This is my next guitar.

It is a cheap Epiphone Les Paul Jr. but the paint makes it.

Only $99 on GuitarCenter.com for all of those thinking of Christmas ideas. :)

I am off to my birthplace, Monrovia, to forget about this life for a while and all of the stuff that comes along with it.

Take care.


Faith and Basketball

Tonight I decided to spend some of my free time shooting hoops. It is has been a while since I played basketball, a sport that at one point my life literally revolved around. Although I am still better than the average joe, it is obvious that my skills are deteriorating with every passing day. Not because I am getting older, rather because of my lack of practice.

I laughed at a particular moment tonight. I squared my shoulders to the basket bent my legs and released the ball that floated through the air with a perfect arch only to hear a loud, "CLANK."


I thought it was interesting how a shot could feel so perfect and yet look so bad.

I though back to some of the decisions in my life; One's that happened fifteen months ago, or one month ago and how they felt so right at the time. It was only until after the decisions when I looked back and saw what I did wrong, just like with the jump shot. Without practice, spiritually and athletically, one will never know wether what they are doing is right or wrong. If one is not practicing basketball, they will never know whether their jump shot was a good one. And if one doesn't practice his faith, live it out, daily and have an active, vibrant relationship with the living God, he will constantly be guessing about God's direction for their life.


Interesting Things...

There is a lot to blog about.
My Guys:
I am so thankful for this small group of guys that I have been blessed with in my small group. We used to have a mixed group that had sometimes over 15 people at a time. Now it is only three or four of us at each group but I can tell you that it is surely amazing what I have been learning from these fine young men. Never have I learned so much and been challenged so much in one two hour meeting. I feel that we are really building a solid community and a group that will surely reflect how God's kingdom should be. I have to admit that they are all extremely funny guys too. My cheeks were hurting from all of the laughter. Thanks Gentlemen.
God, please continue to bless this group.
The Rain:
I was very thankful to look out the window and see rain this morning. Finally, a reason to wear winter clothes! These pics are from Tyler Hoehne's blog: www.tylerhoehne.blogspot.com
World Aids Day:
Please tak a minute to recognize this pandemic that has stricken our culture. So many people die and are affected in some way by this disease every day.



OMG OMG Garth Brooks is coming to play a show at Staples Center. I have to have front row ticktets no matter what!
Garth is the biggest selling artist of all time only second to the Beatles and in my opinion he is the best entertainer that has ever set foot on a stage. Everything I want to be as an artist directly spurs from my years of watching his concerts every every chance I got.
I have to go to this show. My career depends on it. I have only seen Garth once when I was about 14 and this will bring it full circle. I dub it as my last show as a civilian.


Instant Gratification

I was watching a special on CNN about the young voters in our country. When asked a reason why the younger generation has such a problem voting she replied, "I can't make a difference." It immeiately cut away to a shot of Richard Dryfuss and he says, "That's because you are addicted to instant gratification."
How true this actor's words are. Our generation, our culture and sadly even Christianity is addicted to instant gratification. If this decision can't benefit me within the next 24 hours then it is pointless; That is the worldview we have now. How sad.
Much of this problem is due to the technological age and the ability to get things faster and more efficient. But the saddest part of this problem is the fact that I see it in Christians.
One way I see this plagueing Christians is our relationships. American Christians suck at relationships. Plain and simple. We constantly ask ourselves, subconsiously, "What can I get out of this relationship?" rather than, "What can I put in this reationship?" This is the reason I see about 90% of the relaitonshiips in the CBU campus become pitifully superficial and most die wthin months and even weeks. This also affects our relationship with God. My friend Andrew said that this is the main reason for people not praying enough. It is because we aren't patient enough with God, and His plan. We want answers now, Now, NOW and God doesn't work in our timing.
We innately are bad with relaionships and it is something we need to work on desperatley.
Let me know what you think. I will be posting more ways Instant Gratification is affecting our Kingdom.

Artwork above courtesy of Trevor Romain. Check out his blog: http://www.trevorromain.com/blog/


Tell Me...

Why does God give and why does God take away?

Let me know your thoughts...



More Concerns

As some of you may know, I am an avid CNN watcher. I enjoy their comprehensive and unbiased presentation of the news. However, for some unknown reason I was watching Fox News the other day and I finally know why I don't watch it. I had always heard that CNN was stereotypically liberal, leaning to the left, and Fox News is on the right and conservative. I found that I really have to look hard to see any liberal undertones in the news that CNN presents. However, Fox News comes right out and says that they are conservative, giving the viewers proper perspective on their bias. This could be good, but I can't see how.

What bothers me the most, however, was the special that I saw run by Fox called Perspective in Peril, making fun of the name of a current CNN special Planet in Peril. Fox News, instead of doing thier own investigation of the planet's current state, decided to attack CNN personally, asking students at a University what they thought of the special. Their answers were obviously thought out and had the same worldview as the station.

This is not journalism folks. I have never seen CNN, instead of taking time to investigate and present the news, attack another news station. Not only does Fox News come at the news with a bias, THEY DELIBERATELY STATE IT in most of their programs. If you are a journalist, you know that your job is to present the news in an unbiased AS POSSIBLE version. I know that some programs lean a little more than others but this was obviously not Bill O'reily, it was just news.


Even though most of my views may fall under the conservative realm, I still want to have an open mind and hear both sides.

Currently watching CNN and, oh my, coming up next: Civilian and U.S. troops deaths are down: A Safer Iraq?

Yea, sounds like CNN is real biased.

Still more concerns to come.



Blogs perturb me.
I recently took a small seminar on the origination and the idea of blogging and I will never look at it the same. The point of blogging is to give normal people a chance to post up their ideas or thoughts without having to put up with publishing, advertisements or web design issues. The original bloggers were and are, in at least some way, journalists, and blogging was away for them to publish without having to put up with money hungry publishers or cranky editors in the newsroom. I have to consider myself a journalist since that is my concentration, however, I find that I am much different than most of the journalists I come across. However, somewhere along the line, blogging became about people just posting whatever they were feeling. Blogs are now filled with annoying, pointless ramblings about everyday life that no one really reads anyways. Here are some pointers for you bloggers that may help with this hindrance.
-People don't want to hear about your boring everyday life or your thoughts unless you are doing something or are someone of particular intrigue. This includes celebrity blogs or blogs where family and friends can keep track of you if you are on a trip of some kind. An example is my trip to Turkey, which is exactly why this blog was originally created. Carly and Sarah's blogs are also popular right now while they are in Thailand.
-You have to post something that will catch peoples attention. This includes current news, social injustices, etc. However, in order for you to acquire readers, you must have credibility on what you are writing about. For example, someone would rather read an opinion on the exegesis of John from a theology professor, than from a self-absorbed, know-it-all college student sitting in their dorm. Although pure interest sometimes helps people with credibility, very seldom do they know how to put their thoughts in concise, readable formats.
As I was looking at my list of other bloggers I was saddened at the amount of blogs I have that 1. I really don't read and 2. Teach me nothing at all about anything. I want more blogs that inform me about things I don't know! I think that is what they are originally for.
Sorry to all of you who have a blog, titled: "Life", I don't mean to be such an ass but most likely you will get bored with your blog and no one will ever know it existed, unless you give them a good reason to read it. If my blog ever falls victim to any of the faux pas I have listed above, please, please, please let me know, asap.
Keep an eye out for more concerns.


My New Favorite Song

I just found a song that fits me perfect. Unfortunately, that always isn't what people want to hear. I hope that one day I will be able to break through some of these faults and keep the one's that are good.

"Better As A Memory"

I move on like a sinners prayer
And letting go like a levee breaks
Walk away as if I don't care
Learn to shoulder my mistakes
Or built to fade like your favorite song
Get reckless when there's no need
Laugh as your stories ramble on
Break my heart, but it won't bleed
My only friends are pirates
That's just who I am
But I'm better as a memory than as your man

Never sure when the truth won't bend
And pretty good on a lonely night
Or move on the way a storm blows through
And never stay, but then again, I might.
I struggle sometimes to find the words
Always sure until I doubt
Walk a line until it blurs
Build walls too high to climb out
But I'm honest to a fault
That's just who I am
I'm better as a memory than as your man

I see you leaning, you're bound to fall
I don't want to be that mistake
I'm just a dreamer and nothing more
You should know it before it gets too late

Cause goodbyes are like a roulette wheel
You never know where they're gonna land
First you're spinning, then you're standing still
Left holding a losing hand
But one day you're gonna find someone
And right away you'll know it's true
That all of your sinking's done
It was just a part of the passing through
Right there in that moment you'll finally understand
That I was better as a memory than as your man
Better as a memory than as your man


...and the saga continues

OK, I hear the responses loud and clear and I promise that I will try to blog more often. Today I want to touch on something near and dear to my heart. As most of you know, I went to Turkey this summer and while there I learned a lot about the Turkish/Kurdish conflict. To make a very long story short, the Kurds are a people group without a land. They are dispersed throughout the Middle East but mostly in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The Turks and the Kurds, however, do not get along. There have been years and years of turmoil between them and it seems to be getting to the boiling point.
Just last week the Turkish parliament passed a bill that said Turkey would invade the Northern part of Iraq. This stems from a long period of Kurdish rebels bombing and attacking Turkish troops in both Iraq and in Turkey. Turkey is fed up with these rebels.
There are many problems with this:
1. The Kurds do not have a country to invade. They have little provinces in Iraq but for the most part they do not have a land that they really call their own. This will make it hard for the Turkish troops to sniff out the Kurdish rebels. Also, for the Kurds in Turkey, who did nothing wrong, this will make life almost unbearable.
2. As you might have guessed, President Bush is not in favor of this military action. He, understandably, does not want any more Turkish troops in Iraq. This, along with the recent push in the UN to accuse Turkey of genocide more than 80 years ago (whole other story) could eventually ruin our relationship with Turkey. This is bad because then we will have no access to sea routes controlled by Turkey that we use to get troops and military supplies into Iraq. It is also bad because there are countless "missionaries" in the country, some that I know personally, and this would make life very hard for them.
The latest news is that a group of Kurdish rebels just killed some more Turkish troops. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. The Kurdish leader is urging Turkey for peaceful talks but, unfortunately, it looks like a handful of rebels has ruined his chance. Turkey has a very strong military and the Kurds don't stand a chance at any kind of fight.
Pray for this situation. We need to have a good relationship with Turkey, it is very, very important for the future of the middle east. Also, pray that this will come to an end as peacefully as God allows it to.


Grand Ole Opry

I sent this picture to someone last night and I was appalled when they responded: "What is that?" Oh no. So for all of you that don't know that Grand Ole Opry is a radio show that broadcasts every Friday, Saturday and Tuesday night. It goes on the AM station WSM 650, but it just so happens that they have a live audience during this show. Artists from every decade come to the Opryhouse to perform on the show and we got a chance to see it last night. It was really neat to see just how much talent there really is in this town. We saw a few old timers and some up-and-comers. It was really fun. To be inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry is arguably the biggest honor a country music artist can achieve. The next person to be inducted is Josh Turner (one of my favorites) on October 27th. I would just be honored to play there one day...
We are having fun here and the conference is actually really good. Thanks for the prayers and I will see you all soon.
Love you guys.


Nashville Baby!

I am leaving for NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE tomorrow and I have to tell you that I couldn't be more excited. A small group of us "editors" for the journalism program are going to be attending the Baptist Press Convention, where Baptist college students from around the country come and learn about Journalism. I always enjoy looking for ways to further my education in the field I am studying in and this is a great one.
Nashville is an interesting city to me. Other than being the country music "mecca" and hopefully one day my future home, it is also one of the most dynamic cities in America. Presbetrianism penetrates every aspect of the city not just with churches, but colleges, book stores, music companies and other large buildings with crosses on them. It is very evident that Baptism and other demnominations have very strong roots in this part of the country. Sadly though, in the same areas of downtown where the churches are, there are also countless bars, strip clubs, homeless, prostitutes and other crime. It is interesting to me how Christianity has created its own culture in Nashville, rather than embracing and trying to reach the sinful culture that already exists. A good book that touches on this problem in the first couple of chapters is a book called Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp, check it out.
Anyways, last year when we were there we got to see Leann Rhimes in person so maybe I will get lucky again. I have better chance of noticing people because I am a country music freak and know wierd things like what Kenny Chesney's keyboard player looks like. We are going to visit the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and of course the Craker Barrel as well.
So while I am there I might check out some future places to play, to stay and to work so pray that I meet some contacts that will help me with my future career.


I Should Be...

I really should be etiher studying or sleeping instead of posting on this blog. Sorry it has been so long since my last. Life is nuts right now and I really am just trying to hold on.
It is five days until our show and I am so glad that I have something tangible to hold on to. Do you ever feel like sometimes you are just going through life, not looking forward to anything or excited about much, but just going...well, I would feel like that if I didn't have the show.
I hate to get on my blog and be negative. It usually bores people, or just turns them off to you because they feel you are trying to have a pity party. But, honestly, I don't care. I feel like everyone around me is living a lie. Myself included. We are aimlessly walking around looking for something importan, or safe or secure, when it is all going to turn to ash in the end. All we have is Christ and we neglect Him over, and over, and over. We spit in his face. We buy into this lie about what is going to make us happy. We see other people living the lie too, so we think its ok. Makes me sick. I am sick, in fact. Got a headache. We don't follow our hearts, we don't live life to the fullest, we just play it safe. "Got my house, career, car, kids. I'm good" Spit on that.
I graduate in three months and as soon as I do, I'm going to grab one of these things in the picture I'm going to start really living; Living for Him, following my heart and shaking my head at the fools who don't and want to play it safe instead.



Isn't it funny how fast life can change? I look to songs sometimes to help me through situations. Yes, they are mostly country songs but that is why I love country music; there is a song for EVERYTHING. One song that I have listened to a lot is "Startin' with Me" by Jake Owen. The song doesn't fit my situations perfectly but I definetely know how he feels. Another song that has been helping me is "Measure of a Man" by Jack Ingrahm. When I saw him live he started the song by saying how him and his father never had a good relationship. Well, my father and I have a great relationship, and my real dad and I are starting to come along as well, but this is still a good song.
Through all of these things that happen to me, there is an upside: song writing. I have written a lot of stuff lately and I would like to share one of them with you. Enjoy.


(Verse 1)
So here you are at my doorstep this morning
Cryin’ cause you made a mistake.
You played with that line and you got burned just hopin’
It could be for love’s sake

(Verse 2)
Well I’ve had my share of sin and I know
It can really set you back
But its gonna take a whole lot more that what you can do,
To get you back on track.

So when you feel like the devil’s more than taken his toll
And you’re worried about the price and the fate of you soul
Pick yourself up and look to the word in the sky
And know that the one who put you here ain’t gonna leave you to die…

(Verse 3)
Now I’m not saying that you’re never gonna lose a fight
But the price has been paid we’ve all been cleaned in His sight.
What doesn’t kill ya only makes you stringer more,
We all may lose some battles son,
But He’s already won the war.


Katrina...Two Years Later

I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 last night, a program that I frequent at nighttime, and it was a special edition on Katrina. It has been two years from yesterday that hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana and Mississippi areas and later hurricane Rita followed. Although, the problem was deemed "the single worst tragedy of natural causes in American history." A fair deduction, but how have we forgotten it so soon? Immediately after the storms aid came from churches, schools and organizations country wide, but thousands of people, children and mothers included are still displaced, living in cramped trailers, waiting for their homes to be built or not to be built at all. The need is still great people.
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that deals with those in need of a new home. The organization has been around long before the Katrina disaster, and it seems that it would be the biggest advocate of the need that is still in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Since Katrina, Habitat for Humanity raised over $141 Million as a whole. What percentage of that money should go to New Orleans? Some would say 40, 50 or 60% and some would even say more. The fact is that New Orleans as only received $14 Million...that's only 10%!!! What's wrong with this picture? They have spent over $30 million on advertising and promotions...that's twice as much money that New Orleans has received. There is a problem here.
I think the biggest problem is not Habitat for Humanity, however. The problem is US! The American citizens that turn a blind eye once the disaster isn't fresh anymore. We don't hold these companies accountable and we don't offer our services or money. Instead we worry about our own homes and how good they should look, when there are those who don't have them. We worry about our families and make sure they have expensive cars when there are children that don't have a room or a desk to do their homework on. We sorry about our vacations, some of them probably consisting of a trip to Bourbon Street, a rocks throw away from people who have nothing! What are we doing? What am I doing?
"To the least of these," Jesus said. I'm such a wretch.


The Band...

So my band has a show on Sept. 29th and through that much stress has been mounting. Between our equipment failure, getting members to show up to practices and trying to make ourselves prepared, tempers have flared and last night was the kicker.
This most certainly was not our first fight as brothers (Josh and I); We spent most of our childhood at each other's throught, on the verge of pummeling one another. However, since we created the band, it seems that it has brought us even closer, almost like a bond that must be their for the sake of something greater than our own egos. Last night showed me though, that this bond does not come without its territory. We were already both cranky, him from work and me from the stress of the upcoming show and Jason, our drummer, was tired from a long day that started at 5:00 am. To make it short, I had to walk away for a few minutes and gather my thoughts. When I came back, I decided it was best for the practice to end a little early and that is when things started getting hot. I voiced to Josh that he was being a jerk, (in not so kind wording) and he said to me that I was being sensitive. Ok, if you know both of us both of these statements are true but last night they were at their peak for both. If a girl had been standing there she might have been a little scared with two large young man in each other's face, but we both knew that it wouldn't come to blows. I left angry, halfway knowing he would call, only because I threatened him with leaving the band. I know, that is not a good thing to say. Anyways, Josh did call, much to my dismay and was very humble which is also uncharacteristic of him. But I know he did it for the sake of the band and how much he does want this to work.
I can't help but be reminded where God is in the midst of this. I don't give this issue to Him because I look at it as MY project that I must make work. I know I need to start letting him intervene, even in this and even if Jason, Josh and Charley aren't where I am spiritually.
Forgive me Lord, for not putting you first in this situation. Have you way with it, whatever it be.
Josh, I love you man, and I do want us to do this TOGETHER. You are my best friend.


Small Group 8/21/07

I finally got the internet at my apartment so I can blog now.
Small Group was really good the other night. There are so many people now and others keep on coming.
I had a pretty good outline set up but most of the conversation was taken up by my good friend Cory Ayers, telling us about his experiences during the last few months. I have to say that is was a little frustrating as a leader, trying to keep things on track with the outline, but the inspiration of his words, that were closer to a testimony, silenced the group as well as myself.
I have known Cory since freshman year when he moved on my hall. If you know Cory, you know he is a little over the top sometimes. But ever since freshman year God has been telling my to put up with this guy and I am glad I did. It is amazing to see his growth as a man. He never ceases to surprise me. I knew that when he went to England on a missions trip this summer that he would come back changed, and he did. Thank you Cory for your testimony the other night. Thank you for being an inspiration to me more than once. And thank you for seeking God continuously every day.

I am really proud of you man.


Baptism 2 - Small Group 8/14/07

I am reluctant to write anything about small group right now because I just got off work and am getting tired. I will, however, push forward, through the sluggish laziness and reflect on what happened last night.
I tried, last night, to begin a practice that has been very apparently lost in translation during this past year: starting on time. All of you other small group leaders out there can probably relate, punctuality begins to loose its important once people begin to become familiar with one another. One thing that spurred me on to re-emphasize this practice was something that pastor Neil touched on at church. He said something along the lines of "If only we could be as punctual to church as we are to our business meetings." It was really funny because it is true. How lackadaisical we become in the presence of such a glorious God. How much we take for granted the opportunities we get to worship Him or study His word. Its funny because there are those who are so serious about being there that they might be 15-20 minutes early and then there are those, well, I guess that don't come at all sometimes. Why can't there be an even medium??? Well...I guess I am done now, but the whole starting on time thing failed miserably last night but I hope that it will get better.
During our discussion time we talked about Baptism, of course and I feel that it went pretty well. I wanted to bring up some verses that others had brought up to me when they found out that I have not been baptized. With these verses, however, it was not my goal to rebuttal them with my own argument; if anything I agree with the verses in the context that they should be understood in. Instead, I was just offering the other side of spectrum, playing "devil's advocate" you might say, something I very often do with my group.
One of the verses was when Jesus was baptized in Matthew Three. John said to Jesus, " you should be doing this to me?" and then Jesus said, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Now, I am no bible scholar, but could Jesus be saying we must do THIS (as in the baptism of Jesus) to fulfill all righteousness? Some would say that he is saying both: that they should do it then and take it as a command. I don't buy it. People don't say one thing and mean two different things. I don't take this as a reason not to get baptized; I just don't think that we should use this verse to backup why to get baptized. Some would say we should do it because Jesus did it and that is good enough. Don't buy that either. Those very same people that say, "we should do it because Jesus did", can't even follow his greatest commandment, "love thy neighbor."
We also talked about the great commission as a verse to back up baptize. I really had to hold it back on that one. The commandment of the "great commission is not to GO, not to BAPTIZE, but to......MAKE DISCIPLES. If we are just going around baptizing everyone with discipleship we are castrating our church and setting it up for failure. That is why I don’t believe in guilting people into getting baptized, as some are trying to do to me :)
I am not trying to sound mean or harsh in my approach, I just want to speak from my heart and to be as real as possible.
I have decided that I do want to get baptized but unfortunately I have decided not to do it at the beach. I want to be a part of what my church does, but I just really feel that these past two sermons and other things that have transpired have all been one big plug to get as many people to do this as possible. Don't like it, don't believe it is right. I still love my church and still want my minister to baptize me but I want it to be genuine and from my heart, not some surrendering compliance.


What if...

What if what you thought you wanted you realized you didn't want at all?
And what if what you thought you didn't want had already built a wall?
What if the things we feel are actually what we know?
And the things we think we know are actually all a show?
A show not meant for the likes of the very ones you love,
But for the pointless and judging minds of a mocking crowd above.

Feelings come and feelings go, but I think this one is staying here...


Baptistm 1 - Small Group 8/707

So last night we had small group at my new apartment. I got a nice fica plant/tree from Andrew and a mystery gift from Josh and Amy. Thanks you guys. During church service last week pastor Neil (or Mr. Neil, as Brad would call him) spoke about Baptism and it was evident from the beginning of the message that it is a subject that he is very passionate about.

I want to thank my small group for the amazing discussion that we had last night. I learned a lot from what all of you had to say and that is truly a great experince. However, I know not all of you love to get into those heated discussion and sometimes would rather just share about life and struggles that we may be going through. I apoligize for not having a prayer and share time last night to those of you and I promise I will try to do a better job in the future of getting deeper and, as Sandals would say it, more REAL.

As many of you discovered last night, I am not baptized and, at this moment, have no intention of doing so. Up until about two weeks ago the issue of Baptism had never crossed my mind nor the many spiritual conversations that I tend to get myself involved in. Because of this the idea of Baptism simply never appealed to me.
A couple of weeks ago I was reading a book by Brian McLaren and he brought up baptism, calling it a "public...ceremonial washing-symbolically expressing your belief that you have previously been dirty and now you are clean." I agree with McLaren that it is ceremonial and symbolic and nothing more. I don't believe that anything super-spiritual or magical happens when one is Baptized. However, I do believe that anything, symbolic or ceremonial, that is intended for our almighty heavenly Father is to be done with the upmost sencerity and commitment, with a worshipful and sacrificial mindset, just like when we are praying or worshiping Him with song on Sunday. He deserves nothing less than our complete devotion. If I was to get baptized this very instant, I don't think that I could honestly say that I was doing so. Although, baptism is a public confession of faith, it is not about the people watching, nor is it even about the one getting baptized. It is about something greater, something that we should be striving for in every action that we take throughout the day (work, school, putting your shoes on) and that is glorifying Him who saved us from our transgressions. On the day that I get baptized I don't want the people who are watching to say, "Wow, look at the man/Christian that he has become." No, I want them to say, "Wow, look at what Christ has done in him. What an awesome God!"


My New Apartment

So I don't have a cool picture to post with this so you will just have to be entertained purely by reading. Today is the day that I moved into my new apartment and I have to admit that it is consuming almost all of my thoughts. Not that I didn't absolutlely enjoy my previous three years on campus at CBU, but there is something liberating about moving into a place of your own. There comes a with it not only a certain freedom, but a responsiblity that you have something of your own, something to take car of. I can speak for all men by saying that that is a good feeling to have. It can be a two-edged sword, however, and I hope that I can wield it appropriately. We don't have much furniture yet but I have spent most of the day on ikea.com and I have decided that I will make a pilgrimage out to Costa Mesa tomorrow. :) I hope you all don't think I am going "metro" because of my obsession with the decorating process.
A gi-normous thank you, thank you, thank you to my mom, Shelly Marx, for everything that she has done to help this process go ever so smoothly. Thank you so much mom, I love you.
Anyways, I am going to begin my process of living on my own...well, with my roommate Daniel who I am so thankful to have, WE are going to begin this process with optimism but also with a sense of skepticism. With this great freedom will come many traps and pitfalls and I can only pray that God will be the head of our house-hold and guide our actions and thoughts.
I am going home now to begin putting everything together. Hopefully, in time for small group tomorrow so it won't look like a tornado just touched down.
A song that has been playing in my car repeatedly is Keith's Urban's,(very old song) "Out on my own." The title is about the only part of the song that fits but it is still a good song. Check it out on iTunes or Limewire or whatever...


Small Group 7/31

Here are some more pictures from Turkey. I hope that I have will have more soon.
I have decided that I want to blog about all of our small group meetings. A lot has changed since I got back from Istanbul, small group being one of those things. I hold everything that we talk about during these times very dear to my heart and I would hate for the discussions we have to be lost somewhere in time. This will also give everyone in the group a chance to see what my thoughts are and it will give them a chance to respond if they would like.
Last night we began group speaking about Dr. Nancy Heche’s message at Sandal’s on Sunday. I enjoyed Dr. Heche’s message on homosexuality and I felt that it would be a good topic to talk about. It wasn’t the first time we talked about this issue as a group but one thing that surprised me was the fact that a few individuals don’t personally know any homosexuals. I do, of course, so it was interesting to see that dynamic. The discussion led to other issues that Christians often have a hard time dealing with such as drug addictions, crime, abortion and somehow we got on the issue of the death penalty. I have a particularly controversial view on the death penalty for a Christian so that was also a fun topic.
I was glad to see that everyone had a view on something that we talked about last night. It is very hard to get that every meeting. I want so badly for small group to be a time of discussion and sharing rather than me or Chelsea teaching, which we are not capable of at all. I have also found that people might not want to share their opinion because of their fear of rejection or others getting defensive. It has happened before in the group and I hope that we learn to accept others opinions and also learn to sometimes agree to disagree. Everyone has a valid opinion and there is no reason they should have to wait to share it.
In the end, it is important to remember as followers of Christ that we are not perfect. I am reminded of that every day. Often times, I am the most critical of those who struggle with the same things as I do. It may have something to do with my inability to deal with my problems, however, if anything, I have to be more understanding to those people. I think we are even called to more than just being understanding with others struggles. Perhaps we are called to interact and even sometimes hang out with these people. Hey, Jesus did it all the time with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. And it doesn’t mean that we are going out of our way to hang out with a heathen, we are all sinful and capable of horrible things, and we should view ourselves that way a little more often.


Another Inspiration

I hope you guys like some of the pictures I have been adding. They are only a fraction of what I have. Anyways, on the last blog I talked about a cd that really helped me keep focused while I was in Turkey. For this blog I thought that I would share about a book I read while there. At the house of the host family where we were staying there was plenty of good literature to keep us reading but I picked out this one. I don't know why I chose to begin reading it. The title is somewhat appealing but not really that capturing and as for Brian McLaren, all I had ever heard of him was negative so I already had a bias. But I read it and how glad I am! Another funny thing is that I usually don't read fiction unless it is classic, but when I began delving into the book I soon realized it was McLaren's clever way of keeping the reader captivated. So many times with "Spiritual Literature" from authors like Max Lucado or John Piper I found myself getting bored or I would understand the main point of what they were communicating and set the book down. McLaren's story, however, kept me interested until the end. I don't recommend this book to anyone who is comfortable or content with where they are in their faith. After reading this book, actually I have realized that's not a good place to be. I also don't recomend this book to anyone that is so sure about certain aspects of their faith (excpet for the biblical truths that the gospel communicates) that they will defend it until blue in the face. Instead, this book is for people who want to learn and are questioning how to to make their faith applicable in an ever-changing world. The book offers ideas and topics that I had never thought to question. It challenged me to the very depths of my soul. Some would say that a mission trip would not be the place to do such a thing, but I did and I think I came out of it better than what I went in.


Sorry about the Pics...

So I am very sorry that I STILL haven't put any pics up on this blog. I just got a job so that means I will be making some money and then I can afford to develop all of the snaps I took.
I wanted to take this oppurtunity to talk about some things that really inspired and supplemented me while I was in Turkey. Some of you may know that I am a big Thrice fan but I found myself not really liking hteir newest album all that much. I felt like it was repetitive and not very deep. While I was in Istanbul I started listening to the album only because I was getting tired of the rest of the songs on my iPod. I was appalled. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The lead singer Dustin Kensrue took his love for Christ and his amazing ablility to produce powerful lyrics and mixed it all together. I don't think I have heard someone worship God in that way. The music itslef is heavy and even dark at times, which helped my in Istanbul because it is a very dark place. But the lyrics are so blatantly worshiping God that it is nothing but inspiring. Granted, it is harder to make out what he is saying when he screams but I genuinely think that is his way of showing his passion. Songs like "Music Box", where he says "We are not alone, we feel an unseen love, we are sons and heirs of grace, we are children of a light that never dims, a love that never dies..." these lyrics inspired me and comforted me in a place where most are so lost. He even writes a song in the perspective of Peter, when he denied Jesus, called "like Moths to flame". I highly recommend this album to ANYONE that is a follower of Christ, even if this isn't your style of music, I think it is valuable solely because of the power of the lyrics. Thrice has found a way to worship God in their music without ever saying the word "God" and without making it so obvious as to pigeon-hole themselves into a purely Christian genre, where they wouldn't be able to influence as many non-believers. Way to go guys, you got the idea!


Still Learning...

Because of my extreme desire to not make my trip to Istanbul a momentary spur of spirituality or an "excursion", as Jeff would call it, that's impact doesn't last more than a few weeks after my arrival home, I have decided to take keep taking steps forward, and continue my learning. I think that this blog would serve as a valuable tool to not only express my new findings but to also share with those who may be an such a journey as I am on.
If there is one thing that I can take with my from my trip to Turkey is that I do not, and will never, have it all figured out. Too many times I see myself and my peers with an arrogant attitude of certainty; A boastful, defender's perspective that only further blinds us from new horizons. Sure, there are infinitives, there are absolutes, but one can ever stop learning (even from non-believers, Muslims and Turks!) and as a believer it is so easy for us to fall into a trap of thinking we have it all figured out, just because we have the most important truth of all, Christ.
So I will continue to blog, not as someone who knows it all and wants everyone else to think the same thing, but as a learner who wants to share his experinces with other, hoping only that he will have the chance to hear about what others have learned as well.


Back in the U.S.

Well, I am back in the states and it is a mixed bag of emotions. I first wanted to thank everyone that has supported me through prayer and gifts. I don't think the trip would have been the same without all of the support. I am also glad to be back in a country where there are so many believers. In Istanbul, a city of 14-15 million, there are about 1,000 Christians. We take for granted the spiritual freedom that we have here in the states and sometimes that lack of passion castrates our faith. Those people don't know truth and it is my hope that we continue to militantly intercede for those believers that are still there, so that they may be successful in moving Turkey. Islam gives no assurance of salvation and there is not hope for then while on earth. Pray that God continues to reveal himself, as He already has been doing, through dreams, visions, persecution of Christians, and conviction of sin.
Now that I am back it is time for me to get a job and school will start soon. My prayer is that I never forget that land and those people that I met We must have a global vision for our faith, and we must never become content or secure with all of the opportunities, that we often confuse as luxuries, that we are offered in this land.


Dılemmas 3 and more...

So I have been havıng trouble decıdıng what to blog about. I could tell everythıng that has been goıng on wıth the trıp but then that would be no fun when I got back. A dılemma that I have been notıcıng ıs the fact that I am not used to publıc transportatıon. Despıte the fact that Turkey has one of the most elaborate and amazıng publıc transportatıon systems ın the whole world, (ıf you have been to New York...Istanbul puts ıt to shame) and wıth good reason, the cıty ıs huge. They have buses, taxıs, trams, subways, ferryboats and they are all super easy to understand. They are also constructıng an underground raılway that goes underneath the Bosphorus wchıch ıs pretty amazıng. (If you dont know what I am talkıng about, now would be the tıme to get on Google Earth) But the thıng wıth Turks ıs, well, they dont really belıeve ın deodorant and on a packed bus ın the mıddle of summer that can get real ınterestıng. I mean they pack these buses, the doors barely beıng able to shut sometımes. I thınk ıt ıs funny but some dont. Anyway I lıke not havıng to spend money on gas (Its about the same prıce ın lıra as ın the states but for a lıter...ya I saıd a lıter) but I do mıss drıvıng. I am ınterested to see how that wıll pan out when I get back, granted ıf my car ıs stıll operatıng, haha because I have never not drıven for thıs amount of tıme sınce I got my lıscence.
Here ıs the thıng, though. I am havıng a hard tıme meetıng people and really connectıng wıth them. I am really dıscoverıng how much I am an ıntrovert and I thınk ıt ıs hınderıng my chances of sharıng wıth people. Pray that God wıll keep offerıng those dıvıne appoıntments and also pray that I wıll have the courage and strength to capıtalıze on them. Thanks for the support.


Dılemmas? Contınued

There was so much to say I needed two posts. If you know me, you also know that I lıke my steak and I lıke my eggs. Not necessarıly together, but I love them both at the polar ends of the day. There ıs no steak ın the restaurants, although I have heard that you can buy ıt at the markets ıf you look hard. They have döner and tavuk whıch ıs lıke lamb and chıcken they put them on spıckets and shave off the meat kında lıke ın Mexıco. Now, I enjoy these meals, especıally when they are put ın a pide - or sandwhıch lıke thıng- but they dont have eggs for breakfast lıke I frequently enjoy, they only have simit, whıch ıs bread. It ıs everywhere and Dr. Atkıns would roll over ın hıs grave ıf he knew about thıs place. The one good thıng ıs that ıt ıs really cheap. I wıll post more thıngs as they come up and trust me they do. I love you all and thank you so much for the prayers. Everyday gets better here and I am lovıng every mınute. We are goıng up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea tomorrow on a boat to swım and have food so that wıll be fun, especıally sınce I am newly haırless. I am also enjoyıng your responses to the posts so keep them comıng because they are very ınspıratıonal.
Through Hım,


Once agaın, I am sorry for the lack of bloggıng. I thought that I would use thıs entry to talk about some of the thıngs that I have been fındıng as, well, dılemmas. If you know me, you know that I enjoy some thıngs and I enjoy them very much. Let`s begın wıth coffee. There ıs none. Well actually, they have thıs ınstant Nescafe stuff that tastes lıke you bought ıt at teh 99 cent store. They just dont drınk ıt, they gıve ıt to the crybaby foreıgner and then laugh at them as they grımmace. They lıke theır chaı (or çay) and that ıs all. However, theır are numerous Starbucks but they are outragously expensıve. If you do fınd a good cup of joe, dont expect to have half and half. Instead, they have süt whıch ıs powdered mılk that doesnt get refrıgerated. Nıce. And just my luck, theır ıs no such thıng as Sweet and Low, only sugar cubes. I am ımprovısıng, however, so dont worry.



Hey everyone and sorry it took so long for me to finally post. So much has happened here in the last week I can't even begin to explain it. I love Turkey and the people are amazing. Many of them know English so it isn't hard to carry on a conversation. My Turkish however is really bad but I am learning. I developed some film and hopefully you will be able to see the pictures. It was a long flight here and for the first couple of days and we were pretty much speechless. I still feel lost many of the days here. We went to Ephesus yesterday but I don't have the pictures yet. Sometimes I wish I could communicate with some of you more but I am having a blast learning about the culture. Keep up with the emails and the prayer requests. Love you all so much. p.s. everything on the internet is in Turkish, so I can't post pics... sorry.


Getting There!

Hey everyone,
Things are moving right along with preperation for Turkey. So far I have raised over $2,000 and I only have about $600-$700 left to raise! God is really providing in this situation. I thank you all again for your support. Saturday May 13 we will be having a huge garage/yard sale to hopefully put me over the top on my money. It will be at my grandma and grandpa's house which is located at 35322 Bryant Ct. in Yucaipa. If anyone has anything they want to get rid of that they want to donate to the sale please let me know. I just got some more preperation emails from the people that will be heading up our trip. It seems that we will only be able to send one email had have one phone call a week. Also, we will not be able to read any personal emails during the five weeks. I think that I will just use this blog as my one email a week because I will be able to post pictures and stuff. Also anyone can view it and if you have a membership which is free you can post comments. I hope this works out. Thank you all again for your prayers.I love you all.


Turkey Preperation

Hey everyone and welcome to my new blog. Most of you that will be visiting this site are friends, family and supporters of my five week trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Thank everyone so much for the support and interest that you have given towards my trip. I hope that you keep checking back on the site periodically to check out on the progress of the trip and to see some of the amazing things that God will be doing. I am evetnually going to post pictures and other blogs in the near future. I will also be compiling a mailing list so please send me you email addresses if you haven't already. Thank you all so much again and God Bless.