Wednesday, January 31, 2007

the hardest walk

moving to san diego has been tough. i think it's mostly because i am questioning God's specific vocational call in my life. there always seem to be more questions than answers. i certainly want to trust in God, but it has been hard. i think this year will be crucial in figuring out what on earth we're supposed to be doing.

my wife and i were talking the other day about how we pictured the future when we in college. being a graduate of the wharton school of business at the university of pennsylvania, i guess i assumed i would have a high-paying job. that was, of course, before i obeyed the call to enter into full-time pastoral ministry.

when it was just me i had to worry about, what did it matter if i was not going to enjoy the financial success of my peers? these days, i find myself more and more worried about my family - especially our daughter. again, i want to trust that God is the best Father she could ever have, but as her daddy i want to provide everything for her. not only financially, but in every way. and it's extraordinarily frustrating when i know i cannot. it crushes me every time i hear say she misses her old friends and how she doesn't like our new church.

and yet, in the midst of all these questions and struggles, life and ministry roll on. we have our youth retreat coming up. just imagining staying up past midnight makes me sleepy. yikes. but i know God will work in the lives of His people. here is the logo i designed for it:

i really love last fm. it's like having a nonstop mixtape playing on my laptop. i type "sufjan stevens" into the search engines, and i get to listen to artists like clap your hands say yeah, the decemberists, and belle and sebastian (in addition to mr. stevens, of course). please don't let it be some weird source of viruses!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

dreams never end

even though i'm a couple of days late, i've been thinking about dr. martin luther king's life and legacy. i downloaded a podcast of his "i have a dream" speech. you can find it here. it's amazing how powerful his words remain today, even for a worn-out cynic like me.

i have been thinking about racial equality and justice in america. on some levels, especially at the legislative/political level, things have gotten much better. out-and-out racism is on the decline (although recent anti-immigration laws might reverse that trend) in that sense.

however, i think racial prejudice usually affects people in a more subtle, personal way. i was born and raised in michigan, and although my town was diverse for the midwest, it was predominantly white. one day, when i was about sixteen, a group of friends and acquaintances went bowling. two of my friends began arguing - something about someone owing money (always a touchy subject among friends and family). at one point, frustrations boiled over and one boy shouted at the other, "don't try to jew me out of that money!"

the other boy stood there, stunned. after a moment, he collected himself and told the other kid how that offended him, because his own ethnic/religious background was jewish.

now, one would hope for an apology and a quick reconciliation. unfortunately, the other, very white, boy became incensed. "how dare you accuse me of racism! that's just a phrase people say. it doesn't mean anything. you're being too sensitive. just shut up and take it..."

i'm not sure if i was afraid that the others would turn against me ("oh, now the korean kid is getting into it"), or just too timid in general, but i stood there watching -- silently.

i know that some people will not listen to reason. that even if one approaches them in a calm, rational, humble manner that they will still lash out with their racism. but, i hope that i've learned something from this. that i won't be restricted to defending "my own" but that i will stand in solidarity with all of God's people -- to speak truth to injustice and to live out the dream of God for unity.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

don't you (forget about me)

a couple of years ago, i led a group of high school students to lewisham, england (just outside of london) for a two-week mission trip. it was, to say the least, an interesting experience - a group of korean-americans bringing the gospel back to post-christian england, partnered with a predominantly african/west-indian/british church.

surprisingly, i enjoyed the food during our stay. we had been warned during our orientation that we might be eating lots of bland, boiled, mashed things. luckily (providentially?), the majority of our host church members were not anglos but of west indian descent- so we enjoyed spicy jerk chicken and other west indian delicacies throughout our stay. one of the most pleasing discoveries i made while in lewisham was that, in the uk, mcdonald's still serves fried apple pies.

this brings us to the present day. lately, maybe because of all the outlawing of trans-fats, i have really been wanting to eat a fried apple pie. unfortunately, most mcdonald's franchises here in the states switched over to the baked format years ago. it might be marginally healthier, but it is significantly less tasty. while the caramel apple empanada from taco bell is pretty good, it still isn't quite the same.

this jonesing took me to the web. i googled "mcdonalds fried apple pie" and was delighted to find the "mcdonald's fried apple pie locater." seriously. after a couple of dead-ends (i started calling different locations around san diego) i finally hit the jackpot with the mcdonald's at horton plaza in downtown sd.

getting there was a whole different story. the trip downtown was relatively simple, but getting into horton plaza was very confusing. luckily (providentially?), i found street parking right across from the mall and entered the stairwell in the parking structure. all the signs indicated i should enter the plaza at level four -- but the stairwell would only take me to odd numbered floors. at my own peril (because of the apparent road rally going on inside), i crossed through the interior of the parking structure to another stairwell -- which was fenced off before level four. confused, i re-entered the parking structure. i stopped a security guard to ask for directions and, happily, caught a ride with him to the entrance in the horton plaza security golf cart.

after briskly walking around the floor level of the mall a couple of times, i stopped by the concierge to ask for directions to the mcdonald's. if you're going to visit, it's way up on the fourth floor. and there's no direct staircase/escalator to get there. after taking every staircase in the plaza, i finally reached the mcdonald's.

sometimes, there is a letdown after anticipating something so much and working so hard to get there. ah, but the fried apple pie is just as good as i remember it. perhaps therein lies its appeal to me -- not only does it provide scalding hot fried deliciosity, but it evokes my childhood.

i don't mean to be smarmy or flippant, but this year i want to seek God in this way -- earnestly, with great desire, still journeying toward the goal even if i get lost, remembering His goodness in the past and savoring His sweetness today. all of this from my fried apple pie quest.