Thursday, December 31, 2009


Tomorrow is the first day of 2010, what we so affectionately refer to as the New Year. People often take this opportunity to start fresh and resolve to be different in the new year. In fact, I was planning on making my New Year's Resolution list right here. It would include the same old things that I resolved to change last year but never did. I would be sincere in these resolutions, wanting to change, but not having it come to fruition the rest of the year. That seems to be the trend with a lot of people. (I'm not knocking New Year's Resolutions, I'm just saying that that's not what I'm talking about on this post. No, the irony does not escape me.)

Instead, I decided to write about the first word of the holiday. New. It's an interesting word. You hear about products that are "New & Improved," which doesn't make sense when you think about it. Making an improvement doesn't make something new; it makes it improved. If I cleaned my room (which is one of my resolutions), I wouldn't say that it's new. If I moved into a house that nobody had ever lived in before and hauled all my junk to a room that no one had ever slept in before, that would be new. For a while.

I think a lot of times I settle for the improved rather than the new. Because that's what I expect. If the dishes are dirty, my thought isn't to buy new ones, but to wash the ones I've used. Improve their current state.

But God doesn't want us to settle for improved. He wants to make us new. I may want to read, "If anyone is in Christ, he is an improved being. The old has been tucked away; behold the improved has been surfaced." That's not what God had Paul write in 2 Corinthians 5:17. He said that anyone in Christ is a "new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." He doesn't just change us until we're better; He makes us new. The old self is gone.

It was about 8 years ago when Christ came into my life to make me new. Sometimes I feel like that new has worn off. Like I got nicked and scratched and banged up until I look like that old 1986 model again. Even if I feel that way, I know Christ doesn't see me like that. That old me is gone, and He doesn't see it, because it's not there.

Lord, I thank You that you didn't come to improve me, but to make me new, so the old me that was Your enemy is dead and gone, crucified and buried, never to return again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009: A broken reflection

So this is my last Monday post of 2009. Please, stop crying. There will be more in 2010 (that's twenty-ten, not two thousand ten). I thought about what I might write about. Favorite/least favorite movies of the year? Ups and downs of 2009? A reflection of what this year has taught me and the life lessons that will last long after the change of years on Friday?

Nah, I'm gonna write about angrily destroying cars.

It's recently come to my attention that I really like songs about girls getting vengeance on their cheating boyfriends by taking it out on their vehicles. I got Glee-The Music Vol. 1 for Christmas, and I was very excited to see that Amber Riley's (Mercedes) performance of "Bust Your Windows" was on the CD. Basically, in the show, Mercedes has a growing crush on Kurt, but Kurt doesn't reciprocate those feelings. She catches him looking at Finn, but assumes that he's looking at Rachel, because Finn's a guy and she (somehow) doesn't know that Kurt's gay. She proceeds to throw a rock through his window and sing one of my favorite songs from the show so far. When he angrily (and high-pitchedly) exclaims, "You busted my windows," she responds with, "Well, you busted my heart."

Another song that deals with this is "Before He Cheats," by Carrie Underwood. I mean, I know I'm supposed to like "Jesus, Take the Wheel," because all Christians who listen to country music have to, but if you say, "Carrie Underwood," my first thought is, "I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up four wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats." It's such a catchy song.

I don't know why I like these songs so much. I guess there's something appealing about busting windows and slashing tires? Really, those are the only 2 songs that deal with destroying vehicles as if they were the unfaithful ones, but I almost feel I like these too much.

Aren't you happy that I'm not an angry female?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
  "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall call his name Immanuel"
   (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
  "Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given;
 and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

Monday, December 21, 2009

The "Virgin" Mary

Don't let the title mislead you. I do believe that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. But I don't think everyone was convinced. I can imagine the conversations that happened when Mary told people about her pregnancy....

Mary: Hey, Joe, can we talk for a minute?
Joseph: Sure, my beautiful, pure, innocent bride-to-be. What about?
M: Oh, boy. Well, you know how babies are usually born after two people have sex?
J: Um, yeah? What are you getting at?
M: Well, um, the craziest thing happened to me. I was visited by an angel and he was all like, "You're gonna have God's Son," and I was all like, "But I'm a virgin," and he was like, "The Holy Spirit's gonna impregnate you, and Elizabeth's pregnant with John the Baptist," and I'm all like, "Let it be." Isn't that crazy that Elizabeth's pregnant at her age?
J: Whoa, hold on, back up a bit. You're pregnant?
M: Yeah, but... the angel... and the Holy Spirit... just read Isaiah 7:14. It explains it somewhat in there.
J: Uh, Mary, I'm not buying this. If you cheated on me, just tell me. I'll understand. I'm a just man and unwilling to see you put to shame. Read Matthew 1:19. It explains it somewhat in there.
M: I'm telling the truth. I am still a virgin, and I'm having Jesus, God's Son.
J: Well if you are, we can't be together anymore.
M: Oh, yes we can. You'll come to your senses. Just wait.

The next morning
J: Hey, Mary, can we talk.
M: Sure my unbelieving husband-to-be. What about?
J: Oh, boy. Well, I had a dream last night, and an angel said, "Take Mary as your wife, 'cuz she's pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and you're gonna call Him Jesus 'cuz he's gonna save people from their sins," and then he quoted Isaiah 7:14. Isn't that crazy that Elizabeth's pregnant at her age?
M: Me:1 You: 0

Now I'm not sure if it went down this way, but you weren't there, so we'll just say that this is legit.

On an unrelated note: Have you ever wondered what would happen if the president rapped about fixing the country? Well, now you know. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


A member of my church was hit with a car this week.

I remember the last time that happened to a member of my church. He was riding his bike on his way to visit his girlfriend on Valentine's Day when a car that he didn't see and that didn't see him met. I remember coming back to campus from work that day and passing by the scene. I was very weirded out when I found out that I knew the guy who was hit.

When I found out, I updated my Facebook status asking people to pray. If I had Twitter at the time, I would have tweeted about it as well. And then, I prayed. I prayed to a God that I know can heal, and asked him to do just that. I had (and still have) never had anyone too close to me die, so going to Bible study and seeing his empty seat would have been excruciating had anything happened to him. After brain surgery and a lovely stay in the hospital, he came back to work, to school, to life.

This week, when I read about another member who got hit, I retweeted, updated my Facebook status, and prayed once again. I don't know who this second guy is. And I don't have to. I know that he is a member of my church—my community—and so I went to God on his behalf.

I love that there is such community that we pray for people that we don't even know, because we are united in the Spirit.

"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." -Ephesians 4:4-6

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unsafe Songs

Another post centered around music. Nobody who knows me is surprised.

For those of you who don't know, I've had my driver's license for the equivalent of a semester of school. To some, that's pretty sad, considering I'll be 24 in just a few weeks. Because I'm still inexperienced, I'm still a fairly bad driver. This can also be blamed on the fact that I learned to drive in Arizona, and Lord knows they don't know how to drive.

So, because I'm a bad driver, it's good to eliminate any distractions that might take me from bad to reckless, or worse, from bad to wrecked. Such as...

The List of Unsafe Songs While I'm Driving!

The Song: "Rawkfist" by Thousand Foot Krutch
The Reason: This fun TFK song came on the radio one time when I was driving. I started using the steering wheel as a drum. I realized fairly early on that that was a bad idea as I was driving up Mill Ave. at night. So I put my hands back on the wheels. But there's the chorus. "Throw up ya rawkfist! Are you feelin' it when I drop this? *boom-boom* That's the sound when the rock hits!" That *boom-boom* is obviously supposed to be a nice fist pump in the air. And so I took my right hand off the steering wheel, and reacted accordingly. I still had my left hand there, so it wasn't too bad, though I do tend to put my body into the fist pump.

The Song: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly
The Reason: This one hasn't happened, which is good. But I can imagine really getting into this song. Feeling really inspirational after the first verse, singing wholeheartedly, "If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there's nothing to it." After that, the chorus, expressing my (misplaced) belief in myself that I can achieve flight and imagine myself running through an open door. And before I know it, neither hand is on the steering wheel. I've chosen to flap my arms, much like a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt being visited by angels who put their (misplaced) attention on baseball. It's good that this hasn't happened. And I hope it won't.

The Song: "Defying Gravity" by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth (from the Wicked Soundtrack)
The Reason: This one is actually what gave me the idea for this list. On Saturday, I was at Sunflower Market, listening to the wicked-awesome Wicked soundtrack. This song came on as I was leaving the parking lot. I was singing along to Elphaba's part, because (a) I think it's awesomer and (b) I've always identified more with her than Galinda/Glinda (I think "unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe" describes me better than "blond"). As I'm approaching the light to make my left turn, I sing along with Ms. Menzel. "It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes... and leap!" As I was singing, I noticed that I actually closed my eyes when I sang that! They weren't closed for very long, but still, I got so into this song that I closed my eyes while approaching another vehicle (albeit, at low speed). I love this soundtrack, but I might have to skip this song to prevent injury to me or others.

The Song: "Stomp" by Kirk Franklin and God's Property
The Reason: I actually haven't heard this song in forever, but I remember this one got my praising the Lord before I knew the Lord. The choir would sing about how amazing Jesus' love is. "It gets me high, up to the sky, and when I think about Your goodness, it makes me wanna... STOMP!" I'm not quite sure how stomping praises the Lord, but I am sure that if I am simultaneously driving and stomping my feet, bad things will happen. Like ramming into the person in front of me. Or hitting that pedestrian. Or driving into a restaurant or something. I'm pretty sure that if that did happen, I wouldn't even be surprised. That kinda thing happens to/around me.

The Song: "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65
The Reason: This song sucks horribly and should die a quick but excruciating death. I think I might intentionally kill somebody if I heard this. The only volume that this song should ever be played at is mute. Did I mention I hate this song?

This week, instead of an unrelated video, I decided to give you a playlist of the songs listed above (except, of course the last one, because I don't hate you). Enjoy!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Antonym of Me

In reflecting on God's love (which I've been doing a lot lately), I can't help but realize that I am completely the opposite of Him. That got me thinking about what it would look like if it were Jason Christ instead of Jesus Christ. I'm 100% positive that Jesus makes a better Christ than I would. Here's how it would have gone down if it were me instead of Jesus:

Me: Hey, Dad. I was thinking about your plan for salvation and... well, I'm not too thrilled about it.
Father: What's wrong with it?
Me: Mainly the beginning and the end. I mean, I'm fine with healing people and sermons on mounts, walking on water, all that jazz. But I'm the King of kings. Why should I be born in a manger. You know those smell. I'm hot stuff. Nothing that was made wasn't made by me. You don't think maybe a nice clean room?
Father: You have to give that up. You can't cling to it. You must become that which you have created.
Me: OK, fine, I'll be young and won't remember it anyway. But the end... well, I guess it's not technically the end since I'll be resurrected, but I don't want to be flogged and beaten to within an inch of my life, carry my cross, and then get nailed to it. Is that necessary? What's wrong with the sacrifices that you accept now?
Father: Nothing.
Me: Then why do I have to be the Lamb?
Father: Only you can die once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring them to me.
Me: But the cross? It's inhumane. Why can't I take the sins of the world on my deathbed when I'm 80? Why do I have to suffer so much?
Father: Only your blood can wash away their sins.
Me: What have they done to deserve this? They lie. They steal. They lust. They hate. They kill. They worship money. They lift themselves higher than you. They all--like sheep--have gone astray. Each of them has turned to his own way. And you are laying their iniquity on me?
Father: You're right. They don't deserve it. They deserve death and hell. But I love them too much. That's why I'm sending you to take the wrath for them.
Me: But don't you love me?
Father: More than I can say. You are my son, my only son, with whom I am well pleased. I love you more than what they even know about love. They have a small glimpse of a father's love for his son. I'm going to demonstrate my love for them in that, while they were still sinners, I sent my Son to die for them. They might not deserve it, but because I love them, they're worth it.

I for one am glad that Jesus is so vastly different from who I am, and that He makes us like Him. And I am amazed that God loves us so much, though we are evil, that He give His Son to bring us to Him. Thank you, Father.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2Corinthians 5:21

Monday, December 7, 2009

Trading my faith for Faith Hill

It was about this time 5 years ago that I started listening to country music. It is a surprise to approximately 0% of you that I love music, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I would often have the radio on in my dorm room. I didn't have a roommate to object and I didn't have (read: acknowledge) any homework that might better take up my time, so I listened to the radio quite a bit. It was usually Air 1, since we know that Christian music is what maintains my salvation. Towards the end of my first semester at ASU, I had a lot of studying to do for finals and so of course I listened to the radio that much more (did I mention that I got a 2.5 that semester?). I'm a fan of Christmas music, so what better to listen to than Christian radio to hear about the birth of our Lord?

Country music, that's what. I, as well as Christian author and blogger Jon Acuff, consider country music and Christian music to be cousins. You can hear Carrie Underwood ask Jesus to take the wheel, Brooks and Dunn find truth in words written in red, and God bless Rascal Flatt's broken road. There's tons of Christian imagery in country music, so much so that if one were to leave Christian music, it'd be the easiest way to ease into the world of secular music.

The reason I originally left the world of Christian music that December was because of the Christmas music I was hearing. Sure I got some "What Child is This?" and "Angels We Have Heard on High." There was even an original Christmas song by Toby Mac. But there was other stuff that I heard on the radio. Stuff like "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)." That song talks about Santa Claus being on his way. There's also "Sleigh Ride," a song about an outing in that fictional white stuff they call snow. I have no problem listening to these on mainstream radio. But (*CLICHE WARNING*) Jesus is the reason for the season. Why are Christians not getting this? Why are we singing about our anticipation for a fictional fat guy rather than our Lord?

I've heard it already this year on Air 1 and K-Love, so I think I'm gonna have to resort to listening only to my iPod until mid-January. Which I think I'm alright with.

And now, for the unrelated video of the week, I give you David After Dentist.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I’ve moved around quite a bit in my life, and I pretty much hate it. I envy those who grew up in the same house that they were brought to when they first came from the hospital. I lived in the same apartment in West-ish Phoenix for about 10 years, 10 months in Avondale, an apartment in South Phoenix for about 4 or 5 years. Since then, I haven’t lived in the same place for more than a year. Moving sucks because you have to pack up all of your worldly belongings and put them into a vehicle, unload them into a new place, and hope that you don’t repeat it anytime soon.

Even though I hated moving, it was still nice to know that I had a home. Even if home moved to a different location in a matter of a week, the new place was still home. I could give my address, unpack, claim a room, have a place that was mine or my families.

I haven’t had that in a long time. I haven’t had a place that I consider home since I moved out of my apartment at the end of August. I headed out to San Diego and knew I wasn’t going to be there for long. Now I’m living in Mesa, AZ. At both of those locations I was told to make myself at home, but it’s hard to consider them home. Not because I’m living with a family that I’m not related to, but because when I was in San Diego, I knew it wasn’t going to last long, and here in AZ, I’m hoping that it’s not too long. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very appreciative of the Hagstrom’s hospitality in letting someone who they didn’t even know live with them rent-free. They’ve been a huge blessing to me. But God really changed my heart about moving out to San Diego (I was very reluctant at first). My heart is still in San Diego. Because I want to be there, it’s hard for me to call here home. I don’t want to say this because it’s cliché and cheesy, but home is where the heart is.

Wow, this has ended up being kind of a downer of a post. I'm sorry about that. It's like Jesus told us in John 16:33, that we will have trials in this world. But we can take heart, because He has overcome the world.

Don't forget to check out my other blog, where I reflect on fighting the battle from afar. God bless.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The (Near) Thanksgiving Day Massacre

I lost my camera on Thanksgiving Day. There was a good chunk of time when there was a search party, because I wasn’t about to leave California without my $200 camera. There were three different ways that people saw this apparently.

My Point of View
There were a bunch of kids around who weren’t really helping me look. My nephew Warren was looking in the freezer, while my niece Anaiya suggested, “Maybe it’s in the cake.” I figured that they were just going to be in the way, so I told them to sit down and be quiet. One of them said they were cold, so they put the blanket over themselves. I was being nice while looking for my camera.

The Kids’ Point of View

I didn’t verify any of this, but I’m pretty sure that this is what they were all collectively thinking: “Man, he’s serious. He’s making us sit down, all in a row. Maybe we can chat it up while he looks? Oh, no, he has his belt. Did he say something about a rod? I don’t know what that it is, but he sounds serious. I guess we can’t talk. He’s got that wild look in his eyes. I think he might just kill one of us. Let’s not say anything. He’s being mean while looking for his camera.”

The Other Adults’ Point of View
“Oh, my goodness, look at him. He has all the kids lined up, oldest to youngest, on the couch. They’re not saying anything. They were talking, but they shut up real quick when he got that belt. Did you hear him? He said, ‘The Bible says to use a rod.’ He’s going to start torturing them. Just wait. He’s gonna throw a bucket of cold water on them, get in their face, and ask, ‘Where’s the camera?’ He’s going to get information from them one way or another. There’s no mercy. Chrissie’s only four. What’s she gonna tell him? Oh, snap. We need to look harder or else we’re next. We’re not going to escape. His mom’s the only one safe. The rest of us might not survive Thanksgiving. He’s gone crazy while looking for his camera.”

I still say I was being nice. Everyone else blew it out of proportion. Anyway, we all laughed at it after my camera did appear again. And nothing of mine disappeared for the remainder of the trip. And for some reason unbeknownst to me, everyone asked permission before doing anything, even getting a cup of water. I can’t understand why. I guess I’m just a man who demands respect.

Give me respect... or else

And now, for the completely unrelated video of the week, I give you Si! Enjoy.

Guacamole from Si on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thank God

So, the whole Monday and Thursday posting thing seems to be failing. Last week was due to laziness, but this one's on purpose. I wanted to post this on Wednesday because Thursday, as we all here in America know, is Thanksgiving and I would rather you, the reader, spend time with your family and cooking and eating and going into a food coma before eating again.

Now, what else can I write about right now than about giving thanks for what we have? Though I often miss it because I'm human (read: stupid), God truly has blessed me immensely. I was reading in Isaiah this morning, and was reminded of the security and eternal forgiveness that we have in Jesus. Isaiah 22:14 says, "The LORD of hosts has revealed himself in my ears: 'Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die,' says the Lord GOD of hosts." Jerusalem had turned to themselves rather than to the One who made them, and so He left them to their own devices that would lead to their own destruction.

In John 10:28-30, Jesus tells us that we are in God's hands and no one can take us out because He is greater than anyone and everyone else. In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul tells us that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance. It is so amazing to think that everything we have done and will do have been atoned for because of the sacrifice of our Lord.

Lord God, I think You for the assurance that we have in You. That You have given us Your Holy Spirit freely, so we can live forever with You. I thank You that we already have that eternal life and that You have us in Your hands. I thank You for Your amazing grace and mercy that we receive everyday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I lost my salvation on the way to church

Friday's post (I apologize for posting it late, btw) discussed how I don't know how to love God with all of me all the time. Well, a close examination of my life has showed one way in which I am not doing it.

As some of you know, I've only had a driver's license since late August. Since then, I've been driving quite a bit. I'm still a pretty bad driver, but that's another post. I've noticed that I'm not the only bad driver on the road. Other people on the road make me start yelling at them and thinking evil thoughts about them (I love how they're to blame).

I noticed Sunday that I yell at other people A LOT. I mean crazy, ridiculous, don't-know-volume-control kinda stuff. I think that the things I think, however, are sinful at worst, mildly funny at best. Examples:

The speed limit's 40! Why are you only going 45?

(Realizing that the man who I was driving behind was graying) Old people!

I wonder if I could hit this guy if I speed up?

(Checking the age of a woman next to me) I wonder if I could beat her. (Our lanes were merging. I was so intent on looking at her that I didn't notice the light turn green. She did.)

I realized that I, like other drivers, am the only one important when I'm on the road. I am all that matters. That's not loving God with all I am all the time and it's not loving my neighbor as myself. If Jesus gave a 3rd greatest commandment, I would probably break that one too. I think that's why I listen to Christian music when I'm driving. Otherwise, I don't think I would be saved anymore.

In an unrelated but still kind of important note, I started a ministry blog called Inside my Ministry. It's just a way to kinda clean up some clutter that I felt was happening on this blog. So if you want to read about my ministry, go there.

And now, I leave you with this completely unrelated video, but is nonetheless hilarious. And it raps the gospel, so it has to be good. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Love for God

This Sunday, I went to 2 different churches. Both of them were talking about the first and greatest commandment that Jesus gives to us. I kinda think God was telling me something.

Both sermons pointed out the completeness that the commandment demanded. Jesus says to love God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength. That means to love Him with everything. The passage that Jesus is quoting from goes even further. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us with what we are to love God. Verses 6-9 says when. It says to teach your children to love God. Love Him when you sit. When you walk. When you lay down. When you rise. This reminds me of a song that says, "I only think of you on two occasions/ That's day and night." God has covered all the bases. We are supposed to love Him all the time with all of us.

But I have a small beef with that, and it's with the application. It's one thing to say to love, but what does that look like? Pastor Justin pointed out that Jesus' answer to the scribe was to love, not to obey. I thought, "Well, of course the commandment doesn't say obey. It's a commandment. It's implied that you're to obey it." I think I understand his point more now that I'm thinking it over. God doesn't want blind obedience. He wants us to love Him. If we keep every command that God ever gave Man, if we go to church every week, if we join ministry and lead thousands of people to the Lord, but don't have love for God, do you know what that makes us? 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that all we are is noise. We are nothing without love.

That was God's beef with the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2. In verses 2-3, Jesus tells the church that He knows the good they do, He knows their hatred of wickedness, He knows that they have even suffered for His name's sake and yet persevere through it all. In verse 4, however, he tells them that they have forgotten their first love. Christianity to them had become service for God, which took the place of a love for God.

I don't want you to think that I am saying don't do. I am saying don't equate doing with loving. We can do and do and do and wear ourselves out without loving. They do not mean the same thing. I'm saying don't do instead of love, but do because of love. I think that's what Jesus meant when He said in John 14:21, "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me." That's how we show that God dwells in us and empowers us to love Him and to love others.

That still doesn't answer the question of what it looks like to love God with all of you all the time. And this is why I was slightly hesitant to write this blog. I don't really have an answer. If I had an answer, though, I think that would defeat the purpose of the previous three paragraphs. If I said to love God is to do this, that, and these, I'm no better than the Ephesians. I think the main reason I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this commandment is because my natural inclination is to have instructions on how to do something. Love doesn't quite work like that. My prayer is that you, the reader, and I would love God with all of our being all of the time, whatever that may look like.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More reflections on Isaiah

As you can see here and here, I've kind of adopted Isaiah being called by God as my own calling into ministry.

Well, if I'm going to model my calling after Isaiah's, why not model other things? I was reading in Isaiah this morning, and came across Isaiah 20. It's six short verses that you should read right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.


Well, now that you've read it, I think it's obvious what my logical next step is. As I have answered God's call to go out for Him, I must now loose my sackcloth and take off my sandals. And Isaiah did this for 3 years, so it's going to be a while until I put my clothes back on. I don't know what purpose God has for me being naked for 3 years, but I must follow Him.

*I know the picture (from this guy) has nothing to do with this post, but I thought it was hilarious, and I don't think you really want a picture that's relevant to the post.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Love of God

As some of you know, I was in Florida the end of October into the beginning of November for a national staff conference for everyone working with the collegiate part of Navigators. For those of us on EDGE Corps, it was 8 days of humidity, meetings, seminars, and debriefing. You'll probably hear more about this trip, but for your sake and mine, I will break it up into smaller chunks. This chunk is probably the only part that I can relay back to other people without looking at my notes, which is good because I don't have my notes in front of me right now.

The Message
Later in the week, we would have early morning group sessions. This one in particular was called "The Love of God." Sounded simple enough. The Bible is graced with many pages that speak on the love of God. I typed "love" into Bible Gateway and got 683 results (granted, not all of those results are about God's love, but I think you see my point). We had the special privilege of having Jerry Bridges, the second oldest collegiate Navigator, speak to us on this topic this particular morning. The verse that he used that stuck out the most to me doesn't even have the word "love" in it. It was Romans 8:32, which simply says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"

Why that hit me so hard
As much as I enjoyed my time in Florida, there were parts that were just miserable. I think there was only one night that I had a decent amount of sleep. Most nights that week, I was kept up by a really bad toothache. It would hurt mildly during the day causing a mild inconvenience, but come night time, I wanted to slice the right half of my face off. The painkiller I was taking wasn't helping. I asked God to stop the pain, to grant me some sleep. It didn't happen.

Jerry Bridges, in his message, talked about how we often turn to God and ask, "If You love me, why _________?" We can fill in the blank with whatever is bothering us at the time. We accuse God of holding out on us. Now, I don't think sleep is too much to ask for. But God essentially said to me through Mr. Bridges' message, "Jason, you are so ungrateful. You're complaining about your tooth hurting. You're complaining about a couple nights of sleeplessness. You've taken your eyes off of the cross. You complain about losing a couple hours of sleep, and don't realize that I've given you life. Not only this temporal life, but eternal life. With me. I loved you so much, that I did not spare my Son, my only begotten Son, but I gave Him up for you. So I could bring you to Me. You didn't deserve it. You still don't. You were My enemy, but I love you. I love you enough to make my Son suffer death and separation from Me, so you won't have to. Is that not enough for you?"

My prayer for you, the reader, is that the cross is enough for you, and that you not lose sight of what God has done for you--in spite of you being His enemy--because you set your sight on something that He hasn't done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Math:1, Men: 0

If you didn’t know that I’m a math geek, then you probably don’t know me too well.
That said, it is my extreme pleasure to disprove a common math problem that young men love. Sorry, guys.

The Problem*

*I couldn't figure out how to do some of the characters in blogger, so I figured them out in Word and then printscreened them. In order to see it better, just click on the image.

The Problem with the Problem
One of the givens is that Girls = Time and Money.
I'm OK with that. But to write that out mathematically, you would have to say Girls = Time + Money. Instead of Money squared, you would get 2Money, and the square root of 2Money doesn't mean anything.
To get Time*Money, Girls would have to equal Time of Money, and that just doesn't make sense in English.

Well, guys, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but a former math major's gotta do what a former math major's gotta do.

For those of you who are not math-minded, don't worry, most posts won't be about math. I just had to get this one off my chest.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sometimes, more is more

I read blogs. I think that's fair since I expect other people to read mine. That's why blogs exist. So people who normally wouldn't give two rips will see what's happening in the lives and minds of other people, some of which they've never met.* One such blogger is Matt, who wrote some rules that bloggers should follow. I didn't really pay attention to the rules (see what a bad blog reader I am?), but his posts got me thinking about my own blog and how rarely I update it. I thought that I should update it more often.

And then I thought about quite how vague that is. So I thought that maybe I'd give myself a once a week minimum. That, too, is too vague for my taste. So, I thought I should narrow it down to specific days that I will have a blog post up. I will spare the details about how I came to the conclusion that I will, until further notice, have a blog up every Monday and Thursday. These blogs will not have any kind of recurring theme except that they are from my mind. Some will be related to ministry, some will be bad jokes. Heck, maybe I'll post a recipe or two. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wet yourself and then deny it when your roommate says something about it. Or at least that's my goal.

So, that's my dream for this blog. If you see a lapse in the posting, I give you permission to throw a pine cone at my head (or to let me know in a gentler manner).

I will consider this my Thursday post a day late. See you Monday!

*This is not a rip on blogging, per se, because I obviously am a blogger myself. I just find that I read about people who I have never met and I don't think I would care remotely about them otherwise.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Come now, David, where is everybody going?

I feel like I have to write about David. Someone this morning was listening to a sermon this morning about David and the affects of his adultery. Yesterday in Sunday School we studied Psalm 51, which is the psalm that David wrote after the prophet Nathan confronted him about the adultery. I've been listening to a band almost non-stop who has a song on their newest album called "The Angel of Death Came to David's Room." The men of the SDSU Navigators are even going through a study of David's life on Monday nights.

David is one of my favorite people from the Bible. I'm even planning on naming my second son David (assuming I have two sons and my wife agrees on the names I've already chosen). I think that was a living testament to God's grace. Of all the people in the Bible, David committed a pretty well-known sin. The secular song "Hallelujah" even mentions that his "faith was strong but you needed proof. You saw her bathing on the roof."

It's well-known because it was massive. Not massive in that it's worse than what anyone else did, but massive in that it started a domino affect that would effect so many people. He conceived a child with Bathsheba, a woman that was not his wife. When Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, refused to lay with her to make it seem like it was his child, David had him killed. The baby got sick and died. David had become a man of blood, and as such, God but David's kingdom in the hands of his son, Absalom, who slept with all of David's concubines for all of Israel to see. David's sin affected so many people, all because he saw what he wanted and had to have it.

The reason I love David so much is because he is a good picture of God's grace. God knew all that David was going to do before He made him king. However, in 1 Samuel 13:13-14, God tells Saul that he will replace him as king with a man after his own heart. God chose David. This man, who sinned greatly, whose sin caused many lives, who God brought high and then brought low, was a man that God described as a man after his own heart.

Why? Why would a just God say that this man was a man after his own heart? How could He? Because He is gracious and merciful, and David knew that. In Psalm 51, David cries out to God. He appeals to God's mercy, because he knows that his adultery and murder were not deserving of forgiveness. He tells God (in the Jason paraphrase):

"Lord, I know that what I did was not of You. My sin is too big for either me or You to ignore. I am reminded of it constantly. But though my sin is big, your grace is bigger. Therefore, forgive me of my sin. I have sinned against You, and the blood is on my hands, but I pray that you will cleanse me of this, Lord. Blot it out, erase it as if it never happened. Renew me, God. Change me from this me that I have become, and turn me into the me that You made me to be. Only You can change me and restore me. Lord, there is nothing I can do to please You. My sacrifices mean nothing to You if I don't have a repentant heart. God, here is my heart, broken before You. May this sacrifice be enough for You."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dear Jason,

I've been with you for all of your life. I was even there with you before you were born. I've kept quiet all this time, but I cannot be silent anymore.

You've been mistreating me for so many years. You run into things constantly, things that you should know are there, like door frames and tables that don't move. You drop things, and who is there to catch them but your feet? You even hit yourself with your keys subconsciously. What's with that?

And your diet.... You know you're lactose intolerant. Why do you insist on eating cheese, pudding, and ice cream? Do you think that just because you stopped drinking milk that you'll be covered? You can't even do that right. Chocolate milk still counts.

And you know you're out of shape. Where is the logic in saying, "I'll eat 2 bowls of pho and then play 2 hours of ultimate"? That's wrong on a couple levels, my friend. Why would you fill up on that Vietnamese rice noodles goodness and then run around as if you were Usain Bolt? You can barely handle that when you're not full of Asian deliciosity.

I'm supposed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit of God! Is that how you treat the temple of God? I'm not against you running around. In fact, I want you to. Just know your limits. It hurts me the next couple days when you do that. Or maybe start exercising, so it won't be that bad when you play. God gave you the temple. Don't wear it down; build it up! Seriously, you'll thank me later.


Your Body

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reflections on Psalm 24

This title is misleading because I'm not really reflecting on Psalm 24, but on something that Psalm 24 made me think about.

That said, I have a small beef with worship songs that are based on Scripture. It's only a small beef because I think that worship songs should be based on Scripture; in fact, parts of Scripture are worship songs. My beef with it is that when I'm reading those Scriptures, I can't help but think of the songs. Psalm 24 reminded me heavily of this because I know of 3 songs on the top of my head that are based on the 10 verses that are said Psalm.

1. Give Us Clean Hands
Verses 3-6 talk about the person who will ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in the holy place. That person is, of course, one who has clean hands, a pure heart, and does not lift his soul to what is false (you thought I was going to say "not lift his soul to another" didn't you?) The generation that does that will be a generation that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. We sang this Chris Tomlin Classic too many times in youth group for this not to be playing in the back of my head while reading this.

2. King of Glory
Verses 7-10 tell the gates and the doors to be lifted up, that the King of glory might come in. It then asks who this King of glory is, and answers with, "The Lord, strong and mighty." I'm starting to think that Chris Tomlin has little imagination, because this is the second time where he's taken words written by David and put them to music (well, second time in this blog post).

3. King of Glory
OK, I almost feel like this one shouldn't count, because this Third Day song has the same title as the Chris Tomlin one (although, this one is older) and really doesn't borrow from the chapter save the question, "Who is this King of glory?" David's hand wasn't too heavily in this one, although the same can't be said for "Your Love Oh Lord," taken almost straight from Psalm 36:5-7.

Anyway, that's my small rant. I can at least commend Misters Tomlin and Powell for keeping their worship songs biblical. Does anyone else have this problem when reading stuff like this, or is just me?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy as 1-2-3

There it was. The moment I had been waiting for. The moment when I would step foot on the campus of San Diego State University, my mission field. The moment when I would go and impact the Aztecs for Christ.

The First 3 Weeks
It was so exciting being there my first day. I was helping students move in and trying to get acquainted with the campus and the surrounding area. After that move-in day, we had several days scheduled for recruiting, i.e. surveys and tabling, as well as a beach day and a barbecue. Week 2 came around and that meant more tabling and some follow up and our first Nav Nite! After that, we did more tabling and follow up, as well as a staff retreat. This is obviously not an exhaustive list of everything that happened in my first 3 weeks at SDSU, but a rough outline of what they looked like. I was glad to be there, as everything I had been working on was leading up to going to campus and trying to reach the students.

The Return
Week 4, however, has started, and I am no longer in SD. I had to come back to Phoenix to continue fundraising. It's slightly ironic because I was very sad to leave AZ initially, but now, three weeks later, I am bummed to be back. Not that I don't love my friends here, but it's hard to pack up and leave for a new journey only to turn around and come back while the journey continues on without me.

With all this comes a lot of questions, from me and from others. Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you sure this is what God wants you to do? If so, why are you back? Wouldn't He have funded you? Do you really think you can get up to 100%?

All these questions lay heavy on me, and I start to think, "What if they're right? Maybe I should have just kept my job at the theater and stuck around here. I didn't want to leave and go out there in the first place. Wouldn't it be easier to just quit right now?"

Easy Doesn't Do It

The answer to that last question is most likely yes. It would be easy. But I'm not looking for easy. I was never promised easy. I never expected easy, and I won't accept easy. Easy means stagnation. Easy means, if I'm being honest with myself, that I am not following Christ. I look over to my right and I see a statuette of Jesus carrying a cross and am reminded of Luke 9:23. "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" What Jesus said is far from easy. It means looking at the things that I want and think are good for me, but telling God that I want His will over mine.

Is Anything Too Hard?
These questions also make me examine what I believe about God. If I believe that my God created the earth and everything in it in 6 days, do I not believe that He can get me funded? If I believe that my God can raise people even from something as final as death, do I not believe that He can provide the $27,000 that I need to go back? God said in Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?" I have to remind myself that I serve a limitless God who has me where I am for a reason. I have to do all that I can to get funded and trust that God will get me there.

I didn't intend for this to become a sermonette, but while I was writing, God was reminding me of things that I had forgotten and I wanted to pass that on to you. I thank you for reading and ask that you pray for me during my time away from campus, that I would raise the support to get back, but also get some fellowship and encouragement out here instead of being a hermit waiting to go back.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where was I when the world was made?

I just spent some time reading Job, a book that I seem to have been in forever and a day. The first couple of chapters is God telling satan how awesome Job is. Then God allows satan to take everything that Job has from him, except his life. The next few chapters were Job's friends telling him that he did something wrong because God wouldn't let this happen to the righteous, and Job replying by saying that he indeed didn't do anything wrong. Job says that he'll praise God no matter what happens, but there are a lot of moments where he is just downright dramatic. I mean, seriously, "it would have been better had I not been born"?

In all this, Job is questioning God, and understandably so. But in Job 38-39, God answers back, and answers back hard. He asks Job where he was when God created the world. And if he knew when goats would give birth. There was one moment that I thought was particularly "rip-Job-a-new-one-ish" in Job 38:19-21

"Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!"

In reading these chapters, it's easy to say, "yeah, Job, why would you question God like that? Don't you know that He's the Almighty? Don't you know that He's sovereign? Don't you know that He knows what's best for you?"

It's not too easy, though, once I examine my own life and attitude. Over the past couple of weeks, I've asked God why a lot of times. "Why am I at 25% if this is where you want me? Why are there a lot of Nav staff right now who are struggling with their funding? Why are there so many women coming to the table today and only one man? Why, God, why?" I bombard God with these questions about why things aren't going my way. And then I read Job 38 and 39, and I can't help but hear God speaking these words to me. And I feel small. Like a little child being scolded by his Father. My head is down, not daring to look up at God, because I know that He's right and I can't answer back. I can't look him in the eyes. I can't say anything to justify my attitude towards God.

I know that God is good. I know that God is sovereign. I know that God's will is better than mine. My trouble is accepting and realizing this truth in my nearsightedness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I love my new housemates!

So, I moved to San Diego, at least for a little while, for my job with the Navigators. I'm living with 4 of my teammates/partners. We've been living together for one day, and we've already had some great conversations/moments, such as:

Tim (upon entering the house and being greeted by 3 dogs): I thought there were 2 dogs last time I was here.

Someone else (I can't remember who): That's what dogs do.

Tim: But there were 2 male dogs.

Gabe: It's California.
Ryan: There are a lot oceans... I mean seas.

Val: *Spits water out of her mouth*

Me: *Fit of laughter ending in The Laugh*
Gabe goes outside and sticks his head back in and says, "So, are you gonna come out?"
Tim and I were watching movies on our computers, but figured since Gabe was asking that something was happening outside, like dinner or a meeting. We go outside and wait for whatever it is to start. Turns out Gabe was talking to his dog, not us.

I'm really looking forward to more good times with my team.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm VERY disappointed

Imagine biting into what someone tells you is an In-N-Out Double Double only to discover that it's from Burger King.
Or finding out that Edward Norton had to drop out of a movie and they replaced him with David Spade.
Or flipping on the TV to watch Arrested Development, and 2 and a Half Men is showing in it's stead.

Those would all be horribly disappointing moments, much like the one that I had the other morning. I was doing something outside, and I hear this man yell three names, telling the owners of said names to vamoose. Jason was one of those names, but apparently he was talking to a different Jason, because I didn't want me to leave.

He wanted me to act. He asked me if I could be in Die Hard 5 as a character named Archie Arnold. I gladly accepted, pulled a comb from out of my pocket, and got ready for my big screen debut. Instead of the script, the gave me my lines on small strips of paper, which were numbered, I'm assuming in the order in which I say said lines. The problem is, they were out of order.

Being me, as I try to arrange my lines in numerical order, I drop them on the couch that I was sitting on. I search along the cushions of the couch and feel for those lines, the lines that will make me a star.

As I'm searching, I see the fan blowing on me, and the pillows on my futon. I was now awake. I was searching on my futon for lines that were not there for a movie that I was not in. I very quickly came to realize that I would not be doing an action movie starring Bruce Willis as the unstoppable John McClane. I was in my apartment, alone, on my futon.

That realization hurt me like you can't even imagine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

2 More Weeks

I have 2 weeks until I move to San Diego to start off the school year at SDSU. The closer that date comes, the more real it becomes that I'm moving away. And the more I think that I don't want to do this.

This is in no way a blog of resignation. I knew that this job would be hard when I accepted it. And it's not even that I don't want to do the job. I'm actually really excited about going to San Diego and being a part of what God's doing there. The part that I'm not looking forward to--that I haven't been looking forward to--is moving away from home and leaving the people that I've come to call friends over the past 4 or so years. I feel like Abram in Genesis 12, when God calls him away from his father's house, his country, and his kindred.

In a way, I think that's been keeping me from getting busy with funding. I know that if I'm out calling people, meeting with them, getting my funds to enable me to minister to students, that would be driving the nail in the coffin. That would mean that it is actually happening.

Well, what I've been avoiding with my laziness God has been bringing back with time. And now, I've dug myself in a hole because I'm at 13% with 14 days to go. The way it's looking right now, I'll be there for a couple weeks before heading back to Phoenix to continue fundraising and possibly working part-time. In other words, I'm reaping what I've sown. I could blame circumstances or a job or inexperience in what I'm doing, but really it's nobody's fault but my own. God's been teaching me a lot through this trying time, and it has not been the most fun time of learning. But I thank God for these times because I know that going through this fire will ultimately make me refined.

And so, as I embark on my next journey and probably turn back around for a pit stop, I ask that you, my friends and family and people who randomly stumbled upon my blog, pray for me.

1. Pray for my diligence in these next 2 weeks. I need to send out a few more letters, but the hardest thing by far will be making the phone calls (which is the most awkward part of funding in my opinion). After that I need to meet up with people and explain what my ministry is going to look like.

2. Pray for a temporary home if/when I come back to Phoenix, as my apartment will be vacated by the end of this month.

3. Pray for that 13% to go up. It's easy for me to look at it and shoot for 75% so I can be on campus, but I know that my God is bigger than that and can get me to 100%.

4. Pray for your possible involvement in my ministry. There's a link (to the right if you're reading this on blogger, on my website list if you're reading this on facebook) where you can donate online. However, I'd rather we talk about my ministry before you donate.

5. Pray that I would still be able to minister effectively when I do go to campus.

I thank you for your prayers and for your love as I answer God's call to bring the gospel to the lost.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Valley Metro: (n) 1. The Greater Phoenix public transportation system. 2. Incentive to get a car.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Have you considered Job?

Here's a summary of the first 2 chapters of the book of Job:

Job was a God-fearing man with great wealth, much livestock, many servants, 10 loving children, and a wife. Job would make sacrifices to the Lord on the behalf of his children, just in case they did something wrong. That's how much he loved God and his family. God knew that Job loved Him, even to the point of bragging.
Satan says that Job would be different if He hadn't blessed him so much. God, knowing what the outcome was going to be, says, "Oh, yeah? Prove it. Take the stuff from Job and see if he still worships Me."
In one day, Job loses almost everything. All his assets were gone, his children dead, his servants killed. He had 4 servants that survived, and it seems they survived only to tell Job that everything he had was gone. His wife was the only family member he had left.
Job's response? "I was born with nothing, I will die with nothing. God will take and God will give. I will still bless his name."
Satan says that Job would curse God if He took away his health. God gave Satan the go to have a field day, as long as Satan spared Job's life. Job soon received sores all over his body--and I mean ALL OVER his body. The one surviving family member Job had told him to curse God so he would die and be rid of all this pain.
Job's response? "If I am willing to take good from God, I am willing to take bad from Him." His friends then sat with him and mourned with him.

Job's life sucked. I think it was made that much worse because he didn't always have a bad life. God had blessed him beyond measure up until this point, and then in one moment he loses it all. And his wife tells him to do the very thing that Satan is set out to make him do: curse God. We find out later that his friends tell Job that it was his fault because he sinned against God and he needs to confess. In all this, Job looks to God and praises Him. He didn't say that God had no right to do this, because he had never done anything wrong. He didn't claim that God was an unfair bully. He praised Him and said, "The God of the universe gave me everything I had. And He took it away. I will still bless His name."

Job is a better man than I. When things aren't going the way I want them to, or going the way I feel God shouldn't want them to, my initial response is rarely to praise God for it. I question Him on how He could let, or even cause, these things to happen. I pray that my will be done if His is different. I point the finger, knowing full well that God could have changed the circumstances.

Job makes me feel like dirt. I read this, and I think, "God's not up in heaven saying, 'Look at Jason. Isn't he just the finest of my creation? He loves me and praises me and is blameless and turns from evil in all situations.' He looks at me and says, 'Look at Jason. He loves me and praises me sometimes. I often share the spotlight with things I've created, however. And he's turned to evil quite a few times instead of turning from it.'"

I think it's easy to look at Job and compare. I can read it and try to be like him. But if God wanted me to be Job, he would have made me Job. If I look at that and say, "I'm going to change this, that, and these so I can please God," I'm sorely missing the point. God loves me when I'm reading the Bible consistently and when I forget for a week. He loves me when I'm telling people about Jesus and when I'm keeping Him my best kept secret. He loves me when I make Him my #1 and when I put Him on the back burner. He loves me when I'm right. He loves me when I'm wrong. He loves me when I waste my time by quoting silly songs.

I can't work to please Him. I can only believe. There are times when I don't believe like Job believed. But that's when I look at the father of the child with an unclean spirit. He turned to Jesus and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jesus wasn't there

You see some interesting things and people when you ride public transportation. Some make me laugh, some make me sad, some make me want to keep a good distance.

Yesterday, I rode the bus a considerable amount. This blog is gonna tell about the people who made me smile on my way from work.

There was a guy who came on the bus talking on the phone with his mom, his friend accompanying him. The guy was telling his mom that he had changed and stopped drinking alcohol altogether. He passed the phone over to his friend so his friend could tell his mom about how he had pulled a complete 180 and was a different son than how he used to be. When the guy got his phone back he asked his mom to continue to keep in her prayers. Really that was the only thing I heard him say that would suggest that it was God that turned his life around.

But I saw something else that suggested it, something that I'd never seen before. He had a tattoo of three crosses on his left arm. I've seen tattoos of various crosses and crucifixes, some standing alone as Jesus' cross, some including the guilty thieves.

So with this tattoo, there was nothing eye-catching about the fact that there were 3 crosses, none of them with people on them. The thing that caught my eye was the fact that Jesus was very visibly absent from the middle cross. It showed the outline of the Savior, almost to show that Christ was indeed on this cross, but no longer is. He got off. He was buried. He went to hell. He came back. He rose. He lives in our hearts now. The cross was a temporary holding place for Him.

I just thought that was awesome. This guy knew that Jesus' absence from the cross was significant in changing his life, and he put it on his arm to tell the world.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brought to my knees

God is always in control. Sometimes we acknowledge that. Sometimes we think we're in control. Sometimes I think God reminds us--sometimes painfully--that He is sovereign and we can do nothing but rely on Him.

I was told late last night/early this morning that the campus director for the Navigators at ASU, Mike Bedient, had a heart attack while in Pushkin, Russia. It's almost unbelievable. After hearing today that Michael Jackson was hospitalized for the same thing, I did not want to hear that, because I know how it ended up for him. My natural human instinct is to ask, "What can I do?" I've done the only thing I could possibly do to help: I petitioned the Great Physician. I am a history graduate in a completely different continent. There is literally nothing I can do to help Mike out except pray. And so that's what I've done and that's what I'll continue to do. I've told God that I'm praying my will, because I fear that His might be different. I'm praying that God heals Mike and comforts his family and the others who are on the Russia trip with Mike. And I pray that God does not have to use situations like this to bring me to my knees.

Please pray for Mike in this time. Last I've heard, he was talking and was aware of the situation. Not only for Mike, but the other people in Russia with him, because I can't imagine the toll this is taking on them, especially Sheri. Pray for the ASU Navigators, as my friend as told me that she's seen spiritual warfare going on, and I know that satan will do whatever is in his power to get his grimy hands on a thriving ministry.

I'll keep this updated as I find things out.


*UPDATE*6/26/09, 12:41--"Mike is in a stable condition. The doctors aren't excited about where he is at, but Sheri says that when she visited him he was smiling and in good spirits. He is being flown out to Germany sometime in the next 24 hours. He is in need of some very specialized equipment to get him there."

*UPDATE* 7/2/09, 10:21--"Good news. Mike is out of the coma, responding, but not yet communicative as of this morning. He had had a bad fever but they’ve gotten it under control. He’s off the ventilator. So still critical, but stable and improving.
Sounds like the German Navs have helped Sheri find housing and are taking care of her. Sheri, however, has been alone with Mike at the hospital most of the time and needs a friend. Lisa Jackson, former Nav missionary to Russia and on Mike and Sheri’s team back then, is flying out tomorrow and will arrive Sunday morning to be that friend. The Arizona State team and particularly the Pushkin team from Russia have been very supportive.
Everything is complicated by poor English skills of several of the key care givers. The somewhat sketchy understanding is that they expect Mike to be able to leave the hospital by the 9th if things go well, but that is a flexible date. Then, there is confusion over whether Mike will have to remain in Berlin for 7-14 more days of rehab, or if he can fly home and get that rehab in the US.
Please pray:

* Mike has a very irregular heartbeat. Pray that would stabilize.
* Pray for Sheri’s spirits, particularly until Lisa arrives. Pray for the Bedient children too – Becca, Sarah and Michael.
* Pray for clear communications between Sheri and the doctors and nurses.
* Pray for a rapid recovery and for Mike to be able to return to his home sooner. Pray particularly against infection.
* Praise God for sparing Mike’s life!

Thanks for standing with the Bedients in prayer."

*UPDATE* 7/9/2009
Mike is greatly improved! He’s finally off the ventilator. (It was previously reported he was off the ventilator – that report was wrong.) His stats are good enough that they plan to move him from intensive care tomorrow. Nevertheless, he is very weak. His idea of progress would be getting out of the bed and sitting in a chair, which he’s still far from.
Please continue to pray for strength and healing. Also, can you pray for all the details that the kids back home are having to deal with. They have had a few bumps with "regular life" things, along with the stress of what their parents are going through. Another request is that the luggage that was left behind in Russia will make it to Berlin without too much of a hassle for those who are diligently trying to work out the details.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here am I! Send me.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

The above passage is taken from Isaiah 6:1-8. It's my favorite section of Scripture. I love it because I think that the seraphim flying around is a strange but beautiful picture of God's creation. I also think it's an awesome picture of God's grace and the way He enables us to do His work.

However, whenever I hear people mention this in regards to missions, they seem to camp on verse 8, where God asks who will go out for Him and Isaiah responds, "Here am I! Send me." I mean, it's completely Biblical (seeing how it's from the Bible), but I think you can easily miss what God's done for Isaiah in order to use him to accomplish His purpose.

Isaiah was a man who was unclean. He was imperfect. He was a creature that God had created from dirt. He saw the face of God and thought that he should be struck down dead for it, because he was unworthy to glance upon the glory of his Maker. God's response was not, "It's OK. Just look. I'm not gonna hurt you." The seraph flew to Isaiah, touching his "unclean lips" with the live coal to purge away any filth. Why? Because he'd done great things for God in the past? Not at all. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness and good deeds are polluted garments or filthy rags. No, God sent the seraph to make Isaiah righteous because God is gracious. I think Paul said it great in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 when he wrote, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." It was only when God had atoned for Isaiah's sins was he able to answer God's question with an enthusiastic, "Here am I! Send me."

I think there's a reason that God put that on my heart just a few months before I decided to do EDGE Corps. I know I have sin. I'd be a fool to deny it. When I look at that, it's easy for me to say, "I'm useless. How could God use a wretch like me. I'm so far from His standard of perfection, there's no way He could use me." But when I read about Isaiah, I remember, "Yes, I am useless by my own power. I am far from perfection by my own power. But God has given me His Holy Spirit. I'm not operating under my power anymore. God doesn't see imperfection and sin when He sees me. He sees the blood of Jesus. He sees purity. He sees perfection." I get so wrapped up in what I can do for God or against God that I forget that none of that matters to God. My efforts to correct myself mean nothing. Jesus paid for my sin. Now He wants me for His work. My duty is not to do good to please Him, but trust in Him to lead me in His will. His grace is truly sufficient.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Change is coming

Well, it's been a while, since I've blogged, so I figure I'll update people on what's been going on.

Last week I finished my second senior year at ASU, and I have officially graduated. I have a BA in History with a minor in Religious Studies. It's weird saying that I'm an alum rather than a student. But it's a good thing. I don't want to become Van Wilder or that guy from my choir class who had about 12 years of undergrad. Being a professional student is too costly and doesn't allow room for maturity.

As you may know, I was really struggling with what to do after I graduate. As you also may know, I decided a couple months ago that I was going to work full-time with the Navigators in a program called EDGE Corps. So since I applied and got accepted, the question that everyone, myself included, has been asking is where in the world I'm going with EDGE. It was pretty much accepted that I wasn't going back to ASU but was going to some school in the Southwest, most likely in SoCal. All of my staff at ASU knew but wouldn't tell me. I was told that when I came up to the Glen Eyrie, I would have to wait a couple days before we did some ridiculous physical activity to find out. Turns out, a lot of people knew what campus they were going to, and they didn't want the ridiculous physical activity for about 7 of the 60 people, so we checked in, and got our name tags and folders. Said name tags and folders had our campus name on them. So, I got my room key, looked at my name tag, and thought, "huh. Interesting."

Anyway, I tell you all this to build up the suspense, getting you to wonder where my destination this fall will be. I hope that my plan has succeeded. I hope it's killing you that I know and you don't yet. Well, I mean figuratively. If it literally is killing you, then... well, I'd apologize, but you wouldn't be able to read the apologize, seeing as you'd be dead.

Well, now is the moment of truth. Now is where you find out what will be replacing Sparky, seen below.

Blogosphere, Sparky the Sun Devil. Sparky, blogosphere.

Well, I will tell you that I was correct in assuming that I would not be going to ASU. I will also tell you that I was correct in assuming that I'd be going to SoCal. Anyway, I can't think of anything else to stall with, so I will tell you that I will be joining the staff at San Diego State University. I can't say that I will become an Aztec, but I can see myself forsaking Sparky easily. Sadly enough, there is no mascot, at least that I could find by skimming the Wikipedia page. Gladly enough, I have an awesome hoodie that has ASU in big letters on it. I figure I can cover the A with SD, and it'll be acceptable, though ASU's colors are maroon and gold and SDSU's colors are scarlet and black.

But, anyway. That's what's been going on in my life. I'll spend the summer FUNdraising and working at the theater. Once I'm 75% funded, I'll be able to go on campus. Funding is every EDGEr's favorite part of the job, so this summer will be fun (I hate how sarcasm is lost in written word). If you want to donate to my cause, let me know. This isn't a funding blog, but seriously, if you would like to be involved, I will not say no.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If at second you don't succeed...

I took the driving test again today. It took all of 2 minutes. I hit a cone while parallel parking. I would be considerably less upset if 1) I hadn't already passed that part yesterday, showing that I can in fact parallel park and 2) parallel parking were actually a useful skill. Seriously, how often do people parallel park? Why not a 3-point-turn? Why not a left turn at a major intersection? Now I wasted one more try at a license because I couldn't see the cones at all in the side mirror or out the window.

Boo to you, DMV and parallel parking.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

I just finished my final finals week. It was a time of great testing and great papering. And it's almost over. Here are the results:

MUS 356 (Musical Theater, online): 14/15 on the final, and perfect scores on all the assignments that weren't tests. On the other tests, I got 5, 4.5, and 10, respectively. Those are all out of 15. My total for the class is a 73.5%. Solid C

MUS 354 (Hip Hop, online): Each exam for this course had 2 parts--the regular exam and the analytical listening exam. For the exams, I got 100/160, 80/160, 88/160, 168/240. For analytical listening, I got 27/36, 24/36, 24/36, and 18/72. That's 62.9%. Solid D.

HST 307 (Something about Africa, slavery, and gender): For the map quiz, I got an 80%. We had reaction papers that we had to write, but he would only collect them occasionally. This semester, he collected them once, on a week that I didn't write one (which was every week). So I got a 0 on that. Then we had 3 book reviews. I got 54/66, 50/66, and 56/66. That's amazing considering I didn't do the second one. That's how amazing I am/Dr. Hamel is. For the midterm, I got 209/250. There was no posted grade for the final paper, but I got a B- posted, which is higher than the C was expecting/hoping for.

SPA 202 (Spanish): My Spanish teacher was crazy and absent more often than anyone else in the class. The final was split up into 2 parts--the listening and the written--which had the first part in class on the last day and the second part during finals week. When we turned in the second part, we got a progress report. For participation, I got 83%. For the exams, I got an 81% (which was dropped), a 90%, and a 95%. I have 475% for quizzes which she never gave us, so that's cool/she's crazy. I got a total 98.5% for online homework, which I never did because she never assigned it (she said to go online and do a couple problems for each chapter, which I never did because nothing was concretely assigned). I got 100% on all of the compositions, grades that are higher than what I got on those assignments. I got 93% on my oral exams, which are higher than what I actually got. For the listening portion of the final, I got 34/40. I didn't do too well on the written exam, but with all those grades, I have about 114%, so I'm not really worried about this class, unless she looks at it and says, "Oh, I'm crazy, shouldn't be teaching at all, and these grades aren't correct. D!" But I don't think that's gonna happen, so I'm guessing an A.

The most recent test I took was not at all for school, but for a driver's license. I passed the written exam with flying colors (those colors are actually fairly close to the colors of a failing grade, considering I was 2 wrong questions away from not passing, but the colors were flying nonetheless). Then I took the driving test. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to parallel park, which was the first thing I had to do (of course). I nailed it on my second try. Then I drove around, and was told that I was going 30 in a 25 zone and didn't give myself ample time to stop at lights and signs and when I was turning, which resulted in me slowing down, and then slamming the brakes pretty hard. I think that was an over exaggeration, but I wasn't administering the test. Anyway, with all that, I was told that I need to take it again. That makes me :-(, but whatever. I'm confident that I can pass within the allotted 3 tries.

Any fun test stories?

Friday, March 6, 2009

A phone message

So, on Monday, I was talking to someone on the phone when my phone cut out. I was going to call them back when I got a text. I figure it was him trying a different way to get a hold of me. I read my text, and this is what it says:

"This is your really old phone speaking. You should get rid of me and treat yourself to some new hotness. I've served you well and need to be retired."

The number has a Phoenix area code, but it's not a number that I recognize. I'm thoroughly weirded out by this. Maybe I do need to get a new phone. Anybody wanna donate to the Buy J-Ra A New Phone Foundation, or the BJNPF?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Putting the "rap" back in "crap"

I have a confession: I used to listen to rap music. Please, don't look at me that way. I can't say that I was a victim of my surroundings because I don't feel like I was a victim of anything. When I listened to it, I actually enjoyed it. There was just something fantastic hearing Tupac tell about Brenda having a baby. I enjoyed listening to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony mourn for those they lost in "Tha Crossroads." I still love looking back at Queen Latifah screaming her rage about the frequent uses of "bitch" and "ho" when referring to women. I miss those days.

Unfortunately, rap is like any other musical genre in that it changes over time. Where Tupac used to rap about how bad life in the ghetto was, rappers today would rather glorify the drug use, drug dealing, promiscuity, and crime that keep people down. Where Bone asked, "can somebody, anybody tell me why we die?" rappers today would rather "leave in a body bag, but never in cuffs." While Queen Latifah asked for some respect as a woman, we have rappers today talking about making "females crawl;" and that's the edited version.

Even recently, we had a movie about the tragic life of Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, which didn't seem to think anything of his hesitation to vow faithfulness at his wedding, of his lack of hesitation to break said vow, or even of him selling drugs to a pregnant woman, because that's the way things are in the ghetto. One of my favorite rap lyrics from one of my favorite rap artists says, "It's sad 'cuz I bet Brenda doesn't even know just 'cuz you're in the ghetto doesn't mean you can't grow." Mr. Shakur didn't think that you had to remain where you were. That's not the message we're hearing today. Today, we're hearing about sex, drugs, and crime, with very few of those messages containing any amount of repentance, regret, or a want for others to learn from these mistakes.

And songwriting has been replaced by adding ridiculous sound effects (see M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes). Clever rhyming has been replace by repetition of stupid lyrics (see Akon's "Right Now"). People are even taking the need for talent out of music by letting a computer sing for them (see anything by Akon or T-Pain).

But, that's all my rant about secular rap music. It's a little comforting to know that there are still some people who want to rap about something better than themselves. With that, I leave you with music videos for the only 2 songs I've ever bought on iTunes. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm just trying to be a better version of me for you

I don't really tell people this, but if I sense that I'm being annoying, I'll back off and give the annoyee some space. (If I sense I'm being annoyed, I'll give me some space, but that's neither here nor there). I don't want to annoy people, so if I think I am, I figure I'll just go away and the annoyingness will be averted. Problem solved.

But I don't want to back off. I want to be less annoying. Some people think that you shouldn't let what others think of you dictate your life, but I say that other people have to live with or around you, so you should at least consider them.

So, I'm trying to be an old dog learning new tricks. I want to start washing my dishes when I'm done with them. I want to put my clothes away so they're not all over the place. I want to become someone easier to live with.

If I have done or habitually do anything annoying to you, please let me know (I'd rather take it as a private message rather than a comment on the blog). Seriously. Tell me. Otherwise, I'll keep doing it.

Love, peace, and hair grease!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Some days just seem to need prayer more than others.

Our nation is under new leadership
I have a friend in the hospital
I have a friend whose child got a bone marrow transplant
I have a friend who simply needs some prayer right now
I need prayer

God instructs us to pray continually, and sometimes He just lays it on us to let us know that we cannot handle things on our own. And, through Jesus Christ, the God-man, we have a direct line to Him.]

So, why wait until the national day of prayer (whenever that is) or See You at the Pole? We should be praying now and always. That's what's going to bring about change. Besides, talking about someone is less effective than talking to God about someone.

Philippians 4:6-7
" not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

2 Chronicles 11:14
"...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Now, I've never claimed to be a Cardinals fan, but I will root for any AZ team going to their sports' respective championships. So, it looks like I'm going to be watching the Super Bowl for the game.


And to think, last year I said, completely sarcastically, that they were going to the Super Bowl.