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Friday, December 16, 2011


i'm in so much pain, and so much damage is being done. i remember asking for this, out of complete naivety... perhaps it will be turned to good. perhaps it will all be redeemed.

Lord of all, Giver of life, please make it so. i cannot.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

worship leadership team questionnaire

1. Define the responsibilities of “Worship Leadership” in the Church today?
judging only by my own experiences, it seems that local expressions of the body of Christ need a particular kind of sensory experience (somewhat unique to each local church) in order to genuinely worship God musically. so the lowest common denominator among free church evangelicals in my immediate cultural vicinity seems to be this: that the responsibility of worship leadership is to provide that sensory experience.

2. How should the worship experience change for someone, as they transition from the “Congregation” to the “Worship Leadership Team”?
if the answer to question #1 above is true, then someone's worship experience as they transition from congregation to leadership should change in at least two ways. first, they should be willing and able to genuinely worship through music apart from their preferred sensory experience. second, they should be providing initiative and direction for the congregation.

3. What will be your greatest areas of “Spiritual Struggle” if you begin (or continue) to serve on the worship team (Answer honestly… This will be an opportunity for the pastoral team to help you grow and will not be shared with the full team)?
most immediately, i anticipate continuing to struggle with the truth of the words i use (and encourage others to use) during musical worship. to a lesser degree, i also struggle with the question of the sincerity of others.

further toward the horizon, i anticipate a very difficult yet intentional struggle with the question of whether the purpose to which we put worship leadership is actually facilitating biblical worship. it is not a question of whether people are worshipping, but rather a question of whether i am helping or hindering when i, as a congregant or as a leader, choose to participate in the particular format of rituals chosen by my local church.

4. Why do you feel that you should be/ or continue to be a part of the “Worship Leadership Team”?
apparently my vocal ability, combined with what others perceive as a genuine attitude of worship, has helped others to genuinely worship. i have been told this by many different people from many different churches on many different occasions throughout my life since junior high, and i believe that even if i did not enjoy worship music so intensely, i would still be willing and able to serve in this area.

that is the benefit for others. the benefit for me is that i am continually faced with questions that challenge me to refine not only my beliefs (the mental assent i give to ideas) but also my discipleship (faithful action that gives my beliefs expression and, i hope, integrity). this challenge comes not only from the unique perspective of worship leadership (as opposed to followership), but also from exposure to other leaders, whose differing perspectives force me to grow. (i am blessed to be surrounded by perspectives which force me to grow toward Christlikeness, which is not the case for every growing person, nor for every situation that forces growth.) conversely, i am told by others that i provide them that same challenge.

5. Have you prayerfully considered joining the Worship Leadership Ministry, and have you discussed this with your spouse, family and/or other significant people in your life?
i have in the past both prayerfully considered and also discussed with others my participation in worship team leadership. neither of these actions has ever discouraged me from worship leadership itself. i have not recently revisited this topic with the intention of critical re-examination.

6. Is there anything in your life that would hinder you from serving with right motives or with whole-hearted commitment?
i can think of nothing in my life right now, nor do i have reason to expect anything in particular, that would hinder my motives or my commitment, except perhaps a radical paradigm shift resulting from the second struggle mentioned in my answer to question #3 above, which is unlikely to take place anytime soon.

7. Do you spend time in the Word and in Prayer? Please specify how often and how consistently. Please also describe your goals and methods.
i spend time and effort in the Word multiple times a week, mostly through conversation (whether one-sided or interactive) with others, as well as through that which i can remember 'unaided' (verbatim and otherwise). my inundation with Scripture throughout my entire life has been both blessing and curse-- the former because i have become familiar with Scripture as some are familiar with a favorite movie, and the latter because it's possible i am now somewhat inured to it.

my goal in passing on Scripture to others is usually to inform, correct, encourage, or explain. my goal in discussing it with others is similar, except that those verbs apply to myself just as much as to them. generally my methods include defining words, supporting one passage with others, finding overarching themes throughout the Bible, comparing and contrasting its' narratives with our own lives, transporting the intent of a passage from its original context to ours today (with painstaking caution to preserve its meaning), and praying Scripture in order to be apprehended by it internally rather than simply vocalizing it.

i pray with the intent of praying perhaps once or twice a week. more often i am simply aware that God is aware of my thoughts. most days i will automatically submit many of my thoughts to God as i think them, ready to hear back but depending mostly on Scripture and Christian fellowship to receive from Him a response to my prayers. the exception is when i request something of Him, in which case i will often direct my attention more outward than inward, in order to better notice His work.

my belief is that prayer, insofar as it is intended to change things, is as much (if not more) intended to change the pray-er as it is to change outside circumstances. in keeping with this, the content of many of my more intentional, ritualized prayers (i.e. ending with "amen" or beginning with an address to God) will have to do with my heart, my behavior, my character, etc.

8. How are YOU being discipled as a part of our church (Examples: Men’s or Women’s Groups, Young Married’s, Life Groups, Navigator Series Classes, Youth Ministry)?
the pastors at my church serve as both purposeful mentors and walking examples to me. my discipleship under them often comes in the form of either encouragement or tasks entrusted to me, both of which have significantly changed my life for the better. in addition, their words and actions are more than simply un-sinful: in light of my beliefs, they make me want to imitate them as they live out Christ. Jerad Mendel, Heather Mendel, Cameron Unruh, and Beth Unruh disciple me in these ways.

additionally, i find that the more i disciple and serve others, the more i am shaped apart from the conscious intentions of fellow Christians to shape me. i am constantly impressed with 'bodily activity' (that is, activity as part of the body of Christ) as an irreplaceable Christ-influence.

9. Have you completed any of the following studies? (Circle All that Apply)
a. Growing Strong
b. Bachelor of Arts in Religion at Vanguard University of Southern California

Sunday, June 19, 2011

waking from the American dream

if we boil it down past the point of cultural content, then the American dream is really just "i want my life to gradually improve until i reach a point of contentment." in other words, "i want to become happy at some point."

the problem with this, is that happiness is always temporary. so if i let happiness be a goal, i will be setting myself up for failure.

i'm okay with being happy. i'm not okay with expecting happiness, or expecting happiness to last, or working toward happiness as its own goal. it is long past time for me to stop pursuing happiness.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

my life could be better

and i could be the one to make it better. so i will try. but i need your help.

"what kind of help?"

glad you asked! step 1: read this note (which is a large task in and of itself), without calling me emo (which is almost as tough). step 2: decide whether the note is worthy of a response or not. step 3: decide whether you want to help or not. if you don't, i may cry a tiny tad, but it will pass.

there was a time in my life when i was just the weird homeschooler/bando, and mostly hung out with others of the same calling. and that was okay, because those people were mostly cool. not totally satisfactory, but still cool.

next there came this time in my life when i decided i wanted to be really intentional about my friendships and the purpose of them. i realized i needed to give of myself to others. and that was great; very biblical, very fulfilling. alot of those friends were at church. it was awesome... but still not complete.

then after that, i went to college, and during the first half of that, i was pretty much forced to make new friends, who turned out to be some of the most awesome so far. or maybe the relationships were the most awesome so far. yea, that second one is true. i resisted them at first, but they grew on me and in me. at this point, i had some nerd/homeschooler/bando friendships, some give-of-myself-to-you friendships, and-- during the second half of college-- some receive-from-you friendships. i benefited from all of these, and loved them all, and figured that this was the best social situation i could hope for... aside from having two halves of a life (one at home in Fresyes, one in SoCal). 

THEN... there was this chapter where i actually did adult-y things like get a full-time job, get married, etc. at this point, things slowed down a little, socially speaking. it was a very tough time for me personally, in all areas (not just socially). i left most of my mentors and receive-from-you friendships behind by returning to Fresyes permanently. most lamented were the give-and-take mutual-investment deeply-connected relationships i had to leave behind.

FINALLY: we come to present day, wherein i have tons of friendships of all sorts. mentors, brethren & sistren in Christ, people i give to, people from whom i receive, nerds, musicians, atheists & Christians, board-game-lovers and family-friends and friends-of-friends and people who are always welcome in my home. i even have passing acquaintances with the offspring-of-close-friends!

...but one category is sorely lacking. or perhaps it is a critical element that's lacking in my life. i don't know what to call it, but i can describe it this way: i hang out with awesome people all the time, but hardly ever connect with them on a personal level. my wife & Caleb Werner are the exceptions to this. the only exceptions. why is that?

it is very likely that you, reader, are one such non-exception: someone with whom i often interact, but hardly ever connect with. why is that? what happened to the old isaiah, who would often greet people not with a high-five or fist-bump, but with "how are you feeling?" or "can i ask you a personal question?" or "life sucks, lemme tell you all about it." ???

i've lost the intentions that once infused my relationships with an awareness of the most meaningful things in life. sure, i discuss theology and how it affects us and the world. i even confess mistakes i've made and flaws that trouble me. but it isn't quite deep enough, and i don't like that. so i've decided to go back to what i used to have, because i feel as though i'm coasting through my social life.

i shouldn't be comfortable with coasting.

so now you get to decide whether to help me be a driver or a coaster. can i ask you the question, "can i ask you a personal question?" and receive an open, genuine answer? can i disturb the surface of the 'middle Christians' pond by throwing pebbles (and occasionally doing cannonballs)?

no pressure, friend. no obligation. just let me know: help me coast, or help me drive? i won't like you less either way, nor will i hold anything against you. but i need to know who is up for deep-sea diving, and who is not. i need to know who will shy away from DTR, and who will not. i need more freedom to really be myself, out in the open and deep in the heart.

as someone who naturally pushes people out to arm's length, i need to put myself closer to people. that includes those who are already close, like my wife and my Caleb. it may also include you, if you are 'down,' or 'up for it,' or whatever the phrase is.

if you are not up for it, please say that as well, so that i don't turn to you during our Settlers of Catan game and ask, "so, can i have two sheep for one ore? also, your friend who's abusing your generosity: what do you intend to do about that?" ...or whatever.

this invitation is global and ongoing. be forewarned that i am a devoting Christian (devoting: becoming gradually more devoted), and that if you are 'in' on this, our relationship will not stay as it is, and even though i will do my utmost to respect all takers of all beliefs and personalities, i will also not pull any punches. i will be who i am loudly and sometimes uncomfortably.

i think that's enough for now. time to go do something else and pretend i'm not eagerly awaiting your response.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


i feel like expressing self-pity or at least some semblance of a victimization attitude, but neither of those matches my thoughts or beliefs, so i guess i'll just waste a blog post instead. i hope i can learn how to function adequately in this new life.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

has someone forgotten that north america is not the name of a country?

has someone decided to flaunt their geographical aptitude?

ask me anything

have mexico and/or hawaii been unannexed from north america? =P

has someone forgotten to use the word 'continent'? =P

ask me anything

Have you traveled out of north america?

oh... i also went to the Pacific Northwest, on another band competition.

ask me anything

Have you traveled out of north america?

Mexico and Hawaii. i was with CCC through APU the 2 or 3 times i went to Mexico, and on a marching band competition when i went to Hawaii.

ask me anything

if you had to get a tattoo of something larger than 1 inch what would it be?

sometimes i need to block the spirit of Caleb. uh let's see... i'd probly choose the tetragrammaton, in its original Hebrew script, with "property of" in English above that

ask me anything

you've NEVER shot a basketball?

okay maybe once when i was 8.

ask me anything

When's the last time you shot a basketball?


ask me anything

if you had to rename yourself what name would you choose?


what emotion can you connect with most at this very second (the second you read this, not the second i type it)?


ask me anything

have you ever thought about writing novels?

lots of times. but i'm too lazy to do the work required to be a good novelist.

ask me anything

if you could learn any instrument by just picking it up and being amazing at it what would it be?

the lyre, so i can be cool by Bible-time standards. jk jk... i would pick the voice, because for me it lets me express the most (and it's super-convenient).

ask me anything

if you had to choose one, what TV personality do you identify most with?

oh man. Dexter, so easily.

p.s. i even have his kill shirt. ¬_¬

ask me anything