Following Christ: Duty Or Delight?

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I was incredibly inspired by the sermon this morning at Redemption Hill Church. There were so many things packed into one half-hour message it was amazing. The first question posed was a very thought-provoking one: Is following Jesus a duty that you perform or a delight that you have? It’s a very, very good question, and one that I never really gave much thought to.

How many of us have gone to church all our lives and never really stopped to think about why? It sounds strange, but chew on that for a second. I think we can become complacent over time and even start going for the wrong reasons, whether we think it’s just because we’re supposed to or to gain the acceptance of others, or a plethora of other reasons.

I feel that I’ve been this way throughout my walk with Christ for far too long. It’s only been recently, through the sermons and small groups of Redemption Hill, that I’ve really examined myself to see my true motives for why I do what I do. What I’ve found is that for at least the past 3-5 years, I’ve made going to church more of a dutiful thing than a delight. The thing I’ve come to realize is that once you really take a look at how God is working in your life and helping you to become the person you’re supposed to be, you’re filled with a sense of joy unlike anything else in this world. As that’s happened to me over the past month or so, I’ve begun to take great delight in both attending church and striving to live my life in a way that honors God. I have an understanding of myself and of God that I’ve never quite had before, and it’s a beautiful thing.

The next question that was posed was also a good one: Do you follow Jesus hoping that he’ll love you? What difference would it make for you to follow Jesus because He loves you? How is the source of motivation different? This is a powerful question. As human beings, we tend think that if we do more things that please God, He will love and accept us more, when in fact this is totally backwards. Jesus loves each and every person unconditionally, no matter their situation or how much (or little) they honor Him with their lives. The basic message of Christianity is Christ’s love, and this is the foundation of that principle.

Once we fully understand these two questions fully, I think we’re more inclined to delight in following Christ. I know it’s completely changed my outlook. We’re also more inclined to spread the love and joy of Jesus once we realize our glory is secured by the fact that Christ has died for us, and not based on how we follow Him. That’s not to say we shouldn’t live God-honoring lives. That’s paramount, but all too often this is the only message that is conveyed about Christianity. The message posed in these two questions is the one I think needs to be shared more often with non-Christians. Unconditional acceptance and love is the quintessential meaning of Jesus.

Finding A New Church Home

By | life, opinion, spirituality | One Comment

I’d like to preface this post by saying I started going to the church I attended up until this Sunday in mid-2003. There’s no need to mention its name to the masses here on the Interweb because this isn’t meant to be a knock on them. That being said, some of you from Redemption Hill probably know where I’ve been attending. I’d like to share my church history with you all to help you understand what point I’m at in my life and walk with Christ. It’s a bit long, but I hope you’ll take the time to read it.

I’ve considered myself a Christian since I was old enough to understand what it meant, maybe a little older. But only recently have I understood what it means to be a follower of Christ. I’ve grown to understand that Christian and Christ follower are not synonymous, contrary to my thinking for years. Anyone can say they’re Christian, but there are a lot of people that fail to back up this statement with the way they live out their lives. Anyone can “talk the talk,” but a smaller number actually “walk the walk.”

I feel like I’ve been one of those people. Sure, I’ve always gone to church most every Sunday, I pray, and consider myself a pretty good person. But lately I’ve really taken the time to examine myself and my actions, and realized that those things, while good, aren’t nearly enough. Truth be told, I’ve never actually read the Bible in any depth before. That’s probably the biggest thing, and I guess that’s because I’ve never connected with a small group that’s motivated me to take my faith to the next level. Truth be told, it was always difficult to connect with anyone in the congregation at my former church, my age or otherwise. The people always seemed cold to a certain extent, even when I made a concious effort to connect with them. It was just the demeaner of the church, I suppose.

Throughout my half-decade at this particular church, I began to get heavily involved in several ministry teams. I started by running the on-screen lyrics and video in the back of the auditorium. I then transitioned to the multimedia team, where I helped edit videos that the church produced to coincide with the coming week’s Sunday morning message. I found this work very rewarding at first, mainly because I saw how people were touched, and even came to Christ, on various occasions after seeing the end result of our production efforts. But after a while, I started to get burnt out and realized I wasn’t volunteering for the right reasons anymore.

I was basically volunteering my time because I was pressured to do so by others and because I felt obligated. I therefore no longer received the joy that came from seeing how peoples’ lives were touched by our productions. I took some time off from my duties to take a step back and see if it was what the Lord was calling me to do or not. I didn’t get an answer right away, but that didn’t mean He wasn’t listening to my prayers. Everything is done in God’s time, not ours, which I think we all fail to remember from time to time.

To make an incredibly long story a bit shorter, it was when I returned to the ministry that I realized it was not where God wanted me to be. The Technology Director, whom I worked under, and I had major personality differences. He, as well with most leaders of this organization, are very rigid, structured people who focus on putting on a big, polished production every Sunday. I, on the other hand, am very laid back and not into the high-pressure environment that encompassed the church. I also felt that it got to the point where there was much more focus put on aesthetics and putting on a show than nurturing personal relationships with Christ. The church is run very much like a corporate office.

I do realize that the goal of this church is to reach people who have always been turned off to church, never liked it, or would otherwise never give it a chance. At the same time, though, I think too much attention was put on bringing new people in, and not enough was put on fostering growth of those already there. The “turnover rate” that I’ve seen clearly exhibits this.

I started feeling the same way. My soul hungered for more than the church was providing. I even attended a few small groups but didn’t seem to connect with the people or the curriculum. But I still talked with Kamen, who I met when we volunteered together at this church in the video production team, on a regular basis, and he told me about Redemption Hill. Before long I decided to give it a try.

I’ve visited Redemption Hill 3 times, and I just have to say I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. The first morning I walked into Linwood Holton Elementary, I didn’t know what to expect. My family is still attending the other church, so I came by myself, and sat in the back. Not even a minute or two later, three people my age had come by and said hello, and before I knew it there was a whole group surrounding me. These people took me in and treated me just as if we’d been friends for years. It may not be a big deal to people who are used to that simple gesture of kindness, but it meant the world to me. I almost couldn’t believe it, simply for the fact that it was so unlike anything that would ever happen at my former church. At that church, you could attend every week and remain completely anonymous if you so chose. At Redemption Hill, I found that’s not the case, and I really think that’s a great thing. I really want to thank you all for being so warm and inviting. It really gave me renewed hope in what a church could be. I also attended one of the small group meetings at the Goodletts’ home and connected with the group and the discussion immediately.

Over the past month or so since I first attended, I’ve been back to my old church a few times, partly because my family still attends there, and partly because I was still thinking and praying over where I was supposed to be. It meant a lot to me that you guys cared enough to call, text, and send me messages on Facebook asking where I was on those weeks.

I’m happy to say that after that month of deliberation, I’ve found a new church home at Redemption Hill. I’ll be attending every Sunday now. I’m looking foward to entering this new chapter in my life, and I know that God has led me here for a reason. I also look foward to growing in Christ along with each and every one of you. Thanks for showing me the love of Christ with your actions. I’m excited to have finally found a new church home.

XM & Sirius Merge Channel Lineup: My Thoughts

By | business, music, news, opinion, rants, technology | 3 Comments

I’ve been an XM subscriber for a good year and a half now, and have always enjoyed their programming lineup. Well, the rumor I had heard lately, that XM and Sirius were going to merge their channel lineup, came true just two hours before posting this. At midnight, the switch took place. It appears more XM channels were replaced by pre-existing Sirius channels than vice-versa. It makes sense, considering Sirius technically bought out XM in the supposed “merger of equals” as the deal was described. (I’ve personally never understood why XM wasn’t the one buying Sirius, considering their significantly larger subscriber base). I have a lot of mixed feelings about the merger. Let’s get started.

First off, I know the merger of redundant programming on two channels (one on each service) into one channel on both will save the company, currently hemmoraging money, lots of coin. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of many long-time employees at both satellite radio services. I heard the number of people let go was in the hundreds. As far as consolidation goes, I think some of the names of the stations Sirius previously had, that took over XM stations, are silly. I don’t even necessarily listen to the following stations, but they’re relevant examples. Why replace XM’s light alternative rock station “The Heart” with “Sirius XM Love?” Silly name. Then again in some cases neither station’s equivilent station makes any sense. XM’s classic alternative rock channel “Lucy” got replaced by Sirius’ “Lithium.” Go figure either one of those. Some replaced stations do have better names now, though. My favorite station, ’90s & ’00s hot adult contemporary station “Flight 26” was replaced by Sirius’ “The Pulse.” I do like the name better.

I’ve been listening to The Pulse for the past two hours and haven’t really noticed any big differences. I’ve caught a few “new” (to the station) songs sprinkled in, like a catchy track from The Killers I hadn’t heard before, but nothing else out of the ordinary. My guess is the same program director will stay at the reigns, and the only shift will be in the name. The on-air personalities now include two from each station, with the exception of one Flight 26 personality, P.J., who was either let go or was moved to another station. Even the voiceover guy is the same, as I’ve discovered with most other respective channels as I’ve flipped around the dial tonight. The new imaging packages by the voiceover team all say “[Name of station] on Sirius XM] now and come wrapped in a much tighter package, all sounding very quick, snappy, and punchy.

What I don’t get, and don’t agree with, is Sirius XM’s decision to integrate programming lineups but keep channels different on both services. In fact, I think if they’re going to do this, they should go big or go home. What’s the point in having the same channel lineup on both services, yet have different channel numbers for each? I know nothing about exactly how the technology will now be implemented and combined, but my guess would be they could decomission either the XM or Sirius (one or the other) satellites and have only one previous company’s satellites serve the combined subscriber base. It would most definitely save the company a lot of money. Plus, XM’s channel bandwidth could then be used to expand Sirius’. The sound quality on either service has always been questionable. I’ve heard better stereo sound from a cassette tape. The biggest difference can heard when you switch between highly-compressed XM and an insanely-processed, polished-sounding radio station, such as Q94. Using XM’s bandwidth for Sirius’ channels would allow the combined company to allot more bandwidth to each station, effectively dramatically improving sound quality. I’ve heard that music channels are compressed as low as 64kbps (half of what is considered mediocre to good MP3 quality), and some talk channels as low as 16kbps. I can’t confirm this, but I believe it.

Why not just lose the silly Sirius XM moniker and pick one name? I think, for simplicity’s sake, just one should be used. Also, get rid of the channels hardly anyone listens to, like the three French music channels and “The 40s.” How many people do you know in their 80s (that’s how old you’d have to be to reasonably remember music from the 1940s) that listen to satellite radio, much less even know what it is? It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out, and the response from subscribers. We all knew this was coming. The company is looking to bring value to its shareholders by cutting costs, and this was the quickest way to do just that. I think in the long run, after customers such as myself accept and adapt to the changes, it will be a good thing for everyone.

Richmond: This Is Home

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I’ve lived in this city my whole life. I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1988 and haven’t gone anywhere since. Come to think of it, my family has pretty much been here since they came over on boats from England and Denmark. I’m also a direct descendant of William Byrd, the founder of Richmond. Over the past six months or so, I’ve learned, grown, and discovered so much about myself, as well as thought about what the future might hold for me. I’ve considered all sorts of possibilities, but the one thing I don’t think I could consider is ever leaving this city. Now that I’m forming a business centered around the city, River City Media Ventures, I have even more reason to stick around. The city is just part of who I am and what my life is all about.

I spent the majority of both Saturday and Sunday at the Richmond Folk Festival downtown on Brown’s Island, where I took the photos you see in this post. I all the love the multicultural events held around the city such as this one. There’s just so much to do in this city that you can’t find anywhere else. I’m also really into history, and Richmond’s just brimming with it. You can almost feel the tensions of the Civil War and the historic burning of Richmond when visiting Tredegar Iron Works. Richmond means a whole lot to me. Simply put, it’s home.

River City Media Ventures & Downtown Short Pump

By | business, funny, life, movie reviews, music, videos | One Comment

Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. It’s about time I gave an update! I’ve been too consumed with other websites to keep up with my blog, I guess. I’m moving full steam ahead with my community news and information website, Downtown Short Pump. I’ve been trying to write new, original news stories each and every day, going out to the scene when news happens to get the scoop, and meeting lots of new contacts. I just put together an advertising guide, and hope to sell some ad space soon. Everything’s going really well with the site.

Aside from that, work and school have consumed most of the rest of my time. I work every day at the University of Richmond help desk for Attronica Computers, doing warranty service work on IBM/Lenovo and HP computers. It’s not a bad job at all.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on forming an LLC for my budding business, River City Media Ventures. It should be finalized sometime this week. 5,000 business cards are on their way to my house as I write this to give out to prospective advertisers and area residents. You can’t ever have too much promotion!

I chose to name my business based on other services I offer like web design and didn’t choose anything related to Downtown Short Pump because I have plans for many other different kinds of sites in the future. Downtown Short Pump is just the first. Under River City Media Ventures, I’m also offering web design and many other services I’ll announce at a later time. The plan has always been to provide lower cost design services from the beginning, and it’s starting to catch on. As of today, I have eight clients that need sites designed by the end of November!

That pretty sums everything up briefly. I’m gonna try to start blogging more frequently again, so I’ll have plenty more updates soon!

Further Proof That Nothing Goes On In Goochland County

By | FAIL, funny, news, opinion | 2 Comments

This further proves my point that nothing ever goes on in Goochland County. I happened to be reading the Goochland Gazette a month or two ago and came across the county’s Incident Report. The winner for most frivulous call for emergency services? Well, see below. Almost all of these “incidents” (with the exception of a few real medical issues) is pretty silly, in my humble opinion. Either way, I got a good laugh out of it. Here’s a scan of the page:

“In A World” Without Don LaFontaine

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You may not know him by name, but you no doubt know his voice. Don LaFontaine was the voice behind the vast majority of the movie trailers you’ve seen for decades. He passed away this morning from complications related to a collapsed lung, at the age of 68.

Over the span of his 25+ year career, he did voiceovers for more than 5,000 movie trailers and 350,000 television commercials, and is best known for his introductory “In a world…” phrase. No one quite had a voice like LaFontaine’s, and his voice will be missed.

His most recent television appearance was on a commercial for Geico, in which they simply called him “that announcer guy from the movies” because his voice is so widely known and unique.

I’ve always been intrigued by with the movie industry, and voice talent professionals as well, and would love to do some of my own voiceover work one day. Below is a video highlighting his career.

What Would You Do With Just One Month To Live?

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If you found out today that you had just one month to live, what would you do with those thirty precious days? How would you change? What things in your day-to-day life would become instantly unimportant and which things insanely valuable? This is all the focus of a book I just started reading entitled “One Month To Live: Thirty Days To A No-Regrets Life.” It’s written by Kerry and Chris Shook, founding pastors (husband and wife) of Woodlands Church in Texas, a megachurch with more than 15,000 regular attenders.

The book is divided up into daily readings that will help you understand how you spend your time and what’s important to you, as well help you face and then embrace your own mortality, which they say will ultimately set you free to live your life to the fullest and seek out God’s perfect plan for your life.

The most interesting thing I read so far was right in the introduction. It explains that people diagnosed with a terminal illness face their mortality and they instantly live their lives differently, but few people live their day-to-day lives like that.

I’m excited to delve into this book and really feel it will have a lasting impact on my life and help me change a lot of the things I need to work on, like how I spend my time, what my priorities are, and what’s most important to me.

I look forward to posting an update a month from now to tell you how reading this book has impacted my life.

In Remembrance Of “Miss Kitty”

By | life | 3 Comments

My dear next door neighbor, affectionately known as “Miss Kitty,” passed away this past Wednesday morning after putting up a long and brave fight with various types of cancer over the past few years. She was always smiling and very friendly. Her biggest passion in life was tending to her immaculately-manicured garden that encompasses the entire house, and she could be seen outside doing just that from sun up to sundown.

She loved gardening so much that she just couldn’t wait to get started in the morning. I remember many early mornings seeing her outside in her nightgown watering plants, probably because she was just so passionate about her garden, she couldn’t even wait to get dressed first! On that note, I think she has a lot to teach us all about life. You’ve gotta do what you love and find your passions in life. So maybe it wasn’t her occupation, but how many of us can say we have jobs that we wake up to each morning that we’re so excited about that we sometimes go to work in our PJs? Probably not too many.

At Kitty’s request, her ashes will be spread over her garden, and I can’t think of anything more symbolic of her life. She will be greatly missed by all. A snapshot of her sprawling garden and beautiful backyard can be seen below.

Totally Tubular 80s Party

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Even though it was more than a month ago, I still wanted to post some photos from the 80s party I threw for my parents. It was their 25th Anniversary, and I wanted to do something special for them. I worked with our family friend Sue, who lives near Charlottesville, in order to get them out of the house. She arranged for a town car to come pick them up and take them around to different wineries all day while I set up for the party.

It was a great turnout considering how many people take vacations mid-summer, and I really think the entire thing went great. There was lots of great food, great friends, great music, and it seems like a great time was had by all. Here are a few pictures from it, and the invitation I had mailed out.