It’s been almost 3 months since I arrived in Israel… and I love everything about this land!
In many ways, I feel like I’ve arrived home. I feel like this is where I was born to live. And the more I settle in, the more I realize that I’m in this for the long-haul. I feel like God has called me to this land, to these people, at this time.
Every day is just a continual confirmation of this truth:
I was made to live here.
From before I even set foot in the country, God had already opened up doors for me to find the perfect place to live. I have an apartment right in the heart of downtown Jerusalem that I share with two roommates — both Believers. One is from America and works for CBN’s Middle East bureau, and the other is from Singapore and is working in ministry while studying Hebrew.
I also started working as the Media Director for King of Kings Community in Jerusalem, which means I manage & create all of the media for the ministry. From running cameras and directing the online livestream during Sunday services, to filming and editing videos throughout the week, to creating a plethora of graphic designs for various parts of the ministry, I’ve hit the ground running and am already plugged in and part of the team.
Our vision is to show the true face of Yeshua to Israel & the nations. And a large part of the way we do that is by practically blessing the people around us. One of the stories I had the opportunity to tell this month was about a sex shop that was miraculous transformed & restored into a Biblical family counseling center.
To watch the video I produced & edited, click here.
As soon as I arrived in Israel, I knew that my first priority was to learn the language. It’s humbling (and downright embarrassing at times) to live in this country and have the locals be more fluent in my language than I am in theirs.
Fortunately, there are several ways to learn Hebrew in Israel. One of the most common is Ulpan — an immersive Hebrew school. I wasted no time: within my first few weeks, I signed up for an intensive 12-week course that has quickly become my highlight of each day! Between the classes & the homework, I easily spend 20 hours a week learning Hebrew. And after 8 weeks, I am already at the point where I can read & write fairly large portions of text, as well as hold a simple conversations on the street!
I want to thank my home church in Texas — Living Acts — for generously sponsoring my first 12-week Hebrew course. It was an unexpected blessing and I was overwhelmed when I received the news. I hope to take three semesters of Hebrew over the next year in order to (God-willing) become street-fluent in the language by next summer. !!אני אוהב ללמוד עברית
The Israel/Gaza Conflict
Evidently, Israel has become an international news item over the past few weeks as hundreds of rockets have rained down from Gaza and Israel has retaliated from the air, the sea, and most recently, by a ground invasion.
First of all, I’m safe. Jerusalem is just over an hour away from most of the fighting and can be reached by a couple of the long-range rockets, but as a general rule, life goes on as normal in the city. Israelis have decided — as they feel they have to — that they cannot let their lives be governed by terrorists.
It is surreal to be here during this time. Things are much more than they seem in the news, and the tension between Jews & Arabs grows more and more real each day. With every rocket that’s fired and every bomb that explodes, there are more than just casualties. There are seeds upon seeds of bitterness, division, & hatred sowed into the hearts of this next generation. Children orphaned, brainwashed, and enslaved to hate… it is an endless cycle of hatred.
And while it may be tempting to lean on the United Nations for peace, or Egypt for a ceasefire, or the Iron Dome for safety, it’s important to remember that we, the body of the Messiah, have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. I didn’t know what that meant when I lived in North America.
I think I’m just starting to understand…
I urge you, pray for Israel, Gaza, and the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love her prosper. (Psalm 122:6)
It’s official. I purchased a one-way ticket and will be moving to Israel on May 28th.
I remember the first time I set foot in Jerusalem and walked her narrow streets. She is a city like no other — rich with history & meaning. Her walls are weathered by centuries of destruction, war, & conquest. Significance is woven into every crevice and for millions around the world she stands as a beacon of light & hope.
Everyone has an opinion about everything, especially about God. And everyone has a story. When you ask, “Why are you here?” you will never hear the same answer twice. People are loud, yet warm, kind, yet blunt, hospitable, yet stubborn. There is no place like Jerusalem.
Within minutes, I knew that I had arrived home.
There was no where else that I wanted to live. There was no where else where I knew I was supposed to live.
Over the past year, things have come together in ways I could have never dreamed of. From people that I’ve met to doors that have been opened to overwhelming support from family and friends, I have no doubt in my mind that I am not going to Israel as much as I am being sent to Israel.
When I arrive, I will be joining the team at King of Kings working primarily as a Producer/Shooter/Editor. I will also be focusing my efforts on learning Hebrew, studying Torah, and weaving myself into several different communities in the city.
It would take more words than I have right now to share the dreams that God has put on my heart for Israel & for the Jewish people. (If you would like a taste, however, you can listen to the sermon that I preached at Living Acts Church in Tyler, Texas.)
This site will become a collection of thoughts and photo essays from my travels, focusing on faith, business, media and the Middle East.
I was given the opportunity to speak at my home church in Tyler, Texas this past weekend about what I believe God’s plan for Israel is out of the Bible.
I focus most of my teaching on passages from Romans 9-11.
If you’re interested in hearing my vision & heart for why I am moving to Israel this spring, I encourage you to watch the recording from the service below.
Another day, another music video. Out of sheer coincidence, another one of the major pieces our team has been working on has gone live today: Just Another Birthday by Casting Crowns. The video was produced in about 3 weeks and was shot completely in East Texas near our studios.
To get the visual effect style we were going for, we shot primarily using a Canon 5D with “Lens Whacking” — which is essentially shooting with the lens detached from the camera to produce cool lens flares.
It’s a pretty touching story, to say the least. I can barely watch it all the way through without tearing up.
Some folks have emailed me asking what I’ve been up to over the past couple months. Well, there’s lots of good news to share: I got my working visa and I’m now living in the Texas working at a full-fledged media production company as the Production Manager. We make everything from music videos to short films to promos & commercials, and we do it all for the glory of God.
We make so many things at such a fast pace that I really need to take the time to write about / showcase them. So without further ado, here is the latest thing we’ve worked on that we’re releasing today: the brand new music video for the Newsboys. Enjoy!
This makes pleasure also the whistleblower of your heart. If something sinful gives you pleasure, it’s not a pleasure problem. It’s a treasure problem. Your pleasure mechanism is likely functioning just fine. It’s what you love that’s out of whack. And pleasure is outing you. It’s revealing that, despite what your mouth says and the image you try to project to others, something evil is precious to you.
“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes on one’s thoughts.” -Elisabeth Elliot
I don’t know why I wrote that quote down on my phone almost two years ago — little did I realize how deeply the reality of it would strike my own life years later.
Bearing uncertainty does quite possibly one of the strangest things to a man’s heart.
Uncertainty forces me to face the fact that I am not in control and am absolutely incapable of changing my circumstances.
Uncertainty forces me to confront my jealousy of God and my desire to be Him — infinitely Powerful & absolutely Sovereign.
Uncertainty shatters my self-sufficiency and destroys my proclivity to lean upon my own strength.
Uncertainty crushes me with the truth that there is only one Good and Faithful Shepherd of my soul, Jesus Christ, in whom I live and move and have my being.
Uncertainty causes me to set my hope fully on the grace that will be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13).
You see, there’s a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye. Waiting on the Lord is actually a self-shattering, Gospel-inducing, hand-emptying surgery that crucifies our hearts to this world and raises them to Christ.
I hate uncertainty. But it is my thorn, my gift, my joy. And so I will boast all the more in my uncertainty, that my Savior’s infinite power might be perfected in me.
My thorn has become a spring of joy to me.
I found myself looking upon some of my friends with jealousy the other night. “Why do they get to do such and such? Why do they get to be with so and so? Why now? Why not me?” Very quickly, I saw this jealousy give way to my own self-pity: “Woe is me that my God has given me among all my friends this heavy burden to bear. I must be obedient, I must endure — and then the good will come.”
I thought enduring was what I was supposed to do. I thought being obedient was all that God required of me. But then God spoke:
Just as faith apart from obedience is dead, so obedience apart from faith is dead.
Now you may say, “Of course I have faith, how would I ever obey if I didn’t believe?” Let me say this very carefully: I believe we, as Christians, often have faith in the promise and the certainty of the promise but not in the intentions of the Promiser.
In my own life, I see my tendency to look upon God’s “gifts” as malicious burdens that I have to bear rather than good gifts that I get to receive and rejoice in. I believe in the Goodness of God, but have a hard time applying it to the here and now. For me, the Goodness of God is some kind of distant hope that comforts rather than an ever-present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).
Biblically, we can look at 2 Corinthians 12:7, where God sent a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass the apostle Paul. Imagine being in his shoes. Harassment from God? That must be malicious. He must be testing me. He must be testing my endurance and my strength. He must have something really good in store for me if I simply preserve through this cruel momentary harassment.
But that is not what Paul says: his thorn was a gift. It was given to him to keep him from becoming conceited; to keep him from sin (v. 7). It was given to him so that Christ’s power might be perfected in him (v. 9) It was given to him that he might learn to boast in his thorn as a good gift from a Good God who lovingly gave him his thorn for his good.
The thorn that was pitiable in the eyes of the world was beautiful to Paul. Because Paul had the eyes of faith.
Or consider Job. When everything in this world was stolen from him, he cried out, “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) Job didn’t have any promises to look forward to but the trust that the intentions of his God were good. The Lord isn’t “still” good despite what happens, He “is” good because of what happens. Blessed be the name of the Lord for doing things this way. Blessed be the name of the Lord that his thoughts are greater and his ways are higher. Blessed be the name of the Lord because He knows what is best for me.
The God that Job’s wife told him to curse, Job worshipped. Because Job had the eyes of faith.
Only children who have the Sovereign King as their Father can “consider every trial as pure joy” because they believe two unshakeable truths: (1) God is completely in control of this world and my life, and (2) He is always, undeniably, unquestionably good. And everything he does is good. Even the thorns, even the discipline, even the wilderness.
It’s a life-transforming truth: I’m not enduring cruel wrath, I’m receiving loving discipline. From my Father, for my good.
My thorn that was once bitter has become a spring of joy to me.