Known Associates...

In my last post, which was less than an hour ago, I told you about a new feature to my blog: "in My Ears" (look to the right). Well, that's not the only new thing lurking in the right hand column... (Doesn't that sound mysterious?)

I have a links section over to the right devoted entirely to blogs, which I read (and highly recommend), that happen to belong to some of my friends. I've had some people there for a while, but it seems like this past week, a lot of my friends all started blogs. So, I added them to my list.

Here's a brief rundown on the new editions; who they are and why you should read them...

1)Kurt Johnston- Kurt is the Jr. High Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, my last boss, and one of the most Godly, humble men I've ever had the honor of knowing. Almost all of what I know about being a pastor (especially to Middle School students) I learned from him, or others who learned from him. His blog isn't exactly jumping with activity yet, but I'm sure that once he gets going, it's going to be great!

2)Mike Lovato- Mike is a guy who I had the privilege of interning alongside of. Out of the three or four of us that were interns on the Jr. High team together, I would have to say that Mike would sit atop the mountain. He's now a Student Ministries/High School Pastor in Riverside, CA. He updates almost daily and has a lot of wisdom to share.

3)Josh Griffin- Josh is easily the coolest guy who has ever walked the face of the planet. He's the manager of PDYM and the creator/owner of theforce.net, the internet's largest Star Wars fansite. I have mucho love for this man. He's funny, energizing, encouraging, wise, and maybe a bigger nerd than me. Which is saying quite a lot. Check his blog out. He updates daily and has a lot of great, and sometimes, funny things to say.

4)Matt Jensen- Go ahead. Try and tell me that this isn't the most amazing picture ever. Uh huh. I knew you couldn't. Matt is another friend from Orange County. He's got to be one of the most creative people on the face of the earth AND he's an awesome Jr. High volunteer. Check him out. I'm sure that he's going to put up some of his uber-sweet work.

Couldn't Take No More of That Rock 'n' Roll...

Ever since I was about 11, I've loved music. I mean LOVED. I loved listening to it, which eventually led me to learn how to play it. Which, is great, because playing music went so well with another love of mine: singing. There is rarely a time when I am not singing to myself.

You may or may not have noticed that I added a new feature to this blog. If you look to the right, you'll see a new column called "In My Ears". In this column, I have links to some of the music that I'm listening to on iTunes. Go ahead...try it out...I'll wait...

See? Pretty sweet, huh? My HTML powers grow stronger everyday.

But, all of that was said to lead up to the topic of this post: I'M TIRED OF MUSIC!

Maybe I should correct myself. I'm tired of my music.

I feel like I have heard everything on my iPod 100 times. I can even put it on shuffle, and still not find anything I like. I need an "Extreme Music Makeover".

This is where you come in! I need your help! Do you have any suggestions of music that will infuse my, otherwise tired and bored, musical life with freshness and excitement? Please! Help a brother out! I promise I'm good for it. Next time you need some fresh tunes, you can come to me.

Leave me some recommendations in my comments section.

Maybe your suggestion could end up "In My Ears",,,


A Page From My Journal...

So, I know that in my very first post I said that I wasn't going to put anything personal up here. Actually, scratch that. What I ACTUALLY said was that I wouldn't put anything pretentious or self-pitying on here. But I don't think that this qualifies as that. So I still maintain my integrity.

Anyway, since it's been awhile since I've posted, I thought that, rather than try and write something completely new, I would post something from my journal. Now, I normally wouldn't do this, as I am quite the private person when it comes to this kind of thing, but I feel like God has really been blessing my socks off lately.

I've been following a Bible reading plan (or at least trying) for some time now. For the past couple of weeks, I've been going through Mark, and I've noticed that, in the past 3 chapters that i've read (halfway through 4 all the way through to the end of 6), there have been five mentions of fear. So, the page that I'm posting from my journal deals a lot with my response to fear. There's a lot of questions; most of which are not followed by answers. But, like I say in the title of this blog; this is all about going through the process of figuring the answers out.

So, I'll stop typing out my commentary on my thoughts and just let you read them for yourself. What follows is my attempt to articulate what is presently knocking around inside my head. Hopefully, you can relate...

Mark 6:45-56
WHAT GOD SAID TO ME: Once again, in this passage as in others in Mark, we see fear mentioned. This is the story of Jesus walking on water to meet his disciples. A thought just occurred: I’m not sure if I’m doing this section the way that Mike intended. I feel like I’m writing about the things that seem to stick out more to me than the rest. Maybe that’s me noticing. Maybe that’s God speaking. So, Jesus is teaching a crowd of people, and he tells his disciples to go ahead and get in the boat and take off. He dismisses the crowd and goes up onto a nearby mountain to pray. Here’s where my attention is captured: the Bible says that it was evening (5-9pm) when Jesus saw the disciples struggling with the oars of the boat because it was so windy out on the lake. Then, the Bible has a lapse in time. The next verse says that it was shortly before dawn (3-6am) when he went out to them on the lake. Why did he wait?!?! If he sees them struggling, and he knows that they’re afraid, why does he hold back? Why doesn’t he go down to help? WHY DOES HE WATCH?!?! Is he waiting to see how they respond? Is he waiting so that they can try to get through this by themselves? Is he waiting to see how much faith they have? Is this even a situation where faith comes in? Can it? Should it?

I don’t know anything about God’s timing. He has his reasons (which are righteous, just, and holy) for choosing when to help and when to hold back. I don’t know why, or how, he can control himself from interceding when he hears the cries of his children. I guess that this is why he is God, and why he imparts the fruits of the spirit to us, and not the other way around. He has massive amounts of self-control.

So, Jesus goes down to check on his boys. The Bible says that he was about to pass by them. This could be one of two things: either a) it indicates a simple matter of visual perspective (i.e. from where the disciples were it looked like he was going to pass them by), or b) it is indicative of God’s presence, a theophany (as in the same with Moses at Sinai). The disciples see him and thought that he was a ghost and WERE TERRIFIED. There is a lot of fear in Mark. But, in this case, the fear doesn’t fit into either of our previous two categories of fear: 1) fear based on recognition of who Jesus is and what he can do (identity and power), or 2) fear based on lack of faith (or lack of recognition of who Jesus is and what he can do). This fear seems to be based on good old-fashioned “I have no idea what the heck is going on”!

Is fear always a matter of faith? I’m scared of the dark. Does that indicate an area in my life where I need to have more faith in God? If I’m ever in a dark room and get scared, should I immediately drop to my knees, and examine my present spiritual condition in order to “get right with God”? Is fear a spiritual condition? Is it a biological response? Is it both? Whatever it is, or rather, whatever it is here, we see Jesus meet it in the same way that he meets all fear (or the other 2 kinds that we have seen in Mark thus far): he says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Now, to me, it seems like being in a boat on a lake and getting trashed about by the wind has nothing to do with God. It’s got everything to do with wind, water, being ON water (something that I am not a fan of) and not being able to do a dang thing to calm the situation down. Then, on top of all of that, the disciples think they see a ghost, and go all “Shaggy and Scooby”. So, Jesus shows up, and simply says “Guys! It’s me, Jesus! You’ve got nothing to be scared of!”

It would seem that, no matter what produces fear, whether it be a response to Jesus’ person and power, or a lack of faith, or a “What the heck is that?!?!”, the presence of the God who is in control has the power to say “I’m here. You’ve got nothing to be scared of.” Father, that’s the first time I feel like I’ve heard you in a long time. Thank you.

WHAT I'M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT: I don’t quite know what to do. I suppose I need to learn to (or maybe just straight up take action on) walk forward and live, knowing that I can have confidence in my life, my identity, and my calling based upon the loving and active presence of God in my life. Father, I have no idea how to do that. I have tried for so long, but I feel like I continue to fail at it. Help me. PLEASE. Give me the strength, your strength inside me, to do this. Help me to lie in your embrace at all times, knowing that you’ve always got my back because YOU ARE ALWAYS WITH ME!!!


A Country Boy Can Survive...

One of the things that I love the most about my church is that I get to participate in the ministry of the WHOLE church, even though my job is Middle School. On April 9th, I got to lead a song in the adult worship service. They wanted to do the Keith Urban song, Days Go By, and they asked me to do it. I think it was because I'm the only one on staff who has a Southern accent. It was such a great time! We even had a mandolin! But, I must confess that I was nervous. In fact, all three times we played, towards the end of the song I would have to shift my weight off of my back leg because my knee was shaking so bad! Anyway, since none of my family and friends from home have ever been able to see me play, I thought that I would post the performance here. So, here it is! Don't make fun of me too bad...