Friday, July 10, 2009

So what's a blog for anyway?

I re-discovered my blog from college today! It's a livejournal (how angsty).

I read some of my old entries this morning. Many of them are all about what I was up to, chronicling the ups and downs of my life as a university student. I started it halfway through my freshman year and my last post was in the fall of my senior year (after that I lost the password to it and had to create a new one; perhaps it was best that those thoughts would be preserved in a wholly separate place). It is really fun to reflect, and luckily I really did document many of the goings-on of those years. There were things I had completely forgotten.*

This got me thinking: Why blog? People have made fun of blogs a lot, and I've been mocked for doing things like blogging or Twitter or whatever. But you know what? I'm going to keep doing them. I've been mocked for things before and I never let that stop me. I realize that I could just keep a private journal (which I do, thank you very much), but I think this is good because it 1) forces me to think a bit more about how I'm articulating my thoughts (i.e. keeping an "audience" in mind) and 2) it's stored on the interweb so that I won't lose it.**

One other thing I realized when reading my old blog: Some things change, others stay the same. So now, a few observations about how I'm different and how I'm still me...

- Thankfully, I've matured some in my faith, my thought processes, and my values.
- I don't use emoticons anymore.
- My musical tastes have refined somewhat.

- I have some favorite (go-to) words and phrases and literary techniques. For instance, the parenthetical statement; also the word "somewhat."
- I tend to pick the same topics, namely music.
- I love lists. I make lots and lots of lists.

Well, there we have it. I'm resolving now to blog more frequently. Here's to nostalgia!

* Kerrie is really good at remembering. This is a shortcoming of mine. Good thing I have a blog!
** Photobucket destroyed all the pictures I had originally posted on my LiveJournal. Not cool.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When I am weak, then I am strong.

Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.
– Plato (in Phaedrus)

According to Plato, it’s all about perception, about the fact that appearances may only be a flawed reflection of the truth of a situation. Martin Luther once said, “That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened” (Thesis 19, Heidelberg Disputation, 1518). He went on to say that one who claims to theologize based on surface appearances should be known as a “theologian of glory,” or to say it another way, what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 1:20 as the “philosopher of the age.” The apostle speaks here of those who do not comprehend the counterintuitive message of the Gospel: that God gave Himself up to the sufferings of the Cross for the sake of an undeserving and ungrateful people. It really is kind of counterintuitive…

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
– 1 Corinthians 1:18

Often, I find myself sliding all too comfortably into a theology of glory; I believe too easily that life is about glory, about blessings and success. But if there is one message Christ preached, it was not a sermon he spoke, nor was it even the life he lived. It was the death that he died: the Cross. It is the Cross to which the Christ-follower is called, not glory. It is the Cross from which the true theologians get their picture of God’s plan, not glory. It is the Cross by which we have been saved, not glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And this is more than simply learning to live in a world where there is suffering (although this is most certainly part of the Christian experience, simply because it is part of the human experience). Indeed, it even goes beyond just accepting that suffering is inevitable (even though it is). It approaches a strange, counterintuitive – dare I say foolish? – approach to life: that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We are not called to glory in this life. We are called to suffer as Christ suffered, knowing our hope is for what is unseen. We are called to be “content” with weakness, because this is the way things really are. The way of strength, perfection, and glory may seem right, and it is so tempting to live wrapped up in these things. But things are not always what they seem: up is down and down is up; strength is weakness and weakness is strength. Oh that we could live in light of this truth… a theology of the Cross.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Verse



That's how I saw God.

Punishing us in this life,
committing us to Purgatory after death,
sentencing sinners to burn in hell for all eternity.

But I was wrong.

Those who see God as angry...
do not see Him rightly...
but look upon a curtain
as if a dark storm cloud has been drawn across His face.
If we truly believe that Christ is our Savior...
then we have a God of love,
and to see God in faith is to look upon His friendly heart.

So when the devil throws your sins in your face
and declares that you deserve death and hell,
tell him this...
"I admit that I deserve death and hell.
What of it?
For I know One who suffered...
and made satisfaction in my behalf.
His name is Jesus Christ,
Son of God.
Where He is,
there I shall be also."

*Special prize to whoever can name the source without the aid of any form of technology. And I'm serious about a prize...

Friday, April 17, 2009



So, do you know the actual definition of this word?

Quick, before you look it up, reply to this post, and without reading anyone else's reply, write your own definition of the word "caveat."

Please do not be embarrassed to get this wrong. I want you to take a stab at it.

To loosen things up, I'll start off with an incorrect definition just so you won't be alone...

caveat - a French word meaning a small, hollow rock formation filled to the brim with fish eggs

There, now give it a go... (but really try)


Saturday, April 11, 2009


It's done... thesis, that is. I will defend it on Thursday. I'd love to say that this will mean I'm done with all academia for the rest of the year, but sadly, this is not so. More assignments due next week, with still more to come in the near future. Aren't I scholarly?

However, I would be remiss to say that this does not mark a huge milestone in my academic career. The document into which many hours have been poured is nearing its final version. And what I hope with all this, is that the work I've done amounts to more than the sum of its pages (54 including appendices). I'd like to think that aside from the staggeringly immense contribution my work makes to the body of scholarly literature (i.e. sitting politely in the university archives), that it also represents hard work, sacrifice, and love on the part of so many of my friends, family, teachers, and colleagues. If anything, for me it serves a stark reminder of both God's bountiful blessings in my life and the privilege it truly is to receive what not all can: an education.

...which is why I thought it might be nice to post the "Acknowledgments" page from my Master's Thesis here on my blog. It was my only shot at actually writing something in my own voice for this project, and I'd say I took my liberties with it. Anyway, some of you reading may have a part in this, and writing it really did make me realize how blessed I am (and how thankful I ought to be). I apologize if I neglected anyone who feels like they should have been mentioned, I'm sure you understand. Also, if you're wondering about that list of first names, it's my MAHE graduate cohort (a.k.a. my classmates). Finally, if this seems out of context, I'm sorry. It maybe makes a little more sense at the outset of a very long, somewhat technical document; like a breath of cool, clean air right before you head down into the murky, musty cellar to make some repair you've been putting off for weeks. Wow, that makes my thesis sound pretty awful; perhaps that metaphor [sic]* is a bit too strong...

Enough disclaimers. I apologize for nothing!

There are a number of folks to whom I am irrevocably indebted. A special thanks goes to my family who instilled in me the love of learning, and more importantly a concrete definition of love through words and action; to my significant other, the lovely Kerrie Schene, for her patience in unconditionally tolerating a full-time graduate student who has probably seemed like only a part-time boyfriend all too often; to Tim Herrmann for honestly believing in me far more than is even appropriate; to Jenny Collins for making the past two years absolutely formational for me as a professional and a person; to the students who participated in my study and the faculty who let me completely hijack their classes to hand out surveys; to the men of the Box, whose integrity, grace, and love have been inversely proportional to the size of our humble accommodations (but we love it so); to Cindi Carder for what I consider an “above and beyond the call of duty” helpfulness; to Scott Moeschberger for being flat-out brilliant; and to Caleb, Matt, Miriam, Polly, Sara, Emily, Heidi, Kyle, Nathan, Brent, Tammi, Laura, Derek, Katie, Barry, Travis, and Kelly for leaving me with absolutely no words that could articulate what they have meant to me, how they have literally made me into a better man than I was, and who they will be for the field of higher education and for the Kingdom of God. There is no other way to explain the blessings that all these people represent except for the fact that Jesus Christ has saved my life and made it into something entirely different and entirely better than I ever could have achieved, let alone imagined, on my own. I think perhaps “thankful” does not nearly cut it…

*I know, I used a simile. I prefer the word metaphor, so there.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review: Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Here is a book review I wrote for my Leadership class. Obviously, since I wrote it for class it's not exactly written toward my blog audience (whatever that means). In light of that, I will also add some additional blog thoughts at its conclusion...

Book Review

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York: Little, Brown Co.

Malcolm Gladwell is a very successful writer. He has authored two #1 international bestsellers and currently works as a staff writer for The New Yorker. He is a success story. I think this gives him a certain level of credibility as he embarks on an exploration of some of the world’s greatest success stories in his latest work, Outliers.

We normally think about successful people as intelligent and ambitious, people who were willing to lead by innovation and persistence. We read about the keys to successful leadership, strategies for going from “good to great,” and studies on the best leaders and how they do what they do. But Gladwell’s voice in the conversation on leadership wants to say that maybe things, as complex as they may seem, are infinitely more complex than we could have ever imagined. Perhaps, not only is success a product of incredibly hard work and once-in-a-generation intelligence or gifting, but also a whole host of extenuating circumstances and extraordinary opportunities. His argument essentially states that those who exceed all others in success – outliers – are those who have been given incredibly rare opportunity and extremely unique legacy.

Outliers tells the stories of some of the technology and software industry’s pioneers, of the most wildly successful attorneys of our time, of all-star Canadian hockey players, of airlines that have been saved from financial ruin overnight, and of multi-racial Jamaican immigrants who found a way to rise above their circumstances against all odds. He has found, in researching a vast array of exceedingly successful people and organizations, that the things most of these have in common is opportunity and legacy.

The theory of opportunity deals with advantages gained due to demographics such as socio-economic class, place in history, even birth-date (Did you know that being born in January means you'll likely be a better hockey player than your friends born in April? least if you're Canadian, that is..). Gladwell insists that perhaps even more important than intelligence or “natural” leadership ability, are the millions of variables surrounding a person’s life, including where they grew up, when they were born, or what their parents did for a living. All of these aspects contribute to unique opportunities for a person’s personality and skill-set to be formed for just the right moment in history. He also provides support for a theory that to truly become an expert at anything, one must have spent at least 10,000 hours in practicing that particular skill, further solidifying his place in the “Nurture” camp of the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate.

To add to his theory on opportunity, Gladwell also explores the nuances of what he calls “legacy.” His focus with this concept is the set of advantages and disadvantages that are inherently passed down from a person’s parents and native culture, things such as communication style, entitlement, social skills, work ethic, and even dumb luck. Ultimately, Gladwell suggests that if we could understand better what kind of advantages we may be giving certain members of society, and withholding from others, more folks would have a shot at becoming the leaders, innovators, and thinkers that could take society beyond what we might even consider possible.

This book has a great amount of application to a discussion on leadership. It would tend to suggest that leaders can be made, but that perhaps they could be born into circumstances that would make it more difficult to fully achieve their potential. This says a lot about how we should approach leadership development in students: creating opportunities and leaving a legacy are incredibly important if we want our students to display the same successful characteristics as the “outliers” of society, those who are uniquely equipped to lead change.

Blog Thoughts:

This book made me realize how important it is to give people an opportunity to realize their potential. It also made me realize how much of who I am is a product of who a whole lot of other people are (e.g. parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers, classmates, teammates, co-workers, even strangers) and the events that happen to be occurring during my lifetime.

For the Christian, Outliers offers a study in the sovereignty of God over all the details of our lives. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." God is all over the details of my life. He is making me into who He would have me be all the time. Even more still, the Holy Spirit is refining me through the current sufferings and stumblings I happen to be encountering.

And finally, I need to be aware of the impact I can have on another's life. Regardless of what I try to do, I have effects on people all the time without ever intending it. So the real question, since I have little control on whether I affect others, is how will I continue to submit myself to God's will that I love others and set an example in godliness and righteousness to them so that the impact I have will utimately glorify Him?

Follow me as I follow Christ.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Annie wanted something more substantial.

Ask and ye shall receive...

Bam b-b-b-b-bam!

And for your Internet Explorer users...

A special thanks to Justin Rutzen on this one.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Employ Me!


Yep, I am. Hello again Blogosphere.

I am almost done with my thesis. Almost.

That said, I'm looking for a job. If you run a college, shoot me a quick email and I'll work for you.