starving for substance

It is What it Is

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 24, 2008

As of late, this is probably one of my favorite things to say.  It makes me sound deep and philosophical without having to explain anything.  Try it sometime.  When you have to explain something that you really don’t feel like going into detail about, just stop yourself mid-sentence, stare off into space, sigh, and say “I dunno.  It is what it is.”  People will respect you more.

Classic example:
Random person:  Hey Steve, how’s the job search?
Me:  I don’t know.  It’s tough with this economy.  [Shrugs shoulders and sighs] It is what it is, y’know?
Random person [not quite comprehending but not wanting to look dumb]: Yeah…

The beauty of this phrase is that it’s a total conversation killer.  If you want to stop talking about whatever the topic is, just say this phrase and 99.9% of the time, the person talking to you will have no response.  There is absolutely no follow up to this that makes any sense whatsoever.  This phrase makes you sound like you just explained everything that there is to be explained and any further explanation is just redundant.  Another good example:

Person: Hey Steve, how’s coserving going?
Me:  It’s good.  It is what it is, y’know?
Person: Yeah…

Upon further analysis, it actually is what it is.  The definition of whatever was asked in the question is the answer the person is seeking.  “How’s accounting?”  Accounting is accounting.  There is nothing further to explain about the topic, it is merely accounting.  So accounting is what it is.

To summarize, this phrase is a really good way to answer questions you have no idea how to answer, but not make yourself look like a complete idiot.

Song of the day:  The Seed by The Roots.  If you are not grooving while listening to this song, you are not human.

And as for the lyrics, it is what it is.

[Edit]
Lastly, Matthew 6:19-21.

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Books, Exercise and Other Plans

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 22, 2008

This break is actually going to be surprising busy.  I’ve got a stack of about 10 books I’m intending to get through, topics ranging from A Beginner’s Guide to Short-Term Trading to Secrets of Mental Math.  I’ll write a book review for every book I read to help me retain what I read so I’m not just binging through these books thus nullifying the reason to read them.

I also plan on working out fairly regularly, trying to lose these freaking 10 pounds I’ve been trying to lose since senior year…of high school.  I have gained zero pounds in four years.  Suck on that, freshman fifteen.

I’m also going to have to be a small group leader at a couple retreats.  That should be interesting.  Maybe I’ll spout controversial bits of theology like “Being a Christian makes you immune to sin.”  Did I say ‘controversial?’  Sorry, I meant ‘completely wrong,’ also known as “Adin’s.”  😀

Lastly, I want to try and improve my Korean.  I think this is a lost cause.  I watched “Shiri” the other day, and why does every Korean movie have to have some sappy underlying love story that is actually one of the main points in the movie?  It’s always a complicated love, not always ending with Leukemia, but usually involving a plot twist with crrraaazzzy results.  My theory is that with the extreme masculinity of Korean male culture, this is just their release by vicariously living the dreams they secretly have.  But anyways, I’m going to consider me improving my Korean up there with me making it to the NBA.  Oh well.

I know that was a pretty stupid and pointless entry.  I’ve got a lot of “substance” entries floating in my head, but you know how those go.  As in they don’t leave my head.  But I’ll leave with this thought.

I was talking to a friend today and she talked about most social workers being in the field to mainly feel better about themselves.  Looking at the accounting profession, most accountants are in it strictly for the money.  Except for the few who genuinely care about the stakeholders in the company they audit.  These are only found in fairy tales, so the point is moot.  My question is: in a field so filled with altruism as social work is, when compared to a field with so much naked greed as business is, does it really matter when both parties are in it just for their own selfish gain?  I’m not talking about redeeming, I’m talking about purely selfish motives.  Even when people are being directly influenced by social workers who do it so they feel better about themselves, does that make the field better than business where people improve their own situations with no noticeable positive impact on the lives of others?  I would say no, this makes social work more noble, but then again I’m so influenced by the thoughts of others.  Objectively speaking, the motive is all that matters, in which case both are equally bad.  So I guess my main question is actually this.  When something done selfishly has inherently redeeming qualities about it, does that make it better than something done selfishly where no good can be seen coming out of it?

My Favorite YouTube Vidoes

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 19, 2008

As promised, here are some excellent YouTube videos, including my favorite video on the entire internet.

Also, please note that a lot of these clips have language that’s probably not for kids.

First up, this little mashup of 300.  Remixed to “It’s Raining Men.”  I have not watched this movie since seeing this clip, it’s that powerful.

Next is this trailer for Mary Poppins, if it was a horror movie. I think it’s pretty clever.

Now I absolutely love Star Wars, there was a period in high school where I had most of the extended universe books read. I also really like gangsta rap. Just something about poppy beats and guns that gets me going in the mornings. So when I found that someone combined those two things, I was pretty stoked.

And when I found that there was a part 2, I was even happier.

[Note] If you like Star Wars, Robot Chicken did two insanely good episodes that have plenty of humor only Star Wars nerds/geeks/losers would know.  They’re amazing.  Here’s the link to one of them:  www.adultswim.com/shows/robotchicken/extras/ivc/starwars/index.html.  Chapter 1, with 1:15 to go is my personal fav.

This video just cracks me up every time.

And this is the funniest video on YouTube, hands down. Language is not good. In many, many, many ways.

Enjoy…

Change of Plans

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 18, 2008

So I tried to write that post I intended to write on consumerism in our culture and just couldn’t do it without sounding like an embittered hypocrite so I’m not going to write that.

The entry on relationships I’m just going to deem as irrelevant for now, but is a good discussion topic. Ever consider the fact that you have too many standards? Ever consider just having one?

Funny youtube videos will be coming shortly. Sorry for the changes in regularly scheduled programming.

Water, Wine, and Genies

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 12, 2008

The other day I did a quiet time on Jesus turning the water into wine, and it really was one of those paradigm shifting moments. So many times I look at Jesus as some sort of genie in a bottle. If I get caught in a tough spot, ask Him for help and He’ll make everything better. Anyone with any experience on this matter knows that this doesn’t work very often. Looking at this passage was a nice reminder and eye opener at the same time.

Just imagine the scene. The host of the wedding party probably looked like an idiot. He planned this elaborate feast, tons of guests came, everyone was probably having a grand ol’ time, heck, even the Son of God managed to show up. And then the wine ran out. Oops. To compare this to a modern day situation, I’m guessing this is like running out of fireworks on the 4th of July.

When Mary tells Jesus about the situation, His response is interesting. “What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”  My take?  “Mom, c’mon.  This isn’t my job.”  Now there are two ways to go with this, but I’ll leave obedience for people with more theological training than me (read: anyone). Sure, Jesus loved the guy, but this wasn’t what He came to Earth to do. He didn’t come to save some wedding planner’s reputation; He came to save the guy from his sins. So many times I’ve gotten mad at God, wondering where my job was, where my grades and motivation went. My rationale was “God, I’m serving you in ______, I’m doing ______ (which is obviously Christian), where’s my reward?” At this point, I’m sure God is shaking His head and calling me an idiot in the most loving way possible. “Steve, do you think I sent Jesus to save you from the struggles of homework? Do you really think that what you want now is important than the sins of the world?” Instead of responding with frustration when I don’t get what I want, I need to respond with thankfulness for what I already have. God already gave me salvation, everything else I get in life is gravy.

Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 11, 2008

Oh my, where to begin with this.  To put it briefly, this trip changed my life.  They say that with the Mexico team is usually the one that is impacted the most by SMP, and I think there’s a strong case for it.

I thought about a few ways to recap this trip.  Going through my journal, if I were to give a play-by-play, it’d be a book and not a blog post.  So if you ever want a more in depth account of things that happen, lemme know and I’ll be happy to go into detail with you.  But for the purposes of this blog, I think it will be best if I just summarize a few key lessons I learned.

Prayer is ministry.  Sure, we did skits till we memorized the soundtrack for them, certain people shared testimonies till we had them memorized, we did bridge diagrams until even the occasional donkey would have one explained to him, but in the end, prayer is the ministry.  Prayer isn’t something that plays a support role, it’s the ministry itself.  If you’re not praying for the people you’re meeting, talking to, building relationships with, then you’re essentially doing nothing for them.  Especially with the type of drive by evangelism we were doing, reaping the fruit was something we very rarely got to do.  By God’s grace, we were able to see some very rapid turnarounds, but in the end, all we could do was pray for the seeds we planted.

You cannot love without God.  There was one rooftop conversation that I will never forget.  A wise man challenged me to stop giving from myself but give because I feel convicted by God’s love.  My interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 saw it as me giving my love to others.  That if I didn’t love people, then my actions for them were empty.  This all changed.  If I don’t feel God’s love in me, then in the end I’m going to run out, feel dry and powerless.  I cannot give to people the way God gives to people.  A couple days ago, I was feeling so stretched and dry, like I could feel a physical weight on my shoulders.  It was this time that I vividly remembered this conversation, and how much I had forgotten.

All you need is love.  Not just a Beatles song after all.  There were two instances where we went to an orphanage, and both times were life and perspective changing.  We went to an orphanage run by a group of Christians, and before we went, I remember jotting in my notebook something about how their lives probably aren’t that great so all I could do is make them smile and forget the pain they’re in for a while.  Boy was I setting myself up to get rocked.  Long story short, we ended up having a prayer time with them and as I talked to these kids, I realized that though there was so much pain in their lives, the love of God was very real to them as well.  How little faith I had, feeling like I could give them temporary relief while at the same time saying I believed in an all-loving, all-powerful God.  The Kingdom of Heaven truly belongs to people like these.  This story can be contrasted with another orphanage we visited.  Here, kids were living in fairly better conditions, but it was state run as opposed to Christian run.  The love of God was something very foreign to these kids.  We ended up having another prayer time with them, and there was one kid named Louis.  I just put my arm around him and right then he started crying.  Somehow, the love of God was being shown to him through some broken vessel, and man.  To see that verified everything.  Compared to the other orphanage, these kids had it all, yet deep inside there was still something missing.

It’s a privilege to serve.  There is nothing like seeing God work and being able to serve Him.  Because of this, everything was worth it.  Through the uncertainty, hardships, struggles, bad bathrooms, through it all, God was still faithful and gracious enough to use us to do His work.

There is joy in the journey.  The first Bible study I ever led for small group talked about considering the cost of following Jesus.  In it, I mostly emphasized how hard the Christian walk is, but very rarely pointed out the joy that is there as well.  There is.  While we went through our various difficulties, from bug bites to a small town named Galaxia, from weak toilets to weak stomachs, four hour car rides in a trunk and long hours walking in the heat, there is joy in the journey.  Living with nothing is freedom, making lifelong friends is fun, and seeing God move is exciting.

I miss this summer like crazy.  I miss what I was, I miss the people, the country, the food.  I miss having nothing, I miss the clear cut struggle that existed every day, I miss fighting, I miss the purpose, I miss everything.  Life back home seems useless.  Coming back, it’s so easy to be complacent, to not feel like serving every single moment of the day.  I want to relive those days again…

So in the end, was it worth it?  Yes.  Small group would be impossible had it not been for this trip.  Where I am now with my walk with God is directly because of this trip.  What I see myself doing in the future has changed because of this trip.  The fact that I now have close friends at CFC is because of this trip.  I feel a calling to the youth, not in the capacity as a pastor, but in the capacity as a worker.  Layperson.  I’ve thought a lot about what lies ahead, and how much it’s going to hurt to go through.  How lonely and painful it’s going to be.  But in the end, because of this trip, while a large part of me wants to turn around and run, a very small part of me knows that in the end, it will be worth it.

Sometimes

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 11, 2008

*The Mexico entry is taking a little longer than expected. Please excuse the break from scheduled programming*

Sometimes I really wish I could play the piano or just write music on my own. Like today. I was listening to Radiohead and I heard a chord progression that just moved me. Like it took what I felt inside and expressed it in something words could never do.

Many times I wish I could write. I’ve gotten some compliments on what I’ve put down here, but I can honestly say that it’s garbage to me. There have been maybe two posts on this blog that I feel are good work. I like a certain style of writing, and it’s not the style I write in. The reason why I write in my style is because I’m incapable of writing in the one I want to. The writing I love to read is one that’s succinct. Every word has a meaning, every word has a place. Each sentence goes somewhere, every phrase has a purpose. It doesn’t use much cliche or list things in three like I do all the time. Sentences aren’t forced, syntax and length are natural. The writing is so effortless that reading it is easy. This is hard enough to do, but I think if I tried hard enough, I could do it. However, the kicker is when they write like that, yet still make it come alive. In those succinct little sentences, they’ve managed to infuse their own voice and that’s when writing goes from “good” to “alive.”

So many times I look at people and want what they have. Possessions, security, freedom, relationships, abilities. You name it, I’ve envied someone for it. The thing I envy most about people is people who have direction. They’re going somewhere while I feel like I’m stuck in neutral, just idling at a stoplight while the world passes me by. As alluded to with how I like my phrases, I like people that are like that too. It’s not even the destination that matters, it’s just the fact that they’re moving. Being such a go-go person, the coming realization that I might just have my foot on the brakes is a little unsettling.

I really like order, and finding freedom within that order.  I think it’s genius when someone takes something that’s so rigidly confined to convention and does something creative within that convention.  That shows greater creativity to me than standard “raw” creativity.  Shakespeare is a good example of this.  Iambic pentameter, yet he has some of the most original quotations in the English language.  I don’t like Shakespeare that much anymore though.

Every time I look at my actions, I see how selfish I am. How my happiness is directly correlated to whether or not my selfish desires are being fulfilled. I’ve tried to make it a God thing but God once again made it a me thing. As long as my happiness lies in my own desires, I will never obtain that happiness. Economics tells of limited resources and unlimited wants. If only my happiness didn’t rest in me. There needs to be a transformation of desires. Switching from in to out. I know that this can’t happen all the time, but I would like for it to happen sometimes.