January 31, 2007

A Wii bit funny

Check this out..

I assure you, my "Wiirkouts" are *not* like this!

January 27, 2007

Killer app

FuGwah was telling me about a week ago about "killer apps". A "killer app" is the one game that causes everyone to buy a particular console system. Despite the Nintendo Wii absolutely *crushing* the PS3 in the war of new consoles, it has been Xbox 360 with Gears of War that has been flying off the shelves. Furthermore, because of the difficulty of finding an available Wii to buy, some people walk into a store, find there were no Wii's, pass on the available PS3's, and pick up an Xbox 360 instead.

There's absolutely no compelling reason to buy a PS3 right now for most people, except fanboys. As an anti-Sony person, I could not tell you what game I think might be the PS3 killer app. However at the same as a Nintendo Fanboy, I cannot tell you what I think might be the killer app for the Wii.

I think for Nintendo, because it has several exclusive franchises such as anything related to Mario or Zelda, resulting games from these franchises might contain a killer app. But then again when I look at today's gaming world and what people are looking for in general, it is about expandability, games that can evolve and have rolling content. For instance for a game like GoW, you could have new maps to play, online play will always be different depending on who you're playing. However with Nintendo, games like Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers, Wario games, Mario Party, etc etc, have no expandability. They're like arcade games.. you can play until you're sick of it, but the games themselves will never change.

Will the Wii ever have a killer app? Perhaps a new Mario game, or a Zelda game -- but you would only find fans of these franchises buying this games, and most of these people already have Wii's. Will Wii buck the trend of a console needing a killer app to survive? So far it has, but will that last, I am thinking probably not.

Of course the concept of a "killer app" is somewhat foreign to me. I've never been that kind of a person to buy a console just for a particular game, unless you count upgrading my computer for certain computer games. I didn't buy my GameCube for any particular game. I almost bought a PS2 just for Guitar Hero 2, and I doubt that game was considered as a Killer App. We had a Nintendo, and an N64 -- none of those consoles were bought for the purpose of playing any particular game. Perhaps there IS some hope of a successful console with no killer app..

Anyway, the only reason I thought of this entire subject was because I heard about a computer game that was in development. This game, is something that I have dreamed about for 9 years. As franchise, this game approaches the Warcraft franchise in terms of my favorite franchises.


I read recently that Bethesda Softworks were now several years into the development of Fallout 3, and they were hiring more developers (graphics?) to get this thing into full gear. I must say when I heard this, my heart nearly skipped a beat. A game that I had been waiting for since the *second* I finished Fallout 2, has a strong possibility of being released in the near future.

I also read rumors of Fallout 3 coming out on Xbox 360. If there was ever a "killer app" for the 360, for me, this would be it. I would gladly pay $600 for the console just to play the next entry of this beloved franchise. Of course if it still comes out on PC, forget all that..

January 25, 2007

Matthew 7

I think one of the great things about Matthew 7, is that it provokes thought and discussion. It reminds me a lot of how pride and humility go hand in hand. ie: You can be humble and show humility, but if you tell anyone about it, you've become proud. I think at the end of day, you start to realize that God has a pretty good sense of humor.

Matthew 7:1-2 is another prime example of this. I received a comment to my "Spirit-filled worship" post that quoted verse 2. How do you quote such a verse to someone without you yourself contradicting that verse?

If we examine Matthew 7, what is Jesus trying to teach us?

In verses 1-5, Christ is teaching us that we should not form or express conclusions about others without seeing or dealing with our own issues.

But then He gives us verse 6, which is telling us to judge the dogs, the pigs. In other words, don't judge.. but judge. Personally, I think verse 6 is teaching discernment, which is still drawing conclusions but based on biblical principle.

In 1 Corinthians 2:15, Paul calls Christians to make "judgments about all things". If we as Christians really want to follow our Lord's teaching to love our neighbors, we can't escape our responsibility to warn and challenge those around us in the face of opposition. I believe Matthew 7:1-2 is simply a guideline to follow when judging/discerning others. It can't mean that we must give all spiritual discernment in order to be "loving Christians".

In Matthew 7:15, 16 and 20, Jesus *demands* spiritual discernment.

Is it our duty as Christians to keep discerning conclusions to ourselves, in order to avoid "judging"? Matthew 7:1 isn't saying that it is sinful to confront, challenge or warn others. Again, I see it more as a guideline.

Christ has commanded us to judge those in the church according to the standards of His Word. (1 John 4:1, Matthew 24:23-25, 2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Now to revisit my previous post about Spirit-filled worship.

Firstly, the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. A fruit of the Spirit is JOY. If we are full of Spirit, would we not exhibit traits of the Holy Spirt? Would we not exhibit joy?

Secondly, singing as a form of worship. I never said people must sing in worship. My biggest lament of my church congregation is the fact that people look like they are tired, bored, and wishing they were somewhere else. However upon doing some research, singing does in fact have an important place in the worshipping of God. In fact, according to the Bible, singing is a big part of worship. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul instructs the saints at Ephesus to "sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord". Colossians 3:16 says "singing with grace". James 5:13 says "Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms". Matthew 26:30 "sung a hymn". 1 Corinthians 14:15, "I will sing with the Spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.. Revelation 5:9 - "and they sang a new song", Revelation 15:3 "They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb." Acts 16:25 "were praying and singing hymns to God".

Paul tells the Colossians to sing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. I don't know anyone, regardless of how conservative and introverted they are, show thankfulness by looking bored, tired and unresponsive.

Finally, I've been thinking about people would read my previous post and felt offended by it. Is it that hard to believe that not all of us are high in Spirit? My conclusion is that it's possible that someone might misinterpret that being "spirit-empty" is a sin. I've been spirit-empty before, I don't think I was being sinful. Just not spirit-filled. People talk of spiritual-burnout, when someone pours so much out, there is nothing left and they need a recharge. There's nothing wrong with that.

My contention is that if people are feeling spirit-empty, they should feel the need to rectify it, just as I would. Spend more quiet time talking to God. Read the Word and replenish your soul. Pray. Fellowship with your fellow believers.

That's all I've got for now.

January 24, 2007

USB drives

I found this really amusing. These are all USB drives, ranging from 128mb to 512mb. Tiny? Yes. Expensive($99 each)? Yes. Cute? VERY.

Here's a few more. They're called iDucks. They light up when you plug them in.

These are only 128mb each.. but adorable! Only $59 apiece.. what a deal!

Who *wouldn't* want a piece of wood sticking out of their usb port?


Wiirk-out #2
Weight: 150 lbs
Workout time: 10:27pm - 11:04pm

January 22, 2007

Spirit-filled worship

The sermon yesterday was about being Spirit-filled, about being filled with the Spirit in worship. It was a great sermon. It was a special guest speaker, Brian C. Stiller, president of Tyndale University College & Seminary. I wish we had more guest speakers.

Anyway, I think one of the things that hit me, having been part of a worship team and see a real glimpse of our congregation from God's standpoint, is that the majority of the english congregation at T3C is spirit-empty.

Stiller spoke about how, as you are filled more with the Spirit, through whatever means -- prayer, devotion, scripture reading, etc -- you start to "leak" the Spirit. You're so full of spirit that your life and your actions are affected -- it's like you're wearing Him on your sleeve. Everything about you personifies the Holy Spirit.

To illustrate the idea of making use of the Holy Spirit to reach God, Stiller used the example of buying a home, and how when you put in a down-payment or deposit, you are tied to the home. But if you walk away from the home, you will lose the down-payment. I also heard another analogy with chocolate milk. If you have a glass of milk, and you pour chocolate syrup in and do nothing, all you have is a glass of milk. Until you take a spoon and mix it all up, the syrup is just going to sit at the bottom. You can't have chocolate milk unless you mix it all up -- until you allow the Spirit to consume your life, you will never have the sweetness of truly knowing God.

Another example I'd like to throw in, is worship at Urbana. Since day one, the music was amazing. There is no difference between the music we heard on Day 1 and on Day 5. On Day 1, it was just a bunch of people standing and singing. But on Day 5, after 5 days of being filled with the Spirit through prayer, through scriptures, speakers, seminars, interactions with eachother -- people were jumping up and down, screaming JESUS at the top of their lungs, doing conga-lines up and down the aisles, raising their arms to the sky, crying (literally) out to God, kneeling on the floor, etc. We went from regular Mr. John Christian to people who were so filled with Spirit that He was literally BURSTING out from us.

When I look out at the congregation at our church, I see a bunch of people from Day 1 Urbana. They are looking at the words and thinking "Ugh.. why do they make us stand? What is this.. do I have to sing? This song again? Oh man.. now they're making us clap. I am so not clapping."

Only for the majority of them, it's not Day 1. It's day 1000, or 6000 of their spiritual journey with God. You have to wonder, how spiritually empty, how dried up they must be, to have that kind of a reaction to worshipping God? How scary is it, that nearly an entire congregation, 'normal behavior' is to stand/sit there and do nothing?

When I sang for Ina or Ina -- ooops -- I mean, when I sang for Yee Lee or Karen, I would often sense their frustration because no one was singing, you would look out and see a bunch of blank faces and you didn't know, was it because we sang poorly? Did we pick the wrong songs? Can they even hear us?

Maybe we're being too hard on ourselves. What good is it to provide Spirit-led worship, when people are not Spirit-filled? We're stirring the milk, but chocolate syrup has solidified and won't mix in anymore. People are stuck on Day 1.

January 20, 2007

Urbana: Update

I thought it might be a good time to update some things from Urbana. It has been difficult.. the adjustment from Urbana to real life. The transition has been seamless, in that Urbana feels like years ago. Obviously this isn't a good thing. I've forgotten a lot of promises I made to God.

In my commitment card, I made it a point that I would share the gospel with a co-worker. That hasn't happened. However, something really neat happened, where an ex-co-worker called me out of the blue and asked if I could set him up with someone that could answer some of his OT-NT questions. I was really excited about this, and I've dialogued with him quite a bit since then and he'll be meeting up with my pastor likely next week to get some questions answered.

Also in my commitment card, I committed to serving in a short term mission this year. Of course that will be Longlac. I need to book my years' vacations next week so it will be officially etched in stone by then.

I've been working on trying to finish my Perspectives project. It's been interesting to say the least. I've had to explore my own imagination on how the people of Longlac can be reached, in a long-term basis. Pretty much the ideas that I had hoped to get out of the Longlac committee that never came together, I am now needing to put on paper. It's also made me realize how little I know of these people. I really need to make it a point to understand them this summer, understand what makes them tick, how they would be brought to worship God, how they would enjoy worshipping, their general thought processes, what they strive for and what they hope to get out of life. All these are important things to learn about them, as part of research on learning the most effective way to evangelize to them.

So that's my update for now. I will try to update from time to time, to keep myself accountable.

January 17, 2007


My brother told me he was coming home for the weekend yesterday, so I went to Loblaws to buy some juice and dumplings.. cuz that's what we eat. Anyway, I suddenly had a big urge to cook, after looking at all the processed foods in the aisles.

I haven't cooked since I made ribs last year. I've been eating a ton of TV dinners, not so much because I'm lazy, but just because I haven't had the urge to do so. Once I discovered the Parker Lee microwavable dinners, I really got into them.. I tried them all and discovered the curry beef brisket ones are AWESOME. As well, there is a Vietnamese Noddle with Beef Brisket that is just stupendous. $3 for a bowl of it, and it's enough for a meal.. now that is cheap.

Anyway, I just haven't had the urge, or inspiration to cook since the ribs, but today while picking up some red peppers for a tuna sandwich (that's another thing.. I decided to make tuna sandwiches for lunch, maybe try and get in the habit of making sandwiches at least once a week to save money), I had a sudden craving for stuffed peppers. My dad used to make stuffed peppers once in awhile and I remember them being oh-so-good.

I'm sure he used ground beef.. I was thinking of trying it with ground lamb instead, that could produce an interesting aroma.

So here's what I've been thinking about, for ingredients and recipe:

1. Cut out the stem of the pepper, cleaning out the seeds and 'compartments'.
2. Dice onions, garlic, and some other ingredient which I haven't figured out.
3. Cook the ground lamb til brown. Put in a bowl.
4. Sautee the onions, garlic and the mystery ingredient.. add beef before caramelization.

Now comes the tricky part. How do you make the meat stick together without eggs. I was thinking of using milk and possibly bread crumbs, to give it some kind.. umm.. sticky texture. Perhaps rice. I dunno.. I'm gonna have to think about that one.

Anyway, once that's all done, just stuff the peppers and throw it all in the oven...til the pepper is cooked.


2a. Chop up some mozarella cheese (btw, I really hate buying cheese. Even the smallest block, which ends up being a rip-off because of the cost:volume ratio.. and I never finish it all and then it goes bad... it's so annoying.), and put sprinkle the cheese on top of the pepper, and let it sit in the oven til it melts. Then serve..

I think that could totally work.. although I'm picturing a very bland tasting stuffed pepper. I guess it all depends on that mystery ingredient. Maybe jalapeno might do it, give it some extra taste.. and I'm sure I'd use some salt and pepper as well.

Yes.. this all sounds good to me.

January 16, 2007


I made a new year's resolution to start working out, the goal being for me to reach "healthy status" by the time I reach 30. Lon challenged me to work-out a few months ago, saying that he does it so that he can glorify God for as long as is humanly possible.. or something like that. I think that's a pretty good reason to work-out. The other reason would have been to get myself into shape to attract women, but since I already have a girlfriend, I'm just gonna go with the glorifying God reason.

Let's not kid ourselves here.. eBrian and "workout" simply are not two words you will often hear in the same sentence, least not in terms of a "commitment" that will last longer than 2-3 weeks. Although I have a reason to workout, I'm not exactly *UN*healthy, so what's to keep me from going along with my current routine? I need more incentive.

I read this website about this guy who spends 30 minutes per day playing Wii Sports for 6 weeks, and he lost an impressive 9 pounds. If you look at the site, you can see before and after pictures of his gut, which have noticeably shrunk. I am seriously gonna do this.

I have taken pictures of myself, but I will wait until the "after" pictures. I am committing myself to 30 days of training. That is, 30 times that I will blog about wiirking out. I will post the results on the 30th, or on April 1, 2007 (whichever comes first). I am not going to check my calories, or all that stuff. I am simply going to weigh myself each time, and report how long I wiiked out.

Wiirk-out #1
Weight: 152 lbs
Workout time: 8:00pm - 8:37pm

January 15, 2007


Ina was telling me that I have a habit of mentioning names of girls in my blog, whom I have a crush on. That, as if by some cosmic force, Ina believes that I start mentioning the object of my affections in my blog entries. What's worse, is that Ina told me that others know this about me, and apparently (according to Ina) many girls have commented on this before. I wonder if there are people out there, who, upon seeing their name appear on my blog, run for the hills. I hope not..

And how does it work exactly, I can imagine a large tally board listing each name I have mentioned, and a frequency table marking each time I've mentioned them on my blog. And then there's a play-by-play commentator, calling out names as they appear. "For those of you just tuning in.. it's a tie between A, B and C. A hush has come over the crowd as we await, who will break this hotly contested 3-way tie. Oh, what's this? A new girl? Mentioned 9 times? Oh my goodness.. a new entry, D, has blown her way past all 3 front runners and is all alone in front! This is crazy folks, oh the insanity! In my 40 years of name-counting, I have never seen *anything* like this! WHOAAAA.. 15 more times?!?! Looks like we've got ourselves a winner!"

This observation from Ina makes me nervous as well as a bit paranoid. Firstly, if what Ina says is true, then imagine what people must think of me. I must've mentioned at least a hundred different names over the past five years. And secondly, maybe there's something terribly wrong with my psyche. Could Ina have discovered something terribly wrong with me, perhaps a psychological disorder? Scary..

Now let's say for a minute (not that I'm admitting that Ina is right), that perhaps what Ina has suggested does have some truth to it. Maybe my subconscious mind subliminally whispers a name to me over and over, and as a result, I just type them out instead of saying "her" or "she", I say "Ina" or "Ina". I really don't know. It's weird.. I never really thought about this before.

Perhaps I need to be more conscious about the names that I mention on my blog.. I wouldn't want people like Ina to get the wrong idea.

I hope that clears things up..

January 12, 2007


Coming out of Urbana, I have a clear picture of what God wants me to do. I've been pretty excited. Mind you, probably not as excited today as I was 2 weeks ago, but excited nonetheless. I had "coincidentally" joined a Long-term Solution committee, a joint effort between 3 other churches to try to further His kingdom through means beyond VBS and door-to-door canvasing in Longlac and Ginoogaming. I had been to Urbana and felt God's call for me serve Native people. I had personally seen how these people needed God more than ever because they were being forgotten.

Yesterday I received an email from Sylvia, one of the girls from TKPC who we had met with last year to discuss their vision for Longlac. There's a meeting at MCPC in two weeks where all 4 church leads (usually the pastors) will meet up to discuss this years' plans for STM to Longlac. It's exciting because we generally try to work together so that we aren't all teaching the same lessons or have the exact same theme. Our thinking is to offer the kids a comprehensive package of VBS, rather than drilling the same thoughts (not that this would be bad either) and ideas into their heads. Anyway I've been invited to this meeting, never been a part of it before.

Of course the reality is that what we teach people is more likely to be forgotten than retained. Ultimately missions is all about building relationships, gaining trust, and sharing personal experiences.

Anyway, in this email Syl apologizes about not following up with committee, and the reason for that --- I was the *only* person who showed any interest!

What the frack!!! Does no one care?!?!

January 10, 2007

Modes Ponens

Back in school, we had this logic course, it was called Mathematical Logic, and it was a beast of a course. So many proofs.. if A, then B, etc. I remember the textbook was a baby blue color, about the size of a tiny notebook, and costed $120. We learned about words like "tautology", and "modes ponens". I really had no idea what any of this meant but when writing out a proof, at some point you would write 'modes ponens', and then you could skip several steps of the proof and then, QED.

I never knew what QED meant either. Just looked it up.. says "quod erat demonstrandum", or "which was to be demonstrated". In highschool, Mr. Ha told us it meant "Quite Easily Done". I like this latter definition better.

Here are a few if A, then B scenarios I have come up with.

Prove: If Brian is wearing light colored pants, then pen ink and/or permanent marker will gravitate towards my pants.
Alternate B: Brian is more likely to have a nosebleed.

Tautology: If Brian is wearing light colored pants, then he is more prone to mishaps involving things that cause stains.

It's like some voice is saying in the morning: "Brian, don't wear your brown pants today because you are going to spill soy sauce all over your leg, and you want to make sure everyone can see it even after it dries up. Oh, and you can forget about combing your hair because you're gonna have the worst case of hat-head ever from wearing your toque this morning."

Anyway.. enough of that. QED.


Yesterday the entire 27th floor had to evacuate at Metro Hall. The fire alarm had been activated on the 29th, so we all headed down the stairs. I figured out a way to descend the stairs without making my legs extremely sore the next day.. using my arms on the rails, I descended the stairs as if my life depended on getting down as soon as possible. It worked.. shuffling my feet and letting gravity take over, I flew down the stairs.

And so, my arms hurt today, which is far more bearable than sore legs.

My new year resolution was to start working out, and my excuse for not starting was because I was jet lagged. The jet lag is gone. My arms are sore from a fire evacuation.. so that's enough exercise for this week.. QED.


I have noticed over the past few months that my physical wounds stick around. I have had many cuts and bruises in my days of yore, from paper cuts to large gashes from falling off really big rocks that I tried to climb.

Aside from my cd-rom mishap in highschool, I've never had any scars that remained. For some reason my regenerative skin cells are no longer working full time. If I get a cut, it takes weeks to heal and what's worse is that it doesn't even re-form the way it was before.

So.. I guess the metabolism was the first to go as I got older.. and next, the regenerative ability of my cell tissues. What's next?

January 09, 2007

Post #1001

Firstly, I have updated the comments to haloscan so that anyone can comment. I think people have been having trouble commenting because of the new Google-login feature of comments.

Anyway, I've decided to make a non-Urbana post regarding all I did during my vacation that was un-related to Urbana. It will be in list form and not organized at all. Good luck.

-The flight was seriously boring because my brother slept the entire time so I had no one to talk to
-I watched the movie "Invincible". Pretty good feel-good, zero-to-hero story. 7/10
-The lady sitting beside us evidently never flew before, she was complaining incessantly at the flight, food (no meals), drinks, pilot, Americans.
-Went to In-N-Out burger. Very good. VERY GOOD.
-I bought a laptop at Circuit City, it's a Toshiba Satellite, M115. It's mostly Vista compatible, but then again, it's not like I'll be using Vista any time soon.
-Went to Carl's Jr. These burgers are amazing. AMAZING.
-Vegas is seriously boring unless you gamble, smoke, or have never been there before.
-Watched "Pirates of the Caribbean 2". Quite possibly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. 0/10.
-Watched "The Break-Up" again. What a depressing movie, although it does have its moments. 6/10.
-Went to a Japanese restaurant called Osaka, which is supposed to be ranked #2 amongst Japanese restaurants in Vegas. I'll admit, the food was good. But expensive beyond belief. I got a chirashi that costed enough for 4 people to eat at Sushi Bong.
-Are you still reading?
-I saw and played a PS3 at an EB Games. They had 3 available at the store, but everyone was asking about Wii controllers. Anyway, out of the 3 new consoles (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360), the PS3 has to be the biggest waste of money out there.
-The Colts defense is looking good, but the offense doesn't. How will they fair against the Ravens? The future isn't looking so bright.
-Big (lucky) win by Seattle. I can't help cheering for these guys after they got robbed of the Superbowl by the NFL officials last year.
-Urbana was awesome
-Went to Red Robin, yet another burger place. Burgers were huge. I was still burping up burger meat the next morning.
-Watched "Apocalypto". I've decided that Mel Gibson is a mad man. Pointless movie, but good action and very exciting. So much blood. The blood "cloud" was a neat effect.. 7/10.
-We went to Primm, NV, for their massive outlet mall. I walked through the door, took a right into BR and bought pretty much ALL the clothes for the day. Sales after sales after sales. It was great.
-When I arrived in St. Louis, I quickly texted Ina to see if she was still there, she was. Thank goodness, because I'm pretty sure I would have gotten lost without her.
-We (as in the non-student T3Cers) texted a whole lot throughout Urbana in order to track eachother down. I can't wait to see my cell phone bill. Telus is 15 cents per message.
-The hotel rooms were nice, at the Adam's Mark. Allan refused to share beds so we each had to take a turn on the floor.
-In fact, one night he decided to try sharing so I had to only use half the bed. When I woke up I found him on the floor again.. he couldn't stand the tiny space. Unfortunately I didn't know so I was scrunched up the entire night thinking he was still there.
-Allan called Mils every single night. I thought that was sweet and romantic (or just responsible?) of him.
-I have 4 weddings that I know of, to go to this year. This is surprising because I thought my group was finished. I guess this is the second wave.
-I can't believe you're still reading..
-We have a dog, named Dusty. He's a pug. He's soooo cute. I am proclaiming that Dusty is the cutest dog in the whole world. He knows he's cute. When you call him for a hug, he'll take his fine time coming out.. he'll yawn a few times, stretch his legs a bit and saunter over. It's the cutest thing (although also annoying sometimes because you just know he's taking his time on purpose).
-My mom refuses to set the temperature at home above 70 degrees. That's 21 C. Maybe I'm spoiled but that is really cold to me. Plus I think 21 degrees there is different from here because I have a relatively smaller area for the hot air to cover, and it retains the heat. For some reason, it always feels cold in the house at Las Vegas. Except of course in the summer when it was 37 degrees.
-A lot of people are getting sick. It's some kind of cold virus, that just won't go away. I hope I don't get it.
-Dexter's season finale was quite possibly the most surprising twist I've ever seen. There is no way I could have seen that one coming.
-Speaking of television, my brother and I caught up on Smallville and it is confirmed that this show is going down the drain. One really exciting (but since quashed) rumor was that there would be a spin-off of Smallville for a live-action Justice League. The prospects of this would be unbelievable, but think of the budget too. They recently attempted an Aquaman spin-off that crashed and burned before the pilot even aired.
-During my stay in Las Vegas, I watched and caught up for the show Battlestar Galactica. This is a great great show. I watched all of seasons 1 and 2, and then what's left of 3 so far. This show is so awesome..
-I watch way too much television.
-My mom told me that Rachel Ray won #2 for most influential female. #1 was that first female speaker in US government whatchmacallit. That one is impressive. But Rachel Ray? Really?!?
-I wonder if there are any naysayers of the TJ Ford for Charlie Villanueva trades left. Ford is a beast.
-My brother bought me Far Cry Vengeance for the Wii for Christmas. I haven't touched the Wii since I got back.. but then again I haven't really done anything period.
-I'm starting to get a little bit concerned that I may have bit off a bit more than I can chew, regarding my Perspectives project. Most people do these things in groups, of 3 or 4. I am doing it alone. 2 weeks left til the deadline..

So there you have it. A quick and brief update of my vacation.

January 06, 2007

Urbana: God's Will

At Urbana, pretty much anyone you ask would say that the reason they were at Urbana was to learn more about God's will in their life.

I've now shared about several different perspectives or thoughts about what I experienced at Urbana. I will now delve into areas where I felt God speaking to me, and how I dealt with each of the little lessons God taught me.

Over the past year, several things have resonated through my thoughts and prayers.. if you looked through my blog entries (at least the ones that were serious and non-sports-related) over the last 2-3 months, you would remember several posts related to the following:

1) Missions

I've already been over my missions decision-making and prayerful requests for direction. To summarize, I felt God nudging me towards serving at Longlac once again this year, based on the general lack of concern for these people at a missions conference as large as Urbana, on God speaking to me through scriptures, on people I spoke with in regards to missions and their experiences.

2) Meaninglessness at work

To summarize, I have felt for a long time that the work I do is meaningless. What purpose do I have, for supporting a web-application at work? If I stopped, how many people would be critically affected? Is God pleased with what I do?

I registered at Urbana under the "Open for Business" track. Seminars belonging to this track were related to BAM (Business As Mission) and other business-related topics like money management, goals and ambitions, greed. I registered in this track having no intention of attending any of the seminars. I'm in computers. Who cares about business? I'm just a geek.

Over the conference I met several people, including Joe, an IT guy who worked at Saddleback (Rick Warren), and another guy named Brian, an owner of a software company that uses their income to fund missions. Both of these guys had valuable insight on the IT vocation, and how we can be used to further God's kingdom. Joe was a staff for Saddleback, and he talked to me about his missions work in China teaching computer and also psychology (he was now taking psychology in school). They'd travel from factory to factory in China to educate people about relationships, work ethic, and spirituality, and of course God would be a central focus on the latter. I met Joe completely at random, he was assigned to the same section as I had been, for the Stadium Servant (usher) job that I had volunteered for.

As for Brian, another chance meeting, I happened to sit down at his table for breakfast and found about his ministry. He had a software company that was using its proceeds to fund missions. He had created an openSource portal software, that gained popularity and advertising money through the Internet. He was now working on a content-management portal for churches (this is actually something T3C is, or at least should be, looking into).

I was really surprised when I talked to these two people and learned of the usefulness of what I do. It excites me in knowing that God uses everyone in some way, even computer nerds like myself.

I also ended up taking a seminar where a man spoke about innovations and inventions, creativity and entrepreneurial efforts that were used to further God's Kingdom. One story that particularly touched me was a group of women from Europe, who brought fabric and sewing materials to Africa, recruited sex workers and prostitutes, and made their own clothing line. They then shipped these back to Europe and sold them, creating a steady income for these women who could now support their families without needing to sell their bodies and risk the transfer of sexual diseases. What an amazing idea that essentially provides a sustainable income for a group of people who really needed it.

I don't believe in coincidences. God placed these people in my life so that I could have a chance to hear their stories and to learn about ways that I can use my skill set to build on His kingdom. No longer am I going to work just so I can evangelize to my co-workers. There are several different options out there for me to experiment with.

This truly gave me a renewed sense of excitement and passion about my work.

3) Relationships

I've lamented throughout the year about girls, the perfect wife, being single (and loving it). It's been a topic that seems unavoidable at times, due to the sheer volume of friends getting married or engaged, co-workers asking me, parents, etc. There's just no way around it.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I truly believe that it is up to God whether or not we find that special someone. Some people function better with a partner, others excel by themselves. There is no right or wrong. God says yes or no, and that's it.

Maybe I sound foolish in saying this, but I put this entire thing into God's hands. I am a true believer that God provides when we ask. God answers prayer.

(You may be wondering how this fits into my Urbana sharing. It just does..)

4) Worship

I have been asked to lead worship. Personally, this notion scares the crap out of me. I am not sure I can think of anything more scary than leading a congregation for *anything*, let alone the possibility of playing an instrument, while singing, while leading. That is just plain scary to me. And to have to have the onerous task of trying to get the congregation into the right mood, the right "place" -- seems almost impossible. I have enough trouble down in the pews trying to find a way to stand before the Lord and truly worship Him myself.. and then now, to have the responsibility to get people there? Yikes.

I have been asked to lead worship and I am scared at this prospect, because it's been asked several times now by different people.. people who don't even know eachother so I couldn't just blame it on a secret plot against me. It's not just a big coincidence.. God's trying to tell me something.

At Urbana, I repeatedly found myself at that "place". Coming before God, in His presence, being filled with the Holy Spirit. The emotions I felt, the freedom of letting go of myself, releasing my self-awareness. Of looking up and reaching out for Him, arms out and inviting Him in.

I don't know how to bring people to that place. But I am interested in finding out.

This is a topic that I will have to revisit because I am just totally scared at this point at the prospect of leading. I'll be praying but I'm asking you to pray with me.


So to summarize:

God answers prayers.
God places people in your life for a reason, not by coincidence.
God will tell you things you may not want to hear, but you should listen.
God has put you where are today for a reason.

January 03, 2007

Urbana: Poverty and Injustice

Love your neighbor as yourself
See a need and meet it
Defend the powerless
And in heaven be richly greeted

Our lives are but a breath
Only one chance to throw it away
To die to oneself
And see Jesus anew each day

Poverty, and dealing with poverty as well as the AIDS pandemic was one of the major subjects this year at Urbana. What our roles are in this battle against disease and suffering.

On Friday evening for dinner, Urbana delegates enjoyed a special meal. What made it special, was that it was a mixture that World Vision gives to the poor in Africa, a mixture of corn meal, some grains and vitamins.

It was difficult for me to enjoy it.. first of all it didn't taste very good at all. I put in one packet of sugar and heard many put in 3 packets. But the point wasn't to enjoy it but rather, to give a glimpse into the life of a poor african (or other country) grouping up in a poverty stricken world. I was touched by that.. and even more so, an hour later when my stomach started growling for more food.

This level of poverty really makes me think about how I spend my money, the level of luxury I live in, the number of useless things we in North America complain or debate about. Kinda puts things in perspective.

For instance, sitting in a nice 4-door sedan wondering if I should have gotten leather seats instead of cloth.. how cleaning my interior could have been so much easier if I had leather seats. Or while driving, I start to wonder why I didn't just splurge an extra thousand bucks to have the volume control on my steering wheel instead of way over there on the dashboard. To put things into perspective, the money spent there could easily have fed several villages for years.

The evil one is evil
God is faithful and true
They're fighting over your soul
So whatcha gonna do?

He promises to guide you
Promises clarity
So please don't take His call
To just mean: "Clothes for charity"

One kinda cool part of that night was that Bono from U2 teleconferenced in and spoke to us. He spoke about the war on AIDS and our roles as Christians. It was neat.

This world that we live in.. there is just so much parity between the many blessings that I've had compared to the many horrifying atrocities that others have experienced. But I think that the asterisk on both accounts would say that we all need God.

All the evil and injustice of the world goes streamin
Into city where kids cannot even start dreamin
Cuz they laborin' without knowing the hope of Jesus
Or they simply dying of preventable diseases

It may seem daunting friends
But your battle gear is useful
Every day spent in the Word of God
Is making you more truthful

God is concerned with the last, the least, the lost and the littlest. One speaker, Sharon Cohn told us a story about a woman named Elizabeth, a Christian. She was told about a job that would allow her enough money to support her family, only it turned out that she was captured and sold to a brothel, where she was imprisoned and forced to become a sex slave. She was raped and abused repeatedly. She prayed for God's help. A year later, when she was finally rescued, they found this written on the wall of the her prison cell, where she had been tortured and abused:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation --
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life --
of whom shall I be afraid?"

"When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall."

"Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

(Psalms 27: 1-3)

When I heard this story, it nearly broke my heart. To endure the way she did.. I wonder and fear if my faith is as strong.

(italics are a rap written by Jedd Bloom)

January 02, 2007

Urbana: Unify Us

We lift our song
Sing as one voice
To the King, let it ring
We need You

We lift up our lives
A living sacrifice
Give it all, all Your call
We need You

At Urbana I was exposed to a huge dose of God, of prayer, praise and worship, a constant feeding of God's word and instruction. I felt the Spirit moving in me, I felt peace, and this unending urge to smile and laugh as a result of it. It was a 5-day spiritual buffet of love, an all-you-can-eat of blessings and teachings.

Going from what I suspect was a tiny morsel of what heaven must be like, to the "real world", I feel the need to feed again and I'm just now realizing how hard that can be when we are faced with so many distractions, negative thoughts and feelings, sin.

Unify us
Purify us
So that we will change the world
So that we will change the world

It's made me realize how much I need God. How much WE need God. How I need to always recognize His grace, in knowing that He is there for me, that He is calling my name and reaching out His hand towards me. It's hard, I think, to also have that mindset with all the things going on around us in everyday life.

And as I try to continue this walk in Jesus, I must strive to maintain a balance between gorging on spiritual nourishment, and eventually feeding others. God is a missionary God, we're all called to serve in missions one way or another, so we need that balance.

Jesus you are our hope
Giver of life
Without you what could we do
We need you

Towards the end of the conference, the emcee Greg Jao spoke about how the transition between "Urbana-world" to "real-world" would be difficult, because regular life is so much busier, so much more distracting, etc. I've been feeling that this morning. So many overwhelming feelings and thoughts, and as real life creeps back in, so many distractions and temptations.

We need you Lord
We need you Lord
We need you Lord
Here our cry

January 01, 2007

Urbana (Happy New Year)

I felt so happy today. I'm still happy. I feel so unbelievably blessed.

Worship time was so good, the place just absolutely erupted tonight, it was so amazing. God broke down the walls of inhibitions tonight. I sit here today and admit, proudly, that I, ebrian, danced. I've made this excuse in the past, where I'd say that dancing is silly and that I would probably only dance if something truly amazing happened, like for Jesus' second coming. Well that's not quite what happened but I let's just say I was really into it.

And honestly, I probably looked pretty ridiculous, but I didn't care. God was "in da house" and I was soaking it all in.

I spent most of the day reflecting on what God has been speaking to me about over the past few days. I've committed myself to the Ojibwey people of the Longlac area. I know it's where God's calling me to commit, and that feeling of being certain of where the Almighty wants me is so satisfying, so fulfilling. That fact alone had me smiling for most of the day, and just feeling so uplifted and relieved. I don't know how else to describe it other than that I felt "full" of spirit.

I know what Chris Tomlin was singing about in his song "Enough", that all of God, is more than enough. I feel satisfied like I had a big meal and you kind of just sit there patting your stomach and smiling.

God is good.