Archive for June, 2004

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Moving Day

June 28, 2004

After church last Sunday, I moved from where I was living in Diamond Bar to downtown Los Angeles, namely USC (personally, I’m partial to the TU Trojans). I live in campus housing in an apartment complex called Troy (is there a theme here?) I’m living with a couple and there 6 month old daughter who enjoys a good cry. Lora works for USC and supervises some of the dorms and Grant is a producer for The Average Joe. He will be on location in August at an undisclosed location under penalty of breaching a 2 million dollar confidentiality contract. And if I didn’t know it before, I know it now: I live in LA. It seems like everyone really is in “the business” and the cliché that “everyone is writing a screen play” isn’t far from the truth. Their apartment is designed to house 5-6 students, therefore, I have my own sleeping room and my own bathroom. It’s a pretty sweet gig considering that I’m living there for free. The first few days have been interesting, navigating my way from parking meter to parking meter. There are only certain times you can park on certain sides of the streets and for a certain number of hours at a time. I will be getting a parking permit soon so that I can go directly to a lot. It is definitely going to take some getting use to. Diamond Bar is pretty much suburb-ish, nice, quiet and family friendly. Los Angeles is a full-fledged city, complete with miles of concrete and constant noise. I basically live in a place that is completely opposite from anything I’ve known. Living in Minneapolis is as close as I can compare to living in LA, and that is not saying much. So, cheers! Here’s to more learning adventures!

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Observations About Worship

June 28, 2004

My first big project at Mosaic was to put together the LA Tour, a trip to different spiritual centers around the city, in order to gain a better understanding of the spiritual and cultural diversity of Los Angeles. Saturday (6.19) was the day it all came together.

We met at Macarthur Park at 10:00 am…well, sort of. Unbeknownst to me, Macarthur Park is apparently a place where you can buy crack any time of day (or whatever your choice of drug). It seemed friendly enough, but I guess looks can be deceiving. Shoot, it’s LA. Nothing is what it seems. So we began the day with people wondering why we were meeting there and also not being able to find it. Eventually we all came together at about 10:30 am. By 10:45 we were on our way to the Zen Buddhist Center where I had scheduled us to have a tour of their facility. Jaime (Spanish pronunciation, “hi-may”) is one of the youth pastor’s at Mosaic and he was my help for the day. Since he has lived in LA for 10 years, he was a great source of information. I had printed off driving directions for all of the drivers, but we didn’t leave from the spot from where I had planned all the directions (Macarthur Park) because we ended up having to meet people elsewhere who couldn’t find the park. So from the get go, everything was off a bit, which I am learning is typical Mosaic fashion. It all comes together in the end. We needed to get going and I didn’t know how to get to the Zen Center from where we were, so I said to Jaime, “do you know how to get to the Zen Buddhists Center?” He’s said yes and for me and everyone else to follow him. So I did. Ten minutes later we were on the 60 heading east (aka. Away from downtown; every stop I had planned was downtown so we wouldn’t have much driving to do). Come to find out, Jaime was taking us to the largest Buddhist temple in North America, located in Hacienda Heights, California (a suburb of LA). However, that’s not where I set up the tour. We were all ready well on our way and so we continued on. I called the other temple and apologized profusely. Hopefully that relationship isn’t too damaged.

Stepping into this house of worship was quite an experience. I’ve never actually seen people in the act of worship other than Christians. To see many devout followers come and bow before the Buddha and bring their offerings was quite disturbing. My discernment was on high alert. Although it was disturbing, one thing has rested with me since then, and that is the reverence with which Buddhists come to worship. All is quiet in the temple. Reflective. Contemplative. Reverent. As I think about this I wonder why such reverence isn’t shown in most of our Christian houses of worship. So, as happens often, I began to think about that. First of all, as the body of Christ, “WE are God’s field, God’s temple. It is in the hearts of men and women in which God resides, not in the building. Our problem with reverence has less to do with the lack of a quiet, contemplative atmosphere of the structure in which the Church gathers and more to do with the reverence of the heart as it bows before its Creator. Our lives are to be reverent…how hard is that! Nonetheless, this is what we are to strive for. As for quiet contemplation, it is certainly of great value, as is an atmosphere of reverence. But I just wanted to note something about our God. He likes to be celebrated, and he likes it loud. I just finished reading 2 Chronicles 5-6. In these chapters the author tells of the finishing touches that are being put on Solomon’s temple and the ceremony of its dedication. What commotion! What hoopla! Read it, and see if you don’t get excited! He is not a God of chaos, but he is a God of celebration.

Praise God that he loves variety in worship. That we don’t always have to tiptoe in silence, take our shoes off (although a good practice sometimes) or bow many times over. Praise God that he loves dancing, singing, shouting and sweet sweet melodies! We may feel free to approach him in whatever way our hearts so desire, whether in silence or in shouts.

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Believe In Action

June 28, 2004

It is now almost a week since last Sunday, and I find myself scraping to recall all of what I wanted to remember and write down. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to remember. The passage was James 2:14-26 and the proverb was “Believe in Action”. This was a really hard hitting message about how faith and works cannot be separated. Faith is an action word. Faith cannot exist apart from action. Some notes:

-if James were living today, he would certainly separate between the religion of Christianity and the true followers of Christ

-when you “have faith” you feel good about God; we’ve made it a spiritual version of emotions; when you confirm the right things about God, you “have faith” BUT FAITH IS NEITHER COGNITION OR EMOTION

-reality for God is what we create with our lives
faith always creates action

-faith is not what you have organized in your brain (ahhh, one of those moments when you know someone is speaking directly to you; I need to hear this one)

-there is an inseparable relationship between your connection with God and your connection with people

-our actions in the end betray us, and in the end you will do what you believe

-relationships prove your connection to God; relationships are where the rubber meets the road, where “faith” is shown for what it is

-Abraham and Rahab had absolute confidence in the character of God; you cannot live a life of faith without absolute confidence in God’s character

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Make Every Word Count

June 28, 2004

James 3:1-12

“What if at the end of every day, God gave you a manuscript of all the things you said that day and required you to read it? We would begin to make every word count.”

-your words contain the power to create and the power to destroy

-we will be held accountable for the result of our influence on the lives of others

-we are creatures of influence; we are all shaped by the influence of others whether for good or bad

-What one word has had the most influence on you?

-embrace the words God has spoken into your life

-God desires us to speak hope, peace and future into people’s lives

-language has exponential potential

-have you ever said something to hurt someone a little bit, but instead it cut right through their heart?

-your words give you a good idea of how much control you have over yourself

-whatever you begin to say about yourself will be true; our words shape the reality in which we live

-DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR DREAMS ARE POSSIBLE?

-one word spoken into someone’s life can steer the direction of that person’s life, whether hope, encouragement, disappointment or death

-in the end you will not be able to tame your tongue because your words reflect your deep spiritual condition

-SPEAK LIFE. MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT. OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT.

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Catch Up At The Apple Store

June 28, 2004

I’m currently sitting in the Apple Store at a ritzy mall off the Santa Monica Freeway (aka. the 10) and feeling very low class in my t-shirt and jeans. There is something crazy going on with my screen display for no apparent reason. My trusted Mac friend, Chris, suggested I get it taken care of right away. I’m a bit nevous about having something potentially wrong with my great new purchase. I’m in line at the Genius Bar (aka. mac’s fix-it station) patiently waiting my turn, so I thought I would catch up on some writing. It has been kind of a crazy last week, hence the me not writing so much. Actually, I was in Las Vegas for 4 days this past week visiting some family that were there on vacation (for the blog of my trip see Las Vegas Top Ten blog). I’m currently working on more project with Mosaic. Jason (another intern) and I are helping start a small group in downtown LA with Antonio. Antonio goes to Mosaic and Jason and I are basically here to assist him in getting things started. Our goal is to make sure we put in enough effort so that the group lasts beyond the summer when we are gone (maybe if I’m gone). I just finished a book review for Eric (the young adult pastor) called Twentysomething: surving and thriving in the real world (see blog on Twentysomething). I’m also helping put together an overnight retreat called The Portal. The purpose of the retreat is to learn to hear God through the scriptures. Peter (an intern) and I are getting together this week to put some details together. Peter will be a senior at Taylor. We were in school together, in the same major, knew some of the same people, but met in LA.

Last night after church and clean up, I went out with some people. Actually, this group goes out every Sunday after the 5:00 service to hang out, and sometimes it’s not cheap. Okay, it’s never cheap. Last night especially. We went to a hotel called The Standard in downtown LA. We ate at the restaraunt there ($7 for hummus and pita bread, it was good though) and proceeded to the rooftop where there was a bar and a small dance floor. Talk about a new experience. I will begin with the atmosphere. The rooftop was fulll of twentysomethings out for a good ol’ time on a Sunday night. That’s right, in case you thought living it up was only for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, you better think again. Usually there is a $20 cover to get up on the top, but Sundays are free. Complete with bar, dance floor, swimming pool and several small vibrating water beds (I know, I didn’t ask) this was like no other rooftop I had ever seen…not that I’m a rooftop expert. Too many people for me to be comfortable (much like church is sometimes), I found myself standing by the railing and looking out on a beautiful view of Los Angeles. It beats being lost in a sea of strangers. Mike (an intern) came over and we chatted it up for a bit about meeting people and the courage it takes. I admired his people skills and the way he seems to easily connect with many different people. We’ve been here the same amount of time and I feel like I don’t know anybody, and he knows everybody. He told it was a learned skill and that he was always a shy person. It was good to talk to him and encouraging to know that there is hope for me to not be such an introvert in big crowds. Besides, how do I tell people about my journey, about Christ, without even approaching them? We talked for a while over the techno beats coming from the dj and enjoyed the night. I was very much ready for bed when I finally got there. Today is my Sabbath and so I’m taking care of ordering my life and just spending time in the quiet. Trying to connect with more with him who made me. Marveling again at his patience.

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Las Vegas Top Ten

June 28, 2004

This past Wednesday evening to Saturday afternoon I found myself in Las Vegas for the first time in my life. What an experience as my mind wondered about such a place and how it even existed; an oasis of hotels and casinos in the middle of a desert. A place full of desperate people, filling themselves with things that do not satisfy. It was great to see family and to take in the new sites. In memory of my vacation and the laughter that was unending I have developed of list of the Top Ten Things I Learned in Las Vegas:

10. I smoked a pack of cigarettes just walking around.
9. 1000 to 1 : Ratio of naked lady images to naked guy images.
8. Old ladies LOVE slot machines.
7. I look older. (I never got carded-people usually think I’m 16-18)
6. Some adults never leave adolesence.
5. Wash your hands.
4. You can play electronic nickel poker for a really long time and still lose you money.
3. Some people carry beer in their back pocket.
2. No one said I couldn’t remove naked lady cards that were stuck in the fences.
1. An unpaid intern has no business being in Las Vegas.

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Notes From the Creativity Retreat

June 26, 2004

-creativity is not the same as artistry
-creativity is not a gift or talent, but an essence of our soul
-we have an accountability to create good for a world that needs to be healed
-declare war on imitation
-give yourself permission to create your future
-we have a choice to use our imagination-the playground of God
-God rested on the 7th day out satisfaction with what he had created
-man’s very first task was one of creativity (Gen 2:18-20)
-by instinct Adam didn’t count the animals, he named them
-our lives are not about fight sin, but about creating good the world has yet to see
-poema: greek for workmanship…we are God’s poem
-this would need you to fulfill your destiny
-spend time in your imagination, creating