Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belated Thanksgiving Post

Well, I had meant to write this on Thanksgiving. Having failed that, I meant to write it the day after. Well, here I am finally writing it on Saturday, but hey...I've been having good times with my family :) I enjoy Thanksgiving a LOT (and it's not JUST because of the food). I love taking the time to just enjoy all the MANY things I have to be thankful for. God has really blessed me!

A lot has happened since last Thanksgiving. One thing I'm particularly thankful for is that I'm living in my own house this year. Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, my pregnant wife's and my apartment burned down. And yet, even in the ashes of things, there was so much to be thankful for. My wife and I had been writing journals to our son since we found out he was in there, and, while VERY crispy on the outside, the words were preserved. Her wedding dress was barely even smoke damaged, even though the rest of the clothes in the closet were destroyed. Most of our pets died, but we weren't even home at the time. Most of our worldly possessions were lost, but people were lining up to have us stay at their houses, give us clothes and food and all other manners of goods. It really taught us faith in God and reliance on our fellow man. Family, friends, the firefighters, our church...SO many people donated SO many things to us. We really learned that having God, family and friends is the most important thing. We learned to give thanks in all things, as Paul tells us to.

My son, Charles, was born in January of this year, and I'm so thankful for him. He's such a cute, sweet bundle of joy (when he's not hollering about something!). He has two cute little teeth, his first word was "Dada" and he's a healthy happy kid (well he has a lazy eye, but that should be easily corrected). He's such a joy to come home to...always SO excited when I bound up the stairs and scoop him up!

My wife, Amanda, and I celebrated our first anniversary this June. I appreciate so many things about her: she put up with me dragging her all the way across the country from California to Ohio so that I could go to medical school. She takes care of Charlie all day while I'm at school, and is pretty much the only one who deals with him at nighttime! I have learned so many things from her that I probably would not have otherwise. She really brings a fresh perspective to things.

I started medical school this year, and this brings to mind SO many things I'm thankful for! Thankful for the people who made the move possible (my father-in-law for working on and giving me the truck that I drove all our stuff over in, my dad for coming along and keeping me company on the long journey over, and paying for most of the gas haha, my grandparents for providing a home for Charles and Amanda while I made the drive and paying for just about everything else haha). I'm thankful for God blessing me with a mind that excels at school, because somehow, with all I have to do, I'm maintaining a 91% average in class, which puts me at the top 10-20% of the class (if I'm doing my statistics right).

This last year (particularly with the cross-country move), I have gotten back together with a LOT of family that I haven't seen in a long time (ranging from years to over a decade). This year has seen a lot of heartache as well, as all years do. As my dad notes, you have to thank God for the bad things, too.

Most importantly, I thank God for His gift of salvation. I may not be a "bad person", but I fall FAR short of the perfection that God requires. But, He loved me enough to pay the penalty for me, at a cost I can't even comprehend. Now, I am proud to call Him my Lord, my God, and my Father. I thank Him when He blesses me, when He reproves me, when He refines me through the fires of trials. As Job said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." At the same time, Jesus says: "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Amen, and praise God. Let us be thankful this season, especially as we begin our special time of year for remembering the precious gift of Jesus, and remember that we serve a great and merciful God.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh, And... people who are voting "Other" on my "What Should Matthew Specialize In" poll, apox upon you!! :) Explain yourselves! I knew I shouldn't have included "Other" lol.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

California Here I Come, Right Back Where I Started From...

...where bowers of flowers bloom in the spring,
Each morning, at dawning, the birdies sing an' everything
A sunkissed misss said, "Don't be late,"
That's why I can hardly wait.
Open up that golden gate
California, Here I Come!!

Sorry, I didn't know I was going to write out the whole chorus when I started that :) Anyway, we're flying back to California on December 23, and will be there until New Year's Day. A fair amount of that time will probably be in Colfax where my father-in-law lives (since he's paying for us to fly out!) but we'll be in Sacramento/Elk Grove at least a few days. Just giving a heads-up to all my Sac-buddies out there...we need to make plans to hang out!

That's all for now :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Before You Point Your Finger...

So, a couple of nights ago, my wife and I rented The Other Boleyn Girl. I had heard good things about the movie, and I'm a big fan of history, so I thought it would be enjoyable. The movie did not disappoint.

For those of you who don't know, the movie surrounds the involvement of King Henry VIII of England with two sisters of the Boleyn family. It is historical fiction, and as far as I can tell, it is a fairly accurate portrayal of the historical events.

Now, if you know the story, you probably are wondering where I'm going with this. I could certainly do a bunch of different posts on the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Mary Boleyn, or on the greed, selfishness, cruelty and misery of Anne Boleyn, or on the nauseating self-serving, thoughtless, greedy, corrupt ambition of their father, or on a whole host of other topics. But that's not what caught my attention the most, even though it wasn't the focus of the film.

No, what caught my eye was the utter humanity of Henry VIII (masterfully played by Eric Bana). We so quickly find ourselves looking back at King Henry, wagging our fingers, and so easily condemning his actions, thinking that's something WE would never do. I'm here to say not only are you capable of it, not only am I capable of it, but I submit to you that I have done it. The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful, and even godly men (King David!) can act as if they were downright mad sometimes. This is not an easy post to write, but it is what was on my heart during the movie, and what I feel burdened to share with you, whoever you may be.

The king had character traits that I see in myself. He wanted to be a strong leader, and he had the potential to be strong and kind; he was intelligent. But he loved his women, and he'd literally do anything it took to please the one he was after. He was quick to relegate even his entire arsenal of kingly power over to a woman to please her.

He was tired with his Queen Catherine. Instead of pouring himself into strengthening the marriage, he sought solace by bringing others into his bed. The evil Boleyn father convinced his (already married!) daughter Mary to lie with the king, and she more or less quietly gave in and became the king's mistress. As history tells us, she eventually loses Henry's interest, as she fails to bear a son. Interestingly, though, she continues to have his respect.

In comes the strong-willed, ambitious and manipulative Anne. She had seen how Henry had cast her sister aside when he lost interest, and she was determined to wrap him around her finger. She toys with the king, seducing him yet actually sending his gifts back to him, purposefully driving him mad with desire for her (like I said, I could write a lot about Anne). In any case, he allows Anne to have this power of him, and from then on he becomes her puppet.

Anne wants Mary kicked out of the castle? Done, even though she had just given birth to the son that Henry had so desperately longed for.

Anne demands to be married to Henry before she'll give herself to him secure her position. But oh wait...Henry is still married to Catherine! So what happens? Henry trumps up LAME charges against Catherine, and ends up annulling the marriage. But even THAT isn't enough. The Church of Rome won't allow him to marry Anne, so he goes so far as to throw off all restraints and authorities in his life, save for Anne. He breaks with the Catholic Church, and Anne has the audacity to soothe his frustration and anger over all he's doing for her by saying basically, "You should be glad I made you do all these things! It's for your own good anyway!" Completely blame-shifting and making excuses. Anne finds out in the end that she bit off a LOT more than she could chew, and that manipulating kings is not a wise idea. But, this post isn't about her.

I say this to say: I've been there, done that. Now, I didn't get anyone beheaded over my actions, but I sure left a train-wreck behind me, which I am still working very hard to clean up. There was a time I took leave of my senses, threw away advice of fellow Christians who were trying to see the madness of my actions, I lied and made excuses to myself so many times that I truly honestly thought I was acting nobly and righteously at times. I threw away all authority in my life except for this woman that I was trying to please, at the expense of my family, friends, myself and my God.

Most people who know me would say I'm a pretty grounded, godly spritual guy, and I do certainly hope that I'm growing in God's grace. But "even" I was able to fall so far. I did unspeakable acts that caused hurts which will never fully heal. It can happen to all of us. That is my warning to you:

It's easy to see the "bad" guys in history, point fingers at them, and separate them from ourselves. But they were just people, same as you and me. From King Henry VIII and Hitler, to King David and Samson--no one is immune from the influence of our sin nature. Let us cling so tightly to our Lord, and let us also be completely open and honest to fellow believers who will challenge us and hold us accountable.

"There but the grace of God go I."

I'm Back!! (Sort of!)

Haha so I have been on a hiatus here because I had a pressing exam on my mind. The exam covered such topics as biochemistry, bioenergetics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, histology, cell structure, proteins, enzymes, apoptosis, vesicular transport, cell injury, a slew of metabolic pathways and their diseases, and a list of 30 drugs to memorize. Praise the Lord, I got 92% on it!

Now, I have about 5+ posts that have half-formed in my head, and I'm going to have to figure out what order to put them in. Odds are, I'll end up too busy with other stuff and won't even get around to writing them, but I'll do my best!

I'd REALLY like it if we could do a bit more discussion on the validity of the Rapture doctrine, because it's very pressing on my mind. I can't find a way to Biblically prove it, and especially at this time of human existence, I find the difference to be absolutely critical!

So, I'm back. As much as I ever am :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Time for Something Different!

But don't stop discussing the Rapture post below!

I read an article this morning (ooh see how high tech I am with that whole link thing?!) on AIDS and I thought I'd share it with you.

This is basically a case study where a bone marrow transplant gave the HIV-positive patient immunity to the AIDS virus. I don't know exactly how important this will end up being in finding a cure for AIDS, but there it is!

Friday, November 7, 2008

In a Different Vein (perhaps, the brachiocephalic v.?)

I recently FINALLY finished the wonderful book The Shack by William Young. It was recommended to me by a good friend who never recommends books, so I knew I had to check it out (this was months ago, and it's only like a 200 page book, which is really sad). Anyway, I


Read this book. It reminded my of some of C.S.Lewis' work in that it was concise, clear, VERY readable, and yet contained a lot of truth that our culture has lost touch with. The basic premise is that a man who is dealing with an intensely horrific personal tragedy and is struggling to deal with it and make sense of it receives an invitation supposedly from God to go meet him at this shack for the weekend. The book attacks the stagnation of modern religion, challenges our ideas of who God is and what He wants, and deals with issues of tragedy and God's sovereignty and will.

It's only 200 pages, and really shouldn't take you anywhere near months to finish :)