31 January 2012

An Analogy

From the first chapter of the book, How to Think about Algorithms,
Using an iterative algorithm to solve a computational problem is a bit like following a road, possibly long and difficult, from your start location to your destination. With each iteration, you have a method that takes you a single step closer. To ensure that you move forward, you need to have a measure of progress telling you how far you are either from your starting location or from your destination. You cannot expect to know exactly where the algorithm will go, so you need to expect some weaving and winding. On the other hand, you do not want to have to know how to handle every ditch and dead end in the world. A compromise between these two is to have a loop invariant, which defines a road (or region) that you may not leave. As you travel, worry about one step at a time. You must know how to get onto the road from any location. From every place along the road, you must know what actions you will take in order to step forward while not leaving the road. Finally, when sufficient progress has been made along the road, you must know how to exit and reach your destination in a reasonable amount of time.
Our iterative algorithm is the basis for the decisions we make when backed into a corner. Sometimes, we can find strength in our rational minds to make a wise decision—but it is not often. Often, what happens is that we fall into our habits. We act out of character. It is then that integrity matters. When the fire heats up and the pressure is on, our true selves are revealed. The inner workings of our own personal algorithms come out.

Our measure of progress is the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is how we know that we are getting nearer to our goal. That we haven't strayed or walked in the wrong direction. This is how we know that our faith is really working. That faith isn't a mere abstraction or philosophic orientation, but a real, transformative power in our lives.

Our loop invariant is God's Word. It is how we stay grounded. How we know that we aren't merely rationalizing our actions or making decisions because of desire. God's Word is a mirror—it tells us who we really are. You cannot read the Word seriously and effectively without your understanding of yourself and the world surrounding you being transformed by its mere touch, by its penetrating gaze. God's Word remains steadfast and stable amidst all of the challenges and circumstances that we might come to face. And we can always turn to Him when we feel lost and alone because He is always there for us, to guide us and lead us home.

30 January 2012

1 Peter 4:12-13,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
And yet, somehow, I am always surprised.

When falling,

It becomes clear what you value most. You will cling to it. You won't let it go. I remember hearing once, don't know if this is apocrypha or not, that the passenger side of a car is most often impacted in an accident because drivers instinctively swerve away from an oncoming collision, thinking only of protecting themselves and actually using others as a shield from the damage. After hearing this, I thought to myself that I would try really hard to put myself in harm's way for the sake of others. But then I had to consider a situation, which I think would make the application of this resolution even more difficult, what if my car is empty but me? Still, I think it is better to think of the other who is not there, than not to think of others at all, right?

Coming down.

How could you not feel when listening to this song? The sorrow? The sadness? The passion of something loved but lost? A fading, forlorn hope?

29 January 2012

Yes, please. Trying.

“Therefore we must not overinvest ourselves in anything besides the kingdom. Though we have possessions, we should live as if they weren’t really ours, for our real wealth is in God.”

— Tim Keller

25 January 2012

I am self destructive.

Like Dr. House. A ticking time bomb that wants anything but to go out with a whimper. But then there is Christ. He says, yes, come and die. Only then will you live. And suddenly, life has meaning again.

24 January 2012

"We glorify what we enjoy the most...

...and it isn't God.

Therefore sin is not small because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universes is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason."

— For Your Joy, John Piper

23 January 2012

21 January 2012

Judges 16

D: Why aren't you shaving?
S: To remind myself that I am on a mission and that I don't have time to waste with inconsequential things.
D: Like shaving?
S: No, like wondering why girls don't like me and what I can do to fix that.

18 January 2012

The Scientist

I used to think that no one around me could die. That somehow, I was the special thing that kept people alive. I'd hear stories, but I had never met these people. Then, one fateful day in late elementary school, someone I knew of had died. I met them. But I never touched them. So I rationalized, it must be my touch. That must be the special key. And then, years later, another died. Someone who I had touched. And another, and another. And I realized, I am not very special at all—or, if I am, not very good at it. That either death was upon us all, or I was a great disappointment.

Death is scary, folks. But, somehow, there is Life.
Breathe it in
And let it go
Every breath you take is not yours to own
It's not yours to hold
Do you love me enough to let me go? 

8 Months (Or Until I Get to California)

That's how long I'm fasting shaving my beard.

I've been journaling lately. It might seem like I haven't been writing anything of substance these days, but I have. It's just become more personal, and it's all been going into my prayer journal. Maybe, if I find the time, I'll come back and update this blog. I have a few stories I'd like to tell. One of them about my mother's love for me and how it is shown by her sacrifice in the little things. Another about how my blog posts about Jesus are like two playing cards propping each other up. How they are a flimsy construction, but when viewed at a certain angle—and the angle here is key—come to be a representation or image of something beautiful. Another, a story about how most people don't really believe what they say they do, but that there's still hope out there somewhere. And lastly, about my grandma who has stage IV cancer and is going to die. How I love her, and have prayed for her, and pray for her still. And how she is a Christian, that they're aren't many in my family, how her courage inspires me, and how her service humbles me. She is a faithful, praying woman of God, and I really don't want her to go. I wish I could spend more time with her, but I'm here in New York, and she is in California. And that thought, sometimes, tortures me.

10 January 2012

The Other Side

It is the most funny feeling. To have nostalgia about constructed memories. To be dreaming and feel a sense of loss for the things that never were. I have this whole other world on the other side of waking. When I dream. It's this self-contrived universe, full of its own mythology and history and workings. When I enter it, it feels familiar. It all comes rushing back to me. I remember things that happened in dreams before. Vague recollections of a distant past. And I get that fuzzy feeling. A sense of heartache. A sense of loss. But these things never were. They never happened. That's what's funny. It feels so real. So real. And sometimes, I wish it were. The good and the bad. I wish it were.

08 January 2012

07 January 2012

No prob, Bob.

I overheard an older man once, while sitting outside of PC East, speaking with a woman around his age. He talked about what was wrong with this day and age, how all of us college students weren't prepared for the real world, couldn't grapple with untidy ethical dilemmas. Then he mentioned something—the one thing about his conversation that really stuck with me—he mentioned that he couldn't stand how young people our age have replaced the formal you're welcome with the casual no problem. He said it insinuated something. That the deed done really was no problem, and because it had no cost, was neither worth doing nor needing gratitude. A thank you he said should always be followed by a you're welcome.

To this day I still say no problem, but perhaps I should give up this pretense of false modesty and change my ways. Old man, wherever you are, you're welcome.

The Romcom

B: Faith isn't about getting what you want. It's about doing what you think is right.
G: And you think this is right?
B: I like you and I don't think it's right to give up without giving you my all.