Month: February 2012

A serious wake-up call for American Christians

So I recently bought this amazing book on Amazon. It’s written by a California pastor named Dan Kimball, and it’s called “They Like Jesus But Not the Church.”

The book is absolute dynamite. It includes real interviews with non-Christians, talking about how much they love and appreciate Jesus. But when asked about the church, their reactions are far more negative. Pastor Kimball explores why that is the case, and encourages Christians to get outside of the box and to remove themselves from Christian subculture.

I, for one, am passionate about this book because I was raised in a Christian subculture. Sure, my hometown had many godly people, and I’m greatly blessed to know many role models who can be great examples for me, even now at college.

But at the same time, it became so suffocating – especially as I got older. I looked around me, and almost everyone I knew followed (or claimed to follow) Jesus. It became too much of a good thing.

Here at NMSU, when people ask me why I came here from Virginia, I usually give three reasons: I visited here and liked it a lot, my major is really good, and it’s affordable. But the honest truth is that I didn’t want to be isolated, and that’s part of the reason I went out-of-state for college.

This is not a way for me to vent my feelings about Lynchburg; rather, it’s about trying to live out the example of Christ. Living in a “Christianized” environment, I believe, can be very damaging. We become more focused on church music, sermons, and Christian music/literature, than about saving the lost.

If we really want to follow Jesus, then we need to live as missionaries. I have great respect for people who go into third-world countries and spread God’s Word, but the truth is that we’re all missionaries, and we should all be living like missionaries.

Being “salt and light” has nothing to do with isolating yourself. Jesus’ last commands to His disciples were to go and make other disciples. He did not want us to sit around in our Christian circles and only interact with people who share our beliefs.

A great song that I learned as a kid was “Be a Missionary Every Day.” It’s a perfect example of a fun kid’s song that, unfortunately, is not taught or thought about consistently. Jesus wants us to be missional believers and to reach out to those who are suffering or hurting and who need the hope and peace that only He provides.

“Be a missionary every day, tell the world that Jesus is the way.

In a different town or country or a busy avenue, Africa or Asia, the choice is up to you!

So be a missionary every day, tell the world that Jesus is the Way.

The Lord is soon returning, and there is no time to lose

So be a missionary, God’s own emissary

Be a missionary today!”

 

Are you living like a missionary every day? It’s your choice!

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A Christian perspective on American poverty

So thanks to a lot of influences in my life, I’ve been able to learn more about the profession of social work. I’m currently taking SWK 221G (Intro to Social Welfare) at NMSU, and as depressing as it can be sometimes, it’s very illuminating to see some of the problems that we face here in America.

I’ve even thought about going in an inner-city missions trip in a couple years, once I raise enough money.

I believe that I differ from some people in that I care about the poor and the rejected. Here in America, we like to pretend that poverty doesn’t exist. We’re the land of opportunity, right? Therefore, in an ideal world, a country like ours shouldn’t have as much poverty and suffering as we should. But obviously, life isn’t ideal for a lot of people.

I do believe in the Protestant work ethic and I disagree with excessive government interference, but again, I’m more of a practical person than an idealist. Yes, ideally, people should be hard-working and shouldn’t be on welfare or other programs, but many times, it’s not necessarily their own fault.

What I mean by “not their own fault” is this: you can’t control where you were born or how rich your family is. Sure, you can improve your own condition, but many people simply don’t have the education or the abilities to get and keep a job. Others are scared because they’ve never known anything besides poverty and economic uncertainty.

One of my favorite TV shows is HBO’s The Wire, which is both incredibly realistic and dramatically powerful in its presentation of urban problems in the city of Baltimore. It has definitely showed me how crime problems in inner-city America are far from easily solved. It also gives me a new perspective about poor people and their social environment. Some conservatives think that people on welfare or food stamps are just leeches who suck taxpayers’ money. But on The Wire, there are no stereotypes allowed. Everybody is portrayed as a real human being with feelings, thoughts, and most importantly, choices to make.

One very sad scene in the first season involves a kid named Wallace. He’s been raised in the projects all of his life, and has dealt drugs since age 12. His parents aren’t around, and he might as well be a legal guardian to five or six even younger children. Wallace tries to leave the drug trade after witnessing the aftermath of a grisly murder, but he doesn’t believe in himself. He has never known anything other than the inner city, and as he looks around him, he says, “This is me, yo, right here.”

It really makes me feel terrible when I see poverty, but it truly breaks my heart when I see or hear about people like Wallace. They don’t know where to start. They can’t imagine life anywhere else, and they let that attitude ruin their chances of starting a new life.

I believe that God has a plan for everyone. But it’s up to us to make it happen. You can’t expect God to bless you with new clothes, but then never leave your house to go to the store! Action is critical in life – spiritually and practically.

2012 NMSU recruiting class – defense & special teams

Defensive recruits

Coach Walker is a well-regarded defensive expert, and he definitely showed his recruiting skills this offseason, especially on the defensive line. In all, four linemen, two linebackers, and three defensive backs round out the 2012 class on defense.

Nick Oliva, DE (Valencia HS/College of the Canyons)

  • Originally from Valencia, California
  • Played on the offensive line at Valencia HS
  • Switched to defensive end at College of the Canyons
  • As a freshman, Oliva recorded 18 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble
  • During 2011, his sophomore season, Oliva gathered 32 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and three sacks
  • Chose the Aggies over an FCS program, Cal Poly

Kalvin Cruz, DE (Columbine HS/Ventura College)

  • Originally from Littleton, Colorado
  • Played all four years of football for Columbine HS, including a state championship team as a sophomore
  • Was an honorable mention all-conference pick as a senior in 2009
  • Was an all-conference selection during his sophomore campaign at Ventura College while leading them to a 7-4 overall record
  • Had 32 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 5.5 tackles for a loss as a freshman at Ventura
  • Had 40 tackles, six sacks, and 12 tackles for a loss as a sophomore at Ventura
  • Received an academic achievement award as a sophomore
  • Chose NMSU over New Mexico and Texas State

Thomas Shepard, DE (Denver South HS)

  • Originally from Denver, Colorado
  • Was primarily a basketball star at Denver South, but also played football as a tight end, wide receiver, and defensive end
  • As a senior, he broke up 10 passes and added 60 tackles as a defensive end while earning all-city and all-league recognition

Kevin Laudermill, DT (Manual Arts HS/West Los Angeles College)

  • Originally from Culver City, California
  • Played both offense and defense at Manual Arts HS
  • During his two-year career at West Los Angeles College, he recorded 48 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and four sacks
  • Received all-conference honors as a sophomore at West LA
  • Chose NMSU over Hawaii, Eastern Michigan, Kansas, Iowa State, and Arizona State

Robert Wagner, LB (Colony HS)

  • Originally from Ontario, California
  • Played three years of football at Colony HS
  • Recorded 68 tackles, two sacks, and an interception as a junior
  • Finished with 57 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup as a senior
  • Chose the Aggies late on signing day after he turned down an offer from Arizona

Trashaun Nixon, LB (Hueneme HS/Ventura College)

  • Originally from Oxnard, California
  • Played football for two years at Ventura College
  • Collected 54 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and five pass breakups as a freshman at Ventura
  • As a sophomore in 2011, he finished with 21 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick

Dominique Love, DB (The Bishop’s School)

  • Originally from Chula Vista, California
  • Was a wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner for the Bishop’s School
  • Was a two-time all-conference selection at defensive back, combining for 98 tackles and 10 INTs during his junior and senior years
  • Declined offers from Colorado, SMU, and Army in order to come to NMSU

Cameron Fuller, DB (Contra Costa College)

  • Played a year of football for the Contra Costa Comets, tallying 21 tackles, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and 13 passes defended
  • Turned down both Hawaii and Middle Tennessee before deciding on NMSU

Dele Junaid, DB (Hightower HS/Ole Miss/Eastern Arizona JC)

  • Originally from Fresno, Texas
  • Attended Hightower HS and was an all-state, all-region, and all-city honoree in his senior season
  • Played mostly on special teams while a redshirt freshman at Ole Miss
  • Transferred to Eastern Arizona College and recorded 11 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his sophomore season
  • Picked NMSU over Texas State and Lamar

Cayle Chapman-Brown, P (Notre Dame College/Snow College)

  • Originally from Sydney, Australia
  • Attended nearby Notre Dame College before coming to America as a sophomore for Snow College in Utah
  • Averaged more than 43 yards per punt as a sophomore for Snow
  • Earned junior college All-American honors and was an all-league pick

2012 NMSU recruiting class – offense

Offensive recruits

The Aggies grabbed a handful of big bodies to add depth on the O-line, as well as two running backs from the junior college ranks. Quarterback Andrew McDonald will be the de facto starter in spring practice while incumbent Andrew Manley rehabs his knee. Two tight ends were somewhat surprising choices, considering that NMSU already has adequate depth at the position. Even if they end up redshirting, they could play important factors in future seasons.

Andrew McDonald, QB (Newport Beach HS/Santa Ana College)

  • Originally from Newport Beach, California
  • Four-year letter winner and two-time all-league selection at Newport Beach HS
  • Threw for 2,196 yards and a school-record 28 touchdowns during his freshman season at Santa Ana College
  • Threw for 2,033 yards and 22 TDs as a sophomore at Santa Ana
  • Chose NMSU over Kent State

King Davis III, QB (North Mesquite HS)

  • Originally from Mesquite, Texas
  • Academic all-state selection as a senior in high school
  • Threw for 1,255 yards and eight TDs as a senior
  • Threw for 1,182 yards and 12 TDs as a junior
  • Was the Aggies’ earliest signing of the 2012 class (verbally committed in June 2011)

Lavoris Powell, RB (Columbia HS/Jones County JC)

  • Originally from Lake City, Florida
  • Rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown as a freshman at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi
  • Rushed for 897 yards and 13 TDs as a sophomore

Akeelie Mustafa, RB (Cypress HS/Santa Ana College)

  • Originally from Compton, California
  • Earned all-league honors during his senior season at Cypress
  • Rushed for 2,507 yards and 39 TDs as a senior in high school
  • Spent a year at Santa Ana College; rushed for 1,055 yards and 10 TDs and was also the team’s second-leading receiver
  • Was also a punt/kick returner for Santa Ana
  • Chose the Aggies over Louisiana Tech

Zach Jones, TE (Thunder Ridge HS)

  • All-state and all-league pick as a senior
  • Chose NMSU over Northern Colorado

Perris Scoggins, TE (Summit HS/Mount San Jacinto CC)

  • Originally from Fontana, California
  • First-team all-conference selection as a senior at Summit HS
  • Played two years at Mount San Jacinto CC; combined for 573 receiving yards and four touchdowns
  • Earned all-conference and all-state honors in junior college

Alfred Sharp, OL (Cleveland Heights HS/Iowa Western CC)

  • Originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  • Played two seasons as an offensive tackle for Iowa Western
  • Earned all-conference and all-region honors after helping Iowa Western to a 9-2 record in 2011
  • Chose NMSU after rejecting scholarships from Akron, Florida International, and Memphis

Peter Forman, OL (St. Thomas HS)

  • Originally from Houston, Texas
  • Was a two-time all-state and all-district selection for St. Thomas
  • Helped his team reach the state playoff semifinals in 2011

Isaiah Folasa, OL (Santiago HS)

  • Originally from Corona, California
  • Was a three-year letter winner for Santiago, a two-time all-league pick, and a team captain as a senior
  • Shocked many by choosing NMSU, rejecting UCLA, Colorado, Idaho, San Jose State, and the Air Force Academy

Dada Richards, OL (Pittsburg HS/Diablo Valley College)

  • Originally from Oakland, California
  • Played two seasons for Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and helped them earn an 8-3 record in the 2011 season
  • Earned all-region honors in 2011

Inuka Rhaheed, OL (Westwood HS)

  • Originally from Fort Pierce, Florida
  • Was a three-year letter winner for the Westwood HS Panthers as an offensive and defensive lineman
  • Was a third-team all-league pick in 2011
  • De-committed from Buffalo in order to take NMSU’s offer

2012 signing day ceremony/press conference

On February 3rd, I had the chance to go to the Stan Fulton Athletics Center south of the football field and learn about the signing class for the 2012 NMSU football team. It was a fun experience; as a lifelong football fan, I’m very excited for all of these guys to get a shot at playing Division I ball. But as an Aggie, I’m even more excited to hear about the guys that are gonna help us get to the next level of competition, both in the WAC and non-conference games. I believe that we can take the next step in 2012 if everyone works hard and does their part.

I also had the opportunity to meet head coach DeWayne Walker afterwards. He’s a terribly nice guy, and I told him that I really admired what he’s been doing as our coach, especially in terms of changing the culture of losing here at NMSU. I also mentioned that as a current student, it’s difficult to find support or school spirit on campus, but that we’re heading in the right direction with the football team.

Altogether, Coach Walker and his staff received 21 letters of intent – 13 from junior college players and eight from high school recruits.  For all the skeptics out there who claim that we can’t recruit, you’ll be surprised that the Aggies ranked 2nd in the WAC recruiting polls, according to Rivals.com. That’s our highest ranking since we joined the conference in 2005.

Additionally, ten of our signees are already enrolled and will be going through spring practice.

My thoughts on Valentine’s day

So the time has inevitably come for February 14th, a day either eagerly anticipated or dreaded, depending on your current relationship status. Therefore, I felt like sharing my thoughts on the matter.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Sure, I’ll celebrate it unofficially, but I’ve never really cared for it much. Not just because I’m single, but because it’s such a superficial holiday. Don’t misunderstand me – I love showing people how I care, but to only express that one day out of the year is just stupid.

Sure, couples watch movies together, go out to a nice dinner, and buy each other gifts, but why treat February 14th like a special day? You should do special things for each other every day, no matter what. That is an expression of true love…whether you’ll send your girlfriend flowers even if it’s in the middle of August.

We shouldn’t just be preaching true love on one day in February…rather, it should be expressed and celebrated all of the other 364 days of the year.