Men are silly creatures. One way in which we display this silliness is how easily we become saddened or worried. Even if life is good–real good–it does not take much for our perspective to change and our outlook to darken.

But recently as I have faced situations where I am tempted to be saddened or worried about silly things, I find myself asking, “How could I possibly be sad right now?” Here are a few reasons I’ve been saying this.

God has given me…

…a great Savior. There is nothing I am more thankful for than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of my sins have been nailed to the cross, and the record of debt that stands against me has been wiped away. Even though I was once an enemy, God has adopted me as his son and given me an eternal inheritance.

…a wonderful family. Few things can cause more grief or joy in life than family circumstance, and I am grateful that my family has constantly been one of the greatest reasons for joy in my life. And as I get older, I am finding that family life only gets better with age. Every teenager thinks they know more than their parents, but now I find myself going to them more and more often seeking wisdom and advice. My brothers and I used to have Nerf wars and play with POGS, and while that was fun, it does not compare to the joy that comes from serving with each other and encouraging one another in ministry.

…great friends. One of the biggest blessings of being a student at The Master’s College is the privilege of being surrounded by so many great people. I thank the Lord for the many friendships I have formed during my time here. I have had so much fun with people, whether it has been during road trips to Yosemite, a semester in Israel, or late nights in the dorm or at Starbucks. But more than all the fun, I have been so blessed to have friends that genuinely love the Lord. I constantly find my faith strengthened by theirs.

…a good shepherd. Over the past week, I have heard two sermons on Psalm 23, and I know that throughout this next year, I will be opening to this Psalm often because of the amazing truths it contains. The Lord is my shepherd, and he is constantly leading the way for me. And because he is with me, I shall not want, and I shall not fear.

Today is my 21st birthday, and I want nothing over this next year more than to stay close to the good shepherd. When I am with him, I have no reason to worry or to be sad.

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Victory is sweet, indeed, and the taste never gets old. Last Thursday night, the men of Hotchkiss “protected the name” for the second straight year by winning the Master’s Cup, a huge inter-dorm competition. In some ways, this victory was even better than last year’s. Because we were defending the cup, everyone was gunning for us. Also, we had to endure quite a bit of anti-Hotchkiss sentiment before the competition.

Hotchkiss has a silent tradition. When we walk into the gym for the cup, we are silent and straight-faced. We do not shout, scream, stomp, or cheer like other dorms. We mean business–we are there to win. Other dorms usually give us a hard time about this. This year, one guy said, “At least our dorm is allowed to have fun.” What that guy does not know is this: Winning the Master’s Cup is extremely fun.

But now that the cup has been protected and all the returning students have made their way back to campus, classes have begun yet again. This semester, I’m diving into my major-requirements and taking Intro to Political Research, U.S. Constitutional History, and The Judicial Process. For a Bible requirement, I’m taking Christian Theology II. I am excited to study the different areas of theology we will cover in this class (especially eschatology). On top of these classes I’m taking Business Communications for “fun.” This class does not fulfill any requirements for me, but I keep hearing that it may be the most practical class I’ll ever take, so I decided to take it anyways.

After seeing all of my syllabuses, I am now confident that this will be an intense academic semester. When I told another student at lunch that I have to write 11 papers this semester, he simply responded, “That’s gross.”

Needless to say, I am back to school. Hopefully, I’ll be back to blogging as well. My goal for the semester is one or two posts a week, and I still plan on finishing the Egypt Chronicles.

Until next time, we got the cup.

The Boys are Back in Town

August 13, 2007

Yesterday, I packed my earthly possessions into my car and made the fifteen minute drive from my parents’ house to the happiest place on earth–Hotchkiss.

I am back at school two weeks early for SLS (Servant Leadership Staff) Retreat and WOW (Week of Welcome.) Best of all, I get to spend the next two weeks with my Hotchkiss brothers, both the returning SLS students and the new students, some of which are already here.

Hotchkiss has been a special place in my life. I remember visiting my brothers here when I was still in high school and seeing their God-centered relationships with other guys in the dorm. Now I have the joy of living and serving in Hotchkiss, and it is awesome.

In a little over an hour, all of SLS will be hitting the road to Palm Springs for our retreat. The theme of the retreat is Kingdom Living. I’m excited to learn more about this and how we can live for the kingdom right here at TMC!

In Denial

August 9, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 7

Our journey through Egypt finally allowed us a morning to sleep in, and we took advantage of it. Until this welcome Tuesday morning, the pace of our trip had indeed been furious, and as we charted our course for the rest of the trip, we knew that what lay ahead would be exhausting and amazing all at the same time.

During the morning and early afternoon, we left the hotel and visited a couple sites. A friend who had been to Egypt before had recommended the Nubian museum, so we decided to check it out. Unlike the antiquities museum in Cairo, this one featured informative displays, good lighting, and clear labels. All these features together tell the story of the Nubian race. These people have long lived in the Southern areas of Egypt and have been ruled by the Egyptians throughout history. Like pretty much museum or temple in Egypt, this one featured a few big statues. Here is one of them.

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Not far from the museum lies the “Unfinished Obelisk.” As you may have gathered from the name, this large obelisk was never completed. Its size is impressive, but then again they never did finish it, so it is limited in its grandeur.

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Before being outside for long, we began to feel the Aswan heat, and since we had stared looking at sites that were unfinished, we headed back to the hotel. As we walked into our suite, we heard some familiar voices, which belonged to Betsy, Laura, Lester and Austin. We spent some time catching up with them, and they decided to join us for our afternoon activity—a boat ride on the Nile River.

Our Nile voyage was certainly the marquee event of our first day in Aswan. The trip had been arranged by our hotel, so our boat driver, dressed simply in a long, white, one-piece garment, met us there and escorted us to the river’s edge, where we boarded our boat. An engine propelled the boat, which consisted of a bottom deck with cushioned seats and a simply flat top deck. The only passengers were the eight IBEXim.

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At first we crossed to the middle of the Nile and Elephantine Island. We stopped at the Nubian House where some of the girls got henna tattoos. Before long, we found ourselves standing at the entrance of a village with a sheik on our right, offering a tour of the village (for baksheesh, of course), and a museum on our right. Thankfully, we just decided to head back to the boat and the open water of the Nile River.

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The Nile is certainly wider than any river I have seen, and seeing the river for myself only makes the first plague of the Exodus more impressive. The whole river turned to blood—that’s a lot of blood.

Since we were cruising along the Nile River, some of our party felt compelled to swim. After they became convinced that would not die from some strange African virus, they jumped in. I opted to take pictures.

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After the swim, we continued to cruise along the river, meandering between islands in the grand river. At one point we encountered an African boy who seemed to be spending his afternoon swimming from boat to boat.

Back at the shore and the hotel, we cleaned up and met yet another IBEX group for dinner. We ate pizza and pasta at a restaurant on the river. Let me also mention that if you ever end up in Egypt, drink as much of the fruit juice as possible—it’s delicious.

Abi, Whit, PC, and I did not stay out too long because the pace of our trip was about to increase again. The next morning, the alarm would ring at 2:45AM as our adventure took us farther south into the unknown land of Africa.

Oregon Trail

August 6, 2007

Honestly, what is summer without a roadtrip?

This last weekend, I set out with my roommate, Jordan Thiesen, and his sister, Charlotte, on the trail to Oregon. The reason behind our roadtrip was the wedding of Chris Venables. He started at Master’s the same time Jordan and I did, and since Hotchkiss is a perpetual breeding ground for great friendships, we became friends fast. It was a joy to see Chris get married; I’m excited for him and Becca as they start their new life together. Here is a pic of all the Master’s people at the wedding!

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Before the wedding, the weekend offered many opportunities to hang out. All of the guys went out and saw “The Bourne Ultimatum” the night before. I enjoyed it exceedingly more than the first two Bourne movies. Between the rehearsal dinner and eating at Taco Delite, we were all able to catch up. It was great.

On the way back to Southern California, Jordan and I decided to act upon a whim and go up to Hume Lake on Sunday afternoon. Some friends of ours formed a band called Chasing Cadence and are leading junior high worship at the camp this summer. PC, my roommate from IBEX, is the lead singer.

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The band did a stellar job in the two sets I saw them. PC does a great job leading the kids in worship and taking time to talk about the songs. These guys are solid, musically and spiritually. They introduced an original song to the kids called “Unending Praise.” You should check it out here. Here is a shot of the whole band.

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Jordan and I slept out on the deck at his family’s cabin and watched an incredible display of shooting stars. The heavens indeed tell of God’s glory. We enjoyed great conversation about where our lives were heading, and the conversation ended where our lives ultimately will–heaven. I’m glad that my brother and Tim Thiesen thought it would be a good idea for me and Jordan to room together; it was.

On our way back the mountain, Jordan and I stopped to take a couple pictures by King’s Canyon. Here are the best.

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Overall, it was a great week of fun, fellowship, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.

And in case the title of this post had you wondering, we did not ford any rivers, we did not see any buffalo stampedes, and no one died of dysentery.