Compassion – If you love one another…

For me, I neglect to realize the profound joy that exists in my life when life is going along easily. For some reason, I am busy doing life rather than fully existing in life. However, God steps in occasionally and rocks my world just a bit. My parents have been stressed due to both mounting farm chores and health issues. As I came to realize this, I mentioned it to some friends in conversation. This is the opportunity to experience great joy – it’s where the “rubber meets the road.” These friends saw this opportunity and reacted out of love and compassion by immediately volunteering their time and talents to come alongside and carry the burdens of my parents.

I’ve talked about this idea of “Love in Action” before (see http://www.jason1365.com/2007/03/11/love-in-action/), but recently I have been on the receiving end of the love. It is completely mind-blowing to receive love through these friends; I am humbled because I do not deserve it, nor can I repay them for their expressed love through service and companionship.

Two passages from Scripture come to mind as I reflect on the blessings of relationship. These passages have continued to resurface over the past couple of years. I am compelled to let these permeate my lifestyle and being; however inept I am now.

John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

1 John 3:16-18 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

So, to you, friends, you do not know how your service releases the worry from the mind of my parents (in particular my dad). Thank you, the following is for you.

Continue reading Compassion – If you love one another…

I trust you (audioblog)

Control – why do I want to be in control? It makes no sense really, because there is nothing in which I have control except for my own actions in and reactions to the situations of life.

What does it look like to let go of the stresses of my life? For me, I am left to wonder about life when circumstances, pain, and uncertainty hit close to home. When this happens, how do I react? First, I am frustrated at first that things are out of my control. I then question God about what is going on – I want to understand; I want to feel like life (a.k.a. God) is fair. Finally, my God reminds me who He is, His nature, and where I need to be. It’s then up to me to make the decision as to how I will react.

This is my second audio-blog which was recorded on my drive home from the hospital after my mom’s surgery. Enjoy the background music and the noise of the car ride for the 9:32 of this audio-blog.

Audio-blog: I trust you

Beyond what you can bear (audioblog)

My life is driven by my own world view which is driven by the truths of Scripture (as I make the time to reflect). Over time, I wrestle with some ideas around the nature of our world, our God, and how our existence meshes beautifully with the goodness of God. However, there are tough life experiences that call our understanding of God into question. These questions can then lead to a deteriorated (or invigorated) relationship with our God.

This is my first audio-blog which was recorded on a long drive when I was visiting my mom as she was undergoing surgery. If you are going to take the 14:19 to listen to this audio-blog, take the time to read through some of the passages of scripture and ideas that I’m going to wrestle with in this recording. Please enjoy the background music and the noise of the car ride.

Verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
  • Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Ideas:

  • Sin of commission: is to know something is wrong, and do it anyway; deliberate disobedience to the known will of God
  • Sin of omission: sins of failing to do what we should have done
  • Temped: being compelled to sin (to act in a way that not in complete alignment with the will and nature of God and His goodness)

Audio-blog: Beyond what you can bear

Migration to Bugzilla 3.2.x from custom defect tracking solution

Since I use Google and blog and forum posts frequently to help solve problems, I felt it only appropriate to contribute back to the interwebs some of the solutions I have developed to solve problems. So, here are the details for migrating from a custom defect tracking system in MS Access to Bugzilla 3.2.x. I will be installing this in a Windows environment, but I like to work in the simpler world of Linux and then just copy over the data to Windows (If you want to use Windows as your sandbox, set it up by following https://wiki.mozilla.org/Bugzilla:Win32Install).

Continue reading Migration to Bugzilla 3.2.x from custom defect tracking solution

Ethiopia: Christ is too simple for the adult

While in Ethiopia, my translator, Bareket, shared why he is compelled to teach children of the love of God through Jesus Christ. He started off with a little story.

One day a preacher came home and told his wife that two and a half people came to know Jesus Christ that day. His wife was confused about what he meant by a half a person and asked if her husband implied that a couple and their small child accepted Christ. He replied, “No, the two and a half people refer to the two children and one adult that chose to follow Christ. For the two children have their entire life before them live for Christ’s glory whereas the adult has already wasted half of her life.” Bareket went on to explain that it is much more difficult for an adult submit to Christ because the adult carried much baggage and believes many lies that must first be dispelled before he will be convinced of the truth of Christ.

Bareket focus on teaching the little children of Christ’s love. He reiterated to me that the gospel is so simple and easy to grasp that it’s easier for children to accept than adults because the adults are confounded by its simplicity. Children know they cannot understand everything and don’t need to; however, us adults think we are something greater and need to be able to understand all aspects of everything before we commit. I’m just glad that we don’t live by this mentality for anything else in life – for we’d never commit to anything (name any risk – investments, projects, pursuing new ideas, etc., marriage, children, or our word).

Ethiopia: Story of confidence in God’s power

The third day in Ethiopia, Lacey (http://kansasandcosmos.wordpress.com/) shared a story with our team that I wanted to relay to the world. It’s a story of good and evil, of deception and fear, of control and manipulation, of good over evil – the fairy tale, however, in truth and reality.

I’d like to caveat the following story for the western mindset. In America, there isn’t witchcraft, voodoo, or other eerie mysticism. That isn’t how Satan chooses to control us; he chooses much more intellectually benign things like busyness, money, status, hedonism, and pride (our own pride in our intellectual ability to reason away the reality of the spiritual).

God opened my eyes to the spiritual world in a very real way one day while I was in a rural Ethiopian village to tell the people about our upcoming clinics and share the Gospel. I walked past a hut where my translator said they worshiped a spirit, and dark smoke filled the air surrounding the home. We also came across a large tree with fabric tied around the trunk, and I found out some of the local villagers worshiped the tree. But the biggest revelation came from two small lemons on the side of the road.

As the translator Jerusalem and disciple maker Haiminot and I walked down the dirt road, we passed another house with smoke coming from it. Jerusalem told me the family of that house worships the devil and tries to put curses on people in the village. As we continued our journey through the village, we saw two small lemons on the side of the road. I thought it was odd to see the fruit in such a random spot in rural Ethiopia, but didn’t think much beyond that. I was about to continue walking, when Haiminot stopped to pick up the lemons. Jerusalem told me the lemons were actually used by the family whose house we just passed in creating their potions and curses, and then they throw the lemons on the side of the road. Whoever picks up the lemons or accidentally steps on them is supposed to get the curse. (Sidebar – this is exactly how Satan works, he uses fear and manipulation to control.)

Without any hesitation or fear that maybe he really could get a curse, Haiminot carried the lemons with him throughout the village, playfully tossing them in the air. We continued our walk down the road and Haiminot saw a young farmer who he said we needed to go speak with. We all sat down on the ground, and even though I couldn’t understand the conversation between Haiminot and the farmer, it was clear they already knew each other. After sharing the Gospel, the young man didn’t want to accept Christ, but said he did want to invite us into his home to learn more. Unfortunately his wife wasn’t home so we couldn’t speak further, but Haiminot said he’d return at a later day.

During the conversation, the young farmer asked Haiminot why in the world he was holding the lemons when he knew what potential they had. Haiminot replied that because of Christ, he doesn’t need to worry about a curse having power over him since Christ rules the world. I later found out that this young farmer was actually the son of the family who throws out the lemons.

Every villager we met had a huge fear of two small pieces of fruit. When they saw the lemons in Haiminot’s hands they would take a step back away from us. Children would say, “Dirty! Dirty!” and adults would fearfully shake their heads “No” when Haiminot asked if they wanted to touch the lemons. The two small lemons became a huge testament to the villagers about trust and reassurance in the power of Christ to protect us. After a long day of walking throughout the village, Haiminot went home…and ate the lemons for a snack, confident in the power of Christ.

Ethiopia: WOW, God loves me dispite of my future

One of my teammates, Anne, shared a profound truth with our team one morning over breakfast in Ethiopia. She opened with the idea that God is not stuck in the present like we are; he knows our past, but even our future. Of course, he is God, no big deal. But, then she put that together with another truth of God, He loves us. These two separate are easy to digest, but put them together and the purity of God’s love for me begins to reveal itself.

How amazing is this – God loves me despite of my future. He loves me right now even though he knows I will reject him, I will backstab, I will lie to his face, I will live an adulterous lifestyle worshiping the things of this world (His creation and not the Creator), I will abandon Him, I will…

This idea isn’t too hard for me to grasp until I begin to personalize it. For, this is intensely personal to God and I need to empathize a little to grasp God’s profound love. So, would I love anybody with such fervor, devotion, and unrestrained selflessness if I know that the object of supreme affection and dedication would betray me in a few short days, months, or years? How can I love somebody when I know (s)he is going to betray that love? How can I love when I know that love will be taken for granted, forgotten, rejected, and even scorned? Would I marry somebody if I absolutely knew all of her flaws, when she would reject me, that she would live adulterously, that she would abandon me, divorce me and marry another, that she would backstab, that she wasn’t completely committed, that she would not love in return? How could I? I do not know; but, I know it’s not possible for me to do that (without the divine intervention of my God).

Here we are, each of us, with the truth that God loves us despite of our future. He remains completely committed, continuously pouring out himself selflessly. His love is so deep; it’s incomprehensible (like really, give it a try). He chooses to love when he already knows the future pain, rejection, and heartache he must endure. What am amazing God we have. May we glorify His name throughout the world and at all times.

Tangent: about my tenants of life

Ultimately, the one thing I wish to say to everybody is, “be willing to give up everything you hold dear for the sake of Christ.” And, discern those things of God through the following: “Goodness, Rightness, and Beauty.” God is Good and everything I do should be “good.” Everything I do should be “right” or righteous and “seeking first the kingdom of God.” So, things may seem good and be right, but not for a certain time. An action must have both goodness and righteousness at the time it is to be accomplished. And then on top of that, God is beautiful and all of us should proliferate His beauty. One thing I like to say is that, “Truth is elegant.” When I’m attempting to understand God’s truths, I shouldn’t have to make up complicated conjectures to account of fringe-cases. I’ve always been in awe of God when I begin to understand His truths. I fully expect that all of His truths will cause be to wonder in awe at the beauty of the simplicity. For if I could grasp His truths and explain every fringecase, I would be in a place where I don’t need God. I know that my God loves me too much to let me do that to myself (run in overconfidence and live without needing Him for everything in my life).

Worship – Evangelical or Catholic or what

I spent like 3-hours today listening to a Presbyterian theologian on a topic about worship. It was quite intriguing as he went into explanation about church history, liturgy, and worship/praise. The coolest thing was the fact that he contrasted Catholicism with contemporary Evangelism. What I liked was the fact that he stated that Catholicism stuck to the roots of striving to have the congregation experience the magnificent and presence of God whereas the contemporary Evangelical church generally focuses on the comfort of its members. More explicitly stated: the Catholic Church has a focus on God and the Evangelical focuses on man’s comforts. However, I don’t think that these distinctions are so easily discerned or evaluated. So, it was cool to contemplate the fact that Evangelicals (myself included) may have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater to some degree.” But, there are so many ways to interpret the Word of God and I do see as God manifesting Himself through the same words different to each of us simply because He isn’t somebody/something that can be understood completely or fully-known. So, there’s a tip of the iceberg on some theology of worship – so much more to be contemplated.

Thailand Day 2

Up early, 6AM, breakfast downstairs at the hotel. I receive a text from SooBin sometime during the night. We will meet up with him at noon. But until then, Ami and I will go to check out the Grand Palace along with the Wat Pra Kaew template. After walking there, not too far, we decided to forego a tourguide and walk the place ourselves. Now, these places aren’t like museums and tourist attractions in the US where everything has a story written next to them. Nope, we wandered through the array of highly decorated buildings, museums, and temples (wat’s) without knowing anything about what we were seeing. However, we did stand near other tour guides and listened in to figure out what the heck we were looking at. Two hours and I was exhausted and we resolved that if we go to see anything else that is moderately complex that we will rent a tour guide – we notice that there was one tour guide for two people in several cases.

Hotness, we arrive back at D&D and there is SooBin. Wow, what a relief to meet up; turns out that connecting without cell phones or knowing anything about the city and having much of everything in an indiscernible language is difficult. Ami and I also meet Angie (SooBin’s traveling partner for the previous several days); she’ll be along for the whole two weeks along with us. After short deliberation, we decide to eat and discuss our upcoming agenda. While eating, SooBin runs into somebody he met several weeks earlier in Vietnam and she shows us her bedbug bits and instills fear in all us about sleeping in beds in Thailand.

We then book a 2-day trip to leave the following evening for Chiang Mai. We’ll have the trekking and elephant riding experience that are the trademarks of Thailand. Luckily, we’ll also get to hit up Chiang Mai on the weekend to participate in the markets. I’ve heard that these are cheap and fun markets for Thailand. Plus, I’ll be happy to get out of the fairly dirty city of Bangkok.

All four us depart to check out the other nearby attractions of Bangkok to knock them out before heading out – Reclining Buddah (Wat Po) and the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). Ami and I headed back for a 1 hour Thai massage before dinner and would meet back up with Angie and SooBin at 7pm for dinner. After standing at the meeting place for 15 minutes and then walked along Khaosan Rd looking for them to no avail. Not again, split up from them again and no good way to reconnect. So, Ami and I walk around and decide to book a day trip for the following morning to Ayutthaya to check out the old capitol of Thailand. Afterwards, we grabbed some food and headed out to check out a tailor for some suits. After a while in the suit shop, I consented to be swindled and purchased several suits. After the suit purchase, Ami and I wanted the streets for a bit looking for a good place to have a few drinks. We settled in on this little bar run by a woman named Nok (pronounced nook). She managed to run a bar with no overhead, she simply setups a bar on the sidewalk along with some chairs and tables and starts serving. After a few drinks, we ask Nok about a “ping pong” show. Angie had mentioning wanted to go see it that night since it was going to be our last night in Bangkok for some time. So, Ami and thought we’d see if we could find her and SooBin there.

Nok got a taxi for us and off we went. Soon, the taxi driver was lost and didn’t speak any English. He managed to find a police officer on the road and talk with him for some time. After a while the police officer just got in the car with us and off we went. We make it to the show and only to be asked to pay 1000 Baht entrance fee (~$30), absurd! So, we weren’t going to go in to see the show, but we got him to consent to 1000 Baht for the two of us including the first drink.

Wow, I wasn’t really sure what to expect at all, but this was extreme. And, being my first real night in Thailand; the prostitution was much more overt than I expected. Luckily, I was with Ami and I’m pretty sure that has stayed off much of the would-have-been approached from these girls. At the show, there was this guy that had pulled out his camera and was attempting to video part of the show. What an idiot. Bouncer people jumped over the tables and grabbed the dude’s camera. Totally sweet, there was some yelling and almost a fight right next to me. Could have been fun to throw some punches. Oh well, didn’t happen. Ami and I left soon thereafter because it was getting way too out there / gross. After a taxi back, some more street food, we went to sleep fearing the bedbugs.

It was a good day, and our only day in Bangkok. We’ll be leaving at 7AM to visit Ayutthaya and then head directly from there to Chian Mai. We may not see Bangkok again until we come back to fly out – who knows.

Thailand Day 1

As I step off the airplane in Bangkok, I realize that it’s not going to be the sunny but cool climate I found in Ethiopia. The humidity and temperatures seem to be about what I live with every day in DC. I proceeded to walk level 3 of the airport since that was where I was going to meet Ami to begin our Thailand experience. After completely walking it once I was a bit worried because, if we didn’t meet up there it would have been more difficult to connect later.

We managed to get a taxi ride to where we were planning to stay. But, upon arrival to the hotel we were to stay, there was no SooBin. I emailed, texted, and attempted to look him at the place, but to no avail. I grabbed my first bit of food in Thailand off a street vendor, Pad Thai (what a surprise). About 3AM, Ami and I booked a room at the hotel for quite a high price and got some sleep.

“Wicking” undies

So, after the realization yesterday that washing socks makes them smell much less and feel great, I wanted to share another recent clothing revelation.

“Wicking” undies.

That’s right, forget those cotton things you guys wear around. These synthetic briefs, boxer-briefs, and boxers are the way to go. No longer do my man-parts swim in sweat throughout the day. Also, that horrible smell that comes with sweaty man-parts is gone. I no longer am plagued with man-parts sticking to most anything it can attach to. As an added bonus, for those of you with jock-itch, the wonderful dry-nature should reduce or eliminate this problem. And maybe, guys will soon to be seen as a species of sophistication – there may be much less of a need to scratch/adjust man-parts.

Finally, without sweating, there’s no need to wash or change undies. Ultimately it’s like being naked, but wearing clothes. As I continue to test out the undies, I’ll know more. So we’ll see how long I can wear these without showering or changing while maintaining a respectable amount dignity – going on 36 hours (1.5 days).

UPDATE: Some of you may think this is gross, but I assure you – it’s not. That’s the reason for the test. So, four (4) days of wearing the same synthetic undies have left me smelling decent and feeling incredibly comfortable and dry. After four days, there was some smell begining to stick, but nothing more than you get out of your regular cotton undies after a few hours.

I purchased mine from REI – check out their Boxers and Briefs.