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.

Examining life – selfish ambition and vein conceit

Philippians 2 – 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

What does this say to me? For me it requires that I question myself on every decision that I make. What does “selfish ambition” or “vein conceit” really mean? I’ve pulled together some references, but it’s very clearly anything with selfish motives (even if they are “good” and can seem God-glorifying).

I think of this song by Mainstay, Take Away, where the artist says, “Ruin my agenda, holy as it never was.” I know that I try to claim that my plans and agendas are holy and of God, but they are only me attempting to fool God and manipulate Him into my agenda. For some reason, I like to set forth on things that most people will think are good and godly, yet I know that I’m only doing it for their praise and that my God isn’t really all that trilled at all.

I also think of those preachers who only want to grow their church just because bigger is better – it’s somehow validates their worthiness as a pastor. Vein conceit comes to play when I think of people that manipulate others in some way. It’s this idea that my idea and way is better and I don’t respect your idea as on equal footing as mine. It’s this conceit rooted in vanity (or pride) for whatever reason – age, intelligence, physical abilities, etc – just our abilities. I consider those (our abilities) vain – only because everything is given by God out of grace. For we deserve nothing and have nothing except by the grace of God. We are no better than anybody else because we simply can’t weigh the value of traits because all of them are given at His discretion; who are we to judge value?

James speaks of “selfish ambition” as earthly, unspiritual and demonic “wisdom” (James 3:13-16). The Lord himself warned against seeking first place (Matthew 20:26-27), desiring power, prestige and wealth (Luke 14:10). Jesus called his disciples to a life of self-sacrifice that gives priority to God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

From The Complete book of Everyday Christianity

As a work of the flesh, selfish ambition is present when we define ourselves by our achievements, rather than by our character. For many men, and increasingly for women, the choice of career represents an “idealized fantasy of who one is or might become . . . the medium through which these dreams are enacted and judged” (Ochberg, p. 3).

Symptoms of this selfish ambition are relentless striving with an inability to rest, discouragement at the lack of recognition obtained for one’s hard work, predatory competition (even in Christian leadership), use of the present situation (and people) as a stepping stone and an “endless itchiness for other possibilities” (Schnase, p. 17). The Bible leaves little room for exalting human achievement and constantly points us in the direction of exulting in God’s achievements. But our motives are always mixed, and a theology of grace accepts humanness just as it is. At the same time it points to something better. Because ambition is not uniformly evil, it is a risk worth taking.

Somehow, I need to check my motivations consistently and have my friends relentlessly question why I live my life the way I do. I’ll have to agree with Socrates when he says, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So, I invite you to examine my life each and every day. For, I give myself too much slack. Plus life is way more fun examined and alongside great friends.

Birthday Toasting and Quarter-Life Crisis

My birthday was this week. As I embark on my quarter-life crisis, I realize again that I am profoundly blessed with amazing friends. I also realize that I do not express my esteem, love or respect to my friends as I should. So, I’m eating dinner this week with some of my closest friends and, as expected, Phil stands to initiation the awkward toasting (where friends voluntarily express why one is great or has impacted their lives). But, although it is always tough for me to receive compliments or have others say that some of the things I have done are great, I was very encouraged that my lifestyle has been (to some degree) what I have desired – to be one of Integrity, Intention, and Impact.

So, with these encouragements and a renewed energy and passion for life, I am excited to take the quarter-life crisis head-on. I will be traveling to Ethiopia to diagnose and treat as many people as I can (for free) (I also get to learn and practice basic nursing techniques). I will then head over to Thailand for a couple weeks with a friend to experience part of the continent that I’ve tried to get to for 5 years. I may have an opportunity to work in Korea (long-shot) for 6-12 months as well. I have starting taking public transportation so that I can reduce daily stress, but also focus myself on bigger, more fun, dangerous, and noble things. I realize that the constant daily activity is keeping me from writing a thrilling story with my life.

With that, I conclude with something like the roasting that was given to me by a great friend on my birthday.

Continue reading Birthday Toasting and Quarter-Life Crisis

Friends are great

So, I came home yesterday (Sunday) after spending much of the day with a good friend, jsyn, to find something put together by a fantastic friend, Phil (even though there was no mention of his name on it). Basically, he had a concept from a project that I worked on at Deloitte (Enterprise Lean Six Sigma [ELSS] case competition) and had turned it into some more than a root-cause analysis tool. He took the 5-whys example I showed him and asked some friends, “Why do you like Jason Lund?” Here’s the outcome. Totally awesome and creative as I see it.

I think of The Rescue by Cross Movement that goes like:

I’m glad I’m dead / nobody loved me but my mother / Look again my brother / the waiting room’s full of brothers and sisters you’ve touched / they may not show it all the time / but they love you very much

I realize that at times of uncertainty and doubt, I sometimes doubt whether anybody really likes, loves, or cares about me at all. But, I realize that this is merely a false attack by the Evil One. I know that I need to ignore these lies, but also that I need to remember that, even so, my identity is rooted in Christ and not in the affection of others.

Go ahead and take a look at the result. It’s even in the standard Deloitte format, the deck (aka presentation).

Continue reading Friends are great

God glorified since college

I was asked to write briefly about how God is glorifying himself through my life and obedience since I have graduated from The University of Virginia. This write comes on the heels of my UVa campus pastor asking me to share for a few minutes in front of Chi Alpha (XA) at UVa several weeks ago. I’m always excited to push forward God’s kingdom and spur on others to take action for the name of Christ.
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Winter Backpacking the AT

I have just returned from a 2 night backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah National Park. Tom, Chris, and I hiked 3 miles the first day, a little over 12 the second, and 9 miles the third. Let me recap some of the highlights.

Pictures: http://jason1365.dyndns.org/picviewer/view.php?Cat=2007%2FAT+Backpacking
Starting at 3:30 PM Sunday at 29°F we hiked for 3 miles rising 1500 ft with winds generally between 20-30 mph. Ice covered everything for most of the journey; very beautiful. The ice added much to the journey. First, it was wonderfully beautiful. I thought it just really amazing how God takes the pretty much dead and broken forest, covered it with ice, and then just setup the lighting (aka the sun) to reflect creating a sparking landscape. The ice that had fallen from the trees (due to the wind) completely littered the path and forest ground. This made it seem like we were walking through a major spill of a Ready Ice truck for the journey. We reached camp at 25°F where I failed at starting a fire (far too windy). After dinner, the three of us sat in our sleeping bags chatting for a couple hours each with a cigar, pipe, and our share of the fifth of Jim Beam. We went to bed around 21°F.

After a decent night’s sleep, giving credit to Mr. Jim Beam, we awoke at 17°F. We learned this morning that it would have been a good idea to sleep with both the stove fuel and water. Also, as part of an experiment, I slept in my bag with only long-johns on while the other guys slept with several layers of pants and coats. I was warm the whole night long, while the other guys were cold for parts of the night. However, after some internet research, it looks like the only thing to substantiate the “sleep warmer when naked” statement is the fact sleeping with damp clothing can be chilling, clothing can restrict circulation, and too much clothing could actually compress the bag – causing a loss of insulation capacity.

What a great day. We started the 12 mile hike at 21°F. After the sun rose, we pretty much hiked around 30°F throughout the day. About 5 miles into the day, we came around a bend to have a medium sized deer jump up to our right only 10 ft away. It then flashed its beautiful white tail and jumped around 10 ft away and looked back at us. We admired the deer for a few minutes, talking to it, etc. As we began to walk along the deer tracked us to our right about 15 ft away. I was actually a little concerned at this, because I don’t expect a deer to walk alongside of humans. This is just not normal behavior. After another 30 ft of walking, the much larger deer appears to our left – only 10 ft away. We speculated the mother – no antlers and much larger than the first. We didn’t seem to be in danger even though the three of us were directly between the two deer, so we talked to the mother and admired her for a moment before we proceeded with the rest of the day’s journey.

Now, apparently an incredibly rare experience. We are walking along the mountain; I’m leading, with Chris 20 yards back and Tim another 30 yards behind him. As we are walking there is ice falling from the trees consistently, so I’ve tuned out or dismissed most sounds around me as merely ice falling. I hear some noise above me on the mountainside. I look up and see the fallen trees sparking in sun. I dismissed the noise as a larger piece of ice falling from the trees. About 20 yards later, I hear a noise again and look up to not see anything. As soon as I’m turning my head away, I hear a loud crash and quickly look up; attentive. “Wow,” I think to myself. There is a black bear only 40 yards up the mountain from me. I have no time to think or react or anything. The bear is moving incredibly fast. As it is barreling down the mountain, I think to myself, “I have no gun or knife or anything.” By the time I can think this, the bear is crossing the trail only 30 ft in front of me. I am completely tense and speechless. I wanted to tell the other guys to hurry up to see the bear, but I didn’t want to do anything until I felt the bear was safely away. Once the bear is 75 yards below me, I call to the guys to hurry if they want to see a bear. Chris runs up and I’m able to point out the black mass moving in the valley. Once Tom gets there, the bear is no longer in sight.

I had one very clean look at the bear, when it was directly in front of me on the trial. I’d have to estimate it was about 400 lbs. This confirmed the fact that there is no chance of anybody outrunning a bear. In the time it took Chris to run up to me, the bear has practically gone down the entire mountainside. While relaying the story to Tom, I found out that in all of his experiences he has never seen a bear. And, after getting home today, I learned that Phil’s dad has only seen two adult bears in his 32 years of spending time in forests for two days a week. Wow, God has totally blessed me with a fantastic camping trip.

We reached camp in the evening to the pleasant surprise of a firelog. What a wonderful relief to a 12 mile hike. We were able to start up the log and let it dry off the other limbs that we found to eventually create a large fire. We sat around the file chatting and drinking some Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve. We went to bed and got up at 25°F. The hike back to the cars (9 miles) wasn’t very eventful. However, I did learn, with 3 miles left, that adjusting my pack to my body really makes carrying it much easier. I should have read some of the instructions.

Overall, the trip was awesome. It was very cold and very windy. It was beautiful. It wasn’t easy. We were/are sore. We learned. We saw some fantastic wildlife (aka the bear – too bad that was mostly me). We shared – food, stories, tasks, weight, etc. It got to relish in how great God is – such beautiful creation, so diverse, highly creative, and incredibly intricate.

I can’t wait to do this again with some other friends in couple months.

Some topics that came up:
Zygote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygote
Xylem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylem
Anamalia (Kingom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Species): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_families
Black Bear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Black_Bear
Brown Bear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_bear

Doesn’t God deserve all credit?

I was driving around today and thought about how many things God has blessed me with. I met with my advisor at work today, and he mentioned that one of the partners in the firm praised me in front of all the management regarding my performance. I wasn’t entirely sure why my advisor would tell me that except for God to teach me.

As I was driving back to the office, I remembered the story of Daniel refusing to eat the defiled food of the king of Babalyon. Daniel 1:9 says, “Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel.” So, I began thinking. Are my friends my friends because of how great I am? I quickly come to the conclusion that it’s not because I’m great, but because God is. God is so great that he causes others to show favor to me for no good reason. God places me in circumstances with people for a reason unknown other than to live out my faith with these people.

Basically, God is soverign and in control. He gave me everything – great parents, intellect, determination, friends, talents, circumstances to excel, salvation from my own terrible decisions, mentors, everything. How can I ever say that anything great that happens in my life is somehow out of my own hard work? How can I even think of stealing glory from God?

The Greatest Love

Excerpt from “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada, p. 52-54. Also found in “Booy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris. Understanding intellectually is completely different from feeling with the heart. So frequently, I understand and don’t feel. I proceed without passion and conviction. I wish this reality was real in my life each day.
Continue reading The Greatest Love

Provisions

So, life is pretty hectic around the Christmas holiday season. I was in Atlanta for a week with short notice only to come back to work to prepare and support a go-live (so longer days at work). Then on top of that is the looming task of writing Christmas cards, collecting addresses, getting cool gifts, and making arrangements for the various activities of the season. I say that to say simply, that I was very busy come Thursday, Dec 21. I had not done any of the Christmas card work at this point and I was beginning to feel like I should just forgo the cards this year.

I was planning to leave either the evening of the 21st or the morning of the 22nd to return to the farm for Christmas. That morning, I decided I was going to stop trying to do things myself. I had meant to leave work early each day to work on the Christmas cards, but things just kept coming up. So, as I prayed that morning about my frustration with the issue, somehow I was able to let go of it.

I left work that evening around 10pm. I proceeded to go to Michael’s and pick up card stock. I then began to work. I consolidated my list of receivers, created the front and back of the card, and the envelopes. I began the printing of the cards and envelopes while working on the text for the inside of each card. I then printed all of the insides of the cards, and stuffed them into the envelopes. I then delivered all of the cards to co-workers directly to their desks. After this, I went home with a large stack of cards in envelopes arriving home at 7:30AM to see Phil finishing breakfast and getting ready for work. I then proceeded to address and stamp each card. I finished this a little after 9:30AM. I then packed my things for the trip to the farm and proceeded back to work because I left my power adapter there. I stopped by the post office and also returned the excess cards to Michael’s. I was on now beginning the 3.5 hour drive to the farm without any sleep.

After arriving home, I went to dinner with the parents, unpacked, etc. I went to bed at a reasonable hour of 10pm. Throughout the entire endeavor, I was consistently realizing God’s provision in my life. I know that it wasn’t under my power that I was able to work all day and night and the next day without becoming incredibly tired – that’s just not something I can do. Also, the simple fact that everything went smoothly shows that God was involved. I’ve never been able to create Christmas cards in anywhere near 12 hours of time.

Basically, that is the long way of saying that God is good. I feel like He really enjoys it when we rely on him and not ourselves. As I’ve been reading through the history Israel through it’s many kings and wars, God consistently blesses battles when the people rely on him and brings curses when the people attempt to overcome in their own strength. It’s the same with me, each time I find myself attempting to accomplish under my own strength I get frustrated and many times fail. Yet, when I just let go of my ego and pride and all of that self-centeredness for a few moments and rely on God’s provisions, things seems to work out. Hence why my favorite verse is Matt 6:33.

Frustrations, Change, Radical

So, I just finished reading a chapter in “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell. And, well, I got excited, inspired, angry, upset, frustrated, confused, concerned, hurt, and thrilled. So, in case you don’t know, I’m not invincible, some super-person, or any sort of person that is really good at anything. I make mistakes; I try to do right; sometimes I don’t think about what is right. I fail with some things repeatedly because I am weak. I don’t have a clue what the future holds. I don’t care too much about what is in the future actually. I care about who I am now. As you may know, I’m not good at being who I say I am or who I want to be. I hate it. So, I take some “drastic” actions at times. Drastic change is what is needed in my life, right? I mean, I don’t want to keep going on as things are. It’s frustrating, pointless, painful, tiresome, and unfulfilling. I am looking for something more in life, something worth living, something with meaning and purpose – something that excites me to get up each day to live, not something to endure. I’m sick of working, and trying, and pushing, and learning, and everything. It’s time to exist, to be, to live.
Continue reading Frustrations, Change, Radical

Passion only in Obedience

So, the past month has definitely been a time of learning and frustration – mostly frustration, but I am assuming there must have been some learning in there as well. I have been realizing (again) the simple fact that I simply do not really control my life. What I’m getting at here is desire/passion/vision/excitement. What are we without interests? passions? ambitions? Without exciting aspirations, life seems really pointless. Continue reading Passion only in Obedience