Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that sufferingproduces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him fromthe wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:1-11 (ESV)
It seems people always have someone to spend time with; the rest of us always have a whole lot of movies to catch up on.
I had an unbelievably simple dream last night. I was sitting on the couch with a friend and we were just chatting. Just that, pure and simple. It was really wonderful. It was light, relaxing, and refreshing. It served as a good reminder that sometimes the most important and wonderful things in life are also the simplest.
“Thank you” and “How are you?” Two phrases that aren’t said enough. I double dog dare you to use them more in your daily interactions, and (shocker) actually mean it. We are (myself very much included) so consumed with ourselves that we forget that our comrades lead different and actually very interesting lives. Let’s genuinely (actively, not passively) care for one another. Yes, simple words can make a difference. Moreover, actions speak louder than words. Do the math. Thank you.
Oh, and, how are you?
No, not the Kanye song. As some of you may know, and for those who do not, I have been going through a little difficult patch in regard to my job. My future with my current employer has been in limbo, as my original contract has run its course. I won’t divulge too far into this, but I won’t be shady if you’re curious. I want to encourage you all during tough times. For those of you who have experienced this know how unsettling this experience is. Especially for me, being the control freak that I am, the lack of stability in the coming weeks has been rather stressful. This has been looming for the past few months, and I’ve gone back and forth on how I’ve felt. Baseball has always been a dream of mine. If you ask those who have known me the longest, my obsession with this sport goes back many many years. My parent’s will be the first to affirm my lifelong dream of working in the sport. And now that this future is, as previously mentioned, in limbo I now face the reality of once again living apart from the sport I have loved so dearly.
Those who have known of my situation have been extremely kind. They have offered me concern and encouragement, reminding me of Christ’s already completed work in my life. It has definitely been an encouragement, as these people have been pointing me to Christ. If it weren’t for them, my own sinful anger would’ve taken me down a much more destructive path.
There is one such brother who has left a lasting mark. I want to share this with you all, to encourage you as we continue to lift each other up in the name of Jesus. Since hearing of my situation, this brother and his wife, have been so wonderful at keeping in touch with me. Every Sunday, they approach me (sometimes separately) to tell me that they are praying for me. Although we only see each other once a week (sometimes twice) the active role they play in my life has been so encouraging. A few weeks ago, this brother came up to me after service to ask how I was doing. After updating him on my situation, he reacted in a way so different from what I have grown so accustomed to. He reacted in hurt and anguish on my behalf. It was as if he had taken my cloak of burden and put it on himself. I reassured him that I was doing alright and that God was in charge (words I have grown so accustomed to telling people). He continued to tell me that while this was true, that it didn’t mean what the company was doing to me was right. While others were encouraging me from the outside, this brother took it upon himself to walk in my shoes. Up until this point, it seemed like no one really saw my situation the way I did. This brother understood where I was coming from. He knew that there is assurance in Christ, but he also took the time to “weep” with me.
This is a great portrayal of Christ. Jesus walked on this earth for us. He died on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead, defeating sin, for us. This is the God who wept with Mary and Martha over the death of their brother Lazarus even though he knew Lazarus would rise again. He knows what we go through. I have this assurance in Christ, and regardless of this outcome, I will stand victorious washed clean by the blood of the lamb. Jesus can easily tell us that everything will be alright. He can tell us not to worry. But he has and continues to goes the extra mile, and walks with us every step of the way. There is no disconnect. We are one with the God we worship. This is true encouragement.
It’s funny how much easier it is to believe lies when you’re upset. These are the time’s I need to be extra purposeful in reminding myself of Christ’s completed victory in my life. It’s quite unfortunate that the times I feel most motivated to write are the times I am most upset. It’s interesting how that works. Quite often (especially on the train) I am filled with many thoughts that I would like to share with the community around me. By the time I’m in front of a computer, the urgency to write has dispersed. Hopefully I’ll be able to write during these times of joy to encourage those who do stop by and read my ramblings. Sometimes I will rant because I am not very good at doing so in person.
I also want to encourage you all out there to write. It’s a skill that unfortunately seems to be diminishing in our generation of instant messaging lingo, Facebook status’ and tweets. There is no longer a need to beautifully write our thoughts in a comprehensive manner. It’ll also give me more decent material to read and it’ll allow you to practice writing. Win-win situation, don’t you think? I’m also curious with what’s going on in your lives. This isn’t a skill that becomes unnecessary after school. Sorry, I’m starting to sound preachy. This must be my cue to stop for the night!
"People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they are really saying is that something that you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened."
— (You’ve Got Mail, 1998)
I’m torn on the matter of friendship. Sometimes it seems overrated, but other times seems vastly underrated. Last night (Friday) after work, I was faced with a decision. This is a decision I commonly face after lunch on Fridays. What will my evening and Saturday look like. To a large majority of you, these next 36 hours make up the highlight of your week. For me, it reminds me of this concept called friendship. Probably part of the problem is that most of the people I consider “friends” are still in college. No matter how much they may claim to understand friendship, they haven’t left the confines of school and experienced a world without borders. In college, we were forced to make friends. It was a tool for survival and for success. We sat next to the same people for semesters at a time, we needed people to eat with and to study with. Outside of school, that demand no longer exists. Friends become, for a lack of a better word, almost an accessory or luxury. It really isn’t, but it just comes off as being that way. You are stuck in the office from 9-5 and after 5 you’re just too tired to do anything adventurous or anything that requires much effort.
Yesterday, I decided to force a little courage and do something I would normally never consider. After work, I went to MoMA and picked up a ticket to watch a film. A friday evening to myself (normal), but outside the confines of my home (abnormal). I had a couple hours to kill before the movie, so did the logical thing and visited the exhibits. Walking around slowly because I was really just killing time, quietly, I absorbed the art around me. Breaking away from normal tendencies, I thoroughly read all the descriptions with a desire to learn something new. At first, my attitude was that of disgust. Various thoughts arising in my mind, “Tim, you’re a loser,” to “What are you doing here?” But with some pensive reflecting, the conclusion was that this ended up being a somewhat therapeutic activity. As stupid and hipster as it may sound, I decided to let the art speak to me.
When it became time, I proceeded down to the theatre located on premise in the museum. It was my first time watching a movie alone at a venue other than my own home. For some reason, I always had a problem with going to the movies alone. The film playing was a Chinese indie film (Mandarin + subtitles). Typical deep and dark indie. After the movie, I quietly collected my belongings and made my way home. Overall, I considered it a successful evening. Quiet, but nonetheless successful and enjoyable.
This leads to some observations made with my 20/20 hindsight glasses on. Although I enjoyed my evening, I didn’t once smile. Rather, I had to constantly remind myself that I am sufficient with Christ alone. That belief hasn’t changed. I have to accept the fact that I won’t always be surrounded by friends, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that my life is of any less value. It is during these times I have to further bury myself into the truth of the gospel. My identity isn’t about the people who surround me, but about the Lord I represent daily. In response to yesterday, I have to acknowledge that his grace and mercy are sufficient to me. The friends I have around me are a gift from above, and the desire is that they are around spur me heavenward. Even as life is currently cloaked in a long robe of uncertainty, the victory has already been won. Friends, job, money, family are all excellent and extremely important but none of that can compare to the perfect and just love of Christ.
Contrasting our problems with the gift of a second chance is very revealing. So, regardless of where I may be in the coming months, the one constant will be Christ.
When I was a young lad I had one dream, to become a baseball player. More specifically, to become an all-star catcher who would lead his team to a world championship. I even had my career stats written out in a notebook. I don’t remember them exactly, but it was definitely a hall of fame worthy career. We all have dreams. Some dreams live and some fade over time. My dream didn’t fade over time nor did it really live out, but it sort of adjusted itself. You could say I had a semi-decent grip on reality. The fact was, I was never really good at baseball. I loved it more than anyone else and probably studied it harder than all my friends. But no matter how hard I practiced or willed myself to become better, I was just not as naturally gifted. Taking that fact in stride, I decided that instead of playing I wanted to manage. I didn’t want to be an on-field manager, but rather the person who managed the structure of the team. From age 11 or 12, my goal was to become a general manager.
Let’s fast forward to college. My playing career had long been over. I wasn’t awful, but also wasn’t good by any means. College is a time when dreams and reality meet. At this point, we are all given a choice. We have to decide whether it is the dream that is going to shape reality or reality that is going to shape the dream. From my own humble observations, the general trend seems to side with the latter. Various students at various institutions begin to shape their dreams around their realities. Income and stability become very real and important issues. Whether it be pressure from family or even self, many students begin the pursuit of a career that will hopefully lead to decent wealth and the ability to move up this preconceived hierarchy of needs.
When I first enrolled in university, to the disapproval of my mother, my major was sport management. By the end of my second year, it had shifted over to communications. I had finally let the world deceive me into believing that my baseball dream was dead. I got a job working on a film and really enjoyed it. I decided that there was a future in this. Perhaps my love for sports was meant to remain just some crazy obsession.
But today, I can look back and see that for the past 9 months I’ve been working in sports. I work just a few doors down from our team’s general manager. The man with the job I wanted since I was a young lad says hello and sometimes even tries to pull pranks. Though only signed on through April, even getting this far has already been such a miracle. To be honest, I fear the thought of potentially working elsewhere, but at the same time I would’ve never imagined working for a professional sports team. If God has brought me along this far, I know he has something planned. But likewise, if his plan is different I have to be able to accept and adjust to his calling.
So what am I trying to touch upon here? We have one life to live here on this earth. Don’t be satisfied with just surviving. Christ has already perfected a plan for us. Pursue the dreams he has placed in your hearts, but do makes sure that these dreams are indeed from him. There have been a lot of people who have doubted me along the way. I’ve heard it all, ranging from the people closest to me all the way to people who barely knew me. The general consensus was that my dream was too unrealistic. But, what is the point of a dream if it is going to be left alone? Even after I had concluded my dream was not possible, God turned it into reality.
We’ll see where I am in a few months, but for now I’m going to savor this daily. Hopefully I’ll still have the same employer, but if God tells me to move… I will. I will be excited to and will live for his glory wherever he may lead me. Happy dreaming and pursuing said dreams!
If you saw a friend suffering or struggling, wouldn’t you want to help them out? Simply acknowledging a situation won’t make anything better. If you truly cared, you would take a proactive stance. Simply hoping or wishing for the best seems extremely careless. I admit though, there are certain circumstances such as proximity.
But from a personal perspective I can say that quite often it is people physically farther away who seem to care considerably more than those closest. The world rarely seems to make perfect sense.