Monday, July 28, 2003

Not Creepy, so much as...stupid?

Manders, I took a spin on that link to the name-site. Rest assured, they're full of crap. Here's part of my results.

"Your first name of David has given you a very practical, hard-working, systematic nature. Your interests are focused on technical, mechanical, and scientific things, to the exclusion of interests of an artistic, musical, or social nature. You have a rather skeptical outlook on life and rather materialistic standards. In reaching your goals, you are very independent and resourceful, patient and determined. You can be so very positive and definite in your own ideas and opinions that others sense a lack of tact and friendliness in your manner of expression."

Um... no. Not even close. Maybe some of the bad stuff, on my worst days. But choosing technical, mechanical, and scientific, over the arts? NOT A CHANCE.

So yeah. It's another phony voodoo. No worries.


To my other readers: If you want to see what a COOL blog looks like, hang out with Manders in The Living Room. Drink coffee, talk about life, listen to emo. Good stuff. I go there daily for edification and amusement.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

A Dream Realized

Although it seems frivolous, considering my Piper-filled previous post, I'm about to gush for a while, so brace yourself.

Tonight, a musical dream of mine came true. I just came back from the Counting Crows/(johnmayer) concert at the Pavilion tonight. Wow. I'm glowing, seriously. Too rad.

And as I am the person who finds the cloud in every silver lining, the experience was tainted by a few elements, briefly enumerated here:
--The Mayer fans: you know how you can spot a Mayer fan? First clue: 18 and under, or 21, beer in hand and saying things during the warm-up act like, "who cares, bring on Johnny." Second clue: TALKING DURING THE ENTIRE CROWS SET. Third clue: STILL TALKING THROUGH THE ACOUSTIC PORTION OF THE CROWS SET, IN A REALLY LOUD TONE. Grrr.
--Instead of being a Crows "with special guest, Mayer" concert, it was a double bill show. Do we make that punk Mayer pay his dues? No, we let him sit at the adult table already, even though he's put out, um, one studio project. Way to go pal, play every song on your album tonight, okay?

Anyway... now to goodness.

I'm on my blanket on the Pavilion's expansive lawn. About halfway back, on the left side, a bit far, but still a clear line of sight of the stage. The first act is pretty good--the Graham Colton group. Or Colman. I don't know. But they're not bad. I read while they played (no one to talk to, that's right kids, I was flying solo tonight). Then, after the set break, some people were apparently coming on stage, cuz the girlies started screaming. I rolled my eyes, thought "Let's get this Mayer business over with" and kept reading intently. Until... I heard the voice of, not the scruffy kid, but Adam Duritz. I nearly did a double-take. The Crows...playing...first?!? Egad.

Yes, they did the front end of the bill, which turned out to be okay.

So the Crows set. Uber-rad. Opened with "Rain King", including a few extra verses that I wish i could remember but just can't. They played several tracks off the new album, including the quasi-title track, as well as "Miami", "Richard Manuel is Dead", and "Good Time". OH, one of Adam's anecdotes was about the creation of "Good Time." He finished it on the bus, as they were pulling into San Antonio for a gig a couple years back. For those who don't know/remember, the final lines of the song are "I really love those red-haired girls, just like all the boys in Texas." Turns out that he wrote that partly because he spent part of his childhood in our fair city of Houston. Life of a military brat. He said his dad also taught at UH. SO that's fun, right?

Um...flashback goodness. They pulled out "Omaha" and "Mr. Jones" (of course) off the first album, and "St. Robinson and His Cadillac Dream" off of This Desert Life. Ended the first part of the set with "HanginAround," my Houston-in-August anthem. I always would get that song stuck in my head two weeks before my return to OBU.

Then, Adam came back and sat at the piano, and played "Goodnight L.A." by himself, which was so great. Then the band returned for "A Long December." Then, after the set, Adam cued the PA guy, who played "California Dreamin" by the Mamas and the Papas, over the PA system. While the band was getting all their equipment off stage, Adam led the audience in an unofficial singalong for about half the song before bowing and leaving.

Too cool. Had a fun conversation with two other hard core fans (one paid over three hundred bucks on ebay for second row seats. If I had it, I would too.)

Then I stayed for about three songs of the Mayer set, before leaving. I didn't pay to see him. The Crows played for over an hour and a half. I got my money's worth.

One thing I noticed that surprised me. I always thought Mayer was the clean-cut, take-home-to-momma type. No, Virginia, not the case. His songs are actually more sexually charged than expected. The Crows seemed almost tame.

But no, the screaming of little girls drove me away, destroying my resolve to stick through the set in the hopes that Adam would join Mayer on stage for an encore. (He probably did, but I'll never know.)

But, gripes aside, what a great show. I can't say enough.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Unabashed Honesty Post #3

I had something here earlier.

...Nevermind. Moment of weakness. I'm back now.
Unabashed Honesty Post #2

I had a dream last night. I don't remember all of it, but the last part of it I do recall. I found myself standing with an armload of clothes in the lobby of an OBU dorm. It seemed to be an amalgam of Kerr and upstairs Taylor, if you're curious. Anywho, I was greeted by my good friend Matt Romoser (Class of 2000) who said, "Hey Dave, you're back ?" "Um, yeah, looks like it." "Cool, man. See you later." Then he left.

I stood for a moment, turned around, looked at the couches, the tv, the people playing video games, then the bundle in my arms, dirty clothes, I think. And I asked myself, "What am I doing here? I graduated, I'm done. I can't come back anymore." I realized that Romoser wasn't supposed to be there, either. Aside from being graduated, he's also married and in the Marines. It was as if I took a giant leap backwards, while still having my current consciousness and memories.

Interpretation: One of my struggles (yes i'm still dealing with this) is letting go of the past. College was the best four years of my life (cliched but true), and right now, the outlook is kinda bleak for the future. Part of me has been holding on to the old life with the friends and the structure and the sense of accomplishing something, because I'm afraid that OBU was, yes Jack, as good as it would get for me. Which is stupid and defeatist, yes i know. But true feelings.

This may be the cause for my dearth of friendships in Houston. By putting up a wall of distance between myself and anyone new here, I'm in a way rejecting the reality that I am here now, college is over, and I have to embrace this life, with its struggle and doubt and confusion.

Fourteen months after graduating, and I'm still struggling to accept the end of college and beginning of adulthood.
Theme Song

This song hit me hard when I first heard it, and it seems to be growing more apropos as the summer wanes.

"Something More" by Switchfoot

Fumbling his confidence and wondering
Why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he's bent for more
Than arguments and failed attempts to fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside.

Dreaming about providence and
Whether mice and men have second tries
Maybe we've been living with our eyes half open
Maybe we're bent and broken

We were meant to live for so much more...

We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life
We were meant to live...

While ostensibly this song is told more for those who haven't found new life in Christ, something about it strikes me too. I think there is a cry in every Christian's heart to live for something more than mechanical Christianity. As I was standing in line at the Grapevine bookstore today, I saw a book cover on the rack nearby. The book was by the well-renowned John Piper (who I'm starting to read) and the title, in bold letters, cried out "Don't Waste Your Life!" Before, I would have laughed to myself and said, "Um, okay!" But the injuction hit me at just the right angle, like a shuttle in reentry.

Why would a Christian writer tell other Christians not to waste their lives? Possibly because we think that if we do the church-dance, and the tithe-dance, if we chant our meal-time blessings and mumble bed-time thanks, that's all God requires of us. But I don't think that's right.

While I haven't read the book in question, I would venture to guess (based on what I have read of Piper) that he's warning us against going through the motions of life thinking our bare-minimum Christianity is o-tay. Because while we will still get into heaven if our faith was in Christ, our life on earth will be mission-less, hollow, and hungry.

That's the ache I'm feeling. The hunger for a calling. That's the something more. Even as Christians, we feel the desire for something greater. And it's not foolish fancy that creates this desire, but God himself, stirring in us the hunger for a radical, dangerous journey with Him.

And the struggle, the division, is the battle between my hunger for meaning and the quick fixes of my flesh. I am reading Piper's mini-book "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" which discusses the Christian's duty to delight in God, as the completion of worship and reflection of His glory. In one chapter, he quotes C.S. Lewis, who concludes that man is "too easily pleased." The old man, the old nature, the flesh (whatever name you call it) gravitates toward pleasures that, while some may be good and appropriate, are really temporary fixes for a greater need. These minor delights take our minds off the true Delight of our Hearts. We are appeased by these dimmer candles and feel no need for the light of the Son.

But the candles all burn out. And the hole remains.

We were meant to live for something more than entertainments, possessions, human relationships, fame, financial security, power. Jesus gave us the answer, and it wasn't too difficult: "Seek first My Kingdom. Seek My righteousness. Everything else is just gravy."
Unabashed Honesty Post #1

It has been a really lousy couple of weeks. I'm still completely stymied in my search for gainful employment. Turned down by every cool or at least tolerable job I've applied to, and ignored by the rest of the working world. My temp job grading papers has ended, and now I only have my tenuous pizza position to support myself on. Looks like that one might not even last the summer.

I'm really stressed out, and for the last several days have been sinking into yet another trough of depression. At least this time I could see it coming. But I have no idea why it happens. Okay, a few ideas. But nothing useful. And no obvious antidotes.

One major issue I'm dealing with is my apparent lack of focus and direction. I have no mission. And it's hard to be a warrior without a cause. If you're not preparing for battle, then your armor feels heavier and heavier. At least before, in previous seasons of life, there was purpose, direction. I had something or someone to work for and towards. Now, I have no one, nothing. I'm not getting mopey here, I'm being serious, so stay with me. I have dreams that seem unattainable and futile, and challenges that seem unconquerable. Short-form--I'm a defeated man.

And I have lost my heart. Not in the romantic sense, guys. But I feel, in a way I've never felt before, utterly spiritless. What seafarers would call the doldrums. There's no wind, thus no motion. My sails are hanging lifeless and useless. I have no desires, no feelings. I'm numb, most of the time, or depressed because I don't feel anything but depressed.

Keep me in prayer, my friends. I know that there is a choice before me, I can feel it, but I don't know what it is or what to choose. I need to see clearly the path and the plan. At least the first step.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Dave's List-o-rama

Unabashedly ripping off of Manders, here are a few fun lists of mine. Enjoy. (I didn't do any italicizing or underlining, or any other typographically correct notations for these titles. Sue me.)

Ten Movies Worth Watching (Again)
--in no particular order--

1. Dead Poet's Society
2. Braveheart
3. The Godfather
4. The Emperor's New Groove
5. Blade Runner
6. Tombstone
7. The Philadelphia Story
8. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
9. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
10. Casablanca

Ten Literary Works You Should Have Read Already
--again, no order--

1. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Beowulf
3. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
4. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
5. The Divine Comedy, by Dante
6. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
7. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (maybe ;-o)
8. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
9. Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Ten Albums that You Should Listen to, at least once (more)
--still, orderless--

1. Coldplay, "A Rush of Blood to the Head"
2. Counting Crows, "August and Everything After"
3. Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon"
4. Audio Adrenaline, "Underdog"
5. Waterdeep, "Everyone's Beautiful"
6. The Beatles, "Revolver"
7. U2, "All that You Can't Leave Behind"
8. Switchfoot, "The Beautiful Letdown"
9. Rich Mullins, "A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band"
10. The Waiting, "Blue Belly Sky"

and finally...

Top Five Favorite old-school Nintendo games
--definitely in order--

5. Contra (what took hours in middle school now takes roughly ten minutes to finish)
4. Goonies II (what happened to the Goonies I game? just kidding...)
3. Blades of Steel (hockey goodness!)
2. Tecmo Super Bowl (I will never remember Brotherhood dorm without remembering Tecmo... hut-hut-hut-hut-hut...)

and number one... what else...

1. The Legend of Zelda (still frustrates me... I'm that sad...)

SO there you go friends. As far as controversial content on my list items, I made these lists based on what I think is cool or good, not on what is safe for the whole family. Use your judgement accordingly, and look only to your own conscience. And I DID edit my original lists, actually. Some of the stuff I liked on the movie list would have brought some comments (no, it's not THAT bad).

Much love. Later.

Monday, July 07, 2003

"Ah, look at all the lovely people..."

I need to get out more. That's what I've decided. When I realized that spending the entirety of Sunday evening playing violent video games with friends was the *best* time I've had in several months, this became clear to me.

When I blog-hop to fill the void of actual email, there's a problem.

But where did this begin? I was always outgoing and gregarious in high school. Although many "friendships" were merely acquaintances with the added convenience of non-stop proximity, I did have several stronger relationships. Some of these people I see time and again. Some I've lost completely.

But then, there's always college, right? The parental adage, "You may keep one or two friends from high school, but most of your lifelong friends will be from college." Is this true? In my experience, not so much. It's not that you have any less important and dearly-loved friends in college. Rather, it's that you all are on the verge of running headlong into life. At the risk of sounding overly cynical, it's like the soldiers on the boats speeding toward Omaha Beach. Once the ramp drops, you can pretty much count on not seeing the guy next to you ever again. To the few that survive and succeed, more days, successful or otherwise. To the rest of us, red tide and triage. (how's that for a sunny take on young adulthood?)

I have lost contact with almost everyone from college. Well, that's not entirely accurate. But I have lost my relationships from college. Every time I went up there after graduation, I had to reacquaint myself with all my former comrades. At first I enjoyed "quasi-celebrity" status, being regaled over chinese food with stories of favorite shared memories and former glories. But then, with each passing visit, it seemed more like I was doing guest spots on Hollywood Squares. "Hey, you remember that guy? He used to go here. I can't think of anything off-hand that he did, but I do remember his face, kinda..."

What is Dave trying to say? Well, lemme cut through all the depressive, overly cynical Edgar-Allan-poo to get to the point.

It's easy to get depressed. It's easy to sit back and complain and moan about how your life didn't turn out the way you wanted it to. I know mine didn't. It happens, and quite often, from what I gather. The easy part is to let your doubt and confusion and loneliness overwhelm you.

I have lost contact with all these people that I had at one point or another sworn never-ending loyalty and friendship to. I promised many that we'd stay in touch, always, and that we'd never lose what we had. And here I am, months and years later, wandering around from one old friend's blog to another, hoping, geez, praying that someone somewhere will mention my name. Proof that I am not forgotten.

But I keep forgetting the most important thing.

God never forgot my name.

And do you know where my name IS written? His book of life.

If you are a believer in Christ, so is yours.

I'd rather have my name in God's book and my face in God's mind than all the name-drops and tributes and visits and warm wishes of anyone I've ever known.

But it's easy to forget that. It's even easy to shrug that off. To say, in essence, "so what." Of course we never would say that out loud. But our actions would. Our attitudes. Our accusations to the Father, for taking us to such a lonely place in our lives that we feel everyone has forgotten us. Like Elijah in the wilderness, telling God that he's the only one still following Him.

But God's reply is simple. You're not alone. If you're part of My family, you have brothers and sisters. But most importantly, you have Me.

My favorite song by the Beatles is "Eleanor Rigby", as you may have surmised by the title of the post. The question that song asks is one that my heart has been asking for the past seven months: "All the lonely people, where do they all belong?" And finally, now that I'm starting to listen, I can hear the answer, whispered lovingly from the throne of Heaven.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

A Brief Visit from Brother Thomas Delphius, PART TWO


Fun test number two: Calculate the amount of time you spend watching television and playing video games and killing hours playing comp solitaire or blogging (haha) and all the other "leisure" activities we do, in a week. Heck, in a day. What percentage of your day/week is spent doing fun things? Now calculate your time with God, both personal and corporate, your time serving others, your time spent sharing encouragement or testimony, your time interacting with other people on a meaningful level? What percentage of your week does that come out to? My numbers don't look too good.

Based on sheer statistics, how much of your time is spent serving yourself versus serving others? C'mon, be honest.

If your numbers were as bad as mine, does that make you a bad person? Not necessarilly. And I'm not saying that you must spend six hours every day in Scripture meditation to be "holy enough". I'm not saying that at all.

All I'm trying to do is help you think. How did Jesus spend his time? How did he use every day? Did he have fun? Of course he did. Did he do leisure activities? In a way, yes. He hung out with his friends, talking. One of the first acts of his public ministry was going to a wedding of what appears to be a family friend. But Jesus realized that each day was a gift, and he used each day to its fullest. Even from a very young age, He knew that he had to be "about his Father's business." Is it any different for us? Do we have any other purpose in life, but to do the same?

Are we supposed to live up to Jesus' impossible standard? Yes.

Seriously. We have to, right? Or else, all of our words at church, in the hymns, in the prayers, in the books, they're all empty. "Oh, Lord, make us more like you... I want to be like Jesus... What would Jesus do?"

Do we mean it? Or is it just something trendy we say when we're with our church friends at the mall, spending more money on a pair of pants than many *American* families spend on weekly groceries?

Before I arouse your self-righteousness too much, let me rush to add that I'm as condemned as anyone. I waste time, I waste money, I have no true testimony with anyone I work with. I buy junk food and video games and DVDs I watch *once*. I spend and spend and spend, expecting God to just keep it coming. And then I beg God for more money to pay for my new truck. What am I doing. I spend every evening watching the same movies, which amount to little more than spiritual junk food, before throwing God a half-hearted and sleepy fifteen minutes of shallow prayer and Bible-skimming.

And we live in this amazing country, and we take it for granted that all of these things are available to us. While Christians in other continents starve and live in fear of torture, we complacently masquerade in Christian tee-shirts, clutching Gap shopping bags and slurping down our super-sized Cokes...

We have no perspective. We are blind to our own lavish blessings, thinking that it's normal. It's not. Our life in this country at this time is so far above the norm.

Think I'm being too preachy? Too radical and excessive? One more quick test. Read Philipians 4:10-13. Paul is telling the believers at Phillipi how grateful he is that they have become concerned with his needs. He goes on to make an interesting statement. He says that he knows what it is to be in need, and to be in plenty; what it's like to go hungry, and to be well-fed. I get the feeling that 99% of us can only claim half of that statement.

But he goes on to say that he's found the key to contentment in all situations. Now, stop and understand for a moment that he's in jail, in the cold muddy floor, chained to a wall, with rats and guards and stench and all. And he is telling these believers he knows how to be content in all situations.

Here's the question: Do we? Don't answer immediately. Because until you sacrifice something, you can't know the answer.

I'm not calling for radical restructuring of our lives, although I could. But I'm a coward, and a hypocrite, so I'm not going to lead that kind of radical (but in many ways biblical) charge. But I am going to leave you with this challenge. Start to include God in your daily decisions. Ask God to open your eyes to better ways to use your time, your money, your talent. Before you take that shiny, cellophane-wrapped prize to the checkout counter, ask yourself honestly if this is really what you need, and not simply what you tell yourself you need. Because most of the time, the honest question will receive the answer "no."

You see, we have gotten so caught up in the things we tell ourselves we need, that we have been blinded to what we really need all along.

Or, rather, Who we really need.
A Brief Visit from Brother Thomas Delphius

You know, God is...something, isn't He? He keeps calling us back no matter how far away we stroll.

Because many times, we don't run from God. We don't try to escape him so dramatically, we book the first ship to Joppa (or Chicago, or Dallas, or wherever). Sometimes we merely "stroll" away from God. Very smoothly, still following in God's "general direction", but we may take a step to the left or right, as the mood strikes us. We think that we can micromanage our lives.

We go to church and we agree totally with God. "Oh, yeah, God, you are in control of the cosmos, and you are in control of me. Lord of my life. You bet." But we ignore him in the seemingly unimportant things. You recent graduates may understand this. You sought God's will for your college choice, you ask him (plead with him sometimes) to bring your future mate.

But how many of us ask God what to do with our discretionary funds? Our free time? Our stupid daily choices? Do we think that the same God who tells us he knows how many hairs we lose every day (basically, right?), this same deeply involved Creator, doesn't care how we interact with the girl at the drive-thru?

Now, I'm not advocating a fanatical, paralyzing dependence on God. I knew a guy in college who would pray every day for God to tell him what shirt to wear. This is a bit much, I think. After all, God gave us a brain, to function in life.

But the kind of things I mentioned earlier are more important than clothes or what color we should dye our hair. Because money and time and relationships are resources that God has given us to use wisely. It's that old church word "stewardship."

I always thought of stewardship as only having to do with tithe. But it really goes much deeper. Stewardship first makes us aware that we never own what we own. Everything is borrowed. And most of us can at least pay lip service to this idea.

But stewardship also concerns realizing the difference between what we want and what we need. And just as important is the deeper question of why we think we need what we want.

You see, I've really been convicted lately about how much junk I own that I never use, never touch. It just sits and gathers dust. And yet I'm struggling to pay off debts and bills on a regular basis. Why? Because I'm poor or underprivileged? No. I waste what I have, then complain about not having more.

Here's a quick test, if this seems too picky. Calculate how much money you actually spend in a month on, say, McDonald's. Or coffee. Or music. Or clothes. Or books. If thirty bucks could feed and educate one foreign child each month, how many months (years?) could you give to someone who has nothing?

I'm not trying to bring you down. Actually, yes, I am. But not to be hurtful. What I'm getting at is, are we really being good stewards of the resources that God has given us?

The immediate reaction to the "Sally Struthers pitch" that I just gave is, God gave us these blessings to enjoy--why should we feel guilty? And I understand. Part of me echoes the same thing. But think about this. How much of Jesus' life is spent giving, versus enjoying the benefits of being famous, let alone, God's son? Did he say to the Rich Young Ruler, "Go and enjoy the blessings God has given you, giving thanks to God for your life?" This would have been theologically sound, right? He would still have been a good person. But Jesus didn't say that. My Bible reads that Jesus said, "Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and then come follow me."

Some people try to uber-theologize that command, and say that what Jesus was really doing was demonstrating a deeper spiritual truth about obedience and righteousness. And that is true. But I believe that Jesus really wanted the young man to liquidate his vast amount of garbage and walk away from it. Because these things of earth that clog our lives steal not only financial resources (because one CD or shirt is never enough, is it?), but they steal another valuable resource. Our time.