Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Latest at : Thoughts on the Present State of G.I.Joe

I've been a G.I. Joe fan for a very, very long time--first as a child, then as a high schooler, then a college student, and even now as I type this--even after those two movies they made--I remain a fan (and I turn 32 on Monday).

Yep. Still.

Of course, in the changing cultural climate, G.I. Joe has had a tumultuous reception, not only due to the film but the concept itself. Being a writer, I had to sort through my emotions by putting my thoughts to page (screen?). was kind enough to indulge me, and one of the Joe Die hards at a separate site in their network,, was even willing to fact-check and improve it (Thanks, Terrance).

Interested in G.I. Joe? You may find this worth a read.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hiatus

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stronghold : One Year Anniversary

One year ago today, I released my first novel. Entitled, Stronghold, the book follows a Christian believer who seeks to overcome temptation by imagining his soul as a fantasy realm wherein warrior angels and demonic powers battle for influence and territory. The books came from a very organic personal experience, and it's development was the rare instance of inspiration that writers crave but few experience.

Stronghold's completion seems just as fortuitous. Though I had composed the first draft while still gainfully employed in California, I completed it during the huge amount of time provided by my nine months out of work in Delaware. Had I obtained a job immediately upon our arrival to the East Coast, Stronghold might still be in revisions (and my second novel might not have been started).

The emotional roller-coaster since Stronghold's publication has been exhausting. Participating in written and audio videos has been encouraging, but sales not so much. The initial swell of pride after completing the book was replaced gradually with the realization that it may not be as good as I had thought or, at least, has not connected with readers as I'd expected. 

The experience has been as much of a disappointment as it has a personal triumph, but I have an aching suspicion that's the point. Perhaps I am supposed to realize that my writing, while valuable, may never be able to support us. Maybe I need to see that my experiences and ideas are far less accessible than I assumed. And God might have led me through this for the simple purpose of reminding me that I must take joy in his salvation and find true personal fulfillment in him alone, regardless of accomplishment or lack thereof. Then again, maybe it's a combination of all three.

The bottom line is really this: a year after publication, Stronghold has failed to perform in any capacity to the levels I had expected, but that's okay. God is still God; God is still good, and I am still his spiritual son--sealed with his Holy Spirit. This is enough. Stronghold's existence (and performance) is a bonus.

As I reflect on these things, I am deeply motivated. I have written a novel. I CAN write another. And that one can be better. That one can find it's audience. But even if it doesn't, I am still in my Heavenly Father's loving hands. 

And that's a good place to be.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Alistair McGrath

Most modern evangelicals would probably love to have lunch with C.S. Lewis.

Lewis is one of the most revered thinkers of the last century, and his students and personal letters suggest he was something of a gregarious figure and wonderful conversationalist.  This is not surprising considering his body of written work, which includes Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and the beloved Chronicles of Narnia.

Thus, Alister McGrath’s recent work, If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis, seems as much a piece of wish fulfillment as it does exploration of Lewis’ ideas. McGrath is wise, however, in not really placating this desire for the reader via a fictional dialogue. Rather, out of respect for Lewis (and the reader), McGrath carefully crafts scenarios of what we might expect from Lewis in conversation, rather than provide a narrative of what would occur.  This difference is subtle but useful, as it avoids the “well, I don’t think it would play like that” criticism that would plague any book containing imagined interactions with historic figures.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

10 Tried and True Dieting Tips

Back in Fall 2007, a buddy of mine and I decided to lose 15 pounds each. I did it, but with little real affect. In fact, I put the weight back onto my body within six months.


Pride. I hit my goal and acted like I was set for life. Little did I know that my cholesterol was going to skyrocket, and my liver would look problematic come my next testing in July of 2008. My entire life changed that summer, when I realized I needed to take my health seriously. I still do, and right now I am at 180 lbs, the lowest weight I've maintained since high school, with good blood pressure and healthy biometrics (according to my last test back in February, with a recent one to be finalized by next week). As I've grown in my faith, I've also recognized that this body and its health is a gift, as its health and well-being. This led me to an even more zealous pursuit of wellness--wellness as worship. This was a game changer.

But part of my long term success was due to my reaching that 2007 goal. The practice, albeit with short term results, made me believe that long term success was possible should I remain dedicated. I did, and now I am healthier than I have ever known myself to be.

Below are some starting points for you to do the same or change your game plan if you've plateaued.

This post was originally published at, on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 8:41 am

How to shed a few calories…

By Christopher Stunkard

Friends, countrymen, Folks abroad, People of earth, and anyone else reading this, I give to you greetings, thanks, and my warmest Thursday morning well wishes.
As many of you know I have been fighting my obesity for several weeks–I think it’s been 4 now– and last night, shin splints not withstanding, I reached my original goal of dropping from 244 to 229!!!! 15 pounds folks. And you know what, I only worked out 3-4 days a week and altered my diet. I didn’t force myself to the gym every day. I didn’t starve myself. Sure, I killed myself every time I hit the gym, which is hard, but the diet change was so simple, it was ridiculous. I probably made about 20-30 actual overall changes to my lifestyle, but here’s a few specifics that I think really made the difference.
1) I cut out soda. I have had a few sips of my wife’s Pepsi if she got a value meal while we were out, but that’s it. No full cans for me. Or beer–and let me tell you, not having beer was like removing laughter from my life. I do miss my Killian's. I may have a celebratory one in the coming weeks if I can get down to 225.
2) I gave up buns to get buns–meaning I gave up the buns from burgers and the shells from tacos to tighten my own caboose. Yep, when we’d hit Taco Bell, I’d take all the goodies from my chalupas and put them in a bowl with a half head of romaine lettuce–bada-bing, TACO salad. I did the same thing with a Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic, and it was so good, I almost fainted. As I began counting calories recently, [I] realized how many dead calories come in those processed rolls and things we get. Here’s a little tidbit. If I am at Taco Bell, and I get 2 Baja Steak Gorditas, I’m buying 540 calories. If I remove just the two shells and nothing else, I’m ridding myself of at least 200 calories (maybe more since the bulk of the secret sauce is applied directly to the shell. Now, if I add a serving of Romaine lettuce, that’s 20 calories. I’ve cut 180 calories out of the meal with that minor change–to translate, that’s about the amount of calories I’d burn on the treadmill after going 1 mile at a slow jog. Last night we went to [The Bell], and I got myself three Spicy chicken tacos at 170 calories a piece. I rid myself of the three, 90-calorie Tortillas (270), and I put the contents in a bowl with Lettuce (20), cheese (about 40), and sprinkles of Hormel bacon (about 15), I had still cut 195 calories out of the meal, plus made a bumpin' salad.
3) I eat when I want to eat, but I eat slowly. This will sound ridiculous, but I never appreciated the wonderful taste of pretzels until I began eating them one at a time. Yes, I have taken to that method. I eat one item at a time, and I no longer double-up bites. What I mean is, I do not take a second bite until I have chewed and swallowed the first. Not only do I fill up on less, but I savor every bite. Delicious.
4) Celery. Oh yes, my friends. I have substituted out Doritos, Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Skittles for this ever-crunchy vegetable. There’s some rumor that it burns more calories to digest celery than the vegetable has, but I don’t think it’s true. The stuff’s mostly water, but it does fill me up, and it is light on the calorie count.
5) Serving size. One major thing I’ve done during this “shed the pounds” phase is eat less but eat more frequently. I usually have 5 small meals a day instead of the common 3 with intermediate snacking. 2 of those 5 small meals are usually half a serving size of something a little more heavy–like mixed nuts or peanut butter on the spoon. Eating only half the serving size of something will still fill me up enough to make it to my next meal without being starving all the time. It’s been a good system.
6) Embrace activity. Obviously, the sedentary lifestyle of a 9-5 desk job is the easiest cause for gaining that glut of a gut, so I’ve taken to embracing every opportunity I have to be active. I have a stress ball at work, which I try to squeeze 50-100 every hour or 90 minutes, and I enjoy walking wherever I can. Taking on the activity has helped reduce the sitting and gaining.
7) Track your progress. In the past, I’ve tried dieting, and I have become discouraged far too fast. I was working hard but didn’t see the results. Well, I forgot that I see my ugly mug every day; and as a result, the gradual change to my face and build during weight loss (or gain) become unnoticeable. Well, I’ve weighed myself 3-4 times a week, and I’ve seen the real results, and it’s spurred me forward, which is great.
8) Splurge. About once a week, I let myself go “all out” for a single meal. I enjoy 2 big slices of Pizza, or extra lasagna, or fried shrimp. I make sure to run the next day (that’s a condition of mine, to run within 48 hours of the splurge), and it’s kept me sane. I don’t really see the problem in doing it either, it’s not like one meal’s gonna undo everything for which I worked–unless the meal was bacon with nacho cheese dipping sauce, that might cause some damage–but it’d probably be worth it.
9) I take less food at a time and stop when I’m full. I used to just eat and eat. I had to eat until I was finished what I was given. Now I take smaller portions at the outset and I eat them slowly. If I’m not full, a take a much smaller (usually half or less) second portion. Usually that fills me up, and it’s LESS than if I have a horde of food on my plate at the beginning that I feel the need to finish.
10) Enjoy yourself. This is probably the biggest thing for me, and it’s 100% mental. I relish my time at the gym. When I’m on that treadmill, I love the feeling of just running. No pressure, I can just go at my own pace. Same thing on stair master or bike. When I eat, I love the sensation of each bite of food. I savor every bite I take. I am appreciating the process; and because of that, because I feel like I’m really “doing it right” it makes it much easier to alter my lifestyle to fit my goals. It’s wonderful.

So, here I am from 244 down to 229. I was originally intending to hit 229 by December 5th, but I’m pretty far ahead of that. Now, the bulk of what I lost was water weight, I’m sure, so I’m gonna really have to strive to shed more pounds here in the upcoming weeks. I am thinking a good, safe new goal for the 5th is 225, which may not sound like much more, but MAINTENANCE is a big part of this equation. So, we’ll see how that goes. Any suggestions on how I can continue to learn and burn. Teach me in the comments section!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Small Group Leader? Youth Leader? Pastor? You should read this.

A groundswell is coming.  If you’ve been in a body of believers—a real community with vulnerability, honesty, and confession—than you’ve probably seen the truth.  Christ’s bride has an addiction problem. It’s not alcohol. It’s not smoking. It’s pornography.

In the minute or two it takes to read this article, over 30,000 people have been watching pornography online.

And a portion of the people with whom you worship on Sunday are the ones doing the watching—and, in some cases, creating.  Porn has become ubiquitous. Any teenager with a smartphone can access an unlimited amount of erotic material, and for the first time since the 1970’s, a blatantly pornographic work has become a normalized part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Still Recommending SPEED RACER (2008)

Humans beings have been given a wonderful gift. I believe that this gift comes from a Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ; others disagree--that's their choice. But I think that regardless of our opinions of the source, we can all agree that the gift has been given to us. The gift is this: we humans get to do something that no other species gets to experience. We connect to art.

We experience catharsis, emotionally connecting with another person's creative work. They produce, but we feel. We react. We experience. It's a breathtaking privilege we have to do this.

Like most of our blessings, we take it for granted. We digest media like snacks; we think little of any particular bite and forget the event before we're done digesting what we ate. People spend two years of their lives creating a novel, five years of their lives creating a film, or ten years creating an album--they strive to put their vision to canvas or medium, and we give it a viewing and move forward. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In God's Image : Storytellers : Stew Redwine

In Gods Image: Subcreators in a Created World
An Ongoing Series from 3LCpublishing

Below are interview questions I sent to Stew Redwine, founder and head of, a firm that creates top-notch "web videos that increase clarity and conversion". 

Stew and I attended Biola University around the same era in the early 2000's, and he was always an encouragement to me despite our running in different circles (although I believe we once appeared in a classroom play together). Stew caught my attention over the last year with his impressive "Love Thy Audience" e-mails and blog series, a very grounded and useful run of weekly exhortations on the creative process and purpose. Additionally, he recently completed a short entitled, "The Joust", which I felt was enjoyable and worth viewing (so I embedded it below), and he also released a video regarding a failed project that I felt was one of the most sincere directorial apologies I've ever witnessed. He's a creative person who works with integrity and excellence, as well as a fellow believer; therefore, I felt he was an excellent fit for the "In God's Image" series.

Please join me in getting to know Stew Redwine a bit better. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Latest Published Article: Fighting the Good Fight

I have been talking with Jarrad Miller, founder and lead at the online ministry, GodoverPorn.Org. Jarrad has been a presence for raising awareness through not only his own site and Twitter (where he and I met) but also his own city. Jarrad is the type of dude who drives to adult bookstores and puts his business card with the GOP address on windshield wipers of shoppers.

Yeah, he keeps it real.

He was recently willing to publish an article that I wrote for his newly-redesigned site, and I invite you to check it out as we continue into this new week. Entitled, "Fighting the Good Fight", the article is an encouragement to believers to keep holding strong in the face of constant temptation.

Hopefully readers will take it to heart, if only to make it through this next week or even just today.

Check out GodOverPorn for more.

NOTE: GodOverPorn does not control the post-video content and recommendations made by Youtube; and therefore, their promotional video may have thumbnails after its conclusion which it does not endorse, promote, or otherwise desire to share affiliation whatsoever. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Writing Update

On a related note to my prior post, I am ecstatic to be moving into our new place. The unit contains a loft that my wife recommended I use as an office. We’ve already done the floor plan, and I’ve even ordered my first new piece of décor. For the first time, I will have a writing room specifically set aside to make a mess, outline ideas, and create. I have plans to utilize the space in real ways that will hopefully increase productivity and provide for a wonderful working environment in the evenings and weekends.

My hopes for productivity in the back half of 2014 have exponentially increased. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflections After Moving Weekend

God really blesses his children.

My wife and I are proof of that. We’ve had some very hard days over the last few months. I cherish the time we’ve had with my parents, but living out of a room in the house wherein I was raised had challenges. We never really took ownership of any space outside our bedroom; the bulk of our possessions were in storage, and we were far more fluid with our time and boundaries than we had ever been in the past. The struggles from week to week were social, emotional, and spiritual.

Yet we were blessed even in that time. Regardless of difficulties, I felt our relationship deepen--through hard conversations about real concerns and dynamics. Plus, we were able to save a good deal of money, live close to our respective offices, assist my parents in several ways, and experience a wealth of great memories. Inasmuch as the situation had its hardships, we have had a wonderful time in that old house.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The 2014 Summer Movie Season Has Come…aaaaand I am Probably Staying Home

Here’s the thing. Every summer since 2008 I have been disappointed at the movies.

While I left both Furious 6 and Man of Steel very pleased in June of 2013, the reprehensibly indecent and disappointing Iron Man 3 left a sour taste in my mouth for the whole season (and The Wolverine didn't help). In the prior summer, The Avengers gave me the most fun experience I've had at the movies since 2008’s Speed Racer, and the moving The Dark Knight Rises closed the curtain on my attending the movies as a resident in southern California (which is a different experience than attending anywhere else). Yet in 2012, I also had the displeasure of sitting through The Amazing Spider-man. Ugh. Plus, nearly every movie from those summers that I caught on DVD was equally disappointing, with the exception of the entertaining Pacific Rim.