Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fear and Vindication

Fear is such a strange characteristic. None of us really want it. We want to be fearless, but no matter what we all experience some kind of fear. Hopefully one of those is a fear of God. A lot of the time I like to define "God fearing" as Job did and as I have referred to before in a previous post:

And he said to man,
"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away form evil is understanding."

-Job 28:28

Wisdom and understanding are good characteristics. But what about the fears that we have that are not of God, but are strictly human. I think of passages like Matthew 6:25-34. But how difficult is it to "not be anxious about your life" and "tomorrow." What life would be if we were able to take it one day at a time and truly be able to say, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

A passage from Joel, which is less popular than that of Matthew and New Testament writings, expresses the same idea in a different way. I really like how the passage addresses fear from the perspective of creation. First the land, then animals, then humanity. I particularly think it is cool how that order of events parallels the creation story in Genesis 1.

"Fear not, O land:
be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and the vine give their full yield.
Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you
abundant rain,
the early and latter rain as before.

-Joel 2: 21-23

Two years ago, on a a trip to France and Spain over Christmas break, I wrote a poem to try to relate to the concept. Thanks to Mr. Frost for the rhyme pattern.

Southern French Landscape by Jennifer Young


Near the border of France and Spain,
Passing the countryside by train.
In a field sits a broken windmill,
Below it a barren water main.

The winter winds blow hard,
Shifting the rusty gears ajar.
Early spring breezes whirl soft,
But do not spin the battered blades far.

Up in the farmhouse loft,
The faithful farmer lays his head down soft.
The restless cattle are unaware,
There will be not water in the troth.

Thinking Mother Nature would show no shame,
To the east turned the farm's old vain.
Then the heavens poured out rain.
Then the heavens poured out rain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Freedom in Thinking

Over Thanksgiving break I watched Dead Poets Society for the first time since about 9th grade. It was great! I forgot most of the plot line of the movie so it was almost as if I were watching it for the first time ever. My favorite character was Knox Overstreet, who uses his new found poetic abilities to woo a public schoolgirl. However, I cannot quit thinking about the story of Neil Perry. The young man that commits suicide after feeling his life and thinking do not deserved to be controlled by his parents. I kept thinking about the major theme of the movie and what that means in my future as I begin teaching. In my mind there is a conflict of tradition thinking and the new ways of thinking associated with the modern world. I have concluded there is a time and place for both. Nevertheless, Neil Perry's thinking was just (although his actions were tragic and wrong). Thinking should always be free. Throughout history people have been physically enslaved, but what keeps people alive is freedom of mind. We all should allow others that same freedom, especially the ones we love. I read a poem today that reminded me of this:


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
when the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that were picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than nay other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

- Seamus Heaney

All I have left to say is: carpe diem.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


People have their doubts. That is certain. Many people have doubts in their faith, the Bible, who Jesus was, and if there is such a thing as justification. In fact, because of doubt and skepticism, many people do not seek any of these things. I think that is the beauty of faith. Faith in Christ that gives us salvation removes, or at least pardons, all the human imperfection associated with doubt. I look back at the gospel and the life of Jesus and see many people that chose to follow him, and others who sat in his presence and still did not believe. Even the people that were the closest to him, like his own disciples, doubted Jesus and his motives at times. Luckily for us, Jesus was well prepared to deal with our ignorance. Despite what someone might believe about Christ, his miracles, his message, the resurrection, descent, and ascension, one thing cannot be denied. That is, we cannot ignore the way in which the followers of Christ, then and now, experience God. Today I look at the way the Holy Spirit works in my life and can identify how I experience God in a magnificent way. But what we may not realize, is that people like the disciples experienced God in the same way years before us. Proof for the authenticity of Christ can be seen in the drastic changes in the lives of the disciples. They did not just hear the great commission, but they became it. Take the story of Paul for example. A man that once persecuted Christians became one of the leaders of the commission, even after Christ was gone from this world. Then there is my favorite example in doubting Thomas:

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

-John 20:24-29

The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio

The disciples lives were radically changed through the experience of Christ and the acceptance of his message, thus changing the history of the world. Today, people are experiencing these same radical changes. I encourage you to look at your own life or someone you know, and reflect on how through the experiences of justification and sanctification, their has been radical changes. One thing is certain, in the skeptical world we live in, God is alive and at work changing the world today. Through the Bible and the founders of the Christian faith we know that this is only because of the message and opportunity provided by Christ. And to that, there is no doubt.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Last Sunday I heard a sermon that provided some insight on the way that God works in our lives. As humans, sometimes we can feel so far away from God's grace. But the reality is we have an active God, an alive God, one that became human, not one that is apart from all things human. Consider this Scripture from Daniel chapter 3 as King Nebuchadnezzar attempts to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace for not worshiping his golden idol.

"[King Nebuchadnezzar said] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in the matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

-Daniel 3:15b-18

Not only do these verses show us the extreme faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but also how God is trusted to deliver them out of the situation. I agree with the pastor of the sermon who suggested God delivers us it 3 ways:
1) From the fire,
2) Through the fire, and
3) By the fire
In this case, the 3 men were delivered by God from the fire. However, throughout life we experience deliverance in the other ways. I think of men like Job who were delivered through the fire, and still stood strong and untouched in their faith. And I think of myself being delivered by the fire sometimes, as in stupidity and in my ignorance I am unaware of the Holy Spirit's work in my life.

At the end of the day, we know that God is good. And that no matter how he delivers us it is for the good. As Job once said, despite nearly going through hell, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. " (Job 1:21)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Living the Poetic Life

A.E. Housman is considered one of the famous poets (and one of my favorites) of the 19th and 20th centuries for his works like the A Shropshire Lad. However, in his lifetime, he considered himself more of a classical scholar than a poet. Therefore, he didn't speak about his poetry publicly until the end of his life in The Name and Nature of Poetry, a lecture he gave in 3 years before he died. Despite Housman's issues, when he speaks, I listen. And when he was given the opportunity to speak of poetry after all he had written, his main argument was that poetry was intended to appeal to the emotions and not to intellect.

When I began to think about this, I started to notice the concept in his poetry, but I also began to notice it in my life. How much of my life do I try to live poetically? Or how much of my life, apart from school, do I live based off my emotions and not on intellect. This brings me back to an age old questions, and that is whether we should act more upon emotions/feelings or on intellect/reason. I can definitely say that my friends and I, in our senior year of college, have chosen the former. We stay up late every night, we have as many 'parties' as possible, we randomly go to the creek/river, we never miss an opportunity to eat together, play Mario Kart 64, have a jam session, talk about something controversial, and procrastinate on homework. Senior year is good, but just like all good things besides our salvation, it will come to an end. Maybe we should start using our heads a little more, but we're dreamers, and I'm not seeing a definitive ending to our poem anytime soon.

XLIX. Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly

THINK no more, lad; laugh, be jolly:
Why should men make haste to die?
Empty heads and tongues a-talking
Make the rough road easy walking,
And the feather pate of folly
Bears the falling sky.

Oh, ’tis jesting, dancing, drinking
Spins the heavy world around.
If young hearts were not so clever,
Oh, they would be young for ever:
Think no more; ’tis only thinking
Lays lads underground.

-A.E. Housman, from A Shropshire Lad

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scripture, Frost, and Ecology

Recently, in my studies, I am beginning to recognize the power of Scripture. That sounds kinda crazy, but isn't it unique how some passages from the Bible speak to you over and over, no matter how many times you read them? For me, one of these passages is Isaiah 6, when Isaiah sees the LORD. Chapter 6 in itself is an unbelievable story, from the imagery of God, the description of the seraphim, and Isaiah's confession, healing, and commission. I personally cannot find any other passage in the Bible that, in the same amount of detail, describes the 'almightyness' of God.

In my human life I may never get to see what Isaiah did, but I get to see it in all different kinds of ways, especially in nature. Everyday we see miracles with our own eyes, but we take them for granted. Robert Frost dedicated most of his life and writings to capturing not only the beauty, but the 'almightyness' of God in creation. I love the first stanza of the following poem, but I pray that sometimes I can keep less "promises" than the storyteller.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

In my ecology class I am taking this semester, we have been talking a good deal about how animals carry out normal biological processes under crazy conditions. One of these unbelievable animals is the rainbow trout, who truly proves the 'almightyness' of God to me. Literally the whole time I was in class as we talked about the concept, I was just thinking..."this is crazy/unbelievable/something only God could think of!" If you aren't a science person, please try to hang in there as I attempt to explain this, because I have to try.

Biology is based off of the concept that DNA is converted into protein through two processes known as transcription and translation. Proteins form 3-D structures and then come together to make enzymes. Enzymes are what fuel biological processes...basically, they take what the animal has and converts it to what the animal needs. Temperature plays a huge role in the effectiveness of enzymes, therefore each one has what scientists call an optimal temperature. Well, this poses as a problem for rainbow trout because they live out in the ocean, say near Alaska, and then travel inland and upstream to spawn into much more shallow, warmer waters. Therefore, the enzymes that they used while they were in the ocean become useless once they move into the warmer waters. To survive and reproduce they alter their biological processes to produce an isoform, or a new enzyme the has its optimal temperature that matches the warmer streams. This happens from the same DNA as alternative processes occur between transcription and translation that change the enzyme to what the trout need to survive. The craziness of it all, is that it happens automatically and the trout have done it for years to be able to travel upstream to reproduce. But why would they go through all the biological trouble? I mean, they aren't really "fit" for the warmth of the streams...and how did they learn how to do it? Only God knows...

Friday, August 27, 2010

New School Year, Same Ole' Freshman

A new school year always seems to bring the "love" to the forefront at Asbury. This year has proven to be no different... the freshman test the waters with other freshman, while the sophomores and juniors do some fishing of their own. All the hustle, excitement, and confusion that the freshman are going through reminded me of a poem. Housman may be a little more crude, but the story remains the same for the first semester newbies.

Along the Field As We Came By

Along the field as we came by
A year ago, my love and I,
The aspen over stile and stone
Was talking to itself alone.
"Oh, who are these that kiss and pass?
A country lover and his lass;
Two lovers looking to be wed;
And time shall put them both to bed,
But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love."

And sure enough beneath the tree
There walks another love with me,
And overhead the aspen heaves
Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;
And I spell nothing in their stir,
But now perhaps they speak to her,
And plain for her to understand
They talk about a time at hand
When I shall sleep with clover clad,
And she beside another lad.

-A.E. Housman

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last weekend I went kayaking with some friends to one of my favorite places in the world on the Dix River in Jessamine County. It was my second time making the trip and I really couldn't wait to get back to those cold waters that run out from the depths of Herrington Lake. The whole trip I just felt at ease with the world. Completely free. Which is why I love kayaking so much. But I started thinking about how much we get caught up in our worldly lives. Everything that we do as humans seems so major...and so conspicuous. However, I would argue that there is so much more than what meets the eye, or even the mind. I was reminded by these verses that I have been studying lately of just how small we are on this earth and how skewed our thinking is. As Switchfoot once put it, "we were meant to live for so much more..."

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you...

-Colossians 3:1-5a

I am not saying what we do in our lives is not important. We are blessed with life for a reason. However, we should make life just that, a blessing, especially to those around us. A simple life. Only that of which can be found in a kayak sometimes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Fantasy Factory

A couple of days ago I was watching a marathon of the TV show, The Fantasy Factory, with Rob Dyrdek. I thought the show was a lot of fun and found myself laughing out loud quite a bit, but I also fell in love with Rob's enthusiasm for helping others discover and reach their dreams. I'm not saying that I agree with everything that Rob does in his make believe world, but I can say that his enthusiasm made me want to go serve others. This weekend I was lucky enough to be blessed with an opportunity to do so.

Unfortunately, I heard I missed an awesome wedding this weekend. And I am very happy for my cousin Michelle and her husband Jason. Instead, I was asked to participate in a retreat with the athletes, coaches, and sports administration of Asbury University. We got to do some really cool stuff and we got to serve the local community of Monticello, Kentucky as a group. I can say that I got to hang out and interact with people that I would have never got to know if it wasn't for the trip. I am happy for the new relationships that I formed, but I am even more excited to somewhat understand what it means to put others before myself. I am not quite at the point where I can be completely unselfish, but this weekend I watched others model the characteristic. It was a relief to see, especially in the world that we live in today. The entire weekend I studied and reflected on Philippians 2:1-3.

-So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Although I am not Rob Dyrdek, I love having the opportunity to do something for someone else everyday. I hope that I can be more in tune to the guidance of Christ in my life and be of one mind and of the same love as other Christ follows. I challenge others to join me, call me, text me...let's go serve some people and become the hands of God's Fantasy Factory.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday America

Oh, what a weekend. It was great to be home and visit with friends, especially those that live far away that you don't get to see often. But maybe the best thing about this past Independence Day was not only our right to freedom, but my individual freedom from work, responsibility, and "to do" lists. It was an impossible task, but I tried my best not to think about any of those things this weekend. My sole focus was to enjoy the times spent with others and alone in resting, reading...and maybe some tv/movie watching.

This morning I started one of the books I wanted to read this summer, A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway. I'm only about 45 pages in, but I am already enjoying the character development. In my opinion, Hemingway had a gift in creating these unbelievably exciting female characters. Both Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises) and Catherine Barkley (A Farewell to Arms) are brilliant and I recommend discovering both of them if you are into literature. I mean, you don't know anything about them really, but you cannot help but love them right from the start.

The World Cup semifinals start tomorrow, but I won't be able to watch the games because of work. I wish we were like other countries and stopped everything we did for situations such as these. For the first time in my life, I think I wouldn't mind living in France. Because despite whether or not work permitted, I would just go on strike for the day...supposedly it's an accepted practice. Since the US of A is out, I'm pulling for my second favorite country in the world, Spain!

Cool fact of the day, the title of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, is linked to the verse Ecclesiastes 1:5.

-The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.

If you've read the novel, the whole first chapter of Ecclesiastes seems to tie in someway...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Aren't dreams the craziest thing? Not the ones that we have while we are sleeping, but the ones that control our life and make us do the things we do. If it weren't for dreams, I wouldn't be in college, I wouldn't play soccer, I wouldn't want to be a teacher, I wouldn't care about God's creation, and I wouldn't want to make a difference in anybody's life (along with other things). I was listening to a song by Barefoot Truth the other day called Roll If Ya Fall. The whole song was about not wanting to live anyone's dreams but your own. When I thought about it, I concluded that our culture sets its self up for us to live someone elses dream. All the sports stars, and TV shows about doctors and lawyers, people searching endlessly for love in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons, greed, lust... what are adolescents supposed to think? Money is said to be the root of all evil, with sex in a close second, but they have appeared to become the root of all dreams too. Shame on us. I prefer to do what the lyrics suggest: I'm a cut my strings free, and roll if I fall.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Job, not Job!

I was hanging out with a youth minister the other day (Richard!) and he was telling me a story about a kid in his youth group that I though I would share. He told the kid that they were going to be reading a passage from Job and asked him to please turn to the verse. The kid immediately flipped to the table of contents and started looking for the book. However, around 10 minutes passed as the youth minister got occupied with other things. He asked the kid if he had found the passage yet, and he insisted that there was no "Jobe" in the Bible. He explained that Jobe was actually Job. We laughed about it, for some reason I thought it was really funny. Anyway.

Speaking of Job, I just finished reading it after a friend told me it was one of her favorite books. To be honest, I hadn't read the whole book before. It was interesting and contained a ton of truths and speculations. I am surprised people don't study it more. A verse that I found to be intriguing was 28:28, because you can read so much in the OT that so-and-so is "God fearing." However, I can say that I always wondered what that really meant and it is interesting to get Job's opinion, considering his position.

And he said to man,
'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.'
-Job 28:28

Also, I found Elihu (ch. 32-37) to be an interesting character as he portrays suffering as a means for the righteous to be ruined in their sin so they can resist temptation in the future. God's reply to Job (ch. 38-41) afterwords was intense, but the analogies were cool to read as we see a bit of who God is. In the end I enjoyed reading Job's confession and repentance, and maybe something gone unnoticed by some, his forgiveness of his friends. I think the whole premise of the book and the way it's written is much different that anything else in the Bible. Its philosophical discussion and divine intervention of an issue that is still argued over today just proves the relevance that the OT maintains.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Work and Play

Work may be the best word to describe what I am doing this summer. Yes, I am completing a research project and learning quite a bit. However, it's long and tough. For the first time in my life I am feeling what it is like to be in the "real world." Working from 8 until 5 everyday is no fun, even if it is interesting. By the time you get home you are tired and you must really prioritize to accomplish the things you want to do. Because before you know it, it's 11:00 and time to go to bed and do it all over again. Regardless, I feel like I am making a difference. So I can live with it for this summer.

Like many of you, this summer I have set aside some books that I want to read. The first book I have chosen to read is Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Not really inspiring, but an awesome story never-the-less. I have already seen the movie, but have really wanted to read the book since being in Rome during Spring Break. I am enjoying the book for not only is plot, but for the attempt Dan Brown makes at trying to find the place were science and spirituality meet. The way that I see it, science and spirituality kinda work like modern economics; supply and demand. We can use science to understand spirituality to a point, but then there are parts that exceed our knowledge and go unexplained. Same for our understanding of science. Our spirituality makes sense with scientific theories to a point, and then there a pieces that do not make sense to humans either. However, I would argue that there is that point where they do meet and they do explain each other. That is the point I think I enjoy the most, because in a way, gaining that understanding is a way of worship.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Summer, New Beginnings, and Plants!

So summer has finally arrived... This last semester was brutal, but yet fun. 17.25 hours to be exact, and that is not counting the practicums, small groups, Asbury soccer practices, and soccer games that I coached. And just when you thought it was all over, I start a new beginning tomorrow. However, I am very excited to start this new beginning, which is my senior research project. This summer, I will be working at UK in the Department of Agriculture in something that is really interesting to me. Plants. Now, I am not going to bore you with the details, but my research will be dealing with the preservation and re-installation of native plant species in places that have been devoured by invasive species. If you were wondering, this research is important because native plants provide habitats for native animal species and populations. Therefore, if you change the plant environment, there are chances you are going to see a loss in animal populations. Also, my project will be comparing biomass, because the native grass (switchgrass) that I will be working with has alternate fuel potential. I think now, more than ever, I can appreciate the work I will be doing this summer with what is going on down in the Gulf.

As I prepare to begin tomorrow I cannot stop thinking about a message that a professor from UK gave at Asbury during a banquet a few months back. At first, most people in the crowd blew off his idea, but what he had to say seemed very relevant to me. He was speaking about conservation, and the roles that people that claim to be followers of Christ should maintain.. He sited the most famous verse in the Bible. John 3:16.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

He pointed out the first phrase in the verse, "For God so loved the world." He asked the crowd to reflect for a moment and then spoke about the word, "World." From here on I will attempt to paraphrase his ideas with mine. In Greek, the word used for world is κόσμος, which is pronounced kosmos, which is where we get our word cosmos in English. I would argue against some when I say that I truly believe that that is distinctly not just talking about humans. The verse does not say, "For God so loved humans..." but rather I think he is speaking of all of his creation. The cosmos, the world. Therefore, the speaker and I both agree that this verse alone shows God's love for everything in this world. In Genesis, God gave us dominion over this world, but not the right to abuse and exhaust it.

No, I am not a tree hugger. But I do believe that there are lots that we can do to help slow our destruction of the world. I think a lot of new technologies are moving us in the right directions to alleviate some of our major problems, but at the end of the day a lot of what is destroying our planet is unstoppable at the time. However, there are a lot of little things that we can do individually that can help.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reflections of Rome and Easter

It has been about two weeks since I arrived home from my spring break trip to Italy. The first couple of days there I wrote from Pompeii, but haven't been able to get anything on paper about Rome. Rome is a tough city to define. It is both ancient and new...and full of love. It's like Paris, except better. I can say that Rome is the most legitimate city I've ever been to. I heard a lot of hype from others that had been, and I'm happy to say that it lived up to that hype. The culture there is unique, but very friendly and inviting. The saying still stands, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When I returned to the "real world," I became very busy with school work, but I feel like I've been thinking about a lot of stuff despite being worn out. With my travels I have seen a lot of amazing things. From the Alps, volcanoes, amazing artwork, cathedrals/chapels, soccer games, and ancient artifacts. I've concluded that I am a pretty lucky guy to have seen the things I have. So even though I have been able check many things off my unfinished bucket list, I have found that it hasn't been the places I've been, but the people that I have shared the experiences with that has made all the difference.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
-Matthew 16:26

This past Easter weekend I got to spend a lot of time with people that have been such a blessing in my life. Over the past two weeks I have had a couple conversations with friends about sin. Which is a topic that I have researched and prayed about quite a bit in the last year. I am always thankful to have those conversations, because it is always good to know that people are going through the same stuff that I am. It is kinda obvious, but it is always good know that other people are human too. In church on Easter Sunday morning, the pastor of my home church in Cynthiana, Kentucky read a verse that has changed by outlook on sin entirely.

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
-Romans 6:17-18

More than anything, I think this verse brings hope and trust. Which are the blessed emotions that sin seems to crush in us humans. Knowing that through Christ, his followers are called to be a slave to something greater than ourselves changes everything, and saves us.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pompeii, Italy

The last two days I have been hanging out in Pompeii. The first thing I want to say about the ruins, is that they are much larger than I expected. As a kid I was always somewhat fascinated by the whole Mt. Vesuvius explosion and the idea of peoples' lives being frozen in their death. The actual ruins are larger than the current city of Pompeii, which is unfortunately a metropolis of the nearby Naples (a horribly dirty city, don't go visit).

Literally, the last two days all I have done is eat and walk through the uncovered ruins of old Pompeii. I have been blessed to have walked and talked to many important people involved in the excavation. I have got personal tours and been able to see artifacts that aren't available to the public. The people of Pompeii were, of course, under the rule of the Roman empire during its life before death by explosion. It is unbelievable to see the attention to detail found within the 2,000 year old city. From art (mostly frescoes, architecture, and some sculptures), the organization of the city (places of worship to multiple gods, restaurants, brothels, baths, government, everything had its place), and technologies (marble, engineering, and aqueducts). If you ever get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend it. Tomorrow I take to the the climbing of the murderer, Mt. Vesuvius, and then head to Rome to finish my brief trip to Italia. Throughout this crazy trip, which started out a mess and will hopefully end beautifully, I have been keeping one Bible verse in mind.

Hebrews 13:6
So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my Shepard; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Check my facebook soon for pictures, too many to try to choose one to post.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Learn Yourself

I was listening to one of my favorite songs by the band The Beautiful Girls in the car a couple weeks ago after church. I really love the lyrics of some verses in the song Learn Yourself. They are as follows.

"Just like the holy scripture talks, of a road to redemption in amongst the thorns. The path is beset by ego and greed, and if we don't see then we won't ever be free."

"Along the path we walk we've only got to find. Along the path we walk we've only got to find. Along the path we walk we've only got to find. Our own heart own mind, our own heart own mind Our own heart own mind, our own heart own mind."

The verse reminds me of a lot of things. The first thing that comes to mind is Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV). Along with other verses that can be found that have the same kinda idea.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

I also thought of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I'm not going to add the whole poem to the blog but I encourage you to sit down with the poem that we have all read at some point or another in our life and analyze it after reading the verses from Matthew. I feel as if the whole premise of the song, Matthew, and the poem is to find that freedom that brings us peace. But how do you find freedom with the ways of the world and the challenges and decisions in requires. I have personally tried not to think of my decisions as taking one path or another, or doing the right thing or the wrong (because that can be complicated and difficult in many cases). Instead I try to answer whether the decision I am about to make will lead me closer to God (a much simpler questions that I usually have no trouble answering)? Kinda strange to get that from song lyrics, a poem, and some Bible verses, but it shows me the importance of reflection, studying, and prayer in the grand process of 'learning yourself.'

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Love > Knowledge

I have been studying the book of Ephesians through church the past couple of weeks. Most recently, the third chapter. I noticed that this passage kinda fits well with things I have been thinking about of late:

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
-Ephesians 3:17-19

This scripture has become very valuable to me because I have been spending so much time studying lately. It just seems like my school work never ends. Always another test to study for, a reflection to write, or a lesson plan to create. This has caused a lot of stress in my life but has also been filling me up with tons of knowledge. Like I have mentioned in previous posts I feel called into the study of these things that are fascinating to me, but where do I draw the line between my studies and relationships with others. Because like it says in Ephesians, "the love of Christ surpasses knowledge." So no matter how much I learn or how much time I put into studying, all of that is really nothing compared to what I have in Christ. And what I have in Christ is useless unless I use share it with others around me. Elementary I suppose, but something I lose sight of on a frequent basis.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Duszynski on Darwin

Bacon wrote in Advancement of Learning:

"To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God's word, or in the book of God's works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress of proficience in both."

What is crazy about this quote is that it is printed in the first copies of the front pages of On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. A book that really does not need any kind of introduction, but rather a hose to put out the flames that are arising from it. You might be asking yourself why I even care. Well, I did some research on Charles for a class that I had to teach recently and it seems that Darwin and his ideas are mistaken quite often. Darwin's book On The Origin of Species explains the concept of natural selection, or the process of how living things change over time due to this process called selection. Much like artificial selection that we see all the time in the breeding of dogs and horses to select specific traits (like brown spotted coat, or a labradoodle), except it occurs naturally rather being humanly controlled.

When I realized that we might have Darwin all wrong, I began to look at his life. I found that not only was he a respected member of the Anglican church but went to divinity school for a time (regardless of the fact that his father made him). Along with these things he studied multiple other fields of science, including geology, medicine, and botany. It has also been reported that on his trips around the world he ministered to crew member on his ship... Kinda interesting. He asked his wife not to publish On The Origin of Species until after his death for the fear of being exiled by the Anglican church and ruining his respected family name.

Before I get too off topic and begin a tangent on Darwinism I want to get back to the quotation by Bacon. I believe, especially when considering my studies and in my faith, that Bacon's words best describe the way that I feel. God created this world, and everything in it. There is no doubting that. But can we ever really be too well studied in it? In fact, is not the study of it a way of worshiping God in itself? Through the study of the sciences I do not find an alternative to God, but rather the proof of his almightyness, brilliance, and hand in all things.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Me in a nut shell

So I've decided to try out this fad known as blogging. I'm going to be honest, when people first started blogging I didn't think anyone really cared that much about what anyone thought. I was wrong. Somehow (don't ask me how), I have found that I love listening to what people have to say and reading their everyday thoughts. Over the past couple of years I have grown up quite a bit and I'm excited to start my blogging journey.

I believe that I am truly interested in blogging because it opens up the doors to have conversations with others about ideas and concepts that you cannot get from the typical day to day walk, mostly in my case because I am much too busy. So in some ways, at the moment, this blog is a way to communicate with people that are not only far away, but close too. Lame I know, but sometimes priorities and callings get in the way of socializing.

Some may think my interests are very weird, but I try not to think about it too much. I love learning about theology, science, theology & science together, poetry, literature (even though I haven't read near as much as I would have liked to), ministry, faith, and some psychology. I guess others see these as unique interests because some of them are so different. I mean... science and poetry? Science and literature? I'll be the first to say that science makes some great poetry and some great literature. But I love to read poetry, and sometimes create. Recently I have been getting into song lyrics and I have found some really great stuff.

I suppose the whole gist of my attempt to blogging is to bring to the surface things that I think about and analyze. Because I do that a lot. I'm a very busy person, but I spend most of my time alone in that busyness and in reflection. So sometimes I will share something amazing that happened in life, but most of the time I will be writing with a purpose or, I guess you could say, something to share.

Today I want to share this excerpt from a writing by Archbishop Oscar Romero, which is actually something I read on a local ministers blog today.

“The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

I love this excerpt because of its honesty. I think that as people of the church, people that are followers of Jesus Christ, get so caught up in our own holiness that we begin to wander in the other direction. But if we choose to look at ourselves honestly, and see that we are human, it is then that we realize that it is not ourselves that accomplishes works, in this case of the church, but God through our hands. So for me, I analyze this and play devil's advocate with myself and say, then what is the point of even seeking holiness, and is it possible to find on this Earth. I would argue that this is answered by the end of Oscar Romero's statement. Our abilities and what we strive for may leave us incomplete or unfinished, but as Romero states, "it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest." This Earth that we have been given is unforgiving, but through God we have the ability to achieve. And whether someone believes or not, He is doing work everyday. Because I truly believe that all things are through Him and of Him. I pray that I can be more honest about my humanity and portray that to others. I believe that if the church becomes more honest about its humanity, then humanity would have no honest reason to fear the church.