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    30th March 2006

    Shut down!

    The water was shut off at our house last night. I don’t think its very nice to complain about people to a sizeable web-audience, but I’m going to for six (long) sentences:

    Though we have tried to get ahold of him a number of times, we haven’t heard from our landlord John for several months – and haven’t seen him since last fall, when we waited for weeks for him to fix a leaking sink and a hole in the roof. We hear that he might have moved (maybe even to another country?), and have no real idea what his job is, but he’s trying to sell the house and every once in a while realtors come by to show the house and ask us where he might be – and of course we have no clue. We pay for electricity and he’s supposed to pay gas and water, so when the water shut down, we tried leaving messages at his workplace and on his cell-phone, which we thought was no longer in service because we haven’t gotten anything but a busy signal for a month. This morning, Jesse called the water company and found out that the bill was over $300 and then called John. Surprised to hear someone pick up the phone, Jesse explained the situation at which John swore several times and promised to work it out. Calling back an hour later, John masqueraded by saying that he had been paying the water bills for a house on the other side of the city, instead of 120 Madison SE he was paying for 120 Madison NE or something to that effect (at least I hope he was masquerading, because that would be beyond silly… and I don’t think that there is another 120 Madison in our zip anyway).

    Alright, I’m done. I’m going to the drinking fountain to fill up an old gatorade bottle and hopefully when I get home we’ll be able to flush our toilets.

    2 comments

    29th March 2006

    Thoughts on the concert and becoming a roadie…

    Last night Nicklecreek played at Calvin. The concert was amazing. Changed my life kind of amazing. It might be kind of funny and sacreligious to say that, but maybe it will prove to be true.

    And even if not, it was beautiful to see and to hear, to be there.

    Nicklecreek was excellent of course – they sound better live than on record – and even the opening act, a group called the Diddy Bops, was really quite good. I’ve never understood why people become roadies or follow bands around, but these girls playing guitar and mandolin and singing beautiful harmonies said that they’re going on tour this summer by bicycle, riding from the west coast to the east coast, and I thought, Man if I were in a different place in life I might actually try to ride along with them for a while… Maybe I still will if they go through CO and I don’t have anything else going on.

    Anyways, the concert made me think about two little things that I’m going to share with you all. The very last song that Nicklecreek played was called “Doubting Thomas” and we all pretty much knew it was the last song of the encore. After the emotional roller-coaster that a three hour concert can be, I think we all in the audience could feel a sort of collective energy, and this simple song produced a moment that could be comparable to the way I have felt sometimes after singing songs for Jesus or praying with friends. The opening words to the song speak for me and so many other Christians and not-Christians in a way in which so many specifically Christian songs don’t:

    what will be left when i’ve drawn my last breath,
    besides the folks i’ve met and the folks who know me,
    will i discover a soul cleansing love,
    or just the dirt above and below me,
    i’m a doubting thomas,
    i took a promise,
    but i don’t know what’s safe,
    oh me of little faith

    This reminded me of the great power of music and what a gift and privilege it is to be able to bring music to people. It also drove home what a great responsibility it is to be one making music in the church. How much more quickly are song lyrics memorized than bible verses or catechism questions and answers – partly because of repetition and effort, partly because the music assists memory – and how strong the emotions that music can invoke! Hey, for fun, and because I thought of this, I’ll post the little philosophy of worship statement that I have on my resume right now (this will serve twofold purpose – you all will get to see what I got and you all can help me refine what it, too):

    Worship is not just singing. Worship is our recognition of and response to who God is and what he has done, and this includes how we live everyday as well as what happens inside church buildings on Sunday mornings. However, music is a powerful medium and the bible does prescribe music during corporate worship. Congregational worship leaders are given the tremendous privilege and responsibility of giving words and music to the conversation between God and his people. In leading the Church in song it is my goal to do so in a way that is musically excellent, culturally relevant, and doctrinally orthodox. I am convinced that worship ought to be formational and transformational – one cannot truly stand in the presence of God and remain unaffected. I also feel it is vital to help other members of the community develop and use their own gifts for worship.

    Ok, here’s the setup for the other thing that the concert made me think about: After the concert I was talking with Mark Hofman and about how amazing it was, and he said, “Its amazing to think that God would create people this talented who could make music this beautiful…”

    I thought, And whether they happen to be Christians or not, this statement is true… but how much more the church would be complete if they were in it. And I remembered thinking about the body of Christ as an orchestra where you might not notice if one of the violinists were missing, and the music would still sound good without a cellist or a few cellists or all the cellists – but how much better and complete with all the instruments and maybe even a few extras! We might not notice it all the time, but we in the body of Christ should be (and indeed whether we realize it or not we are) missing those outside the body as much as those outside the body are missing the body and especially the head of the body (whether they realize it or not).

    I’m not sure what the Diddy Bops or Nicklecreek believe, but I certainly hope that if they haven’t that they come to know my savior… Which brings me conveniently back to why I’m thinking for the first time about becoming a roadie…

    2 comments

    26th March 2006

    On the way back and what happened before…

    David and I stopped and stayed the night in the Baseball Capitol or Nebraska last night. Wakefield is also notable for having chicken farms with millions and millions of chickens. We were there because I wanted to see the Simpson clan. Jason Simpson came to Craig with a T12 spinal cord injury a month an a half after I had arrived there.

    We stayed with Jason and his wife Ellie (Elle?) in their rental apartment. Jason showed us the house that he’s building on the family farm and then the whole family came over and we ate an amazing dinner (hamballs – their like meatballs but made with ham…). Besides working on building the house, Jason has been out doing all the farmwork again – which I think is pretty much amazing. This guy keeps destroying his seat cushion because he’s welding from his wheelchair and getting screws and nails stuck in it and whatnot.

    The whole Simpson family – Jason and Elle (Ellie?), Greg and Denise, Jen – were always the most intense people in the hospital whenever it was “Gameday” in wheelchair class. Wakefield was a bit out of the way for coming back to GR, but it was well worth the stay. I’m convinced at least to head back for a visit sometime after the new house is done.

    Back to Thursday: We went up to Winter Park and had dinner with my dad and his wife, Carla. It was really really good, and it was fun to stay overnight at Snow Mountain Ranch. On Friday, Dave and I went to Devil’s Thumb Ranch to do some cross-country skiing. I had arranged to go out with a guy named Jim O’Connor to get my first taste of sit-skiing, and so I convinced David that he needed to learn how to skate-ski. It was an absolutely beautiful day – sunny and in the 30’s – and we were both fast learners. At first I was going faster that Dave just using my arms, but pretty quickly he got the hang of skating and we went out and found some hills… And I need some stronger arms I think!

    We both had fun and were good and tired before driving back to Loveland so we could sleep and drive to Wakefield so we could sleep and drive to Grand Rapids. So much driving that I almost feel like I just want to get up and go to class tomorrow. But right now I just want to go to sleep.

    23rd March 2006

    Ok, maybe not…

    I wrote below that my website had been hacked, but I think, as it turns out, it was actually my mom’s computer that was causing a bunch of stuff to show up on my page. So that makes me happy, and even more thankful for the computers at school which are kept free of viruses and bugs that do such things and make using this computer such a pain.

    2 comments

    Someone hacked my site.

    I don’t know exactly how they did it or why, but as you can see there are a bunch of these little shoddy links everywhere that go to crappy sites – and I am infuriated! I’m not sure how to fix it because they don’t show up in the website software, which means it might be a program that was attached to my site that does it to all the words or something like that.

    Here in Colorado, Dave and I have been having a enjoying ourselves, except that it has been snowing almost the whole time we’ve been here. Yesterday we went up to Estes Park and today we’re going to head up towards Winter Park.

    I’ve been working on putting together a resume the last couple of days. Mostly I was using the computers at the public library, which meant that every hour or so I would get kicked off the computer and have to sign up for another one. And since I was there working on it for long periods of time, it also meant that there was a steady stream of interesting people who would sit next to me and play games or check their e-mail or do some other internet-sort-or-thing. It is nice to have your own computer (I fried my laptop two months ago by spilling chocolate milk all over it) and even the computer labs at Calvin are pretty quiet – but I suppose it was a fun change for me.

    During this time, Dave has also been quite productive (I do hate that word, but I think it works here). He filled out a number of applications for jobs, two of which have produced phone interviews to be done next week; he also applied for the graduate program at Colorado State (Dave is a chemistry guy – especially organic chemistry) and then they contacted him and arranged for him to visit, which he is doing right now!

    This spring break isn’t exactly a break for me, but its been different and interesting, and thats good.

    21st March 2006

    Welcome to Missouri!

    Dave and I were rocking along I-80 on Saturday, and we started listening to Angels and Demons on CD (we got it from David’s girlfriend, Katie Anderson – well actually from her parents – when we stayed at their house in Chicago on Friday night). We were engrossed in listening to the story and barely even noticed when we passed Des Moines. A while later, I saw from the mile markers that we were almost in Nebraska – and then I forgot about it because I got caught up in the narrative again. Fifteen minutes later, David exclaims, “Welcome to Missouri!” and I thought, “That’s funny, he must mean Nebraska…” but then I looked around and though, “Darn it.”

    So we cut across some rural highways and didn’t lose more than an hour or two, and the drive in the middle of nowhere was certainly beautiful.

    Now we are in Colorado and I’m working on making a resume and its snowing outside so Dave can’t even really go and enjoy the mountains in the way that he would be doing otherwise. Grand Rapids is supposed to be sunny this week. Life is interesting.

    We’re listening to Memories (Memoirs?) of a Geisha on the way back, so I wonder where will we end up next time? I’m hoping for Mexico – got my fingers crossed and everything.

    2 comments

    16th March 2006

    I almost forgot!

    The greatest part of last Saturday, or at least another great part, was watching the Michigan high school competitive cheerleading state championships. Tyler’s sister Abby (I hope thats how she spells it) is on the squad at Holland Christian and so we went over to the Delta Plex (a goofy looking venue in Grand Rapids) and watched them take 3rd in Division 2. I probably wouldn’t go watch a cheer meet if I didn’t know someone in it, but it was pretty darned cool. All these little high school girls screaming so loud you think that they’re going to explode, and then they do a bunch of back-tucks and throw eachother and whatnot…

    I think that I’m driving to Colorado with my housemate David Rubush over the spring break next week.

    And this week has been good but busy. So busy that I need to go now. Perhaps I will update this thing from the Centennial State in a few days.

    1 comment

    13th March 2006

    Not enough sleep and running out of words…

    I have had enough things to do during the last couple of days and will also have enough things to do in the next couple of days. The weekend was good, but now I’m tired and I have a lot of stuff to do this week. Next week is the so-called Spring Break, which everyone usually looks forward to, but this year I’m not so sure. I think over this “break” from classes I need to fill out some applications and start have some actual thoughts about what I’m going to do next year. There will also be schoolwork for me to complete during the “break”.

    But back to the weekend: We had a bit of a social gathering on Saturday night. It wasn’t huge, mostly track kids and a few other friends of theirs or ours. We decided to have a “back-to-middle-school” theme, which is kind of funny because middle school was a rather unhappy experience a lot of the time. But that age is also a really awkward age, which can be kind of fun, so we tried to bring back the old feelings by playing only music from pre-year 2000, playing games like pogs and “Girltalk” – which is essentially truth or dare with a scoring system, and having a spelling bee – a very special spelling bee which expecially brought out the middle school awkwardness. It was a challenge to create a word list that would keep people a little uncomfortable and get some laughs without crossing the line into vulgarity, but in the end the 2006 Sex-Ed Spelling Bee happened without a hitch except in that there was no winner because we ran out of words.

    There were glow-in-the-dark bracelets, fruitsnacks, and I even tried to pass a “checkbox note” (rather unsuccessfully I must note). The cops didn’t come and bust us down this time, which was good, though it is kind of funny to and fun to write about such events on this website.

    Pretty much everyone was gone around 2am and I went to go to bed, while Tyler and Dave and Jesse and Kim Webster went to play cards upstairs. I absolutely could not fall asleep. I looked at the clock, it was 3:30. I turned my light on and read for a bit and then turned it out and tried to sleep again. I looked at the clock and it was 4:15. I read for a few more minutes and then turned off the light and finally fell asleep.

    Sunday night I played guitar at the LOFT service and then had to finish writing a paper, so again I was up way too late and awake way too early so I could do some other preparations for class.

    Last week I talked to a lot of people. On any given day I talk to a number of people, but for some reason I think that last week I just ended up telling a lot of stories to different people because they asked about stuff. Right now I don’t really feel like talking anymore, which is too bad because there are a few things that I’ve been hoping to have time to write about for this site. I guess those things will have to wait until the Spring “Break”…

    1 comment

    6th March 2006

    E-fasting…

    The Christian season of Lent started last Wednesday. Lent is a forty day period preceding Easter during which Christians are called to focus on spiritual discipline and preparation for their collective future as the bride of Christ ( Lent is actually 46 or 47 days long, but Sundays aren’t counted in with Lent because Sundays are to be a day of celebration for the Church).

    Of course what we all know and see about Lent is that sometimes people will give up something that they enjoy for the forty day period – like chocolate or movies. This often leads to jokes and truths about how people use Lent as motivation to go on a diet (as in the practice of fasting from deserts), or that they gave up something that wasn’t really giving up anything (like when Matt Webster and I fasted from washing our hair).

    But this year I have talked to a number of people who are giving up something that I think is quite remarkable: The Facebook. Facebook is a server for college students to create their own small websites; My Space does the same for high schoolers or out of college people. People on Facebook or My Space get “friends” by listing them on their page and then communicate with their friends by leaving messages on their friends pages. I have known people to spend hours everyday on the Facebook. My friend Kimmy has decided to spend the time that she usually spends on Facebook cultivating spiritual disciplines in prayer and scripture reading. Thats amazing. She’s not doing something that probably isn’t that great for her or anybody, and using that time to do something that will be both good for her and the people she prays for. Awesome. (For more on internet addictions – like the e-mail addiction – and giving them up, checkout this from my brother’s business blog).

    At New Life Church in Colorado Springs last summer I heard someone talk about fasting in a really helpful way. He said that when he fasts from food he gets really really hungry and really wants to eat, and he starts thinking about all the great food that he wants to eat and that he is going to eat when he’s done fasting. But as much as he wants that food, when he fasts, what he is really saying is that he wants Jesus even more. We all love food and we all get hungry, but fasting is a way to say that we love God and are hungry for the things of God more than food or movies or washing our hair or whatever it is that we give up as an act of discipline.

    What am I giving up for Lent? I’ve joked with friends that I can’t give up any foods or fast from food because I’m so skinny these days (I lost 40 pounds in the hospital and have only put 10 back on). And then I joked that between my personal devotions and Greek New Testament class I already spend about an hour and a half reading the bible every day so I don’t need to add time to this regimen during Lent. I guess I’m not “giving up” anything as much as trying to do a few things.

    This year Lent is for me about two things: The first is discipline of my mind, my thoughts. I rarely use vulgar language, but I have been pricked in my heart recently about the amount that I do use, as this is a indicator of a large amount lurking beneath the surface. I also think way to much about some things – like girls. Now I admit to having issues with lust over females in the past, but this isn’t really my problem right now. Its more that I just really want to have a companion, a best friend, or maybe its just that I don’t get enough physical contact these days and so I just want someone to hug. And so I think about whether there are any lovely ladies that I know that could, should, or would, be my lovely lady. But I’m not really interested in anyone in particular right now, and when I ask God about it, he tells me that he will satisfy my needs for companionship, whether I ever get married or not.

    Which leads me to the second area that I desire to grow this Lenten season: In the kind of faith that trusts God for provision of things like companionship, the faith that trusts that God will provide something amazing for me to do after I graduate this spring (perhaps working through the people reading this website and responding to my request for suggestions…), the faith that knows that if I bring my gifts to Jesus and am willing to do what he asks of me he himself will provide the miracle and bless people through that service, and the faith that is willing to back up what I believe in my head with actions that do not sound at all appealing to my flesh. I suppose that is what fasting can also be about – mortification – to say, That as much as we love these things of the world, we love our God even more than these things – even more than our own lives. The Church has the testimony of martyrs who have said this very thing, but could I say it? This is the question I ask myself this season as we prepare for the day when we remember that Christ Jesus said with his actions that he loves the Father and he loves each of us much more than life on earth.

    3 comments

    3rd March 2006

    Two interesting things!

    Hey, I thought of something interesting that I did last week:

    I used my Greek knowledge.

    In a non-classroom context.

    Know, I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether it was for good or evil, but here’s the deal. I was re-reading “You’re as Healed as You are Saved”, a slim volume by John Stocker, the pastor at Resurrection Fellowship back in northern Colorado, when I noticed a clear error in his exposition of scripture near the end of the book.

    In discussing Ephesians 1:17, he says that there are three words for revelation in Greek and that the word in this verse is epiphaneia. I had been reading this passage just the day before and so I knew that the actual word was apokalupsis. Having discovered this, and even knowing that there will probably will never be a second publishing in which to incorporate this change, I decided to write an e-mail to Pastor Stocker. I wish that I had saved a copy of the e-mail to put here because it discusses the problem with his discussion of the Greek in greater depth. To put it mildly, the definitions he gave for most of the Greek words he discussed were not quite right most of the time – I should think that using them he would fail the vocab quizzes in an introductory koine Greek class. I have yet to recieve a response.

    A short aside: Perhaps you out there know a pastor who from time to time refers to some “word study” in the Greek, or what the original Greek or Hebrew word actually meant or something like this. Many of these pastors, who were trained in seminaries that hold a high view of scripture, actually know Greek and Hebrew – they could bust open the Biblia Hebraica and work their way through a passage with limited helps. However, many of them are using an array of tools, such as an Enlish language Bible with Strong’s numbers, by which you can look up individual words for their root word in the original language – or even more common now, computer software that does all the work for you (even seminaries are passing this stuff out now, to take the sting out of Greek and Hebrew for their older students who might be coming back to learn a second profession). I’m not making judgement on training for the pastorate, but I don’t think that the ability to use these tools is quite the same as command of the languages.

    The other interesting thing that I would like to note is that my brother Eric actually put something interesting on his personal blog. In it he makes speculations about the faith convictions of American Idol contestants. Make sure to read all the way to the end, or you may end up a little upset.

    I have only one major problem with it. He says, “If someone were doing an analysis of ‘which internet marketers are Christian’, my profile would likely read like one of the ones I’ve written above: looks like a Christian but his intentions for marketing seem questionable…

    Undoubtedly that should actually read, “If someone were doing an analysis of ‘which internet marketers are Christian’, my profile would likely read like one of the ones I’ve written above: looks like a Christian but his intentions for marketing seem questionable because of his cutthroat tactics and badass style…”

    4 comments

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