Sunday, December 2, 2012

To sin or not to sin, that is the question.

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.

I want to propose something similar to what was proposed to me in my first analytical math class. I was shockingly informed that there was really no such thing as division. My whole life I learned that 4 divided by 2 is 2 and now you are telling me that there is no such thing as division?! (Please do not panic – division was a sly trick mathematicians invented to represent multiplying by the reciprocal) I had to leave behind my knowledge and assumptions of division and devise a new way to represent what division does to an element.

On the same note, I want to propose something to you that may be shocking. But again, do not panic! Proposition: There is no such thing as sin.

I want to enter a disclaimer here. As I have mentioned to many people who are close to me, I have no problem being wrong, it just doesn’t happen very often (please hear my sarcasm). I invite any and all opinions because at the end of the day it isn’t about what you or I think. It’s all about Him. I am also not going to present any of these things with strong theological arguments or great fragments of scripture to prove my point. I am going to take a perspective that defies time and space, personal reference and experience or knowledge and discernment. I find that too many times my own interests limit the greatness of God. So let’s just agree to let those go, even for just a moment.

Back to my proposition. Let’s take a look at creation from the perspective of eternity. Take a deep breath (inhale) and when you exhale, forget everything you know about time (exhale). Do you really think that God would sacrifice his entire creation over one silly piece of fruit? [See my last post here] He can see the entire timeline of time – both what can happen and what actually happens. I don’t take God as a fool, so I think in the divine fellowship (that is the Trinity), they knew what the world would look like with and without freewill. I believe they chose to grant freewill even though they knew some would not choose them. But you see, this had to be the better choice otherwise we would not live in a world with the freedom to choose.

So in the perspective of eternity, knowing all along that redemption would be necessary because of the ‘fall’- how much power does sin have? And does it really come in to play? I suppose I should clarify my meaning of sin. I mean sin to be the willful disobedience of God’s law. I want you to read that again. The willful disobedience of God’s law. Did you catch it? That’s right- law. If God’s law was fulfilled by Christ, and we are in Christ, then we have fulfilled God’s law. If this is true then can the law be disobeyed? In other words, can that which has been obeyed, be disobeyed? Logically, no. So if the law that has been fulfilled, cannot be disobeyed, then sin cannot exist based on its definition. Do you believe me yet?

Now, I hope we all know that the law referred here is the law of Moses. So knowing that the law has been fulfilled (by Christ), was there another law established that we are to abide by? I hear many reference Matt 22:34-40, to love the lord with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. But if you read this whole passage you notice that Jesus is summing up the law of Moses to be these two things. So is that the new law we live by? I don't necessarily think so.

So what is the New Testament law? What moral code is outlined that we must live by? How did Paul instruct the Corinthians when they were out of line? Even better, how did he instruct the Galations when they adopted the Jewish law? If I remember correctly he suggested that they simply castrate themselves if it was going to interfere with the gospel that Paul left them with. What does Paul remind the churches about when they start 'misbehaving'? He reminds them of who they are- no longer born under the law but redeemed to have full rights as sons of God. So what law does Paul ever say has been disobeyed? Does he even mention one?

If there isn't a law presented in the New Testament- on a quick side note, I think the only thing remotely close would be a total rejection of the spirit- then can we truly sin? I don't think we can. For if there was something that we still needed to repay, Christ would not have paid the ultimate price. You cannot repay a debt that has already been paid. The question then remains, is there anything we can do that would imitate the repercussions of sin? Does scripture not say that God's mercy triumphs over judgement? Does it not also say that there is nothing on this earth or in heaven that can separate us from the love of God?

Can you imagine a world full of people who no longer lived under the fear of sin? Can you imagine all the things we would actually do that could bring the glory of God? I must superimpose that although I do not believe we can sin, I believe we can still grieve the Holy Spirit when we do or partake in anything that can be found outside of Christ. Again, see my last post here for good vs. evil. What would your relationships look like if you let go of your fears of sinning, of falling short, or simply failing? Is God's grace sufficient in your weaknesses? Unequivocally, yes. You are such an amazing co-heir of the kingdom of God. You are seated in high places with Christ. Isn't that amazing?!

I hope this did not offend anyone personally, I only hope it offended the religious spirit that still gets shoved down our throats. It doesn't bother me if someone disagrees with me - my only hang up would be if we are truly enjoying the freedom that Christ so clearly paid for. I hope, across the board, that answer is yes!

Until then, the next time you feel as if you have sinned, look quickly up to the face of the Father and declare who you are. For you are in his Son, and in his Son there is no sin. Amen!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life vs. Knowledge

What do you think this world would look like if Eve had brought Adam fruit from the Tree of Life instead of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why do we value knowledge so much when that was the forbidden fruit in the garden? It begs the question, does it even matter to God what is right or wrong?

These are questions I mostly ask myself- but would love if others started asking these as well. It puts a new twist on what we view as right or good because I think all the father sees is that which brings life. All others are just death. Not all good things bring life as Paul mentions, everything is permissible but not all is profitable. So what really are the dividing lines? It certainly shouldn't be what we view as right or wrong because that is completely subjective- therefore not a valid argument. Should it be what God views as right or wrong? Yes and no. All that God sees is what is in his son- anything else is as far removed from him as the east is from the west. There is no gray area, no middle ground and no fence to ride. Just that what is and is not of Christ.

'I don't drink because I am a Christian.' 'I don't watch Harry Potter because I am a Christian.' 'I don't do [insert here] because I am a Christian.' Countless things we will take a stand against for the sake of being a Christian when in reality those things are just a result of our understanding of good and evil. No one would argue that you should do anything that will harm yourself- so don't read me wrong here. But what is it that God wants us to take a stand for? Is it to protect the law? Or is it to embrace life? On a daily basis what would you say you do most- weigh the pros and cons of a decision or simply choose Christ?

I know these are rather rhetorical- but start thinking! Paul urges us to continually renew our minds so that we can know the will of God and attest that it is good. When we step away from the boundaries of the law that is the only time we can truly see Christ in all his glory and attest that God's will is perfect and good. And lets not get on the bandwagon of what God's personal will is for our lives ok- for your own sake just please read John 6:40- he has one ultimate, governing will- that we would believe in his son and have eternal life. God's will for my life is not separate from the will for humanity. I am a part of this magical and mysterious secret made known to creation through Christ. Isn't it amazing?!

So- if I continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge where will it lead me? I will become and expert on what is ethical, right, moral, good, pure and noble. But if I eat of the Tree of Life what shall become of me? I shall see resurrection, redemption, justice, salvation, love, hope, peace and don't forget, eternity. This is no contest. I choose to eat of life and I could care less on what you or I think is good or evil. There is no such thing when you are in Christ.

Until next time, enjoy the sweet and savory flavor of life being birthed in you each moment- Christ died to bring life! Not more knowledge, so get with it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The unimaginable Father

To give you context to this post, I just watched Father of Lights, by the same director as Finger of God and Furious Love, with some of my friends last night. I didn't really want to watch it because in my head I was thinking- 'I've heard just about as much Christian-ese as I can handle.' But boy am I glad I stayed.

I want to quote something from Darin Hufford in his book "The Misunderstood God"

'The great counterfeit of kindness if manipulation.
When the antithesis of kindness, manipulation, is present, true kindness becomes voided out. In order for kindness to be authentic, it must have no ulterior motive behind it. The moment a hidden motive supports a kind act, the act itself ceases to be kind and suddenly becomes manipulation.
This is why most people's response to a kind act is 'What do you want from me?' We have grown accustomed to the lie. It is beyond our comprehension why anyone would do something nice without wanting something in return.'

This has been the story of my life (among so many other things it turns out) since I was just a child. I was sold a package that contained manipulation that looked like sincerity, love and security but it was just that- manipulation. I won't go into details of how this was demonstrated to me but I will say that because one of my primary love languages is gifts- you can imagine what getting gifts with motives will do to you over the years. It has painted a picture of love that I have never been able to relate to. This is no wonder then I cannot relate to the father because after all, he gives us things so we will love him, worship him and give him all the glory. (Right?!) Sounds kinda selfish if you ask me. But this is how I view him- a father who gives and takes as he pleases to manipulate me into doing what he wants. Think about your view for a minute and tell me there isn't any form of manipulation you feel in your relationship with the father.

This was my view until about a week ago and it was just overwhelmingly confirmed last night. In the midst of struggling with what I consider heavy sin, I received the one revelation that has finally broken me. Broken me to the point of no return. I will never be where I once was because it lived in the land of death and desolation. Tho I may have had plenty of correct views of the father, I didn't have THE correct view. As I was cowering in a corner screaming and holding up my fists ready to take the beating, all I got was love. No whispers of condemnation or disappointment. Just this: try to do anything that will divert my love from you and I will show you that it never will.

What do you do with that? That's the best part- nothing. You are required to do absolutely nothing with that revelation- and that is why it has me so broken. I can say, like Paul, that I am a wretched human being but God has placed me on the other side of the cross so my words are void. My father saw my life, past-present-future, he saw everything I would ever do and he still chose me to belong to him because there would never be anything I could ever do to change his view of me, because he saw me from eternity, in His son.

I am ruined my friends. I have run in what I thought was the opposite direction only to find out I was running straight to him. Where can I go? Where can I hide? The good and bad news is you cannot hide anywhere- and even if you have reason to hide- he'll never let you slip out of his reach. Because that's what father's do.

How does this change things? Knowing the truth about Him changes everything. It changes my thinking. It changes my words. It changes my actions. It changes my views. It changes my life. This is finally the answer I have been searching for this whole time- why do I believe in what I believe in? Because there will never be a love as real as this one.

Dang it- that is so satisfying to my soul. If you haven't had this revelation I say 'watch out!' because he's coming- and his love spreads like wildfire.

Monday, July 2, 2012

When it all comes tumbling down

I am having a slight out-of-body experience. I see my current situation and then I see myself two months ago and this is what I would tell myself... You are not defined by your circumstance- you're new nature cannot be touched by the old creation. Yet I find myself in a predicament- how do I know that is true?

You see, I am a lover of things that are true. That is why since I was very little, that is the one thing that was always tested. It was tested in many ways- sometimes through others asking questions (which is the most direct), sometimes through actions of my own and sometimes through the actions of others. The line I drew in the sand always seemed to get run over as if it were never there. The truth that seemed so evident was suddenly drowned by uncertainty and doubt.

This may be ok for some people to experience- they might consider it a joy to have this type of journey... But for me- battling the truth on a daily basis has been the hardest thing I have ever done- and it seems to be the end of me. It also may seem very insignificant to onlookers who do not know the whole story- because after all the truth is not relative... And sadly, that is the only thing I truly believe.

So what do you do when you have been building something your whole life and with all the materials you have access to, you have never been able to repair that crack in the wall- and then your worst fear happens- the whole thing comes crashing down. You know there has always been a crack but were just hoping that the tape, caulking, plaster and cement would keep it sealed.

This is my dilemma and this is my struggle. My foundation seems to be incorrect- my view of truth seems to be skewed. I have to go all the way back to the beginning and start over because there is no way I can rebuild on ashes and coal. The problem is I have run out of tools and materials. Strong wills have turned to rubber, discipline has turned to dust, prayer has turned to wishful thinking and love has turned to oil- its all over the place but just too messy.

Translation- to all those who seem to know me and to all those who think they do- so much has been shattered in my views of God and his relationship with me that I do not even know where to start reconciling my mind to agree to the things I have before. This may seem odd, and slightly unbelievable- but the day will come my friends, when your foundation needs to be rebuilt and you will be faced with a choice that will look like torture on one side and death on the other. The question is which will you choose? It seems that anything would be better than death (ok we aren't talking literal here but death as Jesus speaks as being without life- without him- so don't call the authorities, I'm not suicidal!) but after you have been tortured for so long you are willing to take anything just so it would stop.

So here is to all those who have given up- I hear you and I see you. I hope my fight can represent something someday and I can be one that can start fighting for others- but first I must make a choice- and lets hope the wishful thinking of others will persuade me to take the torture, no matter how difficult.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mine versus Yours

Why is it that we find ourselves comparing experiences with one another? For example, you had shoulder surgery and I had brain surgery. You've failed twice and I've failed seven. You find it hard to listen and I find it hard to talk... Do you catch my drift?

I don't want to compare my story versus yours. I don't want to rank personal testimonies 1-10, 10 being outrageously radical to 1 being raised a Christian- boring. Not only do I think it may be a rather waste of time comparing our scars and bruises, more importantly we need to understand that we all have the same story, the same upbringing and the same future. (see 2 Tim 2)

I suppose a quick disclaimer should be mentioned here. Like many of you, I have struggled with countless things (which can be named if you really want to know- there is no shame there) but I think the difference lies in our associations with those things. I want to make it clear that I do not, nor ever will associate myself with my flesh, and I don't think you should either. Arrogant, I know... But Jesus called it righteousness.

Onward. My motivation for this today is one of my favorite passages from Philippians chapter 3 versus 3-16. I love the way Paul speaks right to the heart of men, skipping past the layers we've built to protect ourselves and showing us Christ over and over again.

Do you want to sit and compare stories with Paul on your life's missions? He will gladly do that, and does. Oh, you are a Hebrew? Well I was circumcised on the eighth day of the Tribe of Benjamin- a Hebrew of Hebrews concerning the law. Oh you are passionate? I was a Pharisee- You pursue righteousness? I persecuted the Church upon righteousness found in the law- Does this sound like our minds sometimes when we hear each other speak?

I know if that were me writing this letter, I would have listed those things in spite. Not exactly sure of that's where Paul came from. But here's the kicker... Paul counts that all loss. All this gain- gain in social standing, gain in finances, gain in self-righteousness and confidence- is all but a loss in order to gain Christ and be found in Him. He places no confidence in himself- but all confidence in the power of the resurrection of Christ. Wow. Where is your confidence? Where is mine?

Keep reading this passage and you will find that Paul struggles just as we do, by saying he has by no means come into completion. But he gives us a charge to press on, leaving all that is behind us- forgetting what has passed and reach for that which is in front of us- the high calling of being in Christ Jesus. Let us live in the mindset of having already attained these things, and may we all do it together.

So the next time you want to compare your experiences and why you think this way while I think that way, can we come to an agreement on something? There is only one way we should be thinking and that is of the Kingdom of God- which has been made known through his son. That is our experience. That is our story. That is our life and that is our future. So please, do me a solid and quit banking on the emotions of hurt to elevate your experience of God. He is so much more than a shoulder to cry on or another notch on your bedpost.

Too harsh? Maybe. But I need to hear this just as much as the next guy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Promises of Life

I first off challenge you to read John chapter 6. But not as you have read it before. Read it with the idea of promise, and see if anything stands out to you.

It is truly amazing how we can read the words that Jesus spoke and feel the power that it still has. I am no longer in favor of just reading the bible to read it. I want the power of Jesus to be revealed in every line!

So on that note, John chapter 6 is great. It's all about promises. I am starting to realize that in believing, there is a deep rooted foundation of promise. With believing, comes promise. Without promise, there is no power of belief. I don't mean to mention promises of good fortune and better circumstances. I don't believe Jesus ever promised anything close to that. His promises are much more meaningful.

When Jesus walks on water in verse 19 the reaction of the disciples was fear. Jesus' promise was this, do not be afraid for in me there is no fear. Verses 26-27 he promises food that will endure, which he will give. And then, most dominantly he promises us eternal life. But eternal life is knowing the Father and the one he sent, as said in chapter 17.

So let's quickly recap, (and I am assuming you read this because there's too much detail to lay it all out), the promises outlined in chapter 6 are rooted in one thing. They are rooted in him. That is interesting isn't it? That he can promise freedom from fear, food that fills the soul and eternal life that are all contained in him. So what he is really saying is this: I promise myself to you. I promise that I am trustworthy and will fulfill your hunger and thirst.

So prophesy and miracles will fill our hunger right? Or teachings and gatherings? Blessings and inheritances? I would beg to infer that maybe these things are an outcome of the belief in his true promise, the promise of eternal life in him. Maybe I should stop looking at these things as a fulfillment of a desire to experience him and rather as an inevitable response to the very essence of who he is.

So the challenge for myself is this: to set aside the 'glory' of gifts and blessings and turn my face to the person of Jesus because he promises himself to me if I believe. So I will believe in the promise of him, because in him all blessings/promises/gifts/inheritances come. That's the glory I want, Jesus.

Will you join me?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It is always about the Father

Do you ever wonder what the father would say to us if he could hear our conversations? If he could hear us talk about all the things we have to work on, all the ways we have fallen short, all the ways we have failed? Do you actually think he would agree with us? I don't believe so, and here is why.

Jesus says in John 14 that He is the way and the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. If we really knew Him, we would know His Father as well. From now on, we do know the Father and have seen Him. I want to restate that. From now on... From this point forward, we know the Father. Point one.

John 14:15-21 is a great section to meditate on. If we love Him, we will obey Him. He will not leave us as orphans, instead He will come to us. Because He lives, we also live and the day we receive the Spirit of Truth we will realize that He is in the Father, and we are in Him, and He is in us. He, Jesus Christ, is in the Father as we are in Him. Point two.

Jesus goes on to say in verses 28-31 that we should be glad He is going to the Father because the Father is greater than He. He also says that the prince of this world is coming, but he has no hold on Him because He loves the Father and does exactly what the Father has commanded. The prince of this world has no hold on Jesus because He is in the Father. Point three.

So back to my first question. What would the Father say if he say in on our conversations of self-defeat? First off he would probably say, "Child, don't you remember that I am the Father?" Then as our conversation progresses into deeper troubles of our failings he would probably whisper "Child, don't you remember that you are in my Son, in which I am well pleased?" But we continue to throw ourselves down the pit of despair (Insert Princess Bride reference) where all the life gets sucked out of us and he simply says, "My dearest one, have you not been listening to me all along? If you are in my Son, who is in me, then what hold can the prince of darkness have in you? You are my child who has been called into light, to bear the image with my Son. Get up off your mat of self- destruction and walk in the lengths of my love."

When will we actually get up and walk in the image of Christ? When will we finally say, it's not about me? When will we finally recognize that we are in the Son as the Son is in the Father? Why is this so hard for us to accept?

I believe the words of Jesus. If we have found a place in Him and He has found a place in us, then the prince of darkness has NO hold on us... how many times must we say it? Get up, and walk!!

Try to tell me it's about you, and I will remind you of the Father, for in him all things were created for the fullness of his Son, who dwells within us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The New Man

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of Its creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." Col 3:9-11

Can I just say it?! Your new nature is really attractive!

With this in mind it is time to take a deeper look at who we are. I am not in favor of behavior management, I am in favor or character reformation. If we believe that we have no responsibility to our character, we have neglected our new nature.

In our old self we all are insecure, indecisive, helpless, full of doubt, lost... Fill in the blank. But let's be clear here, we are all placed in the same category in our old self. There is no distinction between us because in essence we are living dead as the old man.

Similarly, once we abandon the old man and take on the new man, that is the man that has been resurrected in life with Jesus, we are all in the same position. As we take on the new man we are all made holy and blameless and are completely justified by the cross. (see Eph 1 or Col 3) As the new man there is no distinction between you and me. There is no separation or definable difference in our position. Granted the Lord has placed upon us a unique manifestation of himself, but we all arise as one in Christ as we take on the new man.

This is great news. It is great because I am no longer responsible to the old man. I am responsible for the new man. And in the new man there is hope, joy, peace, endurance, faith, righteousness, holiness... There is Christ. I am responsible to Christ, and Christ alone.

I find myself having a hard time valuing personal testimony (really just mine) because in Titus 3:3-8 it outlines everyone's testimony. "At one time you too were foolish, disobedient... But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us..." We were all once darkness, but now have been made children of light as Eph 5:8 claims.

So the burning question is this: Do you believe it? Do you believe it enough to set aside the old man, all the insecurity, all the hurt, pain, poverty, restlessness and take on the new man who is full of glory? Do you believe it enough to not go there anymore, to those places that are dark, cold and leaving you feeling alone? Do you believe it enough to leave behind the attitude of "I just need to get myself together"?

Do you believe it enough to let Jesus find rest in your life?

Do you believe it enough to, not just make him a room, but give him full access to your house?

May we start from this day forward being the new man and setting aside the old. From this day forward may I never see another person outside of Christ.

Until then, I hope you receive a revelation of love the next time you take a sip of coffee (or tea if you prefer).

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Sometimes I have no idea what to title some of these blog posts... so I just put down the first thing that came to me.

I just went back and read a couple of my blogs and it is really interesting to see the different moods I was in that resulted in an awakening in Christ. Some responses were frustration, angst, hunger, rejoicing... all these have lead me into a deeper yearning for the word, the living word.

I spent a few privileged hours with some new friends and was in awe of the conversation. I walk in, sit down and BAM! Jesus. More and more I am understanding the reality that his name is literally enough. His name holds all things and in all things is his name. I can't get enough of that conversation. I can't get enough of those words.

There has been a shift in my mind that has led me away from myself and into something much more deep and profound... tho I find myself unable to speak in most instances. Urges are placed upon my heart and a longing to partake in the transformation of our community but I get nothing. I see what we should do, what I should do... and then I come and Jesus does it, without me saying a word. His name is enough.

Psalm 19 says,
"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech,
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."

As we were sitting in the jacuzzi I was overwhelmed by the response of creation to its creator. The heavens declare the glory of God. Day after day creation speaks... I want in that conversation. I want to hear what creation has to say. I want to see the skies and hear a proclamation of the work of His hands. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Ps 19:14

I dare you to take a gander into the names of the Lord. Make a list of them and see if that is not enough. Then once you know his name, take a look at creation and sit in awe of what you hear. I then dare you to ask him for anything, because you will see that he has already given you everything.

Until then may we understand that we have, in Christ, been made a new creation, a new man... forever changed by the grace of our redeemer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The fight starts with us...

I am sure that most anyone who finds themselves on Facebook has seen something about Kony 2012. I watched the documentary and it was incredible. If you haven't had a heart for Africa before... maybe you should watch the video here and get one...

Before I go into this, I would like it noted that I am listening to my Michael Bolton Pandora station. If you do not have that station, I would highly recommend creating one.

On the topic of social injustice... I remember my sophomore year of college for one reason, Sociology 101. I did a really good job at picking teachers who gave you way too much work for a 101 Gen Ed class (please note the sarcasm). But now I am thankful for that because part of my Sociology class was about what was going on in Africa- Child soldiers, Diamond/Gem mining and corrupt Government.

I chose diamond mining as a topic to research because it seemed the easiest of the three subjects, but once I got into it... I never went back. I won't go too much into the nitty gritty because quite frankly I am not nearly as educated about it as I should be. BUT- that does not put out the flame that was ignited because of that knowledge. Back to my project, I researched diamond mining and came across and array of injustice that just made my stomach turn. Not only is it slavery... but we support it without even knowing it.

If the man who wants to marry me buys me a diamond ring to propose, he will have a really bad day. It won't be a deal breaker... but I would hope he would know that I have no desire to ever buy a diamond even if it is "certified". It just won't happen. I love the way they look and would never judge anyone who wants or has them, it's just not for me.

It is incredible that we can live in such a technological world but not know about the injustice that is all around us. Even watching movies like 'Taken' or 'Blood Diamond' or 'Hotel Rhwanda' should spark an interest in us to find out what is actually true about these subjects. Just walking through the streets of Redlands makes you aware that we are not immune to the struggles of this world and the hierarchy of power.

I am an advocate for people, in all realms of this life. I often don't get too involved with too many social issues because it leaves me frustrated that I am not doing anything about it. BUT I AM- because my dollar is the biggest voice I have- so I won't buy what you are offering if it means injustice-

Quick history on my history with where my money goes- First off as a kid I would never buy the off brand because it just didn't taste the same, there was a quality in a brand that took the time to create a product that was good, even if it was just candy. Then as I started learning of slave labor I stopped buying things that were made in China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand etc unless I knew the history of the company that was actually trying to provide jobs in that area- not just taking advantage of women and children who had no choice. That took up a majority of my teens and even now- and then diamond mining entered the picture so I will never buy a diamond even if it is certified because it is almost impossible to track a diamond- Then there is food. It is incredible that I have to discriminate where I eat based on where the company sources their food and if the farms they buy from raise NATURAL animals on a NATURAL diet- and not feeding them ground up corpses of the dead animals that died due to disease/malnutrition... I love Chipotle...

Ok, this blog is turning into a platform, which I don't want it to be- All I know is there is something that should spark a fight in us to do something in light of others- Jesus was all about that. If you find yourself in close communion with Him, it won't be long before your heart starts to break for something or someone. I hope you find it, and I hope you learn how you can do your part.

Until then, check out the Kony Campaign... it's incredible.

Monday, March 12, 2012

You asked for it....

So I found myself trying to write another post but each time I tried to write something I read it back and it was just too much... At the time I didn't feel that it would paint me in a very good light because it might come off arrogant... But this is where I invite you in. Anyone is welcome into the realm of what my life has been and if you think I am arrogant or self-promoting I would love to prove you wrong over a cup of coffee....

So, remember, you asked for it.

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
This is where I start today. All my life I have been set on a path I never really wanted to be on. I did very well in school and sports and as soon as I proved so I was expected to show the same results. It's not that the expectation was bad, but rather why the expectation was there.
I know 'expectation' doesn't sit well with most people but I truly think that we are to expect things from one another. Especially if we have made it to those trustworthy places with one another. Now before I get off track let me back up... There was a burden laid upon me to perform, and to perform well. So when those moments came that I fell short there was an immense affect on my confidence. This is only in the areas of school and sports... But as I watch my life I see that spill onto everything that I did.
Once I realized I did not reach the expectation and punishment, or rather consequences, were not rightfully placed, I gained insight into apathy. I had to cope with my personal disappointment so I decided to just become numb. But in that process I didn't realize that it was making me lack care for those around me... Thus forcing people out of my life and when they left, they left open holes all over my heart.
Ok so fast forward a few years to where the understanding came in. I look back on that and realize what affect that had on my relationships and man... Did I really do myself in. Now I could sit here and say that my surroundings brought this on, but I don't think so. Instead of standing up for myself against accusers with the truth, I chose to continue to cover my shame with lies. I chose it. No one else chose this for me.
My apathy turned me away from God because since I didn't care, he probably didn't either.... What a bunch of bologna!

So how do you come around that? How do you change? Well, first off I had to realize that I was completely selfish and wrapped in my own mind of defeat. So step one, get out of yourself.
How can you come unto Jesus if you are lost in yourself? Easy. Change your focus from self- to Him, the eternal life giver. Why do we make things so complicated when Jesus offers us an alternative to what we are doing? Why do I need to read a self-help book when Jesus says 'come into me.... And I will give you rest'? In His rest I can accomplish all my hearts desires. In His rest I can experience the fullness of his grace. In His rest my life becomes full of joy because my strife is no where to be found. In His rest I no longer have to hold onto the excuses for my behavior. In His rest I am confident in myself even when I have to confront my sin, because in His rest my sin he never remembers.

So before you tell me about your struggles, enter into His rest. I don't see the point in unleashing ourselves before we have found Him in the midst of everything we do. Venting outside of wisdom seems dangerous, but venting frustrations inside the rest of Jesus changes us and edifies us and encourages deeper things of Christ to be manifest in us...

Now I know this is all over the place but somehow we need to grasp that we aren't living until Jesus is living within us. That means in everything. In our day to day coming and going, he should take first priority over the shortcomings (or victories) of my life. For HE is my destiny, and any other offer just isn't good enough.

Until next time I hope you find yourself immersed in the rest of Jesus, and I pray to God that we will never lose sight of who He is because without him we are merely bones.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Layovers = ample blog time

As some of you know, I flew to Florida this weekend for a quick vacation. My brother, his fiancé and I were able to get a free flight from my uncle... So awesome! The only setback is flying stand-by. We were almost separated on the way to Tampa due to a lack of open seats but luckily Josh was able to make it on. But, the inevitable did happen on our way to Denver. Josh didn't get on the flight so Nicole and I went, leaving Josh behind. To make a long story short, Josh is now on a plane to Ontario while Nicole and I are waiting out our 5 hour layover due to a delayed plane in Las Vegas... I'm not sure how this worked out?!
So other than writing a song about waiting in an airport (which I am sure has been done by Owl City or Death Cab) I decided to write a blog... I mean how many times can you watch Harry Potter in 5 hours?!

I am reading this book called "The Stewardship of the Mystery" by T. Austin Sparks. It is so good mainly because it is all about Christ but begs the question what are we to do about him? This has been my question recently... So we believe in Christ. What are we doing about it? Sparks suggests that we respond to him by being the body... But being the body in His fullness. Now that sounds easier said than done.
It strikes me a bit uncomfortably on the rear that so many believers still have a mindset that they are not worthy, or have not been made whole on Christ. We have not fully understood that our old self (Adam and the entire race he represents) has infancy been buried in the grave and our new self has been resurrected in Christ (our is meaning the body as a whole). How many lectures, encounters, experiences, revelations will it take to get this point across? Sometimes just writing about it agrivates me because I realize I'm not being all that productive... But seriously, what will it take? I don't mind repeating myself but what I don't like is words falling on deaf ears.
I have two things that I am going to do, and I hope many others will also.
1. I will actually believe that Jesus paid the price to unleash heaven on earth so I therefore have an abundance of resources, access, and inheritance in Him. I will actually believe for heaven on earth.
2. I will no longer go back to before the cross where I am judged for my sins. I will stand on the platform that Christ has given me that I am blameless and whole.

I truly feel that if we could just start with these two things then we could change the face of the Church in one quick swoop... People would be so captivated in our confidence before Christ and our unwavering knowledge and belief of the realities of heaven... They won't know what to do! Well, it has to start somewhere, so it might as well be here!

Here's to the days of old that we shall never feel shame for and to the days of now, which is Christ.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dear Jennifer

In preface to this letter, I would just like to say how thankful I am for the family of God. Please, if you find this to be of any value, insert your name instead of mine.

Dear Jennifer,

First off I want you to know that I thank the Lord for you. I see what a great work he has done in your life and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ dwells with you. I hear reports of your faith and your diligence in your pursuit of Christ and the Lord is well pleased.
You have faced many trials in your life, but you walk in victory. I urge you to keep up with the momentum that the Lord swirls you into and to stand boldly in the calling He has set before you. For he has called you to be a demonstration of his truth, and of which you have been qualified through Jesus Christ. May you always allow Jesus to have preeminence in your life, for He has superiority over all things.
Here is a trustworthy saying: the Lord in faithful to fulfill the promises of His word. For His love will cover over a multitude of sins. You no longer walk among the dead, but you are resurrected to participate in the life of Christ. He has freely justified you through faith in Him.
So, since you have been freely justified you can now walk in the grace that Jesus Christ has given you access to. Stand boldly before the Lord in His throne room of grace, for He paid the highest price of your admission. You are a daughter of the King of Kings and by birth have gained the right to a divine inheritance, one that can never perish or fade away.
Therefor, rid yourself of everything unworthy of being presented in the presence of God. For His presence is holy. All hate, shame, anger, brokenness, bitterness, deceit, and hypocracy must kneel before the name of Christ. But be a partaker in goodness, knowledge, self-control, perserverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. For love will abound forevermore.
I write this to remind you always of the love that our Lord Jesus Christ has for you. That Jesus himself sits at the right hand of God and interceeds on your behalf, that you may be one with Him as He is with the Father. Therefor, dear friend, since you already know these things to be true, be on the lookout for those who will try to corrupt your mind and cause you to fall from your secure position in Christ. But may you always grow in the grace and knowledge of who Jesus is, the author and perfector of you. To Him be glory both now and forever, Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bethel- and Momentum

Speaking of History- a funny thing happened. I went up to Bethel to visit the healing room they have and on Friday night (my birthday), I received a book by Eric Johnson from Bill Johnson who was speaking that night. It is now Monday and I just finished the book I got, which is titled Momentum. I find this funny because I have been studying the history of Redlands to get a feel for what has already been done to better understand what we can do... I think the Lord is really good at giving gifts...

So on this subject, Momentum satisfied my hunger for a movement of God to be started, or rather, continued. I can hardly begin to describe what I am feeling inside, it is almost violent. Sometimes I feel like throwing things across the room and screaming just to see if something miraculous could happen... This is very strange urges coming from a passive person. But my intent is clear... I'm ready.

So what now? I've read another book, I've been in scripture... Now what? Well, it's time for reality. It's time to help people understand their reality in the Kingdom of Heaven. It's time to understand our destiny, which is closely tied to those around us. It's time for us to realize that our community is going to be the ones that anoint us and send us out, just as Jesus did with his disciples. It's time to recognize that the more we make this life about us the more dark this works becomes. When will we choose to see the light in one another versus seeing the darkness? There are millions of people dying, literally, for an encounter with an alternative reality. Will you be the ones standing next to me? Or will you be the ones persecuting me? There are only two camps in the eyes of the Lord, and I want you in my camp.

Lord, I thank you for what you have done in those who have lived before me. I pray that you will light a fire under our seats to help this generation to wake up and understand the impact we have in this world. Thank you for your covering of grace over us as we eagerly wait upon you and learn to walk in what we have found. You are worth every sacrifice I will ever have to make because your sacrifice is worthy of my life. Thank you.

Until then, I will be making a fool of myself in the presence of God, I suggest you start getting weird too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Redlands: A Place I Call Home pt. 2

I finished the book on Redlands 'Old Timers' today on my lunch break at work. I was almost late going back because I couldn't put the book down! I still have to digest some of the stories from the people at the beginning, so I don't even know where to start! All I know is that I see Jesus all over these pages, working in the lives of people who offer everything they have for the betterment of those around them. Who doesn't love stories of redemption, crime fighting and restoration?!

Lewis Jacobs: When I read about Jacobs I get a picture of a man truly after business. It seemed that it
didn't matter the type of business he was in, it was the adventure itself that seemed captivating. He went from owning a store, to owning a saw mill to opening the first private bank in San Bernardino County. Through the bank, Jacob's was able to fund several projects that directly affected the growth of the cities in our valley. Just a few accomplishments were:

1. Panamint Stage Line, which made San Bernardino the supply center for mining
2. Arizona Stage Line to Yuma and Tucson
3. California Southern Railroad to San Diego
4. Electrification of the street car system
5. The citrus industry in Redlands and Riverside

He also loaned money to Judson and Brown to build the Bear Valley Dam in 1883. I am sure these were only a handful of the many things he was able to do with the resources he had gained from opening the bank. I can only imagine what it would be like to have the resources to fund the first steps of transportation into my city, or be a lender for business and exploration! For a brief article on some more history check this out!

Thomas J. Fitzgerald: Coined 'One of God's Gentlement', Father Fitzgerald came to America, Colorado to be specific, from Ireland to help in the recovery of his illness (not mentioned what it was). After a death diagnosis, he lived four more years in Colorado until he moved to Beaumont. When people learned that he was trained in the priesthood, they desperately wanted him to start a catholic church here in Redlands. At the time, Catholics had been highly persecuted by Spaniards and Indians and only about 10 Catholic families were left in the area. He finally accepted and started his work as a priest.

The thing I find most interesting is his attitude toward his community. He was a catholic, of course, but despite the recent history of persecution he went out of his way to meet the needs of his whole community, not just his church. He was on call day and night, without regard to denomination or race. He kept a hospital room to be ready for any emergency. It is noted that he was solely responsible for shifting the mindset of his community toward Catholics. "It is no mean achievement to have changed the thinking of a community and that is what Father Fitzgerald did." I would love to be able to put that on my resume: Skills: Excel, Outlook, Erasing prejudice, Organization......

Its not always what we do, but who we are that leaves the greatest impact, for if I do one million deeds but refuse to love a single person, I will go unseen... and even worse, Jesus himself will remain confined in the human eye. Its not for business, but for adventure! Its not for church, but for community! Its not for riches, but wealth in resources! Its not for me, but for all who desire to dream! Today is a day for redemption if you simply set aside the things that continue to tell you you can't, and just follow your feet because chances are you'll end up on someone's doorstep!

Until next time, have another full day of work, love, rest and of course a delicious cup of coffee!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Redlands: A Place I Call Home

There are plenty of reasons why I love living in Redlands.

1. The weather is pretty much amazing... I mean, it gets hot but its really only 'hot' for about two weeks, and it barely gets cold enough to wear a beanie.
2. Redlands is super close to the mountains if you want snow, and super close to the beach if you want waves.
3. It's where I grew up so chances are anywhere I am, I have (mostly) fond memories.
4. There is such a rich history here that I believe is rather unique... and this is where I find my inspiration to write today.

I checked out this book called "Redlands and Certain Old Timers" from our historic library and within two pages was already captivated by it. It is a very small book but written from a perspective that speaks very highly of the people who were the first to settle in this area.

Interesting fact #1: The first person to own property in what is now considered Redlands was a woman. She was also the first to open a passable road between here and Los Angeles. Her name was Maria Armenta Bermudez.

Interesting fact # 2: The Pledge of Allegiance was written for the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America, it was also used in the patriotic program which Redlands had on that same day. A first grade teacher at Kingsbury School had her class salute the flag at the end of each day if there had been no tardiness or absenses. A man by the name of General Lawton had his son in her class and when General Breckenridge visited, he witnessed the salute by the first grade class. He then went back to Washington DC and requested the salute be done at an large gathering. This was then written to the first grade teacher by Mrs. Breckenridge:

"All the distinguished men and women in the East were there and the children gave the salute, which was beautiful and impressive and created much praise, enthusiasm and applause. It was mentioned as coming from the California children. I thought that you would like to know it, since it is all owing to you."

Since then, the salute to the flag has spread over America.

It is very interesting learning about the history of the place you live. It is so easy to just live your daily life without recognizing the foundation that has been laid out for your town. It is easy to assume that it's just a city. But cities are where people dwell. That means there are stories associated with those people. This book really only gives a short glimpse into these stories, but on my quest in learning the history of Redlands I thought an appropriate place to start was with people.

Until next time, when you are walking downtown stop and take a look at the plaques you find on the outside of the buildings, you never know what you'll find!