Thursday, December 25, 2008

For unto us a Child is born

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel has come to thee O Israel!

I hope everyone out there enjoys God's Christmas present to all of us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This is why I'm no longer an Education major

It's a Wednesday night. Not much is happening. Many students are hitting the books, studying for their upcoming final exams, writing their 20-page papers about subjects that can be written in 2.

Some students, with some kind of youth program, go to a movie theater to watch Bolt. The 20 or so high school students make their ways to the concession stands, quickly deciding what snacks they will bring with them into the movie.

Two girls decide that they want to order their treats together. "Hi, welcome to Harkins, what can I get for ya?" asks an employee, tired from standing around on a slow night.

After glancing up at the menu, one high school girl asks, "What size drinks do you have?"

Resisting the urge to inquire as to what exactly the girls were staring at on the menu, he begins to give them his spiel. "Well, we have a small for $3.50, a medium for $4.00, a large for $4.25, and our 2009 loyalty cups, which are also for $4.25. The large comes with one free refill and the loyalty cup comes with $1 refills until the end of next year."

"OOh, we'll take the loyalty cup," replies one girl.

"What's a loyalty cup?" asks her friend. Where were you when I was just explaining it? the employee thinks.

The first girl answers her friend, "You get unlimited refills."

The employee notices that the first girl left out the very important fact that the refills cost $1, but he leaves it alone, gives them their new, colorful, plastic cup of Dr Pepper. Frustrated at what little attention these girls were paying, he continues his normal concession duties of thanking the costumers, telling them to enjoy their movie, and wiping the counter.

About an hour and forty minutes later, these girls approach the concessionist again.

"Can we get a refill?" they inquire.

"Absolutely!" he responds cheerfully, more out of requirement than out of congeniality. He fills the cup up again with Dr Pepper and places it on the counter in front of his cash register. "That'll be $1."

"Wait, this costs?"

"Yes, it does."

"But they said it was free."

"No, the large comes with one free refill, the loyalty cup costs a dollar each time you refill it. Do you not have the money?"


"Sorry," he lies. He takes back the Dr Pepper, pours it out, and hands the freshly emptied cup back.

A few seconds later, another friend comes up. "They said that the refills were free."

The employee responds, "Well, either they told you wrong or you heard them wrong. Either way, a refill costs a dollar." He knew that "they" did not tell the girls that the refills were free because the "they" the girl refered to was in fact him and though the girls might have paid for a drink, he knew they did not pay any attention to what he had to say about it. The girls walk away from the theater, with less Dr Pepper inside their bodies than they would have liked.

The concessionist was reminded of why he no longer had any intention of teaching high school students.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's my motivation?

I am so unmotivated to work on a presentation that I have to give in less than 12 hours. I don't know why. It's not even that I can't focus on schoolwork; I did a great chunk of Spanish homework earlier today (which I usually forget about/ignore). I guess I got this idea in my head that I'm working and stressing myself out to get a piece of paper. But, as my thankfully wise roommate put it, there are a lot of pieces of paper that are really important. So, I guess I'll use that to motivate me to focus a little on schoolwork (which is good because I'm running out of other things to focus on).

The thing is, I really want to focus, but don't really want to focus. My desires are conflicting, as they often are. Whatever. I'm gonna get this thing done. Goodnight.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The best offense is a good offense

So, I've been thinking, and I've decided. I want to become more offensive.

I don't mean "You suck and here are the reasons why" offensive. That's neither necessary nor uplifting.

I didn't just wake up and say, "Hm, I feel like being an extreme jerk to everyone."

No, what had happened was I got to thinking, "You know, plenty of people speak there mind without care if they offend anyone, and sometimes with the intent of offending. I usually sit back and take it, complaining under my breath. Why should I be so passive? Jesus was very much the opposite of passive."

And so I thought, "Why not? Why not tell people that I think they are dead wrong rather than letting them be wrong? Why keep quiet when others are voicing their opinions loudly and proudly (and sometimes obnoxiously)? Why should I be quiet and let those I disagree with get heard?"

Now, like I said, I don't want to be a jerk. That's not my intention. I just want to tell people, "You know what, you are wrong in saying this," or "That is very un-Christlike of you." I want to answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:5). However, I do recognize that there are times when I should not answer said fool according to said folly, or else I'll become like him (Proverbs 25:4).

The lesser-known verses of I Corinthians say that if I speak in tongues or give everything away to the poor or prophecy, yet lack love, all I'm doing is making noise. That's why I don't want to say anything that isn't necessary. My heart is to throw away my character flaw of passivity. My guidelines are the verses below.

Proverbs 26:4-5
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

I Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I will not be silent anymore

I have a confession to make. I'm a conservative, and am one of about seven black people in the US who voted for McCain. Was I upset when Obama won? Slightly. Was I surprised? Not at all. Am I worried about how he'll lead the country? Far from it.

See, while I am a conservative, I am a Christian before anything and everything else. So while I'll vote and root for the person whose views are closer to mine, I won't forget that God is sovereign and that He puts the people in control that He wants in control. Romans 13:1 tells us that we are all subject to authority, because there is no authority that exists except God and those that have been instituted by Him. So, as much as I want to piss and moan that it was the liberal candidate that won, as much as I want to throw around words whose sole purpose is to make people feel guilty, as much as I want to use "terrorist" or "socialist" or any other "ist" that other conservatives throw around like a rubber ball, I still will look to the Word of God and say, "Not my will but Your will be done."

I usually try not to be divisive or offensive, but I can't be silent anymore.

To you who make jokes about assassination. To you who call our country's president-elect a terrorist, socialist, babykiller. To you who refuse to stand behind a man that you disagree with because of those aforementioned terms.

I want to remind you that God is in control. While you're not coming out and denying it outright, what you have said is evidence enough of what it is you truly believe. And I can tell you right now, God's will is better than yours. It may not seam so, but He knows better than you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

AZ Driver's License Test

So, I've never taken the driving test, so I don't know exactly what the questions and answers are, but I've compiled some questions based on what I've seen from AZ drivers. It's probably illegal to post questions and answers to a test, but oh well. I want to see them take me in.

Correct answers are given in bold

1. When turning right out of a parking lot, you should look in which direction(s)?
a. Left and right, to make sure you are not hitting any cars or pedestrians.
b. Left only. Any pedestrian or biker who might be coming from my right shouldn't be on the sidewalk that I will inevitably have to drive over to get to the road in the first place.

2. When turning, what is an appropriate way to signal?
a. With your blinker
b. Using hand signals
c. Signal? The other drivers should just know that I'm gonna turn.

3. When you have the green light, but there is no room for your car to go, you should:
a. Not attempt to go. You'll be sitting in the intersection and blocking everybody.
b. Go ahead. You have the green light, you should go. You should also honk at someone who deems sitting in the middle of the intersection a risk he's not willing to take.

4. Where do bikers belong?
a. In the bike lane. That's why it's called a bike lane.
b. On the road when there is no bike lane.
c. I don't care, as long as they're nowhere near me. I'll honk at them, tell them to drive on the sidewalk. It's not like you can get a ticket for that or anything.

5. Cell phones should be...
a. used as little as possible while driving.
b. used only in case of an emergency.
c. in your hand at all times. Chat it up. Text all the time. There's no need to watch the road. That's everyone else's responsibility.

6. When you are in a rush, what should you do to make sure you get where you need to be on time?
a. Speed. Those speed limits are too slow anyway.
b. Hurry out of a parking lot. It takes too much time to pay attention to any oncoming pedestrians/bikers/cars.
c. Occupy multiple lanes at once. This keeps others away from you.
d. Take advantage of others pulling over because of fire or ambulance sirens. Those people are such suckers.
e. All of the above.

7.ESSAY QUESTION: Write about why you hate J-Ra and want him to die.

I haven't figured out a rubric for the essay question, but I'm pretty sure that this is how the test goes. If you've taken the test, please tell me about the accuracy/inaccuracy of this test.

P.S. I saw a car driving north on Mill the other day. There was a red light, but a green turn arrow to head west on Broadway. The car that was driving north got into the turn lane, and instead of turning, drives into the intersection and gets back into the lane that he was in and continues north on Mill. This is why Arizona drivers suck.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Spare the Spoil. Rod the Child

I'm at a point in my life where people are asking me the same question, the one question to which I do not know the answer: "what are you doing after you graduate?" Believe me, if I knew, I'd answer. I think I'd tell people out of sheer excitement that I actually know what it is I'm doing. But, alas, God doesn't work on Jason's time, so I'm still waiting for Him to reveal what it is He wants me to do.

About a year ago, I would have told you that I was either going into full-time ministry with the Navigators or teaching. Now, I'm not too sure about either. I've found that that's what happens when you make plans and exclude God in your planning. I've been turned off to both now. I'm just not sure if ministry is where God wants me and I'm absolutely sure that the classroom is not where I want to be.

On Wednesday, I took the bus to the movie theater. I got on across the street from Tempe High School, around 3pm. I hadn't been on a bus with so many high school kids since high school. It was terrible. They were loud, obnoxious, self-centered. One girl saw my little cigars and asked to buy one from me, and I said no. She then asked if they were already rolled, which is a stupid question, because that's how they come when you buy them. She then asked what it was, and that's when I realized that she didn't want tobacco. I was happy to get off that bus.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I was catching a bus in front of Tempe High, where the basketball team was having a car wash. These fools (which is exactly what they were) would walk into the street with there signs, talking to people in their cars, almost trying to guilt them into getting their cars washed. It's a really fantastic way to get hit by a moving vehicle for a potential $5. One kid goes up to a car and says, "Hey, sexy mama." I was very close to giving that kid a lesson in respect. However, I wanted my lesson to be something to the effect of beating the hell out of him, so I decided to just sit at the bus stop instead.

Being around high school kids makes me wish it was once again socially acceptable to rod--erm, discipline--other people's kids. They have no respect for authority, or for anyone at all. I don't think the whole "Spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality is working. We need to go back to biblical times, and take what Solomon said in Proverbs 13:24 to heart:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Lord takes away, but the Lord gives

Last night, I was given a lesson about perspective. I worked at Harkins Theatre. I was scheduled to be an usher (theater cleaner) from 4pm to 12:30am (which almost never means 12:30, especially on a Saturday night). Some time during my time as an usher, I bent down to pick something up, resulting in a nice new rip in my nice used pants. So, I was walking around with my broom and butler (dustpan thing) strategically placed in front of me, and I was told by a team leader that I would be spending the rest of the night at door. As an usher, I would have been moving around, cleaning theaters, and interacting with my co-workers. At door, I stood in one place, took tickets, and interacted with the general public. I don't like working door.

Anywho, my legs were hurting for standing in one place for so long. I didn't even sit down on my break because I biked over to Target to get an energy drink. I was super tired standing there. I was hoping that I would actually get off at 12:30, so I could catch the last bus home instead of biking. But on door, I had to stay until 20 minutes after the last movie started (the last movie started at 12:50). I clocked out at around 1:15, went to get my bike, and noticed that my back tire was flat. I walked to the "convenience" store in Tempe Marketplace, and put my 75 cents in to get air (which is just criminal) to fill up my tire. I tried to fill up the tire, but the nozzle thing to put air in kind of came off, so my tire was un-inflatable. I parked it outside of PetsMart and proceeded to walk home (which, according to Mapquest, was a 3.59 mile walk).

As I was walking, I could have grumbled and complained to God, asking why all this had to happen. But instead, I thanked God that I brought my knee brace, because that walk would have been hell without it. And I thanked God that I brought flip-flops to change into, which I never do. Without those, my feet would have died. And I thanked God that my legs weren't tired anymore from standing still for several hours.

I was reminded of Job. Not that my life is or ever has been as bad as Job's was, because it's no where near. But after Job lost all his family, livestock, house, money, he didn't respond by asking God what the big deal was. He didn't say, "The Lord has taken away." He remembered that what he had came from God and that God had the right to take it all away. And he said, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." If I had been focusing on the fact that I didn't have a bike or vehicle and had to walk so many miles, then I would have been angry, asking God why He couldn't deflate my tire after I got home. But instead of focusing on what God had taken away, I focused on what God had given me. And I wasn't even thinking about how much I didn't enjoy work. It is awesome to recognize just how enjoyable God can be if we recognize that He is our provider, and not some bully taking away our lunch money and giving us wedgies.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Milk? Meat? A diaper?

Warning: This post is kinda gross. You might not want to read this if you gross-out easily.

So, I've known for quite some time that ASU doesn't have the smartest students. My first hint: peer editing in English 102. One of my classmates, bless his heart, introduced his paper arguing for euthanasia with, "There are plenty of retarded of laws." It was then that I realized that my school will accept anyone with an income.

Another tell-tale sign that ASU kids aren't the brightest tools in the crayon box: toilets. I don't often go into the women's restrooms, so I can't say how they do, but I know that ASU men do not know how to properly use a toilet. When I lived on campus, a constant ritual would be to entire a bathroom stall with 2 paper towels, one wet, one dry. I had to do this to ensure that I wasn't sitting on the "present" left by the last person. I wanted to post a fake syllabus for the fake class, Not Pissing on the Toilet Seat 101. Week 1, lift seat. Week 2, aim. Week 3, final.

And it's not just in the dorms. I just moved from the Computing Commons to Hayden Library, because I had to use the restroom and, lo and behold,... well, I'm sure you can guess why.

I don't understand how people who graduated from high school don't know how to use the bathroom properly. If you've been out of diapers for at least 15 years, you'd think you'd learn some things.

I thought about drawing some spiritual analogy to Christians forgetting the basics of Christianity. And, while it seems I just did, I'm not going to go any farther than putting a link to the verse. Although, if the author of Hebrews had used a diaper-toilet illustration instead of a milk-meat illustration, I think it would have worked out fine.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

High Steaks Sports

There's a commercial for some auto glass company that goes something like this:
Kids playing baseball
Kid hits baseball
Baseball hits windshield
Kids run
One kids comments, "Looks like mom is gonna get another box of Omaha steaks."
The commercial then shows the family getting a box of said steaks, because you get a free box every time you hire them to replace a windshield. This commercial implies that the kids have done this at least once before, and neither the kids nor the parents said, "Hm, you know how the windshield got broken last time? Maybe the kids should play somewhere else where there aren't any cars." Instead, the thought process is, in the voice of Homer Simpson, "Mm, steaks. *drool*"

I came home from school or work or something the other day, and I see cardboard in my window. As lovely as plain brown cardboard is, I didn't think that my roommates did it for decoration. Turns out the kids who are always playing soccer out in the too-small-and-too-close-to-apartments-to-logically-play-any-sports grassy area kicked their ball into our apartment via our window. Now, of course, when you break someone's window, your automatic response is to run away. The kids here, however, are smart and came back because we had their ball, and they wanted it back. So we know who did it (which wouldn't have been too hard to figure out because it's always the same kids playing anyway).

A couple weeks ago, those same kids with that same soccer ball hit our porch light, destroying our bulb, which we were too lazy or cheap to replace. There seems to be a trend here.

So, I go to a Bible discussion group yesterday, and on my way there, I see them playing again. I come home later and hear that they would have broken our porch light, had they not done it already. That's three times we've been the victim of kids playing soccer. Why are their parents not saying, "Hey, you know how you keep breaking other people's things when you play the same sport in the same place? Maybe you should go to the park right down the street. Or, you know, read a book or something that won't leave those fine gentlemen of The Underground walking on glass"? I think I know why: parents don't give a flying crap about what their kids do, as long as the kids aren't in their hair.

Now I'm not one to generalize. I believe that the only generalization that is true is that all generalizations are untrue. I know that there are good parents out there. And their kids aren't the ones getting attention because they're not the ones breaking windows. Why raise your kids when TV and the great outsides can, right? Why teach them not to destroy things, as long as they're not destroying your things? I just think too many people have too many kids and don't know how to raise them.

Either that, or they really like Omaha steaks.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You couldn't even pay me to see it...

So, I work at a movie theater and get to see movies for free. Since the beginning of July, I have seen The Dark Knight (4 times, and counting); parts of The Mummy 3, Pineapple Express, and Mamma Mia; Hellboy 2; Wanted; Wall-E; Get Smart; Kung Fu Panda; and Tropic Thunder; all for free. Needless to say, I enjoy watching movies for free.

Now, there are some movies I'll see because I don't have to pay for them, some I would gladly pay for if I had to (well, I suppose I'd willingly pay for them, at least), and then those that I won't be seeing even if they paid me to. Though I'd be making money, I wouldn't get my time and brain cells back. There are about 6 of those movies at the top of my head. Wait, no, just thought of a 7th. Here they are, and why I won't see them.

7) The House Bunny
This one's simple. It annoys me that we're so bombarded with sex nowadays that I just refuse to watch a movie revolving around the life and education of a former Playboy bunny.

6) Postal
I've never seen a TV commercial for this. You may not have even heard of it, and if you haven't, count your blessings. It's a comedy revolving around terrorism. I'm into the whole black comedy genre (not to be confused with black people comedy), but I don't see how George W. Bush skipping with Osama Bin Laden is in any way funny or remotely appropriate. I read that the movie opens with one of the hijacked planes from the 9/11 attacks crashing into the south tower of the WTC. The reason: the terrorist, actually wanting to take a trip to the Bahamas, were taken over by the passengers, which then crashed into the tower. I don't feel like I have to explain why that's not funny.

4-5) The Day the Earth Stood Still and Babylon A.D.
Anybody who's ever heard me talk about movies knows that I have a list of actors who shouldn't be in movies. Ever. Topping that list are Keanu Reeves and Vin Diesel. Why they continue to be cast is beyond me, but 2008 brings one movie from each. If I enter a theater where those movies are showing, it'll be to clean up after the people who wasted their money.

3) Religulous
From comedian and documentary-maker, Bill Maher, who brought us such classics as... um... well, he was on Leno the other night. He even voiced his political opinions and said that Hillary supporters are threatening to vote for McCain because they're upset that a woman didn't get the Democratic nomination, and thus are sticking it to the man by crossing party lines. That makes complete sense. It can't possibly be because they just don't like Obama. But, I digress...
In this film, whose title is derived from a combination of the words "religion" and "ridiculous," Maher interviews people of various religions, and questions their beliefs. I might be less opposed to it if he didn't do it in a sarcastic, demeaning, and just downright stupid way. He likens prayer to believing in Santa Claus. Watch a trailer and you will see just how ridiculous this movie is going to be.

2) Hamlet 2
It's not that they dared mess with a Shakespeare play. It's not that Steve Coogan's American accent is as laughable as my British one is. It's not even the fact that it takes place in that dump they call Tucson that bothers me the most about this movie. It's the blatant blasphemy. I just utterly refuse to watch a movie that has a song called, "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus."I watched Selma Blair kiss a big, red demon. I watched Angelina Jolie bend bullets. I even heard Pierce Brosnana sing. But I can't bring myself to watch this blasphemous excuse for a comedy.

1) Disaster Movie
I feel almost responsible for this. I chuckled as I watched Dr. Phil admit that he was worthless and Shaq make fun of his inability to shoot free throws. But I never thought that by watching that illegally downloaded copy of Scary Movie 4 on youtube would ever come to this. Unlike the Scary Movie franchise, Disaster Movie doesn't even care to spoof the genre of movies that it gets its title from. From what I've read, the only disaster movies that it actually spoofs are Twister (and their about a decade or so too late for that one) and Cloverfield, and it's debatable if that was a disaster movie (I'd say it's more of a monster flick). Instead, it spoofs movies that just came out, none of which older than a year old. It's obvious that they didn't even care to watch some of the movies, as we saw the trailer for this disaster as we were watching Hancock. And apparently, the impersonations are so bad that they actually have to introduce each character in order for the audience to know who they are trying to impersonate. Furthermore, this is not even a parody, as their spoofs are just reenactments from other movies done by bad actors, and having a cow or comet fall from the sky onto them (seriously? how is this funny?).

Well, I'm done ranting about the general IQ drop making itself evident in the movie theater. Needless to say, if I go to watch a movie, it'll probably just be the one with the Batman again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sex is currency. She sells cars, she sells magazines

I read, on xxxchurch, about a new "reality" show coming out about one of the members of the 2 Live Crew. It's sort of a "Where are they now?" show, making someone who was sort of famous at one point in time sort of famous again. This show follows Luke Campbell as he has left the world of rap (I would advise anyone reading this NEVER to look up 2 Live Crew, who helped bring about the term "booty-shaking" and whose song titles I won't even post). What is Mr. Campbell doing now that his rap career is over? He's working in the pornography industry. And this is going to be a show, not on HBO or Showtime, but on VH-1, a station that used to show music videos.

When did it become OK to have shows that revolve around sex? It was once taboo for Lucy and Ricki to share a bed, and they were married. Nowadays, if you catch an episode of "Friends," it's pretty much a guessing game as to who's sleeping with who. It's getting so that I can hardly watch TV anymore (which isn't such a bad thing, seeing as how the quality of TV has taken a downward spiral, leaving only a handful of shoes I watch, anyway). And then there are movies. I swear, they add sex and nudity into movies just to lure people in. 300 was a great movie, but there were like 3 scenes with nudity, and they had 0 point in advancing the plot. The same with Wanted. And need I remind anyone of the shipwreck that was Titanic? And that got PG-13 rating! We've become so saturated with sex that these scenes are commonplace in TV and movies. Even commercials have started using sex in their TV spots (look up any Jack-in-the-Box or Axe commercial... on second thought, don't).

It's things like this that makes Ephesians 6 so necessary nowadays. There is a war, and we Christians need to be on our guard for this. Ephesians 5:3 says that sexual immorality should not be named among the believers (the NIV says that there shouldn't even be a hint of sexual immorality). That is an extremely high standard that God set for us, and seems impossible in a world where the phrase "sex sells" has proved true time and time again.

Lord Jesus, I pray for myself and my brothers and sisters, that we would seek you for gratification, knowing that anything that the world has to offer will only leave us wanting more. Lord, I pray that you would remind us that you are the only one who fulfills. I pray that we'd want perfection instead of the perversion of what you've created perfect. Lord, I pray for our sanctification, and that would be in the world, but not of it, living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Amen

Monday, August 4, 2008

Where'd the Time Go

Ah! School starts up again in 3 weeks! I've had 17 first days of school, and the preceding one fails to make the upcoming one easier. The only good thing about it is that it's my last first day of school. It also helps that all of my classes this upcoming semester are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'll be working at the front desk and at Harkins Theatre on my days off. I am, however looking forward to all the Nav things going on this next year, which include, but is not limited to:

Camping trip
Freshman Bible study(leading)
Upper-classman bible study (co-leading)
Men's discussion group
Mexico trip
Halloween party!
Christmas party!
AZ Schools' Nav Olympics (co-leading)
Regional conference at Pine Valley
Graduation! (not Navs-related, but it's happening)

As far as what's been happening in the last couple of weeks:

I've lost my wallet
I left my clothes in a laundromat that didn't open again
I've been working a lot at Harkins, which is a bit of a pain in the feet
I moved from the 'Plex to the Underground (f.k.a. The Jungle)
I didn't do summer school due to lack of funds
I've watched A LOT of movies, including The Dark Knight (twice), The Mummy 3, Wanted, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, and Hellboy 2. And those are only the ones I've seen since I started working.
I started reading Every Man's Battle and continued (somewhat) The Grapes of Wrath.

So, yeah, that's been me since I got back from California. I'll try to update this more often, and I swear I'll write more about what happened in California eventually.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Contemplative poem

Imagine, if you will
A scenario quite strange
If Christians were like Christ
Then how would the world change?
Would they give to those who needed
Instead of taking for their gain?
Would they try to heal the wounded
Or still try to inflict pain?
Would they have humble hearts of servants
Instead of proud hearts of kings?
Would they take up their cross daily
Or still take up the pleasures the world brings?
Would they love despite shortcomings
Knowing they have some as well?
Or would their love be conditional
Forgetting that they, too, deserve hell?

Imagine, if you will
A more peculiar scene
If Christ were like the Christians
What difference that would mean!
Would He have ignored the sick
Instead of healing the leper’s skin?
Would He have cast the first stone
Instead of forgiving every sin?
Would He have come to be served
Or still meet the needs of others?
Would He call us His slaves
Instead of friends and brothers?
Would He have ran from His captors
Rather than stumble to the Cross?
Would He still be our God
Or would all gain become loss?

The Christ left His throne
He gave up His crown
He humbled Himself
And, to earth, descended down
He molded us each
With some dirt and His breath
He purchased us each
With His death-defeating death
Yet we are not thankful
For the life He gave up
For the blood that He shed
For Him drinking that cup
He emptied Himself
So our God we can see
He made Himself nothing
And we seem to agree

Monday, July 7, 2008

Is His grace really sufficient for me?

So, my favorite verse in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Basically, Paul had a thorn in his flesh, that he prayed to Jesus three times to remove. Three times Jesus said no. I really like the ambiguity of this section of Scripture, because we're not quite sure what the "thorn" is, whether it is some sin that he continues to fall into, a physical ailment, or possibly even an actual thorn. The ambiguity makes it very easy to apply to whatever thorn we have.

Since I got back from California, my thorn has been joblessness. I'd been looking for a job for about four weeks now, and today I got 2: one with Harkins and one with TEAM Security. I was very happy after both interviews today.

But I couldn't stay happy about this thorn leaving my flesh. When Paul was in distress with this thorn, which he called a messenger from Satan, Jesus told him that His grace was enough. Paul responded by saying that he would live with the thorn, because he knew that that was when Christ was making him strong. When I was patiently, and then anxiously, waiting for Him to provide me with a job, my response was not like Paul's. My response was more like, "God, I've been praying for a job, I've filled out so many applications that I've memorized my previous employers' numbers, I've even been reading my Bible some, and I still don't have a job. What's up with that?" And I started questioning whether or not God was going to provide. I started losing faith in Him; not to the point where I was ready to say, "Screw Christianity," but I'd forgotten the words that Jesus said to Paul, that His grace should be enough for me, not to mention the countless times He's provided for me in the past. It's amazing how our times of trouble can make us forget our times of joy, and how the two are usually not the same, despite what James 1:2 says.

I love the words of the hymn, "It is Well," because the first verse says (in the J-Ra paraphrase), "When times are good and when times suck, God, you have taught me to be content with my situation." That is how I should respond to God.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spirit West Coast, cont.

So, while I was at SWC, it was more than just concerts and altar calls. When we got there, they gave us our room assignments (my roommate being the same roommate I've had since August, interestingly enough). Later, they put us in groups (all three guys from ASU were in the same group, as well as a U of A dude).

Our group, undeniable the dorkiest, decided to name ourselves SG-1, because it was civilian (or collegiate) Navs working together with military Navs, just like in Stargate (although our group was the only group that was all collegiate). And, because we were SG-1, each of us was a different member of SG-1 (if you don't know anything about Stargate: SG-1, you should probably just skip this paragraph, cuz it won't make sense). I, being the only black member of SG-1, was Teal'c. Our fearless leader, Chris, was General Hammond. David, by far the dorkiest in our group, was appropriately Dr. Daniel Jackson. Scott, the only member of SG-1 without facial hair, was Sam Carter (something which he argued against all week). And, because he was left, Bryce (the youngest member of SG-1) was Col. Jack O'Neill (the second oldest member of SG-1, next to Hammond).

So, yeah, the week before the weekend concerts started, we worked. We filled bags with dirt, put CO2 tanks on the main stage, set up lights in various tents (I have a cool wound from a rusty nail, if you wanna see it), move tents, and a lot of other stuff. There were some people who were only there for the weekend who, because they couldn't help out throughout the week, cleaned up on Friday night after the Newsboys concert. If you've never been to a Newsboys concert, or have never heard the song "Breakfast," or have never heard of the Newsboys, their most popular song is called "Breakfast." The chorus to that song is: "When the toast is burned and all the milk has turned and Cap'n Crunch is waving farewell, when the big one finds you, may this song remind you that they don't serve breakfast in hell." Well, it's become tradition for people to bring and throw Cap'n Crunch during that song. That's what the Weekenders had to clean up. On top of that, it was raining, so there was a nice Cap'n Crunch paste on the ground. I was glad I wasn't one of them.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun, playing hacky-sack and Wah on our off time, getting to know each other. The meals were top of the line. The bathrooms, on the other hand, caused small problems. They were community bathrooms, with 2 sinks, 2 toilet stalls, and 2 showers. This was no problem until the concert attenders showed up. There were two men's bathrooms and two women's, but once the campers arrived, the sign that read "Men Only" was torn down, revealing a sign that indicated that the bathroom was for women. I'm glad I saw that the sign was gone before I just walked in there. There was at least one of us Navigators who was not as fortunate. Yeah. Awkward. Anyway, the problem was remedied with a new sign that said "Don't remove this one, fool!" or something like that.

Besides the work, play, and awkwardness, we had workshops and activities. We had a talk on women and men working together in ministry, and how that should look. We discussed what the world says the Bible says about military force, and then looked at what the Bible actually says. We conversed about staying sexually pure in the X-Rated society in which we live. And we spoke about shame-based vs. guilt-based societies, and how to share the gospel in those contexts (I still don't quite understand that one). We had many other talks, like making Christ the center, and we did a LOT of Scripture memory. They wanted us to pretty much do a verse a day and that was not happening, although I memorized more than I thought I did. Two of the memory verses were Philippians 4:6-7, which I got to use while sharing the gospel the next week. I'll go into more detail in another post.

Speaking of which, another thing we did was go to the beach and share the gospel around there. That was a pretty good time, although no one that my group of three talked to was responsive. It could've been worse; we could've been told to drop Christianity, take some drugs, and find some girls, like another group was told. Needless to say some people just aren't responsive to the gospel.

Well, I'd love to go into more detail about inside jokes and racist room numbers, but this is running a bit on the long side. So, if you wanna know, just ask. And keep reading. TTFN!

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spirit West Coast

So, I was in California for the past 3 weeks, and now I'm back in Phoenix. There were a lot of things going on in the past weeks, and if anyone reading this is like me, they won't read a long post, so I'm gonna break it up.

Anyway, the first week in California was spent at the San Diego Fairgrounds in Del Mar for the Christian music festival called Spirit West Coast. The concerts were Friday through Saturday, and I (and a ton of other people) set up a bunch of stuff the week before they started. Once the concerts started, we had a looser schedule and got to see them, unless we were working the altar calls.

So, basically, the weekend schedule was "These are the altar calls you're working, these are the altar call training times, and these are the meal times." So I got to see a few concerts, like Skillet (which was, by far, my favorite), Third Day (second favorite), and Newsboys. Tobymac was at the same time as Skillet, and it wasn't a hard choice to decide which I was going to see. Thousand Foot Krutch was the same time as Third Day. That was a tougher choice, but after the Seventh Day Slumber altar call, I needed Third Day more than TFK; they're happier music, and I love Mac Powel's voice. Pillar and Newsboys was the same time, and I don't know many Pillar songs, so that was, again, easier to choose.

Anyway, for altar calls, the speaker would ask who in the audience wanted to give their life to Jesus or recommit their lives to Him, and my job was to find the people who raise their hands, give them literature, get there information, and, most importantly, talk to them about Jesus and how to come to Him. I did this for Disciple (who were really good, but I definitely needed earplugs), Dizmas (who I didn't pay as much attention to, but everyone else seemed to really enjoy), Strongman Jon Pritikin (who broke bricks with his forearms and bent bars with his mouth for kids), and Seventh Day Slumber.

Seventh Day Slumber has a unique altar call. It's well known as a very difficult one. It's often given the name "The Suicide Altar Call." The lead singer of Seventh Day Slumber, Joseph Rojas, tells of a time when he was low, and almost took his own life with cocaine. On the way to the hospital, Joseph came to Jesus, after his mother constantly telling him that he needed Him. He was 22 when this happened. Joseph shares this story to the crowd at their concert, and asks the whole crowd to back up. For this concert, the people seeking Jesus come to the front and find us. It was amazing and sad. He asked who had considered suicide within the past week. Loads of hands shot up. He asked who intended to commit suicide as soon as they got back from Spirit West Coast. Still, many hands shot up. He asked who wanted to give their pain to Jesus instead of trying to end it alone. It really got me when I saw a couple in the front raise their hands for people who wanted to end their lives, but not for people who wanted Jesus. I don't know what happened to them, but we did have people go and talk to them. There were tons of other people, though, who did want to give their lives to Christ, and it was overwhelming. One rule for altar calls was that we should avoid talking to people of the opposite sex as much as possible. This was extremely difficult, because most of those who wanted to commit suicide were female. It was so difficult finding people who weren't already being helped and prayed with and prayed for. I didn't get to actually talk to anybody, because it was such a mess. But it was still amazing seeing God working through the testimony of Joseph, convicting people of their sin and drawing them closer to Him. People would come in groups of three, one to give his life to Jesus, two to pray with him and encourage him. It was so sweet seeing the love and companionship. I would go back again, just to experience the power of God once more.

The most frustrating thing about it was that TFK was on after them, so we couldn't sit and talk with the people, like what happened in previous years when Seventh Day Slumber was the last band. There were people coming up who wanted to get saved, but were intermingled with people coming up to listen to Thousand Foot Krutch and get free merch. Nevertheless, I know God was glorified in this and will continue to be glorified.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Suicide Note

This is a poem a wrote about 7 years ago, I think. It's my favorite poem that I've ever written. It got me in a little trouble at school, and I had to see a counselor, but I can guarantee you, it was merely a creative teenager (at least I'd like to think so) writing poetry. Despite the seriousness of the content, it was not and is not any indication of how I feel.

By the time you read this
It'll be too late
I had to escape this world
That I grew to hate
Don't blame yourself
For not seeing a sign
The choice, the action,
The responsibility's all mine
Everything in my life
Has gone wrong since birth
I find no reason
To stay on this earth
I don't want to be here
For even one more minute
My soul will leave earth
And my body will be put in it
Death will be freedom
From this prison cell
By the time you read this
I will be in hell

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh, if life were a musical...

Tuesday was the last day of classes, and a couple of us Navigators decided we were going to have a little fun in the MU basement. Please enjoy:

If you haven't seen the movie enchanted, this is the scene when Giselle (Amy Adams) asks Robert (Patrick Dempsey) how his fiance, Nancy (Idina Menzel) knows that he loves her. She starts singing, and everybody else in the park starts singing with her.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

For those who were hurt

Below, you'll find the video of Big & Rich's song, "Holy Water." This song makes me want to cry thinking about the women out there who are getting sexually abused, and keeping silent about it. It's a really good song, but when you know someone who's gone through that, it puts a face to the music. I have two friends (that I know of) and it's almost as if I can see them hurting. It's so sad, because a lot of these women are told and believe that it's their fault, when they are the victims. A lot of times, they need someone to tell them, "I care." And that's what Big & Rich do with this song.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Resurrection of the Old

So, I used to write poetry, and I used to be pretty good at it (in my humble opinion). I loved how the words would just flow and fit together. I've decided that I'm going to try to take it back up again (and sometimes, that'll be all that my blog will consist of, I don't doubt). Here's my first entry:

The Resurrection of the Old

I am in Christ
A new creation
But the old me returns
Your fire within me
That changed me so deeply
No longer burns
I hate who I was
I hate who I am
I hate that they're the same
Will I tomorrow
Be like I was yesterday
Or will I regain the flame?
Today, I stumbled
Today, I fell
Today, I landed on my face
But You stabled me
You picked me back up
Today, I saw your grace
So though I fail
I turn back to you
For you give me my next breath
And I am in Christ
A new creation
The old me was put to death

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, April 21, 2008

From the Inside Out

At church, Justin's been going through 1 John. Yesterday, we looked at verses 15-17. It talks about the things of the world, and specifically mentions desire of the flesh, desire of the eyes, and pride in possessions. It seems like an easily--or maybe simply would be a better word--applied idea: don't love those things. The carnal desires of excess of food, drink, sex. The lustful desires and covetousness. The boasting of what we have and do. But Justin looked a little deeper than that. If you look at all three things that John lists that are of the world, they are all internal.
Desires, lust, pride all start from within. It's easy to see how they manifest themselves in our everyday lives, and condemn that, but really all that does is extinguish the fire while leaving the flame burning.

John is really repeating what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, when he talked about lust being the same as adultery and hatred being equivalent to murder. It all makes sense if you think about it. That act of adultery started somewhere; it didn't just spring up and happen. The lust was where it started. And nobody kills without first hating. The physical acts that we do are only products of the tainted heart. This has really got me thinking about how I pray. A lot of time my prayers follow the template of "Dear, Lord, help me, this person, and that person to stop giving in to this temptation," or "Jesus, help us stop sinning." While it is a good thing to flee temptation and to not sin, that's missing the point. My prayer should be, "God, change my heart and my mind to be like Yours: to hate sin, to want to see people glorify You, to love." Out of these changes will flow the deeds that we desire to do. We need to be praying for the changed heart if we want to see the changed man.

"I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds."
-Jeremiah 17:10

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stab in the Dark

So, Saturday, April 19, 2008, was the 9th annual Rotary River Rally featuring the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, aka the Cardboard Boat Race. Basically, people build boats out of cardboard, wood glue, duct tape, caulk, paint, and, in a one rare case, bricks (not part of the structure, but definitely a big part of the outcome of the race). You'd think that cardboard wouldn't make a good boat, but you'd be wrong. If you waterproof it right, it floats like a dream.

The boat we made was a catamaran, which is basically two canoes held together in the middle by some kind of center piece. It took many, MANY,
MANY man hours to complete this. I, and a couple of friends, were working on it Thursday night and finished working Friday at 9am. When I say we finished, I mean we stopped. The boat wasn't finished until that Saturday morning (we brought paint and caulk with us to the lake). It was designed and built by engineers and we all knew that it was going to stay strong.

That Thursday night/Friday morning, we made a caffeine run to good ol' Circle K at 4:30 in the morning, after having been painting for a couple of hours. There we were met by the cashier and someone we were pretty sure was high. He says, "I'm gonna take a stab in the dark. Were you guys painting?" Too tired to come back with a sarcastic remark followed by a "Here's your sign," we ignored him, bought our coffee, and left. It was good that we went. We left with caffeine (or as a friend calls it, Christian crack) and a name for the boat. Thank you, High Guy.

So, we go back on work on the Shot in the Dark, and then some of us leave. That Saturday we took her to the Lake, and waited to figure out when we'd be racing. While we waited, they made announcements, like what the awards were, including the Titanic Award, which would be awarded to the boat with the most spectacular sinking. I heard this and pointed to the boat next to us, which was made up of cardboard and duct tape; it wasn't even waterproofed. The man to whom the boat belonged promptly told me that it would float and finish the race. I didn't doubt that it'd float, but I wasn't expect it to survive very long.

So, we were racing in Heat 7, against other college boats. We and another ASU boat were exchanging the lead for a good chunk of the race. It wasn't until the second turn that things started to go wrong. I was filming and saw the boat tip, and immediately ran from where I was to get a better shot of what was happening. I go and see that the catamaran has split into two by the center piece. But the people manning the boat were troopers, and got back in, after flipping over, and paddled to the finish line.

There was a flaw in the boat that was overlooked in our sleeplessness. We would use bricks to hold pieces of cardboard together while the glue dried. We somehow forgot to take them off, and built around the bricks. This caused a heavy center piece, which proved very badly for the boat. We kissed the hope of using it again next year goodbye. Luckily, we were able to race again in the Collegiate Challenge as a canoe, which took some considerable patch work after the first failure.

As we were patching and painting, the guy who had assured me that his boat would finish came up to me and said, "You know how you thought my boat would win the Titanic Award? At least mine finished!" which was a lot kinder than laughing in my face. Basically, I got told, and I know that I deserved it.

So, anyway, we raced the canoe. Three of the original six got back into the boat, and decided that they didn't want to be that boat that flipped as soon as the race started, so they were going to paddle gently. As soon as the horn blew for the boats to take off, the boat flipped over. But we are a persistent group, and got back in, the water that got into the boat actually helping us to finish. Unfortunately, as we were taking the boat out of the water, it fell apart. All the hard work died to the lake. But it was still fun while it lasted.

Having the boat capsize twice and still finish both times assured us that we would not have a best time, but made us wish that there were a persistence award. We sat through the awards part, listening and pretty much agreeing with the prizes handed out. The Titanic award was the last to be announced, and we were too involved in resurrecting the boat to watch other boats sink. The Stab in the Dark stayed afloat both times it capsized, so we weren't expecting anything. So you imagine our joy and surprise when they announced the winner of the coveted Titanic Award to boat number 59. In hindsight, it was a perfect fit, considering that we thought the Stab in the Dark unsinkable and it split in half, just like the actual Titanic. The only thing it lacked was a love story amidst the tragedy.

So that was the life and death of the Stab in the Dark. It was great fun, minus the whole staying up for a couple of days thing. I'd definitely do it again, and encourage anybody else in the Phoenix area to participate as well.

Monday, April 14, 2008

J-Ra: An Autobiography

Well, since this is the first blog, I thought I'd start out with an introduction to me. I was born early 1986 in Phoenix, the hottest city on earth. I grew up fairly boringly, always trying to stay out of trouble, trying to "keep my nose clean" as they say. I grew up believing that I had to "be good" in order to get to heaven, a belief that many people hold today. I think people like to think about the afterlife because our current lives are so uncertain. I came to a realization about how uncertain life was on September 11, 2001, when about 3,000 people died all of a sudden, with no warning. About a month or so later, my grandmother died of cancer. We knew she had cancer, but nobody plans for that. A couple months after that was Christmas, and that's when I really started thinking. Christmas was the holiday some people use to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the year-and-a-half before this particular Christmas, I'd been hearing the gospel, which says why it was that Jesus was born, and ultimately died: to bridge the chasm between man and God caused by our sinfulness and His perfectness. Jesus was the only one who was able to reconcile man to God. That's when I gave my life to Christ.

Over six years later, here I am, trying to tell others about this Man who willingly gave His life as the penalty for what we did/do. If you're reading this, this should be important for you to consider, whether you've heard it a million and three times, are hearing it for the first time, have accepted it already, or has rejected it already. Jesus is an important figure in history. He split time. He is widely accepted as being a real person, despite a total lack of anything from His time period that makes any mention of Him, save the Bible. I've even talked to atheists who've said that, though they don't believe that a god exists, they like the teachings of Jesus (which causes a problem, that I'll probably get into in another blog). He's such a huge piece of history, that I think it's foolishness to not even look at what He said and stood for, and see what He's about. If you haven't thought about that, I would suggest that you give it some consideration.

Well, that's what I believe. A few other random things about me, that aren't very important, but interesting, are

  • I've changed my major 4 times, and am somehow graduating in 4.5 years.
  • The name J-Ra comes from a pun on my actual first name mixed with some Egyptian mythology: My name is Jason, which I once wrote as J'son. Someone saw that, and said that Ra was the Egyptian sun (son) god and so I could be called J-Ra. That's the only nickname that's ever stuck.
  • I've lived in AZ all my life and have never been to the Grand Canyon.
  • My senior year of high school, I didn't want to do a play, so I told the drama teacher that my mom was forcing me to get a job, so I could go play tennis for the team. I told my mom I wasn't going to do a play, so she forced me to get a job.
  • I found out that I was lactose intolerant when I tried the Gallon Challenge. Not a fun night.
  • I've been sunburned once in my life. I didn't understand why my skin hurt and was peeling at first.
  • I had an extended stay in a hospital a few years back. Because of that, I can't eat Jell-O.
  • When I graduate, I either want to become a teacher, or go into full-time ministry with The Navigators.
  • I'm an extrovert, but tend to be quiet in groups.
  • My head was the same size as my shoulders when I was born. Thus, the oversized head.

Galatians 2:20--I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.