Sunday, August 22, 2010

| Spiritual Hoarding |

Earlier this week, I decided to undertake something crazy like. I sprung into action with the great idea to clean my room.

I know this doesn't seem like such a big thing, but I think I've cleaned my room one time since I've made the move to Oakland. As you can imagine, it wasn't the prettiest thing. The Process can be similar to writing a paper. You know what you have to do, you don't really know how/where to start things, but you know what the end product is going to look like. I bravely went into battle with some of the things that I have spent a long time amassing and I had a few very interesting thoughts...

I have always had the problem of trying to figure out who I was. Trying to figure out what it really means to be me, and to be ok with that. I've always thought that in order to be special/memorable, I needed to have some kind of gimmick. I either had to be the only black guy in the fellowship, or I had to be that guy who really likes music a lot. I could be the really crazy, random guy with a heart of gold. I would find something to run with, and I would play that up. If I were going to pick something to label myself with, I would live that thing up to the fullest of my ability. The problem with doing things this way was that things would pile up on top of me, and I'd just decide to switch things up like outfits in my closet.

As I cleaned my room, I was having thoughts of what it was like to have a clean room. It's so freeing to be able to see the floor, or just know that the floor is unobstructed. My mid-evening trips to the bathroom would be so much less perilous (I will kinda miss winding my way though things in the dark, half awake, I can almost swear that this is why i'm so agile.). I began to find things that I had spent much time looking for, and eventually, giving up for lost. Once I was done, I realized that i had a nice space that I could use to practice my bass playing, or to play my cajon in. Things just seemed to open up for me, and possibilities began to open up.

How much could this relate to my spiritual life, and what does this have to do with anything?

I AM TOO DIRTY!!!



I didn't feel comfortable doing any of these things in my room (blogging, playing instruments, praying...). There was just so much clutter, that I had to go outside of that place to be able to do anything that was relaxing (besides sleep.) Actually, about the only thing that I wanted to do in that place was sleep. At the same time, I really felt like my spiritual life was mirroring that.

There wasn't much room for me to be myself. I had allowed so many things to just rest on me, and reside within my spirit, that I was running out of room to be comfortable in my own skin. This is kinda sad when you think about it, yes. I was cluttered by years of things that I hadn't decided to deal with, Ideas that kept me shut down, or just the inability to care about much. For someone who really likes people, I just thought I was being attacked with a bout of selfishness. In reality, I had so much packed in/on/around me, that I didn't have the capacity to even allow myself to have genuine love for people.

You know what's funny, is that this also was something that was pushing God out of the equation too. I mean, if you don't make space for Him, where is He going to fit in? I thought about this show that I've seen on tv. It's called hoarders. There are these people who are affected with a condition known as hoarding. They just keep collecting things and soon it is all that is in their lives. They fill their houses to the brim, with crap. They just keep collecting and collecting, storing and storing. This is similar to what I think my soul (not my room, I PROMISE) was looking like. There was no room for any new truths/treasures/revelations. What's more, the crap that I was holding onto was pushing out the good stuff that I knew about myself previously.

The real me was getting trapped and stuck under the crap that was in my soul. Different lies that I had believed, the burdens of situations that I wanted to just forget. Of course I had gotten to a place where I felt like I was not able to escape what was happening to me. All the things that I loved about myself/gave me life, were buried deep underneath a bunch of nonsense that needed to be cleaned out. As I begin to pray about the things that I've been through in the past couple of years, I see the things that I had forgotten about myself. I miss these things, thankfully, I have the ability to finally get up and clean things out. I know that I have lots of room to make for God to do something with, it's almost scary how much room I will be able to make.

The end of this summer will be a chance for me to work on cleaning, making space, and replacing. Making space for the old me to exist, and for the Holy Spirit to be able to put His stuff down and stay comfortably.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

| Woo Your Lord! |

A love story!

Boy meets girl...

Boy likes girl. Boy tries different ways to get girl's attention.

Boy:
•Slicks back his hair
•Washes clothes
•Pays attention to what he's wearing
•Finds ways to put himself in the path of girl
•Strikes up conversation with girl.

Boy wins girl over, they start dating. Girl becomes focus of the boy's daily life. He spends time talking to her, hanging out with her, and thinking about her often. Boy makes a great effort to do things that would make girl smile. He made jokes for her, he brought her flowers, and he listened to her problems when she needed. *GASP* Boy devotes himself to girl, boy finally gets married to girl.

One of my favorite talk radio hosts: Dr. Laura Schlessinger, speaks very fondly of marriage. She describes it as a series of decisions which are supposed to serve to make the other person happy. She tells listeners that 2 people in a marriage should be most focused on the other person. Some of the most healthy marriages are the results of the husband and wife working their hardest to make their spouse happy.

I've seen some of the lengths that people go to woo other people. Win trying to win over some girls, I have friends who pull out all the stops. I have known girls who get all dolled up, and excited to chat with their boyfriends or gentlemen who they want to gain attention from. When you care about someone, the idea is generally that you think about them and want to make them feel good.

WHAT ABOUT JESUS?!?

We say we care about Him. We love Him. We profess our deep feelings to Him. How are we wooing Him?

In general terms, if you pray a couple of times a day, and you go to church on sundays, you're good right? That should be enough to solidify your relationship with God, and all parties involved are happy.

WRONG!!!

Why do we not try to make Jesus fall in love with us? hrmm? Some may say, we already have His love. (this is true) but! As we can all attest to. ANY kind of love relationship needs some work. How are you showing God that you care for Him? Are you keeping in constant conversation with Him? How often do you whisper sweet nothings to your savior?
(He likes to hear nice things)

Do you hear what He has to say? One of the most important aspects of any relationship is communication/listening. Do you actually listen to what He has to say to you? Are you the type of partner that's always nagging and demanding stuff to be done.

You should take care to flirt with Jesus!
*What does that look like?!? Crazy talker...*
Lemme tell you!

Give Him the Game... (Chat it up with God. He would love to hear from you. REALLY hear from you. "How come you don't call me?")

Doll yourself up! (present yourself as someone who wants to really work for the relationship. Practice a couple of the things that He suggests. Be patient with people, show kindness, learn from His example of love)

Go on a couple of Dates! (Quiet times, Bible readings.) These are important to get to know Him...

Put some work in!!! (try out some of the things that He challenges you to do. Oh. don't know what He's challenging you to do?...)

TAKE TIME TO LISTEN!!!! (that's right. He loves that you talk to Him, but He would like to get a couple words in edgewise!)

SPICE IT UP! (don't get all boring on Him. Journal, dance, write! Interact with Him in different ways. Don't let things get all stagnant!)

You spent all this time and effort finding Jesus. Don't let Him get away from you! Invest a little bit into your relationship with Him too... You know, most perks in life come from not what you know, but who you know. He's a great ally to have in your corner. He's got the hook up on pretty much everything!

Perhaps you should try to date Jesus. Instead of just following Him.

what do you have to lose?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

| why Christians hate Gays |

Last week, my staff partner and I hosted a forum with our students. The point of this forum was to be able to get Christians and Non-Christians together to discuss some things. We wanted to have our students interact with non-believers and really explain their faith to people. One of the hardest things to do sometimes, is really explain what we believe and why we believe it. Lots of us have just been doing it for so long, that it just becomes a natural thing for us. Some of us could really use a chance to explore our faith, and ask some hard questions. To get back to point, one question really struck me, and I wanted to try and offer an answer to it. 


"Why do Christians hate Gay people so much? Why is it such a big deal to them?"

So, as a Christian I believe we're not supposed to hate anyone. I'm one of those "Hate the sin, don't hate the man" thinkers. I would hope that most Christians don't hate people who are homosexual. Why should we? Some of the nicest, and greatest contributers to society, are homosexual. The problem is that we take issue with their lifestyle. That's the safe answer. 

Here's the other part of that answer for me. (not the safe one)

As humans, we are quick to judge! We like to make ourselves feel better by pointing out faults that are in others, faults that we don't have to deal with. When we can see something that's wrong and know that we're not doing that thing, we have a sense of betterment. It's always a good feeling to know that: "I have some issues, but at least I'm not doing ". It is a confidence builder, it helps us justify our existences, and it really helps us downplay what we're actually doing that is wrong. 

I think that what happens is that most Christians have the luxury of not having homosexual ideas, tendencies, or desires. Seeing as that's something that we don't experience or "struggle with" (I say struggle, because if you were Christian and gay, there'd be a lot of things brought up to you that would cause you to constantly second guess yourself.) we find it easier to point that thing out in other people. It is MUCH easier to find fault in someone who's doing something that you have no problems with. If I were an alcoholic, I would never go out on the streets and protest against people frequenting bars. I wouldn't do it because it would speak too deeply to me! I would have to expose the fact that it's something that I am having problems with. I'd be afraid that any one of these people that I'm pointing my finger at, might have seen me at the bar last night, nursing my problems with the sauce. However, because I'm not a heavy drinker, I'd be ok with calling someone out for being at the bar everyday. 

I remember being a little kid, sitting in church, and being most uncomfortable when there was something talked about that pertained directly to me. The pastor would speak about how bad it was to skip church to watch football. Lots of people who were at church would agree with the pastor, except there'd be a few guys there that would squirm uncomfortably, because last week they were at home watching their favorite team notch that amazing victory. I would shift around in my seat, lightly sweating, waiting for the chance that he would start talking about a different set of church goers so that I would be able to partake in calling them out. 

Jesus preached a message of truth. We are called as Christians to be able to call someone out when we see them doing things that they have no business doing. Why aren't we caught out protesting infidels? Why aren't we rising up against those who are cheating the poor, those who are spreading lies in the world? 

The reason we aren't doing those things in such grand displays is because those people ARE US. Yup. Christians. We gripe about how we should keep the institution of marriage sacred. We make up A LARGE amount of the people who are getting divorces in this country. We don't step up against divorce├ęs because we are the ones getting divorced. We give up on the same institution that we're trying to protect. We are the ones who are addicts. We can't give up the pornography, we can't stop drinking, because we want to have a good time too. We are the ones who cut corners and cheat in small ways to get ahead in this crazy day and age. Christians are the ones putting out judgement and running from the same treatment when it can come our way. 

The one thing that most of us have though, is our sexuality. We can rally around the fact that most of us have never felt romantic feelings for someone of the same gender as us. So in that, we feel that we are most qualified to tell them that they're living in sin! Who better to call someone out, than someone who is on the other side.

I hope most Christians don't hate Homosexuals. I know that most Christians hate being seen for what we all really are. LIARS, HYPOCRITES, and people who need HELP! 

I need help everyday. I can guarantee you that every Christian that I know, and EVERY Christian that I don't know needs some kind of help too. I'm sorry that it's always safer to point out someone else's evil than to pay attention to our own.

Think about it...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

[ Umm...grateful? ]

This week being thanksgiving, I had a couple of random thoughts going through my head.

My pastor gave a sermon a few weeks ago, talking about thankfulness. As Christians, we have the great blessing of knowing who gives us our strength and help. Jesus provides for us even on the smallest levels. I am certainly aware of the fact that I didn't wake myself up this morning. I know that no matter how much I didn't want it to rain this morning, my wishes had no effect on whether or not a drop will fall from the sky (and I really wished hard for no rain!). All of the good things that happen to me are results of God's provision for me. I don't have to be reminded of that.

This week at church, we were taught about "The Leash". This was the idea that God is in control of EVERYTHING. God is even in control of Satan. *gasp!* (did he really just go there?.... Yup! I did, deal!) God is so powerful that even Satan has to check in with Him about the things that he does in and around the earth. (if you don't believe me, read the beginning of Job, playa...) The joy in this is that, even when bad things happen to us, we should be aware of the fact that no matter how bad things get, without Jesus' restrictions, things could be SO much worse! Who knows the depths of depair that we'd be facing if He didn't filter our troubles to only things we are ready/able to handle?

That being said, it makes me wonder why it's so hard to remember the good things in life. So often, when people ask me how my day has been; (and I actually feel like answering with something more substantial than just: "ok" or "good" ) I can easily rattle off a long list of all the things that annoyed me that day. I could tell smeone how many times I was screwed and exactly how that managed to happen. It's all too easy for me to recount my annoyances and the other problems that seemingly appeared out of nowhere, just to torment me.

Why isn't it something that resembles more thankfulness. Why am I not remembering all the ways that I was blessed in my situations? I think God would much rather us be able to give glory to Him by expressing joy about
His blessings throughout the craziness that happens to us. Why not have a story like: "I lost my wallet... But God helped guide me to it, or influenced someone to give it back to me.
Out of my mouth should be praises, not complaints. However, I find myself having to write down every positive experience or highlights.

My challenge, as we think about this season, and what we're really grateful for, is to change every negative thought about the day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Let's see if perhaps a change in our attitude can cause a change in the ways that we're ungrateful to God for the wsys that He is with us. Even thinking about it that way may enrich your relationship with Him, cause you're ready to accept His blessings even in the midst of trouble.

Besides, thinking negative things only brings us negativity...

I'm out...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

| yes/no? |

I've been hearing a lot about this prop 8 business. I doubt there's been a day in the past at least 8 days that I haven't either spoken about it. I've also found myself being asked by other people to even explain why a Christian would want to vote for it, instead of against it. Here's how I look at things... 


Here is the entirety of the content of Prop 8, according to the california voter information guide website:
"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

So this is what has people up in arms?! The Christian folk are all ready to straight up jump in people's faces and say, this is a huge abomination! I've seen more Christian people become mobilized around this particular proposition, than I've seen Christian people be willing to step out of their comfort zones and have a conversation with a non-Christian about their faith. It's so easy to get behind this thing, and get other people to vote yes on something, because this shows people who are living differently than what we believe is right, that we can take a stand for something. Apparently salvation of people's souls takes a back seat to the ways that we can show them our convictions for attempting to mess with marriage. (we'll show them, won't we?)

This is a great opportunity for the non-Christians and the homosexual community to show the world just how horrible we Christians and conservatives really can be. We're so bent on making them suffer, that we would fight as hard as we could, in order to strip them of basic human rights, guaranteed by the constitution. We don't want them to be anything like us, so we're denying them their human rights as citizens of California! How dare us....

I, for one, will be voting yes on proposition 8. If God wanted there to be marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, I think there would've been mention about it in the Bible. As it is, the only mention about those situations is that sex amongst someone of the same gender is something that is an abomination. Based on that, I would have to be against any law that was encouraging the following of a lifestyle that I knew was not traditional, nor could be seen as delighting in the eyes of Jesus. It's not that I'm hating on those people who are homosexual and want to have families. I'm am scared of the potential personal problem that I would have with the fact that I voted to ok gay marriage in California. 

Now, people would say to me. How is that fair? How are you showing Christian love by not being able/willing to give them the rights that tradionally married couples have. How are we making things equal with oppurtunities for all? This country was based on the idea of equality for everyone here right? How is it that God is present in the world, and doesn't allow for the openness to welcome others' lifestyle? How is it that He made homosexuals the way they are, but does not accept them as He made them?

My pastor had a great sermon this past week. It was about fairness vs. justice. 

fairness: opportunities available to everyone, provided that they all are starting from the same level, with the same circumstances, handicaps, and abilities. fairness is everyone getting the same thing.

justice: the administering of deserved punishments and rewards. Justice is everyone getting what is deserved.

The world does not care about fairness or justice. The world cares about convenience. Somtimes it is more convenient to be fair in a certain situation, sometimes it becomes convenient for us to pursue justice. 

So, I have to say. No it isn't fair that I don't want to allow people of the same sex to be able to marry each other. It isn't fair of me to want to help deny people some of the same rights. My response to that is, it's not fair that there are systems in place that are keeping the poor poorer. It's not fair that I know people who are working harder than lots of the ceo's in this country, but are poorer than some of the people in the nations that we so fairly neglect to help. It's not fair that although everyone in this country has the same opportunities to make something of themselves, the richest of us are not amongst minorities. Right now, it's not fair to not want homosexuals to marry, tomorrow it'll be something else that's unfair. 

I wanna tell you the truth about unfairness. It's unfair that an innocent man had to be spat upon, beat, and crucified for the fact that we were loved. It's unfair that there are definite truths that come out, in the form of the Bible, that people consider to only be trivial or entertaining stories. It's not fair that I get a label just because I tell someone that I'm a Christian. It's not fair that my children won't be able to hear anything about God in a publilc school, because that's not what the majority of people want to have their children hear about. Is it fair when all this Savior asks us to do is talk to people about who He is, that people get angry with us and call us to shut up about it? 

The Bible says that we are supposed to love Jesus more than everything else in our lives. So, speaking as a man who has a homosexual parent, and homosexual best friends, I must say that even though I love these people, I cannot go against what the Lord says is right. I'm not judging them, because ultimately it is up to them and God to decide what their salvation status is going to look like. It's not fair that I can't pray hard enough to get some of my friends and family into heaven. They have to do things for themselves, so that they can get there. I'm not sorry that I'm choosing God's ways instead of the ways of this world. I'm supposed to be in it and not of it.

It's not fair that because of these thoughts, I'll be considered to be close minded. It's not fair that even the most "enlightened" people, shall write me off for having done what they strive to do everyday, just express myself and expect to be left be to do that as much as I'd like. 

The bottom line for those people who are wanting to fight for this proposition not to pass is, things are not meant to be fair. It's not fair that you're fighting only for yourselves and not for the rights of all homosexuals everywhere to marry. Make a federal case, don't just fight on the level that'll allow you to marry who you want. What about the other people in this country who want the same thing? If we're going to do things for the sake of fairness, why don't we let fathers marry their daughters, or let brothers marry their cousins? If two people are really in love, who are we to say that two consenting adults can't be together under the law?  As long as they're in love, and are willing to commit to each other why would we try to stop them? I don't see people striving for incestual rights. 

prolly becuase once again, it's more convenient for the homosexual community right now to make a big stink. Remember, it was the majority vote in this state that people didn't want to let homosexuals marry, and 4 supreme court judges overturned the voice of a whole state of people. How is that fair in a democratic country?

Don't make the complaint about fairness. Jesus isn't a God of fairness and equality. He is a God of Justice. If He rewarded any of us based on what we deserve, I don't think that any of us would have very much. He works with each of us as we are and as we need. If He was really all about fairness, He'd treat us all the same, and would actually have just written us all off, as our forefathers had written Him off before. 

He still has mercy on all of us. Saved or unsaved. Think about fairness vs. justice. 

I'm voting yes on prop 8. God wouldn't stand for the desecration of marriage as an institution.

Here's to all of us getting Justice instead of fairness.

I'm out...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

| Instant Gratification |

I get so annoyed when I have issues with my internet! It took me a few tries with my web browser to get to this place so that I could blog tonight! It was freakin' destroying me that it wasn't coming up for me. You'd think I'd be able to just get right in, especially since I have dsl right? I mean, this isn't 1996, I'm not rollin with the dial up that my parents had. Things are supposed to move so much faster now right? Gosh.

That's just my problem though. I always want what I want, when I want it. I'm kind of a spokesperson of my generation though, I think. We definitely want things the way we want them, when we want them. Think about it! When we pray, we want the answer quickly and we want it to be clear. I don't know if it's the wisest thing to just give God time guidelines with my prayers, but I do it. Have you ever done that? Ever tried to give God a time ultimatum in prayers? "I need this to happen in the next couple of days God, or things are going to be messed up!"

Even the way that we evagelize is a bit like that sometimes. We think that we'll have that magical and fateful conversation with someone, where they will hear what the goodness of the gospel has to offer, and they'll fall in love with God just like we did! Is it wrong of me to want to be instantly amazingly effective in someone's life? Why don't I ever see impact like that with people I talk to? Is it because I'm horrible at evangelizing? *Shrug*

I think that the problem with instant gratification is that it really neglects the idea that patience is necessary! We have to be patient on God in all facets of our lives. His timing is not our timing, and remembering that can save a lot of us some grief. There's a reason that patience is a fruit of the spirit. It is an important trait to have some practice with. If you think about it, all of our faith is based on patience. We have to be patient for the day that we get to be reconciled with our Lord. We're patient in the fact that one day we will get to see heaven and want to be part of that. We're patient because of the belief that the way that we live today will produce some kind of reward for us once we get to heaven. We are supposed to be living with the idea that we're waiting for Jesus to come back to this world and restore His power and justice to a lost world.

For a religion that is based in so much patience, why do we have such a hard time waiting for things? Shouldn't we be in the practice of waiting on God for everything?

I'd say that we have to make a change in ourselves RIGHT NOW! That I want to see it IMMEDIATELY!

but I need to practice some patience...

I'm out...

Monday, August 18, 2008

| who's really in charge? |

Jesus is supposed to be the Lord of our lives...

Why is it that I feel that this is not the case? I feel like so often, I am the bottom line for decisions that need to be made. I'm the one who chooses what I do everyday. I choose my moods and I decide if I'm going to have a good day, a great day, or a crappy day. I decide what I want to do with my money, I decide if I even want to make money on a particular day. I get to make the rules for myself, and I choose whether or not I want to follow them or not. I have rights, I have privileges, and I can assign or retract both from my life as I deem necessary. I wake myself up in the morning and I put myself to sleep every night. I survive my days and my nights. I don't have to listen to anything that people say, because I am my own person. I stand on my own two feet. I look out for myself, no one else wants to do such things for me. I can't trust people, because they let me down.

When I was pledging for my fraternity, there was a rule that all the pledges had to adhere to. We were not allowed to refer to ourselves in the first person at all. This was crazy, most people thought. All the pledges had to refer to themselves in the third person only. That meant that we couldn't use the words: I, me, my, mine, or myself. This really drove my friends crazy, as well as my pledge brothers. It was really hard to see what the point of speaking in third person was. What I realized as we went on in this process, was the fact that there are a lot of times where we refer to ourselves in our everyday thoughts, prayers, or conversations. Having to change my pattern every time I was about to mention something about myself made me pay special attention to just how often I used such words. After a while, I realized that I was pretty self absorbed. Almost everything that came out of my mouth referred to me. I saw how easy it was to put myself into everything, and not to put God into anything.

One of the secrets that we like to hide from God and from each other sometimes is the fact that we like control. We like to be able to have control of all kinds of things. We like to control situations, feelings, and outcomes. Lots of times when we get frustrated about things, it is because we cannot control circumstances that surround us. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten angry because something did not go the way that I planned it, or something that I couldn't control hampered my plans. I think we like to have the last say in lots of things. We are raised in a society that is very individualistic, and we grow into these ideas that we are our number one priorities. We have to focus on how we feel, what we get out of things, how things affect us, etc. At work, I generally seem to get mad when people don't listen to me, because I have particular insights about things. We are so quick to be able to give 95% of things up to God (actually that might be pretty high), but there is that 5% that God is just not allowed to touch.

"It's better if I can handle that one God"

How much sense does that make? He created us, He provides for us, and we can't give Him everything? All He asks is that we trust Him, and allow Him to shoulder our burdens. What's better than being free of troubles, because we can give them up? We go through a lot of self inflicted suffering throughout our lives. This is mostly due to the fact that we have the mentality: "I've gotten myself into this, and I can get myself out of this." or "lemme try to fix things before I go to God about it". How often have I gone to people, complaining about the things that were going on with me, and how I couldn't do anything to change the situation, only to be met with the question: "have you prayed about it?" and me answering "not yet, I think I can figure this out". Why do we think we can figure out our own things? Why do we think that we can outwit God?! He gave us the intellect that we ABUSE most of the time.

What's the deal? What's holding us back from giving complete control of things over to God? What are we afraid of? It can't be that He will find out about the kind of people that we are, or the things we've done. If it is, I have a secret for you: HE ALREADY KNOWS! A lot of the time, we're so much harder on ourselves than God is on us. We are the ones that don't allow for forgiveness. He's all about forgiving people. We are the ones that hold on to sin and think that it somehow permanently damages us. He's quite the opposite! Once we ask for forgiveness, God completely writes things off as if they've never happened.We are made white as the freshly fallen snow in His eyes; Shouldn't that be enough for us!? How is it possible that we hold ourselves up to a higher standard than God does?

the answer is, for most of us, we are our own little gods...

time for a change yes? He is for us...For a reason!

Give up Lordship to the true Ruler and King of all creation.

I'm out...

 
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