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I have another new blog

December 28, 2007

Yes. I know, I’ve moved my blog pretty faithfully about once a year. The fact annoys me as well.

Why have I changed blogs? In all honesty, it’s cause of the name versus the URL address. My blog name was, and is still, called “the Tangent” and the URL was “mercenarysupport” which was automatically given to me by the folks at wordpress. This was an eternal annoyance to me, and so I searched and searched for an available URL that had something to do with a tangent to little avail. At long last, I settled upon a most ideal URL (in my opinion).

So now, you all may find all my thoughts, opinions, and otherwise at

http://tangentry.wordpress.com

So, dear readers, subscribers, and wanderers of the blogosphere, I hope you decide to take the time to visit this new blog, comment on it, and enjoy it.

God bless you all.

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Just for fun

December 18, 2007

When I was little, I was quite an adventurer. I can’t even begin to count how many islands I was stranded on, how many dragons I’ve slain, and how much treasure I had amassed. I was also an avid alchemist. A plastic baseball bat, when it was gripped in my hands suddenly became a magical sword or, if I held it just so, it would become a machine gun. My imagination was a very powerful weapon.

Once, I was fighting giant crabs at our beach. There was still an army of them left and none of them were going to die without a sound whack from my mighty sword. Then I noticed a shell on the beach. Instantly, I destroyed the crabs with my imagination as I explored my precious find. I picked it up and underneath it I found a great treasure. It was nothing but a clear glass marble, but, in my mind, it was a pearl. I kept this pearl with religious care and I never let my brothers and sisters play with this marble as if it were a common marble. It was far more precious to me than those.

In a few years, I lost this pearl, and though I looked and looked for it time and time again, I was never able to find my treasure.

Recently, as we were digging through Christmas ornaments to put on our tree, I was scraping the bottom of the container that we keep them in. And what did I happen to find but a clear glass marble? My heart jumped and my eyes were fixed in awe of what I had found. I picked up this piece of my past. It was like I had found my childish imagination again after having lost it so many years ago.

As we finished decorating the Christmas tree, I wondered what my next activity ought to be. I thought about playing computer games and then I sternly rebuked myself. How could I play computer games when there were so many dragons to be slain? I went over to my neighbor’s house to play with their kids. Unfortunately, they did not want to swing a plastic bat to destroy the hoards of ferocious flying lizards, but they did want to enlist my help in their epic battle with the Sith Lords. So gladly did I pick up a stick, turn it into a lightsaber, and swing frantically as the Sith Lord enticed us to the dark side. I am glad to say that Earth is no longer in danger of the Sith Lords.

I enjoy my childlike imagination, as immature as it may sound. Oh well. I know what real life is and I know how to live it. But every now and then, I just need to release my silly imagination, be a kid and play with kids again, and have another adventure with them.

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Long days

November 4, 2007

Turmoil and stress would be a heartfelt description of my weekdays. Classes, homework, tests, deadlines, bad grades, lecture, lecture, lecture, come home and prepare for another similar day. Monday through Friday, I repeat this process and my joy grows darker and darker.

Come Saturday, I had mostly forgotten why I’m still a Christian and who I’m living for. I gladly take the blessing of Saturdays, but I somehow don’t enjoy it as I should. I’m stressed and it is very obvious that I am. Yet when I’m asked how I’m doing, I find it hard to answer. I really don’t know. I haven’t had the spiritual stamina to examine that. I might think for a while about how I’m doing, and all I’d come up with is a list of things that I need to do. A good hint that I’m anxious.

It’s a good thing weekends have Sundays. Pure joy would be my heartfelt description of Sundays.

Sunday comes, and I’m very ready for some spiritual edification. Praise God I have a church home. A day ago, I was trying to remember what God is like. Now, I’m standing in the third row singing Come Thou Fount and I remember just who I’m living for and why I’m doing this for Him. I can’t say it’s a tangible thought. It may just be a feeling, but the feeling makes me want to keep going through another week and to fight for joy throughout the hardships.

After I’ve enjoyed worship and been enriched by a gospel-centered sermon, I enjoy a rare treat for me: I get to indulge in watching and playing with kids. I walk down to SPLASH where Mr. C. has the kids busily bopping beach balls all around the room. The sheer simplicity of their enjoyment is enough to bring me joy.

There’s some young boys plotting something in the corner. Their grins can’t hide from me. Maybe they plan to thoroughly spray me down with juice boxes again. Maybe they’re going to trick someone into saying something stupid. Maybe they just want to find some big guy to jump on and tackle. I keep my eye on them so I don’t miss a second of their scheme.

One of my favorite little girls says “hi” to me. I go over and talk with her and ask her about how she’s doing. For just a little while, I enjoy her small little world about her friends, horses, her favorite movies, her last birthday party, the bracelet she’s wearing and completely forget about my world. I pray a silent prayer for this girl, that God would draw her closer and closer to Him and that her little world would be wholly immersed in God.

Time to leave church and go over to some friends’ house and watch a game of football with a large group of people. I have some homework, but I can still enjoy being with the people, watch the game, and study for my astronomy test. Eventually, the passion of the crowd wins me away from my academic adventure and I heartily cheer my Redskins to a proud victory. It truly is sweet fellowship.

Finally, I return home tired and simultaneously renewed. Yes, I barely have the mental capacity to write this, yet I feel strong enough to wrestle another beastly week.

Monday, by God’s grace, I am ready for you and your host of classes, homework, tests, deadlines, bad grades, lectures, lectures, and lectures. I’ll fight through you cause I know that just on the other side of Friday is Saturday, and right after that comes that precious day when I enjoy fellowship with God’s people.

My future, likewise I’ll fight through you because I know that just on the other side there is a Sabbath that will not end by giving me up to another hard week.

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“Jesus died for the world’s sins”

August 25, 2007

So there I was, sitting in the basement of some nameless building at Hood College. I was with my orientation group which was subdivided into smaller breakout groups for this particular session. The topic for today was Harmony at Hood, which was basically a time for people to share what stereotypes and prejudices they have against certain social groups.

Orientation group leaders had early on stated that a stereotype was a generally accepted idea of what people from a social group are supposed to be like.

My group had been given the relatively neutral task of sharing what stereotypes we ascribe to Asians. We did our job, and I must say that there was not much content in there that would be objectionable content at all. So naturally I was hoping for, yet not quite expecting, the same general outcome for the social groups that I would affiliate with.

Now imagine how I cringed and braced myself when I heard that a group was designated to list the stereotypes that they have of Christians. They listed things like, proud, ignorant, immoral, hypocritical and many other things of that sort. I recounted the list of what was read, and there was not a single stereotype granting any good trait, or even a neutral trait, in it.

If this was not discouraging enough, the following conversation bit even deeper into my heart. The proctoring professor (who was the professor of sexuality at Hood btw) went on to note in a very friendly and open-minded tone of voice that, “Even though Christians are always talking up a storm about family values, the statistics show that more pregnancies resulting from out of wedlock come from the evangelical Christian circle than from any other social group.”

What could I say? Did we not earn this name for ourselves by allowing these sins to go on and allowing those who do not submit to Christ’s rule to wear Christ’s name tag? I could not say, in the proper context, that Christians did not earn such a notoriously hypocritical stereotype in the world.

Lost in my unnerved state, I stopped paying attention to think about myself. Yes, I could easily fit into those categories laid out. I am very proud. I simply don’t know enough to reconcile my faith with certain worldviews. The immorality of my heart disgusts me the more I learn about it. And my hypocrisy mocks any witness I might have. What do I have to set me apart from these stereotypes?

Amid my dreary introspection, my ears perked to a certain phrase. It wasn’t said dramatically; it was just being listed as something about Christians. It wasn’t said with conviction; I doubt the person who said it was a Christian. Yet the truth of this phrase caught me, and I listened to it.

“Jesus died for the world’s sins.”

It was a breath of fresh air in the stagnant air of the world. Finally someone spoke a truth, and the truth spoke to me.

What makes me different from any other sinner or makes my witness any more valid that any other person who claims to be a Christian? My sin is the same, so why should I pretend to be different? Because of the fact that I have been forgiven by God and am no longer under the condemnation of sin and have been given, by God’s grace, His own Holy Spirit and the power to fight sin and pursue holiness to God’s glory.

I had almost forgotten that my message was not that all Christians are good people. My message is Christ and Him crucified.

***Currently listening to the Main Thing (part 1) and The Main Thing (part 2). Yes they are for free, and yes, you must listen to them.

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At the end of the day

July 21, 2007

Even at the end of the most tedious day, somehow, I never go to bed thinking that life is unbeautiful in the least. My whole week was a drag. Getting up at unearthly hours of the morning to go to work. Not having consistent quiet times. Doing hard and dirty physical work daily. Being tired all day every day and working through it all. All this might have made me think that life is dull.

Yet for the stresses of the day, God surprises me every evening with a glimpse of His glory which I look forward to daily. How the sun gives its grand finale for the day and illuminates colors and arrangements which artists endeavor their lives to copy.

Not a single sunset is the same as the others. Some are more simple with few or no clouds and the color of the sun gives testimony to itself. Yet others (my favorites) have clouds gloriously reflecting the rusty colors of the sunset while they yet retain a haunting body of deep blue. The rays of the sun illuminate the farther away clouds and form a visual paradox of watery bodies appearing to be aflame. Such beauty inspires laymen to long for words of poetry and thus creates poets.

Sometime in the process of adoring the masterpiece being painted before my eyes, I forget about how dull my day was, and somewhere in the distance I see a beautiful future coming about through my hard-fought day. Someday, I will reap the rewards of my hardships. I hope to have a wife whom I will get to love and honor. I hope to have children whom I will get to teach in the ways of God and who will bring a simple joy to my life. I hope to give sacrificially to my family and to my church. I hope to enjoy many more sunsets and always be reminded of the future I will have with my God.

Did I say my week was dull? How clumsy of me. That is a flagrant lie. My week was not unbeautiful at all. No, life is very beautiful indeed. God has blessed me with a very beautiful life.

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An Impossible Task

July 14, 2007

As I learn more about my pride, I am amazed at how present it is in my life. It seems everything I do is saturated with my pride. It so permeates my life that I scarcely make a decision at all before I find myself entertaining my pride in my thoughts, words, and actions. It seems my pride is not so much a decision I make, but rather a paradigm to which I am disposed to think through. I need more than to learn a few lessons about pride to change. I need more than to work hard to change. My mind needs to be completely renewed.

Many of God’s tools have fallen to working for what is less than God’s glory during their lifetime because they became proud. May God help me to not waste my life indulging my pride by what I do. I want no less than to live for God’s glory alone and to do great things for Him, but God forbid that I should go about doing great things in my pride. I wonder if a puffed-up servant is worse than a servant who is too petrified of offending his master to serve. I would be hard-pressed to decide whether I would like to do much with my life for the church yet do it out of pride or simply do the smaller things that I can do and keep my heart from pride.

Yet still, my pride would not be so bad if it were not against the One who it is against. The very message of my pride devalues God. Here is the impossibility of my task. It is utterly impossible for me to properly convey with words who this is who I am sinning against. This is our God who I am offending. He is my designer and my creator. My savior and my sustainer. He is my judge and my shelter. This is hopeless; I am not even scratching the surface. Nor do I know anything beyond the surface of who God is. Yet because of what little I know of who God is I, I dare not proceed in my life worshiping anything but Him.

My purpose in writing this was to convince anyone who reads this to pray for me. Many of you who read this I have asked to pray for me in this area. I hope I made my pride out to be as terrible as it is to me, or even worse if that is possible. Honestly, my pride terrifies me. I am terrified when I see how it has infected every fiber of my being, I am terrified when I see what it could do to me, I am terrified when I see what it is to God, and I am terrified when I see that I cannot fight it.

All this would lead me to condemnation. I would be hopelessly petrified indeed if God did not give me hope. I am hopeful when I remember that God has promised to remake. I am hopeful when I remember that my contribution does nothing to alter my status before God. I am given hope when I remember what God has done to forgive my pride. I am hopeful when I remember that God is the one who fights for me.

Despite all that I have reminded myself of in the previous paragraph, do not think that I am alright. I am still sunk in my pride and I simply cannot remain here because of the God I serve. Please pray for me. Pray that I the more I sink in terror of my pride, the more I would dive into God’s grace. Also pray that God would transform my mind so that I would obsess myself only with God’s glory.

Won’t it be a glorious day when we will no longer need to fight our pride?

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Hollywood’s Orphans

July 11, 2007

How do you make kids and youth to go great things and turn into great people? Apparently according to almost every single movie geared toward younger kids, the first step to greatness is to have your parents die early on, having the youth run away from home in order to pursue his or her destiny, making the parents babbling and annoying buffoons, or to some way or another isolate them from interfering with the youth’s quest to greatness.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, all you need to do is go see enough movies or read enough books that are geared toward engaging a youthful imagination and upon further thought, I believe you will notice a distinct lack of parental involvement in the lives of the youthful protagonist. I have yet to find a movie, or book, or other form of media which portrays an adolescent as the protagonist who actively seeks and involves their parents in their exploits. (I am prepared to share a sampling of the kinds of books I am talking of.) How many stories have you seen, read, or heard in which the young protagonist are orphans, have parents but they are completely uninvolved in the plot, have parents that are portrayed as idiots, or something else that disengages from the picture of their growth to greatness? Way too many for reality, and I honestly have some trouble thinking of movie which portrays a young protagonist who does deliberately involve their parents in their growth. In my eyes, the trend of media is clearly to leave the parents out of the picture of their child’s life.

So who takes the place of the parents in the media? To a large degree, the child-protagonist does. The parents (if even present in the story) do not instruct their child; the child learns about life on their own. The parents do not give wisdom; the child looks to him or herself for answers. The parents do not guide their child; the children make decisions for themselves. Whatever advice the protagonist gets, usually comes from a peer. Either way, the role of the parent is undermined. To whatever degree, media  asserts that children ought to learn and make decisions independently of their parents.

I must admit that many of these movies and books that I have experienced have brought me much enjoyment and I would recommend them highly. However, I think it is important to realize that what is portrayed in this movies is not how reality generally is. Children do not become adults by asserting their independence from their parents. God designed parenthood to be a primary role to play into the growth of their children. Their role does not end in infancy, grade-school, nor adolescence, and honestly the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that I probably never will outgrow my need for my parents. Yet if an alien came and watched our movies and read our books, I wonder if they would think that parents are at all important to the raising of the next generation.

So what does this annoying trend of the media do? I can tell you for certain it certainly will not teach kids how to grow up. I’m not sure exactly what this does to our mentality or how it works into our psyche, but I know for certain that it’s up to no good. The youth of today are already isolated from their parents enough without the encouragement of the media. I predict that this is both contributing to and indicative of a generation which does not recognize the role of parents the way God designed it to be.

The sad truth is, we live in an age of deliberate orphans. Our youth, in their desire to be fiercely independent forsake the God-given responsibility to hold themselves accountable to their parents, and parents neglect their duty to teach, guide, and discipline their children in accordance with God’s design. Hollywood, you have got to stop encouraging this.