starving for substance


Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 30, 2009

I’m seeing more and more of my heart these days. It’s uuuuggggggllllyyyyyyy…..


Make Your Calling And Election Sure

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 27, 2009

There’s only one interpretation of 1 Peter 1:10.  This quote ruled out any possibility of another.

When people seek to know and do the will of God, many ask the question, What is God’s will for my life?  A seminary professor of mine, Dr. Gaines S. Dobbins, used to say, “If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer.”  Sometimes we assume that every question is a legitimate question.  When we pursue an answer and always come up wrong, we cannot figure out what is happening.  Always check to see if you have asked the right question before you pursue the answer.

What is God’s will for my life? – is not the right question.  I think the right question is, What is God’s will?  Once I know God’s will, then I can adjust my life to Him.  In other words, what is it that God is purposing where I am.  Once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to do.  The focus needs to be on God, not my life!

– Henry T. Blackaby

It was never about me.

I started a new company in 2005 called Jellyfish.  Why the name?  Well, jellyfish are cute and sort of silly, but there’s a deeper meaning.  Jellyfish can’t locomote.  They can’t choose their own course.  They can go up a little, and they can go down a little, but to get anywhere laterally — to go from point A to point B — they have to trust the current.  For a jellyfish, long-range planning is an act of extreme hubris.  Lunacy, really.  And so it is for me[…]So our plan at Jellyfish — and it’s an odd one, I’ll admit — is to make no long-range plans unless God gives them explicitly.  No “BHAGs,” no inspiring PowerPoint vision statements.  Just a group of people on their knees, trusting God for guidance each day.  Holding everything loosely but God himself.

– Phil Vischer

Some of the strangest things are starting to really click.  I’d much rather other things made sense, but for now, I’ll take it.

I’m a Loser

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 23, 2009

Today in class, we learned about bond prices.  There is a measure of how sensitive the yield of a bond is to the price of the bond, which is called the modified duration.  This is a linear estimate of the price of the bond.  However, bond curves are, well, curves.  Meaning they’re not linear.  So you can correct for the convexity of the bond using a simple equation.  What this means is that you can add the modified duration to the correction for convexity and add that to the current price of the bond, leaving you the actual face value of the bond.  I found the whole topic pretty fascinating.

Pastor Jung told me I was going to be single for a long time because of my chauvinistic behavior.  I think you just need to read the above paragraph to realize he’s wrong 😛


Resigned to Fate

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 22, 2009

Tonight I had a chance to gchat with a friend for a bit.  This kid used to have the absolute worst online manners ever.  In high school, he was notorious for up and leaving in the middle of a conversation, signing off when you tried to say something to him, never responding to requests for homework help, the list just goes on and on.  In fact, if you search on facebook for “julian is the worst online friend ever,” you will find a group a bunch of us made our sophomore year of college to get him to change his ways.  You will also find the funniest collection of MS paint pictures on the internet.  You will also probably judge me harshly after seeing them.  These are the six characteristics that irked us the most, as taken from the group’s main page.

1. Always signs off AIM immediately after you message him.
2. If he doesn’t sign off AIM he doesn’t answer because he decides playing online chess or other activities are more important, or he just decided he’s too cool for an away message.
3. If he actually talks to you, it is only because he needs help with schoolwork.
4. He never replies to you if you post on his facebook wall.
5. He never feels it neccesary to RSVP to events via e-mail
6. Although its not online, he is too important to answer his phone

One thing I’ve realized about my online etiquette is that I’ve become just like Julian.  I’m prone to wandering off for hours and never replying to messages, ignoring people I don’t feel like talking to, resorting to one word answers and boring conversation.

As we were talking, he was telling me briefly about his job, the training he was doing, and what he’d be doing full time.  He’s one of the smartest kids I know, skipped kindergarten so will forever be young, was the president of his business frat, yet somehow avoided becoming a douchebag through it all, so I have no doubts about how successful he’ll become.  The funny thing is, what he’s going to be doing sounds pretty interesting and he seems pretty excited about it.  I’m reminded of a scene from “Bee Movie” where Jerry Seinfeld is talking to his friend about how his friend will never have to work again because the bees won a lawsuit against the human race and (just read the Wikipedia synopsis) his friend was pretty depressed because he actually wanted to work at that job, to do work that seemed interesting to him.

I’ve been avoiding a lot of things in my life, but somehow I can’t help but think if my attitude towards work is going to become like Julian’s, in the same way my online habits have.  I always used to think I’m going to work at a job I hate for a couple years then just end up going bamboo.  But now the thought comes, what if I actually I enjoy what I’m doing?  All I’ve heard about audit engagements is that no matter how much they suck, there’s the opportunity to learn about business…and that’s precisely what attracted me to accounting in the first place.

Calling and election sure….calling in both senses of the word.  Obviously there’s the call to faith that we must be sure of but then there’s that other notion of “calling” that seems to be what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives.

So here’s an audience poll:  How cut and dry is that notion of calling?  Is it like “Yes, I’m going to be a pastor” and so you set off on that path?  Because God is sovereign, isn’t whatever you do your calling at that time?  So if I feel my calling is to be a pastor and I become a doctor, that’s still God’s will, right?  Does anyone understand what I’m saying?  I think to boil it down, how does what our calling is perceived to be (as humans) fit into God’s overarching plan of redemptive history when our own natures are flawed?  Do we really have free will?  Hopkins help me…..


Can I Eat Cake?

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 20, 2009

Attitude is important.  Outlook is important.  It’s weird how when I read past posts I come off as a wannabe deep, brooding thinker who thinks nothing but depressing thoughts all day and stews about the pseudo-complexities of my soul.

In reality, I’m a blithering, clumsy, goofball.

I don’t think I particularly enjoy that label, but what can I say?  I managed to pop my shoulder playing dodgeball left-handed a couple days ago.  Things just happen.

My mom has this irritating habit about always being thankful in situations where I’m thinking about punching babies in the face.  Stuck in a cramped car for 10+ hours and finally get to stop for a bathroom break?  “Wow, look at those mountains!”  Stuck in a pathetically stupid location?  She slaps on a smiley face and cheesily goes “Happy in the Lord!”


People like this really bother me.  But as I’ve been thinking about it, happiness is so subjective.  There’s no mathematical formula for happiness, it’s all dependent on the person.  I used to be a pretty happy-go-lucky kid.  But as I got older, I figured life was supposed to be more difficult and I needed to just “grow up” (I hate that phrase so much and will probably type a 2000 word rant about it sometime in the near future).  The funny thing is, life never really got more difficult.  The problems I have no are no worse than the ones I had when I was six.

It seems to be a popular trend among the CFC serving body to talk about how difficult serving is.  Honestly, who cares?  There’s difficulty in anything we do, I just think we need to have a mindset that tries to find something fun about what we’re doing (this is probably an incorrect interpretation of Philippians 2, but oh well).  So I’m going to go back to trying to have fun doing whatever it is I’m doing.  I’ve been in such a funk for the past couple years because I kept suppressing, mainly because having fun and being taken seriously are so diametrically opposed.  And I hate not being taken seriously.  But if that’s the price I have to pay for getting to have my fun, so be it.

By the way, this is absolutely hilarious:

I don’t understand half the words but it’s still amazing.  This is an English sub, just imagine them singing this song to that video…



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 18, 2009

I love to read.  For the past few years, I really questioned whether that was true or not, but lately that love has returned.  My mom was apparently the one started me off on books, as she claims to have always been reading to me when I was little.  I never really remember this but she says it’s true so I’ll take her word for it.  However, I never got “Hooked on Phonics” when I was little like my siblings did so I always try and use that fact to prove to her I really was the child that got forgotten.  I loved going to library and borrowing books on anything that seemed interesting, then just looking at the pictures if the material was too complex.  This was about the time that I discovered my first cookbook and subsequently had my first fiasco into the world of baking (a story for another time).  Also, at my elementary school, I befriended the librarian somehow and she introduced me to the world of Encyclopedia Brown, who would become a childhood friend (incidentally, I think I had a little more success with cooking when I tried his cookbook, Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake!).  My parents didn’t let me watch too much TV and they strictly limited the amount of video games I could play so I spent most of my time after school reading The Hardy Boys and The Boxcar Children (I am forever ashamed of how many books of this series I’ve read…it’s more than 100).  Every now and again I would read some “older” books but mostly it was just borrowing history books and looking at the pictures and reading the captions.  At the library where I used to live, the kids books were on the first floor while all the “real” books were on the upstairs, so I always loved the feeling of being a 2nd grader and walking up those stairs to check out a book.  It made me feel grown up 🙂

After moving from Noblesville, IN to Palatine, IL, there weren’t any neighborhood kids to play with (we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment at the time, lots of fun for a family of five!) so I read even more, and really came to dig the Palatine Library (it’s enormous and amazing).  It was here at school that standardized testing revealed that as a 4th grader, I was reading at a 12th grade level.  This seemed pretty amazing at the time, but after seeing what the 12th grade level is, it feels less impressive.  However, it was in high school that the brakes were thrown onto all this reading for fun.

In a sense, it’s a little ironic that my literature classes contributed to killing my idea of “leisure” reading since now we were required to not just read but analyze literature, something none of us had done before and something that was (and still is) incredibly difficult.  I remember in my freshman lit class, we spent a 50 minute class period discussing the first page of Lord of the Flies.  At the time, we felt like we had finally arrived, being able to dig out all these little bits of symbolism and tone and connotation, but in retrospect, it was pure overkill.  I still cringe when I think about Homer and his Odyssey.  I still have to hand it to my teachers, that while I pretty much stopped reading for leisure at this time, I learned to really appreciate real works of literature.  I also learned how to completely b.s. papers and tests, writing vaguely but managing to sound specific about readings I had never done.  This would pay huge dividends in an “Intro to Shakespeare” class I took where I only finished 1 of the assigned 6 plays but still got an A in the class.

By college, I stopped reading.  No reading assignments (I’m still under the impression that business professors do not expect their students to do the assigned reading), no leisure reading, no nothing.  I think a prohibitive thing was the fact that since I was now older (and this thought process started in middle school), I should read “older” books.  So I would check out all these advanced books on philosophy or political policy (I tried reading Rousseau’s Social Contract my junior year in high school…how’s that for invigorating?) or science and was incredibly bored by it all.  In 8th grade, I read Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy and spent the next couple weeks wondering what the junks I just read.

Another thing that really kept me from liking reading was when I started to take my Christian faith more seriously.  I thought “Oh, since I’m trying to be more devoted, I should only read for redemptive purposes.”  So I would try and read all these “holy” sounding books and after a while would just stop reading them because they were either 1)boring or 2)I got overwhelmed by the dense content.  Since these are usually more intellectual books, I felt the need to remember everything so I could later show off how much I knew or even when the motive was purer, I felt that if I didn’t remember and apply everything, I was missing the point of the book and wouldn’t grow as a Christian.  It’s funny because for a while I felt that if a book wasn’t “redemptive,” I wouldn’t read it, missing the irony that if the book was “redemptive,” I’d never finish it (is that irony?  I’m not sure).  Yeah, yeah, I understand that when you read even if you can take a couple things away from a book and apply it that’s worth it.  I just put too much pressure on myself to be better than that.

That whole I idea of only choosing “redemptive” things was also incredibly arrogant on my part.  Apparently John Calvin called not studying the works of the early Greek philosophies a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  This stemmed from his belief in the common grace of God and that to ignore these great works of philosophy is an affront to the Creator that gave these thinkers their great minds.

Maybe I’m just making excuses for why I stopped even trying to read books by John Piper, but isn’t the whole purpose of “redeeming” to use what’s sinful for the glory of God?  Granted, I’m way on the other side of the spectrum where the movies I watch and music I listen to are more anti-sanctifying than anything (and I’m sorry I can’t listen to Hillsongs all day, I mean isn’t that why I go to church? :))  So for me to only read books that passed my standards as “redemptive” was just me failing at being “humble.”  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t read books on Christian living or the Christian classics, but my problem was that I read them with the worst motives.  I wasn’t trying to deepen my relationship with God, I was trying to improve my standing with man.

So for now, I’m enjoying my break from false piety, reading books by non-Christians and realizing that I still like reading after all.  And who knows?  Maybe I might be able to redeem the “garbage” I’m filling my mind with, but I’m not trying to put too much of a priority on it.

I’m going to add a part 2 to this to clarify some things, but this entry is already long enough.  I’m just at work and I get to use this keyboard:
apple keyboard
And it’s just so nice to type on.  Crisp keys, it’s fun 🙂

Since I’m blogging at work, does this make me a paid blogger?  Or just a regular worker…hmmmmmmmm



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 18, 2009

I just want to goooooo.

Go far far away.

Don’t get me wrong, school is interesting, people are great, church is going swell.

My legs are just itchy.  Substance is overrated, action is where reality begins.


Zippin Through

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 14, 2009

In the past week I’ve finished three books.  Some of you loyal readers might remember how I wanted to read a book a month.  After this past week, I think I’m right on track.  By the way, big shout outs to the U of I library system.  A love affair that started last semester has fully blossomed.  Books galore!

Escaping North Korea by Mike Kim
I caught on to this book because apparently the author went to CFC, I saw the Daily Show interview, and everyone and their mother that knew this guy from CFC had the obligation to post that interview on facebook.  So I was intrigued.  I have to say, honestly, I think the book was a little hyped up.  I think he had great subject material, but there was too much of an emphasis on his own story.  Had he written it in similar fashion to Japan at War, I’d probably be on the very next plane to the North Korean/Chinese border.  I’m not saying that the book was bad, I just didn’t really click in with his writing style.  It almost read like a research paper instead of a narrative account.  The stories were exciting, heartbreaking, and some a little too shocking to be true.  To think that people actually live their lives like that was eye opening.  There were also a few references to familiar faces (P. Min was mentioned) and reading between the lines I think one of the directors of Crossing Borders was in the youth group my mom ran back in the day.  Small world.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell writes in kind of those “pop” nonfiction styles, where real life studies are presented in ways that normal people who would never read the findings of those studies will read what Gladwell has to say and actually find it interesting.  The main focus of the book is to determine how human beings are able to make snap judgments.  Something he refers to in the introduction and alludes to again and again throughout the book is a statue of supposedly ancient Greek origins.  However, while scientific testing confirmed the ancient-ness of the statue, a couple art experts looked at the statue briefly and were convinced it was a forgery.  Through the book, Gladwell tries to explain our unconscious thought process.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
In this book Gladwell focuses on cultural “epidemics.”  Basically, he tries to figure out how a fad becomes a fad.  He uses the example of Paul Revere and how that same night there was a man riding through Massachusetts named Williams Dawes doing essentially the same thing.  However, everyone knows Paul Revere and I’m wondering if I remembered William Dawes’ name correctly.  What made Revere have a greater effect than Dawes?  Well the answer, and more, is in the book!

All in all, they’re three decent reads.  Interesting and thought provoking.  I’d write more but there’s just way too much stuff to do right now…

Also, Muse is coming out with another CD, here’s the single, get excited!



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 14, 2009

Most second generation kids go through some major problems with identity, having no way of reconciling the American side of things they venture out into on a daily basis with the culture of their parents that they come home to every evening.  In fact, studies have shown that the environment one grows up in plays more of a role in childhood development than the family one grows up in.  In the book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell tells of a study that determined that if you lived in a bad neighborhood but had a good family, you were more likely to end up a bad kid.  His point is that context matters.  Growing up in a predominantly white town, I feel like I can understand where he’s coming from.  For much of my life, my Korean heritage has been relegated to a somewhat backseat status.  While I don’t deny it anymore, I don’t think I ever had a full understanding of it.

I definitely got a crash course over the past couple weeks.

My grandpa had been in a nursing home for the past few months.  He was languishing away from some type of cancer in his mouth, he had a stroke a couple months ago, and we as a family knew the end was imminent.  But talk about resilient.  He survived the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Korean war, poverty, was in line to be executed for being a communist (big mixup since he wasn’t…), immigration to America, triple bypass, the list just goes on.  It took a combination of old age, cancer, another stroke, and another heart attack to finally send him to a hospice, and even then, he hung on for a couple more days.

It was labor day weekend and I was helping my cousins move when I got a voicemail from my dad “Steve, come quick, I think he’s going.”  My cousin rushed me to the hospice and I found out that his condition had somewhat stabilized and that he’d be okay for another couple days.  So began the learning experience.

My grandparents have been blessed with very long lives (all of them are in their 80s) so I’ve never witnessed the death of a close relative, which made this experience particularly unsettling.  Seeing my grandfather on that bed, gasping for air every couple of seconds and seeing his kids just stand there and watch helplessly was incredibly tough.  My dad is the only son in that family, so even though he’s the youngest, according to Korean tradition, during the death of a parent, he’s in charge.  Another duty of the oldest son is to be there at the moment the father breathes his last.  So my dad lived by my grandfather’s bed for about 4 days, sleeping only a couple hours a night just to make sure he’d be present for his father’s last moments on this earth.

Basically, what I learned about Korean culture is that there is duty and there is love.  I thought I understood that.  I thought I knew that Korean parents had this duty to their children and their children had a duty to their parents. However, I never saw that within that duty, there was a great sense of love as well.  It was my dad’s duty to hover by his father’s side for days on end, just…waiting.  But I don’t think a complaining thought ever once crossed his mind.  It was my dad’s duty to prepare all the funeral arrangments for his father, but I don’t think he considered it a hassle.  I think so many times we figure that if something is our duty, it can’t be done with love.  My dad describes my grandfather as a typical Korean parent.  Always worked, never took a vacation, etc. etc.  Yet as he lay on his deathbed, I saw again and again my aunts and my dad break down and weep, and I think this confirmed my own experiences with Korean culture.  Yes, Koreans get a knock for being so stoic, and I think from our own Western perspective, we see that as being uncaring.  Since the father puts work above his children, we condemn that as bad parenting.  And I know plenty of people who have very distant or strained relationships with their parents because of this.  However, I think my dad and my aunts could see that behind the duty with which my grandfather carried out his life, there was an unmistakable love he had for them.  My own experience is similar.  My dad was a disciplinarian.  He always made sure I did everything to right way and if I ever messed up, it was time for the dreaded “mem-meh.”  A “mem-meh” is essentially a whooping with whatever can be found at hand.  For me, a “mem-meh” could involve a stick, a piece of wood, a cooking spoon, the possibilities were truly endless. However, he would almost always tell me he was hitting me because he loved me, and it hurt him to do it as much as it hurt me.  While I hated those occassions, I always knew my dad was the one who would be there for me.  I remember when I had a seizure, I gave him a call and he showed up about 3 hours later, meaning he started leaving for Champaign while I called him.  He loves our family, and that means he doesn’t shirk his duty to his family.

This idea of love and duty being intermixed was driven home by something I saw in my grandmother.  My grandma and grandpa had a strained relationship for the first couple decades of their marriage, with the poverty they had to live with and just the difficulty of life.  There was a day when my grandma would have committed suicide had my dad not ran back from school every breaktime to check up on her, though that’s a much longer story.  At the hospice though, when everyone had gone out of the room for a bit in preparation to leave for the night, my grandma remained in the room and through the open door I saw something that will forever be engraved on my mind.  She was sitting at a chair by his bedside, with this look like the world was weighing on her shoulders.  Then she got up, checked my grandpa’s feet to make sure they were warm, tucked the blankets in around him, held his hand for a bit, then went back to her chair at the foot of his bed and sat back down.  Duty and love.  For so long I thought it was a mutually exclusive concept.  That duty, because it was duty, could never be something done out of love.  The word “duty” suggests something involuntary, something we wouldn’t want to do except we’re forced to do it.  If it’s love, it’s no longer duty.  Yet there was something about seeing my grandmother in those moments when she thought no one was looking.  She still had the duty to her husband, yet what kept her to her duty was because she loved her husband. In that one scene, I saw what it means to be faithful to the end.

A week later we stood at his grave, one by one dumping a shovel of dirt over his coffin.  The end to a long, often painful, but full life.

Being the introvert that I am, after draining days, I just want to stay alone for a few hours.  With this last week being the most emotionally draining experience of my life, I don’t want to see people for the next month or so.  Yet small group is well underway, career fair is this week, group projects and appointments with people fill out the rest of my schedule and life goes on. And I think what I learned about duty and love becomes very pratical and relevant, yet awfully difficult to really apply.  In watching my grandfater die, and seeing my family member’s reactions to it and the Korean traditions that surround the death of a patriarch, I felt like I was rediscovering my roots and understanding more about that chinky eyed side of me that I previously had such a superficial understanding of.  There are still some things about Korean culture that my Whitewashed brain will never understand, but now I have such a deeper appreciation (and dare I say pride?) of where I came from.

Just to share briefly, my grandpa was pretty incredible.  With only an elementary school education, he would regularly undertake projects or form organizations that only men of higher education were considered capable of doing.  While his biggest regret was his lack of education, it was assumed that he at least had a college degree.  More striking than this however, was the character that he possessed.  It was said about him that he was a man that could live without laws because his character was so virtuous.  In a time when Korea was going through political turmoil, he refused to bribe officials or rely on underhanded tactics, resulting in him living most of his life in poverty. Honest to a fault.  When I look at his life, I realize that not only do I know nothing about life, I know nothing about suffering, integrity, nor perseverance as well.  He didn’t become a Christian till much later in life, and is such a good example to me that “morality” and “Christianity” do not go hand in hand, and those who expect it to are missing the point of the latter.  What I remember most about him though, was his continued desire for his children and grandchildren to have a better life.  When I was in high school, he would give me some of the money he got from his social security payments and would tell me, “buy bread and eat it.”  This is about as literal as the translation gets, but it comes from a time when times were difficult and food was tough to come by.  Money itself was tight and money to waste on frivolties like pastries was unthinkable.  So when my grandpa gave me the money and told me that, it goes deeper than him wishing I would buy some sweets.  He was wanting to give me the life he could never have, and get me the things he could never give his kids.  There was a deep, genuine love for his family, a love that didn’t just come from duty, but it showed itself through duty.

I know the blogosphere doesn’t seem like the best place to air all this out, but over the past couple days I’ve been conflicted both with wanting to ramble on aimlessly (but not knowing who to do it to) and wanting to just disappear for a couple weeks.  So to just get everything off my chest in “take it or leave it” fashion, a blog seems best.

Lastly, there’s a concept in Korean called “hyo ja.”  It comes from the traditions of fillial piety and basically means “good son.”  There’s a saying that says everyone is this “hyo ja” after the death of the father, but a thousandth of that done while they’re still alive is more meaningful.  I still know nothing, but I hope I can keep learning.


Sorry Mom

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on September 6, 2009

Mom: Oh, so is this facebook?
Me: Yeah
Mom:  Can you teach me how to use it sometime?
Me:  Uhh…no.

Sometimes it’s better to keep people in ignorance 🙂