The Renewing of the Mind?

If I am subconsciously telling you these stories about my day because I want you to think that I am a good Christian, then woe to me. If I bring them only to bring up a point, then by the grace of God, let this point be made.

Yesterday, I resolved that my life was going to change for real. I thought that actually talking to people about God might be a start. So I found a plastic crate, printed up a sign reading “Free Christian Books,” and I took my little box of free Christian books to school with me. It was easier to brave the traffic with the knowledge that my day had a worthwhile goal. So at lunch time I sat and waited. The Lord pitied my pathetic efforts. Instead of being mocked and ignored like I probably deserved, something a little different happened. 

First, two very nice and bubbly blonde girls started talking to me. They weren’t interested in the books because they were already Christian. 

Then, a presumably homeless woman entered the scene. This poor soul had a purse and about six grocery bags containing all her possessions. I didn’t know what to say to her. I even dropped a book because I was so nervous. Not because I was afraid she was going to gouge out my eyes or throw cats at me, it’s just that with social anxiety it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone someone difficult to relate to. Eventually, she sat down with me and the two blonde girls. My, what an odd bunch we were.

I awkwardly invited her to lunch. I mean, it was really awkward. But thanks to food allergies and demons (she was afraid of going into the food court because she felt a dark presence there), that did not happen. I feel bad though, the lady deserved some food.

This woman, whom I will refer to as E, is Jewish, but she believes in Jesus. She seemed nice in a sort of quiet way, and was only a little batty. Probably much more normal than me since I was acting like an idiot a lot of the time. Some parts of our conversation were fine, but sometimes I just didn’t know what to talk about. I was so afraid of offending her, and as a result, I’m sure I did. I realized that a lot of what we talk about is sort of material and superficial. We talk about our gadgets, our favorite TV shows, our cars, homes and clothes… so what do you talk about with someone who doesn’t have any of that? Even food seemed like a touchy subject. Still, I found myself talking about my petty health problems and various little annoyances, but I realized just how trivial they seemed as I mentioned them.

I’m sure a more gifted conversationalist would have no trouble at all with a homeless person, but then again, I am not a more gifted conversationalist. I don’t know if E liked my very much. 

What is the moral of this story? The moral is that I clearly have a lot to learn. If I am letting worldly barriers get in the way of God’s will, there is something wrong. There is something wrong when I can only relate to people through the material world. 

And you know what else is wrong? My whole attitude. Like I’m doing E a big favor just by talking to her. And maybe telling people about Jesus is helping them, but it is really God who is doing the helping, and it is not our place to get all uppety. How dare I talk down to these people, my fellow creatures? “Oh, look at me, I’m talking to a homeless person.” That’s not true love. Get a clue, self! And the ironic thing is, E is probably a few sandwiches closer to a picnic than I am. 

I must admit, though, I did feel a little different today. Not necessarily better in every way, but different, not quite like myself. I was thinking more spiritually. At times, I was trying way too hard to be spiritual, but I did feel different, maybe a little less materialistic. I felt so detached from the rest of the world all day (probably because I was acting so weird and everyone could tell), and what’s more, I almost felt as if the rest of the world didn’t matter. Could this be the first stage of the renewing of the mind that I had prayed for? Or am I fooling myself again? 

Please say a prayer for E, friends. 

 

 

 

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Calling all Musicians

I have written a soul-train sort of Gospel song, which makes little sense because

1. That is not even my taste in music

2. It’s not like I sat down and tried to write a song. It just came to me when I was lying awake in bed

3. I’m not a songwriter!!!

So I’m going to need some help, and I thought I would ask my readers first.

The vision I have for the song is a very theatrical, black-church choir sort of thing. Not to be racist, but that is the only thing that comes to mind when I look at the song, it’s that style. But I really can’t be all that picky. It’s not like I even wrote the song, God just sort of gave it to me, and now I’ve just got to find a way to show the world, or at least, a few people. Hard as it is for me to give up the reigns of anything, even things that are not mine, I suppose I’ll give up this song, and it can be whatever God wants. 

Please email me if you think you may be interested or if you know anyone! God bless you all!

mlr96@rocketmail.com

Where’s Joseph? I want a dream interpreted please!

If it’s not already interpreted. I think sometimes we stress out about interpretations too much. If you interpret something a certain way and if the interoperation wasn’t Satan’s (okay, maybe I just scared you unnecessarily), then why couldn’t it have been an interoperation from God? Who’s to say that there can’t be more than one interpretation of something? Isn’t it possible that our God is a very complex being?

Interpretation applies to everything of course, but right now I am thinking of the BIble, and a dream I had the other night. I wouldn’t be talking about it if I didn’t think it was special. It was a very vivid dream, one of the most visually and spatially accurate dreams I’ve had. My house looked like it does in real life, and there were helicopters circling around all the time, which actually does happen to me (I’m not a fugitive, okay, it just happens). But in this dream I actually was sort of a fugitive! You see, the Chinese authorities were after me.  Random, right? Of course, there was kind of a subplot in the dream that was completely unrelated, and there was another setting, but here’s what I think is the important part. The Chinese were hunting me down with helicopters and they had my house surrounded. Which makes no sense because I don’t live in China, but it was a dream okay! Naturally, I wanted to hide, so I frantically searched. But no where seemed suitable. A closet- no, they would most certainly look through there. But I thought of my old toy box that was inside one of our closets, and it is in real life as well. Maybe they wouldn’t open the toy box. So I tried to fit in it. I remember worrying about spiders biting my butt which is funny because I know that there are probably some critters in my real toy box. But I couldn’t fit, my legs kept sticking out, especially since there were some toys taking up space in there. Dare I take the toys out and try again? No, that would be too suspicious. They would see all the toys strewn around and wonder why they weren’t put away. At that point, I wondered what I was trying to hide for. They were going to find me eventually. And it seemed like the right thing to do, the Godly thing even, to surrender and face my punishment for whatever it was I did. In the dream, there was no indication at all of why I was being hunted down by the Chinese. So I decided to surrender, and that’s when the dream ended and I woke up.

God usually doesn’t play a role in my dreams. Sure, my conscience is occasionally present in dreams, telling me to stop drinking so much. But it seemed that God was really in this one. I mean, He told me not to hide when it would have been going against every instinct of mine!

You can say that it’s just a silly dream and it has no real meaning, but I don’t really think so. I wondered, after I awoke, why the Chinese were after me in the first place, and then it occurred to me- maybe I was preaching the Gospel.

Epiphany! Lights flashing! Everything makes sense! No more worrying about career paths! My life’s goal is to preach the Gospel in China. It actually makes a little bit of sense if you think about it. Why not China? I am half Chinese. I don’t know the language, but I am somewhat familiar with the culture. I probably know more about China than some other places.

I read once in a pamphlet by Watchman Nee, who, ironically was a Chinese who was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, that if you have a burden from God, you’ll know it. You won’t have to discover it. But if that’s the case, why am I doubting this plan? Because what if it’s not my calling in life? What if God would rather have me here? Why should I rock the boat so much? And how am I ever going to learn Chinese?!

But at the same time, what could be wrong with it? If the crazy idea entered my mind and there seems to be justification, who’s to say it’s not a sign, just because it wasn’t accompanied by a burning bush? If it’s wrong to want to share the light, I don’t want to be right!

Wow, that was corny. But anyway, I’m not sure. I know I should be sure, but the thing is, I don’t feel sure. Maybe it’s because I’m just kidding myself. Or, more likely, maybe it’s because I just don’t have enough faith. That’s probably it. That’s probably the source of all my problems, a lack of faith.

 

By the way, if you have time, please pray for my mom! She is not a believer yet, and also, she is having pain in her temples and other pains.

 

The Parable of the Ten Pounds

Since I have started to feel a little sick, I have been worrying about the future. How will I take my tests? What will people think if I get salmonella again? I have been fighting, eating healthier foods and herbs, etc. But what is more important than the health of the body is the health of the soul.

What I should have instead been thinking of, all along, is how to share the Good News in whatever small way possible. I have been given the truth by the grace of God. Why not share it?

There is a parable that I think is relevant to this, unless I have been misinterpreting it. You should read it, it’s in Luke 19. Anyway, a nobleman gives ten slaves a pound each. The master commends the one who turned the pound into five pounds and the one who turned a pound into ten pounds. But one slave wraps his pound in cloth. He says, “For I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21). This slave gets his pound taken from him.

You may think that is unjust. After all, the slave kept his money safe, didn’t he? Sure, he didn’t earn any interest, but look, he kept it safe and sound. What’s wrong with his master anyway? That is the same objection that the slave had against the master. As you can see in the part quoted above, the slave thought the master was somewhat unscrupulous, accusing him of reaping what he did not sow. In the same way that we may think, secretly, that God is unjust. Maybe that is what stops us from sharing His word sometimes. We are afraid of offending others. We are reluctant to defend a God who judges people based on the way they live (although he also loves).

Enough of this! Let’s take the apology out of apologetics! Why should we apologize for the fact that God is sovereign? Why must we dance around the truth? What will they think of me? Won’t they think I’m overbearing or weird or a hypocrite?

I know that’s my thought process.

Not right now, though! Not today. In real life, I may hide in my corner of cowardice, but not here! Jesus is Lord! I dedicate my whole being to Him! Who’s going to stop me anyway?

Celebrating Small Victories

Sometimes, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for. It’s hard to acknowledge favorable circumstances as divine blessings rather than the machinations of the world. And yet, that’s what they are. We are owed nothing in this world, and yes, we can’t take anything with us either. 

The Bible says, paraphrased, ask and you will receive (Matthew 7:7). Yet I don’t know if that is completely literal. I think it doesn’t necessarily refer to asking for anything that we want and getting it. If I ask for a Ferrari, will it just fall from the sky? I don’t really think so. I am inclined to think that it means that we will get what God wants us to have and what is really good for us. Even if it takes a lot of time.

Well, anyway, sometimes my prayers are answered. Here is an example. There was this one girl in my discussion class that I kind of wanted to talk to. I prayed/ casually asked God  that I would have the chance to talk to her. I just felt some kind of connection to this person, and like maybe, possibly, I could help her spiritually (if God wills it). I know it sounds weird. And I did talk to her, after a few awkward encounters. I saw her twice by coincidence, and she sat near me twice in the huge lecture hall. Is that really just coincidence? I don’t think so. So maybe it’s hard to explain the situation to you. Maybe it just sounds creepy that I prayed to be able to talk to someone. It is hard to get to talk to people sometimes in such a big university, and well, I’m not much of a conversationalist anyway. Judge me if you want. So finally, after all these chance meetings, I finally did engage in a real conversation with her, as we happened to be walking in the same direction at the same rate after class. I mean, only had to walk a tiny bit faster to catch up. Is that really just stalking? But I know and God knows that He had a hand in it. 

Well, I don’t know what you think about it. The point is that I got to talk to someone at school, which actually doesn’t happen to me everyday, besides just business. And here are some other blessings: I am still kind of healthy even though I felt a bit under the weather yesterday, my book is coming along (sort of), and I had two casual Bible studies with this girl from a student org. So yes, things could be far, far, far worse. That is a pessimist’s way of saying, “Hey, I guess I’m content.” Well, I suppose being content is a step in the right direction. 

 

A Moral Predicament (And you can decide!)

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The life of a Christian is wrought with all kinds of moral predicaments, as it should be, I suppose. Do I talk to this homeless guy? Get a divorce? Confront the annoying person? Take this job? Marry him/her? Forge that signature? Tell the lie or spare the embarrassment? Well, I don’t need to tell you about all the kinds of decisions that a person will face, I’m sure we all have enough examples of our own.

My latest moral predicament has been centered around a short play that I am writing as an assignment for my playwriting class. I went in thinking that, somehow, I was going to glorify God through this play, find a way to “witness” if you will. It wouldn’t be easy, but I was going to do it. Not in the most obvious way, of course, because that probably wouldn’t work for my assignment. So I thought, “maybe I’ll do some kind of allegory.” Take a page from CS Lewis, yeah, won’t that be clever.

Now, instead of that great idea that I was going to mysteriously bring into fruition, now I have just kind of an ordinary play, but with some creative twists, the kind of trash us writers live for. I have four college kids in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. All of them are Christian, but they’re not exactly exemplary people. One is a girl named Lizzie who is a new friend of a bubbly creature named Jeanine. Then there is a couple, Natalie and Jay. Throughout this interaction, Lizzie feels excluded and wonders why she was invited in the first place. But Natalie and Jay, the perfect couple, suddenly engage in a nasty fight, and Lizzie, too, explodes. The themes in this play are mainly hypocrisy, human nature, and social position. Oh, and by the way, the word ‘bastard’ is included in this play. I tried to avoid all other language and borderline language. How do we feel about that?

Even though everyone is a jerk, Jeanine, at least, realizes her imperfection, and the voice of reason, or God, if I may be so bold, has the last word. In a subtle kind of way, of course, because us writers are continually trying to be subtle and at the same time, powerful with our words.

Well, I’m not so sure about this whole thing. Is this the way that God wants me to bring him glory, or should I just shout the message from the rooftops instead, as they would say? Mind you, Jesus spoke in parables to deliberately confuse those who were not willing to understand, but well, he was Jesus. And He always spoke most directly about the kingdom of God. So I don’t know if that applies to me at all.

Well, no one said that life wouldn’t be difficult and filled with conflicts of interest. If anyone has any suggestions for this play and/or my soul, they are welcome. I have already made some changes that I think are favorable for my purposes, but I still wonder if I should just scrap it.

 

Media: notoriousspinks.com

One of the Good Days

Last night, in one of those blissful in-between states between being awake and sleeping, the times that I feel most close to God (and now my atheist friends will use this as evidence that belief in God is irrational because I feel closer to Him in a half-conscious state), but I felt that I made a very important connection, or rather God showed me an important connection, and I thought it was so important that I absolutely had to blog about it. It was a spiritual click, something that seemed quite brilliant. And now, I can’t remember it. Well, I hope I remember it if it was important, but if not I’ll leave it at this and talk a bit about my experiences today instead.

So, if you read my blog, you’d probably get the impression that I’m someone who is naturally kind of down, but doesn’t want to be. You would be right. It is part of my nature, but I try to fight against it, even though very often it seems like a loosing battle. But I know that God can defeat my absurd emotions, and I look forward to the victory.

But today was one of the good days, truly. I feel generally happy and fulfilled, like I have a good life and I am grateful for it.

Today just got off to a good start. I woke up early by my biological clock, even though I forgot to set my alarm. I thank God for that now. I had time to make myself look presentable, which is unusual. By the way, I need to go into a thing someday about whether or not makeup and fancy dress is a sin. But I’ll leave that to another day.

The morning commute was manageable, and I made it out alive, so I considered that a success. So I go to my classes, and I am able to focus a little better because I came more prepared. And they seemed like generally productive classes. But here is where the real game changer came in. And I think God put this in my life on purpose.

In my playwriting class, we were asked to write scenarios for possible one-scene plays and share them in class. A scenario is basically an outline of a play. Anyway, one of my classmates scenarios involved a Christian boy and a diva-ish, preppy popular girl who was very ungrateful. She would complain about not having a car and little things like that. Meanwhile, a friend of hers had real problems, like a father who got a heart attack among other tragic incidences. Anyway, after the scenario was read, we talked about it. People in the class expressed how they knew people like the first girl, and how they hated those kinds of people. And that’s when it hit me, that I can be like that sometimes. Not the popular and preppy part, but the ungrateful part. I realized, as I was sitting there “I don’t want to be like that at all.” It’s so counterproductive, not conducive at all to the things that I want to do in life. And how does that reflect on God if I can’t be grateful?

So, things went well after that. I mentioned the campus EV I was going to in my last post. Well, I showed up at the designated area on campus, and there was no one there. So it seemed, but then I saw a boy sitting on a bench. I sensed that he might have been there for the same purpose as me, so I started talking to him and turns out he was leading the EV. He didn’t actually think it would be good to evangelize with me, but he talked to me to get a feel for what I’m about, which is understandable. And then I met someone else from the group. They seemed very nice, maybe a little judgmental about me not going to church, and maybe they emphasize the formal church experience just a little too much, but I understand them, and I think they’re sincere. No one can be perfect, after all, you just pray that we’ll all get a little closer.

So then after that, I had dinner with an old friend and went to see her dorm, which was fun. We went to this thai restaurant on campus. I got curry noodles and thai iced tea, which really helped me power through my last class of the day! It’s also funny how caffeine helps me so much with my self expression skills. It just makes me feel like my brain and my mouth have a much better connection, as opposed to a lot of the time when they don’t seem to communicate that much. I hope one day the Holy Spirit Himself will give me that kind of energy!

Well, I’m very sorry if this seems a lot like a journal, and that I didn’t get to do any actual evangelizing today. Hopefully surrounding people who walked by picked up some snippets. It’s just that I’m happy! No, things are not completely resolved, and no, my life is not perfect, but hey, it’s close enough for me. I can work with this! Yes, God has blessed me and I can more than work with it, I  feel like I can live, like I can go on, and keep on going and thrive forever. I feel self-confidence, can you believe it! I not only know, but at the moment I feel that God created me for a reason. I’m not a worthless, awkward alien, but I’m a human being, a child of God, and so are you.