Thursday, November 12, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009



Day One: Low Ropes
The day started off freezing outside, and since we were to be outside from 8am-5pm I was hoping it would be a little warmer instead of snowing in May. But I made it through and it was an overall good day despite it not getting hotter than fifty degrees. Out of the eleven other people on my team I knew all but two really well. Most of the members came from either team ECHO or FERVENT, the team closest to ours. So I can’t help but love them already.
The day consisted of many various team building exercises to stretch us and grow us as a family. I believed we worked really well together and I have confidence in us as a team. There were a few stress levels reached and a few buttons pushed, but nothing we couldn’t overcome with encouragement, listening, and love. Honduras is going to be a great mission trip mostly because of the team we have.
That night we had a prayer meeting for Honduras and Germany. My host dad came and I got to pray with him for awhile which was really great because I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to see them before I left. I also got about twenty minutes in my schedule where I had time to call my mom and dad. It was great to hear their voices and tell them that I loved them a ton. Saying those words to them gave me a resounding peace about going to Honduras. Now if something were to happen I would feel rest in the knowledge I got to speak to them and remind them of how much I love them.

Day Two: The Trip
Going to bed at 1am in the WPC and waking up an hour and a half later to gather everyone together to head for the airport did not pose well for my attitude. Just getting off of the couch I was sleeping on was really tough. Then having to sit and wait for everyone for another forty five minutes was not pleasant for both me and the people around me. I feel bad for not being willing to talk but it felt like having a conversation would be pointless. I had no problem keeping a positive attitude I just had no desire to talk to anyone. It did help that most everyone was too tired to hold a conversation for very long.
As soon as we prayed and loaded on the vans, all twenty four of us, my head attempted restlessly to find a spot to relax. That spot after many failed attempts and I managed to get another hour of sleep on the way to Denver. After arriving at Denver International Airport my brain went into a sleep deprived overdrive, it felt like a super powered auto-pilot. I no longer felt tired or dreary. Getting to the airplane was a surreal experience considering I’ve never flown. From the baggage check to having to take my shoes off and getting stopped for having water in my water bottle to riding a train through the airport, everything was quite interesting. Fast forward three hours and it’s time to board the plane. I started off sitting in an aisle seat but Nick graciously gave up his window seat so I could watch us take off and fly. Surprisingly I was very calm for it being my first flight. I loved it a ton, especially the moment where the wheels of the plane leave the ground and you feel weightless. Then the ascent is a lot of fun because you get to watch everything get smaller and smaller. Plus I found out land really does just look like squares.
We had a four hour layover in Miami so some guys and I walked around joking about how everything is so overpriced. Since we had a layover I got to experience two plane rides in one trip which was just awesome. The clouds were amazing and looked like they were sitting on the land. I sat and stared at them for quite some time. The earth itself seemed so peaceful and content with being itself. It was a feeling I’m really grateful I got to experience.
Once we landing in San Pedro Sula, Honduras we had to go through a series of tests to make sure we didn’t have swine flu. Along with this we had a few girls who were feeling bad and had a fever. One of the tests was a temperature gauge and it was all God that we got past every checkpoint with no hassle. Without hesitation we grabbed our bags and got outside quick. The humidity was wonderful and reminded me a lot of Iowa. The kind of humidity where you begin sweating as soon as you step outside, the kind where you can taste the water in the air. It was wonderful.
When our bus arrived we helped load all our bags onto a large rack on top of the bus. He then strategically tied them all down and jumped into the driver’s seat. Our contact’s son, Michael, joined us for the two hour drive to La Ceiba while his father, Jeff, would be driving ahead of us. I sat up front right behind Michael so I could ask him a lot of questions about Honduras. He definitely knew a lot and was very wise for a thirteen year old. I asked about the people, bugs, climate, and all sorts of other stuff and he had an answer for everything. Michael quickly became my go-to-guy for most everything, plus he was a blast to hang out with. The bus ride itself was far from pleasant. There was little room and I kept dozing off and waking up with a really sore neck. So for the last hour I became more and more frustrated with everything. I attempted to stay awake but that only cause me to become grumpier. Apparently we passed large stretches where fields of bananas and pineapples grew by the hundreds. But the smell that stuck out the most was the fields of marijuana; the smell of burning marijuana is quite distinct and quite potent.
Once we got to the house I passed out as soon as possible.

Day Three: Relax
This was the day where we got to break ourselves into the climate and atmosphere of Honduras. Since we were all coming from Colorado there were drastic changes such as; the elevation dropped a mile or so to where we were sea level; and the humidity rose from a very low percentage to a percentage where it felt like we were swimming while walking. Many of us needed a day to acclimate so we wouldn’t pass out on the mission field, that wouldn’t be very fun at all.
After getting up and having breakfast, Jeff gathered us around for a welcome/information meeting. He told us about how his father was a missionary in Honduras all his life. That’s how Jeff fell in love with the Hondurans. His wife’s parents were also Honduran missionaries and that’s how they met and fell in love. Recently, Jeff’s parents died and he decided they would take over for his dad. Then he told us about Honduran culture and how God led him up a seemingly desolate mountain only to find a small community of very poor people in need of help. Somehow he convinced the government to help out a little and they built a dirt road for him up the mountain. This would be the place we were to spend the majority of our time. Jeff told us his vision, how we could help, what we are to do for the time we were there, and his main focus and goals for the trip.
After the meeting he asked for some volunteers to help him out. He needed to go into downtown to pick up stuff for care packages and exchange our money into lempiras, the Honduran currency. Immediately I raised my hand so I could go. Not only was it a great opportunity to talk with him and his family more but it gave me a chance to see what a normal day in downtown La Ceiba looked like and how the people interacted. Four of us plus Michael jumped into the bed of his truck, which is legal in Honduras, and headed out. I quickly found out that pretty much every vehicle including mopeds, bikes of any style, four-wheelers, and even horses were street legal. It was very interesting to see such a wide array of transportation. Once we got in downtown I saw the setup and the traffic. All the shops are connected together, the only reason they split at any point is because of a street being between them. Outside of each shop is a cop or security guard of some sort carrying a shotgun locked and loaded. (Made me never want to steal in Honduras). Along with shops there were many people walking around with cart loads of either fruit or bootleg DVD’s, one fella was selling hammocks and another was attempting us into buying a “ruby and sapphire studded in silver” earring. Needless to say the “silver” was rusted and the “gems” plastic so we didn’t buy, too bad. We headed around to a few different shops that looked like small garages and bough rice and beans for the care packages. Then, after walking/driving around a little we headed back to our house on the beach along with a school bus to carry us all around in.
Unloading the hundred-pound packages of rice and beans wasn’t as bad as it would seem. As soon as the bus was clear Jeff made the announcement that we would be heading to the river to swim. So we all rushed to our rooms and changed into our swimsuits and rushed back to the bus. When we arrived it didn’t look like a river, it looked like a farm because of all the chickens, a single house, and a lot of flat ground. It cost ten lempiras to get in which is a little over fifty cents. After paying we walked to a trail way out back and began to climb a mountain. Five hundred yards came and went before I saw the river, but it wasn’t like I had pictured it. When I hear river I think a streamline flowing river. Well this river was complete with four waterfalls and five large bowls of water, each descending down the mountain on after the other. Some others and I decided to climb to the top waterfall and hang out up there. Proceeding up the ledges around the waterfalls was no easy task, I had to turn around many times and help girls up a slippery spot. It was quite fun though. When we reached the top bowl we measured the depth of the water. Perfect depth for jumping off a rock cliff nearby, not too big (about four feet), just enough to get the adrenaline pumping before you hit the water. We spent the next hour or so jumping, taking pictures, and hanging out in these natural pools. All of us were having a great time, it was totally worth the ten lempiras it cost to get in. it was crystal clear and beautiful. Afterwards we each got a trash bag to fill up since Honduras is very unkempt when it comes to trash. Let’s just say almost all twenty four of us came back with a pretty full trash bag.
Once we got home we showered and began making the care packages for the next day. Inside each one was; a ball, a bag of rice, a bag of beans, vitamins, toothpaste, toothbrush, medicines, a toy, a soccer ball, a Bible, and some other stuff that I can’t remember like cooking stuff. We made at least fifty packages placed in large plastic bowls they could use in their homes. The care package itself was not the main idea, the idea wasn’t to even share the gospel with them, and the main idea was to love on them so much that it would build trust so they would be open to hearing the gospel from Jeff who could communicate it in a much better way. So each group got five packages to give to five houses.

Day Four: Care Packages and Church
We made our way around playing with the kids and talking with the families about whatever came to mind, never spending less than forty five minutes at each house. The day we delivered the care packages was by no means a beautiful day. From the moment I woke up until after dinner mother nature decided to rain down on us as much as possible. Even with a raincoat I was drenched the entire day. Making our way around in the mud and rain was brutal. Mostly because the houses we were to visit we reached by trekking down steep hills which were very dangerous due to the rushing water, mud slides, and care packages we had to carry. We managed through it all but my rain coat became a nice clay/mud color. All the houses we visited were very nice and loved talking to us about whatever for however long. The rain also turned out to be an amazing ministry opportunity. The Hondurans have a superstition that being in the rain brings illness. It’s got some credibility to it considering they have no way to warm up after coming in out of the rain. So going around from house to house in the pouring rain showed them how much more we cared about them other than our own health. A few of them called us crazy but most of them loved us and honored us even more than they would have.
Side note: every house we saw had both a dog and some chickens.
Rewinding back to breakfast that day and the delicious food. I, being the food and water person on our team, got to cut fruit for breakfast while a couple people cooked pancakes. I immediately went for the pineapple for obvious reasons; let’s just say about ten percent of the pineapple slices never made it away from my mouth. And the rest of it went quick, there is nothing like fresh cut pineapple.
That night we went to a prayer meeting at the church Jeff attends. Let me tell you how fun this was. These people are very spiritual and very diligent in their prayers. They start out with about forty five minutes of worship which was very involving of everyone, that is everyone knew the sweet beats with clapping their hands. Their clapping was nothing like the services I’ve been too, they had neat beats and all the songs were generally upbeat, especially for being generally an older crowd. Once the worship ended a woman joined the worship leader on stage. This lady was nothing short of intense. Yelling and shouting in talking to us and in her prayers. While the pastor of the church walked around praying for people who were getting slain in the Spirit. All of the praying and yelling was in Spanish so I could only pick out certain words but that didn’t matter, I was still getting goose bumps and feeling all the emotions surging through that room. Then they had us, the gringos (white people), line up in the front and they all walked by and prayed for us while laying hands. It was very very powerful. I would realize later on how much of an impact it actually had.
Afterwards I talked with a couple of guys on the bus ride home. Despite the language barrier we talked and laughed about all sorts of things. I realized how much broken Spanish and body language can communicate. One of the guys actually had a hat that said Iowa on it so it gave me an ice breaker.

Day Five: The Latrines
This was the start of our manual labor days. This was what I was looking forward to for so long, I thoroughly enjoy manual labor ministry. It gave us a chance to show them how a Christian is different from a typical American. What they see on tv is self-centered, egotistical, uncaring brats that only look to be served. When we come in and dig ten foot deep holes under the hot sun so they may have something to poop into, they see that service. I could see in their eyes how much of an impact it was making on them. Honestly, they could have done it themselves without our help, they really didn’t need us. But for us to make ourselves servants and “wash their feet,” placing ourselves lower than those in poverty showed them the love we have for them. It also showed them the love of Christ even if they don’t quite know it yet.
My shoes, still soaked from the day before, never seemed to dry at all the whole day, but that didn’t slow me down. As soon as we got there we split up into our four teams and headed to our digging spots. Our team grabbed three shovels, a mattock (which is like a pick ax), and a side trimmer, filled up our water bottles and started on our four foot by three foot by ten foot hole. The first three feet were very easy to handle with two shovels going at it. It took about an hour to get those feet done. But once hat was finished we could only fit one shovel since the person had to start going into the hole to shovel stuff out.
The lady whose house we were building for was so kind and caring to us. Her husband had died about ten years ago and she was raising six children, a couple of which have children of their own. She was so happy we were doing this for her that she took the day off work to hang out with us while we dug. Also, she was always making sure we felt good. Whatever we needed for the job she seemed to have. Gloves to prevent blisters, a bucket to haul dirt out of the hole with, and she carried around a machette which she cut the grass around the hole with and would cut the handles of our shovels and picks so they would fit in the hole. She offered what she could for help but we didn’t make her go in the hole. Just her company was enough to make us work harder. I very much enjoyed talking to her, or at least attempting to communicate, during my breaks. I didn’t get much time being one of the two guys in the group; I was usually digging, picking, or pulling the bucket full of dirt out of the hole. So when I did get time I made the most of it. She had a granddaughter that shyly came up to join us. This little girl named Carla-Isabelle was one of the cutest little girls. She and Jana hit it off really quickly after a couple minutes of Jana trying to get her to open up. But once she did you would have thought Jana had known the girl all her life. It was so fun to watch the motherly spirit in Jana.
Throughout the day we dug the cleanest and deepest hole, only six inches from ten feet. The last foot was the hardest part. Already having three blisters form and break with more on the way my hands weren’t feeling the best. But every time I got down in that hole I didn’t feel the pain, not sure why. The heat was still brutal however. Tyler and I dug the last six inches of the day in ten minutes. He dug three then I jumped down and dug three more. We didn’t have much time so we both just went at it with what strength we had left, which wasn’t much. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do considering the hole was like 110 degrees and we were fatigued with little water. It would have stunk to pull someone out of a ten foot hole. But we are safe and we only left four to six inches for tomorrow’s team, while all the other groups left nothing short of three feet. Our team felt pretty good after figuring that out.
I went back to the compound tired, with five blisters that dad come and broke open, and satisfied with the day’s work. After taking the thirty second shower I was allotted I put on my most comfortable clothes and plopped down in the closest hammock. Once situated I sunk into this pseudo-inebriated state from how tired I was, which made that hammock the most comfortable hammock that ever existed. It was wonderful. The only time I got up out of the hammock was when dinner came and I was even reluctant to get up then. I just felt like I could fall asleep for days. It was glorious!

Day Six: Mo’ Diggin’
The day started out normal with getting up and me making breakfast for everyone. But then it turns out only half of us were there. The rest had left extra early to go somewhere that I would find out later. So Tyler and I made the thickest pancakes I had ever seen and they were delicious. Those pancakes we made became the topic of discussion and song that morning. Then we packed up and headed to the mountain.
Our main goal was to finish the latrines so we could start pouring concrete the next day. So Aaron and I, the only two guys in the group that could work, busted our tails off digging through five or six feet of hard clay. Making sure we were getting water consistently since we were losing it through sweat and work very rapidly. I probably lost a gallon or two of water and drank a gallon and a half of water at least. I drank a half a nalgene (that’s sixteen ounces) every time I emerged from the hole. We allowed the girls to dig every once in awhile, I was not about to discount their experience and make them site there the whole time. Also, every once in awhile, men from the village would check on us and help us out. One in particular had Nick hold his gun for him while he dug, that was awkward. After many trips into the hole by ladder, pulling up a bucket tied to a string and filled with dirt, ripping up my bandana and wrapping it around my hands to help my blisters, and drinking more water than I ever have before, we were finished with that hole.
Walking to the next hole that my group worked on the day before and only had a few inches left to dig; Aaron became extremely fatigued to the point of not being able to walk anymore. The girls began to take care of him, giving him water and fanning wind towards him. I felt well enough to continue on, but first I ran and got some water for Aaron and anyone else who needed it. Then we slowly brought Aaron up the hill to Tyler’s group who was closer to the mountain’s entrance. After setting him down and making sure he had everything he needed, we set of to our next destination.
We were all exhausted but our mindset was to get the holes done for tomorrow. I, being the only one able to dig anymore, jumped down to dig the last inches. As soon as the first strike of the mattock hit the dirt I felt my weariness hit hard. But my mindset was “get it done, get it done,” so I swung even harder hoping I would just get through it. It was no more than two inches dug when my vision started blurring and I began to feel very heavy. The girls easily noticed it so they knew they had to get me out of the hole. They told me to stop and as soon as my mind registered their word I realized how legalistic and task-oriented I was behaving. I stopped, handed up the shovel, and climbed out of the hole with very little energy to show for it. If it wasn’t for them I could have easily passed out in that hole. I owe them a lot and am thankful they were there to talk some sense into me. Jeff, our contact, looked at all the holes and gave the “ok” to start on the cement work tomorrow. We all went home very weary that day and in need of much rest.
That night was our biggest struggle of the whole trip. The people sick were getting sicker and the amount of people sick would not stop growing. We had to all wear facemasks because of it, which was very annoying. But this night would not be a physical struggle; it was to be a large emotional struggle for everyone. Ben, our leader, gathered us all together, sat us down, and explained what the next few days were to look like. The two girls that had been sick since the beginning were going home a 12:30am the next morning. Before telling the rest of us about what we would be doing, Ben took a time and recapped what we had done so far that week with great detail and good insight. Then he told us that everyone that was sick would be going home the next day as well along with some who weren’t sick. He then divided the remaining people, myself included, into two groups which would be heading home the next day and the day after. Which means we were all to go home five days prior to our scheduled departure because the executive staff at New Life Church had made a decision to bring all of us home for safety reasons. It was a major disappointment but we all knew it was the right thing to do. It was easy to see the facemasks becoming soaked with tears.
Since we were leaving Ben Johnson gave Nick about 500 lempiras to buy pop and snacks so we could have a party. We walked down to the small shop down the street with a group of us to pick out whatever we wanted. The girl in the shop spoke very little English but it was just enough to where she understood our very broken Spanish. We bought out a lot of their stuff, especially their pop. Spending no more than fifteen dollars we bough enough food to feed twenty people ready to party. It was fantastic. We played in the ocean, I played my guitar, and then we just sat and talked about stuff for awhile.
It was then that I found out what the others had done that day while my group was hard at work. They went to a tourist island and their day was filled with snorkeling, boating, swimming, among other fun stuff. Also, my group wouldn’t get the chance to go since we were leaving early and the best course of action would be to work our butts off until we had to leave. So it was a bummer but I would much rather work in the time we had left, so I trusted Ben.
(It is taking way too much time to write out everything so I’m going to shorten it significantly)

Day Seven: Cement
Waking up with a surprising amount of energy we started on breakfast, making our thick “mancakes” with eggs on the side. I also made “manwhiches” for lunch which I will explain later. Despite half of us gone the morning was not gloomy because we all weren’t about to let our emotions stop us from making the most out of this opportunity. We were ready for the day, whatever it might bring. This was the hardest and most rewarding day or them all. We arrive and us men, the four left, began to work on the first project.
We chopped stairs in the side of the hill for easier access to the top. Then they brought the concrete and rebar to reinforce the concrete. I worked with the rebar first, then I carried five gallon buckets full of concrete up the hill. After a couple hours the first job was finished with the help of a few locals.
We moved on to the next three places and had to carry the dirt even further than before. This was easily the most strenuous day. But much to our contact’s surprise we finished it all. He was sure it would take two and a half days at least to do all that. And here we are with half the people getting it done in one day, which is a miracle.
Because of the horrible heat and tough manual labor we were required to take a water break every five minutes. For lunch we ate the pb&j’s I made with about an inch of peanut butter and half an inch of jelly, yum! (and messy) Then they treated us to Baskin Robbins ice cream which was delicious and welcomed.
Before we knew it we were done, I think our muscles knew it pretty well though. We headed back to the compound to relax and chill after all that work. It was definitely a good day to end on.
That night we walked around downtown and I bought a ring for a dollar, a wristband for four dollars, and a sweet hammock for ten dollars. It was a blast seeing all the different sorts of people and shops.

Day Eight: Coming Home
I wrapped up five bottles of pop to take back to the states, first each went in a piece of clothing, then a sack was around them, then a garbage bag, then another garbage bag. If they were going to break because of the pressure they sure weren’t going to go far.
The plane ride was short and sweet and I sat next to a man who used to own a cruise ship. A man from New Life met us and gave us his credit card to get dinner. Then we went and stayed at the Marriott Hotel, which was probably the most expensive place I’ve ever stayed. Although I was there for no more than six hours because I was leaving extra early with Pastor Rionne all by myself. And I slept in my silk sheet on the ground because it seemed more comfortable than the ground after sleeping in it for a week.

Day Nine: First Class
That’s right; I rode first class the rest of the way home. Because Pastor Rionne flies over 100,000 miles every year they upgrade everything for free. So I got to enjoy the Admiral’s Club which is this fancy place in the airport with free coffee and food and computers with comfy seats and sofas everywhere. And a full service bar but I wasn’t allowed to get anything.
First class was a totally different experience than coach. The hostess gave me two options for breakfast and I didn’t know what to say so I said “yes” and she had to repeat the question. In first class they give you breakfast, lunch, and dinner, anything you want to drink (including wine), and are constantly making sure you have everything you could want. It made me feel bad for the coach passengers.
Before I knew it I was home.

Random: Randomness
The kids were so fun and always wanted to play or just hang out regardless of whether we could communicate or not. They were always joyful and so content with what they had. A few of them were always around me and I loved it.
It was so amazing to gaze upon the beauty of the ocean with its unrelenting waves and beautiful sunsets. Then turning around you see the majesty of the mountains lush with foliage.
The bugs were large and in multitudes. The fruit was fresh and the best tasting I’ve ever had. The geckos were a blessing since they ate all the bugs and were quick little suckers. The food cooked for us was legit. The lady cooking had her own recipes and special ingredients.
Houses all over were surrounded by barbed and razor wire, including churches and schools. Every house seemed to have a dog as well. I had loads of cuts and scrapes all over my body. Peroxide really hurts with that many cuts. I carried a few girls that were tired or had injuries.

I touched the ocean for the first time in my life on May 19th, 2009 at 6:32pm.

And for the grand finale….

Miracle: God’s Perfect Timing

We arrived back home on Sunday the 24th of May with everyone safe. If we would have stayed we would have left on the 27th, that Wednesday. Those who were sick were slowly getting better and eventually feeling perfectly fine. One girl, however, felt worse and went in to check it out. Turns out she either had her appendix burst or she had an ovarian cyst, either way she needed immediate surgery which happened on Tuesday the 26th.
The Wednesday during God time Ben Johnson got up in front of all of us and told us a sad yet God-praising story about La Ceiba, the town we were staying in. At 2am that morning there was a 7.1 earthquake in La Ceiba, Honduras. At 5am that morning there was a 5.0 aftershock. Everything was shaking around the area.
(Let me, for a moment; write as if I had been there)
I woke up to the walls shaking, dishes breaking, and everyone looking around trying to figure out what’s going on. After it stopped I couldn’t get back to sleep, a few of the guys and I sat and talked about what we thought might be going on. I lay back down around 4am and was just falling asleep when the wall began shaking violently again. After everything stopped shaking a friend and I rushed to where the women were staying to make sure everyone was fine, we checked and everyone was safe. Ben gathered everyone and explained to us about the earthquake and aftershock. Afterwards we packed up our bags and loaded on the bus to head to San Pedro Sula, where the airport was. There is only one bridge in San Pedro Sula with a large river underneath. About two miles from the bridge the dead traffic began. Absolutely no movement at all. It wasn’t too long before we found out the cause of the traffic. A passerby explained how the earthquake demolished the bridge, our only passage to the airport. Sad day. Any thoughts of trying to cross the river on foot were quickly usurped by the high and strong current. So all we had left to do was drive back to the compound and wait for either a temporary bridge to be put up or for New Life to find an alternate route.
(Whew, that would have been tough. Back to reality and hindsight.)
Talking with missions pastors and staff I found that we would have been stuck there at least another week. Considering we had sick people getting sicker, healthy people getting sick, and a girl who needs immediate surgery, another week in Honduras with miniscule medical help would have been terrifying to the point of life threatening.
God pulled us out when He needed us out. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Alright, so I write this to share my wisdom and thoughts on the matters of dating/marriage/family. This is not intended to condemn or criticize at all; I hope all of my words will be uplifting and encouraging whether or not you feel it's right or wrong. Also, this is simply my council to you on relationships so you can decide to take it and apply it or not. Council is very good; it allows you to hear an outside perspective of the situation. These are my opinions and it's your choice I just ask that you meditate on them and seek God to see if it fits into your life. This is all stuff I will have to deal with and in explaining my views to you it ingrains it deeper into my heart so I love this. I've gathered these thoughts through my own experience, DLA, and Aaron Stern. With that being said lets begin.

Genesis 1 "In the beginning God"
God had a relationship with man before He ever introduced woman into the world. Therefore God needs to be first in our life. God is number one always, no substitutes or excuses. He first loved us so it is a requirement that we first love Him with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Because we need to first love God with everything we need to be intimately acquainted with God before we enter into any sort of relationship. There is a wife for you but, and this is a big but, she can only go as far as being your number two. Placing your wife above God is idolatry and sin, placing your family above God is idolatry and sin. So you need to continually be giving your relationship to God and His will.

Don't ever try to "fit" God into your relationship, and let me explain this a little. God is simply perfect, cannot be contained, and rules over us mightily. In fitting Him into a relationship we are limiting Him and His power. Instead of working Him in where it suits you, bend your relationship around Him. Ask Him questions about the relationship, pray together, and obey what God commands. It's easy to put God as a sort of powerful spectator that simply oversees what's going on and you ask help when you feel it is needed. This is not what God desires, He does not want a backseat view of the show. God is the show! Ask Him for what you desire in the relationship, seek His will before your own, and knock on His door so that the right path may be opened for you.

Seeking God's will can be tough for some of us because it's not always what we want to hear. We fear that He might tell us to do something we don't want to do. This is the fear of someone who does not know God as well as they should before entering a relationship with someone. God's plans are so much more life-giving, teaching, and overall good for us than anything we can try to do on our own. If He says to leave a relationship behind it only means He has one that is so much better for you.

A man who knows God has no fear of rejection from a girl for two main reasons. His relationship with his Creator is so much greater, and it only means that God has something better in store for him. No relationship matters as much as our relationship with our true love that is Christ Jesus.
We are designed by God and made in His image, He will never reject us and that is all that we truly need. You are desired by God and our worth comes from Him, not earthly relationships.

However, God decided in the second chapter of Genesis that man alone is bad. The second chapter! So He graciously gave us woman to live life with us. Which is awesome. But there needs to be some stuff done before we begin to live our life with a woman. In the words of Aaron Stern, "When a man, with God, orders his life, then he is ready for GOD to bring a woman into his life." Having no order and a multitude of problems is disastrous for relationships. Relationships and marriage do not solve your individual problems, they amplify them and you just brought someone else all your problems to deal with.

Here's how I see this situation. Think of it as if you and a girl were hiking a mountain, you have 50 pounds in your backpack, and she has 30 pounds in her pack. (These pounds are burdens you both carry). If you take some or all of her burdens, you will tire out very quickly and lose pace or even worse, backslide. If you share each other’s burdens you are making her carry more unnecessarily. (40 pounds instead of 30). But if you both come with 5-10 pounds of baggage than you have a greater capacity to carry more burdens that come with marriage and you will both be able to run together to the top of the mountain. Does that make sense? I kind of just made it up. Also, I'm not saying you both have to be perfect, just know that marriage does not solve your individual problems and will only cause more problems to arise. So come into a relationship with as little burdens as possible so that you are equipped to carry the ones that come with the relationship.

God created family before He created the church. If family collapses then history fails.

Now for some statistics that Aaron Stern showed me. First off, we can't say heterosexual marriage is the way to go in this society because Christian marriages are failing just as much. Also, the pain of staying single longer is much less than the pain that comes with a failed or dysfunctional marriage, i.e. rejection, hurt, absence, etc. I think all of this happens because we enter into marriage unprepared and unwise of our situations. Especially since culture says it's right to live with the person before you are married to see if you can live together. Dumb dumb dumb! All this does is allow the man to be lustful and sin while the woman justifies it because she gets to play "house" for a time. "Trust me girls and guys, the pieces fit, you don't need to try them out beforehand." I'm getting angry just thinking about it. But on to the statistics...

80% that live together first without marriage vows fail in their marriage
60% of marriages by the justice of the peace (courthouse marriage) fail
40% that are married in a church separate from each other
1/1050 marriage couples that read the bible together daily get divorced (I love this one!)

Now onto some dating thoughts.

People all around the world go to television and internet, and sometimes books, for keys to dating and getting a good catch. But honestly it's not that easy at all. It's simple, but not easy. It's about applying Jesus to our everyday life. If Jesus is in it than how can we fail? And He knows how hard it is to be single, He feels our pain. Plus, He has been waiting for His bride for 2,000 years or so. That makes our complaints on waiting seem insignificant. Just keep Jesus in it so that you don't have to worry or be burdened with the problems of tomorrow.

By the way, I remember talking to you and you telling me about a conversation you and Justin had about Christ and why He never married. He already has a bride, the church, and marriage is just His way of showing us how He wants our relationship with Him to be. It explains something eternal in the natural. He is so brilliant!

Here is a bunch of random thoughts thrown together about dating/courting.

1 Samuel 16:7 "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

That is pretty self-explainatory. Seek out their heart and strive to see what God sees in them. The box the toy comes in might look sweet but when the toy breaks in two days you realize that it might not have been the best toy to buy. Beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive but the heart is true. It's extremely common for everyone to see the attractiveness and surface emotions and decide that they love the person. Thinking the person is attractive and thinking that giving kisses and hugs out of a desire for love is wrong. Love and beauty are deep in someone's heart. It will take longer than a few months to understand their heart and decide whether or not there are feelings of love. Think about it like this, they took 18 or more years developing their heart and emotions. What makes us think we can find their true emotions and love them in a short period of time? Now we don't have to understand someone fully before deciding to marry them, that would take way too long. But it is good to know as much as possible before commiting to the second longest relationship of our life, the first being with Christ of course.

As I have said before, true love is not about being willing to die for someone, it's about being willing to live for them. Not live with them, but for them, commiting our lives and actions to them so that they can have a better life. God's idea of marriage is ALL about serving the other person. Is a daily laying down of your own wants, desires, and needs to fulfill their's. Are you willing to daily give up food, to daily give up money, to daily give up feeling you're views and ideas? So that she might be able to live with joy. It's sacrifice at its purest. I'm not saying to submit yourselves to their every becon call both good and bad, but you need to sit down, talk it out, and sacrifice your comfort if necessary. Never force your views and ideas on her. She is to submit herself to you but that in no way constitutes a tyranic household. Work through it together and don't get angry if she doesn't accept your way on certain situations. I like 1 Corinthians 13 but I don't think we should base whether or not we love someone as a wife based on only this passage. It is very true but this love can be experienced among friends, family, spouses, and even us loving lost and sinful people. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote on the four types of love; romantic, friendship, protective, and family. Read his book if you want some in depth ideas on love. Marriage is the only relationship that incorporates all four loves in one. Most people feel romantic love and get married, bad. All four loves need to be present for the type of marriage God desires for us.
Love is not just a feeling, it is a heart commited to serve the other. Marriage is the fusion of all four loves. She is your best friend; she is one who you will protect above even your own self; she is one who you feel close enough that she feels like a sister; she is one who you see with a beauty second only to Jesus. It is much more in depth than that, but that is something you will have to experience for yourself and pray desperately to God for wisdom in that area.

Now here is a list from Aaron Stern of what to look for in someone and what to strive for in yourself. It more of deciding whether or not they have the ability to become a good wife. They don't have to be perfect, they just need to have a heart to grow. No one starts out as a wife, it takes growth and work. It's to see if they have the seeds to grow into a good wife. I've put it in a sweet bullet point form for ya.

Girls (What guys should be looking for in a woman)
Look to see how she talks to others, it will most likely indicate how she will talk to you
One of the primary ways a girl brings joy to her husband is the way she talks about him and to him.
Guys don't care as much about every else's words, his wife's words are the strongest and deepest. Proverbs 12:18
If the world is for him and his wife against him then he withers, if the world is against him and his wife is for him then he is strengthened.
He will dream bigger dreams and take bigger steps, but without a confident wife a man will be discouraged.
Is she industrious? Or does she always want someone else taking care of her?
What does she spend her time on???
Is she willing to not look good to make sure someone else gets taken care of?
What is her countenance when things go wrong?
What place do emotions play in a girls life?
Do they take front and center stage for everyone to see and let their emotions get to them?
What happens when she doesn't get her way? Is she clothed with strength and dignity?
It doesn't mean you have to hide your emotions just walk in strength.
When things don't go right emotions will distract you and lead us down the wrong path, GOD's truth and wisdom will guide us. Can she rely on GOD in the hard times?
Does she walk with wisdom?
It's not, does she get upset, it's, does she handle it well?
Does she fall into the land of wisdom or the land of chaos?
How does she spend her time?
Is it about looks? Or developing deeper things?
INWARD beauty is the most most most important.
Keeping yourself looking decent is good, but working on the inward is best.
What does her relationship with GOD look like??? (probably most important)
Does she love GOD more than she loves you?
I am going to dissapoint my wife in many ways and screw up, and she is going to dissapoint me in ways.
If she loves GOD more than she loves me than she is anchored to someone who will not dissapoint her. It is important that we are anchored to GOD because our mess ups will shake each others worlds.
I need a girl that loves God more than she loves me.
Watch what entertains her.
Is she watching things that aren't very pleasing to the Holy Spirit?
Does it break her heart to break the heart of GOD?
What is her reaction to crudeness and trash?

Guys (What girls should be looking for in a man)
Does he fast?
Men hate fasting, but it allows us to persevere through things we don't want to do. Not just fasting food. If we do things we hate we will be able to do anything. 1 Peter 4:1
Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character.
"I hate this but I love God and my wife more."
Is he pushing physical boundaries?
There should be no hint of sexual immorality
It's an indicator of selfishness
His desires for sexual pleasure should be killed before dating so that they don't affect the relationship.
The girl is worth dying for!!!
Is he willing to kill the desires inside for the girl worth dying for?
Emotions and desires will cloud your vision, and you need vision to make sure whether or not you are going to marry them.
Never allow a guy to treat you badly!
Does he make fun of marriage, sex, or divorce?
Even sarcastically he should never joke about it.
Marriage must be taken seriously.
Is there congruence between his words, actions, and feelings?
Does he treat you the way he says you are?
Judge by the fruit and not the words
Words can be empty, actions can be false, and feelings can be lied about.
Look at the fruit. Especially prior to marriage.
Does he love God more than his wife?
If he is pleasing God, he will please his wife also through it.
What kind of friends does he have?
Make sure he confesses and he has intimate friendships.
He must confess his sins before his intimate friends to be healed.
Bad company corrupts good character.
Does he have goals? Is he a dreamer?
Goals for life
No goals, no wife. No job, no girlfriend.
If he can't support and take care of himself, he can't take care of a girl or wife.

Number One priority for both. They NEED to love GOD!!!!
To marry a woman of God you need to be a man of God.

As much as possible incorporate parents, on both sides, into the relationship. You should have the father's blessing before entering into a relationship with their daughter, even if the father is hesitant. This can be very very tough sometimes but waiting for the father's approval shows a girl how willing you are to wait for her. It really gives her a sense of acceptance and being desired. If the father is completely horrible, like completely, than seek out the blessing of a male spiritual mentor in her life. I believe that everyone needs a spiritual mentor, whether it be a pastor or someone that is older and focused on their spiritual growth, especially if there is an absence of parents or if the parents aren't Christians. Seek the blessing of the father before courting her, and even a ton more so before asking her hand in marriage. Do not neglect the father! If you don't receive his blessing sit down with him sometime in private and ask him why, or what you can do to receive his blessing. If you exclude the father from the blessing you deny his authority that God, Himself placed over her. Only in extreme situations should you deny the father his authority over his daughter and his daughter's life. She is his until she weds you, then she is all yours, but until then keep the father a part of the relationship. Always talk with her and your parents, keeping them up-to-date on everything that's going on in the relationship. They have the right. Also, if your relationship is pure, there should be very very little that you keep from the parents. If you truly love someone you can wait, it just shows them how much you are willing to endure for them and that's more powerful than any present or words of affection.

Another thing is seek council from your peers and people outside of the relationship. Regardless of whether you think it or not, your eyes are clouded when you enter a relationship and you can't see what others see. Seek out council, I can't stress this enough. Do Not seek approval from your peers! Do Not seek approval from your peers, you don't need it. Seek council from them and the approval will come naturally if what they see is pure. Ask what they see, if you're being dumb in areas, if you need to take it slower, etc. Ask them for their wisdom and insight but do not ask them what there favorite thing about her is. That is seeking approval and only wanting to hear the good parts of the relationship. An unclouded and outside view of your relationship will give you knowledge and understanding of stuff you didn't know was happening. It is extremely wise to seek council all throughout the relationship. It doesn't mean you have to obey the council, just take it to hear and ask God for discernment.

Set boundaries so that when you break them you don't fall into sin. Don't set a boundary that's says, "We won't have sex." Because you will inevitably push it to that point and possibly fall over into sexual immorality. Or worse, falling into sexual immorality but justifying as "not being sex." Set a boundary like, "We won't kiss until marriage." That way while you push as close to the line as possible, inevitably, and if you accidentally break the boundary you can stop, back up, and still be far from sin. Communicate these boundaries with each other and decide what's best for the relationship together. Set goals for the relationship so it will grow, and set strong boundaries so that the relationship will last. A woman is always worth waiting for physically, always. There is no need to test the parts, God made them so you can be sure everything fits together properly.

One thing I strongly strongly believe is this.
Your relationship is public until marriage, only then should there be privacy.
Everything you do with this person you should be able to do in front of both of your parents and your friends. Everything! You should be able to tell anyone what you did last night with her, what you talked about, how you were positioned,etc. You're never alone (i.e. GOD) so why act as if you are? There are times when you talk privately about stuff that shouldn't be told to everyone, but never let that be the main focus of your time together. Your time together is to see if you are compatible. It's research to see whether or not you want to invest your life savings in them.
Your relationship is public until marriage, only then should there be privacy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Vision and Me

The vision?
The vision is JESUS -- obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army.
And they are FREE from materialism.
They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn't even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.
They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They
need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder
at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and
adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to
reach for the starts. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is
dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers
choose to lose
that they might one day win
the great "Well done" of faithful sons and daughters.
Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don't need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards
and hear the crowds chanting again and again: "COME ON!"
And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is scheming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing...
This is the sound of the underground
And the army is discipl(in)ed.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts "For me to live is Christ and to die
is gain."
Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
Who can stop them?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them?
And the generation prays
like a dying man
with groans beyond talking,
with warrior cries, sulfuric tears and
with great barrow loads of laughter!
Waiting. Watching: 24-7-365.
Whatever it takes they will give:
Breaking the rules.
Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide.
Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,
laughing at labels, fasting essentials.
The advertisers cannot mold them.
Hollywood cannot hold them.
Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties
before the cockerel cries.
They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.
On the outside? They hardly care.
They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but
never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives --swap seats with the man on
death row--guilty as hell.
A throne for an electric chair.
With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruit-
less days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all
depends on them.
Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)
Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.
Don't you hear them coming?
Herald the weirdos!
Summon the losers and the freaks.
Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.
They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are
dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient
dream of Eden.
And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it
will come soon.
How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the
groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God.
My tomorrow is his today.
My distant hope is his 3-D.
And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous,
resounding, bone-shaking great "Amen!" from countless angels, from
heroes of the faith, from Christ himself. And He is the original
dreamer, the ultimate winner.

I just thought this whole thing was pretty awesome and felt like sharing it with everyone I could. This was written by the man that started 24-7 prayer movements all around the world. I think it just shows us that our thoughts need to revolve around prayer for everything. Too many times we rely on our own strength and money, and most of us could prolly live life like this. But at what cost? We lose out on the love and gifts God wants to give us. In order to get them we must commit our ways to Him and by that we must ask Him what He wants us to do in every decision, with every paycheck, with every friend, with every day. Ask Him what He wants you to do and you will be surprised, be obedient and blessings will fall like rain on your life.

People can become so discouraged from prayer because of how they hear others pray, how elaborate some people make it. It causes them to think that they must not be praying right and they need the right words to pray. This is far from true, it is nice that some have been gifted in their wording but it is in no way a stronger prayer than yours. God will feel your heart when you pray to Him, that will speak louder to Him than any word ever could. His delight comes from you seeking out His advice and will, pressing into Him when you feel nothing, waiting on Him when it seems to take forever. I tell you that every second spent with Him is storing up your eternal treasures. Do not be discouraged, do not become disobedient, trust the LORD. Spend time daily with Him and bring to the table what you have. It will take work, it will be hard, but blessings will come and your life will prosper. Not to mention how great your treasures in Heaven are going to be.

Pray with what you got, sing with all you have, love with everything in your heart, and press in searching diligently for God's thought and seek an intimate relationship with Him. You will be amazed and awestruck at what you find. I promise.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Typical Day

I will run you through a typical day and tell you my thoughts on it.

Wake up and be at the gym by 7 for workout.
The workouts are killer, I didn't know pain until I came here! It's so brutal but it really is showing me that my limits physically are much farther than I thought. They always focus the workouts around GOD and this generation which is really cool. Basically we do daily what most people won't, to do tomorrow what most people can't. I love how I feel afterwards but I feel like I'm going to die during it. I have never worked so hard in my life and that's honesty at its best. A few of us hiked the incline tuesday morning for fun without the rest of DLA. The incline is a mile of stairs straight up a mountain. And the stairs are brutal, the last half you are basically crawling up them because it gets so steep. A physically fit person will take more than a half hour to complete it. I stayed in the back and pushed people forward so I ended up at the top after 59 minutes. But I really think I could do better. But ya, workouts are very struggle-ful, but well worth it in the end. "We beat our bodies and make them our slaves."

Then we head to church for personal GOD time.
This is really fun. Light music is played in the background while we can do whatever we want. We can pray, read, worship, sit silently. I always pray, read a little, journal, then sit and focus as much as I can on JESUS and his personality. I really enjoy diving into silence and seeing what, if anything, GOD has to say or show me. I have gotten a lot of cool visions of his attributes and I keep forgetting to write them down but the point is engrained into my head. It's a great way to start off the day, keeps our focus in the right place.

Classes come next.
These are great and very informative yet casual. The classes we take don't ever make me think, "well when will I ever use that?" I had that happen a lot lot in high school but here it's all very practical and very heartfelt. My favorite class so far has been Aaron Stern teaching on Marriage/Famly/Dating. It's so cool to hear my thoughts put in to words and stuff I have always known but not known how to express explained clearly. I love learning about the impact of prayer and what it means to be a leader and different worldviews. I love it all.

Ministry tribes!
I'm a part of theMILL which is the college-age ministry here. It's such a blast and it's amazing to be a part of what goes on every friday. I get to help out around the office, help Aaron with his sermons, help with the short videos they make for fridays, and just make sure everything goes smoothly. They are so chill and funny there too, everyone is just so much fun to be around. Plus we get free stuff, but that's beside the point :P

Free time (quote-unquote)
We have it labeled as free time in our handbooks but there always seems to be something going on. Whether it be a speaker or something that we need to help with and get done. It's fine and I like helping out as much as possible, but I also really enjoy spending time with my host family and that free time is time to do what we need to around the house and be with them.

There is always something going on at nights that we get to help with. I love every second of getting to serve around the church. I get to hang out with junior/high school students on wednesdays, college kids on fridays, the adults on tuesday nights, and more throughout the week. It's so great getting to know different people from all over the church.

This program is designed to train leaders that will go anywhere, do anything, and pay any price to lead a generation in desperate pursuit of GOD. It's working very well, I can see leaders emerging all ready all over the place in DLA. They take you to your breaking point and are very real (they don't sugar coat stuff) and pour out their love into you. They get you focused on GOD and build you up in Him. It's working very well and I know this is where I am called to be. I'm part of an army that is storming the gates of hell, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's teaching me patience, perseverance, humility, and a ton more. I can't wait to look in the mirror at graduation and say, "This is just the beginning!

That's just a small bit on my day and I never know what to expect everyday I wake up. I'm suppose to be here and I know it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just A Tidbit About Prayer

I wanted to write a little bit about prayer and what I feel it means to pray and have a heart of prayer.

Just kind of a reference scripture is Luke 11:5-9
This scripture talks about a man that has a friend visit him in the night. The host wants to feed him but has no bread so he desperately asks his neighbor. Then it goes on to say ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.

This man is not prepared, but desperately seeking a need. In our prayers we do not have to be prepared with what we are going to say or pray about, we just need to call out to GOD and desperately ask what's on our hearts fervently.

GOD wants to hear the desperate ask anything of Him. The language you use is not important, the length of the prayer is not important. In fact in Matthew 6 it talks about not using vain repetitions. Also discipline is not important, and let me elaborate before you shun me from the church for teaching against discipline. I believe in discipline, but I don't think that is how true prayer begins in our hearts. It all starts with a desperate cry for help. It starts when we are broken, weak, needing, scared, sorrowful, and in our hardest times.
"Oh GOD! I failed, help me!"
"Oh GOD! The pain is too much, save me!"
"Oh GOD! Let me pass this test." "Oh GOD! Don't let my parents find out."

Prayer is just communicating to GOD. We have embraced our weakness and find we need GOD. The "strong" will strut and claim to know GOD while the weak will see miracles in their lives and the lives of others, and it's the weak that will seek and find GOD. You become stronger, the weaker you realize you are.

Start with what you can, it doesn't have to be a inauguration speech by any length. Just start with what's on your heart even if it's as simple as "Hi Dad, I love you." GOD delights when it comes straight from the heart. And He knows what is on your heart, so if you don't know how to express what you are feeling into words, He knows. Be open with GOD and he will embrace you and fill your heart. Start where you are at, "God I want a passion" "God I need a job" "God I'm scared for this person in my life"

David Perkins says that 99% of prayer is asking and 1% is the tingly feeling and miracles.

And remember remember remember 1 John 5: 14-15, He hears every single prayer, every single prayer. Even when you don't feel it or see it, He hears it and is acting on every prayer you pray.

"GOD you are awesome, I pray for a heart of prayer. I just simply come to you tonight and beg for your heart, your heart of worship, for the lost, for the sick, for the righteous, and mostly for your heart of prayer. Prayer is not something left to the holiest of us, but rather everyone, especially the worst of us. GOD work inside of us and manifest your life in us. I love you so much and I lay all of this at your throne."

I love you all,
Just A Fellow Saint

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The feelings of anticipation for CO and sorrow for leaving IA didn't seem to bounce back in forth in my head but rather co-exist in a way as to create a new sorropation emotion. Despite telling people that I was extremely excited for coming to DLA I didn't honestly know how I felt until I got out here and met the people. I know this is where I need to be and where God wants me to be. It's not a question of whether or not I should be here, but a question of how can I use this to glorify God. These next 8 months will be in full, complete, unwavering, unstoppable, unflinching, desperate dedication to God. I desire to know Him on the deepest level and my life must revolve around Him for it to be fruitful. My focus is Him alone and creating habits that will keep my life ignited for Jesus. Consistent and unconditional prayer, immersing myself in the scripture daily, worshiping the Savior with a enthusiastic and teachable heart, and simply disciplining my body.

For my life to be focused on Jesus I will need to solely rely on Him and give everything I have to Him. So understand that I will be limiting myself from extended communication with everyone that I love so much back in IA. It would be too easy to fall back and rely on my friends and not God. I must place him at the center and with Him at the center my life, my friends, my relationships, my wife, my kids, my everything, I will prosper for His glory.

It's funny but for this season of my life I desire to struggle. I long to be pushed to my limits emotionally, physically, and most of all spiritually. God must must must be my single source of peace and strength. And for that to happen, for me to fully and completely rely on God, I have to be pushed past the point where no one but God Himself can help me. I desire this and I know in my heart that God desires to see me grow in Him. I need to shed this pride and rip off this outer coating of my heart for Jesus to reign unmatched. This will be one of the hardest times I will ever face and I will struggle and yearn for rest. But it is so necessary that I be here, right here, right now. It's good.

"While we are looking at God, we do not see ourselves--blessed riddance" -Pursuit of God

Everything we are doing here is everything that is on my heart. Jesus is coursing throughout this place and these people. I have never made friends so easily, and already found a person that will most likely be my best friend and is basically me. I'm happy to say that I am looking forward to this year more and more as time goes by.

I will be praying for all you iowans and love you all so much. Please keep me in your prayers cause I will need all the prayer I can get. Please don't pray that my struggles will be easy, pray that they will be tough and God will be faithful to see me through. Miss you all already.

"Jesus you are awesome! I thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to get to know you better and grow with your help. Build in me a desire for your name, a desire to pursue you in every aspect of my life both great and small. Live your life through me so that I can advance your kingdom and be souled out to you. Bless these eight months that I get to live in Colorado, reveal to me who you are, show me the meaning your love, bring me to your throne in awe of you daily. Lord I pray that you bless des moines fellowship, continue to reign in that church as you have so abundantly already. Break down walls, let them openly worship and pray and live for you without fear of what others might be thinking. Bring joy to their hearts and bring them all closer as a church family. Let none be left alone. I pray that there will be struggle and we will look to you as our solitary source of hope, understanding you will finish what you have started. I love you so much and can't thank you enough for this life you have given me. We lay this at your throne, Amen."