“Drowning Slowly” — a song written by Anson Sexton

I am horrible at drawing & have even worse penmanship. Music is my art…

I aspire to write songs. I desire to move people w/ the music I create.

…I want to tell you a story:

There once was a girl. This girl had ambitions for love & a chance to be someone.

She was a beautiful gal from the midwest — the best lyrical dancer in the state. At the age of 19, she took a greyhound to Las Vegas w/ hopes of starring in one of the premiere shows on The Strip.

After she arrived, she quickly met a ‘producer’. He promised her the world while she fell head over heels. He was no producer. He hung around long enough to leave the young girl heartbroken, hopeless, and pregnant.

Too scared & ashamed to return home, she waited tables to get by. Eventually, as time would tell, she gave birth to a precious baby girl. Responsibilities began to mount & financial obligations piled up…

She began ‘dancing’. At a place off the strip. She was able to pay her bills and take care of her little bundle of joy; yet she was left empty. Was this the life she was destined to live?

“Drowing Slowing” is a song written – if I could be so bold – from God’s perspective. He watches us. He longs for us to see Him. The song is complete, but the story isn’t.

There are seasons in each of our lives that play out like a song. Collectively, the seasons make up a soundtrack. Ultimately, God is the conductor. Our choices influence how the melody is orchestrated, but in the end… God is still in control.

As the seasons change, I am hopeful for this girl in the story. She is on the brink of encountering grace.

I somewhat feel the same way about my own life. Seasons are changing. Literally & figuratively. I am about to start recording my music.

On the cheap.

By myself.

In a room with my guitar, laptop, and some basic recording gear.

My goal is to be finished before Christmas and have the opportunity to share it with my friends, family, and anyone that is willing to take time to listen.

Here is the song “Drowning Slowly” performed by me and a couple of buddies in a skatepark a little north of San Diego… please check it out & tell me what you think. I welcome any & all criticism. Enjoy 🙂

***note: I tagged the chorus of “How He Loves” at the tail end of the tune.


White As Snow…

This is my 4th post for the blog challenge hosted by my friend Sierra. This week’s topic is: What person in the bible do you identify with the most?

Though I’ve never killed a giant, let alone a lion or a bear… though I’ve never been a king of anything… and though I’ve never been a vigilante out on the run… I think I most identify w/ David.

When I take inventory of my life, I look at it a lot like David did in Psalm 51:

1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,[a]
And blameless when You judge.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

Now, I’ve never had an affair. I’ve never killed someone to cover up a scandal.

But… sin is sin. When I look at myself in the mirror, I realize there are a number of things that I regret. I’ve had my fair share of mistakes. I have/still do definitely screw up.

James MacDonald put it best: When you choose the wrong, you’re really saying, “You’re not enough, God. I need this too.”

Whoa. That cuts me deep. Conviction compels me to cling more & more to GRACE everyday.

I love God. God loves me more. My hope is that God looks at me the same way he described David as a ‘man after His heart’. I believe He does.

And the same way that David is broken over his sin, I also identify with him when he’s totally stoked. Psalm 103 is probably my most favorite chapter in the bible.

So when it comes to folks in the bible — David is the dude I connect with most… well, other than Jesus of course. 🙂

One of my favorite songwriters, Jon Foreman (from Switchfoot), wrote a song adapted from Psalm 51:

Interview with John Wylie — aka @ivoryjohn (Part 1)

This is my 3rd post for the Blog Challenge hosted by my pal Sierra. You can read my 1st post here & my 2nd here.

Well, I had a brodate Wednesday night via Skype with a gentleman that I’ve never met in my life. Now before you sound the “creeper alarm”, let me explain…

A year or so ago, I received an email informing me that “@ivoryjohn is now following you on Twitter”. Awesome. At the time, I probably had 90 or so followers. Sooooo the more the merrier. Welcome aboard to the crazy In-n-Out picture taking, facial hair sporting, proud daddy tweeting crazy Anson train!

Eventually, we began to interact w/ one another — replying to each other’s silly tweets & encouraging one another to continually get your HUSTLE on & sweat awesome sauce. 🙂

We are both taking part in the Blog Challenge & this week the challenge is to interview one of the bloggers contributing to the challenge. Immediately, we both called dibs on each other. (Like I said, lay off the “creeper alarm”.) Good times were in store…

Two minutes into the “interview” John dropped a wisdom bomb by stating, “You know me so well already…You know, we don’t even need to do this because we probably know each other well enough just thru Twitter.”

He was probably right, yet, we continued our conversation for another hour and forty-three minutes.

We discussed many things we already knew about one another, but it bared repeating:

John is a professional blogger.

He is a communications major at Angelo State University.

John LOVES jelly beans & Dr. Pepper.

John wears skinny jeans & v-necks.

John has a twin sister.

John is a drummer.

John is a cool guy.

As our conversation progressed, we had an opportunity to unpack our stories from life. Family. Love. Dreams. Jesus…

But we will cover all of that in part two. (I need some time to sit down & re-listen to our interview that I recorded onto my iPhone.)

Until then, check out John’s blog & join the other 38k+ people already following him on Twitter. Good times are Ivory John times!

Why Jesus…

Why do I believe that Jesus is the answer?

Why not Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith’s magic glasses, or Tom Cruise???

Some might say that Jesus/the Bible/Christianity was indoctrinated into me as a result of my upbringing. (Like I mentioned before, I was raised going to church from the time I was an infant.)

And I would somewhat agree with that assumption… Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I was born into a middle-eastern culture, or Thailand, or even a European country like France. Would I still believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

I dunno. I do know that God placed me into the care of a God-fearing, Jesus-following, Spirit-filled woman by the name of Annie. When I look at my mom I see Jesus’ reflection.

Another thing that I know is that just because you grow up going to church and are taught biblical principles all your life, that doesn’t mean that you automatically subscribe to the Christian faith. I have two younger brothers that have endured a long road filled with depression & drug dependency issues before coming to the conclusion that only Jesus can satisfy the desires of our heart & save us from a life of destruction.

We were all raised in the same home, but travelled extremely different paths to (praise God!) reach the same destination.

In addition, Jesus just makes sense to me. In Jesus, I find that we cannot achieve salvation — but receive it from Jesus, the man who died in our place for our sins to provide eternal life for us. With Jesus, there are no prerequisites. I don’t come to Jesus to show Him how I have everything put together and am such a good person. Nope, I come to Jesus jacked up and in need of restoration. God takes my messed up life and works it out for good to glorify Him.

History (not JUST the bible) records His death & resurrection… so even though the Christian life is lived by faith, I’m comforted that it is a reasonable faith that I can audaciously cling to…

So, that’s why I choose Jesus over Tom Cruise 😉

Why do you believe what you believe? Do you think that Jesus is the answer?

This post is part of the Blog Challenge.

***Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone…

A life saved…

I recently wrote a post concerning second chances… and I mentioned that I was saved as a young child.

From the time I was born, my mom took my brothers & I to church every week. We usually went to church multiple times a week. Some seasons in my life we would attend home fellowships, mid-week studies, potlucks, prayer groups, and Sunday services as often as possible. We were ‘at church’ 3-4 times a week.

Growing up, my parents had an extremely difficult marriage. I remember times when my dad would just ‘check-out’ from the family life thing for a couple weeks at a time while he chased after unsatisfying fulfillment via booze, drugs, and extra-marital affairs.

Though I was unaware of the extent of hurt & pain that my mom endured, it was clear that everything in her life drew her closer to Jesus.

Her life is a true testament to me that God was/is the real deal. Her hope rested within the arms of Christ. Looking back in my life, I learned more about what it means to cling to Jesus from my mom than anyone else.

When I was six years of age I attended a small vacation bible school at a little white chapel in the country outside of Rainier, OR. I was thoroughly taught the gospel. I learned & understood that this thing ‘sin’ had messed up everything in my life and throughout the world. I realized that it was sin that caused my family to be screwed up. It was sin that caused me to be a knucklehead and not obey my parents or God. I clearly remember taking part in reciting the “sinner’s prayer” and asking Jesus to come live in my heart.

So that’s the marker in time that I’m able to look back on & recall my salvation experience; yet, I also know that scripture teaches us that God chose us before the foundations of the world.

Since then, it has been a journey to say the least. I think that being saved at such an early age presents an incredibly mind-blowing excursion. Walking with Jesus while treading through the muck & mire of adolescence definitely attests to the grace God so efficiently extends to His children.

So… can you recall your ‘salvation experience’? Are you ‘saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’?

*** This post is a contribution to the ‘Blog Challenge‘ via Sierra Nicole’s blog.

Who Would You Give a Second Chance? || NEVER beyond GRACE

I’m writing this in regards to the ‘Never Beyond’ series from People of the Second Chance’s blog.

The question is “Who would you give a second chance?”

My answer… my dad.

I grew up in a broken home.

My parents were on & off again constantly throughout my childhood.

I grew up bouncing back & forth from about 45 minutes west of Portland, OR in a small town (Rainier, OR) to Eugene, OR. When I was around 5 years old, my dad would take my younger brother & I to the river — the Columbia — and my brother Mark & I would explore the shoreline while my dad would hang w/ his buddies…

One day I innocently mentioned to my mom… “When daddy took us to the river the other day, he had ‘hearts in his eyes’ when he looked at ladies.”

I remember the look on my dad’s face when I said that. From there on out, He ALWAYS looked at me differently. He knew I was on Team Mom. He always made me aware that I was a momma’s boy. (And to this day I still am — a very MANLY momma’s boy.)

See, this statement didn’t come as a surprise to my mom. My dad was unfaithful. A lot.

From the time I was 6 to 16, my parents separated & got back together 3 times. When I was 16 my mom revealed to me that my dad was not only an alcoholic (something I grew up aware of & witnessing throughout my childhood — my dad struggled to stay sober), but he was also a functioning meth addict. My dad has a past plagued by abuse, loneliness, hurt, and suicide. My mom has a similar past. My mom turned to Jesus. My dad turned to drugs…

At the start of my junior year in high school, my parents were in the middle of a divorce when my father got thrown in jail. I was living with a friend & his family at the time. I was finally living in an extremely stable household – something I wasn’t really used to, and honestly, it was somewhat hard for me to process.

I was angry. I was upset. I was pissed off.

I was pissed off at God.

I grew up going to church. My mom took me from the time I was a newborn baby. She raised my brothers & I with her Bible always open and her heart continually singing praises to her King, all the while enduring a painful marriage. I came to know Jesus as my Lord & Savior when I was 6 at a vacation bible school in a little white chapel out in the sticks.

Yet, here I was at 16 pissed off at God. I cried one night desperately for God to save my dad. God heard my cry & answered my prayer. Remember, my dad was in jail. During that time he had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment.

While the paperwork was all set for my parents to finalize their divorce, my dad was locked up. He began to read a bible that was given to him. He began to recognize the patterns in his life & the dependencies he relied on were screwed up. He realized that he needed Jesus. He needed Love. He needed Grace. He needed a second chance.

He got all that. My parents didn’t go through with the divorce. My dad moved back into our home after being released from jail. He spent the next few months reading his bible from cover to cover.

I moved back home. We all started going to church together as a family.

I was no longer upset w/ God. He humbled me. He answered my prayer when I was – in my mind – the least deserving.

Time has passed. My parents have since got a divorce. (They’ve been divorced for almost 5 years now.) Unfortunately, my dad slid back into old ways.

I’m not upset w/ God. I’m not even really upset w/ my dad these days…

I’m just praying. I’m praying for the opportunity to give him another second chance…

I realize that I am in need of a second chance (aka GRACE) on a daily basis.

My prayer & hope is that my dad is a prodigal son on the brink of heading home. I am waiting patiently to run to him w/ arms open wide & celebrate his return.

I love you dad. Please come home. Jesus loves you. His grace is exceedingly sufficient.

Book Review: “The Grace of God” by Andy Stanley

“…you can run from God, but you can’t outrun Him.”

Andy’s ability to communicate a thought-provoking message that speaks to both the long-time religious & freshly converted is brilliant.

In “The Grace of God”, he shines a light on something that most of us are familiar with as a doctrine and/or seem to have a sufficient understanding of as a important value in life; yet, Andy conveys to the reader that the entire biblical narrative (and all of history) is fueled and driven by God’s grace. He employs the reader to recognize that God’s grace has ALWAYS been on display from the beginning of time when God spoke creation into motion and even today within the local church.

As readers, we see that the grace of God is something that we receive & are called to dispense. God has continually extended grace to us. So, as Christians, we too should extend grace to those that are undeserving… that pretty much covers EVERYONE.

Andy doesn’t try to show us how smart he is or wow us with unbelievably complex ideas. He simply magnifies that which all of us desire & desperately need… grace. And this book makes it apparent that only God’s grace will suffice.

Among all the great, timeless works of literature regarding God’s grace, this book belongs on that shelf.

***Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone…