Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

“Old friend(s)”

Sidewalks, beaches, cliffs & more/
Challenging each other to all out war…
Walking to your houses around the block/
Late night hikes, a scare plan to shock…

Growing up and seeing so much change/
In us, in life, in our group – it can be strange…
We’d stay best friends forever, all of us would/
But I think it’s better that we didn’t, even if we could…

I’m so glad you’re still here today,
I can simply reach out with something to say
& you’d be there for me, like you were for years,
Always ready to laugh or with open ears.

Sometimes, I get sad that we’re so close yet
So far. But I get to watch & smile. Cause we met
& my life was saved because of you –
My childhood, teenage, lifelong crew.

And all the breaking, fighting, laughing, changing we’ve been through –
I can’t wait to look back, recount it, to hold, all of you…
In heaven (of course) when we’re done doing what we’re bred for,
When we’ve finished our race & when we’ve won.

2017: Experiencing God

2017 was a whirlwind year full of a lot of change. There were times when I was depressed, joyful, hurting, excited, hopeless, hopeful, etc. However, I don’t want to write about those emotions necessarily. Currently, I am in a discipleship with Greg and he always has this famous question: “Where is the Lord at in this?” It’s a great question that anyone should ask their friends or consider for themselves. So often we go through everything in life and all we can think about is the here and now. Everything is about me. The “big picture” is simply out-of-sight. God is out-of-sight.

For example, perhaps someone is in dire need of a job but cannot seem to lock one down. They might ask, “What’s wrong with me? Should I give up? I’m just a terrible interviewer.” The question should be asked, “Where is God at, in getting this job? What is He trying to show me? Is God trying to work on my character in some way?” Maybe you are having a tough time in a relationship and things just aren’t working. It’s very easy to just think about you and the other person. Nothing else matters. How can we fix this? How can we make things right? The better question would be: How is God working in our relationship? Is he even working in this relationship? What is God teaching me in this relationship?

When Greg asked me the question, it started to make me think more about God and how his hand is active in my life. It helps you understand God’s true character. Sometimes when people say they don’t want to follow the Lord, some will say “it’s just too hard”. Perhaps they feel that God is cruel or doesn’t care. This is a sign that they are unaware, or have forgotten God’s character.

I want to share just a few of the things the Lord has shown me this past year regarding his character. Of course these are things I have to still remind myself of all the time. I’m in no way a master of God’s character now or something. But if you are reading this, I want to encourage you to think about God’s character.

God loves failures.

I hate failing. I’m a control-freak-perfectionist and when I screw-up, I get angry at myself. God has shown me that failure is okay; multiple times this year. God has been working with failures since Adam and Eve. Why am I any different? One of Satan’s biggest lies is that God won’t use failures. Failures are useless. It’s so untrue. Look at pillars of the Bible like Paul and David. We all know both of these dudes were major screw-ups. Yet, the Lord used them in powerful ways!

Psalm 40:2-3 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

That’s what he does. My good bro Adam E commented recently on an Instagram post of mine mentioning “The ministry of brokenness”. That has a far more relatable ring to it than “The ministry of perfection” does it not? The Lord wants us to be okay with failure and come to Him when we fail so that he can show us His power.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Can you look at your failures with a smile and praise God for how he worked through it? Can you be okay with your imperfections so that God’s power can work? Do you look at failure with shame and self-loathing? Where is God at in your failure?

God is the only one worth worshiping.

We as humans put stock in so much on this earth that will, in the end, fail us. Whether it be a career, school, a spouse, a romantic relationship, a friendship, you name it. We all have our idols. For many years I thought that my idols and God could coexist just fine. In my own head, it worked. The Lord made it explicitly clear this past year, that it doesn’t work. It was a very difficult thing to accept at times.  Regardless, we cannot deny the fact that these things we idolize just don’t deserve the same worship God does.

I love Job 38-41 as it has a very long rhetorical interview between God and Job. I encourage you to read it. It’s quite funny actually. In essence, God lays out his resume and Job barely knows what to say. It’s funny when we try to tell God, that he’s wrong or that we know what’s best. We might not say it outright, but when we have an idol, we are essentially saying, “this will fulfill me more than you Lord.”

Have our idols created the heavens and the earth with words? Have our idols resurrected from the dead? Are idols free from imperfections? Can our idols care for nearly 7.5 billion people at the same time? Do idols remain the same overtime? The answer is no.

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God is graciously patient.

I get pissed when someone doesn’t move at a green light a few seconds after it has turned green. I give them the good ol’ “bipp”. It’s a beep that’s not quite a beep because beeps are rude in America. Just a friendly “bipp”. Something I’ve seen with God this past year is how freakin’ patient and gracious he is with people regardless of what the situation is.

It’s so easy to put God on the back-burner sometimes. We start dealing with things coming our way, and don’t even give God a thought longer than 30 seconds. If a friend doesn’t talk to you for a while because they are selfish, it hurts. I think to myself, “What happened to our friendship? What’s their problem?!”. When we pull that on God, he says, “It’s cool. I’ll wait for you. I want to give you good things. So whenever you want good things too, just let me know.”

God really showed His patience and grace in my life this past year. He gave me a fresh start in multiple ways. I hurt some people and screwed-up quite frequently. Still do! On the other side of that, I’ve experienced so much forgiveness from people I’ve wronged. I know God’s at work there. I’ve experienced grace to levels I don’t feel like I have before. Raw-undeserved grace. Something I’d like to mention is the home church switch that occurred early last year. Coming into Smash, I was under the impression this would be a temporary move so that I could “get my shit together”. While some of that is true, it is just the start of what was one of the coolest gifts in my life.

About 9 months in, working in Smash has been life-changing. I can clearly see how masterful the Lord is. He put people in my life who are different. He put challenges in my life that I’ve never had to face. He gave me MORE relationships with new people that I love and cherish. He has shown me the power of prayer time and time again. The list goes on. I love Smash and it’s my home church now. If the Lord wills it, I’d love to be in Smash for a long time….until we split again of course!

I know many others who have experienced this type of grace this past year also. It’s just really sweet to see that happening.

2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Anyways, here’s to a fruitful, growth filled, failure filled, and grace filled 2018!!!

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2017 – woah…

 

What a year. What – a – year! I look back at 2017 in total shock & awe. WHAT just HAPPENED? First of all – it flew by. My 25th year of life made me feel very old, but very young at the same time. And talk about HILLS and VALLEYS! Oh my… There were SO MANY ups & downs. I can’t believe it! I really, really can’t. 
Here are a few highlights (& lowlights?):
  • We went to Israel! – Definitely one of my favorite memories. Fun, emotional, educational – this trip really was one unlike any other. To see where Jesus walked was an honor & a privilege. It really solidified the person of Jesus (as Paul Miller would say.) I learned a lot, too. Being a visual person, it’s crazy to see God’s words alive – literally! Even today, seeing the nation of Israel really helped me understand so much of his word. 
  • We bought a house! Yeah, that’s right. And looking for a house in itself had a lot of lows. It revealed my character… It wasn’t fun. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But then, actually moving into a home with my husband to start a life in a neighborhood where we will raise a family that will, god-willing, be grace soldiers is actually very exciting. And our house is awesome & cozy. I love having people over, I love being able to feel at home & I love having a spot to grow with Zak to lay the foundations for what is to come. 
  • I was depressed for 7 months… Oddly enough, I literally can name the day it started & the day it ended. It was like a cloud hovered over my mind, weights were on my arms, & a rope around my throat. That’s how I felt & functioned for 7 months. Every day I was on the verge of tears, I was utterly hopeless. It wasn’t like any other depression I’d been through in the past. It wasn’t self-inflicted… It was pain. And loss. It was an inability to understand certain situations – losses, failures, setbacks – truly painful, hopeless things that happened in ministry & in my personal life. Basically, I got to the point where I was no longer clinging to Christ, I only had one finger tip on him while I was completely turned away. (All the while I was trying desperately to find a reason to turn back.) 
    • But, in July, I was freed from depression! It’s true – one day, it stopped. I’m still unsure of the exact reasons for when/why/how it began/ended/was, but I know this: I wasn’t believing that God was working in my life. One of the things that freed me from my depression was actually living in full trust that He was there & He was all I need. It sounds so utterly simple – that’s because it is/was. I got to a certain point that I had certain expectations of how God should look, what fruit is, & what it is to grow… When those things weren’t happening & when the opposite started to happen, I lost it. “How could God leave me here? I must mean nothing to him. I must be the stupid, useless bitch I & everyone thought I was all along. Why even try. Life is meaningless.” – Thoughts I had every day. (Yeah, still as dramatic as always.) Anyway, the moment the depression was lifted, the moment I had a joy in my heart that has literally not gone away since July. It’s unreal. It’s like nothing in the world could take me out as long as I know God is with me & I am His. Like – WOAH.
      During this time I had the privilege of studying 1 Samuel in IP. I got to teach one of the craziest stories of David’s life – 1 Samuel 27-30. Everything is falling apart for David (once again, but this time, he really did it in for himself.) Then, this happens: (30:6-8) 

David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God. Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?” And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”

From these verses, even after everything David did, he finally turned to God for STRENGTH & then for GUIDANCE. So, I started doing that. Everyday, I’d pick up the Word & ask God the same two things: 1. Can you please strengthen me w/ your power today? 2. Can you please give my your guidance? (NOT mine, not what I think or how I think it should be… YOURS.) It’s been wonderful.

  • I celebrated my one year anniversary with the most sacrificial, patient, wonderful man I have ever met – my Zak! He’s truly been the more amazing than I have ever imagined. The daily tiffs & miscommunications are interesting, but we’ve become a team. To be known by someone & still loved is truly awesome. I thank God for Zak & for how much more God loves & knows me.
  • I made it through one year of working for IGL! I love IGL. But it’s been a battle for me to give up certain things in a career shift like this. I complain about it all the time when in reality, I have been blessed to work for an organization that is doing such amazing things AND I get to work with some of my best friends!
  • New people came into my life! The first was through our Discovery Group – it’s a Bible study, but rather than being taught what it says, people who are curious can come to the Bible & find the answers themselves. We did this last year, too, Jeri & I. It failed. By the end, we started with 6 & ended with 2 – the two of us. But this year, God has brought us a bunch of ladies who want to know more about him! It’s been SO CRAZY to see what his word does! Literally. We just show up, open the Bible, & the Spirit freaking moves! A couple girls started a relationship with Christ this year through this little hang out time! Wonderful. Also, my longtime friend accepted Christ! She then proceeded to give up her lifestyle of leisure & partying in Florida to move to Ohio, move into a ministry apartment & join our discovery group! It was an amazing miracle I had no part in but have been able to take great joy in. Lastly, I was invited to join the middle-school ministry. I love them – I love seeing how perceptive they are to real life even though they’re so young. I love seeing God speak to them. Even though it’s just beginning, I can’t wait to see what else God does through these girls.
Here are a few takeaways: 
  • I am powerless.
  • I have peace.
  • God is a great best friend.
So, yeah. It’s been a crazy year!  I hate New Years Resolutions, but I do have some goals I want to be talking with God about:
  1. Think of myself less. Love more.
  2. Become less materialistic.
  3. Read more. (Thinking of instead of doing a poem a month, rather publishing book reports on my blog. This would be very anti-Elli, but would be a good way to visualize goals. Idk.)
  4. Have a more grateful heart.
That’s it! Here is to 2018 – “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
Thank you so much, Father!

December

Sadness

It is there.
As I mask it with ribbon & tape,
It lives.
As I use these gifts & song to cope,
It prevails.
As I wish & wonder & hope,
It doesn’t go away.

It’s still there –
The fact that life… sucks.
It hurts. It squashes. It burns.
People pass & they… hurt.

Such a small word for something so…
Mighty. So altering, so meaningful.
Hurt.
Oh, the pain they feel – I feel.
I wish I could take it away!

But it won’t go away.
Maybe it will & then –
It comes back! Something new
To torment them.
And it sucks.

I wish I had the words for them,
For me.
Yet as I see the pain many see,
Sometimes it doesn’t sting.
Sometimes, I can smile.

Sometimes, I can breathe.
I can take in the beauty around me
Without seeing the death.
I can hear the sweet songs
Without the sad notes.
I can be rid of this prevailing reality –

And be consumed in a warm, never-ending embrace –
One shoulder I can cry, whom strokes my head,
As he wipes every tear from my eye,
He says he’ll get me through the pain,
And bring me to the end.
Where joy lives and where he conquers death.

(Those are the words I have… Thankful for the Prince of Peace sent to the world to rid it of all the sadness – someday – and presently, to give us hope & peace while we wait for eternity.)

November

Nothing out there for me

Trying, trying, trying to find

Something, something, to fill my mind.

 

With no answers, there is no end.

With no answers, what can be said?

 

Making up what I can to satisfy

The wants of my open mind.

 

But nothing will fill that gaping hole

That tries and wants and needs full.

 

It’s all just nothing out there,

Where they claim to bear

…nothing.

Camouflaged Darkness & Incontestable Light

Darkness

It’s that time of year again when I put my hunting clothes through a wash of unscented detergent and take to the woods with my pal Corey. It’s a later life sport/hobby that I have picked up, and I really have come to enjoy hunting. The point of camouflage clothing is to be virtually unseen. Deer are hyper-aware of their surroundings and have a great sense of smell. It is imperative to blend in with your surroundings both visually and audibly. Sometimes this is difficult when your hunting buddy smokes cigarettes while hunting, but that’s beside the point.

Hunters aren’t the only ones that use camouflage to hide themselves and what they are trying to do. It dawned on me after my recent business trip to Las Vegas that this is essentially Satan’s modus operandi in America. Camouflage. So much of what he does day to day is not always obvious. It can be very covert. We can also end up being manipulated into believing that nothing sinister is even afoot. We must remember 1 Peter 5:8.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”

Even in the “City of Sin” Las Vegas, Satan operates under a clever cloak of camouflage. The first time my company sent me there, I was naive and not really in a great place spiritually. I knew the dangers of that place just from what I had heard, and many people warned me of what it offered. Despite that, I went to Vegas completely unaware of what was going on around me. I was enamored by the beautiful skyscrapers, lights, party lifestyle, and cars (I go there for a car show). While I don’t think I dove into a intensely regrettable Vegas experience (Thank God), I most definitely let my spiritual guard down and basically took a spiritual vacation in 2016.

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Vegas is like a machine. It draws people in and churns them out on the other side. The machine operator (Satan) sits there and happily runs the show. I went to Vegas again this year and this insight was much more evident to me. My brother took his first flight out half way through the week to spend the majority of time there with me. It was a blast with him being there! We got a first-person view into Satan’s camouflaged machinery together and we got to discuss it and pray about it!

You get a true sense of the sadness and depravity around you when it comes to people watching. When walking through the casinos we saw 1000’s of slot machines. At many of these slot machines, you will see people that look like the cast of The Walking Dead pressing buttons over and over again hoping to hit big. I didn’t see a single person hit big. I only saw a bunch of sad faces. Then you’ve got the higher stakes gambling like poker and blackjack. Even there you don’t see many people smiling or even seeming to enjoy themselves. Everyone looks serious and stressed. I tried my luck on the blackjack table and found myself having a hard time having good fun to be honest. I’m very pessimistic when it comes to gambling..

On every corner of “the strip” in Vegas, there are people wearing neon colored shirts with the words “orgasm clinic” written on them. These people have the job of handing out Las Vegas’ famous “trading cards”! Just kidding, they are “escort cards” for your next 1 night stand. Sometimes these cards are just thrown into the streets for anyone. As sad/depraved as that is, my brother and I couldn’t resist having some fun with it. Every time they tried to hand my brother and I a card we would both say “Jesus” or “what about Jesus”. I am not kidding when I say this, but some of these people quite literally retracted in horror when we said that. One of the guys said, “I know about Jesnuss. He wrote Genus”. To translate, I think he meant to say, “I know Jesus, he wrote Genesis”.

Light

My brother and I are pretty outdoorsy guys and love to hike. Personally, I’ve never traveled out west to camp or hike. Ryan has gone to Colorado before. Regardless, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and see some of the awesome sights near Las Vegas. We visited the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon National Park. At the Hoover Dam you are hit with the vastness of Lake Mead and the significant drop of the Dam into the river below. I think I can speak for my brother and I and say that, what was truly beautiful, was the national Park area.

We stopped at one of the trails and hiked up about a 1/2 mile or so to an overlook. It was breath-taking. Miles and miles of red mountains, canyons, and desert plants. On the overlook there was about a 300 foot drop and there were some folks rock climbing on the side of the mountain we stood on. We sat down to just experience the view for a little while.

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Once we became a little thirsty we got some water and went further into the park. We traveled in our little Mazda Miada we had rented along a 13 mile loop that wove in and out of the canyons. Every mile or so would be a pull off for hiking trails. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop much because you can only do so much in one day! The views were yet again, mind blowing. It was about 75 degrees out with a cool breeze. The air was fresh. I really felt peace and joy on that drive with Ryan.

It dawned on me the stark contrast we were observing. While Vegas is truly an impressive sight to see with all of its lights and structures, it literally cannot even contest with God’s creation in nature. It actually made Vegas seem even more pitiful. It’s like God told Satan, “I see what you did there. Your city is pretty cute, but check this out…” That’s how I like to imagine it at least. I think it would do some people well to get out into God’s creation in nature more often. Take a prayer walk on a trail in a park or go somewhere with your friends. Let God impress you.

I was studying for a teaching I did for some youths at a Juvenile Detention Center yesterday and we were going over John 1:4-13. These kids know darkness exists. They even said, “Man, that’s why we here…darkness”. There is so much darkness in this world. We are all surrounded by it, not just kids in juvey. I am so grateful for our savior Jesus Christ. Without our savior we would be consumed by darkness. Christ gives us the opportunity to see the light and experience real LIFE. He IS the Life. He offers that life to the lost people in Vegas, the kids in juvey, and you and me. All Christ asks from you is to receive Him and believe in His name. John 1:4-13

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Thanks for reading,

-Jordan

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A Brief Guide to “Evidence Unseen”

Many of us by now have heard of James Rochford’s website “Evidence Unseen.” If you’re like me, you’ve used the Columbus Xenos Elder’s website (or book) in the past for articles/sections like apologetics, comparing world religions, the Case for Christianity, or Theology questions. These are all great resources that I highly recommend.

However, the point of me writing this short guide is due to a different area of the website. I was stumbling along his website recently and found an entire section I had never seen before. So, let’s get to it. First, click on the tab Bible Difficulties. The home page of this section itself explains in detail 10 principles of Hermeneutics, or how to study and interpret the Bible.

There is also a section in the “Bible Difficulties” tab for both Old Testament and New Testament difficulties. These sections are full of numerous, specific common questions we may ask when reading through God’s Word. Not only that, but each question is a link you can click and find a succinct, Biblical answer to said question! For example, in the NT Difficulties section, under “Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians,” scroll down to Romans 5:12, 14. If you click that link, you will find a detailed answer to the question: “How can God judge all men for Adam’s sin, when it wasn’t their fault?” This is just one of many, but I wanted to highlight how specific the website gets and how useful it can be for all the questions we or others may have.

Moving on, if you go back to the top of the website and hover over the “Bible Difficulties” tab again (top right) you will see two sections titled “Old Testament Survey” and “New Testament Survey.” This is the section that got me really excited. Rochford wrote a guide for using these sections: 

“Before studying each book, read these short articles that give an introduction and background. In each article, the reader will find information regarding authorship, historical background, theological themes, and a teaching rotation. Additionally, the reader will find a series of discovery questions that are helpful for teaching and leading discussion.”

In other words, these sections are essentially free and fairly exhaustive commentaries on every single book of the Bible. At the top of each book’s page, for example, Acts, there is a detailed explanation of the book itself (covering authorship, date, historical background, theological themes, emphases, etc). Then, if you scroll down (get used to scrolling on his website- each page is long), you will find a verse-by-verse commentary for the book. Not only that, but at the end of most chapter’s commentary he either has a section on Application or Discussion Questions. These sections are awesome for just thinking through a passage in depth or for preparing to teach.

There is probably a lot more to Evidence Unseen’s website than I have detailed here, but it would take days upon days to read through just the Old Testament and New Testament Survey sections alone. This website could be so useful for getting into the Word, answering questions, and helping other people do the same. After buying many costly commentaries myself, I am amazed that this resource is so exhaustive, relevant, detailed, and best of all- FREE! Use it!

*Also, feel free to comment on here if you have found other helpful resources on Rochford’s website or elsewhere!