Showing posts with label 100-word Thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 100-word Thoughts. Show all posts

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tree Conspiracies, and the Ironies of Language Randomness

My wife (still fun to write!) and I just put up a Christmas tree together for the first time—our Christmas tree. I don't get overly excited about these sorts of things, and frankly I find myself disgusted by much of what passes for "Christmas" tradition: I'd rather focus on Christ's advent into this world. And, as my family can attest, trees and ornaments really haven't done much for me the past few years. Even so, I deeply enjoyed spending the time with my wife and the tree, covered in ornaments, looks rather lovely.



Circumstances do seem, as they say, to conspire against us sometimes. The very moments when we find ourselves rejoicing in a success, it's wiped away before our eyes. We are tempted to rage at God, and sometimes, like the Psalmist, we do rage at Him. In those moments, I return to an unshakeable confidence that the last few years have birthed in me. No matter how little I see God's sovereign goodness in the moment, I know in the depths of my soul that He is in control of every circumstance, and He is good.



Language is a funny thing. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there is both power in simplicity and beauty in sprawling language. As much as some of my friends may protest, Dostoevsky remains one of the greatest authors ever to live—because of, and not in spite of, his wordiness. In layering word upon word, phrase upon phrase, he built up scenes and sometimes entire days of narrative in ways that resonate deeply with me whenever I read his works. More, he does so in a way that fewer words could not accomplish.



I reflected yesterday, in a moment of dreadful irony, that it's a terrible thing to be forced to study interesting topics for work. I find it even more dreadful that my pay is contingent on learning and applying intriguing ideas. I mean, really! It's quite an affront to my general sensibilities: work ought to be dull, boring, and and unexceptional in every way. The notion that it could be interesting has never crossed my mind, and I'm not sure whether to be frightened or infuriated by the concept. Perhaps meditating on the tastiness of chocolate chip cookies will help.



And now, for a bunch of random—wait, make that miscellaneous, as none of this is actually random—things to fill up the end of the post. First, my mom has written more blog posts in the last week than in the preceding 17 months. I find that impressive, most impressive—but I'll end the Darth Vader imitation now. Second, I cannot remember what the second miscellany was to be. Third, I remembered: because it's been so long, she's still pointing to my old blog. Fourth, there's something mildly amusing about critiquing brevity in writing in posts designed to practice just that...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From LEGOs to Theology Proper to Tasty Food [5 100-word thoughts]

LEGO Star Wars is the most purely enjoyable game I have played since MYST. (The two games couldn't be more different, but they both appeal to our childlike natures.) Jaimie and I played through the prequel trilogy six months ago, and now we're working our way through the original trilogy. Whether it's hilarious variations on the original or simply watching Chewbacca pop LEGO stormtrooper arms off, the game is fun. It helps that dying just loses you a few coins and a moment's frustration; you're back quickly enough that you hardly know you died. Good game.



I'm taking today off to spend time with my wife. God has provided above and beyond what we expected in my current job: it's relatively close, it's work that I enjoy, and it far exceeds meeting our basic needs. I pray He keeps me focused on how He provides and reminds me of the excellence of his provision, even when the job is hard. I also pray that He reminds me that, as wonderful as the material provision is, God's provision for me (and all believers) spiritually far exceeds it. He gave himself.



Friendship is a beautiful thing. Every new moment in the friendship is better than before, even as the budding of a rose is increasingly beautiful—and every time you think it cannot get better, it does. The day when the petals first open is amazing—but seeing them fully open a week later is something else entirely. The early thrills of friendship, fun as they are, eventually give way to a much deeper, richer and more satisfying maturity. That's a good thing. Early moments of meeting cannot last forever, but the steady exploration of personalities that follows can and does.



The study of theology is not, as some have thought, something reserved for the white halls of academia. It's gritty, practical and meaningful for the everyday Christian. We rightly reject the intellectualism that thinks that knowledge is the same as godliness, but we should be just as quick to scorn the opposite crime of thinking ignorance equates to holiness. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and the knowledge of God—theology proper—is eternal life. I study my wife every day, and I do mean study. How much more we should study our God!



Food is a strange and wonderful thing. Eating not only satisfies our needs, it delights our senses. (At least, it does when well-done. Badly cooked food is another story entirely.) The same holds true for nearly every aspect of life: even when something might be marked by need at best and pain at worst, it's often accompanied by pleasure instead. The mark of a happy God could not be clearer, as far as I'm concerned. It makes me think: the wedding feast of the Lamb awaits us... how much better will that food be than today's fare?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Suspense, Memorization, Time, Prayer, Economics - 5 100-word thoughts, 11/20/09

On Monday night, I watched the theatrical adaptation of Michael Crichton's Sphere. Interesting movie, and interesting concept. I discovered—again—why I habitually avoid suspense movies. Put plainly, I don't like them. I don't enjoy the constant tension, and I find the incessant wondering when something bad is going to happen to be annoying and emotionally draining. I enjoy many an intense movie, but the tension I enjoy is not one of being horrified. Drama, action, and nearly anything in between suits my fancy just fine. You won't find me watching another Crichton adaptation any time soon, though.


Nearly a year ago, I decided to undertake a pretty huge project: memorizing the book of Hebrews. Recommendation to my readers: if you want to memorize a book, pick one that’s a little shorter. Hebrews was an ambitious place to start. My goal was to finish it in a year. That actually wasn’t unrealistic... except that I became a complete slacker for about six months. I’m back at it, though, and plugging on through chapter 7. I’m more convinced every day of the value of the project, as God continues to use it to encourage me and others alike.


One consequence of working full time is that it leaves me a lot less time to write than I had in college. Another is that I barely have time to practice one instrument, much less two, and there’s no time at all to compose in that mix. Of course, that’s probably because my wife and I love having people over, and so we have company at least once almost every week, and are often out seeing others on other nights. Add worship practice (for me) and prayer (for Jaimie) and community group (together). Eventually, we'll get the hang of it.


Prayer is hard work. At work, I have a timer set that reminds me to pray every fifteen minutes. (It goes along with my hourly reminder to run through some of Hebrews in my head.) I’ve realized this week that I need to be more faithful to build a daily prayer list. Otherwise, I get into something of a litany, and cover much less territory than I would like. Next week I plan to include: Jaimie, family, lost friends, ill friends, unreached people groups, America, our church, our community group, our church leadership, and our friends on mission abroad.


I’ve been enjoying an interesting application, WriteRoom. I downloaded it in a giveaway, but somehow missed the license, so now I’m left with a dilemma: do I opt to pay $25 to keep using it, or switch to a less-elegant-but-free alternative? An interesting economics exercise here: If it were $10, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. As is, I’m left wondering my cash or that little bit of extra polish and ease-of-use is more valuable. Maximizing the "cost-value curve" must be tricky for someone making a product like this. (What’s your vote - should I buy it or go freeware?)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flower bazookas - 500 words, 11/11/09

To men: remember that flowers are a veritable bazooka amongst weapons of love. (There's a turn of phrase you don't hear very often: "weapons of love." I'm going to use it regularly.) You should make a point to bring home flowers as often as you can, in as many unexpected and varied ways as you can. Go to the grocery store as a generous overture, and come back with flowers. Don't do it to get a favor, or to manipulate; bring her flowers because you love her. One last thing: bring whatever kind she likes best.



Actually having work to do is incredibly fulfilling. As much as it sounds nice to get paid to sit around and do nothing, it's actually quite frustrating. Simply put, man was made to work. God designed us for it. Work became unpleasant after the Fall; it was instituted from the beginning. Thus, when we aren't working, we very soon feel useless, and life begins to become rather dull and frustrating. Having experienced that recently, I am really enjoying being able to meaningful work to the glory of God. (Though if someone wants to pay me to simply read and write...)



My content on this blog has been low all year. The reasons have varied even while the results have remained the same. Shockingly enough... that's not going to change, for what I might call obvious reasons (the new blog PJ King and I just launched). In some sense, the reasons haven't changed: part of the reasons I've written so little of late is because I was spending many an hour working on getting the HTML and CSS properly set up and building images. It's nice to finally be able to write there. Long story short: writing beats coding.



I'm inclined to think the old saying, "When as Rome, do as the Romans" has limited value. There are times and areas of life where that's good advice. There are also times when it's awful advice. For example, hypothetically speaking: if I were in a community where education and intelligence were seen as tolerable at best, would it behoove me to act uneducated and intelligent? Or should I find some other course in which I tried not to offend but did not mask my personality? Or should I tray to sway the community? It's quite a balancing act, I think.



Last Sunday night, Wildwood Community Church hosted a worship night. I was blessed to be able to participate with the worship team, as I am on Sunday mornings. There is such joy in coming before God with people of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds, to offer praise and adoration to Him. One of the great joys of this particular service was the children: in normal Sunday services, the children are all in Sunday school. Here, they worshiped among and with us. It was a small, beautiful picture of heaven.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good songs, bad politics, good marriage - 500 words

I’ve been listening to some of Brooke Fraser’s music recently. It’s very good, and I’ve found myself with the nearly overwhelming urge to sing along. That’s great, until it happens when I’m at work, desperately trying to quash the urge before I have everyone in my area yelling at me… especially since I always have head phones in. Fraser is, from what I understand, a New Zealander who moved to Australia. She’s also an excellent lyricist and songwriter. Her personal albums are some of my favorite listening, and her worship songs are among my very favorites. Check out her music.

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One of Fraser’s songs includes the lines, “I am changing, less and less asleep / Made of different stuff than when I began.” The statement, along with the rest of the song (“Shadowfeet”) seems to be a fitting summary of my life right now. God is working to transform me, and of course that’s a process that takes a long time and a lot of work. It’s also incredibly rewarding. The joy of sanctification is incomparable. That’s good, because the pain can seem to be equally incomparable. Gladly, it’s not, and it’s only for a season.

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Marriage, no matter how hard, is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. In my admittedly brief experience thus far, I can wholeheartedly say that after salvation, it is the greatest joy in my life. Our marriage has been anything but perfect thus far: it’s challenging, sometimes painful, and often tiring. Yet it has been such a blessing to me. Nothing in my life has stretched me so much, taught me so many things, or humbled me so deeply. Equally, nothing has encouraged me, delighted me, or filled me so deeply with life. I highly recommend it.

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I find myself increasingly frustrated by Washington politics. I have never been one to think politics the solution to all our problems, though I’ve certainly been tempted. More and more, however, I’m aware that the problems of our world cannot and will not be solved by any political action, no matter how well intentioned. As Douglas Wilson has pointed out, the only hope for our culture’s reformation is in the reformation of the church. Heart change must precede policy change, or the policy change will be ineffective at best. This is as true for healthcare as abortion.

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As I was working today, I ran into a significant snag in the program I’d written. I spent the next hour tracking down the root of the problem. In the end, the problem was in the last place I thought to look: the inputs. Lesson learned: when a functioning program suddenly stops working, check the inputs, as well. It’s certainly possible that a heretofore unrevealed problem has raised its head… but just as likely, the external conditions are different. In life, of course, we see the opposite (which also happens in programming): circumstances simply expose what’s in our hearts.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 100ish-word thoughts, 10/28/09

Composing Training Trials while Reading and Writing

(1) I'm going to make this one a habit if I can, too. It's fun, and it's a good writer's challenge: say meaningful things, briefly. It's especially a good challenge for me, as I'm sure my friends agree! I will write 5 thoughts, none of which will be longer than 100 words (they might be a bit shorter!). Topics will range from theology to humor to current events, and probably back again. Each week will include a wide range of topics. Short, easy, good practice, and hopefully fun reading! Alas, I must move on, as I'm at 99 words already...

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(2) As I, and I'm sure many others, have observed before: it's not the big, short trials that are the hardest. (They can be plenty hard, but they're not the worst.) The most difficult trials to endure are the ones that simply keep going. I noted several years ago that James' famous exhortation to "count it all joy" continues by promising that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. Implication: we're going to be facing the trial for quite some time. We'd better start learning to count it all joy: we'll be doing it a lot!

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(3) Training can be one of the dullest and most tedious affairs I've ever experienced. Especially training for software tools. Elegant and powerful this tool may be, but the book would be powerful only as an implement of pain, and never elegant. My days this week have been long and dreary. Three things help, in ascending order: (1) the instructor has a superb British accent; (2) I know that my wife is waiting for me at home; (3) I get to have a very short work day on Friday. Thus do I endure my pain. Longsuffering, indeed!

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(4) The joy of reading a new book is difficult to overstate. That being said, I'm pretty sure the joy I have in reading a new The Wheel of Time novel is quite impossible to overstate. I love the characters, I love the world, and I love the story. I'm reminded, every time I sit down to read this fantasy epic (and epic it is) of the power of words to stir the imagination, and how powerful and important the imagination is. Reading good novels is as good for us as reading good nonfiction, the Bible aside.

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(5) Composing is a strange pursuit. Not that I've done much of it recently, but I've missed it, and I've thought about it quite a bit. I do not quite understand the mechanism by which people can pull music seemingly out of nowhere, despite having experienced it myself many times. It is, to me at least, one of the deepest proofs of God's existence: we create because He does. (I'd say it's one of the quietest proofs, but that's not quite right, and it'd be a bit paradoxical to claim music as a quiet proof, don't you think?)

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God bless, and good night!