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.