I’m Thankful I Exist

Hello everyone. You all know I usually take a break from any regular series when I have a friend who has a birthday. So tonight, I’m going to take a break. However, the person who has the birthday is not a friend but is rather myself. I am celebrating today that X number of years ago I came into the world. I think about my old age and realize I can never say that about myself again. I have to use the new number now. I look back and think about all I’ve gone through over the years and that God has granted me the gift of existence.

This was what I spoke about at our church tonight, as we have Saturday night services in addition to our Sunday morning services. So, I did a message on what it means to exist. What is this great gift of existence? Frankly, I don’t think I can give a total answer yet. Existence is a wonderful gift, but something we don’t really know much about.

Consider a point of a pen or pencil for instance. That was how big you once were. Now where have you come to? How much you have changed! You were once that and now you are what you are. Throughout the years, God has shaped you and you’ve become the person that you are today.

Consider then also how much exists that you take for granted. I am a great might not have been. So are you. Anyone of us could not have been and if we had not been, none of us would ever realize that the other didn’t exist. We would have  no concept of that person to miss. That any person exists in our life can be seen as a gift to us. Even a person we don’t like can be seen as a gift as maybe they can even show us the kind of person we don’t want to be.

Who are your friends? Who are your family? Do you take them for granted? I had friends over this evening and I realize that I had no guarantee when they said they were on the way over with a gift that that would mean they would reach me. Now I believed they would, but could I know that? Not at all. I am thankful they did and it teaches me that I shouldn’t take their being here for granted.

I also realize as a Christian that my existence will go on into the future. After I die, I will still exist somehow. This is true for all of us. We will spend forever somewhere. Our existence will not go away. Once he gives us this gift, he doesn’t take it away. It is up to us how we will spend eternity.

As for me, I would prefer to spend it in the blessed presence of the existent one. As we finish thinking about existence, let us remember that he is the one who is. He has described himself as “I AM.” Maybe we should realize that since that’s how he’s described himself, maybe he knows what he’s talking about. It might sound like a stretch, but it could be we need to listen to what God says about himself.

To all of those who wished me a happy birthday, I thank you greatly. Here’s to another year!

To My Friends

Hello everyone! I’m back! I had a marvelous vacation where I was and so tonight, I would like to send a shout to all my friends through the blog and give some thoughts on friendship. It was marvelous getting to see some old friends again and some new friends for the very first time and ponder how much had changed.

Friends are a unique gift as I’ve said. If you’re with your family, you are with people that love you usually because you were born in that position. I realize not all families are this way. There are some families that don’t have love between certain members.  Friends are people who always love you by choice. You are not forced to be someone’s friend. You can be encouraged to be a friend, but it is always a choice on the other person’s part to include you in the circle of friends.

Many of my friends have been with me through a lot and seen the changes that I’ve made in my life. I particularly think of when we got to the testimony time. The things I said I found hard to say even though they were things that were known. I will admit I was very cold in the room that I said them and I was extremely tired at the time, but I wonder if it was just also something so emotional that I found myself breaking up in what I said, and this is someone who has been said to be skilled as a public speaker.

There were memories that were made there that will last a lifetime. I think of the gift exchange also. All of the comments that were made with everyone in the white elephant game wanting everyone else to steal their gift. (I encourage readers to look up the white elephant game if they want the details and want to know about “stealing gifts.”)

I think about having us sit around the breakfast table sharing in the morning, and our group is one I feel comfortable around. I enjoyed our talk on the topic of the cults and getting to go to the arcade. I know one of you at least has a picture of me rocking out on the Guitar Hero game. (What all serious apologists do in arcades.) All of the inside jokes made for a unique ocassion.

I think it was Chesterton who once said that each of us is a great “might-not-have been.” For all of us, there was a possibility that we would not be. Now if we were not, none of us would ever notice that the other were not. We don’t say “Wow. It would be nice if Bob had ever existed.” We have no idea of Bob if he never existed.

We can say that for most everything. When we are with friends, let us consider that they might not have been as well. Each person in your life then that you know and celebrate is a blessing of God for you. There was a chance they would never have been and it’s important to take the time to consider that they are. It is a shame that we in the church don’t take the time to be amazed that things exist, including friends.

So to each of you I was with, I am thankful that you exist. One of the gifts I got at the conference was a wooden item that said “friends” and had barnyard animals on the top. Why did I get it? Because I believe it. Friends are important and I wanted a reminder everyday about the friends that I have in my life.

To my friends then, I salute you, and am thankful that you are not “might-have-beens.”

Happy Birthday!

I’m stepping away from the Trinity study tonight to do a tribute like I often do on birthdays. Also readers, I will be away on vacation tomorrow and won’t be back until Sunday evening. Will there be blogs there? I don’t know. If nothing comes up, don’t panic. I’m alright. I’m just away.

Tonight, I make a tribute to my best friend I’ve got in this world. That would be my roommate. We chose this path together to continue our studies and it’s been nearly two years and I’ve found you to be a friend through thick and thin.

I remember the time that our neighbors were giving me problems where they were parking way too close to my car just because they thought I was parking in “their spot.” I would have to get in on the passenger side just to get in, nothing easy with my back. What do I find that Saturday morning when I wake up? It’s early in the morning and although you like to sleep in, you’re outside in the parking lot taking pictures.

We’ve already been on numerous adventures such as the drive up north to meet some friends. Tomorrow, we’ll be going south to meet others. We’ve driven to the beach and we’ve been to conferences together as well as seen numerous debates.

I am constantly amazed that you put up with all my bizarre idiosyncracies yet in the end, I find you’re by my side and I really don’t believe I could do most of the things that I’m doing in this town without having a friend like you by my side. It is something that brings stability in a world that is usually experienced in chaos.

I often think of how this started because you contacted me in what was seemingly an out of the blue manner one day. I didn’t know you from Adam and now look where we’ve come to. All because of that one approach, I now find that I have a true friend. Wherever the path leads from now, I see the friendship over time growing deeper and stronger.

Aristotle spoke more of friendship than of any other virtue and what a value it was to have true friends. I believe he was right. I smiled recently when I read some of his Nicomachean ethics and how he said that friendship reaches its highest level in living together. It is then that you truly seek to bring your friend into your life as much as possible and give them the highest trust that can be given between humans aside from a marriage covenant.

Friends are different from family. We sense that we have an obligation often to love our family. Most people that we do love as family are people that we probably wouldn’t form a bond with if they weren’t family. Friendship is different. No one is forced to be a friend with another. Friendship is instead chosen.

Friendship often begins with a common bond that the two friends have in common. For us, it was interest. We both love apologetics and we both love the Final Fantasy series.  If you come in here and you see me playing the After Years, I know we can immediately have a conversation. While I don’t really understand much of what goes on in Final Fantasy XI, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the conversations about it, and I do.

This also makes me ponder friendship in eternity. What does Heaven do with friendships? It certainly doesn’t destroy them. It instead perfects them. It makes them be what they were meant to be all along. While we do work to build each other towards sanctification, we still fall short here. I wonder what it will be like in Heaven when we dwell as perfected human beings. What will our friendship be then? It is fascinating.

I’m pondering now how you were surprised for your birthday, but you knew something was coming still. It was just where and when. It’s this knowledge that we know our friends won’t forget the important events of our lives. We know that about them. It’s a unique event as friends seek to celebrate one another.

That’s what a birthday is ultimately. It’s a chance for others to celebrate that that person really exists and for a person to marvel the gift of their own existence on their own birthday. Each person who celebrates the birthday of another is saying “I am happy that you are a part of this world.” However, we do not just mean this world but rather our world. That somehow our paths got crossed.

Tomorrow, we begin an adventure together, but as I ponder it, it is true that everyday is an adventure. Friendship is a never-ending story that continues on into eternity. Each day is just writing another chapter of that story.

I think now of something a friend told me who loves the Lord of the Rings. It is of how Frodo and Sam see the end of their journey and wonder what tales will be told about them. Frodo plays the part of one of their children and says “You left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the Brave – I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.” Sam sees him as mocking and says that he was being serious about the stories. Frodo says he was serious about his own comment as well.

This is friendship. Friends can do well on their own, but when they come together, both are for the better. There is no one first and then the other. Friends fight side by side. Happy birthday my friend, and thank you for being by my side.

All Things New

I work all day today and our pastor has invited the church over to his house tonight for a New Year’s Eve party. Seeing as I have no desire to get home after midnight and write a blog before I go to bed, I have decided to write a New Year’s Eve blog early.

As I start writing this blog, it occurs to me that this is the first full year I have spent in my new home. Now I’ve lived here for over a year, but 2008 will be the year I lived here start to finish. It will also indicate the year I really began taking classes in Seminary. Should all have gone well with my last class, which I anticipate, I should have 15 hours of classes done and be well on my way to graduation. This year also marks finally escaping my old job and getting a new position that I enjoy much much more.

There is this aspect of new beginnings that makes us want to try our hardest and begin anew as well. Many people will make New Year’s Resolutions. Exercise equipment will be bought that come February, will be gathering dust in a basement while the owner sits on the couch eating oreos watching Prime Time television.

Yes. Discipline is a hard thing for many of us.

I recently had this conversation with a friend and told him that if he wants to change his life, the time to do it is now. Discipline isn’t easy, but you have to do it. I have begun to turn off my computer much earlier in the day and just sit on the couch at night and read. Sometimes, I don’t really want to do it, but when I start, I find out that I am enjoying myself.

What the new year will be for each of us is up to us. I reckon though that most of us don’t want to go through life and have each year be essentially the same as the last. We’d like to say that this year, we really accomplished something. The only way that we’re going to be able to do that is simply by doing it. We must go out and accomplish something that we deem worthwhile.

Maybe for you it might be learning to exercise some. Maybe you’ve got extra weight you want to burn off. Maybe you want to learn to study more and go back to school. Maybe you were in school and you want to go back and finish getting that degree. Maybe this is the year the young man decides that he’s finally going to pop the question to the girl that he’s been dating for a long time. Maybe this is the year you’re going to begin to take your Christian walk seriously through prayer and Bible study.

I read Rev. 21 this morning and I plan on reading 22 tonight. I think these chapters are appropriate for a new year. It shows the end of the old and the beginning of the new. It means a chance to celebrate the newness. Now I’m not giving an interpretation of Revelation that is cyclic in that way. I do believe there is a final consumation of things coming. However, the words “I am making all things new!” brings a joy to us.

I hope to watch that ball come down, which is something I’ve always enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, and realize that this is a new year ahead that can be a year of exciting adventures and ways to make a difference in this world. What about you? Are you going to change something this year, or will it just be same-old, same-old?

Thoughts Heading Home From Christmas

I mentioned last night in the blog that my family and I were watching Monk. Now my mother and my roommate and I were downstairs when the latest new one that was a Christmas episode also came on called “Mr. Monk and the Miracle.” My mother saw it and said “Oh! I remember this one this is the one where…” and she proceeded to tell a little bit about what happened.

I smiled and told her it was also one my roommate had never seen before.

We didn’t get to see the whole episode as we had to go pick up my grandmother, but I did end up on the way back home that day telling him what happened seeing as he had had his curiosity piqued. I thought about that later though and thought “I am thankful the greatest author of all leaves a lot of the plot open without telling us everything that’s going on.”

Sometimes, we all wish he would, but he’s a good author. I’m thankful he doesn’t.

On the way back, my roommate and I were both exhausted and I was doing the driving. Now we’d had a close call on the way there. We’d had to take an area of at the most I’d say 200 feet at a traffic light and cross two lanes suddenly to get to a turn-off. Downtown traffic in a major city is murder. It doesn’t help that I can’t really turn my head and I needed him to be my eyes for me.

On the way back, he fell asleep some of the way and I thought about that. I thought that he was calm enough and trusting enough with me that he could rest easily even though I, the best driver in the world, was not driving. Then I thought back on myself and wondered, “How often do I sometimes stay up at night or wake up at night because I’m worried about something in my life?”

It made me ponder that if only I could trust God as much as my roommate was trusting me then. Now I think I’m a pretty trustworthy guy, but I can assure you of this. I have far more reason to trust in God than my roommate could ever have to trust in my ability or in me in any way. I took that as an object lesson to work on recognizing that I need to trust God more and relax in him and believe that he is looking out for me.

One part of our journey was through the mountains and as we got to them, I thought about what a wonder it was. Somehow, sights like those dwarf us automatically. Yet I considered first off the biblical statement of how if you believe and pray a mountain be cast into the sea, it will be done for you.

Now I’m not going Word of Faith nonsense here. I don’t believe the mountain is literally supposed to do that, but I think the Lord was getting at how the greatest things that dwarf us so much are nothing compared to the power of God and if we trust in God, then he will take care of them. 

A mountain is an apropos example. It’s something great and majestic and you imagine what it would be like if you could get a mountain to be hurled into the sea. You would think that nothing would be impossible for you. Could it be Christ is trying to tell us that all things are possible with God so trust him in prayer?

The second thought was of how the medievals said that one man is worth more than the entire universe. I believe they were right, but you look at the mountains and you feel so dwarfed and then realize that God considers you worth much more than them.

I also watched as we left late in the afternoon to see the sky turn from blue to black as day became night. It’s an odd thing as you notice it happening, but at the same time, you don’t. You just look up and realize that it’s darker than before as the Earth is making its turn. Then you realize that it’s night.

I’ve been told that if you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump out immediately. However, if you put it in water and gradually boil it, you can cook the frog alive and until it’s too late, it won’t realize what is happening to it.

I thought if the church was like that also. I’m quite sure we are. We’ve had our moment in the sun so much that the world gradually grew darker and darker and we didn’t really pay attention and we’ve suddenly woken up and it’s night all around us. It’s a shame we haven’t paid attention. Is it too late for the church in America? My advice is to act like it isn’t.

Towards the end of the journey, I was counting on my roommate to provide the directions. He’s got an IPhone and if you don’t know, those have GPS capabilities. Well, I’m a control-freak in some ways I think. When I’m on the road, I like to know exactly what the next exit I’m supposed to go to is and how far away it is so I can start looking and calculating the distance and how long it’ll be. 

My roommate does not give such information, which I think is for the best for me and it taught me a lot about trust.

I had to trust him the whole way but as I thought about it, he had to trust me also. He was giving the directions, but I was the one behind the wheel and we had to rely on each other, which I think is a good definition of friendship as well. What benefit would it be for him to give me the wrong directions and how would it benefit me if I was to drive haphazardly? Of course, that doesn’t mean we each did it for our own benefit. Sharing a mutual goal, we both had to work together and that is also in friendship. I believe Aristotle said that one thing friends do is help each other on the path to becoming more virtuous.

As I got home that Christmas, I had a lot to think about. I had to think about God in ways that you can only realize I believe with the help of others. What does it mean to trust? What does it mean to be trusted? What does it mean to rely on your friends? What can be done to make a difference for the church?

I have much to think about, and I hope you have much to think about as well.

Thoughts on Christmas

I’m back home and I plan on writing on the thoughts that I had on the way home probably tomorrow. For now, I hope my loyal readers didn’t mind the absence of a blog yesterday, but I knew my family was wanting to see me and I wanted to go on and get home.

I’d like to write tonight on how Christmas has changed over the years for me and maybe some of you are in the same boat. I remember being younger and getting to bed at an early time on Christmas Eve night. (Well, as early as I could. We usually stayed up till about midnight opening presents at my aunt’s.) I wanted to get to bed so I could see all the cool stuff I got in the morning.

I don’t think patience is one of my strong points. I remember getting up in the morning and making sure that my parents got up and rushing them as quickly as I could so we could go downstairs and we could all have Christmas together. I can remember some of the gifts that I got for Christmas, but as I look back, it’s harder and harder. 

As I’ve got older, I look forward more to the reactions of other people when they see the gifts that I’ve got them. This year with my roommate, it added a new perspective as I’d see him open gifts that I’d told them that he’d like and seeing the joy that he had, as well as the joy at hearing that my mother had gone out and bought a chocolate cheesecake. 

There are so many gifts that I can’t wait to see other people open them. That joy is a far greater joy to me. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy receiving gifts, I do. It does mean though that being older and wiser, I see the wisdom of the quotation from Acts of Christ. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Now that I’m away, Christmas has become more about family. It’s not in opening gifts that I will eventually not see as exciting as I do at the time, but it’s about the moments of seeing my mother’s face and having chats with my Dad again. This morning, my family and I watched Monk together on a USA network marathon, something we used to always do together.

Let it not be lost on us though what makes this day so astounding, as it easily can be. This is the day to celebrate that the Word became flesh. Heaven came down and visited Earth. God wrote a story and then made an appearance in his own story. The author stepping into it caused the calendar to be restarted.

The world is vastly different today as a result of Jesus. It has been said that if Jesus had never been, we could have never invented a Jesus, and I concur entirely. We have grown up with the message of the gospel though that in a sad weay, we have lost the shock value of it. There are so many things that we would be stunned to hear as people living in the 1st century Roman Empire that we think of in a more “Ho hum” kind of way today.

As a child, I did look and wonder what each gift was for me under the tree. May it be that we regain and never lose the wonder of the gift God gave to us.

Remembering Jonathan

I told a friend of mine I’d write on a different topic today, and well, some things happen and I’ve had to change my mind. My apologies to my friend. It’s my blog though and it’s my choice. Today, I am confronted with the loss of a friend of mine in another state who at the age of 17 died from complications with dealing with a brain tumor.

I am not really an emotional person, but I do have great sorrow in me now, though you might not know that if you saw me here at the moment as I am reserved, but my friend Jonathan was a great guy. No. IS a great guy. As Lewis said when his wife died, “If she is not a person now, she never was a person.” 

I never got to meet Jonathan face to face, but yet somehow I was blessed to get to impact him from a distance and he impacted me as well. On the floor here, I have a book that I ordered that he said he had read recently. I never got to tell him that I ordered it simply because he recommended it. I never even got to tell him I ordered it. It’s next on my reading list though and I wonder how hard it will be to read, not because of the content of which I expect no difficulty, but of thinking that with each page this is kind of like the last statement of my friend to me.

Some of you might know about a book called Tuesdays With Morrie. Jonathan’s class at school was reading that and each student was told to track down a “Morrie” to have conversations with on a weekly basis about various topics. Jonathan asked me to do it and I was honored and so began a series of discussions. Each time I would drop all other instant messages I had and any web surfing I was doing at the time and just focus on him. I remember one particularly where he said we would talk about love and on that one word, we had well over an hour of discussion time. 

I’m a teacher type and this is something I naturally enjoy. I like the idea of being the professor type and getting to fill a young mind with the wisdom I’ve learned over the years and that’s something that always amazed me about Jonathan. He was always willing to learn and I could tell he had an intense education already at his young age and it made me wish I’d been doing that kind of stuff when I was his age. 

Jonathan also had a loving heart and I could care he cared about people. I talked with him often about some of the emotional struggles he was going through. While I am an apologist, we did not just talk about apologists. We would often, as guys do, talk about girls. He would add that he was praying for me and I would pray for him as well. He’d pray that I’d find the wife I’m looking for and I’d pray that he’d find a good girl that would treat him right.

It was those conversations that helped bond things together as Jonathan was like a younger brother type to me. Our interests were different in many areas. He was an Avatar fan and I’m the Smallville geek. We came together though in our love of Christ and our deep interest in apologetics and just being a guy. I always wanted to be the guy that he could talk to at any time about anything that was bothering him.

I believe I am rambling now and it’s quite likely true. When something like this happens, you just have no idea what to say. I think though about eternity awaiting me and how I will get to meet my friend I never saw but always knew. I wonder if when I get there I will somehow know him. Will I be able to say “I never saw your face, but I recognized your heart from a distance?” Will it instead be he’ll say “We never met on Earth, but I’m Jonathan, and it’s good to finally meet you.” I don’t know.

Out of discretion for the family, I’m not putting information up about last name or location. If others want to, that’s fine, but I choose to remain secret here. However, I do plan to get this to them as soon as I can. Jonathan was like a younger brother that I never had and already I miss him and wish I could just have one more Tuesday with him discussing any topic whatsoever.

Farewell Jonathan my friend. May I see you again someday.

My Thanksgiving Blog

I’m interrupting our look at the Lord’s Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount as a whole to write my Thanksgiving blog. As I write this, I am dead exhausted. Why? I had some friends over tonight and their car happened to die on them and I had to run out to where their parents were, and when I say run, I mean run, as we live in an area hard to find but everyone can find a nearby location.

And yes, it’s quite chilly this time of year.

But I’m thinking, “What an awesome Thanksgiving this is.”

Personally, I’d prefer to spend a day in a strange adventure.

I’d like though to list other things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful that God is God and he is on the throne and I am not. Do we take time to recognize God for who he is? I don’t believe we do. The attributes he has seem to us to be abstract concepts more than actual realities. Have we really taken a look at the God we serve and realized who it is that we serve?

I’m thankful for the cross and the empty tomb. Without that, there would be no salvation and that would make pretty pointless anything I did here for the greater good and would render my eternity to be a bit less than preferable. That the Son was willing to come and die on the cross for sinners like myself is quite amazing. 

I’m thankful for my friends. I’ve got a great roommate here who puts up with a whole lot from me and is still in my corner anyway. Since coming to this town, I’ve managed to make several other friends and I am just amazed by that. There are people in my life who I had no idea even existed a couple of years ago and now I’ve got them plugged into my cell phone.

I’m thankful for my family who has seen me off to go live out my dream and am cheering me on. Unlike many others, I didn’t get to see my family tonight, but they did call and that includes the extended family. I do plan on getting to see them again at Christmas, but it’s good to know that they’re out there.

I’m thankful for the education that I’m receiving and how I’m progressing along just fine on it. I really wasn’t expecting to do as well as I’m doing, but I am. My professors are quite excellent and I’ve been blessed to be seen in a good light. It makes me thankful for all the preparation that I did before I came here.

I’m thankful for a new job also that will give me a chance to do what I love to do the most and make a better living. The pay should also ease a lot of the financial burden that I have. This is the kind of opportunity that I’ve been waiting for for a long time and now it has finally come upon me and I am grateful.

I’m thankful for the church home that I have. My roommate and I get along great and I’ve got to do a number of classes. It’s great to be a member of a body where you are well-respected and even last Sunday when I ended up missing a service, I had a phone call from one of them to make sure everything was well.

I’m also thankful that I have been blessed materially. I have a huge library right here in my apartment and a number of gaming systems that are great to have when friends come by and we want to hang out together. My family has never been wealthy by any means and yet, I have somehow managed to amass so much.

I could probably go on and on, but ultimately, there’s much I’m thankful for this year. How about you?

Obama, Socialism, And My Story

I started a thread on TheologyWeb where I often post about what Barack Obama said to a plumber who is concerned about his tax plans. I won’t deny it here. I am not a fan of Obama in any way. I urge you if you are though to not stop reading now. I’m not writing this to attack him specificially. My stance is against his for another reason though. I wrote on this on TheologyWeb and a wise friend suggested I blog about it. I resisted it, but I thought eventually I might as well. 

My stance was that I find what was said insulting. I don’t appreciate the idea that if I’m going to be a success, I need the help of the government. Someone responded to me and told me that some people have inequalities and it isn’t as easy for them so get over it. Now that really ticked me off and I had to respond and I am giving a longer form here of what I said there.

I’ll also say that this is something difficult to write. My wise friend would tell me that if anyone attacked me for anything I said here though, it would be their problem. I agree with her astute wisdom once again.

The truth is, I have those inequalities. My scoleosis is well-known actually though. In speaking about that, I’m not really limited. I played ultimate frisbee earlier this month at our Seminary and I was the fastest one on the field. It is interesting to go to the Y though and be at the mirror and keep trying to contort myself in every way to see the scar on my back and how it is, but I can’t. No one has ever asked me about it though, but I honestly wouldn’t mind if they did.

At an earlier age, I was diagnosed as autistic. Some people think I’m Asperger’s, so I prefer to say Aspie/Autistic these days. I’m not sure what it is entirely, but I will say life is difficult at times. If I get in a social situation, I’m not really the best. I thrive on the intellectual. I see the world through a different set of eyes. I can illustrate this with my coming into work today and a co-worker trying to engage me in a conversation. This person started the conversation.



“How are you?”


“Anything new?”


“Are you reading anything new?”

” ‘The Trinity’ by Saint Augustine.”

The other questions are the small talk questions that don’t really go over so well. I never know exactly what to say with my penchant of wanting to be honest and realizing that if I’m honest in this case and I’m feeling great, what will happen in the day when I’m not? If I’m not feeling great today, then it is not appropriate to be honest.

If anyone wants more info on this, I recommend reading a chapter of a book by a guy with Asperger’s named “John Robison” called “Look Me In The Eye.” The chapter is called “Logic and Small Talk.” I read through it at the bookstore and thought the guy was inside my head. This is a book I definitely plan to buy someday.

Let me go back to my history some though and talking about inequalities.

I remember being taken by my parents often to the Birth Defects Center as it’s believed I have some muscle disease also that limits my strength. It’s not conclusive. A muscle biopsy didn’t reveal anything as far as I know and I don’t think about it much, but the autism aspect I think was a strong reason behind my being there.

Let me be clear. My parents are very good people and very supportive. They didn’t do perfect though. They shielded me from a lot and I had to learn a lot when I got out on my own, but I did prove to them that I can handle things and with their last visit here to see me, they got to see that firsthand. It’s still hard for them of course, but they’re pleased. They are also both Christians who raised me in the church.

I also hate that kind of term though of the place I was. “Birth defects.” I may not be functioning on all cylinders like everyone else, but I am not a defective product. Could it be part of our view that tends to treat people like they’re machines? I do not socialize well. That is true. Because of my condition though, I do a lot of other things well.

As an example, I was talking to a philosopher friend of mine on Facebook recently and he was surprised when I told him I’ve never had a formal class on logic. He told me he was stunned because I seemed to have such a grasp of it. Well that’s the way my mind works. I can see a 10-digit number and memorize it. I do mathematics the way a lot of people breathe. It’s just innate. 

However, many counselors seeing me growing up were quite hesitant. I was told for instance that I would never finish High School.

I was in public high school and I didn’t have special help. The only case really was when I had the scoleosis surgery and due to physical weakness then, someone else had to carry my bags for me and I had to leave class five minutes early so I wouldn’t be out in the hall during the rush when the students got let out.

Nevertheless, I finished. I would say I was a lazy student though simply because I did not need to study. I grasped ideas immediately and was able to recall them. Did I interact with students a lot though in things like dating and such? No. I had a lot of crushes, but I didn’t really act on them. My friends were few, but they were there.

I graduated though. Okay. The other side was wrong.

So I go to Bible College. I hadn’t even heard of apologetics yet, but there was a lot of stuff going on in my life and I needed to find answers and I had a natural grasp of the Bible and I had friends telling me I should be in ministry as I was already doing evangelism on the internet and actually enjoying that more than anything else. 

How did I get there? My family is not rich. VOCRehab paid for my education. It’s an organization that pays for those with “disabilities.” They didn’t really like my choice though. They urged me to not go into ministry as my mind could be better put to use in something like engineering (Which I had no interest in) and I just couldn’t speak well of course.

It’d have been nice if they’d had been there when I preached my senior sermon before the faculty and student body of my Bible College which would be about 1,000 people.

I loved my college years and was increasingly educating myself. For the first time after having discovered apologetics, I was buying books and books and books. Last night, I told my roommate that I’m going to need to go and buy another bookcase. This had never happened with any interest before. Before too long, I was an authority.

Did I graduate? Yes. I am the first in my family in a long time to have a college degree. Looks like VOC Rehab was wrong.

However, I have yet to get a ministry position and in my hometown, I eventually knew that I wanted to come where I am now. I moved out on my own to a local apartment which my folks had concern about. Nevertheless, I proved to them that I can budget and in fact, they tell me that I budget better than my married sister. 

VOC Rehab when they found out had offered to give me classes on living on my own. Forget it. I don’t need a class on that. I taught myself much of what I know. They also offered to have someone help me get a job. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care for my job at all. However, I also wanted to be sure of something. I plan to get a job because I’ve earned it and not because I need help due to disability.

I got accepted to the Seminary I wanted to go to and I am there now. My president knows my condition as do much of the staff. I try to be open with them about it. They don’t treat me the way they do out of pity though. They do it because they respect me and believe that I have the ability to do the things that I want to do.

I work right now in a situation where I am doing a non-intellectual job that is socially geared. It’s anathema to me. That kind of stuff just wears me out. When there’s too much activity going on and too many people talking, it wrecks my thinking. It is that time at the end of the day when I sit down and read or do something else I enjoy that I get restored.

I am especially thankful for my friends, especially my roommate. I find it amazing at times that he willingly agreed to live with me knowing all these things about me. It is thinking of a friend like him that gives me some comfort in whatever goes on in my life. Of course, this doesn’t discount my Christian faith as keeping me going, but I’m so thankful that God gave me friends.

Sometimes, those of us with Autism/Asperger’s are seen as rude and we really have a huge disadvantage. If you see someone in a wheelchair, you don’t challenge them to a footrace. If you see someone without arms, you don’t ask them to play a game of catch. When you see me though, I look like everyone else. You can’t see a social disorder like that.

My friends though are the ones that I can be open with, but even still I can be guarded. I speak more with sounds and actions. Music plays a big part as I usually have a tune or a song in my mind. I will often try to gesture to someone that I don’t know. It’s a lot easier to me than talking and frankly, I can’t tell you why. The exception is if the conversation is about something I know and it can be anything. Talking about Smallville, for instance, can get someone into my world.

Btw, that’s another reason I love Smallville. I see a lot of myself in Clark Kent. Why? Clark Kent lives with a secret and he looks like everyone else. He wrestles so much with existential struggles involving his humanity and what it means. How are people supposed to feel? Nevertheless, he’s out there trying to use his abilities to make the world a better place.

Now what about VOC Rehab also? Are they paying for my Seminary? Nope. I made something clear. I would not get my education out of pity. I would get it out of ability. I am paying for everything. If I earn a scholarship, that is different. Right now, I’m not sure how things will be paid for, but they will be. I have some dentistry bills coming. I’m not sure how it will be paid for, but it will be. 

What does this have to do with Obama and his statement? Here’s the truth. I don’t want pity. I want the government to simply ensure that I can have the freedom to go out and make a success of myself. I consider Obama’s idea that I need that help an insult. Do I have an inequality? Yes I do. Don’t underestimate me though. I have overcome a lot thus far and I can rest assured any detractors out there that we’ve only just begun.

I Love Friendship

I spoke today at my church on the topic of homosexuality in response to the Connecticut Supreme Court decision to life the ban on homosexual marriages. One aspect I touched on was that just because two people live together does not mean they should have the privileges of marriage. I gave as an example, my roommate and I.

Later, I recalled an event that we had happen once where two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our apartment and accused us of being homosexuals after just meeting us. They didn’t come right out and say it but talked about how evil the world is and said “Just look at you two for instance, living together like this.”

I’m sorry, but I don’t know much other way to take that.

However, as I ponder it, in many ways, that’s a kind of back-handed compliment. Friendship between men is often lacking I think and if two friends are close enough that they can be told a remark like that, then that is a close friendship. As I have witnessed events over the past year though, I have come to see more and more how important friendship is.

I could tell you many times that my roommate did something for me that was totally unexpected and yet, it was done. I could not explain it but in my mind I was thinking “Wow.” Often times, it’s not even explicit things. It is implicit things that I notice from the actions done that show that I am being considered in a way I would not have realized.

Of course, this goes both ways. As I said in my message today, if he was heading home and he got in a car accident, I would be the first one at the hospital. No doubt about it! Our friendship is unique and I would do whatever I could to help him out. There is no sense in even asking the question. Simply put, there is no question about it.

Aristotle spoke highly of friendship amongst the virtues and while there was a golden mean for the other virtues, there wasn’t for friendship. He even believed that friendship was essential for happiness and said that the essence of friendship was living together. Of course, that takes on a new connotation when one gets married where the spouse becomes one’s best friend, but even still, the true friends you’ve had will remain true friends throughout.

It also makes one think of the future. What will it mean when we each marry some beautiful ladies? I think of time with him and with other friends I’ve made here as well as we watch our children grow up together and start our careers. Should I get a book published, I can imagine them telling other friends that they knew me beforehand and getting those free author’s copies and acknowledgments going out to them.

Friendship is just unique. It is a chosen relationship like no other. One could say that the eros relationship is done for bodily pleasure, though few of us today I think would say we marry solely for that reason, but with friendship, the pleasure is in the joy of the other person and how you share the good and bad times together.

Friends are those people you can be open and honest with. My roommate gets a unique trust from me that my own family doesn’t even get. It’s just a different relationship and I’m sure there are many men out there that can relate to that. There are things you will tell your friends that you would never dream of telling your parents.

It’s something that needs to be restored also. In talking about homsoexuality, one person came to me afterwards and asked how he can help a man he works with who he’s trying to evangelize who is homosexual. I gave the advice of being a friend. Men who struggle often need good male friends who will just be friends with them and accept them as men. When it comes to talking about Christianity, don’t talk about sin first. Talk about Christ and his grace.

Friendship is a gift from God. I urge anyone who wants to consider more to get a copy of C.S. Lewis’s book “The Four Loves” and read on Phileo. Naturally, the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle as well. Something to consider is that friendship was a unique term in Plato as well. In the dialogue that discusses what a friend is, which is called Lysis, at the end, Socrates isn’t sure how to define it as per most dialogues, but he wants to depart from those he was dialoguing with as friends.

I think there’s a really deep truth to that.