Archive for July, 2012

July 18, 2012

There’s no such thing as a “free lunch”

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I’ve been cutting my own hair for the past 5 years.  It took me about 2 years to begin to master the art, but it seemed well worth the investment.  For the price of a pair of scissors, a comb, and a set of clippers, I was saving $250-$300 a year on haircuts.  That’s nearly $1,500 to date, which conveniently adds up to the price of my new Macbook I’m using to write this post!  But while I was cutting my hair the other day, I was faced with the above motto depicting an economic principle I learned in high school (Mr. Basbagill would have been proud).

As I was using my fingers to comb through my hair and determine its desired length, I inadvertently ended up cutting off a tiny chunk of my left pinky.  After I let out a schoolgirl yell, I quickly examined my stupidity.  There was a split second where the area around my knuckle turned blindingly white… then the blood started to flow.  My bathroom sink was covered in my hair, pools of water, and now countless spots of red.  I could feel tiny bits of my hair entering my wound, and I did whatever I could to frantically clean up my mess.

While I was sterilizing my entire bathroom, I couldn’t help but think to myself: “This was not worth the $25 I thought I was saving.”

Chopping off a chunk of my own flesh enlightened me to the concept of opportunity cost.  What I thought I was saving myself the price of a single haircut, actually cost a lot more than its perceived value.  Even when I was getting my hair cut at salons and barber shops, it would take no more than 30 minutes (rinse, blow dry, and styling included).  But when I was first learning to cut it myself, I spent the good part of 2 hours perfecting every strand of my hair to its envisioned state.  The vacuuming of hair and cleaning up newspapers were not tasks I was responsible for when I had my hair cut by someone else.  There were other intangible costs that came with the territory of doing it myself, and sometimes I wonder if they’re worth the extra couple bucks.

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Gospel ConnectionEverything we assess in life is screened through this principle of opportunity cost.  Especially as Americans, and even as Christians, we like to have options, weigh them, and choose the best one available to us.  We feel more constrained and enslaved when we’re limited to fewer choices.  The schools we pick, the clothes we wear, phones we surf the internet with, the churches we decide to attend, the relationships we choose to invest in, even the very faiths we believe in… these are all choices we make on a basis that determines the most self-serving option over the rest.

When we base our decisions on what is “best for me,” we only perpetuate our sin.  Our narcissism is fed by a system revolving around our broken nature.  The only One justified to be self-centered is God himself.  Praise the love of the Father, who chose not to consider the  alternatives over the cost of redemption.  Gracious is the Son, who willingly laid down his life for his enemies to be called coheirs.  Blessed is he who allows the Spirit to move them of this truth, and live as if the only option in life is Christ himself!

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
– Romans 6:1-4

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July 10, 2012

Lamp Post (Guest Entry)

by: anonymous

Whenever the weather is nice, I like to go out onto my porch.  It’s usually at night so I always end up staring at the street lamp post behind my house.  It’s not too bright, but you definitely notice it.  One night it really stood out to me.  I noticed how it was always there, showering the street with its orange glow.  The lamp post is always there, so people know where they are going.  Its constant presence seems to provide a sense security.  Everyone knows that lamp posts are there and they know why they’re there, but rarely do people appreciate them.  That is, until they go out or they walk onto a street without any.

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Gospel Connection:  Now mind you, I’m no seminarian, but on this night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the never-ending love of Christ.  There are times where we go on with our lives worry-free.  Then only during times of distress and anguish, do we cry out to ask for God’s intervention.  But the fact of the matter is: He was, is, and ALWAYS will be there… whether we happen to notice Him or not.  We may not acknowledge or appreciate Him as we should, but He’s there, wanting to be available to you.  And just like a lamp post, He’s there so people can see where they’re going.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come,
the Almighty.
– Revelation 1:8

July 4, 2012

R&R

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I’ve been in school for the past 19 years.  And for the better part of nearly two decades, I’ve been a pretty good student: I rarely missed a day of school, I earned good grades, I was liked by all my teachers, and I was well behaved.  But regardless of my admirable school record, I was just as eager as the next kid to leave school grounds whenever the bell rang at 3:00pm or scream and holler when the year had concluded for summer vacation.  Homework and exams were only done because I had to, so I just gritted my teeth until it was all done.  As a result, my methods for “unwinding” from school were as lethargic as my efforts to study were studious.

This habit seems to have carried over to today, even as a seminarian.  After an exam, I would nap for hours for the sleep I lost studying; after finishing a paper, I would watch hours of movies/TV shows/Korean dramas to dumb my mind with meaningless entertainment; and after concluding a semester, I would then proceed to spend the next couple of days hanging out with friends and piggin’ out on food to raise my cholesterol level.  As I would like to call it, “veggin’ out” seemed to be the perfect remedy for hard work well done.

But after a while, I didn’t feel rejuvenated from my usual means of unwinding.  Sleeping in, staring at my computer screen, and eating unhealthy foods no longer seemed to serve as the R&R I needed.  In fact, I felt more tired and restless when I did these things.  And what were activities that were meant to prepare me for the next exam, paper, or semester, only made me burnt out and unmotivated to do work.  Clearly my method of rest wasn’t working.

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Gospel Connection:  Only God can give true rest.  What we think of as “rest” or “unwinding” after a long day or hard semester is most often focused on ourselves and our own satisfaction.  And especially when our work revolves around our benefit, it’s no wonder that our attempt to rest actually makes us more restless.

After the sixth day of Creation, God saw everything He made and it was good.  On the seventh day He rested and established the Sabbath.  So only when our work is kingdom-focused for the purpose of glorifying God can we partake in the Sabbath as God has set forth.  Our rest becomes useless when our aims are to restore our own goals and motives.

But as always, we’re always faced with the clincher of the Gospel: none of this can be accomplished by sheer will.  Kingdom-building work and divinely-instituted rest is only made possible through the redemptive work of Christ.  As I learned the hard way, even rest can be done the wrong way.  So the next time God gives you a breather or when you feel like your confronted with some “me time,” remember to reflect on the One who made everything possible.  Praise his name, identify with his character, and do likewise out of your joy for his extended hand; only then can you find true rest.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
– Matthew 11:29-38 (ESV)