logo: JMBzine - published by James M. Branum since 1995

September 1999

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Editor's Note

Written January 15, 2022:This content was written many years ago and is shared by the author as a historical record. The author's views on many subjects have changed over the decades and very old content likely does not represent the current beliefs of the authors.

I have also added some contextual links (often to old websites via archive.org) and notes to these old posts. The newer comments/explanations are marked in marked as such.

Special thanks to Archive.org for preserving so much of this content and making it possible for me to recover it. Please consider donating to them if you can. FYI, the original version of this page can be found at: on archive.org.

From September 1999: Journal of JMB

This is the beginning of a journal I will be keeping. This probably won't be anything deep or anything, but will just be the random thoughts that I happen to be having. Some of this will be pretty personal, so I ask that you not copy this or quote me out of context. You are certainly welcome to link to this page however. (I am not afraid of being open and putting stuff out there, but I am concerned that someone might take one paragraph out of context and make me out to being something that I am not.)

Also, another disclaimer: If you are offended by someone talking about faith, you probably won't like my journal. Secondly, if you are a Christian and don't like to hear someone talking about the doubts and struggles they have, you also won't like this journal. I would encourage you to keep reading, but I do want to forwarn you, in case you're easily offended.

Tuesday - Sept. 7, 6:50 a.m.

Don't ask me why I am still up.

I should be asleep right now, as I have an ICS student association officers' meeting at 11, but I am just on this kick of not sleeping, until I finally collapse with exhaustion. Then of course, I'll wake up dead to the world totally wiped out, but having to go somewhere and do something. Of course, the smart thing would be to go to bed early the next night, but no, not me. I'll start to feel energeized as the evening comes, and by night I'll be staying up late again. Oh well.

Oh well, moving on to other random thoughts... It has been rather wierd lately, with the whole subject of age. For most of my life I have wanted to be older. There was always something more to look forward to, something bigger or cooler that I couldn't do until I was x years old. Now, though I am starting to change my mind. Maybe it's because I'm hanging all of the time on that 7ball forum with a lot of high school aged people, but I am struck with the fact that I am becoming old and set in my ways. I especially see this when I start to look around at other peoples' websites. Mine just look old and cluttered, while their's are sleek and up-to-date. The creativity of these people blow me away.

Maybe I'm just too tired, and that is what is making me think so wierdly. Maybe it's heartbreak of love that won't be. Who knows, but I'm going to bed before I start sounding too philosophical.

On a side note, if someone knows when to give up on love, let me know. It would make my life a lot easier. Then again, maybe I don't want to know. Maybe if I don't have accept reality, I'm happier. --- Ok, I'm going to bed. My late night thoughts are starting to depress me. ;-)

Tuesday - Sept. 7, 4:41 p.m.

Well I did get up in time for the meeting, but no one showed up but me. So, I took a nap on the ultra-comfortable blue couches at the campus center. I woke up off and on, but finally got up to take on the day at around 3. :-)

I then went and talked to the campus minister (@ LFC) for a while, and then went to talk to the financial aid administrator at ICS. Hopefully one of these days everything will get worked out. Then back home to work on the UA website. (Finally, it's finished, unless they decide to make more changes.) After I finish writing this journal entry, I'm going to go mail my financial aid stuff off, and then go to upload the UA website and the redesigned personal page.

Finally, at 7, I get to go to Hope Group! YEAH!!!

(2022): 1. LFC is an abbreviation for "Longhorns for Christ."

2. "Hope groups" were cell/small groups that were part of Hope Chapel of Austin, TX.

Tuesday - Sept. 7, 11:21 p.m.

Hope Group was great. I definitely needed to see everyone again, and have that kind of worship experience. Now, I'm just wasting time. While I'm thinking about it, I saw an interesting website last night on the implications of the movie, The Matrix with regards to the motif of Matrix as Messiah.

When I saw the movie, I certainly spotted quite a few spiritual parallels, but after looking at this website, I want to see it again. Just a few of the more interesting points: (If you haven't seen the movie, don't read any further) Neo was the savior of the people of the "real world," Cyper was the Judas, Morpheus was a John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Neo. There was even a resurrection scene, and a final ascension of Neo.

Also, the most important element of the movie to me, is the concept of the real world vs. the world we experience with our senses. This has some major theological overtones the more you think about it.

While, I don't neccesarily want to give a blanket endorsement of the movie, I do think that this movie is definitely worth watching. Also, you can't beat the incredibly intense choreography and the style. The clothes, the music, the whole package is like candy for the senses. I have heard it described as the cyber-punk parable of the gospel message, and that's not far from the truth.

Wednesday - September 8, 1999, 1:14 p.m.

I am in Christian ethics class right now. I am very, very tired right now.

Wednesday - September 8, 1999, 2:02 p.m.

I am beginning to slowly wake up a little bit. Maybe it's a matter of my metabolism kicking in.

In Ethics today we are talking about an alternative to the 2 types of ethics we previously talked about. (The first two types we talked about were teleological ethic - based on consequences, and the demetological ethic - based on duty or obligation.)

This alternative would be a response-based ethic. This means basically that all of our actions are based first of all on the questions put to us. We respond to our environment.

Secondly we have to interpret our environment. We don't respond to just raw facts. As my prof said, "Life is a response to what we have to interpret."

Three, we act in anticipation of receiving a certain response for our actions, and finally we act in the context of a community that shares the same interpretations.

This whole concept is very interesting . . .

Wednesday - September 8, 1999, 11:32 p.m.

I can't believe how much I have been writing on this stupid thing. Journaling online has definitely been an interesting adventure. I still haven't thought through how much personal info. I'm going to give about my life. On one hand, I like the approach that the author of lemonyellow.com uses. She is for the most part very secretive about her life, doesn't have a pic up, etc. but yet gives interesting little details here and there. On the other hand, I have to wonder if distance and/or anonyminity may create an online persona that is different than the IRL one.

I really want to be open, to pour out my soul to the internet. Yet, the thought of my soul being so transparent to the people I know IRL scares me. Don't ask me why that telling the deep dark secrets of my life to strangers doesn't scare me, but for whatever reason it's the people IRL that I am more likely to put on a mask for.

Oh well. Since my last journal entry, after class I went grocery shopping at Central Market with my friend Kim. It was fun, and I stocked up on all of the neccesities of life. I also ran into lots of Hopeites which was cool. (On a sidenote, I think I might apply at CM. It would seem like a cool place to work, esp. with all of the Hopeites who work and shop there.) After that, I went back home, ate my funky looking french bread that I bought (heated up with butter of course), and then goofed off for awhile.

Finally though, I made it to the University Catholic Center for One Voice. One Voice was a combination open house/reception for many of the different campus ministries at UT, followed by a worship time. (It caught my attention because I saw a flyer that said that Hope Chapel (my church) was one of the sponsors of the event!)It was so awesome to see Christians of different denominations joined together in worship like this. (To imagine a few years ago that I would be singing God's praises in a Catholic church, alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ of many different denominations and faith traitions!

Wow! God is truly at work!

The only sad thing was that there were several people outside passing out literature on why it was wrong for Evangelicals to fellowship with Catholics. Well, I guess it may take some time, but I hope God brings them into this unity as well.

Well back to working on Exit, or my editor will kill me.

Thursday - September 9, 1999, 4:15 p.m.

I'm back in class. The Christian Studies Seminar class ended up having enough folks, so I am back in class. The seminar is on Christianity & Philosophy. I think it will be somewhat interesting, but I am dreading having another 3 hour monster class.

At the point that I left off on from last entry: I was up until 4 am finishing my Exit stuff. I then fixed me a couple of sandwiches, and then went to sleep around 5.

I then woke up around 10, and made some tea. (Some of my last of my Republic of Tea - Glenburn Darjeeling stash) I then went to chapel at 10:30. Then, I got online for awhile, and then grabbed lunch at the LFC Thursday lunch. Then I took off to catch the mass at the Catholic Center.

The mass was really neat. I decided to go again after the service last night, and I really am glad I did. It is still very foreign to me, but in many ways I am liking the liturgical approach and the ingrained patterns of worship. I think I might try to make a habit of going to Mass a few times a week. In general, I just yearn for more "ritual" in my life. (In a sense, what Nouwen talked about when referring to the "Spiritual life."

On the subject of Catholicism and Ecunemicism in general, I have been thinking a lot about how far I should go in reaching out to Christians of other religious traditions. While I think there are lots of things that can be compromised, there are just some non-negotiatbles.The question is, what are the non-negotiables?

First and foremost, the kerygma, the gospel message is non-negotiable. (Jesus came in the flesh, he was crucified, and he rose from the dead.) Past there, I'm not sure. I have a few serious disagreements with Catholic theology, yet they would not diagree with the kerygma. I'm not sure on this issue, but I will be praying and thinking about it.

September 14, 1999, 12:19 a.m.

Well a lot has happened since I last wrote in my journal. To begin with though, I am at work. I have real job now. . . well sort of.

On Friday, Jake was meeting a guy at Player's to interview with a guy from Zimco Security. The job was being an unarmed night security guard at sorority houses. From what he said about it, it sounded like a good job for me, so I showed up at the interview with him. The boss from Zimco drove us out to their office in NW Austin, we filled out lots of paperwork (I actually have to get a license from the state to work in security if you can believe that. $75 license fee! But at least they take it out a little bit at a time from my paycheck.

So anyway I got the job. I'll be working overnights on Mondays, Thursdays, and also one weekend day per month. My shift runs from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.! Thankfully, I have no classes on Tuesdays or Fridays, so I will get to sleep in.

So far I like the job. Of course, I've only been working for 3-1/2 hours (it's 12:36 now), so it is early to tell. It is pretty cool though, because I wear a uniform and a badge and everything. (I have to get a pic taken in uniform. I look like a cop.) The other nice thing is that I can work on outside stuff, study, read, even work on my laptop. As far as my responsiblities, I just have to do rounds every 45 minutes, escort girls to their cars, and keep guys from going upstairs.

As to the other things going on in my life since my last journal entry, I went on the spring retreat with Hope Fellowship this week. It was awesome, but I will tell about it later tonight. (or rather this morning)

September 14, 1999, 3:07 a.m.

Boy this place is quiet. I can't believe that I still have three hours to go. Well I have to go and do rounds in a couple of minutes. It is so quiet, that the sound of the keys on my laptop sounds thunderous in comparison.

September 14, 1999, 4:55 a.m.

I just got done with my rounds again. I counted and tonight I will do rounds 12 times. That is like walking 40 blocks! It doesn't seem that far though, as I only do them every 45 minutes. At between by 3:55, and my 4:40 rounds, I had a wonderful quiet time. I started by praying through a doxology I found out a Catholic prayer book. I then read Psalm 84, and read a devotional reading out of another book on that Psalm. (I love Psalm 84, especially the part that says, "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand outside." What a statement!)

Well I guess this is as good of a time as any to tell about the Hope college retreat. It was awesome! We got there shortly before lunch time on Saturday. (I was totally blessed because Alan loaned me some dinero so I could go.) After registering, we ate lunch in their cafeteria. (btw the camp was Latham Springs Baptist Encampment. It is about 12 miles west of West, TX, near Waco.) Lunch was another cool blessing, because it was brisket and sausage with bbq sauce. Do to my poverty as of late, I hadn't eaten much meat lately, so it was so cool to get to enjoy a meal like that. (esp. when it's all you can eat, baby!)

OK, enough rapsodizing about meat... anyway after lunch, we gathered together for annoucements and some Hope group activity time. Then, we had our rec. fun time. We had our mud pits. TONS of Fun! I have never been so dirty in my life.

After I finally got somewhat clean, then we had supper, and then it was time for worship. This is the highlight of the retreat. The worship was just very intense, and you could feel the presence of God. Most of it is hard to explain, but one part that does stand out in mind was from the song, "Arise Oh God." In one of the last verses, it goes like this..

Do not forget (hear our cry)
the voice of your enemies (hear our cry)
Rise up with a roar (in their midst)

At this point, the song was just in an incredible point, and we were singing with such intensity, and people were praying in the Spirit, and suddenly I just felt this enormous burden. I almost started crying, because it was almost like I was hearing the voices of the persecuted church crying out to God, crying out for justice for their enemies, and crying out for mercy to be shown for them. In that brief moment, I felt like I was "standing in the gap" for them, and it was so overwhelming, to experience that pain.

It is hard to explain what happened at that moment, except to say that I believe it was God at work. Since then I have really felt like that we as the body of Christ, need to be interceeding like crazy on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Jesus right now.

As we continued to worship, we then moved into another thing. There were a group of intercessors from Hope who were there to pray for anyone and everyone who wanted prayer that night. This time of prayer was so amazing! I had two Godly women pray for me, Overa (not sure how she spells her name), and Martha, and it was just so amazing. While it was not my intent to ask them to pray for this, it just kinda came out that most of my uncertainty about my future has to do with fear of what my parents would think, if I did what I really thought was best.

It was such a comfort for them to pray with me, and to talk with me. As it turned out, Martha also came from a CoC background and understood much of what I was dealing with. I came to a greater understanding that I must trust in God, and He in his right time can turn my family around, but I must do what is right and trust him in the meantime. (Of course that is easier said than done. ;-)

After the worship time was over, I went out by myself, and walked into the woods a little ways where the lights weren't shining and I could see the stars clearly and I just prayed. As I prayed I felt strongly that God would give me the strength to do what was right, and that I should consider more intensive areas of ministry, like maybe Project UT after I graduate. So right now, I am thinking a lot about that. Right now, the big areas that God has given me a heart for and/or given me giftings in are working with college students, and doing stuff online. I'm not sure how all of this is going to work out, but I know I just got to trust in God.

The next day was pretty humdrum, but some cool stuff. I got to be better friends with several folks, and we had some cool Hope Group time. We also had some more very intense worship, and in the worship, we prayed a prayer of commitment, that we were giving this year to the Lord. I know those are big words, but I also know God can help me to do it. I now just have to engage my will to be obedient.

On the way home, we stopped at the Elite Cafe, the place where Elivs ate on the traffic circle in Waco. Most of our Hope Group was there, which was very cool.

Ok, well that's pretty much it. To say the least though, it was a really cool time with the Lord.

The Elite Cafe closed its doors in 2016, but later reopened as Magnolia Table. (see also Texas over time: Waco's Elite Cafe - The 1952 Renovation and Magnolia Table today.)