Thursday, January 10, 2013

Follower of Christ (New Blog Home)

Hi Friends,

I've started blogging on my own personal blog rather than under the Truth Bomb label for the last year. Since my brother, sister and I aren't making music as Truth Bomb anymore (don't worry, Andrew is still making some great music on his own!), I decided it was time for a brand new blog. 

God is doing new things in my life these days. I'm pursuing new interests and new callings. So, naturally, my blogs are about new topics. And yet, I'm still "stuck" on the same primary theme: following Christ. This is the driving force of all of my life. It has been for the past eleven years, and always will be. 

So if you're still interested in reading about my pilgrimage here on this earth, come and check out my new blog, Follower of Christ.

As always, thank you for reading! Let's continue together, following Christ wherever He may lead us!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: Prayerwalking

Prayer is something I have never felt I was very good at. It seems like it should be an easy thing for a Christian--just talk to God--but I have always had difficulty knowing what I should pray for and how I should go about it. Especially when it comes to big prayers that require a bit of vision. Prayerwalking: Praying On Site with Insight by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick, is an introduction and practical guide to prayerwalking--the practice of walking through your community while offering up prayers to God on its behalf.

According to the authors, the benefit of taking your prayers to the streets of your neighborhood or city is that you gain a larger vision of God's purpose for that community. It takes less imagination and effort to pray that God's Kingdom will come to your town when you are on the streets, seeing and praying for the needs first-hand.

Contrary to what is commonly assumed, prayerwalking is not for the purpose of physical exercise. Prayerwalks are slow-paced and punctuated by frequent stops at locations of significance like schools, government buildings or the sights of historic events.

I especially appreciated how the authors included the testimonies of Christians across the globe who have prayerwalked in their communities and seen God move in mighty ways. Prayerwalking helped me to see beyond the walls of my prayer closet or church and see the purpose of my community for the glory of God. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for ways to get into their community and bring Christ to their neighbors. Prayerwalking is a great place to start.

*I received Prayerwalking: Praying On Site with Insight by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick by request for review from a Mission Frontiers promotion (

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sleeper: A Short (True) Story

There was a chill in the air early this morning, when I first awakened. It was pitch black outside and I was still tired. I reached for my extra blanket, pulled it over me and curled up to go back to sleep. While still only half-conscious, I remembered that it was time to get up and get ready for work. Ugh. I knew that once I was up and moving I would warm up and wake up, but I was just so comfortable there under the covers. Who gets up before the sun anyway? Especially on a chilly morning like today. And yet the alarm clock still came blaring into my room, chasing away any thoughts of sleep.

I'm living in a world absent of the Light, where the chill creeps into the very core of my being. My desire is to pull up the covers and stay warm while I sleep it all away. But then the Son comes into my room and beckons me to follow Him. He promises me that He will warm me from the inside-out with a fire that burns inside me, whether night or day. But first, I must get out of bed and look this cold, dark world in the face. I must get up and start doing the work of the Kingdom before the fire will start burning and chase the chill out of my bones. I must run to the ends of this bleak earth and share this light, this fire, that comes from inside me but not from me.

"Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,
and the Messiah will shine on you."
Ephesians 5:14

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: Courageous

Police officer, Adam Mitchell, spends his days fighting crime on the gang-ridden streets of Albany, Georgia. He knows the statistics--that the vast majority of gang members come from fatherless homes--but as a father himself, he feels that his physical presence in his children's lives is "good enough". But when life brings a sudden reminder that he only has one chance at fatherhood, Adam, along with friends Nathan Hayes, Shane Fuller, David Thomson and Javier Martinez, resolve to love God and love their families courageously.

Courageous by Randy Alcorn is a novelization of the screenplay written by Alex and Stephen Kendrick (makers of the movie Fireproof). I felt that Courageous was much more like the Kendrick brothers' Fireproof than any of Randy Alcorn's other novels, but being a fan of both, I enjoyed it very much. It felt a lot like the sequel to Fireproof, except with all new characters.

There are several main characters in the book and for about the first third, I felt like I was chasing them around in my head and trying to pin down who was who. Unfortunately, because of that, I never quite made a connection with the characters in a way I felt I should.

The message of Courageous is an excellent one! Unfortunately, I think sometimes the story got lost in the message, but overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it--especially to fans of Fireproof or Facing the Giants. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie when it is released.

Bonus features in the book included a reading group guide and production and movie photos that give you sneak peek behind the scenes on the set of the movie Courageous.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Desiring God Revised Edition

Hello Friends,

After reading the Revised Edition of John Piper's Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, I see why this book has become a classic in the twenty-five years since it was first published. From what I have experienced and seen in my own life and in the American Church, joy is a seriously under-developed fruit of the Spirit. In this book, Mr. Piper biblically demonstrates that we were meant to seek our personal joy and Christ! Because, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome," 1John 5:3. There seems to be a prevalent idea that obeying God should be burdensome. That doing what is right should be hard.  But this is not biblical. If we truly love God, keeping His commands will not be a burden, but rather, a joy! When God created mankind, He made us in such a way as to not be satisfied by anything but Himself. "In Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures." God's commands are given to us as instructions for attaining ultimate happiness, contentment and joy! And when we obey and find our satisfaction in Christ, He is glorified. Everything that we used to consider gain is loss in comparison with the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus!

The Revised Edition of Desiring God includes a study guide for group or individual study and an additional chapter on the topic of Christian suffering that, in my opinion, the book would be incomplete without.

I would very highly recommend Desiring God to any Christian! This is one that I plan to re-read in the near future because it is so saturated with truth that it requires more than one read to absorb it all.

Click HERE to purchase Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist Revised Edition.
Click HERE to read the first chapter.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

If you rank this review you will be entered to win a free copy of Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist Revised Edition!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Death of Me and How I Lived

Hi Friends,

Several months ago I made mention of the fact that I have a strange salvation story and that perhaps I would write about it someday. I call my story “strange” because of the way God reached down and rescued my soul at a time when I thought I already had salvation in the bag. I don’t know what I was thinking.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian family and to have been taught from a very young age about God and Jesus, Heaven and Hell. I was full of questions and my parents patiently answered them. At the age of five, I prayed a simple prayer asking Jesus to come into my heart because I didn’t want to go to Hell when I died. What I didn’t realize until I was much older was that I prayed this prayer more because of faith in my parents than faith in God. I thought my parents were probably right about what they said about Jesus, so I believed them. They were a lot smarter than me, after all.

I lived the next nine years like a good Christian kid should. I prayed, I read the Bible; I talked the talk and, on the outside, walked the walk (for the most part). But God always had a tendency to seem very far away and not all that real to me. When I was nine, depression crept in and swallowed me alive every night. I felt completely hollow inside. Totally alone and scared, and I didn't know why. I remember laying awake at all hours of the night wondering why I felt like there was a gaping hole in my heart when Christians were supposed to feel like that hole had been filled by God. Mine was empty. Where was God? I brushed off these doubts and just assumed God couldn’t really fill every void. The god I knew was growing smaller.

At the age of 11, my life was looking up. It had been a couple years since both of my paternal grandparents had passed away and the wounds were nearly healed. I had a new baby sister and my family and I were now living on the beach. Life was good and my depression went away almost entirely. I was thrilled.

Jesus once said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” [Luke 18:24]. I’ve seen this in my own life. Having all of my needs and many of my wants satisfied blinded me to my desperate need for God. If the things that made up my life were described as a meal, God was a side-dish of vegetables. He was good for me, but He wasn’t much fun. My Mom would always make me eat all of my vegetables if I wanted to have dessert. God was the same way. He was the means to getting to the good stuff in life. If I pleased God, He’d bless me and make me happy. The one I truly worshipped was Me.

In my pursuit of God’s favor, I was baptized by my dad in our bathtub when I was twelve. By the age of thirteen I was reading the Bible fairly often, I read books on Christian apologetics, and tossed my prayers heavenward whenever I needed help – which wasn’t very often now that life was so good.

Things did not remain so easy, however, and I will forever be grateful to God for it. Hard financial times fell on my family and things got tough. I grew fearful that these trials would bring back my depression, so I cranked up my God-pleasing skills to max and prayed He’d make life easier again. I read the Bible fervently, read devotionals and even bought a WWJD bracelet to remind myself not to be mean to my brother. After several months of trying to placate God, our situation continued to grow worse. I was beginning to get irritated with Him, but still tried to save face. It’s a hard game to play, trying to pretend to God that you think He’s all awesome when in reality all you want is to be done with Him.

In 2001, that old, dark fiend called Depression came back to haunt me. But this time he didn’t come at me with that hollow emptiness like when I was nine and ten. Instead, I was consumed by darkness and rage towards God. He no longer felt small and far off. He was breathing down my back.

These were the worst days of my life, and I almost didn’t live to see the beauty that lay just beyond them. All that was before my eyes was hopelessness. My Santa Claus god no longer paid any attention to my good deeds. Now I was on the Bad List and I didn’t know how to get off of it. So I gave up. I turned against God completely and no longer wanted to even try to do what was right. I didn't care. Doing good hadn't spared me from pain, so what was the point? But like a terrible nightmare, I discovered that no matter what I did, I couldn't shut my conscience up. It kept blaring sirens every time I did wrong. My guilt weighed on me like a herd of elephants. I wanted God to disappear. I blamed Him for all of my suffering because I had tried to earn His favor and He rewarded me with misery. I thought I deserved better than that. It seemed God was impossible to please. I pictured myself running for my life in a dark tunnel with God breathing fire down my back. If I dared stop, I'd be incinerated in milliseconds.

The misery I was in drove me to the point of wishing I would die. Sadly, the only thing I prayed for several months was that God would take my life. Because He didn’t, I began to think of ways to do it myself. There were only two reasons I never followed through. The first was that I didn’t know of a sure-fire way to get the job done. The last thing I wanted to do was attempt suicide only to survive and have to live with the consequences. The second reason was that, for the first time in nine years, I wasn’t completely sure God would let me into Heaven. And Hell was certainly worse than even the misery I was in at that point. I was in despair and there was no way out as far as I could see.

God has many tools that He uses to work on the hearts of mankind. One of the tools He has very often used on me is music. There was one song in particular during this time that gave me the first glimpse of hope I’d seen in a very long time. Maybe even the first glimpse of true hope I’d ever seen. The song was called “I Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot.

Maybe redemption has stories to tell.
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell.
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here.

The thought that maybe, just maybe, God didn't need anything from me to be satisfied. That perhaps He could save me right in the middle of my rebellion. That I could find forgiveness in that awful place where I'd fallen. These thoughts changed my life…forever.

If I had needed to clean myself up and change my ways and attitude before God would come to my rescue and forgive me and love me, I never would have made it. Not in a million years. I had absolutely nothing to offer Him. Here, I had hated Him and blamed Him for so many things, and all I had to do was ask Him to forgive me and He came running to my rescue! Why didn’t He just leave me where I was? Where I deserved to be? I will forever be grateful for God’s amazing grace; that He saved a wretch like me.

On May 22, 2011, I was re-baptized by my brother, Andrew, at a beach a few miles from my home. I put off being baptized again for nine years because I felt bad for having been baptized the first time when it meant nothing to me. But God is the Redeemer of all things and He is not holding my past against me. So under the water I went! I am forgiven and free!
"But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ --the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead."
Philippians 3: 7-11


Monday, May 30, 2011

The Worth of a Soul: Image of God

Hello Friends,

I've had some ideas stewing for quite some time for a new series titled The Worth of a Soul. In this series, I am going to write about topics such as abortion, human trafficking, poverty, and other things that dehumanize and degrade people, and what the Christian response should be to such issues. I've only written one other blog series before, that being the Story Behind the Song, so this will be a rather daunting task for me. Especially considering the subjects I'll be dealing with.

Before I dig into specific issues that degrade human life, I want to start by establishing from a biblical perspective why human life is so valuable in the first place. Without laying this foundation, there will be no reason to even bother with later posts. I don't value people's lives just because it's the nice thing to do. I value human life because we are made by God, in His own image. This has huge ramifications. 

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.'

So God created man
in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female."
Genesis 1:26-27 

This is huge. I mean, really, think about what this means. For those of you who are Christians, you've probably heard this scripture so many times that it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But, oh my, is it a big deal! The Eternal God, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, the One who made the stars and named each one of them, has made us in His image!

I think the majority of people either think too well of themselves or not well enough. And usually we believe both at various times. These two verses from Genesis should keep us on the right path. Most Americans spend 12+ years of their early life being told that they are grown up slime. A cosmic accident. If that's the case, then what's the point of life? What makes me any better than a monkey or a dog or a rock? Why is existence better than non-existence? Then there's the other end of the spectrum where people think that they themselves are gods. There is no other God but me. I am the captain of my soul. I exist for myself and for my pleasure. In both cases, the devil wins because we fail to see the purpose of our existence. God is not glorified when you say you are god. And God is not glorified when you say you are a useless mistake of the universe.

"What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him a little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet."
Psalm 8:4-6

See the balance here? The psalmist is saying that we are less than God. We are not on the same level as God. He created us. We are below Him. But it also says that we are crowned with glory and honor by God himself. Wow. And he made us lords over the works of His hands. Can you imagine that? Such a glorious Being created the universe and everything that's in it. Then He fashions people out of the dust of the earth and makes them in His own image, crowns them with glory and honor, and establishes them as the rulers of all He has created. That should make the despairing lift up their head! But at the same time, we have nothing that wasn't given to us, so there's no excuse for pride. You can never claim that it was by your own strength or genius that you went from a pile of dirt to the image of God. We are honored only because Someone greater than us has bestowed honor on us.

This fact - that God has made mankind in His image - stands for every person who ever has, is, or will live. Born or unborn. "Good" or evil. We are all created in God's image. And this has magnificent ramifications. This is why we should cherish all people, everywhere. This is why murder is so wrong. This is why neglecting those who suffer is so wrong. This is why keeping the Gospel to yourself is so wrong. This isn't just about us as humans, it's about God's glory - His image - that He has stamped us with. If you insult, harass, oppress, neglect, ignore or abuse a person, you are declaring God's most valued creation to be worthless.

If you put someone down or treat them poorly, what do you think that says about how you feel about God? What if you kill someone? These are serious offenses because they are directly tied to God. Here are a few examples from Scripture that connect offenses against people to sinning against God Himself:

"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind."
Genesis 9:5-6

God relates murder directly to a sin against Himself because He made mankind and He made us in His image.

Jesus says in Matthew 25:41-45, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ "

This passage is, of course, very well known and popular amongst Christians. Our song "Least of These" was mostly inspired by this Scripture. Jesus blatantly says that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it for Him. We cannot treat poorly those who are created in God's image without God taking offense. People are valuable because they are made by God, belong to God, and bear God's own image.

And so we find that the worth of a soul comes from the One who makes it.