starving for substance

Anniversary

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 28, 2009

A year ago, our time in Mexico was winding down.  According to my journal, 366 days ago was when I met Evita and Luis at an orphanage.  364 days ago, we put on probably one of the most broke VBS’s known to man.  It was also probably one of the funnest times ever.  When the actors in the skit are laughing just as much as the kids watching the skit, it’s hard for all involved to have a bad time.

I rode my bike out to Meadowbrook park tonight.  I took the trail along the running route we used to take.  Remembering various landmarks in the fading light, fireflies flickering all around.  I peeked into the windows of Stone Creek Church, looking into the hallway that led to the sanctuary.  I saw the parking lot where we were all in a circle doing pushups, the overhang we did jumping jacks under, the random memory of Hopkins walking into the church lugging this giant boombox.  Had I not brought my journal, the details in the first paragraph would have been lost forever.  I also remember really random details.

I thought about that fire that was there when I got back.  Sitting under a streetlight in the parking lot of Stone Creek, I thought about how the last Fourth of July, I was sitting in a bar as a high school friend poured out her life to me, the pain of a broken relationship, the hurt that never faded after years, the pieces she tried to pick up as she moved on.  I remember just sitting there with her, talking as we watched another friend of ours throwing herself at any guy that would take her, the only thought in my mind being how much they both needed to know Jesus.  I remember months later trying to share the Gospel with her and just getting owned, and learning so much about myself and God in the process.  I remember a time in high school, coming out of a ridiculously blessing J-Gen retreat when I was proselytizing to my English class and having the teacher stop me as I went beyond everything covered in Paradise Lost (that was as far as she could legally let me go).  I remember one week where I started every lunchtime conversation with “So Jeff, why don’t you believe in God?” as I attempted to convert some hapless guy who sat across from me (talk about awkward for the other seven at that table).  As I type this, it almost seems ludicrous that I used to think or act this way.

Sitting in the parking lot of Stone Creek, reading my journal, getting bit by mosquitoes and hoping some kids riding their bikes wouldn’t mug me, I finally understood the message Pastor Bernie preached at a Wednesday Night Gathering a couple weeks ago.  Deep.  The concept of grace started to make a little more sense.  The journey isn’t going to be easy, but the battle has already been won.

Revelations 2:4-5
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Remember.  Repent.  React.

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Hey Ya

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 24, 2009

Sunk Cost Relationships

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 20, 2009

Here’s a hypothetical:  In January, you buy a year long gym membership (nonrefundable) and like most Americans, completely forget you own it.  Come April, you realize you haven’t used it since you bought it, and since you bought it, you shouldn’t let it go to waste.  So you start attending the gym.

If this sounds right to you, you are acting illogically as you have fallen prey to the sunk cost fallacy.  The money you paid in January is a sunk cost (unrecoverable) and should have no bearing on the decision to go the gym you make in April.  The idea behind this rule is supposed to prevent you from throwing good money after bad.  For a more obvious example, say you prepaid for a trip around the world, but right after you paid for that trip, you realized you could have hung out with me.  Since hanging out with me is infinitely better than anything you could do with your time or money, to continue to go on your trip simply because you already paid for it is a logical fallacy.

Sitting in a lecture hall my sophomore year, this idea didn’t make any sense at all.  If I already put money down, wouldn’t I just be wasting money if I disregarded the money spent so I could put more money into something that I’m unsure about?  But after another year of school and actually seeing this work in numerical examples and practice problems, I realized the main point.  It goes like this:  If you finance or lease a car, your down payment is not considered a sunk cost because you are still deriving utility from said car.  However, if your car ends up being a piece of junk (say it spontaneously combusts and we’ll disregard insurance), then you need a new car.  It doesn’t make sense to factor the cost of your down payment into your decision because your old car is completely useless.

When you buy a new car, you wouldn’t add the cost of the down payment onto the cost of your new car because that down payment is a fixed cost on an old decision, which should have no influence on your current decision.  In short, a sunk cost is only a sunk cost when it’s spent on something that ends up being useless.  Cut your losses and don’t throw good money after bad.  If you’re still confused, Wikipedia has an excellent overview on the concept.

For some reason this was going through my head (if you still wonder why women don’t find me attractive, I hope the previous statement and entire entry as a whole have clarified things) and I thought about this in the context of friendships/relationships.  Whether you consciously understand this or not, on the subconscious level, I think you can see it at work in our lives.  Most friendships usually involve some kind of give and take.  We give the other person some sort of enjoyment (define this as you will) and they give us some in return.  On a selfish level, this is why the friendship exists.  Yet when the other person stops giving us what we want, or we stop getting some sort of fulfillment from the friendship, we cut our losses and move on.  Though we invested in the friendship, there are times when we no longer get what we want and think it’s better to get out and run before we open ourselves up for more hurt.

So when I first connected the sunk cost fallacy with the idea of human relationships, my first thought was to say (cynically) “Wow Steve, you’re irrational.”  And in some cases, it makes sense.  Sometimes I feel like I pour myself out to people, invest so much in them, and in the end nothing happens.  So according to the sunk cost fallacy, I’m supposed to move on and cut my losses, applying my time and efforts to people where better things will happen.  The problem with this thinking is that it means I’m considering the other person as useless or unredeemable.  And that is why whatever you invest in people will never be considered a sunk cost.

This is Cute

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 15, 2009

I also love stuffed animals…

Fun YouTube Videos

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 14, 2009

As always, please excuse the language…

The best song in the world (yes my life is pathetic)…

This cracks me up a lot

Gotta love Reno 911!

Did you know Hitler get bust rhymes?

Sound of Music is my favorite musical, but if they actually made this I would probably like it more

Adios

The Ah-Ha Moment

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 10, 2009
Me, Myself, & Bob

Me, Myself, & Bob

My cousin lives in Japan.  For some reason, she found it necessary to pass this book on to me.  Call it God’s timing, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want, but this book rocked my world.

It’s the autobiography of Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales) and the company he started to create more VeggieTales (Big Idea).  He talks about his dreams, his vision for the ministry of VeggieTales, and how one day it all crumbled around him.  Initially, I read the first 200 pages with some disgust.  Not only did I disagree with some of his theology or the way he approached things in a “God will bless this because it’s for Him” mindset, but some of his business decisions were just straight up terrible.  If you have a business background, the book reads almost like a train wreck in slow motion.  You’re powerless to stop it but you can’t help but watch so in the end you just sit and watch the destruction as it happens, page by page.  Frame by frame.

Yet the last 50 pages of the book are worth whatever money you spend on it.  Vischer candidly talks about his dreams and how he came to realize that while God gives us dreams and we can go on doing these great works for Him, that’s not what matters.  In the end, what’s most important is our relationship with God.  Vischer quotes C.S. Lewis saying “He who has God plus many things has nothing more than he who has God alone.”  When Vischer finally realized the weight of this statement, that his worth to God has nothing to do with what he does for God, everything clicked.  Ironically, this is the exact message he kept trying to teach to children and only as his dreams lay in the ruins of bankruptcy court did he finally understand this.  He talks about the dreams God gives us and how when those dreams are taken away, maybe God is trying to show us if those dreams have become more important than the giver of those dreams.  And so Vischer’s response was pretty drastic.  For the next couple months, pretty much all he did was pray and read (the Bible and various devotional books).  Through this process, he realized that as Christians, we’re to be obedient people, not people going out with all this rah-rah-sis-boom-bah. Since I love putting up a big block quote in these book reviews, here’s something that sums up most of what he learned…though there’s still so much more valuable lessons learned in this book it’s impossible to say everything.

My life had been all about vision.  I was, after all, a visionary, chasing a long line of visionaries like Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs.  I had grown up in a culture where church leaders were starting to look more and more like visionary CEOs, reading books like Built to Last and crafting far-reaching BHAGs [Big Hairy Audacious Goals, Wikipedia it for more info] for their ministries. “To evangelize the world by the year 2000.” That was a good one. And yet here was little Yoda Henry Blackaby [author of Experiencing God], standing alone in the corner of his swamp making such radical statements as, “We have no business telling God what we want to accomplish for him or dreaming up what we want to do for him.” And “The people of God are not to be a people of vision; they are to be a people of revelation.”

Just to prove that this guy isn’t entirely crazy, John Piper echoes similar sentiments in A Hunger for God saying “God wills to know the actual, lived-out reality of our preference for him over all things.  And he wills that we have the testimony of our own authenticity through acts of actual preference of God over his gifts.”  Yes, he’s talking about fasting, but I think the concept and motive are similar.

So what does this mean for me?

I have stupid, crazy, ridiculous dreams.  Dreams and aspirations I don’t share with anyone because I’m too scared I’ll look like a fool should I fail to accomplish them.  Some of them might have holy sounding slants, some of them might be entirely selfish/sinful, but regardless, I have a lot of dreams.  I also have plans; plans to get a job, plans to get married (I guess that’s more “hopes” heh :(), plans to serve in various ways, whatever.  I’ve never been short on ambition.  After school ended, I hit a ridiculously difficult three week spiritual dry spell and it’s only been recently that I feel like things are turning around.  The turning point came when journaling the other day and I randomly scribbled down a sentence that surprised me by how succinctly it addressed the problem.  “I’m so caught up in the serving that now when there’s no chance to serve, I feel like I don’t have a relationship with God anymore.”  The epiphany.  The lesson: I need to stop believing lies and start filling myself with truth, but not just stop with filling, but end with living that truth out [random anecdote, my Korean name “Jinho” means “Big Truth,” at least that’s what my parents told me…].

So now it’s time to abandon everything.  Dreams, plans, callings, hopes, expectations, everything.  I thought I understood what it meant to surrender, to find my satisfaction in only God, but I was wrong.  However, now I feel like the meaning of that is much clearer.  I understand that none of those things above are “bad” per se, but I think for too long I’ve been so wrapped up in tomorrow, the next two, five, and ten years that I completely neglect the present.  I ask for tomorrow’s bread without asking for today’s.

In short, it’s a great book.  The best I’ve read in the past year, surpassing Don’t Waste Your Life [sorry anonymous pal that recommended that one].  Buy it on your own because I’m not letting this thing out of my hands for a while.  It’s also a great look into the hidden problems (and blessings!) behind running Christian business (part of me still thinks that’s an oxymoron) that I never considered.

Everything I once held dear, I count it all but loss.  Lead me to the cross.

In other news: if medicare is $12 trillion in the red, why do people still push for universal healthcare?  Can we fix some problems before tackling new ones?

I’m blogging like crazy.  My fingers are itchy, it just feels nice to write.

Funny Stuff!

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 9, 2009

I first saw this my freshman year of high school and I still laugh whenever I see it.  If you don’t laugh at this, it’s not too hard to understand why we don’t get along.  You probably should also remove the “Uptight Stick” out of your butt.

I’m probably going to get rebuked for telling you to enjoy mindless drivel, but if Beckett can write theater of the absurd and be celebrated as an artist, shouldn’t we be allowed to chuckle about a bleeding anus?

In other news, why do people lift weights wearing baseball caps?  Does it make them feel more athletic or sportier?  Doesn’t it just get sweaty?  Why do I sweat so much?

Easy Until You Start

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 8, 2009

I think swimming is one of the worst ways to get in shape there is.  It’s an interesting paradox because it’s great exercise, but almost everyone who swims for fitness cannot push themselves hard enough to actually get anything beneficial out of this.  You’re much better off running or biking or just sitting on your couch and eating cheetos.  If you’re out of shape, swimming a few laps or so every day will not get you in any better shape than when you started.

When I worked as a lifeguard and would guard the lap lanes, there’d always be a couple people who would ask me how many laps are in a mile.  If you don’t know, in a 25 yard pool, 66 lengths will get you to a mile.  Upon hearing the answer, these people would nod, some would say “Oh, that’s not too bad” and all would push off the wall and start swimming.  None would ever come close to the 66 laps.  I think it’s because as the laps build up, the pain increases to the point where it just makes no sense to continue.  And for most people, the pain sets in before the aerobic threshold and so you get a really bad workout.  I had a swim coach who told us that swimming was all about pain tolerance.  The more pain you could take, the better you’d be, and so our practices were all about increasing our pain tolerance.  These were not fun, but I believe him to a degree.  Most recreational swimmers do nothing to increase their pain tolerance, so they remain mediocre swimmers and get mediocre workouts.

When I first started swimming, I was the worst swimmer in the history of my high school.  The first time I swam 500 yards, it was recorded as the slowest in school history.  It took me two years before I felt like I made major improvements in the sport.  And that improvement came from regularly grinding out laps and enduring pain.  The key word is regularly.

This is what I think about a lot these days.  Somewhere in the past four years, I forgot what daily faithfulness was.  If I took half the dilligence I expended in going from a mediocre swimmer to a bad swimmer and applied it to my walk with God…

Remember.  Repent.  React.

Easily

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 2, 2009

When I listen to music I can usually learn the lyrics to a song and sing-a-long without really knowing what I’m saying.  A classic example is when I learned all the words to “Forgot about Dre” and never realized what he was rapping about till much much later (there were like three years between those times).  I’ve said it in a previous post and I’ll say it again, I just don’t listen to song lyrics.

I was home for a couple hours this weekend and was listening to one of the random mixes I made while driving and I came across this song.

The song is called “Easily” by Muse, one band I’ve really been a fan of for the past couple years.  Originally I just liked the driving drum beat and catchy bass riffs and after probably a year of hearing this song every once in a while, I finally realized what the guy was talking about.  Again, this isn’t because the lyrics are so deep and profound, it’s because I never pay attention to them.

The song follows a progression of love, where initially the singer (Matt Bellamy) talks about a love between him and a girl with some self-esteem issues.  Throughout it all, he seems to be voicing questions about what will happen once this girl gets over the problems she has (“When you’re feeling beautiful/will you remember me?” and “When your fears are cast aside/will you remember me?”).  By the chorus, the love is over and this love that the girl forgot so easily is something Bellamy just can’t forget.  The song ends in this state of frustration, as Bellamy looks at a girl who came to him, got her problems fixed, then moved on quite easily, but for him, “it’s not so easily.”

I’m kind of embarrassed at how incredibly emo these lyrics are, especially since this is a single off a B-side from an album inspired by conspiracy theories and outer space.  But if you just switch the perspective around it becomes kinda interesting.

I feel like that girl right now.  This past year, I went through my issues, I went through my struggles, and now that I’m through with them, I just moved on from God while He’s still there, desperately reaching out to me.  His mind refuses to let me go while I’ve moved on so easily.

In places of persecution, Christianity is growing in incredible numbers.  In places of comfort, Christians struggle to present their faith in relevant ways.  Similarly, in my times of struggle, it’s so easy to see the necessity and realness of God but when my fears are cast aside, do I still remember?