What I'm Reading
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Thursday, March 31. 2005
Just a short post for today because I'm currently knee deep in academic papers.
Well, tomorrow night is the big show. Every Pentecostal youth group south of Duncan is headed to my church for a youth rally called The Zone. <shameless plug> It's on at North Douglas Pentecostal Church 675 Jolly Place, Victoria, 7:30pm Friday</shameless plug>. Anyways, as for any big show, there's always a big setup. I'm the sound technician for the night, and setup is always interesting. It's interesting because you get a mix of all this foreign gear and equipment that you're not used to, and they have varying dependability and what not. So, it's always interesting to integrate foreign equipment with the equipment you're used to. Always full of suprises and feedback.
People are always an interesting situation as well. Sometimes you get really nice bands come in that are very appreciative of everything. Other times, you get bands that ask you to fetch them some bottled water when you're juggling a hundred tasks at a time. Grumble grumble. And then you sometimes get random unqualified people from the crowd that decide to give you an involuntary lecture on Sound Technicianing 101, and how things can be done better.
Oh well, such are the occupational hazards of a sound man I guess. Anyways, this is probably the biggest setup I've had to do this year so far. It looks like it's the whole sha-bang, they'll have traffic directors in the parking lot, security guards, the whole nine yards.
Some of my high school friends still ask if I do sound/light stuff, and so to answer since we're on the subject, yes.... that would be a resounding yes. I probably average 80-90 shows a year still? That's a bit lower than my yearly average while in high school.... I'm getting old .
Monday, March 28. 2005
This entry is a continuation of where I left off last time in the article, "Live The Difference Conference - Pt 1". Just a quick intro for those who are just joining us. I went to the Live The Difference Conference last month which was hosted at Colwood Pentecostal Church. It was a conference geared towards Christian youth and young adults. The conference had a mix of general sessions / worship, and workshops throughout the weekend.
Anyways, in this installment, I'm going to talk about a workshop that I attended which was entitled, "The Volunteer Revolution" which was given by Bryn Huzzey. A few people from my youth group wanted to go to this one, but there was another workshop that was equally interesting, so if you missed it, here it is.
The Consumer Christian
The first thing that the speaker talked about was a class of Christians he identifies as the Consumer Christian. These are people who wander around churches with a consumer mentality, they're looking for a bargain. They hop from church to church seeking better services, better worship, and they're looking to be spiritually fed. When they feel like they're not being fed enough at a church, they leave and move on. The problem is that with this mentality, you'll feel less and less satisfied as you never take root in a church and grow. This mentality keeps people shallow as they're only interested in looking for good times. The instant a storm approaches at a church, they disappear.
I'll pause here to put in some remarks. One of the reasons why I think The Oasis (our youth group) is going to succeed is that it has a solid core group. This group of people has decided to stick around in the church all these years, even during the rough times. Let's just say the last five years at church has been rough, at one point the congregration size was down to 30 people a week because a lot of people were leaving. Anyways, the core group has survived the storm. My youth pastor has remarked a few times that he's heard some of our past personal experiences about the church, and he's shocked that some of us has stayed. In my optimistic opinion, the future can't be any worse than the past.
Anyways, back to the workshop, and about Consumer Christians. He went on to say that it's usually the Consumer Christians who complain about things in the church. His next statement was kind of profound, he said, "You've heard the phrase, if you didn't vote, you can't complain about the government. I'm telling you that you can't complain about the church if you're not building it." When you are helping build the church, then you are entitled to your opinion because you can affect change. When you're not building, you're merely a spectator that's heckling.
He then moved on to say that it was important for this generation not to follow the patterns of the Consumer Christian because we are the future church, we are the future leaders. Yet, it is very contradictory to society's selfish norms, as this society is very self-centered, very inwardly focused. A good way to counter this is to volunteer your gifts and plant yourself in the church and help build it up. He said the Great Commission wasn't restricted just to paid church staff members alone, a lot of it rests on volunteers.
Not In Full-Time Ministry != Bad
A misconception that he wanted to clear up is that you're not any less when you're not called into full-time ministry. God can make use of lay people as well.
This statement resonated with me. I remember a former youth pastor asking me to volunteer my entire summer to help him start up some program. I declined because I had summer school (not because I'm dumb, there's no such thing as summer vacation in my university program). Anyways, he put me though this guilt trip saying oh, you're not putting God first, or, oh you can take the summer off. This was not a realistic request, and I didn't feel drawn to that particular ministry that he was trying to start up. He even went as far as saying, oh you can't let your dad pressure you into going to school. That was a low blow. At this point, I lost all respect for him, but it really bugged me. I make my own decisions sir. Anyways, it was nice to hear that you don't have to be in full-time ministry and still be effective.
The speaker illustrated this point very well. He told a story about a man called William Wilberforce. He was a British member of parliament who became an evangelical Christian in 1784. He deeply desired to serve God, and considered becoming a full-time minister or something. However, he felt that God wanted to use him in politics.
William Wilberforce became deeply involved in social issues because of his moral convictions. In particular he felt that slavery in the British empire was wrong, and he pushed a bill to abolish slavery in 1791. The social reality at the time was that the British were getting rich off slaves, so it wasn't going to be abolished any time soon. The bill failed miserably. Year after year, Mr. Wilberforce pushed the bill, but it always failed. However, this sparked discussion within the public about the evils of slavery, and how it was unjust. William Wilberforce died in July 29, 1833, and he never saw his dream come true. However, the very next month after his death, the bill to abolish slavery finally passed in the house. Public opinion had finally changed. Instantly, 800,000 slaves were freed throughout the British empire. They now call William Wilberforce, "The Liberator."
This is an example where a layman, driven by his beliefs in God, ended a chapter of human injustice. Perhaps he wouldn't have been able to affect as many people if he decided to be a minister (a religious minister, not a political minister).
Anyways, it was an inspirational story, and it shows that not everyone has to be a priest to do good works for God. The speaker emphasised that there's a corner of the world where no one can reach except you.
Sunday, March 27. 2005
I found this awesome computer optical illusion on Slashdot the other day:
The monitor isn't infact transparent, it is an optical illusion. You take a picture of whatever's behind your computer, and set that picture as your computer background. Pretty neat stuff in a very geeky kind of way. More of these optical illusions found here.
I'm tempted to try this out at work j/k.
Friday, March 25. 2005
Tonight we had a fairly unique Good Friday service at The Oasis. There were three parts of the service, the worship, the message, and the communion. The communion service was refreshingly different. It wasn't your standard corporate communion where everyone sits in their seats, and waits for the communion bread and juice to come by, and then everyone eats at the same time.
Instead, there were four stations set up at the front of the church. At each station was a Bible opened to a certain passage of reading, and a few inspirational quotes. This I liked a lot as I like quotes very much (see bottom of this webpage if you want proof). In either case, an individual would travel individually from one station to the next (if it was free) until he finished all four. The first station was a station for reflection. It is essentially a place to make peace with God before you took communion. The second station was a reading of the last supper, and what the bread represented. At that station, there were actual loaves of bread which were different (usually we have these wafer things). After reading everything and praying, you ate the bread, and then moved on. The next station was a reading about what the wine represented. Again, after reading and praying, you drank the juice. The last station represented celebration. There you celebrate what Jesus had done for you. In addition, the station had a journal where you could write what God inspired you to write, or to say what God had done for you. In general, each station took about four or five minutes to complete.
The only bottleneck was at the last station with the journal. Some people decided to write novels, while others wrote one-liners. Maybe more journals for next time? Being a geek, maybe an electronic journal like this weblog would be kind of neat. It would allow for concurrency as multiple people could be writing at the same time. In addition, it would allow people to peruse the journal at a later date at a time of convenience. I for one have never actually read the contents of this journal before.
Anyways, communion worked really well. It felt like a mini-pilgrimage or something. I think changing the format of communion while preserving its meaning and content worked well. I have to admit growing up in church, some rituals are done so many times that they lose meaning over time because it becomes this automatic reflex, the mind is on auto-pilot during some of these. However, this format was nice as it felt a lot more intimate and interactive.
During this communion, I was able to participate without worrying about sound levels and what not, because we threw on a DVD of a worship concert featuring Delirious and Hillsong United. This was kind of nice, as the music team and company were able to enjoy this unique experience fully. Meanwhile, everyone else could enjoy the worship music while waiting for communion.
Quite a few people showed up for this event as well...
Thursday, March 24. 2005
So today, I thought it was going to be a fairly slack day. I noticed on the bus didn't have a lot of people on it people probably decided to start their long weekends early. A busy week was finally winding down. I had finished all my readings for my courses, and the night before I gave a fairly good presentation in class about my research. At work, I had finished putting together a website for a demonstration for prospective buyers, so what better way to end a week huh? When I got into work, I even joked that I should have taken today off so that I could enjoy a five day long weekend.
I was happily working on my primary project until my co-worker asked for help in a section of her code. I started debugging it, and ran a few tests on it. Shortly after 11:55am, our server starts slowing down drastically. I do a few checks and oh my goodness, something has drained ALL of our system resources, and the server went down. This was great because my boss was at an all day meeting today. I quickly called our system administrator, and he jumped into action.
12:10pm, my boss comes in because she had a lunch break from her meeting. She asks how things were going. I gave her a wierd smile and a nervous laugh.... uhhh.... the server is down. Shortly after, the server came back up, and the system administrator calls back and says all is fine now. Less than 10 minutes later, the server shuts down again. Same problem, something ate up all the resources on the system. I'm panicking at this point a bit.... are we being hacked? Are we under a denial of service attack?
My boss cancels the rest of her meeting because our system is in trouble. We're able to reboot the server, and if nobody's allowed to log in, the system stays up. The second we throw the switch on to let people use the system again, the thing dies. I put up a page to inform our users that the system is having problems. Then I just remembered....... crap, those potential clients were supposed to be trying out our demonstration website today, and the system is down! Thankfully, my boss told me that the clients had rescheduled for Tuesday anyways.... so it didn't affect them. Phew.
While we were reading through log files for clues, my boss told me to eat lunch as it was already 2:00pm. I told her.... I know the drill.... always eat first before you code. At the first sign of trouble at 12:20pm, I quickly ate my lunch because I knew this was going to be a long day. I'm glad I ate first because it was a long time before things stablized. It's funny, when I got hired for this job, they gave a similar interview question. They asked, it's lunch time, and there's a serious problem with the system and you're hungry.... what do you do? I naively answered, oh I would put all my effort into fixing the system. They then asked, then when would you eat? And I answered, after the system was fixed. They replied, well... what if it took 8 hours to fix? Apparently the correct answer was to eat first, then fix the problem... never code on an empty stomach . So, I had learned my lesson from the interview.
I think we got the system up, and then it crashed about six times. This was getting frustrating because we had no idea what was going on. Our system administrator had reinstalled a bunch of stuff, and still no luck. I came up with the idea of logging what users were sending us because every time users logged into the system, the system would die. So I went on our secondary system and started building a logging tool for our software. I tried to run the logging tool, and it didn't work. Oh, oops, my code wasn't up to date, so I upgraded my code from the main system. I ran my code again, and now the secondary system was showing the same symptons as our downed server. It slowed down, and all the resources were eaten up, and then it froze up.
I had found the link. The code from the main system was killing our secondary server as well. It had to be because when I ran that code, our secondary system went down in the same fashion. I connected the dots and realized that when I was looking at my co-worker's branch of the code, and ran it, that's when the system went down. I was installing the logging tool on the same code that my co-worker had been working on. Now we knew what was causing the system to crash... and it wasn't because we were under attack, phew.
This branch of code she was working on is a part of an experimental bleeding edge branch of our software. It is the next version of our software with tons of improvements and upgrades, but at the same time, very very unstable.
Anyways, now that we figured out what was going on, we brought the system back up at 4:30pm. We stayed an hour later trying to figure out what had changed in the experimental code that caused the system to die. The day before, this experimental code was working perfectly fine.
In either case, people should thank us as we helped start their long weekends early by disabling the system for the entire afternoon. I'm exhausted. But now you know why I don't take vacation days .
Tuesday, March 22. 2005
Yup, you guessed it, the horde was over again today..... grrrr.
In either case, I thought it was time for another article about church. Today's article is based on an awe inspiring prayer that I heard called The Patriot's Prayer. It is a prayer read by Nolan Clark who is a pastor that operates in B.C. Some of you may have heard him before, as he has come to Victoria before for a conference. The prayer is spoken with Braveheart style music in the background which makes it all that much more epic. The whole thing is produced by a web design studio called Red Ant Digital Creativity which is based in Kamloops. I wish I could produce multimedia like they do.
This prayer was inspiring to me because it is a fairly unique prayer. It is essentially a call to arms to Christians in this invisible spiritual war that we are engaged in. The style of this prayer seems to be inspired by Braveheart and The Patriot, both movies that I love dearly. The prayer draws parallels to war which is interesting to me because it is something that I study a lot about. Every generation has its great epic struggle. In either case, whenever I am down or stressed, I put this on to pick me back up.
Download available here. [MP3 File, 10 megs. Right click on link and go save target as.]
Here's a partial transcript of the patriot's prayer:
[We] have made it known to the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, that now is the time that they have chosen to make their stand. Though tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. And what we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly. For it is dearness only that gives everything its value...
At present the spiritual condition of our nation is in decline. A season of spiritual winter. But this present winter is worth an age if rightly employed. But if lost, or neglected, the whole nation will partake of the evil. Let us not sacrifice a season so precious and useful...
Now is the time when heaven is about to inspire, young individuals just like Joan of Arc, who will spirit up our countrymen and save our fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment of the kingdom of darkness. I call not upon a few, but I call upon all, not this church or that church, but every tribe of God, to up and help us. Lay your shoulders to the wheel. Better to have too much force than too little, when so great an object is as stake. Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, where nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the believers across our nation alarmed at the one common danger, came forth to meet it and to repulse it. Don't say there are already thousands of people praying, but let us pray by the tens of thousands, that God would open heaven over our nation...
It is vain, after these things that we may indulge the fond hope of a future move of God that will just some how happen. There is no longer room for hope. If we wish to see spiritual freedom come. If we wish to see the promise of a nation turning to God. If we wish not to basely abandon the nobel struggle for which we've been so long engaged. We must fight. I repeat sir, we must fight. An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us.
They tell us sir, that we are weak. We're unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when will we be stronger? Will it be next week? Or next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed and when darkness has his foothold in every house? Will we gather strength by our irresolution, by our inaction? Will we acquire the means of effective resistence by lying on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, and if we make present use of prayer and the spiritual weapons which our God has placed within our power, the tens of thousands of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, in such a country as that which we possess, we would be invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides sir we fight not our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, to the active, to the brave...
The war is inevitable, but let it come, I repeat sir, let it come...
I think this prayer paints a very vivid picture of the conflict. One of the multimedia ideas I had for this was to accompany this prayer with movie clips from the Lord of the Rings. I can't help picturing a king rallying his soldiers on the even of battle, and at the end, ordering his calvary to charge. The Lord of the Rings definitely has some breathe taking footage of calvary charging against a superior force. This might be a nice multimedia presentation for youth group or something.
Anyways, hopefully someone out there finds this useful.
Monday, March 21. 2005
I'll start this article with a brief rant. Bah, the horde invaded the house yesterday again! That's three days in a row now. I'll talk about the horde on another day.
Anyways, this last week, Teletoon was showing The Animatrix at 10pm every night. It looks like they're re-running The Animatrix again this week at the same time. The Animatrix is a collection of short animated films that is based in The Matrix universe. Each short film was produced by a different animation company. It provides some interesting history about the Matrix, and some other background information. I remember a lot of hype was brewing around The Animatrix as it was released around the same time as The Matrix Reloaded. They chose an interesting way of promoting The Animatrix, they made the first four episodes available on the Internet for free. (Click on the link to find the free episodes, viewer discretion advised for kids.)
I'm going to do a short review of each individual episode of The Animatrix, as they're all stand alone short movies. Don't worry, the review is spoiler free.
Continue reading "A Review of The Animatrix"
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"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."
--J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), English Writer
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