Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weirdest Testing Experience of my Life

I know what you're thinking.

No, I wasn't anally probed by aliens.

THAT would be the weirdest testing experience of a lifetime. Mine is not quite as interesting/weird/supernatural/absurd.

It all starts with me showing up to my Macroeconomics exam. After studying for hours beforehand, trying to get every last bit of information stuck in my head so that I could discharge it all onto the paper like a woman deciding to have a bunch of kids at once (Remember the Disney Channel Original Movie "Quints"?), then after hard-work and deliberation, drops them all off at once for college and is set free to never see them again!... okay, bad analogy, but I haven't written one of these in a while - give me a break.

So, I step into the room: thick russian man with long, dark hair and a giant bald spot.

He'd rather be anywhere but here.

I get my materials together to take my Macroeconomics exam. "Ok - I have this!" I think to myself. I unfortunately haven't gotten to review the first 2 or 3 chapters very much, but that's because I was studying the last 4 chapters so intensely (yes, 7 chapters - that's it). So the first couple of questions I'm iffy on, but I recognize - like that awkward, long lost cousin you know you're related to but haven't seen since the 3rd grade - but you see them and you KNOW you're related because they still have that giant mole under their left eyeball - you know the kind. The point is, I get through 10 of the 20 MC and it's all still kinda grey, but I'm getting through it. I come to 15, and I still haven't recognized very much in the sense of what I've studied. I look to the next 5 and see NOTHING I really prepared for is being asked of me. "Okay - it must all be on the essays! Good!" I look at the essays.

I find nothing that I really know well in the essays.

"What the heck?? He made it seem like everything on the practice test was about the last 4 chapters, yet this one only has stuff from the first three!" I sigh letting out a giant breath - and then a thought hits me (I had one of those cartoon lightbulb moments) - I don't recognize ANYTHING from this test. I turn around the test to reveal "MICROECONOMICS FINAL EXAMINATION."


So, all this time it didn't look familiar to me because I hadn't done any of it in over 8 months - since last semester when I took the course. (and for those wondering how this could happen - I had to get special arrangements because of my ADD, hence why I had a room to myself with the russian mobster).

So, he has to call up the testing lady to have her come down with the right paper. Even though I'm an hour into my examination, I need to start over again. I have a production at 7:30 I wanted to attend, but it's alright. I'll be fine. it's only 3:30 now. It'll be done by 6:30. We'll be good and then I can go about my business seeing "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (if the title doesn't catch you, the underlying STARING JAMES EARL JONES will).

So the lady comes down with the Exam.

Microeconomics - wrong again.

She sprints in her very short skirt (there should be a law prohibiting women over 40 to wear those - seriously) to get the paper again. And it's the right one this time.

I start to take my test.


An hour into this exam, the firm alarm goes off.

Yes. There's apparently a fire in the building.


We scurry outside the building with about a hundred other people (because it's now become so late no one else is really here). We wait. And wait. And wait.

Finally, the waiting has become so long I've start to entertain myself my doing one-legged calf raises via the sidewalk.

<--- Those aren't mine, but they will be after I take a year's worth supply of steroids... just kidding... I only use HGH... ;)

Okay - if you're really concerned, I'm all natural. Don't worry. (it's like that joke with the woman with green hair saying it's "all natural." Lamest joke ever. If you haven't heard it, let me know and I'll tell it to you. But seriously. It's lame. I learned it in 3rd grade and laughed my pants off... not literally, but... you know what I mean...).

The Russian Godfather and I walk inside to see what's going on, and the man at the front desk tells us he'll let us know when we're allowed to go back inside.

10 minutes later, the man at the front desk walks out in a trenchcoat. "Where are you going?" "My shift is up." ... seriously? "Who's supposed to tell us when we can go back inside?" "I don't know. I'm sure someone will."


We wait inside and make small talk. He tells me he has a 21 year old daughter. I almost ask "Is she single?" but refrain.

We haven't heard from anyone, so we go back to see if everyone is still out there.

Everyone's gone.

They were let back in 10 minutes ago.

... Seriously?

We return to the test room and I begin my test again - for the 3rd time. Oh - and 38 minutes has passed during that Firm Alarm stint.

I bear down and finish my test at 6:45, giving me 45 minutes before the curtain goes up at the Novella Theater and James Earl Jones walks on stage with his rather large belly and booming voice.

You ever like being funny on tests, making a joke here or there, hoping the teacher will laugh because all the essays have been REALLY dull and yours actually had a little personality, humor, and wit to it? Yeah - totally did that. Question was "Describe the Golden Rule of Capital Accumulation." I answer:

"The Golden Rule - Treat others the way you want to be treat. <----- haha. just kidding!!
The Golden Rule of Capital Accumulation - when one goes..."

Yeah, totally went there on my Macroeconomics final - I hope he chuckles.

So, I've finished the test. The moderator tells me I just need to mark down which questions I did. Multiple Choice: all of them - 1-20. The essays: 1, 2, and 3. "Sir - you were only supposed to do 2 of the 3."

... This has just been one big, bad experience.

So, now I must choose which essay to not hand in. Number 1 I definitely knew. Number 3 I knew half of it but very simply didn't know the second half and maybe would get a couple of points for effort (it was a proof - haven't teachers ever learned that kids just don't know how to prove stuff? Only evil teachers make kids do proofs on tests). Number 2 I know the entire thing, but you know those questions that are just TOO easy and take too little time to be worth 35% of your test? Yeah - one of those. There HAS to be more that I'm somehow missing.

After deliberating for TEN MINUTES, the head of the Russian Mafia looks like he's about to shoot me - literally. The man just wants to go home to his ambiguously single 21 year old daughter. He tells me I need to choose. But do I have to? Do I really? Hmmmm... so in the end I just mark all 3 were answered. It's the teacher's decision. If he wants to make the first two answered - fine. If he somehow feels bad that I did all 3, maybe he'll give me the 2 that I scored the highest on? The likelihood of him giving me the lowest accumulated score is very slim, right? So, that's what I do. I'm dropping this test quicker than a 4 year old playing hot-potato. I'm done with this thing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Belgium - Day 1

False Start.

I had packed my bags, locked my door, gotten rid of any and all spoilable foods, and now I was headed off to Belgium. After fumbling around for my ticket information at the trainstation (and therein laying all of my stuff out somehow across the floor so that I was now not only taking up 1 electronic stall, but all 3), I got my ticket and headed towards the check-in and swiped myself in.

Beep... and spits it back out.


I turn around to find a rather obscure looking man with what appeared to be large 70's glasses (the really thick ones that take up your entire face) holding my ticket. He speaks plainly. "Sorry, your train has been canceled." "... Seriously?" "Yes sir - seriously."

Apparently there had been a strike in Belgium for those who worked at the train station. Luckily, it ended at 10pm that night (my train got in at 9:00 so it had to be canceled). I stayed calm under pressure rather unlike Harry in this Scene of Home Alone 2 (you remember it), and went right to the ticket counter for the next ticket out to Belgium.


And thus begins my long journey.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,
You died last night. Unfortunately, because of the time difference in London, I wasn’t told until this morning (although I was actually a bad boy and was still up way past my bedtime. Haha). I’m sorry we didn’t spend more time together. That golfing trip you always wanted to do never happened because you got too old and I never had enough time. I’m sorry I seemed to never have enough time. I’m sorry I didn’t listen more. I wish I had known more about your and grandma’s pasts. Your love story. Your dreams. Stories of fun and stupid “guy things” you did in high school and college (I’m sure there were a few).

I wish I had known more of the terrors you went through when you were my age in World War II. You gave your heart and soul for this country, saw close friends die literally right next to you, so that I and the rest of my generation would live in a world not ruled by Nazi tyranny but a world of freedom and hope, for both today and tomorrow.

I hope you know that I had the utmost respect for you because of this reason.

I never talked to you or asked you about this because of the scars I know you undoubtedly had. I pray in death you find healing for those memories, those aches etched into your mind. You didn’t let what happened on the battlefield stop you from living out on the battlefield of life at home. After all that was said and done, you raised a great family, my dad, and instilled in them the values that are now instilled in me.

Thank you Grandpa. For serving selflessly country and family.

I’m sorry you never got to see my wedding. I know you would have loved to. I know you would have loved to meet the beautiful girl I would marry, whoever she is. You would have been proud. You always had nothing but kind and encouraging words for me. You always dreamed I’d grow up to do great things.

And I will.

You loved me enough to even before my birth, before you knew whether I’d be a “good” kid or “bad” kid, to quit smoking so you could be around me more. And when you were around me, ever since my birth, you were always smiling. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I’m always constantly smiling.

I’m sorry you won’t get to hold your first great grandchild in your arms. I’m sure you would have shown just as much affection towards him or her as you had me. And I’m sure he or she would have loved being around you too.

I’m sorry you died the way you did, but I’m glad you died in peace in the end. I don’t believe this is the last time I’ll see you, rather a transition period, as if a friend were leaving for a far distant country and I wouldn’t hear from him again for a long time.

I’ll come visit that foreign country one day with you.

So instead of making this day a day to mourn our loss of you in this world, I’d rather make it a celebration of your life and moving onto the next.

I don’t know the theology of heaven, how it works, what it entails, what the can and can’ts are – hopefully I’ll get a clearer picture in seminary, though even seminary can only attempt to understand heaven by the smallest of means – but I hope you’re looking down on us. And when you look down, at the end of the day, you are proud, of me, of Sarah and Curt, of Kim and Jim, and of Dad and Uncle Jim.

Thank you for your endless support.
Thank you for your infinite encouragement.
Thank you for your genes that gave me such a great mind (and rather bushy eyebrows at that. Haha).
Thank you for defending my unmerited freedom.
Thank you for your unconditional love.

I loved you Grandpa. I will miss you dearly here on this earth in the years ahead.

Your First Grandson,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeboys and Health

So, as some of you may have heard, about a week ago, I was feeling a little under the weather. To set up such events though, I thought I'd inform you of the fun news first:

Saturday I woke up to a bright, shining British sun smiling down on my shining face (the shine of the sun would stay all the weekend long; the shine on the face - not so much).

Why was my face so shiney? (we're talking smilie here, not Teletubby Baby-in-the-Sun Shiney)

I was to see my favorite English-American today: Rohan Hooda!

Rohan was born in the UK, at some point moved down to Florida, attended middle and parts of high school with me, and then shipped himself off to Boston. Suffice to say, he's picked up a little accent from everywhere he's been, so if I think I have it bad, at least I can come home and not be annoyed by my friends about my accent. His American friends always wanted to hear his British accent and his British friends always want to hear his American accent! In the wise words of Charlies Brown: "Gooooooood Grief."

Rohan and I started the day at the Museum of Natural History, where we saw the Dinosaur Exhibit. Unfortunately, because I was so consumed with the game of catch-up that Rohan and I were engaged in, I really do not remember much about the display of Dinosaur Artifacts other than a couple of skeletons, reading about something where Dinosaur head shapes could indicate the male and females of the species, and seeing a giant anamotronic T-Rex that tourists were taking pictures with. While most assuredly smaller than the one shown in "Jurassic Park", I couldn't help but think had the T-Rex actually had the ability to open its mouth and roar, the children who were gaily smiling with it now would no doubt be running faster than a large group of people out of an airport after someone yells the words "Bomb!" (which I've always wanted to see real time at some point. Perhaps "Fire!" at a Movie Theater or something like that. I'd do it myself, but well, there's that whole fines, prosecution, and possible jail-time that keeps me at bay with that idea).

After going through the next exhibit (one on rocks - yes, you read that correctly: rocks), we decided to leave and explore the world around us. We skiddattered over to Hyde Park, where we saw a few war memorials and discussed how 50 years ago, we would be in the war right now, and how scary that notion was to us. 100 years ago I would have been married with kids! I would go further into the ever-changing nature of our society and the role in which young people play, but I feel that I would lose a couple of you quickly with such dry subject matters (though with my A.D.D. writing-style, I'm sure I could find a way to talk about the Garbage of Antartica and keep you all semi-entertained for the first few minutes). We scampered more through Hyde Park, saw some people on skate-board shoes (not roller-blades; they were shoes with side-ways wheels - CRAZY! What will they think of next?!), went to Speakers Corner and found no crazy men preaching about the world's end (unfortunately - though this whole 2012 thing is getting kinda ridiculous and as I find out new facts, it's getting boarderline creepy. For a good laugh at the absurdity of the Apocalypic Movie Industry, watch the new trailer of 2012 if you haven't already:, and then went to the American Embassy (where I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have my passport and Rohan wasn't allowed in because he's Middle Eastern looking... haha. I'm just kidding!... kinda...). We stood outside and chatted for a while by a rather large statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower and discussed the possibility that there might be a very similar statue one day here of one of our classmates, Charles Fiodor Scott Nadd. He's in the army. Remember that face: Look for him to become President of the Free World by the year 2040 or so (that's assuming the world doesn't end in 2012 and Obama hasn't liberated us to a socialist society that is).

We then made the mistake of going to get Middle Eastern food. It was actually pretty good. However, that night I would reap the bounty of what I'd sown into my belly (now truly I can't blame this, but it seems to coincide as the thing I ate right before all of this started to happen. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'll use it as my scapegoat for now, kinda like Steve Bartman with the Cubs chances at World Series history).

After dinner, we saw the Invention of Lying (not worth seeing in my opinion, all of the good parts were spoiled for the most part in the trailers - yeah, i hate those movies, don't you?), and then I went home. I started to feel a little chilly - the open-the-refridgerator-but-it's-okay-because-you-have-clothes-on-and-its-not-that-terribly-cold kind of chilly. However, once I got to my room, it started to get worse. Well, one thing fell to the next and before you know it I had 3 layers on plus my winter jacket, along with my blankets and comforter over me and I was sweating profusely, yet still chilly in the it's-freezing-and-I'm-outside-with-no-clothes-on kind of chilly. So, sick all night Saturday and all day Sunday. But, thanks to some great hallmates, I was provided with home remidy treatments and food and drinks from the grocery store. Yeah - they're nice people. :)

Oh, and I would be nowhere if I didn't thank my mother for those lovely niquil tablets that helped knock me out for much of those 36 hours. Thanks mom!

Anyway, I woke up Monday morning, no more chills, feeling great, able to take a shower for the first time since Saturday Night (even a stronger showering of axe probably couldn't hide my scent), got out, got dressed, perhaps even felt good enough to go to class, went to the bathroom, peed Kool-Aid... hold on... oh, boy, that's not good... (and in case you didn't get the analogy - watch this (I promise, it's not graphic or anything:

To make a long story short, I called up my program advisor, went to a private doctor, who transferred me to a hospital but told me in case I'll need to have tests run. At the hospital, I had an ultrasound, urinary tests, and blood drawn - of which I passed out for because my blood surgar was low because I hadn't eaten anything in the past 2 days... and then they missed so I got 4 different holes poked for blood... I hate needles...).

At best: it's a urinary tract infection.

At worst: it's cancer

(when they said that I jumped a little in my seat).

I got my results two days later: It turned out to just be a urinary tract infection.

Not fun, but hey - at least it's not life and death.

Other things of note this week:
1) I saw Les Mis for the second time while in London (first was with my family). We got late tickets. We had two options for the same price. Backrow in the 2nd balcony or Frontrow in front of the stage.

Was that seriously supposed to be an option?

Les Mis first row seats for approximately $30. Not bad, eh?
2) I still don't know whether I'm taking Global Financial Markets or Behavorial Psychology - it's the 3rd week and Wake still hasn't let me know which class I'm supposed to be dropping.
3) I'm thinking about starting Kung Fu lessons. I'm envisioning someone just asking me a question when I get back home: "So what'd you learn in England Austi-" "Fung Fu."*strikes a pose*

Pick-pockets beware.

So that's what been going on in my life for the past week or so.

Hope your week was a little less eventful than mine.

Continue to pray for my grandfather as he continues to recover from his treatment.

- AustinLostinLondon

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

London Culture, Linear Algebra, and Loads of Food

Alright, haven't written here in a while: Guess its time for another update in the life of AustinLostinLondon.

Things I've noticed about London thus far:

- Their entire population may be wiped out within the next 50 years. I'm not talking about plague, apocalypse, or swine flu. I'm talking about an entire country dying of one thing. Something that is unavoidable to these people, yet at the same time completely and utterly avoidable. It's like your first visit to the In-Laws. You could avoid it, but why try when you know its gotta happen sooner or later? Only these parents are really far away and actually don't want to meet you at all, so you really don't have to go there. London: you don't not have to go there. London - you don't have to get this disease, this plague, this death-bearing curse: London you are in danger of... Lung Cancer.


They haven't apparently figured out cigarettes are terrible for your health, turn your teeth yellow, and make your breath smell like you've stuck your bloody head in a chimney for hours on end. Its kinda like Sex-Panther: you think its a turn on, makes you look cool, but in the end, it really just makes you smell of a mixture of dirty diapers and Indian food.

I'm giving London 50 years.

(for those reading and don't know my humor - I'm kidding... kinda...)

- Mayonaise: it's literally on everything everywhere. Sandwich? Mayo. Chips? Mayo. Toast? Mayo. Children?... Mayoooo....

Beware of the Mayo.

- They're much more reserved. They're very calm. They're very shy. At parties, they'll have a drink, but will hardly dance.

I am not.

Example: My first day in my new dorm.
*in the shower - I hear someone walk into the stall next to me*
Me: Hello!
Him: ... Hi?
Me: How are you today?
Him: ... Good...
Me: ... I'm sorry, but is it impolite to talk to someone in the shower here?
Him ... ummmm... Yes...
Me: Oh, sorry. I'm from America.
Him: Aaaahhhhhhhh....

I apparently live up to the stereotype of loud, outgoing American. It's like mixing Groucho Marx with the Little Boy from the Sixth Sense - it's just not workin'.

- They know more about our politics than we do. Obama is on the cover of so many major news magazines its absurd, and I've received more questions about Obama and his plans for America than I have about American movies, stars, or pop culture, what tends to headline many major news stations in America. Even worse, I've also realized Americans really don't know ANYONE else's leaders either. Do you know who this guy is? Yeah. Gordon Brown. Still don't know? HE'S THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE UK! I'm in the country and I had no idea who he was. I could have done something really stupid in front of the Prime Minister and been completely unaware of the fact. I mean, I could have tripped over my shoes and not known who I had done it in front of. I could have punted a baby and not known who was watching. I could have walked up to the column at a church and... well... that's for another time... point is: America I've realized is very central oriented. Perhaps we should change this?

Other things of note that happened to me this week:

- I showed up to Linear Algebra without my glasses. Luckily for me, the screen was digitial and ALL the way at the top, not to mention I was stuck in the far left corner of the classroom. Yeah. I sat in a 3-hour lecture of Linear Algebra trying to take notes orally. And if you don't think its difficult, you try listening to "And the set v w with v w subsets of V and v w not equal to epsilon is linearly independent unless vector w is equal to theta dot v for some theta subset F" and see if you can write that out.

- I've been cooking myself food. Nonetheless, you would think I would try and culture myself while in England. well... Fish and Chips is about the extent of food culturing so far. List of items I bought at the grocery store today:
- Mac n Cheese
- Pizza
- Granola Bars
- Cheese Sticks
- Honey Nut Cherrios
- Oven Baked Chicken
- Fish and Chips
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Milk
- Apple Juice
- Cookies
... and I'm just realizing now I forgot to buy fruit... or anything remotely healthy for that matter... I'm so coming back to the states malnourished like this kid...

... okay not that bad...

Seriously - give to Africa.

Well, that's all the time I have for now. Until next time!

- AustinLostinLondon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

God can be crafty sometimes.

I'm up late last night, working on various things. Therefore, when I had to get up for my 10am class, I was exhausted. I wanted to get up at 8am so that I could perhaps manage to get a small quiet time in. "Nope. Too tired. Sorry God." I rolled over like a dead animal and slept for another hour.

Rushing around like a dreary-eyed, constipated wiener-dog, my morning looked something like this: shower, getting books together, getting pens together, leaving my room, coming back to my room, getting a map of campus, leaving my room, coming back to my room, looking for my glasses, unable to find my glasses, leave the room again, come back again, get a water, leave the room for the last time.

I briskly speed walk towards my class (like one of those mom's you see in your neighborhood who want to stay in shape but don't want to have to work too hard so they keep their legs stiff and look like there's a catheter in the peter). I took out my class schedule and looked at what had the night before looked like 4 straight hours of classes. And I froze. It felt like time had stopped and someone had smashed my face with a colossal frying pan... I didn't have to go to ALL the hours, but 2 of them... but which two what dates were...

*second smack of colossal frying pan*

... all the classes but my 1:00 didn't start until next week... I felt more sheepish than a 10 year old American stuck on a European nude beach...

*third smack of the face with gargantuan frying pan*

Oh hey. My book is in my bag from last night. What a coincidence! *looks up at sky* I guess I can have that quiet time after all, huh God?... but seriously, did you have to drag me out of bed 3 hours early?? Couldn't you have maybe just done 2?

God always get his way, doesn't He?

- AustinLostinLondon

Hillsong, HTB, and Hobos

Today was a good day (minus the fact that I got as much sleep as if it were a weekday at Wake, I had two exams the next day, and a baby with intense intestinal cramps was sleeping - or lack thereof - next to me). I got up early to head over to church. It's Hillsong's church. For those who don't know what Hillsong is, its a Church in Australia that has a worship band that writes their own worship songs in a very rock sort of way. It's kinda like if Bono decided to retire from the Rock Music world and try to make it big in Worship music (only Bono's lyrics would probably be a little deeper than those of Hillsong - not to diss Hillsong of course, it's just that Bono is similar to that of a modern day Ghandi with a Guitar... maybe I'm stretching it...).

We showed up there 10 minutes early. I hadn't realized that they rented out the seemingly largest west end theater to hold this event... Not bad... There was a giant cross on the big screen, a cool, mellow mood from dimly colored lights, and everyone there seemed to be younger and very nice. The video at the beginning of the service was cool, state-of-the-art, and trendy. Yet, when the worship band came out, I felt like I had been transported from church to a Miley Cyrus concert. The songs I was unfamiliar with, the bright beam lights nearly blinded and blind-sided me, and the strobe light effect nearly sent me into epileptic shock... oh, and there was a young, really attractive girl on stage singing (yeah - i know - i would notice that). I was able to make the most of it, got to know the songs and sang them decently well, but there's just something about lots of lights and jumping up and down in a mosher's fashion that I'm just not comfortable with (thanks Presbyterian you-put-your-hand-in-the-air-you-die church - I kid, I love the Presbyterian church... but seriously, we're the frozen chosen...). Overall, by the end with the sermon and everything, I just didn't feel comfortable and at home. I feel like church is a place you should look enthusiastically forward to each and every week rather than have a sense of listless foreboding (similar to that of the death of Patrick Swayze - seriously, we all knew it was coming... too soon?... hmmmmm... maybe....). I needed more church today - which is exactly what I did that night (Church twice in one day! God forbid! - ironic? TOTALLY!).

To put it into simple terms: Holy Trinity Brompton = a;poijwafe;oiajwf;oajwf;oawjf;oaiwjfe!!!!! Or for you older readers: Holy Trinity Brompton = Groovy. HTB (no, that's not some sexual disease - it's short for Holy Trinity Brompton if that flew over your head) Worship was rock-ish, but not "OMG LET'S BLOW SOMETHING UP!" rock-ish. It was real. It reminded me of Emmaus. The fact that the speaker was able to incorporate a story of something he learned while he was hammered (before his Christian days), a woman was able to stand up in front of the crowd and openly talk about her days of eating disorder and suicidal thoughts prior to getting involved with HTB Church, and the pastor was able to break down Christianity in a deep way for both seeker and established church member, made this church feel like home. Everything was REAL. I think that's what I loved the most. The people, the worship, the atmosphere. It didn't need to play music in the background during prayer, it didn't need a flashy light show, it didn't need an auditorium with great acoustics - all it needed was Jesus. And I believe he was there tonight. On top of everything else, my reading list has three new books courtesy of the HTB Bookstore (this place just keeps racking up the cool points! - kinda like Will Ferrell before he made "Land of the Lost.").

Book List:
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (CHECK!)
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (CHECK!)
Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado (CHECK!)
Desiring God by John Piper
The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (NEW!)
Wild at Heart by John Eldridge (NEW!)
If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg (NEW!)

I was especially intrigued by the last one. My dad recently gave me a two-part sermon series by John Ortberg on fearless giving and how everything we have on this earth is inherently God's. If all that we have in this life in the end goes "back into the box", back into the grave, and doesn't come with us into the afterlife, then why is it so hard for us to give it up? And why should we give it up? It was a great two sermon series that I plan on probably listening to again and taking notes on. Suffice to say, I'm now a fan. But here's his new question: In what ways is the Lord telling you, as he did Peter, "Come"?

Today I saw 8 hobos.

8 men with no home, no money, and only the clothes on their back.

They sit by train stations, bus stations, on the curb, on the sidewalk, on the street, begging for just a little spare change. The problem is we know that inevitably, they'll buy drugs, cigarettes, or boos with the money. Every single time I see one of those men, with a ragged beard, dirty fingernails, tattered wool cap, my heart yearns to help them. My heart aches to get down on my knee and ask them, "Hey... you wanna go and get some food." Just to sit and listen to them. To understand them. To hear their life story. To encourage them. To maybe pray for them. I've wanted to do this for so long, and 8 times I had my chance today.

But it's always "I don't have enough time" or "I'm not in the mood" or "I don't know what he'll say" etc. The fact is though, the #1 thing that stops many Christians, many Americans, from doing such charitable, radical love-giving: is fear. Fear of the unknown. What will happen? How will the man react? Will people stare if you walk in with him? Will he start rambling? Will he make a scene? Will he refuse your offer? Will you be embarrassed? All these swirl in my mind as I slowly look down at the sidewalk and pass by the man who does not know me, does not perhaps know a good meal, and even more importantly does not perhaps know love. Self-less love. Maybe invite him to church. Maybe not. I've learned that I've been ignoring a lot of God's callings to say and do things in my life because they're not the "social norms." There's this idea of a Status Quo (I would que High School Musical but I'm trying to be serious here for a second) - a way in which the world works. Diverting from such can leave you as a social leper. You don't follow the code and sometimes you will not get your way or what you want as easily.

But Jesus wasn't a follower of the Status Quo. He didn't stick to the social norms. He laid his hands on the outcasts, touched them, and gave them life. And if we, as Christians, are supposed to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus, why can't we? Why can't you? And why can't I?

It's about stepping out of out onto the water when God calls us, outside of our comfort bubble, outside of our known territory, and leaving our fear behind, changing the world with one small step at a time, as we move farther away from our heart and move closer towards His. If we can let God live through us, then what is there to fear?

New Goal for England: Take Homeless Guy to a Meal.

Thanks for listening to the rant. A little more serious than usual. I'll be back to the Steve Urkel jokes next time.

Until then!
- AustinLostinLondon