Friday, December 21, 2012

Swedish Bitters, Thomas Watson, and Pleasure

My dad has this weird thing where certain foods are too sweet. Excuse me? "Too sweet" is not an idea that I can even wrap my head around. That's basically like saying, "Life is too good," or "the sky is too blue." Surely, this is a concept that does not exist. I refuse to believe it.

Out of things I hate, three things I know: NyQuil, holes in my socks, and Swedish Bitters.

"What are Swedish Bitters?" you ask?

Stop yelling and I'll tell you.

Swedish Bitters is a drink basically concocted in the cauldrons of the nether-world. It's made from the concentrated forms of everything you know that's bitter: bad coffee, limes, your ex-wife. (Too far?) Essentially, it's everything you'd never want to drink. In a bottle. And it's Swedish. Which is a shocker, 'cuz the Swedes started off so well with their fish and meatballs. (Yup, too far.)

Anyway, my dad loves the stuff. Guy drinks a little bit everyday. Do I understand this behavior? No. Do I almost revisit my lunch every time I smell the open bottle? Yes.

"Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet."

Thomas Watson was an interesting man. He rejected the Church of England during his lifetime in the 1600s, which was huge. This labeled him as what was called a "Noncomformist." He died while praying in secret. And he also stumbled across this very striking idea that the love, or even tolerance of sin is in direct opposition of the pleasure of Christ. The Psalmist would put it this way:
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16) 
In other words, it is not only a question of what your love/tolerance of sin points to as far as the condition of your heart, but of whether or not you really want to experience the fullness of Joy found in Christ. This would be akin to a child throwing a tantrum because he wants to put his hand on the stove while his parent is instead trying to offer him some cake. And let's be real: who doesn't love cake?

So, will you today take the cake, or burn your hand once more on the flame of your ultimately regretful desires?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reactions to Sandy Hook

The idea of functioning normally was blown away as quickly as the bullets which left the barrel of Adam Lanza's gun. The plans were made in advance. I was going to spend the night hanging out with my friends and family, but having a good time and joking around didn't seem like the appropriate response to the horror filling the hearts of dozens and dozens of families at that very moment.

You don't really prepare for these kinds of things. You just react. And the reaction is the most important thing.

Hearing about twenty-eight dead women and children sparks things in people that they didn't really know they had in them to begin with. Some feel the sorrow of a thousand dark nights cover their souls. Some feel distant, disconnected, and wishing to be more passionate. Some are painted in the murderous wrath which is aggravated with a feeling of helplessness.

We're talking about kids.

Virginia Tech was one thing. Columbine was a tragedy. My hearts go out to those affected in those shootings, and this in no way lessens the devastation they dealt and are dealing with, but unloading a gun multiple times into a child's body at a close range is something different entirely. A child is someone who cannot fight. Tears are the only response that can come from a little girl or boy with cold steel pressed up to their forehead. Demonic doesn't begin to describe what's going on here.

And, while our reaction is crucial, God's reaction to this is of much more substance.

During times like these, millions of spiteful, hatred-filled questions fill the air, forming an attack on how a loving God could let this sort of thing happen. Now, the response for that is a much more complex idea than what can be written on a humble site such as this, but to put it as briefly as possible, I turn to the Scriptures.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
God is still loving. God is still omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. God is still our Savior in times of need. The Scriptures are filled to the brim with making the point that God cares deeply for women and children. It is no small thing to God that these are the very people that were affected today.

So if you weep today, know that God weeps with you, and is near. Simply reach.


Friday, December 7, 2012

They're Waiting for You

Dear _______,

He's watching your every step. Every time he sees you, he waits to mimic your success so he can be victorious as well. To him, every word of yours might as well be liquid gold. He waits for you to one day acknowledge him, and give him the love that he needs.

Only, he can't, because those two things you call your legs are no longer working. You're crippled. He will never have the opportunity to see your success, because your road to progress has been a downward slope. That gold coming out of your mouth might as well be sewage, and you won't even be able to acknowledge him, because you've never even met him.


We're talking about the little boy that you may or may not have an impact on in the future. You don't know each other yet, but when you meet him, will you be in a place to change his life?

Because as it stands now, you've been wallowing in sin, and it's destroying your testimony.

How will you teach him to be humble when your ultimate desire is to build your own legacy? How will you teach him to flee from lust when your eyes are peeled to every skirt that walks past you? How will you teach him to love others when the slightest of offenses creates in you an anger rivaled only by The Hulk? How will you teach him to use his time wisely when you spend hours on only the most supremely banal of pursuits?


Will you sacrifice this boy's victory for this momentary pleasure? Will you throw away the opportunity to point him past your glass cage to the God who lives inside? To show him that satisfaction rests outside of anything he's ever known?

That window of time is growing smaller. Your moments of pleasure are making your time shorter than an overused pencil. And the more of it you spend drowning in sin is the same amount of time you could be using to save someone else lost at sea.

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5)

So, are you going to strap on a life jacket, or will you continue to drown? Remember, he's waiting.



This letter is addressed to me.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Exit Stage Right

I grew up in a small church that had my mom as the drama director. Essentially what this means is I was the go-to choice for the lead character. I'm not sure that this was the best decision. I was young, impressionable, and the hard life of show biz was just too much for my innocently naive soul.

And by show-biz I mean an on-looking congregation of about 50 people. But growing up around doing things in front of groups of people is probably what makes it a bit easier to give presentations, performances, etc in front of even larger crowds. And I'm thankful for that.

Since this is the season where churches take groups of kids and make them memorize songs, plays, and such, I'd like you to take a moment, try to ignore the "aww" factor and terrible singing, and look at where the children are looking when they're up there. I'm sure you've noticed this, but almost all the kids are usually looking at their director, who is usually sitting in the first row mouthing the words in such an overly expressive manner that you'd think she was stretching her face.

They're all looking at her for direction, and if I can take it a step further, I'll even say that those kids are performing solely for their director. Their eyes are on no one else, and save for a few attention-seeking glory-hogs, everyone is performing their part because they were told to by their leader.

As we get older, the appeal of being recognized by bunches of people or wanting to be elevated above the common folk gets to be very strong - especially if you've got some talent that puts you in such arenas. You're mind is poisoned by seeking the praise of people and you are distracted from your ultimate goal of glorifying the One who allowed you to have the talent that you so preciously guard.

But as a kid, all you know is your leader. Your relationship to them is the only thing that matters. Everybody else might as well not exist because you've got your eyes tunnel-visioned onto the one who is leading you with every overly-enunciated word.

I think that this is one of the reasons that God tells us that if we don't "become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18)

The way I see it, I want every word I say to be a mirror image of the one I see being mouthed by my Creator. And I'm not just talking about being on stage. Every move we make should be taken as a result of the organized cue of our Director. Whether we're performing our solo or exiting stage right; whether we're the main character that receives flowers after the production or the never-seen orchestra member passionately blowing on his trombone, we are called to be led.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10)
So my question to you today is are you going to look to your Director for your cue, or are you going to follow your own cue, embarrassing yourself, and destroying the production?

Exit stage right.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Part of God

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a Romanian men's chorus event. Essentially, the whole event was predicated on the idea that men who had spent the weekend fellowshipping with each other would then spend that Sunday worshipping God together in a chorus setting.

It was cool beans.

You know how sometimes you hear a phrase used all the time, and then, all at once, the full meaning of the phrase slaps you in the facehole? That happened at said weekend. The pastor, who was speaking in between songs, said something which I had heard over and over, probably hundreds of times growing up. And this time, it really made a splash on my conscious thought.

In English, whenever we pray, we just say we're going to pray. Or some people might say they're going to talk to God. That's cool and stuff - even accurate. But in Romanian, there's a certain phrase that portrays something a little more.

"Hai sa avem partasie cu Domnul."

Roughly, this means, "Let's have fellowship with the Lord." Except, that one word "partasie" actually calls to mind a little more. If you look at the word, it implies having a part of something. So, in other words, what you're actually saying is, "Let's have a part of the Lord."

Now that is what I want my prayer life to look like.

It's not just some arbitrary one-way conversation with some distant God. It is the active participation in a reciprocating relationship. It is the joining together of two things. When I have partasie with God, I literally get a part of Him in that moment. And I think that this is something we've all been called to.

I believe a lot of us have resigned ourselves to a boring prayer life and a fairly monotone walk with the Lord. We don't get flashes of lighting, so we dejectedly accept candle-flames. Now, look, I'm no holy roller. I'm not telling you to go out in search of the next big thing when it comes to prayer. I'm asking you to go out in search of the same thing that God has always offered: his Holy Spirit. In Luke 11, God tells us that the Holy Spirit is something he freely gives to those who ask. It is this Holy Spirit that will carry us along in a vibrant relationship with Christ.

I dunno about you, but I'm ready to have some partasie.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You are not Awesome.

You may enjoy saving babies from car accidents on the weekends. You may love sacrificing all of your time and money for the poor. You may even wish you had more than two kidneys, JUST so you could give them to people who need it.

The point is, no matter how magnanimous and wonderful you may be (or think you are), you will probably never measure up to John the Baptist. Sorry, it's a cold world, I know.

Not only did this guy prophecy the coming of the Lord Jesus, but John himself was prophesied about in the Old Testament. (Malachi 3 & 4) He spent years in the desert, preparing his body, soul, and spirit to become the man that would pave the entrance of the Messiah. This task included living off of locusts and honey. I don't know about you, but that's not exactly The Ritz. John made it his mission to make sure that the incarnate Son of the Living God was properly welcomed on the physical shores of this earth, like a man welcoming the President of the United States into his home for the evening. But better.

My point is that, if we were using a grading system here, John would be varsity, while the rest of us are struggling to make it past try-outs for the rec team. And yet, when the Scriptures came to speak of his death, they told the tale and then moved on.

What I mean is, there was no long, drawn-out literary ceremony to commemorate the man who could trounce Mother Teresa. And not only that, but his death was humiliating! To give you the Cliff Notes version of the story, John essentially got killed because a teenage girl performed a lap dance for a king that pleased him so much that the king said that he would give her anything she wanted. Her response? The head of John the Baptist.

So let's recap a bit here: not only did John get a really skimpy eulogy, but his final breaths were handed out to him by the words of a teenaged girl. He didn't exactly get the VIP status for his funeral, if you know what I mean.

My point in saying all this is that we're not the point of the story here. If there was anyone who deserved the legacy of a king, it was John the Baptist. But yet, when his story ended, the world moved on. For those of you not following me yet: when you die, the world will move on.

Or, as Count Von Zinzendorf put it, "Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten."

I don't care how much amazing stuff you've done. It doesn't matter to me that everyone you know thinks of you as the greatest guy ever. You could do things that go on to change the very course of this world, and when you're dead and gone, people keep on going. The one thing that doesn't stop?

God's glory.

Because, as God planned it out, His Glory is found in the exact same place as our perfect joy. The two are the same: the only place you will find true joy is in bringing God glory, and bringing God glory is brought about by our joy in Him. As John Piper put it more eloquently than I'll ever be able to, "He [God] is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

My encouragement to you today? Stop focusing on yourself - it's going to end in your life sucking. Focus on Christ, and let him be the object of your desires. That is where true joy is found.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traffic Report

Two things that I've always wanted to avoid on Kingdom Eyes:

1: Posts with pictures of the sandwhich I ate for lunch.
2: Posts which simply contain a teen-girl emotional vomit.

I've always made it a point to not use this website as an opportunity to bore you with every fluctuation in feelings that I have. I've seen too many young people reduce the potential of the blogosphere to an online diary - Princess Diary style. But at the same time, I believe that there is an appropriate time for everything. And in this case, I feel it necessary to inform you a little of what's going on with my life.

To put it simply: I've never really been through anything like I've been going through in the past few months. In my first two years of college, I flew by my classes. I didn't study that much, and I got great grades. And then *POW!* - here comes nursing school. In a word: I've never done any school-work this difficult. I'm not even sure if I've ever done anything so difficult in any area. It's as if every part of me is being stretched, and every part of every day is filled with thinking about the next test, the next evaluation, the next assignment. This is coupled with the fact that I have gone much closer than I'd like to not passing some tests - a worry that led me to wonder if I could even pass my current classes.

However, this newly required work-load has put a strain on pretty much every other area of my life: family, friendships, and sleep. The most notable of these strains is my walk with God. I've tried so hard to stay involved with the ministries that I'm involved with. I know that God has big plans, and I want to be a part of it.

But probably the most detrimental thing that this new lifestyle has done is take away my time with the Lord. And by that, I mean a daily time of spending some time with God alone, allowing myself to be wrapped in His presence. I don't see how someone could grow in their walk with God without this time, and I've definitely seen the negative effects in my life: sin has become more vicious, my strength against temptation has grown weaker. I've fallen many times, and I am trying to ask Christ for the strength to claw my way out of my sinful ways and murder this beast called the flesh.

And by His grace alone, He has begun to show me how to use a shotgun.

One of the effects of the way my life is going now is that I've had much difficulty being regularly active here on Kingdom Eyes, with many posts ending up being a few days late. This is compounded with the fact that I continually fail at meeting the standards of holiness that God has set up for me. I do not take this lightly, and I desire that everything which I write on this website comes out of God's inspiration and redemption. That I might not write something that is the contradiction of the way I live. That means taking time and wrestling with God on everything I write. Even this post has been a struggle both mentally and spiritually.

So what does this all mean?

Well, for starters, a friend once told me about something called Walking Pneumonia: essentially, this means living with a crippling sickness and trying to function normally at the same time. Basically, it doesn't work. I need some bedrest. Now, this doesn't mean that I won't be posting every week, but that I'll be postponing the RMP's for a while, until I can get somewhat more of a grasp on life right now. And if I'm late on a post once in a while, I pray that you'd understand.

Whenever I listen to my local Christian radio station in the morning, there's always a traffic report. In that report, if there was a major accident, they'll ask the listeners to pray for the people involved. Yes and amen. But usually, my prayers for those people involved are not as urgent as if it that situation were to happen to my own friend. So, I ask you, if you are a friend of mine, pray fervently for me right now. I believe in a God who inhabits the praises of His people and responds to the prayers of the righteous.

So please. Pray.

Monday, October 29, 2012

That Guy?

It was bloody murder, and they would have no less. They unthinkingly brought their own condemnation upon themselves and their children's children in an effort to haste the death of a Man guilty of nothing but perfection.

I worked out of Matthew 27 last week, and God seems to keep offering me things out of that passage, so we'll continue with these words:
"So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him."
So, let's dig a little deeper here and analyze the situation. The Jewish religious leaders had riled up the crowds of Jerusalem to the point of screaming bloody murder over this Jesus person, with much of the crowd probably composed of people who, a few days before, had laid down their coats on the ground to "worship" said Jesus. Pilate, who becomes Jesus' sentencer, realizes that He's dealing with an innocent Man, and figures that when given a choice, the people of Israel would choose Jesus to be freed, instead of Barabbas.


You mean, the murderer Barabbas? The guy who, if released upon the crowd, could cause a violent uprising which would be starkly contrasted against Jesus' non-violent, spiritual, and beneficial revolution of the soul? Barabbas? The one who could hurt your children? That Barabbas?

Or Jesus? The One whom they could not find a charge against. The One who had done nothing but heal the sick, cast out demons, perform miracles, and forgive people of their sins. Oh, and one other thing - He had proclaimed that He was God. And this, my friends, is what got them steaming. Jesus told them that they were wrong and that they were prideful, religious people who served no purpose but to poison the hearts of the people. That Jesus.

And so, the Jews were more concerned about Jesus destroying their pride, than with Barabbas destroying their people.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we see today. People will go to greatly unreasonable lengths to get away from Jesus just to salvage their pride. Why? Because you can't have Jesus and have pride at the same time. That's what is called a "mutually exclusive relationship." Jesus opposes the idea of pride because everything that we have begins and ends with Him.

And yet, even as believers, we still hold on to our pride. Oh you know, we're cool with Jesus, but in order to make ourselves look like "cool Christians," we have to dress Him up a little, don't we? We have to put some nice clothes on Him, take away His more controversial messages, and give Him a modern edge. All to save face, right?

And look, I'm not against using cultural tools to spread the Gospel. I'm all for it. But you've got to ask yourself two things:

#1: Are you changing the Jesus of the Bible?
#2: Are you trying to make Jesus look better for Him, or for you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RMP: The Spirit VS The Kick Drum

This song is pretty deceiving. At first, it sounds like the sketchiest song on the planet. Why?

It starts off with saying, "I don't want the Spirit, I want the kick drum." Then it continues with:
Like sex without love.
Like peace without dove.
Ok, sounds a bit wild. But this guy used to be the lead singer of Caedmon's Call (a very worship-ey band), so I'm pretty sure this song isn't what it seems. There's no lyrics that explicitly say that this isn't the ideal mind-set, but I believe this song is a quiet explanation of what goes on inside a believer's heart. The secret anger. The un-verbalized rebellion. The unsaid aggression. The ultimate desire for pleasure.

It's a shame they don't know the ultimate source of all pleasure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Great Selah

"A word is worth a thousand pictures."

Go back and read that, because you might have skimmed over it and read it wrong. But it's true, right? Words have the ability to forever sentence us to shame, motivate millions of people, start world wars, bring restoration, and offer comfort - to name a few. Words have the ability to build up and break down. To push someone forward into success or to rip them back into failure. To begin and end.

So, it only makes sense that we put a lot of importance on what people say, right?

We read tabloids to discover the daily dirt. We scrutinize presidential candidates' every word to find error. We read the letters of loved ones over and over. 

But what about silence?

Isn't silence also to be considered? After all, verbiage itself counts much less against the giant of nonverbal communication. Because when I listen to someone, or watch them respond to what I say, I pay attention to how they're telling me what they're saying, not necessarily the words themselves. And, in the realm of nonverbal communication, silence speaks volumes. In a forest of twisted words and incongruent feedback, silence is a quietly stark contrast to a flood of speech.

The Jews called this a "selah." A selah could be understood as something that indicated to the reader that they should pause in their reading and use the silence to think about what was just said - to say, "Stop, and think about that." Kind of like I did right at the beginning of this post.

When we talk about Jesus, we usually discuss what He said. As my boy Matt Chandler says, "Yes, and Amen!" Praise God for His Word and all that He told us. John 1 talks about Jesus as the embodiment of the Word, bringing life to everyone. So I'm not discounting His Word in any way. I praise Him for it.

But what about His silence?

In Matthew 27, Jesus is being interrogated by Pilate, the governor of the region. He is being asked questions that could determine whether or not Jesus is going to be put to death. Jesus' response? "But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed."

Stone cold silence.

Jesus had spent the past three years speaking in abundance and proclaiming His own deity. He spoke clearly and understandably to thousands upon thousands of people. In other words? He had already said what he needed to say. He didn't need to say anything else, because He had said enough to let His words stand on their own. Despite the fact that Jesus was being questioned by the man who had the power (which was given to him by the Man he was questioning) to send Him to death, the Christ had so much confidence in His already-spoken words, that He chose silence.

And if I can reach a little bit further, I'd call this The Great Selah: to say that the God of the Universe was using His moment with Pilate to tell the world, "Stop, and think about that." My encouragement today? Stop, and think about that. Think about the life and teachings of Christ. Think about what His words mean in our world. Use the silence to think upon His glory, love, and grace.


Friday, October 19, 2012

RMP: The Great Dictator

For those of you who don't know who my man Charlie Chaplin is, I'm sorry. He was one of the most influential comedians back when televised media was just coming about. Most of the slapstick humor that you see on television today is some sort of derivative of something that he did years ago. He also had some interesting things to say.

In this speech that he gives, he steps back from the comedy to address the major concerns of his day: mainly the ideas of dictatorship and world conquest that came about as a result of both World Wars. He makes the excellent point that people have the ability to rise above the troubles of this world.

Problem? His speech falls short of relying on the strength of Christ to accomplish these things. Sure, he references a bit of the Bible, but he basically implies that people are ultimately responsible of "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps."

Thank God that He pulls up our bootstraps when the reality is that we have no ability to do so on our own.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

She Did, He Didn't, and Neither Do We

Something happened a few hundred years ago that changed our understanding of the Bible: chapters. Yes sir, the 13th century was a wild and crazy time. The Magna Carta was being pushed. The Chinese were using gunpowder in warfare. And it was also during this age that somebody by the name of Archbishop Stephen Langton thought it was appropriate to start dividing the Bible up in little pieces.

That's fine, I guess. I mean, I'm all for a little organization, but there's a little bit of a problem with chopping up the Bible into bite-size bits. Mainly, the issue is that sometimes we lose a little bit of context. We see a chapter heading and think, "Well, all right, that part about ____ is over, and this new part about ____ is beginning."

Well, for whatever reason, as I was reading Matthew 26, I realized that I almost missed something based solely on the fact that I was just going by section titles. Verses 6-13 are the classic tale of Jesus getting his head anointed with alabaster by a woman while He and His disciples were chillin' out. I have an ESV Bible, and in it, this section is called, "Jesus Anointed at Bethany."

Immediately following this section is another classic piece titled, "Judas to Betray Jesus," in which the most famous traitor in history gets paid 30 pieces of silver to commit Jesus to death.

My idea isn't a complicated one, and maybe I'm reading into this a lot, but I think that these accounts of two different people were placed right next to each other to make light of a stark contrast: she did and he didn't.

"Did what?" you say? She did recognize, even if only in part, Who Jesus was. When the disciples start seeing what the woman is doing with her expensive perfume, they all clamor and start to judge her for a supposedly inappropriate use of her wealth. However, Jesus lays down the proverbial law and defends this woman, claiming that, "you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."

She gave her best, most expensive gift out of a humble heart because she was beginning to really get who this Man at the table really was.

Immediately after this, we find that the exact opposite happens: Judas sells The Christ out for 30 pieces of silver - the payment that one would give in retribution for a slave that was killed. He sold out the Man he had spent 3 years through thick and thin with for something that wouldn't even cover a house payment! Once again: she did and he didn't.

And neither do we.

Because if we did, we'd understand exactly what it means to sin. We'd understand that each of our screw-ups aren't just mistakes, but slaps in the face to our Maker. We'd understand the weight of sin and what it does to the heart of the One who carried all of it to the Cross. We'd understand how much it hurts our God that we choosingly submit ourselves to slavery, when He was murdered to purchase our freedom.

We'd understand. But we don't.

At least, I know I don't.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self Care Deficit

Working off of the idea that the church is a hospital, I'd like to posit that many of us have a similar diagnosis. It's called Self-Care Deficit.

Self-Care Deficit, in the clinical setting, is referring to the idea that a patient is lacking the means to take care of themselves in any number of ways. This could mean that they lack the ability to feed, clothe, dress, or move around on their own. Usually these people are put in a facility where they can be taken care of in a more long-term setting.

Metaphorically, I say that, since sin is the sickness, our spiritual Self-Care Deficit is the idea that we cannot will not feed ourselves with the nutrition of the Word and prayer. In the medical world, we would call this non-compliance. In other words, it's not that you can't take care of yourself, it is that you refuse to. And in doing this, you fly against the face of what a relationship with Christ is supposed to look like.

"I don't refuse to spend time with God, I just don't have time!"

Look, I understand what it means to be busy. Life gets ahead of you. Things pile up. Responsibilities start to overload. I get it. But, in that moment when you decide, "Well, I know I should spend time regularly with God, but I could use that time to study/sleep/make more money/etc." what you're basically telling God is that all of those things are more important to you than Him.

And truthfully, how many of us are so busy as to not give God an hour of our time a day? I know that's a nice little chunk, but let's start considering what other smaller priorities we can take out of our schedules in order to make time for the God of the Universe. It's gonna give you what you need to face all of those things that call for your time in the first place!

So here's my nurses order (to start):

1 hr. solo time with Christ O.D. (once daily) via the soul

RMP: I Can Do Anything

Funny? Check.

Clever? Check.

Indicative of modern mentality? Check.

I love this quirky little video. Gets me laughing every time. I think there's a fundamental issue at question here, though: the main tagline of this video is, "I believe in my smellf." All right, all right, that's funny.

But let's honestly consider this: there is no amount of self-help that can be done to make you into the satisfied man you think it will. Not enough self-esteem tapes. Not enough ladies. Not even enough muscles.

My point? It's not self-esteem that's gonna get you where you wanna be. It's knowing and being known by God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Lottery

I grew up in a system where, if someone heard the word "Powerball," they would immediately think the devil himself has just entered the building. I don't know about all that, though. I was always raised to follow the principal that gambling is dumb. Not necessarily sinful, (although it can very easily become so) but just plain, flat-out dumb. Like those pants you wore today.

Oop. Sorry. Forgive me. That was uncalled for.

In any case, that's just the view I've always maintained. The idea is that if you've already won the lottery, why   keep wasting your money?

"Qua? I've never won the lottery..."

Well, I'll have compassion on you - I'm normally also very literal. I mean we've won the lottery of knowing Christ (if you're a believer).

I read a curiously popular little book called, "Don't Waste Your Life," by John Piper. I say "curiously," because the book essentially makes the claim that most of us are wasting our lives, and that kind of stuff tends to offend modern sensbilities. Anyhow, I liked it.

Piper definitively claims that the key to praising Christ is "prizing Christ." Basically, it's the idea that pursing joy and pursuing Christ are the exact same thing. Look for one, and you will find the other. They are an inseparable package. So if Christ is the prize, why haven't we been treating our relationship with Him like we won the lottery?

We walk around telling people that the joy of knowing Christ is better than anything else, and yet how many of us can say that this is actually something we experience? Why don't our lives prove Philippians 3:8 - "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

I can only speak about what I myself have experience, so know that this is something that I also struggle with. But I also think that this story begins and ends with seeking to know Christ through prayer and the Scriptures. I don't think there's any loophole to knowing Christ other than to (holds breath) actually spend time with Him. Go figure.

Monday, September 17, 2012

RMP: Afterlife

I had the privilege of seeing this amazing band this last weekend at Rock The Universe, (a weekend-long event filled with Christian bands at Universal Studios, Orlando) and for a person who enjoys concerts, I have the pleasure of saying that Switchfoot is the best concert I've ever been to.

They played this song during their set, and suffice it to say, it was powerful. The song is all about not waiting until death to truly experience life. And if life is found in Christ, I don't want to wait until I die to experience Him.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Royal Statue

I've never had a serious hospital stay after infancy, but the fact is that the hospital is a weird place. It's an isolated island of sickness floating amid the ocean of the healthy. It's this strange little world that becomes completely self-contained and independent when you enter inside. If you're a patient, you're probably already disoriented because of the sickness that landed you there, so you're at a loss to really mentally process everything that's going on. You're like a child going to school for the first time. A school where everyone has E. Coli. Plus, your very life is being handled by people you've never met.

Naturally, this makes you very vulnerable.

As a nursing student, I've been learning a lot about the patient-nurse relationship, and how vulnerability plays a big part in the formation of this association. Let me explain it this way: if you're in pain, you start to look for help. When help arrives, you become extremely grateful and possibly very close to the person who helps you. You can start to look up to your nurse, doctor, or any healthcare professional.

My pastor once said something like this, "The church is a hospital."

Well, my first tempation was to think, "Well, if the church is a hospital, then the pastor is the doctor, right?"

 *Insert buzzer sound here.*

No! If the church is a hospital, then God is the doctor! I think looking up to the pastor as some sort of super-being comes from the fact that we, as flawed, pathetic sinners, think that there is someone who's made it. And you know what I mean by "made it," right? I mean, this is someone who sneezes and holy vapors come out. Someone who has been able to rise above the dung-heap and be triumphant. Well, if there's anything I've seen, it's that this man does not exist. The simple truth is this:

We are all sick.

I guess what I'm trying to spill out of my brain is the idea that we can't elevate anyone to a position they were never meant to hold. And we tend to do that with just about everyone, albeit differently with some people. Worship leaders, celebrities, political figures, sports stars, and the list goes on. We idolize these people above "the norm," when all along Christ is the one who even allowed them to the position they have attained.

Don't you see how disgusting this is? Romans 1 would say that we've "exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!"

My suggestion is that we idolize Christ and stop putting action figures on a pedestal made for A Royal Statue.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Plundered Goods

I think there's a pretty strong mentality of individuality and independence in America. It's the Land of the Free, right? The country where you can get all that and a bag of chips. We pull ourselves up by bootstraps (which I've never seen), and drink our whiskey straight. On the rocks. In other words, we are a self-made country.

I guess I can see where it comes from, considering our origins and the uniqueness of the way we earned our independence. So, when I say that each one of us are goods that trade hands, there is a propensity for great offense to be taken.


Well, bear with me, 'cuz this takes a bit of explanation. And the first part is reading Matthew 12:22-32. It's a bit of a read, but I've pasted it here for your convenience. How nice of me. Thanks me!
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
 Hey! Focus! Your eyes were glazing, and you've got a bit of drool... right there. No, not there. Right there. Yup, now you got it. Good. Moving on.

 So, typical day in the life of Jesus. Let's SparkNotes this situation for a second.

-Jesus gets brought a possessed man, whom He heals miraculously.

-The Pharisees get tee'd off, and mumble about their disbelief.

-Jesus tells the Pharisees off in a way that only He could do.

-He sheds a little light on spiritual warfare.

And that is where I'd like to hit the brakes and focus on this one part:
Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?
For some reason, in the past, I had typically read this passage with the understanding that the plundered goods were our hearts, which we would have to defend against spiritually demonic forces. Well, let's just say I was on to something, but I didn't quite hit the target.

We, my friends, are the plundered goods.

Jesus is saying that the strong man and his house are Satan and his kingdom. That's why He says He has to bind the strong man in order to steal the goods. To steal us.

Let's think about this for a second. The Christ walked into Satan's house, forced him into a chair, tied him down, and made him watch as Jesus stole the very thing that gave Satan any feeling of power: our souls. Now if that's not a slap in the face, I don't know what is.

The reason I make this point is twofold:

1. I think it's amazing how God does what He wants and cannot be tamed by any manner of evil.

2. In a reflection of the last post I wrote, we are once again weak. Because, in this story, we are not the daring hero that breaks into the house and does as He pleases. We are the damsel in distress, biting our fingernails in terror of death and the unknown - crippled by our fear. We need a Savior.

I don't know if this is something that God is trying to show me, but I keep seeing it. We have no strength. That's something that belongs to Him alone. But, when we are brought into the family, Christ's strength becomes our heirloom - something we can claim as ours. It becomes something that we can operate out of and form the church that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against." It's part of the complete package called "The Holy Spirit."

That's why I think it's important to realize our place as plundered goods. We have been stolen from the darkness.

Let's start living like we know what we came from.

RMP: JD Greear

There's not that much to say about this video other than the fact that it is unrelentingly honest. I just love the way this guy shares the Word with conviction and strength. And it's not long.

It won't keep you from your facebook trolling for more than 3 minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Offense

I just wanted to play some ball with my friend. I didn't know it was considered "trespassing." But, nevertheless, I had a sinking feeling that climbing over the high school's fence to get into the ball court on a Saturday morning with my best friend wasn't the best idea I'd had. But I guess the middle school mind has some kind of built in override for those kinds of thoughts. Or it just might've been drowned out by the thoughts of other things - like cookies... mmm... cookies.

In any case, I guess you could call that my first criminal offense. Yup. I was a bad dude, writhing with all the rebellious, anarchist thoughts a tweenage boy could muster. Well, at least if rebellious thoughts consist of playing ball. In any case, it wasn't an ideal situation.

"But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed."
I like that. Perhaps it's because it appeals to a youthful "anti-" mindset, but there's something about the idea of the cross being offensive that makes Christ even better. At least, that is, on this side of the fence. Because if you live on the other side, then this makes Christ seem all the more ridiculous.

Well, what offense are we talking about? If you read the context, (the verses before and after the afore-quoted verse) the Apostle Paul is addressing the Galatians for their return to the way of circumcision as a supplement to salvation. Paul vehemently opposes this idea, even going so far as wishing that the instigators of this idea would emasculate themselves. Castration, anyone?


The idea was that Paul didn't want these new believers to rely on anything other than faith for their salvation. He was telling them that he was completely opposed to the idea of circumcision by showing that people hated him for rejecting it. If this is the case, then the offense of the cross is that we aren't allowed to rely on anything other than faith alone, which is given to us by Christ. Simply, it is that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. In other words: we are ultimately weak.

The offense of the cross is that we need the cross.

So, let's take joy in this offense. Let's not dress it up with the piling on of self-esteem audio tapes and confidence seminars. If the pulling of bootstraps is involved anywhere in this story, it is the straps that were pulled from the back of our Savior. Let's stop burying the gospel under mounds of ear-tickling and good vibrations.

After all, the Good News isn't the Good News without the bad news.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

RMP: Tim Hawkins

Sometimes, (not all the time) when you talk about a Christian band or a Christian this or that, people normally assume that whatever it is will not be as worthy as it's secular counterpart. But if this man were to contend with some world class comedians, he'd do just fine.

Tim Hawkins is the man. And he's a believer. And he homeschools his kids. What more could you ask for? I'll say no more.

Yuk it up, ladies and gents.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Far From Home

He knew it'd be hard because of all of the warnings he'd gotten, but words would never have been able to prepare him for this. He figured he'd have to push through the strict "no-outside-contact" policy, but he couldn't have anticipated the loneliness of soul he was enduring. As he laid on his cot in the middle of his team's camo tent, he desperately tried to think of better times. Before the draft. Before those last good-byes. Before the war. He tried to think of anything that would pull his heart towards faithfulness.

You see, they had brought in women. And beer.

They figured it would cheer the boys up after the toll this 6-month unrelenting campaign had brought upon the troops. They could have a night of fun and forgetfulness. They could party away their burdens of lost comrades and pain. And the best part was, no one would have to find out. They could consider it a one-night-gift from the good 'ole US of A.

But there was no forgetting the fact that she was still at home. Waiting. Faithfully counting the days that she would still have to endure until he came back. But she counted them joyfully, knowing her reward.

And with this, he wrestled. He paced the floor, sat down, and even kneeled to take his mind off of things. He mentally clawed for every reason he shouldn't go out there and claim momentary pleasure. It's why he was trying to remember. He tried to see her sweetness that, for some reason, so easily eluded his thoughts now. She felt so far, and unreachable. He wished that the feelings of joy present at their union would flood his mind now, but to no avail.

This went on for hours. It tore his soul apart as he fought with the animal inside, often leaving his body shaking for what could, with a few steps, be within his grasp.


Welcome to the desert. Where God feels as far away as Pluto, and sin is as near as your doorstep. This land has been traveled by many a weary stranger, of which it has consumed too many. Here is where man desperately tries to see the face of a God who seems to be intentionally hiding Himself. It is in this place that you want to want Christ, but yet the pleasures of the world have such a stronger emotional pull.

It is in this place that I call upon Galatians 5 to lend a hand, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

I know that these moments test the very boundaries of our soul, and in this stretching, I pray earnestly that we would become a church that solidifies our feet in blocks of concrete and says, "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."

Even when everything inside us says it's not worth it. That God isn't fun. That God isn't going to satisfy. That your distance from God is a good excuse to abandon Him. For these are our tests. How else will we know that we can stay true other than by being put to the test?

Stand firm, therefore. For at His side, there are pleasures forevermore.

Trust Him.

Monday, August 13, 2012

RMP: Coca Cola Security Cameras

There's really not that much to say about this video other than the fact that I really like it. That, and the fact that it's all about perception. And it's heart-warming. Like the "awww" kind.

Watch it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fake Beef

I've been gone for a while, due to various reasons, and I've had some time to realize some things about myself:

1. I am the living embodiment of the lyric, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love."

2. I am never more than a few steps away from the person I'd never thought I'd be.

3. I don't understand God's grace, love, and righteousness.

4. When it comes down to it, I don't live in a way that shows I truly believe the promises of Christ.

5. Finally, I've been slapped with the reality that I've been wallowing in a cheap substitute for real life.

To put it simply, these realizations have come somewhat in order. That is to say that each thought led to the other. This all reminds me of a song named "Upgrade" by a band called Remedy Drive. Now, I know this isn't an RMP, but I figure since I haven't posted one in a while, no one will be upset. The lyrics go like this:

We're still sowing in the finite fields  
We're so content to live under a curse
We're still fabricating paradise
With the thorns, with the flies and dirt

Hold out for the upgrade man
Let go of your sinking sands
This bent world's not the promised land
This feeble frame's not meant to stand
I say all this because I've recently seen myself succumb to sin that I had thought for a long time was only a marginal issue. But I believe the reason I've been through this stuff, (apart from my sinful nature) has been God allowing me to see that worldly pleasures just don't cut it and don't give me what I need.

In short, I'm tired of the the world's replacement for satisfaction. Because from what I've seen, it is a second-rate, China-made, off-brand, high-calorie, low-nutrient, fake-beef decoy. And what do decoys do? They distract us from what we're really supposed to be looking at.

Ephesians 2 would say it like this:
"All of us also lived among them [the world] at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Cravings of our flesh? End in death. Riches of His grace? Incomparably sufficient. And it is not just sufficient, but the next chapter goes on to say that God is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

Why are we letting this gold mine fly by us?! This, ladies and gentlemen, is the stupidity that I found I've been buying into for much too long. And I'm done with it. I'm ready to move on to those things that are better than what I could ever ask for.

Lately, I've been learning a lot about the fact that God made us to experience Him. Now, in our sinful nature, we run off to other things to try to "experience" something powerful. That's why people go to drugs, sex, and wild living. The truth is that the desire to experience something satisfying isn't wrong, but we're just digging in the wrong fields, as Remedy Drive would put it.

So when we talk to unbelievers about how God is better than what they've got, do we really experience God in a way that this is true? Well, I'm determined to do so.

And I invite you to join me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Facebook Girl

Girls seem to think they own insecurity. Like it's something that they have exclusive access to, so therefore, all guys, except for the few "weak" ones, are all super-confident and secure in their worth. Their macho behavior certainly indicates that, right?


I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of girls posting pictures of themselves on facebook with the caption: "I hate this picture! I look so ugly here!"

I'm sick of girls saying, "I wish I could be as beautiful as her!"

I'm sick of girls changing their profile pictures every day in the never-ending quest to find the one that makes them look perfect.

I'm sick of girls dressing like street-walkers to fill the man-void created in them by their fathers, or lack thereof.

The truth is, everyone's insecure. Scratch that, everyone's broken. To quote Brandt + Skinner, we've all had a "bad start in life." This means guys, girls, adults, celebrities, homeless men, supermodels, blue-collars, Mark Zuckerberg, and billionaires. I have a theory:

Most of who we are, as individuals, has been determined by the pain we've experienced in the past.

What girls have done in the area of dressing crazy, men have mirrored in trying to be accepted as manly by being quiet, having lots of muscles, and banging lots of women. The reality is that we all try to find a way to make human acceptance and attention fit the empty space between our hearts and our souls, and when that doesn't work, we try to get more of it, 'cuz that definitely will, right?

My point? I heard this once and it was like lightning was electrifying the couch I was sitting on:

Most of us believe that God loves us, but we have a hard time believing that God loves me. We have an even harder time believing that God likes me.

And when I say me, I mean you. As an individual. I'm not referring to some large group or something. I'm saying that God loves you and likes you, as your own person. And if He's the fulfillment of our brokenness and insecurity, who gives a flying crap about what anyone else thinks?

He certainly doesn't.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I will admit. I have used YOLO as a joke a few times. It was funny! And I think that's ok, but the reality is that people live their lives like the YOLO lifestyle is actually a valid one.

The guy who's talking about this mentions something at the end. He talks about the other lies hip hop has told  him. We gotta start recognizing the deeper truths of what these artists are actually saying. Because, even though we might not actually actively think about this stuff, the culture has so influenced our thought and behavior that this stuff has become our belief system.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Safety Net

The Golden Gate Bridge was one of the most mechanically and technologically significant advancements of its time. It daunted the "reasonable" minds of the day with its then-ridiculous price tag of $35 million. To give that a bit of perspective, that would be about $1.2 billion in more current estimates. No one had ever built a suspension bridge with one of the towers in the water. No one had ever built a suspension bridge that long. It was unheard of.

Well, along with all of this, there came new challenges. How do you even get workers to go 700+ feet into the air for their day job? Well, they did. Apparently, people were lining up for the work. I guess they realized that this was gonna be a big piece of history. And that it would slap some meat on the table.

There was one little caveat: it was a pretty common understanding among the construction laborers of that day that, in large projects such as this, it was fairly understood and accepted that one man died for every million dollars sunk into the work. In fact, it was expected. I can imagine getting up for work every day with the fairly expected belief that today might be my last day alive.

In any case, imagine what your work output would be like if you knew that every moment held the very real possibility of your imminent death. Let's just say you'd probably be taking your time. A lot of it. And if you're like me, you'd probably have to take a breather once every few... seconds. Joseph Strauss, the lead engineer on the Golden Gate project, thought he'd do something about this. He instituted the safety net.

Once workers saw that they had assurance of safety, everything changed. Work picked up as the men saw that they could traverse the bridge with a new ease and confidence, even despite seeing the water hundreds of feet below. In fact, many of the workers got yelled at for jumping into the net for kicks.

Ladies and gents, I'd like you to meet your safety net. It's called God's Love. It's been around a while longer than the Golden Gate's net, but don't worry - time hasn't worn it out. It does, however, seem to have the same effect as that of the net in San Fran: it takes the fear of man away.

It's for this reason that we've seen men dive into the deep darkness of sharing the gospel to hostile tribes. God's Love is the net that has allowed men to stay true to their Savior when guns are pointed at their family. This is the net that has given men the audacity to speak loudly, love furiously, live unconventionally, stand firmly, trust completely, live nobly, believe against all odds and fight against all tides.

Instituted since the beginning of creation, this net has saved too many to count, and the men who dive into it find that the death they had feared was insignificant compared to life after the fall.

So, there's this project that's going on. It's called "Redemption." I hear it's been instituted with an unlimited budget. The boss need workers, but don't worry.

He's got a safety net for you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

RMP: A Post about Dunking?

The answer is yes. This is a post about dunking. And not the kind that has to do with coffee and donuts. I'm talking one of the most ridiculous dunks into a basketball hoop I've ever seen.

"Yep, Kingdom Eyes is officially getting secular."

I beg to differ. I'm a firm believer that once you start living your life in a conscious effort to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you see everything as an opportunity to show the glory of God. In this situation? I saw this guy's vertical hop coming out of cartwheel and I had my mind blown. It was like someone flipped on the "amazement" receptors in my brain. The guy FLOATED. How do you even respond to that!?

Anyways, here's my thought: if this is what we can train our bodies to do now, what about on the other side of eternity? I'm not gonna say too much more - I'd rather let your imagination run wild.

That is all. You may go.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Name

My family's always done some pretty different things. After two years of sending me to school as a child, my mom decided to homeschool me. Now, when I say, "I was homeschooled," people usually conjure up an image of a mom sitting with her children for 8 hours a day and teaching them as if it were a classroom. They come up with blindingly ingenious jokes like, "So, going to the store musta been like a field trip for you!" If I had a penny for every time I heard that, I could make a statue of myself out of all the copper.

No, my mom decided that I would learn to teach myself. She purchased my learning materials and expected me to go through them and have the knowledge down. Granted, she had to step in a lot when I was younger, but as I grew, I learned how to do things on my own.

Another thing? My parents were always big believers in the family unit. That's where everything started. This means that we did not live as individuals who simply lived under the same roof and ate at the same table. We did everything together. Especially vacations. My parents refused to go on these long "getaways" without me and my brother. If they "got away," it was with us. As a result of this ideology, we've been one of the most tight-knit families I've ever seen.

However, one of the more interesting things we did differently is that, in the past few years, we've repeatedly turned down movies that use the name Jesus Christ in a flippant, or derogatory manner.

"Oh, come on now, you're being legalistic."

Really? So you're telling me that I should watch movies that throw around the name of the Savior who bled and suffered for the glory of His name? You're telling me that it's OK to sit back and be "entertained" by people who think blaspheming the sacred name of Christ is a good way to get laughs? You're telling me that, for the sake of a "good story," it's all right to let some Godless actors pervert and abuse the name of the person who bought my freedom?

I'm sorry, but that's crap.

I've been reading through some Old Testament stuff lately, especially Leviticus, and I've noticed that every time God issues out a command, it follows this basic structure:

"In the land of Israel, My people shall ____________. I Am the Lord."

And you see this a lot. The Law was God's special, intimate gift to His people, and He chose to sign His name to almost every part of it. It was as if part of the gift was simply His name in and of itself. It is for this reason that the Jews would never say God's most precious name, "YHWH" out loud. When reading the Law, they would use the name, "Adonai," instead, for "YHWH" was too sacred to be said out loud. Granted, that's not what I'm suggesting, but simply get this one thing I'm trying to say:

If believers bear the name of God, it becomes their responsibility to make sure it is never perverted.

When telling Israel not to offer their children as sacrifices to the false god Molech, the warning for the man that does so is this, "I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name."

Hear me out. We, as a Christian culture, need to regain this idea of the weight carried in the name of God. Intrinsic in His Name is the vastness of the universe, the breath of life, the richness of creation, and the mass of absolute, unrelenting, infinitely self-sustaining glory.

And it is this name we bear, engraved in the very muscular fibers of our heart, animated with every beat and colored with every surge of blood.

Monday, June 25, 2012

RMP: I Need Ham

Jimmy Needham, that is. See what I did there? Eh? Eh? All righty... well, anyway.

Jimmy is pretty much one of my favorite musicians. Not only is his music on point, but his lyrics blow me away every time. He has a real skill for articulating on the matters that everyone thinks about, but never puts into words. And this is the song that made me discover this.

I have two bookmarks in my Bible. One is a New York Metro card. (It looks cool, trust me on this one, chief.) The other is just a piece of paper folded into thirds with some stuff written on it. One of the things are the words from this song:

And so I sit here and stare at this page and wonder
At what age it will become clear to me
So for now I am clueless to how You do this
And how You move this Spirit in me.
 It's always a reminder to me that God works how He wants, and that, in due time, He will be the Revealer of all truth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Smell of Your Own Brand

As far as clothes go, I've had some some pretty weird tastes. As outlined in Charlie Chaplin and Conformity, my cane-hat-pocketwatch days lasted for a good amount of time. Then, something weird happened where if it wasn't a polo, I wasn't wearing it. Yeah. Not sure where that came from, but it is what it is. Sure, I had a short fling with Aeropostale and American Eagle, but doesn't every teenage white male? Anyways, then came the glorious years.

"What constitutes the glory years? High-priced fashion?"

Nope. Walmart. It was around this time that I discovered the white walmart v-neck. I couldn't get enough of them. I believe I had 10-15 of them - some for work, some for home, and some for hangin' out. However, my tastes slightly matured and I changed the solid whites up for some bright colors.

In all the years of going through these tastes, there's one thing I can say for sure. I was never huge on high-fallutin big brand names. Sure, I had a desire to dress well as I got older, but I would base what I wore off of how it looked, not the name that was stitched across the front. (Or the butt, you Hollister freaks.)

There is however, one brand that I associate myself with.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13)
Sure the name isn't super complicated or fancy-foreign. It's short, and many feel it's probably too cliche to be a solid brand name. But there it is. Love.

Somehow, it is this deeply intense love that is supposed to be as visible as a Louis Vuitton bag or Vera Wang heels. However, this brand stands out from the others. Instead of saying, "Hey, I'm rich and better than you," or "Hey, I dress better than you," it screams, "I would die for my brother, and I'd do the same for you."

It's impossible to miss. Just like you can't just walk by a Ferrari without taking note, this family-style love between believers grabs your eyeballs and demands your attention, because it's beautiful. Because it's moving. Because it's supernatural.

So, I have one question:

Do you like the smell of your own brand?

If something doesn't smell right to you, go fix it. Go fix the odor of gossip and rumors. Go fix the stench of broken trust. Go fix the rot of hatred between you and your father.

Let's start smelling clean and lookin' good, people.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

RMP: Jesus Blood Never Fails Me

The reality is that, when Christ took our disease of sin upon Himself, it looked something like this. To think that the God of the universe would step down and give His life for a people that only hated Him boggles me. I do not understand why, and I never will. To meditate on this vast outpouring of love is to bring praise, amazement, and wonder to the soul.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Anti-Guy

Dear Anti-Guy,

No one likes you. For real. Some people know you by names like "hipster," or "elitist," but I have much more simple moniker: you're a tool.

You have this knack for finding out what the majority vote is just so you can go against it. Your desire to listen to underground music so that you can eventually say, "I listened to them before they were cool," is one of the fastest ways you alienate the people you know. You troll your friends' Facebook status updates to come against the "mainstream culture" or "Western philosophies" that you so adamantly resist despite the fact that you exist with both of those as staples in your everyday life. You take every opportunity to act like you know something obscure or deep so that you can make yourself feel like you're an intellectual king.

I should ease up on that hatin', though, right? I mean, the only reason you are the way you are is probably because you feel like doing these things will get you respect, acceptance, praise, and love from people. Scratch that, it's probably just for the love. In any case, you're going about it all wrong. You don't need people to respect you in order to feel like you're worth something. You don't need their praise as a cheap imitation of the love you truly seek. And you definitely don't need anyone imperfect to fill the hole made for the Perfect Person to fit in.

In any case, if you truly want to be counter-cultural, get rid of the ironic cardigan and vintage shades, put on some real clothes, and take a cue from the Bible.
"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9)
"What? Letting go of the life that everyone has a death grip on?" Yup.
'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' (2 Cor. 12)
"Taking joy in weakness because it ultimately leads to strength? That can't be right." It is. And the Bible is chock-full of seemingly counter-intuitive ideals.


See, God is different. He said Himself, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..." (Isaiah 55) You see, in His ultimate knowledge, God saw what the human mind would consider normal and decided, "No. My people will be different."

So for all of the intellectual snobbery and condescension, be a real man and have the guts to really go against the flow of modern culture - follow Jesus Christ.


-Believers Everywhere

Monday, June 11, 2012

RMP: Jenga

I gotta hand it to these guys. Their videos are amazazing (Yes, it has three syllables.) Anyways, the guys who make these videos have a channel called Ten2ndRule, which is essentially really short clips that illustrate parts of Scripture. They're usually funny and they're always interesting to watch.

So check it check it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hell's Kitchen and Buddhism

"Buddhism is different. It's all about meditation and peace."

I didn't know what to do. All of my supposed knowledge in the area of apologetics suddenly fell flat like a pancake you just dropped on the ground after trying to flip it in the pan like a pro, only to fail and realize that you'll never make it onto Hell's Kitchen (maybe into Heaven's, though). Despite the fact that I had read Ravi Zacharias' The Lotus and the Cross, my memory failed to serve up a tasty rebuttal to his claim that Buddhism was better than Christianity.
"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (1 Peter 3)

The guy wasn't being a toolbag or antagonistic - he was genuinely seeking answers because most of the "Christians" in his life hadn't been able to give him any answers for some very real and tough questions. Granted, the time we spent talking about Buddhism was just a small piece of the conversation, and I was able to give him some answers that he was really interested in, but here's the point I'm getting at:

For the love of all that is holy, please put this verse to work.

I don't want to sound at all prideful or intellectually arrogant in addressing this, but we seem to live in a Christian culture that tells people that the answer to all of their questions is that they just "need to have faith." If I hear that phrase one more time, I'm gonna choke a squirrel. Now, of course, there are some things that require some great faith to accept and walk into, but how do you honestly justify saying something like that when someone asks you to prove that a loving God exists when their father died of brain cancer?

This is what we're dealing with. One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "Behind every question is a questioner." In other words, questions rarely come out of an emotional vaccuum, but are packed with all of the bitterness and rage of the tragedy of life. If that's the kind of thing we're coming up against in our conversations with non-believers, we better be ready.

Apologists like Ravi Zacharias, Paul Copan, and Stuart McAllister are excellent at "helping the believers think." So please, take advantage of the words of these people and arm yourself for battle.

RMP: Don't Just Witness

I usually have a lot to say for these RMP's, but today, I'm pretty positive that this video speaks for itself.

"I need you to stop telling me about this God of yours and show me who He really is."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Will Never be a Writer

This weekend, my mom walked up to me as I was sitting down in the kitchen and slapped two big binders down on the table in front of me. Apparently, she had gone up into the attic, rummaged through my old homeschool materials, and found a bunch of the essays that I had written during my wee years. It was this period that I wrote about in "Ego Hotline."

So, naturally, I started to look through them. As I read them out loud to my friend, some of the essays had me crying with laughter at the "quality" literature that my 9 year old brain had concocted. However, this one stood out to me the most. It's called "Eliminating Reports," and this, my friends, was my final draft.

Reports are nothing but a bore. I really despise them. They do nothing for me. I am not even going to be a writer when I grow up. Reports are hard because I cannot figure out the main idea or the reasons of the report. I can neither concentrate on the report. Reports take me so long to do. Just yesterday, I spent three hors [sic] on a report. I will try to make a plan for eliminating them. My first plan is to by a lot of goats and tell him to eat all the reports. If that doesn't work I will create a virus that will infect everybody and make them think reports are useless.

My first plan to eliminate all the reports in the world is to by 10,000,000,000 goats and tell them to eat everybody's reports. All the people on earth will suffer the wrath of making me do reports. I will keep the goats hungry so all they will eat is reports. Once I do that everyone will think there is no use for reports because the goats are going to eat them. I think this plan will work.

But if the first plan doesn't work, I have a PLAN #2. I am sure this plan will work. I am planning to create a virus and put it in everybody's bodies by touching everyone I see. The people I touch will touch other people which will make the virus spread. The virus will make them think that there is no use for reports. And there will be no more reports.

If my plan does not work I will just have to learn to not be stubborn and learn to do reports better. If I do that maybe I will learn to do very good reports. Then my mother won't make me do reports every day.

Past all of the innumerable use of the word "report," past my pent-up anger against writing, and past my ingenious plan to rid the world of reports, one sentence made me chuckle when I read it.

"I am not even going to be a writer when I grow up."

All I have to say is be careful about where you say you will never go, for you might soon find that God has already bought the plane ticket for you to get there.

RMP: Two Hands

I'm not going to start this RMP with the usual praise that I give the bands I like, because I'm gonna let you decide if you like it for yourself. And this song might help you a little in that process, in a good way.

The band is Jars of Clay and the song is called "Two Hands." The message of this song is essentially that we live our lives in a constant fence-riding position of pushing God away with our sin while having a desire to love Him. Basically, this is the worst possible place to be in. Think about it. You're not jumping fully into the promise of "satisfaction" the world offers with its sin and banality, but you're also not diving into the true promise of real and complete fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. You live in the land of suck.

The goal of the Christian life is reflected in the chorus, which loudly proclaims, "If I had two hands doing the same thing - lifted high."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Best Compliment I Ever Got

One of my favorite ministry sites is with an organization called Youth For Christ. The specific area I'm involved with is called Campus Life, and mainly consists of relational ministry with high school students. What I love about the ministry is that most of the witnessing that occurs happens naturally through life-on-life interactions.

Well, in one such time, we took a group of students to see The Avengers. (I'm going to say that since I love explosions and super-heroes, this movie was an easy A in my book.) Afterwards, we were hanging out with the students at our local Mickey D's. Everyone was having light conversation when one of the students thought he'd tell me a joke. Nice, right? Turns out it was an inappropriate joke about women.

Now, whenever someone tells a joke that needn't be said, I always try to reflect that I don't like that kind of thing without making the other person feel like a toolbag. And, with this particular student, he already knew that I had a high amount of respect for women, having discussed virginity, purity and the like with him in the past. Well, as we were sitting down and eating, our interaction looked a little like this:

Student: "Hey wanna hear something?"

Me (innocently): "Why, sure, young fellow!"

Student: (Insert inappropriate comment.)

Me (with a glare): "You're going to jail."

He proceeded to laugh uncomfortably and I chuckled at the whole situation. A few moments passed by, and he followed it up with this jewel of a comment:

"You have too much respect for women."

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the best compliment I've ever received. It was like the student hocked up a diamond out of his lungs and handed it to me, dripping wet with all the glory of a newly birthed jewel. And before you ask, yes - it was just like that. Pretty much to a tee.

My question is, why don't we, as Christians, get "insults" like that all the time? Paul says, as an encouragement to his disciple Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4)

If we, as young believers, are supposed to set the bar when it comes to the way we live in front of others, shouldn't the world, which has a much lower standard, look at us and marvel at the heights at which we live?

Yet, all too often, we blend right in. We talk the same way, make the same jokes, treat others with as much disrespect, and generally live in such a way that makes us indistinguishable from the people we're trying to witness to! Why on earth would they want what we have when we live just like they do? Now, I'm not saying to live like a holy-roller and be snobbishly unrelateable, but simply to make it a point to let your actions be "above reproach." (1 Tim. 1)

Just sayin'.

Monday, May 21, 2012

RMP: Break Out

Maybe this is just the rebellious side of my sinful nature, but I always loved attacking Pharasaical, legalistic tendencies. This is mainly because I grew up surrounded by a lot of churches that had barely, and begrudgingly acknowledged that drums are somewhat acceptable in a church service.

What a relief.

Anyhow, I'm taking the next step. And, no, I don't mean hardcore, or death metal. I'm talking about dubstep. That's right. Dubstep. Check it out, and love it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Attack of the Stream

75 middle school boys. All nighter. Pizza. Basketball. Xbox. And a whole lotta swag. Put that all together and what do you get?

A BO factory. No lie. Those boys could not have used enough body spray (not even enough to set off a smoke alarm) to get rid of the smell.

I am, of course, referring to a lock-in that my church hosted a few months ago. It was pretty horrendous exciting. They let us use the gym and the cafeteria, but I spent most of my time in the cafeteria, cleaning after the pizza-gore-fest. Since the cafeteria was doubling as the video-game room for the night, it was kept dimly lit, so after two hours in there, my brain was getting the idea that it was time to hit the sack. I was tired, sweaty, and in desperate need of a nap.

I walked to my car at about 2:30 in the morning to try to get some sleep, and, as I soon found out, this was apparently the ideal time to turn on the sprinklers. And since I had parked next to the soccer field, my car was fair game for getting drenched by those laser beams of water. (It doesn't make sense, I know, but just keep reading.)

I got in my car, slightly cracked open the windows for air, and got into a fetal position to sleep, but I soon realized that the sprinklers might has well have been bass drums as far as the sound they made when their streams hit the roof of my car. So I climbed into the drivers seat, and started to reverse my vehicle, only to discover the one thing that would ruin my night. It was so mischievously sneaky that I had no time to prepare myself mentally for it. In my weakened, exhausted, drained-by-middle-schoolers state, I was no match for what  was to occur in the next moment.

What happened?

One single-minded, targeted stream of water gushed through the miniscule opening in my window to drench the left-back side of my head. One might think that such a stream couldn't really be all that powerful, but I'm pretty sure my church contracted firemen to make sure that sprinkler head had enough pressure to blast away anyone foolish enough to walk too close to the glorious might of those surges.

Satan must have taken a tip from those sprinklers, 'cuz he works the same way. He is not a fair fighter. His entire career is focused around attacking you at your weakest - when you're family's being ripped apart, when everyone's abandoned you, when you just don't think you can take another step, when you haven't had a chance to rest in forever. This is when the dirty is done. After all, if he exists solely to "steal and kill and destroy," he will take every low-down, dirty, wretched punch that he can get in while you're already down. (John 10)

But get this: Satan's not a prize-fighter; he's the wimp that gets his blows in after you're down for the count. It's what he did to Job, and it's what he tries to do to us.

So, keep an extra-tight guard in those times when life's got you more weary than you think you can handle, and find your rest in the Lord. It's why he told us, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11)

Monday, May 14, 2012

RMP: Still Waters

Ah, there's so many good things I could say about this video, but I'll just start off with saying that this guy has some mad talent. Basically, this is an acoustic classical guitar piece with no lyrics. (I believe the original song has words, but not in this version.)

In any case, this guy's talent makes me think of one thing: in the world of Christian music that has a target audience of 35-year-old single soccer moms, we have a very basic appreciation for music. Our tastes have been so dummed down to only ever hearing four chords that we often lose the essence of technically difficult pieces. Now, this may just be my pride speaking, but I do honestly believe that when you do something, that you should do it to the fullest extent of your ability. If you're a musician, delve into your art and get as musically, instrumentally, and lyrically deep as possible. Show that you appreciate the art that God has given you.

Same thing goes for whatever field you're in. Whatever you do, do it as well and as beautifully as you can, and then when everybody starts to praise you for your "talent," immediately deflect all the glory back onto God.

It was his to begin with, anyway.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunrise Teeth and Me-Monsters

My teeth are somewhat yellow. I like to think of them as golden. Not too noticeably disgusting, just enough to remind you of a sunrise at the beach.

At least that's what I like to think.

In any case, that lie that I tell myself doesn't usually work, so there was a point in my life where I tried to whiten my teeth. I used some whitening strips that my brother had and wasn't using. I noticed something about these strips, though - they are only long enough to cover visible teeth. Do they whiten the molars or help any of the teeth reaching towards the back of the dark cavern that is your mouth? No sir.

It's only natural, though, after all. Why spend more money to make a longer strip that whitens teeth no one ever sees? (Unless you're one of those people that laugh with a mouth wide enough to swallow a watermelon.)

Got me to thinkin', though. We do that a lot. Brighten up and polish the things and people in our lives that usually get the most attention. It's only natural to make the person in the limelight shine, right?
"...and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor..." (1 Cor. 12)
Uh-oh. If this passage (which is all about how we treat different members of the body of Christ. Just go read it before you read this. Everything'll make a lot more sense.) is right, we've got some issues to fix. Because - and be honest, now - how do we treat the parking lot attendant at church on Sunday mornings?

Or the custodian?

Or the people teaching small children?

Or the guys who work the sound board?

"Their jobs aren't as important as the pastor's or worship leader's!" For the fool who utters that phrase, I hope you never drive a car, spill your coffee, make babies, or have ears. 'Cuz, if you do, you're in heaps of trouble.

But even if we treat them nicely and don't say something along those lines, we don't hold them in high esteem. Even with all of our politeness and benevolence, we still hold the idea that their jobs are somehow not as big of a deal as some others who so happen to be in a place where they get a lot of attention.

And considering the fact that most of us (including me) are me-monsters, we aspire to be in places of recognition and fame. We need people to notice us for our feats of spiritual strength, when the reality is that:
"...the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." (Luke 22)
Serve? Blech. That does not sound appealing. But the truth is that God doesn't desire someone who can be an amazing speaker. He wants someone who is willing to serve and be brought low. Because, ultimately, it is God who deserves all the recognition and praise, and how dare we even think about attempting to steal that from Almighty God?

So, my encouragement to you this week is to get out there and honor those who are doing the jobs that don't get looked at with as much praise and fame. Get out there and thank the people who make the limelight work.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

RMP: Instead Of A Show

I'm a big fan of music that has a unique sound, and Switchfoot is a great example of a band that fits the bill with music that is original and technically innovative. However, what always gets me the most is powerful lyrics. And as far as that goes, Jon Foreman (Switchfoot's lead singer) has always been exceptionally talented with using words in such a way to get a distinct and powerful point across.

Jon, at one point in his career, released some solo stuff that he did without his band. It's refreshingly different from what Switchfoot has generally done musically, but maintains the same powerful lyrics that have made me a fan.

This song is off one of those solo albums called "Summer." In a nutshell, it basically puts Isaiah 1 to music. If you're not familiar with the passage, it's basically God coming against the people of Israel for making a big show out of having the appearance of worshiping God while not having a true heart of worship.

One of my favorite lines?

You turned your back on the homeless
and the ones that don't fit in your plans.
Quit playing religion games;
There's blood on your hands.

Essentially, the song addresses what true worship is supposed to look like. So, check it out. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flipping Some Tables.

I recently rolled my ankle while on a skateboard. I was trying to do a kickflip, and let's just say me and the board had a falling out. Well, to put it more accurately, I had a falling down. I landed with my weight on the wrong part of my foot and my ankle was thus stretched past its limits.

It hurt.

So, naturally, I fell on the ground and threw my sliding gloves up in the air out of pain. I covered my face with my hands and moaned and groaned and whined until the pain died down. In short, I made a spectacle. After all, I wanted people to realize I was hurt.
"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
He was making provisions for His mom then? He was in so much pain. Why did He use one of His last, precious breaths to make a way for a lowly woman to be taken care of? One word:


In fact, that's its definition. Love is to be so moved for someone else that you no longer care what happens to yourself. Love is to be so consumed with another's well-being that you forfeit your own. Love is to unconditionally, eternally, radically, passionately, and single-mindedly pursue someone's success at the cost of yours.

And Christ's love did not only extend to his mom who loved Him in return.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23)
Forgive them? The people who had brutalized his body and beat him to the threshold of death? To all outward appearances, Christ's crucifixion is the epitome of foolishness, but underneath the surface, there lies a shining light of impenetrable, mind-shaking truth - love.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Having reached both ends of realizing that Christ's love applies to the "good people" and the bad, there lies no room in between for you to think that you aren't loved. I don't care what you've done - it'll never be as bad as murdering God Himself.

If our objective is to reflect the God that resides in us, that means loving people despite themselves. That means putting up with their mockery, gossip, back-stabbing, selfishness, hate, indifference, abuse, and torture and loving them through it.

It is a truly table-turning action.