Saturday, February 28, 2009
The main character (Jimmy Stewart - same as It's a Wonderful Life) has a trauma induced case of vertigo (loss of balance), and this is symbolic of the whole movie. The whole movie is designed to give the viewer a similar sense of psychological vertigo. You don't know which end is up or what is really happening. The whole movie ends in a similar super-wierd manner.
Neither Sarah and I cared for it all that much. I'm inclined to give it 3j's just because it's a classic, but I think it's really only worth 2j's. (After all, this is only my rating of how I feel about the movie.) So, jj it is.
Over the winter, Sarah and I read what turned out to be a perfect winter book and a great book for reading aloud. Silas Marner was written by Mary Anne Evans in 1861, but she published it under the pen name of George Elliot "to make sure her works were taken seriously."
Silas Marner is a man who was wronged by his friends and by his religion. He retreats into his work (weaving) and becomes a shell of a man, hording his meager income and avoiding all contact with others if at all possible.
His life is completely changed when he adopts an orphaned child who wanders into his cottage. She opens him to life again, and she even helps him reconnect with God and with his community.
Silas Marner is a beautiful little story about the meaning of life, redemption, and community. There are also several interesting sideplots which contribute greatly to the story.
I give this book a strong 4j's: jjjj.
Friday, February 27, 2009
FYI: We moved about two weeks ago. We decided not to keep our home phone number. Instead, we got Sarah a cell phone. The cell was free and the monthly fee was only a little more. If you need her number (or mine), comment, and I'll email the numbers to you.
Sarah and I loved seasons 1-4 of The West Wing. Season 4 "jumped the shark" with how it tried to pack too much into the last few episodes, but we decided to go ahead and watch Season 5 (especially since my Mom gave it to me for my birthday).
We still enjoyed it, but the writing and drama just wasn't as good or as crisp as the first four seasons. The creator, Arron Sorkin, left at the end of season 4, and it really showed. We might someday watch seasons 6 and 7, but we're definitely not buying the sets.
So The West Wing Season 5 gets a disappointing 3 js. (jjj)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
Watch this clip from the movie Bruce Almighty: (skip to 4:28, and then watch to 1:30 on the next part).
God is not weak. God is not afraid of us. God is not emotionally challenged. God is not a temperamental ruler that we have to suck up to.
God is GOD. God is the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. God is the great I AM. God is the Almighty, the Unshakable, the Unstopable. God is the Creator and the Sustainer of everything that is.
God can handle us. God can handle our complaints. God can handle our anger, our sadness, our outrage, our doubts, our fears, our feelings – all of our feelings. ...
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Monday, February 23, 2009
Our friend Beverly had to make a "visa run" to Japan. Korea has this crazy rule that you can't change your visa status in Korea. If you change employers, you have to leave the country to get your new visa. I may have to do this in a few weeks as well.
Anyway, Beverly has a dog - Sally. Sally is one of the best behaved dogs I've ever known. We gladly volunteered to dog sit because Emma loves dogs.
Ever since Sally came to our house, Emma has had a one track mind. She doesn't want to do anything unless Sally can do it with her. She cried her way out of going to DaeJeon with me today. (Usually, she jumps at the chance to do something unusual with Daddy.) Then she turned down going to Block-I (a lego center) with a friend. And this was all because she preferred to stay home with Sally.
If Nana doesn't come to Korea and rescue us by getting a dog, this little girl just might get a dog for her birthday! (But don't you dare tell her I said that!)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
KNU International English Church
February 22, 2009
1 Peter 5:5-11
The season of Lent is 40 days. 40 days of praying and fasting. 40 days of remembering and repenting. 40 days to repair and to refocus.
40 is an important number in the Bible.
In Genesis 7, after God told Noah to build an ark, he sent rains for 40 days and 40 nights. I don't really get the flood and why God did it, but I understand this. The world was going all wrong, and God used this “retreat” to purify humanity and to make a fresh start in the world.
In Exodus, two times God called Moses up to the mountain top for a 40 day spiritual retreat (Exodus 24:18 and 34:28). When Moses left the mountain, he had the 10 commandments and the covenant from God.
After being set free from Egypt, God called the people of Israel to wander in the desert for 40 years. He “humbled” them and “tested” them in the wilderness before he led them to the Promised Land. God brought them out of Egypt, but it took 40 years for him to get Egypt out of them. ...
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
On the downside, she has some swelling on her abdomen from water retention. However, she is taking some medicine which will hopefully relieve that.
In a few minutes, we several people are gathering in Anne Cave's office to pray for SoYoung. Wherever you are, whenever you read this, please pray for SoYoung and her family.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Ahh, an empty in-box. This is a rare experience for me. I just thought I'd share this momentous occasion with my friends. Reaching this point has been on my to-do list for weeks, and I've finally made it.
Now, if all of you will kindly comment, you can fill it up again.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
One of our key church members, SoYoung Gu, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. One week after she was diagnosed, she was admitted into a hospice. Liver cancer moves fast, and hers was already spreading. There is no medical cure available. SoYoung is two weeks older than me.
SoYoung is many things to us. She is our friend and "sister." She was one of the team members for our mission trip to Tanzania this summer. Until she got sick, she was a regular member of our music team, a member of the church Advisory Council (board), and Brett and Emma's piano teacher. She is a woman of many talents and interests: piano, violin, cooking, crafts, language. She always has a beautiful smile to share - even now.
Sarah and I have experienced her illness with deep personal pain. We have been to visit her almost every day since she found out. Her pain is increasing now, and sleep is difficult. Starting soon, we will need to limit visitors from our church, so that she can get rest.
We talked about it in church yesterday for the first time. (SoYoung wanted a little bit of time to talk to people individually.) SoYoung wanted to participate in the worship service and to play piano one more time, but her health has decreased so rapidly that she was unable to come. We spent about 10 minutes praying for her at the end of the worship service.
Now we are beginning to think of ways our church can express our love for SoYoung. Some floating ideas: setting out a crafts table near the snack area so people can make cards for her, helping people send her video greetings, videoing Brett and Emma playing a few songs, establishing a memorial scholarship fund. (By the way, if anyone here would like to help with these, or if you have other ideas, please let me know. We need to start implementing these ideas this Sunday.)
Within the same week that we found out about SoYoung, I also found out that two other church members had pending tests for cancer and that my aunt's cancer is gaining strength again. I was greatly relieved to find out that both of the other two church member's tests came back negative - no cancer for them!
In a confluence of events, we have also had several positive events in our church: a marriage, a birth, a new pregnancy, anniversaries, birthdays, and graduation. It feels so strange to move from SoYoung's bedside to buy Valentine's Day flowers or to go swimming. But somehow these celebrations help with the mourning.
Honestly, I don't know how to pastor well during this time. All I know to do is to encourage people to be open and honest with God and each other about our feelings. This brings us face to face with mystery and unknown and pain, yet one of my deepest prayers is that we will find God in the mystery and unknown and pain. I pray that our community will grow together and grow toward God, not away. This is irrefutable evidence of our mortality. Life is an uncertain gift. Maybe this experience will help us all to live with more gusto and faithfulness.
I don't believe SoYoung is dying for this reason (to strengthen our church and to help us live more faithfully). Actually, I don't believe there is any good reason SoYoung is dying. I don't believe "everything happens for a reason." I don't believe that God has "called her home" or that God is up there in the sky pulling cosmic strings arranging the time of our deaths.
I believe that this cancer and all cancer is junk. It is just part of this broken, messed up (yet still beautiful) world. I don't believe God causes cancer or earthquakes or AIDS or any other disaster or illness. I believe that crap happens, and God hates it just as much as we do. The problems of this world are shrouded in mystery. They are things too great for us to know. Sometimes, some of the mysteries are lessened through science or reason, but they are mysteries still.
I believe that God is with us no matter what happens. I believe that God loves us no matter what happens. I believe that God can bring good out of almost any circumstance. I believe that God is always working for healing or restoration.
But I also believe that sometimes, it's just time to die, time to die with grace and peace. So far, I have not said anything in the worship service about SoYoung dying. She and I have talked about dying well, and I've talked about it individually and in small groups. Maybe I'll talk about it this week as we prepare for Lent, for Lent is -at least in part - a season about our mortality.
SoYoung is at peace with death. Unless God works a miracle, she will die fairly soon. She accepts that and is facing it with courage. She welcomes a miracle, but she knows she can't cause one or work one up simply by her effort. Death is. Death comes to us all. Usually, we cannot choose the time or the place or the manner of death, but it comes. As for me, I feel like the best thing we can do for now is to show SoYoung our love and care and to support her as she gives all her energy to these last few steps of her journey.
For any readers out there, I would appreciate your prayers for SoYoung and her family, for our church, and for me as I try to be a faithful pastor and friend.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Today, we finish our series on family life by talking about hospitality. I want to start by telling you of some of the greatest hospitality I've ever experienced.
When I was a university student, I went on a six week mission trip to Papua New Guinea. I experienced hospitality like I had never heard of or even dreamed of. We were a team of 6 college students from the USA. We spent the summer visiting remote churches in the mountains and swamps of Papua New Guinea. Sometimes, we were the first white people to ever visit these churches. We traveled by plane, by boat, by bus, by truck, and by foot – sometimes all in the same week.
I remember when we arrived at one church. As we began unloading from the van, the little old ladies (all the ajumas and halmonies) from around the village were so excited that they gathered in the front yard of the church and started screaming (Aaaaiiieeeeee!!!) and waving their hands like they were dying of heat exhaustion. Then, they started coming toward us. We put out our hands to greet them with a handshake American style, but they bypassed our hands and hugged us with their heads in our armpits – still screaming and waving their hands. But once they really got to hugging us, many of the little old ladies would grab our bottoms – not just a pat, mind you, I'm talking about getting a handful and squeezing! Then, they would maybe bounce a little and stand up and start waving their hands and screaming again (Aaaiiiieeeee!!!). Many of them had tears in their eyes. When we got back to little house behind the church, we started comparing notes. “Did that old lady goose you?” “Yep.” “Hey, man, they all goosed me!”
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Monday, February 9, 2009
It's time for our next installment of Cajun jokes. One day Boudreaux and Tibedeaux were sitting around complaining about how they never had no money. Boudreaux, he say, “Bra, I'm so broke, my girlfriend and I got married just so we could get the rice they would throw.”
Tibedeaux, he say, “Well, I'm so broke the bank called me yesterday, and they asked for their calendar back.”
Boudreaux, he got another one: “I'm so broke I had to make monthly payments on a Big Mac set at McDonald's.”
Tibedeaux come right back: “Keaw, I'm so broke I was walking down the street with one shoe. They say to me, 'Hey Tib, you lost a shoe!' But I say back, 'No bra, I found one!'”
Boudreax he think hard, and he say one more: “Tib you know that chicken place, KFC, where they say that chicken's finger licking good. Well, I so broke I go there to lick other people's fingers!”
Half of all married couples fight about money. In one survey in the USA, 57% of divorced couples said that money problems were the biggest reason they split up. Parents are the single greatest influence on a child's future financial success. If the parents manage money well, and if they involve their children in that process, then the kids are much more likely to become good money managers. Finances are the highest rank cause of stress in survey after survey.Money is a big deal for families. ...
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
1) I need to write the fifth installment of our sermon series on family. This week's topic is finances. This sermon should be fairly easy, since I preached a whole series on finances about two years ago.
2) I want to catch up on my emails. Ever since Christmas, I've been desperately behind on my emails - usually about 80 in my in box. Yesterday, I crossed a milestone. All of my in box could fit onto one screen page! Today, I'm continuing to whittle away at it, and I'm already down to 25. I'm still replying to emails from 10 days ago, though.
When I get all caught up on my emails, I'll finally feel like I'm ready to start the regular full-time pastoring schedule. With Christmas, Solar New Year, English Camp, Lunar New Year, and a little extra time with my Mom, I've really struggled just to draw even. But I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!