Wednesday, November 29, 2006


This place is growing colder as the sun is slowly setting. My shadow grows longer with every minute that the sun sets. The closer the sun is to disappearing, the bigger a shadow I cast. Indeed the impact I have on the world is a dark, obscure blackness. I am nothing but an obstacle to the sun. My mark on the world grows larger, the more the sun sets, but should it finally set I would be wholly unseen.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Follow Me


This past week has been one of exceptional spiritual dryness for me. I had no desire to be in communion with God. I had no desire to do anything but veg out. When Jaynie told me no one had signed up to speak and asked me to do the message, I felt entirely disinclined to do it, and even felt as though I would be hypocritical in doing it. This was a false sense of shame at my spiritual state; an excuse to avoid doing what I could feel God was calling me to do. Even though I was running from God this week, I could still feel Him calling to me.
Today, He reached me. I’m not sure if it was through the prayers of others, but He certainly made Himself known to me today. He got to me through the meditation of Scripture. He got to me through His Son Jesus Christ, who in His life of humility said two simple words: follow me. As one who believes in Jesus and the words He said, I need to act on them. I need to follow Him.
Follow Me, says the One who chose to live a life of humility. Follow Me, says the One who followed the will of His Father to death. Follow Me, says the One who claimed divinity. Follow Me, said the carpenter from Nazareth. Follow Me, said the One crucified for blasphemy against the One True God.
Follow Me, He said to Peter and Andrew; they did. Follow Me, he said to Matthew and Philip; they did. Abandon your own desires, and follow Me. Follow Me; follow My obedience to the Father, and my insatiable desire for Him.
These two simple words caused Peter, Andrew, Matthew and Philip to abandon the life they knew and embrace a new one. They followed Him wherever He went. They absorbed His teachings, observed His life, and did what He told them to do.
Has this command changed in the last 2000 years? Has He come to expect a different response from us than He did from His disciples in the last two millennia? No, the call is unchanged, and He expects the same response from us who believe in Him.
How does this response translate to us today? Obviously, we cannot go where He goes, since He no longer walks the earth. We are to follow the example of His life. His drive was to do the will of the Father; indeed, He had a thirst to be in communion with His Father. So, it should be with us. My desire to avoid the Father this week was sin. I was not following Jesus in this.
Follow Me. Does this mean that we all have to sacrifice our lives on the cross? Does this mean that all of us are being called to do big, extravagant things for God; that He is going to use all of us to reach thousands of people? These questions arise from our tendency to focus solely on the death and resurrection of Christ. We forget the countless times we are told that He withdrew to the mountains to pray; or the times of fasting; or the times of simply having fellowship with His disciples. Jesus did not just do the will of His Father in extravagant, grandiose ways. He did His Father’s will in every detail of His life.
“The thing readiest to be done, those which lie, not at the door, but on the very table, of a man’s mind, are not merely in general the most neglected, but even by the thoughtful man, the oftenest let alone, the oftenest postponed… Truth is one, and he who does the truth in the small thing is of the truth; he who will do it only in a great thing, who postpones the small thing near him to the great farther from him, is not of the truth.”
– Mac Donald
When Christ called His disciples, He did not call them only during the times of miracles and points of major impact, He called them to follow in the quiet times as well. We are not called to do major things for God. “Do you desire great things for yourself? Do not desire them?” We are called to follow Christ, through the small things of life. I avoided heeding His call this week. I feel there were times when doing the dishes, or praying at a certain time, reading at a certain time, were His call for my life. I didn’t follow Him, and so my life had no hint of the things I believe, the things at my core.
Follow Me. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Get over yourself, because you are not important. The will of my Father is important, so follow Me.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Existentialist Experience of a Non-Existentialist

If (God's) help is not a metaphor, neither are (His) commands. If (He) can answer when you call, then (He) can speak without your asking. If you can go to (Him), (He) can come to you. - C.S. Lewis

There is nothing certain, nothing except the nothingness of everything that is incomprehensible to me, and the greatness of something incomprehensible but all-important! -Leo Tolstoy

It’s been nearly 2 years since I first came to Korea. The time has gone by quickly, and many things have changed. This weekend I visited my friends in Suji. I enjoy visiting my friends, but really, the thing that draws me back to the Seoul area is skateboarding. The Jon’s and I had a great session on Friday night in Suji. The place isn’t an awesome place for skateboarding, but we had a great session nevertheless. On Saturday, they wanted so badly to go to Suwon. I wanted not to go to Suwon with equal emotional intensity.
Suwon seems to deflate all excitedness I have for skateboarding. It would be no different this time. Upon getting off the bus, an unidentifiable stench invaded my nostrils, causing me to gag. Ah yes, Suwon, the city of a thousand smells. After our noses got used to the symbolic miasma, we skated to the skatepark – the reason Johnny T and Aussie Jon wanted to come here. As I skated to the gate, I saw the first sign of how this day would go; the gate was locked. It had begun; Suwon had begun to strangle the joy out of skateboarding.

We threw our boards over the fence and hopped it, but when Aussie Jon jumped on his board, his front wheels came off – he had snapped his kingpin. Since we didn’t know of any skateshops in Suwon, AJ would have to borrow one of our boards while we were resting. He and John began skating the mini-pipe. All of a sudden I heard groaning and exasperations. John’s board had somehow ended up under the big pipe, square in the middle. They spent about 20 minutes trying to get it out. I ate kimbap and laughed.
When the boys had their fill of this joy-stealing place, we rode on. We decided to stop at a place we saw on the way. There was a nice little 3-stair here, and we had some fun at it – until Suwon struck again! John and I decided to do the 3 stair at the same time, figuring it would make for a cool video. The problem was that the stairway was narrow, so we weren’t very confident. John fell and somehow hurt his back. We skated a little while longer, then left.
We were heading to Bundang to go to the skate shop, and then do the ‘Bundang Trek,’ but time was running short. We were supposed to meet my friend Min-Ho for dinner at 6:30, and didn’t have enough time to skate and shower. We decided to skate Ori, which is much closer to Suji, instead. I’m glad we did.
Although I didn’t feel much like skating, the energy in the air refreshed my bones and restored my joy of skateboarding. I was landing my kickflips and varial flips consistently, I pulled ollies and 180’s off the big 3 without missing. I decked out a tre flip on a small bank smoothly. I shove-it’d the big 3 and even did the 7 stair. I was feeling it again! Then we went across the street and it got even better. There were these little wavy pieces of marble that are usually covered with water, but weren’t this time. They were so fun to skate. Then Suwon extended its long fingers to Ori for one final blow. AJ snapped Johnny T’s deck. He felt terrible, and that signaled the end of the Ori skate session. We headed back to Suji, and made plans with AJ to meet later in Itaewon, and then skate Yongsan.
As we got to John’s door, he started looking frantically in his bag for something. ‘Where are my keys,’ he asked, as if I would know. The losing of his keys was the official sign-off for the night, as well as the beginning of many phone calls to cancel plans, pick locks, and make keys. We hung out with AJ, Britt, Stef, Ruth, and a guy named Jody the rest of the night.

The next day I woke up, had some toast and met Min-Ho in Gangnam. We had tea and juice and a nice conversation. He’s a nice man and I enjoy having conversations with him. After that I headed to the bus station, thinking that no more excitement would be coming my way.
Then came the bus ride home. For some reason this ride had a profound impact on me. Looking out the window at the rivers, rice fields, villages, and mist-covered mountains, I could feel the presence of God in my soul. It comforted me. The beauty of His creation has always had a quiet, peace-giving effect on me. I sat there on the bus, enjoying God’s creation and listening to Him speak to me. I could hear Him telling me that this is the end of the road for a part of me. Some part of me which I had previously deemed important to the make-up of who I am would be departing from my inner framework. Fittingly, the song ‘The End of an Era’ by Hopesfall began to play. This was a song which I listened to frequently at the beginning of my stay in Korea. I sat back and enjoyed the moment, enjoyed the peace and the reverential feelings that overtook my soul.
These moments come infrequently in a man’s life, yet they leave their mark on his soul. My internal being was changed. We grow physically not of our own will, but by the natural design of God. In such a manner, there are moments of internal growth that do not come by our own will, but by the perfect design of God. I’m not sure what changed in me, but something did. I thank God for the change, and look forward to following His leading in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pictures from 'a story of three friends'

A Story of Three Friends

North Korea is threatening to bomb the world with nukes. Bush is doing what he can to annihilate the idea of democracy. Stephen Harper is eating a hot dog. I am keeping aloof from the goings-on of the world, and exploring the little island which God has in His grace planted me. This weekend Johnny T and Aussie Jon came and visited me. I picked them up at about 3am on Saturday from the bus station. After arriving at my place, we all decided there was only one thing to do - skate. It's great to have friends that are on the same page as you. Every time we get together we skate. That's what we do. We don't necessarily talk a whole lot with each other, but we don't need to. Sometimes with friends there is an unspoken understanding that you are friends because you have a common enjoyment of life. These friendships are the ones that I value the most. I guess the reason I value these friendships is because of the relationship I have with my dad. We don't necessarily talk a lot, but we understand each other when we're with each other, and enjoy the moments we spend together - unspoken or otherwise.

Whenever friends come to visit me on my quaint little island, Saturday always seems to bring unspeakable feelings of comradery, and a reverential awe of what God has given us to enjoy. It also always seems to tire me out beyond recuperation. This Saturday was no different. We began the day at about 9am, despite the late night. We stirred ourselves from sleep, talked about the day ahead, and I made us a pasta/cheese dish for brunch. Then the day really began. I decided to show them something different.

We headed out towards an abandoned amusement park that I found earlier this week. On Thursday, after driving my girlfriend to the ferry terminal, I looked up and saw a rollercoaster on top of a hill. How I had never seen this before escapes my rumination. The boys were more than happy to check the place out. Apparently the place had closed down due to the death of a child several years earlier. The grounds had been deserted for many years.

We began our inspection of the place by simply observing the wonders that surrounded us. In Johnny T's words, "this would be a great place to shoot a horror film." The ghosts of past patrons filled the desolate parkways; the bygone laughter of children echoed off the shattered windows of empty gamehouses. The place demanded a reverential pursuit of fun. Johnny T and I decided this would be a great place for the intro to our second documentary; john and jeff's excellent adventure in korea, pt 2. We climbed onto the long since ridden tracks of a roller coaster, and walked along its tracks to the loading house.
Walking along the tracks would have been sketchy if the metal was new, but years without maintenance made this walk dangerous. The track consisted of two main cylinders of steel, with metal grates in between. The track was supported by steel cross-sections that ran perpendicular to the track. We tried to walk on the cross-sections instead of the weak, bending, rusted and sometimes hole-filled metal grate. After walking around a curve we made it to the loading station. This station provided a great view of the city below. One of the coasters was situated at the bottom of the first hill. We decided to walk the tracks to the coaster and take some pics.

The entry was blocked by tree branches growing over the tracks. This little trek of ours was a little frightening. I plugged on through the bushes, receiving several cuts from the thorny branches, and inched my way up to the coaster. In order to get into the coaster, I had to step off the track onto a little side platform at the bottom of the big hill. This platform had no real supports under it - they were under the four corners -and consisted of the same weak metal grating that was in the center of the tracks. The railing was rusted and flimsy.

After this we walked around the grounds for a while, absorbing the curious images we were seeing before us - bumper cars strewn around everywhere, air hockey tables in the middle of a walkway, giant shoes sitting on the brick path. We made our way up to the old viking ship and hopped in. The thing started to move, and we thought maybe we'd be able to push ourselves into a ride. Then we noticed the chains. One of the chains was well-rusted, and could probably be smashed open with a rock, but the other was fairly new. Disappointed at this failed prospect, we skated the platform like a mini-ramp. The view was pretty spectacular, as it was from nearly every area of the once-bustling park.

Walking back down the hill, the idea to construct a kicker and gap over the railing into the bumper car ring forced its way into our minds. We began searching for materials to bring this plan to fruition. I found a piece of plywood which was both strong and thin enough to make for a good ramp. Now we needed supports for underneath it. I found a plastic seat which Aussie Jon and I brought over and laid sideways, propping the plywood up on it. Unfortunately, although it was the right height, there was too much empty space left at the start of the ramp. We needed something else.

"What about this piece of metal?" I heard Johnny T call out.

"What piece of metal?" I answered.

He crawled out of some bushes with a solid white metal frame, with metal bars running down through the metal. Pure genius! He laid the metal on the plastic seat and placed the plywood on top of the metal. Now we only needed to test this work of art, and there was only one way to do that - go full steam at it. I went to the hill which would be our starting point and started rolling down towards a possible injury. The thing that worried me was the thickness of the plywood. I was afraid that upon rolling up to the ramp, the wheels would catch on the edge of the plywood and I would be propelled forward into the railing.

It turned out that the setup was perfect and I was propelled into the air naturally by the ramp. What a great feeling! I love skateboarding, and it's always most satisfying for me when I skate something that my friends and I have set up ourselves, or when I skate something that's never been skated before. We skated the ramp for about 45 minutes.

After skating the ramp we continued to explore the park, which was deceptively large. We walked down a pathway to another rollercoaster and some traditional spinny rides. The view from here was spectacular. We skated a concrete pad with glass everywhere, and then chilled on the scattercars.

We goofed around a little taking pictures and trying to skate the cars. There was really nothing more to do other than handplants and dropping in off them.

After saying goodbye to the mesmerising amusement park, we drove away, heading south to the infamous cliffs. It was a great drive, and it was really great to be able to enjoy it with friends. We listened to various music and stopped at different places to take pictures. The first thing we did was to stop at an ostrich farm and look at some ostriches. These birds are surprisingly gigantic, and a little unnerving. They seem like creatures that possess great strength, and could certainly make short work of a human. We watched them from behind the fence.

Following this strange circus, we continued non-stop to the cliffs. The cliffs were just as beautiful as I remembered them. Unfortunately, as soon as we got to them, three giant jellyfish were visible right around our swimming area. As we got nearer to the place, we saw how huge these jellyfish actually were. The largest one had to have been at least three feet in diameter. It was simply huge. We decided that it would be okay to swim since we could see the jellyfish from above - but someone needed to stay on jellyfish duty while the others were jumping.

We climbed over to the spot where we could jump from, and I went to the water to check the temperature. It was a little cold, but not cold enough to keep us from enjoying the water. I approached the first platform, but the only thing I could think about was those jellyfish. They were haunting me, and the fear of them paralyzed me from jumping. I called for a rock-paper-scissors decision to see who should jump first. Aussie Jon lost and had to go. HA HA HA.... I was safe. It seems like everywhere I go, I'm usually the one doing the testing of things to make sure they're safe. I got lucky this time, and could rest assured knowing that both John's had to go before me.

The cliff jumping was good that day. The water was calm, and the sun was beating down just hot enough. We sat on the rocks and enjoyed the scenery for about an hour. We talked, I took a nap, and the boys took some great pictures. I really love this place. There was a Korean couple fishing on a nearby cliff, and they were watching us while we were jumping into the water. A few boats came by as well, checking their crab cages and greeting us with rapid waving gestures.

After the cliffs, we went to Haegeumgang, which is a section of beautiful rock formations and rich, deep blue-green water. We saw a few giant jellyfish in the water, and then saw what we thought was a sting ray. Excitedly, we sought a place to get close to the water to verify whether or not it really was a stingray. We found a place that we could climb down. It was a gap between two cliff faces. When we got to the spot where we thought we saw the sting ray, there was nothing. There was nothing that accounted for the mysterious shadows we saw in the water.

When we were leaving, there was a flock of goats on the cliff face directly above us. I began bleating back at them, trying to effectively communicate that we wanted to see a goat brawl on the cliffs. They seemed to understand me, and some of them started fighting each other. Rocks were flying off the cliffs, and goats were either asserting their supremacy or running away from their superiors. After standing there about twenty minutes, Aussie Jon summed up the situation pretty nicely. "We're watching goats," he said. We all just laughed and then started walking away, arguing over the true usefulness of goats.

This marked the end of the day for us, and we began our drive back home, enjoying the sunshine, scenery, and music. One day can be enough to make a man peaceful for a month. One hour can change a seemingly hectic life into one of tranquility. I'm sure that while I was enjoying the beautiful terrain, all throughout the world many people had many problems, and many leaders made many selfish, broad-sweeping decisions which would affect the direction of the modern world. They had their problems, I had my God and my life. I enjoyed them both.