Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Friday, February 24, 2006

Giving a Hand...or Two

A few of you asked where the hand modeling photos ended up. You can find this one on the Boundless donation page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Life Not Wasted

Po-Wen Ching February 11, 1975-2006

There are people you meet in your lifetime who, though your time with them is brief, leave an indelible impression. Po-Wen Ching was one of those people for me.

I remember Po from my second year of Christian Youth in Action camp in Washington. You couldn’t miss him: outgoing, crazy-fun, loud, happy, on fire. That was my brother Matt’s first year at camp, and we were on a team together teaching a 5-Day Club. Our days were spent teaching kids about Jesus. Each evening we joined with other teens to give testimony and praise God.

Po was a few years older than us, and my brother idolized him. Each night after planned events finished, Po would sit on a picnic table playing worship music. He couldn’t sing to save his life, yet half the camp would gather to worship with him.

My brother tells me that watching Po that week inspired him to learn to play guitar. (“I wanted the girls to flock around me like that.”) Matt is now a worship leader. For me, it was Po’s enthusiasm for reaching people for Christ that was inspiring. He was excited about God. He was not ashamed of the gospel. He understood that life was a means, not an end.

Last night I received a call. My brother told me that Po died on February 11 — his 31st birthday. He collapsed while helping friends move. I am shocked that such a vibrant life was cut short. And yet God has a plan.

And what an example of a life not wasted. Po not only inspired countless teens through his years at Christian Youth in Action. He went on to work for Child Evangelism Fellowship, recruiting workers and missionaries, and building partnerships with other ministries. In fact, the last time I spoke to Po was last year when he called me at work and asked how we could get CEF materials into Dr. Dobson’s hands.

Po had passion. And though his life was relatively short, he used it to the full. We love you, Po. You will be missed.

Child Evangelism Fellowship has established a fund to help Overseas Summer Missions in Po's honor.

[Photo courtesy of Jemery Fo Femery]

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's Snowing!

Unexpected Lesson

Have you ever gone somewhere to discover it was NOT what you expected? Such was my experience in seeing Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake last night. I received an e-mail yesterday that there were inexpensive tickets available to the Tony Award-winning ballet with music by Tchaikovsky. As my friend Melissa and I settled into our cushy third-row seats, I opened my program and glimpsed these words: "Matthew Bourne's controversial all-male Swan Lake." Uh-oh. I glanced around and noted a higher-than-usual number of men — evidently ballet enthusiasts — surrounding us.

I began frantically paging through the program in hopes of discovering the story line, but the lights went down before I gathered any clues. The ballet opened with a young prince, clearly dissatisfied with royal life and shut out emotionally by his mother the queen. He longs for her affection, but she refuses to give it. He goes to a nightclub in search of love but is met with an empty, sexually-charged atmosphere. Hopeless and conflicted, he decides to commit suicide by drowning himself in the lake.

A flock of swans emerge from the lake and the head swan captures the prince's attention. After several dances, in which the aggressive male birds hiss and fight, the head swan and the flock accept the prince. The prince feels he has discovered who he is (gay?), and with that discovery he experiences a sense of freedom. That night at the royal ball, however, a stranger shows up who looks just like the head swan. But this is an imposter. He dances and seduces the women, including the queen.

Tension escalates to a shoot-out, in which a woman is killed. The prince goes crazy and is subjected to psychotherapy. One night the swans appear to him in his bedroom, and the head swan again offers him loving acceptance. The other swans turn on the head swan and kill him, and the prince dies in despair. The queen enters, and, finding her son dead, weeps and holds him with the tenderness he's always longed for. Above the bed we see the swan, holding in his arms the prince, as if ushering him into heaven.

I have to admit. I started writing this blog in a spirit of humor. After all, there was an undoubtedly funny "wardrobe malfunction" near the end of the show, where the prince mooned us for an extended period of time (His pajama pants got pulled down during the final dance sequence and never recovered). And that, added to the shock of the unexpectedly gay storyline, had Melissa and I in tears by curtain call. But the truth is, I find the story very sad and poignant. Everyone searches for love and acceptance. And we all find it in different ways. The thing that stuck out to me, though, was this: The thing that the prince thought would make him free ended up killing him.

We are about to start a series at church on freedom — how the things we think make us free (money, sex, success) can actually lead to greater bondage. And the things we perceive as threats to freedom (law, God's commands, sacrifice) are the things that can truly free us. Like the prince's, our own attempts at freedom are temporarily satisfying and will ultimately fall short. Only a relationship with Christ can give us the acceptance and freedom we long for.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." —John 8:36

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Little Drama

I snapped these photos at drama practice last night. The 605 LIVE team will perform a sketch Saturday to kick off the first week of the "Freedom" series (examining how the 10 Commandments are designed to set us free). If you're in the area, come check it out!


For anyone curious about the hype surrounding the vastly popular network called myspace, check out this article posted today on CNN.

Since becoming a myspace member in September (at the encouragement of my younger sister, Bekah), my experience with the site has been positive. I have reconnected with college friends, enjoyed steady contact with my siblings and made new friends. However, this article points out the "dark side of myspace" — mainly the possibility that as with any online information-sharing forum, myspace can allow those who don't exercise discretion to find trouble.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Blog Homework

Blog school was very informative. Ben from Red State briefed us on the history, methods, tools and proper etiquette of the blogosphere (a new word, too!). My blog homework allowed me to put into words several thoughts I've had on the movie "End of the Spear." If you haven't seen this movie, go see it! It helps to know the back story as the film leaves out some important details (such as the gospel), but it's impression on my heart has lasted all week. OK, here's the test blog (please excuse generalizations):

Last weekend I finally went to see "End of the Spear," a film depicting the deaths of five Christian missionaries to the Waodani tribe in Ecuador's jungle. Since the film's release on January 20, I have heard varying opinions on the film. Among Christians, two opinions seem prevalent. One praises the film for having a quality that lives up to that of typical Hollywood fare. The other condemns is for utilizing the talents of those who do not believe in Christ to tell a blantantly Christian story.

Though the film is written and produced by evangelical Christians including Steve Saint, son of one of the missionaries slain, it stars actors who do not claim to have a relationship with Christ. Notably, the lead role of Nate Saint and Steve Saint is played by Chad Allen, who is openly homosexual.

Al Mohler, though he acknowledges the prevalent involvement of homosexuals in quality art, criticizes this film for casting a homosexual in the lead role, claiming that it is distracting:

The real problem when it comes to Chad Allen [is] Every Tribe Entertainment has chosen an actor — perhaps even the actor — least likely to be able to make us forget him and see Nate Saint. Chad Allen's activism is what many audience members will see, not Nate and Steve Saint.

I, personally, did not find myself distracted by the fact that the actor is a known homosexual. I believe I would have been more distracted had a mediocre Christian actor played the role. While I understand Mohler's point that Allen may have been the actor that would most detract from a Christian story, I have a feeling this would pertain mainly to the Christian community.

As I read about the production of the movie and how the unbelieving actors were impacted by working with Christians, I felt deeply that more good than harm was done through this combining of talent and efforts. The end result was a powerful film to which I would not hesitate taking an unsaved friend. Not to mention, the example of grace and cooperation in the very production of the film reinforces its message that Christ died for all people and even the worst of sinners is worth reaching with love.

License to Blog

Today I'm attending blog training with Boundless. I'm pretty excited to learn some new tricks, meet other writers and start blogging on a larger forum at Boundless. I'll keep you posted on that. (Get it? Posted.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006


So when is the last time you tried to cram into a photo booth with a bunch of people? My college friends and I used to do this every so often (with hilarious, half-face results), but that was five years ago. Last night I joined some friends for pizza at an old-timey place called Fargos. Along with a player piano and video arcade, we discovered a couple of those photo booths. Here we are clockwise from upper left: Mike, Bruce, me and Kelsey. Fun times! If you haven't tried this in a while, it's time. It's time.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday Morning

Friday, February 03, 2006

All I Really Have

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."

— Psalm 73:21-28

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kids and Doctrine

This Friday I'm teaching a workshop at the “Kids Can Know God” conference. My class is about teaching children doctrine. Doctrine is something I have a passion for because I've seen what a difference it can make in lives. Because the word doctrine, like theology or denomination, seems associated with religion (a word that currently has a bad reputation), modern Christians shy away from making it a big deal. But the New Testament is peppered with verses about the importance of doctrine. For example:

1Timothy 4:16: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Titus 1:9: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

So why is it important to teach children doctrine? As I’ve begun my research, I am astounded at some of the statistics. According to Barna research:

  • A person’s moral foundations are generally in place by the time they reach age 9.
  • A majority of Americans make a lasting determination about the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by age 12.
  • In most cases people’s spiritual beliefs — including those on the nature of God, the existence of Satan, the reliability of the Bible, the after-life, the holiness of Jesus Christ, the means of gaining God’s favor and the influence of spiritual forces in a person’s life — are irrevocably formed when they are pre-teens.
  • Out of a national sampling of pastors, church staff and lay leaders, more than four out of five of those leaders had consistently been involved in the ministry to children for an extended period of years prior to age 13.

A lot is at stake here. Furthermore, church attendance alone is not enough. Another Barna study took into consideration the influence of church attendance on a person’s beliefs.

According to the study, "the most shocking outcome of the research was the limited affect long-term church attendance has had on the theological beliefs of Americans. The survey revealed that adults from both the churched-as-children and unchurched-as children segments held similar views — often at odds with biblical teaching — regarding the existence of the Holy Spirit, the reality of Satan, the means to eternal salvation, the perceived accuracy of the Bible, and the holiness of Jesus Christ.

"While churched-as-children individuals were twice as likely as the unchurched-as-children niche to be born again Christians (44% versus 24%, respectively), and significantly more likely to hold an orthodox view of God’s nature (74 % versus 54%), a minority of both groups believe in the existence of the Holy Spirit and of Satan, and a majority believe that eternal salvation can be achieved by doing enough good deeds. Also, only a minority of both camps strongly believed that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches."

I find this both discouraging and hopeful. It feels like a very small window of opportunity. At the same time, it is a tremendous opportunity. Children need to be taught doctrine. Early in their lives they need to learn why they believe what they believe. These distinctives are what give Christians their saltiness and ultimately impact the world. Who are the children in your life? Challenge them with the wonderful truths of God's Word! I'll leave you with this quote:

“Adults essentially carry out the beliefs they embraced when they were young. The reason why Christians are so similar in their attitudes, values and lifestyles to non-Christians is that they were not sufficiently challenged to think and behave differently — radically differently, based on core spiritual perspectives — when they were children. Simply getting people to go to church regularly is not the key to becoming a mature Christian. Spiritual transformation requires a more extensive investment in one’s ability to interpret all life situations in spiritual terms.”

— George Barna