Culture Video

Segregated Sundays… Church Diversity.

While at the Echo Conference 2012 we got a chance to hear Scott Williams speak on Church Diversity. It was a great message and as a man of mixed race, I feel it is important to merge our cultures just as seamlessly as I have been merged. When we pool our differences and celebrate them we clothe ourselves in a richer fabric, we see things through different eyes, our songs, our interactions and our way of life becomes better. Instead of losing ourselves or our identity that we cling to, instead we come together united under one identity – Christ.

Enjoy this awesome video and feel free to share your thoughts as to why you think that churches are still segregated.

Diversity’s Symphony from Emanate Media, Samson Varughese on Vimeo.

"Diversity's Symphony" Poem by David Bowden

Video Directed and Edited by Samson Varughese (EMANATE MEDIA)

Based on the Book, "Church Diversity," by Scott Williams

Check out Scott Williams’ book Church Diversity.

Business Reviews Culture I'm Just Sayin

Don’t give me a turd in a box and tell me it’s chocolate…

It happened AGAIN. I was bamboozled for the 7th time and while the scenarios are all slightly different, the approach was the same.

It starts out with a friend or an acquaintance something like this…

“Hey Eddie, I haven’t seen you in a while, how is your business going?”

“It’s going great, it’s really thriving. God has been good to me.”

“Awesome. You want to grab coffee and catch up?”

Me, being the social person I am is always quick to agree to coffee and conversation.

“I’d love that.”

We then setup a time and meet and sometimes we come around to the real reason why they wanted to meet in the first meeting, but sometimes they wait until the second meeting, or even the third.

The first time this happened I was probably 18. The product was Excel Communications phone service. It was like any other direct marketing scheme where you sign up, IT’s A GREAT DEAL! and you sign up all your friends and then they sign up their friends and EVERYONE GETS RICH! You CANNOT Lose. YOU’D BE AN IDIOT not to sign up now!!!

The offers always sound great and you have to get in RIGHT NOW because it is growing like wildfire.

The second scheme I was hoodwinked into was Advocare. It was the same spiel. Lots of money. Products flying off the shelves. Groundbreaking. The adjectives were always superlative, there were always amazing studies to back up their claims and if that’s not enough there is always an article on CNN, Forbes, MSNBC or some other highly accredited news team that is backing up their product. I have since determined that each of these sources somehow is getting a cut of the money and so they’ll basically plug you or put you on the cover of their mag as long as they get a kickback.

The third product was Stream Energy and then of all things, me, a man, I was suckered and lured by the siren song of the pretty gals at Mary Kay. Yes. I said MARY KAY. These women fawned all over me at the first meeting saying things like “You’ll be great” “Wonderful Personality!” “Instant Sales” “Money in the Bank!!!” Flattery is indeed my greatest weakness and I succumbed to their wooing. $1000 dollars down the drain and lots of shame later… I finally walked away from Mary Kay.

In each of the aforementioned scenarios the person who invited me was a trusted friend and often the pretense was, “This will help YOUR business” or “Your business can help me in MY business!” – Which I misunderstood as a need for a new Web Design or DJ services or maybe even both.

Then if all of those schemes weren’t lesson enough, THREE TIMES I was invited to dinner, had my dinner paid for and then was pretty much sold Life Insurance Policies after a few meetings that were touted as “Financial Planning”. Ugh. SUCH LIES!  The truth was these people needed my business and my contacts. Life Insurance is a need and great for many people with families, but as a single man it is a poor investment – especially, and this is something they don’t tell you, your first couple years of paying on those policies the money all goes to PREMIUMS which means if you cancel your policy after two years you get NOTHING. Zilch. I was literally under the impression that my money was going into a savings account that was growing interest at a higher rate and that while canceling my policy would come with a penalty, I had no idea it meant that penalty would mean I would not even get PENNIES from that investment – nor could I transfer that policy to a new and better policy. Basically I was STUCK. After two years of paying $150 a month I canceled my policy and lost $3600.

So yesterday I met with a gal for lunch and while I sensed some warning flags because she was so persistent, I really thought that she was going to be LEGIT – too legit to quit even. But alas, I was BAMBOOZLED AGAIN. Someone shake me, wake me from this bad dream!!

I get to lunch and her “Friend Janet is going to join us!” – I’m still an idiot thinking that she is really just bringing a friend along and it is 3 people getting to know each other for mutual business networking. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Janet literally came equipped with a 118 page Power Point slide. Did you miss that number ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN PAGES. CHRISTMAS ON A CRACKER!!!!!

So I had my entire afternoon disrupted – which when you are self-employed means LOSS OF INCOME – because I literally always have work to do that makes me money – and it was MISERABlE. This lady literally started talking and didn’t stop for an HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES. Inside I was hating life and hating myself for once again getting stuck in this situation. While here Janet thought that she was DOING ME A FAVOR! In reality I’d rather have been WATERBOARDED than to sit through lunch and have someone sell me some direct marketing Travel Business plan where if I “JUST SIGN UP 10 FRIENDS” and then it pretty much takes on a life of it’s own – type of product. The ONLY positive from this meeting was my lunch was delicious even if I didn’t really get to enjoy it, and at the end of the presentation there was a slide that had a little bit of honesty on it and it pretty much said that if you don’t work hard at it, then you won’t make any money.

So my message to all my friends who sell these types of products is this:

  1. People are WEARY/LEARY/SICKANDTIRED of being sucked in by some scheme where they have to sell all their friends in order to make the plan work.
  2. Is it really so hard to be up front with someone and TELL THEM what you are selling?
  3. Don’t invite someone to lunch or coffee to hang out and then BLINDSIDE them with a product – RUDE.
  4. Stop making false promises.

Truth – Direct Marketing works – if you work really hard and pretty much sell out to it. That means possibly losing all your friends and eventually making this job that is supposedly just side income – a 20-40 hour a week job. Any time you work 20-40 hours a week at something and really work it correctly, it is most likely going to succeed – it just takes time. But the same can be said for any business. You don’t start bringing in mad amounts of clients when you first start a business. iPods weren’t flying off the shelf when they were first launched, but over time a business will pick up traction and it will become less of a hassle finding new clients – especially if your product really is great. So why don’t these direct marketers just come out and say that? Do they really just enjoy spending hours signing up people only to have them drop out 6 months down the road?

In all of these scenarios I was asked “Do you have some friends that you can tell about this product or tell their names so I can sign them up?” – and normally this happened BEFORE I had a chance to try out the product. Word of Mouth sales work best when someone has had a GOOD EXPERIENCE and they genuinely boast about the service or product they received, not because they are trying to twist someone’s arm into trying something.

So there’s my rant for the week. My intention isn’t to hurt anyone with this post but to educate. I’ve lost good friends because of their attempts to sell me on something and eventually I felt like they cared more about their own product/service/cash intake than they cared about me and what kind of client relationship is that?

If you are up front with people then I think that goes a long way. If each of these people had straight up asked me “Do you want this?” I probably would have told them I wasn’t interested, but, if they had given me an outline of the facts, the amount of work involved, and the realistic return of the investment for me to review BEFORE I met with them, then I would have felt like I had an opportunity to really think through the product/service and then if I had questions or more interest then I could meet with them for coffee. This is something I could appreciate and respect.

So there it is. Be warned. I don’t want to park you out on front street for being a bad business person… but park you I will if it comes to that.


Culture God Memoirs Relationships Stories

The Problem of Porn

For starters this blog is VERY frank and open. I don’t hold much back on this post because I don’t think keeping secrets really does anyone any good. We are all jacked up in some way or another, it’s why we need Christ. The views and opinions in this article are my own unless otherwise stated. Leave a comment if you want, but I delete insensitive or unproductive comments.

The Beginning of My Addiction

I was probably 8 years old the first time I saw pornography. This wasn’t just pictures of nude women in Playboy, but the real deal. It belonged to a relative and one of my cousins found the stash and showed it to me. It was frightening and made me feel sick to my stomach.

Fast-forward to 6th grade. I was only 10 years old in the 6th grade. My classmates snuck Playboy mags into the locker room. Guys would huddle around and look as one boy flipped pages. It would last for all of 5 minutes, no harm done right?

A couple years later I worked at a horse ranch at the age of 12. My boss always treated me like an adult. He let me drive his car. He gave me big responsibilities. He left stacks of porn on his doorstep.

Over the years porn would not be something that I would search for, but something that would pretty much be dropped into my lap, however, my addiction to it didn’t really begin until I was about 24. By this time I was no longer living at home or too busy with college and friends. I had settled into a job. I had an apartment by myself and I had access to the internet as well as years of insecurity and repressed desire. As a christian I knew online pornography was wrong, but hey, at least I wasn’t having sex right?

That’s what you do with porn as a christian – you rationalize and justify the sin down until it almost becomes a good thing. It is the lesser of two evils. For married men they probably tell themselves “Well, at least I’m not cheating”. There is always a reason, a justification and now it has become mainstream. When I was a kid people were ashamed to admit to masturbating. Not so anymore. Movies like “Hall Pass” talk about taking mental pictures and storing them in a “Spank Bank”. Magazines for men and women often discuss the best sites for free porn and even tips on masturbation. In an article I read in Details magazine it stated that 1 in 4 had herpes and while the article made it sound like it was a pretty horrific sexually transmitted disease, that in reality the question was not if you’d get it, but when. Porn, Sex, Masturbation STD’s – they are all no big deal… at least that is the lie we’ve been sold.

There is this constant message in our media that seems to suggest that everyone is having sex and that if you aren’t, something is wrong with you. We use sex to sell everything from cheeseburgers to shampoo and there seems to be very little understanding of romance or real intimacy. Instead the guy that shows any sort of sensitivity or romantic feelings for his wife or girlfriend is considered “whipped” – not chivalrous or masculine.

For me I justified my online pornography use even further because I wasn’t looking at “airbrushed perfection” but instead real people. I liked to go into chat rooms. I thought that there was little harm in this despite the intense shame I felt for hiding this dirty secret and even going online to seek out that type of gratification.

This issue plagued me for years. No one really tells you the consequences of porn or that it is addictive like a drug and that it wreaks havoc on your relationships and your mental health. While as kids we are often told not to do something, we aren’t always educated on the real reason as to why not. The simple answer? Because it is freaking dangerous. Online porn will MESS. YOU. UP. Don’t believe me? Read this article. Kids are becoming registered sex offenders at the age of 13 and even younger. There is an epidemic of children under the age of 17 becoming addicted to viewing online porn.

So what do we do? For starters you need to educate your children – boys and girls – at an early age. Make them aware of the dangers and let them know that it is not right and that it is like a drug. The aforementioned article says this:

‘Our research at the clinic has found that although the internet doesn’t create these problems, it can release interests which would never have surfaced otherwise.’

Meaning that when people of any age are exposed to something like meth, cocaine, heroine, pornography – we don’t know what issues and interests will surface. Will everyone that views online porn have an overwhelming addiction or want to rape and maim? No. But there are some that will.

What do you do if you are already addicted to online porn? GET HELP.

I remember going to a friend and telling him “I’m addicted. I’m almost manic with desire and temptation. I’m going to really mess up.” I had even planned an anonymous rendezvous in a hotel that I never followed through with it – less out of heart conviction and more out of a fear of STD’s. Fortunately my friend told me to go and see a counselor and so I did.

How did I overcome my addiction? 

I think that for me I have to remain extremely humble in this area. As someone who was literally shattered by this sin and failed so many times I truly started to believe that it was something that was impossible to give up. I sort of loved my addiction. It was something that I craved when things got tough. Upset because I didn’t get a job? Look at porn. Just got dumped by a girl? Look at porn. Parental problems? Porn. For me porn was always my answer. It was my drug of choice followed closely by food and spending money.

Jesus is the Answer?

For me Jesus was never the answer to my problems, instead I liked to think that he was the cause. I blamed God for so many things in my life (Being Fat, Losing my Hair, Not being born rich, My skin color, Not being cool enough or smart enough…) and while I preached to others about loving Christ and trusting in him, in my own heart this wasn’t the case. I had all these ill feelings and resentments in my life and I was unwilling to truly trust God to provide for me in the areas that I was coming up short – and in case you haven’t noticed from this article I was coming up short in just about every possible area.

Finally after literally years of trying to fix this problem on my own I got help from a counselor and then later a group of guys that kept me accountable. Yeah, I’d had accountability partners in the past but I mostly just lied to them, but this time it was different. This group of guys were quality with a a capital Q. Solid men who were grounded in truth and were willing to actually listen and care. Through them I found the intimacy in my Christian faith that I had been missing for most of my Christian life. God used these guys to show me that Jesus truly was the answer to my problems, I just wasn’t willing to to let go long enough for him to step in and clean up the mess.

It Wasn’t Easy

So how did I overcome this issue? First of all I had to confess my gross past to these dudes and ask for prayer. Then I had to admit to them when I messed up. I lied a few times at the beginning, but they loved me and were so sincere that eventually I came clean 100%. I let them know when I stumbled and over time the allure of online pornography became less and less – but, the desire to masturbate, the biological need was and is still there. I’ll admit it. I’m a dude. We like sex. Duh. But is there a way to just stop masturbating and to forever go this primal urge? To that I have to say I have no idea. What I do know is that I don’t spend 10 hours a month viewing online porn and masturbating every other day. Over time I realized that my desire to self-gratify came more from the desire to escape from how I was feeling and less about sex. I find that when I have a healthy relationship with the Lord as well as my finances, diet and relationships that there isn’t a great need to compulsively masturbate.

Pressing On

Being a single man of integrity is not easy, but being a single man who is addicted to internet porn isn’t so great either. Eventually my desire to escape from reality to internet porn diminished entirely. This I believe is a sweet, sweet gift that I received from the Holy Spirit and is something I never want to take credit for or take for granted. Like a serial dieter I had become a serial quitter when it came to pornography and each time I gave back in to my temptation it was pure bliss… and then suddenly it wasn’t. It was strange really. I went from being constantly plagued with these desires to suddenly having this feeling of “What are you doing? You aren’t even enjoying this…” Something in me literally clicked. Like a key turning in the lock to release my chains. For the first time I truly felt free. Now in the past I have had these little breakthroughs where I feel like I’ve overcome a big addiction. I’ve lost 20-30 pounds on a diet and vowed never to return to Dr. Pepper only to give in 30, 60, or even 90 days down the road. Normally during these periods of “Break Through” I would still have a craving but I would have willpower or this great feeling of pride in my self and what I had accomplished. My Facebook status would tout my abstinence or achievement and I’d feel good about myself for my amazing willpower. That wasn’t the case this time. For me I had a Romans 12:2 moment where I literally understood first-hand what it meant to no longer be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I understood the verse in John 8:32 about the truth and how it will set you free and finally I had a new confidence, not in myself, but in Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit and how Paul said in Philippians 1:6 that he who began a good work in me would carry it out until completion. I’m still being worked on. I’m a big fat work in progress, but now I’ve truly decided to take the easy way out and the easy way is trusting in Jesus. Before everyone told me “Oh, that’s the easy way out” when it came to porn, but in reality porn carries a heavy price with it. It traps your mind and warps your thinking. It holds you in bondage so tightly that eventually the sick strain becomes comfortable and you no longer hunger and thirst for the things that will satisfy you, but instead you have an insatiable appetite for something that is destroying you.

Continued Growth

For me the next steps are to continue in deep prayer and connection to the Holy Spirit. I have to constantly guard my eyes and resist even minuscule temptations. In the past I allowed my mind to wander and even invited mental images that would arouse and even justify them as being “not that big of a deal”. Now I know different.  2 Corinthians says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I love that word “Demolish”. I love the idea of obliterating evil thoughts that come into my mind. The same thoughts that would have me believe that this world and all it’s shiny trappings can somehow take the place of Jesus Christ in my life. Those thoughts that I once welcome with open arms I know want to punch in the face. “LIES!” I want to shout in the face of temptation.

Now each day I live with gratitude that my eyes have been opened to see the path of destruction that I was headed down. I am so thankful every day to the 5 men in my accountability group that have walked this final leg of my looong journey through recovery and continue to walk by my side each day in prayer and support.

Finally, I pray that you are not where I was – standing on a precipice waiting for the inevitable fall – and if you are slipping, I hope that you have someone in your life that is reaching out a hand of hope and salvation and if you don’t have that, then please shout for help.

Other Resources and Articles that I Found Helpful

How Jesus Overcame my Porn Addiction

There’s no Such Thing as Free Porn

I used Eddie Traughber as a counselor for a year, he was the first step in my recovery process.

Download or Read online Porn-Again Christian

Feel free to contact me directly if you need to talk or want some help.



I Hate Religion

Another great video from Jeff Bethke. So much truth in such a short amount of time.

Culture Design Job Updates Technology

Moving On…

Last night was my last day with Denton Bible Church Student Ministries. It was very difficult to make the decision to leave, but once it was made, I realized that it was the best decision.

After almost 2 years of working part time for Denton Bible Church I learned a great deal, but now I want to focus more on Seminary and my own web design business.

Working part time at the church for 29 hours a week unfortunately did not pay the bills and with school and 2 other jobs it meant that I had to work around 60-70 hours a week in order to successfully run my businesses and do well at student ministries. I realized that something had to give. I think ministry should be challenging, but it should not always leave you feeling burnt out and overworked. As Christians and ministers we should be serving joyfully from the overflow that God provides – I was no longer doing that.

What I will miss most is the students and seeing their bright smiles and watching and as they mature and learn to love Jesus. I am thankful to DBC for allowing me to serve in such a large capacity and I learned so much about what it means to work for a church.

So What’s Next…

I plan to start working more on my creative goals. I’d love to get more invested in an art-based ministry in Denton, TX. Maybe I’ll start my own, maybe I’ll join one that already exists, but either way I definitely see my life moving more toward art and design and how that impacts faith, culture and religion.

I also have written two books. One is fiction, the second is autobiographical. I’d like to work on them, fine tune them and then try to get them published.

I run a DJ business that has been booming. I’d like to figure out a way to make myself Denton’s Best Event DJ with a bunch of cool props and lights.

Lastly, I’d like to learn more in the realm of video editing with After Effects and brush up on my InDesign and Illustrator skills to accompany what I already do with Photoshop and Dreamweaver.