Josh's weBlog of Chaos

28th of June 2004
late evening
My New Bicycle

This evening (Monday) I rode to work on my new bike (purchased Thursday) to find out how much time it would take if I commuted using it. It took me about 45 minutes going one way for both directions! I think I'm going to be sore in the morning...

24th of June 2004
late evening
Climbing Half Dome

This past weekend I went camping with a group of friends from 1st Baptist of West Los Angeles (WLAB) at Yosemite, and many of us did the Half Dome hike, still only about half of us made it to the top of Half Dome. And I can understand why!
It's scary getting up there near the end. You get to this point in the trail where you are stepping on rock that has these coarse sand particles all over it, and this makes it slippery. You can feel your foot slide a bit until it finally grabs the rock and then you move forward. There's all these steps you have to hike up to get to what's called the saddle point, which is the base of the cables that go up the side of Half Dome. Many of the steps on my way up seemed to be covered with that sand, and you can just imagine slipping and finding yourself tumbling to your doom down the side of the mountain. :( Or at least I could!
Once at the saddle, with a few of my friends, we found the cables clogged with people, so that along with my fear of possible failure, there was a 30+ minute climb due to the traffic jam on the cables. This was one thing that made me wonder if it was worth it. :) Why take a chance when it's so inconvenient to do so? But, a few were determined to go up, and if I was going to have to wait for them anyway, I guess it's more convenient to at least give it a try... So many people do it and survive anyway, I'm just over-cautious...
And so, after many minutes of climbing up the cables I made it to the top! No incidents! No slipping to the valley floor, or anything like that! And I found that I was quite capable of doing it, even though my lack of experienced had fueled my doubts! Although I didn't get too close to the edges up there, I took pictures and enjoyed myself up there, and was glad I could make it. (Of course, the very end of the return trip was in the dark.)
So many times I've found myself like this. Uncomfortable with doing what I've never done before, and resisting doing it because of the perceived dangers involved. But, sometimes in order to get somewhere you just have to overcome those fears and trust that everything will be okay. And once you've done it, it isn't so hard the next time around. :)
But I can't help to wonder, what advantage does climbing Half Dome have in God's will that I should not think it a waste if He chose to take my life out of this world at that moment? Are the perceived risks of Half Dome small enough that I'm not testing Him and is it something, that in the end, I can use to glorify Him? I don't want to think I'm wasting the life He's granted me on this journey!
In the end I thought it was, or otherwise I wouldn't have gone all the way. The value of the experience and testimony of making a climb which was difficult at first, but increasingly easier as the climbing continued, makes it all worth it! Such analogies from life experience make God's Word more real to myself and others. They help us to see more clearly and understand what He is doing in our lives as we follow Him even though the road may occassionally seem difficult.

12th of June 2004
Meaningful Missionaries

About a week ago I came to some conclusions due to thinking about the homeless ministry my friend was doing (The Poor). It's based on my thoughts about Making Time for Others. And whether my conclusions are totally correct or not, I think they deserve some thought.
Trying to minister to many multiple homeless all simultaneously is probably not a good idea because of several reasons. Because you never get to known any of them, your interactions with them stays at a very superficial level. You see their hunger and feed them, but you miss what's invisible, never having a chance to see their spirit. Most need more than just food, yet most people just offer foods and services, but don't offer dedication and friendship. I ask myself, what do people most often cite as being my most valuable characteristics, and usually it's something they've learned through personal and long-term interactions with me, not impersonal and sporadic happenings. (Otherwise the response would be generic...) I think it's a good question to ask oneself, why do people think I'm special? Is it because I just happen to be handy to have around? I hope it's far more than that!
I believe a meaningful relationship with one homeless would be more beneficial to all homeless than trying to minister to multiple homeless. This is because his own relationship with you would become apparent to other homeless, and they would ask, and he would give a testimony that would minister to all of them! I think this parallels well with Jesus' ministry in the world. He ministered to specific people who then spread His Gospel to many nations. He ministered to a few sinners and relied on these sinners to spread His Gospel to others. He didn't rely on random and time-limited encounters. He generously made time for others, especially His Apostles and closer disciples!
It's key to remember that God cares about what's in our hearts, and not on our outward appearance. Likewise, God cares about the homeless due to their hearts, and not their outward appearance. Someone may be poor in money, and if you see them by their outward appearance, you may feel sorry for them and feed them, but inside they may have something worse -- or even beautiful! --, but you'd never know unless you took the time to get to know them as God knows them. And if it's something God's given you a gift to heal, you'll never know unless through patience and longsuffering you show love to the person as Christ showed to others... And then sometimes you may also find, as some Christ met, that they are not the one God means for you to minister to due to their hardness of heart, and you can use your time wisely ministering to those that God has led to you and have hearts prepared for the Gosepl.

10th of June 2004
late evening
Staying Your Ground When It Matters
Proverbs 25:26, "Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked" (RSV). This is so true because you can't clean someone nearly as well if your water is full of muck. Whereas a completely righteous person would have clean water, like Jesus, that is unspoiled and capable of real purification. This works well with the themes in Proverbs because it's always talking about the wise and how they are valuable in making others wise through rebuke. But I think it really shows that in the end our own cleanliness is dependant on God and His grace because wisdom comes from Him, and without Him we'd just be trying to clean each other with eternally dirty waters. :D
Also I wonder if it could be applied to bodies of people as well? Such as a church? What is the effectiveness of a church that bends to the ways of the ungodly? Is it like a murky pond? A stagnant fountain?

Hopes of Mercy Around the Wicked?

Proverbs 21:10, "The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes" (RSV). Some people seem to think that wicked people will magically start caring for people given enough time and patience. I'm not sure if this wishful thinking is true, and I think this is a hint of it. Only with a changed heart can they truly care, and there's a lot of chastisement recommended in Proverbs for wrongs committed. Seems to me that just sitting there isn't going to help.
Along with this, Proverbs 25:21-22 recommends, "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you" (RSV). For which I wonder if this also refers to your wicked neighbor who only desires evil?

8th of June 2004
late evening
DSL Finally Works!

Verizon finally sent me a new modem last week and I had it by Thursday! Finally after 3 weeks of hassling their tech support and explaining to them that they already tried doing something 3-4 times previously (which hadn't work at all and yet they were still suggesting it as a solution), they sent me a modem! I don't know who is more at fault, the tech support, or the people who try to save money by telling tech support to repeat troubleshooting advice over and over for the millionth time even though it's never worked because it's less costly than sending a new modem. :(

Justice is Important to God

Proverbs 21:3, "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice" (RSV). Do we ever set aside doing what's right and only do things because it's easier to do? I think it's quite hard to be just because it might mean some people may not like you, whereas giving sacrifices is more passive and allows things to continue in relative peace.

What Justice Looks Like to Evildoers

Proverbs 21:15, "It is joy to the righteous to do justice; But it is a destruction to the workers of iniquity" (ASB). Sometimes I think people think it's wrong to hurt an evildoers feelings. According to this proverb, it's probably wrong to think doing what is right will do anything but hurt them!

1st of June 2004
late evening
The People Pleasers

Proverbs 18:24, "The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Amplified Bible). Friends you can count on stand for something, and they stand up for what is right, and will defend you when you've been wronged. If a friend wishes to have many friends, and please others, they may let you down for the sakes of others and be wishy-washy when they should be firm. I think this is sometimes reflected in our relationship with Christ. Any of those times we fail to be His friend by neglecting to say those things we feel people may reject us for saying. And any of those times we try to appear comfortable (being joyful) with others when in we know Christ wouldn't have delighted in what was being done.
Now, this is an interesting verse because it has several translations too, although this one seems the best. The Living Bible says, "There are 'friends' who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother," which is similar to the RSV translation, yet the ASB is closer to the Amplified Bible. The KJB says, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Altogether, I believe they all mean the same, telling the difference between a 'pretender' friend (deception) versus the 'true' friend (honest). What type of friend am I? That's the question I think should be asked!

Why Protecting the Unrighteous is Wrong

I've seen it happen multiple times over among Christians, and it's slowly tearing me apart from them because I see the lack of God's justice they uphold. The lack of justice cheapens God's grace because sin goes uncorrected. Proverbs 18:5, "To respect the person of the wicked and be partial to him, so as to deprive the [consistently] righteous of justice, is not good" (Amplified Bible). So often we think by being kind to the wicked we will gain their favor and help them, but I don't believe this is true and neither does God. Proverbs 19:19 shows the error in being kind to the wicked, "A man of great wrath shall suffer the penalty; for if you deliver him [from the consequences], he will [feel free to] cause you to do it again" (Amplified Bible), or as the Living Bible says, "A short-tempered man must bear his own penalty; you can't do much to help him. If you try once you must try a dozen times!"

More Encouragement to Ask and Seek

Earlier I found something similar. It makes me want to just make a table of all the Proverbs that talk about similar topics because this topic of not being hasty in jumping to conclusions is one I value. Proverbs 18:13, "He who answers a matter before he hars the facts--it is folly and shame to him" (Amplified Bible).

Admonition to Those Who Know Enough

Proverbs 18:15, "The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge" (Amplified Bible). I know people who fear or dismiss seeking understanding because they think of it as being unpleasant. I'm always feeling restless in my own desire to understand, which seems to put me at odds with many people, so I find this verse encouraging! :D If only more people also could also find value in this verse.