a new semester

Some of you know how I like to lie to kids at church cause they’re so gullible. (Don’t worry, I tell them the truth when I’m teaching, but anything outside of that is fair game) Anyways, one of my infamous stories is when I tell them I have an Adam’s apple because I tried to swallow a whole apple and it got stuck in my throat and has been there ever since. 70% of the time they believe me. Well, ironically, I was eating an apple the other day and a large chunk somehow got past my teeth and slipped into my throat. It was just stuck there and wouldn’t go down, and it was too far down to regurgitate back up. It was a highly uncomfortable experience. I had to drink water for like 5 minutes before it finally broke loose.

In my last blog, I said that I was going to take a few days to go down to the south island. Well, that didn’t happen. I had my ferry ticket booked and everything, but I had to cancel the day before because it was raining all week. So I couldn’t even explore Wellington and was stuck inside the whole. Sucky. I was also disappointed because this was supposed to be like my “God-time” break. Yeah, I could’ve spent time indoors with God, but it’s just not the same. Still, over these past few weeks, through various passages I’ve read in the Bible, through listening to a few sermons from podcasts, and just thinking a lot, I’ve had some time to do some revaluation.

During one of the church services, the pastor posed a rhetorical question: “What would happen to Karori (the town I live in) if this church ceased to exist? If all the Christians were gone, would they notice? Would there be a difference?” I looked around and saw one lady nodding her head. I still don’t know too much about this church, but thinking for myself, and also Christians in general, the opposite would be true. As nice as it would be to think that Christians are having a positive impact in our communities, I have to sadly admit that I don’t believe that is the case. Yeah, I know it sounds cynical, but here’s why.

In one of my classes, we were having a discussion on identity. One of the students made a comment that went something like, “If someone identifies himself as a Christian, they actually have to believe in that faith. Someone could go to church every Sunday and claim to be a Christian, but that doesn’t actually make them a Christian if they don’t believe that.” Then another student said jokingly, “What’s the difference?” and the whole class laughed. And it disturbs me how true that statement is. To everyone else, there is no distinction between someone who attends church and someone who really knows God. Why is that?

I actually had several paragraphs of intense theological discourse on this topic, but I opted to delete it. I don’t need to spew out anymore rants. But to sum it up, I believe Christianity is best described in one simple passage: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself” – Jesus. It’s so simple – just love God and love people. If only we did that. Just some food for thought. I’m trying to align what my mind knows, what my heart believes, and what my body does. I’m going through a tremendous amount of reflection over the past several years of my life and trying to make sense of it. This whole paragraph is random, but such is a reflection of everything swirling around inside me right now.

I mentioned earlier that I was listening to podcasts on iTunes. If you’re interested, you should look up Erwin McManus from Mosaic and Francis Chan from Cornerstone. They are really amazing pastors that have encouraging and challenging messages – great to listen to in the morning as you’re getting ready for your day. Also, I discovered this thing on iTunes called iTunes U. It’s a bunch of free lectures from different universities. Right now I’m listening to courses in Early Church History, Elementary Greek, and Business (Isn’t it ironic that when I pay 20 grand a year for education I slack through it, and now I listen to it cause it’s free).

Well, it’s a new semester, and things are moving along. I’ve taking a job as a tutor. It’s not a one-on-one thing like in the U.S. In New Zealand, students are required to attend a weekly tutorial session in addition to their classes, which is basically a review. So I’m like a TA. It’s a 100-level course called Intro to International Relations. I have 2 one-hour tutorials on Fridays with about 15 students in each class. And then I grade some essays at the end of the semester. It’s really good cause it reinforces what I’m learning through teaching it, and I get paid too. Karate’s my other activity, and that’s pretty good. I’m becoming more lethal every week. Also, my twinkies went super fast (people really like them here). So if any of you are in the U.S. and able, mail me more. I’ll reimburse you. With benevolent thoughts. And money.

Oh, and I had a pretty good birthday here. About 15 of my friends from church surprised me (kinda but not really) by coming over to my house and with lots of cake and food. If you’re one them reading this, then thank you. It filled me up with warm fuzzy feelings. And thanks for the facebook messages too. It was much more enjoyable reading those instead of my school stuff.

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