Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye to 2010, may we never see or hear from you again…

In all respects, one should be happy that a year is coming to an end, and no one can vocalize that more loudly than I can. I have never been more excited to see a year go away than I have 2010. When 2011 gets here, I can say, wow, this is a new chance at life, and I can be happy no matter what happens.

Let’s see, how did 2010 go down? Well to start things off with, right around this time in 2009, like the 30th/31st of December, I was angry that I had to go back to Boyce. I wanted more than anything to be finished so I didn’t have to listen to people tell me that I was going to a school that was different theologically, and I spent all of my time worrying what people thought of me, and what I did with my life.

I was working for the North American Mission Board as a church-planting intern in Louisville. The LifeSong Church in Valley Station, where I served for an amazing year doing ministry alongside some amazing people, some of whom I regard now as family (you know who you are). After the first of the year, I saw the same movie 3 times within a month (AVATAR), I had settled into a dorm room by myself, and the entire semester, I spent my time doing schoolwork, hanging out with friends, and above all, not caring about my life (physically).

The turning point of my year, as well as my entire life happened on April 17th. Everyone knows what happened, so I don’t need to mention, but basically, I got a second chance. I got another chance to say to myself, I can live. I can have a life the way that God intended for me to have it. You do not appreciate life until you come within an inch of losing it. When I had the episode with my heart, the doctor in the ER told me that if I had waited to receive treatment by about an hour, I could have died. It was when I took the time to understand that God is the God who heals, and that he holds you in his hand when you don’t know what to do. My relationship with God got just a little bit deeper. I also was able to understand how deep friendships really get. VJ, this goes out to you. You are my brother from another mother and I love you. I understand completely what a true friend is because it was you who slept at the foot of my bed when I was sick in the hospital and scared out of my mind to be there.

I graduated from Boyce College, class of 2010 with a 3.5 GPA, and started my long road to recovering my life, health wise. It was a great summer. I ended up working for Chosen People Ministries, and I did some traveling. Mostly to Orlando on vacation, but also in June I was able to go to New York and indulge my passion for the performing arts and got to see the Lion King on stage. I got ready to move out to Texas, and in essence start my life all over again. I had to swallow a huge dose of humility and learn to accept that I couldn't have the things I wanted, even though God was giving me everything I was needing. I made some awesome friends this semester in seminary, you know who you all are ;) and learned how to accept the challenges that come with growing up. I am wanting to go onto the mission field, and this summer, I will have the chance to do that as I will be going to Thailand. The year ended with a great amount of understanding that when you commit your way to the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart.

I am blessed to say I have a journey that I am in my life right now, and I am experiencing that journey with another person. I started dating a wonderful, Godly woman named Donna in December, and since then my life has been filled with joy as she has been encouraging me and telling me to pursue the things of God in my life.

That is where I stand for the year 2010, so I pray that as we all look to the future, that God would bless our decisions, our actions, and tell us how we are to live.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Inspiration from C.S. Lewis

Here's the start of something new for you all who care to read my blog. I am alled to the mission field, and I spent 4 years at a really good college, learning all I could about ministry, the word of God, and now there's this profound, deep longing in me to take everything I've ever known and go even deeper. I am at a higher level of education and I am striving to do better at what I am doing because it is expected of me.

As the year comes to a close, I have to think seriously about what my commitments for the month will be. I have that read-the-bible in a year plan lying around my dorm room somewhere. I will be making a huge list of commitments to myself, especially in my spiritual life. I have to want these desires to be in my life, especially being a minister.

Here is what I wanted you to see...this is from the Chronicles of Narnia

"But you shall meet me there, dear one," said Aslan. "Are - you there too, Sir?" said Edmund. "I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there." - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

When you see "know me" obviously Lewis was referring to Christ in the most profound way.The readers are being shown that Christ has revealed himself in another form. Hearing from my own father (a preacher and teacher of God's word) mention about God in the Chronicles of Narnia was a big deal to me. He was explaining to me about the inclusion of the spirit world in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. The lion obviously represents Christ, and the witch is you see a great amount of allegory in the book.

Narnia is full of this. Look for the Lord in the books and you are sure to find Him there. The imagery of God's presence is everywhere in those books, and i totally plan to read them again, when i depart for the mission field in July to return to Thailand.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Now there is a great amount of triumph in my life. The Lord has been good to me, he has blessed me with a great family, a job, and I have an education finally. Well, I am pursuing one. I have a college degree, so I can sort of say that I'm smart but i'm....oh nevermind. I'm still in school, either way you look at it. Christmas has come and went. Believe me when I say that I am ready for this year to be over with. 2011 holds infinite possibilities for me as a minister, a missionary, and as a believer. I am already planning to return to the field to serve in Thailand with Southwestern in July. I had planned to go to Thailand in 2008, but then God had other plans, so I wasn't able to go.

But you know, not having everything as a minister doesn't matter to me anymore. I was so concerned about being licensed, being able to preach, but you don't need any of that to preach, and God is feeding me huge helpings of humility as I realize that only what he gives to me is what I will be doing in ministry. My life is perfect the way it is because I have Christ.

Be blessed on Christmas and in the last days of this year.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Arrival in Paradise

Here I am. South Florida. I have spent 12 years of my life living here on and off. Of those years, 4 1/2 of them have been spent living elsewhere. I was in college, and now I just finished a semester of seminary. I don't feel at home here anymore. Everyone I was close with, friends I have kept up with over the years, a lot of them have moved on. In fact, I was at the home of a family I know from back home, they moved to Alabama about 4 years ago, and I was hearing everything they have been doing, and keeping up with them, they have moved on too. Paradise isn't so much a paradise anymore. No matter how much wishing you do, nothing will ever move backwards, it always has to move forward. I look around, and I am starting to feel refreshed because this is home and your family is here, that's truly paradise all in itself.

Merry Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Return to Paradise - Part 1

I would like to give Florida a lot more honor than it needs. It's just a state, and to be honest, I really live in a colonial territory. New York owns everything in Florida south of Orlando anyway, so reality is, I live in Southern New York. The always powerful empire of New York City extends down to Floridian culture, giving New York hope to survive. That is where I am going. Today was one of those really lazy starting days. I slept in, and didn't get out of Fort Worth until about 12:30, so now I am waiting for the next leg of the long trip back home to begin. Even looking at it from the perspective of "going home", it just doesn't seem right to me. Home is where I have been settled down, and that has become Fort Worth, not Florida.

So my visit home will be great, and will be enjoyable, but I am looking forward to getting back to Texas for the spring semester. Lots going on, and plus with the job, and with the ministry position opening for me at Southcliff, I can be looking to the Lord for greatness in my life. The Lord is showing HIS greatness. NOT MY GREATNESS, his!!!!!

I am glad for the amazing things that God is allowing to happen in my life.

Until I reach paradise...

The work of Jigsaws

Okay, first off. Don't panic, I am not talking about that psycho serial killer mess-with-your-mind guy from the creepy movies, I am talking about God's plan. The master jigsaw puzzle is your own life. God is the person behind the chaos, the joy, the sorrow, everything good or bad, he creates the pieces to fit together so nicely that you cannot question what he is doing. That is just how my life could be described right about now. No sense of my own working happening, it is all God's decisions, his actions, and there is nothing I can do to question that.

I am now working for a great company that has been around for more than 100 years. I could not be more blessed where I am right now. I have a great job. I have to confess to you all, who are reading this, DO NOT EVER doubt the goodness of God, because you will never realize that God is doing something until you are ready to be without everything. God will take you away from yourself, he will give you everything you ever wanted if you are just willing to trust that he has it under control.

It took me forever to get that in my life.
Trust God no matter what, that is the bottom line.

I am glad that tomorrow is the official day for departure, heading back to Florida, because believe me when I say that you can expect to see a post every day. Especially as Christmas gets closer and closer. More and more great stories will be told, and new things will happen, especially during the "crossing" from Texas to Florida. Yeah, I will be driving back to West Palm Beach, arriving on Tuesday night at some point.

Pray for my sanity as I endure the 20+ hour trek all the way back. Lucky for me I get to fly back to Texas.

grace and peace.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Learning to take the Lead

In all my years, I have never been in such a position. God is moving in my life in such a mighty way, I just cannot keep up anymore. I must say, it is the best possible place you can find yourself in, when you know that what you are doing is the right thing, and what God has directed and ordained cannot be stopped or changed, that is an amazing feeling. I have been thinking that everything I have wanted to do in my life was moving in a certain direction because I felt it was good. But there's that word again "I". When you take the "I" out of an equation, you will see so much more to your life, because you will see it from God's point of view, in a bigger sense; your perspective, the "I" is like looking at a corner of VAN GOGH'S STARRY NIGHT, without realizing that the bigger picture is what you really need to be seeing, I can say that whole heartedly now, that I am trusting God to move forward in my life, never backwards.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Drumsticks and Cranberry Sauce (A Blog Chronicle for Thanksgiving)… (Part 1) WEDNESDAY

Where does being thankful really start? Does it start with the fact that we have everything we could possibly need in life because we live in America, or does it go even further than that? God is the creator, the sustainer, protector, provider, and as such our greatest form of thankfulness should come from knowing him.
I haven’t been the most thankful of people, especially during this past semester. I just started seminary. Yeah, you have read all of my blog posts during the summer, and you saw how excited I was when I was leaving Florida to move to Texas, but then when I got here, and I realized it was a game of “hurry up and wait”, everything changed. I get to school, thinking of having an apartment, of not living in the dorms, and then once again, I am found in a dorm room with a roommate, and having to act like I am in college all over again. Frustration sets in even more, as I see everything occur with everyone else around me and it seems like I am left out. I feel inadequate, and a leech on the backside of society. I have almost 4 years of experience working in restaurants, and there are literally no jobs anywhere. I applied to 3 different Chick-Fil-As and never heard back anything from any of them. I questioned what God was doing. God opened the door wide open for me to be at Southwestern Seminary. I was NOT planning to go to seminary after college, I was thinking, I would be on the mission field, that I would be serving overseas somewhere. God’s plans are so much better than we could possibly imagine, and I see that now. I was afraid for myself, afraid that God would leave me without any hope for supporting myself, but then God showed me, that it is okay to be happy, to be without everything that you have wanted for yourself.

I am thankful today to realize that God is working out the details for a plan for me, and I am working to get to that plan.

Check back tomorrow…

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

7 Months of God's Goodness

For those of you who don't realize why the 17th of November is a significant day in my life, let me explain: on April 17th, 2010, I had my heart attack and was hospitalized in Louisville, KY as a result. God has brought my life to a wonderfully blessed place. I would like you to get an idea of how far I have come.

The picture on the left was taken in September of 2008. I weighed over 300 pounds. I had no desire to change my life for any reason. I simply did not care about anything.

Over a year later, I am in my senior year of college, getting ready to make a transition into seminary, and God took control of my life. He took my very life itself and hung it in the balance between life and death. I didn't realize that having something taken away from me would change my life forever. The picture on the left was taken on Halloween of this year, some 50 pounds of weight loss later.

I started to take my life seriously, my health, everything that would glorify God, I had to realize that life itself is a gift that only God can give us. When we look at our lives, what has transpired, we must say to God, you have redeemed me, you have given your son as a gift to save our lives from the fires of hell.

We need tp be in a constant state of rejoicing in the life that we do have, rather than trying to achieve the life that we WANT to have. Believe me when I say that I have been there, when I have said to God, I wanted so much more for myself, but you have the greatest desire of all for me, God help me to see that your ways are perfect, and are higher than mine.

I have spent the entire semester, wondering what God has in mind for me. I don't think at the present time I will learn what that is, but God has something incredible just waiting for me, and I have to trust that in time, he will reveal everything to me.

Lord I pray for patience, and clarity, that you would give me the desires of my heart, and that your will for my life would start to be revealed. If it is not the right time Lord, comfort my heart and teach me to trust only in you, for that is where my happiness lies. I trust in you Lord, All the Days of my Life.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aspirations from Austin

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left. (THE MESSAGE)

This is taken from the context of Lamentations 3:19-24....I was hearing this this morning in church while I am still in Austin. There came a point in this message where so much was relating to me I had to start thinking about what god is doing. I have been writing a journal to go along with my class on Jonathan Edwards; and there was just so much I want to write in there on this passage and on how I have been feeling this semester. It has been an inner struggle for me. Things with school are typical of me right now, I don't have the greatest of grades, but I know I am making it. You know, an inner struggle is worse because God has ordained everything to be in its proper place in your life, you can see he is doing amazing works all around you, but YOU are the one doubting. I read the part of the verse "I remember it all, oh how I remember well what it felt like hitting the bottom". Yeah pretty much when you get to the bottom, you know what that is like, and I sincerely pray that if you are reading this, you understand that it is okay to hit the bottom. God will be there to pick you up and carry you out of that place. It may not be the greatest time getting out of the bottom, but you will get up again.

Blessings to you this week.

School is winding down and then it will slowly pick up again.


Friday, October 29, 2010

A deep look into Scripture...

I pulled this out of the archives of my college career...honestly I can't believe I found it, but this was during my second year of school, for my New Testament Survey class, so I pray you will enjoy reading this.

This is concerning one of my absolute favorite books of the Bible, Philippians, and this paper is a look into that book as a whole. BTW, I got a 97 on this assignment.

The Bible is a book that gives us many answers for life’s problems. It has
sixty-six books, two testaments, and thousands of years worth of values and traditions. My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 1:20. “I live in expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness be courageous, so Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death, my Life is the Lord.” In New Testament Survey II, we were charged with the task of studying a book, and doing background studies on that particular book, so for this task, I have chosen to do it on Philippians.
Arguably one of the most influential people in Christianity to ever live was the
Apostle Paul. He has written a large portion of the New Testament, including Philippians. His journeys were numerous, and covered thousands of miles through the vast Roman Empire.
During the time that Paul became a believer in the Lord, he was blessed with many
opportunities to travel and share the Gospel with anyone who would hear his words. Originally, the people who belonged to the church were doubtful of Paul’s conversion, and came to be afraid of him (this being from all the stories they had heard about Paul’s persecution towards the church and the believers). Even Ananias, the man God chose to restore Paul’s vision was not sure God was really telling him to go to Paul, but through Ananias’ witness, God brought Paul to a saving knowledge of salvation through the purifying blood of Christ Jesus, and eventually led Paul to the task that he had been called to, bringing the Gospel to the gentiles.
Because not everyone shared the same enthusiasm as he did, he was thrown in
prison for this. He was in Jerusalem, and pleaded with the judges to be taken before Caesar as his right as a Roman Citizen. It was a testing time for Paul, but it should be a blessing to us. A blessing because no matter how much we suffer for Christ, we can never compare that to the things Paul had to go through, so that essentially people like us could hear the Gospel and believe in it.
Paul managed to ruffle a lot of feathers in the religious scene of his day. He was
viewed as an outcast and a heretic by his own people, the Jews. Paul is described as a “Pharisee of Pharisees”; and his reputation preceded him. He was ruthless. He threw people into jail, separated families, and even had people publicly executed because of their faith in the Lord. God though, totally changed Paul for the better by turning him into one of the greatest believers in Jesus who ever lived.
The evidence is clear that Paul is in fact the author of this letter to the church at Philippi. The journeys that he took throughout the Roman world put him in a position that would more than likely have put him in the middle of that area. He had the chance to visit the places that he wrote letters to, but when he was writing Philippians, he was inside of a Roman jail. He sent word to them, expressing his love and concern for the believers there.
When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. He was a Roman citizen, so he did not receive the treatment that many believe to be associated with prison. His years of free wandering about the eastern Mediterranean, carrying the Christian gospel far and wide, were over. His apprehensions about the perils that might await him in Jerusalem, (Rom. 15:31), had been only too well founded; Cf. Acts 20:25, 38; 21:4, 13. He had been mobbed in Jerusalem, arrested there, and transferred to Caesarea, and finally, when he appealed as a Roman citizen to the emperor's court, had been removed to Rome for trial.” All of this occurred around the time period of the early AD 60s. Information from the Holman Bible Dictionary stated that “the date of the letter depends on which imprisonment Paul was enduring. The traditional date and place of writing is AD. 61/62 from Rome.” Another important detail about Philippians that most people fail to realize is that the jailer that almost kills himself when Paul and Silas had escaped the prison was a Philippian, but Paul responds to him with one of the greatest verse of the bible: (Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. – Acts 16:31). This person changed his life and ended up believing in Jesus because of what Paul had preached to him.
Greece undoubtedly was owned by the Roman Empire at the time Paul was out and about doing his entire ministry throughout the islands. He visited all sorts of important locations and had interactions with dozens of influential people. Philippi was a place that Paul had a serious impact on, and it ended up becoming a major location in the Roman world.
“It was first settled in the 6th century BC by people from Thasos, (the most northern island in the Aegean region). It originally was named Krenidos, “the springs”. Water sources were plentiful in this area. Philippi was the site of one of the most significant military engagements in Roman history. In a series of battles there in 42 BC, Mark Antony and Octavian conquered the republican forces behind the assassination of Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus. Following the Battles, Philippi became a Roman colony and discharged veterans receiving land allotments settled permanently in the area. (Cf. Acts 16:11-40, first New Testament mention of Philippi in connection to Paul.) The colony served 3 purposes: 1) A fortified Roman outpost, 2) providing for the poor of Rome, and 3) a settlement for veterans who had served their time”

Paul was writing this letter to the church at Philippi as a way of encouragement. He was in prison, and he was checking up on them to let them know that he was alright, despite his imprisonment. Most of his letter talks about how he manages to survive through the ordeals he has been through because of the moving power of God Almighty (cf. Philippians 4:13). The church had been growing in so many ways, and Paul was there to help the Gospel to spread far and wide. In Philippians 1, he mentions how he has been locked up in prison, but has been evangelizing the guards that have been keeping watch over him, and have all come to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The gospel was being presented to the gentile people, who are fulfilling the part of Romans 11:11 which says “Salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel jealous.” Paul had such a heart for the Jewish people that his work among the gentiles was making the Jewish people jealous of the gentiles.
Paul was convinced that his suffering in prison was a great thing, rather than something bad. He showed the people of Philippi that he was not going to back away from the treatment that he was receiving because “he lived in eager expectation and hope that he would not be in any way ashamed, but was bold for Christ, because his life will glorify Christ whether by life or by death” . Paul talked about the believers in Philippi as people that he loved and cared for. He even spoke of his love for them in similar aspect to the way that Jesus loved them. To compare someone’s love for another the way that Jesus loves us is a big deal. The gospel continues to spread and goes further and further into the known world of the day, all because Paul decided that he was not going to accept anything less than a victory in the name of Jesus. His letter to the Philippians is opened with a greeting in the name of Jesus. (1:2) This appears quite frequently in the New Testament. Philippians, being one of the genuine letters of Paul, has all of the features you would see in the letter. His introduction and blessing to the church, and a consistent prayer for the people of that city that they will follow through in their walks with Christ, as will be demonstrated later on in the book.
When looking through Philippians, you can clearly see that this is a book meant to be an encouragement to others. Paul usually encouraged the churches that he wrote letters to. There are a few ideas that I wish to stress that you can take away from Philippians 1.
I) Love others the way that God loved you. You were given life because some gave their life for you first.
II) Let your life be a God-glorifying one. Strive to exalt God in everything that you do, no matter what it is.
Paul did not have a problem addressing that at a moment’s notice, he would lay down his life for the cause of Christ. Let your life be lived in that way. Let it be lived so that Christ could be magnified in you!
My high school years brought about a lot of spiritual growth in my home church, First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. During that time, my bible study small group did a study from a series called “The Mind of Christ”. It is taken from Philippians 2:5-7 (Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.) These verses spoke so much significance to me, because having to develop the same mindset as Christ is never an easy thing to do. Our minds are corrupt from sin, and we do not have the option to choose that. We must live our lives in such a glorifying way that will honor the Lord.
Paul has such a great heart for encouragement. He speaks of his spiritual walk from a very Jewish perspective. He was raised as a Pharisee and had such a zeal for God as a Jew. His focus has been on the Lord, and having such a deep knowledge of Scripture adds to how much he loves and understands his nature as a believer in relation to Jesus Christ. Living humbly, not hoping to gain any earthly recognition, rather, and living for a heavenly recognition. To be able to hear God the Father say “Well done, good and faithful servant” was the only thing that mattered to Paul. He counted all of his suffering and hardships a blessing rather than something to curse God for. Suffering for the sake of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the biggest honor to Paul, and he was not going to settle for anything less.
In the last chapter, Paul demonstrates his genuine love for the believers in Philippi and gives them encouragement, even though he has been in prison in Rome. He had endured a lot of bad stuff (putting it bluntly). He wanted to encourage other believers of the time never to give in to the persecution and the torture they were receiving from other people because of the fact that they were believers in Jesus. He wanted to make sure that their joy was found in the Lord and not in doing anything out of “selfish ambition” (v.3). His idea (v.1-4) was to make sure that the believers in Philippi were not focusing on the concerns of their own heart, but being concerned about the worries and needs of other people around them.
Following his advice to the church in verses 1-4, Paul moves on to discuss having the same mindset or attitude as Christ did. In verses 5-11, Paul goes on to explain to the church the expectations that he had of them. In other words, this is how we (the believers) should be modeling our lives after. He speaks of the price that Jesus paid and the things that he had to do in order to claim our souls as property of God the Father. Jesus stepped out of heaven and took on flesh, also taking on the sins of the world. Paul was trying to display
“the two natures of Christ: his divine nature and his human nature. (1) Here is his divine nature: Who being in the form of God (v.6), partaking of the divine nature, as the eternal and only begotten Son of God. This agrees with John 1:1, it is of the same import with being the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the brightness of his glory, and express image of his person, Hebrews 1:3.”
(Matthew Henry’s Commentary, p. 590)
In doing this, Paul proves to the Philippians that there was so much more the Jesus than what
they had heard about him. He was the Son of God, living on earth as a mortal. Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough mention this in their book Encountering the New Testament, which gives the title for this idea in Philippians 2; Christology. Paul had come up with a new idea of thinking, something that took time to conceive, yet it made perfect sense when he discusses it. “This passage is of rare literacy excellence and theological richness Whole books have been devoted to exploring its origin, use in the early church, and message.”
Paul then goes on to talk about having a very healthy fear of God as a way of understanding how significant their salvation in Christ was. God was going to be the one to move through them, helping them act in an appropriate way that was Godly and edifying to everyone around them. It should be a definite example to us as to how we as believers should live our lives. We have been redeemed of all our wrongdoings. We should be in the world, but not of the world. We can at times be hypocrites, because we say that we are “believers” but then our lives do not reflect that, we have to re-examine ourselves carefully.
Paul speaks at the end of this chapter that he would be sending Timothy to Philippi as a way to keep watch over the people. He did this a number in times in other letters as a way to help the believers in the church to stay on track. Paul does this, and also reminds the church to be as “shining stars” (v.15). The light of God is something too powerful for a mortal to look upon and live. Imagine if you would, that a light like that is shining through a group of believers, the powers of darkness would not be able to stand up to it. It is a positive message that Paul leaves with his friends, the believers at Philippi, and also with Timothy who he sends to Philippi. Christianity is just starting out, since it has been almost 30 years since Jesus returned to heaven, but it is growing at an alarming rate.
In the same way as Philippians 1, Paul leaves the reader with a very detailed bit of encouragement. He wished to express the attitude of Christ in a group of believers. Living your life in such a way that demonstrates the presence of Christ in your life. Also, in the words of the Australian worship band, the Newsboys “Shine, make ‘em wonder what ya got!”.
I) Live your life so that it demonstrates “the mind of Christ”. Live it so that you have an attitude that glorifies God, and rejoice that you have God’s presence in your life.
II) SHINE!!!!! You have the light of God in your life. This is the light that comes from the saving knowledge of a personal relationship with the Lord. Therefore, let your light shine brighter than all the stars in the heavens.
This paper has gotten to my life in ways I cannot understand. I have received a great deal of personal conviction in the way that I have been living my life. I have not demonstrated the fact that I have a bright light in me, as well as the mind of Christ. I should bee more careful with the way I speak to others, and how I love them, even when they do not appear to be lovable. Paul mentions the topic of perseverance in chapter 3 of Philippians. Pressing on for a goal, living life as it were a race. (A lot of VBS bible study curriculum will end up using Philippians 3 for a theme that would probably include NASCAR or a relay race). The race is something that we as believers should rejoice in, because God is challenging us never to give up or give in to the temptation of quitting. There is going to be a very big reward waiting for us on the other side of eternity because we managed to persevere when we could have called it quits and did nothing about our spiritual lives.
Nothing should encourage a believer more than to know that people died for the sake of other people being able to read the Bible in English. People have risked their very lives for the sake of the gospel to be preached in so many different languages. Never forget to pray for those people. In Philippians 3, Paul talks about keeping a guard from people who are out to do evil and destroy others. “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” (Philippians 3:2). Paul’s heart is for the people and the persecution that they are facing from non-believers. The Jewish religious authorities throughout the Roman Empire were doing everything they possibly could to keep people like Paul from sharing the hope of Jesus the Messiah with people who would listen. Paul talks about how everything else compared to knowing Jesus is rubbish. “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:4-8) Paul means business in this part of the chapter. He is not going to let anything slow him down. He wants so desperately for the people of Philippi to come to the knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
“Unfortunately, the Jewish legalists were not the only threat to the Philippian church. Much that Paul had just said would also apply to the danger posed by an opposite viewpoint: pleasure-centered licentiousness. Those in the church tending to either extreme needed to follow the “example” (v.17) of Paul and his associates.”
The “example” of Paul and his associates would be how they demonstrated their “Christology” as well as their irrestible attitudes from being redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Paul wanted people in this time to understand that in order to “run the race with perseverance”; they need to understand why they are running the race in the first place. People who believe in Jesus run the race of endurance because the experiences they have with others that affect them negatively will only make them stronger, and make them into a greater witness for the glory of the Lord. Their respective testimonies of how Jesus saved them will be what drives them to go forward, sharing their story with others and to be the light in a place that has no light. That is what Paul is trying to say in this chapter of Philippians.
So far, we have looked at how Paul desires a great deal of righteous living for the people of Philippi. He has shown us how he deeply loves the people the same way that Jesus did, and wants to see that they remember how they should live; in a way that shows their Christology: representing “the mind of Christ”. We now look at Philippians 3, where Paul talks about running with perseverance the race that God set in front of us. Everything is done for the glory of God, and always has significance to it. Paul also talked about the submission to authority in this chapter. So here are the practical ideas.
I) Live your life like a race. You are running towards a goal, and the goal is the Kingdom of God. Everything that you are doing in your life for the name of Jesus is done for the Glory of God.
II) Respecting authority can work both ways as a good and bad thing. You need to understand that just because you are respecting authority it does not mean that they will respect you. Authority today does not always respect Christians. You need to know the difference between respect and persecution.
We have looked at an incredible amount of encouragement and discussion as far as Paul’s teaching is concerned. There is no greater joy, no greater encouragement than the study of God’s word. Philippians helps a believer to divulge themselves into an understanding of how to bless others, how to never give up, even when the world seems to come crashing down all around you, and above all to trust in God for all of needs. Paul opens this chapter with a big command that we should remember for all areas of our life no matter how bad things seem to get. “Rejoice, again I say Rejoice” (v. 4). Paul also reminds the church about how everyone has been given a special gift, and they should be using that gift to glorify God’s name.
Paul does not cease to encourage the people that he writes his letters to. Instead, he builds them up, over and over again. He urges this church at Philippi to press on (Chapter 3), and keep moving forward. It seems very clear that in Chapter 4, he gives a specific model for prayer. He desires that if anyone has need, they present their requests before God in heaven. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v.6-7). His idea is simple: If you want something from God, pray as if you know that he will answer you when you pray to him.
His greatest desire for the people of Philippi is that they stand firm for the name of Jesus. There is obviously nothing else that Paul could possibly se as the greatest joy, than for the people of God to be bold for their savior. He mentions in v.2-3 about how he wants his brothers and sisters to agree on everything when it comes to the Lord. He mentions in these few verses how they have their names written in the Lamb’s book of Life. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (v.19) Paul also makes it very clear in v.13 (probably one of the most important epistle-written bible verses), that with Christ, nothing is impossible. The people needed to understand that they did not have to fear. Christ was their ultimate strength. Paul was convinced that no matter what the people needed, God always had a way of providing for their needs, no matter how big or how small those needs were. Paul leaves with the familiar blessing that he is known for in v.23; “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen”

Every chapter has been a big blessing and encouragement to read. You, the reader, are always left feeling like God will always be doing something to keep you going in your walk with him. Paul’s final chapter for this book leaves the reader with 2 very important bits of information.
I) Pray as if God could answer anything you ask of him. Do not take that literally and ask for the winning lottery numbers, but pray as if you know if you asked God right now to do something in your life, he would do it for you.
II) Your faith is an important thing, and it is the greatest gift you have ever received. Do what Paul said in v.4 “Rejoice! Again, I say Rejoice!” You always have something to celebrate in Jesus, so praise his name for what he has done for you!
We all have that special book in the Bible that blesses us. Some people love to read the Psalms or Proverbs to get a bit of understanding from the great people in history. Paul had the teachings of his Jewish leaders, since he was brought up as a Pharisee. He learned so much from them about history and spiritual growth. Who would guess that in his lifetime, Paul experienced a genuine encounter with the Lord, and was able to write many letters to churches and people in order to bless them and encourage them never to give up on their walk with God! Philippi was a city influenced heavily by the Greek and Roman cultures. Their ways were a lost way. Blinded by ignorance, they decide to take a chance and listen to what Paul had to say in order to be made into better believers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s greatest desire above anything else was the name of Jesus being taught to everyone he came in contact with. He did not care how it would happen, the only thing that did matter to Paul was the fact that he had the chance and opportunities to go out and spread the Gospel to anyone who would hear it. Philippi had been controlled by Rome, and had a very pagan background. Like Paul’s experience in Athens (Cf. Acts 17), he helped the people of Philippi experience the “Unknown God” in a real and loving way.

This book can serve no greater purpose than to encourage others. Paul lived for that. He loved to get out where all of the people were, and talk to them, build them up, and see that they do the same to others (discipleship). Without Philippians, we would not have the entire bible. We would not have the knowledge that Paul gained during this time. We have been blessed with a great leader of the faith. We must never take for granted the work of the people who made an English Bible a reality. People died so we could read about Paul’s experience in Philippi. It is never to be taken lightly. The Bible is the greatest book ever written, because it is a book that actually speaks to us and gives us everything we need to make it through this life, and live it fully in the next!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cry out to Jesus

Today is one of those days in my life. You know, there are so many times where I don't stop and realize that I have a savior. Yesterday, I didn't really have the best of days. I seriously thought that it would have been the day that I get the call about a job here at Southwestern; Support Services, and I didn't get it. Honestly, I feel like I deserved to have bad things happen to me because I haven't been listening. God expects so much of me, and I willfully chose not to listen to him, and now God is reminding me of how foolish I have been.

Patience is a matter of trusting that God knows what he is doing at all times, and let's be really really honest for a minute, we don't always want to trust this. We want what we want, when we want it. But God looks at us and says, I want something so much better for you, I will make you wait for it. I feel somewhat overwhelmed knowing that I "thought" I was doing what God wanted me to do, but I am only doing what I wanted, and because of that, I am not going to have anything.

Don't always think that the best that you want is the best that God wants, because God always has something better than your "best" in mind.

Dwell on this today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ending of another month fast approaches

The semester is dragging on and on and on...I am wondering where an end will come to see light. It feels dark to me, I feel somewhat overwhelmed, but the one truth will always be that GOD IS IN CONTROL, and that's all that matters. I know from personal experience that I don't always get what God is doing in life. Especially right now is that true for my life. I haven't had everything I've wanted in life but I have had everything that I need. I have wanted SO much more than what I have right now, it is so incredibly selfish of me.

I wanted to be working in a church, I want to be listed on a piece of paper with a title next to my name, something like Outreach Pastor, or Missions Pastor, but I am just a person who is doing what God is calling me to do. I have to take myself out of the equation and realize that what God does, is what God wants, it cannot be questioned. God revealed only part of what he wanted for me. My church, Southcliff Baptist...there is alot of things that happened there that convinced me I was supposed to be there, and that really is the only thing that I can rely on as far as my placement in God's will. God has things in his hands, and I am grateful for that. I do not always have to understand God's logic, I just have to trust it.

I write this now as a prayer.

Lord help me accept what you have done for me, even if I do not see or understand what you have done in my life, I have a great life because you have given me life so that i might live it. A life in Christ is something worth celebrating. Rejoice in the Lord for everything you have, even when we don't have everything we have wanted.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Season of Change is upon me

I may be well past the stage of lamenting for the things I can never have back, but I still long for all of those things to this day. Every night I see myself standing on Market Street walking down towards Fourth Street Live, and veing among the familiar and the safe, but that is not what is written about my life. I am here in Texas, and as much as I have to get used to the idea, this is my home now, this is the new normal, the new familiar. I have taken almost 3 months to accept this horrifying fact in my life, but God has moved his hand in my life and confirmed, this is where you have to be, this is what you must do, and what you must accept in your life. I cannot look back at what was, because "what was" will never be, ever again, it can never be "what was" ever again. Because it has become "what is past". This is "What is now", so I must accept it.

Since it is almost 2 am, and I have a midterm and a greek quiz tomorrow, I will take some time to write a deeper post tomorrow.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Lament for Louisville

(Written while listening to Raj Ramayya - “Strangers” from the soundtrack to Wolf’s Rain and “All Things New” by Steven Curtis Chapman)

There are days in my life (speaking as a recent standpoint) where I wish I could be back in Kentucky. Sitting in a dorm room, looking out the window as the snow falls down. I miss seeing the snow. I miss the faces of the people I spent my time with. The long drive down the Gene Snyder to Valley Station in the middle of fall as the sun was setting. That time has long past. I have entered a vast wilderness that seems as though it is endless. God has taken hold of my life and revealed to me it is okay for me to be happy again. I am so unsure as I realize that the snow will not always fall here. I cannot walk out the front door of my dorm and walk to downtown Louisville anymore, in a coat while I wish it were warmer. What I would give to have this life back again, but if I focus on what I’ve left behind, I’ll never be able to see what lies ahead. Sometimes statements like that are easier said than done. I want to keep moving forward, but it feels like part of my being is crying out to God in heaven saying, let me have it back god, I want to have what I had a year ago, and live it ALL OVER AGAIN. I would be willing to repeat something that cannot be repeated.

I miss the comfort, I miss the Chai Lattes at Founder’s, I miss having the security of a meal plan, where I didn’t have to worry about where my food was going to come from. But the reality of this whole situation is that God moved in my life to the point where I can say, I shouldn't want to have this back, so Lord, don't give it back to me, let me have exactly what I am supposed to have.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Application from Psalm 71

Hope you enjoy reading this...this was a homework assignment I did for my Psalms class.

God’s Word is something that is alive and moving, and can inspire so many people. When I looked through the list of Psalms for this assignment, at first I felt like I was half-heartedly going through something that would take 5 minutes to go through, but that was until I read Psalm 71, and read 5 verses that I could relate to.
19 Your righteousness reaches heaven, God,
You who have done great things;
God, who is like You?
20 You caused me to experience
many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.
22 Therefore, with a lute I will praise You
for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing to You with a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You,
because You have redeemed me.
*from the Holman Christian Standard Version
71:19-23 talks about rejoicing in God when things don’t always work out the way we had hoped. Tonight (Wednesday) I was trying to go over to my church and my car wouldn’t start. This is after a warranty I had on the car expired and now I am stuck without a way to get around. But you know, tonight was also great for me because even in the midst of this trouble, I could choose to say, God I will rejoice because you have redeemed me, like the Psalter does in verse 23.
The earlier parts of the Psalm speaks of people who treat God like he will abandon the person that the Psalm is speaking about; well on the contrary. God presents us with difficult circumstances to show us that he is in fact in control of everything: good or bad.
“My mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long” (Verse 8)

Tonight also, I ran into someone from the Psalms class, and I didn’t have a smile on my face, and I wasn’t too happy when we spoke, and he stopped me right then and there and told me “Joel, why can’t you be happy.” I have been foolish ever since I got to seminary, because I have not been happy about anything, and God has been blessing me tremendously even though things have not worked out the way I planned them to work out. I cannot plan ahead for anything because a plan that is conceived by the mind of a human being is pure foolishness, because God can trump anything resembling a plan that could ever be done by a human being. His works, his deeds are noble, they are pure, they are for our benefit, and when we doubt that God is moving in our lives, we are lost.

1) Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!!!!
a. Live your life like a savior has redeemed you. I did this to myself tonight when I wrote this assignment and you need to take an opportunity to do the same thing. If you have a Facebook page, go into your profile and look at pictures of yourself from a few years ago. See what you look like, what you were doing in those pictures, and see what you felt. Were you happy? If you were, think to yourself, why don’t I feel happy now, and rejoice that the Lord of Heaven has given you a life because you have his son in your life!!!!!!
2) Realize that trouble happens for a reason
a. God is not a God of mistakes or accidents, and you have to see that in your life. Circumstances happen for a reason, and whether they are good or bad, rejoice that you have your salvation, always remember.
3) Voice out praises to God (in verse 6: “My praise is always about You”
a. One of my favorite “praise-sayings” was something Kirk Franklin said in his song “Looking for You”

The Asia Chronicles – Blog Post #4

Concluding the summer months in God’s Word…

I honestly can’t even remember where my devotions had left off, but when I was reading through scripture tonight, I was blown away. I finished reading Ecclesiastes and came to the realization that I had finished a 6-book endeavor that started in May.

Since May (probably the first weekend of the month)

I have read through:
• Nehemiah
• 1st and 2nd Samuel
• 1st and 2nd Kings
• Ecclesiastes and Psalm 119

I have seen the rise and falls of history’s most famous kings, watching empires be built up and collapse all around…But the most amazing thing through all of this is the lesson that God revealed to me. what happens to people who steer clear of obeying God…they end up succumbing to ruin, and their lives are nothing, essentially they fail because they choose not to do what God has asked them to do, but when they trust God and are obedient, the Kingdom is blessed.

In the conclusion to all of this (in Ecclesiastes) you see Solomon imparting the beginning of his wisdom he gained from God on the readers. I could relate to what was being spoken at the end of Chapter 12

Solomon was talking about “putting off the anxiety of your heart” and the “troubles of your body”…I can definitely relate to both of those statements just because having been through issues with my heart, things like that speak so loudly to me, it’s like God is shouting it to me through the words of King Solomon.

The next things that you will see as far as "Flashdevos" are from the New Testament: Luke, Acts, and Hebrews...

Monday, September 27, 2010

“The Asia Chronicles” – blog post 3

It really is a big accomplishment when you can say that you’ve finished reading a book, and especially when that book is written by one of the most well-known fiction writers around. I started reading “The Firm” by John Grisham at the end of the summer (I brought it in the car with me on the drive from Florida to Texas) and throughout the so-far semester, have been finding it in me to sit and read books for fun. That is just ludicrous for me, since there is so much that has to be done this semester, but I am just way too nerdy not to do it.

The Firm tells the story of Mitch McDeere, a Harvard Law graduate who gets hired by a very shady law firm in Memphis, Tennessee. Everything in the law firm is exactly what Mitch and his wife Abby have dreamed of, they get a house, a new car, promises for a great financial future, and yet they don’t know the horrible lengths the firm will go to keep their lawyers involved. I can’t ruin the book for you, but read the book and see for yourself.

Now as for my membership class at Southcliff, it went very well. I am excited to see where this year of school will take me now that I am officially a member of a church again. I say again because of the weird place of being in limbo I have felt for the past year and a half. God closed a door for me back home in Florida. Aside from being where my parents, sister, and grandmother live, I literally have nothing left there anymore. So when I joined up with this church tonight (having been through the almost 3-hour long class) I could see I have developed into almost like a family again. I am beginning to make friends, and develop a place where I feel comfortable. I haven’t had that since I left First Baptist to go to Boyce, and that was back in 2006. I knew my life had changed for good then, and when I was here at the church tonight, and I joined up, bringing my full membership over, and it was like the official fresh start mentality had kicked in for me, and this has become my new life.

The Asia Chronicles basically was a whole “fresh start” piece I wanted to express. I changed the style and layout of my blog, I wanted to make it seem like it was something different, and I expressed where I currently feel God is leading me, and now you can see what to expect from now on.

Tomorrow I am concluding a 4 month journey through the Old Testament in my quiet time, and will begin a 3-book study done by the world’s most famous doctor, Luke.

My FLASHDEVO schedule will look like this…

• Tomorrow (the 27th) → Finishing Ecclesiasties
o You can expect to see a long follow up closure piece on it.
• Gospel of Luke
• Acts
• Hebrews (basing this off the possibility that Luke could be the author)

And like I have said before, the 365 Project will be retooled, since it was something that was already done, and it needs to have a fresh look and something different, so I am considering what that will be. I am giving myself until October 1st (and then I will start a new journey) More than likely, I can tell you that it will in fact be a year-long playlist on my iPod, in which I shuffle a playlist with 365 songs, and each day get a new song…

Better Days are yet to Come…
(my new closing remark)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The Asia Chornicles" - blog post #2

This blog will be around to tell people about what I'm doing with my life for the Lord, and to give people ideas about how to practice ministry in a way that will win people to Christ.

This was what I wrote on my blog the day it started, May 21st 2008, over 2 years ago. I wrote this post with the full intent that I would be going back to Japan (this is after my first trip in 2003), and I did go back. I feel like i have fulfilled that desire personally by returning to Japan, and now it feels as though there isn't that much for me to do now, by thinking I have to go back (again). So now I am wondering what God will do with me now that I am here in seminary and working to get a degree.

Even if you look back a few posts to the one entitled "Who am I?" and I said I would go back to Japan. I just said at the ending of the paragraph in there, I knew I was called to the mission field. That was about as specific as I can be right now, because I'm not 100% I am supposed to be in Japan. So it's a good thing.

So we will have to see what I will do from here. For now, be patient, and you'll see how things went with my membership class tonight at Southcliff Baptist Church.


“The Asia Chronicles” Blog post #1

You may have noticed that my blog got a complete and total makeover, and has a new name and a new sense of “journey” to it. I really don’t know where my life will go from here. As I am getting seriously settled into seminary and into a clear-cut routine, I can tell you that my living will be focused on serving God and being faithfully obedient to him. I couldn’t get onto the internet, so I decided to write this on Word for the time being, and when I had access to a WiFi connection you’ll be able to read it.

I love the black color…It has that dark, gothic kind of feel to it. I want to go for a deep, serious looking blog, and I believe that a dark color will help emphasize my thoughts better.

When I moved out to Texas, it felt like I was starting over again. Like there was this massive restart button pushed on my life, and you have no idea how true that is for me; especially now. I came out to Texas with the intent on going back to Japan. Well, I am sitting here, unconvinced of that intent. Because I spent some time talking with people, and had experiences where I had to listen to their perspective on what happens when you pray out of selfish ambition rather than humble obedience.

“God, I will faithfully serve you as a missionary only in Japan”

Well I see the problem right there is that I was not willing to compromise, and God is showing me that there are possible compromises in the flow of life. I have been given opportunities to serve with a local church and the staff of this church have informed me of the existence of several Asian people groups (none of which were Japanese) living very close to the church, so I was left to wonder, “God if I am called to the Japanese people, then why is it that there aren’t any Japanese people close by to the school” so I am convinced that God is telling me that maybe I should close the book on Japan, and open a bigger book, the book of Asia.

I wrote this “Letter to God” after having read a chapter from “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” in which Elizabeth Gilbert wanted to cry out to God for help (and keep in mind, she isn’t a believer. So reality is, this should really be classified as a prayer, since I have done that numerous times before.

Dear God,

You know that I want to have a better image of myself and after everything that I have been through in my life, I am ready for a fresh start. I have come out to Texas by faith, with very little resources that I personally can provide for myself. I am being humbled day by day, as I am being taught daily to trust in your provision for my life. Wherever you lead me I will go, whatever you have me do, I will do. I know I feel called to Japan, but I prayed in this sense, God send me to nowhere but Japan. And on that Thursday night (September 23, 2010), I was sitting in the presence of a man who prayed a similar prayer, Lord don’t send me to Japan, and you send him there. If you decide to change that location to someplace like Burma or Thailand, and lead people to Jesus, then reveal that to me. I am open to do whatever you call me to do and be whoever you want me to be. I have been acting out of the selfishness of my own heart, and you must teach me that you are the solid ground I must be trusting in. Give me diligence to continually serve you. I don’t quite understand what you are doing in my life, but right now, your actions are speaking louder than words. You are providing for me, you are showing me that… “NO” I can’t do things on my own; I need you; I need your help to do all the things that I want to do in my life for every desire, everything about my life is something you have blessed me with. So I ask you to take down walls I have built up and reshape me into the person you have brought me to Texas to become. I am ready to be remade Lord.

In Jesus’ name I do pray…Amen.

On a personal note…I have come to the difficult decision to end the Year-long photo journal known as the “365 Project” and will give my blog a new year-long task when I work my way through the Bible in 2011. I may have pictures on my blog, but those will be topically related rather than for a daily occurrence. I was doing the project because I saw someone else do it, and I want to do something original, something that hasn’t been done before. Who knows, maybe I will review a song everyday or something.

“The year-long playlist” – Go through a song on iTunes every day for an entire year. Because when I did the Photo project, there wasn’t the guarantee I would be around to take a picture or write about it.

So you will read up more on my blog tomorrow with Asia Chronicles post #2, after I have been through membership class at my church and you will see what that has been like.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who am I?

In response to one of my closest friends linking me in his blog, (thank you Douglas :P) I had to make up my own personal version of the “Who I am” piece to be put on my blog ( I don’t think I have even done this on my blog before…ever, so here’s a chance for people to get to know me a little bit better.

• Joel Freeman
• Soon to be 25 (November 30, 2010)

I am fluent in sarcasm so be warned of my sense of humor, it will kill you. I blame this on the fact that I am a full-blooded New Yorker. I have been called a “Pizza Bagel” by my cousin (who is completely Italian) but the concept behind that description is that I have an Italian mom (Pizza) a and Jewish dad (Bagel); which is the most common family heritage dynamic of New Yorkers around. It is also because of this fact that I was brought up in an environment that focused on the Jewish heritage of Jesus the Messiah.

My parents are both missionaries working with CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES to share Jesus with the Jewish community of South Florida (where close to a million Jewish people call home). We moved to Florida from New York when I was 13, and it was there that I basically developed my tastes in music, movies and everything else that makes me who I am now.

My two biggest skills I have are writing and cooking. I have to be such a dork, but if I were to go out somewhere for fun, I would love to go to places like Central Market or Whole Foods (just to walk around and look at food; which is something that Julia Child did when she lived in Paris). My 2 favorite
ethnic foods are Japanese and Indian. (Italian does not count because I grew up eating that kind of food)

I have written a book that is in a serious pit of editing. “The Joy of Judah” is a modern retelling of the book of Job, from the perspective of a family of Jewish believers with a Holocaust survivor as the main character. Someday it will be published, but since I am pursuing my M.Div at Southwestern, I jump around to various things; and someday may be after Jesus’ second coming.

Like any good New Yorker, I love Billy Joel. He is one of my favorite musicians. Among the tops on my list are Mark Schultz (even though people say that “Running Just to Catch Myself” sounds like Weird Al Yankovic), Switchfoot, Third Day, TobyMac, Michael Buble, and Evanescence.

Recently I have come to like John Grisham books. I am currently reading “The Firm”, but one of my favorite authors is Ted Dekker. The Circle books are unbelievable (GREEN, BLACK, RED, WHITE). But like Douglas had mentioned being a huge Star Wars fan, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I love both the books and the movies. The same goes for Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. I love it when book series are made into movies and they are EPIC…But Harry Potter tops the books made into movies list for me.
When I attended Boyce College in Louisville, I would have movie nights in my room, watching the Harry Potter movies, and I’d even have food that was mentioned in the movies depending on which one we were watching. (Like Jelly Bellies for the first movie, cupcakes and gummy worms for the second, and dark chocolate for the third…you have to have read the books to understand how any of those food choices make sense)

Lastly, I will let you know the more serious side of me. I graduated from Boyce in May of 2010 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Missions, and right now I am typing this from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; where I am pursuing an M.Div degree in International Church Planting AKA the 2 + 2 program. So after 3 years of coursework here in Fort Worth, I will prayerfully move to Tokyo, Japan where I will serve as a missionary. I fell in love with Japan in 2003 after going on a short trip with my dad while he was there preaching (I was 17 at the time), and then 6 years later in 2009, I served for the summer with the International Mission Board in Tokyo as an intern, and it was through this experience that I confirmed God’s calling on my life to the mission field.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me better, and understand why I even write in the first place. It is a talent from God that I will keep doing until the day I die…

Grace and Peace

Monday, September 13, 2010

9 years later (an update that should have been sooner)

This was one of the most eerie pictures I have ever seen in my life, but the concept of it is so powerful. 9 years have come and gone since that fateful day, September 11th, 2001. I was 15, and in 10th grade at the time. I remember watching the buildings colapse, and the horror/realization that our country would never be the same again, and truly, that has become the case. The world has become a truly different place.

I am sorry that there haven't been any posts recently, but I had to sort out my priorities and school does come first. I worked so hard last night at getting reading done, and that was an important thing for me to get a grasp on. But I will at least give you this update that I think everyone has been hoping I'd give you. This will be on Facebook within 5 minutes anyway.

*About the 365 Project...I won't be posting those pictures on the blog anymore. You will find the pictures on Facebook in a last album on January 14th, 2011. So be on the lookout for those, since there will be a whole lot of pictures to be seen that day.

FLASHDEVO - A whole new chapter.

*Okay, this will conclude a certain series of books, I read through Lamentations, and i wrote down my thoughts on that in a journal, so I am now in Ecclesiastes , and will finish that up. Then the quiet time cycle will start all over again.

Ecclesiastes 1 and Psalms 119:113-128

I had done a series of quiet times before on Psalms 119, but I wanted to refresh myself on those passages. I have been jumping around like crazy with my journals, since there are a number of classes that I have to be writing for, and I haven't had a chance to update this.

But in this passage, there was a verse that stuck out to me. Psalm 119:124 - Deal with your servant according to your love. When I read that verse, I am instantaneously reminded of our sins. God deals with each person the same way, by extending his sacrifice of Jesus' life for ours. So it can be interpreted differently for each person, but I feel that it all leads to the saem thing, and that's the redemption through the blood of the lamb.

Now, the next book, Ecclesiastes; I have gone through several hundred years of traditions and history. Nehemiah, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, Lamentations, and now Ecclesiastes. I have seen the rise and fall of kings, and their cries out to God for help in time of trouble, and their extreme sorrow during their captivity, but this book has jumped back into the time of Solomon.

This passage (chapter 1) reminded me of Japan, and in many ways the cultural history of winds blowing to the north and the south. Japanese culture gives so much emphasis to nature, and the worship of nature, and yet, they don't know Christ. I have met many missionaries this week who readily go out and reach people to tell them about the one who makes the winds blow to the north and south. Be in prayer for these people today.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I must have left off so long ago, because my last post was more than a week ago, and it is becoming more than out of character for me. I am learning to get along with my school work before most things that i do in school, so forgive me in that there is just so much to these days, and I feel that i have to take time away from the blog. I am still devoted to it, but I have so much to get done in the days of school, and with possible jobs coming up, I really have to make all possible use of my time.

More of the pictures will come in later posts, but I at least wanted you all to know what was going on in this time. This past weekend (Labor Day) I was able to travel down to Austin, which is a big deal, because this is the first time I have ever driven some place for a period of longer than an hour and a half, and now I can say that I can go anywherem so I was visiting my family. Now school is back in serious rise, and I have to focus as best I can.

Look for the blog posts in the future, they will come.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

FLASHDEVO - Closer to the end of a legacy

You have witnessed the rises of many great kings in the past 2 months, through the books of 1st/2nd Samuel, and 1st Kings, now I am in 2nd Kings, and getting so very close to finishing this part of the story. It is inspiring to me to keep going with this blog because tonight I was reading "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald Whitney, and read Chapter 11 on journaling and I feel like I have to keep up with all of my writing abilities; things like poetry, thoughts on scripture, anything...

FLASHDEVO - 2nd Kings 15/16/17

Sin is a dominating factor in the life of the people of Israel. It isn't just the people living in Israel, the north kingdom either, you also hear about Judah too. Judah has for the most part been out of the picture, because the writer of 2nd Kings has been focusing on Israel, and its wickedness, and as it seems to the people reading scripture, that Judah has been in the clear and that there really isn't much sin to be speaking of, and that simply isn't the case here. ISRAEL IS WICKED. ALL OF ISRAEL IS WICKED. Chapter 17 talks of a major battle fighting enemies from other nations, but it makes mention of the kings in Judah and the sins and things that were done and not done. God is at work in the chapters of the pages of history, and Scripture is readable because God really wants us to see what he has taught people time and time again. There are consequences for sin.

Be blessed this weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I have reached a little more than a week now...

It's official. My life as a Southwesterner is taking off. I have spent just about a full week of being in classes, getting used to the swing of things here, and I am proud to say, I am in a routine. I was waiting for that to happen for the longest time. I was happy with a bunch of experiences I had today, I will have to list them out for you.

#1) My missionary moment (Psalms class)

My teacher Dr. Klein, asks all of the students to pray for a specific missionary, and today was my turn to share, so I mention my own parents during class, and there ministry with Chosen People Ministries. Dr. Klein speaks up and mentions that he knows someone from our ministry that I have known since I was 2 years old. That is encouraging to realize that I have come to a place where I have more connections than I possibly realize.

#2) The Wall of Honor (in the hall way)

I am fascinated by history, and while I was walking up a flight of stairs after class, I come across a huge wooden plaque with the names of students that served in the military during World War II. I felt it an extreme honor and a privelage to have seen that plaque. Knowing that people served our country and because of their efforts uncovered the truth of the horrors of war. I am honored to be in the same school where veterans have walked, served our country, and grew in the ministry.

#3 Missiology class

Another connection moment, I have to stop and think to myself, God why are you being so good to me, and bringing all of these random connections to me. We had a guest speaker in my class, he was serving as a missionary in Southeast Asia, and I found out from him that his son was on a missions trip in Tokyo the summer I served there. I cannot believe what God is doing, he is connecting me with all of these people, most of whom I have never met in my life, all for the reason of seeing how very not alone I am.

Rejoice for the little things you experience in the day to day.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Needing my Jehovah Jireh now!!!!

Today is a day where I just wanted to pull back and scream. I have to keep being positive, keep being positive, I say to myself over and over again. I am in school, and to be frank, it is amazing. A professor said a few days ago that we have the blessing and privilege to come to this institution and learn about the Gospel, learn about theology, learn about what God’s will is for each and every one of us, and there are people in the world who cannot afford this blessing. I put myself in my place very quickly. Yes, I don’t have a job yet, and my expectations about what would happen in the first few weeks of seminary weren’t what I wanted it to be, but reality is: WHO CARES? Life is an unexpected adventure and we have to take things as they come. Yes, I am frustrated beyond all compare right now. I don’t have a job. To be technical, I have not “worked” since November of 2008. But I have had everything I need. Right now, I feel that I am being oppressed because all I can see is negative. Okay, to be frank, I am for the most part a pessimistic person because instead of seeing the God-Given good, I immediately want to see the bad in things. This is pure demonic thinking. Because even though I may not have a job; I have a roof over my head, I have Salvation in Jesus and I have a working car. Lord, I pray for your sustaining grace to be put into my life reminding me of the things that I do have, and I pray for you to provide the things that I don’t have this day.

Remember me in your prayers today, I can really use them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

FLASHDEVO 2nd Kings 13 and 14

Today has been good for me so far. I actually managed to get into the library and find a quiet place to study. I went through 10 more Psalms for my Psalms class (trying to set a pace of 10 a day, will still have to read 10 more tonight), and I also started reading chapters out of my missiology book (which should be like review for me) This was great for me because I had a chance to get to a quiet place where I could focus on God's word for a little bit...

2nd Kings 13

I did my reading yesterday, I got halfway through the chapter, and then put it down. I hadn't had the chance to finish the reading for chapter 13 until today, but the reality is, I don't feel as if anyone is missing anything. The story still stays the same. Someone else from another family has become the king of Israel (the Northern kingdom) and they are still doing what is wicked in God's eyes. I am a little frustrated that in all of this ruling over what God has ordained, people still fail to see that their wickedness is what is causing their turmoil. Both of the books of Kings are nothing but heartache and despair, and believe me when I say, I pray that as I read the experiences of others in history (as a means to dwell on what can be done to correct oneself from sin). In the meantime, people are hearing about this prophet of God, Elisha, and he dies finally. The details of Elisha's death are what sort of thrill me. When I was younger, I loved Robin Hood (the disney version with all the animals) and it later led me to learn more about Robin Hood. In the legends, Robin dies and when he is dying, he shoots an arrow out the window and declares that he should be buried by wherever that arrow lands. In this chapter, Elisha says to Jehoash, the king of Israel to shoot an arrow out the east window where he was dying. The arrow landed at Aphek, and he told Jehoash that the people of Israel would have victory over the Arameans there. Again, in the midst of all of this wickedness (CF Verses 22-23) God does not banish the people from Israel because of their sins, he remembers his covenant and stays with them, DESPITE of their sins against God.

Chapter 14

Now a shift is being made to Judah, where Jerusalem is located. The people in Judah follow closely after what God wants for them to do and you see Amaziah. He is about my age (25) when he reigns as king over Judah. His father had been murdered in previous chapters and when he establishes his reign, he has the people who murdered him executed.
All of the events of his life and the other kings have been recorded in these extra-biblical books "THE ANNALS OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL". Oh what I would do to be able to read those books and see them with my own eyes.

I hope that this encourages you today.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 365 Project - Day 221

The time for seeing great things in pictures is now. As I am well into the 200s at this point, and I feel that there is no more room for internet pictures, so today, I went out with a friend from the dorms, to the Hulen Mall in Fort Worth. This weekend is a tax-free weekend in Texas and because of that we were able to go around to buy clothes and stuff without tax. I got a tee-shirt out of the deal. Anyway, while waiting for my friend Logan I go inside the pet store (probably for the first time in 6 years) and see these beautiful parrots. Lovebirds actually. I just have to take the time to marvel at God's creation.

Flashdevo (2nd Kings 11 + 12)

2nd Kings 11

In this chapter, you see that the kingdom of Israel has lived a life of perpetual wickedness and now finally, the kingdom has turned around and has decided to expel the temple of Ba'al, and they turn back to the ways of the Lord. This is all because a 7-year old boy is sitting on the throne. The northern part of the country had lived out of the covenant with God for 100 years. Joash is the king who has turned the country around.

2nd Kings 12

Here is a jump in topic, and I have discovered a system that has originated in the Old Testament, probably well before the book of Kings. In this chapter, you encounter Joash who had become the King of Israel, and now there was a commission to collect money to repair the temple, well in this case, the temple was rebuilt, but at the same time: Joash was assassinated and there was still wickedness throughout Israel.

I really don't comprehend how things work in the Old Testament because at first people can have this really great era of living for God and following in his ways, and suddenly that all goes down the drain as people decide that they have to live in perpetual wickedness. A lot to consider, even though we as believers can live in sin too, but still be obedient to what God wants. Funny how the world works.


The 365 Project - Day 220

There has come a point in this journey, now that my whole mindset has shifted from an old way of life into the new life, that I had to make my explorations happen. I took my camera before, during, and after class with the hopes of finding some great pictures to have to show in this blog, and I thought to myself, what better place to take a picture than the rotunda. In all respects, this part of the seminary reminds me in so many ways of the Pantheon in Rome, and I have never been to Rome in my life. (Someday though). But everyday, whenever I have a class, I walk through this room, gazing up at the brilliant design, the structure, the history surrounding this place. I am grateful for where I am. This is a circumstance where I am praising God for his provision and his blessing. This seminary is exactly what I have needed in my life, and today's picture reflects my feeling on what it is like right now to get an education.

I am refusing to let my life become what it was leading up to my heart attack back in April. I do not want to be overly stressed out about anything, I want to always look forward to life, live in joy, not fear. I am beyond blessed today to have the experience of going into the Fort Worth neighborhood with one of my professors to do some evangelism.

Dr. Matt Queen sat down with me the other day, after I had explained my personal fears of being in this neighborhood. On Wednesday night, I went to go get dinner for myself at a Subway off of Seminary Drive (here in Fort Worth). This subway is past I-35 and over some railroad tracks. This is after blatantly ignoring my dad's instructions not to go in that direction on Seminary drive, it is a very rough area. I went in to get my food, looking at the bars on the windows and front door of the restaurant, thinking how bad it had to be for the people who worked there. I ordered my food and bolted for my car and drove back to Southwestern. Believe me when I said I had wanted to stop and talk to the 2 women working in that restaurant. I could feel that the spirit was telling me to talk to these women, and out of my own fears, I ignored this and walked off. I felt foolish about this and sought out some help. Dr. Queen explained to me that he would be willing to go out with me to do some witnessing and today after my class, that's exactly what we did. I went with him and we went door to door talking with people in the neighborhood. We did meet 3 people, 1 of which (from what he said) was a believer. We were able to express the love of Jesus by just being real with these people and telling them that someone cared about them, and that truly is a huge thing in the sense of God's glory and eternity. I pray that more opportunities like that will arise.

AVATAR: A new perspective...

Today I was able to show my roommate Avatar for the first time, and it got me thinking about the possibilities of what it would have been like a little differently. Like, what if the mining company had decided to move hometree instead of blowing it up?
Plots in movies are there for a reason, and when they change, sometimes it won't always work out the right way. Still one of the best movies of all time in my opinion, despite the fact that it is beyond predictable.

FLASHDEVO (2 Kings 7-10)

As the story of Israel moves on, Elisha keeps on being who God had called him to be. A faithful servant and prophet with whom god was pleased. You see how wickedness had totally corrupted several kings, and how prophesies of their demise actually come true. There would come a time (this is in Chapter 10) that Jezebel (the evil queen who orders many prophets of God to be killed) where she would die, and dogs would devour the body. The only thing that was left of this wicked woman was her bones, and even then, no one would recognize her. God's power and God's word speak the truth, and to deny the fact that God cannot do great things is pure foolishness. I cannot begin to stress this enough. If you think that God doesn't deal with sin harshly, then read scripture. Read the Old Testament and see how people would disobey God, somehow still be right with him, and then have to suffer consequences for their actions in which they had to confess sins and an innocent animal had to die. Remember, God's word will always prevail over any weapon that man could create, and people who served God faithfully would be protected. Elisha is an example of a life in tune with God, because he would serve God with all his heart, and he would be rewarded for what he had done.

I pray that as you read that "FLASHDEVO" post, you expect more from me. I am sorry, I truly am, because I have to devote attention to God's word, and the method by which I do my quiet time is in this blog (reviewing what I have read) and I must read God's word. Please forgive my lacking abilities.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bridging the Gap

Officially this, is the first post on my blog from my dorm room at Southwestern. This will be the first of many this week, as I prepare myself for classes and for a multitude of tasks that are to come. First off, after the hectic week of being in Austin, I am happy that things are somewhat slowing down. I can definitely breathe a lot easier. I have to get a group of pictures together for people back at Boyce of the seminary grounds so they can see what things are like around here.

Thursday is my first day of classes and things will be beyond hectic that day. 3 classes in 1 day. I do have some breaks in between those classes, but things will be beyond stressful. I pray that God will remind me of where my peace comes from and how he has my life under control no matter what. May you all be richly blessed.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Updates from the homefront (365 Day 214)

It has been 3 days since I have arrived here in this strange new world that America calls Texas. I am loving every minute of this. i have spent a great deal of time with my family and am enjoying everything about it. Austin is a great place to hang out, I love the feel of this city. Today I was at a BBQ joint with my older brother, who has been living in Austin since March, so things have been fun having him around and spending time with him. Unfortunately, I cannot have access to the internet 24/7, so I will have to figure things out once I get settled into school.

The other pictures are on Facebook, so please check there for my most recent photos.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A much needed flashdevo (2nd Kings 3-6)

I have had too long of a break to leave the Word of God out in the dust. Truth be told, this is what happenes to us when we don't focus on God, we tend to wander off and have to re-focus. God doesn't move, we all move away or move closer to God, and he still stays put.

You want to talk about someone amazing? Read through 2nd Kings and read on Elisha. After Elijah goes up to heaven, he begins his ministry to the people and performs miracles. It is easy to see how people in Scripture could think of Elisha as God because of his miracles but the reality is that God is God and no one else is.

From a woman having enough oil to buy herself and her son food and to pay off her debts

to the ravens feeding Elijah and then Elijah going up to heaven on a chariot of fire, God moves and teaches those who don't trust him to trust him.

Sorry this isn't a little bit more thorough, but I am using Wi-Fi through a sprint phone and it needs to be switched off.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Update from the Road - 365 Day 210

This was a picture taken 2 weeks ago, but it was just added to facebook tonight, so that's why this is considered Day 210 for the 365 Project. Again, this is just consideration. It wasn't until I realized that I had basically the perfect picture for today. While on the road to Texas, I am traveling along the Florida Turnpike, I-75, and then I-10. We did encounter some rain along the way, and produced this absolutely incredible rainbow. My phone has truly turned into my camera as it is the serious picture taker for the majority of my blog.

We will be along the road to Texas for at least another 7 hours. I am writing from the car in Louisiana in I-12. My brother and his amazing gadgets make it possible, so I think it's funny that I only saved the post last night and now I am finishing it today. More will come later as I get into Austin. Check my facebook for the status updates.


Monday, August 9, 2010

365 Pictures 205-208

Just another typical round of pictures, including my avatar for Mad Men. I am praying for some phenominal picture opportunities once I arrive in Austin on Wednesday, so stay tuned for those shots, and along the way to Texas, I will try to take some with my phone as I am able.

Blessings (to my Boyce readers, I am praying for the first few days of your semester, may them be richly blessed by our Jesus)


Roadtrip Preparations (365 Project Day 209)

Tonight is my last night of life in Florida for a while. I am in the midst of absolute chaos at the moment (referring to my room of course) but nonetheless, I shall have the job done in due time. It feels like we will be traveling to California tomorrow, I mean it might as well be California, but we are heading to Austin, Texas. Why you ask? Well, officially speaking, I am going to seminary!!!!!

I will be spending the week with family before actually arriving on campus (a week from today) so for those of you that want to reach me, message me on facebook or leave blog comments, I will be around. Since we won't have internet for obvious reasons on the almost 22 hour car ride, I will just have to type out the blog entries until I get to internet access. I will read books, play video games, Hopefully finish 2nd Kings and read a few other good parts of the Old Testament...

Be on the alert. LOOK OUT TEXAS HERE I COME!