Tuesday, April 28, 2009

a new chapter

God gave my wife and i a beautiful baby boy last friday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

from the opposite side of things

"Peter tells, for example, of driving in his convertible with (Albert) Einstein when it suddenly started to rain. Einstein pulled off his hat and put it under his coat. When Peter looked quizziccal, Einstein explained: 'You see, my hair has withstood water many times before, but I don't know how many times my hat can.'" (excerpt from page 435 of Walter Isaacson's book "Einstein - His Life and Universe")

how many times have we trusted in the hat and not the hair? the moment it rains we dive for our cars, umbrellas, jackets or hats to protect our bodies from the cold wet torrents. yet, we also take showers and baths without a second thought about our bodies getting wet. when we're trapped on a street corner with no hat or umbrella in a thunderstorm, we quickly forget the thousands of baths we've taken where the same water has not harmed us at all. how does this apply to me, you ask? let me explain.

as soon as i read this, einstein's quote sparked a revelation in the way i have been thinking. am i seeing from the wrong side of things? most of the time, when finances flatten my wallet or something out of my control rears its ugly head, my first action is to begin to worry or try to figure out how to instantly solve the problem. it's my equivalent of putting on a hat in a torrential downpour. my hair will still get wet. what if, instead, i was to say when rain falls in my life: (as einstein saw it) "you see, my life has withstood many trials because of God's grace, but i don't know many times my worry can." its time to stash that hat under your coat for good. you can withstand the rain.

just like forgetting you survived that cleansing and refreshing shower you took this morning when you're running slapdashedly to your car smothered in an afternoon rainstorm; it becomes just as easy to forget every trial and every problem you have survived before when you are in the middle of the current storm in your life. you try to put your hat on, you put up an umbrella but somehow that that storm still gets to you. how worthwhile was putting that hat on? rain and sun wear hats out, but you will always have your hair. after all, it was meant to survive all that in the first place. 

"...and the heavy rain falls, the swollen torrents come, and the winds blow and beat against the house; yet it does not fall, for its foundation is on rock." (matthew 7:25 wnt)  imagine having a house built on a rock, then, as a hurricane slides into the coast, running outside and erecting a large tent over said house. 
einstein, in a convertible with the top down and rain approaching, removed his hat because he saw from the opposite side of things. he must have had a few hats in his life, and the one stashed under his coat must have replaced another one at one time. on the other hand he had had his hair all his life. he knew which would survive the rain and wind better. 

maybe it is time to remember that, with God, our lives will always survive what ever falls around us, instead of throwing worry over our heads, trying to protect in our own futile way what does not even need that kind of protection. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

allergic reactions

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength. "
-Corrie Ten Boom

in honour of the first day of spring, my allergies have decided to come out and be a part of the festivities. a wonderful time of year as things warm up and live again... and my eyes begin to itch. lovely allergies.

what is an allergy anyway? Allergy: A misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system, the body system of defense against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens (the agents of infection). The allergic reaction is misguided in that these foreign substances are usually harmless. The substances that trigger allergy are called allergen. Examples include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and certain foods. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic. (from medicinenet.com)

after reading this, i realized that this applies to worry. is the worry we have a misguided reaction to something foreign in our lives that may just end up being harmless? it may just be.

i've used the "do not worry about your lives" verse here once or twice before but it serves being put up again:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!" (matthew 6:25-30 nasb)

in other words- don't have misguided reactions to things that are of little importance. worry is inefficient. as corrie ten boom stated above: "it empties today of its strength". the allergies im dealing with right now are making my eyes itch, making me sneeze out of control and making me feel tired and drained. all this because there is pollen in the air that is intended to help the growth of spring vegetation- not kill me. but my body seems to think pollen is out to kill me so its spending all its valuable resources trying to keep any molecule of pollen at least 50 feet from me through violent blasts of air from nose.

worry does the same thing. it taxes all your resources in an effort to try to prevent something from happening that (1) you have no control over and (2) will not do what worry is telling you it will do to you. worry wont add a single minute to your day. worry really does nothing at all except leave you feeling tired and drained. it empowers events, people and things that currently have no power over your life to suddenly, inexplicably take complete control of your life.

are your worries driving you crazy? they drive me crazy all the time because i deal with worry alot. just like with allergies- the cure is fighting back. worry is one of your greatest enemies- its emptying your today of its strength. just like people take allergy medicine to fight their sneezing, we need to take our worry medicine. what cures a bad case of the worries?
“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing? ...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (matthew 6:31-34 nasb)

the trick is to seek God first. how do we seek God? "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." (jeremiah 29:13 nasb) its going to require all of you to seek God. if you commit your resources and energy to seeking God, you'll have no resources left to use on worrying.

thats how you fight worry. God already knows that we will need what we are worrying we won't have. He knows. don't worry.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

this is for you

(this post inspired by this article)

dear you,

im not sure what you're going through; or what you're dealing with right now but i just wanted to let you know- it's going to get better. you will make it through.
ignore the news on the web and tv; the craziness of the day and the situation of the world for a moment and realize God loves you. you are not insignificant at all. you may feel alone right now, you may feel scared or even hurt or abused but He says this: "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's permission. Every hair on your head has been counted. Don't be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows." (matthew 10:29-31 gwt)

God doesn't even let a sparrow fall without his permission. and if you're worth more than many sparrows and He knows how many hairs are on your head- i think it's safe to say He is involved in every detail of your life and sees what you're going through." so why doesn't He stop this pain or remove these problems i'm going through?", you might ask.
one of my favourite quotes is from c.s. lewis who says: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." What is God shouting to you? this pain and suffering you're going through might have a purpose that you need to discover.

Phillip Yancey says it like this: "Every square millimeter of the body has a different sensitivity to pain, so that a speck of dirt may cause excruciating pain in the vulnerable eye whereas it would go unreported on the tough extremities. When organs such as the heart detect danger but lack receptors, they borrow other pain cells, which is why heart attack victims often report pain in the shoulder or arm. The pain system automatically ramps up hypersensitivity to protect an injured part (explaining why a sore thumb always seems in the way) and turns down the volume in the face of emergencies (soldiers often report no pain from a wound in the course of battle, only afterwards). Pain serves us subliminally as well: sensors make us blink several times a minute to lubricate our eyes and shift our legs... to prevent pressure sores. Pain is the most effective language the body can use to draw attention to something important. "

why would i put this in a letter to you when you're needing encouragment? good question. because pain is the language God uses to draw attention to something important in your life. i don't know exactly whats going on in your life but i know God is shouting. God is shouting to me right now too. if your arm or your head were in extreme pain, wouldn't you go to a hospital or buy some medicine to relieve the pain?

go to God who "who comforts us in all our affliction" (2 corinthians 1:4 nasb) and who understands what you're going through.

you are going to make it. i know it. maybe, just maybe- what you're going through right now is bringing attention to something in your life, that if addressed and worked on will make you better. i say this because even this morning, God is shouting to me. there are things that even i know i need to address and i too have pain to remind me of that.

God's megaphone is rousing you. go to Him and tell Him where it hurts, whats going on and why you're at the point of giving up. He will help you. He can heal what others have hurt and fix what others have broken.

in love, josh

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

mano a mano (or fisticuffs and the reactions thereof)

"for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" -Newton's Third Law

in 1943, the illustrious director Frank Capra released a movie series entitled "Why We Fight". in this series- he graphically defined why America was at war with the axis powers and why World War 2 was becoming a great and terrible war. we watch as a man named Adolph Hitler rises from almost pauper like status to becoming the face and force behind the transformation of Germany into a Nazi powerhouse; blitzkreiging his way through virtually every European nation and trying to kill off every ethnic group within his grasp. and we watch as Newton's Third Law comes into play when, with Nazi Germany at their doorstep, the tiny nation of Britain holds back the onslaught of Hitler's might; and with the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor drawing America into the fray, how the Allied Nations bring the fight to the Axis Countries and slowly begin to turn the tides of war.
Hitler's actions had caused equal (and overwhelming) reactions.
what reactions are our actions causing? i am in no way comparing any of you to Hitler by an stretch of the imagination but i am using this example as a way to drive a point across.
your actions will cause reactions. good or bad, something will go down when you do something. call it karma, call it the butterfly effect cus frankly i dont care what label we try to put on our actions-invairiably they are our actions. us conscienciously deciding to do something for the good or bad of ourselves and those around us. our actions, the very deeds that move the wheels of the world.
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:27-31 niv)
why would Jesus say this? because He knew that our actions would cause reactions.
remember this next time you want to get into verbal fisticuffs with your wife over who didnt leave the toilet seat down or want to go mano a mano with the guy who cut you off in traffic.
Jesus isnt saying be a pacifist and let everyone run you over and make you altercation pavement. He is however reminding us that there are consequences for our actions.
what we act out on for good and what we act out on for bad will all generate some form of repercussion.
the question now is: can you handle the repercussion?

Monday, February 16, 2009

caffeine. the other drug.

deer in head lights

"The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lay down on some seaweed and roll around until he's completely draped in it. Then he'll stand up and go 'Hey, I'm Vine Man'." -Jack Handey

it's time to wisen up.
someone who sees an entire universe in a grain of sand is aware of more than himself, he's aware of all that is around him and seeks to understand it. the doofus rolling around in the seaweed is only aware of himself and understands only that it is making people laugh.
when i took a missions trip to romania in 2002, i thought i understood that there were poor, suffering people in the world and that yes, they needed help. i had seen the rundown neighbourhoods in my own city and pictures from around the world of kids sitting on trash heaps and the like. but the moment i walked into a state run orphanage in oradea, romania where a chicken pox epidemic had just broken out, where trash was being burned in piles by men in dirty white jumpers with cafeteria hats on and where, suddenly, a small 3 year old girl who weighed about as much as a newborn child jumped into my arms and held on for dear life- simply happy to find someone who wanted to hug her; that moment was the moment i understood. that was the moment i went from playing in seaweed to picking up a grain of sand.
one of my favourite quotes is from socrates, who says: "the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." you can read into this however you would like; yet what i get from it is that wisdom is being aware of the fact that you are rolling around in seaweed and that is not the place you should be in.
its like a deer in headlights. i'm from new england and up there, deer get stupid when they get near roads. in the forest they're pulling bambi re-enactments like nobody's business. eating beds of clover, nuzzling skunks and running from forest fires and guys with .22s. the moment you get a deer near a road or highway, it's over. and at night it goes from bad to worse. i imagine the conversation of two deers (wait, i forget, is deer also plural in itself like moose?) contemplating crossing a busy highway at 10pm going something like this:

bob the deer: "hey jim, let's cross this really loud thingy here and dance through those fast moving thingamabobs like we do through the lillies!"
jim the deer: "i don't know, i think i should be scared about trying that."
bob the deer: "nah we're sweet with this- those fast moving white lights are fireflies or something. it's totally safe. on the count of three, we go! one... two..."

you get the idea i think. the moment deer step onto a road they are in unfamiliar territory. deer do not understand what a car is, what it does, why it exists, what it can do to them or why its speeding straight for them. they only know that there are two very bright points of light coming towards them very fast. so what they do, armed with only this information? stare. deer will stand in the middle of the road, broadside to the coming car, aim their eyes at it and stare. and wait for those two points of light to nuzzle their noses. you can guess the results of deer in headlight wisdom.

what do you think you know? maybe it's time to have some of the things you think you know get challenged by what they really are. bob the deer thought he knew what a car was until he met a car. i thought i knew suffering people until i met suffering people. the moment you understand the grain of sand and stop rolling around in the seaweed is the moment you see through the eyes of wisdom rather than through the eyes of a deer in headlights.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

a list

here is a list i put up on my facebook of 25 things you might not want to know about me (or might want to know). either way- here they are.

1. i can't fight the feeling that someday i could either go deaf or blind; as a result i have taught myself how to tell my clothes apart by touch only and i have memorized how each note sounds on a piano and can play said piano in complete darkness.

2. i met my wife on myspace. i would never take it back =) but dont try this at home.

3. i think i am the most boring person in the world so im surprised when people laugh with me.

4. i will help you out and put 180 percent of me into it, but if you dont return even just 10 percent i will still help you if you need it again.

5. i was born south of boston and lived there for almost 20 years of my life. if i had a really good reason to return to new england i would. there is nothing like spring and fall up north.

6. i have so many interests going at once that i dont even notice my ADD.

7. if i was invited to a u2 concert and a yo-yo ma concert being held on the same date- i would take the yo-yo ma concert.i love u2 but cello is my all time favourite instrument-i get goosebumps just listening to it.

8. i sometimes wish i had grown up in England. im alittle bit of an anglophile. i spell color "colour" and favorite "favourite". i love fish and chips and the beatles. winston churchill is my homeboy. cs lewis is my hero. etc.

9. 8 years ago i told God i would never move to Florida. ever. 2009 marks my 6th year in florida. learn your lesson kids!

10. i love japanese and samurai arts and culture. calligraphy art is amazingly simple and beautiful.

11. i can identify just about any aircraft manufactured from 1930 and on. it stems from my obsession with aviation since age 10.

12. i always find my wife the most beautiful when she is feeling the most unkempt.

13. i hate crowds. its why i have never been inside disney and why i dont like midways. and its one reason why i got into being a live sound tech: i didnt have to be in the crowd.

14. i eat conspiracy theories for breakfast. ask me about anything and i'll have a conspiracy theory for it. but i dont buy into any of that area 51 crap at all. its military airplanes. get over it people.

15. i almost joined the air force and the coast guard but i chickened out.

16. my and my wife have talked, texted or emailed each other every single day since we first met, with the exception of only one day and i love her like crazy.

17. i know how to solve the financial crisis but i know i will never be taken seriously. i know alot of things i just never say them cus i never feel like people care to take me seriously.

18. the things people tell i am really good at and ask me to do alot of are the things that get really boring to me really fast.

19. give me a yamaha grand piano to play on a windy bluff in cape cod overlooking the cold atlantic ocean on a cool, gray day with seagulls calling all around and i would be content.

20. i know i'm wierd and i embrace it with all i am. i have a nerd alert sign above my desk at work.

21. i went to romania for 10 days and it took a part of my heart when i left. i will always consider it my second home and im planning on going back somehow, someday.

22. im a scared procrastinator. i owe alot to alot of people for kicking me out of my corner and helping me get to where i am today. you know who you are! thank you.

23. if i could direct my dream movie jerry bruckheimer, quentin tarantino, tom hanks and steven speilberg would produce, hans zimmer and howard shore would compose the soundtrack; denzel washington, bruce willis, brad pitt, scarlet johannsen, natalie portman, laurence fishburne, steve carell and lauren graham would star. the title of this movie? "trepidation".

24. i sometimes feel like i dont deserve my wife or all the things in my possession. was i a monk in a former life? no. all i know is i owe everything in my life to God's limitless grace.

25. i almost died in the hospital at age 2 due to my asthma which i no longer have. great way to finish this thing up, isnt it? =)

26. i estimate all numbers i need to calculate. that said there may only be 25 on this list so #26 is just in case.