So… it’s over. The late night coffee and bubble tea runs, the movies, the “study” sessions (special emphasis on the quotation marks), the bible study lessons, the goofy dinners in the caf, the special events… it’s all done.

And here I sit, prepped and ready to go to Washington D.C.; and the question is, how far have I come, and how did I get there?

I must admit, it has been extremely hard in recent days to generate any enthusiasm for next semester. The benefits seem so small in comparison to the anchors that keep my heart here in Michigan… and yet I press on. Why? Because I can see that God has shaped events in such a way to prepare me for something. What this “something” is I know not, but I have to keep believing that God has good things in store for me, and I need to be prepared.

Still, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss as I think about the semester that I’m missing, because the last two years have taught me the unalterable truth… the fun never stops at CCF!

I have so many good memories… (yes, even Goldie can remember a few things)

The first time I met CCF on a skiing trip: The kindness of the people, their gutsiness in going down the “big” hills, and this kid with glasses who I thought was a cheerful, hyperactive nerd. (note: First impressions are clearly not my strong point… it was Jared!)

The endless USB trips: Teriyaki chicken. Beef noodle soup. Chocolate bubble tea (seriously, you guys, you’re missing out!). The Rubric cube. The golf ball in the water. The ESPN vs. Tom and Jerry debates. The chess matches. The Euchre games. The deep spiritual discussions. The bean sprouts. Learning top-notch chopstick skills (ok, ok… mediocre chopstick skills). Watching the winter Olympics. Making use of the massage chair. Building relationships that will last a lifetime.

The sports: Endless basketball games. Shooting 6 for 8 with 5 three pointers one night and 1 for 9 with one lay-up the next. Getting creamed but playing well in the three on three tournament. Showing up KFC (oh, I mean KCF ) at IM West. Playing tennis with my friends and trying to make it look like I’m not going easy. Epic Ultimate Frisbee matches. Placing last in my first ever tournament and second in my last one with SCF. Learning to throw forehand almost as well as backhand, and gaining a consistent “hammer”. Playing broomball with IV. Running with friends (climbing trees and almost falling in the river included). Running like crazy to steal the flag in paintball because I had run out of bullets anyways. Trying to keep up with Rachelle at the ice rink (which happened for all of 10 seconds). Trash talking like a madman on the volleyball court… with absolutely no game to back it up.

Large group: The first I ever came to about dating, where I established my reputation as arrogant and somewhat condescending (hm, maybe first impressions CAN be right…). The rabbits. The guy-girl lesson. The focus on God lesson (I think there are STILL some people unhappy with that one). The ice breakers (ever tried to play telephone with three FOBs, two ABCs, and a white guy?). The crazy introduction questions. The excellent worship. Bonnie’s lesson on forgiveness. The Night at the Oscars. Dealing with September 11. Forcing Christy and Cassie and Lindsay to teach (and having each of them do an excellent job). Getting terrific “Secret Jesus” gifts. Getting a sweatshirt for walking over from Case for all the leadership meetings.

The special events: Hot Pot. Movie nights, with Steak ‘n’ Shake runs after. Pinball Pete’s. Apple Picking. Broomball. Newspaper games. Barbecue at Bonnie’s. The comedians (Riiiiiiiiiicccoooolloooooooooo). The dances (my favorite). Girls’ Revenge. Singing to Christy on her Birthday. Going camping with the guys (Welcome to the Revolution!). Guys’ night out. Climbing the wall at Galyans. Games in the Time Out room. Sledding.

Just being friends: Dinner in the caf. Vermacelli (aka bean thread) with Sewa and Samantha. Movies in people’s rooms. Birthday parties. Picking songs for CCF with Joyce. Coffee runs. Tears. Getting past gossip. Getting past differences.

Random events: Turning on scoreboards and falling out of trees with Diana. Sitting with Ryan, waiting for him to get stiches. Taking Jared to the hospital after getting his teeth knocked in, literally. Climbing the fire escape instead of watching shooting stars on a cloudy night, and eating breakfast afterwards.

Small group: Simon and Garfunkel. I can’t believe you guys didn’t bring your bibles! Why are Asians always late? Ok, I have an outline! Creed. Xin, what are you talking about?
Since when does McGlobe get the lounge? They’ll only have 5 people anyways! Ok, ok… we’ll have more discussion. Evolution. Predestinatin. “God is like a rainbow.” We need to be ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED to God. Xin, what are you talking about?

Core: Meetings without end. Retreats. Sleeping at Bonnie’s church. Campfire on the beach. MTs. Arguments and debates. Spiritual growth. One-on-ones. Wheel of Morality.

Nicknames: Gazelle, The Monk, Willis, The Emperor, Goldie, Champ.


Jared: Loyalty and Credibility vs. Principle. The Cold War that I didn’t know about becoming a deep friendship. The 9 hour conversation. Rooming together at Twyckingham. Eating ridiculous amounts of eggs. The Ant War. Video Games. D&D and the Magic Dice. McDonald’s trips. The trip to Tennessee. Hypotheticals. Inside vs. Outside. Hot vs. Cold. Emotion and passion vs. discipline and objectivity. Girl issues. Chess wars. The single one-on-one basketball game. 6 hour arguments. Trying to rent movies. Barnes and Noble vs. 21st Century. Sleeping while driving. The HUGE cross. Theology and philosophy. War and political strategy. General grumpiness.

Rachelle: Long talks in Tennessee. Brutal honesty. Cleaning the carpet during talks. Eating breakfast at Yakely… and RACHELLE SKIPPED A CLASS? The tea party the night before a test. Doing the puzzle. Medical jokes; what are you talking about? Political jokes; what are you talking about? Discussion vs. Lecturing. Opinion vs. Absolutes. Authority of the few vs. Authority of the group. Movie similarities; While You Were Sleeping, Return to Me, Anne of Green Gables, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etc. Skating fast at the Ice Rink. The letter. Misperceptions. Taking breaks from Core meetings to work out compromises. How to handle relationships discussions. Jared’s pink shirt. GLUTIUS MAXIMUS and the ghetto booty.

Samantha: Vermacelli. Running to Beaners. Debating the finer points of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Jogging to Sparty. IM arguments. Deep spiritual discussions. Nati? Yeah, that totally fits. Hating shopping together the first time, but learning to like it the second. “What do you mean I’m a pistol?” Walking to X lot. Tennis; “holding back? Me? Never!”. Tears. “I can help you with your grammars.” Eating “shrimps”. Serious displays of stubbornness on both sides. Dumb jokes. The basics of politics. The Health exam. “You are SO MUCH like my mom!” Absolute commitment to friendship no matter what. Ideas for Core. “The guys in CCF need more boldness.” Feeling like simultaneous failures but seeing the simultaneous successes. Short jokes. “My 12 year old brother is taller than you!” White jokes. Family differences. “Are you teachable?”

Christy: Stealing food of my plate. Ice cream. “But I don’t have any spoons!” Discussions about Marvin. Cells and Moving Vans. “They come from RATS?” The ethics of medicine. Tuesday and Thursday breakfasts. “Aw, you didn’t have to wake up for me!” “Don’t worry, I’m not awake yet.” Stories about old people. You got drunk on NYQUIL? “I’m hot.” “Oh yes you ARE!” Spiderman, 8 mile, and Lord of the Rings. CHRISTY! That’s DISGUSTING! Multivitamins. “What do you mean, I won’t be able to tell what they’re doing?” Rap vs. Opera. Hip-Hop vs. Classical. You can’t BURP? Constructive criticism. ::sniff:: You’re leaving me all alone? Let me get my camera and duct tape and I’ll make you famous.

Arthur: Dinners at Case. “Case is SO much better!” Playing pool… on the computer. “Hey, if you think you can pull of the paintball thing, go for it.” Basketball games, shooting threes from half court. What does it mean to be a Godly man? I don’t CARE how hot your physical therapist is. WHAT? Medal of Honor. “I was BORN to be a sniper!” Who’s skinnier? Sorry, man, what the girls want, the girls get. You walk so SLOW. “I can’t live with Asians.” Dude, NOBODY CARES. CBC history. You get to prove it the way I did… one long day at a time.

Joyce: Choosing songs for CCF. Two social people trying to get past just being social. (simultaneously) “I do 90% of the work around here!” All of a sudden, we’re realizing that we’re leaders. Trying to make small talk over the phone. “If you see chewy crème savers, that’s us!” “Well, if you see pharmacist legislation, that’s US!” Relax, Joyce, you’re gorgeous. I HATE singing. I’d much rather just listen to you guys. “I think I just like being the mediator.” So, you ready to be in charge of this one? You kicked BUTT on my quizzes! Where’d you get a name like Juice, anyways? A DOUBLE RAINBOW. This is one of those things we’ll always remember.

Cassie: Cassie or Casey? Oh, Casey? No wait, Cassie? How do you spell it? I’m so confused. Walks back from McDonel after prayer meeting. Hand motions! Batman Beyond; yeah, baby. “She didn’t shudder at MY PAW.” Disney songs in the caf. “Yeah right, you just want to laugh at me!” Judging the Bigger and Better game. Why are you a breadstick? Just hanging out… “Ok, I’m taking you to Jon’s house, even if he isn’t there.” Is it 33 or 133? I’m sure they’re the same thing. “Well, this is an adventure!” Fast walkers. Um, ok, no. Don’t invade the bubble!

Lindsay: Oh my goodness, what is up with your FEET? Little kids are so cute! Are you going to pay dues to the teacher’s union? How do you get a name like Brownie? Yes, I KNOW that Noah is incredibly cute. Are you ready to teach this week? Don’t compare yourself so much! You LIKE the idea of compartments? You were the one I was most worried about! A Walk to Remember? I CAN’T STAND THAT MOVIE. Ang? Yeah, that fits.

Diana: Turning the scoreboard on at the baseball field. Falling out of a tree. Discussing how to apply the Bible to our lives. “Oh, shut up, I’m gonna tell you anyways.” Do you think there are sub-groups? You’re weird. SMILE more! You and Stephanie are SO SHORT; I feel like you’re talking under me! Romans is a good book. You Jerk! You’re so cool. Hop on the sled, it’s fun! Trust me. The dress isn’t blue, it’s tan! What are YOU looking at? God loves me the way I am, right?

And so many more…

Ok, next blog will be a bit more normal. I’ll tell you what though, guys… I love each and every one of you. I’ll miss you guys. Don’t forget me.


LUKE: Yoda! I am ready. I... Ben! I can be a Jedi. Ben, tell him I'm ready!
YODA: Ready, are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained! A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!

LUKE: I won't fail you - I'm not afraid.
YODA: Oh, you will be. You will be.

Thanksgiving break was a good one for me, despite having to tell people what I’m doing next semester about a thousand times over. I should issue memos! The best part, though, was seeing one of my best friends in the world, whom I haven’t been able to spend significant time with since a year and a half ago.

Steve Loudon and I think so similarly and have such similar interests that we call ourselves the Jedi Twins; a formidible pair whether it be in sports (especially Ultimate, of course), theology, philosophy, or Bible and Star Wars trivia (my dad just about fell over when we both knew that Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City was designed to mine Tibanna gas).

Hanging out with Stevo reminded me of Star Wars, so I’ve been relating everything to that fine set of movies lately; hence, the above quotes. See, in preparing for and leading today’s Bible study (kudos to those few but faithful who showed up), I was struck by the importance of commitment. Following God requires the same things required of a Jedi; the deepest commitment, a most serious mind, a focus on the present without losing sight of of goals, a high level of discipline. Will things get hard? Will we be afraid? Of course. The reward, though, is greater than the price.

In our Bible study (e-mail me if you want a copy of the outline), we discussed how God asks for us to be fully committed to him. We’re not talking about calling yourself a Christian every day until you die. We’re talking about being sold out, on fire, and completely focused on glorifying God with every move you make. We ought to do this because A) he deserves it after all he’s done for us, B) it’s our share of a consistent relationship with him, and C) it’s in our best interest.

Further, we talked about what that actually MEANS. We didn’t cover everything, but we did talk about how commitment can mean:
-A resolve to make right choices and follow God BEFORE the choice comes up
-Consistency in our relationship with him and in serving him
-Focus on serving him above all else, including above family or career or school
-Using our talents to serve him to the full extent of our ability
-Counting the cost of complete devotion

After discussion, we did an exercise. I know, I know. STOP THE PRESSES, BEN QUIT TALKING FOR TEN MINUTES. Yeah, well, whatever. Makes you wish you came, huh? Anyways, we took some time to honestly evaluate ourselves and then write down specific areas where we could shore up our commitment to serving God. I was amazed at the depth and specificity (yes, it’s a word) of the responses. All 6 of us, I think, were able to recognize some important things about ourselves and where we ought to be. After writing my own ideas –and conveniently copying from a few of my friends- I came up with a list of things that I want to focus on in my life to improve my commitment to God.

In seeking to be more committed to glorifying God in my life, I will strive to;
1. Pray EVERY NIGHT, especially while in Washington D.C.
2. Pray for one specific person each week
3. Have quiet times every day. Not just studying time or lesson-writing time, but actual quiet time.
4. Fast for at least one day every month.
5. Find ways of keeping myself accountable in D.C.
6. Set spiritual goals at the start of each month for that month.
7. Memorize at least one scripture verse (preferably more) each month.
8. Be honest with myself about my spritual life, and avoid rationalization.
9. Schedule a set time each day for God (random quiet times quickly become absent quiet times).
10. Find new things in the Bible. Instead of going to areas already knowing what I’ll find, I must search for new concepts and ideas. If it weren’t for my bible study, I’d never have had even a remote understanding of predestination!
11. Remind myself consistently that nothing I have is mine.

My apologies to those whom I have blatently plagerized, but you guys had great ideas!

So the question is, will I be able to follow through? In all honesty, probably not. D.C. is going be rough, and I fully expect that my many weaknesses will find ways of manifesting themselves. However, it’s a “rabbit” that I must stive for (kudos to those who remember what that means). It’s a goal that I desire because it’s what God wants for me, and that should be enough.

In other news, I received a great blessing today. For those who haven’t been told, I had the opportunity to build a friendship with a Muslim guy named Isaac from one of my classes. For the first few days of class, we were at each other’s throats, intense and certain in what we believed. However, God gave me an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship… and I bought his books for him. No, I’m not kidding; $115 bucks worth. Eventually, he dropped the class, but forgot to pay me back. I must admit to fretting a bit, but God let me stay in control… and blessed me for it. A month ago, he paid me back. Not in full (15 short), but enough that I was able to survive. At the time, I was honored when he said, “Almost nobody would go out of their way for another person like that, and I really appreciate it.”

The beautiful thing about this is that today, I saw him again! I hadn’t seen him since that day, but today I did, and we had a good chat. He again thanked me for helping him out, and then told me that he’d be praying for me (sweet… I’ve got two major religions covered. All I need is to buy a yamukeh, and I’m all set!). I told him the same, and walked away excited, having been reminded that God accomplishes his goals through my faithfulness, not my eloquence.

To top the day off, God gave me a lot of confidence through the vehicle of a couple close friends, who reminded me of the great joy that it is to fulfill the second most important commandment. Thanks so much, you guys.

Well, this Jedi needs to get to bed. Before I do, though, I would encourage you to stop and take a look around you. Maybe your commitment to God needs a little renovation, and maybe your bed will be empty longer than you think it ought to. In the end, though, there’s no greater blessing than serving a God who is in complete control of all that happens, and has your best interest at heart to boot. Till next time.

“It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."
-Sir Winston Churchill

What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussions concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skillful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should this profit thee without the love and grace of God?
-Thomas à Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ