Author Archive

Searching for Identity with Eyes Wide Open

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment
Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker.

Many of us at one point in time have wondered who we truly are – do we believe who the world tells we are? Do we believe who we think we are? Ultimately, do we believe who God says we are? This is the premise of the book Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker. Initially, the book was released as four individual episodes (Identity, Mirrors, Unseen, and Seer) within a two month time frame, but they have since been released in one book. If you choose the “individual book” route, you may be able to find book 1 for free and then books 2-4 for less than $3 each (I think has the entire book for $6 as of today).

The book is about Austin and Christy, two teenagers who accidentally end up in an insane asylum (you’ll have to read the books to find out how). While trapped, the doctors try to convince the two that they are not who they think they are…but really Scott and Alice (existing patients). Austin is very quick to fight off these false notions, but Christy is not as lucky. She is convinced by the doctors that she would be happier if she had plastic surgery to become who they think she really is and not what she truly thinks of herself. This sounds very confusing, but once you start reading the book it will make sense.

Just when you think it is over, Dekker sends you down another path. Identity and self image are just two of the topics that are covered in this page turner. In true Dekker fashion, this book is tied into his whole “universe” of books. Make sure you read the Paradise Trilogy (consisting of Showdown, Saint, and Sinner) first if you haven’t…then read Eyes Wide Open. It’s okay if you haven’t read the Paradise Trilogy first – things will still make sense, but they will make even more sense if you’ve read the trilogy first.

I really enjoy Eyes Wide Open and think it would even make a great movie, if done properly. It is a must read for Ted Dekker fans and a great first read for those who are not familiar with his work.

For more information on Ted Dekker, you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Real Life or Movie?

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment
What's left of my SUV

What is left of my SUV

Have you ever had something happen to you that you look back on in hindsight and it felt like it was something that could have been pulled straight from a movie? I had this experience last week and it seemed so surreal! I was driving home from work, like any other day. I got about half way home and noticed that there was smoke coming from underneath the hood of my SUV. I had this gut feeling (which I know beyond the shadow of a doubt was God) telling me that I needed to pull my SUV over and get it out of the road.

I was able to pull over in this gas station parking lot (far away from the gas pumps) and I decided to just sit for a few minutes and let the smoke dissipate. While waiting, I happened to look over to the left and noticed a couple of people screaming something. I couldn’t understand what they were saying so I opened my door. It turns out they were screaming at me – “Get out!! Your SUV is on fire!!” I grabbed my stuff and got as far away as I possibly could. Not five minutes later, my SUV went up in flames. At the time, I was shaking so badly when I had the realization that I could’ve been in the SUV when it caught fire. God was definitely looking out for me!

One of the merchants of a nearby store called 911 for me and the fire department was there in a few short minutes. They hosed down my SUV and it was no longer recognizable. Fortunately, neither I nor anyone else was injured as a result of the fire (I was the only one in my SUV). A tow truck came and took what remained of my SUV to their lot and I spoke with the fire chief about what I need to do in order to file a claim with my insurance company.

It was like something straight out of the movies – seeing a vehicle go up in flames in an action movie. I was not able to sleep for the first few nights as I kept having these visions of being stuck in the SUV, not being able to get out as it was engulfed in flames. Last night, I took a couple of Benadryl and went to bed around 12:00 AM and didn’t wake up until almost 2:00 PM.

My youngest brother took several pictures of the remains of my SUV (in case my insurance company needed them). Below are just a few of the pictures.

Scott-SUV Scott-SUV Scott-SUV

Surrender and Love Go Hand-In-Hand

February 24, 2013 1 comment

How do surrender and love work together?

We often hear the word love used in many different contexts. “I love hamburgers!” “I love the color blue!” “I love my family!”  “I love my church!” What is the true definition of love and how does surrender come into play with this definition? Upon the recommendation of a friend/mentor, I read the book Surrender to Love by David G. Benner. When I started this book, I honestly didn’t know what to expect as I had never heard of the author.

The book is a trilogy of sorts (the second book being The Gift of Being Yourself and the third book being Desiring God’s Will). In Surrender to Love, Benner discusses the concept of Godly love and how the ultimate surrender (the death of Jesus Christ, God’s only son) provides this love for us. We have a tendency to believe that God loves us based on our merits…if we do well then God loves us more…if we don’t do well morally then God doesn’t love us as much. This concept has caused many a people to fear God in an unhealthy way. God loves us regardless of what we do. He may be disappointed in us, but that doesn’t mean He loves us any less.

I walked away from reading this book with a better sense of what true love means and that you must have some sort of surrender in order to have that true love, or it isn’t really true love. This book was an easy read and I had no problem understanding the terminology and illustrations the author used. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the concept of love and/or surrender.

Here are a few takeaways that I had from the book:

  • “Love is God’s character, not simply an emotion.”
  • “The Christian God doesn’t turn away from sinners in disgust but moves toward us, bringing us His redemptive presence.”
  • “The story of Jesus is the story of love personified.”
  • “Most of us who call ourselves Christians do so on the basis of belief more than experience.” – A. W. Tozer
  • “God isn’t simply the projection of our own image on the cosmos.”
  • “He (God) created us and knows us intimately…He knows how we respond to anything that threatens our need for control.”

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2012’s Top 10 Blog Posts

January 5, 2013 Leave a comment

The Top 10 of 2012!

I can’t believe 2012 has already come and gone! The first 3/4th of the year was not that great for me, but the final 1/4th completely turned that around when I finally got a job after being without one for almost 16 months. I am very excited about what 2013 brings and am looking forward to the new year! As one last reminder of 2012, here are my top 10 blog posts from last year. May 2013 bring blessings beyond your wildest imagination!

10) Really Church?!

9) Leaders And The Leaders Who Lead Them

8) When The Enemy Attacks

7) Strange Interview Questions

6) Help Me Raise Support For My Brazil Mission Trip

5) Introverts Unite (Or Not)…

4) Disney Kids Go Wild!

3) Just The Facts – Londrina, Brazil Edition

2) The Finder – The Battle Continues

1) Save The Finder!

See what my top 10 posts were from 2011.

The Sanctuary – A Tale of Mercy

January 2, 2013 1 comment
The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker

The Sanctuary – another great read by Ted Dekker!

I’ve often heard it said that mercy is not getting what one truly deserves. Ted Dekker’s latest book The Sanctuary is a prime example of this concept. Renee Gilmore kills two men and Danny Hansen, a former priest, confesses to the murders so Renee will not have to go to prison. The characters of Renee and Danny originally appeared in Dekker’s 2011 novel The Priest’s Graveyard. In this new book, Danny is sent to an experimental prison where he experiences first hand how punishment can be used to attempt to break a man.

Another one of the prisoners has been falsely accused of rape (the girl’s parents don’t like that fact that their daughter is dating him, so they make up a story claiming he raped her). Something happens to this prisoner while in the prison and he is unjustly given a punishment. Danny willingly takes on the punishment for this innocent young man. A primary point in the story is that Danny has taken a vow of non-violence, but the warden and those in the prison keep trying to break him so he will give in to the violence of his past.

While Danny is in prison, Renee receives a phone call and several notes from a mysterious and sadistic individual telling her that she must do as he says or Danny will die. There are a couple surprise twists toward the end of the book that really made it an exciting book. I highly recommend this read for anyone who likes adrenaline-filled books that keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Consider yourself warned – I couldn’t put this book down…I read it within a few days (on average it can take me up to a month or so to read a book).

If you are looking for other Ted Dekker books to read, check out The Paradise Trilogy (Showdown, Saint, and Sinner), Forbidden, Chosen, or Thr3e (the first Ted Dekker book that I personally read) .

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My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Albums

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment
North Point Christmas

My favorite album this year.

Since it’s about time to take all of the Christmas music off of my iPod, I thought I would share with you the top 10 Christmas albums I enjoyed this year. They weren’t necessarily released this year, just ones I listened to most for the Christmas holidays in 2012.

1) North Point Christmas – This album was released in 2010. North Point Community Church is the main campus of the church I attend (Buckhead Church). It contains songs by several of the worship leaders at both campuses including Seth Condrey, Chrystina Fincher, Todd Fields, Eddie Kirkland, Casey Darnell, and Chinua Hawk. Whenever I listen to these songs, it makes me feel like I’m at church worshiping our awesome God!

2) PTXmas by PentatonixPentatonix is an a cappella group that won the third season of the reality show The Sing-Off. Their unique sound blends pop, dance, and electronic music just using their voices.

3) A Very She & Him ChristmasShe & Him is made up of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. This album to me is a representation of a “modern day classic.” It has a very nostalgic sound and feel…it reminds me of the Christmas music we listened to when I was a child.

4) A Myx’d Christmas by Scott BlackwellScott Blackwell was the first Christian DJ I had ever heard. This is just good Christmas music to which you can dance. It has classic Christmas songs everyone knows plus a few original tracks.

5) When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr. – It’s hard to believe this album was released in 1993 because it is so timeless to me. Harry Connick, Jr. has an amazing voice that is much like that of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Listening to this album was the first time I had ever heard him. You have your classic Christmas songs along with original songs (my favorite track has to be I Pray On Christmas).

6) If Every Day Was Like Christmas by Elvis Presley – I can’t help but think of Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas when I think of Christmas music. This album makes me think of a time when all was right with the world (so to speak)….the simpler times. You didn’t worry about the troubles of today…you just spent time with your family and friends enjoying Christmas and all that came with the holiday.

7) Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay – Dan Haseltine’s voice just puts me in a good mood no matter what is going on around me. Jars of Clay has been one of my favorite bands over the years and this is a great sample of the sound.

8) The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant – Gotta show some love to the guys from the ATL! Family Force 5 has a unique sound that is all their own. This is just a fun album that mixes pop, rock, rap, and dance with Christmas music.

9) Christmas Remixed: Holiday Classics Re-Grooved – I am a big fan of remixes and mash-ups and this album is a great example of what makes Christmas fun and exciting. It’s the classic Christmas songs you remember, but with a twist.

10) Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed – Another album that shows several examples of classic Christmas songs with a modern twist.

What Christmas albums were your favorites to listen to this year?

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My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

December 25, 2012 Leave a comment
It's A Wonderful Life

My #1 favorite Christmas movie.

To say that I haven’t been keeping my blog up to date lately would be the biggest understatement of the millennium at this point! Since it is Christmas Day and I love movies…I thought I would join the likes of AMC and IMDB by sharing my favorite holiday movies. Enjoy my top 10 favorite Christmas movies:

1) It’s A Wonderful Life – This movie is the epitome of Christmas for me. What would life be like if we had not had the opportunity to be a part of the lives of those we love most? The most memorable line for me is “Teacher says ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.'”

2) A Christmas Story – We can all relate to wanting that one special gift for Christmas. This movie has so many memorable scenes that just scream out the attempt of trying to celebrate Christmas as a family. Ralphie and the pink bunny suit, poor Randy being bundle up to the point he can’t move in his coat, the “triple dog dare” of licking a frozen flagpole, and the family Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant all bring me to tears from laughing so hard…regardless of how many times I’ve seen this movie.

3) Elf – This movie is Will Ferrell at his best (not to mention the fact that Zooey Deschanel is in it). One of my favorite parts of the movie is when he gets a job as an elf helping with Santa at the mall. There are so many quotable lines from this movie. I love “You’re not Santa! You smell of beef and cheese!” and “If you’re Santa what song did you sing to me on my birthday last year?”

4) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – The first scene that comes to mind when I think of this movie is when they ask Aunt Bethany to say grace at the dinner table.

5) The Santa Clause – Tim Allen transforms into Santa Claus…enough said!

6) The Nightmare Before Christmas – Tim Burton at his Christmas/Halloween strangest!

7) Jack Frost – Michael Keaton’s character doesn’t spend time with his son because he is always away. He is able to make up for lost time when he becomes a snowman. Sounds strange, but it’s actually good.

8) Surviving Christmas – When his family moves out of their old home, Ben Affleck’s character pays the new family that lives there to let him spend Christmas with them.

9) A Charlie Brown Christmas – Not really a movie, but a must see every year for Christmas! My favorite part is when Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas.

10) Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – Another one that is not really a movie. We would watch this every year around Christmas when I was a child. This musical, puppetry take on the story The Gift of the Magi is one of the things I love about Jim Henson.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Photo Credit: By SqueakyMarmot

One Step Closer – U2 and God

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment
One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God

One Step Closer is a MUST read for any fan of the band U2!

If you know me well at all, you know that U2 is my all time favorite band. I had the amazing opportunity to see them live the last time they came to Atlanta and it was well worth the price of admission. The fact that they sang one of my favorite songs, 40, made my experience “even better than the real thing” (sorry, I promise no more U2 song title puns). One of my life-long friends got me a book for Christmas several years ago and I just finally got around to reading it. One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen takes the reader through twelve different topics regarding Christianity and shows how different songs in the U2 music catalog fit within these topics.

The topics covered include: Singing Scripture, Psalms as Thanksgiving and Lament, Wisdom as Desire and Illusion, Prophecy as Judgment and Hope, Parables as Offense and Mercy, Apocalypse as Ecstasy and Healing, Singing the Cross, Faith (Not Sight), Hope (Not Possession), Love (Not Power), Now (Not Yet), and Singing the Truth. I learned so much about my favorite band as well as what motivates them to do what they do. They are not in it for the fame and fortune – they feel God has given them a platform to share via their music. Some categorize the band as “too Christian” while others label them as “not Christian enough” but the author likens the band’s songs to modern parables.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes and take aways from the book:

  • “We don’t get what we deserve; we get what God offers. As Bono put it in a recent interview, ‘It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.'”
  • “If we thought it was all about us, it would <expletive> us up. Something happens, but it is not something we make happen. It only happens when God walks through the room.” – Larry Mullen, Jr. (drummer for U2)
  • “Great music, like great lives, moves us to see with more clarity.”
  • “The band has always had the feeling – not unlike Flannery O’Connor in her writing – that revelation will come if they wait and pay attention.”
  • “These relationships – to friends, family, and community – speak to a conscious effort to overcome the vertigo of being rock stars so that they can find ways to be normal people.”
  • “They (the band) decided very early on that they would transgress the rule that rock bands don’t sing about religion and politics.”
  • “It’s absolutely clear what’s on God’s mind. You just have to read Scripture. Those who read Scripture and don’t come away with God’s preferential concern for the poor are just blind given that there are 2,103 verses of Scripture about the poor.”  Bono (lead singer of U2)
  • “To make a difference, one must be different.”

I left this book with a better understanding of U2 and the thought process behind their lyrics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves U2 or is just interested in seeing how other believers in the world are making a difference.

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His Timing, Not Mine

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Wrist Watch

HIS timing is perfect!

Music is an integral part of my life. I listen to just about any and every kind of music (although I just can’t get into country or southern gospel). Certain songs have had more significance in my life during a specific season. At church, from time to time, we sing Always by Kristian Stanfill. We sang it again last night at Night of Worship and it really spoke to me in a new way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

Up until recently, I was listening to the lyrics and thinking “God will not delay?! My God will come through always?! Yeah right! I don’t think so…He isn’t doing a thing in my situation.” I let my circumstances (being without a job for almost 16 months) determine my view of God’s movement (or lack there of in my mind). I couldn’t see who God truly was because I was blinded by what was going on around me.

Something happened on Wednesday of this week to change my view of the above lyrics. I had a job interview and later that day received (and accepted) a job offer. Thursday night when I went to Night of Worship, I focused intently on these lyrics and realized the error in my earlier mindset. I was using MY timeline to determine if God was delaying or coming through on HIS part. It felt like God was saying to me “You know…I was delaying until I thought you were ready. I wasn’t doing it to be mean or to hurt you in any way. Remember, I know what’s best for you!”

Watch the video below – may the lyrics of the song encourage you and help you remember God’s timing is perfect.

Photo Credit: By Blake Patterson

The Dreaded Question

October 3, 2012 7 comments
Dog shaking hands

“So what do you do for a living?”

Meeting new people can be stressful, especially when you are an introvert. It’s not the new people that bother me. What bothers me is that almost every time I meet someone new, I get asked the dreaded question – “What do you do for a living?” Since I am still unemployed, I loathe being asked this question. I don’t want to be seen as Debbie Downer and bring everyone down. How do you respond to this question without being seen as “that guy” and have everyone avoid you?

For men, we often associate our identity with what we do for a career. We want to be the provider (whether you are single or married with a family) and without a job we feel like a part of us is missing. There is a great article on Relevant magazine’s website that talks about not letting our occupation (or lack there of) determine our worth. Unfortunately it’s easier said than done not to go down the path of doubt and depression when it comes being unemployed.

In a recent conversation with a friend, he reminded me that I am so much more than any job. When people ask me this question, his suggested response was to tell people the truth – that I am serving through world missions, leading others in discipleship, and using this time to grow spiritually. I know that I will eventually have a job title as an answer to this question, but lately it’s been all about what to do or say in the mean time. At times like these, I wish life had a fast forward button so you could move on to the next stage of your life (while still attaining the lessons you learned or unlearned during the “fast forward period”).

If you have been without a job, how did you answer the dreaded question?

Photo Credit: By Shannon Yeh

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