le blog de willis: une tragé-comé-drame épique

byproduct of undeserved grace

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From Residence to Home

It’s been a great week where I’ve been finally able to settle into Queens. Though labeled New York’s “most boring borough,” Queens is pretty ideal, and I can’t help but wonder if some of my colleagues in deafening Manhattan yearn for a little bit of “boring” as they work themselves to death. Rego Park is ideal in that Costco, Russian produce, the post office, the parks and rec, the library, and the train station are all one block away. The Chinese eateries are split between Elmhurst and Flushing in which Rego is in the middle, but really, my generous apartment space accommodates any Chinese food preparation I will undertake.

One fear (“fear” by the way is usually way too strong a word for males in talking about domestic things, but “concern” didn’t quite fit but it’s ok I’m over it) I had in coming was if I’d be able to make friends. I know many a young adult who struggle to establish themselves because making friends with people twice your age in a borough filled with immigrants while on a consistent work schedule is not easy. Christians have it a little easier because of an immediate network and spiritual kinship (Hebrews 10:25), but without immediate family in the same unit it’s still very difficult to feel “at home.”

Enter the Puerto Ricans. In my apartment building there resides an extremely hospitable Puerto Rican family who have been New Yorkers longer than I have been alive. I was asking fellow tenants basic questions about getting cable internet, and the next thing I knew, I was in a Puerto Rican apartment drinking French press coffee, Portuguese Porto, whiskey, Argentinian wine, Long Islands, and green tea while talking about life, marriage, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” until midnight. Unbelievably hospitable. Us Chinese, with thousands of years of history, need to learn again what it means to be human, because as far as I see, the average Chinese immigrant in Queens treats complete strangers sub-dirt.

I look outside my window overlooking the courtyard, and our Russian super is trying to build community as well, getting involved with whatever he can. Last night, the neighbors and I went out to see the city’s most not-so-secret secret skyline by Long Island City – and it was unobstructed New York skyline magic. Queens is magic, and hopefully I can pay it back by learning a Russian and Spanish phrase or two.

Filed under esteem him for he has done great things

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Sexual Assault: What Does the Hook-Up Culture Have To Do with It?

Article arguing that consent-centered policy is not strong enough for a systemic cultural issue —

"If not for the hook-up culture, “rape culture” could never have acquired its current foothold at our universities.

First, it creates a setting in which it is very easy for people who want to do bad things to do them undetected.

Second, a sexual ethic that centers on the pursuit of pleasure and personal gratification and reduces the significance of a sexual act to that of a scrabble game—mere recreation—teaches that persons are means to an end.

Third, the language that we millennials use for discussing sexual boundaries, constraint, and consensual interaction has all but disintegrated.”

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Normal Christianity #2

Most days I feel my set-apart-ness slipping away. I laugh at the same jokes and complain the same complaints as everyone else. Sometimes though it takes an oldie-but-a-goodie to bring you back to what it’s all about.

On the train ride back from Connecticut my phone decides to play Hillsong United’s Salvation Is Here. Wow, I couldn’t imagine how refreshing that was. It was surprising given my recent foray into the works of John Owen, whose writing can only be described as having a lumbering literary gait. But this song makes its point clear and fast: God has brought salvation in our midst (Matthew 16:18, 28:20, Luke 17:21).

No other religion has this claim, that salvation is not just a future thing but a very near present thing. Nay, salvation is a person.

It is this person, Jesus Christ, who will be with us until the end of the age, and all the while we are his instruments in proclaiming the gospel. By this gospel will the kingdom be ushered and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. Ye Christian brethren, may our lives reflect the courage worthy of these promises.

Filed under creator redeemer super jesus

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Normal Christianity #1

One retreat that impacted me like none other was Bethel’s winter retreat in 2009, titled, “Christianity A to Z.” Pastor Hank blew open my mind, and soon after my heart, to the way God revealed the person of Jesus in every story of the Bible, from Abraham to Moses to David. This supposedly basic Christian teaching was a hard thing to swallow, in large part because of its peculiar absence in my initial Christian years when I would ostensibly be learning the “basics.”

And so it is with all “basic” Christian teachings. We never stray too far from our baby “spiritual milk” (1 Corinthians 3:2) because sin is never too far in grounding us (Genesis 4:7).

All that was to really preface this first reflection in how I am attempting to live out normal Christianity in my maturation to full independence. I mean “independence” in the sense that the student environment provided many guards and brackets that shielded worldly temptations I now face, and “normal” in the sense of a “basic” Christian walk.

The first basic principle I must remind myself overandoverandover again is that every individual — of the thousands that surround me everyday — is in part a reflection of the eternal God (Genesis 1:27). Let’s start with that. The implications are as such:

  • There is a beauty about every individual because of God’s own beauty.
  • There is a respect due unto every individual because of God’s own authority.
  • There is an infinite value ascribed to each individual because of God’s sovereign purposes.

This principle has been most effective in my everyday relational attitude. How can I disrespect any individual if God himself is imaged in him? How can I not have compassion on any individual if God sacrificed his son to bring him close? Innate human dignity is an epic level-setter that vertically silences my righteous heart and molds it into a vessel of grace for its daily horizontal transactions.

Filed under creator redeemer super jesus

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What Coworkers and I Laugh About #2

Let me totes end this non-series series.

  • Using a rolling backpack at work elicits the same responses as it would in middle school.

  • I am famous among security guards in Frisco because I badged incorrectly. I also invoke memories of the Vietnam War.

  • A lesson in resource estimates: “Throwing more resources in this situation would be as useless as telling a pregnant woman that she can cut her lead-time from 9 months to 4 with help from another person.”

Filed under banal lycée anecdotique

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What Coworkers and I Laugh About #1

Having come off the blocks into the stretch of white collar work, I find myself struggling in one particular area of communication: being politically correct. Far too much time twining with a like-minded collective at Penn and not enough spent with people of other backgrounds. That said, it’s been a fun learning process in learning to communicate “professionally.”

When asked about one associate, I responded to what I thought was unoffensive: “He is a river that flows the other way.” The coworkers laughed at the poetry and roundaboutness. Now to think of other pseudo-Native American names for each of them as well.

Filed under banal lycée anecdotique

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He humbled Himself, to exalt us; He made Himself a servant, to set us free; He became poor, to enrich us; He was sold, to buy us back; a Captive, to deliver us; Condemned, to procure our pardon; He was made a curse, that we might be blessed; the Oblation for sins, for our justification; His face was marred, to re-beautify ours; He Died, that we may have life. In such sort, that by Him, hardness is softened; wrath appeased; darkness made light; iniquity turned into righteousness; weakness is made strength; despair is consoled; sin is resisted; shame is despised; fear is emboldened; debt is paid; labor is lightened; Sorrow is turned into joy; Misfortune into blessing; Difficulties are made easy; Disorder made order; Division into union; Ignominy is ennobled; Rebellion subjected; Threat is threatened; Ambush is ambushed; Assault assailed; Striving is overpowered; War is warred against; Vengeance is avenged on; Torment tormented; Damnation damned; Destruction destroyed; Hell burned up; Death is killed; Mortality changed to immortality; In short, pity has swallowed up all misery; and Goodness all wretchedness; For all those things, which used to be the arms with which the Devil combated us, and the sting of death, are, to draw us forward, turned into instruments from which we can derive profit.
John Calvin in Christ the End of the Law
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