Among The Living

Two years since last I even looked here. (clears cobwebs)
A lot has happened, so here is a quick rundown: My wife and I are staff with our church. I now work as a soon to be apprentice meat cutter, we have lost friendships with people, and strengthened others, gained new ones, and are still hopelessly addicted to coffee. I also have been diagnosed as diabetic  (type 2) and am undergoing a lifestyle change, and am doing well in that arena.
So lately I have been thinking on things (now that the catching up is done) and thought to share with everyone here about it.
If you have never read my blog, or don't know me well, I am a Christian. That statement usually has a very preconceived notion: Harsh, judgemental, snooty, among other terms. However, I hate that. I hate religion. You may think that is a contradiction, but I assure you, it is not
Religion is a list of 'do' and 'do not'. Religion is often used a way to escape things, be they responsibility for actions, your own views, or as a reason to show hatred and violence. Religion is mans attempt to reach God.
Jesus is God reaching out to man, Religion killed Jesus, and three days later He got up and killed religion. I want to clear something up right away: I do not want to come across as hate-filled, for there are people of all religious beliefs who use it for the wrong reason and there are people who use their belief as it should be- a part of life that they have. So, I am not coming down on anyone is particular, but just as a general rule, there will always be a bad apple that comes up (priests who molest children, Muslim extremists who attack innocents claiming to act on the wishes of all, etc) and they are the unintended poster child for the entire belief they claim. So if anyone claiming the name of Christ has come to you and mistreated you, I apologize for that,
The next thing: I do not fit the mold of your classic church goer. I wear a lot of black (like, a LOT). I love metal. (Some would say there is no such thing as Christ-centered metal, but that's coming another day). I love to create, and I may come off weird or not normal, especially when one tries to toss the label of Christian over everything. My view on that is that is all it is: A label. Labels are meant to define, whereas Christ has set free. It's a strange thing, labels. There is an idea that because we are Christian wr cannot do this, or that.  'You listen to that band? You watch that show? That doesn't seem very Christian!' Christianity is nit a thing you can slap on and make it so. There is no way to make a band Christian.  The musicicans may be Christians, but the entity is not. Music cannot be Christian, it just can't.  There is Christ centric music, for sure. Worship bands and such. I dunno, having spent so much of my life being labeled (not good enough in school, a weirdo, freak, etc) I have a hard time with being told who and what I am, by a world who celebrates mediocrity and self-worship. This world likes to take things that are not right and hold them up on a pedestal for all to see.


Love, Actually

I cannot believe it has been almost one full year since my last post.
Golly how has that happened?
So, here to catch up the world: My wife and I have been married now for almost 4 years, and that is grand. I recently had surgery and while painful and annoying, is for the best. We are now on staff with our local church. Speaking of, our church has a permanent building, and we are meeting in two services weekly.
So, what is my reason for writing tonight?
.We live in a time where the church is not seen as a bunch of Christians, but a bunch of Republicans. We need to shed all the labels, and get back to what is key: The Gospel.
We need to stop building walls around ourselves based on what we do in terms of style, of worship music, of everything. Christ is Christ. He is the same today and will be the same 100 years from now. We think that we can come up with some new way to show the Gospel, and end up making easy what we meant to make simple. As someone who follows Christ, i should show love to other people I should not be someone who turns away those who are lost, and seeking help, for i was once lost and seeking help. To do otherwise is unbiblical. . We are spreading the gospel, as we are commanded by Christ. But, in this we must not forget the most important commandment.
It can be shown in so many ways, We buy our coworker dinner on a long shift. We volunteer at a shelter, or help a charity with a cause. We babysit our friends kids, so they can have a date night and invest in their love. If we do not love, we cannot follow Christ.
If Jesus said it was the most important commandment, should we not heed it?
I submit to you, that without love, we cannot call ourselves Christians. We simply cannot model the life of Christ without love. It was love that held Christ to the cross. He poured His life out for love of us sinful greedy selfish people, so we therefore, must love. So, show love to others, especially in this holiday season. When you pass someone on the street, say hello to them. It may make the difference . You never know what sadness may hide behind their eyes. We show 'love' by buying things for people, but Christ showed love investing in people.
We need to be the same. You do not need to have your life all together to impact someone elses. Spend time with someone, and make the time to do so. You can go without seeing a football game once in a while if you are setting a teenager on a path that can change the world, even if you do not realize that is what is happening.
Christina, if you are not showing love, start showing it.
I don't mean make believe that all is good in the world, because it isn't. You can still show love even if you don't feel it, and I daresay it is most important to show it when you don't feel it. Tell your spouse how you truly love and appreciate them. take an hour in your week to invest in a young person you know, and ask how they are doing.  Spend time with people without your phone in your hand, or even on, Life did happen before mobile phones.  You will see the immediate impact in not just your life, but others in your life. Its a pretty groovy feeling.


The Wrong Why

Why did this have to happen to me?
Why did (insert name here) say that?
Why did that happen today?

We spend a lot of time asking that question of why. I know I have asked it many times myself. However, for whatever the reason, I feel this on my soul:
We can ask why. But we sometimes ask the wrong whys....

Why did my parents put themselves after us kids?
Why did my friend tell me how they felt and we find that we are closer through this pain?
Why did this good thing come to me?

Why did someone tell me that they love me? That He loves me like crazy, and willingly died for me?

This time of year is one of mixed emotions for me. I have never been too crazy about the commercialization of this holiday, and ever since accepting Christ, even more so. But I get the idea behind it, we show those who mean much to us that we care by giving them gifts. Personally I love to give my wife gifts. Were it feasible I would give her so much stuff it would boggle her mind.
But then...its not about presents.
Well, there is one gift that is available. But more on that in a minute.
I tend to be one who withdraws from this mode of holiday cheer. I can be kinda cynical about it, and many find that off putting. I sneer when I see Christmas themed decor in stores in August and September. I will be the first to admit to that. I detest that the day after Thanksgiving, where we 'give thanks' for all we have, turn and that evening mere hours later even after we give thanks...go spend money we don't have on things we don't need. All because its a few dollars less.

Why are we not content with what we have?
Why do we convince ourselves we need more things? No, mind you I do not find anything wrong with wanting nice things. let me clear this up: IT IS OK TO WANT NICE THINGS AND TO HAVE THEM AND USE THEM. However if you step on and over people to get that new game before they do, or want it so you can maintain an image to impress people...thats where we have a problem. Oh, whats the big deal you ask...So I want to be ahead in life,  and get another credit card to pay for those things. So what does that matter to you?
It shows that truly, deep down, you love things more than you should.

There is a fundamental issue when your love of the newest gadget has you standing in a line for 8 hours, just to be the first one to get it, while your wife sits at home, alone and wishing you were investing that time into your marriage.

There is a problem when you drain your savings to lease a brand new sports car that will look nice (until the next model comes out) when you have a working vehicle, and you now cannot pay of the bills in time.

There is something wrong when you spend every waking minute playing some online game and your family comes after your gaming group. (Disclaimer: I love to play some games myself. This is along the lines of where you spend more time on the game than work)

Why do do these things?
Why do we feel so empty, even after we make that 8 figure check, but the hot rod, lease that big house and fill it with crap that society tells us we need to be happy?
...Why doesn't it make us happy?
Because, as it were, its all meaningless.

What is the answer then?
There was a moment ago, I mentioned a gift,. and her eit is. The gift of grace. That is the greatest gift ever given.
It is said that we long to find meaning and fulfillment, and yet we turn to those things that will only leave us empty to find it. Much like a runner who is thirsty, we need to reach for that which will take care of thirst without betting it back down. They don't reach for a Coke. They don't want that which leaves their throats dry and yearning for more, they turn to the water that will replenish them when they need it. 

Jesus, is that water that will quench your thisrt.
In this exact way, He will give you what you are looking for: peace.
As he told the Samaritan woman in John 4
 "Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”" (John 4: 13-14)
Context: He went to a well, where a Samaritan woman came to draw water from a well. Jesus was thirsty, and  asked for a drink of water. And this woman said how being a Samaritan, and He a Jew, she was not one to bring him water. That He had nothing for her to draw water with. But she yearned for this living water.
Are we any different?
We buy that new truck, wanting its status to bring us happiness.
We go work that 80 hour week, to buy our families affection with trinkets that will fade.
We ask why we are so tired, sick and worn down.
We ask the wrong whys.
Why did Jesus love me?
Why did He die for me? Me?
Why can't i find my happiness here?

Ask Jesus into your life. Ask Him your questions.
He has the answers you seek.




This, for those who do not know, is HR Giger.
He for a large part is a very big influence on my art, and has been for a very long time. He also was the man behind 'Alien", and his painting"Necronom IV" and "Necronom V" convinced director Ridley Scott to hire him as the designer of the xenomorph that indelibly left a major impact on film and cinema goers for the last almost 40 years.
He passed away Monday at the age of 74.

The thing that made people notice his work,  was one of the main reasons that he was also looked at with disdain by some, but it was his trademark: His art was dubbed as 'biomechanical' a fusion of human and technology, often in very sexual way. As I grew in my faith I soon stopped paying attention to his work of late simply because of the nature of his work.

That doesn't change the fact that he is a major influence on my art, as I still find hints of the biomech in my work, and a majority of the artists who also influence me were influenced by him, and so the trickle effect goes one. He, I will still say, was an amazingly gifted person, who had a unique vision, who never let critics take away from that, and he never apologized for it. I still will hold him as an influence, albiet now my own style has evolved from biomech but that still finds ways of sneaking into my work. I do believe, were I to pick up an airbrush right now, my first thing I would do would be in that style, as when in high school (my really big Giger phase of art) that i what i did it with, my like he did. In cinema, he gave very interesting designs for many films, some that never got realized most famously, a film version of "Dune" by Alejandro Jodorowsky that would have starred Salvador Dali.

From all the books I read about him and his art, he had some influences that shaped him from a very early age. He was as a child very fascinated by occult and similar motifs, and explored themes of sexuality as a child and was very interested in the subject as a child, which goes into his work from his early ink drawings to his larger more ambitious airbrush painting. Themes that dealt with fear, childbirth, and isolation were also explored, and death also was a big thing in his work.
What is the point of this, beyond waxing nostalgic about a former artist?
We are all being influenced by people, even if we do not realize it. Therefore, we must be careful about whom we let influence us. If we emulate those who create an atmosphere of anger and hate around them, we too will start to create a similar environment, even it is subconsciously Ergo, were we to emulate someone who is humble and kind, we then will by nature of emulating them, do the same. So, as we go through life, who is influencing you? Is it the father who left your family, is it the teacher who makes condescending remarks to his class, the pop star who uses drugs and sex to ease their pain, your mother who works 2 jobs to keep food ont he table? Look to our Heavenly Father, who has nothing but love for those who are lost in sin, and not the broken people of this world to model your life upon. As for the art styles....well...I won't tell you who you should like. You go and make that choice. Both are yours to make on your own. Just be warned: Who you let speak into your life, will control the way your life goes.


Why is this a "Good" Friday?

It should have been me
With the nails through my hands and feet
Facing the wrath of God
It should have been me
Left to pay for my sin forsaken
But in the blood I stand here
It should have been me
Born to die
He bore the fire of God's holy wrath on his shoulders

What a stage set up in this song by the band For Today. Called 'Crown of Thorns' it describes the incredibly painful act of love that Christ endured for the sake of sinners. Which means everyone. All of us. I'm sure everyone, regardless of their belief, knows what John 3:16 is. But let the reality of that sink in for a minute. Christ, the Lord, died the worst most painful death, for people He never met in person, for people who hated Him, who ridiculed Him. People who were yet to be born, and those who died before He was.
How truly, is this a 'good' Friday?
A man whom is innocent, declared guilty in an illegal trial in the middle of the night, condemned to die, and murdered while a gaggle of spectators cheered on each strike of the hammer. Each strike, which pushed a nail hrough flesh and muscle and tendons, clear through the other side. His legs, broken. His back scourged to the point of exposing inner organs and then after being nailed onto that wood, stained with the blood from its previous host, hoisted upwards, with a slamming thud into the ground. Each breathe forced out and finally after 6 hours, He dies, crying out "My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
He then releases His spirit, and then literally all Hell breaks loose.:  
'At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.  They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.'  Matthew 27:51-53

All of this happened for one reason.
Love held this man to the cross not nals. He was murderd by man for the saving of man.
So, what makes this a Good Friday? Because that is not the end of the story. Three days pass.
Then He was resurrected.
He got back up.
Death. Died.
No longer do we have to fear death. Its sting is removed (1st Corinthians 15:55) because Jesus didn't stay dead. He got back up, and we have the hope in that happening to us (Hebrews 6:19) that when we die, we too, will rise. We will get out of our coffins, and join our King.  Death has died, and love has won.  That  is why it is "good". If this had not happened we would never be reconciled to God, for we are all fallen and sinful beings by default. Not one person one their best day can stand before the Holy Lord, for even our best is but trash to Him (Isaiah 64:6) so that is why we needed a mediator, one who took it for us. Thaty is why Christ came, to become that which seperated us and kept us from God, so that we could be seen as righteous and holy before Him.
Because of His love, we now can called sons and daughters , as long as we do one thing:
Love Him back.
When someone accepts Christ, and truly repents and lives for His glory, they are transformed into a new person, and the whole mission of God is nothing more: To see those who are in sin to become one with Him.. If you think you can walk with Christ and not live differently than you did before meeting Him you have not met Him. Not that it will be easy but the reward is so much greater than the cost. This weekedn is the biggest deal, because it is the weekend of Easter, with His death on Friday and resurrection on Sunday. Easter Sunday. Its not about eggs and bunnies. Its about the murdered Son of God who promised us life and life more abundantly
If you are one of those who claim yourselves as atheists, let em tell you something: God is stronger than you. He is stronger than your doubts, your disbelief, He loves you, even if you do not love Him. Charles Spurgeon said "If you reject him, he answers you with tears; if you wound him, he bleeds out cleansing; if you kill him, he dies to redeem; if you bury him, he rises again to bring resurrection. Jesus is love made manifest."  So take it from someone who grew up without Him, and found Him at his lowest point of life:
God loves you, and wants nothing but the best for you.
I am doing this as a direct call of Christ. To spread His message of hope. If you do not know him, and want to know Him all you need to do is ask for Him to fill you with His love. He stands at the door of your heart knocking for He is a gentleman. He doesn't come in without being asked. Consequently, He won't come in without being asked...which means...if you were to die today, without knowing Him, when you stand before Him, and He says to depart from Him, for you denied Him on earth and therefore He is denying you before His father (Matthew 10:33). An eternity of despai all on your own doing. One way or the other you will confess He is Lord do it now, for today is the day of salvation!
If you are religious just remember this...
Religion killed Jesus. He got back up and killed religion.
It is not a religion it is a relationship.
If oyu reading this, felt that tug from God, and want to know Him, click here and then, you too will know why this is, truly, a Good Friday.


Crash course with Jesus

Back many years ago I walked into an old building that had been a movie theatre and was now a church. I was a depressed, suicidal pessimist whom had grown tired of life, who hated himself, and didn't think I mattered. There was no Clarence to come and show me how things would be different were I gone, and I certainly was no Jimmy Stewart. I was at the bottom of the barrel, ready to throw in the towel.Then I went into a simple building and walked out later that night as a new person. I must admit, that back when i first walked in, I had no idea that everything in my life had led to this point. I now see how everything worked into this moment, and how God is so amazing, and had a plan for all aspects of my life. It has not been easy. There have been times where I wanted to run away and yet, did not. There have been times where I doubted it, but still believed heart and soul. I have seen prayer answered, I have been apart of things that were life changing for many, and had it not been for that Wednesday night, i would be dead. Dead, separated from God for all eternity I felt it was right to update my story from the last time I posted it, and share it again. Someone may read this, and who knows, it could impact them in ways I will never know. So, here now 6 years later, I present you my crash course with Jesus.

Back in the summer of 2007, I entered a relationship with a girl(who I will not name) and well, I felt the world was my oyster. I had nursed an interest in the occult and read about Alister Crowley and several prominent wiccan and occult leaders, from musing by Anton Lavey and such, to the Necronomicon, and many other things all through high school, and afterwards it grew more intense, and even participated in a ceremony or two. I already amassed a hefty collection of books and whatnot. As it started to grow more serious, I remember telling my closest friend that I felt that was my path. He told me, and I quote:
"Be careful dude. I know someone did the same thing, and bad stuff started happening left and right."
I paid no mind to him. In September of that year, a friend was killed in a car wreck. She was on her way to start college. One month later, my great-uncle. Car wreck. I started to feel like something was wrong. I started having intrusive thoughts, worse than any previously had. My girlfriend lived in another city as she was in college, and I wanted her there, to comfort me, and soon after went up to visit her. When I was there, things happened that I really am not sure why. Things that I don't feel like posting, as they are personal. I came back to find my friend Paul was dead. Car wreck.
I started to feel like life wasn't worth it. I was losing people everywhere it seemed. I started to think that my relationship was deteriorating into something I didn't want. And on top of it all, I could actually feel something in my apartment. Almost like, a dark presence. I bagged all the occult items I had and kept in it a corner of my apartment. By the time December rolled around I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was no longer interested in the girl I was dating, she didn't seem to have any interest given the lack of communication from her. I was drifting, and not really caring about anything. Life was wasted on me, I felt. I really felt that my existence was arbitrary, and really served no purpose. When the new year came, I sure didn't care. I mean, as far as I was concerned, I no longer had any relationship. We officially broke up on the 15th of that month, but as far as I was concerned, it was over in December. I was wondering why I was here. Then, I came to a choice. It was something that stuck out from "The Shawshank Redemption" which is one of my favorite movies.
"Get busy living, or get busy dying."

I decided that I wasn't ready to die. There had to be something else to life. So, I decided to try something.
As it happens, the old movie theatre was now a meeting place for a new church, calling themselves Fresh Life. I felt, well, there surely is no harm in that. Why not?
I went in there, and was kind of nervous. I never really believed in God, nor did I truly deny Him. grew up in a scientific mindset, and all through school never would call myself a Christian, didn't attend church went to  a few with some family on my dads side, but never walked it, although not being into partying and drinking I had people tell me they though I was . I always felt, if I can see it touch it, then it is real. I went with a friend we took two seats on the side, and then I went exploring. I met a guy who introduced himself as Erin.
"What is this all about?" I asked him.
"Sit down, and you will see" he said. As the music started, I kinda dug the beat, but really mumbled the words. Then a young man, who looked not much older than me or my friend, got up and started talking. I soon found, for some reason, I was listening intently. And then, something funny happened.
I nudged my pal and asked, "Did he just make a Star Wars reference?"
"Yeah, he did." he replied.
I soon found I couldn't not pay attention. Something in me said, "this is right."
As he ended the message, I felt a very emotional thing happen. With the music, I almost was in tears, and I never felt like that before. To me, when I was in church, it always was some guy saying some words. An old large man, in a suit and tie where you had to dress similar,  monotonous sounding singing, boring as all get out. A lecture somewhat similar to one from a school teacher and almost as lively. This was different. Erin comes down, and asks how I felt about it.
"I..Jus....wha..." I was literally speechless. Any who know me, knows that is very rare indeed. When I tried to talk, only tears came forth, and I asked to meet the pastor. He introduced himself as Levi, and I found myself once again unable to really talk. I stood in the foyer,and asked him "How do you do this Jesus thing?" Levi then told me, it was  simple you say this prayer, mean it in your heart, and live it.
I gave my life to Jesus one minute later.
Returning to my apartment, I went to the corner where that bag was. I got it, and threw it all in the dumpster.
It has been six years since that fateful night. I now live in Billings MT helping with what is the 4th Fresh Life campus. I now serve in the kids ministry which is something I never thought I would do. I am married now, with a wonderful wife who serves alongside me, and pushes me to strive even further with my walk in the faith.  I now see how I do not need religion to be my saviour. My saviour was a man who was also God.. He saved me. Someone so pathetic, but someone. Not nothing, a person.  Do I still make mistakes? Yes. Is life any easier? No.
But I have the most awesome force behind me, to help me up when I fall. To give me strength when I feel weak. To love me unconditionally when everyone else abandons me.
I suggest you meet Him too.

If in reading this, you felt God move on your heart, do not fight Him! he has the best in store for you! Click this link here   and you can meet your maker face to face liek i did, and you will never regret it.


On Phil and Controversy

What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.)

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
What, in your mind, is sinful?
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2o2cnY1Dy

If I, being a Christian thought people who are gay were an abomination because they were people, as opposed to their choices, about one fourth of my friends would no longer be as such. I couldn't work with the jobs I have, because in both jobs,  They are awesome people! It saddens me to hear when people kill themselves, and for the reasons why. I don't agree with their lifestyle choices, but that doesn't mean I don;t care about them. I do not tell them that I am above them or better than them, or try to make them feel bad because of their lives, for their lives are just that: Theirs. Not mine to make the call how they ought live. Just as they don't have the means to tell me how I ought live. I do not agree with that lifestyle personally, but I know that people don't agree with my lifestyle either, and so what? I cannot make their choices, as they cannot make mine. I do not have to answer for their lives they do. I want you to know, friends of mine who are living in alternative lifestyles L
YOU ARE LOVED! God loves you, although He does not love your lifestyle, He loves YOU.
Soaked in anger, words can do a lot. However, words can also bring healing, and hope. Trust me when I say this:
I do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle.
I do not hate people who ARE homosexual.
If anyone claiming the name of Christ has treated you with malic eor hate, then they are misrepresentign the name of Christ. He hung out with prostitutes, with scum as they were called and despised people. He only has love, and if you call on Him and turn to Him uinstead of relying on yourself, you will be healed of your anger, hate and forgiven of sin,  as long as you truly do repent, you do not continue in sin, and live to serve the one who died for you. I know people who lived in that lifestyle, who now are some of the strongest Christians I know. It is all up to you.