Sunday, September 23, 2012

Korean Dramas: Hallyu or Hallelujah?

 On August 7, 2012 evil June told me to watch a show called City Hunter.

Me: What's that?!
June: It's a Korean drama
Me: With subtitles and stuff?! Nah...
June: Yes, but I hear they're really good!
Me: I'll watch the first 3 episodes of City Hunter if you watch the first 3 episodes of Downton Abbey
June: Deal

At the time, Downton Abbey was my latest obsession. I'd watched the first 2 seasons in a whirlwind, and wanted to share its greatness with June. can't get her to do anything without striking a deal of some sort (this is indicative of some unhealthy flaw in our friendship, but I digress). In any case, it was the beginning of an addiction.

Korean dramas are typically between 16 and 25 episodes, with each episode approximately an hour long. From August 7 to September 21, I've watched the following:
Boys Over Flowers
  1. City Hunter
  2. Boys Over Flowers
  3. Stars Falling from the Sky
  4. IRIS
  5. Secret Garden
  6. King 2 Hearts
  7. Rooftop Prince
So in 40+ days I've spent over 140 hours watching subtitled television exported from South Korea. And loved it! It was like crack to my inner tv junkie. I'm yelling at the TV, shaking my little fist at it; I'm laughing, I'm crying, and I'm telling every person who will hear me about how GREAT Korean dramas are. I find myself saying things like: "The King and Kim Hang Ah's love is real"! I'm like on fire for Korean dramas.

King 2 Hearts
Huh? I'm on fire for Korean drama, the way Christians should be on fire for Christ. The way I consume episodes, is the way I should consume Bible verses. The way I tell everyone they should watch them, is the way I should tell everyone to accept Christ. But wait, why am I down on myself?  I've written 133 blogs, and 90% of them are about the Christian experience. So what then is making me feel weird?

I was crazily off-balance. 

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?... Isaiah 55:2 

Why that scripture? Well, I was feeding myself with what wasn't food, and filling myself up with what didn't satisfy. The more I tried to satisfy my mind and my heart with romcoms and melodramas, the more traumatically unsatisfied I became.

140 hours given to Hallyu; less than 140 hours given to "Hallelujah" in my quiet time, and in the church service, and in studying for my blog writing. I can't live on Hallyu, but I actually can live (eternally) on Hallelujah:

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4

The thing that gives me life: The Word of God...woefully neglected, for like 40+ days.

I spent more time thinking on the good-lookingness of Lee Min Ho* than I did on the goodness of Jesus! Ah!!
So, I had to re-center, re-focus...because it was kind of killing me. I had become so depressed...and it took me a while to realize why. So I had to get back into quiet time. Get back into blogging. Get back into serving. And I already feel better. It can be turned around in a moment!

So is K-drama out of my life? No, no, no. NO. It's just going to be a much smaller part. Goodbye hours upon hours of parroting "kamsamnida" and "Fighting!" back to my screen. It's been real.

I actually might sneak in a "Best of K-drama" blog now and then...but my opinion means little given that there are literally 1000s of these dramas and I've seen 7. That being said:

ROOFTOP PRINCE IS THE BEST! Watch it...right after you read Romans 8!!

What do we allow to steal our focus?

*I got so distracted looking at photos of him. Gotta take every thought captive! LOL

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm Disobedient

This weekend I realized: I'm disobedient.

For the first time in over 3 years, I went to Cedar Point, "The Best Amusement Park in the World". While there, I rode one of my favorite rides: Top Thrill Dragster.

Upon entering the line, I am met with this sign:

Then when you get into the car, this is what you see on the back of every seat:

And then, when you're at the start line you see this:

On top of all that, an announcer is using every opportunity to enumerate these simple rules. So, one has to believe that if you hear and see the rules this many times...they mean it.

But, on roller coasters, I LOVE to have my hands up. I can hear. I can read. But still, I disobeyed. I put my hands up, and then TTD took a turn, or twisted, or did something at "break neck" speeds, and my arms were up so I wasn't braced, and my upper body was just slammed down. Ribs bruised. It was the cost of my disobedience.

The big question is: why did I do it? To enhance the experience.

Being shot up 420 feet at 120mph is simply not enough. Clearly, I have to do something to enhance my experience. The something that I do is disobedience. And it actually took away from my experience. What I didn't realize, but I do now, is that the ride is built for my enjoyment and the safety parameters are set to ensure that I receive optimal enjoyment of the ride.

It's the same thing in your walk with Christ. We're living life with our hands up, trying to enhance the experience. We read about "it" in our quiet time, we get held accountable about "it" in our small group, and we hear "it" preached as if it was meant just for us on Sunday mornings at service, and yet...we do our own thing, because we want our life set on optimal enjoyment. I call it "it" because there is variation among us. Everyone has their own life optimization plan that is somewhat outside of the parameters. Whether you're adding sexual immorality to your life optimization plan, if the love of money/power is part of your optimization plan, or if you just have a mentally-satisfying-but-totally-inappropriate thought life that is part of your optimization plan...believe it's taking away from your experience.

Why/How? Because the ride is built for your enjoyment and the safety parameters are set to ensure that you receive optimal enjoyment of the ride:

"... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Why would Jesus come to give you a full life, if it's really not a full life? This is of course rhetorical. Your life is not full, because you seek to fill it yourself. We're not looking for fulfillment in Christ, because we don't always believe that total fulfillment can be found there. And so while we're busy trying to enhance the experience with disobedience, we find ourselves less and less fulfilled, sometimes even hurt. Ribs bruised. The cost of disobedience. 

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

Obedience leads to happy contentment. Why do we think other roads lead there? Food for thought.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Law of Give and Take

...Or maybe I just love really "put together" people. I had a moment of conviction a few days ago while reading my small group book The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. In general, it's not my favorite book, but occasionally this guy has some legit nuggets of wisdom:

In the real world of relationships it is impossible to love people with a problem or a need without in some sense sharing or even changing places with them. All real life-changing love involves some form of this kind of exchange. It requires very little of you to love a person who is pulled together and happy. Think, however, of emotionally wounded people. There is no way to listen and love people like that and stay completely emotionally intact yourself. - Timothy Keller*

I used to think that "sacrificial love" meant loving people in spite of their crap. Turning the other cheek. Loving people when it hurt your pride to do so. And it totally does! But, the aforementioned quote got me thinking about this:

Giving of yourself vs. Giving up yourself

And this is why I love the bible. I can quote a verse forever, and not realize that I didn't get it. Isn't that crazy? I was writing last year about Lenten sacrifice, and didn't really get the give and take of sacrificial giving.  I often think of sacrifice as a choice. And sometimes it is. We'll give something up for something that we think has greater benefit. But in the quote, sacrifice is a result.

In order for something to be given...something else has to be taken.

And therein lies the rub! I don't want to lose anything as a result of loving people. The only way to ensure this is to either 1) love people only up to a certain point, or 2) only love people who are really put together.

But what happens when that "put together" person falls apart? ...That's why they say in hard times, you "find out who your friends are". The people who stick around, the people who hold your hand, the people who hug you and let you cry it out...they are being your strength because all of yours has run out. And they are doing this at a cost. When you give your strength to someone who has none...strength is leaving you. For real.

How do I know?

The woman with the issue of blood.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 
 Mark 5: 27 - 30

The faith aspect of this is AH-MAZING, and I'll possibly cover it some other time; but the clincher here is that when she touched Jesus, she took power; she took the healing that she needed from Jesus.

So how can I prevent something, that even Jesus couldn't prevent? And even beyond that, how can I live life attempting to circumvent the true nature of love, as laid out by God? What do I mean by that? I'm saying that love results in sacrifice, just like Tim Keller said.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

God loved so much that he gave. Love results in sacrifice. If I love you...I am sacrificed. If I love God...I am sacrificed.

MAN that sucks! It sucks because I want love to be EASY. But there is no easy love. There is no cheap grace.

 Is this what it means when the pastor says to "pour yourself out" for others? Oh. No.

*Keller, Timothy (2008-02-14). The Reason for God (p. 191). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.