a picture is worth a thousand words....

I can only imagine what is going through your mind right now.

My Halloween Costume for 2009.

Any Questions?


The other day I was watching TV and I a commercial came on that I love. It is an advertisement for an Italian food company. The food that they make are so good, it reminds them of the food their grandma's used to make. The commercial starts off with a guy at the table and he sits there with a can tied to a string. He say's, "Ring, Ring. Ring, Ring." The cook on the other end picks up. They start talking about the food, and even though it is a diet food, it still tastes great. This commercial makes me laugh every time.

When I watch that commercial I reminisce of the times when people would tie to cans together with a string and communicate. They would play telephone with this contraption that was made. The vibrations from one person's voice would carry through the string to the other can. You could literally talk to one another around the corner or even from one end of the yard to the other. It was a child's telephone with only one other person.

Communication between people and even animals has been around since the beginning of time. God communicated and the world was formed. The animals have ways of communication. Even today, communication is one of the most sophisticated things that we have. We will never understand the full amount of communication that is out there.

God craves our communication. The tin can on a string is kind of like our communication with God. We talk to Him directly. There is only one other person on the end. He sits there and waits for us to talk to Him, to show Him thanks, to ask for forgiveness, to tell Him about our day. God communicates back. However, the communication God sends to us can be in many different forms. Some we will never see, because we miss the big picture. Other times we see God in huge ways, when we are really in tune with God.

We always fail at communication. In order to maintain any type of relationship, we must communicate. We can communicate on a sub conscience level as well. Our movements in our body, the way we look, how we breathe, all these are other ways to communicate as well.

I remember a time in my life when I said I would pray for someone and never did, or just forgot. I normally would listen to people, say I would pray for them to make them feel better, and then go about my day as if nothing happened. What if God did that to us? What if He just sat there, listened, and never communicated back?

I try to remember this. Communication has failed in parts of my life and has hurt me in others, but I try to make it known what I am feeling at all times. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I try to communicate with everyone and be transparent with everyone I meet. I want to be as real as possible to all those around me.

The commercial campaign will stop eventually and I will find another commercial I love, but subtle reminder of how we can and should communicate with God.

crash (part 2)...

This week has been the most emotional week of my life. I don't even know where to begin. It is kind of out in the open now amongst the people who know me and my family. On Wednesday morning, last week, my father walked into my office and told me he was leaving my mother after 32 years of marriage. There. I said it. Every time I think about it, I get hurt. I feel as though I have been deceived by this and I feel as if my entire world has come crashing down. I feel as though I have hit a tree head on at 85 miles per hour. I am still numb.

Looking back at my actions this week, I was angry. I was saying things I didn't mean. I was thinking the worst of my father, because he is the one who pulled the trigger here. Both my parents are at fault, but in the end, I know that God is still on the throne. Divorce is an ugly word. I never liked it, I don't believe in it, and I will never accept it. I believe that anything can be worked through. It is just hard to see such bad things happening in your life.

I have had a lot of prayers from those who love my family and me. This week has caused me to step back and look at my ministry, my walk with Christ, my relationships and a lot of other areas of my life. This week I have questioned God. I have asked Him why this is happening? Why does He let this happen? It has caused me to search deeper in my faith because of it.

On Sunday night, I told my youth group about my parents divorce. I told them about the struggles I went through and the emotions that I felt. I told them what I saw. I told them how I looked at things. I then took a turn in the message. I looked at Acts chapter 2. The community comes together to help solve a problem of one of the people in the community. When one person has a problem, the whole community comes together, dropping everything they are doing, to find a solution to the problem. I told my students that I am their youth minister, but it is time for them to minister to me a little.

I was never more vulnerable in my life. I felt weak and transparent. There was no hallmark group hug or anything of that nature. The point of the night was to get the students to question God about things that they don't understand. It was a bonding moment with us as a group. Whether or not it effected them in a way that I will see now or never, I know that God used me that night. Maybe I reached one student, but to me that is success.

We tend to get so bogged down in life with the little things. When the next pay check is coming in, a report you have yet to finish and it is due in 2 hours, who is going to feed the dog. There are also times that we get stressed about the small things. Suddenly, when a crash occurs, we tend to let all the small things go, and we take a step back.

The past few days, I have been able to take a step back. I have looked at my actions and my life and have seen where I was to where I am now. I have come down a long and lonesome road in my life at times. When I should have leaned on God, I tried to lean on my own understanding. The life of a Christian is that of submission and death and new life. We submit to the will of God, we die to ourselves, and we have new life in Christ. This is a daily thing we must do to live in the will of God. My friends and family are still part of my life, and I truly believe that God put many people in my life that know Him for a reason. I have a great inner circle of people who hold me accountable for my actions and who love on me when I need it. They know that they will always have that in return.

Life is basically starting over for me. All the traditions I knew are going to change. The holidays will be difficult. Life will have to alternate to the new part of my life. I do know this, God is still on the throne in my life. God is working constantly. He is looking at the actions of my parents, but He is still looking at my actions as well. God has really helped me mature in a week. I feel more empowered by Christ than ever before. I have been able to search my faith, question God, and grow deeper because of it. Don't ever think it is wrong to question God. This is what causes us to find out what we truly believe and this is how we mature in our faith.

I am numb. I will still be numb for a long time. The shock has not worn off. The anger is still there. However, God is still on the throne in my life.
"Out of the muck and mire, my God lifted me up. God picked me up off the ground and led me back to the path. He walked with me, He held me, and now He is guiding me in a new path. The dirt is off my back. My shoulders aren't so heavy. He walked with me, He helped me, and now He is guiding me in a new life. God wept with me when I turned around and saw where I was. God turned my eyes to the light of the world. His son, Jesus Christ. As I walked closer with God, I grew to love Him more. He knew everything about me, and yet He still hugged me. He walked with me, He held me, and now He is guiding me to a new relationship. As I walked with God, He showed me His son. Jesus hugged me. After the hug, I looked down and I was white as snow. I was clean. No more muck and mire around me. Only light and love. He walked with me, He held me, He showed me His son. Jesus and I spoke daily. I told Him what I was doing. He laughed at me sometimes and other times He was sad for me. Sometimes I forgot to talk to Him, but He was still there with arms wide open. He walked with me, He held me, He loves me. Christ's reign is on the throne of Heaven. Jesus is the lord of the world, who saves us all from the muck and mire. Jesus has set my life and my heart on fire. He walked with me, He held me, He loves.....you"- Mark Ashby


Yesterday, my world came crashing down upon me. Without saying any details, the whole image I had of my life and other areas of my life came to a screeching halt.

I am numb. I guess this is how it feels when you have that surreal feeling in you. You just don't know what to do, don't know what to say, you have cried all you can, you can't feel anything anymore. I am depressed, sad, mad, angry, furious, upset, devastated. All the emotions run together. I am numb.

Yesterday, as I sat in my office, I yelled and cried and begged for my life not to change. I sat there in my office chair, broken. I never thought this would happen to me. I never thought that my life would come to such a dramatic halt.

The clouds are grey today. This is very fitting for how I feel. People have been deceived by the evil one. It is time for prayer. It is time for a violent prayer. Times when we know we are going through hard troubles in our lives, people have the tendency to either rely or deny God. I was surrounded by people who love me yesterday. I saw the love of God in so many people. Prayers are being said. God is listening.

The only thing God can do at this point is soften hearts and intervene in lives. Sometimes the shock value wears off. I will not let this rest. This battle that I am about to face, with those closest to me, will be the biggest battle I have ever been in. My life is about to be a full vessel for God to use.

I spoke a lot out of anger yesterday. I was caught off guard. After speaking with many people about my new found situation, the thing I can do now is talk to God personally. I believe for a little bit of time yesterday, I shunned God. How could I do such a thing? How can I turn on the one thing that is now the most constant thing in my life? I had a friend share this verse with me...

Psalm 34:18 (New International Version)

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

What a special blessing that is. God is near me. He heals and saves my crushed spirit. I will never stop learning about the grace and sufficient love of God. He heals me in ways I can never understand.

My God loves me so much. My God loves all. He died for all so that we can open a relationship with Him on a personal level. I trust in God. He has never let me down.

My plea to those who read this blog is simple. We go through hard times. We go through hard trials in our lives. God really tests us and our faith. We question God. Many times in our lives, with our sin, we turn our back on God. God will always be there with open arms. God loves on all. He has experienced what we have been through. He knows our pains, He hears our cries. Love on God and love those who don't know God. We all fall from our paths God has laid out for us. God can be there to help us back on the path.

The Evil One likes to take and deceive those who love God. People have been deceived and it is time to call the evil one out. Even in the darkest room, a light will always shine through the darkness.


Abba. Light of the world. You shine through the darkness. The evil one knows who you are and runs at the sight or even the sound of your voice. Bless me father. Be with those who is being deceived. God we depend on you in times of trials and tribulation. We sometimes forget to bless you in the good times as well. Our priorities get out of focus and we lose our balance on the path that you have laid for us. Jesus, I know that the veil was torn. You did this so we can come straight to you. Heal the hardened heart. Bless the broken heart. Save us from the muck. As we lay here, dirty sinners, your grace makes us new and clean. Have favor upon us, Lord. Be with us. Even the man on the thief on the cross asked for forgiveness. You said to him, today you will be with me in paradise. Father, when I hear these words, and the words of the Psalmist, I know that you comfort my heart. Take this anger and aggression away from me. Help me lean on your understanding and not my own, for I have no understanding in this situation. God my life came to a screeching halt yesterday. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. Your fingerprint is in each of us. Sometimes it takes a ship wreck to learn where we have gone wrong. The ship wreck has happened and now it is time to save the broken. Lord I am yours. use me and love me. Love those who need it most and help me be a vessel for you and your love to pour through onto the hardened heart. I love you God.



It has been over a week since my last blog. Over the past week I was on a vacation with two of my closest friends and met some new people along the way. This week I had a chance to just sit back, relax a little, and just hang out. I was able to see some awesome things, experience things that most people may never do, and meet some people that have opened my eyes to a different way of looking at people.

As I was on the cruise this week, we went to 3 different ports of call. We did lots of snorkeling, fed and held giant sting rays, and lots of other things. The one thing above all else that made my vacation was that of meeting the people at our dinner table. You must be thinking, wow Mark, really? After all the weather and things you did, the people at your table? Yes! They were amazing people from Rhode Island. I think we were sat together for a special purpose.

Mark Batterson writes that things don't just happen. Things that you think just "work
out" are divine appointments God puts in front of you. These 3 people(Gary, Jenn, and Melissa) opened up to us really fast and just meshed so well with the 3 of us. What an experience.

It was during this week, and all the time we spent hanging out, that I continually prayed for them. As I sat there and we talked about our lives, which were very different because of us being from the south and them being from the north, I really wondered how amazing it was that we all got along so well. Even sometimes in our discussions we mentioned the fact that it was crazy how
we just got along right away.

The reason I mention these 3 New Englanders more than the sun, beautiful waters, etc. is because God really opened my eyes to how I view people. These 3 people we
never met before the trip, changed my life. It was a divine appointment with God and Jenn, Gary, and Melissa.

One night, during the week, we started to talk about our jobs or careers, and the question was asked of me, what do you do? I told them I was a youth pastor. I could see their reaction right away. It was from then on that I tried to make it my mission to show them I can be real with them and my title as my job does not define me. What would define me is the love
that I show them despite the title and that the love of Christ would shine through the most.

Towards the end of the week, one of the 3 asked me several questions that were on a deeper level. This person seemed interested in what could be or what I do. I pray for this person a lot now. I hope this person can find what they are looking for.

This whole week was an amazing experience. From the beauty of the earth that I got to
experience to the people we met and became friends with, God really opened my eyes to some wonderful experiences. I will end with 2 things, a story and of course, pictures fr
om the trip.

Before I tell the story, let me preface the story first. One of the big things we talked about between our 2 groups was how we said different things and how our accents really shined through. This made me think of communication and how we communicate to others. It also made me think how I could communicate the love of Christ to these people without shoving it down
their throats to turn them off of God. So here is the story....

There was a man who had a family. Every Sunday this man's family went to church but he
stayed behind. He didn't want to go. They lived in a small town in the north, and worked as farmers during the warm seasons. The man's wife asked him each week if he was going to come, and he said nope! He would rather watch football. Christians are too hypocritical
and they don't want someone like me around. Well the man's family left for church. So the mans sat down in his chair next to the window and turned on the game. Right as he turned on the TV he heard some loud noises coming from his barn outside. He just turned up the TV but the noise got louder and louder. So he put on his shoes, his robe and walked outside to the barn. When he walked
in, he saw a bunch of birds screaming and squawking. He tried to scare them off by screaming, but the birds sat there. He then thought for a minute and went inside and got some bread, and put bread outside the door thinking they would come eat it. Nothing happened and the birds continued to sit there. Out of frustration, the man screamed loudly at the b
irds. He then thought to himself, if I can just communicate with these birds, then they would understand what I want.
If I can somehow reach them and tell them to be quiet, then they would know what I was trying to communicate with them. Suddenly the man had a revelation and fell to his knees. He then
realized that God wants the same of him. If God can just communicate with him so that he would understand what God wants for him.

We must realize how we communicate is the very important and showing the love of God to those who don't know him or have been turned off by something; is
also very important on how we show Christ to others. Maybe I impacted the 3 this week, maybe not. Only time will tell and prayer.

Now for the pics!

weekend rewind...

Man this weekend was amazing! We had so much going on. The biggest thing was the lock in we had with the students. Our group had 14 students show up and we had a blast. Here was what we did:
1. We got there to over 50 students from Griffin.
2. We played a mixer game.
3. We played Sardines.
4. We had a bonfire.
5. We extinguished a problem in the bathroom.
6. We played Capture the Flag.
7. We ate gutter ice cream (see picture below).
8. We went to bed (sort of).
9. Told the story of the homeless man that stayed in the church and scared the crap out of 8 youth.
What a weekend! Sunday night, even better! We had 3 students show up to senior high youth last night and I challenged the students to step up and step out. I also challenged myself. I spoke out of Acts, chapter 2. I lit candles and cut off the lights. It was a very intimate setting. Then I shared a personal story of my walk and where I struggled as a teenager. I then challenged the students to turn the corner of spiritual walks and really get to know Jesus and what He can do.

What an amazing weekend! I am really excited about what God has planned for our group. I will be gone next week due to me being on vacation, and be prepared for a great long blog about that, but until then just know that God is moving whether we have 100 or 3 students. God works through many and few. Where two or more are gathered, God is there also.

God really opened my eyes to a lot of things this weekend. It is time in my life to turn the corner and move forward. In the words of our friend's down under, it is time for a "fair dingem" ministry. This means that it is back to the basics. Building relationships with everyone in sight, showing love on anyone who walks my path, and be genuine. Ed Young, a pastor I hold dear to my heart, said in a facebook update, "Don't try to be someone else. You be you! Because if you aren't you, there will be a hole in history, a gap in God's creative order." We must learn to be who we are. We must be vulnerable and real to those around us.

I was at lunch on Thursday with my mentor Geoff. I watched him interact with our waitress, and he may not remember this but as we were leaving we saw the woman in the booth behind us and she was eating alone. Geoff said hello, asked her how her day was, and then said have a good day. He was intentional. This man is a walking example of Christ. It is amazing to see how God will use just about anybody to change the life of anyone. I pray that God uses me in this manner.
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