The Pursuit of MANHOOD

"Be happy, young man, while you are young,and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment."--Ecclesiastes 11:9 - This blog is dedicated to Adam's fervent journey into becoming a man. Or just a blog about his life and thoughts in general.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jesus: the Warrior King and OLP

a. Jesus: The Warrior King

I preached at my Church recently, which went okay, but I felt constrained by time and did not finish my sermon. Here's a very edited part of it I didn't get to (the text was 2 Samuel 7:1-17, the Davidic Covenant):

Right now, when you think of royalty, you probably think of Prince Charles. Perhaps you have seen Prince Charles. He usually is wearing a suit, is rather pale-skinned, and will never be on the front of any fitness magazines. Israel is not asking for Prince Charles. Israel is asking for a god: a sovereign king who will lead them in battle against the surrounding nations. That’s what they meant by king. But the Bible tells us you don’t need a god-like king when you have a king-like God. It was God who freed them from slavery. It was God who got them into the land and gave the Israelites military success. It was God who reigned over Israel and was their king. And if their human king is to have any success in Israel, he must acknowledge the true king, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

God does a remarkable thing. He gives us a perfect human King: both a strong warrior and a humble and obedient man of God. And God restores Himself on the throne of His Kingdom. He does this all through Jesus Christ: the Son of David and the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus is the King of God's people. This is good news for us. The Kingship of Jesus means that we have a warrior King fighting for us and investing His resources to us. We don't fight the fight of faith alone, but have the full investment of the Royal Throne. And the resources of that throne are all authority in Heaven and on Earth.

Today, you might feel your spiritual life has been an endless cycle of trying harder by your own strength. Trying harder to fight the sin of lust. Trying harder to fight the feelings of loneliness. Trying harder to fight against the constant failure to act Holy. But that is not the Christian life. The Christian life is you come as a broken and defeated rebel and fall at the feet of the King of Light and Life. He then clothes you with His armour, walks with you back into the heat of battle, and brings along His most trusted counsellor, the Holy Spirit. You have everything you need to fight the fight.

We work with all our might, but not ours only, for we are in the service and in the company of the King of Heaven and Earth.

Note: This is so practical, especially for me.

b. Our Lady Peace
Went with the gf to an Our Lady Peace concert in Kitchener. They are doing this tour where they are playing their two shows in each city, and playing their whole 2nd (clumsy) and 4th (spiritual machines) albums in their entirety. It's a pretty good idea: its retro without being tacky (unlike say, a reunion tour or a Beach Boys concert). Most people looked older than 25 (not normal for concerts without Sting).

When I started getting into rock music, OLP was in their post-clumsy stage, and had ceased to be "cool" to music fans. I loved them though (until the fifth album). Their music was part of what formed the musical and emotional framework of my teenage years.

They've changed, as have I. They are still as earnest and quasi-spiritual as ever, but in more of a U2 stadium anthem kind of way than the post-grunge angst of their earlier albums. And me? I'm not so serious about rock music and I've given up on viewing life through the gloom-coloured glasses of my youth. But I'm still serious about life, and appreciate their desire for answers. Maybe they'll find the right ones someday.

The music fan in me feels so lame putting up such a mainstream song, but a theatre full of people singing this song really struck me as sad. A song that almost expresses the reality of sin, but concludes by admitting its own inability to formulate a solution:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

evangelism + recent things

a. evangelism
during university, a problem (and blessing) i had was that my life was consumed in Christian fellowship to the point where i had very few if any close non-Christian friends. i only knew two people at my graduation ceremony (though that was partly because i was in a combined major, so i didn't graduate with the same people as in my classes), and one of them was from c4c (kinda).

there were always the discussions about this in our c4c circles. they'd go like this:

A - We need to train our people to do workplace and relational evangelism! That's not gonna happen at the cafeteria with two copies of the four laws!
B - But if our people can't even do evangelism in controlled settings like the cafe, how are we going to get them to do it naturally in their own lives?
15 min later - discussion ends, nothing changes.

I've heard of different c4c campuses that are trying things to actually address this problem, which is commendable. But end result is that I do feel more equipped to do evangelism in controlled settings instead of naturally through relationships.

However, what has surprisingly happened is that I am now surrounded by non-Christians five days a week, 9 hours a day. And it has been a blessing/problem. The blessing is that I have actually made friends and enjoy their company and conversation. I have been put by God in a place where I can be light and salt. The downside is that I must confess it has been a dim light and a timid salt. I don't cuss or get drunk or joke about sex, but I have not really displayed patience and love and grace in ways that point to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

Back at C-ton, our first-years would always say "I don't feel ready for evangelism, I don't feel like I'm a good enough Christian to preach the Gospel" and I feel that even now. I fear how easily they will see the hypocrisy in my sarcastic tone, my psuedo-gossipping, and my lack of punctuality as I proclaim the Lordship of a Loving God in my life.

Yet, as I pray that the Holy Spirit would change me, I am thankful that the message I preach is not a message of works, but of Grace.

Easter's coming up. Please pray that I'd use it to proclaim this message of Grace.

"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." - Mark 2:17

b. recent things
1. Our young adults group had a speedfriending session last night (before the hockey game) (it was like speed dating, but minus the dating). May have been the best YA social that I've been to, though it was difficult to talk for that long. Props to the author of f-words for her initiative.
2. phonesaber app on iPhone almost makes me want an iPhone. it also has music in the background
3. Watched Kiss of the Dragon this week. Things to know about Jet Li regarding this movie:
i. Jet Li isn't as bland and uninteresting in his Hong Kong movies.
ii. His Hong Kong chereography team worked on this movie, so the fighting was good.
iii. This movie is very enjoyable if ii. is the reason you watch it.
4. You might not find this funny, and may have heard of it but....
note: try ordering it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

money and bum covers

a. i am not poor

fact is, i make 20k/year. to most of you in mcc (middle-class country), that's a great injustice considering i'm a university graduate.

other fact is, i'm not poor. i make more than most people in the world. i eat more than i need to. i have more things than i need.

yes, my income limits me. it limits my future plans (marriage, car, home, student loans). it limits my generosity. but those plans and that generosity are in God's hands. What He hasn't given me, I don't worry about.

besides giving/osap/preparing for the future, i probably wouldn't live any differently if i was making 200k/year. i'd be just as cheap in the areas of spending i'm cheap in, and just as (actually, probably more) unwise in the areas of spending i'm unwise in.

in university, i believed you could put God first and let Him take care of your daily bread. i've struggled to seek His kingdom first in the midst of loans and limitations, but its encouraging to see that after the struggle, the Truth remains.

Strange fact: Same day I wrote this, I stepped on the screen of my laptop, messing it up (though it still works when hooked up to a normal monitor). Perhaps this was God's way of testing to see if I really believe what I say I believe.

b. album covers that suck

looking through my cd collection, there are some albums where i actually think if they had better album covers, they would have sold more. here are five from my personal collection:

(in a particular order, but based on reasons i chose not to disclose)

1. Kevin Max - Stereotype Be
So, in 2000, DC Talk takes a "break" (note: break has not yet ended), which results in all three members doing "side" solo projects. My money was on Kevin Max's to be the most successful. The actual money was on the exact opposite. Max's album was musically unfocused and inconsistant, being a typical "look at my artistic range" solo album. But the songs are still good, so maybe it's lack of success should be attributed to this nonsensical cover.

First, the font makes it look like the soundtrack to a Barbara Streisand movie. Next, what is he wearing? And what does it have to do with this album's middle-eastern influence or spoken word poetry? And why does is he posing like someone's caught him with no pants on? And why are there shadows covering almost everything except for his name in that romance-novel-font? I think this album would have at least been as successful as Michael Tait's album if it wasn't so stupid looking. Here's what this album sounds like.

2. Odds - Good Weird Feeling
Well, it also has a sucky album title. The Odds are a Canadian pop-rock band kinda like... Sloan with all sense of self-importance taken away. They have this goofy-self-deprecating sense of humour similar to Barenaked Ladies (which means, like BNL, they aren't as loved by music geeks as they should be). But why did I need to tell you that when this album cover clearly communicates all that? Btw, I was being sarcastic. This album cover sucks, though the material is very likeable. Here's a sample. Way better than, say, post-2002 Weezer. Which brings us to...

3. Weezer - Maladroit
Here's what some guy wrote about Maladroit:
Each [Weezer] record only managed to divide the band’s fans into separate camps: the early pop lovers, the emo kids, the casual listeners. Luckily, these disparate groups managed to put aside their differences and come together over a shared principle: that Maladroit sucked. But here’s the thing. Maladroit, the band’s fourth album, is actually really good: not exactly deep, but it has some really stellar pop songs. Pitched somewhere between the lightness of the Blue Album and the riffs on Pinkerton, Maladroit has charm and hooks to spare. With numbers like “Keep Fishin’,” “Space Rock” and “Possibilities,” Maladroit is catchier than the Green Album and less melodramatic than Pinkerton. Sure, Maladroit never became a cultural touchstone the way the band’s first two albums did, but it deserves more credit than it ever got.

I definitely agree. And perhaps the cover is to blame for that. Look at it! It makes me think I'm playing a boring Myst-type computer game from 1998. If I was, I'd click on the items on that table with the lamp. They probably contain helpful items for future encounters with other characters in a boring computer game.

However, I am not playing such a computer game, I am trying to convince you that this is a good album. And since you have probably already dismissed this album based on its cover, I have failed. Maybe this is my last hope.

4. Jeff Buckley - Grace
Fact: Grace peaked at #143 in the US Charts.
Fact: The Shrek soundtrack peaked at #28
Fact: A tonne of people wouldn't know who Jeff Buckley is if Rufus Wainwright didn't cover [Buckley's cover of] Hallelujah on the Shrek soundtrack.
Fact: The Shrek soundtrack also has TWO Smashmouth songs (shudder....)
Fact: Hallelujah is, at best, the sixth best song on Grace (okay, that's just an opinion).
Fact: This album cover looks like a Bryan Adams album cover:

End of Fact List. Listen to Jeff Buckley.

5. Jeff Buckley - Sketches of My Sweetheart the Drunk
Jeff Buckley died, and then they released a 2-disc collection of untampered demos for what would have been his second album. Problem? It looks like a collection of violin concertos. This was my introduction to Buckley's music. The demos are rough but I honestly think it promised a better album than Grace. Its too bad even music fans are totally unfamiliar with this collection. This is my favourite song from disk 1.

Anyways, till next week... hopefully...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

update 2

i got a job pretty quickly after getting back, and it's definitely a (mixed) blessing from God. here's the real truth - i make 20 grand/year doing faxes all day 9:30-6:30.

so, apparently, lots of people applied for the job prior to me, all also having university degrees, but they turned down the job when they saw what the work actually was. i was not that picky. job hunting is real crappy, so i jumped out at the first chance. my coworkers are not university-educated guys. they worked at hotels, video stores, and restaurants before landing this job, and they feel very happy to having a 9-5 fulltime with benefits.

meanwhile in my small slice of reality, everyone gives me the same reaction when i tell them about my employment situation:

University Graduate with Nice Job/University student who plans on having a nice job: Adam, so what are you doing now?
Adam: Working full-time, I work at a law firm.
UGwNJ/USwPoHaNJ: Hey, that's awesome!
Adam: Nahh, I just do copies and faxes all day.
UGwNJ/USwPoHaNJ: Ohhh...... that's cool..... you gotta start somewhere right? You interested in law?
Adam: Nah, not really.
UGwNJ/USwPoHaNJ: (pause) Let's talk about my middle-class suburban topics of interest.

So, its actually nice to meet people from different walks of life. I'm learning how to relate to people who aren't just UGwNJ/USwPoHaNJ's, which I thank God for.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


a. update 1

In July, I returned to Ottawa. It has been a spiritual battle since. For all that C4C helped us, it never did prepare us to cross over from the land the prayer meetings, randoms, and theology discussions and join the world of job applications and osap payments. How could we have been prepared? Us student leaders had never seen what lay on the other side, and, with all due respect, so very few staff members knew either.*

Although things have changed, I have been blessed by my Church here in Ottawa. We have many areas to grow in: areas I think God has prepared me to give modest contributions in thanks to my time in C4C**, but Jesus is making good on His promise. He will build it, He will shepherd it, and He will present His bride flawless in the day of His return. And being part of His Bride has kept me in the hands of the Shepherd these past months.

b. stuff Christians like

So, if you don't know, there's this blog called Stuff White People like, written by... white people. They came to Algonquin College for a speaking event this week (an excellent addition to the usual schedule of Dustin Diamond and Tony the XXX hypnotist). The blog makes/points out stereotypes about white people. Well, this has inspired a billion other "stuff ____ like", including Stuff Christians like and Stuff Young Calvinists like.

The first entry in Stuff Christians like is (to paraphrase) adapting non-Christian ideas for Christians. Of course, the irony is noted (read the entry if your irony radar is a little weak), but it is definitely an appreciated point. Christians LOVE adapting non-Christian ideas for "kingdom purposes". In fact, we even try to justify it using the Bible ("all things to all men = your pastor should be a Christian Dane Cook and we should have So You Think You Can Dance Baptist-style").

However, I am really glad for the last few years that Christians have been using technology very creatively and constructively. Christians have used blogs, twitter, websites, and podcasts for uniquely Christian purposes, which though sometimes unhelpful, is a positive thing in general. I say this cause it gets a bad rap a lot, but I think it has been a means of sanctification for the Church of God.

Point is, Christians should really really stop trying to mimic the world and start using the common grace of creativity in their lives.

c. also...

In my opinion, good ideas for stuff ____ like would also be "Stuff C4C people like" and "Stuff Arminians like", but I'm no gonna write them cause... well, the "judge-not" people would judge me.

*If you took this to be a criticism of C4C, you should simply blame that on my inability to properly express my point. Criticism is not my intention.
** Do people even refer to it as C4C? Why am I doing that?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Submitting Our Worldview to God: Clothing

I was gonna just write a short comment to Monica's post, but then I realized I would write too much, so here are some thoughts that are interesting to me.

So, Monica wrote some thoughts she had on modesty, kinda in response to the Harris twins' Modesty Survey. I thought there were lots of good thoughts, including these:

- “despite what a woman is wearing, she still needs to be treated with utmost respect”,
- “you really can't please everyone”,
- “most women do not dress with the sole intention of getting a male reaction”

However, I would like to challenge us (meaning whoever will read this) to consider what the purpose of clothing actually is. Monica mentioned that clothes are a means of self-expression. No doubt many (maybe most North Americans) agree. But who told us that: The Bible or culture? Maybe we should wonder whether this has just been a North American assumption that needs to be challenged.

We really need The Word to form our opinions about everything, including clothing. If, in fact, there are other Biblical mandates for the use of clothing, those values should take precedence over "self-expression". Right now, the purposes of clothing that come to my mind as being Biblical are to cover our bodies and to communicate, as Monica quoted from 1 Timothy 2:9, "decency and propriety". If those are the highest values, than modesty is actually the no. 1 most important purpose of our clothing.

Maybe I'm wrong. I don't want to say that this is the gospel truth, but whatever the truth is, it needs to be one that, instead of us being conformed to this world, results from us being transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Spirit and His Sword, the Word. Then we will be able to discern the Will of God in this area.

So, I'd challenge us to open up the Bible and consider this question: What is the purpose of clothing, and how should I dress accordingly? And if you have some (Biblical*) suggestions, I'd like to hear them (I'm very sure that my short contribution was not sufficient).

*If you do comment, please may it be Bible-focused

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thoughts on Prince Caspian: the book and the movie and a comic strip


I recently read Prince Caspian, and of course thought quite a bit about how it compared to the movie. So, although these thoughts are real late (since the movie came out a year ago), here are my thoughts:

Prince Caspian is subtitled The Return to Narnia, but rather than simply revisiting the same themes as Wardrobe, the book explores a Narnia more than a millennium after the great deliverance of Aslan. This is a place where unbelief rules, history has been rewritten, and Aslan has been forgotten. Thus, the Pevensies return to restore Narnia to those who serve Aslan, and to bring back the chivalry and honour of earlier days. Essentially, it was a criticism of an unbelieving, corrupt world and a celebration of Christian faith and morality.

Caspian: The Movie shares the same general storyline, but attempts to discuss quite different questions. The Pevensies have had a hard year back on earth, and when they are transported back to Narnia, they are not greeted by Aslan. The small amount of guidance that Aslan gives them seems more like a test than help. When they finally begin to fight, they suffer a terrible loss as their attempted raid of the castle results in innumerable deaths. It is then that they are approached with the possibility of an alliance with a dangerous power. The question of how we can continue to have faith when it seems like Aslan is absent becomes the center of the movie.

In short, the movie has a much different spirit than the book, though it is hard to fault the movie for being able to add more action and craft its own identity in the process.

But it is interesting to wonder what the differences tell us about our culture. Perhaps the answer is that the question of how we can have faith in the midst of suffering is more relevant to our generation.

Yet, can that really be true when we compare our times to Lewis’s just-post-WW2/Red-scare 1949? Would a movie that was closer to the spirit of the book been embraced by this generation? Or have contemporary Christians ironically become like the world Caspian criticizes: a generation cynical towards clear answers and childlike faith?


No other original thoughts worth mentioning. Here is a webcomic, with some insightful thoughts.