Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Departure Eve

I leave tomorrow for Thailand, and will arrive there on Thursday, thanks to crossing the international dateline.

It's going to be a long day.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Profoundly Geeky

A few hours ago, I finished watching X-Men: The Last Stand for the second time, and it's only opening weekend. Yes, I am profoundly geeky. But as my Uncle Ben said, "With great power comes great responsibility." I must use my powers for the good of the world, or at least the good of those who read my blog. Here is my geek background commentary on the film.
  • "We Want a Pitcher...". While in the Danger Room, Wolverine has Colossus throw him at a Sentinal, a maneuver known in the comics as the "Fastball Special." This is why the second time that this happens in the film, Wolverine says, "Make it a strike."
  • Throwback Jerseys. Traditional X-Men costume elements can be glimpsed in various ways, such as the blue and yellow stripes in Wolvie's leather jacket, or the maroon color of Magneto's jacket in the Jean Grey background sequence.
  • Triangulation. Love is in the air when teen angst ensues between Iceman/Bobby Drake, Rogue/Marie, and Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde and early thirtysomething angst continues between Cyclops/Scott Summers, Jean Grey/Phoenix, and Wolverine/Logan. Both of these are deeply rooted in Marvel continuity.
  • Hammerin' Hank. Kelsey Grammar and the writers positively nailed the character of Hank McCoy, the Beast. From trademark lines ("Oh my stars and garters") to his feral fighting, the Beast was truly unleashed, and was one of my favorit parts of the film.
  • Storm Warning. Many gripes were heard by the author that actress Halle Berry had star powered her way into a bigger part in the film. Contrary to the complaints, Storm is a historic leader of the X-Men, and beyond that, the on-screen character finally was as explosive as a lightning strike.
  • Race for the Cure. The concept of a mutant cure can be credited as recently to the multi-talented Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, and author of the series, Astonishing X-Men. Issues 1-6 introduce the mutant cure and the chaos that ensues. Whedon's run on the book has established him as one of the greatest X-writers, taking his place alongside Chris Claremont and the omni-present Stan "the Man" Lee.
  • Here, Kitty Kitty? According to Wizard, Summer Glau, who played River Tam in Joss Whedon's Serenity, auditioned for the role of Kitty Pryde. Despite getting tips from Whedon prior to her casting call, she lost the part to Ellen Page. As a big fan of the Serenity, and the T.V. series that launched it, Firefly, I was stoked at the concept of Summer as Shadowcat, but nevertheless, Ellen Page was one of my favorite parts of the movie, playing the character with a perfect mix of innocence and overpowering cuteness.
I could go on, but I'll save some eloquence to wax upon the debut of Spider-Man 3. 'Til then, in the words of Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, "See you in the Funny Books."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Baby Chaco

God willing, I'll be adopting a little baby named "Chaco" before my flight this Tuesday. I think he and his twin brother need a good home. How beautiful on the mountains are the footwear of those who bring good news, eh? (EDIT: I have just been informed that the preceding sentence has been nominated for the Charles W. Draper "It's Like Ripping an Unborn Child from His Mother's Womb" Hermeneutics Award for Outstanding Mutilation of a Serious Scripture Passage. I think I have a legitimate chance at taking home a "Charley.")

Moving on, Mogollon High School had its 2006 graduation exercises tonight. Comparing it to Boyce's commencement is like comparing night and day. I'm thankful that air horns and cat calls are banned under the category of "gestures of congratulations." Thank goodness.

Thailand Countdown: 4.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fearing God

In 1 Chronicles 13, King David decided that the time had come to restore the ark of the covenant from exile and bring it to the tabernacle. All Israel assembled to join him and they went to the place where the ark had been kept; as they brought it up they celebrated with loud and passionate abandon. But then, in the midst of all the hooplah and hosannas, tragedy struck. Uzzah who was helping bring up the ark, reached out and grabbed it so it would not fall off the cart. He did this with the best intentions, but his actions were still sinful. No one was to touch the ark, and God struck Uzzah down in wrath. "David was angry because of the LORD's outburst against Ussah, so he named that place Outburst Against Uzzah, as it is [still named] today. David feared God that day, and sait, "How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?" 1 Chon. 13:11-12.

That's what I feel like from time to time, and today is one of those times. I think of my sin and I wonder; how can I ever be close to God? How can I be in God's presence? How can I be God's friend. The story doesn't end there, though. God shows his love to David in a myriad of ways. He gives him political support (14:1-2), a family (14:3-6), and victory over his enemies (14:8-17). After God did these things for David, David's heart turned towards bringing up the ark again, and this time he did it right. God's blessing rained down on the Israelites as they abandoned themselves to worshipping the LORD. David praised God with a psalm, and said, "Search for the LORD and for His strength; seek His face always." (1 Chon. 16:11). David's mourning was turned to dancing as he came to understand that he could draw near to God, and that God would draw near to him.

We can be close to God, we can be in God's presence, and we can be God's friend because he has shown His great love to us while we were still sinners. And since we are still sinners, we can still know that God loves us. Let us draw near and search for Him and seek His face.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Attack of the Random Thoughts

It's been a while since I've sat down and recorded my life, and the past week has been insane. I'm home in Arizona for a few short days, as I fly to Thailand by way of San Francisco and Hong Kong. The following thoughts have been percolating for a bit.

#1: O'Neals
Last Thursday, I ate dinner with Scott and Emily O'Neal, two friends who I love dearly. Emily cooked up Thai fried chicken with sticky rice, followed by a dessert of sweet rice. I admire these two for many things, but especially admirable is their commitment to live near their church, Immanual Baptist, which, while far from being in "the ghetto," isn't exactly located in beautiful St. Matthews either. Although I hate referring to "the good ole' days" (Ecc. 7:10), but it was awesome to just sit and talk with Scott again, and invaluable to learn some practical helps in Thailand from Emily, who has extensive short term experience there.

#2: 489
I hope to blog as much as possible while in Thailand. For easy reference, all the entries will be prefaced with 489 (as in MS 489, the internship's course code). I was telling John the other night, that I don't want much out of this summer, I just want it to be the most pivotal time of my life. I have an amazing chance to learn first hand from a veteran missionary who does now what I hope to do one day, strategy coordinating for an unreached people group. I can't wait to learn and I hope to record as many reflections as I can here.

#3: Fear and Trembling
While part of me is jumping up and down with excitement over shipping off to Thailand this summer, the other part of me is scared shift. This goes beyond, having to navigate international airports. This is about diving into the deep end of an Olympic-sized pool and barely being able to swim. (In other words, it's like me diving into the deep end of an Olympic-sized pool because I can barely swim.) I've been training for missions for three years now, but it all feels utterly insufficient in the face of reality. I told God a few weeks ago that maybe this is how it's supposed to be: having all the preparation you can but still knowing that it doesn't count for anything if He's not in it. The fear and trembling is compounded by other areas of life.

#4: Arizona and Me
As Southwest 822 swooped in towards the tarmac at Sky Harbor International Airport, I looked outside the small window to my right and saw sights that were immediately beautiful and familiar: the reddish mountains of pure rock that hem and puncture the Valley of the Sun, the sights of cacti, and so forth. I looked out over the sights of the state I claim as my home, only to be greeted by this thought: "I don't belong here." I realized immediately that the statement was true. This is not my home anymore, my family simply lives here. It reminds me of what I once told Toto : "I love my hometown but it doesn't love me." I also came to the realization the other night that my hometown has become for me a place of brokenness, of desperation, a place recently home to severe hurt that has not completely healed. But, it has also been a place of God's mercy and it is that mercy that I hope to see in my seven days till I leave.

#5: Chamber Music
I read the following in My Utmost for His Highest today, and found it encouraging. Consider this the benediction of the post. God is not concerned about our plans; He does not say - Do you want to go through this bereavement; this upset? He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they are making us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us fiends, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God. If we say - "Thy will be done," we get the consolation of John 17, the consolation of knowing that the Father is working according to His own wisdom. When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical. Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Table Before Me

Tonight was easily one of the best of my life. Between dressing up, the fellowship of new friends, the honor of the company of an amazing sister in Christ, there were very few details that I would have changed if I could. Everything just seemed to fall into place: J.V. receiving the Servant Towel, me belting out many a karoke track ("Twist & Shout" + "American Pie" with Buck, and "Wild Thing" as Dr. Chip Collin's backup vocalist), and my date actually enjoying herself. As Jessica and I were driving back to school, I couldn't help but think about how God deserves the glory for this, and what mercy He showed to me tonight. My Boyce formal event history has been an odd one, and often it seems I had fun in spite of the situation, not because of it, but tonight was all-around magical.

O how the Shepherd feeds His sheep. We lack nothing. Even in bad times, we lack nothing. But in the times when it is easier to see the table spread before us (like tonight), all the more should we worship, should we praise, should we see the sovereign hand of God, the hand of the God who rejoices over us with singing.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalms 23:5-6 (KJV)