Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blogger's remorse

I feel so bad in that I have idea after idea that I want to write about, but I usually don't get around to doing it.  Or possibly even worse, I'll start a post I'm very enthusiastic about but in my earnestness, I never get around to finishing it.  Case in point, I have a post that I started two years ago and it's still in the draft stage. Sigh.

Anyways, as this year winds down, I'd like to take this time to announce that I will be tweeting on my Twitter account regularly.  However, it's nothing to get excited about.  I've had Twitter for a few years now (and I have followers, though I've never tweeted anything or told anyone about my account...strange), but it was more for just reserving my name.  But as long as there's useless crap on the internet, I'm going to add my fill to it and that's what my Twitter is going to be about. Uselessness.

And just to end on something random, these are my favourite socks at the moment:

I bought them in a pack of six.  Initially, I was just really keen on wearing the blue and green ones, which I did, and they are actually very, very worn out now (thin material along the business areas and holes developing), but lately, I absolutely LOVE the pink, orange, and yellow coloured socks.  I try to dress as plain as possibly, in neutral to dark colours most of the time, and I think deep down it's a thrill to me when I'm wearing a shocking bright colour on a part of my body that is for the most part hidden.  And then, if I'm sitting down or squatting or something and my pant leg rides up a bit, then BAM!  Multi-coloured ankle surprise!  Man, I am so weird.

Gas has been in the 132.9¢/litre range.  Bugger.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Pointless Post #91 - Pop Culture with Grandparents Edition

Back in June 2009 when I was visiting family in Malaysia with my sister, we were at my great-aunt's home and she semi-randomly suggested, "Hey, let's call your grandmother in Australia! We're from the same village you know. I haven't talked to her in ages."  My sister and I agreed. We hadn't talked to our grandmother in a long time too.  And for the record, I'm doing this from memory so most of this is paraphrased and translated from hokkien, the regional Chinese dialect.

[dialing phone and ringing on the other end]


"Hello? ...um, hey, hi Ah Ma! How are you? This is your grandson, Timothy.  I think Dad already told you, but Older Sister and I are in Penang right now.  We're at Great-Aunt's house. I didn't know you two were from the same village!"

"...ehhh? Aaah, Timothy? Did you hear? Michael Jackson just died today!"

I was completely caught off guard.  And then, I burst out laughing, not at the fact that a great musician died, but at the fact that this was the first thing my grandmother decided to say to me after not having talked to her for a few months.

[covering the phone]  "Ah Ma just informed me that Michael Jackson died!"

[family also laughs at the absurdity of the way the conversation just turned]

"Hahaha...um, I'm doing fine, thanks Ah Ma!"

[turning to my sister]  "Here, she wants to talk to you now."

I doubled over laughing.  I did end up speaking to her a bit more after that, but man oh man, for some reason I never ever thought that my at the time 81(?) year old grandmother would ever give me current news like that.

Gas has gone down to 125ish and I even saw it for 123.9¢/litre tonight.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Upgrading to a smartphone before 2014

I've had my Nokia 1208 hockey puck dumbphone since December 2008.  I had just dumped Virgin Mobile for hiking their rates and cutting back on the expiry of air time credit and switched over to SpeakOut 7-Eleven Canada.  It's been a solid five years that I've been on their pay-as-you-go plan and I've been really happy, both with the phone and the service.  SpeakOut piggybacks off the Rogers wireless network.

Here's my phone as of tonight:

My good ol' Nokia 1208, bought from a 7-Eleven.

Side by side with a Kinder suprise egg capsule for comparison.
I've been thinking of upgrading my phone more seriously ever since coming back from Romania last year, where I met senior citizens from the countryside who had better phones than me.  Also, there are a few key things that a smartphone would have that would make life a bit more convenient, namely a camera and maps/GPS.

Once upgrading to a smartphone however, I will miss being able to brag about having the crappiest phone amongst a group of friends.  Every now and then, different people will pull out their phones to compare cases or something trivial and I'll pull out my trusty, sad looking 1208 and throw it in the mix (sometimes literally).  The comments are always amusing, usually more so with teenagers who barely remember phones like mine.  I will miss the flashlight that's on the top of the phone.  I use that a lot.  I will miss the battery life, as a single charge (2 hours or less..maybe faster? I'm not sure) can last me several days (~5 or so, but it used to be longer, though it's gradually been decreasing in the past year).

I will also miss the cost in savings.  It has been costing me 25¢/minute to speak and 10¢/outgoing text messages and because I more or less still use my phone like a pager, I've been averaging a total cost of about $100/year (before tax) in the past two years.  I've challenged kids at our church's youth group to throw my phone across the gym to show how durable it is, I've dropped it countless times on cement/hard flooring when my friends make comments about accidentally dropping their own smart phone and cracking a fragile screen, and I've stick handled my Nokia 1208 during ball hockey, just because.  It's been a good run.

Lumia 520 photo
Nokia Lumia 520 courtesy of:
Nokia Lumia 620 courtesy of:
I've been leaning towards getting a Lumia 520 or 620 because I feel loyal to Nokia, as their phones have served me well in the past 8 years and I also have fond memories of playing "Snake" on my cousins' Nokia phones way back in 2000, when it seemed like everyone ONLY had Nokia phones.  The Lumia 520/620 have been called budget smartphones and entry-level smartphones and with the cost of the phone being ~$150 or less, depending on where you get it from, it looks to be very reasonable with the features offered.  I don't need anything fancy.

I am undecided on what plan and provider I will be using as there are SO many choices and combinations to look at.  It's been slightly overwhelming because I want to get the cheapest plan possible, with the most value.  The only thing I know for sure is that I don't plan on paying for data because I don't want to turn into the person who's always checking their phone.  I don't want to be constantly reliant on my phone either, but I guess I'll only know that about myself once I upgrade.

EDIT - November 30, 2013:  So after much consideration, I have tentatively planned to go with WIND Mobile on their $30/month plan where I would get unlimited province-wide talk (airtime/minutes), unlimited Canada-wide text (including picture and video), and unlimited data, without a contract.  However, both the Nokia Lumia 520/620 are not compatible with the WIND frequency in Canada.  There is however, a US-specific Lumia 521 (under T-Mobile in the US) which IS compatible with WIND and sells for for $99 USD (without contract), but if I bought it, I'd have to unlock it to be able to use it in Canada for an extra estimated cost of $40, plus the purchase of a new WIND SIM card (another $25).  Interestingly enough, Future Shop, as a part of their Black Friday sale, is selling the Lumia 520 (under Telus, without contract) for $90 and the 620 for $80.  The Lumia 520 and 521 are essentially the same phone.  Fun fact: I originally paid ~$100 for my Nokia 1208 way back in December 2008.  Sigh. Too many choices and variables now.  Also, Canada once again getting shafted by the wireless telecom industry.


In other Tim-news, a few weeks ago I started ending off my showers with a sudden switch to cold water.  Just before I'm about to finish bathing, I'll switch from a warm, luxurious hot to an ice cold rinse for about 30 seconds and then shut everything off.  I find that my extremities and face tend to get cold fastest.  It's so invigorating.  Apparently it's good for the skin and for improving circulation.  It's quite fun.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lance, the Taco Dog

I feel slightly guilty for not posting anything in so long.  Firstly, gas has been down in recent weeks to 129.9¢/litre and I saw it going for 128.6 yesterday.

I put up five new Spider-Man pictures a while back, and here's two of them:

Spider-Man checks out the view on the Second Narrows Bridge
Crossing the Second Narrows Bridge
Spider-Man loves slow, semi-rainy, overcast days with short lines at Playland!
At Playland, at the PNE. yeah!

When my dog sleeps in his bed, I like folding the bed in half because it makes him look like a taco. It always cracks me up.  It's a TACO DOG! XD

At rest, in his bed.

Now we fold the bed over in half...

...and BAM! TACO DOG!

Mmmm, delicious... 8^D

In other news, I went to the Salvation Army Thrift Store a few days ago to find costume ideas and I found two Herb Alpert records that I bought for $2.  Whipped Cream & Other Delights and What Now My Love. Oh man was I happy, and they sound great!

Oh yeah, I`ve picked and bought a costume that I'm going to be wearing on Halloween. This has got to be the first time in my life that I've actually thought out, planned in advance (over two weeks now ), and am looking forward to wearing a costume on this unofficial holiday.  I used to hate Halloween as a kid, but more on this in another post.

And now to end on something truly random, this has got to be my most favourite commercial on TV right now.  It's a DANCING BEE! XD

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why I Had Long Hair

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

 Ecclesiastes: 1:2

That verse pretty much sums up why I had long hair and why I continued to grow it despite questioning and opposition from family and friends.  Their opinions amused me.  It’s my hair, why do they think they have the right to have any input of how I want to present myself (perhaps its because they will be the ones looking at me, haha)?  Also, having long hair is really fun to have.  It was something I’d always thought that would be really cool to have and then it dawned on me that I’d have to start somewhere.

It all started on December 25, 2010.  I was sitting around with family, talking after Christmas dinner and I realized that I was due for a haircut soon.  My usual routine would be to go and get a haircut when my hair was starting to look shaggy and/or bowl-like (typically 6 to 8 weeks) and my last one had been about seven weeks ago (Nov 4).  Two months was about the maximum time I could postpone getting a haircut before my own hair would annoy myself.

But while digesting turkey and other foods, I was talking to my sister about what potential styles I could do with my hair.  She suggested, as she always did whenever she knew I getting a haircut, that I should shave it all off.  But I remember looking at pictures of Hiroyuki Sanada from The Last Samurai, showing it to her, and I wondered to myself, could I pull that off?  Can I grow a mane so lush and manly that I too can look like a samurai returning from battle?  I was determined to find out.  My sister started to find more pictures of guys with long hair and was very supportive of my head covering endeavours.

And that’s pretty much why I started to grow my heart out.  As my hair became longer, different reasons developed as to why I would continue to grow it and also spur me on, but that’s for another post.

My inspiration:

And then me:

I laughed. You should too.  8^p

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pointless Post #90 - Stuff I'll Never Say Again Edition

Location: East Vancouver residential alley way
Time: 3:30pm

Me: Hi....is this your toilet?
Her: Yes.  Thank you.
Me: [takes toilet]

....aaaaand end scene.

Gas has been in the 140s.  I got it for 139.9 a few days ago but now its back to 144.9¢/litre.  The news says Vancouver pays the highest price for gasoline in all of North America currently.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pointless Post #89 - Self-Checkout Stupidity Edition

Last week when I was playing floor hockey, I suited up to play in net because one of our usual goalies was a little bit late. I played two games, the last of which was horrible.  After he arrived, there were now three of us, and so we rotated playing in net to keep our energy up.  I was really motivated for my third game to try harder.  That is, until the two other goalies told me I could take off my equipment and that it wasn't necessary for me to play in net anymore.  They were being gentle with me.  A player from the sidelines was observing what was happening, looked at me and said, "HAHA, Tim just got Schneider'd!"

Ugh, that hurt.

Oh yeah, last night, I saw a mother and her daughter trying to scan an onion at the self checkout at Superstore.  AN ONION. TWICE.

Gas has been up and down in the 140s and rising.  I saw it 151.7¢/litre the other day. That made me mad.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Historymaker and Winnipeg

In March 2003, I went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip with my high school. That May, I went to Kelowna for my first Historymaker, "Dream."

Fast forward 10 years later...

In October 2012, I went to Romania on a missions trip with my church.  This May I went to Chilliwack for Historymaker 2013, "The Cause."

Teenagers have too much energy. And they are loud.  I also really love the kids at my church.

At the beginning of this month, I went to Winnipeg for about two days to catch up with friends and attend a wedding. It was kickbuttocks.  Winnipeg is a nice city, but it's hard to compare it to Vancouver, no offense "Friendly Manitoba."  Westjet is a decent airline carrier and I approve of the Canuck jab/trash talk the steward made over the intercom during the safety instructions. I had a good chat with that man and it turned out he was a Blackhawks fan.  On that return flight, I left 7am Sunday morning Winnipeg-time and landed about 8am Vancouver-time, more than enough time to get to church early by transit.

Oh and naturally, I took Spider-Man along and took 16 new pictures.  Below is a sample:

Spider-Man by the Red River, at The Forks in Winnipeg, MB
Near The Forks

Spider-Man outside the MTS Centre

Spider-Man in Winnipeg
Prairie trash, yo

Spider-Man outside the U of M administration building
Higher learning

I have a lot of posts I need to finish.  Ideas swirl in my head and I'll start to write them, but I tend to put them on the back burner.  Some of them date back as far as two years ago.  Hopefully I'll get around to them soon. 

EDIT: I just noticed I've been getting a ton of hits on my old October 2005 posts, which started two days ago.  A large majority of these visits have been coming from the Middle East, but Syria in particular. Can someone enlighten me?  Who is linking me from Facebook?

Gas hit a a high of 149.9¢/litre a few weeks ago, and then went down to 145.9.  In Chilliwack, it was 10¢ cheaper.  Apparently the Lower Mainland pays 49¢ in taxes for gasoline.  In Winnipeg at the start of June, it was about 138.9, while Vancouver's gas was in the mid 140s.  It's currently fluctuating between 139-140ish.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pointless Post #88 - Neighbourhood Scent Edition

When walking through residential streets, there's the odd time when I'll be able to smell the scent of fresh laundry wafting from certain houses and when that happens, I like to guess what brand of laundry detergent is being used.  It's very relaxing.

In other news, I took nine new Spider-Man poses pictures a few weeks ago, all in the Vancouver area.  Stanley Park, English Bay, and halfway up Cypress mountain.  New pics start here with preview below.  There are live animals in one of the pictures.

Spider-Man at Brockton Point, with the North Shore mountains

Spider-Man with the laughing statues at English Bay

Spider-Man at the High View Lookout

Gas has been in the 133.9 - 136.9¢/litre range.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Pointless Post #87 - Cheap Sermon Edition

If my cheapness can be used as an illustration in a sermon, during a Sunday morning service, to the glory of God, and then immediately after being dismissed someone gives me a free cupcake, that has to be prophetic.

Gas has been in the high 139-140 for a while, but is about 134.9¢/litre right now.

Monday, April 01, 2013

No more HST = Tim needs a haircut

To those who see me on a regular basis, I've often made the old joke that I'd get my hair cut short again when the HST was repealed and since that day was today......BAM!

I think it's going to take a few days to get used to.  Also not needing to tie up my hair before I do anything and using less amounts of shampoo when I wash my hair.  Take that Gordon Campbell.

EDIT: I've realized that of all my past haircut posts, this is the most drastic yet.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"I got more rhymes than the Bible's got Psalms"

This is a prominent quote written more than twenty years ago by the American poet Erik Francis Schrody.  Schrody, aka Everlast, was the front man for the hip hop group House of Pain, where they rapped this line in their 1992 single, "Jump Around."

I've always enjoyed this song, ever since I first heard it in a scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, where Daniel throws a surprise party for his son.  Whenever I'm driving alone and this song comes up on my mp3 player, I like to pretend I'm the baddest, toughest, Irish American hooligan I know and throw it down as loud and as gangsta as I can (within reason, I don't want people staring at me).

However, this quote has always bugged me because I don't think it's true.  The Bible has 150 Psalms.  Schrody probably means that as a whole, as long as he has breath in his lungs, he'll be able to make more than 150 rhymes in his life, but ambiguity rules and I always thought he meant that he has more than 150 rhymes in this one song.

So to satisfy my curiosity, I've decided to find out the exact number of rhymes and number all of them in "Jump Around."  I've decided to be generous and include rhymes that used the same word (eg. "up" and "up") as well as duplicate rhymes, for example when the chorus is repeated throughout the song.  Repeated phrases were counted at discretion.  An asterisk denotes the start of the rhyme scheme.  You have been warned.

Verse 1

Pack it up, pack it in*
Let me begin1
I came to win2
Battle me that's a sin3
I won't tear the sack up*
Punk you better back up4
Try and play the role* and yo, the whole5 crew will act up6
Get up7, stand up8 (Come on!)
Come on, throw your hands up9
If you've got the feeling*
Jump up touch the ceiling10
Muggs is a funk* fest,
Someone's talking junk11, yo*
I'll bust 'em in the eye
And then I'll take the punks12 home13
Feel it, funk it14
Amps in the trunk15

And I got more rhymes than there's cops at a Dunkin'16
Donut shops17
Sure 'nuff I got props18
From the kids on the Hill
Plus my mom and my pops19


I came to get down*
I came to get down20
So get out your seat and jump around21
Jump around22
Jump around23
Jump around24
Jump up, jump up and get down25
Jump [x17]

Verse 2

I'll serve your _ss like John MacEnroe*
If your girl steps up, I'm smackin' the ho26
Word to your moms*
I came to drop bombs27
I got more rhymes than the Bible's got Psalms28
And just like the Prodigal Son I've returned*
Anyone stepping to me you'll get burned29
'Cause I got lyrics, but you ain't got none*
If you come to battle bring a shotgun30
But if you do* you're a fool31
'Cause I duel32 to the death*
Try and step to me you'll take your last breath33
I gots the skill*
Come get your fill34
'Cause when I shoot to give, I shoot to kill35


I came to get down*
I came to get down36
So get out your seat and jump around37
Jump around38
Jump around39
Jump around40
Jump up, jump up and get down41
Jump [x17]

Verse 3

I'm the cream of the crop*
I rise to the top42
I never eat a pig 'cause a pig is a cop43
Or better yet a terminator*
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger44
Try'n to play me out like as if my name was Sega45
But I ain't goin' out like no punk b_tch*
Get used to one style and you know I might switch46
It up, up and around*
Then buck, buck you down47
Put out your head* then you wake up in the Dawn of the Dead48
I'm comin' to get ya*, comin' to get ya49
Spitting out lyrics homie I'm wit' ya50


I came to get down*
I came to get down51
So get out your seat and jump around52
Jump around53
Jump around54
Jump around55
Jump up, jump up and get down56
Jump [x33]

Grand Total of Jumpin' Rhymes: 56

1. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible.
2. There are 56 rhymes in "Jump Around."
3. 150 > 56
4. Therefore, Everlast does not have more rhymes than the Bible has Psalms.

Saw gas for 138.5¢/litre.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Dear God, please give me a heads up before making me weep in public

There's something about learning a little bit more of who God is that causes me to react in a reverential way.  There is also something about knowing a bit more of His heart and what He values and cherishes, because it’s so powerfully intimate and awe-inspiring, but yet I feel so unworthy to be able to have this greater sense of what He cares about.  At the same time, there’s something about being knocked off my high horse with a holy backhand and being humbled in a very public setting that causes me to shut up, take a few steps backward, and remember that God is very big and I am very, very tiny.

I went to the Vancouver Convention Centre for Missions Fest last, last weekend (January 26, 2013).  It was the 30th anniversary and felt quite similar to Missions Fests I’d been to in years past (my last visit was in January 2008).  I had been anticipating this visit for about two weeks now, I think partially due to my recent trip to Romania this past October with my church.  Also, foreign missions is always fascinating and exciting to me.  Who doesn’t like an excuse to travel?

I headed straight for the exhibit hall where all the different organizations had their booths and information tables setup.  And for some unexplained reason, I became very self-righteous and started to look at everything critically and cynically.  I felt like I was at a type of Christian tradeshow, minus the gimmicky attractions and obnoxious sales pitches.  Actually, I remember one year where a Wii was setup at a booth and visitors could play Wii Sports.  This was when the Wii had just come out and it was still new and exciting.  I walked through the floor, past each exhibit, reading the title of the organization on signs above the displays.  If the organization didn’t sound interesting (which was most of them) or if I didn’t recognize the name (which was most of them) I barely gave a glance and just kept walking.  It felt like 25% of the displays in the hall were for some camp or retreat centre.  How are we supposed to reach the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ if all we’re doing is spending the weekends in the boonies, singing praise songs around a campfire?  More pretentious and arrogant thoughts continued to fill my heart, as if I had any right to make those kinds of judgements.  Silly Tim.

It was nearing 2pm, so I went next door to the hall where the plenary sessions were being held.  Basically, it’s a big room with a theatre style arrangement; a raised stage at the front, projectors and screens to see video/words/etc off to the sides of the stage, and seats facing towards the stage/screens.  I listened to a bunch of Korean ladies in colourful hanboks sing old hymns (in Korean) as I flipped through the Missions Fest guide to see what I could be expecting.  I skimmed through the speaker’s biography:
Gracia Burnham is the widow of Martin Burnham…For 17 years she and Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot …While celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary…the Burnhams were kidnapped…During their 376 days of captivity, they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, cold-hearted murder-and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them…On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed. Gracia was wounded, but was freed.
At least this lady sounded interesting.

My cynical attitude persisted as the session started.  I critiqued and became bored at the super slow, predictable worship set list.

This song will be played through as Verse 1, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus...NEXT.  [pause] Ugh, great, now an even older, slower song? I said in my head (of course).

Everything felt rehearsed and choreographed so that there could be no chance of anything fun or lively taking place.  People kept filing in late and a middle aged couple sat in the seats beside me.  They seemed like rigid, uptight, white collar people.

They’re probably Methodists, I thought.

Announcements were made to inform guests about other boring things that were taking place during Missions Fest.  I rolled my eyes and sighed under my breath a few times.  A six minute video was played to introduce the speaker, Gracia Burnham.  The techie inside of me screamed at the A/V team as the video’s sound crackled and became echo-y.  Someone’s fader on the sound board was way too high, distorting the voiceover and music. *headdesk*

Finally, Gracia took to the stage.  There was nothing about her that made her stand out, except perhaps her American, central accent.  She could be standing in a crowd of people and go unnoticed.  She shared her experiences and stories effortlessly and simply, just as she had done hundreds of times before, at only God knows how many other speaking engagements she’s attended.  I politely listened for the duration of her talk, until about the last 5-10 minutes.  I felt a weird feeling in my chest and the love in Gracia’s voice gripped me.  The love she still had for God despite all her loss and suffering in devotion to Him and the love she came to have for her captors and their spiritual well being, even as they sit in prison to this day for what they did against her and her husband.  It’s a love that was so genuine and earnest.

It was almost like I was starting to understand not just mentally, but emotionally, the pain and distress the Burnhams faced, as a direct result of their faith.  I felt my eyes begin to water, but I forced my tears back.  There is definitely no way I'm letting myself cry in a room full of hundreds of people...at Missions Fest of all places!  In her conclusion, Gracia asked a number of difficult, rhetorical questions she struggled with, which launched echoes of the same questions and even more in my mind.

Why do some people live in poverty, while others in immense wealth?
Why do some people hear the gospel over and over and over again and fail to respond to that message, while others are dying to even get a chance to hear about it?
Why did they have to be kidnapped and go through such stress, discomfort, and pain?
Why did their kids have to lose their dad like this?
Why where they called to suffer and go through this ordeal and not someone else?
These happenings and losses are devastating. And they’re depressing!  How can Gracia still talk about God’s love and faithfulness?
Why do I, in comparison to them or others in similar or worse situations, have it so good?
Why aren’t I suffering now?
Will I ever have to suffer like this? 
Will I be able to persevere and trust God or will I curse Him and wish for death?

Gracia ended her time of sharing, one of the hosts dismissed the crowd, and everyone streamed out of the hall.  I gave into the weird feeling in my chest as I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore.  They rolled down my face as I sniffled loudly.  I hunched over in my chair and hung my head so that I could hide my face with my hands and so that I wouldn’t cry all all over my clothes. Sigh.

I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t stop it either.  I was so convicted.  I felt like an utter fool for my thoughts and judgmental attitude just moments before.  I thanked God through my tears for Gracia’s testimony as I told Him how sorry I was.  I also kept asking, Why?  What if God calls me to this kind of suffering?  Will I be able to endure it? These questions struck me hard.  Other than my occasional sniffle, I was silent, but it was pretty obvious that I was crying. 

A pair of teenage girls sat at the end of my row chatting with each other.  After drying my face and making myself look as decent as possible, I stood up quickly and exited the row from the opposite side where the girls were sitting, because they were blocking that way.  I wanted to avoid human contact as much as possible.  I had initially planned to attend a seminar following this plenary session, but it was just announced that copies of Gracia Burnham’s book, In the Presence of My Enemies, were being made available for sale and that she would be signing them.  I walked towards that part of the room so that I could buy the book and leave, but as I was trying to find where the start of the book sale line was, one of the girls that was in my row came up to me and asked, “Excuse me…are you going to be ok?”

“Huh? Yeah I’m fine now thanks. I don’t know how to explain it. God is good, right?” I replied hurriedly, somewhat startled and very red-eyed.  I acknowledged her concern with an awkward smile and she returned it.  I bought a copy of Gracia’s book and promptly left the hall.

Haha God, You're hilarious.

After coming home later that day, I pretended like nothing happened and didn’t even start reading Gracia's book until a few days later.  But since that time, up until this very moment, the same questions keep going through my mind and I’m still convicted.  Will I ever have to suffer like this?  Would I even be ready?  How much am I really willing to sacrifice for God?

A few months ago, I gave a brief talk to the youth at our church, which I ironically titled “You Will Suffer” (as if I have any experience in "suffering").  In my slides, I highlighted these verse (underlinings added):
Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.   
Hebrews 11:35-38 (NKJV)
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
                            2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)
The verses speak for themselves, don’t they?  There is nothing symbolic or mystical about those descriptions.  It’s a simple, plain, and written as fact.  This is what happened.  This will happen.

In her book, Gracia describes a time in college when a drama was performed during their chapel service.  The students told the story of “Through Gates of Splendor” (based on the book of the same name by Elisabeth Elliot) where five missionaries were killed in 1956 by Huaorani tribe members in Ecuador.

Gracia writes (p.27):  
I stood up to leave the chapel that day, unable to say a word.  Will the Lord ever require me to do what those men did? to go through what they went through?  I was stunned.  I slowly headed out the door, tears streaming down my face.
Hmmm, that scenario sounds familiar.  Then again, we do worship the same God.


Why was Stephen stoned to death?  Why was Paul shipwrecked and beaten X amount of times?  Why were the Burnhams kidnapped and why was Martin killed?  Why all this suffering?  It hurts so much and causes so much grief in the long run that it doesn’t seem to make sense.  If Jesus suffered the most excruciating of tortures and paid the ultimate penalty for my personal wrongdoings by being crucified, but then was raised back to life by God’s victorious resurrection power, what does our suffering mean today?

I don’t have a definitive answer, but as far as I can tell, I think its so that whoever has experienced it first hand can still say that no matter what, God is still faithful even unto the end.  Despite all the pain along the way, if God is unchanging, He has to be faithful.  And that means that someone like me can’t just marvel at these things, but I have to learn and apply it for myself one day.  Because I will suffer.  Jesus said “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20 NKJV).  Time to man up.  And always carry tissues.

Note: February 9, 2013 - just read Psalm 88, man oh man...

Friday, February 08, 2013

Pointless Post #86 - Desiring Holiness Edition

Instead of playing it safe and using the stairs (a flight of four stairs to be exact), I tried sliding down a handrail, but failed.  The back of my tshirt got caught on the top of the handrail and I ripped a hole right through it as gravity took over.  Thankfully, I was still able to land on my feet. 

Notice how the seams held up, but the fabric didn't?

Insert nationalistic, self-deprecating comments about where the tshirt was manufactured here

Gas was in the mid 120s for what seemed like most of December-January, but it recently went up to the 130s and I saw 135.9¢/litre yesterday. Evil.