Saturday, January 29, 2011


Imagine a large group of people, sitting down in a vast room with rows upon rows of benches. All of the people there made it for their once-a-week appointment to hear an older gentleman give a sermon about Christ and the Bible. He gives a very well-thought-out message and may have even been led by the Holy Spirit to speak powerfully and with conviction.

If you thought that what I was describing to you was church, you would be wrong.

Now, bear with me for a little bit before you sign me off as a nut-job who doesn't even know what this cultural phenomenon we call "church" is. If we look in the Scriptures at the time that follows Christ's death, we see what the church looks like and how it formed. I am sorry to say that what we have today cannot be usually described as "the church."

A lot of the early church days were documented in the book of Acts. We see that the church is simply a body of believers living life together in their pursuit of Christ. Now don't get me wrong, the scene I described to you is in no way something bad.

It is; however, only a starting point.

The members of the early church knew that their Christian walk could not be lived out once a week in a building with four walls. It involved community and sharing. People (who normally should not even be put in a room together) would form bonds so strong that it could only be explained as supernatural and a work of the Holy Spirit. They would confess their deepest, darkest sins to each other, rejoice in one another's victories, carry each others' burdens, give to their brothers in need, and form a community so strong that not even the gates of Hell could prevail against it! (Matt. 16:18) They were a family in every sense of the word.

Now I'm sorry, but I don't really see too much of that happening nowadays. What I do see is gossiping, backstabbing, people getting lost in a crowd, hidden pain, and discontentment. My friends, this should not be so! We weren't just saved from our sins, we were saved to the body of Christ!

We do not attend church, we belong to it.

There needs to be some serious re-evaluation of the condition of the churches today. A revolution in the way we connect and live life together as believers in the same God.

I will leave you with two things.

There is a man by the name of Francis Chan who used to pastor a church in California. After listening to a lot of what he speaks about, and how he speaks about it, I know that Mr. Chan has a huge calling on his life and is obsessed with God. This is mainly the reason that he felt such a large conviction when presented with this scenario:

An ex-gang member who had been saved out of his life of darkness had started to visit pastor Chan's church and had been going for a while. After a certain amount of time, Francis noticed that the gang member had not been there for a few weeks. He e-mailed the fellow and asked about his disappearance. The gang member's reply went on to say that he came to the church with a gang mentality. He clarified and said that in a gang, members are so tight and connected, that they are considered to be the same blood. They would jump in front of a bullet for each other. Their lives were as interwoven as any could be.

The ex-gang member did not find this type of community in the church. Shame on us. And I do say "us" because I am also to blame for trying to live "my own life."

While mulling over this Biblical idea, I got to thinking about how fake people (including me) tend to be in the church. This inspired me to write a little bit of poetry.

Ankle - Deep

What's wrong with our churches?
What's wrong with our lives?
Why is God angry?
Why does He cry?

He hates our parades,
He hates our disguise.
He hates that His bride
Carries out her demise.

We think He won't see
What we hide from ourselves.
Even we can't take in
The lies that we tell.

The "self" we portray
Is so painfully fake -
Like drowning inside
An ankle-deep lake.

They say love is deep
That Christ's love is wide,
But maybe we're all swimming
In the kiddie-pool tide.

God has given us the ability to live out this community because he knows that it is fulfilling and joyful. Yes, it is at times embarrassing, (when sharing sins) but when we open ourselves to our fellow believers, we find that life becomes something to be shared and celebrated. Something intentional.

Something supernatural.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Legs Made for Walking

There come a few times in someone's life when they meet someone who is truly different. Those are the moments that I try to treasure and take hold of. For me, one of those times came last week.

I belong to (not just attend) a church and its youth group. As an 18 year-old, I am one of the leaders at this group. I used to be terrified when my youth pastors would say something along the lines of, "Go and talk to someone you don't know," but recently, God has been tearing at my seams and stretching me, so I try as much as possible to gravitate towards the youth who are lonely and aren't talking to anyone.

So last week, I met someone, who (for the sake of confidentiality) we will call Simon. Simon is different. Not by any choice of his own, but by something that he has had to deal with all his life. He has a deformed left leg. When I saw him hobbling around on his crutches, I made it a point to go talk to him and make him feel welcome.

He was one of the nicest guys ever. In fact, the reason I used to be terrified to speak to new people was not because I didn't know what to say, but for the simple fact that most high-school students don't know how to carry a normal conversation. I feared the awkward.

Simon was not awkard.

I basically spent most of my time with him all throughout the night, and I learned a lot. He was born with his defect, and he's been having surgeries on and off for the past 16 years. (His entire life.) I believe he said that he's had somewhere around 20 surgeries, with little rest in between. He loved to snowboard. (Shocker, eh?) Simon showed me his brace (which had pins all throughout that were jabbed into his leg at various points.) He's dealt with extreme pain his entire life (but seemed kinda freaked out when I told him about the pain from braces for your mouth. Go figure.)

But here's what got to me about his whole situation: he had just gone through his last surgery ever and only had to wait 2-3 months (if everything went well) before he could begin his new life with a leg that is almost exactly perfect. After 16 grueling, painful years, he was intensely impatient to get the brace off and start living life.

His entire life was spent gearing up for this final moment of liberation.

And that, my friends is what our lives should be like.

Paul the apostle says, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21) I never really understood what that meant for a long time, but lemme try to lay it out for you. Paul is trying to say that if God gives him another day to live, then He will use it for Christ. But if God decides to take Paul's life, then it is better because he will finally get to go to Heaven.

Just like Simon is spending his entire life looking forward to being freed from his physical problem, Paul was looking forward to being freed from his physical body to finally be at Heaven's gates.

I used to think that Heaven would be boring. A drag. And plus, I had other things I wanted to do before I got there!

In other words, I imagined myself with a bunch of other people sitting around playing harps and singing all day. Every day. For all eternity. And that's just the beginning. But recently, the Holy Spirit has been showing me that Heaven will be better than anything on this earth (including those things that I wanted to get done). It will be pleasurable and joyful beyond our wildest dreams.

We will be continuously in the presence of the living God! How crazy is that!?!

And if that doesn't excite you, I encourage you to look at Paul's life. He looked forward to being in the presence of God because he had tasted bits and pieces of God's glory, power, and majesty all throughout his life.

But it wasn't enough for him. That is why he looked forward and upward. Because he knew that Heaven would be so fulfilling and amazing because it is the place where we experience more of God than we ever have here on this earth. He goes on to say that he considers "everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:8)

When the purpose of your life is to point to the next, you will find the most joy in the present.

This life is tough. It hurts. It's got a grenade launcher pointed right at us. But we have hope, because we look forward to when Christ will heal us of all our pain, suffering, and baggage.

We see the kingdom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Ultimate Irony

Inception. Great movie, right? I thought so.

Honestly, I would say that Inception is one of the most cleverly thought-out films of the past few years. I would even go as far as to say as it's now one of my favorite films of all time. In any case, it was brilliant. If you haven't seen it, check it out. You'll thank me later.

Anyways, on to my point. Inception is one of those movies that leaves the ending up to the viewer to decide how it ended. It's a good way to make a long-lasting impression in all of the white noise of the film industry nowadays. I discussed the movie and its ending with a variety of friends and family and I noticed something. Almost everyone I spoke with, after watching the movie, had gone online and looked up different theories, speculations, and ideas as to the conclusion of the movie. Debates and arguments ensued over the film. They were desperate to resolve (at least in their own minds) the ending. They were scrambling to find out how they story ends. Now here's what bothered me in this entire situation.

Nobody wants to know how their own story ends.

Humanity has a habit of obsessing over worthless things, (like movies) but missing the biggest question. The only question that really matters. This, my friends, is the ultimate irony.

Let me explain. Most people go through life with a "take it and go" or "go with the flow" mentality. They plan little for the future and give minimal consideration to what happens to the rest of their lives past the immediate few weeks, if that. If I can ask you, the reader, to consider one thing, out of all other lans for the future, let it be this: eternity.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, "What if the after-life doesn't exist?" Hear me out, now. For the person who asked this question, I will encourage you with this:

Find out.

If it doesn't exist, then, hey, who gives a flying flip? But, if it does, what you have to find out is what that after-life is going to look like. Is it going to be kittens and butterflies or poison and snakes? Are you going to spend the rest of eternity in hell or in heaven?

Now, keep in mind, I am not using scare tactics or anything, but I simply want you to consider this: If there is a possibility of hell in the after-life, you have to make sure you do everything in this life to avoid it. You owe it to yourself, if nothing else.

I believe that among the many different philosophies and religions, Jesus stands out. He claimed to be God, (John 8:58), offered the forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), and told people that he was the only way to heaven. (John 14:6) So you can't just put Christ in a box with all of the other "theories" that are out there for salvation. He is singular in His statements and ferocious in His claims.

The best part about this? It's not just a belief. It's a relationship with the Person who put you together and gave you the ability to live, breathe, and do everything you do. (including reading these words) It's forgiveness for all of the messed-up garbage we do every day. It's acceptance into His Kingdom, adoption into His family, and unconditional, no-strings-attached love. So much love, in fact, that He died so you could receive these things. His death purchased your freedom.

So take it, and find out how your story ends.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Kingdom

First off, let me start by saying that this is not a blog.

At least not in the way you're used to thinking about it. This is a preparation. A burden. A vision. Although the medium through which this information is published is a blog, the content in these writings has much more meaning, significance, and substance than a "weblog" can contain.

Next, I'd like to stress that I'm kinda crazy.

By all accounts, the things that I will begin to write step outside of the normal bounds of what society has deemed to be "acceptable" and "normal." I will admit, though, sometimes the things that I say are going to be pretty normal and understandable. At other times, however, I'm gonna say things that sound absurd. That's all right, though. 'Cause, see, the things that I'm saying are not my own ideas. They come from Higher Intelligence and I have been commanded to spread these thoughts to the group of people that consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ.

See? That sounded kinda crazy, huh?

In any case, let me also say that this is not about me. I know that I've used the word "I" a whole lot in the last few paragraphs, but that's irrelevant. My purpose with these writings is not that I draw attention to myself, make much of myself, or promote my own pride in any way. That is why I choose to remain anonymous. It is unimportant for you to know who I am by name. However, I believe you should know some of who I am in order to see that I am not a third-class nut-job. I will try to condense what you need to know about me in a few bullet points:

  • I am a follower of the person and works of Jesus Christ.
  • I don't amount to much. I am sinful and wicked. But at the same time, I have a God who can love me when I am unlovable. And for whatever reason, it pleases Him to treasure me as a precious creation of His.
  • I believe that Jesus is one with the Father God (Jehovah), and the Holy Spirit. They exist as three in one in such a way that the finite minds of humans cannot understand.
  • I believe that the Kingdom of God is coming very, very soon, and the people of earth have very little time left.
  • I believe that the Scriptures contained in the Holy Bible are perfect and complete, and whatever I say will be said in an effort to keep with the guidelines laid out in it. 
  • The Holy Spirit has given me certain things to say, and I cannot keep my mouth shut and expect to live my life obedient to God without saying many of these things.
Now that you know a little about me, you have to know yourself. The writings that are to ensue are for those who believe that they are followers of Jesus Christ and the Bible. I don't care if you're male, female, black, white, paper, or plastic. The only criteria for you to be here is what I just laid out. If this is true of you, then you are in the right place. If you are not, I encourage you to give your life to Christ and start living for Him. Not so you can read these silly anecdotes from a silly person, but so you can live the rest of eternity with a purpose and a meaning.

Ok, so now that we've got some of the details out of the way, let's continue on to the juicy part, eh? The reason that you're here.

As I've said, I believe that the Kingdom of God is knocking on our door. What do I mean by that? The world is slowly coming to an end. And by slowly, I mean quickly. Now, at this point of your reading, you're probably thinking about that whole "crazy" thing I was talking about. But bear with me.

If you believe the Scriptures, then you know that there are certain signs that the Bible speaks about. These signs will show the believers that the world is coming very near its expiration date. These signs are glaring all around us, people. The world is in turmoil and is preparing itself for something epic.

The Scriptures show that the righteous will be ready. As Christ-followers, we can often "feel" the rhythm of the coming God - the return of Christ. Just like the bass that reverberates in our core at concerts, we can feel the drum-beat that signals the arrival of the coming of the glory of God. And that, my friends is what I wish to write about. That is my purpose here. To help you get ready. To prepare you for the times that are about to begin.

Matthew 7 refers to people who will come, on judgment day, before the throne of the living God and say, "Hey! Look at all this cool stuff I did for you! I performed miracles and did all of this crazy spiritual stuff in your name!" His response?

"Get out of my face, you wicked ones."

Matthew goes on to say that only those who have their heart right before God will enter Heaven. So if you can take anything from my pitiful attempt at helping you grow, let it be that I desperately desire for you to get your heart right before God. In a nutshell, that's what this whole fiasco is about.

It's what I'm begging you for.