Wednesday, July 22


14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance 15 but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
- 1 Peter 1:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Lately, God has really been convicting me about Holiness. To be holy is to be set apart. My God, Jehovah, is a Righteous and Just God. There is nothing unclean, impure, or sinful in or about Him. He is perfect in every way, and to be in communion with Him requires perfection. This is why Christ died for us, so that His perfection would cover our imperfection and we could have a relationship with God.
1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,
- Romans 8:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible
To have a relationship with God we must follow Him and obey His commands.
15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
- John 14:15 Holman Christian Standard Bible
21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.
- John 14:21 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commands and remain in His love.
- John 15:10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
And what are His commands?
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
- Mark 12:30-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
- Matthew 28:19-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible
So we see that we are to love our neighbors and share the Good News of Christ's sacrifice with them. Wonderful!

For a long time I felt that to do that I had to put up with some of the impurities of this world so that I could share the Gospel; that to be "in the world but not of it" I had to allow some things in my presence that I might not have otherwise. God has been showing me otherwise.

4 Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy. 5 Or do you think it's without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit He has caused to live in us yearns jealously?
- James 4:4-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Wow. "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?" This really leaped out at me. God has been using these and other passages to make me question what I let in to my mind.

Foul language is the first thing that I'm wrestling with. It's not enough that I not cuss myself, I need to not even think about cussing. I need to look at the movies I watch and the music I listen to and assess it to see "is this really something I want rattling around in my head?"

The next thing I'm wrestling with is humor. What is okay to laugh and talk about? Lewd and crude jokes do not need to be in my head; especially the former. Lewd jokes bring things to mind that I don't need to think about.
2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4 And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5 For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.
- Ephesians 5:2-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The final thing I can think of is imagery. What images am I allowing to pollute my mind? But imagining the things I imagine, what am I choosing to focus on?
28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- Matthew 5:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible

As a Christian, God is calling me to be Holy; to be set apart from the world. It isn't an easy thing to do, but I will do anything for Immanuel. My God suffered and died for me because He loves me; I love Him, so surely I can sacrifice these little things for Him.
8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.
- Philippians 4:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Monday, July 6

Falls Creek

Falls Creek was a good week, but I don't feel like it needs a day-by-day summary like the other two weeks did. During this week, God grew me more than he taught me. I learned better how to love and teach. The most tangible thing I got from Falls Creek was a connection with the youth group of FBC Tulsa; they want me to visit them when I can and I will not be surprised if their youth pastor asks me to help out on youth trips occasionally. They're all really great kids and I like them a lot.

Roadtrip to the Golden Brownies

The camping trip was amazing. I basically “adopted” three sisters, which makes me happy. When I get to OBU I will have female friends with whom I can give & receive hugs, talk with, and spend time with without worry of romance. I love them all. I learned more from the three of them than I did at Super Summer and Falls Creek combined.

Saturday, Day 1
We made camp, ate leftovers, swam, and shared our testimonies. We were very comfortable with each other; there was no awkwardness amongst us. After swimming we went to Wal-Mart around midnight to get some necessities for Sunday and were back at the camp site and in bed sometime between one and two AM.

Sunday, Day 2
After breakfast and quiet time, we discussed prayer together before hitting the showers. That morning we attended Heritage Church in Shawnee. We all really liked it. Their worship music was relaxed and acoustic – it reminded me of Jon Foreman. The preaching was also good. They were going through the book of Acts and that morning was Acts 19:1-7. It was a good sermon. After church we met my roommate, “Beans,” at Taco Bell where we had lunch. Then we went to Wal-Mart and got our breakfast for the week and our dinner for the evening.

Monday, Day 3
This was the first day that we worked with the kids. We were working in a dirty gymnasium with no a/c and only two very loud fans to keep us cool. It was a difficult environment to work in because the noise made it difficult to have casual conversation with the kids and hear what they said. We didn't realize that this was an obstacle until later in the week. We met a girl named Morgan on this day. She was a pretty little girl; I think she said she was a fourth grader. Just the sight of her tugged at our hearts. It wasn't really anything about her physical appearance as much as it was the look in her eyes. She was lost and hurting. By the end of the day, she was smiling and talking to the girls, especially Megan and Chloe. The work we did for the ranch on Monday was pretty simple; Alice and I had to drill fifty holes into two big plastic barrels for a game on Tuesday – the kids were competing to fill the barrels up first – and the other three set up some obstacles – a spider-web like construction the kids were supposed to lift each other through, and a rope they were supposed to all step over while holding hands in a circle.

Tuesday, Day 4
Several of us said later in the week that Tuesday was the best day. I'm not sure there was any one thing that made it that way, I think it was just a really good day overall. The only scar on the day was an incident that happened while we were working with the kids. The whole time we were at the site that day the girl Morgan was getting piggy-back rides from Chloe and Megan. After lunch, Morgan was climbing on to Megan's back for a piggy-back ride when Megan stood up too soon and Morgan fell forward off Megan's back. Morgan split her lip on the gym floor and we walked her home. That afternoon our work consisted of simply putting away some tables and such after the kids left the ranch, and then trimming some trees that hung over the driveway.

Wednesday, Day 5
In contrast to Tuesday, Wednesday was probably the worst day of the trip. It began with Chloe having an upset stomach and staying at the campsite while we went on to work with the kids in Shawnee. After we were done working with the kids we got some limeades at Sonic. We were on our way home when we got a phone call from Chloe letting us know that her car had been hit pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot. She was fine, and her car had only suffered aesthetic damage, but she was a little shook up. That afternoon we worked on cleaning up a horse-trail they created with a tractor. After we were done working we borrowed some bikes and went on a bike ride. Megan crashed on the gravel roads and scraped up her left side pretty badly, especially her left arm. The rest of the week we had to clean and dress one of her cuts several times a day to prevent infection.

Thursday, Day 6
This was the last full day we had with all of us there because Beans had to leave on Friday afternoon. It was a pretty good day. After working with the kids we went to OBU and did our laundry. It took us a while because we didn't get out of there until almost nine o'clock that evening. We had a good time though, the girls did each other's nails while Beans and I just hung out.

Friday, Day 7
Upon the Ranch owners recommendation, Megan went to the Urgent Care on Friday morning to get some antibiotics and Chloe went with her. Beans left the campsite around the same time we did, but we didn't see him again after that because he went back to Missouri after having lunch with a friend in Shawnee. Throughout the week a youth group from Mississippi had been helping with the mission, but they left before Friday lunch so the four of us were split between three sites instead of all going to the same one; Chloe and Megan went late to our regular site as soon as they were finished with the doctor. When we got to the ranch that afternoon, we were told we weren't working that afternoon because it was too hot. We went to the Shawnee Mall that afternoon instead. Friday evening we watched Saving Private Ryan because Chloe (and Alice?) had never seen it, and Chloe wanted to. Chloe and I were the only ones who stayed awake for the whole thing. That night the girls slept on the couches in the TV room and I slept on a bed in one of the guest bedrooms.

Saturday, Day 8
On Saturday, the girls decided they wanted to go to Oklahoma City. Their reason was simply that they hadn't been there yet. So we went to Oklahoma City. We ate Chinese for lunch and then went to a mall and shopped. I think all the girls bought something or other, and I briefly considered buying a hat. After the mall we went to Hobby Lobby so the girls could buy string for friendship bracelets. Saturday night we ate pizzas and watched Slumdog Millionaire at my friends' house – we didn't do it at the ranch because the owners were having a date night. We were tired, and I was the only one who didn't almost drift off at some point in the movie. After the movie my friend – an OBU alum who's lived in Shawnee ever since he graduated – told us that we were building strong bonds of friendship on this trip and that we would continue to build lifelong bonds when we got to OBU, he then regaled us with instances in his own life of friends he made at OBU that he is still in touch with and other friends whom he can talk to as if no time has passed, even though they haven't kept in touch regularly.

Sunday, Day 9
We went to Heritage again the second Sunday. Chloe and Alice both wanted to visit Immanuel but they gave in and we went to Heritage instead. We were late. The irony of this is that if I had skipped shaving we wouldn't have been late, and the girls didn't tell me until after I shaved that they thought I looked older/better when I was scruffy. After church we had popcorn chicken at KFC and then went back to the ranch and packed up our campsite. It took us four hours or so to pack up the campsite completely. After packing up the campsite I think we went to Starbucks before heading back to the ranch. We spent that night – from about eleven or midnight until four in the morning – talking. First I talked to the girls about healthy relationships, romantic or otherwise (of course, it was crammed full of tangents, because all of our conversations are). I did this not because I am wise but because some wisdom has been imparted to me by those wiser than me and I found that much of that wisdom had not been given to the girls, so I passed it on to them. After I was done lecturing, Chloe shared part of her life story and how she had come to live with her mom and step dad rather than her father – the story was long and took about two hours for her to tell entirely. After she was done we went to bed about four AM, as I said before.

Monday, Day 10
We got up around eight on Monday morning and got ready to leave. I believe we all left before nine thirty. Alice went back to Oklahoma City, Megan and Chloe drove back to Missouri, and I met up with the FBC Tulsa youth group to go to Falls Creek.

This log doesn't really tell the full story of the week, there was so much more to it.
The heat index throughout the week was about 110 degrees. We usually spent our evenings in the pool until dark before going to IHOP and hanging out and talking there for an hour or more. We spent a lot of time talking and learning from each other, discussing life issues and wrestling with theological concepts, laughing and cracking jokes, opening our hearts and sharing our minds, and of course there were many other smaller events throughout the week that I failed to mention – either from forgetfulness or for the sake of prose – that helped to make the week what it was. God used us to teach each other that week, and we built bonds of friendship that I think will stay with us the rest of our lives.

Super Summer Oklahoma

I tried to keep a kind of journal throughout Super Summer, but I didn’t do a very good job. I’m not sure how much of it I will be able to transfer here. I was pretty busy throughout each day.

I roomed alone on the same hall as the guys from FBC Tulsa (the church I came with) and some other guys. I had a roommate, but he never showed up.

Our speaker was an Iranian-born man named Afshin Ziafat. His father and all of his family is Muslim, and that is how he was raised. He was a Muslim until he turned about sixteen or seventeen years old, at which point he became a Christian. Two or three of his siblings have since become Christians and he is praying for his father to become a Christian as well. I bought a DVD of his testimony it is a powerful story. He is a very biblical, expositional preacher. He is passionate and insightful.

As it turns out, Super Summer is not a leadership training camp but rather a youth camp for strong(er) Christians. There was some leadership training (Afshin taught a break-out session about David), but for the most part the focus was more on spiritual development and things like that. The schedule was fairly intense. We had a thirty minute break sometime between breakfast and lunch, and about a two-hour break around dinner time, but the rest of the day was packed full of stuff for us to do. We had multiple classroom sessions every day with our “school;” the schools divided by grade, I was in Silver School, for graduated seniors.

The first night, Afshin talked about being content in what God has for us. I realized that night that I have stopped being content with my singleness. It’s something I’m working on. I think I made good progress over the course of the week.

Also on the second day I heard Afshin’s testimony during a break-out session. After sharing his testimony, Afshin filled the second break-out session slot with a talk about the differences between Islam and Christianity. Morally, Islam and Christianity are aligned with each other (that didn’t surprise me), but Islam believes you are saved by works while Christians believe we are saved by God’s grace. Basically, Islam believes that all the deeds of your life are put on a scale and if it tips in favor of the good things, you go to heaven (if you’re a Muslim), and if in favor of the bad, you go to hell. They believe in five pillars of faith: Creed (declaring you’re a Muslim “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet”), Prayer (five times a day, in Arabic, facing Mecca), Fasting (during Ramadan, no food, drink, sex, etc.), Alms, and Pilgrimage (if it’s within your means, visit Mecca; this is very subjective). As has been pointed out, Islam is ultimately a fear-based religion because it is works-based rather than grace-based. Interestingly, Muslims believe that Jesus was a sinless prophet, and that he was born of a virgin. However, there is a controversy amongst them as to whether or not Jesus actually died on the cross. I would tell you a little more about this, but I don’t remember the specifics.

During our evening classroom session (the time of day spent with the other High School graduates in our own room, we had our own speaker and worship leader, and we met there twice a day) on the second day we discussed spiritual gifts. I discovered that my three main spiritual gifts are Hospitality, Exhortation, and Leadership. None of those surprised me (I’d taken a similar, longer test before and had similar results).

On the evening of the second night, Afshin talked about being discontent with where we are in our relationship with God. One of the things he said that stood out to me was that sometimes God gives us what we think we want to show us that it’s not what we really want.

It was on this day that I felt really convicted about my scriptural knowledge; my weak scripture memory and lack of deep study.

On the third day, Afshin spoke about leadership during his break-out session. He used King David as a model for leadership. He spoke of how David’s heart was humble, servile, and faithful, and of how David acted with integrity. It was a good session. Afshin is visibly more relaxed in the afternoon break-out sessions. In the afternoons you feel more like he’s hanging out in your living room or teaching a small group, but in the evenings he’s more like an impassioned camp speaker.

Afshin’s second break-out session was the same as the first, so I went with three girls (Leah Palmer and Sarah Peters will be OBU Freshman this fall, and Kyleigh Colclasure came with FBC Tulsa and is going to OU this fall, they’re all really nice, sweet girls) to a break-out session about Global Missions. It was good, though it would have been a little more applicable to me if I was called to full-time international missions, instead of American missions. Mainly, they spoke on being prepared to go whenever God calls you to go. Their advice was something like this:
• Know your calling “Satan would be happy if we focused on the good things and not the best things.” “We are not called to rock babies. We are called to share Jesus with people. If you need to rock babies to share Jesus, that’s fine.”
• Be an expert student in the Word of God “Always be prepared to give an answer… ” “Never stop learning.”
• Learn to pray “Develop a conversational relationship with God. Pray without ceasing.”
• Start making international friends now.
• Avoid debt & credit cards.
• Get a passport now.
All of which is good advice, regardless of whether you’re going overseas or not. Also, they highly recommended taking a specific History of Christianity college course called Perspectives ( and graduating from College with a practical degree (Business, Journalism, etc.) before going overseas indefinitely. Not only does college life prepare you for being in the world as an individual (they said high schoolers aren’t prepared to live alone overseas), but having a degree gives you an excuse to go in to closed countries (like China and even Italy).

On the third night the Silver School (high school graduates) and Purple School (a separate school for any students called to vocational ministry) got to pray over kids from the Red School (the 7th-graders). We each took one aside and prayed over them and shared with them the things we wished we’d known when we were their age. They gave us five or ten minutes to do it right in the middle of the worship service, with the band on stage. It was cool. We were told that it was all that Red School talked about the following day.

On the evening of the third night, Afshin spoke about Integrity. This is a paraphrase of something he quoted (he didn’t name his source) “Character is the ability to follow through with a decision long after the emotion for the decision has passed.” I like that quote a lot. He talked about how:
• Integrity honors God when no one else is looking – we make decisions in life and those decisions make us. We live in four worlds, our private world (us and God), our personal world (our closest, most intimate friends), our professional world (our co-workers and fellow students), and our public world (strangers with an opinion of us based on our reputation). Character is rooted in our private world, and it shows itself in our other worlds. Proverbs 4:23, 1 John 1:9.
• Integrity honors God when things go bad – David waited for God’s timing to become King, even though he had opportunities to kill or dethrone Saul before then. Hebrews 11:6, Daniel 6:5, Daniel 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.
• Integrity honors God when no one around us wants to.
Of course, he had scripture woven throughout all his lessons, but I’m only including a few of the references I wrote down, and I missed some of them when he was speaking.

On the fourth day during the morning classroom session, our classroom speaker (who spoke mainly on Apologetics, though he told us it’s not his specialty and he usually focuses on other things) pointed out something I’d never seen before: Psalm 22 is a very accurate prophecy of Jesus’ death on the cross. I believe this was the same morning that he told us that Jesus fulfilled all sixty-eight* major biblical prophesies about the Messiah, and all three-hundred-and-one* minor biblical prophesies about the Messiah. (*I might have these numbers a little off, but I know they’re close.)

On the fourth evening, Afshin talked about living for others. He said that some people look at life as if looking at a mirror – it’s all about them – while others look at life as if it’s a window – it’s all about others. He referenced the fact that Paul delighted in the godliness and joy of others (1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, emphasis on v. 8, 1 Thessalonians 2:19). He then went on to talk about how living for others requires:
• Authentic Fellowship – 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11. Your life will not be impacted or impactful in isolation. Relationships must be authentic.
• Authentic Faith – 1 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
• Authentic Love – 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 John 3, and 1 John 4:7-8. We cannot keep love trapped inside us; love must come out of us if it is to be real and authentic. We must love those who wrong us, as well as those who don’t know God.
• Authentic Holiness – We must examine ourselves (which means sometimes looking in the mirror, instead of out the window) to see how we can better reflect God.
• Authentic Passion – Philippians 1:21-26.
Then he went on to talk about a kid named B.J. Higgins. This kid prayed the salvation prayer when he was six, and then came again to Christ when he was eight. He immediately became an evangelist. I don’t remember all of the story, but he shared Christ with everyone he encountered and began going on missionary journeys whenever he could. I’m leaving out parts, but ultimately he ended up dying in a foreign country at the age of fifteen. We were told that he told the nurse in the hospital about Jesus while coughing up blood and being told to stop talking for his own health. Afshin said that some people call his a wasted life because he died so young and could have done so much more, but then he told this story:
A few years later, B.J.’s dad was in Kenya on a mission trip when this kid came and sat next to him. The kid told him that he had been a Christian for two years but didn’t have a bible. God told the father that the kid was going to be Kenya’s next evangelist, and to give the kid a bible. The father didn’t want to because the only one he had was B.J.’s bible with B.J.’s notes in the back. He wrestled with God a while and finally relented. He told the kid what God said to him (the kid got excited) and then gave him the bible. The kid was fifteen years old; the same age that B.J. was when he died. B.J. kept a journal (you can actually buy it I Would Die For You, by B.J. Higgins) and Afshin quoted this “He went through the blood, the least we can do is go through the mud.”

At some point in the night, Afshin spoke of how he’s still trying to win his Muslim father to Christ. He told a story of how a crew that came to clean up his father’s yard after Hurricane Ike (Afshin and his family are from Texas) made a cross from one of the tree-stumps left after the storm. He said that he and his wife (of seven months, he’s still moonstruck) now have that cross in their house, “to present to my father, on the day that…” and his voice broke. I think he almost cried in the next minute, but he went back to speaking and got over it. It tugged at all of us. In fact, when he said that, the entire auditorium gave resounding applause. We might even have stood. It was very touching.

On the last day, Afshin spoke in the morning. His sermon was shorter, and it was about Evangelism, and how God wants all the world to know of Him and His love.

Our worship band for the week was the Chris White band. They were really good. Not just as worship leaders, but also as musicians. I bought their CD.

In the course of the week, I became richer by five t-shirts: I got one dark blue Super Summer t-shirt on the first day for free as the camp t-shirt; I bought the Silver School t-shirt for ten bucks – it’s cool-looking and super comfortable – probably my favorite; I got a green t-shirt from OBU for filling out a survey (it was meant for younger kids without a college selected yet, but they let me do it too); I bought a baby blue Super Summer t-shirt for ten bucks to help pay for a Super Summer Youth Camp in Alaska; and I got a red OBU t-shirt from the admissions office for being an enrolled student (they were giving them out to anyone who filled an admission application).

The youth with the First Baptist Church of Tulsa are pretty cool. I like the guys. One of them impressed me more than the others though. There was a sixteen-year-old homeschooled guy named Daniel. I didn’t get to know him well, but I think that every interaction I saw him in impressed me. To begin with, he’s pretty buff; he’s a football player and he plays with a homeschool team. He’s also good looking; he reminds me of the dark-haired guy from the movie Pearl Harbor. He’s very friendly and personable and reminds me of myself at sixteen, except for the fact that he’s cooler. He’s more stylish than I was at sixteen; he’s more stylish than I am right now, for that matter. I don’t think I ever saw him alone; he was always with someone, usually smiling, laughing, and talking. I wasn’t around him enough to see if he really loves people, but he definitely likes them a lot. He loves worship music. He likes other music too, but he really loves worship music. I heard him talk about worship music several times in the course of the week.

Regrettably, I didn’t get any real quality time with Daniel or any of the other guys in the group, but I like them all and I got the impression they like me as well. They adopted me as a youth group member, and I was the only guy (there was also a girl) “with” their church to be in Silver School, so I was the oldest of them.