What is Good?

A wealthy young man once came to a Teacher and asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

Jesus answered him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?”

“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me.”

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1/2 Marathon Update: COMPLETED

Yesterday marked a (subjectively) significant first-time achievement – I managed to finish the San Francisco Half Marathon event with a respectable time!

Pre-race worries

In terms of training, I had only reached 7 miles on more than one occasion. On one occasion, maybe about 5-6 weeks prior to the race, I managed to hit 8 miles, but was never able to reach that distance again due to pain in my left knee. Two weeks before the event I went on a 6 mile run and the pain in my knee persisted for the next 2 days (not sore pain, but slightly more acute whenever I would bend/extend). In addition, that was the first run I went on with new running shoes, and I developed two sizable blisters on the bottoms of my feet around the arch area. Then 5 days before the event, I ran a 5k loop on a treadmill, and I couldn’t even complete it without the blister burn  and the knee pain coming on again.

So yeah, I wasn’t too psyched. I didn’t really want to finish a race by hobbling over the finish line, or worse, cop out somewhere in the middle. I ordered a knee brace and had it shipped using my amazon prime free trial and went on one last short 2 mile run before the day of the race. Fortunately, no pain or blister burn, but after all it was only 2 miles…

Race!

Waking up at 4:45 am was no fun, especially since I couldn’t fall asleep from anticipation until past midnight. Fortunately I wasn’t feeling too sleepy when we got to the start location and had plenty of time to warm up and stretch before the approximate start time of 6:30 am.

Then it started! I think I paced myself quite well and the beginning of the course was actually mostly flat. Mile 1 seemed to pass by with ease and this was definitely a good sign for me. Even by mile 3 I wasn’t exhaling out of my mouth. And by mile 4, the golden gate bridge was in sight (although it was a bit deceiving because it appeared to be much closer than it really was). Unfortunately, I started feeling the blister burn and groaned in my head, “Ohhh mannn…already??” My left knee also started feeling some stress but not pain and I began to worry that by the half way mark I’d be screwed.

Then I literally started praying and asking God to give me the strength to finish, fully aware that my request was insignificant and completely non-urgent in the greatest sense, but acknowledging that even the energy and stamina that I already possess is from God anyways. And if it turns out that I could finish respectably and not become crippled with fatigue and exacerbated blisters, I could say with confidence that I relied on God. I mean seriously…if I was crippled during a 7 mile training run (honest-to-goodness could not bear to jog because of the pain), and could already start feeling pain after less than 3 miles on a treadmill with a knee brace, how could I expect to finish 13 miles???

So with that mindset I kept pace as I drew nearer to the bridge. A short distance before reaching the bridge, I took a brief detour to the toilet partially for physical comfort but more for mental preparation for crossing the bridge.

Anyways, running on the golden gate bridge was awesome. Even at that point (between mile 5 and 6) I was still feeling pretty fresh muscle-wise and cardio-wise, and that gave me a nice confidence boost. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad! I guess my little bit of training went a really long way!” I would recant this thought later on towards the end of the race, but nevertheless, it felt great to reach the other side. I took a 2-3 minute stretch break and ate some GU energy gel which I never had before but figuring it could only help. Then I asked for some bandaids at the medic table for my blisters, which I think was a great decision. After stretching and applying the bandaids, I think I felt the most pumped during the whole race, preparing to cross back over the bridge. This was the part where I turned my hat backwards because I am so cool :p

At some point as I ran back across the bridge I saw the marker for mile 9 and at this point I was like “SWEET! Only 3 more miles to go!” Then after several minutes I realized, “Oh wait..4 miles..but STILL SWEET!” I had surpassed my personal longest distance ever run! My body seemed to realize it too because my quads started feeling the symptoms of cramping, at which point I thought, “Uh oh…I should’ve stretched these during the break.” I stopped briefly on the bridge to stretch them. This was the first of several mini stretch breaks I would take until the end. Then I ran again and saw the back of someone’s shirt; it read, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” I thought, “Wow, that’s an awesome quote.” Feeling more pumped again, I ran past the person, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “I like your shirt!”

Mile 10 came around and I was like, “Okay, I can do this. This time only 3 more to go!” Unfortunately this last part of the race was the most difficult – the rolling streets of San Francisco. Cardio-wise I felt okay, but my muscles were really starting to fatigue and on the verge of cramping up. The inclines were not helping at all. I took a brief walking and stretching respite at every remaining water/cytomax stand. At one point I had to go to the side walk to stretch out before tackling the next incline. It was brutal, but I was still feeling pumped and determined to keep going.

Finally mile 12 passed, but I was already at my limit, jogging pretty slowly and switching to speed walking every now and then. I wanted to “conserve” energy for a finishing sprint but I really didn’t see how that would be possible in my state. Then the number of cheerers and supporters started increasing and I heard someone say, “You’re almost there! Only half a mile to go; it’s just right around the corner!” That really helped, although I was still pretty much hobbling over the last incline. I told myself I wasn’t going to start my last push until I could see the finish line, so until then I jogged and took the last remaining opportunities to stretch.

Then I saw it – the white banner that could only either be the finish line or some cruel joke. I have no idea how, but I started sprinting, taking long and full strides, hoping my legs would not lock and cause me to collapse and scrape my face on the pavement. I heard the cheerers clapping and calling my name (it’s on my bib). And then, with a huge sigh of relief, I crossed the finish line.

Post Race

It’s really interesting how the human body can muster up the adrenaline and energy to make that last push, but I was definitely paying for it after the race. It seemed like every major muscle in both my legs were about to lock up – my quad, my hamstring, my calf, my shin. But hey, I had finished and was eating food so I was feeling pretty good about myself, and of course, thanking God.

After the race, we (my sisters, brother-in-law, and his sister) had japanese ramen for lunch (delicious) and watched Despicable Me (hilarious). Then we went home, and I crashed around 6:30pm and got up 12 hours later. Sleep is good :)

So for the curious and those of you who made it this far, here are the course maps (click on 1st Half Marathon and look for the green path along the top boundary with mile marker numbers). My finishing time was 2 hours 22 minutes and 6 seconds (a little under 11 min/mile). You can see the race results and look up Bib #33468 to see how I did compared to everyone else.

Nuggets of Wisdom and Laughter from RETS

Some bite-sized teachings and laughs from RETS. I figure this is faster and easier than writing actual prose.

Nuggets of Wisdom

Good classroom management is invisible.

Effective teachers are proactive rather than reactive, understanding that the only variable they can control is themselves.

The good shepherd goes through the gate, walks before the sheep, and gives His life for the sheep. (John 10:2,4,11).

Don’t just be an instructor; be a father (1 Cor 4:14-15). Love is not bound by time or space.

There is always someone who is looking for God, and someone who is about to give up on God.

We are all story-tellers if the story is personal. Make the RE lesson personal, otherwise it’s difficult to make it personal for our students.

There’s no shortcut to building a relationship with students (or with God). We need to put in the time.

Forgiveness is a choice. Pray for those who persecute you.

Cast your bread into the waters (Ecc 11:1); doing so for God, for the church, is surely a sacrifice worth making.

Go into the classroom as if going into battle; the battle against Amalek was won with teamwork (Moses, Aaron and Hur, and Joshua with the Israelites). It’s the same for our students’ battles (RE teachers, parents, and students).

Nuggets of Laughter

DL reading Mt 11:25:

I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to the baby! (the verse really reads “revealed them to babes”).

DL talking about courtship in public places.

How can you commit fornication in the McDonald??? It’s impossible!

DL compares marrying someone who has had premarital sex to…

It’s like you receive a present that is very nicely packaged and neatly wrapped. And while you unwrap it you build up so much anticipation and excitement. And then when you finally open it up, you realize… “Oh…it’s used.”

DL encourages us to never stay in a room with just someone of the opposite sex and with the door closed.

In this situation, it’s so easy to fall into temptation. If you need to speak with someone of the opposite sex, and you go into a room and close the door, that is definitely a nono……If you can keep this principle, then you have no probl-…I don’t want to say “no problem,” but you reduce the risk!

DL talking about one time he was preparing Holy Communion in Nigeria:

When I finished making the unleavened bread, I ask one brother to take care of it while I prepared something else. And when he gave it back to me I saw that the bread was half eaten. And I got a little angry, because I told him to watch over the bread, and not to eat it! But he looked at me very sad and said, “I’m sorry…but I have not had anything to eat for few days now, so when I saw the bread, I could not help it and I just broke off part of it and ate it…” And when I heard that…I feel so sorry, and the tears begin to fall in my eyes…….But I learned one thing oh! I will never let the hungry man take care of the bread anymore.

WK acting as a Pr. Ko in the mock RE Year End Presentation:

In the name of Jesus Christ, I speak a few words as a mock preacher, but not as a false teacher.

During sister I’s practicum, T, D, DY, and I were acting as J1 students. At the start of the lesson, I reminds us that when two or three gather in Jesus’ name, then Jesus is in the midst of us, thus we need to be respectful because Jesus is sitting with us. In the middle of class, T shifts in his chair and it makes a squeak noise akin to a fart. The following “misbehavior” ensues:

Me: (whispering)”Eww T…did you just fart?”

T: “Nooo..it was just my chair!”

*fake J1 immature giggles

DY: “I think I smell it!”

*some genuine snickering and snorts

Teacher I: “Guys! Remember, Jesus is sitting here!”

DY: “He probably smells it too.”

*full blown laugher from everyone, including PC, the instructor/grader. We had to bite all of our tongues to keep ourselves from “misbehaving” the rest of the class.

During closing ceremony, it’s El Monte and Cerritos churches’ turn to send a representative to give a reflection. T gets put on the spot and goes up to the podium without any notes:

T: “As you can see, I have no paper. And the reason is probably precisely what you guys are thinking…..I’m unprepared. Hopefully none of you guys are ever in this situation when you teach RE.”

Some more can be found on 0lgie’s entry, which was the inspiration for this post.

RE Teacher Mission Statement

Brief reflection on RETS. Maybe more to come later.

Psalm 22:3 states

But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.

Lord, I’m sorry. Given the weaknesses I have and the mistakes I have made, my praise is hardly fit to be Your throne. Yet, somehow, somewhere in the depths of your mercy and love, it can still be acceptable, if from now on, I can accomplish what You have charged me:

But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me…

…strengthen your brethren.

The following is a slightly modified version of what I wrote as my RE Teacher Mission Statement. Now the world can keep me accountable for it.

I want to be a bridge that serves to connect my students to God; one that does not seek glory or praise, but only the fulfillment of its purpose.

I want to be a good shepherd who loves the sheep and puts the welfare of his sheep above himself, even when it is most difficult.

I want to live an authentically holy life within and without, and be a good example for my students, especially when they are not around.

I want to know God and His Word deeply, so I can help and counsel my students in their doubts, fears, and trials.

And I want to do all of that not by my might, nor by my power, but by His Spirit.

My Teeth

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had issues with my teeth. I wasn’t so religious with oral hygiene but I loved to eat candy (the latter, unfortunately, still holds true). Every time I went to the dentist I would have cavities to fill. And some of them were quite large cavities too, to the point where the dentist could see my nerve after clearing out all the decay. Well, after years have passed, it turns out my old cavities have decided to cause some problems for me now.

Instead of typing out all the details of my dental problems, suffice it to say that I’m in the process of getting a number of procedures done for one particular tooth that once had a very large cavity, and in the past 4 years or so has had a history of severe toothache. This week I just had a non-surgical root canal done on it, where the endodontist saw a lot of decay inside the tooth. One of the roots is also infected so I’ll be getting a “simple surgery” done tomorrow (root-end resection). And after that, I’ll need my dentist to do some restorative process for the damaged tooth, most likely a crown.

And to think, all this could possibly have been avoided if I had just gotten a root canal as a kid. What does this mean? Well, you always need to get to the “root” of the problem to resolve it. Harhar. Anyways.

Thank God that Oracle provides great insurance coverage, and that when I was making selections I opted for “Comprehensive Dental Protection” instead of the preventative plan. My plan covers 80% of costs so my out of pocket expense for all these root canals and crowns and this root-end resection is still bearable (a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand).

Yesterday as I was thinking about how fragile my teeth were and the importance of regular oral hygiene and maintenance, somehow I drew a connection to the basic belief of salvation (I’m studying for RETS haha).

The basic belief of TJC says that salvation is by grace through faith, but members need to actively pursue holiness and live a godly life. The second clause is meant to explicitly refute the notion that simply believing in Jesus is sufficient to be saved, which is a very incomplete understanding of Romans 10:13. The notion can also encompass the “once saved, forever saved” concept – namely, that the moment you believe and confess your faith in Jesus, you’re saved. Aside from all the other verses that prove this to be incorrect, the notion really doesn’t make sense because it hangs so literally on the phrase “will be saved” or “shall be saved.”

Now for the analogy to dental care. I have a tooth that has a big cavity. Obviously if I leave it be, it’s going to die. But my dentist essentially tells me, “If I give you a filling or perform a root canal, your tooth will be saved.” Great! Does that mean that once he does the filling or root canal, my tooth is permanently guaranteed to be “saved” and invulnerable to decay and death in the future? Does it make sense for me to think, “My tooth is saved; now I don’t have to worry about keeping it clean or brushing it or flossing around it?”

Ahhh…if only it were so :p

In other random news, on Tuesday, I was at the Costco next door to buy some fruit (Ann told me the blueberries and grapes were on sale, woohOo!), and I saw this computer desk. Now I hadn’t bought any new furniture since moving here (except for a $20 book shelf from target, which hardly counts) so my “workstation” setup was pretty ghetto. But now, right in front of me was a decent-looking $99 solution without any shipping assistance necessary. So on Tuesday night I ended up not only assembling the desk, but also completely rearranging my room to accommodate it and set it up for immediate use. I was so pleased and excited about it, that I decided to work from home yesterday just to use it.

And today, something miraculous happened involving anti-gravity chairs that my sister Whei ordered from Kohl’s. I want to look more closely when I get home, but it’s definitely very…qi miao.

Lastly, next week I will be away for RETS (Religious Education Teachers Seminar). I’m trying to always remind myself of the importance and weight of this holy work…I’m wary of that verse that says teachers will be judged more strictly. Hopefully my life can be worthy of this position.