Jesus' sacrifice for me. So as I pursued a new life focused on Jesus into college, I spent a little less time focusing on major league baseball (although I had still considered myself one of the biggest fans in the Pacific Northwest).

I kept cheering for them through the rough rebuilding years in the early 2000s, and finally... 2007. They are back into the post season. This past Sunday they clinched the American League Central Division, something they haven't done for 6 years, and the Indians will be pushing toward a World Series title for the first time since 1948... almost 60 years!

And I have to say that this is a really great team too. The Indians organization has really brought together a wonderful bunch of guys. They work hard, have great team chemistry, have fun playing the game, and they rarely have bad attitudes. This is a World Series quality team if I have ever seen one, because these guys represent the best things about the game.

What does this have to do with sex, you ask? Well, continue to Part 2 and find out!

Photo from cleveland.com/tribe

Thursday, September 20, 2007

T-Minus 30 Days...

In my life, God usually teaches me things in chunks. You know... lots of little lessons within a period of time. Lately He has been teaching me about cooperation and working with others in relationship. Specifically, I have seen the most improvement in my relationship with Jen.

As we are 30 days away from the wedding, I am feeling extremely positive about where we are now. It is NOT because we've completely figured each other out, finally understand everything, and now are the perfect couple. It's because we're learning how to cooperate.

When we first got into our relationship, we both knew that we had a lot in common:
  • A love for Jesus and community
  • A love for kids
  • A love for biology and sociology
  • A love for reading and learning
  • A love for organization and cleanliness
  • A love for long talks on long walks
You'd think that it would be easy to cooperate with someone who is just like yourself! Unfortunately there was something else we had in common. Stubborn hearts. I always wanted to be right and she always wanted to be right. That sure doesn't work out well in a deep, intimate relationship, let me tell you.

Even when times are hard, with lots of arguing and disagreeing, we know it is God's plan for us to work through it. He gives us troubles in our lives so that we can grow and learn from them.

Sure, a few times in the past I doubted whether or not Jen was the right woman for me. When that happened, I turned my thoughts back to Jesus and the fact that He wants me to think about how I can glorify Him the best. Including in my relationship with Jen. Would marrying Jen glorify Jesus more than not marrying her? Yes. Oh, okay. It's that simple. Sweet.

But I remember that every relationship has struggles. Often, making a choice that I think glorifies God the best is actually harder than the other option. There is a purpose for our marriage relationship: His glorification. Jesus will be the glue that holds us together because we certainly can't hold ourselves together.

Right now, we're doing wonderfully! Our arguments are few and far between lately. The Holy Spirit is within our hearts, teaching us the right things to say and convicting us of the wrong things. Jen has been learning more ways to show me respect and I have been learning more ways to show her my love for her. I have to admit... this whole respect/love thing is a great idea. We've been working hard at it, and it works. God sure was thinkin' when He took out that rib.

Jesus has got a good thing going here. He transforms our hard hearts into soft, cooperative ones. Knowing that we have grown this much in our relatively short engagement, I am so pumped to see how Christ will join us together, for the rest of our lives, for His glory, as one flesh.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What If You Shared A Body With Your Sibling?

I watched a show on The Learning Channel about two sisters who happen to be conjoined twins. The show, Joined for Life: Abby and Brittany Turn 16, was a special program that showed us how two twin sisters share not only their body but their lives with each other.

The program showed these two life-loving teenagers doing things that most sisters do. It showed them going to school, teasing with friends, playing softball, driving a car (they just got their licenses), riding their bike, and many other things. They understandably want their privacy, but they agreed to do this program as an update of how they were doing and to show the world that even though this is very unusual, they lead a relatively normal life.

According to Abby and Brittany's article in Wikipedia, internally, most of their shared organs are below their waist line. However, they have 2 hearts, 2 spinal cords, 3.5 lungs, 2 stomachs, and 3 kidneys. This is likely the reason that they are able to function so well physiologically.

Abby and Brittany have control over their respective halves of their limbs (arm and leg) and each cannot feel the opposite half of their body. So everything they do, they must cooperate together in order to complete tasks. It's comparative to you controlling only your left arm and leg, and your sibling controlling only your right arm and leg.

This sounds pretty challenging. Especially when learning how to drive a car: one controls the gas, break, shifter and radio, one controls the blinker and lights, and they both steer. Wow, now that's teamwork! It took them some practice, but they figured it out.
Even though I am amazingly fascinated with the ability that conjoined twins can function biologically, I am more fascinated with how they cooperate. Can you imagine sharing a body with your sibling? How many times did you fight or disagree with your brother or sister?

Sometimes I amaze myself at how uncooperative I am. I mean, come on... I get the ability to control my own body! I don't have to share it with my sibling, so that means that I should have an advantage in being able to share my space, my time, my attention, etc. But no, I often think about how my body belongs to me and how I can get others to do what I want them to.

How much more cooperative would I be if I always remembered that my body doesn't belong to me. It belongs to God. God has given me my body and especially since the Holy Spirit dwells within my body, I'm sharing it with Him! How much more cooperative would I be with my fiancee, my family, my friends, my co-workers, and/or even with complete strangers when I have the mindset that I am sharing my body with Jesus?

These two girls are a great example of cooperation in a selfish world that doesn't know how.

Photos from here, here, and here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Movie Review: Rescue Dawn

Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale as Dieter
Steve Zahn as Duane
Directed by Werner Herzog


Several weeks ago, Jen and I went on a lovely date. We had a delightful dinner at P.F. Chang's downtown, and then went to... a war movie.

Jen loves war movies. Even more than me. However, this is not your average war movie. It's about an Air Force pilot who survives a plane crash in enemy territory right before the Vietnam War. It didn't even make it up to the top ten in the box office numbers, despite it's great reviews.

It's a true story about Dieter Dengler and his capture as a prisoner of war. The cool thing about this movie is that it's not really a war movie. I'd label it more as "A Day in the Life of a P.O.W.-Drama Psycho-Social War Movie."

There was very little violence. The majority of the movie was how Dieter socialized with the other P.O.W.'s in the little camp in the middle of the jungle. Many of the other prisoners have been there for years and have given up escape. Dieter doesn't accept this attitude and eventually figures out a way they can all escape.

What fascinated me was that once they finally got out, they scattered. Only Deiter and his good friend Duane stuck together. One of the prisoners was all alone in the jungle and you could tell that he wasn't going to make it. He was certainly going to go crazy without the normal routine with his fellow captives.

Why didn't they stay together? If they worked together in order to break out of prison, they certainly should have worked together to find their way out of the jungle. God created us to be social beings and to work together in relationship with others. Even before creation, God was together in a perfect relationship: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are designed the same way.

This movie helped me remember how important it really is to work together in relationship. We can't overcome life's obstacles by ourselves, otherwise we'd go crazy.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Image from rottentomatoes.com

Friday, September 7, 2007

Huge Spider Web

Last week I read an article about a huge spider web in northern Texas. It covers about 200 yards of trees, bushes, and ground along a trail. The spider experts in the article say that the web "may have been constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together..."

I found it interesting that some spiders actually work together to better their community.

How much more impactful would Christians be if we worked together instead of being critical and divisive?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Through A Tunnel: Hold Your Breath!

Jen and I decided to go hiking this weekend since we have been doing lots of wedding planning and not enough exercise. So we hopped on I-90 East, and came upon a tunnel that digs right under the hill on the embankment of Lake Washington.

"Remember to hold your breath while we are in the tunnel!" I said eagerly as we approached the dark entrance. Other people do this too, right? I know lots of people that hold their breath through tunnels, but I don't really know why we do it.

Seeing the rays of light beaming in at the end of the tube, we are both thinking, Drive faster! I can't make it! Must have oxygen! When we finally reached the bright light and the edge of the lake, we gasp for air loudly and I exclaim, "Wow! I almost didn't make it!"

We thought nothing of that little experience at the time. We continued on our trip to Rattlesnake Lake, hiking up to Rattlesnake Ledge. It's a pretty steep hike for 2 miles uphill, and if you haven't been exercising like us, then you'll probably have to take a few breaks on the way up to enjoy the scenery. We got to the top, enjoyed the view, and made our way back down to the beautiful little lake.

But the point of this post is on our drive back. When we crossed the floating bridge on I-90, preparing ourselves to hold our breath under the tunnel again, we were ready for another long time without oxygen.

We both took a deep breath, entered the dark hillside... and then we came out the other side! "What the... that was so much easier than this morning!" I was surprised to say to my fiancee. She agreed and we concluded that it was likely the good hike expanding our lungs that allowed us to hold our breath through the tunnel with ease this second time around.

Just a little exercise helped us with something we found difficult earlier. What other parts of our lives would be much easier if we just exercised ourselves? How much easier would it be to have faith in Jesus if we exercised ourselves by investing our time into what is really important?



Satellite image courtesy Google Maps

Friday, August 31, 2007

Alternate Ending: The Prince of Egypt

Pastor James taught about Moses last Sunday, so we decided to watch The Prince of Egypt this week!

This is one of Jen's favorite movies and it was the first time that I've seen it all the way through. They stayed relatively true to the Biblical story, but it was the ending that I found humorous (oh, and also the characters' huge noses).

Most people know the story: God's people were oppressed by Pharaoh, and God used Moses to present God's power, leading all of them into freedom across the Red Sea. God's awesome miracles were on display throughout the whole movie, and His people were awestruck. And then the movie ends by showing Moses at the top of the mountain holding the ten commandment tablets triumphantly. Roll credits.

Great ending! God saves the day and everyone should worship Him and now His people are free and should be giving their lives to please Him! Right?

What happens if there was one more scene at the end of the movie? A sad story... Moses would come down the mountain and see them all worshiping some stupid golden calf statue. Why didn't they include that scene in the movie? Why did they leave that tid bit of information out?

I guess that's not the typical Hollywood ending that everyone loves to watch on the big screen, but it's the sad truth in real life. I mean, honestly. How great is God and how dumb are we?

Image from rottentomatoes.com

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tip of the Day

When you're walking ON WATER out to Jesus, who is also walking ON WATER (by the way, you also just recently saw him heal paralytics, cast out demons, and feed five thousand), then don't be frightened of some wind.

Matthew 14:22-36

Friday, August 24, 2007

Two Types of Christians

This morning I realized that there are two types of Christians in this world.
  • Type 1 wants to read the Bible, but doesn't read it because he/she doesn't really want to.
  • Type 2 wants to read the Bible, and actually reads it because he/she actually wants to!
After growing up in a Christian home and committing my life to Christ when I was 17, I think that I've finally made it to Type 2. Isn't that ridiculous?!

I finally am at the point where I can say that I enjoy reading the Bible every day... 7 years after I've committed myself to what it says in the Bible. How can I call myself a Christian if I don't read what God has written to me?

Then the disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind and if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." --Matthew 15:12-14 (NASB)

Image taken from here

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Creator's Creation's Creations

My last two weekends, one spent in Oregon's wilderness and one spent in Oregon's largest city, were both filled with God's creative beauty.

My first weekend, I went backpacking with my dad in the Mt. Hood National Forest near Zigzag, Oregon. The second weekend, I finally was able to go to downtown Portland with my mom and ride the Portland Aerial Tram! All last year I was watching the construction on a webcam and getting excited for such a new and unique form of transportation for the city.

It is alway easy to see the beauty that God has created by going out into the wilderness. It is refreshing and helps keep perspective on my life. However, it is not often that I marvel in the beauty that I see in the city, day after day.

God created us in His image. Because of that, we are creative and innovative with what we create. The city is full of creative works by the hand of man. If it weren't for God breathing life into us and using His creativity to form us, making us in His image, then our world would surely be dull.

Extraordinary, creative designs clearly reflect an extraordinary, creative God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pensive Pics: Introspective to Innovative

My last two weekends in Oregon: Peaceful and Progressive.


Salmon River Trail


Salmon River. Zigzag, OR


Climbing Marquam Hill


My descent to the South Waterfront OHSU campus

Monday, August 13, 2007

Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum
Directed by Paul Greengrass

Jason Bourne's last adventure to find out the truth behind his violent past. So cool. We saw this with my family when we came down to Portland this past weekend.

It was a sweet movie. Lots of action and great character development. There was a great line at the end of the film, too. Bourne asked another assassin, "Do you even know why you're supposed to kill me?"

I've thought about this question many times since experiencing the greatness that is Jason Bourne, but I have changed it in order to fit my own circumstances: Are you really supposed to ___?

Am I really supposed to use a harsh tone when conversing with my fiancee?
Am I really supposed to be surfing the internet at work?
Am I really supposed to spend my money instead of save it?
Am I really supposed to waste my free time instead of read my Bible?

One thing that I learned from Jason Bourne is to question what I think I'm supposed to be doing. What am I really supposed to be doing with my life?

5 out of 5 stars.

Image from rottentomatoes.com

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Videoblog: No, Not Bud Light

It looks like a Bud Light commercial, but no... it's just me relaxing this past weekend in God's beautiful creation. Salmon River Trail in Zigzag, Oregon.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Barry Bonds Ties Hank Aaron's Home Run Record

We have a new home run king.

On August 4th, Barry Bonds hit his 755th career home run, tying Hank Aaron's all-time record. He will soon pass "Hammerin' Hank" and claim the top spot for Major League Baseball's most coveted record, and arguably the most popular record in all of US professional sports.

But does he deserve recognition?

Anyone who has heard of Barry Bonds knows that the big deal involves steroids. "He doesn't deserve it!" "We should put an asterisk next to his name in the record books!" "He's a cheater!" Although these statements might be arguably appropriate, I want to show you a few things that many people overlook about Bonds.

Career numbers:
  • 755 home runs (only 4 players all-time with more than 600)
  • 12.9 at bats per home run (3rd all-time)
  • 2,539 walks (all-time leader)
  • 1,426 extra base hits (2nd all-time)
  • .444 on base percentage (6th all-time)
  • 514 stolen bases (only player with both 400 HR and 400 SB)
  • .298 batting average (and a .272 average this year!)

Other accomplishments:
  • 7 MVP awards (MLB record; the next highest is 3)
  • 13 consecutive seasons hitting 30 or more home runs (MLB record)
  • 8 consecutive seasons with .600 slugging percentage or higher (MLB record)
  • 8 Gold Glove awards for NL Outfielder
  • 12 Silver Slugger awards for NL Outfielder
  • 14 All-Star appearances
If you aren't that into baseball stats and are wondering how good this guy is, let me tell you: this guy is amazing.

Sure, he may be an arrogant jerk who likely took some steroids a few years ago. But being one of the best baseball players in history, I'm not surprised at how he reacts to the mass criticism from fans and media. Oh, and guess what else? He has never failed a drug test.

Do I think that Barry Bonds deserves this recognition and fame for his achievement, even though it's likely that he took steroids? Yes. Definitely. Based on the statistics that I see above, I believe that he is one of the game's best. By far.

He is one of the most intelligent hitters in the history of the game. His swing is beautiful. When most players gain the experience needed to be more skillful in the game, their bodies start wearing down. But not Bonds'. After 22 seasons at 43 years old, his experience and his health have given him the respect that he deserves. Along with a no-doubt stroll into the Hall of Fame.

For more on Bonds versus Aaron in the eyes of their peers, check out this article.

"Barry, even before all the questions came up about him, he was a guy you'd walk intentionally." --Joe Torre

Photos from msnbc.com and mlb.com
Stats from wikipedia and mlb.com