Curtis Raymond Shideler
So sometimes (like every time) I have a really hard time plugging my bloody phone in. I get this thought that well I hope Sherlock doesn’t think I’m a drunk.
god I love this series :)
The word conversation does not merely mean our talk and converse with one another, but the whole course of our life and behaviour in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship: and thus we are commanded to let our actions, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. What sort of conversation is this? In the first place, the gospel is very simple. So Christians should be simple and plain in their habits. There should be about our manner, our speech, our dress, our whole behaviour, that simplicity which is the very soul of beauty. The gospel is pre-eminently true, it is gold without dross; and the Christian’s life will be lustreless and valueless without the jewel of truth. The gospel is a very fearless gospel, it boldly proclaims the truth, whether men like it or not: we must be equally faithful and unflinching. But the gospel is also very gentle. Mark this spirit in its Founder: a bruised reed he will not break. Some professors are sharper than a thorn-hedge; such men are not like Jesus. Let us seek to win others by the gentleness of our words and acts. The gospel is very loving. It is the message of the God of love to a lost and fallen race. Christ’s last command to his disciples was, Love one another. O for more real, hearty union and love to all the saints; for more tender compassion towards the souls of the worst and vilest of men! We must not forget that the gospel of Christ is holy. It never excuses sin: it pardons it, but only through an atonement. If our life is to resemble the gospel, we must shun, not merely the grosser vices, but everything that would hinder our perfect conformity to Christ. For his sake, for our own sakes, and for the sakes of others, we must strive day by day to let our conversation be more in accordance with his gospel.
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
-Romans 6.3-11 (ESV)
Happy Easter! Services were packed last night here at @ChristChapel_FW. Today’s services are at 8am, 9:30am, 11am, & 12:30pm AND a contemporary service at 11am in the small sanctuary. Come celebrate Christ resurrected with us here at CCBC!
Working a very busy Easter weekend at CCBC! So thankful for a job where I do what I do to help others worship God!
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (C3.1-3)
Well, lately I’ve been reading through a book of the Bible called James. It talks about taming the tongue and how even though we want to strive to be perfect, we aren’t… which reminds me that we need a savior that much more.
Anyway, I’ve been trying for the past week to hold my tongue when I wanted to say something negative or gossipy. And you know what? I haven’t been completely able to do it. It’s hard. And I’ve even tried to imagine my tongue being that fire that spreads flames to anything I choose to speak against.
So, instead of thinking about any of that… since it hasn’t worked… I’m going to pretend that whenever I speak against anyone or gossip, my tongue is doing the Truffle Shuffle. And not the cute “he’s 10 years-old” shuffle. Oh, no. I’m now 30 growing into 31. So, I’ll be picturing a 30 year-old in a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt throwing his belly around like it’s that bowl full of pudding Santa had for a belly… and that will hopefully shut me up.
And it’ll probably help with any negative thoughts too. Cause once you picture my pudding belly jiggling, how in the world can you think anything negative?!?
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”
Man, I love my job! Last night I got to help a bunch of kids praise God and dance like bugs on fire… It was fun. And a lot more humane than setting bugs on fire.
“…I will need a new number two. My ideal choice? Jack Bauer. But he is unavailable. Fictional. And overqualified.” -Dwight Schrute
My Easter countdown has begun! Can’t wait for the long, blessed couple workdays!
Remember the poor. Galatians 2:10
Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. The cattle upon a thousand hills are his-he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock-remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart-recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.
@myfriendmeg baked us a St. Patty’s Day cake for her Irish birthday! How sweet of her. Merry O’Birthday, Pip!
I think Laura Donnelly summed it up superbly: “That no matter what, God will be glorified.” Such a simple, yet beautiful prayer. How different and glorious triumphs and tragedies look through the lense of God’s ultimate glory.
Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. Genesis 8:9
Wearied out with her wanderings, the dove returns at length to the ark as her only resting place. How heavily she flies-she will drop-she will never reach the ark! But she struggles on. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long, and is ready to receive her. She has just strength to reach the edge of the ark, she can hardly alight upon it, and is ready to drop, when Noah puts forth his hand and pulls her in unto him. Mark that: pulled her in unto him. She did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary to do so. She flew as far as she could, and then he put forth his hand and pulled her in unto him. This act of mercy was shown to the wandering dove, and she was not chidden for her wanderings. Just as she was she was pulled into the ark. So you, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. Only return-those are God’s two gracious words-only return. What! nothing else? No, only return. She had no olive branch in her mouth this time, nothing at all but just herself and her wanderings; but it is only return, and she does return, and Noah pulls her in. Fly, thou wanderer; fly thou fainting one, dove as thou art, though thou thinkest thyself to be black as the raven with the mire of sin, back, back to the Saviour. Every moment thou waitest does but increase thy misery; thine attempts to plume thyself and make thyself fit for Jesus are all vanity. Come thou to him just as thou art. Return, thou backsliding Israel. He does not say, Return, thou repenting Israel (there is such an invitation doubtless), but thou backsliding one, as a backslider with all thy backslidings about thee, Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for thee! He will stretch forth his hand and pull thee in-in to himself, thy heart’s true home.
It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. Psalms 118:8
Doubtless the reader has been tried with the temptation to rely upon the things which are seen, instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God. Does this evening’s portion meet the eye of a child of God anxious about temporals, then would we reason with him awhile. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation, then why are you troubled? Because of my great care. Is it not written, Cast thy burden upon the Lord? Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God. Cannot you trust God for temporals? Ah! I wish I could. If you cannot trust God for temporals, how dare you trust him for spirituals? Can you trust him for your soul’s redemption, and not rely upon him for a few lesser mercies? Is not God enough for thy need, or is his all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants? Dost thou want another eye beside that of him who sees every secret thing? Is his heart faint? Is his arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if he be infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence? Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation, when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon? Christian, mix not only thy wine with water, do not alloy thy gold of faith with the dross of human confidence. Wait thou only upon God, and let thine expectation be from him. Covet not Jonah’s gourd, but rest in Jonah’s God. Let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools, but do thou, like one who foresees the storm, build for thyself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.
Ephesians 3.14-21: Prayer brings on a new meaning when I seek God for heavenly understanding & spiritual fullness in Christ for myself & others… instead of getting the earthly stuff I want.
Listened to a clip of Crazy Love (by Francis Chan) & reminded to live with a vision for my life. His audiobooks are $5 & $6 on iTunes.
Wait a minute. That isn’t part of a worship song! Oh how I do love this guy!
He came and preached peace to those far off AND those near… So why do I have such difficulty doing the same? (Ephesians 2.17-18)
My Superhero alter-ego…? Kumbaya Curtis.
I use my iPhone in bathrooms all of the time. This is yet again another self pic.
Sometimes it feels as if throughout our day, many storms pass our way. Or at least they seem like storms at the time. It's funny when we look back and see all of the small things that stressed us or spun us into a worried frenzy. I have to admit that I too often find myself anxious and stressed because of these little things that I just don't have to ultimately worry about.
This time, like most, I probably felt some excuse to allow the worry to invade my often peaceful heart. And sure, the need to find or buy a house for us to live in, the looming marathon to run on the horizon, and my typical erratic work schedule all weighed heavy on me. But then I was asked to add a week or two of another position to my already full time work schedule. And I decided to let my peace go for a few days. That usually doesn't help things, especially when I need to get stuff done!
However, I thank God (and work), because the added work was a video project for Christ Chapel's Art Reach 2012 weekend. And even though I was turned down from playing my music at Art Reach last year, it's really one of my favorite weekends at church. I really love and appreciate the arts, and love living them: music, visual, performance, film, theatre, writing, cooking, home decor, etc. and love the people who live these arts. And so, this year I have been able to actually contribute to the art being shown.
It's not so much the being credited with the work, but more the fact that I get to use gifts God has given me (no matter their infancy) to glorify Him in the best way I can with what I have.
So, in the midst of this storm of house shopping, marathon running, stage setting-up and event working, I was wholing myself up in a comfortable little room, editing footage and audio, and marrying them together to tell someone else's story of glorifying God. And that's where God blessed me all over again. I got to connect with someone else and be inspired by his love of the arts and his passion for living them out. Telling my story of working through this storm is also the story of another man who's story helped inspire me to see the sun at the end of the clouds. And even though his is a story of cowboys, horses, ranches, painting, and freelance work... (things I have not yet tried or found a lot of passion for yet), I found myself being drawn in through our common love of Christ and through our common likelyhood of getting caught working in storms. Mine, metaphorically usually, and his sometimes quite literal.
And if his inspiring story wasn't enough, I actually found myself getting the work done. Quick. And on top of that, we've possibly found our place to live, I ran and finished the marathon, and I kept going into work to set up those stages and run sound, lights, and computers for events. God got me through. And He also reminded me of another thing. I like the rain. Storms aren't such a bad thing. He reminded me its more about how I handle them, and if I remember to bring that metaphorical umbrella along the way.
So, Art Reach 2012 weekend is here. The interview video I worked on is done. And the concert went well last night. The art gallery is open. The film symposium is happening today. There will be a good message preached tomorrow along with videos, dancing, and music. If you like the arts and love the Lord, come check it out. And if you find yourself caught working through a storm right now, maybe this could at least help you find that umbrella.
Being from MI originally, I grew up cheering for the Detroit Tigers as a kid. I looked up to names like Kirk Gibson, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, Chet Lemon, Jack Morris, and especially Sparky Anderson. You see, some of my most treasured childhood memories are tied to going to ball games at Tigers Stadium with my late Grandfather and my Dad.
However, since moving to Texas in 1999, I have adopted the Texas Rangers as another favorite ball club. I have visited the Ballpark in Arlington many times and have usually had a pleasant experience in what felt like a great family atmosphere. I had even hoped to introduce my future kids to baseball there at the Ballpark.
So, you can imagine my excitement and reaction to an opportunity to watch my two favorite teams battle it out in the ALCS with my own eyes, right here in Texas and only miles from my home! My favorite teams in one of my favorite ballparks on the perfect rainy, Autumn night-
Saturday night, Ovtober 8, 2011 came, and there I was, blessed to afford a memorable night at the Ballpark in Arlington at game 1 of the American League Championship Series. But this time, I found the family-friendly atmosphere gone, and unfortunately replaced with an atmosphere of hostility and disrespect.
Feeling nostalgic and reminiscing about the Tigers games I attended with my Dad and his Dad, I decided to wear my Detroit Tigers ball cap (purchased previously AT the Ballpark in Arlington) and my Sparky Anderson t-shirt. And even though the Tigers lost the game, I left feeling like I struck out and was personally the loser because I had to endure constant verbal and physical harassment at the mouths and hands of intoxicated, rude, and disrespectful Texas Rangers fans during ALL NINE INNINGS. They even constantly hindered me from taking photos to capture my experience!
After all that, I strongly regretted my trip to the ballpark and decided to even outline my experience to the Rangers staff in an email, which I've included below. And their apology was very much appreciated, but I wish I could have all that money back (ALCS games are NOT cheap) AND I wish I could have some of that respect back.
And lastly, if you ever plan on going to a Rangers game at the Ballpark and you want to support the visiting team, I encourage you to think twice about going at all. Otherwise, there's a chance you might end up paying for the sheer harassment and abuse by our Southern neighbors.
I do want to point out that not ALL Rangers fans are offensive and rude. I happen to know a few very respectful, friendly guys who love baseball as much as I do, and are also Rangers fans. I know, because I too am a Rangers fan. I just wish I would have had those friends sitting around me and shielding me from the bumping and verbal abuse as I walked around the Ballpark on that otherwise perfect night of October baseball.
*And all that to say, even though I feel the night was a failure and my anger was strongly building... I learned even more about how to succeed in Christ. You see, everything in me wanted to stand up, yell, and even hit people. But, thanks to knowing Christ's love and His strength to endure way more than angry baseball fans, I was able to "turn the other cheek." And I don't say this with pride in what I did (or didn't do), but I say this to boast in the fact that it was by Christ, and Christ alone, that I was able to sit through those nine innings without verbally or physically retaliating.*
2 Corinthians 12.9
EMAIL FROM ME TO THE RANGERS:
"Dear Mr. Chuck Morgan,
My name is Curtis Shideler and I am a Michigan native who grew up cheering for the Detroit Tigers. However, I moved to DFW in 1999, and have also been cheering for the Rangers ever since. I still remember my first trip to see the Rangers play, and how much of a family atmosphere it had.
Unfortunately, last night when I attended game 1 of the ALCS with a friend of mine, I felt the exact opposite. And I just wanted to bring my experience to your attention in hopes that other Detroit fans don't end up having the same upsetting experience that I did.
I was thoroughly excited when I had the opportunity and extra money to be able to afford a couple tickets and parking to last night's ALCS game 1! I have never attended a playoff game, and was so excited to experience it at the Ballpark, watching my favorite childhood team (the Tigers) and my new found love (the Rangers). It should have been the best game I have ever been to. However, due to many intoxicated, rude Rangers fans and their harassment, I left very disappointed, when it was otherwise a terrific Autumn night of outstanding ball.
You see, I grew up with my late Grandfather and my Dad taking me to Tigers stadium many times a year. Just as I had hoped to introduce my son to the Ballpark someday. And in memory of them and my childhood, I decided to wear my Sparky Anderson t-shirt and my Tigers hat.
However, from the moment I sat down, there were Rangers fans in front of me and behind me verbally abusing me and threatening me. Their profane insults ranged from telling me that I personally sucked (with some harsh language too), that I should leave and wasn't welcome there, to how much they hated me, and the retired Air Force gentleman behind me even threatened to beat me up and throw me over the fence a few times. He even joked about it with the security personnel, who did nothing about it. Many fans touched me often, despite my uncomfortableness. And the gentleman behind me "accidentally" hit me a couple times.
I couldn't believe their behavior! I have been to many Rangers games over the years, and have never experienced this level of hazing. And to top it all off, I never actually cheered or clapped for the Tigers. One, because I felt legitimately scared and two, because I honestly like both the Tigers and Rangers.
Thankfully, in the last inning or two, they laid off the torture somewhat when they found out I am employed at a local DFW church. In between insults, they also mentioned how nice I was for taking it all because I never "fought" back. And even though they joking asked me not to send them to Hell, I couldn't but help taking slight offense. As a Christian citizen of Fort Worth and a former TCU Horned Frog, I don't like to associate myself with their kind of language or disrespect.
I didn't stretch my wallet to buy tickets to come to last night's game to "fight back." I went to last night's game because I love the Ballpark and both the Rangers and Tigers... and really love baseball. It is a shame that last night's Rangers fans around me (and another Detroit fan couple a few rows ahead of me) harassed us throughout the entire game. I really want to continue supporting Rangers baseball in the future with my friends and family, but I am seriously concerned for my safety. I don't know if I will feel comfortable attending another game (especially bringing my wife and future children) unless I can afford a suite someday or hideaway in the dugout!
I know the fan conduct rules I'm listing below were in clear violation last night, and I would hate to see the Rangers end up with these kind of fans from now on. I know the team has so much more class and respect for other teams and fans. I am hoping that your staff will take special care tonight and any night following during this postseason to ensure the safety and comfort of not only the Rangers fans, but also the visiting team's fans.
> 1. We encourage everyone to cheer for his or her favorite team and players, but do so in a manner as to not detract from another fan's enjoyment of the game.
> 9. Any person using obscene, profane, or offensive language may be ejected without refund.
I did not feel free to cheer at all last night, and did not feel safe to try and get 5-10 fans around me thrown out. And my enjoyment of the game was thoroughly detracted from. I just wanted to enjoy a beautiful night of baseball, watching my two favorite teams battle it out... and wear my Tigers gear in memory of my childhood with my Grandfather and Dad. And unfortunately, I left the Ballpark feeling worse than I ever have at a sporting event: not because the Tigers lost. But because I feel like I lost by being disrespected and hurt, personally. Please do what you can to ensure no other Tiger fan or other fans leave feeling this way.
Thank you for your time and understanding,
Curtis Raymond Shideler"
AND HERE IS HIS EMAIL RESPONSE:
First, thank you for coming to Rangers Ballpark. From most reports, emails, calls, etc. that I receive from fans that attend our games, what you experienced at the ballpark last night was far from normal actions of our fans. You should be able to cheer for the team of your choice without any concern on how you are treated at the ballpark.
Rob Matwick is in charge of our ballpark operations and I am copying him on this reply since your situation doesn’t fall under my area of responsibility.....like me, I am sure he will be surprised that some of our fans acted in this manor. For years the Rangers have strived for a family atmosphere at our games and we certainly don’t want you and your family to be uncomfortable on making a decision to come to a Rangers game.
Thank you for your email and I am disappointed that you had a bad experience at the ballpark last night.
It's too bad this had to happen. I would have loved to attend today's ALCS game 2 as well and support both teams. Unfortunately, I just don't feel comfortable going back to the Ballpark now. But you can bet I'll be wearing my Tigers hat, watching at home... and saving my $100.
This is how I've succeeded in becoming more fit and leading a healthier lifestyle despite my failures in so many other areas. But let's just focus on the successes here.
First of all, I acknowledge that I have only been allowed to do any of this by God, and it's with strength through Christ that I have accomplished any goals I've set. And even though my relationship with Christ hasn't been as disciplined as I would like, I've found He's given me the motivation and strength to discipline myself in other areas. Second, even though the following diet and exercise worked for me, it doesn't mean that it is THE answer for you or anyone else. We are all different, have different bodies, and have different needs. This is just what I did to get to where I am. Instead of being a guide, I hope my tale will mostly encourage you to set goals and accomplish them. Third, this whole process that I'm going to describe began with one thought. And that thought became an entire WAY of thinking. And without this way of thinking (or mental discipline), I could not have accomplished my goals. So, before any action took place, decisions had to be made and my whole way of looking at foods, exercise, and discipline had to shift in order to make it from point A to point B. Fourth, I've accomplished weight changing goals before, become complacent again, came to a new place and time in my life, found different ways to accomplish those goals, failed again, succeeded again, etc. It's a process, and a determination to think differently about so many things, that there's a possibility I may change routines again someday. That's not so much what I want to talk about, though. So, moving on to five. Fifth, there is a lot of science I could go into regarding nutrition, physicality, and psychology, but I am not going to get into too much of that. I just want to tell my story of how I decided to reject idleness and move into a more fit self.
I've spent much of my life gaining and losing weight. The main reason I haven't maintained a constant weight or physical fitness is because I have allowed my surroundings, friends, living situations, and tastes to change throughout the years. I used to be a pretty sedentary kid, loving my fattening potato chips and Doritos, my sugar-filled Coke, and tons of ice cream and candy... not to mention fast food, pizza, and late night snacks. My exercise as a kid was usually reserved for sports, and even then, they weren't always cardio-heavy sports. So, needless to say, I had to make different choices to lose the "baby" fat I carried for years.
In fact, I had weighed around 160+ lbs. by my junior year. So, I began running after graduating high school. By the time my first year of college was over, my running and eating habits took me down to 115 lbs.And through my life, I've gone up and down many times depending on the resources available to me and situations I've found myself in.
However, just over a year ago, I was living in Los Angeles and ended up weighing in at between 170-180 lbs. I had officially been my heaviest ever! And I joined a gym there, but because of surroundings, food choices, hassle with locations, etc., I didn't lose the weight. I wanted there to be a better answer for me. I wanted an answer that would work no matter where I lived, what I did, what my surroundings were like, or what people around me were eating and doing.
And at the same time that I was getting fed up with my situation, I also decided to move to Virginia for a while. And what better time to change my habits than while changing my location? So, the answer for me came down to a determination and decision to change my entire way of thinking about food and exercise. So, I started looking at food differently, looking at exercise differently, and allowing myself to enjoy life in a new, way.
THE NEW WAY OF THINKING
Some people love music. Some people love movies. Some people love food. And some people really love food. I found myself loving a lot of things, and food being one of them. I loved chips and salsa at restaurants. I loved pizza. I loved wings and fries. And I loved Mexican food, nachos, burritos. I loved beer. I loved combining Mexican food and beer... late at night. And I didn't love running at night in one of the sketchiest parts of North Hollywood. All of that to say, I allowed myself to love these things. I looked forward to them. However, I realized that I didn't need to allow myself to love them. They were just things and there were other things out there that would make less of a negative impact on my body. So, I decided to start eating differently AND enjoy the new things that I allowed myself to eat. Finding enjoyment in a lean pocket and 100 calorie bag of low-fat popcorn instead of a huge burrito and chips/salsa meant the difference between a 400 calorie meal and a 1,400 calorie meal. I didin't need that huge meal. And soon, finding enjoyment in healthier foods, led to healthier foods, and led to not enjoying those terrible-for-you foods. It was a decision to not like pizza and instead like a healthier option. And after a while, that decision led to that way of thinking. It's like that whole "Mind-over-matter" phrase. Bottom line, it worked for me. And I don't miss always eating chips and pizza and burritos. The new tastes of this discipline are worth not enjoying the old tastes.
Speaking of tastes, let me talk about the foods I used to obtain my weight/fitness goals. I stopped eating fast food as much as I used to. And I stopped drinking as much beer as I used to. I stopped eating excess sugar and fat in candy and snacks. I stopped eating a lot of things, and found enjoyment in other things.
After a while, I decided to cut down meals from 3 big ones to 3 or 4 little ones. My breakfasts were usually oatmeal or cereal and skim milk. Lunches were usually small sandwiches. And dinners were usually a Lean Pocket. My meals were relatively low fat and much lower in calories. However, after losing a lot of weight, I wanted to add more protein in my diet in order to put on muscle in place of the fat. Other meals include 2 100-calorie non-fat yogurts and 2 1/2 servings of Special K Protein Plus, which nets a total of 450 calories, low fat, great calcium and minerals, many vitamins, and a whopping 35+ grams of protein. And if I substitute skim milk for the yogurt, there's even less sugar and even more protein. Other great meals include low-fat turkey, chicken, tuna, salads, high protein & low sodium soups, sandwiches (lettuce-wrapped even), and egg whites with turkey bacon or ham.
Basically, I have found out over time that my body didn't need as many carbs, fat calories, or sugar as I was giving it. Instead, more protein, vitamins, minerals, and smaller portions were what I needed to maintain a very fit physique. Now, I would much rather eat at home than try to find something I'll enjoy when eating out. However, when I do eat out, I also have smarter choices for myself. Here are some places I sometimes go to, and what I'll usually order:
Chipotle - Chicken salad, just lettuce, beans, chicken, and all of the salsas. NO dressings, NO cheese, NO sour cream.
Jimmy Johns - Sandwich wrapped in lettuce with all veggies, and mustard. NO cheese, NO mayo.
Central Market - Sandwich with bread, meat, veggies, mustard. OR Turkey and veggies.
Thai Rice & Noodle - Spicy Steak Salad, with steak, veggies, and hot sauce. NO cheese, NO dressings.
And those are just a few. Yes, it makes it much harder to eat out, go out in groups, and agree with others on a meal. But it saves me money, makes me feel better, and allows me to enjoy my new diet much more.
Now onto snacks. Here's a biggie... I LOVED snacks. My favorite being chips and salsa. I also loved chewy fruity candy, popcorn, breads, bagels, crackers, potato chips, cookies in milk, nuts, bean dips, fast foods, and ice cream, etc. And I realized that snacks weren't necessary in my diet, especially if I was going to eat so many and so often. But I realized I could substitute some things I liked for others that weren't as healthy. So, instead of chips and salsa I started eating popcorn more (94% fat free microwave OR hot air popped without oil). Instead of candy, I could chew gum or eat an apple. Instead of breads, I could eat veggies. The habit of chewing on something was still there, but it had much fewer calories and soon, much more enjoyment. I litterally felt better.
Time to talk drinks. A long time ago I decided to substitute diet soda for regular soda. That in itself helped me lose around 10 lbs. rather quick. Diet soda has a stigma about it, however. And I really don't understand where it comes from except for the tests done on lab rats with artificial sweetner back in the early 1980's. And that sweetner is now in A LOT of foods, gums, drinks, and snacks. It's hard to avoid it. And my mother has been drinking diet soda since the beginning, and she hasn't experienced any harmful effects. Diet soda has NO calories, NO sugar, NO carbs, and VERY LITTLE sodium. It's basically like drinking artificially flavored water. Or like drinking coffee with a spleda packet added. There's nothing in it besides carbonated water, acid, sometimes caffeine, and artifical stuff. So, why does it have such a bad wrap? I think it's because of studies that show people who consume diet soda sometimes feel like they can make up for the loss of caloric intake by eating more sugar elsewhere. However, I don't. I just really enjoy a nice can of non-calorie, carbonated, flavored water! Along with the diet sodas, I also drink a lot of water, carbonated water, tea (hot & cold, unsweetened), and coffee. And if you wanted to sweeten any of those, they make Splenda and other artificial sweetners if that's your thing. Oh! And a new thing I've been using to add a little Autumn taste to my coffee recently is a splash of sugar-free maple-flavored syrup. Central Market does me good with all of their selections of coffees and teas!
Now, let's talk about the exercises I've used. Right after high school, I started running. Soon, I was running daily. That's when the weight fell off. Back then, I still ate a lot of sugar and snacks, probably the reason I still didn't know if I had abs or not! But this time around, I knew that running had to be a main component of my weight loss.
So, at first, I started running a mile or two, three to four times a week. And before long, knowing how good it would make me feel, I ran almost daily. It's been 15 months now since I started running again, and I rarely miss a day. I am now running around three miles a day, with the occasional 5-10 mile run. However, the weight started falling off after only three months of running! And it takes that long to really build your heart up and increase your lung capacity. Now, unless I push myself to run faster, I really don't find myself winded or "working" too hard to maintain a good run. In fact, I am hoping to even run my first marathon next year! ...and basically just looking to finish.
But it wasn't all running. A lot of people do other things like yoga and P90X. For me, though, I just did your basic push-ups for a while. That helped me replace bad weight with a little good weight. And instead of killing my back doing sit-ups for my abs, I realized I could flex my abs ANY TIME and produce similar results. I'm even flexing my upper then lower abs right now while I write this. It takes discipline at first, but after a while, I just do it without even thinking about it.
And after the diet and running brought my weight way down to 117, I decided I wanted to put muscle on. The easiest and cheapest way for me to do that, I figured, was to just buy a couple 20 lbs. dumbbells. And all I do with them is use them for different push-ups, curls, lifts, and a few other exercises for around 30-60 minutes a day, a few times a week. That, with a high protein diet including some protein shakes, has helped me put on 8 lbs. of muscle pretty quickly!
So, a new way of thinking, a new diet, and an exercise regiment is all I've really done. Looking back on it, the discipline doesn't seem difficult at all. But I realize that at the beginning it looked much more difficult. The thing is, it all began small. The new way of thinking really helped it along, allowing me to avoid harmful foods and laziness. But, I wasn't running marathons from the beginning, and I didn't go from huge meals to nothing. It started small for me and has evolved through the past year. So, to encourage anyone out there looking to make a change... Don't get discouraged and think that results come over night. And don't feel like you have to dive in head-first into a very deep end. If you start small, make healthier choices one at a time for you, and allow the process to evolve over a lifetime (and not just a quick-fix), then before you know it, you'll have reached your first goal! ...then a second goal, and a third, and eventually you'll be enjoying a whole new lifestyle and a whole new you!
I hope this has been encouraging for you, if you've stuck with this whole post! And I'm praying that I can maintain this lifestyle in hopes of encouraging as many people as I can to enjoy life in a new and healthier way!
Well, lately I've been reading through a book of the Bible called James. It talks about taming the tongue and how even though we want to strive to be perfect, we aren't... which reminds me that we need a savior that much more.
Anyway, I've been trying for the past week to hold my tongue when I wanted to say something negative or gossipy. And you know what? I haven't been completely able to do it. It's hard. And I've even tried to imagine my tongue being that fire that spreads flames to anything I choose to speak against.
So, instead of thinking about any of that... since it hasn't worked... I'm going to pretend that whenever I speak against anyone or gossip, my tongue is doing the Truffle Shuffle. And not the cute "he's 10 years-old" shuffle. Oh, no. I'm now 30 growing into 31. So, I'll be picturing a 30 year-old in a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt throwing his belly around like it's that bowl full of pudding Santa had for a belly... and that will hopefully shut me up.
And it'll probably help with any negative thoughts too. Cause once you picture my pudding belly jiggling, how in the world can you think anything negative?!?
"So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable..."
The chilly air is riding Winter's last few weeks... But here in Texas, the sun's been welcoming a few warm hours a day, which reminds us of Spring's hope. Everything will bloom again, and God's creation will reveal itself in all it's splendor. And that includes us! Yup, the sun and warmth usher in "Beach Season" with all it's exercising outdoors and indecent swimwear. And what is on the mind of the typical beach-goer or the wanna-be beach goer (but not everyone)? How the creation that God made them to be will look to all those other beach-goers.
You see, I grew up as a slightly "Husky" kid who hated the connotation of that word. Yeah, I was a little bigger than a lot of my friends... and not in the tall sort of way. So, I've always had a bit of a weight complex. And I used to always wear a t-shirt when I would go swimming because I was 1) embarrassed of my body, and 2) worried that I wouldn't be accepted and loved with my appearance in full view. But I had not yet read that passage from Corinthians where it tells us that our spiritual running is way more important that our physical running.
Yet, when I finally accepted Christ as my Savior, I still had 14 years of body complex following me. And, along with a young faith, I found my spiritual discipline often failing. Towards the end of high school, I found that I could physically train my body and actually make it do what I want... And in my spiritual lows, I found that I could control something (other than my spiritual life) when I controlled my physical appearance and health. But, of course, I didn't realize what I was feeling at the time. It's taken years and years of spiritual highs accompanied by physical inactivity and years of spiritual lows accompanied by physical activity... and I didn't see it until very recently.
Recently, I feel more grounded and focused. A spiritual (grounded) high that is grounded on Gospel faith, discipline, and a renewed understanding of grace. However, with all of the moving and career uncertainty I've had in the past year, I have ventured into a period of physical activity and health management yet again. I have found what I need to do to lose unhealthy weight, tone, and build muscle... something I've always enjoyed doing. And that's when it hit me! With all of the uncertainties in my life, I was allowing myself to be certain of the fact that I can control my body and beat it into submission to MY will. I was taking selfish pride in the fact that I was in control.
And that's when I realized that my selfish goals, pride, and controlling attitude were somewhere behind my motivation to get into better shape. AND that this certainty had been taking the place of the certainty of the Gospel in my life! And INSTEAD, I should acknowledge first and foremost that I am certain of one thing: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can then also be certain that this body is God's temple, and that it is by his grace and to his glory that I can get into shape, let alone even walk! This body, and YOUR body, are miracles... scientific mysteries. And God deserves all the praise for each and every body, no matter our differences.
Praise God, I have realized that I was substituting my goals for God's goals for me... and I am now aware of how NOT to work out! And instead, I should take Paul's example and discipline my body, not for my prideful sake, but for God's glory. And let him be my motivation for this part of my life too! God wants us to take care of our bodies because they are temples for his Holy Spirit... (1 Corinthians 6.19-20) But he also wants us to discipline our mind, heart, and soul. But the healthier my body is, the longer and further I can share his Gospel. Which reminds me, I got to stop biting the nails on this temple!
Now, I'm on the adventure to find the balance between spiritual and physical discipline... tying in relational, educational, and my career. I want to find Christ-centered balance in this life, that I may attempt to avoid selfishness and pride, and openly share the Gospel without disqualifying myself.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." -1Corinthians 9.24-27 (ESV)
Other good reads I like:
-Timothy 1.8, 2.6
Besides, for God, it's not about how we look to others. I can't imagine God wants us to get into shape to model underwear or something. Especially whitey-tighties! Those can't be biblical. I mean, who made those anyway?!?
Arthur Kneibler, actually.
Another How to Succeed in Failing blog brought to you by Curtis Raymond Shideler, who does not wear briefs.
Reflection takes time to happen. So, does using the bathroom! Time is something not enough of us give ourselves. I mean, really God gives it to us, and we choose to do with it what we will. And I've done some dumb things with mine at times! And, I'm sure I will continue to make some dumb choices from time to time. Thankfully, though, I've been trying to do a better job at putting my time into the right things in the right order. Loving God, those I love and my "neighbors," (just like Matthew 22.34-40 where Jesus told us to love the Lord our God first, and others as ourselves), then my calling, work, and all of the other little things like relaxing and entertainment, etc.
However, I've found that when I casually let one of the other things in that list go before loving others or even God, that my decisions usually end up getting dumber and dumber, and end up flushing out amazing God-inspired ideas. Let's take a silly little situation that just happened this morning. I visited a Starbucks and had to use the bathroom. So, I went, and sure enough, someone jiggled the handle as soon as I sat down to do my business. So, I thought to myself... If that guy gives me a hard time when I leave, and sees my tattoos, I'll just tell him, "Hey, us Christians poop too, dude!" as if I would have to defend myself for taking a while.
Well, looking back on it, I was so focused on creating that number 2 that I allowed myself to already turn down a great witnessing opportunity in my mind before it even had a chance to come to life. Thank goodness that God didn't allow it to happen (to not only teach me a further lesson, but also be a negative impact on that guy). Love others as myself... Check. Not love myself, then others. Dude, wherever you are, sorry my pooping took a minute or two. Hope you have a blessed day, get to know our God better, and enjoy your pooping too!
It was a cold, still night and I sat in a comfortable chair with a small flame and glowing lights illuminating what my decisions could not. For weeks now, there were questions growing within me, and tonight for some unknown reason, they were coming to a head. "Be still and the answers will come to you," I thought. But they weren't arriving, no matter the amount of quiet or calm I attempted to create. Empty were my thoughts; discouraged were my hopes. "What could the answer possibly be...," I said softly aloud to myself and to the God I knew was listening in, "to this Christmas mystery?"
And all too abruptly, there came a knock at my room's door. But before I could utter a word, the door was thrust open. "Come with me!" my companion exclaimed. "Despite the hour, there's work to be done, and your assistance is required." I had finished my own work much earlier that day, and had looked forward to this time of quiet to ponder the solutions that might extinguish these mental flames.
But before I had even objected to my companion's demands, I found myself traversing the damp streets, lit up with the season's merriment. And without so much as asking where and why, I was allowing the bright lights to chase away the blues that were residing in my mood. What does it matter, these expectations on this time of year? Who truly needs more than the needs their Father meets, and the compliments of love and care?
"And where on earth are we headed?" I thought with a whisper. Sure my companion said he needed my help, but so far I have only offered hindering to his progress. The long time began to wear on me, giving me the idea of possibly finding my companion a new companion with which to assist him on his cases. But, alas, the thought was a fleeting one. Soon I found myself not even thinking on the night's adventures, and instead, lost deep within the peace one feels as the endorphins are rushing.
Do they truly matter, the gifts we give? Or is the giving itself a portrait of what we are really wanting to give: love. But what if we don't know how to give this love to this person or that person? What if there isn't a gift we can find to express it? What if we can't get enough for all those we long to love? Should we give nothing? Should we give sparingly? Should we only give to those willing to give back? How can we afford to love as many as we want? And how can we afford to love those put in our way when we long to love others?
I continued to spiral down a slippery mental slope as we were ironically headed downhill. I thought of all those who have either a need or a problem of begging, and how I have reluctantly given to them at times and with joy at others. Is it not better to give than to receive? So, should I not take joy in each opportunity to bless someone? But what if I cannot bless those I would rather bless? Is that not my own selfishness I am truly longing to bless, at the heart of it?
But then, what about my family, friends, and even this companion (who still has yet to tell me where we are headed!)? Do I neglect them in exchange for giving to those who actually display a need? And if I do indeed attempt to give to them all, how in the world can I gather the means to birth the gifts that will truly show the depth of my love for them?
It was at this point that I realized my companion could no longer be seen ahead of me. Were my eyes, the dark night, and these dancing lights playing tricks on my senses? I had almost even convinced myself that my companion had not coerced me out tonight, and that I had made the whole thing up as a means of escape... and then I saw his silhouette against lamps far ahead. So, I knew I was still heading in the right direction, although for the life of me, I did not know what direction that was. In fact, now that I reflect on it, the buildings we just passed seem to have a similar quality to the ones we passed minutes earlier. Were we visiting the same path that we had already tread? Running in circles around town as my head did the same?
To give or not to give... to whom or to no one? To make an unending list... or to just give as we are given? Maybe just to let everyone know how much you long to give, and that your love is unending towards them. And then pray to meet their needs beyond just this season. The practical application of this fails my selfish, fleshly-sentenced understanding. But it seems to be a hopeful solution if I can wrap my head around it. As Fred told his uncle Scrooge, "I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?" Maybe if we all could look upon this season as one where we want nothing, but instead just long to share the love God has lavished upon us, our gifts no matter how big or small, there or absent, will be unexpected and cherished... Even if just a hot cup of tea, we can be a hot cup of tea more blessed than we were before.
"Ah!," I exclaimed, as my hot breath rose into the night sky. Maybe I shall just purchase a large quantity of cards, and wish many the best, reminding them of our savior during this season by means of the pen. By means of the pen. Can that ever be enough? And where did my companion run off to again? I believe my thoughts slowed my legs, and he is much further ahead of me. What help have I been to him tonight? I can barely help myself solve the mystery of Christmas giving.
And before I could get too frustrated at this goose chase I've been recruited for tonight, I observed familiar surroundings, realizing we were once again on our own street! Indeed we have made circle around the town, meeting spots on this ground many times over, before arriving finally at our destination: our very own home! And without a word, I entered our house, found my room, and returned to that comfortable chair that I had been in an hour earlier. And again it was still, quiet, but not quite as cold.
I had finally realized the answers I had searched for weren't finite and resolute. Each past year's answers were different from the years before. And this year would be no different. I couldn't fit this mystery into a box that I could wrap and tape with satisfaction. It will always be a mystery: how to handle this season of giving. And though I haven't made a list yet, bought cards, or resolved to only spend so much, I have realized one thing: Giving wasn't meant to be stressful or difficult. It wasn't meant to be frustrating to the giver. It was meant to be a blessing to the giver. And so, no matter what I will do or give, I will resolve to be just that: blessed.
And hopefully whatever I give or don't give, I will pray that all will be blessed as well. Because, after all, these gifts are supposed to be a reminder of those brought before Christ, and to a greater extent, Christ himself, given by God to an unworthy, selfish people... us. And thankfully, my companion's seemingly pointless errand turned into just the mystery-answering time I needed.
So, under the flickering of a candle and illuminated lights, I open the bible on my bedside table and reflect on the true meaning of all of this.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given..." -Isaiah 9.6
"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them." -Luke 2.20
"And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." -Matthew 10.42
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" -Acts 20.35
"...You received without paying; give without pay." -Matthew 10.8
"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." -2Corinthians 9.7
"And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." -Acts 2.45 (Which reminds me of the story The Gift of the Magi. It's a touching, selfless story for the season. If only we could be that way with everyone all of the time. Check it out. It's totally worth a read, even if you've read it long ago. Cheerfully giving of ourselves to bring others joy is such a gift in itself.)
And with that, if you have any need now or anytime, let someone know. It will give people an opportunity to be blessed by helping you. And when it comes to Christmas, try to remember God loves a cheerful giver... no matter what it is you are giving: cards, gifts, time, or even just a listening ear. Give with joy, and rest in the blessing of that gift, sharing Christ's love with whomever needs it... And now that I've written all of that... I'll try to do the same! Have a Joyful Christmas, celebrating the mysterious gift of our Savior.
Fact. I have never wanted to put on tight fitting black clothes made of leather and heavy eye liner more than I did this year. But I held back. And good thing, too. I guess I would have maybe given off the wrong impression. However, Adam Lambert totally inspired many guys to do it, I bet. And that emo-rocker image probably made quite a few female hearts go a flutter. But no matter their looks, American Idol singers have sang their way into so many hearts world-wide. And now So You Think You Can Dance is dancing it's way up the ratings too. It just seems we are so hungry to stand in awe of something or someone... And so, we let people use some talent to compete and win a place in our hearts and lives. And for a brief time, they are adored. They are praised. They are idolized. Fitting, considering the show's name.
But this fad of idolizing someone or something isn't new at all. I bet in the 1800's, if there was television, we would have had Magician Idol or Violin Idol. Before that, Explorer Idol and Pirate Idol. Before that, Wooing Idol, Gladiator Idol, etc... People have been entertained and allowed themselves to idolize other people ever since there were more than one person! However, thanks to some amazing chronicling, we have a great historical account of the first hundred years after Christ's birth, and some of the idolizing that went on then.
Paul, who as Saul had idolized his position in the church, was now spreading the amazing news of Christ and the resurrection. Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy to join him on this journey when "His spirit was provoked within him as he saw the city was full of idols." (Acts 17.16) It goes on to say that the city had statues of idols set up and people were worshiping an "Unknown" god. Can you imagine Paul walking on the streets of Hollywood?! All of the billboards, the posters, the statues, the characters walking around, the indecencies, the many people exploiting themselves to idolize something or someone. But Hollywood is just our human condition let run a little more rampant. Every city displays the same sinfulness and de-godding of God... just maybe not as much. Because, afterall, that's what our unrepentant hearts yearn to do: de-god God and idolize his creation.
It's bewildering when I think of the most famous idolizing in the Old Testament. Moses had led God's people out of Egypt, and into the wilderness. I get that the wilderness wasn't the most comfortable place... We've all had our mini versions of wilderness. But Moses went up Mount Sinai to talk with God, who had provided miracles for the people while in the wilderness. God had taken care of them, and Moses was about to do some chatting with him. And the people became impatient, wanting gods to worship and to "Go before them." It's like now-a-days we have forgotten about the God who sent his Spirit to earth and led his Son to die for all of our sin... and we have turned to worthless, finite things that deceptively fill an ultimate need for only a temporary time.
And yes, I am absolutely guilty of this myself. In many ways. In my past, I have allowed a couple things to go before God, time and time again. I'm sure we all have our own temptations, but mine have gotten the best of me more than a couple times. You see, sometimes even the good things that God gives can be turned into idols if we put them before God in our hearts and lives. I have often allowed my relationships with the opposite sex to de-god God in my heart. And even in marriage, I allowed my wife and our sex life to take a godly place in my heart. And because of that focus being taken from God, I failed at being the leader he intended me to be. Funny thing. Marriage didn't put to death my habit of idolizing. It illuminated it even more so.
Everybody wants to idolize something or someone. It's how God created us to be: Creatures of worship. But he intended us to worship him. And we've failed, allowing relationships and work and covetting of all kinds to replace him. Yet, through Jesus, he's given us another chance to come to him. Of course, we'll still fail. We're living a war within that we won't always win. But he's always there for us to run to, repent towards, and truly rest in. The pastor of my church in Hollywood (Reality L.A.) talks frequently of our de-godding of God, and the war we are constantly fighting within. And just the fact that we are fighting that war is a good sign. That struggle within is a testament to God and his pull on our hearts, his Spirit. Almost all of us, Christian or not, fight that war. That's because God wants our focus, worship, and idolizing hearts to be turned toward him and be fully given to him.
It seems that I've heard a lot about idolizing lately. Tim's sermons from Reality L.A., sermons here, talking with friends... And it's good timing, too. I've just began a new relationship, and I think it's about time that I recognize God has given me this, and it's not to take his place. His blessings and creation are not to be adored as much as him. Honestly, I've been very blessed this past month, and in the past I've allowed good times like these to slowly pull my focus from God and put it on his blessings. This time, I think it's time to keep him number one in my life. And I would happily give up anything in my blessed life right now... for him. That just might be the key: A willingness to let go of anything for him. He's worth more than anything he's given me. And though we should be thankful for all he's given us, what would that stuff be without HIM?
However, it's not just idolizing that has swept the world... over and over again. There's also the trap of wanting to be idolized. I mean, we all want to be praised for something we've done. But it's such a trap indeed. Why do we want to be great at something and have others tell us so? Why do we do what we do in the first place? I know I've wanted to write, make music, and act and be adored for it... But ultimately, I am called to create in order to point others to Jesus. And it's when I forget that, that I begin idolizing myself and wanting others to do the same. In fact, many things that we idolize end up reflecting the fact that we too often idolize ourselves. Why do I need to be a great actor?! If I can point others to Jesus by failing at acting jobs, then I would much rather take that instead. Well, I want to have that mindset anyways. But like I said, it's a war within. And I'm sure you've got that thing you would love to be adored for... But you know what? God adores you... right now. And when you do that thing for HIM, he is greatly pleased. Well, as long as that thing isn't contrary to his commandments. I mean, we can't worship God correctly if we're flesh-eating zombies or blood-sucking vampires or something.
But if we seek to honor him, like we are called to do... ("You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."), then we will find ourselves avoiding the temptation to idolize something, someone, or even ourselves. We will find our focus clearly on the Creator, thankful for his creation, but ultimately not lifting it above him. It is a war within. And the only way to win it is to put our trust wholly in Christ and focus on loving God first and foremost. Everything else should flow from that.
I know I've been all over the place in this blog, so let's recap:
1. Don't wear excessive eyeliner in order to be praised.
2. Don't let American Idol take the place of reading your bible.
3. For Curtis: (Don't pitch a TV show idea for Acting Idol where actors do 1-2 minute scenes from TV shows and films in a competition for who can act the best... make lots of money off of it... and repent for adding to this idolizing fad.)
4. Don't make statues or golden calves to decorate the house with.
5. Don't use your talents so others will tell you how awesome you are.
6. For Curtis: (Don't expect to become anyone's idol by writing long-winded blogs about idolizing things in order to point others to God.)
7. Don't idolize God's creation.
8. Don't encourage others to do the same.
9. For Curtis: (Don't make anymore annoying "Don't" lists for others.) And...
10. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.
But I think if we just do number 10, everything else will fall into place.
I don't know about you, but I love a good movie ending. It makes the whole time you spend watching the movie totally worth it. I mean, if the movie's great, but the ending pulls you down, then you leave feeling defeated and saddened... not to mention totally ripped off! I don't want to go on movie bashing here, but we've all seen some of those, and wished we could have that money AND time back.
But there's one movie ending that just gets me so excited. The whole movie is full of tripping, failure, and despair, but the ending shows that the character learned, grew, and overcame all of the tripping. I mean, if you lived the same day over and over and over again, you'd probably learn too!
However, I guess you could look at it from the point of view that there is so much to learn from all of that tripping and failure throughout the whole story. After all, as much as I want my life to be one long victorious ending, it's actually full of tripping and falling. Which reminds me...
A couple days ago, I went running like I usually do every day. And just like my life has led me down many new paths, I usually like to vary up my runs and find new ways to go. And just like my life, too many times I stare far ahead hoping for my destination. Marriage, a family, a career, music, writing, a house, a huge porch... There are so many goals in my life and run! It's easy to not look down at the here and now, when those all seem so far away. So, when I was running and looking down the street at where I should turn to get back to my house, I didn't see the HUGE crack in the sidewalk that introduced me to it's hard cement! That's right. I was so focused on my goal, I didn't see the here and now. And I tripped!
But after the trip, there are so many ways we can go from there. We can break something, need assistance, and spend forever healing or in a life-long cast. OR, we can catch ourselves with our hands before the cement hits our face, and get back up. Now, there are many ways to get up. You can do the quick Catch & Spring method. That works well if you're not sure if anyone is looking, because maybe if you do it fast enough, they blinked and didn't see you totally wipe out! There's also the take Time & Inspect method, which is good for when no one's looking. You can make sure you're not bleeding or injured too bad. And of course, there's the Look & Laugh. You acknowledge your trip and fall, and laugh it off, no matter the outcome. And then there's the Cry & Call. You whine and then expect someone to come save you out of what you've got yourself into.
I've done them all in my life. But this time, it was the Catch & Spring. I mean, I'm kind of a Spider-Man when it comes to my reflexes. Just wait till my Climbing on Walls blog! But seriously, the Catch & Spring method reminded me of how I want my walk with God to be. We all make mistakes and fail God daily. I want to Catch myself or allow him to catch me, and Spring right back up with true repentance and love. Of course, it's easier to do when I'm running, with my quick reflexes and all. I run a lot. But then again, I fail a lot too. So, I'm trying to get better at catching sooner, and springing higher.
"Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" —Ezekiel 18.30-32
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." —I John 1.8-10
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." —Acts 3.19
Repenting from our falls, and springing right back is freeing. However, too many of us stay down, and allow our trip ups to hinder us from talking with God or reading his word. I've seriously been kept down so many times. But don't let those scars you have on your hands (from catching yourself) remind you that you fell. Look at those scars from the fall as a reminder that God is bigger than your mistakes, and that through Jesus, God has freed you from the guilt that you feel. Sure the scars are a consequence of your sin or failure... But Christ has healed you already. Your hands just don't know it yet. But they will. Give them time to catch up with the rest of you... And while you're waiting, keep talking with God.
You see, we shouldn't always just look down the road towards our goals because we might trip. But we shouldn't just focus on each step, because we'll be running without direction. I guess we need a mix of the two, and the comfort that the falls won't stop us. You see, our ultimate goal shouldn't be to accumulate as much as we can or find that perfect someone. Our goal is our upward call in Christ. That upward call means that we should love Christ, we should love those around us, and that we all aren't home yet. If we can keep that in mind when looking down at our current steps, and keep that in mind when we're looking down the road at our goals in Christ, then I bet we'll end up tripping a little bit less and a little less harder each time. But, we'll still trip. Just remember to try to catch quicker and spring higher, and let God lead you as you strain forward to what lies ahead.
"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 3.13-14
Since 1969 there's been a famous saying in Virginia that's brought in more money and produced more marriages than they previously had. "Virginia is For Lovers." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_is_for_Lovers) Honestly though, I had never heard it until I visited the state for the first time. And ever since February 2009, I had a hope... I put my hope in the fact that the relationship I was in was indeed going to work out, because well, she lived in Virginia! And since Virginia was for "Lovers," then it definitely must be for me! So, I was hoping Virginia was for lovers.
I hoped it so much that I pursued this relationship through another visit, and eventually after about 6 months of "dating" long distance, I decided to move out there! Crazy right?! Well, I'm not the first to do something this crazy. Just read Ruth 1, and see how big of leap Ruth took. She didn't have anything but Naomi to cling to, and she clung with all of her love. But, just as many things that we put our earthly hopes into, my relationship failed. There wasn't any huge thing that kept it from working. I mean, her and I have so much in common, and really would've worked better if she wanted something as serious as I did. But then again, who wants someone who's hope is still being carelessly tossed across the country... and not aimed where it ultimately should be?! Even I don't want someone like me!
And so, just like Naomi, I found myself somewhere without the companion that I had hoped in, and I became bitter. That's what happens when our hope is a selfish, earthly based one. It lets us down and never fully satisfies. So, where in the world should I have put my hope? Well, the New Testament gives a good idea of just that. And if Naomi had owned an awesome Trutone Series Crossway ESV bible, she too could have flipped to 1Peter 1.13!
"13Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Jesus, the Christ has redeemed me, and opened up the most important relationship in my life: my Heavenly relationship with the Father himself. And the grace poured on me, at times, is ignored by me to instead trade for something here in front of me. But just because it's visible and available, doesn't mean that my hope should be traded for it. I want to set my hope FULLY on the grace I have in Christ, God's great mystery revealed. A hope that has NEVER let me down.
The whole story of this relationship would take up a whole chapter, for sure. But, along with my hope in Christ, I also hope that his witness through me wasn't marred too much through this whole experience. Because nothing should be worth sacraficing that. And after all, Virginia... It's not necessarily for lovers. In fact, it's just like any other state. It's got it's share of love, heartbreak, and everything in between. But, just like any other state, it's also got just as much of Christ. So, instead of hoping in that relationship, Virginian job, that new house, a blossoming family, or a bigger church congregation... Even us "Lovers" should hope in Christ, and the grace God has poured out on us all through him. And everything else will work out for his best, for his glory.
And I hope the same for you and your state. In fact, I wish we could change the slogan for every state to "(YOUR STATE NAME) is for loving like Christ." After all, if we all loved like Christ, and put our hope in him, even losing a relationship like I did, wouldn't even be a bump in the road. Instead, it's all the more a reminder of our need for Jesus. And I thank God, that Christ has been given for ALL. And no matter what happens from here on out, I know it'll be amazing as long as my hope's where it should be...
18Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
If you are expecting an amazing blog post, then you may be in for disappointment. But hopefully you will realize that the disappointment you feel isn't a result of the words that I've strung together, and instead a result of what you thought those words were going to say. Expectation is a dangerous thing. I've expected many things in my life, and have had expectations put on me as well. And through it all, I've realized that if your expectations are in a person or thing other than Christ, you will be let down. Because as people, we all fail.
I used to be married years ago. I feel a great God-given desire to have a companion through life, and to be someone else's companion. And I still remember my ex's family's pastor counseling us months before the big day. He told us that one of the biggest killers of marriage was expectation. That always stuck with me. And yet, through our marriage, I still expected her to feel a certain way or act in a certain manner. I wasn't alone in this either. She expected things from me too. The real problems came when those things we expected from one another began being left unsaid. Expectation became the silent killer.
Despite more counseling years later, and many attempts at meeting her expectations, she left. She expected more from the sinful, work in progress that I was at that time. And I expected that she would never want to divorce me and that we could work through anything. But that's okay. We both made mistakes, and are completely forgiven. And hopefully, we will not place unrealistic or unsaid expectations on our next spouse.
But expectations don't just reside in marriage. They're all around us, waiting to pounce on us like lions to a big lion pouncing bag... or big piece of meat! (I knew you expected a meat or lamb reference here). You see, we expect our friends to do certain things for us, or our coworkers to get a certain amount of work done, or work to be easy and slow, or the driver in front of us to go a certain speed, or our significant other to get us that special gift, or our favorite TV show to be funny, or that meeting to not be boring or to get done quickly, or that steak we just ordered to be done to perfection, or our paychecks to be bigger, or our facebook status to be liked by enough people, or our blogs to be read and adored, or our new outfit to be the hit of the party, or... (fill in the blank).
Expectations can obviously creep into our lives in every situation and at almost every moment. But it's no different today than it was 2,000 years ago. I'm sure if you were Israel and all you've ever known is that a king was going to save you, you'd expect him to be pretty... kingly, huh? And so, when Jesus stepped out onto the scene and announced he was the Christ (their long-awaited Messiah and King), you can bet there were some people who didn't take him seriously. I mean, there were probably people who heard of him, went to see him, and were pretty let down at the sight of a man in some pretty common robes, eventually being crucified. How can this be our king?! (see Matthew 27.27-31)
And that's what expectation does to us. We want something that we think we should or are going to get, and we don't get it or we don't get it when we want it. We're let down. We're disappointed. But you know, if we could just be patient and expect the unexpected, we might be surprised how free and content we'll feel. What if you don't get to speed down the highway today? What if you don't get that phone call you're waiting for? What if your roommate doesn't do what you want? Be patient. Stop expecting what isn't yours. Cause after all, all this expecting boils down to us just being selfish, doesn't it? And we can't all get our own way all of the time, can we? I mean, especially if what you want and what your friend or spouse wants is the exact opposite.
But what about the king that Israel expected to be dressed in kingly robes and a crown...? You can't know when, but he's coming... again. And because it's Christ, you CAN expect that.
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
I like to think that I'm a prepared kind of person. I'm sure most of us do. In fact, I am sitting here at Starbucks, iced coffee next to my Powerbook, tweed hat upon my head, and "writer's" sweatshirt covered by a thin sport coat, as I typedy type type on the keyboard while occasionally looking up source material... the very image of a prepared and observant writer. And this is the story of how I am neither.
A few days ago, spurred on by the suggestion of a friend, I took a trip to a local pumpkin patch/farm. Side note: I'm a huge fan of pumpkins, Autumn, and most things associated with the season. So, needless to say, I was pretty darn excited to frolic amongst my plump orange friends! And after looking long and hard, I found the perfect pumpkin... just the right size for display on my dashboard. So, I took it up to the young, friendly girl at the outdoor stand. She began to ring it up, when my happiness and day of preparation came to a staggering halt. The sign on the register read, "No cards for purchases under $10." So, I asked, "This little guy isn't going to be more than $10, is he?" She gave me the disappointed face to kind of console me, but I was devastated. My favorite place, my favorite time of year, about to get one of my favorite things, and I failed to prepare for that very moment... And so my cashless wallet and I Charlie-Brown-walked to put the pumpkin back, with sad Charlie Brown music playing in my head.
The very first thing that came to mind after I left was a verse: 2 Timothy 4.2. It has nothing to do with pumpkins or cash. But it got me thinking. We are supposed to be prepared in season and out to preach the Gospel. And even at that pumpkin patch, had I been able to purchase the pumpkin and talk with the friendly girl, our conversation might have glorified God... or I might have been able to share God's love with her in some way. But that opportunity and many like it have passed me and my cashless wallet by too many times... not to mention, if I had prepared by putting a few bucks in my wallet, I would have left with one more pumpkin than I came with!
And then today, I was encouraged by one of my favorite non-existing people ever. Linus. I watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on my lunch, and was just struck hard by Linus' unwavering faith in the Great Pumpkin and his total preparation for the Great Pumpkin's arrival. If Linus needed to have $3 with him for the Great Pumpkin to show up, he would have had it... and more, probably! In fact, Linus is a great example of a watchful servant; like in Luke 12.35-40, he is awake and prepared, sharing the story of the Great Pumpkin with Sally! Well, except for when he faints of excitement. But, can you blame him?! I mean, it's the Great Pumpkin, for goodness' sake! Or was it?
For me, it was the Cash-Only Pumpkin, Curtis Shideler. And I wasn't prepared for it... and I wasn't watchful enough to see or foresee the need to have cash on me. But, it's an absolute fact that the Cash-Only Pumpkin will come again. Whether it's this month, next year, or five years from now, I want to be prepared, watchful, and waiting expectantly for the pumpkin's arrival.
And by pumpkin, I mean... Well, I'm sure you get the parable. If not, check it out: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2012:35-40&version=NIV
My life has given me many opportunities to... well, live with people. Maybe even bug a few of them in the process. In fact, over the past ten years, I've been a house guest or roommate almost the entire time. And I haven't really reflected on it much until this week, after doing a little bit of reading.
You see, I try to be the kind of guest that doesn't fart (too much) in front of people or make messes or be in anyone's way. That means sometimes I even retreat to "my" room just to be out of the way. And while there is good intent in that, it doesn't seem that... biblical.
This week, I've been reading Acts 10. And towards the end of it, I really focused on how God called Peter to be a house guest. And Peter didn't say "Hello! Fun being here and all... but where's my room?!" Peter hung out, spoke the Gospel, and probably lived it out loud as well. And that caused those he was visiting to want him to stick around for a while and continue to speak the Gospel. And well, that's where I feel I've failed. I've had so many opportunities to speak the Gospel into people's lives and situations, pray with them or for them, and really be a blessing in living situations... but I've let many of those opportunities slip away. And in some cases, I'm sure I was more of a hindrance or distraction than being a light, shining Christ.
I'm sure most of us live with at least one other person, be it a spouse or friend or acquaintance. But how much of your time is spent speaking and living the Gospel, being a spouse or house guest from... Heaven? And how much of your time is spent being a roommate or house guest from... Well, you get the idea.
Check it out: Acts 10.34-48 See how much of a blessing you (and I) could be.
Through my entire life, I've picked up quite a few things, and become moderately good at them. In fact, I like to think of myself as somewhat of a Renaissance Man... But, what happens when you learn a lot of things to a good point is that you fail to become great at any one thing. And that is where I think I went wrong. I've succeeded at failing at being great at something. So, I've decided to share what I've learned in hopes that my failures will become your successes.
So, with all that said, I have created this blog to go along with a book that I've been working on. I don't have a publisher, a definitive ending, or a super sweet cover yet or anything. But what I do have is some food for thought, some geeky, goofy humor that might fail at making you laugh... and a hope... that you'll learn from my mistakes. I know that every time I've failed, it's been encouraging hearing about someone else failing in a similar way, coming back from that point and ending up better off for the experience.
I am a sinful, redeemed, work in progress. So, I don't have any answers beyond the fact that Christ has redeemed me and I want to live like He commanded us to live. And there again, I fail. In fact, I succeed at failing quite a bit. So, if you'd like to learn a new way or two that you can fall short as a Christian or as a human being for that matter, please take a look at this new blog. Give it a little read, and please let me know what you think. Shoot, if you have any failure success stories you'd like to share with me, please send them my way at email@example.com.
And visit http://howtosucceedinfailing.blogspot.com often to read the much more frequently updated blog posts. I mean, I'm writing a book about the stuff, so I need to keep material coming! Or... maybe the blog will be the extent of it, and I'll succeed at failing to write a full book. It'll just be another lesson learned for me... and hopefully for you too. ;)
Through my entire life, I've picked up quite a few things, and become moderately good at them. In fact, I like to think of myself as somewhat of a Renaissance Man... But, what happens when you learn a lot of things to a good point, is that you fail to become great at any one thing. And that is where I think I went wrong. I've succeeded at failing at being great at something. So, I've decided to share what I've learned in hopes that my failures will become your successes.
So, with all that said, I have created a new blog to go along with a book that I've been working on. I don't have a publisher, a definitive ending, or a super sweet cover yet or anything. But what I do have is some food for thought, some geeky, goofy humor that might fail at making you laugh... and a hope... that you'll learn from my mistakes. I know that every time I've failed, it's been encouraging hearing about someone else failing in a similar way, coming back from that point and ending up better off for the experience.
I am a sinful, redeemed, work in progress. So, I don't have any answers beyond the fact that Christ has redeemed me and I want to live like He commanded us to live. And there again, I fail. In fact, I succeed at failing quite a bit. So, if you'd like to learn a new way or two that you can fall short as a Christian or as a human being for that matter, please take a look at my new blog. Give it a little read, and please let me know what you think. Shoot, if you have any failure success stories you'd like to share with me, please send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And visit http://howtosucceedinfailing.blogspot.com to read the much more frequently updated blog posts. I mean, I'm writing a book about the stuff, so I need to keep material coming! Or... maybe the blog will be the extent of it, and I'll succeed at failing to write a full book. It'll just be another lesson learned for me... and hopefully for you too. ;)
Up way too early again has me thinking about something I read earlier tonight about fear of commitment... and appropriately listening to an older William Fitzsimmons album, Goodnight.
It seems many of us have a fear of commitment in one form or another. Some may fear signing something like a lease or mortgage. Some may fear losing themselves in a commitment to another in a relationship, like a significant other or child. Some may fear just that thought of no longer having the option to "live life to the fullest" because of some commitment.
I'm realizing that many of our fears are not only wrong, but also misguided worries that are a result from some kind of sinful state of mind. If we can't commit fully to things, that must stem from our lack of full commitment to God... And a fear of commitment stemming from a lack of trust that He will let us truly "live life to the fullest" while we remain committed to that thing, that person, or that place.
God is funny like that. Christ taught us over and over that by letting go of ourselves or giving of ourselves or losing ourselves, and giving ourselves fully to Him, we find ourselves and find so much more than we could ever find on our own. A full commitment to Him, and to things that He gives us, can result in a true freedom that shines so much brighter than any false freedom we can trick ourselves into.
And along with fear of commitment, I see too many people in this world commit themselves to the wrong things... instead of the eternal, meaningful things. I failed when I put my career, my personal goals, and ambitions above love and family. I don't want to do that again. Many people tend to put their commitment to a career above family and love. Many people put their commitment to their own interests and desires above those of others in their life. In fact, I'm sure we all do it. That doesn't make it right or justifiable by any means. Just means we should all really consider what's worth our commitment.
I encourage us to fully commit ourselves to God and seek to commit our life, love, and time to His best for us, and not what we think is best. He knows us better than we know ourselves. The rest of our commitments, if guided by His Spirit, should bring us no fear.
It seems every day I've put off doing this because I knew it would suck. And it does. I hate making Pros and Cons lists. If you feel like you need to make one, that probably means your Cons list will more than likely disappoint you. They tell you everything you already know and just wish wasn't true or could be another way. And that's exactly what this one did.
You see, some Pros and Cons are concrete. They can't be changed. Those are great. Those are absolutes. It's easy to deal with absolutes. They can't be another way, so you learn to deal with them.
BUT, it's so many of these Cons that are totally EASY to change and with just a little work, they could totally be amazing Pros. They could be... But that's the problem. I just don't know if they ever will be. And that is NOT concrete. There's no absolute in that, and I am having a tough time dealing with them.
When things you need just aren't there... You should logically go find them. That's why these lists suck. They tell you to do something you don't want to do. Maybe my next Pros and Cons list will be the Pros and Cons of making decisions based on Pros and Cons lists.
I've tried to turn some of these Cons into Pros already, and it's just not working. So, with deadlines looming, I'm going to make another effort to take some of these Cons and try to help turn them into Pros. I really, really want to see those things added to the Pros list... It would really shine with them there.
Then the Pros would absolutely point in the direction I'm hoping to go. Wouldn't it be awesome if this whole post was about which cereals I should buy next?!?
I wish. But I too often buy what's on sale. I don't want to settle for what's on sale in this instance. I'm looking for specifics here. And I'm looking hard.
It's been quite an awesome few months. Well, awesome and a little scary. Back in December, I met a friend that I had found me on Myspace over a year earlier. She flew out here for work. We met, I took her to a Christmas party, and we had a great time together.
She must have had a great time, because when I finished working on the latest TV show I was doing, she flew me out to spend time with her and her family! But that's when it hit me that this might be the beginning of something serious... seriously dorky too ;-)
Now, five months after beginning to see her, and even another trip out to see her and her family, I'm praying about heading out there for a much longer stay. You see, if I move here in L.A. to a new apartment, I'll have to sign a year lease... This doesn't seem to bother her when I've brought it up. But, for me, I can't be in a relationship for another year of no guaranteed visits! I mean, I could, but it would be very tough and still not put us in a place to move forward.
So, I really want to visit her and her family for at least a few months. That way, we can date normally. We can really get to know one another and see if this can work... which is the only reason I asked her to be mine in the first place. She is absolutely astounding! Such a Child of God kind of heart and personality... adorned by gorgeousness. The romantic in me gets away from me a bit, as I'm sure she could tell you. But, anyway, it would be best for us to find out sooner than later if this is really going to work. It would be devastating to spend a year or more, on top of these past few months, working at a long distance relationship, only to find that after the year, it doesn't work out.
So, with a month or two left before I need to move out of my current place, I am feeling good about leaving L.A. for a while. God hasn't given me anything here that is at all permanent. And the L.A. lifestyle is not for me. I enjoy the beach side lifestyle, and the suburbia/college town lifestyle I had in Fort Worth, but L.A., Hollywood, and the Valley are just horrible to live in. You can find a few nice parts, but I long for a more normal lifestyle... Maybe a move can give me an opportunity to find that again.
My only concern is about my girlfriend. She has not seemed terribly excited or encouraging about me setting out to win her. She's said that she would love for me to live there and be with her, and even talked about it jokingly for many months... but now that I'm actually looking to make it happen, she seems silent. I want her to be excited, vocal, and constantly reminding me how much she's looking forward to it. I understand, though, that it's probably a huge weight on her shoulders... having me pick up a life in L.A. to move just to be with her. But right now, I'm just living in L.A. I don't feel like my work is going anywhere, and haven't found a successful group of people to write and film together consistently. Not to mention I've found love in someone not in L.A. And if my past has taught me anything, it has taught me that my priorities need to be God, then loving others (my wife/family/etc.), THEN work. I've put them backwards before, and it doesn't work well.
So yes, her silence concerns me. A move there to later find that she's lost interest would be very hard and devastating, but it would be better to know sooner than later. And she should not worry at all about me being disappointed. I'm moving to pursue her. She's worth it. And the hope of a future together is worth it. And the hope of a family is worth it.
God gave me a dream, and I thought I had to be in L.A. to make it come true... but when I finally met her, she became part of that dream. And now I realize that I can accomplish anything God puts on my heart anywhere in the world. But I know that whatever I accomplish for Him, having her as my partner will make it so much more of a success and so much more joyous. We would make a great team. Go Orange Team!
Anyway, I would be thankful for any prayers you would be willing to offer up. There are many things that need to fall into place for me to make it out there. I need a place to stay for a while, a good job to start saving, and the right timing to leave L.A. I'm really seeking God about this, so, thank you for your prayers.
i realized that i haven't posted anything recently on here... and a friend kind of inspired me to give blogging a little more attention. i'm not sure if i'm going to start posting short stories, more random thoughts, a bunch of posts on a certain theme, or something completely different. but here's the first one of the year!
and well, its been a long, but good year here in L.A. i haven't done as much as i hoped i would. i haven't had as much luck this year in some areas, and a ton of luck in others. but, i'm kind of coming to terms with the city and its demands.
but anyway, here's a couple links to small things that i've done recently. nothing too amazing, just fun shorts.
SHRIEK is a short film that i worked on with my other partners over at 313 Films.
and BIG BLUE is a music video for a song i wrote after being inspired by a girl's online dating profile.
and while you're watching my junk, you might find POOPY TIME amusing or MULHOLLAND DRIVE catchy.
so, i hope you enjoy these links while i figure out what to write next!
Well, its been a while since my last blog. And here I am, taking a break from working on High School Reunion, writing a new blog.
This past weekend I was blessed to begin filming on a short film that I am directing. The shoot went very smooth. And despite a few last minute decisions, I feel that we are totally on schedule.
I am looking forward to the big choreographed fight scene that we are filming on Saturday. It should be exciting and a good experience for both the film, and all of us as filmmakers.
I am very thankful that the Lord has put the friends and coworkers I have in my life right now. Its been a blessing to work with each other and do what we can for each other. And without them, I wouldn't have a crew or cast that I can as easily trust and have fun working with.
So, just wait. The Affliction should be in post production in a week, and we should have a good cut of the film by next month. And besides the good look to the film, amazing acting, and great design, we have a very professional soundtrack to add to the overall polish of the film.
I am very excited to finish this one so I can begin working on another project, but I also wish I could have spent months on this one. Its a good story, with characters that carry the weight that we all are haunted with at one time or another. They are laced with depth, and rooted in the struggles, addictions, and fears that plague all of mankind today.
I have posted a few photos from the shoot last weekend on my facebook and myspace. More will be forthcoming, as well as a trailer, hopefully.
Then, I will make sure to let everyone know when the screening will take place.
alright. so, let's start this out with a fact. i sometimes dig chick flicks. its true, and i am not ashamed of it. however, when you're in a relationship and the chick flick portrays this perfect man that does everything right no matter how the girl acts... then that is just crap. because then my significant other will expect that from me, and we all know i'm not perfect!
with that said, i really like chick flicks that tell the truth. and by that, i mean how relationships REALLY work. there are a few movies out there that show the awkwardness, deceit, frustration, disappointment, and trials of a real relationship. i remember when i saw The Last Kiss in the theater. it was a good example of the different aspects to relationships. i mean, i hated what happened in it sometimes, which is exactly like we hate it sometimes in our relationships. i started watching the Break Up, and it was kind of that way too. i still want to see Knocked Up, because i am hoping it will be truth with humor. i also loved Once. it showed how we can form great relationships and not be led astray. despite its sadness, loneliness, and pain, there was joy in the characters lives, and mainly because of each other.
anyway, all that to say last night i watched a very truthful film about relationships. really felt like a real trip down memory lane, if you know what i mean. it is called Flannel Pajamas. now, let me tell you first off, it has a lot of scenes where this couple are talking and relating... nude. so, be warned. but, for me, it was kind of like watching my memories on a screen.
it starts off with the couple meeting, then they get to know each other for a while, then they fall "in love," followed by decisions to live together, get married, and tackle life-long goals. i remember all of that years ago. so naive and idealistic. well, eventually, (not to ruin it for you) they have problems, as we ALL do in relationships. and mistakes happen, dreams get put on the back-burner, life changes around them. and they change, like we ALL do. except, the female also allows her love to change. she decides to move out, they get counseling, and because she has fallen "out of love" with him, she wants a divorce. he doesn't want this. but, what else can he do?
so weird how we can look at things like love. there are so many different kinds, ways to experience it, and ways to use it. there's the love a parent can have for their child, which many times can reflect the love God has for all of us: unconditional. then there's the love that we feel for people in general. like you can love friends, acquantances, and people in need. and then there's the love that we have for another person that usually leads us to marriage. this love, as we Christians are taught, should be like Christ and the church. however, the church is so evil-natured. so, that seems odd. people in general are sinful. we can try to not be sinful, but we are stuck in this fleshly world. so, does that mean the wife can be sinful and the husband should be the perfect Christ figure? well, turns out us husbands (or ex-husbands) are also sinful. go figure, right?!
anyway, that marriage love can start out with our feelings and emotions giving us a euphoric feeling. but that will change over time. that might fade. and then what are we supposed to do? are we supposed to give up and move on to someone else who will supply us with those feelings that we FEEL we deserve?! i don't think so. if you were to ask me what my opinion is about love, i would reply to you this:
love is a choice.
when we decide to quit choosing to love, we give up on love. and when a spouse is involved in that decision, it can be devistating. and its only when we give up that we fail in things like marriage. i may be biased because i was left by my ex, but i now realize that it wasn't our differences, our mistakes, our bad decisions, our lies, our lack of time together, or anything else that drove us apart. sure all of that played a part in her DECISION... but just like the main character of this film, she had the choice to keep loving or to give up. and it seems like too many people, even who follow Christ, are making the decision to give up and seek something that will "better" their lives in the short term instead of deciding to love no matter what and grow together.
The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage
50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri."
these rates are kind of discouraging. and even more so if you've gone through it once or twice.
it's kind of ironic. her choice to leave me kind of makes me want to give up trying anymore too. but i know that it wouldn't be worth it in the long run to stop trying to love someone. however, for me now, i am single. so, watch out. i may start loving you. and if i do, i may never stop! hahaha...
but seriously, this movie, despite some stale dialogue and long conversations, is a great portrayal of what married people go through when they are starting out. and even though mine lasted 5 years, because of our age and situations, we weren't past the early stages. i can only hope and keep believing that with both people making the choice for a lifetime that marriage can be one of the most beautiful and productive and rewarding things that God has for us.
in fact, i will choose to believe that.
well, here i am, in L.A. i've been planning to move to L.A. since i started acting 13 years ago. a lot has happened in 13 years, but a few things have stayed constant: my relationship with Christ, my love for acting and creating, and my goal of moving to California to pursue my dreams.
so, now i'm here. and i'm looking for acting work, as well as production work. and now there's a writer's strike. so, many shows that i would love to try and work on are shelved for the season. so, there's not much work to be had. plus i don't even have an agent yet. i need to get on that as well.
with all that being said, i'm kind of bored. you know, i just got here, but i'm really wanting to work my butt off digging into a character while acting or framing and focusing some camera working on the set of something... and get paid for it. seriously, i'm grossly underpaid at the moment, and i need to find supplemental income quick. i need to get the car worked on, finally get my license plate, and hopefully eat next week.
unfortunately, i don't have much time in the evening to do much but wait in traffic, get home, spend an hour or two doing something, and then pass out of exhaustion. so, i've decided to be creative in any way i can lately. i've written many more songs this past month that i normally write in a month, i've been fleshing out ideas all over my moleskins, and finally, i have decided to try my hand at writing a novel.
writing a novel is a huge task. i mean, not really. bloggers are discovered, then get an agent, then land a book deal, then probably just morph their blogs into a book, and tah-dah! they're published authors. or in the case of the woman who wrote juno, you go from author to screenwriter to eventually being a director.
but i'm just a huge fan of stories. i love reading a good story, and i love telling a good story, and hopefully i will love writing a good story. i don't want to let any part of the cat out of the bag other than one of it's paws... so, i will just say it has many little stories all rolled into one. and i would love any help you would like to offer. so, if you have a good story or have an amazing memory of us, please let me know. comment on this and tell me a little about it.
i don't really know what i'm getting myself into... a novel. crazy. hopefully, though, this will help pass a little of my down time, allow some of my creativity to flow (while on an acting/producing low), and in the end, entertain a couple people. or a million. eh. we'll see.
somedays i try to run away mentally and emotionally from my past.
but it'll always be part of me... because i gave part of me... to it.
and there's no getting that part back. you can only try to run.
this song reminds me of that.
One of those awful black days
When nothing is pleasing and everything that happens
is an excuse for anger
An outlet for emotions stockpiled, an arsenal, an armour
These are the days when I hate the world
Hate the rich, hate the happy, hate the complacent, the TV watchers,
beer drinkers, the satisfied ones
Because I know I can be all of those little hateful things
And then I hate myself for realising that
There's no preventative, directive or safe approach for living.
We each know our own fate
We know from our youth how to be treated,
how we'll be received, how we shall end
These things don't change
You can change your clothes,
change your hairstyle, your friends, cities, continents
But sooner or later your own self will always catch up.
Always it waits in the wings
Ideas swirl but don't stick.
They appear but then run off like rain on the windshield
One of those rainy day car rides my head implodes,
the atmosphere in this car a mirror of my skull
Wet, damp, windows dripping and misted with cold
Walls of grey
Nothing good on the radio
Not a thought in my head
(Be safe, be safe, be safe, be safe, be safe...)
I KNOW A PLACE WE CAN GO WHERE YOU'LL FALL IN... LOVE
SO HARD THAT YOU'LL WISH YOU WERE DEAD.
Lets take life and slow it down incredibly slow
Frame by frame
With two minutes that take ten years to live *out*
Yeah, lets do that.
Telephone poles like praying mantis against the sky
Metal arms outstretched
So much land travelled so little sense made of it
It doesn't mean a thing all this land laid out behind us
I'd like to take off into these woods and get good and lost for a while
I'm disgusted with petty concerns; parking tickets, breakfast specials
Does someone just have to carry this weight?
Abstract typography, methane covenant, linear gospel,
Nashville sales lady,*stygian emissary* ,torturous lice, mad Elizabeth
The light within you shines like a diamond mine
Like an unarmed walrus
Like a dead man face down on the highway
Like a snake eating its own tail, steam turbine, frog pond,
two full closets burst open in disarray
Soap bubbles in the sun, hospital death bed, red convertible,
shopping list, blowjob, deaths head, devils dancing,
bleached white buildings, memories, movements
The movie unpeeling, unreeling, about to begin
I've seen your hallway, you're a darn call away
I've hear your stairs creak
I can fix my mind on your yes, and on your no
I'll film your face today in the sparkling canals
All red, yellow, blue, green brilliance and silver Dutch reflection
Racing thoughts, racing thoughts
All too real, you're moving so fast now I cant hold your image
This image I have of your face by the window,
me standing beside you arm on your shoulder
A catalogue of images, flashing glimpses then gone again
*I'm tethered to this post you've sunk in me and*
Every clear afternoon now I'll think of you up in the air twisting your heel,
Your knees up around me, my face in your hair
You scream so well, your smile so loud it still rings in my ears
Distant, tired of longing
Clean *my* teeth
Stay the course.
Hold the wheel
Steer on to freedom
Open all the boxes
Open all the boxes
Open all the boxes
Open all the boxes
Times Square midday
Newspaper buildings, news headlines going around
You watch as they go, *and hope for some good ones*
Those tree shadows in the park they're all whispering chasing leaves
Around six pm, shadows across the cobblestones
Girl in front of bathroom mirror as
she slowly and carefully and paints her face green *mask like Matisse 'Portrait with Green Stripe'*
Long shot through apartment window, a monologue on top but no girl in shot
The light within me shines like a diamond mine
like an unarmed walrus
like a dead man face down on the highway
Like a snake eating its own tail
A steam turbine, frog farm, two full closets burst open in disarray,
soap bubbles in the sun, hospital death bed, red convertible, shopping list,
blowjob, deaths head, devils dancing,
bleached white buildings, *memory*, movements
The movie unreeling, about to begin
so this week has been my first week at my new job. i am a runner for CineTel Films. yes, i run... sometimes far away. sometimes at night. sometimes in the day. i just run.
but seriously, its kinda fun! the office is full of great people who do what they do well, and seem to enjoy doing it. there's the corporate offices upstairs, and the production, post-production, and casting downstairs. and us, runners.
so, i basically run errands for anyone in the office. go pick up stuff or drop stuff off to post houses, graphic designers, actors, banks, stores, you name it!
check us out on IMDB. we make quite a few films a year. so, bottom line, i'm excited to be here, thankful for my friend nick who helped me get the job, and overall blessed by the Lord for getting to be a part of such a great film family.
let me start with this: i really enjoy the freedom that this blog brings. i feel that no one is really going to be reading this anytime soon. so, i have no hesitation to write. well, almost no hesitation. there are a few things that pretty much stay between me and God, but you know what i mean. and by you, i mean the occasional person to occasionally glance at this page.
so, freedom. comes in so many shapes and forms, both good and bad. i feel like i've been able to experience them both. but the funny thing is that the whole time that i've felt that, God has never let me go. he has never allowed me to fall away from himself. that's a restricted freedom that i don't mind in the least.
i have known the freedom of high school, decisions on college, mistakes in a multitude of unwise relationships, the decision to move to a new state, fall in love, move again, get married, move again, go back to school, study what i love and what the Lord has led me to... and unfortunately, the taste of singleness again, then the chance to travel, the ability to move yet again and pursue my dreams. these freedoms i have always felt have been mine. but God has ultimately been the one allowing any of this to happen. and when something bad happens to me or to you, that's exactly what he does: he allows it to happen. don't ask me why. some of the freedoms i've been given aren't ones i've asked for.
however, there are things that truly take a toll on this false sense of self freedom. the lack of money brings one's feelings of freedom crashing down pretty fast. then there is also the distance between you and those you love the most. and confusion, miscommunication, and dishonesty. you can't control your freedom when you can't control the circumstances. but that's where the real freedom comes in... we AREN'T in control of any of it. it happens because God allows it to happen. and if you feel that you are controlling what you are doing, maybe you really believe that. but ultimately God is allowing you to be where you are right now. he is the one in complete control. he can change your sense of freedom in a heart beat, wherever you are.
and right now, i am in los angeles, california. i am completely broke: can't pay rent, broke. i am unemployed. i am single. and even though the bible tells me not to be, i am scared. loneliness and fear of failure are constantly stealing my false sense of freedom, waking me up rudely and keeping me from peacefully laying down at night. and yet, i am free. Jesus paid the price for my future, whatever that may be. i am free of having to be right. he was right for me... its not about me at all. its never about us, no matter how much we want it to be. its about honoring him, loving him, and loving others. so, that's my game plan. that's the goal. of course we don't always hit the bull's eye, but we have to try. i mean we're free to try.
for the record, though, i feel that God wanted me here in los angeles right now, so i don't know why i am so close to needing to pack up and move back to texas. don't even have a place to live if i went back there anyway. i don't like being broke... at all. food is expensive. even beans and rice. i really want to find a job because i long to invest myself into a career. after all, that's what i thought i was brought here for. i don't like being single, and i really want to find someone who is ready to share a fun, passionate life together-through all of its ups AND downs. someone who puts the Lord first, and falls in love with getting to know each other as much as i will. and every morning i want the first thing on my lips to be praises to God, and the last thing on my mind at night to be reflective worship to him. my relationship with him while being here these weeks has been surprisingly good. after all, he allowed me to get here, through the help of friends. and he is telling me to wait. to be patient. there's no selfish freedom in waiting on the Lord. he's got me there. i have to have faith in his true freedom. and you can only have faith when you are risking your sense of freedom and relying on his freedom for you.
i pray you find that true freedom as well. its scary, exciting, and intense. after all, its God.
we live in a world awash in love stories. most of them are lies. they are not love stories at all - they are lust stories, sex-fantasy stories, domination stories. from the cradle we are fed on lies about love.
this would be bad enough if it only messed up human relationships - man and woman, parent and child, friend and friend - but it also messes up God-relationships. the huge, mountainous reality of all existence is that God is love, that God loves the world. each single detail of the real world that we face and deal with day after day is permeated by this love.
but when our minds and imaginations are crippled with lies about love, we have a hard time understanding this fundamental ingredient of daily living, "love," either as a noun or as a verb. and if the basic orienting phrase "God is love" is plastered over with cultural graffiti that obscure and deface the truth of the way the world is, we are not going to get very far in living well. we require true stories of love if we are to live truly.
hosea is the prophet of love, but not love as we imagine or fantasize it. he was a parable of God's love for his people lived out as God revealed and enacted it - a lived parable. it is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. it is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way - goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love. once we absorb this story and the words that flow from it, we will know God far more accurately. and we will be well on our way to being cured of all the sentimentalized and neurotic distortions of love that incapacitate us from dealing with the God who loves us and loving the neighbors who don't love us.
so check out hosea. we probably don't read it enough.
actor, musician, filmmaker, Sherlockian, and iPhone junkie who's pretty tight with JC.