what a

The God who breathed stars into existence, who spoke and made the heavens created us out of dust, to be little mud men in relationship with him. What a mystery. What a privilege to be called sons and daughters because of the mind shattering love and grace and mercy of God.

Jesus, God’s plan A, took all of our sin, all of our garbage, all of our hurt on himself. All the things we have done and have yet to do. He bore it all. He did not come to condemn. As he was being beaten and nailed to a cross, He responded to the offense with “FORGIVE THEM!”.
What a privilege it is to worship Him.

The prince of peace came in humility. The bread of life was broken so that WE might have life… so that The love of God might finally be revealed with such clarity and impact that nothing would mistake it.
What a privilege it is to worship Him

And the curtain of the temple that separated the presence of God from man was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. Bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. All that was created from beginning to end, Angels and demons, principalities and rulers, Satan and the religious, All of heaven and earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen suddenly woke with a realization… Through the splinters of wood and the poured out blood, revelation came. “Truly this was the Son of God!”
What a privilege it is to worship Him

To seal the deal Jesus rose from the grave, fully man and fully God. He returned as a teacher, friend, healer, gardener… as God…He ministered to followers that would change the world as an act of worship.
What a privilege it is to worship Him

He ascended into heaven and left us with the Holy Spirit. The living God and the same power that raised christ from the grave to be with us always. So that as we draw near to the Good father we can be reminded that his love endures forever. What a privilege it is to worship Him

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Eph 3:16-19

What a privilege it is to worship Him

have it all

It feels like just yesterday that I did a review of the bethel album we will not be shaken, where I shared that I was pretty much lukewarm on most of the cuts on it. I have everything ever put out from bethel, brian and jenn, ian mcintosh, steffany gretzinger, jeremy riddle etc etc… You get it; pretty much anybody associated with that crew and usually love almost everything until the “we will not be shaken” album and I found myself, unlike the title, kind of shaken as it just would not stick with me. I also feel like I may have been set up for a trap because the marketing forced my brain to have an expectation of it being a cross between tides and loft sessions. It wasn’t.

Then came “Have it All” in my inbox to review a few weeks before it officially came out. I clicked the link and said to myself. “what is this!!??!”. I had no idea there even was another album coming and so unlike the last one I was not boxed into sonic expectation and my mind and ears were open to whatever would meet them. I was ready to press play, give it a few listens and then review it. My plan was to post a review a few weeks ago, but as you can see I failed. Now let me keep this review concise and simple as it will also explain my delay in typing this review in the first place.

This album instantly became a prophetic prayer over my spirit and my circumstances. 
It forced me to wrestle with a new level of surrender.
It reminded me that God doesn’t “give His heart in pieces”
It made my heart pour out “thank you” over the circumstances that I normally should not be.

Every track was dripping with the LIVE groan of the Holy Spirit and as polished as it sounds it is also raw and untamed.
Normally I would go through track by track, but there are 16 tracks and I will get acute carpal tunnel if I share on each one so instead I will just encourage anybody who reads my blog… Go buy this album and let it carry you into worship, challenges you to be more like Jesus, and brings peace as the Holy Spirit washes over you.

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say
You can have it all, Lord

I can almost guarantee that the peace that passes all understanding dropped on you by just reading those words. It is that powerful of an album. It features Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Jonathan Helser, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin and Bethel newcomers Leeland and Cory Asbury. I think it’s ironic that the last two would be called newcomers, but they are to the bethel music. 

Music of course has a ton to do with personal preference. What surprised me as well is that while a few of those leaders stylistically are not my favorite on past albums, on this one there isn’t a voice, a lyric or a song that doesn’t move my spirit.

These 16 tracks are on continual repeat right now. “Have it All” has become a personal meditational prayer each time I listen and now that it still rings in my head an heart all day long.

Brian Johnson said it best ““The sooner we realize life is about surrender, the longer we have to make a real eternal impact here on earth.”.

Don’t buy this album to support Bethel. Don’t buy this album because you think of me as a bearded wise sage that told you to.

Buy it because your spirit, your journey, and the depth of your surrender needs it. 

——————————————————
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Hoganson Media Relations and Bethel to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Midnight Jesus
Where Struggle, Faith, And Grace Collide . . .
By Jamie Blaine

“The heart of God can be found in the unlikeliest places, in the unlikeliest people.”

Jamie Blaine is a christian psychiatric crisis interventionist called to “the least of these”. Much like the books slogans we realize through true stories that God is visible in the midst of the marginalized people he works with. Story after story expresses the heart of God and the redemption of Jesus.

I was at a meeting tonight actually where somebody said “God turns our mess into a message” and that is exactly what this book does. This book showcases hope in the midst of the brokenness of people’s lives with light writing that makes the heaviness of the stories more palatable.

I think this speaks well to something that God has been teaching me more and more about… Looking at people through the lens of Jesus. Can we truly love people with no strings attached? When you truly operate in this manner you will find yourself, as Jamie does, Seeing Jesus’s strength in the frailty and weakness of man.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My Whole 30 Journey

February 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

whole30
Today is day 31 of my whole30 challenge. If you have been trapped in a bunker somewhere let me fill you in on what I did. For 30 days I ate only good, unprocessed food. No added sugar of any kind, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and no MSG/carrageenan/sulfites/other chemicals. I ate meat, seafood (only shrimp because I don’t like seafood), eggs, vegetables, fruit, oils, nuts and seeds.

I decided to do this challenge because quite honestly I had tried pretty much everything over the years to get healthy. Fad diets, workouts, sitting on a couch and binge watching netflix; nothing seemed to work. I knew a few years ago that my cholesterol was high and my family health history is horrendous. I used to be more active playing racquetball almost daily and basketball from time to time, but then life, business, and age got in the way and I found myself getting injured with simple exercises. Something had to shift and I needed to make sure that my food affected mood was stabilized and I was alive for my kids. Here came in whole30 which was not introduced to me as a diet, but instead a life change and gut reset.

I jumped in head first with no clue how I would feel, if I would make it and quite honestly if we could afford it. The first day I went shopping was with the book in hand and iphone cued to a few websites yet I still felt like I was flying blind. As I went along I started to get the hang of what I needed. I had to read every label on everything I bought and I was floored by how much sugar is in everything we buy. Even some of the meat that I buy with a slight marinade on it has sugar in it. If things didn’t have sugar then they had some form of wheat in it. In the beginning, when I was still trying to figure out how I could possibly make a meal without bread and cheese, I found myself mentally paralyzed.

“Are you kidding?!! I can’t have a french baguette?! What am I going to dip into my cheese covered chili?! Wait… I have to take the cheese off?”

The first week was the hardest and while the book says “don’t say this is hard”, those first 4 days sucked. It was hard because of the raging sugar dragon felt like it was biting my head off. The headaches were bad, but it also showed me with evidence how much my body craves sugar.

After the first week I began to discover the “tricks” of the diet to ensure I didn’t spend our monthly food budget in one week. In the end we spent more on our grocery bill, but because we did not eat out we actually saved money on our month. Many sites say to shop the “perimeter” in the grocery store, but in mine that is where the cheese and bread is so instead I made sure to go in with a goal and get only what I need and get the heck out of there. I love to shop so that was difficult for me.

I had to cook for every meal which at times was a bit more taxing than throwing some cheese on a sandwich, but it was also rewarding. I found myself trying really hard to not only make food that tasted really good and seasoned well, but I also leaned into my artistic side and gave myself a motivation of making the best looking food I could.

Going out to eat I attempted once and it was virtually impossible. That says something I’d say. There is so much garbage in chain restaurant food that the only way to eat it on whole 30 is to buy a dish and take a quarter of the food off the plate to eat and leave the rest to throw out. It is a waste and I actually found it discouraging to even try again.

Before I started whole 30 I used to get major stomach pain whenever I ate things that were acidic like salsa and tomato sauce. I avoided those things at all costs and took digestive enzymes to help sooth my gut. I already knew cheese made my sinus’ hurt and bread made me bloated so to lose them made sense. About a week into whole 30 I decided to add salsa to an omelet. I was ready for the stomach pain. Here it comes… that knife in the gut feeling. However, this time I felt fine. I was convinced it was a fluke to I tried it for a few more days. Still no pain at all. I was beside myself because I actually reset my body. I am not sure if it was the sugar, the dairy or wheat but it was clear the combination of crappy food also gave me a volatile and temperamental stomach. This discovery still excites me.

I had somebody ask me during this whole 30 thing.

“Isn’t switching to organic, grass-fed meats, veggies and fruits going to be crazy expensive?”

My answer was simple:

“It will be a lot less than a triple bypass”

I could go on and on with some tips and tricks, but I think I am going to save that for the rest of my whole 30 blogging journey. I have almost 900 posts on this blog and have been writing on here since 2006. 10 years of writing, but this last month of whole 30 I decided to just do with photos on Instagram so I could try it out with little pressure and be successful.

This is the same reason why I decided not to work out during the 30 days. I knew it would be better, but at the same time I also knew it would be too much and a great reason to quit before I learned anything about myself.

I was scared to death of black coffee or even coffee with coconut milk in it. After the 4th day it seems my tastebuds changed and I was able to tolerate it more. Of course I miss my sugar and hazelnut, but it was doable. I found the last two weeks my coffee intake went down to about 1/4 and it was replaced by copious amounts of green tea.

I have not missed sweets or ice cream at all, except on my wife’s birthday. I have had my fill of beef, chicken and pork so I have not really craved a burger except a delicious bun. I have, however, crave since day one pizza and pasta with garlic break. So good and tasty.

I started to have BreadADD… mirage’s of garlic knots…

Ultimately it became very easy to do, simple to plan and my food tasted great. The way I felt far outweighed my mourning of bread and cheese.

So let me break down how I did, how I feel and what is next.

How I did:
I am really proud of myself for sticking this out, not cheating at all, spending the time to learn and exciting others to do the same.

  • Starting Weight: 269.8/270 lbs (i have a crappy scale)
  • Current Weight: 254 lbs
  • Weight-loss total: 15.8/16 lbs
  • Belt Holes moved: 2
  • Goal Weight: 210 lbs

How I feel:
I was 254 lbs last year, but this 254 lbs is different. This is a healthier 254 lbs. I feel better than i have in 10 years. They speak of tigers blood or feeling like a super hero in the book. I don’t feel like that and I am not sure I ever will. I am not 20 any more, but I do feel great and the feeling and simplicity of this diet has given me new eyes on my health.

What’s Next:
As you can see I am not at my goal weight so it’s very clear I still need a plan moving forward. The book has a food reintroduction process of 10 days to figure out which foods affect your gut now that it’s all cleaned out. I already know which foods mess with me. Sugar makes me crash, bread makes me bloated and worthless, and cheese makes me stuffy and have headaches.

Knowing all this and how whole 30 made me feel I have decided on a few things:

  1. I am going to continue on to a Whole 60
  2. I plan to have a “treat meal” every 15 days because I still want to enjoy things I eliminated. I am however changing the moniker “cheat” to “treat” because quite honestly I don’t need any more negativity than the amount I currently produce.
  3. I am going to have a workout schedule for these next 30 days to tone up and create the energy needed to burn more fat.

And last, tonight I plan to celebrate my 30 days of pure victory with 20 min of bliss with a pizza and garlic knots. There is no way that one meal is going to have me gain everything back I lost. It will, however, be tasty and most likely make me feel like crap an hour later giving me the right amount of guilt to spur on another 30 days of kicking tail! 

nightBefore
This season I did a rewrite of the classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” for our church’s Christmas Eve Service. I am really proud of how it came out and may even illustrate it for next year, but thought in the mean time I would share it.
Below is the text
AND HERE IS A GRAPHIC OF IT – Click to download it in High Res

‘Twas the night before Christmas – Joel Klampert

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the world,
Man’s minds were cloudy, their hearts were all swirled;
From beginning to end it’s not often told,
This story is new and also quite old;

Our tale begins, of course from the start,
In the garden with Adam and God’s broken heart;
Eve was tempted by knowledge and pride,
While her husband stood passive, right by her side;

The greatest of love is to lay down one’s life,
So why didn’t he act to save his own wife;
Ashamed they stood separated from Love,
Riddled by fears too much to speak of;

Many years go by, many hours are spent,
Mans repair strategy never made a real dent;
Prophets spoke up straight from the Lord,
Truth rang out, a loud hope had roared;

The Father above, a craftsman by trade,
Stared at the gifts that his hands had made
He made them whole, he made them right
Now they lay broken and shattered by night

The misfits were nestled all snug in their sin,
Awaiting redemption soon to begin;
The father and son since the beginning of time,
Had a foolproof plan to right mans crimes;

An angel appeared to a young girl that that day,
Fear not, you have favor is what he would say;
And the peace from the creator poured like an oil,
On the squeaky heart of Mary, faithful and loyal;

She knew she was pregnant, her heart now made whole,
Joseph stepped up, earthly father with soul;
The dark one, now frantic, did all that he could,
To stop the one foretold, who would crush him for good;

In the middle of a field stood the lowest of low,
tending their sheep when the sky starts to glow;
they shook in their sandals, Their eyes open wide,
As an army of angels appeared in the sky;

“I bring you good news” the angel had said,
“you will find him wrapped snug, while resting his head”;
Their voices soared, what a song they would sing,
The shepherds packed up to go find their king;

They hurried to the village to see with their eyes,
astonished, they saw Him, and heard his sweet cries;
The stories they’d tell, sharing with any who’d hear,
That Jesus had come, The Messiah was here!

A few years had passed and some magi had heard,
The prophecies were true and Herod got word;
He sent them all out to seek and to find,
with a ruse that he’d worship with all of mankind;

To bethlehem they would ride, following a star,
which stopped over a home, They traveled so far;
They bowed down and worshiped leaving gifts at his feet,
and left to trick Herod so death they’d not meet;

Mary sat with Gold, Frankincense and myrrh,
silently thinking, it’s all been a blur;
Did she know what would happen, Did she know the whole truth,
Did she trust that God’s plan was completely foolproof?

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,
Fully God, fully man the Grace dispatcher;
He took on flesh to save mankind’s skin,
God became misfit to free misfits from sin;

From heaven to earth, From manger to cross
He came to seek and save all who were lost;
Hung on the tree mary saw her small child,
was now a man who’s love was quite wild;

Recklessly loving His eyes peppered with grace,
A life must change that looks at His face;
The power of hell could not hold, death would lose,
Our God is alive!! THIS.. is the good news

When you sit with your family, as you unwrap and you eat,
Remember that death has suffered defeat;
We have been given a gift, receive His pure light,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.