Monday, June 4, 2012

Live from New York!

I always enjoyed watching Saturday Night Live. 
Over time I found myself impersonating various characters such as; 
Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar performed by Mike Myers & Dana Carvey 
Mr. Peepers performed by Chris Kattan 
Church Lady performed by Dana Carvey 
Harry Caray performed by Will Ferrell
The Bee Gees performed by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake 

and the amazing host Christopher Walken  

The list can go on and on with all the characters that have caught my eye over the years. I owe a lot of my kookiness to SNL mainly because I quote it so much. If I could run off and audition to become a cast member for Saturday Night Live I would. I love the show and have always wondered if I have what it takes to be a "Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Player". Of course, they haven't used that term since like the 70's but hey! It's Saturday night!!!

Why don't I just go and audition? Well, the tricky part to this desire is that it would potentially place me in a position to do or say something that doesn't line up with my convictions. I have my beliefs to consider. One of the main reasons why I got out of theater in the first place is because when you're in a production you are at the mercy of the script and how the director wants to present it. You have to be a willing to do anything regardless of what you believe is right, wrong, or some where in between.

It's crazy how much our beliefs drive what we do. Sure, we can want many things that don't necessarily line up with what we hold to be true but when it comes to actually doing it--that is where we draw the line. If we stay on our side then we're living in harmony with our beliefs. If we cross the line then we're throwing ourselves out of sync with what we hold to be bigger than ourselves. 

The question of what is truth has hounded humanity for....well, all of time. What is truth? Do we create it? Or does someone else? The answer to that question lies in what you hold to be true. 

Do you believe in God? Does He call the shots? Or.... 

Do you believe in many gods or spirits? Do they call the shots?

---Whoa Justin, where are you taking me with this? I thought this was about how much you love Saturday Night Live and how you always wanted to be a cast member.

I understand but bare with me and I'll guide you through your thoughts to something pretty big. Consider the previous questions as mental stretches to prepare you for what is to follow.

It's important to know what you believe.

I know what I believe but do you?

If you don't know then here is a tip and I'll try to be as impartial as I can.

Before you try to figure out what you want to believe you need to understand these three fundamental principles to finding truth.
  1. When beliefs are being formed they need to be molded by truth. No one intentionally goes looking for something false to believe in—that would be absurd and insane. (Way? way. --Wayne Campbell)
  2. When searching for truth it has to be something that is absolute. It can't involve multiple truths because at that point one is blatantly admitting that absolute truth does not exist and that their viewpoint is the best that "they" could come up with. If there were multiple truths then there would be nothing absolute.(Come on, it's not rocket science, doctor! --Harry Caray)
  3. When you find the truth you might not like it. Why? Well, since it would be the absolute truth more than likely you would have been exposed to it before and all you remember is a bad experience--that would explain why you haven't yet fully believed in it until now. But, since you have sought out truth and have found it you have to understand that truth has to mold you--not the other way around. It may very well conflict with everything that you have lived by up until this point. But how will you respond? Will you allow preconceived notions and experiences hinder you from pursuing truth? (Well isn't that special? --Church Lady)

Here is a fact:

Absolute truth has to be something eternal, something that has always been. We, this current living generation, haven't always been in existence because we weren't even alive over 100 years ago. So, how can we make up something new that just so happens to be absolute? My guess would be that we can’t. I don’t think we’re that powerful.

I'm Justin Hall. Have a good night and a pleasant tomorrow!

Monday, May 21, 2012

From Fear To Courage: Let's Roll!

It was so hard to fall asleep last night. I couldn't stop thinking about Guatemala. For some reason I could not push the pictures out of my mind. I felt very overwhelmed and insecure about everything. After all that God has provided us and all the hard work that Ashley and I have put into raising our funds for the trip I found myself scared and doubtful.

As stated in prior posts, I am anxious and scared about going. However, last night as I tossed and turned in bed I was more scared than anything. The fact that I will be walking on ground zero of human and sex trafficking puts fear into my soul. It overwhelms my heart. All I know is that when I make eye contact with those kids I will want to bring them home with me... to keep them safe from traffickers and their government.

I also imagined myself witnessing a genocide of street orphans, which is far from being "make-believe". What would I do? How would I react in such a terrible, if terrible was a word worth using to describe such a ......horrific tragedy in our world. For a government to think it's okay to sweep their streets clean of overpopulated orphans and to line them up, shoot them in their heads, and bury them in a mass's appalling. It's heartbreaking how easy it can be to see a perfect example of humanity's sinful nature.

I could get caught up in so many reasons why I shouldn't go but I can't. I won't. I have to go. My heart is calling me to. God is calling me to. I have to go.

In order to help Reveal, I have to see for myself
In order to help Rescue, I have to see where they are.
In order to help Restore, I have to see what has to be done.

I don't know how God will make things happen within the grand scheme of His vision for MAG but I know that He will see us through. As a matter of fact, He will see us all through because He has commanded all the children who call Him "Father" to this very mission--to care for the orphaned and widowed! Guatemala is filled with them. The time to make a change in their situation is now.

Regardless to whether or not you consider yourself a christian, we can all agree that lives are at stake here. We never want to see or hear of women or children being used as slaves or sex slaves--but it is happening. The culture and society in Guatemala City has women and children of the low poverty zones stuck in a viscous cycle where selling themselves for sex is the only means of them getting paid and making a "living". That isn't living--that's bondage. The time to start making drastic changes for this demographic is now. They've lived in bondage and worthlessness for too long.

Will it be hard? Extremely.
Will sex trafficking ever really stop? Probably not.

However, as Christ Followers, we are not commanded to simply sit in our pews on Sunday mornings to sing a few songs and listen to sermons that only concern us and our issues to allow that sad realization become an excuse. We are commanded to change the odds for people in the midst of their bondage through the power of Jesus Christ who laid our death in His grave. It's time to share life with the lifeless and to give hope to the hopeless. If you're ready to roll with us then roll with us. Get connected ASAP! We need you.

Click the link below to learn more about us and how YOU can make a difference.

The Magdalene Project

Friday, April 13, 2012

Good Night My Child

This is a poem that I wanted to write for whoever is facing a separation. The effects that divorce has on a family is tremendous. I hope this serves as a way to deter you or someone you know from going through with divorce--unless it's a chronically abusive situation.

Good Night My Child

Good night my love what a day we’ve had.
To say it's good would be an utter lie.
Nothing warned us that we’d fall apart
I thought you’d stay until the day I died.
But now you’ve said what you’ve needed to and now you want to leave with him and leave behind all that our love supplied.

Good night my child what a day you’ve had.
To say its sweet would be a far-fetched truth.
I know you’re sad but please hear me now
Your mother said she’ll always love you.
No, my dear, the fault is ours it was never yours but what is yours is my beating heart, our love will always be.

Good night my love how did it come to this?
I thought our love was made of more than this.
When will your love and faith come back to me?
Please help me understand how this came to be.
So if you ask of me to please forgive I’ll surely do all you ask to keep you here, our baby girl is still awake and she cries for you.

Goodbye my love what a run we’ve had.
I thought I’d never see your love not mine.
What does he have that I’ve never given you?
My vows were more than just clever lines.
But now you’re gone and all the love I have for you is here pushed into the deepest part of where I hardly go.

Good night my child I’ll hold you as you sleep.
I pray your dreams will shelter your sweet mind.
This night I vow to take good care of you and never leave,
Your heart is good;
Oh please believe that I’m here for you.

Good night my child.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shades of White (You Are Beautiful)

So. I was sitting on our couch the other night next to Ashley while she is watching "Say Yes to the Dress." I don't know how I got in that situation. At one moment I was just sitting there managing a few things on facebook minding my own business and then BOOM.... I was seeing women twirling in front of mirrors admiring the different types of white that exists on Earth. I always thought that white came in one color but apparently that is not true. What do I know about shopping for a wedding dress? Nothing. I just know that I loved Ashley's. It was perfect.

Besides shopping and getting ready for one's wedding, what possesses women to want to be beautiful? And why does that fascination drive so many women bananas? Please don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that this is a bad thing or that I am making fun of it. I'm just assessing a widely known phenomenon. Women want to be viewed as beautiful one way or the other. I don't know why women choose to do so many weird things to maintain their beauty but I do know one thing, us men better stop and recognize when our spouse or girlfriend goes the extra mile. If we were to ever stop telling them that they are beautiful then God help us. We will surely die a slow and painful death. Well, maybe not. However, it will cause our relationships to miss out on two very important ingredients. Love and Respect.

For your sweetheart to know that you notice how beautiful they are, they will respect you more. Lord knows that we make plenty of mistakes on a daily basis but to take a break from our stupidity and to wise up with the recognition of their breathtaking looks will save us from crashing and burning. Now I'm not saying you use this to simply get your way because women CAN and WILL smell BS from a mile away. You will only get yourself in the doghouse if you use this as a weapon instead of a tool. What I am saying is that you should take the time to stop and sincerely admire your lady.

She will respect you all the more for your reassuring words. Validation and love is what they need from you. Give them those things and they will supply you with what you need--respect. Before you know it you guys will be connected to one another in such a way that you will be surprised at how much stronger your relationship is.

Do I tell my wife that she is beautiful?
-Not nearly as much as she deserves.

What am I going to do once I post this?
-Um, I think I might go get a smoothie. jk

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thoughts on The Human Experience

If you haven't seen this documentary yet then you should. It is very powerful. As you get closer to the end you will be moved. If not, then you must be a tough guy who doesn't tap into your emotions too much. And that's okay, but please feel free to let your guard down. It's all good.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's Complicated

There is one thing that I absolutely despise: exercise.

Whoever thought of this idea needs to be beaten with a baseball bat! I mean, seriously, what possesses someone to say something like, "Hey, I wonder what will happen when I lay face down and push myself towards the sky repeatedly?" or "You know, I think I'm going to spice things up a bit and lay flat on my back so that I can sit up and lay back down multiple times!" Really? They apparently had a lot of time to themselves to figure all this out. They definitely weren't using their backs out in the fields harvesting any crop or doing the type of labor that leaves a person completely exhausted. They had to be someone of great wealth in order to afford all that time experimenting. Wow. I'm really curious about who discovered exercise. I'm gonna Google it!

History of Exercise according to Wikipedia
The benefits of exercise have been known since antiquity.  

Antiquity - any period before the Middle Ages (476-1453), but still within the period of human history or prehistory, the classical civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome:

Marcus Cicero, around 65 BC, stated: "It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor."

However, the link between physical health and exercise (or lack of it) was only discovered in 1949 and reported in 1953 by a team led by Jerry Morris. Dr. Morris noted that men of similar social class and occupation (bus conductors versus bus drivers) had markedly different rates of heart attacks, depending on the level of exercise they got: bus drivers had a sedentary occupation and a higher incidence of heart disease, while bus conductors were forced to move continually and had a lower incidence of heart disease. This link had not previously been noted and was later confirmed by other researchers."

Well, it doesn't tell us who invited it or discovered it but we do know who associated it with physical health, Dr. Jerry Morris. Well, thanks a lot Jerry!

Nah, I don't hate exercise that much but I do have a "love hate" relationship with it. I don't enjoy the feeling I get when I think about it prior to the workout but I do appreciate it when I'm done. Endorphins are released in my brain and I have so much energy to get me through the remainder of the day. As a matter of fact, the song that I am listening to right now comes to mind after a workout, Good Life by OneRepublic. The sun shines a little brighter and the songs sung by the birds are all the more delightful.

Why do I feel this way? Is it the endorphins? Is it the song Good Life?

Nope, it's because I know that I don't have to exercise again for that day!!

Love-hate relationship, I tell you, love-hate relationship! Our relationship is complicated.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Mind: Fully Loaded. (Good Night)

I can't go to sleep right now! I have so much rolling around in my mind. There is so much I want to do for others that I can not contain myself. The fact that more and more people that I am growing to know are getting closer to finding out who Jesus is, what He was all about, and why He died makes me so excited. As the Pentecostals would say, "I'm gettin' fired up". So, trying to go to sleep right now is proving to be a hard task. So, in efforts to release some of this excitement from my system I'm going to just blurt out some of my thoughts-- because I really need to go to sleep here.

There is so much exciting developments underway within the Families Ministry @ Genesis Church that it makes me want to just boast for all the wisdom that God has bestowed upon many leaders in today's church planting movement. Normally, I'm not the boasting type but in this case I can't help but boast in God's infinite faithfulness and wisdom. There is so much that can be learned and taught in today's modern church. (Modern may be a poor term to use but it's right before midnight for me right now, just bare with me)

The fact that there are growing numbers of churches working hard to make it easier for more and more people to gain access to the gospel of Christ makes me want to do nothing else but join in their efforts. I love people. And I love to see people loved and pointed in the right direction (towards a genuine relationship with God). The fact that Christ called you and me to simply love and NOT to change people (because that's not our job) makes me happy. Why? Because I'm capable of that. It's in my WIRING!! I can't change anyone, if I tried then I would make one "Hell"-of-a-mess. If that was all I tried to do with everyone then no one would want to be my friend except for the perfect Christians in my life (I call them my "Imaginary Friends Who Don't Exist". I always try to compare myself to them. As psychologists always say, "You are your own worst critic") After all, Love is easy....especially when there are no strings attached. (Strings can be found within the track record of most included)

As a closing statement, before I get too random in my thoughts, I am just thrilled to be in a position to grow. To grow in my personal life and to grow in my vocational life. I have grown to love learning. I have grown to love reading and writing. As a matter of fact, I am growing extremely tired just by thinking about it. My eyelids are growing havey and I don't tink I'm gonna finish this senten

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let Your Love Shine.

Tears will be cried as the children are numbered.
Pain will befall as little lives are all murdered.
But let this song ring to the left behind mothers,
That love is still here somewhere in your bride.
Oh, let your love shine. Oh, let your love shine.

When no one else cares that your truth is made known.
Lord, give us the strength to go where others won’t.
Cause this life that we live was bought from your right hand.
Lord, help us take back what was stolen from you.
Oh, let your love shine. Oh, let your love shine.

When will your bride pay the price that it takes to follow?
Lord, help your church chew what it is we can’t swallow,
For there is work to be done that can’t wait for tomorrow.
Oh, let your love shine. Oh, let your love shine.

The explanation.

I am a part of a Nonprofit Organization called The Magdalene Project [MAG] that is working to fight human trafficking worldwide. But right now we are focusing all our energies toward one location, Guatemala. As a matter of fact we will be going this July to deliver supplies and One Hope Bibles to a halfway house where women and children live. It will be mine and my wife's first trip to Guatemala and we will be exposed for the first time to the horrible conditions that sex trafficking has made in the high poverty zones. We don't know what to expect but by what we've been told it will be a sobering experience.

As the poem mentions, genocide is used as a means of keeping the homeless population low enough so that the government can proudly say that homelessness isn't an issue. This process does not exclude women or children. They are actually the prime victims of genocide.
I've heard that the culture in Guatemala is so jacked up that even the "Christians" who live there don't even notice the problem with human and sex trafficking. They don't understand that the Christ that they worship on Sundays is the same Christ that taught about love and taking care of the widows and orphans.

I don't know where you are in your faith, or that you even believe in God, but know that there is a responsibility that falls on the church. The responsibility of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people no matter who or where they are and that love is the number one message that needs to be portrayed in that presentation. When Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment during the last supper He told them to love one another. He explained that this is how everyone would recognize that they are His disciples. So, if we want the world to know who Christ is we have to start loving one another. And right now Guatemala needs to know who Christ really is. They need love and hope. And the only one who can mend what's been broken for them is Christ's love through us. Yes, the church has dropped the ball in this area a lot but now is not the time to sit around and point fingers, it's time to act. So act.

If you're interested in getting involved with The Magdalene Project please feel free to visit the above facebook page.

More posts to come about [MAG]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Open Eyes

I close my eyes and I see home, the place where I grew and the people that I knew.
I open my eyes and I see home, a new place where I grow with people I’m soon to know.
I close my eyes and I see my Mom and Sister, the women who made me this person I am
I open my eyes and I see my wife, the woman who absolutely loves this man that I am.
I close my eyes and I see my Dad, the man who showed me the way.
I open my eyes and I see myself in the mirror,
So much like my father, oh how I see it clearer.

So much I want to do to show that I understand
I am only here by the love and grace that I found in your hands.
I am who I am for many good reasons.
If not for love, life would only be time filled with seasons.
I open my eyes and what do I see but a future worth living as the man that I am.
Thank you to my Mother and thank you to my Father
I’ve made it this far but just you wait I’ll make it farther.

To my wife who’s the best of me this is what I know,
You said that you’d follow me no matter where I go.
The love that you give fits me perfectly.
Only God would have known that it was you that would complete me.
To the life that we’ll have in the years to come, just knowing that you’re mine gives me peace that overcomes.

To my family and my beautiful wife, thank you for all your love.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hope: More Than Just Our Wishful Thinking

Have you ever stopped to think about the word hope? And how much we use it? It's a interesting thing to think about. Whether it is through the spoken word or simply in our thoughts we use it constantly. I have caught myself multiple times hoping for various things ranging from a small "I hope I have enough change to get a sausage dog on the way to work" to a big "I hope I don't loose my job today." Regardless to how big or small our hopes may be to us or other people, it goes to show how much we are all wired to act and think along the terms of hope.
The important thing to realize about hope is that it is crucial to have when we are facing big, real life situations. But it can't just be any type of hope--it has to be a hope that is durable, long-lasting and strong. What would it look like if we didn't have that type of hope? Well, here is a true story that will shine some light on this issue.

Major Harold Cushner was a POW – a Prisoner of War – in Vietnam.  He was describing the hopelessness that happens in prisoner of war camps.  Specifically, he was talking about this one 24-year-old marine.  This marine, when he was captured, he decided that he was going to give in to the Viet Cong.  He was going to cut a deal.  So this 24-year-old marine said this, “If you promise to let me go, I’ll do whatever you want, and I’ll cooperate with you.”  They said, “It’s a deal.”  This young marine did everything to cooperate.  He was a model prisoner.  He was even a leader in the camp’s thought-reform program.  But after a while it, became clear to him that they were lying to him.  They were never going to let him go.  Major Cushner described what happened to him next.  He said, “This young Marine became a zombie.  He refused to do any work, and he rejected all offers of food and encouragement.  He simply lay in his cot, sucking his thumb.  In a manner of weeks, he was dead.”  He goes on to say, “If there was one word, a one-word cause of death of this young Marine, it was hopelessness.” 

The fact that we need hope is okay but the point is that we do not need to create or allow a false hope to influence how we cope with your circumstances. It's just that we need to depend on a hope that will never leave us and will never run out. Luckily for us, that type of hope exists. And it can be found in God. The cool thing is God isn't going anywhere. He is for you and not against you. He wants you to have hope. As a matter of fact, He is hope.

In Paul's letter to the Roman church, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

So, if we need hope and God is hope then what does that say about our nature? That we instinctively need God? or what?

It's just a thought to think about if you haven't already thought about it. I just know that hope has to be more than just wishful thinking, ambitious dreams and optimism. The reason being is that when we desperately need hope it has to be based off of something more than our own thoughts. Perhaps hope should be based more on the One whose thoughts are higher than our own.