13Feb

Don’t Date A Girl By Her Cover (Or For Neediness)

I have had a desire in my heart for intimacy and admittedly there’s an attraction to the opposite sex. This is natural, as far as I know, but I cannot help but feel like I am superficial. I’ll look at a girl and think: “Wow, she is pretty!” without thinking about her soul or character. It seems like my flesh comes in when I focus on the easy part of love, which is finding someone attractive and acting on my passion. What makes me realize just how foolish I’m being is when I start to think about the character of that person. I see their immodest dress, what they talk about, and how they act.

Suddenly the initial attraction I had for them seems to dwindle into a black hole because I realize that if I was with this girl, I would start being insecure about her dress and her actions, or we would just flat out disagree about how to live life. And I know from past experience with my first relationship how this ends: your insecurity comes across as controlling to the other and she fights back, and you have opposing goals in life. You two get angry and consider breaking up or taking a break. You start having communication issues and can’t seem to understand each other’s hearts. The passion that your love once had from initial attraction and similar interests just can’t withstand that kind of pressure. Read More »

2Feb

When To Give Up Your Rights For A Believer

But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? […] Therefore if food causes my brother fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall. (1 Cor 8:9-13)

A lot of us today our focused on our liberty and our rights. We’re all to quick to exercise those rights even if it comes at the expense of our neighbor or brethren. Paul, on the other hand, is aware that he has a right to eat whatever food he pleases but he chooses not to exercise it. He is more concerned about stumbling a weak brother and is willing to never again eat meat so that he won’t cause that brother to fall. We should be mindful of other people’s weaknesses and willing to relent our rights just as Christ relented His divine rights for us on the cross. Some practical examples of this today may be a style of dress, type of music, alcohol / bars, certain movies, and the like. If any of these causes a person to stumble then we should do our best to be careful around them. This should be done from love and not begrudgingly. Read More »

8Sep

You Are NOT A Good Person

Being good is humanistically impossible. Anyone who thinks they’ve achieved a state of true goodness is a LIAR and the truth is not in them (1 John 1:8). It’s possible to attain “relative” goodness if you compare yourself to Hitler but this is as about as petty of a measure as regarding yourself “tall” relative to a worm. Yes, it’s true, but hardly meaningful. What you need to compare yourself to is an objective standard of goodness that’s greater than yourself. It’s what ancient thinkers like Confucius call “true goodness” (as I’m learning in class) or what Aristotle calls the virtuous life. Read More »

14Aug

My Charismatic / Pentecostal Journey (So Far)

This is a story about a teenage boy who sought to hear God’s voice and get baptized in the Spirit in order to walk in God’s power. Now this desire wasn’t always there. In fact, I grew up in a Reformed church that denied that the gifts were for today. I just defaulted to that position until I met a special friend on TeenSpot at the age of 17. At that time I was interested in debating apologetics and philosophy, so my intellectual tendencies were being chiseled into my nature. This friend of mine for some reason opened up to me about some deep experiences he had. Now to some people these were just stories, but this friend was a fellow christian knight in the fight against skepticism so I had to hear him out. I won’t tell his story for you here, but it basically involved seeing and fighting demons, discerning things in the Spirit, and great providential acts of God in his life. I never heard of a story like this; it was crazy, dramatic, and supernatural in every sense of the word. You’d probably think it came right out of some movie or TV show.  Read More »

22Jul

The Vanity of My Life

Life is a breathless sigh sometimes. I admit that I resonate with Solomon: “For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases.” (Eccles 1:18). I know the path that I walk is a lonely one, and I understand that I have knowledge but not the power to change a single thing. It’s despairing and as I see my life pass by, I’m just hoping for death’s bittersweet release. I’m 23 years old and I already want to leave this world. There are days when I experience the joy of salvation, mercy, friendship, and worldly goods but none of it can remove the background noise of grief. The joy is like a giant iceberg that attempts to cool my pain, but underneath the burning anguish of my heart is melting the iceberg.

I can’t explain to you in full words just why I feel this way. I’m caught between two worlds: the great and the void. I know enough to realize that fulfilling the American dream is utterly futile. But I also know enough to see through my own brokenness and pride. If I strive for greatness, I puff up my pride. If I strive to be nothing, I feel empty inside. Pride and humility are leeches that endlessly feed off of each other. The world around me is perishing and all I can do is write words on a blog. I’m not satisfied with just being a man; I want to be a great man of God. Someone like the disciples who were empowered by the Spirit. Why? Because that’s what it will take to change the world. Nothing else will matter. My philosophical prowess is powerless against the evil forces of this world.

Instead I’m imprisoned in the mundanity of life. Failure after failure induce distraught within me and desire for greatness seeks to overwhelm my heart with parching thirst. I look at men like Jesus of Suburbia and I realize what a useless patch of dust I am. What memory am I leaving behind on this earth? I’m like a man who sat upon a treasure chest of knowledge only to find himself unable to rescue those being destroyed by their lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Memory of me shall be nothing: I will enter Sheol alone and the joy of my birth will be remembered no more. Would the world be much different if I had never been born? Am I just a raindrop that gets forgotten in the ocean? Will I be the man who helplessly watches the world burn? If so, then I would rather die than live a life that shrivels up into a rotten old man.

I end with this song:

2Jul

Hands on with Apple Music

When I first heard about Apple Music I wasn’t excited because I already had Spotify and it worked great. But Apple Music has really grown on me. The “For You” curated playlists section is dead on for my tastes (feels more personal) and it’s fun to browse. Each artist or album has custom colors on its page, which I think looks elegant. Unifying my downloaded music with my streaming music is just what I needed. There’s significantly more music on here than Spotify. But it could be much better.

I’m not happy that I need to tap twice in order to add a song to my library when it’s done with one tap in Spotify. They got space to add that functionality. Apple seems to be slipping a little in terms of keeping the GUI simple. When I’m on my lock screen, it has a share button instead of an add song to music library button. It should be the opposite. And I shouldn’t need to hit “Available Offline” for every single artist or album that I want available offline. I should at least have the option to do that for all the songs I add to my library. Another feature that seems like a no-brainer is displaying the lyrics for songs that you’re playing. I’m not sure why they didn’t add this one.

I’m wondering whether the “@Connect” network is going to take off or if it’ll be another failure like Ping was. It’s a good start but it could be so much more. Imagine adding Last.FM’s capabilities with beautiful Apple-like graphs to show you and your friends what you listen to. Those who’ve listened to an artist a certain number of times could get some reward or exclusive access. Apple Music should have a “Friends For You” section to help you meet people with similar tastes! They also need to be able to share curated playlists like Spotify does.  Now THAT’S a social network worth having and Apple Music would be 10x better for implementing it.

Despite the lacking these features, I think Apple is off to a good start and I’m planning to switch to Apple Music. Spotify still has the upper hand on Apple in terms of student discounts, large amount of playlists, and a better design in areas but it doesn’t have that personal feel that I think Apple is beginning to fully develop.

18Apr

Why I’m Not A Calvinist (Work in Progress)

So, let me explain why I’m not a Calvinist. Let’s take several key assumptions that I think most people could agree on:

p1: God’s essence is goodness itself (1 John 1:5); which entails He is the greatest possible good.

p2: God always wills things for His own sake (Isaiah 48:11) because He cannot will anything greater than Himself

p3: By nature all men (and all created things) have God as their chief end – which constitutes their good (Colossians 1:16)

p4: All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

p5: Only God can save man from His depraved state (Ephesians 2:8-9)

p6: Salvation is infinitely good for human nature because it involves God fulfilling our chief end with Himself. Damnation is infinitely evil because we are deprived of our chief end. (Mark 8:36)

p7: God can only will that which is good and cannot will evil unless He perceives there is some good purpose for which it is permitted (Genesis 50:20)

Now, let’s see what the implications of these assumptions are:

1. If Calvinism is true then it is feasible (not just possible) for God to actualize a world in which all men are freely but irresistibly saved – or they are created such that they never reject God.

2. But according to Calvinism some men reject God and are deprived of their good.

3. If Calvinism is true then God must will that in some instances, damnation is a greater good.

4. But this is impossible because there is no greater good than God Himself.  [p1-p6]

5. Therefore Calvinism is false.

To put it another way, it is obvious that God created us for Himself and therefore He is our highest possible good. God, who is all powerful, could will all to choose Him or could at the least will to save all. The divine will always wills the good, which is Himself. Even in the act of permitting what is evil, He does so for the sake of some good. Since God willed that we have Him as our chief end, it is impossible for Him not to will Himself for us. After all, it can never be good for us to be deprived of God because that is intrinsic to our nature. Nor is it possible for God to will otherwise because there would need to be some greater or equivalent good to Himself – which is impossible by definition.  Therefore, contrary to Calvinism, it is not possible for God to will our damnation.

5Apr

Why I Believe in Jesus’ Resurrection

Jesus’ resurrection is the most radical claim that any religion has ever made about God. The idea that God would become a man in order to suffer the most humiliating death is difficult to believe. Now we take it for granted because it is a story we hear all of the time, but back then it would’ve been a stunning claim and it still should be received as such. Crucifixion is described by Josephus to be “the most wretched of deaths.” It’s not terrible merely because it is the most painful, it is terrible because it is also the most shameful. I believe the shame aspect of Jesus’ death is the most significant part of his suffering. His divine honor was replaced with utter inferiority and derision. You have the son of the highest king being brought before men to die. The very act of crucifixion was a ritual intended to strip you of honor. Nailing your arms and legs to the cross, for example, represented a total loss of power. This is significant given that this is the almighty God that we’re talking about here.  Read More »

23Dec

God’s Love Is Difficult to Accept

The doctrine of God’s love is dangerous and difficult to accept. Dangerous because it can easily be taken for granted and difficult because it can sound too good to be true. Apathy and disbelief are two extreme opposites on the same coin. What’s their cause? In my experience, I think I tend toward disbelief more than apathy. This isn’t because I do not find the doctrine to be true per se, but that I don’t find it to be applicable to me.

I make this exception because I realize the depths of my sin and I place emphasis on God’s wrath over His love. After all, if I was God I would damn myself for an eternity. Time after time I have shown how worthless my thoughts and deeds are. I’ve missed opportunities to be a witness to the gospel and I fail to do what is needed for the good of those around me. Like a dog I return to my vomit (Prov 26:11) and I repeatedly act like a brute beast toward Him (Psalms 73:22). I selfishly twist every good thing for building my ego.  Read More »