starving for substance

Money, It’s a Gas

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 30, 2008

Money controls my life.  I know when I have too much of it and I definitely know when I don’t have enough of it.  While I’ve never been rich by any stretch of the imagination, there have been times when I walked into Best Buy and could have bought almost any single item in that store and not have been worse for wear.  Books, rent, books, and more rent have put me on the opposite side of that spectrum, but from either side of the looking glass, I’ve come to realize what money means to my life.

Money.  Looking at my life, money is truly what I live for.  And not being in a position to get more money leaves me feeling anxious.  Because money is inherently tied to what I sinfully want most in life.  Living simply does not bother me.  If I learned anything about hygiene over the summer, it’s that I can live comfortably on a few shirts, a couple changes of underwear, and a pair of pants.  Showers can come as they may.  However, living simply without money in the bank to ease my psyche and validate my meager existence irks me to no end.

I’ve thought about doing drastic things.  Living homeless for a week.  Over the summer when I was down in Champaign with no roommates, I was extremely close to doing this.  Not many people knew I was down there, no would really miss me, I wouldn’t be gone for too long.  But I chickened out.  I think part of the fact was that I wouldn’t be near my debit card and a steady supply of money.

The people I admire the most in life are the ones that live free.  You know the type I’m talking about.  They bounce paycheck to paycheck, doing what they love to do in life.  The ends usually don’t meet but that’s secondary to the freedom they have.  Those are the people I respect the most.  They conquered what I have never conquered.  They did the impossible.

To me, an idol is something that I put my faith in more than God.  Maybe it’s because money seems more tangible at times, maybe it’s because it validates my Christianity to the world, but whatever the reason, money is where I put my faith.  I’m challenged again and again by the passage in the Bible where Jesus talks of camels, needles, and rich men.

Over the past couple months, I’ve just been looking at the grim reality in my life that Jesus is not enough.  I need Jesus and _______.  It’s been a bitter pill to swallow.  Money continues to be a stronghold in my life.  My thinking right now continues to be “I need Jesus and a couple grand so I can be secure.”  Don’t get me wrong, I know how bad that thinking is, I know how if Jesus is who he is, then the argument doesn’t even make sense.  But I’m selfish and sinful.  Please show me grace while I seek God’s.

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A Glimpse of What’s to Come

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 29, 2008

I was in the process of writing a post when I realized that I had too much to say on a couple things to make a clear entry. So I’m going to break those topics down into a few separate posts. They will be on the topics of:

Money – One thing I’ve been realizing is how much money has taken hold of my life and has really became an idol to me. This has been a rather sickening realization because a year ago, I would have said otherwise and had some very good arguments to back it up besides my reckless idealism.

Mexico – Very rarely have I made a post in this blog that did not include the word “Mexico” in it. While only one person I know of who reads this blog did not actually go to Mexico with me, I feel like for even my beloved teammates, it’d be nice to establish a frame of reference as to what I’m talking about. And for you who did not go, it’d definitely help you understand what I mean when I say “in Mexico.”

Relationships – This is going to be a very short post, just talking about a very profound line said by a wise and powerful man during an epic 11 hour Mexico 2008 reunion.

Consumerism – A Walmart employee died when he was trampled by a Black Friday crowd today. Regardless of your view of Walmart, I think this says a lot about the current state of American consumerism, and probably offers a good reason as to why the rest of the world hates us so much. Do I need to also say that while EMT’s were trying to attend to him, people continued to rush into the store?

Funny youtube videos – Not much explanation needed there…

However, before I end this, I would like to include a little thanksgiving section here. It’s been kind of rough to find things to be thankful because I’m such an American ingrate, but here we go.

CRH 4 – I get the privilege to help lead a small group in some capacity this year, and it’s really been an awesome experience. Being able to be a part of the lives of other people, and see them grow is truly a blessing and one that I tend to overlook amidst the busyness of school. Tuesday is my favorite day of the week, and I’m a little bummed that we only have a little over a semester left together. Watching the Word come alive in someone is one of the most amazing things.

The months of May and June – I basically spent my every waking moment of those two months with 10 other people that I truly see as my family down at Champaign. Due to various reasons, I wasn’t able to get close to many people at CFC, and these 10 people would have been the last I’d have seen as close friends. However, through batting cages, airplanes, pazole, testimonies about love letters, F2C, F2UC, Wendy’s, Walmart, “Bimboletes,” Senora Flores, plazas, dramas, kioskos, estudiantes de intercambio cultural, dancing, and a myriad of other reasons, we somehow found a way to connect. When a few people meet up and have a hard time saying “goodbye” after 11 hours of hanging out on N. Harlem Ave. between Higgins and Belmont, it says a lot.

The Country of Mexico – When I think about this country, and the people in it, I really get moved. I’m honestly right now at a loss for words trying to describe this so I don’t think I will. I just remember after coming back home, seeing a Mexican worker in a restaurant almost made me start crying. Words simply fail right now.

Health – To avoid unnecessary details, I’m just going to say it’s nice to have it back.

Jesus, Bible, family – yada yada yada and all that other obvious stuff 😛 I’m exhausted and going to bed.

Loose Change, Empty Brains

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 18, 2008

Every once in a while there’s a moment where I overhear conversations that continue to make me question U of I’s status as one of America’s better institutions for higher learning.  Usually this happens on a regular basis but every once in a while, I will hear things that just so completely blow my mind I physically gag.  To give a brief example, I was in the undergrad around midnight getting some work done, and this girl walks in with her friends.  They sit at a table and do the usual banter that happens before people buckle down for the night to get their work done.  Then one of them starts complaining about the light in the library.  That’s fine.  Fluorescent lighting isn’t the most comfortable, I understand.  Then I hear this: “I wish there were more windows in here so we could get some natural light.”  For those of you who have not been in the Undergrad Library (UGL), it is completely underground.  But there is also basically a square courtyard in the middle with BIG WINDOWS making up the entire inner wall.  This alone was a stupid comment.  Then there is the one minor detail being that IT’S MIDNIGHT.  If the whole library was made out of glass you’d just be using moonlight, sister.  I mean honestly?  That’s like complaining you’re wet when you take a shower.

But then there’s moments where I just turned the music in my headphones up and prayed that the ground would just swallow them up.  I was standing in line at Chipotle and these two girls are having a conversation.

Girl 1: Oh my gosh, I know, I saw it and there’s just like too many coincidences for it not to be true.
Girl 2: But why would Bush do that?  To go to Iraq?
Girl 1: That’s one of the reasons, but….[volume on headphones goes up]

They were talking about the Loose Change video.  Not the first version, but the second one.  The first one deals with time machines.  I am not making this up.  Watch it.  Now I’m not going to go into great depth on this, but is this seriously the level of thought that our nation puts into things like that?  Bush is portrayed as borderline retarded yet somehow pulls one of the most elaborate terrorist strikes in America’s history?  At least be consistent in your thinking.

I admit, the video is spooky, and if you don’t have any other sources, may even convince you that there was something fishy behind this tragedy.  But don’t just form your opinions off of one piece of information!

If you think that Loose Change (part 2) is true, go here.  It’s basically a minute-by-minute debunking of the entire movie.  http://www.loosechangeguide.com/lcg2.html

Blue

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 16, 2008

Every once in a while, there will be a day when clouds are gone from the sky, the sun is at a certain angle, and the sky turns into this intensely soothing shade of blue.  It’s the type of blue that makes me try ten different sentences in attempts to describe it, but it all fails.  Very few things do this anymore.  But I love when it happens.

The last time the sky was this color, the leaves were changing color and that just seemed to accentuate things.  The beauty of the leaves, the awesomeness of that color blue.  It was moments like these that I wish I had a camera, just to simply capture the sight.  But the more I thought about it, I almost got angry.  There’s no way any man-made device can come close to capturing every emotion that the real thing sends through you.  It seemed like arrogance to even try.

I think that’s the main thing I don’t like about cameras.  Too many times pictures are taken of the mundane, fancy effects are used, and out of something boring, something “artistic” has come.  I hate that.  I feel like it’s lying.

My favorite thing about a picture is when it not only captures the focus, but also all the other details going on around it that help you get a better grasp of the surroundings.  Details that help you immerse yourself into the scene, and in a sense, help you live the moment as if you were not even there.  Not that it doesn’t capture the essence of what is going on, but it adds so much more background information as well.  I like those pictures.

I like the color blue.

The Search for Significance

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 10, 2008

I think that a vast majority of people go through life searching for the point, the purpose, or some kind of significance.  In fact, it’s one of the main philosophical questions of man: “Why am I here?”  We wish to believe that there is a purpose in life, and I think some of it stems from the fact that we don’t want the hardships in life to be for naught, that there is a reason why we go through the things we do.  Sorry if this is some rather base thoughts, I’d just like to use that as a springboard.

Right now, I’m going through a time in life where I feel like I’m being stretched like crazy.  Coming off the spiritual high that was Mexico and entering the gritty life of the world hasn’t exactly been easy, but right now I feel like this is one of the hardest years of my life.  I’m not doing bad spiritually, I still feel like I’m growing in that aspect, but the idea of applying Christianity to every facet of my life has run into some difficulties.

There’s an interesting dichotomy in my life, and it’s something that drives me insane.  There’s the life I have in church and the life I have in school.  In church, I help lead a small group, get to know people, grow in my faith, and see people grow in theirs.  To be in the position to see people in my small group grow is such an incredible privilege, and I love nearly every minute of it.  Then I have my school life.  I sit through classes that I don’t care about, do assignments I don’t know how to do, take tests on material I have no interest in, and generally do poorly.  I think back to a Wednesday night gathering message Pastor Bernie gave over the summer.  I have listened to that thing at least three or four times since and I know pretty much every point he makes.  There is spiritual value in the work we do.  God can be glorified through it.  Be excellent.  Yet I find the work I do in my accounting classes so utterly useless that I can’t even put God as a motive for doing it.

I know that doing something you hate can build character.  I know that studying can be used to glorify God.  I know that I’m called to be a student.  I know that I’m supposed to approach these things with joy because I’m so blessed to even be here in the first place.  I know all of these things.  Yet I’m so stinking selfish that I can’t focus on that, but instead I focus on myself the whole time.  There’s a lot to say about my immaturity and I understand that I have a lot to learn.

Sometimes the longest distance is from the head to the heart.  Or hands for this matter.

I was talking to my mom today and she said “it doesn’t matter how much impact you have on your small group if your attitude about school is bad,” or something close to it.  I thought about it for a while and realized how true it is.  Our life is one whole, not a bunch of separate factors.  If I have a bad attitude in one aspect of my life, that attitude is going to affect other aspects in some way.  It doesn’t mean that my attitude will carry over, but for me, my bad attitude with school leads to procrastination and that clearly affects other areas of my life.

I’m still unraveling this so excuse my ineloquence, but a lot of it boils down to my own blindness and selfishness.  How I’m not willing to endure when the going gets tough, and how I think of all these other justifications for it.  How I can’t see spiritual value in the now, and always focus on the supposed greater works I want to do in the future.  Imagining myself being faithful in greater things when I can’t even be faithful in the little.  So many times I feel like I can turn on my best, that if I need to prepare for small group, then I’ll do my best to gain insight from a passage or come up with the right questions, but I’ll turn it off when it’s about school work.  That’s such crap thinking.  Michael Jordan comes to mind.  The man was so competitive, there’s a story about him going to a friends’ house and playing cards with the friends’ mom.  He was caught cheating.  Over a game of cards.  Used to pass the time.  While it might say something about his integrity, it also says a lot about who he is.  His competitive drive doesn’t have an “off” switch.  He doesn’t stop being competitive when he steps off the basketball court, he tries to win at every little thing he does, in all aspects of his life.  The application here is obvious.

I’m gonna finish with one more thing.

As I was reading through Numbers, there was a passage that completely bowled me over.  The people of Israel had just sent spies into the land of Canaan, the land promised to them by God.  The spies report back, basically talking about the excellence of the land, but also the physical might of the people.  Essentially they were caught up in the greatness of the situation instead of the greatness of their God.  They rebel, lose a battle, and are condemned to wander the desert for another 40 years.  But in the very next passage, God again gives Moses a list of rules that the Israelites must follow when they enter the promised land.  The placement of those two passages absolutely blew me away.  Israel screws up, God punishes them, then God goes about restoring them.  The redemption story is portrayed right there in the span of about a page.  Simply amazing, and again, the application in this situation is obvious.

If you’ve read this, thanks for putting up with the disjointedness and rust.  It’s been a while 🙂

And it still continues

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on November 7, 2008

There is nothing coming out of my mind right now.  Trust me, I’d love to be blogging my thoughts for all the loyal fan(s?) out there, but there is absolutely nothing coming out of my brain that is of substance.  I wish I had ramblings, or at least some organized thought, but everything is still a jumble up there in my head, and everything in terms of life situations resembles a jumble, so once the fog starts to clear, maybe more things will come out.  Until then, Hopkins’ blog has been amazing, and I’m refreshing the page every once in a while hoping the latest part of his series will come out (HINT HINT!).