Monday, December 28, 2009

Top CD's of 2009

Top 20 of 2009
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. mewithoutYou – It’s All Crazy
3. Thrice – Beggars
4. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches
5. Antlers – Hospice
6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
7. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
8. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
9. Noah Jones – The Fall
10. Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring

Honorable Mention: Top 11-20 of 2009
11. Passion Pit – Manners
12. Relient K – Forgot and Not Slow Down
13. Port O’Brien - Threadbare
14. Monsters of Folk – Self Titled
15. Rain Machine - Self Titled
16. Krs-One and Buckshot – Survival Skills
17. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
18. The Dodos – Time To Die
19. Drake – So Far Gone Mixtape
20. Fun. – Aim and Ignite

Top 10 Songs of 2009
1. mewithoutYou - The Beetle on the Cocount Estate
2. Animal Collective - My Girls
3. Animal Collective - What Would I Want? Sky
4. Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death of Auto Tune)
5. fun. - Be Calm
6. Volcano Choir - Island, IS
7. Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the Move
8. Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able
9. Krs-One and Buckshot - Runnin' Away Ft. Immortal Technique
10. Passion Pit - Little Secrets

Top Ep's of 2009
1. Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind EP
2. O'Brother - The Death of Day
3. Bon Ive- Blood Band EP

Biggest Disappointments of 2009
1. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing
2. Brand New - Daisy
3. Kings of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence
4. Jay-Z - Blueprint 3
5. The Most Serence Republic - ....And the Ever Expanding Universe.

Most Looking Forward to of 2010
The National
Sigur Rios
Vampire Weekend
Arcade Fire
Kanye West
Frightened Rabbit
Jónsi Þór Birgisson
Dear and the Headlights
Broken Social Scene
Saves the Day
Band of Horses

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Last Two Months

As I sit in my old favorite coffee shop in Glendora I can't help but reflect on the things that have come to pass over the last two and half months. I have moved from Glendora to Moreno Valley, back into my parents house. Out of my parents house to Tustin only a little over two weeks ago. Now I find my self back from where I use to be, sitting in Classic Coffee in Glendora, where this last summer I spent a majority of my time.

My time spent at my parents house was really good. It is what I will refer to over the rest of my life as, "my time of two months rest." As much as I loved living at the 702 house in Glendora, after moving I realized how unhealthy my life style had become, by no other persons fault but my own. Spiritually I was just exhausted and far from where I needed to be in order to best serve others in ministry. Ultimately I think God knew this all along, because on the eve of me moving into my parents house I had somewhat of an spiritual actualization through reading the great Henri Nouwen. Upon reading Nouwen, I decided to enter into a time of spiritual renewal. I spent time alone with God, working out, reading, and a lot of time with family and loved ones in hopes of re-energizing myself. This time was not easy, I realized a lot of things about myself and how I had created some unhealthy habits in my life. At the same time, I am not prefect after this time. I still have a lot of things I have to work through.

About two months after being in Moreno Valley, applying for church jobs the whole time, I finally received a call to join a community in Irvine. At first this job was not my first choice. It was only part-time and while it paid very, very well, it was not my ideal. Little did I know the my ideal was not God's. After many meetings and conversations with the pastoral staff and members of the church I was hooked. While I realized that the community was not prefect in any fashion, what was important and what stood out where the people's hearts. The staff cared more about my heart, my passion, my visions, and my relationship with God and others than if my theology aligned completely with theirs. As the head pastor Jim said to me, "We can talk about theology, but what is important is your heart, no matter how hard you argue you can't change someone's heart."

After receiving the call and taking with friends and family it was clear, as my friend Casey and Sarah told me, "I just need to do this." More than anything, God showed me this was a move I needed to make. Not because it made sense or because it was exactly what I wanted, but because it did not make sense and it wasn't what I exactly wanted. It is in this way that it became clear that God opened this door and I was to walk right in. I knew I needed to find a place to live and another part-time job to help me life but I just had faith that if this is where God wanted me he would provide. A week later I had a great place to live in Tustin with friends of mine, not strangers, and another job where I would make enough money to live with just the right hours.

Now two weeks into the job, it has not been easy. There have been a lot of changes, questions, and struggles in my mind and heart already, but I know that God is there. I have had a peace with connecting to students that I never had at Baseline. During my first Sunday, as I introduced myself to my small church plant of 150, I was calm not nervous. As I sat talking with kids at my new church community who have been really hurt by their past experiences at the church, they where open and really honest for where they were at in life. And even after my first break down with Katie about how am I going to get all the thing done I need to in only 25 hours a week, I am good.

I know that this new place in my life will have its struggles and hardships but looking back I can see the work of God and that gives me comfort. I know I am in a community on the forefront of a lot of change (changing lead pastors, changing denominations, changing community visions) I know that God is present in times of change. In ending I thank you all who read for your support, care, and love; May God bless you can keep you and allow his face to shine upon you as you serve the God of who is working to redeem his creation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A New Blog

I am starting a new blog! But don't worry that does not mean that this one will come to an end. My new blog will be focused more about youth culture, things that effect today's families, and ministry. The hope is that this blog will be conversation more than anything, especially since I know I don't have all of the answers just some good ideas and more questions. This blog will be more for personal interaction and updates then for ministry topics or conversation. So I hope you follow my new blog also and still follow this one as well. Blessings to all. Hopefully more posting to come soon as life happens. Until then here is my new blog on Youth Culture and Ministry I hope you enjoy and join in:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate"

One of my favorite bands over the last 5 years has been mewithoutYou. Now only do they make amazing music and put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen in my life, but they are an amazing group of people and those who believe work diligently with the Spirit to manifest the Kingdom of God in the world. One of their songs from the their newest CD "It's call crazy, It's all false, It's all a dream, It's Alright," has been stuck in my mind and I have meditated on it a lot as of late. I wanted to share the words to the song in hopes of you who read finding as much grace, love, and wisdom in the song as I have. Blessings to all.

Track 10: "The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate"

As the Moon rose and the hour grew late, the day help on a Coconut estate raked up the dry leaves that fell dead from the Trees, which they burned in a pile by the lake.
The Beetle King summoned his men, and from the top of the Rhododendron stem: Calling all volunteers who can carry back here, the Great Mystery's been lit once again.
One Beetle emerged from the crowd in a fashionable abdomen shroud, said: I'm a Professor, you see, that's no mystery to me...
I'll be back soon, successful and proud.
But when the Beetle Professor returned he crawled on all six, as his wings had been burned, and described to the finest detail all he'd learned.
There was neither a light nor a heat in his words.
The deeply dissatisfied King climbed the same stem to announce the same thing, but in his second appeal sought to sweeten the deal with a silver Padparadscha ring.
The Lieutenant stepped out from the line as he lassoed his thorax with twine, thinking: I'm stronger and braver and I'll earn the King's favor.
One day all he has will be mine!
But for all the Lieutenant's conceit he, too, returned singed and admitting defeat: I had no choice, please believe, but retreat...
It was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat!
And it cracked like the thunder and bloodshot my eyes, though smothered with sticks it advanced undeterred.
Carelessly cast an ash cloud to the sky, my Lord, like a flock of dark, vanishing birds.

The Beetle King slammed down his fist: Your flowery description's no better than his!
We sent for the Great Light and you bring us this?
We didn't ask what it seems like, we asked what it IS!
His Majesty's hour at last has drawn nigh!
The elegant Queen took her leave from his side, without understanding but without asking why, gathered their Kids to come bid their goodbyes.
And the father explained: You've been somewhat deceived...
We've all called me your dad, but your True Dad's not me.
I lay next to your mom and your forms were conceived, your Father is the Life within all that you see.
He fills up the ponds as He empties the clouds, holds without hands and He speaks without sounds, provides us with the Cow's waste and coconuts to eat, giving one that nice salt-taste and the other a sweet.
Sends the black carriage the day Death shows its face, thinning our numbers with Kindness and Grace.
And just as a Flower and its Fragrance are one so must each of you and your Father become.
Now distribute my scepter, my crown and my throne and all we've known as 'wealth' to the poor and alone...
Without further hesitation, without looking back home, the King flew headlong into the blazing unknown!
And as the Smoke King curled higher and higher, the troops, flying loops 'round the telephone wires, they said: Our Beloved's not dead, but His Highness instead has been utterly changed into Fire!!!

Why not be utterly changed into Fire?...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Moving: from "loneliness to solitude?"

Today I woke up at my parents house for the first time in a long time without a predetermined date of leaving. Over the last eight years I have lived in community with others - for the most part - but now I do not. Saturday I moved out of the house I had lived in for four years to move back home to Moreno Valley and into my parents house. The main reason for this move is because it will allow me to save money as I look for a job. While my parents are doing all they can to make this move easy on me, it has still been and will continue to be hard because other than my parents, I do not have any form of community where I now live. All of my close friends over the last eight years live at least a 45 minute drive away from me. On top of this Katie, my love, lives an hour and fifteen minutes away.

As I was packing up my stuff I came across a book a old friend of mine told me to read by one of my favorite authors, Henri J. M. Nouwen. The book is titled, "Reaching Out: The Three Movements of The Spiritual Life." As I started to put the book into the endless box of books something stopped me. I pulled the book from its space between cardboard walls and it's paper back bound friends and placed it on top of a pile of the to be read. Today, as I packed up my bag to go sit at a local coffee shop and read, I grabbed my four current books I am readying. Placing the books in my bag the spirit of God cried out to me within my heart for something new. I looked up to the small group of books I had placed in the "to be read box," which Saturday found their way onto the only small bookshelf I have in my current room. As my eyes panned across the book titles, they landed on "Reaching Out." Somehow I knew this was the one. I grabbed the book, replacing it for another, closed my bag and headed out.

Reaching into my bag, now at the coffee shop, I grabbed Nouwen's book and started to read..."It is far from easy to enter into the painful experience of loneliness. You like to stay away from it..." As I continued to read God began to open my heart to this present time and place I currently found myself in: a time of loneliness. In the first part of Nouwen's book he attempts to move the reader from a place of "loneliness to solitude." Reading through the book I realized that somehow I had become an American consumer cliche, filling my life with stuff such as reading, tv, movies, and even friends never allowing myself to be alone with my thoughts. Somehow in the mist of life I had crowed out my thoughts and forsook solitude for busyness and noise. Even though I swore to myself I hadn't, I had drowned out the silent voice of God with other things. Without me even knowing it, I think God has somehow forced me into this uncomfortable time and place in life. Why? Because I need to be in this time and place during this point of my least that is what it seems like for now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Community: Beauty in Diversity

Katie and I had a conversation the other night centered around our quest for community. On the heels of my last blog post and many conversations as of late with good friends, Katie and I have both thirsted more for a purposeful community with others. Even though to be completely honest both us do not feel that we have that right now, especially because in the next week and half we will both be moving home into our parent's houses. So we have decided that we will start taking up some of the practices that we hope our future community will take up. The first practice we are taking up is reading a book together in hopes of stirring up conversation among us that will help to both challenge our current points of view as well as help us grow. The second practice we have taken up is prayer. We hope and believe that this practice will allow us to focus our hearts and minds on God's kingdom purpose in the world and where and what he is calling us both to. Thirdly, we are in the process of seeking a church community that we can serve and worship. While this process is complicated by me looking for a job in youth ministry, we know that God has a place for us.

The goal of all of this is that wherever God might lead us, we might be people who manifest God's Kingdom of grace and love in the world. At the core of all of this conversation is our belief that Christianity is never meant to be done alone, but is meant to be done in community. After all as Christians we are to be a image of our God, who exists in prefect community as the Tri-une God. A community of people offers not only a place where the Kingdom of God can be manifested among a group of people, but a community offers a safe place of individuals to grow in their faith. As Thomas Malcolm writes, "Every person needs on safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar." In this way community can challenge and help those within it to struggle, learn, and grow. This is why I really appreciate the intentional community that my friend Garret is a part of. His community is made up of people who in love can disagree while at the same time love each other.

It has become more evident to me that this is one thing the church in the post-modern world is really struggling with. It seems that somehow people believe that diversity equals the fear of "liberalism" or "heresy," which it does not (understand I am not advocating for a diversity in major theological tenets such as the doctrine of the trinity or who salvation is found in). Recently I was affect by this when I was denied from a church position because I was more open to a diversity of options within church ministry leadership. After being denied I was scared I was alone in my convictions among evangelicals who are not academics. Yet, the other day I was reading "The Jesus of Suburbia" by Mike Erre, pastor of a large church in Orange County. Mike Erre talked about the beauty of theological diversity among his church ministry staff. He said that it allowed for a fuller understanding of who God is. I really appreciated this. After all looking at the Church in the New Testament we can see that not everyone saw eye-to-eye. There were disagreements among Peter and Paul, arguments over what to do about Christian-Non-Jews, as well as other things. At the same time, is not our God diverse and unified in purpose at the same time? Call me liberal, even though I am not, but I think that the beauty of the church is found in a community of people that have a diversity of options. After all how else are we to grow if we all agree on everything?

So with that said, may whatever your community look like may it be a place of trust, a place of diversity, and a place of the beauty of God's worldwide Church.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

After a week with good friends...

Time with good people always leaves me feeling alive and full of hope. Maybe it is the memories we have shared together or the love we share together, but more than that I think it is the power of a community of people sharing life together. Over this last week I have felt as if I have been a part of something more than my normal life offers, life with others. Over the last week I have been in long car rides with 6 other people, shady motels, a joyous wedding, jumping from cliffs, sharing meals, at a house concert, and sleeping a little less. While, yes I have to admit it feels good to have a little time to myself and alone time with Katie, I know life together with others is far better.

It is funny because Katie and I are in a place of what I can only describe as somewhere between getting by and hopelessness. Both of us are on the eve of moving back home into our parents houses because we are both without jobs and therefore without money to pay for a place to live. We want to get married more than anything else in the world, but really have no means to. My pride has kept me from running around and applying for any part-time job that pays minimum wage. In fact tomorrow's task of the day is filing for unemployment.

What has been the craziest thing about these two experiences happening simultaneously is that somehow I have been left hopefull. In a recent conversation with a great musician, Andrea Hamilton, I has reminded of a prophecy, that a women who cared for me more than I probably ever will know, prophesied over me a little over four years ago in Manti, Utah. Without going into to much detail and because I have never been one to hold much claim in these types of things-even though I hope with all of being that this one will be true-the message was one of hope after a time of what can only be called a trial. At the same time, Katie and I have been made very aware this last week of the fact that many who we were around this last week are in similar situations as we are, getting by.

These things have given me hope. As Andrea reminded me the other night many men and women in scripture were called by God but quickly after their calling fell into a time of deep trial (just think of Jesus baptized then lead into the wilderness for 40 days). I can help but think that the reason for this is because they were being shaped by God, becoming stronger in their calling as children of God.

As of now I have no idea what is next for Katie and I, but I have hope. Maybe, I will have to do some tent making, as my brother Garret calls it, for awhile until I find a community where God will call me to serve his church? Maybe, I will never be a full-time youth pastor as I have believed I would be? Who really know, because I don't.

There is though one thing I do know I have hope. I have no idea where Katie and I would be without the people in our life's, those of you who we have spent the last week with and those of you who were not there physically but are spread across the country. This week I was not only given a little more hope in the mist of a lot of worries, but I was again reminded why God calls his people to be in community, but more about that to come...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Theological Notes From "The Brothers Karamazov"

So my girlfriend is reading a really good but long book called "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky written from 1879 to 1880. I would love to read the book but being it is about 1100 pages long I don't see that happening anytime soon. But the beauty of having such an amazing girlfriend is that she just reads all the really good parts to me so I don't have to read it myself. Today she read to me a part which we both found very moving and I wanted to share. In this scene a young man (who is later an elder, highly respected monk) receives a mysterious visitor and they begin a theological discussion. The following is an excerpt from one of their conversations:

"I have been thinking myself for a long time, about life being heaven," he told me once. "Indeed I have been thinking of nothing else," he added quickly. "And you know, I'm even more firmly convinced of it than you are, and one day you'll find out why."
As he spoke he looked at me and smiled, and I thought he was about to reveal something to me.
"Heaven is within reach of everyone of us, and now it is within my reach too; if I choose I could have it tomorrow, real heaven, for all my life."
He spoke with fervor and looked at me mysteriously, as if asking something of me.
"As to every man being answerable for everybody and everything, not just for his own sins," he went on, "you are absolutely right about it, and the way you succeeded in grasping that idea so fully, all at once, is really remarkable. Is it true that when men understand that idea, the kingdom of God will no longer be a dream but a reality."
"But when do you expect that to happen?" I cried bitterly. "When will it come about, if ever? Perhaps it's just a dream and nothing more."
"So you don't believe yourself," he answered, "in the things you preach to others. Let me tell you, then, that this dream, as you call it, will most certainly come true. You may rest assured of that, but it will not happen immediately, because everything that happens in this world is controlled by its own set of laws. In this case, it is a psychological matter, a state of mind. In order to change the world, man's way of thinking must be changed. Thus there can be no brotherhood of men before all men become each other's brothers. There is no science, no order based on the pursuit of material gain, that will enable men to share their goods fairly and to respect each other's rights. There will never be enough to satisfy everyone; men will always be envious of their neighbors and will always destroy one another. So to your question when heaven on earth will come about, I can only promise you that it will come about without fail, but first the period of man's isolation must come to an end."
"What isolation?" I asked him.
"The isolation that you find everywhere, particularly in our age. But it won't come to an end right now, because the time has not yet come. Today everyone asserts his own personality and strives to live a full life as an individual. But these efforts lead not to a full life but to suicide, because, instead of realizing his personality, man only slips into total isolation. For in our age mankind has been broken up into self-contained individuals, each of whom retreats into his lair, trying to stay away from the rest, hiding himself from people and people from him. And, while he accumulates material wealth in his isolation, he thinks with satisfaction how mighty and secure he has become, because he is mad and cannot see that the more goods he accumulates, the deeper he sinks into suicidal impotence. The reason for this is that he has become accustomed to relying only on himself; he has split off from the whole and become an isolated unit; he has trained his soul not to rely on human help, not to believe in men and mankind, and only to worry that the wealth and privileges he has accumulated may get lost. Everywhere men today are turning scornfully away from the truth that the security of the individual cannot be achieved by his isolated efforts but only by mankind as a whole.
"But an end to this fearful isolation is bound to come and all men will understand how unnatural it was for them to have isolated themselves from one another. This will be the spirit of the new era and people will look back in amazement at the past, when they sat in darkness and refused to see the light. And it is then that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens...But until that day we must keep hope alive, and now then a man must set an example, if only an isolated one, by trying to life his soul out of its isolation and offering it in an act of brotherly communion, even if he is taken for one of God's fools. This is necessary, to keep the great idea alive."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reading is Fun

Being out of school now for 3 weeks I have been spending some good time sitting at my favorite local coffee shop and reading. Upon entering grad school I had more of a love hate relationship with reading, meaning I loved what I learned and got from reading but hated the process of reading (mostly because of my dyslexia). After four years of grad school and reading thousands upon thousands of pages I now not only read better (I guess practice does help?) but I love it! Reading has become my way of relaxing. With that said, I thought I would just post what I am currently reading and see if anyone out there had any suggestions.

"An Emergent Manifesto of Hope" edited by Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones
"The Last Battle" by C.s. Lewis
"The irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical" by Shane Claiborne
"The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan

I know my current reading list is varied and many, but during grad school I learned to be reading multiple books at one time and stay on track with all of them. I even like it this way because it allows me to read according to my mood (look mom I am even a consumer in my reading process!). Any suggestions for future reads?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top CD's of 2009, so far...

Since it is the middle of the year it is time for my top CD's of 2009, so far. These are not in any order

CD's still looking forward to...
Brand New
Regina Spektor
Kings of Convenience

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To those whom I call friends

Last Saturday I graduated from my Masters program. As I sat there in the audience of mostly people I had never met before (since I did not live on campus I usually just went to Fuller for class and then took off afterward) I felt a sense of both completion and fear. For the first time in my life I would not be in school. While I enjoyed this fact I was still faced with the fear of what-is-next...once again. Yesterday, I had a job interview out in Riverside, CA for a youth job. After the interview, as I sat in the car as my sister drove Katie and I to a local record store, I could not help but look out the window an think to myself...might I be moving back to Riverside?
For those of you who do not know, I grew up in Riverside. For nineteen years of my life I called Riverside my home. Once I left I never thought I would ever be back there. While yes my parents and family are out there and it would be nice to be in a place that we know at least someone, both Katie and I have admitted to each other that Riverside is not our first choice and we are telling ourselves that we can just move there for a little while (3 to 5 years) and then move elsewhere. Yet, I think the main reason that I don't want to move back to Riverside is because those who we call "friends" are not there.
In the book "An Emergent Manifesto of Hope" Doug Pagitt defines friendship as "vulnerability, risk, struggle, and pain." When I think of those four terms there is a small group of people in this large world that come to mind (you know who you are). Yet, I think the thing that scares me the most is what Pagitt goes on to say, "there is a realization that we need to pursue this friendship not as an addition to faith but as a necessity of it."
You see that thing I am truly scared about is moving to wherever both Katie and I end up, whether it be Riverside, Menlo Park, or San Diego is not having people around who love both Katie and I and see us as true friends. Friends who make it a point to call you just to see how you are doing. Friends who when you are with them it feels like you never were apart. Friends who you let see your good and bad. Friends who you can both cuss with and pray with.
Now I know that friendships will develop over time and there are those I can always count on, but there is something to be said about those people who you have lived life with. Who you don't have to explain everything to because they just know.
I have no idea how else to end this but to say thank you to all who read...I love you

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Am I a hipster?

As I sit in my living room wishing to be in my favorite local coffee shop, but can't be because it is Sunday and they are closed by 3pm, listening to the new Grizzly Bear record in my white ipod ear muffs, I can't help but feel a part of a emerging culture I never thought I was a part of in the first place. Last night a friend of mine, Danny who is married to my friend Stephanie Joy, approached me excited to see me and tell me about their new condo purchase in the Mission District in San Fran. After explaining their condo he stated, "you would love it there since you are a hipster, everyone looks like you there man."
After spending much of last week somewhere between 4th and 3rd street in Long Beach (a hipster gathering ground) I couldn't help but think to myself, this must be some crazy irony, I am in no way a hipster. Sadly though to quote someone who feels like a dear friend of mine, yet who I am only connect to through a glowing box, Phoebe, "Thats like the pervert modo. put one hand on your heart and the other in your pants and you recite that." Just stating "I am not a hipster" makes me feel even more like one, as I recite my practiced phrase with a hand on my heart while wearing a V-neck American Apparel Shirt, hovering over my new MacBook, listening to the new Indie Rock band that has vomited out another album, which I will like but not like.
I am not sure how or when I became a part of a movement which I had no idea I was a part of? Maybe it was during my week with Garret in Boulder, CO in late September? Maybe it was when I started questioning my daily trips to Starbucks? Or, maybe it was when I purchased my first V-neck shirt? I guess I will never know...but one think I can hope for is that in admitting it maybe it will help me get over this problem I never wish, I never knew I had. So here it goes...My name is Steven and I am a indie-coffee-shop-dive-bar-loving-V-neck-wearing-indie-rock-listening-wish-I-road-a-bike-MacBook-typing-hipster. WTF?
For more hipster love and info check our this amazing article on Hipster culture in adbusters:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In 28 days...

In 28 short days the world will probably not be devoured by zombies, but I will be done with my masters degree! On June 13th I will walk. Yesterday I finished my last mid-term period of my masters degree and now only have a few assignments to get through till I finals week. Luckily because I am in my last quarter I only have one paper to worry about during that week, so it should be pretty easy compared to past finals weeks. It has been a long four years working away at another degree. I think the thing I am most excited about it not being in school! I have been in school since I started as a child in kindergarten, which comes out to something like 24 strait years (I repeated 5th grade bc. of my dyslexia). I am looking forward to reading for fun, doing nothing, hanging out with friends and my girlfriend, getting a full-time job, and I might even take up a hobby again (somehow college and my masters program stole my hobby of surfing away from me). I don't know what it is but lately I have been feeling that God is going to be doing something through me. I am not sure if this is just being in full-time ministry or something I do not really expect but I know that something in on the move. I am just praying it lets me pay off all of my loans from school. Hopefully I will be updating my blog as things unfold, but until then I love you all who read and care for me. Know you are also loved.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sadening Stats that Should Not Come as a Surprise

Katie was reading through one of her teaching books and came across these stats. As much as I have studied youth culture and church culture over the last four years I cannot help but become sad when I hear stats such as these.

- The Average Child receives 12 minutes of attention each day from his or her parents

- By age 18, most American have spend more time in front of the television than they have with friends or parents

- The average adolescent spends more then three hours alone everyday

- Loneliness is the number one problem of the elderly, many of who are afraid to venture out of their homes or apartments.

Wong, Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong, "How to Be an Effective Teacher: The First Days of School" Harry K. Wong Publications 2005, pg. 76

The sad part is that these stats are no different within the usual Christian family. It is no wonder that our teenagers are leaving the church in droves after high school and our elderly are held up within dying churches or elderly homes. I guess by the time that most adults have grown up they have completely bought into a consumerist culture which convinces them that their wants and desires should be at the center of all of their choices, leaving their children and parents to care for themselves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What is Normal but a Setting on a Wash Machine?

I have been thinking a lot about how many of us get comfortable with the way things are. Many of us do not like change at all. For instance, about a month ago a new coffee shop in the Glendora area closed its doors. This coffee shop had become a home away from home for me. I knew almost every employee by name and I had many good spiritual conversations with the owner. Sadly, the coffee shop had to close its door because a lack of funds. This news made me really sad, not only for the owner and his employees, but for myself. I had gotten into such a routine and when I was forced to change that routine I became uncomfortable.
I think many of us are like me, we get use to going through our daily life becoming more and more comfortable with our routines and the normalcy we see around us. We almost never take the time to raise questions concerning our routines and the normalcy around us, we just accept it for what it is.
The musician Conor Oberst has a song called, "I must belong somewhere." The song raises questions about normalcy. Oberst sings, "Everything it must belong somewhere, they locked the devil in the basement and threw god up into the air, yea everything must belong somewhere..." Obsert seems to be asking if everything, even himself, are where they belong and as they should be.
Reading through the gospels I cannot help but notice that during Jesus' ministry he never really stays in one place for very long. It makes me wonder if he did this to avoid normalcy to avoid life become to routine. Instead it seems that Jesus fought against everything that seemed normal, routine, and just the way things are. I mean the man walks into the temple and just goes nuts! He turns over tables, kicks people out and questions the way things were during his time.
I have to wonder if during all of life's normalcy, somehow I have allowed my life to become clogged up by money changers and sellers? Maybe I have failed to take the time and question what has become so normal to me? Maybe I have allowed my life to become to much of a routine that somehow I have missed the beauty lost in every moment? I even wonder if the Church, like myself has become like this?
You see, I think we all need times where we turn over some tables, whether it be in our own life or even in the Church itself. I think we all should fight against what seems normal and start asking questions. Why is this, this way? Is this right? How did things get this way?
May we all start raising questions about what seems normal. May we all turn over some tables. May we all begin to be uncomfortable. May we all begin to question what seems to belong. All in hopes of growing, hearing, and being as God has called us to be at that moment, until we let another one pass us by in the midst of our routine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Life update: Moving from Winter into Spring

It has almost been a good three months since I have written a blog. Much of the reason for that is that during much of January through late March I was bogged down by homework from school. Last, quarter was for sure the hardest quarter of my school life. Not only was Hebrew really hard for me to learn, but I lost my job in December, and was going through some random medical stuff that turned out to be really nothing. After tests and multiple visits to the doctors it turns out I have Vitiligo, which is a disease that causes your skin to loss its pigmentation. Luckly, I am so fair skinned that I have had the disease for years now and never realized it!
Now that is all over and I am into a new quarter life has begun to feel much less stressful. I am in my last quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary, only taking 6 units (12 units are full-time, so I am basically half-time), and I am looking forward to moving on with my life. Yet, with this movement also comes change. For the first time in my life I am looking for a full-time job. I pray--and hope you pray with me--that I will find a job in youth ministry, which I have been studying for over the last four years. Sadly though because the economy is so bad everywhere right now, churches are not really hiring as much. On top of that many churches are cutting jobs so many more people are out there looking and applying for the same few jobs that their are. I have really worried that I will be stuck at a nine to five office job where I will hate every minute of my life more than anything. Please, please be in prayer for me about this!
At the same time, as I stated above, this movement brings about change not only in having to get a job, but in possibly changing locations. I need to stay in California--sorry all those out in Utah and CO land--because my longtime girlfriend Katie is getting her California teaching credential. Both Katie and I have also come to love this area of California and the good friends and family we have here. So that hope is that we will stay in the Glendora/Pasadena area, but we will have to wait and see.
As April comes to an end and May starts I will move into my sixth week of my final quarter at Fuller and life will continue you change. Here's to trying to put it all in God's hands.
Blessings to all, as you are a blessing to many.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaguration: Some Thoughts

This morning I woke to the sounds of the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States. I couldn't help but be reminded of September 11th 2001 when similarly I was awoken by the sounds of TV new noise. It is crazy to think about that day in light of today. It has been a long 7 1/2 years since that day in September. There is probably no other day in the United States history that will define our past President, George W. Bush then that day and what followed after it. With that thought I had to think to myself, what will define our new President Obama? Maybe, the color of his skin, as our first black President? Maybe, the way he brought a country together in a time or economic crises? Maybe, it will be how he never lived up to the expectations? At this point in time we will never know.
Yet, as I sat, watched, and listened to the inauguration of our new President I could not hope but be filled with optimism and pride for our country. Those of you who know me well know that I am not what I would call a patriot, believing that I belong to a kingdom greater this one, yet I was proud. Not only did the people of this nation elect a black man, but I believe this nation took a step toward bettering itself. There is no doubt on my mind that as Rich Warren said, "Martin Luther King and all other saints" looked down on Washington D.C. and were proud of the people of our country today. It was amazing for me to watch and see, listen and hear the voices of a long time oppressed people rejoice with pride. But with this in mind let us not forget, there is still a great number or black, Latino/a, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native Americans, and women who will face oppression under a country still run by white males. Today, yes, we have taken a step in the right direction, but our fight against racism is not over.
At the same time let me ecko a wise elder black man I heard on NPR tonight, "Obama will mess up, after all he is not the Messiah." Amen, my brother. As members of another kingdom let us remember that Jesus Christ is our first and only Lord, not a nation or a President.
No matter what happens during these next four years, no matter how President Obama is remember let us remember this, we are childern of the most high God and we are first of all called to a kingdom of love. I end with the a part of the prayer from Joseph Lowery:

"And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream. (from Amos 5:24)

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen."

May we see the kingdom of him who's name is our breath.

For another great blog on today's inaugration check out Garret's words

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My first Published Article

I have say that I am excited, today, January 6th, 2009, my first published article came out. The article is on Time Management is entitled "Time Flies Organizing Your Schedule for Optimum Results." You can find it at Let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Top CD's of 2008 and more...

A new year always makes me excited. As many of you know I am a lover of music, so the coming of a new year means tons of new music. Yet, a new year also means the closing of a year in music. This year in music was a little disappointing for me. Format, one of my favorite bands, announced that they were breaking up, Manchester Orchestra put off their new release, and there wasn't really the battle for the #1 spot I hoped for. Despite this, there were many CD's who did impress me, spoke to my soul, calmed my heart, and were over-all beautiful representations of an art form I love. In four short lists here are my top 20 of 2008, my top 20 songs of 2008, my top 10 most disappointing of 2008, and my most looked forward to in 2009.

Top 20 of 2008
1. Sigur Rós - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
- Sigur Rós does it again! One of their most approachable LP’s Nothing even came close to this album this year.
2. The Roots – Rising Down
- The Roots are the best Hip-Hop artists around. This album struggles through social issues as well as brings sweet beats and fun to the party.
3. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
- I was a little late in falling in love with this album, but once I did I could not stop listening to it. This band never ceases to amaze me.
4. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
- My top new band of 2008 for sure. This album just brings the emotion and heart in such a raw yet simplistic way.
5. Fleeting Foxes – Self-Titled
- Alt-Folk at its top. The hype is true, one of the most critical acclaimed albums of the year, as it should be.
6. Dear and the Headligths – Drunk Like Bible Times
- I just love where they took their music after their 2007 release, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, Ian’s lyrics and voice is just memorizing ever time.
7. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
- Just a solid band. Moves in the realm of Acadia Fire, but at the same time brings something different to the table of indie rock.
8. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
- Jenny Lewis is one of my favorite artists, she is not only beautiful but produces beautifully raw music.
9. Anathallo – Canopy Glow
- Concept albums are always hit and miss for me, but this one was definitely a hit. Not only does this band make good art but it makes good Christian art, something that is hard to find now-a-days.
10. The Dodos – Visitor
- I have never heard an acoustic rock band that rocked so hard as this band does. They push the boundaries of acoustic rock into new places.
11. Dr. Dog – Fate
- In the realm of Alt-Folk, Fate was a real favorite of 2008. It only drifted down the line as 2008 went on because of the level of other albums. Solid album with great flow, mix, vocals. This is the best album this band has put out.
12. Vampire Weekend – Self-Titled
- I have learned that people either love or hate this band. I have gotten in many arguments trying to convince people how great this band and album is. One thing that all people can agree about is that they are unique and that there is no one doing what they are.
13. Kanye West – 808’s and Heartbreak
- Looks like heartbreak does breed great music, this album continues to blow me away as Kanye West pushs himself into a new places on this album. Simply put is good art.
14. Conor Oberst – Self-Titled
- In a Dylon-esk style Conor Oberst produces his first solo album with a new group of people around him. This album is not much of a denature from his band Bright Eyes, but some how Oberst’s friends from south of the boarder bring out something new and refreshing with him.
15. Annuals – Such Fun
- When I first heard this album I had not idea what to think of it. It was as if someone had given a top indie rock band a pop-rock speed infused shot during the recording process. After listening to it over and over again I just fell in love with this album’s pop-antics
16. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
- I looked for this album forever and once I found it I quickly also found my new favorite study LP. Soon the LP found its way into my car and further into my daily life. I continue to be wowed by this album.
17. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
- This was one of those albums you fall in love with when you first purchase it but after awhile you only go back to it when the comfort of a good album for a good band is needed.
18. Broken Social Scene presents Bending Canning – Something for All of Us…
- Broken Social Scene is one of my favorite bands, this LP has its peaks and plains for me, but is still a solid effort from a great group of artists.
19. Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
- I did not really know what to expect from Copeland’s next album, sadly I wished they would have had a little more punch to this album, but this album still brings me peace and comfort in a way no other album or band can produce. Also a great group of Christian artists who are pushing the boundaries of art.
20. Bloc Party – Intimacy
- Bouncing back from one of the biggest let downs of 2007, Bloc Party brings it back with a great album. Sadly, the album starts to drag for me at the end so that is why it finds itself at the back end of my top 20

Top Ten Songs of 2008

1. Rising Down (Feat. Mos Def. and Styles P) – The Roots – Rising Down
2. Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur - Sigur Rós - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
3. The Next Messiah – Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongque
4. Dancing Choose – TV on the Radio - Dear Science
5. Joe's Waltz – The Dodos - Visiter
6. I Know – Dear And The Headlights – Drunk Like Bible Times
7. Ghost Under Rocks – Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
8. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
9. Not So Tough Found Out – Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
10. Swagga Like Us (Feat. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne) – T.I. – Paper Trail
11. Hair Don’t Grow – Annuals – Such Fun
12. Come All You Weary – Thrice – The Alchemy Index: Vol. $ Earth
13. Heartless – Kanye West – 808’s And Heartbreak
14. My Life (Feat. Lil Wayne) – The Game – LAX
15. Re: Stacks – Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
16. Italo – Anathallo – Canopy Glow
17. The Ark – Dr. Dog – Fate
18. Mercury – Bloc Party – Intimacy
19. Antique Bull – Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning = Something for All of Us…
20. The Fox – Nada Surf – Lucky

Greatest Disappointments of 2008

1. Ben Folds – Way To Normal
- The only question that comes to my mind when I make myself listen to this album is, Why? I know this is Ben Folds’ album in response to his recent divorce, but it is just a bad, angry, and sad piece of music.
2. Common – Universal Mind Control
- I do not know if Pharrell’s handy work on this album influenced Common, but the more I hear about and from Pharrell, the more I realize that while he can process killer beats he never should have been given a voice. While this albums beats are good, the lyrics are so bad it makes me want to find Common and slap him in the face in order to try to wake him up from this nightmare of an album. Basically this album amounts to nothing more than bad club rap about sex and nothingness, as Common seems to be again struggling to find his MC identity. How you have fallen so far Common.
3. The Faint – Fasciinatiion
- No only is the spelling of this albums’ title bad, but so is everything else. The Faint just lost it on this one.
4. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
- I loved it when this album first came out but then when sitting and talking to a friend about it, he pointed out how bad vocals were. Now when I listen to it, all I hear is a bad singer over good music.
5. Panic At the Disco – Pretty. Odd.
- I have a great idea! Lets put out an album that sounds so much like the Beatles it puts every other copy-cat band to shame…oh, Panic At the Disco already did that…
6. She & Him – Volume One
- One would think that a Zooey Deschanel, who has a great voice, and M. Ward, a great musician, would produce a amazing album but sadly while this album is not bad it is not that good either. At times Deschanel's voice sounds sub-par and M. Ward's guitar work is just bland. There are others that would disagree with me, ie. Paste Magazine who rated this album as their #1 of 2008, so...
7. Thrice – The Alchemy Index: Vol. 3 & 4: Earth and Wind
- When Thrice set out to record what became known as The Alchemy Index I was a little fearful. It is true that Thrice is not the same band they were just 4 years ago, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that some how they mostly just became boring and inventive rock. There are only really 3 good songs on this two EP's equal one LP and one really good song, which yes did make it on my top 20 songs of 2008 list, but sadly that’s all this LP had to offer.
8. Augustana – Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
- I liked their last record, even thought it was nothing special, but I hoped they would grow but this one just became boring radio rock after a few listens.
9. Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty
- Over-all this is not a bad album, but the recording was just so poor it killed the album.
10. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
- I have never been a huge fan of Wolf Parade but I did enjoy their last LP and I really like Hansom Furs, the lead singers side project. Sadly this album, even though I tried really hard, I never got into it.

Most Looking forward to for 2009

- Manchester Orchestra
- mewithoutYou
- Bon Iver
- Fun
- Destry
- Brand New
- Kanye West
- Jay – Z
- Band of Horses
- Arcade Fire