Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm not sure what words to use to reflect on Ann Goldingay's passing and on the impact that she and John had, or the example that they were, so I'll just let Liz write.

Here's the first paragraph (clicking here will take you to the full blog entry):
john goldingay, aside from being a world-renowned old testament scholar, is well-known at fuller for being a beautiful human being. his wife ann has been wheelchair-bound for 12 years, and more recently mute and unable to communicate. as she has deteriorated, he has cared for her unfailingly. taken her to concerts. brought her to chapel every week. taught only at night, so he can care for her during the day. and so on. any woman could only hope to marry someone as unfailingly committed as dr. goldingay.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours, John.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Our God Reigns"

In the midst of a world that often doesn't make sense ...

Our God Reigns

40 million babies lost to Gods great orphanage,
It’s a modern day genocide and a modern day disgrace
If this is a human right then why aren’t we free?
The only freedom we have is in a man nailed to a tree.

100 million faces, staring at the sky,
Wondering if this HIV will ever pass us by.
The devil stole the rain and hope trickles down the plug,
But still my Chinese take away could pay for someone’s drugs.

Our God reigns, Our God reigns,
Forever your kingdom reigns.

The West has found a gun and it’s loaded with ‘unsure’
Nip and tuck if you have the bucks in a race to find a cure.
Psalm one hundred and thirty nine is the conscience to our selfish crime,
God didn’t screw up when he made you,
He’s a father who loves to parade you.

Yes he reigns, yes you reign, yes you reign,
For there is only one true God,
But we’ve lost the reins on this world,
Forgive us all, forgive us please,
As we fight for this broken world on our knees.
Written by Delirious? ©2005 Curious? Music UK

Monday, June 22, 2009

A joyful God

G.K. Chesterton:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
quoted in John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, 61.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

A salute to my favorite dad:

My second birthday, 1984.

My eleventh birthday, 1993.

Christmas 2001.

My graduation from Fuller, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2009

See you soon?

It's a fairly surreal experience saying goodbye to your parents, and not knowing when you'll see them again.

Love you guys.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thoughts on success

My twelve year-old niece Aimee emailed me recently. She has to do a presentation in class on someone who's successful. So I was a little bit surprised and very honored that she chose me! In fact, one of the first questions was, "What is your most successful achievement?" And that had me stumped.

I'm not really sure what my most successful achievement would be. Maybe the fact that I moved half the world away from my family when I was 15, but then lots of people move and adjust to new environments nowadays. Maybe the fact that I'm a musician with his own music video? But then, there are millions of better known and more talented and more published artists. Maybe the fact that I've collected four degrees in nine years of higher education? Then again, I certainly wasn't a child prodigy, and I'm certainly not the smartest person in the world!

Thinking about it more, I think my most successful achievement is figuring out what success really is, realizing that success isn't necessarily about beating everyone in a competition or in a race, or about getting better grades than everyone else.

Success is being a good human being, a good person. Success is loving God, loving your neighbors, and loving your enemies. Success is figuring out who you are, figuring out what you're good at, and being the best that you can be—the best that God created you to be—and knowing that that is enough, and that that is all that God asks of you. Success is helping those in need, speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves, protecting the weak and the marginalized. Success is showing patience, kindness, grace, humility, mercy, joy, faithfulness, and love in all of our relationships. Success is being faithful and hopeful and loving in spite of all the challenges that the world and life throw at us.

In the process of learning, I've had many experiences that have made me question myself, my abilities, my talents, even my worth as a person. I've suffered disappointments in my work, felt unable to produce anything good—both in terms of music and in life in general—and known heartbreak and letdowns in relationships.

We live in a culture that measures success by comparing us to other people, and so one of the big challenges for me was realizing (and continually reminding myself) that I don't need to compare myself to other people. All I need to do is the best that I can do; all I need to be is the best that I can be.

And ultimately … any success I may have is only by the grace of God. I suppose the way that I try to live out this kind of success is to be first grounded in God, to know what he says about me, to know that he loves me no matter what, to know that my family and my friends love me no matter what. There's a freedom that comes with being secure in friendships and relationships, that allows us to be and do all that we can be and do.

So that's been my success: understanding success as I think God sees it, and then living in the light and truth of that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Speaking at Commencement

Here's the video and transcript from my little speech at Commencement last Saturday:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps. 82:3-4). “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24). Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, visit those in prison, for “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:31-46). For all humanity is made in the image of God—male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).

These verses have come to mean a lot to me. You see, it was during my time at Fuller that God lit a fire in me—a passion, a vision, a calling to do justice, to see justice done. I began my time at Fuller in Fall 2006 in the Master of Divinity program, thinking that I would follow in the footsteps of my two brothers and go into fulltime pastoral ministry. But in the years since, through the classes I took, through the friends I made, and through the conversations and encounters I had, God tweaked that a little. And so, about a year and a half through, I switched to the dual MA in Theology and Cross-Cultural Studies, realizing that while I maintain a love for and interest in seeing the church impassioned and empowered to do justice, I also have a calling to see this justice done outside the church, to work in conjunction with non-Christians as well as Christians toward seeing the kingdom of God here on earth.

It was at Fuller that I began to ask questions like, what does this justice look like when over 45 million people in the United States alone are without health insurance? What does this justice look like when there are twenty-seven million slaves around the world today in bonded labor or in forced prostitution? What does this justice look like when there are still a billion people in the world living in extreme poverty? What does this justice look like?

This fall, I’ll be moving to Washington, DC to begin a year-long internship with the social justice organization Sojourners. It’s an opportunity rich with potential and promise, and I’m excited to see the things I’ve learned here at Fuller worked out in practice and in policy. To work out what biblical justice—God’s justice—looks like, and to see it done. To work out what it looks like to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. To be a voice for the voiceless, an advocate for and a friend to those whom Jesus called the least of these. Because as the prophet Micah reminds us, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I’m sad to leave Fuller, but I’m excited because while the challenges to seeing this justice done are great, God is already at work in our world, doing what he does. And me? I’m with him.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Being at seminary can tend to lend itself to a certain cynicism, fueled by intellectual detachment from the realities of life, a dispassion built upon having to dissect, critique and deconstruct everything. Combined with an enervation resulting from trying to balance too many hours of school, too many hours of work, and too many other things, this world-weariness can often manifest itself in negativity or pessimism (apologists might prefer to call this “realism”). Living in the West in the 21st century, bombarded as we are with millions of images, words, sounds, and messages, it is similarly easy to develop a tough exterior of ennui in order to protect oneself. Unfortunately, in trying to shut out the bad, the negative, or simply trying to defend against the deluge, we can also shut out appreciation of the good, the joyful, and the uplifting.

The song “Beautiful” was birthed one sunny London day in the summer of 2006. I provide this background since it directly impacted the writing of the song. As you may know, sunny days in England are a dime a dozen, so my appreciation of this meteorological phenomenon was particularly heightened. My aim in beginning to write this song was to respond to this reminder of the grace and beauty of God’s creation. And my aim in choosing to rework it for class (Theology & Culture with Barry Taylor) was to combat both the overwhelming cynicism of the surrounding culture and my own tendency towards disinterestedness and dispassion as a tired, final-year seminarian.

I don’t like to be overly prescriptive with the meaning or interpretation of the words of the songs I write. I like making room in my songs for some ambiguity in order that they may mean different things to different people at different times (though I wouldn’t advocate this approach for congregational worship songs). Even for myself, I have found occasion to appreciate this song at different times and in different contexts. All that I will say about the words of the song is that, in writing them, in using the words I did, I was hoping to encourage the listener to open him- or herself up to the beauty, the grace, the God in life.

For the video itself, I turned for inspiration to other songs and music videos that I had found uplifting and inspiring, in particular, Lifehouse’s “Spin” and U2’s “Beautiful Day”, two songs that similarly extolled the beauty in life. In both, there is a sense of winsomeness, a sense of both holding on to life lightly enough and yet being grounded deeply enough that we can appreciate the good in the face of the hard.

To that end, I settled on filming scenes from life, and especially those moments that remind me that life is beautiful. Obviously, as this is my engagement with and response to culture, the moments which are displayed demonstrate some of the things that I find uplifting: two people in love, a family at play, enjoying the company of friends over coffee and basketball, digging into a good book, and being able to express oneself creatively with the gifts God has bestowed. I interspersed this with shots of landscape, of city, and of beach—all of which are part of my life in California, and in all of which I am particularly able to see God’s fingerprints. Others might (and probably would) frame things differently, or show different moments.

My three years at Fuller were simultaneously the toughest and the best of my twenty-seven years, and one of the reasons for the latter was that I was able to seek and find God in it all. Even in the hardest of times, he was revealing himself and the traces of his grace were evident if I would only look and see. Even though I might not have understood what was going on with my life or my future or whatever I may have been struggling with at the time, even though I might not have been able to comprehend why certain things were happening or not happening, I was fortunate to be able to recognize (or perhaps the Spirit was insistent enough to remind me) that God was still there, that beauty and grace and love were still there. Thus, what began as a simple appreciation of and expression of gratitude for a beautiful day became a metaphor and analogy for life, and for the oftentimes-inexplicable movement and work of God.
Feel the sunlight on your skin
Take a deep breath, take it in
Oh my, what a beautiful day
See the clouds swim in the sky
Close your eyes and let it take you high
What a beautiful day

Though you don’t understand
And this grace you can’t comprehend
You know it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day

This is beauty, can’t look away
And your tears, they fall and fade away
On this beautiful day
Reach out, darling, heaven’s here
It’s all around, it’s coming near
Oh my, it’s a beautiful day

Though you don’t understand
And this grace you can’t comprehend
You know it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day

Flood the senses
Overwhelm your defenses
Let love teach you how to love again

A time for life, a time for death
A time to run, a time to catch your breath
On this beautiful day
A time to hurt, a time to heal
A time to hold your tears, a time to feel
On this beautiful day

Though you don’t understand
And this grace you can’t comprehend
You know it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I think love is a bit of heaven

Of all the words I've ever read in all of the books I've ever read, this remains one of my favorite passages:

I think love is a bit of heaven. When I was in love I thought about that girl so much I felt like I was going to die and it was beautiful, and she loved me, too, or at least she said she did, and we were not about ourselves, we were about each other, and that is what I mean when I say being in love is a bit of heaven. When I was in love I hardly thought of myself; I thought of her and how beautiful she looked and whether or not she was cold and how I could make her laugh. It was wonderful because I forgot my problems. I owned her problems instead, and her problems seemed romantic and beautiful. When I was in love there was somebody in the world who was more important than me, and that, given all that happened at the fall of humanity, is a miracle, like something God forgot to curse.

Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 151.