On #HolySaturday we wait to see if the promises of God are true. The world wants to know if Jesus is merely a good teacher or God himself. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:19‭-‬24
(2008) I heard that the pastor laughed when he found out that I was a bodybuilder. He was doing some research on me before he invited me to speak at his church. He saw videos of me working out and posing on bodybuilding stages. People laugh a lot at the idea of me doing bodybuilding and it can be discouraging. I know that some of it is out of respect but also out of  fear for what people might think of a guy whose Google Image Search is filled with half naked pictures. I’m trying to start my career as a minister but I worry people don’t take me seriously. I feel like people have issues with me being a bodybuilder and a minister. I first got this impression when I started doing youth ministry and the parents asked what my qualifications were. I was a UCSD student, just like all the other volunteers, but I felt that being an athlete gave people the impression that fitness was the only thing I was good at. I understand there is a stereotype that athletes don’t take education seriously and I believe that this hurt me when I was trying to start my career in ministry. I feel frustrated when people can’t see me as more than an athlete. I wear glasses partially because I feel it makes me look smarter. Going to seminary is also a huge expense, but it will be worth it if it means that people will take me seriously. I know that people want a certain mold for their ministers. Ministry is a high calling and responsibility. People’s souls are at stake, and churches want to screen every potential minister carefully to ensure that they are choosing the right person. But this process has often made me feel unwelcome. I don’t want to change who I am, and I hope that the church would want people to be who they are. Book excerpt – if you want a copy, please help me figure out how many physical copies to print by pre-ordering! Link in bio
(2006) Carmen and I dated towards the end of my time in college. We used to go to Blockbuster to rent movies and even did the Netflix DVDs service for awhile. Our favorite thing though was to play World of Warcraft together. Video games are a cheap date option and it was fun to always have a Player Two. Hanging out with Carmen was an escape from the overwhelming stresses of school and work. I’ve always worked at least two jobs, even when in school. I was doing training with the Marines and had a job as an assistant at a local high school but I made sure to make time for Carmen. I found time because I never studied much. I was always surprised how well Carmen did in school because it felt like we were always hanging out. Somehow, dating made our life less stressful. The biggest thing I learned while we were dating was that we were good for each other. We helped each other be more responsible and disciplined. I know that might not sound romantic but I care a lot about being productive. I was on my own the moment I turned 18. I had to figure out how to pay my bills and how to be an adult. But I was still in college and wanted to have fun. We were hanging out so much that we had a hard time finding movies we hadn’t already watched. But amazingly, my grades got better when I started dating Carmen because I was more structured in my study times. One of the reasons I wanted to get married was because life seemed easier together. We both had big dreams and we were helping each other realize them. Being young didn’t matter because I felt like we would figure life out together. Starting a marriage in an expensive city with debt is a scary thing but I would rather face it together with Carmen than by myself. Book excerpt – if you want a copy, please help me figure out how many physical copies to print by pre-ordering! Link in bio.
(2004) I am so nervous about doing my first Bodybuilding show. I read stuff online about how the day is going to go but I’m still not sure what to expect. I get to the auditorium and immediately start looking around at the competition. Do I even belong here? It scares me to death that I might get on stage and have no idea what I’m doing. I register in the Teen Division and hand in my cassette of music. I go backstage and I see everyone working out so I start doing that too. My division will be one of the first on stage and I need to quickly get ready. I’m already wearing my posing trunks, which are basically speedos for the bodybuilding stage. I see that other guys are using Pam cooking spray to give themselves a shine for when they are under stage lights, so I start using it too. They call my name and I start to head to the stage. There are a lot of great bodybuilders here and I am happy to finally be competing. I do a 1-minute freestyle posing routine and then I listen to the Judges for what poses I should do. I read about the poses online and tried practicing them at home but I’m not sure I am doing them right because this isn’t the same as standing in front of a bathroom mirror. When the posing is finished we are all told to come back for the second part of the show which is at night. I am excited to perform my full posing routine for the crowd. I recorded my own music with a tape recorder I had. After my routine, they announced the winner of my division. I had won my first show! I got my first bodybuilding trophy ever! At the end of the show, I got to stand with all the winners for the group picture and as I come off the stage, the President of the organization Denny Kakos and one of the judges, Lorenzo Gaspar, come up to me. They tell me that I have what it takes to be a great bodybuilder and to keep competing. It was an amazing feeling to be recognized as having potential but am I ready to compete at the bigger shows? Book excerpt – if you want a copy, please help me figure out how many physical copies to print by pre-ordering! Link in bio