Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I Read the Bible (Every Day)

I remember back when I was in high school and I was a brand new Christian, excited to read my Bible all the time. Well that didn't last long. I remember my first couple years in college when I played more video games than I did studying for class. I remember when I graduated from college with two degrees in biology and sociology. I was proud of my accomplishments, but I was still unsatisfied because I hadn't been reading God's Word consistently.

I remember when I met a girl named Jen and eventually married her. I woke up this morning next to her, remembering back many years ago when I was anticipating this married life. Now, I think forward to when we have kids, when they grow up, and when we send them off into the world to fend for themselves. Life is short and it will be gone before we realize it.

Everyone wants to be prepared before doing something important. You don't want to go sky diving without a parachute, go take a test without studying, or go to a job interview without looking presentable. Right?

Well, I wanted to go into my marriage being prepared. I want to go into fatherhood being prepared. I want to be prepared for the rest of my life. How is a Christian instructed to prepare oneself? By reading the Bible. And when I say "reading the Bible," I don't mean reading it like any other book out there. It also includes studying, praying, meditating, memorizing, and applying God's words to one's life. In my life, I am certainly still working on all of these. It will take a lifetime to master. But my lifetime already has 25 years past. That's a lot of catching up to do.

I know that God's standard for being a good husband and father is not what the culture says. God tells me to wash my wife with God's Word and to teach and train my children in the instruction of the Lord. How can I do that if I don't read my Bible? I want to be able to answer any question my wife has, or any question my kids ask me about life. If I want my wife to mature and my kids to grow up loving Jesus, reading their Bibles, and pleasing the Lord, then I must be a good example for them.

After reading very slowly for the past year and a half, I just finished the New Testament. Yep, I'm a slow reader, but it has been wonderful! I absolutely love reading this book. In Revelation, John talks a lot about how Jesus will come again like a thief: when we are not expecting him to. I don't want to have to honestly tell Jesus, "Hi Jesus. I know you were betrayed, beaten, and suffered and died for me . . . and I was trying really hard to do what you instructed me to, but I just get really tired in the morning. I really need that extra 30 minutes to sleep, so I just kept hitting the snooze." I mean, can you imagine that? Talk about pathetic.

And for my last point. I often think to myself, How can I honestly call myself a Christian if I haven't even read the whole Bible? The majority of all of my beliefs have been based on what other people tell me about the Bible. I want to be personally responsible and knowledgeable about what I believe in. I don't want to misrepresent Jesus' name. I find it very refreshing to open it up and allow God's words to go straight from Him to me.

So that's why I read it every morning. I enjoy it while I eat my breakfast. Yum. I like to eat it up. It strengthens me.

Related Post:
Two Types of Christians

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Middle-Aged Dude Touched My Privates

My privates were touched again this morning! Sheesh... I think this is becoming a regular occurrence. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you must read my previous post about it: An Old Dude Touched My Privates

If you've already read it, then it just might be worth revisiting. :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Sam Adams Should Resign

If you are uninformed about the issue regarding the newly appointed Portland mayor, Sam Adams, read this CNN article for a quick summary.

I believe that Sam Adams should resign. It has nothing to do with the fact that he is homosexual. It has nothing to do with what goes on in his private life. What it is about is how he dealt with the issue.

When he was first questioned about his relationship with then-17-year-old Beau Breedlove, he had 3 choices of how to answer the questions: 1) Tell the truth, 2) Lie, or 3) Say "That's none of your business." I would say that the best choice for him would have been to tell reporters that it was none of their business. After all, a person's sexual behavior in their private home doesn't necessarily influence how they do their job. If he wasn't having sex with a minor, then he didn't have anything to hide if a criminal investigation was launched. If he was having sex with a minor, then he broke the law and should obviously lose his job.

But he didn't just say "that's none of your business." He chose to lie. And even worse than that, he continued to lie. And even worse than that, he asked that the teenager to lie about it too.

So here are three reasons I believe he should resign:

Honesty should be at or near the top of the list of characteristics we expect from our public officials. Just think of the most important things you want in a mayor. Is it possible to leave out "honesty"? For me, that's the first thing that comes to mind. Honesty influences his integrity and his ability to represent the citizens of Portland. If we can't trust him to represent us truthfully, then we need someone else.

If we had a re-vote today I doubt he'd get elected again. As of now, The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune, and Just Out (Portland's gay publication) have all called him out to resign. Whenever people in Portland hear his name or see him on a ballot from now on, they are going to wonder if they can trust him. Would you vote for someone that you aren't sure you can trust?

A public official who repeatedly lies as well as asking others to lie should be given a consequence. If he isn't disciplined for his actions, then that's setting an example for all others in public service that you shouldn't get a consequence if you did something wrong. Adams even admitted, "I should have told the truth at the time and taken the consequences." Well that was then, and this is now. Now he made it worse and should expect greater consequences because he didn't stop his deception.

If you lied repeatedly at your workplace (even if it's something as trivial as your private life) and also asked others to lie for you so that you'd get a promotion, would you expect to keep your job? I wouldn't.

Sure, everyone lies. It's one thing if he lied once and then apologized. If he was really sorry. But he actually admitted that in a way he lied to get elected. When the leader of our city says something like that, then I just don't think his head or his heart is in the right place. We need a leader who has respect, has integrity, and brings forth good judgment.

Photo from

UPDATE: Well, Sam Adams did not resign. He's just gonna keep on working without getting a consequence. I'm not surprised, especially after reading this interesting article on lying: You’re a Liar! (But aren’t we all?)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kid Quote: What Others Think

The kindergartners usually come late to our after-school program. My co-worker usually has to go down to the other end of the school and lead them down to the cafeteria, which is where we spend most of the afternoon. Two of the boys walked in the door and came up to me, like usual, as I am the one who makes sure the kids are checked-in. They were both arguing with each other, and as one of them ran away, the other stayed to talk to me.

"He told me that I was late coming here, but I wasn't," he said, trying to prove his case to me about being right.

At first I was a bit confused about him making such a big deal out of something as trivial as his friend telling him that he was late. The first response I was thinking in my head was, So what? Who cares? But as I saw tears welling up in his eyes, I understood that this somehow hurt his feelings. As I comforted him by talking with him, I reassured him that sometimes other people say things that aren't true. "Sometimes people are wrong, but there's nothing that we can say that will change their minds," I told him. "It's usually best to just ignore them and do what we know is right."

It is amazing how much kids care about what other kids say. Most adults still haven't grown out of this. So many adults can't get through a day without caring about what other people think. Most people desperately care about getting approval from certain people in their lives. May it be trying to fit in with a specific group of people, or getting into an argument in order to prove someone else wrong, or choosing not to help a person in pain because others might see.

Thankfully, God has designed relationships in a way that we should ideally care most about getting His approval. After all, if we care most about what God thinks, then our lives would be much more beneficial to others and pleasing to Him.

Image from

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Tattoo

I recently wrote about my Poland Syndrome. In the post, I mentioned a guy who is ashamed of his deformity and decided to tattoo 98% of his body to cover his "ugliness." I see myself in a completely different way: I am thankful that God created me with Poland Syndrome. So, I decided to get a tattoo for two reasons: 1) I wanted a visual reminder of how God is in control of things that we cannot understand, such as deformities and problems in our lives, and 2) I think tattoos are cool.

God is ultimately in control of the universe. He is in control in ways that we cannot comprehend. This is what it means when it is stated that God is sovereign. A good biblical story of God's sovereignty is in the end of Genesis: the story of Joseph. Here's my quick summary:

Joseph's older brothers envied him so much that they planned to kill him. Instead, they sold him into slavery and lied to their father, telling him that a wild animal ate him. Joseph grew up as a slave and ended up using God's gift to him, dream interpreting, to aide Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph became Pharaoh's assistant, in charge of the food they saved up for the famine. Joseph's brothers end up coming to Egypt to request food, and they found Joseph alive, deciding whether or not to give them what they need to survive.
I love Joseph's response to his brothers: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives," (Gen 50:20). That is clearly a great story about forgiveness. But it is especially about God working through a really crappy situation in Joseph's life (being sold into slavery) and using it for something good (saving many lives). [For the details of the story, read Genesis 37-50. This is my favorite Bible story; I highly recommend it.]

Knowing that God is sovereign, it gives me hope when bad things happen in my life. Sure, I am deformed a little bit. But God can use that in a good way too. What ended up happening as I grew up with this deformity is that it humbled my pride. I have a big head (both figuratively and literally). Pride is the biggest sin that I struggle with. So, it makes sense that God uses my Poland Syndrome as a clear visual reminder that I see every day in the mirror. It helps me remember that I'm not perfect and I'm not as great as I think I am. Naturally, when thinking about where to put my tattoo as an additional reminder that God is sovereign, I wanted it in the same place. And as a mirror image, I can read it every morning when I look into the mirror. A constant reminder that God is in control in ways that we can't always comprehend.

Oh yeah, and I got it because I think tattoos are cool. Now, I certainly know that this in no way makes me "cool" at all. After all, I did get lightheaded after he was done tattooing me. :-)

I also gotta give props to the guys at Canyon Body Art, which is where I went. They are very professional and friendly, as well as great artists. I went there based on my friend's recommendation and I would definitely go there again.

Related Posts:
I Have Poland Syndrome

Monday, January 12, 2009

Do You Work Hard?

Stacks and stacks of paper. Reaching up to the ceiling. Blocking my view out the window. Covering the floor of my office. Threatening to fall onto my keyboard or monitor. Granted, these enormous stacks were well organized, waiting for either data entry or file storage, but I couldn't help but wince when looking at what I had to do. It was a lot of work.

When I used to live up in Seattle, I had an office job. Even though I had large stacks of paperwork to manage, I also had a computer, a desk, drawers, and my very own office (shared with only one other co-worker). While many people see these things as positives, I see the negative things associated with them. I remember laziness, procrastination, and selfishness.

I was lazy. I got to work in the morning and I would move slowly. Sitting in my chair and staring out the window would frequently occur. I procrastinated. I saw the pile of papers on my desk, but chose to ignore them. Surfing the internet while listening to music would frequently occur. I was selfish. I knew that my work would benefit others and advance our group's mission, but I didn't care. Writing on my blog instead of helping others would frequently occur.

I even got to the point where I posted this Bible verse above my monitor to motivate me to do my best: Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. -Proverbs 12:24.

Now don't get me wrong, I was a good worker. My co-workers praised me for the work I did for them. They appreciated me very much. However, I knew my limits. I knew how hard I was really working. I knew the moments I was slacking off when I should've been doing work.

I think most people slack off sometimes when their boss or supervisor isn't looking. It is reasonable logic: Why work hard if your boss isn't paying attention? You get paid the same if you do the bare-minimum as you do if you do your best.

My current job at the YMCA is a bit different. I don't have a computer to work on, and I have what seems like a million kids screaming, fighting, and running around. You'd think that it would be easier to focus and harder to procrastinate. After all, if a kid starts bleeding, I certainly couldn't just ignore the kid and expect to keep my job. But there are down-times when I might chat with someone on the phone, text message my friends, or shoot some hoops without paying attention to the little rascals.

But God sees us. He knows our every thought and our every action. We can't get away with anything with Him. If He has given us life and saved us from eternal damnation, don't you think we can save that text message until after we clock-out? Don't you think we can wait to surf the internet until after we get home?

Or better yet, maybe just don't text or go on the internet at all? Imagine what great things we could do for the advancement of the gospel if we actually worked hard and focused on the stuff that is really necessary in life?

Do you work hard?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Church Family Update

This post is mainly directed towards our friends up in Seattle, many of whom we haven't seen for almost a year since moving to Portland.

We are loving Portland and we have joined a church called Imago Dei Community. We are in the process of becoming members, since we truly love the people here and their mission for Jesus. Coming from Mars Hill Church's Ballard Campus, there are many similarities as well as differences. Overall, Christ has been easing our transition into a new community here and we are thankful for His changes now and into the future.

There are many connections between Imago Dei and Mars Hill. Most notably, Pastor Rick McKinley at Imago Dei is friends with Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill. Additionally, we have met people who know people here and there and it's just good to see the two communities overlapping. The Imago Dei atmosphere is very much like Mars Hill in that it is relatively artsy, earthy, and authentic. By authentic, I mean the people that I have talked with and have gotten to know well personally. And I certainly am not inferring that other churches lack authenticity, but just by contrasting the two churches, I find a striking harmony.

On the other hand, I have noticed many differences between the two churches. Before I continue, I just want to state that I don't think there's anything wrong with churches being different from one another. Each church is made up of its own individuals, therefore being affected and directed by the hearts of those individuals working as a group. As long as the church is pleasing Jesus by staying on mission, then the different churches can learn from each other in order to bring growth and maturity. I have found that Imago Dei and Mars Hill differ in their hearts for people, their presentation style, and their tone of attitude.

Imago Dei clearly has a heart for social justice. It is very easy to get involved with some type of volunteer group that provides help for the needy. Examples include Advent Conspiracy, p:ear, and a group I have become involved with through our home community, Operation Nightwatch. Mars Hill, on the flipside, I believe to have more of a heart for disunity in families. Pastor Mark tries hard to be counter-cultural in Seattle and talk about how the church loves kids, has strong marriages, and boasts healthy families because of Jesus' work transforming lives.

Their presentation style is vastly different. To complement Imago Dei's heart for social justice, the church rents out a high school auditorium on Sundays and, for the most part, only spends money on what it needs to get by week to week. To complement Seattle's Microsoft and, Mars Hill goes all-out with their state-of-the-art stereo system, lighting, and technology.

The tones of the attitudes of the two churches are interestingly different as well. Going along with Imago Dei's heart for justice and low-end presentation style, and Rick McKinley preaching, you'd expect a down-to-earth, humble, empathetic group of people. That's just what I see. Likewise, going along with Mars Hill's heart to be for families with a high-end presentation style, and Mark Driscoll preaching, you'd expect a large group of people who love humor, theology, and technology/musicianship. It's wonderful for drawing people to know Jesus.

Jen and I love the community in this body of believers in Portland. Our new home community group has welcomed us warmly as we are developing relationships there and growing with the group. On Sunday mornings, we began to volunteer with the kids in their services, much like how we helped in Seattle. After realizing our experience with kids, they immediately promoted us to start teaching and leading our own class. This has been a great experience. Jen is working with preschool ages and I am working with elementary ages. So, with this as well as our weekday jobs, the only days that Jen and I are without kids are Saturdays. But that's okay, because we love 'em! We learn so much from them all the time (especially patience!) and it's great to be so involved in helping to mold their lives.

Although Jen and I both miss Seattle very much, we feel very comfortable and at peace here. We know that we followed God's lead to bring us here. We identify so much with the heart of our church--for social justice. There is so much work that Christians need to do in the city of Portland that God can use us for. He has certainly placed us here in this place for a reason. Not only to be closer to the extended Riedl family and old friends, but to be of good use to God and the mission He has for us.